Gunner and Castle Hero
1808 – 1855
On the evening of 18th November 1855 a piece of coal fell from the grate in the room of Ensign Fawkes, 90th Stirling Militia, in the Governor’s House in the barracks of the old part of Stirling Castle. By 11.00 p.m. the entire room was on fire, with the flames spreading fast. Lack of light and water hampered the rescue effort and before long there were fears that the entire Castle would be overcome.
One of the powder magazines was situated next to the burning building and many of the residents of the top of the town area abandoned their homes and fled to friends in other parts of Stirling. Their fears were misplaced however, as the main powder stores were situated further down the rock. If the fire had reached the stores, as the Stirling Journal noted at the time, ‘…the result would have been the almost total destruction of all the buildings within a long distance of the Castle.’ As it was, the famed Douglas Room was totally destroyed, and damage to the Castle was estimated to be in the region of over £1000.
That the fire did not spread any further was due in no small measure to several of the Militia, one of whom was Gunner Charles Haimes. A native of Staffordshire, Gunner Haimes had been billeted at Stirling for eight years; his army career in the Royal Artillery had taken him to Woolwich, Cork, and as far afield as Bermuda. Gunner Haimes was in charge of the Armoury and, realising the outcome should the flames reach the powder store, spared no effort in ensuring they did not. Soon after, he contracted a fever caused by overexertion and exposure and died on December 1st at the age of only 47. A full military funeral was held for him and he is buried here in the Old Town Graveyard. He left a widow, Jane, and nine children, the youngest of whom, James, celebrated his first birthday on the day that his father died. A public subscription was set up for Jane and her family, who later emigrated to America, but it was insufficient to erect a gravestone. He is buried in the old military burial ground at the west end of the “Pithy Mary.”
1840 – 1914
Leon Jablonski Platt was Stirling’s first resident dentist and set up in business in 1861.
Despite his Christian names, L. J. Platt came from a family of English musicians on his father’s side and Scottish vintners on his mother’s. He was born in Edinburgh in 1840, the twelfth of fifteen children of whom only two survived to adulthood. His aunt, Sophia Platt, married a Polish gentleman, Leon Jablonski, after whom L. J. Platt may have been called, although he was born two years before that marriage took place.
Leon studied dentistry at Edinburgh University and came to Stirling in February 1861 where for the course of his career his practice was at 44 Murray Place.
Poor oral hygiene concerned him to the extent that within a year of his arrival in Stirling he had produced his first book – ‘The Domestic Guide to a Good Set of Teeth’.
He held surgeries in Dunfermline and Crieff, and his Stirling practice included members of the Drummond and Shearer families. These are carefully noted in Mr Platt’s ‘Professional Diary’ but his staff were less discreet , referring to other patients as ‘Mr Humphyback’, ‘Mrs Dirty Face’, and the easily-imagined ‘Mrs Hatchetface’. Treatment ranged from a modest ‘Repair’ costing 3/6d to a full set of gold teeth at £25.
Having acquired a business partner, R K Common, some years previously Mr Platt retired in 1901; he bought ‘The Birches’ in Victoria Place in whose 14 rooms he was able to display his collection of paintings and ‘objets d’art’. An enthusiastic numismatist, he wrote ‘The First Silver Coinage of Rome’, then the definitive work of its kind.
Mr Platt died on 15th September 1914. He left his books to the Public Library and his collection of ‘objets d’art’ to the Smith Institute. At the outbreak of World War One the Institute was commissioned for military purposes and was unable to accept the bequest. Afterwards, the Minutes note sadly that the collection was too great for the Museum’s storage capacity; although Mr Platt’s collection of paintings is in the Smith, most of the ‘objets’ were sold and the collection was scattered.
Currently the firm of Platt and Common continues to care for Stirling’s teeth, and this handsome memorial, with its monogrammed cradle, is the resting place of one who strove to improve the health and well-being of earlier residents of the Royal Burgh.
1891 – 1987
Alice Marshall, buried here with her parents, was a pioneer not only of women in medicine but of female doctors working in hospitals.
A ‘Daughter of the Rock’, Alice Julia Marshall was born at 31 Snowdon Place in April 1891. Her father, David, was a dentist. Dr Marshall attended Glasgow University where she graduated M.B., Ch.B in 1917. After graduation, she joined the staff of the Pathology Department of Glasgow Royal Infirmary, where she spent her entire career. Her speciality was gynaecological pathology: following the death of a leading pathologist she completed and edited his partially-finished work on the subject, which became a standard text-book of its time. Dr Marshall was also instrumental in providing a blood transfusion service for Glasgow Royal Infirmary, well before the now familiar Blood Transfusion Service came into being. A lively lady, Dr Marshall took an active role in the Women’s Medical Federation: she was renowned for her hospitality, and held parties in her home for her friends and former colleagues until she was in her 90s.
1889 – 1912
April 2002 marked the 90th anniversary of the sinking of the ‘Titanic’, the pride of the White Star Line which sank on her maiden voyage. One of the hundreds of casualties was William Moyes, Senior Sixth Engineer. Along with his professional colleagues, William remained at his post against orders to leave, working the dynamos which kept the ship’s lights burning, to give as many people as possible the chance of safety. Both William and his father Alexander were well-known local figures, William (known as Billie) having captained the High School of Stirling FP Rugby Club for several years, and his father in his capacity of Headmaster of the High School’s Primary Department.
The Moyes family lived in Cambusbarron, and at a ceremony on 14th April 2002, a memorial plaque was unveiled at their former home.
First Curator of the Smith Institute (now the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum)
1809 – 1885
Alexander Croall, who was the first Curator of the Smith Institute, was born in Brechin in 1809 and became a teacher. He held posts in and around the Montrose area and also in Ardersier, Inverness-shire, where he met his wife Mary MacKay.
While in Angus, he became involved with the newly opened Museum at Montrose A knowledgeable botanist with a particular enthusiasm for seaweed, he published an innovative, four-volume work on the subject. He was known locally as ‘Roosty Tangle’. Such was his reputation as a botanist, while still a schoolmaster in the tiny hamlet of Guthrie, he was invited by Sir William Hutton, Director of Kew Gardens, to compile a herbarium of the wild flowers around Balmoral for Queen Victoria.
In 1863 he became the first Librarian with Derby Museums and from there he came to Stirling in 1874. A Trust set up by artist Thomas Stuart Smith (whose memorial stone is in the Church of the Holy Rude) had provided funding for a museum, art gallery and reading room in the town. In addition to the work incumbent on the curator of a newly-established Institution, Mr Croall lectured in Botany at the High School of Stirling, and founded the Stirling Field Club, which continues today as the Stirling Field and Archaeological Society. Following failing health, Mr Croall died at the Smith in 1885 and was succeeded by James Sword, the Depute Procurator Fiscal of Stirling, who had provided considerable help and support to Mr Croall for some years. James Sword married Alexander’s second daughter Margaret the following year, and had a family of four.
Founder of Stirling Children’s Home
1854 – 1927
Annie Croall came to Stirling in 1874, when her father took up his appointment as Curator of the Smith Institute. After her arrival she involved herself in charitable work among local indigent women and children and she was the driving force behind the formation of a Young Women’s Evangelistic Mission. She later concentrated on care of children, and in the 1890s opened the Stirling Children’s Home in Whinwell House, Upper Bridge Street.
Not all the children who found their way to Whinwell were local; many came from other parts of Scotland on the recommendation of a minister or a Medical Officer of Health, or because their parents, for various reasons, were unable to cope. One young newly bereaved father kept in close touch with Annie until he was able to have his children back home. In a letter of 24 August 1910, he told Annie of his intention of remarrying and his wish to collect his children as soon as possible. ‘I am getting a nice motherly woman,’ he assured Annie, ‘very fond of children and an aunt of my landlady.’
No official funding came Annie’s way so parents or local authorities had to make a contribution to the children’s upkeep, and regular fund-raising was carried out in Stirling and the surrounding area.
Under the auspices of the Scottish National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, many children in care in Scotland were sent abroad to Canada, America or Australia, to what were considered to be caring Christian homes where they would be given the best possible chance. This contentious issue has been well-aired recently, but Annie genuinely felt that ‘Emigration confers upon the children themselves unspeakable blessings,’ regarding it as ‘Such a splendid chance for these wee mites.’
Annie cared for her charges until her death in 1927. The Home, by then under a Board of Trustees, carried on her work until 1980 when legislation deemed institutional care unsuitable. The property was bought by the Aberlour Trust, a Scottish charity involved in childcare, and the Home was closed. In time, the house and land were sold to property developers and a small housing estate was built in the 1990s. The street leading up to the estate is called Whinwell Road, all that now remains of Annie Croall and the Stirling Children’s Home.
1846 – 1943
The eldest son of Donald and Catherine McLaren was born at Craigford, Bannockburn in December 1846. He showed an aptitude for horticulture and trained as a gardener, firstly at Bannockburn House and then at Blair Drummond House. He later found work in Edinburgh, which enabled him to attend classes at the Royal Botanic Gardens where he met his wife.
John McLaren left Scotland in 1872 at the invitation of W.H. Howard, a wealthy Californian landowner, for whom John McLaren built up an estate on the San Mateo peninsula. He remained with Howard until 1887 when, his reputation as a horticulturist firmly established, he was appointed superintendent of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. At that point, the site comprised 1000 acres of little more than sand dunes but by 1900 McLaren had transformed it into one of the world’s most beautiful parks. His great love was for trees of all types, and he utilised them extensively in his work.
Compulsory retirement at 70 held no joy for him but there was such a public outcry at the prospect of the highly respected gardener being forcibly retired that the powers-that-be relented and John was given life tenure as Superintendent of Parks. In 1927 a new park was named after him, and 13th June designated an annual ‘John McLaren’ day. John’s wife and their only son predeceased him by several years; John himself died in January 1943 in the park grounds where he and his wife had lived and he was buried at Cypress Lawn Cemetery.
1836 – 1894
En route to the cemetery, visitors to the Royal Burgh may have passed the Crawford Arcade in King Street. Linking King Street with Murray Place, the Arcade was the idea of William Crawford, an early property speculator and owner of a ‘china emporium’ in Stirling.
A native of Dunblane, William Crawford spent most of his childhood in Deanston, where his father was a mill foreman. A moulder by trade, William worked in Egypt for a firm of Liverpool engineers and on his return to Scotland married a Glasgow lass, Margaret McKenzie, and set up a china merchant’s business in the city. William returned to the Stirling area in 1872 with Margaret and their first son, David, and opened another china shop.
This was in Baker Street, near what is now the Hog’s Head pub at the corner of Friar Street. Realising the value of property William purchased extensively in the area and built a number of shops in Murray Place. He was also responsible for building the County Club, for many years a meeting place for the businessmen of the town at the corner of Murray Place and Station Road.
Amongst his other purchases were properties in King Street and Murray Place, and in 1879 work started on the Arcade, which consists of two malls leading to a communal central square. In all, there were two hotels, a theatre, thirty-nine shops and six dwelling houses. The Arcade Theatre hosted a variety of performances ranging from music hall to traditional pantomime, and could boast of appearances by Scottish favourites such as Will Fyffe and Harry Lauder. Its name was changed to the Alhambra Theatre in the 1930s but it closed in the 1950s, when its narrow stairs and passages were defeated by Public Safety regulations. The Arcade itself has undergone two recent ‘facelifts’ and with its light, airy appearance is still is an attractive building, a handsome testimonial to William Crawford, china merchant.
1827 – 1857
Mrs Mackison’s unhappy claim to fame is that hers was the first burial in the new cemetery after its opening in 1857. She was married to Francis Mackison, a local architect of note, some of whose work can be seen in Bridge of Allan and Menstrie. He was responsible for part of the alterations to Cowane’s Hospital in 1852 and many of the houses in the King’s Park area of Stirling are examples of his handiwork.
1803 – 1881 and 1807 – 1890
St Columba’s Church stands at the end of Park Terrace, next to the Black Boy gardens. Its original name was the Peter Memorial Church, and it was built with funds from the estate of Ellen Peter, widow of Robert Peter, a former cabinet-maker. Mr Peter died in 1881, his widow 10 years later.
In her will, Ellen specified that her estate was to be used to build a church ‘in or near the King’s Park or Southfield’ to be used as a place of worship for the Free Church. The reason for such a specific site was that the Free North Church, in Murray Place, of which Robert and Ellen Peter had been members since 1851, was felt by Ellen to be inconveniently situated and that the access to the church, by means of a steep flight of stairs, was difficult for the elderly and infirm.
The new church did not open until September 1902 and although the newspaper report of the event is scathing in its comments on the quality of the inaugural sermon, it makes no reference to either Robert or Ellen, whose generosity caused the church to be there. The sermon the following Sunday made veiled remarks which suggest there had been some misgivings over the bequest.
Jeems, whose obituary appeared in the same edition of the local newspaper as the report on the opening, offered his view, written some years previously:
The Peter Bequest
O what a fecht ower a wee pickle siller,
They say has been made by gill stoup and filler.
It’s strange hoo when siller is got by some quirk,
It’s maistlins aye left for the guid o’ the Kirk.
For guid o’ the Kirk! It’s ill I am thinkin’,
A kirk ne’er will stand when made frae the drinkin’.
The Kirk has a penchan, no easy tae fill,
And no’ very particular, though made frae a gill,
. The siller, the siller.
“Take warning in time, and decline the bequest,
And the souls o’ the dead will then be at rest;
The friends o’ auld Peter will then get their shares;
All heaven will rejoice and answer your prayers:
For is it not said in God’s most holy Word,
‘Who gives to the poor he but lends to the Lord’?”
The chairman near fainted, the clerk he looked blae,
The pro re nata meeting was adjourned sine die.
The siller, the siller.
His hint that Robert Peter had made his money via the Licensed Trade i.e. public houses was fairly near the truth as a hotel owned by Robert in Belfast was renowned for its liberal interpretation of the local licensing laws. Problems associated with alcohol abuse had resulted in the forming of the Temperance Movement and the misuse of alcohol was frowned upon by the Church of Scotland. Nevertheless the Church’s disapproval did not hinder it from accepting the bequest.
1811 – 1846
The douce locality of Stirling’s Old Town Cemetery seems an unlikely spot in which to find a connection with the infamous Butch Cassidy, but connection there is, albeit somewhat tenuous.
In 1825, the custodian in Doune Castle was Daniel Sinclair. He brought up his family in the village, where one of his daughters married Robert Gillies. When in 1840 the first missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons) arrived in Scotland, one of them, Robert Menzies, found himself in Doune. Such was Menzies’ enthusiasm and persuasiveness that the entire Sinclair family (including the young Mrs Gillies) was converted to the new faith. A second Sinclair daughter married John Macfarlane; he died in Stirling and his widow emigrated with her children to the United States of America, home of Mormonism. Ten years later the Gillies family, including their 12-year-old daughter, also left for America and in due course this daughter became the wife of Maximillian Parker. Their son Robert Leroy Parker was born in Utah in 1866; he changed his name to Butch Cassidy and became renowned as a horse thief, cattle rustler, and bank robber. The date of his death is unknown.
Descendants of Butch Cassidy’s great- uncle, John Macfarlane, erected this stone.
Although his name does not appear on it, this handsome stone marks the resting place of Houston Paterson, a young local lad who died in tragic circumstances.
In the early afternoon of New Year’s Day 1831, eleven-year old Houston was playing with some friends on the ice at the unfenced Burgh Mill dam (at the rear of what is now the Thistle Centre). Unfortunately, a thaw had set in the previous day, and as the youngsters cheerfully slid and slithered about, the ice gave way and one of the lads fell through. Unhesitatingly, Houston rushed to help his friend, a boy named Tait, but his weight was too much for the thinning ice and he too went in. With the help of bystander Mr McVey, a weaver, Tait was pulled free of the freezing water, but by then Houston had slid right underneath the ice. Although he could be seen struggling, he was out of reach of any help and only after the dam had been drained could his body be retrieved. Houston was the elder son of Houston Paterson, a joiner, and his wife Susan MacLachlan who lived in Spittal Street. It is ironic that, in a period of high child mortality, Houston should have survived the usual childhood fatalities and perished in such a way.
The stone was the property of Robert Taylor, a mason in the burgh. In Stirlingshire it was not uncommon for the well-to-do to have their gravestone set up during their own lifetime, so that the stone could be shown off and admired as an indication of the owner’s wealth and standing.
Emblems of trade date back to Roman times but in Scotland date only from the seventeenth century. Even after a period of well over two hundred years, the symbols here show clearly the wedges, mell, and other tools of a mason’s trade.
According to the Stirling Old Parish Records, others, outwith the Taylor family, also lie at rest here.
Mary Stevenson, the widow of Joseph Witherspoon a Stirling stonemason, died of dropsy on the 16th of November 1822. She was fifty five.
She was buried three days later in a lair belonging to James Livingston, her brother in law. Helping at the graveside was James McNab, the town’s gravedigger.
Two or three evenings later, McNab opened up the lair again – he and a friend Daniel Mitchell were about to steal the body of Mary for dissection by John Forrest, a local medical student.
McNab and Mitchell were not very successful and were soon caught. They appeared a few weeks later before the Justiciary court in the courthouse behind the Tolbooth. The indictment also contained the name of John Forrest, who by this time was apparently on the continent. This meant that the indictment was suspended and the two men were sent down to the cells.
This was meant to be only a temporary measure but the two men should have been re-charged. The authorities failed to do this and later in the evening the jailer released the two men.
When word of their release spread, a mob armed with sticks and stones gathered outside McNab’s house (where the modern extension to the Municipal Buildings stands).
The town’s sole policeman bravely marched through the mob, arrested McNab for his own safety and took him back to prison.
Mitchell, meantime, had fled over the rooftops from his lodgings near the Tolbooth just before the mob broke in. He too was escorted back to the prison with the assistance of a magistrate and soldiers from the castle. They were armed with loaded muskets and fixed bayonets but unfortunately many were the worse for drink.
They formed up across Jail Wynd and as the mob surged forward, one of the soldiers fell. A shot was fired and a full-scale riot ensued.
Stones were thrown and members of the mob launched themselves at the military with sticks and cudgels. Many more shots were fired, rifle butts and bayonets were freely used and a running battle took place up and down St.John Street, fortunately without serious casualties.
The stone on James Livingston’s lair is obviously an older one with later initials. It shows a grim reaper with gravediggers spade and a recumbent woman…
1785 – 1868
One of the more colourful characters in this graveyard is John Macfarlane.
John Macfarlane was born in Stirling in 1785. He became a merchant and made his fortune in Glasgow and Manchester, but settled in nearby Bridge of Allan when he retired. A keen natural historian, he built, equipped and filled a Natural History Museum in 1843 entirely at his own expense; in 1887, several years after his death, a new Museum Hall was built from Macfarlane funds which served the dual purpose of housing the ever-growing Natural History collection and of providing a local concert hall. The collection was broken up in the 1930s, but the hall continued to be the cultural centre of the area until subsidence forced its closure in 1979. Among the more famous performers to grace the Museum Hall stage were the Beatles, who appeared there in 1963. The shell of the Museum Hall still stands opposite the Pullar Memorial Garden in Bridge of Allan and currently is scheduled for redevelopment.
In 1855 John Macfarlane established a Free Library in Stirling. He also contributed liberally to the funds to build the High School of Stirling and, as one of the original proposers, subscribed handsomely to the National Wallace Monument fund. A staunch supporter of the Stirling regatta, he conceived plans to provide gondolas on the River Forth, to open tea gardens at Cambuskenneth, to establish a school of design for local artisans, to enlarge Stirling Harbour, and to build a suspension bridge from what is now Corn Exchange Road to Cambuskenneth. None of these plans were realised, nor was his ambitious scheme to open a ship canal between Dunmore and Loch Lomond. In John Macfarlane’s view, these would have provided inestimable benefits to Stirling but, like John Macfarlane himself, his visions were ahead of their time.
1779-1846 and 1792-1855
Long before the establishment of supermarket chains, Stirling had its own version in the firm of D and J MacEwen.
Daniel and James MacEwen commenced operation as grocers in Broad Street in Stirling and quickly gained a reputation for integrity when dealing with their customers and for quality goods at fair prices. As the town centre gradually moved from close to the castle down to its present area along Port Street and Murray Place so did their business. Over the time span of the company’s existence – well over a century and half – they expanded to branches throughout Perthshire and Stirlingshire and as far north as Inverness.
As well as grocery items, from early in their existence they were running an important grain, fertiliser and animal feed business, importing guano from Peru for use on farmlands throughout the country.
The original grocery trade was not neglected in this international trade and by the 1830’s the company was importing tea direct from China into Stirling’s harbour. Later on they were exporting their own blend of whisky – Sterlini which was named after the town – to places such as Canada, India and Africa, as well as acting as agents for various distilleries.
The company eventually folded and with it went a way of life. Days when grocers could cut an exact pound of butter from a cask by hand and when it was worth a trip to Stirling to linger at their shop doorway, just to smell the rich aroma of coffee beans.
Nevertheless this lair contains members of a family who helped shape the grocery and licensed trade throughout Scotland.
1838 – 1925
“Hey mister, what’s a banana?”
As Chief Engineer on the White Star Line’s ocean steamers ‘British Queen’ and ‘British King’, John Kennedy sailed to places most people of his generation only read about. He was Chief Engineer on the vessel which took Henry Stanley out to Africa in search of David Livingston, and had the privilege of servicing and selling coal for the new steam pinnace used by Stanley to sail up the Zambesi. John carried the officers of the ill-fated Ashanti Expedition out to the west coast of Africa at the beginning of the war in Ashanti.
He was also Chief Engineer on the first ship to bring frozen meat from New Zealand as well as preserved fruit such as bananas. These were unknown in this country, hence the caption. While on home leave in Culzean Cottage, Airdrie, John had a constant stream of youngsters arriving at his door asking to see the marvel, after his young nephews and nieces regaled their friends with tales of their Uncle’s bananas.
John married a Stirling woman, Margaret McAllan, and the worn sandstone monument immediately to the left of this stone marks the family plot. Margaret’s father, John McAllan, was a manufacturer in Stirling; his father-in-law William Mitchell was a dyer. Other members of the family are also buried here.
1835 – 1912
Stirling has a distinguished history as a military town, being at times the centre for the raising of various regiments and from the early 1880’s, the home of Princess Louise’s Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. It has also been home to a large ordnance depot and a military prison.
Indeed a walk through the cemeteries shows this to advantage, with many stones displaying names, regiments and details of long forgotten campaigns.
Stones include those erected by the War Graves Commission and by various regiments as well as many private stones. They are a fascinating record of the many campaigns of the British Army from the foundation of the extended cemetery until the present day.
One such stone is that of Matthew Desmond Murphy, one of the last survivors of the famous ‘Thin Red Line’, that remnant of the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders which repulsed the might of the Russian Cavalry during the Battle of Balaclava in 1854. After later service with the regiment in Aberdeen, he came to Stirling where he lived until his death in 1912.
The 93rd Sutherland Highlanders became part of Stirling’s regiment, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, who sponsored this headstone erected to Matthew Murphy’s memory.
1570 – 1633
John Cowane, Stirling’s greatest benefactor was born in 1570 a contemporary of William Shakespeare and Guy Fawkes. In all probability he was born at home in what is known as John Cowane’s house in Saint Mary’s Wynd.
Little is known of what the young Cowane did in his early years. What is certain is that he would have attended the local school – all sons of the Guildry did and his father Andrew would have made sure he was a diligent pupil. His father was a merchant, burgess and indweller in Stirling and a prominent man. He and his wife supplied the Royal Palace in Stirling with goods and their premises would have been the Harrods of the day. John was in business with his father until the latters death in 1617, when, John took over all of his father’s business including running his booth or shop in what is now Broad Street.
Records also show that John Cowane was involved in more than simply selling goods in his booth. He was a sunstantial landlord in the town and was not averse to evicting non-paying tennants if the rent was not paid. He was a member of the town council and on more than one occasion Dean of the Guild, the real source of power in the burgh at that time. As Chair of the Council and Dean of the Guild, John Cowane was in a position to regulate trade and dictate who traded in the burgh – a powerful man. This was accentuated as he was also the main banker/money lender in the town.
In addition to his political activities (he was a member of the old Scots Parliment) John Cowane was heavily involved in shipping, which was always necessary for a merchant to reach the main Scots export markets of the Low Counties. He could not always rely on trading to make him rich and with empty ships he also acted as a privateer – essentially a pirate with a license.
Although John Cowane did not marry, Kirk records show he did have at least one child by a maid servant. he was fined by the session for his indescretion, which was no harship for him. The poor girl however was made to sit outside the door of the Kirk to do public penance. John’s son did not inherit his father’s business sense and had to rely on his father’s charity for the rest of his life.
John Cowane was a trader, landlord, banker, ship owner, privateer and politician but he is most remembered for his charity, the ideas for which were all devised on his death bed. He gave the funds that built and have sustained Cowane’s Trust to this day and his presense remains as his statue known locally as ‘Auld Staneybreeks’ gazes from his beloved hospital over the Holy Rude and the graveyard where he lies.
1858 – 1916
The building in Port Street currently occupied by chain-store Marks and Spencer was once the premises of a Stirling firm which enjoyed a world-wide reputation for the excellence of its splendid carriages.
The firm of William Kinross and Sons, Stirling, was founded in 1802 by William Croall (no relation, as far as can be ascertained at present, to Alexander Croall of the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum) and Henry Kinross, who established a coachworks near Shore Road. William Croall’s sons left the firm to set up business in Edinburgh, and Henry Kinross assumed control of the firm. He rapidly built up a reputation for innovative design and good workmanship, his enterprise being recognised in 1837 with the appointment ‘Coachmaker to Queen Victoria’. When Her Majesty visited Stirling in 1842, the Royal party was followed by a Kinross coach, specially built to carry seventy passengers. During this period, one of Henry’s apprentices was Charles Randolph, who later became a pioneer in marine engineering.
Henry’s nephew William took over the business after Henry’s death in 1845 and continued to expand the firm. After successfully exhibiting in London at the Great Exhibition of 1851 the firm began exporting their coaches and carriages overseas, moving to the larger premises in Port Street in 1865 to cope with demand. Much of their success also was due to the opening of the Scottish Central Railway Company’s line through Stirling, which resulted in a comfortably full order book for Kinross. Willam died in 1874 and his two sons George and James took control, eventually moving away from the manufacture of the stately coach to the horseless carriage. The Henry Kinross buried here is a descendant of the founder of the firm.
The firm moved out to St Ninians in the 1960s and closed shortly after.
When the Valley Cemetery opened in 1857, the event was marked by the unveiling of a statue of the Reverend Dr James Guthrie, one of the most important ministers in Scotland during the Covenanting era. This statue was paid for by public subscription, but five others, all of major Scottish Presbyterians, were paid for by William Drummond. All were carved by Handyside Ritchie and can be seen at various parts of the graveyard.
James Guthrie was the eldest son of the Laird of Guthrie, a small parish in Forfar. He studied philosophy at the University of St. Andrews, where he later taught theology. From there, he was called to the charge of Lauder, where he succeeded the Reverend John Knox, grand-nephew of the Reformer whose statue now stands beside that of Guthrie. In his seven years in Lauder, Guthrie was very active in the Covenanting cause and was strongly opposed to the efforts of both Charles l and Charles II to impose Episcopal forms of worship on the Presbyterian Church of Scotland.
Guthrie accepted the call to Stirling in 1649, where he remained for ten years. During this time his uncompromising stance on his religious convictions led to the physical division of the Church of the Holy Rude into the East and West Churches. On the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660, Charles 2nd ordered the execution of James Guthrie.
As the son of a Laird, James Guthrie had the right to die by the axe rather than the noose, but his sentence condemned him to the gallows. He was hanged in Edinburgh on June 1st 1661, and his severed head was displayed in the Netherbow Port for twenty-seven years until removed by Alexander Hamilton, another Stirling minister. Hamilton found Guthrie’s final sermon in the manse years later; it was published under the title ‘A Cry from the Dead’ by Ebenezer Erskine, the Stirling minister who founded the Secession Church. Guthrie’s portrait, chair, and ring are now in safe keeping at the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum.
Separated by a driveway from the Valley Cemetery, the Drummond Pleasure Ground was laid out as a setting for the Star Pyramid which is a massive sandstone ashlar pyramid which dominates this area, standing on a stone stepped base upon a shaped grassy mound. Marble Bibles rest on the base of each face of the pyramid, which is also carved with references to Biblical texts.
The pyramid is enclosed by wrought iron railings, with stone steps to S flanked by 2 stone globes (once surmounted by bronze eagles). A Bible and Confession of Faith were sealed into an inner chamber in the pyramid. The Pithy Mary pond lies to the W of the Star Pyramid with bridge of wrought / cast iron work including later repair work and a grassed slope beyond to the W with lawn and deliberately placed rocks. There are no gravestones within Drummond Pleasure Ground other than William Drummond’s sarcophagus to the NW of the pyramid; polished grey granite inscribed ‘Born 14 February 1793 Died 25th November 1888′ on its stepped base.
Outside the church is the Valley Cemetery. In past times was the site of jousting tournaments and markets. The Cemetery has a Pyramid, built by William Drummond in 1863.
William Drummond was a land surveyor and nurseryman whose immediate descendants were a well known family in Stirling. They were responsible for a wide range of activities both locally and nationally. These included the establishment of an agricultural museum in the 1830’s, an extensive seed and nursery business, exploration in Africa and the Drummond Tract Enterprise, the foremost 19th century publisher of religious pamphlets.
William was the eldest son of the well-known Stirling family which included Peter Drummond and his nephew Henry. He was one of the instigators of the Valley Cemetery and his obsession with religion can be seen in the Martyrs’ Monument and the Star Pyramid (also known as Salem Rock).
He commissioned the Star Pyramid from William Barclay in 1863 – note the white marble Bibles incorporated by Barclay round the base of the edifice and the names of religious tracts (published by his brother Peter’s “Drummond Tract Enterprise”). The Pyramid is dedicated to all those who suffered martyrdom in the cause of civil and religious liberty in Scotland.William planted a Pleasure Garden round the Pyramid, complete with trees and plants. He also paid for five of the six statues seen in various parts of the graveyard and donated trees to be planted round the National Wallace Monument.
This area was laid out as a public pleasure ground by local nurseryman and evangelist, William Drummond. The Star Pyramid, with its texts and emblems, was nearing completion in April 1863, when a bible and the Confession of faith were sealed into a chamber within the structure. It recalls the principles of the Reformation and publicised the famous Drummond Tract Enterprises.
The pyramid is on a raised plinth of 4 steps and has a set of steps leading to it. Each of the faces are very similar. On one face is a circular marble plaque, the text of which is very worn and some of the lower part is readable.
Each of the sides has (from bottom to top):
- sunken relief text with a reference to verses from the Psalms:
- Union Banner, XLV CIII
- Rock of Ages, XCV
- Covenant Rest, CXXXII CXLV
- Thrown of Right, XCVI XCVII
- marble bible
- carved circular rosette
This slab stone, enclosed by a low parapet, is one of four stones all erected for members of the Gibb family. The panel bears a shield charged with the name Gibb. The original dedication appears to have been erased and a new inscription commemorating James Gibb can be seen. The pick, mallet and chisel indicate a miner or quarryman. A later Gibb descendant was a merchant of some standing indicated by the reverse 4 which can be seen on the broad slab stone nearby.
This rocky spot is said to derive its name from its proximity to the original ‘Valley’, a hollow (now part of the graveyard) reputed to have been used for tournaments and sporting events throughout the reigns of the Stuart monarchs. Ladies of the Royal Court in Stirling Castle used this convenient observatory from where they could safely watch the sporting spectaculars.
Funding for an indicator to identify the prominent features of the surrounding countryside was offered to Stirling Town Council in 1889 by Mr William Connal of Solsgirth, an estate nestling on the borders of Clackmannanshire, Fife and Perthshire. After some deliberation, the Council eventually accepted Mr Connal’s generous offer and commissioned James Shearer to produce a suitable chart. This was, reported ‘The Stirling Journal’, ‘executed in an excellent manner’ and ‘seems in every way to answer admirably the purpose for which it is intended.’ The newspaper also reported that on 12th August 1890 the indicator was ‘formally inaugurated by the Provost, Magistrates and Town Councillors’, a task which demanded no more of the town elders than merely looking at it. The present indicator is not the original.
One of the most unusual stones is the ‘Service Stone’ .At one time it was thought to bear the date 1629 but was later re-appraised as being 1697. However more recent research by Willsher and Hunter and John Harrison dates the stone as 1636.
This rectangular slab was topped by a semicircular piece of stone and the whole is carved with a variety of scrolls and strap work showing angelic figures and tools. Look out for the face covered as if in horror pointing to a sundial and the hourglass on the ground. Children are often intrigued by this stone as the base looks like a coffin covered by a mort cloth which is pulled to the side revealing a skull. At the sides and bottom there are little ‘hands’ and ‘feet’ as if there was a ‘body’ underneath.
Death in all its glory is reflected by the quotation from Job but in the end the higher life is deemed to be the desired end. John Service erected the stone in memory of his father John Service and his mother Bessie Ewing. The inscription is now obscured and damaged, particularly by a number of circular dents believed to have been caused by musket fire, which taking into account the re-dating to 1636, would suggest that this occurred during Monk’s siege of Stirling Castle in 1651.
This Renaissance wall-monument (the largest in the Holy Rude Kirk yard) is a very elaborate memorial to a family founded by John McCulloch, former provost and noted merchant of Stirling, and his wife Agnes although her name does not appear. One of John McCulloch’s daughters married John Sconce, a name that is associated with several men of note in the town’s history, amongst them Sheriff Substitute Robert Sconce whose stone lies in front of the wall monument.
From this wall monument, with its ornate consoles, strap-work, emblems of mortality, cherub with swags of fruit and flowers, and inscriptions, we can see and read of the typical attitudes to death in that era. Much of the original inscription is in a poor condition but the metal plaque fixed to the side of the monument gives a clear transcription.
Some wall monuments were lost when the old Kirk yard wall was demolished in 1857. The Stirling Smith has an 1833 painting by Robert Mitchell (a Stirling based painter also buried in this cemetery) that shows that this was the largest of the wall monuments as does one of the engravings by Robert Chambers, published in 1830.
The two girls belonged to Wigtonshire, the daughters of Gilbert Wilson, a committed Episcopalian. Despite this, the sisters were followers of the Covenanters, an extreme Presbyterian group strongly opposed to the Anglican reforms of Charles II. Margaret and Agnes, aged 18 and 13 respectively, were arrested for their beliefs and along with Margaret McLauchlan, an elderly neighbour, tried for and found guilty of high treason. All three were sentenced to death by drowning. Agnes’s father was able to buy her freedom but despite a temporary reprieve the others were led to a point below high water mark on the treacherous Solway Firth, tied to stakes, and left to drown in the incoming tide. Margaret McLauchlan, by then in her late 60s, had no resistance to the powerful current and soon succumbed to its force. Margaret Wilson was offered her freedom, but refused to relinquish her convictions and died for her faith on May 11th 1685.
The marble group was commissioned from Handyside Ritchie (the sculptor of all the statues in the graveyard and of ‘Wee Wallace’ on the canopy of the Athenaeum in King Street) by William Drummond, a brother of Peter Drummond. It was erected in 1859, without its protective cupola. The cupola was designed by John Rochhead, famous for his design of the National Wallace Monument on Abbey Craig, and it was cast at the Sun Foundry in Glasgow. It was put in place in 1867, necessitating the removal of a symbolic marble lamb, which lay at the girls’ feet. Several other examples of William Drummond’s munificence are to be found in the graveyard, each with its own story. The story behind this one has no connection whatsoever with Stirling, but is an eloquent indicator of Drummond’s obsession with religion.