|Arthur family, Barons Glenarthur|
The first of the family to come to prominence was James Arthur (1819-95), who founded a highly successful and profitable firm of clothing wholesalers and manufacturers in Glasgow called Arthur & Co. Ltd. In the early years of the business, James Arthur was in partnership with Hugh Fraser, and the links between the two families remained close. When Arthur & Co. ceased to be an independent company in 1958 it was bought by the House of Fraser, the department store chain which originated with the Fraser family (although it was subsequently sold again). In the 19th century, Arthur & Co. Ltd quickly became one of the largest firms of its kind in the country, and when James Arthur died in 1885 his personal wealth was calculated at over £1,000,000. He also died possessed of two country houses: Carlung House at West Kilbride (Ayrshire) and Barshaw Park near Paisley (Renfrewshire). Carlung was a fairly modest house, and is likely to have been his first purchase. Barshaw was also probably quite small when he acquired it, although in about 1875 he undertook a dramatic extension and remodelling, so that it was undoubtedly his principal seat. He married in 1847, and his wife Jane (1827-1907) became a notable early campaigner for women's education and women's suffrage, and was the first woman in the country to be elected to a School Board. When James Arthur died in 1885, his houses were left to his widow for life, with provision for Carlung to pass next to his eldest son, who also succeeded him as Chairman of the family firm, and for Barshaw to go to his second son, Thomas Glen Arthur (1857-1907). These provisions never had real effect, however, for Carlung burned down in 1902 and Jane Arthur survived her second son by a few months. Barshaw Park was in fact sold to Paisley Burgh Council in 1911 and the house became a hospital while the grounds were opened to the public as a park.
Thomas Arthur's eldest son was Matthew Arthur (1852-1928). Where his father had been obsessively dedicated to his business, his son felt able to combine the leadership of Arthur & Co. Ltd with other directorships and with political interests, and it was no doubt his prominent role in the Unionist Association which led to his being made a baronet in 1903 and raised to the peerage (as Baron Glenarthur) in 1918.
|Fullarton House, Troon, by D. Thomson. Image: South Ayrshire Council|
Thomas Arthur's third son was James Arthur (1860-1935). Like his brothers, he was a director of Arthur & Co. and in 1928 he succeeded his eldest brother as Chairman of the firm. Although he did not inherit an estate from his father, he bought his own in about 1900, when he acquired a splendid Georgian mansion, Montgomerie House alias Coilsfield House in Ayrshire. This passed in turn to his surviving son, Col. Evelyn Stewart Arthur (1899-1963), but after the Second World War such an enormous house seemed much more likely a liability than an asset, and Col. Arthur sold it for conversion as an hotel, buying instead the rather smaller Longnor Hall in Shropshire, a house of the 1670s where he and his wife created an important new garden over the next decade.
|Longnor Hall, Shropshire in 1891.|
After the 2nd Baron Glenarthur was bankrupted in 1931 he went to live abroad and was for a time reduced to driving a taxi on the Riviera for a living. In 1934 he moved to Portugal where he was joined by his widowed mother, and they both died there during the 1940s. The 2nd Baron left a son, Matthew Arthur (1909-76), 3rd Baron Glenarthur and a daughter, who were both married by the time of their father's bankruptcy, although neither marriage was to survive. Matthew Arthur's first wife was Audrey Lees-Milne, sister of the diarist and architectural historian James Lees-Milne, who did as much as anyone to save our heritage of country houses through his development of the National Trust's Country Houses Scheme in the 1940s and 1950s. Matthew and Audrey were divorced in 1939, on the grounds of his desertion, and shortly afterwards he married Margaret Risk Howie (1913-93), whose father owned the delightful small Stairaird estate in Ayrshire, which they inherited and which is now owned by their daughter, the Hon. Victoria Arthur and her husband, Richard Vernon.
The Glenarthur peerage passed in 1976 to the 3rd Baron's elder son, Simon Arthur (b. 1944), 4th Baron Glenarthur, who after a short service commission in the army and some years flying helicopters for British Airways, became a junior minister in the Conservative governments of the 1980s. When he left the Government in 1989 he went into business and he has held a wide range of directorships and consultancies over the last twenty-five years, as well as a range of public and charitable appointments. When the House of Lords was reformed in 1999, he was one of the ninety hereditary peers to be elected to sit in the reformed chamber, where he continues to take the Conservative whip.
Carlung House, West Kilbride, Ayrshire
|Carlung House in 1900. Image: North Ayrshire Heritage Centre via Flickr|
|Carlung House as rebuilt in 1932. Image: s1homes|
This is of simplified Elizabethan design, with mullioned and transomed windows, and an H-plan. The garden front has canted bay windows and the interior Austrian oak panelling and beamed ceilings. It was converted into five apartments in 1979.
Barshaw Park, Paisley, Renfrewshire
|Barshaw House near Paisley, as altered for James Arthur c.1875|
The first building on the site was built in the early 19th century for Robert Smith, and the greyer stone of the two-storey centre may represent the surviving element of his house. It was radically remodelled and extended by James Hutchinson for James Arthur c.1875, his additions including the enormous cruciform conservatory (now demolished) attached to the western end of the house which is visible in the photograph above, and the prominent pedimented tower. The grounds were acquired in 1911 by Paisley Burgh Council for use as a public park, and the house itself became a hospital and remained as such until it was converted into flats.
|Barshaw House in recent years, after its conversion into flats.|
Montgomerie House alias Coilsfield, Tarbolton, Ayrshire
Coilsfield Castle, which was perhaps built for the Cunninghams of Caprington after they acquired the estate at the Reformation, was sold to the Montgomerie family in 1661. In c.1804-05 it was demolished and replaced by an elegant neo-Classical mansion designed by John Paterson (d. 1832) for the 12th Earl of Eglinton (1739-1819), whose family seat this was (he inherited the title and the Eglinton Castle estate from a distant cousin in 1796).
|Montgomerie House in its heyday|
Paterson's new house consisted of a nine by five bay main block of two storeys articulated by a giant order, with a central semicircular bow surrounded by Ionic columns that rose into a shallow dome over the entrance hall. To either side of the entrance front, glazed single-storey links connected the house to taller single-storey pavilions: the wing on the right was the conservatory it appeared to be, but the wing on the left housed service accommodation. The design clearly draws on Paterson's experience working in Robert Adam's office, but the elevation of the entrance front breaks new ground in combining the bowed centre with a giant portico, and Montgomerie has some claim to be one of the most elegant Ayrshire country houses.
Inside the house the interiors were of a comparable standard. The circular pillared entrance hall rose through the full height of the house to the dome. To its left was the dining room, with a screen of columns at either end, and to the right was the drawing room, with a shallow bow at either end and a door into the conservatory beyond. The middle of the house was filled with a square pillared hall, with staircases to either side, and the garden front was occupied by a bedroom and dressing room, the library (a D-shaped room occupying the shallow elliptical bow on the garden front), a boudoir and billiard room.
In about 1847 the Coilsfield estate was sold to William Orr (later Paterson), who was made the principal heir of the architect of the house, John Paterson, on the conditions that not only should he change his name to Paterson but also and more unusually that he should buy the Coilsfield estate and rename it Montgomerie House. This suggests strongly that Paterson saw the building as one of his greatest achievements and wanted to ensure its survival.
Minor additions were made to the house for James Arthur in 1904 to the designs of Allan Stevenson & Cassells, but these were principally additions and improvements to the service accommodation. After the Second World War the house was converted for use as an hotel, but owing to a decline in business this closed in 1969, and in the following month the house was mysteriously gutted by fire. Conveniently, the chimneypieces are said to have been taken out before the fire and to have been sold later. The smoke-blackened shell of the house was surprisingly intact but was nonetheless bulldozed in 1971, apparently by the local authority. Since then most traces that this was once a great estate have disappeared. The stables became a slaughterhouse and were subsequently demolished, and a game larder close to the house and the gate lodge nearest Tarbolton which also became derelict has also been demolished. The park and some of the woodland has been stripped of its trees and converted to farmland
Descent: Alexander Montgomerie to son, Hugh Montgomerie (1739-1819), 12th Earl of Eglinton; to Archibald William Montgomerie (1812-61), 13th Earl of Eglinton, who sold c.1847 to William Orr (later Paterson) (d. 1886); to son, Robert Paterson Paterson (b. 1829; fl. 1894); ?to son, William Robert Paterson (b. 1885) who sold c.1900 to James Arthur (1860-1935); to son, Evelyn Stewart Arthur (1899-1963), who sold c.1948 for use as an hotel, which closed 1969 and was mysteriously burned down soon afterwards.
Stairaird House, Mauchline, Ayrshire
Descent: Henry James Howie (b. 1881); to daughter, Margaret Risk (1913-93), wife of Sir Matthew Arthur, 3rd Baron Glenarthur (1909-76); to daughter, Hon. Victoria (b. 1946), wife of (Hugh) Richard Mervyn Vernon (b. 1947).
Arthur family, Barons Glenarthur
Arthur, Matthew (1795-1861). Son of William Arthur of Paisley and his wife Jean, daughter of Matthew Robertson, born 1795. Bleachworks proprietor near Neilson (Renfrews.). He married, 25 June 1814 at Paisley High Church, Elizabeth (k/a Bethia) (d. 1871), daughter of James Fraser and had issue:
(1) William Arthur (b. 1815), baptised 2 November 1815;
(2) Cecilia Arthur (b. 1817), baptised 10 July 1817;
(3) James Arthur (1819-95) (q.v.).
He lived at Foxbar and later at Crofthead (Renfrewshire).
He died at Crofthead, 12 February 1861. His widow died 30 July 1871.
Arthur, James (1819-85) of Carlung House. Son of Matthew Arthur and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of James Fraser, born 6 March and baptised at Paisley, 21 March 1819. In business from an early age, at first in Paisley and later in Glasgow. In 1849 he entered into partnership (dissolved 1865) with Hugh Fraser as a draper in Glasgow (later Fraser, Sons & Co.), and in 1851 he founded a wholesale branch of the business, which later became Arthur & Co. Ltd., clothing manufacturers and wholesalers, and one of the largest firms of its kind in the country. He was also one of the founders of Young's Parafin Co., had interests in the 'Loch Line' of ships trading with Australia and the 'Clan Line' of steamers; and was a leading member of the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce. JP for Renfrewshire, Ayrshire and Lanarkshire. Arthur was often described by contemporaries as forbidding: he was "a brusque, undersized figure, broad as to the shoulders, burly in the paunch, and firmly set on the legs. A-top of all is a bullet-shaped head, with a face, keen and not very cultured, but humorous withal, and bearing above everything the look of one accustomed to give orders, and see that they are carried into practice" (The Bailie, 3 March 1875). He married, 21 December 1847, Jane (1827-1907), second daughter of Thomas Glen of Thornhill (Renfrews), who later became an early campaigner for women's suffrage and education, and had issue:
(1) Jessie Fulton Arthur (1849-1931), baptised at Paisley, 8 September 1849; married 1st, 18 November 1874, John Moffat (d. 1882) of Ardrossan and had issue two sons and one daughter; married 2nd, 13 April 1886, Charles Edward Hay, sixth son of Sir John Hay of Park, 7th bt. and had further issue one son; died 17 November 1931; will proved 23 January 1932 (estate £16,570);
(2) Sir Matthew Arthur (1852-1928), 1st bt. & 1st Baron Glenarthur (q.v.);
(3) Thomas Glen Arthur (1857-1907) of Carrick House, Ayr and Barshaw Park, born 13 December 1857; a director of Arthur & Co. Ltd.; JP for Ayrshire; an art collector; Chevalier of the Legion d'honneur; from 1897 he spent the winters abroad for his health in an old Moorish palace at Tangiers (Morocco); married, 26 September 1888, Elizabeth Winthrop (d. 1923), eldest daughter of Sir James Coats, 1st bt. of Auchendrane and had issue one son and one daughter; died in Algiers (Algeria), 2 February 1907;
(4) James Arthur (1860-1935) (q.v.);
(5) Andrew Arthur (1862-1936), born 31 December 1862; JP for Ayrshire; Major in Queens Own Royal Glasgow Imperial Yeomanry; Chairman of Arthur & Co., 1935-36; married, 24 April 1894, Elizabeth Frankland (d. 1957), daughter of William Connal and had issue one son and one daughter; died 23 August 1936.
He purchased Carlung House (Ayrshire) and Barshaw Park (Renfrewshire), which he rebuilt. At his death, both properties passed to his wife, with the intention that Carlung would go after her death to his eldest son and Barshaw to his second son, but Carlung was burned down in 1902 and Barshaw was sold to Paisley Burgh Council in 1911.
He died at Carlung, 17 June 1885; his will was proved 16 September 1885 (effects £1,049,790). His widow died 25 May 1907.
Arthur, Sir Matthew (1852-1928), 1st bt. & 1st Baron Glenarthur. Eldest son of James Arthur (1819-85) of Carlung House and his wife Jane, second daughter of Thomas Glen of Thornhill (Renfrews), born 9 March 1852. Educated at Glasgow University (hon. LLD). Chairman of Arthur & Co. Ltd, 1885-1928, Lochgelly Iron & Coal Co. and Glasgow and South-Western Railway Co, 1920-22. Chairman of West of Scotland Liberal Unionist Association, 1893-1912; President of Scottish Unionist Association, 1914-18 and Member of Executive Committee of National Unionist Association, 1913-18. Chairman of Glasgow Western Infirmary, 1904-21. JP and DL for Ayrshire and Glasgow; Member of the Royal Company of Archers. He was created a baronet, 10 January 1903 and advanced to the peerage as Baron Glenarthur, 27 June 1918. He married, 8 July 1879, Janet Stevenson Bennett OBE JP (1856-1946), younger daughter of Alexander Bennett McGrigor of Cairnoch (Stirlings) and had issue:
(1) Hon. Elizabeth Muriel Arthur (1880-1960), born 21 April 1880; married, 28 July 1904 at Holy Trinity, Ayr (Ayrs.), Maj. Ian Archibald Finlay (1878-1925) of Temple Hall, Coldingham (Berwicks) and formerly of Castle Toward (Argylls) and had issue one son and one daughter; sequestrated in 1939; died January 1960.
(2) Sir James Cecil Arthur (1883-1942), 2nd Baron Glenarthur (q.v.);
He inherited the site of Carlung House after the death of his mother in 1907, but sold it in the 1920s. He rented Fullarton House, Troon (Ayrshire) from c.1899 until November 1927.
He died 23 September 1928; after his death it transpired that he was nearly insolvent and his children inherited liabilities rather than legacies, as a result of which both of them were eventually bankrupted (or sequestrated in Scotland). His widow died aged 90 at Mont Estoril (Portugal), 3 October 1946.
Arthur, Sir James Cecil (1883-1942), 2nd Baron Glenarthur. Only son of Sir Matthew Arthur (1852-1928), 1st bt. & 1st Baron Glenarthur, and his wife Janet Stevenson Bennett, daughter of Alexander Bennett McGrigor of Cairnoch (Stirlings), born 2 June 1883. Capt. in Ayrshire Yeomanry and Lt. in 4th Battn, Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders during WW1. He seems to have suffered from delicate health throughout his life and lived abroad for long periods partly for that reason. He lived in Paris, c.1918-21 where he dealt unsuccessfully in motor cars, before returning to Scotland to take up a Directorship with Arthur & Co., 1921-29. He succeeded his father as 2nd Baron Glenarthur, 23 September 1928, but was bankrupted in 1930 as a result of living beyond his income on the basis of unrealised expectations under his father's will, declaring debts of more than £50,000 in excess of his assets. He then moved to the Riviera, where he worked as a taxi driver and acquired an interest in an hotel at Cannes; in 1934 he moved to Portugal, where he remained for the rest of his life. He married, 5 April 1907, Evelyn (c.1881-1959), elder daughter of Henry March-Phillipps of Fairby, Tiverton (Devon) and had issue:
(1) Hon. Pamela Helen Arthur (1908-77), born 26 February 1908; married 1st, 6 October 1927 (div. 1944), Jack Drummond Rudd, only surviving son of Percy Rudd of Kimberley (South Africa) and had issue; married 2nd, 19 December 1944 (div. 1951), Lt-Cdr. John Hamilton RN, elder son of Col. Claud Lorn Campbell Hamilton of Rozelle (Ayrs.) and had further issue one daughter (Sarah Hamilton of Rozelle (b. 1946)); married 3rd, 4 April 1951, William Hamilton Robertson-Aikman (d. 1981), elder son of Lt-Col. Thomas Stokes George Hugh Robertson-Aikman of The Ross, Hamilton (Lanarks); died 1977;
(2) Sir Matthew Arthur (1909-76), 3rd Baron Glenarthur (q.v.).
He lived at Rodinghead House near Mauchline, c.1921-28, but the house had to be sold when his father's financial situation was revealed, and from 1931-42 he lived in France and Portugal.
He died at Mont Estoril (Portugal), 11 December 1942. His widow died 9 May 1959; her will was proved 13 July 1959 (estate £28,061).
Arthur, Sir Matthew (1909-76), 3rd Baron Glenarthur, of Stairaird. Only son of Sir James Cecil Arthur (1883-1942), 2nd Baron Glenarthur, and his wife Evelyn, elder daughter of Henry March-Phillipps of Fairby, Tiverton (Devon), born 12 May 1909. Educated at Winchester and Magdalen College, Oxford. Temporary Lt-Col. (Staff) Royal Scots Greys in WW2 (mentioned in despatches twice; MBE 1943; OBE 1945). He succeeded his father as 3rd Baron Glenarthur, 11 December 1942. He married 1st, 9 April 1931 (div. 1939), Audrey (1905-90), only daughter of George Crompton Lees-Milne (and sister of the diarist James Lees-Milne), and 2nd, 1 September 1939, Margaret Risk (1913-93), only daughter of Capt. Henry James Howie of Stairaird, Mauchline (Ayrs.), and had issue:
(1.1) Hon. Prudence Armorel Arthur (1932-76), born 13 February 1932; married, 20 March 1953, Maj. Edwin Rowland Winwood Robinson MC (d. 1985) of Moorwood, Bagendon (Glos), only son of Capt. Claude Robinson, and had issue three sons; died 31 August 1976;
(2.1) Sir Simon Mark Arthur (b. 1944), 4th Baron Glenarthur (q.v.);
(2.2) Hon. Victoria Arthur (b. 1946) of Stairaird, born 20 June 1946; married, 1976, (Hugh) Richard Mervyn Vernon and had issue one son and two daughters;
(2.3) Hon. Matthew Richard Arthur (b. 1948) of Bingfield East Quarter, Hallington (Northbld), born 6 March 1948; educated at Eton and Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester; married, 1974, Veronica Rosemary, younger daughter of Capt. Michael Hall and had issue one son and one daughter.
He lived at Stairaird, Mauchline (Ayrshire).
He died 19 May 1976. His first wife married 2nd, Oct-Dec 1943, Cecil W. (k/a Tony) Stevens (d. 1972) "an adventurer of whom her parents disapproved" and died in 1990. His widow died in 1993.
|4th Baron Glenarthur|
(1) Hon. Edward Alexander Arthur (b. 1973), born 9 April 1973; educated at Eton;
(2) Hon. Emily Victoria Arthur (b. 1975), born 29 October 1975; educated at Glasgow University (BSc).
He has a home at a farmhouse near Crathes (Kincardines.)
Arthur, James (1860-1935) of Montgomerie House. Third son of James Arthur (1819-85) of Carlung House and his wife Jane, second daughter of Thomas Glen of Thornhill (Renfrews), born 27 October 1860. Chairman of Arthur & Co., 1928-35. He married, 27 April 1892, Olive Juana MBE (d. 1930), daughter of James Stewart of Blackhouse and had issue:
(1) Thomas Alan Arthur (1893-1935), born 16 December 1893; Major in Ayrshire Yeomanry and Lt. in 2nd Life Guards in WW1; died unmarried, 17 June 1935;
(2) Marjorie Olive Arthur (1896-1929), born 12 July 1896; married 2 August 1922, Col. Reginald Thompson DSO and had issue two daughters; died 24 October 1929;
(3) Evelyn Stewart Arthur (1899-1963) (q.v.).
He purchased Montgomerie House in about 1900.
He died 2 August 1935. His wife died 6 June 1930.
Arthur, Evelyn Stewart (1899-1963) of Longnor Hall. Second but only surviving son of James Arthur (1860-1935) of Montgomerie House and his wife Olive Juana, daughter of James Stewart of Blackhouse, born 1 October 1899. Chairman of Arthur & Co., 1936-58, when the firm was sold to House of Fraser. JP and DL for Ayrshire. Lt. in 2nd Dragoons (Royal Scots Greys); Lt-Col. in Territorial Army; Chairman of TA Association, Ayrshire, 1950-52; Member of Royal Company of Archers. He married, 14 April 1926, Elizabeth (1905?-76), elder daughter of Gen. Sir John Theodosius Burnett-Stuart of Dens and Crichie GCB KBE CMG DSO and had issue:
(1) Elizabeth Ann Arthur (b. 1928), born 3 April 1928; married, 30 April 1954, Lt-Col. Robert Hugh Garnett MBE (1921-94) of Hope Bowdler Court (Shrops.), elder son of Walter Hugh Stewart Garnett, and had issue two sons and three daughters (one died in infancy);
(2) Lt-Gen. Sir (John) Norman Stewart Arthur (b. 1931), born 6 March 1931; educated at Eton and Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst; an officer in the army, 1951-88, serving in Royal Scots Greys, 1951-71; Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, 1972-74 (Col., 1984-92); 7th Armoured Brigade, 1976-77; General Officer Commanding 3rd Armoured Division, 1980-82; GOC Army in Scotland and Governor of Edinburgh Castle, 1985-88; Colonel Commanding Military Provost Staff Corps 1985-88; Hon. Col. of Scottish Yeomanry, 1993-97; member of Royal Company of Archers; JP and DL for Dumfries & Galloway; Lord Lieutenant of Stewartry of Kirkcudbright, 1996-2006; married 1st, 1 October 1960, Theresa Mary (1939-2011), daughter of Francis Archibald Hopkinson of Dundas Farm, Elmsted (Kent) and had issue two sons (one died in infancy) and one daughter; married 2nd, 2012, Jillian Constance, widow of Lt-Col. John Andrews;
(3) Adrian James Burnett Arthur (later Arthur-Bennett-Stuart of Dens and Crichie) (1932-58), born 8 June 1932; educated at Eton and Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst; Capt. in Rifle Brigade; changed name on the death of his maternal grandfather, 6 October 1958, but died unmarried, 9 December 1958; his will was proved 21 January 1959 (estate £57,373).
He inherited Montgomerie House from his father in 1935 but sold it for conversion to an hotel c.1950 and bought Longnor Hall (Shropshire), where he and his wife laid out a new garden. Longnor was sold c.1970.
He died 22 August 1963. His widow died in 1976.
Burke's Peerage & Baronetage, 2003, pp. 1567-8; M.C. Davis, The castles and mansions of Ayrshire, 1991, pp. 332-34, 381; R. Close & A. Riches, The buildings of Scotland: Ayrshire and Arran, 2012, p. 318.
Location of archives
No substantial archive is known to survive, but it is likely that some papers remain with the family.
Coat of arms
Sable an escarbuncle or within an orle of bezants.
Can you help?
Here are a few notes about information and images which would help to improve the account above. If you can help with any of these or with other additions or corrections, please use the contact form in the sidebar to get in touch.
- Can anyone supply photographs of the interior of Montgomerie House or a view of the predecessor Coilsfield Castle?
- Does anyone know the exact dates when the Arthur family acquired Carlung House, Barshaw Park or Montgomerie House?
- Can anyone explain the mystery of the 1st Lord Glenarthur's disappearing fortune? What did he spend all his money on, and how did he successfully maintain the appearance of wealth right up until his death, even to his children?
- If anyone can provide exact dates for events for which only a year or approximate year is given in the text, I should be very pleased to incorporate them, with acknowledgement.
Revision and acknowledgements
This post was first published 14th October 2015.