Saturday, 19 October 2013

(82) Alexander of Powis House and Westerton House

James Alexander (1728-1805) of Allan Park, Stirling, provost of that city and one of the founders of the Stirling Bank, claimed descent from the Alexanders of Menstrie, Earls of Stirling and the family used a similar coat of arms.  He married Euphemia, daughter of James Mayne of St. Ninians and widow of James Henderson of Westerton House, and had two sons.  In 1808, the younger son, Edward Alexander (1768-c.1835) bought Powis House (Clackmannans), which had been the seat of his mother’s family from about 1730 until his grandfather sold it in 1800.  The purchase was financed with substantial loans from the Stirling Bank, which were called in during the banking crisis of the 1820s.  The estate was sold in two parts to Thomas Buchanan; one section in 1833 and the rest in 1839.  Edward Alexander had two sons by his second wife, Catherine Glas.  The elder, Maj-Gen. Sir James Edward Alexander (1803-85) confusingly continued to style himself ‘of Powis’ in the 1840s.  The younger, Maj. John Alexander (1806-58), inherited Westerton House from his uncle, John Henderson, in 1844, and took the surname Henderson.  He proceeded to develop the estate at Bridge of Allan as a celebrated watering place with residential villas; a copy of his conceptual plan can be seen here.  The grounds of Westerton became the venue for the annual highland games of the Strathallan Meeting, and this tradition was continued by his elder brother when he inherited the estate.  After the General’s death in 1885, Westerton passed to his eldest son, Lt-Col. Edward Mayne Alexander (1845-1916), who divided his time between London and Westerton and made further alterations to the house.  After his death the estate seems to have passed to his son, Edward Murray Mayne Alexander OBE (1886-1963), a Writer to the Signet, who sold it before 1919 and lived in Edinburgh and later in Tunbridge Wells (Kent) and Torquay (Devon).

Powis House, Clackmannanshire

Powis House: entrance front

A three-storey, three by three bay hipped-roofed mansion house of 1746-47, built for Edward Mayne, with broad chimneystacks swept up from the east and west gables on ogival haunches, and at the rear an off-centre and later broad canted bow, rising the full height of the house.  

Powis House: rear elevation

The house has harled walls with quoins and window margins, and rather small lintelled windows, coupled in the central bay of the north front about a columned semicircular portico.  At the rear of the entrance hall a scale-and-platt staircase rises under a cupola.  To the north-west stands the square quadrangular stable block of c.1800, now converted to housing.  It incorporates a sharply domed octagonal dovecote.  The house is now (2013) operated as a bed-and-breakfast establishment.

Descent: William Stirling sold 1729 to Edward Mayne (d. 1743), who installed his brother William Mayne (d. 1740); to William’s son, Edward Mayne (d. 1777); who gave 1774 to his son, Capt. James Mayne, who sold 1800 to Sir Robert Abercromby of Airthrey; sold 1806 to Duncan Glassford; sold 1808 to Edward Alexander (grandson of James Mayne) (1768-c.1835), whose mortgage to Stirling Bank was called in 1827; sold 1833 and 1839 to Thomas Buchanan of Tullibody House (1774-1842); to son, John Buchanan (1812-91), who leased in 1851 to James Allan Dalzell; to sons Thomas Alexander Buchanan (b.1842) (who sold his share to his brother) and Francis Charles Buchanan (1852-1933), who occupied the house until 1923 and then leased to Hugh Baird Spens (fl. 1923-39); to son, Ralph Abercromby Edmondstone Buchanan (d. 1948), who leased to Alexander Frederick Murray (fl. 1946-48); to widow, Elsie Kate Buchanan (fl. 1949), who sold 1949 to the tenant; sold 1951 to Margaret Elizabeth (Majel) Davidson (d. 1969), Alison Stewart (d. 1968), Margaret McGillivray, Mabel Winifred Burnard, and Betty Soper (the ‘Powis House ladies’); sold 1989 to John Heggarty...Jane & Colin Kilgour (fl. 2013).

Westerton House, Bridge of Allan, Stirlingshire

Westerton House, from a photograph published in 1905
A simple Classical mansion house built in 1803, perhaps by William Stirling I for John Henderson, to which a three-storey north-west wing (The Mayne Tower) was added in c.1871 and a lower north-east wing in 1912.  There were also alterations by J.M. Dick Peddie & Kinnear in 1894.  

Westerton House, Bridge of Allan
The five-bay south facade, in pale pink ashlar, has no pediment but is fronted by an uncomfortably broad Ionic porch shading a Regency door screen and fanlight.  Hipped roof with two well-placed dormers.  Two canted bays on the west.  The house was restored in the 1950s for Matthew Thom, but sold after his death to a building company which converted it into flats and built executive homes in the grounds. A former T-plan lodge of 1859 (now Morven Cottage) stands on Alexander Drive.  

Descent: James Henderson (d. before 1764); to son, John Henderson (d. 1844); to nephew, Maj. John Alexander (later Henderson) (d. 1858); to brother, Maj-Gen. Sir James Edward Alexander (d. 1885); to son, Lt-Col. Edward Mayne Alexander (1846-1916); sold before 1919 to Edward Pullar... sold 1950s to Matthew Thom; sold 1975 to Ogilvys of Bannockburn, who converted the house into flats.

The Alexanders of Powis and Westerton

Alexander, James (1728-1805).  Son of James Alexander of Stirling, born 20 June 1728. Provost of Stirling, 1772-73; one of the founders of the Stirling Bank.  He married Euphemia (1726-1811), daughter of James Mayne of St. Ninians, Stirling and Powis House, and widow of James Henderson of Westerton (by whom she had two sons, John and William, and two daughters), and had issue: 
(1) Edward Alexander (1768-c.1835) (q.v.).
He lived at Allan Park, Stirling.
He died 4 February 1805, aged 76.

Edward Alexander
Alexander, Edward (1768-c.1835) of Powis House. Younger son of James Alexander (1728-1805) and his wife Euphemia, daughter of James Mayne of St. Ninians, Stirling and Powis House, born 1768.  DL for Clackmannanshire.  He married first, 1801, Jenny, daughter of R. Colquhoun and second, 1803, Catherine, daughter of John Glas and niece of Maj-Gen. Sir Alexander Bryce KCH, and had issue: 
(2.1) Maj-Gen. Sir James Edward Alexander (1803-85) (q.v.); 
(2.2) Maj. John Alexander (later Henderson) (1806-58) (q.v.); 
(2.3) Euphemia Mayne Alexander (1807-23); born 8 December 1807; died unmarried, aged 15;
(2.4) Mary Bryce Alexander (b. 1809); born 8 November 1809; married James Colquhoun and had issue; emigrated to Berlin (now Kitchener), Ontario, Canada;
(2.5) Catherine Glas Alexander.
He purchased his maternal family seat of Powis House (Clackmannanshire) in 1808, but was forced to sell it in 1833 when his loans were called in by the family bank.
He died in about 1835.

Henderson (nĂ© Alexander), Maj. John (1806-85) of Westerton House.  Younger son of Edward Alexander (1768-c.1835) of Powis House and his second wife, Catherine, daughter of John Glas, born 1806.  Served in India with 4th Light Dragoons and Rifle Brigade; last Provost of the Fraternity of Chapmen of Stirling and Clackmannan, a company established by King James VI and I for chivalrous sports.  He was unmarried and without issue.
He inherited the Westerton House estate from his half-cousin, John Henderson, in 1844, and developed the hamlet of Bridge of Allan as a watering place.  On his death the estate passed to his elder brother, Sir James Alexander.
He died in 1858, and was buried in Logie Old Churchyard, where he is commemorated by a monument.

Sir J.E. Alexander
Alexander, Maj-Gen. Sir James Edward (1803-85) of Westerton House.  Elder son of Edward Alexander (1768-c.1835) of Powis House and his second wife, Catherine, daughter of John Glas, born 1803.  Educated at Edinburgh, Glasgow and Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst; joined East India Company service 1821 and transferred to British Army 1825; aide de camp to British envoy to Persia, 1826; in Balkans during Russo-Turkish war, 1828-29; in Portugal during Miguelete War, 1832-34; aide de camp to Sir Benjamin d'Urban during 6th Cape Frontier War, 1835, after which he undertook exploration of the interior and discovered the Orange River; served in Canada as captain with 14th Foot, 1841; Lt-Col. commanding 14th Regt of Foot at Sebastopol, 1855; in New Zealand during Maori war, 1862; retired 1877; he was largely responsible for the preservation and transfer of Cleopatra's Needle to London in 1877.  He was appointed CB and knighted in 1838, and was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.  He was a prolific author and published Travels from India to England, by way of Burmah, Persia, and Turkey, Excursions in Western Africa, Sketches in Portugal, Transatlantic Sketches, L'Acadie ; or, Seven Years' Explorations in North AmericaCanada as it is, and may be, Passages in the Life of a Soldier, Travels through Russia and the Crimea, Incidents of the Maori War, and Bush-fighting in New Zealand; he also edited a Life of the Duke of Wellington, Salmon Fishing in Canada and other works, and made several translations. He married, 1837 (in South Africa), Eveline Marie, daughter of Col. Charles Cornwallis Michell, surveyor general of Cape of Good Hope, and had issue: 
(1) Lt-Col. Edward Mayne Alexander (1845-1916) (q.v.); 
(2) Capt. Ranald Michell Alexander (c.1849-1922) of Ryde (Isle of Wight); born in Montreal (Canada); captain in Royal Perth Rifles (retired,  c.1887-91); member of Royal Victoria Yacht Club; founder of Ryde Gun Club; JP; amateur cartoonist, some of whose drawings were published in Punch and The Illustrated London News; married, 1878, Louisa Eveline, daughter of Gen. John Kynaston Luard and had issue two sons and two daughters; died 28 September 1922; will proved 21 November 1922 (estate £2,233);
(3) Capt. Herbert Rowan Alexander (1853-1917); Captain in 1st battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers (retired, 1887); later an officer of Hampshire Yeomanry Cavalry and Royal Scottish Reserve Regiment; married, 1885, Ann Beardmore and had issue; died Oct-Dec 1917;
(4) Lt-Col. Gerald d'Arragon Alexander (1859-1938) of Townsend House, Winkleigh (Devon); baptised in Dublin, 20 April 1859; educated at Cheltenham College; Major in Royal Artillery (retired as Lt-Col); married, 1893, Beatrice Connell Whipple; died 23 July 1938; will proved 4 October 1938 (estate £1,701);
(5) Helen Alexander, died young.
He inherited a moiety of the Powis House estate from his father c.1835 but sold it in 1839. He inherited the Westerton House estate from his younger brother in 1858, and added the Mayne Tower in 1871.  He also owned property in Cape Province, South Africa.
He died 2 April 1885, aged 81, and was buried in Logie Old Churchyard, where he is commemorated by a monument.

Alexander, Lt-Col. Edward Mayne (1845-1916) of Westerton House.  Eldest son of Maj-Gen. Sir James Edward Alexander (1803-85) and his wife Eveline Marie, daughter of Col. Charles Cornwallis Michell, born at Halifax, Nova Scotia, 13 December 1845.  Educated at Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst; served in 78th Highlanders (Ensign 1866; Lieutenant 1868; Captain 1877; Major 1883); retired as Lt-Col., 1890; served in Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1869-71 and during the 1880s as Inspector of Gymnasia in India.  He married, 1884, Kate (d. 1941), daughter of Adam Murray of Lamorbey, Bexley (Kent) and had issue, perhaps among others: 
(1) Edward Murray Mayne (1886-1963) (q.v.); 
(2) Eveline Kate Alexander (b. 1887), born 15 March 1887 at Bareilly, India and baptised 3 May.
He inherited the Westerton House (Stirlings) estate from his father in 1885, and made further alterations to the house in 1894 and 1912.
He died 1 August 1916 and was buried in Logie Old Churchyard, where he is commemorated by a monument; his will was proved in London, 20 February 1917.  His widow died in 1941, aged 86.

Alexander, Edward Murray Mayne (1886-1963).  Only son of Lt-Col. Edward Mayne Alexander (1845-1916) and his wife Kate, daughter of Adam Murray of Lamorbey, Bexley (Kent), born 19 January and baptised 21 February 1886.  Served WW1 in Seaforth Highlanders (Lt., 1914; Capt, 1914; wounded 1916 and 1918, when he lost a leg); Writer to the Signet; temporary Curator at the British Museum in the 1950s; appointed OBE 1956. He married first, 1914, Florence Eleanor Wilson Bell (d. 1933) and second, 1943, Phyllis Irene Hazel (1896-1978), daughter of Alfred Canning Williams and formerly wife of James Westwood Henderson (d. 1953), and had issue, perhaps among others: 
(1.1) Capt. James Edward Mayne ("Sandy") Alexander (1916-43); born 3 September 1916; Captain in Indian Engineers; married, 14 June 1941 in Gulmarg, Kashmir, India, (Joan) Diana (who married 2nd, 1 January 1949, Martin Stuart Brett), daughter of Sir Blyth Wace of The Orchard, South Harting (Sussex); killed in action at Bhawanipur, Bengal, India, 23 October 1943; buried in Calcutta Cemetery;
(1.2) Alastair Antony Alexander (b. 1923); born 24 September 1923.
He sold the Westerton House (Stirlings) estate after his father's death in 1916 and lived subsequently at Tunbridge Wells (Kent) and Torquay (Devon).
He died 23 March 1963 at Torquay, and his will was confirmed, 13 February 1964.  His first wife died 5 February 1933 and her will was proved 28 March 1933.  His widow died in 1978.


Burke's Landed Gentry, 1850, 1898; National Probate Calendars; W. Drysdale, Old faces, old places and old stories of Stirling, 1898, vol. 2, pp. 150-153; R. Menzies Fergusson, Logie: a parish history, vol. 2, 1905, pp. 92-101; J. Gifford & F.A. Walker, The buildings of Scotland: Stirling and Central Scotland, 2002, pp. 286-87, 639.

Location of archives

Alexander, Sir James Edward (1803-85), kt.: correspondence and papers, 1831-62 (Royal Geographical Society, London); notes on British North American boundary dispute, 1842 (Library & Archives Canada MG24 H24).
Alexander, Edward Murray Mayne (1886-1963): archaeological notebooks, typescripts and drawings (Torquay Museum 63)

Coat of arms

Quarterly, 1st and 4th, per pale argent and sable a chevron and in base a crescent, all counterchanged; 2nd and 3rd, or, a galley sable between three crosses crosslet fitchee gules. 

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 19 October 2013 and was edited 28 April 2016.


  1. Dear Nick, I very much enjoyed reading your blog. My own family members are mentioned at the bottom (Joan Diana Wace and Martin Brett). I have a question. How do you like James Alexander (1728-1805) back to William Alexander, 1st Earl Stirling. Kind regards. Nigel

    1. I don't think I established a link, but the claim is quoted in one or more of the printed sources cited (Drysdale and Menzies Fergusson are available online). You may also find the two volumes of Rev. C. Rogers, Memorials of the Earl of Stirling and the house of Alexander, 1877 useful. It's not always totally reliable but he clearly had access to family papers and reminiscences that are now lost.

  2. Matthew Sneddon writes: Westerton House was acquired by my late uncle Matthew Thom of Airdrie, I would think in the 1950s.(I somehow remember a figure of £10000). The house was in a fairly neglected state with extensive dry rot etc. Matthew Thom was involved in the building trade and the house was completely renovated. Our family were regular visitors and the house was lovely in all respects, being complimented by a stable block and productive walled garden. On Matthew Thom's death the house was eventually acquired by Ogilvy the Bannockburn building company. The main house was converted into flats and executive homes were built throughout the grounds. Stables and walled garden were built over. Westerton House is a beautiful house albeit now enveloped by modern development.

  3. The plan you refer to as a 'feuing' plan is Major Henderson’s 'visionary' ‘Plan of Bridge of Allan’ from 'A Week at Bridge of Allan'. It was included as a folding plate in the guide 'A Week at Bridge of Allan' by Charles Roger (later Rogers). The ‘Plan’ shows the main Stirling to Perth turnpike road (the future Henderson Street) running from east to west and over the Old Bridge of Allan. To the north-east of the Old Bridge is Westerton House which was the home of Major John Alexander Henderson (1806-1858). The crescents of new houses were never built and most of the other new streets were built to a different layout. This ‘Plan’ was not included in the 1st edition of 'A Week at Bridge of Allan' of which 1,000 copies were printed in 1851. The ‘Plan’ was printed and circulated separately for Major Henderson and it was incorporated into the 2nd ‘subscription’ edition of 'A Week at Bridge of Allan' (with double the amount of information) of which 500 copies were printed in May 1853. The ‘Plan’ is also included in the 3rd edition of 'A Week at Bridge of Allan' printed in July 1853 and subsequent editions. It does not show the houses actually built and cannot have been used for 'feuing' - it was meant to promote his ideas for developing Bridge of Allan.
    Best wishes,
    David Flint (author of 'Poem Jenny: Janet Reid (1777-1854)of Carnock & Bridge of Allan, Scotland: On discovering the 'unpolished' poems of a forgotten 'poetess'.

    1. Many thanks for this correction; I have now adjusted my text accordingly.

      Nick Kingsley

  4. Hi. I lived in Westerton House in the late 1970's and it was my husband, John Edmunds, who supervised and divided the building into apartments. Not the building firm as mentioned.

    1. Thank you for getting in touch. I will be happy to make a correction above if you can give me a little more information. Did your husband buy the house in 1975, and were Ogilvys perhaps the firm he employed to undertake the conversion or to build in the grounds?


Please leave a comment if you have any additional information or corrections to offer, or if you are able to help with additional images of the people or buildings in this post.