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Eglinton Castle

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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Eglinton Castle, the chief seat of the Earl of Eglinton, in Kilwinning parish, Ayrshire, on the left bank of Lugton Water, 2½ miles N of Irvine. A castellated edifice of 1798, it comprises a large round keep and round corner turrets, connected by a curtain - to use the language of fortification. The whole is pierced with rows of modern sash-windows, which in some degree destroy the outward effect, but add to the internal comfort. The interior corresponds with the magnitude and grandeur of the exterior. A spacious entrancehall leads to a saloon 36 feet in diameter, the whole height of the edifice, and lighted from above; and off this open the principal rooms. All are furnished and adorned in the most sumptuous manner; and one of them in the front is 52 feet long, 32 wide, and 24 high. Everything about the castle contributes to an imposing display of splendid elegance and refined taste. Nor are the lawns around it less admired for their fine woods, varied surfaces, and beautiful scenery. The park is 1200 acres in extent, and has one-third of its area in plantation.

The first of the Anglo-Norman family of Montgomery that settled in Scotland was Robert (1103-78), who probably was a nephew of the third Earl of Shrewsbury, and who, soon after June 1157, obtained from his father-in-law, Walter the Steward, a grant of the lands of Eaglesham, in Renfrewshire. This was, for more than two centuries, the chief possession of the Scottish branch of the Montgomeries. Sir John de Montgomerie, ninth of Eaglesham, married Elizabeth, daughter and sole heiress of Sir Hugh de Eglinton, and through her acquired the baronies of Eglinton and Ardrossan, the former of which had been held by her ancestors from the 11th century. At the battle of Otterburn (1388) he had the command of part of the Scottish army under the brave Earl of Douglas, and, by his personal valour and military conduct, contributed not a little to that celebrated victory. The renowned Harry Percy, best known as Hotspur, who commanded the English, Sir John took prisoner with his own hands; and with the ransom he received for him, he built the castle of Polnoon in Eaglesham. His grandson, Sir Alexander Montgomerie, was raised by James II., before 1444, to the title of Lord Montgomerie; and his greatgrandson, Hugh, third Lord Montgomerie (1460-1545), was created Earl of Eglinton in 1508, having previously entered upon a feud with the Earl of Glencairn, which long continued between their descendants, and occasionally broke forth in deeds of violence, such as the burning of Eglinton in 1528. Hugh, fourth earl, a youth of singular promise, had enjoyed his inheritance only ten mouths when he fell a victim to this hereditary feud. Riding from his own castle towards Stirling on 20 April 1586, he was, near the bridge of Annick, waylaid and shot by David Cunningham of Robertland and other Cunninghams, emissaries of the Earl of Glencairn. So late as twenty years after this event, on 1 July 1606, the old feud broke out in a violent tumult at Perth, under the very eyes of parliament and the privy council. In the 18th century, all the valuable improvements in gardening, planting, and agriculture, which, during half a century, were made in the parish of Kilwinning, and throughout a great part of Ayrshire, proceeded, in great measure, from the spirited exertions, combined with the fine taste, of Alexander, tenth earl, who was murdered near Ardrossan in 1769. Nor was Hugh, twelfth earl (1740-1819), less distinguished for his magnificent and costly schemes to enrich the district of Cunningham, and advance the public weal of Scotland, by improving the harbour of Ardrossan, and cutting a canal to it from the city of Glasgow. Under his successor was held, in August 1839, a gorgeous pageant, the Eglinton Tournament, one of the actors in which was Prince Louis Napoleon, afterwards Emperor of the French, whilst the Queen of Beauty was Lady Seymour, a grand-daughter of Sheridan. The present and fourteenth Earl, Archibald William Montgomerie (b. 1841; suc. 1861), holds 23, 631 acres in Ayrshire, valued at £46, 551 per annum, including £9520½ for minerals and £4525½ for harbour works. See Ardrossan, Skelmorlie, Seton, and William Fraser's Memorials of the Montgomeries (2 vols., Edinb., 1859).—Ord. Sur., sh. 22, 1865.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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