Dumbarton Cemetery

Creative Commons License Text by Lairich Rig, November 2011 ; This work is dedicated to the Public Domain.
Images are under a separate Creative Commons Licence.


NS4075 : Dumbarton Cemetery entrance by Lairich RigThe main entrance of the cemetery.

Dumbarton Cemetery was formally opened in October of 1854. This article describes the town's older burial grounds, the closure and gradual diminution of the parish churchyard, and the events and circumstances related to the creation of the new cemetery. Some of the historic memorials are discussed and pictured.

Much of this article is based on Donald MacLeod's "The God's Acres of Dumbarton", a work that is long out of copyright, but to which few modern readers will have access. For this reason, I have chosen to put the text of present article into the public domain (note that the images within it are licensed under different terms).

Earlier burial grounds

St Serf's Church

An early burial ground was located beside the ruins of St Serf's ChurchExternal link in what is today Levengrove Park.

This area was originally part of the parish of Cardross, and St Serf's was then the parish church; however, the parish boundaries have changed, and the area is today part of the town of Dumbarton. For the most part, the history of the church itself is not relevant to the present discussion, but it is worth noting the burial here of the viscera of King Robert the Bruce in June of 1329, as recorded by a plaque beside the ruins. (Robert's heart was buried at Melrose Abbey, and his body at Dunfermline Abbey.)
NS3975 : The ruins of St Serf's Church by Lairich RigNS3975 : Plaque beside the ruins of St Serf's church by Lairich Rig(left) Ruins of St Serf's.
(right) Plaque: Robert the Bruce.

The church is located near an old well, Shear's Well, which is now represented only by an old water pumpExternal link (in 1714, a pipe was laid across the bed of the River Leven to conduct the water from here to serve Dumbarton's town well, but as the town later grew, that supply would prove insufficient).

There was formerly a cluster of buildings around the church; these made up the clachan of Under Kirkton. Even after a new parish church was built (elsewhere) in the mid-seventeenth century, a few burials continued to take place here at the ruins of St Serf's. By 1888, there were still one or two people who could recall interments taking place here within their own lifetime.

The Dixon family acquired this area in 1805, and they built Levengrove House (which is now long gone) nearby. About 1820, they lifted up the old gravestones that were beside the ruined church, before ploughing up that burial ground. As a result, only a couple of the earlier stones survive. They are located within the ruined church; one of them is marked with a shield and cross, and is shown below. The other old stone is located beside it; even in the late nineteenth century, only a few words of its inscription were legible.

The Dixons used the ruined church as their own mausoleum; inside the eastern gable, they fastened some marble tablets commemorating various members of their family (in the above view of the ruined church, the eastern gable is at the far end). However, their own family gravestones did not escape destruction. In the nineteenth century, some children managed to get into the ruined church, and, wanting smaller pieces to play with, they broke up the marble tablets.

Aside from the two earlier surviving stones, already mentioned, there are half a dozen stones within the church that date from the Dixons' era (some of them may be fragments of the smashed marble tablets). Several have text on top, e.g., "JD 1832", "JD 1838", and "AK 1851". The JDs are presumably Dixons, but the AK stone (which is illustrated below) is thought to commemorate a certain Ann Knox, a relative of the Dixons; the Knoxland area of DumbartonExternal link is perhaps named after that family (see Memorial to Robert BuchananExternal link for more on that subject).

NS3975 : Gravestone in ruins of St Serf's church by Lairich RigNS3975 : Gravestone in ruins of St Serf's Church by Lairich Rig(left) The AK stone.
(right) Old gravestone marked with shield and cross.

About 1885, Major Robert Dixon erected a large red granite slab within the east gable of the ruined church; it can be seen on the end-wall in a view of the ruinsExternal link. Its inscription commemorates several members of the family; the stone also bears the Dixon coat-of-arms and the family motto.

The ruins of the church are located within what were once the extensive grounds of Levengrove House. In 1885, these lands were presented to the town as Levengrove ParkExternal link, the gift of Peter DennyExternal link and John McMillanExternal link.

The Parish Churchyard

The direct predecessor of Dumbarton Cemetery is the burial ground at Dumbarton Parish Church. The parish churchyard now survives only in greatly reduced form, with less than two dozen of its old stones remaining. Again, the history of the church itself is not directly relevant here, except where it has had consequences for the churchyard.

(For pictures and details of some of the surviving memorials in the churchyard, see the next few sections of this article.)

The churchyard used to be considerably larger, extending southwards as far as the River Leven on one side; it also extended further (about ten or twelve feet) westwards into what is now Church Place; and further to the north, where it was bounded by a line of houses called Beggar Row.

When the present parish church was built (on the site of several earlier ones) in 1811, the northern boundary wall was shifted three feet to the south. In February 1880, a few more feet were taken from the northern side of the churchyard.

Long ago, the churchyard appears to have been treated with little respect. Donald MacLeod, writing in 1888, says that, in the past, young children would make a game of trying to get around the churchyard without touching the grass, by hopping from one flat stone to another; older children would settle disputes here with fisticuffs, these fights being conducted according to strict rules. It is even said that cock-fighting took place in the churchyard.

The burial ground was under the management of the Kirk Session, but its day-to-day care was left largely to the sexton and his assistants. It eventually became extremely overcrowded (see the start of the section entitled ProposalsExternal link, below).

Watching the dead

There was at one time a Mort House at the southern end of the burial ground; from there, a nightly vigil was kept over the churchyard. An attempt to rob a grave had been foiled on a dark night in 1829, the culprits leaving their tools behind when they fled. As a result, a watch was kept from the Mort House from 1830 to about 1837/8. Most of the adults from the burgh were liable to be selected for this duty. Day by day, two names would be drawn from a box, and then placed into a second box. Eventually, when the first box was empty, the names would be drawn from the second box and placed into the first; and so on. Those selected by this method did not necessarily have to perform the duty themselves; it was perfectly acceptable for them to find someone who was willing to take their place. While many would consider keeping watch over the graves a grim chore, there were a few people who were content, now and again, to take on this duty in return for some small compensation. The Mort House had a slot in the side to receive donations; these were intended to go towards the cost of fuel for a fire to keep the watchers warm, but they were not always used in that way.

Despite the watch that was kept on the churchyard, a grave was robbed here in 1830. The body was that of a man who had been a patient, with an uncommon disease, at the Infirmary in Glasgow, and suspicion therefore fell on the city's medical students. It was said that the robbers had marked the new grave before dark by scattering herring scales on it (these were supposed to emit a ghostly glow in the dark). Later, another body was taken, that of an 80-year-old woman who had also been a patient at the Infirmary in Glasgow (suspicion once again fell on medical students), but the offence was not discovered until six years after the original burial, when the grave was opened for another interment, and was found to contain only an empty coffin.

The oldest stones

Given that there have been churches on this site from a very early date, there are surprisingly few stones of great age here. Donald MacLeod gives one possible explanation for this: he wrote that if a stone was required for Dumbarton's parish churchyard, then an existing gravestone (of a family that no longer had any representatives in the area) might be chiselled clean and given a new inscription; if the results of this were unsatisfactory, the stone might simply be broken up and the pieces buried.

What is evidently the oldest surviving stone is one that is about 6 feet long by 2 feet broad, and which was found in about the 1870s, two feet below ground level. Carved on it is a cross, with a sword hanging from one of its arms. It was found near the spot where the high altar of the pre-Reformation church would have stood, and it seems to have been part of a flagged passageway. The stone was perhaps associated with a crusader, or with the son or other relative of a crusader. The crusader stone is not displayed in the parish churchyard, but a small photograph of it appears on page 17 of "Historic Dumbarton: The Scottish burgh survey" (1999; Dennison/Coleman).

The next oldest stone was found under the floor of the church in the nineteenth century; it was made of sandstone, and measured about 3 feet long by 1 feet wide; it bore the inscription "HERE LYES / JAMES SMOLL/ET, SON TO / TOBIAS SMOL/ET; OF BONLL / WHO DEPAIR/TED THIS LIFE / THE 23 IVNE 1698". The Tobias Smollett mentioned here is not the better known author of that nameExternal link, who was from Renton, and who was born at Dalquhurn HouseExternal link; however the two are related. The Tobias mentioned on this stone was the eldest son of Sir James Smollett of Bonhill, and was Provost of Dumbarton from 1696 to 1704. Some time after its discovery, the stone was built into the east wall of the churchyard. In 1972, when much of the churchyard was to be cleared away, the James Smollett stone was reclaimed by the Smollett family and was removed from the churchyard.

Reduction in size

As was noted above, some space was taken from the northern end of the churchyard in 1811 when the present church was built (on the site of its predecessor); at that time, the northern boundary was shifted three feet southwards. The churchyard was finally closed in 1856 (the circumstances leading up to this are described belowExternal link). The council would later take advantage of this closure to widen the adjacent Castle StreetExternal link. This attracted much local opposition, but the work was carried out by night, in February of 1880; navvies cleared away the graves from the relevant part of the churchyard, dismantled the northern boundary wall, and then rebuilt it in its present position.

In 1910, the shipbuilder Archibald McMillanExternal link, whose shipyard was adjacent to the churchyard, was given permission to purchase part of its land; he expanded his shipyard into that area, taking space from the churchyard's southern side, after which he built a new southern boundary wall for it. (McMillan's own memorial is illustrated belowExternal link.)

In 1972, much of what was left of the burial ground was cleared away to make space for the church halls that now stand there. Before that work began, the approximately 170 gravestones were photographed, and had their inscriptions recorded. This survey took place in 1969, and the resulting records are reproduced in "Dumbarton Parish Church in History" (see ReferencesExternal link, at the end of this article). The same work notes that, at the time of its writing (after the church halls had been built), there remained only 18 memorial stones, with three more below ground level. One stone that had been missed during the 1969 survey was found later, when ivy was cleared from a wall; it is the Drysdale Memorial, which is shown below.

NS3975 : Dumbarton Riverside Parish Church by Lairich RigNS3975 : Dumbarton Riverside Parish Church by Lairich RigNS3975 : The Drysdale Memorial by Lairich Rig(left, middle) Dumbarton Riverside Parish Church.
(right) The Drysdale Memorial. Romeo Drysdale was Master Gunner at nearby Dumbarton CastleExternal link.

Surviving memorials

As noted above, a memorial for the shipbuilder Archibald McMillan is still present in the now greatly-diminished churchyard; it is illustrated below (a monumentExternal link in Dumbarton Cemetery commemorates his son John McMillan senior, and his grandson John McMillan junior; it is illustrated laterExternal link in this article). Also shown below is the gravestone of Janet McIntyre. A few more stones are located in a little passage behind the church halls; among them is the gravestone, now mostly buried, of John Aroll, a schoolteacher who was murdered.

There are some separate lairs adjoining the main body of the churchyard to the east, one being the Napier Vault, the burial place of Robert Napier, engineer and shipbuilder; the other lair, which was originally that of the Campbells of BarnhillExternal link, now contains the gravestones of John Brown, who was responsible for building Dumbarton BridgeExternal link, and of James Oliphant, who was the minister of Dumbarton Parish Church, now called Dumbarton Riverside Parish ChurchExternal link.

NS3975 : Memorial to Archibald McMillan by Lairich RigNS3975 : The gravestone of Janet McIntyre by Lairich RigNS3975 : Plaque at the site of John Aroll's gravestone by Lairich Rig(left) Archibald McMillan.
(middle) Janet McIntyre.
(right) John Aroll.
NS3975 : The Napier Vault by Lairich RigNS3975 : The gravestone of John Brown by Lairich RigNS3975 : The gravestone of James Oliphant by Lairich Rig(left) The Napier Vault.
(middle) John Brown.
(right) James Oliphant.

An illustration of the Janet McIntyre stone also appears in Donald MacLeod's "Dumbarton: Ancient and Modern" (1893). Of the old stones that are no longer present, he notes (in another work) that, in addition to the usual symbols of mortality, one of their number was further adorned with scissors and a tailor's goose; he does not give the name, but the 1969 survey of the gravestones shows that it belonged to "Patrick Young, taylor", who died in March 1716. That stone is no longer present.

The memorial to John Aroll, shown above, is set against the southern boundary wallExternal link of the kirkyard. A number of old stones are located here, partially buried in order to protect them from weathering, but with plaques alongside them to identify them. Among the stones located here is one for Captain James LangExternal link, who served on Dumbarton's steamboats; though buried here in Dumbarton, he is also commemorated by a memorial in Greenock CemeteryExternal link.

Nearby, against the same wall, is the gravestone of John BellExternal link, flesher; he was one of many who died in October 1825 when the steamer they were travelling on, the Comet (II), collided with the "Ayr".

Also set against this wall is the gravestone of William McAllaExternal link of the Ayrshire Militia; he fell from the eastern side of Dumbarton Castle in 1812. When Dorothy Wordsworth visited Dumbarton in 1822, she spent some time here in the Parish Kirkyard. She noticed this stone, and commented on its verse. Incidentally, she found the kirkyard to be rather overgrown, and not well tended, but it was still a pleasant location from which to look out over the River Leven. An adjacent stone, not present when Dorothy Wordsworth visited, is for Private Charles Kerr, who died in a very similar manner by falling from the north-eastern part of Dumbarton Castle in 1825.

West Bridgend

In the 1790s, land was feued at West Bridgend, in what is now part of Dumbarton, for the building of a church, and for an adjacent burial ground. Three churches would be built in succession at this site. The first building (1794) is no longer in existence. The third church buildingExternal link, which opened in 1888, is still in use, and is now called the West Kirk. The second church buildingExternal link, which opened in 1860, stands beside it, and now serves as church halls.

As for the associated burial ground, it was still present in 1969, when it was surveyed by John F Mitchell and Sheila Mitchell for the Scottish Genealogy Society (whose published records of pre-1855 monumental inscriptions here and elsewhere are very useful for research purposes). Since then, it has been almost entirely cleared away. All that remains are the Buchanan Memorial and MacAuslan Memorial. A War Memorial (First World War) that stands nearby was brought here from Dalreoch Church, which has since been demolished (its congregation was merged with that of West Bridgend; both now use the present-day West Kirk); the original West Bridgend congregation's own War Memorial (also for the First World War) is located inside the West Kirk. Although they were originally located beside different churches, the two war memorials were presented at the same time, in October of 1921.

NS3975 : Dumbarton West Kirk by Lairich RigNS3975 : Dumbarton West Kirk: church halls by Lairich RigNS3975 : Dumbarton West Kirk: former burial ground by Lairich Rig(left) The West Kirk, the third church on this site, opened in 1888.
(middle) The second church on the site opened in 1860, and is now employed as church halls.
(right) The cleared burial ground.
NS3975 : Dumbarton West Kirk: the Buchanan Memorial by Lairich RigNS3975 : Dumbarton West Kirk: the MacAuslan Memorial by Lairich RigNS3975 : War Memorial from Dalreoch Church by Lairich Rig(left) The Buchanan Memorial.
(middle) The MacAuslan Memorial.
(right) This War Memorial was brought here from the now-demolished Dalreoch Church.

Dumbarton Cemetery

Proposals

The churchyard associated with Dumbarton Parish Church eventually became overcrowded, so much so that, in order to determine where there was room for another burial, it was sometimes necessary to use a metal rod to probe beneath the soil.

There would clearly be need for additional burial ground at some point. As it was, plans for the creation of a new cemetery for Dumbarton were to originate with William DennyExternal link, a member of a famous Dumbarton shipbuilding family (the family will be described belowExternal link). The ideas took shape in the course of informal discussions William was engaged in at the offices of his brother Archibald Denny's shipbuilding yard at the Churchyard (i.e., the same location that would later be occupied by Archibald McMillanExternal link's shipyard).

A company would be formed in order to pursue this project. William's brother Peter DennyExternal link would become the largest shareholder in that company, which was established at a meeting convened by Peter (who was then Provost of the Burgh) in the Court-hall, Dumbarton, on the 25th of April, 1853.

Land, extending to "11 acres, 7 poles, imperial measure", was feued from Alexander Smollett of Bonhill, at 52 10s 9d per annum (during the twentieth century, the cemetery was expanded to include some more land to the north). The area was laid out according to plans prepared by Mr Stewart MurrayExternal link, and the work was supervised by him. Murray was also involved in laying out Paisley's Woodside CemeteryExternal link (1845), Greenock CemeteryExternal link (1846), Glasgow's Sighthill CemeteryExternal link (1840), and the Glasgow NecropolisExternal link (1833). (Note that Greenock Cemetery is the subject of an articleExternal link of its own; see that article for more on Stewart Murray.)

NS4763 : Martyrs' Monument, Woodside Cemetery by Lairich RigNS2676 : Greenock Cemetery by Lairich RigNS6067 : Sighthill Cemetery by Lairich RigNS6065 : Glasgow Necropolis by Lairich Rig
Woodside CemeteryExternal linkGreenock CemeteryExternal linkSighthill CemeteryExternal linkGlasgow NecropolisExternal link

The cost of the cemetery had been estimated at 700, but amounted to 300 more. The new cemetery was formally opened on the 4th of October, 1854. However, by special arrangement, one burial had already taken place: that of Mr William Denny, whose idea the new cemetery had been. He had died on the first of July of that same year, and was buried shortly thereafter.

Although the cemetery was now complete, the transition from burials in the old parish churchyard would not be smooth.

Controversies

Closing the parish churchyard

In "God's Acres of Dumbarton" (1888), Donald MacLeod writes, of the early years of the new cemetery, that "the interments in the new burying ground for some years after its opening were few in number, on account of the old one being still open. The living, as a rule, would persist in burying the dead in the old kirkyard, although it was quite too full".

Even though the parish churchyard was overcrowded, not all lairs were equally affected, and, as noted above, most people had a natural desire to be buried with their forebears. The proprietors of the new cemetery saw that this situation might continue almost indefinitely, and took legal steps to have the old parish churchyard closed.

On the one hand, the old churchyard was, as a whole, much too full (see ProposalsExternal link, above). On the other hand, all of those petitioning to have the old churchyard closed were shareholders in the cemetery company, which, up to this point, had been running at an annual loss; the closure of the old churchyard would certainly improve its chances of becoming a profitable venture. Some who owned lairs in the old churchyard joined forces with other interested parties in order to oppose the closure (these opponents numbered about 200 in total).

On the 24th of January, 1856, a petition was lodged, asking the Sheriff of the counties of Dumbarton and Bute to order the closure of the parish churchyard on the grounds that its state was a danger to health, offensive, and contrary to decency.

The Sheriff set Wednesday the 13th of February of that year as the date for the court of inquiry into these matters to begin. It would open at 11 o'clock, at the Court-hall, Dumbarton; the Sheriff also specified the particular newspaper issues in which the place and time of the hearing were to be advertised beforehand. The inquiry itself consisted of ten lengthy sittings.

On the 28th of March, 1856, the Sheriff (Robert Hunter) gave his judgement: he stated that he found that the petitioners had proved their allegations that the state of the churchyard was in a state dangerous to health, and offensive or contrary to decency. In a note appended to this he stated that "there must always be a marked difference of opinion as to what 'offence to decency' involves, but he holds that in the case of Dumbarton churchyard the existence of such offensiveness is clearly proved, ..."; he concluded that, even aside from the danger to health, the offensiveness or contrariness to decency of the parish churchyard was such "that the continuance of it in its present state as an authorised place of interment is wholly inadmissible".

The judgement was forwarded to the Home Secretary, who subsequently issued a notice that interments should cease in Dumbarton Churchyard after the 31st of December, 1856.

[That order did not apply to the separate burying places to the east of the churchyard, separate from it though communicating with it by gates, namely, the Napier VaultExternal link, and the enclosure that now contains the gravestones of John BrownExternal link and James OliphantExternal link (those gravestones were illustrated earlier in this article). Interments were still permitted for at least one generation in those vaults; see the note on page 135 of Joseph Irving's "The Book of Dumbartonshire" (1879), Volume 2.]

The case incurred considerable legal fees, which were paid by Provost Peter Denny.

Naturally, the strong feelings that had been roused did not subside with the conclusion of this legal case, and some residents of Dumbarton, denied the prospect of being buried with their family or forebears, expressed a preference that they be buried in other cemeteries, rather than in the newly-created Dumbarton Cemetery. For example, Archibald FergussonExternal link (a painter and town councillor), William McFarlane (a grocer), and Robert Lang (who had worked in a coalmasters' firm) were buried in the kirkyard of Alexandria Old Parish ChurchExternal link, while Lieutenant John Maxwell (an ex-bailie of the burgh) was buried in RhuExternal link [Donald MacLeod, "Historic Families ... of the Lennox" (1891), page 111].


"The Chronicles of Gotham":
As a background to these controversies, it should be noted that there was an underlying rivalry at work in Dumbarton at that time. One group was led by a self-styled "Party of Progress": those who were prominent in local industry, and who were in favour of various improvement projects (this group included the Denny family and their friends). An opposing group was made up of those who were concerned about the consequences, namely, an added burden in the form of increased rates; they consisted largely of men who carried on traditional trades and small-scale business, and the "Party of Progress" sometimes referred to them collectively as "the Old Fogies". The leader of this opposition group was the tanner John LattaExternal link [see pages 71-72 of I.M.M.MacPhail's "Dumbarton Through the Centuries" (1972)]. These opponents would find a voice when a new newspaper called the Dumbarton Chronicle (not to be confused with the Dumbarton Herald) was started in 1857.

The Chronicle proved to be fairly short-lived, but one of its features was "The Chronicles of Gotham", a series of articles that recounted various happenings in local civic life. These articles, which are thought to be largely the work of Alexander BabtieExternal link (whose brother would later become Provost of Dumbarton), adopted a mock-Biblical style, and used cryptic names for the people being discussed. The Dennys ("the Gothamites") and their friends were the main targets, but others were also mocked, including the clergy ("the tribe of Levi") and the local police ("the tribe of Lazy", or "pegs"). These articles would eventually be collected and published in book form. The "Gothamites" tried to get hold of and destroy as many copies of the book as they could, but a few of them remain in existence.

The title "The Chronicles of Gotham", the writing style, and many of the cryptic names employed in the book were borrowed from another work that had recently been published: "The Chronicles of Gotham; or, the Facetious History of Official Proceedings" (c.1856). The latter had been published in Glasgow, and was about that city, but the two works were very similar in intent as well as in style (the use of Gotham as a cryptic name goes back much further in time, and it originally referred to a real villageExternal link of that name in Nottinghamshire). For more on the matters discussed here, see page 70 of I.M.M.MacPhail's book "Lennox Lore" (1987). In my own opinion, the original Glasgow version of "The Chronicles of Gotham" was, as a work of literature, far better; the book is irreverent, but genuinely warm and funny. The Dumbarton version, in contrast, is a pale imitation of the style of the original; as well as being derivative, it has a mean and vicious tone, and it is entirely lacking in the warmth, charm, and wit that made the original Glasgow version an entertaining read. However, for all its failings, the book does at least serve as a valuable record of the controversies and social tensions of its day.

Much of the present article is based on the works of the historian Donald MacLeod (on whom, see belowExternal link). In the interests of balance, it should be pointed out that he was firmly on the side of the "Party of Progress" in these various controversies (he had been a hatter by trade, and receives notice in "The Chronicles of Gotham" as "Donald the Helmet Maker"). MacLeod's honesty in his coverage of these matters is not in question. However, it should be borne in mind when reading his accounts of these proceedings that he was not an impartial observer; he was a participant in some of the events that he describes.


Handing over the cemetery

In 1856, the proprietors of the cemetery approached the Town Council, asking them to take over its care, as well as the financial obligations associated with it. This request again stirred up opposition; some felt that the town was being presented with a white elephant. Opponents made use of the columns of a recently-started newspaper called the Dumbarton Chronicle (see above), but they were to be unsuccessful. The cemetery changed hands in 1857. Shortly thereafter, the feu-duty associated with it was redeemed for the sum of 1182 1s 10d.

The location

The cemetery was built on the lands of Stoneyflat; it slopes gently upwards from the main road (the A82), with the cemetery's high ground being at its north-eastern end. It is bounded by the main road on the south-west, by Garshake RoadExternal link on the south-east, and by the housing estate of Bellsmyre on the remaining sides. The cemetery's main entrance is at the junction of the main road and Garshake Road, which is also the eastern end of Round Riding RoadExternal link.

At the time when the cemetery was created, Round Riding Road was referred to as Roundredding Road.

Stoneyflat farm was located where the memorial of William Denny now stands (Stoneyflatt Road in nearby Bellsmyre preserves its name).

Therefore, in addition to his being the first person to be buried in the cemetery, it turns out that William Denny now rests in the very same place where an ancestress of his, a certain Margaret Denny, used to live: in the kirkyard of Dumbarton Parish Church, there used to be a gravestone commemorating "Patrick Brock, in Stonieflet" (died 23rd December 1742) and his wife Margaret Denny (died 28th February 1781).


An aside on these place names:
Working back in time, John Ainslie's 1823 map shows these names as Stonyflat, Garshake, and RoundReddan, respectively. Roy's Military Survey of Scotland (1740s-50s) has Stonnyflet(?) and Roundreddin. The Pont/Blaeu map of the Lennox, which was published in 1654, but which was based on surveys carried out in the 1580-90s, shows Stonyflet, Garshoak, and Barundridain, a name that is presumably connected with the later Roundreddin, etc., and with the modern name of Round Riding RoadExternal link. A 1609 charter by King James VI mentions Stoneflat and Gortshavock (that form of the name more clearly reflects its original meaning: see GarshakeExternal link); it also uses the names Rindredding and Roundredding.

The element "-flett" occurs in several local names: (1) Stoneyflett, already mentioned; (2) Corsflett (later Corslet and CrossletExternal link); and (3) PillanflettExternal link. The Smollett family were, at one time, feudal superiors of all three of those lands; see page 119 of "Ancient Records of Dumbarton / Ancient Records of Glasgow" (1896).


A selection of memorials

For more information on those commemorated by the memorials shown below, click on the photographs themselves; the accompanying descriptions provide much more detail, most of which is not repeated in this article.

Local historians

Pride of place in the selection of memorials shown in this article must go to Donald MacLeod and Joseph Irving, two local historians whose work continues to be of great service to all who wish to know more about Dumbarton and the surrounding area. The present article owes much to Donald MacLeod's works, in particular (see ReferencesExternal link).

NS4075 : The gravestone of Donald MacLeod by Lairich RigNS4076 : The gravestone of Joseph Irving by Lairich Rig(left) Donald MacLeod.
(right) Joseph Irving.

Shipbuilding and other industries

One of the great local shipbuilding dynasties was the McMillan family. John McMillan senior was the son of the Archibald McMillan who was mentioned earlier (and whose memorial is in the parish kirkyard). Archibald and John founded their firm, Archibald McMillan & Son, in 1834.

Walter Brock, named on the Brock Memorial, was prominent in local industry; he became the head of Denny and Brothers (shipbuilders) and of Denny and Company (engineers).

NS4075 : The McMillan Monument by Lairich RigNS4075 : The Brock Family Memorial by Lairich Rig(left) The McMillan Monument.
(right) The Brock Memorial.

The Dennys of Braehead were also prominent in Dumbarton's shipbuilding industry. They seem to have had a long presence in the area; as early as 1375, a Gilmor de Denny was recorded as one of the bailies of Dumbarton. Their association with the local shipbuilding industry began with William Denny, first of the WoodyardExternal link. He was the third son of John Denny of Townend and of Agnes Lang. He learned ship carpentry, and was, for several years, the manager of McLachlan's shipbuilding business, which was based at the Woodyard. He married Christian McIntyre, and the couple had four daughters and seven sons. Their sons were, in order, John, James, Robert, William, Alexander, Peter, and Archibald. Memorials for four of those brothers (William, Archibald, James and Peter) are shown below. Memorials for many other members of the extended family can be found in the same area; other relatives are commemorated by tablets attached to the Denny Family Mausoleum.

NS4075 : Memorial to William Denny by Lairich RigNS4075 : Memorial to William Denny (detail) by Lairich Rig(left, right) William Denny, second of the WoodyardExternal link, originated the plan for the creation of Dumbarton Cemetery, and he was the first person to be buried in it.
NS4075 : Memorial to Archibald Denny by Lairich RigNS4075 : Memorial to James Denny by Lairich Rig(left) Archibald Denny, the youngest of the brothers.
(right) James Denny.
NS4075 : The Helenslee Family Memorial by Lairich RigNS4075 : The Helenslee Family Memorial (detail) by Lairich Rig(left, right) The Helenslee Family Memorial commemorates the family of Peter Denny of HelensleeExternal link; he is also commemorated by a statueExternal link in front of Dumbarton's Municipal BuildingsExternal link.
NS4076 : The Denny family mausoleum by Lairich RigNS4076 : The Denny family mausoleum by Lairich Rig(left, right) The Denny Family Mausoleum.

The Dennys of Castlegreen were also active in the local shipbuilding industry; they were not closely related to the Dennys of Braehead, although there was a more distant relation between the two families. Peter Denny of Castlegreen was the "Denny" of the shipbuilding firm Denny and Rankin (like his namesake, Peter Denny of Helenslee, he would become the Provost of Dumbarton). Daniel Rankin was his business partner, the "Rankin" of Denny and Rankin. John Tulloch was partner with Peter Denny of Helenslee (not of Castlegreen) and with John McAusland, in the engineering firm Tulloch, Denny and McAusland. John McAusland was the son of a ropemaker, Daniel McAuslandExternal link, whose memorial is located near the entrance of the cemetery (it is pictured later in this article).

NS4076 : Memorial to the Dennys of Castlegreen by Lairich RigNS4076 : The gravestone of Daniel Rankin by Lairich RigNS4076 : Memorial to John Tulloch by Lairich Rig(left) Dennys of Castlegreen.
(middle) Daniel Rankin.
(right) John Tulloch.

From this point onwards, see the captions accompanying the images. Click on the images for larger views, and for much more information.

NS4076 : Memorial to Robert Ritchie, Engineer by Lairich RigNS4076 : The McGaan Memorial by Lairich RigNS4075 : Memorial to Samuel Brewer by Lairich Rig(left) Robert Ritchie, foreman engineer.
(middle) Andrew McGaan, partner in the Dennystown Forge Company.
(right) Samuel Brewer, foreman engineer.

Doctors and surgeons

NS4076 : Memorial to Dr William Graham by Lairich RigNS4076 : Memorial to Dr William Swan Stuart by Lairich Rig(left) The obelisk commemorates Dr William Graham; for the memorial beside it, see the next image.
(right) Dr William Swan Stuart; he was Dr Graham's father-in-law.
NS4076 : Memorial to Robert Buchanan by Lairich RigNS4076 : The Richard Memorial by Lairich Rig(left) The grey granite sarcophagus of Dr Robert Buchanan, who practised medicine in Dumbarton for over 50 years.
(right) Dr Benjamin Maule Richard came to Dumbarton in 1832, "the cholera year".

Sculptors and architects

NS4076 : Memorial to William Young: detail by Lairich RigNS4075 : The Gilfillan Memorial by Lairich Rig(left) The memorial for William Young, sculptor, features a warning angel.
(right) John Gilfillan, sculptor, was likewise responsible for many of the memorials in the cemetery.
NS4076 : Memorial to John McLeod, Town Architect by Lairich RigNS4076 : The Wotherspoon Memorial by Lairich Rig(left) John McLeod was Dumbarton's Town Architect. He also designed some of the memorials in this cemetery.
(right) Michael Wotherspoon, architect, was responsible for laying out a new portion of this cemetery.

Societies and fraternities

NS4075 : The Oddfellows' Monument by Lairich RigNS4076 : Ancient Shepherds' Monument (detail) by Lairich RigNS4075 : Memorial to John McKechnie by Lairich Rig(left) The Independent Order of Oddfellows (Manchester Unity) was an early arrival in the area.
(middle) Commemorating the opening of the Pride of Leven Lodge of Ancient Shepherds.
(right) For John McKechnie; erected by Dumbarton Kilwinning Lodge of Freemasons No 18. Compare the inscription on John Brown's gravestone, mentioned earlierExternal link in this article.

Other memorials


NS4076 : Memorial to the Campbells of Barnhill by Lairich RigNS4076 : The Risk Family Memorial by Lairich RigNS4076 : The Risk Family Memorial (detail) by Lairich Rig(left) The Campbells of Barnhill included Alexander Campbell of Barnhill (Sheriff-Substitute of Renfrewshire), Humphrey Walter Campbell of Crosslet (Sheriff-Substitute of Dumbartonshire), and Neil Colquhoun Campbell (Sheriff of Ayrshire); the family was connected by marriage to the Mackenzies of CaldarvanExternal link and the Whites of Overtoun (see next row).
(middle, right) Those commemorated by the Risk Family Memorial include William Risk and his son James Blair Risk, both of whom became Provost of Dumbarton.
NS4076 : The White Memorial by Lairich RigNS4076 : The Bennett Memorials by Lairich RigNS4076 : The John Proudfoot Memorial by Lairich Rig(left) The Whites of Overtoun included the industrialist James WhiteExternal link, and his son John Campbell White, who became the first (and only) Lord Overtoun (see Overtoun HouseExternal link).
(middle) The Bennett Memorials commemorate Samuel Bennett (a newspaper proprietor and editor who became Provost of Dumbarton) and his brother Thomas.
(right) John Proudfoot prospered in business in South America.
NS4076 : Memorial to Joshua H Wilkinson by Lairich RigNS4075 : The Jackson Memorial by Lairich RigNS4075 : The gravestone of Talwin Morris by Lairich Rig(left) Dumbarton F.C. goalkeeper Joshua H Wilkinson died as the result of injuries received when playing against Rangers at Ibrox in 1921.
(middle) The Jackson Memorial mentions the Gretna Rail DisasterExternal link of 1915.
(right) The gravestone of Talwin Morris was designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Talwin lived at Dunglass CastleExternal link from 1893 to 1899. He designed the Blackie Family MemorialExternal link in Glasgow NecropolisExternal link.
NS4076 : Memorial to John Latta by Lairich RigNS4075 : Gravestone of Daniel McAusland by Lairich RigNS4076 : Memorial to Robert Glassford Mitchell by Lairich Rig(left) John Latta, a tanner by trade, was a Town Councillor, and served as the Council's Treasurer. He was a man with strong religious and political views.
(middle) Daniel McAusland, ropemaker; just inside the cemetery's main entrance. John Tulloch, mentioned earlierExternal link, was a business partner of Daniel's son John McAusland.
(right) Robert Glassford Mitchell, Procurator Fiscal of Dumbartonshire.
NS4076 : Memorial to the Ewings of Strathleven by Lairich RigNS4076 : The Janet Rankin Memorial by Lairich RigNS4076 : The Janet Rankin Memorial (detail) by Lairich Rig(left) The Ewings (latterly, the Crum Ewings) of StrathlevenExternal link (formerly called Levenside). See also the memorial to James EwingExternal link in Glasgow NecropolisExternal link.
(middle, right) Janet Rankin was the daughter of the shipowner William Rankin.
NS4076 : Memorial to William Whyte, Shipowner by Lairich RigNS4076 : Memorial fountain by Lairich RigNS4076 : Memorial fountain (detail) by Lairich Rig(left) William Whyte, Dumbarton councillor and shipowner.
(middle, right) The Memorial Fountain. Intended as a war memorial, this fountain was the gift of the London-Dumbartonshire Association.
NS4075 : Memorial to John Denny, Town Clerk by Lairich RigNS4076 : Memorial to Alexander Denny, Town Clerk by Lairich RigNS4076 : Memorial to Alexander Allan, Town Clerk by Lairich Rig(left) John Denny, Town Clerk. Jointly succeeded by his son Alexander Denny and by his son-in-law Alexander Allan.
(middle) Alexander Denny, Town Clerk. John's eldest son.
(right) Alexander Allan, Town Clerk. Brother-in-law of Alexander Denny, and joint successor, with him, of John Denny.
NS4076 : Memorial to Isaac Barrett by Lairich RigNS4076 : The Babtie Memorials by Lairich RigNS4076 : Babtie Memorial: detail by Lairich Rig(left) Isaac Barrett, minister of Skirling Free ChurchExternal link for twenty-seven years.
(middle, right) The Babtie Memorials. William Babtie senior was Dean of Guild, and a partner in the Dumbarton Steamboat Company. His son William became Dean of the Faculty of Writers, and Procurator Fiscal for the county.
NS4076 : Dumbarton Cemetery by Lairich RigNS4076 : The Rocchiccioli Memorial by Lairich RigNS4076 : The Kirk Memorial by Lairich Rig(left) The Emma Bresciani memorial has a Latin inscription.
(middle) The Rocchiccioli Memorial (c.1921).
(right) The Kirk Family Memorial, a Gothic spire, commemorates Robert Kirk (Manager of Dumbarton Gas Works), James Kirk (spirit merchant and bailie of the burgh), and others.
NS4075 : Memorial to John Buchanan by Lairich RigNS4076 : Memorial to George Burns by Lairich RigNS4076 : Memorial to Donald Cameron by Lairich Rig(left) John Buchanan, a glue manufacturer by trade, Town Councillor, and Provost.
(middle) George Burns, Justice of the Peace and Honorary Sheriff-Substitute of Dumbartonshire.
(right) Donald Cameron, Water Manager and Harbour Superintendent at Dumbarton.
NS4076 : The Davidson Memorial by Lairich RigNS4076 : Memorial to John Hetherton by Lairich RigNS4076 : Garvie and MacLean Memorials by Lairich Rig(left) James Davidson, a tanner by trade, often served on the Town Council as a representative of the merchant burgesses.
(middle) John Hetherton, candle-maker.
(right) The cross is the memorial of Allan MacLean, wine and spirit merchant. The obelisk commemorates Allan's son-in-law and business partner Archibald Fraser Garvie, who became Provost of Dumbarton.
NS4076 : Memorial to Provost MacNeil by Lairich RigNS4076 : The McGregor Memorial by Lairich RigNS4075 : Memorial to Roderick McKenzie by Lairich Rig(left) Thomas MacNeil, merchant and Provost of Dumbarton.
(middle) The finely-sculpted memorial of the joiner Peter McGregor and his family.
(right) Roderick McKenzie, "an old disciple"; a brief record of an eventful life.
NS4076 : The Allan Memorial by Lairich RigNS4076 : The Allan Memorial: detail by Lairich RigNS4075 : The Cochran/MacFarlane Memorial by Lairich Rig(left, middle) The Allan Memorial, for James and Ralph Wylie Allan and their relatives.
(right) The Cochran/MacFarlane Memorial pre-dates this cemetery. It was moved here from the Parish Kirkyard in 1911.
NS4076 : Memorial to James Boyd by Lairich RigNS4076 : The Cuninghame Steele Memorial by Lairich RigNS4076 : The Ward Family Memorial by Lairich Rig(left) The memorial for James Boyd, a grocer at Dumbarton's West Bridgend, was sculpted by Charles Benham Grassby.
(middle) For Sheriff William Cuninghame Steele and his family.
(right) The Ward Family Monument, a red granite obelisk erected by John and Helen Ward.

This is a good point at which to acknowledge the efforts of those who work hard to maintain the cemetery, dealing with the damage wrought by (amongst other things) adverse weather, occasional storms, and the passage of time.

NS4076 : Dumbarton Cemetery by Lairich RigNS4076 : Dumbarton Cemetery by Lairich RigNS4076 : Dumbarton Cemetery by Lairich Rig(left) The northern margins of the cemetery's original extent.
(middle, right) The newer part of the cemetery.

The future

Dumbarton Cemetery has served the town for over 150 years. During the twentieth century, it was enlarged to include some additional land to the north; nevertheless, according to reports in local newspapers, it is expected that the cemetery will run out of space within the decade. According to those reports (see the Lennox Herald issue of 4th of March, 2011), land has been purchased for a new cemetery at nearby High Garshake (High Garshake is the name of an area near Garshake Water WorksExternal link).

NS4176 : Field at High Garshake by Lairich RigNS4176 : Field at High Garshake by Lairich RigHigh Garshake in July 2013.

When the above pictures were taken, construction of the new cemetery had not yet begun; a public consultation was still taking place.

References






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