As the photograph shows, the memorial is now partly overgrown. The inscription is as follows, and tells a sad tale of infant mortality; of the nine children who were listed here, only two survived to adulthood:
"Peter and Helen Denny
In memory of their children:
James Leslie born 6th April 1851 died 2nd April 1852
Violet Nicol – 28th Feb 1849 – 18th July 1855
Helen Leslie – 28th Jan 1857 – 31st March 1859
Robert Alexander – 14th July 1863 – 13th July 1866
Edward Blackmore – 6th June 1865 – 2nd May 1870
Susan – 18th Sept 1866 – 27th June 1870
Ruth Bouverie – 25th Aug 1869 – 6th Feb 1874
William – 25th May 1847 – 17th March 1887
Christian McIntyre – 3rd May 1855 – 21st March 1887
The above Peter Denny, LL.D.,
Born 31st Oct 1821, died 22nd Aug 1895.
Helen Leslie, wife of the above Peter Denny,
Born 14th Oct 1827, died 5th March 1905."
The father, Dr Peter Denny, is also commemorated by means of a statue in front of Dumbarton's Municipal Buildings: NS3975 : Statue of Peter Denny
. Peter was the sixth of the seven sons of William Denny (first of the Woodyard – NS3974 : Woodyard House
). This family (the Dennys of Braehead) was very prominent in local shipbuilding, and Peter was no exception (see Link
for a discussion of the family).
When his older brother, William Denny (second of the Woodyard) returned from America to begin iron shipbuilding at Dumbarton in 1844, he took his brothers Alexander and Peter into partnership. Later, another brother, James, joined the firm, which was called Denny Brothers; when Alexander left in 1849, it carried on as William Denny and Brothers.
[For brothers William and James, see NS4075 : Memorial to William Denny
and NS4075 : Memorial to James Denny
In 1870, Peter Denny sat as member of a Parliamentary Committee (presided over by Lord Dufferin, then Under-Secretary of State for War) on the design of warships. He received the honorary degree of LL.D. from Glasgow University in 1890. In 1891, he was elected president, for that year, of the Institute of Marine Engineers.
In 1885, Dr Denny, together with John McMillan (son of Archibald McMillan – NS3975 : Memorial to Archibald McMillan
), gifted Levengrove Park – Link
– to the town at a cost to themselves of £20,000. In 1890, he presented Knoxland Square to the burgh.
Peter Denny also served as Provost of Dumbarton (1851-54; not to be confused with Peter Denny of Castlegreen, another of Dumbarton's Provosts, who belonged to a different family – NS4076 : Memorial to the Dennys of Castlegreen
Dr Denny married Helen, a daughter of James Leslie (Peter's brother Archibald married Helen's sister Janet). The couple lived at Helenslee House, a building that was later to serve as the main building of a school: NS3875 : Helenslee House / Keil School
The Helenslee Family Memorial is 26 feet 6 inches high; the architect was John MacLeod, who was responsible for many other memorials in the cemetery. For a closer look at the upper part, see NS4075 : The Helenslee Family Memorial (detail)
[See Donald MacLeod's book "The God's Acres of Dumbarton" (1888), for short biographies of several members of the Denny family, and for details of the monument itself. The same author's "Dumbarton: Its Recent Men and Events" provides further details of Dr Denny's life.]