This imposing structure is situated at the western edge of Dumbarton Cemetery (near what was at one time the north-western extremity of the cemetery, before the latter was expanded). For a view of the structure from a distance, see NS4076 : Memorial to the Campbells of Barnhill
The memorial commemorates the Campbells of Barnhill (NS4275 : Barnhill House
), some of whom served in the capacity of Sheriff, and their relatives.
There are five panels within the monument, each listing several names, so that, in total, upwards of twenty individuals, too many to discuss here, are commemorated. Instead, only a few prominent individuals will be discussed, as well as the marriages by which particular surnames entered the family, since these are key to understanding what would otherwise be a rather confusing list of names.
Those listed here are descendants of the Colquhouns of Barnhill, and the Colquhoun surname appears several times in the inscriptions. The association of the Colquhoun name with the lands of Barnhill began sometime before 1543. In that year, John Colquhoun of Luss granted a feu charter of the western half of the lands of Barnhill to another John Colquhoun (perhaps a relative) and to his wife, Janet Lang.
In the 1730s, their descendant Humphrey Colquhoun (separated by five generations from the above John and Janet) came into possession of the lands of Barnhill. Humphrey was a bailie of Dumbarton, and, by his second wife Margaret Williamson (d.1802), had a son, Walter (his heir), and two daughters, Margaret and Janet.
This Janet married James Oliphant, who became the minister of Dumbarton Parish Church (his gravestone is located there, in the adjacent churchyard: NS3975 : The gravestone of James Oliphant
). As for Walter, the heir, he died, unmarried, in 1827. The other sister, Margaret Colquhoun, married Neil Campbell, the Sheriff-Substitute for Dumbartonshire, and the lands of Barnhill passed to their children.
It was by means of the marriage of Margeret Colquhoun and Neil Campbell that the Campbell surname entered the family, and it is with their children that the names on the inscription begin.
● The first of these is Alexander Campbell of Barnhill, who next came into possession of the Barnhill estates. He was born on the 4th of May, 1776, in Dumbarton. He went on to study at Glasgow University. After that, he went to Edinburgh, where he served his apprenticeship with Mr James Ferrier, Writer to the Signet, and studied law under Baron Hume. In 1802, he was appointed Sheriff-Substitute of Renfrewshire, and he served in that capacity for nearly 45 years. He retired from office in 1847, and took up residence in the mansion of Barnhill. He died on the 2nd of October, 1862. He was married to Fanny Orr, daughter of Robert Orr of Lylisland, and left two sons and six daughters, on whom more is said below.
● Next to be noted on the inscription is Humphrey Walter Campbell of Crosslet, the brother of Alexander. He was born at Dumbarton on the 4th of March 1782, and was educated at Dumbarton, then at Edinburgh. He began his professional career as Parliament House Clerk to Lord Stonefield, a Lord of Session. He was admitted Procurator in Dumbarton on the 21st of August, 1802. He managed Lord Stonefield's estate of Levenside (these lands were later renamed Strathleven; see NS3978 : Strathleven House
). He was appointed Registrar of Sasines for the counties of Argyll and Dumbarton in 1810, and was created Sheriff-Substitute for Dumbartonshire in 1820 on the death of Sheriff Gray. He married Jane Isabella, the eldest daughter of John Dixon of Levengrove (see Link
for more on the latter family); she died in 1837, and he did not marry again. In 1839, he resigned from the post of Sheriff, and spent his remaining years firstly at College Park House, and then at NS4175 : Crosslet House
(both of which are in Dumbarton). He died at Crosslet House on the 15th of May, 1864, aged 82.
● A sister of Alexander and Humphrey Walter Campbell is also mentioned in the inscription, namely, Elizabeth Anstruther Campbell (c.1792-1872). She married Robert Mackenzie of Caldarvan (c.1792-1872), father of the R.D.Mackenzie who is discussed in the item NS4384 : Caldarvan House
. It is by reason of this marriage that many Mackenzies are also listed in the inscription.
● Returning to the aforementioned Alexander of Barnhill, the eldest of his two sons was Neil Colquhoun Campbell of Barnhill, who was born on the 17th of October, 1813. He was appointed Sheriff of Ayrshire. He married Mary Paterson, daughter of William Orr Paterson of Montgomerie, Ayrshire. Neil Colquhoun Campbell died on the 3rd of April, 1883, and the Barnhill estate passed to his daughter, Annie Colquhoun Campbell, nine generations removed from the John and Janet who were originally granted the lands of Colquhoun.
● Of the six daughters of Alexander Campbell of Barnhill, one of them, Fanny Campbell, married the industrialist James White of Overtoun: NS6065 : Statue of James White of Overtoun
. Their son, James Campbell White, would became Baron Overtoun, better known as Lord Overtoun. Elsewhere in the cemetery, they are also commemorated by the NS4076 : The White Memorial
● Another of the daughters of Alexander Campbell, Susan Campbell (c.1815-1856), married R.D.Mackenzie of NS4384 : Caldarvan House
(see that item for further details). Consideration of the family tree (see comments, above, on Elizabeth Anstruther Campbell) shows that she was his cousin.
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References (apart from the inscriptions themselves):
Joseph Irving: "The History of Dumbartonshire", second edition (1860), pp477-478, for genealogy from John Colquhoun and Janet Lang of Barnhill (c16) to Annie Colquhoun Campbell (c19).
William Fraser, "The Chiefs of Colquhoun and Their Country", Volume 2 (1869), pp263-264, covers the same period, and sets out the family tree visually, including some additional information.
Donald MacLeod: "The God's Acres of Dumbarton" (1888), for biographies of the Campbell sheriffs.
Donald MacLeod: "The Clyde District of Dumbartonshire" (1886), pp142-146, for additional biographical information.