NS4075 : The McMillan Monument

taken 7 years ago, near to Bellsmyre, West Dunbartonshire, Great Britain

The McMillan Monument
The McMillan Monument
The photograph does not really convey the scale of the structure, but this gray granite memorial is about 15 feet high. It is located near the main entrance of the cemetery, and it was designed by the town architect, John McLeod (NS4076 : Memorial to John McLeod, Town Architect), and executed by Mossman & Wishart of Glasgow.

On the upper part of the monument can be seen the McMillan crest (which features two hands wielding a sword) and the McMillan motto: "Miseris Succurrere Disco" (the sense of which is "I learn [or aspire] to help the unfortunate").

The main inscription begins as follows: "John and Jane McMillan, sacred to the memory of Thomas Dunlop Douglas, their son, born March 1850, died Aug 1870. Archibald their son, born Nov 1842, died Jun 1875. Jane Gow, their mother (wife of John McMillan, College Park, Dumbarton), born 25th May 1816, died 4th December 1884."

For all its size, the memorial is easily overlooked in its shaded location, but it is worth showing and describing here in connection with the town's industrial heritage: the McMillans were one of the great shipbuilding families of Dumbarton.

John McMillan senior, who is named in the inscription, died at his College Park residence on 21st September 1891, aged 76 (College Park is the area where NS3975 : Dumbarton Municipal Buildings were later built). At his death, John was the oldest shipbuilder on the Clyde. He was the son of Archibald McMillan; Archibald's own memorial is not in this cemetery, but is one of the few that remain in the greatly-reduced kirkyard of the parish church: NS3975 : Memorial to Archibald McMillan.

Archibald and John founded their shipbuilding firm, Archibald McMillan & Son, in 1834. (It was this same John who, with his friend Peter Denny, presented Levengrove Park to the town; see Link for details.)

John McMillan junior, was the third son of the above John McMillan. He was born on the 28th August, 1848, and died on the 2nd of December, 1888, a few years before his father, at the much younger age of forty.

A good summary of the lives of the elder and younger John McMillan can be found in the first chapter of Donald MacLeod's "Dumbarton: Its Recent Men and Events" (1898); at the start of that chapter is a portrait of the elder John McMillan.
Dumbarton Cemetery :: NS4076
The cemetery was formally opened on the 4th of October, 1854, replacing the overcrowded parish churchyard. See the Geograph article "Dumbarton Cemetery" Link for a detailed discussion. For biographies of many of those buried here, and for descriptions of their memorials, see Donald MacLeod's "The God's Acres of Dumbarton" (1888), and the same author's "Dumbarton: Its Recent Men and Events" (1898). By 2010, there was concern that Dumbarton Cemetery would run out of space within a decade; New Dumbarton Cemetery Link was subsequently created uphill from the existing cemetery, and opened at the end of December 2015.
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NS4075, 148 images   (more nearby )
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Date Taken
Monday, 10 December, 2012   (more nearby)
Monday, 24 December, 2012
Geographical Context
Burial ground, Crematorium 
Architect (from Tags)
John McLeod 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 4089 7594 [10m precision]
WGS84: 55:57.0040N 4:32.9812W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 4089 7593
View Direction
North-northeast (about 22 degrees)
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