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The  history of Lochwinnoch is inextricably linked to that of the Castle Semple Estate and the three families who owned it for about 450 years.


From the 12th century the Semple family rose to power through their patronage of the High Steward of Scotland. This support continued after the Stewards rise to the rank of Royalty. The Semples supported Mary Queen of Scots then fought against her at the battle of Langside. By the start of the 18th centuary their influence had wained and Castle Semple was sold in 1727 to McDowall of Garthland.

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On June 27th 1527 parliament in Edinburgh had indicted Lord Semple for treason. It was considered that he was part of the conspiracy that resulted in the death of the laird of Lochleven. While parliament was in session Semple entered Edinburgh with a force of 586 men. During this time in Edinburgh they killed a dutchman, however on the 17th of the following month the King issued a letter of respite protecting Semple and his followers.


Based on an article from Lochwinnoch Online

Additional material by Dr Brian Smith

William McDowall, 21st of Garthland and 3rd of Castle Semple (1776-1810)

William III’s time as Laird of Castle Semple witnessed the transformation of Lochwinnoch from a largely agricultural/cottage industry village economy to one with a greater industrial base. McDowall was prominent in the management of this change.


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Based on an article by Elizabeth West

Additional material by Dr Brian Smith


Our history of the Harveys starts 123 years before they bought Castle Semple. The Harveys were an Aberdeenshire family who, like the McDowalls a century before, made their fortune in the West Indies. In fact, the two families were neighbours on Grenada. At the end of this article is a Harvey family tree showing the main branch that owned Castle Semple.

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The McDowall’s and Harvey’s combined ownership of Castle Semple spanned 181 years from 1727 to 1908, the 18th, 19th and early 20th century. Both families made their fortunes through the sugar industry of the Caribbean and Indian Ocean. Such trade in the 18th and 19th century was entirely dependent on slaves.


The Last Harvey of Castle Semple

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He arrived in Strathcona by train in August 1905 with £500 in his pocket and a return ticket home. Strathcona is on the south bank of the North Saskatchewan river, Edmonton is on the North bank and these settlements merged in 1912. On the 1st of September 1905 Shand witnessed the ceremony and celebrations of Alberta becoming a province of the Dominion of Canada with Edmonton as its Capital.

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