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.
John Harvey, schoolmaster at Midmar for fifty-seven years, was born at Kintore in 1690 and died in 1767. He married Elizabeth Mackay (1694-1776), and they lived through the 1715 and 1745 Jacobite risings. I mention this for two related facts, firstly a granddaughter becomes the 12th Countess of Buchan. The significance is that James 1st of Scotland had eight children of whom, his fifth daughter, Mary Stewart (1428 – 1465) became 1st Countess of Buchan in 1444. Again, the estate of Castle Semple is linked to the Stewart dynasty just as it was with the Semples. They had three sons and 4 daughters, Alexander, John, Robert, Elizabeth, Jean, Barbara and Grizel (a good Semple name if you recollect from the “Dark Side” article). The sons emigrated, and acquired large fortunes in Antigua and Grenada. The three brothers divided their wealth among a wide range of relatives. To ensure the continuity of the family name, there were stipulations on at least some of the gifts to adopt the name Harvey. Elizabeth’s son by her first marriage, John Rae, assumed the name Rae-Harvie. Similarly John, the son of Grizel Harvie who married Thomas Aberdeen adopted the name Harvey after a bequest of £15,500 from the estate of his uncle Robert.
In Aberdeenshire Epitaphs and Inscriptions: Historical, Biographical, Genealogical, and Antiquarian Notes, John A. Henderson, reflecting on how few details there are in Elizabeth and John’s life, wrote:
“Probably if all were known it would be just the simple record of a well-spent, quiet life, often more satisfactory than that of one passed in a much more conspicuous sphere.”
Had it not been for the enterprise of their sons the Harvey family would have remained obscure.
Alexander went to Antigua in 1748 or 1749 (perhaps due to the aftermath of the Forty-Five rebellion) and returned to Aberdeen in 1757. He married Elizabeth Ceeley and had at least four children, Charles, Alexander (1766-1818), Elizabeth and Mary. Charles was bequeathed estates in Grenada by his uncle John Harvey (1721-1771), subject to the life interest of John's brother Robert Harvey (1832-1791). Charles died on arrival in Grenada and the estates passed to his younger brother Alexander (1766-1818). According to one source, Alexander "disposed of his prospective interest to his uncle Robert Harvey, the life-renter, for the sum of £20,000, and purchased for himself the estate of Broadland in Buchan, for which he paid ten thousand guineas...". He was also bequeathed an annuity of £500 from his uncle Robert's Grenadian estates upon Robert's death in 1791.
Alexanders’ two brothers, John and Robert, were unmarried. Robert died in Exeter, 1791 aged 59; John in London, 1770 aged 50. Robert, as well as being an estate owner had also trained as a surgeon. It was reported that at his death Robert’s estates gave him an income in excess of £8000 per annum, a vast sum in today’s value.
In his will, John Harvey left his estates in Antigua (excluding the enslaved people) to his brother Robert. Robert was also left a life interest in John Harvey's estates in Grenada (Chambord, Mornefendue and Plain), which were to pass thereafter to his nephew Charles. As mentioned above this nephew died on arrival in Grenada and the estates passed to Charles's younger brother Alexander (1766-1818). Alexander subsequently sold his interest in these estates to his Uncle Robert. Alexander was subsequently bequeathed an annuity of £500 from his uncle Robert's Grenadian estates upon Robert's death in 1791. Also mentioned in John’s will are three "mulatto" children - David, Sally and Rachel - and Capon, the daughter of a "negro" called Mary who was housekeeper on Chambord Estate. Presumably these were his illegitimate children and perhaps Capon was their mother. The girls were left substantial legacies should they marry free white or free mulatto men. Capon was to be made free, given £18 per year and a house built and kept in repair on either of the estates she pleases to reside in return for her fidelity and former service while he was in Grenada.
Robert’s will left monetary legacies totalling almost £50,000, varying from £100 to £15,500 each, to numerous siblings, nephews and nieces and various acts of generosity, to be paid for from his personal estate. His plantations in Grenada (described as 'all my undivided moiety of my plantation called Rochambard in St Patrick, formerly Des Santeurs, Grenada, and my plantation in the two islands called the High and Middle Islands and all that plantation and land called the Plaine in St Patrick and that plantation called Morne Fendue in St Patrick') were left in trust to his nephew John Rae (subject to a £500 annuity to his nephew, Alexander Harvey and five other smaller annuities totalling £100 p.a.). His plantations in Antigua (described as 'all my plantation formerly called Mr Yeomans Old Road Estate in Cades Bay in Old Road, Antigua, and all my other plantations and real estate in Antigua, and also all my personal estate in the same island') were left to his nephew Robert Farquhar, subject to smaller annuities to several named "negroes" and "mulattoes", Phillis and her son Robert; Felicity; Mary; John; and Jeanet. Robert is interred in Exeter Cathedral.
Their sisters benefited more or less by their brothers' remarkable success. Elizabeth’s family probably benefited most, her first husband was John Rae and their son, John inherited the Grenada estates and as John Harvey (adopted name on inheriting from his uncle Robert Harvey) bought Castle Semple estate in 1813.
Her second husband was Alexander Farquhar, Baillie of the Royal Burgh of Kintore. Robert Farquhar, her son from her second marriage, inherited the estates in Antigua and he purchased the Newark estate in Port Glasgow. His granddaughter married Sir Humphrey Davy. Alexander and Elizabeth seem to have had a very loving relationship if their epitaph is anything to go by:
Sacred to the memory of Alexander Farquhar, for many years one of the Baillies of this Borough, who was born 16th May, 1725. and died 26th February, 1807. in the 82nd year of his age. And of Elizabeth Harvey, his wife, who was born 16th November, 1724, and died 24th February, 1807, in the 83rd year of her age.
They were born within six months of each other, and had been married upwards of 52 years. They lived very happily together, and enjoyed good health till they were 80 years of age, when, their infirmities increasing with their years, they had often expressed a wish that the one might not long survive the other. And the Almighty was pleased to grant their desire. They were taken ill almost at the same time; died within two days of each other; and were buried together in one grave on the 2nd March, 1807.
As they lived respected and esteemed, so they died universally regretted by their numerous relations and acquaintances.
As mentioned above the Castle Semple Estate was bought from the McDowall’s in 1813 by John Harvey (nee Rae) who inherited considerable wealth from the family of his mother, Elizabeth Harvey. On inheriting estates in Granada from his uncle, Robert Harvey, in 1791 he took the name of Harvey. Opposite is a portrait of John Harvey by Sir Henry Raeburn. Harvey had three children, James Simpson Rae, Margaret (eldest daughter) and Elizabeth Harvey. He died in 1820 and left his Grenada estates of Chambord, the Plain and Mornefendue to Robert Farquhar (his half-brother) subject to annuities to his children. Margaret also inherited the bulk of his Scottish property and the Upper and Lower Conference estates. James died on the Crawfish estate in Grenada in 1829. He left his estates of Crawfish, Mount Pleasant and Belmont to his sister Elizabeth who was living at Castle Semple. Elizabeth married the 12th Earl of Buchan, Henry David Erskine in 1830, she died 1838. She was the second of three wives of the 12th Earl. They had a daughter, Lady Elizabeth, born in 1831 and died 1888. She would marry (1855) Henry Lee Harvey her cousin who would inherit the Castle Semple estate in 1872.
Margaret was the wife of James Octavius Lee (1780-1849) who came from a prominent Dublin merchant family. They were married in 1816. It is interesting to note that his grandmother was from the Widdington family, a name, slightly modified, which will appear later. His family also had connections with Bristol and, remembering that the principal English ports which traded with the West Indies were London, Bristol and Liverpool, it is probable that their connection was through the sugar industry.
He also adopted the name Harvey when his wife inherited Castle Semple from her father in 1820. As a Major in the 92nd Regiment of Foot (Gordon Highlanders) he had served in Egypt, Holland, Portugal, Spain and France under the Duke of Wellington. He retired from active service in 1814 (on half pay) and was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in 1830, prior to his full retirement. In 1823, Sir Henry Raeburn painted Major James Octavius Lee Harvey for the sum of £315 (around £23,000 in today’s money), the portrait is now hanging in the Louvre (see above). The sister of James Octavius Lee Harvey, Anne Lee, lived with her brother’s family, reaching the grand old age of 99. She died on 15th April 1874 and is buried in the Collegiate Church (see photograph below, her headstone is on the left). Apparently, there is a family link with General Robert E Lee of US fame.
The Harveys kept a home in Edinburgh and at the time of the 1861 census were living in London. The estate was managed by a factor throughout the year and, while living in Edinburgh, a cart took produce from the estate to Edinburgh each week and returned with the laundry for washing in the Castle Semple laundry. As principal landowners the Harveys were patrons of the Parish Church and, with the heritors of the Parish, they were responsible for the payment of a minister, the upkeep of the church building and the manse and the provision of a graveyard for the community. In 1850 it was decided that to avoid the long walk to Lochwinnoch, a Chapel of Ease should be built at Howwood. James Octavious Lee Harvey provided land for the building which later became Howwood Parish Church and the family donated the two west side windows.
James Octavius Lee Harvey died in 1849 and his wife Margaret died around 1855. They had three sons and two daughters, her eldest son, John Rae Lee was born in 1817 and died 1857 aged 40 leaving no issue. John may have managed the Grenada estates for a time. Despite the decline of slavery, plantation life was still harsh, even for the planters, with diseases such as malaria and yellow fever, accidents at sea and on land, hurricanes, and the threat of slave revolts. Black resistance and the need for more cheap labour led the British to turn to alternative labour sources, importing indentured labourers from other parts of the British empire, Europe and Asia. Abolitionists would launch campaigns against the exploitative nature of indentured servitude but they failed to achieve the same success they had in previous crusades. Her second son James Octavius Lee Harvey born 1821 succeeded his brother and died in 1872 aged 51 without providing an heir. He is buried in the Collegiate Church (his headstone is the one in the middle). Click HERE for a 360 degree view of the Church.
On the death of James the estate passed to their 3rd son – Henry Lee Harvey in 1872 and he died in 1883 (pictured below). Henry married (1855) his cousin, Elizabeth Erskine, whose father was the 12th Earl of Buchan; they were a much-loved family, remembered by memorial windows in Lochwinnoch Parish Church, Howwood Church and Holy Trinity Church in Paisley. Lady Elizabeth donated the pipe organ and pulpit in the Parish Church to his memory in 1885. Sadly, their only child, Alice (1862-1871), died aged nine and the graves of Henry, Elizabeth and Alice are side by side at the entrance to the Collegiate Church which is in the grounds of the estate (pictured below). A stained-glass window in Howwood Church commemorates her short life.
The 1871 census showed that they were already living at Castle Semple House with James, the laird, Aunt Anne Lee, now aged 96 and their only child, Alice Elizabeth who was aged eight. Henry and Elizabeth were members of Holy Trinity (Episcopalian) Church in Paisley and Lady Elizabeth donated the large east window in that church in memory of her husband. When Elizabeth died in 1888, five years after Henry, in her London residence in Cadogan Square the congregation of the Parish Church in Lochwinnoch placed windows in the church in memory of Henry and his wife.
The estate passed to a nephew, James Widdrington Shand, in 1883, the son of Henry’s sister Margaret (1825-1877) who had married her second cousin Charles Farquhar Shand (1812-1889). Their marriage took place in Edinburgh in 1850. The two were related since Charles was the grandson of Elizabeth Harvey whose second husband was Baillie Alexander Farquhar. (Remember from above Elizabeth Harvey’s second marriage was to Alexander Farquhar whose son Robert inherited the estates in Antigua from his uncle Robert Harvey.) The family had homes in Scotland, London and Mauritius, the 1881 census showing them as resident in The Albany, Piccadilly, London. Charles was appointed Chief Justice of Mauritius in 1860 and was knighted in 1869 and died in 1889. It is interesting to note that when his father, Sir Charles died in 1889, he was buried in the Collegiate Church (three photographs above, on the right). His son took the name of Harvey on inheriting the Castle Semple estate in 1883 to become James Widdrington Shand Harvey (1853-1922). He was living in Mauritius at the time of his inheritance and was to become the last laird of Castle Semple. At this time the estate in total extended to some 6300 acres with an income of approximately £5562 per annum – a healthy sum in those days. The estate plan shown below is taken from the Sale Particulars dated 1907 and illustrates around half of the total land holding. The small inset map shows the total extent of the estate marked in light red. The landscaped ground around the mansion house extended to about 900 acres. The area in red below is the grouse moor, blue is farm land and yellow is feus in the village.
This Map is provided courtesy of Heritage Services, Renfrewshire Leisure.
James' father, Charles Farquhar Shand was related to two prominent Aberdeenshire families, the Farquhars and the Shands. They had interests in the West Indies and the sugar plantations of Mauritius as well as owning property in Aberdeen. In 1661, Sir Robert Farquhar of Lenturk was provost of Aberdeen and his great-grandson, Sir Walter Farquhar was one of the most noted physicians of the early 19th century. He practiced in London, listing among his patients the Prime Ministers of the day and the Royal family. His son, Sir Robert Townsend Farquhar served as a diplomat and when the island of Mauritius passed from French to British hands in 1810, he was appointed Governor from 1810-1823. Like islands in the West Indies, the Mauritian economy was dependent on sugar plantations. When the slave trade with Africa was abolished, prosperity continued in Mauritius, using indentured labourers who came mainly from India.
James was educated at Eton and probably studied at Oxford University. He was interested in Natural History and has several publications listed in the years 1887 to 1898. He was interested in some of the more exotic trees on the estate and describes one which was reckoned to be more than 300 years old. He married Emily Augusta Rosina Robinson (b1861), the daughter of a prominent family in Mauritius where they had a home as well as other properties in London and Scotland. James and Emily had two children, James George Gordon Farquhar Shand Harvey and Margaret E.L.H.F. Harvey. Young James would later become known by his moniker – Shand. Like his father he was also educated at Eton where his friendship with a grandson of Queen Victoria led to at least one invitation to Windsor Castle in the holidays.
At the 1891 census, James Widdrington Shand Harvey and his wife were resident at Castle Semple with James aged 10 and Margaret aged 8. Also, resident in the house were a governess, a children's maid, a housekeeper, a cook, a kitchen maid, two housemaids, two grooms and a footman. Various other gardeners, gamekeepers, ploughmen etc were resident in the different gate houses, houses and bothies on the estate. Mr. Harvey participated in local sporting pursuits, riding with the hunt and supporting
curling on the loch, donating the Shand Harvey Trophy for curling, a prize still competed for annually in the West of Scotland. In 1885 he was appointed Deputy Lieutenant of the County of Renfrew, he resigned the commission on 27th Dec 1921. He died the following year. In 1886 he stood as Liberal Unionist candidate in the Mid Lanarkshire General Election, losing out narrowly to the Liberal candidate.
The story of high society and public benevolence presents a grand tale, but as has been noted, the wealth of the Castle Semple owners came from the hard labour and misfortune of a great many others. Even on Castle Semple estate things could be far from perfect. Over the wall from the estate at the old manse in Eastend lived the Rev. Robert Z Gilfillan and his family. For several years, the minister had been threatening to vacate the manse due to the unhygienic living conditions, which were causing health problems for his family. The well at the house was "unwholesome, inadequate and imperfect" so that water had to be carried from the burn up the hill by the servants; the chimneys in the house were blocked, resulting in serious dampness in the walls; the drains from the house were blocked causing unsavory rising damp. On top of all that, repairs were required at the church, and the graveyard at the old church (Old Simon) was full, so that a new site for a cemetery had to be found. All this was the responsibility of the Heritors, led by Mr Shand Harvey. As with other lairds, the Shand Harveys spent much of their time away from Castle Semple, and local affairs were in the hands of the factor. Matters came to a head in 1892 when the Sanitary Inspector from the Council became involved and Mr Gilfillan requested four months leave of absence on account of illness. He died later in the year and his executers made a claim to the Heritors for £35 to cover the rental of temporary accommodation at Fairlie and for travelling expenses.
For the Harveys, the good times were not to last. Nothing is documented, but by the early years of the new century, the family became penniless allegedly due to Mr Harvey's gambling habits. His son (Shand) was interviewed on 8th March 1967 and outlines a different reason for the decline in their fortunes. His father apparently lost a lot of money due to a cyclone in Mauritius. He says his father had to find £50,000 which in today’s money would be several million pounds. The Harvey’s were clearly in need of money in the early 1900’s evidenced by their willingness to sell wayleave rights for the new railway (1905) which passed less than 100m from the mansion house cutting the grounds of the house in half. The estate was put on the market in 1908 and the sale particulars can be seen in a separate article. Apparently, the National Trust Company (which had been formed in 1895) was interested in purchasing it for open country to create a park. Seventy years later it did become part of a park, the Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park. Shand gave an additional reason for leaving - his mother didn’t like the climate – too wet! Also, her mother had recently died and left her an estate in Mauritius. Finally, in 1913 they left Scotland for Mauritius and a dry retirement.
The Edinburgh Gazette of August 7th 1908, carried the notice that James W. Shand Harvey, sometime residing at Castle Semple, Lochwinnoch, then at Great King Street, Edinburgh and currently at Ardgowan, Levenhall, Musselburgh had been declared bankrupt and his estates sequestered on 5th
August 1908. Trustees and commissioners were to be elected on 14th August to administer the estate. The Castle Semple estate was put up for sale in December 1908. Some tenant farmers bought their own farms, but the main estate and policies were bought by a syndicate. During and immediately after the First World War, the government passed legislation to acquire land to establish colonies of smallholdings to resettle some of the thousands of displaced veterans. Under what became known as the ‘Homes for Heroes’ scheme, lowland crofts
were established by the Ministry for Agriculture throughout Scotland on land gifted to or purchased by the nation. Ultimately the estate was taken over by the Department of Agriculture for Scotland in a sale dated 11th August 1937 and broken up into small holdings for farming. Although these crofts had varying success in different areas of the country, the Castle Semple examples survive relatively unchanged. The area around the old house became overgrown and the house was burnt out in 1924 and the shell was finally demolished in the 1960s.
This photograph taken in January 2017 aligns the pavillions with the above plan.
The four pavilions were gradually restored as private dwellings. The one on the left was the stable block. Next was the grooms quarters on the left and gun room on the right. At the rear half of this building was a coach house and billiard room which was connected to the main house by a covered walk way. The pavillion to the right of the mansion housed the kitchen, pantry, lavatory, washroom and 3 living rooms. The extreme right pavilion was the caretaker and gardeners quarters.
The next photograph is as it looked in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s. The walled gardens are visible in the top right of each photograph. Between the walled garden and the right most pavillion are two white lines which are in the same position as the railway bridge parapets in the more recent photograph. If they are the parapets this would date the early photograph to sometime after 1905. The final photograph is from roughly the same viewpoint but taken in March 2017.
James W. Shand was a party in an interesting court case, Shand-Harvey v Bennett Clark, 1910. From the nature of the case this was presumably continuing litigation from his bankruptcy. Indeed this case forms an important part of case law covering matrimonial property and private international law. Basically his creditors were after assets to recover the debts he owed. The questions raised focused on the competing rights of creditors of the husband vs ownership by the wife in respect of property which had been the subject of a gift from husband to wife. This case was complicated by their marriage having taken place in Mauritius, having a private marriage contract (pre-nuptial agreement in modern speak) covering a separation of property (her family owned estates in Mauritius) and subsequently becoming domiciled in Scotland. It was determined the pre-nuptial agreement held sway and not the domestic law of Scotland which held that gifts between spouses was revocable.
And finally, to the last of the Harvey’s. When Jame's son Shand finished his schooling at Eton it was thought he had served in the army for a few years. In his interview mentioned above he clarified the situation. While at Eton he took and passed the exams that enabled him to go to either Oxford, Cambridge or Sandhurst. By passing into Sandhurst he had done all that was necessary for a commission in the army. On 18th February 1905 he became a second Lieutenant in the 4th Battalion, Princess Louise’s (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders). It is perplexing that the London Gazette records his commission commencing shortly before he left for Canada. He never actually went to Sandhurst or did military service. He is recorded in the London Gazette resigning his commission 20th April 1907. He had attended Eton from April 1894 to December 1898 leaving on his 18th birthday. I have been unable to establish what he did between 1898 and 1905. There are photographs of him dated 1902 (see article entitled Shand) partaking in curling competitions suggesting he was resident at Castle Semple during this period.
Elsewhere it is suggested he did not return to his family home at Castle Semple untill 1905 and found the house in very poor repair and the estate around it in disarray. Permission had been sought and was granted to build a loop railway line through the middle of the estate, separating the house from the Collegiate Church and spoiling the idyllic rural setting. With £500 in his pocket young Shand made his way over to Greenock to purchase a return ticket on the next ship bound for Canada. He made a brief trip home to Scotland in 1923. This probably included a trip to Mauritius for the funeral of his father who died in 1922. His life was now in the wilder parts of Alberta, following the railway as it pushed west and he never returned to Scotland. He led a very simple life, working with pack horses and earning a meagre living as a trapper. He kept in touch with his sister Margaret who returned to Mauritius to live on the plantation owned by the family. He died in 1968 at the age of 88. The story of his life in Canada is told in the article entitled Shand.
The family of his sister Margaret may still be living on the island of Mauritius. If, like Shand she never married then the story of this branch of the Harvey family which started in 1690 ended in 1968 with the death of Shand or his sister if later.
And Finally. When Shand was interviewed the year before his death he was asked about the hoof of a Shetland pony that was in his possession. It was a snuff box which was shod with the blade of a knife with the inscription, “Shoe made from Tam O'Shanter's knife." And on the silver mountings of the lid it said:-
“For every hoof he ca’d a shoe on, the smith and Tam got lankin’ fou’ on. J. R. LEE-HARVEY, Castle Semple, July, 1824."
Shand produced a newspaper clipping from the Glasgow Courier dated 19th August 1823 which read:
"Died, at Lochwinnoch. 9th August, 1823, Thomas Reid, laborer. He was born on the 21st October, 1745, in the clachan of Kyle, Ayrshire. The importance attached to this circumstance arises from his being the celebrated equestrian hero of Burns's poem " Tam o' Thanter." He has at length surmounted the ' mosses, waters, slaps, and stiles' of life. For a considerable time by-past he has been in the service of Major Harvey, of Castle Semple, nine months of which he has been incapable of labor. He, however, still retained the desire of being ' fu' for weeks thegither."
Shand’s father replied to this advert adding that Reid had been a hedger on the estate and that several people who knew him confirmed he came from Shanter or its neighbourhood. However, he thought it quite possible that in order to be bought a few drinks he might claim to be Tam and concluded it would be difficult to prove one way or the other. For my part, this article was long before “Fake News” so it must be true!
Summary of Harvey Ownership of Castle Semple
from 1713 to 1907
Colonel John Harvey (adopted name from his wife – his own was Rae) bought the estate in 1813. He died in 1820.
•Estate passed to his eldest daughter Margaret wife of Colonel James Lee. He took the name Harvey on his wife's inheritance.
•The estate passed to their 3rd son – Henry Lee Harvey who is photographed above. He died in 1883
•The estate passed to a nephew, James Widdrington Shand-Harvey. He was the last laird of Castle semple.
•They owned sugar platations in Mauritius. Due to a cyclone lost a lot of money and were clearly running short of cash by the 1900’s evidenced by their willingness to sell wayleave rights for the new railway (1905) which passed less than 100m from the house cutting the estate in half.
•Ultimately the estate was taken over by the Ministry of Agriculture and broken up into small holdings.
•His son James Shand-Harvey (1880-1968) emigrated to Canada in 1905 with £500 in his pocket, he lived in a log cabin at Hinton in Alberta for over 50 years. He returned to Lochwinnoch in 1923/24 for a short visit.