The Barony of Castle Stewart

The Barony of Castle Stewart (otherwise Castle Douglas formerly known as Culcreuchie) dates from June 16, 1648 in the reign of King Charles I. The barony was formed from an earlier barony, that of Culcreuchie, together with the adjoining lands of Ballinsalloche, both in the parish of Penningham and the county of Wigton. The name Culcreuchie is derived from a Gaelic place name indicating a ‘back-lying meadow’. The old tower-house of Culcreuchie dating from the sixteenth century, which was extended, altered, and renamed Castle Stewart by its new owner, now lies in ruins about three miles north of Newton Stewart.

The first baron was Colonel William Stewart, formerly of Badrochwood, who purchased the land from Robert, Viscount Kenmure, Lord Lochinvar, in 1646. Colonel Stewart was a descendant of Antony Stewart, parson of Penningham, fourth child of Sir Alexander Stewart of Garlies [1507-c1593] and his wife Catherine Stewart. William Stewart had served as a Colonel in the Swedish Army and had fought in Germany under Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden. Colonel Stewart had amassed a fortune during his military service much of which he spent developing his new property of Castle Stewart.

Colonel Stewart was among those soldiers who returned from abroad around 1639 to provide military experience to the Army of the Covenanters which opposed that of Charles I in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms from 1639 to 1651. From 1643 to 1647 he was Colonel of the Galloway Regiment of Foot, alias Stewart’s Foot, and also Routmaster of Stewart’s Horse Troop which invaded England in 1644. By 1650 William Stewart had become a member of the Scots Parliament. In 1677 Charles II authorised him to establish a burgh of barony which was erected under the title of Newton Stewart and lies a few miles distant from Castle Stewart.

Colonel William Stewart had married Elizabeth McClellan, of the McClellan of Senwick family from the nearby parish of Borgue, sometime before 1639, and they were the parents of Elizabeth. This Elizabeth married John Gordon of Cardiness, and they were the parents of Elizabeth Gordon who married William Stewart, the fourth son of the second Earl of Galloway. This William Stewart died in 1716 and Castle Stewart was inherited by his son William. Nicola, daughter of William Stewart and Elizabeth Gordon, was married in 1663 to William Maxwell, a former Captain of Brigadier Maitland’s Regiment.

William Stewart was married twice, firstly to Isabel Maxwell, and secondly to Jean Heron. At some point he found it expedient to move abroad but returned in 1718. William Stewart’s ownership of Castle Stewart was brief as he died shortly after returning home and was followed by his son John. On 8 May 1721 John Stewart of Castlestewart was served as heir to his grandfather William Stewart of Castle Stewart who died in July 1716, and also to his father William Stewart of Castle Stewart who died in February 1718, heir to the Mains of Castle Stewart, Glenrassie, Glenvernock, etc, in Wigtownshire.

John Stewart, however, enjoyed a long occupancy of Castle Stewart until his death in 1769. He had married Jean Craik and they had two sons and four daughters, of whom William, the eldest, inherited the property. On 25 April 1769 William Stewart of Castle Stewart was served as heir to his father John Stewart of Castle Stewart who died in January 1769, in Castle Stewart, Newton Stewart, Wigtownshire, and in Ironespie, Kirkcudbrightshire.

William Stewart of Castle Stewart’s had his Coat of Arms registered with the Court of the Lord Lyon in 1770. These were listed in Gayre of Gayre and Nigg’s Roll of Scottish Arms which was published in Edinburgh during 1964, and described as – the Arms of William Stewart of Castlestewart or, a fess cheque Azure and Argent, surmounted of a bend ingrailed Gules, charged with a boar’s head coup’d of the field, all within a double Tressure flower’d and counterflower’d of the fourth. Crest: a pelican in her nest feeding her young proper. Motto: Virescit Vulnere Virtus. 18 August 1770.

One of his sons was General Sir William Stewart [1774-1827] who is noted for leading from the front. He commanded the Second Division under the Duke of Wellington and fought in seventeen campaigns mostly in Spain and Portugal. He was also a close friend of Admiral Lord Nelson.

William Stewart, because of debt found it necessary to sell the estate to a William Douglas, a merchant in London and Glasgow. On June 8, 1792 William Douglas had sasine of the lands and barony of Castle Douglas, lately called Castle Stewart, and formerly the lands and barony of Culcreuchy, on a Crown Charter dated 28 May 1792. Douglas’s ownership was short-lived as he sold it to the Earl of Galloway in the early nineteenth century who combined it with Penningham and Fintalloch which he sold in 1825 to James Blair, a sugar planter from Berbice in South America.

In the meanwhile William Stewart the former owner died in Newton Stewart in 1797. He had been the Member of Parliament for Wigtownshire, and the husband of Euphemia, youngest daughter of Kenneth McKenzie, Lord Fortrose.

George Stewart, eighth Earl of Galloway, was born in 1768. He joined the Royal Navy in 1780 and achieved the rank of Rear Admiral of the Blue in 1810, and was for a time Lord of the Admiralty. He commanded the frigate HMS Lively at the Battle of St Vincent in 1797. Later he filled a number of public positions such as Member of Parliament, and later Lord Lieutenant and Sheriff Principal of Wigtownshire. In 1814 he was created a Knight of the Thistle. He died in London during 1834. His eldest son Randolph succeeded him. Randolph Stewart, ninth Earl of Galloway, was born in 1800 and educated at Harrow. From 1826 to 1831 he was Member of Parliament for Cockermouth, later he was Lord Lieutenant of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright and also of Wigtownshire. Randolph Stewart died in 1873 and was succeeded by his eldest son Alan Plantagenet Stewart. Alan Stewart, the tenth Earl of Galloway, was born in 1835. His public offices included being an officer of the Royal Horse Guards Blue, hon. Colonel of the Royal Scots Fusiliers, a Knight of the Thistle, and HM Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. The tenth Earl died in 1901 and was succeeded by his brother Randolph Henry Stewart.

Randolph Henry Stewart was born in 1836 and served in the Black Watch, the 42nd Royal Highlanders during the Crimea and the Indian Mutiny. The eleventh Earl died in 1920. Both of his sons served in the British Army during World War One. Randolph Algernon Ronald Stewart, Lord Garlies, the elder son, was a Lieutenant in the Scots Guards and was taken prisoner in 1914. He later succeeded as twelfth Earl of Galloway. His brother Keith Anthony Stewart, a Lieutenant of the Black Watch was killed in action in 1915. In 1978 on the death of the twelfth Earl, the Earldom passed to his son Randolph Keith Reginald Stewart. The present owner of the barony is nephew to the present Earl of Galloway.

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