20: John Douglas Boswell

John Douglas Boswell Esq. of Garrallan

Residence: Garrallan, Old Cumnock and Wellington Square, Ayr

The last in the list of the heritors is John Boswell Douglas who although he held the lands of South Boig in New Cumnock his principal property was Garrallan in the parish of Old Cumnock . The association between the two properties stretches back some 450 years and begins with the Campbell family.

South Boig , New Cumnock (Robert Guthrie)

James Paterson in ‘History of the Counties of Ayrshire and Wigton’ begins his account of the families of Garrallan with ‘This property formerly belonged to the Campbell family‘ the first of whom he refers to is Hugh Campbell of Boigcurroch.


Hugh Campbell, brother of John Campbell of Shankston, was infeft in the lands of Bogcoroch (now Boig) in 1556 and obtained a charter of the lands of Garallane from Sir Matthew Campbell of Loudon in 1562. Hugh married Katherine Baird and following his death in 1602 his eldest son succeeded to the lands of Garallan and Boig.

‘to Hew Campbell his eldest sone the haill stand beddis within the house of timbir’

The lands of  Boigcurroch (or some equivalent) sit in the parish of New Cumnock and composed of Nether Boig (later North Boig) and Over Boig (later South Boig).


Paterson continues to map out the families at Garrallan from the mid 16th century through to mid-19th century. The lands of Garrallan lie in the south-west of the parish of Old Cumnock with Garrallan House lying to the south of Changue and west of Glaisnock House.



In 1588 Hugh Campbell married Elizabeth Dunbar and by the contract of marriage he was to have the property of Bogcorroch. His wife was the daughter of Dunbar (George or John) of Barmuir (Mauchline) and related to the Dunbars of Knockshinnoch, New Cumnock. In 1605 Hugh Campbell had sasine of 40s  lands of Garrallan on precept of clare constat (see footnote) by Hugh, Dominus de Lowdon Baroniae de Taringzeane.

Together Hugh and Margaret had two sons. Eldest son Hugh married Sarah, daughter of Charles Campbell of Horsecleugh but died without issue before his father died. Youngest son John married Margaret Campbell and he too died before his father. Together John and Margaret had a son and daughter, the latter Margaret Campbell who survived .


Margaret succeeded to Garrallan in 1648. She married George Douglas of Waterside,  descendant of Douglas of Parkhead. Together they had three children including first-born Hugh who succeeded.


Hugh succeeded to Garrallan in 1676 . In the same year Hugh Dunbar of Knockshinnoch granted him a precept of clare constat, with the permission of Lord Crichton, of the lands of Knockshinnoch. He married Margaret, the only child of Captain John Craufurd of Camlarg, a large estate in the neighbouring parish of Dalmellington.

Throughout October 1684 during that period of the Covenanting era known as the ‘Killing Times’ ministers and parishioners across Ayrshire were called to Ayr where they were interrogated (questioned) . In essence the parishioners had to depone (swear under oath) and give names to the authorities of any fellow parishioners that were involved in non-conformist activities such as – failing to attend church, failing to have children baptized at church or attending conventicles. On the 17th October 1684 it was the turn of the parish of Cumnock (the parishes of Old Cumnock and New Cumnock having been “re-united” in 1677). Hugh Douglas of Garrallan appears in the list of heritors given by the minister (curate) Samuel Nimmo. Douglas’s interrogation reveals little other than his age and that he was married at that time.

‘Hew Douglas of Garallane, present, upon oath, of the age of 36 yeirs or therby, maried, depones idem, quhich is the treuth, as he shall ansuer to God. (Signed) H. Douglas.’

Garallan House (Dane Love)

Dane Love in his ‘Pictorial History of Cumnock’ explains that the Garrallan House of the 20th century had been built in stages and had identified five existing date stones from throughout that period namely – 1660, 1678, 1856, 1868 and 1874. The first of these may represent the Restoration of Charles II to the Crown while 1678 marks Hugh Douglas’s succession to Garrallan.

Knockshinnoch Farm, New Cumnock (Robert Guthrie)

Another later date-stone associated with Hugh Douglas survives to this day,  not in Old Cumnock but in New Cumnock in the gable end of the byre at Knockshinnoch farm, retrieved no doubt at some time from the nearby ruins of the Knockshinnoch Tower.  The stone bears the initials of Hugh Douglas and his wife Margaret Crawford along with their heraldic symbols the heart and mullet (spur) for Douglas and stag’s head for Crawford – perhaps the heraldic pun ‘heart and hart’ at play. It also included the date 1691 the significance of which is unclear. It is not the marriage date since the couple were married on or before 1684.  Perhaps Hugh Douglas took up residence in Knockshinnoch Tower that year, leaving his heir at Garrallan, however by 1708 Knockshinnoch was acquired by Thomas Logan the spouse of Jean Thomson, widow of William Campbell of Wellwood.

The land tax rolls for Ayrshire of 1705 and 1708 each include the two following entries.

  • Knockshinnoch now Garaland
  • Garaland , Boig and Leanmark (i.e. Lanemark in New Cumnock)

Together Hugh and Margaret had three sons – John, Hugh and Alexander. Eldest son  John died at Panama during the ill-fated short-lived Darien Scheme of the late 17th century and it was middle son Hugh that succeeded to the lands of Garrallan and Boig.

Knockshinnoch Datestone HD and MC 1691

V. HUGH DOUGLAS  ( b . < 1719, d. 1775)  & KATHERINE HUME

Hugh succeeded to Garrallan in 1719. He  married Katherine Hume the daughter of Reverend Patrick Hume , minister of Kirkmichael, Dumfriesshire and was a descendent of James Douglas, 2nd Earl of Drumlanrig.

Together Hugh and Katherine had five sons and four daughters.. The baptisms records of three of the children survive, all born at Garrallan, including Charles Douglas (1735) who later went to Jamaica to work on his elder brother Patrick’s estate, who succeeded to Garrallan.

In the land tax rolls of Ayrshire for 1759 that properties of Garrallan, Boig and Lanemark  are still clustered together.


Dr. Patrick Douglas succeeded to Garrallan in 1775 and was one of the Ayrshire lairds that had suffered in the aftermath of the collapse of the Ayr Bank two years beforehand. He also owned an estate in Port Antonio, Jamaica run by his younger brother Charles Douglas. He had negotiated a three-year contract with Robert Burns to work there as a book-keeper. In the summer of 1786, the bard firmly under the impression that he would never see the shore of Auld Scotia again, penned –

Farewell, my friends, farewell, my foes!
My peace with these, my love with those.
The bursting tears my heart declare—
Farewell the bonnie banks of Ayr!”

However Burns had a change of heart influenced by the news that his recently published Kilmarnock Edition of “Poems, Chiefly in a Scottish Dialect’ was selling well and that his sweet-heart Jean Armour had given birth to twins.

 Patrick Douglas first married Margaret Campbell daughter of Campbell of Skerrington and later Janet Stuart but it is unclear which one of these wives was the mother of his only child Jane. He served as a surgeon in the West Lowland Fencibles Regiment established following the declaration of war by the French Republic on Great Britain on 1st February 1793 and enlisted on 25th April 1794.

In the 1803 Land Tax Rolls of Ayrshire Patrick Douglas is recorded as the proprietor of Garrallan, Meickle Schang (parish of Old Cumnock) and Southboig (parish of New Cumnock) with the Marquis of Bute identified as the Superior, while the lands of North Boig are held by Robert Gemmell and those of Lanemark by Quintin McAdam

VII. JEAN DOUGLAS (b.1779 d.1862) & HAMILTON BOSWELL (b.1768 d.1824)

Jane Douglas succeeded to Garrallan in 1819. She married Hamilton Boswell the only child of John Boswell of Knockroon and Christian Hamilton. John Boswell had once owned the lands of Knockroon in the parish of Auchinleck which were later acquired by Alexander Boswell of Auchinleck, a kinsman .

John Boswell established himself as a Writer in Ayr and his signature appears throughout the land tax rolls for Ayrshire of 1759 and 1803 in the role of clerk to the Commissioners of Supply for Ayrshire. His son Hamilton Boswell followed in has father’s footsteps as a Writer in Ayr and a Clerk to the Commissioners of Supply as well as fulfilling the role of Collector of Taxes, his signature (Ham Boswell) can be found in the land tax rolls of 1803. The family lived at 51 Sandgate in Ayr the corner of Boswell Park, the house long and a post office now fills its place.

In 1806 John Boswell passed away and was laid to rest in the family plot in Ayr churchyard. The following year Hamilton Boswell married Jane Douglas and a condition of the antenuptial marriage contract was that the heirs must take and bear the name and arms of the ‘Douglas of Garrallan‘.  The heritable lands were also recorded in the contract as follows –

forty shilling land of Garrallan, the merkland of the two merkland of Boigcurroch called the overboig and the twenty shilling land of old extent Meikle Schang, lying respectively within the Barony of Tarringian, Regality and the New parish of Cumnock, parish of King’s Kyle, Sheriffdom of Ayr.

Hamilton Douglas Boswell , as he was now known, continued to work as a writer in Ayr and together he and his wife Jean had two sons and six daughters. He died in 1824 and lies buried in the family plot in the Auld Kirkyard, Ayr.

Within Boswell’s will and testament in the list of creditors and debtors the names of the late John Logan of Knockshinnoch ( a notable acquaintance of Robert Burns) and William Hyslop appears. The latter is most likely to be William Hyslop of Blackcraig & Bank who was married to Logan’s daughter Margaret and clearly a good friend of Boswell for the couple had two sons, the first of whom died in infancy, named in his honour – Hamilton Douglas Boswell Hyslop.

VIII. JOHN DOUGLAS BOSWELL (b.1811 d. 1863) & CHRISTIAN HAMILTON (b.1811 d.1901)

Eldest son John Douglas Boswell succeeded to the lands of Garrallan and Over Boig and  followed in his grandfather and father’s footsteps as a writer and a collector of taxes. He lived with his mother at 51 Sandgate with the Tax Office for the Borough, Parish and County next door at 53 Sandgate.

John Douglas Boswell, one of the New Cumnock heritors of 1833 was 22 years old when the new parish church of New Cumnock opened its doors.

In 1842 John  married Christian Hamilton daughter of the late Captain William Hamilton of Dowan and he his wife set up home at 3 Wellington Square, Ayr a short distance from his mother’s home on the Sandgate.


Although Garrallan remained the principal seat of the Douglas Boswell family these were times of great change at South Boig. In 1855 John Hyslop of Bank, son of the aforementioned William Hyslop,  was a tenant at South Boig for a time as he established a railway line from the main Glasgow-Dumfries line to his ill-fated New Cumnock Ironworks. Five years later Hyslop formed the Bank Coal Company and the railway line played a major role in its success through the years.

John Douglas Boswell died at Garrallan House in 1863, aged 52 years old. His wife Christina lived to the grand old age of 90 years and died at the turn of the century. Both lie buried in the Boswell family plot at Ayr Auld Kirkyard.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  • Boswell family plot Ayr Auld Kirk

IX. PATRICK DOUGLAS BOSWELL (b.1815 d. 1892) & ANNABELLA INNES  (b.1826 d.1914)

John Douglas Boswell was succeeded by his brother Patrick Douglas Boswell who at the time of his death lived in New South Wales, Australia but would return to Garrallan with his Australian wife (of Caithness descent)  Annabella Innes. Together the couple had two sons and three daughters.  Patrick died at Garrallan in September 1892, aged 72 years. Annabella died at Garrallan in October 1914 , aged 89 years old.

Read more about Patrick Douglas Boswell and Annabella Innes at the Cumnock History Group web-site Cumnock History Group : Patrick Douglas Boswell

In Patrick Douglas Boswell’s Will and Testament the following Rates and Taxes are identified

  • Old Cumnock Stipend £26 16s 11d, £26 3s 6d (less tax)
  • New Cumnock Stipend £1 7s 9d , £1 7s 1d (less tax)
  • Old Cumnock Poor Rates £18
  • New Cumnock Poor Rates £12 1s 11d

ardnithhouseDuring the tenure of Patrick Douglas Boswell the development of the New Cumnock coalfield continued at a pace. In 1865 the Lanemark Coal Company was formed primarily to work the coal at Lanemark and at South Boig with the Boswell family leasing the rights to the latter.

The company had a fine house built for its first coalmaster Airdrie-born the Robert Brown. The house named Ardnith, stood within the enclosed woodland at the side of the Boig Road, a few hundred yards north of S0uth Boig farm

In 1876 the Ayrshire Football Association was formed and the following year Lanemark Football Club was formed and was one of twenty-seven sides that competed for the first Ayrshire Cup. Their football ground was wedged between the south-west corner a stones’ throw from South Boig farm.

The Boswell family continued to receive wayleave payments for the railway line of John Hyslop’s Bank Coal Company cutting through their South Boig lands. Hyslop died in 1878 and his son William took over the reins renaming the business the New Bank Coal Company

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  • Douglas Boswell memorial plaques Old Cumnock Old Parish Church

It was during this period that the Caldwell family’s connection with South Boig farm began with William of South Boig and his father George of Rottenyard recorded  as tenants in the Valuations Rolls of 1875 before sister assumed the role following the death of William.


These outbuildings stand where South Boig farm is shown on the map of 1860 below linked to the Boig road by a pathway.


X. JOHN DOUGLAS BOSWELL (b.1867 d. 1945) & JANET ANGUS  (b.1869 d.1930)

Patrick Douglas Boswell’s eldest son Hamilton Douglas Boswell died unmarried and his second son John Douglas Boswell succeeded to the lands of  Garrallan and South Boig.

John Douglas Boswell was born at Garrallan House in 1867 and went on to have a distinguished career  as a sportsman and a soldier. He was capped 15 times for Scotland at rugby union (1889-1894) and served as a Lieutenant Colonel battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers 12th (Ayrshire Yeomanry) seeing action in Gallipoli, Egypt, Palestine and France in the Great War and awarded the Order of the White Eagle (Serbia). A Writer to the Signet he died at Edinburgh in 1948 and was succeeded by his eldest son,  John Patrick Douglas Boswell.

In 1907 he married Janet Alice Angus daughter of Robert Angus of Ladykirk House, Monkton and Jane Young. The couple was married at Monkton Old Parish Church where the Angus Aisle can still be seen; Robert Angus was a director of William Baird & Co. that owned a host of mines and collieries throughout Ayrshire including Hindsward and Whitehill in the parish of Old Cumnock.

Major changes in the New Cumnock coalfield were just around the corner as the struggling Lanemark Coal Company collapsed and in 1909 William Hyslop of Bank formed the New Cumnock Collieries Limited to work the pits previously operated by the New Bank Coal Company and the Lanemark Coal Company which included the rights to work the minerals on the lands of South Boig.

South Boig farm had grown to the form it is today with the farmhouse running parallel to the Boig Road with George Caldwell at the helm of what is still known locally as the The Boo’in.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  • South Boig Farm today


Lanemark Football Club failed to reform after World War I and their place at the football park was taken by junior side New Cumnock United formed in 1920 with New Cumnock Collieries their landlords. After a successful start the club folded before the end of the decade and in 1930 were replaced by Glenafton Athletic ….. who knows under different circumstances they could have been called Glenafton Boswell!!

South Boig, New Cumnock (Robert Guthrie)


Precept of clare constat: deed executed by a subject superior, for the purpose of completing the title of his vassal’s heir to the lands held by the deceased heir, under the granter of the precept [or writ].


National Library of Scotland

Scotland’s People

Scotland’s Places

James Paterson

  • History of the Counties of Ayrshire and Wigton, Volume I, Kyle part two  (1863)

Cumnock History Group