The families of Bannockburn House

by Tommy Gavin 29th October 2008

bannockburnhouse

In 1636 the lands of Bannockburn were gifted to Sir John Rollo. He was the second son of Sir Andrew Rollo of Duncrub, who was granted the Baronetcy by King Charles II at Perth in 1651 for his strong royalist support for Charles I during the English Civil War (1642 – 1649). Charles I was executed by Oliver Cromwell’s government in January 1649. England then became a republic under Cromwell, although Scotland proclaimed Charles II to be king of Scotland and he was later crowned at Scone in January 1651.

When Sir John Rollo died in 1666 he had no direct decendant as his only son had predeceased him. In this case his nephew Andrew 3rd Lord Rollo succeeded him to the Barony. Andrew sold the lands to Hugh Paterson in 1672 after only five years. Hugh Paterson, who was a writer and Clerk of Council in Edinburgh, was to commission the building of the house in 1675. His son Hugh was created a Baronet in 1686.

The house and the estates were to stay in the Paterson family who were known to be strong Jacobite supporters until 1715 – when the third Sir Hugh Paterson, grandson of Hugh Paterson and a relative of the Earl of Mar, was to fight in the Jacobite rebellion of 1715. For their Jacobite support their lands were forfeited. The Paterson family continued to live in the house, and in January 1746 at the invitation of Sir Hugh, Bonny Prince Charlie – The Young Pretender – was to make Bannockburn house his headquarters after his army’s long march back from Derby where he had tried to drum up English support for the Jacobites. It was during his stay at Bannockburn, after his victory on the 17th January against the Hanovarian army at Falkirk Muir, that he developed a fever.

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He was looked after by Clementina Walkinshaw, who was an ardent Jacobite supporter. A bullet hole still remains in the wall where the head of the bed was in the room which Prince Charles had occupied. Tradition has it that it was caused by the bullet of an assassin fired through the bedroom window. It is thought that Charles and Clementina were first introduced at her father’s mansion house at Shawfield Glasgow in December 1745, and that they had become romantically involved. Later she followed him and in 1752 the couple were living together in France.

Their daughter Charlotte was born in 1753 and was the only acknowledged child of Bonnie Prince Charlie. In 1784, whilst Bannockburn house was still in the Paterson family, an act was passed allowing the former proprietors to reclaim their lands. And in 1787 Mary, daughter of Sir Hugh 3rd who had come to succeed him, sold the Barony to William Ramsey of Barnton and Sauchie. The barony of Bannockburn decended to William Ramsey’s great grandson Charles Ramsey, to whom Sir Alexander Charles Ramsey Gibson-Maitland succeeded and his son, Sir James Ramsey Gibson-Maitland, succeeded him. Sir James sold the mansion house and about 80 acres of land in 1883 to Alexander Wilson. Alexander Wilson, born 1771, was the youngest son of William Wilson – whose family firm had made Bannockburn a weaving community – and was to become Scotland’s largest producer of tartan.

During his ownership of the house, Alexander – also known at the Colonel – had made many alterations and enlargements to the house; such as a new porch entrance and extension to the library and office, and above the main doorway a recess to accommodate a coat of arms which now is empty. After Alexander’s death in 1909 the house was then sold to Mr James Mitchell in 1910, who was Sheriff Substitute of Stirling.

James was also owner of the firm producing Mitchell’s Prize Crop cigarettes, as well as having interests in gold and coal mining. The house then passed to his daughter, Miss A.E.T.R. Mitchell, who inherited the house in 1923 and continued to live there until she sold the house to A.E. Pickard in 1962. Miss Mitchell moved to number 14 Snowdon Place in Stirling, taking with her her chauffeur and his wife – Mr and Mrs Jim Andrew. Miss Mitchell spent her final years in a Stirling nursing home where she died c.1972. A.E. Pickard was known as one of the last great eccentrics. Pickard was a self made millionaire buying property in Glasgow, such as theatres and music halls, and it was in one of these, The Panopticon, that Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy made one of their first stage appearances.

He continued buying property, and by 1961 he said he didn’t know how much property he owned or how much money he had. He called his company A.E. Pickard of London, Paris, Moscow and Bannockburn. The only landlord owning more property than him was Glasgow Corporation. He is also renowned as being the first man in Glasgow to be booked for a parking offence – for parking his car in the middle of a platform in Central Station. He was fined £1, which he paid for with a £100 note. During his life he is known to have given generously to people in need of help, and to secretly give to charity. Sadly he was to die in a burning accident aged 90.

The current owner of the house is Mr Peter Drake, the building is looked after by caretakers and is in a surprising good condition.

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