This splendid description of the mansion house of Jordanhill appeared in the “The old country houses of the old Glasgow gentry
John Guthrie Smith and John Oswald Mitchell, published in 1878″. This was an encyclopedia detailing the scores of magnificent houses in the Glasgow area, some of which are extant, others survive only in the streetnames and colloquialisms of local residents.
Jordanhill situated in the parish of Renfrew, and county of the same name, and is about four miles west of Glasgow.
About the year 1546 Lawrence Crawford of Kilbirnie founded a chaplainry at Drumry, and endowed it with the five pound lands of Jordanhill. This chapel stood near Garscadden, in Dumbartonshire, and seems to have been in existence before 1475. It was dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
Thomas, the sixth son of this Lawrence Crawford, was a celebrated soldier of his time, – among his other exploits, his most famous was the taking in 1571 of the Castle of Dumbarton, which was then considered impregnable. He acquired Jordanhill in 1562 from Bartholomew Montgomerie, the chaplain of Drumry, and probably the original house was built by him, and on the site of the present one.
He was Provost of Glasgow in 1577, and Crawford informs us that about the same time he built the bridge over the Kelvin at Partick, on which were carved his arms, and this inscription, –
“He that by labour does any honestie,
The labour goes, the honour bides with thee;
He that by treason does onie vice also,
The shame remains, the pleasure soon agoes.“
From him descended Lawrence Crawford, who was living in 1710, and who repaired the old house. It was then “beautified with pleasant orchards and gardens, and likewise well planted.”
In 1750 Jordanhill was sold to Alexander Houstoun, merchant in Glasgow, (1) of the family of Calderhaugh, in Midlothian. His son, Andrew Houstoun, about 1782, built upon the site of the old house, what now forms a great part of the present mansion.
Jordanhill was bought from the Houstouns in 1800, by Archibald Smith, West India merchant in Glasgow, and Dean of Guild in 1799. He was a younger son of James Smith of Craigend, Stirlingshire. (2) Shortly after his purchase he added considerably to the house, and greatly improved its appearance. He married Isobel Euing, and died in 1821, leaving with other issue (3) James, his successor. His widow died in 1855, aged 101.
James Smith of Jordanhill, F.R.S., &c.;, was well known as an antiquary, and man of letters and science. He published several valuable works on Geology and Biblical Criticism – his most important contribution to the latter being the well known work on the “Voyage and Shipwreck of St. Paul.” He had great taste for architecture, and furnished plans for many of his friends’ houses, and the Parish Church of Govan was built from his designs. He was also, for long, the father of yachting on the Clyde, having had a yacht from very early in life to the day of his death.
In 1824 he made considerable additions to the house, and made it both externally and internally what it now is. He died in January 1867.
By his marriage with Mary, daughter of Alexander Wilson, and grand-daughter of Dr. Alexander Wilson, Professor of Astronomy in the University of Glasgow, he had, with other issue, (4) Archibald, who succeeded to Jordanhill.
This gentleman, who was an M.A. of Cambridge, a Fellow of the Royal Society and an LL.D. of Glasgow University, &c.;, was a celebrated mathematician and barrister at law. (5) He married in 1853 Susan Emma, daughter of Vice-Chancellor Sir James Parker, and died in 1872, leaving issue James Parker, now of Jordanhill, born 1854, and six sons, of whom five survive, and two daughters.
(1) Alexander Houstoun was the founder of the great firm of Alexander Houstoun & Co., the partners in which, at the end of last century were, William Macdowall of Garthland, Andrew Houstoun of Jordanhill, Robert Houstoun Rae, and James Macdowall. Alexander Houstoun was one of the original partners of the “Ship,” the first Glasgow bank, which was established in 1750.
(2) See Craigend.
(3) Archibald Smith’s wife, Isobel Euing, was the daughter of Bailie William Euing. Her brother, William Euing, was the father of the late William Euing of the Royal Exchange, a citizen well known for his philanthropy and for literary and artistic tastes. His magnificent library, collected by himself with great care and judgment, was rich in early printed books and editions of the English Bible, and unique as regards works on music. At his death in 1874 he left his general library and Bibles to the University of Glasgow, and his valuable collection of works on music to Anderson’s College.
Archibald Smith and Isobel Euing’s family were James, who succeeded to Jordanhill, and died in 1867, aged eighty-five years; Isabella, who married John M’Call of Ibroxhill (which see) and died in 1871, aged eighty-seven years; William of Carbeth Guthrie (which see), who died in 1871 in his eighty-fourth year; and Archibald, formerly a West India proprietor and merchant in Glasgow, now in his eighty-third year. He resides at Artarman, Row. By his wife, Eliza M’Call, daughter of Thomas M’Call of Craighead (which see), he has an only son Thomas, who holds a high appointment in the Indian Civil Service, and two surviving daughters, Elizabeth Maria Lydia, who married in 1865 Captain William Henry Edye, R.N., and Emily Anne, unmarried. Martha Denroche, Isabella, and Archibald John M’Call died young.
(4) The only surviving members of James Smith’s family are Isabella, who married Henry Gore Booth, and has issue; and Sabina Douglas Clavering, who married the Rev. Robert Paisley, D.D., of St. Ninians; Christina Laura, who married Walter Buchanan, late M.P. for Glasgow, died, leaving a daughter; Louisa, who married William Hamilton of Minard, died, leaving a son and a daughter, and Jane Charlotte, died unmarried in 1864. Mary Joanna Guthrie, Mary, and Alexander died young.
(5) Archibald Smith, M.A., F.R.S., LL.D., &c.;, Barrister at Law, was born in 1813. In 1836 he took his degree as Senior Wrangler and First Smith’s Prizeman. He was a very famous mathematician, and in a notice of him published in the “Proceedings of the Royal Society” shortly after his death, he is spoken of as one of the most learned of those able men, who, about forty years ago, “inaugurated a most fruitful revival of mathematics in England.” Subsequently, and while engaged as a Chancery Barrister in large practice, he turned his attention to the problem of ship’s magnetism, and in conjunction with Captain Evans, F.R.S., produced the “Admiralty Compass Manual,” a most learned and invaluable work, which is not only the handbook of the British Navy on this subject, but has also been adopted by the United States Navy Department, and after being translated into their various languages, is now in use in the Russian, German, French, and Portuguese navies. His labours of love in these and kindred abstruse subjects were towards the end of his life gratefully acknowledged by the British Admiralty, who requested his acceptance of a grant of £2000 “as a mark of recognition of the great and successful labours” which he had “bestowed on several branches of scientific inquiry of deep importance to Her Majesty’s Navy.” The Emperor of Russia also in 1866 gave him a gold compass, set in diamonds, and emblazoned with the Imperial Arms.
In 1864 he was an unsuccessful candidate for the representation of the Universities of Glasgow and St. Andrews. There is little doubt that his exhausting mental labours proved too severe for his naturally fine constitution, and he died in 1872 at the comparatively early age of fifty-nine years.