The Lairds of Breadalbane
The laird is the original owner of the land, whose natural power must be very great, where no man lives but by agriculture and where the product of the land is not conveyed through the labyrinths of traffic, but passes directly from the hand that gathers to the mouth that eats it. The laird has all those in his power that lives on the land. Kings can, for the most part, only exalt or degrade - the laird, at pleasure, can feed or starve, can give bread or withhold it. Samuel Johnson A journey to the western isles of Scotland 1775
When the Third Marquis died in 1922 he was one of the largest landowners in Scotland. His possessions covered some 400,000 acres extending across central Scotland from Aberfeldy to the islands of Luing and Seil on the West Coast. In response to a number of economic pressures the 1920s saw the sale of the whole estate including Taymouth Castle.
The building of the Taymouth Castle as we know it today was begun in 1801 and finished in 1842 on the eve of Queen Victoria's visit. It is has recently undergone extensive renovation for use as an hotel but the development has stalled.
The painting by John Griffier is one of few depictions of the previous castle and its gardens.
The history of the Breadalbanes has been recounted by William Gillies in his meticulous book 'In Famed Breadalbane' from which some key dates and issues relevant to the Fisher story have been selected;
- In olden times most of the lands of Breadalbanes were vested in the Crown and the rents were paid into the royal exchequer. The kings themselves appear to have been frequent visitors to the district, coming to fish for salmon on Loch Tay and to hunt in the forests of Ben More and Mamlorn.
- Duncan Lord Campbell of Lochaw had two sons. The ancestors of his elder son, Archibald, became the earls of Argyll and Colin born about 1406 became the first Laird of Glenorchy. The Campbells of Glenorchy entered Breadalbanes as landowners during the 15th century. Over the succeeding 400 years the Breadalbanes acquired more and more land from neighbouring landowners by a variety of means until by 1828 they possessed all the land around Loch Tay and the village of Aberfeldy
- Sir Duncan, the seventh Laird of Glenorchy, was the Laird of Breadalbanes from 1583 till his death in 1631. Known as Black Duncan of the Cowl he enlarged his estates and power by every means, whether fair or foul. He was a pioneer of afforestation and to ensure his woods were protected a fine of £20 was to be imposed on anyone cutting, or in any way destroying young trees, and award of £10 was offered for information against the offender.
- Sir Duncan was succeeded by Colin a much more peaceful character who travelled extensively and collected rich furniture and paintings. He died in 1640
- Sir Robert, the 9th Laird, died in 1657 having lived through one of the stormiest and most trying periods in Highland history during which time his estates were laid waste by Montrose leaving him with huge debts.
- John Campbell succeeded as Laird but he became eclipsed by his eldest son John who succeeded in getting control of the estates and becoming raised to the peerage largely by getting married to the beautiful and wealthy Lady Mary Rich who came with £10,000. It is said that they made their way back from London on two Highland ponies, his bride and himself on one and the gold on the other. In 1681 John Campbell junior was created First Earl of Breadalbane. He was much distrusted in his day. One contemporary said that "he was cunning as a fox, wise as a serpent, but slippery as an eel".
- John died in 1717 and nominated his younger son John as his successor. He was of a retiring disposition and had no desire for public life. While his father was at heart a Jacobite the Second Earl chose to avoid trouble and sided with the Hanoverians. He and his son ensured his tenants did not take part in the '45 rebellion. John died in 1752.
- His son John Campbell, 3rd Earl, was baptised on 10 March 1695/96 at Chapel Royal, St. James's, London. He died on 26 January 1782 at age 85 at Abbey Kirk of Holyrood House, Edinburgh.
- Lt.-Gen. John Campbell, 4th Earl and 1st Marquis of Breadalbane was born on 30 March 1762. He was the son of Colin Campbell of Carwhin and Elizabeth Campbell. He died on 29 March 1834 at age 71 at Taymouth Castle.
- His son John Campbell, 2nd Marquis of Breadalbane was born on 26 October 1796 at Dundee. Described as a man of austere cast of countenance and commanding presence, he was proud of his ancestry and of his exalted position. He died on 8 November 1862 at age 66 at Lausanne, Switzerland, without issue. He and his factor were responsible for the Breadalbane Clearances.
- John Alexander Gavin Campbell, 6th Earl of Breadalbane and Holland was born on 30 March 1824. He was the son of William John Lamb Campbell and Rosanna Doughty. He died on 20 March 1871 at age 46 at The Albany, Piccadilly, London, England. He succeeded to the title of 6th Earl on 8 November 1862. Died 20 March 1871.
Page last updated - 21/8/16