Cambusnethan House, pp.35-38.



O broad and limpid river,
O banks so fair and gay –
O meadows verdant ever,
O groves in green array;
O woods that to the breeze
With waving branches play;
O sands where oft at ease,
With careless steps we stray!
From the Spanish.


CAMBUSNETHAN House, the seat of Robert Lockhart, Esq. of Castlehill and Cambusnethan, is situated on the north side of the Clyde, nearly three miles from Hamilton, and four from Mauldslie.The old mansion house having been, by accident, burned down in 1816, the present one was erected in 1819, from designs by William Gillespie, Esq. Edinburgh. It is an elegant mansion in the manorial or domestic Gothic style of architecture. The principal entrance is in the north front, which is splendidly ornamented with pinnacles and tabernacle work; the south front, which commands a view of the Clyde, is similarly ornamented, and has a very fine appearance, as seen from the public road on the opposite side of the Clyde. The house extends in front nearly one hundred feet in length; and is fifty feet in breadth. It contains twenty seven rooms having fire places, including three pubic rooms, the largest of which is thirty-five feet in length by twenty-one in breadth; there is another thirty-two feet by twenty-one. The sunk story is entirely arched over with stone. On the south front of the house is an inscription mentioning the date of the fire by which the former one was destroyed, and a still more lamentable occurrence, which happened in the family shortly afterwards. The view in the engraving is taken from the north.

The house stands upon a considerable eminence, about a quarter of a mile distant from the Clyde. It is on all sides surrounded by gardens, and orchards, or grounds very handsomely wooded; nor will the scenery here be diminished, by a comparison with the most delightful which we have yet met on the Clyde. The orchards too, it may be mentioned, are among the most valuable in this part of the country. Lord Somerville1 gives a very particular description of Cambusnethan, in the seventeenth century, which it may not be uninteresting to insert. “For the house,” he says, “it stands upon ane eminence, haveing ane ascent upon all quarters save one, overlooking two spacious haughs and the river of Clyde some two arrow flight from the house. The first of these haughs lying to the north-west, is a mylle of lenth, and in some places a quarter broad to the river; the second lying to the south-east, is three quarters of a mylle long, and a quarter broad, which makes with the orch-yairds, woods, and higher ground, the over-mayns of Cambusnethan. Rounde the house lyes all the orch-yairds, the garden upon the south east, from which, upon both hands you may descend to the brae-yairds of three large tarrasses, and to ane other yard commonly called the Garden-head yaird; upon the south of the garden, by ane easy descent, you come to the great orch-yaird containing sex aikers of ground; all the other quarters of the house hes yairds upon them full of choyce fruits, and without them woodes.

“To take a view of the yairds and woods (from the lights or platforme of the house) in the latter end of April or beginning of May, one would thinke the wholl fields wer covered with linnen and carpets; such variety hes the undergrouth and leaves, with the flourishing of severall sorts of trees that growes there, and as ther is much pleasure in this, soe there is noe little profite accresses to the owners from the woods and orch-yairds, wherein you have the choicest of fruits, in a seasonable year, from the middle of May untill the first of November; from the trees you can eat of some one kind or other, their being few years but the chessnuts and wallnuts comes almost to perfection; the apprecocks, peaches, and other outlandish fruits allways; the wine berrie and figgs to a great length. In a word ther is not one insche of the Over Mayns of Cambusnethan that is not both for profit and pleasure: take but the testimonie of a judicious English judge by name Judge Smith;2 while he was goeing the circuits in the west, he came of purpose to see Cambusnethan and went up the Halkie hill, that overlooks much of the domaine, in a rapture he expresses himself thus, ‘All Scotland and three parts of England cannot compare with that peice of ground!'” Such is Cambusnethan described to have been nearly two hundred years ago; and we are also entitled to say, that its beauties and fertility do not appear to have been exaggerated.

In the early part of the thirteenth century, the barony of Cambusnethan is said to have been in the possession of a family of the name of Baird, some individual of which probably erected the ancient tower, called the Bairds’ tower, “a building some twenty feet square,and four storie high, which was still standing in the same forme and fashion, untill the year 1661, that it was demolished by Sir John Harper, when he rebuilt the House of Cambusnethan.”3 On the forfeiture of Sir Robert Baird, says the Author of the Memorie of the Somervills,4 Sir John Edmonstone, obtained a donation of the barony from King David Bruce in 1345; and he adds, that it afterwards came into the family of Somerville, by the marriage of John, eldest son of Walter Somerville baron of Carnwath, with Margaret daughter of Sir John Edmonstone. From a note, however, by the Editor of the work we quote,5 this statement must be erroneous: For Robert II. grants a charter dated July 1392 of the lands of Cambusnethan to Thomas Somerville, son and apparent heir of Sir William Somerville, and to Janet Stewart his spouse, and the longest liver of them, “which lands of Cambusnethan are stated to have belonged to Sir Alexander Stewart of Darnlie father of the said Janet Stewart,and must be considered as being her dowry.” Thus the author, Lord Somerville, has erred both as to the time and manner, in which his family acquired the estate of Cambusnethan.

In 1489, Cambusnethan was conveyed by Lord Somerville to his second son, Sir John of Quathquhan, from whom arose a most powerful branch of the family; and which, for a time obscured, even the noble stock whence it had sprung. But the extravagance of Sir James, the sixth Baron, brought its grandeur to a close. A considerable portion of the Barony was sold by him at different times, to a variety of persons, till at length nothing remained, but what was called the Overmains of Cambusnethan, and the superiority of the Barony. Even this he was obliged to sell; and “reflecting sadly upon his oune misgovernement, he would faine have lessened the odium that was upon him for delapidating soe fair a fortune, by selling the remainder to some gentleman of his oune name.”6 It was purchased from him in 1647, by James Somerville of Drum, the representative of the principal family, who, though entitled to do so, declined assuming the title of Lord Somerville, which the decayed state of his fortune seemed unable to support. In the almost total decay of this noble family, which shortly followed, the Barony of Cambusnethan passed into other hands; it has for a long period been in the possession of the family of the present proprietor.

Allanton House, the seat of Sir Henry Steuart, Bart., is situated in this parish, near the river Calder, and at the distance of a few miles from the Clyde. This delightful place has of late excited great interest, from the removed woods with which it has been adorned, by its enlightened proprietor. Notwithstanding the acknowledged antiquity of attempts to transplant large trees, we need hardly inform our readers, that literally nothing had been done to fix its practice on any kind of principles; and that as it has been usually conducted, it was little else than “a mere display of expense and labour, adopted without plan, and executed without skill or science.” Under such circumstances, it was not to be expected that any certainty of success ever could be attained; and indeed, so seldom has success attended any attempts to remove large trees, that it has generally been considered next to an impossibility to do so.

From the acknowledged state of this highly useful and important, though hitherto neglected art, it was with no small astonishment, that persons interested in arboriculture, came to learn the uniform success which had attended the exertions of Sir Henry Steuart at Allanton House; and so problematical did the statement seem, that actually visiting the place, and beholding the manner in which, in a very few years, he had extensively covered his park with large and beautiful wood, was necessary to satisfy many of its truth. Indeed, actually seeing what has been there done, will alone convince those unacquainted with the system of what may be performed by it. In the park at Allanton House, absolute forests of trees are seen, which have all been removed; and a landscape of the most beautiful description, magnificently adorned with

                                Trees of various shade,
Scene behind scene, with fair delusive pomp,

has been created within a few years. There are also several extensive removed, as well as natural copeswoods; and it is not a little remarkable, that the only distinction which can be observed between them is, that the leaves of those removed are of a deeper, richer, and more healthy green, than even the natural wood.

Had these valuable improvements been attempted on the old plan, we need hardly inquire what would have been the result. Instead of presenting the beautiful appearance it now displays, the park at Allanton would have been covered with an unsightly collection of dead or dying pollarded trees. Had young nursery trees been transplanted, Sir Henry, instead of now enjoying the scene he may be said to have created, would have never beheld them above a few feet in height; another generation could only have received the benefit of what he had done.

It would be quite aside from the object of our work, to enter into any detail of the improvements which Sir Henry Steuart has introduced into the art of transplanting trees; and this is fortunately rendered unnecessary , as the Baronet has himself published a work where the system is fully explained,7 and in reading which, we know not what most to admire, – the popular and interesting manner in which the philosophical principles are developed, – the perspicuity and preciseness of the practical rules, – the graphic power of delineation, exhibited in the descriptive parts, – or the cultivated literary taste, and highly elegant style throughout displayed.


1  Memoirs of the Somervilles, Vol. ii. p. 383.
2  He was one of Cromwell’s judges. Sir Walter Scott, says it was of him, and his brother in commission, Mosley, that the epigram was first composed, which has since been applied to others:
Smith, Mosley, and Necessity,
Are very like each other;
Necessity hath got no law,
Nor Smith, and Mosley neither.
3  Memorie of the Somervills, vol 1, p. 149.
4  Ibid. vol 1, p. 131.
5  Ibid. vol 1, p. 156.
6  Ib. vol. 2, p. 104.
7  The Planter’s Guide, by Sir Henry Steuart, Bart., L.L.D., F.R.S.E., &c.