Kelly House, pp.131-132.



Arch’d walks of twilight groves,
And shadows brown, that Sylvan loves.


KELLY HOUSE, the seat of Robert Wallace, Esq. of Kelly, is a modern mansion erected by the late John Wallace, Esp. of Kelly, about the year 1793, and subsequently greatly improved by the present proprietor. It forms a commodious family mansion, but its external appearance, though neat, is quite plain, and has no pretensions to architectural decoration. The situation of the house, however, is particularly good, and the pleasure grounds as well as the surrounding scenery peculiarly delightful. Indeed when the whole of its accompaniments are taken into view, it may well be admitted that there are few more agreeable seats upon the Clyde.

The coast at this place, as it is with a few exceptions along the whole course of the Frith, is bounded at a short distance back from the shore with a range of hills, sometimes rising in gentle slopes, and at other times in abrupt rocky precipices, from which is to be had a continued succession of beautiful and varied views. In a finely wooded portion of this range, at a distance of rather more than two miles below Innerkip, Kelly house is situated, considerably elevated from the shore, and commanding an extensive and magnificent marine prospect, as well as of the Highland scenery opposite. It is surrounded by rich and thriving woods, which have been in a great measure all planted by the present proprietor.

It would certainly very far exceed our limits were we to attempt to give any detailed account of the various important improvements which the talents and energy of Mr. Wallace have enabled him to make upon this estate since it came into his possession; but we may mention that he has greatly increased the extent of the arable land by his skill in agriculture, and the value and beauty of the pleasure grounds by much valuable and ornamental planting. Even the game on the estate he has improved, by the introduction of the pheasant into the woodlands, and the blackcock on the muirs.

But Mr. Wallace has not devoted his time to agriculture and the sports of the field alone. As a freeholder of Renfrewshire he has always taken a great deal of interest in county, and in general politics, as well as in all matters of public advantage and improvement. It is also worthy of being noticed that this gentleman is undoubtedly the nearest male representative of the ancient family of the Wallaces of Craigie,1 near Ayr, from whom sprung Sir William Wallace of Elderslie, the renowned patriot of Scotland, whose memory yet lives so freshly in the heart of every Scotsman.

The estate of Kelly is situated at the extremity of the county of Renfrew, where it joins with Ayrshire. Kelly burn, which runs into the sea not far from the house, here and for some distance inland, forms the boundary of the two counties. These lands anciently belonged to a family of the name of Bannatyne, descended from the Bannatynes of Kames in the island of Bute. They acquired the lands from James III., consequently this must have been previous to 1488, in which year he was slain near Bannockburn. Crawford in his history of Renfrewshire2 says, the original charter was yet extant in his time, but he does not give its date. The estate continued for more than 300 hundred years in the possession of this family, till the year 1792, when it was alienated to the present family of Wallace.3

Immediately below Kelly house is Wemyss Bay, on the north east shore of which, several delightful villas have been erected, which are occupied as summer residences during the bathing season. The situation of these houses is peculiarly pleasant, as they are open in front to a beautiful and extensive bay, while they are sheltered behind by the close and extensive woods which surround Kelly house. Indeed so thick is the leafy greenery around them, that they can hardly be seen from the road. It is from the rocky point which terminates this bay on the north that the accompanying engraving has been taken; and it is almost the only point where the rich and over-topping woods will allow the house of Kelly to be seen to any advantage.


1  See Robertson’s Continuation of Crawford’s Renfrewshire, p. 429.
2  P. 129.
3  Robertson’s Ayrshire families, vol. I. p. 70.

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