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Kilmardinny House

Kilmardinny Estate – pre 19th Century

(Owners of Kilmardinny c.1800 – 1833)


The first owner of Kilmardinny was John LEITCH, a sugar merchant. LEITCH was born in 1749, son of David, a merchant, and was a successful merchant in his fifties by the time he bought Kilmardinny. A diary entry by Elizabeth Grant of Rothiemurcus, dated 1805-6 gives a flavour of the house in the early 19th century.




(Owner of Kilmardinny 1833-1841)


William BROWN was born in December 1792 in Glasgow. His father, James BROWN had established a chemical and dye company, which William ran. William was a partner in a sugar trading business with his brothers Francis and Robert and William SMITH. During his time at Kilmardinny, William BROWN was elected Lord Dean of Guild at the Merchants House of Glasgow in 1837. This was the most senior position in Glasgow’s commercial world, and gave BROWN a seat on the city Council.



(Owner of Kilmardinny 1844-1853)


William WHYTE owned Kilmardinny between 1844 and 1853. Before moving to Kilmardinny, William lived at Gairbraid House, in Maryhill.


William was also a merchant, founder of a yarn company with his brother and he was admitted as a Burgess of Glasgow in 1817. WHYTE was on the board of City of Glasgow Life Assurance Company and was apparently a keen gardener; an article in 1850 shows William awarded a prize for grapes. William was the occupant of Kilmardinny on the 1851 census. WHYTE put the estate up for sale in November 1852.




Robert was born in 1808, son of Robert DALGLISH (1770-1844), who made his fortune in Dalglish, Falconer & Co, a calico cotton printing company. Robert later assumed control of the family firm, but it’s probably fair to say that his interests lay elsewhere. In 1857 he was elected to Parliament to represent Glasgow as a Radical, and remained as a MP until the 1874 election. Robert used Kilmardinny as a second home, but based himself in London. He was however keen to show off Kilmardinny, and was famous for entertaining and his bi-weekly “good dinners”. In February 1869, Reverdy JOHNSON, the US Ambassador to the UK, visited Glasgow and was hosted by DALGLISH at Kilmardinny.




(Owner of Kilmardinny 1880-1900)


Thomas REID purchased Kilmardinny estate after the death of Robert DALGLISH. On the 1881 census, Thomas’s occupation is given as “Yarn dyer & E[ast] I[ndia] Merchant & JP, Employing 247 males and 98 females”. Clearly a wealthy man, heading up a large company. Reid’s company was the United Turkey Red Co Ltd, previously managed by his father, Alexander. Turkey Red was a fashionable, colourfast, bright red dye, used to colour yarn for the textiles industry. Thomas REID owned Burnbrae dye works, close to Kilmardinny Estate. REID’s business ability was recognised further in 1884, when he was appointed as Chairman of Nobel Explosives, in North Ayrshire. This was the UK’s first dynamite factory, founded by Swedish inventor Alfred NOBEL. REID’s innovative plans on structuring the Nobel business as a holding company were an outstanding success.

Thomas REID died at home at Kilmardinny on 5 July 1900. He is buried in Craigton Cemetery, a company of which he was a shareholder. His personal wealth was staggering. His inventory ran to several pages and detailed investments across the globe, from railways in Mexico to gold mines in India.


REID’S estate was valued at £186,180 7s 10d, roughly equivalent to £24.5 million in 2021 terms.



Kilmardinny House in the 20th Century

THOMSON and McDONALD families


After the winding up of the REID estate, Kilmardinny was sold to Robert THOMSON, a distiller, on 9 Jul 1901. This explains why on the 1901 census (taken 1 April) for the house, only two servants are present. Robert THOMSON was a partner in Gilmour & Thomson distillers, owners of the Glencadam Distillery in Angus.


Robert THOMSON died shortly after buying the property, in August 1901 at the age of 61, and under the terms of his confirmation, the estate passed to his wife, Jane. Jane Sophia Richards Watson THOMSON is shown as the proprietor and occupier of the House, offices and land at Kilmardinny on the 1905 Valuation Rolls. On the 1915 Valuation Roll she is once again listed as the proprietor of Kilmardinny House but the occupier of the Lodge house.






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