Scots Roots

William Gillon (1840 – 1915)
William Gillon

William Gillon

On July 16th 1915, William Gillon, J.P. died at his home in Campbeltown having been in failing health for some time.  He became seriously ill on Wednesday, 14th July and never recovered, passing away on the Friday morning at three o’clock.

William is the elder brother of James Gillon, J.P. of Armadale (see James Gillon article) and the son of Alexander Gillon, a miner in Coatbridge, and Janet Sneddon.

Born at Gartsherrie, Coatbridge, on 12th October 1840, by the age of 10, William had left school and joined his father down the mines.

He was a religious man and liked to write poetry. He became the first precentor* in Armadale Free Church and served there for four years and then, for a season, was precentor in Bathgate Free Church.

In July 1864, he married Mary Anderson and they had three children, Alexander, Allan and Janet, in Bathgate before 1870 when they uprooted themselves and moved to Campeltown in Argyllshire where Mary had been born.

By this time William had had enough of mining and decided to take up the business of grocer and seedsman in Campbeltown. The business went from strength to strength and over the following years, William and Mary had a further five children, Agnes, William, James, Mary and Ralph.

William led a busy life, particularly in church circles – he was the senior elder and for many years acted as session clerk at Lochend Church; he was superintendent of the Sabbath School for over 40 years; he was the founder of the congregational Dorcas Society, which had its beginning among the children of the Sunday School; and he was president of the Lochend Band of Hope.

A large part of William’s time was devoted to visiting the aged, the sick, and the infirm, and his calls were always welcome.

He served on both the Town Council and the School Board and for many years was a Justice of the Peace for the County. He was also, at one time or another, on the Management Board of several local institutions or societies, such as the Cottage Hospital and the Bible Society.

Mary Anderson

Mary Anderson

He was an author of some repute, and poems from his pen frequently appeared in the Press. He set many of his hymns to appropriate tunes, and occasionally set the compositions of other authors to suitable music. Many of his hymns were composed for special occasions and were distributed at the Sabbath School and elsewhere.

William’s obituary in the West Lothian Courier of 13th August 1915 concludes:

“By Mr Gillon’s removal, the town has lost a citizen than whom no one was more beloved or more highly esteemed. He was a man whose presence had at all times an elevating influence, one who by precept and example set a worthy standard before his fellows that will keep his memory green for many years to come, and the fruits of whose consistent life, a life of quiet and unobtrusive Christian service, cannot be appraised by his contemporaries and must long remain.

Mr Gillon was predeceased by his wife, who died on 31st May, 1914, and is survived by four sons and three daughters, to whom sincere and widespread sympathy will be extended in their fresh bereavement. Two of the sons, it may be mentioned, are presently serving in His Majesty’s Forces, James being with the Army Service Corps in Egypt, while Ralph** took part with General Botha’s  Northern Force in the recent operations in German South West Africa.”

William was buried in Kilkerran Cemetery, Campbeltown on Monday, 19th July 1915, before a large crowd.  Lochend Church bell was tolled during the funeral hour.

*The precentor is the person appointed to lead the congregational singing.

* *Ralph was killed in action the following year, July 1916, in France.

Kilkerran Cemetery, Campbeltown

Kilkerran Cemetery, Campbeltown

Copyright © Scots Roots Research 2014

Calanais (Callanish) Standing Stones
December 7, 2014, 5:38 pm
Filed under: Photographs, Scottish History | Tags: , , ,

Callanish 1 The stones stand on a low ridge by Loch Roag on the west coast of the Isle of Lewis.

A chambered tomb is surrounded by a circle of tall stones, the highest of which stands at 4.8 metres tall. Lines of smaller stones radiate out from this circle to the south, east and west, with an 83 metre long avenue formed by two lines of stones running to the north.

Callanish 2The main circle was erected 4,500 – 5,000 years ago and the chambered tomb some time afterwards. It is not clear whether the stone alignments were from the same time period or a later addition. Nor is it known what the purpose of the stones was although it is thought to be some kind of astronomical observatory.

There are a number of similar but smaller sites in the same vicinity and the area seems to have been a focus for religious activity for at least 1500 years.

Calanais was abandoned about a thousand years after it was built and the stones were eventually enveloped by peat until 1857 when the peat was cut and the full height of the stones was revealed.

The site is now maintained by Historic Scotland, an agency for the Scottish Government.

Callanish 3

To see more, please click on Ancient Scotland.

Copyright © Scots Roots Research 2014

Urquhart Castle
November 27, 2014, 12:04 pm
Filed under: Photographs, Scottish History | Tags: ,

Urquhart CastleUrquhart, one of the largest castles in Scotland, is situated on Strone Point to the north-west of Loch Ness, near the entrance to Glen Urquhart.

Built between the 13th and the 16th centuries on the site of an earlier fortification, it was a royal castle until it was given to Clan Grant in 1509.

When the last soldiers marched out in 1692, they blew it up to prevent its use by Jacobite forces.

Urquhart Castle


To see more, please click on Scottish Castles.

The Forecasting Stone
November 17, 2014, 10:34 am
Filed under: Photographs | Tags: ,

High tech weather forecasting at the Blue Shed, Torrin, Isle of Skye:

Forecasting stone

The Blackhouse
November 7, 2014, 11:42 am
Filed under: Photographs, Scottish History | Tags: , ,


Black House 1Blackhouses were traditionally built with thick dry stone walls, usually thatched with turf or reed and with floors of flagstones or packed earth.

They were generally to be found in the Scottish Highlands, the Hebrides and Ireland.

Part of the house was used as living accommodation and part was used to keep livestock.

The house had no chimney and was heated by a fire in the middle of the floor, the smoke permeating out through the thatch.

Peat stack

The peat stack


Additional warmth was provided by the body heat of the animals living at the end of the house.

People continued to live in blackhouses into the twentieth century until the demand for more modern houses with better heating and plumbing caused them to fall out of favour.

Many have now been restored for use as holiday accommodation.

Black House 3

October 31, 2014, 5:54 pm
Filed under: Photographs, Wildlife | Tags: , , ,

Machair 2Machair, a Gaelic word which means fertile low lying grassy plain, is one of the rarest habitats in Europe occurring only on the western coasts of Scotland and Ireland.

In the Outer Hebrides, Machair habitats run along the western shores of Uist, Harris and Lewis.

It is formed by sand being regularly blown ashore by Atlantic gales.

Machair 1Over time the calcium rich sand and traditional crofting land practices have led to the development of fertile grassland habitats renowned for wildflowers, birds and insect life.

Machair habitats are threatened by changes to the way the land is managed – a reduction in the number of crofters means a reduction in the amount of grazing taking place – and by increased erosion due to rising sea levels.

Machair 3

Commonwealth War Graves – Ashaig Cemetery, Isle of Skye

Ashaig CemeteryThe Cunard White Star liner RMS Queen Mary left New York in September 1942 carrying 10,000 troops bound for the Firth of Clyde in Scotland.

On 2 October 1942, near the north west coast of Ireland she was joined by the escort ship HMS Curacoa, a 4,000 ton British light cruiser, for the final part of the journey to the Clyde. To make themselves less of a target for torpedoes from U-boats, both ships zig-zagged through the water. However, this course of action brought the two ships perilously close to each other.

Each captain thought the other was bound to take evasive action. Neither did.Ashaig Cemetery

The Queen Mary was huge compared to the Curacoa and ploughed straight through the middle of the smaller vessel, cutting it in two. The Curacoa sank within minutes along with most of its crew. The Queen Mary carried on to Gourock with some damage to its bow. Wartime regulations meant that she was not permitted to stop to help any survivors from the Curacoa because she would then have been vulnerable to U-boat attack.

Of the 440 crew of the Curacoa, 100 men survived . Most of the rest went down with the ship but in the following weeks bodies were washed up on various shores around the west coast of Scotland and the Hebrides. Around 20 of these seamen were washed up on Elgol and Sleat on the Isle of Skye and were buried at Ashaig Cemetery near Broadford.

The wreck of the Curacoa, lying off the north west coast of Ireland, remains a war grave to this day.

Ashaig Cemetery



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: