The Garden Guide

Book: Gardening tours by J.C. Loudon 1831-1842
Chapter: Northern England and Southern Scotland in 1841

Barncleugh Garden

Previous - Next

This garden, Sir Thomas informs us, "was constructed by that Lord Belhaven who lived about the middle of the 17th century, of whom - "' It is formerlie observit, that the Inglisches haiffing routtit this natioun at the fight at Dunbar, upone the 3d September 1650, they possest this kingdome. and did foirfalt the maist part of these that wer ingadged in that unlauchful ingadgement in the Scottis ingoing to England; among quhome the Dukes of Hamiltoun, and all that formerlie were forfalt, the creditouris persewit the cautioneris for the Duke's dett and could get no relieffe. Among these cautioneris the Lord Belhevin being one, and being band for that hous in greater sumes of money than he was able to pay, he resolves to leave this natioun, that he mycht eschew comprysinges of his landis and imprissonement of his persone. This resolutioun he followes in this manner. He takis his jurney to England, and quhen he past by Silloway (Solway) Sandis, he causit his servand cum bak to his wyff with his cloak and hatt, and causit it to be vented that in ryding by these sandis, both he and his horse quhuairon be raid were sunkin in these quick sandis and drowned, nane being privy to this, both his lady and his man servand. This report passed in all pairtes as guid cumzie, that he was deid and perisched, for the space of six yearis and moir; and to mak this the moir probable and lykelie, his lady and chyldrene went in dule and murning the first two yeiris of his absens, so that during these six yeiris it was certifyed to the haill cuntrey that he was deid and perisched; all this wes done of set purpos to eschew the danger of the cautionary quhairim he lay for that Hous of Hamiltoun. Eftir his ingoing to England, he surypit himselff of his apperell, clothed himselff in ane base servill sute, denyit his name, and became servand to ane gairdner, and laborit in gardenes and yairdis during the haill space of his absence; na person being privy to this cours hot his Lady, (as for his servand he went to other service, not knowing that his old Lord haid becum a gairdner,) till efter six yeiris absens; efter quhil tyme and space the Dutches of Hamiltoun haiffing takin ordour with the &&&, and compereit and aggreyit with the creditouris, than he returned to Scotland in Januar last 1659, efter sex yeiris service in England with a gairdner, so the admiratioun of many, for during that haill space it was evir thocht he wes deid, no persone being accessorie to his secrecy bot his awin Lady to his great commendatioune. By this meanis his landis and estait wer saiff, and his cantionarie for the Hous of Hamiltoun wes transactit for, as is afoirsaid, and his estait both personall and reall fred and outquytt." "I believe that it was owing to my friend Mr. Kirkpatrick Sharp having on one occasion directed Sir Walter Scott's attention to this most singular story, that the first idea occurred to the great author of the Bride of Lammernmoor, that he should terminate the existence of the Master of Ravenswood by a death similar to that which was thus feigned by Lord Belhaven, and which Sir Walter has made so sublimely affecting as the final fate of his hero. But the object which I have most particularly in view, in my present introduction of this piece of history is, that I may be enabled to mention, that it was the knowledge which Lord Belhaven thus acquired, during his six years hard horticultural labour in England, that enabled him to lay out and construct this beautiful old terrace garden of Barncleugh." However creditable this history may be to the Lord Beilhaven of the 17th century as a gardener, it does not say much for him as a man. It is singular that a Scotch gentleman very fond of gardening, and who possessed one of the finest old places in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh, should have, a few years ago, endeavoured to defraud his creditors in a somewhat similar manner to Lord Belhaven, by inducing it to be believed that he was drowned in England, and in which he in part succeeded. He had not, however, like Lord Belhaven, taken the precaution of making his lady privy to his intentions, and, in consequence, after a certain time had elapsed, she was about to marry, which soon brought the supposed dead man to life. (To be continued.)