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ROBERT FINDLAY of Easterhill and Boturich (1784-1862)

and his wife,

MARY BUCHANAN (1787-1869)


The grandfather of Robert Findlay of Easterhill, also named Robert Findlay, was the original “tobacco merchant” of the family. He made his fortune by importing tobacco from Virginia to Glasgow. This was made possible by the “Union of the Parliaments” in 1707 when Scotland was able to trade with America on the same terms as England. Robert travelled to Virginia at the age of 16 to join two uncles who already owned plantations. Robert Findlay of Easterhill’s father in 1782 bought “The Tobacco Merchant’s House” at 42 Miller Street in Glasgow’s Merchant City which still stands today and is owned by the Scottish Civic Trust.

He also developed the nearby Virginia Buildings in 1814 as premises for his generation of tobacco traders. Little is known about the Findlay family while they lived in Miller Street. However Robert’s sister, Dorothea, “ran off” with her Glassford Street piano teacher, John Donaldson, who went on to become Professor of Music at the University of Edinburgh, but who was described by her family as “a cur and a scoundrel”.


Robert Findlay of Easterhill and with his wife Mary Buchanan inherited the Lands of Boturich from their eldest son, another Robert Findlay (KMR007) who had purchased Boturich from the executors of John Buchanan of Ardoch. The outline of the ruins of the Old Place of Ardoch are still visible in a grove of old lime trees by the SW corner of Ross Priory Wood and the fishing pond above the recently renovated Ardoch Estate.


THOMAS DUNLOP FINDLAY (1895-1950) and NANCY FINDLAY (1902-1983)

Thomas Dunlop Findlay’s grandfather, another Thomas Dunlop Findlay (another son of Robert and Mary in KMR006), established a partnership with the shipping company, Patrick (Paddy) Henderson and the Dumbarton shipbuilder Denny’s and founded the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company in 1865. This partnership established the historic “Irrawaddy Flotilla Company” immortalized by Rudyard Kipling in his poem “Mandalay” with the lines, “Come you back to Mandalay, Where the old Flotilla lay”. It operated in Burma from 1865 until the mid 1940s. Prefabricated steamships, built in Dumbarton, plied the 1000 mile length of the Irrawaddy River from Rangoon to Bhamo, close to the frontier with China. The main trade was rice and teak. All the vessels for the flotilla i.e. flat-bottomed steamers and “flats” which were towed or lashed alongside, were pre-fabricated by Denny’s of Dumbarton and other Clydeside shipyards. More than 600 were shipped out to Burma and reassembled in the shipyards in Rangoon. All the ships of the fleet were scuttled by the owners when the Japanese invaded Burma during WW2.


T D Findlay, who was the father of the present William (Bill) spent much of his early life at Crossbasket House, High Blantyre and moved to Boturich in 1932. He died at the relatively early age of 55.

The photograph above shows a curling match on Loch Lomond in 1947 when the loch froze over. The estate staff are playing the house staff. Nancy Findlay is about to release her stone with her husband Thomas Dunlop Findlay back left. (Boturich Castle is no longer in Findlay ownership and is now run as wedding venue.)


JAMES MURRAY FRANCIS  (7th-18th March 1941)

This stone records the resting place of baby James Murray Francis who was born at Clydebank and died 11 days later at Boturich from the effects of the Clydebank blitz of March 1941 when virtually all of the 12,000 homes were either destroyed or damaged and 35,000 people made homeless. The Luftwaffe bombed Clydebank on the nights of 13th and 14th March 1941 to destroy the shipyards and munitions factories. On the day after the blitz, Nancy Findlay saw a woman with a baby walking in Bonhill and took them to Boturich. Unfortunately the baby died. Bill Findlay, who was a child at the time, only remembers being told to keep quiet because of the baby. The baby’s family still visit his grave and his younger brother went on to become a Professor of Engineering at University of Glasgow.

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