In This Issue:
The Honourable Coutts Marjoribanks and his brother, the Honourable Archibald, were the younger sons of Dudley Marjoribanks, the First Baron Tweedmouth, and like most younger sons of the Victorian era, were a trial to themselves and their family.
Edward, known as Teddy, the eldest son and his father’s heir, inherited the title and the property, married the Duke of Marlborough’s daughter (Winston Churchill’s aunt) and had a distinguished political career, serving finally as First Lord of the Admiralty.(See The Marjoribanks Journal No. 4)
The elder daughter, the beautiful and fashionable Mary Georgina, known as Polly, married the Viscount Ridley. The younger daughter, Ishbel Maria, married the Earl of Aberdeen and became herself a powerful force in the affairs of the Empire.(See The Marjoriban~ Journal No. 5,)
But what was to be done with the little brothers? Coutts and Archie had no titles to facilitate an advantageous marriage, no call to the Church, not much enthusiasm for a career in the Army or Navy, and no head for business.
Their father, like many fathers in that time, solved the problem by dispatching them to the colonies or, in this case, America. Lord Tweedmouth who raised Aberdeen Polled Angus cattle on his model farm at Guisachan, his estate in Inverness-shire, bought the 200,000-acre Rocking Chair Ranch at North Elm Creek in Texas and set it up as a private company. Archie went out to be the assistant manager. He got no pay from the company but Lord Tweedmouth gave him an annual remittance of £400.
For Coutts, Lord Tweedmouth bought the much smaller, 960-acre Horse-Shoe Ranch near Towner, North Dakota for £3,040. Coutts ran 500 head of cattle there, with the help of a foreman and a similar annual subsidy of £400.
Lord and Lady Aberdeen visited them both in the summer of 1887. They travelled for thirty hours by train from Kansas City to the end of the track and, after spending the night sleeping on the floor of a wagon, mounted a buckboard for another three days’ travel, stopping overnight in the cabins of hospitable ranchers.
They found Archie living in a one-bedroom frame house which he shared with Mr. Drew, the manager. The Aberdeens took over the bedroom and Archie and Mr. Drew slept on the verandah.(It seems that Coutts was also visited in 1887 by Rev. Thomas Stirling Marjoribanks, a younger son of Rev. Thomas Marjoribanks of that Ilk who died itt 1868. In an account of his travels in North America, published in a local newspaper, he tells of meeting in North Dakota a group of Scots which included “a namesake of my own, Mr. Marjoribanks.”) Shortly after their visit, at Archie’s suggestion, the nearest small town to the ranch was renamed Aberdeen. From the Rocking Chair Ranch they travelled 1,500 miles north to visit Coutts at the Horse-Shoe Ranch in North Dakota. Coutts and his neighbour E.H. Thursby, the banished son of an English baronet, had formed the Mouse River Protective Association to look after the interests of the local cattlemen and the organization was still flourishing in the 1950s.They were the first to introduce pure-bred stock into the district. Unlike many British remittance men who were regarded with ridicule and contempt by by the real cowhands, Courts seems to have won their admiration and respect.
Coutts and Archie tried hard but they were untutored, not only in American cattle-raising practices but in rudimentary business management. They were generous and hospitable and extremely popular in the local saloons on the day their remittance cheques arrived but, within a couple of years, both ranches were losing money and were up for sale.
In 1890, during a visit to Canada,( See “Through Canada with a Kodak,” The Marjoribanks Letter No. 10, September 1995) Lord and Lady Aberdeen took over from Lord Tweedmouth the task of settling Coutts in a gainful occupation. He rode up from North Dakota to meet their train in Winnipeg and there was a joyful reunion. When they reached Vancouver, Lord Aberdeen bought a 480-acre ranch in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley which they named Guisachan, after Ishbel’s father’s highland estate, and which was primarily intended to provide a job for Coutts.
The scheme was that Lord Aberdeen would buy the property and Coutts would be engaged as the manager at salary of £300 a year. However, he would draw no salary for the first two years and, at the end of that time, would be deemed to have invested the £600 and would become a partner with Lord Aberdeen and would share the profits. The Aberdeens had a house built on the property in the style of an Indian colonial bungalow. There were about seventy head of cattle, some horses, pigs, chickens, a vegetable garden, a few acres sown to wheat and one thriving apple tree.
Having installed Coutts in his new domain, the Aberdeens went home and returned the following year. They travelled from Vancouver to the town of Vernon on the first passenger train to run over the newly-laid rails. In Vernon they were met by Coutts who, because of the primitive telephone and telegraph services, had been waiting there for a week. After officially opening the district Agricultural Exhibition and buying a prize-winning team of horses, the Aberdeens, accompanied by Coutts and two servants, boarded a small boat for a four-hour moonlight voyage down Okanagan Lake to Okanagan Mission, the site of the present town of Kelowna, from where they walked two miles to Guisachan.
The business plan was to plant 200 acres in apples, pears, plums, cherries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. They would then build a jam factory whose output, Lady Aberdeen believed, would rival that of the famous British firm Crosse & Blackwell. A “remarkably fine building” was erected in Vernon for the purpose but never produced a jar of jam. Instead, It was the site of a memorable party held by the Aberdeens for the local population of Vernon.
The society reporter of the Vernon News was overwhelmed:
“… never before in the history of the city has such a large and brilliant company been brought together as that which thronged the jam factory last night in response to the invitation of Lord and Lady Aberdeen.”
The apple trees they had planted expired in Guisachan’s wet and alkali soil and the orchard was given over to the raising of a herd of forty pigs which were fed the wheat that couldn’t be sold at a profit. Their 800 cattle couldn’t earn the price of the hay they ate during the winter.
Lady Aberdeen wrote wistfully in her diary: “It would be nice to see poor old Coutts a rich man after all!”
In their unquenchable optimism, however, the Aberdeens expanded their holdings in the Okanagan by purchasing, for £50,000, the 13,000-acre Coldstream Ranch near Vernon from Hon. Forbes George Vernon, the British Columbia Minister of Mines and Works, after whom the town was named. The deal included about 2,000 cattle, seventy horses, pigs. farm implements, the crops in the fields, furniture and everything movable.
From the beginning, things did not go well at Coldstream. There were protracted arguments about the terms of sale and Lord Aberdeen’s solicitors were convinced that he had paid far too much for it. There was a dispute about how many cattle were actually on the ranch, and Lord Aberdeen’s agent was accused of accepting commissions from both the buyer and the seller.
The troubles continued. Lord Aberdeen’s solicitor observed that “the cattle were not well managed and their sale was injudiciously missed and a great many died owing no doubt to Mr. [Coutts] Marjoribanks and Mr. [Eustace] Smith [the Coldstream manager] being new in the country and having no one to advise them.”
After getting a lot of conflicting opinions from advisers in both Canada and Scotland, the Aberdeens decided to commit the Coldstream property to the growing of fruit and hops. Then they discovered that there was not enough water on the ranch to irrigate the crops. The cost of erecting kilns to dry the hops turned out to be prohibitive. Returns from the sale of fruits were discouraging and the ranch became an intolerable drain on the Aberdeen finances.
Poor old Coutts did his best and won the grudging respect of the people of the district. He was a colourful character even in that unconventional environment and his reputation survives. Some of his public appearances are recorded in a book by Mark Zuelke: “Scoundrels, Dreamers & Second Sons. British Remittance Men in the Canadian West.”(Whitecap Books, Vancouver/Toronto, 1994) . Coutts was a remittance man, and a second son, possibly a dreamer, perhaps a wastrel, but he never was a scoundrel.
Coutts was a familiar sight in Vernon, mounted on the big black horse he called Cap, which he was known to ride up onto the verandah of the Kalamalka Hotel.
He was haunted by the halo of virtue that surrounded his sister Ishbel, Lady Aberdeen. He was herding cattle onto a train one day, urging them forward, as was the custom of the country, with loud obscenities. On being reproached by the Presbyterian minister, he replied, “Hell, man! I’m not teaching Sunday school, I’m loading cattier’ Then, turning to a friend, he explained, “You know, my sister has so much godliness that there wasn’t enough to go round the rest of the family.” When he heard that Ishbel was coming to visit, he was afraid that she might take exception to some of the pictures decorating his house. He persuaded a local artist to come and look at them so that, if Ishbei raised any objections, he could tell her, that he had consulted “that artist fellow and he said they were all right.”
They weeded out any that could possibly be construed as displaying an unwarranted amount of flesh.
“You know,” Coutts said, “my sister has such infernally straight-laced ideas about modesty that she thinks all the figures in life subjects should be dressed from the ankles right up to the neck.”
Coutts eventually settled down and became a respectable citizen, one whom even his high-principled sister must have admired. In 1895 he married Agnes Margret, the daughter of Col. Kinloch of Gourdie and widow of Commander Jasper E.T. Nichols R.N. They had a daughter Ishbel Agnes who married Allen Villier Surtees of Okanagan Mission. A son died in infancy.(Ursula Surtees, director of a museum in Kelowna which has extensive records of the Aberdeens’ life itt ttle Okanagan, married John, the son of lshbel attd Allen Surtees. Ursula spoke to the 1994 Marjoribanks Gathering in Ottawa)
The Okanagan properties, far from being a source of wealth for Courts, became just a pleasant holiday retreat for the Aberdeens. Coldstream was sold in 1920 to Lord Woolavington and G uisachan, in 1903, to a dairy farmer named Paddy Cameron who sold it to developers. The Kelowna Heritage Committee helped to negotiate an arrangement with the developers and the City of Kelowna to ensure that the restored house and a about two and a half acres would be designated Guisachan Heritage Park and it was officially opened in 1990 by Alistair Gordon, the Sixth Marquess of Aberdeen, the grandson of Ishbel, Lady Aberdeen.
Coutts died 31 October 1924 at the age of 64 and the Vernon News took due note of his passing:
“His death will be particularly regretted by those of the older folk who were acquainted with him, and who speak in the very highest terms of his fine spirit of good-fellowship and his high sense of honour.”
Lord Aberdeen was appointed Governor General of Canada in 1893 by his friend and patron Prime Minister Gladstone. He and Ishbel, however, had to turn their attention from affairs of state to rescue Archie. The Rocking Chair Ranch in Texas had failed and Archie was out of a job and in poor health. Lord Aberdeen’s solution was to give him a temporary appointment as an extra aide-de-camp on his staff. Archie’s salary was paid out of Lord Aberdeen’s pocket. Much to Lady Aberdeen’s dismay, Archie became engaged to be married to Myssie Brown, of Nashville,Tennessee, the daughter of Judge Trimhie Brown. Ishbel did not approve of the ladies of Nashville society whom she found frivolous and empty-headed. compared with the sober-minded Scotswomen. Nevertheless, Archie and Myssie were married in high style, and, after a honeymoon in California they went to England to live at Bath, near Lady Tweedmouth, Archie’s widowed mother. On his return to Britain, Archie was distinguished by an appointment to the Royal Company of Archers, the Queen’s Body Guard for Scotland. He and Myssie had had two children, Edward and Isobel.
Archie died at Bath in 1900 after a long illness and five years later Myssie married Archie’s cousin(Dudley Coutts Marjoribanks, the First Baron Tweedmouth, married Isabel Hogg, daughter of Sir Janles Weir Hogg, Douglas’s grandfather) , Douglas Hogg, then a junior barrister, who later became the First Viscount Hailsham and Lord Chancellor of England.
The wedding of Elizabeth Brown, the wealthy daughter of a politically conspicuous Nashville family, and Hon. Archibald Marjoribanks, son of a Scottish baron, was a spectacular occasion.. One journalist wrote of it, “In international importance, the event has scarcely been equalled in the history of Tennessee.” Thirty extra policemen were assigned to hold back the curious crowds
Edward was born 14 February 1900, just eight months before Archie’s death. Myssie’s second marriage produced two more sons, Quintin, born in 1907 and Nell (Named for his American great-grandfather Governor Neil S. Brown of Tennessee) , in 1910, and the four children were raised together, sharing the nursery in Douglas Hogg’s London house. They were waited on by eight live-in servants: a butler, cook, kitchen maid, nanny, nurserymaid, two housemaids and a lady’s maid. Edward and Elizabeth Marjoribanks received their elementary education from a governess in their own schoolroom. The children’s activities were strictly regulated: lessons, playtime, exercise, meals and, at certain stated intervals, they were tidied up and presented for inspection and interrogation by their parents and their parents’ guests in the drawing room. The routine was punctuated by visits to the seaside at week-ends and a for a few days in the Easter holidays. During the summer vacation they would tour the more congenial capitals of Europe.
Edward, tall, slim, poised and elegant even as a boy, was worshipped by his step-brother Quintin, eight years his junior. Quintin modelled himself and his career on Edward’s, following in his steps to Eton, Oxford, the Bar and to the House of Commons. Edward’s political career was cut short but Quintin, after succeeding his father as Viscount Hailsham, went on, like his father, to be Lord Chancellor of England. Nell later served in the Foreign Office and, by chance, was the official who escorted the Duke of Windsor out of England to France, following his abdication of the throne.
Like other boys of his class, Edward followed a well-marked educational path. At the age of eight, he was separated from his parents and sent off to Sunningdale, one of the private preparatory boarding schools which imparted to children barely out of the nursery a solid grounding in the Greek and Latin classics and whose Spartan rigour was designed to imbue the ruling class with the moral strength required for a life of public service.
He won a scholarship to Eton where, in addition to Greek and Latin, he was exposed to British history, the Bible, mathematics, physics, chemistry and French. (German and Russian were optional.) He served as Captain of the School and was a member of the exclusive Eton Society, known as Pop, whose members formed the student aristocracy. He distinguished himself in Eton’s demanding curriculum, and won a scholarship to Christ Church, Oxford.
Edward had an impressive intellect but he did not by any means coast through his university career. Quintin remembers seeing him in the summer at the family’s country house in Sussex studying all day long in the garden and then making furious notes in his bedroom long into the night. He took a first-class degree in both “Honour Mods” and “Greats,” the two sets of examinations leading to the Bachelor of Arts degree. Among his distinctions, he was elected president of the Oxford Union, the world-famous debating society and mock parliament.
After graduation from Oxford and admission to the bar, Edward was elected to Parliament in 1929 for the constituency of Eastbourne, not in the Marjoribanks tradition as a Liberal but, perhaps under the influence of his step-father, as a Conservative. He was a useful member, formed valuable friendships–with Winston Churchill, among others — and would likely have become a member of Cabinet, except for his untimely death.
His reputation survives, not so much as a lawyer or a politician, but as the author of legal biographies. His most notable subject was his good friend Sir Edward Marshall Hall, an eloquent defender and the victor of many famous criminal trials.(For the Defence. The Life of Sir Edward Marshall Hall. The MacMillan Company, 1930) It was said that, although Marshall Hall’s career was impressive, his legendary reputation owed more to Edward’s talent as a biographer.The book is dedicated to his uncle, Myssie’s brother, Major-General Lytle Brown D.S.M., C.B., Chief of Engineers, U.S. Army.
He also wrote a biography of Lord Carson, the famous lawyer and Irish statesman who defended the Marquess of Queensbury against a charge of libel brought by Oscar Wilde.(Carson The Advocate. The MacMillan Cornpatty, 1932)
Edward’s handsome appearance, his natural charm and grace, and his ready wit allowed him to move easily in London “s most fashionable society. He had a romantic nature and was readily susceptible to the attractions of of the many pretty girls who sought his company.
As a reward for winning his scholarship to Oxford, Quintin’s father had promised him a Mediterranean cruise on which he embarked in 1926. As he was settling into his cabin at Southampton he was astonished to see Edward appear at the door. As it turned out, Edward was in hot pursuit of another passenger, Pamela Beckett, with whom he was having a tempestuous on-again-off-again courtship. Pamela was travelling with Patricia Herbert and Patricia’s father, a Yorkshire banker. Edward and Quintin were frequent guests at their table for dinner and Edward’s romance seemed to be progressing until they got to Athens when there was a quarrel, Pamela renounced him, and Edward left the ship in a fit of anger, half way through the cruise.
In the years that followed Edward was romantically involved with a number of other clever and attractive women and, in 1932, he fell desperately in love with the beautiful daughter of the president of his constituency association. She was overwhelmed by Edward’s charm and his growing reputation as an author, lawyer and a future statesman. They became engaged to be married. As time went on, however, his high spirits, his romantic ardour, and his imposing intellect were more than her bourgeois nature could cope with and she called the marriage off. Edward, who had scarcely recovered from Pamela’s rejection, was desolated and became ill. Quintin suggested that he stay with his mother and his step-father at the summer house in Sussex to recover. One afternoon, while he was alone in the house, he took a shotgun from the gun cabinet and killed himself.
Pentland, Marjorie: A Bonnie Fechter, the Life of Ishbel Marjoribanks, Marchioness of Aberdeen. B.T. Batsford Ltd., London, 1952
Lord Hailsham: A Sparrow’s Flight. Memoirs. Collins, London, 1990
People who collect and record names, dates and anecdotes about their family and put them in a safe place for the benefit of their posterity perform an invaluable service. Boling Feltz Marchbanks was one of those people.
Of the next generation, Boling Feltz and his brother Newton Blackstone Marchbanks joined the Parson’s 4th Texas Cavalry in 1861. After the Red River raid of 1864, Newton was sent home to procure clothing for his company but he took ill along the way and died. Boling served until the company was disbanded 23 May 1865 He married twice: first to Mary Hodge of Chatfield, Navarro County, Texas, with whom he had five children; and second, to Lida Hall with whom he had four more. He died at the age of 92.
Nothing certain is known about George Marjoribanks before he was captured by the English at Preston in the Jacobite uprising of 1715 and transported the following year to to the town of York in Virginia.
The story of the descent of Samuel Mandeville Marjoribanks and his American progeny does not in fact begin in Perthshire at alt, but many miles to the south west, in the ancestral homelands in Annandale and very likely at our point of origin, Marchbank Farm itself. Samuel was a fairly rare name in seventeenth century Scotland but not uncommon among Marjoribankses; and in 1676 the inventory of Jean, wife of Jon Marchbank in Marchbanktoune names Samuel as her son and another Samuel as “cautioner.” (This word means guarantor for the equitable division of the dead woman’s property) It is not possible to say with any certainty that the ultimate ancestor of our Samuel was either of these, but the dates are perfectly consistent with his having been Jean’s son.
*Much of the evidence for the above comes from the Old Parish Registers of Kilmadock and Kincardine-by-Doune and from “Monumental Inscriptions of South Perthshire,” both unimpeachable sources as far as they go. The mention of David as resident in Boighall is taken from a summary of the Hearth Tax return for 1694 included in the latter.
*Samuel Marjoribanks, b. Annandale 1652, d. Kilmadock 1690
*David, farm labourer in Boighall.
*Thomas, m. Janet Roberton c. 1698 in Kilmadock, of whom issue:-
*Samuel, b.c. 1699, Kilmadock; m. Mary Wright 1726; 10 children (see below).
*James, b. 1701, Kincardine-by-Doune; m. Margaret Stewart 1727; 9 children.
*Dugel, b. 1703, Kincardine. Presumed to have died young.
*John, b. 1705, Kincardine; m. Isabel Leckie in Port of Menteith; 4 children
*John, 10th child of Samuel above, b. 1743, Kincardine; m. Helen Murdoch, 1769; 8 children. Dyer & fuller in Thornhill. Emigrated 1788. D. before 1794.
*Samuel, eldest child of John above, b. Thornhill 1770. Emigrated 1794. D. 1851.
*Mary, b. Thornhill 1777, m. Mr. Wallace c. 1800-05, grandmother of Jessie & Jeanie Low.
*3 other sons & 3 other daughters.