Kilsyth - some famous residents

Kilsyth and the villages have been the home of heroes, saints, fanatics, courtesans, oddballs and villains - but which is which? Here is our own gallery - you get to decide! More submissions and nominations welcome on our Forum 

Robert Ferguson (politician)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Robert Ferguson (August 16, 1834 September 7, 1901) was an Ontario merchant and political figure. He represented Kent East in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1885 to 1901 as a Liberal member.

He was born in Kilsyth, Stirlingshire, Scotland in 1834, the son of James Ferguson, and came to Howard Township with his family in 1854. He learned carpentry in Scotland and later became involved in the lumber trade in Ontario. Ferguson served as reeve for Camden Township and warden for Kent County. He was elected in an 1885 by-election held after the death of Daniel McCraney. He died at his home in Thamesville in 1901.

Irv Frew

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Irv Frew (born August 16, 1907 in Kilsyth, Scotland) was a professional ice hockey defenceman who played 3 seasons in the National Hockey League for the Montreal Maroons, St. Louis Eagles and Montreal Canadiens.


Andrew Park's firm has been so successful, that he recently expanded outside his St Petersburg base and this summer even produced sandwiches for the President, Vladimir Putin. Park, from Queenzieburn near Kilsyth, North Lanarkshire, set up his business with a Russian who wanted his expertise in modern baking.

The firm employs 800 people and is now one of the biggest private bread producers in a country whose citizens each munch their way through 220 loaves per year. Baltic Bread's supermarket loaves cost the equivalent of about 32p, much the same as rivals' bread, but their more upmarket products extend to a strawberry flan costing 12.

His company was recently acknowledged by the Russian business news service Agronews as being the first to produce pre-packed sliced loaves for the nation.

The son of a miner who died when Park was five, he began working part-time as a baker at the age of 14. At school, he was the only boy in his food and nutrition class, and went on to study at the Glasgow College of Food Technology.

Park said: "I do go back to Scotland quite often to see my family but I'm staying here. There are so many opportunities here for business. There is a bit of Scotland in the business though. We use tartan in the wrapping for the confectionery and we produce our own shortbread and Scottish rolls."  Source: the Scotsman

Kilsyth-educated actress Dawn Steele, born 12-11-1975, was a finalist in the 2006 "Most Stylish Scotswoman". She was born in Glasgow, moved to Milton of Campsie in 1982, attended Kilsyth Academy from around 1987-93 and studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow from 1994 - 1998, supporting her early career as a waitress in the Rogano restaurant . Graduated First Class Honours July 1998. Winner of Silver Medal RSAMD 1998.  See:   and more photos.

She appeared in Comic Relief  Fame Academy, but  had a hard time singing with Lemar  because she found him too attractive!  She achieved the number one spot on the  ranking of "Most eligible women 2002".

Other major roles:  Suzi Kettles, in National theatre's version of Tutti Frutti, Justine McManus on Sea of Souls, Lexie in the BBC series Monarch of the Glen . She has also appeared in ads, movies, radio productions and other TV series. filmography

Tessa and Sascha Hartmann are rated as one of Scotland's most influential couples. She owns the marketing and events agency, TFF, which specialises in fashion, showbiz and leisure. Together with her husband, a neuropsychologist and painter, she runs Glasgow Records and Glasgow Animation, creator of T-Babe. They live in Kilsyth with their two young daughters. (source, the Herald Jan 30th 2004)

Former Kilsyth residents:

Hugh Baird, Esq., a prominent civil-engineer, resided at Kelvinhead, till his death in 1827. He projected and finished the Union Canal.

Rev William Chalmers Burns was a famous missionary to China. Born Kilsyth, Scotland, 1 April 1815, died Yingkou, China, 4 April 1868.

W A. Cadell, Esq. of Banton, was the author of two volumes of travels in Italy.

Ray Dempsey (d.2007 aged 62), emigrated to Australia in 1965 and trained as an electrical fitter. He loved music, and as a young man played for Croy parish band. As a "right pommie stirrer",  he was the subject of death threats as spokesman for the Electricity Board linesmen in Queensland during a crippling industrial action in 1985. He later became a prominent trades unionist and industrial court commissioner who also represented the Australian Government at several ILO conferences in Geneva as Secretary of the Trades and Labor Council.

Sir Archibald Edmonstone of Duntreath, Bart., lived at Colzium and was a prominent moderniser and industrialist in the early C19th. - one of a line of Edmonstones who helped to shape Kilsyth over many generations and which still thrives today at their older ancestral home of Duntreath.

Robert Graham was an eminent C18th agriculturist.

Alice Keppell was the most famous courtesan of her time, and the great grandmother of Camilla Parker Bowles, mistress and now wife of Prince Charles. As a daughter of the Edmonstone family it is unclear whether she lived in Kilsyth given that the family moved to grander premises at Duntreath, but she is likely to have been a visitor to the family estates.

Myrns McIntyre of Woodstock, Canada, writes: "Leonard Taylor of Banchory Scotland passed away in 2000. In a letter he described his great aunt:

Margaret Inglis of Kilsyth - 1856-1937:  "Maggie, as she was known to the family was a staunch "tea totaller".  No strong drink of any kind.  This was about 1898-1899.  Meetings were held in all the near villages on the evils of the demon drink.  Maggie was at all meetings. My mother (Lizzie Myles Inglis) was carried in Maggie's arms to all these meetings.  (Maggie carried for her brother's children as the mother died during a childbirth)  Walking was the means of transport taking all short cuts where possible crossing fields, over fence and dry stone dykes .  On one such journey Maggie fell.  While getting up, in trying to save the child in arms she broke her arm.  On reaching home she went to the local doctor who asked "how did you do this?"  On being told the story, he replied "if you had had a dram you would have fell relaxed and no bones broken!"  Maggie stormed out and changed her doctor.  They were successful in getting Kilsyth "dry", no shop, or bar sold liquor, no more drunks.  A few years ago (?) a vote was taken.  The result was a resounding "wet", so all Maggie's work came to nothing.  Now every club or organization has it's bar.  It was Maggie's G nephews who helped to make the town wet!" (photo of the Pleasant Sunday Afternoon Brotherhood)

Bill Irvine, MBE, ballroom dancer, was born in Kilsyth in the 1920's to a mining family, married his South African dancing partner Bobbie. The couple went on to become an international sensation, winning virtually all of the ballroom dancing awards in their halcyon period from 1960 to 1970. Their honours included at least seven World Championships as well as many other trophies. Their book, "The Dancing Years" was published in 1970. The Irvines now reside in London and still teach dance.

William Irvine born 1863, was the charismatic founder of the mysterious cult - the "Church with No Name" who retired into obscurity in Israel after being ousted in an internal power struggle by his own disciples. 

Dr James Jeffray (1759-1748) was an eminent Professor of Anatomy in the University of Glasgow from 1790 -1848. He was possibly also an industrialist - it is recorded that in 1833 the clay deposits owned by Dr James Jeffray of Cardowan House came into use, on the formation of the Heathfield Fireclay Works of Peter Ferguson & Co., later Ferguson, Miller & Co., who continued in charge until about 1862.

James Livingston was born 1447 in  Kilsyth, Scotland. He died 1503/1505. James married Beatrice (Or Elizabeth) Fleming on 1 Nov 1470/1472. President Bush of the USA is a direct lineal descendant. 

Alexander Livingston was Rector of Monyabroch from 1560 - 1597, living in "interesting times" for a cleric. He was a near relation to the house of Calender. His father, a son of the Lord Livingstone, was killed at the battle of Pinkiefield, in 1547.

Sir William Livingston of Kilsyth, a lawyer, was appointed one or the Senators of the College of Justice in 1609, and afterwards chosen one of his Majesty's Privy-Council and Vice-Chancellor of Scotland. He died about 1627.

William Livingston, only son of Alexander Livingston was educated at the University of Glasgow and appointed to the parish of Kilsyth in succession to his father.  Ordained on 13th July, 1596, he was admitted to the full charge on 15th July, 1599. His son, John, wrote: "My father was Mr. William Livingstone, first minister at Monybroch, where he entered in the year 1600, and thereafter was transported, about the year 1615, to be minister at Lanark, where he died in the year 1641, being sixty-five years old.   My father was all his days straight and zealous in the work of reformation against Episcopacy and ceremonies, and was once deposed; and wanted not seals of his ministry, both at Monybroch and also at Lanark. My mother was Agnes Livingstone, daughter of Alexander Livingstone, portioner of Falkirk, come of the house of Dunipace. She was a rare pattern of godliness and virtue. She died in the year 1617, being about thirty-two years of age. . "

The Rev John Livingston  William's son, was born in Monybroch, (Kilsyth) in Stirlingshire, 21st of June 1603, one of three sons and four daughters, and whilst related to the Viscount of Kilsyth, held very different views. A prominent Photograph by Courtesy of The Earl of Wemyss and March K.T.protestor, when many about him were content to accept the authority of the Bishops, and through them the supreme right of the monarch in all things spiritual, he aligned himself with others who opposed the doctrine of the divine right of Kings.  Livingston was among the band of ministers, who, about the year 1643 were the founders or the Presbyterian Church in Ulster.  He was afterwards minister successively of Stranraer, and of Ancrum, in Scotland, and was  banished in 1662 to Holland, where he died.

 In his brief autobiography, he writes: "Having at home learned to read and write, I was sent, in the year 1613, to Stirling, to a Latin school, where Mr William Wallace, a good man, and a learned humanist, was schoolmaster; where I stayed till summer 1617; at which time I was sent for, to be present with my mother dying".

"The first year after I went to Stirling school, I profited not much, and was often beaten by the schoolmaster; and one day he had beaten me on the cheek with a stick, so that it swelled. That same day, my father came occasionally to town, and seeing my face swollen, did chide with the master, that he having a chief hand to bring me to that place, he should use me so. The master promised to forbear beating of me, and I profited a great deal more in my learning after that. And when, in September 1616, I with the rest of my equals, had gone through all the Latin and Greek that was taught in the school, and so were ready to go to the college, and my father was come to bring me home for that end, the schoolmaster prevailed with my father (I being so young, and the master having hopes of my proficiency) that I should stay one other year; and thus another boy and I stayed another year. We for the most part read by ourselves in a little chamber above the school, the master furnishing us books, where we went through the most part of the choice Latin writers, both poets and others; and that year was to me the largemost profitable year I had at the schools."

About October 1617, I was sent to the College of Glasgow, where I stayed four years. I passed master of arts July 1621. After that I stayed in my father's, in Lanark, till I began to preach."

John Livingstone appeared before the council in the lower council-house at Edinburgh, December 11, 1662, at which time they banished him. Lord Chancellor. -- "You are called here before his Majesty's secret council for turbulency and sedition. You have been in all the rebellions and disobedience to authority that have been these many years; and although his Majesty and Parliament have given an act of indemnity for what is past, yet you continue in the same courses. ...."

His youngest son Robert, after a colourful career sailing with the notorious pirate, Captain Kidd, established a vast estate on the Hudson River and founded one of the leading families in New York.  His grandson Robert Livingstone of New York appears alongside John Adams and Benjamin Franklin when the declaration of American Independence was signed on 4th July 1776 at Philadelphia.

Bridget McConnell, b. 1958, wife of Jack since 1990, is Scotland's first Lady. Born in Lennoxtown, she was educated at Kilsyth Academy and is currently Director of Cultural and Leisure services with Glasgow City council. She has two grown-up children from an earlier marriage. Bridget and Jack live in Wishaw.

John Patrick piper from Kilsyth is known for both the precision of his technique, and the sheer exuberance of his playing.  Buy his CD: Piping Centre Recital 1997 - Volume 2 CD COMD2076 Price:   12.46 Including VAT at 17.5% ...hours of superb pipe music here for the enthusiast. Scots Magazine

The Rev. Dr R Rennie, the author of several essays on peat-moss, was a native of Kilsyth, and its minister from 1789 to 1820. Studied DD at Glasgow University. Resided at Stirling Manse, Kilsyth. Probably grandfather of Eliza Rennie, the poet, writer and friend of Mary Shelley. Robert RENNIE DD of Kilsyth was b 16.5.1762 (possibly 1767), ordained 3.9.1789 d 10.7.1820, and for 30 years minister here (Fasti iii 479 which says he was b 1767, son of John Rennie. farmer in the parish)

Eliza Rennie,  Child poet, gothic author of romances, and friend of Mary Shelley and Lord Byron. Born around 1813, married a Mr Walker, very probably spent much of her life in London but was known to have been in Kilsyth for much of the period between July 1841 and June 1842.




The Rev. James Robe, A. M., a native of Cumbernauld, and minister here from 1713 to 1755, is forever associated with the the religious revival of 1739, and  author of several volumes of sermons.

Loudon Guthrie Wilson , artist, was born in 1903 in Kilsyth. His mother, Agnes Loudon Dykes Wilson, shared her admiration for the Clyde steamers with her son, fostering what would be Wilson's lifelong enthusiasm for such vessels.  In 1912 Wilson's mother died and his father's (possibly Provost  William Wilson 1895-1904) business failed. Despite these setbacks, there was enough money to finance the Wilson family's emigration to Canada. The Wilsons settled in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Kilsyth Provosts List

Dali was one of the few important people not to have any connection with Kilsyth

Dali-The Great Masturbator


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