Lyons of Kirkmichael

The Lyons of Kirkmichael were a cadet branch of the Lyons of Glamis (later Earls of
Strathmore and Kinghorne). The Rev. George Lyon of Wester Ogil (1711-1793), minister of
Longforgan, married as his second wife Margaret Rodger, daughter of Hugh Rodger, provost of
Glasgow, and they had four sons (William, Hugh, George and James) and a daughter (Margaret).
The daughter, Margaret, married the Rev. John Playfair, Principal of St. Andrews University; and one of their daughters, Jean, eloped in 1802 with her cousin Patrick Playfair, a merchant in Glasgow with interests in the West Indies. The youngest son of the Rev. George Lyon, James, became minister of’ Glamis. His older brother, George (1755-1812), who was a merchant in London, married Margaret Stewart; some time after his death, in 1820, she married Sir Adam Ferguson, a former soldier who was an intimate friend of Sir Walter Scott, and who through Scott’s influence became Deputy Keeper of the Scottish Regalia. In 1825, the Fergusons moved from Gattonside House, near Melrose, and rented Tinwald House, near Dumfries.
By her first marriage to George Lyon, Margaret had two sons: George, born at Denmark Hill, Surrey, on 15 July 1804; and John, born on 1 December 1808. When their father died in 1812, his substantial estate was put in the hands of executors for the benefit of his sons; and Patrick Playfair, the Glasgow merchant, the Rev. James Lyon, and a Mr. Carstairs became the guardians of George and John.
In 1823 a commission as cornet in the 2nd Life Guards had been purchased (at the cost of £2,100) for George; and in anticipation of his majority, his guardians, together with his stepfather Sir Adam Ferguson, were looking for a landed estate for him. They found it in the estate of Kirkmichael, in the Dumfriesshire parish of the same name. Playfair, Ferguson and Isaac Bayley (an Edinburgh lawyer whose grandson Isaac Fenton Bayley appears in the 1890s photographs) inspected the property on 27 May 1824; and Ferguson wrote to George at Regent Barracks in London, saying that “it is a place that would suit your taste perfectly, there being both plenty of fine partridge ground, & also a very considerable tract of hill ground for grouse and grey fowl, besides trouting in the Water of Ae”. The rents of the estate amounted to about £1,800, and further income was expected from thinning of timber. The estate came to auction in Edinburgh on 23 June, with an upset price of £40,000, and was bought by the executors on George’s behalf from the Dalzell family who had owned it since the mid-17th Century. In 1826, George added to the estate by purchasing from the same family the neighbouring lands of Glenae Woods and Nees.
In 1830, George sold the estate to his younger brother John, but retained a portion forming the small agricultural estate of Dalruscan, in the neighbouring parish of Tinwald. On 18 February 1827, in a ceremony at Cowhill Tower, in the parish of Holywood, Dumfriesshire, conducted by the Rev. James Lyon, minister of Glamis, George Lyon was married to Phoebe de Courcy Johnston. Phoebe, daughter of Vice-Admiral Charles Johnston of Cowhill and Sybella Scott, had been born at sea “off the Cape” about 1809. George and Phoebe had nine children over the next twenty-two years:
George Adam (1828-1839);
Charles James (1828-1856);
Sybella (c. 1830-1863);
Margaret (dates unknown; married Robert Begbie);
Phoebe (1834-1923. Married Maxwell Hyslop);
John Elliott (1835-1858);
Cecil Edward Leny (1842- );
Walter Fitzgerald Knox (1844-1894. Married Isabella Towers-Clark);
Catherine (c. 1847- );
Amy(c.1850- ).
George and Phoebe do not seem to have lived on his Dalruscan estate. Their first son was born in Italy, their second at Gattonside House, Melrose; Phoebe was born at Lindores in Fife, Walter at Pau in France, and the two youngest daughters in Edinburgh. In the 1851 census they are to be found in a lodging house in Maitland Street, Edinburgh, with their daughters Catherine and Amy.
On 23 February 1860, their daughter Phoebe was married to Maxwell Hyslop at Bellfield House, Cupar, Fife. Capt. Lyon’s settlement on his daughter provided for a payment of £1,000 on his death, and a further £1,000 payable on his wife’s death. George, who had progressed to the rank of lieutenant-colonel, died in Windsor in 1879; and presumably as a consequence of the marriage settlement, the estate of Dalruscan then passed to Maxwell Hyslop (who by then had become Maxwell Hyslop Maxwell of The Grove and Glengaber). In the 1890s, Charles Hyslop Maxwell became his father’s tenant at Dalruscan, and he later farmed the estate as proprietor. The farmhouse at Dalruscan was destroyed by fire on 21 April 1923, and soon Charles and his wife Bess retired to Solecote, Bookham, Surrey.
The principal part of Kirkmichael estate was, as previously noted, sold to John Stewart Lyon in 1830; and the Edinburgh architect William Burn was engaged to design Kirkmichael House (1832-34) which replaced the Old Place of Kirkmichael. In 1836, John married a Canadian heiress, Mary Theresa Dickson; and their only son, George Francis Lyon (1837-1881) inherited the estate on his father’s death in 1862. In turn, George Francis’s eldest son, also John Stewart Lyon (1868- 1934) inherited. A fire in the early 1900s destroyed a large part of the house, which was only partly restored; and in 1919 parts of the estate, including the mansion, were sold to the Galbraith family, who lived in The Barony (as Kirkmichael was now called) until 1939. The estate was requisitioned by the Army during World War II, and used first as a training camp and later as a prisoner-of-war camp. After the War, the estate was bought by Dumfries County Council and in 1953 the Barony School was established to train boys in agriculture. In 1974 it became a college of further education as the Barony College, specialising in agriculture, horticulture and related subjects.
When he sold the estate in 1919, John Stewart Lyon and his family moved to Jessfield, near Parkgate, and changed its name to Kirkmichael House. His mother Esmé moved to Foxwood House, just east of The Barony, where she died at the age of 90 in 1934. Foxwood House became the home of the Galbraith family in 1939.