D7: William Arthur

D7: William Arthur (farmer, benefactor)

Gravel chips now in place

Gravel chips now in place

Inscription

IN MEMORY OF DAVID ARTHUR
LATE FARMER IN WELLHILL
WHO DIED 8TH MARCH
1860
AGED 79 YEARS
And of
JANE FINDLAY
HIS WIFE WHO DIED 11TH MARCH
1860
AGED 80 YEARS
Also
OF THEIR SON
JAMES
WHO DIED IN
INFANCY
Also
THE UNDERNAMED
J.F. ARTHUR M.D. CSI
WHO DIED AT LOCHSIDE HOUSE
26TH JULY 1886
AGED 75 YEARS

ERECTED BY J.F.ARTHUR ESQ. M.D.
SURGEON MAJOR
H.M.S. INDIAN ARMY

Inscription

TO THE MEMORY OF
ELIZABETH HOUSTON
WIFE OF
WILLIAM ARTHUR
LATE FARMER IN
WELLHILL
WHO DIED 3RD AUGUST
1885
AGED 59 YEARS
THE ABOVE
WILLIAM ARTHUR
WHO DIED 20TH FEBRUARY
1894
AGED 84 YEARS

arthur_tree

The earliest parish record of an ‘Arthur‘ in New Cumnock is the 1735 baptism record of James Arthur, son of James Arthur and Mary Ranken at Benston.  This family is very likley to be descendants of William Arthur (born c. 1760) who married Margaret Fergus (Forgy) who had five children baptised in New Cumnock in the period 1779-1805 including eldest son James who would later farm Benston whilst his second son David farmed at nearby Wellhill.

map_benston_wellhill

Wellhill to the west ofthe village with Benston north of it

A. James Arthur (1779- 1851) and Jean Lennox (1782-1857)

Children: William (b.1807), Crawford (b.1808), James (b.1810), David (b.1812), John (b.1814), Alexander (b.1816), Mary (b.1818), Mary (b.1819), Elizabeth (b.1822), Hugh (b.1829)

James Arthur farmed the lands at Benston where he and his wife Jean Lennox raised a large family of seven sons and three daughters. Son Alexander later took over the farm, while his youngest son Hugh, emigrated to Australia with his wife Wilhelmina Houston of Garlcaugh, where they too raised a large family.

arthur_lennox01

B. David Arthur (1780-1860) and Jane Findlay (1780-1860)

Children: John Findlay (b.1807), William (b.1809), Margaret (b.1811), David Findlay (b.1813) and James (b.1816).

David worked the neighbouring farm of Wellhill. He and his wife Jane Findlay had one daughter and four sons, although their youngest son James died in infancy.

Eldest son John Findlay Arthur graduated in medicine at Glasgow University and went on to serve as a surgeon in H.M Indian Army and retired with the rank of Surgeon-General. In 1869 he was awarded ‘The Most Exalted Order of the Star of India’, C.S.I and later served as Justice of the Peace. [ See Soldiers: John Findlay Arthur]

Third born son David Findlay Arthur was also a graduate of Glasgow University where he studied for the ministry. When the Disruption of 1843 saw 450 ministers (including New Cumnock’s minister) split from the Church of Scotland to form the Free Church of Scotland the Marquis of Bute, as patron of the church (he was also the  proprietor of Benston and Wellhill), offered Rev. David Arthur the vacant position at New Cumnock. He refused the offer and instead became the first minister of the Free Church at Stewarton (John Knox Church) and later at Free Church in Banchory-Devenick, Kincardineshire.

Daughter Margaret Arthur married William McTurk, farmer and proprietor of Polquhirter farm and together they had seven children. Their family lair lies against the north side of the Auld Kirk ruins.

david_arthur_01

Second born son, William Arthur entered into partnership with his father in running Wellhill.

B1. William Arthur (1809-1894) and Elizabeth Houston (1826-1885)

Children: No issue

William Arthur was born on 2nd May 1809 at Crook cottage on the lands of Wellhill. His elder brother John had also been born at Crook , whilst his younger siblings were all born at Wellhill.

map_crook_wellhill

Crook cottage to the north-east of Wellhill farm

William married Elizabeth Houston, daughter of John Houston of Garclaugh. Her sister Wilhemina married William’s cousin Hugh Arthur. (John Houston’s sister, Elizabeth married John Hunter and their eldest son was William Hunter – see Discovery : William Hunter).

D7_02_William&ElizabethArthur

William Arthur and his wife Elizabeth Houston

William managed Wellhill with his father and run the farm after his father passed away, boyh his parents died in 1860 within three days of one another.

Willliam and Elizabeth had no children and on their retirement they moved to a house they had built at Pathhead, called ‘Arthur’s Seat’. Elizabeth passed away in 1885 and as a widower William sought opportunities to put his wealth to good causes.  He and five other men, including John Hunter (see Discovery: William Hunter) set up the annual Old Folks Party in 1889 , which would be financed by William.  The first one was held in the old schoolroom of the Free Church with William Arthur as chairman. William was an active member of the Free Church and greatly concerned with the welfare of others.

freechurch1843

Free Church

On his death in 1894 his estate amounted to nearly £10,000. Of this sum he desired that £1000 be invested on behalf of poor people. After payment of certain legacies three-fifths of the residue he desired to be devoted to a building fund for the Castle Free Church, and the remaining two-fifths to the furtherance of any object which might meet with the approval of the Trustees. From the interest of the £1000 referred to, forty-four of the deserving poor receive each a half-sovereign at the Whitsunday and Martinmas terms. The Arthur Trustees included retired teacher Andrew Stirling (see Discovery : Andrew Stirling) and local merchant Thomas Kirkland (see Discovery: Thomas Kirkland).

In 1913, the existing Free Church was replaced with the magnificent Arthur Memorial Free Church a fitting tribute to a much loved benefactor.

ArthurMemorialChurch

Arthur Memorial Church

In 1913, the existing Free Church was replaced with the magnificent Arthur Memorial Free Church that stood proudly on the castlehill and served a loyal congregation. In the summer of 2015 after having fallen from use for many years the church named in memory of William Arthur was demolished. Within its foundation stone was found the time capsule of not only the Arthur Memorial Church but also that of original Free Church.

Within the time capsule was found the William Arthur Dux Medal that were presented for many years by the Arthur Trust to school children for ‘General Excellence’.

1912_ARTHURMEDAL

Although the Arthur Memorial Church has now gone it is hoped that the restoration of the Arthur family lair in the Auld Kirkyard serves as a memorial to the family’s contibution to the story of New Cumnock.  Hopefully too it would meet with William Arthur’s approval and one of the wishes of his last will and testimony …

“…and of such a sum of money be required annually to keep the burial place of my Father and myself in New Cumnock in such decent order as my Trustees shall think proper.”

 

d7_03_arthurheadstone-and-arthurmemorialsteeple00

Arthur family lair with the cross and steeple of Arthur Memorial Church

Auld Kirkyard Map

mapkirkyard_upper_template_arthur

Acknowledgements

Maps

3 thoughts on “D7: William Arthur

  1. Jon Brindle

    Dear NCH,
    I am researching past residents at a property in Hatfield, Hertfordshire which was built in 1930 and remained as a private residence until 1951 when it was acquired to become a large youth centre for our burgeoning New Town. The last residents appear to be Mrs Elizabeth GM Arthur, the owner, (who died in 1950 aged 90) and two of her spinster daughters. Mrs Elizabeth Arthur was the widow of Hugh Arthur MD who died in 1909 aged about 63. They had four daughters. There is a strong connection to Cumnock with an Arthur family as seen on your website, and Hugh Arthur practised there too. It appears Hugh lived at Fruitfield in Airdrie and / or at Shotts. His widow Elizabeth moved south and resided in London’s Park Lane and later at Nyn Park with its large house and estate.` She later bought a large house with eight acres in c1947 in Hatfield named Breaks – which became the youth centre. Elizabeth appears to have retained an interest in the Nyn Park estate as she died there at Vernon House (presumably a lodge) in 1950. It is clear they were a wealthy family as ‘your’ Arthur’s were.
    I am hoping you may be able to help a little with my research; perhaps to establish Hugh Arthur’s relationship with the Arthur’s of Cumnock. Perhaps a photograph of Hugh exists?
    Thank you for taking the time to read this.

    Reply
    1. flowgently Post author

      Hello Jon, thank you for getting in contact. Yes, Hugh Arthur is a memne of a branch of the same family and lived at Benston farm, New Cumnock. There is more information on the family at Cumnock Connections at the link below. I’m sorry i don’t have a photo of Hugh but I will e-mail you a photo of Benston farm later this evening.
      kind regards,
      Bobby

      https://cumnockconnections.tribalpages.com/tribe/browse?userid=cumnockconnections&view=0&pid=26926&ver=187637

      Reply
      1. Jon Brindle

        Hello Bobby,
        Many thanks for your reply and the family lineage of Hugh Arthur.
        As seen, sadly he lost his first wife just 12 months after their marriage. Any further information will be gratefully received.
        Best regards
        Jon

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