A county and city in Scotland.
(SwStr: t. 636; 1. 204'; b. 29'; dr. 10'; s. 10 k.; a. 2 32
pdr., 2 12-pdr. how.)
Thistle a side wheel steamer, was captured by Fort Jackson 1 June 1864 while running the blockade off the coast of North Carolina; sent to Boston for condemnation, purchased from the prize court 20 July 1864, renamed Dumbarton; and commissioned 13 August 1864, Acting Volunteer Lieutenant H. Brown in command.
Dumbarton's first assignment was to search for raider CSS Tallahassee along the Atlantic coast. She then joined the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron at Beaufort, N.C. and served on the blockade of Wilmington N.C., until 6 December 1864.
After being at Norfolk Navy Yard Dumbarton served as flagship of Rear Admiral W. Radford in the James River, VA., from 17 February to 27 March 1865. She was out of commission at Washington Navy Yard until 11 November 1865 when she was taken to New York Navy Yard and placed in ordinary. She was sold there 15 October 1867.
History of the Gardens
In 1921, Mildred Bliss began to work with landscape gardener Beatrix Jones Farrand (1872–1959) to design the garden at Dumbarton Oaks. The two women worked in close collaboration for almost thirty years to achieve their vision of terraced gardens and vistas, orchards and kitchen gardens, and a vast wilderness of meadows and wooded pathways. They also worked together on the design and choice of garden ornaments—benches, gates, finials, and sculptures.
The transfer of Dumbarton Oaks to Harvard University in 1940 included approximately sixteen acres of land, including the upper, more formal gardens. Twenty-seven acres, including the more naturalistic wilderness, were gifted to the United States government to create Dumbarton Oaks Park. An additional ten acres were sold to build the Danish Embassy.
In 1941, anticipating the inevitable changes that would accompany the garden’s different function, Farrand began to write a Plant Book to define her design intentions and suggest appropriate maintenance practices. Her suggestions for stewardship still prove useful today.
After Beatrix Farrand’s gradual retirement in the 1940s and her death in 1959, other landscape architects worked on changes to the Dumbarton Oaks Garden. These included Ruth Havey (1899–1980), Ralph E. Griswold (1894–1981), and Alden Hopkins (1905–1960). The garden has been maintained under the guidance of superintendents: William Gray from 1922 to 1937, James Bryce from 1937 to 1948, Matthew Kearney from 1948 to 1973, Donald Smith from 1973 to 1992, Philip Page from 1992 to 1996, and Gail Griffin from 1997 to 2018, and Jonathan Kavalier from 2018 to the present.
What Dumbarton family records will you find?
There are 793 census records available for the last name Dumbarton. Like a window into their day-to-day life, Dumbarton census records can tell you where and how your ancestors worked, their level of education, veteran status, and more.
There are 105 immigration records available for the last name Dumbarton. Passenger lists are your ticket to knowing when your ancestors arrived in the USA, and how they made the journey - from the ship name to ports of arrival and departure.
There are 61 military records available for the last name Dumbarton. For the veterans among your Dumbarton ancestors, military collections provide insights into where and when they served, and even physical descriptions.
There are 793 census records available for the last name Dumbarton. Like a window into their day-to-day life, Dumbarton census records can tell you where and how your ancestors worked, their level of education, veteran status, and more.
There are 105 immigration records available for the last name Dumbarton. Passenger lists are your ticket to knowing when your ancestors arrived in the USA, and how they made the journey - from the ship name to ports of arrival and departure.
There are 61 military records available for the last name Dumbarton. For the veterans among your Dumbarton ancestors, military collections provide insights into where and when they served, and even physical descriptions.
At the Mercy of Foreign Invaders – the Rock Subdued
The Britons and the Picts were restless, and never fully submitted to Roman rule. Once the Roman era in Britain came to an end, around 400 AD, Alcluith once again fell into Brittonic hands. Beforehand this location was the seat of a long line of kings of the Strathclyde Britons. These successive generations of Britons always called the location “Dunbritton”, meaning “the Fort of the Britons”.
In about 756 AD, the castle once again became the backdrop for heated action when the King Eadgbert of Northumberland, accompanied by the King Uengust of the Picts, laid siege to Dumbarton Castle, conquered it, and lost it again several days later. The castle once again appears in the historic archives in 782 AD, when it was burnt and pillaged on the 1 st of January, though the accounts don’t mention by whom.
The following decades saw the re-establishment of the Alcluith settlement, and it continued to be the center of the Alclud kingdom. But in 872, a new dark page in its history was written. In that year, a force of Danish and Norwegian Vikings, based in Ireland, laid siege to the castle led by their petty Viking kings Ivar Beinlaus the Crippled (Ímar) and Óláfr the White (Amlaíb). The siege lasted for four months. When the castle’s water supplies finally ran out, the castle fell into Viking hands. The Vikings completely sacked and destroyed it, taking with them a host of captives. After this sacking, Dumbarton Castle isn’t mentioned in the archives again until the 13 th century.
Most of the structures that stand today were added later while the original Iron Age defenses have barely survived. The 14 th century Portcullis Arch (on the left) is the oldest surviving structure on Dumbarton Rock. (Left: Lairich Rig / CC BY-2.0 Right: Tom Parnell / CC BY-SA 4.0 )
The Dumbarton Castle we can see today is almost completely of medieval construction. The original, Iron Age defenses have been archaeologically excavated and documented. The medieval fortifications were simply built, or upgraded, on top of the original fortifications. Furthermore, some of the earliest medieval elements of the castle complex have been destroyed through the ages. The oldest surviving segments are the Portcullis Arch and the guard house. Most other buildings, like the artillery defense emplacements, the governor’s house, prison, and powder magazines, were added later and can be traced to around the 17 th century. Dumbarton Rock, at whose base the castle stands, has two noticeable peaks. These are known as the Beak and the White Tower Crag.
Dumbarton - History
ROMAN INVASON.—When the Romans with their victorious armies entered Caledonia, the land of the Picts, we find their historians, in describing the northern boundaries of their conquests, frequently alluding to this ancient Town, at a very early period, under the name of Alcluith or Alcluyd. The Atticotti, a very powerful and formidable tribe, who dwelt along the northern banks of the river Clyde, were its then possessors. Atticotti is a name importing dwellers along the extremity of the Caledonian woods. The descendants of this people were never entirely suppressed or banished from their hunting grounds by their Roman invaders. Ptolemy, a Roman writer, says that the Gadeni, another tribe of the original inhabitants, dwelt on the southern banks of the Clyde. Pinkerton, in his inquiry into the Historical Antiquities of Scotland, maintains beyond a doubt that the Atticotti tribe were the ancient inhabitants of Dumbartonshire, and he quotes Richard of Cirencester, an ancient historian, who corroborates this. (See book I. chap. 6.) The translation of the passage, from the original Latin of Richard, is as follows:—" The Atticotti tribe still• inhabited somewhat lower down the banks of the Clotto (or Clyde), a nation then and afterwards formidable to the whole of Britain. Here was seen a great lake (Lochlomond), the name of which formerly was Lyncalidor near the mouth of which the town of Aicluith, founded by the Romans, stood a name bestowed upon it a short time previously by the Roman general Theodosius, who had retaken the province occupied by the barbarians. With this no town could be compared, because it had sustained to the last the assaults of the Roman enemy after the other surrounding provinces had been entirely subjugated."
The town of Alcluith was thus situated in the immediate vicinity, and formed the pleasant and delightful western suburb of the extensive Roman wall erected between the Clyde and the Forth. Though a barbarous province, it would seem that at first it nobly refused to submit to the cruel thraldom of a foreign foe, but was at length conquered. It however scorned to become tributary to its enemies, and again revolted from the Roman yoke. Shortly afterwards it was again recovered by the victorious Roman soldiers, led on by their intrepid general Theodosius. It appears, from ancient Roman and other authors, that this "City of Alcluith" (for so it was called) was founded and built by this Roman general.
In the year 367, the Roman Emperor Valentinian the First sent again Theodosius his general to Britain against the Picts and Scots, who not only repelled them, but seized on their lands between the walls, and erected them into a province called after the name of the Emperor Valencia. He strongly fortified its northern and western borders, between the Clyde and the Forth and in the year 368 built Theodosia or Alcluith as a stronghold and frontier town. Hence this place was afterwards considered by Bede and other historians as the grand limit between the Britons and Picts. (See Richard, book I. chap. 7.)
The descendants of the Atticotti tribe long inhabited the northern borders and banks of the Clyde. After many ages of war and numerous conflicts with other tribes, who greatly envied them their attractive country, they were much despoiled yet they still remained in their ancient domains at the decease of Bede, who was a monkish historian, and who died in the year 734. They were still recognised as a distinct and separate people even for some ages after.
The Romans voluntarily abandoned Britain about the year 409 after the Christian era. The Britons, however, about the year 421, requested their assistance against the Picts and Scots. The Roman army arrived and repelled the enemy, and caused the Britons to build a turf wall or rampart on the march between the Clyde and the Forth, as the former wail had been thrown down entirely. Bode gives a very distinct and minute account of this wall (Sec book I. chap. 12), which reaches, he says, "from the vicinity of the city of Alcluith to a place about two miles west of Abercorn, situated on the south bank of the Forth, called Cairn-in." The wall of Antoninus was built of turf upon a stone foundation, and was about four yards or twelve feet thick. The Roman legions employed to erect it were the second, the sixth, and the twentieth, and three legions when complete would amount to thirty-six thousand men— each Roman legion built four miles and six hundred and sixty- six paces of this wall.
The only remains now of this wall intersect the parishes of Kilsyth and New Kilpatrick, and are to be seen at Dunglass on the verge of the Clyde. There is also a bridge of two arches at the village of Duntocher. These ancient relicts are now above 1400 years old. This bridge became very much dilapidated, but was improved and repaired under the direction, and at the expense of, the late Lord Blantyre, who restored the original inscription, which is chiseled on a large stone placed in the building—his Lordship appending an addition to it, commemorative of his laudible taste and zeal for classical antiquities. The inscription is in Latin. The English translation runs thus:-" This bridge was built under the auspices of the Emperor Titus Elius Antoninus Hadrianus Augustus, father of his country, by Quintus Lollius Urbicus, his lieutenant: being almost ruinous, it was restored by Lord Blantyre, in the year of our Lord 1772."
The following description of the ancient Caledonians is given by Dio, a Roman historian at the pe'iod when Severus the Roman Emperor invaded their country in the year 183: it will be found very striking and interesting.
He says—"Of the barbaric Britons there are two great nations, called the Caledoni and the M
eatse for the rest are generally comprehended in these. The Maatte dwell near the great wall which divides the island into two parts the Caledonians inhabit beyond them. They both possess rugged and dry mountains and desert plains full of marshes. They have neither castles nor towns, nor do they cultivate the ground, but live chiefly on their flocks and by their hunting, and the fruits of some trees. They eat no fish, though very plentiful. They live in rude tents, quite naked, and without buskins. Wives they have in common, and breed up all their children in common. Their general form of government is democratic. They are addicted to robbery, fight in cars, and have very small swift horses. Their infantry are remarkably speedy in running, and also remarkable for boldness and firmness in standing to front an enemy. Their armour consists of a shield and a short spear, in the lower end of which is a large brazen apple, whose sound, when it is struck, often terrifies an enemy: they have also daggers. Famine, cold, and all sorts of labour they can bear, for they will even stand in their marshes for many days up to the neck in water, and in the woods will live on the bark and roots of trees. They prepare a certain kind of food on many occasions, of which, taking only a bit the size of a bean, they feel neither hungry nor thirsty for a long period. Such is Britain, and such are the inhabitants of that land which so boldly stood out against the Romans. That it is an island has been shown before. Its length is seven thousand one hundred and thirty-two stadia (eight stadia is about an English mile). Its utmost breadth two thousand three hundred and ten stadia: its least breadth three hundred stadia. Of this island not much less than the half is conquered by Severus, and he, wishing to reduce the whole under his own power, entered into Caledonia. In his march he met with unspeakable difficulties, in cutting down woods, levelling eminences, raising banks across marshes, and building bridges across rivers, lie fought no battles, the enemy never appearing in battle array but they advisedly placed sheep and oxen in the way of our troops, that, while our soldiers attempted to seize them, and by the fraud were drawn into defiles, they might be the more easily cut off. The lakes likewise were destructive to our men, in dividing them, so that they fell into ambuscades and while they could not be brought off, were slain by our own army, that they might not fall into the hands of the enemy. Owing to these causes, there died no less than fifty thousand of our troops. Severus, however, did not desist till be had reached the extreme part of the island, when he diligently remarked the diversity of the solar course, and the length of the day and night in summer and winter. At last, after having been carried through most of the hostile land, (for because of his weakness he was generally borne in an open litter,) he returned to the friendly parts of the island the Northern barbaric Britons being forced to conclude a kind of alliance, on condition that they should yield up to them a small part of their country."
Dio then relates that Severus, in a conference with the Caledonians, had almost been slain by his son Antoninus Caracalla. He then adds—" After this the fierce Britons again revolted upon which Severus, assembling his whole army, ordered them to invade the country and to give no quarter: repeating these exterminating lines of poetry—
"Let none escape your hands and cruel slaughter
Not even the babe yet guiltless in the womb."
Herodian, another historian, adds—" In the first place, Severus took care to cover the marsh securely with bridges, 80 that his soldiers might stand and fight on solid ground— for many places in Britain are rendered swampy by the frequent inundations of the ocean and through these marshes the barbarians themselves often swim or wade, sunk to their bellies in mud, and frequently naked, regardless of the slime— for they are ignorant of the use of clothes. They encircle their belly and neck with iron, thinking this an ornament and a proof of riches, in the same manner as gold is done with other barbarians. Besides, they mark their bodies with various pictures, and the forms of a variety of animals, on which account they do not clothe themselves, least they should cover the paintings of their bodies but they are a most warlike people, and rejoice in slaughter. Their arms consist of a narrow shield and lance, with a sword banging by their naked bodies. They are almost entirely unacquainted with the use of a coat of mail or a helmet, thinking these impediments in passing. through their marshes, which are generally covered with vapours, and dark with exhalations."
Solinus, another Roman historian, (chap. 25,) says—."The Caledonians and Britons are savage and warlike. After battle, the victors stain their faces with the blood of their slaughtered enemies. If a woman be delivered of a man-child, his very first food is placed upon the sword of her husband, and gently put into its little mouth with the point of the weapon, while the affectionate mother earnestly offers up her vows that her son may not meet death but in the battle-field and in arms."
Having given you an authentic description, by Roman authors, of our remote ancestors, in their savage state and their rude warlike appearance, allow me now to add a very short extract as to their gross idolatry and cruel mode of worship.
Sammes, an ancient historian, in his antiquities of Britain, observes—"The natives did homage to the idol Rugyvith, who had seven faces to the idol Porevith, who had five heads and to Porenuth, who had four faces pertaining to his head, and one face to his breast." (Page 454.) This author, in treating of the gods of the ancient Britons, mentions, among other things, that they sacrificed human beings to their idols. "They made," says he, "a statue or image of a man of vast dimensions, whose limbs consisted of twigs woven together after the manner of basket work these they filled with living men, and then set it on fire and consumed them in the flames." (Page 104.)
The Caledonians, Scots, and Picts, appeared to have resembled each other in manners and ferocity, and to have exercised this last quality without scruple on the Roman colonists. These nations often converted their shaggy and matted hair into a species of natural head-dress, which served either for helmet or mask, as was deemed necessary. Their houses were generally constructed of wattles, or in more dangerous times they burrowed under ground in long narrow tortuous excavations, some of which still exist, and the idea of which seems to have been suggested by a rabbit-warren. Even over these wild people, inhabiting a country as savage as themselves, "the sun of Righteousness arose with healing under his wings."
Good men, such as Columba and his followers, on whom the name of "saint" (not used then in a superstitious sense) was justly, bestowed, and to whom life and the pleasures of this world were as nothing, so they could but call perishing sinners to embrace the gospel,—such devoted men nobly undertook, under Divine grace, and happily succeeded, in the perilous task of enlightening these ignorant savages in the sublime truths of Christianity.
We have now laid before our readers a short sketch of what our native land originally was in bygone ages thus preparing their already well-informed minds for the early history of our own favoured spot where our rude Atticotti forefathers ranged the woods and deserts in all the wildness of their uncivilised habits.
How ought we now to hail with sincere gratulation the wonderful and astonishing changes which have taken place in our happy country since the first dawn of civilisation, and especially since the bright sun of Christianity arose and shone upon the British Islands. Let us therefore join in handing round the blessed gospel to other savage and idolatrous nations, as was done to our ancestors soon.after the dawn of the Christian era.
DUMBARTON.—The name of this town appears to have undergone several changes through the lapse of ages. It seems to have been closely conjoined with that of its romantic rock and castle, which stands in the immediate vicinity. Many ancient authors have supposed it to have been the Baiclutha of Ossian, who wrote in the fourth century the fall of which is thus beautifully described by Carthon, its then owner. "I have seen the walls of Balclutha, but they were desolate. The fire had resounded in the halls, and the voice of the people is heard no more. The stream of Clutha was removed from its place by the fall of the walls. The thistle shakes there its lonely head. The fox looks out from the window the rank grass of the walls wave around his head. Desolate is the dwelling of Moina silence is in the house of her fathers. I come, said the great Classamor, in my bounding ship, to Balclutha's walls of towers. The wind had roared behind my sails, and Clutla's streams received my dark-bosomed vessel." (Ossian's poems, vol. i. pp. 78-80.)
The distinguished fortress under whose protection the town has remained for ages secure, seems originally to have given name to it.__Alcluyd or Alcluith Al, in Welsh, signifies Rock. Petracloethe means the Rock of Clyde. It was, from a very remote age, the royal seat or residence of a long succession of ancient kings of the Strathclyde Britons, who formerly reigned either within the walls of the castle or within the precincts of the town. Chalmers, in his Gazetteer, says, " That in very early times there was a church here, which was the ancient seat of the Reguli of the Strathclyde Britons." It is more than probable that this Church was the one supposed to be founded by Columba, and to which immediate reference will be made.
Adomnan, who was elected Abbot of Ions, or Icolumbkill, in the year 679, wrote the Life of Saint Columba, in three books. In the first book of the manuscript volumes—at present in the Advocates' Library, Edinburgh—the fourteenth chapter runs thus: "A prophecy of the holy man (meaning St. Columba) concerning King Roderick, the son of Totail, who reigned at Petracloethe, or the Rock of the Clyde." This king is said to have been a very generous monarch, and was much praised by his cotemporaries. He is designated by some authors as "Rhyd-derech-hael,, the bountiful King of the Britons on the Cluyd."
"The succeeding generations of the original Britons," says Camden, an early writer, "called this town Dunbritton, or the Fort of the Britons." We learn from the venerable historian Bede, that in his time the warlike Britons still remained predominant on the Clyde. (As quoted in Chalmers's Caledonia, vol. iii. p. 856.)
The year 756 is said by iloveden and Camden, who wrote after him, to have been the epoch of the conquest of Alcluith or Dunbritton by Eadgbert, King of Northumberland, and Uengust, King of the Picts, who with their joint forces besieged the castle, and brought it to such desperate extremity that it was rendered to them by composition. The terms of surrender would seem-to be those of tribute.
In 782, Alcluyd was laid in ashes, on the 1st of January, but by whom does not ppear, as history does not record the names of the destructive invaders.
It was besieged again ninety years alter, viz. in the year 872, by the Danes and Norwegians, under Olive and Ivar, their petty kings who, after besetting it four months, at length destroyed it. There was a tradition about this time, that during this period the clouds rained blood for seven. days all over Britain, and that even milk, cheese, and butter, were converted into blood.
This ancient town seems at a very early period to have been the royal residence and seat of the kings of the Strathclyde Britons, and the theatre of their bloody wars and conflicts with other rude tribes and nations. Rhyd-derech-hael, the Bountiful, fought a battle with two of his neighbouring petty princes—Guendolaw and Aedan, both of whom had revolted from their allegiance to his throne. Guendolaw, who fell in this battle, was a warm patron of "Merlin the Wild," who was a native poet of, and who generally lived at, Alcluith, of whom the reader will hear by and bye. Roderick, as was remarked before, was a monarch so generous, that he had the epithet "Hael" appended to his name, which signifies liberal, bountiful and he was so in all his words and actions, for which he was greatly extolled and praised. (See Pinkerton's Antiquities of Scotland.)
In the Life of Gildas, published by Mabilon, a French writer, the author states that Gildas was born at Aleluith in the beginning of the fifth century and that his father was a king of that country, and was succeeded by his elder son Hoel. He supposes the kingdom of the Strathclyde Britons to have included Dumbartonshire, Renfrewshire, and the upper part of Lanarkshire and to have extended over all the Valentia of the Romans—being about eighty miles long and forty broad. Theodosia or Aicluith was generally regarded as the chief town in the province and its strong fortress, naturally impregnable, was seen from afar towering, like the Acropolis of Corinth, on the top of a high rock rising from a level plain. It thus became of course the Capital of the kingdom. The following is a chronological list of the ancient kings who reigned at Alcluith over the Strathclyde Britons, according to the annals of Ulster, as quoted by Pinkerton in his Antiquities of Scotland:-
1. Caunus, King of Aicluith, reigned about A.D. 390.
2. Inwald reigned as King of Strathclyde, at Alcluith, in St. Ninnian's time, or about the year 412.
3. Morti Arthur reigned about the year 460.
4. Constantine reigned about the year 510.
5. Guendolaw reigned about the year 540.
6. Rodericus, Roderick, or Rhyd-derech-hael, reigned in 560. [Jocelyn, a Popish monk, of Furness, in Lancashire, who wrote in 1180, states that "Langueth" was the name of Roderick's queen.]
7. Urien reigned in 575.
8. Hoel, son of Roderick, reigned about 585.
9. Morkin reigned in the year 590.
10. Guiret, King of Aiclyde, died in the year 660.
11. Donal, son of Owen, King of Aicluith, died in the year 693.
12. Bile, King of the Britons of Strathcluyd, died in the year 724.
13. Artga, King of the Britons of Strathcluyd, was slain by Constantine, second King of the Picts, in 874.
14. Dunwallon, the last King of the Britons of Strathcluyd, in 972, went to Rome, and died there soon after.
I believe that some of my readers did not even imagine till now that our snug little burgh and its environs is regal and consecrated ground, on which a long list of ancient Kings reigned, and where savage warriors fought and fell. Yes, on yonder singular rock many a strange sanguinary scene has been transacted, and if the stones and rock were vocal they could tell many a tragic tale of barbaric cruelty and woe, perpetrated in days of darkness long since past, as well as in the more refined period of a later age. But, without moralising further at present, we now proceed to enumerate a list of historians to whom our ancient town and its suburbs has given birth.
The following ancient Writers and Historians are said to have had their birth-place at Alcluith or in its immediate vicinity :-
1st. Saint Patrick was born at Nemthur, near Aicluith or Dunbritton. (Nemthur is the Roman name of Old Kilpatrick, a village on the north banks of the Clyde, near the termination of the old Roman wall.) From his own name Patricius, be appears to have been originally of Roman extraction. He was born about the year 400, when the Roman army possessed Valentia. Some historians, however, have strenuously maintained that he was born in the city of Alcluith. (See Aikman's History of Scotland, vol. I. p. 220—note.)
2d. Gildas Albanius, or the British Gildas, was born at Aicluith about the year 426. His father Caunus was king of that country, who was also father to Anuerin. This Gildas was a pious monk and historian.
3d. Anuerin, brother of the last named, was a poet. His poems were translated and published about the end of the seventeenth century.
4th. Merlin Caledonius, or "Merlin the Wild," was a native of Aicluith. This very extraordinary personage flourished in the time of Roderick Hail, the bountiful King of the Britons, and was thus a cotemporary with Kentigern or Saint Mungo, who erected the Cathedral Church of Glasgow, nearly 1300 years ago, and who lived about the year 670. A curious life of Merlin the Wild, in Latin verse, by Geofrey of Monmouth, is still extant. By his singular habits and manners, in his going uncovered both in head and feet, with only a loose piece of coarse cloth or shaggy animal's skin wrapped about his naked body and by living generally in woods and caves, with other singularities, he acquired in those rude ages the reputation of a prophet. The modern inhabitant of Dumbarton, in imagination, may think he sees him slowly pacing the now long inundated streets and lanes of ancient Aicluith, decked in the uncouth habiliments of savage life, uttering religious sentiments and strains of native poetry, which probably struck the hearers with reverence and awe. John Fordun, who wrote his history of Scotland in the year 1420, has a long tale concerning Merlin the Wild. (Book 3, p. 31, 32.) Several pages in the poems of Merlin clearly evince that his birth-place was Aicluith, and that his native country was Caledonia, the land of the Picts. Guendolaw, a king previously mentioned, was a warm patron of Merlin the Wild.
Poetry was much cultivated at an early period by the ancient Scots and Britons. The following is a specimen, and the translation of two stanzas :-
"Virgin with the beautiful face, learn my verses:
You remember them they will deceive your languid hours,
When your lover is far distant, and when the youth of your heart
Will appear in your memory.
"We stood together upon the grees grass when
The damsel with the beauteous locks and sweet countenance,
Embracing me with her arms, wept bitterly
And with linen whiter than snow, she
Wiped the thick falling tears from her radiant eyes."
In the year 575, and during the reign of King Urien, there flourished in his courts these three famous bard., Taliesin, Anuerin, who has been already mentioned, and Lynarch-Ken. Specimens of their rude poetry have been published by the historian Evans. These are a few of our native ancient poets and writers who arose, flourished, and faded on our own soil, and whose names have been thus collected from the rubbish of antiquity, and snatched from the grave of oblivion, to which they were quickly descending.
As a proof that learning was much cultivated at a very early period in Scotland, the abbots, priors, and monks of Iona, and other seminaries, excelled much in literature. Mackinnon and Mackenzie, two of the famed Ionian abbots, have their names inscribed on their tomb-stones on that island. An abbess, whose remains are said to moulder side by side, is designed, "Ann, the daughter of Donald, the son of Charles." The inscription is in Latin and Gaelic, and is still quite legible, although executed with the rude chisel more than a thousand years ago.
The public was greatly interested in the preservation of Ions, as it was at one period the repository of most of the Scottish records. The Ionian library—if we can depend on the testimony of Boethius, who was first principal of Aberdeen college must have been invaluable. From that author we learn that Fergus Second, who assisted Alaric the Goth in the sacking of Rome, brought away a chest full of books, which he presented to the monastery of Ions. A small parcel of them was, in 1525, carried to Aberdeen, and great pains were taken to unfold and decipher them, but through great age very little of them could be read. The register and records of the island, however, were all written on parchment, and it is probable that they, along with more antique and valuable records, were all destroyed by the violent changes which took place at the Reformation, which, in many instances, was a war against history and science, as it was against idolatry and superstition. (See Pennant's Second Tour, page 167.) Genuine religion, science, and literature, were beyond a doubt nourished and cultivated in the fifth, sixth, and seventh centuries, by Saint Columba and his Ionian disciples, even to a considerable extent yet in the succeeding centuries there followed a dark historical night, when scarcely a glimmering star appeared. But even amidst the darkness of the middle ages there was always a faint twilight, like that auspicious gleam which in a summer's night fills up the interval between the setting and the rising sun. In Scotland not a native writer arose from the eighth till nearly the commencement of the thirteenth century. From 843 till 106 is the most obscure period of Scottish history, and is often denominated "the leaden age." Thus there was a long dark night previous to the dawn of a clearer day. Indeed, over all Europe, as is well known, the ninth and tenth centuries form the deepest gloom between ancient and modern day. In the eighth century obscure night closes in upon us but, in the twelfth and thirteenth, a new morning arises and shines onward to the bright effulgence of meridian day.
The terrors of war, during even the fifth and sixth centuries, drove the Christian Scots and Britons to seek refuge in the extremities of the island. From this period genuine religion began to decline in the country, and was fast approaching to a complete exit, when two circumstances, concomitant with the labours of Columba, contributed to its revival and establishment. Ethelbert, King of Kent, had married a Christian princess of the house of Clovis: in her marriage stipulations she had secured her right to maintain inviolate her religion. This event was a happy preparative to the mission which Gregory was induced to set on foot, from a circumstance which transpired some time before his elevation to the Pontificate. Walking in the market-place at Rome one day, he observed a number of youths exposed to sale: struck with their fine ruddy appearance, he asked their country being told they were Angles, he replied, "They might with propriety be called angels. It is a pity (added he) that the Prince of Darkness should hold so fair a prey." Inquiring further into their province, he was informed that they came from Dclii (that is, Northumberland): "Deiri! (replied he) that is happy they shall be snatched from God's wrath, and made heirs of mercy." Asking the name of their king, he was informed it was Ella: "Alleluia! (cried he) God's praises shall be sung in that country."
This association of ideas, however fanciful, produced considerable impression upon the mind of Gregory, and he offered himself as a missionary to Britain but the Roman Church at that time opposing his wishes, he declined to insist on the experiment. But it seems that Gregory lost not the impulse for soon after his consecration, he looked out some agents whom he thought fit to carry forward the grand design.
In the year 597, Gregory matured his plan, and sent over forty monks or missionaries, with one at their head named Austin, a man of very singular qualifications. After combating many difficulties and many fears, these holy men arrived in the dominions of Ethelbert, and laid before him the design of their embassy. The prince received them courteously, and appointed them a suitable place of abode in the isle of Thanet. After a little time they were admitted to an audience, and suffered to open more fully the great object of their mission. Austin proceeded to lay before the king the principal doctrines of the Christian faith, and zealously urged the monarch to embrace that glorious dispensation which revealed a kingdom eternal in the heavens. "Your speech and promises," said Ethelbert, "are fair but as they are novel and untried, I cannot yield my assent, and give up the principles so long embraced by my ancestors. You are at liberty, however, to continue here, without fear of molestation and as you have performed so great a journey, entirely, as it seems, for what you believe to be for our advantage, I will that you be furnished with every necessary supply, and permit you to hold forth the faith of your religion to my subjects." Ethelbert accordingly appointed them a mansion in the royal city Dorobernium, now called Canterbury. Thus settled, Austin and his colleagues, attended with the auspices of the queen, proceeded to discharge the great duties of Christian missionaries, and the effect was that many were prevailed on to renounce idolatry and to be baptised into the faith of Christ. Among these converts was the king himself, which acquisition contributed greatly to forward the Christian cause. Thus, after toiling through a long dismal night of superstitious and heathen darkness, and regions of the shadow of death, a beam of gospel day, as the morning spread upon the mountains, revives the fainting spirit. (See Sabines' Church History.)
The Dalriads, a colony of the ancient Scoti, from Ireland, settled in Argyllshire at an early period, and thus became next neighbours to the early Britons in Strathclyde. They latterly formed a mutual alliance, and protected each other for a long period although, in very early ages, their petty kings, with their respective navies, had many a deadly and sanguinary battle on the Firth of Clyde. The ancient Sooti were continually passing and repassing the firth in their rude shaped "shallops, curracha, and crearies," to annoy and molest the courageous Britons on their own shores. The promontory and lands of Argyll, as possessed by this early tribe, was anciently called Dalriada. It is a singular fact, that Jocelyn, a monkish historian, mentioned already, who wrote in the eleventh century, says, "that the city of Glasgow, in the early ages of antiquity, was called Cathures "—probably this was its Roman name-.– and it was then only a small village: it is now supposed to be the largest city of the Empire. During the Roman period, and long after their departure, the original inhabitants, viz. the Atticotti and Dairiad tribes, inhabited the whole country from Lochflne the Lilamonius of Richard, on the west to the eastward, beyond the river Leven, and bounded by the Longcraig and Dumbuck, which were the southern termination of the range of the Grampian Mountains, in the vicinity of the Roman wall. These two races, however, were latterly immerged into, and incorporated with, and, in the course of ages, became undistinguished from, the Picts and Britons.
ACCOUNT OF THE BRITONS.—Their boats were usually made of osiers interwoven and covered with skins of wild beasts, being about five feet long and three broad, as appears from the historians Solinus, Gildas, and Ninius. Their Dress.—Gildas mentions (chap. 15) the Picts and Britons as being partly clothed, or at least generally girt about the middle with a kind of cloth: this was in the fifth century. In the sixth century, when Saint Columba lived, Adomnan his biographer drops no hint whatever of dress. It appears that the Caledonians, like the ancient Germans, went almost naked. Roman writers sometimes mention them as being naked and, indeed, if we saw a savage with only a wild deer's skin thrown loosely over his shoulders, and the rest of his body quite uncovered, we would, like those writers, be inclined to call them naked. The primitive Celtic dress was only a skin loosely thrown over the shoulders, and a piece of coarse rude-made cloth tied round the middle. In the thirteenth century, however, the women among the ancient Scots were rather elegantly dressed. The bishop of Ross says, "that they were clothed with purple and embroidery of the most exquisite workmanship, with bracelets and necklaces on their arms and necks, so as to make a most graceful appearance."
FUNERAL RITES.—The bodies of the common people and of enemies were buried those of chiefs and kings burned, if opportunity allowed. When burned, the ashes were put into earthen urns, as was done among the Greeks and Romans.
AGE OF THE ANCIENT BRITONS.—"It is a very striking circumstance," says an early historian, "that the ancient Britons and Caledonians generally lived to a very great age-140 and 150—and many instances of some of them having lived to 160 years." This may be accounted for, in a great measure, by their having lived chiefly on the produce of the chase, and their drink being the pure unadulterated water of the running brook: in a word, they were real teetotalers.
SAINT COLUMBA.—Columba the apostle, as he has been called, of the Highlands and Western Isles of Scotland, was the founder and first abbot of the famous monastery of Iona. Iona means "the Island of the Waves." It early became the light of the western world, whence savage nations derived the benefits of knowledge and the blessings of the Christian religion: it stands nine miles from Staffa, and is separated from the island of Mull by a small strait. In any other situation the remains of Iona would be consigned to neglect and oblivion but standing as it does the solitary monument of the religion and literature of past ages, its silent and ruined structures are, by the tourist and the traveller, contemplated with profound awe and veneration.
An account of the life of Columba was written in Latin by two of his successors, Cummin and Adomnan. The former wrote about sixty, and the latter about eighty-three years after his death. Their writings are often interspersed with marvellous details of visions and prophecies, to many of which the modern historian ought to pay little or no regard. Dr. Smith, late minister of Campbelton, wrote a history of the life of Columba, about the beginning of this century, from which some of the following short notices are gleaned:—We make these extracts from the life of this singular man, under the firm conviction and deep impression that the "College Bow" is an ancient Gothic vestige of one of Columba's religious and scientific seminaries and under whose benign influence many were erected, in the dark ages of the fifth and sixth centuries, in the west of Scotland, of which the Ionian was the principal and the origin. It is remarked by ancient writers, especially by Jocelyn, (chap. 89,) that Columba erected more than 300 churches, colleges, and monasteries, in Scotland and Ireland. Saint Constantine, one of his disciples, is said, by Fordun the historian, to have presided over the monastery of Govan, upon the Clyde and to have converted the people of Kintyre to the Christian faith, where he nobly suffered martyrdom. The college at Aicluith or Dumbarton is apparently of a very remote age, and most probably was founded by Columba, or some of his religious successors, under the auspices of Brudius the Seventh, a Pictish king, in 842, who, history says, erected the church and college of Lochleven. (See Pinkerton's Antiquities of Scotland.) In the chartularies of Lennox and Paisley our vicinity is expressly called Lochleven. (See charters of Lennox and Paisley.) The church, chapel, and adjoining hospital, which more modern historians refer to as being founded here by the Duchess of Albany and Countess of Lennox in the year 1450, relate to the Old Parish Church and steeple, &c. on the site of which the present new church and steeple were erected in the year 1811. With the authorities above referred to, and from the zealous labours of Columba and his followers to promulgate the pure gospel, and raise seminaries of religion and learning at an early period in Scotland, and from the apparent age of the "College Bow," we draw the unhesitating conclui. that it must have been reared in an early age by him or i some of his monastic Christian brethren of Iona. it is likely that Saint Cairan, who was cotemporary with Columba, superintended the College of Aicluith'as we find the fountain of our public wells, at Levengrove, called Saint Cheryes or Saint Cairan's Well. (See Burgh Records, 1709.) Saint Cairan was also, for a short time, coadjutor with Saint Constantine in presiding over the monastery at Govan.
Bode tells us expressly that Columba arrived at Iona when Brudius, a most powerful king, reigned over the Picts and it was in the ninth year of his reign and that he converted that nation and the Scots to the faith of Christ by his zealous preaching and example. The Ionian monastery and college was a very different society from the later Roman Catholic monkish institutions for although the Ionian brethren had certain rules, and might deem certain religious regulations necessary, yet their grand and primary design was, by communicating instruction, to train up others for the sacred work of the ministry. These societies, which sprung from them, became the foundation seminaries of the Church of Scotland. They lived, after the example of the venerable fathers and early Christian pastors, by the labour of their own hands.
Columba was originally a native of Ireland, descended from the royal family of that kingdom, and nearly allied to the kings of Scotland: he was born in the year 521: he laboured in the cause of the Saviour for many years in his native country, and was the means of diffusing the Gospel far and wide. Ireland had then, for a long time previously, enjoyed the light of the Gospel, while the Isles and northern parts of Scotland were still covered with heathen darkness, superstition, and idolatry. On these dismal regions Columba looked with a pitying eye, and resolved to become the apostle of the savage Western Isles. Accordingly, in the year 563, he set out from Ireland in a wicker boat covered with hides, accompanied by twelve of his followers and friends, and landed on the island of Iona. He was now in the forty-second year of his age, and required all the vigour of body and mind he possessed to encounter the very great difficulties which presented themselves. The barbarous state of the nation—the opposition of the priests and Druids—the situation of the country, wild, woody, mountainous, and infested with wild beasts—the austerity of his own manners, sometimes fasting for whole days, and even watching and praying for whole nights, were all against his philanthropic mission. He often denied himself the comforts and enjoyments of life. Even at his seventy-sixth year, in his various travellings, his bed was often the bare ground, and a stone his pillow. These were all circumstances very unfavourable in appearance to his making many proselytes. Columba was also primate, and superintended all the affairs of the Pictish, Scottish, and Irish churches, with all their dependencies, and was highly reverenced not only by the king of the Picts, but also by all the neighbouring princes, who courted his acquaintance, and liberally assisted him in all his expensive undertakings. Wherever he visited abroad he was received with the highest demonstration of respect and joy. Crowds attended him on the public highways, and to the places where he lodged at night the respective neighbourhoods sent stores of provisions of every kind to entertain him. When at home he was resorted to for aid and advice, as a physician of both soul and body, by vast multitudes of every rank and denomination: even the little Ionian islet, the place of his more perrnanent residence, was considered as peculiarly sacred and holy and to repose in the dust of it became for ages an object of ambition to kings, princes, and potentates. According to Buchanan the historian, forty-eight kings of Scotland, four of Ireland, and eight of Norway, were interred in Iona—in all sixty kings!! This monastery was perhaps the chief seminary of Christians at the time in Europe, and the famed nursery from which not only all the other monasteries, and above three hundred and eight churches which he himself had established, but also many of the neighbouring nations, were supplied with learned divines and able pastors. It must also be observed, that Columba had a very extraordinary share of address,.of personal accomplishments, and colloquial talents, when he so effectually recommended himself wherever he went, and gained such ascendancy over so many princes, as to be revered and patronised by them all, even when they were in a state of barbarism, and were seldom at peace amongst themselves. To his many other talents, accompanied with the most engaging manners and a cheerful countenance, was joined another very essential property in a preacher, a most powerful and commanding voice, which Adomnan says he could raise on occasions so as to resemble peals of thunder, and make it to be heard distinctly a mile's distance when he chanted psalms.
His natural endowments were highly cultivated by the best education which the times could afford and though we have no particular account transmitted to us of his studies, it would seem they were not entirely confined to the profession which he followed, but extended to the general circle of science. Such was his knowledge of physic that his cures were often considered as Ting partially miraculous.
But a still more striking part of Columba's character was his early, uniform, and strong spirit of deep piety. Devoted from his birth to the service of God, and evidently bent on the pursuit of holiness, he seems to have reached the goal before others think of starting in the race. Far from resting in any measure of sanctity acquired in early life, he laboured often to gain still higher and higher degrees of it even to his latest day.
Next to the salvation of souls, the object which most engaged the heart of Columba was charity. Saint Mobith, who had just built a church, brought Saint Cairan, Saint Kenneth, and Saint Columba to see it, and desired each of them to say with what things he would have it filled, if he had the accomplish- meet of his wish. Cairan, who spoke first, said he would wish to have it filled with holy men ardently engaged in celebrating the praises of God. Kenneth said, his wish would be to have it filled with sacred books, which should be read by many teachers, who would instruct multitudes, and stir them up to the service of God. And I, said Columba, would wish to have it filled with silver and gold, as a fund for erecting monasteries, and churches, and colleges, and for relieving the necessities of the poor and needy.
It is a curious fact in ancient Scottish ecclesiastical hitory, though not so generally known as it deserves, that a large body of pastors and people from this island and other mountains of Scotland, like the ancient Waldenses among the Alps and valleys of Piedmont, maintained, at an early period, the true worship of God in its native simplicity, and preached the gospel in its purity for ninny generations, when it was greatly corrupted in other places. A change much to the worse began to take place amongst them about the beginning of the ninth century, when almost all the men of Ions were destroyed or dispersed by the Danish freebooters, and when those misfortunes commenced which afterwards endured for ages. Society was greatly unhinged by war, anarchy, and desolation, and a seminary in such a state could not be expected to stand the shock of such revolutions. Yet some of the good seed seems to have been still preserved and propagated in the country by the ancient Culdees, who sprung from the schools and seminaries of Columba. Let us now turn our attention for a little to the closing scene of Columba's long and useful life.
A few weeks previous to his death, he went out along with his faithful Christian servant Dermit, and entering the barn, where he saw two heaps of corn, he expressed great satisfaction, and thanked God, whose bounty had thus provided a sufficiency of bread for his dear monks in this year in which he was finally to leave them. "During this year," said Dermit, wiping his eyes, "you have made us all sad by the mention of your death." "Yes, Dermit," said the holy Saint, "but I will now be more explicit with you, on condition that you promise to keep what I tell you a secret till I die." Dermit promised to do so, and the Saint went on. "This day, in the sacred volume, is called 'the Sabbath '—that is 'rest'—and it will be indeed a Sabbath of rest to me, for it is to me the last day of this toilsome life—the day on which I am to rest from all my labour and trouble for on this sacred night of the Lord, at the midnight hour, I go the way of my fathers?' Dennit then wept bitterly, and the Saint administered to him all the consolation in his power.After a little time, Dermit being somewhat composed, they left the barn. Columba afterwards ascended a little eminence on the island, immediately above his monastery, where he stood, and lifting both his eyes and hands to heaven, prayed God to bless and prosper it. He then went to evening service in the church, and, after coming home, sat down on his bed, and gave it in charge to Dermit to deliver the following to his disciples as his last words:-" My dying charge to you, my dear children, is, that you all live in peace, and sincerely love one another and if you do this, as becometh saints, the God who comforts and upholds the good will help you and now that I am going to dwell with him, will request that you may both have a sufficient supply of the necessaries of the present transitory life, and a share in that everlasting bliss which he has prepared fQr those who observe his laws."
After this he rested or remained quiet till the bell was rung for prayers, at the hour of midnight, which was the general practice of Christians in very early ages. Hastily rising and going to the church, he arrived there before any other, and kneeled down before the altar to pray. When Dermit, who did not walk or run so quick, approached the church, he perceived it—as did others—all illuminated, and as it were filled with a heavenly glory or angelic light, which, on his entering the door, immediately vanished upon which Dermit cried with a mournful voice—O, my father, where art thou!! My father, where art thou!! and groping, without waiting for lamps, found the Saint lying before the altar in a praying posture. Dermit, attempting to raise him up a little, sat beside him, supporting the Saint's head upon his bosom, till lights came in. When the brethren saw their father dying, they raised all at once a very doleful cry. Upon this the Saint, whose soul had not yet departed, lifted up his eyes and—as Adomnan, his biographer, relates—looked around him with inexpressible cheerfulness and joy of countenance, seeing no doubt the holy angels come to meet his departing spirit. He then attempted, with Dermit's assistance, to raise his right hand to bless the monks, who were then all about him but his voice having failed, he made with his hand alone the motion which he used in pronouncing his usual benediction: after which heimme- diately breathed out his spirit, still retaining some tranquil smiles. By the brightness and the fresh look of his countenance, he had not the least appearance of one who was dead, but only sleeping. After the spirit had departed, and when the morning hymns were ended, the sacred body was carried from the church to the house of the brethren, amidst the loud singing of psalms and three days and three nights were spent in the sweet praises of God. "The venerable body of our holy and blessed patron," says Adomnan, "was wrapped in fair linen sheets, and put into a coffin prepared for it, and was buried with all due respect, to rise as a luminary in eternal glory on the day of the resurrection. Such was the close of our venerable patron's life, who is now, according to the Scriptures, associated with the patriarchs, prophets, and apostles, and thousands of saints, who are clothed in white robes washed in the blood of the Lamb, and who follow him whithersoever he goeth. Such was the grace vouchsafed to his pure and spotless soul by Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with the Father and Holy Spirit, be honour and power, praise and glory, and eternal dominion, for ever and ever."
Thus, on the 9th of June, 597, and in the seventy-seventh year of his age, died Columba, the Christian Apostle of Iona a man whose extraordinary piety and usefulness,—accompanied with a perpetual serenity of mind, cheerfulness of countenance, simplicity of manners, benevolence of heart, and sweetness of disposition,—have deservedly raised him to the first rank of saints and holy men. His life, so zealously devoted to the cause and spread of early Christianity, was very singular and the extent of his usefulness, and the happy results of his labours and exertions, will remain hid till the judgment of the great day unfold them.
Adomnan gives a beautiful and classical description of two ora or dinary visions, which he says had been seen on the night on which Columba died. One of them by a holy man in Ireland, who told to his friends next morning that he had a vision through the previous night, declaring that Columba was dead and the other by a number of fishermen, who had been that night fishing on a loch called Glenfende, from some of whom Adomnan had the relation when he was a boy. The purport of it was—" That on the night and hour on which Columba, the founder of so many churches, had departed, a pillar of fire, which illuminated all the sky with a light brighter than that of the mid-day sun, was seen to arise from Iona, while loud and sweet sounding anthems of innumerable choirs of angels ascending with his soul were distinctly heard, and that when this column reached the heavens the darkness again returned, as if the sun had suddenly set at noonday."
Such lively pictures of the religious opinions of former times will not displease the antiquary, nor appear insignificant to the good and the pious. The cold sceptic may perhaps smile at the credulity of former ages, but credulity is more favourable to the happiness of man and to the interests of society than scepticism. In the history of all ages and nations, we read of some such extraordinary appearances in certain stages of society shall we then refuse all credit to human testimony, or shall we allow that a kind Providence may have adapted itself to the dark state of society, and given such visible and striking proofs of the connection and communication between this world and a world of spirits, as may be properly withheld from more enlightened times, which may need them less, and perhaps less deserve them. Adomnan remarks, that even in his time a heavenly light and manifestation of angels was frequently seen on Iona at Columba's grave.
These latter remarks remind me much of a visit paid to the island of Icolumbkill, or Iona, in the year 1825, by the late Rev. Leigh Richmond, Rector of Turvey, in Bedfordshire, as recorded in his memoirs:—On that occasion he met with upwards of two hundred children, and addressed them and their parents, through the medium of a Gaelic interpreter, on their eternal interests. Before leaving the island, however, he ordered a kind of feast to be prepared for the children on the grassy banks of the sea-shore, for there was no house large enough to contain them on the island. The principal dish at this singular juvenile banquet was the fattest sheep that could be procured on the island, value 68. and two lambs at Is. each and, for lack of eating implements, the children selected fine shells from the sea-shore to supply the deieney of knives and forks. The following beautiful hymn was composed by the reverend gentleman, and sung on the occasion:-
The revolution of ages hurries on imperceptibly, with almost the rapidity of lightning. While our eyes scan over the pages of past history, we are apt to heave an involuntary sigh over the ruins of time, the ravages of death, and the desolations of empires. Where are now the Persian, the Assyrian, and the Roman empires? Where is Tyre, and Nineveh, and Babylon? Where are the ancient cities of Baalbeck, Tadmor in the Desert, and Palmyra ?—supposed to be built by Solomon—the ruins of whose gorgeous buildings appear to have exceeded his famed Temple of Jerusalem. The answer i&-they have all perished in the wreck of ages. The ploughshare of time has erased even their very foundations and no trace of them is now to be found, but some huge pillars and broken columns and capitals strewn along the Palmyrian desert. Such is the history of the empires and cities of our globe. And in a few centuries hence where shall populous London, Empress of the Thames, be found ?—or commercial Glasgow, Queen of the far-famed Clyde? Their names, indeed, may be inscribed on the page of history by the pen of the historian but there will not be found, amongst their present stately buildings, " one stone Left on another that shall not be thrown down." Not only empires and cities are doomed to decay and ruin, to destruction and oblivion, but the fair fabric of this vast universe itself is rapidly hastening to a final end. Yes,
1703 The Maryland Assembly grants Scottish immigrant Ninian Beall a tract of 795 acres for his services “[against] all incursions and disturbances of neighboring Indians.” Beall names the property “Rock of Dumbarton,” after the distinctive geologic feature near Glasgow in his native Scotland.
1717 Ninian Beall dies and the property descends in the family.
1751 The Maryland Legislature charters a new town, named George-Town, that includes part of the original Rock of Dumbarton.
Rock of Dumbarton
1796 Thomas Beall, grandson of Ninian, sells approximately four acres of his inheritance (where Dumbarton House now stands) to Peter Casenave, mayor of Georgetown. After two months, Casenave sells to General Uriah Forrest for 20 percent more.
1797 Forrest sells to Isaac Polack for five times what he paid for it.
1798 Polack sells to Samuel Jackson, a merchant from Philadelphia, for less than half what he paid.
1799 Jackson builds a large “two-story brick house with a passage through the center, four rooms on a floor and good cellars” just before our nation’s capital is moved from Philadelphia to Washington. Jackson mortgages the property.
1804 The United States, having acquired the mortgage, sells the property at public auction. Joseph Nourse purchases the property for $8,581.67 as a home for his family.
1813 Nourse sells the property to Charles Carroll, a cousin of the signer of the Declaration of Independence. Carroll names the house Bellevue, after his former plantation near Hagerstown, Maryland.
1814 On August 24, Charles Carroll, at President James Madison’s request, goes to the president’s house to urge Dolley Madison to leave, as the Americans are retreating from Bladensburg and the British will soon be entering Washington. Dolley, together with Eleanor Jones, wife of the Secretary of the Navy, flees to Carroll’s Bellevue, before going to Virginia to meet Madison.
1815 Carroll vacates Bellevue and over the course of the next 26 years it is occupied by a succession of tenants.
1841 Charles Carroll’s heirs sell the house.
1915 Bellevue is moved about 100 feet to the north. The house had always been located in the middle of today’s Q Street. With the construction of the Dumbarton Bridge connecting Q Street in Washington and Georgetown, however, it was decided that that street should also be made continuous within Georgetown. To avoid demolishing the unfortunately located Bellevue, the house was moved out of the way to its present site.
1928 The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America purchases the property.
1932 The property opens as Dumbarton House, a Federal period historic house museum and headquarters of The National Society, following restoration of its Federal character under the direction of Horace Peaslee, second vice president of the American Institute of Architects, and nationally renowned architectural historian Fiske Kimball.
Restoration of the North Garden Niche
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The Hidden Figures of Dumbarton House: Slavery and Servitude within the Nourse family Household
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Digitizing the NSCDA Archives
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Dumbarton - History
Sailing up the Clyde towards Glasgow there is a vast and imposing sentinel guarding the river at Dumbarton. As a fortress it has a long and proud history, and, in fact, has a longer recorded history than any other in Britain.
The rock was the centre of the Kingdom of the Britons, that stretched along the River Clyde, north into Stirlingshire and south into Ayrshire. Known as Dun Breatann - Fortress of the Britons or 'Alt Clut' (Rock of the Clyde). It was the centre of a flourishing Britonnic culture that spoke Old Welsh, or Cumbric, which is now almost entirely forgotten.
Dumbarton Rock Factsheet
- Dumbarton Rock enters history in the mid 5th century with a letter of complaint from St Patrick to Coroticus, King of the Britons, telling him to stop kidnapping Christians and selling them into slavery.
Olaf and his brother Ivarr laid siege to the formidable rock fortress of Dumbarton. For four months the starving Britons held out, until the true death blow - the fortresss well dried up. At that point the Vikings broke in, plundering the kingdom of its treasures and taking a great host of Britons to Ireland as slaves on a fleet of 200 ships. The taking of Dumbarton was a terrific achievement: Olaf was famed in Icelandic Sagas as the greatest warrior-king in the Western Sea. As was normal in the dark Ages, Olafs luck didnt hold. Within a year he was dead, probably killed at the hands of Constantine I, King of Pictland.
The Kingdom of the Britons
Sailing up the Clyde towards Glasgow there is a vast and imposing sentinel guarding the river at Dumbarton. As a fortress Dumbarton Rock has a long and proud history, and, in fact, has a longer recorded history than any other in Britain.
The Kingdom of the Britons stretched along the River Clyde, north into Stirlingshire and south into Ayrshire. Dumbarton Rock, known as Dun Breatann - 'Fortress of the Britons' or 'Alt Clut' (Rock of the Clyde), was the stronghold of the Strathclyde Britons and a flourishing centre of a Britonnic culture that spoke Old Welsh, or Cumbric - a language now almost entirely forgotten.
Dumbarton Rock enters history in the mid 5th century with a letter of complaint from St Patrick to Coroticus, King of the Britons, telling him to stop kidnapping Christians and selling them into slavery.
A fascinating account of the Britonnic Scots is provided by Scotland's earliest poetry. 'The Gododdin', written by the Welsh bard Aneirin, tells the tale of a disastrous raid by the warband of the Britons of Edinburgh on the Angles, revelling in their deeds and mourning the loss of so many fine warriors.
By the mid 7th century only Dumbarton, of all the Britonnic Kingdoms of Scotland, had survived the Angles' onslaught. This has left us with the image of the Britons as doomed, heroic losers of the Dark Ages - an image depicted by their own poetry and their seemingly hopeless strategic position, trapped between the powerful Picts to the north and the Angles to the south. However, this is a mistaken image. The Britons were perfectly capable of defeating even the mightiest of their opponents.
For most of the 9th century Dumbarton seems to have avoided the worst of the Viking attacks which ravaged Scotland, that is until 866 AD, when Olaf the White, the Norse King of Dublin, brought a raiding army to plunder Scotland.
Olaf was married to Aud the Deep-minded, whose family controlled the Hebrides, and it seems likely that many Hebridean Vikings joined Olaf's army. For three years Olaf's army wreaked havoc, plundering and extorting money from Picts and Britons alike.
In 869 AD the Britons must have breathed a sigh of relief when Olaf returned to Ireland to curb Irish attacks on Viking Dublin. Never the less, Olaf swiftly returned to achieve one of his greatest feats.
Olaf and his brother Ivarr laid siege to the formidable rock fortress of Dumbarton. For four months the starving Britons held out, until the true death blow - the fortress's well dried up. At that point the Vikings broke in, plundering the kingdom of its treasures and taking a 'great host' of Britons to Ireland as slaves on a fleet of 200 ships.
The taking of Dumbarton was a terrific achievement: Olaf was famed in Icelandic Sagas as the "greatest warrior-king in the Western Sea". As was normal in the dark Ages, Olaf's luck didn't hold. Within a year he was dead, probably killed at the hands of Constantine I, King of Pictland.
For the Britons worse was to follow. Their king, Artgal, had escaped Dumbarton's destruction, perhaps fleeing to the seeming safety of Pictland but there he too met his end, slain, it was said, 'on the counsel of Constantine'.
It was the end of the road for the Kingdom of Dumbarton but not for the Britons as a people. A new kingdom, further up the river, 'Strathclyde', would soon emerge.
It stretched along the Clyde valley and from Govan in Glasgow down to Penrith in Cumbria. Its royal centre was at Cadzow, near Hamilton, with Partick, in Glasgow, serving as a royal hunting forest.
In 878 the Britons may have gained revenge on the house of MacAlpin when Eochaid, son of Rhun, and his foster father, Giric, forced the house of MacAlpin from the Kingship of Pictland, however, in 889 they returned and expelled Giric and Eochaid.
For the Britons this may have been a disaster. The following year, Welsh sources note, the men of Strathclyde who didn't accept the new order, went into exile and settled in Gwynedd (or Wales). Following this exodus, Strathclyde seems to have become a sub-kingdom of the new Pictish and Gaelic Kingdom of Alba, with its royal line related to the Kings of Alba.
The last king of Strathclyde, Owein the Bald, died fighting for Malcolm II, King of Alba, at the Battle of Carham.
Dumbarton Oaks Conference
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Dumbarton Oaks Conference, (August 21–October 7, 1944), meeting at Dumbarton Oaks, a mansion in Georgetown, Washington, D.C., where representatives of China, the Soviet Union, the United States, and the United Kingdom formulated proposals for a world organization that became the basis for the United Nations.
This conference constituted the first important step taken to carry out paragraph 4 of the Moscow Declaration of 1943, which recognized the need for a postwar international organization to succeed the League of Nations. The Dumbarton Oaks proposals (Proposals for the Establishment of a General International Organization) did not furnish a complete blueprint for the United Nations. They failed to provide an agreed arrangement on such crucial questions as the voting system of the proposed Security Council and the membership provisions for the constituent republics of the Soviet Union. These issues were resolved at the Yalta Conference in February 1945, which also resulted in the proposal of a trusteeship system under the new agency to take the place of the League of Nations mandate system (see Trusteeship Council). The proposals, as thus supplemented, formed the basis of negotiations at the San Francisco Conference, out of which came the Charter of the United Nations in 1945.
The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Brian Duignan, Senior Editor.