The History of the Lands of Elliston

The History of the Lands of Elliston

In 1540 the lands of ''Castleton, Eliotstoun, Schutirflat, Nethir-Pennell, Hairstontoun, Lavane, Bargane and Lecheland'' were incorporated into the new Barony of Semple, together with other lands in Lanark and Ayr. The new barony was held by William, Lord Sempill and the principal dwelling or messuage was Castle Semple. Most of the lands within the parish of Lochwinnoch were once held by the Semples of Elliston. In 1505 James IV of Scotland visited John Sempill's at Elliston his collegiate church at Castle Semple to which he gave an offering of 14 shillings. The LairdsThe family have a number of recorded variations in their surname, including Sempill, Semphill, Sempil, Sempel and Semple. In about 1220 Robert Sempill, seneschal to the Barony of Renfrew, held 'Elziotstoun' from the high-steward of Scotland and sometime prior to 1309, a Robert Sempill of 'Elziotstoun' is recorded. Sir William Sempill in 1474 held the baronies of Elliston and Castleton, as did John, the first Lord Sempill in 1505. In 1513, John, the first Lord Sempill, was killed at the Battle of Flodden. In 1727 Hugh Sempill, 12th Lord Sempill, sold these lands to Colonel William McDowall of Garthland in whose family the lands remained until 1818, at which point John Harvey, Esquire, of Jamaica purchased the estate. The Sempills of Elliston were Hereditary Sheriffs of Renfrewshire and also Hereditary Baillies of Paisley. The family's arms were Argent, a chevron chequy Gules and Argent between three hunting horns Sable stringed Gules. Marjory BruceAn interesting story is told of how the Sempill's came to hold the 'Lands of Sempill' that circa 1316 involves Marjory Bruce, daughter of Robert the Bruce and her son, Robert II : - "In this shire, at a part called the Knok, on Greiff near Ranfrow, was King Robert, called Blear-eye, cutted out of his mother's womb by Sir John Forrester of Elliestoun (who being hazarded on extremity to use that remedy to preserve the child's life, the Queen having there taken her child ill, being on the fields and dying, the child being quick in her belly) who before that was reputed a simple man - from whence the House of Sempill and Lords thereof have their name, and a part of their estate." The Lands of Knock lie near Gallowhill between Paisley and Renfrew. A memorial cairn now stands on the spot where the heavily pregnant Princes Marjory, wife of Walter Fitz Alan, High Steward of Scotland, is said in some accounts to have fallen from her horse and broken her neck. Elliston CastleElliston Castle or tower was a late medieval tower house with an attached courtyard which was probably abandoned after the Sempills moved to Castle Semple, the new site previously being called Castleton, lying in the barony of that name. In 1735 the old castle was partly demolished. In 1905 the old castle is recorded as still standing, but in exceedingly ruinous condition. Further demolition took place in 1950 due to the dangerous condition of the castle. Elliston Castle measured 42 ft by 33 ft, with end walls around 9 ft thick and side walls around 6 ft thick. Built before the regular use of cannon, gun-ports have been discovered in the walls. The walls were still 20 ft to 30 ft high in 1836, however by 1856 the north and south walls stood only stood at that height. Low courtyard walls of a rectangular shape were present in 1856. The castle's tower was rectangular, built with rough coursed masonry. A vaulted basement existed and in the thickened south-eastern wall a stairway and mural chamber may have existed. The end walls probably had opposing arched windows. Elliston Bridge stands nearby, below the old Elliston Sawmill which was served by a leat with a sluice located at Linnister Farm on the Elliston Burn. Howwood Parish Church was once known as Elliston Chapel.

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Lands held in England

William Peverel was a favourite of William the Conqueror. He was greatly honoured after the Norman Conquest, and received as his reward over a hundred manors in central England from the king. In 1086, the Domesday Book records William as holding the substantial number of 162 manors, forming collectively the Honour of Peverel, in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, including Nottingham Castle. He also built Peveril Castle, Castleton, Derbyshire. William Peverel is amongst the people explicitly recorded in the Domesday Book as having built castles.

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