Castle Gogar

Click here to 
Print this page

Biography finder





























Index of first names


This page is a stub.  You can help improve it.

Gogar House (or Castle Gogar) is situated alongside the runway of Edinburgh Airport.

The first Castle Gogar (or Gogar House) was built on the property about 1300 by the Forresters of Corstorphine, and traces of its foundation can apparently be seen in the current tower house. The lands had been given to Clan Seton by Robert the Bruce, then passed to the Halyburtons about 1409.

In 1601 John Couper bought the property, and it was his son, Adam Couper, who built the castle in 1625. While the renowned Martin Coventry describes the castle as "a large 17th-century L-plan" where "the main block and offset wing join only at the corners", the presence of the round tower at the NE corner of the main block makes the castle in effect a "Y-plan". Both the main block and wing have corner bartizans, and the stair tower in the re-entrant angle rises to a balconied flat roof. The basement is vaulted, and the walls pierced by several gun loops.

John Couper's initials, together with those of his wife, and the date 1625 appear on pediments to dormer windows. It is a very interesting, well-preserved laird's house of the period. The walls, of harled rubble, rise to three storeys and an attic, with a watch-chamber at the head of the stair-tower. The original door was at the foot of this tower.

The castle was near a Civil War skirmish between Cromwell's army and the Scot under General David Leslie, but has otherwise been untouched by war.

The castle was apparently in the hands of Clan Couper (See below for other possible owners) until an Edinburgh banker, William Ramsay of Barnton, a director of the Royal Bank of Scotland, bought Gogar House (as it was known then) for £37,000 in 1789. Mrs. Ramsay and her son George went out to look over Gogar House in April 1792, and were “pleased with the grandeur and substantial appearance of the Place”. Later in that year, William observed that “the beauty and value” of Gogar far exceeded his expectations. George, later known for his hunting and coaching exploits, married Miss Jean Hamilton of Wishaw, and between 1793 and 1804, their children were born at Gogar. His daughter Susan married Alexander Gibson-Maitland. The Gibson-Maitland and later Steel-Maitland families owned Castle Gogar for more than 200 years, until in 2002 Lady Brenda Steel-Maitland bequeathed the property to her dear friend and tenant Gordon Stewart. The castle was purchased by Scott and Lesley Seath in 2003, and has been lovingly restored.

 Brenda Steel Maitland died in 2003, she left the castle and estate to Gordon Stewart who looked after her in later life. The castle was in much need of restoration, so it was put up for sale and bought by Scott and Lesley Seath. They set about restoring the castle, and split up the estate to form 5 modern houses and 3 stable conversions in order to pay for the restoration. Apparently, the local council turned down the original plans for old fashioned type houses and wanted properties with a complete contrast to the old castle.

When Castle Gogar was listed for sale, it was priced at £2.9 million. It has five bedrooms, five bathrooms, a two-bedroom wing, outbuildings with a gym and games room, floodlit manège and four paddocks. Yet it still has castle features: a vaulted crypt; tower room; battlements; and turrets with arrow slots.

Family connections

The following Gogar properties have been identified:
Gogar House, Midlothian
Gogar Mount, Midlothian
Over Gogar, Midlothian
Gogar Burn House, Midlothian
Gogar Park, Midlothian
Gogar Green, Midlothian
Gogar Mains, Midlothian
Gogar Bank, Midlothian
Gogar Nursery, Midlothian
...the lands of Gogarmains, in the parish of Corstorphine.
and also
Gogar House, Perth

Identifying which family is associated with which 'Gogar' is, therefore difficult.  Those below all have a connection:

George Halyburton of Gogar, son of Sir Walter Halyburton of Dirleton Castle, b. Abt 1380, d. Bef 5 Oct 1447 and Marjory (Mary) Douglas. She was the daughter of Archibald 'The Grim', 3rd Earl of Douglas.

The barony of Braidwood was transferred to Harie Stewart of Gogar, brother of James Stewart of Bothwellhaugh, who was briefly Earl of Arran during the insanity of the third earl, James Hamilton. 

In the 16th century, the owner was Robert Logan of Restalrig who sold the house and lands to Adam Couper in 1601.

Alexander Erskine of Gogar, (d. 1592), Scottish laird and keeper of James VI of Scotland at Stirling Castle. He held the office of Keeper of Stirling Castle before 1578, until he was ejected by his nephew, the 2nd Earl of Mar. Alexander was a son of John Erskine, 5th Lord Erskine and Lady Margaret Campbell, a daughter of Archibald Campbell, 2nd Earl of Argyll. A contract for the marriage of Hon. Sir Alexander Erskine of Gogar and Margaret Home was signed on 20 March 1563/64.Margaret Home was the daughter of George Home, 4th Lord Home and Mariot Halyburton.

Margaret Douglas, relict of Archibald Skeldie, in Gogar, her first spouse, and relict of Nicol Lowrestoun, in Gogar, her last spouse, par. of Ratho, sher. of Edinburgh 7 Mar. 1600 (See note 1)

The lands of Gogar (Nether) were acquired by Sir John Cowper, Lord Ordinary of the court of Session, in 1601. The house was built in 1625 by John Cowper, Sir John's son.

In 1623 Alexander Douglas granted a bond for 3,000 merks to Archibald Waddel, portioner of Thornydykes, and James Douglas, portioner of Over Gogar, as a result of which they, in course of time, became proprietors of Wakefield. Archibald Waddel, probably a son of the portioner of Thornydykes, and a soldier with the rank of major, conveyed his half in 1669 to Alexander Douglas of Over Gogar, later designed as " of Morton." 1 Barns Papers. The half held by James Douglas, ...

There was a James Douglas of Gogar in 1629, and a William Douglas of Gogar in 1631 who was married to a Margaret Inglis. William and Margaret had a daughter, Anna, born 1631, and Anna had an older brother called Alexander. Alexander married Margaret Douglas, a Lady Bomikellie, who may have come from near the Solway coast in Kirkcudbrightshire. (Douglas, Margaret, Lady Bomikellie, wife of Alexander Douglas of Gogar c1677)

In 1646, there was a William Douglas of Gogar. In the same document (Act for putting the kingdom in a posture of defence) is recorded Sir John Cowper of Gogar.

James Douglas, portioner of Over Gogar, is designed bailie and chamberlain to ane michty lord William, Earl of Mortoun, and he died in the month of October 1635, nominating the above-named William Douglas, his eldest son, his sole executor. William Douglas of Over Gogar had a seat allotted to him in Calder church, in right of the lands of Howden (See note 1), in the years 1646 and 1653. He died previous to 29th January 1669, on which date his testament is recorded.

This second marriage ??? was a clandestine affair and would probably have been disapproved of by the powerful Panmure family (Douglas 1910, 21; Maule 1874, 375). When Henry ?? died in 1667, it is unlikely that his widow could have looked to the Panmures for much help and the acquisition of the Canongate properties shortly afterwards might be seen as her attempt to resettle herself, with her young daughter, in Edinburgh. About ten years later she married Alexander Douglas of Gogar ...

Among those who were killed with the earl of Haddington, at the blowing up of the castle of Dunglas, 30th August 1640, was John Couper of Gogar.

Cumberland Reid, 1746 -1818, owner of Gogar Bank, situated about six miles from Edinburgh on the road to Glasgow from Hermiston

Andrew Stuart (d. 1801), lawyer, was the second son of Archibald Stuart of Torrance in Lanarkshire (d. 1767), seventh son and heir of Alexander Stuart of Torrance. His mother, Elizabeth, was daughter of Sir Andrew Myreton of Gogar, bart.

'A Miss Douglas of Leith' married John Reid of Gogar Bank

1.  1st July 1623 - Isobell Skeldie (who is designed relict of Robert Douglas of Over Howden, now spouse to Robert Thomson),


Sources for this article include:

•  Martin Coventry's Castles of the Clans

Any contributions will be gratefully accepted


Back to top


The content of this website is a collection of materials gathered from a variety of sources, some of it unedited.

The webmaster does not intend to claim authorship, but gives credit to the originators for their work.

As work progresses, some of the content may be re-written and presented in a unique format, to which we would then be able to claim ownership.

Discussion and contributions from those more knowledgeable is welcome.

Contact Us

Last modified: Friday, 17 May 2024