Mains House
The two storey house (+basement) to the left is the original BalvieHouse
Main coats of arms
The coat of arms was removed from Mains and is now on the wall at Laraich, Aberfoyle
Mains, the seat of Archibald Campbell Douglas, Esq., is situated in the parish of New Kilpatrick and county of Dumbarton, and about eight miles from Glasgow.


This house is not the old mansion of the Douglases of Mains.


The original residence of this family was called Mains, and is about a mile south of that now photographed, and has long been abandoned by them as a dwelling. The old name of the present house was Balvie, and by this name it was known until the late John Campbell Douglas purchased it and changed its name, when he made it the mansion-house of his estate of Mains.


The lands of "Balvey" and "Maynes" were granted, along with a number of others, early in the thirteenth century, by Maldoven, Earl of Lennox, to Maurice Galbraith.


The Galbraiths were a great family in the shires of Stirling and Dumbarton, and in 1296 "Arthur de Galbrait" was one of the principal Barons of the nation who swore fealty to King Edward I. One of their chief residences was at the Castle of Craigmaddie, in this neighbourhood. They ended near the close of the fourteenth century in three heiresses, one of whom, Janet, married Nicol Douglas, and another brought Balvie to the Logans.


The Logans held Balvie for many generations; they are frequently mentioned in contemporary history, and if we agree with the famous Sir George Mackenzie that it is a sign of "an ancient and considerable kindred" to have had one or two criminals in the family, they were a house of great importance, for in 1526 we find "ane respet to Johne Logane of Balvey. Walter Logane his sone and aparande air, Robert Logane, &c., for ye cruel slauchter of John Hamilton of Bardowy, and John Hamilton, his son, committit in Blairskaithe, under silence of nicht be way of murther."


About the beginning of the seventeenth century Balvie was acquired by Humphrey, second son of Sir Alexander Colquhoun of Luss, and towards the close of it it was in the hands of Sanderson of Castle Sanderson in Ireland, with which country the Colquhouns seem at that time to have had some connection.


In 1700 Balvie was sold to Robert Campbell, Writer to the Signet in Edinburgh, and it afterwards formed part of the Dougalston estates, which were purchased in 1767 by John Glassford, one of the most successful and respected merchants of his time. John Glassford was succeeded by his son Henry, and after his death in 1819, Balvie was acquired by James Macnair,  who sold it to John Campbell Douglas, the late proprietor of Mains, and Balvie is now called Mains, as already shown. The lands of Balvie were originally of large extent, but they had been gradually subdivided by sales and otherwise, and at the time of their purchase by the Mains family they were but small.


The Douglases of Mains, who thus acquired Balvie, are a very old family.Photograph of Mains Mains came into their possession, as already shown, by the marriage of Nicol Douglas to Janet, one of the heiresses of the Galbraiths, in September 1373. This Nicol or Nicolas Douglas was the son of Sir John Douglas, who was assassinated in Fergywood before Shrove Tuesday 1350. He was the youngest of six sons. The eldest was Sir James, Lord of Dalkeith; the third was Sir Henry, ancestor of the present house of Morton.  His daughter Margaret married William Elphinston of Blythswood, and was mother of the famous Bishop Elphinston of Ross and afterwards of Aberdeen.


Mathew Douglas, the fifth laird of Mains, succeeded in 1549. He assisted Thomas Crawford of Jordanhill in his daring and successful enterprise against Dumbarton Castle in 1571. An Act of Parliament was passed the same year "anent article proponit be Johnne Cuningham of Drúquhassel, Matho Dowglas of Manys, Captain Thomas Crawford of Jordanhill, and others takeris of the Castell of Dúbartane," whereby they were discharged of liabilities thereby incurred.


Malcolm Douglas, his son, married Janet, daughter of John Cuningham of Drumquhassel, in 1562. Along with his father-in-law, he was accused of being engaged in the Raid of Ruthven and other treasonable conspiracies, and "upon naked and bear suspitioune" they were "apprehendit," and by order of James Stewart, Earl of Arran, who was at that time the favourite of James VI., and whose proceedings were characterised by great violence, were both beheaded at the Cross of Edinburgh in 1585. Melvil, in his Diary, says of him: "The laird of Meanse was a gentleman of notable gifts of body and mynd, and therefor mikle hated and fearit of these wicked men, whose death was als mikle lamented in England as ever I heard Scotsman."


On the attainder of this Malcolm in 1582, the estates were made over to his brother-in-law, Cuthbert Cuningham, Provost of the Church of Dumbarton, and were thus preserved to the family.


Another distinguished member of this house was Robert Douglas, second son of the unfortunate Malcolm. Early in life he was Page of Honour to Henry, Prince of Wales, upon whose death he was appointed one of the Gentlemen of the Bedchamber to King James VI., and continued in the same office to King Charles I. He was afterwards Master of the Household and a member of the Privy Council, and in 1633 he was by patent created Viscount Belhaven, in the Peerage of Scotland. He died without issue, 14th January 1639, in the sixty-sixth year of his age. He was buried in the chapel of Holyrood House, where his monument is still to be seen, and upon which was carved an epitaph giving an account of his "remarkable actions."


About the beginning of last century the families of Douglas of Mains and Campbell of Blythswood became much intermingled. (1)


Mary Campbell, daughter of Colin Campbell, second of Blythswood, was his only child and heiress. She married Colin Campbell, her first cousin. The parents of this Colin Campbell were, John Campbell of Woodside (third son of Colin, first of Blythswood), and Mary Douglas, heiress of Mains : they had another son, James, who succeeded to Mains on the death of his grandfather, John Douglas, in terms of an entail executed by him in 1701, and who thereon changed his name to Douglas.

Taking first the Blythswood branch of the family, Mary Campbell of Blythswood and Colin Campbell, son of Mary Douglas of Mains, had an only son, James, who died in 1767 without issue, and thus came to a close the direct line of Blythswood.


James Douglas of Mains, his cousin, (2) then succeeded to Blythswood as the next heir of entail, and resigned Mains to his brother Colin, the entail prohibiting the estates of Blythswood and Mains being held by the same person. He took the name of Campbell, and married Henrietta, daughter of the third James Dunlop of Garnkirk. He died in 1773, and was succeeded in Blythswood in turn by his two sons, John, who was accidentally killed at Martinique, and Archibald, the well-known M.P. for the Glasgow District of Burghs, who died unmarried in 1838. A third son, James, died a lieutenant in the 55th Regiment at Antigua in 1781 unmarried. (3)

The Campbells of Blythswood having thus again failed, the Douglases of Mains again supplied a successor in the person of Archibald Douglas of Mains, son of the deceased Colin Douglas of Mains. He assumed the name of Campbell, as required by the entail, and, resigning Mains to his brother Colin, took possession of Blythswood. He died in 1868, and was succeeded by his eldest son, Archibald Campbell Campbell, the present proprietor.


Returning now to the Mains branch of the family, James Campbell, second son of John Campbell of Woodside and Mary Douglas of Mains, succeeded his grandfather in Mains, in terms of the entail, and assumed the name of Douglas. He died in 1744. He had a son, John, and a daughter, Margaret, who married in 1758 Archibald, Duke of Douglas.


John Douglas of Mains had issue 1) James, who succeeded to Mains in 1756, and to Blythswood in 1767, as already shown; 2) John, killed at Quebec 1759; 3) Colin; 4) Robert; 5) Campbell, whose son eventually succeeded.


Colin Douglas, the third son, on his brother James succeeding to Blythswood, carried on the Mains family in terms of the entail. On his death in 1801, the estate passed to his brother Robert.


Robert Douglas of Mains had two sons - John, who became laird in 1803, and died without issue, and Colin.


Colin Douglas of Mains had also two sons - Archibald and Colin. He died in 1820, when his estate passed to his eldest son, Archibald.

Archibald Douglas was laird of Mains till 1838, when he came into possession of Blythswood, as already shown. Colin Douglas, his brother, then succeeded to Mains, and, dying unmarried in 1847, the estate passed to the late John Campbell Douglas.


John Campbell Douglas, writer in Glasgow, was a well known man there and in the West of Scotland. He was the son of Campbell Douglas (fifth son of John Douglas of Mains) and Agnes Marshall, his wife, a great beauty. She was a daughter of Robert Marshall, a citizen of Glasgow,  by a daughter of James Dunlop, third of Garnkirk.


John Campbell Douglas, as we have already shown, acquired Balvie, and, changing its name to Mains, and adding very largely to it, made it the mansion-house of the family. He married Helen, daughter of Archibald Bogle of Calderbank, and left, with other issue, (4) the present proprietor, Archibald Campbell Douglas.(5)


Source: The old country houses of the old Glasgow gentry


See also:
Douglas of Mains

Galbraith lands



The later Douglases of Mains settled in Glasgow, and lived and carried on their business in the "Briggate" there. Their residence was a little to the west of that of their relations, the Campbells of Blythswood, who had long been merchants in Glasgow. The Campbells' house was what is now No. 109 Bridgegate, of which a sketch is given in Stuart's "Views of Glasgow."


Towards the end of last century the Douglases had their residence in the newer part of the city, Colin Douglas of Mains living in 1789 on the "east side of Queen Street."


Second cousin once removed (see second paragraph below).


James Douglas or Campbell and Henrietta Dunlop, his wife, had also five daughters, the eldest of whom, Henrietta, married Archibald Swinton of Manderston. Their son is Archibald Campbell Swinton of Kimmerghame, Berwickshire. The other four daughters died unmarried.


The eldest daughter of John Campbell Douglas married Alexander H. Campbell, merchant in London, son of Colin Campbell, of the old firm of John Campbell, Senr., & Co. The second son, Charles, is a merchant in Bombay.


Mr. Douglas married in 1867 Eliza Christian, only daughter of the late Robert Speir of Culdees, and granddaughter of Sir William John Milliken Napier of Napier, Bart.


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