Stow’s association with Dunoon

The Stow family originally owned a large house and estate in Cornhill-on-Tweed, near Berwick-upon-Tweed, called ‘Melkington’. Stow’s grandfather, Fenwick Stow, was bankrupted through a business speculation and he lost the estate in the 1780s. Stow’s father, William, moved to Paisley where he became a merchant and magistrate.

The Stows appear to have regretted the loss of ‘Melkington’ for David Stow owned a house of that name in the West Bay in Dunoon. The house is mentioned in a newspaper article of 23rd September, 1843 (see below) and in the inventory of his will in 1865.  In the Census of 1881 the house was occupied by John and Frances Black and their four sons and daughters.  In addition, Stow’s nephew was called Frederick Melkington Stow.

David Stow was the secretary of the Glasgow Infant School Society and of the Glasgow Educational Society.  James Ewing, who lived at the Castle in Dunoon, was President of the Glasgow Infant School Society, Vice-president of the Glasgow Educational Society and a benefactor of both.  He was also President of the Model School, Green Street, Saltmarket, which was built and maintained by the Society as a ‘Model’ for both training teachers and exemplifying how other schools should be run. Kirkman Finlay, who lived at Castle Toward, was a benefactor of both Societies.

The following is a Newspaper account which describes David Stow at his house in Dunoon. It is not clear which of Stow’s sons, William or John Freebairn, was in the boat, but both, unfortunately died in 1852.

The Scotsman, 23rd September 1843: Melancholy accident at Dunoon

‘We regret to state that a fine young man of the name of Ferguson, a seaman, belonging to Rothesay, and the only son of a widow, was unfortunately drowned on Saturday night, when attempting to land from a yacht at the West Bay of Dunoon. The yacht, which belonged to Ferguson, had been attending the regatta held that day in the Holy Loch. She had on board Mr Stow, son of Mr David Stow of Glasgow, with a Mr Hamilton and Mr Chancellor from Edinburgh. The yacht had been brought up immediately in front of Mr Stow’s residence in the West Bay, and Mr Stow, senior, Mrs Stow, and other friends, were waiting on the beach. There was a partial swell at the time, but nothing to cause any alarm. The gentleman above named had got into a punt and Ferguson was just stepping in, when it was upset, and the four were immersed in the sea. At first, Ferguson, who was an excellent swimmer, exerted himself to support Mr Stow. Afterwards however, he had ceased to give him any aid, and came in contact with Mr Hamilton, who found difficulty in getting disentangled from him. Having managed to do so, Mr Hamilton exerted himself in supporting both Mr Stow and Mr Chancellor, whom he succeeded in enabling to hang on by the punt. Their clutches seem to have caused it again to turn, and led to their being again immersed. By this time, however, Mr Hamilton (who appears to have acted with much courage and self-possession) saw that a boat was pushing from the beach, and as his own strength was failing, he made for the land. As the boat neared him, he called out to the persons in it not to wait him, but to make for the punt. He succeeded in reaching the beach in a very exhausted state, and, at the same time, Messrs Stow and Chancellor were picked up by their friends in the boat, and brought safely ashore. The greetings natural on such an occasion may be readily conceived. Several persons were present who heard the cry repeated, ‘we are all safe,’ and, being satisfied with the assurance of this fact, naturally withheld themselves from intruding on the agitated feelings of those more immediately interested in the scene. But after Mr Stow’s party had withdrawn, it began to be surmised that another man was still in the water. By this time, however, no one was present who could give any information, and some time was lost before it was ascertained that Ferguson had also been thrown out of the punt, and no efforts made to search for him. With the information that has reached us we do not feel authorised to see where the blame of this negligence is imputable, but we know that great regret was felt by persons present, that some more active effort had not been made to save Ferguson’s life. He was, as we have said, an excellent swimmer and, as he had not been able to save himself, it is possible he may have sunk from some stun received in the upset or subsequent struggle in the water, so that even the promptest possible aid might have been unavailing. At an early hour this morning his body had not been found — Glasgow Chronicle of Monday.

There are some interesting details in this account which helps to pinpoint Stow’s house on the West Bay. The ‘Mr Stow’ mentioned was probably William, aged 20, home on holiday from Cambridge where he was studying law. John Stow would be 16 at the time and the younger son, David George, was 15: neither might have been addressed as ‘Mr’, have taken part in a yachting race or had two friends with them addressed as ‘Mr’. The ‘Mr Hamilton’ was probably a member of the Hamilton family, while it is intriguing to note that Marion Catherine Stow (1848 – 1876) Stow’s grand-daughter and heir, married a James Chancellor in 1865. Their son, Wilfred George Chancellor (1876-1835) was Stow’s great grandson.

Other family connections

Stow’s eldest son, William (1823-1852), married Catherine Bannister (1824-1866). They had three children, Marion Catherine Stow, as above, (1848-1876), David William Stow (1850-1880) and Charles George Stow who died in infancy. After William Stow’s early death, Catherine remarried William Burnley (1811-1903). Catherine died in the parish of Dunoon and Kilmun on 23 October 1862 at the age of 42. Her second husband did not die until 7th January 1903, at the age of 92. Why Catherine should die in Dunoon is currently not known, but Stow had many properties in the area and she may have been convalescing.

Educational Connections

Mary Brown, who trained at the Church of Scotland Training College taught at the Female School in Dunoon.

‘Within the last few years also, a female school of industry has been set on foot in Dunoon, with the object of instructing the rising female generation in the necessary and useful departments of knowledge. It owes its commencement and support to an Association of ladies resident in the parish, and it usually resorting to Dunoon in in the summer season. It has been attended with very gratifying success, is well conducted by a committee of ladies annually chosen, and  is very efficiently taught. This seminary promises to be a very great benefit and blessing to the female youth of the village and its neighbourhood.  The salary offered the Female School of Industry, Dunoon, is £30 with house and garden. ‘The school-house and teachers accommodation at Toward have been liberally granted and erected at the sole expense of the late Kirkman Finlay Esq. Salary of the teacher £22.’ 1

Donald McDonald, who trained at the same college between 1857 and 1860, taught at nearby Sandbank.