Elmdon Hall

Grave in Kirkton

Hugh ( Sir) Innes ( 1764 -1831)

Katherine Lillingston nee Lindsay

William Wilberforce MP (1759 -1833)

From   To     Landlord                                    Dates living
1678  1700 Kenneth Mackenzie 4th Earl of Seaforth 1661-1700
1700 1716  William Mackenzie 5th Earl of Seaforth wounded at Battle of Glenshiel. Titles and lands attainted. Attainder removed 1736 but titles not restored 1688-1740
1716 1736  Lands under attainder although rent still collected by factor
1736 1761  Kenneth Mackenzie Lord Fortrose ( de jure 6th Earl of Seaforth) 1717-1761
1761 1781  Kenneth Mackenzie cr.1771 Earl of Seaforth raised the 78thknown as Seaforth Highlanders  1744-1781
1781 1783  Col Thomas Humberston Mackenzie  1754-1783
1783 1801  Lt. Gen. Francis Mackenzie cr 1797 Lord Seaforth  1754-1815
1801 1831  Hugh Innes cr Baronet 1819  1764-1831
1831 1854  Isaac Lillingston  1802-1850 ( nephew of William Wilberforce MP) m 1832 Katherine Innes great niece and heiress of Hugh Innes 1811-1875
1854 1886  Alexander Matheson cr Bt 1882 nephew of Sir James Matheson who bought Lewis from the Mackenzie’s in 1844. Built Duncraig Castle 1805-1886
1886 1918  Sir Kenneth Matheson 2nd Bt  1854-1920
1918 1946  Sir Daniel Hamilton  1860-1940
1946           Gifted to National Trust by Lady Hamiltom



Until 1801 Lands held by Mackenzie of Kintail whose battle cry was 'Tulloch Ard' meaning land of hills. The last Lord Seaforth sold the Balmacara Estate to Hugh Innes but the Mackenzie lands still included the Lews and Brahan castle. A different branch held the lands at Applecross.

Hugh ( Sir) Innes ( 1764 -1831)

Hugh Innes was born in 1764 in Parkhouse, Glasgow. His father was a Minister, following his father and gr father into the Church. The family was descended from John Innes of Coxton Tower, Morayshire. His mother was from the Graham family and related to Robert Graham of Gartmore, sometime Rector of Glasgow Uni and MP for Stirlingshire.
Hugh Innes made his fortune from the trade in cotton from the American plantations where his cousins had emigrated in the early part of the 18th century.
Lord Seaforth was reputed to be having money difficulties, said to be because of losses on his Ceylon plantations. In fact Lord S secured the Govrnrship of Barbados in 1800 but his abhorrence of the system forced him to resign im 1808.
Lord Seaforth’s resignation from the Governorship of Barbados is creditable. He procured a law making the murder of slaves a felony. This resulted in his being shunned and insulted by all the planters. .Formerly any abuse of slaves resulting in death was a misdemeanour. The owner could recover damages of twice the slave’s appraised value from the murderer" Sat 2nd April 1808

Hugh Innes bought the Estate in 1801 at the age of 36 from the Commissioners of Lord Seaforth at a low price of about £29000.
He built in Plockton, notably the Church and the buildings on what is now Innes St  following a plan mooted in 1794 but the full plan was never completed,  otherwise we might now have streets named London and Argyle ,but we do still have Innes Street.
In 1807. Kirkton church was also built. The costs of building the Kirkton church. may have been more and the story goes that he tried to charge for pews. People just sat in the aisle.
He built Balmacara House and farm. He planted the hillside with larch as well as conventional trees. Larch was a recently introduced tree and its qualities had made it popular in particular to the Navy for the building of ships. Much of his planting was felled in about 1910 by Sir Kenneth Matheson. In recognition of his services to the countryside he was created a baronet in 1819, Sir Hugh Innes of Lochalsh.  He became MP for the Tain Burghs for 20 yrs. but never married.
For some years his nephew’s widow Agnes Lindsay ( nee Crawford) and her daughter Katherine lived at Balmacara. Balmacara was used by Willam Daniell the artist in 1815  before crossing to Skye at Kyle.

Isaac Lillingston ( 1802-1851)
Isaac Lilllingston paid a visit as a young man while a student at Cambridge on a bible reading trip with fellow students to the Highlands and met 
Katherine Lindsay who was Sir Hugh’s heiress.  On the death of Sir Hugh in 1831, they were married.

By the time of Sir Hugh’s death there were debts to be settled. Isaac wanted to settle at Balmacara but with his father still living, and as eldest son he would be expected to take on the responsibilities of his family estate. His father met an untimely death in 1834 (killed by a falling tree) and Isaac promptly sold the family estate. The proceeds were used to support Balmacara.
Although Isaac was a Lillingston by name – his father,Abraham, had been born a Spooner and changed his name to Lillingston in 1797 on his marriage in order to inherit his wife’s estate in Yorkshire. The Spooner fortune had been made from metal trading in the early to late 18th c enabling them to purchase in 1760 Elmdon Hall, a 10000 acre estate on the edge of Birmingham. 

His wider family were all Spooners, later to give the word Spoonerism to the English language after Dr Archibald Spooner, Warden of New College, Oxford.
Isaac’s younger brother was a clergyman and his uncle was Archdeacon of Coventry. His cousin married Archibald Tait who would become the first Scot to be raised to the primacy of Canterbury and his aunt Barbara had married the MP and emancipator, William Wilberforce in 1797

One of his first acts as landlord was to pay for the enlargement of Plockton kirk. This happened as a result of the enormous popularity of the minister Alexander Macdonald. Extra seating was needed and galleries were added to bring the capacity from 312 to 500. At the time of the Disruption in 1843, Mr Macdonald took most of his followers to the new Free Church
This was a change from 1823 when the government chose Plockton as a site for a new church and manse. The Plockton  inhabitants  were considered to be of low moral and religious standards.
He improved the land and there are records of his support during the famine of 1846. ‘ Mr Lillingston is one of the few Highland proprietors who in the late famine (1845) “ gave his untiring personal services, in addition to his sympathy and his money”
His cousin Lucius Spooner was Controller of Drainage N Scotland about 1850
In 1845 only 4 gardens were cultivated but in 1846 “Mr Lillingston purchased seeds and distributed these so that every patch of gardenable ground in Plockton is filled with excellent crops of carrots, turnips,onions and cabbages etc..”
He had a yacht. ‘Elisabeth’ which he made available to local Ministers for transport and used it to distribute bibles. He had them printed in different languages and would intercept shipping passing through Kyle Rhea  with the question " what language do you speak?" before tossing the appropriately translated biblical tracts aboard.

His wife Katherine  had her first child at the age of 35 in 1846. Her last child was born in 1849. Sadly Isaac L: died in 1850 at the age of 48 leaving his wife of 38 with 3 children. The census of 1851 shows them as being aged 1,3 and 4 yrs.
Following her husband’s death Katherine Lillingston sold the estate which included the ruined Eilan Donan castle to Alexander Matheson* of Ardross in 1854. She continued to live at Balmacara Ho until her death in 1875. After her death the house was let by Sir Kenneth to Lord Blythswood until the 1st World War. Coille Mhor house was built as the Factors house in the 1870’s and was let to various tenants including F G Innes-Lillingston, the only son.
In 1881 Isaac Lillingston’s  daughter Zeller purchased the land known as ‘glaic’ and built Lochalsh House creating the woodland garden attached. This was inherited by Comdr Hugh Lillingston and on his death in 1953 the house and gardens were gifted to the NT.
The gravestone of Isaac Lillingston lies in Kirkton

Alexander Matheson (1805-1886)bought the estate in 1853. Created a baronet in 1882. He was brought up at Attadale which his father was forced to sell. He was a founder in the business partnership  Jardine Matheson and returned to Scotland with a substantial fortune. He was a major proponent of the building a railway to Kyle and lived to see it completed as far as Strome Ferry. He was succeeded by his son ,Kenneth from his second wife Lavinia Stapleton .  When Sir Kenneth died in 1920 the estate was sold and the title passed to the sons of his father’s third marriage to Eleanor Perceval, Alexander 3rd Bt, Roderick 4th Bt and Torquil 5th Bt.

Sir Alexander had Duncraig Castle built in about 1880 as a grander home to Balmacara House. His son sold the Castle and adjoining home farm to the Fletcher family of Rosehaugh, near Avoch in 1916. This and the whole of the remaining Balmacara Estate was purchased by Sir Daniel and Lady Hamilton.(see separate page)