The Oswalds of Scotstoun


The owners of South Jordanhill



1 Early history of the lands of Scotstoun before the Oswalds.

2        The Oswald Family History




1 Early history of the lands of Scotstoun before the Oswalds


Some parts abstracted from “Old Country Houses of the Old Glasgow Gentry” published by Maclehose in 1878


The Scotstoun estate contained about 1,000 acres and stretched from the River Clyde to Great Western Road. It included not only the districts which we now know as Scotstoun and Whiteinch, but also Claythorn (Whittingehame Drive area) and lands around the former Knightswood Hospital.     In fact by the late 1800’s the estate belonging to the Smiths of Jordanhill was almost surrounded by Oswald lands.     In earlier times the Jordanhill Estate had included parts of Scotstoun and Gartnavel but they had been sold off to the Oswalds.


Scotstoun Estate had, in the distant past,  belonged to the house of Montgomerie but after 200 years they sold it in 1634 to John Hutchison, town clerk of Glasgow (no relation to the George Hutchison who founded Hutchison’s Hospital etc.)  A couple of generations later the estate was sold in 1691 to William Walkinshaw, a Glasgow Merchant.


William Walkinshaw’s eldest son John, who inherited the estate from his father, held Jacobite views and in 1715 he had to flee the country.   As a result, under a recently passed Act, (for encouragement of loyal superiors, vassals, landlords and tenants in Scotland) the ninth Earl of Eglinton  claimed and obtained the estate through a final decree from the Court of Session in 1719.


In 1729 Lord Eglinton conveyed Scotstoun estate to his grandson Alexander the sixth Earl of Galloway.    In 1750 the Earl sold the estate to William Crawfurd, a Glasgow merchant who was the eldest son of Matthew Crawfurd of Balshagray.    There is a footnote in the old document to point out that these Crawfurds (with a “u”)  of Scotstoun and Balshagray were not  related to the Crawfords (with an “o”) of Jordanhill who were Crawfords of Kilbirnie.      There is some confusion about this in Jordanhill since the Crawfurd Theatre at the College (Strathclyde University Campus) and Crawfurd House in Jordanhill School are both spelt with the “u”.   See the history of the Smiths of Jordanhill at  


After the problems os the 1715 period had blown over, John Walkinshaw reappeared from exile and tried to reclaim his former estate, opposed obviously by Matthew Crawfurd.   The matter was referred to arbitration and the estate was conveyed to Matthew’s son William Crawfurd.   The Crawfurd family thus owned both Scotstoun and Balshagray estates.


In 1751 Scotstoun estate was sold to Richard and Alexander Oswald, two brothers and Glasgow merchants.    In 1759 they acquired Balshagray.



2  The Oswald Family History


James Oswald was the son of a well-to-do Burgess of Kirkwall in Orkney, who came over to the mainland in the middle of the seventeenth century and settled in Wick.    He had two sons, James and George who were both ministers.    James was an Episcopal minister and George was a Presbyterian minister.


James (the Episcopalian minister, 1654 –1699) had two sons Richard (1687 – 1766) and Alexander (1694 – 1763) who were rich merchants and shipowners.    The brothers built themselves a grand mansion in the Stockwell area of Glasgow called “Oswald’s Land with great cellars below to store tobacco and wines but it was demolished around 1875 to make way for the new bridge being built for the Union Railway Company.    They bought Scotstoun estate in 1751.   They were bachelors and died at Scotstoun House (which had been built by the above mentioned William Walkinshaw).   The estate passed to George Oswald, their second cousin (the son of the Presbyterian minister).  See later.


Meanwhile, George Oswald, (not the George mentioned in the lines above but the one referred to at the end of the paragraph earlier) who was the Presbyterian minister of Dunnet had eleven children, the eldest son being James. 


This James Oswald (1703-1793) was a minister like his father and succeeded him at the parish of Dunnet.    He was a Doctor of Divinity and was the Moderator of the General Assembly in 1765.   He later moved to Methven in Perthshire and stayed there as minister until he was aged over eighty when he moved to Scotstoun.    He had a number of children, of whom his son George was to inherit Scotstoun Estate from the two bachelor brothers Richard and Alexander as explained earlier.


We now come to “George Oswald of Scotstoun” (1735-1819) who inherited the estate in 1766.   He was a successful Glasgow tobacco merchant and was also a partner in the famous Old Ship Bank.    He was Rector of Glasgow University in 1797   His son James Oswald of Scotstoun (1774-1822) a captain in the Royal Navy inherited Scotstoun and when he died in 1822 (presumably unmarried) it passed to his sister Elizabeth (1767-1864).  


Just to complocate matters, there is another James Oswald (1779 – 1835) who was well known in Glasgow.    This James was the elder son of Alexander Oswald of Shieldhall who was the brother of George Oswald of Scotstoun (see above). This James was MP for Glasgow and inherited the estate of Auchincruive.      According to reference book called “St Mungo’s Bells” published in 1888, Oswald Street in Glasgow was named after the Alexander Oswald of Shieldhall.


Elizabeth was known as “Old Miss Oswald” and was born and died in Scotstoun House. By the age of 90 she had never seen a doctor and she died aged 98.


On Elizabeth’s death, Scotstoun passed to the grandson of her sister Katherine.


Katherine had married Robert Haldane of Airthrie so became Mrs Haldane.    They had one married daughter, Mrs Haldane Gordon who had one son James Gordon Oswald.   (Note how these families incorporated maiden names and inheritance names into their own name).


James Gordon Oswald was the last owner of the estate of farmlands and it was he who started to feu off the estate for housing at the end of the 1800’s.   He died at San Remo, Italy in 1897, but his obituary in the Glasgow Herald concentrated on the history of the family and said very little about the man himself.    I have been unsuccessful in my research in the Mitchell Library to find any worthwhile references to him.   However in the history of Scotstoun Churches there is a reference to the fact that he laid down a condition when granting fueus for Scotstoun which stated that “the trafficking or selling spiritous or fermented liquors is forever prohibited”.


In 1885 the Partick Municipal Authorities negotiated with him to acquire the land for a public park which was subquently named Victoria Park to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Jubilee and it was opened in great style in July 1887 by Sir Andrew McLean , Provost of Partick.


Following his death in 1897, he was succeeded by his son James William Gordon Oswald who cotinued to feu off the estate and his name appears in many title deeds for South Jordanhill.  I have been unable so far to find any information on this latest Oswald, but in the book “The Claythorn Story” published by Claythorn Community Council in 1990, there is a report that in 1910 he built the Anniesland Mansions on the south side of Great Western Road and he died in 1938.


Unlike the Smiths of Jordanhill whose family (and all its branches) was fully recorded in “Burke’s Landed Gentry”, there is no entry for the Oswalds of Scotstoun.     There is however a full entry for the Oswalds of Auchincruive which relates to another branch of the Oswald family mentioned briefly above.


See also web page at




Drafted 11 April 2005, latest revision 27 May.


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