St John and Montgomerie,

-        their connection with  Jordanhill



Cala Homes have decided to call their new housing developments “St John’s Wood” and “Montgomerie Heights”.    What are the connections with Jordanhill?


St John and Montgomerie are two of the Houses in Jordanhill School and the reasons for their choice was explained in 1939 when the House system was set up.     A short article about this appeared in an early edition of the Jordanhill College School Magazine and it was reprinted in the June 1966 edition.     An edited extract from that article is given below.


The School’s Coat of Arms was designed in 1939, but due to delays caused by the War, the new badge was not approved by the Lord Lyon King of Arms until November 1946.   Prior to 1946 the school badge was simply the initials “JCS” inscribed within a circle.    At that time it was known as Jordanhill College School and  closely connected to the College.     However following the stressful years when the School was forced to sever its ties with the College and was renamed Jordanhill School, it was necessary to apply to the Lord Lyon King of Arms for a new coat of arms which was granted in November 1990.


The badge, or to give it the heraldic title the “ensigns armorial”, has to be formally agreed (proper term “matriculated”) and a large certificate is produced, written in very formalised wording.  See a copy of the 1990 document at the foot of this page  The four quadrants are described in French starting with the top left and working clockwise round the shield.    The artwork on the badge differs slightly between the 1946 and 1990 editions,  particularly of the sheaf in the fourth quadrant and the scroll below.




The badge as approved in 1946.




Extract from Jordanhill College School Magazine, June1966:-


“The problem of an appropriate coat of arms was investigated and Mr. Whitelaw, former Principal Teacher of Art, spent a great deal of time designing a coat of arms which would embody the Maltese Cross of St. John and a charge from each of the coats of arms of the families of Crawford, Smith and Montgomerie.  Mr. Whitelaw’s final design received the approval of the Lord Lyon King of Arms.


The purpose of this article is to explain the “ensigns armorial” and to give a brief account of the connection which St. John, Montgomerie, Crawford and Smith and have with Jordanhill.


1  St John

The very name Jordanhill is of significance. Coupled with the neighbouring Temple and Knightswood, it leads us to believe in some connection between this district and the Knights who adventured to Palestine.. At any rate, there is some evidence, slight though it is, that the land round Jordanhill at one time belonged to the Knights of St. John.


The St John connection is shown in the first quarter by the silver Maltese Cross set on a green background, or, to use the correct terms, “Quarterly, First, Vert, a Maltese Cross Argent”.


2  Montgomerie

About the year 1546, Laurence Crawfurd of Kilbirnie founded a Chaplainry at Drumry, near

Garscadden, and endowed it with the Five Pound lands of Jordanhill.  . In 1562 Captain Thomas Crawfurd, his sixth son, bought the land of Jordanhill from Sir Bartholomew Montgomerie, chaplain of Drumry, and built a keep on the site which was later to be occupied by Jordanhill House.     (That house was subsequently demolished in 1961 and the Crawfurd Theatre now occupies the site.) 


Montgomerie is represented by the fleur de lys in gold on green, or, “Quarterly, Fourth, Vert, a fleur de lys Or.”


3  Crawfurd

Captain Crawfurd, like others of his family, was famous not only in Scotland but throughout

Europe. He fought at the Battle of Pinkie, was taken prisoner, but later ransomed. He crossed to France, and became a member of the Scots Guard of the French King. On his return to Scotland in the train of Queen Mary, he acquired Jordanhill. Within the next few years we find him taking a conspicuous part in the opposition to the Queen. His most famous exploit was the capture, in 1571, by a daring night attack, of the Castle of Dumbarton, which was then considered almost impregnable.


Captain Crawfurd was renowned also in more peaceful spheres. In 1576 he founded Bishop’s Bursary, one of the earliest private benefactions connected with the University of Glasgow. He became Provost of Glasgow in the following year, and about the same time was responsible for the building of the first bridge over the Kelvin at Partick.          


The second quarter embodies a charge from the coat of arms of the Crawfurd family, namely, two crossed swords in silver with hilts of gold on a red ground, or, “Quarterly, Second, Gules, two swords saltireways points upwards, hilted and pommelled Or.”



4  Smith

In 1750 the estate was purchased by a Glasgow merchant, Andrew Houston, whose son, Colonel Houston, built a dwelling which formed a considerable part of the old Mansion House.  At the beginning of the 19th century, Jordanhill passed into the hands of the Smiths, who were

to distinguish themselves in many spheres. James Smith, son of the purchaser of the estate, although a partner in a Glasgow firm of West Indian merchants, preferred to make a name for himself in literature and science. Known as ‘Smith of Jordanhill,’ he was an enthusiastic antiquary, archaeologist, geologist and man of letters. A member of the Royal Northern Yacht Club, he made his yachting serve his studies of the vitrified forts and raised beaches of the Firth of Clyde.


His son Archibald Smith, is probably the most famous man connected with Jordanhill. He was Senior Wrangler and Prizeman at Cambridge, he became a barrister, but made his name by his investigation of the problems of ship magnetism. His researches, which lessened the risks of ocean navigation by enabling seamen to calculate the deviations of the compass caused by the magnetism of iron ships, brought him the thanks of the British Government and of many foreign rulers, one of whom, the Czar of Russia, presented him with a gold compass with its thirty-two points set in diamonds.    On his death in 1872 he was succeeded by his son, James Parker Smith, who became MP for the district and from whom the house and estate were purchased in 1912 to form the Training College.


The Smith connection is shown by a golden sheaf on a red ground “Quarterly, Third, Gules, a garb Or.”


The school motto, “Ad Summa Nitor,” suggested by Mr. John Muir, former Classics Master, is particularly appropriate when we consider the lives and deeds of those whose names distinguish our Houses  -  St. John, patron Saint of Knights, Crawford the soldier, Smith the scientist, and Montgomerie the priest, the upholder of righteousness in troublous times.”


While the names St John, Crawfurd and Smith have strong connections with the area, Montgomerie was merely the chaplain of Drumry at the time when the Church Lands were sold back into private ownership.   Sir Bartholomew Montgomerie had no title to any of the Jordanhill lands so his connection with Jordanhill is very weak.  


The grandiose names of “Montgomerie Heights” and “St John’s Wood” are the product of the marketing department at the housebuilders.    It is ironic that in order to clear land for the new estate named “St John’s Wood” the developer has destroyed an attractive wood which existed on the northern slopes of the College grounds.    





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