Continuing a look at the previous owners of Crossbasket. Here is an extract from my book “The History of Crossbasket Castle”.
Robert Clark originally hailed from Inverchapel, Argyllshire. His farm at Inverchapel had been utilised by the Clarks, from father to son, for over 350 years. Laird had followed laird; one generation had replaced another in ownership. You can see from the photo how beautiful and scenic the viewpoint from their farm was.
Robert Clark was born on 10th May 1775 at Kilmun, Argyll. He was the son of Walter and Janet. He quickly grew to be a prominent farmer for those days, and, besides the 30 inclined acres of Inverchapple (Inverchapel), he also held Coylett and Garrachra adjoining. He married Rebecca and together before 1807, had 2 sons Walter and Neil and 3 daughters, Margaret , Janet and Rebecca.
In 1810 tragedy hit the family when at the age of 35, his wife Rebecca died. She was only 32. Robert shortly after married again, this time to Margaret Currie. Between 1813 and 1831, they had 5 children, Archie, James, Margaret, Mary and Duncan. By 1850, Neil, one of the sons had died, leaving in order of elder to younger sons, Walter, Archie, James and Duncan. The next couple of years would shape the fate of the Clark family which ended up being very tragic.
1851 – The population census shows Robert living at Dunoon and Kilmun, Argyll along with his wife Margaret Clark. Their sons Archibald and Duncan and daughters Margaret and Mary were also living with them. By the end of 1851, Duncan had died. James’s surviving sons were now Walter, Archie and James. Little Duncan was only 6 which must have been unbearable.
1852 – Perhaps to escape sadness and grief, at the age of 78, Robert Clark bought Crossbasket on 21st April 1852 at an auction likely as another asset for his surviving family, or to clear the way for a son to have Inverchapel Farm. I found that Inverchapel Farm was (at the time of Robert’s acquisition of Crossbasket), held by his son Archibald.
Robert’s time at Crossbasket started off well and on a happier note. On 29th December that year, Robert Clark’s daughter Margaret, married Robert Barclay the Manager of Catrine Cotton Works, (which by that time was actually a struggling business.) They married at Crossbasket, at the new family home, Rev. Thomas Struthers, coming from Hamilton to wed them. The Castle was decorated throughout in yellow ribbons at the wedding, signifying sunshine, joy, happiness and loyalty.
1853 – This was a year of mixed fortunes for Robert Clark. On 14th February 1853, he had a granddaughter born at Crossbasket. This was the daughter of his son, James Clark, who also resided at Crossbasket at the time with his wife. Sadly though, tragedy was to strike Robert again when son Walter, aged 53 died. Walter had been the eldest son and had been in line one day to inherit his father’s properties.
1854 – Losing his eldest son, in addition to his youngest surely took a toll on Robert’s health. By this year he was 79 years old and combined with the growing tasks of organizing his new estate of Crossbasket, it may have been particularly stressful. Sometime late in this year, Crossbasket passed legally by ownership from old Robert to his son James Clark, skipping Archie who already worked and owned Inverchapel, the family home. Robert Clark had owned Crossbasket for only 3 years.
1855 – Losing two sons in 2 years must have been heartbreaking, but fate again dealt Robert another severe blow when another son, Archie, living over the other farm, also died at age 36. Three sons lost, in four years was enough. Robert Clark died in 1855. By January of this year, it is confirmed that James Clark owned Crossbasket, his name appearing as owner of the property in a local article in the Paisley Herald 13th January for donating carts of coal to the poor, a local action he probably took to signify his arrival as a new dedicated and compassionate land owner.
Pictured is Loch Eck from Robert’s Inverchapel farm in 2014.
(c) “History of Crossbasket Castle” by Paul Veverka