Walter & John Kerr Clark


2016 crossbasket castle wm

2016 Crossbasket Castle

Walter Clark of Crossbasket (guardian)

Walter, born in 1839 in Java and was also a merchant of Glasgow. He wasn’t a true owner of Crossbasket. He was the guardian, a trustee member until the estate of deceased James Clark could be sorted and absent John Kerr Clark was in a position to sign for it. This proved quite difficult as John Kerr Clark, rightful inheritor of Crossbasket was then working as a sheep farmer in Australia. Walter was however guardian of his brothers estate for just over 4 months until John returned and it is known that Walter continued to live at Crossbasket Castle until moving away in 1881.

John Kerr Clark of Crossbasket

John Kerr Clark was the next owner of Crossbasket, son of the late James Clark. Born in 1837, his mother Margaret Kerr had died in childbirth, giving birth to him. His middle name honoured his mother’s maiden name. Although also a merchant, John Kerr Clark was much more of a free spirit than his other family members. His desire to travel and appetite for adventure, away from Scotland drove him to seeking business opportunities abroad. Australia was his preference and whilst there in 1876, at the age of 39, he learned news of his father’s death at Crossbasket, back in Scotland.

1877 – On 11th January 1877 the estate of the deceased James Clark of Crossbasket passed temporarily to the trustees of the estate (just until sufficient time was given to ascertain the extent of the lands and properties.) By 14th May that same year, the inventory had been compiled and James’s son, John Kerr Clark became the intended sole inheritor of his father’s estate.

John Kerr Clark however in 1877 was still living in Melville, Maitland, New South Wales, Australia, a town to the North of Sydney and had to make the voyage back to Scotland to attend to his inherited affairs.

Just 2 days after the inventory was finalised, on 16th May, the documents had been signed and John officially took ownership. However, there was a problem. John Kerr Clark was settled in Australia. He had a life there. Friends, colleagues, love and business interests of his own. Whilst he would have appreciated the sentiment in inheriting a property like Crossbasket, it had not been his home at any time, going out and making his way in the world when his father had bought Crossbasket in 1855 with his step mother.

So, that year in early October , he set off back on the return voyage to Melville, Australia, with Crossbasket in the hands again of his brother Walter acting again, merely as a guardian of his Scottish interests.

Walter did well to manage the estate in the few years he guarded it, keeping it maintained, with the assistance of all the servants who were kept on beyond James Clark’s death.

Remaining Ownership of John Kerr Clark

The description of John Kerr Clark’s inherited land is a little confusing as it overlaps into different Parishes. I quote, “The estate of Crossbasket, in Parishes of Cambuslang, East Kilbride and Blantyre, with the Mill, Mill lands and thereof on the North side of the Highway from Hamilton to Ayr and piece of ground at the Bridgemill of Crossbasket, being part of the Turnpike Road and on the west by the Leeburn and Road through it to Letterick by the Flag Bridge, with the Corn, and Lint Mills and Water gangs & c thereto belonging in Parish of Kilbride, and 9 Acres, 3 roods 15 falls , part of the Farm of Letterick, bounded on the east by a water run and the Toll Road to Kilbride, in Parish of Cambuslang.” This 1877 description would confirm the mills and their associated buildings adjacent to Crossbasket were still in use at this time, but by the 1898 map, they were shown as ruined or removed.

1879 – John Kerr Clark’s brother James Buchanan Clark, who had travelled to Java and worked for MacLame, Watson and Co, died at Dover, aged 30. At the end of this year, John Kerr Clark returned to Scotland, perhaps for Christmas and to attend to legalities on his estate.

1881 – On Friday 25th February 1881 John Kerr Clark attended a grand ball with 800 other distinguished gentry. At the St Andrews Halls, the Queen hosted The “Royal Regiment Glasgow Yeomanry Cavalry” Ball.

That summer, John Kerr Clark set off again to Australia. It would seem he could not settle at Crossbasket, making those frequent trips back and forth, perhaps out of necessity.

On Tuesday 1st November that same year, Crossbasket hosted a wedding the likes of which (allegedly) had never been seen before. Alice Susan Clark, the third daughter of the late James Clark married Mr. John McKee Lees, an advocate, Sheriff Substitute of Lanarkshire. The Rev Stewart Wright was the minister.

At the end of 1881, Walter, perhaps lured by stories from his brother, visited Australia. Whilst there on a prolonged holiday, he fell in love.

Selling Crossbasket

1882 – On 26th July at Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, Walter Archibald Clark, youngest son of the late James Clark married Annie Clark, second daughter of the late Walter Clark of Glenara, Victoria. This must have been strange for Annie, who not only wouldn’t have had to change her name, but was also marrying a man with exactly the same first and second names as her own father! It is likely given that John Kerr Clark was in Australia at the time, that he attended too. Walter and Annie moved back to Scotland and lived at Crutherland, East Kilbride, another prominent house of the area and a most beautiful place, even today.

 1884 – On 9th July the requirement for the trustees for deceased James Clark’s transaction expired, the trustees disbanded legally (i.e Walter dropped his status as guardian), in favour fully of John Kerr Clark controlling his own business interests of his own estate. It would appear John Kerr Clark from this time remained in Australia and his interest in Crossbasket declined, although the house was not left vacant, occupied by family members, presumable, his sisters.

1886 – On the 5th January 1886 Walter and Annie Clark travelled the short distance from Crutherland, East Kilbride to have their son, at the family home at Crossbasket.

With the estate trustees now married and living with their partners elsewhere and with John Kerr Clark continuing his business interests elsewhere and abroad, Crossbasket was put up for sale.

1890 – An advert appears in Glasgow Herald 30th April 1890 selling “The Mansion House at Crossbasket”, complete with woodland, vinery , greenhouses and associated buildings.

1891 – An auction took place in Glasgow on 7th January 1891 for the estate and it sold easily first time, perhaps an indication of how well the Clark’s had maintained the Castle and the grounds.

The servants who had been living in the Castle were made unemployed either in 1891 or in the years leading up to it. We know this to be the case, as the 1891 census lists different servants entirely from the names in the aforementioned 1881 record.

On 19th, 20th and 21st February 1891, a public auction took place at Crossbasket House to sell off its Victorian furniture. This included a full sized billiard table, beautiful ornate pier mirrors, a walnut short grand pianoforte by Broadwood, a Rosewood grand piano forte, a walnut 16 stop harmonium, fine cut crystal china, the greenhouse plants, garden tools and garden seats. Also being sold were superior bedroom drapes and furnishings, mowing machines, garden engines and sundries.

Fourteen years later after Crossbasket transferred fully to John Kerr Clark, on 3rd March 1891, he legally through sale, disposed of Crossbasket, perhaps no surprise for such a roaming, well travelled free spirited family.

The new owner was Mr. George Neilson, an Ironmaster from Glasgow. The transaction commenced on 27th February and was concluded by 3rd March, just 4 days later, remarkably quick even by standards in those days, suggesting John Kerr Clark may have been perhaps in a hurry to sell.

By 1891 Blantyre had a reputation for its coal mining activities and was known throughout Lanarkshire as “dirty auld Blantyre”. John may have felt it undesirable to stay there, or perhaps the house had too many family memories? Although unproven, I cant help but wonder if elderly James Clark had questioned how interested his son John was about Crossbasket, perhaps partly due to him living in another country, and I see that as a reason he felt it necessary to set up a holding period with trustees in the first place. The sale that year ended the Clark era completely.

Extract from “History of Crossbasket Castle” by Paul Veverka (c) 2015


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  1. Fascinating history,I’m greatly enjoying the read on Sir Archibald Kerr Clark his life and times,as a distant ..relation based in Sydney,with heritage tracing back to Scottish and English migrants who came to Sydney between 1832-1880.As a point of interest Archibald’s grandfather was a, x5 Premier of New South Wales,and very much progressive leader,nice to read Sir Archibald had similar traits.

    Rodger Henning

  2. There is a lot of family feuding associated with the Clark ownership of Crossbasket. The full story, including John Kerr Clark’s misappropriation of his cousin’s estate, can be read in Ian Clark’s book “The Sons of Duncan” and in a biography of Alister Clark, “Man of Roses”.

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