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POTTED HISTORY No 2: Earlsferry House – Part 2 – The Glovers

eaersferryhousesketch(I am most grateful to Sonia Manning, Craigie Glover’s great granddaughter, for this sketch apparently of a photo of the house she has hanging in her hall in the south of England!)

In Part 1 of this investigation relating to the Duddingston family I opined that the investigation became more into the family who occupied the house that the house itself. And so it developed in the second part. The interest was more in the Glover Family who bought the house in 1887 and various members of the family lived there until the Second World War.

abeercombysAfter the death of Admiral William Duddingston Earlsferry House was not much used by his family. It was let out and the family which was quite young at the time of his death in 1817 lived in Edinburgh in Heriot Row. There is a reference to the Misses Abercrombys having lived in the house but I surmise that this was as tenants rather than owners because it was not until 1864 that the title of the property shows a change. From what I have managed to find it was used, I think, as a sort of hospice by the ladies. [See Earlsferry House Part 1] see also this enigmatic article in a papers of 1845 – I’m sure there is a story there !

However, it was put on the market for sale in a newspaper advertisement of March 1836. It was in fact by public roup (auction) which was the way in which most properties were marketed in these days. It is described in the newspaper as containing:

“…..dining room, drawing room, Library, Seven bedrooms, Kitchen, Servants apartments, Cellarage..…there are detached offices, consisting of two stables (my guess is that this would have been the buildings on the other side of lane.), the garden is stocked with fruit trees, etc. The whole property is surrounded by a high wall.  Earlsferry House is situated in the Vicinity {sic} of Elie to which there is daily access by Railway and coach (note that the railway had not been extended to Kilconquhar by then so it was off the ferry at Burntisland or Largo and then coach) and there is also access by steam boat daily during the summer months and every alternate day during the winter. It affords every facility for sea-bathing the beach being close to the garden wall.”

Perhaps the water was warmer then or the natives were hardier! Again I am guessing but I do not think that the property sold because the Search sheet shows the next owner as being Paterson in 1864. It is significant that there is no reference in the sale advertisement to the garden on the other side of the High Street or the land adjacent on the east. Maybe the Duddingston ladies retained this for themselves which was would tie in with what I said in Part 1 of the story.

It obviously did not sell because in 1856 there was another advertisement this time saying for sale or to let.

The next significant owner of Earlsferry House was James Erskine Paterson, otherwise James Erskine Erskine, who inherited the Linlathen Estate in Angus from a relative but he changed his name to Erskine. The title shows that he acquired it in 1864 and again my guess is that between the Duddingstons moving out and – I think they went to live in Edinburgh after William’s death in 1817 –Paterson buying it, it remained in the Duddingstons’ hands but I very much doubt if they lived there.

I am not sure that James Erskine lived much in the house either – it certainly was not his main domicile since he does not feature in the census returns but in any event he only had the property until November 1887 when it was purchased with the aid of a loan for £3,000 by Thomas Craigie Glover. He had the property until he died in 1904. He had a number of children; Janet born 1859, Nellie otherwise born 1863, Annie Liston born 1865, Thomas 1866, Charles Gordon 1869, Mabel 1873, Marguerite (aka Daisy) 1875, William Gordon 1879 and Alexa Malcolm born 1883 (and who became the Scottish Ladies Golf Champion in 1903 (see “A Careful Driver” article elsewhere on this website).

I have found out that his eldest daughter Janet married David Francis Park, of whom more later. Alexa, or Alexandra, alexa gloverMalcolm I think was born in 1883/4 because she was said to be 19 when she won the Scottish Ladies Golf Championship in 1903. Thomas married Evelyn Hay Saunders in Calcutta in 1893 and is said to be 27 which means that he was born in 1866.  The significance of that is that Thomas Senior who was known as “Craigie” was an engineer and was responsible for many building projects in India especially connected with the railways and the docks in Bombay before he retired. Anne Liston Glover (which incidentally was also the name of his sister who latterly lived with Craigie) married a soldier, McCracken, in 1887 (she was the fourth daughter). Piecing together various strands of information I think he had two other sons Charles Gordon Glover and William Gordon Glover. Nellie (otherwise Ellen Gordon) married John Marshall and Mabel married J.C. Young who seems to have been a military medic in India.

The family also lived in Edinburgh in a palatial mansion in Hope Terrace, Newington (long since demolished and blocks of flats built thereon) after Craigie Glover retired from India although he retained directorships of some Indian companies notably the Bombay Iron & Steel Ltd.

This period of Earlsferry House, judging by the publicity which it obtained, was its halcyon days. It seems that there were many social events held there and not least of which was the wedding in October 1903 of Marguerite Glover to Hulbard Steel.

It was reported in the East of Fife Record Oct 9 1903 thus:

Steel – Glover. At Earlsferry House Elie on the 3rd inst. by the Rev. Alexander Legge of Kilconquhar Parish Church. Hulbard Steel, Rangoon, eldest son of James Steel 33 Kelvinside Gardens, Glasgow to Marguerite fifth daughter of Thomas Glover, CE. Earlsferry House, Elie and Mount Grange Edinburgh.

Part of the celebrations in the Burgh on Saturday evening over the marriage of Mr Steel to Miss Glover took the shape of a bonfire on Chapel Green and a firework display. The bonfire was observed by some persons from the other corner of Largo Bay whose vivid imaginations led them to believe that a ship was on fire round the angle of Kincraig. This supposition was strengthened when rocket after rocket went up in rapid succession. Someone wired from Buckhaven to Methil for the lifeboat which was immediately launched. She proceeded on her “errand of mercy” and in about four hours approached and entered Elie Harbour only to find that the deeds of “derring do” for which they had been called out to attempt, only existed in some penny dreadful fed brains and the ship on fire resolved itself merely into a harmless bonfire in honour of the above mentioned event.

We learn that it was a very wrathy [sic] crew who have to “bout ship” and return to Buckhaven sadder and doubtless wetter men.

And another report was more salubrious thus:

……the bells rang a merry wedding peal, the marriage of Marguerite Glover……to Hulbert Steel…..Miss Glover was given away by her father and formed a strikingly lovely figure in a gown of silver satin duchesse, with cape of old Brussels lace hanging from an embroidered silk lisse yoke mounted on shirred mousseline de soie, deep cuffs of embroidered lisse. Heaps of soft accordion formed the trimming of the inside train…..tuille veil of orange blossoms and white heather while she also carried a magnificent bouquet of orchids, stephanotis, etc. [I am sure you have enough knowledge of fashion to have a mental picture !].….the presents were very costly and numbered about 140. Dejeuner was served after the ceremony. Herr Dambmann’s band* discoursing music and the happy couple left in Mr Glover’s electric carriage on a honeymoon tour.  Earlsferry was illuminated in the evening by a bonfire at Chapel Green and a brilliant display of fireworks (see supra!). Mr Glover is to entertain the townspeople in the town hall today.”

* Henry Dambmann was a very chic orchestra of the time, mostly engaged in Edinburgh and the surround.dambmann

In another report we are told:

The celebrations throughout the Burgh consisted of streamers of flags stretching across the main street. The house had a more ostentatious look. At the entrance an arch of evergreens had been erected, and among these electric lamps were placed at frequent intervals. The front of the house was also hung with flags while from the tower floated the Union Jack and the Stars and Strips (sic) round the tower lamps were suspended the garden and trees had been profusely lighted up by these lamps……

Craigie Glover died in 1904. His obituary in the Aberdeen press stated:

“……Mr.Glover, whose father was sheriff clerk in Leith, was educated at Leith High School……after serving his apprenticeship as a civil engineer he went to America. His next venture was in India, where from the very first fortune seemed to smile upon his efforts. He settled in Bombay and latterly became one of the largest contractors in India. Under his direction some very important contracts including the Bombay docks*, some extensive railways and large water works were executed. He owned a magnificent yacht [which must have been some size to apparently make the journey from India to Elie!] with which he frequently visited this country during his residence in India. He retired about 15 years ago and took up his residence in Edinburgh, subsequently purchasing Earlsferry House where he spent a good deal of his leisure…..he continued to be chairman of the Bengal Iron and Steel Company and he was also a sleeping partner of S and H Morton & co Shipbuilders Leith.”

bombay victoria dock


*Bombay Victoria Dock




He was of sufficient social interest to have details of his will reaching the columns of the newspapers. One interesting aspect of the will related to Earlsferry House. In addition to the House he also owned (indeed may have built) Gordon Villa, gordonhouse2now Gordon House, in Links Place. In his will he provided that his trustees, whom we shall meet in due course, were to hold either Earlsferry House or the property in Edinburgh in trust for any of his daughters, who were unmarried at the time of his death.  Alternatively he offered to any unmarried daughters the right to live in his other house in Elie – Gordon Villa in gordonhouseLinks Place. [This house actually sold in 2013 for £980,000]

His sister Anne Liston Glover was also permitted to stay in the house or houses with his unmarried daughters. Anne died in 1910, but at Craigie’s death only Alexa remained unmarried so she had the choice of where to live. She chose Gordon Villa where, incidentally, she died in 1933. The trustees obviously had to make arrangements in relation to Earlsferry House since Craigie’s wishes in his will were delightfully vague. His trustees were given the right to sell up his property and divide it according to certain shares. In effect, the sons would get the capital but the daughters would only get a life rent/the income but the capital would go to their children. The trustees were given power simply to advance the capital to the daughters, if they saw fit. One must remember that in these days it was unusual and indeed hazardous for women to actually own property since anything they acquired during marriage would become their spouse’s property. Confusing his will may have been, but eminently sensible standing the times.

There were some other bequests that contained an air of mystery. Craigie’s wife had died in 1895 and in his will he left an alexadeathannuity and also the pony and trap to Madam Ada Doree, otherwise Earee, otherwise Ada Thorne. This was in recognition of her having looked after him after his wife had died and indeed one of her daughters was bridesmaid at the wedding in 1903. Madam Ada Doree was an interesting lady. She was an actress specialising in operetta especially Gilbert and Sullivan and she was married to Eric Thorne, a similar thespian.  Her credits were many during the 1870s to 1890s. She was born in Cockermouth in 1850 and died in London in 1916. She was married to Eric Thorne in 1885.ericthorne

Other interesting bequests was a legacy to his servant Kallia Banna. This gentleman is shown in the census of 1911 as residing in some of the accommodation at Earlsferry House.

His Trustees were to be his sons-in-law, David Park (having married Janet and living in Hampstead in London), Col Frederick McCracken (who was serving in Egypt at the time), John Marshall (a Chartered Accountant then working in Calcutta who married Ellen (aka Nellie)) and his sons, Charles and William. The title to the house was kept in the hands of the trustees and it is more than likely various members of the family used the property although latterly it seemed that David Park and Janet occupied the house almost full time when he retired. He died in 1921 and it is stated on his gravestone that he died in Elie, as did his wife ten years or so later.

nelliegloverThe trustees then disponed the property to Mrs Nellie (Ellen) Marshall although by then she was living in London with her husband.  She was a frequent visitor to the house and may well have spent most of the summers there. She features in various newspaper reports, e.g. in 1929 it was reported that..… “A suede Welsh hat in crimson and rose was a distinctive feature in the toilette of Mrs. Marshall, Earlsferry House. Her belted suiting was sand coloured and she carried a lacquer red handbag.” marshallnews






And in 1925 she was advertising for a parlour maid for a period of three months [hence my conclusion that she spent summers there]. I have been able to ascertain that Nellie died in Croydon in December 1939.

One of her relatives told me:

“Every August ‘till the war we had wonderful holidays there [Earlsferry House].  I remember grandad [that would be John Marshall, Craigie’s son in law] visiting the tower.  He had a good collection of clocks.  We used to gather in front of the cuckoo clock.  I remember the wonderful starched sheets embroidered by granny with huge royal blue Ms. Wonderful holidays collecting shells, making sandcastles and having salmon fishcakes in the schoolroom with nanny. When we had our breakfast in the schoolroom we went up normal stairs, the maid appeared through a small door having come up narrow winding stair. There was a ghost which my eldest sister saw. I dashed down the staircase once and managed to get a brass elephant tusk embedded in my leg…..I was so ashamed I forgot the blood streaming down my leg. I still have the scar. We went up from London in The Flying Scotsman. Flying Scotsman monoMa and Pa 1st Class – I thought very claustrophobic.  We travelled 3rd with nannie who always woke us up when going over the Forth Bridge. We did go by sea once – I think it was a cargo ship.  It was terribly rough. Father stood with the captain on the bridge loving every moment. They said everyone was sick except father and the captain. The house was requisitioned during the war by Polish troops.  It suffered badly. [The Marshalls] moved to be near us in England.”

I think Nellie probably gave up Earlsferry House or her visits to it before the Second World War because it seems that it was requisitioned, if that is right word, and Polish Paratroopers were billeted in it. One of my informants told me that, as a young lad (this would have been 30s and 40s), he often went into Earlsferry House – when he should not have done – and enjoyed the opulent if decaying surroundings. Indeed, I myself recall in the mid-50s it was derelict and, its security bypassed, throwing stones at the resident pigeons was de rigueur…..whilst others recalled using air pistols – a somewhat uneven contest – being the juxtaposition of the ability to escape by flying and inability to aim properly,

gloverswynd2After the war the semi-derelict property was sold to Stewart Gowans, a hotelier from Aberfeldy, who presumably had designs on refurbishing and turning it into a hotel. It did not happen and the entire property was sold to a developer. It was eventually demolished in the late 1950s but I am told that to this day much of the stone was dumped along the shore line beside the 11th Tee on the golf course. It is gratifying that the developers of the plot decided to call the lane leading down to the beach Glovers Wynd and hence the houses are officially called Glovers Wynd (but known locally as “Toblerone Row”  because of their distinctive coxcomb effect).

toberlone row1

At least to that extent the Glover name lives on.

One question remains as yet unresolved. In 1944 the then title holders of both the land on which Earlsferry House was built and the ground on the other side of the lane sold off the ground on the west side of the Wynd and two semi-detached houses, Restharrow and Beachend, built on that plot. It is not clear whether that development was carried out by the Marshall family or the land was sold and then developed because the title sheet which I have been shown the disposition by Marshall Senior and his son as trustees for Nellie Glover (by then deceased) to the new purchasers. If they were selling off the plots for development there would more likely have been a disposition of the land alone to the builder or developer.

So that concludes the story of Earlsferry House – sad in a way that such a historic, with the Duddingston connection, and latterly iconic building should have suffered such a fate but in the 1950s and early 1960s there was much less appreciation of the value of restoration and retention of such fine old buildings. It is good that things have changed to some extent. I would like to think that William Duddingston and Thomas Craigie Glover would have much appreciated this tribute to them and their family.

Graham Johnston Nov 2013


2 thoughts on “POTTED HISTORY No 2: Earlsferry House – Part 2 – The Glovers

  1. The reference to Glover’s servant was my great grandfather His name was Kallia Banna and he was Craigie Glover’s butler. He was from Bulsar, now known as Valsad in India. Significantly it was a main rail junction. Glover built many of the rail networks. Kallia appears to have come over with Glover on his retirement.

  2. Hello, I am related to Sonia Glover Manning on her mothers side. do you have any information about her that you could share

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