Category: Lairds of Hunterston Castle

Biography of the 1st Laird of Hunterston

In papers relating to the Kings Inquisition, a Court of Law held in the King’s presence in 1116 we find mention of Willielmo Venator, William the Hunter, the first Laird, Royal Huntsman to the Kings and Queens of Scotland.  There is a family legend that says the Lady of the first Laird had the honour of serving Queen Matilda as lady-in-waiting.

William the Hunter soon put his expertise to good use in the wild forests and fens of Hunterston, then rich in wildlife, which surrounded the site of the timber fortress.  This became Hunter’s Toun, a village and port on the peninsula where Hunterston has always been.  As recognition of his family’s skills, the title of Praefectus Venatorus Regis – Royal Huntsman, became a hereditary appointment.

 

 

Advertisements

Hunters in Print

Lieutenant-General Sir Aylmer Gould Hunter-Weston, became the 27th Laird of Hunterston following the death of his mother in 1911.

During the campaign to win the Sudan back from Egypt that culinated in the Battle of Omdurman in 1898 and the and the Boer Wars of 1899 to 1902, he served on the staff of Kitchener, while he was divisional officer to Sir John French, commander of the British Expeditionary Force in France from 1914 to 1915.

In charge of the British Army’s VIII Corps, he also played a leading role in the ill-fated Dardanelles Campaign, a bloody exercise in attrition that dragged on throughout most of 1915 to January 1916.

The disastrous campaign involved a brave but futile attempt by British, French, and Dominion forces to seize the Turkish Dardanelles Strait that connected the Aegean with the Sea of Marmara, in the hope it would knock Turkey out of the war.

Troop landings were made on the Gallipoli peninsula in April of 1915, but between December of that year and January of the following year they had to be withdrawn, after more than 250,000 casualties had been sustained.

The debacle forced future Second World War Prime Minister Winston Churchill from his post as First Lord of the Admiralty.

Following Gallipoli, Hunter-Weston later commanded VIII Corp on the Western Front, and after the war was the recipient of many honours, including that of the Ditinguished Service Order.

A Conservative and Unionist Member of Parliament for North Ayrshire and Bute from 1916 until 1935, he was responsible for commissioning the architect Sir Robert Lorimer to restore Hunterston Castle, north west of West Kilbride, on the Ayrshire coast.

Sir Aylmer died in a fall from a turret in his ancestral home in March of 1940.