The Mausoleum Mystery

12 Sep

My ancestor, William Cunningham Cunninghame Graham (1775-1845) – better known in the family as “Bad Willie” – married Anna, daughter of the Ven. John Dickson, Archdeacon of Down, in 1798. They had 5 children before she tragically died in 1811, possibly in childbirth, at just 29 years old.

As the family burial ground at Gartmore had become rather full, the grieving widower had a stone mausoleum built, on the lakeside edge of the kirkyard at the Port of Menteith, to house her mortal remains until the sounding of the “Last Trump”.

Port of Menteith (2)

The Cunninghame Graham Mausoleum with Port of Menteith Parish Church

Despite there being six niches, none of the rest of the family has ever been laid to rest there. Even so, Anna Dickson is not alone.

There is a second coffin containing the body of another woman, who, coincidentally, also died aged just 29, but in 1814. This coffin contains the body of one Sarah Eliza Dickson. But just who Sarah Eliza Dickson was and how she was related to Anna is a mystery.

An entry in The Scots Magazine and Edinburgh Literary Miscellany (Vol 76 (2) p 879, which lists deaths in 1814, reads ” – At Gartmore House, Miss Dickson, daughter of the late Rev. Archdeacon Dickson, of Hillsborough.”, which would seem to suggest that they were sisters.  This is highly unlikely as, though Anna did have three sisters (an elder half-sister, Eleanor, an older sister, Jane, and a younger sister, Henrietta, –  of whom, the latter two were married), none of them was named Sarah or Eliza.  If she was a sister, why is she ommitted from the otherwise complete list of Archdeacon John’s eight children?

It is just possible that an unmarried daughter of Anna’s Uncle William (who was Bishop of Connor and Down) died while visiting Gartmore and was laid to rest beside her cousin. However, as the genealogies only give details of the bishop’s three sons but no information – not even a name – for any of the three daughters, such speculation must remain an unsolved puzzle.

One Response to “The Mausoleum Mystery”

  1. Dale Manson December 13, 2016 at 4:15 am #

    See if this link works… it is a page from the Scots Magazine 1814 re the death of Miss Dickson in 1814. It reads “At Gartmore House, Miss Dickson, daughter of the late Reverend Archdeacon Dickson of Hillsborough”. I came across it when I was looking up Ann Dickson and her marriage/life in Gartmore while searching for my own ancestors.

    I don’t believe I am directly related to the Graham’s but my many times g-grandfather was a Peter Gordon who was a writer in the employ of Robert Cunningham Graham and then factor to William Cunningham Graham and then Robert Bontine at Finlaystone? over a space of some 30 years. They lived at Crinigart, which was a house on the Gartmore estate. I’m not sure how he got the job and whether he may have been related in some way. I have a letter that he wrote to Robert Bontine in 1826. In it he refers to his wife, Mary Byres, caring for Robert Bontine’s mother before her death (our Ann from above). I have come to a bit of a dead end trying to find out where Peter or Mary came from, so if you have any knowledge of Gordon or Byres families being related I would be very interested.


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