Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Lews Castle and the Matheson Memorial

Monday 26th May, 2008

While GB met Sue in town and did some shopping I had a wander around the Castle grounds. I find that as I visit places I am repeating the photographs I took last year but some things - like the Castle gargoyles - are irresistible.

Although I have photographed it from a distance on previous occasions, I have never before been right up to the Matheson memorial in the castle grounds.

Sir James Nicolas Sutherland Matheson, 1st Baronet (17 October 1796 – 31 December 1878) born in Shiness, Lairg, Sutherland, Scotland, was the son of a Scottish trader in India. He attended Edinburgh's Royal High School and the University of Edinburgh. He moved to China and joined William Jardine in partnership to form Jardine Matheson. He married Mary Jane Percival on 9 November 1843. Matheson bought the Isle of Lewis in 1844 for a £190,000 and built Lews Castle.

In 1845 he began an improvements programme, including drainage schemes and road construction. He increased the programme during the blight and by 1850 had spent some £329,000 on the island. Between 1851 and 1855 he assisted 1,771 people to emigrate. Matheson became a baronet in 1851. He was Member of Parliament (MP) for Ashburton from 1843 to 1852 and for Ross and Cromarty from 1852 to 1868. He died at the age of 82 in Menton, France. The baronetcy became extinct on his death.

What you don't learn from the Memorial or the standard information about Matheson is that he built up his fortune by trading in Opium. The British were well aware of the destructive nature of opium, but argued that opium sales were necessary because it was the only item which they could sell to the Chinese in payment for tea.

I kept coming across Robins in the grounds - either that or one was following me around!

A sailing boat from the castle grounds.

020 harbour
019 1 sailing boat

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