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Significant Scots
Sir Edward Tennant

Sir Edward P. Tennant, Bart of the Glen and of St. Rollox

THE traveller on pleasure bent or the archaeological pilgrim desiring to puraue his fascinating study, who is privileged to gaze on Stonehenge, would do well to prolong his stay in the district for a day at least, so that amid the soft beauty of the Wiltshire scenery the mystery of the mighty monoliths upon which he has gazed with awe may sink into his soul. The green banks of the Avon lie temptingly at no great distance, and should the traveller turn thither he may dream to his heart’s content of the story of the past, which is bound up in the majestic stone circle he has just left. As he wanders leisurely onwards he will come to the estate of Wilsford, upon which a new mansion has recently been built, but the newness brings no sihock to the feelings of him who dreams of the past, for the proprietor is evidently a man of taste and has built his home in the Tudor style, which harmonises with the architecture which prevails in the district where ancient Sarum stood.

Perchance, the same traveller’s feet may stray northward to the Land of Scott, and there, in the course of his wanderings, he may tind himself in the vale of Quair. Pursuing his way by the banks of the classic stream, he at length reaches one of the fairest spots in the Borderland. Such a combination of mountain, wood, meadow and stream, surrounding that stately pile which is known far and wide as the Glen, is rarely to be found. This splendid specimen of the Scottish Baronial style of architecture and the Tudor mansion aforementioned are the respective homes of Sir Edward P. Tennant, Bart., M.P., who has so recently succeeded his father, Sir Charles Tennant, Bart., an illustrated sketch of whom appeared in the Border Magazine for July, 1896, and whose recent lamented death was referred to at some length in our columns The interesting story of the Tennant family is so well known that we need not in this necessarily short, sketch repeat all the details. The family originally belonged to Ochiltree, in Ayrshire, and played 110 unimportant part in the life stoiy of Hubert Bums. Dr James MeWhir, M.B., Ch.B., writing recently in the "Glasgow Herald,” says: —

John Tennant of Glenconner, the "Guid Auld Glen” of one of Burns’s rhyming epistles, was born at Mains, Bridgend of Doon, Alloway, in 1726. John became tenant of the farm of Glenconner and factor of the Ochiltree estate of the Countess of Glencairn in 1769. In her exalted rank the Countess of Glencairn did not forget the lessons she had learned when a peasant girl. Her efforts to improve the education And morals of the people of Ochiltree were constant and unceasing; and no doubt it was with a view of promoting their* welfare and prosperity that she appointed as her factor honest John Tennant, with whose excellent qualities of heart and mind she would have many opportunities of becoming acquainted when they played together as children on the banks of the Boon. During the years that he lived at Alloway Mr Tennant became intimately acquainted with Burns's father, and the respect in which he was held by that worthy man may be gauged from the fact that he was one of the two outsiders who were called in as witnesses to the future poet's baptismal register. His second son, John, attended Mr Murdoch's school at Ayr in the company of Robert and Gilbert Burns, and used afterwards to remark that he had been more impressed in his boyish days by the discourse of the former than he had ever been by his published verses. . . . After the Tennants removed to Glenconner it is unlikely that they would see much of the Burns family for several years. But when in 1777 William Burns took a lease of the farm of Lochlea, in Tarbolton parish, the old intercourse was resumed. In this venture the evil destiny which shadowed the worthy man became more and more predominant, and after contending strenuously with a high rent and a barren soil, he died in the spring of 1784, leaving his family to fight out a lawsuit about the Conditions of their lease of the farm. On the morning of the funeral, James Tennant was asked by his father to take the pony to Lochlea and help the "puir bodies," who would doubtless be in sore distress. The remains were, as everyone knows, conveyed to Alloway. And the late William Stevenson, draper, in Kilmarnock, used to remark that he had been told by James Tennant that the coffin was slung between two horses, placed tandem, and that one of these animals was the Glenconner pony ‘Tiuffler," which had previously carried its young master to Lochlea. During the Mossgiel period of his life, when his genius attained ite full power and vigour, Burns was a frequent visitor to Glenconner. And, according to a family tradition, he submitted his verses to the consideration of hie old friend before venturing to appeal to the verdict of the public. . . . After Burns entered on hie lease of Ellisland his Ochiltree friends seldom enjoyed his company, but the fact that “Glenconner" accompanied him when he set out to see that farm for the first time, shows what confidence the poet reposed in the farmer's sagacity. The wretched details of Burns' sojourn in Dumfriesshire are too well known to call for any reference, and it must have been with deep regret that hie father's old friend heard that the life, which had been so full of promise, was at its close darkened by excesses and unavailing regrets. As John Tennant lived till 1810, he had the satisfaction of seeing the various members of his family succeed in the battle of life. His eldest brother, James, was for many years occupant of Ochiltree Mill. Another, named William, was trained for the Ministry of the Church of Scotland, and became chaplain to the forces in India. And Charles, the youngest, turning his attention to weaving and bleaching, eventually founded the great chemical works at St Bollox, Glasgow. But in the father one can eaeily eee that foresight and shrewdness which enabled the sons to make their mark in various walks of life. With the exception of genius itself there is nothing more deserving of homage than the power to appreciate genius. In every age men have found it easy to raise monuments to the prophets and seers whom their ancestors neglected. And in these •days when one may be pardoned for thinking that admiration for Burns often resolves itself into ridiculous excess, it is well to remember that credit is due to those who, like the honest farmer of Glenconner, were able to recognise the gleams of inspiration that were afterwards to raise an Ayrshire ploughman to a high place among the immortals.

Sir Edward P. Tennant was born at the Glen in 1859, and he has ever evinced a strong attachment to the beautiful house of his childhood. Educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, he graduated Master of Arts in 1886. In addition to his varied studies he early showed a strong leaning towards Natural History, which resulted, early in the seventies, in his forming a fine collection of the birds of Peeblesshire. While going through his educational course his manly character and genial disposition made him a general favourite among his fellow students. In the years 1883 and 1884 he travelled in Natal and Cape Colony, and in the spring of 1886 he visited the West Indies, where some months were spent in Trinidad upon his father’s estates. The tour extended to Cuba, the United States and Mexico, and, doubtless, one possessing the observant powers of Sir Edward Tennant would lay up rich stores for information during this and similar extended journeys. The winter of 1886 was spent in India in company with Mr Herbert Gladstone, M.P., the families of the late Sir Charles Tennant and the late great Premier having been on the most intimate terms,—Mr Gladstone visited the Glen in 1892. In company with Mr Spencer Lyttelton, Sir Edward visited China and Java in 1889.

Among his various other accomplishments Sir Edward acquired the art of public speaking, and, having made a special study of politics, he essayed to enter Parliament in 1892. He contested the Partick division of Lanarkshire in the Liberal interest, but while his pleasing presence, graceful speech and manners commanded respect wherever he held meetings the strong local influence of hig opponent rendered his candidature unsuccessful. Shortly after this he was appointed Assistant Secretary to Sir George Trevelyan, Secretary for Scotland, and thereby got that insight into Scottish affairs which may yet stand him in good stead when the Scottish members take a more prominent part in the management of purely Scottish interests in or out of the Imperial Parliament. In 1900 he was Liberal candidate for the united counties of Peebles and Selkirk shires, but was defeated by the then sitting member, Sir Walter Thorburn. At the recent General Election Sir Edward was elected M.P. for the ancient burgh of New Sarum, in Wiltshire, where he is widely known and highly respected. Now that he has entered Parliament, we feel sure that he will prove a steady and reliable member, not over-desirous of rushing to the front, but able and willing to give his time and talents for the good of the nation. This is a type of member the country very much requires at the present day.

In 1889, 1892, and 1894 further visits were made to India, where he was able to see and understand many of the great problems which are fast coming to the front in our vast Eastern empire. For some weeks he resided on the Mysore gold fields and learned something of the working of these wonderfully productive mines, in the developing of which his father had played such a prominent part.

To the observant and thinking man foreign travel is full of delight, for he feels his sympathies ever broadening as he begins to see the human heart behind even the strangest customs; but the longing for the homeland ever returns, and the desire to settle down among his own people becomes stronger the further he travels. In 1895 Sir Edward Tennant was married to Pamela, youngest daughter of the Honourable Percy Wyndham of Clouds, Wiltshire. The union has been a happy one, and in the wider sphere upon which they have entered, while cares and responsibilities must necessarily increase, we doubt not that their public and private life will have a beneficial effect upon all with whom they come in contact. A writer in the paper already quoted thus refers to Lady Tennant: —

Mrs Pamela Genevieve Adelaide Tennant, who by the death of her venerable father-in-law becomes Lady Tennant of The Glen and of St Rollox, was born at Belgrave Square, London, in January, 1871, the youngest daughter of the Hon. Percy Scawen Wyndham of Clouds, Wiltshire (third son of the first Lord Leconfield, and for a quarter of a century—1860-8&—M.P. for West Cumberland), by his marriage at Stillorgan in October, 1860, to Madeline Caroline Frances Eden, seventh daughter of General Sir Guy Campbell, first Baronet, and maternal grand-daughter of the celebrated Irish patriot Lord Edward Fitz-Gerald. Lady Tennant is thus a sister of Mr George Wyndham, late Chief -8ecretary for Ireland. The Campbell family to which her mother belongs claims descent from the-house of Breadalbane, and the first Baronet's, grandfather was cashier of the Royal Bank of Scot--land and Deputy-Keeper of the Great Seal of Scot-; land. Sir Guy’s father, General Colin Campbell,, took a notable part in quelling the Irish rebellion of 1798, and fought at Vinegar Hill, becoming eventually Governor of Gibraltar during the most critical period of the Peninsular War. The first. Baronet himself fought in the '98, was present at the Corunna retreat, and commanded his regiment at Waterloo. Through Lord Edward Lady Tennant has many distinguished ancestors, including the "Merry Monarch," from whose son, the first Duke of Richmond and Lennox, descended the patriot's mother; King Edward I., from whom the first Duke of Leinster's mother traced her descent in many different lines; and also the Scottish Gordons of Gight. It was at Holy Trinity Church, Sloane Street, that Miss Pamela Wyndham was married in July, 1895, to her husband, now Sir Edward Priaulx Tennant, second Baronet, M.A. The heir to the Baronetcy is now their eldest son, Edward Wyndham Tennant, born in 1897. It may be added that some years ago Sargent’s painting in the Royal Academy of Lady Tennant and her sisters (Lady Elcho and Mrs Adeane) was generally admitted to be the portrait of the year, and it was happily referred to by the present King at the opening dinner of the Academy ae depicting "The Three Graces."

The foregoing writer might have added that Lady Tennant adds to her other gifts that of poetry, and has produced a book of poems of no mean order. In 1902 she accompanied her husband to the East, where, in Delhi, as the guests of Lord Curzon, the Viceroy of India, they witnessed at Christmas the great Durbar.

In 1900 Sir Edward purchased the estate of Wilsford, seven miles from Salisbury, where, as already indicated, he erected the fine Tudor mansion. He takes an active interest in the local affairs near his English home, and is a Magistrate for Wiltshire and a member of the County Council. In addition to being an ideal country gentleman, he has inherited not a few of his father’s wonderful commercial instincts, and is a director in many important undertakings, being also President of the Union Bank of Scotland.

In addition, to taking an active interest in the sports and pastimes of his native Borderland, he is a past Honorary President of the Glasgow Border Counties’ Association and has occasionally taken an active part in some of their public gatherings. He has the honour to be a member of the Royal Company of Archers, the King’s Bodyguard for Scotland, that interesting link with the distant past which was constituted in its present form in 1676 by an Act of the Privy Council of Scotland. The membership of this interesting and unique corps, which takes precedence of all royal guards and troops of the line, consists entirely of nobles and gentry of good position. Its survival and proud position is a lesson to those who are inclined to forget the many outstanding features which Scotland still retains and which carry with them peculiar privileges.

Sir Edward Tennant, in addition to inheriting much wealth, is now the proud possessor of those great art treasures which the late Sir Charles collected during his lifetime. He is a comparatively young man, and we feel sure that he and Lady Tennant, with their family of four sons and one daughter, will perpetuate and increase the best traditions of the Glen and of the Borderland.

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