The weaponry in Lots 123 to 128 are from Kimmerghame, by Duns, the family home of the Late Major General Sir John Swinton, KCVO., OBE., DL (1925-2018). He began his military career in 1944 with the Scots Guards, rising in rank to Major General in 1976. He was also Brigadier of the Queen’s Body Guard for Scotland (Royal Company of Archers) in 1977, and retired from Army life in 1979. With his strong military background, he was appointed Deputy Lieutenant for Berwickshire in 1980 and Lord Lieutenant from 1989 to 2000. A high point of his tenure was escorting the Stone of Scone back to Scotland in 1996.
The Swinton family history and ownership of land in Berwickshire can be traced to the early part of the 12th century, when Ernulf de Swinton received one of the first private charters recorded in Scotland which confirmed his property from David I of Scotland (1084-1153). This is one of two original charters of David I kept in the cartulary of Durham; both are to Ernulf and also refer to Ernulf’s father (Udard), grandfather (Liulf) and great-grandfather (Eadulf) as holding the land before him. This would make Eadulf the first land owner of Scotland whose ownership could be proved, and means that the Swinton family would by this hypothesis be one of only three (the two others being the Arden and Berkeley families) that could trace its unbroken land ownership and lineage to before the Norman Conquest, making it one of the oldest landed families in Britain.
Kimmerghame itself was the site of an earlier house, the home of Sir Andrew Home in the 1730s. The lands and estate of Kimmerghame came into the ownership of the family of Swinton in 1776 when Archibald Swinton of Manderston married Henrietta Campbell of Blythswood in Glasgow. This older house was demolished and rebuilt in the early 1850s, the architect being the celebrated David Bryce, who employed some materials from the older house. Bryce’s Scots Baronial house was substantially damaged by fire in 1938 and only partially rebuilt. The family still retains Kimmerghame and its contents.
The Swinton family have had strong connections with the Army and the legal profession. They were also keen on supporting artists over the generations.
Archibald Campbell of Blythswood (circa 1763 –13 June 1838) was a Scottish landowner and politician. He was born Archibald Douglas, the second son of Col. James Douglas of Mains who inherited the vast Blythswood estate in Glasgow stretching west from Buchanan Street to the River Kelvin in 1767 and was thereafter known as Campbell of Blythswood. His mother was Henrietta Dunlop, daughter of James Dunlop of Garnkirk. On his father's death the estate passed to the first son Lt Col John Campbell, but on John's death (having being killed in Martinique in 1794) the estate passed to Archibald. Those parts closest to Glasgow were then sold to developers, most notably William Harley, to create the New Town of Blythswood, which John Campbell had enabled by Act of Parliament in 1792.
He joined the British Army and was a captain in the 1st Foot in 1790 and was promoted to major in 1794. He retired from the army when he inherited the family estate at Blythswood, Renfrewshire, in 1802. He was then Senior Bailie for the City of Glasgow from 1802, elected MP for Glasgow Burghs 1806–09, Elgin Burghs 1812, Perth Burghs 1818–20, and Glasgow Burghs 1820–31. He served as Lord-lieutenant of Renfrewshire from 1826 to his death and as Rector of Glasgow University from 1809 to 1811. This sword was the parting gift from the officers and privates of the Nineth Renfrewshire Yeomanry on his decommission.
Archibald Swinton of Manderston (1731-1804) married Campbell’s sister, Henrietta Campbell of Blythswood born circa 1756, in Glasgow in 1776. Her dowry included the lands and estate of Kimmerghame which came into the ownership of the Swinton family. Campbell was unmarried and on his death the Blythswood lands passed to his second cousin Archibald Douglas of Mains, who also then adopted the surname of Campbell. It can be assumed that upon her brother’s death this sword passed to Henrietta's children and hence by decent through the Swinton family.
Captain Archibald Swinton (1731-1804) was a Scottish surgeon that went to India in the service of the East India Company. He reached Madras in 1752 and took part in the campaigns being waged between the French and English Companies for supremacy in the south. He also took part in an expedition 1756-57 to Negrais in Burma, arriving at Ganjam in Eastern India in 1759 and from there went on to Calcutta. During this time he also transferred from being a surgeon to an ensignship in the Company’s Bengal army.
When Archibald Swinton left the Company’s service at the end of 1765, he also left India with an unprecedented mastery of the Persian language, local customs and strong relationships with the Mughal nobility. Swinton was a very early collector of Indian and Mughal art and on returning to Scotland he brought with him a substantial collection Indian paintings, works of art, ivories, arms, jewels, Persian books and silver and jade handled daggers. This is documented in family papers.
The significance of Swinton’s pioneering interest in Indian culture and early patronage of Indian art was recently recognised by the acceptance of an important group of Indian paintings, weapons and other works of art by the nation in lieu of inheritance tax, allocated to the National Museum of Scotland in 2021.
These pistols are dated to the same period that Swinton was serving in India and it is highly likely that they accompanied him on his journey as they bear his crest and motto.
Benjamin Griffin, father of Joseph, was apprenticed to Samuel Harrison in 1719. He was allowed to prove guns by the Gunmakers' Company between 1724 and 1731, and despite being told to give up work by the Gunmakers' Company he continued trading in Bond Street between 1735 and 1770, the year of his death. Joseph Griffin is noted as working in London between 1750-87. The firm was named Griffin & Tow after 1770 and is recorded at 10 Bond Street from 1772 – 1782. James Freeman, son of James Paul, was apprentice to his father in 1730, free of the gunmakers company in 1738 and master in 1754. Both he and his father are noted for their breech-loading pistols.
Similarly to Lot 126, these pistols are also dated to the same period that Captain Archibald Swinton (1731 - 1804) was serving in India and it is also possible that they could have accompanied him on his journey.
John Bumford was apprenticed to Thomas Hardwell in 1735, then elected Master of the Gunmakers' Company in 1751 and again in 1756. He was Contractor to Ordnance between 1756 and 1771, to the East Indian Company between 1745 and 1773, and to Hudson's Bay Company from 1757 until the year of his death in 1775.