Crookston Castle is a ruined 14th century castle which was built within the earthworks of its 12th century predecessor.
The castle occupies a strategically important position, protecting the southern approach to Glasgow. It stands on a steep-sided hill which drops away sharply on the north side to the Levern Water, just to the east of the confluence of the Levern Water and the White Cart.
Around 1150 Walter fitz Alan was appointed hereditary High Steward of Scotland by David I and granted the lands of Mearns, Strathgryfe (now encompassing the majority of Renfrewshire), Renfrew and North Kyle. In 1163 he founded Paisley Abbey and the charter was witnessed by one of his vassals, Sir Robert de Croc of Neilston.
Walter gave various lands to his friends and followers and around 1170 he granted to Sir Robert the lands which became known as “Crocis toune” or “Croc’s toun” after their new owner. There were also lands called Crucsfeu, presumably “Croc’s feu”, and there seems to have been a distinction between those and the lands of Crookston with them frequently appearing separately in the same charter. However in some charters the two seem interchangeable with one missing while the other is present. That one name seems to have been used for the other seems clear in the context of other properties mentioned repeatedly together.
For example there are frequent references to Crookston, Inchinnan and Darnley together, referring to the castles or palaces in each of those places, but in some instances Crookston is replaced with a variant of Crucsfeu. There are also several references to the lordship of Crucsfeu but also of Crookston. It may be that Crucsfeu referred to the wider lordship, which included Crookston and the castle, while Crookston referred only to the lands including and immediately around the castle. Indeed in 1490 there is a reference to “the lordship of Darnley, called Cruxfew”.
Some time soon after Sir Robert Croc built an earth and timber castle surrounded by a massive bank and ditch. Unlike contemporary castles there was no motte, Sir Robert instead utilising the existing ditch and bank of an older ringwork or fort to protect the central area.
The ditch measures up to 3.5m deep and takes the form of an irregular hexagon while the bank measures up to 3.1m in height. A break in the ditch on the west side probably marks the original entrance. Around 40m to the east of the castle are further earthworks which may represent part of the earlier defences.
Some time before 1177 Sir Robert, as Robert Crok, and Alan Crok witnessed a charter by Walter fitz Alan’s son, Alan fitz Walter, 2nd High Steward of Scotland, in favour of Adam, son of Gilbert and heir of Tarboultoun, Preueic, Drumley and Milnefinlen.
Sir Robert, who had already built a hospital on his lands, possibly at Cowglen, was given permission in 1180 by Paisley Abbey to build a chapel at the castle and another at the hospital. The castle’s chapel is thought to have been to the east of the castle where the foundations of a stone building, measuring around 15.0m by around 8.0m, were found during excavations carried out in the 1970s. The footings of the south and east walls were uncovered and a moulded sill and hearth were found in the south wall.
Around 1200 Alan fitz Walter gave the lands of Kilbride to Robert Croc and his heirs in exchange for the 100 shilling land that Alan owed to Robert.
In 1225 Alexander II confirmed a charter by Maol Domhnaich, Earl of Lennox, to Simon, son of Robert Croc, of the lands of “Brengrochane and Kymonedhane and Gartbethe” (Balgrochan, Kilmannan and Carbeth). Around 1240 Symone Croc and Thoma Croc were witnesses to a charter by Maol Domhnaich to Sir David of Grahame of three silver merks due to him for the rent of Strathblane. Simon and Thomas Croc also witnessed a charter by Maol Domhnaich to Sir David of Grahame of a half carucate of land of Strathblane at a similar time.
Around 1248 Symone Crock witnessed an agreement between Malcolm, son of Maol Domhnaich, and Sir David of Grahame and around 1272 he resigned the lands he’d receive in 1225 of into the hands of Maol Domhnaich in favour of Sir Patrick of Grahame.
In the 13th century Sir Robert Croc received Tarbolton from his father, when Crookston Castle was the principal messuage of the regality of Crookston which comprised of the lordship of Darnley and Inchinnan and also of Tarbolton.
Towards the end of the 13th century Crookston seems to have passed out of the Croc family although there are conflicting versions as to how that came to be. One version has it that the male line failed with Sir Thomas Croc while another has it that it failed with Robert Croc, Lord of Crookston and Darnley. Robert’s daughter and heiress, Marion de Croc, is said to have married Sir Robert Stewart, son of Walter Stewart of Dundonald, the 3rd High Steward of Scotland, and the Crookston possessions passed to the Stewarts.
Other histories state that Robert Croc sold Crookston around this time, in one version to the family of Glasferth or Glassford and in another to the Annesley family. Two of the nobles on the Ragman Roll of 1296 are Robert Cruk of Fingaledstone and John Aneslye de Crucsfeu which lends weight to this theory. It is supposed that John de Annesley bought the lands of Crookston from Robert Croc and early in the 14th century sold them to Glasferth.
Whatever the true sequence, Adam of Glasferth was in possession of the lands of Crukysfu in 1330 when Robert, 7th High Steward of Scotland (the future Robert II), granted licence to his cousin, Sir Alan Stewart of Dreghorn, to purchase heritably the same lands. Sir Alan died at the Battle of Halidon Hill in 1333 and was succeeded by his son, Sir John Stewart of Darnley, who in a charter in his favour granted by Robert, 7th High Steward and Earl of Strathearn, was styled as Sir John Stewart, Lord of Crookston, Knight.
On the 2nd of February 1356 Sir John was confirmed by Robert, 7th High Steward, in all the lands and tenements which he held from the Steward. The following year Sir John received from Robert the fee of the principal tenement of Tarbolton in the barony of Kyle upon the resignation of John of Grahame. Around the same time he resigned and received back the lands of Tarbolton and Dromley in the barony of Kyle from John Stewart, Lord of Kyle Stewart (the future Robert III).
Robert, 7th High Steward, confirmed Sir John, in the lands of Croikisfow, Inchenane and Perthaikscott on the 10th of January 1361 which John, Steward of Kyle, had resigned. Sir John was by this time the High Steward’s baron-bailie, responsible for administering the barony of Renfrew.
Sir John was dead by 1369 and his younger brother, Walter, by 1371, and so Crookston and Darnley passed to their younger brother, Sir Alexander Stewart, who had married a sister of Sir John Turnbull of Minto.
When Sir Alexander died is not recorded however he was succeeded by his son, also Sir Alexander, who married the widow Janet Keith of Galstoun, daughter of Sir William Keith of Galstoun. The younger Sir Alexander is said to have built the first stone tower on the site in the last decade of the 14th century.
The design is considered unique in Scotland, comprising of a tall central rectangular tower flanked by four square corner towers, although it shares some similarities with the castles of Borthwick, Dundonald and Hermitage.
The three storey central block measures around 19.0m north-west to south-east by around 12.0m across and takes the form of a parallelogram, the east wall being angled in relation to the north and south walls. The walls, which are rubble-built with high quality ashlar dressings, are up to 3.7m thick. This irregular shape and the thickness of the walls makes it tempting to speculate that it incorporates the remains of the an older tower, perhaps 13th century in date.
The main public rooms are housed in the central tower which is entered via an entrance on the north wall beside the north-east corner tower. The entrance was protected by two doors and a portcullis and led ahead into the basement while a straight intramural stair leads up to the right of the doorway to the Great Hall above. The basement is rib-vaulted and lit by slit windows. A small chamber under the staircase contains a well.
On the first floor is the Great Hall which has a pointed vault rising to a height of some 8.3m, a large fireplace and deep window embrasures with stone seats. An intramural spiral staircase at the south-east corner of the Hall gives access to the solar above and also to the upper storeys of the south-east tower, and, via passages running through the thickness of the east wall of the main tower, to those of the north-east tower. The aforementioned solar, or family’s living quarters, on the second floor features a fireplace and a mullioned window.
Each of the corner towers was four storeys in height and housed the kitchen, stores, bed chambers, servants’ quarters and prison, although only the north-east tower still stands to its original height. Square on plan, it measures around 6.0m by 6.0m. It is entered at first floor level via the passageway from the Great Hall which leads into a guard room, in the floor of which is a trap door leading down into a vaulted prison below. On the second floor is thought to have been the lady’s bed chamber and above that on the top floor the laird’s bed chamber with a large window facing to the east. Corbelling supports a parapet walk with round turrets at each corner.
The south-east tower has a rib-vaulted store room in the basement and would also have had a further three rooms above. To the west of the south-east tower at first floor level is an arched opening into the main tower.
The north-west tower was entered at ground floor level from the main tower’s basement. A low arch next to the doorway gave access to a straight-sided opening which led up to the Great Hall above. This has been interpreted as a possible “dumb waiter” suggesting that this was the location of the kitchen. It’s noticeable that the north-west tower’s basement has a fireplace while that of the main tower does not, and there is also a water chute leading from the well chamber in the main tower into the north-west tower.
Above this probable kitchen would have been three further chambers although it is no longer possible to discern their form. Similarly not enough of the north-east tower remains to ascertain the functions of its rooms, but ground floor storage and further accommodation above is likely.
Archaeological investigations in the 1970s suggested that the north-east and south-west towers may have been built in one phase of construction, forming a Z-plan with the main tower, with the north-west and south-east towers being built in a second phase. The castle may have been surrounded by a courtyard wall as significant stone debris was found around the surrounding bank during the excavations.
Sir Alexander is thought to have died in 1404 or 1406 and was succeeded by his son, Sir John Stewart of Darnley, who married Elizabeth, daughter of Donnchadh, Earl of Lennox, around 1408. Sir John seems to have developed a reputation for himself as an able military commander as when Charles, the Dauphin of France, asked James I for assistance in 1418 he is said to have named Sir John specifically. A Scottish force left in 1419 under the command of Sir John’s cousin, John Stewart, Earl of Buchan, and the following year Sir John was referred to as the Constable of the Scottish Army in France.
He fought at the Battle of Baugé in 1421 and was made the Seigneur de Concressault later that year in recognition of his contribution. The following year the Dauphin ascended the throne of France as Charles VII and made Sir John the Seigneur d’Aubigny. He fought for the French in numerous battles against the English, commanded the Garde Écossaise and was created Comte d’Évreux. He returned to Scotland in 1428 and was involved in the negotiations which led to James I’s daughter, Princess Margaret of Scotland, marrying Charles VII’s son, Louis.
In 1429 he returned to France and fought in the Siege of Orléans but died at the Battle of the Herrings and was succeeded by his eldest son, Sir Alan, who had fought alongside his father and brothers in France. He inherited his father’s lordships of Aubigny and Concressault and around the same time married Catherine Seton, daughter of the late Sir William de Seton who had died at the Battle of Verneuil in 1424. By 1437 Sir Alan had resigned his French lands and titles to his younger brother, Sir John, and returned to Scotland.
A marriage contract was drawn up in 1438 between Sir Alan and Alexander Montgomerie of Ardrossan, 1st Lord Montgomerie, for the marriage of Sir Alan’s son, John Stewart, and Lord Montgomerie’s daughter, Margaret Montgomerie, however it seems that the marriage did not proceed. Sir Alan was apparently involved in a feud with the Boyd family and in 1439 he was killed by Sir Thomas Boyd of Kilmarnock.
The location of their encounter is named in some sources as Powmathorn or Powmathorne, and is described variously as being three miles from Glasgow, three miles from Falkirk, between Falkland and Linlithgow and between Falkirk and Linlithgow. Polmaise Thorn is one interpretation, although there is also a Pomathorn to the south of Penicuik.
Sir Alan’s brother, Alexander, killed Boyd at the Battle of Craignaught Hill later that year and Sir Alan was succeeded by his son, Sir John, who was later made a Lord of Parliament, possibly at the coronation of James III in 1460. In 1456 the King confirmed a letter from his cousin, John Stewart, Lord of Dernele, to Lord John de Seton granting him the lands of Leynefene or Lenfene. The letter was written at the “Castrum de le Crikstoun”.
In 1460 Sir John married Margaret Montgomerie, daughter of Alexander Montgomerie, Master of Montgomerie, and granddaughter of Alexander Montgomerie, 1st Lord Montgomerie. In the same year his grandmother, Isabella, Countess of Lennox and eldest daughter of Donnchadh, Earl of Lennox, died. Her sons and husband had predeceased her, as had her two sisters, Elizabeth and Margaret, and so the Earldom of Lennox was divided between her sister’s heirs.
Sir John was in line to inherit half of the Earldom however it took several petitions to James II and James III, and to Sir John’s cousin the Lord Chancellor, Andrew Stewart, 1st Lord Avandale, by Sir John and his brother, Alexander, to secure Darnley’s inheritance.
The second heir, who was due a quarter of the Earldom, was Agnes Menteith, a granddaughter of Margaret and daughter of Murdoch Menteith of Rusky, who married John Haldane of Gleneagles. The third heir, who was to also inherit a quarter of the Earldom, was Agnes’s sister, Elizabeth Menteith, who married John Napier of Merchiston.
Lord Avandale was also a grandson of Isabella however and coveted the Lennox estates. He used his position as Lord Chancellor and Regent during the minority of James III to frustrate the Lennox heirs in their attempts to receive their inheritance. In 1471 he was granted the liferent of the whole Earldom of Lennox and supported the Haldanes against Darnley in an attempt to strengthen his position and weaken Darnley’s.
Sir John was appointed Governor of Rothesay Castle in 1465 and in 1473 was finally confirmed as an heir of Duncan, Earl of Lennox, by Sir John Colquhoun of Colquhoun, Sheriff of Dumbarton, receiving the principal messuage and half of the lands of the Earldom. However despite apparently having a right to he doesn’t seemed to have used the title of Earl of Lennox after 1475, possibly due to Lord Avandale having obtained the Earldom’s liferent.
In 1478 the lords auditors of complaints heard a case brought to decide if a gift of the lands of Crookston in liferent to John Lindsay of Dunrod would remove the Countess of Crawford from her terce in the same lands or not. The Lindsays of Dunrod had a long-standing friendship with their neighbours the Stewarts of Darnley and held lands from them in reversion.
Some time before 1480 Sir John’s eldest son, Matthew, married Margaret Lyle, daughter of Robert Lyle, 2nd Lord Lyle.
In 1485 Sir John signed a contract with Charles of Pollok , lord of Ouir Pollok, for Pollok to keep the castle of Rothesay for five years on behalf of Lennox, for which Pollok was to be paid annually at “the castell of Cruxtoune”. The following year he granted to his third son, John Stewart, and his son’s wife, Mariota Semple, the east half of the lands of Henristoun in the barony of Renfrew.
Upon the death of Lord Avandale in 1488 the co-claimants to the Earldom of Lennox finally acquired the benefits of their inheritance. In October that year at the newly-crowned James IV’s first parliament Sir John sat as Earl of Lennox and four days later was appointed keeper of the castle of Dumbarton.
The Earl of Lennox, his son’s father-in-law, Lord Lyle, and his son, Matthew, were tasked with keeping control of a district in the west of Scotland including the shires of Dumbarton and Renfrew until the King reached the age of 21. However late in 1488 they joined a rebellion against the young King, or more correctly against his advisers. In June 1489 they were all forfeited and in July an order was issued to besiege Dumbarton Castle, Crookston Castle and Lord Lyle’s Duchal Castle.
Later that month the King marched from Glasgow to Duchal and Crookston to confront the rebels. The siege of Duchal lasted a week before the castle surrendered however there are conflicting reports regarding the siege of Crookston. Some sources state that the castle was surrendered without a shot being fired while others state that the south-west tower was destroyed by Mons Meg.
Despite their involvement in the rebellion all three had their forfeiture rescinded in February 1490 and their estates restored. Builders were apparently brought from Paisley to partially demolish the castle and effect repairs, although the western towers were never rebuilt.
In May of that year Elizabeth Menteith and her son, Archibald Napier of Edinbellie, reached an agreement with John, Earl of Lennox, whereby they renounced their claims over the superiority and tenandry of their quarter of the Earldom. In June of that year he resigned the whole of the Earldom of Lennox, the whole of “the lordship of Darnley, called Cruxfew” and the whole of the lands of Galston in favour of his son, Matthew. The Earl of Lennox reached a similar agreement with John Haldane of Gleneagles and his son, James, over their quarter of the Earldom in 1493, and so finally obtained the whole of the Earldom of Lennox without dispute.
Sir John’s eldest son, Matthew, married secondly in 1494 a granddaughter of James II, Elizabeth Hamilton, daughter of James Hamilton, 1st Lord Hamilton, and Mary Stewart, and upon his father’s death in 1495 succeeded to the Lennox estates and titles. He served as Lord Provost of Glasgow in 1497.
On the 18th of January 1511 Matthew, 2nd Earl of Lennox, obtained for his good service a confirmation from the King of the charter granted by the High Steward of Scotland to Sir John Stewart in 1361. This charter granted him the lands of Croikisfow, Inchenane and Perthaikscott along with the castle and fortalice of Crokisfow, the manor and palace of Inchenane and the lands of Dernlie, the twenty pound lands of Dormondside, Nethirtoun and Ald-Crukistoun of old extent amongst others. The following day his eldest son, John, married Elizabeth Stewart, daughter of Sir John Stewart of Balveny, 1st Earl of Atholl, and Eleanor Sinclair, daughter of William Sinclair, 3rd Earl of Orkney.
Following the death of the 2nd Earl at the Battle of Flodden in 1513 some of his possessions seem to have passed to Sir James Hamilton of Finnart, a grandson of the 1st Lord Hamilton, before being granted by the King to others. The 2nd Earl was succeeded by his son, Sir John, who in 1521 was bailiff of the barony of Renfrew.
Sir John attempted in 1526 to rescue the young James V from the influence of the Douglases but died in the ensuing Battle of Linlithgow Bridge and was succeeded by his 9 year old son, Matthew. In January 1529 the King granted to Henry Montgomery and his heirs the 43 pound 4 shilling 1 pence lands and tenandry of Scottistoun, in the lordship of Crukisfe, which had been resigned into the King’s hands following the death of the 2nd Earl and which were given by Hamilton of Finnart.
In 1532 the late Earl’s widow sent Matthew and his younger brother, John, to their kinsman Robert Stewart, 4th Lord of Aubigny, in France where they joined the Garde Écossaise. Aubigny was the brother of the younger Stewarts’ grandfather, the 2nd Earl of Lennox. Before they left Matthew received a grant from the King of Crukiston, Crukisfew, the lands of Darnley and others.
While the 4th Earl was in France James V continued to grant lands that had been resigned into his hands following the death of the 2nd Earl. In July 1532 John Semple of Foulwod was granted various lands in the lordship of Crukisfe and Inchynnane and in October of the same year Sir John Mure of Caldwell, an uncle of the 4th Earl, was granted the lands of Estir-Glanderstoun, also in the lordship of Inchynnane and Crukisfe.
Following the death of James V in December 1542 the Earl of Lennox was encouraged to return to Scotland by Cardinal David Beaton to rival his fellow claimant to the throne, James Hamilton, 2nd Earl of Arran. Both claimed descent from Mary Stewart, daughter of James II. When Lennox arrived at Dumbarton Castle in March 1543 Arran had just been appointed Regent to the infant Mary, Queen of Scots, and declared next in line to the throne.
The Regent Arran sought to marry Mary to Edward Tudor, the son and heir of Henry VIII of England however Lennox was part of the pro-French faction opposed to this. Lennox had been lured to Scotland partly by the prospect of marrying Mary’s mother, Mary of Guise, widow of James V. However in 1544 he married Margaret Douglas, daughter of Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus, and Margaret Tudor, wife of James IV and sister of Henry VIII.
As part of the marriage settlement he endowed his wife in the lands of Glenrinne, Balloch and Auchintorlies in the Earldom of Lennox, the baronies of Cruckisfew, Inchinnan and Craig of Nielston in the lordship of Darnley and the lands of Erere in Perthshire.
That year Dame Helen Stewart, Lady Erroll, the widow of William Hay, 6th Earl of Erroll, and the eldest daughter of John Stewart, 3rd Earl of Lennox, was described as the proprietrix of the lands of Crookistoun and the lands of Inchinnan in a dispute with Robert Sempill, 3rd Lord Sempill, regarding the corn from those lands.
Also in the same year Lennox changed sides and supported the proposed marriage between Mary and Edward Tudor, however Arran had himself changed sides the year before. Crookston Castle was besieged and captured by the forces of Regent Arran and Cardinal Beaton while the Earl of Lennox was defending Glasgow Castle against the same foe.
The 4th Earl was forfeited and exiled in 1545, settling in England on an estate given to him by Henry VIII. Meanwhile Crookston Castle was extensively repaired and in October of that year was granted by the Crown to Robert Sempill, 3rd Lord Sempill, along with the lands of Cruikestoun, Dernlie, Neilstoun, Kowglennis, Pottertoun, Dikkonisband, Kowanoris, Glanderstanis, Helfeild, Crukisfie, Neilstounissyde and Inschynnane, with the castles, towers and fortalices, which Matthew, Earl of Lennox, had forfeited.
In May 1546 the Crown granted the castle and fortalice of Crukistoun to the 3rd Lord Sempill and his heirs for good service, and in April 1548 he and his heirs received a further grant of the lands of Crukistoun, Crukisfee, Neilstounside and Inschynnane, with the castles, towers and fortalices.
Mary created her half-brother, John Stewart, Commendator of Coldingham, Lord Darnley in 1562 and granted him a portion of the Darnley estates following his marriage to Janet Hepburn, sister of James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell. She was resident at Cruxtoune when she wrote a letter to Sir John Maxwell of Pollok in June 1562 or 1563 signing herself as “Janet, Lady Darnley”. Sir John was a great-great-grandson of Elizabeth Stewart, daughter of John Stewart, 1st Earl of Lennox, who had married an earlier John Maxwell of Pollok.
Lord Darnley died in November 1563 and was succeeded by his infant son, Francis Stewart, whom Mary granted the lordship of the Enzie, the forest of Boyne, Cruckstoun, Inchinnan, Neilstoun and others. However in October 1564 the 4th Earl of Lennox returned to Scotland and was restored in his estates and titles by Mary who provided him with lodgings in Holyroodhouse.
Lennox had been involved in political manoeuvring in an attempt to secure Mary’s hand in marriage for his son, Henry Stuart, better known by his courtesy title of Lord Darnley as heir to the Earldom of Lennox, and in February 1565 Lord Darnley travelled from London to Edinburgh. Some sources state that Mary first met Lord Darnley at Crookston Castle, and others that they became engaged or were married there under a yew tree or honeymooned there, however it is more likely that they met at Wemyss Castle and they were married in Mary’s private chapel at Holyroodhouse on the 29th of July.
The belief that they had married under the yew tree at Crookston may have been down to Sir Walter Scott’s novel “The Abbot”, published in 1820. The yew in question was felled in 1816 or 1817 and wood from the tree was used to build a model of Crookston Castle which used to be housed in Pollok House but is now lost having been lent out around 2013.
Lord Darnley was not popular at the Scottish court and concerns about a return to Catholicism which led to a rebellion in August and September 1565. Known as the Chaseabout Raid, it was led by Mary’s half-brother, James Stewart, 1st Earl of Moray. Robert Sempill, 3rd Lord Sempill, was one of the nobles who supported Mary and Darnley and in September Mary spent a week at Crookston Castle.
The marriage grew strained and Lord Darnley became jealous of Mary’s friendship with her private secretary, David Rizzio. Lord Darnley conspired with some of the nobles who had participated in the Chaseabout Raid and on the 9th of March 1566 he stabbed Rizzio to death at Holyroodhouse in front of the heavily-pregnant Mary. Their son, James, was born on the 19th of June 1566 at Edinburgh Castle, however the marriage was doomed.
Early in 1567 Lord Darnley was recuperating in Glasgow, possibly at Darnley, from smallpox or possibly syphilis. Mary had Lord Darnley brought to Edinburgh where he was accommodated at the Old Provost’s lodging at Kirk o’Field. At around 2am on the morning of the 10th of February the house was blown up by two barrels of gunpowder placed in the room under Darnley’s bedchamber. Several men were seen by witnesses fleeing the scene.
James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, was accused of murdering Lord Darnley however he was found not guilty in April 1567 after his main accuser, the 4th Earl of Lennox, failed to appear at court. Mary was suspected by some of involvement in her husband’s murder and her case was not helped when she married Bothwell in May of the same year. Mary and Bothwell were defeated at the Battle of Carberry Hill on the 15th of June and Mary was imprisoned in Lochleven Castle where she was forced to abdicate in favour of her infant son, James.
Mary escaped the following year and rallied her supporters however they were defeated at the Battle of Langside on the 13th of May. Sir Walter Scott made the erroneous claim that Mary had watched the battle from the battlements of Crookston Castle however it was in fact from Cathcart Castle.
In 1570 the 4th Earl of Lennox was appointed as Regent for his grandson, James VI. An inventory of the Place of Inchynnane from around 1570 included a reference to the “keis of Crewxston” (the keys of Crookston). On the 1st of August Walter Douglas of Kaistoun and Elizabeth Maxwell, his spouse, made a reversion to Lennox of the lands of the mains of Crookston, containing the sum of 500 merks.
Lennox was shot and killed in a skirmish in Stirling the following year and the Earldom of Lennox returned to the Crown before James VI made a new creation of the title for the 4th Earl’s younger son, Charles, the King’s uncle.
Charles and his heirs were granted the lands of Crokisfow with castle, tower, fortalice and mill, the lands of Inchennane with the manor and palace, the lands of Perthaikscot with the mill, together with their tenants. Also the castle of Cruikisfow, the mains lands of Dernlie, the lands of Dormondsyd, Nethirtoun and Auld Cruikstoun (the 20 pound lands of old extent), the manor and palace of Inchennane and the mains lands of Inchennane, for which he was expected to pay the King a single silver coin at the castle of Cruikisfow.
Charles had married Elizabeth Cavendish and in 1575 their daughter, Lady Arbella Stuart, was born, however he died of tuberculosis in 1576. Following his death his mother, Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox, attempted to obtain the lands of “Glenfermie, Ballortis, Atchinturleys, Crwkis, Inchenan, Craiguelson, and Tarbouton” which her husband had granted to her as part of her dowry. Her claim was denied however and her dowry passed to her granddaughter, Lady Arbella.
The next in line to the Earldom was Robert Stewart, Bishop of Caithness and younger brother of the 4th Earl, and in June 1578 the King made a new creation of the title for him, making him Earl of Lennox and Lord Darnley and granting him the possessions of the Earldom including the castle of Cruikisfie. In 1579 he resigned the Earldom of Lennox in exchange for the Earldom of March and his nephew, Esmé Stewart, was made Lord of Aubigny, Earl of Lennox, Lord Darnley and Dalkeith and granted the Earldom’s holdings including the lands of Cruikisfow with the castle, tower and fortalice on the 5th of March.
The Earl of Lennox was a favourite of the King and was made Lord High Chamberlain of Scotland in 1581 and was first Gentleman of the King’s Bedchamber. On the 5th of August 1581 he was created Duke of Lennox, Earl of Darnley, Lord Dalkeith, Torboltoun and Aberdour.
Later that year on the 13th of December the King made a new grant to Esmé Stewart, Duke of Lennox, Earl of Darnlie, Lord of Tarboltoun, Dalkeith and Aubigny, which included the lands of Cruikisfow with the castle and the mill.
The Duke of Lennox died in May 1583 and was succeeded by his eldest son, Ludovic, whom in July the King granted the lands, Earldom and lordship of Lennox which included the lands of Cruikisfow with the castle and the mill. He was appointed Lord High Chamberlain of Scotland in 1594, made a heritable appointment for his heirs, and first Gentleman of the King’s Bedchamber like his father before him.
On the 21st of February 1603 the King confirmed the Duke of Lennox in the dukedom, Earldom, lordship, barony and regality of Lennox which included the castle of Cruiksfie. When James VI ascended to the throne of England Lennox followed his King south, and it may be around this time that Crookston stopped being used as a residence.
The Duke died in 1624 without legitimate issue and was succeeded by his younger brother, Esmé Stewart, however he too died within a few months of his brother. The Dukedom was inherited by Esmé’s eldest son, James, who the following year was made a Gentleman of the Bedchamber to the newly-crowned Charles I. The 4th Duke of Lennox died in 1655 and was succeeded by his young son, Esmé Stewart, however he died at the age of 10 in 1660. The titles passed to his first cousin, Charles Stewart, a grandson of the 3rd Duke, who succeeded as 3rd Duke of Richmond, 6th Duke of Lennox and Lord High Chamberlain of Scotland and was created hereditary Lord High Admiral of Scotland.
The 6th Duke of Lennox married three times, lastly in 1667 to “La Belle Stuart”, Frances Teresa Stewart, a granddaughter of Walter Stewart, 1st Lord Blantyre, however he had no children and upon his death in 1672 his wife was granted the Lennox estates for life while the titles became extinct.
In 1675 the titles were recreated for Charles Lennox, an illegitimate son of Charles II and Louise de Kérouaille. In September of that year he was created Duke of Lennox, Earl of Darnley and Lord Torbolton. He was invested as a Knight of the Garter in 1681 and received a ratification from the King of the lands owned by the late Charles Stewart, Duke of Lennox and Richmond, including the lands of Crookston, Nether Crookston, Old Crookston. These were to be combined with other lands, including some in Ayrshire, into the Earldom of Darnley with “the castle of Darnlie, alias Cruikistoun, to be the principall messuage of the said earledome”.
The Duke resigned all of his Scottish estates in 1704 and these were acquired by James Graham, 1st Duke of Montrose. In 1757 William Graham, 2nd Duke of Montrose, sold part of the Earldom of Lennox to John Boyle, 3rd Earl of Glasgow, and part to Sir John Maxwell of Blawarthill, 3rd Baronet of Pollok. Sir John’s part comprised of “the lands of Crookston, comprehending the Mains of Crookston, Byres of Crookston, Netherton of Crookston, Hillbank and Broadcroft, Old Crookston, and the wood of Crookston, the lands of Mains of Darnley, with the mill of Darnley, being all parts of the lands of Crooksfie and Darnley, in the Earldom and late regality of Darnley, with the towers, fortalices, etc.” for which he paid £12,000.
Sir John died unmarried in 1758 and his estates passed to his sister, Beatrix Maxwell, who assigned to her half-brother, Sir Walter Maxwell of Pollok, 4th Bt., the contract of sale of the estate of Crookston and Darnley which had been agreed by the late Sir John and William, Duke of Montrose. Sir Walter died in 1762 and was succeeded by his son, Sir John, 5th Bt., who died in infancy in the same year. The estates then passed to Sir Walter’s younger brother, Sir James, 6th Bt.
Thomas Pennant visited Crookston Castle in 1772 and was seemingly rather impressed with it, stating that the “situation is delicious, commanding a view of a well-cultivated tract, divided into a multitude of fertile little hills.”
Sir James married Frances Colquhoun, daughter of Robert Colquhoun of St Kitts, in 1764 and in 1773 resigned the barony of Pollok, the lands of Crookston and others for a new infeftment to himself and his heirs. He died in 1785 and was succeeded as 7th Baronet by his eldest son, also Sir James.
In 1797 a hoard of 15th century coins was dug up near the castle, consisting mainly of English groats from the reigns of Henry IV, Henry V, Henry VI and Edward IV but also including two Scottish coins from the reign of James I.
The younger Sir James died in 1844 and was succeeded by his eldest son, Sir John, 8th Bt., who undertook a partial restoration of Crookston Castle to mark Queen Victoria’s visit to Glasgow in 1847. The north-east tower was restored to its original height, the ruins of the south-east tower and west end of the castle were consolidated and the remains of the western towers were removed. Most of the trees around the castle are thought to have been planted around this time.
The 8th Baronet died in 1865 without issue and so the estates and baronetcy passed to his nephew, Sir William Stirling-Maxwell, son of Elizabeth Maxwell and Sir Archibald Stirling of Keir, who died in 1878.
Around 1900 Sir Archibald’s son, Sir John, 10th Bt., opened the castle to day-trippers from Glasgow, with an army pensioner acting as custodian in the lodge house, and in 1920 the castle was scheduled as an ancient monument.
In 1931 Sir John was one of the founding members of the National Trust for Scotland which was created at a meeting at Pollok House and in the same year he donated Crookston Castle to the Trust as its first property.
During World War II the north-eastern tower of the castle was used as an aircraft observation post by the Home Guard during the Clydeside blitz, and an army camp was set up on the parkland below the hill.
In 1963 the National Trust for Scotland transferred the castle into State care. From 1973 to 1975 archaeological excavations were carried out by Eric Talbot from Glasgow University. Ancillary ranges to the east and west of the castle were investigated as were the demolished south-west and north-west towers. A silver groat minted between 1403 and 1406, during the reign of Robert III, was found in the foundations of the south-west tower.
The basement of the main tower was also excavated and found to be standing on boulder clay on which 15th century pottery was found. A stone building was uncovered on the north side of the entrance set over the earthworks, where a penny from the reign of James IV was found. The bank had been levelled and the foundations of the building cut into it. Within cobbling on the top of the counterscarp a penny though to date to the reign of Edward I of England was found along with late 12th or early 13th century pottery.
In 2006 the National Trust for Scotland and Historic Scotland signed an agreement to work together, with Historic Scotland subsequently taking over the management of the castle. Crookston Castle, the second oldest building in Glasgow after Glasgow Cathedral, is now operated as a visitor attraction by Historic Scotland.
Alternative names for Crookston Castle
Crewkston; Crewxston; Crikstoun; Crockstoun; Crocston; Crocstone; Crocstoun; Croikisfow; Croisfow; Crokisfow; Crokiston; Crokyisfou; Crokysfou; Crokystoun; Crookisfew; Crooksfew; Crooksfie; Crookstone; Croukistoun; Crucsfeu; Cruickisfie; Cruickistoun; Cruikestoun; Cruikisfie; Cruikisfow; Cruikistoun; Cruikston Castle; Cruikstoun; Cruixtoun; Crukisfe; Crukisfee; Crukisfie; Crukisfeu; Crukisfew; Crukisfyue; Crukiston; Crukistone; Crukistoun; Crukistoun'; Crukistoun; Crukstoun; Crukysfu; Cruxfe; Cruxfew; Cruxfie; Cruxistoune; Cruxton; Cruxtone; Cruxtoun; Cruxtoune; Crwkis; Krukstoun