Hugh Montgomerie

The Earldon of Eglinton was created in 1508 for Lord Hugh Montgomerie. Later he was to be a guardian to James V. The 3rd Earl, also called Hugh, was a loyal supporter of Queen Mary. Hugh, the 12th Earl, succeeded to the Earldom in 1796, when he was in his 50s.

He fought for the British in the American War of Independence, gaining praise for his actions. After a further spell in the Army in France, he returned and became MP for Ayr in 1783. When he succeeded to the Earldom in 1796 he relaxed by composing popular airs, and building Eglinton Castle, just south-east of Kilwinning. This, and other grand schemes, were to financially ruin the family. The huge castle was unroofed and abandoned in 1925, mercilessly hammered by Commando training during World War II, and finally demolished in 1973.

Hugh Montgomerie also started an ambitious development of Ardrossan Harbour, eventually completed by the 13th Earl. Sited between Irvine and Greenock, Ardrossan is the ferry port for Arran. The 12th Earl had somewhat overvaulting plans to build a canal between Ardrossan and Glasgow, but this never materialised.