John Henry Stuart 23rd Lord Borthwick - Obituary
13th September 1905 - 30th December 1996


Hohn Henry Stuart 23rd Lord BorthwickIt is with great sadness that I have to record the death of our Chief John Henry Stuart, 23rd Lord Borthwick of that Ilk, Baron of Heriotmuir, Borthwick and Locherwort. He died after a short illness on 30th December 1996, in his 92nd year.

Lord Borthwick was laid to rest in the family vault, overlooking a pretty glen and the sound of a gentle burn, in the historic graveyard at Borthwick. The imposing walls of the castle, where he was born, stand close by. A life had come full circle.

The church was crowded with relatives, friends and representatives of the various organisations with which Lord Borthwick was involved. The service was conducted by the Reverend John l. McPake and the organist was Dr. John Walker. Members of the family read the lessons, Georgina, the 23rd Psalm; Malcolm, a reading from revelations and the 24th Lord Borthwick read the conclusion by Sir Walter Raleigh. Three hymns were sung; Praise My Soul The King of Heaven, I Vow To Thee My Country and Be Thou My Vision.

The minister in his address recounted a full life, and one realises how much was packed into 91 years.
He was born in the room at the castle, where Mary, Queen of Scots had often slept. Hence the name Stuart added to John Henry. When Mary was forced to flee to England, she left her son, the future James V1 in the Borthwicks' safe keeping, before he was taken to Stirling, to be brought up away from the political intrigue of the Edinburgh court.
After the death of the 10th Lord Borthwick without issue, the castle went out of direct descent, and passed into various hands before being bought back by the Crookston branch of the family. John Henry's grandfather restored much of the castle, unaltered since it was built by the 1st lord's father in 1430. John Henry's grandfather moved his family to the castle from their property on Mull. The west highland staff came with them, and the young John Henry learned gaelic as easily as english. He could still recall several words at his 90th birthday party, particularly the word for midgie!

Being an only child, it must have been a lonely childhood, and perhaps even more so, when aged six the family moved to the sombre Crookston House nr. Heriot. It was here that the young Harry, as he became known developed his love of the countryside, and trees, and an affinity with horses and dogs which he never lost. He was educated at Fettes College, and King's College, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, where in 1926, he obtained a diploma in agriculture. He went to Angus for practical experience, and became a farm manager on a property in the Mearns, where he learned to converse in the doric.
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