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Cameron House: Historic House of Dunbartonshire, Scotland

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  • Francis Charteris of Amisfield, styled Lord Elcho (1748 - 1808)
    CHARTERIS, Francis (1749-1808), of Amisfield, Haddington and Hornby, Lancs.> Family and Education >>b. 31 Jan. 1749, o.s. Hon. Francis Wemyss Charteris of Amisfield and Hornby (2nd s. of James, 4th Ear...
  • Alexander Colquhoun of Luss (b. - 1617)
    ALEXANDER COLQUHOUN OF LUSS Alexander Colquhoun of Luss is the son of Sir John Colquhoun of Luss. NRS: GD8/340 The Question of Knighthood According to Sir William Fraser: 'It does not appear that Al...
  • Sir James Smollet, MP of Stainflett and Bonhill, Dunbarton (1648 - 1731)
    SMOLLETT, Sir James (c.1648-1731), of Stainflett and Bonhill, Dunbarton; and Edinburgh Family and Education b. c.1648, o. s. of John Smollett of Stainflett, by Jean, da. of William Bontine of Ardoch, P...
  • John Smollett (c.1628 - c.1680)
    From 1638, John SMOLLET grandson of John SMOLLET of Kirkton, was admitted as a Burgess of Dumbarton.This purchase helped to establish the SMOLLET family and they became the principal landed family in D...

Cameron House:

Image - Geograph © Copyright Ian S and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence.

Historic House of Dunbartonshire, Scotland

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  • Celtic Name - "Cam Sron", or crooked nose, from which comes the name Cameron - no family by the name of Cameron has lived in the house.
  • Type of Building: Mansion House
  • Condition: In use as a luxury hotel
  • Location: Luss, on the shores of Loch Lomond, Dunbartonshire (now Argyll and Bute)
  • When Built: Not yet established
  • Built for/by: Not yet established
  • Owned by: Private - hotel. In 1998, the 18th century Baronial mansion was purchased by De Vere who invested a further £60 million into the property, creating the fabulous venue that greets guests today. There are a total of 129 rooms and we stayed in one of the 12 Contemporary Feature Suites which come with their own private entrance and stunning views of the Loch.
  • Webpage:


By 1400 there was a fortified stone keep with curved ceilings on the site now occupied by Cameron House. The builders of the keep constructed two secret tunnels as escape routes from the cellar - one landward and the other to the Loch. The cellar is all that remains of the original structure.

By the mid-16th Century the old keep had become a small, square house.

From the beginning of the 16th Century the land had been owned by the Charterises of Amiesfield, who eventually sold it to Dennistoun of Colgrain.

From History of the Family of Dennistoun of Dennistoun Page 15 (See also Pages 9, 11, 14, 16).

Walter Dennistoun (as the name is generally spelt from this time) of Colgrain, on his marriage with Sarah, daughter of Sir Patrick Houston of that Ilk, by Lady Janet Cunningham, 19th December, 1605, was vested by his father in the fee of his lands of Colgrain, two Camis-Eskans, Auchindennan, and Cameron. She brought him a tocher of 6,000 merks, and by his marriage contract he interdicted himself to Sir James Edmondstone of Duntreath, John Houston of that Ilk, Alexander Cunningham of Craigends, and Robert Sempill of Fulwood. He was infeft 12th April, 16 10, in the lands of North and South Kipperminshock, upon a Crown charter, which narrated the immemorial possession of his ancestors therein as "nativi tenantes, rentallatores, et predecessores," in terms of statute 1594, c. 218, by which the production of resignations or precepts of sasine by possession infeft for forty years, is dispensed with. The debts accumulated by his father and grandfather pressed heavily upon Walter, and forced him to alienate several considerable portions of his paternal estate. He resigned the Kipperminshocks in favour of William Hall in 1611, and in 1612, the lands of Cameron were comprised by Alexander Colquhoun of Luss, for the sum of 5,000 pounds Scots.


In time it was purchased by the Colquhouns of Luss, whose family seat, Rossdhu, was the next big house up the Loch.

from William Fraser. The chiefs of Colquhoun and their country; (Volume 2) online Page 16

The lands of Cameron, which were formerly the property of the Colquhouns of Luss, and of which Sir James Colquhoun of Luss is still superior, are situated on the west side of the southern extremity of Lochlomond, in the north part of the parish of Bonhill. To that parish the lands of Cameron were transferred from the parish of Luss in the year 1643. In the year 1612, the lands of Cameron were purchased by Alexander Colquhoun of Luss, who led the Clan Colquhoun at Glenfrew in 1603, from Walter Denniston of Colgrain. They afterwards passed through different hands, till, in the year 1763, they were purchased from Francis Charteris of Amisfield by James Smollett of Bonhill, Commissary of Edinburgh, and Sheriff- depute of Dumbartonshke ; and they have since continued the property of the Smollett family.
After making this purchase, James Smollett took up his residence at Cameron House, preferring it to Bonhill House, which had fallen somewhat into disrepair. Smollett, the celebrated novelist, and the cousin-german of the Commissary Smollett, along with a party of friends, made a tour through the Western Highlands about the middle of the last century, which is chronicled in the amusing pages of the Expedition of Humphry Clinker. In that work a description is given of Cameron House, at which they were hospitably entertained, and of the surrounding scenery, while he objects to its site, as not being sufficiently elevated. " A very little above the source of the Leven, on Lochlomond, stands the house of Cameron, belonging to Mr. Smollett, so embosomed in an oak wood, that we did not see it till we were within fifty yards of the door." " If I was disposed to be critical, I should say this house of Cameron is too near the lake, which approaches, on one side, to within six or seven yards of the window. It might have been placed in a higher site, which would have afforded a more extensive prospect and a drier atmosphere ; but this imperfection is not chargeable on the present proprietor, who purchased it ready built, rather than be at the trouble of repairing his own family house of Bonliill, which stands two miles from hence on the Leven, so surrounded with plantation, that it used to be known by the name of the Mavis (or Thrush) Nest." Smollett adds, " Above that house is a romantic glen or cleft of a mountain, covered with hanging woods, having at bottom a stream of fine water that forms a number of cascades in its descent to join the Leven, so that the scene is quite enchanting. A captain of a man-of-war, who had made the circuit of the globe with Mr. Anson, being conducted to this glen, exclaimed, ' Juan Fernandez, by God!'

The house became synonymous with the Smollets for the best part of 3 centuries. They were a family of merchants and shipbuilders in the town of Dumbarton where they had a mansion house in the High Street.

James Smollett, son of John Smollett Burgess of of Dumbarton purchased Bonhill, an estate in the Vale of Leven, in 1684. James received a knighthood in 1690 from William of Orange and added Dalquhurn to the Smollett portfolio. Sir James Smollett was responsible for drawing up the Act of Union in 1707, under which the Scottish Parliament merged with that of England and Wales. He went on to become the first Westminster MP for the Dumbarton burghs.

People Associated with Cameron House

in chronological order

  • Walter Dennistoun of Colgrain and Donegal 13th Laird, --d. in Donegal 1638; married to 1) Sarah Houston and 2) Grizzel Brisbane.
  • In the year 1612, the lands of Cameron were purchased by Alexander Colquhoun of Luss
  • 1763, they were purchased from Francis Charteris of Amisfield
  • John Smollett, Burgess of Dumbarton an of Stainflett, his wife Jean, da. of William Bontine of Ardoch
  • Sir James Smollett (c.1648-1731), of Stainflett and Bonhill, Dunbarton; and Edinburgh - Ist Wife Jean (d. ?1696), da. of Aulay MacAulay of Ardincaple, Dunbarton, and 2nd Wife Elizabeth, da. of William Hamilton of Orbiston, Lanark Purchased Cameron House in 1763.

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