Colonel John Holmes Houston Gammell
John Holmes Houston Gammell was the 4th son of Captain James Gammell of Ardiffery and his wife Sydney Holmes. He was born at Beech Hill Donoughmore, Co. Down on 12 September 1830 and like his brothers went to Edinburgh Academy for his education, where he attended from 1841 to 1846 in Classes 1-5.


Like so many of the Gammells of that time, he too chose the Army as a career and was gazetted in 1847.  He soldiered in Greece, 

Malta, Gibraltar, South Africa and India, but only seems to have seen action once in the 30 years he served, in the North-West Frontier (what is now Pakistan).  His service record was as follows:



76th Foot 

Ensign (by purchase)


22nd Foot          

Lieutenant (by purchase)


63rd Foot       

Captain (by purchase)


9th Foot          

Captain (by exchange)


9th Foot                            

Major (without purchase)


54th Foot (West Norfolks)

Major (by exchange)


54th Foot (West Norfolks)

Lt Colonel (by brevet)



Honorary Colonel


In 1883, he inherited under deed of entail, the estates of Lethendy and Whitewell in Perthshire from his uncle Andrew Gammell of Drumtochty. As there was no house to live in on the estate, he built a substantial residence in the Scottish baronial style, which he called 'The Tower of Lethendy', and there he resided until his death in 1902, by which time he had become a local JP, County Councillor and Parish Councillor and Captain of the Blairgowrie Golf Club for a term.


John, who was almost universally known as 'The Colonel', led a typical bachelor life at Lethendy, surrounded by dogs, and enjoying the usual country pursuits. He kept a good table and was a generous host. He was a frequent visitor to Drumtochty and particularly enjoyed the shooting parties that took place there.


John H H Gammell (F Gourlay)

During the last years of his life, he did not enjoy good health, and it was at Droitwich, where he had gone to take the waters, that he died on 3 February 1902. At his specific request his body was taken back to Lethendy, and he was buried in the churchyard there. The will contained the following instructions for his funeral: “…which I desire should be carried out as inexpensively as possible to the kirkyard of Lethendy where I wish my body to be interred.  I desire that no flowers be used at the funeral and that a good lunch be provided afterwards in the Tower…”


The estate of Lethendy and Whitewell, he left to his nephew Sydney James Gammell - he had broken the entail left by his uncle, in 1889. He also left the contents of his house to Sydney James.  All his silver and plate went to his nephews Hector and Kensington, sons of his brother Harcourt, and the residue including all shares and investments to Sydney Albert Wharton Gammell, only son of his youngest brother Albert. Sydney Albert was also appointed his sole executor.