Maj Andrew Gammell
Maj Andrew Gammell
Andrew Gammell was the 7th child and 3rd son of Lt. General Andrew Gammell and Martha Stageldoir. He was born in London on 12 October 1803 and baptised on 6 September 1804 in St Giles in the Fields. We know nothing of his early education, and the first record we have is his appointment from The Royal Military College, to the 49th Regiment as an Ensign in 17 August 1820. The 49th was the regiment of his brother-in-law Captain Morton and no doubt he arranged this appointment, as Andrew's father had died some five years before this date. On 12 May 1825 he was promoted Lieutenant (by Purchase); on 22 April 1826 he was appointed to 28th Regiment (Lieut.). On 19 September 1826 he was promoted Captain (by Purchase) and retired on half pay. He acquired the rank of Major in 1842, after his retirement.
Andrew's retirement in 1826 was no doubt due to the fact that on the death of his grandfather, James Gammell the banker, in the autumn of 1825, he found himself heir to the main family properties namely Drumtochty, Countesswells and Lethendy - but only for his lifetime. On Andrew's death, unless he had children, Drumtochty and Countesswells were to go to the family of Lord Forbes, presumably in compensation for the refusal of James, Andrew's elder brother to marry Lord Forbes’ daughter, Charlotte. Lethendy was to go to the son of James the Banker's old friend, James Anderson.
As he was unmarried, this requirement was a serious issue. However, his lawyer James White, of the firm of Davidson and Garden of Aberdeen, advised Andrew that, in his view, there was a flaw in his grandfather's will, and that he was in fact owner in fee simple of all the estates.
Legal action was instituted and the case was fiercely fought by the Forbes family, with the issue finally reaching the House of Lords, but Andrew won his case in the end, and with the exception of one small property, known as Shillagreen, was declared absolute owner of all the other properties. The case of Lethendy is more obscure, as this property was not destined for the Forbes family anyway, but there is a document in the family papers under which James Anderson, then a merchant in London, and to whom the property was left on Andrew's death, gives up any claim to the property of Lethendy, but whether this was the result of Andrew buying him out, or was the result of a legal tussle is unclear. As a reward for his services Andrew granted James White the feu of Dalhibity on the Countesswells estate at a peppercorn rent.
In his younger days Andrew spent a proportion of each year at Drumtochty, although his main home was in the St George Hanover Square area of London. He never married, and as he grew older his visits to Drumtochty became less frequent, and during the last twenty years of his life he seldom if ever visited Scotland. He spent considerable money on Drumtochty, but is believed to have been, especially as he grew older, somewhat eccentric. For example it is reported that he always kept a number of thoroughbred horses at Drumtochty, but they were never broken in; he never allowed heather burning on the hill, nor were any grouse to be shot, over and above those required for his own table. His annual rent roll was estimated to be over £8000, so there was no shortage of cash to indulge these idiosyncrasies.
In 1841 Andrew matriculated Arms and was granted a coat by The Lyon King in Edinburgh; “Argent a Cheveron betwixt three Hearts fessways in chief Gules joined and pierced by a Chain Azure and in base a Branch of Laurel proper with a Sword disposed saltireways of the third hilted and pommelled Or. Above the Shield is placed a helmet befitting his decree with a Mantling gules doubled argent and upon a Wreath argent and azure as chosen by the Patentee for his Liveries is set for Crest a Pelican with wings displayed pierced by an Arrow from behind all proper and on an escrol underneath the Shield is inscribed this Motto "MORIENS SED INVICTUS".”
In 1875, Andrew executed a deal of entail over his properties, under which he 'disposed the lands and estates of Drumtochty and Countesswells to himself, whom failing to his nephew The Revd. James Stewart Gammell and the heirs male of his body, the heirs of entail being obliged to bear and use and retain the surname of Gammell of Drumtochty and Countesswells.' At the same time, he entailed the estates of Lethendy and Whitewell to his nephew John Holmes Houston Gammell and heirs male of his body.
Andrew died on 18 March 1883 at Edwards Hotel, George St, Hanover Square in London and is buried in Kensal Green Cemetery. In a codicil to his will, he requested that immediately after his death, a post-mortem be carried out by Dr. Barnard Holt or other eminent surgeon to see if he be really dead, and that a fee of 100 guineas be paid for such examination. The last quirk of his eccentricity perhaps! In his will, proved at over £100,000, he left a sum of £10,000 to his nephew Harcourt T. Gammell and a sum of £5,000 to his nephew John H.H. Gammell who had in addition, as noted above, also received the estates of Lethendy and Whitewell under the Deed of Entail. After various other fairly substantial legacies, including £5,000 each to the five children of his eldest brother William's son Andrew, the residue probably amounting to some £50,000 went to the Revd. James S. Gammell, who also as stated above, inherited the estates of Drumtochty and Countesswells under the deed of entail.