THE family name of the House of Blythswood is derived from
Colin Campbell of Elie, a cadet of the House of Ardkinglass in Argyll, who
acquired the estate during the reign of Charles I., but through his
granddaughter and heiress the property passed to the Douglases of Mains in
Dunbartonshire, with whom it has since remained. Sir Archibald Campbell, Bart.,
Baron Blythswood, was the eldest son of Archibald Douglas of Mains, who
succeeded his cousin, Major Campbell, M.P., laird of Blythswood. He was born in
1835, and for a time held a commission in the Scots Guards, being severely
wounded in the Crimea, and seeing further service with his regiment in Canada.
After leaving the army on the death of his father, in 1868, he turned to
politics, and, standing in the Conservative interest, was elected M.P. for
Renfrewshire in 1873, and for the Western Division of the county in 1886. He
continued to represent the division till 1892, when he was raised to the Peerage
as Baron Blythswood. Four years earlier the Senate of Glasgow University
conferred upon him the degree of LL.D., and he had received a baronetcy in 1880.
He was also appointed an aide-de-camp to Queen Victoria. He was Lord-Lieutenant
of the county, had held the office of Convener of the County Council, and for
twenty years, till 1897, was Lieutenant-Colonel of the 4th Battalion Argyll and
In 1864 his Lordship - he was Colonel Campbell then - married a daughter of the late Lord Carrington, and with her he always took a strong interest in the social and philanthropic affairs of Glasgow, and with which his house has long been closely connected. Renfield Street in the city takes its name from the old designation of Blythswood House, and the latter in turn took its present name early in the nineteenth century from the valuable estate belonging to the family which now lies in the heart of Glasgow.
Lord Blythswood took a leading part in the great Glasgow Exhibitions of 1888 and 1901, and on the former occasion entertained Queen Victoria at Blythswood, and on the latter the Duke and Duchess of Fife. Among other distinguished guests who were also entertained by his Lordship were the late Duke of Albany in 1874 and 1882, our present King and Queen and their sons in 1876, and more recently the Prince and Princess of Wales, and the Empress of Russia.
His Lordship was something more than an amateur of science. He devoted much time to engineering and mechanical research, and at Blythswood possessed one of the finest laboratories in the Kingdom. He designed a speed indicator, which is now fitted to ships in His Majesty's Navy; he constructed a dividing engine for ruling diffraction gratings, parallel lines being ruled so close together that there have been 20,000 to an inch; he built the largest statical electrical machine in the world; and he narrowly missed being the discoverer of the Röntgen Rays. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society. He died at Blythswood, 7th July, 1908.
Index of Glasgow Men (1909)