Macalister of Loup and Kennox

On this day in 1792, Charles McAlester, 12th of Loup, married Janet Somerville, heiress to the Ayrshire estate of Kennox near Stewarton. In 1805, Charles adopted the name and arms of Somerville and was thereafter known as Charles Somerville McAlester of Loup and Kennox. The name Somerville has been used in the Loup family ever since. Charles and Janet inherited the Kennox estate on the death of her mother and settled in Ayrshire.

Any marriage is of significance to the parties involved, but this particular marriage has greater significance in the history of the Macalisters. The Wikipedia article on Kennox House says “the McAlester’s [sic] were Jacobites and had lost their estates and money after 1745, however this marriage restored their fortunes.” Although it is certainly true that the Loup family were Jacobites, and it’s possible that they suffered forfeiture like other supporters of the Stuart family, by the late 18th century they had long since been restored to possession of their estates. But like other old families of Kintyre, regardless of political persuasion, the McAlesters of Loup had fallen on difficult times. Shortly after this marriage, the family’s debts required that their estates be turned over to trustees of their creditors, and by 1800 all of their lands had been sold. Charles’s marriage to an Ayrshire heiress did indeed restore the Loup family’s fortunes, but it also took them permanently out of Kintyre. 

Once established in Kennox, Charles quickly made himself a part of Stewarton society. He served in the Ayrshire Militia and held several civic appointments, such as Justice of the Peace, Deputy Lieutenant and Land Tax Commissioner for the county.[1] In 1839, he and Janet attended the tournament at Eglinton Castle – by all accounts the social event of the decade, with guests like the future Napoleon III of France; Charles served as one of the stewards at the banquet which followed.[2] In 1845, the New Statistical Account names four modern buildings in the parish of Stewarton as being “most worthy of notice” – one of these is that owned by Col. M’Alister of Kennox.[3]

Copyright (c) Lynn McAlister, 2012

[1]“A Collection of the Public General Statutes Passed in the Sixth and Seventh Year of the Reign of His Majesty King William the Fourth, 1836”, Cap. LXXX., pp. 593-4.
[2]According to Wikipedia, this information is provided in Accounts of the Tournament at Eglinton Castle in August 1839. Vol. II. p. 73; I have not yet obtained this publication. An interesting account of the tournament – from its conception to its aftermath – is Ian Anstruthers’ The Knight and the Umbrella (Sutton Publishing, 1986); McAlester’s attendance is listed there as well.
[3]County of Ayr, parish of Stewarton, pp. 732, 734

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