St Giles Cathedral

Memorials and the Thistle Chapel

The principal place of worship of the Church of Scotland in Edinburgh, and for some purposes, in the whole of Scotland, has many reminder's of Edinburgh's India past. Out of one hundred memorials mentioned in official guide books, twenty have clearly stated relations to India.

74th Regiment (Highlanders)

No 17 [northern aisle, western end BLACK 3rd] India, the Peninsula, France, South Africa and Egypt

The74th was raised in 1787, with Archibald Campbell as its colonel and is said to have had more Lowlanders in its ranks than any other highland regiment. Originally this memorial was to have been made of marble, and the regiment commissioned Messrs Alexander Macdonald, Aberdeen, to produce it. However, it was eventually made in bronze, against a granite background. The list of the fallen has the names of thirty-seven officers who had died in the various campaigns, along with the total numbers of the NCOs who had been killed. Included is a reference to those who perished when H.M.S. Birkenhead was wrecked off Danger Point, the Cape of Good Hope, on 26 February 1852, on its way to take troops to fight in the Frontier war in South Africa. The memorial was unveiled in 1886.

(MARSHALL, 2011, p. 20-21)

72nd Regiment (The Duke of Albany's Own Highlanders),

No 18 [northern aisle, western end, TALL WHITE BETWEEN WINDOWS] India

This regiment originated as the 78th but in 1823 it was renamed the Duke of Albany's Own Highlanders. Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany (1763-1827), second son of George III, had become a noted soldier and was founder of Sandhurst Military Academy. In 1866 the regiment, about to leave the garrison at Edinburgh Castle, wished to commemorate comrades who had died in recent campaigns in India. The memorial was produced and signed by Wallace & Co, owners of the Marble Works at Shrub Place, Leith Walk, Edinburgh. A tall, very narrow, white marble tablet with trophies of war perched on top and a gothic arch above the long list of fallen, it was originally in the North Porch, but in 1887 was moved to the nave, to make it more visible.

(MARSHALL, 2011, p. 21)

King's Own Scottish Borderers

No 25 [northern aisle, western end, BRASS BEHIND JOHN KNOX STATUE], India 1875-92

Raised in Edinburgh in 1689, the King's Own Scottish Borderers fought against the Jacobites at the battles of Killiecrankie (1689), Sheriffmuir (1715) and Culloden (1746). They then took part in a number of continental wars, before seeing service in the 2nd Anglo-Afghan War of 1878-80, the 3rd Burma War of 1885-7 and the Chin-Lushai Expedition of 1889-90. This was a campaign in the Chin and Mizo Hills of India intended to bring the area under British control and initiate the construction of a road from India to Burma. Officers of the regiment received permissions to erect this memorial on 19 July 1892, although they were warned that it was not to be considered a precedent for other regiments returning from foreign service without having lost officers and men in battle. Presumably there were no fallen. The designer and manufacturer of the brass plaque are unknown.

(MARSHALL, 2011, p. 29)

Lieutenant John Marriott Aytoun (1833-60)
No 28 [northern porch, BEHIND DOOR CANNOT BE SEEN]

This is one of a group of memorials in the north porch, put up in the nineteenth century before the Chambers restoration. The 5th son of captain Marriot Chadwick Walter Aytoun of the Royal Artillery and his wife Eliza Miller, John Aytoun was a lieutenant in the 94th Regiment of Foot. He was killed in action while advancing at Barra Pass in the Punjab, on 4th May 1860, at the age of twenty-seven, and was buried at Bagiwala Kach, Waziristan. In 1862 lieutenant Ayton's brother officers wrote to Edinburgh Town council asking to put up a memorial to him. The design they submitted was altered by David Cousin, the council architect, and approved on 30 July that year. The white marble mural tablet has a heavy lintel at the top, over a Tudor arch above the short inscription.

(MARSHALL, 2011, p. 32)

Lieutenant George Hill Sprot (1829-49)

No 29 [northern porch, BEHIND DOOR CANNOT BE SEEN]

George Hill Sprot was a Lieutenant in the 2nd European Bengal Fusiliers, the only Scottish officer of five who were killed in action at Gujrat on 21 February 1849, in the closing battle of the Punjab War. In 1851, Mark Sprot of Garnkirk sent a letter to Edinburgh Town Council saying that his twenty-year-old son had so endeared himself to his brother officers that they wished to erect a tablet in his memory in any place in Scotland that his parents cared to choose. They therefore hoped to put it up in St Giles'. Made of white marble, it had a small carved head of the deceased, in low relief, and is the work of Sir John Steell, the famous sculptor responsible for the 1852 statue of the Duke of Wellington on horseback, at the east end of Princes Street, Edinburgh. 

(MARSHALL, 2011, p. 32-33)

Major General Sir Henry Dick K.C.B. of Tullymet (1788-1846)

No 30 [northern porch, BEHIND DOOR CANNOT BE SEEN]

Henry Dick for fourteen years commanded the 42nd Royal Highlanders (the Black Watch) and was with them in the Peninsula and at Waterloo. He was awarded the Austrian Order of Maria Theresa and was made a knight of the Russian Order of Vladimir. On 10 February 1846 he was killed in the First Anglo -Sikh War, at the battle of Sobroan on the banks of the Sutlej, 'in the moment of victory', having led his division of the 80th Regiment in an assault on the entrenched Sikh camp there. He was buried at Ferozopore, where his gravestone records these details. His elaborate white marble memorial in St. Giles', by an unknown sculptor, was erected by officers of the 42nd Highlanders, as a tribute of the high esteem and regard they entertained for him as a kind friend and a gallant soldier'. There is another memorial to him in Dunkeld Cathedral.

(MARSHALL, 2011, p. 33)

Captain James Ranald Burt (1811-46)

No 33 [northern transept, HIGH UP ABOVE ON WALL]

The son of Robert Burt, apothecary in Edinburgh and his wife Louise McDonald, James Ranald Burt was born on 27th May 1811. A captain in the East India Company's 6th Regiment of the Bengal Light Cavalry, he died at Ferozopore, on the Indo-Pakistan [sic.] border, on 8 May 1846. His white marble monument was erected by his brother officers, 'as a memorial of their sorrow for the death of one who possessed their regard and esteem, one whose high principles and chivalrous, and a pride to the corps to which he belonged.' The sculptor is unknown.

(MARSHALL, 2011, p. 35)

Lieutenant J. Thomson (-1871)

No 34 [northern transept, HIGH UP ABOVE ON WALL]

Lieutenant and adjutant in the Duke of Albany's own Highlanders, a regiment in which he had served for thirty years, the beginning as a private, Thomson died after a fall from his horse when on parade at Umballah, India, on 3rd May 1871. The year after his death, the non-commissioned officers and privates of his regiment requested permission to erect a memorial, 'in testimony of his unequalled qualities and kindness, both as a man and a soldier'. On 19 July 1872, Edinburgh Town Council agreed that it should be placed in St. Giles'. David Cousin, the city architect, had already approved the design, which was by James MacNought. Made by A. Wallace & Company, Shrub Place Marble Works, Leith Walk, it consists of a marble tablet surmounted by draped helmet and sword.

(MARSHALL, 2011, p. 35-36)

The Very Reverend James Nicoll Ogilvie (1860-1926)

No 47 [northern aisle, eastern end, STONE OBLONG]

James Ogilvie, born in Monymusk, the son of an Aberdeen headmaster, was ordained in 1885, and appointed chaplain on the Indian Ecclesiastical Establishment, Madras.  He remained in India until 1904, after which he became minister of New Greyfriars' Parish, Edinburgh (1905-1919). He was moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1918. From 1909-1925 he was Convener of the Missions Committee. He was president of the Presbyterian Alliance (1925-26). His publications included 'Women of the Covenant '1912, and 'The Apostles of India: St Thomas to Modern Times' (1915). Sir Robert Lorimer designed his stone memorial tablet which was initially rejected by the managing board on the ground that Ogilvie was not a figure of national importance. However, they were persuaded otherwise and it was unveiled on 31 March 1928, by the right reverend Dr Norman Maclean, moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

(MARSHALL, 2011, p. 50)

Monteith Brothers

ABOVE OGILVIE is the memorial window

in Memory of James Monteith Merchant Calcutta/ Born at Thornhill 1807 Died at London 1872/Erected by his Brother Duncan Monteith 1874.’

This window was installed in 1874.


in memory of Duncan Monteith/Merchant Calcutta born at Thornhill 1812/ died at Edinburgh 1879/ Erected by his daughters/ Margaret Agnes and Sibla 1881.’

Monteith & Co. were Saddlers, Harness and Boot Makers and General Leather Merchants, Calcutta; J. Monteith & Co., 48, Cossitollah and 21, Old Court House Street

Brigadier-General Francis Aylmer Maxwell VC, C.S.I., D.S.O. (1871-1917)

No 49 [northern aisle, eastern end, WHITE MARBLE OVER BOOKSTALL]

Francis Maxwell was born on 7th September 1871, the son of surgeon-major Thomas Maxwell. He joined the Indian Staff Corps on 15th December 1893 and served on the North-West Frontier, where he earned the D.S.O. He then took part in the Boer war with such conspicuous bravery that on, 29 March 1901, at the age of twenty-nine, he was awarded the Victoria Cross. During World War I he commanded the 12th battalion of the Middlesex Regiment and on 21 September 1917 he was killed in action near Ypres. His marble memorial designed by the architect, Arthur C. Martin describes him as a gallant soldier and very perfect gentleman, beloved by all his men'. Beneath are representations of his three medals: the V.C. on the left, the Companion of the Star of India in the Centre and the D.S.O. on the right.

(MARSHALL, 2011, p. 51)

Church of Scotland and United Free Church ordained ministers and chaplains, World War I (1914-18)

No 58 [northern aisle, Holy Cross Aisle end, WOODEN BOARD AT THE END]

In 1920 the joint committee of the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church erected this memorial to more than a hundred ministers, chaplains, probationers and students of divinity who fell in WWI, some of them described as combatant. The names include those of the Reverend Matthew Marshall, who also features on the WWI congregational memorial and Professor John Dall, Canada. A native of Cupar, Fife and graduate of St Andrews University, Dall occupied the chair of Church History at Queen's Theological College, Kingston Ontario but in 1915 he returned to Scotland, to enlist in the Highland light infantry. He died of illness at Secunderabad, India on 12th October 1918. Designed by Messrs Begg and Lorne Campbell architects, the oak memorial includes the Church of Scotland's emblem of the burning bush, above a large cross. Among those present at the unveiling by George 5th Duke of Sutherland, High Commissioner to the General Assembly, was the Edinburgh born Randall Davidson, Archbishop of Canterbury.

(MARSHALL, 2011, p. 61)

Wellesley Baillie (1846-1937)

No 59 [eastern end, over the stairs, AT TURN OF STEPS WITH SYMBOL STATUE]

St Giles is the patron saint of lepers and so in March 1987, the leprosy mission applied to erect in the cathedral a memorial to their founder, Wellesley Baillie. Born in Ireland he first became aware of the problem of leprosy in 1869, when he visited his brother in India. Inspired to found the mission shortly afterwards, he returned to that country in 1875 as a lay missionary with the Church of Scotland. However, in 1886 he became the leper mission's full-time secretary, extending its activities to Burma and China, and touring the world to lecture about leprosy. He died at the age of 91. The memorial designed by James Simpson, the cathedral architect, with lettering by Dick Reid, consists of the leprosy Mission logo in metal, with a separate oval stone plaque bearing the inscription.

(MARSHALL, 2011, p. 62)

General Sir John Ewart 1821-1904
No 86 [south west central pillar, north face]

John Ewart was the son of Lieutenant-General John Frederick Ewart. Educated at Sandhurst, he was commissioned in 1838 in the 35th (Royal Sussex) Regiment, transferring to the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders in 1846. He took part in the battle of the Alma and the siege of Sevastopol during the Crimean war and was decorated by the Piedmontese, the French and the Turks. While in India in 1857 he lost his left arm to cannon shot at Cawnpore. He reached the rank of lieutenant-general in 1877, commanding the Allahabad division of the Indian Army from 1877-9. He became a general in 1884 and a knight of the Order of the Bath in 1887. In 1911 his son, major-general John Spencer Ewart, put up this bronze memorial with Sir John's enamelled coat of arms at the top left. 

(MARSHALL, 2011, p. 84)

The 93rd Sutherland Highlanders, Indian Mutiny 1857-8

No 96 [west wall, south of door, UP WITH TWO STATUES]

The 93rd Sutherland Highlanders were recruited in 1799, almost entirely from the estates of the Countess of Sutherland. Having served in the Crimea in 1854, they arrived in Calcutta in 1857 to take part in the attempt to relieve Lucknow. It had been captured by Bengal soldiers of the East India Company army who were rebelling against British rule, in the episode known as the Indian Mutiny. Lucknow finally fell to the British forces in March 1858. The white marble monument with its two free standing highlanders flanking the central obelisk is signed and dated 1864 by the well known sculptor, William Brodie. There is no list of the 171 fallen, but the numbers of the different casualties are recorded, 84 having died of sickness. Originally the memorial stood in the north porch but in 1887 it was moved to its present site, to make it more visible.

(MARSHALL, 2011, p. 90)

The 78th Highland Regiment 1844-5

No 97 [west wall, south of door, BELOW No 96]

The 78th Highland Regiment of Foot was raised in 1793 by Colonel Francis Mackenzie. In 1843 it was stationed at Poona, India but in April it was ordered to Sukkur in the Sindh province. There on the banks of the Indus it suffered terrible losses, but not in battle but from cholera and malaria contracted during the long march through swamps and wasteland. Probably the oldest memorial in the cathedral, it is by Sir John Steell and was erected in 1850. To the right of the mourning women, a sword is entwined with a branch of the upas tree. The source of a highly toxic poison, the branch symbolises the deadly infections which killed not only 498 soldiers but forty-seven women and 14 children from their families.

(MARSHALL, 2011, p. 92)

General Sir William Stephen Alexander Lockhart (1841-1900)

No 98 [west wall, south of door, IN THE MIDDLE]

Son of a Lanarkshire minister, the Reverend Lawrence Lockhart, the general joined the 44th Bengal Native Infantry when he was seventeen and had a long career in the Indian army, reaching the rank of general in 1896 and becoming its greatest expert on frontier warfare. He was at the Indian mutiny, the Bhutan campaign and served in the second Anglo-Afghan war 1878-80. He also received the Royal Humane Society bronze medal for rescuing two women from drowning in Morar Lake Gwalior in 1869. His final position was that of commander-in-chief of British forces in India. His widow, Mary Katherine Eccles, Lady Lockhart commissioned the white and green Irish marble memorial with its carved portrait of the general from Sir George Frampton, sculptor of the famous Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens London. It was unveiled in 1909 in his presence.

(MARSHALL, 2011, p. 92-93)

92nd Gordon Highlanders

No 99 [west wall, south of door, ON THE RIGHT], Afghanistan and South Africa

The Gordon Highlanders were raised on 10th February 1894 by Alexander 4th Duke of Gordon. In 1879 they were sent to fight the 2nd Afghan war, taking part in the twenty-three day march from Kabul to relieve the British in Kandahar, a distance of some three hundred miles. Immediately afterwards, they were sent to South Africa, where they suffered heavy casualties in the defeat at the battle of Majuba in 1881. The 1889 memorial has two female figures in classical dress, one holding a wreath and representing victory, the other with a torch, at their feet lies a wounded highlander, round the bronze plaque is a broad frame of polished brass, and the memorial is set against a reddish marble panel. There is no list of the fallen.

(MARSHALL, 2011, p. 94)

Further reading:

MARSHALL, Rosalind K. (2011): A Guide to the Memorials in St. Giles' Cathedral Edinburgh. Edinburgh: Rosalind K. Marshall.

Thistle Chapel

The Thistle Chapel is a separate part in the South East corner of the St Giles Cathedral. It is dedicated to Scotland highest order of knighthood the Order of the Thistle, and several of its members (KTs) had connections to India.

The stalls are numbered starting on your right as you enter and going counter clockwise up to stall 13 by the right side of the apse continuing on the left side from Stalls 14 to 19 back by the door. 

The armorial plates on the back of each stall are numbered thus.

6 - 3 - 9

5 - 1 - 8

4 - 2 - 7

They indicate past and present occupants of each stall.

Stallplate 2/1 (stall 2 plate 1) –

HRH the Prince Arthur William Patrick Albert Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, KT 1869,  Third son of Queen Victoria 1850-1942, Lt in the Riffle Brigade 1869 serving at home, Gibraltar, Egypt, Bengal, Ireland. 1893 General, 1902 Field Marshall (BURNETT & HODGSON, 2001, p. 20)

Stallplate 1/1 –

John Douglas Sutherland Campbell, 9th Duke of Argyll KT 1871 (1845-1914) As Marques of Lorne he entered parliament as the MP (liberal) for Argyllshire. For three years he was private secretary to the Secretary of State for India, his father. In March 1871 he married HRH the Princess Louise 4th daughter of Queen Victoria hence KT. (BURNETT & HODGSON, 2001, p. 22)

Stallplate 17/1 –

William Montague Hay, 10th Marquess of Tweedale KT 1898 (1826-1911). After his education was completed he went to India and was there during the Mutiny. Having made one of the earliest journeys into Tibet he then entered the Indian Civil Service. In 1865 he returned to the UK and became liberal MP for Taunton. 1878 he succeeded to the titles after the death of his brother and lived at Yester House Gifford. (BURNETT & HODGSON, 2001, p. 36)

Stallplate 16/1 –

Donald James Mackay, 11th Lord Reay, and Baron Reay (KT 1911) (1839-1921). 1885-90 Governor of Bombay. In commemoration of his services a statue was erected in Bombay in 1895. 1892 vice president of the Royal Asiatic Society.  (BURNETT & HODGSON, 2001, p. 56)

Stallplate 13/1 –

Field Marshall Douglas Haig KT 1917 (1861-1928). Entered 7th Hussars in 1885 service in Egypt 1897-8, India 1903, Director Military Training 1906, India 1909-11 etc. (BURNETT & HODGSON, 2001, p. 68)

Stallplate 18/1 –

Ronald Crauford Munro-Ferguson, Viscount Novar (KT 1926) (1860-1934). Served with Viceroy Lord Rosebery in India.  (BURNETT & HODGSON, 2001, p. 80)

Stallplate 13/2 –

Victor Alexander John Hope, 2nd Marquess of Linlithgow KT 1928 (1887-1952). Chairman of the Royal Commission on Agriculture in India 1926-8. Chairman of the Committee on Indian Constitutional Reform 1933-4. Viceroy and Governor-General of India 1936-43, during a period of exceptional stress and difficulty. In the face of many problems- Indian as well as the Second World War- he exhibited strength cool judgement and resolution. (BURNETT & HODGSON, 2001, p. 86)

Stallplate 17/2 –

Sir Donald Walter Cameron of Lochiel KT 1934 (1876-1951). Grenadier Guards, ADC to the Governor of Madras in 1900. Then to South African War severely wounded in 1902. (BURNETT & HODGSON, 2001, p. 100)

Stallplate 19/3 –

Philip Henry Kerr, 11th Marquess of Lothian KT 1940 (1882-1940). In 1931-2 he became involved in matters of state relating to India. (BURNETT & HODGSON, 2001, p. 112)

Stallplate 17/3 –

Douglas Douglas-Hamilton, 14th Duke of Hamilton and 11th Duke of Brandon KT 1952 (1903-1973). 1933 first man to fly over Mount Everest. (BURNETT & HODGSON, 2001, p. 128)

Stallplate 13/3 –

Alexander Steven Bilsland, Baron Bilsland of Kinrara KT 1955 (1892-1970). Director of Burmah Oil Company Ltd. (BURNETT & HODGSON, 2001, p. 134)

Stallplate 11/3 –

John Charles Walsham Reith, Baron Reith of Stonehaven KT 1969 (1889-1971). In 1938 he became Chairman of Imperial Airways [the first to fly Britain to India] , which in 1939 it became British Overseas Airways Corporation to 1940. (BURNETT & HODGSON, 2001, p. 154)

Stallplate 19/5 –

General sir Richard Nugent O’Connor KT 1971 (1889-1981). Born in Srinagar, Kashmir, India in August 1889. Served on the North West Frontier between the wars. (BURNETT & HODGSON, 2001, p. 160)

Stallplate 10/5 –

Marshal of the Royal Air Force Neil Cameron Baron Cameron of Balhousie KT 1983 (1920-1985). In WW2 he commanded a squadron in Burma where he was decorated for his outstanding leadership. (BURNETT & HODGSON, 2001, p. 188)

Stallplate 10/6 –

David George Coke Patrick Oilvy 13th Earl of Airlie KT 1985 (1926-). Scots Guards ADC to C-in-C in Malaya, but resigned his commission in 1950. (BURNETT & HODGSON, 2001, p. 192)


BURNETT, Charles J & HODGSON, Leslie (2001): Stall Plates of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle in the Chapel of the Order within St Giles Cathedral, The High Kirk of Edinburgh. Edinburgh: The Heraldry Society of Scotland.