Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham
In any account of the Lairds and Barons of Ardoch, pride of place must be given to Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham, ‘Don Roberto’, 19th Laird (1852-1936). He occupies a renowned place in Scottish history, literature and civic life, as adventurer, writer and political reformer.
Don Roberto was one of a kind, and it is not possible to place him in any narrow slot. Among his many distinctions he was a Liberal Party Member of Parliament; the first-ever socialist member of the Parliament of the United Kingdom; a founder (with Keir Hardie) and first president of the Scottish Labour Party; a founder of the National Party of Scotland in 1928; and the first president of the Scottish National Party in 1934. He was also one of Scotland’s landed gentry, owning thousands of acres in his estates of Gartmore and Ardoch.
In his study at Ardoch there are first editions of all of his 36 books and translations, together with a rare original copy of his political ‘penny pamphlet’, Economic Evolution.
He died in Argentina in 1936, where his body lay in state for 24 hours, while a constant stream of people, including the President of the Republic, filed reverently by. Thousands lined the streets of Buenos Aires as the coffin made its last journey back to Ardoch, where it rested in the oval drawing room and where the funeral took place, prior to burial at Inchmahome Priory on the Lake of Menteith.
On the East wall of Ardoch House, just outside his study, there are two memorial plaques, one dated 1937 from his friends in Argentina, the other dated 1975 from the Argentine Ambassador.