William Wallace, Guardian of Scotland and victor at the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297, is thought to have taken refuge in Balglass Castle when being hunted by Edward I.
Rob Roy McGregor
Rob Roy McGregor, romanticised by Sir Walter Scott in his Waverley novels, visited Fintry several times. He did so in raids at Broomhole Farm, to take rent money from the local factor, and likely came often to Balglass Castle from visits to Edinbellie Castle across the valley.
John Napier often stayed at his son Robert’s home, Culcreuch Castle, in the 1600s. John was the inventor of Logarithms (originally Napier’s Bones). He was feared as a magician and sorcerer. Edinburgh’s Napier University is named after him.
Peter McNee 1769 - 1846
Peter was born in Croftinstilly, like his brother Daniel. A man of many mysteries. His birth year is a guess and seems wrong. He was a teacher in Glasgow and a supporter of the ideas of the French revolution. He claims to have enrolled in the French army and to have risen through the ranks to become Marshall Nee of France, Napoleon’s right hand man. He says he faked his execution and was secretly transported to the USA where he became a teacher. Books detail all his claims and experiences and a museum in Carolina is dedicated to him.
Sir Daniel Macnee 1806-1882
Born in Croftinstilly Fintry. He became a well respected and fashionable portrait painter, living in Glasgow’s West Regent Street, then Edinburgh. In 1876 he was elected President of the prestigious The Royal Scottish Academy – Scotland’s foremost Academy of Art in Edinburgh. He was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1877. His works are displayed in The National Portrait Gallery, London and the National Gallery of Scotland.
Sir Walter Menzies MP 1856-1913
He was member of Parliament for South Lanarkshire from 1910 until his death. He owned Culcreuch castle and estate and erected a fountain in the village in 1902 to celebrate the coronation of Edward VII. He built the Menzies Hall to celebrate the coming of age of his son, James in 1907.
Tom Johnston MP 1881 - 1965
He lived at 99 Main Street and then moved to Holm Cottage at the Clachan area. He became Secretary of State for Scotland in WW2 working closely with Churchill. He was known as Scotland’s most respected citizen. He helped hide the crown jewels in the war and was the founder chairman of the Scottish Tourist Board. He also established the Scottish Hydro Electric Board.
Right Hon Julian Smith MP
Born 1971. His family home is Croftinstillie (See McNee stories above.) Julian attended Fintry Primary and Balfron High. He was Secretary of State for Northern Ireland from 2019 to 2020. He was highly praised by all parties for his role in securing a cross-party deal to restore the Northern Ireland Executive after three years without a devolved government in Stormont. He was Government Chief Whip under Theresa May and has served as MP for Skipton and Ripon since 2010.
Colonel Tom Riddell 1905 - 1998
Selected to run for UK for 1932 Olympics and 1930 Empire Games, but he had to reject both because of work commitments. Died at 92 , then Britain’s oldest surviving international athlete. He lived at the Millhouse then Gonachan Cottage. He was a Shettleston Harrier and a pace-setter for his University pal, Eric Liddell, Olympic medallist and hero of the film, Chariots of Fire.
Field Marshall Montgomery won good money betting on Tom in a race. Riddell was approached by Rudolph Hess in Munich who wanted to meet Tom. In an ironic moment Tom gave his brother a rifle he had found at Dunkirk, as his brother had no weapons in the Home Guard. When Hess landed at Eaglesham he was detained at the point of the very same gun. He didn’t know that it had no bullets.
Victor Carin 1933-1981
Lived at 99 Main Street. He was a frequent face on stage and television as an actor. He played Inspector Mackenzie in the BBC series Sutherland’s Law and also appeared in Coronation Street, Sunset Song and Dr Who amongst other productions.
He was a very successful playwright and did translations in Scots comic form of European classic plays such as Moliere’s The Imaginary Invalid into The Hypochondriac. He wrote A Servant of’ Twa Maisters and The Chippit Chantie among others. He was a Director at the Gateway Theatre Company, Perth Rep and Royal Lyceum.
Jimmy Logan 1928-2001
Often spent summer months on holiday in Fintry staying at Woodfoot, also known as Camallt, just up from the Gonachan Bridge. He was a hugely successful Scottish actor, comedian, tv star, film star and impresario.
Born in 1972. He began his rugby with Strathendrick RFC here in Fintry. He went on to play for Scotland at all levels. He also played as an amateur for West of Scotland and Melrose. As a professional he played for Glasgow Caledonians in 1998 and for Treviso Italy, Leicester Tigers and Yorkshire Carnegie.
David Bowie 1947-2016
Bowie stayed for 4 nights at Culcreuch Castle in June 1978, before it was a hotel. He was appearing at the Glasgow Apollo on his first visit in 5 years. He loved coming to Glasgow, but Fintry gave him some peace from fans. He came with his first wife and 7 year old son, Zowie. The Waddell family owned the tearoom at Fintry Cross at the time. Bowie came in very quietly with a small group and asked for table in the corner. At first staff didn’t recognise him as they served him a cream tea. Then they realised just who he was! Bowie sold over 100 million records worldwide.
Eric McCredie 1945-2007
Eric was the bassist of Scottish pop group Middle Of The Road. He lived for a number of years in Menzies Drive, Fintry. The group had the 1971 UK No.1 single ‘Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep’ which is one of only a few singles to have sold in excess of 10 million physical copies. Other Europe and worldwide hits included Soley Soley, Tweedle Dee Tweedle Dum, Sacramento and Samson and Delilah. The parties in Menzies Drive are another story!