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Oct 30 1965 Saturday


Second of two articles by Marjorie Freeman Campbell

For a century and a quarter Hamilton's '400' has been aware of the connection between the British royal family and the household of Barton Lodge, formerly situated on the Mountain brow west of the present Ontario Hospital site.

Yet in Tory and royalist Hamilton no printed world concerning this appeared. Nevertheless the tradition is strong.

The exact date when Isabella Hyde married John Lionel Whyte in a union believed predetermined by the Duke of Kent is not known. It is known, however, that their only child, Emily Esther Elizabeth, the future Mrs. Gourlay, was born in 1818, one year before the infant Victoria, her presumed half-aunt to whom she bore a remarkable likeness.

Links Vanish

How the latter birth came about is a story too well known to require retelling here--the death in child-birth of Princess Charlotte, daughter of the Prince Regent and heir presumptive to the British throne, and the separation of the Duke of Kent and Julie to permit the marriage for dynastic reasons of the Duke to Victoria Maria Louisa, daughter of the Duke of Saxe--Saalfeld--Coburg.

On May 24, 1819, the desired heir to the British throne was born in Kensington Palace--the infant Alexandrina Victoria, the future Queen Victoria, greatest of British monarchs.

Eight months later her father, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, died of pleurisy at the age of 52.

Systematically the widowed Duchess of Kent and later her daughter, Queen Victoria, set about destroying every evidence that linked husband and father with the charming Julie. So successful were they that it is unlikely the story will ever be authentically assembled.

Maria Louisa could have forgiven the Duke of Kent a number of impermanent affairs. Far more wounding to her self esteem was her husband's lifelong and contented attachment to one woman.

Anxious to save Victoria embarrassment, the sweet tempered Julie dispatched to the court through a friend her correspondence with the Duke. After the letters reached Victoria's hands they were never seen again.

Similarly, when Colonel de Salaberry in Quebec arranged, annotated and forwarded to London for publication the voluminous correspondence of the Duke and de Salaberry he was later informed that the file had been completely destroyed in a fire.

Family histories of descendants abound too in tales of vanished documents, some even seized by force.

Name Change

When one also considers that throughout Victoria's reign biographers and historians found it expedient to omit all mention of Julie from their works, the difficulty of tracing and proving descent becomes apparent.

In the case of Hamilton's Isabella Hyde and her descendents some questions will probably never be answered.

Why did James Whyte, of Newmains, who belonged to the old and distinguished Houson-Craufurd family, and his sons, including James Matthew and John Lionel--husband of Isabella--reportedly change their name to Whyte upon receipt of estates in Jamaica?

According to the inscription on his tombstone still standing north of St. Paul's Presbyterian Church on James Street South, James Matthew Whyte, Esq. was "formerly Captain in the 1st (or the King's) Dragoon Guards and subsequently Lieutenant-Colonel of the Surrey Regiment of Horse; one of His Majesty's Privy Council and a Justice of Assize in the Island of Jamaica."

Why did James Matthew leave his honourable estate (and estates) in Jamaica in 1830 to come to this community and settle as a gentleman in the comparative wilderness of Hamilton Mountain of that date?


Family legend maintains that the Whyte family was selected by the Duke of Kent to provide a husband and protection for Isabella and that in recognition of this the plantations in Jamaica were bestowed upon them; and that the name change was a further disguise of the Duke's and Julie's firstborn.

In 1827 we have a letter written from Jamaica by bachelor James Matthew to his sister-in-law, Isabella, in her "new house in Chester Street," and sent to "Mrs. John Whyte, care of John Whyte, Esq., 12 Mincing Lane, London."

In his letter James makes no mention of change. If anything his reference to himself as an "expatriated old Batchelor" hints at homesickness. Yet three years later he was established in Upper Canada in a community which had not yet become a town.

He did not come as a businessman to engage in trade or commerce. Closely allied with Sir Allan MacNab and his partner, John O. Hatt of Dundas, James Whyte served as the first president of the Gore District Bank, 1836-'39, which MacNab founded, and his name appears among the original stockholders and on the board of directors of the London and Gore Railway, chartered in March, 1834, also by the initiative of Sir Allan.

Otherwise, a search of county records shows that he devoted himself to the building of Barton Lodge and the deliberate establishment of an extensive estate comprised of over 30 acres of prime mountain edge property, in part containing the site of the later Ontario Hospital; of various lots and buildings below the escarpment; of land at Picton, Ontario; and of insurance, stocks, bonds, and bank shares.

Two Mansions

In 1834 he acquired from Dr. Harmaunus Smith, of Ancaster, the Mountain property on which he built Barton Lodge. One of the earliest descriptions of the historic mansion is dated in the year 1836 by Victor Ross in his "History Of The Canadian Bank Of Commerce."

"On the Mountain over hanging Hamilton are two fine stone mansions belonging to J.M. Whyte and Scott Burn, the former surrounded by an excellent and extensive park fence, and both embracing most comprehensive views of the lake, Burlington canal, the harbor, and a splendid valley, immediately beneath them."

In 1836 Barton Lodge was completed. In 1837 Victoria ascended the throne of Great Britain.

Was it the approaching inevitable sovereignty that sent Isabella and Emily from their comfortable home in Chester Street, London, to live out their generations on Hamilton's Mountain Brow?

Again family tradition speaks. In 1834, says a male descendent, a large sum of Money was deposited in a local bank and from that time forward until some five years before the death of Emily Gourlay, which occurred in 1905, a fixed annual sum was received by the bank. In 1901 Queen Victoria died.

When Isabella came to Barton Lodge is not known. The family says that her furniture paintings, silver, linen were shipped ahead of the family crossing. Possibly she accompanied her appointments.

Following the death of James Whyte in 1843 at the age of 55, Emily and her father, John Whyte, came to the lodge. Recording the visit, Emily has left us a gay and observant diary. Possibly they found Isabella here.

After a sojourn of unknown duration they returned to England.

'Pure Air

In 1846 we have a lengthy letter from John O. Hatt addressed to John Whyte at the same 12 Mincing Lane, which reports on various family properties, discusses political matters and ends:

"I must now conclude by tendering my best regards to Mrs. Whyte and Miss Whyte in which Mrs. Hatt most cordially joins me, as also to you. The Baby is astonishingly improved from the pure air Barton Lodge, as well as Captain Stewart and his family."

Who were the visitors at Barton Lodge? In the diary of Sophia MacNab, young daughter of Sir Allan, we discover under the date of June 29, 1846:

"Aunt Maria is still on the Mountain and thinks of staying there until August. We took tea with Aunt Maria. Spent a pleasant evening with Aunt Lucy, Mrs. Hunt, Aunt Ann, Annette and baby."

Amongst family names she lists separately, "Captain Stuart".

It would seem that even in absence the Whytes of Barton Lodge were well known in Hamilton.

In 1847 they removed permanently from England. Three years later Emily Whyte married Colonel William Gourlay of the ancient Lindsay-Crawford family.


In Hamilton, as Allan MacNab's right-hand man, William Gourlay had been appointed Lieutenant-Colonel of the 12th Gore, the "Men of Gore."

On the occasion of the marriage an elaborate marriage settlement was drawn by John Lionel Whyte, which, after providing for Isabella, entailed the estate established by James Matthew to Emily Esther Elizabeth and the female line forever and attempted in every legal way dow [sic]. As children we knew each signature. Now all are gone, lost in the fire that gutted the house in 1930.

Gone too with the past is the family carriage and its liveried footmen, with its brass shining in the sun, its jingling harness and prancing horses.

And seated within, the gracious, dignified woman, Emily Gourlay, who looked enough like Queen Victoria to be her sister.

[text missing] possible to safeguard it with the household paintings furnishings, library, china and jewels--from future deprecation in value.

Only in 1953 was this entail broken.

With its innumerable lamps and fire glowing fireplaces highting the low--ceilinged rooms furnished with priceless fallibly heirlooms brought from England and filled with unusual and fascinating objects d'art, silver, fine china and rare paintings, Barton Lodge blazed with hospitality that March wedding day.

Behind the drawn drapes of the library, with its rare first editions and archives of historic documents unsurprised in the province, a window bore mute testimony to the history of the house.


Said a descendant recently: "Princess Louise and the Governor General, Baron Rothschild, Des Barats, the Duke of Devonshire--all signed their names with a diamond on that special win-[dow]

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