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The McIntyre Family History

Thomas Walter McIntyre was born 30th November 1860 and his grandfather John McIntyre was a partner with Robert Napier who built steam ships for Cunard. Thomas’s father James, was also involved in the shipping industry and owned the Neptune, known to be the fastest vessel of its type at the time and was used during the American Civil War, to gun run for the Confederates.

Following in his predecessor’s footsteps, Thomas began his career in the shipping industry and founded Maclay and McIntyre on the Clyde, with Joseph Maclay in 1885, they started with six small steamers to operate tramp services. In 1886 the Glasgow United Shipping Co. was conceived and by 1896 the company owned 33 ships and was considered to be one of the largest shipping companies at the time. The company concentrated on the coal trade to Algoa Bay and the ore trade from the Mediterranean. Joseph Maclay retired in 1905 the business was continued to be run by Walter McIntyre.

At the outbreak of war in 1914, the company owned 51 tramps but lost 16 during the war years. Between the wars, the ships were mostly employed in the coal and grain trades between South Wales and the River Plate and sugar from Cuba. During the second world war, seven ships were lost, leaving the company with only five. In the 1950s four Empire ships were purchased but they could not compete with the downturn in freight rates and by 1960, the last two were sold and the company closed.

For a time, Thomas was chairman of Lloyds Register. A director in the Laird Line. Director of Clyde Steamship Owners’ Association. On the board of directors of Glasgow and South Western Railway Company and a member of the Trades House in Glasgow.  A Conservative and Unionist, Thomas stood as chairman of the Glasgow Conservative Association for many years.  A keen supporter of the local community and church, Thomas bought two impressive organs, one for the Kirk in Sorn village and the other was put into the music room at Sorn castle, which is still in good working order today.

Thomas married Jeanie Paterson of Galloway in 1889 and they had four children, James, Jean, Marjorie and Alison.  Having purchased Sorn, Thomas gave up a lot of his business interests to concentrate on being the laird and rejuvenating the working estate, as that was his passion.

From 1907 to 1914, Thomas concentrated on re-modelling the drive, raising the level of the ground to meet the main entrance of the castle creating a basement.  A porte-cochere was also added to illustrate the use and convenience of the new motor vehicles of the day.  A viewing platform was also built outside the dining room overlooking the river so guests could enjoy the dramatic view over the river Ayr and parkland beyond.

Thomas died in September 1920 leaving Sorn to his son James Gordon McIntyre born in 1896. James was known as Gordon and left Winchester school having lied about his age, to join the Ayrshire Yeomanry and serve in the Great War. Whilst campaigning in Gallipoli Gordon was shot in the shoulder but a sergeant saved his life by dispatching the assailant, both these guns now decommissioned, are fascinating family relics kept at the castle. 

Having recovered from that injury, Gordon was then sent to the Somme to serve in the trenches.  One day, shrapnel from a grenade hit and destroyed his leg which had to be amputated in a field hospital.

The War Office Records state: Lieutenant James Gordon McIntyre.

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty he showed great courage and determination in leading an attack against the enemy position across A zone.  Swept by machine gunfire the capture of the position was largely due to his skill and initiative. 6th November 1917 James Gordon was awarded the Military Cross and later awarded a Bar to the Military Cross and then the Croix de Guerre in 1919.

After the War Gordon completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1921 at Balliol College, Oxford and then went on to earn a Bachelor of Law degree at Glasgow University in 1923.  Gordon went on to be a notable Advocate.  In 1930 he was appointed Justice of the Peace. In 1936 he became a member of the King’s council and was Dean of the Faculty of Advocates from 1939 to 1944.

In 1944 Gordon was appointed Senator of the College of Justice and became Lord Sorn.  In 1923 he married Madeline Scott Moncrieff and they had two children, Robert and Olivia.  At the time, an attractive stained glass window was designed depicting an Edinburgh cobbled street, positioned on the main staircase to remind Lady Sorn of her home town.

James Gordon retired from the court in 1963 and died in 1983.

Sorn Castle then passed to Robert Gordon McIntyre born in 1931.  Bobby as he was known was educated at Eton, followed by Trinity College Cambridge.  From there he studied in Glasgow and became a Chartered Accountant. Bobby was involved in many businesses, both in London and Scotland and was vice-chairman of the Scottish Land Owners Federation for many years.

The McIntyre family have a long standing connection with transport from the shipping days, extending into yachts and motor cars.  Thomas had collected sixteen cars before the First World War and Bobby inherited this passion and began collecting classic vehicles, from cars and motor bikes to tanks, including a Sherman Tank.  At one stage his collection included an ex-Mike Hawthorn Ferrari 212, an ex-Scarlatti 1960, a Ferrari 250GT and a Ferrari 330GT formerly owned by Jimmy Stewart, as well as a Lincoln shooting brake, once used by Malcolm Campbell on his land speed record attempts.

Bobby married Rachael Anne Watherston in 1969 and had six sons. James, Gordon, Ewan, Fergus, Gavin and Rory. Unfortunately, Bobby died suddenly in 1988 but Rachael continued to live at the castle, bringing up their six boys. Having always welcomed friends and family and held many notable parties, the castle soon became synonymous with the modern generation, as a desirable and welcoming weekend getaway.

In 2007 Rachael married Charles May and moved to Northumberland and the castle and estate was passed onto Bobby and Rachael’s eldest son, James Alasdair McIntyre born in 1970, known as Jamie. 

Jamie was educated at Millfield School in Somerset and Glenalmond College in Perth. Jamie enjoyed some time working in the film industry before starting his career in the City of London. In 2008 Jamie married Jemma Katharine Folley at her family estate Harleyford, near Marlow, Buckinghamshire. They then moved into the castle to take on the management of the land and castle where Jamie works from, also heading up a Scottish team for an American investment firm. Jamie shares his father’s interests in classic cars, motor bikes and yachts and enjoys the very competitive classic car racing scene and enduro biking championships in his spare time. Jemma and Jamie have three children.