Arbigland House was built in the 1750s in the Classical Adams-style by one William Craik. Visitors to the Gardens can book to tour the principal rooms of the house and learn something of the characters connected to it.
William Craik himself was a remarkable man. He was born in 1703 and died in 1798. During this long life, he introduced the Agricultural Revolution to Scotland, developing Arbigland from a poor tenanted estate operating barely above subsistence to the thriving beef and cereal estate it remains to this day.
William’s gardener was the father of John Paul Jones, a founder of the US Navy. A Museum on his life is next door to Arbigland House.
William’s illegitimate son, James Craik, was a close friend and physician to, George Washington. Indeed, the first US President died in his arms.
William’s daughter, Helen Craik, was a poet and proto-feminist novelist. She was a friend and admirer of Robert Burns who dined at Arbigland.
The son of William’s Minister, John Campbell, was the first Captain of HMS Victory and became the Governor-General of Newfoundland. He was also a remarkable scientist, inventor and sponsor of the brass sextant and appointed by the Board of Longtitude to test the chronometers submitted to them.
William’s friend and extraordinarily wealthy neighbour, Richard Oswald (he made his money from the slave trade and slave plantations), represented the UK in the negotiations that ended the American War of Independence