THE second of three gifted churchmen with the same name introduced the MacLeod family from Fiunary, overlooking the Sound of Mull, to living on Garelochside.

The family produced some of Scotland’s most gifted churchmen, including the founder of the world-famous Iona Community.

At some point, the Rev Dr Norman MacLeod (1783-1862) built, or acquired, the Shandon mansion Fuinary.

In May 1848 his eldest son, also Norman, came to stay for a respite, after being laid low by overwork. This third generation Norman (1812-1872), like his father and grandfather, became a Rev Dr Norman MacLeod.

This led to plenty of scope for confusion, so the second Norman is frequently described as “the elder”, while his son is referred to as “the younger”.

To muddy the waters even more, there were yet more Rev Norman MacLeods in the wider family.

READ MORE: Eye on Millig: Shandon was home to a family of ministers

The Norman who came to recuperate in 1848 is sometimes described as the most gifted of the family, and he was reckoned one of the most powerful orators of his day.

He was minister at Loudon, Dalkeith and then Barony Church, Glasgow, and it was while at Dalkeith that he came to Garelochside, and he left some fascinating glimpses into his time there.

“How beautiful is everything here!” he wrote. “I have been yearning here for quiet retirement - I got it yesterday.”

During his stay, he enjoyed what he called steeple-chases, effectively cross-country hikes.

On one outing, he found himself in Glen Fruin: “In the midst of sovereign hills, the silence is most becoming,” he wrote.

He had brought with him a volume of Shakespeare “but even he began to be too stiff and prosy - the ferns, the water and the cuckoo beat him hollow.”

READ MORE: Eye on Millig: Shandon Hydro's famous guests included Robert Louis Stevenson

He climbed to the top of the ridge overlooking the Gareloch and said: “The power of the hills is over me - the great hills of Arran and beyond.”

Norman kept a journal, published and edited after his death by one of his brothers, the Rev Dr Donald MacLeod. It provides a remarkable insight into his innermost thoughts and feelings, sometimes very frankly expressed.

He always seems to have put heart and soul into whatever he did - but whether this total commitment contributed to the bouts of recurring ill-health that he suffered for the last 16 years of his life is unclear.

Like his father, his calling meant that he was far from the Highlands, but also like him, he possessed a keen appreciation of the issues there.

From the age of 12, he went to live with his grandparents in Morvern, to ensure a thorough grounding in the life and culture there.

At the Barony, he had some 67,000 people in his parish, many of whom were displaced from the Highlands. He did his level best to help them wherever possible, even helping some to find employment.

READ MORE: Eye on Millig: No expense spared on Robert Napier's Shandon mansion

Appointed to be one of the Queen’s Royal Chaplains in 1857, he came to be in great demand, not only by the monarch, but also by other members of the Royal Family. Regularly commanded to attend Her Majesty at Balmoral, he was frequently there in spring and autumn.

He had the ability to provide the Queen with great comfort and companionship, especially through private audiences. On one occasion, she busied herself at a spinning wheel, while he read aloud Burns’s poems, like Tam o’ Shanter.

Whether the Royal Family were aware of his increasingly fragile health is not known, but on one occasion in 1870, the Prince of Wales commanded his presence at Dunrobin.

He recorded in his diary: “Left at 7am by train for Dunrobin, 220 miles away - drawing room, 1.30am, smoking room, 3.30am. Left for train 6am - reached Glasgow 6.30pm”.

Two days later, he confided in his journal: “Again, dead beat, and went to see my old mother, the first time for six weeks.”

Like other family members, Norman was an accomplished writer, and was author of a number of books, still in demand to this day.

READ MORE: Eye on Millig: Piers, ferry services and their demise - Shandon has seen so many changes

He lived to mark his 60th birthday in June 1872, but he passed away just a fortnight later.

For some time before, he had been strongly urged to avoid fatigue, and younger brother George forbade him from tiring himself out. However, he seems to have found it hard to comply, and many people continued to make demands on him.

He married, and one son, John Maxwell Macleod, became the first Baronet of Fiunary, while his son in turn, George Fielden MacLeod, became the Very Rev Lord MacLeod of Fuinary, going down in history as the founder of the Iona Community.

The esteem in which Norman was held by the people of Glasgow is demonstrated by an imposing statue of him, by the celebrated sculptor John Mossman, which stands in Cathedral Square in the city. It is thought to be a first-class likeness of him.

The Shandon house passed in 1860 to a younger brother of the third Norman, George Husband Baird MacLeod, born in 1828. In a family so closely associated with the Church of Scotland, George was an exception as his career was in medicine.

George distinguished himself in his chosen field, and he was a senior surgeon in a hospital at Smyrna during the Crimean War.

READ MORE: Eye on Millig: How village's church and school helped tell the story of Shandon's rise and fall

This war became a byword for disaster from start to finish, but it did propel Florence Nightingale to fame in championing better nursing care for the sick and injured. George would certainly have seen the worst effects of war in his time there.

Back home, he became involved in lecturing, and in 1869 became Professor of Surgery at Glasgow University, when he replaced Sir Joseph Lister. He was awarded a knighthood in 1887.

He married Sophia Houldsworth, daughter of William Houldsworth, a Glasgow merchant, and they had five children.

As well as Fuinary, there was another family home at Woodside Crescent, Glasgow, and it was there that George passed away in 1892. Sophia lived at Fuinary until her own death in 1924., and their eldest son, Norman Maxwell MacLeod, also lived there.

With the death of Sophia, the property passed to another son, the Rev William Houldsworth MacLeod.

Born in 1863, and educated at the Universities of Cambridge and Glasgow, he spent his ministry at Buchanan parish in Stirlingshire.

READ MORE: Eye on Millig: Ex US Navy commander who runs Arrochar B&B shares her personal take on Afghanistan tragedy

When Shandon War Memorial was unveiled in front of the church in 1919, he co-dedicated it with the minister from Row (Rhu). When Shandon Church was converted to private housing in 1986-87, the Memorial was moved to a new site at Gullybridge.

William took up permanent residence at Fuinary when he retired, and he died there in 1935. The main house then lay empty for some years, which appears to have marked the end of the family’s involvement with the property.

The family had a number of other connections with the district. Two unmarried sisters of the Norman MacLeod who first came to Shandon, Grace Morrison and Robina Catherine, set up home at Row.

Norman’s younger brother, John, who succeeded his father as minister at Morvern in 1824, had a son, who was to become another Rev Norman MacLeod (1838-1911), minister at St Stephen’s Church, Inverness.

This Norman, who also became a Moderator of the General Assembly, married in 1863 Helen Augusta Colquhoun, a niece of Sir James Colquhoun of Luss, tragically drowned with others on Loch Lomond in December 1873.

There is a further local connection in that Norman MacLeod of the Barony was a staunch friend of the Rev John MacLeod Campbell, who was deposed from his living at Row Church in 1831, in what became famously known as the Row Heresy Case.

READ MORE: Eye on Millig: What led to the demise of the Carman cattle fair?

Although Campbell was cast out by the General Assembly of that year, he was not without friends in the ministry. One was the Rev Robert Story, minister at Rosneath, and it may have been at least partly because of their friendship that Campbell later settled down at Achnashie, Rosneath.

Another good friend was Norman MacLeod, who at the time of Campbell’s death in February 1872, wrote: “Dr Campbell was the best man, without exception, that I have ever known. This is my first, most decided, and unqualified statement.”

The families were also linked through marriage, as a descendant of Norman MacLeod and Anne Maxwell married a son of John MacLeod Campbell, whose middle name stemmed from a marriage with a MacLeod of Raasay, as opposed to those of Skye or Fuinary.

The Iona Community was founded in Glasgow and Iona in 1938 by George Fielden MacLeod, the third Norman’s grandson, who became Lord MacLeod of Fuinary.

His father, John Maxwell Macleod, was a successful Glasgow businessman and Unionist MP who became the first Baronet of Fuinary.

George, heir to the baronetcy, was educated at Winchester and Oxford University. When World War One began in 1914, he joined the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, rising to the rank of Captain.

READ MORE: All the latest Helensburgh and Lomond headlines

He saw active service in Greece, but after falling ill with dysentery, he was sent back to Scotland to recuperate, after which he was posted to Flanders. He saw action at Ypres and Passchendaele, for which he was awarded the Military Cross and the French Croix de Guerre for bravery.

His experience of total war profoundly affected him and led him to train for the ministry. He became assistant minister at St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh, then Padre of Toc H in Scotland then associate minister at St Cuthbert’s Church, Edinburgh.

In 1930, he become minister at Govan Old Parish Church, and he was a visionary in the context of the poverty and despair of the Depression.

From his dockland parish, he took unemployed skilled craftsmen and young trainee clergy to Iona to rebuild both the monastic quarters of the mediaeval abbey and the common life by working and living together, sharing skills and effort as well as joys and achievement.

This task became a sign of hopeful rebuilding of community in Scotland and beyond. The experience shaped, and continues to shape, the practice and principles of the Iona Community.

In 1957 he was elected Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, and ten years later was awarded a peerage, becoming Baron MacLeod of Fuinary in the County of Argyll - the only Church of Scotland minister thus honoured.

He later became the first peer to represent the Green Party. When he died in 1991 The Herald described him as being “possibly the most significant Scot of the twentieth century”.

* * * * * * * *

If you have a story from Helensburgh and Lomond's past or present you think might be suitable for a future Eye on Millig column, email the details to