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William Formes-Sempill, 19th Baron Sempill, served in the Royal Flying Corps during the First World War. After the war he joined the Royal Air Force and eventually reached the rank of colonel.
In the 1930s Sempill developed extreme right-wing political opinions and was active in several anti-Semitic organizations such as the Anglo-German Fellowship and The Link.
In May 1939 Archibald Ramsay founded a secret society called the Right Club. This was an attempt to unify all the different right-wing groups in Britain. Or in the leader's words of "co-ordinating the work of all the patriotic societies". In his autobiography, The Nameless War, Ramsay argued: "The main object of the Right Club was to oppose and expose the activities of Organized Jewry, in the light of the evidence which came into my possession in 1938. Our first objective was to clear the Conservative Party of Jewish influence, and the character of our membership and meetings were strictly in keeping with this objective."
Members of the Right Club included Lord Sempill, William Joyce, Anna Wolkoff, Joan Miller, A. K. Chesterton, Francis Yeats-Brown, Lord Redesdale, 5th Duke of Wellington, Duke of Westminster, E. H. Cole, John Stourton, Thomas Hunter, Aubrey Lees, Ernest Bennett, Charles Kerr, Samuel Chapman, John MacKie, James Edmondson, Marquess of Graham, Margaret Bothamley, Earl of Galloway, H. T. Mills, Richard Findlay and Serrocold Skeels.
After war was declared Lord Sempill joined the Naval Air Service. Recently released documents from MI5 show that In 1941 Lord Sempill was under suspicion of leaking information to an organized spy ring within the Japanese Embassy.
Person:Hugh Semple (4)
Hugh Sempill, Commander of the 25th Regiment of Foot, later known as the King's Own Scottish Borderers.
Hugh Sempill had command of the left wing of the royal army. Major General John Huske ordered forward all of Lord Sempill's Fourth Brigade which had a combined total of 1,078 men (Sempill's 25th Foot, Conway's 59th Foot, and Wolfe's 8th Foot). Also sent forward to plug the gap was Bligh's 20th Foot, which took up position between Sempill's 25th and Dejean's 37th. Huske's counter formed a five battalion strong horseshoe-shaped formation which trapped the Jacobite right wing on three sides.
Page 562, 563 – Hew, eleventh Lord Sempill, the fifth son of his father, born after the making of the entail of the barony of Sempill already recited, went early into the Army. He was adjutant to Colonel Preston’s Regiment of Foot 1 December 1708 ensign in said regiment July 1709 served at Malplaquet promoted captain 12 July 1712 on half pay 1713 appointed captain in Brigadier-General Grant’s Regiment in 1715 major 5 April 1718 lieutenant-colonel of the 19th Regiment of Foot 12 July 1731 and succeeded the Earl of Crawford as colonel of the Black Watch 14 January 1741. He was in command when the regiment mutinied in 1743, and followed them in that year to Flanders, where they highly distinguished themselves he commanded in the town of Aeth, when it was besieged by the French, and that regiment made a gallant defence. In 1727 Lord Sempill sold the estates of Elliotstoun and Castle Sempill, and in 1741 purchased the estate of North Barr. He was appointed colonel of the 25th Regiment of Foot 9 April 1745 promoted brigadier-general 9 June 1745 at the Battle of Culloden 16 April 1746, when he had command of the left wing of the royal army. In the middle of August following he arrived at Aberdeen, assumed the command of the troops stationed in that quarter, and died there 25 November 1746. His remains were interred in the Drum Aisle, in the West Church of that city, 1 of December following. He married 13 May 1718, Sarah daughter and coheiress of Nathaniel Gaskell of Manchester, and by her, who died 17 April 1749, had issue:
1. John, twelfth Lord Sempill
Disambiguation of Hugh Sempill. The Scots Peerage by Paul, James has Hugh Semple, eleventh Lord Sempill. The Peerage by Lundy, Darryl has Hugh Semple, twelfth Lord Sempill.
Section II – Black Watch
Flanders—Fontenoy 1745—The Regiment cover the Retreat of the Army after the Battle—England—Prestonpans 1745—Coast of France 1746—Ireland—Flanders 1747—Ireland 1748—Character.
The regiment was soon restored to order, and, towards the end of May, embarked for Flanders, where it joined the army under the command of Field-Marshal the Earl of Stair. Unfortunately, it arrived too late to be present at the battle of Dettingen but although the men had not then an opportunity of showing themselves good soldiers in the field, all the accounts agree that, by their conduct, they proved themselves decent and orderly in quarters. "That regiment (Sempill's Highlanders) was judged the most trust-worthy guard of property, insomuch that the people in Flanders chose to have them always for their protection. Seldom was any of them drunk, and they as rarely swore. And the Elector Palatine wrote to his envoy in London, desiring him to thank the King of Great Britain for the excellent behaviour of the regiment while in his territories in 1743 and 1744 'and for whose sake,' he adds, 'I will always pay a respect and regard to a Scotchman in future.'" [Dr Doddridge's Life of Colonel Gardiner. London, 1749.]
The regiment was not engaged in active service during the whole of 1743 and 1744, but was quartered in different parts of the country, where it continued to maintain the same character. By several private letters written at that period from the Continent, it appears, that they had gained the good opinion and entire confidence of the inhabitants, who expressed their anxious desire to have a Highland soldier quartered in each of their houses, "as these men were not only quiet, kind, and domestic, but served as a protection against the rudeness of others."
In April 1745, Lord Sempill, being appointed to the 25th regiment, was succeeded, as colonel of the Highlanders, by Lord John Murray, son of the Duke of Atholl.
. 14th of May 1745. On that day Lord Sempill's Highland regiment, as it was then termed, was reviewed by General Wade, on Finchley Common. A paper of the day, says:
'The Highlanders made a very hand-some appearance, and went through their exercise and firing with the utmost exactness. The novelty of the sight drew together the greatest concourse of people ever seen on such an occasion.'
. field of Fontenoy. One of Sempill's Highlanders, named Campbell, killed nine Frenchmen with his broadsword, and, while aiming a blow at a tenth, had his arm carried away by a cannon-ball. The Duke of Cumberland nominated him to a lieutenancy on the field his portrait was engraved and there was scarcely a village throughout England but had the walls of its cottages decorated with the representation of this warlike Celt. Sempill's regiment, losing its distinctive appellation about the middle of the last century, became the 42nd Highlanders, and as such can boast of laurels gained in every part of the globe where British valour and determination have stemmed and turned the headlong tide of battle.
Colonel William Macdowall, 1st of Castlesemple was born on 1 March 1678.1 He was the son of William Macdowall, 15th of Garthland and Grissel Beaton.2 He married, firstly, Mary Tovey, daughter of Richard Tovey.1 He married, secondly, Isabella Wallace, daughter of Sir Hugh Wallace.1 He died in 1748.1
He gained the rank of Colonel in the service of the Briitsh Army, served in St Christopher's, West Indies, where he acquired a considerable plantation.1 In 1727 he purchased the ancient barony of Castlesemple in the parish of Lochwinnoch, Renfrewshire, from 11th Lord Sempill , also other baronies.1
Hugh Sempill, 11th Lord - Governor of Barbados in 1746 but did not take office
Provost Marshall Patrick Crawford, of Leeward Islands was the husband of Sarah Sempill and son-in-law to Hugh Sempill, 11th Lord Governor of Barbados.
Francis, 10th Lord Sempill, was interred 4th August 1716, and lies 8 feet from wall of 4th window N.E. end of Chapel, betwist 3rd and 4th Pillars.
John, 11th Lord Sempill, interred on the South side of his brother, 20th January 1727.
Beneath this stone lie the remains of the Honourable Marion Sempill, daughter of Major-General the Right Honourable Hugh, 12th Lord Sempill, and of Sarah Gaskell his wife who died 14th and interred 19th May 1796.
The Honourable Jane Sempill, died 6th, and was buried on the South side of her sister, the above Marion Sempill, the 10th of July 1800.
The Honourable Rebecca Sempill, died 16th, and was buried between the broken pillars in the centre of the Chapel Southward of Her two Sisters, the aforesaid Marion and Jane, on the 21st Sept. 1811.
Hon. Sarah Sempill, daughter of Hugh, fourteenth Lord Sempill, died 1866.
Person:William Semple (25)
William Sempill, 2nd Lord Sempill (died 1552) was a Scottish lord and Sheriff of Renfrewshire.
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William, Second Lord Semple, the eldest son of the first lord, was one of the Privy Council of James the Fifth, and Lord Justiciary and heritable Bailie of the Regality of Paisley. He was one of those who assented to the match betwixt Queen Mary and Prince Edward of England, August 25, 1543, and died in 1548. In 1547, he purchased from John Bruntschells, the last of the family of Bruntschells of that ilk, the estate of Bruntschells (a corruption of Burnt shields), in the parish of Kilbarchan, Renfrewshire. His Lordship married, first, Lady Margaret Montgomery, eldest daughter of Hugh, first Earl of Eglintoun, by the Lady Helen Campbell, daughter of Archibal, Earl of Argyll, and by her had issue: Robert, David, Helen, Mary…
He married, secondly, Elizabeth, daughter of John Arnot, of Arnot thirdly, Marian, daughter of Hugh Montgomery of Hazellhead, without issue.
Page 535 thru 537 – William, second Lord Sempill, as the son and heir apparent of John, Lord Sempill, was witness along with his father on 13 March 1501-2. After his father’s death litigation between him and his step-mother took place regarding their rights in the estate of the first Lord Sempill. On 8 September 1525 a summons of treason was served upon the Earl of Cassillis, Lord Sempill and others. On 21 June 1526 Parliament directed summons of treason to be raised against the Earl of Eglinton, Lord Smpill and others. He was one of the Privy Council of King James V., and Justiciary and Bailie of the regality of Paisley. He purchased the lands of Previk, in Ayrshire, 12 February 1522-23, from John Crawford of Previk, whose son raised an action, in 1538-39, for reduction of the sale as having been obtained by force and the lands of Auchinfour and others, in the parish of Inverkip, from Sir James Hamilton of Fynnart on 31 August 1529. Lord Sempill was, on 26 February 1533-34, acquitted of being art and part in the slaughter of William Cunyngham of Craigends and one of his servants who had been killed in a family quarrel. On 30 July 1535 John, Lord Lyle, and his servant were denounced for unlawfully putting letters to execution agains Lord Sempill, demanding caution for being art and part in the slaughter of John Crawford of Previk, etc. He was one of the jury at the trial of Jonet Douglas, Lady Glamis, accused of conspiring the slaughter of the King, etc., 17 July 1537. He, and others, had a remission on 18 March 1540 for all crimes committed prior to this date except treason. He had charters of confirmation of the lands of Fernynes, Eliotstoun, Glasford, etc., 17 March 1539-40 of Bultrees, which he had purchased in 1541 from John Stewart, Dalmuir, etc., 4 October 1545 and of Drumry on the 18 of the same month. He was one of those who assented to the match betwixt Queen Mary and Prince Edward of England 25 August 1543. He died at Edinburgh on 3 June 1552. He married, first, before 20 July 1517, Margaret Montgomery, said to be eldest daughter of Hugh, first Earl of Eglintoun, and by her had issue as aftermentioned. He married, secondly, prior to 12 February 1522-23, Elizabeth, daughter of John Arnot of Arnot. She was alive 18 March 1538-39. He married, thirdly, Marion, daughter of Hugh Montgomery of Hazelhead, widow of Thomas Crawford of Auchinames, who had died in 1541 she survived Lord Sempill, and married, thirdly, between 31 August 1553 and 20 December 1556, John Campbell of Skipnish. On 3 April 1554 his widow’s escheat was granted to Hugh Cunynghame of Walterston, for the slaughter of Gilbert Rankin, and on 8 November 1555 she came into the Queen’s will for supporting her servants in this and various other offences. By his first wife only he had issue:-
Wives of William Sempill, 2nd Lord Sempill:
1ST WIFE Margaret Montgomerie, eldest daughter of Hugh Montgomerie, 1st Earl of Eglinton. ALL OF WILLIAM SEMPILL'S CHILDREN ARE FROM HER.
2ND WIFE Elizabeth Arnot
3RD WIFE Marion Montgomerie, daughter of Hugh Montgomerie of Hazelhead. Widow of Thomas Craufurd of Auchenames. After William Sempill, 2nd Lord Sempill's death, Marion remarried to John Campbell, 2nd of Skipness.
Chapter XI - Feuds - William Lord Semple appears to have been thoroughly well supported by his wife, Marion Montgomery. Some time after his death, on November 8, 1555, she was charged with a number of serious offences, and having no defence, she “ came in the Queen’s will for consenting to the slaughter of Gilbert Rankin in Lecheland, committed by the servants of the said Lady, March 17, 1553, under silence of night: and for approving the cruel hurting and wounding of John Fynne and mutilation of his arm, and the hurting and wounding of John Roger in sundry parts of his body, to the effusion of his blood, committed at the same time —by resetting of her servants, who had committed the said crimes, red-hand, that same night, within the Castle of Laven, immediately after the perpetration thereof: and also for approving of the taking and apprehending of Humphrey Malcolmson and Archibald Scherare, they being conducted by her servants in the same night to the Castle of Laven, seeing she received them into her said Castle : also, for the incarceration and subjection of the said persons in the aforsaid Castle by the space of twenty-four hours, without food or drink thereby usurping the Queen’s authority."
page 252. February 28, 1609.--The feud between James, Earl of Glencairne, and his friends under written, on the one part--and--Hew, Earl of Eglintoun, and Robert, Lord Semple, and their friends, on the other part, having been amicably submitted, in presence of the Council, in January 1607 to certain neutral friends, the said friends had at last disagreed anent the nomination of an oversman, and the submission had been given up by them and allowed to fall in his Majesty's hands, so that now his Majesty is the only judge and oversman in that matter.
Accordingly, his Majesty having given direction for reconciling the said parties, according to a decree to be pronounced in his name hereanent, there is order to charge the following persons,--viz.
ON THE ONE PART:
Andro Arnot of Lochrig, younger
Robert Boyd in Clerkland
Abrahame Cunynghame, servitor to late Alex'r. Cunynghame of Aikit
Alexander Cunynghame of Corshill
Alexander Cunynghame of Craigens
Alexander Cunynghame of Tourlandis
Daniel Cunynghame of Dalkeith
David Cunynghame of Robertland
Gabriell Cunynghame, brother of the Laird of Craigens
Hew, son of late Hew Cunynghame of Saltcoitis
Mr. James Cunynghame of Montgrenane and his brothers
Johnne Cunynghame of Cunynghameheid
(2nd named) Johnne Cunynghame of Ros, brother of Earl of Glencairne
(3rd named) Patrick Cunynghame, goodsire-brother of James Cunynghame of Aiket,
Robert Cunynghame of Waterstoun and his brother Joseph
(4th named) William Cunynghame, uncle of Patrick Cunynghame
Williame Cunynghame of Brounhill
William Cunynghame of Caprintoun
William Cunynghame of Clonbaith
(1st named) Earl of Glencairne
Patrik Maxwell of Newark, and his brothers Johnne and David
ON THE SECOND PART:
Johnne (?Robert) Birsbane, elder of Bishoptoun
Johnne (?Robert) Birsbane, younger of Bischoptoun
Matthew Birsbane of Roisland
Symone Birsbane of Nether Walkinschaw
The late William Birsbane of Barnhill: His sons John, William, James
James Dunlop of that Ilk
(1st named) The Earl of Eglintoun
Archibald Lindsay of Creifoche
Hew Montgomerie of Achinheid
Hew (?Robert) Montgomerie of Hissilheid
Sir Hew Montgomerie of Braidstane
Johnne Montgomerie of Scotistoun
(3rd named) Sir Neill Montgomerie of Langschaw
Robert Montgomerie of Skelmourlie
James Mowat of Busbie
Robert Mure of Cauldwele
Hew Ralstoun of that Ilk
(2nd named) Lord Semple
William Semple of Foulwood and his brothers
to appear before the Council on 16th March next, under pain of rebellion, to hear his Majesty's decreet pronounced with certification that, if they do not compear, they will be denounced rebels, decree will be given in the matter, and they shall be compelled to obey the same.
The Earl of Eglintoun, Lord Semple and their said friends are reuqired to come Edinburg on 14th March next, and the Earl of Glencairn and his friends on Wednesday 15th March and, at their coming to the burgh, they are to repair to their lodgings, and remain there till sent for by the Council.
William 2nd Lord Sempill’s first wife Baroness Margaret Montgomery, the daughter of Hugh Montgomery 1st Earl of Eglinton, was descended from Robert II of Scotland through 5 generations. So descendents of this marriage are descended from many Scottish monarchs up to Robert II, and also from Anglo-Saxon kings (through the marriage of Malcolm III of Scotland to Saint Margaret).Cites Sir Bernard Burke, Ulster King of Arms (1858) Royal Descents and Pedigrees of Founders' Kin. London: Harrison.
LORD SEMPHILL-JAPANESE SPY .
Post by aurora » Thu Nov 08, 2012 3:24 pm
William Francis Forbes-Sempill, 19th Lord Sempill AFC , AFRAeS, (30 September 1893 – 30 December 1965) was a British air pioneer and traitor.[ He began as a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps and then the Royal Naval Air Service. Post war he set several records in aviation. He aided the Japanese in developing their naval aviation both in leading an official mission to Japan and later supplying them with military secrets. His activities were discovered but knowledge suppressed to conceal British success with intercepting Japanese communications and he was not forced to retire from a position in the Navy until 1941.
Before succeeding his father to the titles of Lord Sempill and Baronet of Craigevar in 1934, he was known by the title Master of Sempill.
Early and family life
Born at the family seat of Craigievar Castle in Aberdeenshire, Sempill was educated at Eton, and then apprenticed to Rolls-Royce in 1910. He married Eileen Marion Lavery, the daughter of the Irish painter Sir John Lavery, in 1919, and their daughter Ann Moira was born in 1920.
Military and civil aviation
At the outbreak of World War I, Sempill joined Royal Flying Corps, being granted a probationary commission as a second lieutenant on 15 August 1914, which was confirmed less than four months later. In the meantime Sempill was appointed to flying duties. The following year, in February, Sempill took up a position as an "experimental officer" at the Central Flying School[ and he received a promotion to lieutenant in April. Less than four months later he was appointed a flight commander with the temporary rank of captain. In August 1915, he was apointed to instructional duties. Sempill's time at the Central Flying School was not to last as he relinquished his Army commission at the end of the year on being accepted for temporary service in the Royal Naval Air Service. Sempill's rapid rise through the ranks continued in the Navy and at the close of 1916 he was promoted to squadron commander. On 1 April 1918, with the amalgamation of both flying services into the Royal Air Force, Sempill was transferred and appointed one of several deputy directors in the RAF's personnel department with the temporary rank of colonel. In June Sempill's award of the Air Force Cross was gazetted. Sempill stayed at the Air Ministry until 8 October 1918 when he seconded on loan service to the Ministry of Munitions. On the cessation of hostilities, he became a test pilot and he retired from military service in 1919.
On 4 September 1930, he set a new record by flying a de Havilland DH.60 Moth seaplane (G-AAVB) 1,040 miles non-stop from Welsh Harp to Stockholm in 12 hours. On 26 March 1936 he made a record-breaking flight in a BAC Drone ultra-light aircraft (G-ADPJ) 570 miles from Croydon Airport direct to Berlin Tempelhof Airport in 11 hours. He flew back a day or so later in 9 hours though he interrupted the flight with a stop at Canterbury.
In 1921 he led a British deputation to Japan, to assist the Japanese navy in setting up its new air base, after the Japanese had bought three Supermarine Channel flying boats. Sempill was well respected within Japanese circles, and received a personal letter from Prime Minister Tomosaburo Kato (1922-1923), thanking him for his work with the Japanese navy, which he described as "almost epoch-making."
On his return to the UK in 1923, he kept in contact with the Japanese Foreign Ministry. In 1925 Sempill led a mission of foreign air officials to the Blackburn Aircraft factory at Brough, Lancashire. The Japanese had previously asked questions about aircraft being developed. Sempill later asked the same questions, in his official position, of the then secret Blackburn Iris.
The Directorate of Military Intelligence had kept Sempill's communication with the Japanese Naval attache in London, Captain Teijirō Toyoda, under surveillance from 1922. This lead to the knowledge of Sempill passing classified secret information to the Japanese, which Toyoda indicated in his communication had been paid for.
In March 1926, Sempill was proposed by the Aviation Ministry be appointed Greece's aeronautical adviser. At this point the Directorate of Military Intelligence advised the Foreign Office and the British Embassy in Athens, that Britain could not be seen to endorse Sempill's appointment because of his past activities.
Sempill was resultantly called into the Foreign Office for an interview. The questions directed to him were to assess his loyalty to the British Goverment, his attachments to the Japanese, and the amount of information that he had passed to the Japanese. However, during the meeting, the investigating officer could not reveal that the British had broken Japanese codes and were monitoring the Japanese communications systems. However, on the trip to Brough, Sempill had openly talked about the Blackburn Iris on the upward train trip from London with the foreign air officials. This was witnessed by a British Air Ministry civil servant who reported the incident to his management. Using this information, Sempill admitted that he had broken the Official Secrets Act
Taking this admitted breach to a subsequent meeting with Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Austen Chamberlain, it was decided not to prosecute Sempill. This was in part due to the fact that his father was then aide-du-camp to King George V, and in part because a prosecution would have led to the revelation that the British had cracked the Japanese diplomatic codes.
Sempill was a leading figure in the Royal Aeronautical Society, of which he was chair and then president, and advised overseas governments, including that of Australia, on the creation of their air forces.
In 1934 he succeeded his father, John Forbes-Sempill, 18th Lord Sempill to the titles of Lord Sempill and Baronet of Craigevar, taking his seat in the House of Lords. His wife, who had accompanied him on many of his air tours died in July 1935.
From 1932 to 1936, he was a technical and business consultant to the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
During this period Sempill developed extreme right-wing political opinions, and was active in several anti-Semitic organizations such as the Anglo-German Fellowship, The Link and Archibald Ramsay's The Right Club.
In 1939, on the outbreak of war, Sempill rejoined the Royal Naval. Assigned to the Admiralty, he worked in the Department of Air Material, where he had access to both sensitive and secret information about the latest British aircraft.
Six months after the Newfoundland Conference meeting between British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Japanese Embassy in London passed notes on the meeting to their Foreign Ministry in Tokyo. Intercepted by the fledging Bletchley Park code breakers, the transcript was passed to Churchill, who noted they were "very accurate." Three months later, further notes on Churchill's personal agenda and inner circle were passed by the Japanese Embassy in London to their Foreign Ministry. In notes to Churchill, Anthony Eden concluded that only two men could have created the notes: Commander McGrath or the Lord Sempill.]
In early 1941, Scotland Yard arrested the Japanese businessman Makahara, a representative of a big Japanese firm on suspicion of espionage. While being held, Lord Sempill telephoned and then called at Paddington police station, to assure the police of Makahara's innocence and character.
In June 1940, MI5 intercepted messages from Mitsubishi to London and Field Marshal Yamagata's headquarters, which referred to payments being made to Sempill: "In light of the use made of Lord Sempill by our military and naval attaches in London, these payments should continue". On investigation, it was further suspected that Sempill was passing secret information about Fleet Air Arm aircraft, the matter was passed to the Attorney General and Director of Public Prosecutions. The Attorney General advised against prosecution, and on 5 September 1941, Sempill was brought in front of the Fifth Sea Lord and given "a strict private warning".
On 9 October 1941, a signed note from Churchill says: "Clear him out while time remains." The following week the Admiralty confronted Sempill and told him he could either resign or be fired. Sempill protested, and Churchill - unhappy at the action - wrote to the Admiralty: "I had not contemplated Lord Sempill being required to resign his commission, but only to be employed elsewhere in the Admiralty." A subsequent note from Churchill's aide Desmond Morton, dated 17 October 1941 states: "The First Sea Lord . proposes to offer him a post in the North of Scotland. I have suggested to Lord Swinton that MI5 should be informed in due course so they may take any precautions necessary."
On 13 December 1941, Sempill's office was raided, during which were found various secret documents that he should have handed over three weeks earlier. A similar raid on 15 December found Sempill making phone calls to the Japanese Embassy. After this, Sempill agreed to retire.His treachery-it has been said-brought about the Fall of Singapore and he was saved from being hanged for espionage in wartime by his ruling class connections
In 1956 the Swedish government awarded him the Order of the Polar Star. At various times he was president of the British Gliding Association and of the Institute of Advanced Motorists.
On his death, his titles were split his daughter Ann inherited the lordship of parliament, as this title was able to be passed down the female line, but the baronetcy passed to his younger brother, Ewan.
In 2002 the Public Record Office released the records that showed Sempill had been functioning as a spy for the Japanese, selling them information on British developments.
Commentators have speculated on his motives, with some suggesting that Sempill's activities on behalf of the Japanese and Fascist contacts were motivated less by any desire to help the enemy than by his own impetuous character, obstinacy, and flawed judgement. However, in various correspondence between Churchill's office, the Attorney General and the Director of Public Prosecutions, it is noted that he had at this time debts in excess of £13,000 (2012 equivalent of £750,000).
3rd Class or Commander in the Order of the Rising Sun, Japan.
Order of the Polar Star, Sweden.
The Scotsman was a hereditary member of the British House of Lords named William Forbes-Sempill, the 19th Baronet of Craigievar. A decorated Royal Flying Corps pilot in World War I, Sempill transferred to the Royal Navy Air Service when World War I ended in 1918. In 1921, the Imperial Japanese Navy requested England’s help in setting up its nascent naval air service. In the hope of negotiating a number of lucrative arms deals, the British Admiralty appointed Sempill to lead the government’s advisory delegation to Tokyo.
When he left for Japan, Sempill took with him the plans for two new British aircraft carriers, the HMS Argus and the HMS Hermes. Once he arrived, he proceeded to persuade the Japanese of the advantage of basing naval warplanes on ocean-going carriers instead of on airfields. Sempill was so pleased with his success in convincing the Japanese that he remained in Japan for 18 months, training pilots in techniques of flight control and shallow-water torpedo bombing—skills that 20 years later the Japanese Empire was to employ to disastrous advantage in attacking the United States fleet at Pearl Harbor.
Acknowledging Sempill’s “epoch-making service” to the Empire, Prime Minister Tomosaburo Kato awarded the Scottish lord Japan’s highest honor, the Order of the Rising Sun, “for his especially meritorious military service.” Sempill faithfully returned the favor: for the next two decades he was paid to provide the Japanese with secret information on the latest British aviation technology, helping Japan become a world-class naval power. It was only when Franklin Roosevelt’s administration raised concern over Japan’s growing naval strength that the British government questioned Sempill about leaking secrets to Tokyo. A resulting investigation revealed that Sempill was an active member of several far-right, anti-Semitic organizations in England, including the fascistic Anglo-German Fellowship, a secretive group dedicated to ridding the Tory Party of Jews.
Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Sempill, William
SEMPILL or SEMPLE, WILLIAM (1546–1633), soldier of fortune and political agent, born in 1546, was a cadet of the noble family of Sempill long seated in Renfrewshire. His exact place in the family tree has been variously stated. His name does not occur in Douglas's ‘Peerage.’ Conn calls him ‘frater baronis,’ which he certainly was not. Other contemporary writers make him the bastard son of the third or uncle of the fourth baron ( Colville , Letters, ed. D. Laing, p. 329). Father Hugh Sempill [q. v.], who was undoubtedly his brother's son, describes himself as ‘Craigbaitæus,’ the Sempills of Craigbait or Craigbet being a branch of the family descended from David, a younger brother of the third, or the ‘great’ lord Sempill.
In his youth Sempill was for some time attached to the court of Mary Stuart. He subsequently joined a Scottish regiment under Colonel William Stewart, in the service of the Prince of Orange, and on 25 March 1582 he took the command of a company of Scots in the strongly fortified garrison of Liere, near Antwerp. Here, according to one account, smarting under injuries from Colonel Stewart, and under insults which he had received from the governor of the town, who had threatened to hang him for complaining of the sufferings of the Scottish soldiers (for they had been ten weeks without pay or food, and were compelled to live upon roots), Captain Sempill in revenge resolved to betray the garrison into the hands of the Prince of Parma (W. Herle to Burghley, Hatfield MSS. ii. 511). According to the Jesuit historian Strada, Sempill obtained a secret interview with Parma at Poperinghee, and declared to him that he had purchased his captaincy at Liere only in order to deliver up the place to the Spaniards, and that if he should succeed in this he should ask for no other reward than his own satisfaction in the event. Parma accordingly placed Sempill in communication with Matthew Corvino, an old and experienced soldier, with whom the plan was arranged. On the night of 1 Aug. 1582 Sempill obtained permission on some pretext to make a sortie, and was given thirty Scots and seven States soldiers for the purpose. He then effected a junction with the troops of Corvino, and early in the morning of the 2nd returned to Liere, where by a preconcerted arrangement with his brother, who was serving as a lieutenant in the same garrison, the gates were opened, and after a brief struggle, during which Sempill distinguished himself by slaying the gatekeeper and officer of the watch, the Dutch forces were overpowered and the Spaniards took possession of the town. The moral effects of Sempill's action were considerable, for though Liere was not a large place, it was, on account of its strength and position, regarded as ‘the bulwark of Antwerp and the key of Brabant’ and the betrayal of Bruges in the following year by Colonel Boyd was probably prompted by his countryman's example. After a short visit to Parma at Namur, Sempill was now (1582) sent into Spain with a strong recommendation to the king, who, says Strada, handsomely rewarded him. In November 1587 Philip despatched him to Bernardino de Mendoza then at Paris, warning the ambassador to be cautious in dealing with him, as, in spite of his apparent zeal, he was nevertheless ‘very Scotch.’ Mendoza, however, was able to report to the king that he found Sempill more trustworthy than most Scotsmen of either sword or gown, and the colonel (as he was now called) was in consequence busily employed in the secret negotiations then being carried on with the catholic nobles of Scotland in view of the projected invasion of England. It was supposed by George Conn [q. v.] that Sempill was also entrusted with a mission to James himself, in the hope of bringing about a marriage of the Scottish king with the infanta of Spain.
Sempill landed at Leith early in August 1588, when he was immediately apprehended by Sir John Carmichael by the king's order. The Earl of Huntly contrived to release him, but James had him again captured and imprisoned in Edinburgh. Once more, by an expenditure of four hundred crowns on the part of Robert Bruce (if this spy and conspirator is to be trusted) and with the aid of Huntly and Lady Ross, a daughter of Lord Sempill, the colonel effected an escape of which a romantic account is given by Father Forbes-Leith in his ‘Narratives of Scottish Catholics’ (p. 368). The privy council now (Aug. 20) issued an order ‘against resetting William Semple, who had come on a pretended mission from the Prince of Parma and had been trafficking treasonably with His Majesty's subjects.’ Before leaving Scotland for the Low Countries Sempill made arrangements for carrying on a secret correspondence with his friends and in February of the following year his servant, Pringle, was captured in England with a packet of treasonable letters, directed by Huntly, Errol, and others to Parma and the king of Spain. Pringle confessed to Walsingham that he had been sent over from Flanders by Sempill six weeks before. The colonel's name frequently reappears in the state papers of 1593–4 in connection with the Spanish intrigues and military enterprises of that time, but he does not seem to have again visited Scotland.
In 1593 he married in Spain Doña Maria de Ledesma, widow of Don Juan Perez de Alizaga, and daughter of Don Juan de Ledesma, member of the council of India. In 1598 Robert, the fourth lord Sempill, who had been appointed Scottish ambassador at Madrid, was instructed by James to sound the intentions of Philip III with regard to the succession to the English crown. Lord Sempill in his correspondence frequently mentions the assistance he had received from ‘the crunal my cusing,’ while the colonel himself wrote to James (12 Oct. 1598) of ‘the lang intension that I haif haid to die in my cuntre in yor Maties service’ (Miscellaneous Papers, Maitland Club, p. 173). Sempill lived to a great age, occupying at the Spanish court the office of ‘gentleman of the mouth’ to the king, and busying himself with the affairs of the catholic missionaries in Scotland to whose support he liberally contributed, as is shown by the letter of Father Archangel Leslie, addressed to the colonel 20 June 1630, printed in the ‘Historical Records of the Family of Leslie’ (vol. iii. p. 421).
In 1613 Philip III had granted to Sempill the house of Jacomotrezo in Madrid as an equivalent of the sums due to him in arrears of salaries and pensions. This house he designed and endowed as a college for the education of catholic missionaries who were to be drawn from the gentry of Scotland, and by preference from members of his own family. The government of the college was to be in the hands of the Jesuit fathers. The original deed of foundation and endowment, dated 10 May 1623, was printed by the Maitland Club (Miscellaneous Papers), together with a translation of the colonel's testament, dated 20 Feb. 1633. He died in this house on 1 March 1633, at the age of eighty-seven. His wife survived him, dying on 10 Sept. 1646.
[Conæus, De duplici statu, p. 144 Gordon's Catholic Church in Scotland, p. 66 Forbes-Leith's Narratives, following an anonymous contribution to the Catholic Directory for Scotland, 1873 (but untrustworthy on Sempill's military career) for particulars of the betrayal of Liere, Bergmann's Geschiedenis der Stad Lier, pp. 265–272, based upon the rare contemporary pamphlet, Bref Discours de la trahison advenue en la ville de Liere en Braband par un capitaine escossais nommé Guillaume Semple, etc., 1582 Strada, De bello Belgico (ed. 1648), ii. 233 Meteren, Hist. des Pays-Bas, f. 217 Calderwood's Hist. iv. 680, v. 6 Reg. Privy Council, ii. 229 Pitcairn's Trials, i. 172, 332 Teulet, Papiers d'État, iii. 586, 592 Cal. State Papers, Scotland, 553, 640, 804 Border Papers, i. 310, 860, &c.]
Date of Birth
Robert's year of birth is commonly estimated as 1505. A commission granted in 1528  confirms his birth prior to 1507. Considering that he was the eldest son and that his four younger brothers were of full age on 17 Jul 1526, one should surmise that the youngest brother was born prior to 17 Jul 1505 and allowing one year between each brother, the inference is that Robert was born before 17 Jul 1501. Another hint at his age is his being contracted to marry prior to 1513.  This, of course, only confirms he was born before this date.
There are some concerns in the listing of children. The Scots Peerage  has primary resource references while the Genealogical History of the Family Semple  is lacking in that regard. These are the two sources being relied upon but they have some conflicts.
John Sempill (abt. 1540 - 1579)
John's father, Robert, 3rd Lord Sempill,  had been banished from Scotland and France in 1540 and found refuge not far from the Scottish-English border in Carlisle, England.  Elizabeth Carlisle was from the House of Torthorwald in Dumfries, Scotland but the family, as one can guess from the name, stemmed from Carlisle. Although Robert had a wife and several sons and daughters back in Scotland, he took Elizabeth as his mistress and had a son and two daughters by her during his exile. The eldest of these was John   who was likely born in Nov or Dec 1540. 
With the death of James V, Robert's exile was at an end and he returned to Scotland leaving his mistress and their three children in Carlisle as Robert had to request Thomas Wharton, an agent to Henry VII, to forward his request of permission to remove his children from England to the Privy Council of Henry VIII and was granted immediately. 
John and his two sisters joined their father in Scotland. Elizabeth, too, moved to Scotland if not with the children certainly before 24 Aug 1546 as she and Robert were married by then and that date marked the legitimization the births of their children. 
It is unclear how long John reamained at Castle Sempill as he was sent to the household of Marie de Guise at a tender age.  He was also in the service of the Queen of Scots while she was in France and that opportunity was likely linked to Marie de Guise, who traveled to France in Oct 1550 along with several Scottish lords, returning through a year later through England. 
With the Lords of Reformation launching its attacks on Castle Semple, Robert took his son John, now nearing full age in Oct 1560, and traveled to France to link up with Robert's cousin german, Thomas Crawfurd.  Robert and Thomas were not merely relatives but also comrades in arms having both fought at the Battle of Pinkie and both taken prisoner by the English. Thomas, after his release by the English, traveled to France and was employed as a Gens d'Arme appointed to guard and attend his son Francis and daughter-in-law, Mary, Queen of Scots. Mary arrived about the same time, Aug 1548, accommpanied by her gurdian, Alexander Livingston, and four girls her age of noble birth to be her friends and Maids of Honor and all four named Mary. One of these was Alexander's daughter and it was this maid, Mary Livingston,    nicknamed 'Lusty,' who caught the eye of young John Sempill, leading eventually to marriage.  They had probably met initially during the year he visited with Marie de Guise but their 'tander ages' precluded any romantic notions.
After their arrival in October, events moved quickly . . . in November, King Francis took ill, by 5 December, he was dead. By March, Robert had been relaxed from the horn and he and John returned to Scotland, probably with his cousin Thomas Crawfurd, the Queen, and 'Lusty.'
Scotland's Reformation was in full sway and their leader John Knox did not have much good to say about the Queen or her retinue. John was castigated by Knox as "Sempill the dancer." When the marriage of John and Mary Livingston was announced, Knox spread the rumor that they had to marry as Mary was with child a blatant falsehood.   
Queen Mary threw a lavish wedding for John and Mary that lasted three days. The Queen was lavish too in her gifts  including an ornate bed, jewels, and the lands of Auchtermuchty.  John's grandfather William, the second Lord Sempill, had obtained a charter of the five-pound lands of Beltrees from Queen Mary of Guise, dated October 1545.   These lands previously belonged to a family of the name of Stewart. William Stewart and Alison Kennedy had a charter of them from King James III. in 1477. This family failed in the person of another William Stewart of Beltrees in 1599 Beltrees, in the parish of Lochwinnocli, Renfrewsliire, became the patrimony of John Sempill, son of the " great Lord Sempill," as already mentioned.  John was now know as John Sempill, of Beltrees. The lands of Thirdpart were included in the contract but title would remain with his uncle William until his death and eventually passed to his son Francis. 
As Mary Livingston was now married, she was no longer a maid of honor but remained a court favorite and continued in the Queen's retinue as a Lady-in-waiting and Keeper of the Queeen's Jewels. John and Mary were at Palace Hollyroodhouse when Riccio was murdered in the Queen's chamber. Immediately after the murder, the Queen asked Mary Livingston to request that her husband remove a box containing her foreign correspondence and cypher keys from David Riccio's chamber then under the guard of John's father, Robert.   The couple were also with Queen Mary at Lochleven where John helped Queen Mary escape from Lochleven  After her escape, John remained loyal although his father, Robert, was on the vanguard of the Protestant forces at Langside in spite of remaining a Catholic. With Queen Mary's flight to England, and the Marian Civil War, John was not in the best of positions poiltically.
In Nov 1570, the Regent had demanded gifts from the Queen to be turned over to him and ordered John to be imprisoned in Blackness Castle.  In 1573, the Regent wanted English assistance in the siege of Edinburgh castle, he directed several sons of Lords, including John, be sent to Queen Elizabeth as hostages for the good conduct of the Scots to assure the safe return of Sir William Drury, his army, and cannon.    John, ever faithful to the Marian cause, was not a willing participant.
Robert Sempill died between Feb 1574 and 17 Jan 1576 and the heritable title of Sheriff would eventually go to his grandson Robert who was only six or so years of age at that time. Instead, John became Sheriff. This did nothing to shield him from the vengful Regent.
"In the beginning of the year 1577,  a circumstance occurred which the Regent eagerly seized upon as a fit opportunity for again oppressing the Hamilton family. Queen Mary, previously to her retreat into England, had bestowed upon Mary Livingstoun, one of her maids of honour, a certain portion of land. This lady had married John Sempill of Beltrees,. and Morton, to one of whose estates the property lay contiguous, resolved to reduce the deed of gift, and convert it to his own use.  .
The business was accordingly bronglit before the Court of Session, where Morton urged that the gift was null and void, as the Crown lands could not be alienated. Beltrees answered ' That it was a plain deed of gift, under the Great and Privy Seal, and therefore could not be recalled.' The plaintiff, however, was both party and judge, for he sat in person to browbeat the judges and the defender, Sempill, seeing his plea likely to be lost, in a great rage openly protested that if he lost his suit he should lose his life too. His uncle, Whitefuird of Milntoune, fell into the same violent passion, and alluding to Morton's low stature, said * that Nero was but a dwarf compared to Mortoun.' These and other intemperate expressions uttered out of Court, gave the Regent a handle, and proceedings were instituted against both uncle and nephew. Beltrees was taken in to Edinburgh, but Milnetoun absconding was apprehended at Bute. A report was industriously spread by the creatures of the government, that these two persons had been hired by Lord Claud Hamilton to murder the Regent, and the torture was had recourse to, to make them criminate that nobleman. Beltrees, naturally weak and timorous, sunk under the first application of the Boot, and confessed everything they wished but Milnetoun, a man of a more determined spirit, resolutely bore all their torments with unshaken constancy, and asserted his own and Lord Claud's innocence. He was shortly afterwards discharged but such cried and arbitrary proceedings excited the highest indignation, and made Morton's government be universally detested."  
Flints found at Nervelstone and Nether Broadhouse suggest Stone Age Man inhabited this area prior to 2300BC. There is archaeological evidence of settlements in both the Early Bronze Age (2300BC-1100BC) and the Late Bronze Age (1100BC-500BC). Items from a bronze horde found in 1790 at Gavelmoss Farm are displayed in the Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum and the Kelvingrove Museum. A form of Pictish is likely to have been spoken in the area at this time.
From 500BC Iron Age Man inhabited the area in structures such as the fort on Knockmade Hill, or in the small village at the confluence of the Berry Burn and the River Calder, or in one of the many stone circle huts which are still identifiable today. Of the 16 or so Iron Age tribes which migrated into Scotland it was the Damnonii who settled here to form part of the Kingdom of the Britons of Strathclyde.
The dominant language from 500BC-450AD was Britonic and some local place names are derived from this. Calder, as in the river, means “a hard water”, from the Britonic “caledwyr“ and Locher means a “burn which forms pools“.
The next migration into the area was of the Gaels , specifically the Goidelic tribe , and this took place around 400AD. Like the Britons already in the area, the Gaels were ethnic Celts. After a long period of transition their language, Irish Gaelic or Erse, fused with Britonic and a dialect of Scots Gaelic evolved. This is traceable in local farm names such as Balgreen ( baile grein = sunny farm/hamlet ), Moniabrock ( moine-nan-broc = moor of the badger ) or Cloak ( cloch = large stone ).
The name Lochwinnoch was originally attributed to the loch which was renamed Castle Semple Loch in the late 18th century. It was not until around 1560 that the name was directly linked to a settlement and this was the the village which developed around the post-Reformation kirk at the foot of Johnshill, the Kirktoun of Lochwinnoch.
The earliest record of the name is contained in a Charter dated 1158 which gives the spelling as Lochinauche. From then until the compilation of the “Cairn of Lochwinnoch“ by local surgeon Andro Crawfurd (1786-1854), more than 60 different spellings have been found, though most were of an ad-hoc nature. The standardisation of today’s spelling evolved about 1860-1870.
The derivation of the name is thought to have evolved out of the Britonic language ( Llwchyn-Uwch meaning “upper little loch“ or “loch prone to flooding“ ) and then absorbed into the local dialect of Scots Gaelic as Locheunach meaning “loch rich in birds” before being anglicised into Lochwinnoch. It has occasionally been suggested that the origin is from either of two Breton saints called Winnoc or from St Winnin after whom Kilwinning is named. There is no direct or folk-lore evidence linking either St Winnoc to the village and the claim is not supported by the British Orthodox Church which venerates both saints. The linkage to St Winnin was first given in Johnston’s book on Scottish Place Names in 1892. But his research was inaccurate on several key points and the derivation has subsequently been dismissed by local historians.
The history of Lochwinnoch is inextricably linked to that of the Castle Semple Estate and the three families who owned it for about 450 years.
SECTION 2 THE ESTATE OWNERS
THE SEMPLES ( SEMPILL ) c1470 – 1733
The early history of the area is dominated bythe activities of the great feudal family of Semple and their rise to power through the patronage of the House of Stewart
King David I gave his “High Steward“, Walter Fitzalan, huge tracts of land including the “launs o’ Lochinauche“ some time before 1150. From this the House of Stewart evolved and became the Royal House of Scotland. Walter founded Paisley Abbey about 1165 and the “cappelam at Lochinauche“ became a dependant chapel to the Abbey.
The Sempill ( Semple ) family supported the Stewarts and this ensured their advancement at Court and their material progress. The name Sempill is first recorded in 1246 when Robert de Sempill witnessed the donation of the church at Largs to the monks of Paisley Abbey. Then, as Steward of the Barony of Renfrew, he witnessed Charters in 1280 and 1309, the latter under the seal of James, High Steward of Scotland. His two sons, Robert and Thomas, supported Robert the Bruce, the elder son being rewarded for his services with “ whole lands and pertinents which belonged to John Balliol, lying in the tenement of Largs, to be held by him and his heirs in free barony “. The younger son, Thomas, fell at Bannockburn in 1314.
William de Sempill succeeded as Steward of Renfrew c 1340. Around this time the family acquired the lands of Eliotstoun ( now known as Elliston ) within the Parish of Lochwinnoch and this became the territorial designation of the chiefly line for the next 160 years. During these years the family increased their power and influence in Renfrewshire and beyond.
In 1367 Thomas de Sempill of Elliestoun is given the lands of Sanquhar by Charter.
In 1375 Sir John Sempill received a Charter from King Robert II comprising the grant which the Earl of Carrick, the King’s eldest son, had made to him of lands of Glasford in Lanarkshire. The daughter of Sir John Sempill, Jean, married Sir John Stewart, Sheriff of Bute, an ancestor of the Marquis of Bute.
In 1421, the next in the Sempill line, also Sir John, was one of the Commissioners appointed to negotiate the release of James I from the English. In 1423, he was given safe passage to Durham by order of King James I “ to wait on his Majesty “. He later sat in the parliaments which met in the early 1440’s in Edinburgh and Stirling.
In 1451 further lands were secured by Charter to Sir Robert Sempill of Elliestoun. In 1463, his son Sir William became Hereditary Sheriff of the County of Renfrew and was conferred with a chapter of the Baronies of Elliestoun and Castletoun by King James III. A decade or so later Sir Thomas Sempill, Sheriff of Renfrew, moved the family seat to Castletoun. Sir Thomas died at the Battle of Sauchieburn in 1488 and was succeeded by his son Sir John Sempill who was created Lord Sempill in that same year.
The First Lord Sempill, had Castletoun rebuilt and renamed Castle Sempill. In 1505 he founded a Collegiate Church close to the castle and dedicated it to the “honour of God, and the blessed Virgin Mary, for the prosperity of his sovereign James IV and Margaret his Queen, for the soul of Margaret Colville of Ochiltree his former spouse and also for the salvation of his own soul and that of Margaret Crichton his present wife and all of his predecessors and successors and all the faithful deceased“.
John Ist Lord Sempill died at Flodden in 1513. The Collegiate Church was extended to accommodate the tomb recess of its founder within the apse. Today the church is under the care of Historic Scotland and considered a remarkable example of Gothic ecclesiastical architecture.
The eldest son, William, succeeded to the title and obtained a charter to the lordship with the assistance of the Regent Albany in 1515. The 2nd Lord Sempill was Lord Judiciary and heritable Baillie of the Regality of Paisley. More importantly he was a member of the Privy Council of James V in which role he favoured the marriage of the infant Mary, Queen of Scots,to the Edward, son of Henry VIII of England. William died in 1548 and was succeeded, as 3rd Lord Sempill, by his son Robert who was later to be known as the ”Great Lord Sempill“.
In 1547, the year prior to his father’s death, Robert had fought at the Battle of Pinkie and was taken prisoner by the English. He later became a supporter of the Queen Regent, Mary of Guise, widow of James V and was devoted to the interest of Mary Queen of Scots. Indeed, in 1560, Castle Sempill came under attack because of his opposition to the Reformation. However, after the murder of the Mary’s husband, Earl Darnley, Robert entered into a bond of association with other Scots peers to promote Mary’s son as King James VI. He fought against the Queen and Bothwell at the Battle of Carberry Hill and was a signatory to the warrant imprisoning Mary in Lochleven Castle. In 1568 he fought with Regent Moray at the Battle of Langside and in “consideration for this and many valuable services to king and government“ was given a charter to the lands of Paisley Abbey “upon the forfeiture of these from Lord Claud Hamilton”. The Hamiltons were later to regain these lands.
Of interest, within the wider context of Lochwinnoch’s history, it was through the Great Lord Sempill’s association with Regent Moray and the advancement this patronage secured for the family, that later the first bridge across the River Calder was named the Regent Moray Bridge, now more familiarly known as Bridgend.
During his tenure the Great Lord Sempill engaged in long-running feuds with the Houses of Eglinton and Glencairn – the Montgomery and Cunningham families respectively. These were dangerous times and in around 1570 Lord Robert built a small, easily defended stronghold, the Peel Castle, on an islet in the loch. This remained a place of relative safety for the family for some 150 years until it’s “dingin’ doon“ around 1735 as recorded in the Legend of Ringan Sempill. This Sempill was by reputation a “warlock“ and the ruins of the Peel Castle he frequented can still be viewed today. Robert, the 3rd and Great Lord Sempill died in 1572.
Though he did not succeed to his father’s title, John, the 7th son of the Great Lord Sempill by his second wife, laid claim to his place in the family history. John married Mary, daughter of Alexander the 5th Lord Livingstone, who was one of the Maids of Honour to Mary Queen of Scots and immortalised in the folk-ballad :
“There was Mary Beaton, and Mary Seaton, Mary Carmichael and me “
This relationship allowed John to become a great favourite of the Queen and the Sempills prospered well under her patronage. However, this was the time of the Reformation. The Sempills had not renounced Roman Catholicism. John was castigated as “Sempill the Dancer“ by the Reformer, John Knox and in 1577 was accused of treason for conspiring to murder the Regent Morton. Denounced by one of his co-conspirators, he was sentenced to be hung, drawn, and quartered. The influence of family and well-connected friends enabled this sentence to be reduced to imprisonment and he was later released.
It was John’s elder, half- brother Robert who, in 1572, had succeeded the Great Lord Semple. The 4th Lord Sempill assisted at the baptism of Prince Henry in 1594 and attended on the Queen at the celebratory banquet for the event at Stirling Castle. James V1 appointed Robert as Privy Councillor and sent him as Ambassador to Spain in 1596. And shortly after that his scholarly uncle, Sir James Sempill of Beltrees was appointed Ambassador to France by James VI and I.
Robert , the 4th Lord Sempill, continued the family allegiance to the Roman Catholic faith and, in 1608, he was excommunicated by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. This meant that he could no longer hold public office.
The 5th and 6th Lords, Hugh and Francis respectively, led somewhat less public lives. The latter died without issue and was succeeded as 7th Lord by his brother Robert . He supported the Royalist cause in the Civil War and was fined by Cromwell’s Common-Wealth under the Act of Grace and Pardon in 1654. By this time, their long royalist association had also resulted in the family estates being significantly diminished through enforced land forfeitures.
The 7th Lord was predeceased by his first two sons, both without issue, and was succeeded by his third son, Francis. This was a significant succession as Francis, the 8th Lord Sempill, was the first to become a Protestant and so became the first Sempill to take a seat in Parliament since the reign of Mary Queen of Scots. Embracement of the reformed religion came about as Francis, while a minor, had been placed under the care of the protestant Earl of Dundonald. Francis, 8th Lord Sempill, died without issue in 1684 and was succeeded by his elder sister, Anne, as Baroness Sempill. This succession was possible by a Deed of Entail confirmed by the Crown in 1685. Three years later Baroness Sempill secured a new charter to the title which granted succession to her daughters should there be no male issue. Anne married Francis Abercrombie of Fettermier in Aberdeenshire and was succeeded to the title by three of her sons ! It would not be until 1835 that the title would next pass to the female line.
Anne’s eldest son, Francis the 10th Lord Sempill, sat in Parliament from 1703 and was strongly opposed to the Union with England. In the Craigievar Manuscripts , the 16th Baroness Sempill was later to note that “not withstanding very considerable offers if he would comply with the measures of the Court in relation to the Union, he ( Francis ) gave that treaty all opposition in his power and voted against every article”. Francis was unmarried, died in 1716, and was buried in the Chapel Royal at Holyrood. The title passed to his brother, John.
The 11th Lord Sempill supported the Hanoverians during the 1715 Jacobite Rebellion and trained an Ayrshire regiment for the fight against Prince Charlie. He died in 1727, also without issue, was buried at Holyrood and succeeded by his brother, Hugh as the 12th Lord Sempill.
Hugh was a professional soldier whose military career had seen action in Flanders, Spain, and France. He was later to become Colonel of the 25th Regiment of Foot at the outset of the 1745 Jacobite rising and was Brigadier-General in command of the left-wing of the Royalist army at Culloden in 1746. He died that year and was interred at the West Church in Drumsaisle, Aberdeenshire.
However, Hugh 12th Lord Sempill had brought his family’s association with Lochwinnoch to a close many years earlier. In 1727, the year he had succeeded to the title, Hugh sold the estate at Castle Sempill. By then the Sempills had become less wealthy and influential their years as powerful Barons in the county of Renfrew ended.
The family had little or no connection with Lochwinnoch thereafter. Until, in the 1990’s the present Lord Semple, a marketing professional, set up a Semple Family Association, now referred to as Clan Semple, and formed some link to the place through the Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park Authority.
Just as the Semples had acquired their lands through royal patronage, the Macdowalls had similarly been granted lands in the south-west of Scotland. They were made Lords of Galloway with estates around Garthland Tower near Stranraer.
MACDOWALLS OF CASTLE SEMPLE 1727 – 1814
In the late 1600’s, like other sons from West of Scotland families, William MacDowall sailed to the West Indies to make his fortune. He settled on the islands of St Kitts and Nevis to work on the sugar plantations. It was there that he met his lifelong friend James Milliken, originally from Ayrshire. In time both men succeeded in becoming plantation owners. The fortunes of both men were enhanced considerably through marriage James Milliken married the widow of a well established Bristol plantation owner and William MacDowall married her daughter. In 1724 William now aged 46 decided to return to Scotland. His wife and 6 year old son would join him some 3 years later.
William MacDowall, the First of Castle Semple ( 1727-1748 )
Although most of his business interests were in London and Bristol, William determined to settle in Scotland. In 1727 he purchased Shawfield Mansion in Glasgow which stood on Argyle Street at the junction with what is now Glassford Street. He also sought to purchase a country estate as an investment. In 1727 he bought the Castle Semple Estate of Lord Semple “ being one of the best inland estates in Scotland “
William had amassed considerable wealth and at the time he purchased the Castle Semple Estate was considered to be “ the richest commoner in Scotland “. His commitments included
* The maintenance of shipping to transport goods and provisions to his plantation
In the West Indies and to return with cargoes of sugar.
* Arranging a supply of plantation managers and labourers
* The construction and management of Sugar Houses in Scotland to refine the imported
Prior to his buying Shawfield Mansion it had been badly damaged during the 1725 rioting over the Malt Tax. William therefore had to have the house largely rebuilt. In addition, the old Semple home, “Castletoun”, had fallen into disrepair and was no longer a fitting residence.
Seven years after he had taken ownership, William replaced the old building in 1735 with the much larger and finer Castle Semple House.
As principal land owner, William MacDowall was responsible for the Kirk and parishioners of the extensive Parish of Lochwinnoch. The old church building at the foot of Johnshill had been negelected and, under MacDowall’s stewardship, was partly rebuilt in 1729. This included the construction of a new gable on the south-west face which remains standing today ( Auld Simon ). Around this time parishioners living on the south side of the Loch were requesting that a bridge be built to replace the ferry from Loch Hall to the small pier where the Skippers Path joined the lochside. A bridge would ease their journey to and from the kirk and the market.
William’s wife, Mary, who had spent all her life in the West Indies, died shortly after coming to Scotland. She is buried in Glasgow Cathedral. His second wife, Isabel Wallace of Woolmet near Edinburgh, gave him two sons and a daughter. James, managed the St Kitt’s estates while John looked after the Woolmet Estate. When William died in 1748, his eldest son from his first marriage, also named William, inherited the Castle Semple Estate.
William MacDowall the Second of Castle Semple 1748-1776
William was 30 years old when he inherited the estate. In the same year he married Elizabeth Graham, daughter of Admiral Graham, by whom he had 12 children. Four years later he bought the Garthland lands and title from his cousin in Galloway. His title became William MacDowall, 20 th of Garthland and 2 nd of Castle Semple.
He continued to manage family businesses in Scotland in close partnership with the Millikens and also the Houston family from Johnstone who had ships plying between the Clyde and the West Indies. Members of the family looked after the overseas interests.
William was one of the founders of the Ship Bank in 1752. This was the first bank established in Glasgow to provide venture capital for traders and industrialists.
In 1760 Shawfield Mansion in Glasgow was sold to John Glassford and the Ralston Estate and lands at Cathcart were purchased. In the same year William had the wooden bridges over the River Calder in Lochwinnoch and the River Cart in the Howwood replaced with fine stone bridges.
In 1768 William was elected Member of Parliament for Renfrewshire.
In the 1760’s the small tower on Kenmuir Hill was built almost certainly as a vantage point over the estate. The 1770’s witnessed many improvements on the estate planned gardens to the front and rear of the house, open parklands with carriage drives, re-established fish ponds, extensive tree planting, and an additional 250 acres of agricultural land exposed by a drainage system on the loch.
Copyright National Museum of Scotland
Before William died in 1776, European wars during in the 1750’s/1760’s and the American War of Independence had damaged the MacDowall fortunes. The ensuing movement to abolish slavery would more significantly affect the family’s wealth and influence.Of note, Kelvingrove Museum has a set of silver Communion cups inscribed in Latin, “William MacDowall of Castle Semple generous man gave four of these cups for use in Lochwinnoch Church, 1756”.
William MacDowall, 21 st of Garthland and 3 rd of Castle Semple 1776-1810
William III remained unmarried, giving much of his life to politics and civic matters.He was a non-practising advocate and served as Rector of Glasgow University from 1795 till 1797. He was a Member of Parliament from 1783 until his death in 1810 and acted as Lord Lieutenant of Renfrewshire from 1794, again until his death. His contribution is recognised in a Memorial Plaque in Paisley Abbey.
The Macdowalls were prominent in Scottish society at this time William III’s brother, James was Lord Provost of Glasgow in the 1790’s and is assosciated with the foundation of the Royal Infirmary in the city. Another brother, David, was Governor General of Bombay.
By 1776, many of the Macdowall enterprises had been incorporated into the larger business of Alexander Houston & Co. This was involved in shipping sugar,rum,cotton and tobacco across the Atlantic and returning with herring and goods required on the plantations in the Caribbean. This business collapsed in 1795 bringing a significant reduction in the wealth of the MacDowalls.
William III’s time as Laird of Castle Semple witnessed the transformation of Lochwinnoch from a largely agricultural/cottage industry village economy to one with a greater industrial base.
MacDowall was prominent in the management of this change.
The development of mills in the village necessitated an increase in population to provide the workforce for these. The new mill owners, as in Macdowall’s case, came from the wealthy landed class whose focus had hitherto been on farming. Changes to farming methods coincided with the growing industrialisation and farm-workers were encouraged to move from the farms into the village to work in the mills. Housing would be required for this new village population and MacDowall developed his plan for the New Town of Lochwinnoch from the existing centre in the Kirktoun around Auld Simon westwards to Calderhaugh.
From 1788-1795 MacDowall feu’d parts of Calderhaugh and during these years 53 new houses were built on what are now High Street and Main Street. Additional feus were granted in subsequent years. In 1791 a feu charter was granted by MacDowall to Messrs Fulton, Buchanan and Pollock for the land and water rights to build Calderhaugh Mill (the Silk Mill flats of today). MacDowall owned Lochwinnoch Old Mill and the Mill in Factory Street, now St Winnoc Road, in partnership with other wealthy villagers.
By the end of the century the Kirk at the foot of Johnshill, which had been partly rebuilt in 1729 by William I of Castle Semple, was again in disrepair. William III incorporated a new location for the replacement Parish Church into his New Town Plan and as patron of the church he was responsible for it’s construction. The new parish church opened in 1808 in a position central to the “new” village.
In 1792 William had given land to build the Burghers Kirk and manse, now the Calder United Free Church, and paid for the construction of part of the tower. He withdrew support, however, when told that the ministers would not be chosen by himself but by the congregation. The tower was not completed until 1815 when the new laird, John Harvey, donated £50 for the purpose.
William MacDowall, 22 nd of Garthland and 4 th of Castle Semple 1810-1814
On the death of William III in 1810 the wealth of the family had reached the point where his nephew, also William, had no choice but to put both family estates on the market. The Garthland Estate near Wigton was sold in 1811 and the Castle Semple Estate in 1814.
During the Lairdship of William III, the family had purchased the lands of Barr including Barr Castle in1778. In 1820, William 4 th was able to buy Garpel House which stood on this land and, as the original Garthland Estate had been sold, this was renamed Garthland House. This remained in the family until 1935 when it was sold to the Mill Hill Foreign Missionary Society. It latterly became St Joseph’s Nursing Home.
Throughout the period 1727-1814 the MacDowall family had significant influence in Scotland and were the principal landowners in the Parish of Lochwinnoch. From the time of the Reformation landowners were the Heritors of the Parishes with responsibility for providing a church with a bell and belfry, seats for at least two-thirds of the parishioners, a manse with a garden, a glebe of at least four acres, and a burial ground for the parish.In addition, they had responsibility for Poor Relief in the village and for contributing towards education by providing Parish Schools.
The current chief of the MacDowalls, Professor Fergus Day Hort MacDowall of Garthland, Baron of Garochloyne, Garthland and Castle Semple, Chief of the Name and Arms of MacDowall, has been resident in Canada for many years. The family still own lands around the village the Barr castle and surrounding land, the west side of the “Engine Tees “ ( more correctly the “Ingaunees”), fields on the Glenlora road and behind the recently demolished Garthland House, and Lochwinnoch Golf Club is on land rented from MacDowall.
The contrasting fates of Alan Turing and the traitor Lord Sempill
Most British people have heard of Alan Turing. You would have to have studiously avoided learning about the the history of Second World War, computer science, code breaking and gay rights issues in order to have remained ignorant of one of the greatest mathematical minds of the 20th Century and his extraordinary contribution to the British war effort. Fewer people have heard of William Forbes-Sempill, 19th Lord Sempill, yet his influence on the British war effort was no less dramatic.
Alan Turing was born in London to Julius Mathison Turing, a recently returned Indian civil servant and Ethel Sara Stoney, the daughter of a noted railway engineer. As a child he attended private schools, eventually earning a place at Cambridge University where he graduated with a first class honours degree in Mathematics. Turing managed to thrive at establishment institutions like Sherbourne and Cambridge University because of his intelligence, however he was treated with suspicion by the establishment elite due to his non-aristocratic background, eccentric nature, intimidating genius and his homosexual tendencies.
After obtaining a PhD from the prestigious Princeton University in New Jersey he returned to the UK to work with the secret Government Code and Cypher School (GCCS) intelligence service where he concentrated on cryptanalysis of the German Enigma code .
During the Second World War Turing was an important figure at the Bletchley Park codebreaking facility where he made many invaluable contributions to the deciphering of complex German military codes. He was described by fellow codebreaker Asa Briggs "the genius" that Bletchley Park needed.
It has been estimated that the work of Turing and his colleagues at Bletchley Park shortened the war by between two and four years, and that without their contributions the outcome of the war would have been uncertain. Turing didn't only make a significant contribution to the British war effort, he also did pioneering work in computing and is widely considered to be the father of computer science and artificial intelligence.
William Forbes-Sempill was the Eton educated son of John Forbes-Sempill, 9th Baronet of Craigievar and hereditary member of the House of Lords.
During the First World War the younger Sempill served as a pilot with the Royal Flying Corps and then with the Royal Navy Air Service. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his service during the war.
|Captain Sempill showing a Gloster Sparrowhawk |
to Admiral Togo Heihachiro, in 1921.
After American concerns were raised about the growing naval strength of the Japanese, Sempill's mission in Japan was officially discontinued. However Sempill carried on providing support to the Japanese by passing classified military and technical information to Japanese Naval attache in London, Captain Teijiro Toyoda.
In 1925 he was questioned about his distribution of official secrets, but for undisclosed reasons he was never prosecuted under the official secrets act.
By the 1930s Sempill was an active member of several far-right, fascist and Anti-Semitic organisations including the Anglo-German Fellowship, The Link and Archibald Ramsay's The Right Club, (which was a secretive organisation with the aim of ridding the Tory party of Jews). Sempill was far from the only member of the British establishment elite to embrace the fascist ideology. The founder of the British Union of Fascists was Sir Oswald Mosley, 6th Baronet, of Ancoats, whose fascist activities received a lot of positive press from the 1st Viscount Rothsmere's Daily Mail newspaper.
The British Union of Fascists counted dozens of Knights, Earls, Dukes, Barons, Lords, Ladies and Viscounts amongst its members. The Royal family, who were at the very epicentre centre of this orgy of hereditary entitlement and establishment ennoblement, also had a number of keen fascists, Edward VIII maintained notoriously close relations with Nazi Germany, causing their arms industry minister Albert Speer to lament that "I am certain that through him, permanent friendly relations could have been achieved. If he had stayed, everything would have been different. His abdication was a severe loss for us.". The Queen mother famously stated that she would have been happy for the Nazis to invade the UK, as long as they kept the Royal family, and the Royal adults famously taught the infant Elizabeth to do Nazi salutes in the gardens of Balmoral castle.
Most of the intelligence files on Sempill's activities during the 1930s and 1940s mysteriously "disappeared" from the national archive, however it is known that he continued to receive regular payments from the Japanese government owned Mitsubishi Corporation, and entertained several high ranking Nazis throughout the period.
Despite his track record of passing classified information to foreign powers and his collusion with fascists, Sempill was assigned to the Admiralty in 1939 on the outbreak of war with Nazi Germany.
Sempill's position allowed him access to highly sensitive information about the latest British military hardware and official secrets. In June 1940 MI5 discovered that Sempill was still receiving payments from Mitsubishi, and an investigation revealed that he was almost certainly passing secret information to the Japanese. However the Attorney General (Lord Donald Somervell, Baron Somervell of Harrow) advised against prosecution, and Sempill was allowed to keep his position in the Admiralty and his access to sensitive information.
In 1941 Sempill personally intervened to secure the release of the Japanese ambassador Makahara, who had been arrested under suspicion of spying.
Six months after the August 1941 Newfoundland Conference meeting between British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and the U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Japanese Embassy in London sent detailed notes about the meeting back to Tokyo. These encrypted notes were intercepted and decoded at Bletchley Park and the transcript was passed to Churchill, who noted that they were "very accurate", Three months later, further notes on Churchill's personal agenda and inner circle were intercepted on their way from Japanese Embassy in London to Tokyo. An investigation by Anthony Eden concluded that only two men could have created the notes: Commander McGrath or Lord Sempill.
|The British Prime Minister Winston Churchill intervened |
to protect Lord Sempill despite a mountain of
evidence the he'd been spying for the Japanese.
In Early December a raid on his office found him in possession of classified documents that he had been instructed to return months previously. Then around a week later he was caught making phone calls to the Japanese (more than a week after the Japanese invasion of British Malaya and their attack on Pearl Harbour). Sempill was made to resign, but he was never prosecuted for his treasonous relationship with the Japanese that did so much to help them to develop the technology they used to kill thousands of British and American servicemen during the Pacific War.
Sempill's activities were never made public during his lifetime and he continued to live the privileged life of establishment nobility, keeping his position in the House of Lords that he had inherited from his father, and even receiving the chairmanships of the Institute of Advanced Motorists and the British Gliding Association.
Sempill died peacefully in 1956 having never faced punishment or public criticism for his crimes. His hereditary seat in the Lords passed to his daughter Ann, and his Baronetry to his younger brother Ewan. It was only in 2002 that the scale of his treachery and his fascist and Anti-Semitic tendencies came to light after classified documents about his activities were finally released into the public domain .
|All of the vital codebreaking activities that took place at Bletchley Park |
remained shrouded in secrecy until well into the 1970s.
Turing continued his work with computers, famously devising the Turing Test as a means of determining whether a computer has achieved artificial intelligence, a test that remains an essential concept in the philosophy of artificial intelligence. He also developed the LU Decomposition method (complex algebra) and did pioneering work in the field of morphogenesis, (which is the study of how biological organisms develop their shape).
In 1952 Turing was charged with the "crime" of Gross Indecency after admitting to having had a homosexual relationship with a man who later robbed his house. He was found guilty and given the choice of imprisonment or chemical castration.
This conviction meant that his security clearance was revoked, which meant that he was barred from continuing his cryptographic work with the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).
Turing chose to be chemically castrated rather than face imprisonment.
On the 8th of June 1954 Turing was found dead by his cleaner. A post mortem examination determined that the cause of death was cyanide poisoning, however no forensic examination of the property took place, and his death was officially attributed to suicide.
Many people, including his mother, refused to accept the suicide verdict. The ambiguous circumstances of his death and the lack of a thorough investigation mean that nobody will ever know whether his death was intentional suicide, accidental poisoning, or the result of foul play.
Turing's brilliance was not recognised until years after his death. In 1966 the Turing Award was established to for technical contributions to the computing community. It is widely considered to be the computing world's highest honour, equivalent to a Nobel Prize in computing. It took until 2009 for the British establishment to make an official public apology, which was made by Prime Minister Gordon Brown on behalf of the British government for the way in which Turing was treated after the war.
The similarity between the two men lies in the way the war conduct of both of them remained shrouded in secrecy until long after their deaths. Sempill was never exposed as the traitor he was, and it seems that somebody intervened to ensure that many presumably incriminating files from the 1930s and 1940s "disappeared", never to reach the public domain at all. Meanwhile, all the hugely important work undertaken at Bletchley Park remained secret until the 1970s, meaning that Turing's outstanding contribution to the war effort was not recognised until long after his death.
|In the UK, living in a castle like this and an Eton education |
seems to provide immunity from prosecution for treason.
What is remarkable about the contrasting fates of these two men is the way that members of the British establishment (including the Prime Minister and the Attorney General) repeatedly intervened to protect one of their own, despite his fascist tendencies and decades of treasonous behavior, whilst the establishment people Turing had known and associated with during his time at Cambridge University and at Bletchley Park refused to intervene to help him when criminal charges were brought against him for the trivial offence of engaging in homosexual acts, despite his outstanding contribution to the war effort.
It seems amazing that British nobility, including the Prime Minister, would repeatedly intervene to ensure that another member of their privileged class avoided prosecution for the incredibly serious crime of passing official secrets to foreign powers at a time of war, yet wouldn't do anything to lean on prosecutors to drop the charges against a war hero and genius who happened to have been born into the "lower social orders".
The British nobility turned a blind eye the most heinous of crimes (espionage, treason, fraternising with the enemy, Anti-Semitism) because it was one of their own class doing it, yet they refused to intervene to prevent a true war hero from suffering homosexual prosecution and chemical castration, simply because he was not one of the upper classes.
This disparity in the way these two men were treated illustrates the classism that is still rampant in Britain today.
If you're one of the establishment elitists you can do pretty much anything without fear of criticism or punishment from your fellow elitists who maintain an enormously disproportionate influence over the criminal justice system, the political system, and the media.
However if you're from non-elitist stock, woe betide you if you ever dare to step out of line, because the establishment elitists will make you suffer for it.
It's one set of rules for the establishment class, and another much harsher and more unforgiving set of rules for the rest of us. It's the way it's always been, and it's the way it will continue to be until something is done to confront the absolute scourge of classism in Britain.