David Kennedy Culzean Castle

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 02/11/2012 - 18:25

My questions is -  How friendly were the two of them? 
 David Kennedy(1727 - 1792) was the 10th Earl of Cassillis the man who instructed Robert Adam to build Culzean Castle(1777)
Boswell wrote according to the NTS guide book .....
The Coopers they came to Lord Cassillis at Culzean
With their hoops all tight and ready
From London they came down
Baith the Black and the Brown
And they wanted to give him a lady
Your Lordship, we pray, may not say us nae
For it's now full time you were girded (married)
Quoth the Earl  "Faith my Dears,
So great are my fears
In conscience I'd rather be yearded. (buried)
Anyone know when this verse / song was witten?  Where it appears?   Is there more to it?
The Coopers refer to the daughters of  Sir  Grey Cooper. The Earl was not amused but  forgave Boswell and friendship was restored.
It appears that earlier  Boswell was not that impressed with the earl who before inheriting the title from his brother Thomas was the local MP.  Boswell referring to him as a joker...a good honest fellow... and nothing more.  Not the Highest praise?
Were they Really Friends ?
Question Submitted by Barry

I have looked into a few of Boswell's journals concerning this. 

Boswell and the Kennedy family were probably well acquainted even before Boswell himself became an advocate in 1766, and thus became a professional colleague of David Kennedy in Edinburgh. As early as 1764 Boswell, then visiting the court of Gotha, in a journal entry likened David's brother, the 9th Earl, to the chamberlain of that court. Boswell mentions Kennedy a few times in 1767 when the two were at the same gatherings and dinners.

Kennedy became a Member of Parliament in 1768, and in 1769 Boswell stopped keeping a complete journal for a few years, so there does not appear to be any references to the relationship between the two in these years. 

On March 20, 1772, Boswell visited David Kennedy in London and "had a laugh with him". On April 5, 1773 Boswell paid another visit to Kennedy and noted in his journal that "[I] found him the same joker as formerly and nothing more. It struck me a little to think that the gentlemen of Ayrshire should be represented in Parliament by a good, honest, merry fellow indeed, but one so totally incapable of the business of legislation, and so devoid of the talent that distinguish a man in public life." Boswell then described how "[I] went into the humorous rattling style and plagued him with a new-invented dialogue between his brother, Lord Cassillis, and him ...". From the journal entry and Boswell's tone it would appear that Kennedy clearly was used to Boswell's jests, and apparently was not averse to them. Afterwards Kennedy took Boswell to a session in the House of Commons.

Boswell, "put[ting] allegiance to feudal principle before candidate" (Boswell for the Defence, p. 211) supported Kennedy in his unsuccessful re-election bid against Sir Adam Fergusson in 1774.

I have not looked through the later journals yet.

As I see it, James Boswell and David Kennedy were on cordial terms, both enjoying a good laugh and merry company. David does not appear to have been particularly vain, and may to some extent even have agreed with Boswell's characterisation of him. Apparently he sat in the House of Commons for six years, and only spoke once, which could suggest that he was himself aware of his, perhaps, lack of talents as a public speaker. This is speculation, of course, but based on Boswell's journal entries it seems a reasonable interpretation of Kennedy's personality and his relationship with Boswell.

I have yet to trace the verse you quote, but I'll let you know if I find anything.

Best wishes,




grf2012 (not verified)

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 02:08

I am quite new in my Boswell interest, but its possible the verse could be one of his Ten-Lines-a-Day verses, dated 25 Sept 1763 to 16 April 1764, my only reasoning being that the verse you are interested in has 10 lines. I am reading Boswell in Holland at present and there are several ten line verses included in this book.  Boswell was practising the art of verse.  This is only my guesswork.   If I find the particular verse whilst reading through the Boswell books, I will let you know.

Barry (not verified)

Wed, 02/29/2012 - 11:41

Thanks for the answers / information.  
I too am fairly new with my Boswell Interest.  Think the site is excellent . Keep up the good work
I had assumed the verse was after 1775 as that was the year when David Kennedy became the Earl at Culzean ( Lord Cassillis). I should have noted that in my question.  I have since reread the article and it states  -  David Kennedy showed little interest in getting married and in 1782 his friend James Boswell composed a teasing song about him.
Again I missed this information in the original question.  Sorry about that, I know I have not made things easy.  Hope this new information helps with the search.
Again thanks for the answers,  Barry.

Had a look in Boswell's later journals, and found this in "Boswell: The Applause of the Jury, 1782-1785":

Thursday 7 November [1782]:

Walked to the village of Auchinleck and rouped the farm of Stonebriggs; dined with Mr. Dun, and came home pleased with self and everybody. Found Mr. and Mrs. Hamiltons (Sundrum). Was glad to see them, and spent the night in agreeable mirth, towards which an extempore verse of a song upon the Earl of Cassillis and Miss Coopers greatly contributed.

The text for this verse is printed in a footnote to the entry by the Yale editors, who also note that "The Miss Coopers may have been daughters of Sir Grey Cooper. If so, their mother was a Kennedy."

It also seems clear that Boswell and Cassillis were at least on visiting terms and occassionally supped together in the first years after Boswell inherited Auchinleck House in 1782.


Barry (not verified)

Thu, 03/01/2012 - 20:27

In reply to by thf1977

Just a note to say  THANKS ,  very impressed.
If you find any more details about contact between James and either David or Thomas Kennedy please post them as I will be a regular visitor to the site .
Learnt today that James had fancied  being the local MP and made a doomed bid in 1784.  Had he been elected I am sure that he would have been a force to be reckoned with.
Every day we learn a little more. Thanks again