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Cowan 2
Arms: Argent, a saltire and chief Gules, the former charged with an escallop Or.

James Cowan of Ross Hall

SOURCE, NOTES, & CREDITS: Illustration for background is the armiger’s bookplate, discovered on the inside of the front cover of a copy of ”Fac Simile of an Ancient Heraldic Manuscript” emblazoned by Sir David Lindsay of the Mount, Lyon King of Arms 1542, edited by David Laing, L.L.D., Edinburgh, published by William Patterson, MDCCCLXXVIII ( 1873 ). The inside front cover holds two bookplates, the second of which is heraldic and of interest in the name of James Cowan of Ross Hall. The source for the blazon is: Sir James Balfour Paul’s “Ordinary of Arms”, second edition of 1903, page 350, No. 5183. Biographical information came from various internet sources.

James Cowan was born on 30 April 1828. He built a very successful carrying & contracting business to English and Scottish railroads and to shipping interests in Glasgow. In the 1870s he bought the estate of Ross Hill in Co. Renfrew. In 1877 he built Ross Hall, a massive red brick sandstone structure in the baronial style specifically to house his collections of silver, jewelry, porcelain, and paintings. He petitioned Lord Lyon George Burnett ( LL 1866-1890 ) for arms which were granted or matriculated in 1888. In 1890 he contracted with James Pulham & Sons to landscape and install rock gardens without regard to cost. ( They had done Buckingham Palace and Sandringham. ) Cowan continued to live at Ross Hill until his death on 6 December 1907, at age 77. The estate passed into other hands and today the estate hosts a hospital.

Curious that he had a bookplate made up with his name, territorial designation, additionally using the adjective armiger all in Latin. We think it’s an example of Romanticism of the period started by Sir Walter Scott.

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