A factor in the family
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For almost two hundred years Ralstons have served as factors for properties from Aberdeenshire down into England. So

What is a factor?

The Hyperdictionary gives this Websters Dictionary definition: A steward or bailiff of an estate. [Scot.]

Steward - n. A man employed in a large family, or on a large estate, to manage the domestic concerns, supervise other servants, collect the rents or income, keep accounts, and the like. [OE. stiward, AS. st[=i]weard, stigweard, literally, a sty ward; stigu sty + weard warden, guardian, -- his first duty having been probably to attend to the domestic animals. [root]164. See {Sty} pen for swine, {Ward}.]

Bailiff - An overseer or under steward of an estate, who directs husbandry operations, collects rents, etc. [Eng.]

The first identifiable person was William Ralston (1733-1803). William was a captain in the army. On retirement he settled in Kilmaurs, Ayrshire, bought a property there and by 1785 had the extra role of factor to the Earl of Eglintoun, who had large landholdings in the area. William's brother Gavin (1731-1818) had settled in neighbouring Dreghorn in the 1750s, establishing the first connection of that family in the area. In the early 1790s their nephew William Henry Ralston (1751-1833), son of Robert(b1725) returned from a financially successful military career in India and bought Warwickhill in Dreghorn.

Perhaps the best known Ralston factors were Andrew Ralston (1831-1914) and his youngest son, Gavin (1870-1951). Andrew went to work for the Earl of Strathmore at the Glamis estate in the 1860s along with his wife Jane Wallace. Six children were born at Glamis, including Andrew Agnew (1866-1926), factor to the Earl of Hopetoun and the above mentioned Gavin.

When the Countess of Strathmore died in 1938 she left £50 in her will to Mr Gavin Ralston. The countess was the mother of the new Queen Elizabeth, who as the child Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon had known the Ralstons and counted Gavin Ralston and his Wigtonshire cousin Miss Jane Ralston as friends.

Here are some of the factors in the family, along with the estates they worked for.

Name Descended from Estate Employer
William Ralston 1733-1803

brother-in-law of Susannah Simpson, whose father was William Simpson, deputy keeper of Palace of Holyroodhouse?

formerly captain in the Army

Eglintoun, Ayrshire 1780s- Earl of Eglintoun
William Henry Ralston 1823-1866 son of William, Culmore, Wigtonshire and great great nephew of William above


Rannes and Leith Hall

Col Leith Hay

Andrew Ralston 1831-1914

ditto Glamis, 1859-1914 Earl of Strathmore

Gavin Ralston -1951

son of Andrew Glamis, 1914?- 1940s? Earl of Strathmore

Andrew Agnew Ralston 1866-1926

son of Andrew Hopetoun 1890s-1926 Earl of Hopetoun / Marquess of Linlithgow

William Henry Ralston 1863-

son of Andrew Streatham, Durham and Yorkshire estates (1928) Earl of Strathmore

Claude Lyon Ralston 1867-1928

son of Andrew Angus, Aberdeenshire, Perthshire Earl of Airlie and others

Charles W Ralston 1864-

 son of Andrew Drumlanrig (1928) Duke of Buccleuch

James Wyllie, 1775-1853 Moorston, Dailly

father of Jane Nicholson Wyllie, wife of Alexander Ralston, Lagg (1808-1861), 2nd cousin of Andrew Ralston Kilkerran Ferguson of Kilkerran

James Ferguson Wyllie, Esq., of Bolfracks, Aberfeldy, Perthshire 1802-1876

son of James Wyllie for nearly forty years Chamberlain to the late (1876) Marquess of Breadalbane

William Anderson Wyllie 1803-1895

son of James Wyllie Bargany Earl of Stair?