Revolutionary War Historical Article

The Commodore John Paul Jones Cottage Near Kirkbean, Scotland

by Donald N. Moran

Editor's Note: This article was reprinted from the July 2005 Edition of the The Liberty Tree Newsletter

During their recent tour of Revolutionary War sites in the United Kingdom, our editor Don Moran and his wife Linda along with traveling companions former Vice President General Chuck Lampman and his wife, California DAR Vice Regent Anne Donahue­Lampman, visited the cottage where John Paul Jones was born.

The cottage, located 13 miles southwest of Dumfries, Scotland, is virtually unknown. The area is quite rural, the one lane road leading to the cottage precludes any "drive by" visitors, even though it is well marked. The curator, David Kirkpatrick, advised that they receive approximately 50-60 visitors a month. Very few are Americans.

The tiny restored two room cottage is original, and is furnished with appropriate 18th century furniture. Adjacent to it the National Lottery Trust has erected a very nice visitors center - - with a surprisingly nice museum. Numerous exhibits depict the life of John Paul Jones. He was born in the cottage on July 6th, 1747 to John Paul, Sr. a gardener on William Craik's estate and Jean McDuff, his wife, who had been Mr. Craik's housekeeper.

The first born there was William Paul, who migrated to America and died in Fredericksburg, Virginia in 1763. Next came Elizabeth, then Janet. John was the fourth child, followed by another daughter, Mary Ann, and then a boy and girl, both dying in infancy. From all accounts they were happy and well provided for.

On July 30th, 1834, U.S. Navy Lieutenant Alexander B. Pinkerton purchased from his own funds the cottage and small plot of land it stands on from William Craik. He also paid to have a plaque placed in front of the cottage and by a trust fund paid for its maintenance. Thanks to the Lieutenant the cottage has survived and is now a historical attraction.

In the museum a visitor finds a full size replica of famed artist Jean-Antoine Houdon's bust of Commodore Jones; original paintings by Scottish artist William Gilkerson depicting the major events in Jones' life; a beautiful four foot model of the Jones' ship Bonhomme Richard; and numerous other mementoes and documents of the life of John Paul Jones.

One of the rooms in the visitor's center is set up to view a video on the life of Jones, and it is very well done and worthy of the time to view it.

In addition to the John Paul Jones Cottage, we also visited the Kirkbean Parish Church of Scotland and our paid our respects to John Paul, Senior. The memorial is alleged to have been placed there by his son, the Commodore. It reads: "John Paul Senior who died at Arbigland the 24 October 1767, Universally Esteemed."

Without a doubt it is one of the nicest tributes to an American found in the United Kingdom.

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