County: Aberdeenshire
Issued on: Return
Date of presentation: 26/07/1901
Number issued: 1


Gold medal, to:

1st Bn. Gordon Highlanders –
Captain Francis R. GREGSON

Presentation made by Mr James Duncan (the oldest tenant on the estate), at a luncheon held in a marquee, in the park to the south of the castle (Place of Tilliefoure).

Obverse with representation of a British soldier, two rifles, and: "South African Campaign, 1899-1901".

Reverse: "Presented by the tenants, servants, and their friends to Francis R. Gregson, Esq., on his return from the seat of war. Tilliefoure July 26th, 1901".

Supplied by Mr John Duncan, jeweller, Kemnay.

Aberdeen Press & Journal



Mr Francis R. GREGSON of Tilliefoure met with a very hearty reception yesterday from the tenantry, servants, and many friends, on his return from the seat of war, where he has been attached to the Gordon Highlanders as a captain, and has occupied important positions on the staffs of General Buller and General French. In former times Mr GREGSON acted as a war correspondent for the “St James’s Gazette” and the “Morning Post”, and in that capacity saw active service in the first Egyptian campaign under Sir Garnet (now Lord) Wolseley. On the death of his uncle, Sir Archibald Grant of Monymusk, Mr GREGSON inherited the fine estate of Tilliefoure, about seven miles from Kwmnay, and pleasantly situated at the foot of the southern slope of the Benachie range of hills. There he settled down, and did much to improve the estate. On the outbreak of hostilities in South Africa, his martial spirit and indomitable courage again manifested themselves, and when volunteers had an opportunity of offering their services, he soon placed himself at the disposal of his Queen and country, and was accepted for duty at the front. He went out as a member of General Buller’s staff, but afterwards became attached as a captain to a company of the 1st Gordon Highlanders. He saw a good deal of active service with that battalion, and subsequently when attached to General French’s staff. Though he escaped being wounded, Mr GREGSON contracted the dreaded enteric fever, and was laid aside from active duty, and subsequently he was invalided home. For some time recently Mr GREGSON has been sojourning in Switzerland and the south of England, desirous of regaining his wonted health and strength, and when he stepped off the train at Kemnay Station yesterday morning he was looking wonderfully fresh and vigorous, although his step has not yet regained its wonted fleetness.

Awaiting the arrival of the train at the new station at Kemnay were members of F Company of the 4th V.B. Gordon Highlanders, with pipers and drummers, and a large number of the villagers of Kemnay, together with many school children. …….

Rev. A. Hood Smith, stepping forward and addressing Mr GREGSON, said – Mr GREGSON, on behalf of the volunteers in Kemnay, I have been asked to extend to you a cordial welcome on your return to our neighbourhood from the seat of war in South Africa. …….

After inspecting the clothing and accoutrements of the members of the local volunteers, Mr GREGSON complimented Sergeant Emslie on the very smart appearance of his men, and on the manner in which they had presented arms. The regulars, he said, could not have done better. Mr GREGSON then entered the carriage which was waiting for him, and, along with Miss Gregson and Mr Geddes, proceeded on his way to Tilliefoure. The volunteers formed an escort to the carriage on its way through the village, which was gaily decorated with numerous flags, while the pipers and drummers went in front, playing a stirring march. At the bridge across the railway the volunteers halted, hearty cheers were raised, and the carriage drove off on the way to Tilliefoure. …….


The spacious marquee in which the luncheon was served was situated on the fine park to the south of the castle, and used as a golf course and recreation ground. …… Accompanying Mr GREGSON and Miss Gregson at the top table were Mr J. Geddes, factor on the estate, who presided, ……. Mr James Duncan, Tillybrake, the oldest tenant on the estate, …… etc.

Mr Duncan then, addressing Mr GREGSON and presenting him with a gold medal, said – On behalf of the tenants, servants, and friends, I now present to you this small testimonial of our appreciation of your services, ungrudgingly given to your Queen and country in the South African war. (Applause). Although the hardships of the campaign have left their marks upon your constitution, we are all glad to see you home again, and hope that the fresh air of Tilliefoure and Benachie will soon bring back your wonted strength and vigour. (Applause). I have therefore much pleasure in asking you to accept this small gift. (Loud applause).

Mr GREGSON, on rising to reply, was received with hearty cheers. He said he was so much touched by their most enthusiastically kind reception that it was difficult to adequately express his feelings. It had been well worth while alone to have gone to South Africa to have received such a kindly and pleasant welcome from them as this. (Applause). …….

The regiment he was first attached to was in the fight at Colesberg on 6th June, but his company happened to be the one that was on piquet – otherwise it was a case of underground or Pretoria, for not a single officer returned. He looked upon that as a great piece of good luck to himself. (Applause). He always felt that if he had been made prisoner he would have gone mad, for he could never have stood being guarded by these Boers. (Applause). When the telegram arrived ordering him to join the 1st Battalion of the Gordon Highlanders he could not tell them how proud he was. He would always look upon that period of his career as the proudest distinction that could be conferred upon him. He felt proud to have worn the Gordon tartan – (applause) – and to have been associated with the Gordons in this war. ……

After referring to various incidents in the war, Mr GREGSON said he would like them to extend their hearty greetings to two warriors who were present that day – Mr Edward HOWLETT, late trooper in the Royal Horse Guards (Blues), who had been injured in the spine through his horse falling in a spruit, and who had had to leave the army; and Mr Douglas HAINES, who had been wounded in the hand and arm while protecting his colonel’s wounds from the sun. Concluding, Mr GREGSON said he would always prize the medal presented to him, more than for its intrinsic value, as a lasting remembrance of their kindness to him that day. (Loud applause).

The handsome gold medal bore the following inscription: – “Presented by the tenants, servants, and their friends to Francis R. Gregson, Esq., on his return from the seat of war. Tilliefoure, July 26th, 1901”.

Mr Mitchell proposed the toast of “The Tenants, Servants, and Committee”, and Mr Hay replied. Mr Smith, Mains of Tilliefoure, proposed the toast of “Friends”, to which Mr Barnett, Pitfichie, Monymusk, replied. Mr Barnett, Blairdaff, proposed “The Chairman”, referring in complimentary terms to Mr Geddes as factor, and to his having been trained in the office of their late respected factor. Mr Geddes responded, and remarked that the connection of the firm with Tilliefoure had extended over 40 years.

The successful proceedings then terminated.