John Paul Jones Bi-centenary Celebrations

John Paul Jones
Bi-centenary Celebrations at Kirkcudbright, Scotland.
10th – 13th July 1947.

Reproduction of a portrait found in a Gatehouse hotel.

The cottage at Arbigland, Kirkbean, in the Stewartry of
Kikrucbdright, where John paul Jones was born.

This illustrated brochure was compiled and produced as a short record of the visit paid to the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright by a small party of officers. and midshipmen of the United States Navy in celebration of the bi-centenary of the birth of John Paul Jones, founder of the American Navy and a native of this county.

FOREWORD. (By Rev. Jas. A. Fisher, Convener of the County Council of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright).

THE inhabitants of the County of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright in general, and of the Royal and Ancient Burgh of Kirkcudbright in particular, retain many happy memories of the visit paid to Galloway by Cadets of the American Navy, under the command of Commander Robert Macpherson, accompanied by Commander Russell Macaulay Burke and Lieut. Allen Stein, on the occasion of the bi-centenary of the birth of John Paul Jones, native of Kirkcudbrightshire and founder of the American Navy. This illustrated brochure from the John Paul Jones Bi-centenary Committee here, has been produced under crippling post-war restrictions, but it is, nevertheless, an earnest of the Committee’s desire that the many friendships created on that memorable’ occasion should be cemented.

For us, the bi-centenary bore special significance, and we are proud to recall that we in Galloway possess an important direct link that binds our two English-speaking nations together. That is why we attach so much importance to the Tolbooth in Kirkcudbright – the focal point of the celebrations – and it is my sincere wish that the movement now on foot to preserve this centuries-old building as a Memorial to John Paul Jones may be carried to fruition in order that succeeding generations here may have a fitting place in which to welcome kindred spirits from across the Atlantic in years to come.

Great hopes are encouraged by the correspondence which has passed between the Paul Jones Bi-centenary Committee and the American Naval Authorities that this will be accomplished by joint endeavour, and it is my earnest prayer that God’s blessing may follow this and every other effort at confirming an association which is the most effective guarantee of peace in the world to-day. – JAMES A. FISHER.


The images above show the obverse and reverse side of the gold medallion presented to Provost Kennedy by Commander Burke as a memento of the visit. The die was originally made to commemmorate the famous victory of Jones’s ship, the “Bonhomme Richard,” and only three medallions have been struck from it and distributed – one to President Truman, one to Admiral Holloway, and one to the burgh of Kirkcudbright.

The image above shows a reproduction of the illuminated address on vellum presented to Commander Pacpherson by Provost Kennedy. Photostat copies were also presented to the other members of the party.


On 6th July, 1747, in a little cottage near Kirkbean in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright, Scotland, John Paul Jones was born. Two hundred years later -10th – 13th July, 1947- a party of officers and cadets of the United States Navy visited the Stewartry to take part in the bi-centenary celebrations of the birth of the lad who, from lowly beginnings, was destined to become the founder of the American Navy and America’s greatest naval hero.

The party, drawn from the then current cruise of U.S. Navy Midshipmen, consisted of:-Commander Robert Macpherson, New Mexico; Commander Russell Macaulay Burke, New York; Lieutenant Allen Stein, Detroit; Midshipmen Edward F. Duncan, California; Richard Ross Kint, Washington; Winston Lauder, Connecticut; Lloyd K. Lauderdale, Texas; Kenneth V. McArthur, Washington; Albert C. MacDonald, Pennsylvania; William D. MacFarlane, Texas; James C. McPherson, Alabama; Malcolm Phares, Nebraska; T. H. Ross, Ohio; Alexander D. Thomson, New Jersey; and Duane Young, California.

Shortly after 3 p.m. on Thursday, 10th July, 1947, the party arrived by air at Locharbriggs Aerodrome, near Dumfries, where they were welcomed by the Commanding Officer, Wing Commander H. R. C. Harewood, O.B.E., and by Provost Ernest Fyfe of Dumfries, accompanied by the Town Clerk and Magistrates of that burgh. They were also met by the following representatives of the Committee responsible for the celebrations in the Stewartry:

Provost J. Kennedy, Kirkcudbright

Rev. J. A. Fisher, Convener of the County Council of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright.
Captain D. J. Munro, C.M.G., R.N.(Retd.), NewGalloway.

Dean of Guild Millburn, Kirkcudbright.

Bailie Neil Macdougall, Kirkcudbright.

Mr R. C. Monteath, County Clerk of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright.

At the aerodrome the whole party were entertained to refreshments by the Commanding Officer and officers and thereafter to tea by the Provost, Magistrates, and Councillors of the Burgh of Dumfries. After tea Provost Fyfe and Rev. J. A. Fisher extended a few words of welcome to the visitors, Commander Robert Macpherson replying.

The party was then handed over to the Stewartry representatives and a few minutes later left by bus for the first stage of the journey to Kirkcudbright. Passing through New Abbey Lieut.Stein’s camera eye refused to pass the ruins of Sweetheart Abbey, graceful and lovely even in decay, and a short halt was made while a few more additions were made to the pictorial record of the visit.

At Kirkbean the party was met by the Rev. Arthur Dickson who showed the cadets and their officers through the church and drew attention to the baptismal font erected in 1945 by the men of the United States Navy who served in Britain from 1942 – 1945 under Admiral Harold R. Stark. Before leaving Commander Burke presented Mr Dickson with a reproduction of the portrait of Paul Jones, by Cecilia Beaux, which hangs in the Memorial Hall at the U.S. Naval College.

The next stop was at the cottage, on Arbigland estate, where Paul Jones is believed to have been born. Here Mrs Blackett and the present occupiers of the cottage, Mr and Mrs Marsden, showed the visitors many interesting relics.

At Dalbeattie, where the whole town turned out to welcome the visitors, addresses of welcome were given by Provost J. Stevenson and Mr James Little, town clerk, the former introducing Mr David Craik, Glasgow, a direct descendant of Paul Jones. After refreshment the party proceeded to Castle-Douglas where they were welcomed by Provost Ridout and members of the Town Council and entertained at dinner.


Kirkcudbright was reached after ten o’clock. On arrival the party were met in the Council Chambers by members of the Sub-Committee and, after a light refreshment, were taken to their private billets.

The forenoon of Friday, 11th July, was spent sight-seeing, the celebrations proper beginning with luncheon at 1 p.m. This was followed by a parade to the Tolbooth, in which Paul Jones was at one time detained. Headed by Kirkcudbright Pipe Band and preceded by the Earl of Galloway, Lord Lieutenant of the County, and the Provost, Magistrates, and Councillors of the burgh, the officers and cadets marched through crowded streets to the Old Tolbooth where the Stars and Stripes and the Union Jack were unfurled by Commander Macpherson and Provost Kennedy. After an inspection of the Tolbooth by the Commander and the Provost the parade returned to the Town Hall for the commemoration ceremony.

Provost Kennedy presided at the commemoration meeting and among those who took part in the programme were:- Rev. J. A. Fisher, Lord Galloway, Captain Munro and Ex-Provost A. C. Brown. The Address, which had been prepared on vellum by Mr J. G. Jeffs, Kirkcudbright, was handed over by Provost Kennedy who also presented each member of the party with a photostat copy. The Provost also indicated that a model of Paul Jones’ famous ship, The Ranger, would later be presented to the American Naval Academy in Annapolis in commemoration of that day’s ceremony. Commander Macpherson replied on behalf of the visitors and thereafter Commander Burke presented Provost Kennedy with a reproduction of a portrait of Paul Jones.

An adjournment was afterwards made to the Community Centre for tea. Here the visitors met four direct descendants of Paul Jones – Miss Agnes Raining, 5 Bellevue Road, Ayr; Mrs Margaret A. Lewis, Miss Elizabeth Murchie, and Miss Sarah Murchie, all from Fleet Street, Gatehouse. Other descendants to whom invitations had been extended but who were unable to be present, were – Mrs J. Raining, 5 Bellevue Road, Ayr; Mrs W. Thompson, 18 Roslyn Avenue, Liverpool; Mrs J. Burns, 211 Crow Road, Broomhill, Glasgow; Rev. J. W. Robertson, 9 Hillhead Street, Glasgow; Misses Helen M. G. and Amy Arnott, Greenacre, Surrey; Mrs J. W. Robertson, 190 Ferry Road, Leith; and Mr David E. Craik, 90 George Street, Glasgow, who had met the party the previous day at Dalbeattie.

An interesting feature of the afternoon’s proceedings was the display of silver plate which Paul Jones and his crew of the Ranger had plundered from the Earl of Selkirk at St. Mary’s Isle in 1778, and which he later returned intact. The collection was loaned by Sir Charles D. Hope-Dunbar and was staged by Mr G. E.Paterson, curator of the Stewartry Museum. Also on view were several interesting letters written by Paul Jones.

The day’s festivities were rounded off with a ball in the evening at which the officers and cadets were the guests of the Town Council and the Entertainments Committee.

The following day, Saturday, 12th July, the officers and cadets accepted an invitation to visit Gatehouse where they were welcomed by Provost A. A. Stewart, Bailies Veitch and Davidson, and members of the Town Council. After luncheon in the Anwoth Hotel Mrs Stewart, wife of the Provost, presented each member of the party with souvenirs of the visit. These comprised an illustrated folder, ” From the Heart of Galloway,” with a photograph of the burgh and samples of locally manufactured fishing hooks. From Mrs Murray Usher the guests received pictorial brochures featuring the many places of interest in and around the burgh.

During the afternoon the guests availed themselves of the various sporting facilities which had been thrown open to them and after high tea at the Murray Arms Hotel the party returned to Kirkcudbright.

On Sunday forenoon the guests and their hosts left Kirkcudbright for Newton-Stewart where they were welcomed by Provost Alexander Barr, Bailies R. L. Paterson and M. A. S. Hamilton and the members and officials of the Town Council. After luncheon in the Crown Hotel the guests were presented with various souvenirs of the visit.

Similar hospitality was received at New-Galloway – the smallest Royal Burgh in Scotland – where the civic welcome was extended by Provost Paterson. Dumfries aerodrome was reached about 5 p.m. and a short time later the party was airborne.

The final ceremony of the visit took place on the airfield when Commander Burke handed over to Provost Kennedy a framed portrait of Paul Jones in colour, together with a gold medallion which had been specially struck that year in honour of the celebrations. It was explained by the Commander that only three of these medallions had been distributed – one to President Truman on 6th July of that year, one to Admiral Holloway, and the third to Provost Kennedy and the burgh of Kirkcudbright.