The ‘lost’ medal presented by John Crichton Captain General 1858

This is the ‘lost’ medal that had been lodged with Kilwinning Heritage at the Abbey Tower.
As can be seen, it clearly states that it was – ‘Presented by John Crichton, a Captain General
of the Society, on the 3rd August 1858’.

The medal had been ‘inherited’ along with other artefacts associated with the Ancient
Society of Kilwinning Archers from their predecessor organisation the Kilwinning & District
Preservation Society.

Whilst most of these artefacts had come from the archers themselves over the years it is
believed that this medal had come from a Mr D.J. Mitchell Bolton who had been the Town
Clerk of the former Kilwinning Council and also a solicitor in the firm of King Sons & Paterson. This firm had been involved when John McGavin attempted to revive the Society in 1880 and in fact Hugh King had been the Society’s last treasurer in 1870 when it fell into abeyance.

The medal, by now black with age and virtually unreadable, had lain undisturbed with these organisations for many years and, until we had carried out the exercise of cataloguing all of the medals, we were unaware that it was a Captains medal. It was known that there were gaps in the sequence of years, but sometimes the Papingo was not hit or not shot for so consequently there would be no medal for that year.

It was only after the medal had been cleaned so that it could be read that we were able to
identify that it was won by John Crichton and a subsequent search of the records confirmed that he did win the Papingo in 1857 and that a medal had been fitted to the Silver Arrow the following year in 1858.  The records for 1857 show unequivocally that it was John Crichton who won the Silver Arrow that year. To quote from the Society’s record of 1857:- “ After dinner the Society proceeded to the Tower to shoot for the Silver Arrow, when, after a keen competition it was honourably gained by John Crichton Esq. Of Linn Dalry”.  The medal count of the following year of 1858 is shown as one hundred and nine an increase of one, confirming that a medal had, in fact, been fitted.

The medal was then ‘lost’ from the Silver Arrow at some point after this date. This probably occurred around 1869 when the medal count in the Society records, that up until then had been correct, remained at, what was by now, 117 when, with the fitting of William James Smith Neill’s medal of 1869, it should have increased to 118. (4_00141). (One medal being fitted & one being lost at the same time and the count remains the same!)

The Society fell into abeyance immediately after this in 1870, so possibly it had been
removed by John Crichton himself as a keepsake at that point, eventually coming into the
hands of King Sons & Paterson, or their predecessors, via Hugh King, when his estate was
wound up after his death in 1878.

John Crichton was a landowner from Dalry and owned a corn mill in Kilwinning. His house,
now demolished and the site of a housing estate was on the Dalry to Kilwinning Road near
the present day Lidl’s supermarket. Hugh de Morville, the possible benefactor of Kilwinning Abbey, originally gifted the estate to the Linn family. As far as we have been able to ascertain, John Crichton had no offspring and neither did his brother Robert Orr Crichton also being described as ‘of Linn’ in the Society records. Robert was a Major in the Prince Regents Royal Ayrshire and Wigtown rifles. He was also the founder of the Crichton
Bursaries at Edinburgh University Faculty of Medicine and appears to have been a surgeon,
but that is all we have been able to find out to date.

The medal was formally presented back to us at a ceremony in Kilwinning library attended by representatives of North Ayrshire Council, Kilwinning Heritage and members and past Captains of the Society. Provost Ian Clarkson formally handed the medal to our current Captain David Gillon who then fixed it back onto the Silver Arrow on behalf of Captain John Crichton 160 years after he won it in 1857.

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