Adelaide Falconar

Adelaide remains elusive, dying at twelve years old. But her father and sisters, with their Indian wealth, great house in Morningside and strong religious views are full of fascination. They were also the inspiration for the first creative offshoot of this project, The Christmas Falcon.

Lived
1802-1814
Origin
Madras
Father
Alexander Falconar, son of William Falconar of Nairn, adjutant of Fort St George, Madras. In 1809 became Chief Secretary to the Governor of Madras. In 1811 he retired to Scotland. At his death he was worth around £120,000. He left his wealth in a trust for his five surviving daughters which, while protecting them from fortune hunters, appears to have discouraged all but one from marrying at all. The daughters would be trustees of the estate until they married, in which case the remaining trustees would pay her the share of the revenue for a year, at the end of which they could decide whether to make over her share of the capital. Falconar wrote,
'I trust it will be evident that this garded method of endowment does not proceed from any illiberal motive, but from that wise and provident care which is incumbent on every parent for the independence and comfort of his children. I trust moreover that in a matter so important, my daughters, if they do marry will make so wise and discerning a election that the affection, the honor, the principle and the religion of their husband will render the precautions of their parent less imperious, in which case it would become the pleasant duty of my Trustees to dispense with some of the prescribed precautions.
Mother
Elizabeth Davidson, whose father was a solicitor in the East India Company, from Cromarty. She had 14 children, 12 daughters and 2 sons, five of the children dying in early childhood.
Address
Falcon Hall, Morningside, a mansion which Andrew Falconar extended. The architect Thomas Hamilton (who designed the Royal High School) added a pillared facade and stone falcons, and inside grand stair leading to a magnificent oval drawing room inspired by the Bay of Naples. The grounds were built over by tenements in the late nineteenth century and the house was eventually demolished; but its facade was rebuilt by the owners, Bartholomew Maps, in their new premises in Duncan Street, and the stone falcons were rebuilt on the gates of Corstorphine House, which is now Edinburgh zoo.
Religious Views
The Falconars were important religious benefactors to Morningside. Alexander and his daughters subscribed to the construction of Morningside Parish Church in 1838, although their own religion was Episcopalian. When the last of the daughters died, aged 90, she left a will drawn up with her sister, which provided for some female cousins, but if any of them join a convent or profess Roman Catholicism 'they shall be treated as if dead'. She left £1,000 to the vestry of St John's and £1,000 to the vestry of St Paul's, York Place, and legacies to 100 charities, mostly in Edinburgh.
Chapel connection
1814 (funeral)
Related to
posthumously to Anne Craigie whose brother Henry was married to Adelaide's sister Jessie by Daniel Sandford's successor.
Connections
One of the trustees of her father's will was Robert Downie.

Falconhall

Sources

  1. Registers of Charlotte Chapel (NAS CH12/3)
  2. Charles J Smith, Morningside (John Donald, Edinburgh, 1992) p.135-143
  3. Alexander Falconar's Will, National Archives of Scotland SC70/4/4/843
  4. Margaret Jane Falconar's Will, National Archives of Scotland

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