Tag Archives: Robert Boyle Campbell (nephew)

This week in history: May 2‑May 8

We’ve post­ed let­ters about the hell-rais­er in the Camp­bell fam­i­ly, Robert and Hugh Camp­bel­l’s niece Bessie Camp­bell.  But even with all the trou­ble that Bessie caused the fam­i­ly, her actions were very lit­tle when com­pared to her broth­ers Hugh Kyle Camp­bell and Robert Boyle Camp­bell.  Iron­i­cal­ly named after their St. Louis uncles, these two were the true source of grief for Andrew and Eliz­a­beth Camp­bell.  Accord­ing to The Camp­bell Quest, writ­ten by the pair’s great-great-nephew, “Hugh Kyle fol­lowed in his father’s foot­steps and became an alco­holic, while Robert Boyle became a bul­ly …” .  These two caused trou­ble in Ire­land, like­ly burn­ing their grand­fa­ther’s will and harass­ing their Aunt Ann so that Hugh Kyle Camp­bell could lay claim to their Uncle Hugh Camp­bel­l’s right­ful estate, Augh­a­lane.  Hugh Kyle Camp­bell final­ly mar­ried, but nev­er stopped drink­ing and final­ly died of “intem­per­ance, one year.  Delir­i­um tremens, one week” in 1877, a year after writ­ing this let­ter.  Robert Boyle Camp­bell came to live with his Uncle Robert and Aunt Vir­ginia for a while, but even­tu­al­ly left and moved west, hop­ing to strike it rich.  He also caused trou­ble for the fam­i­ly in the Amer­i­can Civ­il War.

Today’s let­ter is from Hugh Kyle Camp­bell to his broth­er-in-law (and Patrick Camp­bell Mac­Cul­loch’s great-grand­fa­ther) Hugh Mac­Cul­loch about his Aunt Ann’s death.  He makes is abun­dant­ly clear that he is not hap­py that Aunt Ann left so lit­tle to him in her will, obvi­ous­ly a very wise choice on Ann Camp­bel­l’s part when it came to this par­tic­u­lar rel­a­tive.  The let­ter was tran­scribed by Frank Collins of the Ulster Amer­i­can Folk Park in North­ern Ire­land, which now hous­es Robert’s birth­place, Augh­a­lane house.  It was part of a col­lec­tion that Collins and the Folk Park donat­ed to Camp­bell House Muse­um last sum­mer upon the Euro­pean release of the book The Camp­bell Quest.  We hope you enjoy the account from anoth­er ‘black sheep’ of the Camp­bell family!


7th May 1876.

Dear Hugh.

Enclosed I send you what you drew up with all the names prop­er­ly signed there was no a dis­sent­ing voice as they all glad­ly signed it. As to those in Amer­i­ca as to them sig­na­to­ries it is not at all nec­es­sary in a legal point of view as to have signed it, at least all but…. & I pre­sume she’ll not object. I con­grat­u­late you on the straight­for­ward man­ner in which all has been con­duct­ed as far as I know,by both you and R Dunn.

This I can say for myself I am the great­est los­er over my Aunt as I can …. And have been the pro­pri­etor of Augh­a­lane only for her & her con­tin­u­al­ly writ­ing to my uncle Hugh. I nev­er knew this until I was exam­ined in Dublin and had I wished to be con­tention at that time I’d at all event pre­vent­ed the sale of it for years but I nev­er opposed it.

She always was my great­est ene­my- all I ever got from her was those £27 and a bed­stead? and cur­tains except I think £2 and I count­ed one of those due me for tidy? cows she allowed me keep the other.

I need not enlarge on this but I trust she may be hap­py as God only can dis­cern our inter­mit thoughts and pri­vate actions and many a one to the human eye here is count­ed God fear­ing  & lend­ing poor moral life by appear­ances, but when laid on the bed of sick­ness and death then decep­tive and for­mer hypocrisy   Tell then in their hard strug­gles not wish­ing to leave this world yet a let­ter? Wished and all as they count­ed it.   I am informed my Aunt did tou­se? the expres­sion very hard.

One thing I do know Mar­garet had the great­est trou­ble with my Aunt. & most cer­tain­ly £100 would not have repaid the trou­ble & sleep­less nights she suf­fered over her sickness.

With kind­est regards to you and Mgt.

I remain Your Affect Bro-in-law

Hugh Kyle Campbell

Mr H MacCulloch.