The Irvings of Pennywell, Grange Loan

For nearly forty years the Irvings lived at Pennywell, Grange Loan, near Edinburgh. (In Edinburgh nowadays, of course.) Researching the land led to this outline of the family. James Irving’s background is not known, but his wife, Jacobina, came from fairly modest origins.  They were able to buy the Pennywell house and land when Jacobina was thirty, and lived there for nearly forty years. They seem to have been part of the 19th century story of a growing middle class, with some of their children ending up quite prosperous.

glass goblet engraved irving
“To Mr. Jas. Irving Pennywell 1823” – Was this glass given to James Irving? It has thistles and “The Land O’Cakes” engraved on it. Thanks to Keys Auctions.
  • James IRVING, of Bristo Street, married Jacobina Comb in 1790. There is no trade or profession given for him in the marriage record. From 1791-8 he paid tax on two “carriage or stable horses”. The first listing for him in a street directory was in 1797 calling him a “stabler”; later he was listed as a “chaise hirer” too. In 1800 he bought the Grange Loan property, and in 1804 bought “a piece of back Ground and houses thereon under the Castle Wall” on the north side of the Grassmarket, in the area where he conducted his business. (The previous owner was James Wright, pewterer.) His will calls him a “horse hirer”, who died at “Pennywell, Grange Loan”, on 26 Dec 1838. He had a license to run a private asylum at his house. By the later 1830s he was listed in directories as James Irving Esq., suggesting he had moved towards being considered a gentleman.
  • Jacobina COMB, also called Binnie or Bainnie, daughter of David Comb, heel maker of Crosscauseway, and Margaret Pillans, was born 12 May 1770. Witnesses to her baptism at Ratho were Alexander Comb and James Comb, both farmers in Upper Gogar, west of the city.[ref]There was a farm there called Combs Farm or Comb’s Farm.[/ref]She died 5 Nov 1839 at Grange Loan.

Their children:

James Irving Jessie Gibson grave
Gravestone of the younger James Irving, tobacco manufacturer, and his second wife Jessie. In Grange Cemetery, Edinburgh
    • James IRVING – b. 12 Jan 1791, became a tobacconist and tobacco and snuff manufacturer in Leith, in Kirkgate. He married his first wife on 30 June 1815: Sarah Harper, daughter of William Harper, once a farmer in Beath, Fife. Their son James died in 1836, aged 20.[ref]The Scotsman[/ref] On 13 Dec 1850 he married Janet aka Jessie Gibson, born in Forfar 1810, a daughter of Adam Gibson, once Latin teacher at Tain Academy. In 1851 James, “retired tobacconist”, and Jessie Irving were living in Charles Street, Edinburgh. He died 18 March 1874, with no living children, and was buried in Grange Cemetery. Jessie, who died in March 1877, shares the grave. He still owned 105 Kirkgate, Leith at the time of his death. His will says he also owned two tenements in Charles Street, and mentions his books, pictures and silver plate.
David Irving in an 1834 street directory.
David Irving in an 1834 street directory.
  • David IRVING b. 6 June 1794. On 21 Dec.1832, when he married Margaret Muir at St. Cuthbert’s Parochial Chapel in Hope Park, he was a surgeon, of Grange Loan. She was daughter of the late Andrew Muir, victual dealer in Causewayside. David and Margaret were living at 34 Clerk St. in 1841 (both aged 45). He died at Corstorphine 28 Oct 1842, leaving £1290, a couple of flats, and shop premises in Clerk Street to his widow.
  • Margaret IRVING or STEWART, born 18 June 1802, married 29 May 1825 Alexander Stewart, hatter, of 7 Alison’s Square. They had daughters called Robina aka Binnie, and Mary.
  • Bainnie IRVING (Binnie?) baptised 25 Nov 1804, witnesses David Comb and William Douglas.
  • Jacobina IRVING, born 26 Sep 1806.
  • Robert IRVING b. 11 Oct 1807 bap. Old Greyfriars Parish. In 1836 he was a wright in Edinburgh. He married Margaret Ruthven. In 1871 he lived in Corstorphine. In 1859 Robert’s daughter Margaret, a lady’s companion, married Robert Ross, a butler, who went on to be a messman at Piershill Barracks.

    1851: Shotts foundry. new houses and gardens in Springfield and Orchardfield.OS map reproduced with permission from the Naional Library of Scotland.
    1851: Shotts foundry, new houses and gardens in Springfield and Orchardfield, alongside Leith Walk. OS map reproduced with permission from the National Library of Scotland.
  • Robina IRVING or SINCLAIR, aka Rabina or Binnie, baptised 23 Aug 1811, married Alexander Sinclair of the Shotts Iron Co. in 1833. In 1851 he was manager of Shotts Foundry, Leith Walk, living at 99 Springfield with children David, Alexander, Jemima, John. In 1872 he was described as engineer and iron founder at Bonnington. Jemima married George Stenhouse, brewer, and went to Australia.

Sources: parish registers, censuses, street directories, gravestone of the younger James Irving[ref]This was found thanks to the Southside Heritage Group who have put cemetery information online.[/ref], the wills of both James Irvings, a probate inventory for David Irving. Sometimes the surname is spelled Irvine.  A couple of documents seem to call Mrs Jacobina Irving Robina: perhaps a confusion around the shortened name Binnie.

4 thoughts on “The Irvings of Pennywell, Grange Loan

  1. Thank you very much for sharing information about the Irving family of Pennywell, Grange Loan. I am a descendant of the Irving family and James Irving and Jacobina Comb are my 4th great grandparents. Their daughter Margaret Irving is my 3rd Great Grandmother who was married to Alexander Stewart. Their daughter Mary Stewart, is my great, great grandmother who was married to Moses Cochrane, my great, great grandfather. Mary Stewart was the second wife of Moses, after the death of his first wife Marion McBain. Mary Stewart and Moses Cochrane had two sons who were Alexander Cochrane (my great grandfather) and Moses James Cochrane. I would be interested in knowing if Robina Stewart, the other daughter of Margaret Irving and Alexander Stewart, had survived into adulthood and had a family of her own as well? Thank you again!


    1. Great to hear from you, Colin, and thanks very much for adding to the story of the Irvings. I’ll check my notes but I don’t remember anything more about Robina Stewart. I’ll certainly get back to you if I find anything.


    2. Hi again. “Robina or Binnie Stewart and Mary Stewart children of my sister Margaret Irving or Stewart widow of the late Alexander Stewart” are mentioned in James Irving Jr.’s will written in 1872, two years before his death. That does suggest Robina lived to the 1870s, but doesn’t tell us for certain whether she married. Sorry, but I haven’t found any other clues. Good luck with hunting down more info.


  2. Hello Helen,

    Thank you again for your reply. Hopefully if I get some free time in the future I will have to see if I can find more details on Robina Stewart either through census, birth, death or potential marriage records. I was just looking through my notes, and came across the death record for my 2nd Great Grandmother Mary “Stewart” Cochrane and it showed that she passed away on August 7, 1901 in Edinburgh. Eventually I hope to find more details on my 3rd Great Grandfather Alexander Stewart who worked as a hatter. I also took a quick look online at some family trees on that included Robina “Irving” Sinclair and her daughter Jemima who was married to George Stenhouse. Looks like there are many Australian cousins still potentially living from that branch of the Irving family as well. Take care for now!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s