Archibald Campbell's Youth and Education
Archibald Campbell was born 21 August 1739, and baptized 4 days later at Inveraray, Argyll. His mother was Elizabeth Fisher, a daughter of James Fisher of Durren (on Loch Awe), merchant and sometime Provost to the Duke of Argyll. With her husband, Elizabeth established a linen spinning school at Inveraray, a venture so successful she was awarded a prize by Scotland's "Trustees for Manufacturers" in 1755. Today, we would define this sort of project as "Economic Development." The painting here is one of Elizabeth (Fisher) Campbell, in her role as educator.
His father, James Campbell, a distant relative of the Duke of Argyll, was a lawyer who worked as an administrator for the ducal government. He was, for example, "Commissary of the Western Isles of Scotland". As such, he oversaw such matters as estate inventories of deceased persons, and allied issues like legitimacy, succession, marriage, etc. In addition, he was "Chamberlain" to the Duke of Argyll. Here, he was an officer of the duchy, with the duty of inspecting Argyll burghs, inquiring into the conduct of magistrates, and seeing to the due application of revenues.
Archibald was the second son of this couple's family. The eldest, James, served with the British army throughout the French and Indian war, and was at the battle of Ticonderoga (July, 1758). The third son, Duncan, spent a number of years as manager of the Inverneill estates and was, as well, Commissary for North Britain. (There is a fairly decent genealogical outline of this family to be found on this website at the Inverneill Mausoleum.)
During Archibald's childhood, his family lived at Dunderave Castle, a 16th century tower house, 3 miles northeast of Inveraray, on Loch Fyne.
Dunderave had been the chief seat of the Clan McNaughton/McNachtan. It is a sorry tale, the disintegration of Clan McNachtan, one of consistently disastrous moves, from Robert the Bruce until the final blow in 1689, when the castle came into the hands of the Campbells.
There is a literary connection for Dunderave. Neil Munro used the old castle as a model for his novel, "Doom Castle,"(pub 1901) an elegy for the long death of the old Highland Ways in the face of a new, Hanoverian Britain, as exemplified by the up-to-date wealthy Inveraray Castle only 3 miles away. (Fortunately, the castle has been revived, and protected from various modernizing depredations during the 20th century.)
As a young man, Archibald was educated at Glasgow University. He then went on to study at Woolwich, the Royal Military Academy, a sister school to Sandhurst, the Royal Military College. Woolwich, founded in 1741, aimed to produce 'good officers of Artillery and perfect Engineers.'
In 1758 (the same year his brother James was engaged at Ticonderoga), the 19 year old Archibald was commissioned in the corps of engineers of the Royal Army. During this time of the "Seven Years War" between Britain and France, he served on expeditions to the coast of France and the West Indies. (He did NOT, however, fight at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in Quebec)
A decade later, in 1768, Archibald Campbell became the chief engineer in Bengal for the British East India Company.