The John Paul Jones museum at Arbigland is situated in the grounds of Arbigland Estate near Kirkbean. The cottage has two rooms, restored and furnished as they might have been during John Paul’s childhood – he added the “Jones” later. An extension to the cottage houses a recreation of Jones’s cabin on his ship the “Bonhomme Richard”.
“I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast, for I intend to go in harm’s way.”
John Paul Jones is famous in the United States as the ‘Father of the American Navy’. He was born in poverty and through his skills became a distinguished naval officer fighting for both the USA and Russia. He travelled the world and even raided his home county when he landed on St Mary’s Isle near Kirkcudbright, stole the Earl of Selkirk’s silver and was captured and imprisoned in the Tolbooth – now Kirkcudbright’s arts centre. He was awarded a gold medal and a gold sword for his exploits but he was buried in an unmarked grave for over a century, having died, perhaps appropriately, in revolutionary Paris, France, in 1792.
In Britain he is remembered as a pirate and adventurer. Indeed, Benjamin Disraeli, an early biographer, wrote that the nurses of Scotland hushed their crying charges by the whisper of his name. In Holland, a Dutch song “Here comes John Paul Jones, that fine fellow” is still sung by school children.