Tain Museum Image Library

Dorothy Mercado (Lady Ross)
Tain Museum Image Library
Dorothy Mercado (Lady Ross)

Photograph of Dorothy Mercado, who became the third wife of Sir Charles Ross of Balnagown in 1938, taken on board the Queen Mary. Sir Charles was based in North America for much of his adult life and Dorothy Mercado was his American secretary. His previous two marriages had been to Winifred Berens in 1893 and Patricia Ellison in 1901. Both ended in divorce.

After Sir Charles' death in 1942, the third Lady Ross inherited the castle and estates which were heavily encumbered with debt. Attempts by her and later by her second husband to run the estates as a sporting venture were not a great success and by the late 1960s much of the estate had been sold and the castle itself was in a state of decay. The castle and what remained of the estate was bought by Mohamed al Fayed in 1972.
Picture added on 23 June 2004
This picture is in the following groups
Sir Charles Ross
My parents knew Lady Ross in the 1950s when they lived at Balnagown Farm. She used to stop and
admire my sister in her pram.
Added by Sheila Munro on 28 June 2004
Dorothy Mercado was my mother's Aunt. I will pass this site to her and her sister for further comments.
Added by Ruth Griffiths on 06 December 2004
Lady Ross (Dorothy or Dolly as she was know by her family) was my aunt. Her youngest brother was my father (but she sometimes referred to him as her nephew for reasons too complicated to get into here). My father came to the states in his 20's. He was born in 1901. My aunt came to the U.S. (New York City) once or twice twice a year where she had some business interests in the 1950's as well as coming to see family. I was a teenager when she died but have very fond memories of her visits to the family, and particularly of shopping in NYC. It was like a little fairy tale for me. She was a beautiful, warm, energetic woman who was very generous as well. I remember her telling me that one year she received Christmas cards from both Adlai Stevenson and Dwight Eisenhower on Christmas. She sent me postcards of the castle and of lambs there. She told me of eating in a restaurant retaurant and seeing Danny Kaye = things little kids would love to hear about. I am very excited that my daughter discovered this site.
Added by Jeanne (Heiser) Mitchell on 06 December 2004
My father, Dr. John R. Ross of Toronto Canada, gives mention of Lady Ross (Dorothy Mercado) and her marriage to Sir Charles Lockhart Ross, creator of the Ross Rifle and owner of the Balnagown estates, in his book "The Great Clan Ross". Father (past President of Clan Ross Canada) did not know her, but regretted not being aware of the auction of her estate in the USA - he would have loved to bid on the crested Ross dinnerware from Balnagown Castle that was sold. I am trying to ascertain the date of her death.
Added by John Donaldson Ross on 05 February 2005
I believe it was Sir Charles Ross' s blacksmith who developed the Ross Rifle Sir Charles only claimed the credit and returns.
Added by Pat Swanson on 25 May 2005
I believe my ancestors were related to Charles Ross. Is anyone working on his family genealogy?
Added by Debby Dunbar Ortman on 05 August 2005
Margaret Ross Kirk, Edinburgh (married Alexander Smith) is my g.g.grandmother and is related to Sir Charles Ross I am interested in any family history. From john martin 321 slade point road mackay queensland australia
Added by John Martin on 11 January 2006
We have lots of information on this subject, Ellen, and can send it to you when we have the time. Meanwhile, perhaps you could contact us at info@tainmuseum.org.uk and be a bit more specific about how much information you need
Added by Margaret Urquhart on 15 May 2008
I am looking for the Sir Charles Ross who developed the Ross Rifle. Date of birth, country and any family genealogy related to Sir Ross
Added by Ellen (Wright) Bowman on 15 May 2008
I have an oil portrait of Lady Ross of Balnagown attributed to Kneller. Experts have dated the portrait circa 1720, but doubt that there is no proof that the artist was Kneller who died in 1723. I would be happy to share a picture of the portrait. Does anyone know the history of a Lady Ross of this time period?
Added by Robert Ort on 14 January 2012
The portrait you have Robert, is probably of Lady Anne Stewart Ross. Lady Anne Stewart, daughter of James/Alexander?, Earl of Moray, was the wife of David XIII of Balnagown. They had no children when he died in 1711 so he was the last of the original Balnagown line (the O’Beolain Rosses). There followed a series of disputes for succession and the lands and Castle of Balnagown eventually passed into the hands of an unrelated family of Rosses (the Hawkhead Rosses) after being briefly owned by a family of Stewarts (also unconnected to the original line) thanks to the machinations of Lady Anne (whose nephew Francis Stewart was the beneficiary of these) and to the extent of the family debts. Lady Anne had a big influence in the extensive renovations which helped increase the debts.
Added by Margaret Urquhart on 17 January 2012
There is another Kneller portrait at Balnagown Castle - Lt General Charles Ross, who was the second of the Hawkhead Rosses to hold the estate (from 1713) and died in 1732 unmarried.
Added by Estelle Quick on 18 January 2012
Another connection, irrelevant but interesting. The SNPG has a Kneller portrait of Lord Advocate Sir George Mackenzie. He was the husband of Dame Margaret Haliburton for whom we think the silver tot cup in the museum was made.
Added by Estelle Quick on 18 January 2012
There is still a Road house /pub in the Village of Ardgay, This was called The Lady Ross, it was originally called the Balnagowan Hotel but after a fire it was rebuilt as The Lady Ross Hotel.The hotel has become almost derelict due to the main road that goes past it was by passed thus taking away a lot of its custom.This area is steeped with history involving the Ross (and the Rose)families.It may help you to know that some of Scotlands darkest history involved the Removal of some of the family from their grazing land and homes, by greedy land lords who wanted to remove them and use their land for grazing, they believed they could make more money that way..Many people were left homeless and injured during this time, many emigrated.One of the worst was an episode now called "The massacre of the Rosses".you can find this simply by googling it.Many of the folk of the Glencavie(google it) area took shelter in a local church called Croick(again google) where many Rosses and others carved inscriptions in the glass window.It is a very earie atmosphere in the old church I have visited on many occasions my family are the Munros originally from the same area.My grand parents were crofters in the area and had many Rosses and Roses as neighbours.
Added by Andy on 14 October 2012
Many of the Ross family are buried next to my decendants at Kincardine cemetery, Ardgay and many at Croick church yard
Added by Andy on 14 October 2012
My late grandmother, also Dorothy Ross, was the secretarial assistant to Dorothy Mercado, Lady Ross. Both women had the same name, were young and had a similar build, and were quite aware of the similarities between them.

Added by Jill Burns on 16 June 2020
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Sir Charles Ross

Sir Charles Ross at EtonPatricia Ellison (Lady Ross)Lady Ross of BalnagownHarvesting on Balnagown estateWorkshop of Sir Charles RossBalnagown CastleBalnagown Castle