James Dennistoun of Dennistoun, the author of this work, was born on the 17th March, 1803, in Dumbartonshire, and spent the greater part of his youth with his grandfather, George Oswald of Scotston, to whom he owed, as he said, his first impulse towards letters. About the year 1814 he and his brother George were placed under the care of a tutor, the Rev. Alexander Lochore, later minister of Drymen parish. He then proceeded to Glasgow College, and later read for the Bar, though with no intention of practising. He passed advocate in 1824, but seems by then and for long after to have been gathering information regarding the old families of Dumbartonshire, which he placed at the disposal of Mr. Irving, who acknowledges his indebtedness to him. It was in 1825 that he went to Italy, spending Christmas in Rome with a few friends, and meeting there Isabella Katherina, eldest daughter of James Wolfe Murray, Lord Cringletie, whom he married in 1835. In 1836 he sold the family estates, including Colgrain and Camis-Eskan, and purchased Dennistoun Mains in Renfrewshire, the property which gave name to his house. His visits to Italy then became frequent, their most important result being the Memoirs of the Dukes of Urbino, which he published in 1851. He died some four years later, on February 13th, 1855, and was buried at his own desire in the Greyfriars churchyard, Edinburgh, not in the family vault at Cardross.