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The writing of this History of Fettercairn was first sug- 
gested to the author in 1882, after delivering a public 
lecture on the subject. He hesitated very much to take 
up the suggestion, from the fear that the task would prove 
too formidable for his time and resources; but on the 
other hand, from a sympathetic feeling towards all that 
concerned the past and the present of the parish, he 
resolved to proceed and do his best to collect and record in 
a permanent form such details as could be gathered from 
the various sources of information. Had the idea of 
collecting materials for such a work been entertained forty 
or forty-five years ago, the author could have given with 
greater fulness and accuracy a record of local history 
and traditionary incidents now forgotten, by committing 
to writing the recollections of old people living, many of 
whose traditionary tales have now escaped his memory. 

While the indulgence of the reader is craved for errors 
detected or mistakes discovered, neither pains nor labour 
have been spared to make the History as full and correct 
as possible. The main object has been to preserve and 

2 Preface. 

diffuse a knowledge of the history, antiquities, and 
traditions of the parish ; and it is hoped that the effort will 
be favourably received. 

The author offers no apology for mixing up the narrative 
of events with anecdotes and with minute details of local 
matters which may appear of little interest to general 
readers, because the work has been prepared chiefly for the 
people of Fettercairn. He may be charged with trespassing 
on the parish of Fordoun by having included a general 
account of the Castle and lands of Kincardine ; but from 
their proximity to and connection with Fettercairn, no 
history of it could be otherwise complete. 

Many persons besides those noticed in the body of the 
work have kindly helped with information ; but only a few 
can be specially mentioned, although all are gratefully 

Thanks are due to Sir John R. Gladstone, Bart, of Fasque, 
not only for being the first to suggest the work, but for his 
interest in its progress ; also to his relative, Robert 
Gladstone, jun., Esq., Liverpool, for revisal of the notes on 
the Gladstone family. For the chapters on Church and 
School, the author is much indebted to the Rev. John 
Brown, Clerk to the Presbytery of Fordoun, for access to 
the Presbytery Records, and also to the Rev. William 
Anderson for taking extracts from the same. The more 
recent inscriptions in Fasque Chapel were kindly communi- 
cated by the Rev. Andrew H. Belcher; several valuable 
documents were supplied by the Rev. James C. M*Clure ; 
searches in the Register House, Edinburgh, were made by 
the Rev. A. I. Ritchie ; and some interesting reminiscences 

Preface. 3 

have been received from the Rev. John Falconer and 
irom Mr David Prain, Fettercairn. 

The following works, among others referred to in the 
book, have been consulted : Scott's Ecclesiae Scoticanae ; 
the works of Andrew Jervise, F.S.A. ; History of the 
CJarnegies ; Biscoe's Earls of Middleton ; Dr. Cramond's 
Annals of Fordoun; Dr. Marshall's Historic Scenes; 
Robertson's Index of Records and Charters; the Black- 
book of Kincardineshire; Spalding's "Memorialls of the 
Trubles in Scotland " ; the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland ; 
-and the Kincardineshire Retours. 

Altonvar, Paisley, 
Jime^ 1899. 


part jfiret.— JiitroOuctorij. 

Ohapter I. — Geography and Physical Features ... ... 17 

Situation— Extent— Boundaries—Surface Levels — Geological Features- 
Colonel Imrie's Survey- Rocks— Iron ore. 

•Chapter II.. — Topography — Antiquity of Village — Etymo- 
logy of name ... ... ... ... ... 21 

Land divisions and soils — Morass— Swamps — Ague— Watergirt forta- 
lices — Greencaim — "Fethyrkerae Towne" — Origin — Site — (Three 
Baronets)— Antiquity— Etymology of Fettercaim— Mr Foote's theory- 
Twenty forms of the name— Inference. 

Chapter III. — Population ... ' ... ... ... 28 

Population, past and present— Increase and decrease — Newdosk Section 
—Census table (1891)— Males increasing— Employment — Agriculture— 
Distillery— Other industries— Inns and hotels. 

part SeconO.— l)i0torical Brcnte. 

Chapter IV. — History prior to 994 a.d. ... ... ... 34 

Early unrecorded events — Conflicts — Roman Invasion — Caledonian 
Tribes— The Maormors— Kings slain— Battles— Picts' houses— Kenneth 
III. -Assassination - Fenella — Legend — Wyntoun's Chronicle —Fetter- 
cairn odious. 

Chapter V. — History from 994 to 1600 ... ... ... 42 

Wai*8 and battles -Kincardine Castle and Edward I.— Wallace's victo- 
ries, Ac— -Blind Harrj^'s Chronicle— Bruce and Comyn— English and 
Scotch at Ballyvemie— Fettercairn Antiquarians— Neudos and Knights of 
St. John— David II. and his Queen at Kincardine A royal marriage— 

6 Contents. 

Robert II.— "Earl Beardie" and his forces— James. IV. and Queen Mar- 
garet at Kincardine and Aberdeen — Fettercaim a free burgh with 
markets— James V. and Kincardine town— Visits of Queen Mary and 
James VI. 

Chapter VI.— History from 1600 to 1698 ... ... 46 

Troubles of the Covenant— Spalding's Memorials— Montrose's raids— 
At Fettercaim—*' Fire and sword "—Counter marchings— General Baillie 
—Death of Montrose— Note, "Colkitto of Antrim "—Earl of Errol and 
train a night at Fettercaim— Their expenses— Cromwell's troops at Edzell 
— Foraging expeditions— Balbegno— Covenanters and North Water Bridge 
—The Laird of Balfour and Church seats— A minister "blooded." 

Chapter VII.— History from 1698 to 1747 ... .• 52 

The old village hostelry— Reputed royal lodging— " Randall's Knap"— 
Story of "Kirky CroU or Pin the Wuddie"— The stolen watch— Duke of 
Cumberland's troops — Rebels after CuUoden— Petition and complaint- 
Rebel flght at Fettercaim— Minister hurt Schoolhouse burnt— Kirk 
Session Registers destroyed. 

Chapter VIII.— History from 1747 to 1861 ... 57 

Queen Victoria's Reign— Coronation rejoicings and Church building- 
Introduction of gaslight— A joint-stock company— Curling Club— Sub- 
scription Lil)rary— Rejoicings at mamage of Miss Forbes— Volunteer 

Chapter IX.— History from 1861 to 1898 ... ... 60 

Visit of Her Majesty Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort - Extract 
from Her Majesty's Journal— Ramsay Arms Hotel— A few incidents— 
Rejoicings at the Prince of Wales' marriage— Telegraphic communication 
—Fire at Fasque House— Majority of Captain, now Sir John R. Gladstone— 
Of the Hon. Charles F. Trefusis— The Queen's Jubilee— Grand Bazaar for 
a Public Hall -Distillery burnt— Golf Club— The Queen's Diamond Jubilee. 

part Zbix^.—XLbc patidb anO ltd XanOovvnet6. 

Chapter X. — Landowners prior to the Seventeenth Century 66 

Scotland divided into Parishes— Four thanedoms— Fettercaim the 
leading one —William the Lion's Hawker— Luthra- Balbegno—" Way- 
tinga"— Rents in kind— Valued rentals— Countess of Ross— "Wolf of 
Badenoch "— His doings— Donald, Lord of the Isles— Crown lands — 
Strachan of Thtnmton and rents -Earl of Rothes— Kirklands and Thomas 
Ogston— Adam Hepburn and Elizabeth Ogston— Successors— Kirk Com- 
missionera- -Kirklands sold— Levingstone of Drumhendry— Bishop's 
Rents— Farms of Fettercaim— John TuUoch— Robert Rate— Toothpicks 
—Crofts of Kincardine— Lands— Earl of Rothes— James Strachan— Earl 
of Middleton and Lands of Fettercaim. 

Contents. 7 

Chapter XI. — John Earl Middleton and his successors ... 76 

Name of Middletou Descent— Middleton of .Caldhame— His sons — 
John Earl of ^liddleton— His career— His wife Qrizel Durham— Family— 
His death at Tangier— Charles, second Earl— Forfeiture— Family— Two 
Sons— Admiral Byng— Earl of Strathmore— Principals of King's College- 
Janet Gordon of Beaton— Brigadier Middleton— His son and Lady Diana 
Grey— Fettercaini estate sold to Mrs Emilia Belsches- Note, Middleton 

Chapter XII. — Families of Belsches, Stuart and Forbes ... 83 

John Clerk, a Refugee in Fettercaim 300 years ago— Ancestor of the 
Clerks, Baronets of Penicuik— Of Emilia Belsches— Clerk's descendants, 
Merchants in Montrose and Paris — ^Eargaret Clerk and Belsches of 
Invermay— John Belsches and Mary Stuart— Sir John Wishart Belsches 
—Name of Stuart— Lady Jane Leslie— Miss Stuart — James Mill, Historian 
of India— Sir Walter Scott— Miss Stuart, prototype of Matilda in Rokeby 
-Sir William Forbes-Dr. Beattie, "the Minstrel "-Sir William'a 
character— James Skene and Sir Walter Scott's *• Marmion"— Dr. W. F. 
Skene— Sir William, seventh Baronet— His sons— Sir John Hepburn 
Stuart Forbes— Lord Clinton- Family— Hon. Charles F. Trefusis— Lady 
Jane Grey Trefusis— Family. 

Chapter XIII. — Newdosk or Balfour ... ... ... 91 

A Thanedom -Knights of St. John— Robert the Bruce— Reginald de 
Chen— Grant to Lindsay of Crawford— Rents— £!arl of Angus— Charter to 
Lindsays —To Sir John Wishart of Pitarrow— Lands sold to Sir John 
Straton of Lauristou— Advowson of Fettercaim Church— Successive 
Owners — Lindsay of Edzell — Descendants of Stratons — Forbeses of 
Balfour— Captain Forbes, the "Daft Laird "—Anecdote — Sir John Stuart. 

Chapter XIV. — Balbegno, Balnakettle and Littlestrath ... 94 

The Woods, thanes of Fettercaim— Original name, De Bosco— Notable 
Men —Grant of lamls to Andro Wood and Mariota Moncreife— Charter by 
James IV. and English translation — Admiral Wood — His bust— John 
Wood —Woods of Craig— Walter Wood and Lady Helen Stewart of Atholl 
— A royal descent — Walter and Sir John Wood — Precept of Oliver 
Cromwell— AndrewfcWood— Andrew Middletou of Caldhame— Major Wood 
and .lohn Lindsay— Jolni Wood, Colinsburgh— John and Mrs Wood, 
Carlisle— Andrew and Robert Middleton— John Ogilvy of Lunim- Wife 
and daughters— Dr. Brisbane— Hon. Walter and Donald Ogilvy- ITie 
Woods, proprietors of Balnakettle and Littlestrath— Lands sold— Andrew 
and William Eraser — The Reids, ministers of Banchory Teraan— 
Distinguished men— Dr. Thomas Reid — Revs. Alexander Leslie and 
Dr. Leslie of Fordoun— Leslies of Birkwood— Miss Paterson- William 
Straehan, proprietor — Lady Phesdo — Her son, John Falconer — Her 
message to the Kirk Session— James Falconer of Moukton, and Sir Alex. 
Ramsay Irvine— Peter Falconer— Viscount Arbuthnott— David Scott- 
Rev. Dr. Pirie— Sir Thomas Gladstone and Fasque Estate. 

8 Contents, 

Chapter XV. — Balmain and Fasque ... ... ... 10(5 

Owners in reign of James III.—" The good old rule "— " Earl Beardie " 
and his son the Duke of Montrose— The King's favourites at " Lauder 
Brig"— Pitscottie's narrative— John Ramsay— His career and intrigues— 
Perkin Warbeck— Margaret of England— Lands of Balmain— His son 
and successor William Ramsay— David Ramsay and Catherine Carnegie- 
Rev. Andrew Ramsay— Sir Gilbert and Grizel Durham— Sir David- 
Property destroyed— Compensation— Sir Charles and Elizabeth Falconer 
— Marriage contract and seventeen witnesses— Retour of holdings in 
Barony of Balmain— Diralands of Fettercaim— Sir David and Sir Alexander 
—Improvers— Trees planted at Fasque— Sir Alexander R. Irvine— A great 
agriculturist — New appliances— His character— Sir Thomas Ramsay, 
seventh Baronet, Sheriff Burnet as Sir Alexander Ramsay, first Baronet 
of United Kingdom, and Elizabeth Bannerman- Seven sons— Their 
training and career— Admiral Sir William, K.C.B.— A death— Dean 
Ramsay - "Any tail "—Building of Fasque House- Sir Alexander, 
second Baronet— Portrait— Tenantry— Fasque sold— Sir Alexander, third 
Baronet — His family— Offices of honour— Sir Alexander Entwistle, fourth 
Baronet -Lady Ramsay and family— A long connection closed. 

Chapter XVI. — Balmain and Fasque {continued) .. ... 113 

Purchase by John Gladstone— Baronetcy in 1846— His ancestry— Herbert 
de Gledstan — Edward I.— Sir William de Gledstanes— His son— Gladstones 
in Forfarshire— Eminent men— Lanarkshire branch — John Gladstones of 
Toftcombs — Thomas of Leith — Sir John — His career — Enterprise — 
Character— Improvements at Kasciue — Family— Sir Thomas— Additional 
ostates- Public affairs— Character— Lady Gladstone and family— Sir John 
R. Gladstone— Military career. 

Chapter XVII.^Disclune, Arnhall and The Burn 118 

Durrysclune- Early proprietors— Stratons— David Carnegie, first Earl 
of Southesk— James, second Earl, a hero of the Covenant— Robert, third 
Earl — Charles, fourth Earl— Rental Book— Farms and their rents— James, 
fifth Earl— Rebellion of 1715— " Piper o' Dundee"— York Building Co.— 
Sir James Carnegie — Highland Raiders— Lord Milton— "Catching fish at 
Arnhall "—Fontenoy and CuUoden— Barclay of Urie— His letter— Sir 
David Carnegie— Disposal of the Estates— Popularity of the Carnegies— 
Lord Adam Gordon— Military career— Marriage— *• For lack of gold," &c. 
— Great improvements— Anecdote— Alexander Brodie— His improvements 
—His daughter, the Duchess of Gordon— John Shand— Drainage of the 
moss— "Muckle ditch "—William Shand— Colonel M'Inroy— Life and 
character— Popularity — Colonel Charles M 'Inroy—Primrosehill— Captain 
Airtli— Improvements— William Airth. 

Chapter XVIII. — Dalladies, Drumhendry and Capo ... 129 

Lands of Delany or Dullachy and Trembleys or Turnbulls— Stratons 
and Carnegies— Turnbulls of Stracathro— Dr. Turnbull- His career- 
Frugality— Jocularity— Lord Panmure his friend— A conditional vote- 
Kay's Portraits —" Shoes blackened" — A considerate landlord — Miss 

Contents. 9 

Turubull Boberteon— Present owners — LevingstoneB of Dunipace— 
Drumry and Lutlira— John Wood— Andrew Aaitt— David, Principal of 
King's College— Colonel Bait— Lord Falconer— Castle of Haulkerton— 
Keith-Falconer, Earl of Kintore— The present Earl and Countess— . 
Lord Inverurie. 

part jfourtb.— 
Bntlquitied : JSuilOfndd, Undent anO ASoOetn. 

Chapter XIX. —Antiquities and Old Buildings ... ... 133 

Koinan road— King's ford— Station of Tina— Causewayend— "Coupers* 
avenue "—Dr. Don's Roman Iter— Hill of Esslie- Roman outpost— Castle 
and garden— Old house of Balmain— Underground passage— Greencaini 
and other vitrified forts— Dimensions— Fenella's Castle— Sir Walter Scott's 
letter— Copy and fac-simile— William the Lion-Randolph the Falconer 
— Balbegno Castle— John Wood— Carved and Stirling heads— Admiral 
Wood's— Wood and Barclay Arras— The ceiling— Scotch peers— Dungeon 
—Moot hill, or "Tod hillock"— Mort*towu-hole—"Taed's nest," or 
hangman's dwelling— Balfour House— The Stratons— Stones for Fasque 
House— Fasque Old House— Douglas's description and expression—" The 
Octagon a pasteboard cage "—The Chinese bridge— Balnakettle Old House . 
—Old trees. 

Chapter XX. — Antiquities and Old Buildings {continued) ... 144 

Market Cross— Shape and dimensions— Jougs and Branks— Earl Mid- 
dleton's Cross— Ogston'a (1504)— Kincardine Cross— Others in Scotland— 
Marykirk— Edinburgh— Scott's Ifarmion— Castle of Kincardine— Dimen- 
sions— Position— History— Kings and Queens of Scotland— Kincardine 
town and St. Catherine's graveyard -A stone cist and its contents— "The 
Deer Dyke." 

Chapter XXI.— Bridges, Fords, and Ferries ... ... 151 

Roman bridges —Bridge building a Church work -Fords and Ferries of 
the North Esk— King's ford boat— Edzell Kirk Coble -Lower North water 
Bridge— Marykirk Bridge— John Erskine of Dun and Northwater Bridge 
—James Black and Gannochy Bridge— His Charities -Jervise's story- 
Walter Strachan's—" Black's grey mare "—Millstones and the Kirk 
Session— Bridge doubled by Lords Adam Gordon and Panmure— Flood of 
1829 — "Loups' brig " — Auchraull Bridge and John Shand — Church 
collections for britiges— Vacant stipend for the village bridges— Roads 
from the village and Blackiemuir Bridge. 

Chapter XXII. — Modern Buildings ... ... ... 160 

^ettercaim House, old, new and newer parts -1666, 1829, and 1877— 
Fasque House— Grand outlook— 1809— £30,000— Builders, 1/6 a day— A 
flre— The Burn House— Fine situation— The Royal Arch— Subscriptions- 
Design by native— Outlines— Much admired —Expressions of loyalty- 
Forbes Memorial Fountain— Water supply- Sir Thomas Gladstone— 

10 Contents. 

Design by David Bryce, R.S.A.— Description — Site — Lady Clinton- 
Inscription — Public Hall — Bazaar and Funds — Andrew Cam^e— 
Contributions— John Milne, Architect— Library —Billiard Table— Sir John 
R. Gladstone — A success— The Manse — Schoolhouse— Houses— Shops- 
Site of village—" Provost's House "— " Whisky Raw "—Hotel. 


part 7 ittb— Cbutcb anO ScbooL 

Chapter XXIII. — Churches and Churchyards ... ... 168 

Parish Church— Elevated site— Early occupation— Druidical Temple— 
Pre-Reformation Kirk— Mr Foote's account— Balbegno Aisle -The Woods' 
Vault— "Bell hillock "-^Tames Lyalland "King James"— New Church— 
Addition- Steeple — Sir John Gladstone— Wind storms— Turrets— Burials 
in Churches— The Churchyard— Enclosures— Old memorial stones— A 
series of Inscriptions — Dr. Gilbert Ramsay's benefactions— A lost stone— 
"Sandy Juuor"— The Cairn Well— Tree-planting— Mrs Ritchie's Memorial 
—Sir Alexander Ramsay's Tablet— Mr Whyte's. 

Chapter XXIV. — Churches and Churchyards {contiiiued) ... 180 

The Free Church— Site— Managers and Sir Alexander Ramsay-" Cold 
water "—St. Andrew's Episcopal Church — Site— Building and Consecration 
— Chancel added— Bishop of Brechin— Captain J. N. Gladstone— East 
windaw— Ijatin Inscription— Children of Hon. W. E. Gladstone— The 
vault— Later interments— 14 ew oriel windows and mural brasses of 
Gladstones, Forbes and M'Inroy— Newdosk Churchyard— St. Drostan's 
Well— " Piper's shade "—" Cardinal's pool"— Other old place-names- 
Headstones of Alexander Adam, Colonel M'Inroy and John Nicol— 
Chapelton of Anihall— St. Martin and "Linn Martin "- Ruins of 
Chapel — Carvings — Earls of Southesk — Episcopal minister — Disused 
graveyard— Ash trees. 

Chapter XXV. — Beadles and Kirk Officers ... ... 185 

Beadle's various duties— Andrew Low, James Stephen— His emoluments 
—Hand-bell, table cloths and cups — Summons to deliver up arms- 
James Lyall, first, second and third— A strayed ewe— A dog hanged— A 
clockin' hen— Youths' pranks— The bell lost- George Watson, James 
Barron, John Column—" Nothing doing in the Kirkyard." 

Chapter XXVI. — Ministers before and after the Reformation 189 

David Setone, "persone" 1491— Alex. Rait, vicar— James Strachauchin 
—His letter to Thomas Strachauchin, a cousin— Bricius "persona de 
Neudonasse "— John Collace, the last of Newdosk- Cadets of landed 
families— Witch burning and verses— Patrick Bouncle— Salary, etc. — 
Adam Walker and Sir David Wood— John Thorn and David Straton^ 
readers— James Lindsay— Visit to Paris and Geneva— John Collace— 
Alex. Forbes, A.M. — Bishop of Caithness and of Aberdeen— Straton 
families— His public offices-" Collie "—Letter from James VI. to the 

Contents. 1 1 

Presbytery— William Wiachart, A.M.— David Strachan, A.M., Bishop of 
Brechin— William Chalmers, A.3r.— Hercules Skinner, A.M.— His debts 
— Visitation by order of Archbishop Sharpe— Humorous Practice— 
The preacher "wan throu" -Mr Skinner the last Episcopal minister- 
David Kanisay, A.M.— Heritors and Church sittings— List of Klders. 

Chapter XXVII. — Ministers {coiitiHued) ... ... ... 198 

Anthony Dow, A.M.— A long ministry— His elders- Their duties- 
Fast (lay— Tokens— Mendicants' Badges -Glebe -Schoolmaster's ridges- 
Davidson, the rebel freebooter- John Barclay, A.^i., Assistant— His 
Popularity— Publications— An anecdote recalled— Mr Barclay and the 
Presbytery— Certificate refused -The people's petitions refused— A Dis- 
ruption— Bereaii Church at Sauchieliurn —Other congregntions- Mr 
Barclay's death— James Macrae— Berean lay preachers- Anthony Glen- 
William Taylor— John Todd— Oratory— Stipend- Good effected. 

Chapter XX VIII.— Ministers (co/?^j«w€<Z) ... ... ... 208 

Robert B^oote— Induction opposed— Insult and abuse— " Foote's wind"— 
Excellent ministry— His sons— Publications— Elders— James Keyden- 
Kesignation— Anecdote— John Muir— Elders— Alexander Whyte, A.M.— 
Tutor and Schoolmaster— Publications— Pithy Sayings— Anecdotes- 
Elders ordained— Adam-Inch Ritchie— His family -Improvements- 
Translated to Whitekirk— William Anderson -Popular call— His family 
—Gratifying improvements. 

Free Church— "Ten years' conflict "—Excitement and unkindly 
feelings— David Paton— Ancestry— Family— Middleton portraits— Faith- 
ful ministry— Robert-Hendei*son Abel— Removal to South Africa— John- 
Ramsay Macmillan, A. M.— Efficient ministry. 

Episcopal Church— Mr Teed -Alexander Irvine— Charles Aitken- 
Popularity -Good works— Assisted by Rev. Alexander Somerville— 
Geoi^e Frederick Hardman Foxton— Andrew Holmes Belcher, A.M.— 
Long and creditable ministry. 

Chapter XXIX. — Schools and Schoolmasters .. ... 215 

The Reformers and Acts of Parliament— John Thom— Immediate 
successors blank— Alexander Mon'ice— Heritors' Assessments— Salary- 
James Watson and Alexander Strachan— John Gentleman— Favoured the 
Rebellion -Deposed— Alexander Strachan —John Melville John Law — 
Robert Milne —James Bate— David Niddry- John Gordon — "School bed " 
—Cock-fighting -Clattering terig School and "Dominie Voung"— John 
Haiper— Mr Foote's account— David Adamson and "Bawbie Harper" — 
Peats, "stour" and gunpowder pranks— Class-books— James Nicholson- 
Alex. Inglis, LL.D.— Rev. James Low— Archd. Cowie Cameron, A.M., 
LL.D. - Donald M'Kinven, A.M. 

Other Schools— Dalladies— Lady Haniefs- Inch School— Hannah 
Gold, LL.A. -Free Church School— Thomas Bruce -Alexander Murray - 
Transferred to Inch— Adam Moodie— Oldmains' School— David Durward, 
A.M.— Francis Birse -Lady Gladstone's new school— (l^ertiflcated teachers 

1 2 Contents. 

— Mary Munro— Dame Schools— Bible and Catechism— 119th Psalm — 
Proper names—** A pass-bye." 


part Sijtb.— 
flotcwortbi? jfamilice anO pereone— flSiecellaneoue. 

Chapter XXX.— Families ... ... ... ... 225 

Disappearance of old family names — Notices of a few — The Austines, 
Valentines, Falconers, Duries, Strachans, Wallaces, Mackies— Respective 
descendants— Smiths, numerous -Don, recurring. 

Chapter XXXI.— Eminent Men (of the Past) ... ... 230 

Churchmen and Statesmen— Hon. \V. E. Gladstone— Rev. Andrew- 
Ramsay, A.M., and Latin Poem (translation)— Rev. Alex. Peter, D.U.— 
Very Rev. Dean Ramsay— Rev. James Foote, D.D.— Rev. Alex. L. R. 
Foote, D.D.— E. B. Sheriffs, M.D.— John L. Stewart, M.D. 

Chapter XXXII.— Eminent Men (of the Present) ... 235 

Rev. Alex. Roberts, D.D., Professor, etc., St. Andrews— Rev. John 
Falconer of Ettrick— Alex. Whyte, Naturalist— David Hall, A.M., Sheriff- 
Substitute of Ayrshire— Alex. Cameron, Monikie, Dundee— Hugh Knox, 
Buittle, Castle Douglas- William Craniond, A.M., LL.D., Cnllen— His 
publications— Rev. Tlios. Nicol, A.M., D.D., Edin.— Honoui-s, Publica- 
tions—George Harris, Chapel, Kirkcaldy— Rev. Charles Durward, A.M., 
D.D. of Scoonie, Leven— Rev. Alex. M. Scott, A.M., Aberdeen— Rev. J. 
Fawns Cameron, of Blairingone, Dollar— Robert Milne Murray, M.D., 
Lecturer, etc., Edinburgh— Publications— David Prain, M.D., Superin- 
tendent of Indian Botanical Departments— Rev. Alex. Middleton, A.M., 
B.D., of St. Margaret's, Arbroath— George Robb, A.M., Buenos Ayres— 
George R. CroU, A.M., Dunkeld— Geoi^e Harper, A.M., Slains, Aberdeen- 
shire—William Abernethy, A.M., Coupar Angus. 

Chapter XXXIII. — Administration of Justice ... . . 243 

Sheriff Court, Stonehaven — Fettercairn Sunday rioters —Margaret Thow 
—Theft and Mischief— John Cowie— The "Laird of Balmain's trees"— 
Katherine Hampton and '*her little brother "—Thefts— The Jougs, etc. 
— William Edminstone .and his 'sons —Housebreaking, theft and sheep 
stealing— His trial and execution— Agnes Muflfat— John Erskine — Theft — 
Execution -Resetters kicked and banished— John Low— Cattle stealing — 
Baron Court— Kirk Session and cases of slandering— Village lock-up an«l 
" Archie Milne "—Charles Dinnie. 

'Chai^ferXXXIV. — Parochial Registers. Bequests, and Savings 

Bank ... ... ... ... ... ... 250 

Old Register Books— An older one lost— Burning of Schoolhouse- A 
Marriage Proclamations Register lost —Morgan Case — Free Church Births 
Register— Quaint entries in old Registers. 

Contents. 13- 

Bequests. —James Black's— Provost Christie's— Sir Alexander Ramsay 
Irvine's — Valentine's — Glen's — George Cooper's — James Smith's — Mrs 
C a Hum's— James and John Johnston's. 

Ramsay Bursaries.— Rev. John Ramsay and St. Andrews Bursaries— 
Dr. Gilbert Ramsay and Aberdeen Bursaries— Savings Bank. 

Chapter XXXV. — Meteorology, Woods and Plantations ... 257 

Forty years' observations— Highest, lowest and mean temperature- 
Average rainfall— Heaviest shower — A flood— Rainiest week, month and 
year— Driest yeai* — Barometer, highest and lowest readings— Destructive 
gales — A theory. 

Woods and Plantations — Ancient woods — Stately trees— Fasque 
beeches felled and re-set (1838)— Again felled (1893)— A silver-flr and other 
trees in Den of Fasque— Fettercairn woods— Lady Jane's wood— Ash, 
self-planted— :Mr Muir's planting — Woods of Balbegno, Balfour and The 
Burn— Spanish Chestnut — Yews, hollies, and laburnums— Robbie's tree — 
•' The Baker's " or •' Teetotal tree "—Its public notices. 

Chapter XXXVI. — Agriculture and Old Customs ... 262' 

In end of seventeenth century, death and famine— Waste lauds — No 
roads—Rude implements — Note, The rigwoody and ropes from tree roots 
— Gaudsmen and oxen— Old pro verbs— No drainage— Wicker creels— Bear- 
seed time — Horses in single file — Toothed reaping hooks — Threshing, 
winnowing, and milling— Failure of crops, 1681— Bad years of last century 
— "Snawy hairst" — Food supplies— Meal "gimal"— Farmhouses, mere 
hovels, and rudely constructed— Improved farm buildings — ^Food of the 
people— Kail brose— Sowens — Servants' wages— Balnakettle farm lease 
(1768) — A crofter's account of his old place. 

Markets— When and where held— Term markets— Holidays— David 
Hughes— Usual scenes— Discontinued— Anecdote. 

Chapter XXXVII. —Place-Names ... ... ... 270* 

Number of homesteads — Names Celtic and Saxon— Celtic, on the dry 
spots— Saxon, on the wet lands improved— List of Celtic place-names and 
their meanings. 

Chapter XXXVIII.— Anecdotes of Fettercairn Worthies ... 273- 

Mearns men have keen sense of humour— Dean Ramsay— Mr Inglis's 
Collections lai-gely from the Mearns— John Gove's old gun— James Fearn 
in a park— Rob Jack and the window shutter—*' Nae the same ass ava" 
— " Caulk 's nae shears"— "On a new found," and "A gill o' the very 
warst"— The laird and his tenant— " A slockenin' o' drink"— Tall p^as- 
"Auld thievin' l)ane8"— Old firearms — Willie Clark's sentiments— "A 
saxpence did mair guid " — A nonagenarian's new suit— He wanted snuff and 
came to the kirk— Johnnie ]!ilathers' daughter — Johnnie Webster and the 
Rev. Dr. Leslie— Webster and his turnip hoe— Nancy and Mary, two 
opposite characters— Mary's hoard — A surprise. 

Conclusion, " Sweet Auburn" and Fettercairn. 


1. Photograph of the Author, facing Title-page Page 

2. Fettercairn Village from the east ... 16 

.3. II It from the west ... 29 

4. Clatterin' Brig and Glenburnie ... ... ... ... 63 

5. Fettercairn House ... ... ... 89 

■6. Carved Head at Balbegno Castle 101 

7. The Burn House Gate-lodges 123 

8. fi House 127 

9. Reduced fac-simile, 4th page, of letter from Sir Walter 

idCOtt ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 1 (70 

10. The Gannochy Bridge ... ... ... 155 

11. Fasque House ... ... ... ... ... ... 159 

12. Fettercairn Public Hall ... ... ... 165 

13. II Church and Churchyard 177 

14. Mendicant's Badge '. 199 


part fivst. 


Chapter I. 


ri1HE Parish of Fettercairii forms the extreme western 

JL division of Kincardineshire, and lies along the south 

side of the eastern Grampians or Binchinnin hills. It& 

level and low-lying southern interior forms a considerable 

portion of the Howe of the Mearns. Its utmost length 

from north to south is 8f miles : the breadth from east to 

west varies from 4^ furlongs to 4f miles ; making an area 

of about 21 J square miles, or 13,803 acres, of which about 

128 are public roads and 75 water. The detached part of 

Edzell Parish on the Kincardineshire side of the North Esk 

river, Tecently annexed to Fettercairn under the provisions 

of the Local Government Act (1891), is between its- 

extreme points from north to south 2 miles, from east to 

west If miles; making an additional area of If square 

miles, or 1 1 20 acres. 

1 8 Fettercairn. 

The Parish is bounded on the north-west and north by 
Strachan ; on the north-east and east by Fordoun ; on the 
south-east by Marykirk; and on the south and west 
respectively by Stracathro and Edzell in the county of 
Forfar. The North Esk forms this boundary ; and that on 
the east or Fordoun side is formed by the Garrol burn, 
which rises in the Hound Hillock (1698 ft.), and joined at 
Bogmill by the confluent Crichie and Balnakettle burns, 
enters Marykirk Parish, in its course to the Luther, at the 
south-east corner of I^ady Jane's wood. 

The Parish may be shortly described as one-half hill}'^ 
and one-half level, extensively wooded, and three-eighths 
cultivated. At the southern border, near Capo, we have 
the lowest lying part of the parish, the elevation being 
about 120 feet above sea level; at Dalladies it is 150; on 
a contour line joining Arnhall, Bogmuir and Whins, 200 ; 
The Burn House, Fettercairn Village Cross and Fettercairn 
House, 235 ; Fasque House, Balnakettle and Kirkton of 
Balfour, 400 ; the top of Barna, 420 ; Mains of Balfour and 
Upper Thainston, 500; the Bannock or Balnakettle Hill, 
1000; and the watershed along the hill ridge, about 1700. 

The geological peculiarities of the Parish and district 
may be learned by observing the strata in the channel of 
the North Esk and its tributaries, an interesting account 
of which was drawn up by the late Colonel Imrie, who 
resided for a few years at Arnhall, and published the same 
at length in vol. 6 of the Transactions of the Royal Society 
of Edinburgh. He noted that the various strata were cut 
across at right angles by the river; and being thus laid 
bare, were exhibited to the observer in a kind of irregular 
stratification, with almost all the varieties in one forni or 
other, either regularly separated or combined in mixed 
masses. "In that part of the plains of Kincardineshire 
f i*om which I take my departure," says Colonel Imrie, " the 
native rock consists of siliceous grit or sandstone, which is 

Geography and Phijsiail Fmtures, 19 

here divided into an immense number of beds or layers of 
various thicknesses, from one inch to four feet of solid 
stone. In many places gravel of various sizes is found 
imbedded in this grit, which gravel consists mostly of 
water-worn quartz and small-grained granites. The colour 
of the general mass of this grit is a dark-reddish brown, 
and in some few places it shows narrow lines and dots of a 
pearl-gray colour. . . . This rock, in the plain, is perfectly 
horizontal in its position ; but upon its approach towards 
the undulated grounds, which here form the lowest basis of 
the Grampians, it begins to rise from its horizontal bed, 
and, gradually increasing in its acclivity towards the moun- 
iains, it at last arrives at a position perfectly vertical." 

The rest of Colonel Imrie's account may be summarised 
by stating that contiguous to this grit is a bed of Whin not 
very compact in texture, but somewhat earthy and of a 
brownish-black colour. Passing this bed, Gravelstone or 
Plum-pudding rock, four hundred yards thick, stretches 
from east to west in a vertical position. Its composition 
consists of quartz, porphyries, and some small-grained 
granites, rounded by attrition in water, and very various 
in size, from that of a pea to the bulk of an ostrich egg, 
and all firmly combined by an argillaceous and ferruginous 
-cement, reddish in colour. The next rock is Porphyry, of 
a purple or lilac-brown colour. In it are embedded 
particles of quartz, felspar, blackish-brown mica, and specks 
of iron-ochre. This part of the river bed occupies a space 
of two hundred and twenty yards. It is succeeded by a 
mass of different materials, of confused stratification, 
•comprising a narrow layer of greenish-gray argillite, 
another of whin, and a seam of pale-blue limestone. 
Jaspers of a blood -red colour occur here, standing upright 
in the argillite. They are of great hardness, and take on a 
high polish. 

Specimens of many of the above-named rocks are also 

20 Fettercahm. 

observable in the beds of the Balnakettle burn, Dalally 
and Garrol burns. In the banks of the Balnakettle burn 
porcelain clay of a bluish-white colour is found, with which, 
in former times, before the days of pipeclay, the Fettercairn 
housewives used to brighten their hearthstones and door- 
steps. Asbestos or stone-flax has been found on the hiU 
of Balnakettle, and upon an upper field of the farm. 
Large quantities of a substance considered to be native 
iron used to be found. It occurred in loose and detached 
pieces from 4 oz. to 2 lbs. in weight, which were turned 
up occasionally by the plough, and converted into use by 
heating and hammering in the smithies of the neighbour- 
hood. The supply was soon exhausted, but small pieces in 
a corroded state are still to be found. 

The origin of this metallic substance has never been 
sufficiently accounted for, although many and varied were 
the attempts. By some it was considered to be a mass of 
exploded fragments of the moon ; by others, the sweepings 
of a smithy. It may have been meteoric ; but that it did 
not originate in the subsoil, was inferred from its being 
unlike ordinary ironstone in its composition. Others 
again believed it to be a kind of coarse iron imperfectly 
fused, brought from Dalbog in the Parish of Edzell, where 
iron ore had been found and worked in the early years 
of the eighteenth century. 

Topography^ etc. 21 

. J- 

Chapter II. 


THE lands of Fasque, Thaneston, Balnakettle, and 
Balfour, extending along the base of the Grampians, 
are fertile and productive, even more so than some of those 
portions of the parish lying further down on the level 
plain. They are richly wooded; and their undulations, 
lying well to the sun, add much to the picturesqueness of 
the landscape. The lands around Fettercairn village are 
also very fertile and well wooded. The disastrous gales of 
1892 and 1893 demolished the woods of Fettercairn, 
Fasque, and The Burn to a sad extent. No one now living 
can possibly see them again as they once were in their 
majestic loveliness. 

On the estates of Balmain and Drumhendry the soil is 
partly rich and fertile, but to a greater extent poor and 
moorish. Large tracts of alluvial soil and of a stiff', 
brownish clay occur. The estates of Dalladies, Arnhall, 
and The Burn, on the banks of the North Esk, consist 
for the most part of thin and shallow soils, but are very 
susceptible of cultivation. The woods of The Burn are 
extensive and valuable. 

On the lower reaches of Balbegno estate, the farms of the 
Straths and the contiguous portions of Arnhall, a deep 
mossy soil prevails. Down to a very recent period the 
greater part of these lands was under water, and formed a 

22 Fetter cairn. 

vast extent of lake or morass with numerous creeks and 
bays. But this has now almost entirely disappeared. 

The improvement by drainage of this region will be 
afterwards noticed. The only remaining portion now goes 
by the name of the Esslie Moss. It covers about 100 acres, 
and is still undrained, being the deepest part of the original 
lake. Lying at a lowef level than its surroundings, ii> 
seems destined to remain an unprofitable and unwholesome 
swamp, affecting the sanitary condition of the immediate 

The lower lying ground immediately adjoining the 
village on the S.W. and S. sides was probably in part an 
undrained swamp. But drainage works a marvellous 
change on such lands, and these are now capable of 
producing rich crops to the agriculturist. In former days, 
the hill burns were not so well confined to their channels a& 
now, and when in their courses they flowed over fiat 
ground, they spread over the whole territory in times of 
flood, as those who have experienced flooding in these 
later days can quite well understand. 

To the undrained expanse of Fettercairn Parish may be 
applied the remark of some Laurencekirk wiseacre given 
in Fraser's History of that Parish, viz., that "a hundred 
years ago the deucks were quackin' a' the way frae 
Blackiemuir to Redmyre." If Arnhall and Landsend be 
substituted for these two places, the space between them 
down to a late period was all good quacking-ground for 
" deucks " and other water fowls. 

Mr Fraser also notices that, according to tradition, the 
inhabitants of that marshy district were for centuries 
subject to ague ; and to escape its efi'ects they betook 
themselves to temporary abodes in the more elevated parts 
of the parish, and on the adjoining lands of Garvock. 
Whether the inhabitants of the Fettercairn marshy 
grounds ever resorted to the same expedient is not known ; 

Topogi'aphy^ etc, 23 

but that they did so is very probable. At all events, their 
case was very similar ; only, that for elevated habitations 
they had ample room on the hillsides of their own parish.^ 

In the days when might was right, when " the key did 
not keep the castle nor the bracken bush the cow," bogs 
and lakes served a purpose. They constituted natural 
barriers of defence. Of old, the only secure dwellings were 
erected upon islands and other inaccessible sites in order to 
be out of the easy reach of enemies and intruders. The 
crannogs or lake-island dwellings of ancient times (one of 
which remains at the Loch of Leys, near Banchory) stood 
upon artificial islets formed to supply the want of natural 
island sites. 

The earliest church buildings, such as those of Cowie, 
Dunnottar, Kinghornie, and St. Cyrus were founded upon 
elevated spots surrounded more or less by water. This 
may be sufficient to account for the situation of Fettercairn 
village, unless we let our fancy wander and assert that, 
like the Grecian island Delos of old, it arose out of the 
water. In modern days it has flourished by the manu- 
facture of a beverage much stronger than cold water. 

According to the old chroniclers, "The Towne of 
Fethyrkerne " in history existed nine hundred years ago, 
ranking in antiquity with either Brechin or Dunnottar; 
and it undoubtedly had its original foundation under the 
shadow of "Fenella's Castell of Fethircarne, the chiefest 
fortress of all the Mearns." Some writers maintain that 
Fenella's Castle was at Kincardine, and others that the 
Green Castle, or rather camp above Mill of Kincardine, was 
its site ; but the weight of opinion is greatly in favour of 
Greencairn. Both Greencairn and Kincardine were water- 
guarded fortalices, of whose origin and early occupation no 
record exists. These two names, however, are modern, not 

^ The popular name of the ague so prevalent in former times was the 
" loupin gout." 

24 Fetter cairn. 

being mentioned by the ancient chroniclers. The former 
was also called Cairngreeriy a Celtic word - meaning the 
Sunny Hill or favoured spot, suitable for a royal residence. 
Cairnton is still the name of the adjoining farm and home- 
stead, which in recent lease missives was designated as 
Cairnton and Cairngreen. The Cairn being retained in the 
name of Fettercairn suggests, independently of other 
reasons, that the site of the "Towne" or village in its 
primitive fashion stood along the north side of the knoll of 
Greencairn, rather than at Kincardine or the Green Castle. 
And although the inhabitants around the old place are now 
very few, it was otherwise in ancient times. The locality 
was thickly peopled even down to the early decades of the 
present century. Besides the families of the principal 
tenants on the lands of Thornyhill, Cairnton and Balbegno, 
the writer has heard old people relate that on these lands 
they counted eighty or ninety "reekin' lums" (smoking 
chimneys), whereas at the present time they do not far 
exceed one-tenth of that number. 

That the ancient " Towne " may have extended in 
straggling form towards the site of the modern village is 
highly probable, from the fact that down to a comparatively 
recent period houses and holdings were thickly dotted over 
the fertile fields that now form the landscape. The town 
of Kincardine, of which not a house remains, extended a 
half mile in length between its East and West Ports, from 
the Castle to near Fettercairn House ; and as late as the 
end of last century it had as many as seventy or eighty 
inhabitants. Upon the decay and extinction of the older 
Fettercairn on the one hand, and of Kincardine on the 
other, it may be said that the modern village, like a " sweet 
Auburn," has flourished. After the erection of Balbegno 
Castle and its occupation by the Woods, as the Thanes and' 
Bailliaries of Fettercairn, the village on its west side was 
restricted to its present boundary. And following the 

Topography, etc. 25 

superiority of the Woods of Balbegno, which terminated in 
the seventeenth century, John Earl Middleton, as pro- 
prietor of the lands and mansion of Fettercairn on the east 
side, became the superior, and the village was erected into 
a Burgh of Barony. Again, on the south, the Eamsays of 
Balmain — whose oldest mansion stood, not, as some suppose, 
on the Hill of Esslie, but on the rising ground to the east 
of Balmain farmstead — made their power and authority to 
be felt for good. And, on the north side, when Fasque 
became their residence, a cordon of wholesome influence 
encircled the village and promoted its prosperity. And 
down to the present day, under the benign sway of 
successive owners and superiors, the same advantages have 
been enjoyed and justly appreciated. Other places have 
envied Fettercairn ; and at a time not long past, the query 
used to be put, that if Kincardineshire could boast of only 
four Baronets, why should three of them be located as 
proprietors in the Parish of Fettercairn 1 A native wag 
gave as the answer, "Because Sir Alexander Ramsay of 
Balmain, Sir John Stuart Forbes of Fettercairn, and Sir 
Thomas Gladstone of Fasque, have mair sense than the 
Deeside man." 

The parish was so named from the group of dwellings or 
" towne " ; for the division of Scotland into parishes was 
not made till the time of King David " the sair saint to the 
crown," about the year 1130. The oldest form of the name 
as written by Wyntoun, Prior of Lochleven, the rhyming 
chronicler who gives us the story of Fenella and the 
murder of Kenneth III., is "Fethyrkerne." This term is 
descriptive of the hillocks and prominent heights lying 
between the village and Fenella's castle of Greencairn. 
Some authorities maintain that "Fotherkern" was the 
original name. The oldest forms of Fordoun and Dunnottar 
were conversely Fotherdun and Dunfother, in Celtic the 
promontory hills or headlands. The Father elided into 


26 Fettercairn. 

For occurs all over Scotland. Fothra or Fodra was the 
actual name of a homestead on the prominent brae face 
above the lake of Fasque. The beautiful lake of Fasque, 
twenty acres in extent, formed in the early thirties by the 
late Sir John Gladstone, covers the marshy ground 
formerly known as the " Bogs of Fodra." " Foderance " is 
the name of a place in the parish of Kettins ; and we have 
Fotheringham, near Forfar. " Fidra " or " Fetheray " is a 
rocky basaltic islet on the coast of Haddington. "Fethirale 
is the name of a croft near Dundee ; and we have "Fetter 
in Fetteresso, Fetterangus, Fetternear, &c, 

A rather fanciful etymology of Fettercairn is given by 
the late Rev. Robert Foote, in the Old Statistical Account 
of Scotland, as follows : " Fetter signifies a pass, and there 
are two large cairns at the top of the mountain and many 
small ones lower down, near to which, according to tra- 
dition, a great battle was fought, from which it is probable 
that the district got its name." The tradition referred to 
by Mr Foote has not reached our day, and we have no 
record remaining of any particular battle. It may have 
been one of Wallace's encounters with the English before 
his overthrow of them at Dunnottar, or that of Bruce'& 
victory of the Comyn at the foot of Glenesk, to be after- 
wards noted in connection with Newdosk. 

On the whole, Mr Foote's derivation is unscientific, be- 
cause there can be no manner of doubt that the present 
name Fettercairn is a corruption of the older name Fether, 
or Fotherkerne; and here, as in many other instances 
throughout Scotland that can be cited, the local pronun- 
ciation follows the older name. 

It may further be stated with regard to the name that 
there have been no fewer than twenty different forms of 
the word, as written at successive periods from the tenth 
century down to the present time. They are, with 
approximate dates, as follows : — 

To2x>gra2)hi/, etc. 2T 

In the tenth century it was Fotherkern or Fethyrkerne^ 
according to the old chroniclers. In the fourteenth century,. 
Fothercardine, Fottercardine, and Fetherkern. In the fif- 
teenth, Fethyrcarne, Fetterkarne, Fethirkerne, Feddirkairn,. 
and Feddirkeyrn. In the sixteenth, Fethircarn, Fethercarne, 
Fethirkern, Fethircairne, and Fethircarny. In the seven- 
teenth and eighteenth, Fettercarden, Fettercarne, Fetter- 
cairne, Faittercairne, Fetterkairn, and, lastly, the present 
modern form, Fettercairn. So many old variations of 
spelling probably rest upon nothing else than the arbitrary 
fancy of each writer, at a time when there was less writing 
done, and when words and place-names were practically 
unwritten. Sir Herbert Maxwell, in his "Scottish Land 
Names," gives a similar instance of twenty-five different 
spellings of "Galloway." From these desultory remarks it 
may be inferred that Fother, Fether or Fettn means the 
jutting ridge or ridges, and cairn the hill upon which 
stood Fenella's castle. 

The aggregate number of farms, crofts, and homesteads^ 
old and new, within the bounds of the parish, is about 114. 
A list of local place-names, with the meanings of such a& 
are Celtic, will be given in another chapter. 



Chaptbr III. 


OF the population, the first authentic account was given 
by Dr Webster in 1755, who made it 1950 souls; 
but according to Mr Garden's statement it was in 1774 
only 1500. In the old statistical account of the parish by 
the Rev. Robert Foote, he states it as 2000 in 1791. By 
the first Government census in 1801 it was 1794, and by 
the next, in 1811, it was only 1562. Hence it appears 
that in the twenty years from 1791 to 1811 a great 
decrease of population took place, viz., from 2000 to 1562. 
The first two or three years of the century were years of 
dearth ; food and provisions were at a ransom. Oatmeal 
was sold at 4s. a peck, or 64s. per boll. Many of the people 
were reduced to beggary, and scores of poor people were 
relieved by the Kirk Session. Those dear times no doubt 
tended to reduce the population, which however must have 
been abnormally high in the earlier years of the period, when 
Lord Adam Gordon employed a large number of workmen 
on The Burn estate at the building of The Burn House, 
the trenching of the surrounding moorland, the planting 
of his woods, the formation of roads, and of the beautiful 
walks along the rocky banks of the river. The following 
table shows the total population of the parish, and the 
number residing in the village, according to the census 
returns from 1821 to 1891 inclusive: — 

Total Population 
In the Village 

1821 1831 

1573 1637 


• • • 1 • • ■ 

1841 1851 




1871 1881 




1794 1741 
320, 330 



30 Fetter caiiti. 

From the foregoing, it may be noticed that in the fourth 
•decade of the century there is a marked and irregular increase 
•of 157 in the population, raising the total to what 
it was in 1801. To account for this increase, only one 
-cause can be assigned, viz., that during these years, on the 
•estate and policies of Fasque, extensive improvements, 
the formation of the lake and other important works, 
giving employment to many additional labourers, were 
carried on by the late Sir John Gladstone upon his newly 
acquired property. Sir John had made Fasque his 
principal family residence, and a large accession of servants 
.and employees increased the population. 

In the Balfour and Newdosk section, now disjoined from 
Edzell and annexed to Fettercairn, the census of 1801 gave 
107 souls, and in 1891 only 45; which, if added to the 
above 1376, makes the total population 1421. In the 
above enumerations of the village, Leith, West Burnside, 
and the Free Church manse are included. At this date 
(1899) there remain of the 1741 people in 1851 only 
about 4 males and 7 females in the village; and about 17 
males and 19 females in the country district of the parish. 
•Of every 100 persons in 1801, 46 were males and 54 
females ; in 1831, 47 were males and 53 females ; and much 
the same proportions appear to hold till 1861, when the 
males were to the females as 48 to 52; in 1871, 48*5 to 
51-5; in 1881, 49*1 to 50-9; and in 1891, 50*75 to 4925. 
These figures indicate a steady increase of males and a 
corresponding decrease of females, which may be accounted 
for by the gradual change that has taken place in the 
conditions of agricultural employment. Owing to the 
introduction of improved machinery and implements for 
farm work, fewer women are now employed. In former 
times women for outdoor work were hired at the half-yearly 
term markets ; but now the market hiring of women has 
ceased and they are engaged only for domestic service, 



■either near home or in the neighbouring towns ; while not 
a few have gone to work in mills and manufactories. If 
the relative numbers of males and females in the village, 
with the 21 males and 27 females in the hamlet of Old 
Mains at last census, be omitted from the above calculations, 
it will be found that in the rural parts of the parish the 
percentage of males to females is as 53*6 to 46'4. And it 
may be taken for granted that the same changes are taking 
place in other rural parishes. For the forty years (1855-95) 
•during which the writer was Registrar, the highest number 
of births in a year was 62 and the lowest 37 ; of deaths, 
37 and 10; and of marriages, 16 and 5. 

The following tjible contains a summary of statistics 
brought out by the census of the parish (excluding 
Newdosk) in 1891, which may be of use to future 
Registrars and enumerators : — 

Enumerators' Divisions. 









Booms with 

one or more 


, 1. Fettercairn Village, includ- 
ing Leith, &c. 





2. Fasque and theThainstones 






, 3. Balnakettle, Balfour and 
The Burn 






4. Balbegno Estate, Meikle 
and Little Strath - 






5. Arnhall Estate - 




, 155 



6. Dalladies and Drumhendry 




1 123 


7. Balmain and Bogmuir, &o. 




! 178 








32 Fetter cairn. 

The most striking fact in the foregoing table is that in the 
Dalladies and Drumhendry division, a purely farming 
district, the males are 78 and the females 45 — a fact which 
proves so far that females, as above stated, are less and less 
required for farm labour. 

Mr Foote, in his Statistical Account (written a hundred 
years ago), gives the numbers employed in certain trades, 
and these are presumed to include journeymen and 
apprentices as well as masters, and are as follows : — 
Handloom weavers, 50 ; shoemakers, 25 ; tailors, 1 6 ; 
Wrights, 18; blacksmiths, 10; and millers, 10. There 
are now no handloom weavers: John Caithness, who died a 
few years ago, was the last ; the shoemakers are only three 
or four; the tailors also three or four; the blacksmiths 
have not decreased ; and the millers are only one-half the 
former number. Mr Foote states the number of tenant 
farmers as 170; the number now is about 60, of whom 
at least seven are tradesmen with crofts or small holdings. 

Of the male population employed as farm servants, about 
105 are householders, and from 15 to 20 are young men 
lodged for the most part in farm bothies. The number of 
male heads of households in other callings and trades is 
about 115. The manufactures in the parish are few and 
not very important. The largest is that of Fettercairn 
Distillery at Nethermill, which employs ten or twelve men. 
It was founded in 1824 by a company, with the late 
James Durie as manager, who, after a time, acquired the 
concern, and carried it on successfully till his death in 
1854. His son David succeeded, and extended the business 
till October, 1889, when the premises were destroyed by 
fire. From its well-known quality the genuine "Fetter- 
cairn" commanded the highest price in the home and 
foreign markets. In 1891 a joint-stock company renewed 
the buildings, fitting them with machinery and apparatus 
capable of greatly increased production. 

PopvlaUon, 33 

For thirty years previous to 1875 a successful pork-curing 
business was carried on by the late James Dakers, and since 
then, with the exception of a small woollen factory at 
Arnhall and a freestone quarry at Caldcotes on the estate 
of Fasque, the chief sources of employment are to be 
found in agricultural pursuits. In former times the parish 
contained five or six inns or ale-houses, of which the 
Ramsay Arms Hotel, the Forbes Arms Hotel, and the 
Red Lion Inn were in the village. The only one now 
remaining is the Ramsay Arms, owned and enlarged by 
the Edzell Hotel Company. 

part Secon&. 


Chapter IV. 


IT may be premised that in the olden time the Howe of 
the Mearns, like other parts of Scotland, was the scene 
of many stirring events not recorded in history. But it is 
a fact supported by eminent authorities, and amongst these 
by the late Bishop Forbes of Brechin, that few districts in 
Scotland have been to a greater degree in times of yore the 
scenes of battle and bloodshed than the neighbourhood of 
Fettercairn. If it be said that from Stirling Castle one can 
view twelve battlefields, it is not too much to say that 
from the loopholes of Fettercairn Church spire the half at 
least of that number can be viewed ; though of course it is 
not claimed that the battles referred to rank in importance 
with those of Stirlingshire. The locality was on the direct 
route, from south to north, followed by the early invaders, 
and the Palace of Kincardine was doubtless a resting-place 
for royal excursions and military expeditions. The earliest 
invasions of which we have any record were those of the 
Roman armies in the first three centuries of the Christian 

Historf/ piof to 994 a,d, 35 

era, during which our rude ancestors had many conflicts 
with the Roman soldiers. Of the twenty-one tribes which 
peopled Scotland at the time of Agricola*s invasion (84 a.d.), 
the Yenricones inhabited the parts now called Angus and 

The Roman armies forced their way northwards along 
the vale of Strathmore, the Howe of the Mearns, and 
through Aberdeenshire to the Moray Firth. On their 
route from the Tay to the Dee, we have at intervals of 
every twelve miles, or a day's march, the remains of their 
camps, at Coupar-Angus, Cardean near Meigle, Forfar, 
Battledykes or Finhaven, Blackdykes or Keith ock, Fordoun, 
Raedykes or Fetteresso, and Normandykes or Peterculter. 
The late Professor Stewart of Aberdeen, and some other 
antiquarians, contended that the great battle of Mons 
Grampius (84 a.d.) was fought at Raedykes. 

The native Britons had their defensive encampments 
on Caterthun, on the heights of Greencairn, the Hunter's 
hill, and at the Green Castle camp above Mill of Kincardine. 
There can be no doubt as to the serious nature of their 
engagements with the Roman troops, since we read that 
the Emperor Severus, in 209 A.D., lost 50,000 soldiers in 
the north-east of Scotland. We may safely assume that a 
certain proportion of this host must have fallen within the 
bounds of the Mearns ; because no doubt every inch of their 
progress would be disputed by the natives, who were 
probably as much " men " as the inhabitants of the present 

The Castle of Greencairn is supposed to have been the 
seat and stronghold of the Maormor or Earl of the Mearns, 
it being one of the ten districts into which, in the tenth 
century, the part of Scotland lying north of the Forth was 
divided. The Earldom of the Mearns comprehended the 
territory lying between the North Esk and the Dee, or 
what now forms the County of Kincardine. The term 

36 Fetter cairn, 

Maormor, literally Ch-eat Officer, was the Celtic title of 
honour conferred upon the chief or civil ruler of a district. 
His power was such that he could not be deposed by the 
Icing, and he governed very much by the laws which 
he himself enacted. This led to frequent broils and open 
hostility ; and in the Mearns alone led to the death of three 
kings of Scotland. Malcolm I. was defeated and slain, in 
953, at Fetteresso, by Moray men ; Kenneth III. was 
assassinated in 994, at Fettercairn, by the Lady Finella, wife 
of the Maormor; and Duncan II., in 1094, at Duncan's 
Shade, Mondynes, Fordoun, by Maolpeder, Maormor of 
the Mearns. 

From the fourth century when the Romans withdrew 
from North Britain, up to the end of the tenth century, 
when, in 994, Fenella appears on the scene, very little is 
known of current events. The Picts inhabited the north 
and east of Scotland, and engaged in a battle at Dunnichen 
in 685 A.D., in which they, probably men of Angus and 
Mearns led by Nechtan their chief, defeated the Northum- 
brians, and slew Egbrid their king. With this exception 
no other event worthy of notice is recorded in history. 

Underground caves, however, artifically constructed, are 
said to have been discovered in a few places within the 
county, and these may have been Picts' houses. One or two 
of these were believed to be of interminable length, into 
which persons in later times entered, but, sad to relate, 
never returned. The old people of Fettercairn had a 
tradition that a subterranean passage extended from 
Balbegno Castle to the House of Balmain, but the boggy 
nature of the ground between the two places precludes the 
possibility. If passage or cave existed at all, it could only 
be a Pict's house on the higher and drier slopes of Balbegno. 

The first authentic event connected with Fettercairn is 
the assassination of Kenneth IIL in 994. If, according to 
the old chroniclers, the place was then a "towne," its 

History prior to 994 -^•^. 37 

beginning must have been at a date ever so much earlier. 
By way of introduction to the story of Kenneth's tragic 
death, a short account of his previous history and of 
relative incidents may be given. He was the son of 
Malcolm I., king of Scotland. He did not succeed his 
father, his right being usurped by Indulph the son of a 
former king. Strict succession in those days was not 
always maintained, and other two kings followed in order 
before Kenneth ascended the throne in a.d. 970. As a 
king he cherished a deep sense of his duties, and 
undertook with a high hand to tame his rebellious 
subjects and reform their manners. These reforms in- 
volved the death of not a few of his nobles; but he 
persevered and so far succeeded in accomplishing his 
purpose. In 980 a.d. a host of Danish invaders landed at 
Montrose and wrecked the town. In his defeat of the 
Danes at Luncarty, the legend bears that he was assisted 
by a ploughman and his sons, the reputed ancestors of the 
Hays of Errol. With their help, having driven off these 
invaders, Kenneth and his people enjoyed peace and pros- 
perity. But after a time trouble and disorder arose in the 
Mearns, which led in the end to the death of Kenneth. 
Hollinshead, the English chronicler, relates that Cruthlint, 
*^ One of the chiefest lords of the Mearns, was son unto a 
certain ladie named Fenella, the daughter of one named 
Cruthneth, that was governor of the part of Angus which 
lieth betwixt the two rivers, the Southeske and the North- 
eske. Cruthlint chanced to come unto the Castell of 
Delbogin to see his grandfather, the said Cruthneth, where, 
upon light occasion, a fraie (quarrel) was begun among the 
serving men, in the which two of Cruthlint*s servants 
fortuned to be slaine." The chronicler details at great 
length that Cruthlint complained to his grandfather, who 
took the part of his own servants and answered him re- 
proachfully. Whereupon his grandfather's men fell upon 

38 Fettercaim. 

him and beat him so much that his life was in danger. 
He however escaped, and at the instigation of his mother, 
Fenella, "in the Castell of Fethircarne," he gathered to- 
gether secretly a band of Mearns men and made a night 
attack upon the Castle of Dalbog, slew the inmates, carried 
off the spoil, and divided the same among his followers. 
Next day he forayed the district and returned with great 
booty. The men of Angus assembled themselves and in- 
vaded the Mearns. After a series of skirnaishes, involving 
much slaughter and destruction of property on both sides, 
the king was informed of the mischief, and forthwith, by 
proclamation, ordered the culpable leaders, upon pain of 
death, to appear within fifteen days at Scone to answer for 
their conduct. Few appeared, and Cnithlint and other 
leaders fled to the fastnesses of the Highlands. Kenneth 
was sorely moved, and resolved to pursue and punish these 
rebellious subjects. They were captured in Lochaber and 
brought to the Castle of Dunsinane, where Cruthlint and the 
chief rebels were executed. Their common followers were 
pardoned, and for this the king was greatly praised ; but, 
for her son's death, Fenella cherished towards him a deadly 
hatred. To secure the succession to the crown in his own 
family, he conceived the idea of getting rid by poison of his 
nephew Malcolm, whom the nobles preferred. He secretly 
accomplished his wicked purpose ; but remorse of conscience 
and the constant terror of detection troubled him so much 
that he could not rest, and to ease his mind he humbly 
confessed to his bishop, who counselled him to do penance 
at the shrine of St. Palladius at Fordoun ; and it was when 
on his way thither that he is supposed to have met his 
death at the hands of Fenella. He lodged at the " Castell 
of Fethercarne, where there was a forest full of all manner 
of wild beasts that were to be had in anie part of Albion." 
Fenella, concealing her deadly intention, gave him a hearty 
reception. Within her castle she had a tower constructed, 

Histart^ prior to 994 -^•^- ^ 

" covered with copper " and fitted inside with rich furnish- 
ings: >" Behind the same were crossbowes set ready bent, 
with sharp querrels in them, "^ and in the middle a brazen 
ima^e resembling the figure of the king, holding in one 
hand a golden apple, so artfully devised that, if any one 
took hold of it, the crossbaws would discharge their querrels 
upon him with great force. Fenella, then, after meat, in- 
vited Kenneth into the chamber. He admired its rich 
hangings and furniture, and asked what the image signified^ 
Fenella answered that it represented his person, and that 
she intended the golden apple set with precious stones to 
be a gift for him; at the same time courteously and 
smilingly requesting him to accept the present and take it 
in his hand. To avoid danger to herself, she artfully drew 
aside, but the king no sooner took hold of the apple than 
the crossbows discharged their querrels into his body, and 
he fell mortally wounded, and when after a short time his 
servants forced their way, they found him lying dead on 
the floor. HoUinshead farther relates that Fenella took 
horse and fled from her pursuers, and that by the help of 
Constantine, Kenneth's successor, she escaped and landed 
in Ireland. The tradition still current in the Mearns bears 
that she fled across the Howe and over the hill of Garvock, 
concealing herself in the tree tops, and when overtaken by 
her pursuers at the deep rocky gorge of Lauriston, St. 
Cyrus, called after her " Den Fenella," where the stream 
forms a picturesque waterfall a hundred feet high, 

" She leapt from the rocks to a wild boiling pool, 
Where her body was torn and toss'd. " 

Buchanan and other historians deem all this story a 
fable, though asserted by John Major and Hector Boece, 
and think it more probable that the king, when engaged 
in hunting the deer, the wolf, the badger and the boar in 
the pleasant and shady groves near Fettercairn, was slain 

40 Fettercaini. 

in an ambush prepared by Fenella. Local tradition 
asserts that the freestone slab in St Palladius Chapel, 
curiously sculptured with the figures of armed horsemen 
and animals of the chase, commemorates the death of 
Kenneth. Referring to this event, Skene, in his Celtic 
Alban, quotes from a Pictish Chronicle that Kenneth was 
slain at the foot of the Grampians, or Monedh so called ; 
the event being thus described : — 

** He will bend his steps, no neighbourly act 
To Magsliabh at the great Monedh ; 
The Gael wi]l shout around his head ; 
His death was the end of it. " 

The story as related by Wyntoun in book vi. of his 
Rhyming Chronicle is, in his original style, as follows : — 

'* To this Kyng Culen dede, 
Malcolmys sowne the Kyng Kynede 
Wes oure the Scottis in Scotland 
Twenty yhere and foure regnand. 
The Erie of Angus in hys dayis 
Conquhare calld, the story sayis, 
Had a dochtyre Fynbella calld, 
The quhilk had a sone yhong and bold ; 
At Dwnsynane this Kyned 
The Kyng put this man to dede. 
Fra thine hys modyr had ay in thowcht 
To ger this kyng to dede be browcht ; 
And for scho cowth noucht do, that be mycht, 
Scho made thame traytowyrs by hyr slycht, 
That, the kyng befor them wend 
For his lele legis hade bene kend. 
As throw the Mernys on a day 
The kyng was rydand his hey way, 
Off hys awyne curt al suddanly 
Agayne hym ras a cumpany 
In to the towne off Fethyrkerne ; 
To fecht wyth hym thai ware sa yherne, 

Hisioiy prior to 99 i a,d. 41 

And he agayne thame faucht sa fast ; 

But he thare slayne was at the last, 

And off this mak and rehers 

Owth hym wryttyn ar thire wers ; 

Post quern rex/ertur Scotis regnasse Kynedun 

McUcomi nattuf qvattior et d-eca bin. 
Iste Fethyrkeme tdisfit et arte peremptus 

Nate Cuncari Fimbd fraude cadenn" 

Of this verse the following is a literal translation : And 
after him (Culene) Kenneth, the son of Malcolm, is said to 
have reigned over the Scots four and twenty (years). He, 
by artfulness and deadly weapons, was slain at Fettercairn, 
falling by the guile of Fenella, the daughter of Cunquhar. 

Some historians maintain that Kincardine Castle and not 
Greencairn was the residence of Fenella, and that she was 
captured, taken back to her castle and burned together 
with the ^building. Kenneth's body was carried to lona, 
"a far cry" in those days, and buried with other kings 
and nobles. His subjects deeply lamented his untimely 
death, and in Perthshire, where he defeated and drove 
off the Danish invaders, the very name of Fettercairn 
became a byword and a reproach. 

42 Fettercairn, 

Chapter V. 

HISTORY FROM 994 TO 1600. 

rpHE next important event in chronological order is the 
J- death of Duncan II., in 1094, at Mondynes, in the 
parish of Fordoun. He fell by the hands of Maolpeder, 
the Maormor of the Mearns, whose trainband would largely 
consist of men from his headquarters at Fettercairn. In 
the subsequent century, the events which affected Fetter- 
cairn were the attack in 1107 of Morayshire and Mearns 
rebels upon Alexander I. in his castle of Hurley Hawkin, 
near Invergowrie, and in 1130 the defeat and slaughter 
at Stracathro of the Earl of Moray and his followers by 
David I. After him the way across the river at Capo is 
said to have got its name — the King's Ford. In the 
twelfth century, William the Lion occupied Kincardine 
Castle, and to it were attached all the offices common to 
a royal household of the period. His first hawksman or 
falconer was progenitor of the noble family of Kintore, and 
the constable of the castle (a Carnegie), so far as is known, 
was that of the noble house of Southesk. In the thirteenth 
century, Alexander III. resided occasionally at Kincardine. 
On his northward journey King Edward I. visited 
"Kyncardyn en Mernes Meynor" on the 11th July, 1296^ 
and again, on returning southward, on the 4th August 
following. With him were 30,000 foot soldiers and 5000 
mailed and mounted men-at-arms. These royal processions^ 
in conjunction with John Baliol's resignation of the 

Histm-y from 9H to 1600. 45 

Scottish crown, must have caused no small stir in and" 
around Fettercairn. In 1297 Wallace and a trusty band 
of followers overran the country, and especially Angus 
and Mearns, driving along and slaying the Southrons that 
Edward had left to garrison the castles, until on the rock 
of Dunnottar, where 4000 of their number took refuge^ 
they were beaten with fire and sword or driven into the 
sea. Blind Harry's account runs thus : — 

In plain battail throuchout the Mernyss they ride, 
' The Inglismen that durst them nocht abide, 
Befor the host fuU fear'dly furth they flee 
Until Dwnotter a swape within the sea. 

Wallace brynt the kyrk and all that was tharin, 
Atour the rock the lave ran with great din, 
Some hung on crags ryght dolfally to dee. 
Some lap, some fell, some floteryt in the sea. 

On a conquering tour through Scotland in 1303, Edward 
and his forces besieged Brechin Castle, and on the march 
to Aberdeen they passed through Fettercairn. Although 
history and tradition now fail to give any detailed account 
of those troublous times, yet one or two local place-names 
so far supply some information. On a gentle slope of the 
hill, along the left bank of Balnakettle burn, and about a 
mile north-west of Upper Thainston farmstead, may be 
seen a grassy spot bearing slight traces of remote cultiva- 
tion. Its name, BaUyveinie, now almost forgotten, means 
The toivn of strife or war. At some distance westward are 
two hollows, one of which has been known as Englishman's 
den, and the other as Scotchman's den} These local designa- 

^ On a summer afternoon in 1857, some three or four Fettercairn 
gentlemen led by a worthy old Celtic antiquarian, William M'Donald 
Cotton of Thainston, went with picks and spades to explore one or two 
of the Bally vernie small mounds that looked like the tumuli of a battle- 
field. But no remains of any kind other than black earth were found. 

44 Fettercairn, 

tions point to the wars of the Scottish Independence, and 
evidently to the conflict of Bruce and Comyn Earl of 
Buchan, on the 25th December, 1307, when Bruce and his 
Army were retiring southward from Inverness. 

Buchanan's account is, *' That when Bruce was come to 
the forest through which the river Esk falls down into the 
plains of Merns, Comyn overtook him at a place called 
Olenesk." If this encounter took place, not at the head of 
the glen as some maintain, but at the foot, it must be 
admitted that Bally vernie, though considerably eastward 
on the hillside, was the scene of the conflict. It is not 
improbable that Bruce, in gratitude for his victory, made 
additional grants to the Knights of St. John at Newdosk 
in the vicinity. From a time unknown it belonged to 
them, and formed a part of the Regality of Torphichen. 
Newdosk, or Neudos, is a Celtic word meaning either 
The Holy Sheltei' or A gift to Heaven, 

In 1341, David IL and Joanna his queen, on their 
return from France, landed at Bervie and visited Kincar- 
dine and Fettercairn. The marriage of his sister Margaret 
to William Earl of Sutherland, took place at Kincardine, 
and she received a grant of the lands of Fettercairn. 
Robert II. held Courts and Juries in the palace, and 
charters from it were dated 1371, 1375, and 1383. 

In May, 1452, Alexander, the fourth Earl of Crawford, 
the Tiger Earl or "Earl Beardie," collected his forces to 
avenge the assassination of Douglas in Stirling Castle by 
James II., and tried to intercept the Earl of Huntly and 
the royalist forces at the foot of the Cairn o' Mount. But, 
by Huntly's eluding him, Fettercairn and its vicinity 
escaped being the scene of the bloody and disastrous 
encounter which took place at Harecairn, on Huntly hill of 
Stracathro, where Crawford was defeated. 

James IV. and Margaret his queen, when on their way 
to and from Aberdeen, lodged several times at the castle of 

Histm^y fv<m 994, to 1600. 4& 

Kincardine ; and once, in 1507 (if the story can be credited),, 
he rode in a single day from Stirling, by Perth and 
Aberdeen, to Elgin, galloping hurriedly past Fettercairn 
and other places. In 1511, Queen Margaret made a more 
leisurely journey to Aberdeen, when, by order of the 
magistrates, the streets of the city were cleared of 
*'middings and swine's cruives" for her reception. In 
1504, the king, favouring Adam Hepburn of Craggis 
(Inglismaldie) for his good service, and likewise to suit the 
lieges crossing the Cairn o' Mount, erected the Kirkton of 
Fethircam belonging to the said Adam and his wife, 
Elizabeth Ogston, into a free burgh, with a market cross, a 
weekly market, and a public fair annually on the first of 
August, or the feast of St. Peter. This license was renewed 
to John Earl Middleton, in 1670. From a subsequent 
charter to the burgesses of Montrose, it appears that wool, 
skins, hides, salmon, and other merchandise, were sold at 
the Fettercairn markets. In 1532, James V. granted a 
charter to the fourth Earl Marischal to make Kincardine 
town the capital of the county, which it continued to be 
till 1607. How this affected Fettercairn is not recorded. 
Queen Mary, journeying northwards, and accompanied by 
her nobles, attendants, and men-at-arms, to quell the 
Huntly rebellion, reached Edzell Castle on the 25th of 
August, 1562, and proceeded next day through Fettercairn 
to Aberdeen. James VI. paid visits to Aberdeen in 1582, 
1589, 1592, 1594, and 1600, going and returning on some, 
if not all, of these occasions by Fettercairn and Kincardine.. 

46 Fettercairn. 

Chaiter VI. 

HISTORY FROM 16(K) TO 1698. 

DURING- the troublous times of the Covenant in the 
first half of the seventeenth century, Fettercairn did 
not escape the evils that overtook the country. Being on 
iihe highway and direct line of route from south to north, 
the contending armies and parties left traces of themselves 
and their movements. From Memorials of the time 
written by John Spalding, Commissary Clerk and Diarist 
•of Aberdeen, the following statements and extracts may be 
-quoted. "In January, 1635, Mr John Spottiswood, 
Archbishop of St. Andrews, was made Chancellor of Scot- 
land, and his son President. Whereupon the Marquis of 
Huntly being rejected, moved South by short stages. 
"Satterday, he got to Fettercarne where he was stormsted 
Sonday, Mounonday, and Tuysday. Left for Brechine, 
sex myllis on Wedensday. In March, 1639, a meeting was 
proposed anent covenanting trubles between the earl of 
Argyle and his good-brother, the Marquis of Huntly at 
Brechine or Fettercarne, but said to be not held. August 
22nd, 1639: the body of John Menzies, son of the late 
Provost of Aberdeen, drowned riding throw the North 
water, was conveyed with mournful procession to Aberdeen." 
The Marquis of Montrose, whose erratic marches, sudden 
victories and strange coursing over Scotland, read like a 
romance of history, made his presence felt in no place more 

History from 1600 to 1698. 47 

than in Fettercairn. As an ardent covenanter, the 
Committee of the Tables gave him the command of their 
forces. On the 12th of February, 1639, he rode with a 
chosen company of two hundred hien through Fettercairn 
and^ dver the Oairn o* Mount to support a meeting of 
covenanters at Turriff. And along with the Earl Marischal 
of Dunnottar and Captain John Middleton (afterwards 
Earl Middleton of Fettercairn) at the head of the Mearns 
men, they fought on the 19th June, 1639, at the Bridge of 
Dee, and conipelled the people of Aberdeen to sign the 
Covenant. Oh the 11th July, 1640, Captain Middleton, 
with eighty soldiers, marched from Fettercairn, or from 
Caldhame (his father's house and lands) to Aberdeen, " to 
compel the band to subscribe for the Earl Marischal." In 
1644, after Montrose had turned royalist, he marched his 
troops up and down over Scotland, and in the autumn of 
that year passed twice through Fettercairn. His forces, 
made up of Highland clans and Irish auxiliaries,^ put to 
flight the Covenanting army at Aberdeen, pillaged the city 
and slew the people. Many of the covenanters who fled 
took refuge in the Mearns. The Earl of Argyle raised a 
regiment to oppose Montrose, and, according to Spalding, 
they landed with their wives at Old Aberdeen. And to 
make up for small pay, or no pay, they plundered the 
country. At Drum, some 800 of them were paid 4000 
merks to get them off*, and they took the heich (high) road 
south. Their wives were sent by the citizens to overtake 
their husbands at Fettercarne, and they, in Aberdeen, 
thought themselves well quite (quit) of this rascal regiment. 
But what an amount of suifering all this entailed upon the 
helpless inhabitants of Fettercairn, subjected to the pillage 

1 In this connection it is interesting to note that Alexander, the son of 
Coll McDonnell, "Colkitto " (Coll-the-left-handed) of the noble house of 
Antrim, was the brave leader of this Irish band, because the Lady Jane 
Grey Trefusis, now of Fettercairn, is a daughter of the late Mark 
McDonnell, fifth Earl of Antrim. 

48 Fettercairn, 

and plundering invasion of a wild, lawless, and hungry 
army of 800 men with wives and followers. 

After the defeat of the £arl of Argyle, at Inverlochy, on 
2nd February, 1645, the Marquis of Montrose, with an 
additional number of Highland chiefs and their followers, 
reached Aberdeen, and marching southward, pillaged and 
burnt Stonehaven, Cowie, the estates and lands of the 
Earl Marischal, who took refuge in the Castle of Dunnottar, 
the lands of Drumlithie and Arbuthnott, as well as the 
Howe of the Meams which was left ^' black with fire and 
red with blood," amidst the tears and lamentations of the 
wretched inhabitants. As described by Spalding : 

" Montrose cumis to Fettercairn upon Frydday, the 22nd 
day of Marche, quarteris his foot army, and sendis out 
c(uarter-mesteris to quarter sum trooperis in the countrie 
and about the broughe of Montroiss. But General-Major 
Hurry, lying in ambush within the planting of Halkertoun 
by (without) their knowledge, issues out suddantlie with 
ane gryte crye and ane schout upone thir trouperis, who 
returnit back to Montroiss' camp shortlie. But how soon 
Hurry sees thame, he takes intill ane uther buss hard 
besyd, but he is rousit out and routit throw the North 
Watter, who fled gryter skaith than he gave to Livetenant- 
Major Baillie lying nar hand, with his army. Montroiss' 
trooperis returnis back to the camp, quhair Mr James- 
Strathauchin's ^ houss in Fettercarne was brynt." 

"Montrois stayit at Fettercane Frydday, Satterday, 
Sonday, and marchis therefra upon Monnonday, the 25th 
of Marche (1645), to Brechine with his foot army. . . . 
Marche was very windie, heiche and outrageous, whereofT 

^ Although not stated by Spalding, James Strathauchin or Strachan 
was the proprietor, and not the minister of Fettercairn, as supposed by 
Jervise, Fraser, and others. The minister was a David Strachan, also- 
connected with the Strachans of Thornton, who from time to time 
had grants, the last of these in 1637, of the lands of Fettercairn and 

Hidorif from 1600 to 1698, 49 

the lyke was never seen heir." During the stay of 
Montrose and his troops, they laid waste the neighbouring 
lands, and killed the aged father of General Middleton as 
he sat in his chair in the Castle of Caldhame. 

It would appear from Spalding's account that, soon after 
the departure of Montrose and his troops, General Baillie 
and the covenanting army returned from some counter- 
marchings beyond Brechin, and on the 11th of April 
passed through Fettercairn on the route to Aberdeen. 
Accompanied by several nobles and barons, and marching 
round by Strathbogie, they plundered the cattle and goods 
of all loyal to the king ; and turning south through AthoU, 
" he syne merchis throw the heids (hillsides) to Kirriemure, 
Fettercarne, and upon Setterday, 10th May, cums and 
campis in the Birss, plunderin the countrie wherer he goes, 
eiting the grein growin cornes, scairss cum to the bleid, 
with their horsis. He had above 2000 foot and sax score 
trouperis." Five years later, in 1650, the people of Fetter- 
cairn saw the great and high-handed Montrose sadly 
humbled, after his betrayal by Macleod of Assynt, being led 
along, as we read, bound hand and foot with straw ropes, 
on horseback, to his execution in Edinburgh. 

In the end of the same year another procession, but of a 
different character, passed through Fettercairn. The Earl 
of Errol journeyed from Slains Castle to Scone, where he 
had to officiate as Lord High Constable of Scotland at the 
coronation of Charles II., on the 1st of January, 1651. 
They arrived at Fettercairn on the 26th of December, and 
lodged there for the night. In a Household Book of the 
Errol family, the following record of discharge occurs : 

" For supper and breakfast at Fettercarne in 

Harie Balfour's, £7 (11/8 stg.) 

For corn and stra for 7 horse, one night there, 5 4 (8/8). 

To the servants in drink money, ... 8 (8d)." 

The whole amount of the bill being 21/ stg. The earl and 

50 Fetlercairn, 

his train (an Express of the period) took four days to do 
the journey, about 110 miles. The stages were Muchalls, 
Fettercairn, Forfar, and Scone. A modern Express would 
cover the distance in less than three hours. 

In 1651 the Castle of Edzell was occupied by Cromwell's 
troops, and the parish register records that for two months, 
October and November, "there was no sermon in the 
church, the English army having scattered the people of 
God to gather corn and forage for their horses." The 
lands of Fettercairn had, no doubt, to bear their share of 
this forage. But here it may be noted that Cromwell 
confirmed by a precept, dated at Edinburgh in 1657, to 
Andrew Wood, the lands of Balbegno and the thanedom of 

Towards the end of the month of May, 1685, a company 
of wretched prisoners, barefooted and with hands bound 
behind their backs, were driven like sheep along the high- 
way which has been already referred to as traversing the 
lower parts of the parish from west to east. The unhappy 
company of covenanters, numbering altogether about 167 
men and women, were in charge of a band of rude soldiers, 
who were under orders of the Privy Council to convey 
them from the prisons of the south and west of Scotland to 
the Castle of Dunnottar. Throughout the long and weari- 
some journey no shelter by day or by night was provided 
for the prisoners, and during the last night there raged a 
pitiless storm of wind and rain. A halt was called at the 
North Water Bridge, built in a previous age by the famous 
reformer, John Erskine of Dun, and within the parapet 
walls of the bridge the unhappy company were huddled 
together, whilst a few of the soldiers kept guard at either 

Another event, worthy of being narrated, took place in 
the following year at Fettercairn. On Sunday, 29th July, 
1686, a Mr William Burnett, who by purchase had acquired 

Histary fimi 1600 to 1698. 51 

the lands of Balfour, collected all his tenants, thirty-three 
in number, and took forcible possession of the whole seats 
in the church, which belonged to the estate of Balfour, in- 
cluding a "laigh dask," sold in 1632 by Alexander Straton 
of Lauriston and Balfour to the first Earl of Southesk. 
The contest took place between Burnett and Robert the 
third Earl, to whom, in 1673, the Stratons sold the 
patronage of the church. For his intrusive act, Burnett 
was fined by the Privy Council. 

Still another Sunday morning event, and also at the 
church, falls in the order of time to be noticed. Mr 
Hercules Skinner, minister of Fettercairn, died in January, 
1698. His assistant, Mr David Clark, son of William 
Clark in Nethermill, eagerly desired to be appointed 
successor. His friends and relations, however, proceeded 
in a very questionable way to secure the desired object. 
On Sunday, 13th February, Mr Francis Melville, minister 
of Arbuthnott, came by order of the Presbytery to preach 
the church vacant. He was grievously assailed by Mr 
Clark and some sixteen persons, whose names and doings, 
as detailed in a report of their trial at the Sheriff Court, 
are given in another chapter. " They beat Mr Francis and 
blooded him with stones, rent his clothes, kept up the keys 
of the kirk door in proud and manifest contempt of the 
laws of the kingdom." 

52 Fetteirairn. 

Chapter VII. 

HISTORY FROM 1698 TO 1747. 

LESS than a quarter of a century ago there stood, on what 
is now a vacant piece of ground near the N.E. side of 
the kirkyard, an ancient-looking clay-built and thatched 
biggin', whose quaintly finished timbers, patched up from 
time to time, finally collapsed under the ravages of natural 
decay. It had served its day and generation ; first, as the 
hostelry or principal inn of the village ; next, as an 
ordinary dwelling house ; and, last of all, as the cooperage 
of a thriving pork-curing establishment (which ceased to be 
when the owner, the late lamented Mr Dakers, went the 
way of all flesh). It was said to have afforded a night's 
lodging to the " Bonnie Prince Charlie " ; but as he never 
came by way of the Mearns, his name must have been 
through time confounded with that of his father, the old 
Pretender, or James VIIL, who landed at Peterhead on 
the 22nd December, 1715, arrived at Fetteresso on the 
24th, and staying there a week with the Earl Marischal, 
left for Brechin and the south, either on the 1st or 2nd of 
January, 1716. If on the 1st, as some state, he took two 
days to reach Brechin, and lodged for the night at Fetter- 
cairn. That he did is supported only by tradition; and 
the probability is that, in course of time, the story of the 
night's lodging, as already noticed, of the Earl of Errol and 
his retinue on their way to the coronation of Charles IL 
came to be told in connection with Charles the Pretender. 

Hist(yry from 1698 to 1747, 53 

A knoll in a field east of Fettercairn village has for the 
last century and a half borne the name of "KandaFs 
Knap." The hillock with its name, to succeeding gener- 
ations of youngsters in the callage, has been more or less a 
source of fear ; but on one day of the year, one of joy, for 
the rolling of their Easter eggs down its steep sides. Of 
fear, because of the weird tale, that upon it Eandal was 
hanged. What name it bore before that event nobody 
knows. Probably the Mod or Court-hill and the heading- 
hill of the barony in the olden time. Eandal Courtney, an 
Irish soldier, residing in Luthermuir, broke into the " stane 
hoose o' Cadam,"^ and stole a watch and other articles. 
He was caught in a weaving cellar, which is still to the 
fore, at the "Townhead" of Fettercairn, tried before the 
Justiciary Court on 6th August, 1743, and sentenced to be 
hanged at Fettercairn on the 21st September following. 
TYlq- Scots Magazine gives this account of the trial : 


" That the fact as deponed to by his accomplice, Robert Sutor, 
for whom a remission was obtained in order to his being made an 
evidence, and whose testimony was supported by Mr Keith's man, 
maidservants, and other evidences, was, that Courtney had for 
some months before invited him (Sutor) to take part in searching 
for a sum of money that lay hid in the Muir near Fettercairn ; 
that having the night of 7th April last been prevailed on to 
accompany Courtney, they went together till they came near the 
house of Mr Keith of Caldham, where Courtney then told him the 
money lay ; that Courtney, having made a rope of straw, got upon 
the garden dyke, from thence upon the brewhouse, and ascending 
the mansion house, fixed his rope to the chimney and got down 
into the kitchen, and opened the door let in the deponent ; that 
after fastening the doors of the bed where the two maidservants 
lay, they bound the manservant, and throwing him into the bed 
behind his master, ordered the gentleman to deliver what money, 
&c. he had ; that the gentleman gave Courtney what gold he had 
in his breeches ; but Courtney, not content, ordered the deponent 

^ George Keith's, who built the bridge of Caldbame, in 1744, and left 
a sum of money for its upkeep and for the poor of Marykirk. 

54 Fetfei'cairn, 

k> go and heat the tongs, in order to put the gentleman's ears into 
them and extort the rest of his money from him ; that the gentle- 
man thereupon gave them the keys of his repositories and assisted 
them to open the same ; that Courtney carried off what money and 
gold was therein, and locking the gentleman and servant up, went 
down stairs and plundered the house of bed and table-linen, and 
that the deponent's dividend of the spulzie was only £18 sterling. 
Sic Subscribitur — Robert Sutor." 

The Wright that made Kandal's gallows was a worthy 
man, Alexander CroU, tenant of Kirkhill, alias "Kirky 
Croll " ; but the popular odium, incurred by his doing this 
piece of work, won for him and his son after him the 
nickname of "Pin the Wuddie" — the wuddie being the 
withe or wand in place of a rope. The watch which 
Randal stole was a remarkable piece of mechanism. It 
was duly restored to the laird of Caldhame, and became 
afterwards the property of the Rev. James Beattie, minister 
of Maryton, from whom it was also stolen, and was again 
the means of identifying the thief. It now belongs to 
Mr David Watson in Ireland, brother of the late John 
Watson, Banker, Laurencekirk. 

In March, 1746, the Duke of Cumberland despatched 
300 of his troops, under the command of a refugee French 
Officer, to occupy Edzell Castle and burn the houses and 
homesteads of all who had gone to join the Pretender, as 
well as to disarm all rebels left in Glenesk and the other 
glens of Forfarshire. The Fettercairn people were gener- 
ally loyal to the House of Hanover and gave no occasion 
for such a visitation. This will be seen from one or two 
subsequent incidents which fall to be narrated. After the 
defeat of the rebels at Culloden, not a few of them fled in 
the direction of the Mearns, coming down over the Cairn 
o* Mount and molesting the peacefully disposed inhabitants 
of Fettercairn. A number of the latter, acting in accord- 
ance with a proclamation of the Duke of Cumberland, and 
on the authority of the sheriiT of the county, armed them- 

History from 1698 to 1747, 55 

selves as a guard to watch day and night, especially the 
Cairn road, and prevent the destruction of life and property. 
In the exercise of this duty, they wepe accused by Sir Alex. 
Ramsay and other Justices of the Peace in a meeting at 
Druralitliie, of too much zeal in the discharge of their duty, 
of complicity in a murder and a robbery that had been 
committed, but of which they did not directly accuse the 
guard. The Justices, however, sent an order against night 
watching under arms, to be read from the pulpits of 
Fettercairn and Fordoun Parish Churches. All this, like 
many other movements in troublous times, would not now 
be heard of but for a petition and complaint, of date 11th 
June, 1 7 16, presented to the Presbytery of Fordoun. It 
was composed and written in rather quaint terms by James 
Bate, schoolmaster, and signed by him and others of the 
parties accused. The Presbytery received the Petition, 
approved of the loyalty and diligence of the complainers, 
and agreed to ask the Earl of Ancrum to present said 
petition to the Duke of Cumberland, and request him to 
take his own method of securing these hill passes and the 
peace of this corner of the country. 

On the afternoon of the r2th of February, 1747, a gang 
of armed men from Brechin, five or six in number, made a 
raid upon the village of Fettercairn. Their leader was a 
desperate fellow of the name of Davidson, a keen Jacobite, 
evidently bent on revenge as well as robbery and plunder. 
Their first attack was made upon the house of the Rev. 
Anthony Dow, the minister, partly because he had acted a 
prominent part against the rebellion of 1745, and partly 
because he was no doubt the first man in the place worth 
robbing. The story bears that Mr Dow and his man- 
servant very bravely defended themselves and their 
property ; that, aided by some others, they took Davidson 
prisoner : but that he was soon rescued by his men, who 
did the good Mr Dow "a deal of mischief." Their next 

56 Fettercairn. 

attack was upon the schoolhouse, which then stood on the 
ground, now a garden, hehind the farm steading of Kirkhill ; 
but whether the schoolmaster (Mr James Bate) defended as 
bravely as the minister, is not known. It is however 
well known that, in the skirmish, the school house was 
burnt down, but whether accidentally or by design of the 
assailants, cannot now be determined. According to one 
account they wanted to get at the names and birth entries 
of certain individuals in the Kirk Session Records kept by 
the schoolmaster. According to another account they 
wanted the very opposite, viz., to burn the house and 
destroy the records. If this was their purpose they 
succeeded, inasmuch as the books of the forty years from 
1682 to 1722 are nowamissing; while portions of subse- 
quent volumes, now bound together, but with the leaves 
half consumed, show that they were plucked out of the 
burning. Shortly after this event the same lawless band 
committed a similar oflfence at Durris by breaking into the 
manse and carrying off some valuable effects. But in the 
following year Davidson, their chief, was taken and brought 
to trial, executed, and hung in chains at Aberdeen. 

Historif from 1747 to J861, 57 

Chapter VIII. 

HISTORY FROM 1747 TO 1861. 

IT^ROM the middle of the eighteenth century down to the 
first year of Queen Victoria's reign (1837) there are 
no parochial events of much importance on record. Any 
noteworthy incidents which did ocQur are such as can be 
treated, along with relative subjects, in another part of 
this book. But on the occasion of the coronation of Her 
Majesty Queen Victoria on the 28th June, 1838, the 
villagers of Fettercairn, like those of more recent days, 
were not behind in their manifestatiions of loyalty. Under 
the heading of "Fettercairn," a local correspondent of the 
Montrose Standard writes as follows : — 

"Our little village was not behind in the general rejoicing on 
Thursday last. Although we did not follow in the wake of some 
of the neighbouring towns, in founding public buildings, the day 
was employed in pulling down part of our church, to make way for 
a handsome steeple and additional church accommodation, about 
to be erected by the munificence of several of our public-spirited 
proprietors. A flag was displayed from the Forbes Arms Inn, and 
* the artillery of Heaven ' came very seasonably to supply the want 
of our ordnance department. A neat selection of fireworks, 
procured by subscription, was let off" about ten o'clock p.m. from 
the Forbes Arms Inn, to the gratification of several hundreds who 
had by that time assembled in the village, and who afterwards 
retired to Fettercairn House to witness a similar display by the 
Lord of the Manor, Sir John Stuart Forbes, Bart., who supplied 
them with a bumper of real Fettercairn to pledge the health of ' our 
maiden Queen.' After three long and loud huzzas, the whole party 
broke up in perfect harmony and good order. " 

68 Fetter cairn. 

The cost of the steeple referred to was defrayed by 
Sir John Gladstone; and that of the addition to the 
church by him and the other two resident heritors, viz., 
Sir John S. Forbes, and Captain, - afterwards Colonel^ 

In 1847 gaslight was introduced into the village through 
the enterprise of two brothers, Alexander and David Eoss, 
both blacksmiths, the one at the Burn, and the other at 
Stankeye. In 1852 the latter, with his family, emigrated 
to Australia, like many another in that year, and the 
works were offered for sale. Sir John S. Forbes and the 
leading householders of the village formed themselves into- 
a joint-stock company with a capital of £250 in £1 shares. 
They paid £150 for the plant, and carried on the business 
with ordinary success. But after a few years, owing ta 
the cost of necessary repairs, the high price of coal, and 
the consumpt of gas falling off on account of the cheapness 
of paraffin, and improvement of lamps, the concern had to- 
be wound up with a call upon the shareholders, and the 
company dissolved in 1879. 

The Burn and Fettercairn Curling Club, the oldest in 
the Mearns, was formed in 1848. All the resident pro- 
prietors who founded the club are now dead and gone ; but 
they were keen, keen curlers, like as are now their 
successors. The Burn and Fettercairn ponds, as also the 
beautiful expanse of ice at Fasque lake, have on many a. 
happy occasion been the scene of a well-contested bonspiel, 
and the joyous boom of the stones as they sped their way 
over the ice from crampit to tee could, on a quiet frosty 
day, be distinctly heard in the village of Fettercairn^ 
although the lake at Fasque is more than a mile distant. 
Schoolboys — the curlers of the future — were all put on 
edge at the sound, for, so long as they did not cross the 
rink, had they not the privilege of skating and of learning 
from their seniors something of the mysteries of the 

History from 1747 to 1861. 59 

" roaring game " 1 Then, too, on occasion, lady patronesses 
provided curlers' fare, hot and toothsome, from their 
respective mansion-houses, and sometimes a share of the- 
good things came the way of an enterprising boy. 

In the long and frosty winter of 1880-1, Lord Clinton,, 
then at Fettercairn House, was a keen player. His lord- 
ship wrote and composed a song, Horo, Curlers I and 
presented each member with a printed copy. At his own 
cost, he enlarged and improved the curling pond in Fetter- 
cairn House grounds. Of all the original members in 1848^ 
only one survives, Mr David Prain, the unwearied secretary^ 
who, as a leader of the game, has never been excelled^ 
Of humorous incidents on the ice, one may be given : 
" Hollo ! John, you Ve fallen through, up to the middle. 
Water enough ; get out and run home for your whisky ! " 

In 1855, the Fettercairn District Subscription Library 
was instituted; and in the movement Lady Gladstone and 
the late Rev. Charles Aitken, incumbent at Fasque Chapel,, 
took a leading part. It consisted at first of about 600 
well-selected volumes. The old and disused libraries of 
the Parish Church and of the Farmers' Club were added 
to it, and from time to time new works of importance. 
The library is now kept in the Eeading Eoom of the Public 
Hall, and is open to readers once a week. 

On the 28th of July, 1858, Miss Forbes of Fettercairn 
was married to her cousin, the Hon. Charles Trefusis, now 
Lord Clinton. The village was en fMe. The people held 
holiday, and the school children were entertained by Sir 
John S. Forbes. 

The Fettercairn Corps of the 4th Kincardine Rifle 
Volunteers was started in 1859. The movement was a 
popular one, and many parishioners of influence joined the 
local company. An excellent Rifle Range was found at 
Glenburiiie. It was one of the best and safest in the 
country, and provided firing points up to 1000 yards. 

^0 Fettermirn. 

Chapter IX. 

HISTORY FROM 1861 TO 1898. 

THE next event in order is one that will be long re- 
membered. It was the visit incognito of Her Most 
Oracious Majesty, Queen Victoria, and the late lamented 
Prince Consort, on the 20th of September, 1861. Accom- 
panied by the late Princess Alice and her affianced husband, 
the Prince Louis of Hesse, the Lady Churchill, General 
Gray, and others of the suite, they set out on the morning of 
that day from Balmoral, crossed the shoulder and "ladder" 
of Mount Kean to Invermark Lodge to pay a visit to 
the late Fox Maule (Lord Dalhousie). In the afternoon 
thev drove down Gleiiesk to Fettercairn. The rest of the 
journey, which in Her Majesty's Journal is termed " The 
Second Great Expedition," may beet be described in her 
own words, as follows : 

** A little further on, again (at the foot of Glenesk), we came to a 
wood, where we got out and walked along The Bwniy Major 
M*Inroy*8. The path winds along through the wood, just above 
this most curious narrow ^orge, which is unlike any of the other 
lynns ; the rocks are very peculiar, and the burn very narrow, 
with deep jx)ols completely overhung by wood. The woods and 
grounds might be in Walen or even in Haiothornclen. We walked 
through the wood and a little way along the road till the carriages 
overtook us. We had three miles further, to drive to Fettercairn^ 
in all 40 miles from Balmoral, We came upon a flat country, 
evidently much cultivated, but it was too dark to see anything. 
At a quarter-past seven o'clock we reached the small, quiet town, 
or rather village of Fettercairn, for it was very small, not a crea- 
ture stirring, and we got out at the (^uiet little inn, * Ramsay 

Ilisim^/ from 1861 to 1898, 61 

Arms,' quite unobserved, and went at once upstairs. There was a 
very nice drawing-room, and next to it a dining-room, both very 
clean and tidy — then to the left, our bedroom, which was- 
excessively small, but also very clean and neat, and much better 
furnished than at Gran town. Alice had a nice room, the same 
size as ours ; then came a mere morsel of one (with a ** press bed ") 
in which Albert dressed ; and then came Lady Churchill's bed- 
room just beyond. Louis and General Gray had rooms in an hotel 
called the ' Temperance Hotel,' opposite. We dined at eight, a 
very nice, clean, good dinner. Grant and Brown waited. They 
were rather nervous, but (ieneral Gray and Lady Churchill carved,, 
and they had only to change the plates, which Brown soon got in- 
to the way of doing. A little girl of the house came in to help, 
but (irant turned her round to prevent her looking at ua. The 
landlord and landlady knew who we were, but no one the except 
the coachman, and they kept the secret admirably. The evening 
being bright moonlight, and very still, we all went out, and walked 
through the village, where was a sort of pillar or town cross on- 
steps, and Louis read, by the light of the moon, a proclamation for 
collections of charities which was stuck up on it. We walked on 
along a lane, a short way, hearing nothing whatever, not a leaf 
moving, but the distant barking of a dog ! Suddenly, we heard a 
drum and fifes ! We were greatly alarmed, fearing we had been 
recognised ; but Louis and General Gray who went back, saw 
nothing whatever. Still, as we walked slowly back, we heard the 
noise from time to time ; and, when we reached the inn door, we 
stopped, and saw six men march up with fifes and a drum (not a 
creature taking any notice of them) go down the street and back 
again. Grant and Brown were out, but had no idea what it could 
be. Albert asked the little maid, and the answer was, * It 's just 
a band,' and that it walked about in this way twice a week. How 
odd ! It went on playing some time after we got home. W^e sat 
till half-past ten working and Albert reading, and then retired to- 
rest. Saturday, September 2l8t. Got to sleep after two or three 
o'clock. The morning was dull and close and misty, with a little 
rain ; hardly any one stirring, but a few people at their work. A 
traveller had arrived at night, and wanted to come up into the 
dining-room, which is the * commercial travellers' room ' ; and they 
had difficulty in telling him he could not stop there. He joined 
Grant and Brown at their tea ; and on his asking, * W^hat 's the-^ 
matter here?' Grant answered, *It'8 a wedding party from 
Aberdeen.^ At *the Temperance Hotel' they were very anxious- 

^2 Fetfercaim. 

to know whom they htwl got. All, except (Teneml (jrray, break- 
fasted a little before nine. Brown acted as my servant, brushing 
my skirt and boots, and taking any message ; and (Irant as Albert's 
valet. At a quarter to ten we started the same way as before, 
except that we were in the carriage which Lady Churchill and the 
General had yesterday. It was, unfortunately, misty, and we 
could see no distance. The people had just discovered who we 
were, and a few cheered us as we went along. We {mssed close to 
Feftercairiij Sir J. Forbes's house ; then, farther on to the left, 
FcuiquSy belonging to Sir T. (xladstone, who has evidently done a 
great deal for the country, having built many good cottages. We 
then came to a very long hill, at least four miles in length, called 
the CairnieTHOuthy^ whence there is a fine view ; but which was 
entirely obscured by a heavy driving mist. We walked up |>art of 
it, and then for a little while Alice and I sat alone in the carriage." 

In the same natural and interesting manner the remainder 
of the journey, by way of Glendye, Finzean, Glentanner, 
and round by Glenmuick to Balmoral — in all eighty-two 
miles for the two days — is minutely and faithfully 
described ; but the same in detail need not here be quoted. 
It may be proper, however, to narrate one or two little 
incidents of the Royal visit not hitherto recorded. 

Brown and Grant, Her Majesty's faithful servants, were 
sent three months beforehand to arrange with Mr Durward 
of the "Ramsay Arms." From his being an old acquaint- 
ance, they had little hesitation in confiding the plans of 
the proposed visit. Her Majesty states in her narrative 
that none but the landlord, landlady, and the coachman 
knew who they were; but one of the maidservants, a 
Deeside girl, also knew. She had a peep at the party on 
arrival, and hurrying to her mistress, she blurted out 
"That's the Queen, IVe seen her many a time." In the 

1 The accompanying illustration shows on the left the road branching 
off to the Cairn o' Mount, and that on the right to the Glen o' Drum- 
tochty; while in the foreground are seen the Clatterin' Brig and 
** Marity-may " well, the resort of pic-nic parties and happy youngsters, 
who on many a summer day " ran about the brae," or " paidlet i' the 
. burn frae morning sun till dine." 

64 Fettercairn. 

interests of tlie house, she promised secrecy, and kept it. 
Referring to another statement : " At the ' Temperance 
Hotel ' tliey were very anxious to know whom they had 
got." Mr M 'Donald, the landlord, remarked, the same 
evening, to Mr Durward, that his visitors must be of the 
royal family, from the coats of arms on their belongings. 
In admiration of Her Majesty's queenly condescension, the 
villagers relate that on coming down stairs for their 
evening walk, the Queen and Lady Churchill noticed a pile 
of oaten " bannocks " as part of the harvesters' supper laid 
out upon a table off the kitchen, that they asked and took 
with them a piece of the same to taste and test its quality. 

And to show that Her Majesty knew all about the place, 
it is said that when listening to the flute band she 
jocularly suggested they should be asked to play the "Bob 
o' Fettercairn." The Prince Consort and General Gray 
had a morning walk, and spent some time looking at the 
headstones in the churchyard. A few minutes before 
starting, the royal tourists wished the people to know who 
they were ; and it may be left to the readers of this 
account to fancy how some thought they were hoaxed, and 
others more credulous hurried in their excitement to catch 
a passing glance of their gracious Queen. To commemorate 
this event, more auspicious to Fettercairn than any former 
one, a handsome triumphal arch was erected by subscrip- 
tion. It will be described in another chapter. 

On the 10th of March, 186.5, the rejoicings to celebrate 
the Prince of Wales' marriage took the form of a school 
children's procession and treat, and for adults an evening 

In 1871, telegraphic communication was extended to 
Fettercairn and Edzell. At midnight, on 23rd October, 
1872, the villagers were aroused by the church bell, the 
occasion being a lire at Fasque House, which, by prompt 
action, was happily kept from extending to the main 

Hutory from 1861 to 1898, 65 

building. A few months thereafter, in 1873, a grand 
entertainment was given at Fasque by Sir Thomas and 
Lady Gladstone to the people of the paiish and district. 
Their tenantry of Strachan were also invited. The 
occasion was the celebration of the coming of age of 
Captain John Robert, now Sir John R. Gladstone, Bart. 

In January, 1884, rejoicings on an extensive scale took 
place for the Hon. Charles Forbes Trefusis having attained 
his majority. The village was illuminated by rows of 
Chinese lamps, and an elevated jet of electric light. A 
huge bonfire blazed on the "Cross-shouther." A dinner 
was given in the Ramsay Arms, and was followed by a 
brilliant assembly in the Public School, which was nicely 
decorated for the occasion. 

To celebrate the Jubilee of Her Maj.esty the Queen the 
people of Fettercairn, not unmindful of a former favour, 
acted their part with true loyalty. 

On the 28th and 29th of August, 1888, a grand Bazaar 
was held in the Public School, to raise funds for the 
erecting of a Public Hall, which, along with other public 
buildings, will be hereafter described. 

In October, 1889, the distillery at Nethermill was burnt 
down. This disaster caused the removal from the village 
of a good many workmen and their families, and eventually 
of the late Mr Durie, distiller, and his family. 

Not to be behind other places, a Golf Club, with the Rev. 
Mr Belcher as captain, and Mr Robert Murray as secretary, 
was inaugurated in 1892, after the laying out of an excellent 
nine-hole course on the hillside of Balnakettle, and kindly 
granted free of charge by the tenant, Mr William Middleton. 

The Queen's Diamond Jubilee in 1897 was appropriately 
celebrated. Sir John R Gladstone, as Chairman of the 
School Board, treated very liberally the children of the 
parish ; and the people, with one mind, joined heartily in 
celebrating this joyful event. 

part Zbitt>. 


Chapter X. 



PRIOR to the fifteenth century it is difficult, except in a 
general way, to trace the ownership of lands in and 
around the parish. The district, so far as may be inferred 
from old records and royal charters, comprised a greater 
extent of territory than that of the parish. In the tenth 
century Fettercairn was a thanedom, ruled by Maormors 
or Earls residing at Greencairn. At a later period other 
thanedoms appear as surrounding ones, viz., Newdosk, 
Kincardine, and Aberluthnot or Marykirk. But from 
subsequent disposals and settlements of lands, Fettercairn 
seems to have been the central and leading thanedom. The 
older records of Scotland, down to the accession of Robert 
the Bruce, were lost during the disputes for the crown in 
1291-2. The most of these were, by order of Edward I., 
carried oflF to Berwick. Of the few that were left, one is a 
charter of lands in the Mearns by William the Lion in the 
twelfth century to Gulielmus Auceps, i.e., William the 

Landowners pi'ior to the Seventeenth Century. 67 

Hawker, ancestor of the Falconers. Another charter of 
Luthra, or lands of the Howe, along the north side of the 
Luther, including Balhegno, was granted by William the 
Lion, at the Castle of Kincardine, to Eanulph, the king's 
falconer, son of Walter of Lumgair. According to several 
authorities, the first of the Carnegics was constable to 
"William the Lion's house at Fettercairn," and for that 
service he got the lands of Phesdo and Pitnamoon. Other 
charters in the same reign conveyed lands, chiefly in the 
parishes of Laurencekirk and Fordoun, to the De Berkeleys 
(Barclays) and to the Abbey of Arbroath, founded by 
William the Lion. It is interesting to note that the first 
royal charter, to the town of Stirling, by Alexander H. on 
the 18th August, 1226, was granted and dated at 
Kincardine. In the reign of Alexander III. (1249-86), 
Reginald de Chen, Sheriff of Kincardine, rendered accounts 
of rents and taxes due to the king by thanes, whose names 
are not recorded, from the lands of Fettercairn. It is 
one of only two or three places noticed in vol. i. of the 
Exchequer Rolls of Scotland where a certain tax was paid 
by the thanes, in addition to their rents, under the name 
of "waytinga" — a duty which had come in place of the 
burden of entertaining the king for a night in his 
progresses. It was the practice of Alexander III. to move 
with his court from one castle to another and look after 
the administration of justice, consuming the agricultural 
produce of the adjoining demesnes and occupying his 
leisure with hawking and other field sports. At a later 
period this duty or tax was known as "Cuidoiche," a 
Celtic term, otherwise called "Conveth," a feast or a 
night's entertainment. This vague and burdensome 
exaction was afterwards converted into a definite food 
contribution from each ploughgate of land ; but like amey 
it ceased to be exigible when the vassal or occupant 
obtained feudal investiture. From 1262 to 1290, the 

68 Fetter cairn, 

entries in the Rolls are in the following terms, viz. : — " Ex 
compoto Reginald de Chen, vice comitis de Kincardyn 
factum, . . . waitinga unius noctis de Fetherkern, &c." 
Or, Entered per account of Reginald de Chen, Sheriff of 
Kincardine, . . . his lodging of one night at Fettercairn, 
ifec. The items in detail are : — " Redditus vaccarum, 
porcorum, casei, brasei, farine ordei, gallinarum, prebende, 
&c." Or, Revenues, proceeds of cows, swine, cheese, malt, 
barley-meal, poultry, horse provender, <fec. Fettercairn 
also contributed for the "waytinga" an annual charge of 
eleven merks. The account also includes the expense 
(seven merks) of fencing a new park at Kincardine. The 
price of a cow was 5s., a sheep Is., a pig l|^d., a hen Id., 
a chalder of barley 10s., of oats 15s., and of wheat £1, 
all in Scots money, which at that period was comparatively 
high in value. In the year 1359 William Keith, Sheriff 
of Kincardine, accounted for the thanage rents of " Fethir- 
kern, Kincardyn and Aberluchmoir or Aberluthnot, the 
park of Kincardyn and pertinents thereof in the hands of 
William Earl of Sutherland, who married Margaret, the 
sister of David II. 

The annual thanage rent of Fettercairn was valued at 
X26 3s. Scots ; and at a later period the total rents of the 
above three thanages were put down at £71 Os. 8d. Scots 
and six rynmarts or cows. These three thanages, granted 
for life to the Earl of Sutherland, were, at his death in 
1370, given on military tenure to Sir Walter Lesley and his 
wife Euphemia, daughter of William Earl of Ross. She 
succeeded her father as Countess of Ross. She survived 
her husband and in 1382 married Alexander Stewart, 
Earl of Buchan, the notorious " Wolf of Badenoch," son of 
Robert II., and by this union he became for a time, along 
with his wife, conjoint holder of the lands, and a thane of 
Fettercairn. He had grants, in his own name, of lands in 
the North-Eastern Counties and in Perthshire, where stands 

Landowners pior to the Seventeenth Century. 69 

to this day his great stronghold, the Castle of Garth. 
He deserted his wife, her Fettercairn and other possessions, 
for which the Bishop of Moray reproved him, and with a 
band of " wyld and wykked Helandmen," as Wynton calls 
them, he sacrilegiously burned and destroyed the Elgin 
Cathedral, the Chanonry, and the houses of the clergy. 

The Countess of Ross was succeeded by her son Alex- 
ander, who died in 1406, leaving his titles and possessions, 
including the Fettercairn thanedoms, to Euphemia, his only 
child and daughter by his wife Isabella, daughter of the 
Regent Duke of Albany. This lady, known as the Nun- 
Countess, before entering a convent proposed to resign in 
favour of her maternal uncle, John Earl of Buchan, instead 
of her paternal aunt, Margaret, wife of Donald, Lord of the 
Isles. The island chief asserted his claim, and to enforce 
the same invaded the mainland and, with 10,000 men, 
encountered the Earl of Mar with the men of Aberdeen, 
Angus and Mearns, at Harlaw in 1411. His defeat in that 
bloody battle checked his conquering marches, and 
prevented his becoming not only lord of Kincardine and 
Fettercairn, but king of all Scotland. The lands of 
Fettercairn and Kincardine reverted to the Crown ; but 
James I., about 1436, granted them to John, a son of 
Alexander, Lord of the Isles, whom the king created Earl 
of Ross, with the additional title of Lord Kincardine. 
Whether this Earl of Ross continued during his lifetime in 
possession of the lands in whole or in part is doubtful, but 
an entry dated 1450 bears that a ward of lands in the 
barony of Kincardine was held by Walter Ogilvy of 
Beaufort for John, the young Earl of Ross, till his majority. 
In 1460 the rents of the three thanages reverted to the 
Crown, and John de Strathachin of Thornton, as receiver of 
rents, rendered an account of the "fermes of Fethyrkerne, 
Ballinbegynoch, Balerchnoch (Barna), Balnakedyll, Foderay 
(Fas({ue), Bordelands, Fasdaivoch (Phesdo), and Wyse- 

70 Fetter cairn, 

manystoun." Rynmarts or cows formed a part of the rents. 
In 1463 he fell into arrears, but after three years recovered 
himself, and, in conjunction with David Guthrie, acted as 
receiver. From 1475 to 1484 Alexander Guthrie of that 
ilk, Sheriff of Forfar, collected the thanage rents of 
Fettercairn alias Kincardyn, which in 1480 amounted to 
£b\ 14s. 2d. and 3 marts. Henceforth the designation of 
the conjoined thanages is that of Fettercairn, like as in 
later times the lands of Kincardine have formed a part of 
the Fettercairn estate. In 1475 the lands of "Wodfield, 
Fresky, and Pitnamone, with the mills of Kincardyn and 
Fethirkerne, and also the lands of Essly, Balmane, and the 
two Strethis in the thanage of Fettercarne, with the annual 
rents of Kincardyn, "were confirmed by Charter of James III. 
to George, Lord Leslie of Rothes ; which lands he and his 
predecessors held of the Earl of Eoss, previous to the 
forfeiture of John Earl of Ross. These possessions then 
became the Barony of Balmain. 

The Kirklands of Fettercairn were held from 1438 
onwards by a Thomas Ogston, Baillie of Lanark, a 
descendant of the Ogstons who took their name from 
Ogston in Morayshire. By his wife, a daughter of Irvine 
of Drum, he had two daughters : Jane, to whom he left his 
property of Tilwhilly in Banchory Ternan, and Elizabeth, 
who with her husband, Adam Hepburn of Craigs, was 
infefted in " the town and lands of Kirkton of Fettercairn," 
which, as stated in a previous chapter, was, by favour of 
James IV., in 1504 erected into a free burgh, with the 
usual privileges. They were succeeded by a cousin, John 
Ogston, who married a daughter of Barclay of Mathers, 
descended of David Barclay, the chief actor in the horrible 
deed on the hill of Garvock, about 1420, of throwing 
Melville of Glenbervie, the sheriff of the Mearns, into a 
boiling kettle, and acting out the king's hasty sentence that 
he be " sodden and suppit in bree." 



Landowners piim- to the Seventeenth Century, 71 

John Ogston's successor was Alexander, who married 
Margaret, daughter of Alexander Strathauchin of Thornton 
and widow of John Eamsay, the first laird of Balmain. 
Alexander Ogston was succeeded by his son Walter, who 
in 1608 sold his property to his relative, David Ramsay 
of Balmain, for 9350 merks Scots, and died in 1615. 
Alexander Ogston was a Commissioner to the first General 
Assembly in 1560 "for the Kirks of the Mernes." He also 
attended the Assembly in 1567, and likewise that of 1592, 
which was held in Aberdeen. " Walter Ogstone, at Fetter- 
carne, subscribed the Band anent the Religion." 

Resuming the narration of lands brought down to 1480, 
it may be stated that in the same year Alexander Guthrie, 
Sheriff of Forfar, accounted for £6, as grassum of Baller- 
nach (Barna), payable by William Levingstone of Drumry 
(Drumhendry) and others. He and his heirs were owners 
of Drumhendry. At that time the Bishop of Brechin 
received tithes of lands in the Mearns. A record in the 
Episcopal Register shows that tithes had been exacted from 
the lands of "Petnamone, Molendinum (Mill) de Kyncardyn, 
Fesky, Molendinum de Feddircarn, Balmane, Litil Strath, 
Mekil Stratht, et Esly," in the lordship of Balmane. 
Owing to a dispute that had arisen, a reference was made 
to the Regent, the Duke of Albany, and to the Pope, in 
1463, regarding the right of the Bishop to the second 
tithes of Fettercairn ; and these dignitaries settled the 
same in his favour. 

At Edinburgh, on the 25th July, 1481, a return of the 
rents of Fettercairn was made as follows : 

^'Balbegnoch, assigned to William and James Strathachin for 5 

years, 12 lbs. with services, and 36 poultry." 
*' Fotlira, to David Clerc, land of, 40s. and J a poultry." 
"* Thanstone, to David Strathaquhin, son and heir of James Strath- 

aquhin of Thornton, 10 lbs. 1 mart, and 30 poultry." 
■**Fothra, let to Alexr. Wilson, Golfride Strathaquchin, Alexr, 

Robertson, 4 lbs. § mart, and 12 poultry." 

72 Fettercavfi. 

''Balnokedill, to Andro and William Thomson, John Findlason^ 

David Mill, 6 lbs. grassum and 8 poaltry. " 
" Mill of Luthre, to William and Walter Bane, John Lyell, William 

and John Fullartoun, 5 lbs., grassum 8 lbs." 
'*Balerno, in hands of David Strathachin and William Jamieson,. 

half and half £6 14s. 4d., and 18 poultry.*' 
** Balmakewan, in hands of George Barclay, 10 lbs." 
**The whole lands of Balnakedill, Fothray, and -Mill of Luthre, let 

by King's letters to John Strathachin of Thornton and David 

his son, as the tenants repudiated the terms of lease. " 

In 1487-8 the king granted to David Strathachin certain 
lands in Fordoun and Mary kirk, with two parks, and the 
old Castle of Kincardine. In 1494 a sasin of Nether Craig- 
niston (Coldstream) was granted to a John TuUoch, and the 
same again in 1501. In this year William, Earl Marischal,. 
was sheriff of Kincardine, and he intromitted with the 
lands of Fettercairn. For nearly two hundred years from 
1488, Andrew Wood of Balbegno and his successors were 
Thanes of Fettercairn, and from 1510, when John Ramsay 
had a grant of Fasque and Balmain, the proprietary 
domains of Fettercairn and Kincardine were curtailed in 
extent much the same as is now the estate of Fettercairn. 
Yet the thanage extended beyond these lands; for in 1520 
the sheriff of the county, Robert Rate, accounted for 
"Two toothpicks as the duplication of blench ferme of 
Glensauch in the thanage of Fettercairn." And in 1562 
Queen Mary confirmed to Alexander Lindsay and Elizabeth 
Falconer his spouse the lands of Broadland and Phaisdo, 
in the thanage of Fettercairn. In 1593 the lands of 
Fettercairn again reverted to the crown ; but in 1601 the 
king granted to Alexander Strathauchin, with other lands,, 
those of Thornton, the Castle, Castlested, parks and crofts^ 
of Kincardine, with Huntersait, Crichieburn, Arnbarrow,. 
the muirs and mosses from the Cairn b* Mount and the 
Ferdour water down to the lands of Over Craigneston. 
In 1606 David TuUoch was served heir to an uncle^ 

Landowners piior to the Seventeenth Century. 73^ 

Alexander TuUoch in the barony of Craigneston, the- 
Mains, Mealmill and Netherseat of the same, Inchgray, &c. 
Later in that year, Alexander Strathauchin de Thornton 
was served heir to his grandfather, Alexander Strachan, in 
lands, muirs, mosses and pastures in Marykirk and For- 
doun, including Crichieburn ; in lands 

"Near the town of Kincardine, the croft called Hillcroft, and 
Aikerriggs thereof, the Wealcroft, Chancellor's croft, Dencroft,. 
2 Calsey crofts, Lonie croft. Bakehouse croft, and Lorimer croft,. 
Burne croft, Halscroft, h of Boig's croft, and Coryismani's-,. 
Beattie's croft, Annabadie's croft, 4 crofts of Craigisland of which 
2 are called Hall croft and Hen croft, and 2 Hill Croft and Archer 
croft, the croft called James Pittercheidi's land, Countess croft, 
Countaishaugh croft ; Loichetraist, Blaikindennis, Dewresunis,. 
Wealcroft, ^ of Umbrahi (?) croft called Bowmanis ; all in town 
and constabulary of Kincardine, with lands, crofts and tenement* 
of (jallowhilston, Palframanston, Langhauche, Suitter croft. Tem- 
ple croft, Skinner croft, Gois croft, Twa Chaippil crofts, Lonie 
croft, Aiker and Newlands with multures in said town. Ancient 
Extent, 20s. ; New Extent, 33s. Also 2 crofts in villa de Fetter- 
cairne. A. E., 3s. 4d. ; N. E., 6s. 8." 

This long list of crofts and holdings, the curtilages of 
the castle, shows that in the service of the court a large 
number of people were employed. No trace remains of 
the town and its crofts, save the tree-grit and disused 
graveyard of St. Catherine, with the old road winding 
between the fertile and well-tilled fields of Castleton farm. 
Ten years later, in 1616, Alexander Strathauchin had an 
additional grant of Crichieburn and lands, resigned by 
Captain Alexander Wishart of Phaisdo, the commonty 
between the Cairn o' Month, Ferdour water, and the hill 
above Braelands of Balbegno, west from Feskie, called 
West Feskie, the lands of DilbrekC?) and Cardounwell, as. 
pendicles of Broadland, with fresh water fishings on the 
Northesk, Luther and Ferdour ; with power to hold free 
fairs annually, one on the Muir of Hunteisait and Arne- 

74 Fettercmrn, 

-barrow, or the Muir of Ord, and on that piece of muir 
between Arnebarrow and the water of Ferdour called 
Todlowis, on 28th Jidy and eight days after ; the other on 
the Muir of Kincardine, on the 26th August and eight 
•days after. John Earl of Rothes, in 1636, had a grant of 
Pitnamoone with the mills of Kincardine and Fettercairn, 
formerly held by his great-grandfather George Earl of 
Rothes, and in the following year William, Earl Marischal, 
was appointed constable of Kincardine, its crofts and 
Oallowhilston, with the advowson of the chapel of St. 

James Straquhane, who in 1635 is so designated as of 
Fettercairn when acquiring possession of the lands of 
Craigniston, was probably a son of the above-named 
Alexander Stathauchin. The site of his house in Fetter- 
cairn, burnt in 1645 by the soldiers of Montrose, cannot 
now be determined, although a spot west of the mansion- 
house garden looks, from its hard and uneven surface, like 
the site of some old buildings. If after the burning James 
Straquhane betook himself to the Castle of Kincardine, it 
could only be for a few months, as it too was burnt 
down and finally reduced to ruins by his kinsman John 
Middleton, afterwards Earl Middleton, on the 16th March, 
1646. , This event ended the connection of the Strachans 
with Fettercairn and Kincardine. Middleton's mother was 
Catherine Strachan, and the cause might be a big family 
quarrel ; but the presumption is that the Strachans were 
Royalists, and that he, at the head of the Covenanting 
forces, sought to make himself master of the situation, and 
owner of the lands, like as he had just done at Montrose's 
castle and lands of Aid Montrose. Two years later, after 
his turning round and gaining the favour of Charles I., the 
lands and barony of Fettercairn were confirmed to him by 
a Royal Charter, dated 29th July, 1648, being that he 
^Mohn Middleton, sup-emus dux exercitus locum tenens 

Lamlovmers jniar to tlie Sevmteenih Century. 75 

generalis (Lieutenant-General of the army), and Grizel 
Durham his wife, and the longest liver of them in conjunct 
fee, and the heirs legitimately procreated between them, 
are granted the Barony of Fettercairn in the County of 
Kincardine, formerly belonging to James Strachne." This 
grant, no doubt, included the town and lands of Kincardine. 
They were Middleton's property in 1670, according to the 
date on the Market Cross of Fettercairn, as the part of it 
bearing this date was erected by him at the old town of 
Kincardine. Besides, in the interval from 1648 to 1670, 
no other owner appears, and these lands have ever since 
formed part of Fettercairn estate. 

76 Fettermirn. 

Chapter XL 


A SUMMARY of the descent and eventful career of 
John, First Earl Middleton, as well as a short notice 
of his heirs and successors may be given. The name of 
Middleton was adopted from the lands of Midtown or 
Middleton in the Parish of Laurencekirk. It appears in 
the Mearns as early as the reign of William the Lion (1165- 
1214). Humfridus de Middleton was witness to a charter 
in the reign of Alexander IL (1214-1249), and Humphry 
of Middleton witnessed a grant to the Abbey of Arbroath 
in 1272, and swore fealty to Edward L of England in 
1296. About 1317 a Gilbert Middleton appeared as a 
bold outlaw, heading a band that attacked and robbed the 
dignitaries of the church. In 1430 William of Middleton, 
and in 1460 Gilbert, intromitted with the lands of Arbroath 
Abbey. From 1481 Laurence of Middleton became 
Sheriff of Forfar, and in 1516 Gilbert his son succeeded in 
the same office. His wife was Marjory Wishart of 
Pittarrow. After them came John Middleton and his wife 
Isobel Falconer of the Halkerton family about 1560. His 
second wife was Catherine Strachan of Thornton. Their 
grandson, John Middleton, in 1606, exchanged the lands 
of Kilnhill and Bent for those of Muirton, Caldhame, and 
Rosehill. He took the designation of Middleton of Cald- 
hame, and in 1612 was succeeded by his brother Robert, 
who, sitting in his chair, was killed by the soldiers of 

John Earl MidiUelon aiid his Successors. 11 

Montrose in 1645. His wife was Catherine Strachan. 
They had four sons: John, who became Earl Middleton; 
Alexander, the minister of Rayne, and Principal of King's 
OoUege ; Francis, and Andrew who, in 1687, became 
proprietor of Balbegno. According to one authority they 
had other three sons : George, Physician to James II. in 
France ; James, a clergyman in Montrose ; and William, 
a Lieutenant-Colonel. John was born in 1619, and at 
an early age entered the army as a pikeman in Hepburn's 
regiment ordered to France, but whose Scotch officers were 
recalled by the Supreme Council of the Covenanters in 
Edinburgh to resist Charles I. Then in 1639, Middleton, 
only twenty years of age, became a captain in the army of 
Montrose, which "for religion, the covenant, and the 
•countrie, entered Aberdeen in order of battel, horsemen, 
pikemen, musketiers, with muskets, bandeliers, swords, 
powder, ball, and match ; all officers in buflf coats, in goodly 
order, and blue ribbons hanging about their craigs (necks)." 
Viscount Aboyne blockaded the Bridge of Dee to prevent 
their crossing, but by a manoeuvre on the part of Montrose, 
causing Aboyne to withdraw, the passage was effected, and 
the Covenanting army entered the town. The most not- 
able of the covenanters that fell was a brother of Sir 
Oilbert Eamsay of Balmain and of Mr Andrew Eamsay, 
minister of St, Giles ; and on the Royalist side. Sir John 
Seton of Pitmedden — the latter by the warrior, 

* ' Whose name was Major Middleton 
That manned the bridge of Dee, 
And with him Colonel Henderson 
That dung Pittmedden in three." 

When Montrose turned Eoyalist, Middleton's services 
were not required, and he was left to pursue his own 
course. His father infefted him in the lands of Caldhame. 
He married Grizel Durham, daughter of James Durham 
of Pitkerrow. She had been twice married; first to 

78 Fetiercairu. 

Alexander Fotheringham of Ballindrone, and next, in 1630, 
to Sir Gilbert Eamsay of Balmain. This second marriage 
was dissolved, for Sir Gilbert had a second wife, a daughter 
of Aiichinleck of Ballandro. Middleton's family consisted 
of a son, Charles, and two daughters, Grizel who married 
William the tenth Earl of Morton, and Helen, who be- 
came the wife of Patrick Lyon, the first Earl of Strath- 
more. The portraits of this couple are to be seen in 
Glamis Castle. On the front door lintel of the oldest part 
of Fettercairn House are the initials of John Middleton 
and Grizel Durham, ^ with 1666 the date of its erection. 
The countess died in September of the same year, and 
according to a tradition current forty years ago, she was 
afflicted with blindness ; and for the schoolmaster's reading 
the Bible to her on her deathbed, she bequeathed to him 
and his successors half an acre of land and a garden, be- 
low the village, equal in extent to an old measure called a 
"hollo' bear." 

In 1642 Middleton entered the service of the English 
Parliament and attained to the rank of Colonel, and after 
the battle of Edgehill to that of Major-General. After 
other battles, he, at the head of 3000 dragoons, contributed 
to the defeat of the king at Newbury. Jealousies and 
disputes rent asunder the Parliamentarians, consisting of 
Presbyterians and Independents. Middleton was one of the 
officers who, under the " self-denying ordinance," resigned 
in 1644. He then joined the army of his countrymen, and 
was second in command to Sir David Leslie. They de- 
feated Montrose at Philiphaugh in September, 1645. 
Montrose escaped to the north and joined the Earl of 
Huntly. Leslie was rewarded by the Convention of 
Estates at Glasgow with 5000 merks and a gold chain, 

^ A recent writer doubts whether the Countess of Middleton was the 
Grizel Durham whose marriage contract with Fotheringham took place 
in 1008, and whether Sir Gilbert Ramsay had a wife of that name. 

John Earl Middleton and 1m Successors. 7^ 

and sent for service to England. Middleton's reward was- 
2500 merles and the command of the forces in Scotland.. 
On his march to Aberdeen with 800 foot and 600 horse 
soldiers, he took and burnt Braedalbane's Castle of Finlarig 
on Loch Tay and, as already noticed, the castles of Old 
Montrose and Kincardine. He subjected Aberdeenshire- 
and the north to the ravages of fire and sword ; taking the- 
castles of Drum, Fyvie, the Earl of Seaforth's and others. 
The Royalists were defeated, and Middleton was com- 
missioned by the Estates to confer with Montrose. They 
met, and Montrose agreed that with his generals Crawford,. 
Hurry, and Graham, he should betake himself beyond seas.- 
Other leaders of the Cavaliers, except Alexander M*DoneU 
(Collciotach), were likewise pardoned. Middleton found 
time, in August, 1646, to attend the baptism of a nephew, 
John, the second son of Alexander, principal of King's- 
College and University, Aberdeen. The older son, George, 
succeeded his father as principal, and their portraits are tO' 
be seen in the College. Middleton was appointed Com- 
missioner on the forfeited estates of the Cavaliers, but the 
Earl of Huntly would not submit, whereupon he was 
captured and taken to Edinburgh, imprisoned and executed^ 
By permission of the Committee of Estates, a middle party, 
called the Duke of Hamilton's Engagers, raised an army to- 
defend Charles I., but to keep up the Covenant. Middle- 
ton joined them, and became Lieutenant-General of the 
Horse. The Covenanters, led by Argyle, distrusted them. 
They marched into his territory in June, 1648, and carried 
all before them. Middleton at their head entered England' 
to aid the Eoyalists, but was defeated at Preston, takea< 
captive, conveyed to Newcastle and cast into prison. He 
escaped, however, and joined Lord Ogilvy in an ineffective 
attempt to produce a Royalist rising in Atholl. From 
that he retired, and on the arrival of Charles H., in 1650, 
joined that monarch. He was banned by the Kirk for 

:80 Fetierciiirn. 

-*' Malignancy," and James Guthrie at Stirling pronounced 
upon him the sentence of excommunication, which after a 
year was removed by his doing penance in sackcloth in the 
•Church of Dundee. He was Major-General of the Horse 
in the army of Charles, at the battle of Worcester, on the 
3rd of September, 1651. There he was wounded, taken 
prisoner, and sent to the Tower of London. Cromwell 
destined him for execution, but he again escaped, hid him- 
self for a fortnight in London, and joined his royal master 
in France. In 1653 he raised a small force in Holland, 
returned to Scotland, and fought at several places with 
'General Monk, and in July, 1654, was defeated at Loch- 
garry, with the loss of his "white charger, gold, papers, 
and all his baggage." He fled "over the bogs and over 
the hills," crossed the sea, and joined the King in Holland, 
who in 1656 created him an earl. At the Restoration, 
in 1660, he returned with Charles, and, by letters patent, 
was confirmed "Comes de Middleton, de Claermont et 
Fettercairn, &c. " ; or, Earl of Middleton, Lord of 
Claermont 1 and Fettercairn; and it was provided that 
these titles should, in all future time, extend to his heirs 
bearing the surname and arms of Middleton. The Earl 
was also Commander of the Forces in Scotland, Governor of 
Edinburgh Castle, and one of the Lords of the Privy 
Council. In 1661 he was appointed Lord High Commissi- 
oner to the Scottish Parliament. As the first man in the 
kingdom, his rule was so tyrannical and his conduct so 
disgraceful that he hastened his own downfall. In the 
words of Bishop Burnett, " It was a mad, roaring time, for 
the men of affairs were almost perpetually drunk, and he, 
in the terrible Parliament at Edinburgh, and the * drunken 
one ' thereafter at Glasgow, enacted laws and passed orders 

1 An outlying patch of pasture land, part of Fettercairn estate, on the 
hillside, east of Ambarrow, with some old trees, and the appearance of 
former occupancy, has borne the name of Claermont. 

John Earl Middletoii and his Svccessoi'.s. 81 

unconstitutional and oppressive." The hurried trial and 
execution of the Marquis of Argyle, the act in 1662 which 
deprived some 400 ministers of their henefices, and the 
fines exacted from nonconforming landlords, were laid to his 
charge. One of these, James Wood of Balhegno, was fined 
£2000 (Scots). The people were disgusted and rejoiced at 
his subsequent humiliation. Having thus abused his power 
and made the Cabal Ministry, with their leader the Earl 
of Lauderdale, his enemies, he lost favour with the king, 
was deprived of his appointments and sent to be governor 
of Tangier, in Africa, where in decent exile he died, from the 
effects of a fall down a stair, in 1673. Charles his son, 
who had represented Winchelsea in Parliament, succeeded 
him in the estates and titles. He was deputed as Envoy 
extraordinary to the Court of Vienna, and afterwards he 
held several high offices at home, being one of the principal 
secretaries of state for Scotland, also extraordinary Lord 
of the Court of Session, and a secretary of state for 
England. He followed James H. to France and had the 
entire management of the exiled court at St. Germains. 
His Scotch estates and titles were forfeited in 1695. With 
John Drummond, Earl of Melfort, he projected an invasion 
of England and the assassination of William IIL He died 
in 1719. His wife was Lady Catherine, daughter of 
Robert Earl of Cardigan. They had two sons, John and 
Charles ; three daughters : Elizabeth, who married Edward, 
son of the Earl of Perth ; Mary, who became the wife of 
Sir John GifFord ; and Catherine, who married the Comte 
de Rothes, officer in the French army. The two sons were 
taken at sea by Admiral Byng, in the descent which the 
French intended to make on Scotland in 1708, and were 
conveyed to the Tower. After three years* imprisonment 
Queen Anne ordered their release. They returned to 
France and were no more heard of. 

The Middleton estate was burdened with debt, even 

82 Fetter caivH.t - 

before the death of the first eaii. His son-in-law, the Earl 
of Strathmore, undertook its management, and disposed of 
the same to Earl John's grand-nephew, John Middleton of 
Seaton, Aberdeen, a brigadier in the army of King 
George I. His father was George, minister of Glamis, 
who succeeded his father as principal of King's College. 
His mother was Janet, daughter of James Gordon of 
Seaton, and through her that property was acquired by 
the family. She attained the age of one hundred years. 
Brigadier Middleton ^ changed the name of the estate to 
that of Fettercairn, but a hamlet on the property still 
retains the name of Middleton. He was succeeded by his 
son George of Seaton, advocate, who died without issue in 
1772. His wife, Lady Diana Grey, daughter of Henry, 
the third Earl of Stamford, survived him. In 1777 her 
trustees sold the estate for £15,500 to Mrs Emilia Belsches, 
widow of William Belsches of Tofts, in the county of Perth. 

^A son of Robert, the brother of Brigadier Middleton, was Charles, 
Lord Barham, first Lord of the Admiralty when Nelson won Trafalgar, 
and ancestor, through his daughter Diana, of the Earls of Gainsborough. 
Another son, Geoi^e, was a Captain in the Scots' Brigade, and father of 
Robert Gambier Middleton, Rear-Admiral, whose son is Colonel 
William Gambier, retired; and his grandsons, by his sons Alexander 
and George respectively, are Richard W. It. Middleton, and Robert 
Middleton, barrister, both in London. 

Families of Belsches, Stmirt and Forbes. 83 

Chapter XII. 


IT is interesting to note that, two hundred years before 
Emilia Belsches bought the estate of Fettercairn, an 
ancestor of hers resided and brought up a family in the 
village. His name was John Clerk, whom Sir John Clerk, 
the first baronet of Penicuik, in the Memoirs of his Journals 
(1676-1755), recently published, calls his grandfather's 
grandfather. Sir John relates that his ancestors were 
merchant burgesses in Montrose, that one of them, a John 
Clerk, was one of the hostages of King David's ransom in 
1357, that the Clerks were for many years chief magistrates 
of Montrose. And coming down to the middle of the 
sixteenth century, John Clerk had a feu of lands in 
Badenoch from the Duke of Gordon ; and taking part with 
Queen Mary against his superior, he had on that account 
to flee the country. " He took shelter in a little town 
called Fettercairn. Here he lived with his family many 
years; how he traded I never could learn; but he lived 
creditably, and was sufficiently able to breed up his son 
William a merchant, and to provide him with a good stock." 
This William Clerk had a son John, who, according to a 
Kirk-Session Record now lost, was baptized on 22nd 
December, 1611, by Alexander Forbes, minister of Fetter- 
cairn and Bishop of Caithness. This son was bred a 
merchant, went to France in 1634, and having settled in 
Paris, made a fortune. Returning to Scotland in 1646 
with £10,000 he bought Penicuik, and married Mary, 
daughter of Sir William Gray, ancestor of Lord Gray. 

84 Fettercairn. 

His eldest son was Sir John Clerk, created a baronet by 
King Charles II. in 1679. On the maternal side, Sir John 
was a great-grandson of Drummond of Hawthornden, the 
poet. He was twice married, and had large families. 
Margaret Clerk, the third daughter of the second family^ 
became the wife of Alexander Belsches of Invermay, by 
whom she had seven sons and one daughter. Their eldest 
son, John Belsches, married Mary, daughter of Daniel 
Stewart (a man of wealth) and his wife Margaret Wishart 
of the family of Pittarrow. Their daughter Emilia Belsches 
married her cousin William Belsches of Tofts near Crieff. 
He died in 1753, leaving his widow with an infant son 
whom she brought up and educated for the Edinburgh Bar. 
In 1775 at the age of twenty -two, he married Lady Jane 
Leslie, eldest daughter of David, Earl of Leven and Melville. 
The issue of this marriage was an only child, a daughter 
Williamina, born in October, 1776. An ancestor of Emilia 
Belsches had served in the army under William III., and 
in 1706 received a baronetcy; which title was inherited 
by John Belsches. His mother, on the death of her uncle^ 
Sir William Stuart of Castlemilk, in 1777, acquired the 
property of her grandfather Daniel Stuart. Being thu& 
possessed of ample means, she bought the estate of Fetter- 
cairn. In 1797 she executed a settlement for her son to 
assume the name of his great-grandfather Daniel Stuart,, 
and the royal license ran as follows ; — " His Majesty has- 
been pleased to allow Mrs Emilia Belsches, and her son and 
heir Sir John Wishart Belsches of Fettercairn, Baronet, to 
use the name of Stuart." In 1801 Sir John was elected 
M.P. for Kincardineshire, and continued to serve till 1807, 
when he was made a Baron of Exchequer with a salary of 
£2000 a year. He fulfilled the duties of this office till hi& 
death in 1821. He was name-father of the late John 
Stuart Mill, politician and economist, whose father was 
James Mill, author of the History of India — a work pro- 

Families of Belsches, Stuart and Forbes, 85 

nounced by Macau lay to be the greatest that had appeared 
«ince that of Gibbon. He was the son of a shoemaker and 
crofter at the North Water Bridge, Logie Pert ; and in his 
student days he acted as tutor to Miss Stuart, and in 
grateful acknowledgment of the assistance and kindness 
of Sir John and Lady Jane, he named his son John Stuart. 
Professor Bain of Aberdeen, in his Biography of James 
Mill, writes as follows : — 

"Sir John Stuart's steady attachment to James Mill entitles 
him to honourable remembrance. But it is not easy to find out 
what kind of man Sir John was. Few people can give an account 
of him. He was not even honoured with a newspaper paragraph 
on his death. The popular tradition makes him out haughty and 
ill-tempered ; but, after hearing all that could be said in his own 
locality, I was led to the conclusion, that he was a just-minded 
and really generous man, though somewhat imperious ; he could 
not bear to be thwarted. Lady Jane was revered for every virtue." 

Her deeds of piety and generosity are recorded by the 
late Rev. Robert Foote in his account of the parish ; and 
the old people of Fettercairn held her memory in grateful 
remembrance. The portraits of Sir John and Lady Jane 
are carefully preserved in Fettercairn House ; and that of 
their daughter, taken at a later period, is specially and 
deservedly venerated. Her hand was sought by men of 
rank, and notably Sir AValter Scott, who narrates, in the 
introduction of the Antiqwxri/, the intended journey by 
coach of a young man — no other than himself — on a love 
expedition to the Mearns.^ In canto iv. of Rokeby, Miss 
Stuart, it is believed, stands in beauty and grace as the 
prototype of Matilda, and here a line or two of sect. 5 
may be quoted : — 

'' Wreathed in its dark-brown rings, her hair 
Half hid Matilda's forehead fair. 
Half hid and half reveal'd to view 
Her full dark eye of hazel hue. " 

1 Vid. his letter in chap. xix. 

86 Fettercairn, 

She marrifed William Forbes, younger of Pitsligo, who 
thereupon took the name and arms of the Stuart family ; 
and at his father's death became Sir William Stuart Forbes 
of Pitsligo and Fettercairn. He was descended from 
Duncan Forbes of Corsindae, the second son of the second 
Lord Forbes of Pitsligo. His father, Sir William Forbes, 
sixth baronet of Pitsligo, the celebrated Edinburgh banker, 
and the biographer of Dr. Beattie, " the minstrel," was one 
of the most estimable and eminent men of his day. 
He recovered the Pitsligo estates, forfeited for the share 
which Alexander, the fourth Lord Pitsligo, had taken 
in the rebellion of 1745. In the words of a recent 
historian ; — 

*'Sir William was a public-spirited and benevolent gentleman 
who, by great activity and spotless integrity, had been eminently 
prosperous in life ; devoting, in the true spirit of christian charity, 
a large portion of his ample means and valuable time to the relief 
of his fellow-creatures, or to works of public utility and improve- 
ment. He was also a gentleman of the highest breeding and most 
dignified manners, the life of every scene of innocent amusement 
or recreation ; a leader of the cultivated and elegant society of the 
Capital, and a link between the old Scottish aristocracy, to which 
by birth he belonged, and the rising commercial opulence with 
which he was connected by profession ; as well as the literary 
circle with which he was intimate from his requirements." 

His second son was John Hay Forbes, advocate, who 
rose to the Bench as Lord Medwyn, and died in 1854. A 
daughter, Jane, became the wife of James Skene of 
Kubislaw (1791-1864). Their second son was the famous 
Celtic scholar and writer, William Forbes Skene, D.C.L. 
and LL.D., and H.M. Historiographer for Scotland. Sir 
Walter Scott, in the introduction of canto iv. of Marmion, 
addresses his friend James Skene in reference to his 
marriage, and the death thereafter of Sir AVilliam Forbes. 
A portion of the address runs : — 

Families of Belsclies, Stuart and Fm'hes. 87 

*' Then happy those, beloved of heaven, 
To whom the mingled cup is given ; 
Whose lenient sorrows find relief, 
Whose joys are chasten'd by their grief. 
And such a lot, my Skene, was thine, 
When thou of late, wert doom'd to twine, — 
Just wlien thy bridal hour was by, — 
The cypress with the myrtle tie. 
Just on thy bride her Sire had smiled. 
And bless'd the union of his child, 
When love must change its joyous cheer. 
And wipe affection's filial tear. 
Nor did the actions next his end. 
Speak more the father than the friend. 
Scarce had lamented Forbes paid 
The tribute to his Minstrel's shade. 
The tale of friendship scarce was told. 
Ere the narrator's heart was cold- 
Far may we search before we find 
A heart so manly and so kind ! " 

William, the seventh baronet, had, by his wife Williamina 
Stewart, four sons : William, the eldest, who predeceased 
his father ; John, the eighth baronet ; Charles, who became 
a partner in, and manager of the bank ; and James-David, 
a highly-distinguished son of science, who became Professor 
of Natural Philosophy in the Edinburgh University, and 
afterwards Principal of the United College of St. Salvator 
and St. Leonard of St. Andrews. 

Sir William Stuart Forbes died in 1828, and John, his 
eldest surviving son, succeeded to the estates and titles. 
On the death of his cousin, Alexander Hepburn-Murray 
Belsches of Invermay and Balmanno, he succeeded, in 
1864, as heir of entail to these estates, and assumed the 
additional surname and arms of Hepburn. He had been 
educated for the bar, and that training served him in good 
stead throughout his career, in the conduct of affairs, as a 
public-spirited and philanthropic county gentleman. It 
may be truly said that upon him fell the mantle of his 

88 Fetteicairn. 

grandfather, and that, by those who knew him, his like 
may not again be seen. He spared neither time, trouble, 
nor expense in promoting the welfare of his fellow-creatures; 
and in many instances, known to the writer of these pages, 
he worked late and early, both in and out, regardless of 
bodily case and comfort, for the sake of doing good. He 
held a prominent place among agriculturists, and in their 
councils he was regarded as an authority. He was long an 
active and leading member of the Highland and Agricul- 
tural Society of Scotland, a patron and promoter of the 
Fettercairn Farmers' Club, taking, in connection with these 
bodies, a deep and humane interest in the state of the 
agricultural labourer, and making praiseworthy efforts to 
elevate his condition. As an enlightened and advanced 
educationist he had few equals. The schools on his 
extensive estates, and the parochial schools with which he 
had to do as an heritor, were the objects of his constant 
care ; with a hand ever open to supply their wants, and 
with wise counsels ever ready to guide the teachers. In 
1857 the evening entertainments known as Penny Read- 
ings, and which for a time became so common all over the 
country, were begun by him in Fettercairn, as the first of 
the kind in Scotland. In 1856, along with the Marquis of 
Tweedale, he founded the Scottish Meteorological Society ; 
and continued to use his influence and lend his aid for the 
promotion of its objects. As a deputy-lieutenant and 
the convener of Kincardineshire, he took a leading part 
in the business of the county. In 1834 he married Lady 
Harriet Kerr, third daughter of William sixth Marquis of 
Lothian, who survived him. She died at London in 1884, 
truly and sincerely regretted by all, and specially by the 
people of Fettercairn, who had so long experienced her 
kindly acts of benevolence* and charity. Sir John died in 
London in May, 1866, and was interred in the family tomb 
in Edinburgh Greyfriars' Churchyard. Their only child 

90 Fettercairn. 

and daughter, Harriet- Williamina, married, in July, 1858, 
her cousin, the H\)n. Charles Henry "Rolle Trefusis, now 
twentieth Baron Clinton. At her father's death, then 
Lady Clinton, she was duly served heiress by the Sheriff 
of Chancery, under the deed of entail made in 1811 by 
Baron Sir John Stuart, and, in accordance therewith, she 
entered into possession. Shortly afterwards her cousin, 
now Sir William Forbes, Bart., in New Zealand, as the 
eldest son of Charles Hay Forbes, deceased, raised in the 
Court of Session an action in which he sought to have 
Lady Clinton's title set aside, on the ground that, under 
the destination of the entail, he was entitled to succeed to 
the estates in preference to her ladyship. The Court of 
Session, and afterwards the House of Lords, decided that 
the title of Lady Clinton, under the deed of entail, was 
unchallengeable. This amiable lady, who had endeared 
herself to the people of Fettercairn, died at the family 
mansion of Heanton-Satchville, North Devon, in July, 
1869, leaving a family of two sons, Charles-John-Robert 
and Henry-Walter; and three daughters, Ada-Harriet, 
Mary-Elizabeth and Margaret- Adela. The Hon. Charles- 
Forbes-Trefusis attained his majority in January, 1884, 
and has since taken an active part in county and local 
affairs. The Hon. Henry- Walter is a Captain in the Scots 
Guards, and has lately been appointed aide-de-camp to 
General Gascoigne, Commander of the Forces in Hong 
Kong. The Hon. Margaret- Adela, in 1897, married the 
Rev. Leonard White-Thomson, second son of Colonel 
White-Thomson of Broomford, County Devon. During 
the years of Mr Trefusis's minority, his father. Lord 
Clinton, as administrator at law, ably and efficiently 
managed and improved the property. Mr Trefusis married, 
in 1886, Lady Jane-Grey McDonnell, fourth daughter of 
Mark fifth Earl of Antrim, and they have two daughters, 
Harriet and Fenella. 

Neivdosk o?* Balfour. 91 

Chapter XIII. 


THE old thanedom and parish of Neudos or Newdosk, 
recently annexed to Fettercairn, is now generally 
known as the district of Balfour. At a very early period 
the lands were granted to the knights of St. John of 
Jerusalem, and as already noticed, Robert the Bruce probably 
granted an extension of the same. The name of Neudos 
appears a hundred years earlier. Reginald de Chen, 
Sheriff of Kincardine, had a charter of the thanedom. In 
1365 King David gave to Alexander Lindsay of Crawford, 
father of the first Lindsay of Glenesk, a grant of the king's 
lands "in thanagio de Newdoskis in vicecomitate de Kin- 
cardyn." The rents x. li. (ten pounds) were uplifted by the 
Lord High Chamberlain, Thomas Stewart Earl of Angus. 
In 1390 a confirmation of the charter was granted to 
David Lindsay ; and again, in 1406, by Robert III. to hi& 
sons and the longest liver of them. The Lindsays retained 
possession till 1585, wlien Sir John Wischart of Pitarrow 
was granted a part of the lands, viz., "Eister Balfour, 
Weister Balfour, et Incherbock, in baronia de Newdosk,'' 
at £8 of valuation entry. In 1607 he received in addition 
the lands of Kirkton and their brewery, with the lands of 
Bonhary, "in the barony of Rescobie and regality of 
St. Andrews," at £7 6s. 8d. of valuation entry. The parish 
of Newdosk paid four merks annually to the Cathedral of 
St. Andrews. In 1615, his son. Captain Alexander 

"92 Fetfercairn. 

Wischart, disposed of Balfour to John Straton, son of 
Sir Alexander Straton of Lauriston, who in 1605 was 
Lord High Commissioner to the Assembly of the Church 
At Aberdeen. John Straton died in 1631, and his son 
Alexander succeeded as proprietor of the Woodtons, the 
Mill, Easter and Wester Balfour and Incharbock, at a total 
valuation of £5 ; and likewise the advowson of the 
•Church and Parish of Fettercairn ; the lands of Kirkton 
and the brasina (maltings) of the barony of Newdosk, 
valued m toto at £8 13s. 4d. 

A record of date 1618 bears that Alexander Thornton, 
the son of an Edinburgh burgess, had a grant of lands in 
Fordoun parish, of a quarter of Easter and AVester 
Woodtons and the mill of Woodton. 

Alexander Straton was succeeded in 1666 by a son 
Alexander, who sold Balfour to a Thomas Stewart in 1679, 
and Lauriston to Sir John Falconer of Phesdo in 1694. 
The William Burnett who, as already stated, with his 
thirty-three tenants, took possession of the church seats 
in 1686, was the next proprietor of the estate; but 
Margaret Lindsay, spouse of Alexander Straton, and sister 
of David Lindsay of Edzell, retained, in her own right and 
in conjunction with her brother, a lien over the lands, 
mills, fishings, the church patronage of Newdosk, the 
Templar lands, called the Dowcroft, Brewtack, and the 
office of baillie of said lands in the regality of Torphichen. 

It may be noticed that of the Stratons who settled in 
the parish, David, a son of Andrew Straton of Warburton 
and a nephew of John Straton, who purchased Balfour, was 
tenant of Fodra, above the Bogs of Fodra, now the Lake of 
Fasque. A son David succeeded him, and another son 
James, tenant of Drumhendry, was twice married and had 
twenty children, chiefly daughters, and the most of them 
were married to farmers in the pari«h. The late Alexander 
Straton, M.D., of Bath, born at Balmakelly, Marykirk, was 

Xewdosk oi' Balfour, 9$ 

a great-grandson, who helped the writer in this enquiry ; 
and another descendant, a generation later, is the Rev. 
William Straton Bruce, D.D., parish minister of Banff. 
David, lord of Edzell, died in 1698, and that was probably 
the date when Balfour was acquired by Peter Forbes, whose- 
name appears in a minute of presbytery as heritor of 
Balfour in 1723. After him James Forbes appears in 
1737 and subsequent years. He died in 1762 and was- 
succeeded by his son Andrew, lieutenant in the 19th 
regiment of foot, who as Captain Forbes sold the Woodtons 
to Lord Adam Gordon in 1774, and the rest of the property 
thereafter to Sir Alexander Eamsay Irvine. The old people 
of thirty years ago spoke of him as the "daft laird of 
Balfour." The "laird" on a certain occasion met Sir 
John Stuart of Fettercairn, and politely, as he thought, 
asked if Lady Jane was well. Sir John indignantly 
replied, " What business has a man of your stamp to ask 
about her 1 " " Oh ! yies, I have, she asked for me on& 
day ; and she 's better than you deserve for a lady." 

!94 Fetter aiirn. 

Chapter XIV. 


fPHERE has been given in a previous chapter some 
J- account of the ownership of Balbegno at different 
periods down to 1488, so far as it is ascertainable. After 
that date the feudal owners of the same and of other 
contiguous lands were Andrew Wood and his successors. 
They were also thanes of Fettercairn, with arbitrary power 
•over their vassals and all within their domain. They could 
fine, scourge, imprison, and even put to death without 
appeal to common law. The particular places where these 
powers were carried out will be described in connection 
with Balbegno Castle. 

The family of Wood, originally De Bosco, was probably 
of Norman origin. Several of its members were eminent 
churchmen. William de Bosco acted as clerk to King 
William the Lion (1165-1214) in his courts at Forfar, 
Kinghorn, and Selkirk. This William was Chancellor of 
Scotland and Bishop of Dunblane. About 1240 Ealph 
de Bosco was Bishop of Aberdeen, and confirmed a grant 
of the Church of Aboyne to the Knights Templars. 
Towards the end of the thirteenth century the De Boscos 
gained a footing in the north of Scotland. In course of 
time the name was changed to Wod or Wood, and among 
other owners of lands in the county of Aberdeen appears 
the name of Andrew Wod of Overblairton, Belhelvie, in 

Balhegno. 95 

the reign of James III. A grant of the Castlehill and 
Stocket wood of Aberdeen was made to him by that king ; 
but this grant, being contrary to Robert the Bruce's 
Charter to Aberdeen, was revoked by James IV. After 
the battle of Sauchie near Stirling, fought on 18th June, 
1488, when James III. was killed, James IV. became king. 
On the 26th of the same month, at Perth, a grant of the 
lands of Balbegno and of the thanages of Fettercairn and 
Aberluthnot was made to "Andro Wod of Overblairton, 
Belhelvie, and his spouse Mariota Moncreife." His 
designations were Camerariiis, Ballivus, and Receptor, or 
Chamberlain, Baillie, and Receiver of the king's rents from 
the said thanages and from other crown lands in the 
county of Aberdeen. James IV. treated Perkin Warbeck, 
the pretended Duke of York and claimant of the English 
throne, as his guest, and laid a tax on the country for his 
support. Andrew Wood was collector of this tax for the 
part north of the Forth, and was paid certain sums of 
money for his labours. The annual rent of Balbegnoth was 
twenty merks. The lands of Easter Strath and the Barony 
of Balmane, which by reason of non-entry had been for 
twenty-six years in the king's hands, were granted to " his 
familiar servitor Andro Wod." This allocation continued 
till 1510, when the lands and Barony were granted to John 
Ramsay. In the Burgh Records of Stirling, the following 
entry appears, viz.: "March 18th, 1503. Oure sovrane 
lord ratifyt and approvit ye charter of confirmation and 
gift maid to Andro Wod ischar of ye chaumer door of ye 
feu of ye lands and thanedom of ffethirkern and Abirluthnot 
after ye form of his infeftment maid to him thereuppon." 
His fee as usher was £13 6s. 8d. 

The charter of confirmation above referred to was 
granted in 1498. Although a lengthy document and 
written in Latin, it is, for its minute and interesting 
details, worthy of a place here, as follows : — 

96 Fettermmi . 

* 'Jacobus Dei gracia rex Scotorum, omnibus probis hominibus 
tocius terre sue clericis et laicls Salutem. Sciatis quia nos ad 
nosbram perfectam etabem viginti quinque annorum completorum 
existentes post nostram ultimam generalem revocacionem de 
omnibus donacionibus per nos nostra tenera in etate datis et 
concessis factum, nostro revolventes animo accurateque consider- 
antes diuturnum, continuum, bonum, et fidele servicium quondam 
nostris nobilissimis parentibus patri et matri, quorum animabus 
propicietur Deus, et nobis per dilectum et fidelem familiarem 
servitorem nostrum Andream Wod de Ovirblairtoun, cubili nostri 
hostiarium, longo tempore retroacto impensum et per eum nobis 
in dies continuatum, volentesque eidem pro hujusmodi suo servicia 
in aliquo recompensare ne suscepti videamur obsequii immemores, 
dedimus igitur, concessimus et confirmamus, et hac presenti carta 
nostra damus, concedimus, et confirmamus dicto Andree totus et 
integras terras et thanagia nostra de Fethirkerne et Abirluthnot 
cum suis pertinenciis jacentes infra vicecomitatum nostrum de 
Kincardin, quas terras et thanagia cum pertinenciis dictus Andreas 
nunc de nobis habet in assedacione pro toto tempore vite sue cum 
officiis camerarie et baliiatus earundem, necnon unam partem 
ipsarum terrarum et thanagiorum per nos sibi in feodo et vitali 
redditu (jlatam per alias nostras literas sub nostris magno et secreto 
sigillis desuper confectas : Tenendas et habendas tobas et integras 
predictas terras et thanagia de Fethirkerne et Abirluthnot cum 
suis pertinenciis dicto Andree et heredibus suis masculis inter 
ipsum et Mariotam Muncreife iegibtime procreatis seu procreandis, 
quibus deficientibus heredibus masculis dicti Andree de corpore suo 
legittime procreandis, de nobis et successoribus nostris in feodiiirnia 
et hereditate imperpetuum, et ipsis omnibus heredibus masculis 
t)redictis deficientibus, nobis et successoribus nostris libere rever- 
tendas, per omnes rectas metas suas antiquas et divisas prout 
jacent in longitudine et latitudine, in boscis, planis, moris, 
raarresiis, viis, semitis, aquis, stagnis, rivolis, pratis, pascuis et 
pasturis, molendinis, multuris et eorum sequelis, aucupacionibus, 
venacionibus, piscacionibus, petariis, turbariis, carbonariis, lapici- 
diis, lapide et calce, fabrilibus, brasinis, brueriis, et genestis, cum 
curiis et earum exitibus, hereyeldis, bludwitis et merchetis 
mulierum, ac cum omnibus aliis et singulis libertatibus, commodi- 
tatibus, et asiamentis, ac justis pertinenciis suis quibuscunque, 
tam non nominatis quam nominatis, tam subtus terra quam supra 
terram, procul et prope, ad predictas terras et thanagia cum 
pertinenciis spectantibus seu juste spec tare valentibus quomodo- 

Balbegno. 97 

libet in futurum, libere, quiete, plenarie, honorifice, bene et in 
pace, sine aliquo impedimento, revocacione, sea contradiccione per 
nos aut successores nostros quovismodp inde fienda in futurum : 
Reddendo inde annuatim dictus Andreas et heredes sui masculi 
supradicti nobis et successoribus nostris pro predictis terris et 
thanagiis cum perbinenciis quinquaginta tres libras sexdecim 
solidos et quatuor denarios ac tres martas dictas rynmartis vel 
quindecim solidos pro qualibet pecia earundem, ac domino de 
Drumry viginti libras pro annuo redittu de eisdem terris et 
thanagiis ex antiquo exeunte, necnon uni capelanno in ecclesia 
cathedrali Brechinensi annuatim tres libras sex solidos et octo 
denarios usualis monete regni nostri ad duos anne terminos debitos 
et consuetos, prout in nostri scaccarii rotulis continetur, nomine 
feodifirme tantum pro omnibus aliis oneribus, exaccionibus, 
questionibus et demandis que de dictis terris et thanagiis cum 
pertinenciis per quoscunque juste exigi poterunt quomodolibet vel 
requiri. In cujus rei testimonium magnum sigillum nostrum 
apponi precipimus, testibus reverendo in Cristo patre Willelmo 
episcopo Abirdonensi, nostri secreti sigilli custode, dilectis consan- 
guineis nostris Georgeo comibe de Huntlie domino Baidyenach, 
cancellario nostro, Archibaldo comite de Ergile domino Campbell et 
Lome, magistro hospicii nostri, Patricio comite de Bothvile domino 
Halis, Alexandre domino Hume, magno camerario nostro, Roberto 
Lundy de Balgowny milite, thesaurario nostro, et dilectis clericis 
nostris Ricardo Mureheid, decano Glasguensi, secretario nostro, et 
Waltero Drummond, decano Dunblanensi, nostrorum rotulorum et 
registri ac consilii clerico, apud Striveling, decimo die mensis 
Marcii anno Domini millesimo quadringentesimo nonagesimo 
octavo et regni nostri undecimo. Collacionatum cum originali et 
tenet in omnibus, teste manu propria ; Ricardus Roberti." 

A translation of the above made by an eminent Latin 
scholar, A. F. Hutchison, M.A., late of the High School of 
Stirling, is as follows : — 

"James, by the grace of God, King of Scots, to all good men of 
his whole land, cleric and laic, Greeting : Know ye, because we 
being at our perfect of twenty-five years complete, after our last 
general revocation of all donations given and granted by us 
in our tender age, for the long, continued, good and faithful 
service done to our umquhil most noble parents our father and our 
mother — for whose souls may God provide— and to us by our 

9* F*f*rfOUfu. 

bdor^^d and fa;thfal hkimh^r «€rvitor Andrew Wod of OvirbUur- 
Ujnn k/M^iarinm, of oar chamber for a km^ time bypast. and 
CfmUnntA bv bim to a.* fn>m dar to dar. and viliin«^ to reoom- 
pen^te th^ «ia*nc; for hii> «»ervice of thL^ !>ort, that we may not seem 
forgetfil of the doty undertaken. — therefore we have given* 
granted and confirmed, and by this oar pressent writing give, 
grant and confirm to the said Andrew all and whole our lands^ 
and tliana^en of Fethirkeme and Abirlathnot with th^r pertlnentB. 
lying within oar Mheriffdom of Kincardin, which lands and thanages 
with their pertinents the said Andrew now holds of us in tack (or 
awedationi for the whole time of his life with the officses of 
cliamberlain and baillie of the same, besides one part of the same 
htnfl^ and tlianages given by us to him in fea and at a victaal rent* 
^ven by oar other letters made (complete) before under oar gresU 
and privy seals : to be had and held all and whole the foresaid 
lands and thanages of Fethirkeme and Abirluthnot with their 
Ifert'tnentfi by the said Andrew and his heirs male lawfully 
liegotten or to be begotten between him and Mariota Muncreif, 
whom failing, by the heirs male of the said Andrew to be lawfully 
liegotten of his own body, of us and our successors in feufirm and 
hereditarily for ever, and all these heirs male foresaid failing to- 
return to us and our successors, in all their proper ancient metes 
and divisions, as they lie in length and breadth, in woods, plains, 
moors, mosses, roads, paths, waters, lakes, bums, meadows, grass- 
lamls and pastures, mills, multures and their sequels, fowlings, 
huntings, fishings, peats, turfs, coalpits, quarries, stone and lime, 
worksho[iH, breweries, heaths and broom, with courts and their 
profits, heregelds, bludewits and taxes payable on the marriage of 
female vassals, and with all other and singular liberties, com- 
morlities and easements and their just pertinents whatsoever, 
named and unnamed, both under the earth and above the earth, 
far and near, >>elonging or that in the future may in any manner 
justly belong to the foresaid lands and thanages with their pertin- 
ents, freely, quietly, fully, honourably, well and in peace, without 
any im[>ediment, revocation or contradiction to be made in any 
manner by us or our successors in the future : the said Andrew 
and his above-said heirs male paying yearly to us and our 
successors for the foresaid lands and thanages with their pertinents 
53 ix)un(l8 16 shillings and 4 pence, and three marts called 
rynmartM or 15 shillings for each piece {i.e. each mart) of the same, 
and to the laird of Drumry 20 pounds as annual rent from the same 
lands and thanages according to the ancient exit, as also to a 

Baibegno. 99 

chaplain in the cathedral church of Brechin yearly £3 Gs. 8d. usual 
money of our realm, at the two usual and customary terms of the 
year, as is contained in the rolls of our exchequer, in the name of 
feufirm only, for all other burdens, exactions, questions and 
demands which can in any way justly be exacted or required by 
whomsoever from the said lands and thanages with their pertinents. 

'* In testimony of which we order our great seal to be appended : 
Witnesses, the reverend father in Christ William, bishop of 
Aberdeen, keeper of our privy seal ; our beloved cousins — George, 
Earl of Huntly ; Lord Badenoch, our Chancellor ; Archibald, Earl 
of Argyle ; Lord Campbell of Lorn, master of our hospices ; 
Patrick, Earl of Both well ; Lord Hailes ; Alexander, Lord Hume, 
our great Chamberlain ; . Robert Lundy of Balgowny , Knight, our 
treasurer ; and our beloved clerks — Richard Muirhead, dean of 
Glasgow, our secretary ; and Walter Drummorid, dean of Dunblane, 
clerk of our rolls and register and of the council, at Stirling on 
the 10th day of the month of March, in the year of our Lord, 1498, 
and the 11th of our reign. 

" Compared with the original, and correct in all. Witness my 
hand ; Richard (son of) Robert (Robertson ?) " 

These old writings, now collated and brought to light, 
clearly prove that Andrew Wood of Fettercairn was not, as 
supposed and stated by some, the famous Admiral Sir 
Andrew Wood of Largo. They were contemporaries, and 
probably related as cousins, for the same christian names, 
Andrew, John, and Walter, are those of both families. The 
carved figures on Baibegno Castle give colour to this sup- 
position. One of these, a male bust, with the left hand erect, 
three fingers extended, the face bearded, and the head with 
cap and morion, is now placed over the garden door, and 
may represent Admiral Wood in the attitude of a naval 
commander. The sculpture probably commemorates the 
great fight in the Firth of Forth, where Sir Andrew and 
his brothers with two ships captured the three which the 
English king had sent to make an end of the Scots power 
at sea. The trinity went down before the two on the left 

100 Fettercairn. 

About 1512 Andrew Wood of Balbegno was succeeded 
by his son John, a minor, for whom, till 1518, his uncle, 
Robert Moncrieff of Curroqhuy, near CriefF, acted as tutor, 
and then a William Gordon, sponsus matris (his stepfather), 
assumed the duty. David Wood of Craig and a brother 
William Wood of Bonnington lived about the same time, 
and were related to John Wood. The sasine granted to 
him by James IV. in 1512 runs thus: — "The thanages 
of Fethircarne, Abirludnocht, Balbegnoth, Ballarno, 
Balnakadle, Fotheray, Thaneston, Molendini Perichcroft, 
Balmakewin, Molendini de Luther, Drumry, Officii Strath- 
auchin de Thorn toun, Brodland, Kirkton, and Wester 
Strath." His wife was Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Alex- 
ander Irvine of Drum. Balbegno Castle was built by 
them. Their son Walter succeeded in 1579, and married 
Helen Stewart, daughter of John, third Earl of Athole, 
whose great-grandfather was Sir James Stewart, " the 
black knight of Lorn," who married Joanna, the widow of 
James I. of Scotland. This gave the descendants of 
Walter Wood and Helen Stewart a connection with 
royalty. They had four sons, viz. : — Walter, Andrew, 
David and William. Walter succeeded in 1598, and after 
him, in 1607, came his son, designated Sir John Wood. 
To him a brother James was served heir in 1636, whose 
son Andrew succeeded in 1656. His infeftment, by 
precept of Oliver Cromwell, confirmed to him 

*'The Manor place and Mylne of Balbegno, the lands of Balerno 
and astricted multures, Caldcoats, utherwayes called Tillifonten, 
Bonaketill and Strathnosen, Skairruids, the lands of Fetterkairn, 
the croft besyde the Nethermyhie, the mylne of Blackelauche, 
(BoggindoUo), with the office of chamber lanrie and bailyiarie of 
the said lands, the lands of Strathester, with liberty in the Mure 
of Luther, and Moss of Balmayne, and power of pasturage of nolt 
and sheep, all united into the barony or thanage of and within the 
parochin of Fetterkairn. Entry, £12 13s. 4d." 

102 Fettercairn. 

In 1687 Andrew Wood sold the estate to Andrew 
Middleton of Caldhame and Pitgarvie, the youngest 
brother of John Earl Middleton. Andrew Wood married 
a daughter of Sir Alexander Strachan of Thornton, and 
their son, Major James Wood, residing at Invereskandye, 
was factor to Lindsay of Edzell, and an elder of the church 
at Edzell. His wife was Margaret Jackson, and their 
daughter Jean married John Lindsay of Dalbog. Major 
Wood's great-great-grandson was the late John Wood, 
banker, Colinsburgh, who died in 1875, leaving a large 
family, one of whom, John, an eminent artist, resides 
at Bramerton Lodge, Carlisle. To him and to his wife now 
deceased^ whose efforts and correspondence in tracing the 
genealogy of the Wood family were unwearied, the writer 
has been much indebted. The name of Wood became a 
leading one in the parish of Fettercairn, and continued to be 
so down to the beginning of the present century. Andrew 
Middleton got the lands of Caldhame and Pitgarvie by his 
marriage with Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Charles Ramsay of 
Balmain. From a minute of Presbytery in 1 683, he appears, 
some four years before his purchase of Balbegno, as an heritor 
of the parish and an office-bearer in the church, with the over- 
sight of Earl Middleton's lands. After his death in 1699, 
his son Robert became proprietor of Balbegno, and married 
a daughter of George Ogilvy of Lunan. He died without 
issue in 1710, and bequeathed the property to his brother- 
in-law, John Ogilvy, advocate, who died in 1743, and by his 
wife Isabel Cochrane had four daughters, the eldest of 
whom, Girzel, married a Dr. Brisbane, and after her 
mother's death, in 1756, possessed the estate till 1778, 
when it was sold to the Hon. Walter Ogilvy of Clova for 
the sum of £7500. In 1819 his son, the Hon. Donald 
Ogilvy, succeeded, and, in 1846, sold Balbegno to Sir 
John Gladstone for £32,000. 

Balnakettle and Littlestmth, 103 


It was said that the cost of building Balbegno Castle 
impoverished the Wood proprietors and became a burden 
on the estate. Also, that Balnakettle and Littlestrath had 
to be sold to pay the debt. The former at least was not 
finally disposed of till the time of Andrew, the last of the 
Woods. In 1678, a retour of Balnakettle was made to 
^* Williaip Fraser, Merchant in Dundee, brother of Andrew 
Fraser of Balnakettle." Again, in 1682, another retour 
appears in favour of Mr Robert Reid, son and heir of the 
Rev. Robert Reid, minister of Banchory Ternan, for the 
^^ lands and dominical lands of Balnakettle, the plough land 
of Garden Plough, lands of Strathnossen, Skair, and manor 
place of Balnakettle in the Barony of Balmain, &c." The 
Rev. Robert Reid of Birnies and Balnakettle was a grand- 
son of Robert Reid, also minister of Banchory Ternan, who 
succeeded his father, James Reid, the first Protestant 
minister of that parish after the Reformation. James 
Reid had other distinguished sons : Thomas, Greek and 
Latin secretary to James VI. ; Alexander, physician to 
Charles I., who left a large bequest to his native parish ; 
James, a surgeon and an fcminent Latin scholar; Adam, 
minister of Methlick; and three daughters. The Rev. 
Robert Reid of Balnakettle had two sons : Robert of 
Balnakettle, and Thomas, who married Jane Burnett of the 
House of Leys. One of their sons was Robert, minister of 
Banchory, and another, Lewis, minister of Strachan, of 
whose first family was Thomas Reid, D.D. (1710-96), the 
famous Moral Philosopher. Margaret, a daughter in the 
second family, married in 1763 the Rev. Alexander Leslie 
(a descendant of the House of Rothes), minister of Durris 
and afterwards of Fordoun. They had seven sons and four 
daughters. Their eldest son was the much respected Dr. 
James Leslie, minister of Fordoun, who died in 1858 at 

104 Feliei'cairn. 

Stonehaven, in his ninety-fifth year. Their fourth and only 
married son, Alexander, had by his wife Jane, daughter of 
Sir William Seton, Bart, of Pitmedden, a son Alexander 
Leslie of Birkwood, Banchory Ternan, who had by his wife 
Johanna, daughter of George Hogarth of Woodhill, three 
sons and two daughters, and died in 1862. The younger 
daughter is Grace- Anna Leslie of Birkwood, who married 
Alexander R. Paterson, M.D., M.R.C.P. Of their family of 
two sons and two daughters, the youngest is Hilda-Maud 
Paterson, who favoured the author with Sir Walter Scott's 
letter, which will appear in chap xix. 

So far as is known the next owner of Balnakettle, 
whether by heirship or purchase, was William Strachan, 
son of Charles Strachan of Balgays. In a Presbytery 
Minute of 1702 he appears as heritor of. Balnakettle, and in 
another of 1704 his son Alexander as that of Littlestrath. 
William Strachan died in 1722; and shortly thereafter 
the lands were acquired by Dame Elizabeth Trent, widow 
of Sir James Falconer of Phesdo, a Lord of Session, who 
died in 1705. At her death, in 1748, their son John took 
possession. Lady Phesdo interested herself in parish 
affairs, and specially in the condition of the poor. A Kirk 
Session entry, in 1735, bears that she sent a request, with 
a donation, to summon a James Mitchell for " scandalous 
language to Captain Gordon at Arnhall." In 1766, a 
kinsman, James Falconer of Monkton, son-in-law of David, 
fifth Earl of Kintore, was served heir and took possession 
of Balnakettle and Littlestrath. In his absence. Sir Alex. 
Ramsay Irvine acted the part of resident landlord ; and 
the tenants were bound in terms of their leases to perform 
services to him, like his own tenants. James Falconer of 
Monkton died in 1779, and his brother Peter succeeded. 
He died in 1797, and left the two estates to his cousin 
John, Viscount Arbuthnott. They continued to form 
parts of the Arbuthnott estates till 1852, when Balnakettle 

BalnaMtle and Littlestrath, 105^ 

was sold for £8500 to the late David Scott, builder,. 
Montrose, and Littlestrath for £1000 to the late Rev. Dr. 
Pirie, principal of Aberdeen University. In course of a 
year or two the late Sir Thomas Gladstone acquired 
Littlestrath, and at a latter date Balnakettle. Their 
addition to Fasque estate makes it one unbroken stretch 
of territory. 

106 Fettermirn. 

Chapter XV. 


THE Barony of Balmain, as already noticed, was so 
designated in a charter dated 1475, and granted to 
Oeorge Earl of Rothes. How long he held possession does 
not appear. About 1471 Sir Walter of Beaufort held 
Fasque and Balfour. The times were unsettled. James III. 
was a weak monarch, and the Lindsays of Edzell were 
^ll-powerful in the district. The old rule held good : 

*' The good old rule, the simple plan, 
That they should take who have the power, 
And they should keep who can." 

Earl Beardie's son was created Duke of Montrose, with a 
^rant of additional lands. He fought on the king's side — 
the losing one — at Sauchie, and his estates were forfeited. 
It fell to James IV. to grant these estates to his courtiers 
-and favourites. Of these, as already stated, Balbegno was 
granted to Andrew Wood in 1488, and Balmain to John 
Ramsay in 1510. Of Ramsay's origin nothing is known, 
5ave that a Janet Napier was his mother. At the age of 
sixteen he acted as page to James III., when in 1481 the 
king with his favourites and the discontented nobles 
marched at the head of 50,000 men to invade England. 
And when, upon reaching Lauderj the favourites were 
hanged over the bridge, Ramsay was spared on account of 
his youth. Robert Lindsay of Pitscottie, in his History of 
Scotland, thus describes the scene : 

Balmain and Fasqiie, 107 

' ' The nobles for despight took a hair tether and hanged Cochrane 
over the bridge above the rest of his complices." ..." The king 
v^as taken captive himself, and was had to the Castle of Edinburgh 
by the convoy of his Lords ; and none escaped that was of his 
company, I mean his secret servants or cubiculars, but were 
banged, except a young man called John Ramsay, who was saved 
by the king's request, who, for refuge, lap on the horse behind the 
king to save his life. This Sir John Ramsay was Treasurer of 
Scotland and laird of Balmain. This act was done in the year of 
Ood 1481, in August." 

In 1484 he acquired the tenure of Crichton Castle, with 
the appointment of officer in the king's household, an 
auditor of Exchequer, and a commissioner for the letting 
of the crown lands. He had a grant of lands in the 
counties of Perth and Fife, the title of Lord Bothwell, and 
in 1486 the custody of Dumbarton Castle. He was on 
three separate occasions an Embassy to England. After 
the battle of Sauchie, in June, 1488, the overthrow and 
death of James HI., John Ramsay, the Earl of Buchan, 
and others, fled to England, and entered into a conspiracy 
to deliver up the young king of Scotland to Henry VII., he 
supplying them with money. Ramsay returned to Scotland 
and secretly acted as a spy and agent of Henry. In 1496, 
the year of Perkin Warbeck's adventure in Scotland, he 
wrote letters to Henry, promising that " he would not fail 
to do good service and report the councils of James," whose 
^ood-will and favour he had at the same time so far 
secured as to be appointed a member of the Parliament, 
with a tenement and orchard in the Cowgate, and 
subsequently a grant of the lands and barony of Balmain. 
The marriage of James IV. with the Princess Margaret of 
England, in 1502, led to the union of the crowns in 1603, 
and John Ramsay, the founder of the House of Balmain, 
notwithstanding all his faults, was instrumental in bringing 
about this happy consummation. He was twice married. 
His first wife was Isabel Cant, daughter of Thomas of 

108 Fettefi'cairn. 

Dumbarton; and his second, Margaret Strachan of Thornton, 
who, after his death in 1535, married Alexander Ogston of 
Fettercairn. Sir John Kamsay was succeeded by his son 
William, who married Marjory, daughter of William Wood 
of Bonniton. A James Ramsay, who was probably related 
to Sir John, occupied Meiklestrath in 1509, and paid 
" victuals, muttons, oxen and poultry "in name of rent. 

The third laird of Balmain was David, son of William. 
Ramsay. He married Catherine, daughter and eleventh 
child of Sir Robert Carnegie of Kinnaird, grandfather of 
David, first Earl of Southesk. One of their sons, the Rev. 
Andrew Ramsay, A.M., to be afterwards noticed, rose ta 
eminence in the Church. Their eldest son, Gilbert, was- 
served heir to his father in 1625. He was created a 
Baronet of Nova Scotia, and served for several years in 
Parliament as member for the county of Kincardine. As. 
already noticed in the account given of John Earl 
Middleton, his first wife was Grizel Durham, and his. 
second, a daughter of Auchinleck of Ballandro. Sir 
Gilbert was succeeded by his son David, and he also sat 
for tlie county in Parliament. The "rascal Irish Regiment '^ 
of 800 men that came over the Cairn o' Month in 1639, 
robbed and spoiled his property. By way of compen- 
sation he had a grant of 4000 merks from Government, 
and, in 1647, an additional grant of £500 for the ravages 
and excesses committed by the soldiers of Montrose. 
About 1650 he acquired the lands of Benholm, which were 
afterwards sold to Robert Scott. About 1674 Sir David 
was followed by his son Sir Charles, who married Elizabeth,, 
daughter of Sir David Falconer of Glenfarquhar.^ They 
had two sons David and Alexander, and a daughter Helen, 
She married Hercules Scott of Benholm, and the marriage 

1 Her mother was Margaret, daughter of Captain Kobert Irvine of 
Monboddo. The Irvines and Kamsays were again connected in th& 
person of Sir Alexander Ramsay Irvine. 

Balmain and Fasqiie. 109 

contract was signed at Fasque by seventeen witnesses. In 
order to show the extent of the Barony of Balmain at this 
period, and give the names of some holdings in it now 
unknown, the retour to Sir Charles may be partly trans- 
lated and quoted as follows : — 

" March 16th, 1674. Dominus Carolus Ramsay Miles, baronettus 
de Balniaine, haeres Domini Davidis Ramsay de Balmaine, in villa 
•et terris de Balmaine, with the pendicles of Blaires and Bognothie 
(Blairbog and Bogmuir ?) of Eslie, Burnsyde, Wester Strath, with 
mill and pendicles of Lonsched(?), Burnett's land(?), and Drum- 
hendrie. Mill of Fethercairn, 20 shillings yearly from lands in 
Fethercairn, lands of Faskie, commonty of Luther, Kincardine, 
■Gallowmyres and Cammock, commonty of hill above Faskie, — old 
valuation entry £7 6s. 8d. — new entry £29 6s. 8d. Also the west 
third-part of Pitgarvie, Newbigging, Todholes and one-half the 
Waird of Arnbarrow, lands of Creichitebum, Wallneuk(?), Jack- 
•strath(?)," and part Eister Strath. Old entry 20s. — new £4. 
Likewise the Mill-lands of Mill of Blacklatch (BogindoUo), 
Thenston and Loneley, Coathill, Dillathie (Dillally), three plough- 
gangs of Fodra (Brae of Fasque), Greengaits (?), Hairstonmure (or 
Nethermill), Braelandmure(?), Sandiehiilock with pasturages: 
val. entry £12 13s. 4d." 

And in a previous charter : 

"The third part of the land of Heland-agoyne (now the manse 
glebe and field below), one- third of long and short Haltoun(?) : old 
■entry 40s. ; new £8. Also the lands of Over Craignieston, includ- 
ing Goskiehill and Barehill, the Templar lands, Paroche Croft and 
Diraland of Fethercairn : old entry 10s. ; new 40s." 

The lands and croft last mentioned were held for the 
service of the Church. The Dira was the Kirk Officer, and 
his croft, as at Laurencekirk, was also called the Bellakers ; 
he being in charge of the church and funeral bells. 
Sir Charles died in 1697, and was succeeded by his son 
David, who, like his father and grandfather, was M.P. for 
the county. In 1706 he protested against the Act for the 
Treaty of Union with England. He improved the estate 
and planted the grand old beech and ash trees at Fasque. 

110 Fetfercairn. 

His brother Sir Alexander succeeded hira in 1710; and he 
introduced land drainage, the application of lime carried in 
creels on horseback over Garvock hill, the sowing of grass 
seeds, the building of stone dykes to enclose his fields, and 
about the year 1730 planted the double row of stately 
beeches alongside the avenue leading up to Fasque. He 
died in 1754; and a mortcloth entry, in the Kirk Session 
records, shows that he was buried, as probably his forbears 
were, in Fettercairn churchyard. He was succeeded in the 
estate and titles by his nephew, Alexander Eamsay Irvine,, 
who had begun life as a Civil Service clerk in London. He 
married Mary, the daughter and sole heiress of Alexander 
Irvine of Savock, New Deer, and assumed the surname 
of Irvine, when in 1748 he became joint owner of Savock. 
He carried on in a remarkable manner the improvements 
begun by his uncle. Few men of his day did so much for 
the science of agriculture. He introduced the cultivation 
of turnips, and with the making of roads, the use of wheel 
carriages and other appliances hitherto unknown. He 
planted the larches, spruces, and silver firs in the den of 
Fasque; which, before his death in February, 1806, at the 
age of 91, grew to an immense size, both in girth and 
height. He took a lively interest in the affairs of the 
parish and the welfare of the community. He left £450 
to the kirk session for the poor of the parish. His kinsman 
and heir-at-law. Captain Thomas Eamsay, in the service of 
the East India Company, became the seventh baronet, and 
dying in 1830 without issue the title became extinct. Sir 
Alexander bequeathed the estates to his nephew, Alexander 
Burnett, Sheriff of Kincardine, the second son of Sir 
Thomas Burnett of Leys, Bart., by his wife Catherine 
Ramsay. Sheriff Burnett assumed the name and arms of 
Ramsay, and was created a Baronet of the United Kingdom 
in May, 1806. His wife was Elizabeth, daughter of 
Sir Alexander Bannerman of Elsick, Bart. ; and for many 

Balmnin and Fasque. Ill 

years previous they and their family resided at Fasque. 
They had seven sons and seven daughters. Alexander, the- 
eldest, born in 1785, became second baronet at the death 
of his father in Ma}'', 1810. Thomas, the second son, became- 
a captain in the 47th Regiment of Foot, served in the 
Peninsula and at Waterloo. He afterwards occupied 
Balbegno Castle, and, with the leading young men and 
farmers in the parish, instituted a target-shooting club,, 
which, in 1826, developed into the Fettercairn Farmers' 
Club. His first wife was Jane, daughter of Patrick 
Cruickshank of Stracathro; and his second, Margaret 
Burnett of Crathes. He died at Banchory Lodge in 1857. 
The third son was Robert, a captain in the 14th Regiment. 
Another was Edward Bannerman, who became the well- 
known and highly distinguished Dean of Edinburgh. 
Also William, the admiral who commanded the Baltic fleet 
at the siege of Cronstadt in 1854. And Marmaduke, an 
Oxford student, who died young, at Duneaves, Fortingal, 
in 1834. Lady Ramsay was with her son during his last 
illness; and a subsequent act of kindness to the medical 
attendant led indirectly to a series of events in the writer's 
career which resulted in his lot being cast in Fettercairn. 
Her ladyship attended with motherly care to the education 
of her children. It is said that she taught her boys, as 
well as her girls, to sew and knit and even to mend their 
clothes. Dean Ramsay relates that, when they were boys 
at Fasque, Lord Monboddo was an occasional visitor, and 
that, from hearing their seniors' discussions about his belief 
that men were originally monkeys, they stole behind as 
he passed along the lobby for a peep of his tail ! The new 
house of Fasque was almost ready for occupation when Sir 
Alexander died, as above stated, in May, 1810. The cost 
of building that stately mansion, said to be £30,000, led 
to embarrassment; and Alexander, the second baronet, 
who lived the life of a sportsman, added considerably to- 

112- Fettercairn, 

the burden. He was open-handed and a very generous 
and popular landlord, as evinced by the handsome 
portrait, in the Ramsay Arms Hotel, painted by Sir 
David Wilkie, subscribed for and presented by the 
Fasque and Balmain tenantry at a public dinner in 
Fettercairn. He sold the Fasque section of the estate, in 
1829, to the late Sir John Gladstone, Bart. He married, 
rfirst, Jane, daughter of Francis Russell, Esq. of Blackball, 
who died in 1819; and second, Elizabeth Maule, second 
•daughter of the first Lord Panmure, with issue four sons 
And three daughters. At his death on 26th April, 1852, 
Alexander, his son by the first marriage, succeeded as third 
l}aronet. By his marriage, in 1835, with Ellen-Matilda, 
■eldest daughter of John Entwistle, Esq. of Foxholes, 
Lancashire, he had four sons and one daughter; and 
resided with his family at Cheltenham. In 1855 he was 
appointed a Deputy-Lieutenant of Kincardineshire; in 
1860, captain of the Gloucester Volunteers; and from 
April, 1857, to May, 1859, he represented the burgh of 
Rochdale in Parliament. He died on 3rd March, 1875. His 
•eldest son, Alexander Entwistle, J. P. and Deputy-Lieutenant 
of the county, born 14th January, 1837, succeeded as fourth 
baronet, and married, first, in 1863, Octavia, youngest 
-daughter of Thomas Haigh, Esq. of Elmhall, Liverpool — 
issue, two sons and three daughters; and second, in 1880, 
Caroline-Charlotte, daughter of the late James Ireland, 
Esq., M.P., of Ousden Hall, Suffolk, with issue one son. 

It remains to be recorded that the estate of Balmain 
has passed into other hands; and the connection of the 
Ramsay s with Fettercairn, which so happily existed for 
nearly four hundred years, is now a thing of the past. 
The subject of the Ramsay Bursaries at Aberdeen and 
St. Andrews remains to be noticed in the chapter on 

Balmain and Fasque. 113 

Chapter XVI. 

BALMAIN AND FASQUE {continued). 

THE estate of Fasque, including Balfour, was purchased, 
as already stated, in 1829 by John Gladstones, the 
eminent Liverpool merchant, who in 1835 obtained Royal 
license to drop the final "s " of the name, and who in 1846 
was created a Baronet, on the spontaneous suggestion of 
Sir Robert Peel, then Premier, and at a time when such 
honours were very sparingly conferred. 

A writer in the Scottish Review^ states that, in the 
thirteenth century, a tower on a rock near Biggar was 
occupied by the progenitor of the Gladstones, and that 
from the appellation of the "Gled's stane" the name 
became the patronymic of its owners. ^ Be that as it may, 
it is recorded that, in 1296, "Herbert de Gledestan del 
counte de Lanark " swore fealty to Edward L of England. 

A Sir William de Gledstanes figured in the wars of the 
fourteenth century, and the " winged lion " (the device on 
his seal) was possibly the precursor of the griffin rampant 
of the Gladstone crest. Sir William, in his later years, 
possessed the lands of Cocklaw or Ormiston, near Hawick, 
and this place continued for centuries to be the residence 
of his successors. Sir William's son, of the same name as 
himself, and also a knight, received from the king in 1365 

^ Miss Florence M. Gladstone, daughter of Dr. John Hall Gladstone, 
F.R.S. of London. Scottish Review^ Apr. 1896. See also Genealogist for 
Jan. 1893. 

3 The farm occupying the site of the old tower, about four miles north 
of Biggar, is still called ''The Gladstone." 

114 Fetlercairn. 

a grant of lands near Peebles. About the same time there 
were Gladstones in Forfarshire : for example, Andrew de 
Gledstane served on an inquest at Brechin in 1364 
regarding the holding of the fair there; and at a later 
date (the commencement of the sixteenth century) Robert 
Gledstanes was owner of lands at Craigo. He may have 
been father of Herbert Gledstanes, a prominent lawyer and 
burgess of Dundee about the middle of the same century. 
One of his kinsmen was proprietor of Arthurshiel in the 
upper ward of Lanarkshire. Other notable personages- 
were Herbert Gledstanes in the Scottish brigade of 
Gustavus Adolphus, and created a Swedish noble with 
property in that country; Mr George Gledstanes, Arch- 
bishop of St. Andrews from 1606 to 1615, Alexander his- 
son being Dean till 1638; Francis and James Gledstanes,. 
Covenanters, killed at the battle of Auldearn in 1645; and 
Captain James Gledstanes, of Fardross in County Tyrone, 
who raised a body of yeomen and took part in the defence 
of Londonderry in 1689. 

During the eighteenth century the importance of the 
family may be seen from the valuation rolls of the southern 
counties of Scotland. Of the Lanarkshire (Arthurshiel) 
branch, John Gladstones of Toftcombs, near Biggar, had by 
his wife, Janet Aitken, a son Thomas, a prosperous trader 
in Leith, who married Helen, daughter of Mr Walter 
Neilson of Springfield, and died in 1809. Their eldest son 
was Sir John Gladstone of Fasque and Balfour, born at Leith 
on 11th December, 1764. Trained to his father's business^ 
he became, at the age of twenty-two, a partner in the house 
of Corrie and Bradshaw, corn merchants in Liverpool. Hi& 
business gradually extended to America, the West Indies, 
China, and Russia. By his enterprise, industry, and 
business faculty, he amassed a large fortune ; and for hi» 
munificence in the disposal thereof, especially in the 
building and endowing of churches, schools, and other 

Babiiain and Fasque. 115 

institutions, as well as on account of works of patriotism 
and public charity, it was well said of him by a recent 
writer, as of the centurion of old, "that he loved our 
nation and built us a synagogue." He built and endowed 
two churches in Liverpool, St. Thomas' Church in Leith, 
and there also a school, and an asylum for females, 
endowing it to the extent of £300 a year. He contributed 
largely to Trinity College, Glenalmond, to the fund for the 
endowment of the bishopric of Brechin, and at his own 
charge he erected and endowed a church, with a place of 
sepulture, at Fasque. Along with the Duke of Buccleuch 
he built the piers of Granton and Burntisland for the 
improvement of the ferry. One of his many improvements 
at Fasque was the transformation of the Bogs of Fodra, 
twenty acres in extent, into a beautiful lake, stocking it 
with fish and fowl. He erected the graceful spire of the 
parish church of Fettercairn, being for many years a 
regular worshipper there. A recent biographer writes : 
"Sir John was a remarkable man, of unbending will, of 
inexhaustible energy, and of absolute self-reliance ; with a 
stern, strong, and imperious nature; pre-eminent in all 
those qualities which overcome obstacles, conquer fortune, 
and command the respect of the world." His eminent 
position as a merchant, together with his great talents and 
experience, gave much weight to his opinions on commercial 
matters. On mercantile questions he was frequently con- 
sulted by the ministers of the day. As a supporter of the 
protective policy, he contested the representation of 
Dundee and other places on Conservative principles. He 
acquired by purchase the estates of Balbegno and Phesdo ; 
the former, as already noted, from the Hon. Donald Ogilvy, 
and the latter, which lies wholly in the parish of Fordoun 
from the late Alexander Crombie, Esq, of Thornton. Sir 
John was twice married: first, on 5th May, 1791, to Jane, 
daughter of Mr Joseph Hall of Liverpool, who died on 

116 FeUercairn. 

16th April, 1798, without issue; and, secondly, on 29th 
April, 1800, to Anne, daughter of Mr Andrew Rohertson, 
Provost of Dingwall. By his second wife, who died on 
23rd September, 1835, he had four sons and two daughters. 
The sons were : Thomas, the second baronet, bom in 1804 ; 
Robertson of Court Hey, Liverpool, born in 1805; John 
Neilson of Bowden Park, Wiltshire, captain in the Royal 
Navy, born in 1807 ; and the Right Hon. William Ewart, 
Prime Minister of England, born in 1809. Sir John died 
on 7th December, 1851. 

Sir Thomas was a distinguished student at Eton and 
Oxford. He took his degree of B.A. in his twenty-third 
year, and three years later he graduated M.A. In 
acknowledgment of his abilities, his Alma Mater conferred 
upon him in 1853 the degree of D.C.L. From 1827 to 
1829 he represented the constituency of Queenborough, 
Kent, in the Conservative interest, a cause which he ever 
afterwards upheld. From 1832 to 1835 he sat for 
Portarlington ; and from 1835 to 1838 for Leicester. In 
1842 he was elected for Ipswich, but shortly thereafter was 
unseated on petition, although no blame attached to him. 
At the urgent request of his Conservative friends, in 1865 
he contested the county of Kincardine, but without success. 
He continued, however, to take a warm interest in the 
affairs of the party to which he was so devoutly attached. 
As a landed proprietor, Sir Thomas was most honourable 
in his dealings with his tenantry ; and if on some occasions 
the uprightness of his dealings was mistaken for hardness, 
there was behind the exaction of the bargain a generous 
heart. He became, by the purchase of Littlestrath in 
1854, of Glendye and Strachan in 1856, and of Balnakettle 
in 1863, the largest proprietor in the county, in the general 
business of which he took an active, personal interest; 
and in 1876 was appointed the Lord-Lieutenant. He 
largely promoted the volunteer movement, and acted as a 

Balmain and Ftisque. 117 

lieutenant of the 4th Kincardineshire Volunteers. To 
encourage industrial occupations, he took a leading part, 
along with his lady and the Misses Gladstone, in getting up 
an exhibition of works of industry and art at Fasque in 
1880; and a similar exhibition, on a larger scale, open to 
the whole county, at Stonehaven, in the following year. 
In the affairs of the Fettercairn Farmers' Club, Sir Thomas 
took the liveliest interest, by attending its annual meetings 
and dinners, by contributing liberally to its funds, and 
taking with his famous breed of polled Aberdeen and 
Angus cattle a leading place on the prize list. In parish 
work he took his full share, as a member of the School 
Board and of the Parochial Board ; the support of the poor 
being his constant care. Sir Thomas married, in 1835, 
Louisa, daughter of Robert Fellowes, Esq. of Shotesham 
Park, Norfolk. Of their grown-up family, the two eldest 
daughters, Louisa and Anne, whose works of charity and 
deeds of love were as numerous as they were unostentatious, 
died in London, a few years ago, within a few days of each 
other. A younger daughter, Ida, met with a serious 
accident, and she died at Fasque. With Lady Gladstone 
there remain Miss Mary and John Robert, who succeeded 
to the estates and titles, at the death of his father on the 
20th of March, 1889. Sir John was born in London on the 
26th April, 1852, and this auspicious event was duly 
celebrated by a festive meeting of the tenantry and others 
in the Ramsay Arms Hotel. After receiving a liberal 
education, and attaining his majority in 1873, Sir John 
entered the Coldstream Guards, and served in the 
Egyptian campaign of 1882, being present at Tel-el-Kebir, 
and also in the Soudan expedition of 1885. He was 
promoted to the rank of captain, but on his succession to 
the Baronetcy he resigned his commission ; and now, 
residing for the most part at Fasque, he worthily follows in 
his father's footsteps. 

118 Fetter cairn. 

Chapter XVII. 


OF the lands and Barony of Disclune the earliest existing 
record is dated 1359, when the rents of Durrysclune 
were rendered by William the Keith, Sheriff of Kincardyn. 
An entry appears, one hundred years later, in 1456, bearing 
that a precept of sasine of the feu farm of Dusclune was 
made to Alexander Stratoun, Sheriff of Kincardyn ; and 
another, in 1471, that, with others of lands in the Mearns, was 
granted to John de Strauchachtin of Thorntoun. In 1503, 
a charter of the same was granted to Alexander Straton 
of Lauriston and Elizabeth Ogstoun of Eglismaldys 
(Inglismaldie), and, in 1506, James IV. confirmed this 
grant to Alexander Straton and Agnes Ogilvy his wife, 
naming the lands of " Aurinhall, Discluny, Inche," &c., and 
a croft of land in the town of Kincardine. About 1527 
some change of ownership took place, and Robert Bruce, 
Sheriff of Kincardine, accounted for the rents of Disclune. 
In 1580 Alexander Straton, heir of George Straton, was 
infefted in the barony and lands. In 161 5. a Robert 
Gardyne, son and heir of Thomas Gardyne of Blairton, 
was returned in the lands of Chapel ton as part of Arnhall. 
In 1631 Alexander, son of John Straton of Lauriston, had, 
in addition to the lands and barony of Newdosk and the 
advocation or church patronage of Fettercairn, a charter 
of Disclune, the peat moss, the mills, and salmon fishings 
on the North Esk, at a valuation entry of £12; also, the 

Uisclune, Aruhall cuid Tlve Biinc. 119 

Villa (town) de Chapelton, entry 5 merks 12 pence; the 
lands and fishings of Daledis, of Steelstrath, and common ty 
in Moor of Luther, entry 5m. 20d. Besides the Woodtons, 
all these lands shortly thereafter became the property of 
David, first Earl of Southesk; and at his death in 1658 
he was succeeded by his son and heir James, the second 
Earl, whose sister Magdalene married the Marquis of 
Montrose. James went in 1639 with his brother-in-law 
Montrose to enforce the Covenant upon the people of 
Aberdeen, and, as quaintly described by Spalding, they, 
with the other commanding officers, squatted on the links ; 
the army of 9000 men encamping round about. Eobert, 
third Earl of Southesk, succeeded in 1669, but two years 
previous his cousin, David Earl of Northesk, was retoured 
in the lands of Dalladies, Steelstrath, and the Moor of 
Luther. In 1688 Charles, fourth Earl of Southesk, 
succeeded his father as heir of the said lands, including the 
Hill of Dalladies, the peat mosses, grazings, mills, and 
fishings on the North Esk. According to the Southesk 
Rental Book, 1691 to 1710 inclusive, in possession of the 
Earl of Southesk, the barony of Arnhall consisted of the 
following farms : — " Mayns, Milne Eye of Disclune, and 
Milne Lands, Inch, Chapeltoune and Hill of Dillydyes, 
Bogge-side, Moss-end, Dean-Strath, Steill-Strath, Tilly- 
togles, Burne, Satyre, and Wood-Myres." The number 
of tenants on these was nearly seventy ; and the gross 
rental amounted to 185 bolls, 2 firlots, 2 pecks and 3 
lippies bear ; 296 bolls, 3 pecks meal ; £906 Os. 8d. Scots ; 
74^ capons, 65 hens, and 440 poultry. In 1700 James, 
the fifth Earl, entered into possession of the Southesk 
estates. He joined the Rebellion of 1715 and fought at 
the battle of Sheriffmuir, being the hero of the Jacobite 
ballad, "The Piper o' Dundee." He fled to France, and 
died there in 1730. His wife. Lady Margaret Stewart, 
daughter of the Earl of Galloway, had an allowance off 

120 Fettercahifi, 

the forfeited estates for herself and her infant son, who 
died young. In 1716 the estates were purchased for 
£51,549 stg. by the Thames Water York Buildings Co. 
On the death of James, fifth Earl, his cousin Sir James* 
Carnegie of Pittarrow, at the age of thirteen, became male 
representative, and but for the act of attainder would have 
been sixth Earl. His cousin Andrew Fletcher of Salton 
(Lord Milton) and Sir Alexander Eamsay of Balmain were 
his guardians, and they took means to secure his being 
brought up a loyal subject, although against the wishes 
of the Countess dowager, a Jacobite. In his behalf they 
memorialised Sir Robert Walpole, Chancellor of the 
Exchequer, and represented that in 1690 his grandfather 
Sir David Carnegie of Pittarrow had, by a Commission of 
the Privy Council, raised and armed a company of 400 
men, with which he defeated the Highland rebels assembled 
at Cuttieshillock ; after which the Highlanders reassembled, 
to the number of 3000, came down upon Sir David, 
plundered his house, robbed his tenants, and laid waste the 
lands of Pittarrow. In consideration of these losses, he 
was partially compensated by Government. Sir James 
was served heir and successor to his father in 1735, and 
through the excellent management of Lord Milton he was 
able, after the insolvency of the York Buildings Co., to 
purchase a large part of the Southesk estates. Arnhall was 
held on lease and occupied for a few years by Sir James, 
in succession to a previous occupier, Robert Stewart,. 
Provost of Aberdeen. From 1741 till his death in 1765 
he was Member of Parliament for Kincardineshire. In a 
letter to Lord Milton, in 1742, he wrote, "That catching 
fish in the river at Arnhall would have been a better trade 
than supporting a decayed administration is like to be,, 
at least for this session." He entered the army as a 
captain iif 1744, and in the following year served in 
Flanders, was at the battle of Fonteno}^ and afterwards 

Disduiie^ Arnliall and The Burn, 121 

with the Duke of Cumberland at Culloden; while hi& 
younger brother George of Pittarrow fought there on tha 
side of the Pretender. In 1752 he married Christian^ 
daughter of Dbig of Cookston, Provost of Brechin. She 
survived till 1820, and died at Montrose, at the age of ninety- 
one. Towards the end of his career Sir James interested 
himself in the promotion of two famous lawyers. Lord 
Gardenstone and Lord Monboddo. Another intimate friend 
was Robert Barclay of Urie, the well-known agriculturist. 
On one occasion, in 1761, Barclay rode to Montrose to see 
Sir James before leaving for London ; but having missed 
him, he wrote a characteristic letter, of which the concluding 
words were: — "I humbly join you. Sir James, in your 
prayer that we both be delivered from trials, lawyers, 
doctors, and from having dealings with unreasonable men." 
Sir James was succeeded by his son Sir David Carnegie, 
grandfather of the present Earl of Southesk. He bought 
Arnhall and The Burn, in 1779, for £7300; and, in 1780, 
sold The Burn section, lying north of the Gannochy Bridge 
road, to Lord Adam Gordon; and in 1796, Arnhall for 
£22,500 to Alexander Brodie, who had amassed a fortune 
in India. He was the third son of James Brodie of Spynie, 
Sheriff-Depute of Moray. Sir David Carnegie was from 
1784 to 1796 Member of Parliament for the Montrose 
district of burghs, which then included Aberdeen ; and in 
later years, till his death in 1805, he represented the 
county of Forfar. A kinsman, Captain John Carnegie of 
Tarrie and Seaton, still retained the right, till his death 
in 1 880, to vote in county elections, as a nominal freeholder 
of Denstrath. In the early decades of the century the 
old people of the parish spoke with kindly feelings and 
pleasant memories of the Carnegie lairds and families. 

Lord Adam Gordon, fourth son of Alexander, second 
Duke of Gordon, purchased the Wood tons, as already 
stated, from Captain Forbes of Balfour in 1774; and The 

122 Fetter cairn. 

Burn from Sir David Carnegie in 1780. For both together 
"he paid £5250, the annual rent being £113 lis. lljd. 
For The Burn the price w^as said to be £300, and the rent 
100 merks Scotch or £5 lis. l^d. sterling. His lordship 
-entered the army in 1746, and was promoted to a captaincy 
of the 3rd Foot Guards in 1755; was in the unfortunate 
■expedition of General Bligh to France in 1758, and greatly 
distinguished himself in that campaign. He next became 
Colonel of the 66th Regiment of Foot, and served for 
several years in America. On his return home he was 
entrusted by the colonists with a statement of their 
grievances, which he laid before the Secretaries of State. 
In 1775 he was appointed Colonel of the 26th, or Cam- 
eronian Regiment; and in 1782 the governor of Teign- 
mouth Castle. Lord Adam sat in Parliament for many 
years, having been first returned for the county of 
Aberdeen in 1754, He represented Kincardineshire from 
1774 till 1788, when he vacated his seat, and in the 
following year was appointed to the command of the forces 
in Scotland, and took up his residence in Holyrood Palace. 
In 1798 he resigned the command in favour of Sir Ralph 
Abercromby, retired to The Burn House, which he built in 
1791, and there he died suddenly on 13th August, 1801, 
from violent inflammation, produced by drinking lemonade 
while overheated. His wife was Jane Drummond of 
Megginch, widow of James, the second Duke of AthoU, 
she who jilted the gifted Dr. Austin of Edinburgh, and is 
the heroine of his song— 

*' For lack of gold she left me, O ! 
And of all that 's dear bereft me, O ! 
For Athole's Duke she me forsook, 
And to endless care has left me, O ! 

Her Grace died at Holyrood in 1795. When Lord 
Adam took possession of The Burn, the lands were in the 

124 Fettei'cairn. 

wildest state of barrenness. The whole was an expanse of 
bare heath, without a single tree or any semblance of 
cultivation ; the gravelly soil and water- worn stones show- 
ing that, in ages far remote, the river, now confined to its^ 
deep and rocky bed, overflowed the surface. For twenty 
years his lordship went steadily on with his operations ; 
planted 526 acres of ground, converted much of the moor 
into arable land, and so completely changed the appearance 
and increased the value that it became a subject of wonder 
how so much could have been effected in so short a time. 
With much good taste the rocky banks of the river were 
thickly planted ; the opposite side, on the Panmure estate^* 
to the extent of ninety acres, was planted simply for 
ornament. The gravel walks, winding along the side and 
through the rocks overhanging the river, were formed at 
great expense; and from them the combined beauties of 
wooded cliffs and running water may be seen to advantage.. 
Let the reader refer to the descriptive quotation from 
Her Majesty's Journal ; and, at the same time, ponder over 
the fact that Lord Adam never dreamt his walks would 
ever be trodden by a " throned monarch," by a queen of 
these realms — the greatest of earth's sovereigns. This- 
account of Lord Adam's improvements may best be 
summed up in the following words of Robertson, in hi& 
Survey of Kincardineshire, written by him early in the 
century : — " Comparing The Burn in its original state with 
the splendid appearance which it now makes, with it& 
dignified mansion, extensive groves, beautiful lawns,, 
elegant walks, shrubbery, gardens, vistas, lakes, etc., we 
might fancy ourselves almost transported into fairyland, or 
treading the regions of romance. It is a dreary desert 
made an Arcadian grove." 

The following anecdote about Lord Adam and one of his 
workmen may be here related. A group of his riverside 
labourers were in the habit of taking a short siesta in their 

Disclic7ie, Arnhall and The Burn. 125 

work hours, and of setting one of their number to watch 
any approach of his lordship. On a certain day the man 
appointed also fell asleep at his post. Lord Adam came 
xiown npon him, and taking in the situation, said : " You 
are a faithful sentry. Had you been a soldier under me in 
the army, and falling asleep on the watch, I would have 
«ent you to be shot ; but in this case I can only dismiss 
yoa Go, therefore, from my service." 

On the death of Lord Adam Gordon, the estate, so 
greatly improved, was sold for £20,000, including £1000 
for household furniture, to Mr Brodie of Arnhall. He 
carried on the improvements begun by Lord Adam, 
reclaimed some 400 acres of moor and moss land, built 500 
roods of stone dykes, planted 200 acres of waste ground, 
and formed five miles of roads, one of which is the " Lang 
Straucht" leading from the North Water Bridge towards 
•Glenesk. By his wife, a daughter of the Honourable James 
Wemyss of Wemyss Castle, he had a daughter, Elizabeth, 
to whom he left the estates, and who became the wife of 
the fifth and last Duke of Gordon, who died in 1836, and 
whose statue stands in Castle Street, Aberdeen. The 
widowed duchess piously devoted her life to works of faith 
and labours of love. John Shand, a West India merchant, 
purchased the estates of The Burn and Arnhall, in 1814, 
for £70,000, and continued the improvements effected by 
his predecessors. In 1818 he began operations on the 
moss of Arnhall. He cut the large drain called the 
"Muckle ditch," 2^ miles long, 9 feet deep, 18 feet wide 
at top and 4| at bottom, as well as many smaller drains 
running into it at right angles. Upwards of 600 cartloads 
•of gravel per acre were mixed with the moss to make a 
proper soil ; and thus more than 200 acres of waste ground 
were converted into productive land. The belts of wood 
that now adorn the district were planted, and the roads 
that run alongside were also made. Mr Shand died in 

126 Fetter cairn. 

1825, and was buried in the Arnhall enclosure of Fetter- 
cairn churchyard. He was succeeded by a brother^ 
William Shand, who married, in 1827, Christina Innes of 
Dyce. From the failure of his West India business he 
became bankrupt, and the estates were purchased in 1836 
by Captain, afterwards Major, William M'Inroy of the 
91st Eregiment, now the Argyleshire Highlanders, and he 
latterly ranked as Lieut. -Colonel of the Kincardineshire 
Volunteers. He was the second son of James M*Inroy of 
Lude, and married Harriet-Barbara, elder daughter of 
E. Isaac, Esq., banker, of Boughton, Worcester. She 
predeceased him on 2nd July, 1890, leaving a memory 
cherished for quiet and unostentatious acts of kindness and 
charity. Colonel M*Inroy was one of the most respected 
gentlemen of the Mearns. His genial and kindly dispo- 
sition endeared him to all with whom he was brought in 
contact. His own saying that "He beat his sword into- 
a ploughshare'' was truly verified by his diligence as a 
practical manager of his home farms, and by the setting 
of a good example to his tenants, who regarded him as a 
kind and liberal landlord. He took a deep interest in the 
business of the Fettercairn Farmers' Club, of which he was 
many times president. In appreciation of his services and 
his zeal as an agricultural improver, the members and 
others subscribed and presented him with a valuable piece 
of silver plate, at the Christmas meeting of the Club in 
1849. It is interesting to note that the presentation was- 
made in a long and eloquent speech by Mr W. E. Gladstone, 
who at the time had been on one of his visits to Fasque. In 
parish and county business the Colonel took a leading part. 
He was for twenty-one years chairman of the Fettercairn 
School Board, for thirty years convener of the County of 
Kincardine, and also for the seventeen years to his death 
Vice-Lieutenant of the County. He was a promoter of 
The Burn and Fettercairn Curling Club already noticed y 

1 28 Fettercairn, 

;and continued till far advanced in years to be a keen curler. 
He died universally regretted on 29th April, 1896, at the 
age of ninety-one, and was buried beside- his wife in the 
lonely old kirkyard of Newdosk on the Braes of Balfour. 
He left the estates to his nephew, Colonel Charles M*Inroy, 
CJ.B., of the Indian Staff Coi-ps, who with his wife, the 
-eldest daughter of the late Alexander Hamilton, Esq., W.S., 
Edinburgh, and their family, reside at The Burn House. 


A barren moorland, about thirty acres in extent, on the 
•south side of the parish, formerly a part of Mary kirk 
Parish, but recently annexed to Fettercairn, formed a 
detached portion of The Burn estate. In 1852 Colonel 
M*Inroy sold it to William Airth, a retired ship captain, 
residing in Arbroath. On taking possession, he trenched 
and drained the land and brought it into a fair state of 
•cultivation. He carried on a brick- work for a few years 
on a corner of the ground. Besides a farmhouse and 
offices, a smithy and one or two dwelling-houses were also 
erected. Mr Airth gave the place the name of Primrose- 
hill ; but, in reference to its original barrenness, some of 
liis waggish neighbours dubbed him " The Heather Laird,*' 
and he himself humorously owned the title. At his death, 
in September, 1872, he left the property to his nephew, 
William Airth, M.A., Accountant, Manchester, now residing 
^t Lochlands, Arbroath. 

iMlluiieH. 129 

Chapter XVIII. 


IN the thirteenth century the lands of Delany, probably 
Dullachy and now Dalladies, were owned by Trembleys, 
or Turnbulls as they are now •called. But at a later period 
and down to the eighteenth century, the lands of Dalladies 
were included in the grants of Balfour and Disclune to the 
Stratons of Lauriston, and after them to the Earls of 
Southesk. After 1715, and the forfeiture of the Arnhall 
estate, the lands of Dalladies appear to have been acquired 
by an old family, the Turnbulls of Stracathro. In 1718 
John Turnbull of Stracathro was served heir to his father, 
also John, in the property of Dalladies. According to a 
Presbytery Minute of 1747, George Turnbull, W.S., 
Edinburgh, was then proprietor, and probably a son of the 
former. His wife was a distant relation of the celebrated 
Charles James Fox. Their son Alexander, afterwards 
known as the Rev. Alexander Turnbull, LL.D., born in 
1748, succeeded, while yet a minor, to his father's property. 
Lord Gardens tone acted as his guardian. At his first 
outset he was apprenticed to Mr Walter Scott, W.S., 
father of Sir Walter Scott ; but not relishing the profession 
of law, he studied for the Episcopal Church, was admitted 
to orders, and appointed curate successively of two parishes 
in Northumberland. The preferment to a rectory, through 
Mr Fox, was declined because he would not take the 

130 Fettercairn, 

customary oath required before induction. He retired 

into private life, residing in London, and latterly at 

Alnwick. His income from his estate was of limited 

amount ; but being a man of frugal habits, his practice was 

in accordance with his jocular saying, "That he always 

took care to keep £6 between him and the devil." From 

his early introduction into good society, about the middle 

of last century. Dr. Turnbull was in dress, habits and 

manners, a gentleman of the "olden time." Though 

somewhat eccentric he was highly esteemed for sterling 

integrity of principle and never-failing charity. His fund 

of amusing anecdotes and interesting information regarding 

the past gained him the friendship of some of the most 

eminent men of his time ; and specially among others, the 

Hon. William Maule (afterwards Lord Panmure), who, in 

his journeys to and from London, never failed to call upon 

him at Alnwick. On the occasion of a general election, he 

was asked to support a certain candidate for the county 

of Kincardine. He refused on the ground that the same 

gentleman had challenged Mr Fox to fight a duel; but 

consented upon receiving from Sir Alexander Ramsay 

Irvine a guarantee of the following conditions, viz. : "If 

the candidate were returned for the county he would, in 

his place in Parliament, vote against war and oppression 

of every kind, both at home and abroad, and against 

iniquity and injustice, whenever such might be attempted.*' 

On the publication of " Kay's Edinburgh Portraits," he, as 

one of the subjects, instead of taking offence like some others 

at the freedom used, purchased a large number of copies 

for distribution among his friends; but remarked that 

" the artist had represented him wearing unblackened shoes ; 

whereas his shoes were daily cleaned and blackened ! " To 

his tenants he was liberal and indulgent ; and although in 

many things he required strictness and punctuality, yet he 

never exacted from them more than they were able to pay 

Drumhendry atid Capo. 131 

for their lands. He died at Alnwick in 1831, in the eighty- 
fourth year of his age ; and was succeeded in the estates 
of Dalladies and Gassindonald in Fife by his grandniece 
Miss Margaret Turnbull Eobertson, to whom a Curator 
Bonis was appointed in 1846. She died in 1893, and a 
third cousin, Colonel George W. M. Turnbull of the Royal 
Artillery, and his nieces, the Misses Turnbull of the Priory, 
Torquay, are now conjoint owners of the estates. 


The lands of Drumhendry or Drumry, and probably 
those of Capo, from 1467 to 1520 were owned by William 
Livingstone, supposed to be of the Livingstones of 
Dunipace. The lands of Balm ake wan and Luthra were 
also his property. About a century later, Kilnhill and 
Bent, in the parish of Laurencekirk, were owned by a 
James Livingstone. In a charter of lands, already quoted, 
to John Wood of Balbegno, in 1512, Drumry was included, 
but how long in possession of the Woods is uncertain. In 
1636 Andrew Raitt was served heir to his father, David, 
principal of King's College, Aberdeen, in the lands of 
Balmakewan ; and it is supposed that Drumhendry formed 
a part of his property, because, in 1702 and 1703, Colonel 
Robert Rait appears in the presbytery records as heritor 
of Drumhendry. About 1675 Alexander, the second Lord 
Falconer of Haulkerton, became proprietor of Capo, and 
probably of Drumhendry, about 1 675. Alexander the fourth 
lord died in 1727, and was the last that occupied the 
Castle of Haulkerton; after which Inglismaldie became 
the family seat. In 1778 George, Earl Marischal, died, 
and Anthony Adrian, the eighth Lord Falconer, succeeded 
to the estate of Kintore, as well as to the title of Earl of 
Kintore, which Earl Marischal had never assumed; and 

132 Fetter cairn, 

the family surname was changed to Keith-Falconer. 
Drumhendry and Capo have continued in possession of the 
family; and the present noble Lord Algernon Hawkins 
Thomond, who was born in 1852, and succeeded his father, 
Francis-Alexander, in 1880, is the tenth in succession. 
He married in 1873 Lady Sidney-Charlotte Montagu, 
daughter of George, sixth Duke of Manchester. The 
eldest son and heir-apparent is Ian-Douglas Montagu, 
Lord Inverurie, who was born in 1877. 

part ifourtb* 


Chapter XIX. 


ROMAN ROAD. The old Roman road, through Strath- 
more from the Tay to the Dee, crossed the North 
Esk at the Kingsford (a modern name), and passed through 
the south and east side of the parish. Traces of Roman 
works remain on the farms of Dalladies and Capo, probably 
for a temporary station of the army when crossing the 
river, and held by some to be the station of Tina. From 
this point the road extended along the drier ridges of 
Drumhendry and past Causewayend, on the line marked 
by the " Cattle Raik " or ** Cowpers' Avenue," still seen at 
Bentycrook ; whence the route was direct to the camp at 
Mains of Fordoun. Dr. William Don, in his elaborate 
Archceological Notes, makes the Roman Iter pass through 
the parish of Marykirk, with a branch to Kincardine 
Castle. If so, what of Causewayend 1 which means the end 
of some stone-paved roadway over the adjoining bog, and 
made, as supposed, only by the Roman legions. 

134 Fetter cairn. 

Hill of Esslie. This height, now crowned by its 
stately beeches, was no doubt in ancient times a site of 
importance. Alongside the Roman road it might form an 
outpost. Except a few boulders lying about, nothing is 
left to indicate whether any house or castle stood there. 
But tradition reports that there was an old castle and a 
garden. It may have been in the fifteenth century the local 
residence of the Livingstones of Drumhendry. According 
to the Memmanda of the late James Middleton Paton of 
Montrose, his ancestor, Andrew Middleton of Pitgarvie 
and Balbegno, factor on the Middleton estates, resided 
at Esslie. And midway between it and Balbegno stood 
the old house of Balmain {the Midtovm), which, according 
to a vague tradition, communicated by an underground 
passage with Balbegno, and had its site on the rising 
ground east of the present farmhouse, where its founda- 
tions were come upon at the trenching of the field about 
eighty years ago. 

Greencairn. The Castle of Greencairn, previously 
noticed as the residence of Fenella, was originally an 
ancient fort, erected at a very early period, probably by 
the first of the Celtic race that peopled the land, at their 
invasion of western Europe. Like some other strongholds 
of the same character, and partly like that on the hill 
of Finhaven, it consisted of a central building with vitrified 
walls, and an outer surrounding rampart or erection of dry 
stones, enclosing a wide open-air space, and affording 
protection and security to the indwellers and their goods 
in times of danger. At such times, communication, by 
means of beacon fires as signals of alarm, could be held 
with all the hill-forts within view in Angus and Mearns. 
In these two counties the only other vitrified fort is that 
of Finhaven, and the reason may be that upon the other 
hills fire-wood was scarce or the stones were not sufficiently 

Antiquities aiid Old Buildings, 135 

iusible. At Greencairn some scattered fragments of its 
walls may still be seen. Parts of these walls, in the early 
years of the century, stood a foot or two above the surface; 
but they soon shared the fate of other old castle walls; 
they were quarried by some local Goths and Vandals for 
stones to build dykes and farm steadings. The huge stone 
ramparts of Catterthun escaped demolition only because 
they were too far up the hill and too difficult to remove. 
In Chalmers's Caledonia the ruins of Greencairn, as in 1798, 
are described, and their dimensions are given, from a report 
by James Strachan, gardener to Lord Adam Gordon, as 
follows : — 

" It is of an oval form, and is surrounded by two raniparts. The 
outer rampart is built with dry-stone, without any lime or mortar, 
^nd without the least mark of any tool ; and under the foundation 
are found ashes of burnt wood. The space betwixt the outer and 
inner ramparts measures 93 feet 9 inches. The inner wall is 30 feet 
thick, and has ail undergone the operation of vitrification. The area 
within this is 140 feet long ; 67 ft. 6 in. broad at the east end ; and 
52 ft. 6 in. broad at the west end. The elevation (of the site) on 
the north side is about 40 feet, and fully 60 feet on the south side, 
where it is all wet, mossy ground." 

Additional information regarding the ruins of Fenella's 
Castle is furnished by means of an unpublished letter of 
Sir Walter Scott, written after his visit to Dunnottar and 
Fettercairn in 1796, and addressed to the Rev. Mr Walker, 
minister of Dunnottar. His son-in-law and biographer, 
J. G. Lockhart, states that " the visit was to the residence 
of the lady who had now for so many years been the object 
of his attachment '^ ; and alludes to the said letter, which is 
now in possession of Miss Paterson of Birkwood, Banchory, 
who has graciously favoured the writer of these pages with 
a perusal and the liberty to enter it here verbatim, as 
follows : — 

136 Fetter cairn. 

"My Dear Sir, 

**I take my first moment of disengagement to let you 
know the result of my enquiries at Lady Finella's Castle, which is- 
in my opinion at least decidedly in favour of Tytler's opinion. 
I was detained at Fettercairn House by the hospitality of Sir John 
and Lady Jane two or three days longer than I expected, from 
which you will easily guess Miss Belsches was recovered and able 
to see company. Thus I had plenty of time on my hands, which I 
employed in causing two labourers begin at the ring or vallum 
immediately without the main compact, and cut down till they 
came decisively to the original soiL This outer embankment I 
found to consist of a mound of stones of no very considerable size, 
none of which, as far as I could perceive, had suffered from fire, 
tho' I have upon this as well as several other occasions to regret 
my want of chemical and mineralogical knowledge sufficient to 
enable me to decide with certainty. We then continued opening 
our trench, still digging down to the soil, till we came to the very 
foundation of the main and innermost Bulwark. You may guess 
my satisfaction when on laying this bare I found the most 
unequivocal marks of human industry. It consists of oblong flat 
stones from 4 to 6 feet long, piled above each other to the height 
of about 4 feet and breadth of 3, with symmetry more exact than 
could have been expected. This foundation formed a kind of 
casing within which were piled, apparently by the hand, large 
bullet stones, which, I presume, were prevented from spreading 
inwards by a similar pile of large flat stones corresponding to that 
on the outside, and thus a firm foundation had been obtained for 
the mound to be raised above, which, as far as it now remains,, 
consists of Bullets, etc. , diminishing gradually in size to the very 
top. Upon all this mass the effect of fire was very visible, and at 
the bottom I found quantities of charcoal, but these effects were 
much less remarkable below, and appeared more and more strong 
upon the higher stones till you came to the top, where the mass- 
was completely vitrified. Thus the whole was probably con- 
structed as follows : First two walls of large flat stones were 
erected parallel to each other at a distance corresponding to the 
height of rampart, of which this was to be the base ; that rampart 
I take to have been composed of branches of trees and stones, the 
latter gradually diminishing in size from that of the large round 
bullets which occupied the interval between the two casing walls 
of the foundation to a size which could be more conveniently raised 
to the height of the top of the mound. Supposing such a fabric to 

Antiquities and Old Buildings, 137 

be surrounded by 3 or 4 external ramparts of loose stones, it 
w<* compose such a fortification as I take the fort of Balbegno to* 
have been when entire. Again supposing it to have been stormed 
and set on fire, it is obvious that the lower part being composed of" 
huge stones would suffer little from the heat, that the middle 
would suffer more, and that the stones composing the uppermost 
part of the mass would, if their substance admitted it, be actually 
vitrified, both from their size and situation, the fire always- 
Operating upwards, for the same reason what charcoal found its^ 
way to the bottom of the mass would not be totally consumed ; and 
thus I account for the appearances I have detailed above. My 
works are already almost filled up with rubbish and some of the- 
foundation stones carried ofi*, but I am convinced you will find 
upon examination that the appearances are uniform. 

** I am dying to hear about the Well at Dunottar, &c., &c., &c. 
I am likewise anxious about my old Ballads ; and I hope you will 
add to the many favours I have already to acknowledge, that of 
writing me very soon. My address is Georges Square, Edin'- 
Compliments to Mess" Logic and Wood. I hope they do not faint- 
in the good work ; if so, I refer them to you for strength and 

*' I have visited a beautiful ruin called Eagle (Edzell) Castle, and 
was delighted. I have seen Caterthun, and was astonished. 

" I hope this will find your whole famille from Nelly to Macgriegar 
inclusive in good health. Meantime, we do most strictly charge 
you and command to keep an account of the Well expenditure, and 
transmitt it to us for a settlement of Accot" ; and so we bid you 
heartily farewell. 

"Given from our Inn at Kinross the sixth day of May, jaivii*' ^ 
(1700) and ninety-six years. 

"Walter Scott." 

The accompanying fac-simile illustration of the fourth 
page shows how letters were folded and addressed on the 
back before the invention of envelopes. The fig. "5"^ 
stands for fivepence — as the postage from Kinross to Stone- 
haven to be paid by the receiver. 

^Tbis contraction, for 1700, is in the old style of date writing and 
stands for i=one thousand, ai=anni (years), and m<'=seven hundred. 

-^li^*« ^%«^ |iu/a^ A-^^-M^.^-^^.^ „^^ ^J^ ^^..^ -«^9 

3^ ^i^.^^^ 


Antiquities and Old Buildings. 139 

Of F«nella'8 Castle after the murder of Kenneth, the 
only record is that of John de Fordun, who relates that 
■^^the King's companions, missing him, broke into the 
house, and finding that he was murdered, consumed the 
iotvn with fire, and reduced it to ashes." Whether the 
castle was ever afterwards restored or occupied is a matter 
of conjecture. The two hundred years that elapsed before 
the grant of Balbegno lands by William the Lion to 
Ranulph the Falconer are a complete blank in the history. 
Oreencairn as a residence was very likely doomed, and, 
instead of it, Balbegno, or the little new tovm, became the 
manor-place. Other three hundred years elapsed before 
the building of Balbegno Castle ; and whether, during those 
five centuries, the seat of the feudal superiors was at 
Oreencairn, Balbegno, or elsewhere, cannot now be deter- 

Balbegno Castle. The date 1669, the figures of two 
males and one female, the inscription "I. Wod and E. 
Irvein " below a shield with the Wood and Irvine arms, 
all on a carved panel above the highest front window of 
Balbegno Castle, show that it was erected in the time of 
John, the second of the Woods, proprietors of Balbegno 
And Thanes of Fettercairn. The building, which has been 
kept in good preservation and recently repaired by Sir 
John E. Gladstone, is a fine specimen of the old baronial 
style, four storys high with double oblong roof and an 
open bartizan along the top and around its east side and 
corner. Upon the bartizan are three medallion heads, one 
male with hat, and two females ; and upon other parts of 
the walls are several shields with arms, possibly those of 
the founders of the castle. Over a side door of the garden 
is the male bust, already described alongside its illustration, 
supposed to represent the famous Admiral Wood, but it had 
210 doubt a more honourable place on the east front of 

140 Fetiercairn. 

the castle, and must have been removed by the Ogilvys when, 
in 1795, they built the plain and homely addition, commo- 
dious enough as a dwelling, but which spoils considerably 
the original building from the covering up of the principal 
front entrance. Some stones bearing the Wood and 
Barclay arms were also removed and carried to Caldhame, 
where they may be seen stuck up in the wall of an 
outhouse. All the figures on the castle are boldly carved 
in freestone, and in the style of the famous "Stirling 
Heads." As Thanes of Fettercairn, the Woods bore, in 
addition to their paternal coat of an oak tree, two keys 
fastened to a branch. The walls of the building being fiye^ 
or six feet in thickness and pierced with loopholes, are 
significant of the times when it was built. The most 
striking internal feature is the large hall with its groined 
freestone roof and ornaments, some grotesque and others 
floral, one of which bears the Irvine arms. The ceiling 
has two shields, one with the Scotch lion and the other 
with the Wood arms. The sixteen vaulted compartments 
held mural paintings of the coats and mantlings of as 
many Scotch peers. Damp and decay have defaced the 
most of them, and have obliterated the very names and 
titles, which may be noted as follows : — Over the door on 
the right is, 1, Lauderdale or Wemyss(?); 2, blank; 
3, Montrose; 4, (1); 5, Erie of Orkney ; 6, Gordon (1); 
7, Erie of Murray; 8, blank; 9 and 10, blank. On the 
south side, 11, Both well; 12, Argyle ; 13, Crawford; 
14, Errol; 15, Eglinton ; and 16, blank. Every feudal 
castle had its dungeon; and so had Balbegno its dark 
underground cell, entered from a back passage by a massive 
wooden door of oak studded with large-headed iron nails^ 
which, with its heavy bolts and strong locks, defied any 
attempts to escape of the poor wretches therein immured. 
Every old castle had likewise its Motehill (Mod, a court), 
where the feudal baron held his court and judged all civil 

142 Fetter mirn. 

and criminal cases arising in his own district. This 
heritable right of jurisdiction was abolished after the 
Rebellion of 1745. Criminal offenders were executed — 
the men by hanging on the Motehills, now known as 
"Gallowhills," and the women by drowning in the Mort- 
tounrholes, or " Muttonholes " as these are now called. The 
Motehill of Balbegno was the "Tod-hillock" of our day 
{Taed, Saxon, death) — the wooded knoll on the roadside 
between Balbegno and Greencairn. It was no doubt the 
tribunal hill of the district during the long ages that 
preceded the erection of Balbegno Castle and the sway of 
the Woods. The Muttonhole was in the springy hollow 
of the field above the present high road, and about a 
hundred yards right across the same from the Tod-hillock. 
Thirty years ago, a group of old cottar houses, formerly 
croftsteads, on the same spot were cleared off for the plough. 
They were known as "Muttonhole." The "Taed'sNest" 
(hangman's dwelling) was the name of a small croft and 
homestead razed out about the same time. It occupied 
the adjacent roadside corner of the park nearer the castle. 
" Randall's Knap," east of the village, as already noticed^ 
may have been Earl Middleton's motehill. 

Balfour House. The old house of Balfour, which 
stood on the spot now occupied by the present farm 
steading, was a plain two-story edifice, of large dimensions, 
and was built, as supposed, by the Stratons, proprietors, 
in the seventeenth century. After the estate was sold to 
Sir Alexander Ramsay Irvine, the house, somewhat 
antiquated and with no tenant, fell out of repairs, and, in 
1809, was pulled down for its stones to the building of 
Fasque House. The strongly built walls had to be blasted 
with gunpowder. 

Fasque old Mansion-House. The flat space, west of 

Antiquities and Old Buildings. 145 

Fasque House, now laid out as a bowling green and flower 
garden, was the site of the old mansion-house and offices. 
They are quaintly described, as in 1780, by Francis 
Douglas in his East Coast of Scotland^ thus \-^ 

'* Fasque House stands a long way distant from the main entry,, 
and is partly eclipsed by a large group, nearly in front, of old 
Gothic buildings, churches, abbeys, &c. As the antiquary 
approaches, with reverence and high expectations, how cruelly 
is he disappointed to find them a mockery ! Mere patchwork on 
the ends and sidewalls of common offices ! ' What an indignity,' 
he is apt to exclaim, * is here offered to the venerable remains of 
antiquity ! O ye sacred retreats of virtue and purity, in whose 
j)eaceful groves wisdom and science walked hand in hand ; shall 
even your shadows be thus dishonoured by the breath of clowns 
and bellowing of oxen.' Chagrined by this disappointment, it is 
well if he does not mistake a fine octagonal tower which lifts its 
head above the trees, on an adjacent mount, for a pasteboard cage. 
The house fronts south, and makes three sides of a square ; there 
are many good apartments in it, especially the dining-room and 
library. Just by the west end, there is a den or hollow, with a 
Chinese bridge thrown over it, and a small brook in the bottom. 
It is planted and laid out in serpentine gravel walks. The house 
is well sheltered on all quarters, especially on the north and 
north-west. " 

Balnakettle House. The old house of Balnakettle 
stood, where some old trees remain, some distance east of 
and nearer the burn than the present farmhouse. Of its^ 
appearance, as a proprietary dwelling in the early part of 
last century, nothing is now known. 

144 Fetter 


Chapter XX. 


MARKET CROSS. The Market Cross of Fettercairn— 
an object of much interest — stands in the village 
square upon a flight of six concentric octagonal steps, each 
one foot in height, which have been several l^imes renewed. 
The shaft, octagonal, fixed into the top base, is, with its 
surmounting capital, ten feet in height. It has on one 
side a line cut out, 3 feet 1 J inches long, representing the 
Scotch ell ; and into another side is inserted an iron ring 
and links, to which the old instruments of punishment 
called the jougs were fastened. The jougs consisted of 
an iron collar placed round the neck of the offender, with 
another part called the branks — a sort of cage over the 
head with a piece entering the mouth to silence and punish 
scolds and termagants, who had there to suffer the vile 
indignities of the multitude. Outside the doors of many 
old parish churches the fixings of the jougs, and of the 
stocks for the feet, may yet be seen. The marks of wear 
on the shaft of the cross bear evidence of frequent use. 
The capital is four-sided, and has on the west side the arms 
of the founder, John, first Earl of Middleton, which were 
a lion rampant within a double tressure ; and on the east 
side, his coroneted initials. On the south side is a sundial, 
and on the north the date 1670. The history of the cross 
is more or less a mystery. The popular belief is that it 
was the market cross of the old town of Kincardine, and 

Antiquities and Old Buildings. 145 

that it was removed to Fettercairn in 1730 ; but of this no 
record exists. Biscoe, in the Earls of Middletoriy asserts 
that, in 1670, the first Earl erected it in memory of his 
wife Grizel Durham. But in that very year he was 
granted a renewal of the royal licence (originally granted, 
in 1604, to Adam Hepburn and his wife Elizabeth Ogston) 
to hold markets and erect a cross in Fettercairn ; and the 
probability is that the capital bearing the date of 1670 was 
made for Fettercairn, and not for the fast-decaying town 
of Kincardine, which, as the county town previous to 1607, 
had its own cross, said to have been removed to Fettercairn 
in 1730; but whether to take the place of a shaft older 
than the present one cannot now ^ be determined. In 
any case, it looks very much older than its capital, and 
may still be the original shaft of the cross erected in 

Other crosses in the Mearns are those of Bervie, Stone- 
haven, and Mary kirk. The Mary kirk cross stood just 
within the gate of the churchyard till 1857. Some time 
thereafter the Rev. Mr M*Clure reported to a writer on 
crosses : " My predecessor wished to be interred at the spot 
where it stood, and it was thought good to remove it to 
its present stance." The same writer, a Mr Drummond, 
states that in Scotland some seventy-eight crosses remain, 
and nearly all in the eastern half of the country. Treating 
of them, he says : — 

"Crosses were no doubt originally ecclesiastical, and their 
transition from this character to their ordinary use is simple. 
In rude and lawless times, we can suppose a paction of any sort 
being considered binding if contracted at a cross with its sacred 
significance. This would perhaps be rendered doubly sure if, 
while hand-fasting, they touched with the other hand the cross. 
The place where it was situated thus becoming a place of bargain- 
making, and gradually losing its religious significance, its very 
cruciform shape disappeared, until at last it was transformed into 
the ordinary market cross." 

146 Fettercaim, 

Royal proclamations were also made at market crosses ; 
like as they are still at the cross of Edinburgh, to which 
Sir Walter Scott thus refers in Marmion : — 

'* Dun-Edin's cross of pillared stone 

Rose on a turret octagon, 
But razed is now that monument 

Whence Royal edict rang ; 
And voice of Scotland's law was sent 

In glorious trumpet clang. " 

Castle of Kincardine. Among the objects of anti- 
quarian interest remaining to be noticed are the ruins of 
the* Castle or Palace of Kincardine and its adjacent old 
town, now extinct. Although outside the boundary of the 
parish, they are in close proximity, upon the lands of 
Fettercairn estate, and within the scope of this history- 
The ruins of the castle, about IJ miles north-east of tho 
village, stand on a projecting eminence, now wooded, but 
formerly surrounded on three sides by the waters of the 
Ferdur, which were not wholly drained off at the beginning 
of the century. After the burning of the castle in 1646- 
the walls, of unknown height, became a quarry to supply 
stones for the houses, and at a later period for the field 
dykes and drains of the well-cultivated farm of Castleton. 
Seventy years ago, when the late Sir John S. Forbes 
returned from abroad to enter upon his property, he very 
properly put a stop to these proceedings. He also caused 
excavations and searches to be made in the ruins for relic& 
of the past, but none were found. According to measure- 
ments taken by the late Robert Milne, architect, and the 
writer, the walls, in some parts, stand 8 ft. high. The 
outer walls of three sides of the building, constructed on 
the sloping principle, are 10 ft. thick; and the front wall^ 
with its projecting watch towers and small-sized apartments,, 
is 20 ft. in thickness. The north and south walls are each 
130 ft. in length, with an entrance, midway in each, 8 ft. 

Antnpiities and Old Buildings. 14T 

wide. The east and west walls are each 140 ft. Along 
the interior of the east wall are two apartments 80 ft. by 
25 ft. and 18 ft. by 20 ft., and along the north wall are 
other two 55 ft. by 25 ft. and 27 ft. by 18 ft. The inner 
walls of all these apartments are 5 ft. in thickness. The 
rest of the interior formed a court or hall, 90 ft. by 82 ft. 
The sides of the great fireplace of the hall were, not long 
ago, entire, and so were the lower steps of a staircase 
leading to an upper flat, of whose extent or accommodation 
nothing is known. The time of the castle's foundation is 
likewise unknown. But the hard and hammer-dressed 
sandstones point to the time of William the Lion (1165- 
1214). Upon this elevated site, however, some kind of 
royal palace stood as early as the tenth century, when 
Kenneth III. and other kings of Scotland made history in 
the Mearns. In the reign of Alexander I. (1107-1124) it 
was a place of note ; for the first royal charter, granted by 
that king to the town of Stirling, was dated "at Kyncardyn, 
18th August, 1119." Successive sovereigns, notably 
William the Lion, Alexander III., and Robert the Bruce, 
sojourned there. Its designation in Bruce's charter of 
Auchcairnie arable lands to Sir Alexander Frazer of Cowie 
is, "Our manour of Kyncardyn." In 1296 the scroll of 
John Baliol's resignation of the crown was written there ; 
and Edward I., on his journeys to and from the north, 
lodged in the castle. In 1341, when David II. and his 
queen, returning from France, were driven ashore at Bervie, 
they betook themselves to Kincardine. Robert II. held 
his courts and juries in the castle, and issued charters 
from it dated 1371, 1375, and 1383. James IV., the 
founder of King's College, Aberdeen, and Margaret his 
queen, paid visits in 1607 and 1511. Queen Mary halted 
at Kincardine on her northern tour in 1562. By charter 
of James VI. the Strachans of Thornton occupied the 
castle from 1601 till its demolition in 1646. They likewise 

148 Fetter cairn. 

held the adjacent lands. Prior to their time the Earls 
Marischal were in possession. In 1532 James V. granted 
a charter to William the fourth earl to make the town of 
Kincardine the capital of the county. It consisted of a 
row of straggling clay -built biggins and crofters' holdings 
along the present old road from its " east port " near the 
castle, about three-quarters of a mile to the " west port " 
near Fettercairn House. For lack of proper accommoda- 
tion and for better security against Highland raiders, the 
County Courts were transferred in 1607 to Stonehaven. 
The town decayed; and in 1730 its market cross and the 
fair of St. Catherine were removed to Fettercairn. In the 
first decade of the century it was reduced to a few houses 
with about eighty inhabitants. Nothing is now to be seen 
but the squared-up fields of Castleton farm ; and in one of 
them stood St. Catherine's chapel, where remains only the 
graveyard, disused for many years, but preserved from the 
plough by an edging of trees planted by the late Sir John 
S. Forbes, Bart. Two small and primitive headstones, 
with the names and dates, William Eoss, 1739, and William 
Taylor, 1786, are the only monuments left to mark the 
ground where " the rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep." 

Stone cists have from time to time been discovered in 
the vicinity of Kincardine. In 1871, at a sand pit on the 
side of Huntershill, one of these was laid open. The sides 
and ends were formed of rough slabs placed on edge, and 
the top of three flat stones each six or seven inches thick. 
Its length was 3 J ft., breadth 2| ft., and depth 2 ft. It 
contained a bent up skeleton of large size, probably that of 
a chief or leader buried where he fell. The skull and 
thigh bones were pretty entire, but they crumbled down 
on exposure to the air. On the right side, and near the 
head, was found an empty clay bowl of rude workmanship, 
6 in. wide and 6 in. deep, with a black streak round the 
interior, showing that it had been half filled with the food 

Antiquities and Old Buildings, 149 

which, according to the custom of the ancient Britons, was 
one of the things laid in the tomb beside the dead body. 

The Deer Dyke. An interesting object of great anti- 
quity is the Deer Dyke, which surrounded and enclosed 
the Royal Hunting Park of the palace of Kincardine, and 
which included within its boundary the Hunter's hill, 600 
feet high, the lands of Lammasmuir and Arnbarrow, with 
the hill above rising to the height of 1000 feet ; also the 
lands of Bogendollo and the Garrol hill, 1000 feet in 
height. Its eastern boundary was formed in part by the 
rocky banks of the Knowgreen tributary of the Ferdur 
water. The northern boundary, in the valley behind 
Arnbarrow hill, is well defined by a stretch of the dyke 
which appears as a raised bank, very conspicuous to the 
eye, on the left of any one ascending the Cairn o' Mount 
high road. It runs westwards for a short distance, and 
again reappears crossing the head stream of the Garrol 
burn that divides the parishes of Fordoun and Fettercairn. 
Traces of the dyke appear behind the Garrol hill ; and on 
the west side, at the source of the Crichie burn, alongside 
the Whitestone wood downwards till it disappears on 
reaching the arable lands above Fasque. Its length all 
round is not less than eight miles, and it encloses an area 
of about five square miles. Along the patches of boggy 
and grassy ground, as well as at the crossing of the burns, 
no trace of the dyke appears. A stockade of felled trees 
probably formed the fence, not only in the watery hollows, 
but more or less on the top of the dyke, as to the animals 
of the chase an ordinary bank would be no obstacle. We 
are not left to doubt as to its antiquity; for the old 
chroniclers relate that Kenneth III., who met his death at 
Fettercairn in 994, " lodged in his Castell of Fethircarne, 
where there was a forest full of all manner of wild beasts 
that were to be had in anie part of Albion." And in an 

1 50 Fettercairn. 

account of the parish of Birse occurs the following: — "On 
part of the farms of Deerhillock and Kirkton, on the estate 
of Aboyne, and between the church and Marywell, there 
appears a narrow slip of ground which is said to have 
been fenced with a deer dyke by order of King Kenneth 
III., for confining deer to stock his park near his palace of 
Kincardine, in the brae of the Mearns." ^ In the Exchequer 
Kolls an entry is recorded that, in the thirteenth century, 
when Alexander III. was king, a charge of seven merks 
was made for fencing "a new park" at Kincardine; but 
whether it was an addition to the Deer park, or what it 
was to enclose, is not known. 

^The New History of Aberdeenshire, by Alexander Smith, C.E., 

Bridges, Firrds, and Ferries. 151 

Chapier XXI. 


A FEW of the bridges in the parish, and of those on the 
roads leading into it, may properly be reckoned as 
ancient buildings. A connection long existed between 
bridge-building and public worship. The head priest of 
the Roman College of Pontiffs was called the Pontifex 
Maximus, or great bridge-builder ; and the Pons Sublicius, 
or wooden bridge over the Tiber, was constructed and up- 
held by him. In later times the clergy devoted their atten- 
tion to the building and repairing of bridges. Wild water 
courses and impassable ravines were the chief impediments 
to attendance on divine worship. The condition of bridges 
and roadways became the care of the church; and in 
Scotland collections were made by order of the General 
Assembly. For instance, the writer was informed by the 
Rev. John Falconer that, during the incumbency of a 
predecessor in the parish of Ettrick, a collection was made 
for a bridge on the North Esk (probably the old bridge at 
Mary kirk); and another for a bridge over the Dee at 
Braemar. The North Esk was often impassable, and 
accidents by ford and ferry were of frequent occurrence. 
Commenting upon these, the minister of Marykirk, the 
Rev. John Brymer, about 1790, writes very sagely in the 
Old Statistical Account, as follows : — "It is to be observed 
that the North Esk, in rapid torrents, not only descends 

152 Fetter cairn, 

the Grampian hills, overtops its banks and inundates the 
valleys below, but with impetuous violence sweeps every- 
thing before it, so that strangers ought by no means to 
enter rashly into the river." Its fords and ferries leading 
to and from Fettercairn were ; 1, The Cobleheugh ferry y 
with its adjacent ford at Marykirk. 2, The same at Pert 
(the water port) further up the river. 3, The "king's 
ford" and ferry at Capo. In 1730 the Kirk Session of 
Fettercairn, in reply to the minister of Stracathro, granted 
£Z Scots to the ferryman, who had lost his boat by a 
spate ; and some time thereafter he came to say " that he 
had gotten on his boat." 4, The ford of " Sandyford," and 
the ferry on Linn Martin at Chapelton. About the middle 
of last century John Gibb and his wife, Helen Law, from 
the inscription on their headstone in Fettercairn Church- 
yard, were tenants of Chapelton, and kept the brew-house 
or inn of Sandyford, with its ferryboat. 5, " Sclateford," 
below the village of that name, now called Edzell. And 6, 
The "Loups" ford, and the ferry above, where, on the 
Sundays two hundred and forty years ago, when Newdosk 
ceased to be a separate parish, the Kirk Session of Edzell 
paid to '* Andrew, the minister's man, 20 shgs. Scots for 
putting ye people of Newdosk over the watter in a coble.'' 
Of the bridges over the North Esk the first to be noticed, 
though not directly connected with the parish, is the lower 
North Water Bridge between Montrose and St. Cyrus. 
It was first projected by Thomas Christie, Provost of 
Montrose, and a native of Fettercairn. He died before the 
work was subscribed for, but his son Alexander, who 
succeeded him as provost, carried out the design. The 
foundation was laid in 1770, and after five years was- 
finished at the cost of £6500, of which King George IIL 
gave £800. Two tablets on the south parapet record these 
details, and also : " Traveller, pass safe and free along this- 
bridge, built by subscriptions in the town of Montrose and 

Bridges, Fords, and Ferries. 153 

two adjacent counties," etc. ; and in Latin, which may be 
translated : ** Traveller, pass on in safety, and be mindful 
of the king's bounty." The present bridge, of four arches^ 
at Marykirk was built by a joint-stock company, at a cost 
of £10,000, and opened for traffic in 1815. Tolls and 
pontages were levied upon it until, under the Roads and 
Bridges Act of 1875, the rights of the company were 
redeemed and the charges laid upon the county road rates- 
of Forfar and Kincardine. A vague tradition exists that^ 
at a very remote period, a stone bridge crossed the river at 
Marykirk or Aberluthnot, or confluence of the Luthnot. 
The upper North Water Bridge at Pert is the next to be 
noticed. It was first built in the sixteenth century by 
John Erskine of Dun, the friend of Knox and the super- 
intendent of Angus and Mearns. Concerning the builder,, 
tradition (as reported in the Old Statistical Account) says : 

"That having had a dre^m or vision, that unless he should build 
a bridge over * Stormy Grain,' where three waters ran into one, he 
would be miserable after death. Accordingly, going out one day 
in a pensive mood and walking along the banks of the North Esk„ 
he met an old woman near the spot where the bridge now stands, 
and asking the name of the place, received for answer that it was. 
called * Stormy Grain,' where three waters run in one. Hence^ 
recognizing this to be the spot to which his dream alluded, he 
immediately set about building a bridge there ; but the bridge 
being founded and the work going on, a spate in the river swept 
it away ; upon which he ordered the work to be begun anew. But 
after it was considerably advanced, it tumbled down a second 
time. Mr Erskine was now so much discouraged that he fell into a 
deep melancholy and kept his bed. One day, however, he 
observed a spider making two unsuccessful attempts and succeed- 
ing the third time to form its web, he took courage, caused the 
work to be resumed, and had the good fortune to succeed. " 

How long that bridge stood, or when it gave place to- 
the present structure, is not known. It is, however, on 
record that, about 1669, David Erskine of Dun repaired 
the bridge and petitioned Parliament to let him levy 

164 Fettercairn. 

customs for a certain number of years. This was granted, 
and also the power of holding there an annual fair in the 
month of October. Of the old bridge, a portion of the 
north end and up side wall appears as a part of the present 
structure. The Arnhall and Edzell suspension bridge for 
ioot passengers, erected in the end of last century, may be 
passed without farther remark. The Gannochy bridge, 
higher up the river, on the Fettercairn and Edzell main 
road, may be described, by quoting in the first place, from 
the Statistical Account of the Parish, the words of the 
Rev. Robert Foote, written about 1792, as follows : — 

** There is a remarkable bridge called Gannochie bridge upon 
the west side of this parish. It is thrown across the N. Esk 
river, consists of one arch 52 feet over, stands on two tremendous 
rocks, and is justly admired as a singular curiosity both in regard 
to its situation and construction. It is with pleasure the writer 
hereof takes the opportunity of making public the name and 
condition of the person at whose expense that useful work was 
raised. James Black, who was tenant in the farm of Wood and 
}>arish of Edzell, agreed with a mason for 300 merks Scotch, and 
to lay down all materials. James was a very ingenious man, and 
built the parapet walls with his own hands. . . . Three hundred 
merks was a large siim to give sixty years ago, and the deed 
•deserves to be recorded. The bridge was built in 1732. Besides 
the above 300 merks, Mr Black left 200 merks to the poor of the 
parish of Fettercairn and fifty merks for upholding the bridge. 
Both sums were left to the management of the Kirk Session 
here, and from this circumstance the incumbent thinks it proper 
to publish these good deeds as worthy to be remembered and 
imitated. " 

So much for Mr Foote's account ; but Mr Black left 
additional sums for other useful and pious purposes : 300 
merks to build a bridge over the Cruick at Balrownie, on 
the Brechin and Lethnot road ; as well as 500 merks to 
«ndow a school at Tullibardine in his native parish of 
Lethnot. On his tombstone there his good deeds are 
recorded, and in addition this couplet : — 

156 Fettercairn. 

" No bridge on earth can be a pass to heaven, 
To generous deeds let yet due praise be given. 

"Memento 1746 Mori." 

Jervise, in his Land of the Lindsays^ confirms a story which 
appears to have had its foundation in that above related 
of John Erskine and the Northwater Bridge. It is that^ 
about 1731, several lives were lost in attempting to ford 
the river in the vicinity of the Gannochy, and that the 
spirit of one of the drowned men made three successive 
midnight calls on Mr Black, and implored him to build a 
bridge and prevent further loss of life. And also that,, 
yielding to this request, he built the bridge at the very 
spot the spirit pointed out. Mr Foote does not allude to 
this story. A less sensational account of Black's motive,, 
which the writer got from the late Walter Strachan and he 
from his mother who knew Black in his later years, bear& 
that, owing to a serious difference with the Kirk Session of 
Edzell, he attended Fettercairn church, crossing the river 
on horseback by the old ford above the "Loups Brig." 
Finding this very inconvenient, and being himself a mason,, 
he hired workmen and built the bridge which, by hi& 
somewhat ungrateful neighbours, was nicknamed " Black's 
Grey Mare." The sequel of Walter's story is that James- 
Black incurred a heavy debt and disappeared for a year 
and a half ; after which he returned with money enough 
to meet all his liabilities, and likewise at his death, in 
1750, to suffice for the discharge of the aforesaid bequests. 
In 1752 his brother Robert, tenant of Clochic in Lethnot, 
handed to the Kirk Session of Fettercairn the monies left 
for the poor and for the upkeep of the bridge. Of it the 
Kirk Session were zealous custodians, and took great pain& 
to prevent damage from heavy traffic. At that period the 
millstones required in the district were brought from 
Forfarshire ; and when a new one was wanted, the tenants 
thirled to the mill, turned out in a body to roll it axle-tree- 

Bridges, Fords, and Femes. 157 

wise to its destination. For this purpose the new bridge 
became an easier way than the fords of the river. But the 
Kirk Session objected, and, in terms of a lengthy minute 
in the year 1755, they complained to the sheriff and he 
interdicted the practice. The bridge was then only half 
its present width, having been widened as it now stands 
in 1796, at a cost of £300, by Lord Adam Gordon and 
William Lord Panmure. The great flood of 4th August, 
1829, filled the rocky gorge, which measures, from the 
-crown of the arch to the bed of the stream, about thirty 
ieet. The suspension footbridge called the "Loups Brig," 
5till further up the river, was erected by Lord Adam 
Gordon. An iron railing and gate with lock and key were 
at the same time erected on the Edzell end; but some ill- 
disposed persons, under night, tore up the gate and part of 
the railing. As no trace of these was left, they were no 
doubt hurled, stones and all, into the deep dark pool below. 
The bridge of Auchmull stands outside the parish ; but it 
may be mentioned because it bears an inscription that, in 
1820, William Lord Panmure and John Shand of The 
Burn built it ; and that the latter contributed 100 guineas 
for its erection and for the making of a new road outside 
what are now The Burn policies. The Glenesk people 
forcibly opposed the changing of the road, but they became 
reconciled when Mr Shand intimated his contribution. 

From the end of the seventeenth century to the middle 
of the eighteenth the ** pious work" of building bridges 
was largely promoted, not only by individual bequests, but 
by means of church collections and the proceeds of vacant 
stipends. In 1722, collections, averaging £6 Scots, were 
made in Fettercairn church ; one for the bridge on the 
Black burn below Meiklestrath, another for a bridge on 
Cruick water, and a third for one in the parish of Kirkden. 
And in several years following down to 1752, for bridges 
in Lethnot, Stracathro and Benholm ; also for those at 

158 Fettermirn, 

Cowie, Mill of Halkerton, Mill of Luther, and on the 
Mooran above Edzell. The bridge of Bervie was first 
erected in 1699 from the proceeds of vacant stipends ; and 
Fettercairn church being vacant in that year, the stipend 
was available. 

On the 11th May, 1727, the Presbytery of Fordoun 


*' On the recommendation of Sir Alex. Ramsay, principal heritor of 
Fettercairn, to expend the half-year's stipend during the late 
vacancy (in 1723) on building a stone bridge over the two small 
rivulets, which run, the one upon the west, and the other upon the 
east side of the town of Fettercairn, and which for want of bridges^ 
are verj' * unsalve ' in time of speats and in the winter season to 
the people of the Parish in their going to and coming from church. "^ 

The subject of bridges may be concluded, by referring 
briefly to one of the six or seven roads that radiate from 
the village ; because it was first made by Baron Sir John 
Stuart to afford better communication with Laurencekirk,, 
but without any idea of its ever becoming what it now is — 
the busiest and most frequented road in the district. Its 
zigzag turns beyond the Luther are accounted for by the 
fact that the landowners would consent only to a narrow 
way round between their fields instead of a direct line 
through them. The Blackiemuir bridge, in like manner 
angular and awkward, has a tablet bearing the date, 1786- 

160 Fettercairn. 

Chapter XXII. 


FTTERCAIRN HOUSE is partly ancient and partly 
modern. The old part is a plain three-story building, 
long and narrow, but commodious for its time, and midway 
in dimensions between the cramped old castle and the 
modern country-house. With the flower garden in front, 
it faces the south, and on the door lintel are the initials of 
John Earl Middleton and Grizel Durham, with the date 
1666. An elegant addition, in the Elizabethan style, 
forming a new frontage to the north-west, was built in 
1829 by the late Sir John H. S. Forbes, Bart. A handsome 
and convenient suite of rooms and offices on the east side 
was added by Lord Clinton in 1877 ; and now Fettercairn 
House is, perhaps with one exception, the most commodious 
mansion in the county. That exception is Fasque House, 
a superb building in the English baronial style, and of a 
castellated form, with towers and battlements, and a 
stately dome and cupola rising from the centre. Facing 
the south, and standing on a gently rising ground, it 
commands a most extensive and beautiful view of the 
Howe and the surrounding country. It was built by 
Sir Alexander Ramsay in 1809, at a cost, it is said, of 
£30,000 ; and some idea of its dimensions may be formed 
from the fact that the masons' and builders' wages were 
only Is. 6d. a-day^ The fire, in 1872, which threatened to 
destroy the whole of the mansion, has been already noticed. 

Modem Buildings, 161 

The Burn House, erected by Lord Adam Gordon in 1791, 
was for many years the largest, most elegant, and best 
mansion in the parish. Of plain but substantial appear- 
ance, it is nevertheless, with the natural beauties of the 
situation, the most delightful residence in the county. 

The Eoyal Arch, In commemoration of the Queen's 
visit to Fettercairn, as described in a former chapter, the 
leading inhabitants of the village and the gentry of the 
district set about the erection of a fitting memorial. 
Owing to the lamented death, in the interim, of the 
Prince Consort, a difference of opinion arose as to 
the form the memorial should take. It was finally 
determined that an arch, to span the roadway at the 
west end of the bridge crossing the burn and right in 
front of the Ramsay Arms Hotel, would be the most 
appropriate. A sum of nearly £250 was raised by 
subscription. Free cartages of stones from Brechin were 
promised and subsequently performed by the farmers of 
the jdistrict. A Gothic design, furnished by Mr John 
Milne, architect, St. Andrews, in competition with others 
by architects in Edinburgh, Arbroath, and Aberdeen, was 
adopted. Mr Milne, being a native of Fettercairn, entered 
into the matter with much spirit. He ably and liberally 
contributed to carry out the views of the subscribers and 
their committee. His design, with that from Edinburgh, 
was submitted to Her Majesty, and it received her gracious 
approval. The foundation-stone was laid with ceremony 
by Sir John H. S. Forbes, Bart., who all along took a 
lively interest in the progress of the work. The structure 
is of Rhenish Gothic, and consists of a semi-circular arch 
flanked by two massive octagonal towers, each about seven 
feet diameter, and supported by buttresses, which are about 
sixty feet high. The top of the towers have high-pitched 
gablets on the four cardinal sides of the octagon with metal 

162 Fetter cairn. 

finials, and are crowned with a low octagonal spirelet 
having a carved foliage terminal surmounted by a gilded 
metal finial. The arch itself is semi-circular, rather more 
than eighteen feet in the span, and upwards of sixteen 
feet in height to the keystone. The arch stones are 
deeply moulded on each side, and terminate in long 
diminishing lines against the sides of the octagon. Above 
the arch, on one side, there appears the inscription, 
"Visit of Victoria and Albert, September, 1861," in raised 
letters of old English character ; and on the other side the 
date of erection (1864). Between the arch and the cornice 
are spandrels on either side, and above these is a cusped 
projected course which is continued round the towers. 
Above the cornice on each side, in the centre, -is a royal 
crown, which is coped between the towers with embrasures 
terminating against the weathered intake of the octagon, 
and on the angles of the latter are cut the national 
emblems in high relief ; and in the centre, over the crown, 
is a semicircle supporting four intersecting gablets with 
a gilt metallic finial. To be in keeping with the design, 
the bridge was widened on both sides, and in place of 
the old stone parapets a handsome iron railing was 
erected — the whole costing about £60; of which sum a 
considerable part was borne by Mr Milne, who also, in 
graceful compliment to his native village and in excellent 
taste, designed and superintended the whole work without 
fee or reward. To celebrate the completion of the under- 
taking, the subscribers met and dined in the hotel, when, 
in the absence of Sir John H. S. Forbes, convener of 
committee, Colonel Mlnroy presided. The Koyal Arch 
and the event which it commemorates have attracted many 
visitors to the village. The workpeople, especially of 
Montrose and Brechin, on their annual pleasure trips, 
generally make Fettercairn a halting-place. And the 
writer has often in the calm stillness of the summer 

Modern Buildings. 163 

morn stood at his own door and listened with delight to 
a group of joyous excursionists gazing with admiration 
at the royal monument and giving vent to their loyal 
feelings by loud huzzas or joining to sing in chorus 
God save the Queen. 

Forbes Memorial Fountain. Shortly after the 
lamented death of Sir John H. S. Forbes in May, 1866^ 
a public meeting, presided over by the late Sir Thomas- 
Gladstone, was held in the village to consider the propriety 
of providing a suitable memorial of the deceased baronet^ 
and to be acknowledgment of the esteem and respect in 
which he was held in the district. A subscription was- 
set on foot, and the sum of £140 was eventually raised for 
the erection of a fountain in the village, for which a pure 
and abundant spring of water, half a mile distant on 
Nethermill farm, was kindly granted by Sir Thomas- 
Gladstone. The watercourse was in due time engineered 
gratis by Mr Johnstone of Auchcairnie; but that course 
had, a year or two afterwards, to be abandoned for another 
adopted by the Local Authority to supply the fountain 
and distribute the surplus over the village, then formed 
into a water and drainage district. The site of the fountain 
was fixed by approval of the late Lady Clinton, who took 
a deep interest in that token of respect to the memory of 
her beloved father. The foundation-stone was formally 
laid by Colonel M*Inroy in presence of the managing 
committee and others interested. The design of the 
memorial, which was supplied free of cost by the late 
David Bryce, R.S.A., Edinburgh, is in the early English 
Gothic style, richly ornamented ; and it was executed in 
Redhall freestone by the late John Rhind, sculptor^ 
Edinburgh. It rises to a height of twenty feet, the base 
being about six feet square. On the top of the plinth i& 
the drinking basin, which is of polished Peterhead granite,. 

164 FeMer cairn, 

with the following inscription : — " Erected to the memory 
of Sir J. H. S. Forbes, Bart., of Pitsligo and Fettercairn, 
by his neighbours and other friends, 1869." The upper 
portion of the fountain consists of an octagonal tower, 
with gablets ornamented, the centre spire being richly 
decorated with crockets, and terminated with a Gothic 
finial. On each of the eight sides is a deeply sunk niche 
filled in with cusps, and surmounted by a finial. 

Public Hall. For a number of years the want of a 
hall large enough for public meetings, which for lack of 
better accommodation had to be held in the Public School, 
was much felt. This led to the getting up of a Bazaar to 
raise funds for the enlargement of the old hall or the 
erecting of a new one. A committee of the leading 
inhabitants was appointed ; the ladies of the parish and 
district set to work, and in August, 1888, the Bazaar was 
held for two days in the Public School, by which a sum of 
.£550 was realised. With this sum on hand, and the free 
gift of the old hall from the Honourable Charles F. Tref usis, 
the committee resolved to erect a new building on the 
same site. Mr John Milne of St. Andrews, with his 
wonted generosity, provided plans free of charge ; but the 
committee finding that the probable cost of his design would 
exceed their resources by at least £300, they hesitated, and 
obtained plans from other architects, but with no better 
result. At this juncture the writer, being then secretary, on 
his own account appealed to Mr Andrew Carnegie of New 
York, who replied, that " for the sake of the cradle of the 
Carnegies " (as Fettercairn was termed to him), he would 
remit one half, £150, if the other half were raised in the 
locality. This was speedily accomplished. Mr Trefusis 
undertook to pay for materials to the amount of £50 ; 
Sir Thomas Gladstone contributed, in cash and supplies 
from Caldcotes quarry, about £50; Mr Milne, architect. 

166 Fetteiaiirn, 

gave £20; the Rev. William Anderson, Messrs Don, 
James J. Murray, and others, in addition to former 
contributions, subscribed smaller sums ; and thus the 
committee were enabled to proceed with the work, 
which, during its execution, was zealousl}' superintended 
by the late Robert Milne, Inch gray, who acted on the spot 
for his brother as architect and clerk of works. The 
building, with its internal furnishings complete, cost over 
X900. English in style, with a leaning to Scottish 
))aronial, it is surmounted by a massive and elegant 
tower. Over the front door is the date, 1890. Besides 
the hall proper, sufficient for 400 people, with its 
spacious platform and convenient ante-room, the adjuncts 
are a keeper's house, a reading and library room supplied 
with two or three daily papers and other periodicals. 
From the library, which contains over 700 volumes of 
general literature, books are lent weekly at a very moderate 
charge. There is also a billiard-room, the table being 
presented by Sir John R. Gladstone, Bart. To show that 
the Hall has proved a public benefit and has fully realised 
the expectations of its founders, it may be stated that 
every year the receipts from concerts and public meetings, 
the library readers and billiard players (in 1893 about £90), 
have exceeded the outlays by a considerable amount. 

Among other modern buildings of the village that may 
be noticed ar« the Parish Manse, built in 1869 upon the 
site of the old one erected in 1774 and enlarged in 1822 ; 
the School-house, built in 1864 on the site of the house and 
** teaching-room," so called by Mr Foote, and which had 
done duty since 1747, that is from the time of the burning 
of the older house beside the churchyard. Mr Don's house, 
shop, and bank office were built in 1857, from designs 
by Mr Milne; Mr Macdonald's house and shop in the 
same year ; also about the same time the house and shop 
now occupied by Mr Neil were enlarged for the late 

Modern Buildings, 167 

Mr James Dakers. As to houses and population, the 
village stands, one half on the estate of Fettercairn and 
the other half on that of Balmain ; but in the olden time, 
and till the end of last century, it was almost wholly on 
the former. It mostly consisted of clay built and thatched 
huts, which, about a hundred and fifty years ago, were 
replaced by the strongly built two-story houses facing the 
market square, those of the " Townhead " and the old one 
recently repaired, which by the people of a former genera- 
tion was yclept "the provost's mansion at the east 
brig-end." The Burnside houses and villas are feus off the 
lands of Balmain, the older ones dating from the second 
and the villas from the fourth decade of the century. 
Durie's cottages were built about 1860 by the late David 
Durie, distiller, for his workmen, and are vulgarly desig- 
nated "The Whisky Raw." The latest change has been 
the extension of the Ramsay Arms Hotel by the Edzell 
Hotel Company, and it now affords more than ample 

part jfiftb. 


Chapter XXIII. 


ON the extreme end of the sandy ridge or moraine, 
extending northwards to the Townhead and Nether- 
mill, are situated the Parish Church and Churchyard. 
When this elevated spot was first made a God's acre none 
can tell. But like many other places of worship and 
sepulture throughout the country, it was chosen because of 
its dry and elevated position, and it was probably at first 
the site of a Druidical temple. When in the fifth century 
St. Palladius introduced Christianity into the Mearns and 
planted a church at Fordoun, other places would come 
under the influence of his mission, and Fettercairn too 
would have its church. But for the thousand years that 
follow, nothing is known till, in 1450, it is stated that the 
Kirklands of Fettercairn were held by a member of the 
Ogston family who owned lands in the parish. It is very 
probable that the kirk fabric which then did duty was that 
which underwent extensive repairs and improvements in 
1788, and which in 1803 was pulled down to give place to 
the present edifice. 

Churches and Churchyards. 169^ 

In Mr Foote's Account of the Parish he says, "The 
church is a very fine old house, too narrow for its length,, 
as most of these old kirks are." It may therefore be- 
supposed to have been one of the pre-Keformation kirks 
which, in rural parishes, were long, narrow buildings- 
On its north side was a small recess called the Balbegno 
aisle, and underneath the same was the Wood burial 
vault, still entire, only that its stair access is now by an 
opening with a cover recently formed outside the front 
wall of the church. The old church stood farther south > 
and, whether by accident or design, Mr Foote's monument 
covers the spot formerly occupied by his pulpit. The 
Wood vault is 17 J ft. long, 14| ft. broad, and 7 ft. high 
to the crown of the arch. The two side walls and the- 
inner end wall are of plain rubble, and the arched roof of 
freestone. In the roof, at regular distances, are inserted 
five iron hooks for suspending the lamps required at 
burials, and, in accordance with the old custom, to have 
lights burning for a stated time over the dead in their 
last resting-place. The coffins were laid upon the earth 
floor of the vault. In 1886, when it was opened up near 
the pulpit, in order to lay a foundation for the new organ, 
six oak coffins, three to three lengthwise, in a crumbling 
condition, lay across at the far end. They were no doubt 
those of the Ogilvy family of Balbegno, whose mortcloth 
entries appear, from time to time during the last century^ 
in the Kirk Session Records. All older remains of th& 
Middletons and, older still, of the Woods had disappeared,, 
and had likely returned to dust, or were covered over at 
the building of the new church in 1803, the new foundation 
of which interfered with graves and with the " Bell hillock ''^ 
and its graves at the west end of the old church. It had 
to be levelled ; its human remains and the coffins remov- 
able were taken and unceremoniously thrown into the 
vault This accounted for the great mass of earth, bone& 

1 70 Fetiei'caini. 

and debris afterwards found covering the stair and 
•closing up the entrance. Stranger tramps who died in 
the parish were interred in the "Bell hillock." One 
•day, at the work of levelling, James Lyall, the beadle, 
had a large coffin on his barrow, destined for the vault. 
He was hailed by the workmen, and asked whose coffin 
he had now. "King James's," he replied, "and the 
Auld beggar has a gey weight." Of the many strolling 
■characters of those days, the coffin contained the mortal 
remains of one who had been well known, and who, probably 
brain-affected, had assumed the title of King James, at a 
time when the adventures of James the old Pretender were 
-often narrated. Or it may be that "King James" was a 
nickname, for nicknames were then but too common. To 
-enlarge the area of the church, a north transept was added, 
in 1838, by the three principal and resident heritors of 
Fettercairn, Fasque, and The Burn estates. At the same 
time the tower and clock with pinnacles and spire, 100 feet 
in height, were erected by the late Sir John Gladstone, from 
3, design by Henderson, Edinburgh. A few years after- 
wards two of the four pinnacles were blown down by a wind 
5torm, but were re-erected by the heritors in 1859. Each 
pinnacle weighed about a ton ; and again one of these fell 
•during a gale in February, 1864, and crashed through the 
roof and ceiling into the body of the church. Another fell 
•on the night of the Tay Bridge storm, in December, 1879, 
And likewise damaged the roof. Rain, frost, and wind split 
-and displaced a portion of the third ; and in order to save 
from more accidents, it and the one remaining were con- 
•demned and hewn down, thus leaving the spire shorn of 
much of its original beauty of outline. In old times the 
<;hurch bell was suspended from a tree or the stem of a 
tree upon the " Bell-hillock." The old bell having become 
useless, a new one was got which bears upon its waist : 
•"* J. Dickson & Co., Montrose, 1821." A writer, on the 

Churches and Churchyards. 171 

Church Bells of Kincardineshire^ describes it as being in 
shape like an inverted basin and not quite circular ; with a 
row of large, clear acanthus leaves above the sound-bow ; 
but unless he be a prejudiced scribbler, it is rather humbling 
to accept his statement that "Marykirk Free Church 
■disputes with Fettercairn the unenviable distinction of being 
the possessor of the worst bell in the county !" In 1859, 
when the ground floor and old-fashioned pews were renewed, 
the earth underneath was found to be largely mixed with 
•decayed pieces of bone ; which showed that the old practice 
•of burying within churches had there also been observed. 

In the churchyard are three burial enclosures belonging 
respectfully to the proprietors of Fasque, Balmain, and 
Arnhall. The first of these was constructed by Sir John 
Oladstone, and contained a vault now disused and demol- 
ished since 1847, when Fasque Chapel and vault were erected. 
In the Balmain enclosure many members of the Ramsay 
family were buried, but no stone was raised nor line 
<5arved to preserve their memory. In the Arnhall enclosure 
the only interment, so far as known, was that, as before 
stated, of John Shand, in 1825. However dear to many 
& heart are many of the names recorded on the various 
tombstones, it is only the ancient memorials of men and 
women long departed, and whom "the place knows no 
more," that can here be given. The most of them were 
copied by the writer, in 1870, for Jervise's Epitaphs from 
Burial Grounds in the North-East of Scotland. Form and 
fashion in tombstones, as in other things, have changed 
from time to time. Those of the seventeenth century were 
flat slabs, few in number; of the eighteenth, table-shaped 
erections and small sized headstones with elaborately 
carved death emblems ; and of the nineteenth, plainer but 
larger headstones, obelisks and crosses. Granite head- 
stones are now the order; .and the large number of these 
in the churchyard have all been placed within the last 

172 Fetter cairn. 

forty years. A carefully drawn plan of the graveyard and 
its layers, for the guidance of the sexton, was made by 
the late Sir John S. Forbes ; and a few years ago, at the 
proposal and under the superintendence of the Rev. William 
Anderson, the surface was levelled, and the old flat stones- 
and the displaced table ones were taken for preservation 
and set up against the end walls of the church and the^ 
inside of the Arnhall enclosure. The oldest existing one 
is a slab that lay flat in front of the church, having round 
its margin the following inscription : — 

" Heir . lays .... ithful . brother . Alexander .... Ros ► 


LYF . 2 . Mai . Anno . 1615 . of . his . age . 88." 

In 1731 a David Austine in Bogmill was summoned 
before the Kirk Session for removing this stone and 
defiantly claiming a right to the ground. 

The next is an ornamental slab with representations of 
a Wright's mallet, chisel, compass and square, &c., with the 
initials J. R., CM., D. R. It bears this inscription, in 
capitals, round the margin : — 

"Hie jacet plus et honestus Jacobus Rochus qui commutavit 
lucem, in Anno Domini 1642. His ag. 43. y." Or (Here lies a 
pious and honest man, James Roch, who died in 1642, aged 43 years. )• 

Upon another flat stone : — 

"Here resteth in the Lord, William Christy, who departed 
this lyf, ninth .... 1677 .... his spouse Margaret Davidson,. 
who departed this lyf ... . and 79 her age." 

Upon a flat stone in the south-west side : — 

"Here rests in the Lord, Iohn Wallentine, late Mosgrive in 
Arnhall, who departed this lyfe, 23rd Febryr, 1679, and his age 65- 
years. And his spous Agnes Lowe, who departed this lyf the 12th. 
June, 1682, and hire age 68 years : — 

' ' My parents here in hope doth rest, 
Again to rise, and be for ever blest ; 
.... live in hope here to lye, 
And rise and reing with them eternaly. " 

Churches and Churchyards. 173 

One of the many carvings upon this stone is a human 
hand, upon a shield, holding a coil of rope, and on the left 
a short pole or stake. These objects referred to the 
occupation of the "mossgrive" — the rope for measuring 
the moss, and the pole for marking the boundaries. At 
the same period the peat-mosses of Arnhall are noticed 
-among the possessions of the laird, Charles, fourth Earl of 

In front of the Kamsay enclosure stands a line of 
headstones marking the graves of a generation or two of 
Austines, a name now extinct in the parish. The oldest is 
a flat stone, now removed, with this inscription : 

"Hear rests in the Lord William Avstin, hvsband of Isobel, 
Gentleman, who depe . . . the 30 of Ivne anno 1685, and of age 68." 
" My glas is rvn, and thine rvnneth ; 
Remember death, for jvdgment cometh." 

A table-shaped tombstone west of the latter recorded 
the death of John Kinloch in 1690, aged 60; of his first 
wife, Jean Kinloch ; and of his second, Elizabeth Blacklaws, 
who died in the same year, aged 66. The Kinlochs were 
tenants of Meiklestrath down to 1803. Upon a brass 
plate sunk into the same stone is the name of James 
Kinloch of Wester Balmanno, who had been for seventeen 
years in Jamaica. He died in 1831, aged 78. An 
adjoining headstone stands to the memory of George 
Kinloch, Deputy Judge Advocate and Master in Chancery 
in Jamaica, who died at Stonehaven in 1802, aged 60, and 
of his spouse, Susannah Wigglesworth, who died at 
Edinburgh in 1841, aged 81. One of their children, 
George Ritchie Kinloch, principal keeper in Edinburgh of 
the General Register of Deeds and Probative Writs, 
published a volume of Ancient Scottish Ballads in 1827. 
Upon the grave marked by the headstone of James 
Nicholson, parish schoolmaster (1817-1843), lay a stone 
inscribed as follows : — 

174 Feffercahii. 

"Under this stone are reposited the bodys of David Morrs^ 
aged 80, departed this life May 5, 1696, with his wife Isobel 
Mitchell, who died March 7, 1694, aged 74 ; as also their 
daughter Elizabeth Mores. 

*' Under this stone the man and wife do ly. 
What was one flesh, we but one dust now spy ; 
Their daughter also lodgeth in this grave ; 
So far three bodys, we one ashes have. 
The great Eternal Three and One with ease, • 
Will from one dust all the three bodys raise, 
Which winged to the celestial joys above 
Shall never cease to sing their praise and love." 

These verses were probably written by an Alexander 
Mores or Morrice, a student of Marischal College, supposed 
to be a son of the above David Mores, and who was 
appointed schoolmaster of Fettercairn in 1674. 

On the south-west side, a small sized headstone, elabor- 
ately carved, bears the following : — 

*' Here lys Margaret Dickie, sometime spouse to James Law ia 
Chapel ton of Arnhall, who dyed. May the 28, 1737, aged 76 years ;. 
and those her children, Robert, Janet, Tsobel Laws, who dyed in 
their nonage." 

Upon the reverse of this stone is a representation of our 

first parents, and the figure of a serpent at the forbiddea 

tree, with the couplet : — 

'* Adam and Eve by eating the forbidden tree 
Brought all mankind to sin and misery. " 

On the next stone the inscription relates to a daughter 
of James Law and Margaret Dickie, who, with her husband, 
as aforestated, kept the brewhouse of Sandyford : — 

"Erected, 1792, by James Gibb in Mill of Arnhall and Robert 
Gibb in Drumhendry, in memory of their parents John Gibb and 
Hellen Law in Chapelton of Arnhall. John Gibb, died, 19 March, 
1755, aged 55. Hellen Law, died, 17 June, 1769, aged 62. And 
George, son of James Gibb, died, June, 1789, at the age of 14." 

Upon a table stone, in local parlance — Kirky CrolFs — is. 
the following : — 

Churches and Churchifards, 17^ 

" Under this stone is interred the corpse of Alexander CROLLy 
who sometime lived in Kirkhill of Fettercairn, and departed thi& 
life, Dec. 25th day, 1747, aged 45 years. As also the corpse of" 
Margaret Smith, his spouse, who died, the 2l8t of April, 1756,. 
aged 50 years. 

" The tyrant, Death, spares neither age nor sex. 
The gayist mark it haughtily affects ; 
Parents from children. Husbands from their wives 
He often tears, when most they wish their lives ; 
Learn then to fix on nothing here below. 
But on thy God, he '11 Heaven on thee bestow." 

John Smith, V.S., Fettercairn, is fourth in descent from a 
brother of Margaret Smith. 

A flat stone now set against the church wall has a Latin 
inscription, supposed to be written by a member of the 
family, James Peat, a licentiate of the church, who for a 
year or two acted as substitute teacher of the school and 
Session-clerk in the parish. Mr William Peat, farmer, 
Pittarrow, is a descendant of this family. The following 
is a free translation of the inscription : — 

"Here lie the remains of Eliza Peat, who died, 2nd August, 
1779, in her 19th year ; and of Alexander Peat, who died, 25th 
.January, 1781, in his 81st year. This monument was erected in 
memory of James Peat, who died in 1750, in his 20th year, grand- 
son of Alexander Peat, late in Bogmill, who also rests in this tomb. 
Death draweth near to all."" 

Another flat stone, with a Latin inscription, and dated 
1753, lay at the east end of the church. The inscription 
may thus be rendered : — 

" In this tomb are laid the remains of Alexander Scott, A.M.,. 
a most distinguished and learned professor of the more liberal 
and other Arts and Sciences, especially Mathematics. He was 
bo^n at Nethermill of Balmain, 14th December, 1708, and died 
at Bankhead of Birse, 18th February, 1751, in the 43rd year of 
his age." 

He was a son of Alexander Scott, tenant of Nethermill,. 
and an elder in the parish. He appears to have been the 

176 Fettercairn, 

£rst teacher appointed to the school at Finzean, founded 

j&nd endowed about 1727 by Dr. Gilbert Ramsay, Rector 

of Christ Church, Barbadoes, who also left £500 for the 

poor of Birse, his native parish ; money for the building 

of a bridge over the Feugh at Whitestones ; and mortified 

£4800 under the patronage of Sir Alexander Ramsay of 

Balmain and his heirs for Bursaries and a Chair of Oriental 

Languages at Marischal College, Aberdeen. It may here 

be 'stated that the above interesting memorial has dis- 

.appeared. Some time, about twenty years ago, the ground 

was used for burial by certain parties claiming kinship 

with the Scotts ; and they, when setting up a headstone 

•of their own, carried off the old stone, which, although 

.afterwards diligently enquired for, has never been 


Within a railing, in front of the church, stands an obelisk, 
which bears upon its west side : — 

"Erected by the Parish of Fettercairn in memory of the Rev. 
Robert Foote, their late pastor, as a mark of their esteem for an 
honest man and an able and zealous minister of the Gospel. He 
died on July 1, 1809, in the 67th year of his age, and the 41st of 
his ministry." 

Upon the north side panel is inscribed : — 

'* Here is interred Jane Smith, widow of the Rev. Robert Foote, 
who died in 1842, aged 83 years." 

Upon the east panel are recorded the deaths of four of 
their family, and also upon the west one, that of a son, 
Archibald, merchant in Montrose, who died in 1867, aged 
71. He amassed a large fortune, of which, it is said, 
£1000 was to be paid by his executors to the Free Church 
of his native parish. A correspondence with the managers 
took place, which resulted in keeping back the money. 

A headstone, on the right of the walk up to the church, 
bears the following : — 

178 Fetteraiirn. 

"In memory of James Smith, Flaxdresser, who died in 1816, 
aged 86. While in life he acted as Father to the Poor, and with 
the consent of his spouse, devoted nearly all his property for their 
benefits, by appointing it to become at the survivor's death a 
permanent fund for their aid. Erected by his widow, Isobel 
Taylor, who died at Montrose, 18 May, 1824, aged 71." 

A headstone, near the north-east corner of the kirkyard, 
erected by the late Sir Thomas Gladstone, bears : — 

" Sacred to the memory of Sandy Junor, a kind-hearted, simple- 
minded, upright man, and a faithful friend. Poor himself, his 
heart and hand were ever open to the wants of others. Born at 
Fortrose, he died near Fettercairn, 27 November, 1863, aged 60 ; 
deeply regretted by all classes." 

Sandy Juiyyr^s Well, on the Cairn o' Mount, so welcome 
to travellers, was his handiwork. His object in constructing 
the fountain is thus told upon a polished granite panel 
fixed in the stnicture : — "This fountain was erected in 
memory of Captain J. N. Gladstone, R.N., who died in 
1863, by his grateful friend, Sandy Junor." The labour of 
collecting and rolling down, even with occasional help, the 
large quartz boulders off the hillside to form the sides of 
the fountain, overtaxed his strength and brought on the 
illness of which he died. At Fasque he was allowed to 
indulge his hobby of rearing trees from seed and working 
in the nursery. To be mementos of the marriage of the 
Prince of Wales, in March, 1863, he planted, at a few 
special places on the estate of Fasque, " a Prince and a 
Princess." As many of these as have grown must now be 
of large size; but where they are may not now be well 

Within a railing, at the north-west corner of the church, 
stands a massive granite headstone, erected by the Rev. 
Adam Inch Ritchie, minister of the parish (1858-67), in 
memory of his wife, Marion Elizabeth Young, who died, 
11th January, 1858. 

Churches and Churchyards, 179 

Within the church are two mural tablets, one to the 
right and the other to the left of the pulpit. That on the 
left was erected by Sir Alexander E. Eamsay, Bart. : — 

" In memory of Sir Alexander Ramsay, Bart, of Balmain, died, 
March 3rd, 1875, aged 61, and was interred in the cemetery, 
Cheltenham. Also of bis mother, Jane, Lady Ramsay, daughter 
of Francis Russell, Esq. of Blackball, died August 24th, 1819, 
aged 30." 

The tablet on the right is of marble, and bears : — 

**In memory of the Reverend Alexander Whyte, A.M., 
ordained to the ministry of this parish on 18th March, 1817, died 
on 11th January, 1858, aged 68. Erected by Parishioners." 

His grave is marked by a headstone, with a Latin 
inscription, near the front wall of the church. It was 
erected by himself in memory of a brother David Whyte, 
surgeon, Montrose, who died in 1839, aged 39; and of a 
sister Ann Whyte, who died in 1842, aged 25. 

A considerable number of monuments, though worthy of 
notice, are passed over, as casual references at least to some 
of them will be made in a future chapter. 

180 Fettercairn. 

Chapter XXIV. 


THE FREE CHURCH, a plain but commodious building, 
was erected after the Disruption in 1843. Its site 
and grounds are a feu off the estate of Balmain. The 
managers, it is said, applied to Sir Alexander Ramsay for 
a feu of ground then vacant on the east side of the burn ; 
but he refused, saying : — " No ! no ! The two ministers 
would be too near each other; let us keep cold water 
between the fellows ! " Short notices of the incumbents in 
charge will be given in the chapter on ministers. 

St. Andrew's Episcopal Church at Fasque stands a 
little eastward of the mansion-house. Built by Sir John 
Gladstone, it was consecrated and opened, 28th August, 
1847, by Samuel, Bishop of Oxford and subsequently of 
Winchester. A new chancel, in the early English style of 
architecture, was added by Sir Thomas Gladstone, and 
consecrated 15th April, 1869, by Alexander, Bishop of 
Brechin. The east window, which contains representations 
of St. Andrew and the Four Evangelists, is a fine specimen 
of art. The additions were made by Sir Thomas in 
memory of his deceased brother. Captain John-Neilsou 
Gladstone, as shown by a brass plate upon the north wall,, 
with the following Latin inscription, in old English 
characters : — 

Churches and Churchyards, 181 

'*In gloriam honoremque Dei, et in memoriam dilectissimam 
JoHANNis Neilson GLADSTONE, in Classe Regali Navarchi, qui 
obiit A.D. 1863; hunc cancellum ecclesiae St. Andreae adstrui 
curavit frater moerens, T. G., a.d. 1867." 

(To the glory and honour of Grod, and in the deeply cherished 
memory of John-Neilson Gladstone, Captain in the Royal Navy, 
who died a.d. 1863 ; his sorrowing brother T. G. caused this 
chancel of St. Andrew's Church to be erected.) 

A monument of white marble, in the north wall of the 
nave of the church, presents a group of two figures, in high 
relief, nearly life size, and in the attitude of prayer. They 
represent the founder of the church and his lady. Along 
the base of the monument is this inscription : — 

*' Sacred to the memory of Sir John Gladstone of Fasque and 
Balfour, Baronet; born 11 Dec. 1764, died 7 Dec. 1851. And of 
his wife, Ann Robertson, born 4 Aug., 1772; died 23 Sept. 1835." 

Two memorial windows (also on the north side of the 
church, inscribed as below) refer respectively to a sister 
and two children of Sir Thomas and Lad}'^ Gladstone, the 
latter containing a representation of Christ blessing little 
children : — 

"In memory of Ann M'Kenzie Gladstone, born 1802, died 1829. 
* Lord, I believe, thou hast the words of eternal life.' In memory 
of Evelyn -Marcella Gladstone, born 1847, died 1852. Frances- 
Margaret Gladstone, born 1850, died 1853." 

A window, over the entrance to the church, is commemora- 
tive of Robert Gladstone, a brother of Sir John, who died 
at Fasque in 1835. A flat stone in the area of the church, 
over the family vault, bears this record of a daughter of 
the Hon. W. E. Gladstone : — 

"In the vault beneath sleep the mortal remains of Catherine 
Jessy Gladstone, second daughter of W. E. & Catherine Gladstone. 
Born July 27th, 1845 ; died April 9th, 1850. And in their mouth 
was found no guile ; for they are without fault before the throne of 
God. Rev. 14c. 5v." 

182 Fettercaim, 

The vault contains the mortal remains of all whose 
memorials have been described ; and also those of Miss 
Helen Gladstone, aunt of Sir John K. Gladstone, who died 
at Cologne, January 16th, 1880; of Sir Thomas Gladstone, 
who died March 20th, 1889 ; and of Miss Ida Gladstone, 
for whom a mural brass in the church reads thus : — 

" In memory of Ida Gladstone, born 22nd January, 1849 ; died 
22nd June, 1874. * Weep not, she is not dead but sleepeth.' " 

The two memorial windows — one on each side of the 
altar — representing choirs of angels, commemorate the 
deaths, formerly noticed, of Louisa and Anne Gladstone, 
who died in London on the 12th and 24th January, 1885. 

A memorial window on the south side of the church is 
embellished with two subjects ; the upper one is St. John 
the Evangelist leading the Blessed Virgin home from the 
Crucifixion. The lower represents St. John leaning upon 
his Master's breast ; and along the base is the following : 
**4^In memory of Sir John Hkpburn Stuart Forbes, 
Bart. Born Sept. 25th, 1804 ; died May 28th, 1866." 

Upon a mural brass, also on the south side, is the following: 
" In loving remembrance of Lieut.-Col. William M*Inroy 
of The Burn; born 28th August, 1804; died 29th April, 
1896: and of Harriet-Barbara, his wife; born 15th 
April, 1810; died 2nd July, 1890." 

Newdosk Churchyard. In previous chapters some 
account was given of the lands and parish of Newdosk. 
The parish was included in the diocese of St. Andrews, and 
paid four merks Scots annually to the Cathedral. The 
church, whose foundations are traceable in the churchyard, 
was in all likelihood dedicated to St. Drostan; as a well 
(recently drained into the Balfour burn), in a field called 
the ** Piper's shade," on the farm of Balfour, bore the name 
of St. Drostan. According to tradition, it cured all 

Churches and Churchyards, 183 

diseases ; and some envious members of the healing craft, 
in trying to poison the well, were slain by the people and 
buried around it in the field. To the east of the church- 
yard, on the farm of Kirkton, there was a sheet of water 
called the "Cardinal's pool." To the west lies the "Manse 
field," and a part of it, about an acre in extent, is known as 
"the glebe." Farther west, on Bonhary farm, stood the 
" Auld ha'," while one of the fields is called the " Doo-cot 
park." The churchyard is still used for interments. Two 
of the older graves are marked by the halves of the broken 
baptismal font of the church. A few years ago the late 
Alexander Adam of Newtonmill, after retiring from his 
business as a builder in London, built a new wall round 
the churchyard to protect the graves of his kindred. His 
own headstone is one of the newer ones. Colonel and Mrs 
M'Inroy preferred this spot for burial rather than the 
Arnhall enclosure in Fettercairn churchyard. Their head- 
stone, of massive granite, bears the following simple but 
appropriate inscription : — " Harriet Barbara, wife of 
William Mlnroy of The Burn; died there 2 July, 1890. 
William M'Inroy of The Burn ; died there 29 April, 
1896, aged 91." Another granite headstone marks the 
grave of John Nicol, farmer. Inch of Arnhall, a native of 
Deeside, who, after attending for two sessions the Arts 
classes at Marischal College (when the writer was a class- 
fellow), emigrated to Australia, was successful, and returned 
in 1868. In that year he became tenant of Inch, but 
resided at Woodmyre, and died there, much lamented, in 
1893. The revival of interments in the quiet and hallowed 
ground of Newdosk will probably induce many people in 
the district to make it their last resting-place. 

Chapelton of Arnhall. The name Chapelton indicates 
that, besides a chapel, there was here a group of dwellings 
forming a town, in the old sense of the term. All that 

184 Fetter cairn. 

now remains is a farm cottage, with a heap of stones, 
evidently the remains in part of buildings long ago 
demolished. Very little is known of the chapel except 
that it was dedicated to St. Martin. The adjoining pool 
on the river is still called "Linn Martin." Two carved 
stones now built into the front wall of the cottage, dated 
respectively 1668 and 1704, bear the arms (the eagle being 
erroneously carved with two heads) and the initials of 
James the second Earl and of James the fifth Earl of 
Southesk. An entry of date 1736 in the Kirk Session 
minutes of Fettercairn alludes to a " Mr Skinner, Episcopal 
minister at Arnhall " ; but whether he was minister of the 
chapel, or whether it stood till that date, does not appear. 
Another entry, of the same year, in the minutes refers to 
the graveyard, now a part of the ploughed field in front of 
the cottage. Its boundary is still traceable, from its soil 
being blacker and richer than the rest of the field, and 
from its crop being heavier and more luxuriant, especially 
in a dry summer. The same entry, in 1736, bears that at 
sight of the Kirk Session, some decaying ash trees on the 
boundary were sold by public roup, and realised £29 lis. 
Scots. Without the trees, and with no other fence, burials 
being discontinued, the graveyard, like others of its kind, 
was neglected, and now it is as much out of remembrance 
as the ^* unknowing and unknown" that lie beneath. 

Beadles and Kirk Officers. 185 

Chapter XXV. 


FOLLOWING the subject of Churches and Churchyards, 
some account may be given of the successive holders 
of the office which combines the duties of beadle, bellman 
and gravedigger. 

In former times the beadle had many duties to perform, 
including some that are not now required. Besides fulfilling 
the duties of the beadle of the present day, he had to attend 
the minister at parochial visitations, and summon culprits 
of all kinds to undergo church discipline. He had also to 
cry or advertise sales and give other notices at the church 
door after divine service; to walk in front of funeral 
processions and ring a hand-bell ; to keep dogs out of 
church, and if they happened to get in, to put them out as 
best he could. This he usually managed with a clip like a 
smith's tongs, which he kept to catch them. His multi- 
farious duties led him to be regarded as the best 
newsmonger in the parish. 

The first beadle in Fettercairn of whom there is any 
record was an Andrew Low, who, according to a minute 
of Presbytery at Fordoun in June, 1702, was chosen to be 
their officer for the ensuing six months, with 7s. (Scots) 
from each member. The next was James Stephen, who 
appears, in 1723, among others that borrowed Kirk 
Session funds. Besides his fees as sexton, he got 2s. 6d. 

186 Fettercaim. 

every year for shoes to do the digging. Most ordinary 
people then went barefooted. His money emoluments 
were 2d. from each church collection, and half of each 
groat charged for his ringing of the hand-bell at funerals. 
The bell then in use was the gift of a Kobert Valentine, 
Denstrath. At that time it was also part of the beadle's 
duty to go once a year to Fordoun for a loan of the table- 
cloths and cups for the communion, as the Kirk Session 
had no cloths of their own till 1727, and no cups till 1788. 
The communion tables were not fixtures, but were erected 
as occasion required. The same James Stephen was one of 
the kirk officers in the county who compeared " At Stone- 
hyve the 30th day of May, 1748 years, before Sir William 
Ogilvie of Barras, Justice of the Peace," to depone that 
they did affix to the church doors a summons by the 
commander of His Majesty's forces in Scotland, ordering 
** The hail persons in their respective parishes to deliver up 
their arms and warlike weapons to him at Laurencekirk, 
upon the 27th day of said month of May, 1748." 

Stephen's successor was a James Lyall, who became kirk 
officer in 1763, and died in 1771, leaving a widow and 
a young family. The Kirk Session compassionately 
appointed his eldest boy James, although only twelve 
years of age, to the office, with the help of a man for a 
year or two to dig the graves. The boy grew up to be a 
*^ character" and to be "Old Jamie Lyall," as the people 
of a past generation called him, when succeeded in 1820 
by his son, also James Lyall. About " Old James " many 
stories were told. One Sunday, as the congregation were 
dismissing, he, in compliance with the usual custom, 
mounted a tombstone near the church door, rung his bell, 
and cried, "Tak' tent, sirs, tak' tent, Stolen or strayed, a 
ewe, from Balnakettle, whaever brings her hame will be 
rewarded, but I forgot, wi' a tether ! " On another 
Sunday, being sorely tried with the dogs that followed 

Beadles and Kirk Officers, 187 

their masters to church, and especially with one worse than 
the rest, he dragged this one out, and to be a spectacle to 
the people leaving church, he left him hanging dead on the 
churchyard gate ! 

James Lyall (the third) succeeded his father and per- 
formed the duties, but like many of his class, rendered 
callous by familiarity, he sometimes showed scant decorum 
on sad and sorrowful occasions. On one occasion Jamie 
became very thirsty, before his work in the kirkyard 
preparatory to a funeral was completed, and lingering too 
long in the congenial company of the taproom, the mourners 
and company arrived. It was the funeral of a woman who 
was not well spoken of in the parish, and one whom Jamie 
much disliked. After being sent for, Jamie turned up, and 
his condition excited severe comments on the part of those 
in charge. Jamie's ire was at once roused. Throwing off 
his coat leisurely, he retorted with much vehemence : 
" Set her doon there till I 'm ready. She 's no a clockin' 
hen ; she '11 no fiee awa'." He demitted office in 1838, but 
survived for a good many years, residing in the low roofed 
cot on the roadside behind the Ramsay Arms Hotel. The 
young rogues of the village made him their butt, when 
police surveillance was not very effective. One of their 
tricks was to climb up on his chimney-top and, with a long 
hook, to pull up off the fire and out of sight his supper pot 
or kettle, while two or three others of the band went 
inside to watch the result, and hold out with feigned 
sympathy that the witches had run off with his supper. 
In his later years he was often employed to ring the old 
hand-bell and advertise sales, raffles, and other events in 
the village. 

After his death, the bell, which should have been pre- 
served as a sacred relic of olden times, unfortunately 
disappeared. The next beadle was George Watson, a 
discreet and gentle man, who was by trade a shoemaker. 

188 Fettercairn. 

and had been an ofl&cer's servant in the Peninsular cam- 
paign, and at the battle of Corunna in 1807. James Barron 
from Auchinblae, also a shoemaker, was appointed in 1863, 
and after thirty years* faithful service was succeeded by 
John Colman, boot and shoemaker, who now holds office. 

The occupation of beadle has always been associated 
with shrewdness and sharpness of wit, and many of the 
best Scotch stories now in print originated with men of 
this class. Of the Fettercairn beadles, James Barron best 
kept up the reputation of his profession in this respect, 
and this chapter may be appropriately concluded with an 
example of his repartee. The substance of the story is 
as follows : The parish doctor had got a more lucrative 
appointment, and ho had to leave the place on short notice. 
He employed Barron to assist at the removal of his 
furniture, without making any definite agreement as to 
payment. After settling down in his new home the doctor 
sent uncollected accounts back to Fettercairn by post, and, 
amongst others, one to the beadle, which the latter consid- 
ered an overcharge; but to keep himself right, Barron 
made out a contra account which showed a small balance 
in his own favour, and, sending it to the doctor, requested 
him to kindly remit the balance. This elicited a very 
sarcastic reply from the medical man, expressing the hope 
that the beadle might have constant employment at packing 
furniture, for he might soon be able to retire if always paid 
at that figure — to which Barron briefly replied, " I should 
have no objection to constant employment of any kind, for 
there has been nothing doing in the kirkyard since you left." 

Ministers befm'e and after the Reformation. 189 

Chapter XXVI. 


^pHE first minister of the parish, so far as can be traced, 
i- was '• Maister David Setoiie, persone de Fethyrcarne,'^ 
whose name thus appears in minutes of the Council Register 
of the Burgh of Aberdeen, in 1491, as a member of com- 
mittee anent land causes, and again, in 1498, as clerk ^ro 
tempore to the commissioners of burghs engaged in a matter 
affecting their foreign trade. He was also designated 
"Rector of Fethyrcarne," and held office at least till 1514. 
Along with him, or for a time in his absence, Alexander 
Rait was " Vicar de Fethircarne " in 1508 and 1509. The 
next in charge was " Master James Strachauchin," a cadet 
of the House of Thornton, who appears as " persone " from 
1523, or from the demission of David Setone, till 1556 
or a later date. An original letter, in the Register of 
Panmure, shows that he was minister in 1523, and a deed 
recorded therein that he was so in 1556, when appointed a 
tutor, as the nearest of kin on the " moder syde " to 
"Johne Thornetoune of y* ilk." Another tutor was 
" Johne Strauchauchin of Claypottis," probably a brother^ 
according to the said letter copied as follows by the late 
Andrew Jervise : — "Hono^^ Ss' and Cune (cousin) — pies 
zou well, I ame adveset y* ze ar to be fra zor place ye 
maist pt of yis somer quharfor praie zou y* ye will caus 
deliver to mybruder ye berar my blak govne ye vestiment 
w* ye ptnitis (patens) and ye siluer chalice for I feir y* ye 

190 Fetter aiirn, 

thrie pt of ye fruits of ye beficis sal be taken yis zeir as it 
wes ye last zeir under God's kepe y*. At Claipotts, ye 
xxj day of May, '23, zour cuyne (cousin). 

"M. Ja. Strachauchin, 

'* psone of f ethercarne. " 
**■ To ane hon^*' man this cam 

Thomas Strachauchin of Carmiiy." 

Regarding the Church of Newdosk, it is recorded that 
early in the thirteenth century " Bricius was persona de 
Neudonasse " ; and that in the beginning of the sixteenth 
^* David Ogilvy was rector de Newdosk." In the end of 
that century Newdosk was under the care of John Collace, 
who, as minister of Fettercairn, will be hereafter noticed. 
It is interesting to note that very generally the parish 
clergy, down to the eighteenth century, were cadets of the 
landed and opulent families of the country, such as the 
Lindsays of Edzell, the Ramsays of Balmain, the Strachans 
of Thornton, and the Wisharts of Pitarrow. 

In connection with church matters, it may be proper at 
this stage to introduce a traditional story of witch-burning 
At Fettercairn ; which, happily, is the only one of the kind 
in the annals of the parish. No date can be given as the 
record, said to belong to Aberluthnot (Marykirk), does not 
exist. It was to the effect that on the church door were 
affixed the words : " Nae sermon here this day — the 
minister bein' awa' at Fettercairn burnin' a witch." 

A Montrose poet has given the following version : — 

" At Maryliirk, in days of yore, 
Ae Sabbath morn the auld kirk door 
A curious inscription bore, 

Addressed to puir and rich ; 
In whilk the minister made mane, 
That there that day he could preach nane, 
As he to Fettercairn had gane 

To burn a wicked witch. 

Ministers before and after the Reformation. 191 

** A hag who had for mony a year 
The kintra side kept in a steer, 
Till her ill deeds, dune far and near, 

Gar't countless fingers itch, 
To get her tethered to a post, 
'Mang lowin' whins an' peats to roast, 
Till she sud yield her sinfu' ghost. 

As it becam' a witch. " 

After the Reformation, or about 1567, Patrick Bounds 
was appointed minister of Fordoun, with charge of 
Fettercairn and Newdosk, as well as in 1574 of Conveth 
(Laurencekirk). His salary was £13 6s. 8d. sterling. In 
a minute of the General Assembly of 1571, he is referred 
to as one of the " Auld Chaptoure " of St. Andrews, and 
one of the " Minis teris professouris of the treu religioun." 
He attended the Assembly of 1582, and reported that "a 
Presbyterie of Ministers, but not as yet of any gentlemen 
or elders, had been erected in the Mearns." In 1599 Adam 
Walkec became his colleague and successor at Fordoun, 
who, in 1601, was engaged "in designing ane manse, and 
was sett upon by Sir David Wood of Graig, Knycht, and 
with twelve utheris, he strak him with the gaird of his 
sword upon the heid, dang him to the eird, and with their 
drawin swords they woundit him in baith his hands to the 
effusion of his blude in great quantitie." Patrick Bouncle 
died in 1607. 

The Rev. Dr. Hew Scott, in his voluminous work, states 
that at this time Fettercairn was a mensal church of the 
Archbishop of St. Andrews, and that the parish was 
supplied by John Thom, reader in 1574, and Newdosk by 
David Straton, reader from 1574 to 1580. The latter 
appears as minister of Logie Coldstone in 1585. It may 
consequently be inferred that Patrick Bouncle, upon taking 
the charge of Conveth in 1574, either appointed these 
readers as his assistants or wholly demitted his charge of 
Fettercairn and Newdosk. 

192 Fetter cairn, 

James Lindsay, "a mild, learned, and accomplished 
divine," the fourth son of David, ninth Earl of Crawford, 
was appointed to Fettercairn in 1576. He visited France 
to seek relief from the stone, with which he was painfully 
afflicted. In a letter to his brother John of Balcarres in 
Fife, dated Paris, 1579, he writes : ^* I have taken my voyage 
from this town to Geneva, being pressit thereto baith he 
sundry writings from the ministry in Scotland. Also be 
ane infirmity of Scotsmen here, wha ye knaw are mony 
ways fashious. By (besides) this, some sight of the country 
with far greater commodity in my expenses and the winter 
season being at hand, did haste me. I knaw ye will do in 
my matters, as ane loving brother, wherever I be." He 
died at Geneva, 15th June, 1580; and a Latin elegy to his 
memory was written by the celebrated Andrew Melville, 
and published in Deliciae Foeiarum Scotorum. 

The next was John GoUace, son of "an honorabil man," 
John Collace of Balnamoon. Newdosk, as already stated, 
was also under his care, till his death in 1587, and he was 
evidently the last minister of that parish, before its 
partition between Fettercairn and Edzell. " He was awand 
to the Reader of Fettercairn for his stipend, for singing at 
Kirk thereof, in anno 1587-8." He was succeeded, in 1588, 
by Alexander Forbes, A.M. (born in 1564), son of John 
Forbes of Ardmurdo (Keithhall), a descendant of Forbes of 
Brux (Strathdon). He graduated at St. Andrews in 1585 ; 
was appointed to the Bishopric of Caithness in 1604, but 
held the charge of Fettercairn in conjunction with it, and 
continued to hold it afterwards along with the Bishopric 
of Aberdeen, to which he was promoted in 1616. He 

married Christina, daughter of Straton of Criggie 

(St. Cyrus), and had seven sons and three daughters. 
Margaret, one of these, was married to Andrew Straton of 
Warburton, ancestor of the Straton s of Fodra, Drumhendry 
and Balmakelly, as stated in a former chapter. Bishop 

Minisfei'S hefwe and aftei' the Reformation, 193 

Forbes was a member of Assembly almost every year from 
1593 to 1610; for some years constant Moderator of 
Presbytery; in 1609, a member of the Conference at 
Falkland; in 1610 and 1615, of the Court of High 
Commission. He seems to have favoured the remission of 
George Marquis of Huntly from the sentence of excom- 
munication, which not improbably paved the way to his 
promotion. He was nicknamed "Collie," for his being a 
pluralist. He died at Warburton on 24th November, 1617, 
aged fifty-three. At the Court of James VI. he was high 
in favour, as shown by a letter, of which the following is 
a copy : — 

"James VI. ; To the Presbyterie of Mernis, 4 Aprile 1603. 
Truatie freindis, we greet you heartlie weill, ye sail wit, we have 
thocht guid and expedient that Mr Alexander Forbes, ane of your 
number, sail accompanyie us towards London, God willing, to 
attend upon our service thair, with certaine uther of the brethren 
appointed to the same effect, and likewise to recive from us bak 
agane, directions to the Commissioners of the Generall Assemblie 
for preserving of peace and unitie in the Kirk, quhairof we ar 
maist desyrous as ye have found heirtofoir be experience — 
Quhairfoir we will you and commandes that ye provyde his Kirk of 
Fetterkarine with ane of the brethren of your presbetrie quha may 
best and maist convenientlie serve to his returning, in all poyntis 
of the ministrie, and this faill not to do, as ye will do us acceptabill 
service. At Halyrud houss, the fourt of Apryl, 1603." 

** To our trustie friendis, the ministeris 
of the presbitirie of the Mernis. " 

William Wischart, A.M., son of Sir John Wischart of 
Pitarrow, was laureated at King's College, Aberdeen, in 
1606, and admitted to Fettercairn, as coadjutor to Bishop 
Forbes, in 1611. He was translated to the parish of 
Minto in 1613; presented again by James VI. to Fetter- 
cairn in 1618; and translated to South Leith in 1630. 
His successor was David Strachan, A.M., descended from 
the family of Inchtuthill, a branch of the house of Thornton. 

194 Fetter caim. 

He graduated at the Edinburgh University in 1622, 
and acted as a Commissioner of Assembly in 1645, 1647, 
and 1648. He petitioned Parliament in February, 1646, 
craving payment for his losses by Montrose's raid and for 
bis maintenance. In 1661 he was named by Parliament 
one of the Commissioners for visiting the University of 
Aberdeen ; and was promoted to the Bishopric of Brechin 
in 1662. His wife was a sister of Barclay of Ury. 

William Chalmers, A.M. of King^s College, Aberdeen, 
was translated in 1665 from Aberluthnot (Mary kirk), 
and died at London in, 1669, aged about 49. In 1678 the 
ministers of the Presbytery contributed 6s. 8d. stg. each for 
the benefit of his widow in a poor and sickly condition. 

Hercules Skinner, A.M., son of Laurence Skinner, 
minister of Navar, graduated at St. Andrews in 1651 ; was 
appointed schoolmaster of Brechin in 1653; ordained 
minister of Navar in 1658, and translated to Fettercairn 
and inducted in 1669 by the " Presbytery of Aberbrothock " 
(that of the bounds till 1 700). He married Agnes, daughter 
of Mr Patrick Lyon, minister of Barry, and had a son 
Hercules and a daughter Isabel. He died in January, 
1698, in the 67th year of his age and 40th of his ministry. 
**He was awand to Mr David Clerk .the helper for one 
year's salary ij*" li. (200 pounds or j£16 13s. 4d.); to a 
physician xxix li. (£2 8s. 4d.) ; and for drogs, ij" li. ; 
the funeral cost ij'' li. ; Frie geir (from his effects), d.d. 
Y xlvj li. vj'viif (£12 3s. lOfd.)" 

In Mr Skinner's time the yearly communion, for want 
of room in the church or some other reason, required 
two Sundays for its celebration. A minute authorising 
the visitation of the several "Churches lyand within the 
bounds of the Presbytery of the Mearns" was adopted 
and signed by James Sharpe, Archbishop of St. Andrews, 
on 27th April, 1677. On the 23rd August, 1682, the 
brethren of the Presbytery met in the Church of 

Ministers before and after the Reformation. 195 

** Fettercardine," and after a sermon preached by Mr 
Eobert Eait of Aberluthnot from Malachi iiic. 13v., 
Mr Hercules Skinner, minister of the parish, 

'* was called and asked if he had fulfilled his duties faithfully." — 
^* Answered he had." A list of the names of the Heritors, Clergy, 
Elders and Deacons being given in to the Presbytery. There 
being present of Heritors, Sir Charles Ramsay of Balmain, Andrew 
Middletone of Pitgarvie, who appeared as having the oversight of 
my Lord Middleton's lands, himself also being an Heritor in the 
Parish ; who also being Elders. The Elders being called and 
Asked if the Minister had done his duty faithfully ; Heritors 
called, and had the same question put. Both replied that he had 
been faithful in the discharge of all his ministerial duties. Minister 
again called and had ten questions put to him. Asked in absence 
•of Heritors, Elders and Deacons, whether they had zealously 
assisted him. He answered, *they had.' Being asked whether 
they had a Schoolmaster, it was answered that they had one, who 
had tolerable maintenance, and they were satisfied with his 

These minutes were all signed by "Mr Alexr. Grant, 
Clerk." This antiquated practice is partly described in a 
recent magazine article in the following terms : — 

**In the olden time, two Sunday sermons, and one during the 
week, on the * mercat ' day, were required of the minister. He was 
under the supervision of the Kirk Session, for some time after the 
Reformation, but claimed the privilege of fixing the hours of 
worship, and selecting of texts. Presbyteries visited parishes, and 
catechised the elders one by one (the minister being retired) con- 
cerning his behaviour, &c. Whether a haunter of ale-houses ; a 
swearer of minced oaths ; whether he studied on Saturdays only ; 
whether disposed to court popularity instead of censuring his flock ; 
and whether his preaching was hard to be understood. Ministers 
were often in a dilemma. If they occupied ten or eleven Sabbaths 
with continuous exposition of one text, they were in danger of 
rebuke. If, on the other hand, they disposed of their subject too 
quickly, that gave rise to complaint, such as made against the 
minister of Craigie, ' that he doth often change his text, and doth 
not raise many heads, and doth not prosecute such as he names, 
but ''scruffs them.''''' 

196 Fettercairn, 

Not 80 direct and outspoken was the pawky verdict of 
a Fettercairn parishioner. During the vacancy in 1858, 
the ministers of Fordoun Presbytery in their turn supplied 
the pulpit. A worthy old clergyman officiated one day, 
but from his hesitancy and confused delivery few could 
make out his meaning. As the congregation were retiring 
by the door, one elderly ploughman was heard asking 
another, "Weel, fou did ye like him?" "Dod," replied 
the other, " he wan throu." 

By the disestablishment, in 1689, of Episcopacy in 
Scotland, Mr Skinner was the last minister of that per- 
suasion in the parish. After his death it was vacant for 
two years, no doubt owing to the troubles which had arisen 
in connection with the claims of David Clark the " helper "^ 
to be appointed his successor. In consequence of this 
delay the rights of the Crown lapsed, and the Presbytery 
jure devoluto appointed David Eamsay, A.M. of St. Andrews^ 
probably related to the leading heritor, Sir David Eamsay 
of Ealmain, and his ordination took place in March, 1700. 
He married a Margaret Raitt, had two daughters, and died 
in May, 1722, in the 53rd year of his age and 23rd of his 
ministry. Owing to a blank in the Parish Records, it is 
only from those of the Presbytery that anything is known 
of church matters during his ministry. It extended over 
the troublous years of the Rebellion. He was well affected 
to the existing Government, and, like many other parish 
ministers, his loyalty exposed him to persecution. Shortly 
after his appointment the Presbytery were called upon ta 
settle a dispute among the heritors about their respective 
sittings in the church. " The kirk contained 40 couples of 
room," and each heritor claimed a number proportionate to 
his rental, reckoned in chalders of victual. The whole 
rental of the parish was valued at " eight score chalders." 
In January, 1701, Mr Ramsay submitted to the Presbytery 
a list of persons conferred with and examined by him as ta 

Ministers before and after the Reformation, 197 

their fitness for eldership in the parish. They were subse- 
quently ordained, and their names are — " Robert Gentleman 
in Eaw of Ealmain ; John Kinloch in Drumhendry ; John 
Pirie in Strath of Balmain ; John Brown in Dalladies ; 
Robert Aikenhead in Strath of Arnhall ; Robert Falconer 
in Esslie; Alexander Valentine in Boggendollow ; John 
Stewart in Loch (West Woodton); George Milne in the 
Inch ; Thomas Chrystie in Nether Thenstone ; William 
Mores in Balmain ; Alexander Croll in Fettercairn ; Alex- 
ander Chrystie in Strawnossen ; James Wood in Thorniehill; 
John Willocks in Easter Woodton : and James Willocks in 
Fettercairn. This list of names, long forgotten, will 
interest not a few of the present generation, who may 
recognise in it some of their ancestors. 

198 Fettercaim, 

Chapter XXVII. 

MINISTERS {continued). 

THE next minister was Anthony Dow, A.M., a graduate 
of St. Andrews and a licentiate of the Presbytery 
of Cupar, ordained minister of the parish, 26th 
September, 1723. He married Ann, eldest daughter of 
Mr William Eeid, minister of Dunning, and had a son 
David, minister of Dron, and a daughter Jean, who 
married Mr Robert Trail, minister of Panbride. He died 
on 25th August, 1772, aged 78, and in the forty-ninth 
year of his ministry. It was the longest ministry of 
anyone either before or after in the parish ; and in many 
respects, as will be seen, the most eventful. In the 
discharge of his duties he was very faithful, but, owing 
to infirmity and loss of memory in his latter years, he was 
laid aside from preaching ; yet, it is said, that with the 
help of Mr Barclay, his assistant, alongside as prompter, 
he continued to the last to officiate at all the baptisms and 

The elders in his time were, in 1733, Alexander 
Pickyman in Uppermill (Treasurer); Alexander Scott in 
Nethermill; William Ferguson in Mains of Fettercairn; 
and James Clark in Denstrath. The last named "joined 
the Independent faction in the village and was deposed." 
In 1741, James Law in Mains of Balbegno; James Wallace 
in Hillton of Dalladies ; and James Niddrie in Fettercairn. 

MinisUm. 199 

In 1742, David Low in Fettercairn (Treasurer); Davit! 
Wylie (smith) in Stankeye ; and William Christy in 
Stranoseti. In 1748, David Carnegie, Robert Carnegie, 
and William Valentine (in land of Arnhall); Robert 
Valentine in Denstrath; and John Law in Mains of 
Dnimhendry. And in 1765, John Kinloch in UppermiU ; 
and James Law, junr., in Caldcoles. In those days the 

office of elder was no sinecure. Besides the oversight of 
the congregation, many dnties had to be performed. 
The care of the poor, the settling of quarrels between 
neighbours, and the siipiiression of disorder, took np much 
time and attention. Local incidents and details, however, 
may best be left over for a chapter on the social customs 
and the condition of the people in the eighteenth century. 
Mr Dow and his session introduced several changes. The 

200 Fettercaim. 

first holding of a fast day, for the yearly communion, was 
in 1727. The metal tokens for communicants were first 
issued in 1725. Badges of metal or parchment and 
bluegowns, as licenses to beg, were provided for the poor 
of the parish. The last set of mendicants' badges in 
Fettercairn was issued in 1817. Twenty-four of these, 
made of copper, were supplied to the Kirk Session at a 
cost of Is. each, by Elizabeth Austin, merchant. The 
accompanying illustration is taken off one now in possession 
of the Rev. William Anderson. 

In 1735 Mr Dow petitioned the Presbyteiy to ta,ke steps 
towards allocating to him from the kirk lands of the 
parish, a glebe of the full size allowed by law, the extent 
of his glebe, including office and garden, being only 
two acres and half a rood. The Presbytery discerned 
for four acres in addition "off a shade of land called 
*Allonagoin' (Weaponshaw field), on the estate of 
Fettercairn, belonging to Colonel Straton in Old Montrose ; 
between which shade and the land set apart for the 
minister's grass there is nothing interjected save ridges 
mortified to the schoolmaster of Fettercairn." By excam- 
bion in 1834, these ridges are represented by a square 
piece of land in the south-east corner of the glebe. 
Of Mr Dow's encounter with Davidson and his band some 
account has already been given ; but in Mr Cruickshank's 
" Navar and Lethnot," just published, a further account is 
given of James Davidson, the rebel freebooter, who with 
his lawless band committed the raid on Fettercairn as 
noticed in Chapter VII. Davidson had been a soldier at 
the battle of Fontenoy, but deserted to the French, and 
joined the Rebellion in Scotland. After its suppression he 
headed a band of "outstanding rebels," made plundering 
attacks overnight on the houses of several Presbyterian 
ministers and schoolmasters loyal to the Hanoverian govern- 
ment, in the counties of Foifar, Kincardine and Aberdeen. 

Ministers, 201 

They carried off money and every article of value they 
could get hold of. For instance, Mr Harper, schoolmaster 
of Durris, was robbed of ^30 sterling. Davidson was 
apprehended in Cortachy after he had committed two 
robberies there, and made an attempt on the life of the 
minister, Mr Brown. The date of his execution at Aber- 
deen was 1st July, 1748. The later years of Mr Dow's 
ministry became times of trouble and excitement. John 
Barclay, A.M., son of a farmer in the parish of Muthill, 
a licentiate of the Presbytery of Auchterarder (1759), and 
assistant in Errol parish, became assistant to Mr Dow in 
1763. In a Biography of Mr Barclay, it is stated that he 
was of a fair and rather florid complexion. He looked 
younger than he really was ; and on account of his youthful 
appearance, the people of Fettercairn were at first greatly 
prejudiced against him. "But this was soon forgotten. 
His fervid manner, in prayer especially, and at different 
parts of almost every sermon, riveted the attention and 
impressed the minds of his audience to such a degree that 
it was almost impossible to lose the memory of it. His 
popularity as a preacher became so great at Fettercairn, 
that hardly anything of the kind was to be met with in the 
history of the Church of Scotland. The parish church, 
bekig an old-fashioned building, had rafters across. These 
were crowded with hearers; the sashes of the windows 
were taken out to accommodate the multitude that could 
not gain admittance. During the whole period of his 
assistantship at Fettercairn he had regular hearers who 
flocked to him from ten or twelve of the neighbouring 
parishes. He had a most luxuriant fancy, and a great 
taste for poetry. His taste, however, was not very correct, 
and he lacked sound judgment. . . . Besides his woiks in 
prose, he published thousands of verses on religious 
subjects. He composed a paraphrase of the whole Book of 
Psalms, which was partly published in 1766." The 

202 Fetiercaim, 

reference to the "rafters of the kirk" in the above 
quotation recalls an anecdote about the Kirk of Eerrick, 
in the stewartry of Kirkcudbright. Mr Rouat had been 
the minister, and was appointed Professor of Church 
History in the Univeraity of Glasgow. At the first 
sacrament of his successor, a' Miss Dunlop, afterwards Lady 
Wallace, coming to church rather early, expressed her 
satisfaction to an old servant at seeing the church so 
decently filled. "Madam," said the old man, "this is 
nothing to what I have seen in Mr Rouat's time. I have 
heard the boogers (rafters) crackin* at sax o'clock in the 
mornin'." " The boogers crackin' ! What do you mean, 
James r' said Miss Dunlop. "Yes, Madam," continued 
James, "I have seen the fowk in his time sittin' on the 
baulks o' the kirk like bykes o' bees." 

By inculcating Antinomian doctrines, Mr Barclay incurred 
the displeasure of the heritors and the Presbytery. He 
nevertheless, with the concurrence of Mr Dow, petitioned 
for ordination, and was refused on the ground that he had 
no cure of souls. The Presbytery, moreover, by a majority 
had enjoined Mr Dow to dismiss his assistant, because of 
the principles advanced in a book published by him. Mr 
Dow replied that the press was free to any one to show 
whether the book contained "dangerous and damnable 
principles " ; that it was arbitrary and unchristian to 
condemn a man unheard and not admonished ; and that if 
he dismissed Mr Barclay, another could not be got to visit 
the sick and catechise the people. Whereupon Mr Barclay 
was summoned to appear before the Presbytery and answer 
whether he was the author of a book, that had meantime 
been examined by theii* committee, the title of the same 
being Bejoice evermore; or, Christ all in all, an original 
publication, consisting of spiritual songs collected from the 
Holy Scriptures, and several of the Psalms, together with 
the whole Song of Solomon paraphrased, with three 

Ministers, 203^ 

discourses relative to these subjects, and subscribed John 
Barclay 1 He answered " Yes." And whether he preached 
the doctrines contained in the book ? He did. To other 
thirty-one queries put, he craved time to reply. In due 
time he sent his answers, as well as an apology and 
petition ; but the Presbytery, after deliberation, considered 
them unsatisfactory, gave him a new set of queries to 
elicit more direct and explicit answers. His answers being 
only in part satisfactory, the Presbytery resolved to call 
him to their bar to be censured ; and that this resolution 
be intimated in the church of Fettercairn. 

These proceedings extended over two years to the close 
of 1768. Mr Barclay continued to act as assistant till the 
death of Mr Dow in August, 1772, but was no longer 
allowed to officiate in the church. He applied to the 
Presbytery for a certificate, and was refused. He appealed 
to the General Assembly, but they dismissed the case in 
May, 1773. The people believed, and not without 
reason, that the members of Presbytery were more or less 
prejudiced. Petitions were presented to the heritors and 
to His Majesty George HI. in favour of Mr Barclay to be 
their minister. A volume recently published from the 
State Paper Records contains a summary of the said 
petitions, as well as a copy of a wonderfully worded letter 
to the Home Secretary. The letter and summary run as 
follows : — 

" 12th October, 1772. Alexander Wyllie to the Earl of Suffolk, 
entreating his Majesty to grant a petition in favour of Mr John 
Barclay, a gentleman to the liking of the whole parishioners for & 
years past, to be minister of Fettercairn, as the souls of the people 
in that parish are in hazard, as they think they cannot attain 
happiness in a future state, unless they gitt the said Mr John 
Barclay to be their minister. 

*'This awful circumstance, with submission to your Lordship, i& 
a popular call to Mr Barclay to be minister, and were a pity he 
should not be settled, in regard that there are 2500 examinable 

2^4 Fettercairn. 

persons in the parish, old and young, who would fight for his 
Majesty till their shoes were full of blood, upon getting Mr Barclay 
to be their minister ; and, if they are frustrated, the consequence is 
of very great concern to such a numerous body of people who will 
obtain adherents in the whole country around, and by that step of 
theirs, although deemed irregular, unavoidably unforeseen disturb- 
ances, and the peace and quiet of families, brought about in flame 
and riot and disorder the one against the other may take place. 
And pray for what? A minister. And as the numerous body of 
well civilized people wants Mr Barclay, they ought by the law of 
Ood, nature and nations to have him, as they are the only persons 
interested in the settlement. The heritors may pretend that the 
balance of power is in their hands with respect to the Establish- 
ment proposed to be observed in the Church of Scotland. I say 
that thought of theirs ought to go for nought. And the placing 
of a minister is to them nothing further than moonshine, and 
serving by jobs one for another ; and they laugh at our calamity 
because the stipend is in the gift of our worthy sovereign." 

Then follows the summary : — 

**Mr Wyllie also affirms that the heritors were not only none 
of them resident in the parish, but none members of the Com- 
munion of the Church of Scotland. He signs himself Agent and 
Doer for the parishioners of Fettercairn Parish, and gives for 
address: Alexander Wyllie of Penfield, notary public, at his 
lodgings in the city of Brechin, N. Brittain." 

Following this letter is a petition to His Majesty to the 
same effect signed on behalf of the parishioners by the said 
Alexander Wyllie, Robert Henderson, merchant, and 
Alexander Hodge, farmer (Mains of Fasque). 

"That petition states that, in 1770, Mr Barclay having given 
great satisfaction during Mr Dow, the pastor's, long sickness and' 
infirmities, the parishioners, by the advice and direction of the 
landed gentlemen, drew up and subscribed a petition to them 
signifying their earnest desire to have Mr Barclay settled amongst 
them, and they were then led to believe that the heritors would 
have applied for His Majesty's consent to Mr Barclay's settlement ; 
but from some cause unknown, this application was never made. 
The late minister was also greatly desirous of seeing the parish 
comfortably settled before his death, and strongly recommended 

Ministers, 205 

Mr Barclay. The original petition to the heritors, referred to in 
the preceding petition, with a great number of signatures, is also 
with these papers." 

Upon the refusal of these petitions, the deliverance of 
the General Assembly and the presentation of the Eev. 
Robert Foote to the church and parish, the people moved 
off in a body with Mr Barclay and worshipped for a time in 
a barn at Meikleha'. The church at Sauchieburn was soon 
after built and occupied by a congregation of ten or twelve 
hundred members, but Mr Barclay left in the end of the 
same year (1773) to be ordained to a congregation in 
Newcastle. He continued zealously and ardently to pro- 
mulgate his views, and succeeded in forming congregations 
in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Crieff, Kirkcaldy, Arbroath, 
Montrose, Brechin, and other places. He died in Edin- 
burgh on the 29th of July, 1798, aged 64; was interred 
in the Old Galton Churchyard, where a monument was 
afterwards erected to his memory. The sect he formed 
were called "Bereans" (from Acts xvii. 11), and the name 
was self-imposed. Their leading tenet was to reject 
established articles and confessions of faith, holding the 
Bible to be the only certain rule of faith and manners. 
They also held that all who possessed a full assurance of 
their own salvation were perfectly safe ; but they did not 
pretend to found that assurance on the conformity of their 
actions to the rules of Christianity. 

A Mr James Macrae, grandfather of the Rev. David 
Macrae, late of Dundee, was appointed in 1774 to the 
charge of Sauchieburn ; and he laboured faithfully, not 
only as the minister, but very successfully as the teacher 
of a week-day school for the youth of the district. Some 
of his pupils, in later years as old people known to the 
writer, were wont fondly to relate their reminiscences of 
Mr Macrae and his school at Sauchieburn. 

In course of time, and very much owing to the excellent 

"206 Fettercairn, 

ministrations of Mr Foote, the Berean body dwindled, and 
many of the people returned to the church. Still, a few 
lay preachers kept up weekly meetings in their own 
private houses. One of these was Anthony Glen, who used 
to tell that if not allowed to preach he would rive. His 
•discourses were homely. The following is a fair sample of 
his oratory, when discoursing on the love of money. 
" Fowk wud do a' things for the love o* money. They wud 
gang ower seas, an* into pairts whar naebody kenn'd them, 
an' a' for the greed o' gain. Their grace afore meat an* 
After meat, an' their prayers at a' time, was bawbees- 

William Taylor, carrier, Kaw of Balmain, was the last 
■of the Berean preachers. After walking five miles he 
officiated regularly, along with others, at the Sunday 
meetings in Laurencekirk. He survived his colleagues; 
and with the last of them, a John Todd, farmer at Buttery- 
braes, divided the duties of the Sunday, with a remark 
such as, " Noo, John, ye '11 come up and lat 's see daylight 
through the Komans." At Yule time John always warned 
his audience, " My frien's, beware o' cairds an' dice and that 
bewitchin' thing the totum." The chapel, a small building, 
stood in what is now known as "Berean Lane." About 1840 
the services there ceased, and William conducted Sunday 
meetings in his own barn at Balmain, to which not a few 
repaired to take stock of his sayings. On one occasion his 
father, a frail old man, acted as precentor, and according 
to the custom when books were scarce, he tried to recite 
line by line to be sung. But William, not pleased 
with the effort, sharply interposed, and addressing him in 
the same musical tone, said, "Ye stupid eediot, lat's see 
the buik, an' I '11 sing mysel'." In the course of his minis- 
trations in the barn, William on one occasion worked 
himself up to a great flight of oratory, some of his 
illustrations being quite unrepeatable. Once he quite 

Ministers. 207 

excelled himself. " Put on the shield of faith," ma friends ; 
"Arm yourselves wi' the gospel"; and imitating the 
charging of the old muzzle loader of the time, he exclaimed, 
" Ram it home to the breech, ma dear brethren, once again 
to the breech " ; then, as it were shouldering and directing 
the gun, he passionately exclaimed, " And we '11 shoot the 
devil like a rotten i' the crap o' the wa' wi' the gun o' 
salvation. Amen." 

About 1834 two gentlemen, acting on a Government 
Commission anent Church statistics, called upon Mr Whyte, 
the parish minister, and after getting from him what they 
required, he mentioned the name of William Taylor, the 
Berean preacher. They went and found him at the plough. 
The following colloquy took place : " You are a preacher, 
we believe." — "Maybe I am." — "What stipend do you 
receive 1 " — " Ou ! nae muckle." — " But how much 1 " — 
" Ou ! maybe thirty shillings." — " Have you any other 
occupation 1 " — " Ou ! I gang to Montrose wi' the cairt, and 
sometimes I fell swine." He died in the early sixties. 
The Bereans, in the place where they had their origin, are 
now extinct. The last of the sect in Laurencekirk were 
two old women, and when one of them died the other 
feelingly remarked, " Wae 's me ! when I gang too the 
Bereans '11 be ' clean licket aff ! " Whatever may be said 
of Mr Barclay and the Bereans, it must be admitted that 
good effects were produced, inasmuch as devout feelings 
and orderly conduct took the place of many evil habits. 

208 Fetter cairn. 

Chapter XXVIII. 

MINISTERS {contimved). 

ON the 16th September, 1773, Mr Kobert Foote, minister 
of Eskdalemuir, in the county of Dumfries, son of 
the Kev. Charles Foote, minister of Kinnoull, was inducted 
in the face of great opposition and personal abuse. 
According to local tradition, the members of Presbytery 
were escorted to the church by a guard of soldiers. This 
incident in the story, never fully confirmed, might rather 
refer to the ordination of Mr Ramsay in 1700, when 
opposed, as before stated, by Mr Clark and his supporters. 
It is true, however, that the carriage which brought Mr 
Foote and his friends was assailed with stones, and that, 
on the path up "the brae" to the church, they were 
shamefully insulted and disgustingly abused by a crowd that 
stood in line to wait their arrival. On the same day there 
arose a storm of wind which shook the ripe corn, and did 
other mischief. Many of the people, highly superstitious, 
looked upon it as a special visitation of Heaven, and they 
spoke of it ever after as "Foote's wind." The call to 
Mr Foote in February previous had been signed by only 
"Episcopal Heritors, two poor cottars, and a few non- 
jurants." The non-jurants were the old Jacobites who 
had refused to swear allegiance to King George. 

Mr Footers excellence as a preacher, his exemplary life, 
and his unwearied diligence in the discharge of his duties, 

Ministers. 209 

with his kindly bearing towards all, soon gained him many 
friends, so much so indeed, that his death was sincerely 
and universally regretted. His name continued for many 
years to be a household word with the old people of the 
parish. A new manse was built for him the year after his 
induction. He married, in 1778, Jane, daughter of Mr 
James Smith, minister of Garvock, and had nineteen 
children, of whom only five survived him. Of these 
were, the Kev. James Foote, D.D., minister of Logie Pert, 
and thereafter of the East Church, Aberdeen ; the Rev. 
Alexander Leith-Ross Foote, D.D., of Brechin; and 
Archibald Foote, merchant, Montrose. Mr Foote's publica- 
tions were, " Sermons with a Memoir," and the " Statistical 
Account of the Parish." He died on the 1st of July, 1809, 
in the 68th year of his age and the 41st of his ministry. 

The elders ordained by him were : David Law, James 
Watson, David Mitchell, David Carnegie, David Wylie, 
and Robert Falconer, in 1775 ; also John Watt, in Wanders- 
hill, in 1779. And, subsequently, David Alexander, in 
Hallhill, John Gibb, in Caldcotes, and William Thow, in 

The next minister was James Keyden, son of the Rev. 
James Keyden of Dunbog. He was ordained on the 5th 
of April, 1810, and voluntarily retired from the charge in 
1814, when he became purser to a vessel in the Hon. East 
India Co.'s service. He died unmarried at Lochee, 5th 
November, 1821, in the 37th year of his age. A short 
time before he retired, in 1814, two of his elders, whom he 
had ordained in 1811, Mr George Sanderson, factor at The 
Burn, and Mr Robert Vallentine, farmer, Bogmuir, waited 
upon him at the manse to tender their resignation; 
alleging that they were dissatisfied with his conduct and 
attention to duty. "Very glad to see you, gentlemen," 
said he, " for I seriously thought of asking you to resign, 
and if you did not, to compel you." 

210 Fetter cairn. 

In December, 1814, John Muir, a native of West Calder, 
who had been a tutor at Benholm Castle, was ordained 
assistant and successor; but demitted in September, 1816, 
on being presented to the church and parish of St. Vigeans, 
where he died in 1859. The old trees around the glebe 
were planted by him. The elders he ordained were : John 
Falconer, Balnakettle ; George Sheriffs, Fasque ; George 
Wallace, Midmains ; and Peter Milne, East Burnside. 

Alexander Whyte, A.M. of King's College, Aberdeen, 
son of David Whyte, farmer, Clova, succeeded Mr Muir, 
and was ordained as assistant and successor to Mr Keyden 
on 13th March, 1817. He had been for the three previous 
years parish schoolmaster of Auchterhouse, and for some 
time before a tutor in the family of the Earl of Airlie. He 
married, in 1827, Jane Farquhar, daughter of the Kev. 
James Shand, minister of Marykirk. She died in October, 
1843, leaving a family of two sons and two daughters. Of 
their younger son Alexander, a distinguished naturalist, 
some account will hereafter be given. Mr Whyte died on 
the 11th January, 1858, in the 68th year of his age and 
the 41st of his ministry. The memorial tablet in the 
church has been already noticed. His leading publications 
were, "The Duty of Prayer," "Heritage of God's People," 
^*The Lord's Supper," ''Exposure of the Eev. William 
Nixon's Erroneous Statements as to Moderatism ; and of 
his Unconstitutional Views as to the Church Defence 
Associations and intruding into the parishes of his 
brethren"; also, "The New Statistical Account of the 
Parish." Mr Whyte was a good Latinist, and dealt largely 
in pithy maxims and phrases. Of theiie, the following are 
yet visible at Auchterhouse, scratched upon the panes of 
a window that had done duty in the old schoolhouse : 
"Tunc intravit" (Then entered), "Alexander Whyte, 
November 15th, 1813. Alexander Whyte, February 15th, 
1817. Nunc exivit" (Now left). "Patientia, persever- 

Ministers, 211 

antia. et diligentia, cum magna eruditione) valde necessariae 
sunt doctori/' (Patience, perseverance and diligence, with 
a great deal of learning, are very necessary to the teacher.) 
In ordinary conversation he was terse and forcible. At 
the writer's first interview, he summarised the career of an 
old schoolmaster of his time in the following terms : " Mr 

ran much, a welcome guest to the farmers' houses, 

sipped their tea, drank their toddy, caught cold and died." 
At a meeting in the village he said to a young parishioner 
who was speaking rather freely, " Young man, it seems to 
me a very few years since I baptised you." And on 
another occasion, when suffering from a severe cold, Dr. 
Fettes prescribed a mustard poultice. " Doctor," he 
observed, "they tell me I have enough mustard in my 
constitution already." " Perhaps they are right," replied 
the doctor, "but a little external application may take some 
of the inside article out." Although overtaken in his latter 
years by bodily ailments, he continued zealously and 
faithfully to perform the duties of his office. 

Of elders ordained by him were : James Durie, Nether- 
mill ; James Mackie, Thorniehill ; James Gibb, Arnhall ; 
and David Jolly, Meiklestrath, in 1845; James Dickson, 
Greendykes ; and James Renny, Mill of Woodton, in 1857. 

The Rev. Adam Inch Ritchie, minister of St. David's 
Church, Dundee, was chosen by the congregation, presented 
by the crown, and in due course inducted to the church 
and parish on the 28th July, 1858. He married, in 1859, 
Marion-Elizabeth, only daughter of Alexander Young, 
Procurator-Fiscal of Dumfries, and sister of the Hon. 
George Young, now a Lord of Session. She died, much 
regretted, 11th January, 1864, leaving a family of two sons 
and one daughter. Mr Ritchie introduced changes and 
effected improvements in the conduct of church matters ; 
and by his genial and kindly disposition endeared himself 
to the people. He was translated to the church and parish 

212 Fetter cairn. 

of Whitekirk and Tyninghame in March, 1867. Having 
retired, he now resides in Edinburgh. By his second 
marriage with Susan, third daughter of the late James 
Durie, distiller, Fettercairn, he has a son, James. Mrs 
Eitchie died in 1898. 

The Rev. William Anderson, minister of Melville Church, 
Montrose, in compliance with a petition from the people of 
the parish, was presented to the church, and on the 8th 
August, 1876, was duly inducted to the charge. In the 
same year he married Grace-Isabella, eldest daughter of 
Captain Daniel Ferguson, of Irvine, and their family 
consists of four sons and two daughters. It is gratifying 
to note that during the ministry of the present incumbent 
progress in theological thought, reforms of church service, 
and the introduction of a pipe organ in order to improve 
the service of praise in Grod's house are all commendable 
features in the present-day ecclesiastical life of the parish. 


The rise and progress of the Free Church in Scotland 
forms an important part of the ecclesiastical history of the 
nation. The movement now known as the "Ten years' 
conflict," which ended in the Disruption, as in many other 
places, exerted its influence in Fettercairn, and perhaps,, 
from a cause which need not here be assigned, affected the 
village much more than the rest of the parish. Shortly 
before the Disruption one or two meetings were held 
in a hall of the Eamsay Arms Hotel, and some leading 
clergymen as a deputation attended to expound the 
principles of the movement. Great excitement prevailed. 
Mr Whyte, the parish minister, was present, and did his 
best to caution his people. A large number adhibited 
their names to documents prepared for the securing of 
adherents. After the Disruption a new congregation was- 

Ministers. 213 

formed, but it must be admitted that strife and ill-will 
were serious elements in its formation ; and although the 
Free Church in a way has effected a revival of religious 
work and done much good, yet the unkindly feelings, 
brought about and kept up for years between neighbours 
and friends, was much to be deplored. 

The first minister was the Rev. David Paton, who had 
been ordained in 1841 to the qtioad sacra church of 
Chapeltown, Glassford, in the county of Lanark, and who 
had cast in his lot with the Disruption ministers. He was 
inducted at Fettercairn in March, 1844. His father was 
John Paton, manufacturer, Montrose, and grandfather, 
James Paton, D.D., parish minister of Craig. He married 
Catherine, daughter of John Shaw, writer, Cupar-Fife, and 
she died in 1898. Their family consists of one son and 
two daughters. Having discharged with great faithfulness 
his ministerial duties, Mr Paton retired in 1 880, and now 
resides in Edinburgh. He is descended from the Middletons 
of Fettercairn. His father inherited portraits of Charles, 
the second Earl, by Sir Peter Ley, and of several other 
members of the Middleton family, one by Gainsborough. 
They are now at Links House, Montrose. 

Robert Henderson Abel, a native of Skene, and an 
alumnus of Aberdeen University, was ordained as colleague 
and successor in May, 1881. He demitted in 1891, and 
emigrated to take the charge of a congregation in the town 
of London, South Africa. 

John Ramsay Macmillan, A.M. of Aberdeen, a native of 
the Garioch, was ordained as colleague and successor to 
Mr Paton in April, 1892, and continues efficiently to 
discharge the duties of his sacred office. 


The first incumbent of the Episcopal Church at Fasque, 
in 1846-7, was Mr Teed, who officiated for nine months, and 

214 Fetter cairn. 

was succeeded by Alexander Irvine, who died in March, 

The next incumbent was Mr Charles Aitken from 
Coatbridge, who laboured with much acceptance and 
popularity. He took an active and leading part in the 
institution and management of the Fettercairn and District 
Subscription Library. The state of his health compelled 
him to retire, and he died in 1858. During his incumbency, 
he was often assisted by Alexander Somerville, a retired 
clergyman, residing in Fettercairn. George Frederick 
Hardman Foxton succeeded and continued ably in charge 
till 1871, when he removed to the Rectory of Gedney Drove, 
in Lincolnshire. And now, since that date, for a period 
longer than all his predecessors together, the Rev. Andrew 
Holmes Belcher, A.M., has, with much credit, held the cure. 

Schools and Schoolmaster's, 215 

Chapter XXIX. 


IN the First Book of Discipline (1560) the Reformers 
recommended that a school for " the first rudiments " 
of learning should be established in every parish, and "a 
college for logic, rhetoric, and the tongues" in every 
"notable town." In pursuance of this design, the Privy 
Council in 1616 enacted that in every parish a Grammar 
School should be established and supported by the heritors. 
This Act was ratified by the Parliament of 1633. Referring 
to Fettercairn, little is known except that, in 1567 and 
down at least to 1574, John Thom, as before stated, was 
reader and schoolmaster, at a salary of 24 merks, or less 
than £2 stg. It thus appears that Fettercairn, if not in 
the forefront, was not behind in carrying out the wishes of 
the Reformers. Concerning the school during the next 
hundred years, the traditional story of the Countess of 
Middleton's grant of land in 1666 to the schoolmaster, 
whose name is not given, and also the word " predecessoris " 
in a minute of 1674, supply sufficient evidence that a 
succession of schoolmasters was kept up, and that the 
heritors had assessed themselves in accordance with the 
enactments of 1616 and 1633. The minute runs as 
follows : — 

1674, Ma. ij. last. The qlk day The Heritoris, Minister and 
Elderis did Receave Mr Alexander Morrice, Student of Divinitie 
in >•• Marischall Collage of Abd. to be Schoollmaster, Precentor 



8 Scots 
























216 Fettercaim. 

and Session Clerk, allowing such yeirlie sallarie as was formerlie 
payit to his predecessoris w^ oy' casualities usit and wont ; the 
list q' of is as foUoweth : — 

Ye Laird of Balmayne, 44 m'kis is 
Item out of ye landis of Arnhall, 20 m'kis is 
Item out of ye landis of Balbegno and Bonakettle 

1 X (^ / XV J ■■■ ••■ •!• ■•! ••• ••• 

Item out of ye landis ptyning to ye Erie of Mid- 

dleton (11 '/lo) 
Togidder w* ane boll of bear mortified by ye late 

Countess of (13**/») 

Item out of ye landis of Balfour ptyning to Lau- 

ranstoun (7 Vio) •• 

Item out ye lands of Dalladies, 5 m'kis is 

Item be ye Session for Clerk fie and p'centorship (5) £03 6 8 

£80 12 8 

The total amount of the above is 1 20^72© ^^rks = 
£80 12s. 8d. Scots, or £6 Us. 4§d. stg. 

In Nov., 1678, James Watson, a student of Marischal 
College, was appointed schoolmaster, session-clerk, and 
precentor upon the same terms as his predecessors. Three 
years afterwards he was suspended from office on account 
of a misdemeanour, and had to satisfy the Kirk Session by 
three public appearances in church. He was thereafter 
restored to office. Alexander Strachan was session-clerk at 
the time, but regarding the school nothing is stated. In 
the Commisariot of St. Andrews the name of James Watson 
appears as deceased in 1686. With no record for the next 
fourteen years, nothing is known about school or school- 
master. But in March, 1701, John Gentleman attended a 
Presbytery Meeting at Conveth and signed the Confession 
of Faith as schoolmaster of Fettercairn. His appointment, 
however, was probably a year or two earlier, or soon after 
the passing of the Parish Schools Act in 1696. 

Along with some other schoolmasters in the Mearns, who 
had favoured the Rebellion, he appeared by summons 

Schools and Schoolmasters, 217 

before the Presbytery at Ecclesgreig, on 16th April, 1716, 
and confessed that he had read in the church to the con- 
gregation three rebellious papers ; but that he was forced 
to do so " by threats of parties belonging to Marr's camp " ; 
the first paper being for cess, and the other two for levying 
men to follow the Pretender. "He thought he had got 
Mr Ramsay's authority," but this the latter denied. He 
partly confessed that two bonfires had been kindled at his 
house, "as rejoicings for the Pretender's safe arrival," 
and that he had drunk his health, "under the name and 
title of King James." He denied that he had fallen down 
on his knees, or blest the Pretender, or said, " it was the 
blaithest sight he had seen." He likewise denied that he 
had ever cursed King George, or that his scholars "had 
abused the minister or persons who owned the Govern- 
ment." He admitted that he kept a young man to teach 
his school and " did not do it himself, as he was factor to 
Balbegno, and was also obliged to keep a *chaings' (public 
house), that he might be able to take care of his old parents." 
Whereupon he was deposed ; and so were also, for the like 
offence, the schoolmasters of Fetteresso and Dunnottar. 

Sir Alexander Ramsay and the other heritors empowered 
Mr Ramsay to look out for a well qualified person to be 
schoolmaster. Alexander Strachan, having testimonials 
from the Presbytery of Aberdeen, was examined, and 
admitted on 4th December, 1716. He held office for only 
a year and a half. John Ogilvie of Balbegno, in 1717, 
petitioned the Presbytery to restore John Gentleman to 
the office; and Sir Alexander Ramsay, in February, 1718, 
made a similar request, but both were refused, on the 
ground that the office was not vacant. On the 1st July 
following, Mr Ramsay brought up John Melville, from the 
parish of Birse, to be examined for the office, as Mr Strachan 
was about to leave. All this implies that he did not give 
satisfaction. Mr Melville, being found not fully qualified. 

218 Fettercairn, 

was appointed for one year, " with a view to get ane act of 
admission according to his improvement." He succeeded, 
and continued till 1st April, 1737, when John Law was 
appointed and held office for only six months. The salary 
at this juncture was equal to £b 13s. 4d. stg. Mr John 
Gentleman acted as clerk to the heritors and Kirk Session. 
In October, 1737, Robert Milne became schoolmaster; and 
after his death, in 1741, the Kirk Session, on account of 
some failure of duty, refused, but were compelled at the 
instance of the Procurator-Fiscal to pay his last year's 
salary. James Bate, son of William Bate in Kincardine, a 
student of King's College, Aberdeen, was appointed 
schoolmaster, session-clerk, and precentor. It was in the 
last year of his tenure that the Brechin band, in their onset, 
burnt the school-house and destroyed the session records. 

On the 4th November, 1747, David Niddry, son of 
James Niddry in Mains of Balbegno, laid a presentation 
from a majority of the heritors in his favour before the 
Presbytery ; but Sir Alexander Ramsay objected by letter, 
on the ground that Niddry was too young, not properly 
qualified, and not able to act as precentor ; and besides, that 
the presentation was made without a formal meeting of 
heritors. Niddry was examined and found rather deficient, 
but was given a trial of the school for six months. 
John Gordon, schoolmaster, of Logie and Pert, was 
presented by Sir Alexander and certain others of the 
heritors, and was, after several meetings and correspondence 
with the Presbytery, appointed in 7th December, 1748; 
while Niddry in the meantime, supported by a petition 
from heads of families in the parish, made an unsuccessful 
appeal to the Synod. 

Regarding the kind of school accommodation at this 
period, in contrast with that of the present day, some idea 
may be formed from entries in the Kirk Session Records, 
thus : — "1735, November. For a bed to the school, £6 6s." 

Schools and Schoolmasters. 219 

(Scots); and "1750, November. Got from James Stephen, 
in payment of the old school bed, £S " (Scots). The bed 
was for "gangrel buddies"; and the school, mean in 
construction, and very much a hovel, was the poor's 
lodging-house. A rather uneducative arrangement. 

Whether the schoolmaster had any allowance for lodging 
the beggars is not known, but to him another custom not 
quite so humane was a source of income. To the annual 
cock-fight, held on Handsel Monday or Shrove Tuesday in 
the school-room, the older boys brought each his bird and paid 
dues to the "maister." These dues were stated, in one 
parish (Applecross, Ross-shire), to be " equal to a quarter's 
payment of the scholars." The animals were set two and 
two to fight till the floor was stained with their blood. 
With them it was "the survival of the fittest," and the 
death of the weaker ones, which were handed over as a 
perquisite to the schoolmaster. The boy who owned the 
victorious cock was rewarded, "dubbed king of the school," 
and allowed for a time to do very much as he pleased. 
This barbarous custom was kept up in Fettercairn till the 
early years of the present century, and till a much later 
period in some other parishes. It continued at least till 
1826, "the year o' the short corn," at the school of 
Clattering Brig, which, for the children of the crofters and 
lime-burners,^ was taught by an enterprising individual, 
"Dominie Young," who in one end of his biggin' had the 
school and in the other end a public-house, opened in 
opposition to the late inn of Knowgreens a little higher up 
on the Cairn o' Mount road. 

The next schoolmaster of Fettercairn was John Harper, 
teacher of a school in Glendye, who was appointed school- 

^ The limestone quarry became unworkable, and was given up about 
1832. The farms and crofts of Glenburnie and its braes are now all run 
out in grass for sbee]) and cattle. Tbe only dwelling that remains is the 
gamekeeper's cottage seen in the picture at page 63. 

220 Fetter cairn. 

master and session-clerk on 12th March, 1755. His tenure 
was of longer duration ; but for a number of years before 
his death, in 1794, bodily affliction and blindness laid him 
■aside from duty. Mr Foote, in his account of the parish 
written in 1792, refers to the school and the teachers as 
follows: "A new house and teaching room were lately 
built. The salary is £6 6s. 8d. stg., with half an acre of 
land and a small garden. The fees for teaching English 
are Is. 6d ; for Latin and Arithmetic, 2s. 6d. (per qr.) The 
schoolmaster is a very old man, and has been blind for 
sixteen years. Several young men have served as 
assistants, but having no fixed salary they were always 
changing. The inconveniences arising from this state 
determined the heritors to secure an assistant by presenting 
him to the succession. To encourage a qualified person to 
accept, £10 stg. is given by a Lady (The Lady Jane Leslie) 
to the assistant, to continue during the life of the old 
schoolmaster ; but on that account the assistant is to teach 
a Sunday school. The pious and respectable benefactress 
visits that school herself, and bestows suitable rewards 
upon such of the scholars as show a desire to profit by that 
useful institution." 

The assistant and successor alluded to was David 
Adamson, who married the old man's daughter Barbara. 
The old people of the past generation who had been 
Adamson's pupils spoke with kindly feelings of " Bawbie 
Harper " ; but some of their school reminiscences showed 
that now and again they loved frolic more than learning. 
Mr Adamson might be a good teacher, but his discipline 
was hardly a match for young Fettercairn. The teaching 
room, as Mr Foote called it, was small, only about 18 feet 
by 16, and thus it served till 1843. Its ceiling, not lofty, 
was constructed of joists and loose boards, above which 
were stored the master's peats and sods for winter fuel. 
The writers and counters sat vis h vis along both sides of a 

Schools and Schoolmasters. 221 

long table in the middle of the room; and on several 
occasions, when some learners more diligent than the rest 
were poring over their exercises, and the master's back 
about, an idle imp, watching his opportunity, with a stick 
or staff from under the table poked overhead to bring 
down a shower of dross and dust on slates and copybooks. 
Another wicked prank of theirs was to fill one of the peats 
which they brought every morning, with gunpowder, and 
have it on the fire to explode and scatter the embers. 
This happened more than once, when, of an afternoon, the 
master fell a-nodding on his desk at the fireside. Mr 
Adamson died suddenly in April, 1817. Under him, as in 
most of the parish schools, the only class books were the 
following, and they were used in this order, viz. : 1, The 
Shorter Catechism, with an A B C on the cover ; 2, The 
New Testament; 3, Solomon's Proverbs; 4, The Bible; 
and 5, Barrie's Collection. The first graduated series of 
Reading Books was brought out in 1818, by an Association 
of the Parochial Schoolmasters of Scotland. 

James Nicholson, son of the parish schoolmaster of Craig,, 
was next appointed. He taught the school, and held the 
parochial offices till his death in February, 1843. He 
made himself popular in the parish ; not so much by his 
teaching as by his lively, agreeable, and obliging disposition. 
He acted as secretary to the Fettercairn Farmers' 

His successor was Alexander Inglis, assistant in Montrose 
Academy. Hitherto, the school and school-house formed 
one building at "the Townhead"; but after Mr Inglis's 
appointment, a new school-room, of inside dimensions, 30 
feet by 20, was built upon the site now occupied by the 
Public Hall. Mr Inglis left in 1845, on being appointed 
to the Parish School of Arbroath ; and afterwards became 
Rector of Bathgate Academy. In 1860 he was appointed 
Principal of Charlottetown College, Prince Edward's 

•222 Fetter cairn. 

Island. He was honoured with the degree of LL.D. He 
married Charlotte, a sister of the Rev. Alexander Whyte 
of Fettercairn, and their son is the Rev. John Macdonald 
Inglis, A.M., minister of Penninghame. Dr Inglis returned 
to Scotland, and died a few years ago. 

The next schoolmaster was James Low, a native of 
Forfar district, and a licentiate of the Church, who had 
taught in the Douglas Academy, Newton-Stewart. He 
left in November, 1851, on being ordained as a missionary 
to Victoria. Returning to Scotland in 1871, he took up 
his abode in Aberdeen, and died there, leaving a widow 
but no family. 

The writer of these pages was next appointed on 17th 
December, 1851, from the school of Meikleour in the 
county of Perth. He graduated A.M. in 1849 at Marischal 
College, and received the degree of LL.D. in 1888 from the 
University of Aberdeen. Holding a teacher's certificate, 
of date 1848, he introduced the pupil teacher system, and 
the school premises becoming insufficient, the present 
school was built in 1860, and enlarged in 1891. The 
heritors, with enlightened liberality, also erected the 
present commodious school-house upon the site of the old 
one in 1864. After nearly forty-four years' service retire- 
ment came at 1st October, 1895. With one exception, 
this tenure is the longest on record of any minister or 
schoolmaster in the parish. The Rev. Anthony Dow held 
office for nearly forty-nine years. 

In August, 1895, Donald M^Kinven, from Rothesay 
Academy, a native of Campbeltown, was appointed. After 
a highly successful career as pupil teacher, he took the 
first place on the list of the Glasgow Established Church 
Training College, and graduated A.M. at the University. 
The high position taken by the headmaster augurs well 
for the continued success of the school. 

Schools and Sclwolmasters. 223 


In the Statistical Account written by Mr Why te in 1837, 
he states that, besides the Parish School attended by 
about 68 scholars, other four schools had an aggregate 
attendance of about 1 20 ; and some smaller places (dame 
schools in their own private houses) had about 40 children. 
A school at Dalladies, supported by subscriptions and 
school fees, was managed by the late Charles Durie the 
tenant, and taught by young men hired from year to year. 
It was given up about 1848. 

A female school in the village was supported by fees and 
a small salary paid by Sir John and Lady Harriet Stuart 
Forbes. It was closed in 1861, on the appointment of a 
female teacher in the Parish School. 

The school at Inch of Arnhall was an adventure school, 
in a room rent free, with only the fees paid by the scholars. 
It was taught by male teachers ; but at a later period 
Colonel M^Inroy paid a small salary, and for a few years 
down to 1872 it was ably conducted by Miss Hannah 
Gold, LL.A. of St. Andrews, now in the Public School of 
Alyth. Under the provisions of the Education (Scotland) 
Act, 1872, the Free Church School in the village, taught 
for a year after its opening in 1849 by Thomas Bruce, 
and from 1850 with marked success by Alexander Murray, 
was closed ; and Mr Murray was transferred to Inch new 
school, and conducted it till his death in 1879. Mr Adam 
Moodie, from Landsend School, was then appointed ; and 
he continues very successfully to keep up the efficiency of 
the institution. 

The school at Oldmains of Fasque was taught for a 
number of years by male teachers. One of these was 
David Durward, A.M., a licentiate of the Church, who in 
1842 became parish schoolmaster of Mary kirk and after- 
wards of Maryculter. Francis Birse was the next teacher 

224 Fetter cairn. 

and he left about 1856 to conduct a school in Luthermuir. 
Shortly thereafter a new and commodious female school 
and teachers' rooms were erected by Lady Gladstone. 
The efficiency and good reputation of the school have been 
well maintained by a succession of trained and certificated 
female teachers ; and by none of these more thoroughly 
than by Miss Munro, who has for a number of years ably 
discharged the duties of headmistress. 

In former times a large number of infants and young 
children were taught to read, knit and sew by elderly 
women, who, generally living alone, found it convenient to 
keep school at their own firesides. Fifty years ago some 
four or five of these humble seminaries flourished here and 
there in the parish ; but according as the efficiency of the 
public schools increased, they one by one ceased to exist. 
In primitive fashion and with good intentions they served 
their day. The easier portions of the Bible and the 
Shorter Catechism were conned over, and by the older girls 
committed to memory. In the last of these schools, one 
day a little girl was set up to repeat to the parish minister 
the whole metrical version of the 119th Psalm. The good 
old and kind mistress, in another of the same, was not 
herself very proficient in pronouncing the proper names, 
even those of the New Testament. She was heard on one 
occasion to solve the difficulty of a young tyro with the 
name " Caesar Augustus," by saying : " Little ane, he wus 
a muckle man, king in the East ; mak' a pass-by o' him." 

part Sistb* 



Chapter XXX. 


OF the old families in the parish only a few very general 
notices can here be given. In the Kirk Session 
Registers of last century some fifteen or sixteen different 
surnames appear to represent the leading families of the 
parish. About two-thirds of that number, their direct 
descendants, remained as tenant-occupiers during the first 
half of this century, and nearly one-half the number 
continued for a few years longer ; but now a perusal of the 
Valuation Roll reveals the fact that the old familiar names 
have mostly all disappeared. 

The Woods descended from the old landowners of 
Balbegno, the Stratons from those of Balfour, and the 
Carnegies from the houses of Pitarrow and Arnhall, were 
very numerous down to the early years of the present 
century, but now not one remains. Other families, now 
wholly extinct in the parish, and whose direct representa- 
tives, wherever they may be, are unknown, were those of 

226 Fdtei'cairn. 

Kinloch, who occupied the Straths of Balmain ; of Law, 
whose holdings were Balbegno, Caldcotes and Drumhendry ; 
of Christie, who occupied the braes of Balnakettle and 
Balfour; of Forbes, Croll, Gibb, Gray, and Waldie, all 
numerous. The Croalls, coachbuilders in Edinburgh, were 
descendants of a Croll at Craigmoston. The forbears of 
Messrs Gibb and Gray, merchants, Manchester, were the 
Gibbs of Arnhall, and John Gray, merchant, Fettercairn. 
James Gibb, the last of the name in the parish, was 
tenant of Arnhall, and died in 1857. 

The Austines, an English name, settled in the parish 
during the seventeenth century. One hundred years ago, 
an Austine was tenant of Nether Craigniston, now the 
upper part of Coldstream farm. George Austine of Nether 
Thainstone had a large family of daughters. John Austine, 
a brother, was a merchant in the village, whose son James 
succeeded as merchant and postmaster. His son John 
became a wealthy coalmaster near Hamilton, a Colonel of 
volunteers, and died in 1893. A nephew of his, James 
Austine, warehouseman, Glasgow, is the only one left. 

The Valentines, whose progenitor was Valentine of 
Thornton, a favourite of Robert the Bruce, were, till of 
late, numerous and influential in the parish, but so few are 
now left that ere long the name will become extinct. 
Eighty years ago, a Robert Valentine, farmer, BogendoUo, 
left a benefaction to the poor; and Robert Vallentine, 
farmer of Bogmuir and Inch, an authority in agriculture, 
died in 1868. A daughter Margaret became the wife of 
the late Rev. George Gilfillan of Dundee. A son James 
was tenant of Arnhall, and his son is William M'Inroy 
Vallentine, banker, and ex-Provost of Brechin. 

The Falconers, the hereditary hawkers of William the 
Lion and his successors, held a high position among the 
leading families of the Mearns. Their direct connection 
with Fettercairn began with the eightieenth century, when 

Families, 227 

Lady Phesdo acquired the lands of Balnakettle ; but that 
connection no longer exists. A cadet of the Phesdo family, 
Robert Falconer, occupied the Broadlands,^ and, in 1746, 
removed to Balnakettle. His wife was Jean Hutcheon, 
and their son John succeeded. By his wife Janet Niddrie^ 
he had a family of five sons and two daughters. Their 
daughter Elizabeth became Mrs Stewart of Ballaterich, 
Deeside ; and Nancy, Mrs Watt, Waterhead. Their sons 
were James and John of Balnakettle, and after 1856, of 
Arnbarrow ; George, a West Indies planter ; Robert, 
tenant of East Mains ; and Alexander of BogendoUo. His 
son is John, minister of Ettrick, now retired and residing 
in Edinburgh. 

The Duries are now all gone from the parish. They 
were the hereditary dempsters or doomsters of the lords 
of Edzell. They had a free grant of the lands of Duray- 
hill, and designed themselves of that Ilk. In later times 
Thomas Durie was tenant of Capo, and his son Charles 
farmed Capo and Dalladies, and died in 1862. He was 
long an auctioneer and land valuator, as remarkable for 
integrity of character as for great good-humour. His 
eldest son Charles, who succeeded him in the farms and 
died in 1869, acted as secretary to the Fettercairn Farmers' 
Club, and was highly esteemed alike for kind-heartedness 
and general intelligence. A younger brother Alexander 
was for some time Dean of Guild at Brechin, while carrying 
on the business of brewer at the North Port, where his 
maternal ancestors had conducted the same trade for 200 
years. The youngest brother John held the farms of 
Dalladies and Capo till his death in 1877. In the end of 

^ The Broadlands or Boardlands, now part of Mill-of -Kincardine farm, 
were so named from their supplying in part the royal table. 

^ Their initials may be seen cut in a stone, the base of their sun-dial, 
carelessly built a few years ago into the wall of an outhouse at 

228 FeMercairn. 

last century David Durie was tenant of Bogmill, and after- 
wards of Broombank, G-lenbervie. His son James, who 
died in 1854, and grandson David as before stated, were 
distillers at Fettercairn. The latter died in March, 1899, 
at his family residence in Edinburgh. A younger brother 
James is a civil engineer in America. 

The Strachans, claiming descent from the family of 
Thornton, were very numerous during the seventeenth and 
eighteenth centuries, and a few, eminent in Church and 
State, were connected with Fettercairn. All of the name 
now in the parish are the family at the Post Office. 

The Wallaces, descendants of "the Wallace wight," of 
whom none remain, were also very numerous during the 
same period, as tenants of lands on Dalladies and Drum- 
hondry. George Wallace in the end of last century was 
tenant of Harestone, on the brae of Balfour ; and his son 
George, whose wife was Ann Gibb, farmed Midmains and 
reared a large family. His son Patrick Grant held the 
farm till 1880 and removed to that of Nether Balgillo, 
Tannadice. An older son James held a nineteen years^ 
lease of Balbegno, and left in 1884 for a farm in Sussex. 
His sons are, George, a banker in London ; James, in Dun- 
edin ; and Robert, a land steward in England. 

The Mackies, originally Mackays, a Sutherlandshire 
clan, settled long ago in the parish ; but like others above 
noticed have all disappeared. A hundred years back John 
Mackie farmed Westerton of Balfour. His son John wa& 
a leading medical practitioner in Brechin ; and another son 
was James, who farmed Thornyhill from 1836 to 1880. 
Of his sons, David is a retired banker in London; and 
John, an inventive and successful engineer in Reading. 
A brother of John Mackie, Westerton, whose name was 
David, held the farm of Dalally. His son John emigrated 
to Australia in 1852, and became the father of a prosperous 
family. Another son, Alexander, a successful merchant in. 

Families. 229 

Montrose, was for a term or two its provost. His son is 
Alexander Mackie, banker, Montrose. 

While so many names of long standing have disappeared, 
one or two others have flourished — notably that of Smith. 
Ten or twelve of this name are householders in the parish, 
and four of these rejoice in the name of John Smith. 
The oldest tenant farmer as to occupation is John Smith 
of Balraain. His paternal ancestors were leaseholders in 
the parish. John Smith, V.S., is descended of a long line 
of the name in the village. 

It is curious to find a name repeating itself after the 
lapse of two centuries and a half. In the Edinburgh 
Commisariot of Testamentary Records occurs the name of 
Alexander Don, chapman, Fettercardine, Mearns, 29th 
Nov., 1608." He is the only Don ever heard of in 
Fettercairn, and of him nothing else is known ; but the 
"Man we know" is Alexander Don, now merchant and 
banker, Fettercairn. 

230 Fettercairn. 

Chapter XXXI. 


FEW parishes can boast like Fettercairn of having had 
within its borders, at one time or other, so many men 
eminent in Church and State; particularly, men who played 
their part in the councils of the nation. ^ The last, and 
presumably the greatest of the number, was the Right 
Honourable William Ewart Gladstone, who, for many 
years when a young and rising statesman, had his paternal 
home at Fasque. The distinguished career of the " Grand 
Old Man" is so well known that any account however 
brief would be out of place in these pages. But it may be 
noticed, that when at Fasque he spent much of his spare 
time in visiting the poor and the aged on his father^s 
estates. In later years, the old people of the parish held 
him in grateful remembrance. The late Rev. Dr. M*Cosh 
of Princeton University, formerly of Brechin, states in the 
memoirs of his own life, that one day on the Fettercairn 
road he saw for the first time the future Prime Minister. 
He says : ^* I passed on the road a scholarly looking 
gentleman, evidently not belonging to the district, walking 
thoughtfully along the public road. At the first farmhouse 
I came to, I asked who this gentleman could be. *0,^ 

^Andrew Wood, Sir John Kamsay, Bishop Forbes, John Earl 
Middleton, Sir James Carnegie, Lord Adam Gordon, and others noticed 
in the chapters on landowners. 

Eminent, Men {of the Fast). 231 

said they, *this is Sir John Gladstone's clever son/ The 
people of the place had already discovered his ability." 

The fdlowing brief and somewhat imperfect record of 
natives and residents in the parish is confined to members 
of the learned professions, or to those that have had a 
college or university education. Many more however, 
highly successful as business men, might be included, but 
space forbids. Taking the list in the order of time, the 
first is : 

Andrew Ramsay, A.M., a famous Latin scholar, born in 
1574. He was a son of Sir David Kamsay of Balmain and 
his wife Catherine Carnegie. He probably had his degree 
from the Marischal College and University of Aberdeen. 
He became Professor of Divinity in the University of 
Saumur; was minister of Arbuthnott from 1606 to 1614, 
and a member of the Assemblies of 1608 and 1610; was 
translated to Greyfriars Church, Edinburgh, and afterwards 
to St. Giles. Rector of the University in 1646-7. Deposed 
in 1649 for maintaining the lawfulness of the expedition 
into England. This sentence was recalled in 1655; after 
which he retired to Abbotshall, where he died in 1659, 
aged 85. He dedicated his Poemata Sacra, published in 
1633, to his "illustrious and noble" cousin. Lord Carnegie. 
The dedicatory address is in the form of a Latin poem, 
and only a translation of the part which is of local interest 
need here be given, thus : — 

" The warlike spirits of your ancestors and their martial 
hearts are shown by the fact that the Castle of Carnia^ 
was given to their keeping. Carnia, which derives its 
name from the name of a king, ^ was the castle in former 

^ Kincardine Castle, of which an early progenitor of the Carnegies 
was constable or state-ofiicer. 

2 To wit, King Carnia — quite as fanciful a meaning of Kincardine as 
Mount of Roses is of Mtmtrose. Kincardine means end of the high ground. 

232 Fettercaim. 

times defended by its position and girt with a fosse 
and a (wall of) stone, with lofty buildings rising to heaven ; 
now only fragments of an ancient wall are to be seen — 
places which are laved by the river Ferderius,^ gently 
flowing, clear, with crystal wave, ruler of a sparkling 
water, winding its way in sinuous folds through the pasture 
lands. Once on a time a king's consort bathed in this 
stream with her troop of maidens, and washed her linen 
cloths in the river, and is said to have wrung them with 
her own proud hands. Next to this is the Foisdean 
territory. The word indicates (implies) the fields of the 
enemy; 2 these your ancestors held under their sway, 
having subdued the hostile bands far and wide in war. 
And not only in the lands of the Mearns was your 
valour conspicuous, but Forfar, the capital of Angus, did 
homage to you, at the summit of affairs, ruling the royal 
castle with its towered citadels and battlemented walls," &c. 

Alexander Peter or Peters, son of Robert Petei', Bogen- 
dollo, entered Marischal College in 1768 : was ordained as 
assistant minister of Arbuthnott in 1783, and presented to 
the parish of Logic Pert in 1786. He had the degree of 
D.D. from the University of St. Andrews in 1809, and in 
the same year was translated to the Cross Church, now 
St. John's, Dundee. He died there in 1836. His 
publications were "Sermons," "Account of Logic Pert" 
and of Dundee in part, respectively to the Old and the 
New Statistical Accounts of Scotland. 

The Very Rev. Edward Bannerman Ramsay, fourth son 
of Sir Alexander Ramsay and Elizabeth Bannerman, was 
born at Fasque in January, 1793. A graduate of St. John's 
College, Cambridge, he took orders in the Church of 
England, and served for a few years as curate. He became 

^The Ferdur Burn, erroneously called Ferdun by modern writers. 
Dour is water, as in Douro, Dover, Aberdour, the Dourie, Ac 
- Phesdo means, enemy or no enemy, Thejlat pcunture land. 

Eminent Men (of the Past), 233 

incumbent successively of St. George's Episcopal Chapel, 
St. PauFs, and St. John's in Edinburgh. In 1846 he 
became Dean of Edinburgh. He died in 1872. A handsome 
memorial of him, in the shape of a tall granite cross, stands 
near St. John's Church, at the west end of Princes Street. 
Of his many publications, the most popular is his 
"Reminiscences of Scottish Life and Character." As an 
earnest and devoted minister, a cultured and gentlemanly 
scholar, with a keen sense of his country's humour, he 
had few equals. "* Broad' enough," says a writer, "for 
Dean Stanley's friendship, Ramsay was * High ' enough to 
appreciate Bishop Wordsworth, and yet so evangelical 
that Chalmers found in him one of his most appreciative 

James Foote, eldest son of the Rev. Robert Foote, was 
born at the Manse of Fettercairn in 1781, graduated at 
Marischal College in 1798, was ordained minister of Logie 
Pert in 1809, and translated to the East Church, Aberdeen, 
in 1824. His brother (youngest of the family), Alex. Leith 
Ross, was born in 1803, and graduated in 1821. He 
became minister at Brechin in 1835, and died in 1878. 
Both joined the Free Church, and having written works on 
theological subjects, had the degree of D.D. conferred 
upon them. 

Edward Bannerman Sheriffs, M.D., F.R.C.S., named after 
Dean Ramsay, was the son of George Sheriffs, Fasque, and 
graduated at Marischal College in 1829. He began practice 
in Fettercairn, which he left for Brechin, where in 1832 he 
published " Remarks on Cholera Morbus " ; and afterwards, 
when in Edinburgh, "Osteology of the human ear, 
illustrated by casts." He moved to London and latterly to 
Aberdeen, where he died in 1846, aged 39. At these two 
places he lectured upon Anatomy and Physiology. In 
London he kept a carriage, and also a bagpiper fully 
dressed in *' the garb of old Gaul." 

234 Fetter cairn. 

John Lindsay Stewart, son of James Stewart, farmer, 
Dalladies, was born there in 1831. He attended the 
University of Glasgow, graduated M.D. at Edinburgh in 
1856, and entered the Indian Medical Service as fifth in 
a list of 42 candidates. In the capacity of Assistant 
Surgeon he was present at the siege and capture of 
Delhi. After accompanying subsequent expeditions, he 
officiated as superintendent of a Government botanic 
garden in the north-west provinces, and of the Tea 
plantations in upper India. In 1864 he was selected to 
arrange a system of forest conservancy in the Punjaub, 
and his work lives in the large and flourishing timber 
plantations laid down by him in that country. He came 
back in 1869 to England on furlough, and prepared at Kew 
a Fwest Flora of northern and central India. After his 
return to India in 1872 his health gave way, and he moved 
from Lahore to the hill station of Dalhousie, Punjaub, 
where he died of paralysis in July, 1873, in the forty-third 
year of his age. He made extensive collections of plants, 
not only in the north-west provinces and the Punjaub, but 
in Sindh, Kashmir and the inner valleys of the Himalaya 
bordering on Turkestan and Tibet, and contributed the 
results of his work to various scientific journals. He 
became a prominent member of a few learned societies, and 
w^as regarded as one of the ablest botanists that India has 

Eminent Men (of the Present). 235 

Chapter XXXII. 


THE Rev. Alexander Roberts, D.D., Professor of Human- 
ity in the University of St. Andrews, received a part 
of his early education in the parish, at Old Mains of 
Fasque, under Mr Durward. He entered King's College 
in 1843, as first bursar (.£30) over 108 competitors; 
graduated M.A. in 1847 and gained the Simpson Greek 
Prize of £70. He was licensed by the Presbytery of Brechin 
in 1851, ordained F.C. minister of Stonehaven in 1852, 
called to St. John's Wood, London, in 1857, had D.D. 
from Edinburgh University in 1864, and was appointed 
to tlie Chair of Humanity at St. Andrews in 1871. In 
1870 he was elected a member of the New Testament 
Revision Company. He is the author of various works, of 
which the chief is " Greek, the language of Christ and His 

The Rev. John Falconer, emeritus minister of Ettrick, 
son of the late Alexander Falconer, Bogendollo, was born 
20th July, 1831; attended Fettercairn Parish School; 
entered the Glasgow High School in 1848, and Glasgow 
University in 1849. He studied divinity at St. Andrews. 
Licensed by the Presbytery of Fordoun in 1857, he was 
soon after appointed to the mission church of Ardentinny, 
Lochlong. In 1859 he was elected to the Parish Church of 
North Esk, Musselburgh, and in 1864 was translated to 

236 Fdtefi'caim, 

the church and parish of Ettrick. After a ministry of 
thirty-seven years he retired, and now resides in Edinburgh. 

Alexander Whyte, younger son of the late Rev. Alex- 
ander Whyte, was born at the manse of Fettercairn on 5 th 
March, 1834. He attended the Parish School under the 
Kev. James Low, and thereafter the Arts classes at 
Marischal College, devoting himself to the study of Botany 
and Natural History. After a few years he proceeded to 
Ceylon and settled in business at Colombo, where by long 
experience he qualified himself for preferment. He was 
elected a Fellow of the Zoological and the Linnsean 
Societies. In 1891 he received the appointment of 
Naturalist at the headquarters of the British Central 
African Administration at Zomba, and senior officer under 
the Chief Commissioner, Mr H. H. Johnston, C.B. 
Returning to England in 1897 he brought home an 
immense collection of specimens, and was presented with 
the Zoological Society's medal in recognition of his 
valuable services. He is said to have discovered about 
500 new species of animals and plants in Africa. He 
returned in July, 1898, to undertake in Uganda the 
establishment of experimental gardens, and to aid in 
developing the resources of that country. 

David Hall, A.M., advocate, Sheriff-Substitute of Ayr- 
shire at Kilmarnock, son of the late James Hall, merchant, 
Fettercairn, was born there in 1836. He attended the 
Parish School and the Montrose Academy, and obtained 
medals for Latin, Greek and Mathematics. He proceeded, in 
1851, to Edinburgh University, where he carried off medals 
and other prizes in the senior Humanity and Moral Philo- 
sophy classes. He studied law at the Universities of Berlin 
and Heidelberg, as well as at Edinburgh. In 1859 he was 
chairman of the committee of students who carried Mr 
Gladstone's election as first Lord Rector, and after the 
inaugural address was appointed by the Senatus to present 

Eminent Men (of the Present). 237 

him to the Vice-Chancellor. He was called to the bar in 
1860, and appointed Sheriff in 1883. 

Alexander Cameron, Headmaster of Monikie Public 
School, was born at Glenlyon in 1836, and removed to 
Fettercairn in 1852 ; became pupil teacher in the Parish 
School, and entered the Edinburgh Training College in 1857. 
He was appointed to Fisherrow School, Musselburgh, in 
1860, to the Parish School of Fern, Brechin, in 1865, and to 
Monikie School in 1874. 

Hugh Knox, headmaster of the Public (late Parochial) 
School of Buittle, Castle Douglas, was born at Shettleston in 
1842, removed with his parents to Fettercairn, attended 
the Parish School, served as pupil teacher, entered the 
Edinburgh Training College in 1860, and after finishing 
a successful course and gaining a high certificate wa& 
appointed to his present charge. 

William Cramond, A.M., LL.D., F.S.A. (Scot.), Cullen^ 
was born at Fettercairn in 1844. His education began at 
Lady Harriet Forbes's School, but on removing to Auchin- 
blae he attended the Parish School of Fordoun. He became 
pupil teacher in the Sessional School, Montrose, 1857-61, 
and mainly by private study and assistance from the Rev. 
A. Ritchie, now of Methlick, gained a good bursary at 
Aberdeen University, gained prizes in Classics, Mathema- 
tics, Natural History, &c., and graduated with first-class 
honours in Classics. He passed for a teacher's First Class 
Certificate, and was appointed Parochial schoolmaster 
of Lumphanan, 1868-71, and thereafter of Cullen. He 
received the degree of LL.D. in 1890 from the University 
of Aberdeen. He is the author of " The Annals of Banff," in 
two vols., for the New Spalding Club ; " Annals of Cullen " ; 
"Church and Churchyards of Cullen, Boyndie, Deskford, 
Rathven, Speymouth, and Fordyce"; "Plundering of 
Cnllen House"; "Charters of Banff and Cullen"; "The 
Bade House of Rathven"; "Illegitimacy in Banffshire";. 

238 FeUercairn, 

"TheMilnes of Banff"; "The Castle of Balveny"; "The 
Annals of Fordoun," &c. He was presented in 1892 with 
the freedom of Banff in recognition of his eminent 
attainments as an antiquary. 

The Rev. Thomas Nicol, D.D., Edinburgh, was born at 
Castleton of Kincardine in 1846. After attendance at 
Fettercairn Parish School, he became pupil teacher in 
White's School, Montrose. Almost entirely by private 
study he gained the fourth bursary (204 competitors) at the 
University of Aberdeen, 1864, and became first prizeman in 
Greek and Christian Evidences, and took a high place in Latin, 
Logic, and Moral Philosophy. He graduated M.A., 1868, 
with First Class Honours in Classics and in Moral Philosophy, 
£i.nd carried off the Simpson Greek Prize of .£70, the Hutton 
Prize of £30, and obtained in the same year the Fullerton 
Scholarships for Classics and Philosophy. He studied divi- 
nity one session at Aberdeen, and afterwards at Edinburgh, 
with special distinction in Biblical Criticism, and graduated 
B.D. in 1871. After studying at Tiibingen University he 
was licensed by the Presbytery of Fordoun, assisted in St. 
Stephen's, Edinburgh, was ordained minister of Kells, 1873, 
and translated to Tolbooth Parish, Edinburgh, in 1879. He 
acted as Examiner in Theology, and occasional substitute 
for the professor of Biblical Criticism in the University, from 
which he has had the degree of D.D. for his scholarship 
and eminence in the Church. He is author of "Recent 
Explorations in Bible lands," which has circulated largely 
in Great Britain and America, and his lectures on "Recent 
Archaeology of the Bible" are now published. He was 
Groall lecturer for 1897-98; and since 1886, Editor of the 
Church of Scotland " Home and Foreign Missionary 

George Harris, headmaster of Chapel School, Kirkcaldy, 
was born at Auchinblae in 1849. He removed with his 
parents to Fettercairn, attended the Free Church School, 

Eminent Men (of the Present). 239 

and acted as pupil teacher from 1864 to 1867. After an 
attendance for two sessions at the Edinburgh Free Church 
Training College, he was appointed to his present situation 
in 1869. 

The Rev. Charles Durward, D.D., minister of Scoonie, 
was born at Keith in 1850, and having, in 1859, removed 
with his parents to Fettercairn, attended the Parish School, 
and afterwards the Grammar School of Aberdeen. He 
entered the University of St. Andrews in 1867 ; graduated 
M.A. in 1871, and B.D. in 1874. He was licensed by the 
Presbytery of St. Andrews, ordained to the South Church, 
Greenock, in 1875, and translated to Scoonie in 1881. In 
recognition of his scholarship and of his services to the 
Church, he received the degree of D.D. in 1899 from the 
University of St. Andrews. 

The Rev. Alexander Murray Scott, A.M., minister of 
Commerce Street Free Church, Aberdeen, was born at 
Oldmains of Fasque in 1854. He attended the Free Church 
School of Fettercairn, and served as pupil teacher from 
1867 to 1871. He graduated M.A. at Aberdeen University 
in 1875, was licensed in 1879, and ordained to his present 
charge in 1881. He was, for the term of 1894-7, a member 
of the Aberdeen School Board. 

The Rev. John Fawns Cameron, minister of Blairingone, 
was born at the schoolhouse of Fettercairn in 1855. After 
attending the Parish School and the Aberdeen Grammar 
School he entered the University of St. Andrews. In 1880 
he was licensed by the Presbytery of St. Andrews. Having 
served as missionary at Boarhills under the late Dr. A. K. 
H. Boyd of St. Andrews, and thereafter as assistant at 
Largo under the late Dr. Davidson, and at Crieff under 
the late Principal Cunningham, he was ordained to his 
present charge in 1885. * 

Robert Milne Murray, M.D., son of the late Alexander 
Murray, teacher, was born at Fettercairn in 1855. He 

24rO Feitercairn, 

received his early education from his father, and entered 
the University of St. Andrews in 1871, graduated M.A. in 
1875, proceeded to the University of Edinburgh and took 
the degree of M.B. in 1879. He holds the position of 
Lecturer on Midwifery and the Diseases of Women in the 
School of Medicine of the Royal Colleges; and also the 
appointment of Medical Electrician to the Royal Infirmary 
of Edinburgh. Dr. Murray has written a large number of 
papers on Medical and Scientific Subjects, and is the 
author of a work entitled " Chemical Notes and Equations," 
and also of a Text-book of Midwifery. 

David Prain, M.D., was born at Fettercairn on 11th 
July, 1857, and after attending the Parish School he entered 
the Aberdeen Grammar School in 1872, and the University 
of Aberdeen in 1873. He graduated M.A. in 1878, with 
Honours in Natural Science ; and in the same year acted 
as assistant to the Professor of Botany and to the Curator 
of the Natural History Museum. Having fulfilled an 
engagement as Master in Ramsgate College, he returned 
in 1880 and attended the medical classes at Aberdeen for 
two years, and the same at Edinburgh for one year, 
graduating M.B. and CM. with the highest Academical 
Honours at Aberdeen, and L.R.C.P. at Edinburgh. For 
the session of 1882-3 he was Demonstrator of Anatomy in 
the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh; and for that 
of 1883-4, the same in the University of Aberdeen. By a 
competitive trial in October, 1884, for the Indian Medical 
Service, he gained the highest place, and was posted to the 
Bengal Presidency, where he served for two years on its 
north-eastern frontier. In 1887 he was appointed Curator 
of the Herbarium in the Royal Botanic Garden, Calcutta ; 
and in 1898 succeeded Sir George King as Superintendent 
of the same and of the Cinchona cultivation in Bengal, as 
well as director of the Botanical Survey of India. He 
holds since 1895 the Professorship of Botany in the 

Emhimi Men {of the Present). 241 

Calcutta Medical College, and is a Fellow of several 
learned societies, the Royal and the Botanical Societies of 
Edinburgh, the Linnsean Society of London, and the 
Societe Botanique de France. He published in 1894 an 
elaborate series of Papers detailing the Flora old and new 
of north-eastern India, and likewise of the Laccadive and 
the Andaman Islands. 

The Eev. Alexander Middleton, A.M., B.D., minister of 
St. Margaret's Church and Parish, Arbroath, was born in 
the parish of Birse, and removed to Fettercairn in 1863, 
when his father, the late Hugh Middleton, entered upon 
the farm of Balnakettle. He received his early education 
at the Parish School and the Grammar School of Aberdeen, 
entered the University of that city in 1876, and graduated 
with distinction in 1880. After attending the Divinity 
Classes for a year in Aberdeen, and thereafter in Edinburgh, 
he obtained the degree of B.D., received license in 1884 
from the Presbytery of Fordoun, and was appointed Assistant 
to the Rev. Dr. Marshall Lang, in the Barony Church, 
Glasgow. In 1892 he was ordained to his present charge. 

George Robb, A.M., was born in Fettercairn village in 
1863, and educated at the Parish School. He became a 
junior assistant in the Grammar School of Aberdeen, and 
entered the University in 1882. He graduated in 1886, 
and shortly after was appointed to the situation which he 
now holds, as Rector of the Academy of Rosario Santa Fe, 
Buenos Ayres. 

George R. Croll, A.M., a native of the parish, had his 
early education at Inch School under Mr Murray, the 
Brechin High School, and the Grammar School of Old 
Aberdeen. He entered the University of St. Andrews in 
1882, and graduated in 1887. He acted for a few years as 
Classical Master in Kelvinside Academy, Glasgow, and in 
1897 was appointed Headmaster of the Royal Grammar 
School of Dunkeld. 

242 Fetter cairn. 

George Harper, A.M., was born at Canterland, Mary kirk, 
in 1866. He removed with his parents to Fettercairn, 
attended the Parish School, and served as pupil teacher for 
three years (1880-3). After a session at the Grammar 
School of Old Aberdeen he entered the University of 
St. Andrews as first bursar, in 1884, and graduated with 
Honours in 1890. He was appointed in 1895 to his 
present situation as Headmaster of Slains Public School, 

William Abernethy, A.M., teacher, Coupar Angus, was 
born at Bogmuir on 1st July, 1873, attended the Parish 
School and the Montrose Academy, and served as pupil 
teacher in Fettercairn Public School from 1889 to 1892. 
He entered the Glasgow Established Training College in 
1893 and the Glasgow University in 1895. After gradua- 
tion in 1898, he was appointed to his present situation. 

Administration of Justice. 243 

Chapter XXXIII. 


IN 1532, as before stated, the town of Kincardine became 
the capital of the county ; and the courts were held 
there till 1607. But from the want of proper accom- 
modation and the incursions of Highland raiders, an Act 
of Parliament provided that "the haill lieges within the 
schire should compeir to perseu and defend in their courtis 
at Stanehyve in all tyme heirefter." Till 1767, the seat 
of the court at Stonehaven was a storehouse belonging to 
the Earl Marischal. The proceedings of the first ninety 
years are not recorded. Quoting from the " Black-book of 
Kincardineshire," the second case on record was one from 
Fettercairn concerning the Sunday morning rioters, noticed 
in Chapter VI. It is thus reported : — 

" 1698, 17 March. 

** William Clark at Nether Mill of Balmain, Isobel Dunbar his 
.spouse, Jane Clark their daughter, John Bruce, James Aikenhead, 
Elspet Hampton, and Isobel Walker their servants ; Janet Baine 
At the said mill, Thomas Greig her son ; David CroU in Fettercairn, 
Elspet Clerk his spouse, Euphemia Croll their daughter ; Alexander 
Scott in Harvistoune-muir, Euphemia Clark his spouse, Margaret 
•Cook, and Janet Gentleman their servants ; and Mr David Clark, 
incumbent at the Kirk of Fettercairn, summoned to answer for 
their unchristian, illegal, and masterful troubling and molesting 
Mr Francis Melvill, minister at Arbuthnott, upon the 13th 
February last, in the kirkyard of Fettercairn, being the Sabbath 
-day, when he was bussied about divine service and declaring the 

244 Fettercav-n. 

said Kirk of Fettercairn vacant. And putting violent hands on 
the said Mr Francis, beating and blooding him with stones, rend- 
ing his clothes, and keeping up by themselves and others in their 
names, and of their causing commanding and ratihabition of the 
keys of the said kirk door, and committing wicked insolencies by 
word and deed in proud and manifest contempt of the Laws of the 
Kingdom made in the coiiterar. The saids Isobel Dunbar, Jane 
Clark, John Bruce, James Aikenhead, Elspet Hampton, Isobel 
Walker, Janet Baine, Thomas Greig, Elspet Clerk, Euphan CroU, 
Euphan Clark, Margaret Cook, and Janet Gentleman not compear- 
ing were amertiate in pce^iam contumatiae, ilk one of them in the 
sum of ten pounds Scots ; and also the said Elspet Hampton, 
Isobel Walker, Janet Baine, Thomas Greig, Margaret Cook, and 
Janet Gentleman, being again suinmoned and not compearing^ 
were declared fugitives and their goods escheat ; and the haill 
remanent defenders also being again summoned, and deponing in 
the said matter, by virtue of the Sheriff's Interlocutor, and the 
matter being continued to this day the sheriff absolved the said 
William Clark, Isobel Dunbar, Jane Clark, John Bruce, Jamea 
Aikenhead, David Croll, Elizabeth Clark, Euphan CroU, and 
Alexander Scott, from the crime libelled of putting violent hands 
upon the said Francis Melvill, on the said Sabbath day, or their 
troubling or molesting him or hounding out any person against 
him ; and also he amertiated and fined the said William Clark and 
Alexander Scott, ilk one of them, in the sum of fifty pounds Scots^ 
money for harbouring and resetting the persons afternamed, after 
they had committed the foresaid riot ; and ordained the said 
William Clark with all diligence to apprehend and bring before- 
the sheriff the said Elspet Hampton and Isobel Walker his servants, 
Janet Baine his subtenant and her son ; and ordained the said 
Alexander Scott to apprehend and bring to him the said Margaret 
Cook and Janet Gentleman his servants, under the pain of fifty 
})Ounds for each of them. The sheriff likewise absolved the said 
Mr David Clark from troubling and molesting the said Mr Melvill 
in manner libelled, and yet, nevertheless, amertiated and fined 
him and the said William Clark, and his father for his interest, he 
being in family with him, in the sum of fifty pounds Scots, for 
keeping up the keys of the said kirk door. " 

The same year on April 7th, Margaret Thow in 
Knowgreens was summoned "to underly the law, for 

Administration of Justice, 245 

spoiling, robbing and away-taking a pirn, and breaking a 
lint wheel belonging to Isobel Carnegie, in Balmanno. 
Failed to appear, and was declared fugitive." 

Two cases of theft more directly connected with the 
parish are the following : 

"1698, July 8. John Cowie in Faskie, summoned to underly 
the law for stealing, cutting, and away-taking, under cloud of 
night, several young trees out of the plantation of Faskie, belonging 
to the Laird of Balmain ; And for stealing a certain quantity of 
bear belonging to the Laird of Thornton. Failed to appear — was 
declared fugutive, and all his movable goods declared to be escheat." 

** 1699, 6 February. Katherine Hampton, late servitor to 
George Austine (Craigmoston), and William Hampton, her little 
brother, apprehended . . . imprisoned, and confessed that on 
27th January William Hampton went in at a window of Lady Urie's 
house in the night time, did steal away a burden of clothes, napery 
and sheets, two tailzies of beef, stuff petticoat and gown, and other 
things — all which her brother gave her out. And that upon the 
4th day of January they did steal articles of clothing from William 
Shepherd's house in Findon ; and fowls from the same house, 
which they carried and sold in Aberdeen. She declared that she 
served David Milne in Fettercairn last winter, and William Moris 
in Balmain — and that before that she served David Austin, and 
kept his child. . . . The Sheriff appointed the boy to return to 
school, dismissed him in respect of his tender age, and his promising 
never to do the like again ; And ordained the said Katherine 
Hampton to be scourged through the town, burnt on the shoulder, 
and to stand in the jougs ane hour." 

The cases that follow are those of ordinary theft, for 
which, at the time, capital punishment was inflicted. On 
28th March, 1699, William Edmonstone, "sometime in 
Faskie, in Bogmuir of Eslie in the Parish of Fettercairn," 
and his sons, William, Thomas and Robert, *' prisoners in 
the Tolbooth and thief s hole of Stonehaven," were 
indicted for a series of thefts committed by breaking 
overnight into houses up and down over the Mearns. One 
of these was at Balmakewan, where " they carried off meal. 

246 Feitercaini. 

butter and cheese, hiding themselves in the kiln, some 
amongst the cabers, and some below in the bottom/^ 
Another, by opening with a pass key the "house-door of 
Isobel Croll, at Greenboden, and taking out plaids, clothes 
and meal." Other counts were of similar thefts : by break- 
ing holes for the younger culprits to enter into the victual 
houses of Alexander Gowie at the Mill of Halkerton, and 
of David Melville at Pitgarvie ; and at the latter place, by 
breaking the strong locks of the girnals and carrying off 
" pockfuls of meal, cheese, and a quantity of salt butter, out 
of the kits standing in the said girnals." The most serious 
case against William Edmonstone was, that he on his own 
account went '* under the cloud and silence of night to 
a cot on the Blackburnside, betwixt Rosehill and Inglis- 
mawdie, and did steal and a way-take two wedders and two 
ewes at sundry times," whose remains were found in his 
house at Eslie by Archibald Falconer, macer and daccarer 
(searcher), Fettercairn. The find consisted of "four 
mutton bulks, two loaves of grease, and a pockful of wool, 
with four or five sheeps' heads, and a considerable number 
of singed sheeps' feet, all which, and several other plenishing, 
the deponent (Falconer) as Sheriff's-mare carried to his 
own house." These goods were dealt with by "John Leyes, 
Balmanie's officer, William Clark in Nethermill, and 
Alexander Scott in Hares ton em uir." William Edmonstone 
was likewise accused of another theft of sheep, and of 
taking them to the house of William Carnegie in Bentienook 
of Craigmoston, where they were killed and eaten. 

At the trial, John Irone deponed that he was in 
Coldstream, " two or three rigg lengths from Bentienook, 
and that he had occasion to come to William Carnegie's 
house upon yool-day, about breakfast time, and that he 
saw Carnegie himself have in his hand a hot sheep's haggis, 
which had been taken presently out of the pot," and this 
evidence was held as proof against Edmonstone. Two of 

Administration of Jtistice. 247 

the fifteen *' Assizers" were John Christie in Thenstone, 
and Andrew Watt in Bogmill. 

"J'he * Assyse' through their Chancellor, all in one^roice, ifinds 
William Edmonstone guilty of theft, both by his own confessione, 
and probatine led agt him. The Sheriff- Depute, by the mouth of 
John Frayser, dempster of court, decerns the said William 
Edmonstone to be taken to the Gallowhill upon Monday next, the 
3rd April instant, betwixt the hours of ane and four in the 
afternoon, and there to be hanged on a gibbet till ho be dead, and 
all his moveable goods to be escheat, which is pronounced for doom. " 

A woman, Agnes Muifat, for similar crimes in Fetteresso, 
was convicted by the same "Assyse," and hanged on the 
same gallows. "The Sheriif-Depute appointed their bodies 
to be buried at the Gallows-foot after they are dead." 

In the same year, 1700, John Erskine in Braeside of 

Balfour, broke overnight into the house of Eobert Allan, 

his neighbour, and stole a quantity of meal and other 

goods, "which he did hide in a peat stack in the moss of 

Arnhall, and which were there found hid by the daccarers ; 

for which theft he was declared a fugitive and outlaw." 

When apprehended and brought to trial, for that and a 

few other like offences, he was convicted and sentenced to 

be hanged at the Gallowhill, and his body buried at the 

foot of the gallows. Three of the "Assizers " were, George 

Austin in Craigmoston, John Brown in Dalladies, and John 

Kinloch in Drumhendry. The last named was Chancellor. 

At the same time two persons, Alexander Matheson and 

Christian Welsh his spouse, were tried and convicted of 

resetting the goods stolen by John Erskine. 

"They were sentenced to be scourged through the town of 
Stonehaven by the hands of the common hangman ; and thereafter 
to be brought back to prison, to be carried fettered by the arms, 
in company with John Erskine, condemned thief, to the Gallowhill, 
and there to stay till he be executed, and thereafter to be kicked 
with the foot of the common hangman ; and banishes them this 
shire thereafter for ever, never to be seen therein under the pain 
of death. " 

248 Fettercaim, 

The story of Kandal Courtney's burglary and execution 
at Fettercaim in 1743 has been already given; but why 
the sentence was effected at Fettercaim instead of Stone- 
haven is not recorded. 

In 1747 a John Low, at Easthill of Johnstone, stole 
four oxen and a quey from Andrew Glen in East Mains of 
Balfour, and to escape punishment offered to give back a 
certain number of his own cattle. Glen did not accept his 
offer, whereupon Low agreed to pay one hundred pounds 
Scots, on condition that the theft should not be reported. 
This promise failed, and he petitioned the Sheri£f to let him 
off to America, never to return, on the ground that he was " a 
poor weak creature. " The prayer of the petition was granted. 

During the first half of the eighteenth century many 
minor offences and petty thefts were brought before the 
Baron Court, presided over by Sir Alexander Eamsay. A 
greater number, however, were taken up and disposed of by 
the Kirk Session. Cases of slandering and fighting, as 
well as of Sabbath breaking, came up for settlement ; and 
the offenders had to appear and stand in sackcloth, on one 
or more Sundays, before the congregation. 

For instance, in 1731, '* Isobel Ross slandered David Low, 
servant to Mr Fullerton, weaver, in town of Fettercaim ; 
that he had taken peats from his mother's house to John 
Tailziour's house," for which she was punished. And in 
1741, John Watt in Steelstrath complained that Alexander 
Straton in Bogside had, in William Wallace's smithy at 
Hilton of Dalladies, charged him with stealing a boll of 
malt from the kiln of Robert Wood in Capo, and that to 
keep silence, he was to give the latter a boll of bear and a 
boll of oats. The Kirk Session took up the case, heard the 
parties, and found Straton guilty. They ordered the 
deliverance to be read from the latron to the congregation 
the next Lord's day, to discourage backbiting and slandering 
among the people. 

Administration of Jmtice. 249 

In later times the county policemen became guardians of 
the peace. Fettercairn had its officer; and early in the 
forties, a house and the lockup, now disused, were erected. 
The juveniles of the village regarded the place with 
feelings akin to awe, and were inspired with wholesome 
terror at the idea of being caught by Archie Milne and 
shut up in the darkness of his jail. 

In 1881 a murder was committed in the parish by 
Charles Dinnie, for which he was tried before the Circuit 
Court at Aberdeen and convicted ; but on the plea of 
insanity, his sentence was restricted to confinement for life, 
or during Her Majesty's pleasure. For obvious reasons the 
details need not be given. 

250 Fetterciiirn. 

Chapter XXXIV. 



PAROCHIAL REGISTERS. It has been said that 
divines, lawyers and archaeologists are the only 
people who regard the musty records of the past with a 
business-like and professional interest. But all who take 
any interest in the history of their country, and specially 
in that of their own locality, must feel doubly interested 
in the time-worn books that record the names and deeds of 
those who fulfilled their life-work in former generations. 
And from these documents much of the simple life led by 
"the rude forefathers of the hamlet" can be recovered. 

The oldest register book of the Kirk Session begins with 
the induction of Mr Hercules Skinner, in 1669, and ends 
in 1682. It contains a promiscuous record of baptisms, 
marriage contracts, church collections, disbursements, and 
other incidental proceedings, stated in a very brief and 
cursory manner. There is reason to believe that an earlier 
record existed. In Sir John Clerk's Memoirs it is stated 
that, "according to a Kirk Session Record now lost," 
Bishop Forbes, minister of Fettercairn, baptized a John 
Clerk on 22nd December, 1611. This record may have 
shared the fate of the others, from 1682 to 1720, which 
were lost in the fire at the schoolhouse in 1747. Those 
from 1720 to 1747 were partially destroyed. One of the 
same so far tells the tale. A number of its leaves are half 

Parochial Registers, etc, 251 

consumed, and the parts remaining bear evidence of the 

The frequent changes of schoolmasters and clerks which 
took place from 1737 to 1747 account for the various styles 
of writing upon the portions rescued from the fire. From 
1747 down to 1855, when the Registration Act came into 
operation, the births and baptisms were fairly but not 
fully recorded in one volume after another, now in the 
custody of the Registrar-General. Proclamations of Banns 
were not regularly entered till 1816, when, according to a 
cash entry, a Register book was procured. Whether this 
volume was kept, or what became of it, nobody could tell 
the writer, when in 1852 he became session-clerk. Thus, 
for the period from 1816 to 1850, no record of proclamations 
has been preserved. The supposition is, that the volume 
in question was lent to some Edinburgh lawyers, who in 
1851 wanted extracts bearing upon the famous Morgan 
succession case, and that inadvertently it was never returned.^ 

1 John Morgaii,fof Coates Crescent, Edinburgh, son of Thomas Morgan, 
Brewer, Dundee, having amassed a fortune in India, was, for his later 
ye9,rs, under a Curator bonis, and died in 1850, leaving money and 
property to the value of £100,000. 

Two brothers, Alexander and James Morgan, natives of Fettercaim, 
can)e forward claiming heirship, on the ground that they were cousins- 
german of the deceased, and against other claimants alleging a kinship 
mure remote. After a protracted trial in the Court of Session, a verdict 
of not proven was given against all the claimants, and the funds, 
according to an alternative wish of the deceased, were set apart to found 
an institution — the Morgan Hospital, in Dundee. Although the 
principal claimants in the lawsuits appeared under the names of 
Alexander and James Morgan, their claims were really prosecuted by 
an<l at the expense of a firm of solicitors in Sydney, Cape Breton, to 
whom their prospects had been assigned in return for a yearly annuity 
of £100 to each of the brothers, and of £60 per annum to each of their 
wives after them. As the Court of Session rejected all the claims, the 
speculative Sydney solicitors had not only the cost of their suit to pay, 
but also, for a considerable time, the annuities of the two brothers ; and 
they continued, till a very recent date, to pay the annuity to a surviving 
widow, until her death put an end to their rather unsuccessful speculation. 

252 Fettercaim. 

A register of births, from 1843 to 1855, was kept by 
the Free Church Session, and then handed over to the 
writer as Kegistrar to be delivered to the Registrar-General 
under the provisions of the new Registration Act. During 
the year 1855 the writer, in compliance with the Act, 
recorded about 400 entries of births which had in previous 
years been neglected. 

No register of deaths had ever been kept, other than a 
record of mort-cloth and tombstone charges among other 
entries in the cash books of the Kirk Session. 

The following entries, amongst others in the older books, 
may be quoted, and Scots moneys stated in sterling value. 

In 1678 "George Allan and William Coupar were delated for 
drinking and fighting on Sabbath." Rebuked twice before the 
Congregation. ** Collected 30/ for two merchants of Montrose 
taken prisoners by the Turks. Given 6d. to two Glasgow * broken ' 
merchants suppliants. Given 1/ to George Blacklaw in Brunt- 
iesland (uplands of Dalally) burnt with fire." 

In 1680 '* Isabel Mill and Margaret Walker delated for shearing 
on the evening of the Lord's day." Rebuked before the congre- 
gation on three successive Sabbaths. ** Two men in Fordoun 
parish delated for cursing and swearing." "1723. Given to 
Wm. Clark for mending Wm. Smith's cloaths, Id." " 1729. The 
minister intimated that no sturdy beggars or vagabonds be 
relieved or harboured during the sacrament week, so that their 
alms be kept for their own poor. " 

" 1731. For conveying and convoying a woman with a young 
child throw the mounth, lest she leave it in the parish, 8d." 

" For leather and tackets to mend the lid of the girnall, ^d., and 
for mending the meal brods (weighing boards), 2d. (Scots)." 

" 1736. For a candle to Margt. Milne before and after her 
death. Id." 

"1741. To John Crocket for sugar and salt got to Janet Bruce, 1 d. " 

"For carrying the foresaid woman to Brechin, lOd. For a 
horse to carry the woman to Fordoun, 4d. To carrying a madman 
to Fordoun, 6d." 

" 1758. To Alexr. Blenchart for taking care of Jean Glen 
deprived of her judgment, 7/." "For a coffin to Isobel Clerk, 
dead, 3/4." 

Parochial Registers, etc, 253 

Bequests. Of the benefactors to the poor of the parish, 
the earliest on record is that of James Black, who, as- 
before stated, died in 1750, and left to the Kirk Session 
200 merks for the poor, and 50 merks to uphold the 
Gannochy Bridge. The next is that by Alexander Christie, 
Provost of Montrose, who died in 1791 and left £50, of 
which the interest was to be distributed annually in 
January, and prefeiably to persons of the name of Christie. 
" He bestowed the gift in memory of his father. Provost 
Thomas Christie,^ who was born in the parish of Fettercairn."^ 

Sir Alexander Ramsay Irvine died in 1806, and 
bequeathed to the Kirk Session the sum of £450, to be 
managed at sight of, and with the approval of, the 
proprietor of Balmain ; the interest to be divided among the 
poor. After the passing of the Poor Law, in 1845, the 
distributions were restricted to those not on the Parochial 
Roll. The capital sum, together with other funds, were 
lent to the late William Shand of The Burn, and after his 
bankruptcy and death, in 1834, they were reduced to a 
small amount. His representatives, to a considerable extent 
by voluntary contributions, made up the fund to nearly 
one half its original amount. 

Early in the century Robert Valentine, tenant, BogendoUo^ 
left £50; and Anthony Glen, manufacturer, Luthermuir, 
£20 ; and these sums were distributed among the poor of 
the parish, in compliance with the will of the donors. 

George Cooper, merchant, Slateford (Edzell), died in 
1831 ; and among legacies for Educational and other 
purposes to Edzell, left £20 for the poor to the Kirk Session 
of Fettercairn, and £20 for immediate distribution among^ 
the poor in the Arnhall district of the parish. 

^ He died in 1765, according to his tombstone in the north glebe of 
Montrose old churchyard. Provost Alexander Christie, along with 
Mrs Carnegie of Charlton, founded the Montrose Infirmary and the 
Lunatic Asylum in 1781, the latter being the first of its kind in Scotland.. 

254 Fetferaiim. 

James Smith, fiaxdresser in Fettercairn, died in 1816, 
leaving a widow. By his will he settled that after her death 
his property, consisting of money and houses, should 
be managed by trustees for behoof of indigent persons 
in the parish and district. In terms of the deed, a 
succession of trustees has been kept up, to meet every 
December for the despatch of business, **to dine in the 
hotel and distribute the proceeds," which now arise from 
the rents of a tenement at the Burnside of Fettercairn. 

Mrs Christina Rew or Galium, Laurencekirk, left, at 
her death in 1846, to the Parish and Free Church ministers 
of Fettercairn £50 each, with the annual interest to 
provide Bibles for the aged poor, and Sunday School 
requisites for the children in attendance. 

A few years ago two brothers, James Johnston, Raw of 
Balmaiii, and John Johnston, Gallowhillock, bequeathed 
£10 each to be distributed among the poor of the parish. 

Ramsay Bursaries. As the sole patronage and right 
of presentation of these valuable bursaries was bequeathed 
to Sir Alexander Ramsay, Bart, of Balmain, and to the 
lairds of Balmain of the name of Ramsay for ever, it is of 
importance that special notice should be taken of them 
here. In making choice of a presentee to any vacant 
bursary, the patrons have all along shown a preference for 
local candidates ; consequently many young men belonging 
to Fettercairn and its immediate neighbourhood have been 
enabled to go to college from the fortunate circumstances 
that the "Lairds of Balmain" have been so closely 
associated with the parish. 

The bursaries now in the patronage of Sir Alexander E. 
Ramsay are no fewer than seventeen in number: eight 
Ramsay Bursaries available at St. Andrews University, 
«ight at Aberdeen University, and one Glenfarquhar 
Bursary, which is available at Aberdeen. It goes without 

Parochial Registers^ etc, 255 

saying that this extensive patronage has involved the 
successive Baronets of Balmain in great responsibility of 
selection and labour of correspondence, a task which has 
invariably been cheerfully undertaken and carried through 
with admirable judgment and unfailing kindness and 

The bursaries at St. Andrews were founded in 1681 by 
the Rev. John Eamsay, Minister of Markinch, who mortified 
his lands of Duniface for the maintenance and education 
of youths at the University of the ancient city by the sea. 
Their value used to be about £30, but now they are 
probably not more than from £20 to £25 per annum. 
They may be held for eight years, provided that the 
bursar takes the degree of M.A. at the end of his Arts 
course, and afterwards proceeds to the study of Divinity at 
St. Mary's College. The balance of the money proceeding 
from the Endowment is devoted to two Ramsay Scholarships, 
which are open to competition. 

The Ramsay Bursaries, available at Aberdeen, were 
founded in 1727 by Mr Gilbert Ramsay, Rector of Christ 
Church, Barbadoes, who bequeathed the sum of £4800 
for the education of youths at Aberdeen. In 1802 
Sir Alexander Ramsay Irvine gave an additional sum of 
£1000, by which the endowment was supplemented and 
the original value of the bursaries increased. Four are 
available for Divinity, and are of the value of £20, and 
four for Arts of the value of £24, the additional £4 being 
derived from an earlier bequest of £400 made in 1714 by 
Gilbert Ramsay for the benefit of the students belonging to 
Birse, his native parish. 

The Glenfarquhar Arts Bursary, bequeathed by Sir 
Alexander Falconer in 1717, is of the annual value of 
sixteen guineas, and is tenable for four years. 

Savings Bank. A Parish Savings Bank was established 

256 Fettercaim. 

by the late Sir John S. Forbes and the Rev. Alex. Whyte 
in 1831, which was among the first of the kind in Scotland. 
For a number of years down to 1858, when it became a 
branch of the National Security system, the deposits and 
withdrawals did not exceed £150 and £100, respectively. 
They are now five or six times as large, and the amount at 
the credit of depositors is nearly six thousand pounds. 

Meteorology, Woods aiid Plantations. 257 

Chapter XXXV. 


METEOEOLOGY. The following particulars, not devoid 
of interest, are culled from a record of weather 
observations taken daily at Fettercairn during the forty 
years from 1855 to 1895, and reported every month by 
the writer to the Scottish Meteorological Society. 

The mean or average summer heat for that period is 
59 degrees (Fahrenheit), of winter 36, and the annual mesin 
47. The highest reading of the Thermometer was 84 degrees 
on 16th July, 1876 ; and the lowest 3° below zero, or 35 
degrees of frost, on the morning of 10th February, 1895. 
On the 9th it was 0°, and on the 11th V below zero, 
or 33 degrees below the freezing point. 

The average number of days on which any rain or snow 
fell is 177, and the mean depth 33*5 inches. The 
rainiest day in the forty years was the 12th of June, I860, 
with a fall of 3 in. ; but the heaviest shower, still remem- 
bered, took place from the bursting of a thunder cloud on 
the hills, between the hours of two and four on the afternoon 
of the 8th August, 1861. The fall was 2*5 in. The burn 
overflowed its banks, covered the adjacent fields, and flooded 
the burnside houses of the village to an alarming extent. 
The rainiest week was in August, 1874, when on the six 
days, from the 9th to the 14th, the fall was 4*44 in., 
or one-seventh of 31 in., that of the whole year. 

258 Fetter cairn. 

The rainiest month was December, 1876, with a fall of 
10 inches. The wettest year as a whole was 1872, with 
218 rainy days, and 57*7 in., of which 9 1 in. fell in 
February; and on the 22nd of September the hills and 
higher grounds were covered with snow. The next wettest 
year was 1877, with 198 rainy days, and a fall of 45*34 in. 
In only seven of the forty years did the amount exceed 
40 inches. In 1864 snow fell and covered the ground on 
the 29th of May. 

The driest year was 1887, with only 153 days on which 
any rain or snow fell, and the total was only 22*8 

The highest reading of the Barometer, 30*50 in., was 
taken 30th January, 1895, and the lowest, 27*2, on 26th 
January, 1884. Of wind storms, one may be mentioned 
which in February, 1864, blew down a pinnacle of the 
church spire ; another,' the Tay Bridge storm, in Dec, 1879, 
which blew down another, and did much damage all over 
the country. But the most destructive wind storms were 
those of the 28th Nov., 1892, and of the 17th Nov., 1893, 
and more especially the latter, which in sad reality 
destroyed the woods and plantations of the parish to an 
extent never before seen. Two causes may be assigned 
for the greater extent of damage by this storm. First, 
that it blew from the north, on which side the trees were 
less firmly rooted than on the south and south-west ; 
and next, that a heavy fall of rain on the previous day had 
softened and loosened the soil about their roots. 

Woods and Plantations. Few parishes in the north- 
east of Scotland are more highly favoured than Fettercairn 
in respect of woods and plantations. Traces of ancient 
woods remain ; but at the beginning of the eighteenth 
century the district was bare and without shelter. The 
stately trees that adorn the policies of Fettercairn, Fasque, 

Meteorology^ Woods and Plantations, 259 

Balbegno, and The Burn were all planted within the last 
two hundred years. The majestic beeches and hardwood 
trees of Fasque were planted, as already noticed, by Sir 
David Ramsay and his successors, in the early years of last 
century. Among these may be noticed some ten or twelve 
of the old beeches behind Fasque House, which were 
uprooted by the storm of October, 1838, and which, by the 
enterprise of Sir John Gladstone, were lopped of their top 
branches, and with block and tackle raised and set up to 
take root again and renew their growth. In course of a 
few years they throve and feathered so well that in 
appearance they looked quite like the other monarchs of 
the forest. But, alas ! they fell again by the storm of 
1893 ; and from the immensely increased size and weight of 
their trunks and limbg, any attempt to raise them a second 
time would have proved a failure. 

The tall and straight larches, spruces and silver-firs in 
the Den of Fasque, as well as the adjacent forest of beeches 
now uprooted and broken, were admired by all. One very 
large silver-fir near the garden, and in the hollow of the 
burn (the largest tree in the parish), escaped the fury of 
the blast. From its trunk, 14 feet in girth and 10 feet in 
height, spring four immense and straight up limbs, whose 
tops rise to at least the height of 100 feet. A few of the 
stately ashes and other hardwood trees in the policies of 
Fettercairn are very old ; but the surrounding forests of 
different sorts are of later growth, and were planted by 
Sir John Belsches in the end of last century. The beautiful 
belt of beeches along the Cairn road was levelled by the 
storm of 1893. Sir John also planted the valuable fir 
■clump at Gourdon, known as Lady Jane's wood. Many of 
the old and decaying ash trees about the village are 
indigenous or self-planted. The soil is so congenial that 
the young plants spring up every summer like the weeds 
in the village gardens. The trees around the manse and 

260 Fettercairn, 

glebe were planted by the late Mr Muir, the minister in 
the second decade of the century. 

The beeches and Scotch firs of Balbegno may date from 
the second decade of last century, when John Ogilvy 
was proprietor. The beautifully grown Scotch firs of The 
Burn, below Bonhary, were probably planted by the 
Forbeses of Balfour at the same period. But the greater 
part of The Burn woods were planted by Lord Adam 
Gordon in the end of last century. The laird's advice to- 
his son, " To be aye plantin' a tree," has been diligently 
followed by the later proprietors, as may be instanced by 
the extensive plantations along the hillside of Balnakettle 
and Balfour, made within the last fifty years by the late 
Sir Thomas Gladstone. In this account some very old 
trees remain to be noticed. One of the oldest is the 
Spanish chestnut, on the roadside below Balbegno. Its 
general appearance and the decay in its branches confirm 
the belief, supported by tradition, that it ranks in age with 
the castle, or about 350 years. The yew tree at the castle 
and the other seven or eight in the garden were no doubt 
planted there by the first occupiers to supply wood for 
bows, before firearms were invented. For the same purpose, 
in old times, yews were planted in churchyards. The 
largest of the Balbegno yews, two feet up, is 8 ft. in girth. 
One of the hollies remaining in the garden is also 8 ft. in 
girth, and four feet up is 6| ft. The trunk is 15 ft. in 
height. Considering these dimensions and the slow growth 
of holly, this tree must be as old as its neighbours. In the 
adjoining park there remains part of an overgrown holly 
hedge, which had probably formed the boundary of a lawn 
or green. At Balfour may be seen a line of very tall 
hollies, evidently the overgrowth of a hedge near the site 
of the old mansion-house. At Fasque House a holly of 
large dimensions, growing on a mound, displays its beauty ; 
and as a relic of the olden time deserves to be carefuUv 

Meteorology, Woods and Plantations, 261 

preserved. The lovely but decaying laburnums in Fetter 
cairn House grounds show that they are at least as old as 
the south part of the mansion, built by the Earl 
Middleton in 1666. ^ 

This account may be closed with a notice of twi 
known trees, both standing alone, the one in the coi. 
and the other in the village. " Peter Robbie's tree," a 
and beautiful birch below Surgeonshall, on the Maryki. 
road, is now the only mark left of a house and croft occupied 
eighty-five years ago by Robbie, who had been minister's 
man for many years to the late Mr Foote, and whose 
maternal grandson is John Lyall, blacksmith, Balfour. 
The other in the village is "The Baker's tree," right in 
front of the baker's shop, or "The Teetotal tree," so 
<;alled from some reference to the Temperance Hotel, now 
Kirkhill farmhouse, which it overshadows, as seen in the 
illustration. It marks the line of the old fence removed 
for the railing erected by Lord Clinton. Upon its trunk, 
for many a day, public notices and advertisements have 
been nailed; so that no saw will ever cut it up with 
impunity. Hundreds of horse shoe nails, borrowed from 
the adjoining smithy and driven into its aged trunk, 
display the warning of the national emblem, "Nemo me 
impune lacessit." 

\ Fetiercairn. 

the K 
was ^ 


Chapter XXXVI. 


A FEW cursory remarks on the state of agriculture, 
chiefly in the eighteenth century, will not be out of 
place in these pages. If the state of matters in former 
times and the improvements which have been effected 
be duly considered, the people of the present day have 
reason to be thankful for the change. 

The closing years of the seventeenth century were years 
of dearth and famine, owing to a succession of deficient 
crops, and at the time of the Union the 'condition of the 
country was very low ; and during the years that followed 
wars and troubles retarded agriculture. Much of the land 
lay in a state of marsh and waste ; and where we now find 
fertile and well-tilled fields, there were either barren 
wastes or bogs and pools in which the cattle stuck when 
turned out lean and weak at the end of winter. For want 
of trees and hedgerows to enclose the fields, the general 
appearance of the country, especially in winter, was wild 
and dreary. The use of carts and wheeled vehicles was 
rare in the first half of the century ; and the roads being 
mere bridle paths, creels and panniers on horseback were 
the only means of conveyance. Farm implements, rude 
and clumsy, were all made of wood ; and instead of the 

Agriculture and Old Ciistoms. 263 

ropes and chains now used, twisted withs and willows did 

The wooden plough, a clumsy instrument, with its long 
beam and short stilts, was dragged by oxen driven by the 
gaudsman, who poked them with his goad and whistled a 
certain tune to cheer them up. If horses were yoked, 
they were led by a man walking backwards. Sometimes 
the oxen took a stubborn turn, and would neither be driven 
by the gaud nor led by the charms of the whistling, and 
hence the old proverb, " There 's muckle whistlin' for little 
red Ian'"; and from the gaudsman's occasional "sweerness" 
or inactivity arose the saying, " They 're sweer to ca' that 
let the gaud fa'." If the oxen became unmanageable it 
was not unusual to blame the witches. One plough served 
for each "farm toon" or crofter hamlet. The work was 
badly done, as time did not permit to give the soil more 
than one turn over. The riggs were gathered to the 
crown, so that the fields became a series of long, narrow 
mounds off which the water ran, and this was the only 
system of drainage in use. Dung was carried out in 
currachs or wicker creels hung across a crook saddle, one on 
each side of the horse ; and " coupin' the creels " became a 
bvword, when the man on one side filled faster than 
his neighbour on the other and destroyed the balance. 
Before the introduction of potatoes, turnips and green 
crops in the end of the century, the heaviest work of 
spring was the dunging and seeding of the "bear land"; 
and for it, during a week or two, even the clergyman's 
daily ministrations were suspended. Grain was carried in 
sacks across the horses' backs to the mill or the market ; 
the animals on^ the narrow pathway following each other 

^ The back chain of a cart is still called the riywoody. The tenant of 
Inch, whose surname was Pressock, was bound in his lease to render a 
quantity of ropes made from the roots of trees du^r from the north moss 
of Arnhall. 

264 Fettercairn, 

in single file with the halter tow of the second horse tied to 
the tail of the first, and so on to the last, however many in 
number. The cutting of the crop with the toothed hook 
was a work that required many hands. When the hooks 
requiied sharpening, they were taken to the smithy to be 

The work of threshing was done on the larger farms by 
the barn man and his flail ; but on the smaller holdings 
by the men, with candle light in the winter mornings, to 
provide a daily supply of straw for the cattle. A breezy 
day was chosen for winnowing the grain, with wechf or 
hand fan between the opposite doors of the barn, which 
generally stood crosswise to the direction of the prevailing 
winds. Towards the end of the century fanners were 
introduced, and the raising of wind by them was regarded 
as "awfu' uncanny." Every mill had its hillock, upon 
which in favourable weather the shelled grain was winnowed. 
Before the invention of sifting apparatus, people, generally 
women, had also to attend and sift at the grinding of their 
** melder," or the quantity sent to be ground. 

In former times people depended mostly for food on the 
produce of their own fields ; and when bad seasons came 
round they endured all the miseries of hunger and 
starvation. In 1681 the crops failed. In the end of June 
a fast was held in Fettercairn and other parishes "for the 
scorching drought that threatened the fruits of the ground." 
Dearth and famine followed so much in some northern 
parishes, that it is said half the people perished, and the 
other half were too weak to bury the dead. The winters 
of 1715 and 1740 were long and severe. The frost of 1740 
continued for five weeks ; a cold summer followed and made 
the crops a failure. The worst year of the century was 
1782. The summer was so wet and cold that the corn 
began to shoot only in the end of August. With a severe 
frost on the 5th of October, and a heavy snowstorm in the 

Agriculture and Old Customs, 265 

end of that month, the crops — even such as had got beyond 
the green stage — were entirely ruined. Very little of the 
grain was fit for next year's seed. That "snawy hairst" 
was long remembered. To relieve the distress, meetings of 
the county gentlemen were held, and money was collected 
to bring supplies from England. With aid from Government 
shiploads of meal and pease were imported, to be sent in 
xjuantities and sold or otherwise distributed. For the sake 
of economy, all idle dogs and other useless animals were 
destroyed ; horses were fed on straw and bruised whins ; 
bear was not malted ; and other means were used for the 
saving of provisions. In the Highlands and Islands, shell-fish, 
salted snails, nettle-broth, and blood drawn daily from the 
cattle, eked out the food supply during the summer months. 

The Kirk Session of Fettercairn kept a "girnal" to supply 
doles of meal to the poor, that were more than doubled in 
number by the prevailing distress. The large number 
reduced to poverty continued for years to depend upon 
charity; and for 1800 to 1801, when the crops failed from 
drought, meal and provisions rose to famine prices, and the 
list of poor people was more and more increased. 

In the early part of last century the farmhouses were 
wretched hovels, low, damp, and dirty ; the people and the 
cattle were very much alike for accommodation. Where 
stones were scarce the walls were composed, at least in the 
upper part, of "feal" (turf), or mud and straw. Along 
narrow building covered with divots and thatch formed, in 
the better end, the "ben" (be in) and the "but" (be out) 
of the family dwelling ; and a continuation of the " but " 
or kitchen, beyond a rough wooden partition, held the 
cattle ; so that even the croonin' or snoring of the beasts 
could be heard at the fireside, or by " the gudeman in bed 
ayont the hallan." In front of the house, and only a step 
or two from the door, stood the dung hole — a deep area — 
filled with solids in winter and stagnant water in summer, 

266 Fetter cairn. 

where pigs and poultry held riot, and into which, after 
nightfall, people frequently stumbled. When a house, byre 
or barn required repair or renewal, the neighbours gathered 
and gave a "love darg" (friendly turn) to complete the 
work, which, with the help of many hands, was often done 
in a single day. 

Towards the end of the century a new and improved 
style of houses and farm buildings was introduced. The 
two-story dwelling-houses, now rather old-fashioned, but 
substantially built of stone and lime, slated at first with 
Turin slabs, are still to be seen on several farms of Fasque 
and Balmain estates, and were mostly erected by Sir 
Alexander Ramsay Irvine. Even these better houses of a 
hundred years ago lacked the comfortable furnishings now 
in use. The first fifteen years of this century passed 
before any house in the parish, except the proprietors' 
mansions and the manse, could boast of a carpet. 

In the olden times the people lived very much upon oat 
cakes, barley bannocks, and pease bread. W beaten bread 
was used only on very special occasions, such as marriages 
and funerals. A hundred years ago it was customary with 
the Fettercairn farmers to attend the Montrose Friday 
market, and bring home each to his good wife a small loaf 
to keep the "aumri" (press), and serve for the week's 
drams and special treats. Kail-brose, or greens boiled and 
oatmeal stirred together, formed the supper dish during 
winter in the farmer's kitchen, and part of the boiled kail 
was left to be heated for breakfast. And who of the older 
members of the Fettercairn Farmers' Club can forget 
"The Kail-brose of Auld Scotland," so gleefully sung at 
the Club dinners by the late Mr Vallentine of Bogmuir ? 

A common article of food, hardly ever seen now, was 
sowens or flummery, made from the husks or sif tings of the 
oatmeal at the mill. These were steeped in a vessel among 
water till the mixture became sour. The thick pulpy part. 

Agriculture and Old Customs. 267 

separated through a strainer and boiled, made with a 
supply of milk a very nutritious and wholesome dish. 

It may be roughly stated that the rates of farm servants' 
wages about the middle of last century were only one-sixth 
of what they are now ; at the end of it, only one-fourth ; 
and fifty years ago, about one-half of the present amount. 
To a great extent wages were paid in kind; sometimes 
wholly, as in the case of shepherds who received the 
produce of so many sheep gi-azed with those of their 
masters. Married servants were allowed a piece of ground 
to cultivate in their spare hours. Women servants were 
paid in part with flax or wool to be spun by them in the 
winter evenings. 

A glimpse of ancient rent items and farming customs^ 
may be obtained from the following notes of a new lease^ 
for nineteen years of the farm of Balnakettle, granted in 
1768 by Sir Alexander Kamsay Irvine to Kobert Falconer 
the tenant. The money rent was £20 stg. Of the produce, 
thirty bolls of oatmeal and ten bolls of bear were to be 
delivered at Montrose; four dozen hens, but "their value 
to be deducted from the above money rent, at the rate of 
five shillings stg. per dozen." The grain of the farm, 
except bear and seed, must be ground at the mill of Balmain,. 
paying Y19 of the same as mill dues. The minister's and 
schoolmaster's dues had to be paid ; also those of the ground 
officer, which were two pecks for each chalder's farming. "^ 
The services required were : To plough, dung and harrow 
yearly two acres " possest by Arthur Forbes, without fee,, 
except victuals to the servants " ; to cast, win and lead 
from the hill "a proportion of peat and turf to Fasque, or 
pay for the same"; to give one day's work of all his 
shearers in harvest; to carry to Fasque 7 bolls of shell 
lime from Mathers, 100 slates from Turin, 5 firlots of coal 
from Montrose. Also, 7 carriage horses to Montrose ; and 
lastly, to give one day's labour " of all his horses, carts and 

i268 Fettercairn. 

servants for dunging the land at Fasque." And, at the 
expiry of the lease, twenty acres of infield had to be left in 
sown grass of one, two, or three years old. All the above 
items put together might probably amount to one-third 
of the present rent. The rental of the whole parish was 
only about £3500, or a similar proportion. In those days 
the braes of Balnakettle, like portions of other farms, were 
partly occupied by sub-tenants or crofters. The foundations 
of three or four of their homesteads are still traceable 
along the golf course on the hill slope. One of them was 
Skairhews. Its occupant flitted down the country, and 
depreciated the old place in the following plain terms : — 

"It was as bad as ever man sat upon, but it had some good 
things about it. There was aye plenty of meat for man and beast 
all the days of the year, water in summer and fire in winter, with 
shelter all the airts the wind blew. Fire was not ill to get, plenty 
of sods and peats and nothing to pay for them as for coals here. " 

Markets. Mention has been made in a previous chapter 
that the right to hold a weekly market in Fettercairn was 
granted by James IV., in 1504, and that Earl Middleton 
obtained a renewal of the grant. These markets were orig- 
inally held on the ground now occupied by the Public School 
and its playground, which in former days was known as 
the Market Park, where cattle, sheep, &c., were sold. But 
-coming down to a more recent date, hiring markets were 
held regularly in the village at the terms of Whitsunday 
and Martinmas. The main object of course was servant- 
feeing, but these days were observed as general holidays in 
the parish. Less than forty years ago the village street 
and square used to be lined with stalls containing sweets 
and all sorts of wares, all the way from the bridge up to the 
cross. Each *' Jock " was expected to treat his own special 
"Jean," and many others besides, on market-day. It was 
-an event to which school children looked forward with 

Agi'kulture and Old Customs, 269 

great delight, especially to the Whitsunday market, which 
was the more important; and on the day preceding that 
great event, one could hear the village bairns singing : — 

" The cocks are a' crawin*, and the hens are a' lay in', 
For the morn 's the merry, merry market day." 

A few cattle used to appear for sale, huddled together 
in small groups to the east of the cross ; and near the cross 
itself were exposed for sale a few tubs, butter-kits and 
milk-cogues, made by David Hughes, the worthy and 
well-skilled carpenter, who every year at Yule generously 
provided a supply of teetotums for the youth of the village. 
In the throng of the market cheap Johns jabbered about 
their wares, and usually drove a roaring trade; and 
occasionally could be seen some of the light-fingered 
fraternity, who affected to drop half-crowns into a purse and 
induce unwary young ploughmen, rendered somewhat 
sportive by a dram or two at the Forbes Arms or the 
Eagle Inn, to make bold bids, to their ultimate loss. But 
these scenes are now no more. The Fettercairn markets 
are dead and gone for more than thirty years, and soon will 
be altogether forgotten. An anecdote, supplied to Dean 
Kamsay by the Rev. Mr M*Clure, illustrating the cleverness 
of a boy waiting to be hired at one of the last Fettercairn 
markets, may fittingly close this chapter : — 

The boy was asked by a spruce farmer if he wished to be 
engaged. "Ou ay," said the youth. **Wha was your last 
maister?" was the next question. **0h, yonder him," said the 
boy ; and he agreed to wait where he stood with some other 
youths till the enquirer should return from examination of his 
late employer. The former returned and accosted the boy. 
** Weel, lathie, I've been speerin' about ye, an' I'm to tak' ye." 
"Ou ay," was the prompt reply, "an' I've been speerin' about 
you tae, an' I 'm nae gaen ! " 

^70 Fetter cairn. 

Chapter XXXVII. 


THE aggregate number of farms, crofts and homesteads, 
old and new, in the parish was stated in chapter II. 
to be 114. Of that number only about 76 are now 
inhabited — the remaining 38, or one-third of the whole, 
are old and extinct homesteads, of which in many cases 
no trace remains other than their names, as recorded in the 
Parish Registers, and in the landowners' estate papers. To 
not a few of them it is now impossible to assign their 
respective localities. The place-names of the parish are 
very nearly one half wholly or partly Celtic, and one half 
purely Saxon : some three or four of the latter are new 
names of habitations recently founded. Places were 
originally named not indiscriminately, but with due regard 
to some peculiarity or leading feature of the locality. 
Down to a time not very remote, Gaelic was the universal 
language of the people, and their homesteads stood on the 
high and dry spots where the soil was good, with natural 
drainage and easy cultivation. This explains the reason 
why the names of all such localities, as well as of the 
farms and holdings on the hill slopes, are nearly all Celtic. 
Along the braes and higher grounds of the parish which, 
in ancient times, were the thickly populated parts, we find 
many of the names beginning with the prefix Bal, a home 
or town, as Balbegno, Balnakettle, Balfour, &c. And 

Place-Namea. 271 

others with Dniniy a ridge, as Drumhendry, and Ar7i, 
tilled land, as Arnhall, &c. 

The low-lying, wet and marshy lands were left by the 
Celts to be drained and improved by the generations that 
followed and ceased to speak the old language ; so that 
new homes and holdings on these lands received names 
purely Saxon, as Boarstone, Causewayend, Moss-side, 
Nethermill ; or Scotch, as Meikleha', Rashiemyres, Eeekit- 
lane, &c. The names of places recently founded are 
Mossbank, Primrosehill, and Westburn. Not a few place- 
names on the. improved lands of the parish have either 
Celtic prefixes or postfixes, as Bog, a marsh, in Bogmuir and 
Blairbog ; Cairfi, a heap, in Cairngreen ; Craig^ a rock, in 
Craighill ; Crichie^ clayey, in Crichieburn ; Hare, a landsend, 
in Harestone ; Srath or Strath, a valley, in Meiklestrath 
and Littlestrath. 

A complete list of the parish place-names need not be 
given here; those of purely Saxon etymology may be 
omitted. The rest being of Celtic origin are mostly those 
with the same meanings as given by Surgeon-General 
W.G-.Don, with the help of the writer, in his "Archseological 
Notes," recently published, and run as follows : — 

Arnhall — Ar, tilled land ; alia, high, or alluidhj pleasant. Or 
from am, alder, and hall (Saxon). 

Balbegno — Bed, town ; beg, little ; no or iioth, watery place 
(anciently, Balbegnoth). 

Balmain — Bal, town ; main or meadhon, middle. The mid-town 
between Balbegno and Esslie. 

Balfour — Bal, town ; fuar, cold or watery. 

Balnakkttle — Bal, town ; na, of ; kettle, den ; or ceit, sunn^', with 
goll, gorge. Old crofts on Balnakettle were, Craigieleith — 
Craig, a rock {i.e., diminutive); lei, water. Skairhughes — 
Skeir, rocky hill ; ginbhas, fir- wood. Skairruids — Skeir, with 
roids, bog-myrtle. . Stranosbn — Sraih, a valley ; an oiseinn, 
of the corner ; and the hill above, BANNOCK^i?ow?^ac^, circular 
or bonnet flat. 

272 Fetter cairn. 

Barna, anciently Ballernoch — town on the eminence. 

Bilbo, now Toghills cottages — Bil, border ; 60 or both, dwelling. 

B(m;endollo— 5o</, marsh ; a??, of ; du-loch, block lake. Old name, 

Blacklatch — latch, a mire. 
Bonhary — Bo or both, dwelling ; airidh, green spot on the hill. 
Capo — Ceap, projecting ; o or och (auch), field. Compare Keppoch, 

Craigniston — Craig, rock ; innisy island ; and town — Mains of 

Craigniston, the up{>er part of Coldstream farm. 
Ualally — Dal, field ; alluidh, high or pleasant. 
Dalladies — Dal, with lei f hid aighia, terraces. The farm of ter- 
raced fields. 
DisCLUNE — Deiii, south ; cluain, green. Compare Clunie. 
Denstrath — Dun, hill ; strath, valley. 
Drumiiendry, corruption of the old name Urumry — Drum, a ridge, 

and ruighe, extended high ground. 
EssLiE — Aift, elevated site ; lighe, water. The height overlooking 

the old lake. 
Fasque (formerly Faskie) — Faaga, shelter ; duhh, black or dark. 

Compare Fascally, the loooded shelter, 
Flatnadriech — Plat, plot ; na-driech, of the dark or shaded place. 
CtARROL or Garron (the hill above Fasque) — Garbh, rough; meall, 

hill, or dwi, fortified hill. The first is the older name, and 

perhaps more correct than Garron as now called. 
GouRDON — Garadh, garden ; dun, eminence. 
Inch — Innis, island ; the high ground in the surrounding bog. 
Leith (part of the village) — Leehe, water. Compare Leith, Druni- 

lithie, &c. 
MoNDUFF (hill above Tliainston) — Monadh, hill ; duhh, dark. 
Stankeye — Stang, ditch or water hollow ; duMe, black. 
Steelstrath — Steal I, stream ; sraih, valley of outlet drainage. 
Tarrywinnox (at West Woodton) — ivinnox, windows ; hollows in 

the hill through which the sun shone when low in winter. 
Thornyhill — Torrainalliiidh ; Torrain, hillocks ; alluidh, pleasant. 
TiLXYFOUNTAiN (now Caldcotes) — Tilly, eminence ; fountain for 

puiidainn, poinding place of cattle stra^^ed from Fasque. 
TiLLYTOGHiLLS — Tilly, eminence ; taobh, side ; govll, gully. The 

homestead was originally high up on the east side of the hill. 
Whins, for "Quainzie" in the old Records; either from cuinge, 

narrowness (the narrowing lands), or chuineas, whins or furze. 

Anecdotes of Fetter cairn Worthies. 273 

Chapter XXXVIIL 


rpHERE is perhaps no part of Scotland where there is a 
-L keener perception of humour amongst not only the 
peasantry, but all ranks and conditions, than in the Mearns. 
Dean Ramsay gathered many of his best stories and 
illustrations of Scottish character from the immediate 
neighbourhood of Fettercairn ; and Mr Inglis, the author 
of a more recently published book, has added to the 
collection of the famous Dean a number of the most 
amusing anecdotes pertaining to the same countryside. 
The proverbial surgical operation, supposed to be necessary 
for the . successful entrance of a joke into a Scotsman's 
head, does not apply here. The humour is unconscious in 
many cases, but that only goes to show that it is part of 
the typical "Man of the Mearns." It is a rare thing to 
find a Mearns man, in any sphere of life, who cannot see 
the point of a joke; and probably more of the humorous 
Scottish anecdotes now in print have originated in this 
district than in any other part of Scotland. The follo\«ring, 
so far as the writer is aware, have not appeared before, and 
they pertain to Fettercairn and neighbourhood. 

An amusing tale is told of John Gove at Phesdo. It 
was the custom on the occasion of any joyous event, such 
as a marriage, to keep up a running fire of a gun or cannon, 

which is one of the Scotch customs traceable to the French. 

274 Fettej'caim. 

A marriage came oflf in John's family, and he being major- 
domo superintended the feu de joie. A heavy charge had 
been well rammed home, so as to make an extra loud 
report, and every one, including John himself, got well out 
of the way whilst the slow match was burning. There was- 
a terrific explosion, and on returning quickly to reload 
and have another, nothing was to be seen but shattered 
fragments of a once gun. John's only remark was, " Odd,, 
that 's queer ; I never saw ma old gun do the like o' that 

James Fearn was known for his ready wit; One dark 
stormy evening James, " o'er a' the ills o' life victorious,"^ 
was trying to make his way home doon the Bog road. He 
had only a mile and a half to go, but the sharp turns and 
especially the narrowness of the road bothered him. For 
a time the hedges kept him on the track, but unfortunately 
in making a wild sheer to the right he happened to pass 
through an open gate into a field. Here he had scope- 
enough, and he soon lost himself in the darkness. When 
daylight broke he found the spot was a familiar one, and 
climbing the fence made straight for home. His spouse^ 
who had probably been "nursing her wrath," had by thi& 
time come out to look for him, and when they met angrily 
exclaimed, "Preserve me, man, hae ye been there oot a' 
nicht 1" — "No, wumman, I was in a park," was his 
snappish answer. 

Rob Jack, another character, who could not have 
conscientiously called himself a Good Templar, occasionally 
found himself in charge of a preserver of the peace. He 
had gone one day to the " ancient city," not many miles- 
oif. In those days the shutters of the shop windows were- 
hung on hinges. They were swung back to the wall when, 
open, and made fast by a " sneck." A gust of wind undid 
a fastening as Eob was staggering along, and the hook of 
the shutter caught the collar of his coat. He fancied he: 

Anecdotes of Fetter cairn Worthies. 275 

recognised a familiar grip, and uttering a strong expletive 
he resignedly enquired, " At fa's instance noo 1 " 

James Coullie, a millwright, better known as "fanners," 
was an amusing character. He and an ass, his faithful 
beast of burden, lived in the same cottage, with only a 
partition, which did not reach the ceiling, to separate them. 
One unlucky evening the cottage took fire and was burnt 
to the ground. James escaped but not the ass, and the 
late lamented was replaced by another. Some time after 
the catastrophe, which, as may be supposed, formed a topic 
of conversation for many a day, James was hailed by the 
genial Laird of Fasque, " Hullo, Coullie, is that the ass that 
was burned 1" — "Eh na. Sir Alexander, it's nae the same ass" Strange to say the simple-minded man's reply 
caught on and became a sort of byword in the district. 

Another oft-repeated byword arose from the following 
anecdote. On the ground now occupied by the village 
Hall stood a small house occupied by a " whip the cat " 
tailor who rejoiced in the name of Niddrie. His great 
boast was that he had never misfitted any of his customers. 
One day he had a wedding coat on hand, and some of his 
cronies suggested that it was only seemly that to prevent 
shrinking they should duly moisten a wedding garment, so 
they proceeded to the inn and had a good time. Tailor 
Niddrie returned to his labours, but somehow the chalk 
lines would not come out straight. His cronies chaffed 
him, suggesting an ugly misfit for once, but he replied, 
'*0u aye, maybe, but caulk 's nae shears." 

John Blank was a mason to trade and a great toper. 
One day when in his cups he was lying on a sofa in one 
of the rooms of the village inn, apparently asleep. Two 
customers dropped in to have a drink ; one ordered a glass 
of beer, the other some lemonade. The sound of the 
lemonade cork awakened the sleeper, and rising up he 
stammered out, " Bring in a bottle o' lemonade to me too, 

276 Fetter cairn. 

lassie, an^ lat's get begun on a new found." The same 
character in ordering his dram used invariably to ask for 
"a gill o' the very warst, for the best was just a penny lost." 

The following tale is illustrative of the ready wit of a 
different type of man, viz., the Scottish laird. No names 
need be given, but the story is as follows : A tenant 
farmer received a visit one day from the laird and his 
lady, and oflfered apologies once and again that there was 
not a single drop in the bottle by which he might show his 
hospitality. The visitors on taking their leave were kindly 
warned to be careful of the steps down from the front door, 
as there was no hand-rail ; and seizing what he thought was 
a most favourable opportunity, the farmer pointed out that 
the steps were dangerous, and that he (the laird) might be 
so good as to order a rail to be put up. " They 're quite 
safe, so long as you keep your bottle dry," was the witty 

Francis Gove was one of a family of brothers who resided 
at Haughhead and Woodside sixty or seventy years ago, 
and was probably present on the festive occasion mentioned 
above when his brother John's cannon burst at Phesdo. 
Being one day in conversation with a neighbouring gentle- 
man he told him in a most matter-of-fact way, "Maister 
Fawns, I tell ye I havena gotten a richt slockenin' o' 
drink since the day o' ma brither Rob's funeral." Possibly 
he may be the originator of the story of the man who said 
"he couldna mind whether it was a bridal or a burial, but it 
was a very fine affair." 

Lizzie Gove, Landsend, a relation of the above, was a 
very tall woman, about six feet in height. She turned up 
at the general store in the village one day to buy garden 
seeds, and amongst other things asked for peas, " no like 
those I got last year, which grew twice as high as myseF 
and then turned down a bit." Another Lizzie, who shall 
be nameless, on hearing of the death of yet another 

Anecdotes of Fetter cairn Worthies. 277 

nameless Lizzie, remarked that "The neebours will noa 
get peace that the auld thievin^ banes o' her are at rest." 

The late Sir John S. Forbes of Fettercairn had a keen 
appreciation of humour and used to tell a good story, 
many of which he picked up in the course of his kindly 
visits at the houses of the humbler classes. Calling one 
day on Eppie Bard, the widow of an old soldier, he enquired 
if her late husband had any old Jirearms. " Ou aye, Sjr 
John, but they're no muckle worth; IVe just an auld 
spindle for a poker, and the mou' o' an auld spade for a 

Willie Clark was an old character who lived at the 
" Townhead " and eked out a livelihood by doing odd jobs 
for very little pay. He was of a cheerful and contented 
disposition, and frequently remarked that "he had nae 
count and nae care, come evenin' come saxpence." He had 
never taken a wife, having carefully counted the cost. 
**It's very fine to get a wife to mak' your parritch, but 
then for that she sups the half o' them." Some time before 
he died a local evangelist called on a Sunday afternoon to 
read the Bible and pray with him. Next day the lady 
who sent to him his daily can of soup was told that a 
"g^y guid man cam' to read to me, but I told him I was 
na' come to that wi'd yet. Dr. Forman did me far mair 
guid ; he left me a saxpence i' ma snufF-mull. Ou aye, I 'm- 
a heap better." Some of these old characters seemed to 
think that they were intended to live for ever, as in the case 
of a contemporary of Willie Clark's, an old crofter 
named JFalter Strachan^ who, at the age of upwards of 
ninety, asked the local tailor to measure him for a suit of 
clothes. He wanted something that would serve a few 
years for Sunday and then come in for " ilka day." This 
same Walter walked several miles to church one stormy 
Sunday when the roads were blocked with snow. Only a 
handful of village people had ventured out that day, and 

278 FeMer cairn. 

the story goes that shortly afterwards the minister seized 
an opportunity of shaking hands and commending the old 
man for his religions zeal. " To tell ye the truth, minister," 
said he, "I had run oot o* snuff, and I belt to come to the 
village to try and get a puckle, and as I was here at ony 
rate I thocht I would just come to the kirk by the bye. 
But I 'm no against gaen' to the kirk." 

Johnnie Mathers, an old crofter residing in the south 
end of the parish, came to Mr Foote, who was then 
minister, announcing that his daughter was to be married. 
Mr Foote, knowing that the woman had passed the first 
blush of youth, replied, " I 'm glad to hear it, John ; she '11 
make a good sensible wife, and he 's a fortunate man who 
gets her." — "Well," says John, "I dinna ken about that. 
She 's curst cankered, wonnerfu' warldly, and some religious 
too ; but, sir, the spinnin' wheel is her salvation. For a' 
that, I '11 gie her a braw marriage goun wi' several threeds 
o' silk in til't." 

Another crofter who was regarded as a " character " was 
Johnnie Webster. He and his guidwife, Nell Dunn, 
resided at Landsend. Johnnie was a cobbler to trade ; and 
on being asked why he had given up a good business for 
the uncertainty of a small croft, replied, " When I tak' a 
rest the awls tak' a rest too; but nowadays tho' I gang 
to sleep the corn keeps growin'." The Rev. Dr. Leslie 
of Fordoun, whose church Johnnie attended, one day 
intimated his parochial visitation from the pulpit, and 
having observed that Johnnie was not in his pew, sent him 
a note on the following day to let him know the day of 
his proposed visit to Landsend. On his arrival he found 
John at the plough ; and a little nettled, no doubt, at the 
apparent lack of courtesy, the minister enquired, " Did you 
not get my letter, Johnf — "Deed did I ; a letter cam' but 
/ couldna read it, an' Nell Dunn, ma wife, couldna read it, 
an' I believe the deil himseV couldna read it." Then 

Anecdotes of Fetter cairn Wmthies. 279 

turning to his horse, "Come 'awther, Duncan." When 
quite an old man John had got a piecework job at thinning 
turnips from a farm overseer at Balbegno. His work did 
not quite satisfy his employer, so he was requested to be 
more careful. The warning had no effect, and the overseer 
said to him, "Webster, you^d better shouther your hou 

and tak' the road." "I'll go, Mr ; but yeVe nae 

business hoo I carry ma hou." 

The next two anecdotes illustrate three diflferent phases 
of character, and will close the chapter. 

Jeanie Silver, a simple-minded but good creature, resided 
alone in one end of a cottar house at Muttonhole of 
Balbegno ; and in her later years, during the early fifties, 
depended wholly upon Parish relief and charity. Being 
very fond of finery, her wealthier neighbours supplied her 
with cast-oflF articles of dress and millinery, which she 
utilised after a style of her own, and on Sundays appeared 
at church in headgear and feathers that attracted much 
attention. Dr. Robertson, the medical officer of the parish, 
called one day to see Jeanie, and in course of conversation 
remarked that her cat was a very nice animal. " Ou aye, 
sir," she replied, " it 's a guidless ill-less beastie juist like 

Nancy and Mary lived but and ben from each 

other in the same house at the Townhead. The former 
was robust and energetic, with great force of character; 
the latter was hypochondriac and peevish, and by making 
the most of her ailments secured constant attention and 
charity from philanthropic neighbours. A lady who called 
at the door was met by the shrewd Nancy, and on enquiring 
" How 's poor Mary to-day 1 " — "Deed I canna tell ye ; she 
aye tells sic a lang story, folk that have their wark to mind 
have nae time to speir. But ye may be sure she's aye ill, 
and sometimes waur ; sae's a poor croakin' w'reng (wren)." 
Nancy, good old soul, worked till she could work no 

280 Fettercairn, 

longer, and ultimately died in the poorhouse. At Mary's 
death there was found hoarded away in bags, stocking feet, 
and purses of all sorts, about one hundred and fifty pounds, 
mostly in silver coins of all dates from the time of Geo. III. 
The discovery of this hoard came as a surprise to Mary's 
neighbours, and caused some chagrin to the benevolent and 
the charitable, as well as a nine-days' subject of talk and 
gossip to the people of Fettercairn. 

This History may be appropriately concluded by quoting, 
from Goldsmith's address to " Sweet Auburn," a few lines 
slightly altered to apply to Fettercairn, and thus express 
the. writer's feelings : — 

Sweet Howe of Mearns and lovely Fettercairn ! 
Where health and plenty cheer the labouring swain, 
Where smiling spring its earliest visit pays, 
And parting summer's lingering bloom delays ; 

• • • • • • 

How often have I paused on every charm, 

The sheltered cot, the cultivated farm. 

The never-failing brook, the busy mill. 

The decent church that tops the neighbouring hill ; 

• • • • « • 

To me more dear, congenial to my heart. 
Thy native charms, than all the gloss of art. 



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