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Full text of "Memoir of the family of M'Combie, a branch of the Clan M'Intosh;"

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M. 



GENEAUOCr COULECTION 




MEMOIR 



FAMILY OF M'COMBIE 



" Man is properly the only object that interests man." — Goethe. 



MEMOIR 



v 



OF THE 



FAMILY OF M'COMBIE 

A BRANCH OF THE CLAN M'INTOSH 



COMPILED FROM 

HISTORY AND TRADITION 



WILLIAM M'COMBIE SMITH 



WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS 

EDINBURGH AND LONDON 

MDCCCLXXXVIT 



All R lights reserved 



^ 

^ 



PREFACE. 

^__^ 1135570 



^"^ ^ I ^HE first question regarding the publication 



T 

of a new book ouQ;ht to be, Does it contani 



anything not already known to those likely to 
read it ? Of the present work it may safely be 
said that much of what it contains is not already 
known to probable readers. The second ques- 
tion, in the event of the first being satisfactorily 
answered, ought to be, Are the contents of suf- 
ficient interest or value to warrant publication ? 
It would be presumptuous on the part of the 
compiler to answer this question affirmatively. 
He may be permitted, however, to say, that he 
believes that what is authentic and historical in 
the life of John M'Comie of Porter is of interest 



vi Preface. 

and value as illustrative of the social and political 
life of the seventeenth century ; and that the 
record of the position attained and work accom- 
plished by several of his descendants in Aber- 
deenshire, and the means by which their position 
was attained and work accomplished, will be 
found interesting, valuable, and instructive. If 
the traditionary events are of less value, they 
are still interesting, and their publication may 
be excused on the Q^round that most of them 
were likely soon otherwise to have passed irre- 
trievably into oblivion. 

W. M'C. S. 



CONTENTS. 



PAGE 

Introduction, ...... i 



CHAPTER I. 

Origin of the Clan M'Intosh — Origin of the family of 
M'Combie — Called Clan M'Thomas, Acts of Parlia- 
ment 1587 and 1594 — Settled in Glenshee — Inter- 
marriage with Farquharsons — Bond of manrent to 
Lachlan Mor, sixteenth chief of the M'Intoshes, 

CHAPTER II. 

John M'Comie, the M'Comie Mor — Finnegand — Barony 
of Forter — Personal history, traditional— Fight with 
the kain-gatherers — Attempt to carry off M'Comie 
Mor to Athole — Fight with a foreign champion at 
Blair-Athole — Slaughter of the caird — M'Comie 
Mor's putting-stone and well — Subdues a fierce bull — 
Supernatural incidents : Knox Baxter and the water- 
kelpie's wife — Tests the courage of his eldest son — 



viii Contents. 

Personal history, historical — First a Royalist, but 
changes sides — Litigation with Lord Airlie, 1661 — 
Excepted from Act of Indemnity, 1662 — Attends 
summons of the chief of the M'Intoshes, 1665 — Feud 
with tlie Farquharsons of Broughdearg — Raid of 
Crandart, 1669 — Fight at Moss of Forfar, 1673 — 
Trial, M'Comies v. Farquharsons ; Farquharsons v. 
M'Comies, 1673 — Death of M'Comie Mor — His 
family, . . . . . .13 



CHAPTER in. 

Settlement in Aberdeenshire — -Donald M'Comie — Rob- 
ert M'Combie — William M'Combie, tenant -in Lyn- 
turk — The M'Combies a stalwart race — Faction fights 
— Incidents of the '45 — Family of William M'Com- 
bie of Lynturk and their descendants — His brothers, 82 



CHAPTER IV. 

William M'Combie of Tillyfour — His youth — Becomes 
tenant of Tillyfour, Bridgend, and Dorsell — Fond of 
sport — Begins his career as cattle-breeder, 1844 — 
Entertained to public dinner by the gentlemen of the 
north-east of Scotland, 1862 — By farm-servants and 
tradesmen of the vale of Alford — Second President 
of the Scottish Chamber of Agriculture — Visited by 
her Majesty the Queen — Publishes ' Cattle and Cat- 
tie-Breeders' — M.P. for West Aberdeenshire — Pur- 
chases Tillyfour — Crowning success of 1878 — Deatli 
— Personal characteristics, . . . .106 



Contents. ix 

CHAPTER V. 

William M'Combie of Easterskene and Lynturk — His 
early years — Succeeds to Easterskene, 1824 — Investi- 
gations regarding the history of his ancestors — Visits 
to Perthshire and Forfarshire — Marriage, 1831 — 
Succeeds to Lynturk — Death of his wife, 1835 — And 
of his son, 1841 — Easterskene — Lynturk — Easter- 
skene herd — Mr M'Combie as a farmer and land- 
lord — Public life — Personal characteristics — Con- 
clusion, . . . . . .121 

Appendix, . . . . 149 



THE FAMILY OF M'COMBIE. 



INTRODUCTION. 

T3I0GRAPHY is ever the most profitable and 
interesting matter for both writer and 
reader. The Hfe of the most commonplace man 
or woman or family, it has been remarked, were 
it fully unfolded, would be full of interest, and in 
proportion as the individual or family becomes 
conspicuous, the interest increases. In some in- 
stances the interest attaching to a family name 
centres round one individual, who appears as a 
bright particular star, outshining all the others. 
In other cases the interest attaching to a family 
name is continued throughout many generations, 
by a succession of men who distinguish them- 

A 



2 Introduction. 

selves in their day and generation as not of com- 
mon mould. In either case there arises, among 
those inheriting the family name, that pride of 
ancestry so highly to be prized by those whose 
heritage it is. An honourable pride of ancestry 
is one of the most valuable incentives to the main- 
tenance of human worth and greatness. It is 
from the honourable pride and ambition of the 
individual members of distinguished families to 
maintain in undiminished honour the prestige of 
the family name that the permanent stability and 
greatness of a nation arises. National pride in 
the nation's history, and national ambition to hand 
down to posterity its honour and glory untar- 
nished, or even with added lustre, is the outcome 
of the combined efforts of the individuals and 
families comprising the nation, animated by the 
desire either to maintain and add to individual 
and family renown already acquired, or to be the 
first to bring renown to an individual or family 
not previously distinguished. 

The Celtic population of the Highlands of 
Scotland have always been remarkable for the 



Introduction. 3 

tenacity with which they have maintained the 
name and honours of the various clans, with their 
distinct branches or septs. This determination 
has naturally led to a desire to collect and pre- 
serve authentic records of the lives of the leading 
members of whatever clan or family has achieved 
an honourable position, and has through suc- 
cessive generations maintained that position ; and 
the object of the present memoir is to put on 
record and preserve whatever has come down to 
the present time, through history or tradition, 
concerning the family of M'Combie, a branch .of 
the Clan M'Intosh. 



CHAPTER I. 

ORIGIN OF THE CLAN M'iNTOSH — ORIGIN OF THE FAMILY OF 
M'COMBIE — CALLED CLAN M'THOMAS, ACTS OF PARLIAMENT 
1587 AND 1594 — SETTLED IN GLENSHEE — INTERMARRIAGE 
WITH FARQUHARSONS — BOND OF MANRENT TO LACHLAN MOR, 
SIXTEENTH CHIEF OF THE M'iNTOSHES. 

' I ^HE founder of the Clan M'Intosh was Shaw 
M'Duff, second son of the fifth Earl of 
Fife, who distinguished himself in quelling a re- 
bellion among the Moray tribes, against Malcolm 
IV., about the years 1 161-63, and whose descend- 
ants thenceforward assumed the name M'Intosh 
= Mac-an-Toiseach = son of the foremost or chief 
man. The Clan M'Intosh, of which the family 
of M'Combie is a branch, was in turn a branch 
of the still older Clan Chattan, the derivation of 
which is uncertain. The famous fio^ht on the 
North Inch of Perth, in 1396, in the reign of 



Origin of the Family. 5 

Robert III., between the Clan Chattan and Clan 
Quhele, was fought by the ancestors of the pres- 
ent M'Intoshes, M'Phersons, and Camerons. 

From Angus Og, son of Angus, the sixth chief 
of the Clan M'Intosh, who died in 1345, were 
descended the M'Intoshes of Glen Tilt, who 
afterwards settled at Dalmunzie in Glenshee. It 
was probably owing to the settlement of this 
branch of the M'Intoshes in Glenshee, that the 
descendants of Adam M 'William ^ of Garvamore, 
in Badenoch, a natural son^ of William,^ the 
seventh chief, also settled in Glenshee, Strath- 
ardle, and Glenisla. 

This Adam M'Intosh, son of William, the 
seventh chief of the Clan M'Intosh, was the 
founder of that branch of the clan which after- 
wards came to be known by the surname of 
M 'Thomas = son of Thomas, which in time 
became corrupted into M'Thomie, M'Homie, 
M'Omie, M'Comie, and latterly M'Combie. 
The surname M'Intosh was used interchange- 
ably with M'Comie until the settlement in 

1 Appendix, Note A. - Appendix, Note B. ^ Appendix, Note C. 



6 The Family of M'Combie. 

Aberdeenshire. The family of M'Combie took 
its rise, therefore, as a separate and distinct 
branch of the Clan M'Intosh in the latter half 
of the fourteenth century. In the original feu- 
charter,^ of date 9th September 1571, the 
M'Combies are described as being ab antiquo 
tenants and possessors of Finnegand in Glen- 
shee. 

In the " Roll of the Landdislordis and Baillies " 
appended to the Act of Parliament, of date 1587, 
" for the quieting and keeping in obedience of the 
disordourit subjectis inhabitantis of the Bordouris, 
Hielandis, and His," commonly called " The 
General Band," there is first given " The Roll of 
the names of the Landislordis and Baillies of 
Landis in the Hielandis and lies, quhair brokin 
men hes duelt and presentlie duellis," followed by 
"The Roll of the Clannis [in the Hielandis and 
lies] that hes Capitanes, Cheiffis, and Chiftanes 
quhome on thay depend, oft tymes aganis the 
willis of thair Landislordis : and of sum speciale 
personis of branchis of the saidis clannis." In 

^ Appendix, Note D. 



Called Clan M' Thomas. 7 

the latter roll there occurs the " Clan M'Thomas 
in Glensche." 

In the roll of the clans of 1587, following " Clan 
M'Thomas in Glensche," are the " Fergussonis, 
Spaldingis," without locality given, and the " Mak- 
intoscheis in Athoill," showing that Angus Og's 
descendants, together with those of Adam, son of 
the seventh chief, still held Glen Tilt and Glen- 
shee as their headquarters. 

In the roll of the broken clans in the Hiofh- 
lands and Isles, in the Act of Parliament " for 
punishment of thift, reiff, oppressioun, and soirn- 
ing," of date 1594, there are included under 
"many brokin men," the "Fergussonis, Spa- 
dingis, M'Intosheis in Athoill, M'Thomas in 
Glensche," and " Ferquharsonis in Bra of Mar," 
The necessity for this second roll, so soon following 
on that of 1587, is set forth as follows: " Oure 
Soverane Lord and his estaitis in this present 
Parliament, considering that, nochtwithstanding 
the sundrie Actis maid be his Hienes, and his 
maist nobill progenitouris, for punischment of the 
authoris of thift, reiff, oppression, and sorning, 



8 The Family of M'Combie. 

and masteris and sustenaries of thevis ; yet sic 
hes bene, and presentlie is, the barbarous cruelties 
and daylie heirschippis of the wickit thevis and 
lymmaris of the clannis and surenames following, 
inhabiting the Hielands and lies," &c. 

In both rolls the M'Intoshes, Fergussons, 
Spaldings, and M'Thomases occur together ; and 
in the ' Geography of the Clans of Scotland,' 
by Mr T. B. Johnston and Colonel J. A. Robert- 
son, the M'Intoshes are marked in the map as in 
Glen Tilt only, and the M 'Thomas clan in the 
head of Glenshee, with the Fergussons lower 
down, and the Spaldings lowest down in what is 
now known as the Blackwater district, and in 
Strathardle around Ashintully. There is evi- 
dently something wrong in this arrangement. 
The M'Intoshes were in Glen Tilt previous to 
1587; but they were also in Dalmunzie, in the 
head of Glenshee. Where the Ferofussons are 
placed in the map, Finnegand is situated, where 
no Fergussons were at that time nor since ; and 
in 1571 the M'Thomases had been '' ab antiquo'' 
possessors of Finnegand, and were in possession 



Located in Glenshee. 9 

of it for long after 1594. The Spaldings were, 
until comparatively recent times, tenants and pos- 
sessors in the Blackwater district of Glenshee, 
and in and around Ashintully in Strathardle. 
Bearing in mind that the M'Intoshes and 
M'Thomases were of the same origin, and that 
long after this time of 1587, or even of 1594, the 
head of the Clan M 'Thomas used the surname 
M'Intosh Interchangeably with M'Comie, there 
can be little doubt but that Glen Tilt in Athole, 
with the head of Glenshee, should be set down 
in a clan map of the sixteenth century as held 
by M'Intoshes, and the district between the head 
of Glenshee and what is now the Blackwater 
district, as held by the branch of the M'Intoshes 
known by the surnames of M'Intosh, M 'Thomas, 
and M'Comie, and below the M'Comies, the 
Spaldings. The Fergussons in the map ought 
to be placed in the Glenshee south of Dunkeld, 
held, in part at least, by Fergusson, Baron of 
Fandowie, and not in the Glenshee north of 
Dunkeld. 

It is clearly established, however, both by the 



lo The Family of M'Cornbie. 

parliamentary records of Scotland and by char- 
ter, that the M'Comies were a distinct family, 
settled in Glenshee in the sixteenth century. 
The phrase ab antiquo, in the charter of 1571, 
establishes a settlement long previous to that ; 
and their descent from William, seventh chief of 
the M'Intoshes, points to this settlement as being 
probably in the end of the fourteenth or begin- 
ning of the fifteenth century. 

In the roll of 1594, the M 'Thomases in Glen- 
shee are immediately followed by the Farquhar- 
sons in Braemar, The great hero of the Far- 
quharsons was the renowned Finla Mor. In 
1547, he was standard-bearer in the disastrous 
battle of Pinkie, where he was slain. It is an 
interesting fact that the great hero of the 
M'Comies, the M'Comie Mor, was a lineal de- 
scendant of Finla Mors. Finla Mors first wife 
was a daughter of Baron Reid of Kincardine- 
Stewart. Their eldest son, William, married Bea- 
trix Gordon, daughter of Lord Sutherland, whose 
daughter was married to Thomas M'Intosh of 
Finnegand. The family, therefore, had acquired 



Band of Manre7it to Chief of M'lntoshes. 1 1 

considerable influence and power in the sixteenth 
century ; and in the words of the Act of Parlia- 
ment of 1 587, was depending on its own chief, " oft- 
times against the will," it may be, of its feudal 
superior, the Earl of Athole. The concern ex- 
pressed by Parliament in the doings of these 
"brokin men" — that is, branches of original clans 
who had assumed independence — naturally led 
these to confederate themselves. The measures 
adopted by the Scottish Government after the 
Act of Parliament of 1587, had evidently been 
ineffectual in bringing these broken men into 
submission ; but the subject being taken up again 
so soon after, showed both that the independent 
branches were proving troublesome to their land- 
lords and the Government, and that the latter 
was determined to bring them to account. 

Accordingly, in the year following the Act of 
1594, we find the distant colonies of the clan in 
Aberdeenshire and Perthshire granting a heritable 
band of manrent, at Invercauld, to Lachlan Mor, 
the sixteenth chief of the M'Intoshes. In this 
band, dated March 1595, James M'Intosh of 



12 The Family of M'Combie. 

Gask, Donald Farquharson of TuJligarmont, 
John Farquharson of Invercauld, George, Lach- 
lan, and Finlay Farquharson, brothers to the 
laird Donald (these four were sons, and John of 
Invercauld a grandson, of Finla Mor), Duncan 
M'Intosh of Dalmunzie, and Robert M'Homie in 
the burn of Glenshee, promise to maintain, fortify, 
and defend Lachlan and his heirs, "as our natu- 
rall cheiff." 



'3 



CHAPTER II. 

JOHN M'COMIE, THE M'COMIE MOR — FINNEGAND — BARONY OF 
FORTER — PERSONAL HISTORY, TRADITIONAL — FIGHT WITH THE 
KAIN-GATHERERS — ATTEMPT TO CARRY OFF M'COMIE MOR TO 
ATHOLE — FIGHT WITH A FOREIGN CHAMPION AT BLAIR-ATHOLE 
— SLAUGHTER OF THE CAIRD — M'COMIE MOR'S PUTTING-STONE 
AND WELL — SUBDUES A FIERCE BULL — SUPERNATURAL INCI- 
DENTS : KNOX BAXTER AND THE WATER-KELPIE's WIFE — TESTS 
THE COURAGE OF HIS ELDEST SON — PERSONAL HISTORY, HIS- 
TORICAL — FIRST A ROYALIST, BUT CHANGES SIDES — LITIGATION 
WITH LORD AIRLIE, 1661 — EXCEPTED FROM ACT OF INDEMNITY, 
1662 — ATTENDS SUMMONS OF THE CHIEF OF THE M'INTOSHES, 
1665 — FEUD WITH THE FARQUHARSONS OF BROUGHDEARG — 
RAID OF CRANDART, 1669 — FIGHT AT MOSS OF FORFAR, 1673 
— TRIAL, M'COMIES V. FARQUHARSONS ; FARQUHARSONS V. 
M'COMIES, 1673 — DEATH OF M'COMIE MOR — HIS FAMILY. 

TTROM the end of the sixteenth to about 
the middle of the seventeenth century, 
there seems to have been a period of com- 
parative quietude. The tranquilHty of the rest 
of the country, from the Union of the Crowns to 
the beginning of the great Civil War, exerted its 



14 The Family of M'Combie. 

influence on the Highlands also. About the 
beginning of this period was born John M'Comie, 
the M'Comie Mor, in whose lifetime the family 
rose to its highest point of influence and power in 
Perthshire and Forfarshire, and also sank to its 
lowest ebb, under powers and circumstances which 
the haughty chief was too proud to submit to, 
and in his old age unable successfully to resist. 
History and tradition alike bear testimony to the 
remarkable character of this Highland chief The 
sagacity and indomitable spirit that characterised 
his mental qualities were not more conspicuous 
among his contemporaries than his extraordinary 
bodily strength. Sir ^neas M'Pherson, in his 
MS. history, makes mention of "John M'Intosh 
of Forter, commonly called M'Comie," as among 
" the oldest and wisest not only of my own, but 
of all our neighbour families ; ... all men of 
sense and reputation, and most of them so very 
old that if they were not acquainted with Finla 
Mor himself, they were at least personally known 
to his children." John M'Comie could not have 
been acquainted with Finla Mor, but might have 



John M'Comie, the M'Comie Mor. 15 

been personally acquainted with his children, his 
own mother being a granddaughter of Finla Mor. 

Sir ^neas M'Pherson speaks of John M'Intosh, 
or M'Comie, as of Forter, of which barony he 
had obtained a wadset from the Earl of Airlie, 
some time between 1651 ^ and 1660. After enter- 
ing on possession of Forter, he built a mansion- 
house on the estate at Crandart, where he took 
up his residence. Crandart is situated on the 
right bank of the Isla, about a mile and a half 
north of the old castle of Forter, which had been 
burned down by Argyll in 1640. Before pro- 
ceeding further with the history of the M'Comies, 
it is necessary to describe the main features of 
the lands held by them in Perthshire and Forfar- 
shire. 

Finnegand, that had been so long in the posses- 
sion of the M'Comies, lies wholly on the right bank 
of the Shee, in the parish of Kirkmichael, Perth- 
shire. On the south-east corner, opposite Dal- 
naglar, the land on the side of the Shee at its low- 
est point is over 1000 feet above sea-level. For 

1 Appendix, Note E. 



1 6 The Family of M'Combie. 

about two miles along the Shee, which from the 
mansion-house of Finnegand turns a little to the 
west, there is a belt of arable land, consisting of 
level haughs and gently sloping fields, extending 
from two to three hundred yards from the water- 
side ; then a series of rounded heights, of no great 
elevation, leads to the foot of the range of moun- 
tains forming the watershed between Glenshee 
and the glens with their tributary streams stretch- 
ing southwards to Strathardle. The land, with 
an easterly and north-easterly slope and aspect, 
is of moderate fertility; and from its height above 
sea-level is better adapted for green than white 
crops — grain crops being fully matured only in 
very favourable seasons. At about half a mile 
from the Shee, the mountains rise rather abruptly, 
culminating in Meall Odhar and Meall Uaine, 
the latter being 2600 feet above sea-level. On 
the opposite side of the Shee from Finnegand 
lies Broughdearg, also with its belt of arable land 
on the left bank of the Shee, and the mountains 
forming the watershed between Glenshee and 
Glenisla rising steeply behind it. The highest 



Finnegand and Barony of Farter. 1 7 

point between Broughdearg and Glenisla Is Meal- 
na-letter, 2297 feet above sea-level, which is on 
the boundary-line between Perthshire and Forfar- 
shire, and looks down towards the east upon 
Crandart. Farquharson of Broughdearg, it will be 
seen, marched both west and east with M'Comie 
Mor — on the west with Finnegand, on the east 
with the barony of Forter, and the large tract of 
forest-ground in the extreme north of Glenisla, 
The result, with ill-defined boundary-lines, and 
unconquerable courage and unyielding pride in 
both chieftains, was disastrous to both. 

The property of Dalmunzie, held by the de- 
scendants of Angus Og, lies about two miles 
north-west of Finnegand, immediately west of 
the Spittal of Glenshee, and is still held by a 
M'Intosh. Glenbeg, in which the M'Comies had 
a shealing, lies north of the Spittal of Glenshee, 
marching with Braemar on the north. 

The barony of Forter, on which the mansion- 
house of Crandart was to become the headquar- 
ters of the family of M'Combie, is situated in the 
west of Forfarshire, in the parish of Glenisla, and 

B 



1 8 The Family of M'Combie. 

extends from Mount Blair, 2441 feet, on the 
south, to Cairn - na - Glasha, 3484 feet, on the 
north. For about four miles from the eastern 
base of Mount Blair northwards, the Isla is the 
eastern boundary ; it then includes both sides of 
the Isla, the boundary being the watershed be- 
tween Glencally and the Isla, over the summit 
of Finalty, 2954 feet. On the north the boun- 
dary is formed by the watershed between Canness 
glen — Canness burn being the north - eastern 
branch of the Isla — and the glen of the Doll, 
down which rushes the Whitewater to join the 
South Esk, and the watershed between Can- 
lochan glen, the burn of which is the north-western 
branch of the Isla, and Glencallater in Aberdeen- 
shire. Between Canness and the head of the 
glen of the Doll the highest summit is Tom 
Buidhe, 3140 feet; between Canlochan and Glen- 
callater the hiofhest summit is Cairn-na-Glasha. 
On the west, the broad-crowned Glas Maol, 3502 
feet, near the summit of which the shires of Aber- 
deen, Perth, and Forfar meet, is the culminating 
point of Forfarshire. Thence the boundary-line 



Barony of Forte7\ 19 

goes along the top of Craig Leacach, 3238 feet, 
which descends in almost a sheer precipice to the 
Brighty burn, which rises far up the Glas Maol. 
On the western side of Craig Leacach is Glen- 
beg, which runs south to the Spittal of Glenshee. 
At Cairn Aighe, 2824 feet, the boundary -line 
turns south-eastward to Monamenach, 2649 feet, 
about two miles north-north-west of Crandart, 
and thence in a southerly direction to the height 
overlooking Dalnaglar and the Balloch, whence 
it sweeps round south-eastwards to Mount Blair 
again. The length of this district, from Mount 
Blair to Cairn - na - Glasha, is about ten miles, 
the breadth varying from one to four miles. 
The low-lying arable ground extends from the 
Balloch, 1000 feet, to Auchavan and the Linns, 
about 1250 feet. Much of this is a friable fertile 
soil. Above the 1250 feet line, much fine sum- 
mer pasture-land stretches up the mountain-sides 
to about 2000 feet. The scenery around Forter 
is picturesque ; above Forter, Glenisla is narrow, 
the steep mountain-sides closing in on the narrow 
bottom of the o^len. Above the Tulchan, Glen- 



20 The Family of M'Combie. 

isla contains some of the finest mountain and 
glen scenery in Scotland. To the left, going up 
the right bank of the Isla, Monega rises precipi- 
tously to the height of 2917 feet, its lower slope 
for about a mile below the junction of Canlochan 
and Canness beinor well wooded. In front, the 
towering promontory that divides Canlochan from 
Canness rises grandly and abruptly. The lower 
part is thickly wooded, then the scarred rocky 
face, with thin lines of trees struggling up wher- 
ever they can find sufficient soil, rises steep and 
grand to the height of nearly 3000 feet. To the 
right, Canness, a narrow gorge, wooded on its 
western side for about a mile from its junction 
with Canlochan, penetrates for about two miles, 
first in a north-easterly, then in a north-westerly 
direction, towards the head-waters of Glencallater. 
To the left is Canlochan, the glory of Glenisla. 
From the north - east shoulder of Monega an 
escarpment runs right round the head of Can- 
lochan, and back to the water-parting between 
Canlochan and Canness, a distance of over four 
miles, the top of the escarpment the whole way 



Barony of Fort er. 21 

being from a little under to a little over 3000 
feet above sea-level. Where the waters of Can- 
ness and Canlochan meet, the height above 
sea-level is 1500 feet; so that there is a preci- 
pitous wall of from 1000 feet to 1500 feet run- 
ning round Canlochan, indented with rugged 
and broken rocky gorges. The glen is about 
two miles long, running first in a north-westerly 
direction, then turninof almost due north to Cairn- 
na-Glasha. From its south-eastern end, for about 
a mile, it is wooded for a considerable distance 
up the precipitous face. Beyond this the surface 
is bare, with here and there rocky faces rising 
sheer and abrupt, in the crevices of which grow 
some very rare alpine plants, the exact habitat of 
which is known only to a few enthusiastic bot- 
anists, who keep their knowledge from ordinary 
mortals with jealous care. After passing the 
Tulchan, the eye discovers fresh beauties at 
every step. The Isla, winding through grassy 
hauQfhs, the liorht rich orreen of the q-rass contrast- 
ing with the deeper and darker green of the 
larch wood, and both with the purple of the 



2 2 The Family of M'Combie. 

heather ; the rocks seamed with red scaurs, jut- 
tinof at first here and there through the wood, 
then rising sheer and abrupt over it, — present a 
picture of beauty and grandeur altogether un- 
rivalled in Forfarshire, and with few equals in 
the Highlands of Scotland. 

Between the Brighty — which, rising far up the 
Glas Maol, flows first south by the base of Craig 
Leacach, and then east till it joins the Isla at the 
Tulchan — and the Isla, below the junction of Can- 
ness and Canlochan burns, there lies on the west 
side of Monega a small ravine or gully called the 
Glascorrie, the burn from which falls into the 
Isla, after a south and then south-easterly course, 
nearly a mile above the junction of the Brighty 
and Isla. Glen Brighty is black and bare, the 
only feature in the landscape that attracts the 
eye being the precipitous face of Craig Leacach, 
destitute of vegetation and covered with loose 
shingle. Such is a brief outline of the property 
of the M'Comie Mor in Glenisla. 

Coming now to the personal history of M'Comie 
Mor, we shall first take up the traditionary tales, 



M'Coinie Mor routs the Kain-gatkerers. 23 

which are still preserved, both in Glenshee and 
Glenisla, of his intrepid bravery and immense 
personal strength. The first of these refers to the 
time he resided at Finneo-and. 

Those passing along the Highland road from 
Blairgowrie to Braemar, may observe a large 
stone on the west side of the road, about opposite 
to Dalnaglar, and about a mile south from Finne- 
gand. This stone is known by the few Gaelic- 
speaking people in the district as Clach-na- 
Coileach — the stone of the cock ; by those who 
speak Scotch, as Cocksteen, which originated as 
follows. Proprietors in Glenshee — and most if 
not all those in the Blackwater district — in the 
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, held their lands 
by feu-charter from the then Earls of Athole, who 
levied kain — that is, so many fowls annually, as 
a tax or rent — from every reeking house on the 
various properties. The term is probably derived 
from the Gaelic ceann, a head — as this tribute 
would consist of so many head of whatever kind 
of live stock the kain had to be paid in. This 
annual gathering of kain by the Athole men, 



24 TJie Family of M'Comhie. 

while M'Comie Mor was in Finnegand, had gone 
on peacefully one year, from the head of the glen 
down to a small cot above Finnegand. Here the 
kain-gatherers, finding a poor widowed woman — 
a tenant of M'Comie Mor — heartlessly took not 
only their lawful kain, but all her stock of poultry, 
despite her most urgent entreaties to leave at 
least some of them, in pity for her circumstances. 
We can easily conceive that the retainers of the 
powerful Earl of Athole carried matters with a 
high hand, as in those times there was practically 
no redress of grievances except by the strong 
arm. The widow's only strength lay in tears and 
entreaties ; and finding these of no avail, she be- 
thought her of the strong arm of M'Comie Mor, 
if only he could be persuaded to aid her. There 
was no time to lose ; for the kain - gatherers 
were making their way down the glen, and her 
treasured poultry would soon be irretrievably be- 
yond reach. In all haste she set out for Fin- 
negand, with many tears laid her complaint 
before M'Comie Mor, and to her great joy he 
at once consented to accompany her to ask re- 



M'Comie Mor 7^outs the Kain-gatherers. 25 

dress. We can picture the widow, with heart 
already lightened — for who would dare to refuse 
what M'Comie Mor asked in Glenshee ? — trudg- 
ing along by the side of her stalwart protector, 
and relating all the circumstances of her visitors' 
harsh words and still harsher deeds. It would 
not be difficult to find the kain-gatherers, as 
their progress would be accompanied by the 
shrill " scraichs " of the captured cocks and hens, 
mingled, no doubt, with equally shrill objurgations 
in Gaelic from irate goodwives, whose ideas of 
what should be taken and what should be left 
would doubtless differ widely from those of the 
Athole men. M'Comie Mor and the widow came 
up with them near the big stone, when the former 
explained the circumstances of the poor widow, 
and asked that at least part of her poultry might 
be returned to her, especially as they had taken 
more from her than they had a right to. To the 
widow's great surprise and renewed grief, this 
reasonable demand was met with a decided re- 
fusal, couched in terms the reverse of polite. 
There was nothing for it, then, but to return to 



26 The Family of M'Combie. 

her cot, and put up with her loss as she best 
could. But if the widow was to be content with 
silent submission to those with part right, and 
seemingly whole might, on their side, not so 
M'Comie Mor. It was bad enough to be re- 
fused, but to be spoken to with insolence on his 
own ground, when making a reasonable request 
for one of his own dependants, was intolerable. 
The civil request for the restitution of part of the 
widow's fowls became a peremptory command to 
deliver up the whole. The command meeting 
with no better reception than the request, was at 
once followed up by M'Comie Mor drawing his 
sword and attacking the leader of the band. The 
kain-gatherers at once set down their creels, and 
rushed to their leader's assistance. But he was 
hors de combat before assistance could reach him ; 
and the astonished Athole men soon found that 
might as well as right was on the side of the 
widow, for wherever a blow from M'Comie Mors 
right arm fell, there fell an Athole man also. As 
by this time a good few Glenshee men were arriv- 
ing, who had learned what was going on, the 



M'Comie Mor routs the Kain-gatherers. 27 

Athole men wisely gave way, M'ComIe Mor 
then advanced and unceremoniously cut open the 
coops containing the widow's feathered treasures, 
whereupon one crouse young cock mounted the 
big stone, and sent forth a shrill, clear, and tri- 
umphant pseian of victory. That was a scene not 
likely soon to be forgotten in Glenshee : the poor 
widow, doubtless but a moment before in an agony 
of fear for the safety of her chivalrous champion, 
risking his life against such heavy odds on her 
behalf, now gladly pouring forth her thanks, while 
rejoicing over her recovered treasures : the crest- 
fallen kain-gatherers making off with what kain 
was still left to them — doubtless strictly civil 
and honest in their further requisitions while 
in Glenshee ; the stalwart chief sheathing his 
sword ; and high over all the brave little chan- 
ticleer, sending forth his notes of defiance to all 
the race of Athole kain-gatherers. The scene 
was not likely to be forgotten, and is not for- 
gotten ; for the Clach-na-Coileach still remains, 
a mute but steadfast witness : and often is the 
story told in Glenshee of how M'Comie Mor 



28 The Family of M'Coinbie. 

supplied the much-needed might for the widow's 
riorht. 

But the quarrel about the kain, as might be 
expected, did not end here. The Earl of Athole, 
as superior of the district, could not brook the 
insult of having his retainers routed, and his kain 
withheld by a vassal. A well-armed band was, 
therefore, sent from Athole to Glenshee, to bring 
M'Comie Mor to Blair Athole dead or alive. In 
due time they reached Finnegand, and surprised 
the laird unarmed in the house. But M'Comie 
Mor had sagacity and wit, as well as strength 
and courage. The Athole men having explained 
their errand, he frankly admitted that, in the cir- 
cumstances, he was powerless to gainsay them. 
However, it was a pretty long way to Blair 
Castle, and both they and himself would be better 
of having some refreshment before setting out. 
Orders were at once given for refreshments to 
be set down in the other end of the house ; the 
Athole men and the laird being at this time in 
the kitchen. While the servants busied them- 
selves in preparing a substantial repast, M'Comie 



M'Comie Mor outwits the A thole Men. 29 

Mor, by his frank and genial bearing-, soon put 
the Athole men at their ease. When It was 
intimated that their repast was ready, the laird 
courteously requested them to lay aside their 
arms and plaids, that they might be at more 
freedom while eating and drinking. As he him- 
self was unarmed, and all distrust of their enter- 
tainer had vanished under the influence of his 
unexpected affability, the Athole men piled their 
arms in a corner of the kitchen ; and removing 
their plaids, followed the host to the other end of 
the house, where they found a profuse abundance 
of Highland cheer set forth. Charmed by their 
host's genial frankness, and softened by unlimited 
uisge-beatha, the Athole men were now completely 
at their ease, and were doubtless mentally con- 
gratulating themselves on the unexpected ease 
and pleasure with which they were carrying out 
a mission, which they had calculated would be 
one of no little danger and difficulty. When, 
therefore, their host at length asked permission 
to go and give some necessary Instructions to his 
family about the management of his affairs while 



30 TJie Family of M'Combie. 

he would be absent, rendered necessary by his 
being so unexpected called away without notice, 
the permission was at once granted, without the 
slightest feeling of mistrust on the part of the 
Athole men. Accordingly, M'Comie Mor went 
out, telling them he would send word when he 
was ready. After waiting a short time, a servant 
announced that her master was ready. The 
Athole men at once proceeded to the kitchen 
to resume their plaids and arms, and found — 
M'Comie Mor standing fully armed, their plaids 
all laid out on a table, but not a single gun nor 
sword to be seen in the corner where they had 
so imprudently left them. Their lately so genial 
host then informed them in a haughty tone, that 
as they had been sent for him, they were at 
liberty to try and take him with them, but that 
he was determined to defend his liberty to the 
utmost of his power. The dismay of the Athole 
men may be imagined. Even had they been 
again armed, they knew full well by this time 
how extremely dangerous a task it would have 
been to have overpowered him ; as it was, it 



M'Comie Mors Fight with a Foreign Bravo. 31 

would have been but throwing their Hves away 
to have attempted his capture. There was 
nothing for it then but to resume their plaids, 
and return unarmed to Athole, and explain, as 
they best might, the ignominious failure of their 
mission. 

As a matter of course, M'Comie Mor did not 
expect that the Earl of Athole would quietly 
submit to this fresh indignity. An unforeseen 
event, however, brought the matter to a more 
friendly termination than could otherwise have 
been looked for. Shortly after the unsuccessful 
attempt to carry off M'Comie Mor to Athole, a 
professional champion swordsman, or bully as he 
was called, a gigantic Italian, made his appear- 
ance at Blair Athole, and as usual challenged the 
best man the Earl of Athole could produce to 
fight ; and in the event of no one accepting his 
challenge, or any one accepting it and being 
beaten, he would claim, as a right, a sum of 
money, as a sort of tribute earned by his 
prowess. The payment of the money was a 
less source of annoyance to one in the position 



32 The Family of M'Coriibie. 

of the Earl of Athole than the thought that in 
all the wide district of which he was superior, 
he could not find a man of sufficient strength 
and courage to successfully cope with this foreign 
bravo. And in proportion also to the disgrace 
of having no man in Athole a match for him, 
would be the glory to the Earl and his vassals 
if he could produce an Athole champion able to 
conquer such a redoubted hero. In the present 
instance, disgrace instead of honour appeared 
likely to fall on Athole and Athole men ; for a 
sight of the foreigner, who was of immense 
size and fierce aspect, together with the no- 
toriety of his extraordinary skill as a swords- 
man, proved sufficient to deter the strongest and 
bravest of the Athole men from risking life and 
limb in a fight with him. In this emergency, the 
Earl at last reflected that M'Comie Mor, who 
had recently lowered the prestige of the Athole 
men as their opponent, was the very man to 
raise it again as their champion. We can easily 
understand that at a time when personal prowess 
was of such account, the Earl's displeasure at 



M'Comie Mors Fight ivith a Foreign Bravo. ^2, 

the double indignity offered to his immediate 
retainers was tempered with a feehng of satis- 
faction that he had amongst his vassals a man 
possessed of such unusual strength, courage, and 
sagacity. It was evident, also, to a prudent man, 
that it would be a more satisfactory termination 
to the present quarrel that M'Comie Mor should 
give satisfaction to the Earl's offended dignity by 
rendering a personal service to him, than that so 
brave a man should be subdued by mere force of 
numbers. Accordingly, a trusted retainer was 
despatched to Finnegand, who was to explain to 
M'Comie Mor that if he would come to Blair 
Castle, and there render a personal service to 
the Earl of an honourable nature, that in that 
case the Earl would look on this as making full 
amends for the indignities inflicted on his re- 
tainers on their last two visits. For some time 
M'Comie Mor was in great doubt as to this 
intimation being made in good faith, and had a 
strong suspicion that it was merely a ruse to get 
him quietly into Athole, where satisfaction would 
be required of him for the affair of the kain- 

c 



34 The Family of M'Coinbie. 

gatherers, and his outwitting the second expe- 
dition. Assured at length that the Earl's in- 
vitation was made in good faith, he set out with 
the messenger, and arrived at Blair Castle. But 
here a fresh difficulty arose. On being con- 
fronted with the Italian champion, and the pur- 
pose for which he had been summoned explained 
to him, he flatly refused to fight with any man 
with whom he had no quarrel. At this unlooked- 
for declaration, the hopes of the Athole men, 
which had been raised to a great height, from 
the account given by the kain-gatherers of his 
extraordinary strength and courage, and from his 
magnificent personal appearance, received a rude 
fall. In vain the Earl urged and entreated him, 
in vain some of the Athole men began audibly to 
hint that the redoubted M'Comie Mor's courage 
had vanished like their own at the sight of the 
fierce and stalwart Italian. This latter worthy's 
behaviour soon brought about the desired result. 
On learning that the man who was expected to 
fight with him refused to do so on the plea that 
there was no quarrel between them, and there- 



M'Comie Mors Fig Jit with a Foreign Bravo. 35 

fore no occasion to fight, he at once attributed 
this to cowardice, and began to indulge in much 
high-sounding bravado. This having no effect, 
he next proceeded to personal indignity, and 
approaching his apparently imperturbable oppon- 
ent, he with one hand lifted his kilt, and with the 
other — horresco referens — bestowed a sounding 
whack on the astounded chief's posteriors. In 
an instant, with the peculiarly graceful sweep 
that always marked the drawing of his sword — 
a peculiarity which afterwards stood him in good 
stead on another occasion — his sword was out of 
its scabbard. The Italian immediately sprang 
back, and put himself in position. The Athole 
men now silent, in breathless suspense watched 
the two gigantic opponents, for there was that on 
the face of M'Comie Mor that showed it was 
to be a battle ct outrance. Nor were the spec- 
tators held long in suspense as to the result. A 
few careful parries, and almost before they could 
comprehend or believe what they saw, M'Comie 
Mor's blade, with lightning-like rapidity and ex- 
traordinary force, was through the Italian's guard, 

1135570 



36 The Family of M'Combie. 

and his fiofhtino- career in this world was for ever 
ended. 

Another incident of his Hfe while at Finnegand 
marks both the proud spirit of M'Comie Mor and 
his determination not to put up with any slight to 
himself or family, and also shows the lawlessness^ 
of the time, and the little regard for human life. 
One day on coming home to Finnegand, he found 
his wife and the female servants in a very excited 
state, and on inquiry found that a big strong caird 
had called, and finding no man about the place, 
had behaved very rudely to his wife. Ascertain- 
ing that the caird had gone up the glen, he took 
two swords with him, and immediately followed 
in pursuit. Coming up with him opposite Brough- 
dearg, he gave him his choice of the swords, and 
the result of the fieht that followed between them 
was the slaughter of the caird, who was buried 
where he fell, and the place is still known as 
Imir-a-Chaird, the Caird's ridge or field.^ 

After obtaining the wadset of the barony of 
Forter, and building the mansion-house at Cran- 

^ Appendix, Note F. ^ Appendix, Note G, 



M'Comie Mors Piitting-Stone. 37 

dart, M'Comie Mor left Finnegand and resided at 
Crandart, the house of which was built in 1660. 
By the time he came to reside there he was past 
his prime, and had become less desirous of exert- 
ing his personal strength, it is therefore probable 
that his famous feat with the stone, which since 
then has been known as M'Comie Mors putting- 
stone, was performed while he was yet a young 
man at Finnegand, The place where the feat 
was performed, and the stone itself, and the stance, 
are all remarkable. The source of the Prosen, a 
right-bank tributary of the South Esk, is at the 
west end of the slope that reaches back from the 
summit of the Mayar, 3043 feet, whose eastern 
side rises abruptly over Glen Prosen. At the 
west end of this slope, in two slight depressions 
which spread out like a V, are gathered the head- 
waters of the Prosen, a short distance from the 
source of the Cally, a left-bank tributary of the 
Isla, Between the two depressions is a com- 
paratively level meadow of short benty grass, and 
from the surface of this meadow the upper edge 
of an earthfast stone, about 4 or 5 feet long, 



38 The Family of M'Combie. 

projects for about 6 inches above the surface. 
This projecting edge of the boulder forms the 
stance, and about 26 feet beyond this stance 
is embedded, in a round hole in the ground, • 
a round -shaped rough -surfaced stone of about 
35 lb. in weight, and local tradition for over two 
hundred years has handed down the hole, in which 
the stone lies embedded to about half its diameter, 
as the mark to which M'Comie Mor putted the 
stone from the stone stance. On many of the 
surrounding heights, pieces of ground as smooth 
and level may be got ; but so good a natural 
stance and natural putting-stone is extremely rare, 
if not altogether unique, on a mountain-top. It 
is easy to understand that all the conditions and 
materials being found so handy, for such a national 
pastime as putting the stone, by the young men 
of the surrounding glens, when on hunting ex- 
peditions or looking after their flocks, the place 
would soon become well known ; the marks of noted 
throwers would be pointed out, and every noted 
putter would be anxious to put a best on record 
down if possible. There is nothing Improbable, 



M'Comie Mors Well. 39 

therefore, in believing that the mark put in over 
two hundred years ago by admiring contempor- 
aries, and kept fresh by succeeding generations, 
points out the exact spot to which M'Comie Mor 
putted the present stone from the present stance. 
Many athletes of the present day have made a 
pilgrimage to it when passing between Clova and 
Glenisla, and to both them and their forefathers 
stance, stone, and mark have ever remained the 
same. What renders it still more probable is, 
that the same stone could be putted the same 
distance by one or two of the leading athletes of 
the present time. Most traditionary putting- 
stones of bygone heroes are of a weight, or have 
been putted a distance, that at once stamps the 
accounts given as absurd nonsense. 

On the west side of the westmost arm of the 
V, the strongest spring that there gushes out is 
known as M'Comie Mor's well. From the top 
of the Mayar, looking north, the top of Benachie, 
beyond the vale of Alford, may be seen through 
a gap, as it were, among the intervening moun- 
tains. Perhaps it was a glimpse of distant Ben- 



40 The Family of M'Combie. 

achie from this point that led young Donald 
M'Combie in after-years, when the fortunes of 
his family were on the wane in Forfarshire, to 
seek his fortune in the Vale of Alford. Besides 
that of the well-known putting-stone, other tradi- 
tions exist of M'Comie Mors great personal 
strength. Two stones used to be pointed out 
in Canlochan, with which he performed feats 
altogether beyond the power of ordinary men. 
He is also said to have become possessed of a 
bull in the Stormont district, which had become 
unmanageable from its fierce temper, on very 
easy terms from his point of view. M'Comie 
Mor hearing the owner of the bull saying he 
would have to destroy him, as he was become 
unmanageable and unsafe, laughed at the idea of 
a man being beat by a bull. The owner, said to 
have been Mercer of Meikleour, nettled at being 
laughed at, said that if M'Comie Mor could 
manage the bull unaided, he would get him home 
with him as a present. This offer being accepted, 
they proceeded to the enclosure where the fierce 
brute was confined, which no sooner saw them 



M'Comie Mor and Knox Baxter. 41 

than he rushed bellowing to the side of the fence. 
M'Comie Mor, reaching over the fence, with his 
left hand seized the bull's right horn, then vault- 
ing over the fence, seized his other horn with his 
right hand, and in a moment had the now in- 
furiated brute on his back. Then allowing him 
to regain his feet, he immediately overthrew him 
a second time, and this he repeated till he was 
thoroughly subdued, when he was afterwards 
taken home in triumph by his conqueror.^ 

In an agfe when witches were still believed in 
by ministers of the Gospel, and duly punished or 
exorcised, and the black art had its schools of 
learning, it is quite natural that several tradition- 
ary incidents in M'Comie Mor's life should con- 
tain supernatural elements. There is still pointed 
out a large stone forming the lintel of the lime- 
kiln at Crandart, which, after baffling the efforts 
of the old chief and his sons, was placed there 
by one man. The story goes that this man, 
Knox Baxter, alias Colin M'Kenzie, by name, 
who was suspected of being possessed of black 

^ Appendix, Note H. 



42 The Family of M'Combie. 

art, came to Crandart as M'Comie and his sons 
were trying ineffectually to get the stone into its 
place. Sitting down a little apart, he viewed un- 
concernedly the efforts put forth, without volun- 
teering a helping hand. By-and-by the dinner- 
hour came, without the stone having been got 
into position. Having excused himself from 
accepting the invitation given him to dinner, 
the stranger was left sitting by the kiln-side, 
where he was found when they returned to con- 
tinue their work at the kiln, but the stone was 
now in the place where the united efforts of 
M'Comie Mor and his sons had failed to place 
it ! It is said the old chief made no comment 
on this startling feat, but quietly divesting 
himself of his coat with its silver buttons, he 
handed it to Knox Baxter as a tacit acknow- 
ledgment of the estimation he had of his powers. 
The old chief knew that no man unaided could 
have done what had been done, and deemed it 
prudent to propitiate his uncanny visitor. 

But a still more exciting and uncanny adventure 
awaited him. In going through the forest of Can- 



M'Comie Mor and the Fairy. 43 

lochan one day he came upon no less a being 
than the water-kelpie's wife, in the weird and 
secluded Glascorrie. Taken unawares, this re- 
doubted fairy or elf had not time to escape to 
the water before M'Comie Mor had her firmly 
in his grasp. But how to get her to Crandart ? 
He knew that if he crossed running water with 
her she would escape from him, do what he 
might. He therefore set out on a long and diffi- 
cult route homewards, around the head-waters of 
the Brighty, along the summits of Craig Leacach, 
Cairn Aighe, Black Hill, and Monamenach, then 
cautiously threading the mountain - side above 
Crandart, and nearly losing his precious capture 
while incautiously stepping over an almost in- 
visible streamlet, he at length landed her safely 
at Crandart. Arrived there, his unwilling visitor 
had to bargain for her release, the condition being 
that the chief should have some circumstance re- 
lating to the time, place, or manner of his death 
foretold him. Thereupon the fairy, taking him 
to the face of the hill above Crandart, pointed 
out a large stone, and told him he would die 



44 The Family of M'Combie. 

with his head above it. Having now acquired 
her Hberty, she departed to her own haunts 
again, and we may be sure was careful never 
to be so incautious in her future wanderinQ^s in 
Canlochan. M'Comie Mor took prudent pre- 
cautions that dying with his head above the 
stone pointed out by the fairy should prove 
more convenient than its then position war- 
ranted. He therefore caused the stone to be 
removed from the hillside, and built into the 
wall of his house at Crandart, so that the head 
of the stone was under the head of his bed, 
whereon many years after he died, with his head 
above the stone, as the fairy foretold. 

As John M'Comie advanced in life and found 
his personal strength diminishing, he was anxious 
that his eldest son and successor might be worthy 
of the family name, but seems to have had some 
doubts on this point, as although the young man, 
who was also named John, had obtained the cog- 
nomen of Mor, big, from his stalwart appearance, 
yet his quiet peaceable disposition had led the 
old chief to imagine he was too gentle — had, as 



]\PCoinie Mor tests his Eldest Son. 45 

he said, too much of the Campbell blood in him. 
This, according to M'Comie Mors opinion, was 
not likely to increase his courage ; he therefore 
determined to put it to the test, and thereby set 
his mind at rest. Knowing that his son would 
be returning from Glenshee to Glenisla one even- 
ing about dusk by the pass of Glen Bainie, he 
there lay in wait for him at a sort of natural 
stone seat, still called M'Comie Mors Chair. 
Having disguised himself as much as possible, 
he trusted to the deepening twilight sufficiently 
concealing his identity. No sooner, then, did his 
son appear, than, without uttering a word of chal- 
lenge or warning, he at once sprang up, drew his 
sword, and attacked him. It has been already 
mentioned that M'Comie Mor was distinguished 
by the peculiarly graceful sweep with which he 
drew his sword when about to fight. His son 
fortunately observed this, and at once suspected 
both who his adversary was and the reason for 
this unexpected attack. Keeping his suspicions 
to himself, however, he at once began to defend 
himself, while demanding the reason of the attack. 



46 The Family of M'Coinbie. 

His demand meeting with no attention from his 
silent aggressor, he gave all his attention to the 
matter on hand, and exerting his utmost skill, 
strength, and agility, he began to press his op- 
ponent in the most determined manner, and at 
length disarmed him, and had him completely 
at his mercy. He then told his exhausted and 
— for the first time in his life — defeated assailant, 
that if he wished to save his life he must at once 
reveal his name, and give his reason for so un- 
provoked an attack. At the first sound of his 
father's voice, his son immediately began to 
reproach him for thus endangering both their 
lives, and told him that he could have slain him 
more than once during the combat, and probably 
would have done so, had he not suspected from 
his manner of drawing his sword and beginning 
the attack who he was, and reminded him of 
how awful a thing it would have been for the 
survivor had either of them slain the other ; to 
all of which the old chief, highly elated by his 
son's unquestionable courage, strength, and skill, 
contentedly replied that all that was of no con- 



M'Comie Mor forfaulted as a Royalist. 47 

sequence compared with the now, to his mind, 
clearly demonstrated fact that his son was a true 
M'Comie. 

Leaving tradition, we now come to the histor- 
ical part of the history of John M'Comie, and it 
will be found that it is far more excitingf and 
tragical than anything handed down by tradition. 
To understand how the strange and stirring 
events towards the close of John M'Comie's life 
originated, we must bear in mind that he had 
entered into possession of the barony of Forter 
during the time of the Commonwealth. In these 
unsettled and unsettling times, such a man as 
John M'Comie could not remain inactive. At 
the outset he had sided with the King's party,^ 
and in Chambers's ' History of the Rebellion in 
Scotland ' we find, in vol. ii., appendix, under 
date February 11, 1645, as forfaulted for "the 
invasione of the Northe,"^ John M'Colmie.^ 
There is no doubt, however, but that he 
changed sides, and it is probable this was in 
great measure owing to his being married to 

^ Appendix, Note A. ^ Appendix, Note I. ^ Appendix, Note J. 



48 The Family of M'Covibie. 

Elizabeth Campbell, granddaughter of Donald 
Campbell of Denhead, near Coupar-Angus, who 
was a son of Donald Campbell, last Abbot of 
Coupar in Angus, and fourth son of Archibald, 
Earl of Argyll. It was doubtless this connection 
by marriage with a scion of the House of Argyll 
that induced John M'Comie to side with the 
Parliament and Cromwell latterly. This change 
of sides proved most disastrous to him and his 
family, for no sooner was the Restoration an 
accomplished fact, than the Royalists, who had 
before feared and respected him, began to harass 
him in person and property. Charles II. was 
restored in May 1660, entering London on the 
29th of May, and in less than a year afterwards 
the Scottish Parliament passed an " Act and 
Decreit in favour of James, Earle of Airlie, 
against Johne M'Intosh, alias M'Comie, of For- 
thar," at Edinburgh, May 3, 1661. From 
which Act it appears that the Earl's father, 
James, Lord Ogilvie, had raised letters of free 
forestry for the forest of Glascorrie, commonly 
called Camlochan, in the reign of James VI., as 



M'Couiie Mors Laivsiiit ivitli Lord Air lie. 49 

had also the then Earl In the reign of Charles I. 
Yet, notwithstanding, " The said Johne M'Intosh, 
alias M'Comie, upon ane secreit design to in- 
croach upon the supplicant's glen of Glascorie, 
comonly called Camlochan, did eat the grass 
of the said forrest, cut down and destroy the 
growing trees, and kill the roes and dears haunt- 
ing and feiding therein at his pleasure." John 
M'Comie had obtained a sight of these letters 
and " gave ane inventar subscryved with his hand 
for redeliverie thereof, . . . but flatlie refused 
so to doe." So cannot get them, though " neid- 
full to the supplicant and James, Lord Ogilvie, his 
Sonne." "And the said John M'Comie, defender, 
compeiring personally with Mr George M'Ken- 
zie^ his pro""', . . . and alledged that he ought not 
to redeliver the same Because be verteu of ane 
contract of alienation betuixt the persewer and 
defender The persewer is obleidged to deliver to 
him the said writs et quod frustra petit qui mox 
est restiturtis. Whereunto it was replyed for the 
said persewer that he opposed the band and in- 

1 Appendix, Note K. 
D 



50 The Family of M'Conibie. 

ventar subscryved with his hand for redelyverie 
of the same, To the which it wes duplyed for the 
said defender, that the yeers wherein the per- 
sewer had hbertie to redeim the said glen of 
Glascorie from the defender not being expyred 
the time of the granting of the saids inventars, 
as they are now, he could not be tyed be verteu 
therof to deliver the same, his right to the said 
glen being now irredeimable, and the writs his 
oune. All which being set forth, His Maiestie, 
with advice and consent of the saids estates of 
Parliament," ordained that the letters of free 
forestry be given up. 

From which it would appear that the defence 
of John M'Comie lay, first, in the fact that the 
deed of alienation gave him the right to the 
letters, and that it was needless to give back to 
Lord Airlie what he would immediately have to 
redeliver again ; second, that the time which had 
been given to the Earl of Airlie to redeem the 
forest had expired, and that as the engagement 
to redeliver the letters referred only to the time 
during which the forest could be redeemed, the 



M'Comie Mors Lawstut with Lord Air lie. 51 

letters of free forestry were, like the forest itself, 
beyond recall, and were now the property of 
John M'Comie, not of Lord Airlie. In the Act 
there is no attempt to deny John M'Comie's 
statements. Judgment was simply given against 
him, the reason for which appears in certain 
phrases in an " Act and Remit, James, Earle of 
Airlie, against Johne M'Intoshe, alias M'Comie, of 
Forther." " Anent the supplication given in to 
the Estates of Parliament be James, Earle of 
Airlie, and James, Lord Ogilvie, his sonne, against 
Johne M'Intosh, alias M'Comie, of Forther, shew- 
ing That be ane contract of alienation passed 
betuixt the supplicant and the said Johne M'ln- 
tosh, anent the alienation to him of the lands and 
baronie of Forther, Ther is expreslie reserved 
to the supplicant the forest and glen of Glascorie, 
cofnonly called Camlochan, lyand within the 
parochen of Glenyla and Shereffdome of Forfar, 
and bounded within the particular meiths and 
marches mentioned in the said contract : Not- 
withstanding of the which reservation, the said 
John M'Intosh, alias M'Comie, haveing great 



52 The Family of M'Coinbie. 

power with the late vsiirpers as their intelligencer 
and favourite, had these severall years bygone en- 
croached within the meiths and marches of the 
said forrest, and had pastured yeerly thereon 
above fyvescore oxen and twenty milk kyne with 
diverse horses. For remeid whairof the suppli- 
cant intendit action of coofnition of marches and 
molestation against the said John M'Comie be- 
for the Shirreff of Forfar, founded vpon the Act 
of Parliament, In which action ther being diverse 
disputes, ansuers, duplys, and triplyes made for 
either partie and set doun in writ, The same 
wes at lenth delivered to Mr David Nevay, 
Shirreff of Forfar, to be advised be him, who 
being readie to pronounce interloquitur therein, 
The said Johne M'Comie, be his said moyen and 
favotcr with the English vsurpers, purchased ane 
advocation of the said persute, and produced the 
same befor the said Shirreff depute, thereby to 
stop and discharge him from any further pro- 
ceiding therein, Albeit upon most false and unjust 
grounds. . . . Since the production of the which 
advocation not only the forsaid action and per- 



M'Comie Mors Lawsuit zvith Lord Airlie. 53 

sute had sisted and sleeped, Bot also the said 
Johne M'Comie had continewed yeerly sensyne 
pasturing his goods and cattell vpon the said 
forrest, and eiting and destroying the haill grasse 
thairof, to the supphcants' great hurt, preiudice, 
and heavie oppression. . . . Thereupon His 
Majestie, with advice and consent of the saids 
estates of ParHament, having considered the said 
suppHcation, . . . and the said defender nor his 
said pro""' had proposed no reasonable cause why 
the desire of the said petition ought not to be 
granted," — thereupon remits to Sheriff to settle 
marches. Here we have the reason of the 
summary settlement of the matters in dispute. 
It is admitted that John M'Comie had had full 
and complete possession of the forest of Can- 
lochan for years past, and that he had got 
discharge "from any further proceeding" anent 
his right. But he had got all this, it was alleged, 
because of his "moyen and favour with the 
English usurpers," and on account of his "hav- 
ing great power with the late usurpers as their 
intelligencer and favourite." For such a one 



54 The Family of M'Combie. 

against a Royalist nobleman there was little hope 
of a favourable issue in any court of law of that 
period, and in Parliament none whatever. That 
Lord Airlie placed his hopes of success not on 
a decision according to law, but on the political 
feeling of the time, is shown by his bringing the 
matter in dispute, not before the ordinary legal 
tribunals, but before Parliament. To the Resto- 
ration Parliament the matter would appear very 
simple. Here is Lord Airlie, one of ourselves, 
who, while our party was held in subjection by 
the late usurpers, alienated a valuable part of his 
property to one in power and favour with these 
usurpers. This deed of alienation has become 
irredeemable, but Lord Airlie says this was 
owing to the position of the respective parties at 
the time, the usurpers having great power, the 
Royalists little or no power. Lord Airlie, there- 
fore, wants his property back again, which we, 
as the party now in power, will now give him, 
putting aside all question of the legality or justice 
of our decision.^ 

^ Appendix, Note L. 



M'Comie M or excepted from Act of Indemnity. 55 

As showing still further to what extent John 
M'Comie was a marked man, and disliked by the 
Government of the Restoration, we learn from the 
Acts of Parliament of Scotland, vol. vii. p. 426, 
that he was amongst the " exceptions from the 
Act of Indemnity, Sept. 9, 1662, in so far as 
may concern the payment of the sumes under- 
written," — viz., "Johne Malcolme of Forthar, 
1800 pds." 

In 1665 John Mackintosh of Forter in Glenisla, 
with twenty-five Farquharsons under William of 
Inverey, and George Farquharson of Brough- 
dearg in Glenshee, were among 500 men who 
attended the summons of the chief of the 
M'Intoshes, to meet at the Kirk of Insh. It 
is also worthy of note that Forbes of Skellater 
joined the M'Intoshes at the same muster. 

Broughdearg, opposite to Finnegand in Glen- 
shee, and marching with the barony of Forter in 
Glenisla, was held in the time of John M'Comie 
by Farquharsons. The proprietor about the time 
of the Restoration was Robert Farquharson, who 
had sought the hand of John M'Comie's daughter 



56 The Family of M'Conibie. 

in marriage, and had been accepted, but had after- 
wards changed his mind, and married Helen 
Ogilvie, daughter of Colonel Ogilvie of Shan- 
nalie. This slight no doubt rankled in the 
minds of the M'Comies, and had much to do 
with the bitterness that subsequently existed 
between the two families. 

Some time after the decisions in his favour, the 
Earl of Airlie let the grazings of the forest of 
Canlochan to Farquharson of Broughdearg. But 
John M'Comie was far from acquiescing in or 
even obeying an Act of Parliament, when he 
thought it unjust towards himself. Although 
Farquharson of Broughdearg had got a tack of 
the grazings, he by no means got possession, as 
John M'Comie continued to send his stock to 
the forest as formerly. Farquharson of course 
resented this, and the bad feeling between the 
two families increased, till it found vent in a 
series of events, so strange, lawless, and exciting, 
that one can scarcely believe they could have 
taken place little more than two hundred years ago 
in Glenisla and Glenshee, where to-day a serious 



M'Comie Mors Fend wit Ji Broughdearg. 57 

breach of law or order is rarely or ever heard of. 
But we are now on firm historical ground, as the 
events we are about to narrate are all duly 
chronicled in the Justiciary Records, or Books of 
Adjurnal, vol. xiii., 1673. From this we learn 
that, on the ist of January 1669, Robert Far- 
quharson of Broughdearg, and his brothers John 
and Alexander, with fifty or sixty others, went 
" under cloud and silence of night " to Crandart, 
with " swords, durks, pistolls, hagbutts, targes, 
halberts, axes, and other weapons," and having 
laid themselves in ambush, awaited till near break 
of day, when John M'Comie having "had occa- 
sion to come abroad about his lawfull affaires," 
they without giving him time even to put on his 
clothes, carried him off to Broughdearg. A 
strange scene truly, and one little creditable to 
the Farquharsons. To surprise an old man, not 
only unarmed, but only partially dressed, in the 
dark at his own door, was a poor feat for fifty to 
sixty men, bristling with arms and armour of all 
kinds. It is also to be observed that the Far- 
quharsons were the first to use personal violence 



58 The Family of M'Combie. 

in the quarrel. The force employed, and the 
mode of capture, both show very forcibly the 
opinion the Farquharsons entertained of M'Comie 
Mors prowess even in his old age. But though 
the old chief had been thus entrapped, his sons 
were to be reckoned with. Accordingly, John 
M'Comie was kept all that day at Broughdearg, 
but at night was removed to Tombey, which is 
called in the indictment, "ane wilderness and 
desert place." It is about a mile or little more 
westward from Broughdearg, and has still a good 
deal of natural birch wood upon it, the name 
meaning the birch thicket or knoll. Here on the 
following day, John, Alexander, James, Robert, 
and Mr Angus (Angus it will be observed 
had been at a university and obtained his 
degree), came to enter into negotiations for their 
father's release, when they also were detained as 
prisoners, until the whole were compelled to give 
a bond for 1700 merks for their liberty.^ In the 
Farquharsons' indictment against the M'Comies, 
this visit of the sons for the release of their father 

^ Appendix, Note M. 



M'Comie Mors Feud with Broiighdearg. 59 

is set down as a raid organised by Mr Angus for 
the murder of Broucrhdearsf. Mr Anofus is said 
to have collected twenty to thirty persons, all 
armed with " swords, durks, pistolls, and other 
weapons," and knowing that Robert Farquhar- 
son was at Tombey, they laid an ambush in a 
thicket of wood, near the house of Tombey, and 
on the highway, waiting for several hours till he 
should come out, on purpose to kill him, and that 
they detained several persons that passed by, lest 
they should have given Robert Farquharson 
intelligence of the ambush. No mention is 
made that Mr Angus's father was also at Tom- 
bey, in the power of the Farquharsons. To have 
slain Robert Farquharson outside the house of 
Tombey, while their father was inside it a 
prisoner in the power of the Farquharsons, 
would have been to have ensured his father's 
death, instead of procuring his life and freedom. 
And that that was their purpose is clearly proved 
by the fact that his release in safety was pro- 
cured. It is also difficult to see how, if the 
M'Comies had gone with a force of twenty to 



6o The Family of ATCombie. 

thirty men, they could have been kept prisoners, 
apparently without any trouble. We can, how- 
ever, believe it quite probable that Mr Angus 
and his brothers approached Tombey with 
caution, and also believe that if chance had 
thrown Robert Farquharson in their way, they 
would have seized him and kept him in their 
power, as a guarantee for the release of their 
father without ransom. But for the reason 
already given, it is manifest they would not, at 
that time, have made any attempt on Robert 
Farquharson's life. 

So far the Farquharsons had been the ag- 
gressors, and might be supposed to be satisfied 
with their success, and the ransom for which they 
held the M'Comies' bond. Yet, on the 14th 
May of the same year, the Farquharsons and 
their retainers, to the number of thirty-eight, all 
armed with dirks, pistols, and other weapons, 
went to the lands of Kilulock, then occupied by 
Robert M'Comie, son of John M'Comie, and 
sowed and harrowed the land, although it had 
already been sowed and harrowed by Robert 



M'Coinie Mors Feud with Brouo-fidearcr, 6i 

M'Comie. At first sight it is difficult to see on 
what grounds the Farquharsons so repeatedly, and 
seemingly so wantonly, attacked the M'Comies 
in person and property. To understand this, it 
is necessary once more to consider the political 
situation. During the latter years of the Com- 
monwealth the M'Comies had rapidly increased 
in power and influence. John M'Comie's mar- 
riage with a Campbell had still further increased 
his ascendancy. But in 1661, the very year that 
John M'Comie began to be harassed by his 
enemies, the Marquis of Argyll was executed. 
With the Restoration, John M'Comie's Royalist 
neighbours, and chief among them the Ogilvies, 
at once began to turn the changed fortunes 
of parties to their own account. As John 
M'Comie's marriage with a Campbell was at 
one time a stepping-stone to power, and latterly 
a weight to drag him down, so Robert Farquhar- 
son's marriage to an Ogilvie, which would have 
been a drawback to his fortunes in the time of 
the Commonwealth, was now a powerful agency 
for his advancement. Although the cause of the 



62 The Family of M'Combie. 

breaking off of the marriage between Robert 
Farquharson and Miss M'Comie is not men- 
tioned, it is highly probable that the marriage 
had been arranged about the time of the fall of 
the Commonwealth, and that Farquharson had 
drawn back when he saw the turn affairs were 
likely to take, and had chosen an alliance with 
an Ogilvie and Royalist, as likely to be far more 
to his advantage. We have, then, on the one 
hand John M'Comie proscribed by the Govern- 
ment of the Restoration for the part he had taken 
latterly on the side of the Commonwealth ; al- 
ready deprived in law of part of what he con- 
sidered his own property, by the head of the 
Ogilvies ; and now attacked in person and pro- 
perty by Farquharson of Broughdearg, who was 
to enjoy what he had been deprived of. On the 
other hand, Farquharson, allied by marriage with 
the Ogilvies, and already, as it were, rewarded 
for the slight he had given the M'Comies, by 
receiving a tack of the disputed forest of Can- 
lochan, would naturally think that the M'Comies 
were now become fair spoil for all who had the 



M'Comie Mors Feud with Broughdearg. 63 

courage to attack them, and that they would be 
little likely to resort to law after their recent 
experience. In these times of civil war, those 
on the losing side were practically at the mercy 
of those on the winning side. On the most 
frivolous pretexts their right to property would 
be disputed, or forcibly taken from them, and an 
appeal to law was almost certain to go against 
them. Their only hope lay in their own ability 
to defend themselves and their possessions. And 
the Farquharsons were soon to see that M'Comie 
Mor was no longer to be trifled with. Old and 
failed though he was in person, and knowing that 
there was no one now with power to help him, 
his spirit was still undaunted, and he determined 
to withstand his enemies with his own strength in 
future, and to make retaliation when he saw an 
opportunity. Accordingly, we find that the next 
incident in the feud was that Robert Farquharson 
narrowly escaped with his life in July or August 
1670, from the pursuit of James and Alexander, 
sons of John M'Comie, and Donald Gerters, John 
Burns, and David Guthrie, servants to John 



64 The Family of M'Coinbie. 

M'Comie, within the forest of Glascorrie ; and 
these not appearing to answer for the crime at 
the trial in 1673, were " denunced our Sove- 
raigne Lord's rebells, and ordained them to be 
putt to the horn, and all ther movable goods and 
gear to be escheat and imbrought to his Majesties 
use, as fugitives frae the lawes for the crymes 
above mentioned — which wes pronunced for 
doome." It was on the occasion of Robert 
Farquharson's meeting some of John M'Comie's 
servants in Glengarmie, which lies to the north- 
west of Broughdearg, and south of Glen Brighty, 
that on their telling their master "they had let 
the defunct gae without any prejudice," John 
M'Comie " did either curse, upbraid, or reprove 
them for not taking from him ane legg, ane arme, 
or his lyff, declairing that if they had done it he 
should have bein their warrand." This fact, 
brought out at the trial, shows that M'Comie Mor 
was now thoroughly roused ; and it is significant, 
too, of the effect this had on the Farquharsons, 
that we hear no more of the Farquharsons making 
personal attacks on the M'Comies, They had 



M'Comie Mors Feud zvith Broughdearg. 65 

evidently thought that, being now old, and having 
no one to depend on for help but his own family 
and dependants, he could be attacked with im- 
punity. Finding now their mistake, they would 
doubtless have been glad to have let the quarrel 
drop; and had the M'Comies given up their 
claim to free forestry in Canlochan, there might 
have been no further trouble. But the fact of 
Robert Farquharson's being driven out of the 
forest showed that his tenure of it was still very 
precarious. Fearing, however, any longer to 
attack the M'Comies personally, the Farquharsons 
seized some of the M'Comies' cattle in 1672, 
whereupon John M'Comie " persewed a spulzie" 
against Robert Farquharson before the Sheriff 
of Forfar, and got letters of caption against him. 
It is worthy of remark here that John M'Comie 
sought redress in a legal way. But a new diffi- 
culty arose, as Robert Farquharson swore " no 
man should take him alive," an oath he made 
good. Accordingly, when Alexander Strachan, 
the messenger of the burgh of Forfar, went to 
take Broughdearg, he had to return baffled. So 

E 



66 The Family of M'Combie. 

matters stood when, on the 28th January 1673, 
Robert Farquharson went to Forfar " for his own 
defence of the said persuit" John M'Comie was 
aware of Robert Farquharson's going to Forfar 
on this day, and is said in the indictment to have 
spoken to his sons " thir words, or to the lyk 
purpose : Goe to Forfar ; arme yourselves with 
your pistolls and swords ; take my servant with 
you, and bring him dead or alyve. That severall 
tymes befor that he said he should have his lyff 
for the many affronts and injuries he had done 
him, tho' he should ware two of his best sones in 
the querrell ; and who wotild or durst speir after 
it?'' According to the account given by the 
Farquharsons, when they reached Forfar, Robert 
Farquharson was informed that " the Court 
wes done ; whereupon, having no other bussie- 
ness at Forfar, he returned, and wes in his 
journey homewards," when he was attacked 
by the M'Comies. John, Alexander, James, and 
Robert, sons of John M'Comie, and J. Burn, 
T. Fleming, D. Guthrie, and D. M'Intosh, their 
servants, had gone to Forfar to watch the result 



M'Comie Mo7^'s Fetid with Broughdcarg. 67 

of the action before the Sheriff. It is probable, 
therefore, that the Farquharsons had returned 
homewards before reaching Forfar, when they 
heard of the M'Comies being present in some 
strength. Be this as it may, when the M'Comies 
heard that the Farquharsons were on their way 
home again without having put in an appearance 
before the Sheriff, they got Alexander Strachan, 
the burgh messenger, so that they might act 
legally, and went in pursuit of the Farquharsons. 
By the time they had got the messenger, they 
were in some uncertainty as to where the Far- 
quharsons were. It is said in the Farquharsons' 
indictment, that at the house of Torbeg, " they 
with ther durks and swords stobbed the beds and 
other places where they imagined him (Robert 
Farquharson) to have been lurking. . . . Alse did 
swear every persone they did meit, if they had 
seen Robert Farquharson." At length they met 
a poor man, whom they threatened to kill if he 
would not tell : said man, "in fear of his lyff," 
told them the Farquharsons were on their way 
to Loggie. Being informed of which, " the said 



68 The Family of M'Combie. 

Alexander and James M'Comies, and the other 
remnant persones above named, threw away ther 
plaids and betook themselves to ther armes, and 
in a hostill and militarie pouster, persewed and 
followed after the saids Robert and John Far- 
quharsons, and the said Alexander ther brother, 
to the lands of Drumgley, where having over- 
taken the said Robert, they most cruellie and 
inhumanlie invadit and assaulted the saids Robert 
and John Farquharsons, and the said Alexander 
ther brother, and gave them severall shotts and 
wounds in ther bodies, heads, and hands, off the 
which the said Robert Farquharson dyed im- 
mediatlie upon the place, and the said John Far- 
quharson wes woundit, and therefter dyed of 
these wounds within days." This is the account 
of the Farquharsons, which, be it observed, gives 
no details of the fight, the reason for which we 
can understand in the light of the details given 
by the evidence brought forward by the M'Comies. 
The evidence of the messenger, that should have 
been impartial and trustworthy, is unfortunately 
contradictory and unreliable. There was first 



M'Comie Moi's Feud with Brotighdearg. 69 

produced "an execution of caption," which he 
wrote at "the desyre of the M'Comies — but re- 
ceived neither good deid nor promise of good 
deid at that time for giving thereof" The exe- 
cution of caption was to the effect that Robert 
Farquharson, " being chairged in his Majestie's 
name to render him prisoner to me — most con- 
temptuouslie disobeyed, and made resistance by 
drawing of ane sword against me and my assist- 
ants, whereupon I brack my wand of peace." 
This is in accordance with the M'Comies' de- 
fence — viz., that the messenger called on them 
as assistants, and that they were acting legally 
in trying to capture Robert Farquharson. The 
letter next produced was written to James Far- 
quharson of Laidnathie, because David Fenton, 
in Loggie, a friend of the Farquharsons, told him 
the Farquharsons were all at Kilimuir, and were 
to take messenger's life unless he would write 
some such letter. The letter states, that " I wes 
not within sex pair of butts when he (Robert 
Farquharson) was killed, and likewise I do declair 
I never spoke with him that day." Lastly, we have 



70 The Family of M'Combie. 

what professes to be the messenger's impartial 
account of the matter as follows : " As to the 
matter of fact, declares that he did not speak 
with Brughderg that day, nor wes near him be 
the space of sex or seven pair of butts when he wes 
killed, but cryed to him about that distance to render 
himself prisoner, and the M'Comies also cryed, 
who were running after Brughderg ; does not 
know whether he heard either of them, but cryed 
he woidd be taken be none of them, and ran through 
a mosse and the M'Comies after him." In the 
indictment by the M'Comies against the Far- 
quharsons, the account is so circumstantial and 
graphic, as to carry conviction of its truth along 
with it. It is certain that the messenger, armed 
with a legal warrant, cried to Robert Farquharson 
to surrender ; it is also certain that Robert Far- 
quharson heard this, as he replied that " he would 
be taken be none of them." After this, John 
M'Comie, believing that he was acting legally, 
overtook Robert Farquharson, and, be it observed, 
did not attempt to slay or even injure him, but 
merely "so secured him as that he wes not able 



M'Comie Mors Fejid with Broughdearg. 71 

to doe any present hurt." And here he gives 
proof of the mildness of disposition which led 
his father to doubt his courage. He wanted to 
make sure that Robert Farquharson should no 
longer escape answering for the seizure of his 
father's cattle ; but he also wanted this to be 
effected, if possible, without undue violence, and 
without bloodshed. While holdine Robert Far- 
quharson, he was of course incapable of defending 
himself from any other one who chose to attack 
him, and it was while in this position that John 
and Alexander, brothers to Robert Farquharson, 
"presented ther guns, and came so near them 
that the months of ther guns toiUched the said 
John his flank, and fyred upon him, and so 
disinabled him that he fell to the ground, and by 
the sa7ne shotts killed Robert Mcintosh, the corn- 
p leaner s other son, dead to the ground ; and ther 
being nothing to satiat ther inveterat hatred and 
malice but the said John M'Intosh lyff and his 
sons, the said John Farquharson in Cantsmilne, 

Farquharson his son, Thomas Creighton in 

Milntown of Glenisla, came in cold blood near to 



72 The Family of M'Combie. 

the Mosse of Forfar, wher the said John M'Intosh 
wes yet alyve lying in his wounds, and ther with 
ther durks and swo7^ds stobbed and woundit the said 
yohn MTntosh untill he dyed." More cowardly 
and dastardly butchery — for it was not fighting — 
was never perpetrated. From first to last there 
is no account of any Farquharson attacking a 
M'Comie in an honourable and straightforward 
manner ; and now, after shooting John and Robert 
M'Comie almost in cold blood, they made no 
further stand, as it was offered to be proved, on 
their behalf, that the wounds of which Robert 
Farquharson died on the spot, and John Far- 
quharson his brother died a few days after, we^'-e 
received in the back. 

The bodies of the slain men were, it is said, 
brought home by different routes, by the advice 
of prudent counsellors, lest there might be a fresh 
outbreak between the two families and their ser- 
vants and adherents, if they should meet together 
in the then excited state of their feelings. The 
M'Comies were buried in the churchyard of 
Glenisla. 



M'Comie Mors Fend with Broughdearg. 73 
We can form some idea of the feelinofs of orrief 

o o 

and exasperation that filled the heart of John 
M'Comie, from the following expressions, cited 
during the trial as being used by him after the 
intelligence of what he termed the murder of his 
sons, reached Crandart. It is stated that " sev- 
erall tymes, when friends wer endeavouring a 
mediation betuixt them, the pannall's expressions 
severall tymes wer that all was to no purpose, 
the sword behoved to decyde it ; that since the 
murder he wished he wer but twenty yeeres of 
age again, which, if he wer, he should make the 
Farquharsons besouth the Cairn of Month thinner, 
and should have a lyff for ilk finger and toe of his 
two dead sones." As to Mr Angus, " he houndit 
out " the others to the pursuit, and said to his 
sister, when lamenting the loss of her brothers, 
"She had no reason to lament for them, since 
they hade gott the lyff they wer seeking." 

The trial of both parties took place on various 
days from the 2d to the nth of June 1673. On 
the one side, John M'Comie of Forter, pursuer, 
" for himself, and in name and behalf of the rem- 



74 The Family of M'Combie. 

nant kin and freinds of the saids John and Robert 
M'Intoshes." The others named on the side of 
the M'Comies were, James, Alexander, and Mr 
Angus, sons ; Thomas Fleyming, in DaHnamer, 
John Burn, David Guthrie, Donald M'Intosh, 
and Donald Gerters, tenants and servants — in 
all ten persons, besides John M'Comie, senior. 
On the other side, Helen Ogilvie, relict of the 
deceased Robert Farquharson of Broughdearg ; 
Alexander Farquharson, his brother; James, Alex- 
ander, and John Farquharsons, his uncles, "for 
themselves, and in name," &c., were pursuers. 
The others named on the side of the Farquhar- 
sons were: "John Barnot, in Dunmae ; Donald 
M'Vadenach, in Burghderg; George Patton, ser- 
vitor to Burghderg; Thomas M'Nicol, also ser- 
vant; Duncan M'Coul of Kero ; Thomas Creigh- 
ton, in Milnetoun of Glenila ; Alexander Farqu- 
harson, in Belnaboth ; John Farquharson, in Bel- 
naboth ; John Farquharson of Dunnieday ; James 
Farquharson, in Milne of Ingzeon ; William Far- 
quharson, his sone ; John Farquharson, in Cants- 
milne ; Farquharson, his sone." In all, in- 



M^Comie Mors Ferid with Broiighdeai'g. 75 

eluding, as in the case of the M'Comies, the two 
slain, eighteen persons. 

The result of the trial as regards the main 
charges — viz., the deaths near the Moss of Forfar 
— was that each of the pursuers abandoned their 
case, both parties seeing that to follow the 
double action to the end would only be to bring 
several of the survivors on both sides under the 
severest penalty of the law. We have already 
seen that of those on the M'Comies' side, James 
M'Comie and Alexander M'Comie, his sons, and 
Donald Gerters, John Burn, and David Guthrie, 
his servants, were outlawed as fugitives. On the 
9th June, Duncan M'Coul of Kero ; Thomas 
Creighton, in Milnetoun of Glenila ; John Far- 

quharson, in Cantsmilne ; Farquharson, his 

son, " being ofttymes called," for their share of 
the raids of Crandart and Kilulock, and the three 
last mentioned for killing the wounded John 
M'Comie, and having been duly summoned, 
and " not enterand and compeirand," the Lords 
Commissioners of Justiciary "decerned and ad- 
judged the haill forenamed persones to be 



76 The Family of M'Combie. 

denunced our Soveragne Lord's rebells, and 
ordained them to be put to the home, and all 
ther movable goods and gear to be escheat and 
inbrought to his Majesties use, as fugitives frae 
the lawes, for the crymes above specified — which 
wes pronunced for doome." ^ 

That the Farquharsons had now enough of the 
feud which they themselves had originated, and 
been the agressors in, and were now in dread of 
the old chief whom they had thought to have 
subdued, is evident from the fact that, on the 
same day on which the several actions were 
abandoned by both parties, " Helen Ogilvie, re- 
lict of the deceast Robert Farquharson of Brugh- 
derg, craved law-burrowes of the said Johne 
M'Intosh of Forther, and made faith that she 
dreadit him bodylie harme and oppression;" where- 
upon the Lords Commissioners ordered him to 
find caution. " In obedience whereof the said 
John M'Intosh, as principall, and Thomas Oliver, 
of Westmiln, in Glenila, and Thomas M'Intosh, 
merchant in Montrose, as cautioner and sovertie 

^ Appendix, Note N. 



Death of M'Comie Mor. 77 

for him, gave caution, in form according to Act of 
Parliament." Item, i6thjune: "Thomas Fleym- 
ing, in Dalinamer in Glenila, was set at libertie, 
upon caution to appear on 15 days' notice." He 
had stood prisoner with John M'Comie and his 
son, Mr Angus.^ 

And now, after a long and most eventful life, 
John M'Comie, the M'Comie Mor, died in peace, 
in his own house at Crandart, before 12th Janu- 
ary 1676.- His sagacity and unconquerable spirit, 
his chivalrous courage and extraordinary personal 
strensfth, marked him out as a true leader of men 
in revolutionary times such as those in which he 
lived. That he was the most remarkable man of 
his time in the district in which he lived, is indis- 
putably proved by his traditionary fame even at 
the present time. In few districts in Scotland has 
the memory of a man who died over two hundred 
years ago been kept living so vividly by tradition, 
as has that of M'Comie Mor, in Glenshee and 
Glenisla. He was buried in Glenisla churchyard, 
beside his two sons who were killed at Drum- 

^ Appendix, Note O. - Appendix, Note P. 



78 The Family of M'Combie. 

gley. Not many years ago, the late Rev. Mr 
Simpson, Free Church minister of Glenisla, told 
the late Mr J. B. M'Combie, advocate, Aberdeen, 
and great-great-great-grandson of M'Comie Mor, 
that he was present in Glenisla churchyard, 
when, in digging a grave in the spot pointed 
out by tradition as the burying - place of the 
M'Comies, some immense bones were exhumed, 
which Mr Simpson and others who saw them 
had no doubt were those of M'Comie Mor, or 
one of his sons. 

Of John M'Comie's seven sons, John and 
Robert were killed, as already narrated. James, 
who was outlawed in 1673, for not appearing to 
stand his trial, on finding the main action de- 
parted from by both parties, returned, and had 
doubtless had little trouble in eettine the sen- 
tence of outlawry reversed. Accordingly we find 
that, on the 12th January 1676, "Jacobus M'ln- 
tosh de Forther " was served nearest lawful heir 
to Robert M'Intosh, his younger brother, who 
had been portioner of Gambok, in four acres of 
arable land of the town and lands of Easter- 



M'Comie Mors Family. 79 

Denhead, near Coupar - Angus (which he had 
doubtless inherited from his mother's family), in 
the field called Cottarbank ; in the piece of un- 
laboured ground at Corshill ; and with common 
pasturage in the Soidmyre.^ From the same 
source^ we learn that Thomas M'Comie, son of 
John M'Intosh, alias M'Comie, of Forther, was 
served nearest heir to the foregoing James, his 
elder brother, on January 2, 1677. Of Mr 
Angus, the late Mr William Shaw, of Milton of 
Blacklunans, in the letter already quoted from, 
says that James M'Intosh, there referred to, "told 
me that it was an Angus M'Comie, alias M'In- 
tosh, that restored Forter to the Airlie family ; 
that this is seen in the process between Sir David 
Wedderburn of Ballindean and the Airlies." 
From the ' Registrum Magni Sigilli,' lib. Ixix. 
No. 51, it appears that there was a charter under 
the Great Seal, of date 15th December 1682, 
granting to Alexander M'Intosh the lands of 
Wester Innerharitie, in the parish of Glenisla, 



1 Inquisitionum Retornatarum Abbreviatio, vol. ii. p. 1125, i8n. 
- Ibid., vol. ii. p. 5962. 



8o The Family of M'Combie. 

and sheriffdom of Forfar. Alexander, it will be 
remembered, had been outlawed with James in 
1673. There remains now only the youngest son, 
Donald, from whom are descended the well-known 
M'Combies of Aberdeenshire, and whose history 
we now proceed to take up. 

But before doing so, let us take a last look at 
Crandart, where, on the death of M'Comie Mor, 
and the subsequent dispersion of his family, 
the fortunes of the M'Comies seemed for ever 
wrecked. Of the old Ha' of Crandart little re- 
mains. The outlines of the old house can still be 
made out as regards the ground-plan, and the 
sides of the door and one window of the pres- 
ent farmhouse, and another in the steading, with 
their moulded corners, and the threshold-stone, 
were taken from the old Ha'. Besides these 
stones, there are two stones with inscriptions 
still left from the old mansion-house. One of 
these is built into the south end of the west 
wing of the present steading at Crandart. On 
it is the following inscription : — 



Memorials of ]\rCouiie Mor. 8i 

I'M. OP E . c . 

lOI lOI 

•TIE . LORD . DEFEND • TIIS • FAMILI(E). 

l6 60 

The other stone was, unwarrantably we beheve, 
removed from Crandart, first to Dal-na-Sneachd, 
across the Isla, and from thence to Balharry, 
where it now is. The inscription on it is — 

I SHALL . OVERCOM • INVY . VITI 

GODS . HELP • TO • GOD • BE • AL • 

TRAIS • HONOVR • AND • GLORIE 



16 I I 60 

At Balharry it possesses little interest for any 
one, and we think it a great pity it was ever 
removed from Crandart. At Crandart it would 
be in its original home, and would be a silent 
memento of him who placed it there — the hero in 
tradition and history, of Glenshee and Glenisla, 
M'Comie Mor. 



82 



CHAPTER III. 

SETTLEMENT IN ABERDEENSHIRE — DONALD M'COMIE — ROBERT 
M'COMBIE — WILLIAM M'COMBIE, TENANT IN LYNTURK — THE 
M'COMBIES A STALWART RACE — FACTION FIGHTS — INCIDENTS 
OF THE '45 — FAMILY OF WILLIAM M'COMBIE OF LYNTURK AND 
THEIR DESCENDANTS — HIS BROTHERS. 

T T is easy to see that many events from 1660 
to 1673 had tended to exhaust the resources 
and weaken the position of the M'Comies. The 
litigation with Lord Airhe concerning the right 
of free forestry in Canlochan, terminating in two 
Acts and Decrees of the Scottish Parhament 
in Lord AirHe's favour, must have cost John 
M'Comie much money, as he, in that and the 
subsequent trials, employed the best counsel of 
his time. The loss of the forest itself as a 
grazing and hunting ground, when at last given 
up, must have caused a serious diminution of 



Settlement in Aberdeenshire. 83 

income. Then, again, the legal conflict with 
Lord Airlie was almost immediately followed by 
the exaction of the Government fine of £ 1 800, a 
very large sum in those times. Although there 
are substantial grounds for believino- that the 
bond granted to the Farquharsons, under the 
circumstances already narrated, was never paid, 
yet the resistance of its payment must have 
entailed very considerable law costs. All this, 
followed by the great trial in 1673, must have 
reduced the fortunes of the family to a very low 
ebb. We have seen that the old chief did not 
long survive this ; and the facts relating to the 
history of the family for some time afterwards 
are very meagre. There can be little doubt 
but that the property was burdened by debt ere 
this time,^ and that the surviving sons of John 
M'Comie, finding it impossible to make headway 
longer at home, one by one set out in search of 
better fortune. Of the subsequent fortunes of 
those who remained south of the Grampians we 
have no authentic record, and the history of the 

^ Appendix, Note Q. 



84 The Fainily of APCoiiibie. 

M'Comies must now be transferred from Perth 
and Forfar to Aberdeenshire, where the young- 
est son, Donald M'Comie, settled, while still a 
very young man, towards the end of the seven- 
teenth century. The date of the migration of 
Donald M'Comie from Glenisla to the vale of 
Alford is not known exactly, but was probably 
between 1676 and 1680, as by the Poll-book 
for Aberdeenshire of date 1696, we find him 
married to Janet Shires, and tenant to the yearly 
value of ^10 in a holding at Edindurnoch, now 
Nethertown of Tough. In addition to his poll- 
tax as tenant, he was taxed six shillings additional 
as a tradesman. From this it is evident that he 
had been a considerable time in Aberdeenshire 
previous to 1696. There can be little doubt but 
that, owing to the circumstances above mentioned, 
and from his being the youngest son, he brought 
little into Aberdeenshire except a few personal 
effects. There has always been a tradition that 
he brought a few relics with him from Crandart, 
which have, unfortunately, not been preserved in 
the family. Looking back on the circumstances 



Donald APCoviie, Maws of Toiilcy. 85 

of Donald M'Comie in 1696, they are about as 
unpropitious as could be ; and the subsequent 
slow but steady rise of the family in fortune and 
influence, through no sudden accession of for- 
tune, but by steady unremitting perseverance and 
prudence, is of itself sufficient proof that its for- 
tunes were laid by a race of men who, however 
impeded they might be by adverse circumstances 
for a time, could rise superior to all ill-fortune, if 
unconquerable will and strength of purpose could 
effect it. 

Of the personal history of Donald M'Comie 
little has come down to the present time, his 
life having evidently been one of uninterrupted 
industry, free from any remarkable incident. 
From the parish records of Tough we gather 
that he was frequently employed as a valuator, 
which shows that he had come to be looked 
upon as a man of sound judgment, and to be 
held in considerable reputation. Before his 
death he became tenant in Mains of Tonley, 
in Tough, where he died in 17 14. His stone ^ in 

^ Appendix, Note R. 



86 The Family of M'Covibie. 

the churchyard of Tough is amongst the oldest, 
if not the oldest one in it with an inscription. 
There is a tradition that when the people of 
Tough were visited by the cateran, Donald 
M'Comie sometimes got these troublesome vis- 
itors away with as little loss as possible to the 
community, not, as his father, "big M'Comie in 
the head of the Lowlands," used to do, by the 
terror of his sword, but by his persuasive words 
addressed to them in Gaelic. In Glenshee, the 
early home of his father, Gaelic was the ordinary 
language of everyday life, and is still spoken 
there, although we are sorry to say it is fast 
dying out. Donald M'Comie was therefore 
familiar with it, and all who know the High- 
landers know how their heart warms to any one 
who can address them in their own tongue, 
especially when they meet with one who speaks 
it where they believe it is unknown. It is not 
difficult to understand, therefore, how he came to 
have such influence with the wild cateran. 

Donald's son Robert became tenant in Find- 
latrie, also in Tough, and overlooking Lynturk. 
His life seems to have been spent like that of his 



Robert J\rCo??ibie, Findlatrie. 87 

father, in peaceful industry, which was soon to 
bear fruit, as the rapid rise of the family after 
his time is evidence that he was laying a good 
foundation on which his descendants could raise 
a lasting superstructure. He married Isobel 
Ritchie, daughter of Mr Ritchie, Farmton of 
Alford. One of his sons, Robert, was out in 
1745, and in 1746 escaped with difficulty from 
the rout of Culloden. After the battle he was 
overtaken by three dragoons, of whom he asked 
and fortunately obtained quarter. Scarcely, how- 
ever, were they out of sight when a single dra- 
goon overtook him, and on his refusing quarter, 
Robert M'Combie drew his pistol and shot the 
horse, and after a brief combat slew the rider. 
After this he managed to get home in safety, 
and after spending some time in concealment, 
succeeded in orettinor first to Whitehaven in 
England, and subsequently went to the West 
Indies, where his future history is unknown. 

The eldest son of Robert was William, grand- 
father of the present proprietor of Easterskene 
and Lynturk. He became tenant of Upper and 
Lower Farmton and Mains of Lynturk in 1748, 



88 The Family of APCoinbie. 

residing at Lynturk, where his house still remains, 
with the date 1762 on the lintel above the door. 
It is situated close to the present mansion-house 
of Lynturk, and the stones round the doors and 
windows, with their moulded corners, very like 
those at Crandart, were taken from the old 
castle of Lynturk, which was situated a little 
to the north-west. The present proprietor re- 
members seeing his grandfather in this house, 
which is a relic of great interest to him, and 
has been recently new-roofed to preserve the 
walls. 

A most interesting fact in connection with the 
history of the M'Combies has been the hered- 
itary transmission uninterruptedly for over 500 
years of great personal stature and strength. 
The seventh chief of the M'Intoshes, William, 
from whom they are descended, was a man "of 
stature exceeding that of common men." The 
M'Comie who got the charter for Finnegand 
had the cognomen oi Mor in 1571, and although 
John M'Comie of Forter was tJie M'Comie Mor 
par excellence in legend and history, it must be 



A Stahvart Race. 89 

remembered that his ancestors had the same cog- 
nomen before him, and his son John, who was 
slain at the Moss of Forfar, was known as young 
M'Comie Mor. So little of the personal history 
of Donald and Robert has come down to us, 
that we find no particular record of their personal 
appearance ; but no sooner do we come to learn 
particulars of the personal appearance of their de- 
scendants than this hereditary personal charac- 
teristic is as marked as ever. The late Georgfe 
Mackie, slater, who was when young a servant to 
William M'Combie at Lynturk, used to tell the 
present proprietor of Lynturk that his grandfather 
at Lynturk had the largest bones of any man he 
ever met with, and he had the reputation of being 
the strongest man of seven parishes. His son 
Thomas, the present proprietor's father, used to 
be the champion putter of the stone on the links 
of Aberdeen, among the young men of his time. 
His eldest son, "the stalwart laird" of Easter- 
skene, is 6 ft. 2 in., and very muscular ; and his 
brother, the late Mr J. B. M'Combie, was also 
6 ft. 2 in., and of massive build. Their cousin. 



90 The Family of M'Coinbie. 

the late Dr M'Combie of Tillyfour, was about the 
same height. James M'Combie of Farmton was 
a remarkably strong man, Charles M'Combie 
of Tillychetly, the father of the present tenant, 
was a powerfully built deep-chested man ; and 
many will remember the tall figure of the late 
editor of the ' Free Press.' In very few families 
has a personal characteristic been transmitted in 
so conspicuous a manner for such a length of 
time — over 500 years, dating fromWilliam, seventh 
chief of the M'Intoshes. 

William M'Combie, when a young man, was, 
like his great ancestor, distinguished for his 
personal prowess. Up to the beginning of the 
present century, and In many Instances well Into 
it, faction fights between the Inhabitants of dif- 
ferent parishes or districts were very common in 
Aberdeenshire, and, we believe, all over the coun- 
try. A remarkable fight of this kind took place 
when William M'Combie was a young man, on 
the occasion of a penny, or, as it was sometimes 
called, a " siller " wedding between a Leochel 
man and a Monymusk woman. On this occasion 



William M'Conibic, Lyutiirk. 91 

the fight that took place seems to have been 
between not only the guests present from the 
parishes of Leochel and Monymusk, but also 
those from several neighbouring parishes, the 
combatants ranging themselves with the bride- 
groom's party or the bride's, according to resi- 
dence west or east respectively of Cairn William_ 
William M'Combie was captain of the Leochel 
or west of Cairn William men, and a noted 
fighting man named Thomson from Mill of Hole, 
Midmar, captain of the Monymusk or east of 
Cairn William men. The fieht was a lone and 
stubborn one ; and a vivid idea of the vigour 
with which it was prosecuted, and the hard 
knocks going, is conveyed by the fact that Wil- 
liam M'Combie sent his youngest brother Donald 
to strip some neighbouring houses of their thatch, 
and bring the cabers to supply the necessary 
weapons of war for such of the Leochel men 
and their partisans as had the misfortune to 
break their own cudgels on the heads of their 
opponents. Victory is said to have rested ulti- 
mately with the bridegroom's party, in great mea- 



92 The Family of M'Corubie. 

sure owing to the prowess of their captain, who 
defeated the Midmar champion in single combat. 
On another occasion WilHam M'Combie had 
gone into a neighbouring parish to attend a ball, 
at which there was present a young man with 
whom he had had a quarrel, which had not been 
satisfactorily settled. As the night wore on he 
observed this young man consulting from time to 
time with several of his associates, and being sus- 
picious of mischief being plotted against himself, 
he kept a wary eye on their movements. At 
length observing some commotion in the other 
end of the ball-room from where he was standing, 
he noticed that his opponent and his associates 
were making their way towards him, in a line 
extending from side to side of the house, so as 
to prevent his escape, while the women and the 
more peaceably inclined of the dancers were 
making a hurried exit. But like the athletic 
miller of "Christ's Kirk on the Green" — 

" M'Comie was o' manly mak, 
To meet him was nae mows ; 
There durst nae tensome there him tak, 
Sae noited he ther pows " — 



vD 



William M'Comdie, Lynturk. 9 

for springing upwards he wrenched a caber 
from the roof above him, and using it Hke a 
two - handed sword, with terrific sweeps right 
and left he cleared the ball-room and escaped 
without injury. 

His strength and courage on occasions such 
as these, made him very popular amongst the 
young men of the surrounding district, a jDop- 
ularity that was like to have brought him into 
some trouble in 1745. The proprietor of Tonley 
at that time was an ardent supporter of Prince 
Charles, and became active in raising men in 
his behalf. Well knowing William M'Combie's 
personal prowess, and his popularity among the 
class of men he wanted to join the Prince's army, 
he was sure that if he got him to join, many 
would follow his example, while if he held back, 
many would probably do the same who would 
otherwise have joined. William M'Combie's 
father being a tenant of Tonley, the laird made 
sure of getting any of his tenant's sons he wanted, 
and as we have seen, did get Robert, but found 
William determined to have nothing to do with 



94 T^^^<i Family of M'Combie. 

him or Prince Charlie ; perhaps the memory of 
what his family had already suffered from taking 
a side in civil war had something to do with his 
refusal. Tonley, finding persuasion of no avail, 
determined to carry him off by force, thinking 
that if he were once away and amongst the 
others engaged in the enterprise, he would not 
like to turn back, Tonley's wife, however, se- 
cretly conveyed word to young M'Combie of 
the design of her husband, and when the latter 
went with a strong party to carry him off, he 
could not be found. It is said that William 
M'Combie looked upon Tonley, who had not 
been long in possession of the estate, as a noviis 
homo who was trying to acquire prestige for 
himself at the expense of others, and on that 
account was less inclined to join him. 

After entering on his tenancy at Lynturk, 
William M'Combie came to care less and less 
for distinguishing himself as the hero of such 
scenes as we have narrated, and a rather remark- 
able incident that happened to him while there 
had a permanent influence on his after - life. 



William M'Coinbic, Lyjihirk. 95 

About this time there were a considerable 
number of Dissenters in the district around Lyn- 
turk ; and before there was a manse for their 
pastor, the latter was for some time lodged 
with William M'Combie at Lynturk, although 
he had not at that time joined himself to the 
Dissenters. One day while William M'Combie 
was in one of his fields, he heard a voice pro- 
ceeding from behind a dike at some distance. 
Drawing near he became aware that it was his 
lodger engaged in prayer, and was greatly moved 
on finding that special entreaty was being made 
for his own spiritual welfare. The result was 
that soon after he joined himself to the Dis- 
senters, and became their leading member in 
the congregation at Bufile. This connection has 
been maintained by some of his sons and their 
descendants down to the present time in the U.P. 
congregation at Lynturk, which now represents 
the Buffle one. 

William M'Combie, after settling at Lynturk, 
married Marjory Wishart, daughter of Mr 
Wishart, merchant, Banchory, by whom he had 



g6 The Family of M'Combie. 

3. family of seven sons and three daughters. The 
sons were Alexander, Robert, William, John, 
Thomas, Peter, and Charles. William's great- 
grandfather, it will be remembered, had seven 
sons also, and as in their time the fortunes of 
the family were at their lowest, so now, from 
amongst the seven sons of his descendant, they 
were once more to be restored to even more than 
their former position. Four of the seven names, 
it will be observed, correspond with the names of 
four of the former family of seven sons. The 
names of William's seven sons, contracted in the 
usual Scottish fashion, formed a sort of anapestic 
rhythm, as follows: Same, Rob, Willie, Jock, Tam, 
Pate, aiid Charlie, — at one time very popular 
amongst scholars in the parishes of Tough and 
Leochel, and still remembered by many who 
never knew, or have forgotten the origin of it. 
Alexander, the eldest son, was a man of great 
size and strength of body, but lacked energy of 
mind, and was content to reside with his brother 
Robert at Upper Farm ton, where he lived and 
died unmarried. 



William M'Combie, Lynturk : His Family. 97 

Robert, the second son, was tenant of Upper 
and Lower Farmton, and married a daughter of 
Mr Milner, Mains of Corse. His eldest son, 
WilHam, became tenant in turn of Upper Farm- 
ton, and had four sons: WilHam, who died young; 
Peter and James, both deceased ; and Robert, the 
present tenant of Upper Farmton. Robert's 
second son, James, became tenant of Lower 
Farmton, and had a son, Robert, who died young ; 
and a daughter, married to John Hunter, till re- 
cently farmer in Lower Farmton, whose daughter 
is married to Dr M'Donald of Markinch, Fife ; 
Jessie, the sister of the present tenant of Upper 
Farmton, unmarried ; and Helen, married to Mr 
Duffus, whose son is now tenant of Lower Farm- 
ton, brings the family of William down to the 
present time, and leaves them tenants of Lower 
and Upper Farmton, as his father had been. 
The daughters of the first Robert of Farmton 
were Marjory, married to Mr Smith, Easter 
Tolmands, whose son is the present tenant there ; 
and Penelope, who had no family. 

William, the third son, became tenant of the 

G 



98 The Family of M'Combie. 

Netherton of Tough, where his great-grandfather 
Donald M'Combie first settled, and married a 
Miss Urquhart. Their son William was their 
successor in Netherton, where he died not many- 
years ago. Their son Charles became tenant 
of Tillychetly in the parish of Alford, now 
tenanted by his son Charles. Their daughter 
was married to her cousin William in Upper 
Farmton. 

John, the fourth son, held a situation in the 
Customs, Aberdeen, the family ultimately settling 
in London. 

Thomas, the fifth son, was born in 1762, and 
became a merchant in Aberdeen, of which he was 
a magistrate, being several times a bailie and 
member of the town council, and refused the 
honour of the provostship. His success in busi- 
ness enabled him to buy the estate of Jellybrands 
in the end of the last century, and the estates 
of Asleid and Easterskene in the beo^inninof of 
the present century. He was the first of the 
M'Combies north of the Grampians who suc- 
ceeded in regaining the position held by his 



Thomas M'Combie of Easter skene. 99 

ancestors in Perthshire and Forfarshire as land- 
owners. It is doubtless owing to this circum- 
stance in great part that his eldest son, the present 
proprietor of Easterskene and Lynturk, has been 
looked upon as the chief of the name, it being 
a well-known fact that the chieftainship of High- 
land clans did not always go by seniority of birth 
or direct succession. Thomas married Margaret 
Boyn, daughter of Mr Boyn of the Customs, 
Aberdeen, by whom he had a family of three 
sons and five daughters, of whom two died young. 
He died in 1824, and was succeeded in Easter- 
skene by his eldest son William, born in 1802, 
whose biography will be given later on. Mr 
James Boyn M'Combie, his second son, succeeded 
by destination to the estate of Jellybrands, and 
had a long and honourable career as an advocate 
in Aberdeen. He was much esteemed by his 
townsmen of Aberdeen, and but for his retiring 
disposition would have been brought more prom- 
inently into public life than was the case. As 
it was, he was Dean of Guild once ; and his pop- 
ularity for the provostship on one occasion was 



loo The Family of M'Combie. 

set forth in song in one of the newspapers, one 
verse of which was as follows : — 

"Oh wha's to be provost? wha? wha? 
Oh wha's to be provost ? wha ? 
Ye should tak Jellybrands, 
He's made to your hands; 
He's a dungeon of wit, and of law, law. 
He's a dungeon of wit, and of law." 

He married Miss Helen Davidson, daughter of 
Mr Davidson of Elmsfield, but had no family. 
He died in 1885. 

Thomas, the third son, inherited Asleid and 
Richmond Hill. He married Miss Catherine 
Arbuthnot, daughter of Mr Robert Arbuthnot 
of Mount Pleasant, and left an only daughter, 
Nicola, married to Mr Thomas Hutchison, who 
held a situation in the National Debt Office for 
many years : issue, two sons and two daughters. 

The daughters of Mr Thomas M'Combie of 
Easterskene were Barbara, married to Dr Alex- 
ander Ewing of Tartowie, a very successful 
physician and surgeon in Aberdeen, whose only 
surviving son is Major Alexander Ewing of the 
Army Pay Department, who married Juliana 



Peter M' Combie of Lyntztj^k. i o i 

Horatia Gatty, a well-known author. Thomas 
M'Combie's second daughter was Margaret, mar- 
ried to Mr Simpson Duguid of Cammachmore, 
whose son, Mr Peter Duguid of Cammachmore, 
advocate, married Miss Adamson, daughter of 
Mr Adamson, merchant and shipowner, Aber- 
deen : issue, two sons and a daughter. 

Isabella, the third daughter, was married to 
Mr David Blaikie, of Blaikie Brothers, whose 
only son John married a daughter of General 
Tweedie of East India Company's service : issue, 
one son and two daughters. The daughters we're : 
Margaret, married to Mr Patrick Keith, of the 
firm of Gladstone, Wylie, & Co. — issue, two sons 
and four daughters ; Helen, married first to Mr 
Hislop, Prestonpans, second to Major Wood, 91st 
Highlanders, third to Mr Williamson. 

Peter, sixth son of William M'Combie, Lynturk, 
like his brother Thomas, engaged successfully in 
business in Aberdeen, and early in the present 
century bought the barony of Lynturk, on which 
his father had been tenant so long, and where 
he and his brothers had been born and brought 



I02 The Family of M'Combie. 

up. He married Miss Murray, daughter of Rev. 
Mr Murray, minister at Buffle, but left no issue, 
his nephew Mr William M'Combie of Easter- 
skene succeeding to the property. 

Charles, the seventh son, became proprietor of 
Tillyfour, which, in the hands of his son, was to 
become a household word in the agricultural 
world. He married Miss Ann Black, daughter 
of a Buchan farmer of good position, and had a 
large family, several of whom died young. He 
was well known over the north of Scotland as a 
worthy, upright gentleman, and a successful cattle- 
dealer on a very extensive scale. He was suc- 
ceeded as proprietor of Tillyfour by his eldest 
son Charles, who, for the long period of forty- 
nine years, was minister of Lumphanan. He 
received the degree of LL.D. from the Univer- 
sity of Aberdeen, and few men have ever led a 
more unblemished life, or approached nearer to 
the ideal of a perfect Christian gentleman. He 
died at Lumphanan in 1874. He was married 
first to Miss Scott, daughter of the Rev. Robert 
Scott, minister of Glenbucket, by whom he had 



Charles M'Combie of Tillyfour : His Family. 103 

one son, deceased ; second, to Miss Eliza La- 
mond, daughter of Mr Lamond of Pitmurchie, 
by whom he had four sons and five daughters, of 
whom only three survive, — Thomas, in Cape 
Colony, unmarried ; Isabella, married to the 
Rev. Mr Young, Ellon ; and Rachel, un- 
married. 

William M'Combie, the second son, will be 
noticed further on. 

Thomas, the third son, who reached maturity, 
emigrated to Australia, where he had a pros- 
perous and honoured career, being elected a 
member of the Leg^islative Council of Victoria. 
He came home to settle in the old country, but 
did not long survive. He left a widow and two 
daughters, who are both married. The daughters 
of Charles of Tillyfour who reached maturity were 
Marjory, married to the Rev. Mr Laing, Aber- 
deen ; and Mary, married first to Mr P. C. Auld, 
the well-known artist — issue, three sons ; second, 
to the Rev. Mr Forbes, Oban. 

The daughters of William M'Combie in Lyn- 
turk, were Isobel, unmarried ; Helen, married to 



104 The Family of M'Coinbie. 

Mr Dunn, merchant, Aberdeen, who had no 
issue ; and Marjory, married to her cousin, Wil- 
Ham M'Combie in Cairnballoch, whose son Wil- 
liam had a very successful career as a journalist 
and author. It was under his management that 
the ' Aberdeen Free Press ' was started, which 
under his care and editings attained a distina;uished 
position amongst the provincial press, which it has 
fully maintained to the present time under his 
successors. He was also the author of ' Hours 
of Thought ' and several other well-known works, 
which met with a large share of public favour. 
He was a self-made man, having attained his 
success in life through his natural talents and 
perseverance. He left a large family of sons 
and daughters, who have also shown marked 
ability. 

We must now go back again to the time of 
William M'Combie, Lynturk, and briefly notice 
the other two sons of Robert M'Combie, Find- 
latrie, Donald and Alexander. Donald became 
farmer in Boghead, Tough, and left an only 
daughter, married to Mr Moses Copland, also 



Robert M'Combie, Findlatries, Yoimger Sons. 105 

farmer there, as were their descendants for some 
time. Alexander was a htstar at Bandley. His 
daughter, Grizel M'Combie, was married to Mr 
Alexander Garden, in Bandley, among their 
family being Mr George Garden, also in Bandley, 
and Colonel William Garden of the East India 
Company's service. Mr George Garden, Band- 
ley, had a son, the well-known Dr William 
Garden, in Balfluig, Alford, who had a son, Mr 
Farquharson Taylor Garden. 

The daughter of Robert M'Combie in Find- 
latrie, was married to Mr Reid, Cromore, Craig- 
myle ; issue, one son, Robert ; issue, a daughter. 



io6 



CHAPTER IV. 

WILLIAM M'COMBIE OF TILLYFOUR — HIS YOUTH — BECOMES TENANT 
OF TILLYFOUR, BRIDGEND, AND DORSELL — FOND OF SPORT — 
BEGINS HIS CAREER AS CATTLE-BREEDER, 1844 — ENTERTAINED 
TO PUBLIC DINNER BY THE GENTLEMEN OF THE NORTH-EAST 
OF SCOTLAND, 1862 — BY FARM-SERVANTS AND TRADESMEN OF 
THE VALE OF ALFORD — SECOND PRESIDENT OF THE SCOTTISH 
CHAMBER OF AGRICULTURE — VISITED BY HER MAJESTY THE 
QUEEN — PUBLISHES ' CATTLE AND CATTLE - BREEDERS ' — M.P. 
FOR WEST ABERDEENSHIRE — PURCHASES TILLYFOUR — CROWN- 
ING SUCCESS OF 1878 — DEATH — PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS. 

^1 riLLIAM M'COMBIE of Tillyfour. the 
second son of Charles M'Combie of 
Tillyfour, was born in 1805. As it was his 
father's wish that he, with his elder brother, 
should enter one of the learned professions, he 
was sent to Aberdeen University ; but the result 
of two sessions at Marischal College was so un- 
satisfactory that his father took him home and 
set him to work a pair of horses. In after-life, 



William M'Combie of Tilly fou7\ 107 

he often reg^retted his ncQflect of education in 
early life ; and the higher the position he attained, 
the more he felt the disadvantages of that neo^lect. 
The only good result that came of this neglect 
was the benefit acquired by practical experience 
of a ploughman's work. This he held to be in- 
valuable for every one who intended to follow 
agriculture in its widest sense as a profession. 
His ideal of the training necessary for a farmer's 
life was, first, a good education, especially in all 
that was likely to be of practical use afterwards, 
laying particular stress on English grammar and 
composition ; second, a practical training in all 
kinds of farm-work — not a turn now and then as 
a pastime, but filling the place of a regular work- 
man for a stipulated time. After that preliminary 
training, a man was fit to enter on the superinten- 
dence of work, and ready to acquire experience 
in buying and selling stock, and to exercise his 
judgment generally on everything pertaining to 
practical farming. 

After two years' probation as a ploughman, the 
future "Grazier King" began some dealing on 



io8 The Family of M'Combie. 

his own account, some details of which are given 
in his * Cattle and Cattle- Breeders.' Previous to 
his father's death, he became tenant of the home 
farm of Tillyfour, including Tillyreach and Nether- 
hill — a tenancy continued during the lifetime of 
his brother, who had been settled as minister of 
Lumphanan some time before his father's death. 
Some years afterwards he became tenant of Bridg- 
end, on the estate of Lynturk — a tenancy only 
broken by his own death. Still later he became 
tenant of Dorsell in Alford, which he held until 
he purchased Tillyfour. From about 1830 he 
was free to follow his own bent in regard to 
cattle, yet there was no systematic attempt at 
cattle - breeding until some fourteen or fifteen 
years afterwards. Until this later period, he 
was rather of a sporting turn, and was a good 
shot and a capital horseman. His shooting he 
continued occasionally up to about 1856. As 
a rider he performed many astonishing feats, 
being always well mounted, and covering extra- 
ordinary distances to and from markets on one 
horse in one day. To the last he liked to see 



William M'Co7nbie of Tilly four. 109 

a good fast horse, and had many horses in his 
time well known for their high powers of speed 
and endurance. He also engaged in coursing at 
one time, and once won and once divided the 
all-aged stakes at Turriff with Amy, whose por- 
trait held a conspicuous place in the dining-room 
at Tillyfour. During this period, 1830-45, with 
the exception of an odd beast now and then sent 
to Alford shows, his breeding stock was com- 
posed of ordinary country cows kept for dairy 
purposes, the lean cattle trade being still his main 
dependence; and not until 1844 or 1845 did he 
enter on the main work of his life — the breeding 
and improvement of the polled Aberdeen-Angus 
breed of cattle. From that time onwards he de- 
voted the best energies of his life to that object. 
With good abilities and good opportunities, a 
man who determines to follow out a certain aim 
in life is sure of success if granted time ; and 
William M'Combie had rare abilities, good oppor- 
tunities, and had over thirty years of uninter- 
rupted application of his abilities and oppor- 
tunities. The result was a success altogether 



I lo The Family of M'Combie. 

without parallel. When he commenced the 
breeding of Aberdeen-Angus polled cattle, the 
breed had not long been shown as a distinct 
class at shows. At that time there were at least 
three breeds of cattle — shorthorns in England 
and Scotland, and Herefords and Devons in Eng- 
land — whose supporters would have derided the 
idea of serious rivalry from the Scottish black 
polls of Aberdeen and Angus, while several other 
breeds were at least on an equality with them. 
Yet in little over twenty years from starting in 
earnest to improve the breed, William M'Combie 
both bred and fed a pure polled Aberdeen-Angus 
ox that put completely into the shade the best 
shorthorns, Herefords, and Devons that Great 
Britain could produce ; and twelve years later, in 
a competition open to the world, he took first 
place with the same breed, beating every other 
breed of note either at home or abroad. 

From the time he entered on this work, it be- 
came the main business of his life. He was 
never at rest long from Tillyfour. When neces- 
sarily absent on business, he always set out for 



William M'Combie of Tilly four. 1 1 1 

home immediately it was finished. Every day 
of his life, if at home and well, he made his 
rounds of his byres or his fields, and saw every 
beast ; and no eye was quicker in detecting any- 
thing amiss with any of them. Such unremitting 
ardour soon brought success, show-yard honours 
came thick and fast, and what is more, continued. 
The agricultural world began to realise that this 
was no common man, making lucky hits now and 
again, but a man with a genius for what he had 
taken in hand — a man making history in his own 
particular walk of life. 

In recognition, therefore, of the work he was 
accomplishing, he was entertained to dinner at 
Aberdeen in 1862 by about four hundred of the 
leading noblemen and gentlemen in the north of 
Scotland connected with agriculture, under the 
presidency of the late Marquis of Huntly. On 
that occasion he, in a few words, put before the 
public what had been his aim in life, and to what 
extent he had attained it. " I was led," said he, 
"by a father whose memory I revere, to believe 
that our polled cattle are peculiarly suited to our 



112 The Family of M'Combie. 

soil and climate, and that if their properties were 
rightly brought out, they would equal, if not sur- 
pass, any other breed as to weight, symmetry, 
and quality of flesh. I resolved that I would 
endeavour to improve our native breed. I ex- 
erted all my energies to accomplish this purpose. 
For many years I was an unsuccessful exhibitor 
at the Smithfield Club. I went to Baker Street. 
I minutely examined the prize-winners. I di- 
rected my attention especially to the points in 
which the English were superior to the Scottish 
cattle. I came to the conclusion that I had been 
beaten, not because our Scottish breed was in- 
ferior to the English breeds,^ — I saw that I had 
been beaten because I was imperfectly acquainted 
with the points of the animals most appreciated 
in Baker Street. I doubled, I tripled, I quad- 
rupled the cake allowed to my feeding stock. I 
attained the object of my ambition. English 
agriculturists always maintained that a Scot would 
never take a first place in a competition with a 
shorthorn, a Hereford, or a Devon. I have 
given them reason for changing their opinion." 



WiUiam Al'Combi'e of Tilly four. 1 13 

Not long after this he was entertained to dinner 
by the farm-servants and tradesmen of the vale 
of Alford, an honour which he always looked 
back upon with especial pride. In 1865, when 
the rinderpest was paralysing stock-breeders by 
its ravages, the farmers of Aberdeenshire, under 
the leadership of William M'Combie, showed the 
agricultural world how to grapple successfully 
with this evil, by the stamping-out process they 
adopted. 

In 1866 he succeeded Mr George Hope, Fen- 
tonbarns, as second president of the Scottish 
Chamber of Agriculture. In December of the 
following year his fortunes as a combined feeder 
and breeder of the polled Aberdeen-Angus cattle 
reached a climax, when Black Prince, a pure 
Aberdeen-Angus ox bred and fed by himself, 
was, Eclipse-like, "first, and the rest nowhere," 
both at Birmingham and London. So conspic- 
uous was he by his superiority over all the most 
noted English breeds, that her Majesty the Queen 
expressed a wish to see so notable an animal. 
He was accordingly sent by Windsor on his way 

\\ 



114 The Family of M'Conibie. 

from Birmingham to London. Her Majesty was 
greatly struck with the magnificent black, and 
Mr M'Combie was so proud of the honour done 
to himself through his champion, that, after 
Smithfield, he offered the Black Prince as a eift 
to his sovereign. Her Majesty of course de- 
clined so large a present, but graciously accepted 
the baron of beef for her Christmas dinner. The 
after-result of this was, that Mr M'Combie had 
the high honour of receiving her Majesty at 
Tillyfour in 1868. On this occasion some 400 
polled cattle were spread over the fields sur- 
rounding the mansion - house of Tillyfour, in 
which her Majesty took tea before setting out 
on her return to Balmoral. 

In 1867 'Cattle and Cattle-Breeders,' by Wil- 
liam M'Combie, Tillyfour, was published. Few 
men seemed more unlikely at one time to have 
turned author than he was. ' Cattle and Cattle- 
Breeders ' was, however, a success, Qroino^ throuo-h 

■'00 o 

three editions in a few years. It contained much 
valuable matter on the breeding, feeding, and 
care of cattle, and some racy reminiscences of 



Williain APCombie of Tilly fottr. 1 15 

the great cattle-dealers in the beginning of the 
century. The style is plain and unaffected, being 
just such as a man adopts who, without any pre- 
tensions to literary culture, has something to say, 
and says it in a simple, straightforward manner. 
For its raison cPelre the book supplied a good 
deal of information, not before published, on 
matters of moment to an important part of the 
community, which is more than can be said of 
most books. 

Although now over sixty years of age, and 
held in honour by all classes, from sovereign to 
peasant, William M'Combie was yet looking for- 
ward, in 1867, to still further honours in a new 
field. When it became certain that the county 
of Aberdeen was to have an additional member 
of Parliament as soon as the Reform Bill of 1867 
became law, he diligently canvassed West Aber- 
deenshire, and at the general election in 1868 he 
was returned unopposed, being the first tenant- 
farmer returned for a Scottish constituency, and 
the second returned to the House of Commons. 
As a member of Parliament, he had the ear of 



J 1 6 The Family of M'Combie. 

the House of Commons whenever he spoke on 
agricultural questions, and the unwavering confi- 
dence of his constituents. At the general elec- 
tion in 1874 he was opposed by Mr Edward 
Ross, more celebrated as a rifle-shot than as a 
politician. The result was the most decisive 
victory obtained by any member returned at that 
election, the figures being — M'Combie, 2401; 
Ross, 326. 

There can be no doubt, however, but that his 
parliamentary duties, coupled with his large farm- 
ing operations, and the management of his famous 
breeding - herd, put too great a strain on his 
powers. When, therefore, after his brother's 
death, he, in 1875, purchased Tillyfour, it was 
not to be wondered at that he gave up Dorsell, 
the most outlying of his farms from Tillyfour, in 
that year, and resigned his parliamentary duties 
in 1876. On the occasion of his retirement, a 
large sum of money was subscribed for, and in- 
vested so as to provide the "M'Combie Prize" 
annually at Aberdeen for the best specimen of 
the breed with which his name was so indissol- 



William M'Couibic of Tilly four. 1 1 7 

ubly connected. Thus honoured, and Hghtened 
of part of his work, he settled down more closely 
to his home affairs, and projected many improve- 
ments on the home farm and estate of Tillyfour, 
several of which he saw effected. But he was 
failing fast in bodily strength. Those long reck- 
less rides, at all times and in all weathers, when 
in the heyday of his youth and strength, were 
having their effect now. But before the end he 
was to have one crowning honour and glory for 
the breed he had done so much for. In 1878, at 
the great Exhibition at Paris, he won the two 
great prizes of the show against all the most 
famous breeds from every country of Europe, his 
group of polled Aberdeen -Angus cattle being 
first both for breeding and feeding qualities. It 
was a fitting close to a g-lorious career. Prac- 
tically there was no further honour possible of 
acquirement for the Tillyfour herd. After this 
he was not long spared, and died, full, of years 
and honours, at Tillyfour on February i, 1880. 

In this brief summary of the chief events of 
the life of William M'Combie of Tillyfour, but 



ii8 The Family of APCombic. 

little idea can be formed of the man as he lived 
and moved at home and abroad. He was con- 
siderably above the average height, his personal 
appearance being more indicative of strength and 
vigour than of elegance or refinement. His head 
was massive, with a commanding forehead ; the 
rest of his features plain. The disposition which 
led him to neglect his education when young, also 
led him to be less refined in speech and manners 
than most people would have expected from the 
high position he attained latterly in social life. 
But his strength of intellect and force of will grave 
a natural dignity to him, which did much to over- 
shadow these defects, and no one could see him 
without recognising a man born with power to 
overcome obstacles, and to make a name for him- 
self. His neglect of education had also much to 
do with his defects as an orator ; yet here, again, 
his force of character commanded attention, and 
throufjh the haltino- sentences his meaninof would 
come out clear and forcible in a few terse, homely 
words. Some of his unprepared speeches, had 
they been printed verbatim, would have seemed 



William M'Covibic of Tilly four. 1 19 

not much clearer than Cromwell's, yet, like him, 
ideas pregnant with meaning could be seen strug- 
gling through the seeming confusion and repe- 
tition. 

As an agriculturist in the strict meaninof of 
the word, he stood high. He reclaimed much 
on Tillyfour from heather and bog, pointing 
out with satisfaction fields great part of which 
he had himself ploughed for the first time. He 
dealt liberally in manure, employed only the 
best seeds, and took many prizes both for grain 
and root crops. He was very particular as to 
having good workmen, and it may safely be 
said that better ploughed and drilled fields, or 
better - built stacks, were not to be seen any- 
where than on Tillyfour, Bridgend, and Dorsell. 
He was an excellent judge of men, and gener- 
ally had a good idea of the worth of a man 
before he was long in his service. He had 
also a penchant for strong men, and was very 
proud of any of his servants who had won prizes 
at athletic sports, never failing to point them 
out to visitors, with a short history of their ex- 



I 20 The Faimly of M'Coinbic. 

ploits. For a long period his three farms were 
training-schools for young men who wanted to 
push themselves on in the agricultural world, 
and he was ever willing to forward merit by 
generous recommendation. In the latter part 
of his life he paid strict attention to the duties 
of religion, holding family worship nightly with 
his immediate household, and on Sunday the 
whole of the servants at Tillyfour were as- 
sembled for this purpose. He was by no means 
ascetic, however, had a keen relish for humour, 
and enjoyed a hearty laugh. His outward de- 
meanour was somewhat brusque and seemingly 
harsh at times, but those who knew him inti- 
mately, knew that there was much depth of kindly 
feeling beneath it. His success in life was 
entirely due to his own conspicuous abilities, 
and untiring persistence in the course he had 
entered on. He was a ** powerful, pushing, and 
prosperous M'Combie," a veritable M'Comie Mor 
in his own line, a benefactor of his time whose 
name and fame will lons" survive. 



I2T 



CHAPTER V. 

WILLIAM M'COMBIE OF EASTERSKENE AND LYNTURK — HIS EARLY 
YEARS — SUCCEEDS TO EASTERSKENE, 1824 — INVESTIGATIONS 
REGARDING THE HISTORY OF HIS ANCESTORS — VISITS TO PERTH- 
SHIRE AND FORFARSHIRE — MARRIAGE, 1831 — SUCCEEDS TO 
LYNTURK — DEATH OF HIS WIFE, 1835 — AND OF HIS SON, 1841 — 
EASTERSKENE — LYNTURK — EASTERSKENE HERD — MR M'COMBIE 
AS A FARMER AND LANDLORD — PUBLIC LIFE — PERSONAL CHAR- 
ACTERISTICS — CONCLUSION. 

TiriLLIAM M'COMBIE, eldest son of 
Thomas M'Combie of Easterskene, and 
Margaret, daughter of James Boyn, Esq., 
Aberdeen, was born in Aberdeen In 1802, 
and was made a free infant burgess of the 
city in the same year, his father being a 
magistrate at that time, and magistrates when 
in office being entitled to have that privi- 
lege conferred on their sons born during their 
magistracy. Vv^hen a boy of about five or six 



1 2 2 The Family of M' Coinbie. 

years of age, he remembers being along with 
his parents on a visit to his grandfather at Lyn- 
turk, and seeing and talking to him not long 
before he died, which was in i8o8. This was 
in the old house of Lynturk, already mentioned 
as having been built by his grandfather. When 
we remember that his grandfather was eighty- 
eight years of age when he died, and was there- 
fore born only six years after the death of his 
grandfather Donald, who did not live to be a 
very old man, we see that very little is wanting 
from having the history of the stirring events 
that took place in the family of the M'Combies 
in Glenisla and Glenshee between i66o and 
1673, told by a contemporary, and in several 
cases an eyewitness of them, to his grandson, 
who in turn could have told them to his grand- 
son, who is still alive. Or in other words, only 
a few years were wanting, from the present head 
of the family being the second who could have 
received the history of the raid of Crandart in 
1669 by direct oral communication from one 
who was witness of and shared in the conster- 



William M'Coinbic of Eastcrskcnc. 123 

nation and wrath in the old Ha' of Crandart 
amongst the family of M'Comie Mor, when 
the dastardly outrage became known on that 
eventful New Year's morning. As it is, it is 
very remarkable that Mr M'Combie is but the 
third to whom the history of events that took 
place over two hundred years ago may be said 
to have come, by direct oral tradition, from an 
eyewitness and participator in them.^ 

Mr M'Combie was educated in Aberdeen, and 
graduated at Marischal College in 1820. In 1822 
he was one of a number of young gentlemen 
from Aberdeenshire who went to Edinburgh to 
participate in the rejoicings consequent on the 
visit of George IV. to Scotland. In 1824, on 
the death of his father, he succeeded to the 
estate of Easterskene, and commenced the series 
of improvements which, continued up to the 
present time, has wrought a change hard to 
realise by those unacquainted with the aspect 
of the estate in 1824. But while busy with 
improvements at Easterskene, there had arisen 

1 Appendix, Note S. 



124 The Family of M'Combie. 

in his mind before this time an earnest desire 
to investigate, and if possible throw additional 
light on, the history of his ancestors in Perth- 
shire and Forfarshire. Up to the time when 
Mr M'Combie began his researches, the family 
in Aberdeenshire had litde but traditionary re- 
miniscences of the history of their ancestors. 
The leading facts, such as their being landed 
proprietors in Glenshee in Perthshire, and latterly 
in Glenisla in Forfarshire, and of the feud with 
the Farquharsons, and the breaking up of the 
family soon afterwards, were well known to all 
Donald's descendants in Aberdeenshire. Mr 
M'Combie remembers hearing the particulars 
of the fight at the Moss of Forfar from his 
father and uncles, long before he knew that all 
the details were preserved in the Justiciary 
Records. His grandfather William used to deal 
to a considerable extent in cattle — in fact, was 
paving the way for his still more renowned son 
Charles, and grandson William, of Tillyfour, 
in the same line. His business in that line 
occasionally took him to Forfarshire, where 



William Al'Coiiihic of Eastcrskcne. 125 

he met and in time became acquainted with 
the Earl of Airhe of that time. Lord AirHe 
was greatly interested when he became aware 
that this Aberdeenshire farmer was a great- 
grandson of the famous M'Comie Mor who had 
obtained the wadset of the barony of Porter 
from the Earl of Airlie in the time of Charles I., 
and had required two Acts of the Scottish Par- 
liament to make him forego his claim of free 
forestry in Canlochan. So interested was he 
and pleased with William M'Combie— who, like 
so many of the descendants of M'Comie Mor, 
carried proof of the genuineness of his descent 
in his own massive frame — that he more than 
once intimated the pleasure it would give him 
to see the M'Combies once more settled in Glen- 
isla. All these reminiscences were eagerly 
gathered and treasured up in the mind of the 
young laird of Easterskene. And now, after 
long years of push and progress by Donald's 
descendants, there was at length one who had 
at once both the time, and not only the incli- 
nation but an enthusiastic desire, to trace back 



126 The Family of Al'Combie. 

the history of his ancestors. In 1827 he 
determined to visit Glenisla and Glenshee. 
Mr Martin, at that time minister of Glen- 
isla, knowing Mr M'Combie to be a descendant 
of M'Comie Mor, had previously made his 
acquaintance, and on Mr Martin's invitation, 
Glenisla manse was made his headquarters. 
The two weeks he then spent in wandering 
over the upper end of Glenisla and of Glen- 
shee, he has always looked back upon as 
amongst the most interesting and pleasant of 
his life. Twice since then he has gone over 
the same ground. In these later expeditions 
he was accompanied at one time by his brother, 
Mr J. B. M'Combie — at another time by Dr 
Taylor, minister of Leochel-Cushnie, who was 
well skilled in antiquarian lore. At the time 
of Dr Taylor's visit, he made out with consider- 
able certainty the ground -plan of the mansion- 
house of Crandart erected by John M'Comie 
in 1660. On each occasion Mr M'Combie found 
much to interest him, and met with local eentle- 
men willing to help him in his researches. The 



William Jll' Coinbie of E aster skcnc. 1 2 7 

late Mr William Shaw, Finnegand, entered 
with great zeal into the matter, and to him Mr 
M'Combie was indebted for many interesting 
facts in the history of the M'Combies, both his- 
torical and traditional. The late Mr Thomas 
Shaw, Little Forter, Glenisla, on Mr M'Combie's 
first visit was very friendly and attentive, and 
by him Mr M'Combie was led to study the 
etymology of the Gaelic names of places, with 
the result that more than one Gaelic scholar 
has been with difficulty persuaded that Mr 
M'Combie could not speak Gaelic. It is rather 
strange, too, that Mr Shaw, his first preceptor 
in the etymology of Gaelic names, was also un- 
able to speak Gaelic. Mr J. B. M'Combie was 
from the first an active assistant in the search for 
documentary evidence regarding the history of 
the family, and little by little much that hitherto 
rested on tradition in the family was established 
as historically correct. The record of the great 
double trial M'Comies v. Farquharsons, Far- 
quharsons v. M'Comies, was a grand find; so 
also were the two Acts and Decreets of the Scot- 



1 28 The Family of M'Combie. 

tish Parliament settling the dispute between 
Lord Airlie and John M'Comie as to Canlochan. 
The search after authentic records of his an- 
cestors was no transient pursuit, but has con- 
tinued throufyhout a lone life. 

In 1 83 1, Mr M'Combie married Katherine 
Ann Buchan Forbes, eldest daughter of Major 
Alexander Forbes of Inverernan. This lady was 
a Forbes by descent on both sides, her mother 
being a daughter of Duncan Forbes Mitchell, Esq. 
of Thainston, second son of Sir Arthur Forbes 
of Craigievar. In 1832 a son, Thomas, was born. 
In the same year was built the present handsome 
mansion-house of Easterskene, and a short time 
previously Mr M'Combie had succeeded to the 
barony of Lynturk, on the death of his uncle 
Peter. For about three years, therefore, from 
the birth of his son, it seemed as if nothing 
was wanting to his happiness and good fortune. 
But such remarkable felicity rarely lasts long in 
this world. In 1835 the first blow came In the 
death of his wife, and six years later the death of 
his son seemed for a time to have left life almost 



William JM'Coinbic of Easterskene. 129 

a blank. Both wife and son lie side by side in 
the churchyard of Skene, and the following epi- 
taph closed for ever in this world the record of 
two lives, in whom for a season were placed 
the brightest hopes: "Within this enclosure are 
interred the remains of Katherine Ann Buchan 
Forbes, the wife of William M'Combie of Easter- 
skene and Lynturk, and daughter of Major Alex- 
ander Forbes of Inverernan, who died on the 
1 6th day of April 1835, in the 26th year of her 
age ; and of their son Thomas, who died on the 
15th of September 1841, in the loth year of his 
age." 

From this period Mr M'Combie gave his time 
almost exclusively to the management of his 
estates, which we now proceed to describe. The 
estate of Easterskene lies wholly in the parish 
of Skene, the mansion-house being about 9 miles 
west from Aberdeen, about 4^ miles south of 
the Don, and about 6 miles north of the Dee. 
The length from north to south is fully 2 miles, 
the breadth from east to west about i ^ mile. 
The estate is bounded on the north by the lands 

I 



130 The Family of M'Combie. 

of Skene and KInellar, on the east by the lands 
of Achronie and Kirkville, on the south by the 
lands of Cairnie and Skene, and on the west by 
the lands of Skene. The elevation ranges from 
under 300 ft. above sea-level on the north side 
of the Loch of Skene, to a little over 700 ft. on 
the summit of the wooded height south-east from 
Drumstone. When Mr M'Combie succeeded to 
the estate, much of the low ground was an unre- 
claimed swamp, while much of the higher ground 
was a bare heather moor. Now it may safely 
be said that there is not a square yard of waste 
ground on the estate, all being either in a course 
of rotation, in pasture, or under wood. The farms 
from south to north, all with orood houses and 
well fenced, are Lochhead, South Bank, Howe- 
moss, Millbuie, North Bank, and Drumstone. 
The main road from Aberdeen to Alford and 
Strathdon passes through the south end of the 
estate. From this a branch goes north to Kirk- 
ton of Skene, from near which the east avenue 
leads to the mar^sion-house. From Kirkton of 
Skene a road joins the main road near Lochhead. 



William M'Combie of Easterskene. 1 3 1 

From the main road again, another strikes north 
by the Free church and school, and north-west 
by South Bank and Line of Skene. From this 
again, a Httle above the school, a branch goes 
past the home farm of Easterskene, below which 
the west avenue strikes off to the mansion-house. 
This road is continued past the home farm by 
Howemoss, Millbuie, and Drumstone, being a 
thoroughfare to K into re and the right bank of 
the Don eastwards from Kintore. Drumstone, 
on the high ground on the north of the estate, 
receives its name from the stone on which the 
laird of Drum rested on his way to the hard- 
fought battle of Harlaw in 141 1, and took a last 
look backwards to the lands of Drum, with a 
presentiment that he would never see them again. 
The stone forms a sort of natural chair, and has 
always been an object of interest to Mr M'Combie, 
who many years ago had " Drum's Stone, Har- 
law, 141 1," inscribed on it. Besides the farms 
mentioned, most of the village of Kirkton of 
Skene is on Easterskene, with various tradesmen, 
and a blacksmith's shop at Millbuie, and a saw- 



132 The Family of M'Conibie. 

mill at Lochhead. Reserving notice of the home 
farm in the meantime, we come to the mansion- 
house, a handsome building in the Elizabethan 
style, surrounded by beautiful and well - kept 
policies, the whole having a southern aspect. 
The situation is delightful, the view truly mag- 
nificent. To the south and west the Loch of 
Skene, with the woods of Skene and Dunecht, 
. make a fine foreground, backed by the Hill of 
Fare. Farther west, the Forest of Corennie, and 
Bennachaille overlooking Tillyfour, and beyond 
these the mountains overlooking Cromar, con- 
spicuous amongst them the massive crown of 
Morven ; then to the south the Grampians, beyond 
the valley of the Dee, with Mount Battock and 
Clochnaben, and the lesser heights sloping gradu- 
ally to the North Sea, — form a prospect of which 
the eye never wearies. As one emerges from the 
woods surrounding the lawn on the west, the 
Mither Tap of Bennachie, with the wooded 
heights of Cairn William, are seen to the north- 
west shutting in the vale of Alford. As you 
ascend to Drumstone the prospect on all sides 



William M'Combie of Easterskene. 



JO 



enlarges, until on the summit you command the 
rich valley of the Don stretching away by Kin- 
tore and Inverurie, beyond which lies the district 
of the Garioch. From here, too, Callievar, beyond 
the vale of Alford, the Tap o' Noth, the Buck of 
the Cabrach, and in the dim distance Ben Avon, 
are seen. To the east and north-east the view 
is circumscribed by the hills of Brimmond, Elrick, 
and Tyrebagger ; but even with this slight draw- 
back the panorama is one of rare beauty and 
grandeur. 

The barony of Lynturk is about 24 miles by 
road west of Aberdeen. On the north side 
it is within 3 miles of the river Don in a direct 
line, on the south side it is within 7 miles of 
the Dee. The length from east to west is fully 
2^^ miles, the breadth from north to south is over 
I mile. The surrounding estates are : on the 
north, Carnaveron, Tillychetly, and Tonley ; on 
the east, Tonley ; on the south, Tillyfour ; and on 
the west, Craigievar, the estates of Craigievar and 
Lynturk forming the whole of the parish of 
Leochel before its union with Cushnie. The 



134 ^-^^^ Family of M'Coiubic. 

area of both estates is about 2200 acres, all of 
which may be said to be either arable or under 
wood, except a small piece of moss. The 
elevation varies from under 600 ft. above sea- 
level on the west along the Leochel burn, to 
slightly over 1000 ft. on the top of the wooded 
height south of the mansion-house. A fringe 
of unreclaimed marshy ground at one time al- 
most surrounded the estate of Lynturk ; but now, 
except the small piece of moss between Upper 
Farmton and Little Lynturk, the whole is arable 
or under wood. The farms are : on the north. 
Lower and Upper Farmton, and two at Little 
Lynturk ; on the west, the farm and inn of Mug- 
garthaugh, and Bridgend ; on the south, Clay- 
mill, Drumdaig, and Buffle ; on the east, the 
home farm of Lynturk. About half a mile south 
of the mansion-house is the school of Lynturk, 
endowed by the late Peter M'Combie, Esq. of 
Lynturk. The handsome U.P. church and 
manse, between Little Lynturk and Muggart- 
haugh, was built in place of the old church at 



]]HUaiu I\I'Coinbic of Eastcrskene. 135 

Buffle, where a Secession congregation existed 
in the time of WilHam M'Combie, the grandfather 
of the present proprietor. There is also a black- 
smith's shop and joiner's shop east and west of 
Little Lynturk. The estate of Lynturk is sur- 
rounded by a good road, with branches where 
necessary to the various farms. The greater part 
of Lynturk is fine strong land, some of the land 
on Bridgend so long farmed by Mr M'Combie 
of Tillyfour being of exceptional fertility, Mr 
M'Combie having reaped 13 quarters of oats 
per acre one year off the southern slope of the 
field on which the stackyard stands. There is 
much fine wood on Lynturk, and a sawmill has 
long existed in connection with the home farm. 
A good deal of the home farm is in pasture, 
there being an annual let of parks. As men- 
tioned before, besides the modern mansion-house 
— a plain two-storey building set in an amphithe- 
atre of woods, plantations, and groups of fine 
old trees — there is the house of Mr M'Combie's 
grandfather, and another built on the site of the 



136 The Family of M'Combie. 

old castle of Lynturk. On the east side of 
Lynturk, on the burn that, rising on the extreme 
cast of Tillyfour, flows between Lynturk and 
Tonley for some distance, is a small but pictur- 
esque cascade known as the Linn of Lynturk, 
in connection with which there is a traditionary 
Lady of the Linn/ Although there are many 
fine views from various points on Lynturk, there 
is nothing to compare with those from Easter- 
skene, the wall of mountains encircling the vale of 
Alford bounding the view almost on every side. 

Returning to the home farm of Easterskene, 
we find that here, as at Lynturk, part of it is kept 
in grass. Several of these grass parks are let 
annually, and have an unrivalled reputation for 
the quality of the pasture. One field which has 
been over forty years in grass, situated in the 
corner between the roads leading south and west 
from the Kirkton of Skene, has been let at the 
extraordinary rent of £c) per acre, which is be- 
lieved to be the hiorhest rent ever oriven in this 
country for a grazing not in the immediate vicinity 

^ Appendix. Note T. 



William M'Combie of Easter skene. 137 

of a town, if indeed it has been equalled under 
any circumstances. 

The home farm of Easterskene has for between 
forty and fifty years been the home of a herd of 
polled Aberdeen-Angus cattle, second in fame 
in Aberdeenshire only to that of Tillyfour. The 
Easterskene herd was founded in the beginning of 
the forties, a prize-winner at the Highland Society's 
show having been bred at Easterskene as early 
as 1845. Since then animals from the herd have 
gained the highest honours, time after time, at the 
Highland Society, the Royal Northern, and local 
Agricultural Societies' shows. The Easterskene 
herd has been conspicuous especially for the 
excellence of its bulls — Alaster the Second hav- 
ing beat the celebrated Fox Maule from Port- 
lethen, that Mr M'Combie of Tillyfour declared 
to be " one of the best polled bulls ever ex- 
hibited." Caledonian H. and Taurus were High- 
land Society winners ; and Paris H., after winning 
at the Royal Northern and Highland Society 
shows, was sold before he was two years old for 
150 guineas. Mr M'Combie sent winners in the 



138 The Family of APCombie. 

heifer classes at Highland Society's shows in 
1869, 1873, and 1875, while Mr M'Combie of 
Tillyfour bought many prize-winners from Easter- 
skene. So recently as December 1886, Mr 
M'Combie, with his Black Beauty of Easter- 
skene heifer, bred and fed at Easterskene, 
obtained first prize in the polled cow or heifer 
class, and prize as Champion Scot both at Bir- 
mingham and London. The herd is as strong 
and flourishing as ever at the present time, and is 
the oldest established herd of note in Aberdeen- 
shire. 

In the manaofement of the home farm of Easter- 
skene, Mr M'Combie, in both farming and breed- 
ing, has shown an example that ought to be fol- 
lowed by every landed proprietor who has the 
welfare of his tenantry, and in a wider sense the 
good of his country, at heart. There is no at- 
tempt at a style of farming beyond a tenant's 
means, which can only discourage men of moderate 
capital. The bogs and heathery moors have been 
reclaimed by degrees at moderate cost. The fine 
crops grown at Easterskene are raised by means 



William M'Combie of Easterskcnc. 139 

and processes within the reach of every intelligent 
enterprising farmer. The fine breeding herd has 
not been got together by buying right and left 
fancy animals at fancy prices, a method resorted 
to by many landed proprietors, who form herds 
not by their intelligence and skill as breeders, 
but by the length of their purses, a system gen- 
erally beyond a tenant's means. The Easter- 
skene herd has been formed from what was ordi- 
nary materials at first, by careful management, 
with the result that although fancy animals at 
fancy prices have gone out from Easterskene, few, 
if any, have been brought in ; the method in 
this case being within a tenant's means, and the 
result of a nature to encourage a tenant to follow 
the method. 

All this has been done under Mr M'Combie's 
own immediate superintendence. He knows, in 
much the same way as his tenants do, the trials, 
difficulties, fears, hopes, and rewards of the far- 
mer's life. Farmingr with him has not been taken 
up in a spirit of dilettanteisfn, but has been an 
earnest practical pursuit. 



140 The Family of M'Combie. 

If, as a practical farmer, Mr M'Combie has 
been an example to other landlords, much more 
has he been an example to be followed as a land- 
lord. No lawyer factor, a class who have been 
and are one of the greatest evils in the agricul- 
tural life of this country, not even a land-steward, 
comes between Mr M'Combie and his tenants. 
In the rare cases where a tenant and he cannot 
agree as to the value of a farm, an impartial 
arbiter is called in. The result is that only in 
very exceptional cases is there a change of tenant 
other than by succession. You look in vain in 
the newspapers for "eligible farms to let on the 
estates of Easterskene and Lynturk." Where, as 
in the case of Mr M'Combie, a landlord lives on 
his estates in the midst of his tenants, and knows 
the life of every tenant, as every tenant knows 
the life of his landlord, a feeling of mutual trust 
and friendship springs up, in which the unity of 
interest of landlord and tenant becomes a living 
present fact, at work all the year round, and not 
a remote abstract idea to be brought forth once a- 
year in after-dinner speeches at agricultural shows, 



Williavi ]\rConibic of Easterskcne. 141 

and now and again at election times, or once or 
twice in a lifetime at marriage or coming-of-age 
rejoicings. 

Country people see now and again, often at long 
intervals, a flag displayed from the top of the 
country seat of the laird, by which it is under- 
stood that he is there in person. This has for 
long been a " sign of the times," upon which 
much might be said, and which is having results 
in these latter days. If at Easterskene the dis- 
play of a flag was made when the laird was absent 
for more than a day, the sight of the flag indicat- 
ing his absence would be rarer than that indicat- 
ing the presence of most others. While thus 
making his duties as a landlord the main business 
of his life, Mr M'Combie has given much of his 
time to public duties. He has been a Justice of 
the Peace for the long period of about sixty years, 
and is one of the only two remaining freeholders 
of the county, being enrolled as long ago as 1825. 
He was also for many years chairman of the pa- 
rochial board of Skene, retiring only a year or two 
ago, much to the regret of every one on the board. 



142 TJie Family of M'Coinbie, 

As was to be expected, the Volunteer movement 
received his hearty support. Although when the 
movement originated he was about sixty years of 
age — a time of life when most people are thinking 
of retiring from active work — yet, when in his 
sixty-fifth year, he undertook the command of the 
3d Aberdeenshire Rifle Volunteer Corps, and 
held the captaincy until 1870. He was exceed- 
ingly popular with his men and brother officers, 
and when nearly seventy years of age stood as 
straight as any in the ranks, and was the tallest 
man in his company of nearly 100 volunteers. 

In private life Mr M'Combie is highly es- 
teemed as one of the most amiable and hearty of 
men, full of genial humour and wit. His store of 
anecdotes, illustrative of the social life of Aber- 
deenshire in the end of last century and the 
beginning of the present, is unrivalled, and it is a 
great pity that a collection of these anecdotes has 
not been made for preservation, as many of them 
will soon be altogether lost, being known to few 
of the present generation even in the districts 
where they originated. Mr M'Combie has all his 



William APC online of Easter skene. 143 

life been a great reader, and the collection of 
books at Easterskene, especially those relating to 
Scottish history, antiquities, and old lore in gen- 
eral, was declared by the late Mr Jervise, author 
of the ' History of Angus and Mearns,' &c,, who 
occasionally visited at Easterskene, to be the best 
private collection he knew of. Mr M'Combie is 
an enthusiast in Scottish music, and an excellent 
judge of it, and has a fine collection of old strath- 
speys, many of them in MS., and very rare. He 
loves to recall the powers of the late Mr James 
Strachan, the famous Drumnagarrow, who used 
to be the leading player at the Easterskene balls 
many years ago. Mr M'Combie has all his life 
been a stanch supporter of athletic sports, and 
over twenty years ago capital games were held 
at Lynturk and Muggarthaugh. For a good 
many years past games have been held at Easter- 
skene, where the leading athletes of the present 
time, Donald Dinnie, George Davidson, and 
Kenneth M'Crae, have appeared; and we happen 
to know that any of them, when opportunity offers, 
would go to Easterskene in preference to most 



144 The Family of M'Combie. 

places, if for nothing else than to show their re- 
spect for Mr M'Combie, as one who has so hearty 
an appreciation of and interest in manly men and 
manly sports. 

In 1870, Mr M'Combie's popularity as a land- 
lord and country gentleman received public re- 
cognition when he was entertained to dinner by 
his Lynturk tenantry and the leading gentlemen 
of the vale of Alford. The following account of 
this dinner appeared in the ' Banffshire Journal ' 
of February i, 1870: "The chief of the clan 
M'Combie — the popular laird of Easterskene — 
was entertained to dinner on the 21st ult by the 
tenantry on his estate of Lynturk, in the vale of 
Alford. The chair was occupied by the laird's 
cousin, Mr M'Combie, M.P. for West Aber- 
deenshire, who is tenant in Bridgend, the largest 
farm on the Lynturk estate ; and there was a 
great gathering of the chief men of the vale. 
The chairman referred to Mr M'Combie as a 
kind and considerate landlord, who lets his farms 
at moderate rents, who keeps no head of game, 
and who lives among his people as an enter- 



William H/'Conibie of Bastci^skene. 145 

prising improver of the soil, and of the breeds 
of cattle ; the winner of many a prize in the 
show-yard ; as a warm supporter of the Volunteer 
cause, having been for a lengthened period the 
captain of the local volunteers ; and as a gentle- 
man of the kindest heart and most agreeable 
manners. In these observations the chairman 
did not say a word more than was due to 
Easterskene, and the large meeting cordially 
endorsed the sentiments. The laird made a 
suitable reply, and proposed the health of the 
tenantry of Lynturk, coupled with Mr Hunter, 
Farmton, who acknowledged." In addition to 
the foregoing, Mr M'Combie has on more than 
one occasion been entertained by his Easterskene 
tenantry. 

In politics Mr M'Combie is a Conservative of 
a mild type, and were there more of the same 
character, Conservatism would not be at so low 
an ebb in Aberdeenshire. He has never, how- 
ever, given much of his time nor attention to 
politics, nor been an ardent party-man. Some 
idea of Mr M'Combie personally has already 



146 The Family of M'Cojiibie. 

been given while mentioning his height. Until 
incapacitated from active outdoor exercise by an 
unfortunate accident some years ago, he might 
have been cited along with the late Mr Horatio 
Ross as an example of the remarkable preserva- 
tion of strength in old age. When his portrait by 
Mr J. Coutts Michie was exhibited at Edinburgh 
in 1885, it was difficult to believe that the hand- 
some, vio^orous, and alert-lookino- old man was an 
octogenarian ; and one critic thought doubtlessly 
that he showed remarkable critical acumen when 
he triumphantly asked, "Where are the wrinkles?" 
But the critic missed his mark, as critics some- 
times do ; for although now midway between 
eighty and ninety, Mr M'Combie's forehead is 
marked with only the faint outline of one or 
two wrinkles, just as the artist has faithfully 
delineated in the portrait. 

In the difference between the condition of 
the estates of Easterskene and Lynturk at 
the present time, and their condition when Mr 
M'Combie entered into possession, lies the result 
of his life's work — a work the value of which 



Williaui IM'Contbic of Eastcrskciic, 147 

is beyond all calculation. It rests there an ac- 
complished fact, that has already borne much 
trood fruit, and will continue, as all good work 
ever does, to bear fruit in a variety of ways 
and for a length of time beyond all human 
foresight. 

In bringing our brief memoir to a close, we 
feel that in looking back to the solitary figure of 
Donald M'Combie arriving poor and friendless 
in the vale of Alford some two hundred years 
ago, and then looking at the position of his 
descendant and representative of the present 
day, while enjoying his otiuiii atni dignitate in a 
green old age as the respected and honoured 
proprietor of two fine estates, and the many 
other descendants who have brought respect 
and honour on the name of M'Combie — such a 
retrospect cannot fail to be an incentive to in- 
dividual effort in others, who may learn from it 
that prosperity always waits on energetic perse- 
verance in well-doing, and invariably crowns it 
with success sooner or later. When, again, we 
compare the "life of sturt and strife" of John 



148 The Family of M'Combie. 

M'ComIe of Forter, with the peaceful career 
of his descendant at Easterskene, we see the 
advance the nation has made from revolution, 
imperfect civilisation, and lawlessness, to settled 
government, advanced civilisation, and conform- 
ity to law. 



149 



APPENDIX. 



NOTE A, page 5. 

"I OWN that John MTntoshe of fforter, comonly 
called M'Comie,"\vas a brave loyall gentleman, and be- 
haved very worthily in the King's service. But he 
needs not be excepted in this place ; his predecessor, as 
he told me and others severall tymes, was a son of the 
House of Garvamore in Badenoch, where never a MTn- 
toshe treaded till this our age, otherwise than as a 
guest or passenger ; so was really Macphersone, as all 
the oy'' M'Intoshes in the south are, who tho by ane un- 
acceptable mistake they bear yr name, have our nature, 
and constantly from age to age loved us better than 
them. But if he had been a M'Intoshe as he was called, 
he was neither at Glenclova nor at Blaire Castle, or the 
seidge of Lethen and Burgie, consequently that part of 
the history that concerns the services of the Catana tribus 
under the reign of King Charles the first, cannot at all 
be ascribed to the M'Intoshes, nor the rescue of Queen 
Mary, more than this, except that in contradiction to 



150 TJic Family of M'Combie. 

comon sence and reason, and the vouched testimonies 
of unexceptible witnesses, their bold assertion pass for a 
sufficient proofe." — From Sir yEneas M'Pherson^ of In- 
vereshie's MS. Memorial to the Laird of Cluny in Bad- 
Q.noch., penes M'Pherson of Cluny. 

" The care taken by the family historians to record 
the natural offspring of William, seventh laird of M'ln- 
tc^h, is sufficient proof that they were persons of note. 
The manners of the country and the time, both equally 
rude, may warrant the inference that the connection of 
which they were the issue was sanctioned by some such 
imperfect rite as that of handfasting. The mother of 
the two elder, Angus and Donald, appears to have been 
the daughter of the chief of the tribe of the M'Gillonies 
of Lochaber, a considerable branch of the Clan Cameron. 
The name of the mother of the three younger has not 
reached us ; but from the marriage of her daughter to 
a person who was evidently of consequence, we may 
infer that she was of honourable rank. Both her sons 
seem to have received lands from their father, Sorald or 



^ The following notice of Sir /Eneas M'Pherson is given in Douglas's 
'Baronage of Scotland,' p. 360, ed. 1798: "/Eneas, afterwards Sir 
/Eneas, a man of great parts and learning, and highly esteemed both by 
King Charles II. and King James VII. He collected the materials for 
the histoiy of the Clan M'Pherson, which is thought a valuable MS., 
is much esteemed, and is still preserved in the family. He was made 
Sheriff of Aberdeen by a charter under the great seal from King Charles II., 
dated 1684. His only son died a colonel in Spain, without issue." Sir 
/Eneas was the second son of "William M'Pherson of Inneressie, who 
married Margaret, daughter of Farquhardson of Wardes " (Wardhouse in 
Aberdeenshire, which belonged to the Farquharsons of Invercauld). " His 
grandfather, Angus or .Eneas M'Pherson of Inneressie, married a daughter 
of Farquharson of Bruickderg " (Broughdearg in Glenshee). 



Appendix. 151 

Sorlie ; and his descendants for two generations pos- 
sessed lands apparently in the neighbourhood of Petty, 
the favourite residence of their father. Of the elder, 
the Latin History gives the following account; 'Adam 
MacWilliam at first settled in Atholl, but afterwards 
removed to Garvamore in Badenagh ; and from him are 
descended the Macintoshes of Glenshee, Strathairdle, 
and Glenisla.' As his father died in 1368 at an ad- 
vanced age, and as he was born before his father's 
second marriage (of which there was issue), the date 
of his birth may be placed in the middle of the four- 
teenth century (probably rather before than after 
1350), and it is not likely that he long survived the 
year 1400. Unless a further clue shall be discovered, 
the endeavour to trace link by link the descent of the 
Macintoshes of Glenshee, Strathairdle, and Glenisla 
from this common and remote progenitor, must be 
abandoned as hopeless. [There is no record come down 
to us of the particular Thomas M'Intosh from whom 
the surname of M'Combie originated. The first men- 
tion of M'Thomas as surname seems to be in " Clan 
Chattan's Band," Spalding Club Miscellany, vol. iv. 
p. 260, where Aye M'Ane M'Thomas is mentioned. 
Thomas as Christian name has always been kept up in 
the family. — W. M'C. S.] It is, however, vouched in the 
most direct manner by the family annalist, whose sources 
of information and discriminating accuracy leave no 
room for doubt in the matter. He is indeed to be re- 
garded as so far a contemporary witness ; for of the 
documents from Avhich he compiled his work, it has 
been seen that one was written within a century of the 



D- 



Thc Family of M'Coinbie. 



death of Adam M'William, with whose children, at the 
farthest in the second generation, this eldest historian 
of the Macintoshes (who was also the chief of the clan) 
must have been contemporary. The evidence thus far 
(that is, to about the year 1500) is unquestionable ; and 
by the other two historians, it is carried down in the same 
contemporary channel to the year 1550. The writer of 
the Latin History wrote shortly after the year 1679 .< so 
that the period as to which it was necessary for him to 
speak of his own knowledge is less than a century and 
a half, a period for which the amplest evidence of 
family descent is generally accessible even in the ab- 
sence of written proofs, and among a people much less 
tenacious of such recollections than the Highlanders. 
It will be observed, also, that he speaks of the families of 
Glenshee, Strathairdle, and Glenisla as still existing, 
Avhich gives additional weight to his evidence." — From 
' Notes (MS.) on the Family of Macintosh or M'Combie 
of Forthar in Glenisla, in the shire of Angus, descended 
from the Family of Macintosh or of that Ilk, Captains 
of the Clan Chattan,' by the late Dr Joseph Robertson, 
the eminent antiquary, author of ' The Book of Bon 
Accord,' &c., written in 1839, penes Mr William 
M'Combie of Easterskene and Lynturk. In addition 
to the notes by Dr Robertson, the compiler desires to 
express his indebtedness to the exhaustive ' Historical 
Memoirs of the House and Clan of Mackintosh,' by Mr 
Alexander Mackintosh Shaw, for several interesting 
facts in the early history of the M'Combies. 



Appendix. 1 5 3 



NOTE B, page 5. 

" To any one at all versant in matters of genealogy, it 
will be superfluous to remark that until a recent period ^ 
illegitimate birth was scarcely counted a spot in a pedi- 
gree. The instances are innumerable of lords, earls, and 
princes who subscribed and called themselves bastards ; 
and there is scarcely a family in the peerage of Scot- 
land in which, in some instance, the succession has not 
been carried on by an illegitimate son. In 1404, Alex- 
ander Stewart, a natural son of the Wolfe of Badenagh, 
acquired the Earldom of Mar, which he transmitted to 
his natural son, Sir Thomas Stewart." After citing 
other cases involving damnatiLin coitum, Mr Robertson 
quotes from Feme's ' Blazon of Gentrie, or Glorie of 
Generositie,' p. 287 (London, 1586): " Spurii qui ex 
damnato coitu procreantur, ita ut tempore procreationis, 
non possit esse matrimonium, omni prorsus beneficio 
excludantur." " It was," he continues, " perhaps scarcely 
necessary to cite these examples, for the history of the 
chiefs of the Macintoshes itself furnishes a sufficient 
instance. In the beginning of the sixteenth century, on 
the occasion of a disputed succession to the chiefship, 
the clan chose a bastard brother of a late chief to be their 
captain." — Robertson, 'Notes on the Family of Mac- 
intosh or M'Combie.' (See also Skene's ' Highlanders 

1 A writer, indeed, of the reign of King James VI. speaks thus of the 
practice of his day : "Observandum hodie et hoc est, quod bastardi, si a 
parentibus suis agnoscantur pro liberis nobilitatem ea parte patris recipi- 
unt." — Craigii 'Jus Feudale,' lib. ii. § 21. 



154 ^^i<^ Family of M'Coinbic. 

of Scotland,' vol. ii. p. l8i; Sir Robert Gordon's 'Gen- 
eral History of the Earldom of Sutherland,' p. lOO.) 



NOTE C, page 5. 

" Hie Gulielmus erat supra communem popularem 
staturam procerus robustus sed minima camosus(?); 
cratque suae familise primus qui Clan Chattanorum 
ducem subscripsit." — From ' De Origine et Incrumento 
Makintoshiorum Epitome.' The Latin History of the 
MTntoshes, preserved in MS. in the Advocates' Library 
at Edinburgh. 



NOTE D, page 6. 

This was a feu-charter of the four-merk lands of 
Finnegand and shealing of Glenbeg, lying in Glenshee, 
in the barony of Middle Downie and sheriffdom of Perth, 
granted by Thomas Scott de Petgorno in favour of 
John M'Comy Moir ; Janet Rattray, his wife ; and their 
son and apparent heir, John M'Comy Moir, junior. 
Janet Rattray was a daughter of John Rattray of Dal- 
rulzion, who was one of the witnesses. The charter also 
included " astrictis multuris omnium granorum prefa- 
tarum terrarum solitis et consuetis molendino meo de 
Innerreddcrtye," together with the long obsolete right 
of " miilicnim vierchetisr 



Appendix. 1 5 5 



NOTE E, page 15. 

The following extract from the records of the kirk- 
session of Kirkmichael (Perthshire) shows that the re- 
moval of M'Comie Mor from Finnegand had not taken 
place previous to 165 1, and also throws considerable 
light on the Church discipline of the time : " March 2, 
165 1. — Ilk day Johne M'Intoishe of ffanneyzeand, 
Thomas Keill, and Alexr. M'Intoishe in Derrow, his 
tennants, maid public satisfaction in sackcloth, and gave 
(due) evidences of yr. repentances for deceiving the 
minister be causing him baptize ane chyld gottin in 
fornication, under the notione of a lawll. chyld." 



NOTE F, page 36. 

As still further showing the lawlessness of times com- 
paratively not of a very remote date, the following inci- 
dent, which took place before the time of M'Comie Mor, 
probably in Finla Mor's time, before the granting of the 
charter for Finnegand to the M'Comies, is of interest : 
" On another occasion, some Highlanders came down 
and killed a gentleman in Glenshee, one M'Omie or 
M'Homie. The Baron caught two of them, and instantly 
caused them to be hanged on birch-trees in the wood of 
Enochdhu, Their graves are to be seen there to this 
day. Their names were Donald-na-Slogg and Finlay- 
a-Baleia." — From ' Memoirs of the Family of Straloch, 



156 The Family of M'Coiubie. 

in Strathardle, commonly called Barron Reid (Robert- 
son), written in 1728.' 



NOTE G, page 36. 

A most remarkable confirmation of this incident in 
M'Comie Mor's life took place not many years ago. A 
house was to be built on the part of the field where the 
caird was said to have been buried, and to the intense 
astonishment of those excavating the foundation, human 
bones were turned up which no one to whom the tradi- 
tion was known doubted were those of the unfortunate 
caird. The event created a good deal of excitement 
at the time in Glenshee, and was looked upon as a 
most remarkable corroboration of a tradition which 
some, in the lapse of time, had begun to look upon 
with incredulity. 



NOTE H, page 41. 

Here, again, we would point out that none of the feats 
of strength attributed to M'Comie Mor are incredible, 
as so many traditionary feats are. Only a few years 
ago a celebrated athlete near Lochabcr, in Inverness- 
shire, although at the time past his prime, on a bull 
attacking his brother, who was lame and unable to 
defend himself, at once rushed forward, seized the bull 
by his horns, and dislocated his neck. 



Appendix. 157 



NOTE I, page 47. 

In a letter from the late William Shaw, Esq. of Milton 
of Blacklunans, to William M'Combie, Esq. of Easter- 
skene and Lynturk, written from Finnegand 26th Feb- 
ruary 1855, he says: "I promised to try and find out 
who your great forefather took prisoner in the north. 
James M'Intosh, one of the oldest men in our country, 
says that he has often heard that it was the laird of 
Craigievar, and thinks it was at the Kirkton of Alford 
the battle was fought. He does not know how he went 
there, only that Grahame (Montrose) and M'Comie were 
great friends. This was the more likely, as one of the 
lairds of Blacklunans, Robertson, Baron of the barony 
of Blacklunans, and one of Grahame's vassals, was with 
him. It was to this man that M'Comie showed his 
prisoner after the battle, asking him what he thought of 
him. The Baron said, ' Nae muckle.' M'Comie an- 
swered, ' Had you met him as I did, you would have 
another tale. Give him his sword, and he would drive 
all the lairds of Blackwater east Glack Pool,' ^ or the 
watery hollow, a pass between Blacklunans and Alyth." 
Now, in support of the above, we have, first, the testi- 
mony of "James Ramsay of Ogill," taken on 2Sth 
January 1645, and published in vol. ii. p. 167 of the 

1 There is reason to believe that what Mr Shaw calls the Glack Pool was 
the Glack of Fulzie, which is shown in a map in the possession of Mr 
Charles M'Kenzie of Borland, of date 1766, at the depression in the 
heights above Blacklunans through which the road to Alyth passed, and 
by which the routed lairds would flee in their imagined discomfiture by 
Craigievar. 



1 5 8 The Family of Al' Coiubie. 

' Memorials of Montrose and his Times,' printed for the 
Maitland Club, 1850, from the original in the Montrose 
charter-chest, that among those with Montrose at the 
Law of Dundee, immediately after the battle of Tipper- 
muir in 1644, was "John M'Colmy." Mr Shaw's infor- 
mant was not sure where John M'Comie took his 
prisoner, and it was at Aberdeen, not Alford, that 
Craigievar was taken prisoner. Second, in ' The History 
of the King's Majestie's Affaires in Scotland vnder the 
Conduct of the Most Honourable James Marquess of 
Montrose, in the years 1644, 1645, ^I'^d 1646,' printed in 
the year 1649, p. 49, it is stated: "They [Montrose's 
forces] tooke prisoners one Forbes of Kragevar, a knight 
of great esteeme with the enemy, and another, Forbes 
of Boindle." Sir William, as we shall see, escaped. 
Third, the evidence of Sir William Forbes of Craigie- 
var, 25th January 1645, on which date "Sir William 
Forbes of Craigievar, of the aidge of 32 years or therby, 
mareit, being sworne and interrogait anent thoiss whome 
he did see with the Erie Montroiss, Depones, that the 
day of the conflict at Aberdein, the deponer being in 
action and service for the weele of the Estaitts of this 
Kingdome, he was taken prisoner upon the feilds be sum 
of the Irish rebells and thair associatts, and wes deteand 
prisoner be the space of a month, efter whiche tyme the 
deponer wes permitted be the rebells to come aff upon 
his paroill to returne agane, and that the deponer come 
sua aff at Auldbar ; and that a twentie days or tharabout 
therefter the deponer, for keeping of his paroll, went in 
agane to the rebells at Strabogy ; and having stayed 
two dayes or therabout he escaiped, and came aff at 



Appendix. 159 

Strabogy." — Maitland Club, ' Memorials of Montrose,' 
p. 167. We have therefore the fact that John M'Comie 
was with Montrose prior to his march and fight at Aber- 
deen, the tradition in Glenshee that he took prisoner 
the laird of Craigievar while with Montrose in the north, 
and the fact that Sir William Forbes of Craigievar was 
taken prisoner by some one in Montrose's army at Aber- 
deen, and may therefore safely conclude that Sir Wil- 
liam Forbes had to succumb to the invincible M'Comie 
Mor. 



NOTE J, page 47. 

The complete list is as follows: "James, Erie of 
Montrose ; Alexr. M'Donald, alias Colkittoches, sone ; 
James, Erie of Airlie ; Sr. Thomas and Sr. David Ogil- 
vies, his sones ; Jon. Stewart of Auchannachan ; Don- 
nald Glass M'Ronnald of Keppoche ; David Graham of 
Gorthie ; Patrik Graham, fiar of Inchbrakie ; John 
M'Colmie ; Donald Ro[ber]tsone, tutor of Strowan ; 
Alexr. Ogilvie of Innerquharitie ; John Stewart of 
Shitrglass. 

NOTE K, page 49. 

Mr George M'Kenzie, John M'Comie's procurator in 
his law process with Lord Airlie, was also his leading 
'counsel in the trial of 1673, by which time he was Sir 
George M'Kenzie. He was the son of Simon M'Kenzie 
of Lochslin, and was born in 1636. He early showed 



i6o T/ic Family of M'Combie. 

marked talent, and in the same year in which he ap- 
peared as counsel for John M'Comie against the Earl of 
Airlie, he was one of the counsel for the Marquis of 
Argyle. Dryden terms him " that noble wit of Scot- 
land, Sir George M'Kenzie." Soon after the Restora- 
tion he was appointed a justice-depute. He was knighted 
before 1669, in which year he represented Ross in the 
Scottish Parliament. In 1677 he was appointed King's 
Advocate. One of his most distinguished public acts 
was the founding of the Advocates' Library of Edin- 
burgh. He died in 1691. 



NOTE L, page 54. 

" From these proceedings it would appear that, firstly, 
John M'Intosh, otherwise M'Comie or M'Combie, held 
Forther in virtue of a contract of alienation (probably a 
wadset or redeemable right) made several years before 
1661 ; secondly, that to the Glen of Glascorie or Cam- 
lochan he had acquired an absolute or irredeemable 
right, from the Earl having failed to redeem within the 
stipulated time ; thirdly, that M'Intosh was a person of 
very considerable note, influence, and wealth. Mention 
is made of his * great power,' ' his moyen and favour,' 
with the English usurpers ; and again he is described 
as their partisan, or their 'intelligencer and favourite.' 
These expressions show that the person to whom they 
were applied was of no little importance ; and another 
incidental statement brings out his wealth. It is stated 
that in this disputed glen of Glascorie alone he had, 



Appendix. 1 6 1 

besides divers horses, twenty milch kine and more than 
a hundred oxen.^ The justice of the decision may cer- 
tainly be suspected ; and it may be safely concluded 
that the ' Restoration Parliament,' as it was called, 
found little scruple in finding for a nobleman so emi- 
nent for his loyalty, and against a person who had been 
distinguished like M'Intosh as a 'favourite' of Crom- 
well's Government." — From ' Notes on the Family of 
Macintosh or M'Combie of Forther,' by Dr Joseph 
Robertson. 



NOTE M, page 58. 

In the Decisions of the Lords of Council and Session 
from June 6, 1678, to July 30, 171 2, vol. ii. p. 89, 
in a case. Logics against Wiseman, February 14, 1700, 
there occurs the following passage : " Transactions do 
not redintegrate null invalid deeds — 8th December 1671, 
Mackintosh contra Spalden and Farquharson ; and loth 
January 1677, Stuart contra Whiteford, where a son's 
bond given to liberate his father, unwarrantably de- 
tained, was found null." Here, M'Intosh against Spal- 
ding and Farquharson undoubtedly refers to the bond 
given by John M'Intosh, alias M'Comie's son or sons, 
for the liberation of their father in 1669, The Spalding 
is in all probability Spalding of AshintuUy, fined in 

^ In a marginal nole Dr Robertson adds : "John M'Intosh had in one 
glen more than 120 cattle. In 1574, the whole bestial which belonged to 
Sir Walter Scott of Branxholm, Knight (the ancestor of the noble house 
of Buccleuch), was 114 cattle — viz., 36 ky, 26 stottis, 21 queyis, 26 oxin, 
3 bulHs, 2 stirkis — 1397 sheep, and 841 hogs." 

L 



1 62 The Family of iVrCouibie. 

1673 for not appearing as a witness on behalf of the 
Farquharsons. Spalding had evidently received the 
bond as an equivalent for money from the Farquhar- 
sons, and found it valueless. The Farquharsons, there- 
fore, did not profit even in a pecuniary sense by the 
abduction of John M'Comie. 



NOTE N, page 'jG. 

On the same day, "Andrew Spalding of Ashintullie ; 
David Spalding, his brother ; John Robertson of Tilli- 
murdo ; John M'Gillilvie, in Dalinamer ; and David 
Rattray of Rannagullion," for not appearing as wit- 
nesses at the instance of the relict and nearest of kin 
of the deceased Robert Farquharson, were adjudged " to 
be in ane unlawe and amerciament of ane hundred 
merks Scotts." 

NOTE O, page -jj. 

Robert Farquharson of Broughdearg's descent from 
Finla Mor is : Finla Mor, Lachlan Farquharson, William 
Farquharson, David Farquharson, Robert Farquharson. 
Alexander Farquharson, the son of Robert Farquhar- 
son who was slain at the Moss of Forfar, wrote what 
rs known as the Broughdearg Manuscript, giving the 
genealogy of the Farquharsons. He was a surgeon, 
and practised about Braemar. It is said that on being 
called on one occasion to prescribe for some woman 
related to the M'Comies, he said if he gave her any- 



Appendix. 163 

thing it would be poison. The last male representa- 
tive of the Farquharsons of Broughdearg was Thomas 
Farquharson of Baldovie, born 1770, died i860. Robert 
Farquharson, besides his son Alexander, had a daughter, 
Margaret, married to John Smith in " Bredfald at Bal- 
gais"; also "a natural daughter, married to William 
Baton of Brewlands in Glenylla." — BrongJidearg MS. 



NOTE P, page "]-]. 

While M'Comie Mor lived, the caterans gave the head 
of Glenisla a wide berth in their predatory incursions ; 
and on his death, the one who brought the news home, 
on being asked, " What news ? " joyfully replied in 
Gaelic, "News, and good news! Blessed be the Virgin 
Mary ! the great M'Comie, in the head of the Low- 
lands, is dead, for as big and as strong as he was." 



NOTE Q, page 83. 

A fact which throws considerable light on the circum- 
stances of the M'Comies subsequent to their father's 
death has recently come to light. In tracing back the 
history of the M'Kenzie family, who bought Finnegand 
in 1 71 2, it appears that at one time the family was at 
Crandart, and afterwards in Glenbeg, and while in Glen- 
beg the head of the family lent money on the land of 
Crandart to a M'Intosh in 1687. 



164 The Family of M'Combie. 



NOTE R, page 85. 

Both in the Poll -book and on the gravestone the 
family name is spelled so as to pronounce M'Comie. In 
the Poll-book it is once M'Komy and once M'Comy. 
The ^ is a modern innovation, and was not introduced 
until about the end of the eighteenth century. After 
the time of Donald we have conformed to the modern 
usage, although etymologically it is incorrect. 



NOTE S, page 123. 

Another reminiscence of Mr M'Combie's youth car- 
ries us back to the time of Culloden. In 1818 there 
died a well-known man of the name of M'Bean, one of 
the class known as gentle beggars, at the great age of 
102, whose death was chronicled at some length in the 
'Aberdeen Journal' of that time. Mr M'Combie re- 
members having often talked with him about Culloden, 
where he charged with the MTntoshes, who were fear- 
fully cut up. M'Bean would have been about thirty 
years of age when he fought at Culloden. 



NOTE T, page 136. 

The Rev. Dr Taylor, in his account of the parish of 
Leochel-Cushnie, in the 'New Statistical Account of 
Scotland,' published in 1843, writing of the Linn, says : 



Appendix. 165 

" It is called the Linn of Lynturk, and has the repu- 
tation of being haunted by the apparition of a lady in 
green or white ; but the oldest living inhabitant not 
having had ocular demonstration, the colour of the 
dress remains doubtful. The last instance of her ap- 
pearance which tradition has handed down is the fol- 
lowing : The laird of Kincraigie had dined with his 
neighbour the laird of Tulloch, and as he returned 
home late at night, mounted on a spirited horse, and 
attended by a faithful dog, he was passing along the 
brink of the dell above the Linn, when suddenly the 
apparition seized the bridle of his horse, and exclaimed, 
' Kincraigie Leslie, I've sought you long, but I've found 
you now.' The dog, however, fiercely attacking the 
spectre, it quitted the bridle for a moment, and the 
horse dashed off at the top of his speed, while his ter- 
rified master could see the spectre and the dog tumbling 
down in mortal struggle to the very bottom of the dell. 
Kincraigie was thus saved, and his generous canine 
friend returned next day, showing evident marks of the 
perilous strife in which he had been engaged." 



ADDENDUM. 

In the Dean of Lismore's ' Book of Gaelic Poetry,' 
edited by the Rev. Thomas M'Lauchlan, there is a poem 
by " The Baron Ewen M'Omie," on sickness. In a note 
Mr M'Lauchlan says : "The editor has not been able to 
identify the author of this poetical complaint. During 
the existence of baronies, with their bailies or local 



1 66 The Family of M'Combie. 

judges, the number of barons or baron bailies in the 
Highlands must have been large. Of this class was 
most likely our poet" Taking into consideration, first, 
that the M'Omies were established as a separate branch 
of the MTntoshes, considerably anterior to the date of 
the collection of these poems, and second, that the physi- 
cian longed for is a M'Intosh, there is a strong proba- 
bility that the writer was an ancestor of the present 
M'Combies ; but the information is so indefinite as to 
the time when and the place where the poem was com- 
posed, that it has been placed here as an interesting 
addendum. The following is the English translation of 
the poem, with the editor's notes : — 

" Long do I feel my lying here. 
My health to me is a stranger ; 
Fain would I pay my health's full price, 
Were mine the numerous spoils. 
A spoil of white-haired heavy cows, 
A spoil of cows for drink or feasting. 
I'd give besides the heavy bull, 
If for my cure I had the price. 
The herds and flocks of Mannanan,^ 
The sword and horn of MacCumhail, 
The trumpet of Manallan- I'd give, 
And the quiver CuchuUin, 



^ An ancient Celtic hero, from whom the Isle of Man takes its name, 
as well as the district in Scotland called Slamannan. 

2 The editor has not been able to obtain any acconnt of this person. 
There is a contraction over the second a in tlic MS., which makes the 
reading doubtful. 



Appendix. 167 

Ir, Evir, and Eireamon/ 

And were I to possess them, 

The harp of Curcheoil,^ which hid men's grief, 

The shield of the king of Golnor.- 

Lomond's^ ship of greatest fame, 

Had I it upon the strand, 

All I've seen I'd freely give, 

Ere as now I'd long remain. 

Long to me appears the coming 

Of Alexander Macintosh, 

That my disease he might drive away, 

And then I might no longer lie. 

Lonsf." 



1 The three sons of Milidh of Spain, from whom the Milesian races are 
descended, according to Celtic story. 

- The editor can give no account of these names. The traditions re- 
specting them seem to have perished. 

^ A famous Celtic hero, from whom Ben Lomond and Loch Lomond 
are said to derive their names. 



THE END. 



PRINTED BY WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS. 



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