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* OF CASK i 








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THIS book was undertaken with the object of producing, 
in simple and picturesque form, an outline of the history 
of the Oliphants of Gask and their forbears, from early 
times to the present day. It was intended to form a 
short sketch, in the interests of the youngest generation 
of the race, for whom the family traditions, now separated 
from the ancient lands, would soon, as years passed, 
become confused and dim. Much was already in print 
concerning the old documents, and the part played by 
the Lairds of Gask in Jacobite enterprise, and some of the 
new information is so purely genealogical in character, 
that the reader not interested in such research can only 
be advised to skip the earlier chapters ; but as the work 
went on, and the contents of the Gask charter chest were 
further examined, letters concerning many other families 
came to light, and seemed to suggest a possible extension 
of interest beyond the actual members of the Gask family. 
These letters, mainly of domestic rather than historical 
interest, reflect much that belongs to life in its most 
ordinary aspect; they are alive with the common cares 
and trivialities of every-day existence, voices of a dead 
Past, speaking the living language that links them with 
the men and women of to-day, in the appeal of our 
unalterable humanity. 

In gathering the material for this book from many 
sources a great deal of help has been received from 
various quarters. No attempt is made here to give a 



list of those who have rendered service by supplying 
information, or to single out any one name for special 
recognition. To all friends who have taken part in 
bringing together these family records, and who have 
made the long task pleasant by kindly interest and 
sympathy, the writer here makes grateful acknowledg- 

The illustrations are reproduced from pictures in the 
possession of different members of the family ; except the 
miniature of Margaret Robertson of Strowan, which has 
been lent by her kinsman, Sir George Cooper, to whom 
sincere thanks are due. 


EDINBURGH, October 1910. 





David Olifard The journey to Scotland The awakening of 
Scotland King David's feudal system The sair sanct 
to the Crown The fountain of Justice Justiciarius 
Laudoniae William the Lion Falaise Walter Olifard 
and his wife First association of Olifards with Perthshire 
Walter Olifard, third Justiciar, and his son David . 1-13 



The lands of Gask Findo Gask and Trinity Gask Orable, 
daughter of Nes Ysenda of Gask The Earls of Strathearn 
The Olifards established in Perthshire Changes of 
name The hammer of the Scots Edward I. at Gask 
On the road from Gask to Ogilvy Castle The seven 
women Career of Sir William Olifard The siege of 
Stirling Captivity of Sir William Elizabeth Olifard 
Escape of Hugh Olifard Rise of Robert Bruce William 
Olifard, Warden of Perth Siege of Perth Olifard receives 
grants of land from Robert Bruce The lands of Gask 
conferred Olifard signs the "Remonstrance" Closing 
years Death of Bruce Death of Sir William Olifard 
His tomb at Aberdalgie 14-34 



Sir Walter Olifaunt receives confirmation of the lands of Gask 
The charter lost and regained Marriage of Walter Olifaunt 
to Elizabeth, daughter of Robert Bruce A hundred years 
of obscurity Sir William Oliphant of Aberdalgie Hostage 
for King James I. Death in captivity His wife and 




family Sir John Oliphant Feud at Arbroath Family of 
Sir John Early life of Laurence, first Lord Oliphant 
Journey to Italy with eighth Earl of Douglas The House 
of Douglas James II. confers the title on Laurence 
Oliphant Destruction of Dupplin Castle Siege of Dum- 
barton Royal marriage negotiations Death of first Lord 
Oliphant Hispower His family John, Master of Oliphant 
His wife and family Flodden field Death of the Master 
Early history of third Lord Oliphant and his brother 
William The Reformation Sol way Moss Henry VIIL 
Solway Moss prisoners The Master as Hostage The 
Daughter of Scotland Death of third Lord Oliphant 
His wife and family ........ 35-61 



Christian Sutherland of Berriedale She marries William, 
second son of first Lord Oliphant Her misfortunes Her 
children Her son Andrew resigns his estates Andrew's 
three daughters William Oliphant of Newton His 
five sons The House of Condie Raids and feuds 
"Auld Jhonne" of Gask William Melrose, minister of 
Gask Fatal broils Wife and children of fourth Lord 
Oliphant Oliphant property in Caithness An un- 
desirable possession Death of fourth Lord Oliphant 
Laurence, Master of Oliphant His marriage The seven 
pearls of Lochleven Raid of Ruthven The Master obtains 
leave to travel He disappears The mystery never cleared 
up The fifth Lord Oliphant His marriage His only 
daughter The celebrated Peerage case The fifth Lord 
dissipates the Oliphant estates His cousin, Laurence 
Oliphant, buys the lands of Gask 62-78 



Lang Laurence His marriage His children His eldest son, 
the first Laird of Gask His marriage His six children 
The charter renewed The Old House of Gask Neighbours 
in Strathearn Death of the first Laird The Kirk of Gask 
The " Great Troubles " The second Laird His marriage 
to sixth Lord Oliphant's daughter The Covenant Laurence 
Oliphant signs at Perth Children of the second Laird of 



Gask Their stormy childhood The "Engagement" 
Laurence Oliphant knighted George Graeme of Inchbrakie 
and his wife Mrs John Graham The witch mania 
Tyranny of the Church Pasquils and satires Enmity of 
Drumkilboe General Monck The family quarrel Patrick 
the Disinherited Williamston Marriage of Laurence 
Oliphant to Anna Preston Their children Funeral of 
their second son Life at Williamston Death of Sir 
Laurence Oliphant The third and fourth Lairds of Gask 
Time rights the wrong 79-104 



James Oliphant of Williamston His wife and children The 
Union The Old House The River Pow Jacobite 
influences Colonel William Oliphant Margaret, Lady 
Nairne Her marriage to Lord William Murray Her 
children Nairne connections Harie Machany The call 
comes The two young Oliphants of Gask join the Jacobite 
forces They fight at Sheriffmuir They meet King James 
III. and VIII. at Scone End of the attempt Death of 
Jean Oliphant Marriage of Laurence Oliphant with 
Amelie Nairne Her character and influence Laurence 
Oliphant, afterwards known as the "Old Laird" His 
character Marriage negotiations The wedding Marriage 
of Lilias Oliphant to Laurence Oliphant of Condie Death 
of Janet Murray Her funeral Death of James Oliphant 
His funeral His political interests .... 105-132 



Early training of the Oliphant children at Williamston Dismal 
histories of the last Lords Oliphant Death of the eighth 
Lord Colonel William Oliphant succeeds as ninth Lord 
He dies at Williamston His possessions Francis 
Oliphant His elder son's unknown fate The tenth Lord 
Oliphant His early days He runs errands in the Canon- 
gate for a bawbee He dies without children Other 
claimants to the title Young Oliphant of Gask goes to 



school His journal Family letters Tragedy at Glamis 
Fishing dispute Lilias Oliphant of Souterton Her sad 
story Charles Oliphant of Ure Janet Oliphant's Jacobite 
verses A tutor at Gask Jane, Duchess of Atholl 
Graemes of Inchbrakie A dressmaker's bill The Perth 
Races Young Laurence Oliphant joins the Royal Company 
of Archers A united family The Robertsons of 
Drummachin ..... 133-160 



Children of James Oliphant of Gask Thomas Oliphant His 
marriage Letter to his brother His death James 
Oliphant Supports his brother at Perth His marriage 
His children Anthony Oliphant His grandmother's 
letter William Oliphant He goes to Jamaica His death 
Patrick Oliphant Apprenticed to a surgeon Goes to 
Leyden Pictures at Leyden Writes to Ame'lie Goes to 
the East At Bussorah His death Alan Oliphant He 
dies unchristened Ebenezer Oliphant He is apprenticed 
to a goldsmith Horn Bond His marriage Death of his 
children Later years His death Some of his handiwork 
Jean Oliphant Her death Margaret Oliphant Her 
death Anne Oliphant Her marriage and death Lilias 
Oliphant Her marriage and re-marriage Her son Her 
death Helen Oliphant She dies an infant Janet 
Oliphant Her death and funeral Katherine Oliphant 
Her marriage and death 161-176 



The call to arms, 1745 Response of the Oliphants and Nairnes 
Journal of young Laurence Father and son Charles 
Edward comes to Gask The elder Gask governor of Perth 
-Young Laurence at Prestonpans The ride to Edinburgh 
The laurel crown The march to Derby The struggle at 
Perth Margaret Oliphant's letter The battle of Falkirk 
To Aberdeen Trials at Gask Mr M'Leish The looting 
of Gask House An anxious winter The fatal news . 177-203 





Winter at Inverness The battle of Culloden The two Oliphants 
go into hiding Their wanderings David Buchan Forfeit 
and attainted Sophia Murray The Oliphants escape to 
Sweden Journal of the old laird Broken health of young 
Laurence They reach Paris Charles Edward at St Ouen 
A sad meeting Stewart adherents in Paris The Treaty 
of Aix Avignon Letter from George Kelly Ame'lie at 
Gask Death of Margaret, Lady Nairne .... 204-217 



Marriage of Margaret Oliphant Travels of Gask and his son 
French Royal family Accident to young Laurence Arrival 
of Ame'lie Oliphant and Janet in France The home in 
Paris Letter from W. Fleetwood Ame'lie returns to 
Scotland Court festivities at Versailles The old laird's 
journal Fifth Lord Strathallan "Mr Brown" and his 
cousin " Symon " Laurence Oliphant of Condie's marriage 
projects Jacobite colony in France The redemption of 
Gask The scheme succeeds Marriage projects of young 
Laurence Graeme of Garvock He is seized and im- 
prisoned The Robertsons of Strowan They come to 
France Robertson of Blairfetty The old laird's journal 
Letter from Mary Nairne Marriage of the young laird 
to Margaret Robertson of Strowan Margaret travels to 
England The first child His death Marriage of Janet 
Oliphant to Balhaldie Birth of their son Death of Janet 
Jane Johnstone Her efforts to save Charles Nairne from 
an entanglement Ida Boskaam Her defeat Peerage con- 
ferred on the old laird by James III. and VIII. The Castle 
of Bouillon Bishop Forbes Bishop Gordon Promising 
schemes Condie's marriage An indiscreet letter A letter 
from Paris Margaret Oliphant goes to Gask Her daughter 
born there Children of the young laird and his wife The 
young laird returns Ame'lie goes to Charleville, and 
brings the old laird home to Gask 218-268 





James Blair Oliphant, the tenth Laird of Gask Caroline Oliphant 
the younger Her verses She survives her sister eight 
months The Longs of Rood Ashton The Bristol Riots 
Portrait of James Blair Oliphant He is served heir to 
the title of Lord Oliphant Children of Thomas Kington 
and Margaret Oliphant Lady Nairne alarmed about her 
son's health They go to Ireland Enniskerry They go 
to the Continent Letters from Lady Nairne William, 
sixth Lord Nairne, dies at Brussels Life at Charlton 
Margaret Kington's illness and death James Blair Oliphant 
arrives too late Marriage of James Blair Oliphant to 
Henrietta Graeme of Orchill They recall Lady Nairne 
to Gask Letters from Lady Nairne She builds the chapel 
at Gask Her death 418-445 



Illness of James Blair Oliphant Leamington His last letter 
to his sister Rachel His sudden death The will of the 
tenth Laird of Gask He disinherits his nephew Claims 
of the Oliphants of Condie Death of Rachel Oliphant 
The Oliphants of Leyden Their claim established The 
Dutchmen come to Gask Their deaths Widowhood of 
Henrietta Blair Oliphant The Jacobite relics Mr Martin, 
minister of Gask William Keir, head-keeper at Gask 
The last Laird of Gask His early disappointments His 
literary career His marriage to Frances Dorothy Jebb 
Hospitalities of Gask House His last illness and death- 
Hi 8 wil1 ... 446-467 

EPILOGUE .... 468-470 

Letter on Darien affairs, 7th November 1699 . . . 471475 


Evidence in the case unsuccessfully instituted by the Govern- 
ment in 1749 to prove that Robert Mercer of Aldie (Robert 
Nairne) was not killed at the battle of Culloden . . 476-484 





Letter from Professor Samuel Grant Oliphant of Olivet College, 
Michigan, on the subject of members of the Oliphant family 
in America ... . 485-487 

Genealogical sketch of the Kington family 


. 488-492 


1. THE OLD HOUSE OF GASK . . . . . Frontispiece 

2. LAURENCE OLIPHANT, SIXTH LAIRD OF GASK. 1691-1767 . To face page 120 


SIXTH LAIRD OF GASK. 1698-1774 . . . ,, 156 


CAMP TO PRINCE CHARLES EDWARD. 1724-1792 . ,, 188 




LORD NAIRNE. 1766-1845 . . . . . 344 



OF CHARLTON. 1799-1839 . . . . . ,, 434 






PRINCE DAVID of Scotland, one of the finest characters 
Scotland has produced, one of the finest kings the world 
has known, went to the Court of England to "get the 
Scottish rust rubbed off." l It is not to be supposed that 
the rust was very apparent where he himself was con- 
cerned, for in the midst of the wildness and roughness 
of ancient Scotland he had, in his earliest years, been 
reared in an atmosphere created by the gentlest, most 
cultivated woman of the day his mother Margaret, 
queen and saint, whose simple Court had a dignity of its 
own. But Norman chivalry had invaded England, while 
the north was only slowly awaking. It was natural 
enough that the young Prince should wish to go to the 
Court of Henry I. While there he married, in 1100, 
Matilda, the widow of a Norman knight, Simon de 
Senlis, and in right of this lady he held the Earldoms 
of Northampton and Huntingdon. No doubt when, as 
Earl of Huntingdon, he sometimes went to visit these 
estates, he was received with all honour by the surround- 
ing landowners. Among these was to be found the 
family of Olifard. 2 Probably sixty years earlier the 
Olifards had come over with William of Normandy, 

1 William of Malmesbury. 

2 The first record of an Olifard is as a witness to Earl Simon's foundation of 
the Cluniac Priory of St Andrew, Northampton, between 1093 and 1100. See 
W. Maitland Thomson's article in the Scots Peerage, vol. vi. p. 522, for an 
exhaustive account of all that is known concerning the earliest history of the 



who gave them the lands of Lilford in Northampton- 
shire ; but nothing is really known beyond the fact 
that about the year 1124 an Olifard was in possession 
of Lilford, that he had three young sons, William, 
David, and Thomas, and that to one of these sons the 
Scottish King, who had that year succeeded to the 
Crown, stood godfather. Naturally the infant was called 
after the King, and this David Olifard is the first of 
the name to stand out in the history of his time. 

There is no record to show if David received from 
his royal godfather any special notice as the years went 
on, but it may be that the young boy grew up deeply 
attached to the King. From his very earliest days his 
thoughts must have often turned to the wild kingdom 
of the North, so little known, and having all the charm 
of mystery. Young David was fated to carry the 
fortunes of the House of Olifard far from Lilford and 
the Norman Court to that grey northern kingdom. 
Nothing could have seemed less likely than that this 
should happen ; all the family property was in England, 
all the family interests were centred in England, and 
the Olifard boys, as they grew to manhood, would 
become knights in the English Court, owning allegiance 
to King Henry and King Stephen. Maud, the sister of 
King David, had married Henry I. of England. She 
had no son, but her daughter was the heiress of the 
Crown of England, and is known to history as the 
Empress Matilda. Stephen had seized the throne, and 
it was natural that David should invade England to 
redress the wrongs of his niece. This invasion ended 
in that disaster to Scottish arms, the Battle of the 
Standard, in 1188. Young David Olifard would be at 
this time perhaps fourteen, too young to take part 
with either side, but four years later, in 1142, when 
King David had renewed the same struggle, and was 
in desperate straits beleaguered at Winchester, came 
the chance for Olifard to show that devotion to the 
Scottish King which was to turn the whole current of 
his life. 


Here is the story, in the words of the chronicle of 
John of Hexham : 

" The King of Scotland having lost all his men 
barely escaped, and made a precipitate retreat to his 
own kingdom; for a certain godson of his, David 
Holifard, a comrade of those who besieged the city of 
Winchester, secreted him, so that those who were in 
eager search of the King did not discover him." 

After this adventure, David Olifard could hardly 
continue as a fighter on the side of King Stephen. He 
must at once have thrown in his lot with the defeated 
Scottish King, and shared in his hurried flight. He 
was about twenty years old when he thus found himself 
in the train of King David, turning his face northward, 
and forsaking his own people and his father's house, 
but honoured and trusted by the King whose life he 
had saved. From henceforth his energies were to be 
devoted to the King and to Scotland. 

It must have been a great change for the Norman 
boy, for England had for long been roused from her 
old conditions under the Saxon kings. The chivalry 
and gaiety of France had transformed not only the 
Court, but social life throughout the country. Besides 
feeling that he was going a very long journey to 
Scotland, David Olifard would know that he was going 
to a very different life, under conditions far removed 
in civilisation and comfort. The whole aspect of Scotland 
would be uncivilised to his English ideas. 

The wattled dwellings of the poor, when surrounded 
by a ditch or a bank, or even a wooden palisade, formed 
what were called the towns ; they had been originally 
only places of refuge, whither the dwellers in the forests 
or straths could run in times of danger. Now these 
groups of dwellings were beginning to be not only 
"places of strength," but also marts and centres of a 
humble commerce. David Olifard, as he passed with 
the King through these towns, would see the miserable 
little colonies of lepers, congregated outside the gates, 


the only place where they were permitted to remain, 
and where they gained a pitiful livelihood by begging. 
No protecting castles stood amidst the primitive build- 
ings. " David found Scotland built of wattles, and left 
her framed in granite, castles, and monasteries studding 
the land in every direction." 1 But this work was still 
to be done when David Olifard first came. 

An immense forest covered a great part of the land. 
Every stretch of country that now is moorland was 
then a thick tangle of tree and undergrowth, and where 
there are now cultivated straths and valleys were marshy 
f ens n ot to be drained away for many a year. The 
work of clearing the forests was going on ; but to the 
eyes of a stranger it would seem as if little was done. 
The work was perilous, for the woods were the haunts 
of bear, wolf, wild boar, and bison. But David would 
see signs of prosperity too. Here and there he would 
ride past fields of wheat, oats, and beans, past huge 
flocks of sheep and goats, and perhaps might see the 
herds of little horses running wild, which were bred on 
some of the large estates. Commerce was awaking, for 
Scotland was about to enter on a period of prosperity. 
When the royal train rode by the sea-shore, merchant- 
ships and fishing-vessels would be visible. The old, 
dark days of Scotland were drawing to a close. Out 
of the wild tumultuous beginnings of her history some 
order was to emerge at length. She was leaving the 
broken dim traditions of her ancient tribes the remote 
happenings of which some fragment of song or legend 
is all the record, and was awaking to progressive 

It was a stern Scotland, still a land of men concerned 
for the primitive needs of life, the hunting for food, the 
defending of the home. The chief savage joy and scourge 
was war. All the stir, the enthusiasm, the glory of 
existence came from the attitude of fighting, men were 
bound to maintain for life and liberty. They were united 
by no patriot spirit, for the wars were between tribe 

1 Scotland under Her Early Kings. E, W. Robertson. 


and tribe, existing in a perpetual state of hostility. 
The high patriotism, which afterwards distinguished the 
Highlanders in particular, had its remote origin in loyalty 
to the chief, and loyalty among the men of a clan to 
each other. They knew no wider sympathies, they were 
trained in no imperial spirit. The sentiment that was 
to weld the clans together was as yet unborn. 

Yet the stirrings of national life in distant countries 
had touched her people also. It was an alien voice that 
called, and to which she responded. From France came 
the impetus that set the blood of Scotland coursing 
to national issues. To Scotland, as to England, the 
French Conquest brought a new enlightenment, and new 
standards. Over the north, as over the south country, 
poured the Norman knights with their higher ideas of 
civilisation. Malcolm Canmore had given them land, 
much to the natural dissatisfaction of the old Celtic 
nobility, who would not at first realise the great advan- 
tages the invasion was to bring. Then, as the years went 
on, the Norman knights married into the ancient native 
families, and from the united blood and interest of the 
two races came better times for Scotland. The Norman 
knights, who rode northward with King David and David 
Olifard found this change already working. Many kins- 
men and friends, owners of estates both north and south 
of the Scots water as the Firth of Forth was then 
called would give them welcome. 

How far north Olifard may have ridden with the 
King into the forests and glens is not known. Perhaps 
he did not at first cross the Scotswater, for we find the 
King granting him lands in Roxburghshire. We can 
realise that the King, always interested in his godson, 
would be glad, now that he owed him life and liberty, 
to attach him permanently to his person and his service, 
and he knew that nothing could bind him so effectually 
as a gift of land. The stretch of country which now 
became Olifard's included the districts of Crailing and 
Smailholm. 1 King David was to reign for ten years 

1 He held lands also in East Lothian, "having quit claimed Hertesheved 
and Spot to Melrose Abbey." Scots Peerage, vol. vi. p. 525. 


longer, and there is every evidence that young David 
Olifard was always in close attendance at his Court. So 
much is known through charters. He witnessed so 
many, that it is plain he was with the Court wherever 
the King went. But for these charters l we should know 
very little about him ; as it is, he is but a dim figure, 
emerging here and there out of the mists of antiquity. 
We know neither the name of his mother in England, 
nor of his wife. It is nearly certain, however, that he 
married young, and had certainly one son, Walter. The 
names of David, William, Walter, Philip, and Fulco 
Olifard 2 appear in various charters of the day, but it 
is not possible to say positively if they were brothers. 
There is no doubt, however, that Walter was David's 
eldest son and heir, and that the chief home of the family 
must have lain in the fertile lands of the Lothians 
between the Firth of Forth and the Tweed, for it was 
this land that King David chose to establish as the centre 
of the great feudal system, and here he settled as far 
as possible a great group of Norman knights, fresh from 
the feudal traditions of France. 

Scotland had already its feudal institutions. The 
native system had deep hold of all the warring tribes, 
but it had been restrained by no central authority such 
as David now resolved to institute. In England and 
France feudalism had supported the power of royalty, 
while in ancient Scotland it had tended to separate the 
country into a collection of small kingdoms. There were 
no written laws and no charters. All tenure of land, 
all freedom, all rights, depended on custom, hereditary 
possession, or tradition, without reference to any supreme 
over-lord. These unwritten laws proved to be so deeply 
rooted among the northern tribes that they lasted for 
centuries after the rest of the kingdom had accepted the 
formal methods of French feudalism. That the Crown 

* He witnessed at least twenty-five charters of Malcolm IV.. and forty-three 
of William the Lion. 

2 Osbert Olifard, who may have been a son or a brother of David, had a 
grant of the lands of Arbuthnott in the Mearns. He was a Crusader, and went 
out to the East about 1178, where he died leaving no issue. 


could not fully establish the new system was to be the 
reason, in years to come, of the weakening and harassing 
of the Kings of Scotland. It was the care of every 
knight to build himself a strong fortress of defence, and 
over all the country rose the massive stone keeps that 
were soon to be so many threats to the Crown. Robert 
Bruce overthrew one hundred and thirty-seven of these 
castles, 1 for each threatened to be the centre of a kingdom, 
instead of a support to the throne. But at the time 
they were built King David could count upon loyalty. 
He liked to see the grey walls rising on every side, and 
here and there rose also at his command the beautiful 
monasteries and churches that he knew would become 
centres of civilisation and learning. It will be remembered 
that his immense gifts to the Church caused his descendant, 
King James I., to call him " a sair sanct to the Crown "; 
but David had an insight of his own he realised that 
the great work of progress would, during the next 
centuries, be carried on by the churches and religious 
houses. He must have taught David Olifard the lesson, 
for we find the young knight enriching the Church by 
his gifts. The following are some of the presents he 
gave : 

" To the monks of Jedburgh a tenth of the multures 
of the mill of Crailing," "a thrane of corn in autumn 
from each ploughland of the lands of Crailing and Smailham 
to the House of Soltre, and the brethren there serving 

The document which tells this continues : 

"And that this my donation may be ratified and 
secured to all posterity, I have affixed my seal to this 

The seal of David Olifard is said to be appended to 
a royal grant to the Priory of Coldingham the seal 
displaying the three crescents still the arms of the 
Oliphants after seven hundred years. 2 

1 Fordun a Goodal, vol. ii. p. 240. 

1 An early example of the Oliphant arms is on Sir William Oliphant's seal 
attached to the Baron's letter of 1320. Scots Peerage, vol. vi. p. 529. 


Strangely out of the far past appears the figure of 
this earliest Olifard whose deeds have found record. The 
dust of seven centuries covers his memory. We know 
whence he came, and see his figure standing forth 
heroically on one page of history. We see him following 
his great master to a strange country, and then in later 
life there is the glory of his rising power and influence, 
when he was a central figure of that mighty feudal 
Scotland, which had its beginnings in the Lothians. He 
is an example of how one man, in those days, could found 
a family and raise it to dignities and honours only second 
to those of the Crown itself. Olifard must have been 
steadfastly loyal. He held the confidence of kings through 
three generations, and through all changes he kept his 
own place in the councils of the kingdom. 

Of the place of his dwelling, the manner of his life, 
no echo remains. But the passion of the day was sport 
in all its forms, especially hunting and hawking, and 
sport was also the engrossing pursuit of the King. 
There can be no doubt that, putting aside the actual 
claims of war or justice, hunting was the serious business 
of existence, and that in Scotland, where the killing of 
wild animals was a pressing necessity, it would be the 
occupation of every knight. The royal packs, stag- 
hounds, wolf-hounds and fox-hounds, went where the 
Court went, with a following of falconers, horses and 
their attendants, and also fishermen and nets. It is 
hardly to be supposed that David Olifard did not share 
in the royal pursuits. We picture him riding forth in 
the train of his master to the chase as to the battle, or 
hunting with his followers about the woods surrounding 
his own castles. 

David I. was destined to outlive all those nearest and 
dearest to him. David Olifard must have stood by him 
in many a sorrow. The King's two sons, Malcolm and 
Henry, and his two daughters, Claricia and Hodierna, 
every one died before their father. He was fated to 
leave his kingdom to the frail hold of his young grandson 
Malcolm, the son of Henry. His hope for the nation 


lay in the loyalty of his knights the great nobles who 
owed their greatness to his gifts of land. Among these 
was David Olifard, still a young man of about thirty 
years old when the reign of David I. came to an end. 
David had been thirty years on the throne, and he had 
done for Scotland the mighty work of a king. He 
reigned during a time of stupendous change, when 
Scotland changed from a collection of Celtic tribes to a 
feudal nation. It was his life's work to accomplish this. 
Only supreme wisdom and courage could have stood 
by the task in such an age but he was a man among 
men. To David Olifard, his servant, the King's death 
brought change indeed. It had been his privilege to 
live with a master mind, now he owed allegiance to 
a boy of eleven Malcolm the Maiden, grandson to 
King David, who only lived till 1165. 

All through the early reigns " the King was the 
fountain of Justice, and the supreme judge of his people." 
The King sat at the gate of his palace, and judged the 
causes brought before him. His people brought to him 
their wrongs for redress, their criminals for justice, their 
quarrels for arbitration. It may therefore be imagined 
that the King must have spent a good deal of his time 
travelling from place to place ; every year he made 
progresses about the country holding these courts of 
justice. But life had already in its increasing civilisation 
begun to lose a great deal of the primitive simplicity 
which made such arrangements possible, and when on 
the death of the boy Malcolm, his youngest brother, 
William the Lion, ascended the throne, the population 
and requirements of Scotland had so increased that a 
change was necessary. King William solved the problem 
by creating two great offices he appointed two Justiciars 
whose authority held good for all purposes of justice. 
One Justiciar ruled over the whole of Scotland north of 
the Scotswater ; the other controlled the whole country 
from the Scotswater to the Tweed. The first was called 
Justiciarius Scotiae, the other Justiciarius Laudoniae. 
Like most innovations of the time, the office was of 


Norman origin, and it was natural that Norman knights 
should be appointed to fill the post. The family of 
Comyn held the Justiciary of the northern district, while 
David Olifard was appointed Justiciar of the Lothians. 
The title gives little idea of the immense power conferred 
by the appointment. It placed David in the position 
of dictator, with powers of life and death and almost 
supreme authority over half a kingdom. He ranked next 
to the Crown, taking precedence of every one but the 
King's brother. Taken in conjunction with his feudal 
powers as owner of very large estates, the office made 
of him the greatest dignity in Scotland. 

William the Lion was twenty-two when his brother 
Malcolm died, and it is easy to see how he may have 
leaned on the help of his father's friend then a man of 
forty to guide him a little in the difficult times. If so, 
he was fated to have only five years of his help, for 
David Olifard died about 1170, and never lived to see 
King William ride away on his unfortunate raid into 
England, to be taken prisoner at Alnwick by Henry II. 
of England. Happy for David Olifard, and for King 
David his master, that neither lived to see the day 
when a King of Scotland made a base bargain with the 
English. William had been sent as a prisoner to Falaise 
a strong castle on the Norman coast and here, in 
1174, was exacted from him the disgraceful agreement 
in which he acknowledged himself to hold his ancient 
kingdom as a fieff from the English Crown. It was 
a base betrayal of Scotland ; but probably the twenty- 
one Scots knights, who were with the King in his 
imprisonment, were powerless to prevent it. Among 
the twenty - one was Walter Olifard, the son and 
heir of David. All the knights were held as hostages 
until the chief Scottish castles should be surrendered to 
the English King, and all were forced to acknowledge 
themselves liegemen to King Henry, and to forswear 
allegiance to King William, should he prove false to 
England. The date of Walter Olifard's birth has not 
come to light ; but at the time of this imprisonment he 


was married. His wife was Christian, daughter of 
Ferteth, Earl of Strathearn. Like many other knights 
of Norman descent, he chose a wife from the old Celtic 
nobility. As her dowry she brought him the lands of 
Strageath in Perthshire, and this is the first record of 
Olifards owning lands there. 

Walter and Christian had two sons. Before he could 
be released from Falaise, Walter had to give his eldest 
son, Walter, as hostage. The wrong was undone before 
many years were passed, for, when Richard the Lion 
Heart became King of England in 1189, one of his first 
acts was to abolish the Treaty of Falaise, and to restore 
all the liberties of Scotland. At the time Olifard had long 
been at home in Scotland. Among a great many others 
he witnessed a charter about the year 1176, which is 
now in the Cask charter chest. Walter held the great 
office of Justiciar of the Lothians as his father had done, 
and appears as such in a charter signed in 1178. The 
office, however, was not a hereditary one. It seems to 
be certain that though David Olifard, his father, was 
not an eldest son, he must have inherited some of the 
Olifard estates in England, for his son, Walter, was in 
possession of the lands of Lilford in Northamptonshire. 
King John took them away in 1216 probably in 
revenge for Olifard's stout resistance when John made 
his inroad on the Borders. But in Scotland the Olifards 
increased in power and influence. The death of King 
William in 1214 made no difference in the royal 
favour, and Olifard served the young son, Alexander II., 
as he had served his father. 1 Walter Olifard died soon 
after 1223. His son, Walter, succeeded him in the 
family estates, and also was granted the office of Justiciar 
of the Lothians. Both he and his father would by this 
time have considerable interests in Perthshire through 
the wife and mother, and the lands of Strageath. 

1 In June 1220 Alexander, King of Scotland, swore on his soul to marry 
Johanna, the eldest sister of Henry III., at Michaelmas next, if not then, her 
sister, Isabella. Walter Olifard signs this contract at York. 

In 1221 he witnesses the grant by Alexander II. to his Queen of her dowry. 
He witnessed at least seventy Royal Charters. (Bain's Documents, vol. i. ). 


The two great families next to the throne were the 
Comyns and the Olifards. Linked by marriages with 
the Celtic families they were powerful, apart from their 
positions as Justiciars. The Comyns seem to have been 
great landowners before the Olifards took root in Perth- 
shire. The mistake of the Celtic kings had from the 
first lain in the granting of huge tracts of land to nobles 
for territory was to be the one foundation of power, and 
to yield territory was to yield also control of men and 
arms, and all the necessaries of war. The feudal power 
of the landowners became the source of endless unrest. 
At the word of the Chief the lands were laid waste ; it 
needed only his word to start the foray, the raid for 
cattle, or the burnings of revenge. He could effect with 
a word more than the kings could attain in years of 
effort. The struggle went on from the first early glimmer- 
ings of history to the time of Queen Mary ; not one of 
the kings of Scots could call himself King of Scotland. 
All land was held nominally under the King; but he 
had not the strength, nor the command of men, to resume 
his own property if his vassals proved rebellious. It is 
wonderful that under this system Scotland ever emerged 
into an individual nation, yet, during the reigns of 
Alexander II. and his son, the kingdom advanced steadily 
in well-being. 

Walter Olifard, the third Justiciar of the family, died 
in 1242. He lies in the Chapter-house of Melrose, having 
held the high office for twenty years. The task had 
its difficulties. A contemporary chronicler tells us that 

" Scotland and Galloway are a wilderness and grisly 
waste ; the men are wild, and have neither grithe nor 
sibbe ; they eat unsodden flesh like wolves ; they go clad 
in rough skins as if they * came out of hell.' '' 

This picture is, doubtless, somewhat overdrawn ; still, 
there is no room for doubt that in the mixed population 
of French, English, Scots, and Gallwegians, south of the 
Forth, over which Olifard held sway, there were all the 
elements of many quarrels and crimes, and that the position 


of judge was a difficult one. David, who succeeded 
Walter, was presumably his son, and possibly the same 
David who witnessed Royal Charters in 1233-1234. He 
gave grants to the Church, and died before 1253. His 
wife was Dervorgilla of the Munfichet family, who was 
alive in 1300. David's property passed to Walter de 
Moravia, first of the Murrays of Bothwell. 1 

William Olifard was, perhaps, a younger son of David. 
He had two sons, Adam and William ; one of these 
brothers may have been the father of Sir William and Sir 
Philip, who each had a son William. Both these cousins 
became knights, and played distinguished parts in the 
history of the times. 

All these happenings were before the days when the 
Olifards held the lands of Gask, and they only concern 
this history because of this stock came those who have 
made it a name to be remembered. No record of Gask 
could be written without the stories of David Olifard 
and his descendants. All record is silent as to the owner- 
ship of Gask in those far-off days, while the Olifards 
were still French knights, and Anglo - Saxon, and men 
of the Lothians. 

1 Scots Peerage, vol. vi. p. 530. 



THE lands of Cask lie between the Ochil and the 
Grampian Hills, and east and west are the towns of 
Crieff and Perth. Upon the southern slopes descending 
to the Earn are spread the peaceful glories of Strathearn, 
and to the north rise the wild outline of the Highland 
hills. The beautiful woods, the fertile fields, the country 
with all its variety of rising and falling ground these 
are the characteristics of Gask as we know it to-day ; 
but in the old times who can say if forest was there 
if the fields were rich with crops, or a tangle of under- 
growth ? Then, as now, along the summit of the ridge 
east and west, flanked by fortified outposts, of which 
the traces still remain, ran the Roman road, and it is 
probable that, from the situation of the land, it was under 
cultivation at a very early date; but nothing can be 
known. It is only certain that the everlasting hills were 
there, and the noble rise of the crest above the winding 
river Earn. It was Gask even then, and its main 
aspect was, as it now is, and as it will be, till the day 
when the features of the world are re-cast or destroyed. 

Voices and footsteps sounded in Gascon Hall, and 
in that still older stronghold of which now no trace 
remains, long before the days of the Olifards, long before 
the unrecorded hour of the building of the grey walls 
of the Old House. 

Gask at one time may have been a single possession 
one large estate under a Celtic owner; but since the 
beginning of record there have been two Gasks side by 



side, Findo Gask and Trinity Gask, and these two have 
never been in the possession of one man. 

Looking first at the history of Findo Gask, the earliest 
mention is found in a Papal Bull of 1203, 1 confirming a 
gift by Orable, mother of Sir Saher de Quincey, to the 
monastery of Inchaffray of eight acres of Gask.* It is 
known that Orable was the daughter and heiress of Nes, 
son of William. Among the twenty-one knights who 
went from Scotland to Falaise to share the imprisonment 
of William the Lion was one knight named Nes, son of 
William. He was a man of considerable power and 
distinction, and may have been of the native race which 
had held the lands of Gask from time immemorial. His 
ownership is traceable in the old records which spell the 
name Gasknes or Afe?gask. The Celtic Orable followed 
the fashion of the day and married into one of the great 
Norman families. Her son, Saher de Quincey, Earl of 
Winchester, gave the church of Nesgask to the hospital 
of Brackley in Northamptonshire, 3 and added more land 
to his mother's gift of land to Inchaffray. Roger, the 
son and heir of Saher, gave the demesne of Gask to 
Brackley Hospital for the endowment of three chaplaincies 
about the year 1220. Roger de Quincey died in 1263 
and, leaving no son, his properties were divided among 
his daughters. Of these, Elizabeth married Alexander 
Comyn, Earl of Buchan, and so brought Gasknes into 
the Comyn family. The lands were transferred to another 
branch the Comyns of Badenoch, who had possession 
in 1278. Comyn forfeited Gasknes to Robert Bruce, 
and the King granted it to Sir William Oliphant, whose 
son, Walter, also held the properties of Gasknes and 
Dupplin from the Crown. An Inchaffray deed, dated 
1358, mentions the name Nesgask the last time it 
appears in records. 

Of Trinity Gask, the lands lying up the river to the 
west of Nes or Findo Gask, it is known that about the 

1 Inchaffray Charters, Scot. Hist. Soc., p. 158. 

2 This piece of land is now the farm of Clathybeg. 

3 Inchaffray Charters, p. 78. 


year 1221 the church of Holy Trinity of Gask (sometimes 
called Gask-Cristi) was given to Inchaffray by Gilbert, 
Earl of Strathearn. This earl's second wife was Ysenda 
of Gask. She had two brothers, Richard and Geoffrey 
of Gask, perhaps descendants of the native family. The 
Inchaffray charters afford one interesting glimpse of 

In 1221-1223 Ysenda gives a grant of land 1 in these 
terms : 

" Ysenda, Spouse of Earl Gilbert of Strathearn, makes 
known to all the sons of Holy Mother Church that she 
has, with the consent of her lord, the Earl, given to the 
Abbott and Canons of Inchaffray 5 acres of her vill 
of Abercairny, which she had perambulated to the Abbott 
and Canons in the presence of Richard Knight and 
Geoffrey of Gask, her brothers . . . and many others. 
To be held in perpetual alms, free of all secular service, 
with common pasture for 12 kine and 2 horses. . . . 
Inasmuch as at the time this Charter was made she 
had no seal of her own, she has sealed it with the seal 
of Abraham, Bishop of Dunblane (who was witness of 
this gift) which seal he lent for the occasion." 

It is said 2 that the lands of Trinity Gask went through 
an heiress to the Hurrays of Tullibardine, but this 
could only refer to part of the estate, for in 1266 Malise, 
Earl of Strathearn, gave the convent of Inchaffray leave 
to quarry stones at Nethergask with two acres of ground 
for the monks' workshops, showing that the Strathearn 
family were in possession, though it seems that Murrays 
held Nethergask 3 from the Earls of Strathearn, till the 
Earldom was merged in the Crown in the year 1455. 

Gascon Hall, the ruins of which are still to be 
seen by the river Earn, was the Manor House of 
Trinity Gask. 

Nesgask must have had its own stronghold probably 
a castle near the church, on the site of the present Old 

1 Inchaffray Charters, p. 192. * Nesbit. 

3 At this time Gask is sometimes called in the records " Gask Murray." 


House. A chapel, St Findocas, close to the river south 
of Nesgask, gave the lands their final name of Findogask. 1 

Between 1214 and 1249, the Olifards became firmly 
established in Perthshire. The Ruthvens, Grahams, 
Murrays, and Drummonds, whose fortunes were to be 
again and again interlaced in the times to come with 
those of the Olifards, all came to Strathearn, too, at this 
period. But the Olifards kept their interest in the 
Lothians. William Olifard appears on record in 1230, 
and later, witnessing various charters, and in 1247 is still 
styled Justiciar of the Lothians. 2 After this we come 
to the record of the greatest Olifard of all William 
whose name first appears in a charter dated 1294. The 
name of Olifard had many variants. For the sake of 
convenience in these pages, the original Olifard is 
retained till after 1306, when Oliphant is substituted. 
But it will be understood that the change was gradual. 
The spelling of names was, to a large extent, capricious 
in early days, and depended more in the taste of the 
chronicler than on any accepted form. According to 
the charters the name of Olifard became Holifarth, 
Olifarth, Olifart, Olifat, Olyfart, Olyfant, Olyfaunt, 
before it reached its definite and lasting version of 

The Olifards had now been settled in Scotland for a 
hundred and fifty years. They had yielded service during 
the reigns of seven sovereigns, had seen the native line of 
Malcolm Canmore come to an end, and the end of the 
Celtic dynasty. They had endured the storms of an 
interregnum. They had witnessed the birth of a people, 
as Scotland rose out of the darkness of her warring tribes 
into the dignity of a nation. They had seen the great 

1 For all the foregoing details as to the ownership of Findo and Trinity Gask, 
the writer is indebted to the researches of W. Maitland Thomson. 

2 Philip Olifard,, a brother, witnesses in 1278 "two grants of John Comyn 
at Gasknes, near Perth." One of these grants throws a curious light on the 

" John Comyne, eon of the late John Comyne, quits claim for ever, in 
pure and perpetual alms, to the Abbot and Canons of Inchaffray of Gillecrist 
Rothe, sou of Gyllehtheny, with his issue born or to be born, with all right 
which Comyn had in him or his issue. Given at Gasknes Monday next, before 
the feast of St Mary Magdalene, 1278," Inchaffray Charters, p. 219. 



enemy of Scotland, " the hammer of the Scots" called upon 
to settle the quarrel for the Crown. Now they were to 
take part in the great contest with Edward of England. 
The name of Olifard was to be identified with the struggle 
for Scottish independence, and was to achieve memor- 
able glory. 

The triumph of Edward of England had swept over 
Scotland like a flood. Castle after castle was stormed 
and taken. The outposts of Scottish independence 
were down, when the Scots saw Edward carry away 
three of their most sacred symbols, the Coronation Stone, 
the Holy Rood, and the deposed King, John Balliol. 
Among the nobles was no organised resistance. There 
were plenty of powerful nobles in Scotland who did not 
resent the idea of vassalage to England, men of Norman 
blood, to whom an oath of fealty seemed natural and 
easy no wonder the English King reckoned on their 
submission ; but he had also to reckon with William 
Wallace, and the passionate resistance of a section of 
Scottish people, with the rousing of the Celtic blood 
against vassalage to a foreign power, and the final 
awakening of a patriot spirit in a nation that suddenly 
knew itself to be a nation. Yet for a while the conquests 
of England went on, and there was a dark time when 
Scotland was a subjugated country, when the English 
troops swept through the towns and villages with fire 
and sword, and it seemed as if every stronghold must 

Edward I. started for his fifth campaign in Scotland 
in June 1303. His French Queen, whom he had married 
three years before, went with him, or joined him there. 

The first mention of any dwelling-house at Gask is in 
the record of a visit the English King and Queen paid 
there in August 1304. They were at Gask twice the 
first time in 24th October 1303. 1 Of this visit nothing 
is recorded except that the King wrote or sent a letter 
from there. Of the second visit we have the following 
record : s 

1 Privy Seal. 2 Bain's Documents, vol. iv. p. 475. 



" To the Owner of West Cask, the kind host of the 
King and Queen at Gask (this is sent) as the King's own 
gift in return for the loss which his host sustained in the 
ransacking and plundering of his house crops and other 
property by various people as a result of the hospitality 
which he showed to the King and Queen and other 
persons of importance in their suite, while on their way 
from Stirling to the town of St John of Perth, and on 
their return thence in the direction of England, at the 
beginning of August in the present year. Given under 
the King's own hand at Gask on the 5th of August." 

The house must have been one of the strongholds 
on the Trinity Gask estate, perhaps Gascon Hall then 
in the possession of the Earl of Strathearn or William 
Murray of Tullibardine, who were both on the English 
side ; but according to the wording of the letter, the 
King's host was a tenant, and not a proprietor. Putting 
aside the honour of the visit, which was doubtless great, 
the party do not seem to have been desirable guests, 
the after-consequences of their stay being violence and 
destruction. King Edward was in the full glow of 
triumph. It was twenty days after his final reduction 
of Stirling, the last of the great fortresses, and it seemed 
as if Scotland was indeed to be his own. 

The same record gives a human and interesting touch 
to the circumstances of King Edward's visit to Gask. 

"To the seven women who met the King on the 
road between Gask and Uggelville, 1 and who sang in 
his presence as they were accustomed to do in the time 
of Lord Alexander, late King of Scotland (this is sent), as 
the King's own gift." 

There is so much told in the simple statement. 
Alexander III. had been dead for eighteen years the 
tragic ending to his desperate ride along the coast of the 
Forth had been the end of the peace and prosperity of 

1 Ogilvy Castle, some miles from Gask, in the parish of Blackford, then 
probably in the possession of the Earl of Strathearn. 


Scotland. The seven women remembered him ; not only 
the stories of his wisdom, his gentleness, his courage, but 
they kept the actual memory of his face and his bearing 
as they met him on the road, and sang to him. They had 
been young women then, and Scotland had been at peace. 
Loyalty had seemed natural and easy towards the man 
who had been indisputably King. Since the fateful 
ending of Alexander's family, during the endless struggles 
of Balliols and Comyns, the bewildered peasantry never 
clearly knew to whom allegiance was due. Now it seemed 
as if a man had been found strong enough to make himself 
King. So the seven women met Edward on the road and 
sang, offering to the Conqueror the incense he most valued. 

A good deal is known about Sir William Olifard before 
the day of his defence of Stirling Castle. He appears first 
as witness to a charter by the Earl of Athole, dated before 

His next recorded appearance is at the siege of 
Dunbar, also in 1296, one of the most important castles 
in the land. The Scottish leaders had taken possession, 
and prepared a desperate resistance. Seven Scottish 
nobles, thirty-one knights, and a small band of followers 
had in desperation turned out the English garrison and 
held the castle. Edward sent ten thousand men and a 
thousand horse to dislodge them. The ensuing battle 
was a disaster to the Scots, whose mad courage was the 
cause of their defeat. The garrison in the castle had no 
choice but to surrender to King Edward in person. A 
great multitude of prisoners, gentle and simple, were at 
the mercy of the victorious Edward. All the prisoners 
of rank were sent over the Border and imprisoned in 
scattered castles in Wales and England. 

William Olifard was among those knights who were 
taken prisoner, ignominiously tied two and two on horses, 
and carried in irons in carts across the Border. There 
were two William Olifards 1 in English prisons at this 

1 The two Sir Williams who took part in the War of Independence were first 
cousins. The course of their separate careers is traced in the Scots Peerage, 
vol. ii. p. 531, 


time a knight at Devizes, and a squire at Rochester. 
Both were liberated in 1297 with other Scots, on the 
surety of Athole and others. Sir William was free on 
the 8th September, and on the 12th there is an order that 
his lands be restored to him. With other Scottish leaders, 
Olifard received his liberty on two conditions, that he 
should give his son as hostage, and that he should serve 
in King Edward's army oversea. Edward was at the 
time fighting ingloriously in Flanders, and no doubt 
would feel satisfaction in compelling such distinguished 
men as Comyn, Simon Fraser, Strathearn, and Olifard to 
follow his banner. What actual part they took in the 
fighting is not known, nor is there record of Olifard's 
return to Scotland ; but he is next found at Stirling, 
where he was appointed Governor in 1299. 

Through all the history of Scottish wars the position 
of the impregnable rock of Stirling Castle overlooking 
wide valleys, commanding the Scotswater and both the 
Lothians and the Highlands, has made of it the centre 
of contest, a sure refuge, and the key of many a perilous 
enterprise. The Scots knew its value when they besieged 
and turned out the English garrison and its commandant, 
John Sampson, in 1299, and Stirling was their chief 
hope when Edward had turned northwards again in 
1303, and marched triumphantly from one conquered 
fortress to another all through the land. Practically there 
was no resistance, no need for burning and devastating ; 
the humiliation of Scotland was too abject, the subjection 
too complete. Twice had Edward passed by Stirling, 
once as the army swept northwards, and once on his 
return when he took up headquarters at Dunfermline. 
But the question of the reduction of this great stronghold 
could not be indefinitely postponed, and in April 1304 
Edward set himself in earnest to bring it under his 
flag. His first step towards success was to go himself 
to superintend the siege. Probably when he set forth 
with his army to surround it, he had little idea that 
he was to spend three months before the rock, using 
all means in his power to reduce the garrison bringing 


all his resources of war, all his clever generalship, to 
bear on the grim defiance and endurance of the defenders. 
The end was from the first inevitable. It was a fore- 
gone conclusion that it must fall, yet it is a story of 
unequalled courage, and endurance. 

" Ane nobill Knicht hecht Williame Olifeir 
Ane man all tyme of greit auctoritie 
Of Striruling castell capitane than wes he 
That starke castell stude on ane roche so strang 
This ilk Williame had keipit than full lang 
Again King Edward as I schew you heir 
Quhilk seigit it ane quarter of ane year." l 

Edward had at his disposal thirteen engines, large 
and cumbrous weapons, then in use to batter down walls, 
and afterwards he caused two others to be made, capable 
of hurling stones and lead weighing three hundred pounds. 
These were called the ram and the war wolf. Greek 
fire was sent also from England. The rock was sur- 
rounded ; all communication with the outside world was 
cut off. Edward held Stirling in the hollow of his 
hand ; he had but to pound long enough with his 
engines, and await the results of starvation and misery 
within the walls. 

Within there were but two hundred men. Among 
them were several Olifards, the Governor, Sir William, 
the Knight of Dupplin, and Hugh and Walter Olifard. 
Besides the fighters there were unfortunately other 
inmates of the Castle, thirteen women, wives and sisters 
of the knights, who were destined to share the frightful 
privations of a three months' siege. It was on their 
account that the surrender was finally made. From the 
first, both men and women must have known that the 
situation was desperate, and that nothiRg remained but 
a desperate resistance. 

The first act in the tragedy was the King's summons 
to Olifard to surrender. Olifard replied that he had 
received the guardianship of the castle from Sir John 

1 Boece, The Bulk of the Chronicles of Scotland. 


de Soulis as Governor of Scotland, and that it would 
be to lose his honour as a knight to surrender without 
communicating with De Soulis, who was then in France. 
King Edward refused to grant any time of delay. He 
sent an imperious message : " Defend the castle at your 

As long as resistance was possible, Olifard, with his 
heroic garrison, did defend it. Imagination pictures 
them in the struggle, day after day, with sad but still 
valorous hearts, as the spring turned to summer, watch- 
ing from the ramparts the majestic figure of the old 
King, as he moved hither and thither among his hosts, 
dealing death and destruction with his archers and 
engines of war. In spite of death, disease, and despair 
within the walls, defiance was flung forth hour after 
hour, day after day. Huge stones were discharged from 
the fortifications, and one of these once knocked over 
the horse on which the King rode. The old chronicles 
record another escape of the King from death which 
they call miraculous. 

"On one occasion Satan had instigated one of the 
Scots to draw an arblast and aim an arrow against the 
Lord's anointed, who was riding exposed in the front. 
A devil's angel sped the shaft in so far that it pierced 
a chink of the mail, but then one of heaven's angels came 
to the rescue and stopped it from penetrating the sacred 
body of the conquering King." 

The King, however, must have been unaware of the 
divine intervention. He was very angry, and himself 
pulling out the arrow, turned towards the castle with a 
fierce threat that he would yet hang the traitor who 
sped that bolt. 

The unexpectedly prolonged resistance of the garrison 
caused the English to run short of munitions of war. 
By the 20th of May the besieged had inflicted consider- 
able loss on the besiegers, who had made no progress 
towards victory. It was then that Edward sent to 
England for the extra engines, and also for all the 


ballistae, quarrels, bows and arrows that could be collected. 
He also stripped the lead from the roofs of churches, 
and from the monasteries of St Andrews and Brechin, 1 
so as to continue the assault. Edward said the defenders 
acted like mad dogs. They were brave and desperate 
men. We know the names of some who were there 
besides William Olifard, who is called by the English 
chroniclers of the day " a doughty knight, one among 
a thousand." 1 Other names among the heroic defenders 
are Polwarth, Haliburton, Ramsay and Napier, John de 
Coulgask, Thomas de Clemel, and two ecclesiastics, 
William de Keith and Peter de Edereston. What held 


them to their post is indeed matter for conjecture ; they 
knew from the first what the end must be, that no 
rescue from outside was possible no end to suspense, no 
relieving force, for such a force did not exist. There 
was no object for their tenacious loyalty. The King, 
never more than the shadow of a King, was oversea. 
The liberties of Scotland were underfoot. When the 
sun rose on yet another day of struggle, when the dark- 
ness fell on their increasing misery, they could hope for no 
sound of marching feet in the plains below, no approach- 
ing flag of relief, no sound of battle on their behalf. 
There was no royal name to pass from lip to lip to keep 
alive and strengthen the passion of the day's endurance. 
Only one name could have risen in their thoughts as a 
watchword and it seemed as if even the star of Wallace 
had waned. But the work of Wallace was done in 
Scotland the patriot spirit he awakened in his country- 
men inspired the defence of Stirling, and nerved the 
last men to defend the last stronghold of the un- 
conquered Scotland of old. 

The unequal contest came to an end at last ; but 
not till their walls were cast down, the scaling ladders 
fixed, the breach in the inner walls already filled with 
English soldiers. Starvation, disease, and the countless 
miseries endured by a handful of beings, utterly cut off 

1 He afterwards paid for this. 

2 Mat de Westminster. 


from relief of every kind, won the victory for England. 
Reduced to despair by the death of comrades, weakened 
by suffering and privation, maddened witnesses of the 
distresses of their thirteen women, the defenders of 
Stirling capitulated at last. They had fought for three 
months, and now numbered only one hundred and forty 
souls. On the 13th July, Olifard at length consented 
to meet with Edward's envoys in the valley below. 
Sir Eustace le Poer and Sir John de Mowbray were 
sent by the King to the gates to summon the Governor, 
Sir William Olifard. Before making an unconditional 
surrender, Olifard made one stipulation that he and his 
knights should be brought into the King's presence. His 
request was granted, and Olifard returned to the castle 
having made surrender. The keys of the castle were 
then flung over the wall and received by the English 
Vice-Constable. Then emerged from the gates the sad 
procession of the knights who had fought so long and 
so hopelessly, the victims of those three long months 
of rigorous siege. Barefooted, bareheaded, stripped to 
their shirts, " like thieves," they filed singly through the 
castle gates, through the ranks of the victorious army, 
on to the tent of the King of England, where he 
grimly awaited them surrounded by those nobles who 
were to witness the last act of the tragedy. Olifard 
came first, and behind him his twenty-five knights, sad 
and noble figures, in spite of all indignity and defeat. 
They rendered themselves to the King's mercy. 

" Speak not of my mercy," he said ; " speak only of 
my will." 

" We render us to thy will." 

" My will is to tear you limb from limb and 
hang you ; if ye like not that get you back into the 

Olifard, on his knee before him, presented a further 
petition on behalf of himself and his comrades. The 
King turned to the little band of knights. " And what 
do you ask?" 

" We are worthy of death, but take us to thy will." 


The old records say that the King was moved, and 
turned away for a little space ; then giving the rein to 
better feelings than had prompted his first fury, he ordered 
that all the knights should be imprisoned, but without 
chains, in different castles in England. To Olifard and his 
companions all the bitterness of defeat must have lain 
in the belief that, as the last stronghold of Scotland had 
yielded, all the strenuous endeavours against fate had 
been in vain. The pageant of their submission was the 
usual custom when any beleaguered garrison capitulated. 
It probably meant no more to the victims than the fierce 
vexation of an undignified feudal observance; but it 
must have seemed to them as i* Scotland "lay at the 
proud foot of a conqueror." Theirs was no prophetic 
insight to look forward along the ten stormy years that 
were to bring the star of Bruce into the ascendant, and 
see the whole policy of Edward rendered void, and 
Stirling at last avenged on the field of Bannockburn. 

On the long journey from the ruined fort of Stirling, 
all through England till the Tower of London was 
reached, the thoughts of Sir William Olifard must have 
dwelt on a fruitless effort and a conquered country. 
Seven years before he had travelled northwards from his 
prison at Devizes, hastening homewards to bear his part 
in the struggles of his country ; he had held and lost 
his post in an acute crisis of national history, and now 
again the long south road stretched before him, again an 
English prison awaited him. 

Olifard was destined to spend four years in the Tower 
of London. From accounts in the Tower records he 
seems to have reached his prison on 29th September, 
two months after the fall of Stirling. 

We find a record on 3rd February, 1304-1305 : 

" Compotus of the Sheriffs of Essex and Hertford 
on the morrow of Purification, 79 shillings and a penny 
expenses of bringing Hugh Olifard, Walter Olifard and 
others captured at Stirling from there to Colchester." 1 

1 Bain, vol. ii., doc., 1644. 


There were now four Olifards in English prisons 
Sir William in the Tower of London, William Olifard 
of Dumplin at Walingford Castle, Hugh Olifard at 
Colchester, Walter Olifard at Winchester. Yet another 
prisoner was Elizabeth Olifard, the sister of Sir William. 
She may have been one of the thirteen women who 
stood the siege of Stirling. 

"The King commands the Abbess and convent of 
Barking to deliver Elizabeth, sister of Sir William Olifard, 
Knight, at present in their custody, to Henry de Lacy, 
Earl of Lincoln, to whom he has committed her." 1 

The King writes again to the Abbess of Barking, 
3rd November 1306: 

"Learning that Hugh Olifard a Scottish rebel has 
escaped from Colchester Castle . . . and taken refuge 
in her Church of Barking, he commands that they be 
safely watched there and prevented escaping on pain of 
forfeiture of her lands and goods." 2 

Then on 22nd January, the King pardons John de 
Bassingbum, late Sheriff of Essex, for letting Hugh 
Olifard, a Scottish prisoner, escape from the Castle of 
Colchester while in his custody, as he pursued Hugh so 
manfully that he "retook and lodged him again in the 
castle where he now is." 3 

The prisoners seem to have moved from castle to 
castle. Walter was at Wynton Castle from April 1305 
to Michaelmas 1306, and again in the year following. 
In 1307 the King commands the Sheriffs of Norfolk, 
Southampton, Devon, and Cornwall to pay the expenses 
of William Olyfart and other Scottish prisoners in the 
Castles of Norwich, Winchester, Exeter, and Launceston. 
The expenses allowed were generally fourpence a day. 

The following entry is of interest : 

"1st December 1304-1305. Delivered to Ralph de 

1 Bain, vol. ii., doc., 1885. 2 Ibid, doc., 1668. 

3 Ibid, doc., 1885. 


Sandwich, constable of the Tower, for the daily sustenance 
of Sir William Olyfar, Knight, a prisoner there, for a 
year since 29th September 1304, 6, 16s. and 15 shillings 
delivered to John de Segrave in August last for carriage 
of the body of William de Waleys to Scotland." ] 

These four years of Olifard's imprisonment brought 
great changes to Scotland of which some echo may have 
reached him. The death of the champion Wallace the 
awakener of his people -- the universal submission of 
Scotland, the rise of Robert Bruce, Lord of Annandale, 
who quitted suddenly the English Court and made his 
stand against the absorption of Scotland. The Red 
Comyn was slain. The Scottish people, perhaps realising 
where lay safety and hope, rose in a tumult of enthusiasm 
to follow where Bruce might lead. Within two years of 
the surrender of Stirling the Crown of Scotland was on 
the head of Robert Bruce. The great aim of Edward I. 
the fusion of two nations into one was at an end. It 
was the signal for Edward's final mighty effort against 
his lifelong foe, when starting on his last enterprise, he 
passionately exacted the last vow never to be fulfilled 
that in death he should be carried to Scotland, and 
never buried whilst it remained unsubdued. 

The adventures and successes of Bruce make the 
history of Scotland during the years that followed. 
Olifard was liberated in May 1308. When Edward II. 
had been for a year on the throne, he sent his Royal 
order for the release of " our beloved and faithful William 
Olifard." Sir Hugh de Despenser brought the warrant, 
and four English knights 2 stood surety for Olifard's 
loyalty. So he set forth, but not homewards at once, 
for he went first to Lincoln, there, by Edward's order, 
to set free four of his fellow fighters at Stirling John 
de Coulgask, Patrick de Polwarth, Thomas de Lillay, and 
Thomas de Clemel ; and the five proceeded northwards 
together, in the service of King Edward. 

1 Bain, vol. iv., doc., 1812. 

3 Walter de Burghdon, Odard Heroii of Northumberland, Thomas de 
Rychemunde, and Ivo de Aldeburgh. 


It must have seemed a strange world to Olifard as 
he rode back into Scotland a Scotland again full of 
hope, again capable of a tenacious struggle for liberty, 
again ready to follow the lead of a great man and a 
great King. But one remembrance would rise above 
all others the death of the Red Comyn, and it is certain 
that fierce resentment at his fate must have filled the 
mind of Comyn's kinsman and friend. Through genera- 
tions the Comyns had been linked with the Olifards. 
Whilst he had been shut up in the Tower, the deed had 
been done, and the murderer sat on the ancient throne 
of Scotland. To Olifard it would seem as if the Red 
Comyn had a better right to the throne than Bruce. 
He would feel as if the sympathies of his country had 
better lie with English Edward than with the fierce 
adventurer who had grasped the Crown. 

Yet, in spite of all these considerations, it seems 
surprising to find William Olifard Warden of Perth, in 
1311, holding that position in the name of Edward II. 
of England. The records of the times are full of such 
inexplicable changes, such shifting interests. There is no 
record, except in the lives of William Wallace and of 
Edward I., of a consistent and unbending devotion either 
to a man or a cause. Bruce had helped England to take 
Stirling from Olifard. Now Olifard helped the English 
to keep Bruce out of Perth. Years afterwards he received 
grants of land from the Bruce, supported him staunchly, 
and married one of his sons to the King's daughter. In 
times so unsettled, so insecure, the minds of men seemed 
plastic, easily made to sway towards new convictions, and 
certainly a change of masters was considered no disgrace. 
Edward II. was in London when he entrusted the care 
of the fortress of Perth to Sir William Olifard. Several 
letters are extant from the King promising support and 
supplies, and praising his loyalty. Perth was an extremely 
important post. Stirling was again held for England, not 
to be wrested away till two years later. Bruce knew 
that Perth with its fine fortifications was second only in 
importance to Stirling, and that it must be in his hands 


before he could call the Highlands his. The great stone 
towers, the high walls, and the protection of a broad 
and deep moat, made it a place of strength. Bruce 
beleaguered it for six weeks. There was no sign of 
yielding on the part of Olifard and his garrison, and it 
fell at last by a ruse. Bruce drew off his men as if he 
had abandoned the siege, having first ascertained the 
depth of the moat and its most fordable point. Then he 
and his forces lay in hiding for eight days in the woods 
of Methven, where the time was spent in fashioning 
ladders to scale the walls. At the end of a week Olifard, 
having seen no sign of the enemy, naturally allowed a 
relaxed vigilance. The besiegers returned in the night. 

"No cry of sentinels was heard from the walls, and 
Bruce himself, like Jeanne d'Arc at Paris, fathomed the 
moat with his lance-shaft. He discovered a place where 
the water was throat-high, he seized a ladder, and led 
the advance. A French knight in his company crossed 
himself, for the marvel that the King 

" ' In such peril has him set 
To win a wretched hamlet.' 

Then he ran forward, leaped into the ditch, and followed 
the King. The town was lightly won, with no massacre, 
and Bruce, according to his regular policy, levelled the 
walls." 1 

The whole garrison, Scots and English, fell into the 
hands of Bruce. It is true there was no general massacre, 
but all the Scots leaders were put to death, with the 
exception of Sir William Olifard, who, according to the 
old chronicler, Lanercost, "was bound and sent to the 
Isles." Later research has, however, sought to prove 
this an error. William Olifard was in England on the 
10th of March following, 2 and had a safe conduct to go 
to Scotland and return on the 21st October of the 
same year. 3 

1 Andrew Lang's Hist, of Scot., vol. i. p. 216. 

2 Exchequer D. R. Miscellanea, folio 28. 

3 Ibid, folio 339. But again there may be confusion here between the two 


During the years between the fall of Perth and the 
time of Bannockburn there appears to be no further 
record of the doings of Sir William Olifard. When he 
re-appears in history it is as a supporter of Robert the 
Bruce. When the fate of Scotland hung in the balance 
he had perhaps realised that in the power of Bruce lay 
the hopes of the nation's independence. At all events, 
the year after Bannockburn, Sir William Olifaunt (so the 
name was now spelt) witnessed a charter of King Robert 
to Sir Andrew Gray. In December 1317 he received 
large grants of land from Bruce. One charter gives the 
lands of Newtyle and Kinpurnie in Forfarshire, 

" to be held in free Barony with all the liege and native 
men of the said lands, for the performing of the fourth 
part of a knight's service in the King's army." J 

About this time also, Bruce gave by charter to William 

"our beloved and faithful Knight, our whole lands of Muir- 
house, in the Shire of Edinburgh with their pertinents " 

in exchange for a certain piece of land rightfully belong- 
ing to Olifard lying near one of the royal palaces, 
Kincardine Castle, which King Balliol had taken, and 
Bruce desired to retain. In 1326, Bruce gave Ochtertyre 2 
to Olifaunt, 

" for the service of three archers in the King's army and 
Scottish service, use and wont." 

And now also the lands of Cask were conferred upon 

Bannockburn, though it had been a decisive victory 
for Scottish independence by no means gave Robert 

Sir Williams. In the Scots Peerage, vol. vi, p. 531-534, there will be found 
the theory of the death of the first Sir William in his exile, and the subsequent 
exploits of his cousin, Sir William. 

1 This charter is now in the possession of Lord Wharncliffe. 

2 In the Parish of Newtyle, Forfarshire. 


Bruce an undisputed place among the kings of the earth 
and this place he was determined to win. Fourteen years 
were to pass before the King of England acknowledged 
him to be King of Scotland ; and Bruce filled the years 
with fighting, with deeds of daring, with exploits and 
adventures, not only for his own honour, but for the 
unity and freedom of his country. Olifard must often 
have been at his side his " beloved and faithful Knight." 
In the protracted dealings with the Papal Court he also 
bore a part, and the Olifard seal is attached to the 
Remonstrance framed at the great Parliament held at 
Aberbrothok in April 1320, addressed to the Pope 
"the noblest state paper ever framed." 1 

" As long as an hundred of us remain alive, we shall 
spurn the English yoke. It is not for fame, riches, or 
honour that we fight, but for liberty which no honest 
man will lose but with his life. Wherefore, we beseech 
your Holiness to remember that with God there is no 
respect of persons Jew or Greek, Scottish man or 
English man. Deign, therefore, to bid the English 
King be content with England, which was once enough 
for seven kings or more, and bid him leave us quiet 
in our little Scotland, for should your Holiness, by your 
favour, encourage the English, the loss of bodies and 
souls that must follow will be laid to your charge by 
the Most High." 

This powerful appeal had its due effect. The Pope 
acknowledged Bruce as the King of Scotland, and in 
1328, fourteen years after Bannockburn, the King of 
England followed suit. 

Of the closing years of the life of Olifard a little is 
known. He was present at the Parliament held at Holy- 
rood in 1326. He witnessed a charter by Malise, Earl 
of Strathearn, with his neighbours, Walter de Rothewan, 
Malcolm de Dromonde, and John de Moravia. He was 
present when Abercairny was granted to Malise's son- 

" In 1328 he makes a payment to the Sheriff of Perth 

1 The Oliphants iu Scotland, p. xviii. 


for lands which he held in Glenlyon of which the tenth 
penny had been granted to the Crown. He rendered 
an account of his receipts at Newbotle on 16th January 
1329." l 

William Olifard was not fated to outlive his King. 
The great work of his life accomplished, Bruce died in 
June 1329. The last mention of Sir William Olifard was 
in January of that year, and it is known that he died 
on 5th February. He had lived to see with Bruce 
the complete independence of Scotland. It now seemed 
as if the great chivalrous times were over, as if the 
days of exploit and defiance had died with Bruce. Per- 
haps Olifard already saw the change to a less heroic 
period before he lay down for the last time at his home 
of Aberdalgie, looking his last down the splendid vale 
of Strathearn, across his noble acres of Dupplin, to the 
lands of Gask by the winding Earn. The great struggle 
for liberty was over. The impetuous soldier who had 
fought on both sides could look back now and see how 
out of all the disastrous defeats, the dear-bought victories, 
the warring interests, emerged at length a free nation, a 
kingly inheritance for Scotland and her kings to hold 
and cherish. 

The tomb of Sir William Olifard can be seen to-day 
in the church of Aberdalgie, a recumbent figure in stone, 
still showing the exquisite tracery of fifteenth century 
work. The armour is of a date a hundred years later 
than the hero, and the monument must have been raised 
to his memory by a descendant. The beautiful stone 2 lay 
unprotected for centuries over the vault of the Lords 

1 Oliphants in Scotland, p. xxi. 

2 One corner has been broken away, and the stone is split in two across the 
neck and near the feet. These injuries were undoubtedly done by the troops 
of Cromwell. Perth surrendered to his troops 2nd August 1651. In the Kirk 
Session Record of Aberdalgie there is the following entry for 3rd August : "No 
meeting nor preaching, because the enemy Cromwell's forces were ranging 
through all this Parish, and the people fugitive." The troops also burnt 
Aberdalgie Castle. The Rev. John Ferguson of Aberdalgie, who communicated 
this to the writer, once saw an old woman who spoke with one of the masons 
employed in opening the vault of the Lords Oliphant at the instance of some 
one claiming to be the heir to the title. This mason reported that there was 
beautiful work in the vault. 


Oliphant. Laurence Oliphant of Gask in 1780 raised a 
stone canopy to protect it in some measure from the 
weather. In 1904 it was finally decided to save what 
remained of the carving, by carrying the stone slab inside 
the church where it can now be seen. The large stone 
canopy is left to mark the spot, on the edge of a tiny 
glen, which for so many centuries has been his resting- 


" Dominus de Aberdalgie qui 
Obiit quinto die mensis Februarii 
Anno Domini Mill CCC Vicesimi nono." * 

1 " The Oliphant estates, as Sir William left them to his successors, consisted 
of (1) The lands of Dupplin, Hedderwick, and Cranshaws, inherited from his 
Olifard forbears ; (2) The lands of Aberdalgie adjoining Dupplin, Turin near 
Forfar, Glensaugh in the Mearns, Pitkerie in Fife, and perhaps Gallery on the 
Northesk, which appear to have come into the family through a Wishart heiress ; 
(3) Gaskness (now Findogask) in Strathearn, Newtyle, Kinpurnie, Auchtertyre, 
and Balcraig in Forfarshire, Muirhouse in Midlothian, and Hazelhead in Ayrshire, 
which he acquired mostly by new gift from the King." Scots Peerage, vol. 
vi. p. 534. 



SIR WILLIAM OLIFAUNT left a son and heir, Sir Walter, 
who makes no appearance in records till he appends his 
seals to a charter in the year 1352. David II. was on 
the throne. In 1360 his name is found in a resignation 
by Elena de Maxwell, Lady of Kelly, of the lands of 
Kelly into the King's hands, that he might give the 
lands to Walter Olifaunt, her cousin. In 1364 he 
received confirmation of the lands and barony of Cask 
from the King, his brother-in-law. 

" To our beloved and faithful Walter Olifaunt and his 
Spouse, Elizabeth, our beloved sister, the whole of the 
lands of Gask and their pertinents for the reddendum 
of a chaplet of white roses at the feast of the Nativity of 
St John the Baptist, yearly at the Manor place of Gask, 
and three suits at the King's Court at Perth." 

The charter is dated at Edinburgh, the last day of 
February 1364. 1 

At the same time and place King David II. gave 

i This charter, now in the Gask charter chest at Ardblair, has had an interest- 
ing history. When Crauford was writing the " Scottish Peerage" published in 1716, 
James Oliphant of Gask showed him this charter as proving the existence of 
Elizabeth, daughter of Robert I., and her marriage to Sir Walter Oliphant. In 
1746, when the Jacobites were crushed, and the laird of Gask a fugitive, the 
Duke of Cumberland sent Sir Joseph York to ransack the House of Gask, which 
he did, and carried away from the charter-room " a small Japan'd brown box, 
with coat of arms on the lid " containing this charter. It was not recovered for 
forty years. Lawrence Oliphant, after seventeen years of exile, set himself, on 
his return, to recover the precious document, and in 1786 succeeded in tracing it, 
when it was restored to the family. George Graeme, ninth laird of Inchbrakie, 
in a document dated 1814, makes a declaration about the charter. 

" The above charter of the family of Gask was saved from destruction by Sir 
Joseph York, 1745, who afterwards, when Ambassador at London from the Hague, 
returned it to Struan Robertson's brother, Lieutenant-Colonel Robertson, who, 
upon my return from Flanders in the year 1778, gave same charter to me, in 
order to deliver it to my uncle, Lawrence Oliphant of Gask. The foregoing 
circumstances, in as far as regards the recovery of the original charter of the 
family of Gask, I attest. GEORGE GRAEME. (Or and Sable, L. GRAEME)." 



confirmation of other lands to Walter Olifaunt who 
was to hold them in return for a pair of silver spurs on 
the feast of All Saints at Halton of Newtyle with three 
suits at the King's Court at Forfar. Yet another charter 
granted the lands of Ochtertyre and Balcraig for a gift 
of three broad arrows on the feast of St Martin, at 
Ochtertyre and three suits at the King's Court at Forfar. 
Another conveyed the lands of Turynys and Dromy in 
Forfarshire, for the reddendum of a silver penny at Dromy 
at Christmas. Of the same date was also the charter 
of the lands of Aberdalgie and Dupplin, of which the 
reddendum was unam merulam sive speculum at the 
feast of St Peter ad Vincula. With Aberdalgie went 
the privilege of fishing in the water of Earn three days 
a week in forbidden time, and the same privilege was 
also attached to the lands of Cask. 

If Walter Olifaunt still held the great tracts of 
country in Roxburghshire which had once belonged to 
the family, he must, with so much property in Perthshire, 
Forfarshire, and Fife, have been one of the largest land- 
owners in Scotland. Of his wife, a daughter of King 
Robert Bruce, nothing is known except through the 
mention of her name in these charters. The conferring 
of the hand of the King's daughter upon a knight would 
in those days be looked upon as a great honour, even 
though it is possible that the Queen was not her mother. 1 
It raised Olifaunt to a power and dignity equal to his 
highest desires. Of the man himself we know nothing ; 
the time of his birth and death, the events of his life, 
are hidden in an obscurity which is unlikely ever to 
be penetrated, and which seems strange when the 
conspicuous part played by his father in all national 
events is remembered. 

Walter Olifaunt and Elizabeth, daughter of Bruce, 
had Jiree sons : 

1. Sir John who succeeded to the bulk of the estates. 

1 There is no proof of this, and the douht rests only on the fact that the old 
chroniclers do not mention this daughter Elizabeth among the King's children. 
On the other hand, the mention of her name by King David II. as ' ' Elizabeth, 
our beloved sister" seems to indicate the legitimacy of her birth. 


2. Sir Walter, who lived till after 1411. From him 

are descended the Oliphants of Pittotter, Kellie, 
Murdocairnie, and Prinlaws. 

3. Malcolm, who possessed Hazelhead, and was the 

ancestor of the Ayrshire branch of the Oliphant 


Between the year of the great Sir William's death, 
and the granting of the charters in 1364, history is silent 
as to the doings of the Olifards. The death of Bruce 
brought to Scotland a renewal of trouble and disorder. 
The new King, already married to Joanna of England, 
was five years old. Edward II. had his hereditary 
ambitions regarding Scotland. Edward Balliol, the son 
of John, bore the nominal title of King for seven years. 
The great master mind, the dauntless master hand of 
Bruce, were no longer there to inspire and protect his 
country. The young King was away in France; he 
returned to an inglorious reign in Scotland, which lasted 
for forty - two years. Whether Olifaunt fought at 
Halidon Hill under Archibald Douglas, whether he was 
at Neville's Cross, where the King was taken prisoner 
there is no record to show. His name does not appear 
among the knights at the battle of Dupplin in 1332, 
when Balliol crossed the river at midnight, and marched 
by Cask and Dupplin to break with slaughter upon the 
Scottish outposts, defeating the young King's forces under 
Mar; nor is the name mentioned when Balliol seized Perth. 
It is difficult to believe that Olifaunt was living at 
the family home of Aberdalgie in the midst of such 
wars and distresses especially as his help would seem 
natural on account of his near relationship to the boy 
King. It is only possible to conjecture that he either 
had his part in the great adventures of the day, or 
that he was abroad during the stormy years of David's 
unlucky reign. The King died in Edinburgh Castle in 
1370. He had made only trouble and distress for the 
country his father had won. Olifaunt could scarcely 
have regretted the brother - in - law who had brought 
poverty and distress upon the kingdom. Luckily he 


left no heir. It was a nephew of Lady Olifaunt who 
now came to the throne Robert II., son of Marjory 
Bruce and the Steward of Scotland. The date of Sir 
Walter Olifaunt 's death is not known ; but he was alive 
in 1878. His second son, Walter, younger of Aberdalgie, 
was receiving charters confirming lands to him from 
Robert II. in 1378. The King's young son, afterwards 
Robert III., was a witness to the charters confirming 
the lands of Kellie and Pitkery in Fife. Sir Walter's 
descendants held Kellie till late in the sixteenth century. 

Sir John, the heir of the first Sir Walter, had two 
children Sir William who succeeded him, and a daughter 

For three generations the Oliphants had been living 
in obscurity as far as history is concerned. The stormy 
years of English aggression, the tumultuous days of 
Bruce, were already lapsing into great memories. Under 
a line of kings not likely to fail for heirs, and relying 
confidently on the sturdy support of the nation, there 
came a period of greater security, more firmness of law, 
more protection of life and property. Between the great 
Parliament at Aberbrothok in 1320, when William Olifard 
appended his seal to the historic Remonstrance to the 
Pope, and the year 1424 more than a hundred years 
after when the name of a great-great-grandson of Sir 
William appears on the page of history, no Oliphant 
seems to have taken conspicuous part in national affairs. 

The times were filled with Border raids, the feuds of 
Douglas and Percy, and possibly the Perthshire lairds 
might not have felt themselves called upon to fight in 
these distant quarrels. They may have listened in in- 
action to the stories of the coming of the band of French 
knights, the flower of French chivalry, to the aid of the 
Border men, and heard of the splendid deeds of Douglas, 
without being inspired to join in the adventure. But 
when the war was carried to the Highlands, then surely 
must Oliphants have left their broad acres and the home 
at Aberdalgie to bear a part. They must have struck a 
blow for the Crown against the Wolf of Badenoch, and 

III.] JAMES I. 39 

taken the field at the battle of Harlaw against the Celts, 
who had called England to their aid, to strike for Celtic 
supremacy in the north. 

The hundred years of the Oliphants' obscurity had 
seen the reigns of four kings, and found a fifth in English 
captivity. James, Earl of Carrick, the heir to the Scottish 
throne, was taken prisoner by Henry IV. only a few days 
before, at fourteen years old, he became King by the 
death of his father, Robert III. The story of that twenty 
years' captivity of the Poet King needs no re-telling. He 
emerged from his English prison at thirty-four. His life 
can be briefly told. First the inaction of his twenty years' 
captivity, then twelve years of passionate determination to 
break the feudal tyranny that was checking all progress 
in the land. He did not always choose honourable means, 
and his early death by murder was prompted by a sense 
of intolerable injustice in a subject he had wronged. The 
tragic destiny of his race overshadowed his youth and his 
manhood. It was as much the tragedy of temperament 
as of outward circumstances. 

He had been treated in England with all honour, 
given a liberal education, and was set free at last upon 
terms which may not have seemed very hard to his idea. 
The marriage of the Poet King and Lady Jane Beaufort, 
the lady of his heart and his song, was followed by his 
release, and in 1421 he set forth on his way to his kingdom 
a free man. At Durham he was met by a group of three 
hundred of the nobles and gentry of Scotland. England 
was not parting with her royal captive without exacting 
terms, nor was his freedom won without a great sacrifice 
on the part of Scotland. The English demand was for 
40,000, not nominally as ransom, but for the King's 
maintenance in England. It was to be paid in instal- 
ments of 10,000 a year. Scotland, then in the depths 
of poverty, could not promise prompt payment of so huge 
a sum. The alternative was to offer hostages, and these 
were chosen from the flower of the Scottish knights. 

When all the negotiations were over, and the King on 
his way to his kingdom, out of the group of three hundred 


loyal Scotsmen who welcomed him at Durham, were 
chosen twenty-eight to go into English prisons till the 
great ransom was paid. Among the twenty-eight we 
find the name of Sir William Oliphant of Aberdalgie, 
the son of Sir John. The King passed on in a joyful 
progress to his kingdom. The hostages were handed 
over to the English. Imagination sees them watching 
the young King and his bride, in the midst of the 
gallant escort of Scottish chivalry, riding away into 
new life and liberty, to be crowned and honoured, 
before they turned away to their own captivity. All 
touched the Gospels, and vowed that they would remain 
in the hands of the English King till the ransom was 
paid, and would attempt nothing against him. No 
doubt they hoped and believed that their sacrifice was 
but for a short time, and that King James, in all the 
joy of his new liberty, would hold them in remembrance 
and soon find the money for their ransom. Oliphant 
was sent to Pontefract Castle, and afterwards, with 
seven of his companions, to the Tower of London. Two 
years afterwards he was still in the Tower. A mention 
of him there in 1425 is the last that is known of him. 
A great many of the hostages died in English prisons ; 
Oliphant may have been among them. The ransom 
was never paid. Taxes were levied for the purpose, 
but the money was always wanted for something else. 

The wife of Sir William Oliphant was said to be 
Isabel Stewart, daughter of John Stewart of Innermeath, 
Lord of Lorn. They had a son, John, who succeeded 
to the family estates, and who appears as a witness to a 
deed in 1441. There was also a daughter, Isabel, who 
married Sir John Scrimgeour, Constable of Dundee. Sir 
John married Isabel, daughter of Sir Walter Ogilvy of 
Auchterhouse, the hereditary Sheriff of Angus. The 
Lindsays were at feud with the Ogilvys. The two 
families fought out a quarrel about the Abbey of 
Aberbrothok, at the Abbey gates, on a Sunday morning 
in 1445. The affair is described as follows in the 
Auchinleck Chronicle : 


" The Erll of Huntlie and the Ogilbeis with him on 
the ta part, and the Erll of Crauford on the tother part, 
met at the gettis of Arbroth on ane Sonday laite and 
faucht. And the Erll of Huntlie and Wat Ogilbei fled. 
And ther was slane on their part Schir Jhon Oliphant, 
Lord of Aberdalgy with uther syndry. And on the 
tother part the Erll of Crauford himself was hurt in the 
field and diet within VII dayis. Bot he and his son wan 
the field and held it, and efter that, a gret tyme held the 
Ogilbeis at gret subjeccion, and tuke thair gudis and 
destroyit thair placis." 

It can hardly be that Sir John Oliphant of Aberdalgie, 
the son of the knight whom the King abandoned to the 
miseries of an English prison, would feel an undeviating 
loyalty to his kinsmen of the royal house. We know 
no more about him than the facts of his marriage and 
his unlucky death in this broil of his wife's family. The 
list of his children is as follows : 

1. Laurence, afterwards first Lord Oliphant. 

2. James, who was killed in a feud between his brother, 

Lord Oliphant, and the Earl of Buchan in 
1491. He was the ancestor of the Oliphants 
of Archellie and Bachilton. 

3. John, who was alive in 1479. 

4. Margaret, 1 married Wardlaw of Torry. She had 

a son William, and a daughter who married 
Lyon de Logic of Logiealmond. 

5. Christian, 2 married Alexander Blair of Balthayock. 

She was dead in 1516. 

6. Another daughter, wife of James Drummond of 


The eldest son Laurence was afterwards made Lord 
Oliphant by James II. He was the first of a succession 
of ten lords of the name, covering a period of two 
hundred years. 

1 ' ( A Protectionn to William Wardlaw, son to Margrete Oliphant Lady Torry 
and al and sundri his landis rentis possessions, takkis, malingis, to endure for 
al the days of his life. July 27th, 1503." Privy Seal Register, p. 142. 

2 " At Perth, 26th January 1516. Lands of Baldovy and Ardlare being in 
our soverane lordis handis he the deceis of Cristane Oliphant relict of umquhile 
Alexander Blare of Balthiock." Privy Seal Register. 


In 1450 the King made Sir David Hay, of Tester, 
guardian of young Laurence Oliphant, and in the same 
year the boy was sent with the Earl of Douglas on his 
pilgrimage to Rome. No doubt he felt it a lucky chance 
to see the world in the train of the gallant and dis- 
tinguished figure of the eighth Earl of Douglas. The 
struggle between the Crown and the feudal aristocracy 
was fought to the death between James II. and William 
Douglas. He was born about 1425. As a little boy he 
was knighted at the christening of the twin sons 1 of 
James I. in 1430 ; he succeeded to the earldom in 1443. 
The royal descent of his family made other great land- 
owners look upon him with suspicion as a recognised 
danger to the throne. The head of the House of Douglas 
died soon after the murder of James I., leaving two young 
sons; the eldest, who succeeded to the honours of the 
house, only fourteen years old. This, boy and his brother 
were murdered by the Regents on the Castle Hill at 
Edinburgh in 1440. The oft- told tragedy and treachery 
have left a lasting stain on the reign ; but the little King, 
James II., who was present when the deed was done, 
was only ten years old, and wept bitterly at the sight. 
His guardians took no notice of his pitiful entreaties 
that the boys' lives might be spared. Eleven years 
afterwards the King killed with his own hand the head 
of the Douglas family. 

The House of Douglas, instead of being crushed by 
the death of the boys, continued to increase in strength. 
William Douglas, who became the head of the family, 
kept an army of five thousand men, some of them knights 
and noblemen, as if he were a sovereign. Alliances were 
made with the chiefs of clans, till the whole country was 
practically in his power. The process was gradual, 
and the King was very young. He had a boy's admira- 
tion for another boy five years his senior, who perhaps 
seemed to him the embodiment of all that was chivalrous, 
adventurous, and splendid. Many of the King's friends 

1 Alexander, born at Holyrood, 16th October 1430, died an infant. James, 
afterwards James II., died 1460. 


must have seen with great satisfaction the preparations 
of Douglas for a pilgrimage to Rome, and secretly hoped 
that he would stay away for the three years his safe- 
conduct permitted. 

Douglas chose nineteen companions for his pilgrimage, 
and among them was young Oliphant of Aberdalgie. 
They started in August 1450, a princely train includ- 
ing James, the brother of Douglas, Lords Hamilton, 
Gray, Salton, Seton, and Forbes. The cortege rode away 
through Flanders to Paris, 1 where they were received 
with marked honour by the French King. 

Italy, then basking in the afterglow of her great out- 
burst of creative genius, was going proudly forward into 
the Augustan age that was soon to dawn. The travellers 
from rugged Scotland saw all the splendour of her transi- 
tion from the one to the other and beheld the wonders 
of the Renaissance. But to Douglas and his companions 
the lessons of Italy were not wholesome. Douglas saw 
in every great central city the triumph of the system his 
whole race had for generations been trying to impose 
upon Scotland. Each town was controlled by a powerful 
family of huge wealth and absolute rule. He realised 
the sovereignty of the Medici at Florence, the Sforza at 
Milan, the Estes at Modena, the Gonzagas at Mantua. 
Everywhere he would see the results of soldiers of 
fortune founding petty kingdoms, and he would see these 
kingdoms, each centres of light and learning, rising 
successfully into independent powers. Doubtless, the old 
hereditary ambitions, the old dreams must have stirred 
his restless soul. In spite of all the honour which he 
and his companies received at Rome both from the Pope 
and the great Roman families, the splendour of their 
reception, the charm and novelty of life in Italy, they 
remained there only a few months. Douglas may have 
suspected that absence from Scotland meant mischief to 
his interests there, and in this he judged rightly. At 

1 In Paris Douglas took his youngest brother George, a child of thirteen, away 
from school, and carried him with him towards Italy. To the great grief of 
Douglas the boy died on the way. Godscroft, vol. i. p. 385. 


all events Oliphant rode with him in the spring, when 
he went back to the tragic death that awaited him at 
the hand of his friend and master. Although he was 
made Lieutenant-Governor after his return, it was not 
long before Douglas found his power at Court a thing 
of the past. Tongues had been busy with his name ; 
the King was little more than a boy, easily swayed and 
prejudiced, and he had been shown whither the pre- 
tensions of Douglas were leading. He was taught that 
the Crown was not able to bear the encroachments of 
Douglas ambition, the increase of Douglas power. Prob- 
ably he had never decided on the death of his friend. 
Douglas was with the King in Edinburgh in January 
1452. A month later came his list fatal interview at 
Stirling the two young men in furious quarrel, and 
the end of the claims and the life of Douglas at one 
stroke of the King's dagger. 

The event threw the great families of Scotland at 
once into two camps ; those who drew to the King's 
side, and those, like Angus and Huntly, who followed 
the standard of the four young Douglases, brothers of 
the murdered William, in their campaign of vengeance. 
Oliphant must have made his choice also ; whatever may 
have been his private feelings about the death of William 
Douglas, his travelling companion and friend, he chose 
what was in the end the winning side. 

In the Parliament held by James III., in 1463, 
Laurence Oliphant appears as Lord Oliphant. The 
precise date when James II. conferred the title is not 
known. Shortly after Oliphant received this honour, 
he married Isobel, the daughter of the Earl of Errol, 
Constable of Scotland. 

The records of the day give an idea of Lord Oliphant's 
appearance when he first took his seat in Parliament. 
In 1455 an Act had been passed regulating the dress 
in which the members were to appear. 

"Ane mantill of rede ryth sa oppinnit before, and 
lynyt with silk or furryt with cristy gray, grece or 


purray, togidder with ane hude of the samyn clath and 
furrit as said is." 

If any lord appeared without this dress he was fined 
ten pounds. 

Three years before, in 1460, Laurence Oliphant had 
founded a monastery at Perth. There had been no 
Franciscan Order of Greyfriars there till this time. 1 The 
building stood near the walls at the south side of Perth, 
and existed for a hundred years ; but, as its records 
perished in the tumults of the Reformation, nothing is 
known about it. The monastery was attacked and pulled 
down by a fanatic mob in 1559. Its grounds lay vacant 
for twenty-one years, when the waste space was turned 
into a public graveyard. 

For some reason not now traceable, the burghers of 
Perth appear to have been at feud with Lord Oliphant. 
What the quarrel was about will now never be known, 
but in a document still extant, Lord Oliphant absolves 
the Alderman and Council of Perth 

" for now and ever of the doune casting of the House of 
D upline and of the spoilyation of it and Aberdalgie in 
special, and of all and sundrie actions, quarrelis, and pleyis, 
debatis, questionis and demandis depending betwixt us 
and them." 

Dupplin was afterwards rebuilt by Lord Oliphant, 
who may have made it his chief residence. Sir John 
Cunningham, writing two hundred years later, tells us 
that Lord Oliphant adorned 

" one of the seild rooms in Dupplin, now demolished by 
ane enemy to antiquity, with the names of his ancestry. 
All the original wreats and evidents of these lands before 
King David the Bruce his days supposed to have been 
burnt and destroyed at the burning of the House of 

The next mention of Lord Oliphant is in 1467, when 

1 Mr Maitland Thomson, in the Scots Peerage, vol. vi. p. 540, points out 
that the date is too early ; but sees no reason to doubt that Lord Oliphant was, 
at some time, the founder of the Perth Greyfriars. 


he was present at the debate concerning the marriage of 
James III. with Margaret, Princess of Denmark. The 
marriage was celebrated four years afterwards, at Holyrood, 
when the King was seventeen. In 1471 Lord Oliphant 
was placed on the Committee of the Estates, one of 
those to whom was given 

" the ful power and strength of the hale thre Estates of 
this realme, beand gatherit in this present parliament to 
advise, determyne, tret, and conclude eftir as thai fynde 
in their wysdomys, the materis concerning the weilfare 
of ane Soverane Lord." 

It is evident that Oliphant stood high in the King's 
counsel from this time till the end of the reign. His 
name appears now and again in the accounts of the 
Lord Treasurer, and as having attended Parliaments. 
He was appointed one of the sixteen who in 1482 tried 
Lord Lyle for treason. In 1484 he was sent as 
ambassador with nine others to the Court of Richard 
III. at Nottingham. Richard gave safe conduct for 
the escort of two hundred horsemen. They reached 
Nottingham on llth September, and next day the 
ambassadors went to the King. 

" The King beyng in his gret chamber, undyr his clothe 
of ryall estate, and ther one of the ambassadors purposyd 
a oracyon, and delyvered to the King's grace a commis- 
syon under the gret Sell of Scotland for the abstiness of 
were (war) by tweyen England and Scotland, and another 
commissyon for the marriage tweyene the prince of 
Scottis and one of the Kyngnes blood." 1 

The negotiations were happily concluded by the 
signing of a treaty of peace, and a compact of marriage 
between the young Prince of Scotland (afterwards James 
IV.) and Anne, King Richard's niece. 2 Lord Oliphant 
was one of those named to act as guardians of the truce 
between the two countries by land and sea. He was 

1 Gairdner's Letters of Richard III. 

2 The marriage never took place. Richard III. fell at Bosworth field four 
months after the treaty was signed. Lady Ann was the only daughter of John. 
Duke of Suffolk. 


also appointed one of the Commissioners for settlement 
of the marches, and to depute certain persons to see 
that the bounds of Berwick were marked out according 
to the stipulations of the truce. 1 

A change of sovereign brought no change in the 
fortunes of Lord Oliphant. He seems to have been a 
man marked out for distinction and honour, whatever 
the party in power. It is certain he faithfully served 
James III., but after the tragedy of the King's murder 
at Beaton's Mill in 1488, we find him high in the councils 
of the young James IV. The boy having been led or 
coerced into the fatal rebellion against the father whom 
he had never seen, experienced the pangs of a lifelong 
remorse, and showed it by seeking advice and help, not 
from the rebel lords whose plots had placed him on the 
throne, but from those tried friends and servants of his 
father whose help was still available. Lord Oliphant's 
name appears again and again in the Parliaments of 
the new King in appointments as Judge, Sheriff, and 
Justiciar. Moreover, in 1489, when the King, then six- 
teen years old, set forth on his enterprise of war to the 
Castle of Dumbarton, Oliphant went with him. 2 The 
stronghold w r as held by the rebel Lennox and others. 
The young King besieged it himself for six weeks, and 
finally took the castle. The great gun, " Mons Meg," 8 went 
with him to do the work at Dumbarton. The gunners 
got eighteen shillings of drink-silver for carting her. 

In 1491, Lord Oliphant was one of the Lords of the 
Privy Council, and in the following years was one of the 
Commissioners who were sent to search the Continent 
of Europe to find a suitable queen for James IV. The 
Commission and a train of a hundred men went through 
England, with a safe conduct from Henry VII. They 
went no further than France to find the bride. The 
three estates voted extra money for the "honourable 
hame-bringing of a queen." 

1 The Oliphants in Scotland, p. xxxiv. 

1 Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer, vol. i. p. 125. 

3 Now at Edinburgh Castle. 


Lord Oliphant and the rest were in Scotland again 
before the close of the year in time to sign and seal the 
truce between Scotland and England. In the next year 
Oliphant was still on the Committee of Estates in con- 
nection with arrangements for the King's marriage. It 
might have meant a better fate for James had the French 
alliance been possible. He did not marry for twelve 
years, and in a Tudor wife experienced the discomforts 
of all the Tudor headstrong passions and prejudices. But 
Oliphant did not live to see his master married. In 1495 
Lord Oliphant and Lord Drummond are styled in a 
Decree of Privy Council " Venerable faderis in God." 
On 24th August 1497 Lord Oliphant sent a present to 
the King, perhaps from his gardens at Dupplin. There 
is record of a payment in the Lord Treasurer's accounts 

"to ane man of Lord Oliphant that brocht plowmis to 
the King." 1 

This detail brings to a close nearly all that is known of 
the first Lord Oliphant. He must now have been an old 
man. He lived till the close of the century, though he was 
not living in April 1500. His life had been full of interests 
and excitement ; he had his full part in national affairs. 

Nothing was more fatal to the peace of the country 
and to the royal supremacy in Scotland than the system 
of manrent which, continuing for some centuries, gave to 
subjects the powers of a King, practically conferring on 
an overlord the control of an army at demand. The 
position of a noble was decided by the number of agree- 
ments he had been able to obtain from less powerful 
chiefs. It meant allegiance to the greater, and protection 
to the lesser, magnate ; a network of alliances for the 
support of feudal authority. Successive royal govern- 
ments were unequal to the task of checking a system 
so harassing to the Crown. 

" There is nothing manifests the power and greatness 
of this noble Lord (Oliphant) more than the Bonds of 

1 Plums were again brought from the second Lord Oliphant in 1503. Lord 
Treasurer's Accounts, vol. ii. p. 385. 


Manrent he had of many gentlemen of the first rank, who 
were obliged to attend and serve him in peace and war, 
when required." 1 

In the Gask charter chest is a collection of fifteen of 
these Bonds of Manrent the first dated 1468, and the 
last 1547. 2 

This power, wielded by one man, might have led to 
mischief enough; but Oliphant was a Royalist and a 
courtier. His power, however objectionable to the 
Burghers of Perth, was at the service of the throne. 

He had served four King James's, and outlived the 
tragic deaths of three of those victims of evil destiny. 
In spite of insurrections and aggressions, he had seen the 
fortunes of his country grow steadily towards security 
and importance. He died full of years and honour ; but 
there is no record to show where or when he died, or 
where is his place of burial. 

To Laurence, Lord Oliphant, and his first wife, Isobel 
Hay, daughter of William, first Earl of Erroll, were born 
the following children : 

1. John, who was second Lord Oliphant. 

2. William, who by marriage with Christian Suther- 

land of Duffus, Strabrook, and Berriedale in 
Caithness, became Oliphant of Berriedale, and 
was ancestor of the Oliphants of Gask. 

3. Laurence, appointed by the Pope Abbot of 

Inchaffray, 16th November 1495. He was 
killed at Flodden. 

4. George, known as Oliphant of Balmakcorne. 

5. Margaret, contracted to George, Master of Angus, 

in 1485 ; but the match was broken off. 
The second wife of Lord Oliphant was Elizabeth 
Cunningham of Glengarnock. 3 

There are two mentions of John, the eldest son of 

1 Douglas. 

2 For a full list of these bound to serve Lord Oliphant see the Oliphants in 
Scotland. His immediate neighbours, the Hollos of Duncrub, and Moray of 
Abercairny, were among them. 

3 She survived him, and was married again to Sir John Elphinstone of Airth. 
Scots Peerage, vol. vi. 



the first lord, during his father's lifetime ; one in a suit 
against him by the Abbot of Lindores in 1488, and again 
in 1492, when an action was brought against him, 
together with his father, for "the inordinate execution 
of thare office of Sherefschip." A bond of mutual 
manrent between Lord Graham and John, Lord Oliphant, 
in April 1500, proves that the first lord was then dead. 
John outlived him only sixteen years. He was present 
at the Parliament held at Edinburgh in 1503, and was 
a witness to James IV.'s marriage settlement with 
Margaret Tudor in March. In the Treasurer's accounts, 
dated 20th February 1506, is the following entry : 

" To Johne Beg, messenger passance to the Beschopes 
of Dumblane Dunkelden the Lordis Oliphant and 
Drummond to cum to the Cristenyng of the Prince 10s." l 

Seven years afterwards, all his hopes shattered, his 
hearth bereft, Oliphant was at the first Parliament of the 
infant James V. at Perth. 

John Oliphant had married, in his father's lifetime, 
Elizabeth Campbell, daughter of Colin, first Earl of 
Argyll. The children were: 

1. John, engaged in infancy to marry Margaret, 

daughter of William, first Lord Ruthven. She 
was required by her parents to fulfil the con- 
tract, 15th June 1494. She refused to do so as 
she had no carnal affection for the said John, 
who may be said to have had a lucky escape. 
She afterwards married four times, about 1499, 
1508, 1518, 1534. Three of her husbands died 
violent deaths, and one was divorced. John 
must have died without issue before 1505. 

2. Colin, who was killed at Flodden, married Lady 

Elizabeth Keith, 2 and left two sons, Laurence, 
afterwards third Lord Oliphant, born about 
1505, and William, born after 1506. 

1 This was Prince James, son of James IV. , and Margaret Tudor, born at 
Holyrood, February 1506, who died within a year one of the five children of the 
family, who all died in infancy. 

' She survived him, and married secondly William, Lord Sinclair. 


3. John, a Burgess of Perth, in July 1531. He 

married Margaret Swinton, and left children. 
Nothing remains to show when they were born or where 
the family lived. 

The shadow of Flodden falls at this time upon the 
history of Scotland. It was the last enterprise of a 
king whose sympathies were rather with deeds of ancient 
chivalry and the days of knighthood than with the 
intriguing and vehement spirit of the sixteenth century. 
Henry VIII. was threatening France with invasion, and 
France turned to her old ally, Scotland, for help. The 
Scottish King replied in the old way by at once invading 
England. It was a wonderful host that arose at his call 
a mighty feudal army a hundred thousand strong. The 
great vassals of the Crown called out the lesser vassals, 
the Highlands and Islands sent their men, every family 
sent its soldier, all Scotland contributed to swell the host 
that at the heels of the impetuous James poured over the 
Border, on a quarrel that was none of theirs. But there 
was no enthusiasm for the cause, for a war undertaken 
at the call of a foreign power, to settle a far-off quarrel 
between two alien nations. Two hundred years before the 
field of Bannockburn gathered together the "flowers of the 
forest." But Bannockburn was fought on a national issue, 
and resulted in national independence. Flodden neither 
avenged nor undid the work of Bannockburn ; it left no 
fruits of victory. The tragedy of Flodden is that it is 
a history of life sacrificed in vain ; a great disaster that 
leads nowhere and to nothing. The fight lasted three 
hours, and ten thousand Scotsmen fell on the field. 
Happy for the knightly spirit of the King that he him- 
self was among the dead. In every household there 
was mourning ; over all Scotland clung the dire shadow 
of bereavement. The best, the noblest, the strongest 
had answered to the King's call, and marched away 
under his standard never to return. 

The House of Oliphant was left desolate as the rest. 
Lord Oliphant had sent forth his son, the Master, and 
his brother, the Abbot, and both were killed ; the father 


did not long survive. He died in 1516, three years after 
the death of his son, leaving his name and great possessions 
to his grandson Laurence, the third Lord Oliphant, then 
eleven years old. 

Never was an emptier victory to England than that 
of Flodden ; though the results of the battle were, it is 
true, greatly to the detriment of Scotland. The death of 
the King placed once more an infant on the throne, and 
threw the power of the kingdom into the hands of who- 
ever could manage to retain the guardianship of the baby 
King. Queen Margaret, then in her twenty-fourth year, 
seemed to the people, in the first flush of their despair 
after Flodden, the fit Regent and guardian of her own 
royal child. She was a capable woman, but resembled 
her brother, Henry VIII., in so far that treachery was 
natural to her ; she trafficked with England almost 
openly. The nation saw the danger in time. Henry's 
anxious effort was to get the little King and his brother, 
the infant Duke of Ross, 1 into his power, by inducing 
Margaret to bring them across the Border. Instantly 
the nobles and gentles of Scotland were divided into two 
camps those who supported the Queen, and those who 
were resolved against her influence and England's inter- 
ference. The hopes of this latter party lay with the 
Duke of Albany, son of a brother of James III., and the 
next heir to the throne, who lived in France, and who 
was now summoned to return to take up the reins of 
the Regency. 

Meanwhile, within a yerr after Flodden, the Queen 
Widow of James IV. had married again. She chose as 
her husband the young Earl of Angus, representative of 
the great House of Douglas a bad choice for Scotland. 
For a short time the supreme power of Scotland was in 
the hands of Angus and the Douglases. What fatality 
might have ensued we do not know had Margaret 
remained on good terms with her young husband; but 
their interests were soon divided. When Albany came, 

1 Alexander Stuart, Duke of Ross, sixth child of James IV. and Margaret 
Tudor, born 1514, and died the following year. 


Parliament settled to remove the King and his infant 
brother, the Duke of Ross, from the dangerous custody 
of the Queen, but in the years that followed James V. 
was the hapless pawn in the game played by all the 
nobles in their contentions and ambitions now in the 
power of one faction, now of another till he won his 
own freedom at last by escaping out of the hands of 
the Douglas family when he was sixteen years old. 

At Dupplin or at Aberdalgie the whole training of 
the two Oliphant boys would be devoted to strengthen- 
ing loyalty to the Scottish party and the King. Nearly 
the whole nobility was ranged on the side of Albany 
against the Queen Mother and Angus. The struggle 
over the person of the King, and between the rival 
factions of a distracted country, went on from the time 
that Lord Oliphant was eight years old, all through his 
youth, till manhood fitted him to take a part in his 
country's affairs. 

The shadow of Flodden hung darkly over his early 
years. He and his brother were old enough to know 
the sad meaning of the name, and to realise that all 
the happenings of which they heard in childhood the 
tales of raid, slaughter, burnings, sieges, and retreats, 
the cruel violence of the times, the uncertainties and 
treacheries which shadowed their horizon were traceable 
to the bitter disaster which had left them fatherless. 
The boys were probably sent to school, for Scotland, 
in the midst of her calamities, had part in the general 
revival of interest in classical learning, the advances of 
printing, and the onward movement of intellectual life 
all over Europe. In 1499 an Act was passed decree- 
ing that all barons and freeholders must send their 
sons to school at eight or nine years, to stay until 
they knew Latin. Afterwards they were obliged to 
study law for three years. 

While their education went on, the two boys would 
soon learn on which side their sympathies were to be 
thrown, in the vehement disputes which distracted the 
country. Brought up to fidelity to the ancient church 


of their race, they would see with distrust the immense 
changes of the Reformation beginning to work and to 
grow. Over the civilised world the agitations of the 
new thought were changing all political and social life. 
The Oliphants were staunchly Catholic ; they served a 
Catholic King and a Catholic Government, and believed 
in the possibility of turning back the great tide of 
national religious thought which was soon to begin to 
set steadily towards reform. 

Lord Oliphant was seven years older than the King, 
and attained manhood just as James V. emerged from 
childhood and knew himself a prisoner. It was a great 
hour for the loyal nobles when the emancipation came, 
and he finally threw off the thraldom of Angus and 
the Douglases. The Parliament of 1528 was the most 
momentous of the reign, a triumphant scene for Lord 
Oliphant and the other Royalists present, when the Bill 
of Attainder was passed against Angus, which set James 
finally free, and declared the Douglas land, life, and 
goods to be forfeit. Angus entered upon an active 
rebellion; but rebellions were everywhere. The King 
was destined never to know peace ; the desolation of 
civil war swept unceasingly over his kingdom. He never 
forgave the Douglases, who had caused him to pass his 
youth in a torment of captivity under the name of 

Lord Oliphant attended the Parliament which met 
at Edinburgh in 1541 the year before the King's death. 
The laws against heresy had been strengthened, and 
the clergy warned to amend the scandal of their lives, 
which brought endless discredit on the ancient Church. 
The Government now proposed to pass a law enforcing 

"for the honor of the haly sacramentis, for worship to 
be had to the Virgin Mary, and that na man argun the 
Pope's auctorite." 

James V. never realised the difference in the national 
characteristics that made English methods impossible 


in his own kingdom. To so devout a son of the Church 
the shadow of heresy was one of the darkest that gathered 
about him in the last dark days of his life. The inglorious 
defeat of Solway Moss added the last touch to the end- 
less bereavements and distresses of his career. He had 
no longer any hold on life. True to the destiny of his 
race, he was fated, while still young himself, to leave 
his kingdom to the inevitable stress and storm of 
successive regencies, under the nominal reign of an 
infant. This had been the history of the Crown for a 
hundred and thirty-six years. 

Most of the chief nobles of Scotland had ridden 
forth in the raid that ended in the disaster of Solway 
Moss. Lord Oliphant was among those taken prisoner ; 
others were Cassilis, Glencairn, Maxwell, Fleming, 
Somerville. Thomas Dacre writes from Lanercost, about 
the battle, to the Privy Council on 9th December 1542 : 

" Besuching your good Lordships for the love of God 
that every mans service that was doon that day may be 
trewlye tryed. ... I besuche your good Lordships to 
be good lords to this berer this gentilman, who has done 
the Kings Majestic good service at all times, and specially 
at this last journey, and he can declare as miche thereof 
as any man can, for he was bothe at the begynnyng and 
at the ending, and he tuke the Lord Oliphant prisoner, 
and delivered him to Maister Wardein to send to the 
Kings Majestic." 1 

At the time of the King's death at Falkland, three 
weeks after the battle, Oliphant was on the southward 
road on his way to an English prison. Dacre appointed 
his own servant, George Pott, to attend on Lord 
Oliphant. On 16th December Dacre and his prisoners 
were at Newark upon Trent. 

" Therle of Glencarne, the Lord Olyphant and dyvers 
others be erased, so that we think it wolbe Tuesday late 
at nyght befor we can come to London." 2 

1 Hamilton Papers, p. 324. 2 Ibid. p. 385. 


On 20th December he was in the Tower of London 
with the others who had ridden with him. Afterwards 
they were confided to the care of English noblemen. 
News came to him of the King's death, and of the birth 
of his daughter, the Princess Mary; also a report of 
Mary's death, which must soon have been contradicted. 
The captivity to which all these Scots prisoners were 
subjected was made as pleasant as possible. Henry VIII. 
saw in them the prospect of powerful help, and had no 
desire to embitter the existence of men who might, with 
a little tact, be made convenient instruments towards 
the absorption of Scotland. He saw, too, that they 
might be more useful to his cause if at home in Scotland 
rather than scattered throughout English castles. There- 
fore the Scots' lords were well entertained, given presents 
by the King, and pleased with promises of liberty. All 
were exceedingly anxious to get home to Scotland, for 
in those days to be away from his estates might mean 
danger and loss to a man who had won and held them 
at the sword's point. Henry knew their anxiety, and 
did not intend to let his valuable prisoners go for 
nothing. The annexation of Scotland had never seemed 
so near. Nothing but the frail life of the baby Mary 
stood in the way. If she died, so much the better; 
if she lived, she could be married to his son Edward. 

To Henry it seemed as if the dream was to come true 
at last. From the prisoners disgraceful promises were 
extorted. They were to help Henry to get possession 
of the person of the baby Queen, and of Cardinal 
Beaton, with others who might stand in Henry's way, 
and to betray the chief fortresses of Scotland into his 
hands. In return he offered them liberty and peace. 
The prisoners were then set free. The group of traitors 
went back to Scotland, 1 having agreed and set their 
hands to an article binding them to support Henry 
in Scotland. Cassilis, Glencairn, Maxwell, Fleming, 
Somerville, Grey, Erskine, Angus, and Bothwell, some 
of the proudest names in Scotland's history, are on this 

1 Hamilton Papers, p. 367. 


roll of shame. The signature of Lord Oliphant is not 
there ; he, too, won liberty and rode back to his home, 
but not by this base betrayal. Whatever may have 
been the means of his freedom, he never signed the 
discreditable document. 

The old custom of leaving an eldest son as hostage 
still prevailed. Lord Oliphant and Lord Fleming were 
obliged to yield their boys in order to regain liberty. At 
this time, however, such captivity entailed no hardship. 
The young Master of Oliphant, then fifteen years old, was 
merely sent into the household of Lord Duresme at 
Darlington, a small sacrifice to secure his father's liberty 
at a time when his absence might mean ruin to the house. 
It is not known how long the boy may have remained 
in the charge of Lord Duresme. When in the August 
after the meeting of the first Parliament of Queen 
Mary's reign, 1543, the treaty with England was ratified 
at Holyrood, Arran, then Governor of Scotland, sent 
word to the King of England, 

" to keep the Lord Fleming's heir, and the Lord Oliphant's 
heir, which do now by pledges in England, for the 
Governor would be loath to ly in pledge any other of 
his friends, and he will enter bonds for the payment of 
their ransoms." 1 

The Governor also writes to the King on 25th August 
1543 : 

"We desire that it suld stand with the plesoure of 
your Majesti to reserve the sonnis of the Lords Flemyng, 
Erskin, and Oliphant, lying all reddy in England, for to 
be ostages in the roume of the thre baronis ; quhilk beand 
done sail not alanerlye (only) hald the saidis Lordis (now 
being in number of thame that has usurpit,) in grett feir 
and dreid to attempt aganis the Commoun weill of this 
realm, but sail unliknis keipe utheris noble men at home, 
whose power and counsale is necessar to the dounsetting 
of this insurrection." 8 

We have Sir Ralph Sadler's account of this first 

1 Sadler's State Papers. 

2 Hamilton Papers, p. 661. 


Parliament, March 1543. He gives the names to Henry 
of those who might be open to a bribe ; but again the 
name of Oliphant was not among them. Sadler describes 
Oliphant as "most hard to manage," and Lord Herries 
chronicling events says that 

" many noblemen and in special those who were prisoners 
and had left their sons pledges for them in England, 
repented their hasty conclusion and by general consent 
resolved to cross the business." 

The promise to yield up the " Daughter of Scotland " 
at ten years old to England was the clause that caused 
"great sticking among them." The Sol way prisoners 
who had been ready to betray their country were now as 
ready to break their word. But even had they kept 
troth, the country would never have ratified the terms of 
Henry's proposals. Lord Oliphant signed the answer of 
the Scottish lords in January 1542-1543. The nobles 
must have known enough of the general temper of the 
country to be aware that any promises made to Sadler to 
part with the baby Queen Mary would not be redeemed. 
Nevertheless, the farce went on, and Sadler was able to 
write to the King of England, on 25th August 1543, that 
the treaties were ratified and confirmed in Edinburgh, 

" which was solemnly done at the High Mass, solemnly 
sung with Shalms and Sackbuts in the Abbey Church of 
the Holyroodhouse." 

But Henry VIII. got neither the castles nor the 
crown, nor Cardinal Beaton, nor the little Queen, for 
Mary, then seven months old, was carried away by her 
loyal subjects from Linlithgow to Stirling Castle, her 
engagement to Henry's son broken off, and her corona- 
tion solemnised. Scotland kept her independence ; paying 
for it with the distresses of a five years' war with 
England. In December 1543 Lord Oliphant was present 
at the Parliament held at Edinburgh. The Reformation 
was gaining ground, for among the lords there " was gret 
murmure that heretikis mair and mair rises and spredis." 
Oliphant lived to hear of the doings of the Parliament of 


1560, which turned Scotland officially into a Protestant 
country. He did not himself attend the Parliament, and 
he remained a Catholic. There is no record of what 
part he may have taken in national affairs during the 
regencies. He lived to see the young Queen married to 
Darnley in 1565, and died the next year. 

The third Lord Oliphant married Margaret, daughter 
of James Sandilands of Calder. His children were : 

1. Laurence, afterwards fourth Lord Oliphant. 

2. Peter, who got the lands of Turin and Dromy, and 

was the ancestor of the Oliphants of Langton. 1 

3. William, who died without leaving legitimate 

children. 2 

4. Catherine, married first to Sir Alexander Oliphant 

of Kellie, and secondly to George Dundas of 
Dundas. She died 12th December 1602, leaving 

5. Margaret, married first, 1553, to William Moray of 

Abercairney, and secondly to James Clephane 
of Carselogie by whom she had six children. 
Thirdly to Ninian Bonar, younger of Keltic, 
without issue. She died 1580. 

6. Jean, married 1550, to William Moncrieffe of 

Moncrieffe, and had issue. 

7. Lilias, married 1561, to Robert Lundie of Balgonie. 

They had five sons and eight daughters. She 

died before 1588. 

Of Laurence, the fourth Lord Oliphant, born in 1529, 
we hear first in 1543, as an hostage for his father, at the 
house of Lord Duresme at Darlington. The records of 
his career show him to have been an ardent supporter 
of Queen Mary. As the point in the history of the 
Oliphants is now reached where the Oliphants of Newton 
and Cask make a distinct branch, it is not possible to 
follow out the history in detail of the Lords Oliphant ; 

1 He married first Jean Hepburn, natural daughter of Patrick, Bishop of Moray, 
and widow of Ross of Craigie ; secondly, Agnes Collace, widow of James Rollok 
of Duncrub. By his first wife he had six sons. 

8 He left a son Walter, and a daughter Catherine ; the latter married in 1607 
Andrew Miller, tailor, South Queensferry. 


but it must here be told that the fourth lord who 
succeeded his father in 1566 was one of those who 
assisted at the mock trial of Bothwell for Darnley's 
murder, 12th April, and was one of the nineteen lords 
who signed the fatal bond to Bothwell at "Ainslie's 
supper" (19th April 1567), with all its wicked clauses, 
declaring it inexpedient that the Queen, then nine weeks 
a widow by the death of Darnley, should remain un- 
married, and that their host, Bothwell, was not guilty 
of Darnley's murder, and was fit to be the Queen's 
husband. This was the bond which Bothwell, five days 
later, showed to the despairing Queen to induce her to 
consent to the marriage, when he had carried her off to 
Dunbar. Events followed fast in the dark days of Mary's 
downfall; a flood of disastrous circumstances sweeping 
her away to destruction. 

Lord Oliphant, only three months after Darnley's 
death, was present with eight other Scottish lords at the 
grim Protestant wedding, where "neither pleasure nor 
pastime was used " the blackest spot in all her tragedy. 
The day after the wedding Oliphant was admitted by the 
Queen to be of her Privy Council. He was one of those 
who had two secret meetings with Bothwell to discuss how 
she might be delivered from Lochleven, and his name is 
among the twenty-seven who entered into a bond, at 
Hamilton, to stand by her. Again he was one of the 
twenty Scottish lords who wrote to Queen Elizabeth 
from Largs, 25th July 1568, when Mary had been two 
months a prisoner in England, to ask for her release. He 
was one of the sixteen appointed by Queen Mary in her 
prison at Bolton Castle, 1569, to advise with Chatelherault, 
Huntly, and Argyll on the affairs of the kingdom. Six 
months afterwards Lord Oliphant was at Inverness with 
the Regent Moray in the baby King's service. But the 
murder of the Regent early in 1570 raised the Queen's 
men again into activity. Lord Oliphant joined in the 
march on Edinburgh from Linlithgow in April; by 
September he would seem again to have relapsed, and 
to have "bectim obedient." 


His history from first to last is a stirring record, on 
account chiefly of private feuds ; his character is indicated 
in the following account : 

"Few gentlemen of his surname and soe of small 
power, yet a house very loyall to the State of Scotland, 
accounted no orators in their words, nor yet fooles in 
their deeds. 1 They do not surmount in their alliances, 
but content with their worshipfull neighbours." 5 

1 Lord Oliphant raised a fine monument to his name in the Castle of Newtyle 
in Forfarshire, which he huilt to command the pass from Strathmore to Dundee. 
It is a noble ruin still bearing the date 1575, the oldest specimen of any Oliphant 
building still remaining. It was afterwards sold to Halyburton of Pitcur, and is 
now the property of Lord Wharncliffe. 

2 MS. in the Public Record Office, London. 



To understand the double descent in male and temale 
line of the Oliphants of Gask from the Lords Oliphant, 
it is necessary to go back to William, the second son of 
the first lord, who married Christian Sutherland of 
Berriedale in Caithness, and was afterwards known as 
William Oliphant of Berriedale. 

The story of the life of Christian Sutherland this 
remote ancestress of the Gask family is an illustration of 
the evil times that could fall to the lot of a woman in 
those early days, if she had the misfortune to own 
property. Caithness, in the last half of the fifteenth 
century, was the scene of perpetual feudal warfare, of 
endless feuds, of wild aggression, of fierce revenges. 
Generations were to pass before this remote district was 
to be brought into line with the requirements of modern 
civilisation, and meantime, it merely formed the ground 
for the hostilities of several great families first the 
Cheynes and the Guns, and later the Sinclairs, Sutherlands, 
and Keiths. Christian was born into an extremely un- 
desirable inheritance, having the misfortune to be a great 
heiress. She inherited Duffus in Moray, Strabrock in 
West Lothian, and Berriedale in Caithness. 

The date of Christian's birth is not known; but her 
father, Alexander Sutherland, died in 1480, 1 while she was 
still a minor. After his death " her marriage was in the 
King's hand." James III. made the most of the valuable 
asset of the person of Christian and her broad acres. He 
sold her to Laurence, first Lord Oliphant, who paid a 

1 Acta Dominorum Concilii, p. 63. 


heavy price to secure her in marriage to his second son 
William. The marriage was accomplished before 1489, 
as there is a charter 1 of that date regarding any heirs 
that might be born. No sooner had the marriage taken 
place than her uncle, William Sutherland of Quarrelwood, 
in Caithness, a younger brother of her father, brought a 
case to prove Christian illegitimate. 2 Quarrelwood seems 
to have borne some implacable grudge against her. The 
illegitimacy suit was a serious affair, not only for her peace 
of mind, but also for Lord Oliphant, who must have felt 
that his money had been riskily invested. The case came 
before the Sheriff, and was given in her favour in April 
1494 ; but an appeal was made to the spiritual court, and 
it was finally carried to Rome and fought out during 
several years, till settled by a decree arbitral about 1507, 
when Duffus went to the opposing claimant, and Christian 
got the Caithness lands. 

The expense of the defence fell upon Lord Oliphant. 
During the progress of the litigation he extended his 
protection to the unhappy Christian, and to his son, her 
husband, William Oliphant, maintaining them in his own 
house. Doubtless it was a large gathering for which he 
made himself responsible, and the hospitality was a strain 
on the family resources. Whether the home was made 
at Dupplin or at some of the other Oliphant strongholds, 
does not appear, nor are dates available to place these 
events exactly. Perhaps the eight children of William and 
Christian may have been born during this troublous time, 
when the wife did not know that she could claim any of 
her inheritance or even her name. The children were : 

1. George, died 1511. 

2. Charles, died 1517-1518. 

3. Andrew. He contracted to marry any one of the 

three sisters of John, Earl of Caithness, in 1520 
the sister to be chosen by the Earl. Andrew 
died before March 1529-1530. 

1 Martin's Coll. of MSS, Advocates' Library, Edinburgh. 

2 The circumstances are mentioned in a deed given in the Oliphants in 
Scotland, charter 114. 


4. Laurence. 1 

5. Helen, married Thomas Mowat. 

6. Katherine, married Isoun. 

7. Janet. 

8. Another daughter, said to have been married to 

George Gordon of Coclarachie. 

There is a charter, dated 12th August 1497,* granting 
the lands and barony of Strabrock in Linlithgow, and also 
Caithness estates to William and Christian and their son 
George, and failing him, to Charles. There is no mention 
of Andrew, who may not have been born at the time. A 
picturesque glimpse can be seen of Christian on her lands 
in Caithness. 8 

" Sasine given by Cristane Sutherland of Duffus, lady 
superior of the half lands of Reis and Akirgill, who passed 
with John Mowat as Bailie to the ground of Akyrgill and 
there near the toft (?) of the House of Knappo, she gave 
possession to Alexander Birsbane of the Akyrgill, com- 
manding the bailie to do the same in name of William 
Oliphant her spouse, which he did, a fire there being first 
extinguished and again lighted in name and on behalf of 
Birsbane. The bailie then passed to the town of Reis, 
and there without delay at the Hall of Reis, gave Sasine 
to Birsbane of half the lands of Reis by earth and stone, 
first extinguishing the fire and again kindling it in the 
name of Birsbane ; the bailie then taking a great horned 
ox with a mixture of red, feeding on the lands and leading 
it away with him in token of such sasine. Done on the 
lands 15th March 1497-1498." 

George Oliphant, the eldest son, was alive in 1507, 4 
and died in 1511. His brother Charles was murdered by 
his great-uncle, William Sutherland, or his friends and 
successors in Caithness. William Oliphant, the father, 

1 Laurence, third Lord Oliphant, in an obligation to Andrew Oliphant, 
promises to hold this Laurence in household with "ane honest servand, and 
gyff he plecis nocht to remain wyth me, I sail giff him yeirlie twenti l monie 
efter the said Andrew's decess he havand no aris maile." Oliphauts in Scotland, 
charter 113. 

5 Oliphants in Scotland, charter 63. 

* Laing's Charters, p. 235. 

4 Martin's Coll. of MSS. 


was dead when this deed was done. He died in 1509. 1 
Christian and the one remaining son, Andrew, were left 
to seek what vengeance they might, but justice was not 
easily obtained. The case was submitted to the arbitra- 
tion of John Lord Forbes and two others, 17th March 
1517. 2 The end of the affair has not come to light. 
Christian, who had married again Sir Thomas Lundin of 
Pratis, died between 1517 and 1526, leaving Andrew to 
the storms and disquietude of his great inheritance. He 
bore the strain and stress for a very few years. His 
uncle, John, second Lord Oliphant, died in 1516. Andrew 
waited only till the third Lord, born in 1505, attained his 
majority in 1525, and he then took measures to rid him- 
self of what he felt was an intolerable burden. He did 
not feel capable of protecting his vast possessions, and 
he had no son to inherit them. Nothing is known of his 
marriage, except that he had three daughters, Margaret, 
Katherine, and Helen. It is evident he had no wish to 
see them, as heiresses, suffer as his mother had suffered. 
He therefore resigned his estates in Caithness to his 
cousin, the third Lord Oliphant. The document 3 of Con- 
firmation under the Great Seal of a charter by Andrew 
Oliphant of Berriedale in favour of Laurence Oliphant 
of the lands of Berriedale and others, is dated 20th May 
1526. All the sorrows and bitterness of Andrew's heart 
are in the paper. He sets forth the array of the family 
misfortunes : the deadly enmity of Quarrelwood, the 
painful dependence of his parents during the lawsuit, 
the dreadful and cruel death of his brother Charles, the 
impossibility of living on his own estates "without the 
danger of death from the insults and plots of his enemies." 
Still a young man, his words are those of one who has 
suffered the storms of a long and unhappy life ; he is 
only anxious to shake off his responsibilities, to make 
some reparation to the successors of his grandfather, the 
first Lord Oliphant, for all the impoverishment the 
Caithness affairs had caused. Lord Oliphant, on his 

1 Gask Papers. 2 Oliphants in Scotland, charter 111. 

3 Ibid, charter 114. 


side, was to undertake to find husbands for Andrew's 
three daughters ; 

" giff it sail happin the said Andro mane Eemm to deces 
and nodet have na aris maile to be gottin of his body, 
that I and my aris sail of nyne and that cost and expenss 
caus be maireit all the dochteris gottin or to be gottin 
lauchfullie be the said Andro apon laudit men, as mony 
as the said Andro providis nodit in his tym." l 

It is difficult to understand why Andrew, who at this 
date was probably about twenty - eight or less, should 
have given up all hope of male heirs ; his daughters 2 
must have been little children at the time. However, 
no son was born, nor did he find prospective husbands 
for his little daughters before his death in 1529. 
Nineteen years after Lord Oliphant got the Caithness 
estates, he was called upon to fulfil the obligation towards 
the three cousins. He lost no time in doing so. It 
would seem natural enough to give the eldest daughter 
Margaret to his own brother, William Oliphant of Newton, 
thus keeping the promised dowry in the family. She was 
married to him between June 1545 and the following 
January. Very soon after the second sister Katherine 
was married to James, son of Andrew Oliphant of Binzean. 
The contract of marriage 3 is dated 12th January 1545, 
and James Oliphant engages to 

" contract marriage and solemnyssat the samin in face 
of halye Kirk" "betwix this and the fest of Candilmas 

Neither bride nor bridegroom could write their names. 
The contract is signed James Oliphant and Katherine 
Oliphant, " with our handis led at the pen be me Sir 
James Fentton Notar Publict." 

As to Helen, the last of the three sisters, record is 
silent, but in all likelihood Lord Oliphant found a " landit 
man" for her also. 

1 Oliphants in Scotland, charter 113. 

2 There were five daughters altogether, but two died young. Scots Peerage, 
vol. vi. p. 542. 

3 Oliphauts in Scotland, charter 122. 


The descent in the male line of the Cask family from 
the Lords Oliphant is in William Oliphant of Newton the 
husband of Margaret Oliphant of Berriedale. He was the 
second son of Colin, the Master of Oliphant, who fell at 
Flodden. The following list of the children of William of 
Newton and his wife Margaret, the daughter of Berriedale, 
will show how many of the Oliphant families derive their 
descent from the second Lord Oliphant. 

1. Laurence, from whom are descended the Oliphants 

of Gask, the Oliphants of Orchardmill, the 
Oliphants in Holland, the Oliphants of Ure, the 
Oliphants of Souterton, and Tomperran. 

2. John. 

3. A son whose name has not been discovered. 

Alexander Albany Herald is claimed to have 
been the third son, and the father of the first 
Laird of Condie. Alexander's wife was Janet 
Oliphant, and their son Laurence, first of 
Condie, was undoubtedly grandson of William 
of Newton, but whether on father or mother's 
side is not known. From this couple are 
descended the Oliphants of Condie, the 
Oliphants of Rossie, the Oliphants of Kinnedder, 
in Fife. 

4. Colin. 

5. Andrew, styled fifth son. 

The life story of William Oliphant of Newton is not 
easy to see clearly. The date of his birth, as before- 
mentioned, was between 1506 and 1513. His boyhood 
was probably passed at school, according to the law of 
the land, and his home would be with his brother, the 
third Lord Oliphant, at Dupplin. Nothing is recorded 
of him in his youth ; the first glimpse is in a charter l 
dated 1538. In 1543 he had acquired right to the 
west half of the Newton of Forgandenny lands, lying 
across the river from Aberdalgie and Gask. From this 
possession he was styled Oliphant of Newton ; the charter 
is from Crichton of Freudraught, and is dated 22nd 

1 Oliphants in Scotland, p. 349 


November 1545. It is said that the House of Condie 
was built about 1545 by William Oliphant of Newton, 1 
and was then called Newton House. If so, it is probable, 
as 1545 was the year of his marriage, that he and his 
wife Margaret lived there, and that their five sons were 
born there. 

Looking to the latter half of his life, the only part of 
which record remains, it is clear that William Oliphant 
was not a man of peace. Whether from their own 
aggressions, or from the turbulence of neighbours, both 
he and his nephew, the fourth lord, were always to the 
fore in the private feuds and skirmishes of Perthshire 
and Caithness. One of the first documents of the reign 
of James VI. concerns a quarrel between the Oliphants 
and Lord Ruthven, Patrick Murray of Tippermuir, and 
others. The King was a year old he is called in the 
document, which is dated 27th July 1567, " King of 
Scottis," although the coronation did not take place till 
two days later. 

William, fourth Lord Ruthven, afterwards first Earl 
of Gowrie, has been described as having a keen appetite 
for private revenge. 2 What the original dispute with 
the Oliphants was about is not now discoverable. The 
wonder is that Ruthven, then deeply implicated in the 
stormy events of the history of the day, could have had 
time to do the work of a private thief in a cellar. 3 
He was a son of the third Lord Ruthven, who, a dying 
man, had broken tempestuously into Queen Mary's 
presence, clad in armour and without announcement, 
to lead the murderers of Rizzio. He is described as a 
man of savage manners, and perhaps on that account was 
felt to be a suitable gaoler; the Queen was placed at 
Lochleven under his charge and that of Lord Lindsay. 
On the 1st July Ruthven insisted on being present when 
Melvil interviewed the Queen, and on the 24th played 
his part in forcing her deeds of abdication. 

1 Or and Sable, p. 343. 

2 Fraser Tytler, Hist, of Scot. 

3 It is strange that the traitor Ruthven should, through the marriage of his 
daughter, have been the grandfather of the great loyalist, Montrose. 


On the 29th he was present at the coronation of the 
baby King. Between these two events he had, on the 
21st July, been in Perth with Patrick Murray, Thomas 
Monypeny, Williame Flemyng, and Walter Pyper, 
burgesses, and certain other persons, and had 

" spulzeit and tuke fra the said William Oliphant out of 
a cellar ' certain vittal with gold, silver and other geir 
belonging to him, being for the time in the said cellar, 
and they knowing perfectly that the complainer would sue 
them therefore, thereupon they daily sell, annul, dispose 
and put away their lands, heritages corn, cattle and goods 
in defraude of the said complainer their creditor,' ' tending 
thair throw to frustrate him alluterlie, to his grete hurt 
and skayth and expres againis justice.' ' 

It was ordered to be proclaimed from the Mercat 
Cross at Perth, and other places, that the offenders should 
not be allowed to sell, pawn, or dispose of any of their 
property, nor should their " bairnis " or their " friendis " 
receive any property from them. Nothing more of the 
story is recorded. Possibly William Oliphant got his 
cellarful of valuables back again, or their equivalent ; 
but the Oliphants continued on bad terms with the 
Ruthvens till a reconciliation, fifteen years later. 

William Oliphant and his nephew, the fourth lord, 
appear about this time to have been specially tempted 
to violence, generally traceable to differences of religious 
opinion, in an age when tolerance was unknown. Two 
episodes concern Cask itself, of which there is at this 
period so little recorded, that the stories are here given, 
as they appear in the " Register of Privy Council." The 
date is 25th September 1570. 

" Complaint at the instance of John Duncan ' Auld 
Jhonne' in the Kirkland of Findogask against Laurence 
Oliphant and Gilbert Young, Walter Perny and John 
Stewart of Nether Findogask. They came at Lord 
Oliphant's instigation to the old man's 'maling' at 11 
o'clock at night while he was ' uponne his own rig, 
looking at the corn, Soliter his alane in sober and quyet 
manner.' There they set upon him, striking him with 


their ' battones and blunt end of their staffis and wappins, 
bostit straik and dang him on his bak, face and schulderis,' 
and then carried him away prisoner to Dupplin Castle 1 
'where he is still a captive." 1 

No light is thrown upon the motive for the outrage or 
upon the character of Auld Jhonne. Nothing appears 
to have been done, beyond ordering his release from 

Again, on 16th August 1571, at the instance of 
William Melrose, minister at Findogask, the following 
persons were summoned, Laurence, Lord Oliphant, 
William Oliphant, his "father-brother," John Oliphant, 
his servant, and various other Oliphants and Friskens. 
The complainer appeared personally and said : 

" On 4th August they came to the Manse of Findogask 
and there masterfully destroyit and pat to the ground his 
naill chamber, cuttit the ruife of it and destroyit the 
lofting of the same. So that the same William, being 
true Minister of the Word of God, was utterly destitute 
of a place wherein he might study and make his residence, 
for serving of the ' parochinaris ' of Findogask, both to his 
utter ' wrak and heirship ' and to the ' parochinaris great 
loss of wanting of his accustomed service in the said 

The indignant minister got justice. Lord Oliphant 
was ordered by the Regent and Council to pay him 
within twenty days thirty pounds for damage done, and 
to permit him to 

" cast faill and divot and to win stanes within my pairt 
of the said chalmer again." 

The aggressors had carried away all the timber " quhilk 
was portabill." The origin of the attack is not stated. 
This was in August ; a far worse affair is recorded on 
20th September when Lord Oliphant with various 
members of his family, including his uncle, William of 
Newton, was said to have killed James Ross, son of 

1 There was a " Thievis Hole " at Dupplin. 


the deceased Thomas Ross of Maitlands. The story is 
difficult to disentangle, owing to the confusion of fierce 
feudal disputes between neighbours and kinsmen. The 
original quarrel seems to have been between the Oliphants 
and a branch of the Rosses of Craigie. John Ross of 
Craigie was Governor of the Spey Tower in Perth, a 
strong prison, only demolished a hundred years ago. 

In July 1571 the Rosses expelled Jane Hepburn, 
widow of Thomas Rose, now wife of Peter Oliphant 
of Turingis, from the house and fortalice of Malare. 
Probably Jane had been left in possession under the will 
of her first husband, and saw no sense in giving it up 
when she chose a second. 

On the 20th September of the same year, the Oliphants 
were concerned in a broil with Ross of Maitland, in the 
course of which James Ross was killed. A year passed, 
and again in September Lord Ruthven and the Ross 
party, two hundred in number, went to Dupplin and 
beseiged it, hoping to have killed Lord Oliphant. They 
took some of the servants prisoners and kept them in 
irons at Perth. 

The career of the fourth Lord Oliphant was certainly 
not wanting in interest and excitement. To the private 
quarrels, battles and revenges which made up the 
ordinary life of a Scottish country gentleman in those 
days, were added a part in all the great historical de- 
velopments of the hour. 

Of his domestic life little is known. He had married, 
in 1551, Margaret Hay, daughter of the seventh Earl of 
Erroll. She died before 1593. Their children 1 were: 

1. Laurence, Master of Oliphant, married, 1576, 

Christian, daughter of William Douglas of Loch- 

2. John, who was of age in 1588. His father gave 

him a charter of a great part of the Oliphant 
lands, including Newtyle, a powerful stronghold. 
Though only a younger brother of the real 

1 A natural daughter, Katherine, married first James Weymss of Lathockar, 
and second Hugh Hay. 


master and an uncle of the fifth lord, he is 
styled Master of Oliphant, which has given rise 
to some confusion. 

3. William, styled "of Cask" 1595. He married 

Katherine, daughter of John Brown of Fordell. 

4. Elizabeth, married William, tenth Earl of Angus. 

5. Jean married, 1586, Alexander Bruce of Cultma- 


6. Euphame, married James Johnston of Westerhall. 

The Lords Oliphant were among the largest land- 
holders in Caithness. The property included six castles, 
of which Berriedale and Auldwick were the strongest. 
Accounts of all that went on there in the way of feud 
and foray make it easy to realise that it was not a 
desirable heritage. The Sutherlands in Duffus must 
have been unpleasant neighbours, nor did the absolute 
rule of the Earl of Caithness tend to promote the ends 
of peace and justice. At the fortress of Auldwick, which 
still exists, Lord Oliphant was besieged in 1569 for eight 
days, by John, Master of Caithness. There was no well 
in the keep, which accordingly was taken. The Caithness 
possessions caused infinite uneasiness in one way and 
another. No man could hope to hold the aggressions 
of his neighbours in check unless he lived on the land 
and could command his feudal army in person. 

As it was impossible for Lord Oliphant, with all his 
Perthshire interests to protect, to do more than make 
occasional visits to his northern castles, it was decided 
at last that his uncle, William Oliphant of Newton, 
should take charge of the Caithness estates. This was 
about the year 1583. William Oliphant was at the 
time at least seventy years old perhaps nearer eighty 
a very great age in those days, and it was no light task 
to take control of such property. 

In the month of July 1583 he was established in the 
house of Thrumster with his household of servants. 
The Sinclairs at the time had just had their hereditary 
powers of life and death reduced, by decreet of the 
Lords of Council and Session, "as a power strange and 


unsufferable." The Earl of Caithness, then a minor, had 
appealed to be appointed Justiciar as his fathers had 
been. The Council decided against him. It is not 
recorded in what way the Oliphants were involved in 
the matter but the year following, in July 1583, David 
Sinclair, a natural brother of the young Earl of Caithness, 
came with a body of men at night and forcibly turned 
William Oliphant and all his servants out of his house 
of Thrumster, seizing the crops and all the goods and 
gear. In September following the same David came to 
the fortress of " Tusbuster and Braiwin," and violently 
ejected Lord Oliphant's servants, taking possession of 
goods and gear. Dame Margaret Hay, Lord Oliphant's 
wife, who was in Caithness "for doing of her lawfull 
affairis," could not remain in the country. Lord Oliphant 
carried the matter before the court, and obtained decree 
against the Earl of Caithness, who took no notice, but 
continued to harry the Oliphant lands. He was then 
"put to the horn," and charged to go into prison in 
the Castle of Blackness. 

Very little more is known of William Oliphant. In 
1586 he bound himself to infeft his eldest son Laurence 
in Newton. He died in 1588, leaving, as already stated, 
five sons. 

Possibly after his death, the fourth Lord Oliphant 
was obliged to go personally more frequently into the 
wild Caithness country. He died there on 16th January 
1593, and was " buried in the Kirk of Wik." 

Of Laurence, Master of Oliphant, eldest son of the 
fourth lord, several exploits are on record, ending in 
the tragedy of his disappearance. 

He married in 1576 one of the "seven pearls 1 of 
Lochleven," Christian, the second of the seven daughters 
of William Douglas 2 of Lochleven. The bride must 

1 The other six " pearls " were (1) Margaret, married 1674 to John Wemyss ; 
(2) Mary, married in 1582 to Lord Ogilvy of Deskford ; (3) Euphemia, married 
1586 to Thomas Lyon, Master of Glamis ; (4) Agnes, married 1692 to seventh 
Earl of Argyll ; (5) Elizabeth, married before 1590 the ninth Earl of Erroll ; 
(6) Jean, died unmarried. 

2 Afterwards fifth Earl of Morton. 


have been very young; 1 but she would be able to 
remember Queen Mary at Lochleven. There were two 
children of the marriage : Laurence, afterwards fifth 
Lord Oliphant, born 25th March 1583 ; Anna or Agnes, 
who married in 1599 John, eighth Lord Lindsay of 
the Byres. 

Christian's short married life was chequered with a 
thousand anxieties, for her husband, the Master, was 
seldom out of trouble, being as full of rash and head- 
strong plans, as given to violent methods, as ready to 
take offence, as were any of his forebears in wilder times. 
The first of his fatal quarrels was the slaughter of 

The Earl of Mar was married at the Castle of 
Kincardine in Strathearn, the seat of the Earl of 
Montrose in October 1580. Among other guests, the 
young King James was there, for the bridegroom of 
eighteen was his old playmate and schoolfellow " Jockie 
o' the Slaits." The bride was Anna Drummond second 
daughter of David, Lord Drummond. 2 

Lord Ruthven was present with his retinue at the 
festivities, and when these were over he rode with his 
eighty followers on the homeward road to Perth. The 
direct route lay past the lands of Dupplin, where his 
enemies, the Oliphants, watched the cortege riding through 
the valley. Ruthven was imprudent enough to approach 
too nearly the stronghold of Dupplin Castle. Probably 
no harm was intended ; but at all events the presence 
of the little party so near the gates was interpreted as 
an act of bravado. An infuriated band of Oliphants 
and retainers led by the Master rode forth from the 
gates, prepared to fall upon Ruthven's little force, which, 
totally unprepared for hostilities, broke into flight, their 
leader among the rest. Five or six horsemen, however, 
stood their ground. Among these was young Alexander 
Stewart of Traquair, who without the slightest intention 

1 Her parents were married in or before 1 565. 

* She died before 1692, for in that year Lord Mar married again, Marie 
Stewart, daughter of the Duke of Lennox. One child was born of the Drummond 
marriage, John, Earl of Mar. 


of showing fight, desired to remonstrate with the Master 
for a violent and unprovoked attack. While holding his 
ground with this view, the young man was unfortunately 
shot dead, by one of Oliphant's followers. The deed, 
says Godscroft, was "sore against Oliphant's mind and 
to his great grief." The Master was brought to trial 
in the following December for the murder of Traquair 
" with a poisoned bullet " ; the criminal proceedings came 
to nothing, either through powerful influence, or because 
of evidence that the Master had given no orders to fire. 

The Oliphant's feud with the Ruthvens debarred the 
family from taking part in the great doings of the day. 
Eventually the Master of Oliphant brought the quarrel 
to an end in his own way. 

"On the night of the 20th of March 1582 at nyne 
hours, the Master of Oliphant came to the Lord Ruthven, 
now Erie of Gowrie, his chamber, without sword or aine 
other weapon and offered himself to his will." 

The result was a complete reconciliation. The sequel 
was the Raid of Ruthven. 

It is obvious that by this time the Oliphants had 
abandoned the faith of their forefathers, for the raiders 
represented the Protestant party, dividing sharply the 
two factions, and making Scotland realise that her 
questions of politics were in fact questions of religion. 
No Catholic was among the little group who held the 
King prisoner at Huntingtower, and went with him to 
Perth and Stirling. 

The Raid of Ruthven was a bold and well-contrived 
plot which placed the Presbyterian party in full power 
for nearly a year. The Master of Oliphant was among 
the leaders of those three thousand armed men who, 
intercepting the King, who had been to Perth on a 
hunting expedition, on his way back to Edinburgh, 
carried him a prisoner to the Castle of Ruthven. It 
seems at this distance an almost incredible feat for a 
handful of subjects to possess themselves of the person 
of the Sovereign and to wield through him the supreme 


power of the realm. The young King, a mere pawn in 
the game, was wholly at the mercy of his captors ; he did 
as he was directed, and said what he was told to say. 
The Master of Oliphant attended the Parliament held in 
Holyrood on 19th October 1582, when the King was 
made to say that the Ruthven raiders had done "the 
dewtie of maist loving subjectis to their soverane Lord 
in their repairing and abiding with His Majistie." Not 
till June of the following year did King James, eluding 
the grasp of the Protestant lords, escape to St Andrews, 
and call to his side his old friends and favourites. 

A new plot was formed within a few months to over- 
throw again the power of the King's advisers, and specially 
the inordinate influence of Arran. One of the objects of 
the conspiracy was the seizure of Stirling Castle, and in 
this attempt the Master of Oliphant was again to the 
fore. Most of his fellow conspirators fled to England ; 
but, unfortunately for the House of Oliphant, the Master 
and young Robert Douglas of Lochleven, his wife's 
brother, obtained license to travel for three years, 
24th December 1584. Neither of these young men was 
ever heard of again. They were reported to have perished 
in a fight with the Dutch, and their young widows l lost 
no time in marrying again. Christian Oliphant only 
waited one year. She married, 9th January 1586, 
Alexander, first Earl of Home. 

No proof of the death of either Oliphant or Douglas 
was ever brought forward. Many years afterwards, about 
1600, there was a rumour that the two men were known to 
be alive as captives at Algiers. A petition was presented 
to Queen Elizabeth that an expedition should be sent 

" for the relief of the Master of Oliphant and the Master 
of Morton reported to be made slaves by the Turks and 
to be now detained in captivity in the town of Algiers, on 
the coast of Barbary." 2 

1 Robert Douglas had married in 1682 Jean Lyon, second daughter of John, 
eighth Lord Glamis. There was an only son, William, afterwards sixth Earl of 
Morton. After her husband's disappearance she married in 1587, Archibald, 
eighth Earl of Angus, and again in 1593 Lord Spynie. 

2 The document is printed in the Oliphants in Scotland, p. 141. 


There is no evidence that anything was done in the 
matter, and it is possible that the gallant spirits of the 
two adventurous Scots were ground under the iron heel 
of the cruellest captivity then known to the world. A 
tablet has been placed in the English church at Algiers 
to their memory, 

" 1584. Laurence, Master of Oliphant, the Master of 
Morton and other banished Scottish gentlemen enslaved 
at Algiers, whence they were probably never released." 

The end of the terrible story will never now be known. 
Its results, as far as the Oliphant family was concerned, 
were disastrous. The death of the fourth lord in 1593 
left the family honours and estates in the hands of the 
unfortunate Master's young son, then ten years old. His 
upbringing would be Protestant, as it was in the hands of 
the Douglases, his mother's family. At the age of fifteen 
he was sent abroad, 1 and seems to have returned from his 
travels a Catholic. Owing to this change the fifth lord 
never took his position in the councils of his country. 
He seems to have had but little regard for public affairs. 
He married, in 1603, Lilias Drummond, eldest daughter of 
James, first Lord Maderty, and had an only daughter 
Ann, who married, as his first wife, in 1624, Sir James 
Douglas of Mordington. 

In spite of a feud between himself and his uncle, 
John, 2 who was slain before 1604, Lord Oliphant wished 
to preserve the peerage in the male line. He therefore 
resigned his honours in favour of Patrick Oliphant, his 
first cousin, and son of his uncle, John. This arrange- 
ment seems somewhat strange, as he had in the month 
of May, 1617, attempted to murder Patrick. Patrick, 
however, was not killed, and it must be supposed the 

1 There is a passport, dated 8th December 1598, authorising "the bearer 
hereof the Lord Oliphant Scochman presently travelling to the Court with three 
servants, to be provided with four sufficient able post horses and a guide." 
Calendar of Border Papers, vol. ii. p. 581. 

2 John called himself Master of Oliphaut, and was so called by courtesy. 
He and his nephew lived in open hostility. John came to the Castle of Newtyle 
"violently brake up the yettis, surprised and took the Castle, stuffit it with 
men, victual and armour and held it for a long space thereafter." Oliphants 
in Scotland, p. 64. 


quarrel was patched, since Lord Oliphant subsequently 
did all he could to secure to Patrick the honours of his 
house, in preference to his own daughter Ann. 1 

The fifth Lord Oliphant died in 1630, and leaving no 
heir male, was succeeded in his estates by his first cousin, 
Patrick, whose right to the title was the subject of a 
celebrated Peerage case between Patrick and Ann. The 
decision of the court was in the following terms : 

" They found that none of the said parties could claim the 
said honours, but it remained with the King which he 
might confer to any of them that he pleased." 

The honour was therefore merged in the Crown. Patrick 
Oliphant was by a new patent created Lord Oliphant, 
1633, as Charles decided that the heir male should have 
the title, and Sir James Douglas, Ann's husband, should 
be called Lord Mordington, with the precedency of 
Lord Oliphant. 

All the great estates of the Oliphants were dissipated 
by the fifth lord. A paper in the Cask charter chest 
calls him " ane base and unworthy man," apparently on 
the grounds of his spendthrift proclivities. He certainly 
did get rid of large tracts of land, and reduced the main 
line of the family from affluence to poverty, but except 
for this, there is nothing worse in his record than belongs 
to the record of most men of his time and class. 

Muirhouse was sold in 1605 ; the dissipation of the 
Caithness estates began in 1606 ; Kellie * in 1613 ; Newtyle 
and Auchtertyre in 1617. Aberdalgie, Dupplin, Gask, 
and Kinprony followed as the years went on. 

In the year 1625 Lord Oliphant's cousin, Laurence 
Oliphant, grandson of William Oliphant of Newton, 
bought the lands of Gask. 

1 Ann Oliphant, born after 1603, married Sir James Douglas of Mordington, 
as his first wife, in 1624. Their children were William, second Lord Mordington, 
born 1626 ; James, born about 1638 ; and Anne, married seventh Lord Sempill. 
Lord Mordington married again after Ann's death, Elizabeth Hay, widow of 
Hugh, Lord Sempill, and died llth February 1656. 

2 Kellie had been in the Oliphant family for two hundred and fifty years. 
The dormer windows of the castle are said to be the work of the fifth lord 
in 1606. 



WE now come to the story of Cask. It is easy to cherish 
remembrance of all in our ancestry that was self-sacrificing 
and courageous, and to bring to those great memories 
the best reverence of the heart. But the past claims 
more than this. Much of what happened in the far-off 
days, in the lives that were lived from the earliest 
glimmerings of history, the words spoken, the actions 
done, bring a sense of shame and wonder. In this record 
there are deeds of which we cannot be proud, deeds from 
which have sprung only sorrow and loss. 

But, still in the half darkness, the race was struggling 
towards a better understanding of life and what life 
means. The progress grows clearer as the student 
watches one generation after another arise and pass away, 
playing their parts through the storms of feud and war, 
and the perilous times of peace, towards the broaden- 
ing out of national life. 

It will be remembered that William Oliphant of 
Newton was the younger son of Colin, Master of 
Oliphant, who fell at Flodden. He died after 1588, and 
was succeeded by his son, Laurence, known as Lang 
Laurence. His other children have already been 
mentioned. The first glimpse of Lang Laurence is as 
a witness to a deed in 1571. He was pursued before the 
Sheriff in 1576 "touching the spoilation of Henry Ogilvy 
of ane grey horse." He married Mary Rollo, 1 daughter 

1 There is a letter in the Gask charter chest from George Crawford, the 
Peerage writer, to Laurence Oliphant, sixth Laird of Gask, stating that Crawford 
had seen the contract of marriage in Lord Hollo's charter chest. There is also 
a deed proving the marriage in possession of the Oliphants of Condie. (MS. 
by James Robertson of Lude, 1839.) 



of Andrew Hollo of Duncrub. Dates of his birth, 
marriage, and death are wanting; but he was dead in 
1601. His children were: 

1. Laurence, afterwards the first Laird of Cask, 

supposed to have been born about 1575. 

2. William of Orchardmill, ancestor of the Oliphants 

of Orchardmill and of the Oliphants in Holland. 
His will is proved 7th August 1674. 

3. John, of whom nothing is known except that he 

had a son, Laurence, who was at Insterbrig in 
Prussia in 1641. 

4. Margaret, married 1594 to Robert, illegitimate son 

of Robert Scott of Easter Balbarton (of the 

Balwearie family). 

Laurence Oliphant of Ross and Lamberkin, and after- 
wards of Cask, eldest son of Lang Laurence, married 
before 1606, Lilias Graeme of Inchbrakie, the widow of 
William Colville of Condie. Lilias Graeme was the 
youngest of the five daughters of the second Laird of 
Inchbrakie and his wife, Marjorie Rollo. 1 Lilias had 
two daughters by her first husband, Catherine and Marioni 
Colville of Condie, and he was alive in 1601, as that 
was the year in which he sold Condie to Laurence 
Oliphant, servitor of William Oliphant, King's Advocate. 
Between 1601 and 1606 there is no exact evidence of 
the events in the life of Lilias, 2 but during those years 
her husband died, and she married Laurence Oliphant. 
His cousin, the fifth Lord Oliphant, was disposing of 
his great estates, and bit by bit Laurence Oliphant bought 
the lands of Gask ; first, the lands of Ross in 1610, 
then Lamberkin in 1614, then Keirprow, Clathybeg and 
Keirwoodhead. He bought Cowgask from John, Earl 
of Montrose. His Great Seal charter is dated 1625, from 
which date he is known as Oliphant of Gask. The home 
of the family was at the house of Ross during the first 

1 The other daughters were Cristane, married to Drummond of Balloch ; 
Nicholas, married to Maxtone of Cultoquhey ; Annas, married to Robertson of 
Fascally ; and Catherine, married to Campbell of Monzie (Or and Sable). 

2 14th August 1606 Sasine in favour of Laurence Oliphant in Alchanaschie, 
and Lilias Graeme, his spouse, in the sunny half of the mains of Cultoquhey. 


twenty years of their married life. From Ross the two 
Colville daughters of Lilias were married ; the youngest in 
1613 to Sir James Murray of Tippermuir, the eldest 1 in 
1621 to Mr John Murray, minister of Kinkell and Gask. 2 
The six children of Laurence and Lilias Oliphant, four 
boys 3 and two girls, were all probably born at Ross : 

1. Laurence, second of Gask. 

2. Patrick, who is described as a "son of Laurence 

Oliphant of Gask, and a sister of Bishop 
Graham," was laureated at the University of 
St Andrews in 1632, and being at the New 
College there, was certified for probationary trials 
to the Presbytery of Perth, 29th January 1634. 
He was afterwards minister of Fetlar and Unst 
in Zetland. He married Margaret, daughter 
of James Mowat of Barrafirth. He left a son, 
Thomas, who was a sailor on board the Unicorn, 
belonging to the Company of Scotland, trading 
to Africa and the Indies, and a daughter, Lilias, 
who, in 1708, was resident at Suttertown 
(Souterton) in Strathearn. 4 Patrick had also 
a daughter, Katherine. He was the ancestor 
of the Oliphants of Ure. 

3. James, 5 who married Janet, daughter and heiress of 

Henry Riddoch of Tomperran; she survived 
him, and was alive in 1706. 6 He was styled of 
Tomperran, and afterwards of Souterton. He 
held a commission, dated 4th February 1669, 
in the Perthshire Militia. He was buried in 
"the Laird of Gask, his brother's sepulchre" 
at Gask, 5th April 1676. 7 

1 Catherine Colville was still alive in 1672, when she writes a letter to 
Laurence Oliphant "my brother Germane." He was, however, only her step- 
brother. She had at least two sons. 

* See page 98. Mr Murray was the illegitimate son of William, second Earl 
of Tullibardine. 

3 There was also an illegitimate son, Alexander, mentioned, in 1621. 

4 Fasti. Scot., vol. v. p. 444. 

6 Major Robertson of Lude, in his MS., states that James left two sons, 
William (who had a son, Laurence, married to Beatrix Drummond), and 
Laurence, who was a Writer to the Signet in Edinburgh. 

6 Macfarlan's Geneal. Coll., vol. ii. p. 124. 

7 Session Records. 



4. William, mentioned in 1629 as portioner of Craigs 

of Madderty. He was in Germany in 1635. 
His only son, William, married his cousin, 
Katherine, daughter of Patrick Oliphant, 
minister of Fetlar. She was alive 1682. 

5. Jean, married before 1629 to John Drummond of 

Pitkellony, who was killed at Charlemont in 
Ireland, where lie was besieging the rebels in 
1644. There was one child of this marriage, 
a daughter, Lilias. Jean married, secondly, 
Gavin, son of John Drummond of Culdees, 
and had a son, Gavin. 

6. Margaret, married February 1627, Alexander Inglis 1 

of Craigmakerran, Sheriff-Clerk of Perth. He 
died before 1st July 1653. She died 30th May 
1663 leaving a daughter, Lilias. A son, 
Laurence, was alive in 1634. In 1663 an " only 
son," Alexander, is mentioned. 

The years of the married life of Laurence and Lilias 
Oliphant were certainly not without troubles. Laurence 
Oliphant himself seems to have been of a fairly peaceable 
disposition ; but he certainly was involved in the feud 
which caused the killing of Gilbert Gray in 1605. Patrick 
Gray of Bandirran includes him in the discharge he 
granted to Lord Oliphant in 1617. The William and 
Laurence Oliphant, styled of Gask, who were implicated 
in the murder of the boy Toscheach, of Monzievaird, in 
1618, were uncles of the fifth lord not to be confused 
with Laurence of Ross and Lamberkin, and his brother, 
William of Orchardmill. The charter of the barony oi 

1 ' e In 1 644 there is a complaint by Patrick Martin in Campsie against Alexandei 
Inglis for assault and robbery. ' Tho the bearing of Hagbuts and pistols and 
convocation of the lieges is strictly forbidden by law,' yet Alexander came OB 
horseback and did pursue the said Patrick upon the mures of Craigmakerran, 
where Patrick was casting turfs, and Patrick, ' fearing his invasion,' ran away, 
but was caught and robbed of sword and pistols. A few days later Inglis came 
again with thirty followers, burgesses of Perth, and his wife, Margaret Oliphant. 
They took away fifteen head of cattle, which the Lords of Council ordered to b 
restored. Alexander said he had a right to the cattle by virtue of a decreel 
obtained before the Sheriff of Perth, and Patrick contended that the said decreel 
was illegal because he was cited on Sunday, ' being aue unlawful day.' " (Privj 
Council Records.) Major Robertson in his MS. states that Margaret Inglis lefl 
two daughters, and that the eldest, Margaret, married Archibald Butter oi 
Pitlochry, ancestor of the present Butters of Pitlochry and Faskally. 


Cask was on the old lines of that historic charter granted 
two hundred and seventy years before to "our beloved 
and faithful Walter Olyfaunt and his spouse, Elizabeth, 
our beloved sister." 1 Lord Oliphant now gave a charter 
of Gask with all its woods and fishings, and special 
liberty of fishing in the water Earn for three days in 
forbidden time, 

"to be held of the King in blench ferm fee, for yearly 
rendering, if asked, at the feast of the Nativity of John 
the Baptist, of a chaplet of White Roses." 

It is after the final purchase of Gask by Laurence 
Oliphant from his cousin the fifth lord, in 1625, that the 
Old House is seen inhabited. Part of the building is of 
so much earlier a date that it must have been a habitation 
for generations before ; but it is not possible to know who 
lived there and what happened there. As soon as the 
place of their dwelling is clear it seems as if the story of 
the Oliphants emerges into light, for they are no longer 
figures in an historical pageant, dim outlines in some 
record of feud or battle, signers of obscure charters, 
witnesses of forgotten deeds. 

When Laurence and Lilias are established in the 
House of Gask there rises about the records of them a 
sense of reality. They were in middle life. Jean and 
Margaret, their daughters, were still with them. All their 
sons were grown up. The days of their historical import- 
ance were past ; they were settling down to quieter times, 
to the serene life of country people, at a time when rights 
and property were beginning to be more respected. Now 
were formed those staunch friendships with other old 
families of Strathearn, the Hurrays, the Drummonds, the 
Graemes, the Robertsons, which were to outlast many 
generations. Doubtless, too, the Oliphants would be 
intimate with their neighbours and kinsmen across the 
Strath, six miles away the family of Montrose at Kin- 
cardine, where the seven children would be of about the 
same age as some of the Gask sons and daughters. The 

1 See page 35. 


Earl of Montrose rode about the country on his great horse 
" Grey Oliphant," and by his side, on a grey pony, rode the 
only son, destined to so splendid a career. Probably the 
Gask stables were famous for some breed of grey horses, 
for in several of the early Wills of the Lairds there is 
special mention made of these. 

All the married life of Laurence and Lilias Oliphant 
was passed in a time of peace ; Lilias alone was to see 
the "Great Troubles." 

Laurence Oliphant, the first Laird of Gask, died 22nd 
July 1632. He had been possessor of Gask only five 
years. The following is an extract of his will : 

" I, Laurence Oliphant of Gask, being seik in bodie, 
haill alwayis in spirit and of perfyt memorie . . . 
recommend my saull to God Almightie and ordeins my 
bodie to be bureit in the earth within the Kirk of Gask, 

He left a legacy to Lilias Drummond of Pitkellony his 
" oy " in remembrance of his love. His executors are to 

"cause bild above my buriell plaice ane sufficient and 
cumlie yle (aisle) with ane loft above the same." 

This is the first record of family burial in the Kirk of 
Gask, where so many of his line were to lie in days to 
come. To-day all is swept away, the old kirk with its 
"cumlie yle," and the loft. Within a stone's throw of 
the House of Gask it stood in its graveyard, only the 
road and a stretch of grass between, and thither, through 
the generations, the dead of the name were born for two 
hundred and seventy years. 1 The southern portion of 
the cemetery was considered the place of honour ; but in 
the case of the Laird, the burial was inside the church, 
and the spot chosen probably immediately under the 
family pew. It was also thought more respectful not to 
bury too deep. It is possible to form a picture of the 
scenes at a funeral in those days. Crowds of beggars 

1 The old kirk was pulled down about 1801. Jn 1845 an Episcopal chapel 
was built on the site by James Blair Oliphant, tenth Laird of Gask, and Lady 


surrounded the house from far and near, and within the 
doors the real mourners were overwhelmed in a mighty 
gathering of friends and acquaintances, whose absence 
would have been looked upon as an insult, and for 
whom the funeral ceremonies meant an orgy of eating 
and drinking prolonged for several days. 1 There was no 
religious service ; that had been swept away as savouring 
of popish practices. By the Church's austere decree it 
was a heathen festival. 

Over twenty long years of widowhood lay before 
Lilias Oliphant. There is a document with her signature 
in the Cask charter chest, dated 1653. She watched 
Scotland through the greatest crisis of her story. The 
peaceful years were over. The Great Troubles affected 
Cask as they affected all the land. The general clamour 
of the landowners, over the proposal of Charles I. to make 
them surrender Church tithes to the Crown, must have 
found an echo there ; but it was nothing compared with 
the general frenzy of determination that episcopacy should 
not be forced upon the country. 

There could have been small sense of peace in the 
five years between the death of the first Laird and the 
signing of the Covenant in 1638, for in those five years 
Scotland was fermenting stormily the struggle between 
the churches ; her people thrown from one principle to 
another in the worst of all contentions. England was 
in a tumult of discontent, though civil war was not to 
break out for years yet. There was no sense of security 

Laurence, the eldest son of Laurence and Lilias 
Oliphant, was established as second Laird of Gask in 
August 1632. His Great Seal charter is dated 9th 
March 1633. He married eighteen months after his 
father's death Lilias, 2 the eldest daughter of his cousin 

1 The traveller, John Burt, in his Letters, written about 1726, describes the 
pyramids of cakes and sweetmeats which after the funeral are put into your 
hat, or thrust into your pocket. This last homage they call the "Drudgy." 
He supposes it to be some survival of the dirge anciently sung at the conclusion. 
The word ' ' Drudgy " in his pronunciation, was, however, doubtless " Drage," a 
kind of spice, or " Drage'e," a small comfit. 

2 For marriage contract, see Oliphants in Scotland, p. 231, 


Patrick, sixth Lord Oliphant. Her father was three 
times married, first to Elizabeth Cheyne of Esslemont, 
who died 1616 the only child of this marriage was 
Lilias ; secondly, to Margaret, only daughter of Menzies 
of Pitfoddel, by whom he had one daughter, Margaret ; 
thirdly, about 1643, to Mary, third daughter of James 
Crichton of Fendraught. The children of this marriage 
were four sons and two daughters : Charles, seventh 
Lord Oliphant, 1 Laurence, William, ninth lord, Francis, 
the father of the tenth lord, Elizabeth, and Anna. 

In view of the part subsequently taken by his descend- 
ants, it is strange to learn that Laurence Oliphant of Cask 
signed the Covenant ; but then so did his brilliant kins- 
man across the Strath, Montrose, and so did many who 
were afterwards distinguished Royalists. There were 
circumstances which made it not strange that some of 
the best blood and the bravest hearts in Scotland should 
be on the side of what appeared to be liberty and justice. 
The Covenant was the charter of all that was dearest to 
the national character it was to safeguard the roya 1 
interests ; and when Montrose first drew his sword in its 
defence, numberless gentlemen rose with him in a tumult 
of enthusiasm, without seeing whither the Covenant was 
going to lead. It was not easy to see issues clearly in 
those days. 

Laurence Oliphant probably signed the Covenant at 
Perth, when it was 

"read sworne and subscryvit be the town of Perthe be 
standing up and everie man upholding their hands ; the 
women also were movit to stande and sweir." 

If his mother Lilias, and his wife Lilias, were among 
these enthusiasts, when Laurence Oliphant signed the 
Covenant, will never be known. 

His wife must have had a busy life among her children; 
to her and her husband were born in course of time 
nine children. The dates of their births have not come 
to light. 

1 The seventh Lord Oliphant married Mary, daughter of John Ogilvy of 
Milton, and widow of Peter Meldrum of Leathers. He had two children, Patrick, 
the eighth lord, and James, 


1. Patrick, whose history will follow. 

2. Laurence, who was apprenticed in 1656 to Robert 

Wallace, W.S. He died before his father on 
20th August 1772, and is buried at Cask. 
He married, July 1661, Anna, daughter of Sir 
George Preston of Valleyfield, and left three 
sons and two daughters. 

3. Andrew, in a document dated 1659 designed a 

Writer to the Signet, 1 who was dead 15th 
March 1666. 

4. Archibald, who was apprenticed to David Scott, 

apothecary in Edinburgh, in December 1664. 
He was of age before 1667, and was after- 
wards a chemist and burgess of Edinburgh. 
He married at Edinburgh, 1669, Anna, daughter 
of John Drummond, in Fintloch, who survived 
him and died 1694. He died without leaving 
children before 1686. 

5. Charles. 

6. David, who was a merchant burgess of Perth, and 

was in the Perthshire Militia in 1680. He 
died at Edinburgh, 2nd November 1707, and 
was buried in the Greyfriars. 

7. Lilias, married November 1668, to James Graeme 

of Orchill. They had six children, of whom 
four survived their parents. James Graeme 
died June, 1707, and his wife Lilias survived him. 

8. Anna, married April 1672, to Colin Campbell 2 of 


9. Elizabeth, married May 1676, to Gavin Drummond 

of Belliclone. Both were dead in 1733. 
The childhood of all these children was passed in an 
atmosphere of war. Within the peaceful walls of Gask 
House must have been discussed all the momentous events 
of the reign of Charles, the bitter religious controversies, 
the swaying to and fro of public thought. Here, too, 
must the news of Montrose's decision to throw himself 

1 Gask Papers. 

2 He was born 1635 (Or and Sable). Their son became a Lord of Session by 
the title Lord Monzie. 


on the side of his King, have been received with perhaps 
concealed exultation. The father of the family did not, 
as far as is now known, throw in his lot with Montrose. 1 
Evidence that he was of Royalist sympathies lies in the 
fact that he signed the " Engagement " that treaty with 
the Scots by which the hunted and despairing Charles, 
in his imprisonment at Carisbrook, agreed to the Solemn 
League and Covenant, and to the establishment of the 
Presbyterian religion at least for a time. The Scots in 
return engaged to restore him by force of arms. This 
" Engagement " was presented in due course to the Scots 
Parliament, and was approved by the most moderate of 
the Presbyterians. Less moderate men declared the 
King's concessions not sufficient to warrant further war 
with England. But Parliament gave orders, and soldiers 
were enrolled. The clergy were furious. The downfall 
of the Engagers was prayed for and prophesied in the 

Laurence Oliphant was not among the rigid Presby- 
terians led by Argyle ; but neither was he in the gallant 
ranks of the absolute Royalists 2 the followers of 
Montrose. In a less daring degree he had the same 
aim, though he lacked the fiery ambition and steady 
purpose of the King's great champion. It is to his 
credit that he signed the Engagement, and doubtless 
held himself ready to support it, and disappointing to 
find him only a few months afterwards apologising to 
the Presbytery of Auchterarder for having subscribed 
to this treaty. The Church chose to declare it "ane 
unlawful bond," and charged those who had signed with 
sin. Oliphant explained that 

" in the day of temptationne, being threatened with loss of 
life and fortune, he did put his hand to that bond, yet he 
did then protest before the Committee of the shire that he 
did it only in so farre as it agreed with the Covenant." 

1 Laurence Oliphant was not the " Cask " who is said to have caused the loss 
of the battle of Tippermuir to the Covenanters by deserting and going over to 
Montrose. Gask was one of the Atholl titles. 

2 He was a known adherent of the Royal Family, and was subjected to the 
enormous penalty of twenty thousand merks as a fine by Oliver Cromwell. 


He said he was " sorrowfull and grieved at his soull," but 
that there was no public Act of the Kirk to prevent his 
action. 1 

That Sir Laurence had parties of soldiers quartered 
at Gask during the Troubles is proved by the following 
account : 

" Item : for ye quarteris of 60 horse with ye Byden of 
my lord Lanerkis owne troupe ye space of thrie days ye 
25 May, 1646. 

"Item: for assisting quarteris to ye troupe of ye 
Marques Argyles Lievegaird in ye month of May. 

" Item : to four trowpers of Dalhousie's Regiment fra 
the 8 of Marche to the 14 thairof, 17 bollis aittis, 2 bollis 
peas with 40 threaves of straw." 

On 2nd January 1651 Charles II. was at Perth with 
the Committee of Estates. His affairs were desperate 
enough. Cromwell held Edinburgh Castle, and the 
King was firmly in the toils of the Covenanters. Worst 
of all, the great Montrose was dead. Laurence Oliphant 
went over to Scone, where the King was, with other 
gentlemen, and there received the honour of knighthood 
at the King's hand. 2 Perth, itself, was soon to fall into 
the destructive hands of the enemy, when the ancient 
tomb of the Oliphants was destroyed, and the monastery 
walls pulled down. 

The Gask children were born into the " Great 
Troubles," and through life must have carried the recol- 
lection of early years passed in an atmosphere of stormy 
contentions, and the passion of causes that seemed to 
change from good to bad. These were the first " bairnies " 
of the "Auld Hoose," the first little voices that sounded 
on the stair, where from generation to generation the 
light footsteps were to fall, and the voices call in the 
garden, as group after group through the long years 
were born, and lived, and died within the old walls. 

1 An account of the affair will be found in the Oliphants in Scotland, p. 238. 

2 Sir Laurence paid a hundred pounds Scots as fee " to James Balfour Lyone." 
The grant of his coat of arms, ' ' his true and unrepealable coat and bearing for 
ever/' is signed Ch. Araskine Lyon. 


These were the first young eyes that looked from the 
narrow deep-set windows across the road and field, down 
the slope to the kirk, and across the strath to the shining 
Earn, and the Ochils beyond. 

To be always upon the brink of war must have 
seemed to these children a natural state. There would 
be much talk of great affairs ; all the eager partisanship, 
the vividness, that belongs to life in action, and to history 
in the making. The causes of conflict were no doubt 
dreary enough to the children ; then, as now, the dry 
differences between two forms of service could not appeal 
to their sympathies. But the picturesque aspect of war, 
the alarms, the anxieties, the riding forth of soldiers, the 
chivalrous adventures, the desperate escapes, all these the 
girls, as well as the boys, at Gask, would eagerly follow, 
even though the father did not follow the fortunes of 
Montrose. It is easy to see how the blood of these 
children, passing into other generations, made for those 
qualities of loyalty to a cause and tenacity of purpose 
in the face of lost fortune, which so distinguished the 
family in time to come. 

Kincardine Castle, the home of Montrose, was only 
six miles away ; the smoke of it when it fell in the 
flames kindled by the Covenant was visible from the 
House of Gask. At Inchbrakie, a few miles to the 
north, Cask's cousin, George Graeme, fourth Great 
Baron, and his wife, Margaret Keith, 1 were attacked, 
and the estate "ruined and spoiled by violence." How 
well the children would know the story of Margaret 
Graeme, when her husband was in prison, left exposed 
to hardship and attack, bravely defending her husband's 
property. One of the blackest stories against the 
Covenanters would be, in the thoughts of these children, 
that which tells of Lord Balcarres stealing Inchbrakie's 
favourite grey mare out of the stable, " his wyffe, know- 
ing that he lovit the beast " riding off on her own horse 
to the enemy's camp at Balloch to get it exchanged for 

1 Mother of the celebrated "Black Pate," Graeme of Inchbrakie, the 
counsellor and companion of Montrose. She was a Keith of Ludquhairu. 


her husband's favourite. The chivalrous Covenanters 
seized the lady's own horse, and would not give up the 
mare. She was forced to walk the ten miles home on foot. 1 
At Dunning, the little town to the south of the Earn, 
within sight of the windows of Gask House, the amusing 
disorders of 1652 would be the talk of the countryside. 
A memorable meeting of the Synod of Perth and 
Stirling was to be held at Dunning ; but the assembled 
ministers were utterly routed by a Cavalier party, under 
the command of Mrs John Graham, consisting of a 
"tumultuous multitude of women with staves" who 
refused to let them enter the church. The brethren, it 
is recorded, retired to a house and called upon the name 
of God. They also resolved instantly to quit Dunning, 

"there being violence offered to all and done by the 
said women to some of the ministers upon the streets, 
by beating, persuing and spulzeing and taking from 
them their cloaks, and from some their horses." 

So they fled, but thirteen of them made a rally four 
miles away, and voted that Dunning should be accursed, 

" and that although in the years 1638-9 the godly women 
were called up for stoning the bishops, yet now the whole 
sex should be esteemed wicked." 

The news, doubtless, went up to Gask very quickly, and 
we can fancy the laughter and the exultation at the dis- 
comfiture of the brethren. 

The mania for destroying witches was at its height 
during the early years of the Oliphant children. Under 
the reign of the clergy the superstition grew and 
flourished, and caused the death of numberless wretched 
men and women. All social life was under the control 
of the clergy and their theological ideas ; " the more 
vividly the torments of hell are realised" says a writer 
"the more callous do men become to human sufferings 
in this world." 

There is a witch-knowe at Gask itself to the north 
of the Roman road, where human remains are said to 

1 Or and Sable. 


have been found, and indeed old records show that Sir 
Laurence Oliphant had an active part in the dreadful 
dramas of the suppression of witchcraft, and that Cask 
itself was specially the haunt of witches. In 1662 
commission 1 was granted to Lord Hollo, Sir Laurence 
Oliphant of Gask, David Drummond of Invermay, Harie 
Drummond of Pitcaries, William Oliphant of Cultochar, 
and others, or any five of them, for trying and judging 
witches. Some of the poor women must have been Sir 
Laurence's own tenants ; Janet Robe in Findogask, 
Janet Martin, Janet Bining, and Agnes Ramsay in 
Clathymore. 2 Imagination pictures the little trembling 
band summoned for judgment before the laird he to 
whom they had always looked for succour and support. 
A little later, Laurence Oliphant with his neighbours, 
were ordered to pronounce and execute the sentence of 
death upon eight poor creatures two of them were Gask 

Tragedies like these would cause no surprise to the 
Gask children ; they were being enacted all over the 
country, for the people were in the grip of a gross 
superstition fostered by the Church, and neither reason 
or mercy could stand against its decrees. The lives of 
all were lived out under the eye of the Church, and to 
these children religion would be a stern reality. The 
bell of the little church within sight of the windows re- 
called in season and out of season the fact that liberty 
of thought and action was only a name. The bell rang 
continually, and the Church courts enforced attendance 
at every service. Those who were absent suffered public 
accusation. Regularly as the bell clanged must the 
group of Oliphants have crossed the slope and reluct- 
antly taken their places. No one was allowed to go to 
sleep during the long dull services ; this having become 

1 In 1643 the General Assembly recommended that the Privy Council should 
institute a standing commission of any "understanding Gentleman or Magis- 
trates," to try witches. The popular madness reached its height in 1659 and 
the following year. The commission went on till 1668 when credulity began to 
abate ; but a witch was burnt in Scotland in 1722. Enlightened Germany burnt 
a witch at Wurtzburg as late as 1749. 

2 Register of Privy Council of Scotland. 


the comfortable habit of many worshippers, especially 
women under the shelter of their hoods, it was enacted 
that women were not to wear plaids or hoods on their 
heads in church. The beadle was provided with a long 
pole to rouse the sleepers, and also "to tak doun their 
plaidis from their heads." 1 In a certain parish the beadle 
was supplied with a pint of tar to put upon the women 
who covered their heads with plaids. The astonishing 
thing is that Scottish character and independence bore 
the endless tyrannies of the clergy, and that it was the 
English Commonwealth that swept away to a great 
extent the degradation of Church discipline in Scotland. 
The very soldiers of Cromwell would not see it tolerated. 
As late as 1664, there is a licence to Sir Laurence 
Oliphant to permit him to eat flesh in Lent with his 
family and servants, 

" William Lord Bellenden of Brughton, etc., Treasurer 
deputie of the kingdom of Scotland doeth heirby give 
libertie and licence to Sir Laurence Oliphant of Gask 
with his family his servants and all such as shall accom- 
panie him at table to eat flesh in this forbidden tyme 
of Lent and on all other forbidden days untill Lent 
next ensuing in the year 1665 without any hinder 
impediment or danger to be incurred by him or them 
for the same. Notwithstanding of any Act or Acts of 
Parliament made or to be made in the contrare. Given 
at Edinburgh the twentie fourth day of februar 1664 
yeare BELLENDEN." 

Not till 1690, however, were the civil consequences of 
the Church's sentence of excommunication done away, 
and the claws of the Church cut. Meanwhile, social 
life had been made as dreary as possible, and amuse- 
ments strongly discouraged. Both music and dancing 
were banned, and only regained their lost ground quite 
at the end of the seventeenth century. The consequences 
of the cutting off of all beauty and light in social life was 
peculiarly disastrous to the Celtic temperament. The 
evils of drink and immorality grew to great heights 

1 Kirk Session Record of St Andrews, 1649. 


in the absolute reign of the Church. That the spirit 
of intolerance stalked unchecked all through the land 
in the swayings of public thought, and was equally 
virulent on both sides, there is abundant evidence in 
the numerous pasquils and satires of the day. The 
following is entitled " Ane Prophecie concerning the 
Prayer-books " 

" Filthie leachers 
False teachers 
Cursing preachers 
Never calme. 

" Be hook or crook 
Yell never brook 
The service book 

In this realme. 

" Spyte of the Whigs 
Your can tings, jiggs 
And Bothwell Briggs 

And all your worth. 

" The Common Prayer 
Shall mount the stair 
Both here and there 

In South and North. 

" Railing Ranters, 
For all your banters 
This I foretell, 

" The Book shall spread, 
And shall be read 
Spyte of your ded 

Festivities at Gask all through the seventeenth century 
would be rare, and not of a desirable character. The 
occasions would be a coming of age, a marriage, a 
christening, or the starting forth in life of a son of the 
family. Everything would be under the inquisitorial eyes 
of the elders of the Church, on the look-out for scandal. 
Excess in eating, and specially in drinking, would be the 




marked features of all the social gatherings. There was 
nothing else to do. 

All through the years that Lilias Graeme survived 
her husband there was never any cessation of the struggle 
between one kind of service and another grounds not 
only for fierce debate, but for the distresses of civil war. 
To Lilias Oliphant, still in her youth, the movement of 
the time must have brought manifold disquietudes, for 
the private quarrels of Sir Laurence can be traced in 
family papers all through the years. 

The following letter is doubtless one of many that 
she received on like subjects. 

It is dated from Balgonie, 21st September 1651, and is 
addressed to Lady Gask. 1 

" MADAME, I received your Ladiships letter. As for 
that word I sent to your Ladiship concerning Drumkilboe 2 
I hear that he continues malicously disposed against your 
husband. The furie of yane fule is more dangerous (than) 
the wrath of yane lion. My oppinion is to your husband 
that he come not shortly hame will he heare some farther. 
I hop in God or it be long we shall heare better newes 
the journall that came owt last the speech of it is verie 
dangerous. If he could get wurd to your husband that 
he would come heir along to me whilk he may easily doe 
riding without airms, I would speak more to him than I 
will wreat I knowe, he and I both had not many freinds 
for the present quhom we may trust in to reveall our 
mynds, especially to mean of owre own name. God mak 
us thankful. The lose of Sir John Browne is the lose of 
the best freind who culd trust to in earth. My oppinion 
is that your Ladiship keep still with your brother James 
Hay, 3 whom I know to be ane understanding gentleman 
who has witt enough, in case as God forbid that one 

1 The wives of the large landowners in Scotland were invariably addressed in 
this way till the close of the eighteenth century. Without exception, all the 
letters in the Gask collection are directed to " Lady Gask," when intended for 
the wife of the laird.. The title was, of course, never added to the name, but 
only to the name of the estate. 

2 Sir Laurence was engaged for years in a troublesome lawsuit with John 
Tyrie of Drumkilbo and Douglas of Kilspindie, who was assisted by the Marquis 
of Douglas. 

3 This must refer to a son of the first marriage of Elizabeth Cheyne of 
slemont, the mother of the Honourable Lady Oliphant. She was the widow 

of Peter Hay of Megginch. 


happie man Drumkilboe should come to your fields to 
put by his furie. Your Ladiship writts to me for yane 
servant. Of a trewth I knowie none in your fields for 
that service except this bearer's Brother who is my servant 
and served me for that use. Notwithstanding for the 
present no man will quit any servant that he has. Yet 
if he can please your Ladiship I am content that he 
keep him. Being laith to trouble you any further for the 
present committing your husband, your self and all your 
children to the protection of Almightie God to whom I 
shal wish all happiness as to myself I rest your ladiship 
most assured lovinge cousinge to be commanded to the 
uttermost of his power. WILLIAM OLYPHANT." : 

To the same year belongs the letter now in the Gask 
charter chest from General Monck : 

" To all officers and souldiers whom these may concern. 

" These are to require all officers and souldiers under 
my command neither trouble nor molest, nor to offer or 
doe any violence or injury to the person of Sir Laurence 
Olyphant K nt> his Lady and children, servants, tenants, 
Lands or Houses, nor to seize or take away any horses, 
cattle, sheep or other goods belonging unto him or any 
of them ; but to suffer and permit the said Sir Laurence 
Olyphant to weare his sword, and both him and them to 
dwell and reside within their several habitations, as also 
freely and quietly to passe and repasse into any place or 
places within our quarters, and to follow their lawful 
occasions without lett or molestation. Provided they act 
nothing prejudiciall to the Commonwealth of England. 

" Given under my hand at Dundie, the 21st Oct. 1651." 

It is likely that Lilias Graeme spent the long years 
of her widowhood at Gask, thus beginning that precedent 
of the old remaining with the young that gives the place 
so many of its charming associations. In piecing together 
the family life within those grey walls it is striking to note 
how many of the Oliphants came back to Gask. There 
scarcely ever was a time when an old person was not 
living there side by side with the children. When old 
age came, they gravitated back to the old home. Some 
who did not end their days there, were brought to the 

1 Of the Condie family. 


ancient churchyard for burial. It was a place, then as 
now, that appealed to the imagination, with a charm that 
laid hold of the roots of life. Thoughts and longings 
turned thither as the days darkened. 

Men entered upon life early in those days ; the boys 
must have been very young when their apprenticeship 
began. Of the manner of their education no record 
remains. There must have been plenty of companion- 
ship with the Rollo and Graeme cousins near at hand, 
and the nine brothers and sisters filling the little house. 
There were groups of first cousins too, James Oliphant, 
the brother of Cask, and his family lived at Souterton 
near by, another brother, William, at the Mylne of Gask, 
and Andrew Oliphant in Overgask. Countless Oliphants 
were scattered over the country, many not traceably 
connected with the Gask family ; but there would be 
clanship among them all. 

Lilias Oliphant, the elder, died after 1654. Her 
daughter-in-law, Lady Oliphant, lived till January 1669, 
when there is record of her burial in the kirk of Gask. 
She lived to see one of her daughters married, Lilias 
Graeme of Orchill. The marriage took place only two 
months before her mother's death. 

The domestic life of the Oliphant household had been 
clouded for the last years of her life by an unhappy 
quarrel between Sir Laurence and his eldest son, Patrick, 
who must have been very young when the difficulties 
arose which ended in his disinheritance, and the passing 
away of the lands of Gask from the lawful heirs for fifty 
years. At this distance of time, and with imperfect record 
of what did really happen, it seems as if Sir Laurence 
dealt very hardly with his eldest son, who was at the 
outset of the trouble only about twenty-two years old. 
An old document in the Gask charter chest 3 gives a 
version of the story as follows : 

" Laurence Oliphant . . . inveigled himself in a foolish 
trifling plea, which occasioned his attendance for thirty 

1 Printed in the Jacobite Lairds of Gask. 


sessions before the Lords of Session at Edinburgh, and 
to assist him in the gaining of it he proposed a match 
betwixt his eldest son Patrick and a sister of the Marquis 
of Douglas, and made up the Bargen without having 
advised with his son, who had never seen the Lady ; when 
he informed him of it, his son refused to comply, because 
he was not sure if he should like her, and that it must be 
the ruine of his family to mak such an unequal match." 

So far, sympathy must be entirely with the young 
man. He was twenty-one ; he had never seen the lady. 
The first Marquis of Douglas had three sisters ; but the 
only sister alive in 1656 at the date of the Cask dispute 
was Mary who had been married in 1620 to the second 
Earl of Linlithgow, and was left a widow about 1645. 
Her father had died in 1611, so that she could not have 
been less than forty-five. Quiet resistance and refusal 
to consider the match would have been a safe and natural 
course ; but Patrick adopted the headstrong expedient 
of marrying some one else. Probably he already knew, 
and perhaps loved, Margaret Murray, the daughter of 
John Murray, minister of Gask and Kinkell. It will 
be remembered that the minister had, in 1621, married 
Catherine Colville, daughter by her first husband of Lilias 
Graeme, Mrs Oliphant of Gask. It is not known that 
Sir Laurence's father raised any objection to the match 
for his step-daughter. Margaret, Patrick's choice, was 
probably her daughter. The birth of the minister, who 
was an illegitimate son of the second Earl of Tullibardine, 
only became a drawback when it concerned an alliance 
with the heir of the name and lands of Gask. He had 
obtained letters of legitimation in 1634 ; but there were 
other reasons why the match was distasteful. John 
Murray 1 had brought an action against Sir Laurence 

1 A few details of John Murray's life are recorded. He had great difficulty 
in getting the roof of Trinity Gask church repaired. October llth 1660, "The 
Synod being informed at the censure of the Presbytery of Auchterarder that 
Mr John Murray when he celebrate the Holy Communion did, in the verie time 
of action, vent scandalous expressions to wit, when bread was wanting, he said, 
1 Is the bread done already ? I cof t three loaves,' and yet the people sat still 
at the table till they sent to a Browster House for more bread " (Reg. of the 
Synod of Dunblane, p. 239). Murray died December 1662 aged about seventy- 
one. He left sons and daughters. 


in 1656. The date of the marriage of Patrick and 
Margaret has not come to light, but doubtless it was 
before May 1657, at which date the estates of Gask 
and Cowgask with the family honours were settled by 
Sir Laurence on his second son Laurence, who was 
apprenticed to a Writer to the Signet at the time. 
Patrick, the disinherited, himself witnessed the contract. 1 
Five years before Sir Laurence had bought the lands 
of Williamston with other estates, and he made the 
promise of these lands also to the second son. Possibly 
there were other reasons why Patrick could not be looked 
upon as an appropriate Laird of Gask. His father's 
attitude was not one of undiluted wrath. In May 1657 
he grants a permission to Patrick to cast turf in the 
parish of Madderty " for the love I bear my son." Not 
until 1669, however, twelve years afterwards, did the 
father do his eldest son the tardy justice of settling him 
in the lands of Williamston. Thenceforward Patrick, 
the rightful heir of Gask, is known as Oliphant of 
Williamston. His brother Laurence, who was preferred 
before him, never lived to take up the family honours. 
He had married, presumably to the satisfaction of his 
father, in July 1661, Anna Preston, second daughter of 
Sir George Preston of Valleyfield. During the eleven 
years of his married life three sons and two daughters 
were born to him. 

1. George, who succeeded his grandfather, and was 

third Laird of Gask. 

2. Laurence, a student at St Andrews, who died in 

Edinburgh in February 1684 unmarried. 

3. William, who succeeded his brother as fourth Laird 

of Gask, and died unmarried 1704. 

4. Anna, born 1671, who married Patrick, brother 

of James Hay of Pitfour. Her husband was 
afterwards Provost of Perth, and was knighted 
by James III. and VIII. in 1715. A son, 
Patrick Hay, was alive 1728. 

5. Katherine, born 1672, married, 12th March 1711, 

1 Oliphants in Scotland, p. Ixxv. 


to Hugh Peterson, surgeon, in Edinburgh. In 
1710 she was sole heir of line to her brother 
William. Hugh Peterson was a man of some 
distinction. There is a fine portrait of him, 
painted probably by Medina, in the Hall of 
the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh. 
Hugh Peterson and Katherine Oliphant left 
at least two sons. 
Some quaint details J are preserved of the last illness 

and death in 1684 of young Laurence, the student at 

St Andrews, who died and was buried in Edinburgh. 

There is the bill of " dispursements of Laurence Oliphant 

be the Land Lady." 

" For milk and call to his posets. 
For wine and sugar and mes and bread to his 

For a boult of broad knittings to row about in 

his Cheircloath. 

For two pecks of brand to put in ye cofing. 
For four gallens and four pints of call from 

Wadensday to Seterday. 
To Agnes Whyt at the same date is paid 
For the making of the dead Linnen. 
For a pair of Shivreins." 

To judge by the amount of medicines, cordial powders, 
and so on, young Laurence must have been ill for a 
considerable time. He left a few debts for clothes to 
be paid by the Laird, his brother, among which were 
the following: 

" 1 dusson of justicoat buttons. 
1 skin for pocketes. 
1 Cantbeck hatt." 

The funeral, which appears to have been in the 
Greyfriars of Edinburgh, was made one of the indecently 
festive occasions when eating and drinking were the main 
attraction. The following is an abridged list of food con- 
sumed during the six days the body lay in the church 
before burial. 

1 Given in the Oliphants in Scotland. 


" 2 puttages. 

A large dish of tonge and Louer. 
Boyld Beif and turnenips. 
A leg of weill and cutlets. 
A dish of henes. 
A dish of wild foull. 
Bread and Alle and tost in the morning and at 

Wine and seek in the morning and at dener and ye 


Wyne that came to the lodging at severall times. 
Two pecks and two syds of shortbread. 
A peck of candied penkies. 
Tobaco and pyps at the ledquack." 

" Thir accompts," says a note, " is besyd drink money 
must be given to the women quho attended the Land 
Ladyes trouble blood-letting, the appothequories servants 
drink money and other contingent expensis." 

56 (Scots) was " payed to the wright for a fyne coffin 
lyned with base and frenzies." 

The following is a letter, dated 23rd February 1684, 
from a Laurence Oliphant the branch of the family is 
not given addressed from Edinburgh to " my much 
honoured cousin, the Laird of Cask," intimating Laurence's 
funeral. He calls him " my dear sweet Laurie." 

" EDINR., 23rd Febr. 1684. 

" MUCH HONORED CUSENG, I rcccaved yors of the 
17th inst., and your brother was very honourable and 
decently buried, and if he had bein all my kindred in on 
person, I could have done no more to him for I loved him 
dearlie, and I am content to be secured by his Mother's 
relations, the ladyes Cardross, Innergelly, Pitfoddels and 
severall others quho were present at his putting in in the 
coffin, and Mr Alexander Malcome and others that saw 
and knew quhat deuty was done." 

The lives of Patrick Oliphant of Williamston and his 
wife, Margaret Murray, were passed within the sight of 


the lands which should have been theirs ; their children 
would know every acre of the fair inheritance that was 
lost to them. During their father's lifetime they were 
too young to understand the sorrow and injustice. 

The seven children were probably all born at 
Williamston the quaint house still standing L. mile or 
two to the north of Gask House. 

1. James, born about 1666, afterwards the fifth Laird 

of Gask. 

2. Laurence, who was apprenticed to Robert Ranken, 

a skipper in Dundee 1697, but broke his in- 
dentures the next year. 

There is a disposition, dated 14th January 
1701, by him to his brother, James Oliphant, 
on account of his being about to leave the king- 
dom and travel abroad, appointing James as his 
only executor in case of his not returning, or of 
his death. He was afterwards a sailor on the 
ship Caledonia, and died abroad before 1708. 

3. Thomas. 

4. David buried at Gask, September 1675. 

5. Anna, died at Monzie in July 1697. 

6. Lilias, married 1694, contract dated 20th November 

1694, to David Shaw, 1 minister of Aberdalgie. 
Her married life was short. A son, Thomas, 
was baptized 9th February 1696. A few weeks 
after, on 4th March, Mrs Shaw was buried at 
Aberdalgie. The son lived at least till 1709. 

7. Margaret, born 1663, and died at Gask 1714. 

Of the mother, Margaret Murray, nothing is known 
beyond the one remark in the family records that she was 
"a good woman." No doubt there would be constant inter- 
course between the houses of Gask and Williamston, for 
there is no evidence that the disinherited Patrick and the 
usurper Laurence were not on the best of terms, and the 
two groups of cousins, much of the same ages, would 
naturally live in daily companionship. 

1 David Shaw married again in 1704 Margaret, daughter of Sir David 
Carmichael of Balmedie. He died 1729. 


Patrick must have looked upon the house and lands 
of Williamston as the ultimate home of the elder branch 
of the family which he represented. As he watched the 
growing family of his younger brother at Cask, he could 
never have dreamed that after all, his children, and not 
the children of Laurence, were to carry on the family 
name and honours. Yet time was to set right the wrong, 
and the process had begun before Patrick's own death in 
1689, though he did not live to see his own son succeed 
to the Gask estates. 

The history of Laurence's children shows how 
strangely sometimes circumstances will readjust an in- 
justice. Laurence himself, as we have seen, died, still a 
young man, in 1672, leaving a widow and five children. 1 
Anna Preston gives a bond, dated 2nd September 1672, 
that she will maintain and educate "Mr" and Anna 
Oliphant two of their children. At the same time 
Sir Laurence and his eldest son, Patrick, undertake 
to maintain and educate Laurence and Katherine. This 
arrangement leaves out one of the three sons. Probably 
they were all sheltered at Gask by Sir Laurence, especially 
after the mother 2 married again in 1678. The year after 
that Sir Laurence died, and his grandson George suc- 
ceeded to the estates as third Laird of Gask. He could 
not have been more than seventeen at the time, and he 
was only nineteen when he married, in 1686, Anna, 
eldest daughter of John Malcolm of Balbeadie. There 
was no child of this marriage, and the wife only lived 
two years. George, a widower at twenty-one, lost no 
time in marrying again. Four months after the death 
of his wife he married Jean, 3 fourth daughter of John, 

1 He left also an illegitimate daughter, Joan, married in 1676 to John Taylor 
in Gask. To the marriage contract is affixed the signature of Anna Preston, 
Laurence's widow. 

1 She married again, 17th July 1678, James Hay of Pitfour. 

1 There is a discharge Mrs Jean Balfour, relict of said George Oliphant of 
Gask, to William Oliphant now of Gask, her brother-in-law, for her mourning, and 
four hundred merks as the expenses of her inlying of her daughter, Jean Oliphant 
now deceased, heing the only child of the said George Oliphant, and born after his 
death, and for her nurses and doctors, fees, and funeral expenses, and also of 
100. Dated at Burleagh, 18th May 1686. Lord Burleigh and the Master sign 
among the witnesses. George Oliphant died 7th September 1684. In May 1688 
his widow married Robert Douglas of Kirkuess. 


Lord Balfour of Burleigh. In this year his name is 
found as a captain in the Perthshire Militia ; but in the 
following November, 1684, six months after his second 
marriage, he himself died. There was one posthumous 
child of this marriage, Jean, who died before 1686. His 
next brother, Laurence, who would have succeeded to 
the estate, had died in Edinburgh in the spring of the 
same year, so William, the third and last brother* became 
fourth Laird of Cask. He came of age presumably in 
1687, when he was served heir to his brother George. Of 
this laird very few traces are to be found in family 
papers. He represented the county of Perth in Parlia- 
ment in 1703. Many of the books in the Cask library 
bear his name and the date 1698. He never married, 1 
and died still a young man in 1704. 

Thus, through the deaths without heirs of three young 
heirs of Gask, the injustice done by Sir Laurence was 
after fifty years righted at last. James Oliphant of 
Williamston, the eldest son of Patrick, inherited the 
lands of Gask from his first cousin William. 

1 He left two illegitimate sons, Thomas and David. The latter was afterwards 
a glover in London. Both these sons were of age in 1718. Their father be- 
queathed each one thousand merks. 



IT was on 16th July 1689, the year of his father's death, 
that young James Oliphant married Janet Murray of 
Woodend, the daughter of a Presbyterian minister, 
Anthony Murray. The family was well known in 
Perthshire. The estate of Woodend, which is in the 
parish of Madderty, close to Gask, had been acquired 
by the Murrays of Dollerie in 1597. On the death of 
Janet's only brother the estate came into her possession. 
The married couple began life at Williamston, and 
soon a second generation of Oliphant children was fill- 
ing the little house. The names of the fifteen sons and 
daughters are here given in their order of birth. 1 

1. Jean, born at Williamston, 14th November 1690, 

died at Gask, unmarried, 17th March 1718. 

2. Laurence, whose history follows, afterwards sixth 

Laird of Gask, born at Williamston 29th 
December 1691. 

3. Thomas, bom at Williamston 30th May 1693, 

married Janet, daughter of Peter Meldrum 
of Leathers, died 4th September 1740, leaving 
no children. 

4. Margaret, born at Woodend 22nd December 1694, 

died unmarried 1712. 

5. Anne, born 22nd April 1696, married 22nd January 

1719, to John Drummond of Colquhalzie, died 
6th April 1740, and left sons and daughters. 

6. Lilias, born at Woodend 16th August 1697, 

1 From the Family Bible of the Woodend family. 


married, 1 August 1718, to Laurence Oliphant 
of Condie, who died in 1726, and afterwards 
in 1729 to Mr Bethune, Comptroller of the 
Customs. She died at Perth llth April 1732, 
leaving one son, Laurence Oliphant of Condie. 

7. James, born at Kinloch 29th March 1699. He 

married, June 1731, Janet Austin of Kilspindie. 
Died 6th May 1765, leaving four daughters 
and three sons. 

8. Anthony, born at Woodend March 1701, died 

23rd March 1702. 

9. Helen, born 8th July 1702, died the first Sabbath 

in September of the same year. 

10. William, born at Woodend 23rd September 1703, 

died in Jamaica 21st June 1738. 

11. Janet, born at Edinburgh 13th January 1705, 

educated at Edinburgh ; died unmarried in 

12. Patrick, born at Woodend January 1707, died un- 

married at Bagdad, 20th December 1750. 

13. Katherine, born at Edinburgh 18th May 1709, 

married Robert Graeme of Garvock 18th April 
1736, died 1775, leaving four sons and two 

14. Alan, born and died unchristened, 1711. 

15. Ebenezer, 5 born at Gask 7th March 1713, died 

26th October 1798, married Amelia Belches, 

a daughter of Alexander Belches of Invermay. 

There were five children, none of whom 

survived him. 

Considering the heavy infantile mortality common in 
those days, it is remarkable that of the eight sons of 
Gask six grew to manhood, and that among the seven 
daughters only one died as an infant, and two as young 

1 Her father leaves a record, " I payed the sum of four thousand merks, Scots, 
in name of dole and tocher with my said daughter." 

8 The child was perhaps saddled with this name in compliment to Ebenezer 
Erskine, then a noted and fashionable preacher. In the next generation one 
of the Condie's received the same name. Afterwards it was luckily only once 
repeated in the family. 


There exists a charming portrait of Jean, the eldest 
of the family, as a child or very young woman. A 
companion portrait represents her brother Laurence, 
the next in age, one year younger. Jean died young; 
but lived to see how the trend of thought in the Gask 
family, the interests of her brothers, the sympathy of 
her father, turned to the Stewart cause. She and her 
two eldest brothers were old enough at the time of the 
Union to share in the passionate resentment to which 
it gave rise. 

" From forced and divided Union 
And from the Church and Kirk Communion 
Where lordly Prelates have dominion 
Libera nos, Domine. 

" From a new transubstantiation 
Of the old Scots into ane English nation 
And from all foes to Reformation 
Libera nos, Domine. 

" From paying as our Darien costs 
By laying on cess and new imports 
From the English ruling Scots rests 
Libera nos, Domine. 

" From innocent men laying snares 
And killing Glenco men by pairs 
From sudden death, like the Earl of Stairs 
Libera nos, Domine." l 

All parties, even though of widely opposing interests, 
joined in the storm of protestation, and the country for 
a perilous moment hung on the verge of general revolu- 
tion. That danger averted, there remained a strong 
party, for the most part of Jacobite sympathies, who 
resolved upon quieter means of frustrating the measure. 
Petitions were unnoticed, threats firmly put down. It 
was decided that such of the nobility and gentry of 
the realm as were hostile to the Union should meet in 
Edinburgh on a certain date and go in person to the 

1 Mylne's MSS. 


Lord Commissioner to remonstrate against the passing 
of the Union, until the Queen should answer a national 
address. Some four hundred of the leading men in 
Scotland accordingly gathered in Edinburgh. The 
Duke of Atholl 1 took a prominent part in gathering 
together as strong and as representative a group as 
possible. In the following letter he sends a summons 
to the Laird of Gask. 

" EDINBURGH, 13th September 1706. 

"Sir, I designed to have sent an express to you 
to acquaint you that the Addresses from the several 
Shires having been little regarded there are several 
gentlemen coming in to adress personallie the Com- 
missioner and Parliament concerning this great affaire 
of the Union. Wherefore, I earnestly intreat and expect 
you will come here against Wednesday and also any 
of your neighbours that can come that you and they 
may serve your country, when our all is at stake. I am 
your real friend and humble servant, 


Unfortunately the counsels of the deputation were 
divided, some of the movers wishing to insert a clause 
in the address by which the succession of the House of 
Hanover was agreed upon. This was, of course, totally 
opposed by the Jacobites. Eventually, Atholl quarrelled 
with the Duke of Hamilton, and the lords and lairds 
went home. 

Whether James went to Edinburgh with the rest will 
never be known. The part he played in life was that of 
a quiet country gentleman ; busy, no doubt, with his 
estates and the management of a very large family. 2 

1 A malicious pasquil of the day commenting on the Union Parliament gives 
the following verse. 

' ' If the gallant and great but mysterious Duke 
Designe the true heir his kingdom should bruik, 
Or if coin and commission be the bait for his hook, 
He is wiser than I can tell." 


2 A perusal of the boot bills for his brood makes the reader realise the size of 
that family. William Steuart was the bootmaker. There were twenty-one new 
pairs in 1716 besides repairs. The men's boots cost 1, 10s. (Scots), the women's 
rather less. "Ten pairs of Bairn's shoes at 14 shillings scots each pair." Five 
long hides could be purchased for 4 Scots, and an ox hide at 5. 


He moved naturally from Williamston to the House of 
Gask on succeeding to the estates in 1704, and once 
more the old rooms were filled to overflowing. 

Some idea of the size of the " Auld Hoose," in which 
his sons and daughters were brought up, is gathered from 
entries and inventories in old wills. In James Oliphant's 
day there was the low dining-room, with arras hangings, 
ten faced pictures, and four oval tables, the high 
dining-room, the drawing-room, and the bedroom off the 
drawing-room, the library with a wainscot table and a 
Russia leather chair. There was the low east bedchamber 
in the north side of the court, the middle room, the 
cabinet room, and the little room. The " pantree " room 
had a red bed in it, and the north room a blue bed 
flowered with white threads. There was also a men- 
servants' loft, and a women - house, a stone room, and 
kitchen and laundry. The rooms were small, and it 
must have been a tight fit; but tastes were simple, 
and conditions of life had reached no luxurious standard 
in a country so impoverished as the Scotland of that 

While still living at Williamston, James Oliphant had 
applied to the Scot's Parliament in October 1690 for an 
Act to compel all the neighbouring heritors to drain the 
River Pow at Inchaffray, as it sometimes flooded all the 
countryside. " This is the only instance on record of a 
great agricultural improvement having been made under 
the authority of the Scottish Parliament." l This matter 
would, no doubt, occupy a great deal of James Oliphant's 
time and thought. There is record also of a keen quarrel 
with Sir Henry Stirling of Ardoch, caused by the erection 
of a dam dyke and a new mill across the Earn. After 
succeeding to the Gask property James bought in 1709 
certain Oliphant lands in Banffshire from the eighth Lord 
Oliphant. In 1711 Lord Oliphant resigned in his favour 
the "honour, title, dignity of Lord Oliphant with the 
rights, privileges, and precedency due and belonging 

1 Jacobite Lairds, p. 8. 


thereto," in return for a certain sum of money from 
Cask. 1 

The owners of Cask had, during the troubled years of 
the seventeenth century, been chiefly engaged in the 
improvement of their estates and the acquiring of lands. 
Though the second laird, Sir Laurence, had been captain 
of a company of the Perthshire Militia for the last ten 
years of his lite, and though the third laird was in the 
same company for a few months before his death, it 
cannot be said that the Gask branch of the family bore 
any distinct part in the military doings of the day, 
although in July 1652 the lords of estates of Scotland 
became bound to repay Laurence Oliphant of Gask 
1,800 Scots lent by him for maintaining of the armies 
that went to England and Ireland in August 1644. 

The revolution of 1688, which convulsed the Empire, 
had not caused the laird, William of Gask, to take part in 
military action yet at the beginning of the struggle to 
restore the Stewarts, the family seemed ready to adopt 
the Jacobite activities with headlong enthusiasm. It is 
natural to look for the influences that inspired this 
change and these are found in three sources. The first 
had its root in national sentiment. Scotland had been 
roused to a sense of her wrongs, which were very real. 
The injustice and tyranny to Scotland in the events after 
1688 seem injustice and tyranny still. No justification 
has ever been shown for the tragic betrayal of Glencoe, 
the contemptible and cruel spirit that wrought the ruin 
of Scottish finance in the destruction of the Darien 2 
colony nor has the judgment of time written its approval 
of the unfair terms of the Union. To the men of the 
hour it seemed unbearable that the rights of Scotland 
should be so disregarded. The name of William III., 
stained with the infamy of Glencoe and Darien, was 
bitterly hated. Anne was neither respected nor 

1 Lord Oliphant died in 1720, and Gask asserted his rights against an 
imposter, Andrew Oliphant, an officer in the Army, who claimed the title. 
The real heir was an uncle of the eighth lord, the Colonel William Oliphant 
who fought under Dundee and was a staunch Royalist. 

2 See Appendix. 


beloved. 1 In spite of her Stewart blood, she had no 
right to the throne. 

There can be little doubt that if the abortive 
Jacobite enterprise of 1708 had gone only a little 
further, the whole country would have rallied to the 
Stewart Standard. But James VIII. sailed passed the 
Firth of Forth, driven by the gales that were always 
against him in all he attempted, and lost the chance of 
his life. Seven years were to pass before he tried again, 
and in that seven years the irritations of the country 
had somewhat died down. Only in some quarters they 
smouldered still. The ancient independence of the 
Scottish race, once roused here and there, remained 
alight till action was possible. The feudal instincts woke 
again, the restless ambitions called once more, and 
the promised coming of a Stewart renewed the old 
impetuous questions. The Oliphants, after genera- 
tions of inaction, felt the old blood stirring. The dis- 
tresses of the country prepared the way; but personal 
influences counted too. Foremost among these was the 
example of Colonel William Oliphant, 2 the tried soldier, 
whose whole career was a living testimony to the sin- 
cerity of his political opinions. 

Probably a strong influence towards Jacobite senti- 
ment in the young Oliphants was brought to bear by 
Margaret, Lady Nairne, who may justly be called the 
mainspring of the movement in Perthshire. As the 
Nairnes were closely associated with the Oliphants of 
Gask, both by ties of friendship and blood, through the 
years to come, the following particulars will be of interest. 

Margaret Nairne was the only surviving child of 
Robert Nairne of Strathord and Margaret Graeme, a 
daughter of the Royalist, Patrick Graeme of Inchbrakie, 

1 King George naturally met with a still fuller measure of dislike. 
" God in his wrath sent Saul to punish Jewry, 
But George to Britain in a greater fury, 
For he in sin as far exceeded Saul 
As Gibby Burnet did the great St Paul." 


* Afterwards ninth Lord Oliphant. He was half-brother of Lilias Oliphant, 
wife of Sir Laurence, and therefore step great-uncle to the Oliphant boys and 


known as " Black Pate." Robert Nairne had suffered 
ten years' imprisonment in the Tower of London after 
being captured at Alyth in 1651. Margaret Graeme 
followed him to London, and married him in the Tower, 
remaining there till the Restoration. On his return to 
Scotland he was made one of the Lords of Session, and 
after twenty years was granted a peerage and the title 
Lord Nairne of Strathord. An infant, born 1669, died 
the next year. Another child, Margaret, was born in 
1673, twelve years after the marriage. The title was 
granted to her, after her father "and thereafter to any 
heir of her body by marriage with Lord George Murray 
or any of Atholl's younger sons." The first Lord Nairne 
died in 1683, when she was ten years old, and for seven 
years Margaret was Lady Nairne in her own right. At 
the age of seven years she had been contracted to the 
three year old George Murray ; but, as he grew up, his 
health failed, and the heiress was given instead to his 
elder brother William. The marriage was in 1690, and 
from that time Lord William Murray was known as 
Lord Nairne, in right of his wife. 1 Between 1690 and 
1714 twelve children were born at Nairne. The follow- 
ing list is given to show how widely spread, as time went 
on, was the Nairne influence and interest in Perthshire. 2 

1. John, born 30th December 1690, afterwards third 

Lord Nairne. Engaged in the rising of 1715, 
and also 1745. He married in 1712 Catherine 
Murray, third daughter of the first Earl of 
Dunmore. He had eight sons and two 
daughters. 3 He died exiled at Sancerre in 
France 1770. 

1 Many genealogical works make the mistake of asserting that the Nairne 
peerage was granted to William Murray. He only held it in right of his wife. 

2 The dates of the Nairne births are taken from a list in Lady Nairne's own 
handwriting, now in possession of the writer. 

8 1. James, born 1714, died 1737. 

2. William, born 1715, died 1729. 

3. John, afterwards fourth Lord Nairne, but never assumed the title, 

born 1716, died 1782. 

4. Charles, born 1718, died 1795. 

6. Robert, of whom nothing is known except that Laurence Oliphant of 
Gask wrote to Captain Patrick Graeme in 1739 asking him to take 
Robert on his ship as a common sailor. He died before 1755. 


2. Margaret, born 19th August 1692, married, 1712, 

to William Drummond, fourth Lord Strath- 
allan. She took an active part in support of 
Charles Edward in 1745, was taken prisoner, 
and remained in Edinburgh Castle for several 
months. Her children 1 were seven sons and 
six daughters. She died at Machany, 1773. 

3. Robert, born 1st October 1697, married, 1720, Jean 

Mercer, 2 the heiress of Aldie, when he assumed 
the name of Mercer. He took a prominent 
part in the Jacobite rising, and was killed at 
Culloden, 3 1746. He left two sons and a 
daughter. 4 From the younger son the present 
Lord Lansdowne is descended, the repre- 
sentative of the House of Nairne. 

4. Amelia Anne Sophia, born 29th December 1698, 

married, 1719, Laurence Oliphant of Gask, the 
Jacobite Laird. She endured many years of 
exile. There were four children, one son and 
three daughters, whose history follows. She 
died at Gask, 1774. 

6. Edward. He died before 1755. 

7. Thomas,, born 1723, died 1777. 

8. Henry, born 1727, died at Perth, 1816. 

9. Margaret, born 1713, died 1729. 

10. Clementina, born 14th May 1722, died at Sancerre in France, 17th 

January 1767. 
1 1. Margaret, born at Machany, 24th April 1714. 

2. Anne, born at Nairne, 3rd June 1715. 

3. Katherine, born at Edinburgh, 7th August 1716. 

4. Mary, born at Nairne, 23rd September 1717- 

6. Clementina Maria, born at Machany, 29th March 1721. 
6. James Francis Edward, born at Machany, 10th June 1722, died at Sens. 
,_ ( Charles Edward Louis Casimir John Silvester Mary, died an 

n ' Twins-! infant. 

I William, born 23rd January 1724, died 1772. 
9. John, born at Machany, 22nd June 1725, died in London 1743. 

10. Andrew, born at Machauy, 17th September 1726, died an infant. 

11. Amelia Anne Sophia, born at Machany, 27th October 1727. 

12. Robert, born at Machany, 12th November 1728, afterwards of Cadlands. 

13. Henry, born at Machany, 7th February 1730, afterwards of the Grange. 
These dates are taken from an MS. in the Strathallan family. 

3 Her mother Helen, also the heiress of Aldie, had married the heir male, Sir 
Laurence Mercer. James, their only son, succeeded in 1720, but dying the same 
year was succeeded by his eldest sister, Jean. 

3 A suit was raised to prove he was not killed at Culloden. See Appendix. 

4 1. James, born 1724, who died unmarried 18th December 1758. 

2. William, who married Margaret Murray of Pitcaithly. 

3. Margaret, who married her cousin, James Robertson of Lude. 



5. William, a sailor, born 1st October 1700. He was 

captain of the Swedish India ship Calmar, and 
died off St Helena on a homeward voyage, 
25th March 1743. 

6. Catherine, born 1st June 1702, married, 1719, William 

Murray of Taymount, afterwards third Earl of 
Dunmore, one of the Jacobites sentenced and 
reprieved in 1746. He died in prison in 1756. 
The children were three sons and four daughters. 1 
She died 20th July 1782. 

7. James, born llth September 1704. An officer in 

the British service, the only Whig of the family. 
He married Mary Wood, 1748, and had one 
daughter, Mary, who married Lieutenant Cook 
and died without issue. He died 5th October 
1788, aged eighty-four. 

8. Marjory, born 14th January 1706, married, 1739, 

Duncan Robertson of Drummachin, afterwards 
of Strowan, and suffered with him a long exile. 
She died 1793. Her children were two sons 
and three daughters 2 (one of whom married 
the younger Jacobite Laird of Gask). 

9. Charlotte, born 24th July 1707, married before 

1736 John Robertson of Lude. 3 She was an 

1 1. John, afterwards fourth Earl of Dunmore. 

2. Charles, horn 1732. 

3. William, born 1734, died 1786. 

4. Margaret, horn 1736. 

5. Catherine, horn 1739, married John Drummond of Logie Almond, and 

died 1791. 

6. Jean, horn 1741, died, unmarried, before 1771. 

7. Elizabeth, born 1743. married, 1763. to John Murray, afterwards Dean of 


2 1. An infant girl who died May 1745. 

2. Margaret, born 1740, married, 1755, her first cousin, Laurence Oliphaut 

of Gask, died 1774. 

3. Alexander, recovered the Strowan estates in 1784, died 1822 un- 


4. Walter Philip Colyear, an officer in the Dutch service, died in 1818 


5. Charlotte, born 1745, died in France 1765. 

* Mrs Robertson was left a widow about 1743. Having no husband to 
represent her in the struggle of the '45, and her son being then only five years 
old, she played a militant part. It is said her hand fired the first shot at the 
Castle of Blair when the Jacobite forces besieged it in 1746. 


ardent Jacobite. Her children were a son l and 
a daughter. 2 She died 1787. 

10. Mary, born 27th April 1709, died at Cask, 

unmarried, 1774. 

11. Louisa, born 17th June 1711, married as his third 

wife, 1748, to David Graeme the Jacobite Laird 
of Orchill. They had three sons. 3 She died 

12. Henrietta, born 3rd March 1714, died at Cask, 

unmarried, 1802. 

It seems to have been the object both of Lord and 
Lady Nairne to fill the lives and minds of their children 
with the high traditions of the past history of their 
race. In the blood of these children the noble strain 
bequeathed by "Black Pate," on the one hand, met 
with the equally heroic inheritance of Charlotte de la 
Tremouille, Countess of Derby, the spirited defender 
of Lathom House in 1644, and her husband the gallant 
Lord Derby, 4 who gave up his life for the Cause in 

1 James Robertson of Lude, born there August 1740. He married his cousin, 
Margaret Mercer, when very young in 1758, and died 1804. A son was born 
at Lude in 1742, when Lord Nairne attended the christening. There is no other 
trace of this child. 

3 Margaret Robertson of Lude. She married Robert Robertson of Tullibelton 
on 3rd December 1762, and died before 1799, leaving two sons and two daughters. 

3 1. William, born 1749, married Mrs Campbell 1778. 

2. David, born 1750, died 1775. 

3. Charles, born 1751, married Elizabeth Saunders 1773, died 1833. 

4 The spirit of Lord Derby, who in the end laid down his life for the Cause, is 
traceable in many of his descendants in Jacobite times. The following is his 
dignified and spirited reply to the summons to surrender the Isle of Man, by 
Ireton, the Parliamentary General. 

"I received your letter with indignation, and with scorn return you this 
answer ; that I cannot but wonder whence you should gather any hopes that I 
should prove like you, treacherous to my Sovereign, since you cannot be ignorant 
of my former actions in his late Majesty's service, from which principles of loyalty 
I am no whit departed. I scorn your proffers, I disdain your favour, I abhor 
your treason, and am so far from delivering up this Island to your advantage, 
that I shall keep it to the utmost of my power to your destruction. Take this 
for your final answer, and forbear any futher solicitation ; for if you trouble me 
with any more messages of this nature, I will burn the paper, and hang up the 
Bearer. This is the immutable resolution and shall be the undoubted practice 
of him, who accounts it his chiefest glory to be His Majesty's most loyal and 
obedient subject. DBRBY. 

"From Castle Town this 12th of July 1649." 

The Derby family ruled the Island of Man under the title of Kings of Man. 
On the death of the tenth earl without issue, in 1735, the second Duke of Atholl, 
descended from the youngest daughter of the hero, became Lord of Man. The 
Atholl family sold the Island to the British Government in 1765 for 70,000. 


1651. Towards developing all that was noble and 
chivalrous in the natures of the young Nairnes their 
education and training was directed, and the parents 
had the happiness of seeing them grow up true to 
the ancient family traditions. No regret for the part they 
played, no regret for lost fortune and broken career sullied 
the triumph of Margaret Nairne in her children's achieve- 
ments. As the long years went on, she watched without 
flinching the ruin of those dearest to her, as one after 
another threw in their lot with the perilous enterprise. 
Her sorrows were her glories too. The capture and 
imprisonment of her husband, with the frightful anxieties 
of his condemnation and sentence so nearly carried 
into effect, the exile of her eldest son, the death of 
Robert Mercer and of her son-in-law Strathallan at 
Culloden, the ruin and exile of her son-in-law Laurence 
Oliphant, the condemnation of her son-in-law William 
Murray, the broken lives of her daughters Marjory and 
Amelie all these griefs were met with resolute spirit. 
There was nothing to regret, nothing to withdraw even 
in thought. 

But not only among her own children are the traces 
of her influence. Something in her personality, in the 
living steadfastness of her principles, enabled her to draw 
men to the standard of the Stewarts, and to set their 
feet upon that hazardous path, as if inspired by her own 
passionate sincerity. No one will ever know how greatly 
her power and influence lay at the root of the Jacobite 
activities of the day. Women played large parts on that 
stage of glory and defeat, and Margaret Nairne gave good 
account of hers. Mar, in one of his letters, expresses the 
wish that all the men under his command had the spirit 
of Lady Nairne. The Duke of Atholl, her brother-in-law, 
attributed "the ruine of my three sons" to her influence, 
Tullibardine, Lord George and Lord Charles Murray, who 

For the descent of the Oliphants of Gask, through Lord Derby, from Henry 
VII., see De Ruvigny's Blood Royal of Britain. 

Through Charlotte de la Tremouille the Oliphant and Nairne connection 
were all descended from the Prince of Orange, whose daughter, the Princess of 
Nassau, married the Due de Thouars. They were the parents of Charlotte. 


forsook the principles of their father to support the 
Stewarts. The following letter, addressed to Lady 
Nairne from Harie Machany at Perth, dated 22nd 
October 1715, shows that her opinion carried weight 
with the leaders of the enterprise. 

" MADAME, I have spoke to the Earle of Mar who is 
extremely pleased with your Lad/ship's generous under- 
taking and has promised to make a minute in writting of 
the instructions necessary, and will wait on you once this 
evening at your Lodging to inform you of everything may 
be proper on the occasion and the affair you are going 
about. I shall wait on your Ladyship this night and 
receive your commands and am, Madame, your Lady- 
ship's obedient and most humble servant. 


It is easy to imagine that there would be constant 
intercourse between Gask and Williamston and the Nairne 1 
family, living only a few miles away. James Oliphant, 
the fifth laird, and William and Margaret Nairne, had 
married nearly at the same time, and their large families 
were contemporary the boys and girls companions and 
playfellows. Doubtless Margaret Nairne used her powers 
upon the minds of James Oliphant's young sons, Laurence 
and Thomas, and as they grew up, made the thought of 
another possible struggle for the Stewarts one of their 
dearest hopes. With Colonel William Oliphant, on one 
side, with his personal experiences, his tales of Dundee, 
his unquenchable spirit, and on the other the magnetic 
personality of Lady Nairne under the spell of a romantic 
cause, it is no wonder that the young Oliphants burned 
with enthusiasm, and that they were willing to risk and 
lose all, when the enterprise of 1715 took shape, and the 
call came. 

It was in the month of May 1715 that the Jacobites 
showed their first definite activity. John Erskine, eleventh 

1 The family name of the Nairnes was naturally Murray ; it is curious that 
it was never used by any memher of the family. Their letters are invariably 
signed Nairne, except when Ame'lie Oliphant wished for a disguise, and signed 
herself " Sophia Murray." 


Earl of Mar, was the head and front of the rising. For 
a long time the Jacobites in Scotland had fixed anxious 
eyes upon him. Mar was, however, no single-hearted 
devotee of the Stewart Cause. He had played many 
parts, and played them on opposing sides. Considering 
the efforts he had made in farthering the hated Union, 
it is wonderful that Scotsmen gathered to a standard 
raised in an enterprise designed not only to restore the 
Stewarts, but to cancel the Union. But Jacobites both 
in Lowlands and Highlands were ready for war, as far as 
national sentiment and discontent with existing powers 
could make them ready. Certain of a general insurrec- 
tion in England, and elated at the prospect of having 
amongst them King James himself, the clansmen were 
ready to welcome any leader. The old men in many a 
glen remembered Montrose and the glories of his brief 
career, the memories of Dundee were fresh yet in the 
minds of many who were still able to fight, the Highland 
chiefs still had the power of calling to arms their vassals 
and clansmen. As if the old days had come back, the 
old wild glories risen again, the men of Scotland yielded 
to the spirit of adventure. 

Mar was at Dupplin in the middle of August. He 
had married Lady Margaret Hay, a sister of Kinnoull, 
and knew that he could count on support there. It may 
be supposed that the young Oliphants of Gask would go 
over to Dupplin their own stronghold through so many 
centuries to meet Mar, join in the councils, and there 
offer the service of their swords. 

Perhaps the brothers rode away with Mar to Perth, 
and on to the great hunting match at Braemar on 27th 
August, the rallying point of the movement. With 
young Laurence and Thomas his brother rode also the 
Lords Nairne, Hollo, Drummond and Strathallan. Soon 
the Fiery Cross was summoning men from all quarters. 
On 6th September Mar raised his consecrated standard 
at Kirkmichael, in the presence of two thousand men. 
Everywhere enthusiasm grew. To strike a blow now 
would be to place the Cause at once in the forefront of 



politics throughout the Kingdom. Vigour and courage 
had been shown; Highlands and Lowlands were im- 
patient for battle, a battle too long delayed. Forced 
inaction told heavily on the spirits of the adventurers. 
King James was being proclaimed at the chief towns, 
Perth was taken, reinforcements had come up, the King 
was coming. On 10th November Mar broke camp at 
Perth and advanced by Auchterarder to meet the enemy. 
Laurence Oliphant and his brother marched among the 
clansmen, past the fields and woods of Cask, where 
perhaps his parents and brothers and sisters watched 
from the windows the progress of Mar's forces along the 
Strath below. The battle of Sheriffmuir was fought on 
Sunday, 13th November. "Fight or not?" Mar asked 
his men, relying on the answering shout, " Fight ! " 
Laurence Oliphant held a commission in Lord Hollo's 
regiment and was on the left wing, which was practically 
the defeated side. The complete victory, claimed by both, 
lay with neither army ; the mismanagement of the con- 
fused affray called forth the cry which has helped to make 
SherifFmuir immortal, " Oh for one hour of Dundee ! " 

Mar drew back to Perth, his object defeated. On 
the way the Jacobite army burned Auchterarder and 
Dunning. From Cask the flames could be seen. No 
renewal of an attempt upon Stirling was possible because 
of the lack of provisions for his army. There must be 
more weary waiting in Perth, more effort to keep the 
undisciplined forces together, more heart-burnings and 
bitter impatience. But the King was coming, and on 
that promise Highlanders and Lowlanders fed their 
dying hopes. 

The King landed at Peterhead at last on 22nd 
December 1715, and proceeded to Scone Palace, within 
sight of Perth. He remained in Scotland until 4th 
February. His visit of one fortnight revealed to him all 
that his advisers had endeavoured to cloak. He fought 
no battle, he was the centre for no wise scheme. There 
never had been any seed of victory in the rising. He 
came too late. 


Perhaps Laurence Oliphant and the other adherents 
recognised this when they went to Scone to meet at last 
the young King for whom they had been willing to spend 
their all. It must have been hard to let him know that 
Sheriffmuir meant nothing, and that another battle was 
not imminent. James, with all his ill-health, was full 
of warlike courage, the great quality he never lacked. 
He was now condemned, at the most crucial moment 
of his life, to dreary inaction. 

Laurence acted at the time of the Royal visit as one 
of the garrison adjutants at Perth, and was much about 
the person of the King, who remembered him fifty years 

In the private note -book of young Laurence are 
found some entries l regarding the orders of the day. 

"ScooN, 12th Jan. 1716. 

" Parole. Drummond. 

" Countersign. Stobhall. 

"That intimation be made to all the inhabitants of 
Perth that when any stranger comes into their houses 
to lodge, that they give in his name immediately in 
writing to the Governor. Any that does not observe 
this carefully will be looked upon and treated as enemies 
to the King and Government." 

On the 17th January there is another entry : 

" Parole. Erskine. 
" Countersign. Alloa. 

"That no fewer than 20 gentlemen besides officers 
mount the King's guard of horse and allways on horse- 
back, and that at relieving, the Guards draw out one 
against another, and the Captain that is relieved leave 
all the orders with the other Captain, and that the 
Centinells be very punctual to let no strangers pass." 

On the 22nd January the following orders are given : 

" That all the commanding officers call in all their 
people immediately. That the King may have his army 
as strong as possible to beat the Rebells who threaten to 
march immediately against us. And all the army to 

1 These entries are printed in the Jacobite Lairds. 

1691 - 1767 

VI.] AT SCONE 1 21 

hold themselves in readyness to march against them on 
an hour's advertisement. That the artilery Company 
do no other duty but break the ice as the Governor 
orders them." 

The last entry in this journal, dated at Scone, 80th 
January 1716, has a special interest. 

" Parole. Perth. 

' ' Countersign. Scoon. 

"All the army to hold themselves in readyness to 
march upon a call. 

" His Majesty has been pleased to give commission to 
Captain Arthur Elphinston 1 to be Lieutenant Colonel 
to that regiment which is forming out of those Officers 
and souldiers that come from the Usurper's army to 
serve their rightfull King." 

Laurence would keep all his life remembrance of the 
King as he saw and knew him at Scone, tall, thin, 
pale, grave of speech, silent, and composed. His air of 
dejection would be no matter of surprise in the circum- 
stances, though his inability to throw off a brooding 
habit distressed those who wanted him to be popular 
with his army and his friends. But blow after blow 
deprived him of any remnant of hopefulness. He realised 
that he had no general ready with a stroke of genius, 
no army large enough to strike definitely, no great party 
in England waiting his word ; above all, no help from 
France. The Fates as usual seemed leagued against 
him, for the Highland roads were blocked with snow, 
chiefs who had promised support did not come, and 
the ship bringing treasure for his use was wrecked off 

1 Afterwards Lord Balmerino, who laid down his life in the Cause thirty years 
later on 18th August 1746 in the Tower. Doubts have been expressed as to the 
place of his burial. In a letter from Lady Catherine Stewart, daughter of the 
Earl of Galloway, to Miss Mercer of Aldie, written 31st October 1746, she quotes 
the following lines as being inscribed on his tomb : 

"Here Arthur lies, the rest forbear, 
There may be treason in a tear, 
But yet this Rebel may find room, 
Where sceptered monarchs seldom come." 

Unfortunately, Lady Catherine does not mention where the tomb is, but it is 
now generally admitted that Balmerino lies in the Tower church. 


In the midst of all these distresses, the King was 
making preparations for his coronation. He fixed the 
date. Even before he landed, all his friends knew that 
Perth must be abandoned as soon as Argyll was ready 
to advance, as no defence was possible, and that the 
coronation was a baseless dream. It had to come 
to the King's knowledge at last. He urged resistance, 
and would have fought to the death. But his Council 
prevailed and the campaign was abandoned. To the 
bitter wrath of the Jacobite forces, the fight for which 
they longed was denied them. Had there been con- 
sulted only the King and his army, who knows to what 
unexpected triumphs he might have led his men, find- 
ing perhaps for himself a glorious death ? But between 
himself and his army, leaders and generals interposed, 
and he could but follow their advice. Even now, the 
King, consenting to the retreat northwards, could only 
gradually have dreamed that it meant the end of the 
campaign, the final acceptance of defeat. Mar got the 
King to go to Montrose with him, instead of turning 
northwards, and next day, 15th February, when the 
enemy were close on their heels, within four miles of 
Montrose, Mar induced the reluctant sovereign to go to 
board the Maria Theresa of St Malo, and sail away for 

The King had spent a fortnight of torture in his 
own kingdom. He fled now in bitter grief, leaving his 
adherents to the fury of the Government. Deeper still 
his griefs were to go when he heard of the execution 
of Derwentwater and Kenmure, the ruin and exile of 
those who had fought in his cause. After the King's 
departure, when the remnant of the Jacobite forces 
retreated across the frozen Tay, and all hope was over, 
young Laurence Oliphant and his brother went into 
hiding. Of the place of their shelter and of the 
adventures that befel them, no echo remains. It was 
necessary to disappear for a time till the storm blew 
over. When they did return it was to find themselves 
in better plight than many of their comrades. 


James Oliphant had taken the precaution of executing 
a deed of entail of the lands and baronies of Gask and 
Cowgask in favour of his wife in life-rent and James 
Oliphant, his third son, then a boy of eighteen, excluding 
his elder sons until they were purged of suspicion of 
being concerned in the Jacobite rising. This saved the 

The date of the return of the two soldier sons is not 
recorded, though there is reason to think they were still 
in hiding in August 1716. The first actual evidence of 
their being at Gask is found in a letter from young 
Laurence, dated 17th March 1718. 

Jean, the first born, was dead. There is no other 
word concerning her but what this one letter contains. 1 
Nothing but the charming portrait of the young girl 
remains to show she ever lived. Laurence writes from 
Gask to his brother James at Edinburgh. 

" DR B B , I give you by this the melancholy accounts 
of my sister Jean her death which happened this morning 
about seven of the clock. 

" We are to have our mournings from Perth because it 
is not possible to be provided so soon from Edinburgh, 
how soon this comes to hand take of cloathes for yourself, 
buy three mourning swords for my Father Brother and 
myself and also take my Aunt 4 Mrs Ann Murray's 
advice in providing a sett of wine-glasses 2 of the most 
fashionable kind, I believe there would need to be 2 doz. 
of the same bigness, but your two advisers will best direct 
you about them. If Mr Murray provides us in Chirrey let 
it be at Couling Cellar at Kirkcaldy Wednesday by twelve 
of the clock. . . . Your sister's interment will be on 
Friday, so faill not to come off in time." 

The next family event was in 1719, when young 
Laurence married Amelie Anne Sophia Murray, the 

1 Two books which belonged to Jean are in the Gask library, the Psalms in 
Latin and a Greek Testament. 

2 Wine-glasses were articles of luxury by no means common in Scottish house- 
holds. It was as well to have a supply for Jean's funeral. Eight pints of brandy, 
twenty-eight gallons of ale and three dozen bottles of wine were consumed. 
James Drummond's account for making "ye chest" was 15 (Scots). There 
was a stone of Caudle custom, and two pair of mufles for Jean's sisters. 


second daughter of William, Lord Nairne. The marriages 
of Amelie's brothers and sisters have already been given, 
so it will be realised that this marriage linked together in 
stronger bonds than ever all those interests which centred 
in the Stewart Cause. But Laurence achieved more in 
his choice of a wife than the strengthening of his position 
as a Jacobite. He won a woman whose qualities of 
courage and fortitude, linked with enduring nobility of 
character, render her justly the pride of her descendants. 
Her memory shines through all change, unchangeably 
steadfast. Her picture shows a handsome woman, dark- 
eyed and dark-haired, with delicate but decided features 
and a fine countenance, where both sweetness and 
character are written. 

From her cradle Amelie lived in the atmosphere of 
Jacobite tradition. Her training and her education had 
been directed to developing her mind towards those 
loyalties which were the guiding stars of her mother 
Margaret Nairne's existence. Young as she was at the 
time she became Laurence Oliphant's wife, she had 
already paid her share of the heavy price of the family 
principles. She had endured the trial of her father's 
and brother's capture and captivity after Preston ; she 
had known of her father's condemnation, and lived 
through the dreadful hours which were to have been 
his last. Perhaps she was one of the two daughters of 
Nairne who visited him to bid him farewell, on the eve 
of his execution. 1 

But even after so much endurance, such an early 
overclouding of her skies, she was only at the beginning 
of the sacrifices she was to make all through her life for 
the family principles. The comforts of middle age, as 
well as the careless joys of youth and the peace of old 
age, were to be offered on the altar. Looking back 
along the road of life Amelie could see from first to 
last how great was the sum of what had been yielded 

1 Charlotte, afterwards Mrs Robertson of Lude, was one of the daughters who 
visited her father in prison. She was a young child at the time. There used to 
be a portrait of " Lady Lude " at Tulliallan Castle, painted by Kneller. She is 
represented as Diana with bow and quiver and a crescent on her forehead. 


up, how endless the sorrows and submissions of her 
lot. But no other life could so well have suited her 
fine temperament. In the face of distress and disaster 
she was possessed by the spirit of energy and courage, 
tenacity of purpose and masculine grasp of affairs. 
Fitted in every fibre to be the wife of a hero, the 
mother of heroic sons and daughters, the ancestress of 
those who keep sacred through the generations the 
memories of honour and sacrifice, she kept alive also 
the fire upon the household altar, the traditions of the 
home. As her story is traced through the years, and 
the splendid position she made for herself as helpmate 
and counsellor unfolds, there unfolds too the record of 
achievements that were "pure womanly." 

Amelie had the highest happiness of life, she was 
mated with one who fulfilled her ideals. There are two 
portraits of Laurence Oliphant. One as a little boy, 
evidently painted as a companion picture to that of his 
sister Jean, an attractive little fellow in coat and wig. 
Later in life he appears as a ruddy - faced gentleman, 
his countenance not handsome, but its plainness re- 
deemed by a kindly, genial expression. This portrait 
was doubtless painted at the same time as that of his 
wife. Laurence Oliphant, known in Jacobite story as 
the "Auld Laird," began life as we have seen, with a 
practical evidence of his loyal principles, and through 
life never departed from these. The following words 
about him express the feeling of his descendants: 

"A shrewd Scot, swayed through life by the two 
overmastering principles, Chivalry and Religion : a man, 
free, open-handed and great of heart ; careless of renown, 
but most heedful of his good name ; willing to starve or 
to lose his beloved Perthshire acres, rather than tell a lie 
or become a burden on his King ; . . . a good specimen 
of that breed of men who were the main strength of the 
armies of Charles the First and who fought for his sons, 
his grandson and his great grandson . . . never has more 
chivalrous loyalty or more unflinching self-sacrifice been 
witnessed." l 

1 Jacobite Lairds of Gask, p. 351. 


The Oliphants took no part in the rising of 1719, the 
Spanish scheme, the third of the century, and the only 
expedition really backed by ships and men from any 
foreign power. Again the elements fought against King 
James, so that only two frigates out of the fleet reached 
the west coast of Scotland. The news of the fallen enter- 
prise wrapped the King yet deeper in the gloom that had 
become second nature. All over Scotland it was felt 
that the time was not yet ripe for another attempt. The 
fires of enthusiasm burned low. 

It was in this year that Laurence Oliphant married. 
The marriage negotiations did not run quite smoothly. 
Many years afterwards Amelie wrote : 

"My Mother's Uncle Newton 1 made a great bustle 
about our settlement, in so much that the marriage was 
given up, and I was ordered by my parents to tell Mr 
Oliphant not to speak to me any more upon the subject, 
which in obedience to them I did." 

Laurence Oliphant told his father that if the Nairne 
proposals were not accepted, he would leave the country. 
The father in consequence " caused a Tailzie of his Estate 
to be made," but this document was never signed. 

Quite up to the marriage day there seem, however, to 
have been some difficulties. Lord Nairne writes to the 
bridegroom from Nairne, 18th September 1719. 

" SIR, Tho' I have all imaginable esteme for your 
Father and you as being men of honour and as such 
have entirely trusted my daughter's settlement to you, 
and should have been glad to delivered her to you to- 
morrow, ye same day of ye week I had ye happiness to 
be married to her mother, yet for decencies sake, since so 
much time and talk has alrade passed about your contracts, 
you might even have patience untill they be ready, which 
I hope may be again to-morrow seunight." 

Laurence and Amelie were married 2 at Nairne on 
29th September, and settled at Williamston. It is easy 

1 Sir David Falconer of Newton, Lord President of the Court of Session. 

2 In the same month, September 1719, James VIII. was married at Moiite- 
fiascoue to Clementina Sobieski. 


to picture the welcome home the pair would receive from 
parents and brothers and sisters at Gask, eight of whom 
were still under the family roof at the time. 

The account of expenses incurred still lies among the 
Gask papers. 

" For horse hyre to Mr Oliphant and his brother. 1 

A coach hyre to Edinburgh. 

Cleaning two pair pistolls. 

Two pair red stockings to groom and footman. 

Two wooling night capes. 

A footman's cap and riband. 

For a pound of tea, eighteen shillings. 

A yard and six nails camerick for six pair ruffles. 

Seven yards three nails Holland for six night cape 

Making the coursee shirts at 15 pence. 

Drink money to taylors, 12 pence. 

A velvet night cap, 5, 8s. 

A small stone to a ring, 2, 14s. 

Men and women's gloves from Perth. 

Silver crampet, twenty-eight shillings. 


Pair Duncyster stockings, five shillings. 

Horse hyre from North Ferry, 4. 

To music at Nairne, 29th September, 2 gineys. 

Drink money to servants at Nairne, 14. 

October 12th, for music at Gask, a giney. 

To Alice Carryer for bringing ye wedding clothes 
and others, 12, 12s. 

For a wedding Ring and small Ring, 17. 

For a diamond Ring, twenty-five pounds. 

A gold watch, twenty-eight pounds sterling. 

October 22nd, to Clark Richardson for writeinge 
ye contracts of marryage, five Gineys. 

To his son George, two Gineys." 

This marriage was not the first in the family, for 
in August of the year before the fourth daughter, 
Lilias, had been married to Laurence Oliphant of Condie, 
but the marriage of the heir 2 was of course a great 

1 The sums paid are partly indecipherable. 

2 Two years before the date of the marriage James Oliphant recorded what 
he meant to do for his eldest son. He was to settle the estate upon him and his 
heirs. " The casualties payable out of the said Barronie are two mill swine, 36 


family event, and probably attended by important 

The following is a list of the children of Laurence and 

1. Margaret, born at Nairne 22nd June 1720, married, 

June 1748, to Patrick Graeme of Inchbrakie, 
died 1785. They had three sons and three 

2. Janet, born at Williamston 21st July 1721, 

married at Paris, 1st January 1758, to William 
Macgregor Drummond of Balhaldie, died at 
Corbeil 8th December 1758, leaving one son. 

3. Laurence, born at Williamston 25th May 1724, 

" the young Laird " ; married Margaret, eldest 
daughter of Duncan Robertson of Strowan, 
9th June 1755, died 1st January 1792, leaving 
six daughters and two sons. 

4. Amelia Anne Sophia, born at Williamston 29th 

January 1730, died 22nd January 1734. 
Interest has so centred in the lives of the two Jacobite 
lairds, that the simple record of James's quiet life affords 
little material in comparison. There are not many letters 
in his writing, nor many addressed to him. He was a 
steadfast man, with a keen eye to the family interests, 
not only those of his own branch. With his wealth and 
strong family loyalties he seemed, in an unquiet age, a 
rock on which to depend. The Lords Oliphant were 
for long almost dependent on the Oliphants of Gask, 
who had for two generations been busily gathering, 
while the scions of the main branch were scattering. 
The following letter, from Laurence Oliphant, younger 
of Gask, to Mr Drummond, is evidence that James 
Oliphant helped his cousin for years. 

capons, 75 keek liens, 69 chickens, 378 poultrie, 149 load of coals and 360 load of 
peats." " Gask will dispone to his son the Heritable Office of Bailliery of all and 
hail the lands lying within the Abbacy of Inchaffrie." " Mr Oliphant is to have 
the full and free disposal of his wife's portion, both principal and interest, for the 
behove of the children of the marryage. Mrs Oliphant is to have of jointure 
during the lifetime of the present Lady Gask twelve hundred merks of annuity, 
and after the said Lady's decease, a hundred pounds sterling of Locality out of 
Lands that are of that yearly rent." 


" Lord Oliphant l had in the year 1708 or 1709 gote a 
promise of a Captain's commission in Orkney's Regiment 
(after haveing incumbered his small estate almost to ye 
value) but could not obtain to be put in possession 
without a sum of money for buying his equippage &c. 
for this he applyed to the Gentlemen of the name, but 
they would do nothing altho my Father offered to 
advance ye one half if ye other Gentlemen would give as 
much ; then his Lordship tryed his friends and acquaint- 
ances in the North to gett his lands sold but could find 
none to give such a price as would clear all ye debts. . . . 
He again applyed to my Father, disponed him his Lands 
almost exhausted with heritable debts, and got from him 
4000 merks in ready money." 

Other letters 2 show how frequently such help was 

The House of Gask, once filled to overflowing, became 
stiller as the years went on, and the sons and daughters 
went out into life one after another. In 1729 the wife, 
Janet Murray, died. In the Gask accounts, carefully 
preserved, are found the expenses of her funeral. It 
was a stately and expensive affair, to judge by the large 
quantities of food ordered. As soon as a death happened, 
the minds and time of the survivors were wholly taken 
up with the necessary arrangements for the county 
gathering that ensued. In the handwriting of Laurence 
Oliphant, the younger, is a closely written list of goods 
ordered for his mother's funeral. These include 

"A dozen lobsters, three large cods and a few small 
fish of what kinds can be gott, and a dozen of habets, 
if it is possible to gett a few oysters or crabs." 

These were to come from Crail. From Edinburgh he 
ordered anchovies, capers, olives, bottled cucumbers, " six 
forren mangoes," a mutchkin of walnuts, a pot of bar- 
berries, seven hundred pickled oysters, six neats tongues, 

1 Patrick, eighth Lord Oliphant. He had a commission as Captain in the 
1st Battalion Royal Scots in 1708. See Scots Peerage, vol. vi. p. 557. 

2 Printed in the Jacobite Lairds of Gask, and the Oliphants in Scotland. 



a "mutchkin of sweet oyll," two pounds of " marmallit of 
oranges," spices, sweets, " half a pound of truffles and the 
same of morells," "and a chopen bottle of good snuff." 
He also gives an order. 

" That the room be hung of black garge (gauze) and the 
Kirk seats and pulpit. That ye Isle be plaistered and 
painted black, with white tears, also the ston room doors 
and windows and the door of the church." 

The amount of food was astonishing. For meat there 
was a hind leg of fine beef from Perth, a fine veal, a 
cow to be killed at Gask, a roast of pork, four muttons, 
two dozen choice hens, six capons. The drink supplied 
included ten dozen of strong claret, five dozen small, two 
dozen chirrey, two dozen brandy, a barrel of brandy. It 
was also an occasion for replenishings throughout the 
house. Knives, forks, and spoons were bought, and six 
dozen wine-glasses, but the extra chairs required were 
borrowed from Lord Hollo and from Millearne. The 
Charley Murrays lent a cook to help the Gask and 
Williamston cooks. 

Laurence ordered for his father's mourning, 

" A mourning night-gown and bell for Gask and a black 
big coat, and a hole of sadle furniture covered with black." 

His mourning cost 2, 2s. Scots, but this included " black 
for the chaplain, crape for the servants' hatts etc." An 
idea of the ladies' mourning is given by the dressmaker's 
bill of Katherine, Gask's daughter : 

" 4j black ferret for the petty coat . . 9 shillings. 

1 yard fine norage crape . . .8 shillings. 

1 pair black gloves and a drop scarf . 19 J shillings. 
17 yards fine Camerick for a head suit, 

ruffles and napkin" . . . 11, 5s. 

For making the tail of the gown . .16 shillings. 
For making a calamancoe petty coat . 8 shillings." 

Every arrangement had to be made for the comfort 
and convenience not only of friends, but of the crowds 
of servants, retainers, and beggars who flocked to the 


house. The little girnell house and barn were set apart 
for the country people, grooms, and footmen. As the 
crowning preparation, the Cask stable was to be cleaned. 
For nearly three years James outlived his wife. 
He died at Cask, 10th April 1732. By a strange 
coincidence his daughter, Lilias Bethune, died at Perth 
the next day. Of his fifteen children eight survived 
him, but not one would be living at Cask, he had no 
unmarried daughter, and the sons were scattered. There 
must have been comfort in the nearness of Williamston, 
the attentions of Laurence and Amelie, and the sight 
of the children there, who would in these last days 
come often up the hill and over the ridge to the house 
of Gask. The last days came, and again in the 
younger Laurence's hand are all the funeral accounts: 

"April 9. To a servant sent express 

for doctors . . . .six shillings. 
To Dr. Fleeming . . . . two gineys. 
300 nails to the coffin . . .12 shillings." 
The usual enormous supplies of food were ordered. The 
wine supplied cost 450, 14s. Scots. The kitchen 
furniture was borrowed from Dupplin. 

One entry shows a glimpse of young Laurence's tender- 
ness for his little son, then six years old, who was evidently 
to follow in his grandfather's funeral procession. 

"To walk before ye corps, Mr M'Leish, Thomas 
Oliphant, William Thompson, James Oliphant, James 
Ranken, Peter Red. Mr M'Leish to take care of my 
son at the kirk stile." 

The life of James Oliphant bridged the gulf between 
the old Scotland and the new. He could remember 
the persecutions, the blood and horror of the "Killing 
Time." He lived to see the birth, so long delayed, of 
a spirit of religious toleration, and the grimness of dismal 
discipline relaxed. He witnessed conditions of life and 
government that made possible the tragedies of Glencoe 
and Darien. He heard the distant thunder of the 


Revolution 1 of 1688 in England, and the nearer sound of 
war when Dundee made his desperate stand for King 
James. He saw his country making her last struggle for 
the national independence she had maintained through a 
thousand years of war. He saw her pass, in spite of 
all, through the humiliation and loss of the Union in 
1707 ; he watched her grow again, stronger in many 
essentials, into the beginnings of commercial success. 
He saw fighting cease to be the universal business of 
every man who could bear arms, new interests, new 
energies, new ambitions, coming in upon the rising tide 
of prosperity. He lived through the greatest of revolu- 
tions, the change in national character, the development 
in men's thoughts, habits, and aims. Two centuries ago 
events moved swiftly ; in later days so complete a change 
could not come in the space of a single life. 

As regards the absorbing political interest of the 
family, James Oliphant was an onlooker in three un- 
successful Jacobite attempts. He had seen the fortunes 
of the Stewarts sink to the depths, but he lived to see 
them rising like a star, though at the date of his death 
the hopes of their adherents hung on the frail lives of 
the boy princes at Rome. 

1 William of Orange was cordially hated in Scotland from the first. The 
following is a coronation song of the time : 

"The llth April has come ahout, 
To Westminster went the rabble rout, 
In order to crown a bundle of clouts 
A dainty fyne King indeed. 

" He has gotten part of the shape of a man 
But more of a monkey, deny it who can, 
With the head of a goose, but the legs of a cran, 1 
A dainty fyne King indeed. 

" In Hide Park he rides like a hog in armour, 
In Whitehall he creeps like a country farmer, 
Old England may boast of a goodly Redeemer, 
A dainty fyne King indeed." 

1 A cran is the iron instrument placed across the grate to support a pot or 


LAURENCE and Amelie did not, on the death of the 
fifth laird, take up residence at Cask at once. Perhaps 
they left their first married home with reluctance. 
The earliest recollection of their children would be of 
Williamston, where three of them were born. Two girls, 
Margaret and Janet, came first, and then, in 1724, 
Laurence, the "young laird" of Jacobite history. The 
baby girl born in 1730 died at three years old. Of the 
three children who lived, each one through life was a 
devout adherent of the Stewarts. The training began 
in very early youth, when it would be easy for the 
parents to fill the little minds with stories of the '15, 
with the glamour of the past, and with brave hopes 
for the future, giving them an absorbing interest in the 
child prince Charles Edward, who, born in the same year 
with Margaret Oliphant, was now the shining star of 
Jacobite fortunes. They would be taught to think of 
him as longing, in his Italian home, for the hearts and 
hills of Scotland. They would think his thoughts, making 
him a real playfellow, the chosen topic of their childish 
talk, the honoured guest of their imaginations. The 
children would be told of the new star that appeared 
the night of his birth : through good and ill, in days to 
come, their eyes never ceased to watch the star, their 
feet never were weary in following it. Help to the 
imagination lay in the fact that Margaret was the same 
age as the Prince ; he would be measured by her height, 
and as the years went on, her childish progress would 
be his also ; it seemed possible to watch him growing 


as she grew. Charming accounts came from Rome of 
the brilliant boy, vigorous in health and spirit and daring, 
and later of his brother Henry, in whom there was a 
new source of comfort and rejoicing and hope for the 
future. Though there came no call to arms, the home 
at Williamston was the shelter of many a passionate 
hope, of many a whispered scheme. 

It is possible to form an idea of life at Williamston ; 
the old house is still there, and in 1723 Laurence drew 
up an inventory of its contents. Some of the items are 
as follows : 

" Arras hangings for the rooms, a walking chair for 
the bairns ; pewter trenches ; a punch bowl ; four drink- 
ing jugs of earth, silver forks and spoons ; a spinning 
wheel and six big bobbins ; christening clothes ; a cradle 
from Perth ; a little boat for salting salmon ; a little 
handy for washing the bairns." 

True to the traditions of his house, young Laurence 
opened hospitable doors to relatives and friends. To 
Williamston came the Aunt Margaret, daughter of 
Patrick the disinherited, who, born in 1663, the year 
after the Restoration, lived to see the children of a fourth 
generation and the triumph of the House of Hanover. 
Close by, at Machany, the Strathallans, a family of boys 
and girls, children of Amelie's sister Margaret, were 
growing up with the same secret hopes, the same aims 
as the Oliphants ; the Nairne cousins also came and went, 
bringing with them the atmosphere of their enthusiasm 
in the Cause. Margaret Lady Nairne would be often 
there to see Ame'lie and the little grandchildren, rejoicing 
in the chance of imbuing a second generation with her 
own steadfast loyalty. 

While the Gask branch of the family were living 
prosperously in the quiet shelter of home, the chiefs of the 
race were falling more and more into obscurity and distress. 
The following letters give some idea of the dismal histories 
of the last Lords Oliphant. Patrick, the eighth Lord 
Oliphant, 1 died in poor circumstances in London in 1720. 

1 He was unmarried, but left a natural son Charles. 


He was succeeded by his Uncle William, then Colonel 
Oliphant, who was living at Orleans. In the following 
letter his landlady in London announces the death of 
the eighth lord. 

"Jan. 30. 1720. From Isabella Harrison in 
London to Col. Oliphant at Orleans. 

"MosT HONOURED SIR, But I believe you are now 
the Right Honourable Lord O. I had the honour to 
have your nephew in my house when he died 14th of 
this instant and was buried the 18th in the valt of St. 
James Church where I hope he wont be long, but be 
buried among his ancestors. He had no relation about 
him but strangers but had a decent private buriall : he 
came sick to my house and laboured seven weeks under 
a sore distemper which was a dropsie, a hectick fever 
and consumption. I found your letter after he was ded 
and thought it was charity as well as duty to acquaint 
you of this last mournful scene for he was mallancholy 
to the highest degree he was carfully, tenderly took care 
on while he was here and had all his desires accomplished, 
as to what he profest, he made his agent his execiter 
whose name is Mr Joseph Wildigos who undertook to 
pay and receive what me Lord was indebted and what 
was due to him being acquainted with all the Lords 
affairs. He never write to any of his relations because 
he was not capable of doing it himself by reason of his 
weakness, but as much hi his right reason to the hour 
of his death as he was in his best health. I could have 
had a letter pen'd more suitable to his quality and yours, 
but I chused to do it myself, because 1 would make 
nobody acquainted in his secret and yours: both is as 
safe in my brest as in your own being your countrywoman 
born within 12 miles of me Lord. Me Lord gave God 
thanks heartily for casting his lot by providence in my 
house which was perfectly to satisfaction. You were so 
earnest in your requests to my Lord for an answer that 
I thought it my duty to answer it since I knew none 
to do it but myself, and if you have to say or write 
to me what you would have done, I'll serve you faith- 
fully to the utmost of my power, which is all from your 
obedient servant to serve you, 



" Bery Str. St. James next door to the 
White Swan near St. James' House. 

" I understand you desire mightily to know me lord's 
circumstances ; he had a pension of the Government of 
two hundred a year due which at lady day next will be 
three hundred and by his Captain and lieutenants place 
3 hundred a year at half pay, which amounts to five 
hundred a year sterling money, but what me Lord owes 
I am not shure of, but they say 5 hundred pounds is the 

On receiving this letter, Colonel Oliphant gave up 
his commission in the French service, returned from 
Orleans to Scotland, took up the honours and title of 
Lord Oliphant, and coming to live with his relatives at 
Williamston, ended his days in that friendly shelter. 

With a quaint disregard of hereditary right and the 
claims of a nephew, he made a resignation of the honours 
and dignity of the title in favour of James Oliphant of 

While in the Spanish service, Colonel Oliphant had 
married Marie Magdaleine Elinga, a Frisian lady, described 
as daughter of a councillor of Ghent. An only daughter l 
was born, Marie Jeanne, who married at Orleans, in 1710, 
Louis Grenolias Sieur de Cournou. The old Colonel 
lived with his daughter and her family of three sons and 
two daughters, until the death of his nephew, the eighth 
lord, decided him to go back to his own country. 

Few records remain of the life and correspondence of 
Colonel Oliphant, but the following letter which reached 
him at Orleans is of interest, and must have caused the 
heart of the old Jacobite soldier to rejoice: 

"A Monsieur Oliphant, 
"Collonel. Orleans. 

" 25th May 1719. 

"DEAR SIR, Lett me know as soon as possible all 
the news about ye marriage of the Princesse Sobieski 

1 The ninth lord also left an illegitimate daughter. Thomas Stewart, writing 
to him in August 1728, says in a postscript : " Your Lordship's natural daughter 
is still alive and has behaved herself very well and is married in Bamff." 


with our King. She stole away from Inspruke the 
28th of April, and arrived in Boulogna in Italy the 
2nd of May about 2 hundred miles, she wrote to Rome, 
and Mr Murray my Lord Stormont's brother came and 
married her in the King's name the 9th. So now she is 
Queen, and gone to Rome, from there to Spain, if she 
gett a good occasion, and poor lady if they have no 
assistance will be in a bad condition. 

"Adieu, assuring my compliments a Monsieur and 
Madame de Cornou, . . . 


While Colonel Oliphant lived at Orleans with his 
daughter, Madame de Cournou, her husband, and the 
group of grandchildren, he received the following letter 
from Isabel Crichton, 1 who signs herself as his aunt : 

" PARIS, Sept. 28, 1716. 

"I intreate you make my compliments most hartily 
a hundred times over to Monsieur decornou and Madam, 
espetially to him for she dus not deserve ye tender con- 
cern I have for her, being ither unkind or laesy in writeing 
like you ; but for Monsieur : I love esteame and honours 
him with all my hart. No man can be better breed, and 
in reallitiey he is truly Master of all ye good qualifications 
that a man of qualitie and honour ought to have ; and 
crouns them all by ye grate kindness to his Lady, not- 
withstandg ye litle likelyhood at present of any fortin 
with her." 

In a postscript she adds : 

" Pray kis ye Mother and all ye litle deare angels for 
me, who I long al my hart to see." 

Colonel Oliphant and the De Cournous lived in the 
Rue Colombiers at Orleans. There is now no trace of 
the family to be found there. No one knows the fate 
of the "litle deare angels," or what became of these 

1 Isabel Crichton may perhaps have been the third wife of James Crichton, 
first Lord Fendraught. In this case she had been at least fifty years a widow at 
this date, as he died before 1665. 


direct representatives of the Lords Oliphant. They are 
mentioned only once again, years after, in a letter from 
Laurence Oliphant of Gask to the tenth lord in 1736. 

Laurence Oliphant announces the death of the ninth 
lord in the following letter to his brother Patrick at 
Leyden : 

" WILLIAMSTOUN, llth January 1729. 

"This gives you the account of Lord Oliphant's 
death. He came here in a chaise Wednesday morning 
the 20 Dec. to Christmas with me and was verry chear- 
full and seemingly in good health all that day and the 
next. On Sunday morning he had been out walking 
before I got up and breakfasted so heartily that it 
surprised us. He and I walked together about half an 
hour before dinner, but at dinner we observed him out 
of order ... he continued to have a shivering and cold- 
ness . . . being put to his naked bed 1 and getting a 
warm drink . . . but to our great surprise he dyed about 
half an hour after eleven at night without the least agony 
and pain. . . . He was buryed at Gask on Thursday the 
2 Jan." 

Margaret and Janet Oliphant would carry through 
life a clear remembrance of the old man who had seen 
so much and fought so often. The boy Laurence was 
only four when he died, so could have only the mistiest 
recollection of his great grand-uncle. 

The old man had a room at Gask as well as his 
quarters at Williamston, for Laurence Oliphant drew 
up a list of the effects he left at his death at both houses. 
Among the personal possessions 2 at Williamston were 
the following: 

" A silver watch with a silver chain and Peast seal 

sett in silver of Massies make worth 4. 
A small walking sword with a gilded steel hilt and 
silver wear handle with a plain lether belt. 

1 The use of the night-gown or night-shirt was not usual at this date. The 
night-gown constantly mentioned in old records was what is now called a dress- 
ing-gown. Even in the civilised French Court this garment was unknown either 
for men or women till after the time of Louis XV. 

* The list is given in the Oliphants in Scotland. 


A silver seal with three sides and a lether case 
worth only its weight in silver. 

A gold ring with a cornelian ston. 

A silver pick-tooth case with the Coat of Arms on 
the one end and a sypher on the other. 

Ane old horn snuff-box. 

A silk puree with two old fourteen pieces in it. 

Thomas a Kempis in French. 

A leather wieg box. 

Ane old red clock bag." 

These were pathetic possessions for one who repre- 
sented a family that had once owned vast tracts of land, 
whose scions had been counsellors and champions of 
successive sovereigns, and wielded a mighty power in 

William was the last but one of the Lords Oliphant ; 
not again was the name to be written on the records of 
the country. He would have been succeeded by his 
younger brother, Francis, had he survived. 

Francis, who was born about 1661, was a lieutenant 
in the Scots Guards in 1696. He died in September 
1708, having married in London, in November 1689, 
Mary Riddell. She also died before 1712. Three 
orphan children were left, a daughter, Mary, of whom 
nothing is known, William, and Francis. William, as 
the eldest son, was on the death of his mother taken 
into the household of ^Eneas Oliphant of Balgonie, one 
of the Condie family. James Oliphant of Gask took 
him from some unsuitable position in the Balgonie 
household, and sent him to school at Foulis, where he 
remained till 1714. 

The following is one of the school accounts sent in 
by Mr Coldstream of Foulis : 

" Ane account of money received by Mr John 
Coldstream, Schoolmaster at Foulis from the Laird of 
Gask on account of William Oliphant, son to Captain 
Francis Oliphant from his first entry to the School of 
Foulis (Mart. 1712) to his removal therefrom (Lambmass, 
1714) as follows : 

"Dec. 18. 1712. For mounting the said William 


Oliphant in Coat, Vest and Hat Stockins Shoes 
and Breches Shirts and Cravats, as per particular 
accompt given up, 25, 18s. 2d. 

" More for his first quarters board from Mart. 
1712 to Candlemass 1713 and for School dues, 
paper pen and ink, as per accompt given up, 
12, 10s. 

" Nov. 25. More for mounting the said William in 
a Kelt coat for winter and for shirts shoes and 
cravats and making the said cloaths as per part, 
accompt given up, 9. 

" Mar. 3. 1714. More for ane other half years board, 
school dues, paper pens and ink and other small 
necessaries from Lambmass 1713 to Candl. 1714, 
25, 10s. 

" Aug. 2. For ane other half years board, school dues, 
paper pen and ink and some other small 
necessaries from Cand. 1714 to Lamb. 1714 
about which time he went away, 25, 7s. 6d. 

" To ane express to ye said William's master 
from Pearth given to himself when sent to 
Kirkaldy, 005. 17. 00. 

" Sent with him to his merchants to buy sea- 
cloathes, fifty markes. 

"Item: Payed for hys apprentice fee at sea, 
ane hunder marcks, which is to be stated in 
Mr Oliphant 's accounts from Jan. 1st 1715. 

" Suma of money given out upon William 
Oliphant, 230. 08. 06." 

This brief notice is the last record of the young boy- 
heir to the empty honour of the Oliphant title. He 
went away to sea, and not one word or one tradition 
remains as to his fate. He was never heard of again; 
it is known he was dead before 1721. 

Francis, his younger brother, afterwards tenth Lord 
Oliphant, was not so fortunate in finding relations to 
succour him. The following letter l gives an idea of the 
upbringing of this child. He must have been not less than 
seventeen at the time. It is addressed from the Canongate, 
to Lord Oliphant at Gask, and dated 6th August 1725 : 

1 Printed in the Jacobite Lairds, p. 78. 


"Mv LORD, Mr Oliphant told me that your Lord- 
ship desired me to make enquiry about that poor child 
your nephew Francis, who stays with one deacon Lauthor 
a shoe-maker that lives at the foot of the Canongate in 
the horse-wynd. I went myself as your Lordship desired 
and called for him who I found in a very mean condition. 
About two years ago one Robert Oliphant a Hatter in 
London that lives at Charin-cross, you may remember 
him, when he was hear heard of the boy and called for 
him, and seeing him so destitute without cloths, clothed 
him from tope to toe, but now they are all worn out to 
rags, only ye Deacon has given him a course coat but 
he hath neither breeches, shoes, nor stockings but what 
is all in pieces and not so much as a cravat about his 
neck. Were it not for the charitable Deacon who has 
taken what care has been, or els he had lyne in the 
street and sterved. I askt him if he had ever been at 
school, he said that he could read and write som, this 
is all the account 1 can give of him . . . my Lord yr 
lordships most humble serv. 


" Francis goes by the name of my Lord Oliphant l and 
so call'd by everybody, but in the meantime he will go 
in an erend for any bodie for a babie." 

This poor boy writes the following letter 2 to his cousin, 
the Laird of Gask, in October 1729, from Edinburgh. 

" DEAR COUSIN, I doubt not but that you may take 
it as a surprise that I have used the freedome to write 
you unacquainted, but the worthy character you and 
your family have borne for some hundreds of years, and 
also considering the old relation between the family of 
Oliphant and yours will I hope attone for this time. 

" I do acknowledge it as a great part of my unhappy- 
ness that I have never seen you or any of your family, of 
which I should be most ambitious. 

" I had a designe to have come over to Gask and had 
the satisfaction to have seen you, your good lady family 
and friends, I being intended very shortly to go for 
London to try what kind providence will do for me. 
But my present circumstances with the many hardships 

1 He became actually Lord Oliphant in less than three years. 
1 Jacobite Lairds, p. 81. 


I have been left under and obliged to suffer by the early 
loss of my parents, and otherwise since I was a child, 
makes me very unprepared for either a long or short 

" And that which adds to my affliction is the loss of 
the Dear Countess of Mairshall 1 who took care of me 
and my education for about three years before her 

"But after all before I proceed to any journey I 
desire your assistance and good advice in whatever 
terms you may please to signify it to me in writing by 
the first conveniency and in the meantime I remain, 
Dear Sir, your most affectionat Cusin and hearty well- 
wisher, OLIPHANT. 

" If you please to write Direct for me at Mrs 
Kirkwoods the first stair above the foot of Peebles 

This was in truth the last Lord Oliphant. He lived 
until April 1748, having married in 1747 Mary Linley 
of York, who survived him. There were no children. 

William, fifth son of Charles Oliphant of Langton, 
claimed the right to assume the title on the death of 
his kinsman. He was fifth in descent from the third 
Lord Oliphant. He was then a very old man. He 
lived only till 1751 and left no children. Though he 
never assumed the title, he voted at a peers' election in 
1750. David Oliphant of Bachilton claimed the titles, 
and succeeded in voting at an election of Scottish peers 
in 1761. Dying in 1770, his sister's son, John Oliphant 
of Carpow, claimed the succession and styled himself 
Lord Oliphant, but never voted at an election of peers. 
Several letters are extant 2 addressed to a correspondent 
and signed "Olyphant," and docketed "From Lord 
Oliphant," covering some fifteen years before the death 

1 Lady Mary Drummond, eldest daughter of the fourth Earl of Perth, born 
1675. She married about 1690 the ninth Earl Marischal, who died 1712. She 
died 7th March 1729, and is buried in Holyrood Chapel. She was the mother of 
two sons, the tenth Earl Marischal and the celebrated Marshall Keith, and two 
daughters, Mary, married to the sixth Earl of Wigton, and Anne, who married 
the Earl of Galloway. 

2 Set article signed W. T. M. in Notes and Queries, 4 S. ix. 1872. The 
letters were addressed to the grandfather of W. T. M. 


of David. His nephew and successor writes ten years 
after to the same correspondent : 

"PITHEARLES, 3 Jan, 1781. 

"DEAR SIR, I now acquaint you that I was this 
night married to my housekeeper Jaennet Morton. And 
in all appearance, as I am not long for this world, give 
me leave to recommend her and my son John Olyphant 
by her, or any other she may have by me, to your 
Protection, and it will be greatly serving an old acquaint- 
ance who sincerely wishes you and yours well, and I 
am with great regard, Dr Sir your most obedient servant, 


" P.S. Thomas Stewart and Patrick Stewart his 
brother, both of Perth, were witnesses to the marriage." 

He afterwards told his friend that he had lived with 
Janet Morton, his housekeeper, " in habits of familiarity," 
and that she had borne a son, and expected another child, 
and these children he desired to legitimise. He died in 
the following March. There is no trace of his son John, 
but his posthumous daughter, Janet, married the eighth 
Lord Elibank in 1803. 

Having thus traced the fallen fortunes of the main 
branch of the House of Oliphant till its extinction in 
1748, and beyond this date for the thirty-three years 
which saw three doubtful claimants assume the ancient 
title, we now turn back to earlier dates and the simple 
home life of the Gask family. 

Laurence was sent to school l at Dunfermline at 
eight years old. The following letter 2 is from Mr 
Paterson, Laurie's schoolmaster, dated 7th October 
1732 : 

" MADAM, I thank God your son continues in perfect 
good health and is a very fine Boy. I do not see that 
he is at all given to any sort of ill tricks and he is very 
willing to learn ; however, 1 cannot say he learns fast." 

1 Gask paid six guineas a quarter for his son's schooling. 

2 Printed in full in the Jacohite Lairds. 


Long years afterwards, when a very old man, Laurence 
wrote about his childhood and youth : 

" Christianity was my birthright. I was reared up by 
most carefull virtuous and indulgent parents. In the 
smaU-pox by their intercessions brought back from the 
verge of the grave and trained up to youth by their 
example in virtue. Bliss the Lord, praise him and 
magnefie him for ever. 

"Then I went astray after different sins, yet the 
Lord did not cast me out. ... I vexed my very dear 
Mother by a foolish liking for a country girle Betty 
Lion. ... I was proud and passionate. ... In the 
midst of my folly the Lord sent a cure and also granted 
my most earnest wishes." 

A few family letters of this time are given here of 
domestic rather than historical interest. 

The Duke of Atholl writes from Edinburgh to 
Gask : 

" 20th April 1713. 

" SIR, I doubt not but you'l be glad to hear that I 
came safe here this night with my wife. I brought with 
me my commission for being Privy Seall, since the Queen 
has given me that post I could not decline to serve her 
again as Commissioner to the General Assembly which 
meets Thursday nixt. I shall be gladd to have your 
assistance now as I hade last time if you can conveinently 
come. When you come I shall acquaint you with some- 
thing which I'm persuaded is for your interest which I 
designed to have told you before I went to London." 

Robert Mercer l of Aldie writes, evidently not in best 
of tempers, in spite of the happy event he announces. 
The letter is addressed to Laurence Oliphant at William- 
ston from Aldie, 8th July 1724 : 

"I send this to acquaint you my wife was safely 
brought to bed of a sone 2 this morning. ... I can not 

1 The second son of William, second Lord Nairne, and Margaret Nairne. 
Aldie Castle is quite fifteen miles from Gask, through Gleneagles on the road to 

2 James Mercer, died at Meikleour 18th December 1758, unmarried. He 
left an illegitimate son, Charles Mercer, who was long factor on the estates. 


say my wife and I are much obleaged to my sister and 
you when neither her lying in nor my wanting you here 
about business would fetch either of you. The young 
Laird is to be christened on Tuesday when we shall be 
glad of both your companies." 

There is an unsigned letter in the handwriting of 
Lady Nairne from Glamis, 15th May 1728, and addressed 
to Mrs Oliphant. The letter concerns Charles, fourth 
Earl of Strathmore, who was killed in a scuffle between 
James Carnegie of Finhaven and John Lyon of Brighton 
on llth May. The occasion was the funeral of a 
young girl at Forfar, which formed, as usual, the excuse 
for an orgy of eating and drinking, especially the latter. 
Carnegie was endeavouring to kill Lyon in the street, 
and making a pass at him, ran his sword through Lord 
Strathmore's body. 

" I know, Dear Amelia, just now, it would take a 
volum to describe the melancholy condition of the family 
from the Highest to the lowest, but no words could 
express poor Lady Strathmore's l sorrow, nor can any 
but such, unfortunately, as I comprehend it. The state 
of her health is bad enough she has a vilent cough . . . 
you may be sure no care in my power will be neglected, 
and I have some influence with her by the unhappy 
sympathy in our conditions 2 so that often we cry together, 
then I endeavour to amuse her with idle stories, for I 
know by dear-bought experience, in vain weak reason 
would command when love has led the way. 

"I thank you for the kind intention . . . but they 
have employment enough here. Katy is with Lady 
Kathy 3 and Lady Strathmore often, but Mary is her 
principal favourite, her Lord was so fond of her, . . . (on 
tuesday se-night he told me he would wade up to the 
neck in watter to serve Miss Mary). Charlotte 4 is all the 
housewife. We have to make tea in the drawing-room 

1 Lady Susan Cochrane, second daughter of the fourth Earl of Dundonald. 
She married Lord Strathmore in 1725. There was no issue. She married again, 
in 1745, Mr George Forbes, her factor, and had a daughter. She died at a 
convent near Paris, June 1754. 

2 Lady Nairne had been widowed about two years. 

1 Probably Lady Katherine Cochrane, married, 1729, to the Earl of Galloway. 
4 Katy, Mary, and Charlotte were three of the Nairne sisters. 



for Lady Mary Lyon l is so ill she keeps her Bed. You 
have heard the dismall story very wrong, for Bregton T 
believe would as soon hurt himself as Lord Strathmore 
and so he thought and to the last was very fond of him. 
It was Pemrron who without any previous warning ran 
him throw and throw the Body (and no sword drawn but 
his own) as he was walking on the street in Forfar after 
a Burrial he had been at, whether it was premeditated 
malice or mad fury I know not. I shall make your 
compliments. . . . Lady Tweedal 2 and Lady Ann Hay 
came here last night." 

Robert Mercer, writing to his mother, Lady Nairne, 
from Aldie, on the same event, says : 

" His friendship for which he was so conspicuous, for 
a more sincere friend never was, must alass have a hand 
in his exit, for by what I can understand, had he had less 
of humanity to his murtherer and less friendship to his 
relative, we might still have had the dear Strathmore." 

The following is a letter to Garvock in Cask's hand- 
writing, dated Cask, 3rd June 1724 : 3 

" DR BROTHER, He, Mr John Graeme is desired 

not to admitt you to the H Sacrament till he get a 

letter under your hand to be sent the Bishop acknow- 
ledging your fault in swearing and declaring your repent- 
ance for it ; As to Condie, Mr Graeme is desired not to 
admitt him till he confess, before witnesses his fault in 
joyning in worship with Mr Semple and promise he 
shall never doe so again, nor countenance Mr Semple. 
Of this you will inform Condy. I wish your Lady a 
happie hour, and am your affect. BROY." 

A note with its scraps of country gossip is from 
Miss Anne Drummond of Logiealmond, writing to Mrs 
Oliphant in 1731. 

" Is it possible that I am ordered to write to Gask by 

1 Sister of Lord Strathmore. 

2 Lady Susan Hamilton, widow of John, second Earl of Dundonald, in 1690, 
and widow of Charles, third Marquess of Tweeddale in 1715. She died 1737. 
Lady Strathmore was her granddaughter. 

* The date must be a mistake, as the Garvock marriage, which made Laurence 
Oliphant his ' ' brother," was not until 1738. 


Perth was ever the like of that heard, send a letter 16 
mile in order to goe three, but them that does bidding 
needs nay dinging. Well, to begin Tibie's return cheer'd 
us all up to hear that you my dear Madam was none the 
worse of your black Mare Lord be thanked. . . . Tell Sir 
Laurence I am not to be friends with him these seven 
years with his nesty paper exactness . . . Monsieur is gone 
to bury Mr Ca Maxton. ..." 

The next letter concerns a friendly fishing dispute 
between Duncrub and Gask. 

The Master of Hollo writes to Laurence Oliphant 
from Garvock, llth June 1731 : 

SIR, When I came home here on Tewsday I 
was surprised to hear that, some of your people have 
been fishing my watter of Erne, on the lands of 
Dalreoch. I did not incline to give any Disturbance 
to it at first lest it might have been for the devertion 
of any of you family, but hearing it is of ane other 
Design I choosed to take the neghboury and friendly 
way to Desire such things may be prevented, I having 
an undoubted right to the fishings etc. from my Author 
the Duke of Atholl as to the lands . . . my wife's 
humble service and mine to your Lady, yr most 
obliged etc. ROLLO." 

" DEAR MASTER " (replies Oliphant), " If any of my 
Father's people have been fishing the Earn where it does 
not belong to himself its I believe without his knowledge 
and I'm sure its without mine, so that you injure us both 
if you think we have any desire of encroaching upon a 
different proprietor, but I'm afraid you will find yourself 
much mistaken if you believe you have any fishing on 
Earn by your purchase of Dalreoch, for Ardoch the 
common purchaser both of West Gask and Dalreoch 
from the Duke of Atholl, did reserve the fyshings of 
Dalreoch when he sold these lands to Glenaggie and I 
suspect they must continue still for Harie Stirling property. 
That point you have to settle with my Freinds. My wife 
and I offer our humble service to you and the mistress 
of Rollo." 


Lady Strathallan writes from Machany to her mother, 
Lady Nairne, at Lude, July 1788. 

" I was at Drum, last week and all there enquired 
for your Ladyship and my sisters : My Lord and Lady 
Maxwell l are there just now and Lady Margaret Stewart 2 
and all ye Abercairnie folk were there too. Both ye 
Abercairnie folks and us was there on invitation to 
my Lady Maxwells marriage day 3 and Lady Mary 
Drummonds 4 birthday. They were both on the 27th, 
and a terrible day of thunder and lightning it was there 
and rain which has done a good deal of mischief, for ye 
watters rose so high in a sudden that there is several 
people lost, and many bridges taken away, and a great 
deal of damage done to several little country houses with 
ye rain. There was a child in a cradle taken away with 
ye watter about a mile or two above Stirling, and was 
got out near Stirling alive which was a great wonder." 

The next letter is interesting, as it gives a glimpse of 
Margaret and Janet Oliphant. They seem to have been 
sent into lodgings in Edinburgh, not apparently of the 
most comfortable type. 

Monroy writes from Edinburgh, 5th February 1734 : 

" DR SIR, This goes by our Friend Soutertoun 5 who 
wants now to get the last moyetie of his lairdship he is 
in the greatest haste, and ye will never have peace till 
ye be quit of him and give him by degrees as ye can till 
he have noe more to say to you and after can say little 
for his conduct. 

" Your daughter last night was at a Play and is very 
well only its a bad Close and cold Roume they are in, 
but I hope the next choice for you will be better." 

The following letter, though of a later date, is added 
here as it gives further history of the Souterton family. 
The letter to Laurence Oliphant of Cask is endorsed in 

1 William Lord Maxwell, son of the fifth Earl of Nithsdale, who escaped from 
the Tower of London when under sentence of death in February 1716. Lady 
Maxwell was Catherine Stewart, daughter of the fourth Earl of Traquair. 

2 One of the twin daughters of the fourth Earl of Traquair. 

3 27th June 1731. 

* Third daughter of the fourth Earl of Traquair and wife of the Duke of Perth. 

* Oliphant of Souterton. 


his writing "from Soutertoun's wife," and dated 20th 
January 1743 at Edinburgh. 

" HONOURED SIR, I sent you ane letter of thanks for 
the kindness showen me at my husband's death. It is 
14 months since and the poor child being but 3 years of 
age and very tender takes clos attendance soe as I can 
not goe abroad to Earn anything by my handy labour to 
support us. I wrote your honer there was 12 Scots 
due for hous rent and I was obliged to pawn my body 
cloaths for it, or be thrown with my child to the street 
and now he is seized with the Pox and nothing earthly 
to support us emboldens me to trouble your Honor 
trusting to your sympathising Christian disposition to 
all in distress, and my boy having the honour to be your 
distant relation hopes you of your goodness will order me 
some supplies as you shall think meet or if your Honour 
would Recommend me to the Barrens of Exchequer as 
I may have some of the King's bountie to bring up my 
child 1 as is usual upon recomendation from any gentle- 
man of Noat as you are. 

" Beging pardon for this trouble I am with profound 
respecks etc. LILLEAS OLIPHANT." 

Oliphant of Rossie sends a messenger, Gilmor, with the 
following message to Williamston, 18th February 1734. 

" SIR, I'm desired by Rossie is intreat of you the 
Loan of two sallie-mans 2 Gowns Capes and Battons for 
service at his Ladie's funerals." 3 

J. Robertson writes to Laurence Oliphant from Nairne 
House, 26th October 1734 :- 

"SiR, I presumed to speak to you at Perth about 
the master of Nairn's 4 allowance. It was alwise my 
notion he was to have 30 pounds a year and a suit of 
cloathes or 40 pounds, and shall be sorry if convenience 

1 There is an entry of 8th April 1743 in the Greyfriars Burial Register in 
Edinburgh, " a child of widow Oliphant, pensioner." 

2 Sallie or Saullie, a hired mourner walking before a funeral procession. 
The name perhaps came from the ' ' Dule weeds," in Anglo-Saxon " Sal," black, 
or from the often-repeated prayer chanted in Romish times with the refrain 
"Salve Regina." 

3 Jean Colville of Blair. 

4 James, son of John, third Lord Nairne. He died young in 1737. 


wont allow this to hold. ... It were a thousand pities 
so hopeful a youth especially of his Rank should not be 
above want on the most material period of his Life, I 
mean the time of education. I rather be called officious 
than be silent upon this. ..." 

Charles Oliphant 1 writes from London, 15th May 
1735 : 

" HON BLB SIR, I was some months ago honoured with 
a leter from you and an enclosed to his Grace the Duke 
of Atholl 2 which I delivered but had no answer being I 
did not see the Duke altho I calld often at his Grace's 

"But as I have since been in Scotland and seen the 
Dutchess of Gordon 8 and I find her Grace would easily 
agree to my haveing the home I proposed but uppon 
due consideration of your Honour's wholesome advice 
and the Bad usage I seed some of the Murray lairds 
get in the midle of an inland countrie from the 
Highlanders at the last Nairn Election gives me a 
sufficient disgust for ever thinking to live amongst 
such a sect of Lawles Ruffians. . . . The usage my 
Lord had from those people has since turned him an 
honest man or at least it have helped to open his eyes, 
for he seems now to see clearer, being he now votes 
the other way." 

Jacobite hopes and plans were again fermenting. News 
from Italy brought accounts of the enthusiasm of the 
" Prince of Wales," his fitness in all things for the throne 
of his fathers. The long years went by and the '15 had 
become an old story, a dim memory to many. The eyes 
of the loyal were fixed on the future. Janet Oliphant, 
at the age of fourteen, wrote the following verses ; they 
are certainly not poetry, but they breathe the spirit of 

1 A son probably of James Oliphant of Ure. He had been apprenticed to a 
saddler in Edinburgh by James Oliphant of Gask in 1707. He was afterwards a 
lieutenant in Lord John Drummond's regiment in the '45 and was condemned to 
death. Through the intercession of Brodie of Brodie he was not executed, but 
was transported to America. He married a Drummond, and left a family whose 
descendants have not been traced. 

2 James, second Duke of Atholl. 

3 Lady Henrietta Mordaunt, second daughter of the Earl of Peterborough 
and Monmouth, widow of Alexander, second Duke of Gordon. She died 
in 1760. 


life at Gask, and are the only record of Janet's ardent 

UPON THE lOra JUNE 1735 

" Hail, might for Peace, All hail O Prince Divine, 
Whose righteous reign would make our Isles to shine, 
For Whiggish broils say nothing can us save 
But calling home James, the safe and brave. 

" May some kind Nymph his nuptial Bed adorn l 
And lend him aid to dash the Whiggish scorn, 
May Charles improve in glorious arts of War 
The bloody Rebels violence to dare, 
May Henry live and like a Lion roar, 
Frighting the Whigs from shedding Purple gore. 

" Kind Heavens ! look down upon our times 
And free us from those hellish crimes, 
Restore our rightful injured King, 
And pull away the German Thing." 

Janet's lines were perhaps in imitation of those of 
the Poet Chief Strowan, of which a small manuscript 
collection is among the Gask archives. The following lines 
are there : 


" How long shall perjured Knaves, O Lord, 

Exile our righteous King ? 
Send home the spurious race, O God, 

Despatch the German Sting. 
Then peace and justice shall return 

And flurish us among, 
Thy praise we will proclaim aloud 

In a Seraphick song. 

" How long shall righteous Jacob grieve 

To see his people's fate, 
Oppressed with Bondage and the woes 
Of an impov'rished State ? 

1 There is some impatience here. The wife of James VIII. had only been 
dead five months. 


O Pow'r Eternal ! hear my sighs 

And grant me this Request, 
Set Him, whose right it is to reign 

In place of horned Beast." 

About the year 1736 Gask, in selecting a tutor for 
his children, kept strictly in mind those principles which 
were the mainsprings of his own thought and action. 
His choice fell upon one whom the taste of to-day would 
scarcely have ratified as a companion for young children. 
William Meston was a burlesque poet, the son of a 
blacksmith. He had been tutor to the Marischal family 
and Professor of Philosophy in the Marischal College. 
But these recommendations were as nothing compared to 
the fact that he had been out in the '15, held Dunottar 
Castle in the Chevalier's name, and fought at Sheriffinuir. 
Attachment to the Stewart Cause was a supreme qualifi- 
cation. He was, however, a good classical scholar, and 
could impart both philosophy and mathematics. His 
drawback as a companion for the youthful Laurence and 
the two girls was simply that his conviviality, his wit, 
and his muse, were of a coarse description, even for an 
age when coarseness was more easily tolerated. But he 
was "good company" and doubtless enlivened the days 
of a very quiet country life. 

The family, which had now removed from Williamston 
to Gask House, could have had no very frequent distrac- 
tions. The main interest of life must have lain in the 
visits of the neighbouring families of Nairnes, Drummonds, 
and Murrays, and in the constant letters from relations 
and friends. 

The following is from Jean, Duchess of Atholl, the 
Mrs Lannoy who is said to have been the original heroine 
of the song " Hunting-tower " : 

" MADAM, I have bin wishing for some settled weather 
that 1 might Do myself ye honour of Waiting on your 
Ladiship to take Leave for some Years but still hope to 
meet again in ye Land of Cakes it wou d give me great 


Concern Did I immagine I was to give an Eternal 
farewell to this Country and those friends w h I have 
Rece d so many Civilitys and favours from. 

" I have great hope that ye weather may be favourable 
either Friday or Saturday that I might venture to bring 
my young folks who are teizing me every Day for to 
make my promise good to your Ladiship, & I shall be 
as glad as they to have a fair Day for so agreeable a 
purpose. I hope Mrs Murray Continues in a good way 
towards increasing ye Leiges. My most Humble service 
attends her and Mr Murray and ye young Ladies and I 
am with great Respect, Madam, Your Ladiship's Most 
Obedient & most Humble Serv*, J. ATHOLL. 

, Feb. Uth, 1739." 

The same lady writes to Cask again a few months 
after. This time the letter is addressed to Margaret, 
Lady Nairne : 

"MADAM, I return your Ladiship thanks for ye honour 
of your Letter, & Congratulate you on ye birth of your 
Grandson. 1 I am very glad Lady Lude 2 & the little 
Gentleman is in so good a way & give your Ladiship Joy 
on ye happy Recovery of Mr Mercer's 3 family from that 
Dangerous Distemper & that it has not spoiled Miss 
Mercer's 4 Beauty. I heartily wish Mrs Murray a happy 
moment w h I hope will be over long before your Ladiship 
receives this. Your Ladiship's regard for your family will 
Certainly inable you to go thro' y r fatigues of guiding 
so large a houshold as you judge it to be ye most prudent 
way to join all your family together. I should be mighty 
sorry Mrs Mary Nairne's eyes should receive any prejudice 
by ye piece of work Designed only as an amusement for 
her. Y r Ladiship mentioned Lady Jane's 6 learning to sing 
she has begun and as she has an exceeding good ear I 

1 James Robertson. He married, in 1758, the Miss Mercer mentioned in this 
letter, and died 1802, having been sixty-two years in possession of the Lude estate. 

2 Charlotte Nairne. 

3 Robert Mercer, Lord Nairne's second son, who married the heiress of Aldie. 
He was killed at Culloden. 

* Margaret Mercer. See note p. 113. 

* Lady Jane Murray, born 7th June 1730. When seventeen years old she 
eloped with John, twentieth Earl of Crawford, and was married to him 3rd March 
1747. She died of fever the same year. Crawford was much older than his bride 
and in great straits for money. 


hope she may attain to sing agreeably to entertain her 
friends with Ballads ; as for Italian I am very easy as few 
voices can come up to perform it in perfection & takes so 
much application & time I think that Labour better 
bestowed upon her harpsicord w h she begins to be very 
fond off by Judges I am told it will be her own fault if 
she is not one of the best female players in a few Years in 
Britain. Lady Chariot 1 was very desirous to learn but 
has not so much attention yett as her sister, they both 
play sometimes on the Organ when its very Comical to 
see ye little fingers tweedling on that Great instrument. 
My Lord went to portsmouth ye 31st of July & returned 
here ye Wensday following on Sunday ye 3rd he saw 
four Regiments embarked 2 & all appeared in top spirits 
proposing great Glory and much Riches from their 
extended expedition. Ye wind continues contrary for 
Sir John Norris and Lord Cathcart. Our neighbouring 
Camps att Hounslow engages all ye Common people who 
in flocks by land and watter makes them daily Vissetts, 
if this Rainy weather that we have now continues both 
officers and soldiers will be in a bad Condition ye ground 
where they are in camp being quite a morrass in wett 
weather my Curiosity is satisfied with seeing them once 
ye Camp I saw in hide park being to my mind much a 
finer sight. There's no news here to afford your Ladiship 
diversion. London is very empty and what conversation 
passes is on our warlike preparations. I heard last post 
that Lord George Murray's Daughter had ye small-pox. 
God send it well over. I pitty Lady George 3 for its a 
Dreadfull Distemper & in all likelihood her sons 4 will take 
it. My poor eldest nephew Frederick is dying of a 
Dropsy att his sister Humes in Kent & she is vastly ill. 
Lady Frederick has bin there 3 months attending them 
and very much fatigued with her distrest family. 

" Your Ladiship I judge has heard of Mr Alexander 

1 Lady Charlotte Murray, born at Dunkeld 2nd October 1731, married John 
Murray of Strowan, afterwards third Duke of Atholl. 

2 The troops to be engaged in the war with Spain, declared by Walpole in 
October 1739. The Spaniards cut off Captain Jenkiu's ear, which act of 
aggression was the cause of the campaign. The English, under Admiral Veruon, 
captured Porto Bello. 

* Lady George Murray was Amelia, daughter and heir of Dr James Murray 
of Glencarse and Strowan. 

4 John Murray, born 6th May 1729, and James, born 1724. Another son, 
George, was born after this date in 1741. 


misfortune att paris of being quite Broke & De Costa ye 
Jew went off here much about ye same time. Ye Prince 1 
had a very fine entertainm 1 at Clevden ye first and second 
of August in honour of Lady Augusta's birth Day and 
his R H & ye Lord Mayor joined in Chorus that Britains 
never would be Slaves. Happy for us such noble senti- 
ments possesses ye hearts of ye Great. I believe your 
Ladiship's patience will be tyred by this time & shall 
only beg leave to assure you that I am with very great 
respect, Madam, Your Ladiship's Most Obedient and Most 
Humble Servant, J. ATHOLL. 

"HAMMERSMITH, ye Augs* lth, 1740." 

Across the Strath at Ryecroft a group of Graeme 
cousins were within easy reach of Gask. Inchbrakie 
Castle having been burned after Sheriffmuir, and the new 
house of Inchbrakie not yet built, the Graeme family 
sheltered at Ryecroft, the nine boys and girls near enough 
of an age with the Oliphants to be playfellows and com- 
panions. Of these children, Patrick Graeme, the eldest 
son, born 25th January 1717, afterwards eighth Baron of 
Inchbrakie, 2 must have well known the road, if any road 
existed, between Ryecroft and Gask. In 1748, in the 
darker days when Jacobite hopes were extinguished, he 
married Margaret Oliphant of Gask. 

But the days of failure and despair were yet far distant 
while Laurence and Amelie Oliphant watched their son 
and daughters growing from the eager partisanship of 
children into earnest Jacobite men and women. In time 
to come they were to endure much, to surrender much, 
but meanwhile life was coloured with a thousand rainbow 

When Laurence was studying Latin at school, the 
education of the two girls went on at home. The book 
learning would be of a rudimentary character. They 
could read and write, and Janet played the flute, but the 
homely accomplishments of sewing, knitting, and spinning 
occupied most of their time. The clothes worn by the 

1 Frederick Prince of Wales. His eldest child, Augusta, was born llth 
August 1737. 

He succeeded his grandfather, 1 740, 


girls and their mother would be made of wool spun by 
themselves or their women servants. Plaids of silk were 
worn by ladies till the middle of the century, though the 
Gask family would probably not wear tartan. 

The following is a dressmaker's bill for goods supplied 

to Mrs Oliphant by Janet Cumingham in 1721 : 


"For making a sprig'd morning gown for whyte 

Callicoe to face the broast . . .26 

Glouvos 20 

For linnen to make out ye body linning . .08 
For new making a brocaded mall-borrow gown 
lyn'd with yellow mantua silk and alter- 
ring ye petty coat . . . . .50 
For makeing a whyte satinott morning gown . 2 
For makeing a yollow cotton satin morning 
gown . . 20" 

Aunt Margaret Oliphant got her clothes from William 
Fergusson, a merchant in Perth. She got fifty - one 
Elns of white linnen at one time, nine yards of Blew 
Callimancoe, ten yards Musselbrough stuff, two yards 
Black Mantua silk, and one pair of large white silk 

At all ceremonies, even at funerals in the earlier years 
of the century, gay clothes and brilliant colours were 
worn. The dresses lasted a lifetime. Fashions changed 
slowly even in the days when political and public events 
moved with strange rapidity. 

The social stagnation that had reigned under the 
autocracy of the Church was passing away. Roads were 
wretched still, and journeys dangerous adventures, but 
the old prejudices against every form of relaxation and 
change were broken through. 

The following were the expenses incurred by Laurence 
Oliphant, when he took his wife and two daughters to 
attend the Perth Races in September 1739. 

" 4 tickets to 1st Assembly night . . .600 
Ditto 2nd Ditto . . .600 

Ditto 3rd Ditto , 600 



1698 - 1774. 


To three chairs from and return to the 
Dutchess of Hamilton 1 for my wife 

and daughters l 16 

Drink money to Mr James Oliphant's maids 312 
Lodgeing for my daughter and ye maid . 9 12 
To my son . . . . . . .740 

My own charges two nights . . . 15 12 
Charges of Horses . . . . . 6 12 

" N.B. This besides a side of Beef and a Mutton sent 
in to Brother James." 

Especially amongst Episcopalians, civil and religious 
life became less austere : and to the dismay of the older 
generation, their form of worship was permitted. The 
Oliphant children were born to an inheritance of tolera- 
tion that would have seemed a national provocation for 
God's vengeance in plague and tempest a few years before. 
Even Sunday was no longer a day of dread and boredom. 
The Oliphants would ride 2 over to the Episcopal church 
at Muthil or to Crieff, an expedition to which they 
looked forward as an occasion to meet with others of like 
faith, both in religion and politics. Amongst those who 
espoused the Stewart Cause there was a kinship, a special 
loyalty, a sacred tie. The prayer-books the Oliphants used 
on these occasions are among the treasured relics of their 
descendants, the name of King George pasted carefully 
over, and King James's name written instead. The family 
can be pictured at their prayers, making mental reserva- 
tions here and there. 

His schooldays over, young Laurence was sent to 
Edinburgh University. He boarded at Mr Hunter's 
private college, Cowgate. In 1741, when he was seventeen, 
his first cousin, Laurence Oliphant of Condie, writes to 

" Your son is, I believe, the most regular young man 

1 This lady was either Elizabeth, daughter of the fourth Lord Gerard and 
widow of the fourth Duke of Hamilton, who was killed in a duel with Lord 
Mohun in 1712 (she lived till 1744) : or else Anne, daughter of Edward Spense 
of Rendlesham and third wife of the fifth Duke of Hamilton. She died 1771. 

2 There is a description of a saddle made for Margaret in September 1739. 
" A new hunting side sadle with a green cloth cover mounted with green fringe 
and house the same, and very naite blacke furnishin." It cost 3, 15s., and 
was supplied by Walter Marshall of Perth. 


in Edinburgh, and at the same time very thrifty and 
not scrub. He has been at all the public divertiuns, 
but none of them can force him to stay out after eight 

The extreme propriety of the behaviour here recorded 
is, however, hardly borne out by the journals of young 
Laurence himself ; his disposition tended towards all that 
was lively and high spirited, and his "divertions" were 
not always such as a friend and cousin would describe to 
the parents at home. But in spite of faults and follies 
his character was strikingly developed in all chivalrous 
and courageous qualities. The high hopes of Laurence 
and Amelie in their only son were destined to full 

Imagination sees young Oliphant at this time, hi the 
brave uniform of the Royal Company of Archers at 
Edinburgh, marching out to Musselburgh to shoot for 
the " Silver Arrow," in company with other Jacobite 
gentlemen, many of whom were soon to prove, with 
sacrifice of fortune and life, the reality of their loyal pro- 
fessions. They wore tartan trimmed with green silk 
fringe, blue bonnets with green and white ribbons and 
the badge of St Andrew. Bows and swords had green 
and white ribbons. There were eight brigades, and they 
must have made a gallant stir in the grey streets of the 
town, with their colours and their music. 

Long years afterwards the daughter 1 of the Young 
Laird would hear from his lips stories of the old days 
of the Archers, and it would be his figure she saw in 
imagination as she wrote : 

" Archie's an Archer, and a gude shot is he, 
But tho' he's hit mony, he never hit me ; 
How handsome he looks, how stately his mien 
Wi' his bannet and feather and braw coat o' green ! 
Wi' his white gauntlet glove, an' his stiff staunin' ruff, 
His clear shining buckles, his neat turned cuff; 
Wi' his bow, and his quiver, a' filled wi' his darts, 
O ! leddies, beware, beware o' your hearts ! " 

1 Carolina Oliphant, afterwards wife of fifth Lord Nairne. 


The life at Cask was very quiet all through the long 
peace, but domestic events must have filled the years 
with interest, both of those joys and sorrows inevitable 
in such large families. A strong family feeling, loyalty 
of kinship between the two sets of brothers and sisters, 
was characteristic of both Nairnes and Oliphants, a 
powerful bond of union. The marriage of two of Amelie's 
sisters, Charlotte to John Robertson of Lude before 1736, 
and that of Marjory to Duncan Robertson of Drummachin 
in 1739, strengthened the Jacobite interests of the family. 
For Marjory, eight years her junior, Amelie Oliphant had 
a special affection. Through the long intimate letters 
between these two sisters, numberless details have 
survived of daily family life both at home and in exile. 
The fate of Marjory closely resembled that of her sister. 
The following touching letter from Duncan Robertson 
to his wife was doubtless put away among the Cask 
papers by Amelie herself. 

" To Hon. Mrs Robertson at Gary from Robertson 
of Drummachin from Taymount. 1 May 1745. 

" MY DEAREST, This evening as I guess about an hour 
ago, being 5 o'clock in the evening, I received yours to 
the Bailie, my greatest grief is that I cannot bear the 
whole weight of yours, for my dear Infant is delivered 
from a corrupt world and safe in the hands of her creator, 
to whom she has been devoted day and night ever since 
her birth. Consider that from a distressed child she is 
now become a happy spirit and pities the condition of 
her disconsolate Parents still puddling in the mire of 
the world ... I strongly feel the tenderness of a parent 
and yet perceive a Ray of Joy when I consider the happy 
exchange my dear Infant has made. My great pain 
anxiety and vexation is for you, lest you should give 
way to grief. . . . My next shall be from some place 
nearer you. I thank God the rest of your family are 
in good health. I am ever, my Dearest, The loving 
partner of your grief, ROBERTSON." 

Another daughter was soon to fill the empty cradle. 


Robertson 1 of Drummachin writes from Nairn, 2nd 
July 1745, to the Laird of Cask : 

" DEAR SIR, About 7 this morning I had a young 
daughter . . , the child was christened this afternoon 
by the name of Charlotte : I insisted for Amelie, but 
was over-ruled on account of the great intimacy betwixt 
my wife and her sister of that name in short I did not 
care to use my natural authority." 

1 For the list of children of Drummachin see note 2, p. 114. 



BEFORE following Laurence and Amelie through the 
long years of life that lay before them, it will be well 
to sketch briefly the lives and fates of the younger 
children of James and Janet Oliphant. 

Thomas, born in 1693, the young soldier of the '15, 
was, as we have seen, the second son. He lived at Ross 
near Gask, and after his father's death owned Cowgask, 
which came eventually back to his brother Laurence. 
He married Janet, daughter of Peter Meldrum of 
Leathers. She was already twice a widow, having been 
the wife of Laurence Oliphant, Younger of Condie, and 
of David Drummond of Invermay. Thomas and Janet 
Oliphant had no children. The following letter was 
written by him to Gask, his brother. It is dated from 
Edinburgh, 18th March 1714: 

" Dear B., I received yours and am glade ye are all 
rell. The seeds you wrote for nowe afforded me a good 
leal of travel to-day and all to little purpose for theres 
icither Cypress, seed, Ackorns, nor wallnuts in the whole 
>wn, but by good luck I fell upon a hundred chestnuts. 

" For publick news there are none considerable only it 
seems to be confirmed on all hands that the King of 
Sweden 1 has at last taken leave of the y. Seignior and 
is on his way homeward 2 having left that court incognito 
attended by K. Stanislauss 8 and 26 other gentlemen, 4 a 

1 Charles XII. was taken by the Turks at Bender 12th February 1713, and 
kept a prisoner at Adrian ople. 

1 He did not set forth on his return journey till 1st October 1714. 

3 King Stanislaus was not with him. 

* For Charles XII.'s remarkable methods of selecting his twenty-six com- 
panions, see Browning's Charles XII., p. 303. 

161 L 


great reason as it is conjectured of the Sultans so easily 
parting with him is a prodigious commotion in his own 
territories there being no less than 200,000 men in the 
field in open rebellion against the Turk and at Babilon. 
1 had almost forgott to tell ye that this night are to 
be celebrated the nuptials of Bell Skeen with the Laird 
of Pitladie, having no more light this is from, Your 
affectionat Brother, and humble servant, 


"The chestnutts cost two shillings and the barly as 
much, so theres a shilling to be compted for at meeting." 


Thomas Oliphant died 6th September 1740, and was 
buried at Gask 9th September. The tombstone that 
marks his resting-place lies among the Gask graves 
to the right of the chapel door. His portrait is at 

James, the third son, was made a merchant in Perth. 
Very few careers were open to younger sons of good 
family, if their sympathies were Jacobite and Episcopalian. 
The Church and the Bar were alike closed to those who 
had scruples in taking the oath of allegiance to the House 
of Hanover. All Government employment was impossible, 
whether civil or military. Therefore it became quite a 
common custom to start the boys of a family in trade, 
serving apprenticeship to jewellers, drapers, or grocers in 
Edinburgh, or the country towns, in preference to keep- 
ing them idle at home, or eking out a spare existence 
on a farm. James Oliphant followed the example of 
many of his neighbours when he made a merchant of 
James, a goldsmith of Ebenezer, and sent Patrick abroad 
to study medicine. 

James stood staunchly by his brother, the Jacobite 
laird, when governor at Perth in 1746, and he was 
afterwards denounced to the Government for having 
instigated his brother to fire on his assailants, "and also 
for having sided with the Jacobites in attacking those 
who were keeping King George's birthday on 30th 
October, and trying to protect his brother ' the rebel 
governor." 1 James suffered a year's imprisonment in 


consequence. Very little is known of him, beyond the 
fact that he married Janet Austin l of Kilspindie in 1731. 

Papers in the Cask charter chest prove that he had 
certainly three sons 2 and four daughters. 3 A list of 
"notorious Jacobites," given by the Duke of Atholl in 1746, 
includes James Oliphant, merchant, brother to Gask. 

The portraits of James 4 and his wife, now at Ardblair, 
show a handsome couple. James wears a wig and a suit 
of armour. A little light is thrown on his career in a 
letter from his son James, which is given here, though it 
is of a much later date. It is endorsed, " Letter from 
Nephew James (James' son) " and dated 4th July 1749. 
It is addressed to M. Laurence Oliphant at the Cafe' 
d' Angleterre, Paris : 

" DEAR UNCLE, I had a letter from Papa dated at 
Leith May 13th, informing me that he has taken a house 
and shop in Edinburgh to dale in the grocery way. . . . 
Direct for me Cadet in Lieu : Generall Halkets Regiment 
in Garrison at Ypres." 

1 She was alive in 1783. 

2 1. James, who married at Newcastle, where he was settled as a doctor. 

His children were : (1) John (who married his cousin, Janet Oliphant, 
in 1790, and had issue an only daughter Janet, who died 1797) ; (2) 
James ; (3) Ebenezer ; (4) Austin ; (5) Janet, who married a Mr 
Richard Bell in Workington. 

2. Laurence, who settled in Jamaica, married, and had a son and a daughter, 

James, a doctor in Jamaica, and Janet who, as mentioned above, 
married her cousin John Oliphant. 

3. Thomas, who died at sea. 
8 The four daughters were : 

1. Janet, married Dr Nesbit and had no children. 

2. Christian, died unmarried. 

3. Cecilia, died unmarried at Perth, 14th June 1789. 

4. Charles, died unmarried. She lived with Miss Findlater as companion 

at 32 Blackfriars Wynd, Edinburgh ; her apartments were on the 
first landing of a large tenement bearing date 1616. The lodging 
afforded a fair example of the mixed company to be found under one 
roof in Edinburgh tenements of the day. On the flat above was the 
Roman Catholic chapel in which the French princes used to worship. 
Below in the cellar lived a well-known old woman called Hen Kirsheu, 
a poulterer, who was also a spae-mfe. Charles's uncle, Ebenezer 
Oliphant, left her the bulk of his property at his death ; she had 
lived for years with him. When she died she bequeathed the Black- 
friars Wynd house to her friend Miss Findlater, who was living there 
as late as 1825 ; at that date the doorplate still bore the name of 
Miss Oliphant, who died in 1812, and was buried in Greyfriars in Mr 
Findlater's tomb. It is probable that her testamentary provisions 
for the Findlater family procured her this sepulchral hospitality. 
4 Any male descendant of James Oliphant living in 1847 could have claimed 
the estate of Gask under the will of James Blair Oliphant, the tenth laird. 


James Oliphant gave up the grocery shop in 1751. 
In 1755 he asked his brother Cask to get a commission 
for his son James in the Spanish service. He said he 
had difficulty in getting his young children clothed and 

In another letter from young James in 1750 he 
mentions his two brothers Laurie and Thomas. From 
the following letter the father seems to have been some- 
thing of a family trial. The writer is Laurence Oliphant 
of Condie to young Laurence Oliphant of Gask on 
24th June 1762:- 

" Your Uncle James is at present in this house with 
his lady and four daughters. 1 I find he is wearied of the 
place of his abod and hinted as if he wanted to stay at 
Mr Whytt's home 2 to which I made him no answer. . . . 
I think it a ridiculous project for him. . . . Poor man he 
is both misfortunate and thoughtless ..." 

Subsequent correspondence shows that Laurence 
Oliphant, who was in exile at this date, definitely 
refused to allow his brother James to live at Gask. 

The next mention of James is three years later. 

Laurence Oliphant writes to "Mr John Brown" 3 at 
Gask : 

" 7th May 1765. 

" SIR, As it is absolutely necessary to have poor 
Uncle James interred and as you could not be up, 1 
have sent you a Bureal letter that you may know the 
hour of the interment and another for Capt. Graeme of 
Inchbrakie, which I hope you'll send him this night by 
express as none of the people about Balmanno will take 
in hand to go that lenth." 

James lies buried in the church of Dron. 
Long years afterwards a grand-nephew of James 
Oliphant, Laurence Oliphant of Gask, " the young laird," 

1 Mrs James Oliphant and her four daughters set up a school in Perth 
in 1768. 

2 Gask House. Whytt was the name adopted by the Laird of Gask after the 
'45, when disguise was necessary. 

* Laurence Oliphant, Younger of Gask, adopted this name under the same 


then an old man, wrote a letter which throws another 
more agreeable light upon the career of James. Mr John 
Oliphant 1 of Tobago had written to the laird claiming 
cousinship, and received a reply as follows : 

"7th February 1782. 

" My Father's brother James, whose eldest son your 
Father 2 is, was very active at Perth in the '45. He bred 
up his children in his own principles, and sent your Father 
to the Dutch service, the seminary then for Jacobites in 
the Scots Regiments." 

Concerning the death of little Anthony, the fourth 
son of James Oliphant and Janet Murray, who was born 
and died in 1701, there is the following letter, addressed 
to Mrs Oliphant from her mother, Jean Murray of 
Woodend, then living in the Canongate. 

Out of the many thousands of babies who passed year 
by year into <?/he darkness, this baby keeps his tiny 
spark of remembrance in the one little letter which 
enshrines his memory : 

" 25th April 1702. CANONGATE. 

" DEAR DAUGHTER, I am heartily sorie for the death 
of your son, tho ye was not pleased to acquent me with 
it, yet I am sure non of all your rellations will simpthies 
mor with you than I doe, yea for anie of yours but most 
espacillie for him who was named after your father ; but 
it is the Lords doing, who can do nothing wrong to you 
and yours. I hope you will take it out of his hand by 
submission to his holy will. I long to hear how ye 
are and the rest of your family. Your affectionate 
Mother, etc. JEAN MURRAY." 

Of William, the fifth son of Gask, very little is known. 
Born in 1703, he began life in 1721 as an apprentice to 
James Smith, a surgeon in Perth. In February 1728 
William went abroad "prosecuting his studies and 

1 This John Oliphant of Tobago married Janet Oliphant, a great-grand- 
daughter of James, fifth Laird of Gask, see note 2, p. 163. 

2 The younger Gask wrote to his cousin Condie from Villeneuve, 27th October 
1749 : " Mr Whytt has lately several letters from your acquaintance Jamy 
Oliphant. He has got a pair of colours, and if one can judge by his pritty way 
of writing, he will one day prove an honour to his name." 


improving himself." His father gave him part of his 
patrimony for the purpose. In 1732 he went to Jamaica, 
where he died at Kingston in June 1738. The family 
letters make scarcely any mention of him ; but his brother 
James, writing an account of his death, describes him 
as " spent to an anatomy." He was supposed to be 
unmarried ; but a letter dated at Perth, 9th May 1738, 
from a Laurence Oliphant to the Laird of Gask, is 
endorsed, in Cask's handwriting, " From Laurence, son 
to William." 

The next brother, Patrick, the sixth son, born 1707, 
had a more interesting career. He was apprenticed in 
1722, at the age of fifteen, to Archibald Arnot, surgeon 
in Kirkcaldy, and six years later was sent to Leyden to 
continue his studies in medicine. Laurence, the elder 
brother, writes to scold Patrick for lending money to 
fellow- students at Leyden. 

He writes as follows to his sister-in-law Amelie : 

" LEYDEN, 2nd March 1729. 

" I wish the late Lady Katharines Cochrane l and 
Lord Gardless all manner of happiness, but 1 should not 
desire to be the first bringer of the news to your Brother 
Mr William, your first accounts of whome and Mr James 
I hope shall be very good. " 

In this letter Patrick gives a long description of the 
plague hospital at Leyden, empty of patients, but ready 
in case of emergency, and specially of the consulting room 
of the doctors, where he saw what he describes as two 
very remarkable pictures : 

" Upon one is represented four phisicians sitting in 
judgment, surly enough like fellows (they might not 
improperly be called Glouming Doctors) yet haveing 
something of a smile in their countenance at sight of an 
old man who comes in with his little son in his hand, 
whom they had cured of the plague, to return them 

1 The youngest of the three beautiful daughters of the fourth Earl of 
Dundonald married 6th January 1729, as his second wife, Alexander Lord 
Garlics, afterwards sixth Earl of Galloway. She died at Bath, 15th March 1786. 
William Hamilton of Bangour celebrated her in verse. 


thanks, and I suppose from the old fellow's countenance, 
somewhat more. This piece is thought to be tolerably 
well done, but the keeper could not tell me the name of 
the painter. 

" The other is lookt on as a piece inimitably well done, 
and entertains us with a very different object, moving so 
much as at the same time to draw almost the tears from 
our eyes, yett strikes the mind with abundance of venera- 
tion and respect, at once commanding the greatest love 
and the utmost pitie. For on this canvas is represented 
a Comely Gentle woman in a reclining posture, supported 
by an old woman who sits in the Bed behind her; the 
features, still so good, must once have been beautified with 
a blooming and agreable complexion, now alas how faded ! 
how wan the once sparkling eyes, these luminarys of the 
Lille world and perhaps once deceivers of a great many, 
now lose their lustre are flatned on their surface and sunk 
within their sokets, while the weared Eye-lid hovering 
over them wails the command of Death to shut them 
up in eternall shade: upon one of her thighs sits her 
own child of about two years old weeping very bitterly, 
streaching up its hand toward the Mother's Breast either 
out of kindness or as willing to tear away the plague Spot 
(which is a little higher upon the chest) the onely per- 
ceptible illness of ye Mother. The Limner has so well 
hit the collour that you see one alive as if at least ten 
days dead. In short the whole is so moving that for my 
part I have not seen anything like it in painting, and I 
don't mind if ever I will. These two pices were done 
from the life last time the Plague was in Leyden, and 
are still reserved in this house, which the Toun caused 
afterwards build for the use of those whose sad fate 
should be to labour under this Distemper in future ages. 
The Gentlewoman is said to have been Lady to a British 
Captain. I forgott to tell you that there are four 
attendants looking over her standing around the bed 
stopping their mouths and noses with napkins. 1 

" I wrote to my Father by the last post of the Straits 
a poor honest Man, who is attainted and dares not return 
home labours under. I refer you to his for ye particulars 

1 It would be interesting to know if these masterpieces are still extant. 
Nearly a hundred years before Patrick wrote this letter Evelyn mentioned in 
his diary having seen at Leyden some dreadful relic of an operation, and a 
picture of the " Chyrugeon and his Patient," 




and shall not dout but you will contribute somewhat to 
his relife, and I hope not the less that I desire it. You 
may tell Lady Innermay I am sure she will not have 
confidence to offer less to the man than a guinea, and 
Brother Thomas I am sure will give two for Cowgask 
for he can well afford it. Without jesting the poor Man 
is in very great misery, nay, next to want itself and what- 
ever is sent I dare say will be very acceptable. I dare 
say if you should ask her, Aunte hersell won't scruple at 
half a G. for the good old Cause." 

" LEYDEN, 23rd March 1729. 

" My dear sister's last of the 26th January gave me 
a great deal of satisfaction as the least scrap of a pen 
from her always yealds me infinite pleasure. Yett me- 
thought some of the latter part of it seemed to be writt 
as (if) something had disturbed that calmness of thought 
and sedateness of mind you are generally blessed with, 
or cast a cloud upon that countenance always so serene 
in itself and discovering so much goodness kindness and 
affection to me ; to make the comparison that paragrafe 
of yours which I mean mead me think I seed the sun 
shining throw a sommers show'r. I have very good 
reasons to belive your goodness will excuse what drops 
from an unthinking pen. ... I am extreamly vexed not 
to have had a letter from my Father but once since I 
came to Holland. What is the matter I don't know, 
whether he has heard any bad, tho I daresay false reports 
of my conduct, or perhaps disobliged with the sum I have 
drawn for since I came here which I cannot at present 
help dureing my stay in this place, but hopes I shall 
make it all up ere I return, since I am firmly resolved 
to try both East and West rather than come Home 
without a competent portion of that necessary Divill 
called Money or if there is anything else in it I beg 
you would quietly and without any takeing, learn out 
the causes and let me know, for I must own you are my 
greatest nay sole confident which were it knowen whould 
disoblige a great many. I can the less conceive it that 
both my Brother and you inform me he is in ordinary 
health. I must own it is my temper and perhaps a fault 
which I dont doubt some would call silly and mean to be 
zealous of disobliging my friends. . . . 



He was in London for a short time in 1729, and while 
there he received the following letter 1 from his brother 
Laurence. It is somewhat of the parental order, but 
Laurence was seventeen years older than Patrick, and 
evidently the tone of patronage was not resented. It 
is addressed to Mr Patrick Oliphant, to the care of Mr 
Oliphant, Hatter, near Charring Cross, London, and is 
dated from 

" WILLIAMSTON, 6th September 1729. 

"DEAR BUOY, I had yours of ye 19 part on the 2nd 
current after I had returned from ye worst Mercat I 
ever had at Falkirk. . . . My Father gote ye letter 
with Boerhave's advice for my Mother, as did Mr Mercer 
of Aldie ye other, which was much spoilt with the rains 
however, I was able to make out ane exact copy, which 
I did in case his Phisitians had not gote throw it. Your 
letter from London to my Father he remitted me, but 
the third part of it was not legible, which I suppose 
is the reason he has not yet given a return ; and both 
ye letters you wrote last have been certainly spoilt before 
they reacht Perth, since my Fathers could not have 
suffered so much in being carryed to Cask. Your 
Patient lady happened to be at her journey's End before 
yours came to hand I thank God without the least incon- 
veniency, and for the medicines, they have been discon- 
tinued these three months past, she having heartyly 
tyred of them. . . . All that I have to add at this time 
is; to carry yourself civilly and affably to everybody, 
especially those from whom you may expect services, 
and when in company with Physitians not to be tenacious 
of your oun oppinion and contradict their's tho yours 
sh d be ye better; live as privatly and sparingly as you 
can, till something cast up, and be most carefull to avoid 
all kinds of bad company in which you cannot be furthered 
in ye main desire." 

Patrick in answering this letter says : 

"Were 1 now to do you justice, I should without 
Flattery say I dont believe there is a more Fatherly elder 
Brother perhaps in all the world besides, than I have 

1 Printed in full in the Jacobite Lairds. 


allways experienced you, both in your generous actions 
and most friendly advices unto me at all times." 

The letter goes on to make the announcement that 
he intends going to the East to seek his fortune. While 
still in London he writes : 

" Pray let me at least know of my Father and Mothers 
health since nobody from Gask writes me as much as 
one scrap." 

Three months later, after he had emigrated, his mother 
died. He never saw any of his family again. 

He sailed in 1729 as surgeon to the East Indies on 
a ship belonging to the East India Company. The 
fortune was never made, and he never returned. There 
are, however, glimpses of Patrick here and there, in 
letters and records, through the twenty years of his 
exile. He writes from Bussorah on 15th March 1746 
to his sister-in-law at Gask : 

" MY DEAREST MADAM, The news I have not from 
any of my relations but the publick Gazettes has flung 
me into the utmost anxiety of mind, I am rent between 
two. My Blood perhaps is at stake and my country in 
ashes. Myself when a boy have already seen it Flames 
and now again who can tell the direfull consequences of 
this civil war. For Gods sake write me, perhaps by 
returning it may be in my power to serve my family. . . . 
Let me know my Dearest sister how it fairs with your 
family and mine. I purposely avoid writing to my 
Brothers you can judge the reason : write me instantly 
and if necessary I will be in Europe as soon as possible." 

Patrick here alludes to the sight he must have seen 
as a child of eight years old, when the Jacobite forces 
burnt Auchterarder and Dunning after Sheriffmuir, both 
towns being visible from the windows of Gask House. 
A great longing to come home fills all his later letters ; 
but the dream was never accomplished. He lived till 
1750, having thus spent twenty years in the East. 
Bussorah in Khuzistan, where he seems to have settled for 


a while, must have been an uncivilised spot. Even in 
1813 a traveller describes it as " a very filthy town." It 
was also in a perpetual state of revolution, and at that 
date only three or four English ships came up the river 
in a year. Fifty years earlier, in Patrick's day, however, 
the Turkish fleet was strong enough to repress the pirates 
in the Persian gulf, and Bussorah was of considerable 
importance as a trading centre. The greatest of its 
industries was the pearl fishery, the pearls found there 
being of special whiteness. Doubtless it was a consign- 
ment of these, perhaps with bales of raw silk, that he 
was reported to have bequeathed to Cask. For long 
after his death at Bagdad reports came of this fortune; 
but neither money or treasure ever reached Scotland. 

James Oliphant writes from Edinburgh to his brother 
Laurence at Versailles, 19th May 1751 : 

"This brings but melancholy news: Last Post we 
had advice from our ffreind att Aleppo that our dear 
Brother Patrick Dyed at Bagdad towards the end of 
last year his letter is dated 29th January last but 
mentions nothing of particulars ; some time ago I had 
a letter from the same hand advising me of his being 
recovered of a dangerous dropsy, and this is the next 
after giving the sorrowful news of his death. . . . The 
good wife and all our young folk join me in most kind 
compliments, etc." 

The seventh son of Cask was Alan, of whom the only 
memorial is a note in the family Bible that he was born 
and died unchristened in 1711. Did he lie, as the church 
then decreed, "under the dropping of the church roof"? 

Ebenezer, the eighth son and the youngest child of 
the family, was apprenticed at the age of fifteen for 
seven years to James Mitchelson, goldsmith burgess of 
Edinburgh. His shop was in the Parliament Close. 
Ebenezer had a prosperous career as a goldsmith, and 
became the one member of the family who had money 
at command. Nevertheless he had money troubles, too, 
in early days. There is a curious " Horn Bond " among 


the Gask papers, dated 15th January 1747. Ebenezer 
owed money to Marjory Banks (or Marjoribanks ? ) 

" And because the within and above named and designed 
Ebenezer Oliphant hath disobeyed the charge given to him, 
therefore upon the 8th day of June 1751, I Nichol Nesbit 
past to the Mercat Cross of Edinburgh and that after my 
crieing of 3 several Oyes's, open proclamation and publick 
reading of the written letters, 1 denounced the said 
Ebenezer Oliphant his Majesty's Rebell and put him to the 
horn, by 3 several blasts of an horn for his disobedience." 

He married, at a date not discovered, Amelia Belches, 
daughter of Alexander Belches l of Invermay, and was the 
father of five children, all of whom died in his lifetime. 
Two letters among the family papers tell of the deaths of 
two sons in an interval of thirteen years. Ebenezer writes 
from Edinburgh on 26th December 1744 to his brother : 

" DEAR BR., After Mrs Oliphants compliments and 
mine to yourself Lady and family and referring you to 
my last directed to her, this serves to advise that your 
little nephew James 2 died this morning at two o'clock 
after a very sevear conflick of three days and three nights 
during which time he never shut an eye nor had the 
smalles Ease or Reast which you may believe was a 
very mouving specteckle. ..." 

A later letter is from Laurence Oliphant to his brother 
Ebenezer on the loss of his son from Corbeil, 17th 
March 1757:- 

SIR, The account you gave my wife Feb. 24 
of the death of your son the beginning of that month 
gave all of us here extream uneasiness and we very 
much sympathise with your great loss, to be sure none 
can know the affliction that the death of one only son 
gives but they who are visited with it ; I'm sure both 
you and Mrs Oliphant have felt it in a most sensible 
manner, but all of human race must lay their account 
with crosses, etc." 

1 Alexander Belches was Sheriff-Clerk of the county of Edinburgh. He died 
19th April 1755. 

2 This child was buried in the Greyfriars, Edinburgh. Another of Ebenezer's 
children was buried there in April 1748. 


There is one glimpse of Ebenezer in his home in 
Edinburgh. The Lady Stewart 1 mentioned was the 
heroine of the celebrated trial which went on for eight 
years. The letter was written by Margaret Oliphant. 
Ebenezer's house in Edinburgh was a rallying point for 
members of the family then scattered : 

" 23rd June 1763. 

" I suped last night with Ebenezer. Aunt and me 
had a tough battle about Lady Stewart 2 that she saw 
here 30 years agoe, she ouns she was a beauty but for 
the rest of her character she made very free with it, came 
home near eleven got a can of foul water on my black 
silk goun, etc., these are the cleanly folks." 

For many years Ebenezer was an office-bearer in the 
Episcopal church of Old St Paul's, Carrubbers Close. 
His niece Charles, a daughter of his brother James, 
lived with him in his last years. His wife died in 1779. 
He died in October 1798 at eighty-five, having outlived 
all his brothers and sisters by many years. He was 
buried in the Greyfriars, where his wife also lies. 

The name of Ebenezer Oliphant stands high in the 
family estimation. His nature had the loyal strain that 
gave the family its distinction. Taking up the trade of 
a goldsmith, he applied himself so earnestly to business 
that he made a fortune, and so was able, when the stress 
came, to come to the rescue of his brother and nephew, 
and to save Cask. Without his help it could not have 
been done. 

1 Lady Jane Douglas, daughter of the second Marquis of Douglas, born 7th 
March 1698, married Sir John Stewart of Grantully, 4th August 1746. Her 
twin sons were born 10th July 1748 when she was fifty. She died 22nd November 
1753. Archibald Stewart, the surviving twin, was in 1761 served heir to the last 
Duke of Douglas. The guardians of the young Duke of Hamilton disputed his 
right, on the ground of the unusual circumstances of his birth. Carried to the 
House of Lords in 1769, the case was given in favour of Archibald Stewart, who 
was afterwards raised to the peerage with the title Lord Douglas of Douglas. He 
died in 1827. 

2 " Nothing is talked of now at all the tea-tables but ' the Douglas story,' " 
writes one of Amelie's correspondents from Edinburgh in June 1763 ; " I asked 
Mr Aikin's opinion of it, he says there seems to have come of late a great change 
in the affair, that it was now confidently said that he would be proven an im- 
postor. Lord Galloway indeed told me there would come out a scene that would 
surprise all the world. Yett there is a woman in this town that has given her 
oath she saw Lady Jean bear these two children, and that when she was thought 
to be dying, though now recovered." 


There remains one exquisite specimen of his art, a 
Jacobite ring of gold and white enamel, bearing the 
initials of twenty-one Jacobite martyrs. 1 

He made a sword for Patrick Graeme about 1741, 
a wine-filler for Patrick Graeme in 1783, and a little 
silver folding knife for Janet Oliphant, his niece, in 1736. 
The story of how, in 1745, he saved his nephew the young 
laird's life after Prestonpans will be told later. 

Of the daughters of the Gask family the eldest, Jean, 
as we have seen, died unmarried in 1718. Of Margaret's 
life, and of her death at the age of eighteen, no echo re- 
mains. The third daughter Anne, born in 1696, married 
in 1721 John Drummond, Younger of Colquhailzie. She 
left sons and daughters, and died in 1740. 

Lilias, the fourth daughter, born in 1697, married in 
August 1718 Laurence Oliphant of Condie. Left a 
young widow by his death in 1726, with an only child, 
a boy, she married again after an interval of three years, 
not, it seems, to the satisfaction of her family. Her 
husband was Mr Bethune, Comptroller of the Customs. 
His employment by an obnoxious Government was 
perhaps the reason of the strong opposition of her family. 

The following letter from Lilias to her mother is 
endorsed " To Lady Gask, from Lady Condie, upon her 
marriage with Mr Bethune": 

" PERTH, 7th June 1729. 

" DEAREST MOTHER, The continued Indulgences and 
affection you have showen me in all the Circumstances 
of Life I have gone through have made me send out 
this my Boy to express my Gratitude in the most duty 
full acknowledgments 1 am capable off in a particular 
manner for your kind enquiry about Mr Bethun's and 
my wellfares which affords me the most satisfaction that 
even at a juncture when the most part of my Relations 
are Dissoblidged with my marriage, you retain that eveness 
and Equality of temper that justly makes you the Delight 

1 This ring was lost to the family for over twenty years after the death of the 
widow of James Blair Oliphant of Gask in 1886. Through the courteous con- 
sideration of the kinswoman into whose hands it fell, the ring has been restored 
to the family. Mr Stirling of Kippendavie possesses another ring exactly the 
same, which must also be the work of Ebenezer Oliphant. 


of all who know you ; and I am hopefull that both my 
Husband's and my actions shall correspond with so good 
a Patern. Whatever dissobligationes my Brother may 
give us who are taking a Course I don't think will be 
much for the interest of my son detaining him from me. 
However all the affronts they can put upon me shall 
never alter or diminish my affection to him and I heartly 
wish they may consult his real interest as much as I have 
done. Mr Bethune joins me in his hearty and dutyfull 
respects to my ffather and you and service to my Brother 
and Sister and beg you'll be perswaded of the esteem with 
which I am D. Mother Your affect : Dau er . . . 

" I would have sent out my Dear Laurie Cloaths that 
I provided for him at this time But I suppose my Brother 
would not allow him to wear them and I have no doubt 
but he will keep him much more handsome than it was 
ever in my power to do, so soon as I return from the goat 
milk I'll be sure to wait of my ffather and your Ladyship. 
Adieu Dear Mother." 

This pathetic letter is the only record of her life. 
Mr Bethune had only three years in which to do his 
best to make up to his wife for all she lost in the support 
of her family, for she died in 1732. Her boy, Laurence 
Oliphant of Condie, found firm friends in his Gask rela- 
tions. His uncle Laurence Oliphant, then of Williamston, 
seems to have treated him as a son, as subsequent letters 
will show. 

The fifth daughter Helen died as an infant in 1702. 

Of Janet, the sixth daughter, little is known beyond 
the facts that she was born in 1705, educated in Edinburgh, 
and died unmarried at Gask at the age of eighteen. The 
accounts for her funeral expenses are in the handwriting 
of her brother Laurence : 

" At Mrs Janet's Burial. May 1, 1723. 

" To John Tayle for mending ye windows 

at Gask 1 2, 14 

To him for a mutchkin bottle of snuff . 18 

To a poor man ..... 6 

1 Possibly, if Janet died in one of the smaller rooms in a turret, the windows 
would be removed to let the coffin be passed through. 


To Abercairnie's cook . . . 3 

To my Lord Strathallan's cook . . 3 

To McClairan's cook .... A crown. 
To two poor people . . . . 12 

For a pound of tea . . . 4, 16 

To the Ochterarder Mortcloath l 3 " 

Katherine, the seventh daughter, born in 1709, married 
in 1736 Robert Graeme, the tenth laird of Garvock, the 
Jacobite " Glaud." She died in 1775. Her children were 
four sons and two daughters. 2 

This brief account of the fifteen children of the fifth 
Laird of Gask may perhaps be found interesting, and 
supply clues to those of the name who are believed by 
tradition to be linked with the Gask family. It will 
be seen that both James and William Oliphant left 
children whose descendants have not been traced. 

1 Gask was later than most parishes in getting a mort-cloth of its own. In 
May 1726 " The Session having bought a new mort-cloathe in Perth and paid the 
same price, one hundred and forty-three pounds twelve shillings and sixpence 
(Scots) and all the Session agreed the use of the mort-cloath should be one pound 
for within the paroch, and one pound ten without the paroch." (Gask Session 

2 (1) James, eleventh Laird of Garvock ; (2) Laurence ; (3) Charles James 
Stewart ; (4) Robert ; (5) Amelia Ann Sophia ; (6) Margaret. 



THE matter which brought Jacobite plans again to a head 
was the war between Britain and Spain which broke out 
in 1740. France, eager to strike a blow at England at 
this good moment, entered into protracted negotiations 
with the Jacobites, through Macgregor of Balhaldie, the 
agent in Paris. The young Chevalier was summoned from 
his Italian exile to Paris, a French fleet was placed at his 
disposal, and French troops were in readiness. Once more 
the elements fought against the Stewarts, a tempest 
drove the fleet back to the shores of France. The disaster 
threw the Jacobites, whose hopes had been keenly awake, 
into a momentary despair, for the attempt seemed to be 
at an end. But the flame was to be rekindled by the hand 
of Prince Charles Edward himself. 

The first news of the rash and hazardous plan formed 
by the sanguine courage of the young Prince struck 
consternation into the ranks of the Scottish Jacobites. 
As in the West Highlands, so at Nairne, Strowan, Lude, 
Cask, Machany, there would be family councils of dismay 
when the news of the desperate scheme was known. 
They had expected an army, a fleet, ammunition, foreign 
support, all the things so often promised, so often delayed. 
Now the prospect of these was swept aside. Alone, un- 
equipped, unsupported, the King's son was coming to 
snatch a kingdom for his father from the hands of an 
organised Government. There was something in the 
desperate scheme that appealed to knightly instinct with 
the charm of audacity, and although all over the country 
there were meetings and confabulations among the loyal 

177 M 


in which the action was deplored and censured, very few 
were found to dissociate themselves from the movement, 
when once the clans had begun to gather. Charles landed 
at Moidart on 25th July 1745. From that moment there 
was no real doubt at Gask as to what part the Oliphants 
would play. The heart of the young laird, then just 
twenty, would be full of the tide of enthusiasm, full of 
gladness that he was at last to draw the sword he had so 
often unsheathed in his dreams. To Laurence Oliphant, 
his father, things would wear a different aspect. Though 
it was thirty years since he went out in the '15, the 
memory would still be poignant, the experience still real 
and clear. In the mind of the boy an event that happened 
nine years before his birth belonged as much to the dead 
fires of the past as the wars of Montrose. The father 
had hoped just such fiery hopes, had seemed to stand on 
the threshold of just so bright a fulfilment, but there 
had been defeat and loss he had looked upon the face 
of failure, and the tragedy of it was a seal on his heart 
for ever. Father and son represented the movement 
of Jacobite feeling at the moment. Scotland was alight, 
on the one hand, with the fires of youth, eager for the 
sword, and on the other lit by the steady shining of those 
minds in whom the righteousness of the great restoration 
was a settled political conviction, but over whose stead- 
fast hopes hung the cloud of doubt as to whether so rash 
an undertaking could have a real chance of turning the 
old defeat into a prelude of glory. Father and son, says 
family tradition, paced together hour by hour the terrace 
by the great holly hedge 1 in the old garden at Cask, 
taking counsel together as to whether the son should join 
the Prince's standard, and the father stay at home, and 
so save the estate. From the first, however, though 
other plans might be discussed, the upshot was a fore- 
gone conclusion. To the nature of the " Old Laird " 
half measures were not possible. He rose to the need 
of the hour with completeness of surrender from the first, 

1 Cut down by T. L. Kiugtou Oliphant in 1887. It was said to be the finest 
specimen in Scotland. 


offering not only his personal service, but the service of 
his only son ; not only his own security, but the security 
and comfort of wife and daughters, risking lands, liberty, 
life everything in his world. Nairnes, Strathallans, 
Robertsons, Mercers, Drummonds, Graemes stood by him, 
ready with the same unquestioning sacrifice, ready with 
the same answer to that rash call to arms. By the side of 
these soldiers stood the mothers, wives, and sisters, throw- 
ing in the weight of their eager partisanship on the side 
of instant and complete support of all that their Prince 
might demand. Foremost among the loyal women of 
the hour stand Margaret, Lady Nairne, in her old age, 
and her daughters, all giving what they had, putting aside 
all considerations that did not bear on the cause of their 
hearts. The girls, Margaret and Janet Oliphant, shared 
keenly in the exultation, in the joyful tumult of the 
time. From the young Laurence no one would expect 
the prudence that counts the cost; to him it was all 
glory, all hope, a chance which lost itself in a splendid 
dream of achievement. Years afterwards he writes the 
simple record in his journal : " 1745. He sent our Lawful! 
Prince amongst us, and 1 followed him" 

Details of the first activities of the campaign are given 
in a short diary he kept at this time, of which the follow- 
ing are extracts : * 

" Sunday, Augt. 4th. Mr Gamble young Glenlayen 
cam and halted with 16 men before Cask, and this 
serymony the three Highland companies performed at 
most of the Gentlemen's houses in Strath Ern. 

" Friday, 9th. Heard the newes of the Prince's land- 
ing ; the same day the Duke of Perth came to Machany 
about making an attempt to tak Stirling Castle, which 
was so much reinforced that he could not attempt any- 

" Wednesday. Heard that the Prince was well, the 
Clans joining him. Two companys of the Royals that 
went by Blah* to the Hilands commanded by a second 
son of Scotestarvets, taken prisoners by ye Camerons, 

1 Printed in the Jacobite Lairds of Gask. 


and that the Prince was on his march and would soon 
see us in Strath Ern. 

" As soon as the Prince and his companie were landed, 
he took off his bonet, kneel'd down and gave thanks to 
God for his safe arivall, and he told those that were 
with him, that as it had pleased God to land him safely 
in Scotland, he would never leave it while there was life 
in his body, but if he should die, he had a brother to 
suckceed him that deserved the love and obedience of 
his subjects. 

" Tuesday, 27th. An Express arrived from the Prince 
to tell all was well, desiring all his Friends to hold them- 
selves ready in an hour's warning." 

September 1st was the day that decided finally the 
fortunes of the family. The old laird on that day made 
his wife factor over his estate and set forth with his young 
son to Blair to meet the Prince. The young Laurence 
writes : 

"Sunday, Sept. 1st. I went up with Lord Nairne 
to Blair in Athol, where the Prince was with the Hiland 
army consisting about that time of about two thousand 
five hundred men. I had the Honour to kiss his Royal 
Highness hand, kneeling on one knee, and soopt with 
him afterwards." 

So the great moment came the event for which all 
the influences of his simple life had been a preparation. 
Commissary Bissett, in a letter 1 to Humphrey Harrison 
from Dunkeld, written on 1st September, the very day 
that the Oliphants went up to join the army at Blair, 
gives one glimpse of the family party: 

" About 9 this forenoon I was werry impatient for 
some accounts to send His G. and I made a step over 
to ... to see what I could pick up. 1 returned a 
little after tea, when I heard that Lord Nairne was at 
Mr Scots and had sent for me. I immediately went to 
Mr Scots where Lord Nairne, Mr Mercer of Aldie, the 
young Laird of Gask was going to take their horses and 
set out for Blair to join the Rebell army. His Lord- 
ship and his company was in top spirits." 

1 Atholl Chronicles, vol. iii. p. 16. 


Cask received three days later a letter from his 
brother-in-law, Nairne : 

"The Prince will dine at Nairne, either tomorrow 
or Thursday ; I hope my sister and nieces will be there 
either this night or tomorrow morning; I wish you and 
your son could continue to be there also." 

It is not known if Amelie, with Margaret and Janet, 
were able to profit by this invitation ; in all probability, 
however, they rode to Nairne for this great event, when 
Margaret, Lady Nairne, would collect round her as many 
as possible of her children and grandchildren to do honour 
to the young royal guest, who had already enjoyed the 
hospitality of members of the family at Blair and at Lude. 
After the dinner at Nairn, he rode into Perth, escorted 
by what might be called a family party the Duke of 
Perth, James Drummond, Mercer of Aldie, and the two 
Oliphants to be joined there by Robertson of Strowan 
and Lord George Murray. From Blair to Perth young 
Laurence Oliphant rode at the side of the Prince, who, 
without promise of effective help, almost without funds, 
gay, good-humoured, bravely dressed, full of the vital 
personal magnetism which he knew so well how to use 
in his cause, secured without effort the heart's devotion 
of young Laurence. What marvel indeed if he held 
the boy captive, when men of sober years, tried soldiers 
in life's battle, statesmen, and men of affairs, were 
irresistibly attracted? The fire of his charm wrought 
more fiercely on the boy of twenty, untried in all sobering 
experiences, and if the Cause shone clearly enough even 
to those older counsellors, not blind to the possible issues 
of so hazardous an enterprise, it rose before the imagina- 
tion of Laurence Oliphant with dazzling effect. The 
hour of his life had come. This was life's height, this 
the fulfilment of all the prayers and promises and aspira- 
tions of a childhood and youth spent in the one light, bent 
towards the one aim. The hour had come and there 
was the companion of his whole inner life, there was 
the object of devotion close beside him in the flesh, In 


the eager cavalcade round about the Prince were the 
well-known faces of kinsmen graver, perhaps, than his 
own, but satisfied to be counted in that train, to make 
the great quarrel their own at last, to be done, in a 
measure, with the talking and scheming, and riding 
forward to the music of their hopes, in the throb of 
full reality. The Prince was there at last, and Laurence 
Oliphant knew the desire of his soul. 

Foremost among the older group of adherents rode 
the elder Gask, with maturer judgment, a riper sense 
of all that was involved, perhaps a heavier heart. A 
feudal overlord to the utmost fibre, he had confidently 
expected his tenants to rise to a man to follow him 
on the great enterprise. There was, however, little in 
Lowland interests to correspond with the spirit of the 
Highlands. It was not so easy there to rouse the 
slumbering loyalties of ancient tradition to the point of 
activity. To read of Cask's action when he found his 
tenant farmers insensible to the call of duty, and unwill- 
ing to embark on the adventure at the laird's bidding, 
is to be carried back a hundred years into the days of 
feudal authority. He refused his tenants permission 
either to gather in their harvest or to feed their beasts 
upon the corn, when hanging ripe. To this arbitrary 
decree the farmers appear to have submitted. The situa- 
tion gave rise to one of those simple yet princely acts 
on the part of Charles Edward which live on in story 
through the centuries. Riding through the pleasant lands 
of Gask he saw the golden corn dropping and heard the 
story. Exclaiming " This will never do ! " he leapt from 
his horse, and going into the field he gathered a handful 
of corn, and gave some to his horse, and then made the 
bystanders understand that, with his royal authority, the 
farmers were now at liberty to gather in the harvest. 

It was on llth September, the last of the eight days 
that Charles Edward remained in Perth for the drilling 
of his wild troops and the gathering of further reinforce- 
ments, that he rode over to the house of Gask, and 
breakfasted there on his way by Dunblane to Edinburgh 


a proud event, to be remembered and handed down 
through the generations. Amelie, with Margaret and 
Janet, would be early astir, busy with their eager prepara- 
tions. The picture rises to the mind of the three gentle 
women, full of happy pride, at the low door, now and again 
looking along the road to Perth for the first sight of the 
expected horsemen. 1 No doubt the two Laurences would 
escort the royal guest from Perth. Breakfast was set in 
the " low drawing-room." The table, inscribed with the 
fact, the chair on which he sat, the spurs he exchanged 
with his host, became treasured relics, pathetic memorials 
now of those fiery hopes that once lit these simple lives 
with so intense a glow. Strangely dreamlike it must 
have seemed to the younger generation to see there, in 
the flesh, breaking bread at their table, the young man 
with whose life all their young lives had been linked ever 
since they could remember. They had grown up with 
him, played with him in his Italian home, fought beside 
him at Gaeta, endured his disappointments, lived upon his 
hopes. Now they really touched his hand, looked with 
their true eyes into his eyes, and everything fell away 
but the enchantment of his presence. 

To Amelie and the old laird, doing the simple 
honours of their house, thoughts were rooted in a far 
past. In remembrance the laird was again a young 
man, waiting upon the Prince's father, recognising, 
even in the gay charm of the son so different in all 
respects some trace of the grave pathos of the silent 
sovereign he had loved and served thirty years ago. 
Here was Charles Edward, fearing nothing, doubting 
nothing, equipped with the nameless attraction that drew 
men and women so readily to his standard, engrossed 
with the pleasure of the moment, happy in the confidence 
of a shining future ; but the old laird would see all the 
bright picture against the background of a tragic past. 
The thirty years of peace melted away; he stood, as it 
were, between the two young men the father and 

1 Lord Nairne and William Murray of Taymount were at Gask on this 
occasion with the Prince, 


the son between the saddest of all remembrance, and 
the happiest of all anticipation. The dark destiny of 
his race threw shadows already across the path Charles 
had chosen. The thoughts of Laurence and Amelie 
surely went back to old suffering and forward to possible 
mischance. But meanwhile it was a golden day that 
gave their ancient house so dear a guest. All was joy 
in the thought of the lasting honour, not to be taken 
away by any stroke of fate. 

Out of the old windows the Prince must have gazed 
across the slope to the lime-trees that sheltered the little 
church, rising among the myriad graves where lay so 
many who had, in a forgotten past, fought for his fathers. 
Beyond, he looked down the valley, beautiful beyond 
words in its autumn wealth, across to the blue Ochils, 
whither thirty years before, the loyal troops of his 
father's army had marched on their way to Sheriff- 
muir ; there they had retreated, marking their path with 
flames and desolation. No record remains of any acts 
or speech. But there is no need to wonder of what 
guest and host spoke on that morning at Cask. Clearly 
through the years their voices rise to the imagination 
sounding out of that undying past : " Thither we 
marched ; there we halted, thus and thus the clans 
were disposed, far away to the right, where the valley 
is misty, lies the battlefield, almost in sight. The Prince 
will pass it on his way to Edinburgh." The little group, 
thrilling at the words, saw, at the sound of them, the 
young Chiefs plans " soar up again like fire." The spirit 
of that little breakfast-party in the low drawing-room 
clings yet to the old stones, the ruined walls and empty 
windows, and will still be there in association when all 
has mouldered through the ages into nothingness. 

Then he was gone, and only the memory remained, 
only the resolve to make that memory a cherished 
possession while the house of Gask should endure. Father 
and son rode away with their Prince on the road to 
fortune and misfortune. Amelie, Margaret, and Janet 
stayed behind in the house that for them could never 


now be empty. They, too, were to bear an active share 
in the '45, when their time came, and they had to 
face, amidst the ruin and distraction of their ordered 
lives, the cruel realities of war. But they faced it 
with a sense of personal service, in a spirit that the 
young Chief himself had given. In the dreary years 
of poverty and exile, the little scene in the Gask 
drawing-room must often have "flashed upon the 
inward eye," making self - surrender seem right and 

The morning at Gask was the beginning of Charles 
Edward's triumphant progress from Perth to Tulli- 
bardine and Dunblane, over the field of Bannockburn, 
to Edinburgh. As in the Highlands, so in his march 
through the Lowlands, men came to his standard every 
day, so that an ever-increasing host poured across the 
Ford of Frew, eight miles above Stirling. The retreating 
Government troops left the way open for the Highland 
army, already a victorious band without having drawn 
sword. In each town the leader found consternation and 
fear, and left behind him a ferment of excitement the 
reverse of hostile. In the submission of Stirling and 
Linlithgow he could read something more than the forced 
surrender of inadequate means of defence. There was 
everywhere a rising tide of sympathy with his cause. 
There is no record of what part the Laird of Gask and 
his son played in the taking of Edinburgh, or in the 
march thither ; of that journey, so full of proud excite- 
ment and historical interest, no word remains. Both 
received distinguished posts in the campaign. The elder 
Gask, who held a commission as Lieutenant Colonel 
in the Perthshire Squadron commanded by his brother- 
in-law, Lord Strathallan, was made joint Governor of 
Perth with him, both also acting as treasurers. 1 It was 
an important trust, involving responsibility for the 
military and civil government of the north. The Prince 
sent them back from the army to take over the duties 
at Perth, which they reached on 4th October. Young 

1 Gask's accounts are given at great length in the Jacobite Lairds of Gask. 


Oliphant, whose commission was also in the Perthshire 
Squadron, was made aide-de-camp to the Prince after 
Prestonpans, and in that capacity saw every phase of 
the campaign from that time till Culloden. He has, 
fortunately, left a description of his adventures at and 
after Prestonpans. 1 

"Friday, 20th. Marcht from Dudestoun to meet Cope 
who we heard was on his march towards us. About 
twelve we came in view of his army which was drawn 
up in order of Battle between . . . Grange on the 
right and Seaton on the left, the sea in the rear and a 
morass with ditches throw it on the south, above which 
lays ye toun of Tranent. The grand army marchd east 
throw Tranent and drew up in order of battle in the 
twilight. The Athol men were sent to secure the enemy's 
right, that they might not get to Edenburgh. About 
three of the clock next morning the men were ordered 
to joine the army and form the second line. The Army 
begun to march, as soon as they could see one another 
to the East, and pass'd the morass on the Enemy's flank, 
upon which the Enemy changed ye disposition and 
formed a line from South to North : our men did the 
same ; the enemys Hors were posted on the two wings, 
and a reserve in the center behind the first line. The 
Highlanders advanced, fir'd at a pretty great distance, 
and then went in sword in hand and put the enemy 
to root in three minutes time. There was of our men 
kil'd four officers and about thirty men, and 70 wounded ; 
of the Enemy about forty officers kill'd, fourty wounded 
and taken, five hundred kill'd and wounded and about 
a thousand taken prisoners. 

"Sunday, 22nd. We marcht back to Muslebrugh, 
the Prince lay at Pinkie. 

" Monday, 23rd. In the evening we came to the 
Abby of Holyrood Hous." 

No particulars are given in his journal of his own 
services in the engagement. Many years afterwards, when 
he was sixty years old, he was asked to give an account 
of these, and this he did in the following words : 2 

1 Jacobite Lairds, p. 110. 
1 Itid. p. 111. 


" To begin the day before it was light the Atholl 
men that were quartered twixt Gl Cope and Edinburgh 
arrived in the Prince's Camp, which had the appearance 
of a long ridge of pease sheaves, the Prince lying in the 
middle of them on ye ground with white great coat 
spread over him above his plaid. He and his little 
Army started up from a sound sleep. It may be asked 
how I should know they sleept. Answer, I was sent 
soon after ye Prince encamp'd to order the Athol men 
to remain on their Post and to march early and join 
ye Prince. On my return, perhaps about twelve, all 
was so quiet and still, that had it not been for our small 
party of horse, I would have had difficulty to find ye 
Army (tho ye night was tolerably clear) along the lines 
of which I walked ; all lay dead asleep wraped in their 
plaids, and I was shewn by ye Sentinells where ye P. 
was. The Army started up and were in motion in an 
instant, with the greatest silence passed ye bog, going 
through which the Prince missed one of the steping stones, 
and one of his legs went in near to the knee. Cope 
changed his front, the Action begun and soon ended 
favourably, before the Prince could run up to the Enemie's 
guns. In going I was ordered to Edenburgh as fast as 

1 could to get out Surgeons, cause shut ye ports against 
Straglers etc. etc. The Execution was a little hazardous ; 
in Tranent I was hard on the Dragouns that went oft' 
in a body, before I was awar. I took a different lane 
and avoided them and as I came on my servant and I 
disarmed all the fugitives I met with, not to give them 
an opportunity of firing after me. Numbers of young 
Lads were on the road, to whom I gave the arms and 

2 or 3 Dragoon horses, ordering them to the Prince, 
and allowed ye Troopers to shift for themselves. A 
servant going off with a led powny would not halt ; I 
fired my side pistol after him in the air, which brought 
him to. Entering ye Netherbow, a most agreeable 
prospect opened ; the windows on both sides up to the 
Lucken booths full of Caps and the street of Hatts and 
Bonets, and when I now and then call'd out Victory, the 
air seemed to rend with ye hearty huzza. I alighted at 
Lucky Wilson's below ye Lawen Market and sent for 
the Magistrates, who came immediatly. I delivered 
them my orders, particularly to guard ye Nether Bow 


port and keep out Straglers, which they promised to do 
directly. While I was busy breakfasting, and answering 
many questions, Mr Halyburton came in and told me 
there were some Dragouns and soldiers coming up ye 
street. Vex't that my orders were not executed, I jump'd 
up, went out, I believe without my bonnet, follow'd by 
Sir James Stewart, Mr Ebenezer Oliphant, and I don't 
know how many more, and met the Party a little below 
the mouth of the close consisting, I think, of seven or 
eight foot, and two Dragouns. I ordered them in the 
Prince's name to surrender ; they stopt and the Dragouns 
were dismounting, when one of the foot, presenting his 
Pies, I snapt my side Pistol at him, in my hurry forgett- 
ing I had emptied it at ye servant coming into Town ; 
perhaps it was lucky. The soldier fired, as did severall. 
1 got a shot through ye lap of my vest, a slight stroke on 
ye left arm with a sword, and the buckel of my shoulder 
belt on my breast cut and bent by another. I then made 
my retreat and heard balls strike on ye wall above me, 
as I entered ye close. I was told the Dragouns and foot 
hasted up toward ye Castle and one soldier was following 
me in the close, when my Uncle Mr Ebenezer Oliphant did 
me the good service to grasp him in his arms and said 
* What want you, friend ? ' upon which he snaked off. 

" The Prince sleept at Pinkie and next day when he 
entered his apartment at Hollyrood house, there was laid 
on his table a Laurel Crown ; few people coming in with 
his Royal Highness, I used the freedom to present him 
with the Crown ; he bowed his head and let me put it 
on, so that ye only Fugitive had the honour to crown ye 
future King." 

Fresh from the clash of arms, the exaltation of success, 
the sounding street full of its acclaim, the wild music still 
insisting " The King shall enjoy his own again" the two 
young soldiers stand in this picture face to face in an 
intimate personal relation. Yesterday young Laurence 
lived through the glory of that wild galop up the steep 
street, ringing with his shout of " Victory ! "- to-day he is 
almost alone with his prince, and there lies the laurel 
crown, and there the hero's brow is bent to receive it. 
His hand was to be the hand fated out of all the world 



1724 - 1792. 


to place there the frail crown that was only the symbol 
of one that should not perish. In that moment, so lit 
with romance and devotion, no misgiving foretold the 
desolate truth, that the crown of laurel was the only 
crown he was destined to wear. 

The ladies of the Gask household were probably in 
Edinburgh during the days of triumphant excitement 
that followed. There is a strong family tradition in the 
Inchbrakie family that Margaret Oliphant attended the 
balls of Holyrood. The dress she wore was embroidered 
by herself and is still an heirloom in the Graeme family. 1 

The march to Derby, that extraordinarily audacious 
invasion which remains the chief wonder of a wonderful 
campaign, began on 31st October, when, full of high 
hope, the Prince left Holyrood, counting as he turned 
southward on the loyalty of English and Welsh Jacobites, 
who would, he thought, flock to his standard as he 
pursued a victorious progress to London. With him 
rode young Laurence Oliphant, 2 bearing a part in all 
that followed the taking of Carlisle, the success at 
Manchester the month of onward marching, when the 
spirits of the little army were high and the incredible 
seemed possible, even to the tried soldiers and advisers 
of the Prince. He had his part, too, in the mournful 
retreat from Derby, when spirits flagged and the star of 
Charles's rising fortunes seemed to suffer eclipse. 

While Laurence Oliphant the younger was thus 
engaged all the winter months in the Prince's service, 
his father, as we have seen, held the difficult and 
dangerous post of Governor at Perth and Treasurer to 
the Jacobite forces. Many a name known in Jacobite 
annals appears in his carefully - kept accounts, giving 
receipts or details of men who had been sent to Perth 
to join the standard. The following records give the 

1 One of Margaret Oliphant's daughters lived till 1841, so many now living 
will have heard the tradition from her. All Margaret's letters were destroyed 
by dry rot in the store where they were placed when Inchbrakie House was 
pulled down in 1882. 

2 He went back to Perth from Edinburgh before 24th October, on which day 
he was sent to receive 200 from Lady Methven, but he got back to his Prince 
in time to ride southwards with him. 


names of adherents perhaps lost to history save for these 
scraps of paper, besides many names well known in 
Jacobite history Glengarry, Nairne, MacLachlan, Clan- 
ranald, Glencoe. 

"Eight Pounds Sterling was paid 'to the Boatmen 
upon the Ferry betwixt Perth and Bridgend of Tay, 
being twenty -three in number,' by the Right Hon. 
William Viscount Strathallan present Governor of the 
Toun of Perth, and that for rowing over great commands 
both of Horse and Foot, likewise Artilary since the date 
of his Highness Prince Charles coming to this place Perth 
23 Dec. 1745. 

" Likewise leaves it to be considered the loss of a boat 
bringing over the last Artilary valued a hundred pounds 

A letter reached Oliphant dated : 

, 20 Dec. 1745. 

" SIR, As the men which I command here have 
received pay only till Sunday night, I have sent Lieu. 
MacKenzie to bring up more for them, which you'l please 
send with all expedition, as it is impossible for me to 
advance them any, or for them to live without it. 
Captain Murphy who left us this day will acquaint you 
of our situation, and how necessary it is to be reinforced 
with the outmost expedition, especially as we learn by 
our Scoots this night that the Dragoons are returned 
to Stirling from Lithgo and Falkirk. You'l please com- 
municate this to the Generals, that they may take their 
resolution accordingly. I am, Sir, your most humble 
servant, MACLEOD." 

Another order upon Lord Strathallan is dated : 

"BLAIR CASTLE, 27 Jan. 1746. 

"MY LORD, Please give the bearer Col. Richard 
Warren, my aid-de-camp, one hundred and fifty pounds 
sterling to be employed in paying the men who are 
guarding the Prisoners and passes in this Country. 


The following is part of a letter from Macdonald of 


Barisdale. It is addressed to Oliphant of Gask, and dated 
Perth, 17th January 1746. 

" SIR, I beg you will be pleased to excuse this 
trouble. ... I fforgote to state the ffive men I gote of 
the Inverurie presoners, and a young youth came to me 
that same Sunday evening, recommended to my caire, 
the onlie son of MacDonald of Lemok in the island of 
Egg, who I suported as a gentleman volunteer at a 
shilling a day." 

Oliphant had charge of the English officers taken at 
Prestonpans. 1 On the very day that the Prince and his 
forces moved southwards, Gask was in difficulties at 
Perth, whose citizens, however humbly they had truckled 
to Charles Edward when he was among them, were 
certainly not in sympathy with his cause when Prince and 
army were out of sight. October 30th, being the birth- 
day of George II., was chosen by the mob as a fitting 
opportunity for rebellion against the Jacobite govern- 
ment, and the powers instituted by Charles. Laurence 
Oliphant was alone that day, for Lord Strathallan was 
in the country. The populace, led by the chief burghers, 
signified the spirit of the hour by breaking into organised 
revolt, disarming the patrol, and demanding that Gask 
should deliver up all the arms and ammunition in his 
charge. The intention was to take him prisoner, and get 
him on board the Fox man-of-war, then lying off Leith. 
Gask chanced to have only nineteen men at his command, 
and his chance of holding off the rebels must have seemed 
small; but with this handful of men he went to the 
Council house, where the arms were stored, and through 
a whole night defended it against all attacks. At mid- 
night the rebels rang the fire-bell to summon their whole 
force. The best description of the affair is given in a 

1 Among them was Colonel Whyteford, who is the "Colonel Talbot" of 
Scott's "Waverley." 

A few months after their capture the Duke of Cumberland threatened with 
the loss of their commissions any of these officers who should regard their parole 
and refuse to serve against the Jacobites. ' ' The blackest stain that ever sullied 
the honour of the British army." Jacobite Lairds of Gask, p. 122. 


letter or journal of events written by Cask's daughter, 
Margaret Oliphant. 

"As they were coming down ye street Gask and his 
men fired on them, and killed and wounded a great many; 
but when they came near, they stood behind forstairs, and 
shot out at windies upon them abone 300 shot and kil'd 
one of ye French gentlemen. 1 One of ye rabel's arm was 
shot of, just as he was going with a wisp of hather to blow 
up the hous. They had a boat ready to take Gask to ye 
Fox man-of-war. At daybreak they went off but they 
were resolved to have it more efectual next, and had a 
great number convind ; ye Nairne men came in that 
night, and they got them drunk, and was to have gone 
on, had not 300 Mclntoches come in, which put a stop 
to all their mailes. The prisoner officers, which were 
taken at Gladsmoor and was at Perth on parole, was 
much blam'd for spireting up the mob, which had ye 
aperence of ending very tragickly." 

Margaret's letter has more than once been printed. 
It breathes that spirit of devotion stirring so many hearts 
to the depths. 

" I am a woman, not designed for war ; yet could 
this hand (weak as it is thought), nerved by my heart's 
companion resolution, display the Royal banner in the 
field, and shame the strength of manhood in this cause. 

" * Let Charles encounter with a host of Kings 
And he shal stand the shock without a terror.' " 

Then she goes on to detail the actions of " our glorus 

The events of this momentous winter must at least 
have satisfied Margaret's family pride. . While her father 
was holding Perth, her brother was in the thick of the 
fighting with the Highland army, had marched through 
Clydesdale upon Glasgow, and on to Kilsyth and 
Bannockburn, and seen the bloodless capture of Stirling 
town and the abandoned siege of the Castle. His own 
account of the battle of Falkirk is here given, in a letter 

1 Two Frenchmen had come in the day before with fifteen of Pitsligo's men. 


written on the evening of the battle to his mother at 
Cask :- 

" The Army march't from a field east of Banackburn, 
about twelve, this day, for Falkirk, where the enemy lay 
encampt; after we had cross'd the water Carron, and 
march'd up the hill southwest from Falkirk, we perceived 
the Enemy marching from their Camp to attack us, we 
march'd up the hill and drew up in order of Battle, South 
and North ; the Dragoons, to the number of three or four 
hunder, were opposite to our right, where Lord George 
commanded, and was with him Mr of Strathallan and 
Capn Harie. We are all perfectly well. We advanced 
and the Dragoons advanced likeways. The enemy keept 
up their fire till we were very near them, and we both 
fired, and immediatly they run for it ; there was not 
above twenty or thirty killed and wounded, and not one 
of ours killed. They say there was not above a thousand 
foot of the enemy engaged ; they were likeways put to 
the Rout and about a hunder and fifty killed ; they say 
about thirty of ours nobody of note killed ; but this 
account of the battle must be imperfect as we have not 
had time to know circumstances. I'l refer that to my 
next. W^e took five or six Cannon, a great many waggons 
and baggage. The enemy retired to their camp, we did 
not pursue them, the men were so much straggled. 
There was great fires in their camp as it begun to turn 
dark ; and upon sending to Falkirk to enquire, we gote 
intelligence the enemy were marching very fast out of 
town toward Linlithgow, and had burnt all their Tents 
upon which the army marcht into town, where we are 
just now very well. I know not whether we are to 
pursue them. All friends are well. The Prince was in 
the second line. I'm sleepy just now, so shall add no 
more. 1 

" FALKIRK, Friday, Jan. 17th, 1746." 

Doubtless the young aide-de-camp after the victory 
would share in the contention of opinion among the 
leaders of the campaign which ended, to the despair of 
Charles Edward, in the retreat to the north. On 3rd 

1 Jacobite Correspondence Atholl Family, p. 142. The letter is also 
printed in the Jacobite Lairds of Gask. " The original letter, being wrote in 
a hurry, is not very legiball to those that dont know the hand," Lord Strathallan 
writes to the Duke. 



February he would be at Crieff with his master, and 
would doubtless find time to ride the nine miles over 
to Gask to see his mother and sisters. It was at Crieff 
that the policy was decided of dividing the Jacobite army 
in two portions, the clans, under command of the Prince, 
to take the road to the north by Cope's road, and the 
Lowland regiments, under Lord George Murray, to march 
by the coast of Angus and Aberdeenshire. The two 
divisions were to meet at Inverness. The Duke of 
Cumberland, with a large force, was only a day's march 
behind the Prince's army at this time. But both the 
clans and the Lowlanders rose to the occasion, and per- 
formed a retreat masterly in organisation, considering 
the material of which the troops were composed. It is 
not known in which division young Laurence went to 
the north whether as aide-de-camp he remained by the 
Prince, or as a Lowlander went with his cousin, Lord 

Meanwhile the elder Gask remained at his post at 
Perth till the approach of the Duke of Cumberland and 
his forces on 6th February, when it was evident that the 
city could not be held by the Jacobites. There is one 
personal glimpse of the old laird from the evidence of 
John Gray of Rogart, a Highland drover, examined in 
the House of Commons in 1746. Gray, when asked, 
" What do you know of Laurence Oliphant of Gask, and 
did he wear highland cloathes ? " answered that he had 
been pointed out to him outside the prison window, and 
he had on a "laced hat and long cloathes." 

Oliphant was then under orders to rejoin his regiment 
of Perthshire Horse, on the road to Aberdeen, 1 under 
Lord George. With dark misgivings he must have 
quitted the neighbourhood of Gask House, and his wife 
and daughters, left totally defenceless, and exposed to 
the retribution sure enough to fall on such a Jacobite 
stronghold. While father and son marched to the north, 
the vengeance of the Government fell on many of the 

1 He continues his accounts as Treasurer until the day before Culloden. 
Extracts will be found in the Jacobite Lairds of Gask. 

IX.] MR M'LEISH 195 

castles and houses whose men had gone forth to the 
Prince, and whose women could do nothing to save 
goods and gear. 

To Amelie Oliphant and her daughters at Gask the 
events of these months must have been of thrilling interest, 
though full of acute anxiety, with the husband and father 
in so important a position at Perth, and the son and 
brother on the perilous road to glory with the Prince. 
Besides these of her immediate household, Amelie had 
two brothers in the forefront of the movement Lord 
Nairne x and Robert Mercer 2 while the husbands of three 
of her sisters Lord Strathallan, 3 William Murray of 
Taymount, 4 Duncan Robertson 5 of Drummachin were 
in the field, besides the Atholl brothers, who were her 
first cousins, and her nephews, Lord Fincastle, 6 the Master 
of Strathallan, 7 and Willie Drummond. 8 Yet these first 
anxious days were also full of proud hope at Gask, of eager 
watching for scraps of news, of exultation in the record 
of those victories which were to prove only empty and 
temporary triumphs. 

Meanwhile Lady Cask's part was that of factor over 
her husband's estates. It might have been an easy task, 
but she was harassed in her duties by the minister of 
Gask, Mr M'Leish, the venom of whose attacks was 
more felt by the family than the rancour of their enemies. 
In 1740 the laird had made a most unfortunate choice 
in electing M'Leish, against the wishes of all the 
parishioners. The objections of the people he overrode 
with a touch of that deeply-rooted feudal authority which 
was a marked characteristic of his dealings. 

" Common sense," he writes, " must tell them that it is 
madness to oppose their master and disoblige him, when 

1 Attainted and died in exile. 

2 Killed at Culloden. 3 Killed at Culloden. 

4 Afterwards Lord Dunmore. He was arraigned for high treason, was found 
guilty and respited, but kept a prisoner for life. 

5 Afterwards of Strowan. He was dispossessed of his estates, and was in exile 
thirty-one years till his death. 

6 Attainted and died in exile. 

7 Page of honour of the Prince at Holyrood. Attainted and died in exile in 

8 Exiled for many years. 


that minister, whom the Earle of Kinoul and Gask are for 
settling, will be placed here, whether they will or not." 

The prejudices of the tenants were justified, and their 
instincts proved truer than the laird's judgment. M'Leish 
was a thorn in the side of the family, to whom, in spite 
of kindness and support, he bore a deadly enmity. He 
must at the time of his appointment have successfully 
concealed the fact of his violent opposition in principle 
to the Stewart restoration, or Gask would never have 
sanctioned it. But he was a proved liar in other matters, 
and it would be easy to change his political views when 
once he had gained his post and could not be turned out. 
He ceased to pray in the church for the Oliphant family, 
an overt act of defiance, and showed a more definite 
hostility in riding to Perth to give information to the 
Government, and in using what influence he had to 
dissuade the Gask tenants from paying their rents to th< 
laird's wife. " That ingrate man's actings have tryed my 
patience more than all that has happened me," writes 
Gask. The troubles of Mrs Oliphant, set forth in her 
own writing, show that M'Leish repeated and enlarged 
upon all gossip calculated to injure her and throw her 
into discredit. In ways too petty to merit repetition, 
he harassed and annoyed the brave and gentle woman 
to whom he owed so much. He said it was against the 
law to protect a rebel lady or anything she had, and was 
sure the Duke of Cumberland would not have done it. 
At this distance of time it is impossible to read of 
M'Leish and his sayings and doings without contempt, 
yet the old laird, whom he had wronged in word and 
deed, forgave him, out of his generous heart. Writing 
years afterwards to his wife, in 1762, he says : 

" As to Mr M'Leish, I'm sorry to learn he has been so 
much distressed in his health. It will perhaps be agree- 
able to him to let him know that I do heartyly forgive 
him all the injuries he has done me undeservidly." 

Perth being now evacuated by the Jacobite garrison, 
was occupied by the troops of the Government. Early 


in February 1746 the Hanoverian soldiers descended upon 
the house of Gask, ransacking and plundering. Though 
the occurrence may have brought terror and indignation 
to the women there, it certainly brought no surprise ; 
it was a foregone conclusion that if the Jacobite army 
could not leave garrisons in every private house, the 
non-combatants in their homes must pay the penalty. 
By this time both the old laird and the young laird 
were attainted, and the estate declared forfeit. The 
grey house in its gardens lying on the hillside, defence- 
less, and in view of the valley, tempted the marauding 
troops. The laird has left a note of one loss which shows 
that it was not only private soldiers who did the looting. 

" Collonell York did in the beginning of the year 1746 
carry away from Gask a small Japan'd brown Box, with 
the coat of arms on the lidd, being gules three crescent 
argent. In which were contained ; The originall Charter 
of the Land of Gask from K. D. Bruce dated 1364. The 
patent of the Lord Oliphant; some papers dated about 
the year 1500, and my Commission from the Prince to 
be Lieutenant Collonel to the Perthshyre squadron of 

Chief among the treasures guarded by the ladies at 
Gask were the colours taken from the enemy at 
Prestonpans, sent back by Laurence Oliphant to be 
cherished in his own house after the victory. It was 
known that the colours were there, and a rigorous 
search was begun. The plenishing of the house offered 
in other ways chances to the plunderers. The soldiers, 
among other goods, got hold of the wearing apparel of 
the young laird. Miss Annie Graeme 1 of Inchbrakie 
was at the time a guest at Gask. The story of how 
this spirited young woman saved his archer's uniform is 
best told in the young laird's own letter, written thirty 
years afterwards. He had been asked to lend his old 
uniform, 2 when the Royal Company of Archers was 

1 She was born 16th February 1719, and died unmarried April 1799. 
* It was lent, but never returned. The coat is still to be seen at the Archers 
Hall, Edinburgh. 


"It is pretty odd if my coat is the only one left, 
especially as it was taken away in ye 46 by ye Duke 
of Cumberlands plunderers ; and Miss Anny Graeme 
Inchbrakie, thinking it would be regrated by me, went 
out to ye court and got it back from a soldier, insisting 
with him that it was a Lady's riding habit; but putting 
her hand to the Briches to take them too, he with a 
thundring oath asked, 'if ye Lady wore briches." 

When the alarm was given that the soldiers were 
coming, one of the servants in the house seized the 
cherished Colours and hid them in the pump. The name 
of this resourceful girl was Emily Dewar. She afterwards 
married an Italian refugee, De Maria. 1 

But even with Hanoverian soldiers quartered upon 
them, the time had not yet come when the goods and 
gear of Jacobites were fair game for any thief. The story 
of the looting of Gask House reached the ears of General 
Huske, then in command at Perth, who caused the 
following letter 2 to be sent to Amelie Oliphant: 

" PERTH, Feb. 17, 1746. 

" MADAM, General Huske being informed that an 
officer who went to your house to search for arms, papers, 
etc. had taken away some money, Linnens, and severall 
other things which belonged to you and daughter as ladys, 
the General desires you send Acct of the particulars that 
this officer had taken from you. I mean what entyrely 
belong'd to you as ladys by this express. I am Madam 
your most Obed. and humble servant, 


Lady Gask writes back the following dignified and 
temperate letter in reply: 

"SiR, Nothing but obedience to General Huske's 
orders could prevail uppon me to have mention'd these 

1 He was courier to Macgregor of Balhaldie and was obliged to leave Italy 
owing to the part he took in an insurrection. His son, Louis, held a good position 
in the Register House, Edinburgh, and was alive in 1805. There is a tradition 
that Janet Oliphant dreamt that she had been presented with two love-knots, 
one for herself and another for her maid, and the dream proved true, for the 
laird (Macgregor of Balhaldie) married the lady, and his cousin and courier 
married the maid. 

The historic colours have unfortunately disappeared. 

8 Jacobite Lairds, p. 201. 


triiles that the officer who came here had taken, and I 
realy doe not know exactly what they were, except two 
peices of coton cloth ; in one of the peices I believe there 
was ten yeards, much less in the other peice ; he demanded 
ten giunies from me to give the soldiers that were here, 
which I ingenouslie told him I had not ; one of my 
Daughters gave him a three pound 12 pice she had in 
her pocket, which was all the money he got; now, Sir, 
you will alow me to give you the trouble to thank all 
these good officers that were here, in all our Names, 
for there great civilitys to us and General Huske in 
particular for the Gaurd he was so good as place here. 
We have injoid a perfect tranquility ever since, and 
believe me we shall never be ungrateful for the favor 
which we hope by your intercession his Excelency will 
be so good as to continue." 

Authorities in Perth were still, however, not satisfied 
to allow the matter to rest. The Duke's aide-de-camp 
was three days later instructed to write again. 

"PERTH, Feb. 20, 1746. 

" MADAM, I am commanded by His Royal Highness 
to inform myself from you, whether the officer who was 
sent with a Detachment to Gask, when the Army 
march'd by, did take the money he is charged with or 
not ; whether he ever returned it, and if he did, at what 
time it was. Every Gentleman in the Army is concerned 
that any violence is ofFer'd to the Fair Sex, and it is 
absolutely contrary to His Royal Highness's intentions. 
I am Madam Your most Humble servant, 


" The Express who is order'd by H.R.H. to carry this 
to you will wait to bring back your answer." 

The lady's answer was to repeat what she had written 
before. The upshot of the matter was that the officer in 
charge of the party of men who had been at Gask lost his 

So far it seemed as if the Government intended to 
defend no lawless depredations, but the English troops, 
under General Huske, marched away northwards in 
pursuit of the Jacobite forces. In their place came 


Hessian troops under the Earl of Crauford. John 
Stewart, the Quarter-Master-General, writes 1 to Mrs 
Oliphant on 8th March as he has been asked for a 
guard for her house and family: 

" Tho I venture to pass my word it is not needfull, as 
the most absolute orders are given and will be punctually 
obeyed, not in any shape to molest any person who is not 
found in arms or acting against the Interest of His Majesty 
with the ladies especially I assure you we shall make no 
warr. ..." 

In her answer she tells how she had resolved to " take 
my hasard," but had been so insulted by the common 

" which is ina voidable, as they goe to and fro and therefore 
begs of you to send us a safe gaurd ; one that is almost 
quit useless to you will doe with us." 

On llth March Lord Crauford issued his own orders : 2 - 

" All soldiers and others under my command are herby 
strictly forbidden under pain of the severest punishment 
to molest or do the least harm to the Lady Gask, her 
Family, House, Furniture, or anything belonging unto 
her by marauding or plundring either by stealth or open 
violence any things belonging to the said House under 
what pretext soever, and that none may pretend ignorance 
I have given this order for protecting the said Lady, her 
house, and effects under my hand and seal at Perth this 
eleventh day of March 174 f, CRAUFORD." 

The German commander of the Hessian troops gave a 
protection, and Lord Albemarle also did good service in 
offering security. The Gask family had a friend and 
protector too in their kinsman and near neighbour, Lord 
Monzie. The following letter is from Mr John Graham, 
at the Royal Bank, Edinburgh, and is addressed to Lord 
Monzie, 3 22nd August 1746. 

1 Jacobite Lairds, p. 203. * Ibid. p. 204. 

1 Patrick CampbeD, second son of Anna Oliphant, daughter of Sir Laurence 
Oliphant, who married in 1672 Colin Campbell of Monzie. Patrick was admitted 
advocate 30th November 1709, and took his seat as Lord Monzie, 10th June 


"MY LORD, Mr Campbell yesterday put in my 
hands a letter of your Lordships desiring me to speak 
with Laurie Dundas and inform what orders and instruc- 
tions he has about forage etc. belonging to Rebels ; he 
came to town last night with Lord Albermarle. I saw 
him this morning ... he says he has no directions from 
the Duke nor any of the Generals to seize anything, 
and is very positive that none of them will for the future 
give directions to seize anything, but allow the Law to 
take place. . . . As for the Hay taken at Williamston he 
says it was by Brigadier Mordaunt's order who had been 
told that if he did not give orders about it, it would be 
lost for that nobody would cut it down or take any care 
of it. . . . When the army went first to Perth he had 
the D. of Cumberland's order to take into the magazine 
and keep an exact account of all forage . . . seized from 
those in the Rebellion for which the Duke told him he 
was to account, . . . the money still lys in his hands pay- 
able to who shall have right, Creditors or the Crown. . . . 
Williamston Hay was weighed over to the clerk of the 
magazine at the sight of the people at Williamston. . . . 
Upon the whole I see no danger to the Tennant to hinder 
his cutting down and gathering in the corn as usual." 

From the glory of Prestonpans to the consternation 
of the retreat from Derby, from the brief revival of hope 
in the victory of Falkirk to the dark hour of Culloden, 
Amelie and her girls went through all the alternations 
that make up the story of that year, enduring a double 
suffering in the wreck of the Cause and the peril of those 
dearest to them. As the long winter went by, now and 
again scraps of news would reach them from the Jacobite 
forces in their northern retreat, but all communication 
was stealthy, and often dangerous. Within the memory 
of the present generation there were Gask tenants who 
boasted of how their grandfathers, at the risk of life 
and liberty, carried letters in their shoes between the 
laird and the anxious lady at home. There were 
anxieties nearer home too. Lady Strathallan had aided 

1727. He died 1st August 1751, aged seventy-six. He was succeeded in the 
estate of Monzie by his only son, Patrick. Lord Monzie staunchly befriended his 
cousins the Oliphants of Gask. 


the Duchess of Perth in raising men for the Prince. 
The Duke of Cumberland 1 wrote to the Duke of 
Newcastle from Crieff, 5th February 1745 : 

"The old Lady Perth 2 and her daughter are left at 
Drummond Castle, and I have let them know they had 
best write to Lord Perth to release all our officers and 
soldiers who are prisoners at present, else I shall burn 
and destroy the Castle immediately, and I have ordered 
a subaltern and 22 Dragoons to remain with her till 
answer comes to her letter. 

" I hope His Majesty will approve this proceeding of 
mine, but I thought it a pity to let this troublesome old 
woman escape without making some use of her." 

Both she and Margaret Strathallan were seized on 
llth February and shut up in a small unhealthy room 
in Edinburgh Castle. Lady Catherine Stewart mentions 
in a letter, dated 31st October 1746, that she went up to 
the Castle to keep Hallow Even with Lady Strathallan 
in prison. While still there, away from her children and 
all those who could comfort her, Margaret must have 
received the news of her husband's and brother's death 
at Culloden. She was not liberated till November. 
The sacking of her house was done at the same time 
as her sister's home at Gask, when the house of Garvock 
was also looted. 

" The parties spared not the body cloathes of the ladies 
and they destroyed such provisions as they could not 
either consume or carry off with them, breaking the 
bottles and other vessels full of liquor, as if they intended 
that the poor ladies their children and servants should 
be all starved to death for want of cloathes meat and 
drink. Party after party came to the said houses and 
took away such gleanings as had not been observed by 
the former party, or any small stock of provisions the 
ladies had procured after the first rummaging bout." 8 

Nairne House was plundered with the rest. Lord 

1 History of the Eleventh Hussars, p. 38. 

2 This was Jean Gordon, only daughter of the first Duke of Gordon, and 
widow of the second Duke of Perth, born circa 1683, died 1773. 

3 Letter in the Appendix to Brown's Hist, of the Highlands, 5th February 1751- 


Nairne wrote years later to the Chevalier about his 
wife and children : 

"They stayed in Scotland until all the money they 
could get for any little plate or moveables the troops 
had left, after plundering my house, were exhausted, 
and in their plundering they went so nearly to work 
that they even took Lady Nairne's watch and clothes." 

Then with the news of Culloden the last blow fell. 
Till then, all had been bearable, for hope lit the way ; 
but now stark disaster and ruin had fallen upon the 
Cause, and the Jacobite adherents stood face to face with 
abject poverty, homelessness, and outlawry. Culloden 
defines sharply the great change in countless families 
from fortune to direst distress. To none was the contrast 
more marked, the fall more stunning, than in the case of 
the Oliphants of Gask. 



FATHER and son had, as we have seen, ridden away 
northwards with the Prince's army early in February. 
The old laird continues his accounts as treasurer, and 
through these it is possible to catch glimpses of him 
on his way, but no journal or account was left by 
either of the Oliphants of the northward march, nor 
any description of the battle of Culloden. A single 
sentence, in a retrospective sketch of the younger 
Laurence, gives the only indication that both father 
and son fought there. 

It is possible to form an idea of what the winter was 
like at Inverness. The months that were dreary to non- 
combatants at home, anxiously awaiting events, were full 
of hope and enterprise for the leaders of the army. The 
clansmen also were happy in the prospect of battle before 
long, and solaced, meanwhile, with a series of brilliant 
sorties and forays. The Prince was among them, a daily 
inspiration, a visible reason for all that was endured. The 
city had fallen easily into the hands of Charles Edward, 
who in the few weeks between 20th February and 10th 
April experienced perhaps the happiest time he was ever 
destined to know. He seemed in a little kingdom of his 
own. Everything was of the simplest, and life reduced to 
almost primitive conditions. There was no road within 
forty miles of Inverness, and all round him the country 
was in the hands of Jacobites. A hundred miles to the 
south practically every man was in sympathy with the 
Cause. There were gaieties at Inverness, balls at which 



the Prince himself danced. His naturally high spirits 
found an outlet in such simple social gatherings as were 
possible. But sad news reached him there, the definite 
decision that France would not help him either with 
men or money. Yet to maintain the war was still 
fixedly the purpose of the Prince and his generals, and 
while that purpose remained, there was always eagerness, 
excitement, and enthusiasm. 

But round his little kingdom at Inverness were slowly 
closing, from north and south, the powers which were 
to crush him. Cumberland waited at Aberdeen for the 
slow late spring to melt the snow from the hills and 
make the country possible for the advance of his force. 
Then it was inevitable that a battle must be fought, 
and that it must be decisive. 

Young Laurence Oliphant, the aide-de-camp, was 
doubtless at the side of his Prince when, with colours 
flying and pipes playing their wild acclaim, he led his 
little army from Inverness to Culloden, and beyond to 
Drummossie Moor. Perhaps he stood with him on the 
rising ground in the rear of the clansmen, watching the 
gathering troops of Cumberland take battle array, and 
rode with him along the Scottish lines to inspire and 
encourage the hungry but eager fighters, before the 
fray began. 

Little is known of what individual part the two 
Oliphants played at Culloden. Young Laurence's posi- 
tion as aide-de-camp would cause him to see the fight 
from a different point to his father, who was with his 
own regiment of Perthshire Horse. This squadron, 
numbering seventy men, was posted on the right of 
the second line, in the rear of Atholl's brigade. When 
the Colonel of the regiment, Lord Strathallan, 1 was 

1 Lord Strathallan fell, mortally wounded, but not instantly killed. He 
received communion from a Catholic priest who was on the field. There were 
no elements at hand, but the priest hastily procured oatmeal and water from 
a neighbouring cottage, and administered the last rites. This is the story as 
told in Chambers' History of the Rebellion, but it presents points difficult 
of comprehension. There were certainly four Catholic priests at the battle of 
Culloden. All suffered afterwards in some form for their allegiance to the 
Jacobite Cause. But Lord Strathallan was not a Catholic, and under no 


killed, Cask, being Lieutenant- Colonel, must have taken 
control and brought the squadron out of action when 
defeat was clear. 

" It kept its ranks well and was most useful, in common 
with the rest of the Lowland Horse, in checking 
Cumberland's pursuit." * 

The main body was brought off with little loss after 
leaving the field. 

A man Moncrieff, an excise officer, in Perth, whom 
in distress the old laird befriended two years later, had 
joined the Perthshire Horse on its retreat to the north, and 
fought at Culloden. The young laird told his father : 

" I took the standard from one of the squadron whom 
I mett as he was goeing back to the field of Battle, and 
think it was from Mr Moncrieff." 

This statement gives the only glimpse of young 
Laurence on that great and disastrous day. It is known, 
however, that he lingered with the Prince, his master, 
late on the field, after all hope was over, and perhaps 
joined his entreaties with those of other friends, to induce 
the stunned and despairing Charles to quit the scene. 
Nothing the Oliphants have left in writing gives any 
indication that they witnessed the cruel and barbarous 
end of the day the flying fugitives cut down, the 
wounded murdered all the thousand horrible details 
which marked Cumberland's triumph, and have made 
his lasting disgrace. If they were witnesses of these 
things, they drew close a veil of silence. 

Family memoirs present a moving picture of the 
miseries endured by the two Oliphants during the next 
six months, which were spent in hiding among the hills. 
The later years passed in dependence on foreign princes 
and in the restlessness of exile were, however, bitterer 
far to the two soldiers than those few months of danger, 

circumstances could a Catholic priest administer the Viaticum to any one 
outside the Church. It is far more propable that he received the last rites 
from one of the Scottish Episcopal clergy. See an interesting article by the 
Rev. Father Macdonell in the publication " Au Deo-Greine." 
1 Jacobite Lairds, p. 135. 


and sometimes of want, among the glens of their own 
country. This is made very plain by a few sentences 
out of the young laird's journal, which, though written 
years afterwards, must be accepted as setting forth the 
true state of the case. The young laird, now an old 
man, is remembering all the mercies of God, and in his 
simple fashion recording his gratitude. 1 

" In the Rout at Culloden I met my Father when 
least expected, eight months we wandered. I was often 
distressed, yet had my kind Father for a support and 

" We were cherished in distress ; though hunted after 
yet the fears of imprisonment or Death never broak our 
balmy rest. In our situation we enjoyed remarkable 
Repose. My Malady increased. I thought more upon 
my ways, and we were wafted to a land of safety. 

" The Deep raged, but did not preveal against us." 

From the scraps of information available, it would 
seem that Gask and his son went first to Moy, eight miles 
south of Inverness. There they would find temporary 
shelter with Lady M'Intosh, the heroic woman who 
had raised a clan for the Prince. The Oliphants' stay 
must have been brief, and the departure hurried, as 
he left a note of things left there, and in other hiding- 
places : 

" My little clog - bag at Lady M'Intoshe's at Moy, 
my silver hilted Broad Sword at Borlom M'Intoshe's at 
Reats ; my other Broad Sword at Alexander Winter's 
at Bredowny in Clova, which is krooked. Deliver'd to 
Mrs Gordon at Birkhall : A sute of Hyland Cloaths and 
Phylibeg. A coarse night-gown, a Buff coloured Weast- 
coat. A brown Weastcoat with gold buttons. A pair 
red everlasting britches. Two pair Pistolls, a shabble 
with hart-horn hilt mounted with silver, a Hatt with the 
gold traceing that was upon it, a pair silver buckles ; All 
left with her in a cloch-bag. And a Mear (light brown) 
with a bell in his face which the Lady said she sent to 

1 The writer omits the religious ejaculations which follow almost every entry, 
"O my soul Bliss Bliss the Lord, Praise him and magnefie him for ever." 


Mr Forbes of Balfor, and that he would not return it to 
her when sent for, 1 and a silver watch sett on dimonds 
sent to Aberdeen to mend." 

The pair seemed to have hidden for some time near 
Birkhall. On 18th July the young laird sent a letter 2 
to his sister at Gask. 

" We still keep our healths very well ; both your 
letters came safe to hand. I have very little worth writing 
to you. We have still thoughts of going from this 
country, so you will not be uneasy, though you should 
be longer of hearing from us than ordinary ; but where 
ever we go, you shall hear from us as soon as we can." 
On 20th July he adds : "A party that we were afraid of 
is gone bake to Mac yesterday, so I hope we will get 
leave to stay here some days in peace." 

On the same piece of paper is copied in Margaret's 
handwriting. On 15th August 

"some Privateers arived in Nates (?) as well as at 
St Malo, the Captains of which declare that they had 
been out as farr as the Western Isles of Scotlan where 
they learned that Prince Edward was not only in that 
Kingdom, but that far from seizing the opportunity he 
had to get off he had run through most of the said 
islands in hopes of finding partizans therein and then 
returned into the mountains of Lochaber. His brother, 
Prince Henry, is still at the castle of Navarre, a country 
seat belonging to the Duke of Bouillon." 

The father and son were at one time at Glenisla in 
the Ogilvy country, but more exact knowledge of their 
hiding-places is not available. It was at this time that 
each assumed a new name, the elder Oliphant became 
" Mr Whytt," and his son " Mr Brown," and this disguise 
was used for twenty years. Most of their friends were 

1 Mrs Gordon wrote a long letter to Mrs Oliphant at Gask (after the two 
Oliphants had left the country), who had written asking for this mare, telling 
how it had been carried off. She mentions a silver snuff-box which the old laird 
gave her "as a memorandum off him." Jacobite Lairds, p. 210. 

2 Part of this letter is given in the Jacobite Lairds, p. 189. 


driven to the same necessity. 1 One faithful follower 
from Gask went with them in their wanderings David 
Buchan, who belonged to the old order of feudal retainer, 
taught by hereditary tradition unquestioning devotion 
to the family he served. From one Highland fastness 
to another, among the wild hiding-places of Aberdeen- 
shire he toiled, doing his best to lighten the hardships 
of that retreat. 

Once the little party were so hard pressed by a band 
of the Government soldiers, that David was near enough 
to hear one trooper say to another, " There's Oliphant." 
While his companion paused to ask at which man he 
should level his musket, David contrived to offer him 
a gold piece, which was accepted, and the shot was not 
fired. The homely talk of this servant and friend gives 
the only personal glimpses of the two Oliphants in their 
wanderings. The following, as a story, little merits 
repetition, but there is something in the clear simplicity 
of his joy in service that should find its record here : 

" We came late one night to an inn. My Master 
always ordered a bottle of wine for the good of the house, 
but never had more than two glasses of it, and I took 
none. I went to see if his bed was free from damp, as 
he was ill. Our landlord was crusty, and said they had 
no warming pan. I found another inn, and tried to 
borrow a warming pan. I got one at the Manse, and 
filled it with cinders. If ever my master had a comfort- 
able bed, it was that night." 2 

"Oliphant is King to us," was the watchword of 
David Buchan and his family. 

The estates of forty-three Jacobites had been declared 
forfeit by the Government, and Oliphant was thus deprived 
of every acre of land in Scotland. He and his son were 
attainted of high treason, in having taken up arms on or 
before 18th April 1746. Some suggestion had been made 

1 Inchbrakie became "Black Pate/' Robertson of Strowan "Lindsay," 
Oliphant of Condie "Symon," Graeme of Garvock "Glaud," Lord George 
Murray, " Kateson/' the Prince himself, " John Douglas." The Drummonds of 
Strathallan sometimes signed themselves Campbell. Mrs Oliphant of Gask 
signed herself " Sophia Murray." 

a The circumstance was first told in the memoirs of Lady Nairne. 



of which the details are not now available by which 
a possibility was offered to the old laird of saving the 
cherished lands of Cask. His wife had contrived in 
September to get this proposal conveyed to him. His 
reply is here given, 1 embodying as it does his whole 
attitude towards life: 

" MRS SOPHIA, After thinking a little about the 
writing of the papers, I have come to a fixed resolution 
of not signing them ; if I should be robbed of my all, I'll 
never give a lie under my Hand. It, however, does not 
a little vex me that you and the girls should share in th( 
misfortunes of the Times. I am Your most sincere 

" You'll know the Hand and Seal. 

" Mr Brown is vastly better, since we came to our nei 
quarters and I hope we shall be able to keep them foi 
some time. 

" To Mrs Sophia Murray." 

Lady Cask, who was henceforth to be known as 
" Sophia Murray," managed with her usual cleverness to 
get an interview with her husband and son, a few days 
before they sailed away from Scotland. The time anc 
place will never be known. Into the hurried secrecy oi 
that interview, what confidence, what explanations, what 
plans, what expressions of love and pity were crowded 
Husband and wife were not to meet again for two years. 
All the mirror of life lay shattered before them, and they 
could form no idea what kind of existence could possibly 
be shaped out of the fragments. Though they may still 
have cherished hope, still imagined that the dead ashes 
could be blown to flame again, it was a dark hour. 

The main result of the seven months wandering on 
the delicate constitution of the boy of twenty-one was 
ill-health that lasted his whole life. In everything he 
did or attempted from this time his health had to be 
made the first consideration. No hero of the '45 endured 
a more lasting misfortune than befel young Laurence. 

At last came the chance of escape from Scotland. 

1 Jacobite Lairds, p. 199. 


"The Oliphants," writes Albemarle to the Duke of 
Newcastle, " went from Arbroath in small boats on board 
a Danish ship and each paid 15 for their passage. But 
where bound is unknown to the informer, this might 
have been prevented if the officers of the Revenue had 
done their duty, who never acquainted their Principals 
with it, but no better can be expected from them, as 
most of them are Jacobites." 

It was on 5th November that the old and young laird 
took ship for Sweden, and sailed away from the land they 
were not to see again for seventeen years. A little 
gathering of exiles and near relations watched with them 
the shores of Scotland sink. Lord Nairne, his son Harie, 1 
Willy Drummond, and Robert Graeme of Garvock were 
on board the same ship, and all landed at Maisterland on 
10th November. From this date the old laird began a 
journal in which he sets down every remarkable sight he 
saw. A single extract 2 will give an idea of the nature 
and scope of this work : 

" On the 14th, to Gothenburg, being the second town 
in Sweden. The Garison is said to consist of fifteen 
hunder men. . . . The Swedes are in church from eight 
to ten in the morning, and goe to the afternoon's service 
at one. This is over by three in the afternoon, and thers 
no more of Sunday either in Town or Country, and the 
people fall to working, danceing or any other divertion. ... 
All the Gentlemen wear swords or hangers, as doe some 
Merchants, Physicians and Surgeons. The Boors are 
mostly strong, tall men, their Cloaths of a dark hodden 
grey, made much like to the Quakers coats; they are 
continually smoking of Tobacco when at work, and that 
in the hottest days . . . The Ladys have their heads and 
hair much after the British way. When you'r introduced 
to them, they never salute you by giveing you a kiss, and 
this is also the practice in Germany. The countrey 
women thresh the grain, work on the Highways (which 
are extremely good all over Sweden) and sometimes hold 
the Plow. . . . Caperkellies are frequently sold in mercat, 
and there is a bird called Yerpas about the size of a 

1 Henry Nairne, born 1727- 

2 Long extracts from this journal are given in the Jacobite Lairds. 


partridge, which are kill'd in Oct. sunk underground 
with their fethers which are dug up in Feb. and eaten at 
Stockholm and Gothenburg. . . . The Inhabitants have a 
particular care of Magpies, as they never suffer to kill any 
of them. They will not touch a man that has made away 
with himself, nor any creature that dyes ; they ly exposed 
to the air till the Hangman is sent for to bury them." 

Young Laurence had a severe illness while at 
Gothenburg. He was taken ill on 23rd December, 
and the doctor was in constant attendance till early in 
February. The New Year brought troubles and vexa- 
tions of another kind. Gask was obliged to pocket his 
pride and ask for money from the French Ambassador 1 
at Stockholm. 

"As I was attainted by Parliament, and had nrj 
Estate of about a thousand pounds ster. pr. annum 
seised and my Home plundered and I obliged to leave 
my countrey in disguise, your Excellency will judge I 
could bring but little money along, haveing lurked in 
the hills of Scotland from the fatal! Battle of Culloden 
the 16 Apr. 1746 to ye end of October. 1 hope your 
Excellence will think fitt to allow me what sum you shall 
judge proper to carry me and my son to Paris with a 
guide. As I find the distance much the same to Rome, 
1 wish to goe there first to see my King having had the 
honour to be with him at Perth in the year 1715 ; but I 
leave it to your Excellence to determine me in the rout 
I shall take ; you'l be so good to give me a Pass for 
myself, my son, and a Guide." 

The Ambassador wrote to refuse the help asked, and 
deeply wounded Oliphant by quoting an extraordinary 
statement that Oliphant was in correspondence with the 
authorities at Copenhagen to make his peace with King 
George : 

" My enemies," wrote Gask, " might have been satiated 
when they Forfeited my Life and Estate, without wound- 
ing my Honour, which I esteem dearer to me than both 
the former." 

The lie was traced to a Doctor Blacvel, then a prisoner 

1 Marquis de Laumary. This letter is given in the Jacobite Lairds, p. 216. 


at Stockholm. Why he should have invented the story 
does not appear, but he admitted the falsehood. " My 
honour has been blasted by your lyes," wrote Cask. 

The Ambassador, convinced at last, gave the required 
assistance, and Gask and his son, under the name of 
Glandine, set forth on their further travels. Their con- 
veyance was a Berline, holding four persons inside. Two 
servants, Jean and Louis, went with them. They were in 
Berlin in July, and by the end of August reached Paris. 

Charles Edward was at St Ouen at the time, and on 
the third day after the Oliphant's arrival in Paris, father 
and son went thither to see their Prince. The old laird 
in his journal makes the brief entry, 

" Sept. 7th. Went to St Oyne, waited on the Prince, 
and dined with his Royal Highness." 

It must surely have been the saddest little party 
that ever gathered round a royal table. They had 
not met since Culloden, and now they were face to 
face again in a strange land, under the shadow of that 
tragic day, broken men, ruined, hunted, exiled. The 
Prince had endured, and was enduring, one of the heaviest 
sorrows of his sorrowful life. He was bearing, as best he 
might, the desertion of his brother Henry, and facing, all 
through the long months, blow after blow as it fell in 
the news of the trials and pitiless execution in Britain 
of so many of his loyal followers. Death and destruction 
had everywhere followed the progress of his enterprise, 
and now the men who surrounded him were those whose 
energies had been spent in his cause, beggared in all but 
honour, with lives torn from the roots, careers destroyed, 
ambitions lost. So among the little group of exiles the 
Oliphants came to him whom they loved and served, 
bringing the treasure of humble hearts that had no longer 
arms and men and fortune to offer the clasp of hands 
that could no longer draw the sword in his quarrel. As 
they spoke, perhaps of other things, in the ears of young 
Laurence must have sounded the echo of the last words 
he had heard his Prince say on the lost field of Culloden ; 


" No help for it. God is all powerful, who can give 
us the victory another day." ] 

Perhaps Charles, whose soaring temperament was as 
yet very far from yielding to despair, was able to kindle 
in these hearts some flame of hope, leading the talk 
forward to possibilities of a future attempt to win his 
throne. How otherwise could the exiles and their 
defeated Chief have spoken any words at all, out of 
their sorrow and their pity? 

A pathetic little group of Stewart adherents rallied 
in and about Paris, to be near their young Chief names 
of honour and renown never to be forgotten. The gentle 
Lochiel a was there, then nearly at the end of his days ; 
Lord Nairne, Lord Ogilvie, Gordon of Glenbucket, Lord 
Lewis Gordon, Maxwell of Kirkconnel, among others. 
For the most part these men were penniless, except 
for the support of the French Government which, while 
steadily refusing Charles any help in men and arms, 
apportioned 34,000 livres among the Jacobite officers. 
The Prince did what he could to help them, but all 
were in truth dependent on the charity of the French 
court a bitter position for men whose independence had 
been an honoured point of pride all their lives. While 
France and England drew daily nearer to the peace that 
was to sound the passing bell of all Jacobite hopes, and 
news from home showed that the Highlands were daily 
becoming more completely disarmed, the spirit of the 
young Chief never sank, his vigour never abated ; not 
only was he still the centre of a loyal host, but his 
invincible charm secured for him the adulation of the 
people of Paris. 

" He now became an object of even more attraction 
than the King himself. Whenever he appeared upon the 
public walks the whole company followed him. When 
he entered the theatre he became the sole spectacle of 

1 The record of this is a scrap of paper in the Gask charter chest in the 
writing of Margaret Oliphant, headed " P. to L. O. the 16th of Aprill 1746." 

2 The Lochiels, father and son, died in 1748, in consequence of all they had 
undergone in the '45. The father died first. The son had been desperately 
wounded at Culloden, and died of brain fever at Borgne, 26th October. 


the place. On all occasions he seemed the only person 
who was insensible to the sorrows of his fate ; ... no 
one could speak of him without admiration, and some 
could not behold him without tears." 1 

In the spring of 1748 the dreaded peace really came, 
and the Treaty of Aix was accepted, with its stipu- 
lation that Louis XV. should no longer shelter Prince 
Charles. His arrest, imprisonment, and banishment 
occurred while the two Oliphants were at Avignon, 
whither they had journeyed on llth December. 
Laurence Oliphant's journal contains no word of the 
Prince's arrival at Avignon, and only one letter touches 
on his stay in that city, though they were there during all 
the two months that Charles remained. Then followed 
the year of his disappearance. 

On 7th April the Oliphants heard the report, un- 
founded as it proved, that the Prince was married in 
Poland to the daughter of Prince Radzevill. The old 
laird evidently wrote to Kelly, the Prince's secretary, 
to ask for information on the point, and received the 
following letter from Mr George Kelly, Avignon: 

" 27th April 1749. A Monsieur Oliphant de Gask, 
gentilhomme Ecossois a Toulouse. 

" SIR, I am sorry I can give you no satisfactory 
account of the Prince's journey or marriage, for we are 
as great strangers to both as you are ; 'tis true the report 
of the latter was confidently given out at Paris, but that 
was founded upon some letters from England, and has 
been droped for some time without adopting any other 
in its place, but the truth is that nobody knows either 
the place to which he is gone or his business; we now 
begin to be in pain for him, but hope that will soon 
be made easy by having news of him when he returns. 
I will not fail laying your former letters before him and 
informing you of H.KH.'s answer. My kind com- 
plements to Mrs Oliphant conclude with sincere esteem, 

That by July his friends knew of the Prince's 

1 Chambers' History of the Rebellion, chap. xxx. 


whereabouts, is proved by the following letter from 
Laurence Oliphant to Mr Bryce, 7th July 1749 : 

" SIR, I had yours of the 24th of June and it gave 
me and my son much pleasure to know that the Prince 
was well, chearfull and hearty when you saw him the 
23rd. ... I congratulate his Lordship (Nairne) upon his 
sister's 1 marriage, and am fond to hear that my Lady 
Nairne and her daughter are well." 

At home in Perthshire there was little cheering news 
to send the exiles. Ame'lie Oliphant and her daughters 
were at home at Cask, but dispossessed by the Govern- 
ment of the income of the estate, and striving with scanty 
means of living, against the vicious enmity of M'Leish. 
It can only be conjectured that the families of the attainted 
Jacobites must have helped each other with money and 
supplies as occasion offered ; yet Ame'lie managed now 
and again to send small sums of money to France. 

At the end of 1747, while the exiles were at Avignon, 
a heavy bereavement fell upon those families most 
intimately connected with the movement. Margaret, 
Lady Nairne, died at Nairne House. She was old, and 
had at the close of her life seen so much sorrow that 
though her heroic spirit could never sink, her frame could 
physically bear no more. Culloden had rent to pieces 
her hopes and destroyed her family. She saw her eldest 
son pass into exile ; she knew of Robert's death on 
the field ; she saw her daughter, Margaret Strathallan, 
widowed in the same catastrophe, and Ame'lie Oliphant 
bereft of husband and son. She saw her daughters, wife of 
Robertson of Strowan, the widow of Robertson of Lude, 
and Catherine, wife of William Murray 2 of Taymount, 
fugitives from the law, swallowed up in the general con- 
fusion of ruined lives and broken fortunes. No more 
tragic figure than that of Margaret Nairne stands out on 

1 Louisa Nairne married David Graeme of Orchill 1748. 

2 William Murray of Taymont took no leading part in the rising, but served 
as a volunteer, surrendered, was tried, and pleaded guilty. His life was spared, 
and he was allowed to succeed to the title and estates of his brother, the second 
Earl of Dunmore in 1752. But he was kept a prisoner in England for the rest of 
his life, and died at Lincoln 1756. 


this page of history. All her life had been one long self- 
surrender, offered in absolute faith, in unquenchable 
steadfastness, and she died with nothing realised, nothing 
achieved, at the lowest ebb of the fortunes of the cause 
that she held most sacred. 

Laurence Oliphant writes 1 on 1st January from 
France to his wife about the death of this heroic mother : 

" You'r not to lament it, as she is happy, free of the 
solicitous cares of this worthless world, and I believe now 
knows the events that are to happen to our countrey and 
what regards it, which I pray God may be, and they will 
be, suitable to his Infinite Goodness." 

Yet all her children must have lamented her with 
passionate regret when, in reviewing all the aims and 
efforts of her life, they recognised that in the end she 
had seen defeat. At the heart of the movement were 
hundreds of spirits like hers, whose devotion to the 
Stewarts was something apart from worldly interests, not a 
political creed, but a religious duty. The cause had been 
so linked with religious life that the adherents claimed an 
immortality even for the struggle. 2 A faith which always 
saw the sympathies of the Almighty definitely ranged on 
the side of the Stewarts, could easily pierce the veil and 
feel it to be natural that the clans should muster again in 
immortal fields, and see their loyal dead in imagination 
still supporting the cause, not only by their intercessions 
but by their swords. Even at this distance of time, when 
all the Stewart attempts are seen in their true proportion, 
and all the brave stirring hearts have so long been still, 
thought follows Margaret Nairne to a life that includes 
sacrifice and strenuous effort a life where the Jacobite 
sons of Scotland, those of her blood and of her faith, 
rally round her in some sphere where the old defeats are 
explained and the old losses made good. 

1 Jacobite Lairds, p. 230. 

2 " O hold me not, dear Mother Earth, 
But raise me with the Duke of Perth 
With many another loyal lad, 
To wear again the white cockade " 
is an inscription on the tomb of a soldier at Cumbernauld. 



" WE met with friendship and support in foreign lands," 
wrote the young laird in November 1749 in his journal, 
" and my Mother with pain and labour supplied us from 
home. We traveled and saw diverse countries. Exile 
and proscription sat easy on us and we were plentifully 
suplyed with Bread. My health recovered greatly, and 
my Mother and sister Janet came to add to our comfort." 

Sir John Graeme, the Jacobite agent, wanted young 
Laurence to go into the French service : " I cannot 
bring myself to agree to it," his father wrote. The 
same letter l shows that the Oliphant family was among 
those for whom the court of France had not provided. 2 

Long before the ladies at Gask made out their journey, 
there had been plans and counterplans for the reuniting 
of the family in France. The old laird wrote : 

"French and English privateers are much on the 
catch, and show no civility even to ladies ; and French 
and German hussars very little regard even passes from 
their own generals." 

Perhaps Ame'lie and her daughters would have risked 
all, but other events happened, and Margaret was destined 
never to make the journey, for in June 1748 she was 

1 Jacobite Lairds, p. 238. 

2 Ultimately the English Government gave Amelie Oliphant, who was 
described as " an object of uncommon distress " a grant of forty thousand marks, 
in consideration of her heavy losses. It was obtained through the indefatigable 
exertions of her nephew, Henry Drummond, the Banker, and his interest with 
the Duke of Grafton and Mr Bradshaw of the Treasury. 



married to Patrick Graeme of Inchbrakie, and Janet 
and the mother alone set off from Gask. 

The father and son spent nearly the whole year 1748, 
and most of the following, in travelling about to different 
towns in France, and the old laird continued his diary, 
steadily reporting everything that struck him as strange 
or wonderful. In June they arrived at Villeneuve, St 
George, where they stayed in " Earle of Nairne's l hyred 
house " on the Seine. The seven leagues of the Forest 
of Snarre were near enough to afford pleasure for walk- 
ing, and also for the sport of hunting the red deer. On 
the 10th of August befel an adventure 2 which the old 
laird reports at length : 

" Lord Nairne my Son and I gote hyred hunters from 
Paris, rode up to the Forrest of Snarre about twelve, saw 
the King, 3 the Dauphin 4 and Dauphiness,* the eldest 
Mademoiselle 8 (marryed to Don Philip of Spain) and 
other three Madams 7 of France, come up in coaches. 
The King, Dauphin and his Madames took horses, and 
the rest of the Ladys hunting coaches ; there were many 
persons of distinction, both rideing and in coaches. We 
had a fine occasion of seeing all the Royal family, as 
they stopt a good time before they knew where to follow 
the game. Lord Nairne and I followed the Chace for 
some hours, but my Son keept in with it till a Hart 
was killed ; and in the returning, after leaveing the 
Forrest, he gote a fall from his Horse, which gave such 
a concussion in the head, that he appear'd almost Dead. 
He happened to give a Cry in the fall, which made the 
King turn about and order care to be taken of him, 
and the Infanta and Mesdames gave spirits to be poured 
on his head and breast. We had gone down to Monseron 
where the King etc. were to take coach, and heard Him 

1 The titular King James III. had created his father Earl of Nairne in 1721. 

2 Jacobite Lairds, p. 244. 
s Louis XV. 

4 Louis, only son of Louis XV., born 1728. 

5 The Dauphin's second wife, Maria Josepha of Saxony. 

8 Louise Elisabeth de France, eldest daughter of Louis XV., born 1727, when 
her father was sixteen. She died of smallpox, 4th December 1759. 

7 Henriette, twin to the above, born 1727, died 17*52 unmarried ; Adelaide, 
born 1732; Victoire, born 1733. The other daughters of Louis XV. were 
Sophie, born 1734, and Louise, born 1737. 


tell some of the Dukes that were waiting him there, 
that a stranger Gentleman had gote a fall, and order 
his Surgeon to go and attend him. My Lord and I 
immediately took horse and gallop'd up to the place 
where he was lying, and the King's Surgeon being there, 
he let him blood in the arm plentifully. One of the 
King's coaches was waiting to carry him from the place, 
but my Post Chease comeing up, I gote him into it 
and carryed him to Villeneuve St George. He had not 
recovered his senses all the time, so much as to know me, 
was carried up to his room and put to bed. He recovered 
his senses next morning, and was blooded in the foot. 
The King sent his Surgeon three times to wait on him 
(who found no fracture or bruse in his head) and the 
Madames sent a Page twice to ask about him. About 
eight days after, his head was quite free of pain and 

" On Sept. 19th the Earle of Nairne and my Soi 
were introduced to the King by Marishal the Duke oi 
Richelieu, to thank his Majesty for his great goodness 
to my son, when he gote the Fall from his Horse in 
the Forrest of Snarre." 

A few days after this entry on 30th September he 
writes : 1 

" On this day, being Saturday my wife and secom 
daughter Janet arrived at Villeneuve St George before 
noon. They had left their own house of Gask July 13th ; 
stay'd at Edinburgh to Aug. 1st when they sett out 
for London, stopt at Lincoln four nights with Mrs 
Murray, and gote to London the 15th August, from 
which they sett out the 23rd Sept. and were at Paris 
the 29th. They had nothing remarkable in their journey, 
but that crossing the Humber at night about seven, the 
Boatmen went off in their Yoal, leaving the two Lady's 
alone to the care of two Boys, who did not bring them 
to land at Barton till ten. And in crossing from Dover 
to Calais, the Wind being high and contrary, they were 
forced to take a Yoal and landed five miles from Calais, 
which they were obliged to walk that night, thro sands 
and several little burns, which they waded thro ; they 

1 Jacobite Lairds, p. 247. 

XI.j IN PARIS 221 

had been all wett with the sea water they gote in the 
Yoal. They came here with Lord Strathallan." 

It is easy to picture! the family meeting, the joy, the 
eager talk, but not so easy to form an idea of what the 
new life in strange surroundings meant to the two 
Scottish ladies, taken away from all the simple interests 
that had made their happiness. Yet, though strangers 
in a strange land, they were at last reunited, after two 
dangerous and difficult years, to the father and son for 
whose welfare they had endured so many anxieties. The 
family remained in the Nairne's house till early in January 
1750, when they set out for Paris, Amelie and Janet 
in a post-chaise, and the men on horseback. They found 
a lodging in the Rue Vaugirard. 

The old laird was happier in Paris than anywhere 
else in France. His tastes were those of an antiquary 
and genealogist. He frequented the Scots College, and 
took copies of numerous ancient charters there. The 
Scots College was a rallying point of all Scotsmen, and 
especially of the exiled Jacobites. The good Fathers 
made all comers welcome. 

In February the Oliphants left the Rue Vaugirard 
and took a house at Versailles. 

" We hyred a house of five rooms and a kitchen, but 
were obliged to buy furniture for it. We paid 240 Livres 
per Ann." 

From the following letter can be gathered a little 
family news, as well as news of the Prince's affairs : 

" From W. Fleetwood at Rome, I4>th April 1750 to 
Laurence Oliphant at Versailles. 

SiR, Give me leave to congratulate you with sincerity 
upon your sons happy recovery, if you knew how great 
a value (I may say tenderness and affection) 1 have for 
him and the rest of your good family (tho. unknown) you 
would easily imagine the pleasure I received by your 
last. . . . When I first came here, I was in hopes ot 
having presently some news to entertain my friends with 
but was vastly mistaken : the Prince's name has not once 


been mentioned at the King's table since he left France, 
all we know of him is, that hes in good health and some 
of his friends here in great spirits. Sir Hector Maclean 1 
and two of the Highland chiefs arrived here last week 
but upon what account is not known. ..." 

Amelie Oliphant spent only seven months with 
husband and children in France. Having an idea that 
all was not lost in Scotland, as far as family fortunes 
were concerned, she felt that by her presence at home 
she could best serve their interests. Another reason for 
her return was that Margaret Graeme was expecting her 
first child, and to be with her at Inchbrakie the mother 
was willing to undertake the manifold fatigues and dis- 
comforts of the long journey, with neither husband or 
child beside her. The following is the letter Amelie 
writes to her husband to announce her safe arrival. It 
is dated 9th June 1750, and addressed to " John Whyt " 
at Versailles : 

" MY DEAR SIR, I have the pleasure to tell you I 
arrived safe here on the 7th and found Megie as well as 
can be expected. 2 ... I cannot express to you the 
joy Mrs Whytts arrival gave her and to the Captain, 
much more than 1 expected, he is gone this day to 
Kippenross burial. You will have heard before this of 
Lady Clanronald's death and Mrs Ratray Craighall died 
last week of her eleventh child and first son. Lady 
Deskford 3 has a son to the great joy of that family. I 

1 Fifth baronet arid Chief of the Clan Maclean. Imprisoned after the '45. 
He died in Paris 1750, unmarried. 

2 Mrs Graeme of Inchbrakie, whose daughter was born 2nd July. 
Inchbrakie and Margaret's children were as follows : 

Amelia, born 2nd July 1760, married Campbell of Monzie 1777, and after 
Graeme of Orchill 1778. 

George, born 23rd May 1753, died 1840. 

Patrick, born at Inchbrakie 17th February 1755, died 1784, unmarried. 

Margaret, born at Inchbrakie 22nd July, 1 756, died 12th November 1819. 

Laurence, born 4th June 1758, died 1783. 

Louisa Maria Henrietta, born at Inchbrakie 30th November 1760, died 1841, 
married, 1792, Captain Robert Stewart of Fincastle. 

(The above dates are taken from Or and Sable.) 

3 Lady Mary Murray, eighteenth child of the first Duke of Atholl, born 1720, 
married at Huntingtower 9th June 1749 to James, Lord Deskford, afterwards 
sixth Earl of Finlater and Seafield. "His solemn Scotchery is not a little 
formidable," says Horace Walpole. She died in 1795. The son here mentioned 
is James, seventh Earl of Finlater and fourth of Seafield, born 10th April, died 
1811 without issue. 


hear no word of her good sister l being like to have any. 
. . . Honest Antony Aber : and Lady Tran : came 
yesterday to see me and I behoov'd to promis to dine 
at Abercairny to-morrow. Balgoun 2 was here yesterday 
by accident. Megie's neighbours are all very fond of her 
and her nearest very kind. ... I have wrote to my 
good Friend, Mr Graeme in London by this post the 
Capt send a hundred p d to the goldsmith last week to 
be remitted to Mr Whyt. My blising to dear Jenny and 
Bro. I ever am my dear Sir, Most dutifully your 

"So. MURRAY." 

The following is from Laurence Oliphant to his wife 
from Versailles, 14th June 1750, directed to the care of 
Ebenezer Oliphant, goldsmith in Edinburgh : 

" DEAREST MADAM, Your Daughter had yours from 
Calais by which we were fond you had got safe there. . . . 
We can give you no news, but that after your leaving 
us we saw the Procession of the Fait d'Diue, 3 when 
I walked along after the Royal family (for the most 
part just after Madam Victorine) for about a quarter of a 
mile to the Parish Church to which the King, Dauphin, 
Queen, and the Madams walked on foot ; they returned 
in coaches with eight horses five dapled greys, but the 
King and Dauphin went from the church in a coach 
with two horses to show their humility, fine tapestry was 
hung on both sides the streets they passed. We saw the 
8th day after, when the Ceremony would have been 
repeated, if it had not been a rainy morning. In the 
afternoon Review of the Musqueteers (about five hunder) 
. . . The Duke de Trimouille (13 years old) is one of 
them and marched on foot with the other three young 
lords in the last rank. 

" Offer my hearty good wishes to Anton and tell him 
I have copyed 42 Charters from the originals in the 
Scots College which gives me one Authentick Charter, 
at least, for every King, beginning at David the first to 

1 Lady Deskford had no sister alive at this time. The lady referred to must 
have been a sister-in-law. 

2 Thomas, sixth Laird of Balgowan, married Lady Christian Hope, died 1766. 
He was the father of Thomas Graham, Lord Lynedoch. 

3 Fete d'Dieu. 


James the 2nd of them one is that of K. Rob. the 2nd 
which clears to demonstration the Legittimacy of his 
son by Elizabeth More: and ane other is the original 
Instrument by which Edward the 3rd of England quitts 
all claim to superiority over the Kingdom of Scotland, 
if he wants a copy of these I shall send them, tho' both 
are very long. " 

The summer went by, with the frequent despatching 
and receiving of letters, which made the chief events of 
the exiles' days. The old laird continued his diary, with 
chronicles here and there of the doings of the court. 

"July 1750. Were at Trianon and its gardens and 
went into the other gardens lately made, in which is a 
house of one story, new built, being a dome in the 
middle, off which are four little rooms . . . the whole 
being a miniature of the first story of Marly. Here are 
also houses built for a Dairy and rooms for the maids, 
hen-houses and little Courts for the poultry. Its said 
the King has given Trianon and this place to the Queen, 
she was viewing it this day when we were there." 

"August 15th, 1750. The Dauphiness was delivered 
of a Princess 1 about 6 at night. The Chancellor of France 
(whom the King cannot put out of his office) the Princes 
of the Blood and their Princesses, the Polish Ambassador 
and Marishall Saxe 2 attended in her bed-room." 

" October 4<t/i, 1750. Mr Godar showed us the Queen's 
little Apartments which consist of 5 or 6 rooms one of 
which is a Baithing room, another seems to be a working 
room or musick room, in it is a chak reel and several 
wheels, one with a silver pirn and one with a gold pirn. 
There is a Herpscord 2 Lyirs and a Gitar." 

"January 24itk, 1751. I saw the King, Dauphiness 

1 Marie Zepherine. She died young. This is the child described at six 
months by her mother (Marie Josepha de Saxe) : ' ' She is very ugly, and they say 
she resembles me as much as one drop of water resembles another. For the rest 
very wilful and as naughty as a small Dragon." (The Dauphines of France, 
F. Hamel.) 

2 The distinguished soldier, said to be one of the three hundred natural 
children of Augustus II. of Poland and Saxony, who commanded the French 
army at Fontenoy, and captured Brussels in 1746. He died in this year, 
30th November 1750. He was in command of the French expedition in support 
of the claims of the Chevalier which was wrecked in 1744. Afterwards he 
defeated the Butcher Cumberland in three battles. The Oliphants met him 
several times. 


and 5 Madames 1 and other Lords and Ladys of the 
Court Drive in sledges upon the snow from the Castle 
down thro the gardens from which they drove to the 
Menagerie, then crossed the foot of the long canal and 
went to Trianon then came up thro the gardens and 
drove 5 or 6 times round the ponds facing the west front 
of the Castle. There were 17 sledges. The King and 
eldest Madam in one, preceded by Count Noailles 
Governor of Versailles. The Dauphin and second 
Madam with him after the King, the third Dame alone, 
the 4th and 5th Dames sitting with their faces to each 
other. Then the Lords and Ladies in 10 sledges, each 
sledge had but 1 horse, 1 was driven by a man standing 
behind the seat and all of them had a pole sett up in 
the middle with colours flying, which had all different 
devices painted on them. One of the sledges had a 
statue of a deer before the seat, ane other a swan, ane 
other the statue of some monstrous creature and ane 
had three masts. The 17 horses that drew the sledges 
had rich harness and housings and their heads deck't with 
tufts of feathers, many knotts of ribands of different hues 
and bells hanging round their trappings." 

"April 20th, 1751. Earle Nairne, my son and I were 
in the castle, saw the King dressed, his waistcoat of 
purple put on, the Orders of the Golden Fleece and the 
Cordon Blue then his purple coat (being in mourning) 
and his hayre tyed behind and put in a bag, after which 
he went up to the side of his Bed, kneeled and said his 
prayers, several clergymen attending and kneeling along 
with him. Ane hour after the Queen passed us thro 
the gallery to the Chapel and the King followed in a 
short time, preceeded by the Dauphin and the Dames 
walked after him. He had a short sword with a silver 

"June 9th, 1751. My son was at the Convent of 
St Cyr in the afternoon (where that day had been per- 
formed the ceremony of consecrating the Archbishop of 
Tours, which the King and Dames witnessed), and saw 
the large table at which the clergy had dined, on which 
was ane artificial garden with walks, grass plotts, hedges, 
cascades etc. He went thro several of the bedrooms and 
saw about fifty beds in one room with white hangings. 

1 The daughters of Louis XV. 


Then he went into the garden, at the entrey of which he 
met with about 200 of the young Ladys coming out and 
saw in the Garden about a hundred more danceing and 
diverting themselves ; they came about him, and he had 
some discourse with the sisters that had the care of the 

" Monday, September 2nd, 1751. The Dauphiness was 
delivered of a son." 

The old laird writes in November to Robert 
Campbell : 

"We have seen your young Master the Duke of 
Bourgondy, he is a fine sturdy thriving child. The King 
said the day after he was borne that his hand was as big 
as his. He is ten stages prittyer than his sister. The 
part of ye great stables that were burnt the day of his 
birth is not very considerable, it broke out immediatly 
after ye Fireworks in ye Place des Armes was finished. 
It is not well known how ye Fire took." 

In young Laurence's journal there is a note "one 
of the rokets fell in a heay-loft" which would account 
for the disaster. 

" October 24<th. Saw an extreme fine firework and 
illumination which was given by the Duchess of Lorayne. 
The Dauphin and Dauphine had also a fine supper from 
her that night ; the whole cost the Duchess a thousand 
sterling. The Dessert was the Duke of Burgoundy in 
his Cradle etc. etc. The sweet meats were mostly holy, 
and little printed bilets put within them." 

" January 30th, 1752. Madame Henriet 2 eldest 
daughter of the King and twin with M. Don Philip 8 
died of a high Feaver ye 7th day ; had a sort of Leperesy 
in the head. 4 Madame Henriets body was exposed some 
hours in the evening dressed as if alive, carryed about 12 
to Palais of the Tuileries at Paris, and exposed all next 
day face bare, after that embalmed, laid in the coffin, and 

1 Due de Bourgogne. He died 1762. 

2 The second daughter and favourite child of Louis XV. She was twenty- 
five and unmarried. 

3 Twin with the wife of Don Philip, the Duchess of Parma. 

4 Madame Henriet's hair had been falling out and she applied a lotion given 
her by her sister, the Duchess of Parma, which caused blood poisoning. 


put en depot, room hung with white. 15th The Dauphin 
and all the Royal family except the King and Queen 
(they were already in mourning for the Duke of Orleans 
1st Prince of the Blood), put on mourning for the sister 
six weeks. The Court wore black full mounted coats 
black stokins swords and buckles friengd linnen. Then 
the Dauphin and Dames went and threw holy water on 
their sisters Coffin. M. Henriet was not buried till 
Mar. 9th when the Dauphin and 3 dames attended the 
funeral services at St Denis." 

Janet and her brother attended a masked ball at the 
Castle in September, and the whole party were often 
invited to Court festivities. They lived in daily inter- 
course with the Nairnes, who were settled near them at 
Montreuil, half an hour's walk from Versailles. James, 
the fifth Lord Strathallan (born 1722), had married, under 
extraordinary and romantic circumstances, Eupheme, 
daughter of Gordon of Aberfeldy. After the battle of 
Culloden, he escaped with Archibald Primrose into the 
wilds of Aberdeenshire, where, disguised as a shepherd, 
he wandered until he met with George Farquharson, 
who took him for safety to his house. It happened 
that the two Miss Gordons had been sent thither also 
from Aberfeldy for safety. In this enforced retirement 
the young Strathallan fell in love with Eupheme, and 
persuaded her to a marriage. The ceremony was there- 
fore performed by a clergyman called Rose or Ross, who 
was himself afterwards exiled. The young man, George 
Farquharson, who has left all this upon record in a 
manuscript belonging to the Strathallan family, says that 
the ceremony of his own baptism took place at the same 
time as this marriage, and that bride and bridegroom stood 

Archibald Primrose, wearying of an inactive part, 
insisted on leaving the Farquharsons' friendly shelter. 
He was seized near Aboyne by the Government and 
executed. Lord Strathallan waited his opportunity and 
escaped to France, where Eupheme 1 must shortly have 
joined him. 

1 Eupheme died in 1796. 


Laurence Oliphant, younger, writes to Lord Strath- 
allan, his cousin, 16th July 1751 : 

"There seem to be several accounts agreeing in the 
Prince's being at Paris about the time King George was 
so ill, one man told me he had it from the person in whose 
house he sleept three nights, but I cannot give you this for 
absolute fact ; it seems to be on better authority that he 
was on your coast. ..." 

Also on 6th August 1751, the same to the same : 

" My Lord and Lady Nairne were dining here when 
I received the agreeable news of the birth of your Dear 
Twins ; l we had a bumper imediately to their health 
and the wife upon the straw ; there has really been no 
time lost as its in the ninth month hope there will be no 
bad consequences." 

The unfailing interest taken by the old laird in all the 
branches of his own family and in that of his wife, lent a 
keen zest to his life. To Laurence Oliphant of Condie 
especially his heart went out. It will be remembered 
that when his sister, Lilias Oliphant of Condie, had 
married again, Gask had sheltered the little boy and 
gave him probably the only home he knew. As years 
went on the boy looked to his mother's brother for advice 
in all the affairs of life, and his cousin " Mr Brown " seems 
also to have been in his confidence. Brown writes to 
beg Condie to come and see them at Versailles, and gives 
a sketch of what the journey would entail. 

" You would not find the journey so long nor ye 
expense so great as you imagine. We would crack 
together of Auld Lang Sine and walk and ride up and 
down and when you were tired you would go home again. 
You would come in a ship to Boulogne for two Guineas 
at most, and from that to Paris in ye coatch, in which 
there generally are people that speak English, would 
coast you only thirty shillings at ye outside, and your 

1 A boy and a girl. With other children the Strathallans had James, born 1752, 
who died unmarried 10th December 1775, and Andrew John, died unmarried 
20th January 1817- Margaret, who married George Augustus Haldane of Glen- 
eagles, and died 1821, and Elizabeth, who died unmarried 1831. 


meat which you must have at home, and when you 
came here a sute of cloathes and a wegg would be your 
greatest expense. Our house would hold a little bed for 
you, and our beef and broth would maintain you, so you 
have only to take your foot in your hand and away. You 
may be back long before harvest, and you would be twice 
as fond of hame afterwards. Along, Nutcracker, pluck 
up spirits and lets see you ! " 

The following letters show a quaint anxiety on the part 
of both the Gasks to see the young man safely married. 
Condie's uncle, Laurence Oliphant, writes from Versailles 
in April 1752, mentioning an illness 

" that to which I attribute it most is your solitary way of 
living and your want of a right person to entertain and 
divert you, and have care of your dyet that it be good and 
regularly taken. Wherefore I advise and conjure you 
without loss of time to find out a fitt mate for yourself. If 
her person and humour is good and good qualities please 
you, no matter how small her portion. You can have no 
notion of the satisfaction a pleasant constant companion 
does give. Beside its a duty you owe to endeavour to 
propagate mankind, and continue your family in your 
own person." 

Amongst Jacobites young Condie was known as 
" Symon," and under this name he writes from Edinburgh 
to his cousin " Mr Brown," 26th January 1751. 

" MY DEAR FRIEND BROWN, A few days ago I 
received Mrs Whytt's kind letter. . . . The affair she 
wanted to know of I am of opinion will not answer, for 
tho' I have in a manner obtained the parants consent, and 
the young Lady 'tis possible might go on to it, to oblige 
her Father, yet I am positive that She has no maner of 
Liking for me . . . and it is her darling Brothers constant 
topick of Discourse to ridicule me for narrowness low- 
lifed education etc. and as it is very possible that I may 
receive slights of that sort from her and her friends after 
Matrimony I think it is much more expedient to turn 
Madwater than go forward and Drown. 1 For you know 

1 He was drowned in the little river May when in flood, twenty-one years 


very well that I would not choise to be eather slighted 
by her ritch friends for my poverty or trated like a chyld 
by her Mother, and by their conduct since Mr Brown 
left this place I am positive both these things must 
happen. Mrs Whytt was so good as take the trouble 
to brotch the affair both to the young Lady and her 
parants, at my desire. ... I wish that I had a Lass of 
my own principals that I liked and that liked me, tho' 
she had not a sixpence. . . . The Goldsmith's 1 son is 
recovering that was once given over by all the doctors. 
. . . Glauds 2 familie are also in their ordinary. Tell 
Glaud that I am affraid his children will get the better 
of their Mother, for the eldest Boyie 3 and eldest Girill 4 
are come a very good length, and I think it is almost 
time the Boyie is put to an apprinticeship." 

Mr Brown replies, 23rd February 1751 : 

" I received yours of Jan. 26th all your friends here 
were in great hopes it would have been in a very different 
strain and are afraid that too scrupulous a temper and 
listening to surmises not well founded have occasioned the 
delaying your happiness. The Parents have too much 
religion and good sense to give their consent to a match 
in which they did not believe their daughter would be 
happie . . . her seeming want of Kindness for you should 
rather be imputed to modesty, which is the most amiable 
quality of the sex, tho I have not the experience, I 
am informed of a pair of your friends that had no violent 
affection for each other when they first went together, and 
yet their love increased every day after, by their mutual 
caresses and right behaviour to each other founded on 
solid reason. . . . You must judge for yourself since its a 
matter for life, only if you love us or yourself be sure to 
act in the whole affair according to the nicest rules of 
honour. Do not delay to take your measures and let us 
hear the result. . . . Inconvenience may arise with regard 
to Mrs Whytt's affairs but your friends here are resolved 
to run all risques of interest where your happiness is 
concerned, at the same time leave no stone unturned." 

1 Ebenezer Oliphant. 

a Robert Graeme, tenth Laird of Garvock. 

3 James, after eleventh Laird of Garvock, born March 1737, died 1812. 

* Amelia Ami Sophia. 


Though belonging to a later date, the following letters 
concerning the matter of Symon's marriage projects are 
given here. Laurence Oliphant of Gask writes to his 
nephew, Condie, from Corbeil, 25th July 1757: 

" You want no more as to temporals but a consort 
that will make you happy : in your situation you have 
no use for money, and you should not study it. If you 
are engaged with any young woman that pleases, I shall 
say nothing, but if you are still at freedom, I must, as 
you are the man I wish best to on earth, next to my 
Son, remind you that I did not think you gave up your 
addresses to Miss Camp : sutable to what I thought strict 
Honour. You was certainly somehow vastly misled in 
that affair, and I will only mention one thing (which 
I wish I had done sooner) which was, that when some 
of the friends were against the match, the Lady declared 
that she would marry you though they should be all 
against it. This, Im certain is fact and is a sure proof 
that you could not faill to be happy in haveing her for 
your wife. According to the notions I have, I think 
you have a great Conscern in that affair, and wish you 
would try in earnest to bring it to a bearing ; you must 
by this time be better acquainted with her Brother who, 
as I have heard, gave you the greatest disgust at that 
time. I could never find fault with you in any other 
action of your life. If you incline I should write to 
the brother on the subject, 111 doe it with all my soul." 

The following is Condie's reply to Laurence Oliphant, 
22nd August 1757 : 

" I was favoured with yours a few days ago . . . and 
was much bound to you for the advice you gave me 
in a Matrimonial affair . . . but the case is much altered, 
for on Tuesday last the Lady's Brother dyed suddenly 
at his own house by whose Death she fals in to a vast 
deal of more money than I can expect with a wife, 
yea, more than I could spend, so my making addresses 
to her would be to no purpose and would make the 
world say that I had renewed my Addresses on her 
getting her new fortune. 

" The longer I live I see the plainer that happiness does 


not consist in money, and am but tender and not cut 
out for high life. I prefer my solitary life, provided I 
had an agreeable young Woman for a companion." 

Symon's marriage is announced at last. His choice 
fell on Grizel, daughter of Anthony Murray of Dollerie- 
His uncle Gask writes to him, 29th December 1759 : 

" The accounts I have of your marriage and the 
Lady whom you have made your choice are to me most 
agreeable. I pray God both of you may continue happy 
in that state to an advanced old age. Offer my kindest 
services to the young Lady and her honest Grandfather." 

Young Gask adds to his father's letter : 

"I was agreeably surprised some days ago with the 
news of your marriage with the grand-child of, I may 
safely say, one of the Honestest men in Scotland. . . . 
May you both be as happy as I wish you and increase 
the name from whence you sprung with many honest 
men to support it." 

Margaret Graeme writes to her mother, 16th February 
1760 : 

" Simon's wife is about 22, much about my size, she 
is not reconed pretty, but I think she is very well, a 
good deall like her brother ... he is turned out a very 
pretty lad, and I think her a very prudent fine Girle. 
We was all very merry at the infair, plenty of company, 
meat and musick. . . . We hear a clatter as if Miss 
Susan were going to be married to the Laird off Blair 
and Miss Ann Stirling to the Laird of Arth." 

After following Symon to the end of his matrimonial 
enterprises the story goes back to the party at Versailles. 

The same catastrophe which had thrown the Oliphants 
into exile had involved nearly all their relations. United 
in a common ruin, the various members of the family 
gathered in ^rance, so that the old intimacies of family 
life went on as of old in Perthshire. The Nairnes were 
at Montreuil. Of the third lord's eight sons and two 


daughters, only four sons and one daughter, Clementina, 
remained. The eldest son, John, was in the British 
service, and it is probable he was not of the party at 
this time, but Thomas, who had taken active part in 
the Jacobite rising, Henry, 1 who went into the French 
service, and Charles, who was in the Dutch service, must 
from time to time have been with their parents. 

The Strathallans at Boulogne, with their growing 
family of sons and daughters, kept up the affectionate 
intimacy which had linked the families in Perthshire. 
The origin of the old family joke of Strathallans and 
Oliphants calling each other " Brother Nut " is now lost, 
but it was a term of great affection. When Lord 
Strathallan married he wrote to thank his cousin, Laurence 
Oliphant, "for promoting my wife to the order of the 

The Robertsons of Strowan were still in Scotland and 
in danger of arrest, but soon they also were to escape to 
France, and add to the little colony of Jacobites. 

Amelie Oliphant having passed the summer of 1750 in 
Scotland, rejoined her family at Versailles, 17th November 
1750. She left for Scotland again, 6th October 1752, this 
time with a definite plan in her mind for getting back the 
estate of Gask, which had now been forfeited for six years. 
Lady Gask remarks in one letter, " Women make a sad 
figure travelling alone," but as a matter of fact she and 
Janet, who went with her, generally accomplished the 
journeys quickly and v/ithout adventure. She always, 
however, suffered severely from sea-sickness, and it is 
not the least of her heroisms that she crossed the sea 
ten times during the seventeen years of her husband's 
exile. On this particular journey in 1752 her tireless 
energy made nothing of all fatigues and hardships, for 
hope was awake, and her brave spirit set on a certain 
line of action, which should restore home and happiness 
to those she loved. 

There is no doubt that Lady Gask had an extra- 

1 Henry Nairne, born in 1727, was with his King and master, Charles' TT T., 
when the end came hi 1788. Henry Nairne lived till 1818. * 


ordinary capacity for business, a fitness for positions of 
trust and situations demanding not only practical ability, 
but the charm that could induce men to lend their help 
in furthering her wishes. 

"My mother went home," writes Laurence in his 
journal, " and with surprising assiduity surmounted great 
obstacles and difficultys and bought back the forfeited 
inheritance. She did wonders, her God was with her, 
she found favour with men, and a Retreat was provided 
where we might one day rest." 

Husband and son both realised her commanding talent 
and gave her full powers for its exercise ; all the letters 
and papers of this time reveal an absolute belief in her 
judgment and capacity. Her spirit would not accept 
defeat and poverty for her beloved ; she raised their lives 
from the dead level of hopeless exile to that of expect- 
ancy, keeping their eyes fixed on a future that should 
give them back to the cherished shelter of their own 
country, and call them at last again to the joys and 
occupations of home. 

Mother and daughter arrived at Margaret's home at 
Inchbrakie by 20th December, and on that date Amelie 
wrote a long letter to her husband, containing very good 
news. The friends of the family were coming forward 
to help in the redemption of the estate of Gask, which 
the Government were now preparing to sell to the highest 

Mr Campbell of Monzie, Graeme of Orchill, Oliphant 
of Condie, Patrick Graeme of Inchbrakie, and Ebenezer 
Oliphant the Goldsmith, resolved to combine together 
and purchase the estate from Government. For this 
purpose they were to borrow money from the Bank, or 
some other source, and 

" to pay themselves back, they purpose to sell what lays 
on the Pow and the Barrony that joins Monzie, both of 
which they think will sell at a high price considering they 
are situated near rich Lairds who want to purchase them." 

The scheme, depending in this manner on the generous 


feeling of the family friends, was not carried through with- 
out many drawbacks, disappointments and fears. Yet the 
plan succeeded, and on 17th February 1753 the whole 
estate was bought from the Barons of Exchequer by 
Laurence Oliphant of Condie at 14,372, and the trees 
at 757. Subsequently the purchasers sold Cowgask and 
Williamston. The rest of the estate was given back to 
the old laird. The story is short and simple, but has no 
equal as a record of warm, disinterested friendship. 

With a thankful heart must Amelie have written the 
good news to Versailles. Part of her mission was now 
accomplished ; but she had two other ends in view, to 
get a pardon for her son, and to find him a wife. Young 
Laurence, however, refused to apply to the Government 
for pardon, unless he obtained not only the consent but 
the approval of King James. As to a wife, he had already 
made search for himself, but with no success. A few 
months before the restoration of Gask he had, with the 
Strathallan family, stayed at Emmerich on the Rhine 
with Lord George Murray, whose widowed daughter, 
Amelia, 1 was staying there at the time. She had been 
for seven months the second wife of the Master of 
Sinclair, a man forty years older than herself, with a 
strange record of violence and bitterness. He died in 
November 1750. Laurence, while describing the widow 
as "no beauty," writes to his father: 

"The young lady, to give her her due, is as fine a well 
tempered straping girle as one could wish to see. I have 
made no steps yet and if it should not succeed I'm not 
in the least fear of being love-seek." 

The young man proposed and got a flat denial, " as she 
never liked to keep her lovers in suspense." 

Mrs Oliphant writes from Edinburgh to her husband 
in France, 7th January 1753: 

" If he (her son) goes into the Scheme as I hope he 
will of alowing his freinds to procure his pardon he may 
then doe it with a much better grace if his taste be for 

1 She married again, 1734, James Farquharson of luvercauld and had a large 
family. She died at Marlee 1779. 


a Scots lass which I own to you would be my inclina- 
tion. What would he think if it could be brought about 
and that she would goe to France with his Mother or 
Symon's Mistress that he wrote off; I daresay her Mother 
will make her a very good fortune, she has many good 
freinds it is the prevailing name at present. Its true she 
is a good deal older but is far from being old-like. She 
has red hair and is no beauty at the same time far from 
being disagreeable she has a great stock of good sense and 
can behave herself in any company. Or whom would 
he like ? The old Capt. Graeme's daughter now is a fine 
girl and has a very good education, she will be worth 
four thousand pounds sterling. She is 16 years old." 

Young Laurence writes on the subject to his father, 
27th February 1753:- 

" If the young ladys mentioned are not to your mind 
I fancy they will not be to mine either, as I have no 
particular attatchment to anyone, yours and my Mothers 
opinions and experience in those matters will be my 
fittest guide." 

The matrimonial fate of young Laurence was not to 
be decided for two years, and when the time came his 
choice was destined to fall on one who had no fortune at 
all, except in the graces of all that is gentlest and best 
in womanhood. 

In April 1753 Mrs Oliphant was still in Scotland. 
She wrote to her husband from Inchbrakie: 

" If you knew the many batles I have to fight, you 
would pity me ; you may depend I shall looss no time 
nor stay a day after my affairs will alow me to leave this 
countrie, which is so far from being agreeable that it 
seems to me a desert. My only comfort is dear Megie." 

A great many anxieties beset her. Rumours of 
another intended rising made the Government keep up 
a strict search for hidden Jacobites, and she knew that 
Robertson of Strowan and his family were in danger. It 
was at this time that Archibald Cameron ventured back 


to Scotland and met his death. Cask's brother-in-law, 
the " Glaud " of Jacobite story, Graeme of Garvock, who, 
having escaped with him to Sweden in 1746, had also 
risked returning home, was seized and imprisoned. 

James Oliphant writes to Laurence Oliphant at Paris, 
19th March 1753 :- 

"DEAR SIR, On Thursday night last Capt. Robert 
Graeme was made prisoner and taken out of his own 
house by a party of one hundred men. Hes to be 
brought over here Wednesday first. This I thought 
proper to advise you of that necessary measures and 
proper application be made for his deliberation and that 
he may be timeously claimed as a French officer. Theres 
a very strict search at present over all this country. ..." 

The prisoner himself writes to Condie from the house 
of Newtown, 25th March 1753 : 

" SIR, I am just now at your house on my way to 
Perth with a party, I hope so soon as this comes to your 
hand you will see to come and meet me and send a 
message to Abercairnie and ane other to Balgown and 
beg they will come in to Perth and do what they can to 
get me put at Liberty. 

"I have the Sergent's consent to stay at this place 
till you come, so heaste." 

Mrs Whytt writes on 23rd May 1753, that Glaud is 
still in the same quarters, "he desires that Mr Brown 
would gett a new Congie for him which in his situation 
I hope will be easily granted." 

On 29th June he is still a prisoner ; " Mr Graeme getts 
liberty to walk in the Inch with a proper gaurd." 

Poor " Glaud " did not get out of prison for two 

One of the chief family events of this year was the 
arrival in France of Duncan Robertson of Strowan and 
his family. The Robertsons had for generations shown 
loyalty to the Stewarts. 

The following letter, found among papers at Gask, is 


from John Hay, 1 addressed to Robertson of Strowan at 
Orleans, the old Poet-Chief who died in 1749 : 

" ROME, Aug. 29, 1724. 

"SiR, I have the favour of yours of the fourth 
August, and am here to acquaint you with the satisfac- 
tion the prosperous account you give of your private 
affairs has occasioned to the King 2 our master. His 
Majesty likewise orders me to assure you how sensible 
he is of the late mark you have given him of the strictest 
Loyalty, and longs to be in the situation, when honest 
Strowan will not want, to present a petition to the King 
of England, for obtaining the greatest favour he can ask 
of him. 

" You have here enclosed a bill for 600 which you 
may dispose of as you think convenient either in part 
or whole to Capt. Charles Robertson, and you may be 
assured the King will always be glad to shew his regard 
for your relations. 

" You can't imagine my dear Strowan, the pleasure the 
hopes of seeing you gives me, the meeting would be more 
agreeable in our own country where I don't dispair of 
seeing you before I dye, however since that can't be now 
think on't seriously and take a trip into this country. 
I'll get you absolved for all has past and to come, but 
it may be you don't think that worth the trouble of so 
long a journey. 

" The King and Queen have numbers of dogs of all 
kinds, but none so pritty as I hear yours are, therefore 
you'll do well to bring them along with you. I am, Dear 
Sir your most obed. and most humble serv*, 


The successor of the Poet- Chief, Duncan, took the 
same part and shared in the family ruin. He wrote to 
Mr Edgar, the Prince's Secretary, from Montreuil, 
28th September 1753, giving an account of the part he 
had played : 

" Had the Prince landed in Scotland with a powerful 
army, any little service I could have done might have 

1 Third son of the sixth Earl of Kinnoull, born 1691. He played an active 
part in 1715 and was attainted. James III. created him Earl of Inverness in 
1727. He died 1740. 

2 James III. and VIII. 


been dispensed with, and indeed nobody expected I 
should have joined as I laboured at that time and some 
years after under an ailment that made me quite unfit 
for the field, nor was I then the head of the Clan ; 
but as I saw the Prince's real person engaged and 
other gloomy circumstances, I thought it my duty to 
use the little influence I had amongst my friends and 
country men." 1 

Robertson had a commission from the Duke of Atholl 
to raise a regiment. He escaped the Bill of Attainder, 
but his name was excepted in the Act of Indemnity, and 
he skulked in the Highlands for years. 

" I ordered my wife and children to repair to Carie 
and possess a little Hutt that was built after the 
burning in 1746. The tenants of the Estate, alwise 
attached to their lawful masters received them with open 
arms and cheerfully paid their rents to the Trustees 
approved by me. This was galling to the ministry ever 
intent upon the destruction of all the ancient Highland 
families." [The Government revoked the grant which 
made it possible for these rents to be paid in spite of 
the struggles of his friends.] " Sentence after sentence 
was past against them and even my wife and children 
were threatened with military execution, if they remained 
anywhere upon the ground of the estate beyond the 
time limited. They were obliged to yield, not knowing 
where to put their heads. . . . At length, my funds being 
exhausted, and my person hunted as a fox, I had no 
resource at home. ... I arrived with my wife and 
children at Paris 18 days ago after tedious and expensive 
travelling by sea and land, and at this moment I possess 
39 Louis, which is all I can command at home or abroad 
for subsistence to my family and the education of 2 sons 
and 2 daughters." 

The letter goes on to remind the Prince of the part 
the Robertsons had played at the head of the Atholl 
men supporting the royal cause under Montrose, and of 
the wounds, imprisonment, and banishment of Duncan's 

1 The letter is given in full in the Appendix of Brown's History of the 


father in 1715, and the loss of his uncle, " cruelly butchered 
in calm blood at Preston." " As for me, I was born 
in the dregs of time, but thank God, my heart is 

The Robertsons' perilous adventures were now at an 
end. They went into an exile that lasted for thirty- 
one years. Duncan himself had written to his brother- 
in-law, the old Laird of Gask, at Paris, to ask to have a 
homely habitation found for him. A house was taken at 
Montreuil. With him travelled his wife, Marjory Nairne, 
and his four children, Margaret, the eldest, being then 
thirteen years old. The journey was accomplished in 
August 1753, when Amelie Oliphant had so far arranged 
family affairs that she was able to travel with her sister 
and the rest of the party as far as Dunkirk. 

No record remains of Amelie's joyful meeting with 
husband and son, for whom she had accomplished so 
much in the months of her absence. Laurence Oliphant 
was " Gask " again, and his son, though still unpardoned, 
no longer dispossessed of all prospects in life. The old 
laird had been much alone 1 during the past months, 
for young Laurence spent six months with the Strathallan 
family at Boulogne. Family events during the year had 

1 Robertson of Blairfetty, an offshoot of the Strowan family, was a staunch 
Jacobite, and the constant companion of the exiled Oliphants. His letter to 
Charles Edward is preserved among the Gask papers : 

" MAY IT PLEASE YOUR ROYAL HIGHNESS, I beg leave to implore your Royal 
highnes protection to obtain a suteable retreat for me from the Court of France, 
being rendered incapable of my continuing in the service, by reasons given in 
a memorial which my Lord Ogilvy my Collonel attested and delivered to General 
Rothe in June 1758, and General Rothe told myself in June last that he gave 
in the memorial, but had no suteable answer, by reason of my short service, an 
exact Coppy of which memorial I presume to present herewith ! I am hopfull 
there may be some consideration for my having a family and being encumbered 
with sixtie nine years of age, besides some other infirmity, and the too unlucky 
occasion of my being in the Service, and that your Royal Highness will consider 
that never has been the least occasion for shewing our Loyalty and attachment 
to the Royal Family since the beginning of King Charles the First's misfortunes, 
but my grandfather, my father or myself have always exerted ourselves to the 
best of our power. I desire nothing more than that God may give me a favour- 
able occasion to spend the remainder of my life in serving as far as in my power, 
my King and Country, and forwarding that happy and long wished for work, 
which has been my principal study and desire my whole Life. I have with trew 
Loyalty, the great honour to be Sir, Your Royal Highness' most devoted and 
most obidiant Servant, BLAIRPHEATIE. 

"DUNKIRK, 8th September 1759." 

Robertson of Blairfetty was specially excluded from the Act of Pardon in 
1747. He had been a major in Lord George Murray's regiment. 


been the death of Patrick Oliphant at Bagdad, and some 
excitement in view of the fact that there were rumours 
(perfectly unfounded) of a large fortune bequeathed to 
his brother, the laird, and the new year began with the 
death of the old Aunt Margaret, at the age of ninety-one, 
the one remaining child of the disinherited Patrick 
Oliphant of Williamston. She was buried at Gask, where 
she died on 27th January. No record shows if she had 
lived at the house of Gask all through the troubles, and 
she remains a shadowy figure with nothing but the dates 
of birth and death, and one dressmaker's bill, to give 
her memory a living interest. 
Gask records in his journal : 

" February 22nd, 1754. Xavier Marie Joseph, Duke 
of Acquit aine, died aged 5 months 19 days." 

" March 26th. Hamilton of Bangour died at Lyons." 

"May 4>th. The Court took mourning 11 days for 
the Duches of Penthiever, which day my Lady Nairne 
was taken ill." 

"May 9th, 1754 At Eleven at night Lady Katrin 
Murray, 1 Wife to the Earle of Nairne, dyed at Versailles, 
and was Buryed the 12th at Paris in the Buryal place for 
Forreing Protestants, near the Port St Martin at 10 of 
ye clock, at Night. Strowan, Mr Maitland (a clergy man) 
and I were in the same Coach with the Body and I acted 
the chief Mourner, carrying her head to the grave." 

"June 15th. Madlle. Alexandrine 2 dau. to M. de 
Pompadoure by Mr de Tiole, died at Paris aged about 

"August 23rd, 1754. The Dauphiness was safely 
delivered at six in the morning of a son, 8 and the King 
being then at Choisse, when he came to the castle at ten, 
he named him the Duke of Berry. There was a Fire- 
work and illumination in the evening." 

1 Third daughter of the first Earl of Dunmore, born at Godalming, 10th 
January 1692, married her cousin, John, Master of Nairue, 3rd November 1712. 

2 Madame de Pompadour's little daughter by her husband, Lenormant 
d'Etoiles. The child was engaged to marry the Due de Picquigny on attaining 
her thirteenth year. The Pompadour had vainly endeavoured to marry her to 
the eldest son of the Due de Richelieu. 

3 Afterwards Louis XVI. He was the third son of the Dauphin, and styled 
Due de Berry. 



In 1755 the Oliphant family removed from Versailles 
after five years' residence there. 

"I with my family flitted from Versailles to live at 
Corbeil, at nine Leagues distance, and on the banks of 
the Seine. We were in a Coach drawen by four horses 
and mett the King and his retinue." 

In this year Mary Nairne, Amelie's sister, writes some 
family news from Stanley, 17th April 1755 : 

"I believe it will please you and my other friends 
to notify Nice Megge Mercer's 1 marriage. Her cousen 
James Robertson of Lude, who has been long in love 
with her, had the good fortune before he made his 
proposals to be very much esteemed so that when he 
did, she could not put him off as she had done many 
others, but pity, reason, and a thousand imaginary 
difficulties tormented her to such a rate that sister 
Catherine 2 with whom she was, writes that had she not 
put an end to it by having them married, she believed 
it would have proved fattal to her, as she had wore herself 
to skin and bone. It was concluded on the 4th of 
this month, she adds, to their mutual satisfaction and 
her daughter Meggy says that they both seem to have 
attained to the height of this worlds felicity. I hope 
from both their extraordinary virtues it will ever last 
in spite of the disparity of years. Their brother Willie 3 

1 Margaret, only daughter of Robert Mercer (Nairne), who was killed at 
Culloden, and his wife, the heiress of Aldie. Meggie was probably much older 
than the bridegroom, as her parents were married in 1720, while James Robertson's 
parents were only married about 1736. Meggie became the mother of six sons, 
of whom five were in the army. The sixth, Charles, was bred for the Church, 
but died at twenty-two. All the sons died unmarried except William, the eldest, 
who was a Lieutenant-General and a distinguished soldier. This son, William 
Robertson, inherited Lude from his father. He was thrice married : first, to Miss 
Wright, their children were, a son who died in infancy, Louisa Ann (born 1800, 
married Donald Kelly and left issue), and Margaret Mercer, born 1802, died 
1848 ; second, to Miss Haldane of Gleneagles, by whom he had two sons, 
James Alexander, who served in the Crimea, and William Drummond, who died 
unmarried ; third, to Miss Menzies of Culdares, but had no children by her. 
James Alexander Robertson succeeded his father in the estate of Lude, which, 
however, he sold to the M'Inroys in 1860. 

2 Lady Dunmore. 

3 Colonel William Mercer. He married, in 1762, Margaret, daughter of 
William Murray of Pitkaithly, and died in 1790, leaving three daughters, of 
whom the eldest, Jean, married 1787, George Keith Elphinstone, Viscount Keith. 
Their eldest daughter, born 1788, succeeded to her father's titles. On the 
death of William, sixth Lord Nairne, she became Baroness Nairne, which title is 
now held by Lord Lansdowne, her grandson. 


would not come to see them married, but was reconciled 
imeaditly after and made them a handsome present of 
tea plait, and goes along with them to Aldie to stay 
till she can look on her acquaintance with a little more 
confidence and then goes to Lude. Niece Catherine 
(whom I have not yet seen, but sister Henrietta and 
every body that has, says she is to a wish in body and 
mind) is to be with them. All the rest are very well 
in their healths, but that weakness in the eldest daughter 
and youngest sons limbs." 

While the Robertsons of Strowan were at Paris, 
Laurence had naturally been much thrown with his 
cousins, a party of children whom he would delight to 
amuse and protect, although all were strangers to him, 
for he had seen nothing of the family for ten years. 
When the party had first arrived, in August 1753, 
Margaret, the eldest girl, was thirteen years old. She 
was just fifteen when she was betrothed to her cousin 
Laurence. His was a love-match after all, for the 
bride had not a sixpence, and no prospects bringing 
only her pretty face and charming personality into the 
Gask family, together with the strain of Celtic blood 
that was to find so fine an expression in one of her 
children. But all concerned were delighted. Amelie 
and her sister Marjory were devoted to each other, 
and rejoiced in the family tie that would make their 
interests still more identical. There is no whisper in 
any letter throwing doubts either on the wisdom of the 
union of first cousins, or of the expediency of marriage 
for a child of fifteen. The pair were of the same 
" principles," and though Laurence was double Margaret's 
age, all their thoughts and training had sprung from the 
same root, all their aspirations were towards the same 
object. Their married life, which lasted for nineteen 
years, was one of happiness and confidence. 

Young Laurence writes to his cousin Condie, 7th 
April 1755:- 

" DEAR SIR, It is a confidence I owe you, to 
inform you that I intend to marry my cousin Mr & Mrs 


Gray's 1 dauthter, a familiar and intimate acquaintance 
with her has givn me an opportunity of knowing her 
thoroughly and I may without streatching a point that 
she is a virtuous healthy sensible well-tempered pritty 
young woman, which are qualities you'l allow may make 
any reasonable man happy. There is nothing wanting 
but the money which you desired me in your letter to 
my Father of 15 Dec. 1753 not to make my Object. I 
take your advice and I wish you would likeways take it 
to yourself. The parents on both sides have given their 
consent, to be sure we will be obliged to live very 
sparingly and even poorly, but we must make up all 
our wants with content, and I hope it will be a satis- 
faction to you to think there is a prospect of continuing 
the family in the direct line, if it please God to bless us 
with Children, I'm determined they shall be born in 
Britain, if we can possibly spare as much as to answer 
the expense. 

" I daresay this project will give pleasure to dr Meggy 
and her husband. . . . When the marriage is made out it 
shall be with as little expense as possible not even of a 
wedding coat or a bridle dinner." 

Robertson of Strowan, father of the bride, writes to 
his brother-in-law, Oliphant, father of the bridegroom, 
3rd June 1755 : 

" I pray God to give his blessing to the intended 
match, that the young folks may pass together a long 
calm and chearfull life ; I confess I see no appearances 
against their enjoying a happy life, but the Scarcity of 
a certain Article in which it is not in my power to 
assist them at present ; but ... I dont know another 
family on earth to whom I would have given my child 
without asking some previous questions, as there are 
but few that have principles to supply the place of 

The bridegroom writes to Condie on 12th June : 

"The 9th, the day I was christened, I had the 
happyness of being united to my dear Meggy at her 
Fathers house. We came here next morning and mett 

1 One of the disguises assumed by the Robertsons of Strowan. 


intimate aequ, 

Y of knowing her 
hing a point that 
e well-tempered p; 
j allow may n 
aneWs nothing war 
d me in your lettt 
to make my Objeci 
would like ways tal 
ive given : 

; obliged to live very 

1 make up all 

it will be a satis- 

>ect of continuing 

to bles 

shall be bon 
to an- 

e to dr ,M 

of the bride, write 
>er of the bridegr- 

( to the intc; 
>gether a 
no app 
"he Sc- 
my p 
d hi- 

1740 - 1774. 


with the hearty welcome we expected from our kind 
parents. ... I find Meggy a more agreeable wife than 
she was a Mistress." 

The young couple lived at Corbeil with the old laird 
and his lady, who highly approved of her daughter-in-law. 

" I must say," she writes " that I think my son has 
been very happy in his choice. She is as well looked 
a young woman as you can see and has a great share 
both of good sense and good nature, and of a very 
saving temper, which is very lucky in our situation." 

The time came when it was decided to send Margaret 
to England, in order that the expected heir might be 
born on British soil. Amelie was to travel with her 
on the road which by now she knew so wearily well. 
Young Laurence also went through France with the 
party, which he had refused to augment, as the follow- 
ing letter shows ; Lady Kenmure, 1 hearing that the party 
were starting for England, wished to accompany them. 
But young Laurence makes the following objections : 

" It is very true that my Mother and wife intend 
soon to set out for England and would think it very 
agreeable to have the honour of my Lady Kenmure's 
company, but as I do not like to go about the bush, I 
shall tell you freely my Father's objections and mine, 
which is, that as this is a time nobody would chuse to 
go to Britain without a necessity for it so one may 
supose my Lady Kenmure is charged with some privet 
commissions which in my wife's situation might bring 
on great inconvenience, should your ladyship be taken 
up on arriving at London where my wife thinks to ly 
in, it may hapen that though my Mother and wife go 
alone they may be taken up, but as they are to pass 
by their own names and to have no letters or papers 
about them, its to be hoped when they tell their real 
errand there will be no difficulty in liberating them. 

1 Lady Mary Dalzell, daughter of the Earl of Carnwath, and widow of the 
sixth Viscount Kenmure, executed in 1716 at the Tower for his share in the 
Jacobite rising. Lady Kenmure survived her husband sixty-one years, and died at 
Terregles in 1776. She saved the family estates for her son ; but outlived her 




If my Lady Kenmure find any strength in this objection 
I hope she will pardon what at first view might seem 
to savour very little of politeness to a Lady of her 
Loyalty, Rank and character." 

The little party set out from Corbeil 30th July 1756, 
did the sights of Paris on the way, were overturned in a 
coach near Bouvray, and Margaret fell from her horse 
when riding behind her husband ; the crossing from 
Boulogne was very bad, and the ladies were very ill. 
The ship was becalmed off Deal for six hours, and they 
had to land in a small boat ; crossing Blackheath by 
coach on their way to London there were two alarms 
of highwaymen. All these difficulties and mishaps were 
safely surmounted, but the recital raises wonder as to 
whether the birth of a child in one country or another 
could warrant so many hazards and discomforts. In 
addition it must be remembered that the young husband 
dared not venture to England ; he accompanied his wife 
only to Boulogne. 

The following is young Laurence's letter to his father 
when on the journey with his wife, 7th August 1756 : 


" We arrived here this night all very well. Meggy 
found it a little tiresome sitting so long in the coach 
so I got a pad made, and to-day she rod behind me near 
two leagues, before and after dinner. There is in the 
coach along with us an Abby and an old dottled Chevalier 
of St Louis but very polite, there are besides an officer 
of Dragoon going to Calis to join his regiment for the 
first time, formerly a Card de Corps and a merchants 
son at Boulogne ; add to this two droll women. By 
my being a horse-back, I git in before to bespeak some 
little thing and therefor we have hitherto sat by our- 
selves Meggy and I have been just now seeing the 
Cathedral, the choir of which is very statly. . . . The 
table is covered for supper, veal steakes in paper, rested 
pigeons and a salad with cherrys and biskets for desert, 
we have three mutchkens 20 sol wine. ..." 

Perhaps at no moment could his long exile have 


seemed so bitter as that in which he saw his child-wife 
leave the shores of France, and might not follow her, 
because to set foot on British ground would mean im- 
prisonment and perhaps death. He returned to his 
father at Corbeil, there to await tidings. 

On 27th September Margaret's first child, a boy, was 
born at the Drummond's house in London, and was 
christened Laurence. The sixteen - year - old mother 
returned with her treasure to France on 15th November, 
the centre of family congratulations and rejoicings. This 
child, so ardently longed for and so welcomed, lived 
only one year. In the old laird's journal is found this 
entry written on the day of the funeral : 

" October 8th. At half ane hour after six in the 
morning, the Dear Boy my Grandson Laurence Oliphant 
dyed. . . . All these distempers seem's to have proceeded 
from teething: four appear'd the week before he dyed 
and other five were pushing but he fail'd in strength 
to bring them out. I grudge much that he got not in 
time Medicines. He was buried in the Church of St 
Jacque in Corbeil." 

The father of this little child, in his own notes, written 
years after, sums up the pathetic story of the first years 
of his marriage : 

" 1755. I was married to an agreeable Consort, my 
vowes were heard, a son was given us to the joy of all 
the six Parents. We doated too much on him, he was 
taken from us, yet Blessed be the Lord. . . . Grief insued 
and in me immoderate. I found fault therefor I offended, 
it hurt my health. ... I was a heaviness to my self and 
others, yet in time it was turned to my good and helped 
to detach me from the world." 

His father in a letter to one of the Drummonds 
describes the pitiful state of the parents : 

" The distress our family has been in for these seven 
months past. Not long after the poor child's death, his 
Father took a lingering fever, which brought him very 


low, so that we had our fears for him ; his wife has been 
in a drooping way for several weeks, but is now, I thank 
God, much better." 

Thus Margaret Oliphant, at seventeen, had won the 
most poignant experience life can hold, a clouding of her 
bright skies that all the coming years of full and happy 
life as wife and mother could never quite clear away. 
For five years the cradle was empty. 

The next family event was the marriage in the 
Swedish chapel at Paris of Janet Oliphant to William 
Macgregor Drummond of Balhaldie. Her father writes 
to Condie, 6th January 1758 : 

"I inform you by this that my Daughter and 
Balhaldie had taken a liking to each other which they 
signified to the Mother and me. We had a good opinion 
of the man and as she has been deprived of her portion, 
which we told him and his answer being that it was not 
the portion but the woman he wanted, the proposal was 
agreed to, and they were marryed by the form of our 
church at Paris the first of this month." 

The bridegroom was in reality the Chief of the great 
Clan M'Gregor. 1 The name of Drummond had been 
assumed when the law came into force which robbed the 
Jacobites even of their ancient names. Having acted for 
years as the chief Jacobite agent in France, he had been 
excepted from the Act of Pardon of 1747. His earlier 
years had been passed as a Jacobite agent 2 between 
Scotland and Italy. He had fought at Sheriffmuir, 
playing his part well, and was left stranded, with broken 
health and fortunes, now that the tide of success had 
ebbed. He was twenty-three years older than his bride 
Janet Oliphant, who was, however, no longer in her first 
youth. Her father writes that the marriage put him 

1 His mother was Mary Cameron of Lochiel. 

2 Charles Edward slept at Balhaldie's house in Dunblane on llth September 
1745, the same day that he breakfasted at Gask. Balhaldie was abroad, but 
Lochiel, his first cousin, did the honours. From his house in Paris David Balfour 
and Catriona Macgregor are supposed to have married in R. L. Stevenson's 


to a little expense in providing her with necessaries that 
were "absolutely needful, and everything turned ex- 
travagantly dear." Janet's wedding dress was supplied 
by Madam Finot a gown and coat of " Dauphine noire 
et rouge," costing 221 francs. 

Again the shadow of sorrow and bereavement was to 
cloud the exiles' path. There are but one or two glimpses 
of Janet after her marriage. When she had been married 
a month she wrote one little letter to her mother, and 
another in May both are on the interesting topic of 
Balhaldie's cough. On 7th October her child was born 
at Corbeil, a boy, who received the names Alexander 
John William Oliphant. 1 

The following gives some details of the baby's out- 

" Fine muslin for his linnings. 

Lawn and edgering. 

Hyre of the ass that brought his nurse. 

Flowered red ribbon. 

Makeing two scullscaps and a pair of mittons lined 

with furr. 

A pair stays to him. 
Buckles and a rattle. 

9 J ells check and a pair of green silk leaders. 
A quilled cap. 
For a little chair to him. 
Some stampt cotton for a clock to him. 
Putting feet to his new cradle." 

The trousseau cost ninety-four francs. The last sad 
little entry, in December, tells its own story. 

" A black ribbon to him." 

" The first three days she seemed in a fair way of 
recovery," writes her mother on 2nd December ; " but 

1 He succeeded to the Balhaldie estate on the death of his father in 1765. 
He was brought up at Inchbrakie, entered the array, and was a captain in the 
56th Regiment of Foot. He was distinguished for gallant conduct at the capture 
of Martinique and Guadeloupe, and died in the West Indies of " military fatigue " 
in 1794. He married, in 25th December 1781, his cousin Mary Drummond 
Macgregor, daughter of Donald Drummond of New York, and left five sons and 
four daughters. William, his eldest son, born 1782, was an ensign in his father's 
regiment at the age of fourteen. 


ever since that has been feverish . . . she is turned very 
weak, so that God only knows what the event may be, 
we still hope for the best . . . the child is very thriving." 

She died 8th December. 

" Her Body was carry 'd in a fitt machine attended by 
the Earl of Nairne, her Father, and brother and Mr 
Duncan Robertson of Strowan in a Remise Coach and 
interred the llth in the Protestant Burying place in 
Paris near the Port of St Martin. The King's order 
of the 9th Dec. was obtained for burying her there 
without molestation by the way." 

Life must have settled to a sadder level in these days 
for the old laird. Margaret and the children he had 
never seen, were far away at her home in Scotland, the 
little grandson was dead, and now Janet was dead, and 
distant as ever seemed the prospect of the pardon that 
should restore him to his own country, there to live out 
his last few years. One comfort remained, the cheering 
presence and spirited counsels of Amelie, who would 
never let hope die, or own defeat. How often must she 
have reminded him that the dear lands of Gask were still 
his. The following letter to Condie, to whose hands 
affairs at Gask were confided, shows how wistfully 
thoughts went homewards : 

" I hope you will take all the care possible of preserv- 
ing the old house, if the furniture that remains will not 
absolutely keep, you will inform Mrs Whytt and she will 
send an order to have it disposed of, but you know what 
a difference there is betwixt buying and selling. The 
House of Duplin is a much damper situation and there has 
been no family living in it for many years. Could there 
be no method fallen upon to preserve ours in the same 
way? . . Everything should be carryed out of the low 
drawing-room, this I imagine might do, with the addition 
of a friend going now and then to indulge a melancholy 
thought in these Auld Avenues, once delightful groves." 

Amelie must have been at her husband's side with 
encouragement and approval when he drew up the paper, 


" What I resolve to do, with the Help of God, if I ever 
return to Scotland," giving a list of all the simple, wise, 
generous measures he meant to take. Thirteen years had 
passed since he looked his last on the lands of Gask. 

The tedium of life at Corbeil, and elsewhere in France 
where the Perthshire Jacobite families were gathered, was 
relieved in 1759, not indeed by good tidings, but by the 
necessity of combined action in saving young Charles 
Nairne, son of Lord Nairne, from the consequences of 
his folly. Charles, like many of the young exiles, was 
serving in the Scots Brigade in the Dutch service, and 
managed to get into mischief, as the following letters will 
show. The first two are written by Mrs Johnstone, an old 
friend, a relative of the Nairnes and Oliphants. She was 
Jean Hollo, 1 daughter of the fourth Lord Hollo, and 
married her cousin Robert Johnstone of Wamphray. 

Mrs Johnstone wrote from Breda, 13th August 1759, 
to Lady Gask : 

" MY DEAR MADAME I had the pleasure of a letter 
from you some time ago which was extremely acceptable 
as it gave me agreeable accounts of you and all my other 
friends. I must now inform your Ladyship that your 
nephew Mr Charles Nairn joined the Regiment some 
months ago and has thought proper to give marriage 
lines to a Low triffeling Creature in this town, and by 
the law of this country nothing can stop the marriage but 
an absolute refusal from his Father; as soon as I heard 
of his marriage I sent for him and Mr Johnstone and 
I did all in our power to persuade him to the contrary. 
Colonel Mackay having great interest in the town has 
got the magistrates to delay the marriage till a letter 
comes from my Lord Nairne ; which I daresay he'll write 
his son Charles discharging him in the strongest terms to 
marry, and that he'll never see him etc. and any little 
money he has hell take it from him (for it seems Charles 
told them he has money independent of his Father) her 
Mother keeps a little shop, one of her Brothers is a 
common Cannoneer the other apprentice to a copper- 
smith. What a disgrace he proposes to bring upon 

1 Jean Rollo was born in Edinburgh Castle in May 1717, ber father, the 
fourth lord, being then imprisoned there. 


his Friends. At the same time I desire my Lord to 
write a letter to Mr Johnstone in french thanking 
Colonel Mackay and beging he'll use his interest with 
the magistrates to stop the intended marriage, and at 
the same time if the Colonel would get him his pension 
and send him over to Scotland. . . . Now my Dr Madam 
I have informed you of the whole affaire, you must not 
lose a moment . . . y most aff. etc. 


" P.S. The woman's name is Ida Boskaam." 

Mrs Johnstone writes again to Lady Gask, 4th October 
1759 :- 

" MY DEAR MADAM, In my last I gave you an account 
of the begening of your Nephew Mr Nairn's unlucky 
affair, I'm sorrow I cannot inform you its ended, for poor 
Charles is like to meet with a great dell of trouble besides 
expense, Mr Johnstone got it put off till Mr Nairne 
should receive his Fathers Answer as soon as he got my 
Lords Letter, he resolved to be off with it, and said he 
never would do any thing against his Fathers Commands, 
beside he now finds what a Sad Creature she is, by taking 
all advantages of him, made him buy her Cloths, would 
not return him mony he gave her to Keep &c. &c. upon 
this I imaditly got him to leve the house, and since that 
time he has not seen her, she finding he was wishing to 
get off with it, summonds Charles befor the Grand Court 
Marchall at the Hague to make him perform his promiss 
of Marrage, he received a short time ago a leter from the 
Court Marchall, ordering him to give his Reasons for not 
marring her, Mr Nairne was extremly alarm'd at this, 
brought the letter to Mr Johnstone, the Captain imployd 
a Lawer to draw up his petition in form, and in the 
throughest manner showd them the unequalness of the 
match, his being allied to the Prince of Orange, translated 
my Lords Letter into Duck, wherein he discharg'd him 
to marrie her wrote to General Marjoribanks, and got 
a gentleman to speak to the President of the grand Court 
Marchall, in his favours. Charles had a tree of the 

1 It has been found necessary to tone down Jane Johnstone's spelling, as it 
renders her meaning obscure. She died in London in 1780. Her husband out- 
lived her only six weeks. 


Familly of Atholl by him, which I carried to the Prince 
of Hess Philipsdall our Governor, and told him, as Mr 
Nairne was my Blood Relation I interested my self very 
much in his afair, showd his Highness the tree of the 
famelly and begd him to write to the Prince of 
Wolfenbattle in his favours which he did, but we are 
still afread, as the Laws of the Country are very severe ; 
I assure you my dear Madam I have done every thing 
in my power for him, & Mr Johnstone has Left no Stone 
unturnd, to save him from being Rewend. 

"My reason of writing just now is, you'll imadilly 
forward this Letter to My L. Nairne with my Kind 
compliments, I desire his Lordship to go to Paris, and 
aske of the Great people at Court that is his friend, 
to go with him to the Dutch Ambasadure Barren 
Berkenrode, and tell him the story of his son, and beg of 
him to write to the Grand Court Marchall, or the Prince 
of Wolfenbattle or any body that the Ambasadure thinks 
most proper to get a bill of Reliffe from his promes of 
marrage, (of which there is saveral excempels in this 
Country when the match is unequal) this doing will free 
Charles at wan strock and save all the expenses of the 
Court which I'm told is very high. 

" It is thought necessary incase the presses goes on, 
that the inclosd must be made out in form by a Notary 
Publick and signed by my Lord Nairne & two witnesses 
and Returned back to Mr Johnstone. 

" Your Ladyship inquerd Kindly after my son in your 
last he is in this Country a fine Litle fellow as can be, 
he speaks the Dutch perfetly and begins to understand 
the french. My litle doughter is with Mama, them two 
is all my familly, your Cusson my Lady Rollo, is very 
well, she was at Duncrub with us all the sumer befor I 
left Scotland my father Mother & the extreme good 
friends, her Ladyship comes to Duncrub at Whitsunday 
& my mother goes to Masterfield, my Lord my Brother 
is at Liensburg, Lieut : Colonel to Whitmors Regt : 
his son a tall hansome young fellow with his eldest Lieut : 
& Quartermaster in the same Regt : I beg to be 
remembered in the Kindest manner to all my friends 
with you, and remains with all regaird & esteem My 
Dear Madam your most affect & most Humble Sert 


" Breda, 4th Oct. 1769." 


Clementina Nairne, Lord Nairne's daughter, writes 
to Mrs Oliphant from Sancerre, 20th October 1759 : 

" DEAR AUNT, My Pappa desires me to answer 
your last letter ... he begs you will returne Mrs 
Johnstone and the Cap : a thousand thanks for theire 
trouble about Brother Charles, but as for Pappas making 
gurnay of a hundred Leagues to Paris is what he cannot 
think off, nor if he could afford the expence and trouble 
he has little hopes of having any interest with the Duck 
Ambassadure as for the paper to be made out by a Notary 
Publick and signed by him, wherein he would engage 
both his person and biens to pay the expenses of the Law 
sute at the Hague is what he will never agree too. . . . 
We have drunk all your healths in Arach Punch after 
eating part of the best and fatest hind I ever saw in 
france. . . I ever am Your Aff. neace and Humble 
Sarvant CLE. NAIRNE." 

Mrs Johnstone writes, again 12th December 1759, to 
Mrs Oliphant: 

" Mr Johnstone is very vexd that letter I demanded 
from the Dutch Ambasador is not come to hand for poor 
Charles has got another summons to appear so nothing 
now can save him from being forced to Marray her but 
a letter from Mr Berzenrode the Dutch Ambassador to 
some of his friends in Holland. . . . For Gods sake 
Madam if his Father has a mind to do anything for him, 
lose not a moment." 

The whole family now set to work to try and save 
Charles from the toils of Ida Boskaam. Endless letters 
were written, endless arguments brought forward which 
should convince the Dutch authorities of the impossibility 
of the marriage. Amongst those who helped in this cause, 
or took part in the discussion, was the Due de Bouillon, 
the Comte D'Aftry, French Ambassador to the States 
General, Lord Ogilvy, Principal Gordon, Prince Louis of 
Brunswick Wolfenbuttel, and of course all the families 
of Oliphant, Drummond, Robertson, and Murray. The 
affair ended in Lord Nairne finding the money to buy Ida 


off. In his circumstances, which were poor to a degree, 
it was a hardship. 

" I suspected from the beginning of Charles's Affair," 
he wrote in February to young Gask, " that I would be 
brought to bear the burden I have sent you a bill on 
Scotland payable to Mr Silvein for 3000." 

Perhaps the soothing reply from his cousin was a 
comfort : 

" Your Lordship, though you lost your fortune in your 
Country's Cause, has by a blessing from above* upon your 
being in your Duty, never wanted, and the making this 
effort to extricate your son will, I dare venture to say, 
never make you poorer in the end, and the reflection 
on a good deed will give you pleasure within." 

The receipt of this money by the Boskaams does not 
seem to have closed the incident at once, as Mrs Johnstone 
writes again to Mrs Oliphant, 27th September 1760 : 


"The Regiment march'd to this place and Mr Johnstone 
managed matters so that he got liberty for Mr Nairne to 
go to Scotland. As soon as Ida Boskaam heard of his 
being gone to Scotland she applied to the Court Martial 
who got an order to make him return from Scotland till 
she was satisfied which order is sent him. Upon this 
order coming Mr Johnstone wrote to his advocate at 
the Hague desiring him to ... acquaint Ida Boskaam's 
lawyers that since he was gone to Scotland perhaps his 
friends would not let him return so she would lose every- 
thing and better take six or eight hundred guilders as 
risque that. Her answer was she would take nothing less 
than twelve hundred Guilders, or be married." 

Willy Drummond writes to Laurence Oliphant in 
the same year : 

"We never had heard anything of that foolish affair of 
poor Charly Nairne. I have no doubt of Mrs Johnstone 
behaving as she did, as she was the means of stopping 
just such another affair he had brought upon himself 
about 6 or 7 years ago." 


The too susceptible Charles Nairne retired from the 
Dutch service and lived at Silverwells, Perthshire, where 
he died in 1795, and was buried at Auchtergaven. He 
never married. 

Sometimes the loyal hearts of the exiles were comforted 
by messages from King James. In 1760 the King was 
pleased to send the old laird the Patent of the Peerage 
he had conferred upon him, in recognition of his services. 


"James the eight, by the grace of God, King of 
Scotland, England, France and Ireland, Defender of the 
Faith ; whereas we are fully sensible of the constant duty 
and attachment of our trusty and well-beloved Laurence 
Oliphant of Gask and of his family towards us, of which 
they have given us many and distinguished proofs, and 
in consequence of which the said Laurence and his Son 
are both attainted by the present usurpation . . . we have 
therefore thought it proper to confer and bestow on him 
and the heirs male of his family the title and honour of 
Lord Oliphant. . . . Given at our Court of Rome the 
fourteenth day of July 1760 and of our reign the fifty- 
ninth year. J. R." 1 

With the Patent came a letter from Lord Alford (Sir 
John Graeme), the King's Secretary, which requests Gask 
not to use his new title "untill a proper time when it 
may be of advantage to you." 5 The time never came. 

"My son is always in a ticklish state of health." 
Amelie writes. It was decided to try a change of 
climate, and the little party, the old laird and his lady, 
young Laurence and his wife Margaret, left Corbeil in 
the autumn of 1761, and went for two years to Charleville 
on the Meuse. The Robertsons of Strowan had moved in 
the same year to Givet, to be nearer their sons Alexander 
and Colyear, who were serving in the Dutch service. 

1 The document in full, with a quaintly inaccurate genealogical sketch, is 
given in the Jacobite Lairds, p. 311. 

* In mentioning his titles to the Peerage of Oliphant years later, Gask put 
in as fourth claim, " By a permission from the present King, in a letter dated 
Rome, 8th June 1751, which I intend not to use till I see my Country happy 
under their lawful! Princes." 


In the old Castle of Bouillon, within ten miles of 
Charleville, Prince Charles Edward had taken up his 
abode. " De vivre et pas vivre est beaucoup plus que de 
mourir" the scrap of his writing sums up better than 
pages of explanation the state of his mind and of his 
fortunes. He was alone. Clementina Walkinshaw had 
deserted him at last, and in her flight to Paris had carried 
away his only child. It is hard to picture the life he 
made for himself: hunting in the forest of Ardennes to 
pass the long hopeless days, receiving now and again 
groups of these faithful Scottish gentlemen to whom he 
still represented all that remained of hope for the future, 
and who helped him to believe still that he was designed 
for some splendid fate. To the grim castle came the 
two Oliphants among others. They, also, were not happy, 
as the lights of life were lowered one by one in griefs and 
disappointments. Above all, the health of the younger 
man was a never-ceasing anxiety. The following words, 
written when he was an old man, reflect the state of his 
mind and body at this time: 

" Vapours and discontent continued while surrounded 
with comforts amusements and blessings. The manage- 
ment of my Fathers mony was given me, Horses and a 
chaise were provided and no expense grudged for my 
health and amusement, yet sharp was my temper as a 
razor ; Meg a vext me ; I fretted at her, at all the family 
and at every servant, often was I sullen (distress con- 
tributing) yet the Lord spared me. Meg . . . was seduced 
to change her religion and carry'd off to a convent which 
encreased my Shagreen, my health suffered, insensible 
of my happy state. . . . We went North to Flanders, 
my Parents thinking it for my health, were honoured 
and caressed by the Inhabitants, had particular marks 
of regard from our Prince in the neighbourhood, yet 
vapours remained." 

At about this time Robert Forbes, Bishop of Ross 

1 Meg was a young girl brought from Scotland in 1756 by Mrs Oliphant. 
She seems to have been employed at Corbeil in household work, but she was a 
near relation of the family. She gave a great deal of trouble and ran away, 
entering an English convent in Paris. Afterwards she married in France and 
had children. 


and Caithness, began to be a regular correspondent of 
the Oliphant family. Forbes, who was born in 1708, 
was the son of a schoolmaster in Aberdeenshire, and was 
ordained as an Episcopal clergyman in 1735. Through- 
out his life he was an ardent Jacobite, suffering imprison- 
ment at Stirling in the '45. His later years were passed 
in furthering one scheme after another to restore the 
Stewarts. He is chiefly known as the collector and 
compiler of the Lyon in Mourning. 

Bishop Gordon was his chief correspondent, but 
between both these bishops and the Oliphants there 
existed a strong bond of sympathy. It was at this time 
that they formed a double plan to further the Stewart 
interests, to obtain Prince Charles's consent to declare 
himself a Protestant, 1 and to marry him to a wife of the 
same faith. 

A brave beginning was made in 1762, when the old 
laird drew up the following document 2 to the dictation 
of the Prince : 

"Assure my friends in Britain that I am in perfect 
good health ; and that they must not lose hopes for that 
I expect all things will go well. That I hope it will 
come some day like a Thunderbolt ; and that I shall 
not neglect to recompense every worthy subject as soon 
as it shall be in my power, which I hope will be soon. 
They may be assured I shall live and die in the religion 
of the Church of England which I have embraced, and 
that no Kind thing can be said but what I wish to all 
my Dear friends, for whose good I wish more to be 
amongst them, than for any advantage it would be to 
myself, as I have no great ambition except for their 

This was written by Cask entirely at the desire of 
the Prince himself. When the writing was finished, 
the Prince asked him to read it over and said : " It is 

1 Though the action was not made public, the Prince had adopted the 
Protestant creed in 1750. It is said he was admitted to the Anglican communion 
in the New Church in the Strand in 1753. See Life of Charles Edward Stewart, 
by Andrew Lang, p. 365. 

2 Printed in the Lyon in Mourning and in the Jacobite Lairds, p. 322. 


very well." He then desired to read it himself, and 
having done so said : " It is perfectly right. Let it 
be sent as it is." 

So far the schemes promised well ; the creed settled, 
the question of the wife must now be taken in hand. 
This proved a long business, and the occasion of a long 
correspondence between Amelie Oliphant and the Bishop. 

One or two letters on family and domestic events 
at this time, are here given. 

Margaret writes to her father Strowan in 1759 : 

" I am glad you begin to have a good opinion of the 
Invasion. I dare say it is what won't be attempted with- 
out a proper quarter-master, and one who knows the 
language, when that happens, you will be present to take 
care of your own affairs and enlarge your claims : that 
business is mismanaged when people are absent and their 
backs at the wa', is what we are all too well acquainted 

" If I do not prove a good wife, as you wish I may, 
it will not be for want of two as good examples as, I 
do not say France, but even Scotland affords : and had 
1 been so unhappy as to have had neither, the letter you 
gave me 4 years ago would still have kept my duty 
in my eye : and sure I must be a perfect shrew if I am 
an ill wife to the husband kind Providence has bestowed 
on me. Your dutiful daughter and most humble and 
obedient servant, M. OLIPHANT." 

Young Laurence writes to Symon Oliphant of Condie, 
29th January 1761, a letter of congratulation on the 
birth of a daughter. 1 His young wife, Margaret Oliphant, 
adds a line " To Lady Condie." 

" Without having the pleasure of being personaly 
acquainted with you, dear Madam, permit me to wish 
you all the Joy the three happyest States in Life (a wife 
a Mother and a Nurse) can give. Accept at the same 
time my acknowledgments for the honour you do me 

1 Margaret, who became the wife of the ninth Laird of Inchbrakie. Laurence 
Oliphant of Condie and Grizel Murray had a family of three sons and four 
daughters. The two eldest boys died, one on the 10th and one on the 13th 
November 1769. See p. 287. 


in giving me the Name of my little Cousin. I assure 
you, I am not a little flattered with it, especially as she 
is the Daughter of Persons for whom I have so much 
esteem. It would be very ingrate in me not to be 
sensible of and thankfull for the care and trouble her 
Papa takes in managing the Affairs of the Family." 

Margaret writes to her mother : 


" Sept. 27 1761. 

"DEAR MAMA, As this will probably be the last 
letter you will receive from us dated Paris, I was resolved 
to say something, tho' when I sat down I knew not what, 
but to begin Balhaldy and his son were here taking their 
leave, and stay'd 10 days, Sandy is every way the finest 
boy ever I knew of his age and very healthy. Balhaldy 
never mentioned to any of this family what he intended 
about sending him home so I believe it is quite uncertain, 
but he says his sister you mention'd has nothing in her 
power more than the rest. We were yesterday seeing the 
Dames pass in their way from Plombiers, the Dauphiness l 
and their other 2 Sisters pass'd in the morning and din'd 
with them some place without the Town, so we saw them 
all about in Doctor Hosty's Coach with his Wife, who 
is the best little woman I believe in France. Stanislas 2 
is just now at Versailes, and they speak of a marriage 
between the King of Spain 3 & M me Victoire so I think 
this is all my news, but that we, I mean Gask, Lady Gask 
and your hum : Ser*, intend to set out from this Wednes- 
day ye 14th Oct. being a week after Mr Oliphant. Adieu 
D r Mama, M. O." 

Margaret Graeme of Inchbrakie writes to Lady Gask, 
18th January 1762 : 

" There has been more deaths than marriages in our 
neighbourhood for some time past. Honest old Antony 4 
and his good companion slipt off within 14 days of others, 
but to make some amends his Grand Daughter has a 

1 Maria Josepha, Princess of Saxony, second wife of the Dauphin. She 
died 1767. 

2 Ex-King of Poland, Ruler of Lorraine. 

3 Charles III. 

4 Anthony Murray of Dollerie. 


young son, to the no small joy of his Papa. ... I hope 
I shall soon hear of a third young Laird & Cousin." 

Young Laurence writes to congratulate Condie on the 
birth of his heir, 12th March 1762, and announces his own 
hopes of another child. 

Lord Alford wrote, 1st June 1762, from Rome : 

" I told the good news to the King who ordered me 
to make you and all concerned a kind compliment upon 
this occasion." 

Margaret Graeme writes to her mother, 31st March 
1761 : 

" Monzie has changed its master once more my Lords 
nephew who was married to Miss Poly Stirling dyed at 
Ardoch, never being able to come the length of his own 
town, and him they call mickle Mungo succeeds, his 
son is in the Dutch service." 

Of all the Oliphant correspondence of this time the 
most striking is the letter 1 written by the younger Gask 
to Lord Alford at Rome on 9th September 1762. 

" MY LORD, As I know it will be agreeable, I write 
this to inform your Ld that my Mother and Wife set 
out from this the 7th Aug. went by water to Namure 
arrived at Flushing ye 25th, to which place Captain 
Robertson, Strowans brother, conducted them ; luckily 
ye Yaucht did not sail till next day, ye 26th aboard 
which they went with a fair wind at 5 in ye morning and 
landed at Dover by 4 o'clock ye same evening and arrived 
at London by the flying coach ye 27th. My Wife made 
out the voyage extremely well. 1 have heard nothing 
from Scotland for a great while ; I believe, if possible the 
Ladies will be tempted to go that length. . . . 

"... I hear frequently of the health of a certain 
person in this neighbourhood ; he is very well, but his 
situation is most dismal ; a P. in the flower of his age, 
without Company, no turn to books, nothing to think on 
but his melancholy situation. O my Dr Friend, might 
I conjure you to get something done to bring him out of 

1 This letter and the following are printed in the Jacobite Lairds, p. 333. 




it. These are matters I do not like to presume to medle 
in, but it makes the heart bleed to think on the way he 
is in, if nobody will attempt to get him satisfied, how 
melancholy is the prospect. Your Rank, my Lord, puts 
it in your power to do a great deal ; for God's sake think 
seriously upon it and atempt it; no doubt Mr Alex. 
Murray would acquaint you with the answer was delivered 
me to a letter I carry 'd from him to the P. 

" ' Tell him that he may write Mr Campbell for answer, 
that I will come into no Scheimes with the Court of France 
or my Country people, till such time as my Daughter is 
restored and Satisfaction given me for the affront of carry- 
ing her off'. . . .' 

" Is there no possibility of the Child's being sent back 
to make up matters ? No one sure would think it too 
great a condescension when there is so much at Stake ; 
two days ago I went with another letter, the answer was 
' That though there should be a thousand letters writ, and a 
thousand people should come, it was all to no purpos as his 
Resolution was taken.' 

" Is the Heir to the Crown to be left in such a state, 
because he put on a Resolution perhaps too rashly, and 
pushes it too far? Surely your L p . cannot be of that 
opinion. . . . You know His natural sweetness of temper 
and several that have been with him during his Incognito, 
especially Mr Murray, have told me often he does not 
know any one thing about ye P. that he could wish 
different, except a tendency to ye Bottle ; and Mr Stewart 
that is with him just now (and very lucky it is that he 
has so faithful and worthy a lad about him) told me only 
two days ago that he continues to have as fine a sweet 
temper as possible, and no one vice ; as to the drinking he 
says that anyone who knew him thoroughly would find 
there was very little in that ; for what it would take to 
quench another's thirst affects Him, which hinders it from 
hurting his health, and that the P. has told him often 
that he knew very well that it was wrong, and that if 
his situation was altered, he would give it up, but at 
present a Glass now and then helped to pass the time 
which hung very heavy on him ; for some weeks passd 
Mr Stewart told me he has given up drinking any Vin 
de Liqueur after meals, and lives regularly and rarely 


" I have, my Dr Lord, given you my thoughts freely 
on this very important Subject, and though the form and 
expressions may not be proper, hope you will find the 
intention good, and be assured that 1 am with the greatest 
respect and friendship, My Ld, Etc." 

Lord Alford's answer to this was very naturally a 
reproof. It is always to be regretted that Laurence saw 
fit to write the last part of the letter. 

" I suppressed your letter," writes Alford, " for fear of 
making you incur the Kings displeasure. Let me beg of 
you to beware of meddling in this critical conjuncture, and 
of advancing such topics as those contained in the ex- 
clamatory part of your letter. The course you propose 
would widen the breach in place of shutting it.'* 

In 1761 Amelie Oliphant, with her husband, son, and 
daughter-in-law, went for some months to Paris. Margaret 
writes as follows to her mother, Mrs Robertson, at Givet : 

" PARIS, 12 May 1761. 

" DEAR MAMA, You will easily believe it is our being 
much hurried with first packing & removing, and then 
unpacking, has made you so long of hearing from us. 
Gask, Lady Gask, & I left Corbeil tuesday the fifth. Mr 
Oliphant came here on horseback the day before, aD 
arived in pretty good health, except colds that Gask and 
Mr Oliphant catch'd by the way. Lady Gask was like- 
ways much fatigued. Lady Gask & I drank Tea with 
her Grace the Dutchess of Hamilton 1 Friday last, 
she came to France in the beginning of winter for 
the recovery of her health along with her Husband, 
(who since the death of the D. of Argyle is called 
Marquis of Lorn, his Father having taken the Title 
of Duke) and her daughter Lady Betty, 2 she has one 

1 Elizabeth Gunning, one of the celebrated beauties. Married in 14th February 
1752 to the sixth Duke of Hamilton. He died in 1758. Their children were 
Elizabeth, born 1753 ; James George, seventh Duke of Hamilton, born 1755 ; 
Douglas, eighth duke, born 1756. The Duchess married again, in 1759, John, 
Marquis of Lome, afterwards fifth Duke of Argyll. Their children were Augusta, 
born 31st March 1760 ; George, born 1768, who died the next year ; another son, 
George, afterwards sixth Duke of Argyll ; John, seventh duke, and Charlotte 
Susan Maria, born 1775- 

2 Elizabeth, then aged eight. She was heiress to her brothers the seventh 
and eighth Dukes of Hamilton. In 1 774 she married Edward, twelfth Earl of Derby, 
and died in 1797. Six weeks after her death Lord Derby married Miss Farreu, 
the well-known actress 




Daughter J of the second marriage ; it seems she has never 
been well since she lay in of her. Lady Coventry 2 died 
about the same time which made it still harder upon her 
Grace ; she is very thin and they say does not look near 
so well as before. I certainly think I have seen Women 
both in Scotland & in France handsomer, 3 Lady Betty 
is not at all pretty but like her Father's Family. Dr 
Hope who presented us to the Dutchess has done poor 
Mrs Hollo a good turn, it seems their affairs were going 
wrong at Sens so she came to Paris some months ago 
with an intention to perfection herself in manteau making 
and follow her business. Mr Hope was so good as 
acquaint Dutchess Hamilton with her story, her Fathers 
being executed, &c. She who as Mr Hope says desires 
nothing more than to do good to her Country people, 
immediately said she wou'd take Mrs Hollo in the ship 
with her (which waits her at Callais) give her her pro- 
tection. Mr Hope is to carry her in a coach with him 
to Callais, as he too is going to Britain, so if Mrs Hollo 
knows her trade she need never want good bread, her 
husband and two daughters stay behind, so much for 
them. Adieu &c. &c. &c., M. O." 

Some months were passed in Paris, but when there 
were definite hopes of another child in the Gask house- 
hold, it was decided once more that Amelie and Margaret 
should go to Scotland for the event. Mr Whytt and Mr 
Brown were left at Charleville. By the end of October 
the two reached Gask. It must have been Margaret's 
first view of this beloved place, the home of her husband, 
and the promised land which engrossed all the wistful 
thoughts of those dearest to her in exile. She wrote to 
her husband, dating her letter from the Old Hall, then the 

1 Lady Augusta Campbell, born 31st March 1760, married Colonel Henry 
Clavering. She died 22nd June 1831, leaving issue. Another daughter was 
Lady Charlotte Susan Maria Campbell, born 18th February 1775. She married 
John Campbell, 21st June 1796, and second, 1818, Rev. E. J. Bury. 

2 Lady Coventry was Maria Gunning, said to have been the most beautiful of 
the sisters. She was born 1733. She married within three weeks of her sister 
Elizabeth, in 1752, the sixth Earl of Coventry, and died in 1760, leaving five 

3 This is also the opinion of Horace Walpole, who in describing the Gunnings 
called them " Two Irish girls of no fortune, who are declared the handsomest 
women alive. I think there being two so handsome and both such perfect figures is 
their chief excellence, for singly I have seen much handsomer women than 
either." (Letters to Sir Horace Mann.) 


name by which Gask House had long been known. The 
letter has disappeared, but Mr Brown's reply carries a 
reminder of the youthfulness of Margaret, who had now 
been a wife for seven years, and was twenty-two. 

" I hope now you are runing about through the fir 
park, down to the denn, up to the barns and byers or 
perhaps playing hide and seek in the Serpentine walk and 
thicket with Lady Bunzian and Miss Jeany Graeme. 
Well, hand ye merry till I see you." 1 

On 22nd October 1762 a daughter was born at Gask, 
Marjory Ann Mary. The person entrusted with the task 
of sending the longed-for news to the father and grand- 
father at Charleville omitted to mention either the sex, 
or the date of birth. These details were not received until 
21st November. Young Laurence writes to his wife : 

" Your Gazet, as you call it, was most agreeable. I 
must begin with commending you for a fine clever wife, 
and hope since you are adroit, you will practice often 
and fill the dining-room at last." 

This seems the right place to give the list of the 
children of Laurence and Margaret Oliphant. 

1. Laurence, born in London 20th September 1756, 

died at Corbeil 8th October 1757. 

2. Marjory Ann Mary, born at Gask 22nd October 

1762, married Dr Alexander Stewart of Bonskeid 
November 1799, died 19th June 1819. 

3. Amelia Ann Sophia, born at Gask 19th August 

1765, married Charles Steuart of Dalguise 2nd 
July 1794, died 9th April 1808. 

4. Carolina, 2 born at Gask 16th August 1766, married, 

June 1806, William, fifth Lord Nairne, died 
at Gask 27th October 1845. 

5. Laurence, eighth Laird of Gask, born 29th April 

1768 at Gask, married, 1st November 1795, 

1 Jacobite Lairds, p. 328. 

2 In the Family Bible this birth is recorded, " Carolina, after the King." 
Charles Edward had been the titular King since 1st January of this year. 


Christian Robertson of Ardblair, died in Paris 
6th July 1819 and was buried in Pere la Chaise. 

6. Margaret Euphemia Janet Chariot Alexandria, 

born at Gask 29th July 1770, married, April 
1811, to Alexander Keith of Ravelston, died 
10th September 1847. 

7. Charles, born at Gask 8th June 1772, died at 

Gask 23rd July 1797. 

The first accounts of Margaret's recovery were good, 
but soon her husband had reason to be alarmed. He 
writes in his journal : 

" When but recovering cold and fatigue brought upon 
her a disorder which was succeeded by a delirium, yet 
the Lord shewed us wonderful mercy and loving kind- 
ness. The Tidings came to Charleville. I heasted to 
see her and no accidents or obstructions came in the way. 
After seventeen years absence, I again pressed my native 
soil and the roof of my hospital ancestors received me. 
Bless Him who brings poor exiles home. Joy at my 
arrival gave a new relaps to my wife's distress. My 
Mother's anxiety of mind and fatigue of body were very 
great, yet she fainted not. . . . My humour was bad. I 
heightened by it my Mother's distress. I was vexed to 
think from the clatters of the country that I should be 
supposed to be here by the permission of the powers that 
are. ..." 

The young laird had come home without the pardon 
after all ; Margaret's danger put aside all other considera- 
tions ; but as a matter of fact there was politically little 
risk at the moment. Home was sweet, and only one 
member of the little group was far away, the old laird, 
still near his Prince at Charleville. 

" My Mother notwithstanding my Father's frequent 
writing that we should return to him pressed that I 
would stay, and she would go and see to bring home my 
Father. Very reluctant I was, to think of leaving our 
Prince and a Land where we lived at ease and freedom 
near him, anu could avow our Principals. The change 
of diet to my Parents, to live without the freedom even 


to transact our own privat affairs etc. etc. All these 
crowded in upon me, I was much difficulted, I ventured 
to cast Lots, with a petition, as I had of late practised, 
being often embarassed, and it came up 'Yes.'" 

In June Amelie set off again on the long, well-known 
journey, with all its fatigues and risks. 

"My Mother went to joyn her Husband and was 
safly convoyed to him at Charleville. 

" During the season my wife and I drank Goat Whey 
at Callander . . . her health was confirmed, and we 
enjoyed the company of a dear friend, the Elect Lady. 1 

"1763. My Father and Mother arrived in safety. 
His coming was approved off by his King and Prince, 
and their situation since has shown we did nothing 

"Nov. 12. My Father arrived at Cask, what a 
tender and indulgent parent and guardian he has been 
to me, my Mother how affectionate. Ten times did 
she cross the Chanel out of love to her husband, me and 
mine, though for many years before distressed, and rarely 
stirring from home. She traveled in her old age and 
wasted her strength for us, she wearied not, she with 
great assiduity and anxiety gathered together her family 
and seated them in their old habitation procured by her, 
she applyd for her jointure to add to their subsistence, 
all her endeavours were crowned with success. . . . Thus 
the gratious Lord brought comfort out of distress. Much 
did my wife's illness grieve us all, heavy was it espatialy 
upon my Parents, yet it brought about what they wished 
very much, their return to their own country, and he 
added to it that they found her in health." 

So ended the seventeen years of banishment. Poor, 
discouraged, attainted, all that remained of the family 
group gathered again in the little grey house, whence 
they had set off in such gallant array, in "top spirits," 
full of eager enterprise, full of resolution, afire with the 
rapture of action in a cherished cause. Now with wild 
hopes turned into darkened memories, with quenched 

1 Mary Nairne, the sister of Amelie Oliphant 




activity, broken health and fortunes, held in the cold grip 
of defeat, they crept back. 

Yet still there remained a little sweetness in the cup 
of life, still a little strength in the bruised hearts to lift up 
a word of gratitude even now : " Bless Him who brings 
poor exiles home." 



STRANGELY unfamiliar must the old haunts have looked 
to the eyes that for seventeen years had only seen them 
in dreams. The trees were grown, thicket and under- 
wood made dark the neglected avenues, garden-closes 
and paths bore the sombre charm as of lost hopes and 
promises long delayed. The house, bare now of all the 
old simple luxuries of appointment, dark and cold with 
rooms so long empty of voice and footfall, yet opened to 
the wanderers the treasure of past association, the silent 
sympathy of its remembered places. 

It was joy to be there again, in whatever circum- 
stances of doubt, under any cloud of danger. Only as 
the days went on, and life began to resume some of its 
old routine, all the loss and change must have struck at 
the hearts of the exiles. So much was gone of lands, of 
goods and gear. Williamston, the first married home of 
the old laird and Amelie, the birthplace of their children, 
had passed into strange hands ; Cowgask, the fair barony 
to the north-west, and Woodend, the inheritance of the 
old laird's mother, were both swept away. Gask itself, 
though in reality his own property, was in the hands of 
trustees and not under the laird's control, so that he 
could not do as he would with his own. He neither 
fretted nor complained. In the record of his life there 
is no note of self-pity. His fortitude was rooted in the 
profoundest instincts of his soul. Nearly all the events in 
which he had taken part throughout his long life had 
brought sorrow and distress, but he believed in the 
sacredness of his cause as wholly as he believed in the 





goodness of God. The last glimpses of the old laird 
show him in the place where he longed to be. No longer 
the centre of eager Stewart adherents, riding to and fro 
from one Jacobite stronghold to another, full of brave 
schemes and wise counsels, he still remained a landmark 
and rallying-point for the fast-fading hopes of the Cause. 
Though he had watched sink one by one all the stars in 
whose light he had lived, in the great aspiration of his 
life he never recognised failure, or dreamed that Scotland 
could not kindle again the flame of wild adventure. 
Now, when for him the fighting was over, he leaned on 
the tranquil sense of having, through his own influence, 
left behind him at the Castle of Bouillon a Protestant 
Prince, from whose claim to the throne of Britain the 
great disability was now removed. Young Laurence 
thus describes the returned exiles' life at Gask : 

" Mr Whytt and his wife made out their journey as 
well as could be expected. They live quietly at home, 
see only particular friends, and amuse themselves with 
their family affairs, putting them in as good order as their 
situation will permitt. Nothing can give them so much 
satisfaction as hearing of their absent friends." 

Now all wanderings were over. Three years he 
lived in the house of Gask with Amelie, Laurence, and 
Margaret, everything over and done with, except the 
simple tranquillities that come to the old, in spite of all 
distresses. Three little granddaughters were there to 
lighten his last days, the little Marjory who had been 
there to welcome him when he came home, then Amelia 
in 1765, and within a year, Carolina, who some day was 
to teach in song what he had learned in suffering. 

Amelie, now restored to the calm of home life, had 
been too long accustomed to constant activities of mind 
and body to accept the inaction of old age. She seems 
to have taken frequent journeys to Edinburgh, and sends 
home budgets of news. She writes thus to her son's wife 
on 20th June 1763 :- 

" Saturday Mrs Forbes came for me, so we went 


together to Leith that afternoon. I went and visited 
Lady Stewart who stays there. She is eldest sister to 
. . . Carmichael, was carried up prisoner to London in 
the '46, her husband died there in prison. She is a very 
good sort of woman. She dined and suped with us and 
sent two bottles of fine rum, which she said was designed 
for to-morrow. . . . Tues. 21st. I past this day very 
agreably with the Duchess of Perth 1 and her sisters, 
and two or three more such like. I had a visit last night 
from my Lady Galloway, 2 who invited me to brakefast 
with her this morning which I did, Her Lord and eldest 
son and myself. I sent to her after I came away for 
some franks, which you will see I got. ..." 

The affairs of her Prince engrossed much of Amelie's 
time, as shown by her long correspondence with Bishop 
Forbes touching the royal marriage. To get a wife of 
English or Scottish birth for Prince Charles was now the 
dearest object of her heart. The innocent plot occupied 
a great deal of the time both of the Bishops and the 
Oliphants. Mrs Oliphant had a long interview with 
Bishop Gordon in London when bringing the old laird 
home from Charleville. " O Madam ! if this same con- 
fabulation between you and me should happily end in 
a real match, how joyous should we be ! " " Ay that is 
true indeed ! " said she. " God grant success ! " Through- 
out these letters, the Prince is called " Cousin Peggie," 
and "my Favourite Lady." Not for nearly ten years 
was Ame'lie to see the wish of her heart realised in the 
marriage of her Prince. She died before the disastrous 
ending of that enterprise. 

Family events filled the last three years of the old 
laird's days. Janet's husband, Balhaldie, died at Chailly, 
near Fontainebleau, 18th December 1764, and the little 
son, 8 then six years old, was brought over to Scotland, 

1 There were at this time three Duchesses of Perth, all widows : Jean Gordon, 
widow of the second duke ; Elizabeth Middleton, widow of the sixth duke ; and 
Mary Stuart, daughter of the fourth Earl of Traquair, widow of the fifth duke. 
The Duchess mentioned in Amelie's letter is the latter lady. She had five sisters. 

* Cathei-ine, youngest daughter of the fourth Earl of Dundonald, second wife 
of the sixth Lord Galloway. 

3 In 1776, before he was of age, young Balhaldie raised a claim for his full 
share of the forty thousand merks which the Government had granted Ame'lie 
Oliphant, his grandmother. She had bequeathed ten thousand merks to her 


272 HOME [CHAP. 

to be educated with the Inchbrakie children. So all 
Cask's grandchildren were near at hand in the closing 
scenes of his life. 

Margaret Oliphant's younger sister Charlotte Robertson 
died in 1765. There are few traces of this daughter of 
Strowan in any of the very numerous letters that passed 
between the families. She neither writes nor receives 
messages. She is once mentioned in one of her father's 
letters from Givet in 1764 : 

" She has the whole charge of the menage, and I must 
own that she makes a good proficient in the business of 

She was then nineteen. Margaret, her husband says, 
felt her sister's death very much. In July of the same 
year Amelie's nephew, Lord Strathallan, died. 

Lady Gask writes to Mrs Drummond, July 1765 : 

"DEAR MADAM, I received your very melancholy 
letter giving me account of my dear Nephew's Death, you 
may be sure very affecting to all here . . . but alas when I 
reflect upon the condition of the poor Mother and Widow 
who have met with so heavy and unexpected a stroke, all 
other grieffs vanish like smoak before the wind. ..." 

The following letters belong to this period, and though 
they have no special bearing on life at Gask, they are 
here given as showing the interests of the family. 

Bishop Forbes writes to Mrs Oliphant at Callander, 
18th July 1763 : 1 

" By no means use my name in this matter, as parties 
run desperately high. It is affirmed strongly that Miss 
Hewitt 2 demeaned herself with the utmost courage and 

daughter, Margaret Graeme, and only eight thousand to young Balhaldie, as the 
son of her daughter, Janet Macgregor. The case was settled by arbitration ; it 
was decided that Lady Gask had a right to dispose of the money as she saw fit. 

1 This letter concerns the celebrated Stewart trial. 

a Helen Hewitt, for many years an attendant on Lady Jane Douglas. She 
swore positively that she was present at the birth of Lady Jane's twin sons on 10th 
July 1748. She was very old and infirm, and thought to be dying at the time 
she gave her evidence. To her last hour she affirmed the truth of what she had 
said. (See The Douglas Cause, edited by Francis Steuart.) 


Resolution and with great accuracy and exactness; but 
Time must try all, and clear up the dark Cloud. Sir 
John Stewart is to be examined to-morrow before the 
Fifteen with shut doors likewise. . . . God bless you 
all and all you are concerned in. All good wishes from 
my Friend to you all, A Dieu, my dear Sir, A Dieu." 1 

Lady Jane M. writes to Lady Cask at Cask, 18th 
November 176- : 

" I make no doubt my Dear Aunt and all our/ well- 
wishers will be shocked to hear that our poor infatuated 
sister Margaret went off in the dead of the last night with 
(as we have too much reason to suspect) a servant man ! 
Judge of my dear Mother's concern, and you may judge 
of ours upon her account. I pray God support her and 
enable us if possible to make amends for one of the most 
ungreatful of children. Pray forgive haste and all other 
faults your dutyfull and aff. neice J. M. 

" I am thankfull Charles still continues better but 
God only knows what consequence this dreadfull stroke 
may have on his good heart." 

William Drummond writes from Sancerre, 6th October 
1763 to his " dearest Laurie " : 

" To acquaint my first friend and the best friend I ever 
had that I was made happy on the 30th of last month by 
being married to dear Anny Nairne 2 the young woman in 
the world I ever had the greatest attachment for. It was 
an honest Scots episcopal minister that joined our hands 
in my Uncle's house here. Dear Laurie, I never knew 
what happiness was till now." 

Anne Drummond, the bride, adds a line, hoping that 
Laurence's friendship may be extended to her. 

Life at Gask went quietly forward, brightened here 
and there by the intimate events of home, and by letters 
from abroad, where the Robertsons and Nairnes were still 
in exile. Duncan Robertson, so bound by ties of blood 

1 Bishop Forbes never signed one of the letters sent to the Gask family. 

a Second daughter of Brigadier General David Nairne of the French Service. 
She died in 1782, leaving two sons. From the younger son the present repre- 
sentatives of the Strathallan family are descended. 





and mutual interest to the Cask family, was one of the 
best of correspondents ; he used however, such large sheets 
of paper that even his busy pen could not fill them, and 
each member of his family must add something to the 
packet. The handwriting of his son Colyear is one of the 
clearest and most beautiful imaginable ; but fortunately 
all wrote very legibly. To the quiet party at Cask there 
was a flow of amusement and interest in the friendly 
intimate letters, of which an example is here given a 
specimen of scores of others carefully preserved. 

"3 March 1767. 

" Prom Mrs Robertson of Strowan to her daughter 
Mrs Oliphant of Gask. Postmark, Namur. 

" We have the pleasure my Dear D. of the 29 Jan. 
which gives great joy to hear that all the Family are so 
well. I hope you will excuse my not writing any in the 
last sent you as it was all filled. ... I suppose my Brother 
has wrote to you of his poor Daughter's 1 Death the 17th 
of Jan. ; one of his Sons wrote and let us know she Dyed 
quit sensible and had been so for some time before her 
death. Henry wrote too, by his father's orders, desiring 
us all to go where he is next summer to make them a 
visit for some months, but you know travelling is very 
expensive, and we have no money to bestow but where it 
is absolutely necessary, so we must not think of that 
journey, though, poor Soul, he is much to be pitied for 
the loss of his daughter, as she was so very great a 
favourite of his from her very infancy. ... I think I see 
your dear Young ones when you write that the Eldest is 
walking about with her sister, though I do belive if 1 
saw them I should be very feared they would fall, as no 
doubt you are. ..." 

On the same page Duncan Robertson continues : 

"By the accounts we had some time ago of the 
Duchess Dowager's 2 health we had small hopes of her 
recovery. I wonder if she has left anything to he 

1 Clementina Nairne, who died at Sancerre. She was the only survivi 
daughter of John, third Lord Nairne. 

2 Mary, daughter of William, Lord Ross of Halkhead, second wife of the fi 
Duke of Atholf, married 26th June 1710. She died at Huntingtower, 1 
January 1767. She was the mother of seven of the Duke's nineteen childre 


grandson the Major. . . . Your Mother and I are much 
the same as when I wrote you last, that is without any 
manner of ailment, thank God : she is spinning hard while 
I am writing. Your Brothers are above stairs, probably 
in the work-house, they are both very well, and not so 
thin as you imagine." 

Colyear Robertson continues the letter : 

" The greatest news I have to tell you is that I 
have been at hard work for some time past making 
Pirns for Mother, the rainy weather depriving us of 
our walks in the Fields. My brother has taken a 
Master for the Fiddle and has made such surprising 
progress that he plays already Italian Sonnatas, tho he 
has got but four lessons. ... I wonder you don't learn 
to play upon the Guitarre as you could learn it almost 
by yourself; it is a very pretty instrument for a Lady, 
but indeed your young folks will give you amusement 
enough, and Musick too perhaps sometimes. ..." 

Mrs Robertson writes again to her daughter Mrs 
Oliphant : 

" 16 Mar. 1767. 

" My dear daughter's of Feb. gives us all amuse- 
ment. I believe you can hardly imagine how fond all 
here are of the chat of your eldest and of every motion 
either of the others takes till they have the use of their 
tongue. You guess very well it gave me joy to hear 
that Carolin 1 has got a tooth so easily. I shall long to 
hear that the small-pox are past without coming your 
length. ... I am spinning both warp and waft for a web 
of cottonad. ... I intend to make pretty coats and little 
gowns of it. . . ." 

Colyear adds to the same letter : 

"The Prince whom Madlle. de la Tremouille wrote 
the letter to four years ago, gave us marks of his good 
will upon many occasions, but unluckily for us, tho his 
Brother-in-law is now of age, the Tutor continues to 
have the management of affairs, and the other Prince 
will not stoop to ask a favour of him, having already 
been refused more than once. That Prince was so 

1 Carolina, born 16th August 1766. Afterwards the well-known song writer. 




condescending as to tell us frankly, when we were last at 
the Hague that in the situation he was in he could give 
us nothing but his good wishes, and that we must 
absolutely make application to the Duke. The Person 
upon whose interest with the Duke we now depend told 
us that Captain's rank would signify nothing without 
companies and that he would do what lay in his power 
for us in case of an Augmentation, but that there was 
nothing to be done at present. He did not seem much 
to regard the Duke of A's letter, but that will need to 
be keept a great secret, as likewise all the rest of the 

This last letter must have reached Gask just before 
the death of the old laird. He was ill at the last only 
twelve days, and died on 1st April 1767, aged seventy-six. 
His son wrote in his journal these words concerning 
his death : 

" My dear Father, of twelve days Illness. In his life 
God was gratious to him, and at Death made his passage 
easy ; a fond father and a good man, he got his wish 
to be gathered to his Fathers and if it be permitted to 
departed spirits, he still watches over his family." 

The following letter from Strowan to his daughter, 
dated 24th April 1767, concerns his death : 

"My DEAR D., . . . I suspected from what you 
wrote me more than once that my dear worthy friend 
would not be long a being freed from his weaknesses 
and troubles, and the more so now that you had con- 
siderably passed your ordinary time of writing. The 
Event, as it is joyful to him, ought to be so to his friends, 
but allowances must be made for the weakness of human 
nature. We are loath, and no wonder, to part with a 
man of his eminent virtues, virtues so rarely centred 
in one person. I greatly loved and esteemed him and 
so did my wife and children, and I hope God, whom 
he sincerely served, without noise or affectation, will bless 
his family and posterity and give comfort to them all, 
particularly to the worthy Lady who has parted with 
a companion so loving and faithfull." 


Bishop Forbes writes to Laurence Oliphant, 9th April 
1767 : 

" MY DEAR SIR, Yours of the 2nd instance did not 
at all surprize me as it contained nothing but what I 
looked for. Well, the worthy person is gone. I hope 
to a far better world and we must in due time go to 
him, but he cannot come to us. All of you are present 
with me in thought, but the good Lady dwells in my 
mind, as her connection was the nearest and dearest of 
all. . . . You have forgot to let me know your Father's 
age. I have noted down the day of his death in a bound 
Book. Pray then let me have the year and day of his 
Birth that I may add them to that same note. His 
memory will be ever dear to me For, 

" ' Inspired we say, the memory of the Just 

Will live and blossom in the mouldering dust.' 

When therefore we bedew the friendly dust with Tears, 
let us moderate the Watery Eye and put a stop to the 
flowing stream in Time. ... It is truly surprising how 
things at no small Distance will happen to tally and 
coincide. The very day that fetch'd yours to me, brought 
one from our friend at London, in which are the following 
words, ' I long greatly to hear of Mr Brown, Father, 
son, Mother, Daughter and all their connections for tis 
a Family 1 highly value and esteem, nay, and love 
too. I think I can truly say, they are daily in my 
thoughts. God bless them all.' I would not by any 
means Dear Sir, have you disquieted by any clash from 
abroad or at home, about your poor Cousin Peggie l who, 
poor thing, is greatly to be pitied, having many things 
laid to her charge from which on account of her unhappy 
and (as she says) unchosen situation. She has it not in 
her power to exculpate herself. Disagreeable things are 
put upon her continually and bear them alas ! She tells 
us she must, for the present at least. You will pardon 
me, but to compare small things with great, poor Peggie's 
circumstances put me very much in mind of Charles II.'s 
situation in Scotland. He was watched, he was baited, 
he was driven. Have compassion then on poor Cousin 
Peggie and believe not every report, though appearances, 

1 Prince Charles Edward. 




she confesses, may be some times against her, and these 
magnified in every respect to her disadvantage. She 
wishes and entreats yourself and family to believe her 
steady and unalterable. What signifies what Miss this, 
or Miss t'other may say thro' vanity or jealousy or really 
through ignorance of Causes. This much our worthy 
friend of Mar. 81. 

" Methinks I could attempt a character of your Father 
in Latin, fit to be inscribed on Brass or Marble and 
placed upon his Tomb ; but the iniquity of the Times 
will not hear the Truth ; and therefore we must let that 
alone and bear in mind, with Silence, what we dare not 
exhibit in words. God bless you all. Amen. A Dieu, 
Dear Sir, A Dieu. 

" APRIL 9." 

The epitaph of the old laird has never been written 
in Latin or even in English; no stone marks the spot 
where he lies in the green silence of the Gask churchyard ; 
but none of all his line is so sure of an immortality in 
the story of his country, and in the proud remembrance 
of his descendants. 1 In the estimate of the lives and 
achievements of most men there is something to wish 
different, some flaw of character, some motive it would 
be well to forget. In the character of the old laird 
there is nothing to regret no spot in all his record 
where honour might have been better vindicated, higher 
standards attempted, better ideals achieved. Great of 
soul, tender of heart, staunch, steadfast, brave, his life 
from childhood to old age was lived for others, and lived 
in the wider sense of responsibilities beyond the interests 
of those immediately dear to his heart. His sympathies 
were quickened by the universal spirit that reached 
beyond self into the greater issues of national life. 
Living at a time and in a country beset with difficulties 
and distresses, in which his fortunes were involved from 
first to last, he played his simple part on a stage, great 
enough to afford scope to the noble impulses of his soul. 

1 In 1826 Charles Steuart of Dalguise records in his diary that he saw an 
old man, David Buchan, aged eighty-two, at Williamston, who well remembered 
the old laird, and the high esteem in which he was held. Asked to describe 
his appearance he said he was "a princely-looking man." 


Never would he have admitted, like Strowan, that he 
" lived in the dregs of time." He looked back gratefully 
on the years that had brought him so many chances of 
proving his principles. Born before the tragedy of 
Glencoe, he remembered in the dim mists of childhood 
the despair of the Darien failure, the passionate resent- 
ment of the Union, and his boyhood held remembrance 
of the hot exaltation of the '15, the field of Sheriffmuir, 
the brief companionship with the King his Master at 
Perth. Then came the long calm of the home years full 
of that domestic happiness that is only known to the 
chivalrous of heart, to the soul that knows how to achieve 
perfect sympathy with a woman, and perfect friendship 
with children. 

What those quiet years at Cask did in preparing the 
way for the heroisms of the '45 can only be partly 
realised. The centre from whence radiated a steady light 
of hopefulness and resolution, all his nearest and dearest 
shared his high unwavering loyalty ; among the group 
of wife, children, brothers, friends there was not one to 
disappoint, not one to call in question the justice and 
need of sacrifice when the call came. He saw the decline 
of the Stewart enterprise with sorrow, but without mis- 
giving as to ultimate triumph. To him the Cause was 
so identified with the interests of religion and liberty that 
it could no more fail, in the long run, than could God's 
promises fail. With absolute faith his eyes were fixed 
upon the goal he was never to reach, and he died before 
events made manifest that it would not be attained at all. 
He never realised that the dark cloud over-shadowing the 
fortunes of the Stewarts was never to lift again. 

Before death came to take away this tender and 
chivalrous spirit, he saw gathered round his knees a group 
of his children's children. The youngest, Carolina, was 
only a few months old. Something of the fineness of his 
spirit perhaps passed into the new little soul. The tried 
soldier could not have chosen for his descendant a choicer 
gift than that of lyrical expression, which should render 
immortal not only the Cause he loved, but all the simple 




and noble emotions which had made his campaigns 

So, in spite of the keen sorrow of bereavement, life 
went forward at the House of Gask. With the happy 
unconciousness of childhood in all that concerns death, 
the three little girls would doubtless rouse the sorrowing 
Amelie from her grief, and expect games and cheerfulness 
from their parents as usual. A letter from Margaret to 
her mother at Givet shows how, a month after the old 
laird's death, life had resumed its normal routine : 

" 3 May 1767. 

"My DEAR MA, I find it is come to the ordinary 
time of writing so will delay it no longer as I know 
you will be thinking I ought to let you hear how Mrs 
Whytt etc. have been of late : why really tolerably well 
considering all, a little dull as is no wonder. . . . The 
children are just now much in our usual . . . Amelie 1 
. . . began to speak all of a sudden, and calls after her 
woman calls her eldest sister Meg and the little one 
Caine. We changed Car's nurse for one with younger 
milk, which was a risk, but she has grown fat upon it, 
and is a sturdy tod. The smallpox and chincough are 
both going round us in a favourable way. . . . Lady 
Inchbrakie is sometimes troubled with a stuffing in her 
breast, like her brother's, but not so bad. ... I thought 
to have had some little story of her (May) to tell, but 
remember none just now but an ill trick. Her and the 
new nurse do not agree very well ; it happened one day 
that their heads rapt together by chance, so the nurse 
says I wonder which of our heads is hardest, if I had that 
stick I would try it on yours ; this was the pestle of a 
mortar. May says nothing, but slips for it and gives 
the Nurse's head a good knock till it raised a lump, for 
which the dame was to blame." 

She continues the letter to her father : 

" There is still a talk of the Perth Estates and all the 
annexed Estates being to be sold, there was a say at 
Edinburgh too that Lord Chatam, the late Mr Pitt, 
had proposed giving them back gratis to the proper 

1 Born August 1765. 


owners, but I doubt this news is too G. to be T. 
My young woman of this month (May) asked me lately 
when Ame's and Caroline's months would come, for 
she knew hers was May, but, little smatchet, she told 
a deliberate Lye to-day, for which she is in disgrace." 

The health of Laurence, the new laird, was still the 
main anxiety of Amelie and Margaret. He was never 
well, and seldom free from the asthma contracted in 1746. 
Change of air and scene were necessary both for mind 
and body. The summer after the death of the old laird 
was occupied in trying the mysterious benefits of drinking 
goat's whey in the Highlands, a strange and inconvenient 
remedy, then so much in vogue that most of the letters 
of the time contain some reference to the supposed effects. 
The Oliphants had been accustomed to go to Callander 
for this rite, but this year they went no further than 
Comrie a short drive from home. Perhaps a simple and 
limited diet, with milk instead of the inevitable "glass," 
and life in the open air, produced real effect. Money 
affairs were a perpetual source of anxiety, never to be 
lifted in Laurence's lifetime. "Embarassed about the 
settlement of Temporals and forty merks debt hanging 
over at Dunkeld," he writes. "Mr Henry Drummond 
generously said, ' I'll get you a grant of it,' and soon he 
made his promise good. My mother distressed, appre- 
hensive, but the Lord revives her and preserves her in 
life for the comfort of her family." The family letters 
from Givet continue all the time. Mrs Robertson writes 
to her daughter Mrs Oliphant : 

"Aug. 101767. 

" I rejoice to hear that your dear Carolin is so well 
recovered of the smallpox and that the other two dear 
ones are well. I hope I will remember to drink the 
health of the little dear ones born in this month. ... I 
wrote to you in my last that I was bringing up silk 
worms, by the by if I had thought they would have been 
so troublesome and I have so little profit I'd not have 
been at the pains. I do not believe I shall have half 
a pound pure silk, and it is a plague to wind it, there 




is only about 1000 Cocons in all and some of the worms 
have not yet begon to make their silk and I have been 
their slave for two months. So much for experiments." 

Mrs Oliphant writes, 21st September 1767, in a letter 
full of items of news about neighbours : 

" Miss Drummond, 1 Machany, is here with us, she is 
realy a fine good natur'd Girle, she is quit streight, her 
head is very big occasioned they say by crieng when she 
was nurcing which opened her head. 

"You would have been pleased had you seen my 
little woman sitting on a chair as prim as any there at 
the reading this evening being Sunday, understand she 
cannot, but keeps her eye generally fixed on her Papa 
who they are all very fond of as they get sense, the two 
eldest very solicitous which shall get first into the castle, 
as they call it between his knees. May is turned very 
useful to me, going errands thro any part of the house 
realy a sharp clever monkey." : 

"God bless the dear Tods and their Castle," the 
grandfather writes back. 

In the spring of 1768 the boy so long desired was born. 

" Last April," wrote the father, " the Grandfather died, 
this one the Grandson is born ; the Lord gives and the 
Lord taketh away." 

The thoughts of Margaret must have travelled back 
over the ten eventful years that had passed since last she 
held a son in her arms, to the little grave at Corbeil 
where lay the other baby Laurence. Young herself, she 
was fated to know nothing but the exquisite promise of 
young life in her children, nothing but the first fresh- 
ness of motherhood, for she did not live to see any one 
of her babies grow up. 

Margaret writes from Gask to her mother at Givet, 
on 31st August 1768 : 

" I believe I told you last that Lady Graeme, Mr O. 
and I had all been waiting on Lady Elizabeth Drummond 

1 Either Margaret or Elizabeth , daughter of James, fifth Lord Strathallan. 

2 Some phrases of this letter are printed in Roger's Life of Baroness 




after which they went and stayed a fortnight at Dunkeld 
and visited Blair, then returned by Meikleour, and Logic, 
were a night in Tullybelton House in Perth, came back 
to Machany and dined here next day, with my good old 
aunt and all the bairns she had in Scotland except little 
James who was thought it seems too young to visit. We 
had dinner in the low drawing-room for the first time that 
a meal had been eaten in it since a breakfast 1 that you 
perhaps have been at 23 years ago, when the pick of all 
the Gentlemen we had the other day, were present, my 
cousins Dunmore and Nairne being of the company ; this 
I told Lady Elizabeth who pressed me much to come to 
Machany. Mr O. and 18 more of us mett the 17th in the 
forenoon at Inchbrakie in our way to dine at Abercairne : 
my aunt was one, but would not go there with them, 
before she had been visiting our young Laird 2 as she calls 
him, is it not lucky he's not of an age to be vain, ah no, 
he's not twelve years of age, but sure we may be thankfull 
even for the past 3 for the invisible should not be reckoned 
lost, nor do I reckon them so, thank God. 

"Mrs Mercer Aldie is brought to bed of a 4th 
daughter 4 the other three are unluckily not healthly." 

Amelie adds a word : 

" Mrs Oli : will have me say something to my dear 
sister after she has told all, except that your old acquaint- 
ance Mrs James Oliphant 5 and her four daughters are 
come from England to live at Perth, they have taken up 
a boording scool for young ladies, which I hope will be 
bread to them. She was here lately but is turned very 
old like. I beg you would not eitt porrage at work but 
goe about to lay in a stock of health for the winter." 

The state of Gask's health compelled Margaret to 
spend many months away from her children in this year. 

1 This refers to the occasion of Prince Charles Edward breakfasting at Gask, 
llth September 1745. 

2 The boy MacGregor of Balhaldie. 

3 This is in allusion to Margaret Oliphant's own boy, who died a few months 
before young Balhaldie's birth. 

* Mrs Mercer was Margaret Murray, heiress of Pitcaithly. Only one of the 
Mercer children married, Jean, who married George Viscount Keith, second son 
of Charles Lord Elphinstone of Cumbernauld. The four daughters were Margaret, 
born 1763, died unmarried. Jean, born 1765. Cochrane, died 1801 unmarried. 
Catherine died 1822 unmarried. 

6 Janet Austin, widow of the old laird's brother. See page 163. 

284 HOME [CHAP. 

Fortunately Amelie was a devoted grandmother, and the 
mother could not have entrusted them to more loving 
care ; but it must have seemed hard to quit the old house 
and set forth on the quest of health in distant countries. 
The laird writes in his journal : 

" Asthma and its attendant made me often suffer ; 
upon Petition lessened and frequently removed. Except 
on Oct. 9 when that night distressed in bed, I thought 
of Naples for health, approved by my Mother, next day 
money got without difficulty, with my wife sett out 
the 22nd." 

They went first to London, where they stayed with the 
Drummonds, from whence Margaret writes to Amelie : 

" Lady Elisa : went last night to Drury Lane on 
purpose to take me with her, and so I have seen Mr 
Garrick act and do admire him, as I did likewise a Scot 
in the full Highland dress, who acted up to the native 
bravery, though they chose a very indifferent figure of 
a man and to be sure set him on the stage by way of 
ridicule ; the play was, ' She was the wonder ' or ' A 
secret kept by a woman ' who indeed acted her part well." 

The Oliphants went to Paris, where they were received 
at Court, and from thence to Sancerre, where the Nairnes 
were still living. Mrs Oliphant writes to describe the 
family party there, and the old man, the third Lord 
Nairne, whose long years of exile were drawing to a 
close : 

" Our cousins are the same as ever, and say they have 
got headaches, drinking to the eight Aunties." 

It was a remarkable circumstance that all the eight 
daughters of the second Lord Nairne were still living 
at this time. From Sancerre the pair travelled on into 
Italy. The mother's heart is always at Gask with the 
" dear Tods." 

" We are thinking long for a letter, but cannot hope 
for it yet. Has the little man any teeth yet ? I hope in 
God we need not fear for the girls, except poor Gary's 


eye which I'm a little uneasy about. Please to tell May 
and Ame that Papa and Mama do not forget them and 
will bring them a little box and a flower." 

Mrs Oliphant writes from Naples at Easter, 1769 : 

" We saw the King l of Naples on Thursday wash the 
feet of 12 old men, that is, he kisses their feet after they 
are washed before him. There was a very fine supper 
prepared for them which the King handed the first service 
of to servants who set it on the table and the Karls sat 
down with great ease as its called a supper they have a 
number of wax lights and lusters about the room which 
only serves to burn daylight. The Queen 2 stood behind 
His Maj : with her Ladies and was a spectator she seemed 
highly entertained with the ceremony the first of the kind 
she had seen here. In the afternoon they visit seven 
churches on foot . . . the procession was one of the finest 
I ever saw, the officers of all the different cors, the whole 
of them were drest in black velvet, the Gentlemen had 
brocade weastcoats and cuffs, and the Ladies in the Court 
dress brocade cuffs too and all their diamonds, the Queen 
by much the prettiest woman. All the town wore black 
the 3 last days of lent and yet were very fine." 

About the same time she writes a nate to her little 

" To May. I beg you will read to her every morning. 
I am very glad to hear from your grandmama that my 
dear Lassy reads so well, and I think I may be sure that 
you behave as a young lady of your age should do, and 
take care that your little sisters do nothing wrong when 
they are left to your charge, and that Lady Gask drinks 
no punch ; tell her you are sure your Papa would be very 
sorry if she did. I hope your nurse and Meg Stuart are 
well. I hope you do not scold anybody in the nursery, 
and that you do everything Grandmama bids you without 
grumbling. I will not forget the little box of flowers I 
promise to bring you. I pray God bless you and make 
you a good woman." 

1 Ferdinand IV., third son of Charles III. of Spain. 

3 Marie Caroline, daughter of the Empress Maria Theresa and sister of Maria 
Antoinette, born 1752, married in April 1768 to the King of Naples. She was 
afterwards the mother of eighteen children. 




The object of this winter's journeyings was not only 
the health of the laird ; it was a pilgrimage having for 
its goal the shrine of Jacobite worship at Rome. To 
see the King and, after seven years of separation, to offer 
homage once more to the idol of their hopes, was the 
real reason of the long arduous fatigues of the journey 
across France and Italy. The wish was fulfilled, and a 
last intercourse held with the Chief for whom they had 
made all their lives such countless sacrifices. Though no 
letters give full details of all that befel Laurence and 
Margaret at Naples and Rome, a little is known through 
the pages of the Lyon in Mourning. 

They had several audiences with King Charles, dining 
twice at the royal table. To Laurence, the King poured 
forth his troubles, his difficulties as to religion, the count- 
less anxieties of his position. The Oliphants brought 
forward once more their great project a Protestant 
bride. On 16th April they parted, never to meet 

Mrs Oliphant writes from Naples to her father : 


" Flandres. 

" DEAR PAPA, the situation of this City is very fine. 
It and the suburbs, taking in Portici where the King has 
a palace, makes a half Circle on the edge of the bay which 
we have here in full prospect, the noise of the sea con- 
tinually dashing against an old castle call'd del Ovo which 
is built about a cannon shot from the shore, is very agree- 
able, there is also the breadth of the street or quay 
between us and the water and we hear any ships of 
consequence that come in salute our little Chateau. It 
is very hard to get riding horses here, and what they do 
hire are very indifferent and very dear. Mr O. try'd them 
'but one day, so we are oblidg'd to keep a coach in pay, in 
which our ordinary airing is thro' a Grotto dug out of 
the rock about half an English mile to a place where 
there are sulphur stoves, they are very hot within and 
Mr Oliphant has not ventured yet to get into them, but 
walks above where it comes out like smoak, has a strong 


smell of sulphur and he thinks himself sensible of its 
doing him good, the Doctor he consults is of the same 
opinion and has advised us to take a house on that side of 
the Grotto near Poudsolla where there is likeways a place 
call'd Solpatara but that is not decided yet. . . . There have 
been and are a good many English nobility and Gentry 
here who, as well as Mr Hamilton the late Lord 
Archibald's son, the minister and his Lady, are very polite 
to us. The only Scots besides us are Lord Fortrose and 
Mr and Mrs Lockhart of Carnwath who came about a 
fortnight ago from Pisa near Florence, he is now General, 
a very frank good like sort of man as his Lady likeways 
appear to be, I have only met them in odd places, having 
mist them and been mist at home. Mr Oliphant and I 
keep the best hours of any in Naples which is necessary, 
their's being very late. We only twice have been out 
pretty late ye 1st. to be at the Opera on the King of 
Naples birthday when he and the Queen were present, 
the house is vastly large and so not too hot, Oval and is 
lin'd with mirrors between each of the six rows of boxes 
which were illuminated as it was that night gilt, and all 
the people in Galla made the finest show imaginable. The 
2nd night we stay'd out was at a private Ball at Mr 
Hamilton's where we had Minuets Country dances Reels 
and Straspeys of wh. I was the only woman had ever 
seen one and was sorry I could not dance them better ; 
we had a letter from Lady Gask yesterday wrote on 
Christmass, you will probably have latter accounts before 
this reaches you. The children were then well, thank 
God, Lady Gask mentions poor Condy's having met with 
a great stroke by the death of his two eldest sons of the 
rush fever and sore throat ; he has one left. Lady Gask 
was so cautious she did not write of it the letter before 
tho' they died the one the 10th and the other the 13th of 
Novr. till the distemper was out of the Country which she 
hopes it was by that time. It has raged a very long time. 
"Mr Oliphant joins me in dutys and best wishes to 
all the family, says that we will endeavour to be a day 
or two with you in passing, but cannot promise, and that 
he will be disappointed if the young men are not there, 
I hope it will happen that they are, and ever am to you 
and Mama most affectly your obedient Daughter 


" NAPLES, ye 4th Feb. 1770." 


Cask's journal describes the end of the journey : 

" Ap. 16. Returned to Rome. Took leave of the 
King and left His Majesty in perfect health. From 
Rome by Venice and Turin back to Paris. Then to 
London, the amiable Drummonds giving credit all along, 
and receiving us most kindly. Home to Gask July 10th 
where we found the Grandmother and children well, 
having keept my health and no astma worth mentioning 
since Rome. . . . Yet no sooner arrived but Family 
affairs about settlements discomposed me, vapours 
returned, though I found in Mr Drummond of Logic 
a substantial friend, offering and engaging to advance 
money to a great extent. . . . 

"July 29. Meggy 1 born and my wife had a good 
recovery. Gratious is the Lord and gave a very sturday 

Amelie Oliphant writes to her sister, Mary Nairne, 
concerning two family events the death of Lord Nairne, 
and the birth of a daughter at Gask : 

"Aug. 71770. 

"We have been week after week expecting to hear 
from my dear sister, which made me delay writing till 
now that 1 have the pleasure to acquaint you that this 
is the 10th day since Mrs Oliphant was safely delivered 
of a daughter, she has recovered as well as posibly could 
be expected, and who do you think has suplied your place 
but good Lady Strathallan, we are really very much 
obliged to her. The child is a fine Todd, was cristened 
Margaret Euphemia Janet Charlote Alexandrina 1st 
day of Aug. Now my dear sister tho your journey has 
been no doubt chargeable and very fatiguing to you, I 
daresay you do not grudge it since you have had the 
satisfaction to be with our dear Brother in his last 
moments, the very thought of it makes me happy that 
he was so well attended tho I am certain his sons would 
do all in their power. We all imagined you would set 
out directly to come home as I hope you are by this 
time, . . . Mrs Oliphant wishes you would come by 
Givet. My son has been much in his ordinary way since 
you left us. The children are thank God well, most 
affectionately yours, AMELIE OLIPHANT." 

1 Margaret, afterwards Mrs Keith of Ravelstone. 


Mary Nairne was known in the family as the Elect 
Lady. The origin of this term has not come to light, 
but it is certain that at all times of family stress, her 
presence was looked upon as indispensable. As a girl 
she had been in the thick of Jacobite activity, and was 
with her mother at Nairne when the tenants were 
sent for by the old lady, and ordered to go to Perth 
to assist the Governors Oliphant and Strathallan. The 
Elect Lady is said to have joined her mother in threaten- 
ing that " if they did not take up arms and go, she would 
cause Drummawhine's rebells plunder all their goods, 
and throw them to the door." 1 When called upon to 
make the long weary journey to Sancerre, 2 to attend her 
brother's dying bed, she was sixty- one years old, and was 
soon to take up her abode at Gask to end her days there. 
No less than four of the eight Nairne sisters died at Gask. 

Another family event of this year was the death of 
Laurence Oliphant of Condie, he whose early years had 
been so specially associated with the Gask family. 

" My Friend Condie's death," writes Gask in his 
diary, " being drowned." Mention is made of the event 
in a letter from Duncan Robertson to his daughter, 
Mrs Oliphant, 5th February 1771, from Givet: 

" I think, my D. D. this world is a great deal madder 
than it was in my young days ; In this little place where 
there is no Business or Manufacturies, the poor people are 
starving for want of employment and the little Burgers 
who are just above want, run up and down calling, feasting 
md masquerading. It is commonly said of old people 
that they see the world through their own sickly greenish 
opticks and that is all the difference, but there is evident 
demonstration that the parts of the world we know best 
are immensely sunk in their moral character within my 
memory. . . . The accompts of poor Condie are dismal 
and shocking ; it is even surprising that a man of his 

1 Albemarle Papers, vol. i. p. 256. 

8 There had been for years a considerable Jacobite colony at Sancerre. In 
1777 it was reduced to four : Sir Alexander Dalmahoy, Mr Neil MacDonald, Mr 
M'Nab, and Henry Nairne. The latter mentions in a letter that he has many 
friends in the neighbourhood, " Yet I resemble the Israelites, as I long for the 
Land of Cakes, as they did for the onions of Egypt." 


290 HOME [CHAP. 

sense and discretion should have exposed himself without 
necessity to a ragin water in a speat, for the Water of 
May is but a burn for ordinary." 

Condie had been the nominal owner of the estate of 
Gask for years, and it was feared his death would be the 
cause of long complications, but Gask writes that it 

"was not productive of the inconveniency to me that 
many imagined. His sons Tutors did their part in con- 
veying the Estate from him with remarkable expedition 
and alacrety, and on June 27 this long spun out trans- 
action was finished by the old Purchasers disponing it 
to my Mother and Wife in life-rent, and to Mr Will. 
Drummond and others in Fee for my sons' behalf; 
although one of the old Purchasers, Ebenezer, dissented, 
yet all was ended in the way I desired ; . . . and a burthen 
that perhaps discomposed me more than religion allows, 
taken off, and my affairs being now settled, I at freedom 
to depart without anxiety whenever the call may come." 

The year passed otherwise without event. This was 
the last they were to spend all together. It must have 
been a period of quiet happiness for the laird and his 
wife, and for Amelie also among the little children she 
loved. Marjory was now nine years old. 

Colyear Robertson writes to his sister, 23rd September 
1771, about his niece at Gask : 

" I observe by Miss May's manner of writing that 
her present language is very broad Scots which, being that 
of her nurses and servants, could hardly be otherwise. 
That Dialect will not be gracefull in a young Lady of 
her Birth some years hence, for I imagine the language 
we improperly call Scots can at present be looked on in 
no other light than the Patois of Gascony or Provence 
in France." 

All the group were growing into spirited, attractive 
children, though Colyear's remonstrance about the Scots 
tongue was probably well founded. The girls were 
musical and clever ; there are many glimpses of them in 
the letters that passed between Gask and the Robertsons 
at Givet, 


Colyear Robertson writes from Givet to his sister, 
Mrs Oliphant : 

"My DEAR SISTER, M., who is just now spinning 
lint, desires me to make her appology for not writing any 
this time. She says P. has wrote everything she has 
to say, except the Story of the Spindle and Spinning 
wheel which I am just going to have the Honour to relate. 
Before your letter came with the description of the 
Spindle, Bolsters and Bands of a Cotton-spinning wheel, 
and of the manner in which the said spindle runs upon 
the said Bolsters, M. had given over spinning upon the 
cotton-spinning wheel and was begun to spin upon the 
lint-spinning wheel, so that she has not yet made the 
experiment of the cotton-wheel. . . . M.'s reason for 
giving over spinning upon the cotton -wheel and for 
beginning to spin upon the lint - wheel is as follows. 
The Cotton-wheel by its form and structure obliges the 
Spinstress to sit far from the fire, or at least to reach far 
from it, which M. found to be very inconvenient on 
account of the excessive cold weather though the fires 
(which I saw the wood of) are none of the least. S. 
and I have not been out of doors for many days past, 
there being no amusement in the fields great enough to 
engage us to wade through the snow. The sort of game 
this country abounds in most is Wolves, which are just 
now going about in little armies, and howling in the 
night-time round the villages. We had a villager here 
two days ago shewing the head of one which he had 
killed ; if you had it, it would do very well to frighten 
any of your young Ladies into good humour when they 
are a little peevish ; I only mean the two youngest, for 
the eldest is too much of a woman now to be ever out 
of humour. I am not surprised that she was sorry for 
the tragical end of the poor Cow that could not be keept 
within bounds. I think Miss's song is well chosen, but 
these two ' A Lady lookit out at a Castle Window,' and 
the ' Gipsies,' which were my favourite songs when I 
was her age, are in my humble opinion prettier." 

Duncan Robertson writes, 13th June 1772, to his 
daughter : 

" I heard of the chevalier's marriage before it was in 
the publick news ; The Duchesse de Bournsaville had it 

292 HOME [CHAP. 

from Brussels where, it seems, it was first contrived, and 
that lady told it to a friend of mine at Tournay ; that 
was all that ever I heard of it, except that the Gazettes 
carry everywhere ; for I have no correspondence with 
any body excepting my own immediate family." 

In the same letter his wife complains : 

"My dear Daughter writes none of the chit-chat of 
our dear little bodies, which is a great loss to me as I 
read what they say over and over. I suffer a good deal 
for the loss my eldest sister 1 made lately, pray God 
comfort her. O what a number of misfortunes she has 
had ; good Lady Mary is always with the afflicted." 

The matter of Charles Edward's marriage was 
naturally of absorbing interest to the Gask family. All 
the innocent plotting in which Amelie had engaged for 
so many years was now at an end ; she had her desire 
in knowing that her beloved Sovereign was married, 
though not to a Scottish or English lass, as she had so 
earnestly wished. 

She writes, 9th May 1772, to Bishop Gordon : 

"We have got intelligence by this time of ... 
marriage. I do assure you it is only from him (Bishop 
Forbes) by your means that we know anything certain 
about it except what everybody must know. I would 
be glad to know her Christian name, as you know there 
is one expects a little body soon. I leave it to you to 
find out the name if you can." 

Bishop Gordon writes to Forbes from London, 
4th June 1772 : 

"Within these two hours I have been enabled to 
inform you that the Lady's name is Louisa. . . . Pray 
my best respects and every kind wish to the worthy Lady 
who has been so anxious to know the name, and to all 
that worthy family, whom I love and esteem." 

In full faith that all was well, Oliphant writes in his 
journal : 

1 This refers to the death of Lady Strathallan's son, Willie Drummond. 


"Every year brings blessings and comforts and this 
spring a very remarkable one. The King was marry'd by 
Proxy, Mar. 28th, and consumate April 17 at Magerate. 1 
Bless the Lord who revives our Royal Family. Bless 
and Praise him for ever." 

Margaret Oliphant writes to her father at Givet, 
10th May 1772 : 

" We have seldom had a newspaper for some time 
without mention being made of a marriage between the 
Chevalier St. George and a Princess of Stolberg, whose 
Mother is said to be of Scots extraction. People here 
are curious to know more particulars about the story 
which, if you can give by any accident, will be oblig'd 
for, what her Xtian name is, her age. We hear they 
call the Lady, Ann. There is an acquaintance of yours 
that will perhaps be so fond of the novelty as to give 
her a name daughter some time in June, unless she 
have an opportunity of paying such a compliment to 
the husband. May 30. How little do we know what 
a few days will produce, when this was begun all our 
neighbours and friends were in their usual health, but 
Sunday 24th we received an express from Machany with 
accounts that our dear friend Mr William Drummond 
7&s in such a fever that there were little or no hopes 
)f his recovery. Mr Oliphant went there immediately 
found him bedfast but quite calm and sensible, but that 
night he turned insensible, and knew not his old friend 
and cousin when he returned on the Monday to see 
him, but died that afternoon before Mr Oliphant came 
home, with a heavy heart to be sure, tho he carried it 
surprisingly, and acted yesterday as chief mourner at the 
burial of his honest hearted friend, who every one that 
knew justly regrets, but it is the will of God, and as 
such my dear Aunt bears the stroke most unluckily 
Mrs Drummond is abroad, she went by London to Sens 
where Mr T. Nairne lives. Lord grant her strength 
to bear this greatest of all afflictions." 

The baby then expected at Gask was not to be named 

1 Maserati. 




after the new Queen. A boy was born 8th June 1772. 
The father wrote to Bishop Forbes: 

"The child is to be named Charles to-morrow, and 
an oak-bough is to be his chief ornament. I know the 
name-father likes the boys best, therefore will not grudge 
that his Royal Consort does not get the name-daughter 
till next occasion." 

But Charles was the last of the laird's family. 
Mrs Robertson of Strowan writes to her daughter at 
Cask about the birth of Charles, 1 10th July 1772 :- 

"I need not repeat what pleasure and joy it gives 
us to hear of dear Charles' birth and your being in so 
good a way of recovery. I will be impatient to hear 
how Lady Cask is. I am afraid she is at too much 
trouble with the dear little ones and gets cold. I do 
not think they should any of them ly in her room, I 
am sure she will be getting up some times in the night 
if they should want for anything and that must do her 
harm. I am glad for more reasons than one that you 
had a son rather than a daughter since it has pleased 
God to send you one. The Gent that gave me Mr H.'s 
letter told me he saw two letters since that Lady 2 was 
married that you intended to call your Daughter after, 
her name is Louise, as he says both these letters agrees 
in it. Lady Orchal 8 will get many namesakes if that 
be. Pray make my kind compliments to good Lady 
Inchbrakie and tell her I wish her much joy of her 
nephew Charles. 1 know she is very clanish and I 
want to hear how her Daughter has profited at Edinburgh 
and if she continues to be very pretty. I am afraid 
Brother James 4 has done wrong in taking away his 
daughter from Taymount ; what education can he give 
her? The accounts I have from Lady Mary of your 
dear little ones is charming. I wish you would give 
your young horsewoman a sheet of paper and let her 
fill it up with whatever comes in her head and send it 

1 Charles lived till 1797 and died unmarried. 

2 Louise Stolberg, wife of Charles Edward Stewart. 
8 Louisa Nairne, wife of Graeme of Orchill. 

4 James Nairne married Mary Wood. He had an only child, Mary, who 
married Lieutenant Cook. 


me when it is quite full. I will be very poor before 
I grudge paying the postage and I will not trouble her 
with long answers." 

A great many of the Givet letters are taken up with 
details of health and remarkable remedies proposed for 
illness of all kinds. These are better omitted, but it 
is tempting here and there to give a complete letter, or 
series of letters, with all the inconsequence, the gossip, 
and small intimate details that make them alive. The 
following, dated 2nd November 1772, was addressed to 
Mrs Oliphant at Gask by her father, Duncan Robertson, 
at Givet: 

" MY DEAR D., Your letter of Oct. 12 arrived 
Thursday last, we were impatient for it as your dear 
little man l did not seem to be quite out of danger when 
you wrote before ; now we are at ease. I am sorry for 
Lady Gask's troublesome cough, when it is attended with 
defluxion that carries off freely it is dangerous to bind 
it up unless the defluxion is drove to a different course 
by other medicines. I take laudanum to be a desperate 
remedy, in any case I have been frequently sensible of 
its harm but never of its good. I wish Lady Janet had 
some of the Swedish Elixir. Your Mother found the 
immediate benefit of it twice or thrice that she had 
felt some uneasiness. I take it frequently that is when 
I find the smallest disorder, where there is nothing 
violent. I cannot imagine what has given all his friends 
such a terrible aversion to that poor Mr Murray ; Colyear 
has been battered at different quarters about his staying 
some time at Lille, and last of all, as soon as Mr Mercer 
arrived at Tournay he sent him a message to come 
immediately about pressing business, and the pressing 
business was just to bring him to his garrison. 

"Saturday night I had a letter from your brother 
Alexander dated at the Hague the 26th Oct. I suspect 
he is still in his garrison, for the Prince of Orange told 
him flatly that he would not give him leave of absence 
unless he found another Captain of the Regiment to 
supply his place; he had wrote to another Captain do 

1 The baby Charles had been inoculated for smallpox. 




him that favour, but was very doubtful of success. There 
is a certain number of officers allowed to be absent 
upon furloff from the time of exercise till the first of 
April next year, and they take it by turns, unluckily 
it is not Al's turn this year, and the Prince will not 
diminish the number of officers that is appointed to 
remain with the corps, especially in those seaport towns 
where the service is strictly observed and of some 
importance now. Here is a detail that perhaps you 
did not know before : very true, say you, but what my 
business with those details ? Why, if it signifies no more, 
it will help to prevent your running down the poor 
Prince of Orange. I hope your next will inform in 
that Lady Dunmore has got the better of her unlucky 
accident. We have had as fine a harvest and the finest 
vintage time ever known, but we find the prices of 
things little diminished ; the last sack of wheat I got 
a few days ago, stands me just 16 shillings sterling, it 
weighs 200 pounds. Many good wishes to all friends 
and blessings to you and yours from, my dear D., Your 
ever affect., DUNCAN ROBERTSON." 

" I have a long story to tell you of the virtue of fir-buds 
to be taken by way of tea, but I defer it at present. My 
Author says Russian fir-buds, but I believe those of 
Rannoch are as good, such as grow in low deep grounds. 
The juice of fir in many shapes is well known to be 

On the same sheet Mrs Robertson writes to her sister, 
Amelie, at Cask : 

" I give my dear sister thanks for the few lines and 
am glad to hear of your being in the garden with your 
dear little ones. Long may you be together, you cannot 
want amusement as one or other of them will be always 
saying some deverting thing. I am fond of hearing what 
they say at second hand. Wishing you and yours all 
happiness, I only add that I ever am, dear sister, 
aff. yours, MARJORY ROBERTSON." 

Duncan Robertson finishes the sheet : 

"Ame's speech to Jacky 1 would make an excellent 

1 There is no record of what Ame said to Jacky. 


subject for a long dissertation ; having too much of our 
own will or eagerly grasping at more of our own will, 
or grumbling and fretting when anything crosses our 
will constitutes the bulk of human misery. I am very 
glad to hear Lord Rollo l is well ; he and I were at school 
at the same time, and tho not very intimate then, because 
he was too young, we were much so afterwards, and I 
was very fond of him for his honest kind friendly heart. 
His brother Harry 2 and I were much of an age and in 
the same class when we contracted a friendship that 
lasted while he lived. I catch myself now playing the 
old man in earnest, for old people are fond of dwelling 
upon the remembrance of their young days. We had 
Kingsburgh r s 3 Death in the Cologne Gazette, with the 
sum of what was remarkable in his history. I find writing 
uneasy 1st because a few minutes leaning forward hurts 
me so that I write upon a broad book I hold in my hand, 
supported by the back of a high chair. The high chair 
is one of two that your Mother made up for herself and 
me and covered with a very good tartan night-gown, 
which was made into a gown much about the time you 
came into the world (1740) and has been my very use- 
ful companion many a cold night, but now degraded. 
Adieu, my dear Daughter." 

A little later there is a letter from Colyear to his 
sister, dated 20th December 1772, referring to the Murray 
episode, which, however, remains obscure : 

" I am sorry to find that all Mr Murray's friends (I 
mean Lady Elizabeth's husband 4 ) have such an unfavour- 
able notion of him. I went to make Lady Elizabeth a 
visit whenever I heard she was come to Lille. I knew 
nothing of their circumstances nor of their reason for 
leaving England, but found them in great distress for 
want of friends and for want of language. I never was 

1 John, sixth Lord Rollo, succeeded his brother Andrew 1765, and died 1783. 

2 Henry, second son of the fourth Lord Rollo. He married Anne, daughter 
of the second Lord Ruthven, and died without issue. 

3 Lord Kingsburgh died 13th February 1772. 

4 Lady Elizabeth was a daughter of Lord Dunmore, born 1743. She married, 
24th July 1763, Mr Murray, a son of Lord Edward Murray, one of the Duke of 
AthoU's younger sons. He was in the 42nd Highlanders, but took orders in 1770, 
and afterwards was Dean of Killaloe. There were two daughters of the marriage, 
Charlotte, who died unmarried 1819, and Harriet, who married, first, Captain 
Lindley, and second, John T. Staveley. 




so much solicited and pressed to stay anywhere in my 
life and I believe indeed I was of some little use to them, 
for the people seemed to think there was no great harm 
in imposing upon a Milord Anglais ! I procured Mr 
Murray an exemption from Duty by getting another 
officer of our Regiment to join with me in signing an 
Attestation of his Noblesse; I introduced him to M. 
le Comte de May, Lieutenant-General of the Province 
of Flanders and Commandant of Lille, whom it was 
necessary that he should be known to. I likewise wrote 
a letter for him to the Prince de Soubise, which procured 
him a very polite answer from that Prince and a privilege 
of Hunting. But I'm afraid that if his Relations will not 
take the trouble to sollicit a living for him, or an annuity 
for Lady Elizabeth, whom they have nothing to say 
against, his Birth being so well known at Lille will be no 
advantage. Had I received time enough some intelligence 
which was given me afterwards I might possibly have 
prevailed upon them to remove from Lille to some more 
obscure place conformable to their situation." 

So the letters came and went, bringing small excite- 
ments and interests, keeping up the sense of family union. 

But over the little group at Gask the clouds were 
gathering, even while they lived their happy simple days 
in that dearest spot. For the last time they are seen 
together Amelie always a lonely figure in her old age, 
even though the six grandchildren gather round her ; 
Mary Nairne, the Elect Lady ; Laurence the Laird, and 
his wife Margaret ; the broken ruins of the old home 
seem full of these presences to-day, the woods remember 
them, the grassy avenues wait still for their unforgotten 
voices. But the group disperses, melts, reforms again 
into a changed circle. Swiftly and silently the old order 
is changed. 


A DEEP cloud of anxiety hung over the little family at 
Gask, and this time the fear was not on behalf of the 
laird, whose health had been the centre of all thought 
for so many years. The health of the young mother, 
Margaret Oliphant, began to decline, and she de- 
veloped a "stubborn cough." The remedy was sought 
in foreign travel. In spite of the endless fatigues, the 
discomforts, the bad food, the bad housing, then involved, 
it was thought the only hopeful course. Modern science 
would have prescribed life in the garden at Gask, and 
open bedroom windows, but in those days the treatment 
of her dread disease was calculated to hasten the end. 
It was decided that the winter was to be spent in 
Portugal, and that Amelie and her sister, Mary Nairne, 
should remain at Gask in charge of the five younger 
children. Marjory, the eldest girl, then nearly fourteen, 
was to travel with her parents. They set forth in October 
the laird and his lady bidding adieu for ever to the 
mother who had been the star of their joint lives. 

Under the date, 3rd October, Sunday, 1773, Laurence 
Oliphant writes in his journal : 

" Mr Erskine to give us Communion to-morrow before 
our intended journey. 

"Remember a thoro resignation to the will of the 
Father in all things, and stedfast trust and faith in Him 
for bestowing everything proper for us upon our earnest 
and humble petitions, in particular just now to beg my 
wife's health may be strengthened and confirmed. Strive 



against firyness and frettfulness of temper, cheque appetite 
at meals, no salt Fridays, that it may be keept more under 

They went first to the Drummonds at Wimbledon, 
and sailed for Lisbon on 13th November. 

The time of Amelie's departure was drawing near, 
and rather than follow the adventures of the travellers, 
imagination clings to the last days of the gentle and 
spirited woman, who almost for the first time in any 
family crisis was assigned the inactive part. When son 
and daughter and the little granddaughter had ridden 
away down the hill on the first stage of their long journey, 
she would turn back to the household duties, to daily 
cares for the sister she loved, and for the five little ones, 
with an accustomed sense of responsibility. All her life 
she had borne burdens for those dear to her heart, and 
life was prized for the chances it offered of enfolding 
them in a care that knew neither discouragement nor 
the need of rest. To the very end she was at work. 
Very eagerly must all the party at Gask have looked for 
the letters of the travellers, and the following, from little 
Marjory to her grandmother, would be full of interest 
and amusement to the children. 


" (40 miles from London), 

"Nov. 9,1773. 

" DEAR GRANDMAMA, We was at Wimbeldon 
yesterday with Mr Hary Drummond and Elizebes, 1 and 
came today from that place to Hartford. Sir William 
Stirling and his Lady was there too. Mama's cough is 
better, in general, and very seldom sleeps ill. Papa has 
had nothing of the Astma since we came to London, and 
I as fat as a pig. We went to see our namesakes the 
Elephants at Bukinggam house, they are monstrous 
Creatures indeed, they would about stand in the high 
Dining room at Gask, they have short but stout legs, are 
of a mouse colour with only a few scatring hairs, in short 

1 Elizabeth, daughter of the Hon. Charles Compton, and wife of Henry 
Drummond. She died 25th March 1819. 


you will find them described in the book of Beasts, please 
ask Miss Anny how she would like to ride in a castle 
upon their backs. I admire the whispring Galery at St 
Pauls and the Geamethricall stair. I am glad to hear 
my Brothers and Sisters are well I am teething to keep 
Charles Company. I saw a fine Lion in the Tower. I 
am Dr G. your most aff. Grand child, 


Mrs Oliphant writes to her mother-in-law from Lisbon, 
8th December 1773 : 

" Tho it is not yet 2 months since we left you, dear 
Madam, and the little bodies, it appears like a long 
quarter of a year since we arrived in this large, irregular, 
confused and very stinking city. We had a visit from 
General Maclean our Countryman, who is at present the 
principal commander of all the troops in Portugal, the 
Count de la Lippe being absent, who is the only one 
above him. He remembers Inchbrakie when in the 
Dutch service. The General and all the Scots to be 
found in Lisbon were invited to dine with Mr Mayne 
the Banker on St Andrews Day, we were about 30 in 
all, only 3 ladies including May." 

In January little Carolina, then seven years old, had 
the following letter from her sister at Seville ; it is 
perhaps the first letter she ever received : 

" DR CAROLIN, --I wrote to Ame last and will to 
Laurence next. We have been in the Kings Gardens 1 
here which are finely ornamented with orange and lemone 
trees, and walls in their hygest Bauty though no flowers. 
I am your aft. sister, M. O." 

She continues to her grandmother : 

" I dont well know what to say but however will 
pretend to it. This is a very dirty place and cold some- 
times. We went to see two gardens of the Kings and 
one of his brothers. At the Kings there was an elephant 
in better order but not so tall as the one we saw at 

1 The King of Portugal had a wooden palace at this time, not having had a 
solid one built since the earthquake. 


Though Lady Gask had now reached what was in 
those days considered extreme old age, she yet retained 
a firm grasp upon the practical management of the house- 
hold. A hundred and forty years ago there existed in 
the relations between mistress and servants a note of 
personal interest, now lost, a survival of the old Scottish 
days, fading even then into the grey shadows of a far 
past, when the lady and her maids shared the occupa- 
tions of life in the long hours of spinning, weaving and 
preserving, when she sat among them, not only as a 
monitor, but as a companion. With the decline of feudal 
feeling, the possibility of this intercourse also declined. 
But in the second half of the eighteenth century, indi- 
vidual character and opinion had not ceased to count in 
the estimate of a servant's capacity for usefulness. If 
unflinching devotion to duty was expected on the part 
of a maid, on the part of the mistress there must have 
been that living and personal interest which has in some 
manner dropped out of modern domestic life. The 
following memorandum, in Amelie's handwriting, while 
showing that the " servant question " existed even then, 
also shows the relation in which employed and employers 

"As Margaret Campbell's principles both in church 
and state were agreeable to my own, I proposed to have 
kept her with me till my death, as I hate changes of 
servants especially about myself, and did my best to shew 
her the faults she is most adicted to. But pride is so 
predominant a fault in her that tho she had more good 
qualitys than she has, they are all swallowed up in that 
Devilish and most intolerable fault of pride, of which 
I could give many instances, and indeed hardly a day 
passes without some, which 1 often tell her of, but I see 
it is too deeply rooted in her to be removed, at least by 
me, as she seems to be quite careless of any advice I give 
her. Fain I would have had her learn, first to know 
something of the kitchen that in time she might be 
capable at least of helping to direct another, and this task 
Mrs Oliphant was to take upon her, no, she said that was 
far below her and would be very sorray if any friend she 


had would know ever she was in a kitchen. She was 
indulged in that, and never after desired to do anything 
of the kind. When washing, which she seems to like as 
ill, absolutely refused to wash any of the other servants 
linins, said she wondered they had the face to bid her. 
When dressing, Mrs M'Donald who is a very good 
Dresser and was desired to learn her and was shewing her 
how to do, she said she could dress before she came here, 
the fact is, she cannot dress a shirt near as it ought to be, 
no starch and fining at all. 

" N.B. The linins she refused to wash was, Beaty 
Clarcks. What made it the odder Beaty Clarck went to 
the kitchen, tho unwilling, in Pegie Frasers place, whom 
Meg Campbell sett of, and made the poor girl take an 
oath that she never would enter the kitchen door, tho 
Meg Campbell was the one that brought Pegie Fraser 
here on purpose for the kitchen. Mrs Oliphant thought 
her too young for the charge, but Meg insisted she would 
do very well, intreated Mrs Oliphant to take her, which 
she did intirely on Meg Camps account. This was the 
return Mrs Oliphant met with for her good nature." 

About another servant old Lady Cask writes, July 
1773 : 

" Hariot has the inclination to do well, but one more 
ignorant I never saw, very dull at taking up, she can 
neither wash nor dress. I made a trial of her of my two 
capes you gave the borders to, she made them a rare 
figure. She said she did not give herself out for a washer 
and dresser, because of her principles. I thought she 
might be useful about the three eldest children but I find 
she is much troubled with scurvy which makes me 
uneasie for poor Jeany that sleeps with her." 

In the same letter she says : 

"It is a pity you canot get a peep of our Drawing 
room just now, it is so well filled with Ladys and Gentle- 
men who I left just now to end my letter Miss Ay ton 
and Miss Johnston, the eight newe chairs 1 filled besides 

1 Mrs Ayton, a frequent visitor at Gask, mother of the Poet Ayton, 
embroidered seats for eight chairs in the Old House. They are now at Ardblair 


three armed ones and the couch. They have been very 
diverted with Laurie chusing a wife, which he was to do 
by throwing his handkerchief." 

The last gardening account of old Lady Gask belongs 
also to this year. The plants the descendants of some 
of them doubtless are still flourishing in the glades of 
Gask all came from Cultoquhey and were supplied by 
Margaret Eagle. 

" 100 large larch trees, ten shillings. 
60 Spanish chestnuts. 
Horse Ditto. 
Holly hocks, Is. 1 Peach. 
1 Plumb, 9d. 
1 Double Sweet briar. 

1 Double Blush sweet briar. 

100 fine English chestnuts, one and sixpence. 

2 Ibs. Irish whins. 
200 fine Artichock." 

The following is Amelie's last letter from Bishop 
Forbes. It is dated " Aug. 1 after Vespers 1773." 

" MADAM, Having got notice of a private Bearer to 
get off early to-morrows Morning, and though little time 
be allowed me, yet I cannot fail to acquaint your Lady- 
ship that last week I had in my custody for two days an 
excellent miniature picture of a certain aimable lady, 1 
commonly called in the place where she resides THE 
QUEEN OF HEARTS. Tho' the picture be very beautiful 
yet tis strongly affirmed, that the Original far exceeds it. 
I sighed for an invisible Cloak and a pair of wings to take 
a sudden Flight to Auld Hall 2 and to return after feast- 
ing some eyes, as suddenly; but wishes are vain and 

misgiving. Some Anglicans have taken a trip to on 

purpose to see the charming Fair God bless you and 

all yours. In haste, but most cordially. A Dieu, Dear 
Lady, A Dieu." 

The long winter wore on. The laird and lady with 
Marjory were at Seville. Margaret sent home verses to 

1 Louise Stolberg, wife of Charles Edward Stewart. 

2 Gask House. 


Cask describing the hardships of these travels. One or 
two entries in Laurence's journal throw light on the 
progress of events : 

" 1774. Begun the year at Seville by my being fretted 
and out of humour at our situation. Yet so-so private 
lodgings were got, and a coach." 

" Feb. My wife recovered considerably." 

" Mar. Not so well. Cough returned on catching 
cold and anxiety of different kinds with accounts of my 
Mothers illness gave distress." 

" I was scrimpt in money partly by my own thought- 
lessness and thereby a journey home by land prevented." 

The slow spring was just touching the trees and hills 
of Strathearn into a renewal of life, when Amelie Oliphant 
sunk under her last illness. Her son and his wife and 
child were turning their faces homeward, but they were 
destined to find a changed circle. 

The Gask household at the time consisted of the five 
children, their great aunts Mary and Henrietta Nairne and 
Amelie herself. She was in failing health, but not acutely 
ill. One morning her sister Mary, the Elect Lady, came 
into her room before breakfast, and Amelie asked her to 
say a prayer, which she did, extempore, as there was no 
book in the room. She told Henrietta afterwards that 
she had made it out better than she expected, as she had 
never tried before. An hour or two afterwards, while 
writing a letter in her room, Mary herself was taken 
ill. Some inflammatory trouble was the cause, and she 
lived only seven days. Henrietta wrote l to Mrs Robertson 
at Givet : 

" She was quite sensecable and distink to the last and 
as you know, good soul, it was a period she had long been 
wishing and expecting ; Dy'd resigned and composed as 
she had lived. She dy'd the 2 of March. As I know 
it was her inclenation to be buriead at Achtergeven 
(tho on her death bed she said 'were the Pig breaks, 
let the sheles lye') there she was caread in a Hearse, and 

1 The letter is printed in the Jacobite Lairds, p. 380. 



according to a plan she had drawn some years ago of 
the He there, which she had always in her pocket book, 
was she laide beside my Father and dear Nephew James 
Nairne." 1 

The strange part of the story is that Amelie never 
knew of her sister's death, or even of her illness. The 
House of Gask was not large, and it is difficult to under- 
stand how Amdie, who all through her own illness was 
for the most part conscious, could have been unaware of 
so severe a sickness near at hand, and that all the stir and 
sounds inevitable in removing the body in a hearse, could 
not have penetrated to her own sick-room. Yet she 
heard and saw nothing. Fourteen days afterwards she 
also was carried from the house to her last resting-place 
in the churchyard of Gask. 

The letter written on the occasion by Bishop Forbes 
to Bishop Gordon is here given, though it has been already 
printed more than once : 2 

" Alas dear Sir, Lady Gask is no more ; She expired 
after five weeks illness on the 18th instant half after two 
o'clock afternoon having received the Viaticum, and was 
sensible and distinct to the very last, aged about seventy 
five. I may with great truth say : ' Woe is me, for the 
faithful are minished from among the children of men.' 
The Church never had a more faithful daughter, nor the 
King a more steady and loyal subject. She bore up 
under all the trials and difficulties of life with a firmness 
and constancy, a mildness and cheerfulness of mind, not 
to be outdone by any other. When her Ladyship was 
in use of coming over from foreign parts to do the business 
of the family, she displayed a fortitude, calmness and 
application, endearing and instructive. I admired, I re- 
spected her. Gone she is, I hope, to reap the fruit of her 
labours, and may all her descendants tread in her steps. 
Be she with God and God with her." 

No letter records the grief of her devoted son. He 

1 James Nairne. eldest son of the third Lord Nairne. He died uumarrie 

2 In the Jacobite Lairds and the Lyon in Mourning. 


was on his way home, having received the news of the 
death of the Elect Lady, and of the serious illness of 
his mother. On 23rd April he records: 

" Got accounts of my dear dear Mother's death as 
we were going aboard the Susana, Captain Dobson, for 
London. Her illness and fever began with a bad cold 
on Feb. 13th." 

His grief was soon to be swallowed up in another and 
deeper bereavement : 

" May 28. Came ashore at Dover after a passage of 
thirty-six days. My wife always sick, but free of cough 
during the voyage, not so well after landing." 

" 30. Arrived in London. While there my wife 
feverish and her cough returning. Better twelve days 
at Wimbleton." 

" June 23. Set out for Scotland, were at Edinburgh, 
Orchil and Inchbrakie." 

"July 4. Came to Gask, and for some days all went 
pretty well, but much affected with remembrance of my 

Yet the sad blank of the homecoming must have been 
lightened by some joys. All could not have been tears 
and sorrow, when Margaret greeted her children once 
more after so many months of separation. But there was 
little else to cheer the wanderers. The hardships of the 
journey from Spain the storms and discomfort of six 
miserable weeks, had reduced Margaret's health to a 
desperate condition. She must surely have known that 
she had come home to die. Comparatively little is known 
of her inner character, until this last illness brought into 
pathetic relief the gentle fortitude of her nature. In the 
midst of the group of little children so urgently needing 
her, with the invalid husband dependent on her care, 
surely these last weeks at Gask must have been full of 
anguish. No word of it escapes her, nor is there any 
echo of self-pity or complaint. The story of her death 
has been often told ; but no excuse is needed for re-telling 
it in the actual words of those who were with her. 


" July 17. My wife thought dangerously ill." 

" 29. Carry 'd to an airing in the garden and turned 

" Oct. 23. The last day with us at dinner and remark- 
ably cheerful with Inchbrakie, yet declining fast." 

" 25. Came to sleep below stairs no more airings in 
the chaise." 

" 29. Very weak. Received the Communion Mr 
Erskin." 1 

" Nov . 4. Died ea^yly and quite sensible about 7 at 
night. Burry'd in the grave of Laurence, my great-great- 
great-grandfather, who by his will ordered the isle, which 
his widow executed." 

Another hand left a record of the last details : 

"Mrs Oliphant gave her Husband several months 
before being indisposed, on the day they were wrote, 
the following lines to the tune of an air she had heard 
at Venice : 

" ' O may I be continued in this state of life, 

The mother of fine children, my husband's happy wife, 
Until the day I'm called away from all that's here below, 
That day will be, most blest to me, I humbly hope it so. 

" ' Dictated by a serene heart and wrote with a steady hand 
March 1773.' 

" Ten days before her death, said to prepare her 
husband that he seemed, as well as her Aunt Henret, 
not to think her so ill as she was, added, ' It's hard to 
regrate my going to be happy, as I hope to be.' He 
said he hoped the separation would not be long reply ed 
she hoped it would for the children's sake. 

"The day before her death desired the six children 
might be brought to her, embraced each of them, and 
as they were going away said, ' See who will be the 
best child and stay most with their Papa.' Said to her 
husband when they were gone, 'You see how easily I 
can part with the children ; I know they are in good 
hands.' That day her Husband endeavouring to make 
her easy, said, ' We will not be long parted, the time 

1 The Episcopal minister at Muthil aud the staunch frieud of the 


will appear short, I'll keep up well and only suppose 
you to be gone to a foreign country for health.' ' Yes,' 
she answered, ' and you'r sure I'll find it.' He observing 
to her that she was going to meet with a sister, a Boy, 
and many dear friends to be happy with, answered, ' No 
doubt I'll be glad to see them all, but when I see our 
Saviour I'll probably be little taken up with them.' 

" The forenoon of her death Friday Nov. 4, 1774, took 
from her husband two small bits of Bisquit dipt in a 
glass of Tent and water ; he drank the remainder of 
the glass to their merry meeting again, and she thanked 

" He desired of her after death to ask of her Creator 
to be allowed to come and be about him to keep him 
from many faults he might fall into, said she would, 
and that it might be, that spirits would be allowed to 
be about their friends here. 

" Among the last distinct things she said in the 
afternoon betwixt five and six to the Clergyman after 
a prayer, ' I have hardly breath, Mr Erskine, to thank 
you for your coming.' 

" Died calmly between seven and eight as the recom- 
mendatory prayer was saying ; about an hour before 
said, ' Is it not time now meet for the recommendatory 
prayer?' Dr Wood who attended her, but was not 
present at her death, wrote from Perth : ' I never saw 
young or old resigne life in so dutyfull and so becoming 
a manner.' 

" Mrs Oliphant a few days before her death asked to 
see some of the old Scots Magazines and in the year 
1750, page 360, found the Dying Christian's Soliloquey, 
a poem which she was then able to read over herself 
and had it read to her several times afterwards by others, 
twice by her Husband. 

" ' The world recedes, it flies from view.' " 

The children, too young at the time to understand all 
their irreparable loss, fulfilled in time to come the wishes 
of the dying mother. Not one of the four daughters 
married in the father's lifetime, nor did either of the sons 
embark on a career away from home. Laurence outlived 
his gentle wife for eighteen years, and the story of these 


years, traced in his journal and in the family letters, 
though one of purely domestic interest, yet shows how 
strenuously still the true Jacobite clung to the faith. 

On the last day of this year of bereavement he 
wrote : 

" Nineteen years and a half did I enjoy the blessing 
of a good wife too little prized, therefor must say I 
merited the loss. ... In the meantime I'm favoured 
with six fine children, easy circumstances, and a dear 
good Aunt Lady Herriot to manage the family and be 
a guardian to the children." 

Years after he wrote : 

" Tuesday I made my weekly visit to the graves of 
my worthy Parents and dear wife, but nought save the 
rubbish of them lies there, only fit to keep in mind they 
were. The noble parts enjoy the Vision of the Saviour 
and are employed as the Creator sees fitt. I desired my 
wife when dying to ask of that Glorious being to be per- 
mitted to be about me. . . . And I have no doubt that 
infinite Goodness has permitted it, the more as she is 
part of me, and we designed to be united in the strictest 
union for ever." 

The widower was not left to face the problem of 
managing a house full of servants and six young children 
by himself. The youngest of the Nairne sisters, 
Henrietta, 1 consented to take charge of the establish- 
ment, " to continue my comfort and comforter till May 
becomes a woman." It seems that Henrietta never gave 
any definite promise to remain at Gask, and a fear that 
she will leave her post and his affairs be left to the tender 
mercies of Marjory, his eldest girl, then evidently at a 
trying stage of development, tinges his letters and 
journals with anxiety, as some of the following extracts 
show : 

" 1775. This year has calmly passed, nothing remark- 
able and good health added. . . . Comfort in my six fine 

1 Henrietta Nairne was then sixty. She remained at Gask till her death in 


children and their kind guardian, inward satisfaction. In 
place of this year moving heavyly as I might naturally 
expect, it has run prodigiously, the employments that 
succeed one another makes time pass rapidly, no vapours, 
no languid hours, a gentle hurry, though alone, pushes on 
the day and night comes wellcom." 

" Nov. 18. Bishop Forbes died, soon followed by his 

The following were addressed to the Robertsons at 
Givet, and dated 2nd March 1775 : 

" DEAR SISTER, When Davie Graeme l left Scotland 
Mr Oliphant was so kind as write Orchil and his Lady 
and eldest son to pass a week hear which they did, the 
poor lady is a good deal in the dumps you can easily 
believe, on her son's going on such a disagreable hazardys 
expedition ; I dont know if you have heard of the increase 
of Lord Dunmore's family, his Lady is delivered of a 4th. 
daughter, who is named Virgine. 2 I leave you to make 
my kindest good wishes were due except of the same to 
yourself from my dear sisters, aft. 


"DEAR GRAND MAMA, If Uncle Colyear had not 
been gone I intended to have wrote a few lines to him 
in this letter ; That he might not think I had taken the 
pet again ; but since my Uncle is gone it is not my fault, 
though indeed I might have wrote long ago. I have 
begun lately to one of your works, I mean the spinning. 
I like it very well, tho' I make but little hand of it, for I 
have spun but about fiv^ hairs. Both my sisters intend 
to write, so must leave room for them. Your dutifull 
grand- child. MARJORY OLIPHANT." 

"DEAR GRAND MAMMA, Your not writing to us 
will never hinder us from writing to you, if my dear 
Papa will alow. I have a great many Valantines and 
among the rest I have all Inchbrakie's sons and I have 
Mr Hollo's son, he has but one son, and I have likewise 

1 David, second son of Louisa Nairne and Graeme of Orchill. He sailed at 
this time with the transports for America, and was killed at Bunkers Hill, July 

2 Virginie, ninth child of the fourth Lord Dunmore, Governor of Virginia. 
By official request she was named after the Colony. She died unmarried. 


the Duke of Hamilton 1 who is a very good man, for 
Aunt Heriot recommends him greatly. Please give my 
duty to G. P. and my Uncle. I am your most humble 
servant and Dutiful Grand-child. 


" DEAR GRANDMAMMA, This is the first time ever 
I wrote to you, but I hope it will not be the last, please 
give my duty to G.P. I am dear G.M. your aff. G.C. 


This last written in a very large hand is perhaps 
Carolina's first letter. 

Another letter belonging to this year is from Bishop 
Forbes (unsigned as usual) to Laurence Oliphant at Gask, 
25th September 1775 (Monday) : 

" I heard lately of your Favourite Family 2 they are 
in good health and still at Florence. I doubt not of 
your remembring Thursday 3 last in a proper manner. 
The American affair is every day turning more and more 
serious, printed papers are flying throughout England 
tending to excite a Rising. One of them has a peculiar 
Title Sidneys Exhortation, as if his ghost were come 
from the dead to awaken and rouse in the cause of 
boasted Liberty. 

"Commending you and all yours to God and his 
protection. A Dieu, Dear Sir, A Dieu." 

A page or two of the laird's record of events gives 
the best idea of these early years of his widowhood : 

" Ap. 1777, Sat. In the evening Lady Henrietta 
talking as if Marjory might now answer to keep the 
house in her place alarmed me. ... I will hope that 
my dear Aunt's heart will be turned to continue with 
the children till our gratious Father makes us all to be 
happy together." 

"June. James Moray Abercairney carry 'd off by 
a fever after a few days illness and no lucid intervals ; 
how watchful and prepared should we passengers be." 

1 The eighth Duke of Hamilton, at this time nineteen years old. 

2 w The Royal Stewarts. 

**" September 21st, the date of the victory of Prestonpans. 


"Sat. Reproved Marjory for improper speech day 
before going to Invermay (Her aunt Henrietta not here) 
was sensible, bless the Lord." 

"Sun. 29th. Laurie made a glaring lie about Pit- 
keatly water, powered it in the ashes and said he had 
drank it. Chastised and sensible of fault." 

"Nov. Marjory I think considerably better of her 
wrong contradicting humour." 

" Thurs. Xmas. Glorious day beginning with rather 
more cheerful sense of the day than usual, but sadly 
damped at dinner Lady Henrietta talking of Marjory 1 
being put at the head of the table, sometime hence, 
showing by that still to have the intent of leaving me. 
A considerable change for the better in Marjory's 

" Tho my three great requests do not fulfill so far 
as perhaps I could wish yet they'll be accomplished in 
their season or their equivalent, and the 4th too, for the 
Restoration of the Royall Familie and virtue to these 
nations. Amen. 

"This year ends the Dizaine too and little I have 
gained in ten years space, only that my cross firy humour 
is a little softened and my thoughts more off the things 
of this life since my dear wife's death. How tolerably 
has Laurie advanced in his learning without a preceptor 
by Mr Kemp's help, so as at least to equall severall of 
his age at school in the neighbourhood, and his morals 
in Loyalty and Religion guarded by being at home. 

" Marjory too turning gradually to a more engaging 
behaviour. And how great fleets and armies yet little 

" 1780. Continued in peace and plenty with the 
comforts of the dear Aunts and children. Marjory doing 
better and the Penitential letter she wrote her Aunt 
Henrietta showing her intention good. 

"Among the deaths of the year, Jamy Menzies of 
Woodend formerly one of my earliest companions. 
Women and wine led him astray and a consumption in 

1 Aunt Henrietta's estimate of Marjory was higher than that of the child's 
father. She writes to her sister : ' ( Your grandchild May is realy a fine discret 
girle and does and knows things I must say more than could be expected from 
one of her years, so I am hopefull the time is not far distant when she will 
be capable to be much more usefull than I can be as she is rising to maturity 
and I going down the brea as fast as she is coming up." 


" 1781. Not remarkable for events. In February 
Caroline fell down the back stairs, an accident common in 
the family. She suffered little by it. A little discomposed 
with Laury and Charles triffleing and laughing at lessons." 

" June. Remember the many thoughtless mis- 
behaviours I committed while serving the King, then 
Prince, the only way to attone is by much fervour in 
my Prayers for his Majesty's health and comfort here 
and eternall happiness in Heaven." 

" 20. My dear Aunts Orchill and Henrietta left me 
to go to Crieff. What great obligations have I to dear 
Lady Henrietta who has acted the part of a Mother to 
her grand nephews and nieces for seven years past." 

A letter from Louisa Nairne shows he did not let 
them settle at Crieff without an effort to uproot them. 
She writes to Cask from Crieff, 5th December 1781 : 

"My DEAR NEPHEW, 1 had the pleasure of yours 
last week with a kind invitation to my sister and me to 
go to stay for some time at Gask. I thought to have 
got myself something settled at Home this winter tho I 
have been here some time I cannot say I have yet got done, 
but as you think it would be a favour our going to stay 
a while shall comply with your request, tho it should be 
inconvenient, as I am and always shall retain a Gratefull 
sence of your kindness to me, so I intend, and my sister 
if in health, to wait on you against Christmas and stay 
till the beginning of March, and if it is not inconvenient 
to the famile bring my maid along with me and pay my 
Board as formerly. Your ever afft. Aunt and most 
obedient humble servant, LOUISA GRAEME." 

While on this visit Louisa died at Gask on 5th April, 
and was buried at Aberuthven on 9th April 1782. Her 
host and nephew says : 

" Of my two dear Aunts that favoured me with their 
company the one, Lady Orchill, took an illness and died, 
I hope from no mismanagement here. Her patience in 
sharp pain was remarkably edifying." 

The house at Crieff was evidently given up, and Henrietta 
remained at Gask. 


In the same year are the following records : 

" Nov. 22. Mr Maxtone, Cultoquhey died at eleven of 
ten minutes illness. How soon may my happy hour 
come ! " 

" Dec. Birthday and last of the year. Several of our 
neighbours did me the favour to come and drink His 
Majesty's health, now 61. All went pretty well and we 
loyaly closed the year." 

Laurence Oliphant had also endeavoured to get 
Charlotte Robertson, " Lady Lude," to fill the blank in 
the household when Henrietta left. He addresses her as 
" dear loyal Ladie " : 

" Will my dear Aunt come and be a companion to me 
and a guardian to them and keep them loyal ? in which 
I shall assist you, and we shall drink to the King and his 
happy Restoration every day till it be over." 

Though the letters and journals of the laird are often 
pitched in a minor key, and though the young lives were 
shadowed by the loss of the mother and the ill-health of 
the father, the House of Gask must have been fiill of eager 
active life and merriment as the six fine children grew 
up. As to their education, the best of what was then 
thought essential was given. There was a governess, 
Mrs Cramond ; a tutor, Mr MacDonald, who was also 
chaplain ; a dancing master ; and regular visits from a 
fiddler for practise in this last accomplishment. A gay 
little letter l from, one of the girls gives an idea of their 
amusements : 

"Neil Gow, a famous Highland fiddler, having been 
appointed to be at Orchill last month, I was asked there 
in hopes of having a fine dance, and Neil ran in my head 
for several days. Well, away I went, but no Neil that 
day ; well, to-morrow will bring him ; but to-morrow 
came and went in the same manner. At last comes music 
at supper the second day ; but alas ! it was a scraper, the 
only one of three or four that were sent for that were not 

1 Written by Margaret, afterwards Mrs Keith of Ravelston. The letter is 
printed in Roger's Memoir of Lady Nairne. 


engaged ; but however the spirit moved us and away with 
tables chairs and carpets in a moment ; we had but three 
beaus ; one of them, not liking the music, took a sprained 
ankle ; the other bassed to the fiddler in hopes of improving 
him ; Meggy Grahame could not dance, so that our ball 
was principally carried on by three, for the storm froze up 
the company as well as Neil Gow. I can dwell no longer 
on the subject though it produced great mirth." 

The old Laird of Strowan writes to one of his grand- 
daughters at Gask in 1778 : 

" I'm curious to hear Niell Gow that you commend so 
much that I might compare him with Kennedy and old 
Cattenach, who were the best hands at country music that 
I ever heard . . . you say the Minuet is wearing out of 
fashion, which is a mark of bad taste in dancing. As to the 
behaviour of the Gentlemen in the Edinburgh Assemblies, 
it shows that they hold the society of the Ladies too cheap, 
therefore I think the Ladies, in justice to the respect that 
is naturally due to them, should give up that Assembly. 
It was a very decent genteel meeting of good company 
fifty- two years ago, when it was first set up." 

The following is an extract from a letter from Colyear 
Robertson to Marjory Oliphant, at Gask, 8th March 1779, 
giving an idea of Paris fashions : 

" If I had thought of it in time I would have sent you 
a drawing of a cap which I have got from Paris, a 
commission I undertook for a young Lady in Holland. 
It is the admiration of all Beholders, being in the newest 
and most Court- worn taste. 

" It has a tow'ring feather on the Right, a drooping one 
on the Left, and a bouquet of Jasmin in the Centre. 
Likeways a Bouquet of Hyacinths towards the Left, and 
a fine Gilly flower with Buds almost hid behind the high 
Feather on the Right. The whole is surrounded with a 
row of large Pearls (not real) from which hangs down at 
the left side and far back, a dangling Bunch of Pearls 
something like a Bell. There is a great deal of Blonde 
and Gaze bunching out on all sides I was obliged to send 
for a Wright to open the Box to satisfy the curiosity of 
some that wanted to see it." 


Altogether it was not an unduly sober and subdued 
household in which Carolina Oliphant spent her childhood 
and youth. Her father kept up a keen interest in friends 
and neighbours, in old family history, and in his duties 
to tenants and dependents. 

In this year he records : 

" The particular satisfaction of fifty seven children of 
this Parish Inoculate here. 

" Oct. 17. Christy Moryce gave the hint. All took 
the infection save one and all hapily recovered." 

Amelia years afterwards describes this event : 

" My father sent for a Physician from Perth who with 
one or two apprentices gave the infection to about sixty 
children at Gask in one day, (besides many others at their 
own homes about the same time) from a young lad who 
was brought to one of the offices, having the natural 
smallpox upon him, of a very favorable sort." 

In the handwriting of the laird is a prayer he used 
on this occasion, beginning : 

" O Lord from whom health only can come, look 
favourably on the endeavours used to soften the effects of 
a loathsom desease to the children of this Parish and 
neighbourhood, and grant thy blessing on these en- 

The following batch of family letters speak for them- 
selves. A letter dated at Gask, 9th August 1782, begins 
with the laird to Duncan Robertson : 

"DEAR SIR, Though I have not yet received your 
July letter I begin to write, least you should think 
something were the matter with us. As Marjory wrote 
you from Taymount I need not mention good Lady 
Dunmore's 1 death, who gently dropt, a ripe fruit in 
comfortable old age. . . . You will remember that Mrs 
Lindsay had two daughters to Mr John Graeme of 
Dubheads, the eldest Mary died long ago, the 2nd Amelie 
was married, I suppose five years ago, to Mr Ratray of 
Dalrulzien, lived there, had three daughters but miscarried 

1 Catherine Nainie, Dowager Lady Dunmore. She died 20th July 1782. 


of a son July 22, died, the child lived a short time. Mr 
Graeme is supporting the loss surprisingly. Mrs Mary is 
still going about at Perth fatt and fair, and Mrs Graem, 
Capt. Peters of Inchbrakie widow, stays there too and 
is well. Lady Blairfetty in good health just now at 
Tullybelton keeping company to Lady Lude 1 who has 
got her great-grand-daughter Menzies inoculated there 
tother day. Yrs. LAURENCE OLIPHANT." 

On the same sheet Amelia writes : 

" My dear Grandmother is I hope by this time perfectly 
recovered of that troublesome fall you had some time ago. 
We have not been at nor heard of any dance lately worth 
describing to you. The Harpsichord goes on but soberly 
at present for want of a master, however we expect one 
soon. ... I am just come upstairs a moment from the 
dancing. . . . There generally comes a fidler once a week 
to keep us in mind of our dancing. ... A. O." 

Another hand adds : 

" Your nephew Strathallan 2 got in May or June rank 
of Lieut. Coll. and not a month after a Company in the 
first Regt. foot guards, and without purchase and about 
the same time Henry Russell infeft him in Lands and 
Estate of Machany. Old Clark Russell is dead some 

Marjory next writes her line : 

"Mv DEAR GRAND MAMA, It is very long since I 
had the pleasure of writing to you, we have always hopes 
of seeing our dear Parents sometime or other though we 
have been in suspense very long. . . . My sister Amelia 
is grown very tall this while past. I suppose Carolina will 
be near as tall. ..." 

Carolina writes herself: 

" Since Margt. mentions growing tall, I must inform 

1 Mrs Robertson of Lude's daughter, Margaret Robertson of Tullibelton, had a 
daughter Charlotte married to Menzies of Culdares. 

2 Andrew John Drummond, second son of James, fifth Viscount Strathallan 
and Eupheme Gordon. He petitioned fruitlessly in 1787 for a restoration of the 
family title and honours. He died unmarried in 1817, when the representation of 
the family devolved upon his cousin James Andrew, the son of William Drummoiid 
and Ann Nairne, to whom the title was restored in 1824. 


you that she has got the start of Lau, and will be very 
soon taller than your dutifull afft. Grandchild, 


Laurence Oliphant writes l to the same again on 27th 
February 1783 :- 

" We have lost our Minister Mr Erskine, he died the 
2nd after a months distress very painfull to him towards 
the end, but continued perfectly sensible, ordered every- 
thing about his funeral, and spoke to his son not five 
minutes before his death. He is a promising boy Willy 2 
about 12, an excellent scholar has a Bursary at Glasgow 
College ; he has left a daughter 3 and a young son, was 
73, and had been at Muthil 50 years. . . . No further 
accounts of Nephew Pety Graeme's death, and still some 
faint hopes of his brother Laurie 4 as it is said Lord 
Keppel told several that the 'Ville de Paris' and 
' Glorieux ' were both safe in a Neutral port, but keept 
the name of the place private for their security." 

The following is addressed to Laurence Oliphant, 
Gask, from William Murray: 

" DONCASTEB, August 3rd 1783. 

" MY DEAR SIR, You will be surprised to hear I am 
so far advanced into England when I had not mentioned 
my intention to you before, it was neither from a want of 
confidence or affection which will ever be very great to one 
I so highly regard and esteem, know this my dear Sir, I 
am so far on my way to fullfill a very old engagement not 
less than 14 years standing, which would have taken 
place long since had prudence not prevented it, from which 
you will easily guess its matrimony I mean, and with 
confidence I say with one of the most amiable of women 
near my own age, whose affection no misfortune that 
ever befell me could ever diminish, on the contrary my 
most unlucky fall last Autumn has I think added to it. 
Two friends that are sollicitors to join their little stocks 
together, and contribute to each others happiness by 

1 Part of this letter is given in the Jacobite Lairds, p. 398. 

8 William Erskine, born 1768. Margaret Oliphant of Gask was his god- 
mother, and Laurence Oliphant and Willie Drummond were godfathers. He 
was christened by the Jacobite Bishop Forbes. Afterwards he became Lord 
Kinedder, the friend of Sir Walter Scott. 

* Afterwards Mrs Colquhoun of Killermont, the friend of Carolina Oliphant. 

4 Both these sons of Inchbrakie were dead. 


every means in their power. Can you thus, my dear Sir, 
be surprized that I should be most anxious to procure 
such a friend for Life who is most capable and willing to 
soothe and alleviate my feelings which, from the peculiarity 
of my unfortunate shake, I must be sensible of, and by 
that means make me not only resigned but most thankfull 
for God's Goodness to me? To you who have such a 
just value for merit I am persuaded it will not hurt so 
much as it will some of my Relations to be told her line 
of Life is the charge of eight young Ladies education, for 
which she gets eight hundred guineas a year, a hundred 
for each. Her health may be an inducement for me to wish 
she would not continue it long, as I believe the anxiety 
of it is too great for her, she already possesses near 2000 
reckoning every thing, so I hope it will not be necessary 
on that account for an after provision in case any thing 
happens to me. Please acquaint my Aunt Harriot with 
it, if I have the approbation of you and her and all other 
good People, I shall the less regret those whose pride will 
be allarmed at my being united to one who is inferior to 
me in birth, but whose merit makes her my superior in 
every other particular, indeed its a subject I cannot say 
too much on, so am hopefull will make an ample com- 
pensation for what can neither add nor diminish to 
happiness. I wish the first intelligence of this affair to 
come from my Brother whom I have acquainted with it, 
so beg you will not mention it but to your own Family 
in confidence, tho' should you see the amiable Miss Stewart 
she will give you a fuller account of the person I am 
attached to than I can by writing. I shall be happy to 
hear from you as soon as you conveniently can, directed 
to be left till called for at the British Coffee house, 
Cockspur Street London, and believe me very sincerely 
with every good wish for all my Dear Friends health and 
happiness at Gask, your very affectionate and most 
humble servant, WM. MURRAY." 1 

Ebenezer Oliphant writes to his nephew Gask : 

" DEAR SIR, I had the pleasure of yours of the 29th 
of December last and was already glad to know by it that 

1 William Murray, third son of the third Earl of Dunmore. He was born 
1734, and entered the Navy. He married at Kensington, llth August 1783 
Sarah Mease, and he died 25th December 1786. Sarah Mease married again in 
1802, at the age of fifty-eight, George Amst of Chelsea. She died in 1811. 


your self and all the good Family wer there in good health 
but as we have had since that time the most severe Winter 
I ever felt except the year 40 I have given you the trouble 
of this to know how you have been yourself during the 
Severity of the Storm and how Lady H's coal has held it 
out. For the young folks, their youth was a Preservative 
to them and therefore I was less afraid of their health being 
affected by it. I have for my own part keeped pretty 
well, and am so at present for which I am very thankful!. 
Your last letter testifies suficiently your Stench Loyalty 
and anxiety for the King, and as you desired me to give 
such information as I could gett I must here advise you 
with sorrow that the last accounts of him wer melancoly 
viz. : that he had died of a Apoplectik fitt the midle of 
last Mounth and that Prayers wer ordered to be put up to 
Almighty God for the repose of his Soul, and this informa- 
tion I am afraid is too good, however there has been a 
report since that he is still alive. 

" God grant it may be trew, but I am much Afraid of 
the Worst and the reason of fear is this, that his Brother 
The Duke went express to see him, found him alive at the 
time but had no hopes of his recovery, and this particolar 
Sercomstance is come directly from Rome. God be 
Merciful to this Poor Country for I am greatly Afraid 
we shall be involved in great Calamitys soon ; but I trust 
in his Goodness all Honest Men will be taken care of. 
I scpose your Pouple l James Oliphant will before this 
time be Saled for Jamaica I had a letter from him about 
the beginning of this year telling me he was preparing 
for it and waiten only for Letters of recommendation 
from Mr Drummond, but have beared nothing of him 
since. Please make my most Respectful Complements 
to Lady Hariot and best Wishes for all the young folks 
and Accept the same yourself from, My Dear Sir, your 
most Obedient Humble Ser*. 


" EDR. March 10th 1784." 

Amelia writes to Givet, llth June 1782 : 

"Aunt Harriot and I were three weeks lately at 
Taymount and left all our Friends there in pretty good 
health. They would (I suppose) have a dance yesterday 

1 Pupil or nephew. 


it being my Aunt Dunmore's birthday when her Ladyship 
entered the 80th year of her age. But no one to see her 
would find out that she was so old. I ever am my Dear 
Uncles most dutyful niece. AMELIA OLIPHANT." 

"Lord Dunmore's eldest Daughter is married to Mr 
Bonvery a Brother of Lord Radnor hes in parliament. 
As my Aunt Inch : has not added a P.S. this is to tell 
you of her sons. George well at Gibraltar esteemed by 
everybody and will soon have his company free. No 
letters lately from Major Peter, Mr Lau. off Antigua a 
prisoner ; but expects soon to be relieved. 


The foregoing letter refers to a family tragedy at 
Inchbrakie. Margaret Oliphant, Mrs Graeme, whose 
early years had been so brimful of happy enthusiasm, 
was destined before the end of her life to know sharp 
sorrow. George, her eldest son, born 1753, joined the 
army, and was besieged at Gibraltar. At the same time 
his brother Patrick was on his way to India to join his 
regiment, the Black Watch, and Laurence, the sailor son, 
had started in his ship to join Lord Rodney's fleet in the 
West Indies. Neither Patrick nor Laurence ever returned 
Laurence went down with his ship, the Ville de Paris, 
and Patrick died of fever. Their mother did not long 
survive the loss of the two boys, for she died 6th July 
1785. The Laird of Gask was now the last survivor of 
the children of Laurence, the old laird, and Amelie. 

Charles Oliphant, aged twelve, writes, 15th January 
1784, to Givet:- 

" We drank Lord Strathallan's health, this being his 
birthday. Carolina is just now playing, * My wife's lyit 
sick I wish she ne'er may rise again, Til put on my tartai 
trews and court another wife again* It is a very gooc 
tune, and I wish you would come to hear it." 

On the same page is a letter from his brother Laurence 
fourteen years old : 

other news to entertain you with I begin a Journall of 


my visits since the New Year. The first visit I made 
was to Lord Kinnoull 1 to whom I repeated an Ode of 
Horace and was agreeably detained all night being very 
well entertained with the Miss Hay's 2 playing and sing- 
ing. I returned next day to breakfast. Soon after I 
went to Lawers to drink Mr Henry the Junior's health 
upon his birthday where I met with Captain Nairne and 
Mr John Drummond who seem to be a jolly young 
man he is grandson to Mr Andrew Drummond. 3 Mr 
Drummond, Lady Strathallan, and her daughter were in 
good health. . . . LAU. OLIPHANT." 

Young Laurence was sent to the College at St 
Andrews. His father's journal relates : 

"Oct. 1784. Laurie passed sixteen and gone to College 
which I delayed last winter in hopes of departure, and to 
strengthen him in good maximes to withstand the tempta- 
tions there feared. Lord Kinnoull much for the college 
and said to Laurie 'he would sleep better that night when 
told it was resolved on. Mr William Drummond of 
Logic, a good young man, at St Andrews and his Pre- 
ceptor Mr Dow to have charge of Laurie, which happened 
and I received very flattering accounts of my dear Boy's 
good behaviour and application the remainder of this year, 
he attending the non-juring meeting house." 

Young Laurence writes 4 to his father from St 
Andrews : 

" 3 March 1785. 

"My DEAR FATHER, As I have nothing particular 
to write I shall begin with giving you some account of 
my studies. I find everything go on easily except the 
Greek which I find very difficult and do not think I 
make great progress. ... I sometimes feel my applica- 
tion fail, then I go to something that shoots me more. 
... I read some of Shakespear's tragedies being thought 

1 The ninth Earl of Kinnoull, born 4th January 1710, died at Dupplin 27th 
December 1787. He was distinguished both in the fields of literature and 
politics. His only son died an infant in 1743. 

2 Probably the Ladies Abigail and Elizabeth, sisters of Lord Kinnoull. They 
were old ladies at this time. 

3 A brother of the fourth Lord Strathallan. He was a goldsmith in London 
and founder of the Banking House. Though he did not play a militant part in 
the Jacobite risings, he was of great service to the party in London. 

4 Part of this letter is given in the Jacobite Lairds. 


good and what every body has read and therefor one 
looks foolish when they know nothing about them. I 
think I know too little of the history of my own country 
and have therefore got a volume of Hewm's history . . . 
I know he lies in some places, and so do they all. . . . 
I read French every afternoon off the Bible to Mr Dow 
and he is very regular in his attendance except when he 
is attacked with his stomach complaints. Your most 
dutiful son etc. LAU. OLIPHANT." 

A letter, dated 26th September 1787, is endorsed 
" Charley equivocating and concealing the taking of an 
apple and peach from the wall." Poor Charles writes : 

" MY DEAR FATHER, As such a fault can hardly be 
pardoned by words I write these lines assuring you with 
what hearty sorrow I ask your pardon for what I have 
committed and with a firm resolve never to desemble in 
any way . . . etc. etc." 

There remains one last glimpse of the old laird in 
social surroundings. Every year a little group of devoted 
Jacobites were in the habit of meeting in Edinburgh, at 
the house of James Steuart in Cleland Gardens, on the 
31st of December, the birthday of Charles III. To this 
little gathering 1 in 1787 attaches a peculiar interest it 
was the last birthday of the Chief who, in his wretched- 
ness and exile, was still the object of an undying devotion. 
To this simple festivity Laurence Oliphant of Cask was 
bidden. In spite of failing health, he must have ridden 
to Edinburgh, perhaps in company with his son, whom 
at the time he was establishing at College there, to take 
his place among the loyal few to whom the day was still 
sacred. Other guests at Mr Steuart's table on this 
occasion were Robert Gray, Mr Erskine, afterwards Earl 
of Kellie, and last but not least, Robert Burns, who in 
accepting the invitation wrote as follows : 

" SIR, Monday next is the day of the year with me 
hallowed as the ceremonies of religion and sacred to the 

1 The details of this festivity and the Burns letter and verses were kindly 
communicated to the writer by Francis Steuart, Esq. 


memory of my King and my forefathers. The honour 
you do me by your invitation I must cordially and 
gratefully accept. 

" Tho something like moisture conglobes in my eye, 

Let no one misdeem me disloyal 
A poor friendless wand'rer may well claim a sigh 

Still more if that wand'rer were royal. 
My Fathers that name have revered on a throne 

My Fathers have died to right it, 
Those Fathers would spurn their degenerate son 

That name should he scoffingly slight it. 

"Wednesday evening." 

One member of the laird's family was with Charles 
Edward Stewart at the time of his death on 31st January 
1788 ; Henry Nairne, who, with his brother Charles, was 
the only survivor of the third Lord Nairne's large family. 
A portrait 1 of Charles Edward, painted a few months 
before his death, bears the following inscription : 

" This picture was done at Rome in 1787 for Prince 
Charles Stewart and sent as a present to Lady Lude by 
Mr Henry Nairne son of John Lord Nairne, which gentle- 
man lives at present with the Prince. Given by James 
A. Robertson, Esq. to me. August 1828. 


The following letter 2 was addressed by Henry Nairne to 
Mrs Robertson of Lude from Rome, 26th March 1788 : 

" MY DEAR MADAM, Having contracted a fluxion in 
one of my eyes during the late Count's illness, and having 
neglected it in the beginning, it prevents me now entirely 
from either seeing to read or write, but I would not delay 
longer the honor of addressing you and therefore I rather 
chuse to employ another hand. 

"As I make no doubt but Mr Oliphant was so 
good as communicate to you the melancholy news 
that I imparted to him, when the fatal event happened, 

1 This portrait is perhaps Pompeo Battone's, and is identical with that in the 
National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh, bought at the Logic Elphinstone sale. 
The picture in question was sold at the Dalguise sale in 1904, and is now the 
property of Francis Steuart, Esq. 

* Found among the MSS. at Machany. 


therefore I shall say but little upon that dismal subject. 
Altho' the Deceased had been but in a bad state of health 
for many years, yet the fatal moment is always striking 
and affecting. I shall only add that I believe there are 
few that feel it more sensibly or are more nearly touched 
with that irreparable loss than I am. The misfortunate 
Personage did not survive long his very good friend and 
acquaintance my dear Aunt. 1 They were two heavy 
strokes, the one succeeding the other upon me, but we 
must submit with patience and resignation to the divine 

" By a letter I had from Cask I was happy to learn 
that you were well at Lude the beginning of the present 
year. As I have now no more attachment in this country 
I shall remain here as short time as possibly I can, and 
return to France. It will make me happy and give me 
great pleasure if I find letters from you on my arrival 
there, and if you honour me with any letters, please 
continue to direct for me to the care of the Scotch 
College at Paris. 

" The only thing that can make me regret the leaving 
this country so soon is the pleasure I might have of seeing 
your son here. But when he arrives please direct him 
to call on Mr Byres and you may be sure that is sufficient 
to him to know that he is of your family, and I flatter 
myself his knowing the honor I have of so near a con- 
nection with you will not diminish his attention towards 
my young cousin. Mr Byres could not have the pleasure 
of waiting on you in Atholl as his Mother's death detained 
him much longer in his own country than he expected, 
therefore he was obliged to push forward as soon as 

"Please offer my compliments to Mr Robertson in 
the most aff * manner as likewise to all your young family 
and I presume I need not make use of many words 
to assure how much I am, my dear Madam, your most 
aff * cousin and most humble servant, 


So after the death of his master, Henry Nairne 
returned to Sancerre where his family had spent long 
years. His great effort since the death of his father had 

1 Charlotte Nairne, Lady Lude, who died in 1787. 


been to pay off the debts of the family, which had lived 
in great poverty. He was now nearly blind, but an 
operation restored his sight to some extent, and he 
wrote the following letter with his own hand : 

"I did not fail to remember you to the Personage 
you mentioned, and it was received in a very flattering 
manner and desired to be remembered to you most 

This, it seems, was the last word of the dying Stewart 
to the faithful follower and aide-de-camp who was 
also near the end of the journey. 

There are many references to Henry Nairne in letters 
after this date. His efforts to clear his father's debts 
resulted in his incurring debts for his own expenses. 1 
He longed to come to Scotland, but could not leave 
France while these remained unpaid. An unknown 
friend in London, whose name was never discovered, 
offered to pension him for life, if funds were first raised 
to pay them off. Laurence Oliphant, long after his 
father's death in 1792, raised a subscription on Henry's 
behalf among Jacobite relatives. Needless to say the 
Drummonds were the principal contributors. Eventu- 
ally he came to London in July 1802 and writes from 
Hotel Cadogan, Sloane Street: 

" We arrived in this great and splendid Capital which 
surpasses greatly any notion I could have formed of it 
in all respects. I cannot express the amicable reception 
I received from all my relations, friends, and acquaint- 
ances, male and female, but above all from my worthy 
nephew, 2 who I had never seen before." 

It is easily imagined that the return of this aged 
exile, then in his seventy-sixth year, nearly blind, pitifully 
broken in health and fortune, would be a pathetic event 
in Jacobite families. He was the sole survivor of a family 

1 He left a little property at Sancerre, a house and garden, " La Loge/' to 
his close friends the MacNabs, who also lived in exile near him. 

2 Colonel Nairne, afterwards fifth lord, and husband of Carolina Oliphant, 
was Henry Nairne's only living nephew. 


renowned for loyalty and tenacity of purpose and re- 
nowned also for their adversities. He had been in 
personal attendance on Charles III. He had been 
present at the last scene of all, when far away in Italy, 
fourteen years ago, the dying idol of the old hopes and 
prayers had breathed his last sigh. No wonder that 
hands of welcome were held out, and succour given. 
From London Henry Nairne came up to Scotland and 
settled in John Street, Perth. Doubtless he would be 
often at Gask, and the relatives there, young and cheerful, 
would make a brightness for the end of his life. It is 
possible some may be living still who remember the tall 
erect figure of Henry Nairne, his cocked hat and full 
Court costume of dark green satin. He died in extreme 
old age on 22nd February 1818, and was buried with 
his forefathers at Auchtergaven. 

To return to the story of the family party at Gask. 
The education of his boys gave the old laird much 
anxious thought. Laurie remained at St Andrews till 
sent to Edinburgh in October 1786. 

" Laurie sent to Edinburgh College to be under 
the care of Dr Webster, with whose sister he boarded. 
Very flattering accounts of his good conduct, and 
communicating regularly in Dr Webster's Meeting 
House. Dr Webster writing me that my dear boy 
Laurie * as to head and heart and manner seems all that 
the fondest Father could wish, and such principles of 
Religion and Honour as rendered the eye of a Tutor 

Charlie, then fifteen years old, joined his brother at 
Edinburgh in April 1787. Their father writes : " The 
two Boys pointing to law and physick " an inclination 
which, however, bore no fruit. 

The over-anxious father was destined on the whole 
to find comfort in his eldest son, whose "principles" 
had been the subject of much earnest prayer. Laurie 
was now twenty, and wished to go abroad an idea 
which seems to have caused unreasonable distress to 


his father. No doubt he would miss the presence and 
help of the young laird. 

" Laurie often the Landlord," he writes, " and yet 
when Company come, keept within bounds and no 
rioting. Bliss ye Lord for ye appearance of his Sobriety." 

Laurie was, however, allowed to go to London in 
1790. He stayed with Mr Henry Drummond, the 
constant friend and adviser of the family. The laird 
gave his son a list of all the benefits the Oliphants had 
received from the Drummonds from the year 1753. 

" Convey my thanks," he writes " to my dear cousin 
Henry Drummond for his new and old favours. He 
is what he always was, and has been to my family, 
therefor I'll say no more on the subject, but think the 

In the same letter 14th April 1790, Carolina adds 
a line 1 to her brother: 

" May and Margaret are gone to Duncrub, this being 
my Lord's birthday ; Amelia stays at the Hill till yours, 
and I am left alone of the six. 

" I went on Monday to Inchbrakie, having called at 
Dollerie and drank tea at Fernton 2 the same night. It 
would make you too vain to tell you how obligingly 
Miss Preston 3 asked after you. She says she is to be 
here soon, I hope not till you return. Louisa Graeme, 4 
Catherine Preston 6 and I danced while the heiress played 
and we were very merry. Louisa Graeme and I came 
next to Miss Mercers where we stayed five minutes only, 
she being on the wing to go to Mr Samuel's exhibition 
pit to see Jane Shore acted by puppets in the weavers 

1 Part of the letter, with names omitted, is given in Rogers Memoir of 
Baroness Nairne. 

2 Now known ae Ferntower. The original name of the estate was Culter 

3 Anne Preston, heiress of Valleyfield and Fernton. She married in 1810 
Sir David Baird, the celebrated soldier, and after his death in 1829 raised the 
granite obelisk to his memory at Monzievaird, at a cost of 15,000. 

4 Daughter of Patrick Graeme of Inchbrakie and Margaret Oliphant, She 
was born 1760, and married in 1792 Captain Stewart of Fiucastle. She died 
in 1841. 

5 Sister to Anne Preston, at whose death in 1847 she inherited the family 


house in Crieff. Louisa and I had tickets but no 
chaperone, so were obliged to go home without a laugh 
at the tragedy. I galloped Hercules, and like him 
better than Glen ; but you will call me quite vulgar for 
bringing Crieff and its environs into your mind, whilst 
you are shewing away in St James Square, London." 

A week later the laird sent off another letter 1 to 
his son full of pained surprise. Young Laurie had been 
so far carried off his feet by the new London associations, 
and the bad example of other young men, as to wish 
to attend the Court of the Elector of Hanover. 

" However few continued faithfull to their Prince, 
I never doubted but my sons and I would have been 
of the number ; I was in hopes I had done my part to 
bring up my family Loyal and it was my joy and 
comfort to think in so generall a defection that they 
were so. It gives me real pain to see that I am in 
some measure disappointed, for had you consulted ye 
principle that should be within, you would have given 
a proper answer to the proposal yourself." 

The laird absolutely forbade the presentation, and his 
wishes were, of course, respected by Laurie. Another 
letter from his father, dated a little later, throws some 
light on the young man's keen wish to leave Scotland 
for a while : 

" GASK, May 19 1790. 

" Two years ago, I think, when you was wishing to be 
abroad and there to settle I did not well understand the 
meaning not having the least suspicion of your having 
any attachment and having solely in view the thoughts 
of its being too soon to go abroad . . . now marriage is 
very proper when a suitable alliance can be found because 
continuing our family is a principal! duty and that it 
keeps off vice. Your old attachment I could not help 
yielding to, though the connections were not just to my 
mind, and had it been riveted I would perhaps have 
yealded had circumstances been even less to my mind, 
because when an affection is rooted the opposing it 

1 Printed in the Jacobite Lairds, p. 418. 


generally turns the mind from marriage to a dissipated 
course, but since your attachment is more at large, and 
unknown to the person, you are more at liberty to look 
about, and may find one more to your satisfaction, and 
in either case 1 heartily wish for a happy termination." 

Margaret Oliphant writes to her brother Laurie : 

" Ap. 19 1790. 

" You will hear of poor Sir George Ramsay's l death 
in a Duel with that hot-brained wretch McCrae. 2 If he 
challenges me for the above epithet I shall hire two 
cadets to drub him. Baron Moncrieff too is dead which 
is to be regretted on Lady Eliz's account as well as his 
own merit." 

Some other letters belonging to this year are given 
here : 

" AUCHLEEKS, May 20, 1790. 

" Mr Robertson, Auchleeks, presents best compliments 
to Cask he is happy to hear of his being in good health 
and hopes for a long continuance. Auchleeks was happy 
to hear by the Aide-de-Camp of King Henry the Ninth's 
being in good health and had taken his titles. Auchleeks 
joins in hopes with Cask in wishing that he may take a 
wife next. ... I received the cheese you sent me, which 
is exceedingly good and I like it well, is greatly obliged 
to you for being so mindful of your fellow soldier." 

The old laird writes to his son, 12th August 1790 : 

" Lord Strathallans affair I shall give you as Mr 
James Murray, Sheriff Clerk, told it me some days after 
the Election ; he said one of the Duke of Atholl's 
Brothers and another Gentleman walking together to 
go to the Bridge passed Camp where the minority 
rabble stood, who were rood to them. Col. D. who was 
behind going the same road with another gentleman, 
seeing this, came up to assist, when he got the riding 

1 Sir George Ramsay, sixth Baronet of Bamff. He was killed in a duel at 

2 Captain James Macrae of Holmains. Having quarrelled with Sir George 
Ramsay over the conduct of a footman attending Lady Ramsay at the Edinburgh 
theatre, he killed him in a duel. He afterwards fled to France, where he died 
in 1820, 


stroke as we call it, on the eye from one of the raskely 
fellows, when he got to his Quarters he was blooded 
. . . next morning his eye was so well, but very black, 
that there was nothing to hinder him going to Machany 
that day, which he did. I was sorry for the accident 
but cannot help thinking he deserved it, an unjust 
decision depriving him of his titles for the present he 
could not help, but I should never have debased my 
family by voting as a commoner, and getting the benefit 
of the Oaths to the bargain." 

Miss Elizabeth Drummond writes a chatty letter to 
Margaret Oliphant from Machany, 23rd February 1791 : 

" MY DEAR COUSIN, Lady Catherine gives informa- 
tion of Lord Dunmore's l death but is not quite so sure 
about his Brother Charles Murray's 2 death. ... I never 
heard of Sir William Stirling's marriage till within this 
week. My sister spoke of it to Mrs Oliphant she said it 
was a false report that he was to be married to Miss M. 
Maxtone but spoke in a way as if he was to marry again, 
but not till he makes an addition to Ardoch. By your 
asking if I heard of Sir William Murray and Condy going 
to London, I suspect you have heard a very shocking 
report which we also did, tho fortunately not till after 
we had heard the real story about young Dollerie. The 
fact is that the ship put in to one of out ports for a trifling 
repair one night Mr Murray was on duty. Some of the 
young recruits were amusing themselves going up the 
shrouds or mast, I forget the exact term. Mr Murray 
desired them to come down which they did not do and 
he with fatal rashness shook one of the ropes, which made 
a young man fall on the Deck with great violence. The 
consequence was that in a very few days he died. When 
the Body was taking ashore to be buried, the Captain 
observed all the troops discontented and threatening to 
mutiny immediately, and was told Mr Murray was the 
occasion of their companion's death, which surprised him 
much as the surgeon in his return said he had fallen over 
the quarter-deck and hurt himself. The Captain stopped 
the funeral, and a Coroners inquest and Jury sat on the 

1 A mistake. The fourth Lord Dunmore died in 1809. 

2 Second son of the third Earl of Dunmore. He may have died at this time. 
The date of his death is not given in the Scots' Peerage, vol. iii. p. 38~. 


body and their verdict was accidental death, which was 
very fortunate. Mr Murray was free to remain in the 
ship but the Captain advised him to leave it and go 
immediately to London to try and get out in another 
ship, for fear of any remains of discontent amongst the 
soldiers, which Mr Murray did, but I am afraid he will 
not get out this season as the ships are mostly gone. 
This is the real story from the Captain's letter and he is 
a very worthy good man. The report we heard was 
that Mr Murray had killed a man, after had quarrel'd 
with his captain and shot him. . . . Yr. aff. 


In 1784 several of the forfeited estates had been given 
back to their owners, and among these were the lands of 
Strowan. The restitution came too late to gladden the 
heart of the old Chief, Duncan Robertson, who had 
died in exile just two years before. 2 

Charming congratulatory letters on the restitution 
came from all the Gask family to Givet, dated 9th August 
1784. The packet begins with a note from Henrietta 
Nairne, goes on with one from the Laird of Gask, followed 
by one from Marjory, Amelia, and Carolina, who writes 
as follows : 

" MY DEAR GRANDMAMA, The sentiments of all your 
grandchildren are so much the same in this most pleasing 
subject, that you will find little variety in the expression 
we can hardly be happier on the prospect of seeing you 
than your other friends here, in particular Capt. Graeme 
Inch, says there is nothing in the world he enjoys so 
much as the hopes of seeing you in Scotland, surely hope 
will not deceive us. I wish this may be the last time 
that I assure my dear Grandmama at Givet how much 
I am her most dutiful G. Daughter, 


1 The present house of Machany was built as a home for this "Miss Betty." 
She wrote long and amusing letters covering a great many years. In June 1829 
she wrote an account of a jest played on the family of Abercairny. A report 
was set afloat that the Laird of Abercairny was created Earl of Strathearn. The 
elated villagers believed the report : ' ' The bell of Fowlis rung a whole evening 
and part of next day." " How the bodies could hear of such a thing I cannot 
understand," writes Miss Betty. The same joke was played on Baird of Newbyth, 
who was said to have received the dignity of Viscount. 

2 At Givet, 13th December 1782. 


The return of the Strowan family to Scotland after 
thirty-one years of banishment must rank, from a domestic 
point of view, as one of the tragedies of the family. 
Strowan and his wife Marjory with four children had 
fled to France ; Marjory and her son Alexander returned 
alone to the old country. Since she had quitted its 
shores her brother and five of her sisters had died, while 
out of the whole group of twelve Nairne brothers and 
sisters only four were living. Above all, she was fated 
to come back without the companion of her life, the 
husband for whose sake she had suffered her longing 
thoughts to turn homewards all through the long years, 
for Duncan Robertson had ended his days in exile. The 
homecoming must have brought more suffering than joy 
to Marjory, now seventy-eight years old. Cask, though 
full of the dear voices of the grandchildren she now saw 
for the first time, must have yet seemed blank without 
the welcome of her daughter Margaret, and even to the 
elder girls the mother was now, after ten years, only a 
sweet dim memory. The old lady and her son went 
first to live at the Kirktown of Strowan, but Laurence 
Oliphant and all the family joined in begging Alexander 
to bring his mother to Gask. This union, for which the 
honest hearts had longed and prayed for many many years, 
was not a success. 

Alexander and Colyear Robertson, though reared in 
the strict principles that governed the family politics, had 
travelled and seen much of men and cities, and in the 
battle of life had lost that singleness of purpose towards 
one object which had marked the earlier generation. 
When inmates of the Gask household this laxness on the 
part of the young men was inexpressibly sad to the mind 
of their brother-in-law Laurence Oliphant. Manners, 
education, and habits were all strange to his idea. He 
writes in 1786 : 

" In December last my brother-in-law Strowan was 
seized with a Delirium and Fever at the Kirktown of 
Strowan, which lasted several months and proceeded from 


his drinking with ye little Rannoch Gentry etc., meaning 
to be obliging to them on his arrival." 

The old Lady Strowan attended her son in this 
illness. The following letter from Oliphant to Strowan 
recalled them to Cask. The laird writes : 

"Feb. 1786. 

" Consider how happy it makes your dear Mother and 
mine to be with her Grandchildren going on with all 
their different works and all of us together at meal time 
and Tea. I am sure you would not wish to keep that 
dear dear Mother on day after you are able to travel in so 
confined a disagreeable situation, as you know from her 
tender affection she will never leave you." 

Later there is another entry concerning the Robert- 

"I distressed by fears from Strowan's disloyal and 
rather loose principles. Shoked he and his Brother always 
naming the Usurpars K and Q, and so much talk about 
them, a new thing in this house. And Strowans light 
headed noisy servant . . . with so many visitors vexed 
me and fretted my temper, particularly bad example in 
Loyaltie to my Boys, Dogs and Greyhounds and horses 
giving them a wrong turn, so that these and other 
circumstances joined were too strong for me, and made 
me often less agreeable to my dear Friends taken under 
my roof than I should have been. . . . Yet less real 
mischief has happened than I expected to my young 
Familie so I have to Bliss the Lord forever. 

" JV.l?. What an addition of comfort would we have 
had in one another, had the two dear Brothers but 
retained the pure principles of their youth." 

Some months after he wrote, evidently at the end of 
his patience : 

"Asked and pressed Strowan to marry, and stay as 
long as he pleased, and he and I to repair the Old Hall. 
If not, that he would think of providing a house for 
himself next year." 

"January 1788. Finding many inconveniences of 
two families living so long together, and no steps taken 
for a dwelling to Strowan, proposed to him, till he should 


think of building in Rannoch, to live at Perth, a good 
house offering at Bridge End built by Sheriff Mercer and 
named Potterhill. He approved." 

It was not till July, however, that the Robertson 
family quitted Gask, presumably carrying with them 
" dogs, greyhounds, horses " and the noisy servant. It 
must have been a great relief, but the laird reproaches 
himself for the state of matters which had made the 
change necessary. 

"July 18th. My Mother-in-law and son Strowan 
went to live at Potterhill, Perth. They at Gask, with 
a good many weeks interval in Ranoch, since Oct. 12th 
1784. I not always in so good humour as I should have 
been with Strowan." 

Old Lady Strowan lived till 1793, passing the last 
years of a life that had seen strange adventures and 
great adversities, in the peace of the little home, not far 
from her dear ones at Gask. As during the long years of 
her exile, the spinning wheel formed her occupation. 
Her picture 1 shows a high -featured shrewd face, worn 
with trouble, yet with the settled look of tranquillity that 
was the gift of her old age. Alexander, the Laird of 
Strowan, and his brother Colyear never married, and thus 
the Oliphant children were her only descendants. The 
Laird of Strowan lived till 1822, when the estates passed 
to a cousin Alexander Robertson. Laurence Oliphant of 
Gask expressly forbade his sons to accept the Robertson 
estates, even should they be left to them by their uncles, 
and told them in that case to hand over the estates to 
the nearest heir-male. 

All descriptions of life at Gask at this time, all pictures 
of the little grey house on the hill set in its closes of 
green glade and spreading tree, centre round a single 
figure, and form only a background for the personality 
of Carolina Oliphant. 

A study of the family diaries reveals something of the 
atmosphere of that home. Religion had for the past two 

1 Now at Ardblair. 


generations held a leading place in the life of Cask, the 
practical piety of men and women of action, in whom the 
sentiment was inextricably bound up with the Jacobite 
cause. Now over all the land a wave of evangelicalism 
had begun to flow. To the four sisters, all sensitively 
open to outside impressions in the secluded inaction of 
their lot, the response came with an absence of all sense 
of proportion. A habit of introspective thought pervaded 
all they did, and all they wrote. The first feeling on 
deciphering the close thin writing in which their inmost 
thoughts find record, is of regret that they had not more 
to do, or more practical interests to take their minds off 
the contemplation of their own sins. A page or two of 
Amelia's journal is chosen as affording a quaint glimpse 
of life in the old house, and as illustrating the forced 
and unwholesome lengths to which the pious feeling of 
the day led the young girls. 

"GASK, /any. 1st 1789. 

"I waked in good humour and earnestly resolved 
to be so thro the day and to be as good every way as 
possible, and considered the particular obligation to 
resolve to begin the year well. I read the Psalms in the 
Bible for the day. My intention is to read the Psalms 
of the Bible for morning all January, the evening of the 
same for February, the Prayer-book morning Psalms for 
March, evening do. for April. Tate and Brady morning 
for May and evening ditto for June, which make the 
first six months. I wandered a little at first both reading 
the Psalms and Sherlock on Death. I did my prayers 
pretty collectedly and particularised all my friends. Mr 
Maitland gave us prayers, 1 wandered at first but went 
on pretty well after tho with many imperfections. . . . 
Was not out of humour as far as I can recollect. Evening 
devotions were short, but I hope very sincere. At evening 
prayers by Mr M. I was very far from being so devout 
and attentive as I ought ; my mind wandered almost in- 
cessantly, and I could not collect my scattered thoughts. 
The rest of the evening passed pretty well. After I was 
in bed I reviewed it as well as I could to enable me to 
write in the morning nothing remarkable occurred in 
my mind and temper." 



" Friday, 2 Jany. 

" I read the morning Psalms (tolerably) and read my 
prayers with attention. Read in Sherlock, not quite so 
attentively. Could not go upstairs after breakfast, my 
dear Father being sickish, most fervently prayed for him, 
and was tolerably devout at the short prayers Mr M. read 
in his room. When we went to dinner I was very cold 
and went to warm myself at ye fire before going to the 
top of the table (May being with Papa). Aunt Henrietta 
desired Meggy to sit there, which she did, and left me 
a colder seat at the foot. I ought to have overlooked 
such a trifle and have considered how much better it 
would be to eat my dinner contentedly and to support 
that equanimity of mind I had been just reading about, 
but the pity was I did not consider at all, and so fretted 
and shivered. I was indeed very cold which increased 
my bad humour. I ought likewise to have considered 
that every peevish symptom I showed must hurt Meggy 
who was in my seat (by desire), and she offered it twice 
and I fretfully refused it and whenever Car rose to relieve 
May I went to her seat. After dinner we were talking 
of a swan my brother had shot that forenoon, which I 
had not seen and asked Meggy to ring the bell that it 
might be brought in Aunt Henrietta with a good deal 
of asperity objected, and said it had bled the dining- 
room and would not have it to dirty the drawing-room 
likewise. I ought to have reflected that what my Aunt 
said was very true though a little harshly expressed, and 
that it would be all one in an hour whether I had been 
provoked anyway or not, except with regard to the effect 
it had on me, and I should have remained silent, but I 
contrived to resent it in several little ways, which I am 
ashamed of, and have asked pardon of the Almighty for, 
as however trifling the subject, it is satisfying a spirit of 
revenge, that we are under every obligation to suppress 
by the command and striking example of the blessed 
Author of our holy Religion, especially when to a superior. 
May this be a lesson to me for the future. I tried to be 
good-humoured in the evening and I hope succeeded. 
At evening prayers tolerably attentive. To bed in good 
humour and recalled my thoughts from Vanities." 

There are twelve little paper volumes containing the 
same daily self-examination and brooding, and recording 


trifling discomposures Amelia would have done better 
to forget at once. 

This tide of religious feeling invading the household 
and colouring all views of life, must not be forgotten in 
any estimate of the character and achievements of Carolina 
Oliphant ; the marks of it remained through life, in later 
years overpowering all other interests. But in the life- 
time of her father she saw in him the staunch example of 
a creed and a cause closely linked. Numberless touches 
in the everyday routine recalled to the group of children 
what had been the great outstanding object of parents 
and grandparents' existence all through the long years of 
sacrifice. The names of the reigning family were never 
mentioned, the letters K and Q designating the usurpers 
whenever it was necessary to allude to them, and in 
church they used the prayer-books with the offending 
names pasted over, and silently transferred their prayers 
to one over the water. Best of all the pictures that rise 
through the mists of time is that showing the Laird of 
Gask standing surrounded by all his family at his table 
after dinner, turning to his boy Charlie on his right hand, 
as he raised the glass for the loyal toast that yet must 
keep a secret : " The King Charles ! " 

In other households, once staunchly Jacobite, the new 
order of things was being gradually accepted. Minds 
were becoming accustomed to the idea that the Stewart 
days were over, and that a great change was creeping over 
Scotland. Gask was the last stronghold of Jacobite 
feeling, and Laurence Oliphant, in all the miseries of his 
ill-health and lessened fortunes, stood out as one of the 
last champions of the cause, though there was nothing to 
be done, no blow to strike, no battle to hope for. In his 
old age he collected and treasured relics of his beloved 
Prince his bonnet, spurs, cockade, crucifix, a drawing in 
chalk, and best cherished of all, a kindly letter. 1 

" FLORENCE, 21 Feb. 1783. 

"Mr COWLEY, It gives me sensible pleasure ye 
remembrance of Oliphant of Gask. He is as worthy a 

1 Printed in the Jacobite Lairds and other publications. 


subject as I have, and his family never deroged from their 
principals. Not douting in ye least of ye son being ye 
same, make them both know these my sentiments, with 
ye particular esteem that follows a rediness to prove it, 
iff occasion offered, yr sincere friend, CHARLES R. 

" For Mr Cowley, Prior, 

of ye English Benedictines at Paris." 

While clinging to his own principles, the laird expected 
others to be equally staunch. In 1783 he wrote : 

" Mr Erskine our Parson at Muthil died on Candlemass 
day. In spite of the powerfull opposition of bad principles, 
a non-jouror Mr Cruikshank was got settled in his place." 

At the death of Charles Edward in 1788 Mr Cruikshank, 
who had given every satisfaction to his Episcopal flock 
in conducting services at the various houses, deter- 
mined to follow the tide of popular opinion and transfer 
his allegiance from the House of Stewart to King George. 
He wrote to Laurence Oliphant to notify this change, and 
received the following in reply : l 

" July 3, 1788. 

" Mr Oliphant presents his compliments to Mr 
Cruikshank, and as he has incapacitated himself from 
officiating at Gask, his gown is sent by the carrier and 
the books he gave the reading of. As Mr Cruikshank 
has received his stipend to this Whitsuntide there is 
no money transactions to settle between him and Mr 

Years passed ere Mr Cruikshank was received back 
into favour at Gask, when a new generation with modified 
ideas had taken the place of the last Jacobite laird and 
his circle. 

The story of the message sent by George III. to 
Gask has often been told : 

" Give my compliments, not the compliments of the 
King of England, but those of the Elector of Hanover 
to Mr Oliphant, and tell him how much I respect him 
for the steadiness of his principles." 

1 Printed in the Jacobite Lairds, p. 411. 


The name of Gask is remembered by these oft-told 
tales not new now to any reader but worthy to be 
told yet once again, in all reverence, in all love, as part of 
an exquisite past whose spirit cannot come again. 

On llth September 1785, he keeps the day still held 
in highest honour at Gask, 

" Breakfasted below in the Drawing-room in remem- 
brance that the King, then Prince Regent, honoured it 
with his presence that day forty years. Accounts the 
King at Florence living regularly and in health. Bless'd 
be the Lord who preserves our King." 

" 1788. The Hundredth year of usurpation." 

" Feb 25th. Heard of King Charles death at Rome 
Jany. 31st. Henry 1st and 9th 1 now our King ye late 
King's Brother." 

" Mar, 3. Put on mourning six months for the late 
King. The Lord gives and ye Lord taketh away blissed 
by ye name of ye Lord." 

" May 25, Sunday. I prayed for King Henry by 
name, this being the day the Scots Episcopal clergy 
appostatized praying for the Hanoverian family by name. 
Non complyers only Bishop Ross at Dunblane, Mr Brown 
at Montrose, Mr Lindsay at St Andrews, Mr Maitland, 
Almoner formerly to Ogilvie's Regiment, Mr Mansefield 
at London and Mr at Bath." 

"June 21. The Kings Father James 3rd and 8th 
born, this makes the hundredth year since his birth and 
ye Usurpation." 

" 27th. I and mine always cared for in Spiritualls as 
well as temporalls. Communicate here with the loyal 
Mr Brown." 

"Nov. 5th. The Elector delirious and confined this 
day. A memorable day, Old stile, and this year kept by 
the Whigs on ye new. and on which at Edinburgh they 
solemnized ye 100th year of ye Revolution, and the 
immortal memory, as they stiled it, of Willy, drank to 
and proposed to erect a column in memory of ye 
Wickedest of Mankind, and most dishonouring event to 
the Nation." 

As in youth, so in the decline of old age, when he was 

1 The Oliphants received much kindness from the Cardinal of York, who was 
said to have treated the seventh Laird of Gask "like a brother." 


sinking towards the death for which he long had prayed, 
the principles of his double faith upheld him. And still 
he must have felt there was work to do, while surrounded 
by his children in whose young minds he could foster 
the spirit of his race. 

Upon the mind and character of Carolina the training 
of this devoted father left lasting results. The child of 
poetry and romance, her imagination was fed at a pure 
source in the story of Gask. The memories of the House 
of Oliphant were great memories, the training of its 
children from generation to generation was founded upon 
lofty traditions, and as the heroic times went by and parts 
were no longer played upon the wide stage of history, 
the lives were lived as simple gentlemen and women 
always in the light of a great past. Then there came the 
flowering of chivalry once more. Once more the stage 
widened, bringing great chances, offering a part in history 
again. As if the spring of their actions rested on those 
great unforgotten deeds of their forefathers, the Jacobite 
lairds answered to the call of the blood. The singular 
charm of the story, rounding it to a beautiful complete- 
ness, lies in the fact that after this late flowering of 
the ancient chivalrous spirit of the race, and at a time 
when it became manifest that the struggle was founded 
on a hope never to be fulfilled, from the blood and 
the name came the poet who was to help to make 
the cause of the Stewarts immortal. With the coming 
of Carolina Oliphant, the long story of distress and 
bereavement, of broken hopes and lost fortune, ripens 
and crystallises into song. 

The spirit of Carolina was inherited from progenitors 
further back than her father, the eager soldier, the gentle 
invalid, to whose stories she listened ; further back than 
the grandfather with his unstained record of honour and 
courage, though she shared and understood the sympathies 
of both. The same strain of blood that inspired the 
poems of the poet chief, Alexander Robertson of Strowan, 
beat in her veins. The voices of a still remoter age called 
through her lips. In a dim and far past, in the Celtic 


ancestors of her mother, Margaret Robertson, and of 
her father's mother, Amelie Nairne, lay the sources of 
her power ancestors who, voiceless in their own fierce 
times, lived their poetry and romance in fray and foray, 
and passed to other generations only the fragment of a 
stirring story, or the lilt of a wild song. But something 
infinitely more than even the primitive note of Celtic 
expression enriched the nature of Carolina. Linked with 
her great gift of song was an inherent nobleness of nature, 
a soul dowered with all those fine impulses which had 
been the guides of action in the lives of her forbears. 
Ancestry seldom accounts for genius ; but it is part of 
the beauty of her story that in the clear simplicity of all 
she did and said and wrote, there is traceable the out- 
standing qualities of those from whom she came, as if 
all they had endured so well and yielded so nobly bore 
an exquisite fruit in her gifts of fortitude and sacrifice. 
The outcome of it all was song. 

Neither father nor mother ever knew it. Carolina was 
only eight when her mother died, and no mention in 
anything her father ever wrote concerning his children 
indicates that he observed a special gift in any one of 
his four daughters. Carolina's up-bringing and education 
might be described as decidedly within the usual narrow 
bounds of girls' education in those days. She learnt to 
ride, to dance, to play the spinet, for all the sisters had 
delightful musical gifts. Aunt Henrietta Nairne, a loved 
companion, but the worst of spellers, was not likely to 
pay particular heed to the development of the children's 
tastes in literature or general cultivation. 

The story has more than once been told of how Aunt 
Henrietta, 1 on receiving an urgent message to go to the 
sick-bed of her sister Lady Lude, sent a note into 
Perth to order the largest chaise that could be procured. 
Two men arrived at Gask staggering under an enormous 
cheese. In spite of her anxiety about her sister, Aunt 
Henrietta had a prolonged fit of laughing, and the 
journey was abandoned for that day. 

1 One engaging detail of Aunt Henrietta is mentioned in a letter, " She was 
always a great laugher." 



But a high standard, even in such simple matters as 
writing and spelling, was not thought essential. 

The young life of Carolina was completely that of 
a young lady in the "elegant retirement" of a country 
home, in the days when women's intellectual development 
did not absorb any attention. That she was full of life 
and spirits, doing everything with all her heart, is well 
shown in her letters and in the family story. The picture 
of her is of a beautiful and high-spirited girl, taking such 
pleasures as came her way with enthusiasm, and devoted 
to the arts of music and painting. She was "pretty 
Miss Car," the "Flower of Strathearn," the "Toast of 
the Countryside," "The White Rose of Cask." 1 

According to one slender thread of evidence, the 
romance of Carolina's life began in very early youth. A 
scrap of paper put away among other family relics and 
forgotten, gives the clue. On the small square of paper 
is written in a careful hand the verse of a song : 

" As the Thames' rolling stream moved pensive along, 
Thro 1 the vales, thro' the dales and the willows among, 
A swain that complained on its banks had reclined, 
He wept to the stream and he sighed to the wind. 
In vain, he cry'd, nature hath opened the Spring, 
In vain bloom the roses, the nightingales sing, 
To a heart full of sorrow no beauties appear, 
Each Zephyr's a sigh and each dewdrop a tear." 

At the back of the paper, long years afterwards, Carolii 
added a few words : 

" Written by my desire by my then future mos 

1 It was the fashion of the day in Perthshire to invent rhymes and nickname 
To this time belongs the well-known "Litany" of'Maxtone of Cultoquhey. 
" From the greed of the Campbells, from the ire of the Drummonds, from the 
pride of the Grahams, from the wind of the Murrays Good Lord Deliver us.' 
Miss Grace Graeme was " The Fair Maid of Craig Rossie/' and Lady Charlott 
Campbell " The Flower of Argyll." The following is from the diary of Charle 
Steuart of Dalguise : 

" The Strathearn Rose, 
The Strathallan Trout, 
The Star of the Stormont, 

And the Moor Pout." 
The Rose was Miss Moray of Abercairny, the Star Miss Murray of Kincairny, 
the Moor Pout Miss Drummond of Pitkellony. The Strathallau Trout has nc " 
been identified. 

1766 - 1845. 


beloved husband when I was about 17 years old (at Gask). 
Wished to have these lines because they seemed so 
beautiful when he sung them." 

The singer of the song was William Nairne, her 
second cousin. John, 1 the eldest surviving son of the third 
Lord Nairne, never assumed the title. He married about 
1756 Brabazon Wheeler, 2 fifth daughter of Richard 
Wheeler of JLyrath in Ireland. There were three children 
of this marriage : John, who died in America unmarried 
in 1781 ; William, born at Drogheda 1757, who was 
in Eraser's 71st Regiment; and a daughter, Brabazon, 
who died unmarried in 1783. John Nairne, the father, 
who was Provost of St Andrews, died in 1782. His 
income consisted of 150 allowed him from the Civil 
List, and 100 was continued to his wife. The title 
remained in abeyance for seventy-eight years. In the 
very impoverished state of the family resources it was 
probably as well for William Nairne that he had no 
honours of the kind to support. He must far more keenly 
have regretted his inability to marry. He and Carolina 
were true to each other all through the long days of 
youth. Twenty-three years passed from the day he sang 
the song at Gask, till the marriage was accomplished. 

From the first beginnings of recollection life had worn 
for the four sisters at Gask a grave as well as a gay aspect. 
Their days were passed in nursing the father, whose con- 
stantly declining health, as years went on, took away all 
possibility of light-hearted careless joy of life. Marjory, 
whose conduct in early youth had drawn forth the series 
of unfavourable comments already recorded, developed 
into a tender and devoted nurse, and a fitting head to 
the household. Laurence Oliphant's fear that he would 
lose the comfort of Aunt Henrietta's help was never 
fulfilled ; she outlived her nephew many years, and con- 
tinued to the end an inmate of Gask. That he deeply 

1 Although his father, the third Lord Nairne, had ten children John was 
the only one who married ; he was the third son. His eldest brother, James, 
died in 1737. His eldest sister and another elder brother, William, both 
died of smallpox 1729. 

2 She died in 1801. 


appreciated the love and care of his children is shown 
in many passages in his journal : 

" What comfort in my four Girles, my servants too ! 
no indisposed person so agreeably waited on as I, or with 
more alacrity and willingness. 

" Four dear Girles to dress and undress and do every- 
thing necessary about me and keep me company by turns 
thro' the day." 

To part with Laurie was disquieting, and the father 
seems in his nervous state to have allowed the proposal 
to cause him an access of illness. Nevertheless the young 
man did get leave at last to set forth on his travels. He 
never saw his father again, and was in Flanders when the 
end came. 

The death so long desired came gently on New Year's 
Day, 1792. So long an invalid, so long dwelling apart 
from the stream of action and influence, the seventh Laird 
of Cask seems in old age only a shadow of the " glorious, 
rash, and hazardous young man" riding forth with his 
father upon the great adventure of the '45, or thundering 
up the Canongate crying his tidings of victory. But 
even in the pathetic helplessness of inaction and ill-health 
his steadfast efforts were directed towards keeping alive 
the dying flame of Jacobite loyalty. He lived to hear 
the first tempest of the French Revolution break over 
Europe. The very last entry in his journal bears upon 
the tragedy : 

Oct. 6 1789. " The King and Queen of France during 
ye night assaulted in their palace of Versailles, several of 
the Gard du corps killed in the apartments, and they 
carried off as Prisoners to the Tuileries part of the 
Louvre, many women, or in the habit of women, made 
ye assault. The Marquis de la Fayett at the head of 
the Paris Militia came and join'd them to carry off the 
King. The States Generall calling themselves the 
National Assembly followed to Paris." 

Laurence Oliphant was released before the great 
feudal traditions of Europe received their death-blow in 


the triumph of the Revolution. He belonged to the 
old order, and was not fated to see the lowering of its 

Alexander Robertson writes from Potterhill to his 
nephew, now eighth Laird of Gask, in Flanders, 7th 
January 1792, when the old laird had been dead a week : 

" MY DEAR NEPHEW, Before now you will have 
received the melancholy accounts from Gask. As it was 
not thought proper to look at any of your late dear 
Fathers papers without your authority, it will be necessary 
that you should empower such persons as you think 
proper to examine them. . . . your Brother and Sisters 
support the great loss they have sustained with as much 
fortitude as could be expected. Charles behaved with 
great propriety at the interment which took place 
yesterday it was attended by Lord Kinnoull. Capt. 
Murray and all the relations and friends of the deceased 
that were in the neighbourhood. 

" Your Brother is to return as soon as possible to his 
studies, and I believe is to be here tomorrow or the day 
after on his way to Edin. Your Grandmother sends 
you her blessing. . . . ALEX. ROBERTSON." 

A letter from Amelia to Laurie shows how life 
went on: 

" GASK, Feb. 8th 1792. 

" My dear Brother would be agreeably surprised if he 
saw how tolerably cheerful we are. To be sure the loss 
we have suffered must fall heavy upon all our minds 
sometimes but we have been supported far beyond what 
we could have imagined and if we thought you were 
as well it would be a great comfort to us. 

"We endeavour to be always employed about one 
thing or other and do not forget your injunctions about 
somebody being here so much as can be conveniently for 
them. Part of my amusement is to contemplate May 
which I do in the same manner I would any thing I 
thought out of the reach of my imitation. How she kept 
up at the first how she has now a constant mild serenity 
that often approaches to cheerfulness and seldom or never 
sinks and that in the midst of her business for she is 


always attending to something and I dare say might often 
be fretted. I am often ashamed of her attention to us 
because it is due from us to her especially as she is 
much taken up and not very attentive to herself. Aunt 
Harriet's anxiety you know it has appeared very much 
indeed with the utmost kindness. . . . 

" I suppose Car will go to the Hill soon, she has been 
riding a little lately. Poor Sultana has gone she took 
what they thought the Batts and died this morning, 
perhaps May mentioned that. 

" I hope Mr Charles Graeme does not leave you time 
to think too much it is good to have the mind often 
turned off melancholy reflections at first. There is plenty 
of time afterwards to indulge them when it may be 
done with less hurt. However in our case I think re- 
flection sometimes brings consolation -- indeed it will 
always do it to us, if we look a little beyond the short 
term of human life. AMELIA OLIPHANT." 



THE Gask children, bereft of their chief occupation, had 
to recast existence into a new form. Laurie, now the 
young laird, came home, and the party spent the winter 
of 1794 in Edinburgh. For the first time the four hand- 
some and clever girls went into the world to see and be 
seen. But the group was soon to be broken. Charles 
Steuart of Dalguise had long cherished an affection for 
Amelia Oliphant. He was a widower, having married in 
1786 Miss Grace Stewart 1 of Ballechin. She lived only 
one year. Now his thoughts went forward to a future 
with Amelia, whose handsome face still is seen in her 
portrait at Dalguise. The match must, on the whole, 
have been pleasing to the Gask family, strongly united 
as they were, for Charles Steuart 's estate lay only a few 
miles from home, a pretty old house on the banks of 
Tay, near Dunkeld. 

The young laird, who kept up a constant correspond- 
ence with his Robertson uncles, writes to Alexander from 
Perth in May 1794 : 

"My DEAR UNCLE, I am desired by Amelia to 
inform you that she has now accepted of Mr Steuart of 
Dalguise's addresses, who I must confess deserves it from 
his long affection for her. Amelia has no doubt of having 
your approbation as you seemed to wish it, when he first 
made his application to her. She is to have a carriage, 
and he is to set about building a new home imediately 
as soon as the Duke of Atholl and he can agree about an 
exchange of property which upon equal terms will be an 

1 Her portrait, painted by Raeburn, was sold at the Dalguise sale in 
Edinburgh, 1904. 



advantage to both parties. Mr Steuart is to be at Gask 
in a few days to settle the preliminaries which from the 
terms in which he talks I have no doubt will make 
Amelia comfortable. He is a very good man tho not 
quite so genteel in his manners as one could wish, but 
it is impossible to obtain all properties, one must often 
be content if the leading features in a character are good. 
There is no day fixed as yet for the marriage but I 
suppose it will take place soon." 

To the same : 

"July 6, 1794. 

" When I arrived in Edinburgh I went to the Abbey 
to see my sister Carolina who has been staying with Lady 
Elizabeth Murray for some time getting clothes etc. for 
Amelia. She spoke to me concerning Mr & Mrs 
Lindly's * situation which being truly deplorable. I shall 
state to you as nearly as I can remember, which Mr 
Lindly begged of me to do, as he knows of no friend to 
apply to for advice, and he is willing to exert himself in 
any way that would extricate himself from his present 
dilemma, for he is so deep in debt that he cannot remove 
from the Abbey for fear of being thrown into jail, but is 
accommodated in the meantime with Lord Bredalbane's 
lodgings there, which there is no great likelihood of his 
being able to keep, as his lordship has use for the furni- 
ture in them." 

To the same from Perth : 

" 12 July 1794. 

"As my sister Amelia is particularly anxious that 
you should be present at her intended marriage, I am 
desired by her to request that favour of you and as I 
think by the arrangement at present on foot the 22 
will be the day appointed for the signing of the contract, 
I hope you will be able to be at Gask the day before and 
the ceremony will take place the day following. ... If 

1 There is an entry in Laurence Oliphant's accounts : " Mar. 17, 1795. 
,18 paid to Mrs Lindly at the Abbey, niece to the Earl of Dunmore, in her 
distress." Later, in February 1796, there is a further entry : " 26 for Captain 
Lindly for passage money to New Providence." John Murray, Dean of Kilfaloe, 
and his wife, Lady Elizabeth Murray (daughter of the third Earl of Dunmore), 
had a daughter, Harriet, who married Captain William Lindly. She divorced 
him in 1805, and the same year married John Francis Staveley, of York. 


anything should happen to prevent the marriage upon the 
day named I shall send an express." 

Amelia's marriage was a very happy one; her letters 
to her husband, many of them written from Cask, show 
a deep and tender affection. At the same time she 
leaned very much on the advice and judgment of her 
sister Carolina in all the events of her life, and Carolina 
spent a good deal of her time in visiting the Steuarts. 
Little is known of her personality during these years. 
There is already a staidness, the point of view of an 
onlooker, in the letters she writes to Charles Steuart 
during Amelia's engagement. It is as if the chief events 
of girlhood and womanhood had passed her by, giving 
her no place as a central figure. Amelia's marriage and 
the births of her children 1 gave her new interests ; but 
her own girlhood was over, and she watched others enter 
into their heritage of womanhood, cherishing in her own 
heart the steadfast romance of her love for William 
Nairne, the vision of the happy marriage that was not 
to come in youth at all. William Nairne was poor for 
the same reason that Carolina was poor ; it was an 
honourable poverty, a source of simple pride, but it 
stood between them and their happiness for twenty-three 

In the year and month of Amelia's marriage, 1794, 
Laurie, the young laird, joined the Perthshire Light 
Dragoons. His commission as Captain under Colonel 
Moray of Abercairny is dated the next year, 29th May 
1795. At the original county meeting, when it was 
decided to raise the regiment, Laurie had offered his 
services. The landowners of Perthshire were to find the 

1 1. Margaret Henrietta Maria, born at Durham 1st May 1797. She died 
unmarried at Edinburgh 1896, in her hundredth year. 

2. John, born at Ardblair 7th August 1799, married, 1829, Hon. Janet 

Oliphant Murray, eldest daugliter of the eighth Lord Elibank. He 
had five daughters. He went to South Africa and was High Sheriff 
of the Cape of Good Hope. 

3. Laurence Oliphant, born at Dalguise 1st February 1801, and died the 

same year. 

4. Charles, born at Dalguise 2nd May 1803, died unmarried at Gibraltar 



money. Three troops were thus raised under Colonel 
Moray, George Graeme of Inchbrakie, and Alexander 
Muir MacKenzie of Del vine. Early in 1795 a general 
augmentation of Scots Fencible Cavalry was authorised, 
and in June the regiment left Stirling for Aberdeen. 
While the regiment was there, an incident occurred 
which seems to have been the cause of a good deal of 
agitation. The Evening Courant of 13th August 1795 
gives the following account : 

" On the first formation of the Corps, Mr Oliphant 
offered his services to the County Meeting to act in the 
Corps as a Lieutenant, which offer they accepted, and his 
name was enrolled as a Lieutenant in it from the very 
commencement. Some time afterwards Mr Steel was 
engaged in London to act as Adjutant, Cornet and 
Riding Master to the Corps, but he was soon after 
promoted to a lieutenancy in it, and it appears from the 
evidence of Major Moray, who gave him the appointment, 
that he meant Mr Steel to be the junior Lieutenant, as 
all the other lieutenancies were already filled up. When 
the Regiment was gazetted, it appeared that the name of 
Mr Steel stood before that of Mr Oliphant, on which 
account Mr Steel claimed rank as Senior Lieutenant, 
and did duty as such till the 4th of June last, when 
the officers were invited to drink His Majesty's health 
with the Magistrates of Stirling, on which occasion, after 
the officers had taken their places in a circle at the 
Cross, Lieutenant Oliphant went up and took the officer 
immediately above Lieutenant Steel by the arm, standing 
at the time before Mr Steel and, as he says, trod upon 
his toes. It has not appeared in evidence whither Mr 
Oliphant came into that situation with an intention to 
supercede Mr Steel and stand above him, or only to 
speak to the officer next him. It appears, however, that 
Lieutenant Steel conceived the former and said to 
Lieutenant Oliphant * Don't put me out of my place,' 
to which the other answered that he 'had as good a 
right to that place as he had' on which Steel replied 
that ' he was a scoundrel for saying so, or pretending so,' 
and these words he repeated after the Major came up 
and interfered. 

" After the company dispersed, the Major held a con- 


sultation with the Officers of the Corps on what had 
passed, and they were of opinion that Lieutenant Steel 
should be put under arrest in the meantime, which was 
immediately done. . . . Lieutenant Steel declined making 
any apology for his conduct, unless Lieutenant Oliphant 
would previously acknowledge in coming up and standing 
before him and treading on his toes, he did not mean to 
insult the prisoner. But upon acknowledgment to that 
effect being made, he declared his willingness then to 
make any apology which his brother officers should deem 
necessary. Tt seems however that the corps did not 
think such a previous acknowledgment as the prisoner 
required necessary, although it was verbally communi- 
cated to him that Lieutenant Oliphant meant no offence ; 
but this Lieutenant Steel did not deem sufficient, as he 
conceived Lieutenant Oliphant to be the aggressor. And 
thus matters stood till Lieutenant Steel claimed a trial 
by Court Martial." 

Subsequently a court martial was held on Lieutenant- 
Adjutant Steel on a charge of disrespectful conduct to 
the commanding officer and other officers. He refused 
to sign any apology, and succeeded in getting a court 
martial held on Colonel Moray and George Graeme, 
which found, however, in their favour. So far the affair 
seems simple, but it appears to have convulsed Perth- 
shire, and certainly caused much disquietude in the 
Gask household. 

Laurence, the young laird, now twenty-eight years 
old, had engaged himself to Miss Christian Robertson of 
Ardblair. The Blairs of Ardblair were of a very ancient 
family, the property lying some thirty miles from Gask 
between Blairgowrie and Dunkeld. James Blair of 
Ardblair, born 1682, was married to Christian Forrester, 
daughter of a writer in Edinburgh. There was a large 
family, but only two daughters survived the father: 
Margaret, born 1721, married at Ardblair, 1765, Colonel 
William Fullarton, eldest son of Fullarton of that Ilk, 
and who died without issue, 1802 ; and Rachel, born 
1725, who married at Ardblair, 1767, Dr Joseph Robertson. 
Their only child, Christian, born at Edinburgh 12th April 



1769, was therefore the heiress of Ardblair, to which she 
succeeded on the death of her aunt, Mrs Fullarton, in 

The time of Laurence's engagement does not appear, 
but Christian Robertson writes from Ardblair on 13th 
August 1795:- 

" Your letter relieved us from a good deal of uneasi- 
ness by the silence you observe with respect to the 
disagreeable circumstance of a Court Martial having 
occurred, as it proves you are not in any degree con- 
cerned. ... I am sorry I mentioned a word of my 
Mare's folly or rather my own want of management. 
She is in general the quietest creature imaginable and 
never attempted such a frolic before or since. . . . 
Believe me to be yours truly, 


The following is from Carolina Oliphant to her 
brother Laurence, from Dalguise, 19th August 1795, 
addressed to the camp at Aberdeen : 

" MY DEAR LAURIE, Your letter to Mrs Steuart was 
a perfect cordial to us. The account we had heard just 
the night before for the first time was pretty just, as it 
was brought by Mr Elder from Lord A. Gordon, but the 
stile of the Courant was most alarming and provoking. 
Amelia was not the worse of the little alarm she got 
though I was afraid she would, Lnd I think myself 
fortunate to have got off with one night's unhappiness ; 
it would be nonsense to attempt to describe the feelings 
of that night ; your letter came next day and all was 
right. I hope since the affair must be public to see a 
just account of it in the papers, for at present it is told 
a thousand ways. I sincerely hope if Steel is not broke 
he will have at least spirit enough to leave the corps. 
I cannot feel quite easy while he remains in it tho' I'm 
sure he ought not to be treated in any one respect as 
gentleman and of course whatever his conduct may 
in future we ought not to be alarmed. . . . When people 
are obliged to associate with low bred bears it is im- 
possible to say what may happen, in this case surely 
Major Moray is the person affronted and I wish that 
were better known. . . . What I would give to see yo 


settled as we wish at Cask. Adieu my dearest Brother, 
I never knew till Monday to what unbounded extent 
I am your most aff. sister, CAEO. OLIPHANT." 

Marjory Oliphant writes to her brother Laurence 
from Cask: 

" August 29, 1795. 

". . . Miss Robertson wrote in answer to mine, we 
have a charming prospect of a happy life while with her. 
By the by we are very well pleased she has no other 
sisters and I daresay you are not very sorry. . . . We 
were much obliged to you for writing to relieve us about 
Steel's business, it gave us much pleasure to hear the 
real way of it from yourself, as that in the papers surprised 
us a little. . . . Charles is just come up ... he says he 
would have wrote; yet he wishes to see you before he 
decides as he does not sufficiently understand the nature 
of the employment you point out for him. ... I hope 
the reformation so happily begun will be completed as 
he passes these years so universally dedicated to folly 
by young people. Our repairs go on well, they doubtless 
give ground for conjectures at least, but we were sur- 
prised to hear that Lord Rollo (after calling here) had 
gone to Duncrub full of the marriage and the Lady too. 
Miss Drummond Callender writes in the same style, and 
we have enough to do to avoid equivocating, which how- 
ever, I do not intend to do, or tell either." 

Christian Robertson writes from Ardblair to Miss 
Oliphant at Gask: 

" I was so unreasonable as expect to hear from you 
yesterday and as I was then disappointed consoled myself 
with the hope of having a letter today for certain and 
despatched a servant early to wait the arrival of the 
Post. He is this instant returned without one and I 
cannot express the uneasiness this silence has caused. 
Sometimes I think it may be owing to the last accounts 
by Charles being so favourable that you consider it un- 
necessary to continue their confirmation, at other times 
the most painful ideas of a relapse occurs to my mind 
and fills it with the most disagreeable sensations. For 
God's sake write me what is the matter and if possible 


give me good news. ... I hardly know what I say, . . . 
the humanity of your disposition will induce you to 
relieve the anxiety of your most affectionate 


Another letter from Ardblair, dated simply Monday 
night, is addressed to Laurence Oliphant: 

"MY DEAR FRIEND, Your silence is unaccountable, 
and distresses me more than it is in my power to express, 
... it is eight days tomorrow since I have had any 
accounts from Gask, and even then they were not such 
as to make me perfectly at ease with respect to your 
Brother . . . you dont know how miserable your con- 
cealment has made me. . . ." 

On the same sheet is added : 

" Ten thousand thanks for your kind attention which 
has so effectually relieved me. I had written the first 
part of this, as you will easily perceive, to your sister 
before I received your welcome Epistle. ... I would 
fain have committed it to oblivion with the gloomy ideas 
that occasioned it, but my Father, who knows I am 
writing, insisted I should continue on the same paper, 

I suppose to prepare you for the impatient you are 

to expect." 

Laurence Oliphant writes to his uncle, Alexander 
Robertson, from Gask, llth November 1795 : 

"My DEAR UNCLE, I left Ardblair this forenoon, 
and Monday is at last fixed for the ceremony to take 
place which has been so long delayed upon account of my 
illness. It would no doubt have given both Christian and 
I the greatest pleasure if you would have witnessed the 
marriage, but owing to the smallness of the house of 
Ardblair, we could not think of asking that favour, but 
we intend to be at Gask next day, and we will earnestly 
expect very soon to see you here. ..." 

On 10th December the bride is established at Gasl 
with Aunt Henrietta and the three sisters-in-law. 

Laurence Oliphant writes from Gask, 14th Marcl 
1796, to his uncle, Alexander Robertson : 


" I have been at home for about a fortnight ; but must 
return to Stirling upon the 21st, as Col. Moray told me 
I need not expect to get away again, ... I think it is 
probable Mrs Oliphant will go with me, and my eldest 
sister. Our rank is still undetermined, owing in a great 
measure, I think, to our commanding officer who is very 
delitory in his exertions, which makes us totally in the 
dark what honors we have to look for. Since ever I went 
into the corps I have seen frequent proofs of insincerity 
amongst the officers which hurt me very much, but I 
have witnessed it more particularly since the plan of 
augmenting has been in agitation. We have now, too, 
got in a number of lads for subalterns not very desirable 
for companions ... I have some thoughts of resigning 
... if one could look for peace soon it would be desirable 
to remain till we are disbanded. ..." 

He writes again to the same from Stirling, 6th April 
1796 : 

" If we were lucky in having a decided respectable 
commanding Officer I am persuaded much more might be 
made of this corps ; but from experience I have now the 
same opinion of Abercairny which you formerly enter- 
tained of him, and I begin to think that a man who will 
submit to be a jocky in horse-flesh will not scruple to 
assume the same character upon every occasion where 
his interest is concerned. Had it not been for the 
pusilanimous behaviour of Col. Moray I have no doubt 
but the unworthy member of the corps would have been 
dismissed from the service ; but as that has not taken 
pla^e, the corps have entered into a resolution not to 
associate with him, which has been invariably adhered to 
by us all, except when our military duty required us to 
speak to him. The Duke of York has written to the 
commander in chieff in Scotland saying that he is perfectly 
satisfied with Col. Moray's reasons for looking upon me 
as an older officer than Steel . . . and I have accord- 
ingly taken the command of him before I am gazetted as 
a Captain. . . . Doctor Robertson gave me four thousand 
pounds down with Mrs Oliphant. I have made a settle- 
ment of a thousand instead of five hundred upon each 
of my sisters. I am much persecuted about Charles. I 
have been at much trouble, and have everything in train 


for purchasing a collectorship for him .... but I under- 
stand that the oath of abjuration is indispensably 
necessary, which Charles I am sure would not take, nor 
would I desire him. . . . He has some idea of going 
into the fur trade in Canada. . . . He would probably 
get over head and ears in debt, from ignorance of 
business, and I am afraid might get into a habit of 
tipling with low bodies. ..." 

Mrs Oliphant's mother died in 1796 " went off with- 
out pain and literally fell on sleep." In the same letter 
that tells this, Laurence announces to his uncle that he 
has hopes of an heir, and also that Steel has been dis- 
missed the service. 

A letter from Margaret Oliphant in May 1797 
mentions Charles's state of health, his symptoms point- 
ing to consumption. Charles himself writes to his Uncle 
Alexander giving deplorable details. He died at Gask 
23rd July 1797. Little is known of his life, and any 
estimate of his character is built on slight foundation. 
That he was the hero of his father's daily loyal toast at 
dinner, that he stole a peach and repented, that he was 
an anxiety to his elder brother, and that he lived and 
died an unalterable Jacobite these are the only records 
that remain of his short life of twenty-five years. 

Carolina writes from Ardblair, 18th August 1799, to 
Alexander Robertson : 

"Amelia has recovered vastly well yesterday and 
today she has been almost constantly in the diningroom 
and the nice little boy is the quietest child I ever saw 
unless when he is hungry and then to be sure he cries very 
stoutly, he is to be christened John after Mr Steuart's 
father, on Sunday next. . . . My brother regretted very 
much that Lord Kinnoull's yeomanry zeal brought him 
down the country so very suddenly, they are to go into 
quarters at Stirling on the 26 for a week that they may 
be all drilled together. Mr Steuart was in Perth the 
other day to attend in his own defence that is to say 
in defence of his probity before the commissioners for the 
income tax, his returns were so very far below what the 
old liar reported. Report had represented to them that 
they hinted to him he must have misunderstood the Act, 


he had all his proofs at hand however and completely 
convinced them. . . . May, Margaret and I break- 
fasted at St Martin's as we came home and found Amelia 
perfectly well she dined and drank tea without making 
any complaint, and that night the young laird was born. 
Margaret Harriet grows very well and is I think a sweet 
child indeed. Nancy Steuart 1 is a tall genteel looking 
girl and promises to be very amiable. ..." 

Other family events at the close of the century were 
the marriage of Marjory Oliphant, the eldest daughter, 
at the age of thirty-seven, to Dr Alexander Stewart 2 
of Bonskeid, in November 1799, and the pulling down 
of the old house, an act which it is difficult for his 
descendants to forgive the eighth Laird of Cask. The 
old church went too, a cruel change to the numberless 
families whose dead had been buried in the ancient yard 
from time immemorial. 3 Years passed before the tenants 
left off a habit of carrying their dead to the old place and 
burying them there in the dead of night. 

The life of the eighth laird was on the whole not very 
fortunate or happy. Perhaps his best years were those 
of his very early married life, during the three years he 
was with the Perthshire Dragoons. Early in 1797 he 
marched into Westmoreland, with the object of keeping 
order during a ballot for the supplimentary militia, and 
writes as follows to his Uncle Strowan ; 

c< Great preparations are making to oppose us ; men are 
even at exercise for that purpose ; but if any resistance 
is made our lads will give them a complete drubbing ; 
numerous mobs have already assembled, but armed only 
with bludgeons. Lord Lansdown and the Duke of 
Norfolk are both great democrats and very likely abettors 
of the rioters." 4 

1 The daughter of Charles Steuart's brother Thomas, who was dead. Charles 
Steuart gave a home to Nancy and her sister when their mother married again 
a Mr Niven. Carolina Oliphant was very much attached to this young girl. 

2 He was a widower. His first wife was a Miss Bisset. There were three 
children, but wife and children all died within a short time. 

3 Charles Steuart records in his diary, 1826, that there were then many 
gravestones bearing the name of Oliphant, and not a few with coats of arms. 
He found part of a pillar with initials ' 'L. O." and arms, but no date. There was 
also an old font. All these stones have now disappeared. The tombstone of 
Thomas Oliphant, 1740, is the only one now visible. 

4 Jacobite Lairds, p. 430. 


"DUMFRIES, 1 Sept. 20th 1797. 

" MY DEAR UNCLE, I had the pleasure of receiving 
your letter sometime since and had not the least idea at 
that time I was to answer it from Scotland as when it 
arrived we were under orders to be ready to march at a 
moment's warning, the Dutch fleet being supposed out at 
sea and a landing of the enemy upon some part of our 
coast aprehended. This false alarm had not long subsided 
when our route arrived for Scotland to go there to assist 
the pusillanimous Magistrates in the execution of their 
duty ; but I am happy to add that everything has been 
quiet since our arrival and the ringleaders taken up by 
our lads without the smallest assistance. I understand 
we are soon to measure back our steps to winter in 
England. You have no doubt been acquainted with the 
very tumultuous behaviour of the Atholl men who 
threaten'd Atholl house and Lude with being burnt and 
assembled here to the number of many hundred with 
such intentions. Aunt Henrietta and May happened to 
be at Lude at the time upon a visit, and together with 
Mrs Robertson and Lude, at the head of near a hundred 
men, went down to Atholl house for safety. How time 
and circumstances may bring about a meeting between 
the most hostile families. I think it must have been an 
awkward first visit for Mrs Robertson at Atholl house. 
Every thing is now quiet there and a troop of Dragoons 
at Blair and another at Sir Jn. Menzies's (who I am 
told acted as he was ordered by the highlanders) for the 
preservation of their houses and their personal safety. I 
am anxious to hear how my Uncle's tenants behaved 
altho' I have little doubt as to that point. Mine have 
been shewing their teeth too ; but as such a majority of 
the Parishes in the County have come forward so properly 
I dare say the hustle is at an end. . . . 

" Lord Feilding who haunted us so at Chester le Street 
and made us go ten or twelve miles down to Lude's land 
to flank his parade, for it could hardly be called anything 
more, is now appointed to the Staff of Scotland and sent 
to turn us out very unexpectedly yesterday, for which 
however he is to give us all a feed to-day. He is a 
favourite of our friend Graeme's, as he pays great attention 
to etiquette and is very anxious to inform himself and to 

1 Part of this letter is given in the Jacobite Lairds, p. 431. 


learn his duty. How does the subscription go on for Mr 
Nairne 1 I propose giving 10 per ann. towards his relief 
and if an immediate supply were deem'd necessary I 
should be willing to send him what I could spare. Mrs 
Oliphant is just now at Fremdon Grange and our little 
daughter who is a fine thriving stout child. . . . 

* Your dutiful nephew and most obedient and humble 
servant, LAU. OLIPHANT." 

It is hard to dissociate thoughts of Laurie, the eighth 
Laird, from the infinite regret of the destruction of the 
old house of Cask, and the removal of the old kirk. 
Doubtless he had his reasons. Rats seem to have 
taken possession of the house, and swarmed everywhere. 
Family tradition relates that the housekeeper, Mrs 
Hutton, composed a letter addressed to the Captain of 
the Rats, requesting him to remove with his followers, 
which appeal, thrust into a convenient rat-hole, was 
supposed to bring about the dispersal of the army. Even 
this desperate remedy failed, and the rats one night 
attacked the baby Laurence in his cradle. This seems 
to have been the determining point, and the old house, 
where eight successive generations of his forebears had 
been born and reared, was doomed to destruction by 
the Laird. 

The disastrous fashion of the day was to pull down, 
or "improve" out of recognition, the old Scottish 
houses, rearing in their places dignified and cold resi- 
dences, generally a great deal too large for the property. 
This is what was done at Gask, and thus it happened 
that what would to-day have been one of the most 
interesting memorials of old Scottish life was remorse- 
lessly sacrificed. A broken and crumbling remnant alone 
remains of that beautiful and curious structure, so rich 
in historical and tender association. 2 But the immortality 
of the "Auld Hoose" was assured. In the heart of 

1 See p. 327. 

2 In the Memoir of Baroness Nairne, the Rev. Charles Rogers raised from 
the dead the " Venerated Chief of Strowan, Duncan Robertson," to carry the 
Family Bible from the old house to the new. He had been in his grave for 
twenty years when this removal occurred ! 


Carolina the sorrow for its loss and the charm of all its 
memories was deeply rooted, in time to blossom into 

The new house was begun in 1801. 

The last group of children ever reared at Gask were 
the children of Laurence Oliphant and Christian Robertson. 

1. Rachel, born in Edinburgh 27th January 1797, 

died at Bath unmarried 1864. 

2. Laurence, afterwards ninth Laird of Gask, born 

6th May 1798, died unmarried at Torquay 
31st December 1824. 

3. Margaret, born 21st August 1799, married at 

Rood Ashton, May 1830, to Thomas Kington 
of Charlton House, Somersetshire, died at 
Teignmouth 14th September 1839, leaving issue 
three sons and a daughter. 

4. Christian, born at Gask 12th October 1800, died 

unmarried at Malvern June 1830. 

5. Harriet, born at Gask 20th November 1801, died 

unmarried at Gask 6th August 1822. 

6. Amelia, born at Gask 22nd December 1802, died 

in London unmarried 18th October 1820. 

7. James Blair, afterwards tenth Laird of Gask, born 

3rd March 1804 at Christianbank, Edinburgh, 
married, 20th October 1840, his cousin Henrietta, 
daughter and heir of James Gillespie Graeme of 
Orchill (who survived him and died 1886). He 
died 9th December 1847 at Leamington, leaving 
no issue. 

8. Caroline, born at Gask 16th January 1807, died 

unmarried at Clifton 9th February 1831. 
It will be seen that of all this large family only one, 
the second daughter, Margaret, left children, and from 
her come all the descendants of the eighth Laird of Gask, 
and the direct line of the family. 



LIVED among the manifold interests of sisters, brothers, 
nieces and nephews, and a score of Perthshire relatives 
near at hand, riding, dancing, singing, the early life of 
Carolina Oliphant could have known little of dulness. 
In all family events hers was the judgment most valued, 
hers the love most sought. Her life was never at any 
time devoted to a single pursuit ; there was no decision 
on her part to take up the great interests of literature, 
and to set herself to climb the thorny and glorious path. 
Nothing is known of her literary aspirations, beyond the 
fact that she loved Burns, and was among the first to 
hail the rising star of his genius. The source of her own 
inspiration lay in her power of perception, and this, 
instantly recognising the genius of Burns, aspired to the 
same goal of great and simple expression. 

The story has often been told of the first beginning of 
her song- writing. 

Driving once through the small village of Aberuthven, 
in the neighbourhood of Gask, where a fair was in pro- 
gress, Carolina noticed a small yellow book in the hands 
of several villagers, the kind of publication sold by pedlars 
at that time. She bought a copy and found the little 
book contained a collection of songs and ballads in the 
coarse forms of national songs then popular. A modest 
ambition awoke in her mind to do something to purify 
these songs of her country. Her first attempt was to 
remodel an old song called "The Pleughman." This 
must have been when she was twenty-seven, for the song 
was first sung at the dinner young Laurie gave his 
tenants a year after succeeding to the estate. The laird 



sang it himself and met with so much applause that he 
had various copies made and presented to his friends. 
The song became popular, and Carolina, encouraged by 
the modest success, began to write a great deal. 

No one in those days feared in the least the accusation 
of plagiarism, a nightmare reserved for a later age which 
aims at originality at all costs. Neither Burns or Mrs 
Cockburn or Sir Walter himself felt a twinge of remorse 
in tearing the heart and refrain out of the old traditional 
songs, and fitting them to suit the taste of the day. The 
ancient song of " The Pleughman " was thus thrown into 
new forms at least twice before Carolina tried her hand 
on it. She made no claim to originality, nor sought any 
personal credit. Her first venture was given to the 
world under that strict veil of secrecy which she so much 
wished to hold closely drawn all through her long life. 
But she continued to write, and to this period belong 
many of her best songs, fresh with the inimitable fresh- 
ness of youth. "John Tod," "The Laird of Cockpen," 
" The Fife Laird," all were written at this time, also the 
little group of Jacobite ballads which in their passionate 
wildness constitute the last rally of the family devotion 
to the Stewarts" Wha'll be King but Charlie ? " " The 
Hundred Pipers," " He's owre the Hills," " Will ye no' 
come back again ? " " The White Rose of June." 

Her deepest thoughts were rooted in that past which 
had seen her father at Culloden, had seen him wander- 
ing in the hills, had seen her best and dearest in exile 
for so many weary years. When Carolina was born the 
actual struggle was over, the pageant of war was past ; 
the retribution and the endurance were memories too. 
The sense of deadness that follows on any strong excite- 
ment had settled over the country ; but in her close 
attendance on her father she had absorbed year after 
year the cherished principles that were the light of his 
days, linking the reflective powers of her mind to the 
minds of those whose lives had been actively spent in 
the Cause. The impulse that inspired all the valour and 
sacrifice inspired also the haunting pathos of her song. 


The tendency of thought at the time was to narrow 
sympathy and to limit taste. The awakening was only 
beginning, and Carolina came into no inheritance of 
wide views and habits of simple poetic expression. The 
words by which her name and fame abide were those 
of primitive thought, the purely Celtic note, sounding 
almost in spite of herself, the unstudied utterance of a 
nature rich in flashes of humour, in poignant human 

Best among all the songs she ever wrote is the " Land 
o' the Leal." The circumstances which called forth the 
lyric are well known. Carolina had a great friend in a 
daughter of William Erskine, the Episcopal clergyman 
at Muthil, Mary Anne, who in 1796 married Archibald 
Campbell Colquhoun of Killermont. A baby girl was 
born in 1797 and lived less than a year. Carolina wrote 
the verses l to console the sorrow of the young mother. 

" I'm wearin' awa', John, 
Like snaw-wreaths in thaw, John, 
I'm wearin' awa' 

To the land o' the leal. 

" There's nae sorrow there, John, 
There's neither cauld nor care, John, 
The day is aye fair 

In the land o' the leal. 

" Our bonnie bairn's there, John, 
She was baith glide and fair, John, 
And oh ! we grudged her sair 
To the land o' the leal. 

" But sorrows seP wears past, John, 
And joy's a-comin' fast, John, 
The joy that's aye to last 
In the land o' the leal. 

i Two verses are omitted, as they were interpolated years after, and do not 
maintain the same poetic standard. Four lines run : 

" Sae dear that joy was bought, John, 
Sae free the battle fought, John, 
That sinfu' man ere brought 

To the land o' the leal." 


" Oh ! baud ye leal and true, John, 
Your day's wearin' through, John, 
And 111 welcome you 

To the land o 1 the leal. 

" Now fare ye weel, my ain John, 
This world's cares are vain, John, 
We'll meet and aye be fain 
In the land o' the leal." 

In the achievement of this lyric, Carolina touched the 
highest point her poetic spirit was destined to reach. 
Several of her other poems have won fame, the kind of 
fame she would most have valued, being sung at a 
thousand hearths by those who, in most cases, do not 
know who wrote the words. The strains of " Caller 
Herrin'" will go on sounding when her name has sunk 
further into those shadows of oblivion that overtake all 
but the greatest singers. 

" Whall buy my caller herrin' ? 
They're bonnie fish and halesome farin' ; 
Buy my caller herrin' 

New drawn frae the Forth. 
When ye were sleepin' on your pillows 

Dream 'd ye aught o' our puir fellows, 
Darkling as they faced the billows 
A' to fill our woven willows ? 
Buy my caller herrin' 
New drawn frae the Forth. 
Wha'll buy my caller herrin' ? 
They're no brought here without brave darin' ; 
Buy my caller herrin' 

Ye little ken their worth ! 
Wha'll buy my caller herrin' ? 

Oh, ye may ca' them vulgar farin', 
Wives and mithers maist despairin' 
Ca' them lives o' men. 

Buy my caller herrin' 
New drawn frae the Forth. 


And when the creel o' herrin' passes, 

Ladies, clad in silk and laces, 
Gather in their braw pelisses, 

Cast their heads and screw their faces. 

Buy my caller herrin' 
They're bonnie fish and halesome farm' ; 
Buy my caller herrin' 

New drawn frae the Forth. 
Neebour wives, now tent my tellin', 
When the bonnie fish ye're sellin', 
At ae word be in ye're dealin', 

Truth will stand when a' things failin'. 

Buy my caller herrin', 
They're bonnie fish and halesome farin', 
Buy my caller herrin' 
New drawn frae the Forth." 

It was not an age that favoured the robust in art. 
" Elegance " and " taste " were words much in vogue, 
signifying a fastidiousness and unreality which the great 
stream of poetic renaissance, sweeping in its current 
Fergusson and Burns, was soon to engulf. Now and then 
Carolina's verse was elegant and tasteful, and has long 
been forgotten. She was at her best when she wrote out 
of her own clear intuition in the old Scots tongue, with- 
out the point cFappui of a version of song to be improved 
or toned down. The ballad of the " Auld Hoose " was 
written many years after its actual destruction, but the 
sorrow and regret of the parting belong to this earlier time 
of her life, leaving its mark on thoughts and character. 

" Oh, the auld hoose, the auld hoose, 

What tho' the rooms were wee ! 
Oh, kind hearts were dwelling there, 

And bairnies fu' o" glee ; 
The wild rose and the jessamine 

Still hang upon the wa'. 
How mony cherished memories 

Do they, sweet flowers, reca'. 

" Oh, the auld laird, the auld laird, 

Sae canty, kind and crouse, 
How mony did he welcome to 
His ain wee dear auld hoose ! 


And the leddy too, sae genty, 

There sheltered Scotland's heir, 
And clipt a lock wi' her ain hand 

Frae his lang yellow hair. 

" The mavis still doth sweetly sing, 

The blue-bells sweetly blaw, 
The bonny Earn's clear winding still, 

But the auld hoose is awa'. 
The auld hoose, the auld hoose, 

Deserted tho' ye be 
There ne'er can be a new hoose 

Will seem sae fair to me." 

This song, in its almost bare simplicity, laid hold of 
the national heart, striking a note that will echo as long 
as there are homes to be remembered and surrendered. 
For the " auld hoose " is not the house of Gask ; it is the 
house of dreams, the shrine of memory for all that is 
most dear in the wistful association of youth a song 
having for its soul the passionate regret for the "glory 
that has passed away from earth." The singer has thrown 
a halo of immortality over the last crumbling stones of 
the ancient house of Gask, but she has immortalised a 
hundred times more fully and more poignantly the count- 
less lost homes of all the world. Yet she had no idea 
that she was writing for the world. In youth as in her 
old age, there is in her achievements an utter absence of 
conscious ability. It is upon this quality of spontaneity 
that her claim to fame is based, a claim never put 
forward by herself even in thought. A life devoted to 
literature would have raised that fame no higher. No 
shadow of tormenting doubt or of any storm and stress 
of thought and belief fell upon her steadfast faith and 
unmoved hope. Hers is the voice of an age which 
cherished a gentle piety as the height of womanly 
achievement, although this piety is not reflected in her 
verse. She may have had a gentle ambition to write 
hymns, but the fact remains that she could not write 
them. Her religious verses are very poor indeed. 
Perhaps the temperament of her genius may have been 


a tragedy to her nature, impelling her to write, and 
denying the power of conveying religious expression. 
Her voice was the channel for the lawless loyalty and 
humour and sympathy of those songs that men sing 
to-day, and will go on singing while Scotland wants 
songs at all. Her sympathies as a poet were quite apart 
from the aspirations of her life. As an evangelical lady 
who shunned the things of the world, and lived for 
religion of a special kind, how came she by her passion- 
ate attachment to the romantic and reckless Stewarts, 
or her understanding of the doings of human nature 
at its simplest and most primitive? There was never 
any one to whom the personal appealed less urgently. 
The assurance of an earthly immortality of fame would 
not have caused her one heart-beat. From anything she 
siid or wrote, it is not apparent that her mind ever 
turned to the rewards of her genius. Yet in her second 
self one cannot but think that some haunting desire for 
recognition must have found place, and that it was not 
possible she could have given expression to so much 
primitive thought, without the impulse to link it with 
her name on the records of her country and her time. 
But all is hidden, and the student of her life sees nothing 
but a quiet and dignified gentlewoman, a shining example 
of all the precise virtues then in fashion, regarding 
notoriety with a shudder, and taking endless pains to 
conceal her gift of authorship even from her nearest 
and dearest. 

Several of the poems give evidence of the warring 
dual nature. A notable instance is in the last verse 
of the fine poem, " The Covenanter's Widow." In the 
published version the last verse seems to bear no relation 
to the wild simplicity of the others. 

" For he had ta'en the Covenant 
For Scotland's sake to dee, O, 
Death to him was gain we ken, 
But oh ! the loss to me, O ! " 

Among the unpublished MSS. of Carolina are two 

2 A 


verses infinitely more human, which originally closed 
the poem : 

" It wadna' last, the day is past 
That I had you, my deary, 
O he is gane and I'm my lane 
A waefu' night and weary. 

" The lowly bed where he is laid 
Gin I'd been there before him ! 
But he is gane and I'm my lane, 
The grass is growin' o'er him." 

As life went on Carolina gave less and less rein to 
the spontaneous expression of her genius, and to the time 
of her youth all her best work must be assigned. Other 
interests absorbed her attention, and first amongst these 
was the steadily growing young family of her brother, 
the eighth laird of Gask. Early in January 1797 
Rachel, the first child of the new generation, was born 
at Edinburgh, the only one of the large family who 
lived to old age. Later in the spring, Laurie's regiment 
being ordered to the north of England, the family party, 
including Carolina, moved to Durham, where a large 
circle of acquaintances rapidly formed. The story is 
often told, though it rests only on family tradition, of 
Carolina attending a function at Sunderland, to celebrate 
the opening of a new bridge across the Weare, and 
dancing with one of the royal family, 1 who afterwards 
proposed marriage. 

Later in the year Laurie resigned his commission, 
wishing to devote himself to the interests of his estate. 
For seven consecutive years a baby was born every year 
at Gask. Mrs Oliphant's health gave cause for anxiety. 
Her father, Dr Robertson, lived almost constantly at 
Gask. After Marjory's marriage, only Carolina and 
Margaret, the youngest sister, remained in the old 

1 The bridge across the Weare was opened 9th August 1796 by H.R.H. 
Prince William of Gloucester. He was son to the Duke of Gloucester (whom 
he succeeded in 1805), and grandson of George II. Carolina Oliphaut could 
scarcely have taken his wooing seriously. He was twenty-one, and ten years 
her junior. He married, in 1816, his cousin, Princess Mary, fourth daughter 
of George III, 


home out of all the six children of the seventh laird. 
A fourth generation was represented in Aunt Henrietta 
Nairne, who continued as an inmate of the household 
until her death in 1802. Hers was the last death, and 
the baby Amelia's the last birth, within the shelter of 
the old house. 

Laurence Oliphant still held a commission in the 
Perthshire Yeomanry. The following letters are given 
as showing how firmly the French invasion was believed 
in at the time. The first letter is written to Lord 
Dupplin. 1 

"Feb. 3rd 1804. 

" MY LORD, I have had the honor of receiving your 
Lordship's letter of the 29 ultimo. 

" In answer I beg leave to inform you that the field 
day of the Yeomanry, concerning which your Lordship 
wishes to be informed, was ordered in consequence of a 
communication from General M'donald to his Grace, 
the Duke of Atholl, stating that several of the Yeomanry 
corps in the country had volunteered their services to 
send as many of their number as should be required to 
be stationed at particular places upon the coast and to 
go express in the event of the appearance of an enemy, 
it would be desirable if the Perthshire Yeomanry would 
also make a tender of their services to relieve these other 
corps of part of the duty. The Duke of Atholl in pass- 
ing thro Perth enquired if I was at home and finding I 
was not, his Grace sent an extract of General M'donald's 
letter, nearly on the above terms, to Captain Hay who 
immediately ordered the field day to which you allude, as 
I went home two days before the day appointed I of 
course as senior Capt n - went to Perth and took the 
command. It was a very cold frosty day and as no 
manoeuvres could be gone through on the Inch, I 
invited the corps to a collation (at my own expense) in 
the Grammar School and then made General M'donald's 
proposal known to them, and in which they all most 
cordially concurred. As there was every appearance at 

1 Eldest son of the tenth Earl of Kinnoull. Two months after the date of 
this letter he became, by the death of his father at Dupplin, 12th April 1804, 
the eleventh Earl. 


that time of an immediate invasion from the French and 
the greatest probability of our being called out upon 
actual service and as in that event it appeared to me to 
be impossible that the men could serve without cloaks 
and necessary bags at this inclement season and as there 
was not time to write to your Lordship upon the subject, 
I went to Dunkeld and mentioned the circumstance to 
the Duke, who agreed with me that these necessaries were 
indispensibly requisite and I accordingly intimated to the 
corps next day that, with his Grace's approbation, I was 
immediately to order them and begged of him to inform 
your Lordship, or I should certainly have done so myself. 
" One of my troop under the command of Lieut. 
Graeme have been stationed at different places along 
the coast from Montrose to the Queen's Ferry, 2 at 
Crieff, 2 at Auchterarder, 2 are to be relieved by 25 
from Capt n> Hay's Troop. 

"The cloaks and necessary bags are now all sent to 
Perth to the number of 190 of each : the cloaks were 
furnished by M'Pherson St Andrews Street Edinburgh 
and the necessary saddle bags by Manton, saddler there, 
the former are of a strong broad blue cloth the price 
2, 13s. Od. each and the taylor gives six months' credit 
although the cloth is furnished at the ready money price : 
the bags cost 17s. 6d. including two strong straps for 
buckling them on, the straps formerly used for the coat 
cases will answer for fastening the cloak before the saddle. 
" May I take the liberty of saying that it is my own 
opinion and likewise of those to whom I have spoken on 
the subject, that the commanding officer of a regiment 
for the time being is fully entitled in the absence of his 
superior officer to call out the said regiment exactly in 
the same way and upon the same occasions as if the 
Commandant himself were present, and more particularly 
in the present state of the country, when the commanding 
officer must be either upon the spot or so near as to be 
able to join in a very short time, or the detail of the 
regiment must be left in a great measure to the discretion 
of the next in command. This is a principle so com- 
pletely established that I need not enlarge upon the 
subject, but I will only add if your Lordship will be 
good enough to mention your general views regarding 
the Regiment, I shall act up to them as far as my abilities 
and the existing circumstances can enable me to do, am" 


may I presume to say that if your Lordship will only 
repose that confidence in me which the second in the 
command of a Regiment has reason to expect, it shall not 
be abused, indeed considering the intimate footing I had 
always the honour of being upon, not only with your 
Father but your Grand Uncle, should have led me to wish 
for a continuance of that friendship which has long sub- 
sisted between the two Families, and which a very kind 
letter from your Lordship soon after you received the 
command of the Reg t- still makes me hope you wish 
to be kept up. From the recollection of the contents of 
that letter and your being willing to suppose that many 
misunderstandings may have occurred (perhaps misrepre- 
sentations too) in the discussion of some late arrange- 
ments, I am willing to consign even these to oblivion 
now that I presume the points at issue are properly 
settled and your Lordship wishes to be hereafter upon 
that amicable footing which 1 should wish to subsist 
between us. I have now delivered my sentiments very 
freely and I hope what I have said shall be taken as it 
is meant, namely as expressing my anxiety that every 
degree of reserve which may have hitherto existed should 
be laid aside, and that we should henceforth act together 
with perfect unanimity in fine I think I have done my 
duty in making this proffer of friendship, if it is accepted 
and properly followed up the happiest consequences may 
ensue if not I shall at least have the satisfaction of 
thinking that the fault was not mine." 

Lord Dupplin replies : 

"OXFORD, Feb. 9th 1804. 

"Sin, I this morning had the honour of receiving your 
letter which I take the earliest opportunity of answering. 
Nothing could be more proper or more necessary than to 
order the Regiment to Perth previous to so general an 
expectation of their being called upon immediate actual 
service. I am likewise equally glad that they are all 
provided with Cloaks and Saddle-bags which are un- 
doubtedly necessary, and which I had ordered in London 
(but finding they were bespoke elsewhere I counter- 
ordered them) these measures were all perfectly necessary ; 
but I think myself entitled (if I am to have the responsi- 
bility of the Regiment) to be informed by the Commanding 


Officer on the Spot when such measures take place. So 
far I may say that Cap* Hay was good enough to give 
me a line respecting them, but not having the command, 
he could not inform me positively. I shall feel myself 
much indebted if you will be so good as to beg the 
Adjutant to give me any information of this kind (if any 
should occur) as I shall be sorry to put you to the 
trouble of writing. I feel at a loss how to answer the 
latter part of your letter respecting the want of con- 
fidence on my part in you, as the officer in Command. 
... 1 am so far bold to say that I believe no part of 
my conduct since I had the honour of commanding the 
Yeomanry (though a very difficult and arduous task at 
a very early period of my life) can possibly have given 
the slightest degree of offence, or displeasure to anyone. 
I succeeded to this situation after one who managed the 
whole business with the greatest honour and credit to 
himself, and who will ever be felt an irreparable loss in 
the Regiment as long as it continues embodied. 

" The Duke, in the most handsome way, as the only 
mark he could show in return, and as the highest com- 
pliment he could pay to my Father, 1 placed me (though 
young) at the head of the Corps. My appointment 2 may 
have been a disappointment to many, as I have no doubt 
it was, but think it was no more than due, to my Father 
and family. I must confess I ever have looked up to 
you, and ever shall, for assistance in the management of 
the Regiment, tho' I did not while in Scotland meet with 
that advice which my wishes induced me to expect. 

" But on no account whatever shall any conduct of 
mine tend to lessen that friendship, and good under- 
standing which has long, and I trust ever will, exist 
between the two families, at least it will always be my 
greatest endeavour to preserve it, and not my fault if it 
does not succeed. I trust nothing that is here mentioned 
will give the smallest offence, at least it is not intended 
so to do, as I have before mentioned that the most 
perfect harmony between the two families should exist 
is my most sincere wish, all I desire is that in the con- 

1 Lord Kinnoull had been in command of the Perthshire Yeomanry from 
1798. He resigned on account of failing health. 

a Lord Dupplin, who had joined the corps as a trooper in 1801, was appointed 
to the command in place of his father in August 1803. For details of the 
Perthshire Yeomanry see A Military History of Perthshire, p. 185, by the 
Marchioness of Tullibardine. 


spicuous situation I am placed in at the head of the 
Yeomanry I may be well acquainted with proceedings 
of the Regiment, that I may act my part with justice 
to myself, and credit to the Corps. I have the honour 
to be, Sir, your ever obed* and faithful humble ser* 

"Lt. Col Commandant, P.G.Y.C. 

"Capt. OLIPHANT, P.G.Y.C." 

Meanwhile the large structure of the new house of 
Gask grew month by month, much too large, much too 
expensive. At the same time the grounds were laid out 
in the Italian form, the public road which ran past the 
windows of the old house was closed and turfed, and 
the deep glades in their sheltering trees began to wear 
the aspect they wear at this day. For Carolina and 
Margaret the changes must have been hard to bear, 
and the day dreaded when ruthless hands were to make 
of the cradle of their race a ruin and a desolation. 

Laurence Oliphant spent a great deal of time away 
from home. Mrs Oliphant's letters to her husband were 
tenderly affectionate, though containing little even of 
domestic interest. An extract is here given of one 
letter written in 1805, which shows that the Morays 
were following the building fashion. 

" That Sir Gilbert Stirling, who you saw at Dupplin, 
was since at Abercairny, and had a grand Horse, which 
his servant was out airing, and by some accident or other 
he went in plump into the foundation of Aber's house, 
and was killed. The Knight is son to the late provost 
of Edinburgh." 

The long years of Carolina's engagement to William 
Nairne were passing by, and youth had already passed, 
before there was a real prospect of marriage. It was 
not until 1806, when Carolina was in her fortieth year, 
and her fiance nearly fifty, that he obtained the appoint- 
ment of Assistant Inspector General of Barracks in 
Scotland, with the brevet rank of Major, which enabled 
him to marry. 


In the library of the new house of Gask, the spacious 
sunny room commanding a broad prospect of strath and 
hill, William Nairne and Carolina Oliphant were married 
on 2nd June 1806. No family record gives details of the 
ceremony, of which one relic alone remains the bride's 
exquisitely delicate lace wedding veil. 1 The honeymoon 
was passed at Stirling. 

Alexander Robertson of Strowan took a very special 
interest in his niece Carolina, and bought a little house 
for the newly married couple at Duddingston, near 
Edinburgh. The house still exists, and is now known 
as Nairne Lodge, though at the time it received the 
name, Caroline Cottage. Heavy sorrows were, in course 
of time, to cloud the spirit of Carolina, but the early 
years of her marriage in this little cottage stand out as 
the happiest of her life. She was full of interest in 
everything, devoted to music, to painting, to a host of 
friends, and, above all, absorbed in her love for her 
husband and child. 

Of the interval between the marriage in June 1806 
and the birth of her only child, William Murray, on 
6th July 1808, one record has come to light, which is 
here given as illustrating the earnest and sober ambi- 
tions of her religious life. A small note-book, full of 
suggestions and materials, mentions that a clergyman 
named Burnet, " who had been deeply infected by infidel 
principles, when recovered was most anxious that others 
should be convinced of the truth," and in order to 
encourage religious study organised a competition, which 
was advertised in the Christian Observer in 1807. Com- 
petitors were to write a treatise " On the Evidence of 
a Supreme Being," which was to be submitted in the 
year 1814 to Alexander Galen, merchant, Aberdeen. 
The reward offered was 200. Mrs Nairne formed the 
project of entering for this competition, and the little 
note-book gives a rough outline of her plan for the 
work. It was to be in the form of conversations between 

1 Now in the possession of the writer. 


Theophilus and his family (" none of them clergymen, or 
they may be thought prejudiced ") ; Eusebia, his wife ; 
Harroway, a neighbour of a very melancholy cast, 
unhappy in his family and without the comforts of 
religion ; Madame Bucca, and a poor labourer. 
Mrs Nairne writes : 

" May there be many far better Treatises than mine 
can possibly be, for it would be a bad account of the zeal 
and ability of the Public were it otherwise ; yet mine 
may happen to fall into hands that it may satisfy on the 
great subject." 

There is nothing to show that the treatise ever went 
further than the notes in the little book, of which two 
extracts are given : 

" I observe in conversation that with many people the 
evils suffered by what is called innocent good people is in 
their minds a great difficulty with respect to the pro- 
vidence and goodness of God. Either they cannot or 
will not allow their reflections to go deep enough to dis- 
cover that our Souls are the great objects of God's care, 
not our feelings while we are in the body." 

"Did ever the dreams of the imagination invigorate 
the soul and fit it for any sort of proper exertion ? It is 
well known that Love, or intoxication, or enthusiasm 
about Liberty or any poetic genius, or unfounded 
enthusiasm in what they take for religion, uniformly 
unfits the mind for wholesome cool exertion in the path 
of moral duty. As to poetry vide Burns." 

The year 1808 brought changes to the family. In 
April Amelia Steuart of Dalguise died at Dunkeld of 
an attack of measles, caught from her children, and in 
this year Laurence Oliphant and his family removed from 
Gask and went to Durham, the educational advantages 
of that city being then highly praised. Rachel, the eldest 
child, was then ten years old, and Caroline, the eighth of 
the family, arrived in January, the last Oliphant child ever 
born at Gask. The family migration was accomplished 


at the end of December, and the House of Cask stood 
empty for many a long year. 1 

The family went fr-st to the village of Old Elvet, near 
Durham, and the letters from there are addressed chiefly 
to the grandfather, Dr Robertson of Ardblair. The 
house the Oliphants rented was exactly twice too large 
for the party, but a garden and field were valued by the 
children. The mother's letters are one long chronicle of 
family illnesses, and the distress of her continued anxieties 
was heightened by the fact that the husband and father 
was irritated and " hurt " at any illness, and resented the 
necessary medicines and attendants. He said the gout 
attacked his nerves. Under the circumstances, it was as 
well for the children that he spent much of his time in 
travelling about. 1 Mrs Oliphant anxiously did her best 
for all. Rachel was sent to Miss Chaytor's school, and 
Laurence, the eldest son, then nine years old, went to a 
day school, of which one detail finds record. Laurence's 
schoolfellow, Phillpotts, was flogged for going out one 
morning and breaking all the windows in the Abbey. 
" The Vergers came out and were amazed at his 

In 1809 the Oliphants left Old Elvet and rented a 
house in Durham. It stood in a street a little above the 
" Wheat-sheaf Inn." Mrs Oliphant writes a full descrip- 
tion of every room to her father. The rent of 30 seems 
moderate for a house that was fitted to accommodate so 
large a family. Christian's letters to her father, who was 
most tenderly devoted to his only child, sound a note of 
pathos now and again. Sometimes she was in straits for 
money and appealed to him, always hoping to " manage 
better." Once he wrote recommending her not to give 
in to "unreasonable whims." Apparently Laurence 
Oliphant wished to move his family again to a distant 
part of the country, but here Christian took her father's 

1 It was let in 1814 to Mr Walter Hore. 

2 In this year he appears for the first time in official lists as Laurence Blair 
Oliphant. The death of his wife's aunt, Mrs Fullarton, gave her possession 
of Ardblair. 


advice and held her own, remaining with the children at 
Durham till they went abroad for health in 1816. 

The anxious wife and mother seldom had anything 
amusing to relate in her long and frequent letters, so that 
the following must be given a place. It is addressed to 
her sister-in-law, Mrs Stewart of Bonskeid, and dated 17th 
May 1815 :- 

" My Father was much shocked to see by the papers 
that Mr Coutts 1 had married an actress, little did we 
know then that it happened the day his wife died ! or 
that he had kept Miss Melon for years ! ! ! I shall copy 
an address recited at a masquerade by a person dressed 
one half in weeds and the other in bridle favours. 

" ' A tender Bridegroom and a widower true 
I come equipped to whimper and to woo, 

Conflicting at eternal strife 
'Twixt a new married and new buried wife. . . . 

'Tis hard to hit all fancies to a tittle 
Some day I court too much, or cry too little, 
And yet in me nor grief nor joy exceeds 

Half clad in nuptial, half in funeral weeds. . . . 
My best leg foremost speeds the nuptial race 
Its gouty brother keeps a funeral pace, 

Take then which side ye will, if neither suit 

I've pleased myself however, Cotite qui Coitte.' 

" It is mortifying when a person of respectability lays 
themselves open to such attacks, and it would be well 
if such general disgust follow in such a dereliction of 
duty as might deter timid sinners from such heights of 
wickedness, but alas ! instead of disgust they receive 
countenance, and in the immediate following paragraphs 
it is mentioned that the Dukes of York and Clarence 
and a large party of fashionables honoured Mr and Mrs 
Coutts with their company, and she is according to 

1 The first wife of Thomas Coutts was Susan Starkie, a servant in his brother's 
household. There were three daughters of this marriage : Susan, who married 
in 1796 the third Earl of Guildford ; Frances, married, 1800, to the first Marquis of 
Bute ; Sophia, married, 1793, to Sir Francis Burdett. 

The second wife was the actress, Harriet Mellon, who inherited all his property, 
and after his death in 1822 married the Duke of St Albans in 1827. 

The first Mrs Coutts was buried 14th January 1815 at Wroxton Abbey, near 
Banbury. Four days after her funeral, on 18th January, Thomas Coutts went 
through a form of marriage with Harriet Mellon. On account of some informality 
they were remarried 12th April 1815. Thomas Coutts was seriously ill at the 
time of the first wife's death, and, believing himself to be dying, wished to settle 
money on Miss Mellon, as her husband. 


modern morals an amiable woman, very benevolent, 
supplying the poor in her neighbourhood with food and 
clothes. What a strange perversion and mixture of good 
and bad ! " 

Dr Robertson 1 died at Ardblair on 15th October 1815, 
a crushing loss to his daughter, who leaned on him for 
help of every kind. Perhaps the blank in her life had 
its part in enabling her to decide to take the whole party 
abroad in the following year. In this scheme she did 
not receive the unanimous support of her friends. Her 
cousin, W. Balfour, writes from Edinburgh to sympathise 
with her and deprecates the taking of the young people 
to France, as she fears "the fascinating manners of the 
French may steal their affections, and be thought worthy 
of imitation." She closes the letter by an expression of 
relief that Mrs Oliphant " is not a week woman." 

Carolina Nairne, whose mind was attached unalter- 
ably to the ancient associations of Gask, must deeply 
have regretted that her brother the laird saw fit to bring 
up his children so far from their home, and in complete 
separation from the host of Perthshire family friends and 
relatives, whose goodwill had been continued through 
so many generations. Happy in her own home and 
surroundings, she would yet feel loss in separation from 
the children she was so ready to love, but whom in 
their exile she never saw. During her married life she 
travelled remarkably little. The family means were 
small, and she was happiest at home. It is impossible 
not to regret the taste for retirement in a beautiful and 
gifted woman, at a time when the society of Edinburgh 
offered much that was interesting, and much that would 
have been inspiring to her faculties. The atmosphere of 
that peculiarly blighting form of religion then in vogue, 
with its teaching that practically everything pleasant 
was wrong, and its keen eye for " snares " in every form 
of relaxation, clouded expansion and darkened thought. 
One circumstance, almost inconceivable to modern spirits, 

1 He was of a great age, and had partaken of five poached eggs at a sitting. 
He survived this meal only a few hours. 


illustrates the power of narrow ideas over a mind that 
was great in many essentials. 

Sir Walter Scott was then the great outstanding figure 
in Edinburgh society. The Nairnes knew him slightly. 
Years afterwards Carolina said to a niece : " Poor Sir 
Walter ! we did not put ourselves in his way, or we 
might have seen much of him. One so attractive as he 
was, and who had yet been bold enough to single out 
God's servants for derision, as he did the Covenanters, 
placing them in a light so false, would have been a 
dangerous friend." It is hard to recognise here the voice 
that had sung " He's owre the Hills " and " The Hundred 
Pipers." Sir Walter would, of course, have no idea that 
the handsome, dignified woman he met now and again 
had a soul of song, and a gift of simple expression after 
his own heart. Certainly had they really been acquainted 
there would have been no mutual pity ; the great star 
would have loved and encouraged the shining of the lesser 
light. The world lost something in that missed friend- 
ship, and certainly Carolina's work lost a great deal in 
keeping itself so resolutely in the dark. Endless are 
the stories of inventions used to preserve her name in- 
violate. " 1 have not even told Nairne, lest he blab." 
She assumed the unlovely designation, "Mrs Bogan of 

Under this nom-de-plume she was associated, in 1821, 
with the Misses Hume in producing in parts a volume of 
Scottish songs, the " Scottish Minstrel." The publisher 
was Mr Robert Purdie. Anxiety lest her name should 
be whispered in connection with the songs robbed the 
venture of all pleasure to herself. Later she proposed to 
undertake a purified edition of Burns ; but, luckily, this 
dire scheme was never carried out. 

The year 1811 saw the marriage of the last remaining 
daughter of the Jacobite laird. Like her sister Carolina, 
Margaret Oliphant waited till middle life before changing 
her name. The bridegroom was Mr Keith of Ravelston, 
owner of a picturesque estate two miles to the west of 
Edinburgh. Margaret must have become acquainted 


with the Keiths while staying with the Nairnes. The 
following description of parties at Ravelston is written 
by Miss Emily Taylor: 

"Mr Keith of Ravelston dwelt there with his sister. 
. . . He was a tall stalwart gentleman of the old school, 
and had many good qualities, one of which was to invite 
all his friends, young and old, to come to Ravelston every 
Saturday, if they liked during the summer. We were all 
young then, and as no railways impeded our progress we 
ran up hill and down dale very swiftly, and sat on the 
hillside admiring the beautiful view until the bell rang 
for dinner. On descending we found many acquaint- 
ances and the Hotchpotch or Cock-a-Lecky and Brose 
and butter was abundantly supplied, with leave to go 
into the garden filled with rasps and gooseberries, which 
was a great treat to all. At the time Mr Keith (previous 
to his marriage) was above sixty, but his sister always 
called him the ' laddie Sandy,' to the great amuse- 
ment of the young people. He was very fond of music, 
but like Baron Hume 1 and other gentlemen of that 
time he could not endure singing with the piano. ..." 

After the Keith marriage Carolina and Margaret 
naturally met a great deal, the Keiths lending their 
house in Queen Street to the Nairnes, that they might 
be nearer each other. In 1814 Margaret Oliphant, the 
laird of Cask's second daughter, a child of fifteen, was 
sent from Durham to pay a visit at Ravelston. Her 
host, Mr Keith, writes to her mother: 

" I have the happyness to inform you that your 
daughter Margaret is recovered of the small -pox and 
will soon be permitted to walk abroad. If I mistake 
not, she will be both accomplished and handsome, and 
she is advancing in the game of Chess, which is a good 
amusement for fixing the attention of young people." 

He calls her "your pleasant daughter." She seems to 

1 Miss Hume writes to a friend : " My Father's admiration of ' The Land o' 
the Leal ' was such that he said no woman but Miss Ferrier was capable of 
writing it. And when I used to shew him song after song in MS. when I was 
receiving the anonymous verses for the music,and ask his criticism he said : ' Your 
unknown poetess has only one or rather two letters out of taste, viz., choosing 
JJ. B. for her signature.' " 


have been the only one of the Oliphant children who knew 
anything of Scotland, and the two aunts, Carolina and 
Margaret, at this time. The following letter was written 
by Mrs Nairne to her friend, Miss Helen Walker, con- 
cerning her songs and their publication : 1 

" MY DEAR Miss HELEN, I return the tunes, the 
set I gave you I found was nothing. I have a better 
copy but is like this ; it is needless to send it, merely 
changing the accent will make it do quite well, it is a 
very fine air as I have heard it, slow. Lord Nairne is 
very poorly, that and my accounts from the south are not 
cheering. The Land of the Leal is a happy rest for 
the sinner in this dark pilgrimage. O yes, I was young 
then. I wrote it merely because I liked the air so 
much, put these words to it, never fearing questions as 
to authorship however, a lady would know and took 
it down and I had not Sir W(alter)'s art of denying. I 
was present when asserted that Burns composed it on 
his deathbed and that he had it Jean instead of John, 
but the parties could not decide why it never appeared in 
his works as his last lay should have done. I never made 
but one or 2 others, I think, except at your bidding." 

The following are more undated letters from Mrs 
Nairne : 

" I have enquired of many people but no one can 
tell me of any view of Bessy Bell and Mary Gray's tomb. 
One lady said she remembered the spot as being very 
picturesque a good many years ago but that since, many 
trees had been cut, and that now there is a stiff formal 
paling of some kind, not good for a drawing, and this 
I believe was poor Lord Lyndoch's doing, I know nothing 
of the reality of their histoiy. The ballad is I suppose 
comparatively modern." 

" I have received the two Lammys and will return 
one to you, mean with this to send what I hope will 
do for the verse of Mordelia that was wanting and also 
Neil Gow for you to review and consider what is best 
to be done with it. If to be of any use to Nathaniel 
perhaps it should be dedicated to the Duchess of Atholl. 

" I often send to Edinburgh when not conveniently 

1 Dr Rogers appears to have misread part of this letter iu his Memoirs 
of Baroness Nairue. 


so far as your abode, perhaps you can name a shop 
where anything might be left for you. How is it that 
our old friend Purdie does not appear on this sheet at 
all as far as I see, I thought he was the one we 
were dealing with. I fear Jenny Deans story is too 
diffuse to be compressed into the bounds of a song, some 
good things in it however, and I rather think a true 
picture of the times. . . . How many songs should this 
series consist of? Merely guessing, name any to be 
extracted from the " Minstrel," you once mentioned two 
on the same sheet. Do not know what to say about 
the duelling, 1 fear it is too overwhelming a subject for 
a Mother to sing about, or perhaps to write about. When 
more at leisure I may find something to say as you wish 
to be read to P. I do not know what young Tait died 
of, but how evidently he was prepared for the event, 
and by (to himself) very trying means. He seems to 
have been so amiable, fond of friends and home. Would 
not singing do as well as writing that for Purdie you 
know exactly and have expressed here my motives for 
this queer taste of song making. ... I do not mention 
in particular to Mrs Keith anything about these things, 
to save her the trouble of keeping her countenance which 
has sometimes puzzled myself." 

The "Neil Gow" verses, to which this last letter 
refers, never saw the light. It was a set of six verses, 
of which the following are a sample : 

" Since first I saw fair Inver's braes 

It's langer nor langsyne, 
But days o' youth are blythsome days 

And oft they'll come to mind. 
A cot house and a wee bit land 

Tween stately Tay and rumblin' Bran, 
As I hae lived a favoured man 

Aneath a chieftain kind. 

" And I've been spared a canny time, 

My days been fair and long, 
When thousands pu'd in a' their prime 
Lie cauld the clods among. 

1 Mrs Nairne did, however, compose a song on the young officer who was 
killed at this time in a duel at Piershill Barracks, near Duddmgston : " Fell 
he on the field of Fame?" 


O Robbie Burns, whar are ye noo ? 

Your breast o' Highland fire was fu', 
Gin I could ballads make like you 

I'd dee afore my song." 

Neil goes on to lament the new fashion of Walshes 
and Kidrills, and the modern tendency to approve the 
inferior quality of music from the south, and southern 
singers : 

" But waes me, I'm no blamin' them, 

To brag I wad be laith, 
They ken but what they hae at hame, 

It's nature with us baith. 
Gin they had torrents tumblin' doon 
Huge rocks and wilds wi' heather broon, 
And mountains risin' to the moon, 

Their songs might be like ours." 

Some readers may recognise a touch of her muse at its 
best and most spontaneous in the following few unfinished 
lines : 

" Bonny lass of Inchgarrow 
Tell me your cause of sorrow, 
Hide not aught and ere the morrow 
Maybe I'll relieve ye. 

" When Yarrow burn wins up the hill, 
When husks the hungry pleughmen fill, 
When morning dew-drops turn the mill, 
Kind neighbour, I'll believe ye. 

" O willow, willow, wan and weeping 
O'er thy boughs the blast is sweeping, 
Or lang on Death's dark pillow sleeping 
I'll be low aneath ye." 

One other unfinished fragment, striking the same note 
of sorrow, bears also the stamp of her genius at its 
brightest : 

" Come awa n to the hills, to the hills, to the hills, 

Oh come to the hills wi' me, 
Come awa' to the hills, to the hills, to the hills, 
The wild deer and heath cock to see. 

2 B 


Oh gladly, oh gladly, wi' light bounding steps 

Oh gladly I gaed up the hill, 
An 1 far o'er the heather, tho' rough were the weather, 

Wad mount wi' a hearty goodwill. 

" Come awa' to the hills, to the hills, to the hills, 

Oh I'd come to the hills with thee, 
Come awa' to the hills, to the hills, to the hills, 

But tell me wha' shall I gang wi' ? 
Now sadly, oh sadly, where aince gaed I gladly, 

Now lanely and waefu' 'twill be, 
For far are they fled and lanely the bed 

Of ane that aince wandered wi' me." 

In the year 1816 the laird of Gask and his family 
went abroad in separate directions. They all met in 
London on 12th October 1816, and went to St John's 
Chapel together, wondering how long a time would pass 
before they were united again. "When that event shall 
take place, God only knows." The laird, in fact, never 
rejoined his family after that day. The last three years 
of his life were spent in travelling, and in rooms in Paris. 
Margaret's diary gives an account of the wanderings of 
Mrs Oliphant and the rest of the family. 

They went to Hyeres and Aix, and the next year to 
Geneva, and then to the Italian Lakes. They were at 
Carqueranne, near Hyeres, in 1818. Young Laurence 
went home to Scotland and must have seen his father 
in Paris on his way. The laird controlled the doings 
of his family from a distance. 

"Mama had always planned passing the winter at 
Rome, everything was ready. We had been studying 
Italian all summer to be able to talk a little ; we had 
bought new dresses, we had formed fresh projects, and 
we waited but for Brother to carry our plans into execu- 
tion, when Papa wrote to say that he did not wish us 
to change our abode, or not to go further than Marseilles; 
this was a death-blow to all our hopes and projects for 
the winter. Sister (Rachel) wrote two or three letters 
to beg Papa to let us go, and in breathless expectation 
we awaited his answers." 


The father ultimately wrote giving his permission for 
the change, but in the meantime Mrs Oliphant had taken 
on the house at Hyeres and the daughters decided to 
devote the money saved to provide Dr Armstrong with 
a carriage, "as he was fatiguing himself to death without 
one." The Armstrong family, whose acquaintance had 
been formed at Durham, for many years absorbed most 
of the spare money possessed by the Oliphants. 

The following letters are the last written to his family 
by the Laird of Cask. He died within a few days of 
writing that dated 20th June. 

" From Laurence Oliphant, Paris, to Monsieur 
Oliphant de Gask, Junior, a Sienna. 

" June 12th 1819. 

"My DEAREST LAURENCE, I have been anxiously 
looking for your promised letter from Hieres with the 
sketches but it has been hitherto in vain, but Christian 
will soon write as she has been so very long of favour- 
ing me with a letter I truly hope her pupil, dear little 
Caroline, is now able to show the same proficiency as 
formerly as her scholar. Tell your Mama that its the 
Princess de Stolberg called Countess of Albany who is 
at Florence, widow to Prince Charles, as the Duchess of 
Albany has been long dead. I wrote to Uncle C. about 
procuring an introduction. I daresay he will readily see 
the mistake and procure one if he can for the Princess 
de Stolberg, but the charge cCajfair I have no doubt will 
present you, and when she knows who you are and how 
much my poor Father was attached to her husband, I 
have no doubt but she will pay you every attention. 
I am heartily glad that dear James seems to have re- 
linquished his penchant for the army. I do not know 
anything almost could make my life more miserable than 
his following that profession. I am glad your Mama 
unites with me in opinion that he ought to go soon to 
England, that is next year, I wish to submit to her to 
you and Christian whether as a change is to take place 
he might not with advantage join you in Italy toward 
the end of the season. I hope you will apply a little to 
music when you are to be in the country of it and I 
should arrange with James to learn some instrument as 


well as to draw, but perhaps he has been going on with 
both in his present situation. I wrote him a long letter 
in answer to his but I have had no reply, I fancy he has 
some difficulty in writing English now, and perhaps some 
in reading my letters. I admire his answer very much 
of his being determined to fit himself for any profession 
he may afterwards adopt. 

" I hope you may meet again with the Due de 
Richlieu who seems so very amiable. Having unluckily 
not met with Lord St Vincent here I wrote him a letter 
of thanks for all his kindness towards my Family. I can 
hardly expect an answer from a man at his time of life. 

" I go to Sir Charles Stuart's parties. Lord Mansfield 
has never asked me to his house nor introduced me to 
Lady Mansfield, altho' very polite when we meet. 

" I think you ought to read an account of the great 
Masters of Italian School on Painting as it would be of 
great use when you come to see their works. 

" I sincerely hope this may arrive safe but I may 
possibly write again soon in case it does not. God bless 
and preserve you all. Your ever affectionate Father, 


S, June 20 1819. 

"Mv DEAREST LAURENCE, How happy your letter 
from Sienna has made me. I was only counting on 
having accounts of you in a weeks time, and I am quite 
delighted that a letter may arrive from you in a fortnight, 
which no doubt must depend much upon the direction of 
the wind. ... I had no idea Genoa was so great a place 
or that there was so much worth seeing in it. I shall 
anxiously look for another letter describing your present 
residence, your studies, amusements, walks, rides, drives 
etc. I was not sure by your going by Genoa but you 
might have travelled on land thro Florence and desired 
Uncle Colyear to direct for you the first instant at that 

" I was at Sir Charles Stuart's the other night when 
the Lady was pleased to say Sir Charles will be very 
happy to see you back again and Sir Charles then 
unburdened informally to her what he had never done 
before. I called once and saw her ; she seems a good 
natured pleasing woman. I have a great notion that Lord 
St Vincent or one of the ladies have mentioned my 


Family to Sir Cha. and Lady Elizabeth or I cannot other- 
wise account for the great difference of his conduct altho' 
indeed he has been long giving me hints when he met me 
of a wish I should visit him again. It is pleasant to be 
upon a friendly footing with him he is so very scrupulous 
in the choice of his company. 

" I daresay dear Caroline is in perfect health again, 
and I have no doubt but she will be amongst the first to 
speak the Italian language intelligibly, she is exactly at 
the time of life to acquire a language easily, laying aside 
her quickness. 

" I am writing with all my windows open. I hope you 
have a thermometer and mark the degrees, 71 here 
yesterday the foliage and verdure with you must be 
beautiful. God bless you, Your ever affectionate Father, 


On 16th July 1819 Mrs Oliphant received the follow- 
ing letter from her husband's servant, Lucas, in Paris : 

" I am very much concerned to see the state my 
master is in ; he is extremely ill and I am afraid in great 
danger. . . . There was no appearance of danger until 
Sunday morning. . . . Now with the greatest regret am 
obliged to say he is no more since five o'clock yesterday 
evening. G. LUCAS. 

" The funeral l is to be to - morrow and to be 
administered by the Rev. Doctor Foster." 

The death of the eighth laird of Gask, alone and far 
from home, formed a melancholy ending to a life that 
had not known the best joys. Margaret has left an 
account of the reception of the news at Florence. The 
girls were sitting with their tutor when little Caroline 
came in to tell Rachel that her mother wanted her at 
once. The others thought some plan was afoot for a 
day's holiday. Amelia came into the room with another 
message to dismiss the tutor. Margaret writes that, 
hearing the word "Mama," 

" I heard no more but my imagination finished the 
speech. I fancied that Mama had dropped down dead. 

1 Laurence Oliphant was buried in Pere la Chaise. Lucas wrote again in 
August asking for his wages, and describing the tombstone, a white marble slab, 
four iron bars at the corners and gilt lettering, 


I sprung from my chair and flew into the drawing-room 
almost frantic. The window shutters were closed so as 
to render it almost entirely dark. Mama was laid on a 
sofa 1 went near her, she raised her head, who can 
express my joy ? I thought I then had nothing I could 
not bear with resignation, but alas ! I had not heard that 
I had lost my dearest Father! . . . Yes, even I, who 
since I can remember anything remember that Papa never 
liked me as he did his other children. It is not wonderful 
that it was without pain that I saw him depart. How 
happy did I esteem all those who could be intimate with 
their Father, who could make him their companion and 
their friend, and how did I deplore my condition, who 
never spoke to him without trembling, yet when the 
blow came and I heard I should never see him again, my 
heart felt as if it burst, certainly before I never knew 
what it was to love my dear Parent as I ought. ..." 

Nothing else is known of the laird's last days except 
allusions in a letter written by his uncle, Alexander 
Robertson of Strowan, to his niece, Mrs Nairne, from 
Rannoch Barrack : 

" I have received Major Nairne's letter containing 
most melancholy accounts from Paris, which God grant 
that you and all my other dear friends may be enabled 
to support with proper fortitude and resignation. By 
several letters which I had received from my late dear 
Nephew, especially one, soon after having an interview 
with his son, he seemed to have perfectly correct ideas 
with regard to the most material parts of religion and 
owned that he had derived great comfort from conversing 
with his son upon religious subjects. My late dear 
Nephew did not give me his address in his last letter, 
referring to that which I had received before, which was 
a la Poste-Restante. As far as I recollect the tenor of 
my letter was to express the satisfaction I derived from 
the comfort he experienced by rinding that his son seemed 
to be everything he could wish, and that he had derived 
great advantage from his Son's conversation on religious 

The bereavement was the second in the Oliphant 
family in 1819. On 19th June Marjory, Mrs Stewart, 


after long ill-health, died at Perth. Her sister, Carolina 
Nairne, has left a journal describing family events at this 
time : 

" Thurs. June 15th 1819. Major Nairne come home, 
does not bring us cheering accounts of dear sister 
Marjory Stewart. Margaret and I propose to go to her 
on Thursday. Dr Stewart to go for his daughter 1 and 
hopes to bring her home on Saturday ; expect to hear 
by him to-morrow on his way south. This a fit time to 
feel and say * Thy will be done.' What unspeakable 
mercy to feel as sure of our dear Sister's being sooner 
or later on the way to glory, as that our blessed Lord 
died for us, and that she puts her whole trust in him." 

"Perth, June 18th. Came here with Mrs Keith 
yesterday and found our dear dear sister very low indeed 
as to strength but perfectly composed and almost without 
suffering . . . was truly happy to see us and as kind and 
careful of our comfort as ever, which is saying very much. 
Dr Wood and Dr Stewart's Nephew attending several 
times a day, both very anxious for Margaret and her 
Papa's arrival. . . . Doctors can do nothing 'and they 
must leave her altogether to Providence.' This Mr 
Stewart truly interested and says he has attended many 
in extreme illness but never one he thought so truly 
Christian, or so triumphant, he called it, as his Aunt-in- 
law. Mrs Keith and I low enough, but can truly say 
tho' distressed not forsaken. O Lord, support us to the 
end. Dear Margaret not aware how ill her most valuable 
and affectionate Mother is. 

" Had some prayers from Mr Skeet after breakfast 
a kind of mixture ; in the evening, Mr William Thomson 
gave us a most comfortable prayer. How decided the 
difference is, it puts me in mind of natives and foreigners 
speaking the same language, or rather infants and men, 
happy if the liking is indeed the right language in 
the bud." 

" 19th. No visible change, unless perhaps one degree 
for the worse. Dear Margaret 2 expected now within 
an hour with her Papa, observe her Mama never troubles 

1 Margaret, Mrs Stewart's only child, afterwards Mrs Stewart Sandeman. 

2 In a letter dated 7th July Mrs Nairne describes Margaret Stewart as ' ' a 
fine girl, not in the least self-sufficient though really a good deal of talent, 
like her beloved humble-minded mother." 


herself to mention her and only smiles after anyone talks 
of her or her Father. . . . 

"A little after five the travellers arrived. Margaret 
found her Mama sitting up in bed taking a little wine 
and water, she was struck with her sickly appearance 
but was not without hopes. After a few minutes 
Margaret was desired by her Mama to read to her first 
a psalm and afterwards preferred a Chap, in St Luke. 
. . . Margaret said a good many hymns and verses of 
her own composing on the prospect of her return home 
and shewed her a work bag and purse of her making. . . . 

" I felt her very soon bending forward instead of 
sitting upright and gently laid her down on the bed 
her hands felt cold, and within a very few minutes she 
drew her last breath. ..." 

" 22nd. To-day have had a letter from Nairne and 
hope to see him to-morrow to attend my Mother-sisters 
funeral on Thursday. 

" My little darling well when his Papa wrote thank 

" June 23rd. This morning I awoke long before 
the hour (it was six) that my dear William was born 
eleven years ago. What continued mercies have been 
showered on him, his Papa, and me from that hour to 
this. . . . As far as natural disposition is concerned 
how truly thankful ought we to be that darling William 
has been gifted with as affectionate a heart as I ever 
met with, and (apparently to me) with such a capacity 
as may fit him for usefulness in any line of life. His 
moral feelings are generally right, he really loves truth 
and almost piques himself on the strict observance of 
it, this, with scrupulous exactness as to mine and thine 
is very satisfactory. 

" Between 2 and 3 Major Nairne arrived by the 
coach from Edinburgh, thankful to see him well as he 
left William, and tells me last time he passed thro Perth 
my dear sister seemed to take leave of him, tho then 
he was unwilling to tell me so, and said ' God bless 
you now and for ever.' 

" I have slept with Margaret since I have been here. 
... I could not help dwelling a little, however foolishly, 
on what she told me with indifference, viz., that six years 
ago while lying in bed she had said to herself * I think 


I shall die when I am 17,' 1 and then without stopping 
to count what year that would be, she said ' I think I 
shall die in the year 20.' When she did count and 
found that in 20, she would be 17, it made her unhappy 
and for a considerable time depressed her spirits. . . . 
Living and dying, O my God, bless her for Christ's sake. 
. . . She is at present very stout, thank God." 

Mrs Nairne returned to Edinburgh after her sister's 
funeral. Her home was then at Holyrood, where apart- 
ments had been granted to her husband. 

"Holyrood, July 1st. Nairne called on Mr W. 
Drummond at Piershill, son of Mr Andrew, is quartered 
there being in the 10th Hussars. During a review of 
this regiment on the Portobello sands, four of the men 
thrown from their horses, all hurt, but only one severely, 
he is since dead, and buried with all the honours that 
could be conferred. Singular that this man was not 
only at Waterloo, but in all the engagements preceding 
where his regiment was, and not once touched, yet killed 
at Jast on our peaceful shores by what is termed a mere 
accident ; these things remind me of Cowper's lines : 

" ' The lightening may be bid to spare 
The man that's strangled by a hair.' " 

"July 16th. Yesterday in the morning received 
accounts that my beloved Brother died at Paris the 
5th inst. Stroke after stroke it pleases our blessed Lord 
to lay upon us. ... Dr Robertson of Paris first con- 
sulted the 29th of June and seems to have thought the 
case hopeless from the first, do not quite understand 
what it was. ... A letter from his own hand so lately 
before and no mention of health makes this very heavy. 
My letter to him announcing our dear Mother-sister's 
death he had probably not received. How very striking 
this nearness of time, no pang to either for the loss of 
the other. Mrs Keith and I now only left of 7 brothers 
and sisters. . . . 

" Since I left her Mrs Keith has been ailing . . . was 
better after a drive, though it was to desolate Gask, 
received her letter describing it just after the unexpected 

1 These misgivings were unnecessary. Margaret Stewart Sandeman lived to 
be eighty. 


account of its dear Master's death. Nothing pleasing to 
me now but to trace the weaning and blessed hand of 
Providence in all the events that I have witnessed in 
our once happy family, so happy in that sweet spot 
where we were brought up that I fear we looked too 
little beyond it, and now 

" * Remembrance wakes with all her busy train, 
Swells in my breast and turns the past to pain.' 

This is indeed the case with regard to the earliest scenes 
of life, which of late rise fresh before my eyes, more fresh 
indeed (as is often the case) than those of maturer years, 
with the exception always of whatever relates to the 
nearest of all ties husband and child." 

"July 27th. Yesterday we had a small picture of 
Major Nairne's Mother 1 sent home from John Watson's, 
who did it from a miniature and hints. Reminds us of her 
very much. Little darling William thought a little like 
her. Cannot gather resolution to write to Mrs Oliphant, 
or any of them, have never felt quite awake from the 
moment I knew of my lamented Brother's death, and 
often feel as if my call might not be distant." 

Carolina did write, however, a few days after this 
entry, to the family of her brother at Florence. The 
ordinary pain of bereavement was, to those of her religious 
views, in all cases heightened and complicated by the 
anxieties and fears for the future state of the departed, 
and all friends who had been with them before death, 
or received letters, were canvassed for "comfortable" 
news of their spiritual state. 

" To Mademoiselle Oliphant de Gask. 

"Friday, 6th August 1819. 

" MY DEAREST RACHEL, I have but just now 
received your letter of the 10th. Had it been the means 
of letting me know that I had no longer a Brother, tho' 
great would have been the affliction, yet the balm is with 
it our first intelligence, as I daresay you by this time 
know, was thro' Dr Robertson who wrote to Coutts 

1 N& Brabazon Wheeler. She died in 1801. 


and he to John Archibald Campbell it was at first an 
unmixed shock. Some weeks after I heard from Strowan 
who assured me he thought my beloved Brother was 
quite earnest on the grand points of Christianity and that 
he had owned himself benefited by some conversations he 
had with his dear Laurence when they last met ; even this 
was to me most soothing but what you add I would 
not give up for any worldly bribe I ask but to feel 
that he knew himself a lost sinner, (as we one and all 
are) and that as such he had thrown himself altogether 
on an all-sufficient Saviour and I am satisfied we have 
indeed in our days many who talk thus and yet do not 
give up their hearts but continue worldly minded and 
cold in his service these I think more in danger than 
any, as more surely deceiving themselves than those who 
scarcely own his name ; but I will cling to what you tell 
me and be thankful. I wrote to your dear Mama of 
what at the time was a trying scene in Perth it was 
not possible to lose such a friend and not feel it, but 
such a heavenly conclusion to a heavenly life ought surely 
to be reckoned amongst our blessings and privileges to 
witness. I feel for you all about your lamented Papa 
being alone ; but I almost blame you for indulging so 
much in regrets, as you actually did all that you could 
have done with any good effect. It was in our view a 
kind Providence that he never read my letter; it was 
too late to have done more than afflict him had he 
received it within a few days of the last, and I should 
have grieved to be the one who gave him the pang. 

"Your Aunt Keith was still in Perth and greatly 
affected upon receiving the news she had the day before 
gone to see Gask. She is now at Dalguise and able to 
walk about a good deal better than at first. Dr Stewart 
and Margaret came here on Saturday 30th July and the 
Dr looked very ill he had over-fatigued I believe in 
taking long walks and had for some days lost his appetite 
he and Margaret are gone on to Newcastle and I hope 
he may get over this debility but I had a sad fright. 
He threatened apoplexy here, and was twice bled the 
same evening and Major Nairne happened to be at 
Berwick but came home late that night. I felt quite sure 
the Dr was come to die, and both Dr Ham. and Mr 
Abercrombie said he had a most narrow escape nothing 


could persuade him to delay the journey beyond yesterday 
morning I have a note today from Margaret saying they 
got well on. I mean not to despatch this till I hear 
from her again or if I should not hear it will be a 
good sign. Poor Lady Elizabeth Murray bears the loss 
of her greatest earthly treasure in the most becoming 
manner tho' she has felt much Charlotte's sufferings had 
been long protracted and very severe. On the twentieth 
July she was released the day her grandmother Lady 
Dunmore died. As Laurence's health is not often 
mentioned we have been supposing him able for Oxford 
and James also in England and perhaps all the rest 
once more at home. ... Mr Belshes of Invermay died 
19th of month liver and dropsy ; I have heard nothing 
comfortable of him. His sons were most attentive as 
to his bodily health. She ill at Invermay. ... Is it 
not wonderful that one even ever dreams of setting up 
our rest in this most empty world ? I pray that your 
headaches may be cured my dear Rachael and Margaret 
if really good for you, they will, and may every 
possible blessing be granted to each of my dear dear 
friends whose I am most truly and ever, 


" John A. Campbell was to write I understand before 
letting Cask in case of your going there . . . sorry I am 
to think there is no profitable Church or society in that 
neighbourhood. I sometimes think of your coming to 
Edinburgh, where both are now to be had. 

"Miss Ann Colquhoun married to a Mr Long of 
Rood Ashton in Wiltshire ; I hope a pious family. I 
do think her rather too young to encounter the cares 
and responsibilities of a family. ..." 

On 19th August Carolina continues her diary : 

" This my dear sister Amelia's birthday, but for the 
bright prospects of futurity, with what a heavy heart 
would its return afflict me ! She and 1 like twins, in 
age almost, in feelings tastes and principles altogether. 
No solid comfort on earth but in leaning on Him 
who is the source of all. As one by one our refreshing 
streams dry up, O may my soul be drawn closer to 
the blessed fountain. 


" This morning Prince Leopold l came to visit the 
Palace, received him in our diningroom with his suite 

only Sir Robert Gardiner and D travelling with him, 

other attendants Provost, Gen. Hope, Lord Advocate 
etc. His manner and appearance very interesting ; took 
wine and water which he said was very acceptable, 
that though the heat was great he enjoyed it, as sun 
showed the country to advantage ; said he considered it 
a great honour that the Regent's Bridge had been closed 
that he might be the first to pass. Asked if I was fond 
of music as he saw all the apparatus for it said they 
were fine rooms, spoke of the town as being magnificent ; 
am not sure if there was anything further. Wished to 
have remained in my own room, but was advised to be 
where he was brought, and indeed he began by saying 
he was very sorry to disturb me. Spoke of different 
things to Nairne, and seemed to think something might 
be done about repairing the chapel. William begged 
not to be desired to appear, but was observed afterwards 
by the Prince who asked about him and spoke very kindly 
to him." 

Much of this diary of Carolina Nairne is filled with 
lists of names of those who called upon her. Her greatest 
friends were Lady Elizabeth Murray 2 and her daughter 
Charlotte. 3 She also records the services she attended in 
the Episcopal church of Old St Paul's, whither she was 
often carried from her rooms in Holyrood, in a chair. 
When George IV. decided to hold a court at Holyrood, 
Major Nairne was asked to surrender these rooms, and in 
lieu thereof was granted an annuity of 300 for life, and 
Mrs Nairne's life. They returned to Caroline Cottage. 

Mrs Nairne writes on 26th January 1821 to Mrs 
Oliphant at Torquay : 

" To-morrow I hope to get to see Laurence's picture 

1 Son of the Duke of Saxe-Coburg, and an uncle of Queen Victoria. Born 
1790. He married Princess Charlotte of England, who died in 1817, and twelve 
years after her death morganatically married the actress, Caroline Bauer. He was 
attracted by her resemblance to Princess Charlotte. He was for three months 
King of Greece in 1830. In 1831 he was elected King of the Belgians. He died 
in 1865. 

2 Lady Elizabeth, widow of the Dean of Killaloe, died 24th November 1820. 

3 Charlotte Murray, died 26th July 1819. Both she and her mother are 
buried at Holyrood. 


which I hear is coming on famously and is likely to be 
of use in getting J. Watson much credit. Nairne dined 
yesterday with Mr l and Mrs Gillespie all the dishes and 
covers were in Silver most of them presents I believe 
for giving satisfaction as an Architect. . . . Aunt Keith 
and I remember happy days at Gask when there were 
only two silver spoons in the house, at which time I dare 
say my cousin Gillespie was at work with his own hands 
he is very modest and deserving and has risen well. 
Young Henrietta 2 is a sweet baby Mrs Gillespie brought 
her here one morning. . . . Miss Drummond Macgregor 
is with Mrs Robertson who has two fine boys she 
desires kind Comp ts to you and my sister Keith. I have 
not now room for all the loves I wish to send especially 
to dear Rachel with many good wishes and returns of 
to-morrow all blessed, and I ever am my dear sister 
your affect ate - C. NAIRNE." 

Of all the lairds of Gask Laurence the ninth, who 
succeeded his father in 1819, was the handsomest. His 
portrait, in full Highland dress, shows a gallant figure. 
The face is the face of a dreamer ; the mouth, with its 
charming curves, too facile in expression to denote a 
character formed to stand strongly either for good or evil. 
But he was never called upon to face the storm and stress 
of life. When at twenty-one he found himself head of the 
family, his first thought was to restore his mother and 
sisters to the long deserted home in Scotland. They were 
eager to go, to see again the glades of Gask, only a dim 
remembrance of early childhood, but held in a sacred 
shrine of thought all through the years of absence. A 
note of pathos belongs to the record of that journey home. 
One of the little group was fated never to see the beloved 

Mrs Oliphant, meanwhile, with her bevy of pretty, 
fragile girls, travelled from place to place in Italy. In 
Rome, early in 1820, Amelia was taken ill and for a 
time was in imminent danger small wonder, indeed 
for the doctors bled her constantly. The party moved 

1 Gillespie the architect, who assumed the name of Graeme on his marriage 
with the heiress of Orchill. 

2 Afterwards wife of James Blair Oliphant, tenth Laird of Gask. 

1798 - 1824 


to Frascati for health, where the landlady was not en- 
couraging on the score of Amelia's recovery, who was 
only allowed nourishment in the form of asses' milk. 

" The old woman begged most earnestly that we would 
give her food that would strengthen her, and when sister 
explained to her that food increased the fever, she replied, 
' Oh, my dear young ladies, you may give her whatever 
she likes to take she is but a lost child.' ' 

The sisters were hurt and angry at this plain speaking, 
and no doubt frightened too. Amelia got better and then 
worse again. Her sister's diary gives a sad little picture 
of the spirited young girl, then only eighteen, most 
naturally unwilling to face the gravity of the situation. 
It seems pitiful enough that she should not have been 
encouraged in small happinesses and interests as long as 
possible, but the tendency of the age was to regard death 
as arrayed in terror. 

" She did not seem in the least afraid for herself, 
indeed she amused herself with buying coral and other 
things of a nature equally frivolous. Oh ! it was most 
distressing to see a creature whom we all so dearly loved 
playing round the pit of destruction, and yet not be 
permitted to warn her of her danger." 

At last the ship was ready. It was an English brig 
called The Sisters. The party left Naples 4th of June 
1820. She grew better and then worse on the journey. 
Margaret was made happy by getting a chance of telling 
the shrinking young girl of her danger. The poor child 
submitted to long readings of the Bible and sermons. 
The family had been away from England nearly four 
years. It was thought that Amelia would not reach it 
alive, but on 5th August they all got safely to London, 
and the invalid was lodged in the Armstrongs' house in 
Russell Square. 

There, on 18th October, she died the first to go of the 
group of pretty children, all dowered with every grace 
and gift save that of health. 

Scarcely had Amelia departed, when symptoms of 


consumption appeared in Harriet, then nineteen years 
old. The family moved to Torquay, instead of proceed- 
ing to Scotland, but nothing could be done to arrest the 
progress of the disease. At last the doctor gave leave to 
go northwards. Margaret writes : 

" We are all in high spirits at the idea of being on our 
way home, specially Harriet, who said to me yesterday 
with an expression of joy which I cannot send on paper, 
' How glad I shall be to get myself again into the little 
narrow strip bed.' ' 

Perhaps the little bed was one of the few things 
Harriet remembered at Cask ; she was only seven when 
she last saw it. 

Mrs Nairne, at Caroline Cottage, looked eagerly forward 
to the arrival of her brother's family. 

"March 8th 1821. Am looking now for Mrs Keith 
and Christian Oliphant, hope they may be in Edinburgh 
on Saturday, have heard from Liverpool, all well so far, 
and Mrs Keith not in the least fatigued though she has 
travelled as much as a hundred miles in one day. Rachel 
not very stout and has a cough as well as Harriet, but 
trust they may yet be as well as Margaret seems now. 
Laurence quite well, which is a great blessing." 

"March 10th. Mrs Keith and Christian Oliphant 
arrived, and Nairne, William and I spent the day with 
them at Mrs Keith's house 99 Princes Street. Christian 
very much like her Mother, brought me nice letters from 
most of the party at Torquay." 

"June llth. I have lately had great pleasure in 
renewing my acquaintance with the dear Oliphants and 
in seeing my name-daughter Caroline for the first time. 
Rachel rather thin and delicate ; both so truly, I am con- 
vinced, looking heavenward, as well as Laurence, that I 
found both benefit and delight in their society, indeed 
I trust the whole of them are in the right way. How 
soothing the conviction impossible to think of it without 
giving fervent praise to the great Shepherd of the favoured 
flock. They tell me several pious friends were of great 
use to them at Torquay, particularly the Rev. Mr 
Greaves and Miss Grey, in London also Lady Lucy . . . 


and Lord Rocksavage were eager to be of use to them, 
and I have now the unspeakable comfort of being per- 
suaded that instead of getting harm upon their entrance 
into their own county they may, by the blessing of God, 
be enabled to do good to many. Mrs Oliphant, Margaret, 
and Harriet expected soon." 

Mrs Nairne writes to Mrs Oliphant 25th January 
1821 : 

" I had the pleasure to receive yours yesterday and 
beg you will thank Laurence for letting us know of his 
safe arrival. I am very glad you thought him looking 
well it is most comfortable that his own country seems 
to agree with him, and I trust it may with the rest of the 
family. I shall be impatient to hear again of both Rachel 
and Margaret, I always try to figure you easily alarmed 
about them all, and no wonder. 

" Nairne is now out, and if I thought I could get this 
off without his seeing it, I would just mention a little 
anecdote of him in his youth and about his Father, who 
did him so little justice that he omitted preventing the 
prescription of the Nairne estate which was in his power, 
and it is thought certainly might have brought it back to 
the family. He also omitted to state to Government his 
own services, which every one says must have brought 
something to his son, and at last died 7 or 800 pounds 
in debt, for which by law William Nairne was no way 
bound, but he immediately offered to sell his commission, 
pay this debt, and begin the world again without a 
fraction, the plan was prevented, but it was freely 
offered. Yet had Lawyers been consulted I will not say 
that they might have failed of giving another bias. Now 
please do not allude to this in reply and if you saw into 
my heart you would see there that I mention it not by 
way of the smallest boast, but to endeavour to do away a 
little the hardship that is supposed in Laurence's case and 
which I most truly regret ... it hurts me to think there 
should be a moments reason given for any one to suspect 
his Fathers affection for him who was almost an idol. . . . 
I often think of what he said to me one day, when talking 
of ups and downs in William's prospects, that ' he would 
get what was good for him ' and there I rest with regard 
to him, and all of us. His Papa and I have had a blessing 



on our basket and on our store, our going out and 
coming in, and you know that no worldly wise man 
would have sanctioned our union when it took place, but 
it was not without prayers. ..." 

The letter is unfinished. It relates to a point about 
the will of Laurence's father. The young Laird was 
advised not to take advantage of a point of law to evade 
the provisions of the will, but to let it be carried into 
effect, though he would be a loser. 

All the family assembled at Gask in this year. A 
few letters remain to show how life went on there. Old 
tenants on the estate hand on traditions of the pretty 
Miss Oliphants and their fair ringlets, which the village 
children in Clathy copied, with the help of the long curly 
shavings from the carpenter's shop ! 

One note, in Rachel's handwriting, addressed to her 
brother abroad, brings quaintly to mind the fact that 
ninety years ago feudal traditions had still a dominating 
power over social conditions : 

" A few days ago Robert Arthur asked to speak with 
me and said he wished to go to the Highlands for a 
month to get edication, I asked if he could get ' edica- 
tion ' no nearer than the Highlands. I found by his reply 
that the chief object of his studies would be the bagpipes. 
I dissuaded him from bestowing much time upon an 
accomplishment which would never be of any real use 
to him and added that he could attend Mr M'Farlane's 
evening class for reading and writing, and he said that 
he would go, when the dancing class was over. I asked 
what the dancing class meant, and found that the school- 
master had given up his room to an itinerant dancing 
master, who gave lessons in the evening. Mama wrote to 
Mr Robertson desiring an explanation of such a proceed- 
ing. He came and stated that M'Farlane had consulted 
him upon the subject and he had advised that permission 
should not be given without first inquiring into the 
character of the Dancing Master, he was of opinion 
that as the course of lessons was begun it had better 
be continued without interruption. Mama was of a 
different opinion and sent for M'Farlane who was very 


sensible of the error he had committed in taking such a 
measure without your concurrence, and the same evening 
the Dancing school was closed." 

Among the most pathetic family memorials belonging 
to Cask is a large double case containing water-colour 
portraits, by A. E. Chalon, 1 of Amelia and Harriet, ex- 
quisite in delicacy, grace, and appealing charm ; the 
clear sweet eyes so plainly the eyes of the dying. 

In May 1822 Mrs Oliphant determined to take Harriet 
away by sea from Dundee to London for her health. The 
child was in reality beyond help. London was very hot, 
and her condition became steadily worse. She longed to 
return to Gask, and was brought back. All day long 
she lay on her couch on the sloping bank of the upper 
terrace. Her sister Rachel records that she had no 
wish either to live or die, but accepted her fate with 
perfect resignation. Just before the end came, a wheel 
chair was obtained, and in this she was carried by her 
brother James and Rachel to the garden. She had 
expressed a wish to see the lower end of the garden 
where the moss roses might still be in bloom. Thither 
they went on 6th August. One moss rose alone 
remained. Harriet greeted it with delight, but would 
not let her brother pluck it for her. The rose outlived 
her. It was her last sight of the garden she loved ; her 
last breath of the sweet air. She was carried back to 
the house, but could not face the exertion of being 
carried upstairs, and was taken to the west parlour. 
That night she died. 

Very soon after her death, the young Laird, the 
"beautiful Laurence," was attacked with the same 

1 Chalon was then a water-colour and miniature painter immensely in favour. 
Among the Kington papers there is a letter addressed to him from Sir Thomas 
Lawrence : 

" MY DEAR SIB, I am anxious that your drawing should be seen hy very 
high Personages. Will you complete it and put it in a frame, and can you get 
this done by Monday night ? 

" I am venturing to scold you. Those hands are not admissible from a Royal 
Academician, and certainly not from A. E. Chalon, Esq. You must look at 
beautiful nature, and the fine Antique. Believe me to be, my dear Sir, 
most truly yours, THOS. LAWRENCE." 


disease. Again the poor mother was face to face with 
bitter sorrow. The family hurried to the South of 
France, in the hope of arresting the mischief. 

In the midst of her own acute domestic anxieties, 
Mrs Oliphant had noted the talent of one of the Gask 
tenants, young Laurence Macdonald, who was destined 
to become in a few short years a celebrated sculptor. 
In humble circumstances, he could not hope, without 
help, to obtain the education necessary to develop his 
marked talent as a youth. It was decided when the 
Oliphant family left Gask for the South of France 
take the young man with them so far, and then 
send him on to Rome. In a comparatively short time 
he brilliantly fulfilled the expectations of his friends. 
Ten years afterwards he sent the following letter to the 
Laird of Gask : 

" To James Oliphant, Esq. of Gask, near Perth. 

" July 6th 1832. 

"DEAR SIR, The many obligations which I am undei 
to the family of Gask can never be forgotten by me, noi 
remembered without feelings of the warmest gratitude 
to the members of that family whose Mother was my 
earliest friend and best benefactor. I feel that the only 
way in which I can at all repay so much kindness is by 
rising to a high eminence in my profession. To whatever 
greatness I may arrive in my Art it will always be a 
proud feeling in my breast to know that the liberality 
of Mrs Oliphant laid the foundation. The peculiar con- 
stitution of my mind I hold as a trust from the Creator, 
it has been my aim and object to cultivate all the 
faculties which he has given me aright, however im- 
perfectly I may have succeeded. My Art is the embody- 
ing of thought and feeling into material substance, and 
ought always to be pursued so as to lead the mind to a 
contemplation of purity, innocence and truth. I am dear 
Sir, your most obed nt and obliged servant, 


" To JAMES OLIPHANT, Esq. of Gask." 


As a gift to the family of Gask, Laurence Macdonald 
sent his chef d'ceuvre, the beautiful marble " Bacchante," l 
now at Ardblair. A marble statue, still in the grounds 
of Gask, is also an example of his early work. 

Young Laurence Oliphant passed the winter of 1822 
in Rome, but never recovered any measure of health. 
He returned to his mother, and they all went to Torquay 
in 1823, but the family were at Gask again in the June 
following. One glimpse of the group is given by the 
well-known divine, Dr Chalmers, who at this time paid 
a three days' visit to Gask. 

" Wed., June 23, 1824. 

" I was driven to Gask, where I got a warm reception 
from Mr James Oliphant. It is a very splendid mansion 
and is situated in a beautiful country. There are four 
young ladies, but only three of them I suppose to be his 
sisters ; all of them cultivated in a very high degree, and 
their decided tendencies are towards serious conversation. 
Mrs Oliphant appears a most admirable person ; I should 
imagine sixty but still in full activity. The elder brother 
is confined to his room, but I have seen him though only 
for a few minutes. He is evidently failing very fast, but 
his whole heart seems to be set on right subjects. . . . 
Called to supper and family worship about nine and 
retired between ten and eleven, delighted with the quiet 
regularities of a pleasant cultivated family. 

" Thursday. The chaise came to the door and took 
me and two of the Miss Oliphants to Freeland, where 
we called on Lady Ruthven. Her ladyship is remarkably 
clever and was remarkably kind. . . . Freeland is quite 
a Paradise of beauty. 

"Friday, Got up at eight. Expounded at family 
worship for the first time. After breakfast two horses 
arrived at the door for an equestrian excursion between 
me and Mr James. Previous to that I had composed 
somewhat and had an interesting conversation with Mr 
Oliphant the invalid, more satisfactory than before. 

1 Henrietta Blair Oliphant (when widow of the tenth Laird of Gask) clothed 
the limbs of the " Bacchante " in a pink tarlatan petticoat. T. L. Kington Oliphant 
bequeathed the statue to the Scottish National Gallery. The trustees generously 
declined to take advantage of the bequest, and it remains a treasured possession 
in the family. 


" We were soon overtaken with rain and so stopped 
in our excursion, but had a very good refuge in the 
Manse of Mr Young the clergyman, with whom we sat 
an hour. As the rain continued we walked home with 
umbrellas and sent a servant from the house for the 
horses. 1 

"Saturday. The main duties of the family worship 
are all laid upon me, even in the presence of clergymen, 
and this is somewhat delicate and disagreeable. Walked 
about a mile from Gask to the place where the coacl 
took me up. I took an affectionate farewell of the 
family. . . . They one and all of them have a con- 
sumptive hue, and I felt quite softened by such ai 
exhibition of the fragility of our mortal nature." 

The Oliphants returned to Torquay, and there the 
young Laurence lived out the few remaining months oi 
his short life of twenty-six years, dying the last day oi 
the year 1824. There are so few memorials of the 
character of the ninth Laird of Gask in letters oi 
journals that the following letter is given in ful 
Written only three weeks before his death, it 
addressed to the Rev. Thomas Young, 2 at the Mans 
of Gask, and shows the bond of tender sympathy that 
existed between the young laird and the minister or 
whom he leaned for spiritual support. 

"TORQUAY, Dec. 6th 1824. 

"REV* 1 - DEAR SIR, We received your letter of the 
30th of last month this morning and were glad it coi 
tained such good accounts of yourself and family as wel 
as of many of those in whom we feel interested. Oi 
the morning of the 23rd of November we were visite 
with a very severe storm amounting to a hurricane. Oi 
house is situated within ten yards of the sea, protectec 
only from its occasional inroads by a big wall, and facing 
South West. It was from this quarter the wind blew 

1 The Doctor must have been much averse to rain. The Manse is only one 
mile from Gask House. 

2 The letters of the Oliphant family addressed to Mr Young are among the 
Gask papers. He was their chief confidant and adviser, a trusted friend to whom 
everything could be told. Sentiments of the warmest friendship always existed 
between the Youngs and the Oliphants. Mr Young was minister of Gask from 
October 1822 till the date of his death, 5th September 1852. 


and with such impetuosity that in 5 of our windows there 
were several panes of glass broken, and many houses were 
still more injured and had not our dwelling been founded 
on a rock, it in all probability must have yielded to the 
combined impetuosity of wind and waves. The sur- 
rounding coast in many places is quite devastated. 1 
had hoped to renew my last year's intercourse with you 
by occasionally writing, but from this I am for the 
present excluded, at least from doing so as fully as I 
could wish on the most important subjects. I firmly 
believe that next to the prayers of my own immediate 
relatives, yours were the most fervent and the most 
availing. May I particularly request you will still con- 
tinue with unremitting ardor to supplicate the Father 
of mercies on my behalf. My mind is still occasionally 
harassed and perplexed. The proofs of the natural 
corruptions of my heart being brought to view, is still 
going on ; and I have not been able as yet to cast all 
my burden upon the Lord. Self still obscures my views 
of the sun of righteousness. I cannot, like Thomas, 
call him my Lord and my God. I think the secret cause 
of uneasiness is still a leaning to self justification in part, 
but how to rid myself of this I know not. My head 
tells me it is folly so to do, yet my heart still clings to 
this evil principle. I have of late been made to feel 
my natural tendency to envy. Oh ! pray for me especi- 
ally on this head. What I found my besetting sin last 
Winter is by the grace of God a good deal subdued. 
Being in a great measure deprived of that free disclosure 
of the soul I enjoyed with you last Winter, I have been 
more driven to secret prayer, which will I trust eventually 
prevail tho' I am for the present like those that grope 
for the wall. It will be a source of great comfort for me 
to know I am still as present with you as ever in spirit 
and that you always bear me in mind at the throne of 
Grace and often during the day I hope you will direct 
your thoughts towards me by lifting up the heart in 
secret devotion for my eternal welfare. Were we but 
in Jesus all would be well. 

" Remember me very kindly to Mrs Young and to 
each of your children in all of whom I feel much 
interested. Will you mention particularly in your next 
how the school prospers and it would be a great comfort 


to me to know you took an especial charge of it. The 
awfully sudden death of poor Peter's wife will, I am 
sure, make you feel more than ever the necessity of 
exhorting all to be in a state of preparation. What a 
strong injunction is that of the Apostle 'be instant in 
season and out of season.' I wrote a few lines to Peter 
shortly after the fatal event. God can prosper the meanest 
endeavours of administering consolation. Will you take 
a particular charge of him poor man, for I fear he is 
practically unacquainted with the truth. I had occasion 
to speak to Isaac in consequence of his taking his Maker's 
name in vain when angry. Will you touch upon the 
same subject when an opportunity occurs. I do not 
think he is fully aware of the guilt he incurs from so 
doing. From the tenor of this letter you will see it is 
designed only for your own inspection as I have written 
with the same unreserve I used to speak remember mt 
by name to Joseph, Isaac, Peter, Archer, in short to all 
who may enquire after or feel interested in the family 
and beg those whom you think Christians indeed to 
pray for me without ceasing, among the number I may 
mention John Maxtone 1 and Hellen Johnstone. 

" As I have already reached the limitations prescribed 
I must conclude by assuring you of the deep interest I 
feel in your welfare and how grateful I am for your 
unremitting kindness towards me during my long indis- 
position. I remain, Yours very sincerely, 


After his death, his sisters found a shorthand note 
addressed to them, which shows an unusual thoughtful- 
ness. From this note it appears that the poor mother 
was not well understood by her children. Her many and 
repeated sorrows had not softened her character, but 
Laurence had discovered depths of unrevealed sympathy 
in his mother. He begs his sisters to give her more of 
their confidence, and to love her better. 

His portrait, 2 with its arresting beauty, marks him as 
a man gifted beyond all others of his race in personal 
charm. His younger brother, James, then a boy of 

1 Second son of James Maxtone, eleventh Laird of Cultoquhey. 

* Full length in full Highland dress, by John Watson. Now at Ardblair. 


twenty, succeeded as tenth Laird of Gask. James was 
plain, possessing neither the delicate features nor the 
poetic aspect of his brother ; but he is said to have had 
remarkable distinction of bearing. An acquaintance of 
his time writes : 

" There is something peculiarly pleasing about him ; 
he has all the grace and elegance and taste and feeling 
of his family, a great deal of the right feeling, and wish 
to do right, but I should doubt the stability." 

An old farmer, only lately dead, thus described the 
personal appearance of James : 

" He was the maist gentlemanliest man ever ye see, 
to look at the back of his heed ; but his face was no 

The year 1824 was rendered memorable to Carolina 
Nairne, her husband, and son, by the restoration of the 
Nairne title. The Bill passed both Lords and Commons 
and received the King's sanction on 17th June 1824. 
Thus after eighty years the old honours, barren as regards 
goods and gear, but cherished still, came back to the 
rightful heir. There is a pleasant family tradition that 
Lady Nairne's own song, " The attainted Scottish Nobles," 
had been sung to George IV. and disposed him to grant 
the petition : 

" For old hereditary right 
For conscience sake they stoutly stood ; 
And for the crown their valiant sons 
Themselves have shed their injured blood ; 
For if their fathers ne'er had fought 

For heirs of ancient royalty 
They're down the day that might ha' been 

At the top o' honours tree a'." 

Other attainted families whose honours were restored at 
the same time were those of Mar and Strathallan. The 
following is Lord Mar's * letter of congratulation to Lady 
Nairne : 

1 John Francis, born 1741. His title was restored to him as grandson and 
lineal representative of John, Earl of Mar, forfeited in 1716. He only enjoyed 
his restored honours a short time, dying the next year, aged eighty-four. 


" Saturday, 26 June 1824. 

" MY DEAR LADY NAIRNE, Most sincerely do I con- 
gratulate your Ladyship on our ultimate success after the 
procrastinating vexatious quibbles to thwart us. I have 
scarcely been out of the house since I had the honour of 
paying my respects at Caroline Cottage, and have shewn 
you our worthy anxious solicitor Mr Richardson's letters 
to me, tho they principally regarded my own particular 
case, which has given him particular trouble. I ai 
inclined to think that Lords Strathallan and Nairne have 
passed their time (from being on the spot) more teasingb 
than what we (at a distance) have done. All thes 
vexatious procrastinations are now over and we enjoi 
the pleasure of knowing that this gracious boon has beei 
bestowed on us by His Majesty himself. I had a lettei 
about a week ago from Lord Strathallan acquainting me 
that it was thought proper to apply to His Majesty t( 
know whether he would permit us to make our obeisance 
and return our thanks for this manifestation of his gracious 
favour. Whether this will be permitted or not, my 
Brother copeer could not say but it has probably kept 
them some time, or Nairne would have flown down to his 
happy fireside. I hope that the time will not be far 
distant when His Majesty's Ministers have the courage 
to avow the injustice that has been to Lord Nairne and 
bestow on Lord Nairne an equivalent for the piece of 
injustice that has been done. Lady Frances joins with 
me in every good wish for you and yours. I have the 
honour to be, Dear Lady Nairne, with most respectful 
regards your Ladyships obedient servant, MAR." 

The days passed happily for Lady Nairne. The note 
of gloom and depression in letters and journals was a 
habit of the day, an outcome of the peculiar form of 
religious thought then prevalent ; it was not part of the 
real nature of one whose wide sympathies and sense of 
humour made her delightful as a companion. She was 
happy in her devoted husband and only son, and in 
pursuits that she liked. She had time to devote to paint- 
ing, which she did well ; to music, which in her was a 
passion, and to verse-writing, which was the charming 
secret of her inner life. A certain Miss Meek, governess 


in the family of Mrs Robertson of Carronvale, was once 
invited to spend an evening with Lady Nairne at Caroline 
Cottage. She writes :- 

" I was greatly taken with the drawing-room chairs, 1 
which seemed to be beautifully embroidered, the ground 
was black velvet and the flowers were cut out of old- 
fashioned silk and tastefully arranged on the velvet. I 
think Lady Nairne had given up drawing by that time, 
at least to a very limited extent, as she was afraid that 
her love for drawing took up too much of her precious 
time. ... I was also told that when the Hon. William 
Nairne was a boy, his Mama allowed him great freedom 
of action. Miss Drummond and another friend had 
been in Lady Nairne's room one day, when her son was 
climbing up the post of the bed. This friend gave her 
Ladyship a look, as much as to say ' Do you permit 
this?' Lady Nairne understood the look and replied, 
'I would rather that my son should cut chips in the 
dining-room table, than that he should sit in quiet 
idleness.' ' 

Unfortunately, this ideal with regard to William was 
not carried out. Lady Nairne, who used to speak and 
write about a " line of life " for him, as a matter of fact 
never gave him the chance of following any. Instead of 
being sent to school, he was kept at home with tutors, 
chosen with infinite pains more for their religious " views " 
than their suitability to develop manly qualities in a 
boy. The object of the devotion, the prayers, the absorb- 
ing interest of both parents, he never left his mother as 
long as he lived. Though his parents were satisfied with 
the result, William may himself have known times of dis- 
satisfaction. Lady Nairne wrote years after to a niece : 

" I have not a single regret about Williams 
ing. He was trained for the Kingdom whither he has 
gone. I was laughed at for not having him taught 
dancing; but I knew its snares too well. What else 
does the Bible lead us to expect when it says Therefore 
the world knoweth us not., because it knew him not ? Yet 

1 Now iu the possession of the writer. 


there never was a merrier home than ours. Your Uncle 
was full of fun, and kept his best spirits for his own 
home." 1 

There were, however, restless times in William's short 
life, when he naturally craved for more independence, 
a wider outlook, and a life of his own. But to the last 
he never failed his mother, giving her freely his submission 
and his love. 

After the death of young Laurence, the Gask family 
went away to live for a time at Clifton, hoping that the 
milder climate might restore the health of the girls. 
While at Clifton, on 24th April 1827, Mrs Oliphant 
died, worn out with many sorrows, and a life never free 
from anxieties. Her daughters continued to make Clifton 
their home. Gask was once more empty, except for the 
occasional visits of the young Laird, James, who in 
September 1827 sent the following account of the burn- 
ing of his neighbour's house to his sisters : 

"You will be both surprised and hurt to learn th 
total demolition of Dupplin Castle by fire which took 
place the day before yesterday. I have seldom witnessed 
a scene of so much distress and bearing with it so 
poignant a moral. Lord Kinnoull 2 with his wife 2 an 
family arrived from London on Monday evening an 
on Tuesday morning by day-break they found themselves 
obliged to fly from a home where every comfort awaited 
them. Douglas, who breakfasted with me that morning, 
was the first notice I had of it, and the scene I witnessed 
on immediately arriving on the spot was really heart- 

" With the greatest difficulty I pushed my way through 
crowds of people of every description who had come from 
Perth and the adjacent country, some to help, others, I 
fear by their appearance, and those by far the greater 
number, to steal and pilfer, and soon reaching a miser- 
able pantry through dust and rubbish I found the earl 
sitting, a spectacle really of the most abject nature you 

1 Memoir of Baroness Nairne, p. 73. 

2 Thomas Robert, eleventh Earl of Kinnoull, bom 1st April 1785 and died in 
866. He married, 1824, Louisa, daughter of Admiral Sir Charles Rowley. 


can conceive. He was surrounded by many of the 
neighbouring gentlemen, who forgetting all their former 
differences had flocked to offer assistance and consolation ; 
but the pangs of disappointment were too severe to 
admit of any immediate relief and he sat in the midst 
of us half clad, and worn out with fatigue, a lesson 
and oh, what a lesson ! to all the pride and vain assurance 
of all human affairs. Lady Kinnoull with a female friend 
and little Lord Dupplin l were first driven to the West 
Wing and then sought refuge in the factor's house at 
Aberdalgie. Curiosity of course brought many to the 
spot. I considered I had it in my power to be of real 
use to my distressed neighbours and by an offer of my 
house to the Noble outcast thought its situation and 
accommodation at such a time well worthy of considera- 
tion. I trust they may act with the same sincerity which 
actuated myself and if they decide on remaining any 
time in the country after this misfortune they may perhaps 
become my inmates. His Lordship expresses most feel- 
ingly the kindness of his friends and neighbours which 
is always gratifying even at the time ; need I say what 
I hope for the lasting results this accident may have 
upon him. And as we often see good coming of evil 
all around, have but one feeling on the subject which 
equally looks to our hopes being realised. 

" All the bedroom pictures and furniture with half the 
library and many many irreparable papers and valuables 
are gone for ever. 

" I fear Lady Kinnoull has received an impression of 
disgust from her stay in Scotland that may prevent her 
ever returning." 1 

While the Oliphant sisters lived at Clifton, an acquaint- 
ance grew with the Kington $ family at Charlton, an estate 
five miles from Bristol. The four Miss Kingtons and 
their unmarried brother, Thomas, had much in common 
with the Oliphant family in holding the same religious 
views. The intimacy ripened, and Thomas Kington fell 
in love and proposed marriage to Margaret Oliphant, 
who at the outset certainly did not respond very warmly. 

1 George, afterwards twelfth Earl of Kinnoull, born 16th July 1827, died 

8 Part of this letter is in the Jacobite Lairds, p. 446. 

3 For pedigree and account of the Kington family see Appendix. 


Margaret writes to her sister Christian from Glen 
Uske :- 

" I believe I shall send this by Mr Kington ... he 
is in such miserable spirits that it quite makes one low 
to look at him, and he says himself that he finds he 
cannot command himself sufficiently even to appear to 
seem cheerful. . . . He says seeing and being with me 
only makes him more wretched. ... I told him no one 
could be more sorry for him than I was ; but he knew 
exactly the circumstances of the case, but that I really 
thought better for both parties to end the matter at one 
He begged me not to mention such an idea. ... O ho 
I wish such affection had been directed to an obj 
who could have returned it, instead of me who only f< 
on each successive proof of attachment that she can 
give little or no encouragement to his passion. ... I 
am obliged to finish, for I am suffering from a severe 
headache ; but no one seems to pitty me, all the sympathy 
is lavished on Mr Kington, yet from beginning to end 
he has cost me much." 

February 27th, 1830, James Oliphant writes to his sist( 
Rachel about Margaret's prospective engagement : 

"From the little I saw of Mr Kington I have no 
reason to say that Margaret has pcted unwisely in 
answering his proffered friendship, because I could dis- 
cover in his disposition much that was amiable and kind 
and such as is likely to ensure the happiness of his 
wife. . . . Gentlemanlike in his behaviour and manners 
he has every right to be considered capable of maintaining 
her in a manner suitable to her station in the world. . . 
You mention her fears respecting my prejudice for birth 
I own that perhaps such nonsense has at times too grea 
an influence over my better judgment, but well coui 
I make this sacrifice . . . did I fancy that her futu 
happiness would not suffer from the trial, but what I 
deeply regret is the obligation Margaret would experience 
in lowering herself to please the caprices of a country 
town gossip, which to a cultivated mind would prove 
humiliating. You urge Mr Kington's active engagements 
as in his favour l but can you believe that while he keeps 

1 Thomas Kington had large shipping interests in Bristol. 


up his existing connections in Bristol it is possible to 
get rid of his old acquaintances, their families and 
friends ? " 

Margaret finally accepted Mr Kington, 8th March 
1830. She writes to her sisters : 

" I went to walk with Mr Kington yesterday and 
you would have felt for both had you known the agitation 
which both seemed to partake of. By common consent, 
both were silent till at last Mr Kington, seeing me able 
no longer to bear the suspense, asked me to say but 
one word and make him the happiest person in the 
world. I tried several times, but could not articulate, 
and at length when the answer to his repeated querry 
'will you be mine,' was pronounced, it was followed 
by a burst of tears and histerical fit of sobbing . . . after 
watching me for a few moments with great tenderness 
said, 'Now, Margaret, you have left me nothing upon 
earth to wish for." 

Rachel, who all her life was wanting in a sense of 
humour, writing to console Margaret on the social dis- 
advantages of the match, characteristically observes : 

" What would it avail to have our names emblazoned 
in the Red Book if they are not found in the Book 
of Life?" 

On 26th May 1830 the marriage of Thomas Kington 
with Margaret Oliphant took place at Rood Ashton, the 
home of their firm friends, the Longs. Old Mrs Kington 
was too ill to be present. James Oliphant was abroad. 
Margaret had only her own sisters and the Longs at 
the ceremony. The honeymoon was spent at Berthfan, 

Christian, the sister nearest in age to the bride, was 
ill at the time, though able to attend the ceremony. The 
kind Kingtons wished her to return to Charlton after- 
wards, but Rachel thought her too ill, and she was 
carried off to Malvern to join the bride and bridegroom 
at Berthfan. 

Lady Nairne writes, 12th June 1830, from Caroline 


Cottage, Edinburgh, to her niece, Christian Oliphant, at 
Charlton, Wraxall, Somerset: 

"MY VERY DEAR CHRISTIAN, It is many mont 
since I have left off attempting to write or visit eve: 
in my former lame manner, but understanding that dea 
Margaret's marriage ceremony was abridged on yo 
account I begin to be very anxious to know somethin 
of your state of health which I had hoped was pretty goo 
I have been much in hopes of a letter from the brid 
which she promised I should receive, much comfo 
may she and all of you have in this connexion whic 
seems to be so highly approved of by all parties. A 
to myself I seem in the shade, and yet can enjoy sun 
shine in the distance. I know it would make your kin 
heart feel to see Lord Nairne as he is now, feeble an 
emaciated beyond what you can well imagine, yet w 
are thankful there is no alarming symptom in the disease 
itself, and if it should be permitted to give way he might 
in some degree pick up again tho he himself does not 
expect it, at one time we were urged to try travelling 
about, and then William wrote to his cousin James 
Oliphant that Lord Nairne would prefer to all other 
places going for a short time to Gask, this had not 
occurred to William or me, but it seemed a comfortable 
way of making the desired experiment, as soon as James 
arrived at Paris he wrote to Lord Nairne in the most 
kind and friendly manner possible, approving in every 
respect; since then some symptoms have appeared that 
make it proper to delay moving from home. . . . William 
has proved quite indispensable to us both during this 
illness which began Oct. 26, and now that our friends 
have left Louisfield, which must make a great blank we 
three seem almost alone in the world and feel very 
uncertain as to whether we shall be able to try a 
jaunt or not. I hear from Mrs Colquhoun at times but 
have never been able to call upon her I hope Christian 
may soon return to her improved in health. I often 
think of somebody's observation that it is difficult to 
say whether we should call this state of existence a 
* dying life or a living Death.' Dearest Christian, what 
a blessed privilege to have such a hope set before us 
as is freely given to the humble and contrite followers 
of the all-powerful Redeemer. Accept for yourself and 


your sisters the kindest good wishes of the trio here. 
Do include also my new nephew and with my special 
love and Blessing believe me as ever your truly affectionate 
and attached, C. NAIRNE." 

This letter must have reached Christian Oliphant 
only a few days before her death, which occurred just 
a month after her sister's marriage. She died at Malvern 
Wells, 28th June 1830, and was buried at Little Malvern 
on 5th July. On that very day, but too late, her brother, 
James Oliphant, returned from the Continent. By a 
strange coincidence, the same thing happened on the 
occasion of his sister Margaret's death nine years 

Lady Nairne felt keenly the death of yet another of 
her brother's family, but her own anxieties overwhelmed 
her. The happy days at Caroline Cottage were draw- 
ing to a close. On the 9th of July her husband, Lord 
Nairne, died. 1 The last entry in her journal is dated 
August 1830, Caroline Cottage : 

" With a heavy but I trust resigned heart have tied 
up these papers preparatory to leaving this once happy 
home, long happy and with deep gratitude to the giver 
of all good, felt and acknowledged to be so thro his un- 
merited love. May His presence go with us, the widow 
and only child of one now I trust rejoicing among the 
redeemed and O may we be safely and mercifully led 
thro all the trials of time to a happy immortality for his 
sake who has done all for us sinful creatures. 


1 His will is dated Caroline Cottage, 15th June 1826. He left 500 to a 
natural son, another William, "now in the sea-faring line." 




JAMES OLIPHANT, the tenth Laird, was at Gask, keepii 
up a bachelor establishment. The big house must hav( 
seemed empty and dreary, full of the memories of the 
group of sisters fading rapidly away as years went on. 

The thoughts of Carolina Nairne, in the first darknes 
of her widowhood, turned to the home of her heart, bi 
she went to Clifton with her boy, where her two remain- 
ing nieces were ready with a welcome. There also w* 
a house of grief. Christian had been dead only a fe^ 
weeks, and Caroline, 1 the youngest of the family, the mos 
attractive of all the sisters, with her gift for verse- writing, 
her beauty, her lively interest in life, was too plainly sooi 
to follow Christian. She survived her only eight months 
Out of the family of eight sons and daughters, onb 
Rachel, James, and Margaret Kington now survived. 

The muse of Caroline Oliphant the younger was 
a gentle and reflective order. Her verses bear no stamj 
of original thought, but flow pleasantly and with a rinj 
of simple pathos belonging to a day that is past. 

" The fresh winds are blowing 

O'er the orange groves of Spain, 
The waters are flowing 

That bear me home again. 
When last I left Spain's fair shore 
A mother's wail the breezes bore, 
But now in praise 
Her voice she'll raise ; 

1 A memoir of Caroline Oliphant the younger, and a selection of her verses, 
is included in Mr Roger's Memoir of Baroness Nairne. She is buried in Clifton 
churchyard beside her mother. It has been said of her, " Some characters can 
never have any real likenesses. Nature sometimes breaks her cast, that the 
model may never be repeated." 



For fresh winds are blowing 

O'er the orange groves of Spain, 
And waters are flowing 

That bear me home again. 

" The twilight is closing 

And mists are spreading fast, 
Our eyes are reposing 

On the lofty hills at last. 
The chestnut woods dimly rise 
In shadowy streaks upon the skies, 
I see the crag 
The signal flag, 
And fresh winds are blowing 

O'er the orange groves of Spain, 
And waters are flowing 
That bear me home again. 

" The moonbeams are gleaming 

On the bow'r where my sisters dwell, 
The lattice is streaming 

With lights that of watching tell. 
What voices rise soft and clear ? 
It is the vesper hymn I hear ! 
Trim trim the sail 
To meet the gale 
For fresh winds are blowing 

O'er the orange groves of Spain, 
And waters are flowing 

That bear me home again." 

The following is one of the last letters written by 
James Oliphant to his sister Caroline : 

" From James Blair Oliphant., Kirk Style Inn, Ardblair. 

" 6 October 1830. 

" MY DEAR CAROLINE, I came here early this morn- 
ing from Murthly and met the Baronet * at Perth yester- 
day who insisted on my returning with him. They keep 
bachelor's establishment there now, as Lady Stewart 2 has 
taken up her quarters at Logie Almond, a consumma- 
tion devoutly to be wished ! So the poor old Duke 3 
has departed at last. I was rather amused at his having 
ordered himself to be deposited in his last Home in a 
larch coffin thus keeping up his undiminished love and 

1 Sir John Archibald Stewart of Murthly, sixth Baronet. 

2 Catherine Drummond, widow of Sir George Stewart, fifth Baronet. 

3 The fourth Duke of Atholl died 29th September 1830. 


affection for his favorite timber to the last. One really 
is sorry to see a man thwarted in his most rational hopes 
and expectations which it certainly was to live to see 
his fine house completed (but this has been denied him) 
and he is now 'left alone to his glory.' His poorest 
cotter may probably rival him there. Cest ainsi enfin 
dans les affaires mondaines. He will be much regrettt 
in the County where his services were so actively 
stowed. My neighbour the minute peer has lost 
time in showing his face in Town as he is aspiring 
be Lord Lieutenant. Made at London, sold at Pert) 
Stops a bottle, etc. What is he, abstracted from his rai 
title and estate, which alone entitles him to the honor, fc 
he's without exception the veriest atom that ever exist 
A Propos Rachel's fears will a little subside on 
account when I mention that Aunt Nairne's last epist 
is upon the retreating system as to instituting an attacl 
on the Continent this year; although I never had the 
least fear as to being in the slightest degree molested by 
my old friends the French, still I thought it but fair to 
my aunt to state that it would be quite unnecessary in- 
creasing difficulties where there are always some exist 
to a first introduction to the continent, and that, if it 
were not absolutely needful to go at present, she had far 
better delay it a few months. She seems to have been 
biased by some candid opinions from your part of the 
world and talks of wintering in the South of England. 
How long we are to remain in the selfsame mind I 
would not answer for, as both Mother and Son are as 
unacquainted with what they will have to undergo as any 
blind man upon a terra incognita. The youthful Peer is 
certainly a nice gentlemanlike fellow, but abstracted from 
that, a perfect novice as regards even this world's policy. 

" I am rejoiced to hear that Meta l is so comfortable 
among the Kington sisterhood. Nothing could give her 
friends more real pleasure after being persuaded that the 
caro sposo studies it primarily. I do hope soon to be able 
to pay you a visit at Clifton. I am sorry to say I have 
begun to be country gentleman in good earnest and what 
with Roads, County Meetings and such ignoble pursuits, 
I shall not be able in future to be so agreeably idle as I 
was wont. It will not do, I see, to act by proxy when 

1 Margaret Kingtoii. 


one's own good and that of the tenantry are concerned. 
Selfishness persuades everything and an Absentee is only 
pitied and laughed at, when he returns expecting the iota 
of interest which as a member of the public he was entitled 
to look for, has been merged by some over greedy spy 
into his own coffers. Respectability undoubtedly gains 
by it and this is the plea that all my friends urge upon 
me as the best sufficient reason for establishing my head 
quarters. I query however whether the monotony will 
suit my taste mats commenpons toujours, on ne devient pas 
sage tout a la fois and I will say that if ever I become a 
sober, sedate and settled country plodder, I shall have to 
ascribe the change to Him who can alone change the 
Heart and has power to bring our wills into subjection to 
what his wisdom may appoint. In recommending you 
to the peculiar care of the Good Shepherd, whether in 
time or Eternity, Believe me dearest Caro, yr ever truly 
attached, JAMES." 

During the time of the family residence at Clifton, in 
the intervals of sick-nursing which formed her constant 
occupation, Rachel Oliphant had found opportunity to 
form friendships which, in some cases, lasted throughout 
her life. Among these were the families of Mackworth, 
and the Longs of Rood Ashton. The ladies of the latter 
family were good correspondents. Some of Miss Flora 
Long's letters are of interest, and are here given as 
throwing side-lights on the affair of the Bristol riots at 
the time of the Reform Bill. They are addressed to Miss 
Oliphant, 9 Sion Hill, Clifton. 1 

" ASHTON, Now. 2nd 1831. 

" I longed to address my beloved Friend yesterday 
in reply to her deeply interesting letters, but I felt I had 
nothing but sympathy to offer, for no expressions of 
gratitude could adequately convey my thanks for your 
kind consideration in relieving our agitating suspense by 
such frequent and detailed reports of the awful scenes 
passing around you. I fear your dear head must be the 
sufferer ; . . . We send every evening to Trowbridge at 
the hour the Bristol coach comes in, for fresh intelligence, 

1 The Oliphants quitted one house in Clifton to accommodate Hannah More, 
who had been turned out of her " Paradise" (Barleywood) "but not by angels." 


but the reports are so exaggerated we sh d be at much 
loss what to believe, but thro' your kind and circum- 
stantial detail of the proceedings which have occurred. 
I trust in God the fury of the mad populace has now 
spent itself, and that the restraining Hand of the 
Almighty will subdue the further machinations of wicked 
ill designing men ; we cannot feel sufficiently thankful 
that dear Mr Kington and Major Mackworth have been 
preserved from material injury, few perhaps have dis- 
regarded personal safety more for the sake of the public 
peace than they have done. I hope public notice will be 
taken of Major Mackworth's 1 gallant conduct, altho' it 
is not unlikely it may be stigmatized in some of the 
leading Journals as butchery. Already several of them 
assert that the 14th Reg* behaved most inhumanly, and 
the 3rd in the most feeling and conciliatory manner. I 
should hope Colonel Brereton's 2 conduct will be the sub- 
ject of an investigation at least, altho' it may perhaps 
involve Major M. in unpleasant circumstances should 
his evidence be required. How thankful you must all 
feel that his dangerous and distressing duty has ceased. 
When he is sufficiently recruited after the great bodily 
fatigue he must have undergone, we trust our claims will 
be remembered, we shall be most anxious to hear him 
tell how fields were won altho' I hope it will not be 
necessary he should * shoulder his crutches ' you do not say 
from what weapon the injury in his leg was received, he 
little expected when he entered your peaceful habitation, 
to bear away a token of war's alarms. ... I am surprised 
at the Hensman's flight, probably the clergy have felt 
especially alarmed from the odium which attached to 
their superiors and the destruction of the Bishop's Palace 
was consequently a sort of signal for the adoption of 
Bonaparte's maxim ' sauve qui peut ' ... it must have 
been sufficiently harrasing to witness the awful conflagra- 

1 Major Mackworth was aide-de-camp to Lord Hill. He had been sent to the 
Forest of Dean to suppress riots there. Afterwards he came to Bristol after the 
mob's assault on the Mansion House. He formed the constables into detachments. 
On finding that the mob intended to fire the shipping, he said to Colonel Brereton 
" We must charge," and charged without waiting for his answer. (See Trial of 
C. Pinney, p. 301.) 

2 Colonel Brereton was in command of the 3rd Dragoons and the 14th. The 
men of the first were so much in sympathy with the mob that they were useless. 
The 14th received such treatment that Colonel Brereton withdrew them. He 
was severely criticised for this action and for his reluctance to fire upon the 
rabble. He died shortly after the riots. 


tions and to know how near you were to the frightful 
scenes which were acting. ... I hope dear Margaret's 
anxiety will now cease and that darling baby will soon 
recover, surely he should live chiefly on the Donkey's 
milk whilst there is a doubt of the other agreeing with 
him. I have thought not unfrequently of poor Mrs 
Kington Sen r who had such a presentiment of the dis- 
turbances and would have been so terrified had she known 
the dangers to which her son has been exposed it is just 
as well she is safe in Devonshire. I hope the losses sus- 
tained by the burning of the house in Queen Sq re will 
not very materially affect him, but I should fear many 
valuable documents must have been overturned in such 
bustle and confusion. From the hour in Monday night 
we heard the report from Trowbridge of the destruction 
of two sides of the Square, until we could receive your 
letter next morning, we were in the greatest anxiety lest 
all the papers and deeds might have been consumed. ..." 

" ASHTON, Nov. 4th 1831. 

" MY BELOVED FRIEND, It seemed quite a blank to 
receive no letter from you this morning, yet as affording 
confirmation to the satisfactory reports wh. now reach 
us from many quarters of the continued tranquillity of 
your unhappy city. We ought to be content and thank- 
ful ; very long must it be ere the desolation which the 
recent tragic scenes have created can be in any measure 
repaired, but I trust the demon of insubordination and 
outrage is stayed by the arm of superior force, and that 
rapine and violence will be heard of no more in that 
quarter at least. We wished your late gallant defender 
Major Mackworth had been here yesterday, when my 
dear Father (whose apprehensions are naturally on the 
qui vive from the distressing state of the country de part 
et tfautre) was more annoyed than the facts warranted, 
by information from various quarters, that some of the 
idle ill-disposed people of Trowbridge had taken up an 
impression that Sir Charles Wetherell * was concealed in 
our house and that they meant to come up in great 
numbers in the evening to search for him. We know 
what a search in these days means, or at least what it 

1 The Recorder whose coming to open the Assize at Bristol was the signal for 
the rising. He was received with insult by the populace, who thus expressed 
their disapprobation of his politics. 


will involve, plunder and violence, and altho' at any 
other time such an absurd story would have been treated 
with derision and contempt, so many idle persons are let 
loose upon the country just now, and such a bad spirit 
always exists amongst the distressed operatives of this 
neighbourhood, that my Father l grew seriously uncomfort- 
able, and was very ill pleased at any attempt of ours to 
dispel or ridicule his fears. It was late in the day before 
we heard these wild rumours, but so diligent were we in 
our preparations to receive the enemy that soon after 
dark OUT forces consisted of ten yeomanry of my Brother's 
Troop living at Steeple Ashton, and twelve able bodiec 
workmen (all prepared for the onset, had it come) beside 
the men of our own house making about 30 in th( 
garrison. The night however passed as tranquilly 
other nights have done, and I have no doubt it was one 
of the many idle reports which some people take sue! 
pleasure in magnifying. There is an assemblage of 25( 
persons on the road just by the Lodge this morning 
but they do not seem to intend violence, on the contrai 
they have sent a deputation to state they are colliers 
out of work, who are begging for relief. As this is some- 
what a suspicious class of persons one may be forgivei 
for being a little sceptical as to the truth of the story, 
but it would not be politic to refuse assistance in thes 
evil days. Lord Bath has had threatening letters, having 
made himself obnoxious by his vote, and is obliged to take 
measures of precaution in case his noble mansion shouk 
be attacked. Doubtless many bad characters must 
wandering about the country, were it only owing to the 
late dispersion of miscreants from Bristol, and village 
gossip gathers as it goes, till ' four men in Buckram suits ' 
soon became forty. 

"Mrs Ames has been under great alarm for her 
Brother's safety, and went to Clifton to bring away her 
sister-in-law, that she might no longer be a source of 
annoyance to those who wished to shelter her there. Oh 
how are the mighty fallen ! She had seen her husband 
once by stealth between Sat 7 and Tuesday unshaven and 
not having changed his clothes since that eventful day. 
I think he must have been rather of a craven spirit as 
well as the rest of the magistrates, tho' certainly there 
was cause enough for alarm. This the most painful 

1 Richard Godolphin Long of Rood Ashton. He died 1835 aged seventy-four. 


part of the history to know that life and property might 
have been spared by the timely exertions of a little 
firmness. The paper says a number of Bank notes have 
been recovered which had been taken from Mr Miles's l 
office in Queen's Square. 

" We long to know if Mr Kington is likely to suffer 

" I suppose dear Margaret will scarcely like to accom- 
pany you under existing circumstances, as it might be 
unpleasant to return alone in the dusk of the evening. 
I think we must leave Bath as early as we can to avoid 
being in the dark. 

" Do not forget to bring your little slate. I have 
often missed the encouraging text since we parted. Anne 
has one I know, but she never shares a spiritual thought 
with me, and I have no pleasure in extorting communica- 
tions of this sort. . . . Your ever tenderly attached 


" Very kind remembrances from all here to your circle 
including the dear Mackworths and a kiss to the darling 

" ASHTON, Nov r 5th 1831. 

" MY DEAREST LOVE, I cannot say I am surprised 
at the unwelcome announcement your dear letter of this 
day contains, but we are all much disappointed. I never 
saw my Father more so I think, for he anticipated Major 
Mack worth's visit with unusual interest, and I had rejoiced 
in the prospect of his hearing the present awful crisis com- 
mented upon by one whose Christian views and temper- 
ate opinions might have influenced his judgement, and 
quieted his alarms by pointing to that 'anchor of the 
soul sure and stedfast' which even the careless and the 
doubting may well be led to seek to for Refuge in 
these distressing and eventful times. But private feeling 
must yield to public duty, and I feel very thankful dear 
Major M. has a situation of command and influence, 
where his valuable services may still be useful. We are 
much surprized his name and his conduct in the late 
tragic scene are alike unnoticed in the public Prints, his 
heading the charge (which does actually seem to have 
been the turning point in the history of these dread- 
ful disturbances) must have been publicly known, yet 
no mention is made of it ; I am glad to perceive by 

1 Philip John Miles of Leigh Court. Died 1845. 


the Papers today Col. Brereton's conduct is strongly 
animadverted upon and is to become the subject of in- 
vestigation ; then, probably all particulars will be fully 
made known. 

" It seems to me this place and neighbourhood is at 
present less safe than the retreat in which you are amply 
guarded, not a day passes but some outrage or some 
threatened disturbance comes to our hearing, and altho' 
I trust the same Protection which has hitherto been 
extended to us, may be continued to our persons and 
our dwelling, a perpetual excitation is kept up in m 
Father's mind, and you have had enough alarms of late 
without sharing in those which may be imaginary 
Melksham is not in a very peaceful state, Longleat is 
threatened, and at Shepton Mallet we hear the Jail has 
been destroyed and the Prisoners let loose, besides the 
burning of Ricks in several places in this county. ... I 
am truly grieved the darling Pet is suffering and it is 
particularly annoying that Ayliffe's 1 carelessness should 
be the cause. It just shews what a thoughtless scatter- 
brained woman she is, not to be trusted out of sight . . . 
your own affec te , FLORA." 

Later in the year Miss Long writes details of a 
accident which befell James Oliphant at Gask: 

" 18 Dec. 1831. 

" I shall be particularly anxious for your dear expected 
letter in the hope it may tell us you have heard from 
James and that he has not suffered from the accident. 
It appears that in the ardour of the chase he and others 
attempted to cross the Earn, when the late rains had 
swollen it so much as to render it unsafe to ford it. 
He and the Whipper-in however found the stream too 
powerful for them, and disengaging themselves from their 
horses, James made his way to a little island in the river, 
by which he was spared the awful fate which awaited his 
companion, who sank to rise no more." 

There is a portrait 2 of James, painted by Sir Francis 

1 The devoted nurse who brought up all the Kington children. This remark 
probably applies to Ayliffe's action in holding up to a window Thomas 
Laurence Kington, the baby, that he might see the flames of burning Bristol. 
He caught a severe cold. Being about four months old, he could have derived 
neither pleasure nor profit from the scene. 

2 Now at Ardblair. 


Grant, mounted on the white horse he rode on the occa- 
sion of this adventure. The moment chosen is that when 
the laird, waving his hat, called to the English huntsman : 
" Come on ! will you let yourself be beaten by a Scot ? " 

In the year 1831 James Blair Oliphant had himself 
served heir to the title of Lord Oliphant. He was both 
heir male (as tenth in descent from Colin, Master of 
Oliphant, who fell at Flodden) and heir of line (as sixth 
in descent from Lilias, eldest daughter of the sixth lord). 
He never voted at any election as Lord Oliphant, nor took 
the final measures to establish himself in the dignity. 
He was unmarried at the time, and perhaps seeing 
difficulties ahead about the Patent of 1633, 1 which might 
in truth have debarred his claim, 2 he felt the doubtful 
result was not worth the trouble and expense entailed. 
He was the eighteenth in unbroken male succession 
from William Olifaunt, upon whom Robert Bruce 
bestowed the lands of Gasknes. 

In the prime of life, and intending to marry, he 
probably thought little of the presumptive heir, his 
nephew, in connection with the estate, though he always 
seemed interested in the group of nephews and nieces 
growing up at Charlton. 

Thomas Kington of Charlton and his wife, Margaret 
Oliphant, had five children : 

1. Thomas Laurence, born May 1831, married, 1856, 

Frances Dorothy Jebb (who died 4th November 
1902). He died at Bournemouth 8th July 1902 
without issue. 

2. Philip Oliphant, born December 1832, married, 

1859, Henrietta, daughter of William Yaldwyn 
of Blackdown, Sussex, and died at Datchet 2nd 
July 1892. Issue : one son and four daughters. 

3. James William, born 20th February 1836 and died 

at Charlton March 1836. 

4. Caroline Margaret, born 1837, married to Dr 

William Fyffe, 1862. She died at Clifton 

1 See p. 78. 

2 See article Oliphant in the Scots' Peerage, vol. vi. p. 552. 


18th December 1897. Issue : four sons and four 

5. William Miles Nairne, born 24th September 1838, 
married (1) 13th March 1871, Sophia Baker, who 
died 4th March 1881 ; (2) 12th July 1882, Ger- 
trude Urmston. He died at Montreux 21st April 
1898. Issue : four sons and seven daughters. 
Lady Nairne saw little of the nephews and niece, 
descendants of her race, the children who were destined 
to carry on the name. Her stay in Clifton lasted only a 
few months. In anxiety about the health of young Lore 
Nairne, she was advised to try the climate of Ireland, am 
at the age of sixty-five went oversea for the first time ii 
her life. The attraction lay in the fact that her husband 
was born at Drogheda. They went first to Kingstoi 
and afterwards settled in the village of Enniskerry, whei 
they remained till 1834. It seems surprising, in view 
the delicacy of the young man, that the house select* 
was so damp that Lady Nairne converted the black staii 
of moisture on the walls of the sitting-room into 
picture. Mother and son led the simplest of lives ; theii 
friends and acquaintances were mostly among thos 
whose religious views were of the same colour. The} 
saw much of Lady Powerscourt and the "gifted clergy- 
men" who assembled at Powerscourt House. To the 
young man of twenty-four, the life no doubt was vei 
dull. He had not his mother's keen interest in religioi 
life, and the final move from Ireland was made at 
request. His mother loved the country and was contei 
visiting the poor and doing what she could for Protestai 
converts, but she recognised the claims of the young lii 
that was linked with her own. 

" Perhaps few sons would have sacrificed to an ol 
Mother as Nairne has done, and I trust he has himsel 
in many respects, benefited. Besides even better thin 
the domestic life he has led is good, and I think he wil 
now prefer that still to much excitement. Should he 
marry, which would be a happy event to me, and that I 
thought it eligible to leave him, who knows but that 1 


might come to end my days here ? . . . I wish time 
and place to be nothing to me, but as He leads the 
way and appoints the time for every circumstance. If 
we do but belong to His family, all is well." 1 

Mr Rogers, when collecting materials for his memoir 
of Lady Nairne, went to Enniskerry in 1870, and in a 
letter to the then Laird of Gask gives a picture of the 
life there. He made no use of this material in his book. 

" On Saturday I drove to Enniskerry to see the 
scene of Lady Nairne's residence in this country. The 
village is clean and tidy and well built, beautifully situ- 
ated in a valley or hollow in the Wicklow Hills. In the 
immediate neighbourhood are the beautiful palaces of Lord 
Monk and Lord Powerscourt including the far-famed 
scenery on the Dargle. The spot is so lovely I should 
consider life banishment there no exile with a competency. 

" The Cottage, a semi-detached wood-bine encircled 
little residence, in which Lady Nairne lived, was at once 
pointed out to me. An old man named Abraham 
Williams, who lived opposite, I was directed to as being 
likely to give every information. He was at home. I 
found a most intelligent octogenarian. ' Well I knew 
Lady Nairne indeed, and she was as much of a leddy 
as any I ever knowed. And how's young Lord Nairne, 
Sir, is he well ? ' 

" ' Dead. He died a year or two after leaving Ennis- 

" * Ah ! I never heard. But he was very thin, very 
thin and delicate, but as fine and gentle young man as 
I ever knowed. A horse I bought for him it cost him 
thirty-five pounds, but it came down in the car one 
day, and injured its knees. His Lordship was offered 
six pounds for it by a farmer, but he took five pounds 
from me, because he said he knew I would be kind to 
it. We always called it " Lord Nairne " years and years 
after. Poor Lord Nairne, he had but small estate ! He 
often told me of the forfeiture in 1745, and he was much 
disheartened about it. But they seemed to have plenty. 
There were just five altogether, and I supplied them 
with mate and milk. They used an extraordinary lot 
of mate. How five people could consume so much I 

1 Memoir of Baroiiess Nairne, p. 60. 


never could make out.' [He enlarged on this; it had 
never occurred to him that four persons were sustained 
by her Ladyship's bounty.] ' She was a fine lady,' he 
continued, 'tall and stately, fine nose and features, and 
so simple. I often received orders from herself. Her 
servants spoke of her with great kindness. It's some 
years since she left.' 

" ' Nearly forty,' I said. 

" ' Ah, indeed ! I just was looking over her accounts 
in my books the other day, shewing how much mate she 

In 1843 mother and son were in Scotland ; in the 
autumn of that year it was determined to go abroad. 
The wish was originally Lord Nairne's, but his mother 
could not think of letting him go without her. Mrs 
Keith offered to join the party and was with them for 
a time, and also a niece, Margaret Steuart of Dalguise. 
Paris, Florence, Rome, Naples, Genoa, Interlaken, Baden 
and Mannheim were among the places visited. All the 
time Lord Nairne's health was declining. 

The following letter, written from Mannheim, 25th 
April 1836, addressed to Mrs Keith and Margaret Steuart, 
is a specimen of many letters sent home : 

" This is a prodigious sheet ; but I think it will not be 
crossed, for we are busy preparing to leave Mannheim 
and I find endless interruptions to all my doings. I had 
a letter from Rachel after yours, telling me of the baby's \ 
death. I used to think old Lady Orchill cruel for saying 
she could not be sorry when a child died, but now I 
rather agree with her. I believe she never lost one of 
her own either, so our philosophy has little merit, but 
I hope poor Margaret Kington is comforted by this 
time. ... Our first step is intended to be Baden, many 
are going from this there, I hear, which is scarcely a 
recommendation upon the whole, unless Mrs Baker is 
one. . . . There is a clergyman here now and we have 
had service for three Sundays, he is delicate, having had 
a bad fall from or with his horse while hunting, but 
yesterday he gave us a good plain evangelical sermon, 

1 James William Kingtou. He was three weeks old. 


he is called Mr Martin, an Irishman. I scarcely know 
him, and we go so soon, no matter. Nairne and he 
have called on each other. I have been really interested 
in Mrs Hannah More. I never thought half enough of 
her till now, her zeal for doing good to her Country 
and her success are really wonderful, and so much 
depth and simplicity at once, not to mention true taste 
and the sweetest temper, but I hope you read on and 
know all this, tho' I must own there is a good deal to 
wade through in the way of fine speeches that was the 
fault of the time. Her progress towards knowing the 
truth is strongly marked and I am glad Mr Roberts, 
who seems able and pious, was selected to write her 
life ; delightful to be sure that Johnson was at last 
enlightened. The review in the Quarterly of this life 
of Hannah More is provoking. 

" We have fought with our wicked landlord without 
Mr B. who was at the taking of the house. The landlords 
enmity against Dominick, from the day he chose to come 
up and abuse him, has been vehement and many a sad 
lie he has told, poor wretched animal. He called us 
all canaille, but he is not worth thinking of, but to be 
sorry for him. . . . There is service here now regularly 
for a time. I do not know if the parson makes his own 
sermons or not ; they get more serious, but he plays 
whist all the time, and goes out to parties. . . . There is 
Nairne, laughing at my crossing, which he says is cruel, 
it would be to him for he could not read it, but you 
are accustomed. He sometimes reads some of my little 
books for practice. He bids me give his kind love. I 
am in the middle of fifty things to arrange, and should 
be done. Do not know what the Nieces are about or 
James. With hasty love to you both, ever most afF. 

"C. N." 

Lady Nairne writes from Baden to Margaret Kington, 
June 1836: 

"I hope the Scotch jaunt is to take place. I am 
always glad when James has lady friends with him and 
really sorry he is so long of establishing one in that sweet 
place where he might be so useful and comfortable as a 
family man. . . . Till the romance of life is over I think 
people have no true notions of what really conduces to 


all the happiness that is permitted upon earth. If Nairne 
and he were well married what a relief it would be to 
anxious friends. ... I trust, truly trust, for guiding in 
this and all our concerns at home and abroad indeed 
as to home I do not know where that is with regard 
to us, but that does not trouble me, I often think of 
the lines on Howard : 

" ' What boots it when the high behoof is given 
Or where the ransomed spirit soars to heaven.' 

I have been much interested with Mrs H. More's Life 
her real character all that I had imagined. There is s( 
much high talent truth and simplicity that when I put 
it all together it left the impression of sublimity on 
mind. I had fancied the faults in her stile were the 
effect of effort, not, as I found, of the overflowing 
richness of her mental qualities." 

The blow that was finally to throw into shadow the 
remaining years of Carolina Nairne came upon her al 
Brussels, where she had taken a house for the winter 
of 1837, in the Rue de Lou vain. After months of pain- 
ful anxiety and agonised watching the ebb and flow of 
mortal disease in the one being she most adored, she 
stood by the deathbed of her only child. The y 
man died on 7th December. 1 He himself had hoped to 
the end. His cousin, Margaret Steuart, who was present, 
writes : 

" Probably he could never have been strong, neither 
were his worldly prospects bright. He himself comforted 
his Mother by suggesting that he was 'provided for.' 
He acknowledged that the extreme patience he showef 
was the result of prayer. His tenderness for his *M other' 
feelings was most remarkable, indeed all about him 
full of affection and grief. . . . We hardly expect tha 
dear Aunt Nairne can ever recover any degree of cheerful- 

1 Lord Nairne was buried at Brussels. Many years after, the body was taken 
up by the authorities and removed to another cemetery. The young man 
was the last of the male line of the Lords Nairne. A claim to the title through 
Robert Nairne or Mercer was successfully made after his death by Emily Jane 
Mercer Elphinstone de Flahault, Dowager Marchioness of Lansdowne. She was 
born 1819 and died 1895. The Nairne title is now merged in the Marquisate 
of Lansdowne. 


ness ; never were two beings so completely linked 

" The only son of his mother, and she was a widow ; " 
in that light his death strikes on the heart rather than 
as the last of his house to bear a title whose record includes 
all the pride of unstained honour and unquestioned heroism 
in the past. 

" No one but myself can know," she writes, 1 " what 
I have lost in my darling companion of almost thirty 
years, as none besides could witness his never - ceasing 
tenderness and confidence. Whilst I had him, the thought 
that it was a thing possible that I might lose him, would 
at times embitter to me our delightful intercourse. This, 
I know now, arose from excess of attachment, and surely 
I have much, much reason to give thanks for the grace 
that enabled me to resign him at last with the full 
conviction that all was well for him and me." 

She remained at Brussels during the first six months 
of her grief, and afterwards travelled about the Continent 
with her sister, Mrs Keith, and her nieces, Margaret 
Stewart of Bonskeid and Margaret Steuart of Dalguise. 
She did not speak of her sorrow, and her companions 
never saw her weep. 

Sorrow and changes were shared also in the family 
at home. Margaret Kington from the time of her 
marriage had suffered from ill -health. Possibly her 
married life did not bring all it had promised. In the 
large house at Charlton lived old Mrs Kington 2 and four 
unmarried daughters : Sarah, Charlotte, 3 Susanna Ann, 4 
and Emily, besides Margaret and her husband and their 
children. It was inevitable that there should be friction 
and interference, though this would be of the gentlest 
and most well-intentioned on the part of the Kington 

1 Memoirs of Baroness Nairne, p. 63. 

8 Nee Charlotte Miles, born 1775, married Mr Kington 1794. She died in 
1844. The Miles family estate was Leigh Court, near Bristol. 

3 Afterwards Mrs Hales. 

4 The only one of the family who attained old age. She died in 1879, greatly 
beloved by the nephews and niece to whom she had been a mother, and by 
a large circle of great nephews and nieces. 

2 E 


ladies. The earliest recollection of Thomas Laurence, 
the eldest boy, afterwards eleventh Laird of Cask, was 
of a scene in his babyhood, when one of his aunts, having 
unexpectedly lifted him from the floor and the toys 
with which he was playing, he stretched up both hands 
and scratched her face, and heard his mother say, " Sister, 
sister, why can't you let the child alone ? " The upbringing, 
though most gentle, most painstaking, and most religious, 
was not wholly successful ; there were too many authorities. 
When Aunt Rachel Oliphant came to visit Charlton she 
found much to disapprove, and her visit could hardly 
have caused unmixed pleasure. She writes as follows : 

"Most of the days Mr Kington gave the children 
Bible-class, for which I daily bless God, as it seemed the 
only means of usefulness granted to Laurence and Philip. 
Though the complete absence of restraint tempted the 
dear boys to give the full swing to their idleness and 
to be occupied from morning till night in the pursuit of 
amusement, there were moments when I was able to 
hold serious conversation with them. I frequently wiled 
them into my room and they always seemed interested 
when engaged in rational conversation. On one occasion 
I found them in the hall, both looking disappointed, but 
Philly crying with vexation, because as it rained heavily 
their Papa had refused to let them ride out to meet 
Sir John's hounds. Laurie was soon consoled, but Philly 
cculd not be pacified, till with my repeated intreaties he 
retired to his own room from whence he returned in half 
an hour perfectly calm and good-humoured." 

Rachel notes some signs of grace the boys read 
Henry Milner, and took notes of sermons. She thought 
Laurence regenerate, but he declined a missionary- 

Margaret was passionately devoted to her children ; 
but frequent illnesses rendered her unable to maintain 
her position as mistress of Charlton, and chief com- 
panion to the children. In 1838 her husband, her sister 
Rachel, and James Oliphant went with her to Madeira, 
but her health did not improve. In August 1839 she 

1799- 1839. 


was dangerously ill. She was removed to Teignmouth, 
where her sister Rachel remained with her to the end. 
Laurence was the only one of her children with her. 
Margaret had all her life suffered from an unreasoning 
dread of death, and as the moment approached this 
feeling did not abate. But the end came very suddenly 
and quietly. 

Mr Kington writes the same day to Dr Mayo : l 

" The foregoing letter . . . will have informed you 
of the distressing event, which has happened in my 
family, but one for which our minds have been in a 
great measure prepared, by the gradual progress of the 
disease, from which my dear departed wife has been so 
long suffering. . . . There is much mercy in the dis- 
pensation, and in the circumstances attending her dis- 
solution, when the extreme exhaustion of her bodily 
powers and her reluctance to pass over Jordan, are 
considered. The last portion of Scripture which the 
faithful Jenny repeated to dearest Margaret was the 
23 Psalm an hour before her death : she did not speak, 
but manifested by her look and gesture that she was 
able in some measure to enter into the blessed words 
which it contains." 

The funeral took place at the Kington burial-place 
at Wraxall. James Oliphant, who, having just returned 
from abroad, knew of his sister's illness, but had received 
no news of her death, was riding to Charlton. He met 
a funeral procession, and drew rein to allow it to pass, 
without knowing it was that of his sister. 

From Lynmouth Rachel writes to Mrs Mayo (just 
after Margaret's death) : 

" My poor Brother who could not take alarm in time, 
only arrived to meet the funeral procession on its way 
to the Charlton burying ground, his agony was intense : 
he is now spending a little time with us in this sweet 

" The valley of the shadow of Death she had always 
dreaded and feared to pass alone, must have been almost 

1 Headmaster of Cheam and a great friend. 


imperceptibly passed, not a groan or a struggle indicated 
the moment of the spirit's flight." 

A little later Rachel writes to the same : 

"LYNMOUTH, DEVON, 11 Oct. 1839. 

" Mr Kington has kindly spared Philip to enliven our 
party, he is the very reverse of his elder Brother in most 
respects, but tho' much inferior to Laurence in applica- 
tion, he is a far more popular character, possessing those 
engaging manners and endearing qualities in which poor 
Laurence is so eminently deficient." 

Both little boys were sent to the care of Dr Mayo 
at Cheam, where they passed several very unhappy years. 
In after life neither Laurence nor Philip cared to speak 
of these early school days. Afterwards Laurence went 
to Eton, and Philip and William to Harrow. 

The year after his sister Margaret's death, James 
Oliphant found a bride. His choice fell on his cousin, 
Henrietta Graeme 1 of Orchill. Her mother, the heiress 
of Orchill, married in 1815 James Gillespie, 2 one of the 
most successful architects of his day, and lived till 1826, 
when Henrietta became "eleventh Laird" of Orchill. 
There was one sister, Jane, 3 who died young. The 
following very happy letter is from James Blair Oliphant 
to his sister Rachel : 

GASK, Sept. 291840. 

" MY DEAR SISTER, A first announcement of so im- 
portant a step as I at present contemplate is not, I have 
felt, the time when we can cogitate sufficiently to write as 
we would wish. ... I returned from Orchill this morning 
after spending a whole week with the object of my now 
hourly meditations, and as I feel that such thoughts have 
become confirmed and more easily expressed than they 
have been in my first epistle to you regarding this coming 
event, I think it will be satisfactory to you dear Oily to 

1 Henrietta was a great grand-daughter of Louisa Nairne, wife of the eighth 
Laird of Orchill. 

2 His portrait, in full HighL ad dress, is well known as the finest work of 
Watson Gordon. It is now at Ardblair. 

3 According to her portrait, now at Ardblair, Jane lacked the attractions 
of her sister. She died 3rd January 1845. 


read them divested of the too frequent invocation or 
rather the accompaniment of a sentimentalism which 
perhaps may be natural but ought to be avoided in 
sensible love. I think I can with much truth affirm that 
one of the happiest weeks of my life has ended, for I have 
found out in the character and disposition of my dear 
Henrietta traits of feeling and affection to which I have 
hitherto been a stranger. A pure and innocent heart 
entirely at my disposal, with a mind endued with much 
more sense and judgment than I had reckoned upon. 
You will say you feel happy in the progress of my dis- 
coveries ; but still more can I count upon your affectionate 
sympathy when I mention that her heart has been for 
2 years impressed with the importance of those better 
things which the world can never give nor take away. 
She has had no one in whom to confide these secret 
workings of her pious feelings, for her step-mother is 
only provisionally a Christian, and her Father though the 
plain kind hearted person you know him to be, though 
highly correct and honourable, carries his religious pro- 
fessions not much further. Her young sister is of a 
totally different disposition from herself, but though they 
seem strongly attached to one another, the subject was 
not made common to both. ... I am fully sensible as 
I told you that the example of one so much older and 
to whom (I must say) the dear girl looks up to, as to 
the reality of some ideal perfection (which pray undeceive 
her in when you write) must have a great influence on 
her conduct. 

"Both sisters have been very much kept under by 
their foster-mama and Aunt, and to this I attribute the 
almost painful timidity which Henny evinces in company. 
To a casual observer this shyness would be put down to 
the girlish Miss, unthinking and uncaring for the topics 
under discussion. Her powers of observation however 
are great and though she has no pretensions to cleverness 
her good sense generally leads her to a right * envisage- 
ment ' of things, both as to persons, their characters and 
principles. Her Father told me the other day that he 
never had to correct her for any misdemeanour, either in 
the way of commission or omission, which certainly speaks 
well for temper and disposition. I often tell her she is 
but a Scotch lassie in her ignorance of worldly ways and 


the purity of her national accent, but who would barter 
the ingenuousness of an affectionate heart, amicable and 
sensitive to a degree, for the accomplishment (very 
pleasing I grant) of high bred enunciation. . . . You 
caught a glimpse of her face I believe the day we met 
them, so I need say no more on that head elle est assez 
bien pour moi. So write to her, dear Oily. . . . The 
Orchill party go to Edinburgh to-morrow for a week to 
give orders 1 suppose as to the trousseau. Can you give 
any idea as to the general run of items on such an 
occasion. ... I think Lady Elibank might be a good 
person to give some hints. I was asked the question the 
other day, my only bargain was that everything should 
be of premiere qualite, sober colours and well made. Is 
500 about the average cost of such necessary expenses 
or am I below the mark ? Old Gillespie Graeme is quite 
disposed to act liberally and on this account I am the 
more inclined to be moderate in my exactions, but 1 
know nothing of the subject. The only thing that I 
impress upon them all is that I am determined (D.V.) 
to live hencefortji with prudence and economy and it 
affords me real satisfaction to find that Henrietta in 
every way seconds my proposals in this respect. 1 told 
her the other day that I should look out for a pair of 
ponies for her (being fond of driving) when she immedi- 
ately refused and said that one would be sufficient and 
has almost made me promise not to get a close carriage 
for her, though I really think our winter prospects might 
be brightened by the adjunct to our future establishment. 
" I asked her what jewels she wished for, as I was 
disposed to give her any ' surprise ' in that way, she liked. 
A Bracelet and a pair of Earrings was all she asked, 
and she most religiously retains my little watch that you 
may remember my having years ago, in preference to my 
wishes of getting her a new one. These are but trifling 
circumstances but are valuable to me at least as show- 
ing the animus which they suggest. You will also con- 
gratulate me I am sure in possessing the affections of 
one who is not likely to be an expensive wife. . . . None 
of my immediate neighbours have expressed their good 
wishes in more decided terms than the old Peer of 
Strathallan and some of his family, and it certainly is 
pleasing to find the kind and staid guardian of our earlier 


years willing to foster and keep up the same genuine 
feelings towards us in our riper years and when taking 
the all-important step of settling in life. The family at 
Inchbrakie is now broken up and / hear that poor Grace 
was rather peremptorily informed that she was not to 
consider it her future home. We must hear both sides 
of the question however, before blaming so apparently 
harsh conduct in the brother. I fear his affairs are in 
the worst possible order I find Grace is left 100 a year 
which I am thankful for, as I had heard it rumoured that 
20 was to be the maximum. . . . Address to me at 
60 Great King Street Edinburgh, (the residence of the 
G. Gs. ), it will find me, as I expect to be a pretty frequent 
inmate in that quarter. Adieu, my dear and only sister." 

The following is the bridegroom's letter before his 
wedding, dated at Edinburgh, 12th October 1840: 

" The day is fixed at present for the 20th to-morrow 
week. A pink satin gown has been added to the list of 
trousseau items to do honor to your choice of colouring. 
My ideas of taste, and discernment have been so run 
upon that I verily believe 1 could set up shop as a man 
milliner, and I have been frequently obliged to leave the 
house in self-defence. ... I gave it as my opinion that 
her dress on the day should be a morning one, a costume 
which I certainly intend to adopt in my own case. The 
ceremony taking place in the country and very privately 
(only a few neighbours being invited) I believe a blue 
velvet pelisse (very dark., however] with a devant of 
white satin is chosen. I bargained for a very pretty cap 
to be worn on the occasion. . . . We propose returning 
to Orchill on Thursday and on Friday shall go to Gask . . . 
where I shall be joined by my best man little George 
Stewart, my political enemy, but in other respects one 
of my sincerest of friends. I have done nothing to the 
house except denuding some of the rooms to fit up her 
dressing-room. ... I have had Henny's pony sent over 
to Gask and I should not much wonder if we were to 
jog on in that small way during the winter." 

This marriage, which lasted for seven years, till the 
death of the laird, was happy ; but no children came to 
fill the big house of Gask. Many of the family now 


living remember Henrietta Blair Oliphant in later years, 
her vivacious dark eyes and bright complexion even in 
old age giving some idea of her youthful beauty, which 
was of the plump and rosy kind. The Scots tongue too 
remained a strongly marked characteristic. One gracious 
act which James and Henrietta did was to recall Lady 
Nairne to the home of her youth. They begged her to 
cease the weary continental wanderings and come to end 
her days among the glades of Gask. She was at first 
unwilling, and wrote to Rachel Oliphant (at St Leonards) 
from Pau, 1st January 1841 : 

" I have all but given up letter writing as I think you 
know, my dear R., but I cannot let the first day of this 
New Year pass away without conveying to you the earnest 
good wishes of our little party. . . . This morning Mr 
Medlicote called here and rather awakened our anxiety 
about you all by mentioning a contagious disorder which 
he heard from his brother has prevailed some time in 
the neighbourhood of Hastings. ... I trust the young 
Armstrongs come on well, sorry am I that poor Henry 
continues so dark, I know nothing now of the society in 
and about Durham. I hope it is improved and that by 
some means seen or unseen he may yet be awakened. 
Our own excepted, I was never more deeply interested 
than in the Spearman family. I had a very satisfactory 
letter from James since his marriage, his having a com- 
panion so much to his taste is quite a relief to my mind. 
He kindly invited me to reside with him but I think I 
quite proved to him that had I been equal to the journey 
I should have been found a load instead of an acquisition, 
however the affectionate manner in which he made the 
proposal was not lost on me." 

James Oliphant and his young wife went to Paris 
early in 1843, and from thence brought Lady Nairne home, 
where they arrived on 7th August. Lady Nairne writes l 
to Rachel Oliphant from Gask, 21st September 1843 : 

" I know how you must have sympathised with me 
on my return to this sweet place after so long and to 
me so eventful an interval. My own wish I confess 

1 Part of this letter is given in the Memoir of Baroness Nairne, p. 112. 


was decidedly never to see Scotland again, but various 
circumstances and above all dear James' kind persuasions 
turned the balance, and weak as I was, and am, strength 
was afforded, which makes me hope I am in the path of 
duty, tho I do not see clearly what use I am of in this 
world, however since I am still left, there must be both 
wisdom and love in the dispensation, more discipline is 
perhaps one reason and to me there is not a little in the 
endless recollections and associations that crowd upon me 
at every step, as well as those awakened on the arrival of 
various articles from my once too much beloved Home, 
all this is true weaning, and I ought to be thankful for it. 
In the case of other mourners it has always seemed to 
me that when there is a good hope thro grace for departed 
friends, there is something selfish in our grief and that we 
think more of ourselves than of them, 

" ' No ill can reach them now, they rest above, 
Safe in the bosom of redeeming love,' 

and in this there is solid consolation, though it does not 
remove the rod which is appointed for good. 

" For some weeks after my arrival I kept upstairs, now 
can walk a little, very little way and have several times 
had an airing, dear Henrietta driving a nice pony, and I 
do not suffer much when the Roman Road is avoided, but 
as yet the headache follows it. I have been at Church 
in the afternoon but after next Sunday there will be only 
morning service which is too long for me. . . . James 
sometimes tantalises me speaking of a Chapel where the 
old Kirk was how I should enjoy using my nice Prayer 
book that you gave me carried down there, but, if ever, 
that will not be in my time. What do you think of our 
Scottish Church now ? I have read much on both sides 
and try to be impartial, our differences seem nothing 
when compared with the evils threatened to the Church 
of England, we have need of a few excellent changes of 
the Bishops, I think Wilson, Lincoln, Winchester, these 
were in newspapers and perhaps abridged, but very 
satisfactory so far. Our friends at Steuartfield seem well, 
a bad cough which Aunt Keith took there with her is 
quite gone. . . . When M. A. Long does come home I 
wish you would ask her to write to me with a minute 
account of her children. I profited by your account 


addressed to Henrietta of the dear Kingtons, My blessings 
to them all, and kind remembrances to Mr Kington and 
all his family. Henrietta and James join and I ever am 
my dear R. your affectionate but stupid old Aunt, 

" C. NAIRNE." 

Again, 25th November, she writes to the same : 

" I almost live in my rooms and go down to the 
Drawing-room only once about 8 in the evening, when 
James generally reads to Henrietta and me till prayers. . . . 
We have been much interested in dear Mr Kington and 
trust he continues to recover, what a comfort that he is 
built upon the right foundation. I hope Miss Kington's 
is not a serious illness and that the good old lady suffers 
less. Do first time you write to the Armstrongs say 
something very kind from me. ... I loved their Mother 
very much and saw a great deal of her when quite a girl, 
and different as our ages were, she made quite a com- 
panion of me. Once upon a time she and I were left at 
Thornley (when something urgent obliged both Mr and 
Mrs Spearman to be absent) to take charge of the children, 
and her conduct towards them was very engaging. I 
have lately been fully employed in arranging old papers 
sent me fum our once dear Cottage, where the old 
letters and papers of grand and great grand fathers and 
Mothers, uncles aunts and cousins, had been deposited. 
There are letters more than a hundred years old which 
express hopes and anxieties such as our own, which has 
a striking effect, and makes life seem indeed a dream. I 
have more modern letters, which once brought gladness, 
now heaviness of heart, and must be destroyed, there 
being no one after me to whom they can have the same 
interest. There is a letter from you, my dear Rachel, 
when you were a child, and it says ' Do you know, Aunt, 
I want to have a regular correspondence with you ' and 
this letter appeared while I was longing to hear from you, 
a few weeks ago yes, it is wonderful how our souls do 
cleave to the dust, much weaning is needed. ... I find 
very few indeed of the people here who have any know- 
ledge of me except by name, but I like to hear of them 
from Henrietta, as I remember many of their grand- 
fathers and Mothers. Everything leads me back to early 
youth and all that has passed between my first and last 


abode at Gask seems as a mixed and wonderful dream 
yet mercy and Truth have followed me all the days of my 
life, and will to the end. God bless you, my dear Rachel." 

" Dec. 13th 1844. 

" I am not sure if you knew Nelly Oliphant 1 who 
died lately, her Niece Grace Graeme 2 says happily well 
prepared she has left her furniture to Grace and I am 
told 300, most of her money left to Condie about 
6000, it seems she had a talent for accumulating. 
Mrs Graeme 3 recovers slowly, dear Henrietta has seen her 
twice, George is an anxious attentive husband. I grieve 
to learn from you that young Laurence is to be removed 
from Mr Mayo's school. Mr Kington seldom writes and 
never has mentioned this circumstance. I trust it will 
be over-ruled for good, but I feel as if the happy would 
be in danger of being sacrificed to this suffering scene. 

" We are busy every evening with Luther and find it 
extremely interesting especially since his almost inspired 
character has been developed. If we had him now our 
Scottish Church would not wear the Romish aspect that 
it does, not to mention the English. ... I am thankful 
to say I still find dear Gask a Mansion of Peace." 

She writes on 19th February to Rachel Oliphant 
again, sending 20 for a charity at Bristol and 20 " to 
the interesting Armstrongs." 

"The 40 will be in your name at your Bankers in 
London. The Post waits for this so I have only time 
to say yours ever very aff. C. N. 

" You see I am alive this 19 Feb., but weak as water." 

Supported by the solace of the religious conviction 
that never had wavered all through her long life, she 
awaited the end. 

"This life is indeed a dream. It will be over soon," 
she said. She lived through the summer of 1845. Some 
pleasures remained, the simple joys of the fresh air and 

1 Helen Oliphant, daughter of " Symon," Laurence Oliphant, seventh Laird of 

2 Grace Graeme, born 1794, died 1854, daughter of the ninth Laird of 
Inchbrakie. " The Fair Maid of Craig Rossie." 

3 Marianne Drummond, daughter of Lord Strathallan, married, 1842, to George 
Graeme, the tenth Laird of Inchbrakie. 


lovely surroundings, hill and hollow, leafage and stream, 
bringing the old comfort which had been hers in child- 
hood. A great source of interest was the building of 
the little Episcopal chapel on the site of the old kirk, 
removed forty years before. The expense of the building 
was borne jointly by herself and her nephew James, the 
laird. All her life she had remained attached to the 
Episcopalian form, and the last act of her life was to 
ratify and confirm that attachment. She has left a 
memorial of it in the little chapel, her last interest on 
earth. But her large generous sympathies went out to 
the outcast ministers of the Church of Scotland, who, 
in the closing years of her life, made real sacrifices 
to maintain their principles. All that was fine in the 
Disruption movement appealed to her fine nature. Her 
charities were never-ending, and her wish to give much 
exceeded her means of giving. She sent some of her 
plate to be turned into money to help the Sustentation 
Fund of the new Free Church. To her great-niece, Mrs 
Barbour, she wrote about 

"the old forks, spoons, etc., which I shall now no more 
require. Take them to any silversmith who will give 
the value for old silver. It will be just as well if they 
are melted, as they have the crest. Of course you will 
not say where they come from." 

On 25th October, in her wheel chair, she made her 
last journey through the grounds of Gask, and with 
James Oliphant halted at the door of the chapel. 1 She 
asked James if he had arranged for the consecration. 
In reply he quoted the lines: 

" Jesus, wher'er Thy people meet, 
There they behold Thy mercy-seat ; 
Wher'er they seek Thee Thou art found 
And every place is hallowed ground." 

She said " Amen," and added : " The place will soon be 

1 The chapel was finally opened 24th March 1846. The foundation stone had 
been laid 23rd April 1845. Occasional services have been held at intervals in the 
chapel ever since. It was used only once for a wedding, that of James Maxtone 
Graham and Margaret Ethel Blair Oliphant, the present writer, on 5th September 


ready for me." Then for the last time she looked upon 
the glades and shadows of Cask and the broken walls of 
the old house, as she was wheeled back to the new. The 
next day she died. 1 There had been no death at Gask 
since that of little Harriet, the young sister whom James 
had wheeled in her chair to look at the moss roses a 
few hours before the end, twenty- three years before. To 
Carolina Nairne the end came with the same tranquillity. 

The story of her life is a story of consistent effort 
towards all things that are pure. Yet her nature was 
a dual nature on the one side the mind was that of a 
woman cast in a deeply religious but narrow mould, 
which though great in generous charities of act and 
judgment, and wide in sympathies, spent itself in further- 
ing, by every gentle and unobtrusive method possible, the 
mild evangelical aims of those whose " views " coincided 
with her own. Her other personality, that of the God- 
gifted poetess singing from the depth of uncontrollable 
inspiration, is what is left to her country and her race. 
Strongest in her youth and prime, this greater personality 
faded gradually away under the weight of her years and 
her griefs. But in both lives there never was a time when 
she was not most steadfast to the light, and most true to 
her trust. All the enthusiasms, the proud loyalties, the 
young passionate sympathies that once lit her soul, centred 
at last in a complete holiness of faith. 

No estimate of her literary work is needed now. She 
wrote little, and the best of what she wrote takes a 
place in the foremost rank of letters, among the achieve- 
ments that for ever must remain beautiful, new, and 
appealing. Her voice has survived the fluctuations of 
taste and feeling in the public mind for a hundred years, 
and has never suffered eclipse. For a hundred years the 
voices of her country people have sung "The Land o' 
the Leal " and " Caller Herrin'." Generations yet to 
come will sing them still. They belong to the heart 
of humanity. 

1 Lady Nairne was buried in the Chapel at Gask. A cross was raised to her 
memory in the grounds by her grand-nephew, the eleventh Laird of Gask. 



THE tenth Laird of Gask, head of the male line of the 
descendants of William Oliphant of Newton, and of 
unbroken male descent from the first Lord Oliphant, was 
fated to die without children. He outlived Lady Nairne 
only two years, but was not fortunate, like her, in ending 
his days in the place most beloved. Though only forty- 
four, his health had for some time been an anxiety to 
himself and his friends. In the autumn of 1847, 1 he 
and his wife left Gask to try the effect of the milder 
climate of Leamington. On 22nd November he wrote 
to Rachel : 

"We have a nice small lodging in this crescent (8, 
Lansdown Crescent) which is out of the bustle of the 
town and almost claims credit of being in the country 
from its retiring locale within half a minutes walk of 
the private allies and promenades which the environs 
of this sweet place afford. The effect that this change 
of air has had upon me is rather weakening than other- 
wise. ... I do not know whether Doctor Jephson 2 has 
over - rated his estimate of my ailments, but I must 
confess that his almost inattention by delaying his visits, 
and the passing thought that he bestows upon my case 
when I go to his house for the consultations makes me 
believe that they are more of a trivial nature than I 
was led to suppose ... it seems to me as if he did not 
treat the case con amore." 

1 In September his Aunt Margaret, Mrs Keith of Ravelstone, died at Clevedon 
in Somersetshire, and was buried in the Kington vault at Wraxall. She was 
the last survivor of the seven children of the " young Jacobite laird " and his 
wife, Margaret Robertson of Strowan. 

2 A medical man, whose advice was much sought at the time by various Perth- 
shire lairds. 



Another letter to Rachel, written from Leamington 
on 3rd December 1847, was probably the last he ever 
wrote. He never " cleared the distance " to Scotland. 

"SrdDec. '47. 

" MY DEAR SISTER, Your very kind offer of a welcome 
at the Grove has arrived rather late for our taking advan- 
tage of it, since my last visit to Dr J. was an index 
which we looked for as sanctioning our journey North- 
ward in the course of next week (D.V.). We shall not 
be sorry to wend our steps Gaskward, for I do not 
think this place agrees with me, though I think I have 
derived benefit from the Dr.'s advice but neither the 
climate nor the waters have the least credit for bring- 
ing about the change I look forward to a good hard 
frost as a greater panacea than aught else for my com- 
plete restoration to health and strength, if God so wills 
it. We shall therefore D.V. bid adieu to these parts 
next week and return with renewed pleasure to our 
peaceful and happy home. I should have liked to have 
seen the Boys 1 had that been possible but must look 
forward to their paying us a visit at Gask, if permitted 
so to do in the Summer vacation a more propitious 
season for visiting than the present one. 

"This is a sad muddy day w h does not at all suit 
my nervous system. I shall be thankful to be off again 
from the place they say they can clear the distance to 
Edinburgh in one day. Farewell, my dear R., Y r affect** 6 
brother, JA. BLAIR OLIPHANT." 

The end came suddenly on 7th December. The 
following letter from his brother-in-law, Thomas Kington, 
to Rachel gives all the particulars now known : 

' ( LEAMINGTON, Deer. 12th '47. 

" MY DEAR SISTER, In accordance with the arrange- 
ment made with Mrs T. I left Bristol for this place at 
4 last evening and arrived at 8 on coming to this hotel 
I found all the sad circumstances well known, and that 
this dispensation had created much sympathy. After 
hearing that Mrs O. had left on Thursday for Gask with 
Mr Oct s Winston (the Author) and that the remains 

1 His nephews the Kingtons. 


of your poor Brother were sent away on Friday, I went 
to the scene of the sad event and there learnt all the 
circumstances which are briefly as follows The dear 
deceased had fully made up his mind to start on 
Wednesday for Scotland, and had been occupied in see- 
ing his friends and paying bills all the morning, about 
4 o'clock he came in and was in the drawing room with 
Mrs O. and the Hurrays who were paying a visit: He 
suddenly left the room, and after the visitors had departed 
Mrs O. called for him in vain The butler at length 
found him, evidently under the influence of a fit, and 
not able to articulate assistance being procured they 
removed the almost lifeless body to the adjoining room 
and there he breathed his last about 6 o'clock just an 
hour after the first discovery of his situation. He was 
apparently conscious to the last, but only uttered the 
word ' Lord ' once. He showed by signs that he partly 
knew what was said. He was asked more than once 
if he recognized the Lord's hand in such an inscrutable 
affliction, to which he replied by a sign which could not 
be mistaken. Poor Mrs Oliphant had been compelled 
to quit the dreadful scene Jephson was with him and 
every endeavour to restore animation was used ; but the 
decree had gone forth, and the result was an apoplectic 
seizure. The Landlady describes the whole scene as 
awfully sudden and terrible. I saw Jephson this morn- 
ing and went to Church with him. He was kind and 
communicative. He had predicted this result of your 
brother's illness in Sept 1 , and has no doubt the improper 
exposure to cold on Tuesday, hastened the catastrophe. 
At one o'clock the same day he told the D r he had 
not felt so well for months and was in great spirits at 
the idea of going home. Little did he then think 
that his spirit was on the eve of its flight to the upper 
world. Mr Winston told me he had a deeply interest- 
ing and searching conversation with your Brother between 
one and two on Tuesday, in which he opened his mind 
to him in a remarkable manner his deep humility being 
especially apparent. Your Brother received the Sacra- 
ment at Dr Marsh's Church on Sunday last 1 I hope to 
hear Mr Winston this evening he preached a sermon 
this morning in reference to this melancholy event text 
Isai. 26, * Thou shalt keep him in perfect peace, etc.' 


" Dr Jephson feels nearly certain that we shall find a 

" This must be expected from one who wished for sudden 
death, which I hear was the case." 

The body of James Oliphant was brought to Gask, 
and on 17th December laid within the little chapel before 
the altar, close to the grave of Lady Nairne, where they 
sleep amid the dust of scores of their ancestors. Only 
once more after this was the chapel opened to allow a 
burial, when, after nearly forty years of widowhood, 
Henrietta Blair Oliphant was laid beside her husband 
in 1886. 

The short seven years of married life had been, in a 
sense, happy to James and his wife. Yet according to 
the letters of Rachel, now his only sister, they lived in a 
state of thraldom, under the rule of certain servants, who 
held an undefined position in the family, and this con- 
dition of affairs was so marked and so uncomfortable that 
after one visit in 1844 Rachel never returned to her 
brother's house. There was certainly no love lost between 
the sisters-in-law, in whose ardent religious professions 
was apparently no room for love and toleration. In 
Rachel's letters she habitually refers to her brother's wife, 
and the general conditions at Gask, as this humbling dis- 
pensation. When in the general confusion and consterna- 
tion caused by the last will of James, Rachel unearthed 
the fact that her brother, between 1834 and 1837, had 
formed an attachment in Scotland, and was the father 
of children, her anxiety, even in the midst of pious horror, 
was to set on foot an enquiry to prove, if possible, an 
irregular marriage, and so produce a legitimate heir, to 
the utter confusion and undoing of her brother's widow. 
But the matter was hushed up, and except in one letter 
from Rachel, no record remains of the discovery. 

Mr Kington was right in his surmise regarding a will. 
James Oliphant had left a will of which the remarkable 
provisions furnished a great deal of trouble to the family 
and a great deal of work for lawyers. But nothing took 



effect in the lifetime of his sister Rachel, who lived till 
1864. James provided for his wife, leaving her the life- 
rent of the house and policies of Gask, and an annuity 
out of the estate. But to his sister Rachel he left the 
bulk of the liferent of the estate. He appointed four 
trustees to carry out the provisions of his will : Lord 
Elibank, the Master of Strathallan, George Graeme of 
Inchbrakie, and William MacDonald of St Martins. 
The estate of Ardblair, his mother's property, was to 
be sold to pay off the debt on Gask. Rachel, however, 
successfully contested his power to alienate Ardblair, and 
ultimately resigned her right to the rents of Gask and 
established her claim indisputably to the smaller estate. 
On her death in 1864 she bequeathed Ardblair to her 
eldest nephew, Thomas Laurence Kington, but with the 
proviso that on coming into possession of Gask, it was to 
pass to the next brother, Philip Kington. 

The will was dated 29th August 1846, and destined 
the estate, after the heirs of his body, 

" to the heirs male of the body of the deceased Dr James 
Oliphant, eldest son of the deceased James Oliphant who 
was younger son of the deceased James Oliphant of Gask, 
my great-great-grandfather, the said Dr James Oliphant 
being cousin-german to the deceased Laurence Oliphant 
of Gask, my grandfather, and the heir to whom the estate 
of Gask was destined by my said Grandfather failing the 
heirs of his own body ; whom failing to my heirs male 
whomsoever, whom all failing to my own heirs whomso- 
ever and their assignees." 

This James Oliphant, whose heirs were thus to 
succeed to Gask in preference to the children of the 
testator's own sister, was born in 1699. 1 Trace of his 
heirs had long been lost. James Blair Oliphant, still a 
young man when he made his will, and with a young 
wife, had, of course, not relinquished hopes of an heir 
himself. He had, to an unreasonable degree, the feeling, 
that died so hard in feudal Scotland, of the inviolability 

1 For the account of his life, see p. 163. 


of male succession in a family. His will is evidence of 
this sentiment carried to an extreme. Doubtless he 
expected to leave his land to children of his own. He 
could have had no personal grudge against his sister 
Margaret Kington's children ; the eldest boy, Laurence, 
was only sixteen when the will was made. 

It was, however, made so as to exclude him effectu- 
ally. No male heirs of his forefather James Oliphant 
being discoverable, there still remained the barrier of 
"the heirs male whomsoever." A glance at the family 
tree shows what a very wide field of enquiry was here 

The trustees of James Blair Oliphant are supposed to 
have made extensive investigations in order to discover 
whether there existed any person entitled to the character 
of heir male of the body of the long dead James Oliphant 
mentioned in the deed of entail, or to the heir male 
whomsoever of the testator. They instituted a search, 
extending back to the middle of the sixteenth century, 
in the public records and private papers of the Cask 
family, but without result. They also for several years 
advertised in Scottish, English, Colonial, and American 
newspapers, calling upon any person having a right to 
either of these characters to come forward and sub- 
stantiate their pretensions. Needless to say, various 
claimants came forward, but none with so strong a 
claim as the family of the Oliphants of Condie. 

Laurence Oliphant, eighth Laird of Condie, believed 
himself to be the nearest lawful heir male of the testator 
James Blair Oliphant, and on llth August 1848 he 
obtained decree of service in absence before the Sheriff 
of Perthshire, decerning him nearest and lawful heir- 

The descent claimed was through William Oliphant, 
the second son of that Colin, Master of Oliphant, who fell 
at Flodden. The eldest son of the Master was the third 
Lord Oliphant. It will be recalled that William Oliphant 
married Margaret, eldest daughter of Andrew Oliphant 
of Berriedale. The children of this marriage were five 


sons. From Laurence, the eldest, the Oliphants of Gask 
descend. John was the second son ; the name of the third 
son has never been positively ascertained ; the fourth was 
Colin, and the fifth Andrew. 

The son through whom the Oliphants of Condie claim 
descent was the nameless third son. Endeavours were 
made to prove that this third son was Alexander, Albany 
Herald, and that his son was the first Laird of Condie. 
But through all the years of research and litigation, 
no evidence could be obtained that the Albany Herald 
was a son of William Oliphant of Newton. It is, 
however, certain that William Oliphant was designed 
"guidsyr" to the first Oliphant of Condie, and this 
would have been accepted as proof, but for the fact that 
the Herald had, before 1565, married Janet Oliphant, so 
that the relationship might have been on the mother's 
side. Notices of Alexander Oliphant, Albany Herald, 1 
are numerous in old deeds. In these he is either styled 
" Albany Herald," or " occupier of Lord Oliphant's lands 
in the east end of Lammerkin Wood," or "Albany 
Herald in Lammerkin." He is also called " Albany 
Herald and servitor to Lord Oliphant " and " household 
and domestic servant of Lord Oliphant,"- -but he is 
never, in any document, designed as a son of William 
Oliphant of Newton, or as a relation to Lord Oliphant. 
In a deed dated 19th December 1586 William Oliphant 
of Newton bound himself to infeft his son Laurence 
and heirs male of his body, whom failing his son John 
and his heirs male in the lands of Newton. Alexander 
Oliphant, Albany Herald, and Colin Oliphant, his son, 
are mentioned in this deed, as heritable creditors holding 
a small annual rent of six bolls three firlots, affecting 
the lands of Newton, but no reference is made to any 
relationship between them and William Oliphant and 
his sons Laurence and John. In other deeds, it is proved 
that the first Oliphant of Condie, son of Alexander 

1 Alexander Oliphant was also Clerk of the Cocquet and Searcher of the Burgh 
of Perth. He was appointed to the latter office by James VI., on account of the 
"good true thankful service to his Majesty and his predecessors." 


Oliphant, Albany Herald, was a servitor to Mr William 
Oliphant of Newton, Advocate. Thus the claim of 
Condie was from the first defective in one essential 
point, namely, in establishing the connection of the 
first Oliphant of Condie with the alleged common 
ancestor of both families. 

Nevertheless, the case dragged on for twenty years. 
The eighth Laird of Condie, Mr Laurence Oliphant, 
died in 1862, while it was still in progress, and the case 
was continued on behalf of his son, the ninth laird, then 
a minor. How long it might have gone on no one 
knows ; the discovery of a Dutchman's claim to the 
estate brought it to an end, and the Condie case was 
dropped from the Debate Roll in 1867. 

The death of Rachel Oliphant in 1864 was a turning- 
point in the affairs of Cask. At about this time, seventeen 
years after the death of the testator, a nearer claimant 
than Condie appeared in the field. A Dutchman, Carl 
Naret Oliphant, 1 residing at Ley den, brought forward 
undeniable proofs of direct descent in the male line 
from William Oliphant of Orchardmill, brother of the 
first Laird of Cask. If his connection stood the test of 
rigid enquiry there could be no doubt as to his right to 
the estate. The particulars of his story are as follows : 

Laurence Oliphant, the first Laird of Gask, had a 
brother William, who married Janet Cuthbert. He 
was a Burgess of Perth in 1618. He had two sons, 
Laurence, and William (who died without children, 
1666). Laurence married Catherine Murray, and had 
five children Laurence, James, William, George, and 
Margaret. Of these the third son, William, became a 
merchant in Perth and married Ann Duncan. There 
were four children of this marriage Andrew, Grizel, 
John, and Margaret. John, born in 1677, was Dean of 
Guild in Dundee. He married Elizabeth Craigie, had 
several children, and settled in Rotterdam with his 

1 It is said that the celebrated writer and mystic, Laurence Oliphant of the 
Condie branch of the family, was the means of discovering the Dutch claimant to 
the Gask estate. 


family. In July 1723 John Oliphant and his wife, 
Elizabeth, with six children, are admitted citizens of 
Rotterdam for one year. During that year the wife, 
Elizabeth Craigie, died. James Oliphant, the youngest 
child of the family, lived in Rotterdam, but removed to 
Leyden, where he married Catherine de Graaw. James 
was a perukemaker. In 1775 he is discharged from the 
guard at Leyden as being sixty years of age. He died 
22nd July 1797. James and Catherine de Graaw had 
two sons James, a professor of Latin (who died child- 
less, 1815), and Nicholas, born 20th January 1750, who 
married in 1778 Anna Maria Naret. Their children were 
Carl Naret Oliphant, born 1783, and a daughter Maria. 1 
Nicholas died 25th August 1797, within a month of his 
father's demise. Carl Naret Oliphant, sixty-seven years 
later, was the claimant to the Gask estates. He was 
married and had two children, a daughter, Jeannette 
Madeline, 2 and a son, Charles Agathon Guillaume. At 
the time of coming forward as claimants the father 
was a* very old man, being over eighty. The son 
was married and had a daughter, Wilhelmina Agatha 
Oliphant, 8 but no legitimate son. 

As far as their own descent proved, this Dutch family 
stood a very good chance of succeeding to the estate of 
Gask. It is, however, a little difficult to believe that no 
nearer heirs existed. Whether the trustees had taken 
trouble to exhaust the male line of the Oliphants of 
Ure and the Oliphants of Souterton, before admitting 
the claims of so very distant a branch, may be questioned. 
Nor do the family papers show why the Oliphants 
of Leyden waited seventeen years before coming 
forward to make their claim. At all events, while 
Thomas Laurence Kington (who on succeeding to the 

1 These two gave testimony that they lived with their grandfather as children, 
and heard him say that his father had fled from Scotland after the Rebellion in 

2 Jeannette Madeline Oliphant married Professor Cobet and had three 
children, one daughter, Mary, being married to H. P. Staal, a lieutenant in the 
Dutch service. 

8 Wilhelmina Agatha Oliphant married in 1867 Gustaaf August Rodenburg 
Hellmund, merchant in Cura9oa. She had a son and a daughter. 


estate of Ardblair in 1864 assumed the surname Blair- 
Oliphant) and Mr Oliphant of Condie were still con- 
tending as heirs, and while their proceedings were in 
dependence, Carl Naret Oliphant of Ley den intimated 
that he believed himself to be heir-male, and so heir of 
entail, to the late James Blair Oliphant. An examina- 
tion of his pretensions convinced the lawyers that he 
had at least a very strong case. Both Dutchmen came 
over to London to make good their claim. They were 
kindly received by members of the Cask family, and 
proved themselves to be upright, honourable, and reason- 
able men. The father was a very old man, the son also 
well advanced in years and in bad health. To avoid 
litigation 1 they resolved to make an arrangement with 
Thomas Laurence Kington Blair Oliphant, who made up 
his title to Gask and conveyed it to trustees, the purpose 
of the trust being to provide to the two Dutchmen 
the greater part of the income of the estate of Gask 
receivable during their lives, leaving a small portion to 
go towards the reduction of the debt on the estate. On 
the death of the last survivor of the two, the trust 
was to terminate, and Thomas Laurence Kington Blair 
Oliphant was to possess the estate. 

All this happened in 1865 and the year following. 
The son Charles paid a visit to Gask, of which only one 
glimpse is obtainable in the family papers, in an unsigned 
letter written in a strange hand : 

" Colonel Hunter is here bringing us a deal of news 
from Gask. The Dutchman is living with Mrs Oliphant, 
has given her new seats in the church, and wishes to do 
everything that Mrs Oliphant would have done, Mr 
Peacock 2 with him. He is the landlord, visiting all the 
tenants in his carriage. Mrs Oliphant is so delighted 
with her guest, quite excited. Mind, this is no gossip, 
Colonel Hunter says, for he asked Mrs Oliphant if he 
was to repeat it, and she said ' Certainly.' Mrs Oliphant 
seems to be entirely superseded. The Dutchman only 

1 T. L. K. Oliphant's negotiations with the Dutchmen cost him 2000. 

2 Messrs Skene & Peacock, W.S. were the lawyers in Edinhurgh employed 
in the Dutchmen's case. 


wishes to know how he can serve Mrs Oliphant and the 
people on the Estate. He is rich, 1 his daughter married, 
so they have plenty of money and no cares. She was 
asked to say what she wished, so she named Gates, so 
as to keep strangers out of the Polissy and mill-dam, 
which he and Peacock went to look at. She should not 
mind the expense, only must see that anything he did, 
did not entail borrowing on his succeeding. All the 
Tenants are so pleased with him and his liberality and 
he takes on as their landlord and means to come back 
next year to see them all. Mrs Oliphant was dressed 
up and radiant with pleasure." 

The truth was that Henrietta Oliphant had no attach- 
ment to the Kington family at this time. Their cause 
was zealously but indiscreetly championed by her sister- 
in-law, Rachel, for whom she had an active dislike. 
When an heir appeared, though so remote a connection, 
she was ready to welcome him as one who would succeed 
under the will of her revered husband, and enable the 
terms of that will to be strictly carried out. The negotia- 
tions which ended in her husband's nephew succeeding 
as eleventh Laird of Gask must have been distasteful to 
her. She would have preferred the line of the Dutchmen. 

Neither of the Oliphants of Leyden had any wish to 
live at Gask, where the house, indeed, was not available, 
for the widow, Mrs Oliphant, was in occupation, and had 
the liferent. They professed themselves satisfied with the 
terms that gave them the rents, and no doubt the bargain 
might have been satisfactory to them both. Fortune, 
however, was not on their side. A year after the contract 
was made, in September 1867, the old man, Carl Naret 
Oliphant, died. In less than a year after, his son followed 
him to the grave. 

The story of the Dutch Oliphants is too strange and 
romantic for fiction ; such unexpected twists of fortune 
belong rather to actual life. In humble circumstances, 
their immediate ancestor being a wig-maker in the city 
of Leyden, the family seemed unlikely ever to be lifted 

1 A mistaken idea. 


from the level of the commonplace. In a remote past, 
of which they sometimes spoke, was a tradition of Scottish 
ancestry. But the family had been away from Scotland 
for a hundred and forty years. In a hundred and forty 
years the tradition of a strain of blood would grow very 
confused indeed, when interests, trades, speech, and 
marriages had for generations been Dutch. Old Carl 
Naret Oliphant lived his humble and obscure life nearly 
to its end before the prospect suddenly opened before 
him of wealth in a strange land. It must have seemed 
like a dream, this unexpected lifting of his family out of 
the simple conditions of Dutch tradesmen into inheritors 
of ancient lands far away. The dream came true. For 
one year he lived in affluence as the real possessor of 
Gask ; for a year longer his son succeeded. Then death 
came, and the reign of the Dutch Oliphants was at an 

When the idea was first suggested to the old man 
to trace his connection with the Scottish Oliphants is 
not now known. It must certainly have taken a long 
time to get together all the irrefutable written evidence 
of his own descent from the brother of the first 
Laird of Gask, which was produced when he made his 
claim. But besides proving his descent, he would have 
to extinguish a series of elder brothers' families in 
successive generations. William, the merchant in Perth, 
for instance, was only a third son, and in the next 
generation another ancestor, John, born 1677, was a 
second son. James Oliphant, Carl Naret's own grand- 
father, was the youngest of six children. Strange indeed 
was the combination of circumstances that placed his 
name at the head of the ancient family. The whole story 
is strange and not to be easily understood. A question 
arises as to the Dutchman's remarkable abandonment of 
his ultimate right to dispose of the estate of Gask as he 
pleased. Why did he and his son agree to compound 
with Thomas Laurence Kington Blair Oliphant, 1 giving 

1 " Blair " was dropped from his surname in 1867 when the estate of 
Ardblair was passed on to his brother Philip Kington, who then assumed the 
surname Blair Oliphant 


up all rights and interest in the property after their own 
deaths, thus disinheriting any descendants they had or 
might have ? Why did both sign away their inheritance, 
leaving widows and a child almost in penury? 1 There 
is no rational explanation of all this, except in the 
suspicion that theirs was not an unchallengeable right, 
that due search had not been made to exhaust all possible 
lines with prior claims, and that the two men made the 
best bargain they could with a claim that might be over- 
set if efforts were made to unearth a nearer heir. The 
nearer heir, however, has never been found, and on 
the death of Charles Agathon Guillaume Oliphant, the 
nephew of the testator, after twenty years of litigation, 
took possession of the estate, which thus for the first 
time descended through the female line. 

While in the Law Courts the fight went on, and 
arguments and contentions ebbed and flowed through 
the long years of interminable proceedings, of endless 
research, nothing could touch or break in upon the 
dignity and peace of the house of Cask, where the widow 
of the last laird reigned alone for forty years. At his 
death, the long dark years closed in upon the house and 
upon the young life that would not stir from the shadow. 
With drawn blinds, like a face without eyes and with- 
out expression, the cold house showed a faint stir of 
life, dim signs of human hopes and energies still alight 
in the gloom, as the long widowhood of Henrietta wrote 
its history on the glades of Gask. She was only twenty- 
eight when the death of her husband left her desolate, 
with the burdensome liferent of a home much too large 
for her, and no experience of life to teach her how to 
develop the best of her inheritance. It would have 
seemed most natural and most happy for her to leave 
Gask and to have returned to her own old home. Some 
years after her widowhood she succeeded to the Orchill 
estate, as sole heir of her mother, upon the death of 
her father, Gillespie Graeme, who had liferented it. But 
her temperament was not one that could content itself 

1 T. L. K. Oliphant gave 1000 in support of the two Dutch widows. 


with a memory, and turn into other paths. She sold 
the estate of Orchill 1 in 1865, and lived on at Cask in 
the loneliness and silence. She would not close the 
chapter, and although she lived on for many a year, 
she never did close it. Through youth and middle age, 
till old age and death overtook her, she lived in the 
awed silence of a house of mourning. The small 
personal belongings of her husband, scattered about the 
house, were left just as he had used them when he 
left Gask for the last time. Some members of the 
present generation of the family well remember, as 
children, the awed feeling of the first approach to the 
house with the closed blinds, then of entering the cold 
hall, where Uncle James's sticks, whips, and hats still 
kept a ghostly place. No one was allowed upstairs, or 
indeed into any room but the drawing-room and dining- 
room. Well remembered, too, is her kindly welcome, 
in the good Scots tongue that her husband had pro- 
nounced no defect, her round, rosy, comely face all smiles 
for the young people, the grandchildren of James's sister, 
Margaret Kington. Tea would be set in the dining-room, 
a ceremonious meal. Afterwards all moved to the draw- 
ing-room, and then came the crowning joy of the visit ; 
the blinds would be drawn up the little figure stands 
out clearly in remembrance performing this unusual 
rite and the box of Jacobite relics would be brought 
out, and one by one the dear faded memorials of Prince 
Charlie handled with love and reverence his bonnet, 2 his 
brogues, 8 the lock of his long fair hair, 4 his white cockade, 5 
the spurs' he exchanged with the Auld Laird, the 

1 Orchill had been in the hands of the Graeme family since 1560. 

2 A blue lowland bonnet with a small red tuft given by the Prince to Sir 
Stewart Thriepland, who medically attended him. 

3 The pair the Prince discarded in Kingsburgh's house. Kingsburgh gave 
them to Flora MacDonald, who gave them to James Moray of Abercairny, who 
in turn gave them to Laurence Oliphant of Gask. 

4 Given to Marjory Robertson of Strowan the day it was cut by John 
Stewart, the Prince's attendant. 

5 Embroidered in silver. A paper is attached bearing the words " Wore by 
the King 1745." 

6 A pair of steel - plated spurs worn by the King when Prince Regent at 
Perth, September 1745, then given to Gask. Gask in exchange gave a pair of 
silver spurs. 


drawing 1 he made as a child. After they were all 2 put 
away again, Aunt Henrietta would move to the old grand 
piano and sing ; it was generally the same song, " Tak 
ye' re auld cloak about ye" Then sometimes she would 
be persuaded to take the keys of the chapel, and we sat 
in the cool twilight there while she played the organ 
and sang the hymns she loved in a high thin voice. The 
little organ was the chief solace of her lonely days, and 
many hours she spent in company with her dead, going 
back to the house when the dusk fell, through the deep 
thickets and overhung glades. 

Unforgotten, too, is the figure of Aunt Henrietta, 
irresistibly suggestive of Queen Victoria in her little 
black bonnet and white strings, well known in all the 
countryside, as she drove her low pony carriage with the 
brown ponies Romeo and Juliet, using a whip with a 
parasol affixed. On Sundays this equipage carried her 
to the Free Church at the village of Aberuthven the 
one break in a day kept with dismal strictness. Once, 
it is said, the front door bell rang on a Sunday afternoon. 
The agitated butler hurried to the door and found an 
Orchill relative, who had walked many miles in order 
to call upon his cousin. The butler asked for his card, 
and left him standing on the doorstep. In a short time 
he returned, and handing the visitor back his card re- 
marked : " The lady doesna know ye, and receives no 
one on the Sawbath." 

This butler was also the coachman and general 
factotum. His reign was autocratic. " Ye canna to 
Perth to-day, for I'm awa' masel," was a frequent remark, 
and he was overheard to reply to an order for the 
carriage, " Look up at the clouds and ask yersel' is this 
a day for pleasurin' ? " 

1 " Head drawn by the King when a boy, given by Mr Edgar, the late King's 
Secretary, to John Edgar, Esq., of Rath well, when at Rome, and sent by him to 
Cask to Mr Oliphant the 14th July 1787." 

2 There were many other relics, including the table at which the Prince 
breakfasted on llth September 1745. All were bequeathed by the last Laird of 
Gask to the Society of Antiquaries in Edinburgh, who generously refused the 
bequest, and the relics remain in the family and are now at Ardblair. 


As time went on she was almost completely dominated 
by her servants, and, submitting more and more to the 
thraldom begun in earlier days, lived in that fatal sub- 
jection till the very end, when she died alone in their 
hands. In old age her nature and affections expanded, 
but it was too late to struggle for freedom. 

She never had a child, or any keen joy in life, except 
the memory of her seven years of married happiness, 
and even these had been tempered with the growing 
sense of disappointment as time went by and no child 
came. Her pleasures and interests circled in the 
narrowest boundaries that ever enclosed a human soul. 
Her kindness was unfailing, her charities generous, her 
nature simple and frank, but beyond constituting her- 
self a perpetual adorer at the shrine of the memory of 
James, she could not rise to form anything that could 
be called a life for herself. Gask was the haunt of 
memories. She made others see it in that light, and the 
shadow of her forty years of loneliness will never be 
lifted in thought from the associations of the place. 

In the woods and grounds under her sway nothing 
was touched, no branch pruned, no undergrowth thinned. 
To young eyes it offered the fascination of a tangled forest, 
rich in mysterious charm. The dark shadows of the 
place, the wild sweet disorder, the drifts of sunshine 
piercing the branches of yew and holly, and thrown 
across arch and glade, the sense of mystery round the 
ruins of the old house and the old graves clustered about 
the little chapel, all who remember the charm of 
these, keep it in a shrine of remembrance and wistful 
regret. There have been improvements since, necessary 
no doubt; but nothing in the ordered beauty of Gask 
grounds, as seen to-day, displaces in the memory the 
look of the neglected groves and recesses, the deep secret 
shadows of brake and pathway, the profound sense of 
sorrow and of peace. 

These calm days of Gask lasted until the gentle 
presence of Henrietta Blair Oliphant vanished. In the 
most lonely circumstances she looked her last on the 


world. Young relatives, in pity and distress at the utter 
loneliness of her prospects for that winter and her 
obviously failing health, offered to remain at Gask with 
her to relieve the long dull months. Very wistfully 
she admitted that the proposal was pleasant, but after 
a delay, asked for, no doubt, to give her time to consult 
her masters in the household, she sorrowfully said it was 
not possible. A month before her death she stayed for 
a week at Cultoquhey an unwonted gaiety in her sober 
life taking with her a favourite great-niece, Lilian Blair 
Oliphant. She was happy and in good spirits, but not 
well in health. The end came suddenly from heart failure 
on 9th December 1886. 

All who knew Gask felt that a chapter had closed in 
her death. She belonged to the old type of Scotswomen 
now fast disappearing, never to revive. Beyond her own 
home she was not known, but in many a poor cottage 
at Gask her help, her kindly interest and sympathy, were 
deeply missed. She was laid beside her husband within 
the little chapel at Gask, the last to be buried inside 
the walls. 

Some familiar figures rise to the memory belonging 
to Gask. Chief among these is that of Mr Martin, for 
years the minister of Gask. He succeeded Mr Young, 
who, as has been recorded, was a close friend of the 
Oliphants, a chosen confidant not easily replaced. Gask 
was again particularly fortunate in the choice of a minister. 
Mr Martin was the ideal of a parish priest, one to whom 
the people would carry their joys and adversities, and on 
whose judgment they would rely. His death in 1907 left 
a great blank. His kindly presence and warm interest in 
the rising generation of Oliphants will always be grate- 
fully remembered. 

William Keir, the head-keeper, was a personage who 
also will be held in kindliest remembrance by those 
who knew him. Members of the present generation of 
the family he faithfully served during a long life, recall 
with pleasure the happy hours spent in his home at the 
Lodge, where his daughter, Jessie, who kept his house, 


was always ready to teach the fascinating art of tying 
salmon flies. Happy and exciting days on the river 
with Keir keep a special niche in recollections of Gask. 
Many a young keeper in Perthshire owes success in life 
to his excellent training. His keenness for sport lasted 
all his life, but besides being a noted sportsman, he had 
a delightful and genial personality, a kindly open-hearted- 
ness to which no one appealed in vain. To the young 
people of the family, Gask never seemed quite the same 
after Keir died. 

There remains only to be told the record of the 
eleventh and last Laird of Gask, Thomas Laurence 
Kington Oliphant, the nephew of the tenth laird. 

It has been shown that his life did not start 
prosperously. Brought up in the natural supposition 
that he was to be his uncle's heir, he was sixteen when 
the blow fell, and Uncle James's will made plain that 
only by a highly unlikely combination of circumstances 
could the boy inherit Gask. All his youth, all his 
young manhood was passed under the galling anxieties 
of litigation. Those who know what twenty years of 
litigation means, in wear of spirits and temper, can 
judge if these early years were happy. After leaving 
Cheam, he went to Eton, and in 1850, at the age of 
eighteen, matriculated at Balliol College, Oxford. He 
took his B.A. degree in 1854, and his M.A. degree in 
1858, and in the same year became a barrister-at-law 
of the Inner Temple. In that profession, however, he 
never made progress. The bent of his mind was towards 
the study of history and philology. His first book, the 
Life of Frederick II., Emperor of the Romans, was 
published in 1862. This was followed in 1870 by a 
volume of which the materials were collected from the 
Gask charter chest, The Jacobite Lairds of Gask. In 
1873 was published his best work, The Sources of 
Standard English. In 1875 he produced a volume of 
essays, The Duke and the Scholar. He never left his 
study of philology, but while engaged on historical work, 
always continued to collect materials for his books, Old 


and Middle English and The New English, both of 
which have won an acknowledged position in the field 
of philology. 

His literary interests enabled him to form a life for 
himself. In 1857 he married Frances Dorothy Jebb, 
and his choice fell on one who, from the moment of 
marriage, devoted every fibre of herself and her energies 
to his service. But here again life assumed an arid 
aspect. He desired children, and no children were born 
to him. He had no real home, though he built himself 
a large villa at Wimbledon; for the shadow of Gask 
was over all his plans. It seemed scarcely worth while to 
settle anywhere. Yet even if he got Gask, his uncle's 
widow was there for her life. The years dragged on, 
and the Condie case was about to be settled at last. 
Then the Dutchmen came forward. Again his vision 
of possession vanished. The terms he made with the 
Dutch Oliphants was to endure for their lifetime ; the 
younger of them might have lived twenty years. As a 
matter of fact both men died in a year. Without unkind- 
ness, it may be said that these demises formed the only 
stroke of fortune ever vouchsafed to Thomas Laurence. 
He was now, in 1867, really the owner of Gask ; under 
the terms of his aunt's will he passed on the estate of 
Ardblair to his younger brother, Philip, and again found 
himself waiting another twenty years for his home. 
Experiencing a good deal of inconvenience in having 
no house on the estate, where his duty often obliged 
him to be, and his aunt never extending to him the 
hospitality of the house of Gask, he built himself, in 
1878, a good-sized villa, a mile distant from Gask House, 
now known as Charlesfield Lodge. It is not an attrac- 
tive piece of architecture, but the windows command 
a fine view of the Ochils and Strathearn. Here he took 
up his abode, and lived until the death of his uncle's 
widow in 1886, when he moved with his wife to Gask 
House, and spent there the last fifteen years of both 
their lives. 

His literary labours continued to the end. The last 


ten years of his life were devoted to a lengthy work 
containing much religious controversy, entitled Rome 
and Reform. The final chapter was written just 
before his last illness began. It was published after his 

Though in the closing fifteen years of life the last laird 
attained his wishes, and was established in full and undis- 
puted possession of his forefathers' lands, the fulfilment 
came too late to transform life. The early years had 
been anxious and dreary, and he did not possess either the 
social charm which distinguished his brothers and sister, 
their vivid love of music and of sport, or the deeper 
interests of their growing families. He did not readily 
form friendships or attract the minds of those who 
attracted him. He was a looker-on at the game of 
life, where he would fain have played a part. He gave 
freely what he had ; his charities were wide and un- 
ostentatious to a degree ; an appeal to his generosity 
was seldom made in vain. 

A welcome was always ready at Gask House for the 
children of his brothers and sister, and many of these will 
carry through life recollections of happy days there ; of 
the joys of wood and river, and the simple homely life of 
the house, lighted by the constant kindness of "Aunt 
Fanny," the laird's wife, who, in spite of very bad health, 
kept an unfailing interest in all that concerned his 
relations. Her taste for writing long letters every day 
made her a centre in the family. She was the first of all 
the wives of the eleven Lairds of Gask who was not of 
Scottish race. No one had ever chosen an English wife 
before. The circumstance certainly made no difference 
to the endless hospitalities of Gask. The laird was the 
only one of Margaret Kington's family who attained old 
age. His brother, Philip Blair Oliphant, died first of the 
group, in 1892, Caroline Fyffe died in 1897, and William 
Kington in 1898. All three were aged fifty-nine. The 
laird himself lived to be seventy. 

It was a hundred and ten years since any Laird of 
Gask had died in his home there, and history was again 

2 G 




to repeat itself. The last illness of the eleventh laird 
began at Gask, but he got rather better and insisted on 
going south to pay visits ; he caught cold on the journey 
and died at Bournemouth 8th July 1902. His body was 
carried back to Scotland and lies in the little graveyard 
near the^ehapel at Gask, and there his broken-hearted 
wife was soon laid beside him. She only survived him 
four months, dying at Mortimer Cottage llth November 
1902, tended to the last by the devoted love and care of 
the little group of Graeme cousins, who have kept intact 
the ancient traditions of loyalty and steadfast friendship 
between the houses of Gask and Inchbrakie. 

As to the ultimate destination of the estate the child- 
less last Laird of Gask had always kept silence. His 
nearest and dearest knew nothing of his intentions. So 
much had been sacrificed, so many anxious thoughts 
expended in the winning of it, it had so overpowered 
all other interests in life, that the possession might have 
seemed something to be infinitely valued, a trust to be 
handed down intact to the next heir, as a treasure almost 
wrested from fate. He spent all the last years of his 
life and all his available means in improving the estate. 
Forty years of neglect had left a great deal to be done 
in the grounds. In planning alterations, in cutting and 
pruning so as to reveal a view here, or the opening of a 
glade there, he found endless occupation and the most 
settled happiness his life had known. To all appearance 
he loved the place and valued its associations. But over 
his mind the old bitterness of his uncle's injustice held 
sway to the very last. In the depths of a reserve that 
no one ever penetrated, the wry twist given to life at its 
outset could never be quite set straight, and in the dim 
labyrinth of thoughts never communicated, he doubtless 
justified himself for an action that bitterly wronged his 
brother's son 1 as he himself had been wronged. He 
made himself the last Laird of Gask, and decreed that the 
property was to be sold at his death. The bare fact is 

* Philip Laurence Blair Oliphant, of Ardblair, only son of Philip, the brother 
of the eleventh Laird of Gask. 


best so recorded and so left undiscussed, for no one will 
ever fully understand for what reason the possessor of the 
ancient heritage, with one stroke of his pen, brought to an 
end the line of Oliphant owners, after their long reign of 
nearly six hundred years. 


THE last word is the most difficult to write, for it 
brings the story of loss and sorrow, the " end of an auld 
sang" that has made music through long generations. 
It is hard to record that the lands of Gask have passed 
away, and that the voices and footsteps of the ancient 
race shall sound there no more. Yet to the children of 
Gask, exiled and dispossessed, in the old sense to which 
we cling, there falls a measure of human comfort; the 
last thrill of possessive pride, not only in the old glories 
of field and foray, not only in the strain of an undying 
song, but in the realisation of a living present, linked 
with a noble past that is unalterably ours, an inherit- 
ance that cannot be taken away by any stroke of fate. 
The crumbling walls of the old house, standing in 
the green silence, seems the appropriate dwelling for 
last thoughts. Everything now is of the past, all the 
dear dim memories, all the stories of ancient energies, of 
strenuous life, lived out here on this spot of ground, all 
the wild high hopes, the slow fulfilments, the dewy 
eagerness of youth, the divine patience of old age. The 
birch and the alder are growing where the low drawing- 
room sheltered Prince Charlie; moss and lichen have 
crept, inch by inch, over the stones with their unspoken 
story, over the hearth where gathered, at a thousand 
twilights, so many leal hearts in council. The doors that 
opened and closed on a myriad scenes of life and death 
have long since dropped from their hinges, and every 
wandering wind blows through the empty opening of door 
and lattice, as if all secrets were given up, all hope aban- 
doned. So the winds of time, blowing hither and thither, 
visit as they will the old fading story of Gask. 



Those of the race and the name cannot close the door 
upon these old griefs and joys, these old activities of life 
and death. Love and memory and reverence gather 
here, into the little compass of the old rooms, the spirits 
that once made it home, drawing them across the sunken 
threshold, uniting them round the deserted hearth, and 
bidding them look again from the empty windows 
over the old glint and gleam of river, and shadows of 
glade and hill. Summoned from a far country, from 
the activities of unknown spheres, from the gardens of 
Paradise they have won, from the fields of battle where 
they yet strive, our thoughts unite them here, in the 
old shelter they loved the soldiers, the enthusiasts, the 
singers, brave women, strong and tender men, groups 
of little children born here, whose tiny outlook on life 
never went beyond the span of green grass between the 
old house and the old graveyard ; old wise souls, weighed 
down with the burden of all they have seen and all they 
have endured, who have waited here for the last call ; 
passionate young souls alight with brilliant hopes, ready 
for eager service. As we call them home once more, 
kindling again the fire, spreading again the table, we listen 
for their message. It will not be a message all of sadness, 
though surely they are sad nor all of pity, though surely 
they are pitiful. We pour the wine, and standing with 
them at the table, await the word that shall tell what 
toast is to be honoured. Surely out of the group of 
shadowy feasters some voice will utter a name pledged 
a thousand times in this deserted house, or some hand 
will raise a goblet with the sober word, " The Past." 
But this is not the message. Out of the silence a 
voice of long ago proclaims the toast, instantly 
honoured with acclaim by all the throng, " The Days 
to come." 

For one thing they know in their immortal wisdom, 
and one solace they leave with the children of their blood 
and race. All that has been great in the past stretches 
down fibres to be entwined in the new characters that are 
forming, the new sympathies, the new aspirations. These 



children of the past know that the book cannot be closed. 
They know also that the best in all the story of Gask 
cannot be taken away, that no will can alienate it, no 
action obscure it, no time cover it. Everything that 
is noblest is possessed as freely as the beauty of a 
sunset, or the charm of spring. Not only in memory, 
not only in wistful retrospection, the traditions of Gask 
are ours to-day. 



THE following letter bearing on Darien affairs, which is 
probably an example of the "news letters" commonly 
sent to Scotland and passed from hand to hand, is among 
the papers in the Cask charter chest : 

" LONDON, the 7 Nov. 1699. 

" DEAR CUSIN, Tho my dependance obliges me to be frequently 
at Court yet you know I never had capacity nor inclination to 
medle in anything of Politicks or State affairs, nor do I indeed think 
it prudence in any man who is not immediately conserned to trouble 
his head very much about such matters ; for the truth is both the 
politicks and politicians of this age are such abstruse mysterious 
incomprehensible and dangerous things that no man dare venture 
either to speak or write truth about them without incurring at the 
same time the displeasure of his superiors and perhaps the hatred 
of his best friends and relations. But after all I confess the natural 
affection which every good man ought to bear towards his native 
country has moved me at this time to be more curious about your 
affrican Companys state than ever I was about anything ; and the 
entire confidence that I have in your tenderness for my safety and 
in your Discretion in respect to everything also has made me (I know 
not which way after much struggling with myself) resolve upon 
telling you now as follows, which you can depend upon to be true, 
if I can believe my own ears and eyes. 

" You know very well the noise which this business of your 
affrican Company has made, not only here but over all Europe and 
America and what mighty expectations most people had of its 
success, and how of a sudden the news of your Colony's desertion 
has made not only the Company but even all Scotsmen the common 
jest of everybody here ; its true many sober men do regrate these 
misfortunes and are very sorry too that so much of the blame thereof 
is laid at the King's door, and I wish there were not so much ground 
for so doing as Im affraid there is ; tho I know measures are taken 
to place the blame elsewhere and I dread, nay, tremble to think 
how greedily the heedless inconsiderate braulers (?) mobb will catch 
the bait without so much as dreaming how the hook thats under it 
will catch themselves, which is the chief yea the only motive that 
prompts me to this bold adventure. But while my hand is in I 



shall make so clean a breast all at once, that you must not expect 
to hear one word more from me upon this subject whatever further 
may happen. 

" The Pacquet which brought the Counall Generall of your Com- 
panys Petition to his Majesty arrived here late on Thursday night 
the 26th of the last month, and my Lo : Secretary having previous 
notice of the said Petition sent to have the Pacquet brought to 
himself next morning early, tho it was my Lord Carmichel wait- 
ing month ; and without signifying one word thereof to Carmichel 
for a whole day and night (nor after) went immediately to Mr 
Secretary Vernon and from him directly to Hampton Court where 
the King was and got him to sign an order for adjourning of your 
Parliament, that the same might be despatched from this before 
to know anything of your Petition and after his 
return from Hampton Court made a great deal of fum faro at the 
Duke of Queensberrys and Lord Carmichel about the presenting 
of your petition which was by them all three presented on Thursday 
last and this, by the by makes some here begin to believe that 
honest Carmichael will be treated much after the same manner that 
Tullibardine was, tho its doubted whether he'd be so touchy upon 
the head as Tullibardine was. Queensberry signified to his Majesty 
that you were all in such a ferment about your losses and disappoint- 
ment upon this occasion : that he'd humbly thought it necessary 
for his Majesty's interest and for the peace of the Kingdom to grant 
at least some small mark of his loyal favour to your Company 1 at 
this time ; whereupon the King took him a little short, and asked 
him what he would advise him to grant them ? The Duke replied 
that His Majesty had three small frigates lying wholly useless and 
rotting in Scotland, and that though they were of small value yet 
that such a concession might be improved (?) by his Majesty's 
ffreinds and servants in the government, so as to disprove all the 
misrepresentations of his Majesty's enemies upon account of your 
American Company. At which the King seemed to frett and said 
that as he did not expect any such proposition from his Lp so 
he wold grant no such thing upon any account because (said his 
Majesty) not only the Company but the whole world might then 
say that he did it for fear of these . . . : but his Majesty instead 
thereof was pleased to sign an answer, which Secretary Sefield had 
prepared before your petition was so solemnly presented to him, 
but how satisfactory that answer may be, or how far it may answer 
your present occasions, I cannot tell : only I know people talk here 
variously about it but you'll be best able to judge when you see it, 
which (I question not) you will before this come to hand ; for my 
part, were it not signed by His Majesty I would give you my opinion 
freely about it, but however I find it is determined, you must take it 
all for good coyn, or otherwise be looked upon as disaffected persons, 
and the worst of men : for you must know, that our politicians have 
agreed upon several topics to be propagated both here and with 

1 The entire monopoly of the trade