Bernard Burke.

A visitation of the seats and arms of the noblemen and gentlemen of Great Britain (Volume 2) online

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In the neighbouring village of Langforgan is
" Wallace's Stone." It is what was formerly
called in that country a bean sfoi/e, which is
made hollow like a large mortar, and was
used to unhusk the bean or barley, as a pre-
paration for the pot, with a large wooden
well, long before barley mills were known.
Its station was on one side of the door, and
it was covered with a flat stone for a seat,
when not otherwise employed. Tradition tells
us that on this stone Wallace sat on Ins way
from Dundee, when he fled, after killing the



SEATS OP GREAT BRITAIN.



33



governor's son, and that he was fed with
bread and milk by the good wife of the
house, from whom the Smith, who now lives
there, and is proprietor of the stone, is lineally
descended ; here his ancestors have lived ever
since, in nearly the same station and circum-
stances for more than 500 years.

CAIKNFIELD HOUSE, co. Banff, the seat of
John Gordon Esq., a deputy lieutenant for
the county. It has been in the possession of
the Gordons of Cairnrield and Arradoul for
three or four generations.

The old family mansion upon this estate
was built, so far as can be ascertained, in the
year 16(3(3. One whig of this ancient pile
still remains, and shows clearly what the ori-
ginal structure must have been ; but a new
house was erected not far from it, in 1802, by
the late proprietor, Adam Gordon, Esq. It is
in that modern style which hardly admits of
any distinct architectural designation, but
by no means unpleasing to the eye, and ex-
ceedingly convenient in its internal arrange-
ments. The grounds about the mansion
are extensive, with many thriving young
plantations, and trees of a more aged and
stately growth. Through the midst of this
picturesque scene runs a stream of water,
adding not a little by its presence to the
general beauty and interest of the landscape.
There is alsoanextensivegarden, well-stocked,
and sufficiently sheltered for the ample pro-
duction of the more delicate kinds of vegeta-
bles.

There can be little doubt that this seat has
received its name from the vicinity of the
Cairns, or Druidical temples that abound here
and along the coast. The father of the pre-
sent owner of Cairnfield examined three of
those on the heights of Comedown, called the
Covestones, but found nothing within except
charcoal, and an undistinguishable whitish
substance that might possibly be the ashes of
bone, or perhaps of wood. There are other
evidences of the whole country around having
at one time been the stage of great events.
In 1805 a small square box was turned up by
a peasant while ploughing on the moor of
Arradoul, which also belongs to Mr. Gordon.
Upon being opened, the contents proved to be
various coins ofQueen Mary, James theSixth,
and Charles the First, all of them in a good
state of preservation. A sword was also dis-
covered on the grounds of Letterfourie by
the father of Sir James Gordon, Bart. The
handle was of silver, but the blade was too
much eaten away by rust to afford any indi-
cations of its antiquity, though it is not
unlikely to have belonged to a very remote
period.

At one period, it is more than probable
that the low grounds in the vicinity of Cairn-
field House abounded in wood; large pieces of
VOL. II.



oak and fir having often been dug out of the
hollows as they came into cultivation.

The fishermen of the neighbourhood are so
peculiar a race as to be well worthy of notice
They form indeed a people, separate and die
tinct fromallaround them, and this peculiarity
is kept up in a great measure by their seldom
intermarrying with any other class of people.
As the boys go to sea with their fathers, the
moment they can be of the least service in the.
fishery, they of course have few opportunities
of education. At eighteen years old they are
considered to be men, and never fail to marry
when they are able to get a shore in a boat,
it being a maxim amongst them " that no man
can be a fisher and want a wife." There is
good reason for such a doctrine, for the sale
of the fish, in addition to their other occupa-
tions, is committed to the women, who have
often to travel as much as five-and-twenty
miles a day, under the weight of their well-
laden basket, and generally take in exchange
for their fish, cheese, butter, meal, and barley.
Their mode of life has been admirably painted
by Sir Walter Scott in his delightful romance
of the Antiquary, and with a vividness that
brings them and their occupations at once
before our eyes.

" A wheeii poor drudges ye are," answered
the nymph of the land to the nymph of the
sea. * "As sune as the keel o' the coble
touches the sand, deil a bit mair will the
lazy fisher loons work, but the wives maun
kilt their coats, and wade into the surf totak
the fish ashore. And then the man casts off
the wat and puts on the dry, and sits down
wi' his pipe and his gill stoup a hint the
ingle, like ony auld houdie, and ne'er a turn
will he do 'till the coble's afloat again ! And
the wife, she maun get the scull on her back,
and awa' wi' the fish to the next burrow's-
town, and scauld and ban wi' ilka wife that
will scauld and ban wi' her 'till it's sauld —
and that's the gait fishers' wives five, puir
slaving bodies."

" Slaves ! — goe wa' loss ! ca' the head o' the
house, slaves ! little ye ken about it, lass.
Show me a word my Saunders daur speak, or
a turn he daur do about the house, without
it ae just to tak his meat, and his drink, and
his diversion, just like ony o' the weans. He
has mair sense than to ca' onything about
the bigging his ain, fra' the roof tree down
to a cracket trancher on the bink. He
kens weel enough wha feds him, and deeds
him, and keeps a' tight, thack and
rape, when his cable is jowing awa' in the
Firth, puir fallow. Na, na, lass ; them that
guide the purse rule the house. Show me
ane o' your bits o' farmer bod es that wad let
their wife drive the stock to the market, and
ca' in the debts. Na, na."

In further elucidation of the manners of
this singular race, we may give the note that



34



SEATS OF GREAT BRITAIN.



Sir Walter has appended to the above passage :
— " These Nereids are punctilious amongst
themselves, and observe different ranks accord-
ing to the commodities they deal in. One
experienced dame was heard to characterise a
younger damsel as ;i ' puir silly thing who had
no ambition, and would never,' she prophe-
sied, ' rise above the mussel line of busi-
ness.' "

PITFOUR CASTLE, Perthshire, the seat of
Sir John Stewart Richardson, Bart., Secretary
ot the Order of the Thistle. This estate was
at one time possessed by the Hays, cadets of
the Errol family, and progenitors of the wife
of the present owner.

Pitfour Castle is a quadrangnlar castella-
ted building of considerable size, and provided
with every accommodation befitting a man of
rank and wealth. It stands upon an artificial
terrace, and was erected about fifty years
ago, the principal part by John Richardson,
Esq. ; but great additions have been made to
the original edifice by his grandson, the
gentleman now in possession of the property.
The gardens and grounds about the residence
are no less beautiful than extensive, art and
nature having combined to do their utmost
under a climate by no means unfavourable,
though not equally genial with the southern
parts of England.

Various Druidical remains are still to be
found in this parish, one of which has obtained
a legendary, if not a historical, celebrity from
its connection with the Hays, the original
possessors of Pitfour. Kenneth the Third,
being minded to reward the Hay for his
valour at the battle of Luncarty, offered him
the choice of so much ground as should be
measured by the run of a deer or the flight of
a falcon. He chose the latter, and in com-
memoration of the event, a Druidical stone
received and yet retains the name of Saxum
Falconis, The Hawk's Stone — -on which the
word Caledonia in ancient characters is cut.
Whether the legend be true or not, it is quite
certain that there is a stone which has been
so called for centuries, and which moreover
forms the very westmost verge of what was
known to have been the original property of
the Hays of Errol. Similiar stories have no
doubt been told of other places and other
heroes ; and perhaps it may something tend to
shake our belief that a village of the same
name lies at no great distance from the stone.

The owner of Pitfour is also, with the
exception of a few acres lately exchanged for
the purpose of extending the park, the sole
proprietor of the parish of St. Madoes, in
which it is situated. It has indeed been
thought worthy of remark that property here
and in the neighbourhood is in a strikingly
different position as to ownership from what
it was in former times. From an old sessional



record it seems that two hundred and fifty
years ago, there were in this parish four
distinct lairdships, namely Pitfour, Pitcog,
Cairnie, and Dumgreen ; and from the same
source we may gather that the neighbouring
district had been divided into small lairdships,
four or five then existing for one that now
exists. In 1592 the principal landowner in
this parish was a man of high lineage — Coch-
rane of Dundonald, who soon afterwards sold
the lands of Pitfour to the Hays of Megginch.
He, however, continued to reside there till
his death ; and his descendants, reduced to
the humble condition of cottars, were to be
found in the neighbouring parish of Errol
about a generation back, at which time the
last of them died.

WREST PARK, Bedfordshire, near Silsoe,
the seat of Earl de Grey, K.O., lord-lieutenant
and custos rotulorum of the county. Most
certainly from 1255, and probably from
a much anterior age, this estate has been
possessed by the De Greys, a very old and
distinguished family.

It is known that a mansion existed here as
far back as 1320, of which the chapel remained
till the whole edifice was pulled down hi
1836. This, which was built by the early
ancestors of the present family, was a plain
white stone house with an extensive front,
and having a large court within ; but it had
been so much altered and modernized at
various times that it at length retained very
little of its ancient character. The whole
consisted of a centre and two wings, the
centre being somewhat the highest, and the
building altogether presenting a somewhat
low appearance, with a multitude of windows,
and a portico of no great pretentions.
Within was a dining-room, said to have
been furnished for the reception of Anne
of Denmark, which was curiously deco-
rated with mock pilasters, finished with
stripes of velvet and worked silk festoons
between each. Of this princess there was a
portrait in the hall, dressed in a hoop, with a
feather fan, and her neck completely exposed.
"She was turbulant," says Pinkerton, "resi
less, and aspiring to government, incapable of
the management of affairs, yet always intrigu-
ing after power. This her wiser husband
denied her, and of course incurred her hatred.
Every engine was then employed to hurt his
private ease ; she affected amours of which she
never was guilty, and permitted familiarities
which her pride would probably never have
condescended to. James was armed with in-
difference. At length in 1619 he saw her
descend to the grave, but not with the resig-
nation of a good Christian monarch, as might
have been expected from her conduct."

After the old house had been pulled down
1836, the new one was commenced by the



SEATS OF GKEAT BRITAIN.



35



present owner, and finished in 1839. It
stands in a park, abounding in noble trees, and
containing a multitude of deer. The grounds
for then- extent, beauty, and the prospects
spreading beyond them, have often been de-
nominated the Stowe of Bedfordshire. There is
anotherrespect in which they bear a yetcloser
resemblance to those celebrated gardens ; and
that is in the obelisks, temples, pantheons,
and other architectural ornaments so abun-
dantly introduced in them. One of these, an
obelisk, placed on the higher part of the grounds,
is distinctly visible for many miles, forming a
certain landmark for the stranger. Originally
the grounds were laid out in a formal style,
but the taste of Brown — Capability Brown,
as he was called — made a wonderful change
for the better. To his suggestions is owing
the noble serpentine river which does so much
towards relieving the peculiar quaintness of
the style hi which they were laid out, and
which belongs to the age and country of
Louis the Fourteenth. They were originally
formed by Henry de Grey, Duke of Kent
between 1702 and 1740.

Nothing has tended to give more celebrity
to Wrest Park than the number and excellence
of the portraits to be found there, all more or
lrss intimately connected with English history.
To name a few of them — for their number
precludes anything more than a brief selec-
tion — King James the First in his regal
attire ; Lord Somers in his robes as chancellor ;
Philip, Baron of Wharton who sided with the
parliament in the great civil war, and who
according to Grainger's not very probable
account, hid himself in a saw-pit at the battle
of Edge-hill ; if he did really so conceal him-
self, he must have had wonderful powers of
vision, for afterwards in a long speech made at
Guildhall he gave an account of the fight, and
it appears to have been accurate ; Lady
Rich, who being divorced from her husband,
Lord Rich, was subsequently married toBlount,
Earl of Devonshire, a marriage that the
morality of those days looked upon almost as
a crime ; Lord Chancellor Hardwick in his
robes, an excellent portrait by Hoare ; the
Earl of Gainsborough ; Annabella, surnamed
from her pre-eminent virtues, the good Coun-
tess of Kent • she is painted in black and er-
mine, full curled hair, and a kerchief over her
neck. Her epitaph, though in humble prose,
and somewhat long, well merits transcrip-
tion : " Here lyes the Right Honourable
Annabella, late countess dowager of Kent,
entombed by her dear Lord Henry, Earl of
Kent, to signirie her resolution to dye with
him to the rest of the world, and to live after
so great a loss only to God and the interest
of tins noble family. This she made good by
exemplary piety and regular devotion in her
chapel, whereto she obliged all her domesticks,
every morning and evening to attend her.



And surviving her own monument fourty-five
years, she had time to raise to herself a more
lasting one by restoring the fortune of this
illustrious family, which she found under an
eclipse, to near the height of its ancient
splendour. This she effected by her wise
conduct and large acquisitions and by the
advantageous disposal of her only son, An-
thony, Earl of Kent, in marriage with Mary,
sole daughter and heiress of the Right Hon.
John Lord Lucas, Baron of Shenfield in Essex.
To the concerns of her children and grand-
children she confined her thoughts, and fixed
her residence at Wrest, their usual seat, which
she wonderfully improved and embellished ;
continually adding to the profit or ornament
of the place until death gently seized her,
Aug. 17, 1698, in the 92nd year of her age,
and was here mterr'd by the Right Hon.
Anthony, Earl of Kent, her most dutiful son,
who would have caused yt to be engraven,
had not a sudden death prevented him ; but
it was afterwards performed, in clue acknow-
ledgment of her great beneficence, and to per-
petuate her precious memory to all his poster-
ity, by her grandson, Henry, Duke of Kent."
A few others yet remain, which cannot be
passed over in silence on account of the his-
toric or traditional celebrity of the characters
they represent. And first the effigy of Sir
Charles Lucas, a half length in armour, fine
sash, and long hair ; this is the gallant
soldier that was shot to death by the parlia-
mentarians upon the surrender of Colchester,
the plea being the authorized, but still bar-
barous, maxim of war, that whoever attempted
to defend an untenable place, and thereby
sacrificed valuable lives without an object,
should himself sutler the extremities of military
law. — A curious portrait of Lady Susannah
Grey, daughter to Charles, Earl of Kent, and
wife to Sir Michael Longueville, who wascele
brated for her skill and industry with the needle.
The dress, in which she is painted, is tradi-
tionally said to have been a wedding-suit of
her own making ; but her example holds out
little to tempt imitators, since she died, it
seems, of a prick of the needle while engaged
in working. Whether true or not, the tale is
regularly reported to the visitors at Westmin-
ster Abbey, who put themselves under the
guidance of the accredited showman of the
place ; and certainly in her picture she looks
as pale as if the asserted fact were true. — A
portrait of Sir Randle Crew, in a bonnet, ruff,
gold chain, and robes, as Lord Chief Justice
of the King's Bench, an office he filled during
the latter end of James the First's reign and
the beginning of that of Charles the First. —
A portrait of Secretary Walsingham in a
quilled ruff, who after having served his queen
and country for many years, did not leave
enough when he died to pay his funeral ex-
penses. — A portrait of Lady Harold, first



86



SEATS OF GREAT BRITAIN.



married to Lord Harold, and afterwards to
Earl Gower. The picture is not a little curi-
ous from the lady being dressed in the very
singular and not very becoming costume of
her day. She is in a riding habit, a blue and
silver coat, silver tissue waistcoat, a long
flowing wig and great hat and feather. With
her we must conclude our brief enumeration.



EGLINTON CASTLE, co. Ayr, the seat of
the Earl of Eglinton and Winton. At the
time of the Saxon colonisation of Scotland
soon after the Norman conquest of England,
" Eglin" built a castle, which with the " toun,"
where his dependents located, became " Eg-
lintoun." He was probably a follower of the
Saxon Margaret of England, Queen of Mal-
colm Canmore III., who settled many fol-
lowers in Scotland, though not so many as
her son, King David I.

The original castle was burnt by the rival
family of Cunningham in 1528, and every
document being destroyed, King James V.
granted a charter to reconvey and secure to
the family all their rights of property, &c,
which had thus been jeopardised. It is re-
markable that the two great disasters of the
Montgomeries arose from similar causes — out
of jealousy of the Cunninghams.

In 1448, on Lord Montgomery getting a
grant of the Pailliery of Cunningham, in which
district both their estates were situated, the
Cunninghams became disgusted at his increase
of power, by which they were in some degree
placed under his jurisdiction. This, after
years of feud, led to the conflagration of
Eglinton Castle hi 1528.

Again, in 1552, the Earl of Eglinton having
been appointed Baillie of the Abbey of Kil-
winning — an office which in those days tended
to secularise the Church lands and transfer
them into the hereditary keeping of the
baillie — the Cunninghams revenged this ac-
cess of importance by assassinating, in 1586,
the young and hopeful earl, who had but just
succeeded his father, the grantee. The two
chiefs had afterwards another cause of dis-
pute regarding the precedency of their re-
spective earldoms of Glencairn and Eglinton.
This in quieter times superseded these more
desperate conflicts.

The head of the Cunninghams was created
Earl of Glencairn in 1488 by King James
III., and was killed with his royal master hi
that same year, when his new earldom dis-
appeared, and his son was reduced to his
father's older title of Lord Kilmaurs ; but
his son was restored as Karl of Glencairn
apparently on King James IV. 's marriage
to the Princess Margaret of England in 1503.
Immediately afterwards Hugh, third Lord
Montgomery, was created Earl of Eglinton,
between the 3rd and 20th of January, 1506-7,
as two deeds sliow.



But previously to 1606 precedency was
totally unsettled hi Scotland, as a reference to
the Rolls of Parliament will make manifest.
The abuse was so flagrant, that King James
VI., seeing a better system at his Court of
England, ordered an investigation and a settle
ment of the due order of the whole peerage, in
1 li( 16. Then began a new warfare with varied
success, and though the last decision was in
favour of Lord Glencairn, it may be considered
as only terminated by the final protest of
Lord Eglinton at the Union hi 1707 — after
a contest of 101 years, added to the feuds of
150 years previous.*

Eglinton has never been out of the posses-
sion of the descendants of Eglin. The only
changes were, first, when the heiress of Sir
Hugh de Eglinton married Sir John de Mont-
gomery, of Eaglesham, in Renfrewshire ; who
afterwards, at the battle of Otterburn in
1388, lost his eldest son, but took Hotspur
Percy prisoner, and with his ransom built
the Castle of Pulnoon at Eaglesham.j* The
second event was in 1612, when the fifth
Earl of Eglinton, having no children, left
the estate and title to Alexander, the son of
his aunt and heiress Margaret, who in 1588
had married Robert, seventh Lord Seton,
afterwards first Earl of Winton. King James
demurred to this arrangement, but the Chan-
cellor Alexander, Earl of Dunfermline, vho
happened to be uncle of the appointed heir,
allowed the deed to pass the Great Seal, de-
claring as his excuse that his nephew had
threatened to run him through the body if he
did not. That adventure procured for this
sixth earl the epithet of Greysteel. He fought
against Charles I., but behig converted he was
afterwards imprisoned. His son Hugh, seventh
earl, was a loyalist throughout, and was in
the battle of Marston Moor on the opposite

* About eight}- years after this, the old Laird of Bris-
bane used to tell of his having: the then two earls to dine
with him at Brisbane. As he knew that to whichever he
awarded the precedence, it would give mortal offence to
the other, when dinner was announced he said, " My
Lords, as ye 're strangers here, allow me to show you
the way," and as he added, "I peeped o'er my shoulder
to see what appeared, when I saw Lord Eglinton bow to
Lord Glencairn, who marched off accordingly."

t At Largs, on the north {point of Ayrshire, there is
a curious chapel ornamented with paintings, allegorical,
descriptive, fanciful, and heraldic, built about 1(124 by
Sir Robert Montgomery of Skelmorlie, an ancestor of
Lord Eglinton. It appears that his conscience re-
proached him for misdeeds in his younger days, for
they were a warlike race entangled in feuds, and he
came here to pray. One picture shows Queen Mary
escaping from Lochleven by wading, and large fish
playing about her legs ; another represents an accident
at Skelmorlie, Lord Montgomery looking on in horror
at seeing his sister killed by a horse running away and
continuing to kick as if she was still at his heels. There
is a burial place below, containing embalmed skeletons
very much older than Sir Robert or his wife, who are still
lying encased as safely as the first day, and one of these
ghastly figures is traditionally handed down, as this Sir
John Montgomery to whom Hotspur had to surrender.
Tie is wonderfully entire, though the others arc in frag-
ments. This private place of worship and sepulchre is
the most curious relic of antiquity in a wide extent of
country.



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SEATS OF GREAT BRITAIN.



37



side to his father. His son Alexander, eighth
earl, was a Covenanter, who embarrassed the
estate so that he was dispossessed by his son ;
and by suit only got in addition to his allow-
ance the difference of exchange as living in
England. He married thrice, first, without
consent, though a daughter of Lord Duin-
ries; secondly, a Yorkshire widow, whose
previous husband's chaplain showed her up
in a joyous vituperative poem to the brother
and heir ; and thirdly, another Yorkshire
widow of ninety, who had three husbands
before.

Alexander, ninth earl, not only recovered
the estate, but added to it. The only point in
which he followed his father was in having
three wives, but he had seventeen children.
His widow was the famous beauty, Countess
Susanna, aunt to the ninth and tenth Earls of
Cassilis.

Alexander, tenth earl, was assassinated by



Online LibraryBernard BurkeA visitation of the seats and arms of the noblemen and gentlemen of Great Britain (Volume 2) → online text (page 8 of 73)