Lachlan Shaw.

The history of the province of Moray. Comprising the counties of Elgin and Nairn, the greater part of the county of Inverness and a portion of the county of Banff,--all called the province of Moray before there was a division into counties online

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in religious services, and as a learned language.

From the intercourse between these races of men, and
the confvision of language that must necessarily arise, we


cannot imagine that their language could be preserved
pure and unmixed to modern times. A medley would be
formed that makes it now difficult, if not impossible, to
define, with accuracy and precision, the boundaries between
these diflerent languages, and decidedly say to which of
them innumerable words, both ancient and modern,

This proves how fundamentally many fail in their
etymological enquiries. In this there is a fashion as in
other branches of research. It is the mode with many at
present to derive all the names of places in Scotland from
the modern Gaelic — a mass of Gothic, British, Celtic, and
Iberish words, yet dignified with the character of ancient
Celtic. There can be no doubt that many of these can
be derived from no other source, but this cannot with
propriety be universally done. This puts one in mind of
the ancient Greeks, who adopted a similar plan, which
created the utmost confusion in histor}-, and, instead of
truth, made it a tissue of fable. That the Erse is a dialect
in general of the Celtic, combined with the Iberish, admits
of no doubt, but it is a dialect abounding with innumer-
able Gothic words. Besides, from the la})se of time and
the want of written standards, it must materially vary
from what it originally was when these names were
appropriated. We should never make use of a language
which is modern, or comparatively modern, to deduce the
etymology of ancient words; more particularly, as the
modern.s"in general implicitly copy the ancients in being
guided by the ear, which renders all their conceiitions on
that subject j)recarious and uncertain, as appears in ety-
mologists so widely ditiering from each other.

This appears to be a ]jrobable account of the ancient
inhabitants of Britain: — The Celts and I-^>elg;Te from Gaul;
the Scythians or Goths from Germany, who in time were
called Caledonians and Picts, with Phaniicians and Iberians
from Ireland ; besides these, in more modern times, many
straggling colonies came into Scotland from Denmark,
Norway, and Ireland. Among these were tlie Scots, who,
originall}^ possessing a small part of the island in Argyle,
gradually spread abroad. At length they conquered the
Picts and Cumbrians, and as the Angles gave their name
to England, so they imposed the name of Scotland on the
other |>art of the island.


There has been much ingenuity, not a little learning,
with a considerable share of acrimony, employed by the
Irish and Scots in determining the original of the latter
and the rise of the appellation. It appears highly jjrobable
that they both at first were one and the same people, as
the north of Ireland might have been partially colonised
from the neighbouring parts of Caledonia. This circum-
stance, and their vicinity, would keep up frequent com-
munications between both islands and a frequent inter-
change of colonies. At length, two or three centuries
after the Christian era, a colony from Ireland, under
Fergus, or Riada, or some other unknown leader, was
established in Caledonia, and the appellation Scots first
used within Britain, Bede, who lived at no great distance
of time from that period, fixes this colony on the northern
banks of the Clyde. They gradually pushed their con-
quests on the western shores till they reached Caithness ;
and in time all to the north of the River Forth was called
Scotland, and the Firth of Forth was named Mare Scoti-
cum. The Picts, or Caledonians, occupied the eastern
shores and low countries. This distinction between the
boundaries of the Picts and Scots was preserved long in
even the Province of Moray. It can be traced in the
names and hills throughout the whole of the Province.

Among the charters of Dunbar of Grange there is one
granted in 1221 by King Alexander II. to the Abbacy of
Kinloss, of the lands of Burgy, in which a boundary is
" Rune Pictorum " — the Picts' Cairn. In another charter
from Richard, Bishop of Moray, after the year 1187, to the
same abbacy, is mentioned " Scoticum molendinum " ; and
to this day a road from the Highlands to the low dis-
tricts of the Province is called " the Scots Road." It is
through the hills to the east of Delias.

After a variety of fortune and much bloodshed the
Scots, Picts, and Caledonians, in the 9th century, united
themselves under one sovereign, and took the single name
of Scots, though that of Picts also remained in some
parts of the kingdom many years after this.

It is difficult to give a satisfactory account of the origin
of the appellation Scots. Probability leads us to judge
that Scot and Scythi are the same names, and that Scot
was afterwards applied to them as a term of reproach on
account of their plundering and rapacious manners. One


particular is certain, that it was imported from Ireland,
which was the ancient Scotia, and its inhabitants were
called Scots after the yeav 1400.

Tradition is silent with regard to the time when the
first colonies came into the north of Scotland from Scan-
dinavia and CJermaii}^ We learn from Claudian that the
Saxons were in the Orkneys before the year 390 and the
Picts in Thule, by which he means the north of Scotland.
Torfeus informs us that about 1)27 the Norwegians, under
the command of Sigurd, Earl of Orkney, conquered Mora}^
where probably they built Elgin. At that period, or
rather before it, the Picts occujiied a Roman station on
the Moray Firth called Ptoroton, which they named the
Burgh, and established themselves under its protection in
great numbers, as appears by the ruins of houses that
extend along the sea shore to the east almost two miles.
This, and more ancient colonies of the same people,
mingling with the British, impelled northwards by the
invasions of the Belga?, Iberians, Romans, and Saxons,
peopled the Province of Moray.

We are entirely ignorant of their internal state and
])artial revolutions, but we have every reason to believe
that they were a necessitous, turbulent, unsettled people.
This is confirmed by their killing King Malcolm I. at
Ulrin, which, by the Chartulary of Moray, is the Castle of
Forres. They also murdered King Dutfus at Foitcs about
966, when he came to punish them for their crimes. They
rebelled in the reign of Malcolm IV., who, about 1160, led
an army against them. They submitted, but, to break
their future licentiousness, in 1161 he traDSi)lanted all
those engaged in the insurrection into the other counties
of Scotland, from Caithness to Galloway. In 1171 there
was an insurrection of the inhabitants of Moray, so that
Malcolm's policy liad not all the effects he expected from it.

In conformity to the practice some time before intro-
duced into Scotland of surnames being taken from names
of places, their general surname Avas Murrcf, after their
country, but many altered this into that of the ])lace
where they were established. Those called Sutherland,
Earls of" Sutherland, were originally Murrefs ; as appears
from a Protection granted by Edward, King of England,
to William do Murref, son of the Earl of Sutherland. It
is dated 28th Jan., 1367. The first of the family of


Sutherland in record is Hugo Freskyn, between 1186
and 1214. When this transportation of the inhabitants
of Moray took place, it is highly probable that the
King granted their lauds to others, who founded new
families, of whom many of the present inhabitants are

Malcolm III. and his successors received with open
arms many exiles and discontented persons of rank from
England, of Saxon and Norman extraction. They also
received adventurers from the Continent, so that imper-
ceptibly the greatest part of the propert}^ in Scotland
belonged to these strangers. At this day most of the
nobility of Scotland and many connnoners of ancient
families arc of their blood.

Before the reign of INIalcolm Canmore all is darkness in
the history of Scotland at large; and still less can we
expect any authentic documents of what regards the
province of Moray. The most ancient one is the Chart-
ulary of Moray, which contains a series of charters from
about the 1200 to 1529, in which a variety of names are
mentioned of Pictish, Saxon, Irish, and Low Country origin.
The names are numerous ; some local, some patronymics,
some from occupation, and others from causes now inex-
plicable. The modern practice of Clan names does not
appear to have prevailed in any great degree in these
days ; but afterwards, many people uniting for their joint
defence, assumed the name of their common chieftain, or
of the most powerful body of the association. It is proper
to mention some of the names in the Chartulary of Moray
and other charters in these different periods.

From A.D. 1200 to 1400 appear the following: — ■

Bricius Malcolm.



Eobert Gilmakel.





all clergymen, with the names of their

livings annexed.

Hugh son of Freskyn.


Thomas Eolland.

Walter of Moray.

Alexander Black.

Thomas de Dalfon.

William de Rist.

John CambroD.

John Tullois.

William Agnus (Lamb)

Malcuugy Malliuack

John Bully.



James Siiter.

Archibald Lambert.


Walter Thorald.


Walter Crawfoi-d.

Faucounere of Leth-

John de Hedou.



Morgund Ranold.

William Norevs.




Gillemallovock Mack-

Sytbak Mackraalloii.
Eobert Ha.lo.
ArcliibaU] ile Dufjihus

Hugh Douglass.
Augustiue of Elgin.
William "Wisemau.
"Walter Innes.
Adam Gurmuud miles.
Gyllimaked Macgilli-

Gilcrist Grathack.

Sumerlet of Bucharyu.
John Byseth.
William Stephen.
Hugh (.'orbet.
Wadyu Gamell.
Hutyng Marshall.
John Prat.
Thomas Sybaud.
Hugh Loi-niac.
Regunald de Chin.
MacUratlier Macquoin.
Duncan Fraser.
John Corbeth.
Eobert de Joniston.

William de Fenton.

Domiuus Barth.


Laurence and Robert

Thomas Man.

Bredan son of Fergus

Martin More.

Maldowney Beg.

Maldowuey Mac-
Martiu. "

Bredan Breach.

Martin McColy.


Michael Mulswayn.

Maldowuey Mac-

Colin MacGilbride.

Alexander Mencrys.

John de Forbes.

Michael Schapmar.

William Yaus.

Henry Portar.






Elias Sister.

John de Killour.

William Pope.
William Soreys.
Henery Scypard.
Robert Mykel.
Malin Glaud.
Hugh Grene.
Lulack LIcTmau.
John Scott.
William Walkere.
Stephen Skinner.
Alexander Irynjiins.
William Tavernire.
John Gray.
Adam Flemynges.
Thouias Urchard.
John Sibbald.
William de Dun.
Christian McKiu-

nach Gartned.
Robert Curry.
Donald Rogerston.
Niuynus de Achors.
Eva Murtach.
Murriel Pollock.

Alexander Chisholm
Hugh Fraser de


From A.D. J 400 — Fotheringhams, Dunbars, Gordons,
Winchesters, Stewarts, Cumniings, Carrowe, Clerk, Hill,
Tait, Quorsque, Wilson, Ogilvie, Flemyng, Duffs, «fcc., are
the most numerous names. After a.d. 1529 there are no
accounts of any great change of the inhabitants or names,
but wlKit might naturally happen during the lapse of
years, from the change of property and the rise and fall of
different families and names.

After this general account of the inhabitants of the
Province, a short detail is to be given of the principal
families, l)eginning with those nobilitated, according to
their anti([uity in Moray; but previous to considering
those vested with modern titles, it may not be improper
to inquire into the import and dignity of Thane, which
was the appellation of persons of rank and consequence
in Scotland before the days of Malcolm III. They were
the nobility and gentry of those days, and the title long
remained after those of Earl and Daron were introduced


by Malcolm Canmore, who began to reign in 1057. There
were many Thanes in Ross and the other counties in
Scotland, in the reign of William the Lion : they existed
in the Province of Moray till about 1500.

Scotland was divided into Thanedorns, and the title was
originally borrowed from the Danes or Norwegians and
the Saxons in England. It signifies the King's Minister.
There is great uncertainty as to their privileges and rank,
as these can only be learned by record, and few records
remain of these ancient days. It appears by "the E,egiam
Magistatem " that the marchet of the daughter of a Thane
was two cows, or twelve shillings ; but that of an Earl's
daughter was twelve cows ; and that of a freeman's
daughter, not lord of the village, one cow* To thi&
Mareheta Mulierum was the pertinent of the first night
of concubinage with the wife of the villain or serf. Many
extant charters in Scotland refer to this strange right or
rite. The Cro of an Earl was 140 cows ; of an Earl's son,,
and a Thane, was 100 cows; and that of a husbandman
was IG cows. At this period, therefore, there was a
middle rank between the nobility and freemen.

This is also confirmed by an Assize, mentioned in the
Chartulary of Moray, of William the Lion, at Perth, in
which the rank is Bishops, Abbots, Earls, Bai'ons, Thanes,.

* The administrator of the Crown lands, the collector of
rents, the magistrate and head man of a little district, known
among his Celtic neighbours as the Toshach, took a charter of
the whole district from the Sovereign, whereby he became,
under the Saxon name of Thane, hereditary tenant ; paying the
sum at which the land stood in the King's rental, and preserv-
ing all his ancient authority now strengthened and legalised.
In this manner it fell that the Saxon title of Thane
became common, chiefly in the north, and in the least Saxon
part of Scotland ; but it does not follow that the title expressed
exactly the same rank and dignity with the English title of
Thane. This is the opinion of the erudite Cosmo Innes.

One of our ancient codes of customary law, which was speci-
ally abrogated by the famous ordinance of Edward I., A.D.
1305, had for its object that which was common to all the
northern codes — to estimate the grades of society and the
penalties to be paid for injuring each. There, after the King
comes the Earl. The Thane ranks equal with the Earl's son.


and all the Community. In the same Chartulaiy there is
a charter of Alexander II., about 1232, where Thani Regis
and Firmarii, or King's Thanes and Tenants, are classed
together, whose lands might be changed as he pleased.

The same King had also rents paid him by his " feodi
lirmarii " in Moythas, Brothyn, and Dyke, which were
Thanedoms. In a Submission between Andrew, Bishop of
Moray, and Hugh Rose, Baron of Kilravock, in 1492,
written in Latin, among the arbiters are William Calder of
Calder and John Brodie of Brodie. In this deed they are
promiscuously called Thane, or dc eodera, of that ilk ; but
in the decreet arbitral, written in p]uglish, the designation
is Thani. From this it appears that Thane, or Gentle-
man, the head of the name, are the same.

The Thanedoms, or grants of lands, were probably at
first during pleasure, then for a certain number of years,
and at length were for life and hereditary. About A.D.
1200, there were several Thanes of different families in a
short space of time over a Thanedom in the Mearns, now
a part of the estate of Arbuthnot.

In 1206, there was a dispute between William, Bishop
of St. Andrews, and Duncan of Arbuthnot, ancestor of the
present Viscount of Arbuthnot, concerning the property
of the Kirktown of Arbuthnot in the j\Iearns. It was
determined by a synod met at Perth that year. One of
the witnesses declares on oath that he had known thirteen
Thanes in his lifetime to have the lands in question, to
whom the Bishops paid tribute. From this it ajipears
that Thanes were collectors of the King's revenue and
received perquisites of office.

They conducted their followers to the field, as it was an
essential ])art of their dress to go abroad with a s)^ear in
their hands. It appears by the laws of King David that
Thanes held of the King and also of Earls ; as Thanes of
both descriptions were subjected to certain ])enalties if
they were absent from the loyal army, and are distin-
guished from Barons and ^lilites.

They, no doubt, paid out of their lands a certain yearly
revenue, in kind, to those from whom they had their
grants. It is uncertain what jurisdiction they had in
their domains, or if they ap})eared before the King's or
Earl's judges. By an order of William the Lion, in the
Ohartulary of Moray, when the Villanus or Rusticus


refuses to pay tithes, his Thane, or Dominus, if he has a
Domiuus, shall seize them from him; but if the Thane or
Lord neglect this, then the Vice-Comes, or Sheriff, and
failinir him, the King's Justiciar, shall seize the tithes and
the penalty for neglect of ]iayment.

A thanedom was less than a sheriffdom or county, as
there were several thanedoms in Moray. In Banflshire
there were also many of them, as the thanedom of Boyne,
of Conwath, of Aberkirdor, Nathdole, &c. And in the
foundation charter of the Bishoprick of Aberdeen by
Malcolm IV. he endows it, among other revenues, with
the tithes of his thaneages in the counties of Aberdeen
and Banff.

§ 1. Roman Progress.

The idea of Caledonian independence long influenced
the opinions of our historians and antiquaries. It pre-
vented their judging with candour of the proofs that the
Romans penetrated to the northern part of Scotland.
These prejudices now begin to subside, and Scotsmen
allow equal weight to the same degree of evidence of the
Roman progress in their native country, as they do with
regard to Germany, or any other province of that empire
which they are not particularly interested in.

This evidence and information is not to be derived from
the legendary tales of our historians, or the crude theories
of our antiquarians, founded in fiction and supported by
credulity. The genuine sources they are to be drawn from,
are the Roman and Greek writers. The history they give
us of the Roman progress in this island, is confirmed by
those stupendous monuments of their power and industry
that remain — as walls, stations, military roads, and ruins
of towns.

It is from Tacitus' life of Agricola, that we obtain the
first correct information of the success of the Roman arms
in Scotland. He commanded their troops for nine years,
and penetrated into Scotland as far as the foot of the
Grampian mountains. Had Tacitus' account of Agricola's
eight campaigns been attended to, the field of his battle
with the Caledonian chief, Galgacus, could never be con-
jectured to have been in Strathearn, near the kirk of
Comrie, nor at Fortingal Camp, a place somewhat farther
on the other side of the Tay. These places are too inland,


as that campaign was near the sea coast. The land army
and fleet co-operated in attacking the enemy and support-
ing each other. The sailors often were in the Roman
camps, and detailed the dangers they encountered by sea
to the legions, who related the hardships they were
exposed to in their marches through hills and forests.
This was also the case in Agricola's sixth and seventh
campaigns; and remains of his fortitietl camps are yet ta
be seen from Camelon, near Falkirk, to his camp at
Stonehaven, and the extensive works on Finlaystone hill,
near to Ury, where the battle with Galgacus was fought.
Though it is a little foreign to the present inquiry, yet
it throws light on the Roman progress at large, to mention
the series of Agricola's camps, during the three years he
employed in his progress northward, after his crossing the
Bodotria, or Forth. They are taken from a map that
General Roy published several years ago, and have all
been verified : — Camelon, Kier, Ardoch, Camp Castle,
Strageth, Perth, Grassywalls, Burghtay, Lintrose, Coupar
in Angus, Kirkboddo, Battle Dykes, Kiethick, Fordun,
Stonehaven. This chain of posts, not far distant from
the sea shore, preserved the communication with his fleet
and secured both his conquests and retreat. The remains
of a Roman camp were, some years ago, to be seen near
the shore at Stonehaven, but are now effaced. It was the
station Agricola occupied, before his battle with Galgacus.
The extensive works on Finlaystone hill, about two miles
to the west of Stonehaven, contain within the entrench-
ments about 120 Scots acres. There the Caledonians
encamped, who learned this art of fortification from the
Romans, and had it so large as to contain their flocks and
herds. The face of the ground between Stonehaven and
Finlaystone hill corresponds to Tacitus' descri|)tion, par-
ticularly at Campstone hill, a mile to the north-east, and
near to the sea shore, where was the field of battle, as
there are the remains of many small cairns and some
single-stone obelisks.

It was Agricola's plan, according to Tacitus, to have
penetrated to the extremities of Britain. With this view,
his fleet sailed round the island, and, as Juvenal informs,
conquered the Orkney Islands. So enterprising and
steady a general would have completed his plan, had not
Domitian's jealousy recalled him. His successor was


Lucullus, who also appears to have been eminent in the
military line ; and there is every degree of probability
that he pushed his conquests at least to Inverness. This
opinion is combated by national vanity and prejudice ; but
if the evidence it is supported by is carefully examined,
and impartially v^^eighed, it will be found strong, if not

Ptolemy of Alexandria flourished about the year 140 of
thell Christian era. He wrote a System of Geography,
which is yet extant, and gives not onl}^ the longitude and
latitude of the sea coasts of Scotland, but that of some of
the northern and inland places of it. He names the
towns of Tuessis, Ptoroton, Banatia, Tamea, and the
different clans of inhabitants who occupied the whole
country. This information he could only obtain from the
Romans ; and making some allowances for the inaccuracy
of the observations communicated to him, or from perhaps
the errors in the manuscripts of his work, there is more
exactness in the relative situation he gives of places, than
at first could be supposed. The east in modern maps is
the west in his. Notwithstanding this, and that he
makes the coasts of Scotland trend to the east instead of
running north or so, yet he lays down the places agree-
able to their real situation on the respective sides of the

His Tables have been often misrepresented and tortured
to support h^q^othesis and opinion. This arose from not
delineating a map agreeable to the degrees he assigns.
Had this been done, Ptoroton, or Castra Alata, would
never have been placed at Cramond or Edinburgh, but
where Ptolemy places it, on the Sinus Vararis, the Moray
Firth. But allowing Ptolemy's geography to be more
inaccurate than it is, it decidedly proves that, when he
wrote, the Romans were well acquainted with the interior
country of the north of Scotland, as well as the sea coasts.

The inhabitants of the Province of Moray he names
Vacomagi and Calcdonij. Among them, on the Sinus
Vararis, or Moray Firth, he places Tuessis, which answers
to much about where Gordon Castle is. An English mile
to the north of Gordon Castle, are the remains of an
Encampment which, from its square figure, and ditch, and
ramparts, and ports, has every appearance of being Roman,
It no doubt was originally intended to cover the ford on


the river Tuessis, or Spey, which at that period ran at
the foot of the bank on which the station was jilaced.

Ptolemy mentions Ptoroton Stratopcdon, or Castra
Alata, in the country of the Vacomagi, wdiich, from the
situation which he assigns to it on the Moray Firth, and
its relative position to Tuessis, can be no other than what
is now called " the Burgh," a fisher-town in the parish
of Dull us.

In the same country of the Vacomagi, or Province of
Moray, the Alexandrian geographer mentions Banatia as
in the neighbourhood of Tuessis and Ptoreton. When
the river Ness issues from the loch it runs about five or