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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Online LibraryLachlan ShawThe 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 text (page 6 of 37)
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rounded it inclosed an area of about 5 acres in extent, and had
a tf'.rre ideiu inside, upon which the engines used for its defence
were worked.

The keej), or square tower, which had three storeys, was 50
feet high and 30 feet broad. It had a crenellated battlement
and watch-towers at the four corners. The walls were 9 feet
thick. The gateway leading into the court was apjiroached by
a drawbridge across the moat. It Avas machicolated, and had
its portcullis flanked by two circular towers. These entrance
towers were much in the style of architecture })eculiar to the
castles of Edward I. of England. They were probably built
after William le Fitz Warrene had been beleaguered in this
castle l)y the insurgents of 1297. On that occasion the
P)iRhop of Aberdeen, and Gratney Earl of Mar, were sent by
Kdward to the relief of this garrison, and directed to adopt
such measures, in concert Avith Eitz "\^'arrene, as they might
tliink necessary to strengthen the fortifications. The result of
tlieir engineering skill was pro])ably the erection of those
massive circular towers Avhich are so characteristic of the style
of military architecture practised in the time of that monarch.
It would seem that the fortifications and outworks thus added
by Edward to the original stronghold noAV became the means


According to this view of the country of Moray,
it extends from east to west by the side of the
Firth, ?.<?., from Speymonth to Beauly, 39 Scot-
tish or about 60 Enghsh miles ; and the Eiver
Farar, from Loch Monar to Beauly, runneth 30
Scottish miles from S.W. to N.E. Thus the
utmost extent from N.E. to S.W. is 69 Scottish
or 104 English miles. And if we take the breadth
from the Eirth at Inverness to the Braes of Glen-
feshie in Badenoch it is about 38 Scottish, or 57
English miles.

of enabling the garrison to maintain a protracted defence
against his troops. It held out for several weeks, but was at
length stormed and taken in the spring of 1304, Its gallant
commandant, de Bois, was apparently a scion of the family of
Bosco or AVood of Eedcastle, represented in the early part of
the 13th century by Sir Andrew de Bosco, who married
Elizabeth, Lady of Kilraveck, one of the three daughters of Sir
John Bisset of Lovat. De Bois and the brave garrison he
commanded were put to the sword ; the only one of all the
besieged who was not slain being the wife of de Bois, who
contrived to make her escape in the disguise of a servant.

Sir Kobert Lauderdale of Quarrelwood, in Morayshire,
governor of the castle in 1334, maintained it against the
Baliol faction. His daughter, marrying the Laird of Chishohu
in Strathglass, their son, Sir Robert Chisholm of that ilk,
became Laird of Quarrehvood, in' right of his mother, and also
constable of Urquhart Castle, in right of his grandfather. In
1359 the barony and Castle of Urquhart were disponed by
David II. to William, Earl of Sutherland, and to his son John.
In the Register of the Great Seal of Robert II., 1373, there is
a grant of the Castle and Barony of Urquhart to his son, David
Seneschalus, failing whom to Alexander Seneschalus. In
1509 they fell into the hands of the chief of the Clan Grant,
in whose possession they abide.

Small remains of a small Religious house, which belonged to
the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, are adjacent to Castle
Urquhart. (Ed.)



This country lieth in the 57th degree of north
latitude, and Speymouth is ahout 35 minutes
east from Edinburgh. With respect to the
neighbom'ing countries, the Moray Firth and the
River of Farar separate it from Ross to the north,
and from Spe}T[nouth towards the S.E. the south
and S.W. It bordereth upon the Enzie, Strath-
deveron, Strathdon, Braemar, Athole, Ranach,
and Lochaber.


The division of tliis country may be considered
in a three-fold view.

I. The Natural Division, which is two-fold.
First, into Lowlands and Highlands. The Low-
lands are those plains that are not intermixed
with mountains and hills, but are situated near
the Firth, and are in some places four, in some
six miles broad. The Highlands are the straths
and valleys on the sides of rivers, separated from
the Lowlands by mountains and hills. This
points to the second natural division, which is
made by the rivers that fall into the Firth. And
here the strath or valley of Spey makes the first
division ; which, running from the Firth to the
borders of Lochaber, is inclosed on both sides by
a chain of hills, and is a barrier to the low country,
covering it from one end to the other. In tlie


Lowlands, the other rivers divide the country
from east to west into five unequal divisions.
Thus, from Spey to Lossie, 6 miles ; from Lossie
to Ern or Findhorn, 9 miles ; from Findliorn to
Nairn, 7 miles ; from Nairn to Ness, 12 miles ;
and from Ness to Farar, 5 miles. And all these
rivers run almost parallel to one another, from
S.W. to N.E.

II. The Civil or Political Division, into counties
or shires, for the more easy distribution of justice
to the people. A part of the county of Banff,
the whole county of Elgin and Forres, the whole
county of Nairn, and a part of the county of
Inverness, lie within this province or country.

III. The Ecclesiastic Division, into Parishes,
Presbyteries, Dioceses, and Commissariots. I
here only mention the Political and Ecclesiastical
divisions, of which I shall in the following parts
treat at large.




TN viewing the geographical face of this country,
I shall follow the Natural Division of it above
mentioned, passing from one parish forward to
another, and in every parish obsemng the situa-
tion of the chm'ch, the extent of the parish, the
principal baronies, heritors, and seats or dwellings,
and what else merits observation.

The valley of the River Spey makes the first
branch of the Natural Division, and therefore I
shall first describe this strath or valley, after I
have given some account of


This ^i^■er lias its fountains on the borders of
Lochaber. It fioweth out of a small lake about
half a mile in length, called Loch Spey, and
running from S.W. to N.E. it watereth the
countries of Badenoch, Strathspey, and Eothes,
and then turning due north it discharges its
stream into the Moray Firth at Gennadi [Gar-
mouth] after a course of about GO Scottish or 90
English miles. It seemeth to have its name from


the Teutonic or Pictish word 8]pe {Sjmtuin),
because the rapidity of it raiseth much foam or
froth. Many lesser rivers from the Grampian
Mountains swell its stream so much that the
manuscript De Situ AlbanicB, written in the 12th
century, calleth it (in the Latin of these days)
" Magnum et miserabile flumen, quod vocatur
Sj^e.''* The strath of this river is inclosed to
the N. and W. by a ridge of hills, which, begin-
ning in the parish of Urquhart near the sea, runs
above Elgin, Forres, Inverness, and Loch Ness
to Lochaber. And to the S. and E. a part of the
Grampian Mountains runneth along Strathspey
and Badenoch, and several glens jut into these
mountains, which shall be described in their
proper place.

[The Spey rises in the Braes of Lochaber, close on the
water-shed with Lochaber, only | mile from Glenroy and 6
miles from Loch Laggan. Less than a mile below its source it
expands into a tiny lake called Loch Spey. Measuring its run
in a straight line, for 37 miles its course is in Inverness-shire,
and over that distance it Hows 15 miles eastward and 22 miles
north-east. Tt receives on its left bank the Markie, the Calder,
the Dulnain, and some half dozen burns. On its right there
flow into it the Truim, the Tromie, the Feshie, and numerous
minor streams. It traverses the parishes of Laggan, Kingussie,
and Alvie, forming in its glen the seat of by far the greater
part of their population. In the parish of Kingussie it aver-
ages from 80 to 100 feet in breadth, varies from 2 to 16 feet
in depth, and moves at the mean rate of about 3 miles in the
hour. In tlie parish of Alvie it expands into Loch Inch, is
partly gentle and partly impetuous, and has a mean breadth of
about 150 feet. Over the next 30 miles of its course, still
measuring in a straight line, its direction continues to be N.E.,
and over the last 15, or from Craigellachie Bridge to the

* Translation — The large and dangerous river, which is called

VOL. I. 4

50 THE spey; detuvatiox of beltje.

Moray Firth at Garmouth, it is toward the north. Over 21
miles of these 45, it chiefly flows between Inverness-shire and
Morayshire, yet runs across wings and intersecting parts of both
counties ; and over the remaining 24 chiefly divides Morayshire
from Banftshiro, yet cuts oft' considerable wings of the former,
and at one place is touched by a tiny detached part of Nairn-
shire. It receives on its left bank the Didnain, 2^ miles above
Grantown ; and on its right the Nethy at Abernethy, the Avon
at Ballindalloch, and the Fiddich below Craigellachie. Its
entire length, measuring in straight lines, is about 82 miles,
but measured along the curvatures of its channel, it cannot be
less than 120 miles. The valley or strath of the Spey is
extensively covered M-ith pine, birch, and alder, suggesting an
image of Caledonia at the Roman invasion, or of a prairie in
the wilds of America.] — (Ed.)

I proceed now to


This parish in Irish is called Bealidh, i.e.,
Broom. It is situated on the east bank of the
Kiver Spey, at the mouth of it.

The Church standeth near the bank of the
river, two miles above the firth.

The great ornament of this parish is the house
of Gordon Castle, the seat of the Duke of Gordon,
This house was founded by George, Earl of
Huntly, who died a.d. 1507. It is a large and
grand pile ; but, consisting of several apartments
built at different times, it cannot be very regular.
The rooms of state are grand, well finished and
furnished, with fine pictures; and the library
containeth a valuable collection of books. The
house is environed with parks and enclosures and
much planting, old and young. The gardens are
spacious, well laid out, and watered with a pond


and Jet d'eau. But the house, by its low situa-
tion betwixt the river to the west and a high hill
to the east, commandeth no view of the adjacent
country. It was formerly called the Bog of GigJit,
in Irish, Bug iia gaoith, i.e., the windy Bog.

[The original of this vast quadrangular Gothic pile was a
gloomy tower in the centre of a morass called the Bog of (xight
Bogeii-Ghjht, accessible only l>y a narrow causeway and a draw-
bridge. The ferry, or ferry-boat across the Spey was for ages
known as Boat d Bog, now supplanted by the Bridge of Spey.
The most ancient title of the Duke of Gordon was the Gudeinan
d tlie Bog, but in those feudal times the said soubriqueted
Gudeman was anything but good to those of his vassals o' tlte
Bog who gainsaid him. Thomas Pennant, in his "Tour in
Scotland," 17G9, vol. i., p. 142, says: — "Castle Gordon, origi-
nally called the Castle of the Bog of Giglit, inherits at present
very little of its former [Moorish] splendour. By accident I
met with an old print that shows it in all the magnificence
described by a singular traveller of the middle of the last
century. This gentleman, Richard Franks, made his journey
in 1658, and went through Scotland as far as the Water of
Brora, in Sutherland, to enjoy as he travelled the amusement
of angling. In his "Northern Memoirs" (12mo., London,
1694) he says — '■' Bogaglctli, the Marquis of Huntly's palace, all
built of stone, facing the ocean, whose fair front (set prejudice
aside) worthily deserves an Englishman's applause for her lofty
and majestic towers and turrets that storm the air, and seem-
ingly make dents in the very clouds. At first sight I must
confess it struck me with admiration to gaze on so gaudy and
regular a frontispiece, more especially to consider it in the
nook of a nation." The principal pictures in Castle Gordon
are (1) the first Marquis of Huntly, who, on his first arrival at
Court, forgetting the usual obeisance, was asked why he did
not bow; he begged His Majesty's pardon, and excused his
want of respect by saying he was just come from a place where
everybody bowed to him. (2) The second Marquis of Huntly,
beheaded by the Covenanters. (3) His son, the gallant Lord
Gordon, Montrose's friend, killed at the battle of Auldford. (4)
Lord Lewis Gordon, a less generous warrior, the plague of the
people of Murray, whence this prov^erb, " The guil, the Gordon,
and the hooded-craw were the three worst things ISlurray ever
saw." The guil is a weed that infests corn. JMurray was then
the seat of the Covenanters, hence the contrast of characters in


these old lines — " If ye -snth Montrose gae, ye'l get sic and -vvae
enough ; if ye with Lord Lewis gae, ye'l get rob and rave
enough." (5) The head of the second Countess of Huntly,
daughter of James L (6) Sir Peter Frazier, a full length, in
armour. (7) A small fine portrait of the Abbe d'Auljigne
sitting in his study. (8) A very fine head of St. Jolm receiving
the Eevelation — a beautiful expression of attention and devotion.

The Duke of Gordon still keeps up the diversion of falconry,
and had several fine hawks of the Peregrine and gentle falcon
species, which breed in the rocks of Glenmore. I saw also
here a true Highland greyhound, which is now become vei-j-
scarce. It was of a very large size, strong, deep-chested, ami
covered with very long and rough hair. This kind was in
great vogue in former days, and used in vast numl)ers at the
magnificent stag-chases by the poAverful chieftains. I also saw
here a dog, the oftspring of a wolf and Pomeranian bitch. It
had much the appearance of the first, was very good-natured
and sportive, but l)eing slipped at a Aveak deer it instantly
])rought tlie animal down and tore out its throat. This dog
was bred by Mr. Brook, animal merchant in London, who told
me tluit the congress between the Molf and the bitch was
immediate, and the produce at the litter was ten."

The old Cross of Fochabers stands in the Castle Park, to
which is attached a portion of the original Jonr/>t.'\ — (Ed.)

Close by the castle staudeth the village of
Fochaber, so called, in my opinion, from the
Irish Fo-hobir, i.e., below the Well; for above
it, in the face of the hill, is a well or foimtain,
the waters whereof sei-ve the town. The town is
a bm'gh of barony, hath a weekly market, and in
the centre of it there is a court-house, with a
steeple of modern architectiu'e. It has a post-
office, and at the west of it is a passage over
Spey, called the Boat of Bog, upon the post-road.

[the family of GORDON, DUKE OF GORDON.

Of this family, which took their surname from the
lands whicli they possessed in the shire of Berwick, there
arc, Itesides these in Britain, several iu Muscovy, who
make a trreat figure there.


In the time of King Malcolm IV., which is 750 years
ago, this family was veiy numerous, and flourished in the
county aforesaid, one of which was Bertram de Gordon,
who, at the siege of Chalne in Aquitain, as it is said,
wounded to death King Richard I. of England.

About 550 years since, upon the fall of Commins, the
superiority of the county of Mar, or Aberdeen, was given
to this family by King Robert de Bruce, and upon that
occasion they removed thither from their original country;
where the family and their branches possessed many con-
siderable baronies, among which is the Lordship of Gordon;
and now they enjoy as many in the north and west, there
being of this family, besides his Grace the Duke, the Earls
of Aboyn and Aberdeen, and the Viscount Kenmure.

This family had also many lands bestowed upon them
for their fidelity to their princes ; but suffered much by
their adhering to Queen Mary, King Charles I., and King
James VII., and are descended from Richard de Gordon,
who, in 1267, gave lands to the Abbey of Kelso.

To Richard succeeded Thomas, his son, who was also a
benefactor to the aforesaid Abbey ; and Thomas, his son,
according to the devotion of those times, taking upon him
the sign of the cross, left his inheritance to his daughter
Alicia, which daughter being married to Adam Gordon,
her kinsman, by him had Sir Adam Gordon, Knight, their
son and heir.

Sir Adam, who succeeded, lived in the year 1303, and
confirmed all the donations made to Kelso by Richard,
Thomas, and Adam Gordon, his progenitors ; and being a
zealous assertor of the independency and freedom of his
native country, stood in such high favour with King
Robert Bruce, that the said King, in consideration of his
good services, gave him the Lordship of Strathbogy, in
which he was succeeded by Sir Alexander, his son.

To Sir Alexander, who was next heir, and in 1346 lost
his life at the battle of Durham in behalf of King David
II., succeeded Sir John Gordon, his son, which Sir John,
in the 28th of the said King, obtained a charter for erect-
ing all his lands into an entire barony of Strathbogy.

To Sir John succeeded Sir David, his son, who was the
2nd Baron ; and he being slain in 1401 at the battle of
Homildon, in the service of his country, left issue by
Elizabeth, his wdfe, daughter to the Lord Keith, an only


daughter of her name, who was his heir; and she, in
14(KS, married Sir Alexander Seaton, second son to Sir
William Seaton of that ilk, to whom Robert, Duke of
Albany, in the third year of his government, gave a
charter and confirmation of the lands and baronies of
Gordon, Huntley, Strathbogj^ and several others, by him
had Alexander Seaton, who succeeded, and William Seaton
of Meldrum.

Alexander, who was heir to the baronies aforesaid, and
the ord Baron thereof, was also one of the hostages for
the ransom of King James I., and in 1487 was joined in
commission with John, Bishop of Glasgow, Sir Walter
Ogilvy, and Sir John Forrester, Knights, to treat of a
peace w-ith England, which they happily concluded.

In the reign of King James II. he resumed the surname
of Gordon, and placed the arms of that name in the first
([uarter, and for his noble services performed to that King
in his minority was made Sheriff of Inverness and created
Earl of Huntly, and had also divers manors and lordships
(as Badzcnoch, kc.) given him, which he long enjoyed.

This Earl, marrying to his first wife Honora, daughter
and heir to Robert Keith, grandson to Sir William Keith,
^larishal of Scotland, and Honora his wife, heiress to the
Lord Frazer, by her had no issue, but with whom he got
the lands of Touch, Eraser, Aboyne, Glentanner, Glen-
muick, and Cluny. By his second wife, who was Giles,
• laughter and heir to John Hay, Baron of Tullibod}',
Touch, and Enzie, he had Sir Alexander Gordon, Knight,
wlio was the first of the family of Touch. By his third
wife, who was Margaiet, daughter to William Lord
( 'hrichton. Chancellor of Scotland, he had a son named
George, and three daughters, whereof Jane was married
to James Dunbar, Earl of Murray; Elizabeth to William,
Earl of ^larishal ; and Christian to William, Lord Forbes.

To Alexander, Earl of Huntly, succeeded George, his
son by the third wife (the honour being so limited^ which
George was one of the Privy Council to King James HI.,
as he was to James IV., and by liim made Lord Lieutenant
of the north of Scotland and Lord High Clianeellor of
that kingdom, in which eminent station lie continued till
his death, being the space of eight years.

He married to his first wife, the Lady .lane Steuart,
dautrhter to l\ing James I., and alter hvv decease, Aones,


daughter to William, Earl of Errol, and, dying in 1507,
left issue (but by which of his wives is not said), three
sons and four daughters ; of the sons, Alexander, the
eldest, succeeded his father ; Adam, the second, was Earl
of Sutherland ; and Sir James was Admiral of Scotland.
And of the daughters, which were Catherine, Janet,
Agnes, and Mary, the eldest was married to Perkin
Warbeck, the pretended Duke of York ; the second, first
to Alexander, son and heir to David, Earl of Crawford,
and after, to Patrick, Lord Gray ; the third, to Sir James
Ogilvie of Finlater; and the youngest, to Sir William
Sinclair of Westraw, in the county of Caithness.

Alexander, who succeeded his father, and was the Srd
Earl of Huntly, was one of the Privy Council to King-
James IV., which Prince he accompanied to the battle of
Flodden, and commanded the van of the army with valour
and conduct; and surviving that fatal day was, in the
minority of James V., made Lord Lieutenant of the
north, beyond the River of Forth, and one of his Majesty's

He married Jane, daughter to the Earl of Athole, and
by her had a son named John, who died in his life time,
leaving issue by Jane, his wife, natural daughter to King
James IV., by Margaret, daughter to John, Lord Drum-
mond, three sons and two daughters, whereof George
succeeded his grandfather ; Alexander was Bishop of
Galloway ; and William Bishop of Aberdeen : and of the
daughters, which were Janet and Isabel, the eldest was
married to Colin, Earl of Argyle, and the youngest to the
Lord Innermeath.

George, who was heir to his grandflither, and the 4th
Earl of Huntly, was a nobleman of great and eminent
parts, and thereby, in 1536, became one of the Privy
Council and Lord Lieutenant of Scotland during his
Majesty's going to France to espouse Queen Magdalen ;
and, upon the death of his master, was one of the Peers
who signed and sealed that association to oppose the
intended match between Queen Mary and Edward VI. of
England. In the 4th of Queen Mary, 1546, he was
appointed Lord High Chancellor of Scotland ; and after-
wards, in consideration of his extraordinary services at
the battle of Pinkie Cleugh, in defence of his country
against the English (and other his services to the Crown),


he had a grant of the Earldom of Murray and the Lord-
ship of Ahornethy, which he enjoyed for divers years, and
died in 15G3. He married Elizabeth, daughter to Robert,
son and heir to William, Earl of ^larishal, and by her
had five sons and three daughters, of which George, the
second son, was next heir; and of the daughters, who were
Jane, Elizabeth, and Margaret, the eldest was married to
Alexander, Earl of Sutherland, the second to John, Earl
of Athole, and the youngest to Lord Forbes.

George, who succeeded, and was the oth Earl of Huntly,
was one of the Privy Council to Queen Mary, Lord High
Chancellor of Scotland, and Lieutenant-General of all her
Majesty's forces in the north, and dying 1576, left issue
by Anne his wife, daughter to James, Duke of Chatel-
herault, George, his onl}^ son, and a daughter named Jane,
who was married to George, Earl of Caithness.

George, who was the 6th Earl, and 1st Marquis, of
Huntly, and heir to his father, was a nobleman of great
spirit and courage, and was much in the favour of King
James VL, by whom he was made Lord Lieutenant of the
north. Knight of the Bath, and created Marquis of Huntly,
which title he lived to enjoy 85 years. He died at
Dundee in 1636, "was couvoyit with sum freindis to the
Kirk of Belly," where the corpse was kept a night while
on its transit to Elgin Cathedral.

He married Henrietta, daughter to Esme, Duke of
Lennox, and b}^ her had two sons and four daughters ;
Anne married to James, Earl of Murray, Elizabeth to
Alexander, Earl of Linlithgow, ]\Iary to William, Marquis
of Douglas, and Jane to Claud, Lord Strabane, of the
kingdom of L-eland ; and of the sons, which were George
and John, the eldest succeeded his father.

George last mentioned, who was the 2nd Marquis of
Huntl}^ was cajjtain of the Scots Gens-d'Armes to Lewis
XIII. of France, while he was only l^ord Gordon ; and
upon the breaking out of the troubles in the reign of
King Charles I. he, lieing very firm to that Prince's
interests, had a commission to be Lieutenant of the north
during the rage of the civil war, and at the end thereof,
on the 30th of March, 1649, was beheaded at Edinburgh
by the Covenanters.

He married Anne, daughter to Archibald, Earl of
Argyle, by whom he had issue, three sons and three

Online LibraryLachlan ShawThe 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 text (page 6 of 37)