William Fraser.

The earls of Cromartie; their kindred, country, and correspondence (Volume 2) online

. (page 40 of 56)
Online LibraryWilliam FraserThe earls of Cromartie; their kindred, country, and correspondence (Volume 2) → online text (page 40 of 56)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Netherlands, to finish his education. This university was a favourite one with
Scotsmen at that time. In the letter to his father, telling of his journey to
Utrecht, he says that he believed there were no less than fifty Scotsmen at L^trecht

^ Letters at Tarbat House.


then, which was the year 1693. At that time James Mackenzie was only eighteen
years of age. He says that living at Utrecht was not so cheap as at Oxford. It
being a time of war, the fleet from the Thames to Holland went under convoy of
four great men-of-war. He landed at Briell ; went thence to Rotterdam, Delft, the
Hague, and Leyden, on his Avay to Utrecht. His letter gives interesting descrip-
tions of the places he visited.^ On comj^leting his education he devoted himself
to the profession of law, was admitted an advocate on the 19th of November 1698,
and soon became one of the most distinguished members of the Scottish Bar.

Her Majesty Queen Anne was pleased to create him a Baronet, by patent
dated 8th February 1 704, with limitation to him and his heirs-male whatsoever.^
The patent bears to be granted for his good and thankful services, and also
for the many notable and eminent services done by his father, George Earl of
Cromartie, to the Queen and her royal progenitors.

Sir James Mackenzie was a frequent correspondent of his father, Lord
Cromartie, and many of his letters are printed in the present collection. They
relate to both public and private affairs.

On the resignation of his uncle, Roderick Mackenzie, Lord Prestonhall, as an
ordinary Lord of Session, Sir James Mackenzie was appointed his successor, and
took his seat on the 7th of June 1710 as Lord Royston. He obtained from her
Majesty, Queen Anne, a royal commission, dated 2 2d July, same year, as a Lord
of Justiciary in the room of James Erskine, Lord Grange, who succeeded, as Lord
Justice-Clerk, Adam Cockburn of Ormiston, whom her Majesty had deprived of
that office, though he retained his place as an ordinary Lord till his death.
James second Duke of Queensberry, one of the principal Secretaries of State, in
a letter to Lord Royston, which he sent along with the Queen's commission of
the same date, informs him that as it was said that the late Justice-Clerk in-
tended to dispute her Majesty's power of depriving him, it was the Queen's
pleasure that his commission should not take effect till the other matter should
be adjusted, and this was expressly'' mentioned in his patent.

In the year 1739 Lord Royston, with the concurrence of George Mackenzie, his
son, obtained an Act of Parliament, authorising him, with the consent of Charles
Erskine of Tinwall, Lord Advocate, the Honourable William Maule of Panmure,
and others, or any two of them, to sell the barony of Royston for the purpose of
discharging the debts affecting it. The Act declared that Lord Royston should not,
1 Letter, vol. i. pp. 98-100. ^ Reg. ilag. Sig., Lib. Ixxx. No. 24, supra, p. 359.




by selling the barony of Royston, be considered as contravening the entail of the
barony. The Act further provided that the trustees should lay out the surplus of the
price in the purchase of other lands in fee-simple, which should be settled on Lord
Royston and the other surviving heirs of entail, according to their different rights
and interests, and in the same order and course of succession secured to them
respectively by the entail of the barony of Royston. The barony was purchased
by John second Duke of Argyll, who made it one of his residences, and changed
the name of the mansion to Caroline Park.

After Lord Royston's death without surviving male issue, a lawsuit was
commenced by Sir George Mackenzie of Graiidvale and Cromartie, as next heir
in the entail of Royston, against Sir John Steuart of Grandtully, the grandchild
of Lord Royston, on the allegation that debts had been created l)y Lord Roy-
ston to lessen the surplus price available to the heirs of entail f(jr the benefit
of his grandchild. Sir George appears to have died before his lawsuit was
decided ; but his successor. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie of Grandvale and Cromartie,
ultimately succeeded in it. On the death of Sir Kenneth in 1763, the third
Earl of Cromartie was next heir of entail, but, being under forfeiture, the surplus
price became escheated to the Crown. In 1766 a gift of the interest of it
was made by the Crown to Lord Macleod, through the influence of the Court of
Sweden, as already mentioned, subject to an annuity of £50 to Lady Mackenzie,
widow of Sir George Mackenzie of Grandvale and Cromartie, and another of the
same amount to Mr. Callender of Craigforth. The surplus price then amounted
to £4813, 17s. 9d.

Lord Royston possessed for some time the superiority of Little Farnese, which
had been given to him for a freehold qualification in the shire of Cromartie.
Some years before his death he purchased the lands of Avoch from Mackenzie
of Delvin, and to this property he gave the name of Farnese. It was commonly
called Avoch, alias Farnese.

Lord Royston married Elizabeth, youngest daughter of Sir George Mackenzie
of Rosehaugh, well known as Lord Advocate in the reigns of Charles the Second
and James the Seventh, who, from the alleged severity with which he prosecuted
the nonconforming Presbyterians, acquired the soubriquet of " the bloody Mac-
kenzie." This lady was the widow of Sir Archibald Cockburn of Langton. On
the death of her father, Sir George Mackenzie, Lord Advocate, a dispute respect-
ing his entailed estates of Belmont arose between Lord Royston's son, George


Mackenzie, and James first Earl of Bute, who married Agnes Mackenzie, eldest
daughter of Sir George, the Lord Advocate, and the case was brought before the
Court of Session, where it was long and keenly contested. After varying deci-
sions, the suit was ultimately decided in favour of the Bute family ; and the pre-
sent Earl of Wharncliffe, who is a branch of the Bute family, is the successor of
the Lord Advocate Mackenzie in his entailed estates.

By Elizabeth Mackenzie, Lord Eoyston had one son and one daughter : —
1. George of Farnese, who married Isabella Steuart, daughter of Mr. Archibald
Steuart, Writer to the Signet. George Mackenzie of Farnese died at Edinburgh,
on the 1.5th of May 1744, "after a tedious illness," without issue. His remains
were laid, on the 18th of the same month, in the tomb of his maternal grand-
father, Sir George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh, in the Greyfriars' Churchyard, Edin-
burgh.^ In intimating his death to his grandson, John Steuart, son of Colonel
John Steuart, Lord Roj'ston adds, " My present distress does not permit me to
write more, but that I am, dear child, j'our afflicted grandfather." Isabella
Steuart survived George Mackenzie, and married, secondly, on the 3d of October
1748, Sir Robert Henderson of Fordell, Baronet, to whom she had a son, Sir John
Henderson of Fordell, Baronet.

2. Elizabeth Mackenzie, who married Colonel John Steuart, afterwards Sir
John Steuart of Grandtully. Colonel Steuart, as representing Lord Roystou, sold
the lands of Avoch or New Farnese, with some other superiorities, which Lord
Royston retained in Ross and Cromartie. Sir John Steuart sur\dved his first
wife, Elizabeth Mackenzie. His second Avife was the Lady Jane Douglas, sister
and heiress of the last Duke of Douglas ; and her two sons by him gave rise to
the famous Douglas cause, which was decided in favour of the elder surviving son,
Archibald Douglas, who was created Lord Douglas of Douglas.

^ Greyfriars' Burial Register, vol. xvii. p. himself very brave who could go rip to the
277. Sir George Mackenzie, as Lord Advo- door and cry in at the kej'-hole —

cate, had to act as public prosecutor of the

,-, J. m • 1 1,- 1 " Bluidy Mackenzie, come cot if ye daur.

Covenanters, ihis made him very unpopular , •' ' j ^

-,1 ., ill c i.-u a 4.J.- I, 1 Lift the sneck, and draAV the bar I"
with the great body oi the bcottish people.

His monument was long regarded with ab- After which he would run off as if hobgoblins

horrence by the good people of Edinburgh, were after him, and would not ventiu-e to look

as it was generally believed that the spirit back till he was out of the churchj^ard. —

of the persecutor could get no rest in its [Epitaphs and Monumental Inscriptions in

gloomy vault. The boy used to consider Greyfriars' Churchyard, pj). 238-9.]

424 THE BOYS TON BRANCH. [1071-1744.

Lord Royston died at Edinburgh on the 9th of November 1744, aged seventy-
three years, being then the senior Lord of Session, and was buried in the tomb
of his father-in-law, Sir George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh, in the Greyfriars'
Churchyard, Edinburgh. He is described as a person of vast learning, honour,
and probity ; impartial in judgment, justly ranked among the first judges, in
criminal causes, of the age, and, in private life, a most polite, friendly, agreeable
facetious, and affable gentleman.

A copy of Sir George Mackenzie's Criminal Law, containing copious notes in
the handwriting of his son-in-law. Lord Royston, is preserved in the Advocate's
Library, Edinburgh, and, in a catalogue of books belonging to Sir George Steuart
of GrandtuUy, Baronet, appears the entry — " Royston's (Lord) Manuscript Works,
... 4 vols." What has become of these manuscripts is unknown. They may
have been sold in 1760 Avith the books of Sir George Steuart. An original
portrait of Lord Royston, in oil, on canvas, was also at Murthly, and sold on the
dispersion of the collection after the death of the late Sir William Drummond
Steuart. That portrait is now in the collection of Mr. J. A. Butti, dealer, Queen
Street, Edinburgh. It represents a very fine face, and a large broad brow, indi-
cating great intellectual power.

The original portrait of the first Earl of Cromartie, which was also in the
Murthly collection, Avas purchased for the Faculty of Advocates, and it was placed
in their collection of portraits in the Parliament House.

A description of Royston House, now Caroline Park, is given in a subsequent
Chapter on the Baronies. Royston House was chiefly rebuilt by the first Earl of




TN the memoir of the first Earl of Cromartie it has been shown that the lands
-*- which he inherited from his father, Sir John, and his grandfather, Sir
Roderick Mackenzie, with others which he himself acquired, were erected in the
year 1678 into one barony, called the Barony of Tarbat.

The erection was made by King Charles the Second, by a charter under the
Great Seal, dated at Whitehall the 13th of September 1678, in favour of Sir
George Mackenzie of Tarbat, Knight-Baronet, and John Mackenzie, his eldest
sur^dving son.

The charter of erection united the various lands which Sir George intended
to form the patrimony of the main line of his family. It included the barony of
Coigeach, the lands acquired by Sir Rorie from the barons of Kintail, including
Culteleod and Glenskiach, Kirktoun of Fodderty, lands of Inchveandie and Och-
terneid, lands of Inchrorie, etc., and those he acquired from the family of Dunbar,
and others, including Easter Aird, Easter Tarbat, with tower and fortalice, Meikle
Tarrell, with manor-place, which were erected into the barony of Meikle
Tarrell by a Crown Charter in favour of Sir Rorie Mackenzie ; the parts of the
lands and barony of Delny, which were purchased chiefly from Sir Robert Innes
by Sir George Mackenzie of Tarbat, including Wester PoUo, Badebaa, the lands
of Milntoun of Meddat, with office of Mair of Ross and others ; and many other
lands, patronages, etc., including the heritable office of Bailie of the burgh cf Tain
within the four girth crosses. By the charter of erection, these were all united
into the Barony of Tarbat. The manor- place of Tarbat was ordained to be the
chief messuage of the whole barony.

Tlie charter further proceeding on the narrative that it would prove useful
and convenient to the King's lieges visiting the shires of Ross, Sutherland, Caith-
VOL. 11. 3 H



ness, Orkney, and Shetland, granted that the town of Mihitoun should be
erected into a burgh of barony, and annexed and incorporated the houses and
buildings of Milntoun into the burgh of barony of Tarbat, ordaining the name
of it thenceforth to be Tarbat ; and also erected the city and town of Portma-
chalmok, within the barony of Easter Tarbat, into another burgh of barony, because
it was a town having a commodious haven and shelter for ships, and well adapted
for trade, if there were a sufficient port and receptacle provided for ships there
for the transport of victual ; which city and town of Portmahomack the King
ordained in all time coming to be called the town of Castlehaven ; with power to
the grantee to erect market-crosses in both burghs of barony, and to hold weekly
markets and yearly fairs.'^ The first Earl of Cromartie built a stone pier at Port-
mahomack, but it was allowed to fall into decay.

On a small creek on the north side of Tarbatuess, named Port a'Chaisteil or Castle-
haven, is the site of an ancient castle or fort. From this fort the first Earl of Cro-
martie took his junior title of Lord Castlehaven, and he also transferred the name of
Castlehaven from the ancient fort of Port a' Chaisteil to the village of Portmahomack.
The charter ordains that the name of Portmachalmok was to be changed to the town
of Castlehaven. Lady Margaret Erskine, mother of the first Earl of Cromartie, was
styled Lady Castlehaven some years later. On 18th September 1712, George first
Earl of Cromartie granted a bond of corroboration of three bonds by John Master
of Tarbat, whereby he became bound to pay to George Macleod, son of Alexander
Macleod, to whom the bonds had been granted, the sum of £3701 Scots, and in
security to infeft George Macleod in an annualrent of £203, lis. Id. Scots, furth
of the barony of Castlehaven,'^ which was probably descriptive of Easter Tarbat
and the adjoining lands. John second Earl of Cromartie gave a commission to
Norman Macleod, in Wilkhaven, in Tarbat, to be his chamberlain for the baronies
of Castlehaven and Eister Aird and New Tarbat, and to be baron-bailie within the
baronies of Delnie and of Castlehaven and New Tarbat, dated at New Tarbat, 7th
December 1714.^ In the year 1681, Sir George Mackenzie obtained a ratification
by Parliament of the erection of the barony of Tarbat,* and in the same year an
Act of Parliament was passed erecting Milntoun or Tarbat into a burgh of barony
in his favour, with a weekly market, two yearly fairs, and rights of harbour.^

' Reg. Mag. Sig., Lib. Ixvii. No. 65.
- Cromartie Writs, Bundle Y, No. 141.
^ Cromartie Writs, Bundle 3 0, No. 5.

^ Acts of Parliament, 1681, c. 131, vol. viii.
p. 384.

^ Ibid. vol. viii. p. 386.


The village of Portmahomack, although sometimes called Castlehaveu in the
writs describing it, has retained its original name.

King James the Seventh, as a mark of his royal favour, granted to the Viscount
of Tarbat a signature for a charter to be made and passed under the Great Seal,
erecting the barony of Tarbat into a free regality, to be called the Eegality of
Tarbat, and ordaining the burgh of barony of Tarbat to be the principal burgh
of the regality. That signature recounts the services of Lord Tarbat in very
flattering terms : " His Majestie calling to mind the great, dutiefull, and accept-
able services done and performed be the said George Viscount of Tarbet to his
late Majestie, both as one of the ordinarie Lords of Session, therafter as Lord
Justice-General of the said kingdome of Scotland, and as Lord Eegister, and
likewayes to his present Majestie the tyme of the late rebellion, and in effect in
all Parliaments, Conventions of Estates, and all other capacities, stations, and
employments C[uherin he had occasion to give evidents of his loyaltie, and of his
constant and dutiful adherence to his Majestie's crovvn and dignitie ; and being
desirous and willing, out of his bountie and goodness, to conferr a furder chartor
of his royal favor upon the said George Viscount of Tarbet, and the said Master
of Tarbet, his sone, and their posteritie, and to encourage them to persevere and
continue according to their bond dutie in the like services for the future."

In terms of that signature, a charter passed the Great Seal on 9th June 1686,
in favour of Lord Tarbat, of the regality of Tarbat.^ The erection of the regality
was ratified in the Parliament of Scotland in the same year.-

The place from which Sir George Mackenzie transferred the name of Tarbat
to IMilntoun and the whole barony was Easter Tarbat, in the parish of Tarbat.
Easter Tarbat was acquired by Sir Rorie Mackenzie of Coigeach, Knight, in the
year 1623. In that year he purchased from George Monro of Meikle Tarrell the
lands of Eister Aird, Eister Tarbat, and Meikle Tarrell, for the sum of 110,000
merks. The disposition is dated at Nairn 17th IMay 1623 ; and he obtained from
King James the Sixth a charter of these lands on 31st July 1623, by which they
were erected into a barony, to be called the barony of Meikle Tarrell, the manor-
place of Meikle Tarrell to be the principal messuage. The lands of Easter Tarbat
were called sometimes Ballone. The principal residence on them while they
belonged to the Dunbars was the Castle of Tarbat or Ballone, a large structure,
now in ruins. It was probably erected by the Earls of Koss ; and it was the
1 Eeg. Mag. Sig., Lib Ixxi. Xo. 148. ' Acts of Parliament, 16S6, c. 58, vol. viii. p. 624.


largest of six mansions in the parish of Tarbat, which were inhabited down to
the beginning of the last century. A drawing of Tarbat or Ballone Castle is
given in this work. Besides these six mansions, there were three chapels in the
parish. One of these was called Dunbar's Chapel.

Easter Aird belonged to the Earldom of Eoss, and was granted, in 1463, by
John of Yle and Earl of Ross, to Donald Corbatt, his native esquire, having
formerly belonged to John Tullach.^ They remained in possession of the family
of Corbet for a considerable time, and were sometimes called Corbet's Land. In
1538 they came into the possession of James Dunbar of Tarbat. George Monro
of Tarrell bought them in 1610; and his son sold them to Sir Rorie Mackenzie.

Tarrell also was part of the Earldom of Ross, and was held by a family of the
same name of Tarrell as early as 1382, and before that by a family named Boner.
In that year Alexander Stewart, Earl of Buchan, Lord of Ross and of Badenach,
granted a writ, certifying that Andrew of Terrell was cited to compear before the
Earl at Dingwall to show by what evidents he held his tenement of Terrell. Andrew
of Terrell, through infirmity, was unable to appear, but his procurators, in a Court
held at Dingwall on the 4th of March 1382, said, and pledged themselves, that
Andrew's charter was burnt and destroyed by a fire in the church of Tarbart, but
that the mode of his infeftment was thus : that his predecessor, John, called Boner,
was infeft heritably in the lands of Terrell by a charter from William, late Earl
of Ross, father of Hugh Earl of Ross, for service, homage, and three suits at the
three head courts of the earldom of Ross, paying therefor three merks to the
Earl and his successors, which three merks William Earl of Ross gave herit-
ably to Andrew of Terrell and his heirs, together with ten shillings annually from
the lands of " Estirharde." These allegations were put to an assize and found
proven, and are certified, under the Earl's seal, by writ, dated 4th March 1382.^

In 1505 Angus M'^Culloch succeeded to the estate of Meikle Tarrell, as heir
to his grandmother, Eufamia Tarrell ; and it remained in his family till it was
acquired by the Monros, through the marriage of Marion M'Culloch, the heiress,
to George Monro, son and heir of George Monro of Newmioir.

Easter Tarbat belonged to the Earldom of Ross, but in the end of the fifteenth
century it was acquired by the Dunbars, who held it till it was sold at the same

1 Charter, p. 331-2, supra. Transumpt made 8th October 1484, supra,

- Original writs of the late Mr. William pp. 322-324.
Stevenson penes Robert Haldane, Esq., W.S.
















time as Easter Aird to George ^Monro of Tarrell. Wester Tiirbat, commonly
called Seafield, was separate from Easter Tarbat, and the marches between these
lands were sometimes in controversy. In the year 1 700 Wester Tarbat belonged to
James Eraser of Auchnagairne. ]\Ir. ]\Iurray of Geanies is the present proprietor.

Tarbat appears to have formed a favourite part of the estates of the Earls of Ross.
The district to the east of Portmahomack was of old called the Forest of the Earls
of Ross. Ferquhard Earl of Ross founded an abbey of Premonstratensian monks at
Fearn, near Kincardine, in Strathcarron ; but about the year 1238 he removed the
abbey to the parish of Tarbat, after which it was called Xew Fearn, or Xova Farina.
He granted to the monks the free use of timber and fuel out of his woods.

Sir John Mackenzie took his designation from Tarbat, and his son, Sir George
Mackenzie, transferred the name to ]\rilutouu and the barony, and he took his
titles as a Lord of Session, and as Viscount, from Tarbat.

Among the other lands and estates incorporated into the barony of Tarbat
was included a property which Sir George Mackenzie bought in the year 1656
from Sir Robert Innes of that Ilk. By disposition, dated 21st June of that year,
Sir George acquired the lands of Milntoun of Meddat, with the mills, the office of
principal serjeant or mair of the Earldom of Ross, the mair's croft in Balconie, the
merkland of TuUoch, the lands and barony of Delny, and others therein specified.
Milntoun of Meddat, or Meath, as it was anciently called, previously belonged to
the family of Monro, and was disponed and apprised from George Monro of ^Nliln-
toun to Robert Innes of that Ilk in the year 1627. The Milntoun is situated on the
coast of the Cromartie Firth, in the parish of Kilmuir Easter.

The office of principal mair or mair of fee of the Earldom of Ross was a very
ancient one, and several of the fees and perquisites attached to it were peculiar.
In the year 1591 a decreet of the Lords of Council and Session was obtained by
Andrew Monro of Newmoir, principal mair of the Earldom of Ross, against Andrew
Lord Dingwall and the feuars, farmers, and possessors of the Earldom of Ross,
for his fees of the office, to wit, 40s. 8d. for the ordinary fee of the said Earldom
yearly, and for every sack of corn brought to the shore to be shipped " ane gopin
of corn," estimated at half a Hppy, and out of every chalder of victual delivered
thereat to the " mair " two pecks, etc.^ The collection of the mair's fees seems
to have caused some trouble, and the law had to be occasionally invoked to
enforce paj^meut. A precept of poinding was issued by Kenneth Earl of Seaforth,
^ Cromartie Writs, Bundle 2 Y, Xo. 425.


sheriff-principal of Eoss, and his depute of Easter Eoss, at the instance of Sir
George Mackenzie of Tarbat, knight, heritable mair of fee within the Earldom of
Eoss, both as to property and tenandry " All be-east Kinardie and Dingwall,"
against Donald Fouler of Meikle Allan, and others, for the mair's fees due by them
for horse and plough darrachs, etc. The precept is dated 3d November 1681.^

Sir George Mackenzie also purchased other parts of the ancient l^arony of
Delny from the other owners. These lands of the barony of Delny had formerly
formed part of the Earldom of Eoss, and the Earls had a castle at Delny, of which
no part now remains.

On the lands of Milntoun, acquired by Sir George Mackenzie in 1656,
there was an ancient castle, which was built by the Monros. The probable
date of the building of the Castle of Milntoun is ascertained from an allusion to
it in the life of John fifth Earl of Sutherland, who died in the year 15G7. He
is represented as a great supporter and defender of the Monros, and par-
ticularly of the family of Milntoun, whom he maintained against Eoss, Laird
of Balnagowan. "When the Monros first began to l^uild the house of Milntoun,
Earl John went himself in person to defend them against Balnagowan, who

Online LibraryWilliam FraserThe earls of Cromartie; their kindred, country, and correspondence (Volume 2) → online text (page 40 of 56)