William Temple.

The thanage of Fermartyn including the district commonly called Formartine : its proprietors, with genealogical deductions; its parishes, ministers, churches, churchyards, antiquities &c. online

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Online LibraryWilliam TempleThe thanage of Fermartyn including the district commonly called Formartine : its proprietors, with genealogical deductions; its parishes, ministers, churches, churchyards, antiquities &c. → online text (page 1 of 74)
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3 1833 00676 661

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in 2010 with funding from

Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center



) b^ J HofsbLirgr'S'i'iri.H.dmburgh

T?iofn<;jri i [litncan, Ptiotoiyp^.ynrXfS.h'aH"

The Thanage of Fermartyn







Rev. \YILLIAM TEMPLE, M.A., F.S.A. Scot.


Aberdeen— D. WYLLIE & SON








X^ According to Ptolemy, the Roman geographer, North Britain was occupied

^ by several tribes, which, in progress of time, came to be grouped into seven

confederacies, ruled over by seven chiefs, having under them seven inferior

chiefs, with a king over the whole confederacies. The countr}- between the

Dee and the Spey formed one confederacy.

In a description of Scotland, written in the twelfth century, mentioned by
Dr. Stuart, this confederacy appears in two forms. In one case it is said,
" Ouartum regnum fuit ex Dee usque ad flumen Spe majorem et meliorem
totius Scocie," and in the other case, it is spoken of as one of seven districts,
into which Scotland was divided, and as composed of Mar and Buchan.

The territory now known as Aberdeenshire and Banffshire was in old
times, according to Dr. Grub, the seat of the Taixali and other Celtic tribes,
and at the end of the sixth century formed part of the northern Picts. In the
" Book of Deer," at the time when St. Drostan landed in Buchan, and founded
St. Drostan's monastery, the country was divided among tribes, over which there
was probably an Ardrigh or under King, and the royal and tribal officials, a
Mormaer or great Steward acting for the King, and the Toisech ruling over a
tribe and under the Mormaer. The Mormaer represented the Crown in the
district over which he presided, accounted to the Ardrigh or King for his rents
and dues, and was over the whole tribes of the district, while the Toisech was
over a tribe, and was their captain to lead them to battle.

The best account of the tribal communities is to be found in Dr. Skene's
" Celtic Scotland," a learned and exhaustive work. According to Dr. Skene,
the land was first possessed by the tribe or community before it came into
possession of individuals. The word Tuath signified a family, and came to be
applied to the district occupied by the tribe, and in some records it is equiva-
lent to a barony. Tuath was the possession of the tribe, the technical name
of which, in the Brchon laws, was Fine. By the common law of the tribes,
the land which made up the Tuath consisted of fecht-fine or tribe land, and a

vlii Preface.

part was tribe demesne, which went to the support of the office-bearers of the
tribe, the INIormaer and Toisech, Brehon or Judge. The fecht-fine was occu-
pied by the tribes thus — -The indfine or commonality of the tribe possessed
the tribe land ; the arable land was distributed at stated intervals among the
ceile or free members of the tribe, each having their share ; a fresh distribution
took place as fresh claimants for a share appeared ; the pasture land was
pastured in common, according to the number of cattle possessed by each, and
the waste land separated one Tuath from another.

The Tuath was divided into homesteads, to each of which belonged as
much land as was required for the subsistence of a family. These were called
Raths, which enter largely into the place names of the district, as Rait, Raits-
hill near Tolquhon, Rothie, Rothmaise, &c., &c. These Raths, according to
the Brehon laws, to be legally constituted required a dwelling-house, an ox
stall, a hog-sty, a sheep pen, and a calf house, and they were all surrounded by a
ditch or rampart, with wooden pallisades for protection. There were various
kinds of Raths. The Fine-Rath was the homestead occupied by the original
kindred, Mar-Rath that occupied by the stranger tenants, and Jar-Raths occu-
pied by the stranger serfs on the chiefs' demesnes lands and others.

A system such as this prevailed in the district between the Dee and the
Deveron at the time when St. Drostan landed in Buchan. In the various
grants, as recorded in the " Book of Deer," to the original monastery of St.
Drostan, we have the names recorded of the various Mormaers and Toisechs,
who were the officials of the tribe. The language was Celtic or Gaelic, and is
found prevalent in many of the place names of the district.

But great changes were impending, and the office of Mormaer or royal
official underwent considerable modification. A (vicecomes) sheriff was intro-
duced, on whom many of the duties of the Mormaer devolved. The title of
Mormaer fluctuated until finally it became Earl. Thus Gratnait, Mormaer of
Buchan, whose grant to the clerics of Deer about 1 192, as recorded in the
" Book of Deer," appears in the foundation of the monastery of Scone, in 1220,
as Earl Gratnait. There was also the office of Maor, upon whom certain
duties devolved, and the Mair of Fee, anciently connected with the lands of
Pitmuxton, may have derived its name at least from this office.

The tribal officer of Toisech also underwent a change. Thanages were
introduced, and the Toisech became a Thane. When this change took place
there is no record, but it probably was made about the time of Alexander I.
The Thanages come in between the tribal organisation and the Norman feudal
system. It arose out of the old Celtic system, and disappeared in the Norman,
after the confusions created by the great war of independence. In the reign

Preface. ix

of David and his immediate successors, we find in Aberdeenshire the names of
the ancient Earldoms of Mar, Buchan, and the Garioch, which were then fully

The Thanage of Fermartyn extended from the Thanage of Conveth, which
was co-extensive with the parish of Inverkeithney, to the eastern seaboard
between the Ythan and the Don. The principal seat of the Thanage was
Fyvie Castle, which, with the parish church, the lands of Gight and Monkshill,
&c., being on the north bank of the Ythan, are now included in the district of
Buchan. The Thanage of Fermartyn, like other Thanages, consisted of
Thanage and Forest, and among the missing charters of Robert I. was one to
Sir John Brown of the Thanage of Fermartyn, and another to Patrick de
Monteith of the forestership of Kilanell and Fermartyn, showing that the
Forest was a royal one. Afterwards in Sir Henry Preston's time, when the
Norman system of tenure was pretty fully introduced, Fy^'ie or Fermartyn is
found as a barony.

The district of Formartine was formed after the war of independence ; but
there is no date of its formation, and no note of its boundaries. It includes
the larger portion of the Thanage of Fermartyn, the smaller Thanage of
Belhelvie co-extensive with the parish of that name, the northern portion,
including Kinkell church of the great and important Thanage of Kintore. It
includes also the ancient regality of Frendraught, commonly called " the
Kingdom of Forgue," and the baronies of Lessendrum and Drumblade.

According to an old writer in the " View of the Diocese," the district of
Formartine is about thirty miles round. Its parishes may be divided into such
outer ones as lie on the border, and such inner ones as lie in the middle of the
district. The outer parishes are part of Oldmachar, Newmachar, Fintray, part
of Kinkell (this being part of the Thanage of Kintore) with its church, part of
Monkeggie, part of Bourtie, part of Bethelnie, part of Fyvie, part of Auchter-
less, the parishes of Forgue and Drumblade. Here Formartine ends as it were
in a point, so that in going round it, we must turn back through the four last-
named parishes, till descending along the Ythan we find part of Methlick with
its church, part of Ellon, part of Tarves with its church, Logie-Buchan with its
present church ; also Foveran, which has between it and Oldmachar the parish
of Belhelvie. There is only one inner parish, that of Udny.

Another writer, Sir Samuel Forbes of Foveran, thus describes Formartine :
— " But whatever land lies between the rivers Ythan and the Don, one hears
called by the name of Formartine among the inhabitants, ' who disdain to con-
sider themselves as belonging to Buchan.' There is no town in Formartine,
for Aberdeen being in the neighbourhood intercepts all traffic. But if the

X Preface.

nature of the soil, or the genius of the inhabitants be taken into account, it is
worth}- of consideration, and inferior to none of its neighbours. To most of
them it is superior in the number of its inhabitants, the richness of its soil, the
number of its castles and villas, its amenit)^ the refinement and culture of its

In describing Formartine, we have given an account of all the parishes,
whether whole or in part connected with it, from the earliest times, the
ministers thereof, and the principal persons buried in the churchyards ; also a
history of each propert)', with the names of their various proprietors, and so
far as practicable their genealogies. An account is given of Haddo and
?\Iethlick, of their ancient proprietors, and of the noble family of the Earl of
Aberdeen and Viscount Formartine. The ancient history of Fyvie, the chief
messuage of the Thanage of Fcrmartyn, \\\\\ be found recorded, with all the
Kings who visited and resided at it ; the Thanes thereof with their firm.as or
rents paid to the Exchequer ; the proprietors thereof with their genealogies
down to Alexander John Forbes Leith, who, a few years ago, acquired the pro-
perty. Meldrum has an interesting history from 1236, and it is remarkable
that it has been in possession of the present family from that date down to
the present time. Udny has also been in possession of the present famih' for
a very long period, and has known no other proprietor, so far as appears, than
an Udny of Udny. Lessendrum will be found in possession of the Bissets
previous to the war of independence. Frendraught has had many proprietors
from 1202, all more or less showing a connection with each other by consan-
guinit}- or by marriage. The various proprietors of Esslemont and Straloch
are given ; also the family of Irvine of Drum, who once had a connection
with the district. Foveran, long owned by the ancient family of Turing, will
be found detailed, as also all the other properties in the district.

These notes have been a labour of many years, so many that we have
begun to feel the truth of the aphorism, " Ars longa est, vita est brevis." They
have many imperfections, and dealing with so man}- names and dates, can
hardly be free from many errors.

I have had the valued assistance of man}- friends, some of whom have gone
to their rest, and their places know them no more. I gratefully record the
valued assistance of the late Mr. Charles Elphinstone Dalr}-mple, F.S.A. Scot.,
a ver}- accomplished antiquary and genealogist, and a vice-president of the
New Spalding Club ; of the late Earl of Caithness, better known as James
Augustus Sinclair, who kindly placed many of his stores of genealogical infor-
mation at my disposal. The late Lord L}-on, George Burnett, gave me ever}'
assistance ; as did also the late Lyon Clerk-Depute, ]\Ir. Riddell Stodart,

Preface. xi

whose early death was so much lamented. The lale Mr. Patrick H. Chalmers of
Avochie rendered me valuable assistance. I also received great assistance
from Colonel J. Allardyce of Culquoich, from Lieut.-Colonel Wolrige Gordon
of Esslemont, and Major John Ramsay of Barra ; also from Andrew John
Mitchell-Gill, Esq., F.S.A. Scot., of Savock and Auchinroath, author of "The
Houses of Moir-Byres," a valuable repertory of genealogical information ;
from John A. Henderson, Esq., author of the " History of the Parish of
Banchory-Devenick," &c. ; from Alexander Milne Ogston, Esq. of x'\rdoe ;
and from Alexander Morison Gordon, convener of the County Council of
Aberdeen. I am also indebted to William Alexander, Esq., LL.D., author
of " Johnny Gibb of Gushetneuk," &c. ; and to Edward Young, of Messrs.
Wyllie & Son, the publishers of the volume. But there are three, whose
services in revising and correcting for the press, deserve especial acknowledg-
ment, namely, William Watt, Esq., of the " Free Press ; " A. M. Munro, Esq.,
F.S.A. Scot., Town-House, Aberdeen ; and the Rev. George Sutherland, M.A.,
F.S.A. Scot, of the Episcopal Church, Portsoy, author of " The Outlines of
Archaeology," &c.

For the representatives of the ancient families here detailed, I quote a poet
of the days of old.

" Giff thou desire thy house lang stand,
And thy successors bruik thy land,
Abive all things live God in fear,
Intromit nought with wrongous gear ;
Nor conquess nothing wrongously,
^^'ilh thy neighbour keep charity.
See that thou pass not thy estate,
Obe)- duly thy rragistrate ;
Oppress not but support the puire,
To help the common weill take cuire.
Use no deceit, — mell not with treason,
And to all men do right and reason ;
Both unto word and deed be true ;
All kind of wickedness eschew.
Slay no man, nor thereunto consent,
Be nought cruel but patient.
Ally ay in some guid place
With noble, honest, godly race.
Hate huirdome, and all vices flee,
Be humble, haunt guide companie ;
IJelp thy friend, and do nae wrang,
And God shall cause thy house stand lang."'

— Barclay of Mathers" advice to his son, circa 1500.


Methlick — The Gordons— now Earls of Aberdeen and Viscounts Formartine — an account
of their first acquisition of land in the district, with a Genealogical deduction
from John Gordon of Essie— also their predecessors- the Cumines, Earls of
Buchan — the Fullertons, &c.

Fyvie — FY^"IE Castle — Visit of various Kings and account of royal residence there. The
various Thanes — with the rents or feu-duties paid to the King's Exchequer.
The proprietors— the Lindsays — the Prestons — the Meldrums — the Setons, Earls
of Dunfermline, and Lords Fyvie — the Gordons — and the Forbes-Leith family

The Church of Fyvie and its Ministers, 40; The Churchyard of Fyvie, 44; The
Priory of Fyvie and the Royal Burgh of Fyvie, 54 ; The Antiquities of

All Saints, Woodhead — its Ministers and Churchyard ...

Folla-Rule — its Church and Churchyard ...

Crichie — its Proprietors

Gight and its Proprietors — the Maitlands and the Gordons

MONKSHILL and its Proprietors — including a deduction of the Chalmers family

Rothienorman — its Proprietors — the Forbes-Leslie Family, including Blackford, the Forbeses
and the Watsons — also Gordon of Badenscoth

Auchterless — its Church and Ministers, 106; The Churchyard of Auchterless, 109;
The Barony of Auchterless — its Proprietors — the Dempsters — the
Meldrums — the Duffs ... ... ... ... ...

The Chapel of Seggat — the P^amily of Wallace long resident there— the Antiquities of the
District, including the Stone Circle at Logie-Newton, and the Roman Camp at
Glenmailen — Towie-Barclay

Frendraught— its Proprietors from 1202. The knightly House of Ferendrach de Ferendrach.
The Stuarts — the Frasers — the Dunbars, Earls of Moray — the Crichtons — Lord
Crichton — afterwards Viscounts Frendraught — the Gregories — the Morisons of

The Antkjuities of Forgue, &c. , including the ancient Burgh of Forgue— the Portraits in
Frendraught House— the Dunbars of Conzie, &c., &c., 162 ; The Church of
Forgue and its Ministers, 16S ; The Churchy'ard of Forgue, 174:
St. Margaret's, Forgue — its Ministers and Churchyard







xiv Contents.


Templeland — its Proprietors 195

Drumblair — its Proprietors— including the Dufls — the Morisons — the Thains — the Simpsons,

&c 200

AuCHARME — its Proprietors — the Stuarts— the Andersons ... 201

AucHABER — its Proprietors — the Wilsons and Thains ... ... ... ... ... ... 205

Bai.gaveny — its Proprietors — with a deduction of the Kilgouis of Tullo ... ... ... 2c8

MOXELLIE and Corse of Monellie — their Proprietors — with a deduction of the family of Rose-

Innes of Netherdale ... ... ... .. ... ... ... ... ... 212

Dru.mdoli.o — its Proprietors — the Leslies and JMorisons ..- ... ... ... 215

CONLAND^its Wadsetters — with an account of Alexander Shand, commonly called " The

King of Forgue " ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 217

COEAIRDY — its Proprietors — the IMurray.s— the Bairds — the Wisharts — the Hamiltons — the

Gordons- -the Morisons — the Simpsons, &c. ... ... ,.. ... ... 219

BOYNSMILL — its Proprietors ... ... 227

CORMEHAUGH — its Proprietors — the Irvines — the Duffs, &:c. 230

IIaddo — its Proprietors — the Morisons — the Duffs — the ForLeses — also a notice of the Church-
yard of Haddo ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 233

The Church of Drumblade and its Ministers, 235 ; The Churchyard of Drumblade 239

Lessendrum — with a deduction of the Bissets ... 244

The Barony of Drumblade — its Proprietors. The Fcntons— the Hallyburtons — the

Gordons of Lesmoir, with a complete deduction of that family and its branches

— the old Gordons of Newton— the Gordons of Sheelagreen, Rothney and

Invernettie — the Hutchisons of Cairngall— also the Gordons of Buthlaw, 259;

Cocklaraquy — its Proprietors, 276; Dummuie — its Proprietors, 2S1 ;

Chappeltown ok Drumblade, and Comaleggie, and their Proprietors, 2S4 ;

Antiquities of Drumblade 286

Neavmachar — its Ministers, 2S8 ; The Churchyard of Newmachar and Monicaboc 291
Elrick — its Proprietors — the Burnetts ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 295

KiNMUNDY' AND KiNGSEAT AND RosEH ALL— their Proprietors ... 3C0

Parkhill — its Proprietors — with a notice of the families commonly called "Jock and Tarn "

— with a deduction of that branch of the Gordon family ... ... 303

Straloch — its Proprietors — the Cheynes — the Gordons— the Ramsays — with a deduction of

the families of Ramsay and Innes ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 318

Irvine of Drum — sometime Proprietor — with a deduction of that ancient family, 330 ;

KiNMUCK and its Churchyard — Kendalc and Antiquities in the District ... 346

Balbithan and its Proprietors — Chalmers — Gordon — Forbes-Gordon 348

Kinkell and Monkeggie — now conjoined and called Keithhall — their Ministers, 353 ;

The Churchyards of Kinkell and Monkeggie 358

Bourtie and its Ministers, 363 ; The Churchyard of Bourtie, and Antiquities 365

Tarves and its Ministers, 370 ; The Churchyard of Tarves, and Antiquities 373


ToLQUHON and its Proprietors — the Forbeses, now represented by Forbes-Leith of Whitehaugh

Shethin and its Proprietors — vvitli deductions of tlie Ogstons, Hays, and Shepherds ...

Craigdam and its Ministers, with an account of Rev. Patrick Robertson

Cairnbkoggie and its Proprietors, with a deduction of the Marrs

Methlick and its Ministers, 406 ; The Churchyard of Methlick

AxDATE — Tulliegonie or Keithfield — their Proprietors

Udny and its Ministers, 415; The Churchyard of Udny, 419; Ud.xy — Tlie Udnys of
Udny, 425 ; Udxy Academy, a famous school under the Bissets, witli an
account of many of the county gentlemen educated there ...

Pri'.MEDDEX — its Proprietors — the Pantons and the Setons, &c.

Pitrichie — its Proprietors — the Maitlands — the ISIilnes

TiLLiEGREiG — its Proprietors — the Bishops of Aberdeen — Gordons — Mitchells — Dyccs — the

TiLLiECORTHiE — its Proprietors — including a deduction of the Rosses

Knaperna — its Proprietors the Forbeses

DuMBRECiv AND Orchardtown — their Proprietors — the Dumbrecks of Dumbreck, >S;c. — the
Tulliedaffs of TulliedafF, &c., with a deduction of the Piries

LoGiERiEVE — its Proprietors, with a deduction of the Legertwoods and Mitchells

Ellon and its Ministers, 4S2 ; The Churchyard of Ellon, with a deduction of the
Rosses of Arnage, 488 ; St. r^lARY's-ox-iiiE-RocK, Ellon — representing the
Episcopal Churches of Udny and Ellon, &c.

Fechil and its Proprietors

EssLEMONT and its Proprietors — the Marshalls — the Cheynes — the Keiths— the Hays — the
Gordons, with a complete deduction of the Gordons of Hallhead, descended
from "Tarn of Rivan," 507; The Mains of Esslemont — Tenanted since
1720 or thereby by a family of Milnes, with a deduction ...

LoGiEBUCHAN — its Ministers, 521 ; The Churchyard of LoGiEnucHAN, with a deduction
of the Buchans of Auchmacoy

Tarty — its Proprietors, including the Duns— the Gordons, S:c.

Watridgemuir — its Proprietors — the Blacks — the Legertwoods — the Gardens, &c

Rainieston — its Proprietors — the Tulliedaffs — the Dingwalls, with a deduclion of the latter

Rosebank and Mossto\vn — their Proprietors

TiPPERTiE — its Proprietors — with a deduction of the Turners of Turnerhall

Foveran— its Ministers, 556 ; The Churchyard of Foverax, 560 ; Foyeran — its Pro-
prietors — the Strathbroks — the Turins or Turings, with a deduction of that
ancient family down to the present time — also the Forbeses — the Robertsons —
the M'Kenzies

Tillery — its Proprietors — Udny — Setons — Forbeses — the Legertwoods— Chambers-Hunter ...

KiNCRAiG— with a deduction of the Mitchells

Blair Ythan and Sayock— with a deduction of the Gills











5 So

xvi Contents.


KxocKHALL AND THE Newbu Rt;ii— Iheir Proprietors — the Sinclairs— the Udnys . ... ... 592

Newtyle — its Proprietors — the Skenes — the Gordons— the Lumsdens ... ... ... .. 600

AUCHNACANT — its Proprietors 602

FiDDES AND Hill of Fiddes— with a deduction of the Ru.xtons — for many years tenants

there 605

BELHEL^"IE and its Ministers, 609 ; Belhelvie and its Churchyard, 614 ; The Tkanage of

Belhelvie 61S

Balmedie and Belhel\'IE Lodge— their Proprietors, with a deduction of the Lumsdens —

inchiding Pitcaple and Auchry ... ... ... ... ... ... 621

Blairton and Potterton, Wester Hatton, and Milden — their Proprietors 632

Overblairton — Colpnaw now Orrok 635

jMenie — its Proprietors — the Vauses — the Carnegies — the Forbcscs — the Kerrs — the Turners

with a deduction ... ... ... ... ... ... ... •■■ ... 638

Meadowbank or MuiRTON — its Proprietors — inchiding a deduction of the Reids, Whitecairns 641

Ardo — its Proprietors, with a deduction of the Harveys ... 642

ScOTSTOWN— its Proprietors, with a deduction of the Moirs ... ... ... ... ... 644

Grandhome — its Proprietors, with a deduction of the Patons ... ... ... ... ... 647

Balgownie — its Proprietors, with a deduction of the Frasers and Forbeses 650

FiNTRAY— its Ministers, 656 ; The Churchyard of Fintray, 659; Fintray— its Proprie-
tors — the Forbeses of Craigievar, now represented by Lord Sempill 663

DisBLAiK— its Proprietors, with a deduction of the Dycc, Morison, and Mearns family ... 674
Meldru.m, 6S3 ; The Church of Bcthehiie, 698 ; St. Matthews, Meldrum, 698 ; The Prophet

ofBethelnie 698






FoRTUNA Sequatur." " Ne Nimium."

Haddo House is a spacious and elegant mansion in the Palladian style, built after
designs by Baxter, ot Edinburgh ; enlarged in 1880, and a chapel by Mr. Street, of
London, added. The policies are of great extent and of much beauty. The paintings in
the house are very interesting. Besides specimens of many of the Continental schools,
there are portraits of all the Earls, and of Sir John Gordon, who suffered for his
loyalty to Charles I. According to Dr. Skene-Keith' of Keithhall, it had a deer park,
in his time, one hundred and twenty years old.

The site of the old house of Kelly is not known, for both name and situation have
been changed. It is believed to have been at some distance from the present mansion.

The first acquisition by the Gordon family was a portion of Haddo, after that the
" Two Methlicks," then a portion of Kelly, and gradually the whole merged and consoli-
dated into one property of Haddo and Methlick.

Online LibraryWilliam TempleThe thanage of Fermartyn including the district commonly called Formartine : its proprietors, with genealogical deductions; its parishes, ministers, churches, churchyards, antiquities &c. → online text (page 1 of 74)