John Charles Gibson.

Lands and lairds of Larbert and Dunipace parishes online

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Gc M. L.






*5 1833 00676 6775



Impression, one hundred and fifty copies.





With Illustrations

I 908


THE idea of the following work was suggested to me some
years ago by Mr. George Sherriff of Carronvale, who is
a considerable heritor in the parish of Larbert. It
had long been a wish of his to have a history written of the
principal lands and their owners in his own parish, and in the
neighbouring one of Dunipace. 1 35S I 33

Mr. Sherriff has been most assiduous in his endeavours to
collect local information and traditions. He has also read the
proofs, and has taken special trouble in connexion with the
article on the Carron Company. It is right to mention here that
he has also generously taken the risk of the publication on himself;
indeed, but for him, the work would never have been attempted.

I take this opportunity of recording my best thanks to
Miss Sherriff for her beautiful and artistic sketches, which have
been so admirably reproduced by Messrs. T. and R. Annan and
Sons of Glasgow.

I also wish to express my thanks to all who have in any
way helped me in my work. I feel specially indebted to Dr.
Maitland Thomson, the late Curator, and the Rev. John Anderson,
the present Curator of the Historical Department of the Register
House ; Sir James B. Paul, Lyon King of Arms, and Mr.
Francis J. Grant, Lyon Clerk ; Mr. David Morris, Town Clerk
of Stirling, for his courtesy in showing me the Stirling Records ;
my friend, Mr. J. B. Douglas, and my brother, Mr. J. A. Gibson,
for their kind help in reading the proofs ; to the printers of the
book, Messrs. Cook and Wylie of Stirling, for the pains they
have taken to carry out my wishes; and to Mr. W. B. Cook
personally, for help and information of various kinds.

J. C. G.

North Berwick, July, igoS.

I much regret to have to record the death of
Mr. George Sherriff of Carronvale, who had been in
bad health for some time. He died in Glasgow on
Tuesday, loth November, 1908, and was buried in the
family burying-ground at Larbert on the following
Friday. While Mr. Sherriff has been denied the
satisfaction of seeing the publication of the book in
which he took so deep an interest, he lived to know
that all the copies had been subscribed for. The
book, with the exception of the index, had been
printed off before his death.

J. C. G.

igth November, igo8.








Carron Hall (formerly Quarrell),


Glenbervie (formerly WoODSIDE),
Carronvale (formerly Broomage),
North Broomage,

Dunipace, ...

TORWOOD, . . .
Denovan, ...
Carbrook, ...
Quarter, ...
Lands and Heritors in Dunipace Parish not
separately treated.

The Carron Company, ..






Larbert Parish Church, from a drawing by Miss Sherriff,

Carronvale, Frontispiece

Larbert House, from a drawing by Miss Sherriff, Carronvale, Facing p. i
Stenhouse (old part), „ „ „ „ 14
Stenhouse, „ „ „ „ 20
Sundial at Stenhouse, „ „ „ „ 26
Kinnaird House (present mansion house), „ „ 29
Tombstone (Mr. Robert Bruce), „ „ „ 36
Kinnaird House, drawn by Miss Sherriff from a photo-
graph taken by Mr. George Sherriff of Carronvale, „ 38
James Bruce of Kinnaird (traveller), from the painting
by Pompeo Battoni, in the Scottish National Por-
trait Gallery, Edinburgh, by permission, „ 41

Carron Hall (formerly Quarrell), from a drawing by Miss

Sherriff, Carronvale, „ 43

Sundial at Carron Hall, from a drawing by Miss Sherriff,

Carronvale, „ 47

Glenbervie House, from a drawing by Miss Sherriff, Carron-
vale „ 58

Woodside House, drawn by Miss Sherriff from a sketch
in the possession of James Aitken, Esq., of Glen-
bervie, „ 65

Carronvale House, from a drawing by Miss Sherriff, Carron-
vale „ 76

X Illustrations.

Dunipace House, from a drawing by Miss Sherriff, Carronvale, Facing p. 84
Sir Archibald Primrose, Bart, of Dalmeny, Lord Clerk
Register, &c., from the portrait in Barnbougle Castle
(said to be by John Scougal), by permission of the
Right Hon. the Earl of Rosebery, „ 99

Sir Archibald Foulis-Primrose, Bart, of Dunipace, from
the portrait in Barnbougle Castle (artist unknown),
by permission of the Right Hon. the Earl of
Rosebery, „ 107

Tor^vood Castle, ruins of, from a drawing by Miss Sherriff,

Carronvale, „ 130

Herbertshire Castle, from a drawing by Miss Sherriff,

Carronvale, „ 167

Carbrook House, from a drawing by Miss Sherriff, Carronvale, „ 187

Quarter House, from a drawing by Miss Sherriff, Carron-
vale „ 189

Carved Stones in wall of Old Stenhouse ;— (i) dated 1635,
with initials of Sir William Bruce, seventh, and
Dame Helen Douglas, his wife (See p. 21) ; (2) dated
1710, Sir William Bruce, ninth, and Dame Margaret
Boyd, his wife (See p. 23). Lintel Stone with arms
of Lords Forrester, now at Carron Hall, formerly at
Torwood, described pp. 43-4, from drawings by
Miss Sherriff, Carronvale, » 192

T/ie illustrations of the houses are not drawn to scale.


Table showing descent of main line of Bruces of Stenhouse, ... p. 28

Pedigree Chart* of Livingstones of Dunipace, Facing p. 88

„ „ Foulis-PrimroseofDunipace (See explana-
tion, p. 128), „ 128

„ „ Forresters of Torwood, „ 156

„ „ Forresters of Denovan „ 164

* Chart pedigrees of families are given only where, to the best of ruy knowledge,
these have not been already printed.


THE following work is an attempt to write a history of the
more important heritors and of their lands in the parishes
of Larbert and Dunipace, and to trace, link by link, the
different families who have owned the lands. While my main
object has been to enumerate the immediate possessors of the
lands, I have also done my best to gain as much information
as possible about their families, especially where pedigrees of
these families have not hitherto appeared in print. I have also
given what information I could about cadets, especially about
those holding lands in or near the district. Wherever there
are notable antiquarian remains on the various estates, I have
endeavoured to get the best and latest information from those
competent to give an opinion, and have given as succinctly
as possible a description of them. The " Broch " at Torwood,
the " Mounds " at Dunipace, and " Arthur's Oon," which once
stood on Stenhouse, are never-ending subjects of interest to
the antiquary. I do not profess any special antiquarian or
archaeological knowledge, and fear if I had indulged any views
of my own I would have had to submit to many humiliations,
such as the worthy Laird of Monkbarns suffered at the hands of
that "wily, do-little deevil, Johnnie Howie," or the "provoking
scoundrel " who, with a memory as powerful as dynamite, blew
up the " Praetorian," leaving only " a bit bourock " on the
" heathery knowe."

xiv Introduction.

Students of architecture will find in Messrs. M'Gibbon
and Ross's book interesting notices of several of the old
houses and castles in the parishes.

Fielding, in one of his novels, prefixes an " introduction to
the work or bill of fare to the feast." The chief item of the
bill of fare which I have to offer is human nature. There is
much to interest the student of history, law, philology, genealogy,
and social life and customs. We have a panorama wherein are
seen the rise and fall of families, factions, treacheries, favouritism,
villainy in high places, dark plots, love, hate, revenge, murders,
blood feuds, oppressions, tyranny, high intellectual attainments
and refinement existing side by side with gross barbarism.
Vivid and exciting scenes of quarrels and brawls, both in country
and town, are hinted at or depicted, and we see not a few men
from the district distinguishing themselves in law and science, in
the Church, State, and army. In religion and politics all sides are
represented, sometimes in the same family. We find a Forrester
being burned on the Castle hill of Edinburgh, " be ye papists
for ye reformation," and his father leaving money for masses to
be said for his wife's soul.

The Court was often in close touch with various families in
this area, small as it is, the joint parishes only covering a space
of about eight square miles. Old surnames such as Quarrell,
Salter, Moreham, Argent, take us back to the twelfth and
thirteenth centuries ; most of them, however, passed away before
the fifteenth century, when other families began to settle down
and take a hold on the land, some of them lasting till quite
recently, but most breaking up during the seventeenth century.
The Livingstones, Forresters, and Bruces, for instance, held their
lands for a good many generations ; the other estates changed
hands much more frequently. A rapid glance may be taken

Introduction. xv

through the centuries. In the latter part of the fifteenth
century, the Forrester family, which, for more than a hundred
years, had been gradually acquiring power and land, was
much in Court favour, and prominent both in the town
and county of Stirling. Sir Duncan Forrester of Torwood
was Keeper of Stirling Castle, Provost of the Burgh, and
Comptroller to Queen Margaret, wife of James IV., who
" hunted in the forest of Torwood and amused herself as
best she could." Sir Duncan played at cards with the King,
and his son played at a game called " the caich." James IV.,
" hufe Duncan Forrester's sonis barne," which, being translated,
means he stood godfather to Duncan's grandchild, and held him
at the font.

Then came the fatal Battle of Flodden, and, among others,
the Laird of Stenhouse fell there with the King. The Stenhouse
family, although a very old one, is an example of the difficulty
of making family history interesting unless the families them-
selves produce the matter. To be quite fair, however, to this
particular family, it must get credit for its branch of Kinnaird,
which produced two outstanding lairds, otherwise its history
and that of several others might be written in the stereotyped
words of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel and Judah.

The estate of Dunipace comes to the front by twice
giving its name to Lords of Session, two of its lairds — Mr.
Alexander Livingstone in 1550, and Sir Robert Spottiswoode
in 1634 — taking the title of Lord Dunipace. It was strong
in law, having in 1677 been purchased by another great lawyer,
Sir Archibald Primrose of Dalmeny, Lord Carrington.

The sixteenth century was a turbulent one. It is well known
how laudably James VI. worked to quell the deadly blood
feuds which were such scourges to Scotland at this time. These

xvl Introduction.

feuds had a special horror for James, who never cared to have
" naked swords flashing in his een." Our parishes had their share
of these things ; Livingstones, Forresters, and Bruces keeping up
a good deal of excitement. That long, winding procession of
the Forresters through the lands of the Livingstones and Bruces,
carrying a banner with a picture of the bloody corpse of their
innocent kinsman who had been done to death when riding
from Edinburgh to Stirling, simply because he bore the name
of Forrester, meant that in the year 1595 blood required blood,
however much the Privy Council might try to act the peace-
maker. Again, in a case of terrorising by the Forresters, we
see what power these barons had, and how they defied the law.
The Laird of Torwood had in this instance " convocat the
nowmer of ane thousand men on horse and foot bodin in feir
of weir." A vivid picture of an assault at the " Mercat Croce "
of Stirling is given at this same date (159S), wherein we see
the old Broad Street of Stirling suddenly become a scene of
angry tumult, and a most exciting chase and assault are
described in good Scots a little later on.

In quoting from the Privy Council and other records, the
information is so good and so well expressed in terse old Scots
that I have not scrupled to quote copiously. Although many
of these records are now printed, they are often not easily
accessible, and the matter assumes a much more significant
value when it appears in the natural evolution of the story than
as an isolated event in the records.

The matrimonial troubles of the Laird and Lady of Herbert-
shire give us a good insight into the state of the law about 1583,
and the story of another Lady of Herbertshire (designed Lady
Roslene) which describes her dealings with a witch, contributes
an interesting piece of folk-lore.

Introduction. xvii

The lands of Kinnaird and Woodside gave two eminent
ministers to the Church of Scotland— Master Robert Bruce and
Master Henry Rollo. Mr. Robert Bruce was for a time a great
favourite with James VI., but he entirely lost the good-
will of the King after the Gowrie Conspiracy in 1600, in
consequence of his declining to credit the facts as related
by the King, and refusing to join in the general thanksgiving for
the King's preservation. A curious and characteristic letter from
James to the Provost of Stirling, instructing him what to do with
the quarters of the Earl of Gowrie and his brother, " clean
traitors," is given in a note under " Kinnaird." The streets of
Stirling must have had a gruesome appearance after the instruc-
tions were carried out.

In this same year there was much excitement at Dunipace, a
daughter of that house having countenanced the murder of her
husband, " in the gloomy house of Warristoun," in revenge for
his cruelty to her.

In the following year, 1601, we find James VI. staying at the
" Place of Dunipace." He was a great friend of the Laird, and
took much to heart the humiliation of " Great Dunipace," who
considered that his daughter's crime had forever dishonoured his
blood. We may imagine that James was not very comfortable so
near the house of Kinnaird, where he knew his stern critic,
Mr. Robert Bruce, was in ward, and chafing under his com-
pulsory inaction.

The owner of Herbertshire about this time was the Earl of
Linlithgow, a great friend of the King, and keeper of the palace
of Linlithgow. His letter about the palace falling into ruins is
very quaint. James's daughter, the Princess Elizabeth, afterwards
the wife of Frederick, the Elector Palatine, was put in charge of
the Earl's wife. As the Countess was an " obstinat and profess't

xviii Introduction.

papist," this act gave great offence to the worthy Presbyterian
minister of Stirh'ng, " Maister Patrick Simpson," and others.

An interesting ceremony may be noticed when touching on
Herbertshire. The Lairds of Denovan held their lands from the
Lairds of Herbertshire as superiors for three blasts of a horn at
the house of Herbertshire.

In the early years of the seventeenth century we find the
Forresters of Torwood in great straits financially and otherwise.
They were constantly being reprimanded for cutting down trees
in the Torwood. In 1629 Sir James Forrester was a prisoner in
Stirling Castle. In this year occurred the sliding of the
moss, which caused such devastation to the lands of Woodside,
Carbrook, &c. It created great consternation, not only in Stir-
lingshire, but throughout Scotland. The description from the
Privy Council and other Records is so interesting that I have
copied it in full. We are told in vivid language how the pleasant
and fertile ground that the owners " had been wont to look on "
was now " the miserable face of a black mosse." Mr. Robert
Bruce was still, by command of Charles I., in ward at Kinnaird
and two miles round it, but he preached at Larbert and restored
the church. He would doubtless have some moral to draw from
the great local calamity. Soon after this we are told of his
dignified and patriarchal death.

Excitement is kept up in the county by one of the
Lairds — the accomplished scholar and gentleman. Sir Robert
Spottiswoode, Lord Dunipace — losing his head for his loyalty
to Charles I. That this execution was one of the most unjust
proceedings of the time even his opponents did not deny.
Some years later the estate was purchased by another Royalist,
Sir Archibald Primrose of Dalmeny, then Lord Justice General
of Scotland. As an offset to the influence of the Royalists in

Introduction. xix

the district, we have the celebrated covenanting general, William
Baillie, whose son became the Laird of Torwood, and by marriage
with the heiress of the Lords Forrester, received that peerage.

From this time there is more or less of a lull in the district
for over half a century, and country life goes on much as in
other places. Here and there estates change hands, and new
blood comes into the parishes. A clause in a charter of
Quarrell, dated 1749, when that estate was sold, should be
]3ondered by all who are under the delusion that British freedom
has an antiquity only second to the hills. Men in 1749, and
for some time after, in certain instances, " belonged " to their
masters, who occasionally " niffered " them for beasts !

There was a dissension in the house of Denovan during the
reign of Charles II., the Laird being a keen Royalist, and his
eldest son "on of ye troublous faction of King Charles II., his
peaceable reign." The father disinherited the son, who had
" turned Whiggish," and settled his estate on his grandson.
As over all Scotland, a stir takes place during the '45, when
Sir Archibald Primrose of Dunipace goes " out " with Prince
Charlie. The" house of Dunipace becomes a shelter for fugitives,
the Carron is forded near the house by the Highlanders, the
gallant Laird loses his head at Carlisle, his poor and loyal
wife dies from distress and grief a month afterwards at Duni-
pace, and the estate is forfeited.

The owners of Broomage also saw the Highlanders march
through their lands. Young James Bruce of Kinnaird, after-
wards the famous traveller, was sixteen years old at the time
the Laird of Dunipace "suffered" at Carlisle, and must have been
keenly interested. Born just one hundred years after the death
of his distinguished ancestor, Mr. Robert Bruce, he brought the
name of Bruce of Kinnaird into world-wide eminence, and

XX Introduction.

made an epoch in exploration. At the same time that Bruce
was making discoveries so far away, the value of his own district
was being discovered by the far-seeing men who afterwards
founded the Carron Company, which has given a new source
of wealth and a new interest to the district for nearly a century
and a half, and has found employment for many thousands of
hands. The ruddy glare which is seen by day and night is the
signal of the ceaseless activity which has been going on from
the time when Nelson and Wellington praised the "Carronades,"
down to our own day, when pompom shells were turned out for
the Transvaal. So, while it is true that the substance of the
early history which can be gleaned about these Stirlingshire
barons resolves itself very much into R. L. Stevenson's lines on
an old Border clan : —

"O they rade in the rain, in the days that are gane.
In the rain, and the wind, and the lave ;
They shoutit in the ha', and they routit on the hill,
But they're a' quaitit noo in the grave."

— yet enough has been said to show that within a little space
much life may be seen — for the most part — busied with its
own petty interests, but sometimes affecting in no small degree
the national development


THE early history of the lands of Larbert is rather meagre,
and the origin of the name is not clear. There is a
charter, of uncertain date, recorded in Robertson's " Index
of Charters," to Walter, son of Gilbert, of the barony of Keneill
(Kinneil) in Edinburghshire, with the lands of Lethbert, &c.
In the reign of Robert I., there is a charter under the Great
Seal of the Mill of Lethbert to Robert Lauder, formerly
belonging to Philip de Lyndesy, and which Sir Simon de
Lyndesy forfeited. Philip de Lyndesy appears to have
flourished about 1296 to 1302, and Sir Simon was alive
1303-4. Robert Lauder, who received the charter, was after-
wards Sir Robert Lauder of the Bass, who was Justiciary in
the reign of Robert I. He was alive in 1337.' There was
another charter, in the same reign, of the Mill of Larbert to
William de Lyndesy, " which Robert de Umfraville, Earl of
Angus, had before." (See under Dunipace.) Later on, these
lands seemed to have passed into the family of the Lords
Livingstone, as, in the " Acta Auditorum," under date 19th
July, 1476, we find the following: — "Marian, spouse of late
James, Lord Levingstone, hir brefe of terce anent ye land of
Lethbert and Brumeinch." From the same register, under

' Exchequer Rolls and Stoddart's " Scottish Arms."


2 Larbert.

date 20th July, 1478, Malcolm Forrester is to pay to Lady
Crichton certain sums out of the " Mill of Lethbert and brume
Inche " pertaining to her late mother.

On 20th March, 1593-4, there is a confirmation under the
Great Seal of a sale by James, Earl of Arran, to John, Lord
Thirlstane, Chancellor of Scotland, of the superiority of the
lands of Larbert and Broomage. About this date the estate
seems to have been divided into two portions.' On 24th
July, 1632, there is a charter by Alexander, Earl of Callendar,
in favour of John Mackie, in Larbert, and Mariot Ure,
his wife, of the half of the lands of Larbert." On 19th
June, 1646, the above John Mackie, elder, granted a charter
to John Mackie, younger, and Janet Baird, his wife. In 1668
there is a charter of apprising granted by James, Earl of
Callendar, in favour of John Mackie, younger, proceeding on
a decreet of apprising of the said lands obtained at the instance
of Robert Mackie, merchant burgess of Edinburgh. On 6th
March, 1697, there is a precept of clare constat granted by Ann,
Countess of Callendar, Charles, Earl of Home, and others, tutors
of James, Earl of Linlithgow, in favour of Andrew Mackie,
eldest son of the said John Mackie, for infefting him in
the half of the said lands as heir of his father. On the 5th
February, 17 13, there is a precept of clare constat in favour
of William Mackie, eldest son of said Andrew Mackie, for
infefting him in half the said lands as heir of his father.
This William Mackie disposed of his half of the lands of
Larbert to Alexander Chalmers, on 29th August, 1751.' The

1 Writs of Larbert.

- In this same year (1632) there was a Malcolm Mackie in Broomage, who
married Margaret Syme. They had a son, George, who married Anne Balloli.—
Laing Charters.

= Writs of Larbert.

Larbert. 3

name of Mackie is of considerable antiquity in the district, and
can be traced in Stirling to the fifteenth centur}'. There is an
entry in the Stirling Burgh Records, under date 1520, stating
that " Sir Johen Patonsoun, cheplan of Rud alter within the Rud
loft, hais maid Johnne Make factour and inbringar of all anualis
pertenyn to him be rasoune of the said alter, for this instant
yeir." A John Mackie signs as a witness in 1529. In 1574,
Andrew Makky, burgess of Stirling, seems to have had rather
rough usage, and makes a complaint before the Lord Regent
(Register of Privy Council, Vol. II., pp. 418-19): —

"Edinburgh, lo November, 1574.— Anent oiire Soverane Lordis letters
rasit at the instance of Andro Makky, burges of Striveling, makand
mentioun ; — that quhair he gaif in ane complaint of befoir to my Lord
Regentis Grace upoun the Provest and Baillies of the said Burgh, declarand
that he se.K oulkis syne or thairby, being standand at the barras port of the
said Burgh, to await as ane appointit for uptaking of the Sheref feis, as use
is in tyme of fairis ; in the menetyme ane dog come and bait the said
complenaris arme to the efifusioun of his blude in greit quantitie, and to
eschew further hurt of the said dog, he myntit to haif stiukin him ;
immediathe cumis ane namyt Edmond Broun, ane Hieland pyper, and
invadit the said complenar with ane drawin swerd, quhair-throw he wes
constranit to fle into ane hous for sauftie of his lyff, he nevir committand
offence to the said pyper in word or deid. And notwithstanding the
hurt sustenit be him throw the said pyperis dog, and invasion maid by
the said pyperis self for persute of his lyff as said is, the said pyper past
to Andro Cowane, Baillie of the said Burgh, and complenit to him upoun
the said complenar, albeit na offence wes ccmmittit be him towart the

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