William M'Combie Smith.

Memoir of the family of M'Combie, a branch of the Clan M'Intosh; online

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M.



GENEAUOCr COULECTION




MEMOIR



FAMILY OF M'COMBIE



" Man is properly the only object that interests man." — Goethe.



MEMOIR



v



OF THE



FAMILY OF M'COMBIE

A BRANCH OF THE CLAN M'INTOSH



COMPILED FROM

HISTORY AND TRADITION



WILLIAM M'COMBIE SMITH



WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS

EDINBURGH AND LONDON

MDCCCLXXXVIT



All R lights reserved



^

^



PREFACE.

^__^ 1135570



^"^ ^ I ^HE first question regarding the publication



T

of a new book ouQ;ht to be, Does it contani



anything not already known to those likely to
read it ? Of the present work it may safely be
said that much of what it contains is not already
known to probable readers. The second ques-
tion, in the event of the first being satisfactorily
answered, ought to be, Are the contents of suf-
ficient interest or value to warrant publication ?
It would be presumptuous on the part of the
compiler to answer this question affirmatively.
He may be permitted, however, to say, that he
believes that what is authentic and historical in
the life of John M'Comie of Porter is of interest



vi Preface.

and value as illustrative of the social and political
life of the seventeenth century ; and that the
record of the position attained and work accom-
plished by several of his descendants in Aber-
deenshire, and the means by which their position
was attained and work accomplished, will be
found interesting, valuable, and instructive. If
the traditionary events are of less value, they
are still interesting, and their publication may
be excused on the Q^round that most of them
were likely soon otherwise to have passed irre-
trievably into oblivion.

W. M'C. S.



CONTENTS.



PAGE

Introduction, ...... i



CHAPTER I.

Origin of the Clan M'Intosh — Origin of the family of
M'Combie — Called Clan M'Thomas, Acts of Parlia-
ment 1587 and 1594 — Settled in Glenshee — Inter-
marriage with Farquharsons — Bond of manrent to
Lachlan Mor, sixteenth chief of the M'Intoshes,

CHAPTER II.

John M'Comie, the M'Comie Mor — Finnegand — Barony
of Forter — Personal history, traditional— Fight with
the kain-gatherers — Attempt to carry off M'Comie
Mor to Athole — Fight with a foreign champion at
Blair-Athole — Slaughter of the caird — M'Comie
Mor's putting-stone and well — Subdues a fierce bull —
Supernatural incidents : Knox Baxter and the water-
kelpie's wife — Tests the courage of his eldest son —



viii Contents.

Personal history, historical — First a Royalist, but
changes sides — Litigation with Lord Airlie, 1661 —
Excepted from Act of Indemnity, 1662 — Attends
summons of the chief of the M'Intoshes, 1665 — Feud
with tlie Farquharsons of Broughdearg — Raid of
Crandart, 1669 — Fight at Moss of Forfar, 1673 —
Trial, M'Comies v. Farquharsons ; Farquharsons v.
M'Comies, 1673 — Death of M'Comie Mor — His
family, . . . . . .13



CHAPTER in.

Settlement in Aberdeenshire — -Donald M'Comie — Rob-
ert M'Combie — William M'Combie, tenant -in Lyn-
turk — The M'Combies a stalwart race — Faction fights
— Incidents of the '45 — Family of William M'Com-
bie of Lynturk and their descendants — His brothers, 82



CHAPTER IV.

William M'Combie of Tillyfour — His youth — Becomes
tenant of Tillyfour, Bridgend, and Dorsell — Fond of
sport — Begins his career as cattle-breeder, 1844 —
Entertained to public dinner by the gentlemen of the
north-east of Scotland, 1862 — By farm-servants and
tradesmen of the vale of Alford — Second President
of the Scottish Chamber of Agriculture — Visited by
her Majesty the Queen — Publishes ' Cattle and Cat-
tie-Breeders' — M.P. for West Aberdeenshire — Pur-
chases Tillyfour — Crowning success of 1878 — Deatli
— Personal characteristics, . . . .106



Contents. ix

CHAPTER V.

William M'Combie of Easterskene and Lynturk — His
early years — Succeeds to Easterskene, 1824 — Investi-
gations regarding the history of his ancestors — Visits
to Perthshire and Forfarshire — Marriage, 1831 —
Succeeds to Lynturk — Death of his wife, 1835 — And
of his son, 1841 — Easterskene — Lynturk — Easter-
skene herd — Mr M'Combie as a farmer and land-
lord — Public life — Personal characteristics — Con-
clusion, . . . . . .121

Appendix, . . . . 149



THE FAMILY OF M'COMBIE.



INTRODUCTION.

T3I0GRAPHY is ever the most profitable and
interesting matter for both writer and
reader. The Hfe of the most commonplace man
or woman or family, it has been remarked, were
it fully unfolded, would be full of interest, and in
proportion as the individual or family becomes
conspicuous, the interest increases. In some in-
stances the interest attaching to a family name
centres round one individual, who appears as a
bright particular star, outshining all the others.
In other cases the interest attaching to a family
name is continued throughout many generations,
by a succession of men who distinguish them-

A



2 Introduction.

selves in their day and generation as not of com-
mon mould. In either case there arises, among
those inheriting the family name, that pride of
ancestry so highly to be prized by those whose
heritage it is. An honourable pride of ancestry
is one of the most valuable incentives to the main-
tenance of human worth and greatness. It is
from the honourable pride and ambition of the
individual members of distinguished families to
maintain in undiminished honour the prestige of
the family name that the permanent stability and
greatness of a nation arises. National pride in
the nation's history, and national ambition to hand
down to posterity its honour and glory untar-
nished, or even with added lustre, is the outcome
of the combined efforts of the individuals and
families comprising the nation, animated by the
desire either to maintain and add to individual
and family renown already acquired, or to be the
first to bring renown to an individual or family
not previously distinguished.

The Celtic population of the Highlands of
Scotland have always been remarkable for the



Introduction. 3

tenacity with which they have maintained the
name and honours of the various clans, with their
distinct branches or septs. This determination
has naturally led to a desire to collect and pre-
serve authentic records of the lives of the leading
members of whatever clan or family has achieved
an honourable position, and has through suc-
cessive generations maintained that position ; and
the object of the present memoir is to put on
record and preserve whatever has come down to
the present time, through history or tradition,
concerning the family of M'Combie, a branch .of
the Clan M'Intosh.



CHAPTER I.

ORIGIN OF THE CLAN M'iNTOSH — ORIGIN OF THE FAMILY OF
M'COMBIE — CALLED CLAN M'THOMAS, ACTS OF PARLIAMENT
1587 AND 1594 — SETTLED IN GLENSHEE — INTERMARRIAGE
WITH FARQUHARSONS — BOND OF MANRENT TO LACHLAN MOR,
SIXTEENTH CHIEF OF THE M'iNTOSHES.

' I ^HE founder of the Clan M'Intosh was Shaw
M'Duff, second son of the fifth Earl of
Fife, who distinguished himself in quelling a re-
bellion among the Moray tribes, against Malcolm
IV., about the years 1 161-63, and whose descend-
ants thenceforward assumed the name M'Intosh
= Mac-an-Toiseach = son of the foremost or chief
man. The Clan M'Intosh, of which the family
of M'Combie is a branch, was in turn a branch
of the still older Clan Chattan, the derivation of
which is uncertain. The famous fio^ht on the
North Inch of Perth, in 1396, in the reign of



Origin of the Family. 5

Robert III., between the Clan Chattan and Clan
Quhele, was fought by the ancestors of the pres-
ent M'Intoshes, M'Phersons, and Camerons.

From Angus Og, son of Angus, the sixth chief
of the Clan M'Intosh, who died in 1345, were
descended the M'Intoshes of Glen Tilt, who
afterwards settled at Dalmunzie in Glenshee. It
was probably owing to the settlement of this
branch of the M'Intoshes in Glenshee, that the
descendants of Adam M 'William ^ of Garvamore,
in Badenoch, a natural son^ of William,^ the
seventh chief, also settled in Glenshee, Strath-
ardle, and Glenisla.

This Adam M'Intosh, son of William, the
seventh chief of the Clan M'Intosh, was the
founder of that branch of the clan which after-
wards came to be known by the surname of
M 'Thomas = son of Thomas, which in time
became corrupted into M'Thomie, M'Homie,
M'Omie, M'Comie, and latterly M'Combie.
The surname M'Intosh was used interchange-
ably with M'Comie until the settlement in

1 Appendix, Note A. - Appendix, Note B. ^ Appendix, Note C.



6 The Family of M'Combie.

Aberdeenshire. The family of M'Combie took
its rise, therefore, as a separate and distinct
branch of the Clan M'Intosh in the latter half
of the fourteenth century. In the original feu-
charter,^ of date 9th September 1571, the
M'Combies are described as being ab antiquo
tenants and possessors of Finnegand in Glen-
shee.

In the " Roll of the Landdislordis and Baillies "
appended to the Act of Parliament, of date 1587,
" for the quieting and keeping in obedience of the
disordourit subjectis inhabitantis of the Bordouris,
Hielandis, and His," commonly called " The
General Band," there is first given " The Roll of
the names of the Landislordis and Baillies of
Landis in the Hielandis and lies, quhair brokin
men hes duelt and presentlie duellis," followed by
"The Roll of the Clannis [in the Hielandis and
lies] that hes Capitanes, Cheiffis, and Chiftanes
quhome on thay depend, oft tymes aganis the
willis of thair Landislordis : and of sum speciale
personis of branchis of the saidis clannis." In

^ Appendix, Note D.



Called Clan M' Thomas. 7

the latter roll there occurs the " Clan M'Thomas
in Glensche."

In the roll of the clans of 1587, following " Clan
M'Thomas in Glensche," are the " Fergussonis,
Spaldingis," without locality given, and the " Mak-
intoscheis in Athoill," showing that Angus Og's
descendants, together with those of Adam, son of
the seventh chief, still held Glen Tilt and Glen-
shee as their headquarters.

In the roll of the broken clans in the Hiofh-
lands and Isles, in the Act of Parliament " for
punishment of thift, reiff, oppressioun, and soirn-
ing," of date 1594, there are included under
"many brokin men," the "Fergussonis, Spa-
dingis, M'Intosheis in Athoill, M'Thomas in
Glensche," and " Ferquharsonis in Bra of Mar,"
The necessity for this second roll, so soon following
on that of 1587, is set forth as follows: " Oure
Soverane Lord and his estaitis in this present
Parliament, considering that, nochtwithstanding
the sundrie Actis maid be his Hienes, and his
maist nobill progenitouris, for punischment of the
authoris of thift, reiff, oppression, and sorning,



8 The Family of M'Combie.

and masteris and sustenaries of thevis ; yet sic
hes bene, and presentlie is, the barbarous cruelties
and daylie heirschippis of the wickit thevis and
lymmaris of the clannis and surenames following,
inhabiting the Hielands and lies," &c.

In both rolls the M'Intoshes, Fergussons,
Spaldings, and M'Thomases occur together ; and
in the ' Geography of the Clans of Scotland,'
by Mr T. B. Johnston and Colonel J. A. Robert-
son, the M'Intoshes are marked in the map as in
Glen Tilt only, and the M 'Thomas clan in the
head of Glenshee, with the Fergussons lower
down, and the Spaldings lowest down in what is
now known as the Blackwater district, and in
Strathardle around Ashintully. There is evi-
dently something wrong in this arrangement.
The M'Intoshes were in Glen Tilt previous to
1587; but they were also in Dalmunzie, in the
head of Glenshee. Where the Ferofussons are
placed in the map, Finnegand is situated, where
no Fergussons were at that time nor since ; and
in 1571 the M'Thomases had been '' ab antiquo''
possessors of Finnegand, and were in possession



Located in Glenshee. 9

of it for long after 1594. The Spaldings were,
until comparatively recent times, tenants and pos-
sessors in the Blackwater district of Glenshee,
and in and around Ashintully in Strathardle.
Bearing in mind that the M'Intoshes and
M'Thomases were of the same origin, and that
long after this time of 1587, or even of 1594, the
head of the Clan M 'Thomas used the surname
M'Intosh Interchangeably with M'Comie, there
can be little doubt but that Glen Tilt in Athole,
with the head of Glenshee, should be set down
in a clan map of the sixteenth century as held
by M'Intoshes, and the district between the head
of Glenshee and what is now the Blackwater
district, as held by the branch of the M'Intoshes
known by the surnames of M'Intosh, M 'Thomas,
and M'Comie, and below the M'Comies, the
Spaldings. The Fergussons in the map ought
to be placed in the Glenshee south of Dunkeld,
held, in part at least, by Fergusson, Baron of
Fandowie, and not in the Glenshee north of
Dunkeld.

It is clearly established, however, both by the



lo The Family of M'Cornbie.

parliamentary records of Scotland and by char-
ter, that the M'Comies were a distinct family,
settled in Glenshee in the sixteenth century.
The phrase ab antiquo, in the charter of 1571,
establishes a settlement long previous to that ;
and their descent from William, seventh chief of
the M'Intoshes, points to this settlement as being
probably in the end of the fourteenth or begin-
ning of the fifteenth century.

In the roll of 1594, the M 'Thomases in Glen-
shee are immediately followed by the Farquhar-
sons in Braemar, The great hero of the Far-
quharsons was the renowned Finla Mor. In
1547, he was standard-bearer in the disastrous
battle of Pinkie, where he was slain. It is an
interesting fact that the great hero of the
M'Comies, the M'Comie Mor, was a lineal de-
scendant of Finla Mors. Finla Mors first wife
was a daughter of Baron Reid of Kincardine-
Stewart. Their eldest son, William, married Bea-
trix Gordon, daughter of Lord Sutherland, whose
daughter was married to Thomas M'Intosh of
Finnegand. The family, therefore, had acquired



Band of Manre7it to Chief of M'lntoshes. 1 1

considerable influence and power in the sixteenth
century ; and in the words of the Act of Parlia-
ment of 1 587, was depending on its own chief, " oft-
times against the will," it may be, of its feudal
superior, the Earl of Athole. The concern ex-
pressed by Parliament in the doings of these
"brokin men" — that is, branches of original clans
who had assumed independence — naturally led
these to confederate themselves. The measures
adopted by the Scottish Government after the
Act of Parliament of 1587, had evidently been
ineffectual in bringing these broken men into
submission ; but the subject being taken up again
so soon after, showed both that the independent
branches were proving troublesome to their land-
lords and the Government, and that the latter
was determined to bring them to account.

Accordingly, in the year following the Act of
1594, we find the distant colonies of the clan in
Aberdeenshire and Perthshire granting a heritable
band of manrent, at Invercauld, to Lachlan Mor,
the sixteenth chief of the M'Intoshes. In this
band, dated March 1595, James M'Intosh of



12 The Family of M'Combie.

Gask, Donald Farquharson of TuJligarmont,
John Farquharson of Invercauld, George, Lach-
lan, and Finlay Farquharson, brothers to the
laird Donald (these four were sons, and John of
Invercauld a grandson, of Finla Mor), Duncan
M'Intosh of Dalmunzie, and Robert M'Homie in
the burn of Glenshee, promise to maintain, fortify,
and defend Lachlan and his heirs, "as our natu-
rall cheiff."



'3



CHAPTER II.

JOHN M'COMIE, THE M'COMIE MOR — FINNEGAND — BARONY OF
FORTER — PERSONAL HISTORY, TRADITIONAL — FIGHT WITH THE
KAIN-GATHERERS — ATTEMPT TO CARRY OFF M'COMIE MOR TO
ATHOLE — FIGHT WITH A FOREIGN CHAMPION AT BLAIR-ATHOLE
— SLAUGHTER OF THE CAIRD — M'COMIE MOR'S PUTTING-STONE
AND WELL — SUBDUES A FIERCE BULL — SUPERNATURAL INCI-
DENTS : KNOX BAXTER AND THE WATER-KELPIE's WIFE — TESTS
THE COURAGE OF HIS ELDEST SON — PERSONAL HISTORY, HIS-
TORICAL — FIRST A ROYALIST, BUT CHANGES SIDES — LITIGATION
WITH LORD AIRLIE, 1661 — EXCEPTED FROM ACT OF INDEMNITY,
1662 — ATTENDS SUMMONS OF THE CHIEF OF THE M'INTOSHES,
1665 — FEUD WITH THE FARQUHARSONS OF BROUGHDEARG —
RAID OF CRANDART, 1669 — FIGHT AT MOSS OF FORFAR, 1673
— TRIAL, M'COMIES V. FARQUHARSONS ; FARQUHARSONS V.
M'COMIES, 1673 — DEATH OF M'COMIE MOR — HIS FAMILY.

TTROM the end of the sixteenth to about
the middle of the seventeenth century,
there seems to have been a period of com-
parative quietude. The tranquilHty of the rest
of the country, from the Union of the Crowns to
the beginning of the great Civil War, exerted its



14 The Family of M'Combie.

influence on the Highlands also. About the
beginning of this period was born John M'Comie,
the M'Comie Mor, in whose lifetime the family
rose to its highest point of influence and power in
Perthshire and Forfarshire, and also sank to its
lowest ebb, under powers and circumstances which
the haughty chief was too proud to submit to,
and in his old age unable successfully to resist.
History and tradition alike bear testimony to the
remarkable character of this Highland chief The
sagacity and indomitable spirit that characterised
his mental qualities were not more conspicuous
among his contemporaries than his extraordinary
bodily strength. Sir ^neas M'Pherson, in his
MS. history, makes mention of "John M'Intosh
of Forter, commonly called M'Comie," as among
" the oldest and wisest not only of my own, but
of all our neighbour families ; ... all men of
sense and reputation, and most of them so very
old that if they were not acquainted with Finla
Mor himself, they were at least personally known
to his children." John M'Comie could not have
been acquainted with Finla Mor, but might have



John M'Comie, the M'Comie Mor. 15

been personally acquainted with his children, his
own mother being a granddaughter of Finla Mor.

Sir ^neas M'Pherson speaks of John M'Intosh,
or M'Comie, as of Forter, of which barony he
had obtained a wadset from the Earl of Airlie,
some time between 1651 ^ and 1660. After enter-
ing on possession of Forter, he built a mansion-
house on the estate at Crandart, where he took
up his residence. Crandart is situated on the
right bank of the Isla, about a mile and a half
north of the old castle of Forter, which had been
burned down by Argyll in 1640. Before pro-
ceeding further with the history of the M'Comies,
it is necessary to describe the main features of
the lands held by them in Perthshire and Forfar-
shire.

Finnegand, that had been so long in the posses-
sion of the M'Comies, lies wholly on the right bank
of the Shee, in the parish of Kirkmichael, Perth-
shire. On the south-east corner, opposite Dal-
naglar, the land on the side of the Shee at its low-
est point is over 1000 feet above sea-level. For

1 Appendix, Note E.



1 6 The Family of M'Combie.

about two miles along the Shee, which from the
mansion-house of Finnegand turns a little to the
west, there is a belt of arable land, consisting of
level haughs and gently sloping fields, extending
from two to three hundred yards from the water-
side ; then a series of rounded heights, of no great
elevation, leads to the foot of the range of moun-
tains forming the watershed between Glenshee
and the glens with their tributary streams stretch-
ing southwards to Strathardle. The land, with
an easterly and north-easterly slope and aspect,
is of moderate fertility; and from its height above
sea-level is better adapted for green than white
crops — grain crops being fully matured only in
very favourable seasons. At about half a mile
from the Shee, the mountains rise rather abruptly,
culminating in Meall Odhar and Meall Uaine,
the latter being 2600 feet above sea-level. On
the opposite side of the Shee from Finnegand
lies Broughdearg, also with its belt of arable land
on the left bank of the Shee, and the mountains
forming the watershed between Glenshee and
Glenisla rising steeply behind it. The highest



Finnegand and Barony of Farter. 1 7

point between Broughdearg and Glenisla Is Meal-
na-letter, 2297 feet above sea-level, which is on
the boundary-line between Perthshire and Forfar-
shire, and looks down towards the east upon
Crandart. Farquharson of Broughdearg, it will be
seen, marched both west and east with M'Comie
Mor — on the west with Finnegand, on the east
with the barony of Forter, and the large tract of
forest-ground in the extreme north of Glenisla,
The result, with ill-defined boundary-lines, and
unconquerable courage and unyielding pride in
both chieftains, was disastrous to both.

The property of Dalmunzie, held by the de-
scendants of Angus Og, lies about two miles
north-west of Finnegand, immediately west of
the Spittal of Glenshee, and is still held by a
M'Intosh. Glenbeg, in which the M'Comies had
a shealing, lies north of the Spittal of Glenshee,
marching with Braemar on the north.

The barony of Forter, on which the mansion-
house of Crandart was to become the headquar-
ters of the family of M'Combie, is situated in the
west of Forfarshire, in the parish of Glenisla, and

B



1 8 The Family of M'Combie.

extends from Mount Blair, 2441 feet, on the
south, to Cairn - na - Glasha, 3484 feet, on the
north. For about four miles from the eastern
base of Mount Blair northwards, the Isla is the
eastern boundary ; it then includes both sides of
the Isla, the boundary being the watershed be-
tween Glencally and the Isla, over the summit
of Finalty, 2954 feet. On the north the boun-
dary is formed by the watershed between Canness
glen — Canness burn being the north - eastern
branch of the Isla — and the glen of the Doll,
down which rushes the Whitewater to join the
South Esk, and the watershed between Can-
lochan glen, the burn of which is the north-western
branch of the Isla, and Glencallater in Aberdeen-
shire. Between Canness and the head of the
glen of the Doll the highest summit is Tom
Buidhe, 3140 feet; between Canlochan and Glen-
callater the hiofhest summit is Cairn-na-Glasha.
On the west, the broad-crowned Glas Maol, 3502
feet, near the summit of which the shires of Aber-
deen, Perth, and Forfar meet, is the culminating
point of Forfarshire. Thence the boundary-line



Barony of Forte7\ 19

goes along the top of Craig Leacach, 3238 feet,
which descends in almost a sheer precipice to the
Brighty burn, which rises far up the Glas Maol.
On the western side of Craig Leacach is Glen-
beg, which runs south to the Spittal of Glenshee.
At Cairn Aighe, 2824 feet, the boundary -line
turns south-eastward to Monamenach, 2649 feet,
about two miles north-north-west of Crandart,
and thence in a southerly direction to the height
overlooking Dalnaglar and the Balloch, whence
it sweeps round south-eastwards to Mount Blair
again. The length of this district, from Mount
Blair to Cairn - na - Glasha, is about ten miles,
the breadth varying from one to four miles.
The low-lying arable ground extends from the
Balloch, 1000 feet, to Auchavan and the Linns,
about 1250 feet. Much of this is a friable fertile
soil. Above the 1250 feet line, much fine sum-
mer pasture-land stretches up the mountain-sides
to about 2000 feet. The scenery around Forter
is picturesque ; above Forter, Glenisla is narrow,
the steep mountain-sides closing in on the narrow
bottom of the o^len. Above the Tulchan, Glen-



20 The Family of M'Combie.

isla contains some of the finest mountain and
glen scenery in Scotland. To the left, going up
the right bank of the Isla, Monega rises precipi-
tously to the height of 2917 feet, its lower slope
for about a mile below the junction of Canlochan
and Canness beinor well wooded. In front, the
towering promontory that divides Canlochan from
Canness rises grandly and abruptly. The lower
part is thickly wooded, then the scarred rocky
face, with thin lines of trees struggling up wher-
ever they can find sufficient soil, rises steep and
grand to the height of nearly 3000 feet. To the
right, Canness, a narrow gorge, wooded on its
western side for about a mile from its junction
with Canlochan, penetrates for about two miles,
first in a north-easterly, then in a north-westerly
direction, towards the head-waters of Glencallater.
To the left is Canlochan, the glory of Glenisla.
From the north - east shoulder of Monega an
escarpment runs right round the head of Can-
lochan, and back to the water-parting between


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