William M'Combie Smith.

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

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Online LibraryWilliam M'Combie SmithMemoir of the family of M'Combie, a branch of the Clan M'Intosh; → online text (page 5 of 8)
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and after spending some time in concealment,
succeeded in orettinor first to Whitehaven in
England, and subsequently went to the West
Indies, where his future history is unknown.

The eldest son of Robert was William, grand-
father of the present proprietor of Easterskene
and Lynturk. He became tenant of Upper and
Lower Farmton and Mains of Lynturk in 1748,



88 The Family of APCoinbie.

residing at Lynturk, where his house still remains,
with the date 1762 on the lintel above the door.
It is situated close to the present mansion-house
of Lynturk, and the stones round the doors and
windows, with their moulded corners, very like
those at Crandart, were taken from the old
castle of Lynturk, which was situated a little
to the north-west. The present proprietor re-
members seeing his grandfather in this house,
which is a relic of great interest to him, and
has been recently new-roofed to preserve the
walls.

A most interesting fact in connection with the
history of the M'Combies has been the hered-
itary transmission uninterruptedly for over 500
years of great personal stature and strength.
The seventh chief of the M'Intoshes, William,
from whom they are descended, was a man "of
stature exceeding that of common men." The
M'Comie who got the charter for Finnegand
had the cognomen oi Mor in 1571, and although
John M'Comie of Forter was tJie M'Comie Mor
par excellence in legend and history, it must be



A Stahvart Race. 89

remembered that his ancestors had the same cog-
nomen before him, and his son John, who was
slain at the Moss of Forfar, was known as young
M'Comie Mor. So little of the personal history
of Donald and Robert has come down to us,
that we find no particular record of their personal
appearance ; but no sooner do we come to learn
particulars of the personal appearance of their de-
scendants than this hereditary personal charac-
teristic is as marked as ever. The late Georgfe
Mackie, slater, who was when young a servant to
William M'Combie at Lynturk, used to tell the
present proprietor of Lynturk that his grandfather
at Lynturk had the largest bones of any man he
ever met with, and he had the reputation of being
the strongest man of seven parishes. His son
Thomas, the present proprietor's father, used to
be the champion putter of the stone on the links
of Aberdeen, among the young men of his time.
His eldest son, "the stalwart laird" of Easter-
skene, is 6 ft. 2 in., and very muscular ; and his
brother, the late Mr J. B. M'Combie, was also
6 ft. 2 in., and of massive build. Their cousin.



90 The Family of M'Coinbie.

the late Dr M'Combie of Tillyfour, was about the
same height. James M'Combie of Farmton was
a remarkably strong man, Charles M'Combie
of Tillychetly, the father of the present tenant,
was a powerfully built deep-chested man ; and
many will remember the tall figure of the late
editor of the ' Free Press.' In very few families
has a personal characteristic been transmitted in
so conspicuous a manner for such a length of
time — over 500 years, dating fromWilliam, seventh
chief of the M'Intoshes.

William M'Combie, when a young man, was,
like his great ancestor, distinguished for his
personal prowess. Up to the beginning of the
present century, and In many Instances well Into
it, faction fights between the Inhabitants of dif-
ferent parishes or districts were very common in
Aberdeenshire, and, we believe, all over the coun-
try. A remarkable fight of this kind took place
when William M'Combie was a young man, on
the occasion of a penny, or, as it was sometimes
called, a " siller " wedding between a Leochel
man and a Monymusk woman. On this occasion



William M'Conibic, Lyutiirk. 91

the fight that took place seems to have been
between not only the guests present from the
parishes of Leochel and Monymusk, but also
those from several neighbouring parishes, the
combatants ranging themselves with the bride-
groom's party or the bride's, according to resi-
dence west or east respectively of Cairn William_
William M'Combie was captain of the Leochel
or west of Cairn William men, and a noted
fighting man named Thomson from Mill of Hole,
Midmar, captain of the Monymusk or east of
Cairn William men. The fieht was a lone and
stubborn one ; and a vivid idea of the vigour
with which it was prosecuted, and the hard
knocks going, is conveyed by the fact that Wil-
liam M'Combie sent his youngest brother Donald
to strip some neighbouring houses of their thatch,
and bring the cabers to supply the necessary
weapons of war for such of the Leochel men
and their partisans as had the misfortune to
break their own cudgels on the heads of their
opponents. Victory is said to have rested ulti-
mately with the bridegroom's party, in great mea-



92 The Family of M'Corubie.

sure owing to the prowess of their captain, who
defeated the Midmar champion in single combat.
On another occasion WilHam M'Combie had
gone into a neighbouring parish to attend a ball,
at which there was present a young man with
whom he had had a quarrel, which had not been
satisfactorily settled. As the night wore on he
observed this young man consulting from time to
time with several of his associates, and being sus-
picious of mischief being plotted against himself,
he kept a wary eye on their movements. At
length observing some commotion in the other
end of the ball-room from where he was standing,
he noticed that his opponent and his associates
were making their way towards him, in a line
extending from side to side of the house, so as
to prevent his escape, while the women and the
more peaceably inclined of the dancers were
making a hurried exit. But like the athletic
miller of "Christ's Kirk on the Green" —

" M'Comie was o' manly mak,
To meet him was nae mows ;
There durst nae tensome there him tak,
Sae noited he ther pows " —



vD



William M'Comdie, Lynturk. 9

for springing upwards he wrenched a caber
from the roof above him, and using it Hke a
two - handed sword, with terrific sweeps right
and left he cleared the ball-room and escaped
without injury.

His strength and courage on occasions such
as these, made him very popular amongst the
young men of the surrounding district, a jDop-
ularity that was like to have brought him into
some trouble in 1745. The proprietor of Tonley
at that time was an ardent supporter of Prince
Charles, and became active in raising men in
his behalf. Well knowing William M'Combie's
personal prowess, and his popularity among the
class of men he wanted to join the Prince's army,
he was sure that if he got him to join, many
would follow his example, while if he held back,
many would probably do the same who would
otherwise have joined. William M'Combie's
father being a tenant of Tonley, the laird made
sure of getting any of his tenant's sons he wanted,
and as we have seen, did get Robert, but found
William determined to have nothing to do with



94 T^^^


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Online LibraryWilliam M'Combie SmithMemoir of the family of M'Combie, a branch of the Clan M'Intosh; → online text (page 5 of 8)