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History of the Parish of Banchory-Devenick
Banchory Lands


Banchory proper embraced two different properties— Banchory-Devenick, and the Kirktown of Banchory— each of which has a separate history up to 1618, when the proprietor of the former purchased the latter, and merged both lands into one. At first they were both church lands granted by different kings, but as the lands of Banchory-Devenick left the hands of the church earlier than the other, they have a more varied history.

Kirktown of Banchory was granted to the See of Old Machar in 1163, by Malcolm IV., and Banchory-Devenick, subject to a yearly annuity of one hundred shillings, together with certain forensical service, to the Abbot and Convent of Arbroath by Alexander II., in 1244. Twelve years later the Abbot parted with the property, disponing it to Lord Alan Hostiarius, justiciary of Scotland. The justiciary was a powerful noble. His real name was Lundie or Lundin, but his predecessors having been appointed door ward, or hostiarius, to the king, an appointment which became hereditary, they afterwards assumed the name of Durward. Lord Alan, who was the son of Thomas Durward, had married the natural daughter of Alexander II., by whom he was created Earl of Athole, and in 1242, made great justiciary of Scotland. His influence at court was of the most powerful character, but he fell into disgrace in 1251 through intriguing against the Crown. Being afterwards restored to favour, however, he became Regent of Scotland during part of the minority of Alexander III. In 1257 he renewed the claim, which had been made before 1228 by his father, to the Earldom of Mar, which even at that time was a matter of dispute. Though defeated in his claim to the title, he succeeded to the extensive domains in Mar, extending from Invercanny on the Dee to Alford on the Don, and from Banchory-Devenick and Skene on the east to Coull on the west, which had been acquired by his father under the compromise arrived at of the dispute in his case. As “ the most accomplished knight, and the best military leader of his time,” he got the lands of Banchory-Devenick in return for his homage and service, and paying three merks of silver, together with the annual annuity of 100 shillings, as stipulated for by the King in the original charter. Under the new titles, which converted the lands of Banchory into “a free barony,” Lord Alan and his heirs were prohibited from alienating or feuing any portion of the ground to third parties, under penalty of forfeiture and escheat. This prohibition was shortly afterwards contravened, and the whole of the lands thereupon reverted to the Abbacy.

The next stage in the history of Banchory-Devenick is its passing into the hands of the Meldrum family. William of Melgdrum, who had got possession of a considerable portion from Lord Alan, ultimately succeeded in getting a charter of the lands in 1333 (see Appendix). Prior to this, however, Robert the Bruce granted his annuity of ^5, exigible annually from the lands, to Elizabeth Durward, one of the daughters of Lord Alan. In 1346, William Melgdrum got another charter of confirmation and infeftment (see Appendix) under which he and his heirs were prohibited from selling any of the land. The family of Melgdrum is of great antiquity. Philip de Fedarg, a distinguished gentleman in the reign of Alexander II., was ennobled, and subsequently held considerable sway in the north. He disputed boundaries with the Abbot of Arbroath, and their differences were finally adjusted in 1236—the Abbot afterwards granting him for his homage and service the territory of Auchineve. It is uncertain whether this Philip or his son relinquished the designation of Fedarg, and assumed that of Melgdrum ; but this happened in the reign of Alexander III., about the year 1249.

Sir Philip de Melgdrum, son of Philip de Fedarg, who was the first Meldrum of Meldrum, married Agnes Cumyn, sister of Alexander, Earl of Buchan. He had powerful influence in State affairs, and in 1252 was one of the Justiciars of Scotland. The dispute with the Abbot of Arbroath appears to have been interminable, for Sir Philip and his Lady contested the right of presentation to the Church of Bethelny, the tithes of which had been given to the Abbey by William Cumyn, first Earl of Buchan, the brother or uncle of Philip’s wife, and had been confirmed by Alexander II. in 1221-2. The Bishop of Aberdeen had to try the case, and he held a court at Inverurie, on 21st January, 1262, to which all interested were summoned. Judgment was pronounced in the following month, and the decreet was witnessed by Richard, the vicar, by William Lamberton, rector of Turriff, Roger Stainforth, vicar of Banchory-Terny, Thomas de Bennin, rector of the schools of Aberdeen, and Roger Scharcheburg, official. Sir Philip died in the reign of Alexander III., and was succeeded by his eldest son, Sir William de Meldrum, who espoused the cause of Baliol in his competition with Bruce for the Crown of Scotland. Sir William was succeeded by his eldest son, John, of whose history little is preserved. He left two sons, of whom the eldest, Sir Philip, became his heir. His second son, William, who acquired the lands of Banchory, as before mentioned, and was ancestor of the Meldrums of Fyvie, acted as one of the ambassadors nominated to negotiate the liberty of David II., who had been taken prisoner by the English at the battle of Neville’s Cross in 1346. In October, 1353, the King confirmed to him, and to his heirs, the lands and barony of Meldrum.

Nine years later the King, who frequently visited Aberdeen, granted a charter, in January, 1362, in favour of the Dominican or Black Friars, whose church was situated in the vicinity of the East Church, of an annual annuity of 100 shillings from the Barony of Banchory-Devenick, for the endowment of a chaplain to serve in their Church at the altar of the Blessed Virgin, or of Saint Michael; and the donation bears to be made for the welfare of the soul of the King, of his beloved Margaret de Logy, and the souls of his ancestors and successors. James III., by charter dated 30th September, 1477, confirmed this annuity.

The Meldrums of Fyvie continued as proprietors of Banchory down till almost the close of the sixteenth century. In 1544 the proprietor was Sir George Meldrum, whom Bishop Lesley calls “ane valyeant and wyse gentleman.” In that year he was sent on an embassy to Henry VIII., who was then besieging Boulogne, in France. His instructions were “to commoune upon certane abstuonce, to the effect that Commissioners should meit, quhilk was aggreit qntill his returning in Ingland in the moneth of August thairafter.” In 1554 he secured a tack of the fishings, described in the deed as “foure cobillis,” upon the water of Dee, “payand thairfoir yeirlie fiveteen barrellis salmond gude and sufficient.” In these times the fishings had been very productive, for, according to the Scots Magazine, 900 salmon were caught in one day in April, 1749, at the Raick fishings alone; whilst the other fishings on the Dee and Don had even greater catches in proportion. Difficulty of transit, however, kept down the price, and what would now secure a yearly rental of £60 or £80 could have then been had for as many shillings. So accustomed were the lower orders of Aberdeen and district to salmon dinners, that it was no unusual circumstance for farm servants, on being engaged for the half-year, to stipulate that they would not get salmon beyond three times a week. The present rents of the parish salmon fishings are:—Sea: Clashfarquhar, £50; Portlethen, £180; Findon, £200; Cairnrobin, £90. River: Murtle, £19, Ardoe, £jo\ Inchgarth, £40; Banchory, £38; Kaimhill, £115.

The estate then passed into the hands of the Garden family, during whose proprietorship the two portions of Banchory merged into one. Under charter, dated in 1555, granted by Sir George Meldrum of Fyvie, with consent of William Meldrum of Hatton, his son, George Garden, then designed as proprietor of Dorlaithers, acquired the estate. At the same time, Garden obtained a charter of the lands of Hatton and Auchterless in warrandice of the lands of Banchory. The Gardens were a very ancient and highly respected family, and this George, who was frequently called of that Ilk,# married Isobell Keyth, daughter to the laird of Troup, “wha wes lawful! sone to the Erll Mershall.” He was a burgess of Aberdeen, but on 18th September, 1562, he, along with twelve others, “tint the freedom” through remaining “not actually within the Burgh.” In 1589 he was one of the gentlemen sent by James I. to Denmark in connection with the marriage treaty of the Princess Anne. He left a son and a daughter.

Arthur, the son, succeeded his father in 1590, in which year a Patrick Bissett, “his Maiesties rebell,” took shelter in Banchory House, which was surrounded by a mob from Aberdeen, who claimed him as their prisoner. Considerable mischief had evidently been done, for the Town Council afterwards ordered fifty merks to be paid out of the town’s funds as compensation. Beatrix, the daughter, had an eventful history. She was one of Queen Mary’s maids of honour, and was celebrated for her beauty and her skill as a harpist. Miss Strickland relates a well-known story of her. Once, when the Queen “proclaimed a music meeting, offering her own favourite harp as a prize to the best performer, the fair Beatrice Gardyne of Banchory was adjudged by her majesty to have surpassed all the courtly competitors, and even her own musicians, in skill and taste, as well as in the sweetness of her voice. Neither Michelet, Mary’s newly imported French musician, nor even her old established favourite, David Rizzio, was excepted. The Poet-Queen acknowledged the superiority of the native melodies of Scotland to the most elaborate harmonies which foreign science could produce ; and when she felt the soul-thrilling power of a Scottish ballad from the lips of a sweet-voiced Scottish lassie, the generous Sovereign hailed her young subject as the ‘Queen of Song,’ and accorded the harp to her with this compliment, "You alone are worthy to possess the instrument you touch so well! ’ ” Queen Mary’s harp is now deposited in the museum, in Edinburgh, of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. It was originally graced with a portrait of the royal donor, and the arms of Scotland in solid gold, enriched with several gems—two of which were considered of great value—but these were stolen during the Civil Wars. By her marriage Beatrix again figures prominently. She became the second wife of the redoubtable Findla Mhor, and thus ancestor of the Farquharsons of Invercauld and Finzean, and they had issue five sons and five daughters. Of the sons, Donald, the eldest, got Castleton of Braemar ; Robert, the second, Invercauld; Lachlan, the third, through marriage with Grizel Campbell, the lands of Broughdearg; George, the fourth, through marriage, the lands of Deskry and Glenconry ; and Finlay, the youngest, Achreachan, in Glenlivat. In 1547, Findla was royal standard-bearer at Pinkie. “Surrounded by the men of Strathdee,” says an interesting writer, “he cleared the way with his huge claymore, before which man and horse went down. The English cavalry, under Lord Gray, were in a moment overthrown, and the General himself wounded. But then the main body of the invaders advanced, pouring in volleys of musketry, and Findla Mhor fell on the field, shrouded in the royal banner he had borne with such honour. He lies interred at Musselburgh—Burke says at Invercauld—happy no doubt in that he did not live to see the triumph of England.” It is not clear when Arthur Garden died. He had married Elizabeth, or Elspet Gordon, daughter of the laird of Gight, and left a son, Alexander. It was with this laird that the lands of Banchory-Devenick and Kirktown of Banchory merged into one.

Kept in the hands of the church for four centuries, Kirktown of Banchory at last, in 1571, reached a distinctive point in its history. In that year the Bishop of Aberdeen, with consent of the Dean and Chapter, granted a feu charter of the lands, which was confirmed by the King, in favour of William Blinshell, one of a family that had taken a leading part in the history of Aberdeen for two centuries. As they had long been under one proprietorship, they now, for the next few years, rapidly changed hands. Blinshell, in the same month that he got his feu charter of them, granted a charter of alienation in favour of Robert Menzies, elder, burgess of Aberdeen. He was succeeded in 1586 by his son, David, who married Marjory Gray, by whom he had an only daughter, Marjory. She became the wife of the Rev. Andrew Milne, minister of Maryculter, and inherited her father’s property. The Milnes, however, parted with it in 1618, when they sold it to Alexander Garden for 3000 merks, but subject to a wadsett of 2000 merks upon the Mains of Banchory, held by Gilbert Club, burgess of Aberdeen.

Henceforward the history of the two properties becomes one. Garden was married to Janet Straquhan, by whom he had two sons, both of whom went abroad. One of these, Alexander, who had entered the army, in which he held the rank of Major, proceeded with the troops sent by Charles I. to assist Gustavus Adolphus, and was present at the battle of Lutzen, in 1632, when the gallant king lost his life. Major Garden remained many years at the Swedish Court, where he attained to great distinction. On the abdication, however, of Queen Christina, in 1654, he returned to Scotland, and purchased the estate of Troup, from Troup of that Ilk. He married Betty, daughter of Alexander Strachan, of Glenkindy, and had issue—Alexander Garden, of Troup, who married Bathia, daughter of Sir Alexander Forbes, of Craigievar, and whose grandson, Peter Garden of Delgaty, heir to his brother Francis, Lord Gardenstone of the Court of Session, married the heiress of Campbell of Glenlyon, and thereafter assumed the additional name and arms of that family.

It is strange that the laird who united the two parts of Banchory into one should have also had to let both go out of his family. H is financial affairs became embarrassed, and five years after his purchase of Kirktown of Banchory, the property passed into the Forbes Family, who held it for the next half century.

It was in 1623 that Garden “disponed to William Forbes of Monymusk, and Elizabeth Wishart of Pitarrow, his spouse, the haill lands of Banchory with the pertinents.” Forbes was created a knight baronet, of Scotland and Nova Scotia, by Charles I., in 1626, and in 1629 he was formally infefted in the lands of Banchory, and also part of Torry. He had issue, three sons and three daughters. The eldest son, William, succeeded ; the second son, Robert, became proprietor of Barns ; and the third, Alexander, was subsequently designed of * Aberswithark. The eldest daughter, Jean, married Alexander Lunan, minister of Monymusk, and afterwards of Kintore. Isobell married John Forbes of Asloun ; and the third, Anna, died young.

In 1630 Sir William granted a deed of wadsett over Banchory for 13,840 merks, paid to him by his brother, John Forbes of Leslie, and William and Alexander, his sons. The deed contained a special clause, which provided that in the event of the latter family paying the further sum of 6000 merks within seven years from the date thereof, they should get infeftment of Banchory, the same as if they had purchased it outright. Litigation subsequently followed as to the legal rights of parties, but, ultimately, John Forbes of Leslie secured the proprietorship of Banchory, and had his title ratified by Parliament. He was the second son of William Forbes of Monymusk, and Lady Margaret Douglas, daughter of Sir William Douglas of Kemnay, who in 1588 became ninth Earl of Angus. He obtained the lands of Leslie about 1620, from George, the last Leslie of that Ilk, through paying the debts lying upon them. He married

Jean Leslie, sister of Patrick, second Lord Lindores, from whom it is believed he got for a trifling amount a large portion of the estates of that lordship. He bought Edingarroch and Licklyhead from Patrick Leith in 1625. Along with John Leslie, younger of Pitcaple, he made a representation to the Covenanting Lords against the blockade of the Harbour of Aberdeen, 31st May, 1639. In 1645 he was engaged in the burning of Pitcaple Castle, where Jaffray and Cant were prisoners. Spalding, who calls him “ane gryte covenanter,” records that in April of the previous year his girnillis in Banchorie wes plunderit for the upkeep of the Marquis of Huntly’s army, quartered in Aberdeen.

He was succeeded in his large estates by his son, William. This laird had, in 1644, rendered himself notorious through murdering his neighbour, Alexander Irvine, of Kingcausie. Spalding relates the story with his usual minuteness:—“Vpone Setterday, 17 August, 1644, about 11 houris at evin, Alexander Irving, of Kincousie, cuming quyetlie to Abirdein (becaus he durst not ryd vpone day licht for being at the rode of Montroiss). Williame Forbes, sone naturall to Johne Forbes of Leslie, hapnit to be cuming out of Abirdene going to Banchorie, quhair his father wes duelling, and met with him about the Crabstane, who wold haue takin him and had him perforss to Abirdene, luiking to get for him 5000 merkis conforme to ane ordinans of the Estaitis, that who suld tak him and bring him in sould get the same soume.

Kincovsie being ane fyne gentilman stormit to be tane with the lyk of him, and wnder speiking this Williame Forbes schootis the gentilman with ane pistoll deid, and thairwith cruellie strikis him two straikis in the heid. Thus is this brave gentilman mischantlie mvrdreist, wnder scilens of nicht, (never wining to his armes to defend him self), for greid of this gane set out be the Estaitis, without ground of godliness. Many wes sorrowfull at his death, being mervalouslie weill belovit both in brughe and land. He left behind him his dolorous wyf and fyve father-les children. Vpone the morne he is takin up and bureit within the Laird Drumis Iyll in Sanct Nicholas’ kirk of New Abirdene with gryt mvrning and lamentatioun. This innocent blood is noways pvnishit according to the law of God and man, bot is esteimit and publictlie ap-provin as good and loyall seruice, in manifest contempt of oure dreidfull God and the kingis lawis. For vpone the 21 st of the said moneth of August, four dayis immediatlie efter this bloodie mvrther, the said Williame Forbes is avowitlie brocht in befoir the committe of Abirdein, and found to be ane volunteir in Schir Williame Forbes of Craigiewaris company of trovperis, and declairit him to haue done good seruice to the publict for mvrthering of this gentilman, for no vther ressone bot becauss he wes at Montrose with his young cheif the Laird Drum, drawin thair also aganist his will, as sum said ; for this fault the taking of his lyf is approvin good seruice, and absoluit thairfra. Likeas the said committe sent ane trumpettour to the cross of Abirdene, and be oppin prodamatioun ab-soluit him fra this mvrther frielie, and ordanit 5000 merkis to be liftit af of his estait, being about 12 chalderis victuall, quhairof 2000 merkis sould be givin to the malefactour, and 3000 merkis to Craigiwar, ritmaister, conforme to ane ordinans set out be the generall committe of Estaitis. Likeas thairefter he wes of new agane declairit to haue done good seruice, and to get his rewaird, strictlie charging and commanding that no maner of man sould speik or say aganis the samen bot lavdablie. Bot the Lord luikit to their presumptuous sinis and bloodsched, for in August, 1645, the said Williame Forbes, being keiping his fatheris hous of Likliheid, schuiting ane mvscat, schot his richt hand fra him self; a token that the Lord thocht not this innocent blood good seruice. And that same hand who schot this gentilman wes schot fra him be him self; but it wes his left hand quhilk fyrit, and wes cuttit at the elbo.” Gordon, in his history of the family of Gordon, says that after the Restoration the eldest son of the murdered laird of Kingcausie, “having obtained an order from the Council to apprehend Forbes, went to Caithness, where the assassin then lurked (as he thought in safety), took him prisoner, and carried him to Edinburgh, where by the Council he was remitted to a Justiciary Court to be holden at Aberdeen for that effect, and was by that Court condemned to be hanged at the Crabstane, a place as near as could be guessed to that where the murder was committed ; and which sentence was accordingly executed.”

This, however, was not the case. The loss of his hand had evidently satisfied his enemy for the loss of his head, for he succeeded his father, and married Janet, sister of Lord Duffus, and by her had several children, among whom were John, his successor, and Jean, who became Lady Hatton Meldrum. According to his tombstone in the churchyard of Leslie, he “lyved fifty-fyve yeirs, and depairted this lyfe, November 12, 1670 yeirs.” He is believed to have been the continuator of Matthew Lums-den’s Genealogy of the family of Forbes, from Lumsden’s death in 1580, to 1665. Leslie Castle, now a picturesque ruin, which might have been preserved at little cost in a habitable condition, was rebuilt by him, as appears by an inscription on the wall, dated 17th June, 1661.

John Forbes, his son and successor, married in 1662 Helen Scot, daughter of the laird of Ardross, in Fife, by whom he had several daughters. One of these, Christian, was married, first, to John Skene of Dyce, and, secondly, in 1734, to John Paton of Grandholm.

With this laird the estate of Banchory left the Forbes family. In 1682 he disposed of the whole estate to Robert Cruickshank, merchant in Aberdeen, and Sarah Leslie, his spouse. Cruickshank was the son of John Cruickshank, burgess of Aberdeen, and he was elected Provost for four successive years, beginning in 1693, besides being Member of Parliament for the city from 1694 to 1702. In 1694 he returned the following information for the poll taken in that year :—“Hath one wyfe, and five children in familie, two servant lasses and one man servant.” Of the family, three sons appear in the burgess register of Aberdeen as having been made Guild Brethren, viz. : George, Robert, and James. The first named passed as an advocate in Aberdeen, and married Elizabeth Geddie. The second became a merchant in London. The third qualified as a doctor, and was afterwards designed as “Chirurgeon in Kent, County in Maryland.” One of the daughters, Helen, married the Reverend John Whyte, minister of Coylton, in Ayrshire; the other, Elspet, became the wife of John Johnston, merchant in, and one of the baillies of, Aberdeen. At Michaelmas, 1697, Johnston had exception taken to his election as provost by several members of the Council. These dissentients raised an action of reduction before the Lords of the Privy Council, and, among other grave charges, declared that Johnston, and his father-in-law, disregardful of the laws of God and the sett of the Burgh, have arranged for the future to get themselves alternately returned as Provost. The laird of Banchory has already had himself re-elected four several running years.” The objections were sustained, and, accordingly, in December following, “the haill Council ” elected as provost, Alexander Walker, who was the grandfather of Principal Campbell.

This dispute led to a very curious episode in connection with the Bridge of Ruthrieston. The council register of date, 23rd Feby., 1698, contains the following entry which shows that the spirit of Town Councils has been pretty much the same for a considerable length of time. “The Councill, finding that, when the Bridge of Ruthreston was perfyted, Robert Cruickshank, of Banchorie, being then [1693-4] provost, he did clandistinly cause put up his armes on the sd. bridge without any act of councill, albeit he contrabute nothing for building thereof, and yet the same was begune and near ended in provost Cochran’s time, And was buildcd on the money of the Bridge of Dee, Doe therefore appoint the sd. Robert Cruickshank’s armes to be taken down, and to be given to him, he paying the pryce thereof, And appoints the Mr. of Kirk Work to cause put up in the place where the sd. arms, stood ane handsome cut stone with the following inscription thereon, viz. :—“Senatus-Abredonensis hunc pontem, impensis ex /Ere ad pontem Dee spectante extruendum Curavit, 1693.” Notwithstanding this order, Cruickshank’s arms are still to be seen on the bridge. The reason is this—the grandiloquent inscription of the Council is on the reverse of the stone on which Cruickshank’s arms are cut. Under date, 13th Sept., 1705, the Council “ appointed the Mr. of Kirk work to cause turn the stone whereon the Inscription is that Robert Cruickshank, of Banchorie, his Arms qch are on the back thereof may be seen, and to add Provost of Abd. to his designation when this Bridge was built, and to put on vpon another stone of the sd.

Johnston, his son-in-law, died within the next year or two, being survived by his wife who had no issue, and Cruickshank died about ist May, 1717, and was buried in Saint Nicholas Churchyard, Aberdeen. Two years previously he bequeathed 1000 merks to form a fund for “relieving decayed Burgesses, their wives and children.” His grandson, Robert Cruickshank, son of the before designed George Cruickshank, succeeded, and with him the estate again changed hands.

In 1724, Cruickshank, who was then resident with his widowed mother in Saint Andrews, sold the estate to James Gordon, merchant in Aberdeen, who was then proprietor of Ardmellie, in the parish of Marnoch, Banffshire. Gordon was a keen Episcopalian, and took an active interest in the raising of funds for the erection of a “meeting house in Aberdeen, for that body.” In 1736 he secured an obligation from the Governors of Robert Gordon’s Hospital, Aberdeen, agreeing to grant 30 “spidarrock” of peats—a spidarrock being what would be dug in one day by a spade—to be cast annually out of the moss of Findon and Cookston by the tenants of Banchory, for sale in Aberdeen for the space of 29 years after Candlemas 1737, each “spidarrock” to pay 48 shillings Scots yearly. He married Mary Buchan, and his eldest daughter, Anne, married in 1757 John Gordon of Craig, by whom she had three sons—John, who died in infancy; James, the successor; and Francis. Another daughter, Mary, married in 1768 Sir Alexander Bannerman of Elsick.

The next change of proprietor brought the estate into the hands of the Thomsons, with whose name it is best known. Gordon sold the property, in 1743, to Alexander Thomson, advocate in Aberdeen, who also acquired, in 1765, part of the fourth lot of the lands of Portlethen, called Balquharn. He married Katherine Skene, daughter of George Skene of Rubislaw, who survived him, and died 4th March, 1776, aged 73. One stirring incident in his life was undoubtedly due to his connection with the Skene family. He lived in the fine old mansion in the Guestrow, now known as the Victoria Lodging House. It had belonged to his wife’s family, and he had either bought or leased it. At all events, when the Duke of Cumberland came to Aberdeen in February, 1746, in pursuit of the Jacobite rebels, he pronounced Marischal College, which had been prepared for him, as too small, and took up his abode in Thomson’s mansion, which was roomy enough for him. For six weeks he occupied his unwilling host’s house, and during that time “made use of every kind of provisions found in the house, coals, candles, ales, or other liquors in the cellars, and the milk of his [host’s] cow : bed and table linen, which were very much spoiled and abused ; he broke up a press in which Mrs. Thomson had lodged a considerable quantity of sugar, and whereof he took every grain weight. When about to march from Aberdeen, he left six guineas to the three servants of the house, but did not make the least compliment or requital to Mr. Thomson for the so long and free use of his house, furniture, and provisions, nor so much as call for his landlord or landlady to reward them thanks.”

In 1768 Thomson mortified to the minister and Kirk-session of Banchory-Devenick, for behoof of the poor of the parish, the sum of £5, payable yearly after his demise, from the lands of Kirktown of Banchory. The Session’s right to the annuity was constituted “ by gift and delivery to their Treasurer of earth and stone of the ground of the foresaid lands of Kirktown of Banchory, an hand full of corn, stubble, straw, and grass, together with a penny and other symbols used in the like cases.” The deed of mortification, which was registered in the Baillie Court books of Aberdeen, declares “ that the foresaid annuity shall never be redeemed upon any consideration, but shall remain as a perpetual burden in all time coming on the said lands of Banchory.” He also mortified £20 to be paid annually out of the lands of Balquharn to the master of mortification of Aberdeen, for payment of annuities to certain relatives, at whose decease the fund was directed to be applied in all time coming “ towards the support and maintenance of old infirm Burgesses of Guild of Aberdeen ; and their wives ; or to their widows; or to their sons or grandsons; daughters or grand-daughters of Burgesses of Guild— the persons receiving the benefit being old, infirm, and not able to gain a livelihood, and being of pious disposition.”

At the same date he executed a deed of entail (see Appendix) of the whole of his extensive estates. He left a most curious array of reasons for doing so, for the special guidance of his trustees and factor. “ It may be proper to let my friends know some of my reasons for executing the Deed of Entail of my lands of Banchory, Rainieshill, &c. I many times considered the circumstances of my ancient friends and relations now dead, that those who made any figure in the world, and acquired a competency of means, their eldest sons and successors squandered away their Estates, and spent the same in a foolish profuse idle way. First—To give some instances

A-died, leaving his estate to his eldest son, B-, who sold it. He lived and died in great want, being a sluggard. Second—C-, who was an eminent lawyer, died leaving a plentiful estate to his only son, D-, who became an Edinburgh lawyer. He afterwards squandered away his substance, neglected his business, though he was one of the best writers of his time, and at last died in low circumstances, and his sons after him turned debauchees. Third—E-, who was a man of great knowledge and activity, acquired a considerable estate in money, which he divided amongst his five sons, who went abroad, made no figure, but spent their patrimonies without doing any good. Fourth—F-, acquired the estate of. . . with several feus, houses, and fishings. He left all his children competently provided for.

His eldest son, G-, succeeded to all his means and estate, with the burden of his mother’s liferent and the younger children’s provision. He would have had a very good reversion if he had managed well and applied to business. Other instances could be given, but I shall not mention them on account of their surviving friends. Fifth—None of these friends executed any Deed of Entail of their estates. When I considered how those before me were represented, I thought a Deed of Entail might be tried to see if that would preserve my small estate from being squandered away . . .

Mr. Thomson died in 1773, at the advanced age of 81 years.

He was succeeded, under the deed of entail, by his nephew, Andrew, the eldest son of his brother, Andrew, an advocate in Aberdeen, and proprietor of Cammachmore, in the Mearns. Andrew Thomson, senior, who died in

1766, was married to Margaret Muir, by whom he had issue, Andrew, James, Margaret, Anne, and Helen. Andrew, the eldest son, who was born on 28th October, 1747, married in 1769 Mary Skene, daughter of Dr. Andrew Skene, a lineal descendant of the great Scottish reformer, John Knox. “Knox left three daughters, one of whom was married to a Mr. Baillie of Jerviswood, and by him had a daughter, who was married to a Mr. Kirkton, of Edinburgh.” By this marriage there was a daughter,

Margaret, who married Dr. Andrew Skene, of Aberdeen, the grandfather of Thomson’s wife. He had issue, Margaret, Andrew, and Alexander. During his proprietorship the third lot of the lands and Barony of Portlethen, called Glashfarquhar, was acquired from James Thomson of Portlethen, and “added, annexed, and conjoined to the tailzied lands and estate of Banchory, Rainieshill, &c., from which it was never to be disjoined.” Thomson died in 1781, at the age of 34.

Andrew Thomson, his eldest son, succeeded. He was born on 27th December, 1774, and educated at the University of Aberdeen, at which he studied medicine. He married Helen Hamilton, second daughter of Dr. Robert Hamilton, professor of natural philosophy in Marischal College, Aberdeen. He died on 13th April, 1806, in the 32nd year of his age. Smeaton says, “ He is remembered as a man devoted to literary and scientific pursuits, with a considerable genius for music, and an enthusiastic love of chemistry. He erected a building out of doors where he could carry on his chemical experiments.”

He was succeeded by the last and most venerable of the Thomsons, his son, Alexander, who became laird at the age of eight. His early training devolved entirely upon his mother, who was known as a very superior and most pious woman. He studied at the Grammar School, and thereafter at Marischal College, where he graduated in 1816. Proceeding to Edinburgh, he studied for the bar, and passed as an advocate in 1820. He never practised—preferring the life of a country gentleman to the worry and bustle of a lawyer. On 14th February, 1825, he married Jessy, daughter of Alexander Fraser, ex Lord Provost of Aberdeen, who survived him.

Securing disentail and devoting great attention to the improvement of his estates, as also to county business, Mr. Thomson speedily became one of the most popular proprietors in the north. The old house of Banchory, which was erected in middle of the seventeenth century, having become ruinous, he had a massive new mansion erected on same site. The foundation-stone was laid with much ceremony on 21st January, 1840. He was ordained an elder of the Parish Church at Banchory ; but subsequently becoming more of the evangelical turn of mind, he resigned office. In the Disruption controversy, he took a very prominent part, sparing neither time nor money in advancing the cause of the Free Church. On 1 st June, 1843, he laid the foundation-stone of a Free Church at New Machar, on his estate of Rainieshill, and he was the means of forming a congregation and procuring a minister for the Free Church of Banchory-Devenick, which was built almost entirely at his own expense. In September Dr. Chalmers paid a week’s visit to Mr. Thomson at Banchory House, and, on the 10th of that month, preached on the lawn to an immense congregation, drawn from many miles around, including Aberdeen. At the Free Church General Assembly of 1844 Mr. Thomson suggested a scheme for providing manses for the clergy, and the establishment of the Theological Hall at the Free Church College, Aberdeen, was mainly due to his exertions.

Between the years 1847 an^ 1857 Mr. Thomson’s time was greatly taken up by antiquarian and geological studies ; as also with enquiries into the social condition of the people. In 1859, when the Prince Consort visited Aberdeen to take part in the business of the British Association, of which he was president, Mr. Thomson had the honour of entertaining him at Banchory House. About this time symptoms of failing health began to manifest themselves, and he was thereafter compelled to forego several of the investigations in which he had hitherto taken such an active interest. With diminished strength, however, he pursued his studies, issuing many pamphlets on scientific and antiquarian subjects. He died on 20th May, 1868, aged 70. Under his trust disposition and settlement he bequeathed to the Free Church College in Aberdeen about ,£16,000 in cash, and the valuable library and interesting museum he had collected at Banchory House. The collection included a watch said to have been given by Queen Mary to John Knox at the time when she was anxious to conciliate him. The watch came into the Thomson family through Mr. Thomson’s grandmother.

The arms of the Thomsons are—Argent, a stag’s head, cabossed, gules ; attired or ; on a chief wavy of the second, a lozenge between two spur-rowels of the field. Crest—A crane holding a palm-branch in the beak, all ppr. Mottoes—Over the crest — Cura cedit fatum Under the Arms—Secum cinque3

In 1872 the estate was sold by Mr. Thomson’s Trustees to Mr. John Stewart, comb manufacturer, Aberdeen, for £76,000. The career ot the late Mr. Stewart was a remarkable one, and might be cited among the many examples of what a determined, persevering, and sound-headed Scotchman can accomplish. Born in Perth in 1810, he started the business of combmaking in Edinburgh about 1828, in partnership with a friend of the name of Whitehead. The venture did not succeed ; but, nothing daunted, Stewart removed to Aberdeen, where he started a similar business in Mealmarket Lane, this time in partnership with his brother-in-law, Mr. Joseph Rowell. Combs were then made by hand, but gradually, as the concern increased, it became imperative to introduce machinery. In 1835 the manufactory was removed to larger premises in

Hutcheon Street, where the business grew and flourished till it became the largest combmaking centre in the world. Such handsome annual profits were realized that in 1848 Mr. Rowell retired with an ample fortune. Mr. Stewart, on the other hand, embarked the larger share of his savings in the Great North of Scotland Railway Company. This interest induced him to become also a shareholder and director of the Aberdeen and London Steam Navigation Company, with the avowed object of making Aberdeen the great competitive point for the traffic of the north-east of Scotland, and compelling the southern railways to compete with the Steam Company for such traffic, and thus to modify their rates. To do this effectually he laid down the policy that the fine old paddle passenger boats should be ultimately superseded by screw steamers capable of working at a saving of coal, that the sailings should be bi-weekly instead of weekly, and that the tariff rates and fares should be substantially reduced. The older directors and shareholders, however, dreaded the effect of such drastic changes, and, a bitter opposition springing up against him, Mr. Stewart started three rival screw steamers—the Stanley, Kangaroo, and Gambia— under the title of “The Northern Steam Company.” After a tough contest an amalgamation of both companies took place, under which Mr. Stewart became chairman, and his policy may be fairly called the foundation of the present active and prosperous state of the concern. The fight had, however, cost him upwards of ,£46,000, and as the Highland Railway from Perth to Inverness, which was opened shortly afterwards, got a contract for the carrying of the greater portion of the mails to the north, which had previously been carried by the Great North Railway, a panic set in amongst the shareholders of the latter, and its stock was depreciated to such an extent that Mr. Stewart was obliged to relinquish everything, including his estate of Craigiebuckler. His firm of S. R. Stewart & Co., however, weathered this crisis, and after a few years of successful trading, he was enabled in 1872 to purchase the estate of Banchory, as before mentioned. He died on 25th January, 1887, and was interred in the Free Church burying-ground, Banchory-Devenick. His wife, Mary Irvine, died at Craigiebuckler 24 years previously.

He was succeeded by his eldest son, David, who was educated at the University of Aberdeen, of which he is a graduate. He has for several years been at the head of the combworks in Aberdeen. He is a very active business man, and has filled many public offices. After acting as president of the Aberdeen Chamber of Commerce, he was elected Dean of Guild. A few years ago he was appointed Judge at the Horners’Exhibition held at the Mansion House, London, and at the same time he was elected a Liveryman of the City of London. He married Margaret Dyce, eldest daughter of Principal Brown, and has issue four sons—David Brown Douglas, William Dyce, George Irvine, and Charles—and five daughters—

Mary, Alexandra Catherine Dyce, Julia Charlotte, Jessie, and Margaret Isabel. Mary is married to Mr. Charles Niven, professor of natural philosophy in the University of Aberdeen, who was senior wrangler of his year, and has since been elected a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge.


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