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History of the Parish of Banchory-Devenick
Estate of Ardoe


This estate, which extends to about one thousand acres, forms the north western boundary and corner of the Kincardineshire portion of the parish. Its early proprietary history is intermingled with that of the Banchory lands, gifted in 1244 by Alexander II. to the abbot and convent of Aberbrothock, as for many years it was owned by the proprietors of Banchory. The earliest owners of whom record exists appear to be the Meldrums of Fyvie, who, as superiors, kept up their connection with the estate for a long period. William Meldrum of Fyvie granted precept of the lands of Ardoe to his son, George, in 1502 ; and in 1509 David Murray was served heir to his father, Andrew Murray, in the lands of “ Ardoche and fishings, one net of the Fords on Dee, and an annual rent of fourty-four shillings scots from the lands of Cortycrome, in the Barony of Slains, acknowledging that the lord of Fyvie was superior of the holding so far as it affected Ardoe.

On 2nd May, 1511, William Murray was served heir to David, his father, in the same lands, fishings, and feu-duty ; and the jury at the same time adjudged a reasonable terce from them to Agnes Strathachin, the widow of David Murray.

In 1582 David Mar, one of the baillies of Aberdeen, and several times its representative in Parliament, obtained a charter of confirmation of these lands from George Meldrum of Fyvie, to himself and his son, Thomas Mar, but they do not appear to have taken sasine till 1586, and that only for the purpose of enabling them to sell the lands. On the 18th May of the same year, Meldrum issued another charter of confirmation, in his capacity of superior or over lord, in favour of George Garden of Banchory. Two years later Garden granted a charter of the “ Sunny half of Ardoe” in favour of Patrick Cheyne, burgess of Aberdeen, and proprietor of Danestown. The latter was married to Katherine Fraser, and their son, Thomas Cheyne, afterwards succeeded to the estate.

In the same year, viz., 1588, Thomas Merser in Old Aberdeen, and Barbara Blinshell, his spouse, secured a charter of the “Shady half” of Ardoe, which was confirmed under the Great Seal of James VI. of date 24th March, 1598. George Merser, their son, who married Elizabeth or Eliza Garden, subsequently succeeded.

Shortly thereafter, John Fraser of Ferryhill, fourth son of Thomas Fraser of Durris, designed in his deed of infeftment as “of Tilbunes,” and Ann Lorimer, his spouse, acquired both the sunny and shady halves, but in 1619 sold them to James Mowat, advocate in Aberdeen.

In 1631 the famous Dr. William Guild purchased from the Mowats, who were possessed of extensive house property in Aberdeen, the ancient convent of the Trinity Friars, and gifted it to the trades as an hospital for the reception of decayed workmen. King William the Lion, tradition asserts, was the founder of the convent, and it is believed that it was occasionally the place of his Majesty’s residence. The purchase price on this occasion was 40 shillings of annual feu-duty, and 40 pennies scots yearly during the lifetime of Thomas, one of James Mowat’s sons. The latter must have died shortly afterwards, as his son James had a Birth-brieve granted him in 1641, in which he is described as “ son to the late James Mowat of Ardoe.” His remains were interred in Saint Nicholas Churchyard, Aberdeen, where a monument was erected to his memory. The following abridged translation is taken from it:—

“Whatever was of James Mowat of Airdo, a man singular both in private and publick lies here; if you enquire what it is look up to Heaven.”

In 1639 Sir Gilbert Menzies of Pitfodels acquired the whole lands, but in 1670 his son, William, sold them to James Gordon, designed as “Rector of Banchory-Devenick,” and Elizabeth Forbes, his spouse. Gordon died in December, 1714; and his great grandson, “John Gordon, son of Dr. William Gordon, physician in Montrose, son of James Gordon, episcopal minister at Montrose, eldest son of James Gordon, rector at Banchory-Devenick, as heir to the said James Gordon, his greatgrandfather, in the lands of Ardoe,” by disposition dated 10th November, 1747, sold the lands to John Fordyce, merchant in Huntly, for .21,400 scots.

Fordyce had previously acted as a gunner’s mate on Commodore Anson’s ship “Centurion,” in its voyage round the world. Having survived repeated attacks of scurvy, which carried off nearly three-fourths of the ship’s crew, he returned to Britain on the 15th June, 1744, and, according to the late Dr. Paul, travelled from London to Aberdeen on horseback with all his prize money in specie in his saddle bag.f He married a daughter of Irvine of Cults, a niece of John Douglas of Tilwhilly and Inch-marlo, and died 4th June, 1794.J During his residence on the estate he did much to ameliorate the condition of his tenantry and their holdings, and the poor of the parish were also benefited through his liberality. He was succeeded by his only daughter, Agness, who never married, but lived a quiet retired life, making herself, however, like her father, popular with the tenants through her kindly interest in them. She died 20th November, 1834, in the 76th year of her age, and was buried in the parish church of Banchory-Devenick. By her last will and testament she bequeathed 100 for behoof of the poor of the parish. Andrew Watson, advocate in Aberdeen, son of the Reverend Andrew Watson, minister of the parish of Tarland and Migvie from 1799 to 1845, was left the estate by Miss Fordyce, for whom he had, for a short time before her death, acted as law agent. He assumed the name of Fordyce, but did not live long to enjoy the handsome bequest, for he died on 4th April, 1837, in the 26th year of his age.

In 1839 his representatives sold the estate to Mr. Alexander Ogston, soap manufacturer, Aberdeen. In 1853 Mr. Ogston sold the “Shady half of Ardoe,” now known by the name of Cotbank, to the Reverend James Gillan, D.D., minister of the parish of Alford. The latter never resided on the lands, but simply acquired them as an investment. Mr. Ogston, on 18th December, 1834, married Elliot Lawrance, daughter of Mr. James Lawrance, manufacturer, Aberdeen, by whom he had issue two sons, Alexander Milne, and James, and four daughters, Elliot, Helen, Sarah, and Amelia. He died on nth December, 1869, survived by his wife, who died 1st August, 1886. Their remains are interred in the churchyard of Banchory-Devenick.

Mr. Alexander Milne Ogston purchased the estate from the trustees of his father in 1870, and three years later acquired the lands of Cotbank from the Reverend James Gillan, minister of Alford, whose father had bought them twenty years previously. On 16th April, 1872,

Mr. Ogston married Katherine Ann Mitchell Rennie, daughter of Mr. Charles Moray Hill Rennie, Aberdeen, by whom he has issue three sons, Alexander Gordon, Charles, and James Norman, and two daughters, Katherine Emily, and Elliot Mabel. In 1877-78 he erected a large and massive mansion house in the Scottish baronial style of architecture. The house is decorated and furnished throughout in an elaborate style, and in these respects has few equals in the North. Mr. Ogston some time ago claimed to be the lineal descendant of the Ogstons of that Ilk,* and, having satisfied the Lyon-King on the point, had his claim sustained. He is therefore entitled to bear the primitive arms of

*Ogston was the name of a parish in Morayshire which, along with Kinnedar, went, shortly after the Restoration, to form the present parish of Drainie. The Ogston family formerly owned extensive lands in the north. “ In 1473 (26th October) Alexander Ogstoun of that ilk, had a licence under the privy seal of James III. to sell his lands of Ogstoun in the Lordship of Moray; reserving the orchard and chief chymmis thereof: and he accordingly, with consent of John Ogstoun his son and apparent heir, sold the lands of Ogstoun to James of Innes of that ilk, and Margaret of Culan, his spouse, under reversion and with regress on payment of 300 merks on the high altar of the Parish Kirk of Elgin, after 40 days warning at the chymmis of Innes—20 December 1473. James Innes and his wife had seisin of Ogstoun, which was never redeemed, and either by them, or in the next generation, the Plewlands were added to it. Out of these lands and others, bought about 1630-40, from the Inneses of Drainie; and Ettles, &c., from Innes of Pethnak, Sir Robert Gordon, Tutor of Sutherland, formed his estate of Gordons-town.”—Familie of Innes, p. 80, 81. Gazeteer of Scotland, &c.

that ancient family, which are :—Argent, three maseles sable, on a chief of the second tzao lions passant of the first, armed and langued gules.—Patent. In 1880 Mr. Ogston purchased the estate of Heathcot, which lies contiguous to Ardoe, although in the adjoining parish of Maryculter. He takes a lively interest in county matters, having for many years occupied the position of chairman of the Lower Deeside District Road Trustees, and of the School Board of the parish. He is on the board of several of the leading public companies in Aberdeen, where he is otherwise largely engaged in business. By reclaiming waste land, forming plantations, and erecting commodious and substantial farm steadings, he has done much to beautify the appearance of his estate. Nor, with all these improvements, have the tenantry been forgotten, for he has ever shown himself ready to encourage and deal liberally with the diligent and industrious.


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