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History of the Parish of Banchory-Devenick
Estate of Pitfodels


Any history of the estate of Pitfodels is also a history of the Roman Catholic family of Menzies, once so important in local annals, but now utterly extinct. They held the property for about four hundred years; and its history before their advent is brief, and comparatively unimportant. It was their connection with it that will make it remembered long after the account of its other proprietors shall be forgotten.

The lands were at first divided into three parts— Easter, Wester, and Middle Pitfodels, and it was not till the sixteenth century that they all became joined under one proprietorship.

Early in the fourteenth century, the property, like many other estates, was in the hands of a cadet of the powerful family of Moray,—frequently Murray—who had attained prominence under David I. At that date the lands of Pitfodels embraced the whole of Banchory-Devenick north of the Dee, and east of the Den of Cults. The family of Murray lost their hold of the property in 1389, when Alexander of Murray, then designed as “ Lord of Culbyne,” granted a deed of wadset in favour of his kinsman, “William Rede,” of the lands of “Wester Badfothellis” with the fishings, for 56 13s. 4d. sterling. In the following year sasine was granted in favour of Reid who thus became the owner of Wester Pitfodels.

The next step in the history of the property brings the Menzies into the field. The family—a branch of a stock located in Athol—had long been well known in Aberdeen. In 1424 David Menzies, a burgess—as has already been noticed—was one of the hostages to England for the payment of .40,000, on the release of James I. Their importance evidently had grown to the extent of their acquiring land, and in 1430 a city burgess, Gilbert Menzies, a Christian name that remained in the family for centuries, appears on the scene. A precept was then granted to infeft him in the lands of “ Wester Badfothel ” and half of “Middle Badfothel.” He was a younger son of Sir Robert Menzies of Weems, and he employed his patrimony chiefly in securing mortgages over estates in the counties of Aberdeen and Kincardine. He was the first of his family to win the blue ribbonship of the city, the rank of provost, but he was not the last. For over two hundred years—1426-1634—the family held that honour— with “great applause,” quoth Parson Gordon—no less than twenty-eight separate times. In 1436 Gilbert was elected to represent the burgh in Parliament at Edinburgh, scots being allowed him for expenses. He was married to Marjory Liddell, probably a member of another well known Aberdeen family of the period. The date of his death is a puzzling point, for though a monument to the memory of him and his wife, which was erected in St. Nicholas Churchyard, Aberdeen—it disappeared in the middle of last century—is known to have borne the date 1439, yet his name is to be met with after that time. It is believed that the date should have been 1459, as he was undoubtedly alive during that year. A pair of stone effigies, now lying on the window sill of the West Church, Aberdeen, represent the couple. When the church became ruinous in 1730, the effigies were removed for safety to the churchyard of Maryculter, where they lay till quite recently. It was he who, in 1448, having previously secured infeftment, granted a premonition to Andrew Reid for the redemption of the lands of “ Wester Badfothellis,” which had been mortgaged by Alexander of Murray to Reid’s grandfather, William, for one hundred merks. Two years later Menzies was granted a charter by Stephen of Balrony, of a Templar land in the barony of “Badfothal,” paying therefor four shillings yearly to the brethren of the house of St. John of Jerusalem at Torphichen. The knights of this Order had a foundation near where Arnlee now stands, and till within the last sixty years a croft which stood there went by the name of The Temple.*

*The Order of the Knights of St. John superseded that of the Knights Templars, and inherited the greater part of the extensive property of that rival Order. They had their Scotch headquarters at Torphichen, now a small village in Linlithgow-shire, but then a place of great importance. Keith says that Sir James Sandilands, the last preceptor, at the Reformation resigned all the lands of the Order in Scotland into Queen Mary’s hands, and she feued them out again to Sir James for 10,000 crowns, and the yearly annuity of 500 merks. She also erected all the lands into a temporal lordship, in favour of him and his heirs, by a charter under the great seal, dated 24th January, 1563.

In 1457 Andrew Reid, before mentioned, granted a precept to infeft Andrew Menzies in the half of “ Middle Badfothalis,” given in exchange for the lands of “Wester Badfothalis.” Thirteen years later, James III. confirmed to Alexander Menzies the lands of Middleton of Pitfodels, together with the lands of Potartown and Orchardfelde.

In 1488 Alexander Reid, who was then the owner of the greater portion of Pitfodels, got confirmation from James III, of a charter granted by him in favour of Mariot Cullane, his wife, in liferent, of the lands of “Wester Pitfodellis.” James IV. confirmed to Reid and his second wife, Margaret Crawford, the lands of Eastertown and Westertown of Pitfodels, with the fishings in the water of Dee. Reid, who was provost of Aberdeen for the years 1492-3 was held in such high estimation by the Town Council and citizens generally, that in 1504 his portrait was ordered to be executed and hung in the session-house of Aberdeen. It remained there till 28th June, 1640, when a very curious incident occurred. “The session wnderstanding

Thereafter, Sir James disponed all the Temple lands lying in the shires of Edinburgh, Linlithgow, Stirling, Kincardine, and Aberdeen, in favour of James Tennent of Lynhouse, and Robert Williamson, writer in Edinburgh, for 10,000 merks, reserving to himself out of the disposition the lands of Torphichen, Liston, Dennie, Thankerton, Balintrodoch, and Maryculter, as also his right to the Churches of Torphichen, Temple, Inchmachan, Maryculter, Aboyne, Tulloch, and Kilbartha, with the teinds belonging to them.

that some capitanes and gentillmen of the regiment of sojours lying in this town, had tein some offence at the portrat as smelling somequhat of poprie, and standing aboue the session hous door, ffor removeing of the quhilk offence, ordaines the said portrat to be tein down and not to be sett wp again.”*

Arms of Provost Reid of Pitfodels.

Reid died on 27th May, 1506, and was succeeded by his wife and only daughter, Marion, the latter of whom he had made his heiress. Three of his descendants held in turn the pastorate of Banchory-Ternan after the Reformation. With that foresight characteristic of the Roman Catholic, the widow set aside part of her income to the service of the Church, and for the safety of her husband’s soul and that of her own after death, granting, in 1508, “to the Curate and Chaplains of Aberdeen, an annuity of 1 for celebrating an obit, annually, on their anniversaries at the altar of Saint Christopher, on the first Sunday immediately subsequent to the first day of the month of March, with the Placebo and the Dirige on the Saturday preceding; a solemn mass on Sunday, and a commemoration for thirty days by the Curate and Chaplains at the weekly masses. The procurator for the time was required on the said Saturday to send through the town a crier with a hand-bell, to invite all and sundry to prayers for the souls of the above named persons; to place a table on the grave stone, which was to be covered with a black cloth, and furnished with wax lights; and the sacristan of the Church was ordered thrice to toll the bells at this part of the service, and thrice while a mass de requiem was chanted. The Curate and Chaplains were likewise required to chant and celebrate another solemn mass with other thirty days’ commemorative masses, after the death of the granter, at the altar near which she should happen to be interred.”1

Alexander Menzies died without issue, and his brother, David, was served heir to him in 1506, while his widow, Elizabeth Leslie, had her terce adjudged to her out of the same lands. David was twice married, first to Margaret Fotheringham, daughter of Thomas Fotheringham of Powrie, by whom he had a son, Gilbert; and secondly to Katherine Wricht, who survived him.

Gilbert was served heir to his father on 3rd October, 1508, his stepmother being found entitled to a terce of the lands. He was known by the sobriquet of Banison Gib, and was married to Marjorie Chalmers, daughter of the laird of Murtle, by whom he had several children. Besides being proprietor of Findon, he in July, 1535, acquired from the Knights Templars of Maryculter the lands now known as Blairs. He was provost of Aberdeen for twenty-four years between 1505 and 1536; and was the first to break through the municipal statute that the chief magistrate should be elected for one year only. In 1508 he contributed three barrels of salmon towards the “theiking and decoring” of the kirk of Aberdeen. Ten years later he was appointed to go to the King and Council, and raise Law-burrows against the Lord Forbes, on account of the great oppression and cruel spoil done to the burgh in its fishing and freedom lands. No public service, however, could have been more congenial to his taste than that deputed to him in 1525 by the king, when as sheriffs he and Sir John Rutherford—who was a great favourite at court2—were ordered to search for those who owned the heresies of Luther, or used his books; and that the Act of Parliament thereanent should be published, whereof an extract was sent to all “ foundin holding these heresies, or reading these books.” Provost Gilbert and Baillie

Collison were chosen commissioners to represent the burgh in the first parliament of James V., in 1524. They were allowed 6s. 8d. per day for expenses, and “were furnished with eight horsemen to attend in their train, that they might appear at court with a splendour becoming the representatives of the opulent city of Aberdeen.”* Menzies lived in a house in the city known as Pitfoddels’ Lodgings, which occupied the site now taken up by the Union Bank at the top of Marischal Street, and was the scene of more than one eventful incident in the city’s history. The first of these was the murder, on 7th January, 1527, of Alexander Seton laird of Meldrum, by the master of Forbes, who, eleven years later, was executed for attempting to shoot the King with a culverin, as he passed through Aberdeen to hold a justice ayre. Two years later the house was laid in ruins by an accidental fire, when a large new building of stone, with turrets, was erected on the same site. This house was probably the first stone building in Aberdeen. An edifice of such a character was then considered a mark of the greatest opulence, and it is recorded that in 1545, one of the inhabitants defying Menzies said “ he did not care for all the power of the provost or his stane house.” In 1530 Menzies, along with four of his sons, and certain of the citizens of Aberdeen, was charged before the High Court of Justice with killing a servant of Alexander Forbes, heir-apparent of Brux; but was, with the others, acquitted through its having been satisfactorily proven that the Forbeses were the aggressors.

Up to this time Pitfodels had been divided between the Reids and the Menzies, the former possessing Eastertown and Westertown, while the latter were the proprietors of Middle Pitfodels. It was not until the families became united by marriage that the two portions were joined. This happened on 12th January, 1520-1, when Thomas, the eldest son of Provost Gilbert, married Marion, the only daughter of the deceased Alexander Reid of Eastertown and Westertown. Thus the whole of Pitfodels passed into the Menzies family, and gave them their designation for the next three centuries. Like his father, Thomas took a leading part in the local, and to some extent in the general history of the period. In 1525 he was elected provost of Aberdeen, holding office for forty years, which is the longest period of one provostship on record. His popularity, and that of his family, was such that Parson Gordon afterwards wrote: “ ther [are] not a few of the best of the citizens quho are joynt with that familie by consanguinity and affinitie, and esteemed it ane honor to be so. Nay, and in the yeer 1545, George Gordon, Erie of Huntlie, the most powerfull of any in the north of Scotland, sought to be provost, and wes chosen, not without protestatione against his electione by many, as ane incroachment upon ther liberties; which moved him presentlie to resigne it againe, in favor of Thomas Menzies of Pitfoddells.” He was also Marischal Depute of Scotland in 1538, and for several years after 1543 he was Comptroller of the Royal Household. His father, Banison Gib, died on 27th September, 1543, when Thomas succeeded to the proprietorship of the whole of Pitfodels, by virtue of his marriage already explained. In the following November* he obtained confirmation of a former grant, erecting these lands into a free barony, with the Castlehill of Middleton of Pitfodels as principal messuage. His wife died 20th September, 1551, and she was buried in Collison’s Aisle, Aberdeen, where a well-preserved tombstone still keeps on record their wedded life of nine-and-twenty years.

Arms of Thomas Menzies and Marion Reid, on tombstone in Collison’s Aisle, Aberdeen.

In the following year he entered into a formal contract with Lord Forbes and John Leslie of Balquhane for the amicable settlement of all their feuds and differences, but its terms were not long in being disregarded. In 1557 he signed the treaty of marriage between Queen Mary and the Dauphin of France.3 He himself married for his second wife Elizabeth Forbes, “ Lady Towe,” and in June, 1571, he granted, in life-rent, to Violet Forbes (natural and lawful daughter of Alexander Forbes of Pitsligo, future wife of George Menzies, his grandson, son of Gilbert, his elder son and heir), the lands of Easter Pitfodels, together with the office of bailliary of the same. The charter was confirmed by James VI., under the great seal, 1576.

Some idea of the lawless and disturbed state of the country at this time, and the duties of a sheriff of the period, may be gathered from the following incident, in which the heir of Pitfodels figures as a “sheriff of Inverness.” “In 1573 Alexander, Earl of Sutherland, complained to King James VI. that, although he was desirous to serve the king’s briefs of inquest of the lands in the sheriffdoms of Innerness and Aberdeen, in which his father, Earl John, died vest and seised, he was unable to serve the brief of inquest of the lands in Innerness in the Tolbooth of the burgh, because he could find no inquest of barons and hereditary proprietors within the sheriffdom for that purpose, by reason that many barons and gentlemen of the sheriffdom—such as : Colin Makkanze of Kintaill ; Hugh, Lord Fraser of Lovet ; Lauchlin Makintosche of Dunnauchtane, Robert Munro of Fowlis, with many other families and men of the country—were at deadly feud among themselves. The king, therefore (30th May), with the consent of George, Earl of Huntly, Sheriff Principal of Innerness and Aberdeen, appointed John Leslie of Buchquham ; Gilbert Menzies, apparent of Pitfodellis ; Patrick Menzies, burgess of Aberdeen ; Master Robert Lummisdane of Clova; and Master Patrick Rutherfurde, burgess of Aberdeen, sheriffs of Innerness in that part, to serve the said briefs in the Tolbooth of the Burgh of Aberdeen.”

Seal of Provost Thomas Menzies.
(Pitfodels Charter, 1573.)

Provost Thomas Menzies died about December, 1576, and was survived by his wife, whose death is recorded under date 22nd January, 1584-5: “Elizabetht Forbes, Lade Towe, and spowse to Thomas Menzis of Petfodellis and provvest, departtit.” He had at least two sons—Gilbert, who succeeded him, and James, who qualified for the ministry and was, by James V., presented to the rectory of Dunnet. One daughter, Marjory, married James Gordon of Haddo and Methlick. Another, Katherine, married George Johnston, dean of guild of Aberdeen, who was, in October, 1577, by David Cunningham, first protestant bishop of Aberdeen, inaugurated as one of the elders chosen by the kirk and congregation of the burgh. In December, 1578, their son, Patrick Johnston, died at Aberdeen from the effects of a gun-shot wound recklessly inflicted by Keith, the young laird of Ludquharne, in Buchan. George Johnston himself died in April, 1579, and his widow in May, 1599. Before passing from the history of Provost Thomas Menzies, it is specially interesting to note that, at an early period, he embraced the tenets of the reformed faith. He is named as one of the six deputies appointed by the General Assembly of the Kirk of Scotland, on 28th May, 1561, to meet the Lords of the Secret Council, and to present to them the supplication and articles “ tuitching the suppression of idolatrie”. His immediate successors and relatives continued, for the most part, staunch Roman Catholics, and, as will be seen by a perusal of the following pages, suffered much persecution for their adherence to that religion.

He was succeeded by his eldest son, Gilbert. Born ioth June, 1522, he followed the traditions of his house occupying several positions of importance in the country. In 1576 he was created provost of Aberdeen, continuing in office till Michaelmas, 1588. He married Margaret Keith, daughter of the laird of Troup, by whom he had several children. As already noticed a son, Alexander, was murdered in 1580, by William Forbes of Portlethen and Monymusk, at the Loch of Loirston—the Forbes-Menzies feud of the beginning of the century breaking out afresh. In 1588 Menzies and his brother, Thomas Menzies of Durn, became bound, in “manrent and seruice,” to George, Earl of Huntly, in consideration of which that nobleman granted, in favour of the Menzies’, a “band of protectioune” to “mantein, supplie, and defend them” during all the days of his life. The provost, however, did not long require this protection, for he died within five months of the date of the obligation.

He was succeeded by his son George, before mentioned; who in turn was succeeded by his son Gilbert, commonly called William of the Cup. This laird bought the lands of Gilcomston, in 1597, from Sir John Gordon for 7000 merks Scots. He married Margaret Irvine, daughter of the laird of Drum, by whom he had issue. The deadly feud of the Menzies with the Forbeses of Monymusk was renewed in this laird’s lifetime, necessitating the interposition of the powers of the law.

“On 26 November, 1613, William Forbes, Elder of Monymusk ; Robert, Johnne, and Mr. James Forbes, his thre sones ; Johnne Forbes, callit of Burnegranes ; James Geillis and Johnne Farquhar, domestik seruitouris to Monymusk; and George Raitt, in Coiff, Dilaitit for vsurpation of his Maiesties authoritie, in takin of Williams Duguid, seruitour to George Gairdin ; committit the 24 of July last, and for contravening the Actis of Parliament, in cutting of certane grene growand coirnes, pertening to Gilbert Menzies of Pitfoddellis, grow and vpone his lands. The Justice, wth advyse of my lord Aduocat, continewis this dyet to the thrid day of the Air (of Aberdeen), or sooner, vpone XV. dayis warning ... At same diet Margaret Irwing, Lady Pitfoddellis ; Gilbert Menzies of Pitfoddellis, hir spous, for his entries ; Dauid Knowis, his domestik servand ; Johnne Ramsay his greif, Johnne Philp, Williame Daveny, Williame Dougatt, and Johnne Ramsay, dilaitit of airt and pairt of the contravening of our souerane lordis Actes of Parliament in cutting and distroying of coirnes; committit in the moneth of July lastlypast. This case also continued to the same Air.” Pitcairn, from whose Criminal Trials the extracts of these two cases are taken, says it is obvious that they arose out of the deadly feud which then raged between the families of Monymusk and Pitfodels. No information is afforded as to how the cases ended ; but, as they were withdrawn to “the Air,”—the old Scotch law term for justiciary court—it is probable they were compromised through the intervention of mutual friends. Menzies died about 30th November, 1622, being “bureit in the auld Kirk of Aberdeen.”

The next laird of Pitfodels, Gilbert, son of William of the Cup, is the most distinguished member of the family. With him the prestige of the family came to an end, and the faith which distinguished the family for two centuries found its greatest martyr. Succeeding his father in 1622, he in the following year married Lady Anne Gordon, daughter of the twelfth Earl of Sutherland. “A woman of excellent beautie”—according to Gordon the enthusiastic historian of her house—she was destined to undergo many afflictions. It would require a second Spalding to recount the “ trubles ” of the family ; for Menzies’ royalty spelt ruin.

His “trubles” may be set down as first occurring in January of the momentous year 1639, when he took the Marquis of Huntly into his house. The Marquis, “thinking and taking Merschall still to be on the Kinges syde, as he wes nocht,” had applied to his brother nobleman for lodging, and had been refused. Menzies “kyndlie lent him his hous,”—Pitfodels’ lodgings—and the Marquis “ flitit out of Old Abirdein his haill famelie and goodis and thair took wp houss ”. Spalding details, with Pepys-like minuteness, how twenty-four gentlemen were told off to wait on the Marquis, and how “ thair wes aucht gentilmen appointit to watche his lodging on the night, thair tyme about, and fyre and candill still burning ilk night within the houss.” Pitfodels followed the fortunes of his noble guest with enthusiasm during the next month, and in March they resolved to go to England with sixty other fugitives who were determined not to “ subscrive ” the Covenant. “Vpone the 28th of Marche,” says Spalding in a quainter vein than usual, they “ hoysis wp saill, and to the King go thay, bot,” as he adds, “this flicht did litle good.” None of the fugitives suffered more than Menzies, he having laid himself open to greater suspicion by harbouring Huntly. That nobleman was now in the safe keeping of his young brother Marquis, Montrose, and Menzies had not been absent from the city a single day ere the Earl of Kinghorn, who, to Spalding’s disgust, had the boldness to call himself governor of Aberdeen, got the keys of Pitfodels’ house from Lady Menzies, who had been left behind. A curious incident occurred at this stage, for the lady was delivering up the keys “thair wes ane suddant fray,” writes Spalding, “throw occasioun of ane schot rakleslie lettin go in the same houss, quhair the governour and the ladie, with vtheris, war togidder. None knew quhairfra nor how this schot cam, for all the tryell culd be maid. Aluaies, the ladie, in the tumvlt and preass, loist her pvrss, weill plenishit with gold and ryngis, and culcl not get the same agane.” A few days afterwards an inventory was taken of the “ goodis and geir” in the house, “ alsweill pertening to the laird himself, as that whiche the Marquess left behind him at his removing thairfra; ” after which the keys were restored to the lady.

Not only did the town house of Menzies suffer, but his lands of Pitfodels were also burdened. A few days after these events 500 of Argyle’s men were quartered on the lairds of Drum and Pitfodels, where they “ leivit lustellie vpone the goodis, nolt, scheip, cornes, and victuall, to the gryte hurt and wrack of the countrie people for thair maisteris causs, being grite ante-covenanteris.” These troops—continues Spalding—“ wantit not aboundance of beif, mvttoun, and vther good fair, for littill pay,” in these snug quarters. It was in this year, according to Gordon’s Scots Affairs, that Menzies received the honour of knighthood from the sovereign he served so loyally. But this was all that Charles could do for him. Troubles rained thick upon his faithful subject, who was now nothing short of being a fugitive in his own country. In July, 1640, Marischal actually collected the rents on the Pitfodels estate, and in October following, Menzies, who had returned to Aberdeen, fled with his family to England, to come back again in December forced to sign the Covenant—“ more foolis nor thay went out, but succour or relief of the King.” In fact for some time they were “soundlie wardit and keipit long in waird in Edinburgh and tolbuith thairof.” Menzies got into a further peck of troubles in reviving the old family feud with the Forbeses. In October, 1642, he shot John Forbes of Lesly at the memorable Crabstone. “ Thair wes, vpone both sydis, schot about ellevin pistollis, and none gat skaith bot Lesly. Thair wes sum old roust betuixt thame; for Leslyis father killit Petfoddellis good-schiris brother vnworthellie.”* The wounded gentleman “lay wnder cure quhill Januar, 1643, and then began to walk vpone ane staf feblie, and not soundlie heallit.” The most remarkable bearing of this episode is the fact recorded by Spalding, that it “ brocht in the beiring and weiring of gvnis, quhilk bred mekill sorrow and mischeif in this land.” In December following he fled to France, “feiring the trubles to cum,” accompanied by Madame de Gordon, one of the heroines of Father Blakhal’s tedious panegyric of his services to “Three Noble Ladyes

But the penalties of loyalty told on others than on the knight himself. His wife and a son were drowned in 1648, while on one of their many voyages of flight to France. Two years later another heavy blow fell on the unfortunate laird, when his eldest son, Gilbert, was killed while acting as standard-bearer in Montrose’s army. At the battle of Invercharron, in Ross-shire, 27th April,

1650, the standard bore the picture of the headless corpse of Charles, with the motto—“Judge and revenge my cause It is a matter of history how Montrose’s army was put to rout by Colonel Strachan. When all appeared to be lost, Menzies was urged by Montrose and others to save himself by flight, but he refused, and met his untimely fate on the field. The old ballad laments the gallant youth in well-known lines :—

“Gilbert Menzies of high degree,
By the whom the king’s banner was borne;
For a brave cavalier was he,
But now to glory he is gone.”

The now almost heart-broken laird was again attacked by the church within a few months after this crushing blow. The supercilious kirk-session sent two parsons to confer with the wayward truant. He replied that he “haid nothing to doe with them, and that [he had] given them thair anser long agoe ”. The session waxed indignant, and, “all in ane woice,” they declared him “contumacious for failing to answer their charges of his “apostacie and defectioun from the trew protestant religioun.” He was set down as a perfect pariah in the district, and it was a mark of suspicion for a man even to visit his house, far less to associate with him. His very servants were the subject of inquisition ; but they seemed to ignore the session and their powers. One case is still preserved. “On 14 November, 1653, Alexander Gordoun, servant to Petfoddellis, being sumondit tuys abefoir to compeir befoir the sessioun of Abirdein, to give ane accompt of his professioun, and, being demandit whairfoir he did not compeir sooner, he anserit if it haid not bein to hold in the offiris paines, he had not compeirit now, nor at all ; and being demandit if he wes of our professioun, he anserit he cam not to give ane acquittance, and all the wholl tyme he carried himselffvncivillie and wpbraidinglie, thanking God that the tymes wer not as formerlie.” On 20th March, thereafter, he was “excommunicat, with the greater sentance for his poperie and apostasie from the true Protestant religioune.”

It would take too long to detail all the troubles of this catholic laird. In 1668 matters had reached such a climax, that he dispatched a detailed narrative of the sufferings he had experienced to Sir Alexander Fraser of Durris, who was private physician to Charles II., and a favourite with that monarch. Fraser had promised to lay the document before the King in the expectation that some sort of recompense might be made. The document, still preserved,t is an excellent summary of his trials.

“To informe his Sacred Majestieof the great losses and sufferings the said Sir Gilbert and his familie have sustained wpon the accompt of his constant adhering to the deceased King’s Majestie, of ever blessed memorie, and his present Majesties interests and service, from the beginning of the trubles, by quarterings extraordinarie leavies of horse and foot sequestrationes, plunderings, pey-ment of fynes, and other extraordinarie occasiones; bot most of all by the losse of his lady and children, besyd the hazard of his oune persone severall tymes, both by sea and land.

“First the said Sir Gilbert did engage himself in his Majesties service at the Brigge of Die, in the year 1639, wnder Sir Williame Gunne, generall of his Majesties forces at the tym, having his eldest sone in company with him. And the enemy having prevailed that tym, himselff and his sone wer forced to reteir to the Highlands, wher they lived for a considerable tym in exile, till they wer forced to goe over seas for ther securitie, and shunning the present imminent danger at that tym. Therefter, having stayed abroad for a long tym, the enemy having entered in possessione of his fortune, being advertised here-offby his freinds, forced to returne home for preventing of his totall ruine, and to submitt himselff to the enemies mercie, who did fyne him in fyve hundredth pundis sterling, whilk he reallie peyed ; and having stayed some-whyle in the countrey, the troubles encreasing and being pressed to subscryve the Covenant, he wes againe neces-sitat, and his sone, to goe over seas, wher, having stayed about eightein moneths, he sent for his lady and children, who, going to France, wer totallie robbed and all taken from them, by the Parliament ships and carried to Ostend, so that the said Sir Gilbert was forced to goe in persone, and his eldest sone, thither for their releiff, to his great charges and expenses, and caried them to France, wher, having stayed for a long tym and not having wherupon to maintaine themselfs, he wes constrained to send his lady home for endeavoring to get some supplie furth of his oune fortune for their aliment at home and abroad. Bot his lady finding the wholl countrey in a combustionc, and her husband’s wholl fortune exhausted by quarterings, leavies, mantenance, loan moneys, and other publict burdings above exprest, shee having acquaint him therewith, he and his sone wer againe forced, efter four yeirs absence in France (not being supplied in the least by their oune fortune), to returne home. At which tym finding by just accompt that not only the four yeares rent, during the tyme of his absence, wes exhausted, bot that the tennentis were super expended; in the fyrst he wes forced to discharge the same to them, otherwayes to turne the wholl land useless and unprofitable. Efter his returne, having stayed some sex moneths the troubles encreasing daylie more and more, he wes forced, with his lady, and his eldest sone and ane younger, to returne to France. And he and his eldest sone being embarked in one veshel, and his lady and the younger in another, tho’ he and the elder by God’s providence were preserved, his lady and the younger perished by storme and tempest. And thereafter he and his elder sone, having stayed some six moneths in France, reteired to Holland, wher his present Majestie being for the tym, and having given his com mission to the Marquis of Montrose for Scotland, the said

Marquis, at his aryvall there, did confer that honor upon the said Sir Gilbert, his eldest sone, as to carie his Majesties standard, who wes killed under the samen in the yeir 1649. During all which tym the said Sir Gilbert remained abroad in exile, and till the year 1652, that the Usurper did make himself master of most pairt of the kingdome, and having stayed some two or thrie yeares at home, wes again necessitat with his familie to abandon his countrey, being hardlie pressed to subscryve the Tender disclaiming the King’s laufull authority, and to returne againe to France, efter they had been taken prisoners at Ostend for the space of sex moneths (as is notourlie known to his present Majestie), wes necessitat before his releasment to pay for his ransome and releiff the soum of three thousand gilders, so that by his losses at sea, his imprisonment at Ostend, and his ransome for his releiff, he was prejudged in above ane thousand pounds sterling before the sequestratione of his fortune during the space of two yeires in the Vsurpers tym.

“By all which occasiones above mentioned, the said Sir Gilbert hath been prejudged in the soum of tuelff thousand pounds sterling and upwards, besyd the great losse of his lady and sones, and hath been forced to dispone and sell a considerable part of his fortune, so that the remainder is now brocht verie low and lyk to ruine, wnlesse his Sacred Majestie of his royall bountie provyd some speidie remeid therfor.”

Menzies had a large family. Besides those already mentioned, a son, Paul, joined the Russian army, in which he died a lieutenant-general in 1694; while a daughter, Elizabeth, married Francis Gordon, who succeeded to the estate of Craig on the death of his father about 1650.

During the eighteenth century the estate passed through several members of the Menzies family. In 1680 the proprietor sold the lands of Gilcomston to the town of Aberdeen for 26,000 merks scots. In 1696 the valuation of the whole of Banchory-Devenick on the north side of the Dee was given up at 951, of which 500 was applicable to this estate. The tenants were George Milne and Alexander Milne in Eastertown, Alexander Troup, David Philp, Alexander Philp, and Agnes Davidson in Westertown ; John Lighton and William Troup in Middleton, and Andrew Davidson in Brae. In the memorable ’45 Gilbert Menzies, who was then in possession, raised a detachment of twenty-five men to aid the cause of the Pretender. In 1747 the proprietor was William Menzies. He married Mary Urquhart, daughter of John Urquhart of Meldrum. In 1755 John Menzies married Marion, daughter of William Maxwell of Kirk-connell—one of the oldest families in Galloway.

In 1805 John Menzies, his son, then proprietor, exposed the lands of Pitfodels to sale. No purchaser appearing he subsequently feued off several portions, and the balance was ultimately acquired by a joint-stock company, which feued and sold out the whole in lots. This John, who died in Edinburgh, a widower, in 1843, aged 87 year was the last of his race. Jervise says: “he was a member of the Abbotsford Club, and at his expense the volume entitled Extracta Variis e Cronicis Scocie was printed for the members. He was one of the most accomplished gentlemen of his time, and his purse was open to the poor of all denominations. He died, as was to be expected, a true believer in the religion of his forefathers, of his attachment to which he gave proof by making over by deed, dated in 1827, the mansion-house and lands of Blairs for the establishment of a college for young men designed for the Roman Catholic priesthood.” The bulk of his fortune was also bequeathed for schemes connected with the Catholic Church. His lands of Charlestown in the south side of the parish, which now yield an annual revenue of upwards of ^125, went to the Ursuline Convent of St. Margaret’s, Edinburgh.

Arms of John Menzies.

It is sad to contemplate that of this once famous family not one single representative now remains. Their castle, which so long stood like a gray-haired warder overlooking a wide stretch of country from its ground of vantage, is now completely demolished. Indeed, its site can scarcely be pointed out, although it is known to have been at a spot formerly called Castleheugh, and close to the east side of Norwood Hall.

Where formerly there were crofts and farms, magnificent mansion houses and villas have been erected, each having tastefully laid-out grounds adjoining. The principal are Garthdee, the residence of Mr. Alexander Edmond, advocate, Aberdeen; Norwood Hall, the residence of Mr. James Ogston; Drumgarth, belonging to Mrs. George Jamieson ; Inchgarth, the residence of Captain George Skene Taylor, R.N.; Southfield, the residence of Mr. T. A. W. A. Youngson; Morkeu, the residence of Mr. Alexander Forbes; Craigton, the residence of Mr. William Knox; Woodlands, the residence of Mr. Robert Collie; Woodbank, the residence of Mr. Alexander Davidson, shipowner, Aberdeen ; Balnagarth, the residence of Mr. George Collie, advocate, Aberdeen; and Viewbank, the residence of Mr. James Collie, advocate, Aberdeen.


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