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The Blackhalls of that Ilk and Barra
Chapter XII. — Later Descendants of the Barra Blackhalls of that Ilk


THE history of the Blackhalls of that Ilk and Barra is interesting, as an example of the imprudent methods of the later Stuarts, who were, doubtless, aided by the active assent of courtiers whose own interests were not at the moment jeopardised by measures which affected the prosperity of others than themselves.

That the natural development of these methods and their application in the taxation and general coercion of the enlarged kingdom after the Union, ultimately led to the undoing of the Stuart dynasty, is a detail which chiefly interests the student of history as evidence of the awakening, inconvenient for that dynasty, of a Nemesis so long somnolent, that it appears to have been regarded as too torpid to be roused by any degree of privileged arrogance. But, an fo?id, man is one and free, and, however tardily in some cases, tends to readjust a disordered balance of right by claiming due consideration for the individual, when these principles are assailed either by royal, imperial or democratic transgressors.

The Blackhalls, as one among other families who have suffered from the arbitrary policy of their rulers, enlist our sympathy, because such a feeling is naturally evoked when attention is specially directed to any act of flagrant injustice. An account, therefore, of their origin, development and fate, may be considered to possess a certain general interest, at least for those connected with that part of the country in which, for a considerable and from an early period, they had a recognised place.

The writer had, however, no intention of dealing genealogically in any detail, with their later descendants, but, it has been suggested to him, by one whose opinion carries weight with members of the New Spalding Club, that this book would be more complete were a chapter added dealing with this matter, of interest only to few. Hence these lines.

It will be remembered that shortly before his death without issue (p. 81), John Blackhall of that Ilk, the last in the direct male line of the Barra family, and likewise the last of the Hereditary Coroners and Foresters of the Garioch, gave a charter of the remnant of his property to his eldest sister, Margaret, and her husband, Patrick Forbes (p. 80).

We have learned also that only one of Margaret Blackhall’s sons, the Rev. John Forbes of Kincardine O’Neil, left progeny—an only daughter Nicola, who married John Forbes of Kincardine (p. 85).

To this couple five children—three sons and two daughters—were born, according to the Register of Births of the Parish of Kincardine O’Neil, namely:—

1. Barbara, b. 1709.
2. Margaret, b. October, 1710.
3. John, b. July, 1712.
4. Harie (Harry), b. November, 1713.
5. William, b. January, 1716.

Of these children, according to notes in the handwriting of a descendant, Sir Alexander Morison of Bankhead, Midlothian, and now in the possession of the writer, John and Harry died in infancy ; William was “drowned going to London”; Barbara died unmarried in Aberdeen; and Margaret alone married.

MARGARET, the daughter of Nicola Forbes of Kincardine and great-grand-daughter of Margaret Blackhall of Blackhall, thus became by biological succession the representative of the Barra Blackhalls of that Ilk, who were twice confiscated by James VI. and then “reduced” by the Earl of Mar, as has been related. She married George, son of William Herdman, Chambferlain to the last and Jacobite Earl Marischal, and had issue an only daughter—

Mary, born, according to the Register of Births in the Parish of Dunnotar, in 1740. On July 28th in that year, her grandfather, John Forbes of Kincardine, was still alive, and in possession of his estate, and attested her baptism. Her parents and immediate relatives appear to have died while she was still young, and she thus came under the care of her mother’s relative, Francis Garden (of Troup), later Lord Gardenstone, a man of ability and warmth of heart, albeit somewhat eccentric, to whom she owed much of her happier fortune in life. She married, on November 24th, 1763, Andrew Murison of Anchorfield, near Edinburgh, Writer in that City, who received his legal training in the service of Lord Gardenstone.

Andrew Murison’s father spelt his name indifferently Moorison, Mu'rison and Murison, and when his son, Andrew, was baptised on February 4th, 1730, his name appears as Murison in the Register of Births of the Parish of Gamrie in Banffshire. The form of the name first used by him was Moorison. John Moorison was tenant of the Mains of Troup on the Garden estate of that name.

Andrew Murison acquired Anchorfield by purchase in 1774, retained the spelling of his name used in the baptismal register, and matriculated arms in the Lyon Oftice in 1791 as such.-J- lie, however, still further varied the patronymic orthography by causing his children to use the name of Morison.

He and his wife had five children—four sons and one daughter—

1. Francis Morison, born April 8th, 1765. He graduated as Doctor of Medicine at the University of Edinburgh in 1787, and dedicated his Graduation Thesis to Francis Garden, Lord Gardenstone, after whom he had been named, and who took a warm interest in his career, in the following words of quasi-filial affection: “ Cui pauci sunt similes, mei Patri quasi alteri, affini vero et consanguineo.” He appears to have been an Honorary Member and President of the Physical Society in Edinburgh. He died early, and unmarried, on December 30th, 1795, from typhus fever, caught in the exercise of his profession, a mode of death

There is an Act of the Edinburgh Town Council, of date April 5th, 1775, and signed “Jno. Dundas," which grants “Andrew Murison, Writer in Edinburgh,” a strip of ground on the coast line near Anchorfield, together with permission to use as much rock and giavel from the corresponding portion of the seashore as he required, to complete a bulwark he was building, to safeguard his own proper'y, and also a public highway, from the encroachment of the .sea. Anchorfield remained in (he possession of his family until 1897, and the site of the old house is now occupied by blocks of dwellings which retain the same name not less worthy, I trust, of being mentioned, than traumatic demise on the battlefield, which rarely fails to be chronicled.

2. JOHN Morison, born April 22nd, 1766. He was admitted a member of the Society of Writers to the Signet in Edinburgh, and was, in his day, a well-known and prosperous lawyer in that city. He purchased the estate of Hetland in Dumfriesshire, where he died on May 15th, 1837. He married Jean, daughter of Robert Farquhar of Newhall, Kincardineshire, and grand-daughter of James Muirison or Morisonf of Elsick and Disblair, Aberdeenshire, one of whose sons, Dr. Thomas Morison of Elsick and Disblair, first drew attention to the medical value of the waters of Strathpeffer. John Morison of Hetland left issue, three daughters—

(1.) Mary Morison, who married the Rev. James Buchanan, D.D., Professor of Theology in the New College, Edinburgh, and succeeded to Hetland. She left issue, a daughter—

Jean Morison Buchanan, who married first, Lieut-Colonel William Rose Campbell of Ballochyle, Argyllshire, and has issue, a son and daughter; and, secondly, Hugh Miller of the Geological Survey, a son of the well-known geologist and writer of that name, and has issue, a son, by this marriage.

Mrs. Miller Morison is now in possession of Hetland.

(2.) Amelia Grant Morison, who succeeded to Muckle Carse, Dumfries-shire, another of her father’s properties, and died unmarried.

(3.) Agnes Morison, who married her cousin, Farquhar McCrae, M.D., Surgeon in the Enniskilling Dragoons, and left issue.

3. Andrew Morison, born November 10th, 1772. He was. drowned when a youth, at sea, in 1786. He was buried in the Churchyard of the Parish of St. Cuthbert’s, Edinburgh, where his father and some other members of his family are also interred.

His name in the Register of Births of Aberdeen appears as Muirison on April 25th, 1708.

Alexander Morison, born May 1st, 1779. lie graduated Doctor of Medicine at the University of Edinburgh in 1799; became a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh in 1801; was President of that College in 1827; and was elected a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London in 1841. He was Physician to the Duke of York, Prince Leopold, later King of the Belgians, and to the Princess Charlotte of Wales. In 1838 he received the honour of Knighthood.

Sir Alexander Morison was a pioneer in this country in the special study of Mental Diseases, and was for fifty years Visiting Physician to Bethleni Hospital, and physician also to some other similar institutions, at a time when the medical officers of some such hospitals, like those attached to general hospitals to-day, were “visiting physicians,” not “resident superintendents,” a system for which a good deal may be said even now, in the opinion of some.

He was prominently associated with the philanthropic movement in favour of the more humane treatment of lunatics, and gave a moiety of his landed property in 1864 to found a Lectureship on Mental Diseases in the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh, and to reward meritorious attendants upon the insane.

In early life he purchased the estate of Bankhead in the parish of Currie, Midlothian (Reg. of Sasines for Edinburgh, 1806), but disposed of the greater portion of it during his lifetime. He died on March 14th, 1866, and was buried in the Churchyard of the Parish of Currie.

In 1799, he married Mary, daughter of Alexander Cushnie of Aberdeen and of Windsor Castle Farm, Jamaica, who died in 1846. In 1851, he married Grace, daughter of James Young, Hurstmonceaux, Sussex, and sister of Colonel Keith Young, C.B. She left no issue.

By his first wife, Sir Alexander Morison had a large family, the greater number of whom died young or unmarried. Two sons survived to manhood.

(1) Alexander Cusiinie Morison, born February 13th, 1813. He became a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons in England, and entered the Military Service of the Honorable East India Company. He died on February 5th, 1861, on his return from India invalided, at Anchorfield Cottage, a small house built for occasional use by the family for seabathing, when the larger house at Anchorfield had become uninhabitable by them from changes in the neighbourhood.1 He married, in 1849, Margaret Gordon, daughter of John Maclellan of Benfield House, Wigtown, N.B., and grand-daughter of John Gordon of Lochdougan, Kirkcudbrightshire, and left issue—

i. Alexander Morison, the writer of these pages.
ii. Basil Gordon Morison, also a Doctor of Medicine of the University of Edinburgh, and also a physician in London.
iii. Mary Morison.

(2.) Thomas Coutts Morison, born 1823. He was a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons in England; served as a surgeon in the Turkish Contingent during the Crimean War; received the ordinary Turkish Decoration; and died unmarried in Australia on March 24th, 1863.

Four of Sir Alexander Morison’s daughters married—

(3.) SOMERVILLE, born 1809. She married Barron Grahame of Morphie, Kincardineshire, and of Ravelrig, Midlothian, and left issue.

(4.) Jane, born 1813. She married John, son of the Rev. John Summers, D.D., of Mid Calder, West Lothian, and left issue.

(5.) Sarah, born 1819. She married Charles Richard Nicoll, M.D., Surgeon in the Grenadier Guards, and left issue.

(6.) FRANCES, born 1825. She married Edward Hutton, and died without issue.

MARGARET Morison, the only daughter of Andrew Murison of Anchorfield, was born on February 28th, 1770. She married William Gordon McCrae. In 1840, she died in Australia, whither some of her family had emigrated. She left issue, three sons and four daughters—

(1.) Alexander; a Captain in the Army, who married, and had issue.

(2.) Andrew Murison ; Writer to the Signet; a Magistrate in Australia, who married, and had issue.

(3.) Farquhar ; M.D., Enniskilling Dragoons, who married, and had issue.

(4.) Mary ; married Cobham, M.D., and had issue.

(5.) THOMASINE ; married the Honourable George Cole, of Melbourne, and had issue.

(6.) Agnes ; married William Bruce of Symbister, N.B., and had issue.

(7.) Margaret ; married Thomas, M.D., and had issue.


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