Eminent Men, &c.—Drummond of
Newton—George Drummond—May Drummond—Blair of Ardblair — Mercer of Meikleour—Admirable
Crichton—Thomas Graham (Lord Lynedoeh)—Rattray of Rattray and Craighall—Grimond
of Lornty—Professor Adams—Rev. John Baxter—Macpherson of Blairgowrie—Allan
Macpherson—Dr James Neilson—Alexander Robertson—William Geddes—David C.
Robb— John Bridie—Dr Robt. Lunan—Thomas S. Bisset—John Panton, &c.
Drummond of Newton.
THE family of Drummond of
Newton is undoubtedly of great antiquity, but the race is now extinct in the
district, their descendants being known by the name of Drummond of Blair
Drummond. The family is traditionally traced to a Hungarian nobleman, who
fled to Scotland in 1068, with Edgar Atheling, to avoid the hostility uf
William the Conqueror.
Sir William Drummond was
knighted by James II., and died 1455. George Drummond and his son William
were murdered in 1554 at the Paroclie Kirke of Blair (see page 37). In 1634
George Drummond received charter from King Charles I. erecting Blairgowrie
into a Burgh of Barony. A special lustre attaches to
Who was born at Newton
Castle, 27th June, 1687. Receiving his education at Edinburgh, he was
requested by the Committee of the Scottish Parliament in 1705 to examine and
settle the national accounts preparatory to the legislative Union of the two
kingdoms. Iu 1707 he was appointed Accountant-General of Excise. He fought
at Sheriffmuir in 1715, and was the same year elected to a seat on the Board
of Excise. In 1717 he was appointed one of the Commissioners of the Board of
Customs, and elected Treasurer of the City of Edinburgh. From 1722-23 he was
Dean of Guild, and in 1725 he attained to the dignity of Lord Provost. He
was named one of the Commissioners and Trustees for improving the Fisheries
and Manufactories of Scotland in 1727, and one of the Commissioners of
Excise in 1737. He was one of the chief promoters of the Royal Infirmary of
Edinburgh, and laid the foundation-stone in 1738,
He took part in the ’45,
joining the Royal forces under Sir John Cope, and was present at the battle
of Preston-pans. In 1752 he was appointed one of the Committee for the
improvement of the City of Edinburgh. In 1753 he was Grand .Master of the
Freemasons in Scotland, and laid the foundation-stone of the Royal Exchange.
In 1746 he was elected a second time Lord Provost, a third time in 1750, a
fourth time in 1754, a fifth time in 1758, and a sixth time in 17C3, in
which year he laid the foundation-stone of the North Bridge. He died 1760,
and was interred in Canongate Churchyard, where a monument has been erected
to his memory. The inscription is as follows :—
To the memory of George
One of the Honourable
Commissioners of His Majesty's revenues of Customs and Excise in Scotland
Six times Lord Provost of the
City of Edinburgh, who died the 4th day of December, 1765, aged 79 years.
This monument was erected by
Archibald Drummond of Rudgeway, Esq., his eldest son, 1797.
This energetic individual Ğas
most strenuous in his support of religion and literature; was a member of
the “Select Society,” which contained among its members all the illustrious
Scotsmen of the age.
To him the University of
Edinburgh was indebted for the institution of five Professorships, viz.
Chemistry, Theory of Physic, Practice of Physic, Midwifery, and Rhetoric and
Belles Lettres. A few years after his death, the Managers of the Royal
Infirmary placed a bust of Drummond by Nollekens in the hall of the
building, with the following inscription written by his friend Dr Robertson,
the historian:—“ George Drummond, to whom this country is indebted for all
the benefits which it derives from the Royal Infirmary.”
During Provost Drummond’s
life, and especially when he was engaged in the preliminaries of founding
and funding the Royal Infirmary, he was largely assisted by an eccentric
sister—May Drummond—who adopted the tenets of Quakerism, and occasionally
made tours through the kingdom, preaching to the people, who flocked in
great multitudes to hear her, and so noted did her addresses become that
Queen Caroline at length condescended to listen to one. In the “ Scots
Magazine ” of June, 1773, is a poem written 011 a picture in which May
Drummond of Newton was represented in the character of Winter—
Full justly hath the artist
inter’s guise thy furrowed brow,
And rightly raised thy feeble hand
Above the elemental glow.
I gaze upon that well-known
But, ah! beneath December’s frost
Lies buried all its vernal grace.
And every trait of May is lost.
Not merely on thy trembling
Thy wrinkled cheek and deafened ear,
Hut on thy fortunes and thy fame
Relentless Winter frowns severe.
Ah ! \\ here is now the
That once with fond attention hung
On every truth divine that flowed
Improved from thy persuasive tongue?
’Tis gone!—it seeks a
different road ;
Life’s social joys to thee are o’er ;
Untrod the path to that abode
Where hapless Penury keeps the door.
Drummond! thine audience yet
Recall the young, the gay, the vain;
And e’er thy tottering fabric fall,
Sound forth the deeply moral strain.
For never, sure, could hard or
Howe’er inspired, more clearly show
That all upon this transient stage
Is folly, vanity, or woe.
Bid them at once be warned and
Ah, no!—suppress the ungrateful tale—
O'er every frailty, every fault,
Oblivion, draw thy friendly veil.
Tell rather what transcendent
Awaits them on the immortal shore,
If well thy Summer’s strength employ,
And well distribute Autumn’s store.
Tell them, if virtue crown
Time shall the happy period bring,
When the dark winter of the tomb
Shall yield to everlasting Spring.
Provost Drummond’s daughter
was married to the Rev. John Jardine, D.D., one of the ministers of the Tron
Church, Edinburgh, and was the mother of Sir Henry Jardine, at one time
King’s Remembrancer in Exchequer for Scotland, who died 11th August, 1851.
Blair of Ardblair.
The family of Blair are now
extinct in the district. They were a branch of the family of Blair of
Balthayock. descended from Alexander de Blair, who flourished in the reign
of William the Lion.
William Blair was an Abbot of
the Monastery of St Marie, at Coupar Angus, in 1130. In 1554 John Blair of
Ardblair was the chief instigator of the murder of George Drummond and his
son William, and one Patrick Blair of Ardblair was beheaded for his share in
it. Sir Thomas Blair hail the honour of knighthood conferred on him by
Charles I. Rachel Blair of Ardblair was wife to Dr Joseph Robertson. Their
only child, Christina Robertson, married, in 1795, Lawrence Olipliant of
Gask (brother of the celebrated Lady Nairne), one of whose descendants now
owns the estate.
Mercer of Meikleour.
Sir Andrew Mercer received a
Charter for the Barony of Meikleour in 1440, and died 1473. His son, Sir
Laurence, had a safe conduct to England from Edward IV. in 1473. Sir Henry
Mercer was killed at the battle of Flodden, 1513, and regarding his son,
Laurence Mercer, there is an inventory of his stock registered 26tli May,
1581—“ Twenty-two ky, each at £6; a bull at £3 6s 8d; seven young calfis at
£1 each; and fifty draw and oxen at £8 each.”
There is also in the glebe
stocking of James Mercer, minister of Clunie, included in his inventory in
1636, “ a cow valued at .£18.”
Colonel William Mercer died
June, 1700, had a daughter, Jane, who married Viscount Keith, a
distinguished naval commander. They had an only child, Margaret Mercer
Elphinstone, born 1788. She married, in 1817, the Count de Flahault de la
Billarderie, in France, a General in the army of Napoleon I., and French
Ambassador at the British Court in 1861. (This lady was granddaughter of the
Hon. Robert Nairne, second son of Lord William Murray, 2nd Lord Nairne.
John, the 3rd Lord Nairne, was attainted for his allegiance to the Stuarts
in 1745, but the title was restored to his youngest son, William Murray
Nairne, by Act of Parliament, 17th June, 1824. On the death of William, 6th
Lord Nairne, without issue, 27th December, 1837, the title became extinct.)
The daughter of the Count de
Flahault, Emily Jane Mercer, born 1819, was declared heir to the title of
Baroness Nairne (dormant since 1837) by the House of Lords, 1874. She
married in 1843, Henry, 4th Marquess of Lansdowne, in Ireland, and died
1894. The estate is now possessed by their son, Lord Fitzmaurice, otli
Marquess, at one time Governor-General of Canada.
The family of Crichton of
Clunie, and Eliock in Dumfries, was collaterally descended from Murdoch,
Duke of Albany, third son of Robert III., and uncle of James I.
James Crichton was born in
the Castle of Clunie, 1560, his father being Robert Crichton, the
Lord-Advocate of Scotland. He received his education at Perth, and at the
University of St Andrews under the care of Professor Rutherford, his
fellow-students being Buchanan, Hepburn. Robertson, and the future James VI.
In 1572 he took his degree of Bachelor of Arts, in 1574 that of Master of
Arts, and, before reaching the age of nineteen, had mastered ten different
languages, which he could read and write to perfection. He practised the
arts of drawing and painting, and improved himself to the highest degree in
riding, fencing, dancing, singing, and in playing upon allJ sorts of musical
instruments. At the age of twenty he set out upon his travels, first
directing his course to Paris and then to Rome, where he disputed in
presence of the Pope, and refuted every argument all the professors,
masters, or doctors propounded to him. Arriving in Padua in 1581, the
Professors of that University assembled to do him honour, and, journeying to
Mantua, he challenged a prize-fighter who had foiled the most expert fencers
in Europe, and who had already slain three persons who had entered the lists
with him in that city. Crichton encountered his antagonist with so much
dexterity and vigour that he ran him through the body in three different
places, of which wounds he immediately died. The victor generously bestowed
the prize—1500 pistoles—on the widows of the men who had been killed by the
gladiator. The Duke of Mantua, struck with his talents and acquirements,
appointed him tutor to his son, Yineentio di Gonzaga, a prince of turbulent
disposition and licentious manners. One night, during the festival of the
Carnival in 1582, while he rambled about the streets playing the guitar, he
was attacked by six persons in masks. With consummate skill he dispersed his
assailants and disarmed their leader, who begged his life, exclaiming, “I am
your pupil, the Prince.” Crichton immediately fell on his knees, and,
presenting his swoi'd to the Prince, expressed his sorrow for having lifted
it against him, saying he had been prompted by self-defence. The dastardly
Gonzaga. inflamed with passion or wine, plunged the weapon into his heart.
Thus prematurely was cut off the “Admirable Crichton”— (for so was he
named)—and his tragical end excited a great and general lamentation.
Thomas Graham (Lord
Thomas Graham was born in
Newton Castle, the family residence, in 1750. Succeeding to the estates of
Newton and Balgowan, on the death of his father in 1766, he married, 1774,
the Hon. Mary Catheart, second daughter of Charles, 0th Lord Catheart. From
this period till 1792 he remained a private country gentleman, cultivating
his two estates, indulging in classical studies and the enjoyment of elegant
leisure. In 1792 his wife died, and his grief for her loss was so
overwhelming as greatly to injure his health, awl he was induced to travel.
After visiting Prance he went on to Gibraltar and fell into the society of
the officers of the garrison, and thenceforth determined on devoting himself
to the profession of arms. Lord Hood sailing to the south nf France, Graham
accompanied him as a volunteer. In 1793 he landed with the British troops at
Toulon, and served as extra aide-de-camp to Lord Mulgrave. On returning to
Scotland he raised from among his own countrymen in Perthshire the first
battalion of the 90th Regiment, of which he was appointed
Colonel-Command-ant, 1794. In 1794, 179(5, 1802, and 1800 he was unanimously
elected Member of Parliament for Perthshire, but was defeated in two
contested elections of 1811 and 1812. In 1793 he was promoted to the rank of
Colonel in the army. Obtaining permission, he joined the Austrian army,
1793, and continued in that service till the beginning of 1797. Attached to
the Austrian army of Italy, he was shut up in Mantua with General Wurmser.
During its investment, and the siege of the city continuing long and
provisions getting scarce, a council of war determined that intelligence
should be sent to the Imperialist General Alvinze of their desperate
situation. This perilous mission Col. Graham volunteered to perform in
person. Disguised as a peasant, he quitted Mantua on 29th December, and,
after eluding the vigilance of the French patrols and surmounting numerous
hardships and dangers, he arrived at the headquarters of General Alvinze at
Bassano, 4th January, 1797. Joining his regiment at Gibraltar, he assisted
at the reduction of the island of Minorca, and received high rewards from
the King of Naples for his services in Sicily. From 1798 to 1800 he
blockaded Malta, then held by the French, and obliged the garrison to
surrender. The years 1801 and 1802 he spent in travelling through Europe.
From 1803 to 1805 he served with his regiment in Ireland. In 1808 he acted
as aide-de-camp to Sir John Moore in his unsuccessful mission to the
assistance of the King of Sweden. lie served in Spain during the campaign of
1808, and was in the disastrous retreat to Corunna. He was promoted in 1809
to the rank of Major-General; commanded a division at the siege of Flushing
in the Walcheren expedition, 1810; and was afterwards appointed to the
command of the British and Portuguese troops in Cadiz, then blockaded by the
French, with the rank of Lieut.-General. He was General in command, and
defeated the French at the battle of Barossa, 1811, for which he received
the thanks of Parliament, and was invested with the Grand Cross of the Order
of the Bath, entitling him to the designation of Knight. In 1812 the siege
of Cuidad Rodrigo was under his immediate direction ; and in 1813 he
commanded the left wing of the British army at the battle of Vittoria.
During this year also he besieged and reduced San Sebastian. He commanded
the left wing of the British army at the passage of the Bidassoa river. In
1811 he was appointed Commander of the Forces in Holland, and defeated the
French at Merxem, for which he again received the thanks of Parliament. He
was created a Peer of the United Kingdom by the title of Lord Lynedoch of
Balgowan, but nobly refused a grant of £2000 per annum to himself and his
heirs. In 1821 he was raised to the full rank of General; 1820, nominated
Colonel of the 11th Foot; in 1834, removed to the Colonelcy of the Royals;
and in 1829, appointed Governor of Dumbarton Castle. In his latter years
Lord Lynedoch passed his time in Italy, but in 1842, when Queen Victoria
visited Scotland for the first time, so anxious was he to manifest his sense
of loyalty and his personal attachment to his Sovereign, that, though then
in his 92nd year, he came from Switzerland for the express purpose of paying
his duty to Her Majesty in the Metropolis of his native land. He died in
London, 1843, when the title became extinct.
In the National Gallery of
Scotland, the Mound, Edinburgh, is a full-length portrait of the Hon. Mrs
Graham, and in the Catalogue is this notice:—
“Bequeathed by the late
Robert Graham, Esq. of Redgortou, formerly of Balgowan and Lynedoch. —The
Honourable Mary Cathcart, second daughter of Charles, ninth Lord Cathcart,
was born in 1757, and died childless in 1792, after being married eighteen
years to Thomas Graham of Balgowan, better known afterwards as Lord Lynedoch,
one of the most daring of the heroes of the Peninsular War. Inconsolable for
the loss of his beautiful and amiable lady, the gallant Graham, at the age
of 43, entered on the arduous and chivalrous career in which he achieved
such high honours. He died in 1843, at the age of 94. After Mrs Graham’s
death, her husband, unable to look on her portrait, gave orders that it
should be bricked up at the end of the room w here it hung, and its
existence was forgotten, and only discovered fifty years afterwards during
alterations made on the house by another proprietor. It was exhibited in the
Biitish Institution in 1848, where it attracted very great attention, and
again in 1857 at Manchester, among the Art Treasures, of which, by the
general voice, it was pronounced one of the chief.” (No. 304. by
On the 8th December, 1896, a
monument to commemorate the deeds of the 90th (Perthshire) Regiment, raised
in 1796 by Lord Lynedoch, was unveiled on the North Inch at Perth,
Rattray of Rattray and
The Rattrays are one of our
oldest families, and it is difficult to ascertain when first they settled in
the district. It is assured that they were possessors of the Craighall
estate before the reign of William the Lion, and long ere that owned the
neighbouring barony of Rattray.
An old monumental slab above
the doorway of the place of sepulture in the Rattray Churchyard bears date,
“ 1000 : Rattray of Rattray and Craighall.”
It is certain that Alan de
Rattrief lived in the days of William the Lion and Alexander II., his son,
Thomas, being knighted by the latter sovereign. He got the lands of
Gleneaveryn and Kingoldrum with his wife Christian, the perambulation of
said lauds in 1250 being recorded in the Registry of the Abbey of Arbroath.
Sir Thomas left two sons,
Eustace and John. In 1280 Eustatius de Rattrie gave to the monks of Coupar—“Oinne
nis liabeo duarum Drimmies in tenements meo de Glen-bethlac cum omnibus
ritus.” Adamus de Rattrie, son of Eustace, swore allegiance to Edward I. in
1292 and 1296, and in 1299 likewise gave to the monks of Coupar the third or
The earliest existing
charters of the Rattray family is a charter of inspexisse by Gilbert Hay,
Constable of Scotland, dated at Dunkeld, 5th October, 1300, in which is
recited a confirmation by King Robert Bruce, to the Abbot of Coupar, of all
grants to the convent by Adam of Glcnbathloch, of the lands of the two
Drymmys, and of one by Eustace of Rattrief, dated at Dundee on Wednesday
before the feast of St Clement, 1300, of right of cummonty on said lands.
Adam died before 1315, and
his son Alexander wras one of the barons of Parliament held at Ayr in 1315,
which settled the succession to the Scottish crown. Dying without issue,
Alexander was succeeded by his brother Eustace, who was, in the Black
Parliament held at Scone in August, 1320, charged with being accomplice in
the conspiracy of Sir William Soulis and Sir David Brechin against the
“King Robert summoned a
convention, and because the vicissitudes of a long war had confounded the
rights of property, he ordered every one to producc the titles by which they
held their possessions. This demand was equally vexatious to the old as well
as to the new; because brave men thought they held by the best right those
estates they had taken by their arms from an enemy and the ancient
possessors, as scarcely a house had escaped the calamity of war, had lost
their written rights—if ever they had any—along with their other effects.
They therefore took a bold step—bold in appearance, but desperate and rash
in the result. When the King in Parliament desired them to produce their
titles to their possessions, they all drew their swords, exclaim ing that
they carried their titles in their right hands. The King . . . concealed his
auger for the time. Many of the nobility, conscious of the audacity of the
action, entered into a conspiracy for betraying the Kingdom to the English.
. . . Sir Eustace de Rattray, who, being invited to join with thes quho upon
discontents against King Robert Bruce, conspyred to deliver him up to the
King of England, refused, and quhen that treason was discovered, albeit they
put- in his name among the rest, yet his subscription and seal, being not
found with the writ, he was cleared, quhen others that were found guiltie
were punished. Sir David de Brechin and five other knights with three
esquires, Richard Brown, Hammeline de Troupe, and Eustace de Rattray are the
only persons whose names have come down to us as certainly implicated in the
conspiracy. When the whole conspirators were apprehended a Parliament was
summoned at Perth, where the letters were produced, and, every one’s seal
being recognised, Sir David de Brechin, along with Malherbe, Logie, and
Brown, were convicted of treason by their own confession and executed. . . .
Maxwell, Berklay, Graham, Troupe, and Rattray were also tried, but
Eustace was succeeded by his
son, John, who vtas also succeeded by a son of the same name. This latter
died about the close of the reign of James I., leaving a sou Patrick, who
died in 1456, and was succeeded by his son, Sylvester, the most noted among
his successors for generations, who in 1463 was appointed one of the
Extraordinary Ambassadors sent to treat with Edward IV. about the affairs of
the two kingdoms, and who negotiated with him the truce that was to last for
fifteen years. By his wife, Alison Hepburn, he had a son, John, who was
kniglited by James VI., and mariied Elizabeth, daughter of Lord Kennedy.
There were three sons of the marriage—John, Patrick, and Sylvester. On the
18th May, 1506, he was appointed Joint-Bailie of the Regality of Scone, with
such salai y and accommodation as were formerly enjoyed by Thomas Blair of
Balthayock. John, who died in Holland in his father’s lifetime, nas an
officer in the Dutch army, and, although married, left no issue.
The second son, Patrick,
succeeded Sir John, and the only daughter, Grissel, became the Countess of
John Stewart, 3rd Earl of Athole.
The following is an abstract
from a copy MS. which refers to a disaster, which for a time marred the
for-* tunes of the Rattray family of Craighall:—“ Sir John Rattray quho was
killed at Flodden (1513), with King James IV!; his eldest soil called John
had two daughters, bot he died before his father without heirs male. Always
Sir John Rattray married for his second marriage Dam Elisabeth Kennadie,
quho bar to him two sons, the one called Patrick, the other called
Sylvester. Sir John Rattray being killed at Flodden, the Earl of Athol
thought himself entitled to an equal portion of the estates of Rattray in
right of his Countess, and this claim being resisted by his brothers-in-law,
the Earl resolved to attain his end by force.
“Arraying a body of his
clansmen, he marched down upon the castle of Rattray with the intention of
carrying it by assault; Patrick, finding his few retainers unable to defend
the place, made a timely retreat.
“The Earl broke into the old
fortalice, ransacked and seized all the family documents on which he could
lay hands. Also he took the two daughters, and married upon his son the
oldest called Dam Grissell, and the other upon Sir James Stewart of
Attemadies, in the north, and so possessed himself of the estate of Rattray
and sundrie other lands belonging to that family.”
This Dam Grissell had many
children. Her son John was Chancellor of' Scotland, and she had many
daughters married to many honourable families.
“Dam Kennedie, for her and
Sir John Rattray’s sons, pleaded for the ryt of the lands of Rattray, bot
they were overpowered by the Earl of Athol—the eldest, Patrick, being killed
by the Leslies of Kinrorie (emissaries no doubt of the Earl of Athol), when
he was building a strength of his owne securitie upon a rock that had bot on
passage to enter be. Sylvester, the other son, got a warrant under the
King’s great seal to ye Lord Ruthven, Sheriff of Perth, to hold a court at
Dundie (becaus of the Earl of Athol’s power), when he was served heir to his
brother and to his father, Sir John; but the Earl of Athol being Chancellor
made out of the way the charter of Silvester Rattray, who could not recover
his right oyet.
“This Silvester atteir w ith
the Laird of Ivinmonth of that Ilk assist and obtened by law the lands of
Craighall and a fifth part of the barony of Rattray, becaus thes lands wer
provyded to the children of Dam Elizabeth Kenuadie by the said Sir John,
whilk continue with that family till this day.
“At length, in 1533,
Silvester petitioned the King for a commission to have the service completed
at Dundee, narrating that for the space of 12 years he had been hindered
from getting himself served as heir to his father’s lands by the Eail of
Athol and others, who slew his brother, Patrick Rattray, in the chapel of
his house at Glenballoch, and he was informed that the Earl was meditating a
similar fate for himself. The commission sought was granted under the great
seal, 17th October, 1533, and the service accordingly took place under this
special authority at Dundee. No proceedings appear to have been taken
against Athol for the base part he acted, but the passing of the service at
Dundee obviously brought about some amicable arrangement or compromise with
him, for in December following, Grizella, Countess of Athol, granted a
precept of clare constat in favour of Silvester Rattray as heir of Patrick
Rattray, his brother, in the lands of Braidwalls and other parts of Rattray.”
Next year Silvester was
infeft at Dundee in the barony of Craighall and Kynballoch. He died in 1554,
leaving two sons, David, his heir, and William. Both were implicated in the
death of Robert Rollack, Polcolk, and David Donald, Grange, under
circumstances which have not been recorded, but for which they compounded by
David had two sons, George,
who lived to the beginning of the 17th century, and Silvester, who was
minister of Auchtergaven and the ancestor of the Rattrays of Dalnoon.
In 1587 George Rattray of
Craighall binds himself and his dependants “ to serve the Earl of Argyle in
all his actions and adoes, against al persons, the King's majesty only
exceptit, and sail neither hear or see his skaith, but sail make him
foreseen therewith, and sail resist the same sae far as in me lies, and that
in respect the said Earl has given me his band of maintenance.”
George succeeded his father
in the I’eign of James VI. He was succeeded by Silvester, who was infeft in
all his father’s lands by a charter under the great seal 20th October, 1604.
He died in 1613, and left two sons, David and Silvester. The latter, who was
bred to the Church, was the progenitor of the Rattrays of Persie.
The elder son, David, did not
long survive his father, and left a son, Patrick. Upon his own resignation
he got a charter under the great seal from King Charles I., of date 2-Stli
February, 1618, of the lands of Craighall, Kyn-balloch, and others,
containing a novodamns and erecting them into a free barony to be called
Craighall and Rattray for all time coming.
By his wife, Anne Drummond,
daughter of John, 2nd Lord Madderty, he had a daughter, married to Ogilvy of
Balfour, and a son, James, who also left a son, Dr Thomas Rattray, a man of
singular piety and learning, who was served heir to his father before the
Sheriff of Perth, 13tli July, 1692. He was a Bishop of the Scottish
Episcopal Church, and distinguished himself by his literary abilities, and
especially by his writing on liturgical subjects. He married Margaret
Galloway, daughter of Thomas, Lord Dunkeld, and died in 1743, leaving two
sons and three daughters.
The eldest daughter,
Margaret, married the celebrated John Clerk of Pennicuik, for four years
President of the Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh, and more than
thirty years first medical practitioner in Scotland. He died in 1757. James
Clerk, his eldest son, succeeded to the Clerk-Rattray estates in right of
his grandmother, and assumed the surname of Rattray in addition to his own.
He was an eminent member of the Scottish Bar, and was constituted a Baron of
the Scottish Exchequer. He died 1831, and was succeeded by his son Robert,
who died 1851, leaving four daughters and two sons—James, his successor (the
present proprietor), and Adam, an officer in the Gordon Highlanders.
Janies Clerk-Rattray entered
the army in 1851, and served with great distinction in the Crimean and
Indian Mutiny campaigns, having been wounded in the Redan, and engaged in
the relief and defence of Lucknow. In 1871 he was created a Commander of the
Bath, and has held rank as Hon. Lieutenant-General since 1879. In 1897 he
had the honour of knighthood conferred on him by Her Majesty the Queen. (See
Grimond of Lornty.
The family of Grimond have
long been resident in the district. David Grimond was one of the pioneers of
the flax-spinning trade. His brother, James Grimoud, who died in 1862, was
the first spinner Watt got to make trial of jute fibre. David Grimond of
Oakbank was born at Lornty, in 1816, and received his education at
Blairgowrie. His father dying in 1833, he succeeded him, and carried on a
successful and extensive business. In 1843 he built Brooklinn Mill, and in
1862 he succeeded to the business of his uncle, James Grimond of Oakbank,
with which mill his name was mostly associated. He was extensively known as
an energetic, enterprising, and trustworthy gentleman. He died 18th June,
Joseph Grimoud, fourth son of
David Grimond of Lomty, was born in 1821, and received the rudiments of his
education at the Parish School of Blairgowrie. While but a youth he entered
the service of a company of cloth merchants in Dundee, and, after serving
his apprenticeship, proceeded to Manchester, where he founded a business—one
of the most successful and extensive in Scotland. Returning to Dundee in
company with his brother, Alexander, he erected the Bowbridge Mills, which,
with Max well town Carpet Factory and Dyeworks, employ over 3000 hands. The
newest machines and best appliances were constantly added, and the comfort
and health of the work folks were always cared for as of prime importance.
He established offices in London and New York for the sale of the varied
productions of their looms ; founded in Manchester an important industry for
the manufacture of oil cloth for packing purposes; and to have a careful
selection of the raw material, he visited Calcutta and established an office
with staff for the purchase and selection of the fibre. In the course of his
business he visited nearly every capital of Europe and America, and brought
home some object of beauty and of interest. His leisure he devoted to his
friends and his flowers. In politics he was an ardent friend of John Bright
whom he knew and loved. He wras for many years a Director of the North
British Railway; a Deputy-Lieutenant for the County of Dundee; a Magistrate
for Forfarshire, with residence at Kinnettles, and took a warm interest in
the public business of the county. He died 2nd November, 1894.
David Laird Adams was a
native of Blairgowrie, where he was born in 1837. He received the rudiments
of his education at the Parish School, studying afterwards at the Church of
Scotland Training College, Edinburgh, and at the University there. He also
studied abroad, chiefly in Germany. Taking the degree of M.A., he acted for
some time as teacher in Dollar Academy, Merehiston Castle School, and
Anderson’s College, Glasgow. Graduating B.D. in 1871, he was ordained to his
first charge, St David’s, Edinburgh, and in 1875 elected minister of
Monimail, Fife. From 1874 to 1880 he acted as Examiner for the degree of B.D.,
and in 1880 was elected to the Chair of Hebrew and Oriental Languages in the
Edinburgh University, which position he occupied till his death in 1892.
John Baxter, D.D.
John Baxter was born in
Blairgowrie in 1809, receiving his education at the parish schools of
Blairgowrie and Rattray; then in Dundee under Mr Campbell (afterwards Dr
John Campbell of London); and subsequently at the Grammar School of Dunkeld
under Mr M‘Culloch (afterwards Dr M'Culloch of Greenock). He matriculated at
the University of St Andrews, 1822-23, and took his M.A. degree in 1826;
licensed by the Presbytery of Meigle in 1831, he was ordained to his first
charge in Persie; transferred to Hilltown Church, Dundee, in 1838, “came
out” with his congregation at the Disruption, 1843; and in 18.">8 accepted a
call to the First Free Church, Blairgowrie, where he continued till his
death in 1893. In 1881 he received the degree of D.D. from St Andrew's
University, and in 1887 was proposed for the Maderatorship of the Free
Macpherson of Blairgowrie.
This family is descended from
Donald Macpherson of Xoid (or Nuide), who in 1635 married Isabel, a daughter
of Alexander Rose of Clova. They were the common ancestor of the following
families of Macphersons, viz.:— Cluny, Ralia or Glentruim, Blairgowrie,
Belleville, and Philadelphia.
Allan Macpherson, who was a
Colonel in the East India Service, bought the estate of Blairgowrie in IV02
and built Blairgowrie House, dying in 1817. His son, William (born in 1784
at Barrackpore, near Calcutta), succeeded to the estate, and continued to
reside at Blairgowrie House till 1829, when he left for New South Wales,
having been appointed by Sir George Murray, then Colonial Secretary, as
Collector of Inland Revenue for that Colony, from which he succeeded to
other and higher appointments. He died 1806.
During the time he resided at
Blairgowrie he took an active interest in the progress and advancement of
the town and district, making himself very popular by many acts of kindness
to the community, of which he was feudal superior. He gifted to the town the
large market square known as the Wellmeadow, along with the market customs
of the burgh, and the “ Waulk Mill,” besides other properties and privileges
to assist the town’s revenue.
Allan Macpherson was born at
Blairgowrie House in 1818, and journeyed to New- South Wales in 1829 with
his father, and received his education in that colony.
He came home in 1851, and
returned in 1856 to New South Wales, where he resided many years.
Being repeatedly elected
representative of one of the divisions of the colony as a member of the
Legislative Council, he took a leading part in the proceedings of Allan
Macpherson that body. In 1860 he became proprietor of the estate of
Blairgowrie on the death of his father, and in 1869 took up residence in the
family mansion. He was a Justice of the Peace and a Depnty-Lieutenant for
Perthshire, and acted upon nearly all the executive Committees of the County
of Perth. In politics he was formerly a Liberal, but latterly he became
associated with the Conservative party. He died 6th November, 1801. In 1892
a memorial fountain was erected to his memory, by Mrs Macpherson and family,
in the Well meadow.
James Neilson, M.D.
This gentleman w as born in
Blairgowrie in 1841, and received liis early education in the Free Church
School. After a distinguished academical career at Edinburgh University, he
assisted Pi-ofessor Simpson for some time, and afterwards was appointed
resident surgeon of Maternity Hospital, and while there he took his degrees
of M.D. and L.M., 1S62. In that year he settled down in Blairgowrie.
In his professional capacity
he hail all the requisites for a successful doctor ; his great skill in
grappling with disease and his dee]) knowledge of the technicalities of his
profession caused his patients to have unbounded confidence in him.
He took a deep interest in
all that appertained to the moral and social advancement of the community.
At the election of the first School Board he was returned at the head of the
poll by a large majority; he was also Chief-Magistrate for more that one
term. He was an ardent and pronounced Liberal. The assiduous attention which
he paid to his very large practice, and the exposure to which he was at all
times and in all weathers subjected, hastened his untimely death, 8th
This gentleman was born in
Blairgowrie in 1813, and died in Edinburgh, 12th November, 1889. His father
was originally a merchant and afterwards a banker in the town.
Having been educated to the
law, he carried on an extensive and successful practice, as well as the
agency for the Bank of Scotland. For many years he held the office of Town
Clerk, in which capacity he was very useful to the burgh and the community.
He was an active and available public servant, and took considerable part in
all the local affairs of his time. As a speaker he was able and successful,
and several of his happy public appearances are still remembered.
For more than twenty years he
was President of the local curlers, and, by his skilful management and
scientific playing, he was perhaps the means, more than any other, of
bringing the Club into the proud position of one of the foremost, if not
actually the most successful, in Scotland.
Of the 22 silver medals won
by Blairgowrie a large proportion were gained under his renowned Presidency.
He was the principal promoter
of the Blairgowrie Gasworks, and to him the town was largely indebted for
enjoying this great boon of modern civilisation long before its neighbours.
He was one of the leading
members of St Mary’s Parish Church, and rendered much valuable service in
connection writh the building of the new place of worship.
He was a man of much tact and
good sense. He had a generally well-stored and cultivated mind, and was of
an agreeable, genial, and obliging disposition.
This well-known artist was
born in Blairgowrie in 1840, and vt as trained to the house-painting
business, but the bent of his mind was always towards the Fine Arts, to
which he assiduously devoted his leisure time and ultimately all his
efforts. His early studies were of the genre class, mostly figure groups
illustrative of Scottish life and manners, many of them containing fine
touches of humour. To these and kindred subjects, still life and groups of
trout and salmon, with an occasional landscape, his time and talent were
devoted, and in some of these departments—notably those of fish
painting—while he had many imitators, he had no rival. His genius was
conspicuous in many directions; as a sculptor he would undoubtedly have
excelled had he chosen, and he was possessed of literary ability of a high
order. Socially he was a genial and brilliant spirit, original and sometimes
eccentric, a clever mimic, and kindly-hearted fellow. His pictures were
exhibited and admired for many years in Edinburgh and elsewhere. He died
31st October, 1884.
David C. Robb.
This gentleman was born in
Blairgowrie, 7th February, 1851, and was educated at the parish schools of
Rattray and Blairgowrie. After completing a course of study at the High
School of Dundee, he entered the University of St Andrews in 1866. Here he
concluded a highly-successful curriculum by graduating M.A. in 1870, and at
the same time gained by competition the much-coveted honour of being
appointed Guthrie Scholar, the Scholarship being £250. From St Andrews he
went to Worcester College, Oxford, where he graduated in due course,
securing first class honours in Classics; but, though thus proving himself
an excellent classical scholar, the bent of his mind led him towards natural
science, and he selected Chemistry. In this new work he soon distinguished
himself so much that he was appointed Assistant Professor of Chemistry, a
post which he occupied for about seven years. In 1879 a translation of
Pasteur’s “ Studies on Beer ” was published for Frank Faulkner, of the
Brewery, St Helens, under Robb’s editorship, and at the time of his death he
was similarly engaged upon Dr Landolt’s work, “ The Optical Rotation Power
of Organic Substances.” He possessed a superior knowledge of botany and
natural science generally. He died 2nd June, 1881.
This gentleman settled in
Blairgowrie in 1855, and for over 30 years was identified with public life.
In 1867 he became a member of the Town Council, and under the old regime he
rose to the position of Baron-Bailie. In the Police Commission he was for
several years a Junior Magistrate, then Senior Magistrate, and when the Act
of 1892 came into force he obtained the title of Provost. In November, 1893,
while re-elected a Commissioner he retired from the Provostship, and was
re-elected Baron-Bailie. He took a hearty interest in everything connected
with the welfare and happiness of the community, and devoted much time and
thought to public business.
A discriminating judge of
pictures—who could himself sketch and paint with no mean ability—he, for
several years, criticised the Royal Scottish Academy Exhibition in the
columns of the “ Dundee Advertiser.” To the local press he wrote much in the
form of vigorous articles on current topics, happy paragraphs and graphic
accounts of travel, and clever sketches. Of his poetical pieces several have
obtained a well-merited place in the volume, published 1893, of Edward’s
“Modern Scottish Poets.” John Bridie hail a keen appreciation of the beau
tiful, and these varied qualities gave to the works of his hands grace and
beauty, and among the best painters in Scotland he was respected. His genial
temper and bonhomie made him friends everywhere, and he was altogether a man
of wide and varied sympathies, and no question of human interest came to him
amiss. He died 2Gth June, 1894.
Robert Lunan, Surgeon.
a highly-distin-guislied career at the University of Edinburgh, a few years’
practice with his uncle, Dr Smith, Provost of Forfar, and a six months’
voyage on board a whaler in Davis Straits, Robert Lunan came to reside in
Blairgowrie in 1836. and from the first gave evidence of that | energy and
independent / outspokenness which characterised everything he did ever
after. In his early years he was one of the best rifle shots of the county,
and Dr Robert Lunan. succeeded in winning the £30 Challenge Cup for Fife and
Kinross at the St Andrews "Wapenschaw of 1862. In connection with his
shooting exploits he had a splendid record, trophies of one kind and another
having fallen to his lot at nearly every competition in which he took part.
On one occasion when, with an ordinary Enfield rifle, he came very nearly
beating the cracks with their Winchester rifles at Montrose, he was
presented on his return with a rifle and case. On another occasion he was
presented with a silver snuff-box, with a eulogistic inscription on a gold
plate on it, from the ladies of the Stormont.
On the 22nd January, 1891, he
had special honours paid him by the Blairgowrie Curling Club, of which he
had then completed his fiftieth year as a member. He was entertained to a
banquet in the Queen’s Hotel, and presented with a massive silver dinner
service, together with an illuminated address. The address spoke of the
Doctor’s “ fifty-five years of unremitting attention to his professional
duties, and the desire of the subscribers to recognise specially his
unwearying kindness to the poor of the district, and the manner in which,
without consideration of self, he had always been ready to devote his time
and skill to those in distress.” The tureen of the dinner service bore the
inscription—“ Presented to Dr Robert Lunan, Blairgowrie, by the public, as a
token of the universal esteem in which he is held, and in grateful
recognition of his valuable professional services, and his invaluable
kindness to the poor during the last 55 years. Blairgowrie, 1891.”
As a judge of violins Dr
Lunan occupied a foremost place, and owned a splendid collection, including
a valuable Caspar di Salo. His opinion on the merits of a violin were highly
valued, and the possessor of more than one valuable violin is indebted for
it to the Doctor’s discriminating judgment. He laboured for 58 years in
Blairgowrie, and died 24th April, 1894, aged 82.
Thomas S. Bisset.
This gentleman was born at
Marlee, near Blairgowrie, in 1889. After receiving the rudiments of
education at the Parish School, he was trained to work in iron, and early in
life he gave evidence of an intellectual interest and practical skill in
mechanics. As the result of a visit to the Exhibition in London, 1862, he
designed his first self-acting back-delivery reaping machine. In 1867 he
patented the steel-lined fingers for reapers and mowers which are now used
by every maker.
In 1868 he constructed a
bicycle, and claimed to be the first maker and rider of these machines in
Britain. In 1878 the firm, finding their premises at Marlee too remote from
railway transit, acquired ground at Greenback, and erected extensive
buildings thereon for the carrying on of business. In this year (1878) the
firm constructed their “ Scotia ” mower—the first machine with enclosed gear
made in Britain—and in 1880 the now famous “ Speedwell ” was designed. In
1887 Mr Bisset commenced the manufacture of self-binding reapers, realising
that they would soon come into general use. The perfecting and practical
manufacture of these machines cost Bisset much labour and attention, but he
had unlimited courage and perseverance.
He was for a number of years
a member of Blairgowrie School Board, and took a keen interest in all
branches of education. He died 27th August, 1896.
This gentleman was born at
Blairgowrie in 1834, his father,
William Panton, being
overseer for many years on the Blairgowrie estate. Receiving his education
at the Parish School, and choosing the law as a profession, he served his
apprenticeship in the offices of Duncan & M'Lean, Perth. Returning to
Blairgowrie, he commenced practice along with Dallas, writer, but the
partnership was of short duration. Prom this humble start his energy soon
developed itself, and he extended his operations in every direction. He was
appointed factor on Blairgowrie estate in 1855, and retained the office till
In 1857 he opened a branch of
the Royal Bank at Millbank House (transferred to present buildings on their
erection in 1872). His law offices, in connection with the Royal Bank, were
the centre of a wide and varied activity, the moving spirit of which was “
The Factor.” This term was the usual form in which he was addressed, and
arose from the large number of properties he was agent for—Blairgowrie,
Bamff, Parkhill, Glenericht, Dru-more, Coupar Grange, and Clayquhat estates,
&c. He was agent for the Royal Bank; a Director and Valuator of the Royal
Insurance Society; Director of Blairgowrie Gas Company; Director of
Westfields Spinning Company; Chairman of Blairgowrie Water Commission; a
County Councillor, Parish Councillor, and member of other bodies. He engaged
in extensive concerns as maltster at Blairgowrie Arbroath, Craigie, Perth,
Stirling, and other places; and carried on a successful cattle mart in
He bought the estates of
Dalnagairn in Strathardle ; Inchmartine (2800 acres) in the Carse of Gowrie;
and Buttergask (1250 acres), and Carsie in Strathmore. He also farmed
Blacklaw and Gormack. He rented the extensive sheep grazings of Glenfernate,
Daliyunzie, and Old Spittal of Gleusliee. He was one of the leading partners
in Newtyle Chemical Works; was Superior of Rattray; and owned a large number
of properties in Blairgowrie, Perth, Glasgow, &c.
In 1808 John Panton took an
active part in the political campaign which broke up the Tory yoke in the
shire. In recent years business rather than politics occupied his brain, but
his sympathies and his vote were in the Conservatives’ favour. He was for
long a Free Churchman, but a good many years ago he joined the Established
Church, of which he was a regular attender.
As a solicitor a large share
of the business of the district fell into his hands, and, in difficult
arbitrations and in the management of trust estates, his skill and strong
common sense made him an indispensable adviser. In the midst of his
extensive and varied business John Panton found time for much kindly social
intercourse, lie was a keen curler and a genial friend, and was ever
inspired by a simple desire for the public welfare and, the general good. He
died 29th September, 1898.
Of whom shall I further
write? To sketch shortly the lives of the worthy citizens—natives of the
town and district—would fill a volume alone.
James Anderson of Bleaton
(1797-1868), solicitor and banker.
George B. Anderson, son of
the former (18 -1868)— a banker and popular Captain of the Volunteers.
John Baxter of Ashbank
John Bisset of Marlee
(1808-1890)—farmer and agricultural implement maker; the founder of the
world-famous firm of Bisset & Sons, makers of reapers and mowers.
David Brown of Tliorngreen
(1800-1863)—lessee of the principal hotel in town, then Brown’s Hotel;
proprietor of a coach, “ Braes of Mar,” which ran between Perth and Braemar;
who also ran stage-coaches to Coupar Angus and Dundee; carried on
distilleries at Blairgowrie, Ballied, and Pitcarmic; and farmed Marlee,
Tliorngreen, Grange of Airlie, Auchteralyth, besides having sheep grazings
in Inverness, &c.
Peter Chalmers (1799-1887) of
Gowaulea—for over fifty years leader of psalmody, first in the Parish Church
and afterwards in First Free Church.
Robert Cowpar of Falcon House
(1822-1887), J.P.—a distinguished officer in the service of H.M.E.I.
Company, rising gradually from Ensign to honorary rank of Lieut.-Colonel;
who farmed Wester Essendy, Drummellie, and Cottarton.
William Culross, native of
Welltown (1798-1889) wood-merchant.
James Leslie, the Thorn
(1808-1894) (after whom Leslie Street is named) — a very successful breeder
of black polled cattle.
Jacob Low, of Welltown
(1809-1883)—an extensive sheep farmer in Queensland, and for several years
member of the Legislature.
(1854-1886)—journalist, occupied important positions on the staff of the
“Scotsman,” on the press in China and Japan, published a book on Chinese
character, which was much appreciated, sub-editor of the “ Portsmouth
(1766-1860)—appointed first postmaster in Blairgowrie about 1810.
(1810-1879)—bookseller, who set up the first printing press in the town
(1789-1875)—bookseller, started in 1855 the first newspaper iu town, under
the title of “Ross’s Compendium of the Week’s News.”
James Struth (18 -1891)—began
life as a mill lad, with a natural bent for mechanics fostered by his
employers, rising step by step until he was chief of one of the largest and
best jute industries in India.
Peter M'lntosli (17
-1831)—spinner, the first to introduce spinning by machinery into the
Thomas Clark of Heathpark—publisher
William S. Soutar—solicitor
gunsmith, and a crack rifle shot.
James Chalmers of Boglea
(18—1897) J.P. — draper, farmer, and Provost of BlairgowTrie.
William Craigie (1821-1897)—slater,
Town Councillor, &c.
Thomas Mitchell of Greenfield
(1820-1884) — draper, Baron-Bailie.
William Pan ton of Maryfield—farmer
George P. Cochrane—teacher.
William Cowan (1806-1989)—wright.
(1807-1876)—builder, a member of Town Council, and Bailie in 1859 and 1863.
George G. MacLareu—a
distinguished military surgeon, served over 22 years in India; for many
years Medical Supervisor of the important Civil Station of Dehra Doon, N. W.
Province, who performed in 1880 a successful operation on the right eye of
Yakoob Khan, ex-Ameer of Afghanistan; retired on a pension with honorary
rank of Lieut.-Colonel.
James F. MacLaren (brother of
the above)—appointed, 1881, Surgeon to Her Majesty’s 2nd (Prince of Wales’
Own), Goorklia regiment, permanently stationed during peace at Dehra Doon,
N. W. Province. (It was this regiment who so markedly distinguished itself
along with the 92nd Highlanders, at. the battle of Candahar, under Sir
Frederick Roberts, during the Afghan War.)
Charles Templeman, M.D.,
B.Sc., Medical Officer of Health, Dundee.
Alexander M'Farlane, M.A.,
B.Sc., D.Sc., LL.D.- -acted as Assistant Professor of Mathematics in
Edinburgh University, 1879-1881 ; in 1885 appointed Professor of Physics in
University of Texas.
James Isles, J.P., F.S.A.,
Scot.—wine merchant, antiquarian, and art connoisseur.
James Stewart, coal merchant,
Isaac. Henry-Anderson of
Druidsmere, S.S.C.; factor on the estates of Ardblair, Craighall, Marlee,
&c.; Clerk of Eastern District Road Trust; for many years agent of
Robert Robertson, solicitor
and banker, for many years Town Clerk.
distinguished soldier, saw active service in the Crimea, Adjutant of the
Stirling Volunteers, retired on a pension with honorary rank of Major.
David Chalmers, timber and
coal merchant, for nearly 30 years an enthusiastic, volunteer and popular
William Davie, ironmonger and
seedsman, donor of the Public Park to Blairgowrie.
David Farquharson, A.R.S.A.,
William Dickson, artist.
John Craigie, M.A., LL.B.,
Thomas Steven, J.P., wright,
for many years a Bailie and Chief-Magistrate.
James Ogilvy, brewer, a
County Councillor, and proprietor of Parkhead estate.
William Robertson, baker,
first music teacher of James Durward Lyall (Durward Lely) Scotland’s famous
Thomas T. M‘Laggan, M.A.,
teacher of Classics, High School of Edinburgh.
James Moncur, Superintendent
of Scottish Prison Stores, Edinburgh.
James C. Anderson of
Aikenhead, late Resident Magistrate, Bengal Civil Service, India.
James Moir, Professor of
David Templeman, flaxspinner,
Provost of Blairgowrie.
James Kynocli, Chief
Engineer, Canadian General Electric Company.
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