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The History of Fettercairn
Chapter XIII.—Newdosk or Balfour


THE old thanedom and parish of Neudos or Newdosk, recently annexed to Fettercairn, is now generally known as the district of Balfour. At a very early period the lands were granted to the knights of St. John of Jerusalem, and as already noticed, Robert the Bruce probably granted an extension of the same. The name of Neudos appears a hundred years earlier. Reginald de Chen, Sheriff of Kincardine, had a charter of the thanedom. In 1365 King David gave to Alexander Lindsay of Crawford, father of the first Lindsay of Glenesk, a grant of the king's-lands "in thanagio de Newdoskis in vicecomitate de Kin-cardyn." The rents x. li. (ten pounds) were uplifted by the Lord High Chamberlain, Thomas Stewart Earl of Angus. In 1390 a confirmation of the charter was granted to David Lindsay; and again, in 1406, by Robert III. to hi& sons and the longest liver of them. The Lindsays retained possession till 1585, when Sir John Wischart of Pitarrow was granted a part of the lands, viz., "Eister Balfour, Weister Balfour, et Incherbock, in baronia de Newdosk," at 8 of valuation entrj7. In 1607 he received in addition the lands of Kirkton and their brewery, with the lands of Bonhary, "in the barony of Rescobie and regality of St. Andrews," at 7 6s. 8d. of valuation entry. The parish & of Newdosk paid four merks annually to the Cathedral of

St. Andrews. In 1615, his son, Captain Alexander Wischart, disposed of Balfour to John Straton, son of Sir Alexander Straton of Lauriston, who in 1605 was Lord High Commissioner to the Assembly of the Church -at Aberdeen. John Straton died in 1631, and his son Alexander succeeded as proprietor of the Woodtons, the Mill, Easter and Wester Balfour and Incharbock, at a total valuation of 5; and likewise the advowson of the •Church and Parish of Fettercairn; the lands of Kirkton -and the brasina (maltings) of the barony of Newdosk, valued in toto at .8 13s. 4d.

A record of date 1618 bears that Alexander Thornton, the son of an Edinburgh burgess, had a grant of lands in Fordoun parish, of a quarter of Easter and Wester Woodtons and the mill of Woodton.

Alexander Straton was succeeded in 1666 by a son Alexander, who sold Balfour to a Thomas Stewart in 1679, and Lauriston to Sir John Falconer of Phesdo in 1694. The William Burnett who, as already stated, with his thirty-three tenants, took possession of the church seats in 1686, was the next proprietor of the estate; but Margaret Lindsay, spouse of Alexander Straton, and sister of David Lindsay of Edzell, retained, in her own right and in conjunction with her brother, a lien over the lands, mills, fishings, the church patronage of Newdosk, the Templar lands, called the Dowcroft, Brewtack, and the office of baillie of said lands in the regality of Torphichen.

It may be noticed that of the Stratons who settled in the parish, David, a son of Andrew Straton of Warburton .and a nephew of John Straton, who purchased Balfour, was tenant of Fodra, above the Bogs of Fodra, now the Lake of Fasque. A son David succeeded him, and another son James, tenant of Drumhendry, was twice married and had twenty children, chiefly daughters, and the most of them were married to farmers in the parish. The late Alexander Straton, M.D., of Bath, born at Balmakelly, Marykirk, was a great-grandson, who helped the writer in this enquiry ; and another descendant, a generation later, is the Rev. William Straton Bruce, D.D., parish minister of Banff. David, lord of Edzell, died in 1698, and that was probably the date when Balfour was acquired by Peter Forbes, whose-name appears in a minute of presbytery as heritor of Balfour in 1723. After him James Forbes appears in 1737 and subsequent years. He died in 1762 and was succeeded by his son Andrew, lieutenant in the 19th regiment of foot, who as Captain Forbes sold the Woodtons to Lord Adam Gordon in 1774, and the rest of the property thereafter to Sir Alexander Eamsay Irvine. The old people of thirty years ago spoke of him as the "daft laird of Balfour." The "laird" on a certain occasion met Sir John Stuart of Fettercairn, and politely, as he thought, asked if Lady Jane was well. Sir John indignantly replied, "What business has a man of your stamp to ask about her?" "Oh! yes, I have, she asked for me one day; and she's better than you deserve for a lady."


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