OF the old families in the
parish only a few very general notices can here be given. In the Kirk
Session Registers of last century some fifteen or sixteen different surnames
appear to represent the leading families of the parish. About two-thirds of
that number, their direct descendants, remained as tenant-occupiers during
the first half of this century, and nearly one-half the number continued for
a few years longer; but now a perusal of the Valuation Roll reveals the fact
that the old familiar names have mostly all disappeared.
The Woods descended from the
old landowners of Baibegno, the Stratons from those of Balfour, and the
Carnegies from the houses of Pitarrow and Arnhall, were very numerous down
to the early years of the present century, but now not one remains. Other
families, now wholly extinct in the parish, and whose direct
representatives, wherever they may be, are unknown, were those of Kinloch,
who occupied the Straths of Balmain ; of Law, whose holdings were Balbegno,
Caldcotes and Drumhendry ; of Christie, who occupied the braes of
Balnakettle and Balfour; of Forbes, Croll, Gibb, Gray, and Waldie, all
numerous. The Croalls, coachbuilders in Edinburgh, were descendants of a
Croll at Craigmoston. The forbears of Messrs Gibb and Gray, merchants,
Manchester, were the Gibbs of Arnhall, and John Gray, merchant, Fettercairn.
James Gibb, the last of the name in the parish, was tenant of Arnhall, and
died in 1857.
The Austines, an English
name, settled in the parish during the seventeenth century. One hundred
years ago, an Austine was tenant of Nether Craigniston, now the upper part
of Coldstream farm. George Austine of Nether Thainstone had a large family
of daughters. John Austine, a brother, was a merchant in the village, whose
son James succeeded as merchant and postmaster. His son John became a
wealthy coalmaster near Hamilton, a Colonel of volunteers, and died in 1893.
A nephew of his, James Austine, warehouseman, Glasgow, is the only one left.
The Valentines, whose
progenitor was Valentine of Thornton, a favourite of Robert the Bruce, were,
till of late, numerous and influential in the parish, but so few are now
left that ere long the name will become extinct. Eighty years ago, a Robert
Valentine, farmer, Bogendollo, left a benefaction to the poor; and Robert
Vallentine, farmer of Bogmuir and Inch, an authority in agriculture, died in
1868. A daughter Margaret became the wife of the late Rev. George Gilfillan
of Dundee. A son James was tenant of Arnhall, and his son is William M4Inroy
Vallentine, banker, and ex-Provost of Brechin.
The Falconers, the hereditary
hawkers of William the Lion and his successors, held a high position among
the leading families of the Mearns. Their direct connection with Fettercairn
began with the eighteenth century, when Lady Phesdo acquired the lands of
Balnakettle; but that connection no longer exists. A cadet of the Phesdo
family, Robert Falconer, occupied the Broadlands, [The Broadlands or
Boardlands, now part of Mill-of-Kincardine farm, were so named from their
supplying in part the royal table.] and, in 1746, removed to Balnakettle.
His wife was Jean Hutcheon, and their son John succeeded. By his wife Janet
Niddrie [Their initials may be seen cut in a stone, the base of their
sun-dial, carelessly built a few years ago into the wall of an outhouse at
Balnakettle.] he had a family of five sons and two daughters. Their daughter
Elizabeth became Mrs Stewart of Ballaterich, Deeside; and Nancy, Mrs Watt,
Waterhead. Their sons were James and John of Balnakettle, and after 1856, of
Arnbarrow; George, a West Indies planter; Robert, tenant of East Mains; and
Alexander of Bogendollo. His son is John, minister of Ettrick, now retired
and residing in Edinburgh.
The Duries are now all gone
from the parish. They were the hereditary dempsters or doomsters of the
lords of Edzell. They had a free grant of the lands of Duray-hill, and
designed themselves of that Ilk. In later times Thomas Durie was tenant of
Capo, and his son Charles farmed Capo and Dalladies, and died in 1862. He
was long an auctioneer and land valuator, as remarkable for integrity of
character as for great good-humour. His eldest son Charles, who succeeded
him in the farms and died in 1869, acted as secretary to the Fettercairn
Farmers' Club, and was highly esteemed alike for kind-heartedness and
general intelligence. A younger brother Alexander was for some time Dean of
Guild at Brechin, while carrying on the business of brewer at the North
Port, where his maternal ancestors had conducted the same trade for 200
years. The youngest brother John held the farms of Dalladies and Capo till
his death in 1877. In the end of last century David Durie was tenant of
Bogmill, and afterwards of Broombank, Glenbervie. His son James, who died in
1854, and grandson David as before stated, were distillers at Fettercairn.
The latter died in March, 1899, at his family residence in Edinburgh. A
younger brother James is a civil engineer in America.
The Strachans, claiming
descent from the family of Thornton, were very numerous during the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and a few, eminent in Church and
State, were connected with Fettercairn. All of the name now in the parish
are the family at the Post Office.
The Wallaces, descendants of
"the Wallace wight," of whom none remain, were also very numerous during the
same period, as tenants of lands on Dalladies and Drum-hendry. George
Wallace in the end of last century was tenant of Harestone, on the brae of
Balfour; and his son George, whose wife was Ann Gibb, farmed Midmains and
reared a large family. His son Patrick Grant held the farm till 1880 and
removed to that of Nether Balgillo, Tannadice. An older son James held a
nineteen years' lease of Balbegno, and left in 1884 for a farm in Sussex.
His sons are, George, a banker in London; James, in Dun-edin; and Robert, a
land steward in England.
The Mackies, originally
Mackays, a Sutherlandshire clan, settled long ago in the parish; but like
others above noticed have all disappeared. A hundred years back John Mackie
farmed Westerton of Balfour. His son John wa& a leading medical practitioner
in Brechin; and another son was James, who farmed Thornyhill from 1836 to
1880. Of his sons, David is a retired banker in London; and John, an
inventive and successful engineer in Reading. A brother of John Mackie,
Westerton, whose name was David, held the farm of Dalally. His son John
emigrated to Australia in 1852, and became the father of a prosperous
family. Another son, Alexander, a successful merchant in Montrose, was for a
term or two its provost. His son is Alexander Mackie, banker, Montrose.
While so many names of long
standing have disappeared, one or two others have flourished—notably that of
Smith. Ten or twelve of this name are householders in the parish, and four
of these rejoice in the name of John Smith. The oldest tenant farmer as to
occupation is John Smith of Balmain. His paternal ancestors were
leaseholders in the parish. John Smith, V.S., is descended of a long line of
the name in the village.
It is curious to find a name
repeating itself after the lapse of two centuries and a half. In the
Edinburgh Commisariot of Testamentary Records occurs the name of Alexander
Don, chapman, Fettercardine, Mearns, 29th Nov., 1608." He is the only Don
ever heard of in Fettercairn, and of him nothing else is known; but the "Man
we know" is Alexander Don, now merchant and banker, Fettercairn.
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