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The Parish of Longforgan
Chapter IV. Early Notices of the Land


"The rude forefathers of the hamlet."

"It is for man to tame the chaos; on every side whilst he lives to scatter the seeds of science and of song, that climate, corn, animals, men, may be milder, and the'germs of love and benefit may be multiplied."—Emerson.

Some of the earliest notices of Longforgan connect themselves with the kings of Scotland. There was a royal palace in Dundee, and Alexander the First had another at Invergowrie, perhaps Harley-Hawkin. During the twelfth century there were four royal manors in Gowry. These were—Scone, Coupar, Stratherdel, and Longforgan. Skene is inclined to think that they were royal thanages. He says (Celtic Scotland\ iii. p. 275): "In the reign of Malcolm the Fourth, who confirms the foundation-charter of Alexander the First, we find mention of the four royal manors of Gouerin or Gowry paying ' can ' to the king, and these were Scon or Scone, Cubert or Coupar-Angus, Forgrund and Longforgan, and Stratherdel ; and these appear to have been likewise royal thanages."

But earlier still than Malcolm's day there are interesting traces. Malcolm's grandfather was King David I., the "soir sanct." One of David's gifts to the monks of Scone was half of the skins and the fat of all the beasts killed for the king on his domains north of the Tay.

The Soir Sanct had royal manors in nearly every shire, and amongst other things gifted to Scone was "the tenth of the can of his cheese brought in from his manors of Gowrie, Scone, Cupar, and Forgrund." The amount of cheese made shows that the dairy was then an object of care and a centre of activity. We have some information as to how the royal manors were wrought. It was by their own free tenants and their villeins. When travelling through his kingdom, the king was wont to visit his manors. He did this partly for the purpose of collecting rents, and partly for the purpose of receiving the produce. Whether King David visited Longforgan we cannot say. But it is not unlikely. He used, besides, to go through the land in the interests of justice, and where there was a palace, might be seen listening to the cases of his people. The king had under him two judges, one for the north, the other for the south. Then under these, there were inferior judges, "who borrowed their designations from the district in which they officiated, and were denominated the Judge of Gowry, the Judge of Buchan, the Judge of Strathern, the Judge of Perth (Tytier's History of Scotland, ii. 143).

Reference has already been made to King Malcolm's connection with the place. One of the gifts of his successor, William the Lion, was of lands in Longforgan. William had a brother whom he created Earl of Huntingdon. To this David, Fordun says (ii. 276, Skene's translation), "the late King William,' his brother, after he had been released, and had come back from England, had given the earldom of Huntingdon, to be held of him—likewise the earldom of Garviach, the town of Dundee, the town of Inverbervie, and the lordship of Lanforgonde, together with many other lands " (Lindores, Inchmartin).

One of Earl David's daughters was the mother of Robert the Bruce; and John Baliol, to whose coronation at Scone gentlemen from Gowry went, was his great-grandson. When K'ngf Edward I. of England went from Dundee to Baledgarno in 1296, and again when he marched from Perth to Dundee in 1303, he must have passed through the royal manor of Longforgan. One of the Bruce's acts, not long after, was to take the possession of an English baron named Sir Edmund de Hastings and gift it to the family of Gray. John de Hastings was, it will be remembered, one of those who put in a claim to King Edward along with Bruce and Baliol for a part of the kingdom of Scotland in 1291-92.

There are three interesting charters granted by Bruce of lands in Longforgan. These charters are now in possession of the Earl of Strathinore at Glamis Castle. 'They are given at length in Appendix, Part III., Fourteenth Report of the Historical Manuscripts Commission. Sir William Fraser, who reports upon them, says (p. 174): " The earliest charter, No. 1, in the first section, is granted by Robert Bruce, Earl of Carrick and Lord of Annandale, in favour of Alexander de Keith, of the lands of Longforgan. The charter is undated, but was granted between the years 1295 and 1304. . . . In the year 1315, when Bruce was king, he granted another charter of part of the mill of Longforgan, in favour of Alexander Keith, who is therein named as his ' beloved and faithful.'

"This charter, No. 3, is interesting as showing that at the date of it, 1315, the year after Bannockburn, the resignation of the subjects granted to Keith was made by John Glastreth, the former owner, at Tarbat, near Louchfyne, before many magnates. The king was there on a visit to his Highland home, in his visits to which, we are informed by Barbour, that he followed the example of King Magnus Barefoot of Norway, in being drawn across the isthmus of Tarbert in his galleys.

"A third charter was granted by King Robert Bruce to the same Alexander Keith, again described as ' his beloved and faithful,' No. 4. From that charter it appears that Alexander Keith had no heirs (male) of his body, as the lands were to pass to his daughter Agnes, and William Avenell, styled the king's cousin, and the heirs to be lawfully begotten between them, and failing such heirs, the lands to return to the king. The charter, No. 4, commemorates the presence of the king at Berwick-on-Tweed, which seems to refer to the Parliament or Council held there in November 1324. The fact that Alexander Keith was there in attendance upon the king on important occasions, seems to suggest that he belonged to the royal household. But Keith has not been identified as a member of the ' mighty men of lineage,' as Wyntoun calls them, of that name, who long held the hereditary office of Manschal of Scotland. In the time of Queen Mary, William, the fourth Earl Manschal, possessed landed property extending to 270.000 merks of yearly rent. These lay in so many counties that he could travel from Berwick to the northern extremity of Scotland, eating every meal and sleeping every night upon his own estates."

The year after Bannockburn was thus a memorable one in Longforgan. Keith took the place of Glastreth. It also witnessed the real incoming of the first of the Grays, a family that was destined to play a great part in the life of the district, as well as in the life of the State.

There are several notices in the Register of the Great Seal of grants of land in Longforgan. David II. made a grant in the thirty-eighth year of his reign, " dilecto et fideli nostro Ade Pingle totam terrain de Langforgund," etc. Roger Pyngill was a man of note in Bruce's reign, and received certain lands in Scotland, "pro homagio et servicio suo" for hanself and heirs. David II. confirmed several grants made by Keith the Marischal of Scotland to Adam Pyngill, and one of his own gifts was of land in Longforgan. King Robert II. made a grant to Patrick Gray, another to Alanus de Erskyne, of lands in the barony of Longforgan. One charter of this king has considerable interest. It is a grant to John Lyonn, knight, and besides recalling to us that Randolph of Dundee, knight, once held Kingoodie, and that Gilbert of Monorgan is an ancient name, gives a curious glimpse of Adam Pyngill.

In 1450, James II. confirmed a charter of Patrick, Lord of Glammis, and of the barony of Longforgan, by which he conceded to Thomas Gray "10 libratas terrarum nuncu-patarum Uviryardis de Mounorgunde, in dicta baronia de Langfargunde."

Sixteen years later, James III. confirmed a charter of Lord Gray, by which he sold and alienated to John Stewart of Fertirkil "terras de Killibroath et Disert, in comitatu Atholie, vie. Perth, baronie de Langforgound annexas."

In a charter issued in favour of Lord Gray, the year before, Longforgan is called Forgounde.

James IV. granted still further favours to his counsellor Lord Gray in 1489, "terras de Mylhil, cum molendino ejusdem, et terras de Birflat, infra baroniam de Forgund, vie. Perth."

Six years later, in 1495, the same monarch granted to Robert Lile, son of Lord Lile, amongst other things, "terras de le Mylhil et Byreflat cum molendino earundem, in baronia de Forgund, vie. Perth."

In some respects the most interesting notice of the lands of Longforgan occurs in a charter dated 7th January 1508-9. and granted by iames IV. to Lord Gray, Justiciary of Scotland. It concedes to him, "terras et baroniam de Langforgund. cum dependentiis. tenentibus et tenandriis, viz. terras de Langforgund, Huntlie cum turre et fortalicio, Bulyeoun, Gedpik, Balbunnok, Kingaidy, Ebrukis, Thrissile-holme, Raschycruke, Drone, Knap; Laurestoun, Litiltoun, 12 bovatas terrarum in villa de Inchmartin, terras de Montskeide, Mon-tramyche, alias Disart, et Killebroiche. vie. Perth" ("the lands and barony of Langforgund, with the dependencies, tenants, and tenandnes, viz. the lands of Langforgund, Huntlie, with the tower and fortalice, Bulyeoun, Gedpik, Balbunnok, Kingaidy, Ebrukis, Thrssleholme, Raschycruke, Drone, Knap, Laurestoun, Litiltoun, 12 bovates of lands in the town of Inchmartin, the lands of Montskeide, Montramyche, alias. Disart, and Killebroiche, mi the county of Perth ).

The charter goes on to say that these lands had formerly been held by Andrew Gray from the king, and that in token of his special favour he incorporated them anew into one free barony of Longforgan.

It will be noticed how many of the most familiar names in the parish occur in the charter —Huntly, Bullion, Kingoodie, Dron, etc.

In 1524, James V. granted a charter confirming to the fourth Lord Gray and his heirs the lands and baronies of Langforgund, Fowlis, and Dundee, with the castles of Huntly and Bruchty Craig, etc.

This short sketch may help to remind us of the men who formerly owned and moved in Longforgan. The list includes John Glastreth, Sir Edmund de Hastings, Sir Andrew Gray, Alexander de Keith, Adam Pyngill, Gilbert de Monorgound, Robert Lile, John Lyon, etc., some of them men who stood in the foremost ranks of their country's service.

It is all but impossible for us, in looking abroad on the smiling Carse, to realise the struggles through which we have come to the peace, and the effort through which we have come to the plenty, that prevail. But, every now and then, we get glimpses, as we look back, of days of stern warfare and dire want. Alexander I. is said to have built Baledgarno Castle to suppress thieves. Fordun mentions also how, in 1336, through the ceaseless marauding of both sides — Scotch and English—the whole land of Gowrie, as well as Angus and Mearns, was all but reduced to a hopeless wilderness and pressing want. That there were perils from beasts and robbers in the Carse, the Cupar Register shows. If it is sometimes a bitter cry that comes to us from these times, let us not forget how much we owe to the chivalrous men who, like Gray and Randolph and Keith, fought our battles, and to the unnamed heroes in the Church and in humble life, who fought the soil and tilled what they conquered, and so laid the foundation of a prosperity and a plenty for those who should enter into their labours.


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