Parish of Longforgan
Chapter VII. A
Longforgan Laird in the Seventeenth Century
admyre him, for his gifts most rare,
Which few can paralell, nor yet compare."
day, early in June 1660, a tiny barque might have been seen entering the
port of Dundee. It had come from St. Andrews. Its freight was humble.
Part of it was the bed of a student of the University, not yet out of
his teens, who had just gone for the first time, a day or two before, to
his ancestral home at Castle Lyon. Things, there, were in a sad plight.
There was not "so much as on bed to ly doune in," and the young laird,
the third Earl of Kinghorne, had to borrow one from the minister of
Longforgan till his own should come from St. Andrews.
difficult for us, looking at the appointments of the castle to-day, to
conceive the cheerless lot of the laird. The castle was two hundred
years old. A good deal had been done for it, but it was a bleak house
for the young laird who entered it on the 30th May 1660. The picture
that he draws of his surroundings, both within and without, is pathetic.
The garden was a marsh. The barns and byres were without a tenant, nor
were some of them fit to hold anything. The offices at the barns were
"no better then a company of small and naughtie cottar houses," ugly
cottages, built of earth, for whose yearly repair, he tells us, a great
deal of good pasture ground was continually wasted. "The pend and entrie
hard by it was a quagmire, as the most part of the enclosed ground
besouth it was, the middows an open and common pasture, so that before
my time it was not known what the mawing of grass or use of hay was att
that place." Inside, the laird found nothing but bare walls, nothing of
the comfort which we associate with a castle.
causes of this desolation were many. 1 he young lord was eighteen. His
father had died when he was four. Like some other noblemen of the day,
his father was a Covenanter, and for propagating the good cause, as his
son somewhat sarcastically describes what, being a Royalist and
Episcopalian, he looked upon as " the rebellious Covenant," had involved
himself in an outlay of something like 40,000 merks, on several
expeditions and in the purchase of arms. In addition to this, Cromwell,
enraged at the line his father took, imposed a fine of .£1000 upon the
estate. According to the young lord, also, his father was too trustful
of men. He lent money, and became cautioner for persons who failed him
sadly. His servants, also, out of vanity, and from a mistaken desire to
magnify their master, had entered the value of the estate above its
worth, which, in a time when public burdens were heavy, and levies were
being called for, was a source of misfortune. What with one thing and
another, the debt which his father left behind him amounted to £400,000,
This, at six per cent, of interest, was a crushing burden. Indeed,
nearly the whole of the estate was mortgaged, so that, speaking of "Old
Glammis," he says with sorrow: "For the first three years of my life, wch
1 only reckon since the year 1660, I could not endure almost to come
near to, or see it, when the verie Mains was possessed by a wedsetter."
(A wadsetter is the creditor to whom the wadset or "legal deed by wlvch
a debtor gives his lands, or other heritable subjects, into the hands of
his creditor, that the latter may draw the rents in payment of the
(Jamieson Dictionary.) It says much for the
earl.that, by care, he wiped off more than half of this debt.
laird's mother had lost her husband early, and had married again. He may
have had a legal right, but her second husband practically emptied
Castle Lyon, and when the young lord came to it there was not, as he has
told us, a bed on which to lie, and he had to buy back the furniture of
a room from his stepfather, "att a deere enough rate, and a dusone of
spoons, and a salt att 3 lib. the ounce, whereupon my father's and
mother's name were."
Kinghorne says with not a little bitterness: "I was not so much spoil'd
by them (English garrison) as I was by my owne father-in-law "
(stepfather) ; and adds, what we can now better understand, "I had a
verie small and a verie hard beginning."
good brave heart beat in the breast of the young St. Andrews' student,
and though but seventeen years of age, he set himself with courage to
rebuild what had been broken, on the principles of just and equal
dealings with men. Besides himself, and perhaps a servant, there was no
one in the gloomy fortalice, and the only company he had was that of a
little dog, "that I keeped att, and brought with me from St. Andrews."
Some of his peeps are quaint, but none is more so, nor more suggestive
of his desolate surroundings than this. At the midsummer market he
bought three horses. Till then, there was not a four-footed beast about
the place, except his dog. A little furniture had been left at Glamis
after the English were gone, so the " horses went from the Cars to bring
it, for att Glammiss I could command no carrieges, all there about being
wedsett; amongst other things which cam from thence were some old potts
and pans qch were verie usefull, so within few dayes I gott
two rowmes more dressed up, as a begers cloak consists of many cluts of
divers colors, so my furniture was verie disagreeable."
fresh brightness dawned when his sister came to the castle. The two of
them were young, but "her companie was of great comfort." They consulted
and planned together, and in two years' time they had got together " as
much of cours furniture as in a verie mean and sober way filled all the
rowms of my house, some on way, some another." His sister was clever
with her fingers, and under her manipulation, with a little pewter, two
suite of arras hangings, and some linen from England, and a few odds and
ends, the castle became more homelike.
this time, still another influence came to brighten it. This was his
marriage. Lord Kinghorne's bride was a daughter of the Earl of
Middleton. Than a bride from this home, nothing could have seemed less
promising. The earl had risen from being a pikeman in Hepburn's Regiment
to a position of supreme power in Scotland. No one lived more
splendidly, and none more recklessly than he. But Lady Helen, who
married Lord Kinghorne in 1662, rewarded him with a constant affection.
She entered with spirit into his plans and trials, and seconded his
efforts. The Book
of Record, in which he tells us all this, is
full of the most hearty appreciation of Lady Helen. He tells with a glow
of pride how, when he went to Castle Lyon to put things in order as best
he could for her coming, his young wife thought it long enough. In his
own quaint way he tells us of a surprise he prepared for her: "Att that
same time also I caused bring home a verie fin cabinet, the better was
not in the kingdome in these days, which I never told my wyfe of till
her coming home, and upon her first comeing into her owne chamber I
presented her with the keyes of the Cabinet." Twenty-five years after,
he is as enthusiastic as ever about Lady Helen. "I have reason," he
writes, "dayly to adore and magnify the name of my God, who out of his
infinit goodness to me, more than I deserve, and to my family, has blest
me with good and vertewous sons and daughters, of good dispositions and
frugall and moclerat as much as my heart can desyre. Blessed be he who
has made me happy by them, and make me thank-full and exemplar to them
in what is good. Nor can I deny the great advantage I have by their
mother, who's care has been of her children, and to stay at home and
guide w'in the house her part." Elsewhere he says of his marriage, "It
has been verie successful."
picture of their home love is as pleasing as can be. When his eldest son
was abroad, the earl says that his return would be almost as joyful to
him as his birthday was; and all the glimpses we get of the home life,
the money arrangements with his wife, his wish to teach his daughter "a
little management, and to know the species of money," smaller details,
like the buying of sweetmeats at the marriage of his niece, make up a
picture that lingers gratefully in the memory.
earl had a passion for building. The countess was a shrewd, practical
woman. He tells us naively how she induced him to make his constant
abode at Castle Lyon longer than he had intended, "till she gott
together some things necessary to be had before we could think of
comeing to Glammiss," for she "considered that nothing contributs so
much to the destruction and utter ruine of furniture than the
transporting of it." So here they stayed quietly the first ten years of
their married life, trying to get together what would entirely furnish
the house, and "were as much strangers to Old Glammiss as if it had not
been." During these years his wife saw Glamis but once.
Kinghorne is a fine type of one of those who facilitated the passage
from the ruder ways of warfare to a gentler social life. Castle Lyon
seemed to him, at first, like a prison. He wanted every person who had
such houses to reform them, and describes himself as much addicted to a
general reformation, and as one who had "not a little propagate that
humour in the cuntrie where I live." His first efforts were directed to
Castle Lyon. His idea was to live at it in summer, and at Glamis in
winter. A single extract will show what had to be done, and what he did.
"The house itselfe was extreamly cold, and the hall was a vault out of qch
since by the stricking thereof I have gained the rowmes immediatly now
above it, no access there was to the upper part of the house without
goeing thorrow the hall, even upon the most undecent occasions of
Drudgerie unavoidable, to be seen by all who should happne to be in that
rowme, nor was there any other to reteir to, till the rowme wch
is off it was changed as it now is, for all that time it was not above
fourteen feet broad." The earl had stairs and rooms hewn out of the
solid wall, other accommodation was added, windows were put in, and as
the old furniture did not suit the new rooms, it was taken to Glamis, "a
place not easie to be filled," new things were bought for Castle Lyon,
so that "att this day it stands compleitly furnished and verie
the inspiring hand of Lord Kinghorne the castle became quickly a busy
centre of life. The laird was interested in everything; in the church,
in which, as a heritor, he had a large say; in the people of the
Churchtown; in his tenants and neighbours. He had rather a poor opinion
of the people at the outset. They were at the time of his entry
"generally ill payers." This was neither owing to their own poverty nor
to the poverty of the land, but to the fact that the tenantry at that
time "were a race of evill doers, desolate fellowes, and mislabourers of
the ground." His picture of his father's servants, whom he describes as
all libertines, is not more complimentary. But his own keen sense of
justice, his watchful eye, his love of work, did wonders. He had plenty
of work to give in the fields about the castle, which even then yielded
a larger variety than any other part of his domain. A little army of
workmen was kept going constantly. There were four masons steadily
working at the castle, and often he had more. Then there were painters
(two English women painters did some of his work), and plasterers,
slaters, thatchers, glaziers, wrights, etc. Byres and sheep-cots were
erected and put in repair, wood was planted, enclosing walls were built.
Instead of empty barns and offices, he soon had at Castle Lyon a "verie
considerable stock of corn and cattel wch would aryse to a
great soume of money." At Castle Lyon and Glamis there were about a
hundred oxen for ploughing and work, besides cows and young cattle.
Beside the little dog that kept him company at St. Andrews, there were a
number of hounds, and his horses were increasing. What with all this,
the payment of accounts, the disposal of crops, the superintendence of
improvements, the earl had a busy time. Now and then a barque might be
seen at the Burnmouth of Invergowrie
with coals for the castle. The payment of these had to be attended to.
Another time his horses might be seen crossing to Glamis. In his own way
the earl was a bit of a merchant. He had a share (I) in a Dundee ship
called the Lyon,
which carried grain, and brought amongst other things wood. He sent some
of it once on his "own adventure to Norroway." In another place he tells
us of chartering a ship called the
Providence of Dundee, to carry his bear and
pease to Dunkirk, and perhaps French wines would be brought in return.
No doubt it was owing to the energy of Earl Patrick that, in 1691,
Longforgan and Baledgarno were reported by the Visitors of the Royal
Burghs as trading with Dundee to the value of £3000. Perth reported
Longforgan as trading to the value of £1000 in the same year.
good many local names, both of persons and places, occur in his
Record\ viz. Ranken who was intruded into
Benvie, Carstairs the minister of Inchture, and Nicolson of Errol,
Forrester of Millhill, Ogilvy of Templehall, "his nyebour Monorgon,
Moreis of the Raws, Ogilvy of Trottock, . . . Bulien, the Knap,
Lawriestone, Dron, the Byreflat in Longforgan, the Burnmouth of
Invergowrie, Benvie, Fowlis, Millfeild."
lairds of those days were certainly not faultless. The tone of some of
them was anything but high, and their dealings with one another were not
marked always with fairness.
are fewer peeps than we could have wished of the village life. It is
Earl Patrick who is supposed to have erected the cross which used to
stand in the village, but is now within the private grounds of the
castle. He built also several gateways between the village and the
castle. He named one Port-Patrick after himself, which came to be
corrupted into Port-Patience. This is the handsome gateway at the
entrance to the grounds. The church is mentioned several times, and he
did much to improve it. There were three "Brewars" in the town—John
Lyon, Alexander Watsone and Thomas Davie. Thomas Davie seems to have
been the chief. It was his house that the earl's masons haunted. John
Lyon sold the laird a horse for his stone cart for £53, 6s. 8d. During
the better half of the year, work began at 5 in the morning and ended at
7 in the evening. There was a pause for breakfast between 8 and 9, for
dinner between 12 and 1.30, and for the "four-hours' drink" between 4
afternoon tea of those days. In some cases,
besides, there was the morning drink. Lord Kinghorne was opposed to it.
"I chuse much rather to pay a very full and competent pryce to all kind
of work men then to be. in use of waisting meall and malt and allowing
them morning drink and four hours wf was the custom long ago; but that I
have worn it out of use, finding too, tho' it was much, yet these kind
of cattell being in use of it, considered it very little."
rent, only a small part was paid in money, most being paid in kind. It
was sometimes paid in labour. Andrew Wright, for instance, who held the
Byreflat at Longforgan, paid it by doing wright-work at Castle Lyon and
Glamis. Wages were usually paid in money and meal. The earl both liked
to give and get a bounty besides. He mentions a slater, who, for "thieking
the new byres and sheep cott att my barns of Castle Lyon," got, besides
his due, 3 bolls, 1 f. 2 p. meall of bounty. His "mawers" at the castle
got bounties also. What he gave, he liked to get. He speaks of a bit of
wall which "must be taken down and rebuild by them in bounty to me."
of his views and reflections on work and workmen are curious. "I hold it
as a rule to agree w* workmen, so as not to have the trouble of feeding
them, for in some cases, if they know off no employ elsewhere, they
prolong the work for the benefit of having their meat bound to their
mouth. . . . And ev'ne of masons and wrights, wher a man has much adoe,
it is expedient to have a headsman over the rest, who must also have
something of this nature done to them. Tho' ev'ne it's frequently losed
that is done that way, for they are apt enow to receive the favour \vlout
any rebatement of the pryce of ther work. And the only way not to be
cheated is to have no work." Now and then, the earl rebelled at the
charges that were made. He delayed paying his tailor on one occasion, on
account of the exorbitance of the price. Another debt due to his saddler
was not cleared for some time, "by reason of the rudness and importunity
of the sadler." Even of worthy Andrew Wright he writes in one place, "I
wonder he is not ashamed"; and Robert Stratone the apothecary comes in
for this blow —"Such accts are ridiculous, and I pray God help them who
have occasione to be much in there books, since ther drogs and pastiles
are sett downe under such strange names and unknown marks that they
cannot be weel controlled."
was during Earl Patrick's time that Longforgan was erected into a
barony—the Lordship of Lyon. In 1677 the earl was created first Earl of
Strathmore. Other honours followed. He was made a member of the Privy
Council in 1682, and an Extraordinary Lord of Session in 1686. (Judges'
gowns were costly and rare. "The late Argyles was sold be his son
Charles to my Lord Strathmoir." Cf.
Letter; 1693.) The earl was a keen Royalist
and an Episcopalian. He led the militia of Angus to the west, on the
outbreak of Argyles rebellion.
his name stands along with that of Sir George Kinnaird and others, on
many of those cruel documents that told so hardly on the Covenanters.
(Cf. for Strathmore's name,
Commission for raising the Highlanders (the
Highland Host), 1677;
Letter to the King anent Lord Cardross, 1680,
etc.) He found it difficult to fall in with the new regime of the Prince
of Orange. With several other noblemen, he was anxious to resist it. But
everything, as he says, succeeded with the Prince to a miracle, and so
he found it wise to yield to the new order. His share in these
transactions is regrettable, but they brought their own misfortunes to
him. Hopeful at one time "to hough Melvill, and defeat all his
Presbiterian projects," he finally took the oath of allegiance to the
king. Unhappily, "his Book of Record" closes about this time. He lived
on four or five years, but except through an occasional glimpse, we can
say little of one who, during thirty years, stands out so picturesquely
in the life of Longforgan.
fuller information about Earl Patrick, seeThe Glands Book of Record,
1684-1689, edited from the Original MSS. at Glamis, by A. H. Millar,
F.S.A., Scot, for the Scottish History Society.
The Book of Record is full of interesting
personal details. Its value is much enhanced by Mr. Millar's
Introduction and Notes.
curious side-lights on the life described by Earl Patrick may be got in
a poem by W. Lithgow —
Scotland's Welcome to her Native Sonne and Soveraigne Lord\ King Charles,
published fifty years before
The Book of Record, in 1633. Amongst other
things it sings of the decay of good housekeeping, the want of planting,
the decay of schools and churches, the scarcity of small moneys, the
ruin of castles, brokers, usurers, witches, vagabonding Greeks,
suretyship, valuations, lawyers, spendthrift lairds, tenants, leases,
the hurt of youth, the wrong use of tithes, etc.
This comment system requires
you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an
account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or
Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these
companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All
comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator
has approved your comment.