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The Parish of Longforgan
Chapter VII. A Longforgan Laird in the Seventeenth Century


"I doe admyre him, for his gifts most rare,
Which few can paralell, nor yet compare."

One 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.

It is 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.

The 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 debt." Cf. (Jamieson Dictionary.) It says much for the earl.that, by care, he wiped off more than half of this debt.

The 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."

Lord 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."

But a 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."

A 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.

About 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."

The 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.

The 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.

Lord 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 fashionable."

Under 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.

A 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."

The 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.

There 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 and 4.30—the 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."

Of 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."

Some 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."

It 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.

And 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.

For fuller information about Earl Patrick, see The 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.

Some 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.


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