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The Scottish Nation
Abthane


ABTHANE, a title which occurs in Scottish history, and which appears peculiar to Scotland, as no trace of it has been found in any other country. It is a Thanedom or proprietorship of land held of the crown, and in the possession of an abbot. Like a Thanedom also, it is the title of a Saxon proprietor, that is, a proprietor under the Saxon laws, holding direct of the crown, and is therefore exactly equivalent to that of a Norman baron. Three Abthainries only have been as yet traced in Scotland, viz, those of Dull, Kilmichael, and Madderty; the two former in Athol, the latter in Strathearn. Mr. Skene, whose investigations supply the foregoing information, seems to have established that all these three were created between the years 1098 and 1124,—that is, between the accession of Edgar to the throne and that of David I;  that they were all held in connection with the Culdee monks of Dunkeld; that they must have been in possession of an abbot of that monastery; and that the party who then held that dignity, and in whose favour they were created, was Ethelred, youngest son of Malcolm III., who consequently had obtained them from one of his brothers, Edgar or Alexander, the then reigning monarchs of Scotland.

            The fact of the possession of these and other lands in Athol by the then reigning family of Scotland, is one of the many circumstances adduced by this gentleman to demonstrate the descent of Malcolm Ill., and after him a long line of Scottish kings, from the ancient Maormors of Athol, one of the many facts illustrative of early Scottish history for which we are indebted to his careful investigations and ingenious inductions. See ATHOL, EARLS OF. On the death of Ethelred, these lands again reverted to the crown. In various charters so recent as the reign of David II. they are described as the "abthanes of Dull" of "Kilmichael," &c. The second family whose chief obtained the earldom of Lennox appears by an entry in ass early history of the Drummonds to have been previously the hereditary baillies of the abthainries of Doll, and on the promotion of its head to that dignity, that baillierie passed to a younger branch or cadet of it according to Celtic usage.— Skene on the Origin of the Highlanders, vol. ii. pp. 129—137, 152, 153.


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