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The Scottish Nation
Auchinleck


AUCHINLECK, a surname derived from lands of that name. Auch, sometimes ach, its diminutive auchin and augmentative avoch, occurs frequently alone, as also in composition, in names of lands. It implies an elevation, but in a relative sense only. In valley lands near the mouths of rivers, where the plane is intersected by channels of deep watercourses, the auchin or haughs are the separated and higher portions of that plane; as the Haughs of Cromdale in the valley of the Spey; and being heavy clays, are generally very fertile, On hill-slopes auchin or haughs are more level portions or banks; as Auchinross or Rosehaugh in Avoch, Ross— shire. The augmentative avoch refers to continuity as well as elevation; as in the parish of that name, where a deep alluvial soil is furrowed into a high parallel flat ridge of some miles long by dividing streams. The plural is Auchen, frequently corrupted into Auchens. These and their genitives Auchie— augle-i and Auchenie, occur as surnames, from lands so called. They both enter into topographical combinations, as Auchen— denny, Auchen-den-i, haughs of the den,—abbreviated into Denny, also a sirname, — whose undulating lands are cut through by deep dens or stream beds; Craig-al-achie, the rock of the haugh or ach, through which the Spey has cleft a passage for itself; and others of similar formation. Aughter, augle - ter, is applied to the upper and higher portions of river basins where the affluents are numerous and their bed valleys wide and deep worn. It means high lands, but in a sense not identical with mountainous. The aughter in Aughterarder is derived from the dividing ridge, or plane of the original bed of the basin, lying between the valleys of the Ruthven and the Earn. Aughter, sometimes Ochter, having in composition given names to baronies, has, again, become a part of various surnames. Augh, or och, is the Gothic root of the German Hoch, and under this form is found in Continental topography wherever the Gothic races held rule. It becomes Hock in English topography. It has been claimed as Gaelic, and is certainly used by a Gaelic-speaking population as a descriptive name in regions now inhabited by them. But their explanations of its meaning are unsatisfactory, and having been introduced into the parochial statistical accounts, are followed in works on topography, so that auch is rendered a field, a height, or a ridge, as appears to suit the locality. Leck or Lyke is the Gothic word for dead, as in Lykewake, the watch of the dead, Cromlech, the circle of the dead, and in this word is applied in the sense of barren, sterile, as in the dead sea. The barony of that name in Ayrshire is an upland flat lying between the valleys of the waters of Ayr and Lugar, which flow in parallel directions so closely approximating to each other that in sixteen miles of length it has never more than two of breadth, with a moss in a great part of its centre. Lech, Lach, or Lake, is sometimes duplicated with the Latin mort, as Mort— lech, in Aboyne, the sterile land; Mortlach, in Moray, the place of battle; and its genitive Leckie is also a surname.

      The Gaelic definition, "field of the flagstones," is simply absurd. There is not a flagstone in the parish or barony; and the name was bestowed before the subdivision of land into fields was known. The name is often pronounced and sometimes written Affleck.

      The lands of Auchinleck in the parish of Monikie, Forfarshire, appear to have given origin to the surname at an early period. Two rivulets running parallel in deep dens through a valley at a level of 300 feet, yet near the sea, leave between them a flat auchin or elevated stripe on which stands the old tower or castle of Affleck, somewhat more than a mile from the parish church, a beautiful specimen of its class, entire although long uninhabited, and since 1746 has been used for purposes connected with agriculture. It still serves as a mark for mariners, These lands were bestowed by charter from David I. The office of armour—bearer to the Lindsays, earls of Crawford, was hereditary in the family of Aucliinleck of that ilk. (Lives of the Lindsays, vol. i. p.114, note.) They became the property of a family of the name of Reid, which was attainted for being engaged in the rebellion of 1745. The castle and a large part of the estates were then purchased by Mr. James Yeaman, one of the bailies of Dundee, from the representatives of whose descendant, they were acquired by Mr. Graham of Kincaldrum, in whose possession they still remain. In the year 1733, Thomas Reid of Auchinleck, presented a silver communion cup to the kirk-session of Dundee, as recorded in letters of gold on the session-house wall of that time.

      The lands of Auchinleck, in Ayrshire, are known to have given a surname to their proprietors so early as the 13th century. In 1300, the laird of Auchinleck accompanied Sir William Wallace to Glasgow from Ayr, when he attacked and slew Earl Percy. (See WALLACE, Sir William.) The Chartulary of Paisley records a donation from Sir John de Auchinleck, in 1385, of twenty shillings yearly to the abbot and convent of that house, as a compensation for having mutilated the person of one of the monks. Thomas Boswell, a younger son of Boswell of Balmuto in Fife, having married one of the daughters and co-heiress of Sir John Auchinleck of that ilk, received in 1504 a grant of these lands from James the Fourth. This Thomas Boswell, who fell at Flodden, was the ancestor of the present possessor. The family of Boswell of Auchinleck has acquired celebrity in several of its members. (See BOSWELL, surname of.) There was another family of Auchinleck in Perthshire, designed of Balmanno, an Auchinleck having married the heiress of Balmanno of that ilk.


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