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The Scottish Nation
Halket


HALKET, a surname generally considered to be derived from the lands of Halkhead in Renfrewshire. In ancient writings, however, it is spelled Haket, Hacat, and Hacet, and a family of a different name have always been in possession of the estate so called. The Halkets of Pitfirrane in Dunfermline parish, were settled in Fifeshire before the fourteenth century. In the reign of David the Second, David de Halket was proprietor of the lands of Lumphennans and Ballingall in that county. He was the father of Philip de Halket, who lived in the reigns of Kings Robert the Second and Third, and acquired the third part of the lands of Pitfirrane fro his cousin, William Scott of Balweary, in 1399. His eldest son, Robert de Halket, was, in 1372, appointed sheriff of Kinross-shire for life. The sheriff’s son, David, the first of the family that can be traced with the designation of Pitfirrane, is mentioned as early as 3d June 1404. He had two sons; James, his successor; and William, who, by his marriage with Janet, daughter and coheiress of Walter Fenton of Balry in Forfarshire, became the progenitor of the Halkets of the north. His grandson, Sir William Halket, received in 1472, a charter under the great seal, of the lands of Peternothy. In 1473, there is a commission by King James the Third to William Halket of Bisset, appointing him justice-clerk, during life, north of the river Forth, and within the lordship of Galloway, Arran, and Cowell; but there is no certainty that he was of this family.

      Sir William’s direct descendant, in the reign of Queen Mary, George Halket of Pitfirrane, had three sons. Robert, the eldest, succeeded him; John, the second, was knighted by King James the Sixth, and entering the army of the States of Holland, rose to the rank of colonel. He had the command of a Scots regiment in the Dutch service, and was likewise president of the grand court marischal in Holland. He was the ancestor of the Halketts in Holland, represented by Charles Craigie Halkett of Hallhill and Dumbarie, Fifeshire. Of the Holland branch was Charles Halkett, who died at his house near the Hague, 16th October 1758, in his 75th year, being then a lieutenant-general, and colonel of one of the Scots regiments in the Dutch service. Appointed an ensign in 1700, he was wounded at the battle of Ramillies in 1706, in which battle also his father, then lieutenant-colonel of Colyear’s regiment, received a dangerous wound, and died at Liege. From this branch also descended Major-general Frederick Halket, who had two sons, who both distinguished themselves in the army, namely, General Sir Colin Halket, K.C.B., and G.C.H., who received a cross for his services as colonel in command of a brigade of the German legion at Albuera, Salamanca, Vittoria, and Nive; and was severely wounded at Waterloo; and General Hugh Halket of the Hanoverian service. Patrick, the third son of George Halket of Pitfirrane, above mentioned, was progenitor of the Halkets of Moxhill in Warwickshire.

      The eldest son, Sir Robert Halket of Pitfirrane, also knighted by King James the Sixth, was served heir to his father in 1595. His eldest son, Sir James Halket of Pitfirrane, appears to have been deeply engaged with the Covenanters in the reign of King Charles the First. In 1649 he was elected M.P. for Fifeshire, and about the same time was employed to examine into the state of the fortifications on the small rocky island of Inchgarvie in the Firth of Forth, nearly opposite his own property. He subsequently raised a regiment of horse, of which he was appointed colonel. He was twice married: first, to a daughter of Sir Robert Montgomery of Skelmorly, by whom he had a son and two daughters; and, secondly, to Anne, daughter of Mr. Thomas Murray of the family of Woodend, and by her had four children. Of this lady, styled, in the courtesy of her da, Lady Anne Halket, and celebrated for her learning, a memoir follows.

      The son, Sir Charles Halket of Pitfirrane, was created a baronet 25th January, 1662. At the Revolution, being then burgess of Dunfermline, he was a member of the famous convention parliament which declared that James the Seventh had forfeited the crown; and in 1689 he was one of the commissioners appointed by the convention to treat of a union with England. On the rising of the Viscount Dundee on behalf of the exiled monarch, Sir Charles put himself at the head of his friends in the counties of Fife and Kinross, on the side of the government, but the death of that nobleman at Killiecrankie, soon after, rendered farther active proceedings unnecessary. His son, Sir James Halket, second baronet, died without issue in March 1705, and in him ended the male line of the Halkets of Pitfirrane. The baronetcy, in consequence, became extinct. He had six sisters, the second of whom, Elizabeth, married Sir Henry Wardlaw of Pitreavie, baronet, and was the authoress of the popular ballad of ‘Hardyknute.’ Janet, the eldest, who succeeded to the estates, married Sir Peter Wedderburne of Gosford, who had been created a baronet in 1697. He was the eldest son of Sir Peter Wedderburne, a lord of session under the title of Lord Gosford. In consequence of this marriage he had his descendants inheriting Pitfirrane were obliged to take the name and arms of Halket. He had four sons and three daughters. The eldest of his sons, Sir Peter Halket, second baronet of Gosford, was member for the Dunfermline burghs in the parliament of 1734. He was lieutenant-colonel of Lee’s regiment at the battle of Preston or Gladsmuir, where Sir John Cope was defeated, in 1745, and was taken prisoner by the rebels, but dismissed on his parole. In February 1746 he was commanded by the duke of Cumberland to rejoin his regiment, on the threat that his commission would be forfeited; but with four other officers, he refused; and their reply, that “his royal highness was master of their commissions but not of their honour,” was approved by government. In 1754, Sir Peter embarked for America, in command of the 44th regiment, and was killed, with his youngest son, James, a lieutenant in the same regiment, in General Braddick’s defeat by the Indians near the river Monongahela, 9th July, 1755, on the first expedition against Fort de Quesne. He had three sons. Peter, the eldest, third baronet, died unmarried in 1779. Francis, the second son, major in the black Watch, had died in 1760, also unmarried; and James, above mentioned. The fourth baronet was Sir John Wedderburne of Gosford, cousin of the third baronet, and son of Charles, the second son of the first baronet. On succeeding to the title and estate of Pitfirrane, he assumed the name of Halket, the estate of Gosford devolving on a younger brother, whose daughter and heiress sold it in 1781, and it is become the property of the earl of Wemyss. The lands of Pitfirrane were valuable principally for the coals produced there, and the family had the right of exporting them to foreign countries free of duty, by the small seaport of Limekilns, belonging to them. The original privilege was renewed by Queen Anne, December 21, 1706, and ratified by parliament March 21, 1707; but in 1788 it was purchased by government for £40,000 sterling, when the property that could injure the revenue was nearly exhausted. Sir John died August 7, 1793. He was twice married. By his 1st wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Andrew Fletcher of Salton, lord-justice-clerk, he had a daughter, Elizabeth, who married the Marquis Lally Tolendal, peer of France. By his 2d wife, Mary, daughter of Hon. John Hamilton, he had, with 3 daughters, 4 sons, 1st, Charles, who succeeded him; 2d. Peter, admiral of the Red; 3d. John, governor of the Bahamas, and first commissioner for West Indian affairs; 4th, Sir Alexander, K.C.H., a general in the army. The latter served at the capture of the French West India Islands in 1794, at St. Domingo till 1796, and was aide-de-camp to Sir Ralph Abercromby at the capture of the Cape of Good Hope in 1804. He died in 1851.

      The eldest son, Sir Charles, 5th baronet, on his death, January 26, 1837, was succeeded by his brother, Admiral Sir Peter, 6th baronet, who died in October 1839. With two daughters, he had a son, Sir John Halket, 7th baronet, commander R.N. Sir John died Aug. 4, 1849, leaving 3 sons and 2 daughters.

      The popular ballad of ‘Logie of Buchan,’ was composed by one George Halket, a schoolmaster at Rathen, in Aberdeenshire, in 1736 and 1737. He was also the author of the well-known Jacobite song of ‘Wirry Whigs awa, man,’ although he fathered it on one William Jack. He died in 1756.

HALKET, LADY ANNE, celebrated for her learning and piety, born in London, January 4, 1622, was the daughter of Robert Murray, Esq., of the family of Tullibardine, preceptor to Charles I. When a boy, and afterwards provost of Eton college, by his wife, Jane Drummond, allied to the noble family of Perth, governess to the duke of Gloucester and the princess Elizabeth. Though London was the place of her birth, her origin, descent, connections, and education were Scottish. She was instructed in every polite accomplishment, and next to divinity, she took great delight in the studies of physic and surgery, to which she was at first led by her charitable disposition. In the latter she acquired great skill, and performed many cures, so that persons came or sent to her from all parts of England and Scotland, and even from the Continent. It was, however, chiefly the poor that she assisted with her advice. On the imprisonment of King Charles, she aided in the escape of the duke of York to the Continent, making the clothes for his disguise, &c., for which, and her known loyalty, after the execution of the king, she was obliged to retire to Scotland, when she resided for some time with the earl and countess of Dunfermline at Dunfermline. When Charles the Second arrived in Scotland in 1650, she had the honour of kissing his majesty’s hand at Dunfermline. On this occasion he thanked her for the service done to his brother, and told her if he ever came to command what he had a right to, there should be nothing in his power he would not do for her. At this time he was profuse in promises, which were never fated to be fulfilled. After the battle of Dunbar she accompanied the countess to Kinross, where she attended about sixty wounded soldiers, dressing their wounds, and giving them all the attention of a regular surgeon. On subsequently going to Perth with the countess, the king, on being informed of what she had done, expressed his thanks to her for her charitable offices, and gave orders for appointing surgeons to several towns; and when he arrived at Aberdeen, he commanded fifty pieces to be sent to her. She and the countess afterwards returned to Fife, where she remained for two years. While there, she also attended some of Cromwell’s soldiers, and availed herself of the opportunity to exhort them to return to their allegiance to their rightful sovereign. On March 2, 1656, she married at London, Sir James Halket, of Pitfirrane, to whom she had four children, who all died young, except one, named Robert. While pregnant with her first child, being apprehensive that she would die in childbirth, she wrote an excellent little tract, entitled ‘The Mother’s Will to her Unborn Child.’

      On the death of Charles the First, she had been deprived of her interest, to the value of £412 sterling yearly, in Barhamstead, a house and park of the king, of which her mother had a lease, having paid a fine for it to the Exchequer, and which had been left to her and her brother, for twelve years of the lease unexpired. She had also received from her mother a bond for £2,000 of the earl of Kinnoul’s, on which she had raised proceedings, but during the commonwealth, her “malignancy,” as adherence to the cause of the king was styled, operated against her obtaining justice. On the restoration she made application to the king for some compensation for the losses she had sustained, but though she received flattering expressions of kindness and favour from Charles and the duke of York, she was not successful in anything she petitioned for. After long attendance and many disappointments, all that she at length obtained was £500 out of the Exchequer, and £50 frm the duke as a gift to one of her children born in London at this time. After her husband’s death in 1671, she removed to a house she had taken at Dunfermline, where she spent the remainder of her life. As her lawsuit and her unbounded charities had involved her in debt, she was obliged, in her latter years, to take the charge of the children of several persons of rank, who were sent to her house to be educated; among them was the son of the lord-advocate of Charles II., Sir George Mackenzie. In 1685, through the influence of the earl of Perth, then chancellor, she received from the king a pension of £100 a-year. Her son, Robert, an officer in the army, died in Holland in 1692. She herself survived her husband 28 years, and died, April 22, 1699. She left no fewer than 21 MS. Volumes, all on religious and spiritual subjects, namely, 5 in folio, 15 in 4to., and only one in 8vo. Of these, her Meditations on the 25th Psalm; Meditations and Prayers, upon the First Week; with Observations on each day of the Creation, and Instruction for Youth, were published at Edinburgh in 1701.


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