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Lairds and Lands of Loch Tayside
Lawers


THE forty-merk land of Lawers was one of the earliest possessions of the Glenorchy Campbells on Loch Tayside. It was bestowed upon Sir Colin, the first laird, in 1473, by James III. for his zeal in pursuing and bringing to justice the murderers of his unfortunate grandsire, James I. The property had, prior to that, been in the possession of Thomas Chalmers, one of those implicated in the deed.

Sir Colin gave the lands of Lawers, together with the three-merk land of Correquhirk, to his son John, by his fourth wife, Margaret, daughter of Luke Stirling of Keir. The eight-merk land of Shian in Glenquaich was also bestowed on John by his eldest brother, Sir Duncan, who succeeded as second laird of Glenorchy. Sir Duncan, however, retained the superiority of Shian for a time. The Campbells of Lawers afterwards came into other lands, among them being Carwhin and Easter Ardeo-naig on Loch Tayside.

Among the “Landis-lords and Baillies in the Hielands and lies,” in the roll of 1587, we find the laird of Lawers, who was at that time Sir John Campbell. He married Beatrice, daughter of Sir Colin, sixth laird of Glenorchy, by his first wife Margaret Stewart. His second son, Colin, was the founder of the house of Aberuchill, now represented by the Campbells of Kilbryde.

In 1633, when an act for the further suppression of the Macgregors was passed, Sir John Campbell, the then laird of Lawers, was appointed one of the justices for dealing with the “lawless limmers” of that clan. In that year, having previously married the grand-daughter of Hugh Campbell, Sheriff of Ayr, and first Baron Loudon, he was created Earl of Loudon by Charles I., and his younger brother succeeded to the estate of Lawers.

Many of the clan Campbell were killed at Inverlochy, and at the battle of Auldearn in May, 1645, Colonel Campbell of Lawers, who commanded the foot soldiers on the right wing, fell fighting against the Loyalists, while his brother, Archibald, was taken prisoner. In 1650, when Montrose was summoned before the Parliament in Edinburgh, to hear his death-warrant, the Earl of Loudon, who was then Chancellor, no doubt embittered by the knowledge of the injuries done to his own kith and kin by the great Marquis, shewed the greatest enmity towards him, and enumerated one by one his transgressions in a long and vituperative harangue.

In 1678, the laird of Lawers was appointed one of the Commissioners for the county of Perth for the supply of a new and “voluntar offer to His Majesty of eighteen hundred thousand pounds Scots.”

In 1686, Sir James Campbell disposed to the first Earl of Breadalbane the superiorities of the paternal lands in Glenquaich, which included the four-and-a-half-merk land of Turrerich, the four-merk land of Kinloch, the twenty-shilling land of Tirchardy, and the four-merk land of Garrows. Along with them was also disposed the croft in Easter Shian called the Officer’s croft, together with the Laird’s meadow, which had been in 'the occupation of an Andrew Macjock in the commencement of the seventeenth century, and which is known to the present day as Croftmacjock—the forty-shilling land of Easter Shian, by which it is surrounded, having been sold in 1637 by the then laird of Lawers, with consent of his son Mungo, to John Campbell of Edramuckie.

The Campbells of Lawers appear to have severed their connection with Loch Tayside about 1693, when they finally settled at Fordie in Strathearn, an estate long held by them, and which was designated Lawers after their old patrimony.

The residence of the Lawers family on Loch Tayside was situated close to the water’s edge, and a little to the west of the mouth of the burn of Lawers. It was unique in being a double-storied thatched building, but is now roofless and in ruins. The family also had a town house—or “ludging” as it was termed—in Perth, adjacent to the tenement possessed by the lairds of Glenorchy. The last occupant of the house at Lawers was a lady, called in Gaelic, “Baintighearna Lauthair,” and local tradition asserts she was a Stewart by birth, of the Appin branch. She is said to have possessed a wonderful gift of prophecy, and several stories are told in the district of the fulfilment of her predictions.

In 1480, the lands of Lawers were described as comprehending “Lawarmoir, Lawarmanach, Glenlawar Estir and Glenlawar Westir.” Later on the lands were divided as follows:—Easter, Middle and Wester Cloanlawer, Cragganruar, Shenlarich, Mar-ragintrowan, Drumglas, Lurgbuie, Duallin, Lawernacroy, Machuim, Milton or Parks of Lawers, Cuiltrannich, Drimnaferoch, Tomb and Croftintygan. The upper crofts of Cuiltrannich are at present the highest cultivated lands on Loch Tayside. The meal mill of Lawers stands in Cuiltrannich, the school1 in Drimnaferoch, and Tynacroit or Crofthouse in Tomb. A lint mill was formerly wrought here.1 In 1669, a church was erected close by the lochside and near to the house of Lawers. The minister of Kenmore provided service here from time to time for a considerable period,2 but latterly a pastor was placed who had also under his charge the church of Ardeonaig. Sometime prior to 1833, the west loft of the church fell, and the building was abandoned. The present church was then built, and at the time of the Disruption was handed over to the Free Church body. The graveyard of the district—Cladh Machuim—lies on the east side of Lawers burn, on the farm of Machuim. One or two interments are said to have taken place outside the old church, but there are no gravestones to be seen there.

The most, if not all, of the lint mills in Breadalbane, were erected by Hugh Cameron, who was born at Lawers in 1705. He is said to have constructed nearly a hundred mills in different parts of the country, and to have introduced spinning wheels into Breadalbane. He died at the extraordinary age of 112 years.

The ministers of Kenmore appear, as a rule, to have personally conducted the services at Lawers ; but we find that in 1714, the Rev. Alexander Comrie, then parish minister, installed the Rev. Robert Stewart as his vicar there, with power to hold sessions, baptize and marry. He was to keep a register of all he did, and send a scroll to Kenmore, so as not to wrong the clerk, the beadle, and the box (Kenmore Kirk Session Records). Mr. Stewart was for sometime minister of Killin. He was twice married, and died in 1729, leaving by his first wife four sons, James, laird of Killiechassie, Duncan, laird of Blackhall, Alexander, laird of Cloichfoldich, and Robert, laird of Derculich. During the time he was at Lawers, “ he neither kept register or scrolls, and monopolised all the dues payable to the Clerk, Bedal, and Box.” (Scott’s Fasti Ecelesice Scoticance.)

In the middle of last century, the north side of Loch Tay was provided with three public schools, exactly the same number as at present. One was situated at Tomachrocher in Morenish, another on the inarch between Lurgbuie and Drumglas in Lawers, and the third at Boreland in Fearnan. From a report on the state of religion in the Highlands made at the instigation of the General Assembly in 1760, we find the number of scholars attending Lawers school during the winter time was between fifty and sixty, while at Killin there were only thirty-four. The teachers at these two places, in addition to a small sum paid to them out of the Royal Bounty, each received from the Earl of Breadalbane a salary of a hundred merks a year, and were provided with a free house, garden, and fuel.


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