The name Burnett is a variant of Burnard from
the Old English personal name Beornheard. Roger Burnard was established in the lands of
Faringdon in the 13th century and made two grants to the monks of Melrose in his lifetime.
Patrick Burnard also held lands near Gordon in Berwickshire about 1250. Down to the middle
of the 14th century the family owned Faringdon in the county of Roxburgh and continued to
figure prominently among the benefactors of Melrose Abbey and in 1296 William de Faringdon of Roxburgh paid homage to Edward I. Alexander Burnard or Burnett may have
belonged to this family but as a supporter of King Robert the Bruce, he went north in his
train and received charters of the lands of Drum and the Barony of Tulliboyll in
Kincardinshire. His great-grandson, Robert was the first designated "of Leys" in
1446 and his descendant, Thomas was created a baronet of Nova Scotia in 1626. The seat of
the chief is at Crathes Castle on the north of the River Dee in Kincardineshire which was
founded in 1533 at the site of the "lake dwelling" that the family had occupied
previously. The castle took 40 years to build and retains the traditional L-shaped form.
In the main hall one can see the celebrated "Horn of Leys". The horn was
employed in early days to mark the handing over of lands and the one present at Crathes is
said to have been a gift of King Robert the Bruce. The Burnets of Barns gave their name to
Burnetland in the parish of Broughton and claim descent from Robertus de Burneville who
lived in the reign of David I (1124-53) ; however, this claim has not been substantiated.
BURNETT: Of Anglo-Saxon origin, this name comes from 'Beonheard', a personal name which became 'Burnard', later 'Burnett'. Robert Burnard had settled in Teviotdale, Roxburghshire by the 12th century, and when a member of the family went North with Robert I (Bruce) he was given lands as keeper of the Forest of Drum. From this time the family heirloom, the 'Horn of Leys' (his 'badge of office') dates. Their earliest dwelling was on an artificial island in the Loch of Leys, and continued service to the Crown gained them the free barony of Banchory from James III, and later, through high church connection and marriage, they obtained substantial lands, once the property of Arbroath Abbey. Crathes Castle was begun in the 16th century and took 40 years to complete due to the family's involvement in various affairs in the reign of Mary Queen of Scots. Those who remained in the Borders founded the families of Burnetland and Barns while, from the Leys family, descended the Houses of Kemnay, Craigmyle, Elrick and Caskieben, as well as the legal dynasties of Crimond and Monboddo. Thomas Burnett of Leys was created a baronet of Nova Scotia by Charles I, but the family remained firm supporters of the Covenant, and were respected by both sides in the Wars which followed. They retained similar respect in the Jacobite risings. Sir Thomas (3rd Bt.) sat in the last Scottish Parliament and was opposed to the Union of 1707, and when the 5th Baronet died in 1759 a inheritance feud erupted and endured for 7 years before it was resolved in favour of Burnett of Criggie. Criggie's 2nd son acquired the Ramsay of Balmain inheritance, giving rise to the claim that the present Balmain line may have a claim to the dormant Leys Baronetcy, which may only pass in the male line.