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Historic Earls and Earldoms of Scotland
Chapter VI - Earldom and Earls of Findlater, and Seafield
Section IV


EARLY NOTICE OF THE GRANTS—THEIR TERRITORIES—CHIEFS OF GRANT—PATRICK GRANT—JOHN GRANT—SIR DUNCAN GRANT OF FREUCHIE JOHN GRANT OF FREUCHIE JAMES OF FREUCHIE—JOHN OF FREUCHIE—DUNCAN GRANT—JOHN OF FREUCHIE LANDS OF ROTHIEMURCHUS SIR JOHN OF FREUCHIE—JAMES GRANT OF CARRON—DEATH OF SIR JOHN.

THE Grants appear in the national records about the middle of the 13th century. They do not claim a Celtic origin, though they became a great clan; and they were at one time or other associated with many of the Highland clans.

Sir Laurence the Grant and Sir Robert Grant appear as witnesses to a deed dated 1258. Sir Laurence the Grant was Sheriff of Inverness in 1263, which then embraced an extensive and important jurisdiction, including the counties of Inverness, Ross, Sutherland, and Caithness. He was also Baillie of Inverquoich; and in 1266 he rendered an account for it to the Crown.

The Grants have been connected with Strathspey for a period of over six centuries, and it was and still is their main district. Yet it was not in Strathspey that the Grants first appeared in Scotland. So far as has been ascertained, their original possession was Stratherrick, a district in Inverness-shire, lying on the south-eastern side of Loch Ness. In 1357 Patrick Grant was Lord of Stratherrick, and probably it had been possessed by his grandfather, Sir Laurence Grant, Sheriff of Inverness. The lands of Stratherrick continued in the possession of the Grants till 1419, when they passed into the hands of the Frasers.

In the reign of Robert I. John Grant had acquired possession of the lands of Inverallan, in Strathspey, the first territory which the Grants obtained in this region. And gradually by grants from the Crown, by purchase, and in other ways, they acquired possession of the greater part of the lands in Strathspey—from Laggan, to a considerable distance beyond lower Craigellachie, which stands near the confluence of the Fiddoch with the Spey. Upper Craigellachie marks the boundary between Badenoch and Strathspey, and was the meeting-place for the Clan Grant in time of war. The war-cry of the clan was—" Stand fast, Craigellachie"; and the onset of Craigellachie was not easily withstood.

Sir Duncan Grant was called Laird of Freuchie in a precept addressed to him on the 31st of August, 1453, touching the infeftment of John Hay in certain lands in the earldom of Moray. He was the first Grant called Laird of Freuchie, and his successors became the recognised chiefs of Grant. He was a man of energy and ability, and extended the possessions of the family.

He married Muriel, a daughter of Malcolm, tenth chief of the Mackintoshes, by whom he had issue, one son and two daughters. His eldest daughter, Catherine, married Lachlan Mackintosh of Badenoch, and had issue. Muriel married Patrick Leslie of Balquhain, and had issue.

Sir Duncan Grant died in 1483, and was succeeded by his grandson, John Grant of Freuchie. He was an able and determined man, and played his part well for a period of 43 years.

He was on intimate terms with the second and third Earls of Huntly, and had several transactions with them touching the lands of Urquhart and Glenmoriston, in Inverness-shire, and other matters.

In January, 1494, he resigned all his lands into the hands of the king, who regranted them to him and his heirs, incorporating them all into a barony, to be called the Barony of Freuchie. On the 8th of December, 1509, James IV. granted a charter of the lands and barony of Urquhart and Glenmoriston, to John Grant, laird of Freuchie, and his sons.

He married Margaret Ogilvie, a daughter of Sir James Ogilvie of Deskford, in 1484, by whom he had two sons and five daughters. His daughter Anne married Hugh Fraser, Master of Lovat; Agnes married Donald Cameron, the chief of Clan Cameron.

John Grant, second laird of Freuchie, died in May, 1528, and was succeeded by his son James, third laird. He also extended the family possessions.

He married twice, his first wife being a daughter of John, sixth Lord Forbes, and his second was Christina Barclay, and by these wives he had four sons and five daughters. He died on the 26th of August, 1553, and was succeeded by his eldest son John, fourth laird of Freuchie.

On the 30th of October, 1554, he was appointed baillie of the Abbey of Kinloss, an office which his father had held. He was present at Holyrood with the Earl of Huntly on the night of the 9th of March, 1566, when David Rizzio was slain. He joined Queen Mary’s party after her flight into England, and acted with the Earl of Huntly. In 1569 he received from the Earl of Huntly a gift of the Abbey of Kinloss, with all its pertinents.

He married, first, Lady Margaret Stewart, a daughter of John, third Earl of Athole, on the 19th of February, 1539; and, secondly, he married Lady Janet Leslie, a daughter of the Earl of Rothes, and by his two marriages he had two sons and seven daughters.

His eldest son, Duncan Grant, married Margaret, daughter of William Mackintosh of Dunnachton, by whom he had issue, five sons and two daughters. In 1578 Duncan Grant acquired the lands of Ardneidlie, Corsairtly, and Cowperhill, in the parish of Keith. He died at Abernethy in the spring of 1582, and was interred in the family vault at Duthil.

John Grant died on the 3rd of June, 1585, at Ballachastell, and was interred at Duthil. He was succeeded by his grandson, John Grant (son of Duncan, noticed above) fifth Laird of Freuchie.

The possession of the lands and barony of Rothiemurchus had long been a matter of dispute between the Mackintoshes and the Grants. On the 14th of June, 1586, the Laird of Mackintosh entered into an agreement with the Laird of Freuchie, by which Mackintosh resigned all rights he had to the lands and barony of Rothiemurchus; and he also became bound to assist in guarding the lands of Urquhart, Glenmoriston, and other lands belonging to the Grants, against the raids of the Clan Cameron, Clan Donald, or others. On the other hand, the Laird of Freuchie undertook to infeft Mackintosh in certain lands in Lochalsh and Kessoryne, and in the castle of Strome, with office of constable, which had come into the possession of the Lairds of Freuchie. The Laird of Freuchie further undertook to uphold the Laird of Mackintosh in peaceable possession of Lochaber against the Clan Cameron and all others, excepting the King and the Earl of Huntly.

John Grant greatly extended the territory of the family. In 1606 he acquired the lower portion of the lordship of Abernethy from George, First Marquis of Huntly, by exchanging for it the lands of Blairfindy and others in Strathavon. And in 1609 he made arrangements with the Earl of Moray, by which he obtained a charter of the lands and lordship of Abernethy, and in return for it paid the earl a sum of money. The same year he purchased the lands and barony of Cromdale from Thomas Nairn.

He married Lady Lilias Murray, a daughter of Sir John Murray of Tullibardine, by whom he had a son and four daughters. Agnes was born in 1594; she married Sir Lachlan Mackintosh of Dunnachton, and had issue. Her tocher was 10,000 merks. Jean married William Sutherland of Duffus, and had issue. Lilias married Sir Walter Innes of Balveny, and had issue.

The laird died on the 20th of September, 1622, and was interred at the Church of Duthil. He was succeeded by his only son, Sir John Grant, sixth laird of Freuchie. He was born on the 17th of August, 1596.

In his time there was often strife and disorder in the north, and Sir John was frequently involved in these troubles. He was convener of the Justices of the Peace in the counties of Inverness and Cromarty, and he was also sometimes entrusted with special and general commissions of justiciary in his own and other districts. He exerted himself to keep order in his own territories.

But one of his own clan, James Grant of Carron, locally called James an Tuim (of the Hill), was an extremely turbulent character. His acts of violence caused much trouble to Sir John Grant. At last James an Tuim was captured, conveyed to Edinburgh, and imprisoned in the Castle. His trial, however, was postponed for some time, and one night he made his escape from Edinburgh Castle, and returned to Strathspey. He was proclaimed an outlaw, and great efforts were made to capture him dead or alive. He committed more deeds of violence, and eluded all the attempts to capture him. Eventually, through the influence of the Marquis of Huntly, James an Tuim obtained a remission of all his crimes from Charles I. in 1639, and afterwards he entered the service of the Marquis against the Covenanters.

Sir John Grant married Mary, a daughter of Sir Walter Ogilvie of Findlater, and afterwards Lord Ogilvie of Deskford, by whom he had seven sons and three daughters. His eldest daughter Mary married Lord Lewis Gordon, afterwards third Marquis of Huntly, and had issue, George, who was created first Duke of Gordon, and two daughters.

In March 1637, he went to Edinburgh, and on his arrival he was imprisoned on a charge of not pursuing the Clan Gregor, but shortly after he was liberated. He died at Edinburgh on the 1st of April, 1637, and was interred in the Chapel of Holyrood.


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