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Notes on the Urquharts of Cromarty
From the Transactions of the Gaelic Society


The published pedigree of the Urquharts is unique in Scottish genealogy, because Sir Thomas Urquhart traced his lineage back to Adam, so that no family can ever hope to surpass it in point of antiquity or splendour of descent. There are many who regard the work as a clever satire; they say that a man of Sir Thomas's culture could surely never credit the nonsense he had written. But this is by no means clear; experience proves that in genealogical matters some men possess a faith that is astonishing. In our own unbelieving age we have an instance of this in a recent work upon a Highland clan, where the pedigree is carried back several centuries before the Christian era, local events being brought under notice with a precision that is appalling.

It would be amusing to follow the adventures of the early fathers of the Urquharts, since the day “ when wild armed men first raised Esormon aloft on the buckler throne, and, with clanging arms and hearts, hailed him as fortunate and well-beloved sovereign Prince of Achaia.” He was the fifth in lineal descent from Japhet! These men of the olden time were a nomadic race, bearing uncouth names, and although their historian records their illustrious alliances, and warlike exploits, I fear a recital of their deeds would make some of you exclaim with the famous Panthea—“O Hercules, what is this?” Sir Thomas's list of ancestors betrays a woeful lack of patriotic sentiment; there was only one ‘ Mac ’ in the long line, and it is to be feared Highlanders will not accept the name ‘Machemos’ as another proof of the antiquity of Gaelic. But we must not further pursue these phantoms of Urquhart’s imagination.

The origin of the name Urquhart has been disputed, and until experts are agreed it would be hazardous to advance any theory. The surname is certainly derived from the place-name, which appears on record, in various localities, long before any family adopted it, or ere surnames became common in Scotland. It seems purely Gaelic, and there is some ground for believing that the Urquharts were of native stock— perhaps an offshoot of the once potent Del Ards, reputed ancestors of the Forbeses. The Urquharts and Forbeses claim common descent; the evidence is of course weak, in fact there is none save a curious legend connected with Urquhart Castle. Heraldry, which very often throws light upon obscure points in pedigree, does seem to support the idea of kinship, but there is really nothing to shew that the Urquharts came from the district of Lochness, and the traditional connection between them and the Forbeses is easily explained by the inter-marriage of later date.

Cromarty and its sheriffdom was originally held by the Scoto-Norman family of Monte Alto or Mowatj Sir Thomas Urquhart of course claimed these lairds as ancestors, just in the same way as he ‘ annexed ' that daughter of Pharaoh who found Moses among the bulrushes! One may well question whether the Urquharts were, in any way, descended from the Mowats, who, according to our author, valiantly resisted the English. But records prove that Sir William de Mowat, the last sheriff of his line, was everything but a patriot. He was an English partisan, and held office under Edward I. On this account Sir William probably lost his lands when Sir Robert Bruce was in these northern parts. It is significant that ELing Robert in 1315 conveyed the whole burgh of Cromarty, as well as the sheriffdom, to his brother-in-law, Sir Hugh de Ross (Family of Kilravock, p. 112). It is true that, at a later date, the son and heir of Sir William resigned certain rights in favour of the Urquharts, but his claims were merely formal, and of a very shadowy description.

Sir Hugh, who became Earl of Ross, married the King's sister Maud about 1308, and received grants consolidating his rights in Cromarty. He had, with a son William, afterwards Earl of Ross, a daughter Lilias, who, it is said, married a William de Urchard or Urquhart—practically the first of the family on record. Considering this alliance, William must have been a local magnate of considerable importance, and although identified with Sir William de Mowat, there is nothing to support such a conclusion. William de Urquhart and Lilias, according to the pedigree, had a son Adam, who in 1338 received a charter of the lands of Inchrory from William, Earl of Ross. If so, Adam must have been a mere child at the date of this grant, because his grand-parents were only married after 1308. A curious point arises as to his real name: while Robertson's “ Index ” and “Register of Great Seal ” give it as Adam, it appears as Alexander in the only transcripts of the original charters which we possess. On 6th January, 1349, Adam de Urquhart had another charter from William, Earl of Boss, of the whole davoch lands of Brae, to be held in blench ferm for yearly payment of a pair of white gloves. In an undated charter, W illiam, Earl of Ross, Lord of Skye, conveyed to Alexander de Urquhart, his beloved gentleman and kinsman, the whole burgh of Cromarty, etc., to be held as freely as possessed by the granter’s father (Macfarlane’s Collections, 11, p. 372-3). On the other hand, at intermediate dates, we have, in 1351, Adam de Urquhart as witness to a charter by Hugh, Earl of Ross, in favour of Peter de Graeme, while on 18th November, 1357, there is a charter under the Great Seal of David H. to Ade de Urquhart of the sheriffdom of Cromarty with the court and office of the sheriffdom, proceeding upon a resignation of William, Earl of Ross, and Richard de Mowat, chaplain, the son and heir of Sir William de Mowat (Antiq. and Coll., Aberdeen, 111, p. 526-30). This document indicates when the Urquharts became possessed of the sheriffdom, but there is still difficulty about the order of the succession, for in 1365 Hugh de Ross, Lord of Philorth, granted the lands of Pisherie to Ade de Urquhart, while in 1369 Adam de Urquhart, sheriff of Cromarty, appears with his son John, and is still styled sheriff in 1381-2. These references clearly prove that, unless there is an error in transcription by Macfarlane, the pedigree is faulty, the true succession being William succeeded by Adam, who is followed by Alexander, to whom succeeded Adam, the grantee of 1365. The exact relationship between these persons is not clear, and the point is worthy of attention.

Passing over Sheriffs Adam, John, and Sir William, of whom very little is known, we have a very curious deed concerning a member of the family whose place in the genealogy cannot be fixed. It may be given here as illustrating how the Earl of Ross dealt with an heiress of the olden time. The document, being in the vernacular, has a peculiar interest apart from the subjects conveyed: —

“Be it maid kend till all men be thir present lettres Us Alexander the Earl of Ross, and Justiciar to our Sovereign Lord the Kinge fra the north part of the water of Forth.......

Till haf giffyn to Walter of Urchard our cousin, parson of Kilteam, all the right of the land of Finlay and Rosan within the burgh of Cromarty, and his ousgang of Newaty: Not--againstandan that the foresaid Walter his sister’s docter was .ayr to the foresaid lands, we gif that as af free gift to the said Walter, as throw virtue of our office and throw powar that langs (belongs) til our lege Lord the King: the fee as giffin throw our gift, the frank tenement remanand with the foresaid Walter quhilk be part of the same (th)at lyes upon the foresaid land, as his indenter party proports maid their upon. And We, the foresaid Alexander Earl of Ross, warrands to the foresaid Walter, and his ayres and assignais, the foresaid lands, and (th)at no man be so hardy to make grife, molestian to the said Walter in the said lands onder pains of lyves, lands, and guds al that may tyne agains the King and us. ‘Giffyn onder our greit seal at Ralkyny the XXIII. day of Marche the yeir of our Lord Mo. IIIIo. XXXIXo.”—(Mac-farlane’s Collections, II., p. 274).

William de Urquhart, the next laird, was served heir to his father, Sir William, in 1436. He married Isabel Forbes, -a business-like lady, who purchased two oxgangs of Navity from John St Clair for sixteen marks. This deed, if in existence, is one of uncommon interest, for attached to it, in token of sasine, is the seal of the bailies of Cromarty. In 1457 the King appointed Urquhart to assist in reforming hospitals within the diocese of Ross, but he took part in proceedings of a more lively character, and acted as a ‘reiver bold ’ in the most approved fashion of the time. He extended his predatory excursions as far as Sutherland, and for his misdeeds had a comprehensive remission at Inverness on 4th October, 1457, when the King remitted all action against him, provided he made reparation to those whom he injured.

Documents of his time throw fresh light on the cause of the Great Hership of Cromarty, which some years later created such a sensation. It seems that the lairds of Cromarty and Kilravock arranged a double marriage—William Urquhart was to marry Mariot Rose, while Hugh Rose was to marry Agnes Urquhart. The ladies were probably never consulted, and it so happened that Mariot declined to be forced into the alliance until the Urquharts brought legal proceedings against her father. The marriage was then celebrated, but turned out unhappily; the lady forsook her husband, and on 23rd June, 1471, David, Bishop of Moray, divorced the parties on account of consanguinity. The whole affair left a bitter feeling between the families, and later on resulted in disastrous consequences.

Sir William Urquhart built the Castle of Cromarty, having: received license to do so on 6th April, 1470. Although not a, vestige of the old pile remains, it has been beautifully described by Hugh Miller, the most famous of Cromarty's sons: —

“Directly behind the site of the old town the ground rises, abruptly from the level to the height of nearly a hundred feet,, after which it forms a table-land of considerable extent, and then sweeps gently to the top of the hill. A deep ravine, with a little stream running through it, intersects the rising ground at nearly right angles with the front which it presents to the houses; and on the eastern angle, towering over the ravine on the one side, and the edge of the bank on the other, stood the old castle of Cromarty. It was a massy, time-worn building, rising in some places to the height of six stories, battlemented at the top, and roofed with gray stone. One immense turret jutted out from the corner which occupied the extreme point of the angle, and looking down from an altitude of at least one hundred and sixty feet on the little stream and the straggling row of trees which sprung up at its edge, commanded both sides of the declivity, and the town below. Other turrets of smaller size, but pierced like the larger one with rows of little circular apertures, which in the earlier ages had given egress to the formidable bolt, and in the more recent, when the crossbow was thrown aside for the petronel, to the still more formidable bullet, were placed by pairs on the* several projections that stood out from the main body of the building, and were connected by hanging bartisans.

“There is a tradition that, sometime in the seventeenth century, a party of Highlanders engaged in some predatory^ enterprise approached so near the castle on this side that their leader, when in the act of raising his arm to direct their march, was shot from one of the turrets and killed, and the party wrapping up the body in their plaids, carried it away.

“The front of the castle opened to the lawn, from which it was divided by a dry moat, nearly filled with rubbish, and a high wall indented with embrasures and pierced by an arched gateway. Within was a small court, flagged with stone, and bounded on one of the sides by a projection from the main building, bartisanded and turreted like all the others, but only three stories in height, and so completely fallen into decays that the roof and all the floors had disappeared. From that level of the court a flight of stone steps led to the vaults below; another flight of greater breadth, and bordered on both sides by an antique balustrade, ascended to the entrance; and the architect, aware of the importance of this part of the building, had so contrived it that a full score of loopholes in the several turrets and outlets which commanded the court opened directly on the landing-place. Round the entrance itself there jutted a broad, grotesquely-proportioned moulding, somewhat resembling an old-fashioned picture frame, and directly over it there was a square tablet of dark blue stone, bearing in high relief the arms of the old proprietors; but the storms of centuries had defaced all the nicer strokes of the chisel, and the lady with her palm and dagger, the boars’ heads (sic), and the greyhounds were transformed into so many attenuated spectres of their former selves—no unappropriate emblem of the altered fortunes of the house. The windows, small and narrow, and barred with iron, were thinly sprinkled over the front; and from the lintel of each there rose a triangular cap of stone, fretted at the edges, and terminating at the top in ‘two nobs fashioned into the resemblance of thistles. Initials and dates were inscribed in raised characters on these triangular tablets. The aspect of the whole pile was one of extreme antiquity. Flocks of crows and jays, that had built their nests in the recesses of the huge tusked cornices which ran along the bartisans, wheeled ceaselessly around the gables and the turrets, awakening with their clamorous cries the echoes of the roof. The walls, grey and weather-stained, were tapestried in some places with sheets of ivy; and an ash sapling, which had struck its roots into the crevices of the outer wall, rose like a banner over the half-dilapidated gateway.”

This graphic description applies to the place as it appeared after the decay of the Urquharts. Miller records that “two threshers could have plied their flails within the huge chimney of the kitchen,” and in the great hall, an immense dark chamber lined with oak, “a party of a hundred men had exercised at the pike.” This fine old castle was pulled down in 1772, after the place had been sold by Lord Elibank to George Ross, and the “plough and roller passed over its foundations.”

Sir William was succeeded by his younger son, Mr - Alexander, who was infeft in the barony of Cromarty, the Motehill, and Sheriffship on 18th November, 1475 (Macfar-lane’s Collections, II., p. 360). The Motehill, where the sheriffs dispensed justice, was an artificial mound situated several hundred yards nearer the town. In Mr Alexander’s time the King passed through Cromarty several times, on his way to the shrine of ,St Duthus at Tain, but on these occasions James was not the guest of Urquhart, as 18s was paid to the priest where the King lodged, and the same amount was given to the ferrymen.

The chief incident in the life of this laird was the raid upon his lands by young Kilravock and a band of Highland allies, when they swept the countryside of everything portable. The spulzie was carried out in most thorough fashion, and the raiders must have presented an extraordinary spectacle as they trudged homewards with their booty. Nothing came amiss, for they took pots and kettles as well as cattle, sheep, and swine. But the foray ended as disastrously for the Roses as for the Urquharts, because the Highlanders got clean away with the spoil, defied the law, and left their friends in the lurchi As a result of the raid a great part of Urquhart’s lands lay waste for years, and he took legal proceedings against the laird of Kilravock, who had become surety for his son and his accomplices. Although the quarrel originated in matrimonial infelicity, it was put to rights by another marriage between the families, which on this occasion proved extremely fortunate.

Thomas Urquhart, who succeeded before November, 1506, was a patriarchal sort of person. He paid composition for his marriage to the tune of 133 6s 8d, and espoused Helen Abernethy, of Saltoun, by whom he had, according to the popular story, twenty-five sons and eleven daughters. It is said that he appeared at Inverness with all his sons mounted upon white horses, and presented them to Mary Queen of Scots when the Highlanders rallied to her side against the Oordons, who refused her admission to the Castle. Franck, the Tourist, increases the number of Urquhart’s children to thirty sons and ten daughters, who all surrounded the patriarch, and there “was not one natural child among them.” According to this writer, “the declining age of this venerable laird of Urquhart, for he had reached the utmost limit of life, invited him to contemplate mortality, and to cruciate himself by fancying his cradle his sepulchre, wherein he was lodged night after night and hauled up by pullies to the roof of his house, approaching as near as the roof would let him to the beautiful battlements and suburbs of heaven ”—(Franck’s Northern Memoirs, p. 183). The story proves how popular tradition leads one astray, for Thomas XJrquhart died on 6th August, 1557, while Queen Mary did not visit Inverness until 1562. Its absurdity becomes evident when one is told that seven of the sons fell at Pinkie—a battle fought in 1547! Thomas certainly lived to be a great-grandfather, for he arranged a marriage in 1550 between his grandson Walter and Elizabeth "Makcainzeoch" of Findon.

Alexander, the next laird, had a special warrant to be served' heir to his father Thomas, because, being Sheriff of 'Cromarty, he could not be served before himself as Judge Ordinary, nor before any other judge. The Sheriff of Inverness was therefore directed to serve him heir to his father, which was done on 5th October, 1557. He married Beatrice Innes, and had five sons—Walter, John of Craigfmtray (Tutor -of Cromarty), James, Arthur, and Thomas.

Walter was infeft in the family estates on 11th April and 28th May, 1564 (Macfarlane's Collections, II., p. 362). His -wife was Elizabeth Mackenzie, the spelling of whose surname is proof of the prevalence of Gaelic in the district. He had, in 1568, a feu charter from John, Bishop of Ross, of the lands of Kinbeachie, afterwards a favourite residence of the Urquharts, where still may be seen a beautifully sculptured stone bearing the family arms. After the death of his wife, he married Elizabeth Rose of Kilravock, who was infeft in Nether Pitnellies and other lands. This laird had a yearly pension of the Dean’s quarter teinds of the lands of Navity, Easter Farness, Davidston, Peddieston, Little Farness, and Udole, viz., three chalders and twelve bolls victual, thirty-five wedders, and forty shillings of money. He also held a considerable amount of other ecclesiastical property, as well as lands within the burgh of Cromarty. His eldest son, Thomas, married Elspet Abernethy of Saltoun, whose tocher, by the contract dates last of February, 1572, amounted to 2450 marks. She was to be infeft in the lands of Inchrory, but Thomas died during his father’s lifetime. The old laird, becoming incapable, resigned the sheriffship in favour of his son Henry, who died before 1599, leaving a son Thomas.

During his minority, John Urquhart of Craigfintrav, owing to the mental infirmity of the old laird, became Tutor of Oomarty, and managed affairs on behalf of the young Heir, Thomas, who had sasine in the lands of Cromarty and Fisherie in 1599, and inherited one of the finest properties in the North.

He lived in troublous times, for the district was in an uproar on account of a deadly feud between the Mackenzies of Kintail, the Macdonells of Glengarry, and Macleod, “ through a cruel murder committed by some of them upon the servants and tenants of the other.” Owing to the terrible disorder the laird of Cromarty could not go to Inverness without a great retinue, and he therefore petitioned the Lords of Council craving a commission for serving his brieves (Macfarlane’s Collections, II., p. 365). This feud is best known as the “Raid of Kilchrist,” which culminated in a terrible tragedy.

Thomas Urquhart was served heir to his grandfather, Walter, in 1603, and a whole series of deeds proves how extensive were the estates he inherited. At the outset of his career he made extensive purchases, and was knighted at Edinburgh by King James VI., in 1617. At this time the Urquharts reached their zenith. Although Sir Thomas received the family estates “free of debt, or provision of brother, sister, or any other of his kindred, or alliance wherewith to affect it,” yet he dissipated his fortune with startling, rapidity, and the efforts of the shrewd Elphinstenes could not avert the disastrous consequences of the laird’s imprudence. The knight was a warm-hearted, impulsive man, and was ever ready to engage in other men’s quarrels, as appears by the prompt way he acted on behalf of his kinsman, Thomas Urquhart of Burdsyards. This family was long famous for the incomparable beauty of its maidens; generation after generation, the Burdsyard ladies were the toast of the countryside, and gallants came to woo them from far and near. It would take up too much time to tell how John Dunbar of Egernes, in 1617, forcibly abducted the beautiful Marjory Urquhart, then a girl of fifteen. There is the usual story of hot pursuit, pistol drawing, and questionable marriage—in this instance at the Kirk of Kinloss, by “ane hieland minister called Alexander Macpherson.” The parents invoked the aid of the law, and the Lords of Session, doubtful whether the knot tied by Macpherson would hold, restored the lady to her relatives. A few years later the sister of Marjory had become equally beautiful, and an impetuous lover, Robert Tulloch, a son of the laird of Tannachy, sought her in marriage. The Urquharts were against the match, and on 14th September, 1621, Robert made a desperate attempt to carry off the lady from her father’s house in Forres. The laird appeared on the-scene and rescued his daughter, but reluctant to prosecute a neighbour's son, he tried to arrange matters. The young man was determined to have the lady at all costs, and the mother's watchfulness baffling every attempt to kidnap the girl, Tulloch, mad with passion, fired at the old lady. For this outrageous conduct he was brought before the Lords of Council, and on 24th April, 1622, in their presence, gave solemn oath never to molest the Urquhart household. Notwithstanding this he pressed his suit ardently and impudently. The Sheriff of Cromarty soon afterwards was a guest at Rurdsyards, and very likely heard the story of Tulloch's persistent wooing. The recital roused him to anger; in his own domain he dealt out shrewd and sharp justice, there being none to call him in question. So next Sunday he went into the Kirk of Forres, when the third bell was ringing to the sermon, accompanied by men armed to the teeth. The stricken lover evidently occupied a seat near the Burdsyards' pew in the hope of seeing his fair one. Although he never offended the Sheriff in word or deed, yet Urquhart and his companions, “with bandit pistols, drawn swords and whingers, immediately set upon him, and after giving him divers bluidy straikes and woundies, threw him out of his desk and seate, and cuttit and brak the same in pecis." The worshippers interfered and saved Tulloch from the Sheriff's fury, and the parson—a clansman—coming out of the pulpit, tried to reason with the rioters, and “threatened them with the heavy wraith of God for profaning His holy Sabbath and sanctuary." This led to further violence, for, seizing the cleric, they cut off his garments with swords and daggers, and so “birst and bruisit his haill bodie and bowalis" that the poor minister spat blood for ten days, and was unable to preach “ sensyne." Sir Thomas soon found that there was a difference between the Highlands of Cromarty and the “ Laich of Moray," for he was committed to ward in the Castle of Edinburgh, and had to pay 20 to every witness who was a horseman, and ten marks to every witness who was a footman—(Reg. of Privy Council, XIII., p. 174). Although the gallant Sheriff suffered severely in pocket, he put ah effectual stop to Tulloch's wooing.

From this time forth his affairs became confused. According to his son—“The unfaithfulness, on the one side, of some of his menial servants in filching from him much of his personal estate, and the falsehood of several chamberlains and baylifs to whom he had intrusted the managing of his rents, in the unconscionable discharge of their receipts by giving up one account thrice, and of such accounts many, and on the other part by the frequency of disadvantageous bargains, which the slyness of the subtill merchant did involve him in, his loss came unawares upon him, and irresistibly like an armed man, too great trust to the one and facility on behalf of the other occasioning so grievous a misfortune, which nevertheless did not proceed from want of knowledge or abilitie in natural parts, for in the business of other men he would have given a very sound advice, and was surpassing dextrous in arbitrements upon any reference submitted to him; but he thought it did derogate from the nobility of his house and reputation of his person to look to petty things in matter of his own affairs."

He received a Royal protection from his creditors in 1637, but “troubles never come singly," and the laird's worry was accentuated by the unfilial conduct of his sons. They regarded him as incapable, and, making him prisoner, kept him confined for nearly a week in the Inner Dortour within the Oastle of Cromarty. The matter came before the courts, but, after hearing evidence, the case was dismissed. Sir Thomas made extensive additions to the Castle, and in 1631 craved permission from the Privy Council to export ten chalders of beir and meal in order to get timber for his house from Norway. This fact is interesting, and indicates that the woods of Ross and Lochness never recovered from the operations of Dougall Campbell, who carried away a great deal of timber, about 1512, for the navy of James IV. Sir Thomas died in April, 1642. He had married Christian, daughter of Alexander, 4th Lord Elphinstone, whose tocher was 500. By this lady he had a large family, but we are only concerned with the two eldest, Thomas and Alexander.

Thomas was knighted at Whitehall on 7th April, 1641, and became one of the most famous of his race. His career is so well known that it is unnecessary to enter into much detail; his life was one long struggle with his father's creditors. He inherited twelve or thirteen thousand pounds sterling of debt, besides having to make provision for five brothers and two marriageable sisters. Sir Thomas waxed eloquent over the “usurious cormorants" who held mortgages upon his estate. The “caitiff" Robert Leslie of Findrassie was the most unscrupulous of his tormentors, for when he needed money to portion one of his ungainly daughters, he regarded Urquhart’s estate as a sort of JlI Dorado, and on one occasion tried to grab the farm of Ardoch, to which he had as much right as to distant Jericho! Thomas Bigg of Athernie, a great moneylender in his day, drew 2000 a year from the barony of Cromarty. There were others with substantial claims, such as Sir Robert Farquhar of Mounie, James Cuthbert of Drakies* Patrick Smith of Braco, and Sir James Fraser, of whom Sir Thomas wrote in a fit of exasperation, “ no good can truly be spoken but that he is dead." Sir Thomas desired to devote his whole revenue to paying off the debts, and determined to-reside abroad. But he dearly loved Cromarty, and, after a short absence, returned to find his affairs in greater confusion than ever. He was totally unfitted to retrieve the fallen fortunes of his house, and while he thought out wonderful schemes for the benefit of mankind, creditors clamoured at his gate, keeping him in perpetual turmoil. He petulantly complains “ that above ten thousand several times I have, by these flagitators, been interrupted for money, which never came to my use directly or indirectly one way or other, at home or abroad, any one time whereof I was busied about speculations of greater consequence than all they were worth in the world; from which had I not been violently plucked away by their importunity I would have emitted to public view about five hundred several treatises on inventions never hitherto thought upon by any.”

He was also at issue with the ministers of Cromarty, Kirkmichael, and Cullicudden, and opposed augmentation of their stipends in heroic manner. They in return preached at him from the pulpit, thundering forth denunciations before his tenantry with spiteful and unchristian vigour. Sir Thomas confessed that he was driven like a feather before a whirlwind, and declares that one of his denouncers “behaved more like* a scolding tripe seller’s wife than a good minister.” Although his difficulties led him to write angrily about his neighbours, he bears ample testimony to the consideration of the Robertsons of Kindeace, a gentle race whom he hoped would “ flourish as long as there is a hill in Scotland, or the sea doth ebb and flow.”

As became an ardent Royalist, he took part in the early skirmishes, and in 1649 was among those who surprised Inverness, razed its walls, and unfurled the Royal standard. For this he was declared guilty of treason, but his well-known eccentricity saved him, and the Rev. John Annand, of Inverness, was asked to deal with him. He joined Charles H. at Scone, but was not greatly impressed by the Royal following; the presence of so many Presbyterians he regarded as a source of weakness, for they were inclined to desert, he says, “lest they should seem to trust to the arm of flesh." When in the field, Sir Thomas marched with an enormous quantity of baggage; four large portmanteaus were filled with gay apparel and other precious commodity, for he was a great dandy. There were three trunks filled “with an hundred manuscripts of his own composition." After the disastrous fight at Worcester, the precious MSS. fell into the hands of ruthless Puritans, and one can fancy the fun and frolic among Cromwell’s soldiers when they discovered the marvellous pedigree proving that the Urquharts were descended from the Creator of all things. The papers were promptly converted into “spills" for lighting tobacco pipes, and only part of the Genealogy and Universal Language was recovered.

Sir Thomas himself fell into the hands of the enemy, and was confined in the Tower, where his harmlessness was soon recognised, and he enjoyed a large measure of freedom, and busied himself with writing. But wonderful tales being bruited abroad about his MSS., the Government, early in May, 1652, seized his papers, which were not of a dangerous character. On 14th May he requested the authorities to secure all papers found in his Castle of Cromarty, and suffer none to be embezzled. He then had five months leave to go to Scotland, on condition that he did nothing to the prejudice of the Commonwealth. This release proved very fortunate, because at Cromarty they heard he had been killed, and the creditors calmly appropriated his estate. They found that he was very much alive when they demanded payment of bonds which had been discharged long before; and, to their utter confusion, he produced the receipts. Leslie of Findrassie, his old enemy, tried to get him made a prisoner of war in his own house, then garrisoned by troops; but he safely returned to London, and continuing his literary labours, withdrew himself more and more from the haunts of men. The infirmity which he inherited became more marked, and the remaining years of his life were passed in a state of imbecility. On the eve of the Restoration he went abroad, and when that event became an accomplished fact, he died, it is said, in a fit of laughter.


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