"See, 'mid yon trees, a
That tops the rock, o'erlooking many a mile
Of level carse.
Fair Emma Gordon and her
First graced its halls. Fair Emma! Huntly's child;
No sweeter spring-born blossom ever smiled
Than she, all blushing, on that happy day,
The wedded love of brave young Andrew Gray,
Wide Gof rie's pride, and Castle Huntly's lord,
And she the guerdon of his patriot sword—
At least so runs the tale.
"The Tay" by David Millar,
In point of interest
Castle Huntly stands preeminent among the homes of Longforgan. It is a
noble pile of enormous strength. Built of stone from the quarries at
Kingoodie, it has stood, almost unharmed, the blasts of over four
hundred years. The natural strength of the castle is considerable,
standing, as it does, on the top of a precipitous and "verie stubborne
rock," hardly accessible except on one side. But it does not seem to
have been looked upon as a military stronghold. Writing in his Book of
Record\ Earl Patrick of Strathmore says: "My grandfather made this
purchase from the Lord Gray, at which time, save that the land was
speciall good, it was a place of no considera-tione, fit for nothing
else but as a place of refuge in the time of trouble, wherein a man
might make himself a prisoner, and in the meantime might therein be
protected from a flying partie, but was never of any strenth, or to have
been accounted a stronghold to endure a siege, or a place capable to
hold so many as with necessarie provisions could hold out long, or by
sallies to doe much preiudice to an enimie." Some idea of its internal
strength may be got from the fact that its walls arc in some places ten
feet thick. Its tower rises to a height of about one hundred and thirty
feet, and, altogether, it is a fine specimen of an old baronial home.
The castle is said to
have been built in 1452, under a special licence granted by James II. to
Andrew the second Lord Gray, giving him leave to build a castle upon the
barony of Fowlis or Longforgan. But the first definite mention of the
tower and fortalice of Huntly occurs in a charter of 1508-9. It is
likely that in still earlier times a castle or fort of some kind stood
on the rock. The tradition is that it was once surrounded with water,
and that the very stones with which the present castle was built were
brought by water from Kingoodie.
It is impossible to say
in what way the castle came to be called Castle Huntly. The tradition
lingers stilt that Andrew Gray, the founder of the castle, wedded a
daughter of Lord Huntly, and called his home after his bride. The
unfortunate thing for this pretty story is that no such marriage took
place, although later there was an alliance between a Gray and a Huntly.
The rock or the land may have borne the name of Huntly from an earlier
time, or, as the Grays came from Northumberland to Perthshire in the
days of Bruce, it may have been taken, as has been suggested, from the
property of that name in Berwickshire.
Castle Huntly has been in
the hands of three ancient families. Built originally by the second Lord
Gray, it passed early in the seventeenth century into the hands of the
family of Lyon. During this time it ceased to be known as Castle Huntly,
being called after Lord Glamis " Castle Lyon " ; but towards the close
of last century, when it passed into the hands of the second Mr.
Paterson, it was renamed by him, in honour of his wife, a daughter of
Lord Gray, Castle Huntly.
It lies beyond our
purpose to describe the castle, or to trace at length the fortunes of
the families who have held it. Admirable sketches, and easily
accessible, may be found in R. Fittis' Book of Perthshire Memorabilia,
and A. H. "Millar's Historical Castles and Alansions of Scotland. Cf. |
Perthshire." But a few facts may be given. It is in 1308 that the Grays
first appear in the manor of Longforgan. Sir Andrew Gray was the first
of the line to be closely connected with the place. He was one of the
valiant band which followed Bruce. In 1312, when Edinburgh Castle was
entered by surprise, Sir Andrew Gray was the second man to put his foot
on the walls, and in return for his splendid services Bruce gave him a
number of estates, including the barony of Longforgan. Towards the close
of that century, one of the Grays of Broxmouth married the daughter of
Sir Roger de Mortimer, heiress of Fowlis. Gray was also possessor of the
barony of Longforgan, which his father had acquired from the heiress of
Roger de Kyd and Marion Oliphant; but from this time till 1452, when
Castle Huntly is said to have been built by the second Lord Gray, the
interests of the family belong chiefly to Fowlis. Castle Huntly remained
in the possession of the Lords Gray till 1615, when it passed from their
The Lords of Castle
Huntly were all important men. The third Lord Gray led a wing of the
rebel army at Sauchieburn, and is credited with having been one of the
three horsemen who killed James III. after the battle. This led to his
promotion. He was made High Sheriff of Forfar, Lord of the Privy
Council, Justice-General benorth the Forth, Justiciar of Scotland, and
received amongst others the lands and baronies of Fowlis, Longforgan,
The fourth Lord Gray died
at Castle Huntly. in 1541. One of his daughters married Monorgan of that
ilk. The fifth Lord was a prominent figure in the days of Beaton, and
supported the Reformation. After the battle of Pinkie he was accused of
surrendering Broughty Castle to the English, and the Regent Arran
determined to attack Castle Huntly.
The sixth Lord was a less
distinguished man. But his son may fairly be described as one of the
extraordinary characters in Scottish history, at once one of the
cleverest and one of the most unprincipled of intriguers. The Duke of
Guise, the captive Queen of Scotland, Elizabeth, King James, Arran—these
were some of the parties with whom he played his game. Some of his
letters exist, dated from Castle Huntly, full of curious glimpses of his
views. He was an able man, and gave King James some admirable counsel.
Lord Gray died in 1612.
Shortly after his
accession, the new Lord disposed of Castle Huntly to Lord Glammis, the
first Earl of Kinghorne, for 40,000 merks. The earl died in 1615. Two
years later, the second Earl was " retoured as heir to his father, Earl
Patrick, m the lands called the Mains of Huntly, with the castle and
fortalice of Huntly, which formerly belonged to Andrew, Lord Gray; and
also in that part of the lands of Longforgan, called Easter and Wester
Colts, with the moor adjoining, all in the barony of Longforgan, and
formerly belonging to the said Andrew, Lord Gray ; but the lands of
Goatpick, a quarter of the lands of Cattermillie or Bullion, the third
part of the lands of Balbunnoch or Balbonnie, and Nether Carse, with the
lands of Kingoodie or Mylnfield, all parcels of the baron)T of
Longforgan, were specially excluded from this rdtour."
The second Earl was a man
of some note in his day. He took the Covenanting side, and fought at the
battle of the Bridge of Dee. An old Pasquil on that battle refers to
"God bless our Covenanters
in Fyffe and Lothean,
In Angus and tlic Mearnis, quho did us first begin
With musket and with carabin, with money speare and shield,
To take the toune of Aberdeen, and make our Marques yield.
God bliss Montrois our General,
The stout Earl of Kinghorne,
That we may long liue and reioyce
That ever they were borne.
The man that hes ane eiuell wyffe,
He prayes God to amend her,
That he may Hue a quyat lyffe,
And dye a Covenanter."
"Kingorne" is also
praised by Lithgow as a peer
"by true Religion crownd,
And Honour to" as one who made profession,
"Of Christ's Reformed Church by cleare confession."
The earl did a good deal
for Castle Huntly, and intended it to be the summer residence of the
family. His son tells us of him: "My father, as he had indeed reason soe
to doe, did in the year of God 1637 finish the staircase which he had
begun some years before, and he put on an inteer new roofe upon the
Castle and Jamm which before had ane old scurvie battlement, and was
vaulted in the top and flagged over. He did also build that which is the
present kitchen, which had only a chimney with a timber brace carried
up, with patcht straw and clay, and full of hazard for taking of fire,
as, indeed, upon many occasions it did, but I was obleidged to make a
thorrow reformatione thereof:—he built also the Brew-house and
Woman-house which now is, and the greatest Barne which stands on the
north-west corner of the stack-yard, without so much as a closs or
court, so that the first landing or lighting was att the verie entrie
gate." He died at St. Andrews of smallpox in 1646.
The next Earl, who became
the first Earl of Strathmore in 1677, is perhaps the most interesting of
the lords of Castle Huntly. Under his guidance it became a changed
place, and he was identified with the interests of Longforgan as few
have been. It was during his time, in 1672, that King Charles II.
erected the barony of Castle Huntly into a lordship, to be called the
Lordship of Lyon, and it is usually supposed that the castle came to be
known as Castle Lyon at this point.
But of Earl Patrick
The second Earl of
Strathmore was a man of considerable power. The third fell at
SherifT-muir, fighting for the Chevalier. "Poor Strathmore was shott
thro' the heart after he askt quarters." Several songs preserve his
name. His successor entertained the Chevalier at Castle Lyon. He met a
tragic fate, being killed in the streets of Forfar in a drunken fray.
Scarcely less sorrowful is the tale of the widowed countess. She stayed
in Castle Lyon, which was the jointure-house of the countesses, for
seventeen years, and then entered into what proved a most unhappy
marriage with a young man, George Forbes, one of her servants. The
marriage took place at Castle Huntly in 1745.
The last of the
Strathmores to hold Castle Lyon was John, the seventh Earl. He married
the wealthiest heiress in England, Miss Mary Eleanor Bowes of Streatlam,
whose surname he was permitted by Parliament to assume—Bowes-Lyon. He
died in 1776. Instead of staying in Castle Lyon, his widow sold it the
following year. Mr. George Paterson was the purchaser, and the price
The new laird did not
belong to the district. Born in 1734, he had spent the earlier part of
his life in India. Returning to Scotland in 1776 with a large fortune,
he married towards the close of that year a daughter of Lord Gray. Just
at this time Castle Lyon came into the market. Mr. Paterson bought it,
and in his bride the castle welcomed a descendant of Lord Gray who built
it. In her honour he renamed it Castle Huntly. Mr. Paterson was a great
enthusiast, and besides doing much to improve Castle Huntly, inaugurated
many changes, and was the first to introduce the newer implements and
methods of agriculture to the district. A record of these may be found
in the Old Statistical Account. He died in 1817, and was succeeded by
his son, Colonel Paterson. The colonel died in 1846, and was succeeded
by his only son George. Though trained for the Bar, he took a keen
interest in the estate, and became an authority on the subject of Fiars.
He died in 1867. The present proprietor is a son of Mr. Paterson. Mrs.
Armitstead is tenant.
A Lay of Castle Huntly.
In canto v. of The Tay, the tale of Emma Gordon is told with
"Fair Emma Gordon wadna
Her hand to Andrew Gray,
Nor leave the Bogie's flowery braes
For a' the sweets o' Tay.
She wadna leave the Bogie
For a' the lords she saw,
An' far less wad a Gowrie knicht
Entice her steps awa'.
Yet a' her sighs, her
Were for Sir Andrew Gray,
An' a' her fears and prayers were his
By night but an' by day."
Emma Gordon's mother was
a haughty dame.
"An' tlio' her father weel
The worth o' Andrew's sword,
He cou'dna brook that Huntly:s bairn
Sud wed less than a lord.
A braver knicht than
Ne'er belted on a sword—
A truer knicht than Andrew Gray
Ne'er waited on his lord.
An' Emma Gordon brawly
Nae knicht cou'd love sae weel:
To her, his eye the sweetest shone
Tho' 'neath a casque o' steel.
Was ne'er than Emma
A form sae sweet an' fair,
Nae bird was blyther in the glen,
Nor rose bloom'd richer there!"
At this point the Douglas
raises his standard against King James. " Fickle Crawford's powerfu'
Earl" goes with the rebels. The king's hope is largely in Huntly.
"Our gude king trusts to
An' brooks nae lang delay."
One by one the chieftains
rally to Huntly, who praises them. Of Gray he says—
"An' doughty Gray, come as
Will be baith staunch an' true,
But, Emma Gordon, wha, the day,
May wear the spurs for you?'
Fair Emma's cheeks grew
like the rose,
Now like the lily hue—
'He fechts for me, my father dear,
Wha fechts the best for you !
But if I choose a valiant
As choose fu' weel I may,
I'll bind my favour round the crest
O' young Sir Andrew Gray.'
The Earl frowned. Wi'
But an' a pearly tear,
She's tied around his glancin' crest
A ringlet o' her hair!
'Now by St. Bridget's
And by the haly rude,
The hand that wins my ladyes yift
Sal win my red heart's blude!'"
A fight shortly ensues
between Crawford's warriors and Huntly's.
"But aye the loudest in
The foremost in the fray,
Was Emma Gordon's trusty knighr,
The brave Sir Andrew Gray."
The victory falls to
Huntly. Then comes the rewarding of the victors. Huntly gets the "braes
o' Badenoch and a' Balquhidder too."
"But as for Gray, that
We can nae mercy shaw:
We'll bind him firm this very nicht
As strait as bands can draw ;
An' big a keep on Gowrie
Whaur he his weird may dree,
An' bonny Emma Gordon sal
His gentle jailor be !'
Now gowden peace, wi'
Cheers ilka Scottish glen,
An' fears nae mair the Douglas name
Wi' a' his riever men;
An' Castle Huntly shaws
High ower the Tay's blue tide,
Whaur bonny Enuna Gordon wons
Lord Andrew's ladye bride!"