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History of the Parish of Banchory-Devenick

These lands which include Auchlee and Bourtreebush extend to about 850 acres, and lie in the south-west corner of the parish. In 1390 they belonged to William de Camera of Findon, who in that year infefted Thomas Kennedy in the ownership. The Kennedys had the hereditary title of “Constable of Aberdeen,” given to them under the following peculiar circumstances. The citizens of Aberdeen having taken by storm, during the reign of David II., the fortress which long stood on the Castlehill, “ least at any tyme thereafter it should prove a yock upon the tounsmen’s necks,” razed it to the ground, and “in place thereoff builded a chappell which they dedicated (according to the fashione of the tymes) to St. Niniane; hoping by that meins that the hill, being converted to a holy use, it wold be unlaufull for any to attempt to imploy it againe to a profayne use any more.” “ Ther leader, in this achievement, wes one Kennedy of Kearmuick, for which service his posteritie wer honored with the title and dignity of Constables of Aberdeen.”

In the beginning of the seventeenth century the estate belonged to the Irvines of Kingcausie, and passed in the end of last century to Claude Boswell, Lord Balmuto, who married the heiress of Kingcausie. The Boswell family claim their descent from Sieur de Bosville, a Frenchman who came to Britain with the Conqueror, holding a command at the battle of Hastings in 1066. His descendant, Claude Boswell, who was born in 1742, passed advocate in 1766, succeeded to the estate of Balmuto, in Fife, on the death of his father, and afterwards became a lord of Session under the title of Lord Balmuto. In 1783 he married Anne Irvine of Kingcausie, who, by the death of her brother and grandfather, became heiress of that estate. This Claude died suddenly on 22nd July, 1824, leaving one son and two daughters. The name of their son was John Irvine Boswell, and his history is told in a well-known monument on the hill of Auchlee, which is one of the landmarks of the district. The monument is a massive circular tower rising from an octagonal base. The following biographical inscription is inserted on one of the sides of the base:—

“In Memory of John Irvine Boswell, of Balmuto and Kingcausie. Born 28th December, 1785. Died, 23rd December, i860. A man who loved his Saviour, walked steadfast with his God, and whose rule of life was—‘ Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.’ In early life he joined the Coldstream Guards, and carried their colours in the battle of Talavera. Retiring from the army he settled at Kingcausie, and lived to transform the natural barrenness of the estate into luxurious fertility. He will be long remembered in the district for the enlightened zeal he displayed in the introduction of all the improvements of modern agriculture; and he did not confine his attention to his own estates, his knowledge and experience being ever at the service of his neighbours, rich and poor alike. In every position and relation of life, he maintained, with rare fidelity, the character of a Christian gentleman ; and he died in peace, trusting simply in the merits of his Saviour for acceptance with his God. His sorrowing widow, Margaret Irvine Boswell, erected this monument as a solace in her bitter bereavement, a.d. m.d.ccc.lxii.” This lady was the daughter of James Christie of Durie, and died 18th April, 1875, aged 86 years. Boswell left no issue. He had two sisters, the younger of whom died unmarried ; while the elder married Mr. Syme, drawing-master of Dollar Academy, and had issue a son and a daughter. The Boswell estates were divided between these two —the Balmuto property going to the son, and the Kingcausie portion to the daughter, who married Mr. Archer Irvine Fortescue, of Swanbister, in Orkney.

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