a surname supposed to be derived from lands in the parish of that name in
Banffshire, said to be a corruption of two Gaelic words, fure chess,
signifying ‘a cold place to the southward,’ or from fuar, cold,
and deas, south. It is more likely to have been a corruption of
Forbes, – there being a tradition to that effect, – the Fordyces having
also three boars’ heads in their coat of arms.
The family of
Dingwall Fordyce of Culsh and Brucklay, Aberdeenshire, owes its origin to
an intermarriage between the Dingwalls of Brucklay and the Fordyces of
Culsh in 1744.
On the side of
the Dingwalls it derives its descent from the Dingwalls of Ross-shire, a
clan of some note in ancient times, amongst whom were several free barons
who had considerable possessions in the counties of Ross and Inverness. Of
these the Dingwalls of Kildun, the Dingwalls of Pet (or Petfure), the
Dingwalls of Strabroke, and the Dingwalls of Cambuscarry appear to have
been the chief. It is believed that those families of the name of Dingwall
now resident in Aberdeenshire, are descended from the Dingwalls of
Cambuscarry, and that they came to Buchan about the end of the fifteenth
century, in order to escape from the violence of the Mackenzies, their
The first of the
name in Buchan of whom there are any authentic accounts, is William
Dingwall of Seals-crook, parish of Monquitter, who was born about 1590,
and married Barbara Barclay, from which union are descended in direct
line, the families of Brucklay, Culsh, and Rannieston.
eldest son, born about 1620, married in 1642, Lucres, second daughter of
John Irvine of Brucklay, a cadet of the ancient family of Drum. He died in
1707. William, his eldest son, succeeded to Brucklay, while Arthur, his
second son, inherited Brownhill, and afterwards acquired Lescraigie. The
descendants of the latter succeeded to Brucklay in 1840, when the elder
branch became extinct.
of Brucklay, just mentioned, died in 1733. He had a large family, one of
whom, John, having gone early to London, became an eminent jeweller there,
acquired a large fortune, and having no family, he in September 1807
executed a strict entail of his lands of Brucklay and Artamford, in favour
of his grand-nephew, John Dingwall and a series of heirs, whilst his
personal property, constituting the bulk of his fortune, was vested in
trustees for the purpose of purchasing other lands in England or Scotland,
to be entailed on the same series of heirs. He resided for a long time at
a villa of his own at Croydon in Surrey, and died there in 1812 at the
advanced age of 88. He was succeeded by his grand-nephew, of the same
name, who in 1813 married Mary, eldest daughter of William Gordon of
Aberdour, and died in 1825, leaving an only son, John Duff Dingwall, on
whose death in 1840, without issue, the elder branch of the family became
extinct, and the property thereupon devolved upon Arthur Dingwall Fordyce,
advocate in Aberdeen, representative of the younger branch of the family.
He died without issue on 30th December 1843, and was succeeded
by his next surviving brother, Alexander, more particularly mentioned
Upon the side of
the Fordyces, this family derives its descent from George Fordyce, who in
the middle of the seventeenth century was settled near Turriff,
Aberdeenshire, at a place called Haughs of Ashogle. He died in 1681,
leaving two sons, John and George, and a daughter.
From John are
descended the family of Dingwall Fordyce of Culsh and Brucklay, while
George, afterwards of Broadford, and provost of Aberdeen in the beginning
of last century, was the father of that remarkable family which numbered
amongst its members Sir William Fordyce, F.R.S.; Professor David Fordyce;
Dr. James Fordyce, the famous preacher and author; George, M.D., F.R.S.,
the distinguished physician and lecturer on medicine in London; Baillie
Robert Fordyce, manufacturer, Aberdeen; and Alexander Fordyce
(Roehampton), the celebrated banker in London, of most of whom memoirs are
given hereafter in their proper place.
John, eldest son
of George Fordyce and Barbara Thomson, was a merchant in Turriff, and
acquired the properties of Gask and Culsh in Buchan, – the latter through
his wife, Lilias Lindsay, one of the Dowhill branch of the noble house of
Balcarras. He left Gask to his eldest son John, and Culsh to his second
son, William, who died unmarried in 1743. The latter entailed Culsh upon
his sister, Jean Fordyce, who in April 1744 married William Dingwall,
eldest son of Arthur Dingwall of Brownhill, and it is to this
intermarriage that the present family of Dingwall Fordyce of Culsh and
Brucklay owes its origin.
son, William, having died under age, without issue, Arthur, the second
son, became the representative of the family. He went to Aberdeen, where
he pursued a long and successful career as a lawyer. He received the
degree of LL.D., and became judge of the commissary or consistorial court
there, being the last judge of that court in Aberdeen. On succeeding to
Culsh at his mother’s death in 1788, he assumed the name of Fordyce in
addition to that of Dingwall. In 1770 he married Janet, daughter of James
Morison of Elsick, sometime provost of Aberdeen, and by her had a numerous
family, one of whom, Arthur, captain in the Bengal engineers,
distinguished himself as a soldier, under Lord Lake, in subduing the
provinces of Oude, Delhi, and Agra, and afterwards at the taking of Java
in 1810, when after the capture of the island he became chief engineer.
The Doctor’s grandson, Lieutenant-colonel John Dingwall Fordyce
distinguished himself in the Sikh campaign, particularly at the battles of
Sabraon and Gujerat, in command of detachments of Bengal horse artillery.
Dingwall Fordyce, commissary of Aberdeen, died there in April 1834, at the
advanced age of 89, and his eldest son having predeceased him, he was
succeeded in the estate of Culsh by his grandson Arthur, who, as already
stated, also succeeded to the Brucklay estates in October 1840.
Alexander Dingwall Fordyce, R.N., the present representative of the family
(1854), succeeded to the estates of Culsh and Brucklay, on the death of
his elder brother Arthur, in December 1843. He is third son of William
Dingwall Fordyce of Techmuiry (eldest son of the commissary) and Margaret
Ritchie, his wife. He entered the navy at an early age, served actively
afloat in most parts of the world for twenty-one years, was present at the
capture of Gluckstadt on the Elbe in 1814, and the battle of Algiers in
1816. He attained the rank of commander in 1841, was appointed
deputy-lieutenant of Aberdeenshire in 1845, and in 1847 was elected M.P.
for his native city of Aberdeen, and continued so till the dissolution in
July 1852. He married in 1835, Barbara Thom, daughter of James Thom, Esq.
of Aberdeen, and by her has a family of four sons and four daughters. His
younger brother, George Dingwall Fordyce, entered the bar in 1832, and was
appointed an advocate depute in May 1851. He married another daughter of
the said James Thom.
The family of
Fordyce of Ayton in Berwickshire are believed to be sprung from a branch
of the Fordyces of Aberdeenshire. Of this family was Lieutenant-colonel
John Fordyce, of the 74th Highlanders, who was killed at
Waterkloof, Capt of Good Hope, in 1851. He was the eldest son of Thomas
John Fordyce, Esq. of Ayton, by Anne, daughter of George Buchan, Esq. of
Kelloe, and grandson of the Right Hon. John Fordyce of Ayton, commissioner
of the woods and forests, and M.P. for Berwickshire. He entered the army
as an ensign in the 34th regiment in 1828, and in 1846 became
lieutenant-colonel of the 74th Highlanders. In March 1851 he
embarked with his regiment for the Cape of Good Hope, where, after months
of severe and harassing warfare against the Kaffirs and rebel Hottentots,
he fell at the head of his gallant Highlanders in the prime of his
an elegant and learned writer, was the second son of George Fordyce, of
Broadford, above mentioned, and his wife, a sister of Dr. Thomas and Dr.
Alexander Blackwell, by whom he had a family of twenty-one children. He
was born in 1711, and received the early part of his education at the
grammar school of his native town. At the age of thirteen he entered the
Greek class in Marischal college, and in 1728 he took the degree of M.A.
He was originally designed for the church, but though duly licensed to
preach the gospel, he never became an ordained minister. He is said to
have been, for a short time, domestic chaplain to John Hopkins, Esq. of
Bretons, in Essex. In September 1742 he was admitted professor of
philosophy in Marischal college. In 1745 he published the first volume of
his ‘Dialogues on Education,’ the second volume of which appeared in 1748.
He also wrote for Dodsley’s ‘Preceptor,’ a treatise on Moral Philosophy,
which attracted so much attention that it was published in a separate form
in 1754, under the title of ‘The Elements of Moral Philosophy,’ and was
often reprinted. In 1750 he visited Rome, and on his return home in
September 1751, he was drowned off the coast of Holland, in the 41st
year of his age.
FORDYCE, JAMES, D.D.,
an eminent clergyman, brother of the preceding, was born in Aberdeen in
1720. He received his education at the Marischal college, and early
devoted himself to the ministry. In 1752 he was ordained minister of
Brechin, and soon after accepted of a call from Alloa, during his
residence in which place he printed three occasional sermons, which
attracted much notice. In 1760 he published a discourse, preached before
the General Assembly ‘On the Folly, Infamy, and Misery of Unlawful
Pleasures,’ which still farther increased his reputation.
Soon after, he
received the degree of D.D. from the university of Glasgow; and having
removed to London, he was invited by the congregation of protestant
dissenters in Monkwell Street to be the colleague of Dr. Samuel Lawrence,
then aged and infirm. This invitation he accepted, and on Dr. Lawrence’s
death he succeeded as sole pastor. During his ministry at this place he
acquired a high degree of popularity from the strong force of his
eloquence and striking figure.
After he had
been some years at Monkwell Street, he obtained the assistance of a
coadjutor, Mr. Toller, son-in-law of Dr. Lawrence. In 1775, however, he
had an unhappy dispute with Mr. Toller, which led to the ejection of the
latter from the chapel, and very much thinned the congregation. In 1782
declining health, and the dispersion of his hearers, induced Dr. Fordyce
to resign the ministry.
The latter years
of his life were chiefly spent in retirement in Hampshire, in the
neighbourhood of Lord Bute, with whom he lived in great intimacy, and to
whose valuable library he had free access. Soon after the death of his
brother, Sir William Fordyce, M.D., the subject of the following notice,
he removed to Bath, where he died somewhat suddenly, October 1, 1796, in
his 76th year. In 1771 he had married Miss Henrietta Cummyngs,
who survived him. It was Dr. James Fordyce, and not his brother, Mr.
David, as erroneously stated by Stenhouse and Allan Cunningham, who was
the author of the beautiful song, “Hark! Yonder eagle lonely wails,”
inserted in Johnson’s Musical Museum (vol. iii. p. 237.) His works are:
The Eloquence of
the Pulpit; an Ordination Sermon on Acts xviii. 24. Lond. 1752, 8vo.
The Methods of
promoting Edification by Public Instructions; an Ordination Sermon, To
which is added, A Charge, from 1 Cor. xiv. 26. Glasg. 1755, 8vo.
The Temple of
Virtue, a dream. 12mo, 1747. 2d ed. 1755.
Eccles. xi. 1. 1757, 4to.
occasioned by the death of the Rev. Dr. Samuel Lawrence. With an Address
at his interment. Lond. 1760.
On the Folly,
Infamy, and Misery of unlawful Pleasures; a Sermon of Prov. vii. 7.
preached before the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. 1760. Rep.
Edin. 1768, 8vo.
Sermons to Young
Women. Lond. 1765, 1776, 2 vols. 12mo. Several editions.
Sermon on Prov.
viii. 6,7. 1775, 12mo.
and Conduct of the Female Sex; a Discourse on John xi. 5. Lond. 1776, 8vo.
Young Men. Lond. 1777, 2 vols, 8vo.
The Delusive and
Persecuting Spirit of Popery; on Rev. xviii. 23, 24. Lond. 1779, 8vo.
Addresses to the
Deity. Lond. 1785, 8vo.
A Discourse on
Pain. Lond. 1791, 8vo.
A Charge at the
Ordination of the Rev. James Lindsay. London, 8vo, 1783.
FORDYCE, SIR WILLIAM,
distinguished physician, brother of the preceding, was born at Aberdeen in
1724. Like his brothers, he was educated at the Marischal college, and at
the age of eighteen he had completed the usual academical course. After
having studied physic and surgery under an able practitioner in his native
town, he joined the army as a volunteer, and served as surgeon to the
brigade of guards on the coast of France, and in the wars of Germany. He
afterwards commenced practice as a physician in London. The warm support
of his military friends, and of several persons of rank, to whom he had
been serviceable, concurred with his own merit and address in recommending
him to extensive practice. His publications on medical subjects greatly
added to his reputation; and he was sent for to greater distances, and
received larger sums, than almost any physician of his time. By the
bankruptcy of his brother Alexander, (of whom a notice is given in next
article,) he was involved to a very serious extent; but notwithstanding
his own losses he repaid to his brother James those incurred by him,
amounting to several thousand pounds. His fortune was also much impaired
by his great benevolence and his unbounded liberality to his family and
friends; and he was a kind and generous patron to many of his young
countrymen, who were, from time to time, recommended to his good offices.
About 1787 he
received the honour of knighthood from his majesty. He was also elected a
fellow of the Royal Society. For his successful attempts to cultivate that
valuable medicine, rhubarb, on the proper method of cultivating and curing
which in Great Britain he published a treatise just before his death, the
Society for the Encouragement of the Arts unanimously voted him a gold
medal. Although originally of a delicate constitution, by temperance and
exercise he preserved his health for many years; but after a long and
severe illness he died, December 4, 1792. He had been elected lord rector
of Marischal college, to which he bequeathed his library, and one thousand
pounds to found a lectureship on agriculture. His works are:
A Review of the
Venereal Disease, and its Remedies. Lond. 1767, 8vo. 2d edit. Lond. 1772,
A new Enquiry
into the Causes, Symptoms, and Cure of Putrid and Inflammatory Fevers;
with an Appendix on the Hectic Fever, and on the Ulcerated and Malignant
Sore Throat. Lond. 1773, 8vo. 2d edit. Lond. 1777, 8vo.
Chirurgica, et Medica. London, 1784, 8vo. Treats of abscesses of the
liver, diseases of the anus, calculus of the gall bladder, headache,
cancer, ciranus, a peculiar cutaneous eruption, dysentery, intermittents.
Letter to Sir
John Sinclair, on the Virtues of the Muriatic Acid in Putrid Fevers. Lond.
importance and proper method of Cultivating and Curing Rhubarb in Britain,
for medicinal uses. Lond. 1792, 8vo.
An Attempt to
discover the Virtues of the Sarsaparilla Root in the Venereal Disease.
Med. Obs. and Inq. i. p. 149. 1755.
an eminent banker, who obtained an unhappy celebrity by his ruinous
commercial speculations, was the brother of the subjects of the three
preceding articles, and like them was a native of Aberdeen. After
receiving his education in that city, he went to London, and became one of
the most enterprising bankers in the metropolis. By the enormous extent of
his transactions, and it is said a strong combination in London against
him, he finally not only involved himself but many others in irretrievable
ruin. The following notice of Mr. Alexander Fordyce occurs in a sermon
addressed to tradesmen, preached and published in 1775, by the Rev. Thomas
Toller of London, already mentioned, as for some time the coadjutor of his
brother, Dr. James Fordyce. “He had a mind not ill-formed for commerce,
and from his early success in it was enabled, though of an obscure
original, to live respectably. If his views had extended no farther, it
would have been well, but his ambition was unbounded. the revenue of a
kingdom would hardly have sufficed to have executed his schemes. He seemed
bent on engrossing the trade of the whole world. Large sums were borrowed
of one and of another. His friends advanced liberally, and so high was his
reputation, that they had no doubt of their effects being secure. But the
event proved that they were wretchedly deceived. His affairs were
embarrassed, his difficulties increased, and at length grew inextricable;
a total stoppage ensued; the issue of a commission of bankruptcy, by some
chicanery, was prevented; and but a small part of his enormous debts hath
been paid to this very hour. I shall not pretend to enumerate the many
families which by his means sunk into distress. His fall was like the fall
of a towering structure which overwhelms numbers with its ruins. It
deserves, however, particular mention, that the news of his failure
despatched one brother to the regions of the dead, and, which is yet more
lamentable, drove another into a state of insanity.” He married in 1770
Lady Margaret Lindsay, second daughter of the earl of Balcarres and sister
of the celebrated Lady Anne Lindsay or Barnard. A most touching letter
from Lady Margaret Fordyce to her husband on his failure is inserted in
Lord Lindsay’s ‘Lives of the Lindsays,’ vol. ii. page 336. After Mr.
Fordyce’s death Lady Margaret became the wife of Sir James Burgess,
an eminent physician and lecturer on medicine, nephew of the preceding,
was the only and posthumous child of Mr. George Fordyce, the proprietor of
a small landed estate called Broadford, in the neighbourhood of Aberdeen,
where the subject of this memoir was born, November 18, 1736. He studied
at Marischal college, where he took the degree of M.A. at the early age of
fourteen. About a year afterwards he became apprentice to his uncle, Dr.
John Fordyce, who practised as a surgeon at Uppingham, in Rutlandshire. He
subsequently went to the university of Edinburgh, where he studied
chemistry under Dr. Cullen, who was much pleased with his diligence and
ingenuity. In October 1758 he obtained his diploma of M.D. Shortly
afterwards he went to Leyden, for the purpose chiefly of studying anatomy
In 1759 he
returned to London, where, contrary to the wishes of his relations, he
determined to establish himself as a teacher and practitioner of medicine.
Accordingly, before the close of that year, with a class of only nine
pupils, he commenced a course of lectures upon chemistry. In 1764 he began
to lecture also upon materia medica and the practice of physic. These
three subjects he continued to teach for nearly thirty years, giving, for
the most part, three courses of lectures on each of them every year.
In 1762 Dr.
Fordyce married a daughter of Charles Stuart, Esq., conservator of Scots
privileges in the United Netherlands, by whom he had two sons and two
In 1765 he was
admitted a licentiate of the college of physicians. In 1768 he published
his ‘Elements of the Practice of Physic,’ a valuable epitome of medicine,
which he used as the textbook of his medical course. He obtained a
respectable share of private practice, and in 1770 was chosen physician to
St. Thomas’ Hospital, after a severe contest, when 109 voted for h im and
106 for Dr. Watson. In 1774 he became a member of the famous Literary Club
to which Dr. Johnson belonged. In 1776 his merit as a man of science
caused him to be elected a fellow of the Royal Society, in whose
Transactions he published some curious observations and experiments,
tending to show the power of the human body to resist the effects of a
very high temperature; as well as many other valuable papers.
In 1787 he was
admitted, speciali gratia, a fellow of the college of physicians;
and his chemical knowledge was of much value to that body in preparing a
new edition of their Pharmacopoeia. In 1793 he formed one of a small body
of physicians and surgeons which published several volumes under the title
of ‘Medical and Chirugical Transactions.’ Dr. Fordyce died May 25, 1802.
His works are:
Agriculture and Vegetation. Edin. 1765, 8vo, 2d edition, 1769, 8vo. 1771,
8vo. Lond. 1796, 8vo.
Elements of the
Practice of Physic. Part ii.; containing the history and method of
treating Fevers, and internal Inflammations. Lond. 1767, 8vo. Part i.;
containing the internal History of the Human Body. Lond. 1770, 8vo. Lond.
A Treatise on
the Digestion of Food. Lond. 1791.
simple Fever, or on Fever consisting of one Paroxysm only. Lond. 1794,
8vo. 2d edition, 1800, 8vo.
Part i.; containing the History and method of treatment of a regular
Tertian Intermittent. London, 1795, 8vo.
Part ii.; containing the History and method of treatment of a regular
continued Fever, supposing it is left to pursue its ordinary course. Lond.
Part iii.; containing an Inquiry into the effects of the Remedies which
have been employed with a view to carry off a regular continued Fever,
without leaving it to pursue its ordinary course. Lond. 1799, 8vo.
Part iv.; containing the history of Remedies to be employed in irregular
intermittent Fevers. London, 1802, 8vo.
containing the History of, and Remedies to be employed in irregular
continued Fevers. Together with the general conclusions to the four
preceding and present Dissertations. Lond. 1803, 8vo. posthumous.
Of the Light
produced by Inflammation. Phil. Trans. Abr. xiv. 93. 1776.
of various Ores in the Museum of Dr. William Hunter. Ib. 585. 1779.
A new Method of
Assaying Copper Ores. Ib. 608. 1780.
the Loss of Weight in Bodies, on being melted or heated. Ib. xvi. 13.
Of an Experiment
of Heat. Ib. 288, 1787.
Lecture on Muscular Motion. Ib. 361.
On the Cause of
the additional Weight which Metals acquire by being Calcined. Ib. 245.
Of a new
Pendulum. Ib. 336. 1794.
the Small-Pox, and the course of Fever, Trans. Med. and Chir. i. p. 1.
An Attempt to
improve the Evidence of Medicine. Ib. p. 243.
Observations upon the Combination of Medicines. Ib. ii. p. 314. 1800.
Family Record of the
Name of Dingwall Fordyce in Aberdeenshire
Showing descent from the first known progenitor of either name - both
direct and collateral with Appendex contaning notices of individuals and
families incidentally referred to compiled by Alexander Dingwall Fordyce
(Fergus, Ontario, Canada) (1885) (pdf) Volume II
Addenda to Main Record of Volume 1 and Appendix (1888) (pdf)