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The History of Fettercairn
Chapter X.—Landowners prior to the Seventeenth Century

PRIOR to the fifteenth century it is difficult, except in a general way, to trace the ownership of lands in and around the parish. The district, so far as may be inferred from old records and royal charters, comprised a greater extent of territory than that of the parish. In the tenth century Fettercairn was a thanedom, ruled by Maormors or Earls residing at Greencairn. At a later period other thanedoms appear as surrounding ones, viz., Newdosk, Kincardine, and Aberluthnot or Marykirk. But from subsequent disposals and settlements of lands, Fettercairn seems to have been the central and leading thanedom. The older records of Scotland, down to the accession of Robert the Bruce, were lost during the disputes for the crown in 1291-2. The most of these were, by order of Edward I., carried off to Berwick. Of the few that were left, one is a charter of lands in the Mearns by William the Lion in the twelfth century to Gulielmus Auceps, i.e., William the Hawker, ancestor of the Falconers. Another charter of Luthra, or lands of the Howe, along the north side of the Luther, including Balbegno, was granted by William the Lion, at the Castle of Kincardine, to Ranulph, the king's falconer, son of Walter of Lumgair. According to several authorities, the first of the Carnegics was constable to "William the Lion's house at Fettercairn," and for that service he got the lands of Phesdo and Pitnamoon. Other charters in the same reign conveyed lands, chiefly in the parishes of Laurencekirk and Fordoun, to the De Berkeleys (Barclays) and to the Abbey of Arbroath, founded by William the Lion. It is interesting to note that the first royal charter, to the town of Stirling, by Alexander II. on the 18th August, 1226, was granted and dated at Kincardine. In the reign of Alexander III. (1249-86), Reginald de Chen, Sheriff of Kincardine, rendered accounts of rents and taxes due to the king by thanes, whose names are not recorded, from the lands of Fettercairn. It is one of only two or three places noticed in vol. i. of the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland where a certain tax was paid by the thanes, in addition to their rents, under the name of "waytinga"—a duty which had come in place of the burden of entertaining the king for a night in his progresses. It was the practice of Alexander III. to move with his court from one castle to another and look after the administration of justice, consuming the agricultural produce of the adjoining demesnes and occupying his leisure with hawking and other field sports. At a later period this duty or tax was known as "Cuidoiche," a Celtic term, otherwise called "Conveth," a feast or a night's entertainment. This vague and burdensome exaction was afterwards converted into a definite food contribution from each ploughgate of land; but like cane, it ceased to be exigible when the vassal or occupant obtained feudal investiture. From 1262 to 1290, the entries in the Rolls are in the following terms, viz.:—" Ex compoto Reginald de Chen, vice comitis de Kincardyn factum, . . . waitinga unius noctis de Fetherkern, &c." Or, Entered per account of Reginald de Chen, Sheriff of Kincardine, ... . his lodging of one night at Fettercairn, <fcc. The items in detail are:—" Redditus vaccarum, porcorum, casei, brasei, farine ordei, gallinarum, prebende, &c." Or, Revenues, proceeds of cows, swine, cheese, malt, barley-meal, poultry, horse provender, <fec. Fettercairn also contributed for the "waytinga" an annual charge of eleven merks. The account also includes the expense (seven merks) of fencing a new park at Kincardine. The price of a cow was 5s., a sheep 1s., a pig 1d., a hen 1d., a chalder of barley 10s., of oats 15s., and of wheat 1, all in Scots money, which at that period was comparatively high in value. In the year 1359 William Keith, Sheriff of Kincardine, accounted for the thanage rents of "Fethir-kern, Kincardyn and Aberluchmoir or Aberluthnot, the park of Kincardyn and pertinents thereof in the hands of William Earl of Sutherland, who married Margaret, the sister of David II.

The annual thanage rent of Fettercairn was valued at 26 3s. Scots; and at a later period the total rents of the above three thanages were put down at 71 0s. 8d. Scots and six rynmarts or cows. These three thanages, granted for life to the Earl of Sutherland, were, at his death in 1370, given on military tenure to Sir Walter Lesley and his wife Euphemia, daughter of William Earl of Ross. She succeeded her father as Countess of Ross. She survived her husband and in 1382 married Alexander Stewart, Earl of Buchan, the notorious "Wolf of Badenoch," son of Robert II., and by this union he became for a time, along with his wife, conjoint holder of the lands, and a thane of Fettercairn. He had grants, in his own name, of lands in the North-Eastern Counties and in Perthshire, where stands to this day his great stronghold, the Castle of Garth. He deserted his wife, her Fettercairn and other possessions, for which the Bishop of Moray reproved him, and with a band of "wyld and wykked Helandmen," as Wynton calls them, he sacrilegiously burned and destroyed the Elgin Cathedral, the Chanonry, and the houses of the clergy.

The Countess of Ross was succeeded by her son Alexander, who died in 1406, leaving his titles and possessions, including the Fettercairn thanedoms, to Euphemia, his only child and daughter by his wife Isabella, daughter of the Regent Duke of Albany. This lady, known as the Nun-Countess, before entering a convent proposed to resign in favour of her maternal uncle, John Earl of Buchan, instead of her paternal aunt, Margaret, wife of Donald, Lord of the Isles. The island chief asserted his claim, and to enforce the same invaded the mainland and, with 10,000 men, encountered the Earl of Mar with the men of Aberdeen, Angus and Mearns, at Harlaw in 1411. His defeat in that bloody battle checked his conquering marches, and prevented his becoming not only lord of Kincardine and Fettercairn, but king of all Scotland. The lands of Fettercairn and Kincardine reverted to the Crown; but James I., about 1436, granted them to John, a son of Alexander, Lord of the Isles, whom the king created Earl of Ross, with the additional title of Lord Kincardine. Whether this Earl of Ross continued during his lifetime in possession of the lands in whole or in part is doubtful, but an entry dated 1450 bears that a ward of lands in the barony of Kincardine was held by Walter Ogilvy of Beaufort for John, the young Earl of Ross, till his majority. In 1460 the rents of the three thanages reverted to the Crown, and John de Strathachin of Thornton, as receiver of rents, rendered an account of the "fermes of Fethyrkerne, Ballinbegynoch, Balerchnoch (Barna), Balnakedyll, Foderay (Fasque), Bordelands, Fasdaivoch (Phesdo), and Wysemanystoun." Rynmarts or cows formed a part of the rents. In 1463 he fell into arrears, hut after three years recovered himself, and, in conjunction with David Guthrie, acted as receiver. From 1475 to 1484 Alexander Guthrie of that ilk, Sheriff of Forfar, collected the thanage rents of Fettercairn alias Kincardyn, which in 1480 amounted to 51 14s. 2d. and 3 marts. Henceforth the designation of the conjoined thanages is that of Fettercairn, like as in later times the lands of Kincardine have formed a part of the Fettercairn estate. In 1475 the lands of "Wodfield, Fresky, and Pitnamone, with the mills of Kincardyn and Fethirkerne, and also the lands of Essly, Balmane, and the two Strethis in the thanage of Fettercarne, with the annual rents of Kincardyn,"were confirmed by Charter of James III. to George, Lord Leslie of Rothes; which lands he and his predecessors held of the Earl of Ross, previous to the forfeiture of John Earl of Ross. These possessions then became the Barony of Balmain.

The Kirklands of Fettercairn were held from 1438 onwards by a Thomas Ogston, Baillie of Lanark, a descendant of the Ogstons who took their name from Ogston in Morayshire. By his wife, a daughter of Irvine of Drum, he had two daughters: Jane, to whom he left his property of Tilwhilly in Banchory Ternan, and Elizabeth, who with her husband, Adam Hepburn of Craigs, was infefted in " the town and lands of Kirkton of Fetter cairn,'' which, as stated in a previous chapter, was, by favour of James IV., in 1504 erected into a free burgh, with the usual privileges. They were succeeded by a cousin, John Ogston, who married a daughter of Barclay of Mathers, descended of David Barclay, the chief actor in the horrible deed on the hill of Garvock, about 1420, of throwing Melville of Glenbervie, the sheriff of the Mearns, into a boiling kettle, and acting out the king's hasty sentence that he be " sodden and suppit in bree."

John Ogston's successor was Alexander, who married Margaret, daughter of Alexander Strathauchin of Thornton and widow of John Ramsay, the first laird of Balmain. Alexander Ogston was succeeded by his son Walter, who in 1608 sold his property to his relative, David Ramsay of Balmain, for 9350 merks Scots, and died in 1615. Alexander Ogston was a Commissioner to the first General Assembly in 1560 "for the Kirks of the Mernes." He also attended the Assembly in 1567, and likewise that of 1592, which was held in Aberdeen. "Walter Ogstone, at Fetter-carne, subscribed the Band anent the Religion."

Resuming the narration of lands brought down to 1480, it may be stated that in the same year Alexander Guthrie, Sheriff of Forfar, accounted for 6, as grassum of Baller-nach (Barna), payable by William Levingstone of Drumry (Drumhendry) and others. He and his heirs were owners of Drumhendry. At that time the Bishop of Brechin received tithes of lands in the Mearns. A record in the Episcopal Register shows that tithes had been exacted from the lands of "Petnamone, Molendinum (Mill) de Kyncardyn, Fesky, Molendinum de Feddircarn, Balmane, Litil Strath, Mekil Stratht, et Esly," in the lordship of Balmane. Owing to a dispute that had arisen, a reference was made to the Regent, the Duke of Albany, and to the Pope, in 1463, regarding the right of the Bishop to the second tithes of Fettercairn; and these dignitaries settled the same in his favour.

At Edinburgh, on the 25th July, 1481, a return of the rents of Fettercairn was made as follows :

"Balbegnoch, assigned to William and James Strathachin for 5 years, 12 lbs. with services, and 36 poultry."

"Fothra, to David Clerc, land of, 40s. and a poultry."

"Thanstone, to David Strathaquhin, son and heir of James Strathaquhin of Thornton, 10 lbs. 1 mart, and 30 poultry."

"Fothra, let to Alexr. Wilson, Golfride Strathaquchin, Alexrr Robertson, 4 lbs. 2/3 mart, and 12 poultry."

"Balnokedill, to Andro and William Thomson, John Findlasonr David Mill, 6 lbs. grassum and 8 poultry."

"Mill of Luthre, to William and Walter Bane, John Lyell, William and John Fullartoun, 5 lbs., grassum 8 lbs."

"Balerno, in hands of David Strathachin and William Jamieson,.half and half 6 14s. 4d., and 18 poultry."

"Balmakewan, in hands of George Barclay, 10 lbs."

"The whole lands of Balnakedill, Fothray, and-Mill of Luthre, let by King's letters to John Strathachin of Thornton and David his son, as the tenants repudiated the terms of lease."

In 1487-8 the king granted to David Strathachin certain lands in Fordoun and Marykirk, with two parks, and the old Castle of Kincardine. In 1494 a sasin of Nether Craig-niston (Coldstream) was granted to a John Tulloch, and the same again in 1501. In this year William, Earl Marischalr was sheriff of Kincardine, and he intromitted with the lands of Fettercairn. For nearly two hundred years from 1488, Andrew Wood of Balbegno and his successors were Thanes of Fettercairn, and from 1510, when John Ramsay had a grant of Fasque and Balmain, the proprietary domains of Fettercairn and Kincardine were curtailed in extent much the same as is now the estate of Fettercairn. Yet the thanage extended beyond these lands; for in 1520 the sheriff of the county, Robert Rate, accounted for "Two toothpicks as the duplication of blench ferme of Glensauch in the thanage of Fettercairn." And in 1562 Queen Mary confirmed to Alexander Lindsay and Elizabeth Falconer his spouse the lands of Broadland and Phaisdo, in the thanage of Fettercairn. In 1593 the lands of Fettercairn again reverted to the crown; but in 1601 the king granted to Alexander Strathauchin, with other lands,. those of Thornton, the Castle, Castlested, parks and crofts-of Kincardine, with Huntersait, Crichieburn, Arnbarrowr the muirs and mosses from the Cairn 6' Mount and the Ferdour water down to the lands of Over Craigneston. In 1606 David Tulloch was served heir to an uncle, Alexander Tulloch in the barony of Craigneston, the-Mains, Mealmill and Netherseat of the same, Inchgray, &c. Later in that year, Alexander Strathauchin de Thornton was served heir to his grandfather, Alexander Strachan, in lands, muirs, mosses and pastures in Marykirk and For-doun, including Crichieburn; in lands

"Near the town of Kincardine, the croft called Hillcroft, and Aikerriggs thereof, the Wealcroft, Chancellor's croft, Dencroft,. 2 Calsey crofts, Lonie croft, Bakehouse croft, and Lorimer croft,. Burne croft, Halscroft, h of Boig's croft, and Coryismani'sy Beattie's croft, Annabadie's croft, 4 crofts of Craigisland of which 2 are called Hall croft and Hen croft, and 2 Hill Croft and Archer croft, the croft called James Pittercheidi's land, Countess croftr Countaishaugh croft; Loichetraist, Blaikindennis, Dewresunisr Wealcroft, of Umbrahi (?) croft called Bowmanis; all in town and constabulary of Kincardine, with lands, crofts and tenements-of Gallowhilston, Palframanston, Langhauche, Suitter croft, Temple croft, Skinner croft, Gois croft, Twa Chaippil crofts, Lonie croft, Aiker and Newlands with multures in said town. Ancient Extent, 20s. ; New Extent, 33s. Also 2 crofts in villa de Fetter-cairne. A. E., 3s. 4d. ; N. E., 6s. 8."

This long list of crofts and holdings, the curtilages of the castle, shows that in the service of the court a large number of people were employed. No trace remains of the town and its crofts, save the tree-grit and disused graveyard of St. Catherine, with the old road winding between the fertile and well-tilled fields of Castleton farm. Ten years later, in 1616, Alexander Strathauchin had an additional grant of Crichieburn and lands, resigned by Captain Alexander Wishart of Phaisdo, the commonty between the Cairn o' Month, Ferdour water, and the hill above Braelands of Balbegno, west from Feskie, called West Feskie, the lands of Dilbrek(?) and Cardounwell, as pendicles of Broadland, with fresh water fishings on the Northesk, Luther and Ferdour; with power to hold free fairs annually, one on the Muir of Hunteisait and Arnebarrow, or the Muir of Ord, and on that piece of muir between Arnebarrow and the water of Ferdour called Todlowis, on 28th July and eight days after; the other on the Muir of Kincardine, on the 26th August and eight •days after. John Earl of Rothes, in 1636, had a grant of Pitnamoone with the mills of Kincardine and Fettercairn, formerly held by his great-grandfather George Earl of Rothes, and in the following year William, Earl Marischal, was appointed constable of Kincardine, its crofts and Oallowhilston, with the advowson of the chapel of St. Catherine.

James Straquhane, who in 1635 is so designated as of Fettercairn when acquiring possession of the lands of Oaigniston, was probably a son of the above-named Alexander Stathauchin. The site of his house in Fetter-eairn, burnt in 1645 by the soldiers of Montrose, cannot now be determined, although a spot west of the mansion-house garden looks, from its hard and uneven surface, like the site of some old buildings. If after the burning James Straquhane betook himself to the Castle of Kincardine, it could only be for a few months, as it too was burnt down and finally reduced to ruins by his kinsman John Middleton, afterwards Earl Middleton, on the 16th March, 1646. . This event ended the connection of the Strachans with Fettercairn and Kincardine. Middleton's mother was Catherine Strachan, and the cause might be a big family quarrel; but the presumption is that the Strachans were Royalists, and that he, at the head of the Covenanting forces, sought to make himself master of the situation, and owner of the lands, like as he had just done at Montrose's castle and lands of Aid Montrose. Two years later, after his turning round and gaining the favour of Charles I., the lands and barony of Fettercairn were confirmed to him by a Royal Charter, dated 29th July, 1648, being that he "John Middleton, sup-emus dux exercitus locum tenens generalis (Lieutenant-General of the army), and Grizel Durham his wife, and the longest liver of them in conjunct fee, and the heirs legitimately procreated between them, are granted the Barony of Fettercairn in the County of Kincardine, formerly belonging to James Strachne." This grant, no doubt, included the town and lands of Kincardine. They were Middleton's property in 1670, according to the date on the Market Cross of Fettercairn, as the part of it bearing this date was erected by him at the old town of Kincardine. Besides, in the interval from 1648 to 1670, no other owner appears, and these lands have ever since formed part of Fettercairn estate.

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