Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

Arbroath and its Abbey
Chapter X - Possessions of the Abbey

WE have never yet seen any comprehensive state of the large and varied possessions of the Abbey of Arbroath. The best that have appeared are those contained in the Book of the Assumptions, and the account of the Collector General of the thirds of benefices in the year 1561; and in the "Charge of the Temporalitie" as annexed to the Crown in the year 1592. But these lists were drawn up subsequent to the Reformation, for special purposes, and after the Abbey had lost several lands, churches, houses, fishings, and others, which belonged to it for ages previously. The "Charge of the Temporalitie" contains an interesting description of certain lands, all of which had by that time been alienated as perpetual feus, but broken up into fragments, and arranged with respect to the feu-holder only, and not in relation to locality, so that it becomes a difficult matter from such a document, to obtain a. view even of the lands which had once belonged to the monastery.

It would require a considerably extensive knowledge of the topography of the northern counties, to be able to give a very accurate view of the Abbey lands in those districts; although the following list will enable any one acquainted with the boundaries of the baronies after-named to trace them out with considerable correctness. It is impossible at this late period to give a complete view of the Abbey possessions, nor one into which errors will not intermingle. In the list here given these possessions are arranged under different heads, which will sometimes occasion more than one reference to the same tract of country, as the different kinds of endowments occur. The lands were at first almost wholly held by the Convent in property; but they were gradually feued out, till at last nothing except the superiority remained.


In Angus.-1. The village and schyre of Aberbrothock, with the territory of Athynglas ; being nearly conterminous with the modern parishes of Arbroath and St Vigeans, including the lands of Guynd, Milton of Conon, and others, in the north-east part of the (modern) parish of Carmylie. The detached barony of Inverpefler was held of the Abbey as superior.

2. The village and schyre or parish of Athyn or Etbie ; which included the present estate of Ethie so far as now annexed to the parish of Inverkeillor, lying on the south side of the Keillor burn, or the middle of Balnamoon mire.

3. The village and schyre of Dunechtyn; containing at first the largest or western portion of the parish of Dunnichen, and ultimately the estate of Dumbarrow, or the detached portion of that parish.

4. The village and whole schyre or barony of Kyngoldrum; being nearly conterminous with the parish of Kingoldrum. Athynglas, Dunnichen, and Kingoldrum were given under burden of the liferent of Andrew bishop of Caithness.

5. The lands called the Abbacie or Abthanerie of Old Montrose, in superiority, with three stones of wax as feu-duty. King William was the donor of the whole above-mentioned lands, except the lands of Conon, Dumbarrow, and certain lands at Kingoldrum, with the woods on these lands, which were given by his son King Alexander II. in forestry.

6. Thirteen acres of land near the church of Fethmuref (Barry); given by William Cumyn, Sheriff of Forfar.

7. Two oxgates of land at Rossie, in Gowrie; given by Hugo Mallierbe.

8. Lands at Broughty or North Ferry, and hospital; given by Gilchrist Earl of Angus.

9. The land on the south side of the church of Alonifod (Monifieth), which the Culdees had, with a toft and croft on the east side of that church; given by Maud Countess of Angus.

10. The davoch of Ballegilgrand; given by Donald Abbot of Brechin. These lands are believed by some to be those of Ballishan or Bolshan, in Kinnell parish; but there is not any direct evidence of this in the Chartulary. Bolshan was afterwards given by the Countess of Angus.

11. A toft and croft and two acres of land at Stracatherach (Stracathro), with the teinds of the fishing-net on North Esk; given by Turpin Bishop of Brechin.

12. Ten acres of land in the plain of Kinblethinont, and half an acre in the village at the chapel toft, with the oblations pertaining to the chapel of Kinblethmont; given by Richard de Maleville.

13. The lands lying betwixt Aldenkonkro and Aldendoven, in the territory of Kirriemuir; given by Malcolm Earl of Angus. These lands may probably be found in Glenprosen, or near the north boundary of Kingoldrum parish. Earl Malcolm stated in his grant that there had been controversy between him and the monks regarding them.

14. The lands of Brakie, Bolshan, Kenbraid, and Frithmuir, in the parish of Kinnell, and common pasturage in the King's muir of Montrithmont ; given by Margaret Stewart, Countess of Angus.

15. The lands of Hedderwick, near Montrose ; the donor of which we have not ascertained.

16. The church lands of Inverkeillor, now the farm of Kirkton, with pasturage in the territory of Inverkeillor; granted, along with the church of that parish, by Walter de Berkeley, at the foundation of the Abbey.

17. The lands of Auldbar in the barony of Kethick.

18. The lands of Konan-mor-capil, now called Backboath ; given by William de Montalto.

19. The lands of Cotside, Balskelly, Cowbyres, and Whitelums, in the parish of Barry; also the lands of Greenlawhill, Easter Barryhill, and Wester Barryhill.

The barony of Inverarity, near Forfar, has been said to belong to the Abbey, and to have been feued to Alexander Burnet of Leys, on 27th July 1500. This is a mistake.. A liferent lease of Invercanny, near BanchoryTernan, was granted by the Convent to Burnet of Leys on that day ; but the Abbey never had lands near Inverarity.

In Mearns. - 20. A plougligate of land in Monethen or Mondyne, on the river Bervie; given by King William.

21. The lands of Balfeith or Belphe ; given by Umfrid de Berkeley.

22. Two oxgates of land, called the Rath of Ketteryn (Katterline), on the coast; given by William Fitz-Bernard.

23. All the lands of Glaskeler, lying betwixt the church and the rivulet of Katteryn; given by John de Montfort.

24. A ploughgate of the lands of Balekelefan; given by Richard de Frivill.

25. The whole lands of Nyg, including the parish of Nigg, in the north-eastern corner of the county (excepting the kirklands of Nigg belonging to the bishops of St Andrews); given by King Alexander II. These lands were afterwards formed into the barony of Torry. The Convent had a church or religious house at Torry called the Abbot's Chapel. This chapel probably stood at the spot now called Abbot's Walls.

26. The lands of Tubertachthas, Glenferkeryn, Kinkell, Culback, Auchinblae, Blairs, Catterlin, Miln, &c., in the parish of Fordoun; given by Robert Warnebald and Richenda his spouse. These lands were afterwards held by the Convent under the general title of the Barony of Newlands.

27. The lands of Conveth, Halton, Scotston, and Mill of Conveth, near Laurencekirk.

28. The lands and barony of Banchory-Tern-an, on the river Dee.

29. The lands of Ardoch, in the parish of BanchoryDevenick.

30. The lands of Petmegartney were given by Stephen de Kinardley.

In Perthshire and Fifeshire. - 31. The lands of Bellach and Petinlour were given by King William, along with the church of Abernethy. The Convent for a long period held the former lands (probably Ballow, near Abernethy). They also held for ages the teinds of Wester Pitlour, in that part of Abernethy parish which lies in Fifeshire : but they either never acquired or had given away the property right to the lands at an early period.

In Lanarkshire. - 32. The lands between Ethkar and Calledouer were given by Thomas, the son of Thancard, in the time of King William. He stated that his father had received these lands from King Malcolm. This tract of land was of considerable extent, and was afterwards erected into the Regality of Ethcarmuir, of which the Abbot continued to be overlord till the Reformation, although the property or rents of the lands were feued at an early period for half-a-stone of wax, payable yearly at the messuage, if asked. The lands consisted of the eastern half of the parish of Cambusnethan, lying between the water of Auchter and South Calder river.

In Aberdeenshire. - 33. The village and lands of Tarves, Cairnbroggin, Milton, Newton, Smiddiehill, Brakcalaw, Tillicarne, Tulielt, Cairnfechill, Auchinleck, Kirktown of 'i'arves, Milns of Tulielt and Fechill, Cowlie, and others, in the parish of Tarves, afterwards incorporated into the barony of Tarves. A part, if not the whole of these lands, were given by King Alexander II., and they were formed into a separate regality by a charter from King Robert Bruce.

34. The lands of Ardlogy, Lenthendy, and others, in the vicinity of Fyvie. These, with the mill of Fyvie and the lands of Mondurno, were afterwards formed into the barony of Fyvie. In 1179 Fergus Earl of Buchan founded a religious house or priory for the Order of St Benedict on the banks of the river Ythan, within this parish. It was dedicated to the Virgin Mary; and was bestowed by the earl on the Abbey of Arbroath, of which it henceforth became a cell or dependent house. The grant was confirmed by Margaret Countess of Buchan, his daughter, who married Sir William Cumin, afterwards Earl of Buchan. In 1285 Reginald de Cheen granted to the Abbey of Arbroath "and to the monks of that monastery in the religious house constructed on the lands of Ardlogy, near the church of St Peter of Fyvie," all his lands of Ardlogy and Lenthendy; and his gift was on the same day confirmed by Henry Bishop of Aberdeen. Abbot Bernard appointed one named Albert to the office of custodier of the house of Fyvie in 1323; and in 1325 he addressed to him a letter as to the discipline, rules, and services of the house, which will be afterwards referred to. In the same year King Robert Bruce granted a writ for the settlement of the marches betwixt the Abbey lands of Ardlogy and his park of Fyvie; in which he refers to the burgesses of "our burgh of Fyvyne," and their claim to take peats from the lands of Ardlogy. Fyvie was once ranked among the royal burghs: it is now annihilated. The points in dispute were decided by a jury of twenty-one men, most of whom were destitute of surnames. In 1361 Abbot William made Patrick de Firmatorio custodier of the house of Fyvie. Malcolm Brydy, afterwards abbot, was prior of Fyvie in 1451; and at the same time John of St Andrews was custodier of the house. In 1471 Alexander Masoun, prior of Fyvie, did much for the repair and enlargement of its buildings. He rebuilt the chapel and offices, and enclosed the garden with a wall. He was still prior in 1484, when he took a prominent part in the election of Abbot David Lichtone. This priory continued its dependence on the Abbey of Arbroath till the Reformation, when its revenues were given up in the various accounts as worth about 400 Scots. Beside some small remains of the buildings, the memory of this house is kept up by the name of the "Prior's Well" and the "MIonkshill" in their neighbourhood. The patron saint of the church is commemorated by "Peterwell" in its vicinity.

35. A ploughgate of the lands of Kinnethmont, in Garioch; given by Earl David, brother of King William.

36. The lands of MZundurnach or MMTondurno, on the river Don ; given by Roger de St Michael.

37. The lands of Abbots Hall, at Futy, within the burgh of Aberdeen. The name of Futy is derived from "Fotinus," the patron saint of the church of Nigg and of the village of Torry, on the south side of Dee.

In Banffshire. - 38. The lands of Forglen, with the custody of the "Brecbennaeh," or ancient consecrated banner of St Columba; granted by King Gilliam. Under this ancient standard the Abbey tenants were marched to war. The office of Keeper was always held by a family of distinction.

39. The Kirklands and Kirktown of Inverbondie; given by King William along with the church of that parish, now called Boyndie.


King William granted to the Abbey a Loft or tenement in each of his burghs, and where he had manors or residences. And from the Abbey -writs it appears that, in consequence of grants from him and others, the Convent actually held such toffs—sometimes called hostilages—in the following burghs, viz.: — Forres, Aberdeen, Perth, Forfar, Montrose, Dundee, Craill, Kinghorn, Inverkeithing, Stirling, Edinburgh, Peebles, Berwick-upon-Tweed, and in the village of Auchterarder. The greater number of these tenements were feued away previous to the Reformation; the feuars being often taken bound to provide temporary lodgings for the abbot and monks when they visited the place. The "Charge of the Temporalitie" only takes notice of two tenements in Aberdeen, one in Perth, and one in Arbroath. The Convent also held lands at Linlithgow, and a granary in Leith.


The Abbey possessed right to many fishings. The following may be specified: —1. A net fishing in Tay, called Stok; and 2. A net fishing in the North Esk, called St Thomas; both granted by King William. 3. A half-mark out of the fishing of Ur on Tay; granted by the Earls of Strathearn. 4. Fishings at Broughty on the Tay; granted by Gilchrist Earl of Angus. 5. Fishings at Banchory Devenick, on the Dee. 6. Salmon fishings on the Dee, called Poldoun-Largat, in the barony of Torry. 7. A net fishing near the Bridge of Dee. S. Fishings at Inverbondie, part of King William's gifts in that district; with right to a boat in "St Brandon's haven. 9. Fishing rents payable from Inverness in herrings, salted and in barrels.


1. The Abbey obtained from King William, and for a long period retained the right to the Batell or ferry-boat at Montrose, with the land attached to it. 2. They possessed the right to a ferry-boat at Kincorth on the Dee, where the bridge now crosses that river. This boat had probably belonged to the barony of Torry.


The Abbey possessed, 1. A right to take timber from all the king's forests; granted by King William and King Alexander II., and renewed by King Robert Bruce. 2. The wood of Trustach on the Dee ; granted by Thomas do Lundy n, durward or door-keeper to King William. 3. The right of taking coals (charcoal) from the wood of Edale (Edzell) ; granted by John Abbe the son of Malise. 4. The rights of free forestry on the lands of Conon, Dumbarrow, and Kingoldrum ; granted by Alexander II., as already mentioned. King Robert Bruce afterwards granted the Park of Conon and Dumbarrow in warrenry. 5. The right of free forestry in the King's Park of Drum; given by King Robert Bruce.


1. King William bestowed on the Convent a saltwork in the Carse of Stirling, beside his own saltworks, with five acres of adjoining land and common pasturage attached. It is difficult to comprehend how a saltwork on the brackish waters of the Forth could have been a boon to Arbroath Abbey, situated close to the German Ocean. 2. A saltwork at Dun, with an acre of land, was granted by John do Hastings.


Not long after the establishment of the Abbey, it obtained right to forty-six churches, with the manses, glebes, church lands, and tithes attached to them. The greater part of these churches were obtained from King William. The remainder were granted by the Earls of Angus, the Bishops of St Andrews, Brechin, and Dunkeld, the De Berkeleys, and other grandees of the time. Some of the church lands extended to the size of considerable farms, such as the lands of Inverlunan and the Kirktown of Inverkeillor. The names of the churches were (In Angus and Mfearns)—Aberbrothoc or St Vigeans, *St Mary of Old Munros or Alaryton, Newtyle, Glammis, Ethie or St Murdoch, Dunnichen, Kingoldrum, Inverlunan or Lunan, Panbride, *Fethmuref or Barry, *Guthrie, Monikie, Monifieth, Muirhous or iurroes, Kirriemuir, Earls-Strathdichtie or Mains, Arbirlot, Inverkeillor, Ruthven, Clova, *Nigg, *Kateryn or Catterlin, Garvock. (In Aberdeenshire and Northern Counties) —Banchory-St-Ternan, Coul, *Tula or Tulunauth, Fyvie, Tarves, Inverbondie, Fetter-Angus, Gamery, Aberchirdor or St Marnoch,* Turriff, *Inverugie, Kinnerny, Bothelnie, Forg, Langley, Banff, Inverness. . (In Perthshire and Fifeshire)—Abernethy, with. the chapels of *Dron, *Errol, and Dunbog, which were dependencies on the church of Abernethy in the time of King William. (In Nithsdale)—*Kirkmahoe. (In England—*.Hautwisel or Haltwbistle, in Tynedale. Those to which an asterisk is prefixed were alienated or suppressed previous to the Reformation, leaving `thirty-four churches in actual possession at that time. The church' of Barry was acquired by the monks of Balmerino at an early period; and the church of Guthrie was given up by the Convent about the time when it was erected into a collegiate establishment previous to the year 1479.


The annual-rents or ground-annuals given to the Abbey out of the lands of various proprietors were numerous; although it is not, in some cases, easy to distinguish such ground-annuals from the feu-rents, payable to the Abbey by the feuing out of their own lands. We may mention a few of the former class. 1. One silver merk, given by Fergus Earl of Buchan. 2. Two shillings from the lands of Balenaus; given by Thomas Malherbe. 3. A half silver merk from the Mill of Haddington; given by William de Vallibus. 4. Two shillings given by Thomas de Lundyn, doorkeeper to the king. 5. One hundred shillings from the Manor of Forfar; granted by Alexander II., for behoof of thirteen poor persons. 6. Ten merks from the lands of Monifieth ; given by the same monarch for augmentng the wax lights of the abbey church. 7. Four silver merks from the king's lands of Kinghorn; given by Robert Bruce, for sustaining lights round the tomb of King William. 8. Four beeves yearly granted by Maldoueny Earl of Lennox, with twenty beeves at his death, on condition that his name and the name of Aveleth, his brother, be inscribed in the martyrology of the monks, and that they be yearly absolved by the chapter on their anniversary. The four beeves were afterwards commuted for two silver merks yearly, payable at Cambuskenneth. 9. Ten merks from the lands of Redhall, Balfeych, and Mill, in the barony of Newlands, in Mearns, with a piece of ground lying in front of the cathedral church of Brechin; given by John Wishart of Pittarrow, knight, to the chaplainry and altar of St Thomas the martyr, in the cathedral.
About the year 1560, the Convent had also right to forty shillings annually from lands at Glammis; 12s. 6d. from a tenement in Perth; 6s. 8d. from a tenement in Dundee; 40s, from a tenement in Aberdeen; 4, 6s..10d. from the Grange of Monifieth; 39s. 10d. from the lands of Balgillo; and 13s. 8d. from the lands of Ballumby in the parish of Niurroes.


In virtue of royal sanction the Convent of Arbroath founded two burghs on their domains, viz.:-1. The burgh of barony and regality of Aberbrothock. At the Reformation the Abbey retained annual-rents amounting to 11, 10s. 1d. Scots, payable from the older portion of the burgh, and L13, 16s. Scots, payable from the feus of the Almory, which are not included in the rentals after referred to. By that time the greater part of the rents of the old burgh belonged to the Lady Chapel, the altarages of St Nicholas, St Sebastian, and the dirigie dues payable to the altar of St Dupthacus. 2. The burgh of barony of Torry, in the parish of Nigg, was erected by a charter from King James IV. on 11th December 1495, in honour of the blessed martyr Saint Thomas, and Saint Fotinus, patron of the village of Torry, and out of love and favour for David Abbot of Arbroath, and for the convenience and hospitality of all others who travelled beyond the Mounth to Aberdeen or other northern parts of the kingdom. The king conferred on this little burgh the right to buy and sell all merchandise, and to exercise all kinds of trade with the freedom of a burgh of barony; and, with consent of the Abbot, to elect bailies and other officers; to have a cross and weekly market, and an annual fair at the feast of St Fotinus and the four following days, with the tolls and customs leviable at the fir. In the year 1509 the Abbot and Convent appointed William Rolland, burgess of Aberdeen, to be the bailie and commissioner, to admit new burgesses, and to parcel out and dispose of roods and crofts in their burgh of Torry "newly erected" for the utility of the place.


In the end of the year 1561 the Privy Council passed an act that the rentals of all the benefices of the kingdom should be produced, in order that the third parts of their proceeds should be levied for the use of the reformed clergy and the Queen, leaving the remaining two-thirds in the possession of the popish incumbents. The rentals given up by virtue of this order and others enforcing it were formed into a list called the "Book of Assumption of Thirds;" and among the rents of the great benefices the income of the Abbey of Arbroath stands assumed, or supposed to be, 2873, 14s. Scots money; 35 chalders wheat; 156 chalders 2 bolls 2 firlots bear; 200 chalders 3 bolls 2 firlots meal; 27 chalders 2 bolls oats; 37 barrels salmon; 2 barrels grilse. This rental would, at that period, be nearly equal to what 9847, 14s. sterling is in the market at the present time. But these rents must either have been assumed at too high an amount, or the collector-general of the thirds had failed in getting payment. This will be seen by comparing the above quantities with those which the "comptare" or comptroller—Wishart of Pitarrow—charged against himself as having received out of the " Abbacie of Aberbrothoik" for the year 1561. When to these "thirds" actually received, other two-thirds are added, there arises a great defalcation in every item, excepting the oats. Thus:—Scots money, 2483, 5s.: Wheat, 26 chalders 9 bolls 1 firlot; bear, 118 chalders 7 bolls 31 pecks; meal, 168 chalders 8 bolls 2 firlots 11 pecks; oats, 27 chalders 10 boll 3 firlots 3s pecks; salmon, 15 barrels. It appears that 800 of the money, as "super-plus of the thirds" of Arbroath Abbey, were paid to the Crown; and that Wishart dealt out the remainder to the working clergy with such a careful hand as to lead to the proverb, "The good laird of Pitarrow was an earnest professor of Christ, but the meikle deevil receive the Comptroller."

The Book of Assumption gives the following general abstract of the "Temporalitie" or lands of the Abbey, viz.: —The baronies of Arbroath, Dunnichen, Ethie, Kingoldrum, Newlands, Torry, Banchory-Ternan, and Tarves; and in regard to the Church tithes to which the Abbey had right, and which were in those days termed the Spirituality of the benefice, it gives a list of the thirty-four churches remaining at the Reformation.

The following is an abstract of "the charge of the Temporalitie of the haill Kirklandis" of the Abbey "annexit to oure Souerane Lordis Crowne" in 1592, thirty years after the previous rent rolls were framed. By that time the whole lands of the Abbey, except the precinct, had been feued out ; and the feu-duties are taken payable in Scots money, wheat, bear, meal, oats, salmon, poultry, &c. This long list however does not specify the feu-duties of the office of bailiary of the regality of Arbroath, nor the duties payable from lands at Fyvie, and office of bailiary of fiyvie and Tarves; and certain lands, such as those of Kenny Alekil and Middle Persie at Kingoldrum, are merely charged "with service used and wont." With these exceptions the Whole feu-duties of the Abbey lands, described as lying in the counties of Forfar, Kincardine, Aberdeen, Banff, and Perth, are found to amount to: Scots money, 1499, 6s. 10d ; rynmart silver, a 8, 12s. 6d. Scots; wheat, 8 chalders 14 bolls 1 firlot; bear, 35 chalders 14 bolls 2 firlots; meal, 19 chalders 14 bolls; oats, 20 chalders 6 bolls 1 firlot; horse corn, 9 chalders 3 boils; 3 barrels salmon; 185 capons; 250 poultry; 1 ryn wedder; 1 sow; 23 carriages of hay, &c.; 151 loads of peat and turfs.

The whole of the duties above noted, except about '410, 10s. 7d., part of the Scots money, are leviable from lands situated in the county of Forfar. In order to obtain an approximation to the market value of these rents about the time when they were fixed—nearly three hundred years ago—the following calculations are given:-

1st. As a pound Scots would at that period suffice for the purchase of as much in the market as can now be purchased for a pound sterling, the whole money feu-rents, amounting to x'1507, 19s. 4d. Scots may be stated as equal to the same amount in sterling money,

viz., . 1507 19 4
2nd. Wheat at 30s. per boll, . . 212 7 6
3rd. Bear, meal, oats, horse-corn, at an
average of 20s. per boll, . 1365 15 0
4th. Capons and poultry at 1s. 6d. each, 32 14 0
5th. Other items at least, 10 0 0

Amounting to 3128 15 10 —That is to say, the Abbey rents, so far as set down in the list of 1592, would, about 1560, purchase as many commodities as could in 1859 be purchased for 3128, 15s. 10d. But in order to ascertain their actual market value at the present time, eleven-twelfth parts of the money-rents, or 1382, 6s. 1d. must be deducted on account of the depreciation of Scots money, which reduces the value of the rents in the market of 1859 to -1746, 9s. 9d. sterling.

Some idea of the present yearly value of the lands which were formerly bestowed on the Abbey may be learned from the fact that the rental of four out of the eight baronies or parishes which it possessed, viz., Aberbrothock, Ethic, Dunnichen and Kingoldrum, amounted, by the recent valuation, to 13,848, 16s.

Return to Book Index Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus