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History and Traditions of the Land of the Lindsays
In Angus and Mearns and Notices of Alyth and Meigle by Andrew Jervise (1882)


When asked by the trustees of my deceased friend Mr. Jervise to carry out his latest arrangements regarding a new edition of the Land of the Lindsays, I felt great diffidence in entering upon such a work, while at the same time was unwilling, other engagements allowing it, to decline the confidence that he had shown by his request. Mr. Jervise was regarded as probably the foremost local antiquarian of his day, and the book itself had been received as an authority upon the district of which it treats. Fortunately Mr. Jervise had himself made some jottings upon his private copy, and these, when closely examined in detail, indicated pretty clearly the plan upon which he would have prepared the second edition, had he been spared to see it through the press. The plan involved a thorough revision of paragraph, phrase, and word, as well as a careful verification of date and fact on every page. By it I have been guided throughout, conserving the form and spirit, but not hesitating to alter freely, where I thought the alteration would more clearly express his mind, or to correct what I did not doubt that he himself would have acknowledged to be erroneous or out of taste. The later histories of the district have been largely U9ed for illustration and verification, but the authorities most relied upon have been charter evidence, where accessible, regarding the earlier periods, and family histories, where available, for both earlier and later. Where I have seen occasion to differ from the author, I have usually given my reason by a reference in the notes. I cannot be sufficiently grateful to the trustees for their ready help and generous confidence in the undertaking, to Messrs. J. Valentine and Sons, Dundee, for the use of their photographs in preparing the lithographed illustrations, or to the numerous gentlemen, clerical and lay, who have lent me every possible assistance. To Mr. James Davidson, Solicitor, Kirriemuir, I am specially indebted for his most painstaking and judicious revision of the proof-sheets, and willing counsel in every difficulty.


It may be proper to remark that this volume is the first which the author has published—a fact that will perhaps account for its numerous defects in composition and arrangement. The writer has devoted much of his leisure to the study of the history and antiquities of his native district—has felt the greatest pleasure in doing so—and has occasionally published scraps on the subject in provincial newspapers. These notices (which were all very defective) related chiefly to churchyard matter and to descriptions of remarkable antiquarian and historical peculiarities. In course of time, these not only gained provincial favour, and the good opinion of several gentlemen of literary note at a distance, but were proved to be so far useful, from the fact, that greater care has been shown for antiquarian relics since their publication, and a marked improvement has taken place in the mode of keeping many of the churchyards and tombstones in the district. [From the favour with which these notices were received, the author was afterwards induced to publish them under the title “ Epitaphs and Descriptions from Burial-Grounds and Old Buildings in the North-East of Scotland, with Notes, Biographical, Genealogical, and Antiquarian.” Two volumes have been published, and the remainder of the us. Notes and Memoranda have been handed over by his trustees to the custody of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Edinburgh {Proceeding*, iii. p. 237, new series).] The present volume owes its origin to the general interest that one of these papers created at the time; and from the kindness and courtesy of the Hon. Lord Lindsay, who was pleased to remark, in reference to the notice referred to,—“I wish your account of Glenesk had been published in time to have enabled me to avail myself of it in the ‘Lives.'

No apology is necessary, it is presumed, for the title of this volume. The lands, of which it is intended to preserve the History and Traditions, have been purposely selected, and were, at one time or other, under the sway of the powerful family of Lindsay-Crawford. Glenesk was the birthplace of the first Earl; Finhaven and Edzell were the cherished abodes of the family so long as its power survived; and its various members were proprietors of important portions of the Mearns from a remote period. Although these estates have long since passed to other hands, and the family is merely represented in its fatherland by a collateral branch, it is pleasing to know that the ancient title is still enjoyed by a lineal descendant of the original stock, whose son and heir-apparent is the impartial and elegant biographer of his illustrious progenitors.

Though traditions of the Lindsays are not so plentiful in the district as they were of old, when the hills and dales and running brooks were more or less associated with stories of their daring and valour, enough remains to show the almost unlimited sway which they maintained over the greater portion of Angus, and a large part of the Mearns. Like the doings of other families of antiquity, those of the Lindsays are mixed with the fables of an illiterate age; and, though few redeeming qualities of the race are preserved in tradition, popular story ascribes cruel and heartless actions to many of them. Still, extravagant as some of these stories are, they have not been omitted, any more than those relating to other persons and families who fall within the scope of this volume; and, where such can be refuted, either by reference to documentary or other substantial authority, the opportunity has not been lost sight of.

The way in which erroneous ideas have been reiterated regarding old families, and the transmission of their properties, etc., has led to much confusion, the evils of which are most apparent to those who attempt to frame a work of such a nature as the present. From the author’s desire to correct these errors, the book will, perhaps, have more claim to the title of a collection of facts regarding the history and antiquities of the Land of the Lindsays than to a work of originality and merit, and may therefore be less popular in its style than most readers would desire; but this, it is hoped, has been so far obviated by the introduction of snatches regarding popular superstitions, and a sprinkling of anecdote. Due advantage has been taken of the most authentic works that bear on the history of the district, for the use of the greater part of which, and for a vast deal of valuable information, the writer is particularly indebted to the kindness of Patrick Chalmers, Esq. of Aldbar. He is also under deep obligation to the Hon. Lord Lindsay, not only for many important particulars which he has been pleased to communicate regarding his family history, but for the great interest he has taken in otherwise advancing the work.

In notices of prehistoric remains the lover of antiquity may find the volume rather meagre. This, the writer is sorry to remark, has arisen, in a great measure, from the desire which most discoverers have of retaining or breaking any valuable relics with which they meet. Although a change for the better has recently taken place regarding antiquities, still the peasantry, into whose hands those treasures are most likely to fall, have a sadly mistaken view of their value; and in the vain hope of being enriched by a personal possession, they deprive themselves of remuneration altogether. In destroying pieces of pottery-ware, metals, and similar articles, they tear so many leaves—so to speak—from the only remaining volume of the remote and unlettered past, thus placing— perhaps for ever—the attainment of some important particular regarding the history of our forefathers beyond the reach of inquiry. The baneful law of treasure-trove has much to account for on this score; but there is reason to believe that the evil might be so far modified through an express understanding between landlords and tenants, and tenants and servants.

The Appendix will be found to contain many interesting and hitherto unpublished papers, particularly those illustrative of the ravages of the Marquis of Montrose and his soldiers in certain parts of Angus. The old Rental-Book of Edzell and Lethnot, from which copious extracts have been taken, was lately rescued from total destruction in a farm “bothie” in Lethnot. Though a mere fragment, the portion preserved is important, not only from its showing the value and nature of the holdings of the period, but from its handing down the names of many families who are still represented in the district.

In thanking his numerous friends and subscribers for their kind support, the author feels that some apology is necessary for the delay which has occurred in the publication. This has arisen from two causes—mainly from a protracted indisposition with which the writer was seized soon after advertising the volume; and partly from including in it the history of the minor Lindsay properties in Angus, and of those in Mearns, etc.—an object which was not originally contemplated. From the latter cause the volume has necessarily swelled far beyond the limits at first proposed; still, the author does not feel himself justified in increasing the price to subscribers, but the few remaining copies of the impression will be sold to non-sub-scribers at a slight advance. He begs also to express his deep obligation to those who took charge of subscription lists, and so disinterestedly and successfully exerted themselves in getting these filled up, as well as to various Session-Clerks, and numerous correspondents, for their kindness in forwarding his inquiries.

Brechin, August 1853.

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