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The Scottish Nation

BRODIE, a surname belonging to an ancient family in the county of Elgin, the first of which was one Michael, son of Malcolm, thane of Brothie and Dyke in the reign of Alexander the Third. This Michael, in 1311, had a charter of the lands of Brodie from King Robert Bruce, as his father’s heir, and from the lands took the surname. In ancient writings the name is called Brothie, afterwards softened into Brodie. In the Gaelic the word Broth signifies a ditch of mire, the same as dyke in Saxon and digue in French; and the parish in which the lands of Brodie are principally situated is named Dyke. Shaw in his History of the Province of Moray, (p. 146, edition 1827), says, “The mire, trench or ditch that runneth from the village of Dyke to the north of Brodie-house seemeth to have given this place the name of Brodie. Be this as it will; the antiquity of this name appreareth from this that no history, record, or tradition (that I know of) doth so much as hint that any other family or name possessed the lands of Brodie before them, or that they came as strangers from another country. I incline much to think that they were originally of the ancient Moravienses, and were one of those loyal tribes, to whom King Malcolm the Fourth gave lands about the year 1160, when he transplanted the Moray rebels. At that time surnames were fixed; and the MacIntoshes, Inneses, Rosses, then assumed their names, and probably so did the Brodies; and their arms being the same with those of the Morays showeth that they were originally the same people.” In Austrian Galicia is a town of the name of Brody, probably from some peculiarity in its site similar to that of the estate of Brodie in the parish of Dyke, in Moray.

      The old writings of the family of Brodie of Brodie were either carried away or destroyed by Lord Lewis Gordon (third marquis of Huntly), when he burnt Brodie house in 1645. The family, however, can be traced back for five hundred years. John de Brothie is mentioned in the Chartulary of Moray, 11th October 1380, as in attendance on the earl of Mar, lieutenant of the north, about the year 1376. Thomas de Brothie also appears in the Chartulary of Moray, with his two sons, John and Alexander, in a negotiation regarding the vicarage of Dyke, 4th December 1386. His younger son was vicar of Dyke. Alexander Brothie of Brothie was chief of the jury who served William Sutherland heir to Duffus, and was summoned before the lords of council to answer for his verdict, 26th January 1484. He died in 1491. John of Brodie is repeatedly mentioned in the Chartulary of Moray as an arbiter in 1492. He assisted the Mackenzies against the Macdonalds at the battle of Blair-na-Park in 1466, and is witness in an indenture between the thane of Calder and the baron of Kilravock in 1482. His great grandson, Alexander Brodie of Brodie, John Hay, son of the laird of Park, and one hundred and twenty-five other persons were, in November, 1550, denounced rebels for not submitting to the law, for ‘umbesetting’ the way of Alexander Cumming of Alter (Altyre), and his servants, and for the cruel mutilation of one of them. His eldest son, David Brodie of Brodie, had a charter from his brother George, of the dominical lands of Brodie, 29th May, 1596 and his estate was erected into the barony of Brodie, 22d July 1597. According to the diary of his grandson, afterwards mentioned, he was born in 1553, and died in May 1626, aged seventy-four. He had six sons and one daughter, of whom an account is given in Shaw’s ‘History of Moray.’ Alexander, the second son, purchased the lands of Lethen, Pitgavenie, and Kinloss in the counties of Nairn and Moray, and was ancestor of the Brodies of Lethen and Coulmony, now represented by Mr. James Campbell Brodie.

      His eldest son, also David Brodie of Brodie, was born in 1586, and died 22d September, 1632. He married a niece by the mother’s side of the admirable Crichton. Alexander Brodie of Brodie, the eldest son of this marriage, styled Lord Brodie as a senator of the College of Justice, born 25th July 1617, sent to England, 1628, and succeeded to the estate in 1632, was a man of extraordinary piety, learning, and ability. His diary, containing the record of his religious experience, gives a curious account of his life, and illustrates some parts of the history of the times in which he lived. Extracts from it were published in 1740. He represented the county of Elgin in the parliaments of 1643 and following years, and from the many parliamentary committees of which he was a member, he appears to have been greatly in the confidence of the estates. In March 1649 he accompanied Mr. George Winram, advocate, afterwards a lord of session under the judicial title of Lord Libberton, to Holland, when he went with the commissioners from parliament appointed to treat with Charles the Second, and was appointed an ordinary lord of session on 22d June of that year. He accepted the situation, and gave his oath de fideli administratione im presence of parliament, on the 23d July, but did not take his seat on the bench till 1st November 1649. Shortly afterwards he proceeded to Breda to arrange with Charles the Second as to the conditions of his return to Scotland. He was a member of the various committees of estates, appointed to rule in Scotland during the intervals of parliament, and Commissary-general to the army in October 1650. In June 1653, he was cited to London by Cromwell to treat of a union between the two kingdoms, but according to the words of his own diary, “resolved and determined in the strength of the Lord, to eschew and avoid employment under Cromwell.”  He accordingly resisted all the requests made to him, to accept of office as a commissioner for the administration of justice, until after the death of the Protector, but shortly after that event he took his seat on the bench on the 3d December 1658. After the restoration he was fined £4,800 Scots, although the monies disbursed by him at Breda had not been yet repaid. He died in 1679, having married a daughter of Sir Robert Innes, by whom he had a son, James, and a daughter, Grizel.

      Joseph, the second son of David Brodie of Brodie, above-mentioned, and next brother of Lord Brodie, called “of Aslisk,” had, by a daughter of Dundas of Duddingstone, two sons who survived him; George, who afterwards succeeded to the estate of Brodie; and James of Whitehall, who purchased Coltfield and Spynie. The latter married, in 1698, his cousin, Margaret, the sixth daughter and co-heiress of James Brodie of Brodie, and had a son, James Brodie of Spynie, advocate, and sheriff-depute of Moray and Nairn (died in 1756), who wedded Emilia Brodie, and had (with three daughters) three sons, namely, James, who inherited Brodie, upon the death of his cousin Alexander in 1759; George, a colonel in the army; and Alexander, who made a large fortune at Madras and bought Arnhall in Kineardineshire. By his wife, Elizabeth Margaret, daughter of the Hon. James Wemyss of Wemyss castle, the latter had an only daughter and heiress, Elizabeth, married in 1813 to George, fifth and last duke of Gordon, who died in 1836.

      James Brodie of Brodie, son of Lord Brodie, born 15th September 1637, succeeded in 1679. He took to wife Lady Mary Ker, sister of Robert, first marquis of Lothian. The event is thus recorded in Lord Brodie’s diary, “28th July, My son was married with Lady Mary Ker, and on the 31st July 1659, she did subscribe her covenant to and with God, and became his, and gave herself up to him.” In 1685 the laird of Brodie was fined £24,000. He died in March 1708. He had nine daughters, viz. Ann, married to Lord Forbes; Catherine, to her cousin, Robert Dunbar of Grangehill; Elizabeth, to Cumming of Altyre; Grizel, to Dunbar of Dunphail; Emilia, to Brodie of Aslisk; Margaret, to his brother Brodie of Whitehill; Vere, to Brodie of Muirhouse; Mary, to Chivez of Muirtown; and Henrietta died unmarried. Having no son, he was succeeded by his cousin-german, George Brodie (son of Joseph Brodie of Aslisk), already mentioned, who married Emilia, fifth daughter and coheiress of his predecessor, James Brodie of Brodie. By her he had three sons and two daughters, and died in 1716. Of the daughters, Henrietta, the elder, married, in 1714, John Sinclair of Ulbster in Caithness, grandfather of the late Right Hon. Sir John Sinclair, baronet; Ann, the younger, became the wife of George Monro of Novar in Ross-shire. James Brodie of Brodie, the eldest son, died young in 1720, and was succeeded by his brother, Alexander Brodie of Brodie, born 17th August 1697, appointed lord lyon king at arms in 1727, and died in 1754. By his wife, Mary Sleigh, daughter of Major Sleigh, celebrated as well as himself in various sonnets of Allan Ramsay, he had an only son, Alexander, and a daughter, Emilia, married to John Macleod, younger of Macleod.

      Alexander Brodie of Brodie, son of the foregoing, dying unmarried in 1759, was succeeded by his second cousin, James Brodie of Brodie, son of James Brodie of Spynie above mentioned. He married Lady Margaret Duff, youngest daughter of William, first earl of Fife, by whom he had two sons and three daughters. His wife was unfortunately burnt to death at Brodie house, 24th April 1786, and he himself died 17th January 1824. He was a man of considerable talent and scientific acquirements. He especially distinguished himself as a botanist, and added a number of plants to the British Flora. His elder son, James, was in the civil service of the East India Company at Madras, and by the upsetting of his boat in the surge along the shore, was drowned in his father’s lifetime, leaving, by Ann, his wife, daughter of Colonel Story (who married, secondly, Lieut.-General Sir Thomas Bowser, K.C.B.), two sons and five daughters. William Brodie of Brodie, the eldest, succeeded his grandfather, and became the representative of one of the most ancient families in Europe. George, the second, in the Madras cavalry, died in 1826. Four of the daughters married gentlemen of rank in the East India Company’s service during the lifetime of their father, and the eldest died in that country, unmarried, in the same year with himself.

      The celebrated surgeon, Sir Benjamin Collins Brodie, serjeant [sic] surgeon to the queen, is descended from a younger branch of this ancient family, which settled in England about the beginning of the last century.

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