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The Scottish Nation

FORBES, the surname of a clan, though not a Celtic one, having its possessions principally in Aberdeenshire, and the chief of which is Lord Forbes; its badge being the common broom, and the gathering shout or slogan, Loanach, the name of a hill in the district of Strathdon.

      The traditions regarding the origin of the surname of Forbes are various; and some of them very fanciful. The principal of these, which seems to have been accepted by the family, as it is referred to by Sir Samuel Forbes in his ‘View of the Diocese of Aberdeen,’ (MS. quoted by the Statistical Account of Scotland, art. Tullynessle and Forbes,) states that this name was first assumed by one Ochonchar, from Ireland, who having slain a ferocious bear in that district, took the name of Forbear, now spelled and pronounced Forbes, in two syllables; although the English, in pronunciation make it only one. In consequence of this feat the Forbeses carry in their arms three bears’ heads. A variation of this story says that the actor in this daring exploit was desirous of exhibiting his courage to the young and beautiful heiress of the adjacent castle, whose name being Bess, he, on receiving her hand as his reward, assumed it to commemorate his having killed the bear “for Bess.” Another tradition states that the name of the founder of the family was originally Bois, a follower of one of our early Scots kings, and that on granting him certain lands for some extraordinary service, his majesty observed that they were ‘for Boice.” The surname, however, is territorial, and said to be Celtic, from the Gaelic word Ferbash or Ferbasach, a bold man. It seems more likely to have been originally Forbois, of a Latin-French derivation, signifying a wild wood country, where bears abounded. According to Skene, in his Treatise de verborum significatione, Duncan Forbois got from King Alexander (but which of the three kings of that name is not mentioned) a charter of the lands and heritage of Forbois in Aberdeenshire, whence the surname. In the reign of King William the Lion, John de Forbes possessed the lands of that name. His son, Fergus de Forbes, had a charter of the same from Alexander earl of Buchan, about 1236. The next we meet with of the name is Alexander de Forbes, probably his son, governor of the castle of Urquhart in Moray, which he bravely defended for along time, in 1304, against Edward the First of England, but on its surrender all within the castle were put to the sword, except the wife of the governor, who escaped to Ireland, and was there delivered of a posthumous son. This son, Alexander de Forbes, the only one of his family remaining, came to Scotland in the reign of Robert the Bruce, and his patrimonial inheritance of Forbes having been bestowed upon others, he obtained a grant of other lands instead. He was killed at the battle of Duplin in 1332, fighting valiantly on the side of King David the son of Bruce. From this Alexander de Forbes, all the numerous families in Scotland who bear the name and their offshoots, trace their descent.

      His son, Alexander de Forbes, also a posthumous child, acquired from Thomas, earl of Mar, several lands in Aberdeenshire, the grant of which King Robert the Second ratified by his charter, in the third year of his reign. By King Robert the Third he was appointed justiciary of Aberdeen, and coroner of that county. He is witness to a charter of Isobel, countess of Mar, of the lands of Bonjedworth to Thomas Douglas, her nephew, of date the 10th of November 1404. He died the following year. By his wife, a daughter of Kennedy of Dunure, he had four sons, namely, Sir Alexander, his successor, the first Lord Forbes; Sir William, ancestor of the Lords Pitsligo (see PITSLIGO, lord); Sir John, who obtained the thanedom of Formartine (which now gives the title of viscount to the earl of Aberdeen) and the lands of Tolquhoun, by his marriage with Marjory, daughter and heiress of Sir Henry Preston of Formartine, knight, (of the Dingwall family,) and was ancestor of the Forbeses of Tolquhoun, Foveran, Watertoun, Culloden, and others of the name; and Alexander, founder of the family of Brux, and others.

      Alexander, the eldest son, and first Lord Forbes, was among the Scottish forces sent to the assistance of Charles, dauphin of France, afterwards King Charles the Seventh, and had a share in the victory obtained over the English at Beaugé, in Anjou, 22d March 1421; but soon after, at the desire of King James the First, then a prisoner in England, he quitted the French service, with several others of the Scots auxiliaries, and subsequently obtained three safe-conducts at different times to visit England, with a hundred persons in his retinue each time, to wait upon his sovereign James the First. He was created a peer of parliament sometime after 1436. The precise date of creation is not known, but in a precept, directed by James the Second to the lords of the exchequer, dated 12th July 1442, he is styled Lord Forbes. He died in 1448. By his wife, Lady Elizabeth (sometimes called Lady Mary ) Douglas, only daughter of George earl of Angus, and grand-daughter of King Robert the Second, he had two sons and three daughters.

      James, the elder son, second Lord Forbes, was knighted by King James the Third. This nobleman built the strong castle of Druminner, in the parish of Forbes (now united to that of Tullynessle), the ancient seat of the Lords Forbes. The license to build it, obtained from James the Second, is dated 14th May 1456. He died soon after 1460. By his wife, Lady Egidia Keith, second daughter of the first earl Marischal, he had three sons and a daughter; namely, William, third Lord Forbes; Duncan, of Corsindae, ancestor (by his second son) of the Forbeses of Monymusk; and Patrick, the first of the family of Corse, progenitor of the Forbeses, baronets, of Craigievar, and of the Irish earls of Granard. The daughter, Egidia, became the wife of Malcolm Forbes of Tolquhoun.

      William, third Lord Forbes, married Lady Christian Gordon, third daughter of Alexander, first earl of Huntly, and had, with a daughter, three sons, Alexander, fourth lord; Arthur, fifth lord; and John, sixth lord.

      Alexander, fourth lord, attached himself to the party of King James the Third, and after that unfortunate monarch’s assassination, on his flight from the field of Sauchieburn in June 1488, with a rent and blood-stained shirt, suspended from the end of spear, as that of their murdered sovereign, he rode through Aberdeen and other places in the north of Scotland, and endeavoured, Mark Antony-like with the mantle of “dead Caesar,” to rouse the people to arms to avenge his death. A formidable insurrection was on the point of breaking out, when it was suddenly extinguished by the defeat of the earl of Lennox at Tillymoss near Stirling. Lord Forbes soon after submitted to the young king, James the Fourth, who gave to him in marriage his eldest cousin, Lady Grizel Boyd, only daughter of Thomas, earl of Arran, grand-daughter of King James the Second. She had no issue to him, and he died, while yet young, before 16th May 1491.

      Arthur, fifth Lord Forbes, succeeded his brother, and being under age at the time, he was placed, as one of the king’s wards, under the guardianship of John Lord Glammis, whose daughter he had married, but he died soon after his accession to the title, without children.

      His next brother, John, became sixth Lord Forbes, before 30th October 1496, at which date he is witness to a charter. On July 29th, 1533, he and his two sons, John, master of Forbes, and William his brother, with William Forbes of Corsindae, and another, found security to appear at the next court of justiciary at Aberdeen, to take their trial for having treasonably set fire, under cloud of night, to certain sheep-pens, built of wood, belonging to the earl of Huntly, the Gordons and the Forbeses being at deadly feud, and on May 10th, 1536, the same parties found similar caution. In the latter year, however, Lord Forbes was committed to Edinburgh castle, on the far more serious accusation of treason against the king, but after a tedious confinement, he was exculpated from every charge, and restored to liberty. His son, the master of Forbes, was not so fortunate, having been convicted and executed. The sixth lord died in 1547. He was thrice married: first, to Lady Catherine Stewart, second daughter of John, earl of Athol, uterine brother of King James the Second, and by her he had a son, John, who died young, and a daughter, Elizabeth, married to John Grant of Grant; secondly, to Christian, daughter of Sir John Lundin of that ilk, and by her he had two sons and four daughters; and, thirdly, to Elizabeth Barlow, or Barclay, relict of the first Lord Elphinstone, killed at Flodden in 1513, and by her had a son, Arthur Forbes of Putachie, and a daughter, Janet, who was also thrice married.

      The elder son of the second marriage, John, the master of Forbes above mentioned, is stated to have been a young man of great courage and good education, but of a bold and turbulent spirit. On October 10, 1530, with two others, he was indicted at the justiciary court at Dundee for the slaughter of Alexander Seton of Meldrum, but the same date he obtained a remission for the crime, under the great seal. His father, Lord Forbes, appears to have been inculpated in the same charge, as on 27th August 1530, no less than seventeen landed gentlemen were fined for not appearing to enter on his assize. On 26th April 1536, he and four others became cautioners to satisfy the parties for assythment of the slaughter. On the 12th June 1536, the master was accused by the earl of Huntly, before the king and privy council, of treasonable conspiracy against his majesty’s life, and plotting the destruction of the king’s army at Jedburgh. Protesting his innocence, he offered to maintain it against his accuser by single combat, an ordeal often allowed under the feudal system. The council, on this occasion, did not authorise the resort to judicial combat, as it was styled; but Huntly was required to give a bond, under the penalty of thirty thousand marks, to make good his accusation, while the master was ordered to enter himself prisoner in the castle of Edinburgh, or to find security in twenty thousand marks to stand his trial. On the 8th of December, in consequence of a warrant from the king, the council ordered lord Forbes, as well as his son, to find security that they should remain in Edinburgh castle till they each found bail to the extent of ten thousand marks to answer to the charge when called upon. The former, as already stated, was freed from the accusation, but the master was brought to trial before the high court of justiciary, 14th July 1537, and being found guilty, was condemned to be drawn on a hurdle through the causeway or High street of Edinburgh, and hanged on a gallows, and his body quartered as a traitor, his lands and goods being forfeited. To spare his relations the more ignominious part of the sentence, he was beheaded instead of being hanged, on the 17th of the same month. On the scaffold he declared his innocence of the crime of treason of which he had been convicted, but acknowledged that he deserved death for the murder of the laird of Meldrum. The principal evidence against him was an unprincipled follower named John Strachan, who, on being refused a gift which he had asked of the master, went to the earl of Huntly, the enemy of the Forbeses, and accused him of having for a long time designed the death of the king, that the Douglases might be restored. It is also stated that to procure the conviction of the unfortunate master, Huntly, the main accuser, did not scruple to bribe his judges. Strachan, for being a participator in, and treasonably concealing the alleged conspiracy, was ordered by the king’s letter to be banished beyond the water of Dee.

      After the execution of the master, the king (James the Fifth) seems to have been anxious to compensate the family for his severity towards them, by admitting his next brother, William, into his favour. He restored to him his brother’s honours and estates, and in 1539, appointed him one of the gentlemen of his bedchamber. This William succeeded his father in 1547, as seventh Lord Forbes, and died in 1593. He had married Elizabeth Keith, daughter and coheiress, with her sister, Margaret, Countess Marischal, of Sir William Keith of Inverugie, and had by her six sons and eight daughters. The sons were, John, eighth Lord Forbes; William of Foderhouse; James, of Lethendy; Robert, prior of Monymusk; Arthur, of Logie, called from his complexion, “Black Arthur,” after mentioned; and Abraham, of Blacktoun. The third daughter, Christian, married George Johnston of Caskieben, and was mother of the celebrated Dr. Arthur Johnston, physician in ordinary to Charles the First.

      John, eighth Lord Forges, was one of the five noblemen appointed by commission from the king, dated 25th July 1594, lieutenants of the northern counties, for the suppression of the rebellion of the popish earls of Huntly and Errol, and at the battle of Glenlivet, 3d October of that year, he was second in command of the king’s forces, under the earl of Argyle, against these two rebellious noblemen. The following year he again joined the king against them. We learn from the Burgh Records of Aberdeen that on 16th July 1595, the dean of guild of that city was ordered by the town council to expend the sum of one hundred merks on deals and other materials for a house which Lord Forbes was then building, as a remembrance for his lordship’s keeping of the waters of Dee and Don “fra slayeris of blak fische in forbidden tyme, as the said lordis predicessoris did obefoir to this burgh.” It would appear from these Records that the town of Aberdeen furnished yearly a ton of wine to the Lords Forbes for preserving the salmon fish of the two rivers Dee and Don, within their bounds. Under date 6th September 1530, there is an entry that having discovered that those who should be keepers of their waters were themselves the principal destroyers of the fish in undue time, the council, with one voice ordained that no pension should be given to Lord Forbes, or any other person, for the future, for keeping the waters, protesting that if any such pension be given in time coming, it should be held as “black mail.” The above gift to the eighth Lord Forbes seems to have been a renewal of the practice. His lordship was served heir to his mother 13th November 1604, and died soon afterwards. He had married, while still master of Forbes, Lady Margaret Gordon, eldest daughter of George, fourth earl of Huntly, and had, with a daughter names Jean, a son, John, who, being educated in the faith of his mother, entered a religious order on the continent, and died without succession. This lady he repudiated, and in consequence a sanguinary rencontre took place in 1572, in the parish of Clatt, Aberdeenshire, between the two rival clans of Forbes and Gordon. The latter, under the command of two of the earl’s brothers, attacked the Forbeses, within a rude intrenchment which they had formed on the while hill of Tillyangus, in the south-western extremity of the parish, and after a severe contest the Gordons prevailed, having carried the intrenchment, and slain the master’s brother, ‘black Arthur.’ The pursuit of the Forbeses was continued to the very gates of Druminner, the seat of their chief. A number of cairns are still pointed out where those slain on this occasion were buried. Douglas, in his peerage, seems to be in error when he states that Black Arthur Forbes was killed at Paris in 1574. In the parliament of 1581, a commission was granted for settling all debateable matters betwixt the Gordons and the Forbeses. The eighth Lord Forbes took for his second wife, Janet, daughter of James Seton of touch, and had, besides Arthur, ninth lord, another son, and a daughter.

      Arthur, ninth lord, married on 1st February 1600, Jean, second daughter of Alexander, fourth Lord Elphinstone, and had Alexander, tenth Lord Forbes; the Hon. Colonel John, who was particularly recommended by letter from King Charles the First to the Shah of Persia, 2d December 1635, as having had much experience in the wars of Europe, and being desirous of visiting more remote countries, he requested a military command for him in the Persian service; three other sons, two of whom, Arthur and James, were killed in the German wars, and three daughters.

      Alexander, tenth Lord Forbes, fought against the imperialists under the banner of the lion of the north, the renowned Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, in whose service he attained the rank of lieutenant-general, and won for himself a high military reputation. On his return home, he had a considerable command in the army sent from Scotland to suppress the Irish rebellion in 1643. He afterwards retired to Germany, where he spent the remainder of his days. He was twice married: first, to Anne, eldest daughter of Sir John Forbes of Pitsligo, by whom he had, besides several children, who died young, a son, William, eleventh Lord Forbes; and, secondly, to Elizabeth, daughter of Robert Forbes of Rires, in Fife, and by her had a large family.

      William, eleventh Lord Forbes, in the Scots parliament, 10th September 1641, was named one of the commissioners appointed to consider the grievances of the north country ministers. In June 1644 he presented to the estates a petition praying for payment of three thousand merks, the fine imposed on two of the rebels whom he had taken, which the house granted, ordaining him at the same time to deliver the two prisoners to the baillies of Aberdeen, and they to the sheriff of Kincardineshire, and so from sheriff to sheriff, till they reached Edinburgh. [Balfour’s Annals, vol. iii. p. 191.] In 1648 he was nominated one of the colonels of foot in the forces raised to attempt the rescue of King Charles the First, and the following year one of the commissioners for putting the kingdom in a state of defence, and colonel of horse. He died in 1691. He was thrice married, but had issue only by his first wife, Jean, a daughter of Sir John Campbell of Calder.

      His eldest son, William, twelfth Lord Forbes, was a zealous supporter of the revolution. In 1689 he was sworn a privy councillor to King William, and on 27th May 1702 he was appointed colonel of the 2d troop of horse-grenadier guards. He was also a member of Queen Anne’s privy council. He supported the treaty of union, and on the breaking out of the rebellion of 1715, he was nominated lord-lieutenant of the counties of Aberdeen and Kincardine, 19th August of that year. He died in July 1716. By his wife, Anne, daughter of James Brodie of Brodie, he had three sons and one daughter.

      William, the eldest son, thirteenth Lord Forbes, married, in September 1720, Dorothy, daughter of William Dale, Esq. of Covent Garden, Westminster. This lady had a fortune of twenty thousand pounds, which was lost by the South Sea scheme, and other bubble speculations of that unfortunate year. He died at Edinburgh 26th June 1730. He had a son, Francis, fourteenth lord, who died in August 1734, in the thirteenth year of his age, and four daughters, one of whom, Jean, was married to James Dundas of Dundas, and another, the youngest, Elizabeth, married John Gregory, M.D., professor of the practice of medicine in the university of Edinburgh, and was the mother of the celebrated Dr. James Gregory.

      James, second son of the twelfth lord, succeeded his nephew, as fifteenth Lord Forbes, and died at Putachie, 20th February 1761, in the 73d year of his age. Hi married, first, Mary, daughter of the third Lord Pitsligo, widow of John Forbes of Monymusk, and grandmother of the celebrated Sir William Forbes of Pitsligo, baronet, (see afterwards,) and had a son, James sixteenth Lord Forbes, and three daughters; secondly, in July 1741, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir James Gordon of Park, baronet. Of this lady, who died without issue at Aberdeen, 12th June 1792, in her 72d year, a high eulogium is recorded in the Gentleman’s Magazine for the same year.

      James, sixteenth lord, was an officer in the army, and in May 1764 was appointed deputy governor of Fort William, Inverness-shire. He died at Edinburgh 29th July 1804, in the 80th year of his age. By his wife, Catherine, only daughter of Sir Robert Innes, baronet, of Orton and Balvenie, he had four sons and two daughters.

      James Ochoncar Forbes, seventeenth lord, the eldest son, born 7th March 1765, entered the army in 1781, as ensign in the Coldstream regiment of foot guards, in which he was an officer for twenty-six years. In April 1793, when senior lieutenant, he joined the first battalion of the regiment then serving under the duke of York in Flanders, and was engaged in the battle of Famars, the storming of Valenciennes, and every other engagement of importance. After the action of Lincelles, in August of that year, he succeeded to the captain-lieutenancy, with the rank of lieutenant-colonel, vacant by the fall of Lieutenant-colonel Bosville, and in the following October he succeeded to a company, by the death of Lieutenant-colonel Eld, who was killed at Dunkirk. He obtained the brevet rank of colonel, 3d May 1796. In 1799 he accompanied the force under Sir Ralph Abercromby, destined to attack the Helder. He at that time commanded the grenadier company of the Coldstream guards, and was present in every action but one which took place in that country during that short but active campaign. He received the rank of major-general 29th April 1802, and the same year he was placed on the staff in command of the troops stationed at Ashford in Kent, where he remained two years, and was then removed to the more important charge of the garrison at Dover. In March 1808 he was appointed second in command, under Sir Charles Stuart, of the troops in the Mediterranean. The same year he sailed for Sicily, and soon after his arrival he attained the rank of lieutenant-general, and by the king of Naples he was created a knight of the royal Sicilian order of St. Januarius. At the general election of 1806 he had been elected a representative peer of Scotland, and in 1807 he was rechosen. On his return to England in 1812, his lordship was placed on the staff in Ireland in command of the Cork district, in which he remained four years. He was then appointed to Dublin in command of the eastern district, where he remained three years, and on his promotion to the rank of general, 12th August 1819, he was removed from the staff of Ireland. He was appointed colonel of the 3d garrison battalion in 1806. In 1808 he was removed to the colonelcy of the 94th foot; to that of the 54th regiment in September 1809, and to that of the 21st or Royal Scots Fusileers in June 1816. In 1826 he was appointed lord high commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, an appointment which was renewed for several years. He died 4th May 1843. He was a man of a noble presence, tall, and finely formed, and his appearance became his station well. By his wife, Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Walter Hunter of Polmood, Peebles-shire, and Crailing, Roxburghshire, he had six sons and four daughters. The estate of Polmood had been the subject of litigation for nearly fifty years in the court of session and House of Lords, but it was ultimately decided that an old man named Adam Hunter, who laid claim to it, had not established his pedigree (see HUNTER, surname of). It consequently came into the possession of Lady Forbes. His lordship’s eldest son, James, a lieutenant-colonel in t he Coldstream guards, predeceased his father in 1835.

      Walter, the second son, born 29th May 1798, became eighteenth Lord Forbes, on his father’s death in 1843. He married on 31st January 1825, Horatia, seventh daughter of Sir John Gregory Shaw, baronet, county of Kent; issue, five sons and one daughter. Heir presumptive, his eldest son, Horace Courtenay, master of Forbes, born at Aberdeen, in 1829, educated at Oriel college, Oxford.

      Lord Forbes is the premier baron of Scotland, being the first on the union roll. He is also a baronet of Nova Scotia, date of creation 1628.


      The Forbeses of Tolquhoun, an ancient cadet of this family, one of whom fell at the battle of Pinkie, 10th September 1547, descended from Sir John Forbes, third son of Sir John Forbes, justiciary of Aberdeen in the reign of Robert the Third, are now represented by James Forbes Leith, Esq. of Whitehaugh, in the same county. Sir Alexander Forbes of Tolquhoun, the tenth laird of the name of Forbes, was one of the three colonels for Aberdeenshire in the Scots army of Charles the Second, and is said to have rendered signal service to that monarch at the battle of Worcester in 1651. He is also stated to have assisted in a particular manner in the king’s subsequent escape from England. For these services he was knighted in 1654. In 1685 he was made a burgess of Glasgow, and also the same year, of St. Andrews. Dying without issue, his estate devolved on his nephew, William Forbes, the son of his next brother, Thomas. This William Forbes was served heir to his father and his uncle in 1704. He married two years afterwards, Anne, daughter and heiress of John Leith of Whitehaugh, by his wife, Elizabeth, daughter of William, eleventh Lord Forbes, and with a daughter he had two sons. The elder, the Rev. William Forbes, vicar of Thornbury, Gloucestershire, died in September 1761, without issue, when the younger son, John, succeeded, and, as heir of his mother, he assumed the additional surname of Leith. His great-grandson, James John Forbes Leith, a lieutenant-colonel in the service of the Hon. East India Company, was succeeded at his death by his eldest son, James Forbes Leith of Whitehaugh, present representative of the house of Tolquhoun.


      The Forbeses of Craigievar (also in Aberdeenshire), who possess a baronetcy, descend from the Hon. Patrick Forbes of Corse, armour-bearer to King James the Third, and third son, as already stated, of James, second Lord Forbes. The lands of Corse, which formed part of the barony of Coul and O’Nele, were in 1476 bestowed on this Patrick, for his services, by that monarch, and on 10th October 1482 he had a charter of confirmation under the great seal, of the barony of O’Neil, namely, the lands of Coule, Kincraigy, and le Corss. In 1510 his son and successor, David, called “Trail the Axe,” had a charter of the lands of O’Nele, Cors, Kincraigy, le Mureton, with the mill and alehouse thereof, (the lands of Coul being now disjoined therefrom,) and uniting and incorporating them into a haill and free barony, “cum furca, fossa, pitt et gallous,” &c., to be called the barony of O’Nele in all time coming. He married Elizabeth, sister of Panter of Newmanswells near Montrose, secretary of state to James the Fourth, and had a son, Patrick of O’Neil Corse, infeft in 1554. Patrick’s eldest son, William, infeft in January 1567, by his wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Alexander Strachan of Thornton, had six sons and five daughters.

      His eldest son, Patrick Forbes of Corse and O’Neil, was bishop of Aberdeen for seventeen years, and died in 1635. Of this eminent prelate, and of his second son, the learned Dr. John Forbes of Corse, professor of divinity in King’s college, Aberdeen, memoirs to be found below. The bishop’s male line failing with his grand-children, the family estates devolved on the descendants of his next brother, William Forbes of Craigievar, the first of that branch, of whom next paragraph. John, the third son of the fourth baron of O’Neil and laird of Corse, was presbyterian minister of Alford, and a man of great piety and learning, and of considerable eminence in the church. He was moderator of the General Assembly which met at Aberdeen on 2d July 1605, and which immediately on its meeting was, by a messenger at arms, charged in the king’s name to dismiss on the pain of rebellion. The Assembly declared their readiness to comply with this order, and requested the commissioner, Straiton of Lawriston, to name a day and place for their next meeting. Upon his refusal, the moderator appointed the Assembly to meet again in the same place on the last Tuesday of September ensuing, and then dissolved the meeting with prayer. The king, having sent orders from London to proceed with the utmost rigour against those ministers who had composed this Assembly, fourteen of them were sent to prison to await their trial, among whom were Mr. Forbes and Mr. John Welch, son-in-law of Knox, who were apprehended in Edinburgh, and after being a night in the castle, were sent to Blackness and confined in separate dungeons. As they declined the jurisdiction of the privy council, they were indicted to stand trial for high treason before the high court of justiciary at Linlithgow. Mr. Forbes’ speech on the occasion is recorded in Calderwood’s History of the Church of Scotland, vol. vi. pp. 382-385. He and five other ministers convicted with him, after having been imprisoned fourteen months in the castle of blackness, were banished to France. A long letter from Mr. Forbes to his celebrated brother in the ministry, Mr. Robert Bruce, dated Edinburgh castle, 16th July 1606, after his condemnation, relative to the chancellor having counselled the holding of the Aberdeen Assembly, which had given so much offence to the king, will be found in the same volume (pp. 551-556). He became afterwards minister of Delft in Holland, and died about 1638. He was the author of several tracts on religious subjects. He married a daughter of Barclay of Mathers, and had two sons, Colonel Arthur Forbes, and Patrick, who was appointed bishop of Caithness, 19th March 1662, and remained in that see till his death in 1680. Arthur, the fourth son, settled in Ireland in 1620, and was created a baronet of Nova Scotia in 1628. He was a lieutenant-colonel in the army, and fell in a duel at Hamburg in 1632. His son, Sir Arthur Forbes, was the first earl of Granard in the peerage of Ireland.

      William Forbes, the second son above mentioned, the founder of the house of Craigievar, was first styled of Menie. He was educated at Edinburgh, and became an eminent merchant at Dantzic, where he made a large fortune, and purchased estates in various parts of Scotland. He had charters of the lands of Menie in Aberdeenshire in 1607; of Craigievar in the same county, in 1610; of the barony of Auchtertool in Fifeshire, in 1617; of the barony of Finhaven and Carriston in Forfarshire, in 1619, and of the lands of Fintry in Aberdeenshire the same year. On becoming proprietor of Craigievar, which he purchased from a family of the name of Mortimer, he found the castle but half built, as they were unable, from adverse circumstances, to finish it. He straightway set about completing it, which he did in 1626, in the most approved style of the period, with projecting turrets, and took his designation therefrom. It is now surrounded by extensive and thriving plantations. The name of Craigievar, in Gaelic, Creg a Mhar, means the rock of Mar. In the vicinity are several Druidical temples, and on the top of Corsehill, near it, are vestiges of an encampment. He was commemorated by Arthur Johnstone in one of his epitaphs. [Poemata, p. 380.]

      His eldest son, William, was created a baronet of Nova Scotia, 20th April 1630, with a grant of sixteen thousand acres in New Brunswick, erected into a free barony and regality, to be called New Craigievar. On the rash and ill-advised attempt of Charles the First to introduce episcopacy into Scotland, Sir William embraced the cause of the Covenanters, and took an active part in the troubles which followed. He commanded a troop of horse, and is frequently mentioned in Spalding’s History of the Troubles in Scotland from 1624 to 1645, printed for the Spalding Club in 2 vols. 4to, 1850. In 1641 he was appointed by parliament one of the commissioners for planting kirks and valuation of teinds; in 1643, one of the committee for loan monies and taxations of the county of Aberdeen; in 1644, one of the commissioners for conserving the Ripon treaty, and ordered to secure deserters in Aberdeenshire, &c.; in 1645, one of the committee of estates; in 1646, one of the commissioners for selling the estates of the malignants, and in 1647 sheriff of Aberdeen. At the battle of Aberdeen in 1644, charging too impetuously at the head of his troop, Sir William was taken prisoner with Forbes of Boyndlie. In the account of that battle contained in Patrick Gordon of Ruthven’s ‘Britane’s Distemper,’ printed for the Spalding Club in one volume 4to in 1844, it is stated that he had been “bred up in the field of Mars while he was abroad” (page 83). Being allowed to be at large on his parole, “he conveyed himself away,” says the same writer, “to the no small prejudice of his reputation” (p. 93). In 1646 he joined the garrison at Aberdeen with several other gentlemen, to oppose an anticipated attack from the marquis of Huntly, who, with a force of fifteen hundred Highland foot and six hundred horse, stormed that city in three different places, and compelled the army of the Covenanters to surrender at discretion. Among the prisoners taken on this occasion were Sir William Forbes, and other country gentlemen of the name of Forbes, but they were all released the next day on their parole of honour not to serve against the king in future.

      According to Spalding (Hist. of Troubles in Scotland, vol. i. p. 69), Sir William was mainly the cause of breaking up the band of the famous freebooter Gilderoy, or Gilroy, the hero of the old ballad, said to have been originally composed by his mistress. One of the proscribed clan Gregor, he was as notorious in his day as Rob Roy himself, for his cattle-lifting and other lawless exploits. A portion of his followers having “harried” and oppressed the lands of the Forbeses, particularly corse and Craigievar, Sir William sent information of the same to the Stewarts of Athole, who, on the return of Gilderoy’s followers to their haunts in the Highlands of Perthshire, succeeded in apprehending eight of them. Seven of these were hanged at Edinburgh early in 1636, and the eighth only escaped by showing that he had been forced into the service against his will. In revenge Gilderoy set fire to several houses belonging to the Stewarts, and a reward of a thousand pounds being offered for his apprehension, he was ultimately taken, with five of his accomplices, all of whom were hanged at the Gallowlee, between Leith and Edinburgh, in the month of July following, Gilderoy as a mark of distinction being hanged on a gallows higher than the rest.

      Sir William’s Son, Sir John, second baronet, married Margaret, a daughter of Young of Auldbar, and had six sons and three daughters. This lady mortified (bequeathed) for the use of the poor of the parish of Leochel-Cushnie, in which Craigievar is situated, one thousand merks Scots, which, according to her will, must remain in the hands of the family on condition of their paying the interest regularly to the kirk session in meal, to be divided among the poor of Craigievar and Corse.

      His grandson, Sir Arthur, fourth baronet, represented the county of Aberdeen in parliament from 1727 to 1747. In one of Lord Lovat’s letters dated from Edinburgh, 11th September 1740, during the time of an election, he mentions that the duke of Argyle, who had then the chief management of Scots affairs, had a particular regard for Sir Arthur Forbes, and was anxious for his return to parliament. Sir Arthur was the bosom friend of Sir Andrew Mitchell, British ambassador to Frederick the Great of Prussia, who left to Sir Arthur the bulk of his property, including his valuable library, and his estate of Thainston.

      His son, Sir William, fifth baronet, born in 1753, by his wife, the Hon. Sarah Sempill, daughter of the twelfth Lord Sempill, had four sons and seven daughters. Margaret, the second daughter, became the wife of Robert Wallace, Esq. of Kelly, at one period M.P. for Greenock. Sir William died in 1816.

      His son, Sir Arthur, sixth baronet, was for some time an officer in the 7th hussars. He died unmarried in 1823, and was succeeded by his brother, Sir John, seventh baronet, born in 1785. He was a judge in the Hon.  East India Company’s service, and married in September 1825, the Hon. Charlotte Elizabeth, daughter of 17th Lord Forbes, and had two sons and six daughters. He died 16th Feb. 1846.

      The elder son, Sir William, born May 20, 1836, succeeded as eighth baronet, and was educated at Eton. In 1855 he entered the army as ensign and lieutenant in the Coldstream guards, and retired in 1857. In 1858 he married the only daughter of Sir Charles Forbes, Bart., of Newe and Edinglassie. In 1859 he was appointed captain 9th Aberdeenshire rifle volunteers. His brother, James Ochoncar Forbes, of Corse, was born in 1837.


      The family of Forbes of Pitsligo and Fettercairn, which possesses a baronetcy, are descended from Hon. Duncan Forbes of Corsindae, 2d son of the 2d Lord Forbes. This gentleman’s grandson, Duncan Forbes of Monymusk, died in 1587. His grandson, William Forbes, was created a baronet of Nova Scotia, by patent, dated 2d April 1626, to himself and his heirs male. His eldest son, Sir William, 2d baronet, had, with one daughter, an only son, Sir William, 3d baronet, who was twice married, and had, by his first wife, Margaret, daughter of the 1st Viscount Arbuthnott, two sons and a daughter; and by his second wife, Barbara, daughter of Dalmahoy of Dalmahoy, two sons and three daughters.

      His eldest son, Sir William, fourth baronet, married Lady Jane Keith, daughter of John, earl of Kintore, and had two sons and four daughters. John, the elder son, married the Hon. Mary Forbes of Pitsligo, daughter of Alexander third Lord Forbes of Pitsligo, and on the death of John, master of Pitsligo, in 1781, her descendants became nearest heirs and representatives of that noble family. He died before his father, but left two sons, the elder of whom, Sir William, fifth baronet, succeeded his grandfather. This Sir William, an advocate in Edinburgh, married Christian, daughter of John Forbes, Esq., and died in 1729. He had two sons.

      The elder son, Sir William, sixth baronet, was the celebrated bander of Edinburgh, of whom a memoir is given below. As soon as he had an opportunity he purchased seventy acres of the upper barony of Pitsligo, including the old mansion-house, at that time roofless and deserted, and by the death of Mr. Forbes in 1781, he succeeded as heir to the lower barony also. The extensive improvements which he introduced on every portion of his property greatly enhanced its value, and exhibited in a high degree his genuine patriotism and public spirit. He married the eldest daughter of Sir James Hay of Hayston, baronet, and died in 1806. His second son, John Hay Forbes, was a lord of session, under the judicial title of Lord Medwyn. He was born at Edinburgh in 1776 , passed advocate in 1799; appointed sheriff-depute of Perthshire in 1807, and raised to the bench in January 1825; appointed a lord of justiciary in December 1830; resigned that office in May 1847; retired from the bench in October 1852, and died in 1854. It was chiefly through his exertions, and to the efforts of the episcopal congregation worshiping in the Cowgate chapel, that the handsome structure called St. Paul’s chapel, York Place, Edinburgh, was erected in 1818. His eldest brother, Sir William Forbes, also greatly assisted in the building of St. John’s episcopal chapel, at the west end of Princes Street of the same city. His lordship married, in 1802, a daughter of Sir Alexander Penrose Cuming Gordon, baronet, of Altyre and Gordonstown. His eldest son, William, became an advocate. His second son, the Right Rev. Alexander Penrose Forbes, D.C.L., was consecrated bishop of Brechin in 1847, on the death of Dr. Moir. Born in Edinburgh in 1817, he was educated in Brasenose College, Oxford, where he was Boden Sanscrit scholar in 1841, and received the honorary degree of doctor of civil laws. George, the youngest son of Sir William, in 1815, was admitted a partner in the bank, and on its junction with the Glasgow Union bank he became a director of the Union bank, the new name of the firm.

      The eldest son, Sir William, seventh baronet, married 19th June 1797, Williamina, sole child and heiress of Sir John Stuart Forbes of Fettercairn, baronet, whose name and arms have been assumed by the family. He had four sons and two daughters; the eldest son, William, a captain in the army, died unmarried, before his father, in 1826; the second son, Sir John, succeeded him; the third, Charles, became a partner in the banking firm of Sir William Forbes and Co., afterwards the Union bank; and the fourth, James David Forbes, D.C.L., was elected professor of natural philosophy in the university of Edinburgh in 1833.

      Sir John Stuart Forbes, the second son, became eighth baronet, on his father’s death, 24th October 1828. He was born 25th September 1804, and married 14th June 1834, Lady Harriet Louisa Anne Ker, third daughter of the sixth marquis of Lothian, and has a daughter, Harriet Williamina. Heir presumptive (1860), his brother Charles Hay Forbes, of Blackford House, near Edinburgh, married in 1833, the third daughter of Alexander Macdonnell of Glengarry.


      The family of Forbes of Newe and Edinglassie, which also possess a baronetcy, are descended from William Forbes of Dauch and Newe, younger son of Sir John Forbes, knight, who obtained a charter of the barony of Pitsligo and Kinnaldie, 10th October 1476, and whose elder son, Sir John Forbes, was the progenitor of Alexander Forbes, created Lord Forbes of Pitsligo, 24th June 1633, a title attainted in the person of Alexander, fourth lord, for his participation in the rebellion of 1745 (see PITSLIGO, lord). John Forbes of Bellabeg, the direct descendant of the said William of Dauch, was born at Bellabeg in September 1743. In early life he went to Bombay, and engaging in mercantile pursuits, became one of the most extensive and distinguished merchants in India. Having realized a large fortune he repurchased Newe, the estate of his ancestors, besides other lands in Strathdon, and the whole of his rental was laid out in improvements. His private beneficence both in India and at home is stated to have been almost unbounded, and amongst his munificent donations to public charities were ten thousand pounds to the Aberdeen asylum, and one thousand pounds to the infirmary of that city. [New Stat. Acc. v. xii. p. 542.] A handsome monument was erected to his memory in the town’s churchyard of Aberdeen. He died 20th June 1821, and was succeeded by his nephew, Sir Charles Forbes, eldest son of the Rev. George Forbes of Lochell, by his wife, Katharine, only daughter of Gordon Stewart of Inveraurie. Born in April 1773, he went early in life to India, and was for many years head of that eminent East India mercantile and banking establishment in Bombay, which had been founded by his uncle. He returned to England in 1812. On leaving India the natives, as a testimony of respect and affection, presented him with a service of plate of the value of fifteen hundred pounds, and in gratitude for his exertions in elevating their position in society and obtaining their admission to the offices of justices of the peace and grandjurors, the natives of Bombay subscribed for a statue of him by Sir Francis Chantrey. He was created a baronet, 4th November 1823. He sat in parliament for upwards of twenty years. In 1833 he was served nearest male heir in general to Alexander, third Lord Pitsligo, by a jury at Aberdeen, and the same year he obtained the authority of the lord lyon, to use the Pitsligo arms and supporters. He died 20th November 1849, and was succeeded by his grandson, Sir Charles, second baronet, born 15th July 1832, on whose death, unmarried, 23d May 1852, the title devolved on his uncle, Sir Charles Forbes, third baronet, born at Bombay, 21st September 1803, and educated at Harrow school. He was formerly a captain in the 17th landers. He married 21st August 1830, Caroline, 2d daughter of G. Battye, Esq. of Campden hill; issue, two sons, 1. Charles John, born at Kensington in 1843; 2. George Stewart, of Aslown, born in 1844, and a daughter, Caroline Louisa, m. in 1858 to Sir William Forbes, of Craigievar, Bart.


      The first of the Forbeses of Culloden, Inverness-shire, was Duncan Forbes, great-grandfather of the celebrated Lord President Forbes, descended from the noble family of Forbes, through that of Tolquhoun, and by the mother’s side from that of Keith earl Marischal. He was M.P. and provost of Inverness, and purchased the estate of Culloden from the laird of MacIntosh in 1626. He died in 1654, aged 82. “He enjoyed,” says Mr. Burton, in his Life of President Forbes, “the name of Grey Duncan, and his title to be so called is fully attested by his portrait, where a large grisly beard conceals the lower part of his bold, broad, honest face. Round the room, where this portrait occupies the highest station, are ranged those of his descendants, and it at once strikes the stranger that seldom, in the ancestral representations of Scottish families, does one see so fine a cluster of open, handsome, ingenuous contenances. Perhaps this may partly arise from a usual characteristic of such portraits – the sinister-looking moustache of the seventeenth century being absent from this group, in which there is no medium between the rich, full, uncultivated beard of Grey Duncan, and the clean shaven faces of the next generation.” Grey Duncan had two brothers, namely, John, whose son Malcolm became marquis of Montilly in France, and Patrick, commonly called Black Patrick, baillie of Inverury, from whom descended the family of Forbes of Foveran, on which a baronetcy of Nova Scotia was conferred in 1699, but the title is now extinct. Duncan Forbes, the first of Culloden, married Janet, eldest daughter of James Forbes of Corsindae, also descended from the noble family at the head of the clan, and had, with two daughters, three sons, namely, John, his heir, Captain James Forbes of Caithness, and Captain Duncan Forbes of Assynt.

      John Forbes of Culloden, the eldest son, was also provost of Inverness. He was the friend and supporter of the marquis of Argyle, and from his strong support of presbyterian principles, he suffered much in the persecuting times in the reign of Charles the Second and his brother James. In the introduction to the Culloden papers, it is stated that “the frowning aspect of government, by introducing the habits of economical and private living, instead of hospitality and expense into his family, must have conduced to the accumulation of his fortune; and about the year 1670, he landed estate was doubled by the purchase of the barony of Ferintosh and the estate of Bunchrew.” On being chosen member of parliament for the shire of Elgin or Inverness, he refused to take the test, when tendered to him on 10th February 1685, and could not therefore take his seat. He was an active friend and supporter of the Revolution, and his estates were in consequence ravaged by the troops of Colonel Cannan and Major-general Buchan, who had assumed the command of James’ army after the fall of Dundee. As a compensation for the loss which the family had sustained, his eldest son and successor, Duncan Forbes third of Culloden, received from the Scots parliament, the privilege of distilling into spirits the grain of the barony of Ferintosh, at a nominal composition of the duty, which remained the same, after the spirits distilled in other parts of the country were subjected to a comparatively heavy excise, (Burke’s Hist. of the Commoners, vol. iv. p. 622,) hence Ferintosh became renowned for its whisky. The privilege was taken away in 1785. This Duncan Forbes, the father of the president, sat in the Scots parliament for the county of Nairn, and died in 1704. By his wife Mary, daughter of Sir Robert Innes, of Innes, in Morayshire, baronet, he had two sons, John, and Duncan, lord president, of whom a memoir follows, and several daughters. He is described as having been “a real good man,” embued with a deep sense of religion, and successful in imparting it to his children. His next brother, David Forbes of Newhall, an eminent lawyer and man of letters, was the friend and one of the patrons of Allan Ramsay, one of whose odes, written in 1728, ‘to the memory of Mrs. Forbes of Newhall,’ commences,

                        “Ah, life! thou short uncertain blaze.
                              Scarce worthy to be wish’d or loved,
                        When by strict death so many ways,
                              So soon the sweetest are removed.”
                                                            Life and Works of Ramsay, vol. i. p. 270.

In the third volume of the same edition (Fullarton and co.’s, 1851), page 301, we find John Forbes of Newhall and Duncan his kinsman mentioned as being members of the ‘Worthy Club,’ which was in existence long before 1714, and which frequently met at Newhall House. On the ceiling of one of its parlours, which bore the name of the Club Room, is a painting of Ramsay reciting, long before it was printed, the embryo passages of the Gentle Shepherd.

      John, the fourth laird of Culloden, took an active part on the side of government on the breaking out of the rebellion of 1715, and, with the afterwards celebrated Lord Lovat, narrowly escaped being apprehended at Aberdeen by Lord Saltoun in command of the Jacobite forces there. Both he and his brother Duncan were engaged in putting down the insurrection in Inverness-shire. In those convivial times he so much excelled most of his friends in the quantity of claret that he could drink, that he was distinguished by the name of bumper John. Dying without issue in 1734, he was succeeded by his only brother, Duncan, whose only child, John Forbes, the sixth of Culloden, showed when young, says Mr. Burton, “the convivial spirit of his race, without their energy and perseverance.” He was the companion and friend of Thomson, Armstrong, and other eminent literary men of their time, and is referred to in two of the stanzas of Thomson’s ‘Castle of Indolence.’ He entered the army, and served with distinction at the battle of Fontenoy, where he had a horse shot under him. He was in other engagements, and also fought at Culloden. Some notices of him, with two of his letters, will be found in Burton’s Life of President Forbes, pages 342 and 343. He afterwards lived retired at Stradishall in Suffolk, and by economy and judicious management succeeded in some measure, in retrieving the losses which his father had sustained in the public service, and which, with the utmost ingratitude, the government which his exertions and outlay had mainly helped to establish, refused to acknowledge or compensate. John Forbes died 26th September 1772. He was twice married: first, to Jane, daughter of Sir Arthur Forbes of Craigievar, baronet, by whom he had two sons, Duncan, who died before him, and Arthur, his successor; and, secondly, Jane, daughter of Captain Forbes of Newe, without issue.

      Arthur, seventh laird, died 26th May 1803, and was succeeded by his only son, Duncan George, who died 3d November 1827, when his eldest son, Arthur, born 25th January 1819, became the ninth laird of Culloden.


      The Forbeses of Echt, an Aberdeenshire family, sprung from the Watertoun branch of the family of Tolquhoun.


      The Forbeses of Kingerloch, in Argyleshire, are descended from the youngest son of Sir John Forbes, fifth laird of Druminner, brother of the first Lord Forbes. Through the marriage of this youngest son, Alister Cam Forbes, with the daughter and heir of Sir Henry Cameron of Brux, that estate came into the family. Of this branch was William Forbes, of Skellater, baptized 15th October 1615, who joined the marquis of Huntly, on the king’s side, with the warriors of Strathdon. These were the only Forbeses who were not Covenanters, and as they were with the Gordons, (several of the Forbeses holding feudally of the marquis of Huntly,) both in the civil war and in the revolutionary campaign of 1689, they were called the Gordon-Forbeses. This William Forbes of Skellater adopted a motto distinct from that of other families of the name, namely, “Solus inter plurimos.”

      General John Forbes of Skellater, who died in 1809, when a young man distinguished himself by resenting the attacks on Scotland made by the celebrated demagogue, John Wilkes, in his ‘North Britain,’ and sought in vain for an opportunity to have a personal rencontre with him. He married a princess of the blood royal of Portugal, and rose to be a field-marshal in the Portuguese army. He is stated to have shown great military talent, and to have acted with great success against the Spaniards. When the royal family of Portugal went to the Brazils in November 1807, he accompanied them, and died there. – [New Statistical Account, vol. xii. page 541.]


      The first of the Forbeses of Boyndlie, in the parish of Tyrie, an offshoot of the noble family of Pitsligo, was killed at the battle of Craibstone on 1575. One of his descendants, John Forbes of Boyndlie, was by the marquis of Montrose taken prisoner with Sir William Forbes of Craigievar at the battle of Aberdeen, 12 September 1644. To procure the freedom of young Irvine of Drum, then a captive with the Covenanters, they were allowed to go, on their parole of honour, to their camp, and to recover their entire liberty if their captor should sustain a defeat before the period stipulated for their return. Finding obstacles in the way of the liberation of Irvine, Boyndlie returned and abode with Montrose, in the mountains, when his own adherents were deserting his standard in crowds. He died, when advanced in life, on his estate in Cromar.


      Forbes of Winkfield Place, county of Berks, England, is descended from Forbes of Colquhany, Strathdon. Of this family was William Forbes of Callander, Stirlingshire, second son of William Forbes, a citizen of Aberdeen. He was a native of that city, and bred a tinsmith. In early life he went to London, where, in process of time, he was enabled to commence business for himself. Having received a hint from, it is said, Admiral Byron, one of his customers, that it was the intention of the admiralty to sheathe the bottom of the vessels of the navy with copper, to preserve them from the effects of sea-water, instead of coal-tar, an invention of the earl of Dundonald, he immediately purchased up all the copper he could find to an immense extent. Obtaining soon after the exclusive right of coppering the royal navy and the East India Company’s ships, for twenty years, he realized a large fortune, and in 1783 purchased the estates of Callander and Almond in Stirlingshire, which had been forfeited by the attainder of the fifth earl of Linlithgow and fourth of Callander in 1715, and subsequently came into possession of the York Buildings Company. The price he paid for them was so low that he frequently afterwards declared that even the wood on the lands would have supplied the purchase money. When asked for his security, he replied, “I have it in my pocket,” and instantly produced one of the two largest bank notes ever issued in Scotland. On obtaining possession of this vast landed property he immediately set about improving it in every possible way, and thereby brought almost every part of it into a state of high cultivation. He died at Edinburgh 21st June 1815. In Kay’s Edinburgh Portraits, vol. ii. pp. 105-109, will be found a biographical notice of this fortunate speculator, containing some interesting instances of his personal peculiarities. He was twice married: first, to Miss Macadam of Craigengillan, by whom he had no children; and, secondly, to Miss Agnes Chalmers of Aberdeen, by whom he had a family. His eldest son, William, his successor in the entailed property, married in 1832, Lady Louisa Wemyss, sixth daughter of the earl of Wemyss and March, with issue. Her ladyship died in 1845. Mr. Forbes, the second laird of Callander of the name, vice-lieutenant of Stirlingshire, and member of parliament for that county from 1835 to 1837, was re-elected in 1841 and in 1852.

FORBES, PATRICK, an eminent prelate, descended from Sir Patrick Forbes, armour-bearer to King James the Third, was born in Aberdeenshire, 24th August 1564. He was the eldest of the seven sons of William Forbes of Corse, one of the most zealous of the Scottish reformers, whom he succeeded in the estates of Corse and O’Neil. After receiving the rudiments of his education at the grammar school of Stirling, under Thomas Buchanan, a nephew of the celebrated historian, he was sent to the university of Glasgow, where he studied philosophy under his cousin, the famous Andrew Melville, and on the latter becoming principal of St. Andrews in 1580, he accompanied him to that university, and studied Hebrew and theology there. He distinguished himself so much by his piety and learning that he was offered a professorship in the university, but about the same time was sent for by his father to take the management of the family estate. Having married Lucretia Spence, daughter of Spence of Wormiston in Fife, he took up his residence in Montrose, till his father’s death, when he removed to Corse, and occupied himself in agricultural improvements. Much of his time was also devoted to religious studies, and his reputation for learning was such that it was currently believed in the neighbourhood that he had direct communication with the devil. A local tradition, preserved in the New Statistical Account of Scotland, (vol. ii. p. 220,) states that having quarrelled with each other on some doctrinal point, the fiend flew off in a passion, carrying the side of the castle of Corse (built by Forbes’ father in 1581, and now in ruins) along with him. He early displayed a strong inclination for the pursuits and duties of a clerical life, and from his serious character, in the absence or deprivation of their ministers, was frequently called upon to officiate as a clergyman in some of the parishes adjoining his estate. By the bishop of the diocese, (Blackburn of Aberdeen,) he was earnestly entreated to enter into holy orders, while the primate of Scotland, Gladstanes, archbishop of St. Andrews, peremptorily prohibited him from publicly preaching until he should do so. He, in consequence, desisted from teaching in public, but in his own house continued to expound the Scriptures to his family and servants, and any of the gentry and others in the neighbourhood that might be permitted to attend. He did not enter the ministry till 1612, when he was forty-eight years old. It happened that the minister of the parish of Keith in Banffshire had, in a fit of religious melancholy, attempted to commit suicide, by stabbing himself, but not dying immediately, he repented of the deed, and sent for the laird of Corse, to pray with him. At the urgent request of the dying man, Forbes was induced at length to take holy orders, and become minister of Keith in his stead. The following year he published his ‘Commentary on the Revelations,’ which he dedicated to James the Sixth. The object of this erudite and elaborate work was to apply all that is said of Antichrist, of the beast, and of the whore of Babylon, to the church of Rome.

      In 1618, on a vacancy occurring, by the death of Bishop Alexander Forbes of the house of Ardmurdo, at the desire of the clergy and principal laity of the diocese, and at the express command of the king, he was appointed bishop of Aberdeen. Three ye4ars earlier, on the death of Bishop Blackburn, he had been urged to accept the app0ointment, but had then declined it. He now however accepted of it, and also became chancellor of King’s college and university, Old Aberdeen. In his latter capacity he set himself to promote the reformation of abuses in the colleges, and in 1619 he procured the appointment of a royal commission of visitation. Of King’s college, indeed, he proved himself to be a munificent patron, having repaired the buildings, augmented the library, and revived the dormant professorships of divinity, medicine, and civil law, as well as procured the addition of a new chair in theology. At the instance of the bishop, the synod of Aberdeen raised the necessary funds for founding a divinity chair in King’s college, of which his second son, Dr. John Forbes, of whom a memoir follows, was the first incumbent. In 1632 Bishop Forbes was seized with an infirmity in his right side which, depriving him of the use of his right arm, caused him ever after to subscribe his name with his left hand. On his deathbed, two days before his death, he sent for all the clergy of his diocese, and in their company received the holy communion. He died on the 28th March 1635, aged 71. He was buried in the cathedral of Aberdeen with military honours, and a monument was erected to his memory with a suitable Latin inscription. As the fashion was in those days, various poems were written in Latin, Greek, and English, funeral sermons preached, and orations delivered, on occasion of the death of so eminent and learned a prelate, all of which will be found in a rare and curious volume printed at Aberdeen soon after, entitled ‘The Funerals of a Right Reverend Father in God, Patrick Forbes of Corse. Aberdeen, imprinted by Edward Raban, 1635.’ Portraits of Bishop Patrick Forbes, by Jameson, are in Marischal college, Aberdeen, and at Fintray House. We are told by Bishop Burnet, in his life of Bedell, that it was Forbes’ custom to go round his diocese privately, attended by only one servant, and to enter as a private person into the church on Sunday, when the minister had ascended the pulpit, that so he might observe what his ordinary sermons were, and accordingly admonished or encouraged him; and as an instance of his humility, he says that Bishop Forbes had synods twice a year of his clergy; and before they went upon their other business he always began with a short discourse, excusing his own infirmities, and charging them that, if they knew of observed anything amiss in him, they would use all freedom with him, and either come and warn him in secret of secret errors; or, if they were public, that they would speak of them there in public, and upon that he withdrew, to leave them to the freedom of speech. “This condescension of his,” adds Burnet, “was never abused but by one petulant man, to whom all others were very severe for his insolence, only the bishop bore it quietly, and as became him.”

      His works are:

      Commentary upon the Revelation of St. John. London, 1613, 4to. Second edition, with a treatise ‘in defence of the lawfull calling of the ministers of Reformed Churches, against the cavillations of Romanistes; and an Epistle to a Recusant.’ Middleburg, 1614, 4to. Another edition, translated into Latin, with a sketch of the author’s life, was published by his son, Dr. John Forbes, at Amsterdam, 1646, 4to.

      Eubulus, or a Diologue, wherein a rugged Romish Ryme (inscrybed Catholicke Questions to the Protestant) is confuted, and the Questions thereof answered. By P.A. Aberdeen, 1627, 4to.

      Sermons. Aberd. 1635, 4to.

FORBES, JOHN, of Corse, one of the first scholars of his time, second son of the preceding, was born May 2, 1593. After studying philosophy and divinity at King’s college, Aberdeen, he went to Heidelberg, where he attended the theological lectures of the famous Paraeus, and subsequently spent some time at the other universities of Germany. So great was his proficiency in divinity and the Hebrew language that, according to Pictet, he maintained, in 1618, a public disputation against the archbishop and the Lutherans at Upsal in Sweden. In 1619 he was called to the office of the ministry, at Middleburgh, and having soon after returned home, he was appointed professor of divinity and ecclesiastical history in King’s college, on the first institution of that chair, as already stated in the life of his father. He was also for a short time one of the ministers of St. Nicholas, Aberdeen. In 1629 he made an attempt to reconcile the religious parties then zealously opposed to each other in Scotland, by publishing his ‘Irenicum pro Ecclesia Scoticana,’ which he dedicated to the lovers of peace and truth. In 1635, his elder brother being dead, he succeeded his father in the estate of Corse. Three years later, being a strong adherent of episcopacy, he and the other ‘Aberdeen doctors’ opposed the commissioners of the covenant, on their arrival in Aberdeen, both by their preaching and their writings; and, after appearing frequently before synods and committees appointed to deal with him, and resisting the entreaties of some of his near relatives who supported the covenant, to subscribe it, he was finally, by the committee of the General Assembly at Aberdeen, in 1640 ejected from his professorship. After residing for some time quietly on his estate, he went in 1644 to Holland, where he remained for two years, preaching frequently in the churches, and employing himself in the republication of his father’s Commentary on Revelation, and his own greatest work, entitled ‘Institutiones Historico-Theologicae,’ which is written with great vigour and elegance, and exhibits deep erudition. According to Dr. Burnet, it forms so excellent a work, that if he had lived to finish it, by a second volume, it would, perhaps have been the most valuable treatise of divinity that has yet appeared in the world.

      In 1646 he obtained leave to return to Scotland, and he spent the remainder of his life on his estate of Corse. His lands were repeatedly plundered by the Highland caterans, and in February 1636 the band of Gilderoy (as referred to previously) ravaged the fields and houses of some of his tenants, as well as those of many of their neighbours. In allusion to this, he says, in his Diary, or record of his ‘Spiritual Exercises,’ that in doing so they were “by some also encouraged by connivence and correspondence, as is well known in Scotland, and,” he continues, “remembering that in the tymes of my ancestors, since memorie of man, the lyke had not been practised upon that land, which God now had given to me by heritable succession, it seemeth that these robbers do take advantage through disesteem of me as being a schoolman; but I serve the same God whom my ancestors served, and hope in his mercy that he will shew me the way whereby theise robbers shall repent of this wicked attempt.” [Spiritual Exercises, fol. 48. MS. at Fintray House, quoted in Spalding’s Troubles in Scotland, vol. i. p. 69, note.] They carried off his cousin, and threatened to put him to death if not ransomed at a heavy sum, and also menaced himself with death if he complained to the council, or adopted any proceedings against them. It is stated in the New Statistical Account of Scotland (vol. xii. p. 1118) that on the face of the Hill of Corse, nearly opposite to the castle, there is a small excavation, known as “the laird’s hiding hold or chawmer,” where he is said to have concealed himself on such occasions of danger. He died at Corse, 29th April 1648.

      His works are:

Genethliaca Frederick V. Comitis Palatini, et Elizabethi. Heidelberg, 1614, 4to.

      A Letter, shewing how a Christian may discern God’s Spirit in witnessing his adoption. Lond.; 1617, 8vo.

      Disputationes duae pro Theologiae professione. Edinburgh, 1620, 4to.

      Irenicum pro Ecclesia Scoticana. Aberdeen, 1629, 4to.

      Institutiones Historico-Theologicae. Amst. Lud. Elzev. 1645, fol. A work universally admired.

      In 1703, an elegant edition of his works, in 2 vols, folio, was printed at Amsterdam, with his life, under the superintendence principally of Professor Gurtler of Deventer, and partly of Dr. George Garden of Aberdeen. His Diary on Spiritual Exercises, extending from 3d February 1624 to the close of 1647, was included in this edition, but in a Latin dress.

FORBES, WILLIAM, a learned and eloquent prelate, the first bishop of Edinburgh, son of Thomas Forbes, a descendant of the Forbeses of Corsindae, and Janet Cargill, sister of Dr. James Cargill, an eminent physician in Aberdeen, was born in that city in 1585. He acquired the rudiments of his education at the Grammar school, and at the age of twelve was sent to Marischal college, where he took his degree of master of arts when only sixteen. Soon after, by the influence of the principal (Gilbert Gray) he was appointed regent or professor of logic, in that university, it being the custom in those days to bestow regencies upon young men preparing for the ministry, but at the end of four years, he resigned his professorship, and went to the continent for his improvement. After visiting Poland, he pursued his studies at various universities of Germany, and then went to Leyden, where he formed an intimacy with the younger Scaliger, and Vossius, then a professor there, and also with the learned Grotius. In the study of divinity and the Hebrew language he made great progress. In the latter particularly his attainments were most extensive. After spending four years on the continent, he visited England on his way home, and resided for a short time at Oxford, in the university of which place he was offered the professorship of Hebrew, but declined it on account of bad health. He returned to Aberdeen in the twenty-fifty year of his age, when the magistrates conferred on him the freedom of the city. By Lord Forbes, the patron of the parish, he was appointed minister at Alford, and soon after was translated to Monymusk. At the earnest solicitation of the inhabitants of Aberdeen, he was, in the year 1617, appointed by the magistrates of that city, minister of St. Nicholas church, and received from the university the degree of D.D., being one of the first who took that degree after its introduction among the reformed clergy of Scotland. In the following year he was elected principal of Marischal college, and soon after was elevated to the rectorship. In 1621 he resigned the office of principal, but during the short time he held it, he repaired the college buildings and the Greyfriars church. The fame of his great eloquence and learning caused the people of Edinburgh to express a desire to have him as one of their ministers, and the General Assembly and the synod of Aberdeen having sanctioned his translation, he accordingly removed to Edinburgh, but did not continue long there.

      When Charles the First was in Edinburgh in 1633, Dr. Forbes was sent for to preach before his majesty in the Chapel Royal, which he did on the 25th June of that year, taking for his text John xiv. 27. The king was so much struck with his eloquence and theological knowledge that he selected him to be the first bishop of Edinburgh, then newly erected into an episcopal see. His nomination took place in January 1634, and he was consecrated in the following month; but his ardent application to study, and his violent exertions in the pulpit, – as he sometimes continued preaching for two or three hours – had much impaired his constitution, and he died on the 1st of April the same year, having enjoyed his bishopric little more than two months. “He departed this life,” says Spalding, “after the taking of some physic, sitting in his arm-chair, suddenly; a matchless man of learning, languages, utterance, and delivery, a peerless preacher, of a grave and godly conversation.” In Keith’s Catalogue of Scottish Bishops, the following character is given of this eminent prelate: “A person he was endowed most eminently with all Christian virtues, insomuch that a very worthy man, Robert Burnet, Lord Crimond, a judge of the court of session, said of our prelate, that he never saw him but he thought his heart was in heaven; and that he was never alone with him but he felt within himself a commentary on those words of the apostle, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us, while he yet talked with us, and opened to us the scriptures.’” The subjoined woodcut of Bishop Forbes is from his portrait in Pinkerton’s Iconographis Scotica:

[portrait of Bishop Forbes]

      Bishop Forbes published nothing during his life. In his doctrines he leaned toward Arminianism, and entertained notions of effecting a reconciliation betwixt the Popish and Protestant churches. With a view of setting at rest controversies, he wrote a work of considerable note, published at London in 1658, twenty-four years after his death, entitled ‘Considerationes Modestae et Pacificae Controversiarum de Justificatione, Purgatorio, Invocatione Sanctorum, et Christo Mediatore et Eucharistia,’ 8vo, edited by Thomas Sydserf, bishop of Galloway. A new edition appeared at Helmstädt in 1707. He had written numerous notes on the margins of the edition of Bellarmin published at Paris, which Dr. Baron, into whose hands the work fell, intended to publish, but did not. Some of Forbes’ MSS. are said by Sir Thomas Urquhart to have been purchased by Archbishop Laud.

FORBES, ALEXANDER, fourth and last Lord Forbes of Pitsligo, only son of the third lord, by Lady Sophia Erskine, third daughter of John, ninth earl of Mar, was born May 22, 1678, and while yet a minor succeeded his father in 1691. To complete his education he went to France, where he became acquainted with Fenelon, by whom he was introduced to the celebrated Quietist, Madame Guion, whose speculative opinions in religion he warmly embraced. On his return home he took the oaths of his seat in the Scots parliament, May 24, 1700. Deeply attached to the exiled royal family, he distinguished himself by his opposition to the measures of the government, and adhered to the protest of the duke of Athol against the Union. On the oath of abjuration being extended to Scotland, his lordship, with many other conscientious Jacobites, ceased to interfere in public business.

      In 1715, when the earl of May erected the standard of the Pretender, Lord Pitsligo joined him, and was present at the battle of Sheriffmuir. On the failure of that rash enterprise, his lordship retired to the continent, and spent some time at the court of the Pretender at Rome. His name did not appear among the number of attainders by government, and on his return to Scotland in 1720, he took up his residence at Pitsligo castle in Aberdeenshire, where he devoted himself to literature and the study of the mystical writers, with whose works he had become acquainted on the continent.

      The ruins of the old castle or mansion-house of Pitsligo stand in the parish of the same name, and are surrounded with extensive and still cultivated gardens, which yield some of the finest fruit to be found in Aberdeenshire. These ruins are situated on the shore of the Moray Firth, a few miles distant from Fraserburgh. The castle has been built at different times, and the walls are from six to seven feet thick. Of the date of the square tower or keep there is not record. The rest of the building, forming three sides of a spacious court, is evidently more modern, and was probably erected by Alexander, second Lord Pitsligo, as the arms of that lord, quartered with those of his wife, Lady Mary Erskine, daughter of the earl of Buchan, are still to be seen over the gateway. The castle was nearly destroyed after the battle of Culloden. The ruins, with part of the estate, were purchased by Sir William Forbes, the representative of the family. The parish of Pitsligo was originally composed of the lands of Lord Pitsligo, and the name, derived from the estate, signifies in Gaelic “hollow shell.”

      In 1734, Lord Pitsligo published ‘Essays Moral and Philosophical,’ on several subjects. On the breaking out of the Rebellion of 1745, notwithstanding his age, being then sixty-seven years old, he again took arms for the Stuarts, and being considered a man of excellent judgment, and of a cautious and prudent temper, his example drew many of his neighbours into the insurrection. At the head of a regiment of well-appointed cavalry, about one hundred strong, chiefly composed of Aberdeenshire gentlemen and their tenantry, and which was known by this name, he joined the Pretender in Edinburgh after the battle of Preston. He shared in all the subsequent movements of the prince’s army, and after the battle of Culloden he concealed himself for some time in the mountainous district of the country. Although the people who gave him shelter and protection were extremely poor, they freely shared their humble and scanty fare with him. He afterwards lurked about the coast of Buchan, and amongst his own tenants in the moors of Pitsligo; and many interesting anecdotes are told of his various adventures and escapes from the pursuit of the military sent in search of him. The place of his concealment was for some time a cave, constructed under the arch of a bridge, at a remote part of the moors of Pitsligo. His favourite disguise was that of an old mendicant, which was much favoured by his age and infirmities. On one occasion he was seized with an asthmatic fit just as a patrol of soldiers were coming up behind him. Having no other expedient, he sat down by the roadside, and begged alms of the party. One of the soldiers threw him a small coin, at the same time condoling with him on the severity of his asthma.

      Having been attainted of high treason, under the name of Lord Pitsligo, and his estate confiscated, he endeavoured to obtain a reversal of his attainder, on account of a misnomer, his true title being Lord Forbes of Pitsligo. The court of session gave judgment in his favour, November 16, 1749, but on appeal this decision was reversed by the House of Lords, February 1, 1750. His only son, the master of Pitsligo, married the daughter of James Ogilvy of Auchiries, Aberdeenshire, and the latter years of Lord Pitsligo’s life were spent in the house of Auchiries, when he took the name of Mr. Brown. On the last occasion that a search was made for him, his escape was most remarkable. In March 1756, long after all apprehension of a search had ceased, information was given to the then commanding officer at Fraserburgh, that Lord Pitsligo was at that moment in the house of Auchiries. On that night Mrs. Sophia Donaldson, a lady who lived much with the family, repeatedly dreamed that the house was surrounded by soldiers. Getting out of bed as day began to dawn, she accidentally looked out at the window, and was astonished at actually observing a party of soldiers among some trees near the house. At first she supposed they had come to steal poultry, but her sister having awoke, and, being told of soldiers near the house, exclaimed, in great alarm, that she feared they wanted something more than hens! The family being instantly roused, Lord Pitsligo was hurried from his bed into a small recess behind the wainscot of an adjoining room, which was concealed by a bed, in which a lady, Miss Gordon of Towie, who was there on a visit, slept. On the soldiers obtaining admission, a most minute search took place, Miss Gordon’s bed was carefully examined, and one of the party actually felt her chin, to ascertain that it was not a man in a lady’s night-dress. When the soldiers were in this room, the confinement and anxiety increased Lord Pitsligo’s asthma so much, that Miss Gordon, lying in bed, had to counterfeit much and violent coughing, to prevent his lordship’s high breathings behind the wainscot from being heard. On the search being given over, Lord Pitsligo was hastily taken from his confined situation, and replaced in bed, and as soon as he was able to speak, his accustomed kindness of heart made him say to his servant, “James, go and see that these poor fellows get some breakfast, and a drink of warm ale, for this is a cold morning; they are only doing their duty, and cannot bear me any ill will.” When the family were felicitating each other on his escape, he pleasantly observed, “A poor prize had they obtained it – an old dying man!”

      Lord Pitsligo died December 21, 1762, aged 85 years. He was twice married: first, to Rebecca, daughter of John Norton, merchant, London, by whom he had one son, John, master of Pitsligo (died in 1781); and, secondly, to Elizabeth Allen, an English lady, who had no issue. In his seclusion at Auchiries house, he occupied himself in composing several religious essays, which, left in manuscript, were published shortly after his death. One of them, entitled ‘Thoughts concerning Man’s Condition and Duties in this Life, and his Hopes in the World to Come,’ with an interesting biographical sketch prefixed, by his kinsman Lord Medwyn, was published at Edinburgh in 1835.

FORBES, DUNCAN, of Culloden, lord president of the court of session, an eminent lawyer, and one of the purest patriots that ever lived, was born either at Culloden house or at the hose of Bunchrew, another estate belonging to his father, near Inverness, it is supposed the latter, November 10, 1685. With his elder brother, John, he obtained the rudiments of education at Inverness, where he made great proficiency in the Latin language. He was afterwards sent to Edinburgh to complete his education. After his father’s death in 1704, he is said to have embarked in some commercial speculations, but these not proving successful, he soon abandoned all idea of mercantile pursuits. He disposition inclined him to the army, but by the advice of his friends he applied himself to the law, the study of which he pursued with great assiduity, first at Edinburgh, and afterwards at Leyden. In 1707 he returned to Scotland, and on 26th July 1709 was admitted advocate. Shortly after, through the interest of the duke of Argyle, then at the head of Scottish affairs, he was appointed sheriff of Mid Lothian (Brunton and Haig’s Senators of the College of Justice, page 509.] By the Argyle family he was much employed, and was intrusted by the duke with the management of his estates during his absence, for which he declined any remuneration, being induced by friendship or gratitude to render this service to his patron. His great abilities and manly eloquence soon procured him an extensive practice both before the court of session, and in appeal cases before the House of Lords. On the breaking out of the rebellion of 1715 both he and his brother rendered very important service to the government in the north, on which occasion he garrisoned Culloden castle, and appeared in arms at the head of two hundred men, the rebels being masters of Inverness, which, however, soon surrendered. On the suppression of the rebellion he was appointed advocate-depute. This office, from the belief that he was to be employed in the prosecution of persons then confined at Carlisle on account of the rebellion, he was most reluctant to accept, as he deemed the sending of the accused out of Scotland for trial highly illegal; but, by the entreaties of his friends, particularly of the earl of Islay, the brother of the duke of Argyle, and afterwards duke himself, he ultimately consented to do so, and entered upon its duties 12th March 1716. To assist such of his countrymen as were among the unfortunate prisoners, with the means of defending themselves, he exerted himself in collecting money from his friends. In 1717 he was appointed solicitor-general of Scotland.

      In 1722 he contested the Inverness district of burghs with Mr. Alexander Gordon of Ardoch, when the latter was returned, but, on petition to the House of Commons, Mr. Forbes was declared duly elected, and he continued their representative till 1737. In 1725 he was promoted to the highly responsible and important situation of lord-advocate, and during the long period he held this office, comparatively few prosecutions took place, it being a maxim with him that “better twenty guilty persons should escape, than one innocent man should suffer.” On the temporary discontinuance of the Scottish secretaryship of state that year, the duties of the office were thrown upon Duncan Forbes, who thus set the precedent by which the lord-advocate, in addition to his other multifarious functions, is burdened with a large proportion of every department of ministerial duty in Scotland. In 1734, on the death of his brother, he succeeded to the estate of Culloden. On the occurrence of the Porteous riots three years afterwards, he opposed, though the principal law-officer of the Crown for Scotland, the bill brought in by ministers for depriving the city of Edinburgh of some of its privileges and taking away the Netherbow Port of that city. Soon after (June 1737) he was nominated lord-president of the court of session, in which elevated station he conducted himself with so much integrity and public spirit as to acquire the lasting esteem and veneration of his countrymen.

      During the rebellion of 1745 he used all his power and influence to oppose the progress of the Pretender, and for some time concentrated in his own person the whole elements of government, civil and military, deliberative, judicial, and executive, in the north. By his interference and exertions, some of the most powerful of the Highland chiefs were prevented from joining in the insurrection. He even impaired and almost ruined his own private fortune in advancing money to assist in paying the king’s troops, and to defray other expenses occasioned by the rebellion. But the glory he acquired in advancing the prosperity of his country, and in contributing to establish peace and order, was all the reward he ever received for his truly patriotic services. When he applied to government for the repayment of these sums which his loyalty had led him to expend in the cause of the public, the ministry refused to indemnify him for his losses. He had spent several years’ rents of his estates in the service of government. His brother had expended large sums in the same cause in 1715. Of this, amounting to thirty thousand pounds sterling, not one sixpence was ever repaid to him. “The mere money,” says Lord Cockburn, in an article on the Culloden Papers, in the Edinburgh Review for February 1816, “he probably never thought of, but the sentiment conveyed in the refusal was somewhat hard to bear. On this subject he was silent. But he had induced others on his credit to advance funds for the exigency of the day, and he openly remonstrated against not being enabled to do justice to them. He was thanked by his majesty, but this is sometimes the coldest form in which an old servant can be discarded. No cause was ever found sufficiently plausible to be openly stated in defence of this conduct, but when we recollect the characters of the duke of Cumberland and of Forbes, we cannot doubt that one of the popular accounts is the true one, which ascribes it all to his having plainly, and even in the king’s presence, expressed his decided disapprobation of the violence of the royal army after the battle of Culloden.” This ungrateful return is said to have been so mortifying to his generous mind as to have greatly accelerated his death, which took place December 10, 1747, in the 62d year of his age. His remains were buried in Greyfriars churchyard, Edinburgh, and a marble statue to his memory by Roubiliac, considered the chef-d’oeuvre of that celebrated sculptor, erected at the expense of the faculty of advocates, adorns the Parliament house, Edinburgh. It was, as Mr. Burton aptly remarks in the conclusion of his Life of Duncan Forbes, “worthily placed in that noble old hall, where the memory of his services and his character still lives, as of one, who altered and elevated the tone of professional and judicial morality in his day, and left even to the present generation a greater legacy of sound and honest principles, than they might have been able to achieve without his aid. There is something in this statue of the florid drapery and excited manner of its French artist, Roubiliac; but the accuracy with which the features are portrayed is sufficient to impart a solemn dignity to the marble face, whence a slightly profuse tone in the adjuncts of the statue, makes a scarcely perceptible deduction. In this and in the other representations of President Forbes, we can see that nature, by a harmony of mental and corporeal qualities, not often exemplified, represented the excellences of his mind with singular precision, in a countenance which has scarcely been excelled for the united expression of open honesty, firmness, intellect, and gentleness.”

      He had married, soon after being called to the bar, Mary, daughter of Hugh Rose, Esq. of Kilravock, the adjoining estate to Culloden, and had an only son, John Forbes, who, in 1749, two years after the president’s death, received from government a pension of four hundred pounds a-year, a tardy but most inadequate acknowledgment of their obligations to his father. Mrs. Forbes died early, and the president did not marry again. He was a man of great learning, benevolence, and piety, and well versed in the oriental languages. He was the friend of Allan Ramsay, Thomson, Pope, Swift, Arbuthnott, Gay, and other poets of his time. The author of the Seasons, who owed much to his patronage and friendship, thus speaks of him, in the language both of gratitude and truth:

                        “Thee Forbes too, whom every worth attends,
      As truth sincere, as weeping friendship king;
      Thee truly generous and in silence great,
      Thy country feels through her reviving arts,
      Plann’d by thy wisdom, by thy soul inform’d,
      And seldom has she known a friend like thee.”

      President Forbes displayed, indeed, says the article in the Edinburgh Review, already quoted, “one of those characters which are sometimes to be found in what Hume calls ‘the corners of history,’ but which deserve to be blazoned at large on its broadest page. He is in every situation so full of honour, of gentleness, of true wisdom, of kindness and intrepidity, that we doubt if there be any one public man of this part of the empire or of the age that is gone, whose qualities ought to be so strongly recommended to the contemplation of all those who wish truly to serve their country.” In Johnson’s Scots Musical Museum he is stated to have been the author of the tender and pathetic song, beginning “Ah! Chloris, could I now but sit,” to the tune of Gilderoy, said to have been written about 1710, and addressed to the lady who became his wife, but the verses are to be found in Sir Charles Sedley’s play of the Mulberry Garden, printed in 1675, several years before President Forbes was born. Mr. Kirkpatrick Sharpe has also shown that one of two other songs which have been attributed to him have been so erroneously, particularly ‘Lucky Nancy,’ and ‘Love is the cause of my Mourning.” His writings, chiefly on religious subjects, are as follow

      Letter to a Bishop concerning some Important Discoveries in Philosophy and Theology; in favour of Hutchinson’s system. London, 1732, 4to, which passed through at least three editions; also translated into French by Father Houbigant.

      Some Thoughts concerning Religion, natural and revealed, and the manner of understanding Revelation. Edin. 1735, 1743, 8vo. Also translated into French by Father Houbigant

      Reflections on the Sources of Incredulity with regard to Religion. Edin. 1750, 2 vols. 12mo. or 1 vol, 8vo, posth.

      Culloden Papers; comprising an extensive and interesting correspondence, from the year 1625 to 1748. Including numerous Letters from the unfortunate Lord Lovat, and other distinguished persons of the time; with occasional State Papers of much historical importance. The whole published from the originals in the possession of Duncan George Forbes, of Culloden, Esq. With his Memoirs. Lond. 1815, 4to.

FORBES, SIR WILLIAM, baronet, of Pitsligo, an eminent banker, was born at Edinburgh, April 5, 1739. His father, whom he succeeded in the baronetcy, was a member of the faculty of advocates, and died when Sir William was only four years of age. After that event his mother, who was left with but a slender provision, removed with him and his brother to Aberdeen, where he received his education. In October 1753 he returned with his mother to Edinburgh, and soon afterwards was introduced as an apprentice into the bank of Messrs. Coutts. On the expiration of his apprenticeship, which lasted seven years, he acted for two years as clerk in the same establishment. In 1761 his diligence and excellent business abilities induced his employers to admit him into the copartnery; and two years afterwards, on the death of one of the Messrs. Coutts, and retirement of another on account of ill health, while the two others were settled in London, a new company was formed, comprising Sir William Forbes, Sir James Hunter Blair, and Sir Robert Herries, who at first carried on business in the name of the old firm. In 1773, however, Sir Robert Herries formed a separate establishment in London, when the name was changed to that of Forbes, Hunter, and Co.; of which firm Sir William continued to be the head till his death.

      In 1768 Sir William resided for some months in London, and he subsequently frequently visited the metropolis, being very partial to its society. He was one of the earliest members of the celebrated Literary Club, which boasted among its illustrious associates the names of Johnson, Burke, Reynolds, Garrick, and others.

      In his mercantile transactions, especially in affording assistance to persons in business who applied for it, he was even profuse in his liberality, where he was satisfied that they were worthy of his confidence. Among many to whom he extended his beneficent aid was William Smellie, the printer and naturalist, as we learn from Kerr’s life of that eminent individual. In the management of the numerous charitable institutions of Edinburgh Sir William took a prominent part. He was also an active promoter of the Society of Scottish antiquaries, the Institution of Trustees for the Encouragement of Manufactures and Fisheries, and the establishment of a Lunatic Asylum at Morningside. He likewise gave his zealous aid in promoting some of the most useful and successful improvements of the northern metropolis; and being a warm adherent of the Scottish Episcopal church, he was unwearied in his exertions to promote its prosperity. In acts of public and private charity he expended large sums, and that in so unostentatious a manner that, in most instances, none but those charged with the distribution of the money knew who was the donor.

      In 1781 he was enabled to purchase the forfeited estate of Pitsligo, in Aberdeenshire, and having thus restored to his family their paternal inheritance, he immediately introduced the most extensive improvements on it. He laid out the village of New Pitsligo, and established a number of poor cottars on the most uncultivated parts of the estate, most of whom he allowed to occupy their land rent free, while to others he gave pensions in return for their labour. A woodcut of Sir William is subjoined, from a portrait of him by Sir Joshua Reynolds.

portrait of Sir William Forbes]

      Sir William dedicated the leisure of his latter years to writing the life of his friend, Dr. Beattie, which, with his works, was published in 2 vols. 4to, in 1805. He died at his seat near Edinburgh, November 12, 1806, aged 68. He had married, in 1770, Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Dr. afterwards Sir James Hay of Hayston, by whom he had three sons and five daughters.

Memoir of Sir John Forbes (1862)

Life and Letters of James David Forbes, F.R.S.
Late Principle of the United College in the University of St. Andrews, Sometime Professor of Natural Philospophy in the University of Edinburgh, Formerly Secretary R.B.E., Corresponding Member of the Institute of France, Etc. Etc. By John Campbell Shairp, LL.D., Peter Guthrie Tait, M.A., and A. Adams-Reilly, F.R.G.S. (1873) (pdf)

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