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The Scottish Nation

FRENDRAUGHT, Viscount, a title in the peerage of Scotland (now extinct), conferred in 1642, on James Crichton, eldest son of James Crichton of Frendraught, in Aberdeenshire, the seventh in direct descent from the celebrated Lord Chancellor Crichton, and the fifth from the chancellor’s grandson, the third Lord Crichton, in whom that title was forfeited 24th February 1484, (see CRICHTON, Lord). The father of the first Viscount Frendraught is the subject of the well-known ballads of ‘the Burning of Frendraught,’ and ‘Frennet Hall,’ both founded on the following circumstances: A dispute having occurred between him and William Gordon of Rothiemay on 1st January 1630, a rencontre ensued, in which Rothiemay was killed, and several persons hurt on both sides. To prevent farther feud, the marquis of Huntly, as the friend of both parties, interfered, and directed Frendraught to pay fifty thousand merks to Rothiemay’s widow, as compensation for the loss of her husband. On the 27th of the following September, the laird of Frendraught being with Robert Crichton of Condlaw, and James Lesly, son of Lesly of Pitcaple, another quarrel ensued, when Condlaw shot young Lesly through the arm, and was, in consequence, put out of Frendraught’s company. In the following month the latter went to visit the marquis of Huntly at the Bog of Gight, when the laird of Pitcaple, at the head of thirty horsemen, rode up to demand satisfaction for the wound of his son. Huntly endeavoured to convince the angry laird that Frendraught was not the cause of his son’s wound, and as Pitcaple still vowed vengeance, sent Frendraught home under a strong escort, commanded by his son, Viscount Aboyne, the “Lord John” of the ballad, and young Gordon of Rothiemay, the son of him who had been killed. On arriving at Frendraught castle, they were well entertained, and pressed to remain all night, which they unfortunately consented to do, and were placed for the night in a tower in rooms one above the other. About midnight a fire broke out in the tower so suddenly, and burnt so furiously, that Aboyne, Rothiemay, and their attendants, six in number, perished in the flames, one person only escaping. Huntly, in the belief that the fire was wilful, instituted a prosecution against the laird of Frendraught, who, on his part, suspecting the laird of Pitcaple of the crime, seized a nephew of the latter, named Meldrum, as the incendiary, and carried him to Edinburgh, where he was tried, found guilty, and executed, asserting his innocence to the last. Spalding’s account of this event, which is unfavourable to Frendraught, and is usually copied as a note in the ballad collections, must be taken with considerable reservation. One pathetic incident connected with it may, however, be quoted from his pages: “It is reported,” he says, “that upon the morn after this woeful fire, the Lady Frendraught, daughter to the earl of Sutherland, and near cousin to the marquis, backed in a white plaid, and riding on a small nag, having a boy leading her horse, without any more in her company, in this pitiful manner, she came weeping and mourning to the Bog, desiring entry to speak with my lord; but this was refused; so she returned back to her own house, the same gate she came, comfortless.” The Gordons repeatedly plundered the lands of Frendraught, and for security to his person, Mr. Crichton was compelled to reside in Edinburgh for some years, and to have recourse to the protection of the law. One of his younger sons was killed by Adam Gordon, 23d August 1642.

      James Crichton, the eldest son, was in the lifetime of his father created Viscount Frendraught, as already stated, in consideration of his father being heir male of Lord Chancellor Crichton, by patent to him and his heirs male and successors, dated at Nottingham 29th August 1642. The second title was Lord Crichton. He accompanied the marquis of Montrose in his last unfortunate expedition in March 1650, and was with him at Invercharron in Ross-shire, when he was defeated by Colonel Strachan on the 27th April following. The marquis’s horse having been shot under him, he mounted the horse of Lord Frendraught, which that young nobleman generously offered him, and galloping off the field, escaped for a few days. Lord Frendraught, severely wounded, was taken prisoner, but anticipated a public execution by what Douglas, in his Peerage, calls “a Roman death.” He had two sons; James, second, and Lewis, fourth viscount.

      The second viscount died young, leaving one son, William, third viscount, who died unmarried in his minority, and was succeeded by his uncle, Lewis, fourth and last viscount, served heir to his nephew in 1686. He joined King James Seventh and Second in France, for which he was attainted by parliament in July 1690; attended him to Ireland, and died without issue 26th November 1698. The lands of Frendraught now belong to Mr. Morrison of Bognie, whose ancestor married the widow of the second viscount.

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