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The Scottish Nation

IRVINE, a surname of ancient standing in Scotland, supposed to have been originally Erevine, the latter word derived, according to some antiquaries, from the Celtic-Scythic Erin-vine or fein, that is, a stout westland man; Erin, West, (the native name of Ireland, as lying west of Scotland,) and vine, or fein, a strong and resolute man. Nisbet (System of Heraldry, vol., ii. App. p. 69) says that when the colonies of the Gauls came from the west coasts of Spain and seated themselves in the east coasts of Erin and in the west hills and islands of Albyn, the Erevines came to both these islands. In the latter county, they had their seat in that part of Ayrshire called Cunningham, and gave their name to the river, and to their own place of residence, now the town of Irvine. One of them, Crine Erwine, was abthane of Dull, and seneschal and collector of all the king’s rents in the western isles. He married the princess Beatrix, eldest daughter of Malcolm II., and was father of Duncan I., king of Scotland. Some of this family went south to Dumfries-shire, and settled on the river Esk, where one of them obtained, by marriage, the lands of Bonshaw, in that county. A descendant of his, in the 17th century, rendered his name obnoxious by his cruel persecutions of the Covenanters.


      The family of Irvine of Drum is descended from Sir William de Irwin, said to have been the eldest son (though more likely to have been a 2d son) of the family of Bonshaw, at the time when Robert the Bruce took arms in support of his claim to the throne of Scotland. He appointed this William de Irvine his armour-bearer, bestowing on him, at the same time, the device which he himself had borne as earl of Carrick, viz., three bunches of holly leaves, supported by two savages, wreathed, with the motto used by himself, ‘Sub sole, sub umbra virens.’ Having accompanied his royal master in his various wanderings, shared in his narrow escapes, and attended him in all his deeds of desperate valour, till his ‘crowning victory’ at Bannockburn, he was in 1323 rewarded for his services and fidelity, with a grant, by charter under the great seal, of the forest of Drom or Drum, in Aberdeenshire, originally part of a royal forest, and one of the hunting seats of the kings of Scotland. The park of Drum, which formed part of the Chase, was reserved. The charter is still extant, and is dated

‘Apud Berwicem super Tweedem, primo die Februarii, anno regni noster septimo decimo.’ Among the family papers is another charter by Robert I., dated at Kynros, 4th October, in the 18th year of his reign.

      Sir William’s son, Alexander Irvine of Drum, married the second daughter of Sir Robert Keith, great marischal of Scotland. His son, Sir Alexander, had a command in the Lowland army under the earl of Mar, at the battle of Harlaw, fought in 1411, where he encountered MacLean of Dowart, lieutenant-general under Donald of the Isles, and fought hand to hand with him, with such determined bravery, that both were killed. In the popular ballad relating to the battle, he is thus alluded to:

                        “Gude Sir Alexander Irvine,
                              The much renounit Laird of Drum:
                        None in his dals were better sene,
                              Quhen that wer semblit all and som.
                        To praise him we sud not be dumm,
                              For valour, wit, and worthiness;
                        To end his dals hether did cum,
                              Quhois ransum is remedyles.”

      He was succeeded by his brother, Robert, who, on inheriting Drum, changed his baptismal name to Alexander. He married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Robert Keith, great marischal of Scotland. A feud had for some time subsisted between the Keiths and the Drum family, and according to tradition a fight had taken place between them on a moor on the north bank of the Dee, now forming part of the glebe of the parish of Drumoak, in which the Irvines were victorious. With the view of putting an end to this unseemly quarrel, the Estates of the kingdom had interfered, and had enjoined on Alexander Irvine, the third of the family and the one slain at Harlaw, to marry Elizabeth Keith, the lady above referred to. He accordingly submitted to the marriage ceremony being performed, which had the desired effect of making the two families friends, instead of enemies. It is stated that when hastening to Harlaw, at the head of his vassals, he sat down on a stone on the hill of Auchrony, parish of Skene, and advised his brother Robert, who accompanied him, to marry his sister-in-law, if he were slain, assuring him that the marriage with himself had never been consummated. Robert, afterwards Sir Alexander, in consequence, complied with his request. The latter was one of the commissioners deputed by the Estates of Scotland, in 1423, to treat concerning the ransom of King James I., and in the following year he was knighted by that monarch.

      In 1437, after the murder of James I. At Perth, the inhabitants of Aberdeen solicited the services of Sir Alexander, for the defence and protection of that city, and in 1440 the burgesses unanimously consented to his being appointed captain and governor of the burgh. He held this situation for two years, and there is no other instance on record of the existence of the office in Aberdeen. He had two sons, the younger of whom distinguished himself so highly at the battle of Brechin, in 1452, that he received a charter of the lands of Beltie from the earl of Huntly, under whom he served, as a reward for his conduct on that occasion. From this younger son descended the Irvines of Lenturk and the Irvines in Germany.

      The elder son, Alexander, fifth laird of Drum, had a son, also named Alexander (which, indeed, seems to have been the favourite baptismal name of the eldest sons of the family), who succeeded as sixth laird, and was twice married. By his first wife he had three sons, viz. Alexander, his successor; Richard, of Craigton, from whom descended the Irvines of Hilltown; and Henry, ancestor of the Irvines of Kingcausie. By his second wife, he had eight daughters, seven of whom were married to proprietors of land. The eldest son, Alexander, received from James V., a gift of non-entry to the lands of Forglen, dated 4th December 1527, bearing to be given “on account of Drum, his said son, and their friends, their good and thankful service done to the king, in searching, taking, and bringing his rebels to justice.” His son, Alexander, also took an active part in the stirring events which occurred in the minority of Mary. He was killed at the battle of Pinkie in 1547, in his father’s lifetime, leaving, with three daughters, six sons, the eldest of whom, Alexander, succeeded his grandfather. The second son, William, was designed of Ardlogie; Robert, of Tillylair, the third son, was progenitor of the Irvines of Fortrie; Gilbert, of Colarlie, the fourth son, was predecessor of the Irvines of Murthill and Cults; James, the fifth son, a knight of Malta, was ordained, by the grand-master, prior of the order in Scotland; and John, the sixth son, died young.

      The grandson, Alexander, eighth laird of Drum, married Lady Elizabeth Keith, second daughter of William earl Marischal, and had five sons and four daughters. John Irvine of Artamford, the youngest son, had eight sons, who all died without issue, except James, the second, who succeeded to the estate of Artamford, and his son, also named James, had, with one daughter, five sons. The eldest son, Alexander, sold Artamford to his brother, William, and bought Crimond in 1703. He subsequently inherited Drum.

      Alexander, the eldest son of the eighth laird, became ninth laird of Drum in 1583, and distinguished himself as a patron of learning and a benefactor to the poor. He also seems to have lent money to James VI., as there is extant in the charter chest of Drum a holograph bond by that monarch to him for 500 merks, dated at Dalkeith 27th November 1587, and payable at Whitsunday thereafter. In 1610 he was named a member of the court of high commission appointed that year. In 1629, this laird of Drum devised £10,000 Scots for the maintenance of four bursars of philosophy, and two of divinity, at the Marischal college, Aberdeen, and of four bursars at the grammar school of that city, vesting the right of presenting them in the family of Drum. His wife, Lady Marion Douglas, daughter of the earl of Buchan, also bequeathed 3,000 merks, in 1633, to endow an hospital in Aberdeen, for the widows and daughters of decayed burgesses, the patronage of which is with the town council.

      His eldest son, Sir Alexander Irvine of Drum, sheriff-principal of Aberdeen in 1634 and following years, obtained a patent from King Charles I. Creating him earl of Aberdeen (that of the Gordon creation does not date till 1682), which the breaking out of the civil war prevented from passing the great seal. His losses by the commotions that ensued were considerable, he and his sons having zealously supported the royal cause. His house and lands were frequently occupied and plundered by the Covenanters’ army. He was imprisoned, fined, and more than once obliged to flee for safety to England.

      His eldest son, Alexander, married, first, Lady Mary Gordon, fourth daughter of the marquis of Huntly. He and his brother, Robert, during the lifetime of his father, joined the banner of Charles, and distinguished themselves so highly in his service that they were excommunicated 14th April 1644, and had a price set upon their heads; 18,000 merks being offered for the young laird, dead or alive, and 9,000 for Robert. With the view of escaping to England, they sailed from Fraserburgh, but being obliged to land at Wick, where a committee happened to be sitting, they were made prisoners, and warded in the castle of Keish. Thence they were conducted, under a strong escort, to Edinburgh, and lodged in the city jail. Robert died in prison, six months thereafter; the young laird was then removed to the castle, under sentence of death. His execution, however, was stopped by the defeat of the Covenanters at Kilsyth in 1645, and in compliance with the stipulations made by the marquis of Montrose with the delegates from Edinburgh, he and the other prisoners there were restored to liberty.

      On the accession of Charles II., the king renewed to him the offer of the peerage which had been made to his father, but he declined accepting it, unless the patent bore the date of the one formerly granted. The great reduction which his fortune and estates had undergone, it seems probable, was the principal cause of his refusal to accept of it. About twenty years afterwards, the king, in granting a charter, containing a novodamus of Drum’s whole estates holding of the crown, took occasion to express in it the deep sense which he had of the family’s loyalty and their services and sufferings in the royal cause. He died in 1687, and was buried in Drum’s aisle, in the parish church of St. Nicholas, Aberdeen, his funeral being attended by the magistrates and citizens under arms. By his first wife he had a son, Alexander, and four daughters. Jean, the third daughter, married Alexander Irvine of Murthill, eventually of Drum. By a second wife, he had one daughter. In the year he died, he executed a nomination of heirs of entail, failing heirs male of his own body, to the Irvines of Murthill, Artamford, and Cults, and their heirs male, in their order.

      His eldest son, Alexander Irvine of Drum, died in 1696, without issue. In him failed the male line of the family in direct descent. Alexander Irvine of Murthill, his son-in-law, then, in consequence of the entail, became 13th laird of Drum. He sold Murthill, and also the lands of Strachan in Kincardineshire, belonging to the Drum family, which had not been included in the entail. On his death in 1720, he was succeeded by his son, Alexander, who, after his accession, became insane. The latter died in 1735, unmarried, when his uncle and tutor, John Irvine, became fifteenth laird of Drum. In 1737, the entail was broken, and the greater part of the estate sold. He died the same year, without issue, when the succession devolved on Alexander Irvine of Crimond, great-grandson of John Irvine of Artamford. In 1744 he became likewise heir of line to the entailer by the death of Irvine of Saphock without male issue. His son, Alexander Irvine of Drum and Crimond, had three sons and three daughters. He died in 1761. His eldest son, Alexander, was the 19th laird of Drum, and 14th in descent, being both the heir of line and the heir of entail. Charles, the second son, was a major-general in the army. Alexander married, 31st December 1775, Jean, only daughter of Hugh Forbes, Esq. of Schivas, Aberdeenshire, and had four sons and a daughter. Alexander, the eldest son, passed advocate in 1802, succeeded his father in 1844, was appointed a deputy-lieutenant of Aberdeenshire in 1808; married, in 1816, the daughter of James Hamilton, Esq., with issue.


IRVINE, viscount of, a title, with that of Baron Ingram, in the Scottish peerage, conferred, 23d May 1631, on Henry, eldest surviving son of Sir Arthur Ingram of Temple Newsom, Yorkshire, an English family who had no property in, or any other connexion with, Scotland. Charles, the ninth and last Viscount Irvine, was chosen one of the sixteen Scots representative peers at the general election in 1768, and re-elected in 1774. He died 27th June 1778, without male issue, when the title became extinct.

IRVINE, CHRISTOPHER, M.D., an eminent antiquarian, son of Christopher Irvine of Robgill and Annan, of the family of Irvine of Bonshaw, and brother of Sir Gerard Irvine, baronet of Castle Irvine, Ireland, lived in the 17th century. While attending the college at Edinburgh he was, about 1639, dismissed the university for resisting the national covenant. Having been involved in the Irish troubles, he was deprived of his estate, and was compelled, for a livelihood, to become a schoolmaster, first at Leith, and subsequently at Preston. He had originally studied for the medical profession, and afterwards practised as a surgeon and physician in Edinburgh. Some time after 1650 he was appointed a surgeon in the army of General Monk. In that year he published a small volume, called ‘Ballum Grammaticale,’ which is now very scarce. In 1656 appeared a curious treatise by him on animal magnetism, entitled ‘Medicina magnetica; or the rare and wonderful Art of Curing by Sympathy, laid upon in Aphorisms, proved in Conclusions, and digested into an easy method drawn from both;’ dedicated to General Monk. His principal work, the ‘Historiae Scoticae Nomenclatura Latino-Vernacula,’ being an explanatory Dictionary of the proper names used in Scottish History, was published at Edinburgh in 1682, and reprinted in 1819. He held the appointment of state physician, and historiographer to Charles II. An act of the Scots Estates was passed, in 1685, granting to him the right to practise as a physician in Edinburgh, independent of the college of physicians, then recently incorporated. The date of his death is unknown.

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