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OGILVY, a surname derived from a barony in the parish of Glammis, Forfarshire, which, about 1163, was bestowed by William the Lion on Gilbert, ancestor of the noble family of Airlie, and, in consequence, he assumed the name of Ogilvy, (see AIRLIE, earl of). He was the third son of Gillibrede, maormor of Angus, or, as some say, of Gilchrist (Gille Chriosda, the servant of Christ), maormor of Angus. In the charters of the second and third Alexanders there are witnesses of the name of Ogilvy. Sir Patrick de Ogilvy adhered steadily to Robert the Bruce, who bestowed upon him the lands of Kettins in Forfarshire. The barony of Cortachy was acquired by the family in 1369-70. For notices of this family, see AIRLIE. The “gracious gude Lord Ogilvy,” as he is styled in the old ballad of the Battle of Harlaw, in which battle the principal barons of Forfarshire fought on the side of the earl of Mar, who commanded the royal army, was the son of Sir Walter Ogilvy of Auchterhouse, slain in a clan battle with the Robertsons in 1394.

“Of the best amang them was
The gracious gude Lord Ogilvy,
The sheriff-principal of Angus,
Renownit for truth and equity –
For faith and magnanimity
He had few fellows in the field,
Yet fell by fatal destiny,
For he nae ways wad grant to yield.”

His eldest son, George Ogilvy, was also slain.


OGILVY, Lord, the first title of the Airlie family, conferred by James IV., in 1491, on Sir John Ogilvy of Lintrathen. The sixth Lord Ogilvy of Airlie was dangerously wounded in an encounter on the High street of Edinburgh, with Sir John Gordon, third son of the earl of Huntly, on 27th June 1562. For his faithful adherence to Queen Mary, Lord Ogilvy suffered a long imprisonment. In 1596 he was ambassador from King James VI. To the Danish King, Christian IV.

The title of Lord Ogilvy of Deskford was conferred, 4th October 1616, on Sir Walter Ogilvy of Deskford and Findlater, whose son, James, second Lord Deskford, was created earl of Findlater, 20th February 1638. He was descended from Sir Walter Ogilvy of Auchleven, second son of Sir Walter Ogilvy of Lintrathen, high treasurer of Scotland.


The Clan Ogilvy are called “the Siol Gilchrist,” the race or posterity of Gilchrist. In 1526, the Macintoshes invaded the country of the Ogilvies, and massacred no fewer than 24 gentlemen of the name. A feud between the Campbells and the Ogilvies subsisted for several centuries. In Pitcairn’s Criminal Trials we find James Ogilvy complaining, on 21st October, 1591, that a body of Argyle’s men had attacked him when residing peaceably in Glenisla, in Forfarshire, which anciently belonged to the Ogilvies, killed several of his people, ravaged the country, and compelled him and his lady to flee for their lives. When, in 1640, the marquis of Argyle, in the absence of the earl of Airlie, who had gone to England, to avoid subscribing the Covenants, destroyed the castles of Airlie and Forthour, he is said to have treated the Lady Ogilvy, who then resided in the latter, with great cruelty, refusing to let her remain, to be confined, she being then in a state of pregnancy, or to permit her grandmother, his own kinswoman, Lady Drimmie, to admit her into her house of Kelly. The house of Craig, in Glenisla, belonging to Sir John Ogilvy of Craig, cousin of the earl of Airlie, was also destroyed by his orders. He had sent Sergeant Campbell, one of his clan, to Craig, with directions to demolish it, but on his arrival there the sergeant found only a sick gentlewoman and some servants in the house, and having more humanity than his chief, he returned to the marquis and reported that it was a place of no strength, and not worth demolishing. Argyle, in a rage, told him it was his duty to obey the orders given to him, and commanded him to go back and deface and spoil the house, which he did. The Ogilvies had their revenge in 1645, for the burning of “the bonnie house of Airlie,” and the other strongholds of the Ogilvies, when Castle Campbell, near Dollar, or the Castle of Gloom, its original name, was destroyed by them and the Macleans, and the territory of the marquis of Argyle was overrun by the fierce and ruthless clans that followed Montrose, and carried fire and sword throughout the whole estates of the clan Campbell.


The family of Inverquharity are descended from Sir John Ogilvy, third son of Walter Ogilvy of Auchterhouse, above mentioned. From his elder brother, Sir Walter Ogilvy, he obtained the lands of Inverquharity in Forfarshire, by charter dated 3d June 1420. Under Alexander Ogilvy of Inverquharity, a sanguinary battle took place between the clan Ogilvy and the Lindsays, at Arbroath, on 13th January 1445-6, when 500 of the Ogilvies were slain. Alexander Ogilvy himself, severely wounded, was taken prisoner, and died, soon after, in the castle of Finhaven, to which he had been removed. For the details, and the cause of the feud between these powerful families.

Sir John Ogilvy of Inverquharity was created a baronet of Nova Scotia, 26th September 1625, with remainder to his heirs male generally. The family, like the whole clan Ogilvy, were distinguished by their unflinching attachment to the cause of Charles I. and the house of Stuart, and Sir John’s second son, Alexander, a youth of extraordinary promise, was taken prisoner at Philiphaugh, fighting under Montrose, and executed at Glasgow in 1646.

Sir John’s eldest son, Sir David, second baronet, married in 1662, Margaret, daughter of Sir John Erskine of Dun, and had four sons and three daughters. Captain Ogilvy, a son of Sir David, was with King James at the battle of the Boyne, and is said to have been the author of the Jacobite song,

“It was a’ for our rightful king
We left fair Scotland’s strand.’

He was one of the hundred gentlemen who volunteered to attend their royal master in exile, and fell in an engagement on the Rhine.

Sir David’s eldest son, Sir John, third baronet, was succeeded by his eldest son, Sir John, fourth baronet, who was twice married; 1st in 1720, to Helen, daughter of Sir Lawrence Mercer of Aldie; and, 2dly, to Anne, daughter of James Carnegy, Esq. of Finhaven, and had issue by both marriages. His eldest son, Sir John, fifth baronet, married in 1774, Charlotte, daughter of Dr. Walter Tulliedelph of Tulliedelph, Forfarshire, and died in 1802. Sir John’s eldest son, Sir William, 6th baronet, and his 2d son, Sir John, 7th baronet, both died unmarried, when the 3d son, Sir William, became 8th baronet, an admiral in the royal navy, who died in 1823, leaving 8 sons and 1 daughter. Sir John, 9th baronet, the eldest son, born at Edinburgh, March 17, 1803, and educated at Christ Church, Oxford, was an officer in the guards; twice married, with issue, by the first marriage a son and daughter, and by the 2d, 2 sons and 4 daughters.


The family of Ogilvy of Carnousie, Banffshire, possess a baronetcy, conferred in 1626. Its representative, Sir William Ogilvie of Boyne, born in 1810, succeeded his father, Sir William Ogilvie of Carnousie, in 1824. He was educated at Westminster, and the Military college, Edinburgh, and was at one time in the army. He married in 1838, Augusta Porter, youngest daughter of James Grange, Esq., formerly of Her Majesty’s Treasury. He claimed the dormant titles of Baron Banff and Earl of Findlater, in the peerage of Scotland. He died at Christchurch, New Zealand, Feb. 20, 1861.


The family of Ogilvy of Barras, Kincardineshire, also possessed a baronetcy, conferred in 1661. The first baronet was Sir George Ogilvy, lieutenant-governor of the castle of Dunnottar, in Cromwell’s time, he being so created for his exertions in the preservation of the regality of Scotland during the siege, in 1652, of that celebrated stronghold by the English parliamentary forces under General Lambert. Ogilvy did not surrender till the siege had been converted into a blockade, when he was reduced by famine and a consequent mutiny in the garrison. He had previously, however, removed the regalia, by a stratagem, on account of which he was long imprisoned in England, (see KINTORE, earl of). In 1660 the regalia was by him presented to Charles II., and for this good service, with his long imprisonment and loss of property, he received no farther reward than the title of a baronet of Nova Scotia and a new coat of arms. The family of Barras had in their possession a receipt granted by the earl Marischal on the delivery of the regalia. Sir William Ogilvy of Barras, the 7th baronet, succeeded his father in 1837.

OGILVIE, JOHN, D.D., a poet of considerable genius, was the son of the Rev. Mr. Ogilvie, one of the ministers of Aberdeen, where he was born, about 1733. He was educated at the Marischal college, which afterwards honoured him with the degree of doctor in divinity. Having been duly licensed for the Church, he was appointed, in 1759, minister of Midmar, Aberdeenshire, where he continued till his death, in 1814. His life was devoted to literary pursuits, and the faithful discharge of his pastoral duties; and his personal history was only varied by the publication of his numerous works, and an occasional visit to London, where he became acquainted with Dr. Johnson, by whom he was much esteemed. He was a fellow of the Royal Society, Edinburgh. Scarcely one of Dr. Ogilvie’s works is known to the general reader, even by name, at the present day. “The truth is,” says the writer of his memoir, in the Lives of Eminent Scotsmen, “Ogilvie, with powers far above the common order, did not know how to use them with effect. He was an able man lost. His intellectual wealth and industry were wasted in huge and unhappy speculations. Of all his books, there is not one which, as a whole, can be expected to please the general reader. Noble sentiments, brilliant conceptions, and poetic graces, may be culled in profusion from the mass; but there is no one production in which they so predominate, if we except some of his minor pieces, as to induce it to be selected for a happier fate than the rest. Had the same talent which Ogilvie threw away on a number of objects been concentrated on one, and that one chosen with judgment and taste, he might have rivaled in popularity the most renowned of his contemporaries.”

His works are:

The Day of Judgment; a Poem. Edin. 1759, 4to.
Poems on several subjects; to which is prefixed, an Essay on the Lyric Poetry of the Ancients. In two Letters. London, 1762, 4to.
Providence; an Allegorical Poem, in 3 books. London, 1764, 4to.
Solitude; or, the Elysium of the Poets; a Vision; to which is subjoined, an Elegy. 1766, 4to.
Six Sermons on several subjects. Lond. 1767, 8vo.
Philosophical and Critical Observations on the Nature, Characters, and various species of Compositions. London, 1774, 2 vols. 8vo.
Rona; a Poem, in seven books. Illustrated with a correct map of the Hebrides, and elegant engravings. London, 1777, 4to.
Inquiry into the Causes of Infidelity and Scepticism of the Times; with occasional Observations on the Writings of Herbert, Shaftesbury, Bolingbroke, Hume, Gibbon, Toulmin, &c. Lond. 1783, 8vo.
The Theology of Plato compared with the Principles of Oriental and Grecian Philosophers. 1793, 8vo.
Britannia; a National Epic Poem, in 20 books; to which is prefixed, a Critical Dissertation on Epic Machinery. Aberdeen, 1801, 4to.
An Examination of the Evidence from Prophecy, in behalf of the Christian Religion; a Sermon. 1803, 8vo.

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