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Summer at the Lake of Monteith
The Forresters of Arngibbon

The estate of Arngibbon is pleasantly situated near the village of Arnprior, and adjoins the property of Garden. The mansion-house is built on a commanding eminence, having a sweeping view of the vale of Monteith, the eastern portion of the Lennox, with the whole range of the Grampian hills beyond. The present beautiful house was built and the grounds laid out by the esteemed proprietor, which reflects the highest credit on his taste and intelligence. The name of Forrester is of great antiquity, and the family is one of the very oldest, in a direct line, in the county of Stirling. The name is derived from the office of “forester” or “keeper” of the king’s forests. The present Mr. Forrester of Arn-gibbon is descended, in a direct line, from the ancient proprietors of Garden of that name.

Previous to the year 1490, Garden appears to have been crown lands; for, in 1495, Sir Duncan Forrester, who would appear to have been the first laird of Garden of that name, had charters of the lands of Garden, Skipness, Torwood, Torwoodhead, &c.; and was also comptroller of the King’s household, and had the office of keeper of the forest of Torwood. About the year 1613, Sir Andrew Forrester sold his estate of Garden to Stirling of Keir, but appears to have retained the estate of Arngibbon.

At a very early period, and for a very long time, the Menzies were proprietors of the greater part of the parishes of Kippen and Killearn; and during the reign of James IV. one of that name held the ancient estate of Arnprior. Menzies was an old man without heirs, and had long lived at enmity with Forrester of Garden. The latter being the more powerful of the two continued to overawe his neighbour, and at last brought matters to a crisis by ordering Menzies either to leave his estate voluntarily to him, or he would come and drive him from it by force. Menzies not being able to cope with Garden, but at the same time very unwilling to leave his estate to his mortal enemy, wrote Buchanan of Auchmar that if he would protect him from Garden he would leave the estate to one of his sons. Buchanan readily accepted the offer, and so far undervalued Garden that he sent his second son, then only an infant, with his nurse to Arnprior.

Forrester, hearing of the “young heir,” instantly went to Arnprior house, and demanded that he should be at once sent back, otherwise he should kill the child and burn the house about his ears. The nurse, however, being of a bold determined nature, brandished her fist in Forrester’s face, exclaiming—“Touch but one hair of the child’s head, and you bring the vengence of Auchmar upon you; to-morrow, you shall be hanging on your own gibbet, and your estate be a ruin!” This bold speech on the part of the nurse was a complete damper to Forrester, who well knew he could not cope with the then powerful house of Auchmar, and he ceased to molest his neighbour. This same infant in after life became the renowned “King of Kippen,” as the following incident will show:—

During the reign of King James V. carriers were frequently-passing along the road, from the western portions of the county, to Stirling, with goods for the King’s use, the county road leading past the entrance to Buchanan’s house. On one occasion Buchanan ordered the carrier to leave part of the load for his use, and he should be paid for it; but the carrier refusing, Buchanan instantly compelled him to give up what he wanted, telling the bewildered carrier that, if his master was “King of Scotland,” he was “King of Kippen,” and that it was reasonable he should share with his neighbour King.

This matter afterwards coming to the ears of James, he resolved on paying Arnprior a visit. On his arrival Buchanan was at dinner, and his Majesty was denied access by a tall fellow, who brandished a battle-axe, and told the king there could be no admittance till dinner was over; but this answer not being satisfactory, the King, sent to demand admittance a second time, upon which he was desired by the porter to desist, otherwise he should have cause to repent of his rudeness.

James, finding this method not suitable, desired the porter to tell his master that the “Guid man o’ Ballangeich” desired to speak with the “King of Kippen.” Buchanan hearing this, instantly received his Majesty, entertained him sumptuously; and made himself so agreeable, that he was allowed to take whatever he wanted for his own use out of the King’s carts, and desired to visit his Majesty at Stirling, which he did, and continued afterwards in great favour.

This Buchanan of Arnprior was also proprietor of the estate of Gartartan, and had charters from the Commen-dator of Inchmahome of the lands of Hornhaugh; he was also laird of Brachern. After he had got possession of Brachern, it was violently seized by Captain M£Tormad, chief of a company of outlaws, who took possession and plundered the property.

Buchanan, getting notice that M‘Tormad and his associates were drinking in a tavern at Chapelarroch, near Gartmore, and were likely to spend the night there, selected a number of his men mounted on horseback, and arrived at Chapelarroch during the night. On Buchanan’s arrival, he found the outlaws overcome with drink and sleep, and making fast the doors, he set fire to the house, when their chief and his followers, twenty-four in number, were either burned or slain. This brave man, the first of the “Kings of Kippen,” was killed at the disastrous battle of Pinkie.*

The estate of Arngibbon is situated in the county of Perth, but the family has always been reckoned as of Stirlingshire.

* Historical Essay upon the Family and Surname of Buchanan, by Buchanan of Auchmar.

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