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Lairds and Lands of Loch Tayside

THE thirty-merk land of Fearnan extends from the west march of the Port of Loch Tay to Allt Paderleigh, on the west. It also includes the lands of Kinghallin, formerly known as Kinnyhallens of Fearnan, lying on the north side of Drummond Hill. The eastern march of Fearnan, however, it may be said, was not properly defined, there being a stretch of debatable ground with the lands of Port Loch Tay, running from the loch side to the top of Drummond Hill.

The lands of Fearnan were for long the property of the Robertsons of Strowan. In 1451, Robert Robertson, the then laird of Strowan, received from James II. a charter erecting his whole lands into a free Barony, in reward for the assistance rendered by him in the capture of the murderers of James I. The lands of Fearnan were included in the grant.

Alexander Robertson, of Strowan, born in 1668, known both as a soldier and a poet, was attainted for his attachment to the Jacobite cause, and his estates were forfeited and annexed to the Crown, by sentence of Parliament, in 1690. He fled to France, to the court of the exiled King James, but a remission in his favour being granted, he returned to Scotland. Nothing daunted, he was out in the Rebellion of ’15, with 800 of his clan, and at Sheriffmuir was taken prisoner, but escaped. He was prevented taking active part in the ’45, through the infirmities of old age, but his clan again took the field on the Jacobite side. His death took place at Carie, in Rannoch, on the 18th April, 1749, when the direct male line of the house became extinct.1

The Campbells of Glenorchy held tacks of the teinds of Fearnan for a considerable time. Sir Colin Campbell was tacksman in 1629. The lands were divided into the following possessions:—The five-merk land of Kinnyhallen, the five-merk land of Stronfearnan and Margcroy, the three-merk land of Croftnallin, the five-merk land of Boreland, the two-merk land of Corriecherrow, the three-merk land of Schanlarach, or Balnairn, the two-merk land of Ballemenach, the three-merk land of Tomintyvoir, and the two-merk land of Lagfern. These lands were, in 1767, disposed by Act of Parliament to John, third Earl of Breadalbane, by the Commissioners of the annexed estates in excambion for part of the lands of Pitkellony.

The old village of Stronfearnan, demolished many years ago, encircled the present burying ground, which is known as Cladh-na-Sroine, and wherein lie the remains of many of the names of Macgregor and Robertson. At the commencement of this century over a score of families occupied the lands to the

*The following characteristic letter from this laird to the Rev. John Hamilton, minister of Kenmore, is found in the Kirk Session Records of that parish. The Fearnan tenants had entered a complaint that the space in the church alloted to them was taken up by others, and that they were compelled to stand during divine service. Mr. Hamilton, it may be mentioned, was a strict Hanoverian. The letter is dated 2nd December, 1730.


Since my tenants, I do not know by what Inspiration, are willing to hear a person of your persuasion, I hope you will not see them dispossessed. Their seats in the Kirk are well known, pray Let them sit easy and have Elbow room, Least a dispossession may Cause a Rupture amongst you, not for the Honour and Interest of that Unity, wc ought to be visited in the People of God. You, who are a kind of Exorcist, cast out the Spirit of oppression, hatred, and malice, from amongst us, That every Man may possess his Paternal Inheritance from The Throne In Westminster Abbay to the Cobler’s sate in the Kirk of Kenmore. In doing this you will be Rever’d by Sr,

Your most hmble servt.,


West of the burn at Taynloan, and of these ten were Macgregors. Several of the same name also held crofts at Stronfearnan. There were formerly an ale-house at Taynloan, a meal mill at Croftnallin,1 and a smithy at Balnearn ; and a ferry boat plied from Stronfearnan to the south side of Loch Tay. Before the western end of Drummond Hill was planted, the land sloping from the road to the Loch at Letterellan was under cultivation, and was called Croit-na-cullich, while further up the hill was Margcroy.

There was an old church at Fearnan, with which the name of St. Ciaran is associated. The site of it—on the farm of Boreland —may yet be discerned by the difference in colour of the land after it has been newly tilled. The font which belonged to the church is still preserved.

At Lagfearn, there is a rough stone slab, about 3 feet in height, bearing on the side a rudely cut cross. Here, according to tradition, markets were at one time held.

Before the servitude of thirlage was done away with, almost every separate property had its own mill, to which the tenants were thirled. There were fourteen such mills on Loch Tayside. Besides the usual multures, the tenants had to pay to the miller, sequels or small dues, called Bannock, Lock, or Knaveship, and they also had to perform certain services, such as bringing home the mill-stones, and cleaning and repairing the water courses. The lands thirled were called the Sucken, and the multures derived from these were termed the Insucken or In-town multures, in contradistinction to the Out-town multures payable by those outside the thirled lands who had their corn ground at the mill. In Breadalbane, before the rents were commuted to money, the miller usually paid to the proprietor a certain number of bolls of “gude and sufficient meill, betwixt Yule and Candlemes zierlie,” with the addition, perhaps, of a dozen capons, and a well-fed “two zeir auld Boar at Pasche.” Mills were considered such valuable property, that in 1587 an Act was passed during the eleventh Parliament of James VI., whereby, among others, “breakers of milnes sail be called theirfore before the Justice or his deputes, at Justiceaires or particular diettes, and punished therefore to the death, as thieves.”

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