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Lairds and Lands of Loch Tayside

IMMEDIATELY to the west of Kiltyrie is the thirty-merk land of Morenish. This property appears to have been held by the old Earls of Fife at an early period, and is said to have been granted by Duncan, the twelfth Earl, to an ancestor of the family of Menzies of that Ilk, towards the middle of the fourteenth century. From the Rent alia Doming Regis for 1480—the oldest Crown rental extant—it is evident, however, that the Menzieses did not then hold the whole of Morenish, for we find in that year the Crown Commissioners letting “ Monornych ” to three tenants on a lease of three years, to date from the expiry of their current lease, which had two years to run. The total rent derived from these was ten merks :—Donald M‘Gillane, 2 13s. 4d., Duncan M‘Carbre, 2 13s. 4d., and Mulikyn M‘Gillane, 1 6s. 8d. Of the remaining twenty-merk land no mention is made in the rental, so that we may conclude that was what the Menzieses then possessed. There was a sasine of “ Morinch ” in favour of John Menzies in 1465, but we have no guide as to the exact land embraced in it. In the Chronicle of Fothergill two deaths at Morenish are recorded :—“ 1503, September 10, death of Gregor, son of Duncanbeg,at Morinch;” “1522, death of Patrick, Duncanbeg, son in Morinche, in the month of October.” According to the Black Book of Taymouth, it would appear that the Menzies family eventually acquired the whole of Morenish, for we are told that Sir Duncan Campbell, seventh laird of Glenorchy, “conquessit the twentie-pund land of Morinche’ in 1602, from the then laird of Weem.

After the Campbells of Glenorchy came into Morenish, Edramucky was feued' out to one of their own name, whose family continued in possession down to the last century. The feu-right was apparently re-purchased, as they latterly held the subjects in wadset. In 1630, James Campbell was feuar of Edramucky. In 1637, John Campbell, designated of Edramucky (although a James appears again in 1643), anc* his son, Patrick, purchased, from Sir James Campbell, of Lawers, and his son, Mungo, the forty-shilling land of Easter Shian, under the reservation of the holding called Croftmacjock. Towards the end of that century, Duncan of Edramucky, and his son, Colin, got wadsets of Rynachulig and Blarliaragan, and Easter Ardchyle was acquired in a similar manner, by James, another son of Duncan. They also held Easter Kenknock, first in feu and afterwards in wadset. Colin, born 1692, had a son, Duncan, vwho married Anna Campbell, daughter of the Rev. Patrick Campbell, minister of Kenmore, and who continued in Edramucky and Easter Kenknock; and it was this Duncan who is believed to have murdered Sir James Campbell, of Lawers, at Greenock, on 22nd April, 1723. They had been drinking together the previous evening, and parted apparently in good friendship, intending to meet again on the morrow to cross over to Dumbarton, and proceed homeward. In the morning Lawers was discovered dead in bed with two bullet wounds in his head. Edramucky was nowhere to be found, and as it was ascertained that he had, a day or two before, purchased ammunition for a pistol, suspicion at once rested on him, and a warrant was issued for his apprehension.1 If he was ever captured, there is no account of him standing his trial. His family remained at Edramucky till about 1736, when Mrs. Campbell—or Lady Edramucky as she was called—removed to a holding in Easter Stix, which, prior to her entry had been tenanted by Duncan Campbell, brother of John Campbell, laird of Duneaves. Easter Stix then belonged to Menzies, of Culdares.

Morenish was divided into the following lands :—Edramucky, Rynachulig, Blarliaragan, Tomachrocher, Ballemore MacGrigor, and Ardmoyle, each being five-merk land. The last named was sub-divided into Marginluig and Margintuim of Ardmoyle, each one-merk land, and Ardmoyle proper, three-merk land. Blarliaragan and part of Tomachrocher are now known as the Morenish Crofts, and the lands to the west of these are comprised in one holding—the farm of Morenish—so that the old names of these places are almost obsolete. A walled enclosure at the southern end of Ardmoyle, close to the lochside, keeps sacred the district’s dead. It is called in Gaelic, Cladh Dabhi, and is also known as having, upon Monday morning, the 22nd April last, barbarously murdered James Campbell, of Lawers, while in bed and fast asleep at Greenock ; and whereas there is a warrant obtained from the Right Honourable the Lord Justice-Clerk, direct to all the Sheriffs, Stewarts of Stewartries, Baillies of Regalities, and their respective Deputes, Justices of the Peace, Magistrates of Burghs, Macers of the Court of Justiciary, all Constables and Messengers-at-Arms within Scotland, for searching, seizing, apprehending, detaining, and imprisoning the Person of the said Duncan Campbel, ay and while he be brought to Trial fore the foresaid crime, upon the Application of the Honourable Colonel James Campbel, of the Royal North-British Dragoons ; and for the further encouraging the apprehending of the Person of the said Duncan Campbel, the said Colonel James Campbel offers and promises a Premium of One Hundred Guineas, to be paid by him to any Person or Persons that shall apprehend the Person of the said Duncan Campbel, and imprison him within any sure Tolbooth, so as he may be brought to Justice for the foresaid Crime.

N.B.—The said Duncan Campbel, of Edramuckie, is a tall thin man, stoops or is loot shoulder’d, small pock pitted, with a pearl or blindness in the right Eye, betwixt 30 and 40 Years of Age. When he made his escape from Greenock, he had a suit of gray Duroy Cloaths, plain mounted, a big red Coat, with a thin light Wig, rolled up with a Ribban.

The Macdiarmid burying ground, from the fact that a large number of those interred there bore that name. There are two septs of the clan Macdiarmid on Loch Tayside—one called Rioghal or Royal, and the other Dubhbhusach or blackmouthed. Only members of the former, we believe, claim a right of burial at Cladh Dabhi. At one time there was a charity school at Tomachrocher. A lint mill was erected at Blarliaragan in 1790, near to the meal mill of the property. The latter is still in use.

At Edramucky there stood a castle. It was situated to the south of the present farm building, close to the burn of Edramucky, and within 200 yards of the loch. It has long since been razed to the ground, but its foundations can be distinctly traced at the present day. Of its history we have been unable to find any account. Some of the trees (mostly elm and sycamore) which adorned the policies and lined the avenues leading to the castle, are yet standing, and tend to show the good taste of the former inhabitants, as well as the importance of the place. A few plum trees are also to be seen flourishing. On the Ordnance Survey Map, the site of the castle is placed on the peninsula formed by the Edramucky and Morenish burns, while Rynachulig is represented as being on the west side of the latter burn— inaccuracies difficult to account for.

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