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Amelia Volume 2 chapter 1

MacGregors in Braemar

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THE first volume having ended with the death of King James VI. of Scotland and I. of England, in 1625, attention has now to be directed to some families of the Clan Gregor who settled in Braemar and to other transactions in the north, the narration of which was postponed to avoid inteference with the more important history of the persecutions of the Clan which followed the conflict of Glenfruin.

The following account of the families said to have settled in Braemar as early as 1403 as copied from an old MS. found amongst the papers of Sir John Macgregor Murray, probably written about 1760. It is impossible to vouch for its accuracy, but the story is very characteristic of the period to which it refers, and allowance must be made for a strong bias against the Clan Farquharson who appear to have been the immediate successors of the MacGregors of Inverenzie and of Clunie.

The “Baronage” states that the third son of Gregor Mor XIV. Was

“Malcolm, a man of great prudence and valour, famous for his dexterity in all manly excerises and in great esteem with Alexander Earl of Mar, at whose request he raised his patrimony from his brother, and acquired the lands of Inverey with several others in Braemar, where he settled. He married a daughter of Dougal Lamont of Stiolaig, by a daughter of the family of Bute, by whom he had several children, the eldest of whom acquired the lands of Cherry, Killach, Dalcherry Balachby (Ballochbuie), &c.” [1]  

This passage is founded on the MS., now given in full, which a note in the “Baronage” states to have been written by “John Gregory” of whom there is no further information.

“Definition of that part of the Clan of McGrigor that has resided in Marr since the year 1403.

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“The first of the Clan that resided there was a Brother of the Laird of Bracklach's Ofspring who by the instigation of Alexander Stewart Earl of Marr raised his portion from his father, wherewith he bought and possessed that part of Bremarr called Little Inverey where he lived in great harmony with…. Stewart Earl of Marr. This man was the most famous Stalker and Deer Killer in his age and dexterous at all manner of hunting for which reason the Earl of Marr was never happy but when the Laird of Inverey was with him. This man married a daughter of the Laird of Lamonds, viz. Dugal Lamond, [2]   who at that time had a considerable portion which her husband Inverey took care to preserve untill his and her eldest son Alexander should be provided for, and with it and some money in a present from the Earl of Marr, bought the Cluny and Kilach, Dalchork and Balachby, i.e. Balachbuidh, four of the best Towns in Bremarr to this day, and in which this Alexander when capable of managing was put in possession. Husbandry at that time having come no length in that highland country, and the Earl of Marr desirous to have the country improved, and always promising premiums to the best Improvers. And in his paying a visit at Kildrimmy where Alexander MacGrigor of Cluny was along with him. In taking a turn round Kildrimmy Cluny to his surprise seed them burning Lime and therewith dunging their land of which he took pretty good notice and with himself thought to try the experiment on his own Estate and soon after he came home made it his business to find out lime stone which he burnt and laid on a part of his land though laughed at by his neighbours, and to his inexpressible joy and to the astonishment of the whole country people had an extraordinary croft on his limed ground. Now finding his proof herein, made it his business to get as much lime for his land as possible, and recommended the same to his Father, who was as diligent in procuring lime for his land, and in process of time finding their cropts turning out to so good account, they obliged their Tenents to lime so much of their ground yearly. And from their dealing so much in lime, the country people called them Gregorich an Act, the `Lime McGrigors' which name they bear to this day in that country.

“In this situation they went on prosperously for a number of years and were the most respected gentlemen in that country from their gallantry and bravery in managing with great success every honourable Dispute near unto them, and now being turned something numerous were the only people the Earl of Marr could trust anything to, and for their honesty and probity made them a reward by giving them as a present that land in Bremar commonly called which afterwards fell into the Lamonds by intermarriages. Much about this time [page 3} the Stewarts…………... the Earldom of Marr and were succeeded by …………... who also lived in great friendship and harmony with the Lairds of Little Inverey and Cluny and the rest of the Gentlemen their friends who were very numerous and had the most part of the country in their own hands, some by Wadset and some by Tack. About this time and after repeated visits of their friends in where the Laird of Brachlach lived, some more of their friends, of the family of Roro, came from the Highlands and settled in the next neighbouring country commonly called Glengairn, and there bought a very snug estate, called Inverenzie, which they and their ofspring have had in possession till very few years ago. Soon after their being in possession of Inverenzie, and being happy and in good friendship with the whole of their neighbours in the country, particularly the Lairds of the name of Keir in that country, who till very late maintained a part of their grounds there, and a few of the remains of that name to that day is there and thereabouts, the Laird of Inverenzie bought that part of the lands of Tullich commonly called Ballater and Kyle bhore Bhalatar, being interpreted as Ballater and Kirktoun of Ballater and Cobletoun of Tullich, to which there belongs a ferryboat at this time which made a pretty good addition to his Estate of Inverenzie by which name they always went. The Lairds of Inverenzie were in opulent circumstances until at last when one of them Callum Ogg i.e. young Mallcom, then Laird and one of the most valiant men in his day by misfortune was inveigled in a process of Law before the Court of Session in Edinburgh in defence of which process he almost spent his all, so high was the spirit of this brave man. After being told by his Advocates that he would inevitably lose his process, though they behove to own it was just, unless he would sell some part of his estate in order to maintain the cause, so much perplexed was he that lie did not know how to behave in those straitened circumstances, but upon retiring to his room in Edinburgh, and after some space of time’s musing he betook himself to his pair of Trumps and there was taking a tune to himself by way of recreation. The Lawyers now finding as they thought Inverenzie would be obliged to sell his estate or at least a good part of it, they would go and advise him to advertise the same. But upon going to his lodgings and after asking if he was in at his Landlady who told lie was, they desired to let him know there was some Gentlemen was to see him, who he desired might be brought in to his room. Upon their approaching the room they were confounded to see him in such top spirits as he seemed to be, however so dexterous was he at that kind of musick that the Lawyers insisted on his playing on, and after a handsome treat no doubt and some hours play they left him without ever advising to dispose of any part of his estate, and next day, or a few days after upon considering the high spirits of such a brave man gained his plea.

“But to return again to the Lairds of Little Inverey and Cluny who were [page 4} always on very good terms with the Honourable Erskines then Earls of Marr, these gentlemen were the most thriving in all the country and behoved to be so from unwearied diligence in cultivating and improving their grounds both possessed by themselves and their Tennents. In this manner they lived for a great number of years. Untill at last, their own industry began to be their cut-throat. Both them and the country began to be inveighed and courted by severalls, particularly by some of the Glyd Farquhar’s people who but a very short tine before hade come to that country in order to screen himself for, some action in his own country. And no wonder though he took shelter here, this country [3]   at that time perhaps was one of the best highland countries then inhahited, and from the extensiveness of its woods was fit to screen thousands, though at first there was only the same Farquhar Cam i.e. Glyd Farquhar. He finding the hospitality of the McGrigors to exceed, made his abode in a cottage near the edge of the wood and earned a part of his bread by cutting and gathering what is called in that country wands or wodies. This he made and twined and currently carried on his back to the Low Country and sold for meal. This Farquhar finding no disturbance from his own country began to weary of a solitary life and betook himself to a wife, which at last lie procured after having got some kind of cottage to put her in, from the Laird of Little Inverey. However in process of time Farquhar had a numerous family mostly of sons and having little to support them they were obliged when able to make themselves acquainted with their Highland friends who at this time were famerous Katrine, Cutheran, or cow stealers or raisers of herships so called from the number so lifted and drove of at one time. It was Farquhar’s sons business, and in which they were always employed to look out and let their friends the Katrines know where the best cattle was to be found, which they did very distinctly without any suspicion for a number of years, but at last being found out by some of the Ogilvies of Angus, to whom they had done great damage, Ogilvy made a complaint to Inverey, and gave him to know the certainty of the Farquhar’s behaviour, who by this time were pretty numerous in the country and by their fraudulent dealings some of them had become very rich, which made the whole people of the country believe the facts Ogilvy had informed Inverey of. However to put a stop to such villainy Inverey with the assistance of his friend the Laird of Cluny used their utmost endeavours to banish them off the country or at least that part where they had any concern in. And at the same time they were busy in contriving how to put their schemes in execution against them the Farquhars who by this time were a numerous strong party and dangerous to meddle with, but in a most cautious way; they having got some private notice of what was plotting against [page 5} them sent immediately to their friends the Katrine and ordered a party immediatcly to their assistance which orders were as soon obeyed as seen, and in a short time came to Breamar on the night and having called on some of the Farquhars, that they might lay their plot how to behave in so critical a time, which was already laid and contrived against McGrigor of Inverey and nothing wanting but to put the same in execution. And it was thus that the Katrine should take one of Farquhar’s best cows out of his fold, and kill her and bury her in McGrigor’s peat stack which they very soon accomplished, and before daylight, darnd (hid) themselves so as not to be seen or known of. Next morning Farquhar had one of his best cows stolen to which he behoved to have a dacre or search of the whole country and in course came to the Laird’s where the dacres found the cow in his peat stack, whereupon Inverey being immediately apprehended and ordered to be carried to Aberdeen. Upon seeing this the whole of his friends turned their backs upon him. Notwithstanding his absolute refusal of his knowing any thing of the cows being stolen, or of her being put in to his stack, he was carried off for Aberdeen, where by all probability he would have suffered his life. But luckily if it may be so called, some one or two of the Katrine party having seen the usage took some remorse and followed the party who had Inverey prisoner, the length of Miln of Dinaty where he called for Farquhar and desired he should make it up and relieve Inverey otherwise he would reveal the whole affair and cause Farquhar be made the prisoner. Farquhar who was a very cunning fellow seeing his schemes very likely to he frustrated after having laid out to Inverey the dismal situation he was in, and the danger of his being brought to publick shame, told if he would renounce his all to him, he would set him at liberty, which he at first agreed to, [4]   providing he would allow him a certain sum for his support for life which he as readily agreed to, upon which he, McGrigor of Inverey was set at liberty and all returned home, when Farquliar immediately took possession of Little Inverey with which he and his offspring has continued till this day.

“This Farquhar had another brother, who carried off the only daughter and heiress of Stewart of Aberarder and Invercauld, and in the wilds of Glencaulich, she bore the first heir of the name of Farquhar to Invercauld, at that time a very little possession in that country, so dexterous were these fellows in cunning that very soon thereafter they came to have the whole rule of the country and had got a good deal of it in their possession, especially the McGrigor’s share, excepting the estate of Cluny which Wasall was maintained in spite of all their art, untill about the year 1500 or 1520 at which time the King cause duly to Kincarden O’Neall and renewed heritors Charters yearly, when and where they were [page 6} obliged to attend or give a lawful reason. One of which times it happened through a great fall of rain that the river Dee and the burn of Garrowalt were both so big that the Laird of Cluny could not pass either, in any place, and was obliged to send his Charter along with Invercauld and beg he would excuse at his King’s hand, who readily agreeing thereto, and promising to do with his Charter as he did with his own providing he had them, and in order to give him them, they both went to the narrowest place of the water Dee, where Cluny tied the Charters round a stone and threw them to the other side of the river to Invercauld, who was as good as his word, by getting both them and his own renewed in his own name.”

[1] See Vol I, page 46 pp.35-6 chapter 5

[2] A marginal note without reference sign states – “Of Stiolag who married a daughter of the Earl of Bute, by whom he had 5 daughters, one of which Alexander MacGregor, Laird Inverey married.” pp.35-6

[3] Marginal Note – Commonly called Strathspey wherein he lived near Rothiemurchus in town called Kaanpheole, and went by the name of Muigan a Squiim, and to this day his offspring bear the name of Shielle Muigna a Sequim. pp.35-6

[4] This Laird does not appear to have been as spirited as his predecessors who played the pipes. pp.35-6