LAND OF THE LINDSAYS by ANDREW JERVISE F.S.A. - SECOND EDITION
PAGES 26 - 33
He is past, he is gone, like the blast of the wind,
And has left but the fame of his exploits behind;
And now wild is the sorrow and deep is the wail,
As it sweeps from Glenesk to the far Wauchopdale.
Bright star of the morning that beamed on the brow
Of our chief of ten thousand, O where art thou now?
The sword of our fathers is cankered with rust,
And the race of Clan Lindsay is bowed to the dust.
EARL CRAWFORD'S CORONACH.
Families of Adzell and Abbe - Knocquy Hill - De Glenesk family - De Strivelyn
Marriage of Sir Alexander Lindsay with Catherine Stirling - Story of Jackie
Stirling - Origin of the name and family of Lindsay - - -
The properties of Edzell and Glenesk have been joined together, as they are
at present, from the earliest record; and being both known by the common name of
‘Glenesk’, the surname of ‘de Glenesk’ was not only assumed by the most
ancient owners of these lands, but also gave title to many of their followers,
and now perhaps appears under the name Glennie. This may be the reason why the
former district, which ultimately assumed the more important position of the
two, is seldom mentioned in comparison with the latter.
It is not, however, to be inferred, although the ancient Lords of Glenesk had
their name from thence, that the family of Adzell also, that survived in the
lowland district till past middle of the fifteenth century, were lords of the
lands from which they assumed their cognomen. It was not an infrequent custom
for the vassal to take his surname from the lands that he held under some great
lord, as in the case of Rossy, of which the Norman family of Malherbe were lords
and granted charters to their vassal, Rossy of that ilk. In like manner the
Adzells who lived at Edzell were dependent on the lords of Glenesk - at least
they were so in the time of the Lindsays, and we have not found them mentioned as holding of the Crown.
the capacity alluded to, Johannes Adzell de codem is the last of
several of the Crawford vassals of Forfarshire, who witness the laird of Dun's
confirmation of the third part of the lands of Baluely (Balwyllo), which he
granted to Alexander, the Earl’s natural son. The latest, and only other
notice which we have met, is that of Richard in 1467, on whose resignation the
Earl of Crawford granted Edzell to his uncle, Sir Lindsay of Beaufort, who, as
will be shown in a subsequent page, was progenitor both of the present noble
house of Crawford and Balcarres.
There was, however another set of old residenters, who bore the odd name of
Abbe; one of these John the son of Malise, with consent of his son Morgund,
granted to the Abbots of Arbroath a right to cut and burn charcoal in their wood
of ‘Edale,’ so early as the year 1204. Little is known of the Abbes, and
some believe that they were merely hereditary lay Abbots. Although the name was
not peculiar to this district, it seems to have been rare; and whether assumed
from the office of Abbot or otherwise, the family were of considerable
importance in their time, for, contemporaneous with those of Edzell, a
Douenaldus Abbe de Brechin witnessed a charter by Bishop Turpin of Brechin in
1178-80, and also gifted the davoch of Balligilleground in Bolshan to the
Arbroath Monastery; and a Maurice Abbe, who lived in the time of Gilchrist, the
great Earl of Angus, is designed ‘de Abereloth,’ or Arbirlot.
There is also good ground for believing that the ancient lords de
Brechin had an interest in Glenesk, since, on the execution and
forfeiture of David de Brechin for his connection with the conspiracy of William
de Soulis against the life of The Bruce (King Robert, the Bruce), the lands of ‘Knocquy’ were among
those of Brechin's estates that were given by the King to his trusty friend Sir
David Barclay, the future lord of Brechin, and brother-in-law of the forfeited
noble. Knocquy, now known as Knocknoy, is in the immediate vicinity of Edzell
Castle, and represented by the large hillock beside the farm-yard of the Mains.
This had, ill all probability, been the moot-hill of old, or the site of the
baron's court, for, within these fifty years, a large rude stone lay at the foot
of it, which is said to have tumbled from the top, and had doubtless been the
"Stannin' Stane" that in the early ages was an indispensable object at
the site of justice.
But, though the names of the lords de Brechin live in the
imperishable page of the historian, those of the Adzells and Abbes are now, at
least to the general reader, as if they had never been known. Even the credulous
tongue if tradition is mute concerning them; and if their deeds had ever been
worthy of being preserved in the measured language of the rude minstrel, or
their names associated with the hills and dales of the land of their adoption -
sources not to be despised in the solution of historical and genealogical
difficulties - they have all been faithless to their charge; and but for the
slender records of the grateful monks, the connection of the Abbes with the
parish, and even their name, would have been lost for ever.
The most ancient proprietors hitherto spoken of in connection with Glenesk
were the family of Stirling; . . .
(A family of the name of Stirling were proprietors of Lauriston in the
Mearns, in 1243, as at that date Alexander de Strivelin gave to the Prior and
Canons of St. Andrews the Chapel of Laurenston, which was a dependency on the
church, of Ecclesgreig, and also bound himself and heirs to pay year1y a pound
of wax, according to the market price of Montrose.) . . .and
Nisbet says that the Johannes de Stryvelin, miles, who swore
fealty to Edward in 1296, was then lord of Glenesk. There is reason to believe,
however, that Nisbet had confounded the name with that de Glenesk
which was the surname borne by the then proprietor.
Traces of the old family de Glenesk are also limited; but such
as remain are found in equally authentic muniments as those of the Abbes and
Adzells, and point to a knightly, and, no doubt, warlike race, who inhabited the
banks of the North Esk, at least a century prior to the clan Lindsay. Nay, not
so much from the fact of their assuming the surname de Glenesk, as
from the independent part that they took in the important transactions of the
times, it may be presumed that they were the original landowners, though the
period of their first occupancy, and the cause of their receiving the lands, are
both unknown. The first appearance of John de Glenesch, miles, is
in the trustworthy capacity of witness to a charter to Walter de Rossy, about
1260; and the same person, or his son, occurs in the interesting year 1289, as
subscribing the celebrated letter of the community of Scotland to Edward,
consenting to the marriage of his son Prince Henry with our Princess Margaret.
Seven years later, while the English conqueror was carrying his conquest into
the very heart of the kingdom, and when "the spirit of Scotland had sunk
into despondency," Sir John de Glenesk passed to Aberdeen on the 15th of
July 1296, and, along with another of the same name, who is designated cheva1ié,
swore fealty to that ambitious monarch. Again, in the parliament held at
Berwick-on-Tweed on the 28th of August of the same year, John de Glennysk, and
Morgund de Glennesk, took the oaths, with others of the county of Forfar.
These are the only notices that we have seen respecting the most ancient
lords of Glenesk, and the relationship, if any, between Morgund and John is not
stated. It is probable, however, that Morgund was John's son, and from his
bearing the same Christian name as was borne by the last recorded of the Abbes,
the idea of supposing some kindred between the families of Abbe and de
Glenesk may not be altogether visionary. Perhaps, in the absence of
better record, it may be taken as indicative of the extinction of the Abbes, and
an alliance with the lords de Glenesk.
The surname of Stirling, or Striuelyn as it is written in the oldest deeds,
had, in all probability, a territorial origin, and been assumed from the old
town of that name. The family is ancient and famous. The laird of Keir is
reckoned the chief, and supposed to have descent from Walter de Striuelyn, who
is a witness to Prince Henry's charter of the church of Sprowistoun (Sprouston)
to the Abbey of Kelso. It is probable that the Stirlings of Glenesk were of this
stock, from the similarity of their armorial hearings; and, besides being lords
of the extensive properties of Glenesk, they possessed large estates in
Inverness and Moray, and were occasionally designed de Moravia.
They are so Ragman Rolls, from which it appears that several of
the name swore fealty to Edward at the same time with de Glenesk -
a circumstance which perhaps had led Nisbet to commit the error before referred
The date of the death of the last Stirling of Glenesk is unknown; but he left
two daughters, who succeeded as co-heiresses. One of them, Catherine, became the
wife of Sir Alexander, third son of Sir David Lindsay of Crawford, about the
year 1357, and the other married Robert de Atholiâ, grandson of Angus, lord of
the Isles. Lindsay succeeded to the Forfarshire portion of the Stirling estates,
which consisted of Edzell, Glenesk, and Lethnot, while the other son-in-law
inherited the Inverness and Moray portion, and, by a second marriage, was
ancestor of the ancient house of Struan-Robertson, which flourished in
considerable pomp until about a century ago.
This mode of Lindsay's succession to Glenesk, though borne out by substantial
evidence, is too much matter of fact, and partakes so little of the wonderful,
that the insatiable craving for romance that characterised the minds of our
ancestors, is exhibited in relation to it in one of its most striking features.
Co-heiresses are unknown to tradition, and a son and only daughter are the
substitutes. They were left orphans (it is said), and the former, small of
stature and greatly deformed in body, was familiarly known as Jackie
Stirlin'. Although physically defective, he enjoyed good health, and was
neither impervious to the softer feelings of humanity, nor too unseemly for the
kindly eyes of women. By one of these, the daughter of a neighbouring baron, his
offer of marriage was accepted. This was altogether contrary to the wishes and
expectations of both his sister and her lover, the gallant Sir Alexander
Lindsay. All remonstrance having failed to prevent the nuptials, they laid a
deep and heartless scheme for his overthrow. One evening, while taking an airing
alone in the wooded defile to the north of the castle, ‘Jackie’ was pounced
upon by a masked assailant, and summarily despatched at a place still pointed
out. He was buried in the family sepulchre, and many old people believe, that
amongst the broken bones with which the vault in former days was so profusely
strewn, they have seen the crooked remains of this luckless
It was under these circumstances, according to local story, that Lindsay
married the daughter of Sir John Stirling, and fell heir to one of the largest
districts in Angus, which, together with the importance of his own family
connection, made him so courted by his brother barons that he had little leisure
to reflect on the enormity of his crime. It is unquestioned fact that his second
wife was Marjory Stuart, cousin of Robert, Duke of Albany, the marriage having
taken place in 1378. But, as a day of retribution comes sooner or later, his
heart began latterly to fail, and, according to the custom of the period, he
determined to atone for the foul deed of his youth by large gifts to the church
and a pilgrimage to Palestine. With a view to his safety, he rebuilt the church
of Finhaven, and gifted it to the cathedral of Brechin, where the Prebendary had
a stall in the choir, and said mass daily for his safe conduct. These
precautions, however, were of little avail the avenging angel pursued him
wherever he went, and be breathed his last in a distant country in the year
l382, long ere he reached Jerusalem, the haven of his penitential sojourn.
Of the genealogy of the great Scottish family of Lindsay, Wyton remarks with
much caution -
"Off Ingland come the Lyndysay,
Mare off thame I can nocht say."
Notwithstanding this guarded remark by a well-informed historian, later
writers have invested the origin of the Lindsays with all the romance and
improbability with which the early genealogies of other old families abound.
These need not he dwelt upon, but suffice it to say, that recent investigation
shows them to have been a branch of the Norman house of Limesay, and the first
known in England, Randolph de Limesay, to have come over with the Conqueror, to
whom he was nephew; on the extinction of his male line, the head of the Scottish
Lindsays was selected to marry one of the co-heiresses. The name is not of
territorial origin, as popularly believed, but is assumed from the Norman ‘Lindeseye,’
or ‘Limes-eye,’ both implying ‘Isle of Limetrees’; and, as shown in the Lives
of the Lindsays, it has had from earliest record to latest no fewer than
eighty-six different spellings.
<added January 2007>But it was Walter de Lindsay, an Anglo-Norman, and witness and juror in the celebrated
Inquest of Prince David into the possessions and rights of the See of Glasgow in 1116, who was the earliest of the name in
Scotland. He is supposed to have settled in Cumbria; but it is not until the time of his grandson William, who was designed of
Erceldon and Luffness, and the first of the family who possessed the old property of
Crawford-Lindsay in Clydesdale, that anything positive is known of them as Scottish landowners.
He was one of the great magnates of the kingdom, and and a hostage for the
redemption of William the Lion after his capture by Henry II of England. He was
also High Justiciary of Lothian, and bore a prominent part in the leading transactions of
the period; and from him, through Sir David Lindsay of Crawford, Sir Alexander
(who married Catherine Stirling, the heiress of Glenesk, being a second son) was the tenth in
lineal descent. By the heiress of Glenesk, he had Sir David, his successor, and Sir Alexander
of Kinneff, the former of whom succeeded his father when only sixteen years of age; and on the death of his,
James de Lindsay of Crawford, in 1397, without male issue, he became chief of the
family, and heir to their extensive inheritances in Clydesdale and other places. He
married the Princess Elizabeth, daughter of Robert II, and had his estates augmented by his royal father-in law, by a gift of
the barony of Strathnairn in Inverness-shire; and on the 21st of April, 1398, he
"was created Earl of Crawford, by solemn belting and investiture, in the parliament held at Perth that
year the Earldom Crawford being the third created since the extinction of the Celtic
dynasty, that of Douglas having been the second, and Moray the first."
It is not our intention to dwell on the valorous actions which
characterised the life of this celebrated nobleman - his overthrow of Lord Welles at the famous
tournament at London Bridge, which took place on the feast of St.George, in 1395,
in presence of King Richard and "Good" Queen Anne - and his dreadful onset with the natural son of the Wolf of Badenoch (his own near relative, through his aunt's marriage with Robert de
Atholia), at Glenbrierachan, in the Stormont, when Ogilvy, the Sheriff of Angus, and his uterine brother, Leighton of Ulishaven, and many other Angus barons, were slain, and from which Sir David Lindsay and Sir Patrick Gray very narrowly escaped with their
lives - are so beautifully and effectively described by his noble kinsman, that the reader is respectfully referred
to Lord Lindsay's "Lives" for these particulars, as well as for more important notices of the many great
achievements of the other illustrious members of the family, which can only, be
briefly noticed in the following pages.
The brother of Sir David, or the first Earl of Crawford, and second son of Catherine
Stirling, was "Yowng Alysawndyr the Lyndyssay," who, along with his cousin, Sir Thomas
and several others, attacked the English, under the Duke of Lancaster, near Queensferry, in the year 1384; and though
greatly inferior in numbers, by surprising them almost immediately on leaving their ships,
they completely routed them in the manner thus quaintly described by Wyntown:-
"Bot thai, that had his cummyn sene,
Tuk on thame the flycht bedene,
And til the se thame sped in hy.
Bot Schyr Thomas sá hástyly
Come on, and swá thame turnyd agayne,
That a gret part of thame war slayne.
Sum tane, and sum drownyd ware:
Few gat til thare schyppis thare.
Welle fourty hangyd on a rápe,
Smá yharnyd thai for ethchape;
Bot áne, that wes in-til a bate,
Sá dowtand wes in that debate,