our former chapter we have detailed how the family of abbes became to be known
as of Glenesk. This designation
appears as early as the middle of the thirteenth century, and the first of the
name that has been handed down is John de Glenesh, Knight, who appears along
with Lord Betun and others as witnesses to a charter, dated about 1256, and
granted by Christiania de Valoniis in her widowhood (Reg. de Pan. II.
P.141). By this charter she grants to John de Lydel, for his homage
and service, her lands of Balbanein and Panlathyn, which she received in
excambion from Sir Henry Baliol, Knight, with liberty to sell these lands to any
one except religious men and Jews. John de Glenesk, evidently the same person,
appears as a witness to a charter dated about 1200 (Reg. De Aberb.
granted by Walter and Thomas de Rossy of six merks out of the barony and mills
of Rossy in Angus.
the year 1289, John de Glenesk subscribes the letter granted by the inhabitants
of Scotland, whereby they consented to the marriage of the Princess Margaret
to Prince Henry, son of King Edward I. In
1296, John de Glenesk, along with Morgund de Glenesk, passed north to Aberdeen,
and there took the oath of fealty to Edward I, on the occasion of his
victorious march through Scotland. Sir
John was accompanied by another of the same name designed as Chevalie, both of
whom swore fealty, and according to the Ragman Rolls, John and Morgund, along
with a number of other burgesses of Montrose, Dundee, etc., again took the oath,
this time in the Parliament held at Berwick-on-Tweed on the 28th of July of the
aforementioned year. The names of these two persons form the link of connection
with the family under the first-mentioned name of the "Abbes" of
Glenesk, which about this period appears to have been dropped; the name of the
person with the addition or designation “of Glenesk” being carried on in its
successors of the family of Glenesk were the Stirlings or Strivelings, but, like
their predecessors, very few traces of this ancient family and their connection
with Edzell can he gleaned. According
to Nisbet, Johannes de Stryvelin, Miles was Lord of Glenesk in 1296, but
according to Jervise (Lands) this assertion is unfounded; neither can we find
the family designed of these lands at such an early period, although the family
was resident in the district for at least fifty years previous.
The first recorded member of the family hearing that surname was Henry de
Stryvelin, who, along with his brother, Henry of Brechin, was a witness to a
charter granted by John, Earl of Huntingdon, of a parcel of land in Kynalemund
to the Abbey of St. Thomas in Arbroath, and dated about 1224 (Reg. de Pan. -
Reg. de Aber. Vol I. p.56).
family of Stirlings were also proprietors of the estate of Lauriston, near
Montrose, about this period, as in 1243, Alexander de Strivelyn granted to the
prior and canons of St. Andrews the Chapel of Lauriston, which was then a
dependency of Ecclesgreig or Greg's Church in the Mearns, dedicated to St.
Ciricus the Martyr, and from whom the parish derives its name (Reg. et Chart. of
St. Andrews, p.218-280). The chapel
stood at the Chapelfield, and Strivelyn also granted to the priors by charter a
pound of wax yearly, the price of which was to be regulated by the market value
at the adjoining burgh of Montrose, and dated at Ormiston, 9th December, 1243.
Stirling family were famous and warlike about this period, and it is on record
that one of their number named Alexander, also of Lauriston, and designed “a
Knight”, fell at the bloody battle of Harlaw, on 24th July, 1411, along with a
number of other valiant knights of the district (Reg. de Pan.
189) and who were
all arrayed against the Highland Kernes under Donald of the Isles.
An Alexander Sterlyng is also a witness to two of the citations of the
pension of the Church of Lethnot, executed in the year 1452 (Reg. de Ep. Brech.).
The surname of Stirling, or, as it is written in the older deeds, Strivelyn,
Striveling, and Stirveling, is probably derived from the ancient burgh of
Stirling. Many of the members of
the family entered the church, and amongst those who connected themselves with
the Cathedral Church of Brechin was Patrick of Stirling, who was located in this
neighbour-hood as early as 1364. Duncan
Stirlying, Armiger, was witness to a charter dated 13th August, 1494, and
granted by John, Master of Crawford, to his cousin, Thomas Maule of Panmure, of
the lands and mills of Camistoun (Reg. de
Pan.); and in the Rolls of Parliament
for the year 1560 we find the family of Stirlings of Keir mentioned; of which
family it is supposed the Edzell Stirlings were a branch, as their armorial
bearings were nearly alike.
last Stirling of Glenesk was Sir John, and the date of his death is unknown; but
it appears to have been about the middle of the fourteenth century; and lands in
the city of Brechin designed and known as John Stirling's lands are described
in an Instrument of Sasine in favour of Thomas Meldrum of Seigy in 1548. It has been recorded, however, that the family ended in two
co-heiresses, one of whom was named Katherine, the name of the other being
supposed to be Jean (Robertson’s Missing Charters, 61 line 16. - Lives,
The first, named Katherine, married Sir Alexander Lindsay (Reg. de Pan.
p.cliv), third son of Sir David Lindsay of Crawford.
Sir Alexander succeeded to the Glenesk or Edzell estates about 1357, and
these lands, which also included Lethnot, remained in the possession of the
Lindsay family until the time of their purchase by James, Earl of Panmure, in
the year 1714. According to
Robertson, Sir Alexander also acquired all the lands belonging to Sir John which
were located in the
of Inverness, but Jervise states that Robert de
Atholia, the other son-in-law, inherited the Inverness and Moray portion of the
estates. Although the succession is
borne out by charter evidence, the tradition of the district relates that a
daughter and son were the heirs to the estates, and as the former was the only
barrier to the succession of the powerful Lindsay, it is currently said that he
was accordingly dispatched under cover of night by an assailant in the vicinity
of the castle, and the luckless knight who was known at “Jackie Stirlin',”
was consigned to oblivion in the family vault in the old churchyard of Edzell.
Although this story it not supported any further than by tradition, it
has been noted by historians that Catherine Stirling died soon after her
marriage with Lindsay, and that he took to second wife Marjory Stewart, cousin
of Robert II, who bore him two sons, Sir William of Rossie in Fife, and Sir
Walter, besides a daughter, Euphemia (Lives,
going into the various accounts concerning the Norman and Anglo Norman’s
origin of the Lindsay family, let us, like Wyntoun, the cautious chronicler and
prior of Loch Leven, state that -
“Out of Englande come the Lyndsay:
it suffice for our purpose to state that Sir Alexander, First of Glenesk, who
married Catherine Stirling, had by her Sir David of Glenesk, his successor: and
Sir Alexander of Kinneff. The laird
of Edzell was of a warlike disposition, and shortly after his settlement at
Edzell he sought for honour in the foreign wars, as in 1368 he obtained a
safe-conduct permit to pass through England along with sixty horse and foot in
order to take part in the war between France and England about that period. He was in Scotland as late as the 30th of June, 1380, on
which date he witnessed a charter at Inchemurthock of the ordination of the
Bishop of St. Andrews (Reg. de Aberb.
Here we lose sight of him, but in 1380-81 he contemplated a visit to the
Holy Land, and on 4th December, 1381, he had a safe-conduct to pass through
England accompanied by Sir John Edminstone.
. . .
SOURCES - Registrum de Panmure : Registrumto de Aberbrothock (Arbroath) : Episcopi Brechinensis (Bishop of Brechin) : Register and Chartulary of St Andrews.
minutes' easy walk from the rising village of Edzell stands the ancient home of
the “lichtsome" Lindsays, prettily embosomed amongst a number of stately
trees, and sheltered from the north by the low-lying hill of Edzell. The ruins of this once lordly dwelling rank amongst the most
extensive in Angus, and are alike interesting to the historian, the artist, and
the sight-seeing tourist. Once the
abode of a succession of a most powerful family whose ancestors and exploits
shine on the page of our earliest historians, the place is now tenantless and
roofless, but still in its desolate and ruinous grandeur worthy of a visit from
all who make Edzell a place of call, be it on business bent or a resort for
health and pleasure.
castle has been built at three different periods, and at the present time may be
divided into three different sections, viz:- the Stirling tower, or oldest
portion; the Lindsay tower, with its connections, of later date; and the summer
house, with its flower garden enclosure of more recent erection. The keep, or Stirling tower, so named from the family of
Stirlings of Glenesk, is an L-shaped building of enormous strength, standing in
the south-west corner of the courtyard and connecting the chapel and flower
garden. It is four stories high,
with underground chambers, and measures on its southern and eastern sides
forty-four feet or thereby. The
tower commands an extensive view of the surrounding country and forms a pleasing
feature in the landscape, especially when viewed from the hill of Edzell, with
the village in the distance and the low-lying hills to the south, and the river
wending to the sea on the left.
spiral stair in the north-east corner, very much ruined and worn, has been
erected within the tower, and conducts the visitor to the upper rooms, the first
of which, known as the hall or "Queen Mary's Room," is open to the
sky, and contains a large fireplace measuring seven feet five inches wide by
four feet three inches deep. The
room is of plain design and is lighted on its southern side by two large
windows, while a little private or devotional room occupies the north-west
corner. The large windows on the
south are furnished with deep stone seats of polished freestone, and are without
doubt the very seats which the hapless Queen Mary had sat on while gazing on the
fair prospects of hill, plain, and valley, which is visible from this ancient
tower. The walls vary from four to
six feet in thickness, and are pierced at intervals by circular and oblong
loopholes intended for warfare, as the tower had evidently been built with the
intention of protecting and commanding the entrance to the Stirling properties,
which included the glens of Lethnot and the Esk.
The height of the tower is about eighty feet, with crow-stepped gabled
projections on the east and west sides, and the battlements could easily have
been reached until the great storm of 11th October, 1838, when the spiral stair
was so much damaged that since then it has been unsafe to venture any further
than the third storey. This stair
gave access to the third and fourth stories of the tower, which had been divided
into rooms for the domestic purposes of the family. The stair is also continued in the lower half to the
underground rooms, which had been used for storage and cellarage, as they
present no appearance of having contained the usual apparatus for confinement
purposes, which is still visible in many of our ancient castles.
A double corbelled moulding with projection is placed round the junction
of the roof and walls, and, according to the best authorities extant on Scottish
domestic and castellated architecture, these corbels are especially worthy of
note (McGibbon & Ross). The
same authority states that ''this is a striking and early instance of corbels
used . . .
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