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Family History


This page gives some extra historical information about the Stirling family.

The first extracts are believed to be from an old books.




In 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. P.336-7) and granted by Walter and Thomas de Rossy of six merks out of the barony and mills of Rossy in Angus.

In 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 stead.

The 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).

The 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.

The 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.

The 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, 51).  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 county 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, p.51-73).

Without 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:
  Mair of them I can nocht say;”

. . and 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. P.36).  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.

A present-day view of part of Edzell Castle


Ten 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.

The 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.

A 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  .  .  .


Below, a clipping provided to the webmaster - source unknown.



A brief History:

The great town and Castle of Stirling, in central Scotland, may account for the derivation of this name, which means place of strife.

Thoraldus, who appears in a charter granted by David I in 1147, held the lands of Cadder.  His descendant, the 5th Laird of Cadder, Sir Alexander de Strivelyn, died in 1304.

His heir, Sir John de Strivelyn, was killed at the Battle of Halidon Hill in 1333. Sir John de Strivelyn, 3rd Laird of Cragernard, was governor of the royal Castle at Dumbarton and sheriff of Dumbartonshire.  He was appointed armour bearer by James I, and Comptroller of the Royal Household. He was knighted in 1430.

His son, William acquired the lands of Glorat. His son George also held Dumbarton Castle which he defended for the crown from 1534 to 1547.  He fought at the Battle of Pinkie in 1547, later dying from the wounds that he received there.

His great-grandson, Sir Mungo Stirling of Glorat, was a supporter of Charles I and was knighted by him. His son, George was created a baronet of Nova Scotia in 1666.

The Stirlings obtained the lands of Keir in Perthshire in the mid 15th century. Sir William Stirling of Keir was a staunch supporter of James IV. His descendent, Sir Archibald Stirling of Keir, was a prominent lawyer who supported the king during the civil war and on the restoration in 1660 was appointed to the supreme court with the title Lord Garden.

The Lairds of Keir remained loyal to the Stuarts, and fought in both the risings of 1715 and 1745.  James Stirling of Keir was imprisoned for his part in the fifteen and his estates were forfeited, but they were later restored.

The Stirlings of Faskine in Lanarkshire claim descent from William the Lion but were actually a collateral branch of the Stirlings of Cadder.  John Stirling, descendant of this house, became Lord Provost of Glasgow.  He died in 1709.  Sir Walter Stirling of Faskine served in the Royal Navy, and was appointed commander in chief of the fleet at Nore by George III.

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This page was updated - 09 December, 2014