Kilmuir and Logie Easter History

Kilmuir and Logie Easter Community Collage

Kilmuir and Logie Easter History - page 5

Chapter V - Lairds and their Lands 

In the course of the years estates no less than countries have a way of shifting their boundaries. Proprietors may add to their lands, or, which is perhaps more general at the present day, part with portions of them as the demands of the Treasury become more exacting.

An outstanding example of shrinkage we find in the estateof Delny, which is now merely a farm of about four hundred acres, with one or two crofts. In the sixteenth century the barony of Delny included not only the area to which the name is limited at the present time, but a vast tract of land stretching from Alness River to Tarbat Ness. It comprised the lands of Allan, Calrossie, Glastullich, Meikle Meddat, Wester and Easter Pollo, Balintraid, Inchfuir, Kincraig, Balconie, Culcraggie, Miln of Alness, the Yair of Balconie, Swordale, Fyrish, Miln of Culcraggie, the fishings of Ardmore, Morrichmore, Petmillie, Balicherry, the superiority of Dingwall, Kinmandie, Glach, Dalmalook, Inchvandie, Ochterneed, Drumglist, Western Fairburn, Urray, Arcan and Inchmaclearoch, upper waters of the Conon, the Mill of Culbokie, and others which cannot now be identified, the names having become obsolete. With this tract went the patronage of Kilmuir Easter, Ardersier, Killearnan, Logie, Tain, Edderton, Kennettas, Rosemarkie, Cromarty, Urray, Rosskeen, Kincardine, Alness, and the chapels of Alness, Tarbat, Newmore and Tarlogie.

At least a couple of centuries earlier there stood somewhere on the site of the present farm steading the Castle of Delny, long since demolished with not a trace of it left. It was one of the principal residences of the Earls of Ross. Here in January 1322, William, the third Earl, died. He it was who took an active part in fighting for Scotland against Edward I of England, and was one of the commanders of the Scottish army in 1296, when the Scots succeeded in occupying the Castle of Dunbar. Later, in recovering it, Edward captured the Earl and had him lodged in the Tower of London. There he remained until 1303, when he was released. His wife, Euphemia, all along a consistent supporter of the English party, was granted by Edward during the Earl's imprisonment maintenance from the Earl's lands. In 1305 he was appointed warden beyond the Spey. In the following year he brought discredit on himself by violating the sanctuary of St Duthus, in Tain, in order to deliver up to the English, Bruce's Queen and daughter, who had taken refuge there from the advance of an English Army.

William, the fifth Earl, brother of Hew, first laird of Balnagown, also died at Delny on 9th February 1369. His only son having predeceased him, his two daughters became heirs-portioners. Euphemia, the elder, who on the death of her father became Countess of Ross, married Sir Walter Lesley, who died about 1379. Subsequently pressure was .brought to bear on her to marry Sir Alexander Stewart, fourth son of Robert II., generally known as "the Wolf of Badenoch" on account of his deeds of atrocity and violence. Eventually the marriage took place, when a royal charter of all his wife's lands was granted to him, and the title of the Earl of Ross. Owing to his cruel treatment of her, and because of his relations with one Mariota, daughter of Athyn, by whom he had five sons, the Countess left him. She took up residence in the Castle of Dingwall, while he appropriated when in Ross the Castle of Delny, in Kilmuir. In 1384 he dates a charter there.

About a century later the lands, including Delny, belonging to Elizabeth, Countess of Ross, widow of John Earl of Ross and Lord of the Isles, were the subject of a long litigation between the Countess and James Dunbar of Cumnock, who occupied them.

The title of Earl of Ross has been long extinct, but a petition signed by well-known Scotsmen, Peers and Commoners, was submitted lately to the King, asking that his Majesty should revive the ancient Earldom in favour of his second son, the Duke of York, several of the early Scottish Kings having conferred it on their second sons.

In 1586 James VI. granted in heritage to William Keith, his master of the wardrobe, for his good services, certain lands in Ross. In these were included Delny, Badebaa and Balintraid, all in the parish of Kilmuir Easter, the grantee paying yearly for Delny "3 chalders bear and oatmeal, 8/- of bondage silver, and 6 poultry; the same sum every five years as gressum (i.e., a premium paid by vassals to superior on entering land) for the alehouse with toft (homestead) and croft; 13/4 for the alehouse without toft and croft; and 30/- for the orchard and the croft called Gardinaris croft; for Badebaa 20/-, and the same every five years with the usual services; for Balintraid 40/-, 9/- of bondage silver, one poultry and 40/- gressum, with the usual services."

Some of the lands must have been in the possession of Keith's family many years earlier, for in 1542 there is reference in a document to "Sir Wm. Keyth of Delny, Knight."

William Keith was noted for the part he played on behalf of James VI. in the negotiations with Queen Elizabeth regarding his mother, Mary Queen of Scots. He was selected by James from the royal household to proceed to England as one of a deputation to discuss with Elizabeth the fate of Mary, then a prisoner in England. The request he put forward was two-fold-first, that proceedings against Mary should be delayed until James could send some of his Council; and, second, that nothing should be done to the prejudice of the King's title to the English Throne.

Keith had several audiences of Queen Elizabeth, but the mission was unsuccessful as far as regards saving the life of Mary. It was recognised, however, that Keith had handled the affair with great skill, and that, in spite of attempts on the part of his enemies to prove the contrary, his sincerity and loyalty were above reproach. In token of his appreciation and gratitude for his work in this connection, James
presented him with these lands, made him a Privy Councillor, and appointed him as his ambassador on several important missions.

In addition to his services to the King, Keith took an important part in the local affairs of Easter Ross. In 1588 there is a record of his demitting the office of Provost of Tain when he nominates Alexander Ross of Balnagown as his successor, "the bailies, counsel and haill communitie voting and consenting".

Keith's death occurred in 1601, and in 1608 the Barony of Delny and the patronages which belonged to it were acquired by Lord Balmerino, formerly Sir James Elphinstone, Secretary of State from 1598 to 1609, and for the last four of these years President of the Court of Session.

In 1624 a dispute occurred between him and the Bishop of Ross, who had succeeded in obtaining the rights and patronages of the Churches in his diocese, including those in the Barony of Delny. Balmerino declared that this had been done by subtlety, and suppression of facts on the part of the Bishop, and demanded restitution.

On being appealed to, the King took the side of the Bishop, but in 1631 the Barony and patronages which went along with it were conveyed to Sir Robert Innes. Later, the Bishop raised an action against Sir Robert, and the patronages in dispute were resigned into the hands of Charles I. in favour of the Bishop and his successors in office, but during the suppression of Episcopacy Sir Robert again got possession, and in 1656 made them over to Sir George Mackenzie, the first Earl of Cromartie.

The barons of the Middle Ages held their criminal courts at Delny, and sometimes at Balnagown and Milntown. Some fragments of records of the 17th century survive, but the cases dealt with concerned not crimes, but matters of rents, service dues and the like, the settlement of disputes between tenants, and the preservation of woods. How far the Barons exercised their right of pit and gallows, which was part of their charter rights, we are not informed.

It was probably at Delny that a disturbance took place on one occasion in the year 1586 while Sir William Keith, described as heritable feuar of the barony of Delny and bailie principal of the Earldom of Ross and lordship of Ardmannoch, Johnne Vaus of Lochslyne, his bailie depute and Johnne Keith apparent of Ravensoraig, his Majesty's immediate bailie were holding a court for administering justice "to the King's proper tenants within the said earldom and lordship". There arrived on the scene a large band of the Monros, accompanied by some Rosses, about four hundred in all, led by Andrew Monro of Newmore, wearing "jakkis (tunics of leather, plated with iron) and steil bonnettis", armed with pistols and bows, and bearing darlochs (quivers for arrows), determined to be avenged for a wrong they alleged had been done in that court to their leader, Andrew Monro. One is not surprised to learn that in consequence of this threatening force the sitting of the Court had to be abandoned. Later, they were cited to answer to a charge of a breach of the peace, but disdaining to appear, were in accordance with legal practice denounced as rebels.

Early in the seventeenth century the lands of Delny lying within the parish became the property of the Baynes of Tulloch (near Dingwall). In 1682, John Bayne, son of Alexander Bayne of Tulloch, is proprietor, and in 1742 we find the lands still in the same family, Ronald Bayne being seised in "the Towns and Lands of Meikle and Little Delny with the mannor place, houses, Biggings, etc., with the miln, Milnlands and Multures".

The above John Bayne of Delny, in 1688, when fifty years old, figures as one of the most important witnesses in a case concerning the slaying of William Ross, Younger of Kindeace, by Lord Duffus at some point between Delny and the Ferry of Inverbreakie (Invergordon), in the presence of Bayne and a company of friends, who had previously eaten and drunk amicably in Bayne's house at Delny.

Duffus was debtor to Kindeace for a bond of 10,000 merks, but the quarrel does not seem to have had any connection with that, but to have arisen from a dispute regarding the relative merits of the horses ridden by the company, and also concerning an insulting remark alleged to have been made to Kindeace by George Ramsay, son of the Bishop of Ross, who was present. The argument ended in Duffus running his sword through Kindeace, who expired on the spot.

Evidence points to considerable provocation on the part of the latter, and to attempts by Delny to pacify the combatants. Witnesses deponed that he said repeatedly to Kindeace, "Dear Kindeas, ryde aff and doe not contend with Duffus," and that he implored Duffus to "hold his hand and not to doe mischief." He even attempted to ride betweenthem in order to separate them.

Duffus was said to be in great distress at the fatal ending to the dispute, but claimed that the act was committed as the result of great provocation, and in self-defence.

Not long after this, John Bayne of Delny, with John, Master of Tarbat, as his cautioner, entered into a bond which narrated that he had raised an action against the laird of Balnagown and other friends of the deceased William Ross of Kindeace, younger, for slandering him before the Commissioners of Justiciary and others, implying that he was guilty of or accessory to the murder of Kindeace, although of this crime the Lords of Council had found him innocent. On this account he had been obliged to give an undertaking to keep his Majesty's peace, particularly towards Balnagown and his dependents, under a penalty of 5000 merks.

In 1744 there is a sasine in favour of "Jean Gray, widow of Alexander Bayne of Knockbayn of the lands of upper and neather Delny with the miln and pertinents of the same proceeding upon a liferent disposition made and granted by the deceast, Ronald Bayne of Delny, by which she is provided with the yearly annuity of Five hundred Merks Scots money.", Eventually these lands pass out of the possession of that family, and in 1786 we find the Trustees of Sir John Gordon of Invergordon obtain them in disposition by the said Sir John Gordon, March 1776. Subsequently, the Macleods of Cadboll become the owners, and in 1841, James Balfour of Whittinghame holds the "Towns and lands of Easter and Wester and Little Delnies with the Manor Place thereof and Mill of Delnie and Mill Lands and Teinds" as security for loan of £8000 to Robert Bruce Aeneas Macleod of Cadboll and Roderick Macleod, younger of Cadboll. They were purchased from the Macleods in 1861 by Alexander Matheson of Ardross. About fifty years later Delny was sold to Thomas Urquhart, on whose death it went to Leslie Urquhart, his nephew, whose death occurred in 1933. The farm of Delny is now the property of Charles Mundell.

Bordering on Delny is the estate of Kindeace, composed of a number of farms and crofts of varying extent. These are, besides the home farm and Heathfield, the small farms of Inchfuir, Middle, Easter and Wester Lonevine, Kinrive Easter, Dorachan, Strathrory, and one or two small crofts.

The original estate of Kindeace was situated in the parish of Nigg, in the middle of the seventeenth century the owner being Malcolm Ross, designated first of Kindeace. Long after the Rosses had any connection with the estate, the decendants of Malcolm continued to style themselves "of Kindeace".

Malcolm was the third son of David Ross, second of Pitcalnie, who was grandson of Alexander Ross, ninth of Balnagown.

In April 1661 he made a contract of wadset with David McCulloch, "heir of James McCulloch of Kindeis, his immediate elder lawful brother", and on 2nd March 1667 obtained a disposition from Sir George Mackenzie of Tarbat of the town and lands of Meikle Kindeace, in Nigg parish. These lands were acquired before the end of the seventeenth century by William Robertson, merchant and burgess of Inverness. About 1788 they were purchased by John Mackenzie, commander in the Navy, who changed the name to Bayfield.

Another piece of land in Nigg Parish, known as Little Kindeace or Easter Kindeace, had been acquired in 1721 by Alexander Ross, known locally as " Polander Ross, "from his connection with Poland, where he had been a merchant. He changed the name of Kindeace to Ankerville.

About 1751 the Robertsons, whose progenitor was the above William Robertson, came into possession of the estate of Old Inchfure, in Kilmuir, re-naming it Kindeace after their Nigg property. At that time it comprised "the town and lands of Keanrive and Strathrory lying within the parish of Kilmuir Easter, the Town and Lands of Easter and Wester Inchfures, the lands of Easter and Wester Carntotacks . . . .now the western part of Inchfure farm, with the seat of Inchfure in the parish church of Kilmuir Easter, and lands and mill of Torranlea, Auldnamain, Burnside and Dalnaclearach."

The Robertsons held the estate of Kindeace in Kilmuir until 1920, when it was sold to Louis Beauchamp, who, two years later, disposed of it to Brigadier-General John Buchanan Pollock-McCall, C.M.G., D.S.O., the present proprietor, who is one of the Deputy-Lieutenants of the County.

It has been already mentioned that the small estate of Priesthill, which adjoins Kindeace, was during the Middle Ages part of the church lands of the Church of St Mary. Mr Donald Ross, second son of John Ross, fifth of Balnagown, seems to have had some rights to these lands, for he is designated first of Priesthill. He was Dean of Caithness, and died in 1487, his descendants for several generations retaining the title "of Priesthill".

The death of another Donald Ross of Priesthill is recorded in 1571, and in a charter dated 1601 the name of William Ross of Priesthill, who was probably son of the above Donald, occurs as granting to "Donald Ross his son and Agnes Innes his spouse for fulfilling of a matrimonial contract . . . towns of Wester Pollo and Balintraid" in the newly-erected County of Ross.

In 1590, David Monro of Nigg and others were summoned to appear before the Justice in the Tolbooth of Edinburgh on a charge of coming in arms to the house and lands of Balintraid, belonging to William Ross of Priesthill, and breaking up "per force of the duris thairof reving and taking away furth of the samis, of killing ling, skait, haddokis and utheris to the nowmer of fourty dusane", and also for hurting and wounding a certain Thos. McConnachie. This attack on the property of William Ross can be understood when we hear that in the same year William was imprisoned for debt to the above David Monro, and caution of £1000 had to be found that he would not harm David. A further caution of £2000 was found for him that when released from the Tolbooth of Edinburgh he should keep "ward in the said burgh till he find surety for the entry of himself and of Johnne Ross, his bastard son, and others to answer for certain crimes specified in the letters raised against him by David Monro of Nigg, also that the said William shall remain in the said burgh till he satisfy the treasurer-depute for his escheat fallen to the King through his having been put to the horn at the instance of the said David."

Twenty-five years later Mr Thomas Ross of Priesthill, whose wife was Janet, daughter of George Monro, VI. of Milntown, is accused of having with others, in defiance of the law, on various occasions "borne and worne hagbutis and pistolletis upon their bodyies and in their company." They do not appear in answer to the charge, and are denounced rebels.

In 1740, David Ross, younger of Priesthill, obtained the lands of "Meikle Dahn Miln and Miln lands," and in the following year in a contract of marriage there is a sasine in favour of him and his wife, Margaret Sutherland, in the town and lands of Rhives, as also in the town and lands of Parkbill and Baddibaa. His name occurs in the list of heritors minuted as being present at a meeting of the Kirk Session of Kilmuir Easter in 1771.

It is evident that Ross held merely the title, for early in the eighteenth century, Priesthill had become part of the Cromartie Estate, and prior to 1745 the Earl of Cromartie wadset these lands of Priesthill to Bain of Delnies, the rent being "22 bolls Bear and 22 bolls Meal and £12 8s of money."

Delnies was allowed to retain 42 Bolls victual and £12 8s as interest on his money while paying to the Cromartie farnily 2 Bolls yearly. Later the wadset was transferred to Sir John Gordon of Invergordon, and from 1765 to 1783, while the estates were under the management of the Commissioners for the annexed estates, Sir John Gordon was debited with the rents of the lands of Priesthill. These lands had been "seised upon and surveyed and published agreeable tv the "Vesting Act," but neither Delnies nor Sir John Gordon seems to have entered a claim in the Court of Session under the Vesting Act.

In 1765, Sir John Gordon passed a charter of his estates in the County of Cromarty, and from that date Sir John was fully vested in the lands of Priesthill, redeemable on payment of the wadset sum.

Later, Priesthill reverted to the Cromartie Estate, the farm being let, the last tenant to occupy it being George Cruickshank. It was sold in 1920, along with the land of Lower Tullich, to Gilbert Ross, whose forbears came from the Balnagown Estate, in Edderton, and settled on Delny Muir, which was part of Kindeace Estate.

In the west of the parish bordering on the Delny Estate is the small estate of Pollo, its name derived from the Gaelic meaning "pool" or "hole".

In 1786, William Ross Munro of Newmore is registered as heir to Mary Munro in the lands of Wester Pollo, Balintraid, and mill in the parish of Kilmuir Easter.

There is evidence that this William Ross Munro wished to secure as his wife a daughter of Baillie, factor for Balnagown. A scrap of a letter, dated 1767, from Munro to the father of the young lady on the subject remains to tell the tale. There he states that he expects Baillie "to send for Miss Betty this day, and talk seriously to her", and refers to his good fortune if he succeeds in his suit.

Betty's affections, however, seem to have been already engaged "to a gentleman who apply'd earlier", which circumstance her father breaks to Munro as tactfully as possible.

He assured him that Betty "expressed a true sense of the honour" he had done her, but did not think it "consistent to break off abruptly" her relations with her other suitor. Baillie does not leave him wholly without hope, for he goes on to say that he may "depend on every good offices of mine as if Betty Baillie had been this night in your arms. . . . .You have acted with honour and steadiness and generosity that must forward your matrimonial views."

Poor Monro's wishes, however, were never realised, for Betty became the wife of Major, later Colonel, James Sutherland, who was in all likelihood "the gentleman who apply'd earlie".

Betty lived until 21st October 1831, when she died at Millmount, in the village of Milntown, at the ripe age of eighty-eight. She was buried in the Churchyard of Kilmuir Easter beside her son, George Sackville Sutherland, who predeceased her. Her daughter-in-law, Jean Mackay, wife of the above George, who died in 1858, at Inverness, also lies there.

In 1804, David Munro succeeded William Ross Munro in the lands of Wester Pollo and Balintraid, but in the same year Charles Ross, advocate, was seised in the lands on Disp. by David Munro of Newmore.

Kenneth Maclesy, sometime in the Island of Barbadoes, now of Newmore, was registered three years later as owner of them, followed in 1843 by Francis Mackenzie Gillanders on Disp. by the Trustees of Kenneth Macleay with consent of Kenneth Macleay, his son and heir.

In 1853, Thomas Ogilvie, described as a merchant of Liverpool, purchased these lands from Gillanders for £4000, this debt not being discharged until 1856. Alexander Matheson became proprietor in 1861, adding them to his other posessions in Easter Ross.

Later the property of Balintraid was purchased from Matheson by Cran, of Invergordon Bone Mills, and afterwards sold by him to John Macdonald Cameron, at one time M.P. for the Northern Burghs. It now belongs to his grandson, who resides in Australia, the tenant occupying it being Ian Forsyth, whose father, John Forsyth, was factor for Balnagown for many years.

Pollo was sold by Matheson to James Ross, who erected a distillery there, which no longer functions, and a large mansion~house.

During excavations connected with the building of the distillery an ancient grave was found.

Pollo is now the property of Mrs Florence Redhead, who also owns the village of Barbaraville.

The Estate of Kincraig is represented in the parish by what was once the farm of Broomhill, but is now broken up into small holdings, and is the property of William Martineau, knighted during the present year (1935).

In contrast to the changes of ownership which these smaller properties have undergone through the centuries, the broad lands of Balnagown and those of the Cromartie Estate, both of which extend far beyond the boundaries of the parish of Kilmuir Easter, have remained in the possession of one or two families for centuries.

It would not be astonishing if confusion sometimes arose between the Estate of Cromartie - with which we are concerned - (which comprises not only Tarbat, Polnicol Farm, Kildary Farm, and the village of Milntown in the Parish of Kilmuir Easter, but Castle Leod and Strathpeffer in the Parish of Fodderty and Coigeach in the west of Ross) and the estate of the same name, which is situated around the town of Cromarty across the Firth from Kilmnir and in the Parish and County of Cromarty proper.

The latter was originally the Crwmbawchty, of which Macbeth was reputed Thane before he became King of Scotland. In the thirteenth century this property was owned by the family of Mouat. But in the beginning of the following century it had accrued to King Robert the Bruce, who granted it to Sir Hugh Ross, eldest son of William Earl of Ross. He in turn handed it over to Adam Urquhart, whose descendants retained it for many centuries.

It now belongs to George Duncan Noel Ross, a son of the late Sir Walter Ross. He does not inherit the title. but is designated "of Cromarty," similar to the proprietor of the other estate, the only difference being in the spelling.

Viscount Tarbat, later the first Earl of Cromartie, was responsible for an Act of Parliament, passed in 1685, by which several lands in Ross were annexed to the shire of Cromarty. This Act was repealed in 1698 on the plea that it included lands not belonging to Viscount Tarbat, in whose favour the said annexation was made, and who desired that only the barony of Tarbat and other lands in Ross belonging to him or his brother or mother-in-law in life-rent, or by some wadsetters of his property, should be annexed to the shire of Cromarty. This included the Estate of New Tarbat and Priesthill, in Kilmuir Parish.

Thus the County of Cromarty consisted of several detached parts, an inconvenient arrangement which came to an end nearly two centuries later, when the Counties of Ross and Cromarty were joined, to be known henceforth as the County of Ross and Cromarty.

In the sixteenth century a considerable area of the parish of Kilmuir, at present owned by the Countess of Cromartie and others, was in the possession of a branch of the great clan Munro, whose feudal titles to their possessions were acquired about the middle of the fourteenth century from the Earl of Ross as their feudal superior. They were known as the Monros of Milntown, from the name of their estate, now changed to New Tarbat.

The first of the Munros or Monros of whom we have authentic information is believed to be George Munro of Fowlis, who is said to be mentioned in a charter of William Earl of Sutherland, as early as the reign of Alexander II.

In the civil war of the seventeenth century the Monros were on the side of the Government, as they were also in 1745, their Chief, Sir Robert Monro of Fowlis, being killed at Falkirk, fighting against the Stuarts.

The first of the Monros of Milntown was John, son of Hugh Monro, tenth Baron of Fowlis, by his second wife, Margaret, daughter of Nicholas, son of Kenneth, fourth Earl of Sutherland. He was senior cadet of the House of Fowlis, and consequently of the whole clan. He held many important offices, one of them being Chamberlain for the Earldom of Ross. His death occurred about 1475, his son, Andrew, succeeding him as Andrew II. of Milntown.

Andrew II. is described as a bold, austere and gallant gentleman, esteemed by his friends and a terror to his enemies, About the year 1500 he built the original Castle of Milntown, the site of which may be identified by an underground chamber not many yards distant from the present mansion of New Tarbat. It is said that during its construction the Rosses of Balnagown made determined attempts to prevent the work being carried out, and John, Earl of Sutherland, went to defend Monro against them, leaving behind him on his return to Sutherland a company of men for the protection of the Monros until the Castle reached completion.

According to an entry in the "Kalendar of Fearn," this castle was burnt down accidentally on the 12th of May 1642, through fire breaking out in some mysterious manner in a jackdaw's nest, which had been built in a corner of the castle.

Andrew II died in 1501, and was succeeded by his more notorious son, Andrew III, known as the "Black Baron", or "Black Andrew of the Seven Castles", his chief castle being this Castle of Milntown.

In 1512, King James IV. granted to Andrew Monro "the lands of Myltoun of Meath, with the mill, the office of chief mair of the earldom of Ross and the croft called the merkland of Tulloch in the earldom of Ross, the rental being 8 chalders, 4 bolls of victual ( half oats, half wheat), and to augment the rental by 8 bolls, and for the croft of Tulloch one pound of wax on the feast of St John the Baptist (24th June) within the chapel of Delny."

The name "mair" or "maor" was applied to the governor of a province who held judicial office under the king. It carried a territorial title equal to Baron among the Highlanders and to Jarl among the Norwegians.

In addition to Milntown, "Black Andrew" acquired by grant and purchase other lands, including Delny, Newmore in Rosekeen, Contullich and Kildermore in Alness, Docharty in Dingwall, Allan in Fearn, and Culnaha in Nigg. He had a castle on each estate. Hence his title, "Black Andrew of the Seven Castles".

He was a tyrant of the worst type. In an age not conspicuous for gentleness his deeds of cruelty horrified the countryside. The people of his lands lived in abject fear of him. With his own hand he had slain eight heads of families who had incurred his anger for some trivial reason, and he caused to be buried alive, head downwards in a pit, an old woman because she had given evidence against him in a case concerning a disputed march between himself and the Laird of Balnagown. A favourite custom of his when angry was to order the object of his wrath to be stripped naked.

On one occasion during a late harvest, when the vassals had come, unwillingly, no doubt, as their own crops were rotting in the ground, to fulfil the prescribed obligation to the maor, "out of everie house ane shearer to sheare ye mairs cornes", he ordered that the women should work stark naked. On his emerging later from the castle to satisfy himself that his orders were being carried out, he stumbled as he descended the stone steps, and fell and broke his neck. The field where the women worked is believed to lie between the present mansion and the shore of the Cromarty Firth.

The gallows-hill of the Barony of Milntown is situated on the march between Tarbat and Balnagown, not far from Logie United Free Church Manse, and the site of the drowning pool is adjacent to the Manse. In 1864, while excavations were being carried out there in connection with the construction of the railway, a quantity of human bones was unearthed, believed to be those of the wretches condemned to death by Black Andrew when acting in his capacity of principal maor; and in 1849 a cartload of human bones was dug out of an underground chamber beneath the site of the old Castle of Milntown, which also, no doubt, were those of the victims of Black Andrew's vengeance. These were gathered together and buried reverently in the churchyard of Kilmuir Easter.

Andrew's wife was Euphemia, daughter of James Dunbar of Tarbat and Ballone Castle, Easter Ross.

His death occurred before 1522, and he was buried in the east end of Kilmuir Easter churchyard, near the Allan burying-ground.

He left three sons-George IV of Milntown, his successor; William I of Allan, and Andrew I of Culnaha.

Queen Mary, in 1561, appointed George Monro Bailie and Chamberlain of her lands and lordships of Ross and Ardmanach, the appointments to continue during her pleasure, and in 1567 she exempted him for life on account of his age from all service as a soldier, from sitting on assizes, and from appearing as a witness in any court. His appointment as Bailie and Chamberlain was renewed by James VI. to continue during the pleasure of the King and his Regent.

Monro, in 1565, held the Castle of Inverness for the Earl of Moray, and the following order was issued by the Queen and her consort requesting him to deliver it up: -

"At Edinburgh, 22nd September, A.D. 1565:- The King's and Queen's Majesties for certain occasions moving them, ordained an officer of arms to pass, and in their Highnesses' name and authority command and charge George Munro . . . and Andrew Monro, his son, and all others, havers and withholders of the Castle of Inverness, to deliver the same to Hugh Ross of Kilravock, whom their Majesties have recommended to receive the same within six hours next after they be charged thereto, under pain of treason.

"(Signed) MARIE R., HENRY R"
George died at Milntown Castle on the 1st of November 1576, and, like his predecessors, was buried in Kilmuir Easter churchyard.

He was succeeded by Andrew V., a rigid and austere Protestant. He must have been given the lands of Newmore in his father's life-time, as he is referred to as Andrew Monro of Newmore.

About 1567, John Leslie, Bishop of Ross, who had been secretary to Queen Mary, fearing the effects of public opinion he North against Popery, made over the rights and titles to the Castle and Castle lands of Chanonry to his cousin, John Leslie of Balquhain. He thus divested them of the character of Church property, and preserved them to his own family - not an uncommon device on the part of Roman Catholic churchmen after the Reformation. Notwithstanding this grant, the Regent Moray gave the custody of the castle to Andrew Monro of Milntown, promising Leslie some of the lands of the Barony of Fintry as an equivalent, but before this transaction was completed and Andrew Monro had obtained titles to the Castle and Castle lands, the Regent was assassinated. Monro obtained permission, however, from the Earl of Lennox during his regency to take possession of the castle.

Colin Mackenzie, XI of Kintail, jealous of the Monros occupying the stronghold, purchased Leslie's right, and on the strength of it demanded delivery of the fortress. Whereupon Kintail and his clansmen laid siege, against which Monro held out for three years.

In 1591 Andrew Monro obtained a decree from the Lords of Council and Session against Andrew Dingwall and the feuars,farmers and possessors of the Earldom of Ross for 40/8, his ordinary fee of office, and for every sack of corn brought to shore to be shipped "ane gopin of corn", estimated at a halfpenny per lippy, and out of every chalder of victual delivered thereat, two pecks. The collection of these fees caused irritation, and the law had occasionally to be enlisted to enforce payment.

Some letters written by this Andrew Monro have been preserved. One is an invitation to the Laird of Balnagown to attend the funeral of his wife, "To ye ryt honl Laird of Balnagown younger. Richt Honl. Sir, my heartliest dewtie rememberit. Pleis with ye Monnonday be ten horis at ye guid pleasr of God my wyff is departit yis lyffe quha is to birrei ye nixt Wodins-day in Kilmuir Eister be ten houris in the morning qn I requiest you wt yor freinds to be heir befor said hor to conveye her buriell qlk I trust ye will do to ye quilk I rest. Committis you to God. Miltoun this 4 of April 1610. Andrew Monro."

He died when almost a centenarian, and was succeeded by George VI of Milntown, designated also "of Meikle Tarrel".

George is credited with the building of the tower and bel£ry of the old parish church, and according to the inscription, BEIGIT 1616, they must certainly have been erected during his life-time.

He was principal tacksman of the Chantry of Ross, and in 1621 M.P. for Inverness-shire, which at that time included Ross, Sutherland and Caithness.

His death occurred at Boggo on 6th May 1623, and he was succeeded by his eldest son, George VII of Milntown, who was served heir to his father, along with other lands, in the lands of Milntown, "with the mills and office of chief mair of the Earldom of Ross, of the extent of 8 chalders, 4 bolls of victual, a croft named the Merkland of Tulloch, of the extent of one pound of wax; and the lands and town of Meikle Meddat, of the extent of 6 chalders of bear and oatmeal, and other dues, its alehouse with toft and croft, of the extent of 13/4, and its other ale house, without toft and croft, of the extent of 6/8-in the Barony of Delnie, Earldom of Ross, and Sheriffdom of Inverness."

George married Margaret, daughter of Sir Robert Innes, XXIII of Innes, by his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Alexander, Lord Elphinstone.

He died in 1630, his son Andrew succeeding him as Andrew Monro VIII.

Andrew was only eleven years old at his father's death, and was the last of the Monros with any claim to the estate of Milntown. He was not, however, allowed to take up residence in the castle or to enter into possession of the lands, as his maternal uncle, Sir John Innes, claimed the estates for debts due to him by Andrew's father and wadset held by him over the estate. In 1645, Andrew was killed at the Battle of Kilsyth. His death was a great blow to his friends, whose hopes that one day he might have succeeded in redeeming the debts and other burdens contracted by his father were thus destroyed. He was unmarried.

In 1656, Innes sold the property to Sir George Mackenzie, later the first Earl of Cromartie, whose descendants still hold it.

Sir George's judiciary title as Lord of Session was Lord Tarbat, taken from the property in the parish of Tarbat, known as Easter Tarbat or Ballone, which had been acquired by Sir Rorie Mackenzie, his grandfather, in the year 1623 from George Monro of Meikle Tarrell and VI. of Milntown, for the sum of 110,000 merks, and to which Sir George had succeeded on the death of his father, John Mackenzie. In 1656, when he had purchased the castle and estate of Milntown, he immedily changed the name from Milntown to New Tarbat, by which it has since been known. The name Milntown now applies only to the village on the estate described in a previous chapter.

Continued on Page 6
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