Tuesday, 27 November 2018

The Battle of Stracathro and A Chilling Extinction

Stracathro is a quiet place which does not deserve notoriety.  Its claim to fame, historically, is the humiliating resignation of King John Balliol.  Nearby there was another, larger scale event, which took place in the year 1130, which marked the culmination of a power struggle between the Scottish crown and the rulers of Moray in the north who believed they had a legitimate right to rule. As some modern writers have asserted, what happened here was the end of the de facto situation whereby there were two functioning and rival kingdoms in the north: Scotia and Moray.

   The encounter took place on 16th April, 1130, beside the River Esk, at a place in that river which gave an alternative name to the battle, Inchbare ('island of the headland').  In the northern forces there were 5,000 men under the mormaer of Moray, Angus, and his brother Malcolm. The northerners had filtered down Glen Esk and were met by a large army coming from the south, which included a large number of cavalry and Norman knights.

 The royal forces meeting them were commanded by Edward, Constable of Scotland, representing King David I.  According to the English historian Orderic Vitalis, it was a resounding royal victory.  Some 4,000 of the northerners were slaughtered in the field, including Malcolm (although this may be an exaggerated number). Angus, 'king' or Moray, was slain. On the royalist side, the earls of Dunbar and Fife were slain too.

   Place-name students were certainly wrong several centuries ago when they interpreted the meaning of Stracathro as 'valley where the king fought'.  A more accurate name perhaps is Auchenreoch, 300 metres south of the North Water Bridge, which can be interpreted as 'field of great sorrow', remembering the encounter.

The North Esk at the North Water Bridge

Shadow Warriors of the North

   The men of the far north who fought the forces of the crown at Stracathro were representing a cause which had been in existence for a long period of time, although the identity of the groups they mustered under, and the lineage of their leaders was not always clear cut.  From the late 12th to the mid 13th century, two northern groups active in Ross and Moray - the MacWilliams and the MacHeths - strove to take the kingship of Scotland. One noteable participant at Stracatho was Angus's ally Malcolm Macheth, son of King Alexander I of Scotland.  He survived the carnage, but was imprisoned four years later. 

   Historians have traditionally identified the MacWilliams as descendants of William, son of King Duncan II of Scotland (who died in 1094), though this is not certain.  The historian G. W. S. Barrow suggested that this William's first wife was a cousin or sister of the Angus of Moray. Whoever he may have been, between 1179 and 1186, Donald Bán MacWilliam probably invaded Scotland on three different occasions, making him an exceptionally persistent and powerful enemy of the state.

   Guthred MacWilliam raised men and support from the north of Ireland, but when he came back to Scotland for another campaign he was defeated by a royal army in 1211 and defeated.  He was betrayed by some of his own, captured and beheaded.  But that was not the end of the unrest. Further incusions were dealt with in the 1220s.  In 1223 Gillescop MacWilliam and his sons were on the rampage in the far north. A few years later Iverness was burnt and the king's lands plundered.  Gillescop perished in the year 1229. One final, exceptionally brutal act remained to be done and it took place in Angus exactly a century after the Battle of Stracathro.

MacWilliam Line Extinguished in Angus

   The English Chronicle of Lanercost reports the end game of the Scottish regime which played out conclusively in a cold blooded act which took place in the centre of Angus in the year 1230:

In this year there arose in Scotland certain wicked men of the race of Mac-William; and his son; and one Roderic.  They raised up treachery in the remotest terriories of Scotland; and wished to obtain the kingdom by force, by allying with themselves a great number of wicked men of that ralm.  But by the vengeance of God, they and their accomplices were betrayed.  And after the enemy had been successfully overcome, a somewhat too cruel vengeance was taken for the blood of the slain:- the same MacWilliam's daughter, who had not long left her mother's womb, innocent as she was, was put to death, in the burgh of Forfar, in view of the market-place, after a proclamation by the public crier: her head was struck against the column of the market cross, and her brains dashed out.  Yet God says to the contrary effect, Sons shall not be slain for their fathers [Deuteronomy, XXIV, 16]; and so on...

   We will never know the background detail of how this infact was captured and what happened to its mother.  The poor infant may have been the daughter of either Donald Bán MacWilliam or Gillescop; we shall never know now. Unknown also is why this dreadful state execution took place in the heart of Strathmore, so far from the heartland of these 'rebels' in the far north.  Stracathro was a century-old memory.  Old men in Angus and neighbouring Gowrie might just have remembered the last major incursion of the northern hordes, when sixty of the MacWilliams, led by one Adam son of Donald, were hemmed up in the abbot's house at Coupar Angus Abbey and burned to death by Earl Malcolm of Atholl in December 1186, despite having claimed sanctuary. (The story can be revisited in my earlier post here.) 

Forfar and the Angus mountains from Balmashanner Hill

Sunday, 18 November 2018

General Monck Storms Dundee. Bloodshed, Marriage, Court-Martials. Shipwrecked Treasure Still There!

Conventional folk memory (if there is such a thing) in Dundee recalls the sack and occupation of the town by General Monck in the middle of the 17th century as a particularly barbarous event which effectively ended the burgh's growing aspiration to be the second city of the kingdom.  Although the Cromwellian assault was not on the scale of attrocities witness elsewhere, and particularly in Ireland, it remains a bitter strata in the civic history.

In the year 1651, Dundee was ripe for the picking.  It was an obvious strategic target, the only remaining large town in Scotland that remained loyal to King Charles II.  As a consequence, not only were its inhabitants suspect and legitimate targets in the eyes of Parliamentarian enemies, they were also hosts to traitors who flocked to the burgh from other places now overwhelmed and quelled.

   Dundee prepared itself, knowing that an attack was inevitable.  During most of August Stirling Castle had been the subject of seige, then assault, and strongly defended Dundee was in the firing line.  As S. G. E. Lythe describes it:

As Monk and his Parliamentary forces drew nearer the Council went into a frenzy of activity. It enlisted women to wheel barrow-loads of turfs to strengthen the fortifications, demolished outlying buildings that might serve the invaders as sniping posts, and appointed 'General Major Robert Lumsden of Montquhanie' as its garrison commander., On the whole the defence was in good heart.

   By the middle of August, Dundee was dangerously isolated and signed its own fate by refusing to surrender.  The siege of the burgh began and led to an attack on the first day of September, when the drunken defenders were overwhelmed by cavalry and infantry forces (Monck's forces numbered 4,000 men).

   The following is from the contemporary Narrative or Diary of the Proceedings of the Forces under Lt. General Monck, after their parting from the Army:

About 11 o'clock the signal was given, and breaches being made into the enemy's forts on the east and west sides of the town, our men entered, and after about half an hour of hot dispute, diverse of the enemy retreated to the church and steeple, and amongst the rest the Governor, who was killed with between four and five hundred soldiers and townsmen... There was killed of ours Capt. Hart and about 20 soldiers, and as many wounded. When our men got to the marketplace they gave quarter, and took about 500 prisoners, and amongst the rest Col. Coningham, Governor of Sterling, who was in the town with many of his soldiers which marched thence [after their surrender August 14].
The soldiers had the plunder of the town for all that day and night, and had very large prize, many inhabitants of Edinburgh and other places having sent their ware and gear thither.

 Lumsden retreated to St Mary's Church, barricaded within the Old Steeple.  Then he was forced out by smoke and killed.  Here's where events get confused.  The numbers of plain townsfolk slaughtered varies, from five or six hundred, upwards to 800.  One source claims that 200 women and children were put to death by the invaders.  Another historian wrote that 200 ships carried away the wealth of the town, though some of the booty sank in the Tay (a tale we shall return to below).  The fact that theatrocity was nowhere near the devastation suffered similarly by Drogheda in Ireland two years earlier does not mitigate the effect the event had.

The Dundee Churches in more peaceful times, several centuries after their destruction.

Drilling into the Details of Death and the Aftermath

   A full study of the the details surrounding the initial assault on Dundee would fill up far too much space, but a little elaboration is called for.  Some sources say that Lumsden's men were slain  in the kirk yard, where two battallions of Lord Duffus's forces were also slaughtered.  Baker's Chronicle gives the information that Lunsden himself surrendered to a Captain Kelly, who hoped to lead him to Monck and intercede to save his life.  However, on the way to Monck, an English major named Butler shot him dead.Yet more defenders were killed immediately in the Fishmarket.  Lumsden's severed head was placed upon an abutment in south-west corner of the Old Steeple.  The Rev. Small records the tradition concerning the slaughter in the late 18th century: '...the carnage did not cease until the third day, when a child was seen in a lane, called the Thorter-Row, sucking its murdered mother'.  This sounds very much like a folk legend, though whether contemporary or invented later, it is difficult to say. Some 300 men are said to have been captured by Monck's men at Alyth (from a force which had gathered in the hopes of relieving the siege of Dundee) and transported to London, where they remained imprisoned for two years.  

  It is likely the Commonwealth troops were given, officially or unoffically, free reign to plunder the captured town for a period of twenty-four hours, but the looting and violence may actually have carried on to some extent for as long as a fortnight and was not sufficiently kept in check by army commanders. A proclamation was issued by Monck against plundering, but not until the 15th September.

   The deliberate intention to slaughter townsfolk is as much a matter of debate as the actual numbers killed. (It is interesting to note that the provost, Sir Thomas Mudie, survived the onslaught and remained in office for several years.)  General Monck was no remote commander, but a front line leader who was on site and remained so for a considerable period.  According to James Thompson, he:

is said to have occupied the house at the foot of the Overgate, next the High Street [and] was detained for some weeks in Dundee by illness, which even his panegryrists appear to have regarded as a judgment upon the terrible service he had been engaged in. On the 19th October, he received a letter written from Inverary by the Marquis of Argyll, on hearing of the atrocities at Dundee, imploring him to assemble a Convention at some convenient place to devise means for stopping bloodshed.  To this he refused to accede without an order from Parliament.  Shortly after, he withdrew to the south with his troops, and the town was garrisoned by another body of Cromwell's troops, who conducted themselves with strict discipline and propriety. Many of the soldeirs were tradesmen, and seem to have exercised their callings, and cultivated friendly relations among the inhabitants.  Amor vincit omnia ['love conquers all'] within eight years, sixty-six of the garrison married as many of the townswomen, and 255 baptisms appear on the register as the result of these unions.
   I may mention here that my paternal grandmother's maiden name was Inglis, which leads me to suspect that she was a descendant of one of these mid-seventeenth century Scottish-English unions.

    There are occasional remainders of the darker side of the event.  When the Nethergate was dug up for road widening in 1810, vast quantities of human bones were found, buried in shallow graves and a haphazard fashion - possibly victims of Monck's shock troops.

   Whatever the extent of the killing, it seems clear that the economy and life force of Dundee were shattered by the event. Maxwell summons up an Englishman's sympathetic view of the town not long after the event:

The town did not for a long time recover from the heavy blow it had sustained by the merciless slaughter of its inhabitants, and the pitiless plunder of their goods. Its commerce was crippled and its energies prostrated, and during the rule of Cromwell it continued to be a quiet member of the Commonwealth. Richard Franck, who was
a captain of cavalry in the army that invaded Scotland, and appears from his acquaintance with the circumstances to have been present at the assault upon Dundee, made another visit to the country in 1656 on an angling expedition, and wrote an account of that peaceful enterprise, which was published some time afterwards. Upon his return journey he passed through the town, and gives a lamentable picture of its sufferings and desolation in language of inflated hyperbole, for which the old trooper might have profitably substituted a plain description. 'Deplorable Dundee!' he exclaims, 'and not to be exprest without a deluge of tears, because stormed and spoiled by the rash precipitancy of mercenaries, whose rapinous hands put a fatal period to her stately imbellishments, with the loss of many innocent lives,altogether unconcerned in that unnatural controversy Can honour shine in such bloody sacrifices, to lick up the lives of inhabitants as if by a studied revenge ? Can nothing sweeten the conqueror's sword but the reeking blood of orphans and innocents? There was wealth enough to answer their ambitions, and probably that, as soon as anything, betrayed her. Could nothing satisfy the insatiable swordbut the life of Dundee to atone as a sacrifice  Englishmen without mercy are like Christians without Christianity. Disconsolate Dundee! where the merciless conquerour stuck down his standard in streams of blood.' [The History of Old Dundee, p. 552.]

Court-Martials in the Occupying Army

   For those who wish to delve deeper into the circumstances of defeated Dundee just after the killing ceased, the court-martial records of the Parliamentary army make fascinating reading.   They are, 'The only complete records of the proceedings of any courts - martial which have survived from the Puritan Revolution,' and cover a scanty four month period. The trials are for the most part mundane, but show the army had a firm grip on its men and would not tolerate law breaking.

   Typical is the charge against Thomas Edgecouf (17th September), accused of stealing six cows, three miles outside the burgh.  At the other end of the scale are George Scutter and Laurence Milton of Captain Lee's troop, 'accus'd about the killing of a boy'.  The detail is missing, but the men were said to have taken the boy unwillingly on the back of a horse and then threw him violently off, causing his death.  They were apparently acquitted, due to lack of evidence (the boy may not have died).  Breaking orders of discipline, plus incidents of blashpemy, fornication and common disorder, are also recorded, and this more detailed incident:

Information of Major Dorney against Henry Sparkes, corporall to Major Rede in Col. Fenwick's regiment, David Pew and John Humphries. Read as followeth: The information of Major Henry Dorney taken upon oath in the Court Marshall, Sept. 19, 1651. That yesterday, being Thursday the 18 instant, haveing newly given out orders on the churchyard at Dundee, he heard a souldier whose name is David Pew (as he cals himself being with them that play'd), swearing in a grosse manner, which to his remembrance was 'by God's bloud and wounds'; that afterwards about 11 of the clock att night, walking to view the guards neere the Lt. Generall's quarters in Dundee, he heard much swearing amongst a company of souldiers, and amongst the rest hee looked in at a window and tooke particular notice of 2, whose names are (as hee is since inform'd), John Humphryes and Henry Sparkes, to be more emenently swearing 'by God,' or 'as God shall judge mee,' with other oathes and execrations to that effect. 
Hen: Dorney. Question. Whether to proceede against Corporall Henry Sparkes, being of another garrison? Resolved in the affirmative.
Uppon debate by the testimony of Major Dorney and others, Henry Sparkes, David Pew and John Humphries were found guilty of swearing, and theruppon sentenc't:  To bee gagy'd (sitting uppon the horse) for an hower, with their faults written uppon their backs, vizte. For swearing.
Wm. Wells call'd in about striking of Capt. Lee, who hindred him from carrying away of bookes. Left to Capt. Lee to take his submission. Francis Mencour of Capt. Fitche's company in regiment, inform'd against by Capt. Dawborne, who mett him with 3 seamen carrying a sayle of a shippe. Seamen's names Geo. Maners, Jo. Mason, and Wm. Hamonds, belonging to Capt. Wheeler, saves, that they fetch't itt out of an house where noe body dwelt. Souldier sayes that itt was in his Landladyes house. That hee knew nott that the plunder of the towne was done.
Dismis't with a sharpe reproof.

   Despite the probably large scale distribution of wealth among the occupiers, some troopers were allegedly not adverse to trying to extort more from the subjugated locals.   A violent incident occurred at Dronley, between Auchterhouse and Muirhead, to the north-west of Dundee.  On Friday 19th September 1651 a corporal named Phillip Rackham had been in the house of Robert Haye at Dronley when he saw two troopers forcibly driving two local men before them.  One of the soldiers knocked down a Scot with his pistol '3 severall times'.  Rackham followed the men and saw them steal a horse.  He then sent word to Dundee, where his criminal countrymen were captured.

   A local man named Andrew Tindall, who had been gathering peat and fowls with his father in law near Dronley, was returning home to Newtyle when they met two English troopers around 4 p.m. on 19th September.  The soldiers were identified later as Henry Brigges and Brian Carter.  One of the troops accosted Tindall and threatened him:  'You Scottish roge, give's your mony.'  And he threatened to pistol whip him.  The locals were then robbed.  James Terry, the father in law, said he was struck over the head several times by the flat of Carter's sword, after which he was deprived of 1s. 6d. and the soldiers rode away.

   The two thieving soldiers were tried and convicted by the 'Article of Misdemeanour'.  Their punishment was as follows:

Tryed and found guilty by testimony and their owne confession of plundering and offering violence to the persons of two countrymen. Resolved that Brian Carter and Henry Brigges bee brought from the prison, with ropes about their neckes, and their faults uppon their brests, to the gallowes att the time of the parade, and being tide uppe by the neck receive 30 stripes appeece uppon their bare backes. Afterwards to aske forgivenesse uppon their knees for the injury done to the poore men and the army. And after that to bee kept with bread and water till they have restor'd fower fold to the countrymen for what they have taken away.

[Further extracts from these records may be included in future posts.]

The Man Monck, Before and After

   For some people, the sucessful career and life of Monck after his part in the wars will make for depressing assurance that, more often than not, great deeds of bloodshed do not adversely affect the principal aggressors.  George Monck was born in Devon in 1608.  He served as a solider in Spain and France, and other places, at one time under the flag of the Prince of Orange.  Following service with the crown in the British Isles and imprisonment, he eventually switched sides and fought for Parliamentary forces.  In July 1650, Monck was given command of a regiment of foot in Cromwell's army for the invasion of Scotland. Following the Scottish campaign, he suffered a downturn in health and returned to England in February 1652.He was back in Scotland two years later and suppressed a Royalist uprising.  Eight years later the death of Cromwell and significant changes in the political landscape allowed him to reconcile with the crown and he became an important supported of Charles II.

   When the restored King landed at Dover on 25 May, Monck was the first to greet him as he came ashore. He was invested with the Order of the Garter the following day.  For his role in the Restoration, Monck was appointed captain-general of the army and created Earl of Torrington and Duke of Albemarle.  He died in January 1670 and received a state funeral.  His son Christopher died childless and the earldom and dukedom became extinct.

  Consideration of the man must be seen, to some extent, through the prism of his times. You could apply the saying given by G. K. Chesterson (through the mouth of Father Brown) about another man of blood from the same century, Graham of Claverhouse: for all the calumny heaped upon the man, he was something less than the demonised caricature he was sometimes characterised as, and in the end he was a dragoon, not a dragon. Yet, the collective memory of Dundee may take a long time yet to forgive him and his associates.

Murderer or merely professional soldier?

Treasure in the Tay?

   It is rumoured that Dundee's captured wealth was so immense that all of Monck's troops gained £60 out of the pillage. (The total was £2.5 million Scots, according to one source.) Dr Gamble, Monck's chaplain, who wrote an account of the campaign stated that the concentrated wealth had been bolstered by those Royalists bringing in their loot from Edinburgh and other places. Sixty vessels of the town were captured in the harbour, but allegedly lost on the bar of the Tay when the English forces sought to take them away. 

   Six years ago there were press reports regarding plans to locate the ships which Monck's forces were taking bath to Leith and which had sunk in the mouth of the Tay.  Marine archaeologist Neil Cunningham Dobson (of Odyssey Marine Exploration) reckoned that the submerged hoard could be estimated at a value of £2.5 billion. Historic Scotland cautiously agreed that the presence of sunken ships was a possibility in the vicinity.  This plan came a decade after businessman Gary Alsopp also set forward a scheme to explore the underwater area, but it cam to nothing due to funding issues.  However, Dundee city archivist cautiously advised at the time of Dobson's plan that there was no hard and fast evidence about the wrecks and there was no confirmation in the scrupulous contemporary Cromwellian records about sinkings.  The story, he thought, was 'part of Dundee's folklore-.  No gfull-scale exploration appears to have ensued.

   A decade before this theCoventry based exploration company Internet Subsea Explorer, which conducted a ten week survey of the area. The notion of treasure was stirred up by plans for an underwater survey of the mouth of the Tay, carried out in conjunction with Scottish National Heritage. A canonball was brought up to the surface, but (as far as I know) there was no treasure recovered.

Selected Sources

A. Colville, Dundee Delineated (Dundee, 1822).

Godfrey Davies, ed., 'Dundee Court-Martial Records, 1651', Publications of the Scottish History Society, Vol. 19, Miscellany, vol. 3.

S. G. E. Lythe, Life and Labour in Dundee, From the Reformation to the Civil War, Abertay Historical Publication No. 5, 1958.

Alexander Maxwell, The History of Old Dundee (Edinburgh, 1884).

Rev. Robert Small, The (Old) Statistical Account of Dundee, 1792.

James Thompson, The History of Dundee (new edition, Dundee, 1974).


Golden Touch in Treasure Hunt (BBC News)

Friday, 2 November 2018

The Cradle, or Dark Lady, of Logie

   Bear with me, this is going to be a long one.  In the previous piece, I wrote about the places in Angus named Logie and their possible early Christian associations.  This post concentrates on the one now in Dundee (historically a parish between Dundee and Liff).  More particularly, this is a story connected with Logie House, a vanished manor house in the area.

    The legend of the estate involved another, strange property called Cradle House and its sad inhabitant, an Indian lady of high birth, though the legend is perhaps not all it seems  The fullest account of the house, and also its traditions, comes from chapter 7 of Lochee, As It Was and Is, written by Alexander Elliot and published in 1911. I give his full version at thebottom of this article,  plus another more literary version contained in Wilson's Tales of Borders and of Scotland.  Out of mercy for any prospective readers I have severely edited the latter, but it's still presented here as a curiosity item and not to be taken as a motherlode of forgotten history!

The History of the House and Estate of Logie

   According to the historian Alexander Warden (Angus or Forfarshire, vol. 4, 1881 p. 193), part of the lands of Logie passed, at the Reformation, to the Earl of Gowrie and then to Sir David Murray, followed by John Hunter (who also owned the neighbouring estate of Balgay). The other part of the estate of Logie belonged to Dundee.  Elliot states that, prior to 1660, one part was still in the hands of this family, being held by David Hunter of Balgay.  In that year Hunter sold  'the lands and Manor Place of Logie, near Dundee, together with part of Balgay known as Longforebank' to Sir Alexander Wedderburn, first of Blackness, Town Clerk of Dundee.  Logie was sold to Dundee, but bought back by Sir John's son, another Sir Alexander, in 1719.

  The history of ownership of the estate (possibly in several parts), with the manor house, was summed up by Alexander Elliot:

Alexander Read of Turfbeg having married Elizabeth Wedderburn, eldest daughter of Sir Alexander Wedderburn, fourth baronet of Blackness, purchased Logie and Longforebank from that gentleman in 1722. Of their sons, of whom they had several, Alexander succeeded to the estate. He married Annie, daughter of Robert Fletcher of Ballinshoe. Indeed, the Wedderburns, the Fletchers, and the Reads appear to have been closely allied by marriage. Sir Alexander Wedderburn of Blackness, who died in 1675, was wedded to Dame Matilda Fletcher; Alexander Read and Elizabeth Wedderburn of Turfbeg were married in 1715; and Alexander Read and Ann Fletcher were united in 1756. The Fletchers have inaccurately been credited with the erection of the mansion. 
   The house appears to have been built and altered in stages by the Read family between 1722 and 1778.  These Reads, or Reids, were related to the Fletchers of Balinscho, and the Reids of Cairnie (near Arbroath).  The last of this family was Fletcher Reid, after which the house passed to Isaac Watt, a merchant of Dundee.  Then, in 1820,  house and some lands went to Major Fyffe (or Fife) of Monikie and a portion of the estate passed to Mrs Anderson of Balgay.  From Fyffe the house went to James Watt, then owners named Cleghorn and Black.

   The house began to be dismantled in 1905, a process which continued piecemeal for some time.  Pior to the First World War,  Elliot wrote, 'The rock upon which this interesting edifice stood is undergoing excavation to allow of the extension of Black Street to Lochee Road.'

John Wood's Plan of the Town of Dundee, 1821, showing Logie House
Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Dark Lady of the Cradle House

   The legend of Logie concerns the supposed high-born Indian wife of the owner of Logie estate, who was neglected by her husband in Scotland and left to die of neglect in a strange isolated property on the estate of Logie.  This strange house was named Cradle House, conspicuous because of its off design, and it was demolished in the early 19th century.  The tale also features - as villain - a young man name Fletcher Reid, though Alexander Elliot, in the passage given below, thinks that this man's uncle was the actual antagonist in the story and goes some distance towards investigating the truth.

   James Myles (in Rambles in Forfarshire, 1850, p. 286) gives a short notice of the house and its peculiarities:

In the year 1812, a few yards beyond Logie farm was to be seen a dull, unsheltered, disagreeable looking house of two stories. This house, from having a pavilion formed roof and a short chimney stalk of two flues perched on the top of each of its four corners, was familiarly known as the “Cradle House,” from some fancied resemblance it bore to that useful piece of family furniture, Tradition, not always infallible, says it was built by a former proprietor of Logie for the reception of an East India lady of some rank whom he had seduced, brought here, and then abandoned. There are several stories related about this heartless affair, but all of them are so mixed with the marvellous and incredible as to soar beyond belief.

Logie Street in the mid 20th century, with the wall of Logie Graveyard on the right.

Foreign Interest in Logie's House of Horror

   By the beginning of the 20th century the story of Cradle House had spead far and wide, as exampled by this coverage in the Tuapeka Times, New Zealand, 11th February, 1905:

The Aftermath, The Truth?

   Some of the descendants of the 'Black Lady of Logie' are supposed to have lived in Annfield House in Dundee, several miles south of the site of Logie House.  This building still survives, stranded in a sea of surrounding tenements. All things considered, the story of the Cradle House and Indian princess of Logie sound extremely flimsy, though there may be some truth buried in the story, somewhere. There is further scope for unearthing the truth, for anyone who has the time and inclination.   Tradition seems to state that the Indian princess haunts the area, but this is not certain. 

   Geoff Holder resurrects the story and admirably summarises the strands of the legend in Haunted Dundee (2012, pp. 83-5), giving the 'facts' a refreshingly sceptical shake up.  The Cradle itself he thinks may have been an elaborate summer house, whose ornate Asian architecture possibly went into the melting pot of ingredients which furnished the legend.  As for the poor Indian lady herself, she probably did not exist.  But he gives us this intriguing thought: 'A post-modern reading may see her as a symbol of the unequal and fractious relationship between Dundee and its flax suppliers in India.'  And he adds, pertinently, 'There are absolutely no recorded sightings of the phantom.'

Story Version #1:  Lochee - As it Was and Is (1911), Alexander Elliot

   The story of the Cradle of Logie and the tragedy with which it is associated has long been a fertile theme upon which the imagination could dwell and the heart go out in sympathy towards the helpless creature who is said to have been the victim. The Cradle House in its time was a weird object in the neighbourhood. It was situated in a hollow some distance west from the gardens, and its foundations were visible long after it became untenanted. Shunned by day, it was regarded with consummate dread after dark. The tale of its erection and the dastardly purpose to which it was put has often been told with a degree of romance, in the circumstances altogether excusable. Taken in the concrete, and making due allowance for the vagaries of a credulous time, the wonder is, if the incidents related were founded upon fact, that no real tangible record of them has been kept. Thomson, adverting to the Cradle, with some caution, says, "it seems to have been erected by a former owner of Logie for the reception of an Indian lady whom he had seduced, brought here, and then abandoned." But he does not penetrate the veil, and gives no clue to the perpetrator of the deed. He suggests that the statements evidently are exaggerated, and declares that "there are several stories related in connection with the affair, but all of them are so mixed with the marvellous and incredible as to stretch beyond belief." It is just the marvellous and the incredible that appeal to the superstitious mind, and from which the most fantastic and unreliable narratives are woven. The popular belief is that Fletcher Read, the proprietor of the mansion of Logie at the beginning of the nineteenth century, was accused of the neglect and ill-treatment of his wife, an Indian lady of high caste, and that because of his exalted social status he was permitted to go unpunished. Having regard to Fletcher Read's professional career, it is averred that he was engaged in military service in India under the East India Company.

  In his capacity as an officer of rank, narrators say, he had ample opportunity of mingling amongst and becoming intimate with members of the most dignified and exclusive circles. Here the spell of romance creepeth in. A prince, said to be fabulously wealthy, was blessed with a beautiful daughter. To her, rumour avers, Fletcher Read professed ardent attachment. He wooed and was rewarded, not only with her hand, but, if we are to believe all that has been said and written, with her weight in gold added thereto as luck measure. The marriage, it is presumed, was duly solemnised amid great rejoicing and accompanied by the gorgeous pageantry and splendour of an Indian Court.

  As the young lady was a favourite child, the Prince, exhibiting much solicitude for her welfare, presumably gave expression to his sentiments. To allay his fears, which he possibly alleged were groundless, the wily husband declared that he would cherish his newly-made wife as tenderly as if she were a child in a cradle. That is the kernel of the story, and it finishes there as far as India and the lady are concerned. The curtain rises upon a different scene—cold, and bleak, and bare compared to the sumptuous clime of a sunny land. Faithful to his promise, so runneth the story, Fletcher Read brought his wife to his Scottish home. It is not recorded how she was received by his staid relatives. Possibly she was regarded as a rara avis, and, for the time being, treated as such. It is said that her portrait is still in existence, either as a painting of some size or in the shape of a cameo, possibly both. This need not of a truth be gainsaid, as one of the ladies of the Read family had a taste for fine art, and was an adept at the brush and palette. In the long run it seems, if not discarded altogether, the Princess was neglected. A small house, detached and situated some distance from the mansion, had been built for her reception. Pavilion-shaped, the corner of each elevation terminated in a short chimney, and gave it the fancied semblance of a cradle. Despite protests and loving endearments on her part, she was compelled to make the Cradle her home, and live separate from her husband, who by this means appeased his own conscience, and fulfilled the promise he made to the Prince, whilst at the same time he got rid of her importunities. During the lady's sojourn in the Cradle House her personal liberty, to all intents and purposes, was as much curtailed as if she had been a prisoner. It is also stated that an ayah had accompanied her from India as an attendant; and that the Prince, suspecting the integrity of his son-in-law, sent an emissary to Dundee on a mission of espionage.

   Taking a lodging in Scouringburn, he kept in touch with the lady while she lived. At her death, so the story runs, the ayah and the emissary disappeared, none knew whither, and probably no one cared. Nor are we vouchsafed the slightest knowledge that the husband had apprised his relative of the demise of his daughter. It is probable, for prudential reasons, he did—not as a matter of duty, we would infer, but rather of policy and self-interest. Over this and a great deal more there is complete obscurity. In all probability the remains of the unfortunate Indian Princess were interred in the neighbouring churchyard of Logie.

   At all events, Fletcher Read in due time is accredited with having received intelligence of the death of the Prince, his father-in-law, accompanied by an addendum that, as he was heir to a vast fortune, he should repair to India and claim it. Deceived by specious representations, sanguine and expectant, shall we say, he arrived in due course at his destination. Arrangements were made for his reception, and a cavalcade befitting his rank awaited him. Unsuspectingly he was escorted into the interior—and, once again, dense obscuration sets in. Read, it is averred, was heard of no more. If, however, we are to believe certain narrators, he departed this life in a manner more violent than the poor lady he is said to have so cruelly deceived.

   Thus, briefly, according to popular dicta, the fateful story of the hapless Princess is outlined. In so far as it applies to that unfortunate personage there may be, and possibly is, much truth in it; but, on the other hand, there is just the possibility that, through lapse of time and the vagaries of imaginative writers, the details may have been greatly magnified, even distorted.  In view, however, of recent inquiry several questions bearing on certain phases of the mystery present themselves. In the first place, are we to take for granted that Fletcher Read in reality was the person indicated in the narrative as having mendaciously deceived the lady? Secondly, was he ever in India? If so, did he ever discharge the duty of an officer in the service of the East India Company ? And, thirdly, if he was not the person described in the narrative, who might that individual be?

   In answer to the first query, we have to state that we have been unable to discover evidence to establish in any way the averment that Fletcher Read ever was married to the daughter of an Indian Prince; or, further, that he had been connected with the Cradle House and its unhappy associations. On the con­trary, we have abundant proof of his marriage to another lady altogether. Amongst the charters in the Dundee Burgh Court Room there is preserved a deed of annuity drawn up by Thomas Marr, a well-known local lawyer in his day, and dated 4th June 1804, in favour of "Jean Scott, my spouse." The document is signed "Fletcher Read," in clear, legible characters. Could any­thing be more explicit? It is understood that the lady referred to in the document was a member of an influential family con­nected with the immediate neighbourhood.

   In reply to the second query, it is almost absurd to assert that Fletcher Read ever was in India, and that he was engaged in active service as a soldier. The fact is his military experience never extended beyond a lieutenancy in the Angus Fencibles and Forfar and Kincardine Militia under Colonel Riddoch. In Dundee he was known as a gay, heedless man about town, and a member of convivial and sporting coteries. Nor need it be denied that, along with several boon companions, including two foolish seamen who belonged to Lochee, he took a leading part in an outrage on public decency by enacting the Day of Judgment in Logie Churchyard—an escapade, too, very much misrepresented and inflated—and was guilty of other silly and questionable misdemeanours.

   Let us turn to the manner of Fletcher Read's death. It is recorded that it .was a violent one, and was carried out at the behest of his reputed wife's kinsfolk in India. The tale has been accepted as veracious for a century at least, and the act was regarded as one of retributive justice. Now, we will show that the reverse is the case. If there was violence of any kind at his passing it was not of the type represented by the sensational storyteller, but was due rather to the free-and-easy bibulous habits of the time. The following extract from the Scots Magazine, 1807, succinctly sums up the manner of his departure, viz.:—

At Shepperton, Surrey, January 22, Fletcher Read, a gentleman well known in the sporting world. He had spent the previous evening with some convivial friends, and was found dead in his bed on the ensuing morning by his servant, having, it is supposed, died through suffocation.

   The foregoing, it is hoped, will dispel some of the aspersions cast upon the character of a man who, whatever his follies, did not deserve to be stigmatised because of the sins and short­comings of someone else.

   Now we come to the third query. If it was not Fletcher Read who ill-treated the daughter of the Indian Prince, who was the person ? An indication is made in the direction of another member of the family altogether, and antedates the so-called Fletcher Read episode by many years. The uncle of Fletcher Read Avas Major Fletcher, who was long in India, and who eventually rose to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the Com­pany's service. Major Fletcher was brother of Mrs Alexander Read of Logie, and a close intimacy seems to have existed between them. The presumption therefore is that, instead of the nephew—the son of a favourite sister—it was the uncle who should bear the burthen of the odium attached to the Indian lady's ill-treatment and premature death. In the desire for empire it is well known that little respect was paid to the rights and privileges of the natives of India, and it is equally an assured fact that many acts of violence and injustice were perpetrated upon the conquered races. Major Fletcher in all probability shared the prevailing indifference, and held in light esteem any act he might commit, no matter how gross.

   If Major Fletcher brought the Indian lady to Logie—which he possibly did before he acquired the estate of Lindertis, near Kirriemuir—he must have done so on the sufferance of his brother-in-law, Alexander Read, and his wife, both of whom occupied Logie long after the Major had disappeared. The inference, therefore, is that the Major had resided at Logie as a member of the family for a time sufficiently lengthy to cover the period of the Cradle incident. If Major Fletcher was the husband of the poor lady—and everything points in the direction that he was—then her death must have taken place previous to 1780. In that year we find him arranging for the disposal of his worldly affairs in favour of John Wedderburn, of London. The deed, according to the "Wedderburn Records," is dated January 13, and is recorded in the Books of Council and Session, 29th Feb. 1780. The Major is described as Thomas Fletcher, Esq. of Lindertis, Lieutenant-Colonel in the service of the East India Merchant Company, and amongst other trustees named is Mrs Ann Hunter alias Fletcher, his spouse. Again, a disposition is confirmed on 9th December 1799 to John Wedderburn of several properties, including Lindertis, by the only surviving trustees of the late Thomas Fletcher. Neither the date of his death nor the manner by which it was encompassed has been ascertained as far as research has gone.

   After the death of the Princess, Major Fletcher, it is under­stood, married Ann Hunter, daughter of the Laird of Blackness, who was one of his trustees. When the Major departed for India it appears that she accompanied him. Such, however, was the hostility of the friends of the deceased Princess, who were in waiting, that it is told she had to be concealed to escape their fury. No satisfactory explanation of the Major's death is vouchsafed. The popular version is that it was one of retribution, suffered at the hands of outraged kinsfolk, whilst a writer states that he was killed in an encounter with the celebrated Hyder Ali, by whom he was cut to pieces. There is just the probability that the manner of Major Fletcher's end having reached the public in a garbled form, had seized upon the popular imagination, and become warped and distorted into the version commonly accepted. Verily the story from beginning to end is a bit of a tangle, unravel it who may.

Hyder Ali Khan (d. 1782), sultan of Mysore, southern India.

   Subsequently, after her return home, Mrs Fletcher became the wife of Mr Thomas Mylne, the proprietor of Mylnefield, near Invergowrie. It is also averred that the Princess left two children, who were taken in charge by their stepmother and educated. In after years, it was rumoured, they went to India, where they attached themselves to their mother's people. After the death of Mr Mylne and the disposal of the estate to another owner, Mrs Mylne resided in the Dowager House at Kingoodie, where she continued to live until a more suitable residence on the Blackness estate was provided for her. This mansion, which is still extant, though its once beautiful grounds are covered with streets and modern tenements, was known as Annfield, the house and adjoining street being named after the lady. Mrs Mylne died in 1852 at the great age of 103 years. Such, therefore, is the story of the "Dark Lady of Logie," presented in a new light, and, it is hoped, divested of some of its weird mystery.

    From the foregoing brief narrative the impartial reader will be enabled to discriminate between parties, and doubtless, despite the illusions of romance, apportion the blame to those who ought in fairness to bear it. (note.—For the information relating to the Dark Lady's children and their residence with their stepmother, Mrs Mylne, at Kingoodie, circumstances not hitherto noticed, and other valuable hints, I am indebted to Mr A. Hutcheson, F. S.A.Scot., Broughty Ferry, who has had special opportunities of knowing the case and attendant incidents.—A. E.)

Alexander Hutcheson

Story Version #2, Vol. 23, Wilson's Tales of the Borders and of Scotland, Alexander Leighton

  It was in my very early years that I saw the Cradle, and heard, imperfectly, its tale from my mother; but her account was comparatively meagre. I sought long for details; nor was I by any means successful till I fell in with a man named Aminadab Fairweather, a resident at the Scouring Burn, in Dundee, who was in the habit of frequenting Logie House, and who, though very old, remembered many of the circumstances.

   Mr. Fletcher of Lindertes,[*] who was proprietor of the mansion, was the greatest epicurean and glossogaster that ever lived since Leontine times. Then a woman called Jenny McPherson, who had in early life, like "a good Scotch louse," who "aye travels south," found her way from Lochaber to London, where she had got into George's kitchen, and learned something better than to make sour kraut, was the individual who administered to her master's epicureanism, if not gulosity. Nay, it was said she had a hand in the tragedy of the Cradle; but, however that may be, it is certain she was deep in the confidences of Fletcher. But then Mrs. McPherson... delighted in having [friends in Logie House.] It happened that our said Aminadab was one of those favoured individuals; and it is lucky for this generation that he was, for if he had not been, there would assuredly have been no records of the Cradle and the black lady.

[*: Mr. Fletcher had also the property of Balinsloe as well as Logie. They've all passed into other hands.]

   It was in a little parlour off the big kitchen that Janet received her henchmen. And was there ever man so happy as our good Aminadab?--and that for several human reasons, whereof the first was certainly the Logie flesh-pots; the second, the stories about the romantic place wherewith she contrived to garnish and spice these savoury mouthfuls... And their happiness would certainly have been complete if it had not been--at least in the case of Aminadab--that it could be enjoyed only by passing through that grim medium, a churchyard... Aminadab could not get to the holy of holies except by passing through Logie kirkyard, a small and most romantic Golgotha, on the left of the road leading to Lochee, whose inhabitants it contained, and which was so limited and crowded, that one might prefigure it as one of those holes or dungeons in Michael Angelo's pictures, belching forth spirits in the shape of inverted tadpoles, the tail uppermost, and yet representing ascending sparks. The wickets that surrounded Logie House--lying as it does upon the south side of Balgay Hill, and flanked on the east by a deep gully, wherethrough runs a small stream, which, so far as I know, has no name--were locked at night. The terrors of this place, at the late hours when these said henchmen behoved to seek their savoury rewards, were the only drawback to Aminadab's supreme bliss.

   No churchyard, except those of Judea, was ever invested with such terrors... There was, in that small place of skulls, a rehearsal of the great day [of Resurrection]. We hear little of these freaks now-a-days; but it was different then, when men made themselves demons by drink. One night William Maule of Panmure, then in his days of graceless frolic; Fletcher Read, the nephew of the laird, and subsequently the laird himself, of Logie; Rob Thornton, the merchant, Dudhope, and other kindred spirits... sallied drunk from the inn. The story goes that the night was dark, and there stood at the door a hearse, which had that day conveyed to the "howf," now about to be shut up because of its offence against the nostrils of men who are not destined to need a grave, the wife of an inconsolable husband and the mother of children; and thereupon came from Maule's mouth--for wickedness will seek its playful function in a pun--the proposition that the bacchanals should have a rehearsal in the kirkyard of Logie.

   They all mounted the hearse, Panmure being driver... The night was as dark... and the hearse, as it slowly wended its way up the road to Lochee, every now and then pouring forth from its dark inside peals of laughter. The travellers on the road look with wide eyes at the grim apparition, and flee. They arrive at the rough five-bar stile; it is thrown back, and the hearse is driven into the place of the dead...

   Now was the time for the trumpet-call,  sounded by...Panmure.

   "Justice," cried Maule. "Stand out there, Bob Thornton, and answer for the sins done in the body."  Thornton stands forth shrieking for the said mercy.

   "Was not you, sir, last night, of the time of the past world, in the inn kept by Sandy Morren... drinking and swearing?"

   "I was."

   "Then down with you to the pit which has no bottom whatsomever."

And Thornton disappears in the hollow not far from where the brick Cradle stands.

"Stand forth, Fletcher Read."

   "Weren't you, sir, art and part in confining in yonder dungeon the poor unfortunate black lady, whereby she was murdered by that villain of an uncle of yours, Fletcher of Lindertes?"

   "I was."

   "Down with you to the pit and the lake of brimstone."

   And down he went into the same valley.

"Stand forth, Dudhope."

  "Were not you, sir, seen, on the 21st of December of the late dynasty of time, in the company of one of these denizens of Rougedom in the Overgate, that disgrace of the last world, for which it has very properly been burnt up like a scroll of Sandy Riddoch's peculations?"

"I was."

   "Then down to the pit."

   And so on with the rest, till there were no more to go down... The horn having sounded, there stood forth a figure that did not belong to this crowd of sinners. It was a woman dressed in dark clothes, with a black bonnet, and an umbrella in her hand. How the great God can show his power over the little god, man! The woman was no other than a Mrs. Geddes of Lochee, who, having got a little too much at the Scouring Burn, had, on her way home, slipped into the resting-place of her husband, who had been buried only a week before, and having got drowsy, had fallen asleep on the flat stone which covered him. In a half dreamy state she had seen all this terrible mummery--no mummery to her; for she thought it real... And Maule, now getting terrified through the haze of his drunkenness, cried out, "Who are you?"

   "Mrs. Geddes, Johnnie Geddes's wife, o' the village o' Lochee... I hae been a great sinner. I kept company wi' Sandy Simpson when Johnnie was living, and came here to greet owre his grave."

   "A woman!" cried Maule; "then to heaven as fast as your wings will carry you."

    Hurrying into the hearse, the party were in a few minutes posting to Dundee in solemn silence, where they arrived about two o'clock, not to resume their orgies, but to separate each for his home, with the elements in him of a sense of retribution, not forgotten for many a day.

    After hearing the previous tale, Mrs McPherson asks her friend Aminadab if he knows any traditions about the strangely shaped Cradle House.  She did indeed and related how her master found a wife in India.  

   "You know, Aminadab, that my master came from Bombay some years ago, and brought home with him a black wife. Dear, good soul--so kind, so timid, so cheerful too; but, Heaven help me, what could I do?--for you know Mr. Fletcher is a terrible man. He does not fear the face of clay; and the scowl upon his face when he is in his moods is terrible. I am bound to obey."

   "But what of her?" said Aminadab. "It's no surely she who is in the horrid hole?"
"Ah well, then, we have it all among the servants how Mr. Fletcher got my lady. He was a great man in Bombay--governor, I think, or something near that--and my lady was the only daughter of the Nawab or Nabob of some kingdom near Bombay--I forget the strange Indian name. She was the very petted child of her father; and when Mr. Fletcher saw her, she was running about the palace like a wild, playful creature... But the mighty Nabob was unwilling to give her to the white-faced lover, even though he was the governor of Bombay, forbye having Balinsloe and Lindertes in Scotland too...Yet, strange enough too, the Nabob had promised the man who should marry his daughter the weight of herself in fine Indian gold, weighed in a balance, as her tocher. The creature was small, and light, and lithe, and could not weigh much."

   "My master was keen for the match; but the Nabob was shy of the white face. And here's a curious thing--I got it from my lady herself. She said the Nabob, her papa, as she called him--for, just like us here, they have kindly words and real human feelings--made a bargain with my master, that if he took her away out of India to where the big woman they call the Company lives, he would be kind to her, and 'treat her as he would do a child which is rocked in a cradle.'"

   "That bargain they made him sign with blood drawn just right over his heart; and the Nabob signed, too, for the weight of gold and the jewels. Then came the marriage. They had only been a few months married, when Mr. Fletcher's health having failed him,and ... he came home with his wife, and bought this bonnie place.

  The new Mrs Fletcher, Kalee, came with her servant named Agita, or Adi, but neither this familiarity nor her husband made her happy.  Despite adoring her husband and giving him two young sons, he quickly grew to despise her and imprisoned her in a dungeon under Cradle House. The princess at length died in confinement.  She was secretly buried in Logie Kirkyard.  But fate caught up with the evil Fletcher when he was called back to India.

"Ay, Aminadab, he was forced to go by the Government; but maybe the Government was only like a thing that is moved by the storm, and cuts in twain, where its own silly power could do nothing. Before he went, he married a beautiful little woman,[*] perhaps the most spirited in the shire, white as Kalee was black, and come, too, of gentle blood. Why did she marry this man? Had she not heard of the fate of Kalee? Had she not seen the Cradle (still standing in the hollow of the hill)? No doubt; but woman will go through worse storms than man's passion to get to the goal of wealth and honour. Then there is a frenzy in woman, Aminadab. She is like the boys, who seek danger for its own sake, and will skim on skates the rim of the black pool that descends from the film of ice down to the bubbling well of death below. Women have an ambition to tame wild men; ay, even wild men have a charm for them, which the tame sons of prudence and industry cannot inspire. So it was: they were married, and he took her to India."

[*: Afterwards, as I have heard, the wife of Milne of Milneford. She lived till nearly a hundred.]

   Fletcher - for very far-fetched reasons - ended up in the hands of the relatives of his first, Indian wife and was summarily executed by them. His second, Scottish wife escaped back to her homeland.

The story of Fletcher has died away in Angus; but at one time it was in every mouth, and many a head was shaken as the Sunday loiterers from Dundee and Lochee passed by the Cradle in their walks on Balgay Hill. I have heard that it was demolished as a disgrace to Scotland somewhere about 1810 or 1812. The hollow where the ruins stood is quite visible yet, and the old circumambulating ghost, which, by-the-bye, has unfortunately a white face, is not yet laid.

Monday, 29 October 2018

Logie in Angus - Three Places, One Name


The Three Logies of Angus

There are three places in Angus which bear the name Logie. Two of these are - or were at one time - parishes, located at opposite ends of the county.  The northerly Logie is 5 miles north-west of Montrose, and indeed was originally known as Logie-Montrose.  This parish (which borders the Mearns) subsumed the neighbouring parish of Pert around the year 1610 and became Logie-Pert.  Another former designation of Logie was Over Inchbrayock.  However, its very earliest designation was Ecclesia de login cuthel.  Thomas Owen Clancy (cited below), tentatively links this second element with Gaelic còmhdhal/Scots couthal ‘open air court’.

Logie Pert

   Logie House, Kirriemuir, is a modified 16th century tower house, which I suppose just falls short of designation as a castle.  The laird's house, a little to the south of the town, has an 18th century walled garden which contains a herb garden, and is open to the public.  The estate was, for centuries, a property of the family of Kinloch.

   According to the Rev J. G. Mc Pherson in Strathmore, Past and Present (Perth, 1885. p. 225):

The family of Kinloch of Logie may be traced to the twelfth, if not to the ninth, century. There is a charter extant which was confirmed by William the Lion to Sir John de Kinloch. One of the family was raised to the high position of physician to King James the Sixth. The baronetcy was forfeited after the battle of Culloden. On the passing of the General Police Act, Colonel Kinloch of Logie was appointed the first Inspector of that force in the counties and burghs in Scotland. The house of Logie stands about a mile south of the town. It is surrounded by the largest trees in the parish. One ash-tree measures twenty-one feet in circumference. Irrigation was very' extensively and successfully practised by Mr. Kinloch in 1770.
Logie House, Kirriemuir


The Place-name - Ancient Church Sites

The name Logie was generally believed to be Gaelic and appears to connote 'hollow' or low-lying ground', probably deriving from Logaigh, later Lagaigh. The situation of the church of Logie (Pert) suits this, sitting in a conclavity near the River North Esk. However, Thomas Owen Clancy in a recent article ('Logie: an ecclesiastical place-name element in eastern Scotland,' The Journal of Scottish Name Studies, 10, 2016) convincingly argues that 'the term which actually underlies
some of the eastern logie names was *login ‘ecclesiastical site, church’, a productive and hitherto undetected ecclesiastical place-name element in eastern Scotland'. This seems particularly significant where the name is cognate with recognisable ancient parishes. It has a connection with the Latin locus, signifying 'holy place'.

   In the case of Logie-Dundee, the heart of the parish was a dell which now forms the route of Lochee Road, between the rising ground on either side which culminates in the hills of Balgay and the Law.  The parish church, however, which may be a very ancient Christian site, is situated on  a small but prominent hill on one side of the low lying road.  Here we may have an unrecognised, very early Pictish Christian settlement.  Topographic and other studies might in  time relate this place possibly with the supposed Pictish foundation at Dargie (Invergowrie) on the north coast of the River Tay, several miles to the south-west.  In the same way the northern Logie (Pert) may be linked in the sacral landscape to the nearby, attested church site on Inchbrayock.  It is unfortunate that neither of the Angus Logie parishes have yielded up archaeological confirmation of early Church activity (though some carved stones were found at Logie and were subsequently lost).


 The most southerly Logie is Angus is now firmly incorporated within the city of Dundee, but was a separate parish before being incorporated in the parish of Liff, to the west, and then part of Liff and Benvie, before being added to Dundee.  It was first mentioned in the records of the Abbey of Scone, between 1165 and 1178, when ecclesia de Logyn Dundho was confirmed as a possession of that abbey by the Bishop of St Andrews.  

   The following is taken from my previous post about Logie in Dundee (Dundee's Oldest Suburb (and its fleeting ghost).  The final word about this lost parish is still to be written.  In the meantime, the post following this one will direct the reader's attention to the mysterious legend of The Dark Lady of Logie.  

Some years ago I read a debate in a local paper about what was Dundee's earliest suburb. I seem to remember the journalist said it was the Magdalen Green, which would have been to the west of the medieval town, adjacent to the River Tay. But there was no doubt in my mind that the earliest satellite settlement was probably Logie, on the north-west road out of the burgh. Did pre-industrial up and comers migrate here to escape the sewage filled vennels of Dundee? No, it was likely an independent, adjacent settlement that in time became incorporated into the town, never quite blossoming into full identity on its own. Despite the fact that the place-name Logie seems to derive from the Gaelic word for hollow, the most prominent feature in the area is the mound which overlooks Lochee Road, and around which the latter curves around. Once the site of an old kirk, the green hill is now a forlorn graveyard stranded in an urban settling. But the landscape, a holy site on a hill once crowned by a church, gives the clue that we have here a candidate for an ancient Celtic church. Artificial mounds and small hillocks (think of St Vigeans near Arbroath) were once favoured by early ecclesiastical builders in our area. The church and lands of Logie-Dundee were gifted to the Abbey of Scone by Alexander I in the early 12th century. But little more is heard of it until it is mentioned in the Pontifical Offices of St Andrews under the year 1243. On the 11th September, 1243, Bishop David of Birnam travelled here from Benvie to the west and dedicated the kirk anew. It was part of a grand tour, a rolling programme of the bishop re-dedicating existing, ancient places of worship in the east of Scotland. (Many other Angus churches had been visited and re-dedicated in the previous year).

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Blood in the Fields and Burghs: Seventeenth Century Violence

I have always been uneasy about 17th century Scottish history.  Not one of my favourite national periods.  Part of that must come down to personal preference, but for me, the tales of Covenanters and Royalists, the civil wars which swept across Britain, and all the rest, makes me feel rather chilly.  Why?  It may be my false perception, but it seems to my way of thinking that this was the century when Scotland, for want of a better phrase, 'lost the plot' and did so big time.  Too much fundamentalism in politics and religion on all sides.  Exhaustive rounds of internecine fighting sapped the spirit and intelligence of the whole country and led to the further erosion of national identity.

   But enough of that analysis.  On the local front, beyond the periodic spasms of violence which saw Cromwellian and other forces invade the land, there has been little attention paid to individual incidents of violence which appear in the local records.  Another mis-perception of mine perhaps is the notion that the Kirk (capital K) had annihilated all opposition and infiltrated every level of life to the extent that the whole land was blanketed by a conformist control which ensured that everyone and everything remained tightly controlled.  Even if this isn't true, there is little interest in published accounts of the dark side of behaviour in Angus in this period, so what follows is a sample of crime in the 17th century.

   The first example concerns a supplication to the Privy Council in 1630 made by Patrick Lyn, son of deceased Fergus Lyn, a burgess and litster (that is, dyer), of Dundee.  During the previous January he had killed another litster named John Auchinleck in the burgh and was apprehended by the provost and magistrates and confined in the tolbooth.  But this was not simple murder.  The associates of the slain man considered that the slaughter 'wes committed be the supplicant in his awin defence, farre beside his intention and no wayes of purpose of forethought fellonie'.  Therefore they granted to him a letter of slains, renouncing all legal procedure against him for the act, on condition that within twenty days after his freedon he will depart 'furth of this kingdome and never returne againe within the same during his naturall lyffe'. If he failed to do so he would be liable to pay 20,000 merks.  But the provost and bailies of Dundee refused to ratify this agreement and refused to release Lyn within direct authorisation from Edinburgh.  The Privy Council agreed to let Patrick Lyn go; what became of him, I do not know.
Dundee in the 1830s

   Another tragedy, with details even more unguessable, is contained in the Privy Council records in 1627, recording an incident at Montrose.  A servant named Isobell Tod had been arraigned by the town authorities, for an act the previous July, whereby she 'most cruellie and unnaturallie murdreat and slew his awne barne procreat in fornicatioun, quhilk scho thairefter buryed in the Linkis of Tyok'.  Again, her ultimate fate eludes me and is possibly unknown to history.


   A more substantially recorded (but still puzzling) act of violence happened at Arbroath.  On 5th July 1627:

John Hamiltoun, Chamberlane of Arbroth, come to the said William Buchane, when as he wes going doun the Hie Street of Arbroth in a peaceable maner for doing of his laughfull effaires and thair chaised the said Williame with a chairgit pistollett in his hand throw James Guthreis barn and barnyaird of purpose to have shott and slaine him with the said pistollett, wer not by the providence of God he wes withholdin and stayed be some of the nighbours of the toun.  Thairafter the said compleaner haveing gone to the shoare for lossing of some geir, the said Johne upoun knowledge thairof follwoed him to the shore with the said pistolett and thair of new presented the same unto him to have shott him thairwith, and so hardlie persewed him thairwith that he wes forced to flee aff the shoare to ane cockeboate and to goe to the sea till the said Johne went away; and the said Johne, maligning that he had mist the compleaner at that tyme, he cryed out and avowed with manie fearefull and execrable oaths that afoir he went hame to his awin hous he sould have the compleaneris lyffe altho all the Erles and Lords in Scotland would take his pairt. 
And siclyke upoun the _  day of July instant the compleaner haveing come into the dwelling hous of Johne Wallace in Arbroth whair the said Johne without his knowledge happenned to be for the tyme and the said Johne, perceaveing him comming throw the rowne whair he wes, he or even the compleaner wer aware of him or knew he wes thair, violentlie threw ane pynt stoup at him and almost feld him thairwith, thereafter pulled forth ane whingear and preassed to have stricken him thairwith wer not he wes witholdin and stayed.  And not content heerewith he thairafter come to the compleaners buith and searched and sought him thaire to have bereft him of his lyffe, swearing and avowing that he sould never ceasse, nor meate nor drinke sould never doe him good, till he had the compleaners lyffe, and he sould take him out of his awin hous aganis all that would take his pairt.  Sua that the said compleaner wes forced to come awy quyetlie in the night for meaning of himselffe to his Majesteis Counsell, and darre not as yitt returne hame for feare of his lyffe, to the great neglect and hinder of his effaires.  

   At trial, both parties were heard and it was decided that John Hamilton be fined 40 merks, find caution in 500 merks, and to pay compensation of £4 for every witness who was a horseman and 40s for every pedestrian witness, and he was naturally forbidden to go armed in public again. 

   What spurred this leven of agression is unknown- and the sustained hatred seemed to leap out of the records.  In the end, we do not know - yet again - what happened to the players in this drama of violence.

Nineteenth Century Arbroath from the book Aberbrothock Illustrated

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Away to the East - Angus Connections in the Baltic, Scandinavia and Russia

   In a previous post (The Ogilvy Name, Near and Far) I skipped through a few instances of the descendants of one Angus  kindred appearing in eastern Europe and Scandinavia.  But the trade and contact between Scotland and this region was so longstanding that there is scope to have a look at the connection again.  In that previous post there was mention of a George Ogilvy who had a career as a military man in Scandinavia and then Russia. There is an intriguing record of him recruiting his fellow countrymen -   'ydlle and maisterlesse men' - in Dundee in 1627:  young adventurers who fancied making a go of it in far flung fields.

   There was another George Ogilvy active in the same region in the early 18th century.  He was the son of George Baron Ogilvy, Governor of Spielberg in Moravia (a son of Patrick Ogilvy of Muirtoun, and grandson of James, Lord Ogilvy of Airlie).  When the tsar Peter the Great visited Vienna in 1698 he was much struck by the young Ogilvy and took him into his service.  He later became Field Marshal and reorganised the Russian army according to German principals.  After being decorated by the King of Poland, he settled in the country, buying an estate at Sauershau.  He died at Danzig in 1710, aged 62.

The Paths of Trade, Places of Settlement

   James Mackinnon advises that there were between twenty and thirty Dundee trading vessels active in the Baltic Sea in the 16th century, importing commodities such as timber, flour, grain, wax, iron. The trade of Montrose with the Baltic is reckoned to have been insignificant in the same century, but it grew significantly in the 17th century. Incoming traders from Scandinavians came in significant numbers to Norway and Sweden in late spring and early summer.  According to James Low:

   When a Swede arrived in the harbour, his first action was to seek out the dean of guild, who always was entitled to the first chance of the cargo. Should that official consider that the burgh had plenty of timber in store, it was then offered by public roup. The bellman was sent through the town intimating that  Osmond Haversons, skipper of Christiansand, would offer his loading of timber by public roup on the following terms :—1. The buyer should pay their Magistrates' custom duties and all charges. 2. The skipper obliges himself that if he buy any victual that he should buy it from the merchant that gets his loading of timber. 3.That he will freight with none but him, providing he gives him as much as he can get from any merchant in this place.  4. That he will have no goods but what is in this place.
   The privilege, of being allowed to buy the timber generally took place in the council house before the merchants and guildry; and on the occasion of one of their meetings in 1692, the sum of twenty-four dollars was accepted by the guildry from George Ouchterlony for the privilege of securing the cargo of wood. The. Norwegians not only brought wood, but many other items for domestic use, as appears by a note of hand, of date May 1693. James Peterson, master of a Norwegian vessel, offered for sale fourteen hundred skows, twelve hundred spoons, a hundred and twenty ladles, at six shillings per dozen. Upon this occasion, on the goods being offered for sale, no offers were forthcoming, and the dean of guild was instructed to make a bargain for them himself.

  Sea borne trade accessed to the lands near the Baltic doubtless originated at a very early date and went on at a relatively small scale for centuries.  Dundee (along with Leith and Aberdeen) is recorded as having a trade connection with Danzig in 1492.  Settlement by Scots in Poland and adjacent lands is a well-studied and fascinating social phenomenom and, here and there, Angus people and their descendants can be seen peeking out of the continental records.  I would like to know the background story behind the following record.  In 1475 there was a legal agreement recorded between Wylm (William) Watson and Zander (Alexander) Gustis 'on account of a wound given by Zander to the aforesaid Wylm'.  The dispute was settled by Zander having to make a pilgrimage in atonement to the Holy Blood (at Aix la Chapelle) and the give to the Altar of the Scots at the Schwarzmönchenkirche, Church of the Black Monks, at Danzig two marks, and likewise two marks to the Church of Our Lady in Dundee.  These actions would end the men's dispute forever and ever, geendet unde gelendet.

Danzig, where many Scots settled

  Scots in these territories often kept company together and certainly had an ongoing awareness of their heritage, which sometimes meant they were accepted by the local host communities, yet only to a certain extent.  Another Dundonian in Danzig, Thomas Smart, was legally accepted as a citizen of that place in 1639, 'but he is to refrain from buying up noblemen's estates'.  One tactic by incomers was changing their name to something more local.  This was done at Danzig by Thomas Gellatlay of Dundee (who was related to the notable Weddernburn family), who started to call himself Gellentin, possibly also because locals struggled with his Scots surname.  He soon integrated, marrying Christine, daughter of local town councillor Daniel Czierenberg.  One of his grandchildren, from a second marriage, became burgomaster of Danzig.  

   At Mecklenberg there was an immigrant family who came to be called the Gertners.  In origin they were Gardiners from Brechin.  John Gardiner from Brechin was made a burgess of Schwerin on 19 July 1623.  His son was elevated to the position of rathsherr, councillor, in the middle of the century.  Other families spread far and wide.  The Simpsons from Coupar Angus settled originally at Heiligen Aa and then lived at nearby Memel and all over Prussia in the 17th century.

  Fischer advises that there were two routes for a Scottish settler and others to access full rights in Prussian territories:

One was the birth-brief which was issued in the town of his birth, signed by one or more of the magistrates and duly sealed; another was the oral declaration of legitimate birth. It was accepted instead of a birth-brief.  Two friends of the person concerned had to declare on oath before the magistrates of the German town...that they knew him (or her)to be the legitimate son (or daughter)of so-and-so, and his wife in Scotland.  Either of tehse proofs was needed for the acquisition of civil rights and in cases of succession.
   From the state records of Danzig the following people of Angus origin can be identified:

Elisabeth and Agneta Blair, of Dundee, 1603.
David Demster, son of Geo. Demster and Isabella, from Brechin, 1631.
Thomas Smart, from Dundee.  Son of David Smart and Elizabeth Smith.  Witnesses:  Geo. Brown and Mallisson from Königsberg, 1639.
Jacob Smith, son of James Smith, at Dundee and of Marg. Gillin.  Witnesses:  Robert Lessli, burgess of Dundee, and John Cargill, clerk in D. 1664.
A number of Scots became burgesses at Danzig, including a notable number of Dundonians, who remarkable maintained influence there for well over a century:
1531.  Thomas Gilzet, from Dundee.1563.  -? Butchart, from Dundee.1567.  Andr. Bruin, from Dundee.1582.  Hans Gelletlie, from Dundee.1587.  Andr. Hardy from Dundee.1587.  James Gelletlie, from Dundee.1598.  Peter Blair, from Dundee.1598.  Thos. Blair, from Dundee.1616.  Alex. Demster, from Brechin.1632.  Jas. Man, from Dundee.1662.  Robt. Guthrie, from Minus (Momus), near Forfar.1668.  W. Brown, from Dundee.
   I have not come across any comparative evidence for the composition of Scots in various places in eastern Europe which would give us an idea where particular people from specific Scottish places ended up, but I would guess that Dundonians, at least, comprised a high percentage of those Scots resident and settled at Danzig.  This can be compared to Cracow, where Dundonians only accounted for 7.5% of the Scots there.

    Kowalski gives a list of Scots accepted into the Cracow Urban Community and there are noticably fewer people from our part of the world:

Hercules Renth, Arbroath, 24 Oct 1579.  John Morcha (? Letham), 30 April 1580.  John Sterlin, Dundee, 5 April 1591. David Ledel, Brechin, 21 February 1592.  James Morisson, Dundee, 1609. David Strachan, Dundee, 9 March 1624.  James Carmichael, Dundee, 10 December 1625.  James Carmichael, Dundee, 25 September, 1643.

Far Flung Sons

   To what extent the descendants of Scots overseas felt a connection to their ancestral homeland is debatable.  But some of them remembered the link certainly.  One of these was Robert Lichton (1631–1692), who was born in what is now Finland, but then under Swedish rule.  His father was Colonel John Lichton of Usan on the Angus coast, who emigrated to Sweden and served as a soldier.  The move abroad was motivated by family circumstances:  John Lichtoun had to sell his family's estate to the Carnegies to cover his own father's debt and may have had little option but to seek a better life for himself in Scandinavia.  Robert rose to the rank of colonel in the Swedish army and became a baron and governor of Estonia.  Later he was made a lietenant general and also appinted president of the Superior Court of Justice.  He was said to have been proud of his origins across the sea and petitioned the Lord Lyon in Edinburgh to recognise a change in his family's arms

Robert Lichton

    In the case of Major-General Ouchterlony of the Russian army, who fell at the battle of Inkermann on 5th November, 1854, there may have been very little residual Scottishness about him, barring his surname.  He was a descendant of Prince Rupert and also (more importantly for our purposes) John  Ouchterlony of Montrose.  The latter's father, settled in Russia in 1794, and he was the father of the great Russian hero.

Sources Consulted

T. A. Fischer, The Scots in Eastern and Western Prussia (Edinburgh, 1903).

Waldemar Kowalski, The Great Immigration, Scots in Cracow and Little Poland, Circa 1500-1660 (Leiden, 2015).

James G. Low, Notes on the Coutts Family (Montrose, 1892).

James Mackinnon, The Social and Industrial History of Scotland (Glasgow, 1920).

Alexander McBain,  Eminent Arbroathians (Arbroath, 1897).

A. Francis Steuart, Scottish Influences in Russian History (Glasgow, 1913).