Saturday, 19 September 2015

More On The Lindsays and the Families of Stirling and Auchterhouse Castle

Something has already been written previously about the prominent Lindsay family, who were for a number of centuries one of the most important and numerous ruling families in Angus and, on and off, deadly enemies of the Ogilvys.  One of the Lindsay's proudest castles, Edzell, was actually built by the Stirling family and passed to Sir Alexander Lindsay when he married Catherine, daughter of John Stirling around 1357.  Their son, Sir David Lindsay, became the first Earl of Crawford.

   Catherine Stirling was co-heiress with her sister, but local lore added a brother, Jackie Stirling.  Small and deformed though he was, Jackie was well liked in the neighbourhood.  When he made a match with the daughter of a local laird, Catherine and her scheming husband realised that this threatened their inheritance.  They hired an assassin to kill poor Jackie as he took his regular evening stroll near Edzell Castle.  Thus Edzell passed in a bloody fashion to the Lindsays.

   Sir David Lindsay cannily married a daughter of King Robert II and became High Chancellor of Scotland.  One of his friends was John Lyon of Glamis Castle, secretary to the king.  But when Lyon was promoted to Great Chamberlain, Lindsay became jealous , believing that his friend's advancement was at the expense of his own.  The two men fought a duel on the Moss of Balhall, in Menmuir parish.  Glamis was slain and Lindsay was forced into exile in England in 1382.

   After he returned to Scotland, Sir David fought bravely at the battles of Otterburn and Homildon.  He earned wider fame by fighting in single combat on London Bridge in May 1390.  His opponent was the English champion, Lord Wells.  Twice the mounted men charged at each other without advantage and on the third charge the Englishman was unseated.  The spectators yelled out that Lindsay had cheated by tying himself to his saddle.  Sir David promptly rode up to the royal pavilion, jumped out of his saddle, then vaulted back into it.  The fight recommenced on foot and ended with the Scot throwing his opponent to the ground.  King Richard II gave him permission to kill Lord Wells if he wished, but Lindsay gallantly refused.  The monarch was impressed and gave Sir David the hospitality of his court for three months.

   In 1392 Lindsay was one of sixty Angus men under the command of Sir Walter Ogilvy of Auchterhouse, Sheriff of Angus, was fought at the Battle of Glasclune.  Their opponents were a band of here hundred Highland marauders, mostly Robertsons, led by Duncan Stewart, a son of the notorious Wolf of Badenoch.  After ravaging the Braes of Angus the invaders were tracked west to Glasclune in Perthshire.  Ogilvy, his brother and many others were slain early in combat.  Lindsay managed to pierce one Highlander with his lance, driving it into the ground.  But the dying man lifted himself up and caught Lindsay with his broadsword, cutting through his stirrup leather and steel boot right to the bone.  Sir David was nearly killed, but survived to found the great dynasty of Angus.  It seems ironic that Lindsay nearly lost his life supporting Ogilvy, for a generation later the two families were deadly enemies.

   Auchterhouse had become an Ogilvy property through marriage and changed hands again in 1446, passing to James Stewart, Earl of Buchan.  According to the Rev. James Inglis the ballad of 'Sir John the Rose' had its original setting at Auchterhouse (though extant versions of the poem do not set it in Angus).  The ballad relates the rivalry of two suitors, Sir James Ross and Sir John Graeme, competing for the hand of Matilda, daughter of the Earl of Buchan.  Ross and Matilda met each night beneath a large saugh tree in the garden.  But Lord Buchan favoured Graeme and forbade his daughter meeting Ross.  At their final meeting they were spied by Graeme's brother.  Ross slew him and prepared to flee, but Sir James Graeme found out and rode swiftly to Auchterhouse.  Following a fight, Ross was fatally wounded , tough with a final effort he stabbed Graeme through the heart.  Matilda was grief stricken and killed herself with the sword which had slain her lover.
   Auchterhouse was an unhappy place for the Buchan women.  In 1665, Marjory Ramsay, Countess of Buchan, was charged by the Presbytery of Dundee with having fornicated with her chaplain, James Campbell.  He was absolved after 'being thrice in the pillare' at Auchterhouse, wile the countess had to perform public repentance in the kirk.

                                  SIR JAMES THE ROSE


Oh have you heard Sir James the Rose,

The young heir of Loch Laggan?

For he has killed a gallant squire

And his friends are out to take him.

And he's gone to the House of Mar,

The Nurse there did befriend him.

And he has gone upon his knees

And begged for her to hide him.

“Where're you going Sir James?” she said,

“Where now are you riding?”

“Oh I am bound to a foreign land

But now I'm under hiding.”

Where shall I go?

Where shall I run?

Where shall I go for to hide me?

For I have killed a gallant squire

And they're seeking for to slay me.

Then he's turned him right and round about

And rolled him in the bracken,

And he has gone to take a sleep

In the lowlands of Loch Laggan.

He had not well gone out of sight

Nor was he past Milstrethen

When four and twenty belted knights

Came riding o'er the leathen.

“Have you seen Sir James the Rose,

The young heir of Loch Laggan?

For he has killed a gallant squire,

And we're sent out to take him.”

“You'll see the bank above the mill

In the lowlands of Loch Laggan,

And there you'll find Sir James the Rose

Sleeping in the bracken.”

“You must not wake him out of sleep,

Nor yet must you afright him,

Just run a dart right through his heart

And through the body pierce him.”

They sought the bank above the mill

In the lowlands of Loch Laggan,

And there they found Sir James the Rose

Sleeping in the bracken.

Then up and spake Sir John the Graeme

Who had the charge a-keeping,

“It'll never be said, dear gentlemen,

We killed him while he's sleeping.”

They seized his broadsword and his targe

And closely him surrounded,

And when he woke out of his sleep

His senses were confounded.

Now they have taken out his heart

And stuck it on a spear,

They took it to the House of Mar

And gave it to his dear.

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