Saturday, 12 September 2015

The Guthries of Guthrie

The Guthrie family were one of those fortunate kindreds who managed to keep their possessions (or most of them) and their integrity through the centuries.  More importantly perhaps, they managed to avoid the type of violent notoriety which afflicted those other notable Angus family mobs, the Ogilvys and Lindsays.  There is something comfortingly old-fashioned about the Scottish appellation 'of that ilk', a sense of belonging of a family being settled for a long time in a place which bears their surname.  The Guthries cannily spread out from the settlement of Guthrie to other Angus possessions, which this rhyme remembers:

                                                 Guthrie o Guthrie,
                                                 Guthrie o Gaigie,
                                                 Guthrie o Taybank
                                                 An Guthrie o Gaigie.

   King James III granted his treasurer Sir David Guthrie a warrant to construct the yett of Guthrie Castle in 1468, along with the barony, though the family may have already inhabited the site for a long period.  Gagie House, near Dundee, dates from 1614 and was traditionally inhabited by the eldest Guthrie son, who usually took possession of the residence when he first got married.  The family also owned the mansion houses of Kirkbuddo and Colliston.
   Although the family and settlement name of Guthrie likely derive from the Gaelic word gaothair, meaning 'windy place', there are two competing legends about the origin of the family surname.  The family invented a noble Scandinavian named Guthrum, supposedly a 9th century Viking prince as their progenitor.  But a tale from north of Angus, in the Mearns, offers an even more dodgy explanation of the surname.  According to this story, King David I and his queen were shipwrecked on the Bervie Brow.  Seeing a local fisherman on the beach, the king asked him to 'gut twa' fish for him.  When the man generously offered to 'gut three' fish, the king delightedly declared, 'Well, Gut-three forever thou shalt be!'

    Guthrie Castle passed into the ownership of an American family named Pena in 1984, and now functions as a wedding and functions centre.  The building once had a ghost which haunted the original West Bedroom.  In 1620 a former bishop of St Andrews woke one morning to see a black clad lady with a bunch of keys at her waist walk into his chamber and sit down on the bed.  The spirit was identified as a servant who followed an 'extravagant' Mrs Guthrie around the castle each night, locking everything up.  It is otherwise and more mundanely supposed that the ghost is a former Lady Guthrie who constantly checks that anyone who sleeps in the room is comfortable.  The figure was allegedly seen by one of the last Guthries to occupy the castle in the late 20th century, when she was a small child.






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