Page 4 The 18th Century Douglases

Tenants of the Murray Dukes of Atholl

Stats Of Hits

The Duke of Atholl lived  20 miles north at Blair Castle but owned this estate in the 1700s. He was a major landowner in Perthshire and a huge presence in Scottish politics as a result.

His tenants at Milnrodgie and the Lethendy areas were mostly farmers but there would have been carpenters, shoe makers, labourers and quarrymen, too. They lived in close-knit communities, the same names occuring in the OPR for several generations. The first James Douglas must have been well regarded as he was one of the elders of the parish, elected in Oct 1703. Donald Christon and William Roy were also elders at this time. Both these family names  will feature in our story.

The Duke of Atholl expected tenants to fight for him if needed. At Blair Castle I have seen a tiny piece of paper which is the list of these men in 1706. Included is James Douglas in Wester Lethendy (Chronicles of the Atholl and Tullibardine Families, vol 1, app lxv) and William, Duncan, John and Duncan Roy. Nine men were eligible in Easter Lethendy, five in Middle Lethendy and seven men in Wester Lethendy. All in all there were 64 men in Easter Glenalmond and 41 in Wester Glenalmond.

In 1706 Atholl raised some 4000 men at Huntingtower in Perthshire. James Douglas and the four Roys were among these. Atholl had permission from Parliament for this. This was a time of unrest, with Scotland’s independence ending in Union with England.

The First Five Generations: Descendants of James Douglas of Lethendy:

Correction to the above, May 2020. My thanks to William Douglas for spotting the wrong year of death for Grace Douglas- it should read 1879 and not 1789.

We can’t know how James Douglas or his neighbours felt about the Union. Perhaps they didn’t care at all. The community appeared to support the Glorious Revolution as a minister was removed from office. The duke supported the Revolution, too. They may have seen the Union in a different way, though. Their landlord Atholl was against the Union at first then supported it.

According to Peter Simpson’s The Independent Highland Companies 1603-1760 (John Donald pub 1996) in October 1688 the regular soldiers of Scotland were moved to England to protect James II from the Dutch threat and the main chiefs in Scotland asked to raise soldiers to keep the peace. A table on P73 shows the Marquis of Atholl raised 200 men with 20 officers, ensigns etc. It may be that James Douglas of Lethendy was one of these.

Going back another generation or two, a quotation on P55-56 is about the raising of 100 men by Captain James Stewart and Lieutenant Robert Menzies of the “Erle of Tullibardin’s men of Glenalmond” on 30th May 1645 for three months.

What he was up to is unclear: soon after the Union he was accused of treason, apparently plotting for Prince James Stuart and a French invasion. Atholl had a doctor’s letter to delay this but had to allow his opponents to put a hostile garrison  at Blair Atholl. 

In th 1715 Rising the Murray family divided. The Duke’s son, William (Marquis Tullibardine) took part, was on the losing side and lived in exile as a result. His younger brother James became second duke in his place.

Chronicles of the Tullibardine and Murray Families

This is available on the internet and contains a lot of information about the Murray family. Here is an account in two letters to the Duke of Atholl from his factor of a murder which occurred on his extensive estates. The factor was also responsible for Glenalmond estate, though I believe this was not close to the scene.

Glenalmond in 1715 was restless and many people must have been nervous. In April 1715 a Gregor Murray or McGregor was questioned and swore that he had not been to buy arms and had not commissioned anyone else to do so. He said he happened to buy six targes (shields) from someone he found later had drunk the health of Prince James. Murray/McGregor was so shocked he had given the targes away to tenants in Glenalmond. So he said.

When the Rising then started the ministers of Fowlis Wester and Monzie left the area (Forrester, p123). Thomas Drummond, Laird of Logie was involved in the Rising, referred to in a version of the ballad The Battle of Sherrifmuir (Forrester, p125).

This meant the ministers could not say who was absent later if questioned. After the ’45 ministers gave testimony about which parishioners had been missing from Sunday Services.

The Jacobites burnt down some towns and villages in their retreat, including Crieff.

The Battle of Sheriffmuir, Nov 1715 (taken from Wikipedia)

Upper Kipney farm (from George Bond on Flickr)

Bond with the Duke

The first duke of Atholl made a bond with James Douglas for a loan of 2000 Scots merks. James was not alone- Duncan Roy of Glenalmond was owed 500 and there may have been other people, too.

The rental of 1715 says “James Douglas has bond and tack for 3- acres of.. for 2000 merks… pays 68£ 15sh. He retains in his own hands in part payment of his rents.” It refers also to 3 3/4 merkland. The rent was paid yearly by the factor, Mr Patrick Murray.

Jane Anderson, archivist at Blair Castle, has very kindly translated the bond for me:

His father James Douglas had the late Dukes bond for 2000 merks the annual rent whereof was payd yearly by Mr Patrick Murray and Janet Roy Charles mother liferented the same but she died at Michaelmas 1732. Charles only had right too 1000 of the said sum to Martinmas 1734 when he discharged His Grace of the said 1000 and took His Grace new bond for 1000 with a precept on said factor for 500 merks. The remaining 500 merks of the first bond was in fee to Helen Douglas Charles sister and through her death; since Mar 1732 both fee and liferent auresses to Donald and Jean Deors her children.”

James’s wife Janet Roy was to enjoy life-rent of their property until her death, but she died before him at Martinmas 1732. The bond was then changed to one of 1000 merks with a precept on Mr Murray for 500. The remaining 500 merks was in fee to James’s daughter Helen. Helen left a will. 18th century wills are hard to read and even harder to make sense of but it shows that she was the daughter of James Douglas, late tenant in Lethendy and wife of Donald Dewar of Hortingall (Fortingall?) now salt watchman at Torrie.

A salt watchman was someone who was paid to watch over saltpans. Apparently there were saltpans in the Fortingall area but I’m not sure where. Presumably this was a useful export to other areas as salt was essential as a preservative in the 18th century.

So we know how she was related to James, to Charles, and her own family. That was a real help putting the tree together!  They had children Donald and Jean or Jane. She appears to have died in 1741 and her will was proved at Dunkeld Commissary Court on 26th September 1741 (CC7/6/4).

Without these wills we’d have lost very useful information- the OPR does not have the birth of wedding of Helen or her marriage. Nor does it have the baptisms of her children.

Extract from Charles Douglas’s will (from NAS, Crown Copyright):

Generation I: Children of unknown

1. James Douglas of Lethendy

2. Helen Douglas

Generation II: Family of Helen Douglas and Daniel Dewar

1. Donald Dewar

2. Jean Dewar

Generation II: Family of James Douglas and Janet Roy

1. Charles Douglas, born 1700, died around 1742

James’s son Charles Douglas married at the age of 23 to a Beatrice or Betty Roy. She was probably related to her mother-in-law in some way; the banns were proclaimed on 6th August 1723 in Fowlis Wester church.

Generation III: Family of Charles Douglas and Beatrice Roy

1. William Douglas, born 1724

2. James Douglas, born 1726

3. John Douglas, born 1728

4. Charles Douglas, born 1734

5. Alexander Douglas

6. Margaret Douglas

Alexander and Margaret appear missing from the OPR but are likely to have been born between 1729-1733

Other Taxes

There were all sorts of taxes in the 18th century- dog tax, horse tax, window tax… I have read through those for our parishes searching for Douglases, to no avail. There was a minister, Rev John Douglas, who I think we may discount. There was a Jno Dowglas schoolmaster in Crieff, charged 11 shillings for lights in 1747 and again 6 pence(?) in 1758.

A Daniel Douglass paid £0-3-6 for 14 windows in Crieff parish in 1753. He was charged 7 shillings for this again in 1755. The poor man endured 2 further window taxes in 1758 and another 1759. Whether these were cumulative taxes paid or just continual updating of liability I am not sure.

A Mrs Douglas at Lochend in Monzie paid 6 shillings in August 1761.

Sons William (OPR 357/2) in May 1724 and James were born at a place called Condoloich. I can’t find it on maps- but there IS a  Culnacloich, only 1.5 miles from Lethendy.  A son named John was born at Kipney, again very close by; Kipney appears on Stobie’s map but was later called Francesfield. John is not named in his father’s will so maybe he died young.

After his parents’ death Charles moved with his family to Mid Lethendy, and there his own son Charles was born in 1734. Alexander and Margaret (OPR 339/0010 0140) followed.

Charles’s will was proved by the Commissary Court of Dunkeld in 1743, he seems to have died in May 1742 or 1743. His name is on a rental for Glenalmond in both 1731 and 1742, holding a quarter of the town with a tack for 14 years from 1731 for £29 10 sh per year.

His will referred to his relict (widow)  Betty Roy and children William, James, Charles and Margaret. It refers to 1000 merks and 200 merks of life expenses contained in a bond granted 5th October 1734 and 35 years for £50 thereafter.

This Margaret may be the same Margaret Douglas of Monzie who married a John Scot (sic) on October 13th 1751.

What became of most of these children is a mystery. Did they die? Did they seek a better life in America, Ireland or the West Indies? I can’t find them, anyway.

The first Duke of Atholl (from the clangregor website)

The Atholl archives don’t help either- there are no records for Glenalmond again until the 1770s. The factor had been in the Seven Years’ War with the current duke and was given the job on that account. He wasn’t good at record keeping and was sacked. The duke still cared for him, writing he would help him in any way he could but he was not cut out for this job.

We do know from the OPR that William Douglas married another Janet Roy; they were proclaimed on December 1st and 8th 1751 for £1 3 shillings and 4 pence each time.

Janet had a son James at Lethendy, baptised in November 1752. A daughter named Margaret followed in August 1755 and when Helen  was baptised in October 1756 it clearly said “mid Lethendy”.

Generation IV: Family of William Douglas and Janet Roy

1. James Douglas, 1752-1835

2. Margaret Douglas, born 1755

3. Helen Douglas, born 1756

Map section above from William Roy’s Great Map (from NLS site but copyright British Library) shows Milnrodgie, the Lethendies, Kinchraggan, Culnacloich, Tomafour and Kipney. These are all farms or ferm-touns which feature in the Douglas family story.

The McAlas

A limited search for Janet McAla in the OPR through Scotlands People has found only two Janets born between 1700 and 1750, and given that Janet McAla married Donald Christon in 1750 obviously that date is too late. There seem to have been six family groups in Crieff, Fowlis Wester and Monzie. Not every birth led to a baptism and not every baptismal record has survived to now. Maybe the record for Janet was lost.

Broad matching provides more options such as McCaal and McCail. I need more information before I can take this branch further.

Will of Helen Douglas, daughter of James Douglas and sister of the first Charles recorded in our family story. This comes from Scotlands People and is copyright of NAS.

Helen’s husband Daniel Dewar may well be the son of the Donald Deor of Lethendie whose will was proven at Dunblane in July 1721 and February 1723. A Donald Deor in Lethendie, brother to Alexander Deor became cautioner regarding his will. Alexander died in July 1715.  I don’t pretend to understand the legal phrases. I do know that Daniel and Donald are considered to have been interchangeable names at this time.

Picture of Blair Castle, home of the Dukes of Atholl, from Atholl Estates website.

The Family of James Douglas and Margaret Christon

This James Douglas married Margaret Christan, or Christian, at Monzie in August 1778. They had five children (Margaret, Isobel, Helen, Grisals or Grace and Charles) between 1783 and 1792. All appear to have been born at Mid Lethendy.

Daughter Helen’s death certificate confirms that James was a farmer. It is likely, however, that by the 1790’s or early 1800’s the Douglases no longer held land as tenants.

We know this because the Duke of Atholl sold the Glenalmond estate and a rental map exists showing exactly which fields were farmed by whom. How marvellous it would be to see one of our names there! Sadly, this was not to be. The document notes that 2/3 of the leases of Easter Lethendy had just expired, the rest would expire in 1808. The leases were for 21 years. The map is held at the National Archives of Scotland.

The letter below shows that tenants were concerned:

Donald Murray to Mr. Palliser {extract).

Kenachragan, 22 Dec. 1804.
I am sorie to see the Glenalmond estate in the papers to be Sold, it
being so old and so antient in the noble Family’s hand. We that are old
Residenters in the country will be all dispersed like sheep without a shepherd.
I beg of you to write me when Glenalmond is sold, and in
whose hands it is fallen.

(from The Chronicles of the Atholl and Tullibardine Families, P212)

Forrester tells us Kinachraggan was “at roadside on north of Buchanty Bridge, west side of road. Was the Glenalmond ground-officer’s on baron-baillie’s house.” (p 14). Unfortunately he does not say when.

The Duke of Atholl sold other lands as well, but the portion of Glenalmond sold was: Meikle and Little Downie, Miln Rodgie , W. M. and E. Lethendy and Kennochragan. These were sold to Provost Hay Marshall for £10,000.

The rental of the estate of Glenalmond for March 1805 gives us some useful information. Wester Lethendy measured 289 Scots acres and was farmed by Charles McAra and Donald Murray. Rental income was £30-19-0. Middle Lethendy (261 acres) was occupied by D Anderson, D Crichton (related to Margaret, perhaps?), John Drysdale and Peter McIsac. It brought rent of £33. At Easter Lethendy (529 acres) there were 8 names, Donald and Duncan Murray, James Roy, Peter McNab; John Murray, Charles McAra, Peter McChristie and Alexander Murray. Income from there was £48. Kennochraggan was occupied by Donald Murray and Miln Rodgie (the largest holding at 650 acres) had Alexander McLean and Peter Haggart. Rental income was £38.

Then in 1807 the Duke sold another lot of the Glenalmond estate. This was Wester, Mid, and Easter Fendoch, Tomna- croiche and parts of Newton and Craignafarar. This sale was to Charles Moray Stirling of Abercairny and brought him £10,500  (Chronicles, P224).

If you look up Margaret’s birth in some places you may see 1780. This is wrong.

Margaret Christon’s Forebearers

The name Christon, with various spellings such as Criston, Chreistan and Christie had been in Fowlis Wester particularly and Monzie to some extent since before 1700. A Donald Christon was an elder in 1703 and another- or the same- was boxmaster in 1725 in Monzie. The militia list of 1706 included a Donald Christon the elder and Donald Christon the younger.

There are 911 marriages of Christons in Perthshire and 1474 births between 1650 and 1745. Looking at Fowlis Wester alone there are 57 marriages and 78 births, with 6 marriages and 12 births in Monzie.

What we need is a) time to research cheaply at NAS/GROS, b) luck – like someone out on the internet who has information and c) a useful will    to put things together.

Enter one will…

Donald Christian died in Easter Lethendy in March 1734, his will proven at Dunkeld Commissary Court on 20th May. From this we know he had been married to Margaret Murray as one half of his estate is left to her. There is the implication that they had no children living as the next of kin was his nephew Patrick Sorlie in Easter Lethendy. Again, was this Donald the elder or Donald the younger? Or another?

The will runs over two pages and itemises his belongings but really does not help us put a family together.

Margaret’s parents Donald Christon and Janet McAla married in October 1750 at Monzie church. Presumably they were living at Lethendy then as all 4 births I have uncovered were recorded at a Lethendy. Margaret’s was at “Wester Lethantie” but her elder brother and two younger siblings were born at Mid Lethantie. Whether this was by chance or they had moved briefly I cannot say but suspect the former. Margaret was baptised on 21st February 1755 (OPR 382/00 0010 0197), though Scotlands People’s index says the 18th.

A “D Crichton” was at Middle Lethendy in March 1805. Perhaps this was the same dwelling as the Douglases had lived at. This might be Margaret’s father Donald or it could be her brother Donald, who would be 45 at this time. A Widow Christan was buried in May 1818, the mortcloth costing 1 shilling. This could be Margaret’s mother Janet McAla or  the widow of a brother or even a grandmother.

Generation IV: Family of Donald Christon and Janet McAla

1. William Christon, born 1752

2. Margaret Christon, born 1755

3. Janet Christon, born 1757

4. Donald Christon, born 1760