Search just our sites by using our customised search engine
Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

Arbroath and its Abbey
Chapter I - The Town of Arbroath and its Dependencies

THERE are perhaps few towns in Scotland, in regard to the formation and early history of which more information may now be gleaned than in the case of Arbroath. This is owing to the fortunate preservation of the Chartulary, or collection of monastic writings framed at its Abbey, in all their integrity and fulness. The publication of these writings for the Bannatyne club, commenced under the joint editorship of two learned and indefatigable antiquaries, Mr P. Chalmers of Aldbar, and Mr Cosmo Innes, Advocate, and since Mr Chalmers' lamented death, recently completed by Mr Innes, with the interesting prefaces written by them, and the full and correct indices prepared under their superintendence, have greatly enhanced the value of the monastic writings of Arbroath, and have not only shed a flood of light on the Abbey, town, and neighbourhood, but entitle the collection to take its place among those authentic and valuable, although . (perhaps to popular taste) dry documents by which our true national history in early times can be fixed and illustrated; and in which "there is to be found, although in a shape very barbarous and repulsive to the general reader, the most fresh and living pictures of the manners of the times." (Tytler's list. ii., 357.)

The Chartulary of Aberbrothock is perhaps the completest specimen of records of one of the most complete monastic establishments in the kingdom. It exhibits, during a period of three centuries and a half, a full register of charters from kings and nobles, down to private burgesses, papal bulls, grants and concessions of every description in favour of the convent; with feuing charters, and charters by progress, dispositions and infeftinents, leases of teinds, lands, fishings, and houses, presentations to churches and chapels, records of perambulations of marches, decrees and settlements of disputes of all sorts, appointments to offices, and other writs, granted by the convent solely, or in conjunction with others, with deeds of mortification of houses, gardens, and annual rents, to altarages for the benefit of the relations of the founders; and various writs of other kinds too numerous to be here specified, generally in Latin, but sometimes in quaint old doric Scotch ; and all more or less interesting, not only to those who are styled antiquaries, but to every one who wishes to obtain an accurate and intimate knowledge of the history of his country in former times, including its monastic and parochial economy, its agriculture, its currency, its system of education, jurisprudence, and internal government.

The writings in favour of the Abbey alone include and describe pieces of land ranging from a small garden to baronies and parishes (formerly styled shires), muirs, woods and fishings, saltworks, ferry boats, hostelries or lodges in various towns; the custody of ancient banners, parish churches and district chapels, with the lands and teinds attached to them; rights to levy large and small customs, privileges of barony and regality, with power to erect burghs in Angus and Mearns ; power to wear mitre and pontifical robes, and confer minor church orders.

The chartulaiy forms an excellent subject for the student of philology. It commences at a period when few or no super or surnames existed in the district. It spews the introduction of surnames first among the foreign settlers in the coast towns, with their gradual progress among the more rural population ; and it exhibits the process of then adoption, such as from paternity (Macormac, Anderson, Duncanson), from blood (Scot or English, Inglis), from a superior (Gilchrist, Gilcom—servant of Christ, servant of the Earl), from complexion (Black, Brown, White), from professional employment (Baxter, Barber, Smith, Wright, &c.), from office (Dempster, Dorward, Mair, &c.), from lands and possessions (Guthrie, Carnegie, Kilgour), while other surnames appear to defy all attempts to ascertain their true origin.

The first volume contains few or no surnames in the simple form in which they are now used by us, and scarcely any such surnames as those with which we are familiar. The additions of the names of lands, residences, or parents, in the manner used for distinction in those early times, can scarcely be called surnames. It is not till about the end of the fourteenth century, when Arbroath harbour was built, that surnames began to be commonly used without the intervening de (of) or filius (son of); but the habit rapidly prevailed after that date, so that by the end of the following century, the practice seems to have been as universal as it is now, to use at least two words as Christian name and surname, without any preposition. The following appear to have been the most common surnames occurring in the Abbey writs during the last hundred and fifty years in which they have been published, and it will easily be seen that, with some exceptions, they are surnames very prevalent about Arbroath and its vicinity at the present time—viz., Anderson, Bois, Bridie, Brown, Douglas, Dorward, Gray, Graham, Guthrie, Hay, Jameson, Keith, Lamb, Leighton, Lyall, Lyndsay, Lyn, Lyon, Meldrum, Mill, Ochterlony, Qgilvy, Ramsay, Reid, Rany (Rennie), Scot, Scrymgeour, Stewart, Seton, Simson, Sinclair, Smart, Smith, Sturrock, Strachan, Thomson, Thornton, Tyrie, Watson, Wishart, Wood, Young. It will be observed that then, as now, the initial letter S takes the first rank among surnames in this district. The name Brown seems to have been as common about Arbroath four hundred years ago as it is still. The name of Ogilvie occurs more frequently than any other in the latter portion of the chartulary, not because of its prevalence in this part of the county, whatever may have been the case in the district about Kingoldrum, but in consequence of the many grants and leases made to persons of that name through the influence of the Airlie family, who for a long period held the important office of the Bailiery.

The writings in question are also interesting, as shewVing how little material changes in pronunciation the names of towns, farms, streams, muirs, &c., have in general undergone during the last seven centuries. Such trans- formations or changes when they do occur, are not less curious. Thus, soon after the foundation of the Abbey, two places at several miles distance from one another are mentioned under the name of "Gutheryne." One of these names, by losing the central letter "e" and the last consonant, has in course of time become Guthry or Guthrie. The other name, by a very different process, lost its middle syllable, and had its last consonant hardened by the letter "d," and appears in the following consecutive forms — Gutheryne, Guthyn, Guyn, Gund, Guynd. Ballysak (Town of Isaac) is afterwards Bysak, and now Boysack. Ballindoch is corrupted into Bawndowff, and now called Pandoch. Vuirinchoke is also shortened to Inchok.

The names of places exhibit many curious orthographical variations, even while it is probable that little change took place as to their pronunciation. Thus the name of the stream Vinny is written by the Monks in such forms as Ouany, Ovyngny, Ovynnic, Ovynny, Ovyny, Owyny, Owynyn, Vuaney, Vuany, Vueny. From want of local knowledge the learned Editor of the second volume is evidently puzzled by the name of the farm of Windyedge, which he prints in italics, according to the Monkish spelling of le vynde age and le. vynde eigge. Aberbrothock being a long word, and recurring more frequently than any other name, affords an almost endless variety in spelling. It appears as Aberbrud, Aberbruthoc, Abbirbroht, Abbirbroth, Abberbrothoc, Abbyrbrothoc, Abberbroth, Abbirbroith, Abbirbrothoc, Abbirbrothoch, Abirbroth, Abirbrothoc, Abirbrothok, Abyrbroth, Abyrbrothoc, Abyrbrothok, Aberbrothoc, Abirbrethot, Abirbrothak, Aberbrothot, Aberbrotoht, Abirbroyth, Abirbrutoli, Abbyrbrothoch, Abyrbroyth, Arbroith, Arbroth, Arbrothe, Arbroyth, Ardbroith. The name of a neighbouring parish appears in such forms as Abereloth, A'bireloth, Aberheloth, Aber-helot, Abrellot, Aberellot, Abberellot, Abbirlot, Abbirellot, Abirloth, Arbirloth, Abyrelloth, Arbirlot. Another neighbouring parish possesses an equal diversity in its names. Thus, Inverkeleder, Inverkelethir, Inuerkeleder, Jnverkeler, Innerkelar, Innerkeldour, Innerkelor, Ennerkelor, Innerkelour. Ethie appears as Hathin, Athin, Athyn, Athe, Athy. The names of the two places Braco and Brax being somewhat similar, have been gathered under one head in the index, but ought to have been separated into two clusters thus—(1) Brekko, Brekky, Breco, Brakie; (2) Brakkys, Brekkis, Brex, Brax, the most ancient form being Brakhous.

Instances of the change or translation of the names of places from an early to a later language are sometimes given, and are not without interest. Thus, in a writ of the date of 1256, a place in the parish of Kingoldrum hearing the Gaelic name of Hachethunethouer, is said to be called in English Midefeld; and a certain marsh is referred to as called according to the Scotch ("Scotice"), Moynebuclie. At an earlier period, King William, in his great charter, says that the Church Lands of Old Montrose were called in Scotch Abtlten. Although this word may not be in itself a very old Gaelic term, these indications afford further proofs of the fact that the Gaelic was formerly called the Scotch language, to distinguish it from the Saxon or English language; and that it was afterwards called the Old Scotch as contradistinguished from the modern or Lowland Scotch. [The dialect of the lowlands seems to have obtained its now common name of Scotch ("Scottis") when Douglas translated Virgil in 1513; and there is no reason to believe that the Statute of 1542 allowing the Bible to be read " in the vulgar toung, in Inglis or Scottis, of ane gude and trew transla" tioun," had any reference to the Gaelic, notwithstanding Pinkerton's opinion to the contrary.] In a description of the marches of Kingoldrum in 1458, the Gaelic name of Midfield disappears, but a considerable number of other Gaelic names are translated into English by Abbot Malcolm Brydy, in these terms:—"Myllaschangly,. that is to say Scottismyll—the burn of Athyncroith, that is to say the Gallow Burne — Tybyrnoquhyg, that is to say the Blyndwell—Carnofotyr, that is to say the Pwndiris Carne—Claischnamoyll, that is to say the Mekylhyllthe pwll of Monboy [Moynebuche], that is to say the Yallow Pwll—the Claische, that is to say the Reyskethe burne of Haldyrisc/t tnna, that is to say the Gled Burne."

The number of old Gaelic names in the vicinity of Arbroath given in the Chartulary, and not still in use, are very few. They consist of Athenglas, Hathuerbelath, Sythnekerdun, and perhaps Glauflat, all in the neighbourhood of Kinblethmont. Indeed the whole number of British or Gaelic topographical terms in the tract of ground round Arbroath, between the waters of Elliot and Lunan, is small, when compared with those which can be more or less traced to the Gothic or Saxon languages. This fact, coupled with the state of the district within the recollection of its older inhabitants, shows that its Celtic population must have been very limited before the introduction of the Gothic races. And if it could be definitely proved that such a name as Pitmuies or Petmuis had its origin from the grave of bluis, and that he was interred there so lately as at the defeat of Camus, it would tend to establish the view of Chalmers and others, that the use of the Gaelic tongue was retained in this part of Scotland till the eleventh century, namely, the century preceding that in which the Abbey was founded. [The name Baledgar, given to the royal castle which King Edgar had begun to build 1101-7, would lead to the belief that the Gaelic had remained in the district of Gowrie till that time. (Hollinshed's Chronicle.)] The oldest names in the district referred to are those of the streams, and the hamlets situated near their mouths, such as Aber-Elliot, Aber-Brothock, Inver-Keillor, and Inver-Lunan. The other principal seats of the Celtic people, the names of which have no apparent affinity to the Saxon tongue,—were obviously Auchmithic, Ethic, Inchok, Kinnaldy, Rhind, Gilehorn, Balmullie, Boysack, Kinblethmont, Conon, Peebles, Letham, Crudie, Cuthlie, and one or two besides; and it may be observed that these names denote places favourably situated, and such as would naturally be early selected for cultivation and residence among the muirs and marshes with which the country formerly abounded.

There is little information as to the introduction of Saxon topographical terms; but we may notice that in 1219 the marches of Kinblethmont are given entirely in Gaelic, as are likewise those of Tarves, Aberdeenshire, in 1251 (although this will not prove that the Saxon tongue was not by that time introduced) ; while the familiar Saxon terms of Fisliergate and Ore ystone appear among the marches of Dunnichen at the probable date of 1300; and these names of later origin continue to increase rapidly during the subsequent records. On this point it may be also stated, as an indication of previous Saxon colonisation that the first appearance in the Chartulary, about 1200, of the name of St Bridestown is almost in its present form of Panbride, it having thus early degenerated from Ballinbride to Banbride and Panbryd, or Pannebryd; and that the Saxon name of Muirhouse, then appears under the already corrupted form of Muraus.

Like the records of the other great Scottish monasteries those of Arbroath suggest, but do not afford an answer to the enquiry, how the Scottish kings, from Malcolm III. to Alexander II., came to be possessed of, and to confer on them, and on numerous foreign immigrants, so many large tracts of valuable land, without any other reference to the occupiers than the indications given in the earlier grants that they were given along with the lands. The subject is involved in considerable obscurity; but there is reason to believe that these Scottish kings of Anglo-Norman tastes and feelings had at this period copied the example set by the Norman kings of England, so far as different circumstances would allow, and held themselves to be the absolute proprietors of the whole lands within the kingdom, except those in the hands of the more powerful chiefs, with liberty to dispose of the same at their pleasure, without respect to the ancient rights of the actual occupants, who do not appear at that time to have possessed any written titles. The lands were probably in many instances resumed as fallen to the king when the possessors died without _leaving full-grown male heirs. We suspect that the pious David I., instead of being, as one of his successors styled him, "a sair sanct to the crown," was in reality only a sair sanct to his poor Celtic subjects in the lowlands. The practical effect of this Norman system seems to have been the reduction of these occupants to the condition of serfs or slaves to their new landlords (as will be afterwards more fully alluded to), or at best to the position of tenants-at-will, liable to be ejected at the fiat of their Anglo-Norman lords, like the cottars and small farmers of the highlands at the present time. The unceremonious manner of treating the poorer occupants of land in the twelfth century may be inferred from the laws which it was found necessary to pass for their protection in the fifteenth century, until which time they continued liable to be summarily removed by the new proprietor at any period of the year without respect to the leases which might have been granted to them.

Next to the kings themselves the new Saxon or Norman settlers, to whom they gave lands, were the most munificent donors of the monasteries of royal foundation like Arbroath, as if it had been expected that they must give back to the king's favourite religious house a part of those possessions which they had received from his hands. On this account the records of Arbroath Abbey are peculiarly full of the names of proprietors of French, Flemish, Saxon, and Norman extraction, especially of those who settled in Angus and Mearns about the time of King William and those of his predecessors, David I. and Malcolm IV. Of these we may name the families of Arbuthnott or de Blundo, Baliol, Berkeley or Barclay, Bosvill or Boswell, Cheen or Cheyne, Cumin, Durward, Fitz-Bernard, Fitz-Thancard, Frivill, Hay, Hastings, Leslie, Lindsay, Lundyn or Lundie, Malherbe, Malvill or Melville, Meldrum, Moncur, Montalto, Montfort, Mohaut or Mowat, Moray, Morham, Mortuomari or Mortimer, Mu-bray or Mowbray, Ramsay, Rewell, Rossyn or Rossie, St Michael, Sibbald, Strachan, Valoins, Vaus or Vallibus, Wischard or Wishart. Many of these will again appear in the list of the Abbey lands and possessions as donors; and the names of others often occur as officers of State and landed proprietors, attesting deeds, in conjunction with the older and uncouth names of those barons of Celtic lineage who had still retained their possessions. The Angus and b.Iearns families of Baldowy, Boyce, Burnet, Carnegie, Dempster, Douglas, Gardyne, Guthrie, Irvine, Ochterlony, Ogilvie, Scrimgeour and others appear largely among the Abbey writs at a later period.

Leaving the history of these numerous families to the "Peerages" and other genealogical works, we can only here refer to three or four of the Anglo-Norman settlers who erected towers or fortalices in the immediate neighbourhood of our Abbey.

Walter de Berkeley was Chamberlain of Scotland, and proprietor of the estate of Inverkeillor, when he granted the Church of that parish to the Abbey, soon after its foundation. He was succeeded by Ingelram de Baliol, who married his daughter or heiress during the reign of King William. This Ingelram is termed in the Chartulary the lord of Redeastle, and was the builder of that fortalice, if it was not erected by his predecessor, as Chalmers asserts. (Caledonia i 529.)

During King William's reign Richard de Afallevill obtained the lands of Kinblethinont, and granted the chapel of Kinblethmont to the Abbey. He was one of the magnates of the district, and was a witness to the Charter of John Abbot of Kelso, at the dedication of the Abbey in 1178. Twelve years afterwards, his name is found associated with those of the bishop of St Andrews and others in a letter of safe conduct granted by King John of England. Before the year 1227 the lands of Kinblethmont seem to have come into the hands of one named Gwaiynus de Cupa; and in 1283 Welandus de Seynclau was lord of "Kynblatmund."

Philip de Mubray, one of the settlers of that name, obtained from King William certain lands in Fife, and gave to the monks of Arbroath a toft in the burgh of Inverkeithing. lie witnessed many of the king's charters, and was often employed in State affairs. It is probable that he was the first builder of a tower or castle on the south bank of the Elliot water; as in 1208 the Abbot and Convent of Arbroath granted to Philip de Mubray liberty to have an Oratory or Chapel for his private family within the court of his house of "Kellyn," without prejudice to the rights of the Parish Church which belonged to them. This house could have been no other than a castle at Kelly, of which the large existing building may be a successor. It must, however, be stated that for a. considerable time, both previous and subsequent to that date, the lands of Balcathie, in the immediate vicinity of Kelly, seem to have been in the possession of one "Roger de Balkathin," who appears as a witness to many of the Abbey writs. The antiquary, Commissary Maule, states that the blubrays possessed the estate of Kelly till the Black Parliament in the reign of Robert I. (MS. account of the family of Panmure, in Panmure House); after which it seems to have come into possession of the Ochterlonys.

Philip de Valoins obtained from King William the lands of Panmure and Benvie, and held the office of Chamberlain. He was succeeded in his lands and office by his son William, who died about 1219, and left an only daughter, named Christian. She became the wife of Lord Petrus de Maule, of the family of Malville or Melville in Lothian, and who was afterwards styled proprietor or lord of Panmure, the name of which was by that time corrupted from Ballinmuir to Pannemor. From that union the family of Maule and Panmure has descended, and the erection or enlargement of the castle of Panmure may be ascribed to one of these barons during the reigns of William or Alexander. II.: although Commissary Maule thinks that it had previously been one of the king's castles, like Glammiss, occupied by a thane or bailiff, who dispensed justice and drew the king's rents in the district: and he supposes that a knoll on the lands of Scryne got its name of Lawbothen from it being the place where justice was administered by the thane. (Ibid.) He derives Panmure from Pan, a chief; and More, a lord; "as who would say the overlord or chief lord."

The Morhams possessed the lands of Panbride in the reign of King William; and after his death John de Morham, who had been his clerk or chaplain, confirmed the royal grant of the church of Panbride to the Abbey; and Adam, the brother and successor of John, confirmed the same grant. This family does not again appear. But a castle or fortalice stood at Panbride which is traditionally stated to have been seized by the English when they took the castle of Panmure during the wars of the fourteenth century. In the next century the family to whom Hector Boyce the historian belonged, appears in the Chartulary as proprietors of Panbride under the name of Boys; and William Ramsay of Panbride was one of a jury which met at Forfar on 3rd October 1495 for determining the marches of Balnamoon Mire.

But a building much older than any of these castles had stood within the parish of St Vigeans, on the hill called Cairnconon. The traditions of the district bear that it was called Castle Gory or Gregory; and that Gregory, one of its proprietors, was slain in battle in the parish of Monifieth, where his grave is still pointed out at a cairn called Cairn-Greg, near Linlathen. To pass from tradition to written documents, we learn from the Chartulary that at or previous to the foundation of Arbroath Abbey the estate of Conon, consisting of this hill and its declivities, belonged to a chief bearing the Gaelic name of Dufsyth. His son Matthew was witness to Ingelram de Baliol's confirmation of the church of Inverkeillor in 1180; and "Matthew, on of Matthew the son of Dufsyth of Conon," was one of the perambulators of the marches of Kinblethmont on 23rd September 1219. The lands of Conon at this time did not belong to the Abbey, but were most probably held as fallen into the king's hands. They were granted four years afterwards, on 6th December 1223, to the Convent, by King Alexander II., along with the lands of Dumbarrow, in forestry. The residence of these Celtic barons of Conon is traditionally indicated as having been situated a little southwards from the top of the hill, near the northern boundary of the lands now forming the farm of West Grange. At this spot a primitive stone vault has recently been discovered by accident. It is nearly in the shape of a common beehive, with the stones overlapping each other, so as to form a rude conical roof. It seems to have been constructed in a hollow or excavation of the ground, which is principally formed of freestone rock; and was entered by a passage which has not yet been explored. It is difficult to assign a reason for the construction of such a singular vault, except that it was intended as a place of concealment on occasion of sudden assaults from warlike Scottish barons, or still more merciless invaders from Denmark and Norway, to whom the east of Angus was then much exposed. After the lands of Conon were acquired by the Convent, they regularly held regality courts at Cairnconon, to which they took their vassals bound to appear three times every year. This was done in the Abbot's charters so late as 1580. As some of these courts were held at the cold season, it is evident that a building had existed at Cairneonon for the accommodation of the Abbot's officials and retainers. But it is impossible to ascertain whether this was identical with, or the successor of, the residence of Dufsyth. It is believed in the district, that the last remains of this castle of Conon were removed by the feuars of Colliston after its alienation from the Abbey by Cardinal Beaton, and the materials employed in the construction of the present mansion house of Colliston.

The places of residence of William I. and Alexander II. who reigned over Scotland during the brightest and liveliest period of its early history, may be a point of interest to some ; and the numerous grants by them to the Abbey supply considerable information on this point, as the place of granting is invariably stated in the royal charters of that period; although not in charters granted by subjects, so that these records give no hint of the usual residence of the great earls of Angus in former times. King William's charters sometimes contain a notice of the day and month, but no notice of the year of grant. Many of them bear to be granted at the places where his predecessors David I. and Malcolm IV. usually lived, except that by his time their seat of Scone was granted to a religious house, and their seat of Kinross was granted to a settler named Henry of Kinross. Of sixty-one charters by this monarch, recorded in the Chartulary, nineteen were granted at Forfar, several of them apparently on the same day. The original royal seat at Forfar was situated on the knoll to the east of Castle Street. King William seems to have left this old tower for a newer and more commodious residence on the west side of the street ; for he bestowed the "place of the old castle of For- far" on Robert do Quincy, who feued the same to Sir Roger de Argenten for a pound of pepper payable yearly at Pasch. (Reg. St Andrews, p. 354.) Hector Boyce says that Forfar was once "strengthened with two royal castles, as the ruins do yet declare." Notwithstanding this grant it is quite possible that the English had afterwards garrisoned the older fortalice, being the strongest in situation, until it was surprised and taken by the Forester of Platen in the war of independence. Five of King William's charters were granted at Perth, nine at Montrose, five at Alyth, four at Stirling, two at Selkirk, two at Kinghorn, two at Aberdeen, two at Elgin, and one at each of the following places, namely, Roxburgh, Haddington, Traquair, Linlithgow, Lanark, Clackmannan, Dunfermline, Arbroath, Kincardine, Kintore, and Klonin (Clony). He sometimes resided also at Crail and Jedburgh, and granted charters at these places. At the most of these towns the kings at that time possessed castles or occasional lodgings.

King Alexander's charters at first bear no date, but afterwards they contain the day and month and year of reign, and in one instance the year of the Christian era. He granted twenty-seven charters to the Abbey, seven of which bear to be executed at Forfar, four at Perth, two at Edinburgh, two at Coupar-Angus Abbey, two at Kintore, one at Lifton, one at Haddington, one at New-bottle, one at St Andrews, one at Kincardine, one at Fyvie (on 22nd February 1221), and one at Invercoyth (?). He had resided at Barry during the spring of 1229, as he there granted two charters on 4th March and 24th April of that year ; and he granted a charter at Arbroath on 7th March 1244-5. This monarch's gifts to the Abbey, his father's favourite religious house, were very liberal ; but his son Alexander III. had probably thought it was sufficiently endowed, as lie does not appear to have made a single grant in its favour.

The Abbey records contribute information regarding the introduction into this part of Scotland of our modern divisions of shires and parishes. They also afford traces of the existence of more early divisions which have now fallen entirely into disuse. The records of St Andrews allude to the Thanes of Falkland and Dairsie with strange Gaelic names. In the writings of Arbroath reference is made to the Thanes of Inverkeillor, Monros (Montrose), and Edwy (Idvies). Their possessions seem to have borne the title of Thanedoms. The thaneries or thanedoms of Aberluthnot (Mary kirk), Glammiss, Tannadice, Fettercairn, Boyne, Aberdeen, Aberkerdor, and others, are mentioned in the titles of these lands, and elsewhere. Some of these districts were at a later period called lordships or "territories," which among the once Celtic population of Fife and Angus may have been similar to the divisions still called "countries" by the present Celtic population of our highlands. Among others the territories of Abernethy, Lindores, Glammiss, Inverkeillor, and Kirriemuir are -referred to in the Abbey writs; and these districts were probably larger than the modern parishes now bearing their names.

It is believed by several writers of research that shires or sheriffdoms were gradually introduced as the ScotoSaxon people gained on the Celtic or Keltic inhabitants, and were part of the innovations made on their older institutions. (Chalmers' Caledonia i, p. 715.) But it is probably more correct to say that the titles of Comes (or ancient earl) and Thane were the Anglo-Saxon designations of the nobility and their law officers or bailiffs during the intermediate period betwixt the disuse of the earlier Gaelic titles of 1llaormor, Toscheoderach, and Derach, and the introduction of the later Anglo-Norman titles of baron and sheriff. Arbroath Abbey was founded at the close of this intermediate period, and the only trace of the old Gaelic titles found in its writs is in the name of Derethy given to the officership of the barony of Tarves, Aberdeenshire, in 1463. The chartularies of the religious houses spew that shires were introduced into a large part of the lowlands during the twelfth century, from the reign of Alexander I. to William the Lion. The first sheriff on record is mentioned in Earl David's charter to the Abbey of Selkirk in 1120. Several grants by David I. to the Priory of St Andrews mention the shire of Haddington in the period from 1124 to 1153. In the foundation charter of the Priory of St Andrews, dated in 1144, and in the writs of that house for some years afterwards, there is no allusion to the title of shire as applied to districts lying to the north of Forth, even in reference to districts which came to be termed shires or " schyres" immediately afterwards, in the days of Bishop Richard from 1163 to 1173; and in whose writings the names of parishes as well as shires first appear in the eastern district of Fifeshire. In a charter to the same Priory by Malcolm IV., who reigned from 1153 to 1165, Gillemore is named as sheriff of Clackmannan. And in Bishop Arnold's time, about 1160, Hiweno was sheriff of Scone; and at the same period Macungal and Malcolm were Judges of Fife. In Bishop Richard's grants the district round St Andrews came to be called Kilrimund-schyre; part of Forgan parish is called Forgrund-schyre, and the lands about Blebo in Kemback parish were called Blathbolg-schyre ; while the first parish named in the Priory writings is that of the Holy Trinity of Kilrimund, now St Andrews. After this, the peninsular tract between Forth and Tay, formerly known as Fife and Fothriffe, contained a great number of these small schyres. Besides those already named the ecclesiastics of St Andrews possessed lands known as Bischop-schyre (Portmoak Parish), [This parish was till very recently, if it be not still, familiarly styled Bishopshire by the people of the district.] and Muckhart-schyre (Muckart Parish). The Abbey of Dunfermline possessed large tracts of land in Dunfermelin-schyre and Kinghorn-schyre. It also possessed the whole of Gaitinilk-schyre or Kinglassin-schyre (Kinglassie Parish), Dolor-schyre (Dollar Parish), and Nethbren-schyre (New-burn Parish). Besides these church lands the same district contained the schyres of Karel (Crail), Rires (in Kilconquhar Parish), Kennochyn (in Kennoway Parish), Weymiss (Wemyss Parish), Kyngorn (Kinghorn and Burntisland Parishes), Loquhor (Auchterderran and Ballingry Parishes); and Kynros (Kinross and Orwell Parishes) ; all of which remained solely or principally in the hands of the king or great barons; and contained old castles such as those of Crail, Rires, Wemyss, King-horn, Lochore, and Lochleven ; to which the shires or estates were attached. The whole of these shires, except the last, have become extinct; •and the shire of Kinross would have shared the same fate before this time, had it not been for the annexation to it by Act of Parliament in 1685 of three neighbouring parishes and some other lands; notwithstanding which it is still the smallest county in Scotland.

Tracing the formation of shires from north to south we find a district on the Tay, called the shire of Dunde (Dundee), in a Papal Bull in favor of the Priory of St Andrews, dated about 1183; and about the same time King William granted various tracts of land in Forfar-shire, which were then his property, to the Abbey of Arbroath, under the names of the schyres of Aberbrothoc, Athyn, Dunnechtyn, and Kyngoldrum, although the smallest of these tracts (Ethic) is not so often dignified by that title as the others. We have not observed in the writings of Arbroath, Brechin, or elsewhere, any other allusions to small schyres in Angus, nor indeed in any part lying to the north of Lunan Water. The great districts of Anzegus and Moernes (Angus and Meares) are mentioned together as well known divisions in a writing about the year 1210, but are not formally styled shires.

Makbeth, Sheriff of Scone, the Thane of Strathearn; Constantine, Judge of Strathearn; and Bricius, Judge (or "Judex"), are among the witnesses to Laurence of Abernethy's grant of that church about 1190—and afterwards, (luring the reigns of William and Alexander II., this Bricius is often witness to charters granted at Forfar and elsewhere under the title of the King's Judge; although during the same period King William alludes to "William Cumyn, my Sheriff of Forfar," as a donor of land to Arbroath Abbey. The shire of Forfar was probably at that time only the king's estate of Forfar. John Wiscliard was Sheriff of Mearns about 1210, and Galfridus was Sheriff of Fife in 1212. John de Moray was Sheriff of Perth in 1214; and in 1219 Hugo de Cambrun was Sheriff of Forfar, and Adam was Judge of the Court of the Earls of Angus, and afterwards (probably on the death of Bricius) he became Judge of the King's Court, and his brother Kerald succeeded to his office in the Earls' Court. In the recognition of the perambulation of the marches of Kinblethmont, held in the King's Court at Forfar, on 27th January 1227-8, the judicial powers of the Court seem to have been exercised by John de Hay, Sheriff of Perth, Thomas blalherbe, Sheriff of Forfar, and others; while Kerald, Judge of Angus, and Adam, Judge of the King, are ranked among the inferior functionaries as jurymen. Soon after this period (viz., about 1229) William de Blundo is styled Sheriff of Perth and Scone. In 1218 Thomas Wyseman was Sheriff of Elgin ; and a writ dated in 1299 refers to Lord J. Earl of Athol, then Sheriff of Aberdeen. There were no Sheriffs beyond Inverness till the reign of James IV., about 1303. In further illustration of the introduction of sheriffships at this time, it may be here remarked that King William's earliest grants to the Abbey are addressed simply to all good men, clerks and laics; but afterwards they are addressed to Bishops, Abbots, Earls, Barons, Justiciars, Sherifs, and all good men, clerks and laics.

From the above it may be fairly concluded that in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the new territorial divisions termed shires were introduced into the whole lowlands of Scotland ; that the kings of the family of Malcolm Canmore, among their other importations from England, applied the new name to various tracts of their own lands, and styled their judicial officers Sheriffs; and that it accordingly became fashionable for the great lords and barons, and even some of the Abbots to follow their example, and apply the term to their estates. It is to be presumed that in many instances, especially in the larger shires, the Sheriff exercised the functions which had been previously_ exercised by the old Judges or their deputes, and that the office of Judge became a sinecure like the more modern judicial office of High Sheriff. It appears that in the legal as well as the ecclesiastical department the old Gaelic and Saxon titles and offices may have remained for some time after the introduction of the newer functionaries. In various districts the Judge and the Sheriff, as, we have seen, are both mentioned at the same time; but it may be observed from the names already specified that the Judges' names were usually Gaelic, while the names of the Sheriffs, especially toward the east coast, were in English. There is little reason to doubt that along with the change in the title of the administrator, there was also at that period a considerable change in the mode of administering the law, if not in the law itself ; and that the old Celtic system of commuting every crime by a fixed money payment was then abolished. The Norman Judges seem to have gone to the opposite extreme of punishing minor crimes, such as theft, with death; an abuse which lasted till the present century was commenced. Some of our historians have been unable to discover any presiding Judge enjoying the title of Sheriff over these minute divisions called shires. It was not to be expected that Sheriffs would be continued in the schyres which were entirely given to Arbroath and other Abbeys, after the date of the gift—their officers were termed Stewarts and Baillies. But two of the largest "schyres" in Fife undoubtedly possessed Sheriffs; as "Gillebride, Sheriff of Dunfermelin," is a witness to King William's general Confirmation to the Priory of St Andrews; and William and Galfrid, both termed Sheriffs of Crail (Karel), are successively witnesses to other grants about the same period to that religious house. For some time also the great barons seemed to have styled their judicial officers Sheriffs before they were styled Bailies. With the exception, however, of the shires which have been retained till the present time, the most of these small shires were lost to public notice, or were merged into the newer divisions of Constabularies, Regalities, Stewartries or Baronies, by the time of King Robert Bruce. Where the royal castles existed at Kingborn, Crail, and Dundee, these shires came to be termed Constabularies. But in many instances the names of the small schyres were retained in the feudal descriptions of lands, till the last remains of them were included in the sweep of the Act 1748 abolishing the heritable jurisdictions.

The introduction of parishes into this part of Scotland, and more particularly the causes of the particular boundaries and formations of parishes, are subjects on which considerable light is thrown by the Abbey records. No reference to parishes in Scotland has been found earlier than A.D. 813. They are, however, mentioned in the grants of Alexander I. and David I. to the monasteries of Dunfermline and Scone, and, as has been already noticed, the parish of Kilrimund is mentioned about the year 1170. Monikie (Muniekkin) is the first parish alluded to under that title in the Chartulary of Arbroath, toward the latter end of the reign of King William; and about the same time the parish of Ecclesgreig in Kincardineshire is mentioned in the register of St Andrews. But from the death of Malcolm Canmore till a considerable time after the foundation of Arbroath Abbey, the districts now termed parishes were, as already mentioned, generally termed schyres; as in King William's great charter he grants not four parishes but four schyres, with their churches and pertinents. After King William's death the references to parishes become more numerous, but are far from being frequently mentioned in descriptions of lands during several succeeding centuries. The situation of lands was for a long period much more commonly indicated by the name of the secular division of "schyre," regality, barony or lordship in which they lay, at least in writings executed for secular purposes. Indeed the modern and less systematic custom of describing lands by reference to the ecclesiastical divisions of parishes and the secular divisions of counties is of a late origin, and only came into general use after the date of the Act of 1748, already referred to.

It is very apparent that at the formation of a great number of the parishes in Scotland they were simply estates, or tracts of land, the proprietors of which built the church and provided for its endowment by tithes payable from their own surrounding grounds. As already stated, these districts were at an early period termed shires, territories, and lordships in the writings of the religious houses; and were afterwards formed into baronies and portions of regalities. Thus the four parishes in Forfarshire given to the Abbey were termed shires in King William's days,—were afterwards incorporated into the regality,—and are spoken of in the reign of King James VI. (1592) as baronies. With the exception of a few small parishes, the changes of property during several centuries have led to the division of most parishes among several proprietors; but it will still be generally found that the boundary line of two parishes is at the same time the boundary line of two estates, or at least of lands acquired by one family at different periods.

It is, however, to be kept in view, that several of the older parishes of great extent are found to have been in the hands of various proprietors at a very early date, so as to lead to the conclusion that the proprietors had either from their own motive, or by the authority of some civil or ecclesiastical ruler, acted together in the erection and support of one church, which became the Parish Church of their several lands.

The strange shapes of parishes, and the origin of their detached portions, are subjects that are capable of explanations by an attentive perusal of these old monastic records. There is no evidence that the detached barony of Inverpeffer and the detached estate of Dumbarrow formed parts of the shires (parishes) of Aberbrothock and Dunnichen when these were granted in property by King William at the foundation of the Abbey; but the Chartulary bears that the same king afterwards granted the lands of Inverpeffer in property not to the Abbey but to Walkelinus, one of his officers, to be held of the Monks of Arbroath as superiors; and the lands of Durnbarrow were not granted to the Abbey till the reign of Alexander II., and could not have previously formed part of the shire or parish of Dunnichen, which his father bestowed more than thirty years previously. The conclusion then is evident, that after the Monks acquired these tracts of land they disjoined them from the parishes to which they had originally and naturally belonged (viz., Inverpeffer from Arbirlot, and Dumbarrow from Idvies or Kirkden) and annexed them to the nearest of the other parishes, which consisted of Abbey lands in their own possession.

The annexation of the lands of Kirkbuddo to the parish of Guthrie, from which it is several miles distant, took place at a period comparatively recent, namely, after the Reformation. Previous to that era the proprietor of Guthrie had become patron of the parsonage of Kirkbuddo, with right to the glebe or church lands and pasturage for six cows; and after being supplied with a reader for some years the church of this small parish was suppressed, and its tithes given as an addition to the income of the also small parish of Guthrie.

There is no indication that at the time of the foundation of Arbroath Abbey any of the churches bestowed on it had been distinguished by the names of Patron Saints. This is shown by the confirmatory bull of Pope Lucius, granted on 6th April 1182; and although in King William's general charter, dated between 1211 and 1214, no less than twenty-five churches are included — the church of Old Montrose (Maryton) is the only one mentioned in connection with the name of a Saint, who in that instance was St Mary the Virgin. This seems to have been the first church thus dedicated by the Monks ; and they very soon affixed the names of various Saints to other churches obtained by them, and got the titles recognised in confirmatory grants. Thus Roger, Bishop of St Andrews between 1188 and 1202, confirmed the grant of Aberbrothock church under the name of the church of "Saint Vigian of Aberbrothoc;" and in the title of the document given in the Chartulary the Monks have styled him St Vigian the Confessor,—that is, one who has suffered for the truth, but not to death. The name of St Murdochus or Murdacus is not found mentioned in connection with the church of Ethic till between 1219 and 1226, when Henry, Prior of St Andrews, confirmed it to the Abbey under that title. Walter de Berkeley granted simply the "church of Inverkeillor" to the Abbey, and King William confirmed the grant without reference to a Patron Saint. But in grants soon afterwards made by the same persons relative to hunting and pasturage in the territory of Inverkeillor, the title given to the church is that of "Saint Macconoc of Inuivkeleder," a Saint not mentioned in the Scottish calendar under that name, but who, it has been suggested to the Editors of the Chartulary, may probably have been St Canech or Kenny, the contemporary of St Columba, who visited him at Hy or Iona, and who gives name to Kilkenny. Among others, the church of Banchory was afterwards dedicated by the Monks to St Ternan, and the church of Aberchirdir to St Marnan or Marnoch. Other monasteries adopted the same practice; as, for example, the Monks of Restennet consecrated their church of Dunninald to the memory of St Skaoch or St Skay, the church of Craig was dedicated to St Braoch, and the Monks of St Andrews dedicated the church of Ecclesgreig to St Cyrus; so that during succeeding centuries every church belonging to a religious house, if not every lay parsonage, was consecrated to one Saint at least, and sometimes to two or more; while the more eminent Saints, such as St Mary, St Andrew, St Ninian, St Nicholas and others, had churches, chapels, and altars bearing their names in various parts of the country.

It may be remarked that, as one effect of the prevalence of Saint Worship during this period, it became fashionable to distinguish places solely by the names of these tutelar demigods rather than by the more ancient terms. Thus Kilrymont was superseded by St Andrews, Inveerie by St Monance, Aberluthnot by (St) Marykirk, and Conveth by (St) Laurencekirk. In other cases such as Perth, the ancient term (a contraction of Aberthay) has been fully recovered, while the Papal name of St Johnstown has again become obsolete. This reverse process was taking effect in the case of St Vigeans, when it was arrested by the erection of the new church in the town of Arbroath, which, for distinction's sake, led in course of time, to a restriction of the ancient British term Aberbrothock to the modern church, and of the newer tutelar title St Vigeans to the ancient church. But on this account, during more than half a century after the Reformation, it is sometimes difficult to discover to which of these churches the title of "Minister at Aberbrothock" is to be applied.

The obscure subject of Abthanes and Abthaneries is one on which a remark or two may be made in connection with the Abbey records. Some have held the Abthane to be a superior or Archthane ; while others, such as Chalmers, consider it clear that the term Abthane denoted the Abbot's thane in contradistinction to the king's thane; and that he was an ecclesiastical bailiff or steward. But if the term ever denoted an office it was at a period earlier than the date of any existing records, and must, we think, have had references to Abbes or Abbots of the Culdees, or other ecclesiastics, before the introduction of Papal Abbeys into Scotland; for wherever we have found the word in the original charters granted to Papal monasteries and otherwise, it has been applied as descriptive of land and not of office; and the relative term Abbe fell into disuse on the suppression of the Culdees. Thus King William granted to his Chancellor the lands of the "Abbacie of Munros" (Montrose) to be held of the Monks of Arbroath; and as the Editors of the Chartulary state, this "Abbacie" cannot be identified with any possession except the land of the church of "St Mary of Old Munros," which in Scotch is called " Abthen," as explained in Kin; William's great charter, where the grant of these church lands is confirmed to the Monks. Between 1201 and 1204 Gilchrist, Earl of Angus, granted the church of Monifod (Monifieth) with its chapels, lands, teinds, and pasture to the Monks of Arbroath, who held the same for centuries. But seventeen years afterwards (about 1220), Malcolm, Earl of Angus, granted the whole lands of the Abthein of Monifod, with mills, waters, fields, pastures, muirs, marshes, fishings, &c. to Nicholas, son of Bricius, priest of Kirriemuir (one of the old married clergy); and the grant was confirmed by his daughter. Maud or Matilda, Countess of Anus, about 1242; one of whose charters granted to the Abbey about this time was witnessed by the same Bricius, styled parson of Kirriemuir; as also by Nicholas, Abbe of Monifod (apparently he who obtained the Abthein); and by one bearing the newer name and title of William, vicar of Monifod, the acting priest under the Monks. In the succeeding charter of the Countess Maud she granted to the Monks of Arbroath "the whole lands to the south of the church of Monifod, which the Keledei held in the lifetime of my father, with the toft and croft on the east side of that church;" and seventy years afterwards (in 1310) Michael of Monifieth, the "proprietor of the Abbathanie thereof," bound himself to pay to the Convent of Arbroath six shillings and eight pence of sterlings, with half a boll of mustard seed, for the toft and croft which he held of them in the territory of the Abbathanie. Now although we can scarcely agree in the opinion of the Editors of the Chartulary that "this toft was without doubt" the land to the south of Alonifieth church which the Culdees had held—(it may have been the toft and croft to the east of that church),—yet these notices serve to show that in this case lands called Abthein, and the name or title of Abbe were. used in connection with a church where the Culdees had lived, or at least had held lands, for about thirty years after the foundation of Arbroath Abbey.

The Monkish term Abbaciae and the Scotch terms Abthane, Abthein, Abthen or Abden were names given to lands in the neighbourhood of various ancient churches situated in favoured or striking localities, where the earlier Christians or Culdees may be supposed to have settled. Thus King William gave the lands of the "Abbacie of Eglisgreig" (St Cyrus) according to its ancient boundaries, with the church of the parish and the chapel of St Regulus to the Priory of St Andrews. The same Priory also obtained the church of Dull in Perthshire from Hugh, Bishop of Dunkeld, including among its pertinents the "Abthanie of Dull." The ecclesiastics of St Andrews also acquired the Abden of Kinghorn, lying contiguous to the church. There were also lands called Abden beside the churches of Ratho, Kettins, and Blairgowrie, and probably at the old church of Lindores, now called Abdie, situated on the banks of its picturesque lake. But we are unable to state the history or circumstances connected with the last-mentioned cases. From what is here given (and the sources of information are very limited), it may, however, we think, be safely concluded, in the words of the preface to Arbroath Chartulary that the Abthein "was land, the property of or connected with an Abbot or Abbacy—perhaps of a Columbite or Culdee house;" and that it also very probably formed the church lands of a Culdee establishment under the possession and management of its Abbe or superior (as Ab in Gaelic is said to mean Abbot), for behoof of himself and the other incumbents.

The ancient order of churchmen called Culdees is a subject which has long engaged the attention and interest of. historians and antiquaries; and it is gratifying to find such an amount of authentic information on this favourite topic of enquiry as is given by the early monastic writings of Arbroath. The histories of the Abbey of Scone and of the two great monasteries in Fifeshire take up the subject at an earlier date. Alexander I. displaced the Culdees of Scone for Augustinian Monks about 1115. The Dunfermline Chartulary shows that in the reign of David I. the Culdees of that place were superseded by English Monks, who soon got possession of Kirkaldy, which is generally believed to have been another Culdee seat; and about the same time that they and the Monks of St Andrews contended for and were allowed to divide betwixt them the lands of Balchristie (Town of the Christians) in Newburn parish, a Culdee establishment of ancient date. The register of St Andrews very clearly exhibits the suppression of the Culdees or Hermits of Lochleven, who had received the patronage of King Makbeth, his Queen, Lady Makbeth, (whose true Gaelic name was Gruoch), Malcolm III., and other Scottish monarchs. It contains King David's grant of the . Island of Lochleven to the Canons of St Andrews that they might there set up canonical order, with the declaration that if the Culdees found on the island would live regularly (that is, according to the new Canons) with the Monks they might remain, but that if they resisted they should be "ejected from the island." That they were soon ejected there can be no doubt, for the king's favourite Bishop Robert of St Andrews, about the same time, granted to the Canons of St Andrews the Abbey of Lochleven with all its lands, churches, and rents, even " the church vestments which the Chelede had," and the books of their library, of which a catalogue is given, concluding with what was evidently a Culdee controversial book of the time, titled "Exceptions or Objections to Ecclesiastical Rules," or the Regulations of the new Canons or Monks. A small Culdee house at Portmoak, in the same parish, also came into possession of the Monks of St Andrews, who afterwards maintained for some time an hospital of St Thomas for the sustentation of the poor at or near that spot. It is also well known that in King David's reign the Culdees were displaced at St Andrews itself, to make room for Augustine Monks; and that the Culdees of Monymusk were placed under the power of the Bishop of St Andrews, who, in the face of solemn engagements, afterwards suppressed their order at that place in favour of regular Canons.

Half a century subsequent to King David's reforttation of the more southern Culdees, the Chartulary of Arbroath introduces us to further acquaintance with the two great Culdee colleges of Strathearn and Angus, Abernethy and Brechin, where they have left memorials of their peculiar architecture in the round towers, of which the square towers of St Andrews, Dunblane, and others, are the successors. Soon after the foundation of Arbroath Abbey, Lawrence, son of Orm of Abernethy, granted to it all his claims to the patronage of the church of Abernethy, with its chapels of Dron, Dunbog, and Errol, the lands of Belach and Petinlouer (Pitlour), one-half of the tithes of the property of himself and his heirs (the other half of which he stated belonged to the "Keledei of Abirnythy"), and the whole tithes of the territory of Abernethy, except those of the churches of Flisk and Cultrum (perhaps Coultray, in or near Balmerino parish), and excepting the tithes of his lordship of Abernethy, which the Culdees have always possessed, namely, those of Mugdrum, Carpow, and others. This encroachment on the Culdees of Abernethy was confirmed by King William on the same day, in a Charter wherein he speaks of himself as the donor of the church of Abernethy, with its chapels. As was to be expected under such a grant, the Culdees of Abernethy and the Monks of Arbroath were soon engaged in disputes as to their respective rights, and in which both parties vigorously contested for a long period, as fully detailed by Keith, Jamieson, and others, but in which, as in all other similar cases, the poor and now antiquated Culdees were ultimately vanquished. The sentence of the Bishop of Dunblane pronounced in 1214 against the claims of the "Prior and Kelledei of Abirnethy" in the course of this litigation is recorded among the Abbey writs, which give no further notices of this ancient religious house.

The Monks of Arbroath did not obtain any of the endowments which were in the actual possession of the Culdees of Brechin in the time of King William; although it is very probable that the lands and other privileges granted to them by the Abbes or Abbots of Brechin had formerly belonged to the Culdees. This may also have been the case with some of the churches and other gifts bestowed by the bishops of Brechin; as that see was founded by David I., and he always dealt very unceremoniously with the Keledei who came in his way. The Culdees of Brechin, who were established by King Kenneth III. about 991, however, survived the fall of many Culdee houses, and continued (in a manner, perhaps, modernised) to form entirely or chiefly the bishop's chapter during nearly a century after their suppression at St Andrews. By an early charter of King William he confirmed King David's grant of a market in favour of the "Bishop and Keldeis of the church of Brechine." (Brechin Chartulary, No. 1.) Their first appearance in the Arbroath Chartulary is as witnesses to Bishop Turpin's grant of a toft and croft at Stricathro before 1198. Their Gaelic names are "Bricius, Prior of Brechin; Gillefali, Kelde; Bricius, chaplain: Mathalan, Kelde; Makbetli, Maywen." Gillefali and Mathalan were probably simple Culdees. The bishops of Brechin afterwards speak of them familiarly as "our Keledei." Their Priors, named Bricius and Malbryde, are successively witnesses to many of the grants by which the bishops of Brechin granted to the Abbey of Arbroath their churches of Old Montrose, Dunnichen, Kingoldrum, Panbride, Monikie, Guthrie, Katterine, with teind-fish on the Northesk, and others. A Dean of Brechin, as well as the Prior of the Culdees, appears before 1198; and about the end of the reign of King William the chapter of Brechin is found to be composed of "Malbry de the Prior, the Keledei, and other clerics;" and in 1248, shortly before the death of King Alexander II., the Culdees disappear from the Bishops' chapter altogether, at least under that name ; as it is; said to consist simply of "William, Dean, and Chapter of Brechin;" so that by the middle of the thirteenth century we may conclude that the Culdees of Brechin, perhaps the last survivors of their order, had fallen before their more powerful rivals; although some writers have believed that a few remnants may have survived during the next fifty years.

The Editors of the Chartularies of Arbroath and Brechin have noticed the existence of a singular class of secular Culdee Abbots about the time of the commencement of these records. Lawrence, son of Orm of Abernethy, who, as has been already stated, speaks of the lands and property of himself and his heirs, is, at the same time, styled by King William the "Abbot of Abernethy;" and, without doubt, lived as a baron at Carpow (Kerpul), the old mansion or castle of the lords of Abernethy, while the real functions of the Abbot were practically performed by one of the Culdees who bore the title of Prior. So, in like manner, as early as about the time of the foundation of the see of Brechin by David I., the nominal head of the Culdee college of that place, the Abbot of Brechin had become a secular baron, styled sometimes Leod of Brechin and at other times Leod the Abbot, ranked among lay, but not clerical, dignitaries, and possessing, without doubt, the castle of Brechin and the most of the lands which had originally been given to the Culdee community. It also appears that the Abbots of Brechin were married, and transmitted their Culdee estates and their title of Abbot to their families. Donald, who styles himself Abbe or Abbot of Brechin, and who was grandson of Leod, granted certain lands to the Monks of Arbroath for the safety of the souls of his father Samson, and of himself and his heirs after him; and the Prior of the Culdees is among the witnesses. While in other charters of this period the Prior, as a clerk, takes precedence of this Donald as a laic among the witnesses. In 1219 John Abbe, the son of Malise, made a grant to Arbroath of firewood from his woods of Edzell, for the salvation of himself, his ancestors, and heirs; which is witnessed by Morgrund and John his sons, and Malcolm his brother. "John Abb de Brechin and Morgrund his son" were present at the perambulation of the marches bf Kinblethmont on 23rd September 1219; and about the same time, or shortly afterwards, this Morgrund confirmed his father's grant, by a Deed which is witnessed by John Abbe and others. There were thus, from the time of David I. to William I., five persons successively bearing this title, which ultimately became the surname of the family, namely, Leod, Samson, Donald, John son of Malise, and Morgrund, with whom the race and family of the Abbes of Brechin disappear. Henry de Brechin, son of David Earl of Huntingdon, is the next person on record who soon afterwards takes his style from Brechin; and his descendants held it till the reign of Robert Bruce, along with the lordship or estate of Brechin, which may be supposed to be identical with the Abbacy or lands originally granted for the support of the Culdees.

Besides these lay Abbes of Abernethy and Brechin, there existed, as already noticed, an Abbe of Monifieth, and there was an Abbe of Arbirlot. The writs of Coldinghain and other church registers afford similar instances of persons bearing this name or title at or subsequent to the fall of the Culdees.

From these and other notices, we learn that where large landed grants had been made to the Culdees, as at Dunkeld, Abernethy, and Brechin, the Abbot was allowed, as later Abbots and Bishops have since been usually allowed, to appropriate to himself the greater part (the lion's share) of their possessions, and to perform his church functions by deputy, while lie gave his personal attention to the more stirring matters of state and military exercise. But the peculiarity in the case of Culdee Abbots was their marriage, and the transmission of their official lands along with the name of their office to their heirs; who having neither the desire nor ability to perform the religious duties in consideration of which the endowments had been made, were no more servants of the Church than were the lay commendators who atained possession of church lands and tithes at the Reformation, four hundred years afterwards; and thus the gifts of the founders became alienated from their original pious purposes, and served only to enrich and maintain private families. There is no reason to doubt that the evil example thus proved to have been shown by the heads of the Culdee houses was followed to a greater or less extent by their inferiors ; and that in the latter years of their history there was too much ground for the charge made against them by their successors, the Papal Monks, that, "after the death of the Culdees their wives or children, or relations appropriated their estates, and even the offerings made at those altars whose service they neglected; a sacrilege which we should have been ashamed to mention, had not they not been ashamed to do it." The more narrowly the circumstances attending the extinction of the Culdees are examined, there appears the greater reason to form a very low estimate of their purity and efficiency for some time previously, and to suspect that it is distance which lends enchantment to the view which some writers have formed of them, as at that time self-denied confessors struggling for Christian truth amidst overwhelming foes. Although there is little doubt that piety and sincerity existed among the poorer members of the order (just as at a later period sincerity was found lingering among the poorer Papal Monks), the secularisation, both of the heads of the Culdee houses and of the inferior members of the order, help to explain the little sympathy which they received from King Alexander I. and his successors, who, we believe, were sincerely desirous to reform their National Church by the introduction of ecclesiastics then bearing in Scotland a character much superior in activity, zeal, learning, and perhaps even in purity of manners; although they afterwards sunk far below the Culdees in extortion, pride, secularity, error, idolatry, and profligacy. The monastic writings clearly spew, for example, that the idolatrous deification of saints and angels did not exist among the Culdees. 'Their condition at this time also explains the helplessness of the acting Culdees when their possessions were attacked, and the want of assistance received from other parties throughout the kingdom in their struggles for retention of their ancient rights. It is also to be recollected that the custom, which appears so strange to us, of the children of the Culdees succeeding to their sacred offices and benefices by heirship, was part of an ancient system in Scotland, by which all offices, civil as well as sacred, became hereditary, and consequently sinecures, the incompetent heir sticking fast to the possession of the lands or benefice, but leaving the duties of the office to a. stipendiary deputy, or oftener to a new official appointed and paid by the State. The last remains of this system in the civil department is scarcely yet abolished. The evils of such a system were seen in the state of the Culdees ; but the idea of hereditary succession to office seems to have been then so strong, that the only effectual remedy for it was believed to be the application of a rule equally strange, namely, that the clergy should live and die bachelors, so that they could have no legal heirs to claim their benefices and official titles. The celibacy of the clergy had, as is well known, other plausible recommendations at that time; but a consideration of the corruption which had flowed from the hereditary succession of the early married clergy is necessary to explain how a law so unnatural and fraught with so many evils, as enforced celibacy, came to be submitted to and established over the whole of Christendom during several succeeding ages, until the wiser plan was devised of conferring office and benefice, not by heritage, but according to personal qualification.

These remarks on the Culdees may be fitly concluded, in a work on Arbroath Abbey, by an endeavour to give some answer to the question whether there were to any extent Culdee establishments at the neighbouring churches of Monifieth and Arbirlot.

With regard to the first of these churches it has been shewn, in the notice of the Abthaneries, that there existed at Monifieth a tract of land called Abthein, and also a person holding the title of Abbe for some considerable time after that church was bestowed on the Monks of Arbroath; and further, that the Culdees held land near the church in the time of Earl Malcolm, about 1220. These Culdees are styled by the Countess Maud simply as "the Keledei," without any indication that they belonged to another establishment; and it may on this account be naturally supposed that they lived and ministered at Monifieth church, which would in that case be, on a srnalI scale, the church of a college like the early churches of Abernethy and Brechin. That Monifieth was a seat of the Culdees is the opinion of the writer of the Statistical Account in 1842, who adds that "when the old church was pulled down in 1812, and the foundations of the present house excavated, some remains of the Culdee edifice were discovered." This ancient collegiate establishment at Monifieth was very probably the origin and occasion of the choir which stood at the east end of the old church before its demolition, as mentioned in the Statistical Account of 1794; such a choir being a necessary and characteristic portion of a collegiate church. From these concurrent circumstances we are inclined to conclude, although not very confidently, that Monifieth is entitled to be ranked among the Culdee houses of Scotland.

The question as regards Arbirlot is involved in still greater obscurity. The church of that parish was from an early period ranked as within the diocese of St Andrews; and the bishops of that see claimed right to its revenues, or, at least, to its patronage. It was also situated within lands belonging to them, as the bishops possessed the lands of the parish which lay to the east of the Elliot water (on which the church stands) at an early period. Roger, who was bishop from 1188 to 1202, granted Arbirlot church along with others to the Abbey of Arbroath, but reserved to himself and his successors as bishops, "the lands of the church of Aberheloth." His successor, William MZalvoisine, made a fresh grant of the church with its chapels, teinds, and oblations under a like reservation to him and his successors of the lands. The Arbroath Monks retained the patronage of the church till the Reformation; and the bishops of St Andrews continued to retain the lands in question during at least two hundred and fifty years after the foundation of the Abbey, as in the time of Abbot Panter they are styled "the bischoppis land of Sanctandros." They were part of the great regality of St Andrews; and after their subinfeudation were termed the barony of Arbirlot or of Cuthlie. But it :appears from the Abbey records that, similar to Monifieth and Brechin, Arbirlot possessed its " Abbe" for several years after the church came into the hands of the Monks of Arbroath. Between the years 1201 and 1207 " Mauricius, Abbe of Abereloth," was a witness to four charters of Gilchrist Earl of Angus, by which lie granted to the Abbey the churches of Monifieth, Murroes, Strathdichty, and Kirriemuir, and to a fifth charter in which he included the whole. Four of these deeds are at the same time witnessed by another Mauricius, who is styled "Chaplain of Abereloth," and who takes immediate precedence of the "Abbe;" their position being below the other clerical witnesses, and above the names of Adam Albo and Hugo de Benne, the two remaining lay witnesses. There is no further appearance of the Abbe of Arbirlot, unless he be the "Mauritius Abba," who is named among the lay witnesses to John do Montfort's grant of Katerlyn about 1212. The last "chaplain of Abereloth" on record is one "Galfridus," who is so designed, and is ranked under Nicholas of Inverpeffer, Roger of Balcathie, and other neighbouring landed proprietors, as a witness to Adam do TZorham's grant of the church of Panbride in 1214.

Alongside of these obscure indications we may allude to the tradition that a religious house once existed at an old hamlet still known by the peculiar name of "the College" on the top of the north bank of the Rottenrow Burn, about a mile to the north-west of the present church of Arbirlot. The late Rev. Richard Watson, Minister of Arbirlot, alluded to this tradition in his Statistical Account of 1792, in the following terms:-

"A few years ago the remains of a religious house in the parish, whose ruins had been revered for ages, were removed. And although we cannot say at what time, or by what person it was built, yet from the accounts given of it we have reason to believe that it had been a Druidical temple." From the confusion in the minds of the illiterate as to Druids and Culdees, it is not surprising, although in this instance, the one should be thought and spoken of in place of the other, by those from whom the minister may have derived his information. It is much more probable, however, that the religious house alluded to had belonged to the Culdees rather than the earlier Druids. The question, as already stated, is very obscure. But when the old Culdee title of "Abbe of Arbirlot" is taken in connection with the tradition and the name of the hamlet, all these circumstances concur to make it a point worth the further investigation of some antiquary as to whether it can be yet definitely proved that one of the many colleges of the Culdees formerly existed in this retired and secluded spot, or in the more immediate neighbourhood of the Kirktown of Arbirlot.

Return to Book Index Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus