THE history of the
Blackhalls of that Ilk and Barra is interesting, as an example of
the imprudent methods of the later Stuarts, who were, doubtless,
aided by the active assent of courtiers whose own interests were not
at the moment jeopardised by measures which affected the prosperity
of others than themselves.
That the natural
development of these methods and their application in the taxation
and general coercion of the enlarged kingdom after the Union,
ultimately led to the undoing of the Stuart dynasty, is a detail
which chiefly interests the student of history as evidence of the
awakening, inconvenient for that dynasty, of a Nemesis so long
somnolent, that it appears to have been regarded as too torpid to be
roused by any degree of privileged arrogance. But, an fo?id, man is
one and free, and, however tardily in some cases, tends to readjust
a disordered balance of right by claiming due consideration for the
individual, when these principles are assailed either by royal,
imperial or democratic transgressors.
The Blackhalls, as
one among other families who have suffered from the arbitrary policy
of their rulers, enlist our sympathy, because such a feeling is
naturally evoked when attention is specially directed to any act of
flagrant injustice. An account, therefore, of their origin,
development and fate, may be considered to possess a certain general
interest, at least for those connected with that part of the country
in which, for a considerable and from an early period, they had a
The writer had,
however, no intention of dealing genealogically in any detail, with
their later descendants, but, it has been suggested to him, by one
whose opinion carries weight with members of the New Spalding Club,
that this book would be more complete were a chapter added dealing
with this matter, of interest only to few. Hence these lines.
It will be remembered
that shortly before his death without issue (p. 81), John Blackhall
of that Ilk, the last in the direct male line of the Barra family,
and likewise the last of the Hereditary Coroners and Foresters of
the Garioch, gave a charter of the remnant of his property to his
eldest sister, Margaret, and her husband, Patrick Forbes (p. 80).
We have learned also
that only one of Margaret Blackhall’s sons, the Rev. John Forbes of
Kincardine O’Neil, left progeny—an only daughter Nicola, who married
John Forbes of Kincardine (p. 85).
To this couple five
children—three sons and two daughters—were born, according to the
Register of Births of the Parish of Kincardine O’Neil, namely:—
1. Barbara, b. 1709.
2. Margaret, b. October, 1710.
3. John, b. July, 1712.
4. Harie (Harry), b. November, 1713.
5. William, b. January, 1716.
Of these children,
according to notes in the handwriting of a descendant, Sir Alexander
Morison of Bankhead, Midlothian, and now in the possession of the
writer, John and Harry died in infancy ; William was “drowned going
to London”; Barbara died unmarried in Aberdeen; and Margaret alone
daughter of Nicola Forbes of Kincardine and great-grand-daughter of
Margaret Blackhall of Blackhall, thus became by biological
succession the representative of the Barra Blackhalls of that Ilk,
who were twice confiscated by James VI. and then “reduced” by the
Earl of Mar, as has been related. She married George, son of William
Herdman, Chambferlain to the last and Jacobite Earl Marischal, and
had issue an only daughter—
Mary, born, according
to the Register of Births in the Parish of Dunnotar, in 1740. On
July 28th in that year, her grandfather, John Forbes of Kincardine,
was still alive, and in possession of his estate, and attested her
baptism. Her parents and immediate relatives appear to have died
while she was still young, and she thus came under the care of her
mother’s relative, Francis Garden (of Troup), later Lord Gardenstone,
a man of ability and warmth of heart, albeit somewhat eccentric, to
whom she owed much of her happier fortune in life. She married, on
November 24th, 1763, Andrew Murison of Anchorfield, near Edinburgh,
Writer in that City, who received his legal training in the service
of Lord Gardenstone.
father spelt his name indifferently Moorison, Mu'rison and Murison,
and when his son, Andrew, was baptised on February 4th, 1730, his
name appears as Murison in the Register of Births of the Parish of
Gamrie in Banffshire. The form of the name first used by him was
Moorison. John Moorison was tenant of the Mains of Troup on the
Garden estate of that name.
acquired Anchorfield by purchase in 1774, retained the spelling of
his name used in the baptismal register, and matriculated arms in
the Lyon Oftice in 1791 as such.-J- lie, however, still further
varied the patronymic orthography by causing his children to use the
name of Morison.
He and his wife had
five children—four sons and one daughter—
1. Francis Morison,
born April 8th, 1765. He graduated as Doctor of Medicine at the
University of Edinburgh in 1787, and dedicated his Graduation Thesis
to Francis Garden, Lord Gardenstone, after whom he had been named,
and who took a warm interest in his career, in the following words
of quasi-filial affection: “ Cui pauci sunt similes, mei Patri quasi
alteri, affini vero et consanguineo.” He appears to have been an
Honorary Member and President of the Physical Society in Edinburgh.
He died early, and unmarried, on December 30th, 1795, from typhus
fever, caught in the exercise of his profession, a mode of death
There is an Act of
the Edinburgh Town Council, of date April 5th, 1775, and signed
“Jno. Dundas," which grants “Andrew Murison, Writer in Edinburgh,” a
strip of ground on the coast line near Anchorfield, together with
permission to use as much rock and giavel from the corresponding
portion of the seashore as he required, to complete a bulwark he was
building, to safeguard his own proper'y, and also a public highway,
from the encroachment of the .sea. Anchorfield remained in (he
possession of his family until 1897, and the site of the old house
is now occupied by blocks of dwellings which retain the same name
not less worthy, I trust, of being mentioned, than traumatic demise
on the battlefield, which rarely fails to be chronicled.
2. JOHN Morison, born
April 22nd, 1766. He was admitted a member of the Society of Writers
to the Signet in Edinburgh, and was, in his day, a well-known and
prosperous lawyer in that city. He purchased the estate of Hetland
in Dumfriesshire, where he died on May 15th, 1837. He married Jean,
daughter of Robert Farquhar of Newhall, Kincardineshire, and
grand-daughter of James Muirison or Morisonf of Elsick and Disblair,
Aberdeenshire, one of whose sons, Dr. Thomas Morison of Elsick and
Disblair, first drew attention to the medical value of the waters of
Strathpeffer. John Morison of Hetland left issue, three daughters—
(1.) Mary Morison,
who married the Rev. James Buchanan, D.D., Professor of Theology in
the New College, Edinburgh, and succeeded to Hetland. She left
issue, a daughter—
Buchanan, who married first, Lieut-Colonel William Rose Campbell of
Ballochyle, Argyllshire, and has issue, a son and daughter; and,
secondly, Hugh Miller of the Geological Survey, a son of the
well-known geologist and writer of that name, and has issue, a son,
by this marriage.
Mrs. Miller Morison
is now in possession of Hetland.
(2.) Amelia Grant
Morison, who succeeded to Muckle Carse, Dumfries-shire, another of
her father’s properties, and died unmarried.
(3.) Agnes Morison,
who married her cousin, Farquhar McCrae, M.D., Surgeon in the
Enniskilling Dragoons, and left issue.
3. Andrew Morison,
born November 10th, 1772. He was. drowned when a youth, at sea, in
1786. He was buried in the Churchyard of the Parish of St.
Cuthbert’s, Edinburgh, where his father and some other members of
his family are also interred.
His name in the
Register of Births of Aberdeen appears as Muirison on April 25th,
born May 1st, 1779. lie graduated Doctor of Medicine at the
University of Edinburgh in 1799; became a Fellow of the Royal
College of Physicians in Edinburgh in 1801; was President of that
College in 1827; and was elected a Fellow of the Royal College of
Physicians of London in 1841. He was Physician to the Duke of York,
Prince Leopold, later King of the Belgians, and to the Princess
Charlotte of Wales. In 1838 he received the honour of Knighthood.
Sir Alexander Morison
was a pioneer in this country in the special study of Mental
Diseases, and was for fifty years Visiting Physician to Bethleni
Hospital, and physician also to some other similar institutions, at
a time when the medical officers of some such hospitals, like those
attached to general hospitals to-day, were “visiting physicians,”
not “resident superintendents,” a system for which a good deal may
be said even now, in the opinion of some.
He was prominently
associated with the philanthropic movement in favour of the more
humane treatment of lunatics, and gave a moiety of his landed
property in 1864 to found a Lectureship on Mental Diseases in the
Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh, and to reward meritorious
attendants upon the insane.
In early life he
purchased the estate of Bankhead in the parish of Currie, Midlothian
(Reg. of Sasines for Edinburgh, 1806), but disposed of the greater
portion of it during his lifetime. He died on March 14th, 1866, and
was buried in the Churchyard of the Parish of Currie.
In 1799, he married
Mary, daughter of Alexander Cushnie of Aberdeen and of Windsor
Castle Farm, Jamaica, who died in 1846. In 1851, he married Grace,
daughter of James Young, Hurstmonceaux, Sussex, and sister of
Colonel Keith Young, C.B. She left no issue.
By his first wife,
Sir Alexander Morison had a large family, the greater number of whom
died young or unmarried. Two sons survived to manhood.
Cusiinie Morison, born February 13th, 1813. He became a Member of
the Royal College of Surgeons in England, and entered the Military
Service of the Honorable East India Company. He died on February
5th, 1861, on his return from India invalided, at Anchorfield
Cottage, a small house built for occasional use by the family for
seabathing, when the larger house at Anchorfield had become
uninhabitable by them from changes in the neighbourhood.1
He married, in 1849, Margaret Gordon, daughter of John Maclellan of
Benfield House, Wigtown, N.B., and grand-daughter of John Gordon of
Lochdougan, Kirkcudbrightshire, and left issue—
i. Alexander Morison,
the writer of these pages.
ii. Basil Gordon Morison, also a Doctor of Medicine of the
University of Edinburgh, and also a physician in London.
iii. Mary Morison.
(2.) Thomas Coutts
Morison, born 1823. He was a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons
in England; served as a surgeon in the Turkish Contingent during the
Crimean War; received the ordinary Turkish Decoration; and died
unmarried in Australia on March 24th, 1863.
Four of Sir Alexander
Morison’s daughters married—
(3.) SOMERVILLE, born
1809. She married Barron Grahame of Morphie, Kincardineshire, and of
Ravelrig, Midlothian, and left issue.
(4.) Jane, born 1813.
She married John, son of the Rev. John Summers, D.D., of Mid Calder,
West Lothian, and left issue.
(5.) Sarah, born
1819. She married Charles Richard Nicoll, M.D., Surgeon in the
Grenadier Guards, and left issue.
(6.) FRANCES, born
1825. She married Edward Hutton, and died without issue.
MARGARET Morison, the
only daughter of Andrew Murison of Anchorfield, was born on February
28th, 1770. She married William Gordon McCrae. In 1840, she died in
Australia, whither some of her family had emigrated. She left issue,
three sons and four daughters—
(1.) Alexander; a
Captain in the Army, who married, and had issue.
(2.) Andrew Murison ;
Writer to the Signet; a Magistrate in Australia, who married, and
(3.) Farquhar ; M.D.,
Enniskilling Dragoons, who married, and had issue.
(4.) Mary ; married
Cobham, M.D., and had issue.
(5.) THOMASINE ;
married the Honourable George Cole, of Melbourne, and had issue.
(6.) Agnes ; married
William Bruce of Symbister, N.B., and had issue.
(7.) Margaret ;
married Thomas, M.D., and had issue.