The Family of Edmonstone - Virtus Auget Honorem


The Great Garden of Pitmedden, of the Seton Baronets of Pitmedden.Cadets in the Setonl Household

The legend of a knight called Edmund coming from Hungary with Queen Margaret, wife of Malcolm III, cannot be substantiated. More factually the Edmonstones descend from a male-line of the Setons who took his name from the estate; where most surnames originally stemmed from a designation. The word tun or ton signified a town and therefore it seems probable that an Edmund, of the race of Seton, received the lands of Edmonstone in Midlothian, in the parish of Newton, four miles to the east of Edinburgh, as his appendage. The similarity of the three crescents which appear in the coats of arms in the Edmonstones of Duntreath and of the Setons of Abercorn, near Linlithgow, give obvious added evidence of relationship between the families concerned.

ARMS-Or, three crescents, within a doublet tressure, flory-counter-flory, gu.
CREST. Out of a ducal coronet, or, a swan's head and neck, ppr.
SUPPORTERS. Two sons, rampant, gu.
MOTTO.  Vertus Auget Honorem.


Duntreath Gallery        Armorial Gallery        Duntreath Castle

The Edmonstones of Cambuswallace and Newton , near Doune, were descended from the race of Duntreath. They were closely concerned in the events of local Jacobite history. Patrick Edmonstone of Newton was one of the party, which in 1708, plotted in the old change-house at Bridgend, Bridge of Allan. James Edmonstone carried the Royal Standard of James at Sheriffmuir, and it was he who rebuffed Rob Roy at Doune market. Robina Edmonstone of Cambus Wallace was the heroine of the incident at Newton, when, on her invitation, expressed in broad Scots, Prince Charles kissed the lady. She afterwards married a son of Stewart of Invernahyle. William Edmonstone of Cambuswallace was a benefactor of the town of Stirling, as it was he who projected the layout of the Black Walk in 1724. A stone in his honour bearing a suitable inscription may still be seen near the Guild Hall. One of the most intimate friends of Sir Walter Scott in his younger days was John James Edmonstone of Newton.

The fact that there is a place called Edmonstone in Lanarkshire is confusing, but no documentation has as yet been found to prove its connection with the senior line of the family.  The name is first recorded in 1248 when Henricus de Edmundiston was witness to a charter. In 1359, in the reign of David II, an inquest before the Baillie of Musselborough, declared that "Henricus de Edmundiston" had died and that "Johannes de Edmundiston" was his legitimate son and heir. It added that he held land of the Abbey of Dumfermline.

John Edmonstone, in 1352, was appointed by charter coroner to the district of Lothian. In 1363 he joined the escort which accompanied David II to England to negotiate a truce. In 1367 and again in 1369 passports were issued to Sir John and other knights, to travel to England on the King's behalf. The truce concluded at Edinburgh Castle, on the 20th July 1369, was signed by John de Edmondiston Miles and others of the chief nobility.  David II died in 1371 and thereafter Sir John Edmonstone acted for Robert II. In 1372 he travelled to England with twelve men, and in the following year of 1373 was sent as part of an embassy to Rome, an entry in the Exchequer Rolls, for £406-13s-4d, showing its expenses.

A charter of Robert II, dated 31st January 1374, authorised Sir John to travel as one of his ambassadors to France. They carried his instructions to intercede with Charles V to influence the Pope and Cardinals on behalf of Margaret Logie (widow of David II) in a suit to be brought before the papal court. Also they demanded reparation for attacks by Norman pirates on Scots traders.  In 1381 a passport was issued to John de Edmonstone, chevalier, with 16 men and 16 horses, to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, while another for the following year permitted their return.

Sir John must have been a man of substance. He was granted a charter of the lands and barony of Boyn, in Banff, by David II in 1369, and some lands near Haddington in East Lothian by Robert II. Also he seems to have been a trader. It is recorded that Richard II of England allowed him to take 200 quarters of malt with his own vessels from a port on the coast of Lincolnshire to any port he pleases in Scotland.

The date of his death, and likewise the identity of his wife, are unknown, but records show that he was succeeded by his eldest son, also named John. Also according to Sir Archibald Edmonstone, 3rd Bt, the Archibald, who founded the family of Duntreath was probably his younger son. (See Edmonstone of Duntreath) John Edmonstone the younger was a courtier like his father. He married Isabel, or Isabella, daughter of Robert II and widow of James, 2nd Earl of Douglas and Mar. The estate of Edenham, or Ednam, in Roxburghshire, was granted to them by Robert 11 in 1390.

Sir John by this marriage had one son David. An "agreement by way of indenture", dated Perth, April 7th, 1410, between Sir John Edmonstone of that ilk and Davy Edmonstone, his son and heir, with Patrick (Graham) Earl of Strathearn... of the lands and barony of Tillyallan (Tullyallan?) in Clackmannashire, proves their acquisition of this property.

Sir David, according to the Ednam pedigree, married Agnes, daughter of Robert Maitland of Thirlestane. He must have died in the prime of life for, in 1426, there is an inquest serving James Edmonstone as heir to this father.  In 1430 James Edmonstone, while still a boy, was amongst the sons of the nobility who were knighted by James I of Scotland at Holyrood during the celebrations which followed the christening of the King's twin infant sons.

Sir James married firstly Isabella, daughter of Sir John Forester (ancestor of the Lords Forester of Corstorphine) by whom he had a son named John. Secondly he married Janet, daughter of Sir Alexander Napier (ancestor of the Lords Napier) by whom he had two daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret. The estates of Tillyallan, and of Boyne, in Banffshire where divided between them thus went out of the family.

Sir James was succeeded in the patrimonial estates of Edmonstone and Ednam by his son John. Subsequently the Edmonstones, styled of "that ilk" and of Edenham" continued to use Edmonstone in Midlothian as their main residence until it was sold in 1624.

The family then moved to Edenham, or Ednam, in Roxburghshire, but this estate was sold by James Edmondstoune, last male heir of the senior line of the family, who died unmarried in 1772. It then changed hands several times until bought in 1827 by the 1st Earl of Dudley who took Ednam as his second title.  Sir James Edmondstoune, prior to selling Ednam, had purchased the estate of Cora on the Clyde. His sisters lived there until the death of the of the last in 1826, when she was reputedly over a hundred years old.

Duntreath is known to have been part of the Lennox by the mid 14th century. Donald Earl of Lennox, died before 1370, but a charter, referring to land held by him, is in the possession of Lord Napier. This charter, dated 9th February 1408, made by his grandson, Donald Earl of Lennox, granted the lands of Duntreath to his brother Murdoch. The document (translated from Latin) states that Donaldus de Lefnax (Lennox) living at Catter, near Buchanan, confirmed Murdacho de Lefnax, his brother, in the land of "Dumgoyak cum reddyng una cum monte que vocatur Duntreth," and other lands of Blargin and of Dumfyn in the Lennox, for the heritable reddendo of a pair of white spurs yearly.

The word "monte" is taken to refer to what used to be known as "the Court Hill," now Park Hill, which rises on the east side of the Blane Valley opposite to Dumgoyak (sik). The top has been levelled, possibly for a fort, or a "mons placiti" or Moot Hill where courts of justice were held. The feudal privileges attached to Duntreath, indicate its importance.

The Edmonstones of Duntreath descend from Archibald, believed to have been the second son of the first Sir John Edmonstone, and therefore brother of the second John, who married Isabella, daughter of Robert II. Isabella's brother, also named Robert, became Robert III in 1390, but because of physical and mental debility, he was supplanted as ruler. His heir the Duke of Rothesay, and his brother, the Duke of Albany (the first two dukes in Scotland) were given control of the government.

In 1398 Queen Anabella, wife of Robert III, "instituted a great hastitudium (passage of arms) of twelve knights, of which the chief was David Duke of Rothesay, on the north of Edinburgh". Then in the following year the King accepted the challenge of Robert Morley, an English knight, that he would take a golden cup from his table unless prevented by a Scottish knight. Morley was defeated in this purpose by James Douglas of Strabnock. Mortified he rode south to Berwick, where he engaged in single combat on the same day with two Scottish knights, one Hugo Wallace and the other Archibald Edmonstone. The Englishman "got the worst of it" and Archibald Edmonstone may have received his knighthood in reward.

In 1406 King Robert was a desperate man. His eldest son, David Duke of Rothesay, had almost certainly been murdered with his brother Albany's connivance, and now his surviving son James, a boy of twelve years old, was all that stood between Albany and the throne.

The King, frantic to save James, secretly made arrangements for him to go to France. Leaving the Royal Castle of Rothesay on Bute, supposedly for St Andrews, to continue his education at the College, he was taken instead to North Berwick, and rowed out to the Bass Rock.  There he was joined by an escort of men his father could trust, amongst them Sir Archibald Edmonstone. At last, after a month, a merchant ship the Maryenknyght of Danzig, her master a Captain Bereholt, with a cargo of wool and hides, sailed down from Leith and took James and his retinue aboard. It seemed that they had escaped but, on March 22nd, as she rounded Flamburgh Head, the ship was captured by a band of pirates led by one Hugh-atte-Fen.

They sailed her down to London where a delighted Henry IV rewarded them with her cargo. Prince James was sent to the Tower, but the English, unwilling to provide for Scottish prisoners, apparently released his escort.  King Robert III died of shock on news of his son's capture, and Albany became Regent during the young King's captivity which lasted for eighteen years.  In 1411 Sir Archibald Edmonstone was one of two visitors who carried back letters to Albany and the Scottish Estates, begging them to negotiate his release.  King James I, as he now was, returned to Scotland in 1424. His uncle Albany was now dead, but by an Act of Parliament of March 1425, he tried and executed Albany's heir, Murdoch Duke of Albany, together with all but one of his sons and his aged father-in-law, the Earl of Lennox. He then distributed their forfeited lands to his supporters, who included William, son of Sir Archibald Edmonstone.

An entry in the Chamberlain's Rolls in the Compota Ballivorum ad extra, under the head of the Earldom of Lennox, dated 1434, states that the Bailiff of the Crown "non onerat se de fermis terrarum de Erlelevin (Arlehaven), Drumfyn, (Dumfoin), et Duntreyne (Duntreyve, or Duntreath),...quia Rex William de Edmonstone de eisdem." (because the King has infeft William Edmonstone in them.)  Sir William Edmonstone, Ist of Duntreath, is styled of Culloden, (land near Inverness acquired from the Setons, a further indication of relationship). In 1425 he married the Princess Mary, sister of James I and widow of the Earl of Angus, as her fourth husband. Although probably in her late thirties she bore him a son and a daughter. She is buried in Strathblane church.

The date of this is unknown. Sir Archibald Edmonstone, 3rd Bt., in his history of the family (privately printed in Edinburgh in 1875) states that "it was one of the fortalices of the Lennox, to which additions were subsequently made."  Duntreath is mentioned in the mid- 13th century, and a charter of 1408 records the resignation of the lands of Duntreath by Donald Earl of Lennox to his brother Murdoch de Levenox.

The building of the square tower, now no longer inhabited, is attributed to Sir William, Ist of Duntreath. The R.C.A.H.M.S. (Vol I Stirlingshire. P258) states that part of an earlier building, probably built soon after 1364, forms the SE gable wall of the 15th century tower to the height of two storeys. The line of its quoins are visible on the longitudinal walls. (The first floor of this earlier building, reconstructed probably as a chapel, later became the dining room during Victorian times.)

Sir William Edmonstone probably built the tower about 1452. The structure is characteristic of the latter half of the 15th century. Consisting of three floors and an attic, the walls of yellow sandstone (on average four feet thick) are topped by a parapet walk of a later date. Within the tower is divided by a central cross-wall with a staircase on each side.

The low arched doorway formally opened into the courtyard. From behind it the main turnpike stair, easy to defend with a sword, runs up to the height of the roof. A passage from the foot of the stair leads to a vaulted room, on the west side of the tower, which is thought to have been the original kitchen and dining hall. The R.C.A.H.M.S.(p257) states, "recesses, which have the appearance of joist holes, suggest that originally an entresol floor of timber was constructed...further evidence for its existence is to be found in the design of the small turnpike-stair in the N angle, the threshold of which is situated 5ft. above the present floor-level and is thus suitably placed to be ...a loft floor. A range of cellars, with iron barred doors, on the S side of the kitchen, traditionally used as dungeons, have now been converted into a garage.

The first floor seems to have been divided between a hall and a solar. The second floor contained the armoury and what appears to have been the master bedroom. George IV is said to have slept here during his visit to Scotland in 1822. The attic floor above was converted during Victorian times into housemaids' bedrooms.  The date of the completion of the courtyard is unknown, but the castle is believed to have surrounded a central quadrangle (a refuge for people and animals in emergency) at least by the 16th century.


Following the near extinction of her family in 1425, the Duchess of Albany, daughter and heiress of the Earl of Lennox. had taken refuge in a fastness of the island of Inchmurrin in Loch Lomond.

James, her only surviving son, had fled to Ireland taking with him the widow and children of his brother Walter.  Walter's sons Andrew, Arthur and Walter, had letters of legitimisation under the Great Seal on 17th April 1479.  Andrew, under the designation of Andrew Stewart of Albany, was a member of James II's council in 1440, and later, created Lord Avondale, became Chancellor of Scotland.  After the death of James I, in 1437, the Duchess of Albany regained her inheritance. Her granddaughter Matilda, described by Sir Archibald Edmonstone, 3rd Bt., as "the only daughter of her surviving son James" married William, 2nd of Duntreath, son of Sir William Edmonstone and his wife the Princess Mary.


Duntreath Castle, circa 1930

Duntreath Castle 1995, Sir Archibald and Lady Edmonstone in front of their ancestral home.

(Photographed courtesy of the Oban Times Ltd.)


Sir Archibald however, in this instance, seems to have been wrong, having been misled by the historian George Crawford, with whom the error originated.  Research in the Scottish Record Office has shown that Matilda was in fact the daughter of Walter Stewart, the second son of Duke Murdoch of Albany, who, together with him, was executed by James I of Scotland in 1425.

Circa 1445, probably on her grand-daughter's marriage, the Duchess granted the lands of Duntreath to William Edmonstone, with the proviso that his father retained a life rent.  In the charter of Duntreath by Isabella, described under her own title of Duchess-Countess of Lennox, to Sir William Edmonstone and Matilda Stewart his wife, the substitutes are Andrew, Allan and Murdoch Stewart, who were, almost certainly, Matilda's brothers.  The marriage of Sir William to Matilda is attested by a precept of sasine, among the family archives, of the lands of Dumgoyak, (the conical wooded hill to the south west of the castle) and other portions of Duntreath, dated May 17, 1456.  Additional confirmation of ownership came when Matilda's brother Lord Avondale, acquired both the life rent of the earldom of Lennox and the guarantee of the lands of Duntreath to his brother-in-law, Sir William Edmonstone.

The family historian Sir Archibald Edmonstone, 3rd Bt. was shown a deed from the charter chest of the Duke of Montrose, dated 24th June 1477, which referred to a charter of James III. It concerned the resignation of lands of the Lennox, previously held by his family, to the Chancellor Lord Avondale by John Lord Dernlie (Darnley) on the stipulation that "our cousing Wilyeam Edmonstoun of Duntreath be made sicker (sure)...of the lands of Duntreth, Dungroyabir, the Quhilt, Ballewane, Blairgaro (Blairgar) Enbaly (Edinbelly near Balfron?), the Glyn and Carcane lyande in the same Erledome quhilk he has be infeftment and gyft heretably of our progenitour (James II) of before, that our said Chancellour and cousing Willyam of Edmonstoun beand contenetaid sicker, as said is, in the best forme that can be divisit ...Wrytten under our privat sele, and subscryvit with our hand at Stirling, the 21st day of June, and of our regne the thirtene yer (1472-3). Subscript litere. James."

The charter of confirmation by James II, to which the former document refers, was made at Stirling, and dated December 10th 1452. It runs as follows. "To Willielmo de Edmonstone de Culloden and Mary Countess of Angus (our aunt) in conjunction with their son, of the lands of Duntreath, Arleywin, (Arlehaven) Dunguyock, with the mill thereof. The Quilt (Cult) lying to the south side of the Burn of Blane, and the half of the lands of Balleun Easter, the Cluney's Glen, and Gartkalon, and mill thereof, all lying within the earldom and shire aforesaid, and all by the same charter erected into a free barony, to be called the Barony of Duntreath. On the resignation of the above William of Culloden and Marion Stewart, Countess of Angus, the King's aunt, father and mother of the said William Edmonstone, the younger, tenure in fee and heritage for ever. Cum furca et fossa (gibbet and jail), yok, yak (privilege of trying actions), thol et theim (relating to franchises of market), infangandthef, and outfangandthef (power of executing summary justice when the thief is detected with the spoil) and so on, a long amplification, reddendo, a pound of pepper yearly at Duntreath at the feast of the nativity of John the Baptist, if asked only. Reserving to the same William of Culloden, and the said Marion Countess of Angus, and longest liver of them their liferent."

The witnesses to this document included "William (Turnbull), Bishop of Glasgow, William Lord Crichton, our Chancellor, and dearly beloved cousin Andrew Lord Gray, Master of the Household."


Sir William, 2nd of Duntreath, who succeeded in 1460, adopted the tressure and supporters to the coat of arms, as testified by his seal appended to William Graham of Garvock's resignation

Seal of Sir William Edmonstone of Duntreath, A.D. 1470.

The Acts of the Scottish Parliament prove that in 1464 he was amongst those who took control of the government during the turbulent years of the minority of James III. In May 1469 he became Justice-General for a period of at least eighteen months, and in 1471 and again in 1478 he acted "pro Baronibus' as one of the "Lords of the Articles," the standing committee which used to prepare measures for the Scottish Parliaments.

Thanks to his position of influence Sir William seems to have been instrumental in restoring the lands of the Lennox, the Celtic earldom comprising Dumbartonshire, a large part of Stirlingshire, and parts of Perthshire and Renfrewshire. John Earl of Lennox, by a renunciation and grant, dated Edinburgh August 2nd 1472, gave the Superiority of Duntreath etc to Sir William Edmonstone, allowing him to hold the said lands immediately of the King and confirming the charter of James II of 1452, "in respect of the great kindness, labour and expense of the said William, in recovering the Earl's part of the Earldom of Lennox." An instrument exempting the Barony of Duntreath from the jurisdiction of the Earl of Lennox's courts is dated the 5th August 1472.

A charter of confirmation by King James III, of January 30th 1480 proves that Sir William bought the lands of Cambus Wallace, near Doune, an estate later bequeathed to a cadet member of the family.  During Sir William's lifetime his eldest son Archibald seems to have held a post at court. The Treasurer's account book, in 1477, lists the following. "Given to Archibald of Edmonstowne, 12th of September, to buy a pair of spurs to the King, 4s. From Thome of Yare, and deliueret to Archibald of Edmonstone, 17 Decembris, 2 elnes and ane half for vallous for a porte mantell to the King, price eboue, 45s,. sum £5,12s.6d."

Sir Archibald, 3rd of Duntreath, succeeded his father in 1487. On the 1st June 1488 an instrument of sasine in the lands of Duntreath, as also of coroner to the western portion of Stirlingshire by a precept of James III, was granted to "Archibald, son and heir of William unquhile William of Duntreath." He was also appointed for the districts of Monteith and Strathgartney "anent the stanching of thift reif and enormities, proof that lawlessness was rife."  In 1488 his brother James was appointed to the Parliament held by the Lords, who had put James IV on the throne, to take charge of the peace of the County of Stirling.

Sir Archibald married Janet, daughter of Sir James Shaw of Sauchie in Stirlingshire, formerly Comptroller of Scotland to James III.  James Shaw, when Governor of Stirling Castle, was bribed by the King's enemies to refuse him entrance to the castle before the disastrous battle of Sauchie in which he was killed. There is however no indication whatever that Sir Archibald was involved in this treachery.  His eldest son William, 4th of Duntreath, who succeeded him in 1502, was appointed Steward of Monteith and captain of the Castle of Doune in Perthshire. His seal of arms was emblazoned with supporters and crest as of now.

Sir William had four wives. His first Sibylla was the daughter of Sir William Baillie of Lamington. A charter of 1497 granted to William,...of Duntreath, and Sibylla Baillie, his wife, of the lands of Gartbarron, while another of 1506 gave them Argety and Rednock. The cadet families of Cambus Wallace and Newton both descend from James, the 3rd son of this marriage.  Sir William's fourth wife, another Sibylla, was the daughter of Sir John Carmichael of that Ilk, as is shown by a charter under the Great Seal, of the lands of Glenboig and Cambuswallace, to Sir William Edmonstone and Sibylla Carmichael, his wife, on his own resignation.

This was dated August 15th 1513, when already James IV was preparing to lead his army into England. On the 9th September Sir William, together with his brothers-in-law, the Earl of Montrose and Lord Ross, were amongst the "Flowers of the Forest" who fell beside the King in his glorious but fatal stand on the field of Flodden.  Sir William's brother James, Comptroller of Scotland under James IV, apparently survived the battle.

Sir William left five sons and four daughters. He divided his lands amongst his sons. The eldest William succeeded to Duntreath. The second Archibald, to the lands of Rednock (charter dated 1553). The third Robert, to the lands of Cambusbeg in Monteith. The fourth James, to the lands of Westerrowis (charter dated 1540). He also had a natural son named James, as is proved by a charter of legitimisation, who received the lands of Newton of Doune. The cadet branches descended from the four last named are now believed to be extinct.

An instrument of sasine of the Barony of Duntreath to Sir William Edmonstone, 5th of Duntreath, as heir to his father, is dated May 2nd, 1516. In the same year he and his brother, Archibald of Rednock, were appointed to succeed their father as joint keepers of Doune Castle and Stewards of Monteith and Strathgartney.

This was part of the jointure of the queens of Scotland. It was settled upon Queen Margaret, daughter of Henry VII of England, on her marriage with James IV in 1503 and was probably then given into the charge of Sir William who witnessed the sasine. In 1516, three years after his father's death at Flodden, William Edmonstone his heir, by then of age, and his brother Archibald, inherited this charge. But in 1527 the Queen married Henry Stewart, who became Lord Methven (ancestor of the Earls of Moray) and she then petitioned the Council to make over Doune Castle to her husband. Her son, James V, despite a signed agreement with Sir Sir William, did as his mother wished. But Lord Methven then gave Doune Castle to his brother, Sir James Stewart of Beath.

James V died in December 1542 and his widow Mary of Lorraine, then became entitled to the dower lands which included the castle of Doune.  Sir William Edmonstone, it seems, was again appointed custodian for among the family papers is a discharge with the sign-manual of the Queen Dowager Mary of Lorraine, to Sir William Edmonstone of Duntreath, Chamberlain Depute of Monteith for the rents of the years 1542-1545, discharging William Earl of Montrose, and all others concerned.  It is dated Edinburgh, April 25th, 1549.

Obviously the Stewarts resisted, to what point we do not know, and says the historian Crauford, "it brought the feud to a point. The resentment of the Edmonstones of the House of Duntreath... broke into an open flame. The Laird of Duntreath himself, Archibald and James (of Newton), his brothers, their friends and retainers, happened to encounter Sir James Stewart in the High Street of Dunblane, upon which a sharp and brisk scuffle ensued, in which much blood was shed, and many slain on both sides. The Stewarts' party were worsted, and he himself slain on the spot. This incident fell out on Whitsunday 1543, for which this gentleman, the Laird of Duntreath, found means three years thereafter to procure a remission from the Duke of Chatelherault, Earl of Arran, the Governor, under the Great Seal."

The feud between the Edmonstones and the Stewarts continued for thirty years, until eventually it was settled when Sir William Edmonstone agreed to a bond of manrent (a pledge of support in all quarrels) with the son of Sir James Stewart.

Sir William married firstly, in 1522, the Lady Agnes Stewart, youngest daughter of Matthew, second Earl of Lennox of the Stewart line. Her dower appears to have been "the ten pound land of old extent of Balloch on the Leven, the ancient seat of the older Earls of Lennox.

Subsequent dealings in regard to this land are difficult to interpret.  In 1566 a reversion was made by William Edmonstone to Matthew, Earl of Lennox, "of the lands of Balloch, with Millpair of Contenant, the sum of 1000 merks".

Despite this however, some land round Balloch, at the south end of Loch Lomond, must have been retained, or else regained by the Edmonstones.  In 1579, Robert, sixth Earl of Lennox exchanged his earldom for the lordship of Dunbar and the earldom of March in an agreement with James VI, who wanted to create the dukedom of Lennox for his cousin and favourite Esme Stewart.  A charter of renunciation was then issued, dated August 1579, of the reversion of the lands of Balloch by the said Earl (Lennox) to James Edmonstone of Duntreath, Sir William's son.  Furthermore, in 1583 a charter was granted by James VI in favour of Sir James, "renouncing the nonentry of Balloch in consideration of the services of his forbears to the King's ancestors of the house of Lennox".

Further evidence being so far unobtainable it is therefore possible to assume that the land given in security by Sir James Edmonstone, when he later mortgaged Duntreath, included that of Balloch and that it was part of the property never afterwards redeemed.  Reverting now to Sir William.  In 1565, when his wife's grandnephew, Lord Darnley married Mary Queen of Scots, William became one of the Lords of the Privy Council and was probably knighted. He was one of the Commissioners to the General Assembly in 1567.  By his first marriage he had a son Archibald, apparently feeble minded, who predeceased him. In 1566 a deed for his suitable maintenance was signed by Queen Mary and her husband Darnley, just before he was murdered.  Sir William married secondly Margaret, daughter of Sir James Campbell of Lawers (ancestor of the Earls of Loudon) and a charter of 1545 records the lands of Cambuswallace as her dower. By her he had James, his heir, and also six daughters. He died a very old man in 1580.

Sir James Edmonstone, 6th of Duntreath, in 1578, (before the death of his father) obtained from Colin 6th Earl of Argyll, Justice-General of Scotland, the grant of a deputation for holding justiciary courts at the fortalice of Duntreath, upon the criminals therein named. Then in 1584 he received the " escheat. of Mungo Edmonstone, the brother of James of Newton, fallen through his treasonable assistance at the late surprizal of the Castle of Sterling."

Stirling Castle had been seized by adherents of the 1st Earl of Gowrie who, following the notorious "Ruthven Raid" of 1582, had held ascendancy over James VI for almost a year. Gowrie, taken prisoner, was brought before "Mr James Graham sitting as Justice," and assisted by men who included "James Edmonstone of Duntreath. The indictment was found relevant, and the Earl, found guilty by his peers, was executed."  In the same year of 1584 Sir James, to his great discredit, acted as an "agent provacateur" in dealings involving friends. On the Earl of Gowrie's arrest his chief supporters, who included the Earls of Angus and Mar, fled to England. The King greatly fearing their influence, and knowing that there was strong feeling against his favourites, the young Duke of Lennox and James Stewart Earl of Arran, proclaimed that anyone informing upon agitators would receive not only a pardon but also a special reward.

Later evidence suggests that Sir James was by then in debt. On his own admission he declared that he "had been led to make a confession of a threefold conspiracy of the exiled Lords against the King, of which he had been informed by Black John Hume of the Law, who came twice to him, each time with a letter of credit of the Earl of Mar, the knowledge of which now preyed on his conscience."  But through family connections he was, in the words of a contemporary, "the Duke of Lennox's man". Thanks to his influence he had been knighted, and as was all important, still held his land from the King.  Therefore when two of his neighbours were suspected of treasonable conspiracy Sir James was persuaded (he said afterwards that Arran threatened and suborned him) to agree to be charged with the same crime of which, upon his confession, he was promised he would be absolved.  The men in question, Malcolm Douglas of Mains and John Cunningham of Drumwhassill, were both of good character, Mains in particular being respected for his valour and his manhood. Nonetheless Robert Hamilton of Eglismachen betrayed them, saying that they had conspired to kidnap the King out hunting "and detain him in some stronghold till the Lords might come and receive him."

Mains and Drumwhassill were arrested and, together with Duntreath, were presented before the Justice, Mr John Graham, on the 9th February 1585. Duntreath was the first to be accused of plotting to kidnap the King. Then Drumwhassill charged with the same crime, was said to have consulted with him thereupon in the churches of Strathblane and Killearn. Mains denied all involvement but all three were convicted and declared guilty of treason. Drumwhassil and Mains, condemned to death, were hanged on the same day in the public street of Edinburgh, but Sir James Edmonstone, significantly, was pardoned.

However he may have benefited from his double dealing, he must for some time afterwards, have lived in constant fear. Hamilton, the informer took refuge in Stirling Castle until, on the fall of Arran from power, he made a desperate effort to escape.  But, as he ran, James Johnston of Westraw, "pretending a vow he had made to avenge Main's death, did kill him as he was flying through the park on the south side of the town".  Sir James however survived. He and his son were later accused of involvement with Mr Walter Balcanquall, an extreme Presbyterian agitator believed to be causing sedition, but the case referred to a jury, seems to have been dismissed.  Consequently Sir James continued to be involved in public life. In 1600 he was Chancellor of an Assize.  Then in 1601 he seems to have quarrelled with the Cunninghams, a family into which his daughter had married, for William Cunningham of Tourlands was "condemned to be beheaded for holding his house of Cunninghamhead against the Lairds of Duntreath and Urchill (Graham of Orchil), His Majesty's Commissioners, who were assieging the place for thirteen days, and discharging hackbuts."

Watercolours of Duntreath as a ruin done by Sir Archibald Edmonstone, 5th Bt.

In 1610, as one of the barons, he was a member of the General Assembly, and in 1614 he sat on the jury at the trial of John Ogilvy a Jesuit, who was hanged.  Sir James is known to have made significant additions to Duntreath. According to the R.C.A.H.M.S. (Vol 1, p 260) "It is highly probable... that Sir James Edmonstone, who not withstanding a somewhat chequered career was a man of considerable status, was in fact responsible for the erection of all the courtyard buildings." The gatehouse, which stood on the west side of the quadrangle, is definitely attributed to him. When rebuilt by Sir Archibald Edmonstone, the 3rd Baronet, in 1863, a stone panel depicting a crest of a camel (the original insignia of the Edmonstones of Duntreath) and the letters S.J. E. K. (Sir James Edmonstone Knight) was found. It still remains at Duntreath.  He may also have built the outer gatehouse, the two being aligned. This,also rebuilt by Sir Archibald, the 3rd Bt., C 1860, now houses the family chapel.

The south east block of the castle, consisted of a two-storied range of buildings with pointed dormers. It was divided into three separate apartments, each with an outside door. The kitchen, on the ground floor, at the south end of the block, contained an enormous fireplace, measuring 14 feet six inches high by 6 feet 8 inches wide. The rooms on the top floor were lit by pedimented dormer windows, as is shown in the water-colour sketches done by Sir Archibald, the 5th Bt.  On the S side (at right angles to the kitchen range) a tower enclosing a staircase gave entrance to the rooms above the kitchen. From the first floor a turret stair led up to a room at the top of the tower where, according to tradition, almost a century later lived William the "Dumb Laird".  The bay window on the main staircase of the Victorian wing, occupied today, probably projects from a remaining part of the original stair-tower.  Plans for further extensions on the south side of the courtyard were abandoned when, in 1609, Sir James and his eldest son made the momentous decision, to move the family to Northern Ireland.

Sir James married firstly Helen, daughter of Sir James Stirling of Keir, by whom he had a son and three daughters, and secondly Margaret, daughter of Sir John Colquhoun of Luss, by whom he a son called Robert and four daughters. According to Sir Archibald, 3rd Bt., Robert died unmarried, but the Genealogy of the Lairds of Ednam and Duntreath (Pub. Glasgow 1699) states that he "went overseas and never return'd again". Therefore it is possible that the American branch of the family descends from him, although it is more likely that James's grandson, another Robert, was in fact the founder of that line. Sir James died C.1618.

The family moved to Antrim largely for financial reasons. According to Sir Archibald Edmonstone, the 3rd Bt., "the reduction of the property by the constant allotments made to younger branches had led to considerable embarrassment, and being no longer supported by Court favour or upheld by powerful alliances as heretofore, such were probably among the motives which led to a step so injurious to the family,"

Another cause of impoverishment was the purchase of land in Ireland. Much of Northern Ireland, laid waste by rebellion, had been forfeited and James VI and I was determined to "plant" it with people of Presbyterian faith. Amongst them was John Dalway, who by marrying a daughter of the family of O'Neil, obtained a considerable grant of his father-in-law's former land. Part of it, called Broadisland, he leased in 1609, "for ever to William, eldest son of Sir James Edmonstone, on the usual conditions of finding five able horsemen, properly equipped, to attend for forty days yearly the general hostings of the Lord Deputy; and within five years to build a bawn, namely a fortified mansion of lime and stone, covered with slate, which shall cost in building £300."

Sir James, by then an old man, never himself went to Ireland, but in 1614, in order to pay for this purchase, and to cover his other debts, he mortgaged the whole of the Duntreath estate to his son-in-law Sir William Graham of Braco, redeemable on the payment of 80,000 merks.  In the same year however, the mortgage was made over to Sir William Livingston of Kilsyth, but not on quite the same terms, as some portions, for which 20,000 merks were paid, were alienated for ever.

Before he left Scotland, William 7th of Duntreath, as he later became, was appointed one of the Justices or Commissioners for repressing Jesuits and seminary Priests, by an Act of the General Assembly of March 6th 1589.  On settling in Ireland, he built Redhall, a house which remained one of the two principal residences of the family till late in the following century.  He had brought with him Edward Bryce, late minister of Drymen, who had been forced to leave Scotland for his opposition to the introduction of Prelacy in 1613.  Significantly the Rev Bryce, who was installed in the parish of Broadisland, was the first Scottish Presbyterian Minister to go to Northern Ireland.  William Edmonstone married Isobel, daughter of John Haldane of Gleneagles. They had five sons and two daughters.  The sons were Archibald, James, John, Robert and Andrew.   The eldest daughter Helen, married (as her second husband) Colonel James Wallace of Auchans and Dundonald, famous as commander of the Covenanters who were defeated in 1666 at Rullion Green.

The younger daughter Jean, married Robert Adair of Kinhilt in Wigtoun, and Ballymena in Antrim.  The Adairs, had acquired land in Ireland at much the same time as the Edmonstones who must have been fairly near neighbours.  But despite their alliance by marriage the families seem to have quarrelled.  Jean Edmonstone, c.1629, wrote to tell her husband Archibald that his "brother" Kelhelt (Kinhilt) was responsible "for sterring up the good man of the Capell against you to stay the mille from going..."  Capell had been seen to drive out the back sluice and release the water thus bringing the milling to a halt.

Archibald 8th of Duntreath, succeeded his father in 1629.  In 1630, by selling parts of the Irish estate, he managed to redeem Duntreath.  He must have made some restoration of the castle. A lengthy description of the walls to be harled by John MacWilliams under a contract of 1631 with Sir Archibald Edmonstone mentions, not only the fine inner gatehouse, a block 9m by 6m with a pend between guard rooms with gunports which lay in the middle of the screen wall closing off the court to the NW, but an outer gatehouse as well.

He seems also to have planned some refurbishing which his mother thought great extravagance.  Writing to him, c. 1630, she says "I am sorry to heir ye can nocht leiv with credit in Duntreath before ye bestow tua thosand merkis upon it...it needs nocht bot to mak it dry and mend the glass and the plaister... but gift ye think your credit canocht stand without hingings (hangings) and other plenishings... indeed ye may soon ware out that soum.  But God forbid ye be sa daft."

Sir Archibald was elected "Commissioner for the Barons" and member for the county of Stirling to the Parliament held by Charles 1 on his coronation in June 1633, where, as a zealous Presbyterian, he strongly opposed the King's efforts to establish Episcopacy in Scotland.   Archibald and his wife Jean, who was a daughter of Archibald Hamilton of Halcraig, had two sons and two daughters.  He died in 1637 and his brothers, James and then John, acted as guardians, or tutors, to his two young sons.

Rebellion broke out in Ireland in 1641 and the Edmonstones loyally supported Lord Clanboye, to whom Archibald's widow was related, against the Irish insurgents. James Edmonstone, Archibald's brother, was dispatched to Edinburgh by Lord Chichester to buy muskets, swords, and pikes, a commission to "James Edmondstoune of Broadyland , Esquire", dated 21st January 1642, being delivered to him in Edinburgh.  Four years later another brother John, of Broich, was sent as ruling elder to the General Assembly in Edinburgh to seek help for the Irish Presbyterians.  This was the John whose third son, named Robert, is thought to have been the ancestor of the American branch of the Edmonstone family of Duntreath. (See Appendix 3. p52).

Sadly Archibald and Jean Edmonstone's eldest son William was born deaf and dumb, thus precluding his inheritance. He must have been born by 1630, because a letter to Archibald from "A. Hamilton", presumably his father-in-law, dated 22nd May 1630, refers specifically to remedies by "the King's best Doctors" to cure his deafness.  Suggestions included trepanning and immersion in the waters at Bath but none of these remedies, even if tried, met with any success.  Sadly William seems to have been aware of his disability for, according to tradition, "on one Sunday when the family were going to the Kirk, and it was intimated to him that he could not accompany, he went into the stable and began eating hay as if to show that, if not fit to attend public worship, he ought to live among the cattle."

Nonetheless, according to the historian Crauford," he was an exceedingly sightly handsome gentleman as could be seen. He had a great vivacity and quickness of imagination, and a wonderful and amazing apprehension of things; and so great and so strong a memory, that...he seldom or ever forgot any person he had once ever seen." He conversed by means of signs and he also had second sight. While at Paisley in December 1656, he somehow managed to give warning that a friend was in danger of drowning, knowing he had fallen through ice. Supported by "an handsome allowance in annuity of the estate " he lived apparently most happily and died at a good old age. The "Dumb Laird's Tower", at Duntreath, which he reputedly haunts, now contains the main stair. Standing on the south side of the former courtyard, it was rebuilt in 1863.

The Edmonstones at that time lived both in Scotland and Ireland. Nothing records their involvement in the Civil War in Scotland between Charles I and his government, but, being strict Presbyterians, they may have sided with his enemies.  In 1651, Cromwell installed a garrison in Duntreath. The soldiers looted the valley and the unfortunate tenants were forced to pay sesses (taxes) to the governor. An inquiry was ordered by the Parliament of 1651, but there is no record of compensation being paid. A table brought from Kilsyth, upon which Cromwell signed a document, still remains at Duntreath.

Archibald, 9th of Duntreath (brother of the Dumb Laird) succeeded during his minority in 1637. He married Anna Helena, daughter of Colonel Scott of Harden, (ancestor of Lord Polworth,) and widow of Sir William Adair of Kinhilt. Her father was killed fighting Cromwell at the battle of Dunbar in 1650, and the banner of the cavalry regiment which he commanded, became a family heirloom. It is now in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

Despite his father-in-law being a Royalist Archibald, like his immediate ancestors, was a staunch Presbyterian. But after Episcopacy was restored in Scotland, in 1660, he suffered cruelly for his faith. In 1667 "being at Duntreath on his private affairs, a Minister called Mr Forrester, formerly in the Parish of Killearn, came to Duntreath without Duntreath's knowledge, and had a private lecture in the Gallery there,...which when Duntreath heard of, he thought it no great crime to be a hearer."

However Craig of Ledrogrean (Leddrigreen?) betrayed him to Lord Ross, who promptly despatched a troop of Dragoons to arrest him at his home. Imprisoned in the Tolbooth (the common prison) in Glasgow, for six months, he was taken before the Council three times, his request for a lawyer to plead his case being repeatedly refused. Eventually however Sir George Lockhart came to the jail and advised him how to answer questions put to him concerning the King's lawful right to the Crown and to the recent murder of the Archbishop of St Andrews. He denied any connection with the meeting at Duntreath and, thanks to the lack of evidence, was spared the death penalty and fined five hundred pounds, one half of which went to the informer and the other to the Crown.

Finally he was released on "a petition by the Lady Duntreath to the Duke of York and the Lords of the Council." His life was saved and the fine was provided by his stepson, Sir Robert Adair of Kinhilt, who borrowed £500, from William Hamilton, Dunntreath's uncle. Later following Archibald's death, Adair claimed repayment from the tutors or guardians of his son.  Archibald's health was badly affected by imprisonment.  He returned to Ireland and in 1685, when the 9th Earl of Argyll rose in arms to support the Duke of Monmouth against King James VII and II, he seems to have been absent from Duntreath.  Argyll, who was trying to reach Ayrshire, encamped near the castle.  But after a night march, in which he got lost in the Kilpatrick hills, he was captured fording the Clyde.

More factually it is known that, in 1688 when rebellion broke out in Northern Ireland, Archibald Edmonstone raised an independent regiment of three hundred foot amongst his tenants and neighbours to fight for the British cause. Colonel Edmonstone garrisoned his house Redhall. Then in the siege of Derry, re-inforced with men from Adair's regiment, he was ordered to secure the pass at Glenlone, to prevent the enemy from repairing the bridge across the Bann. The weather was extremely wet and, fighting in a muddy trench in water up to his knees, he caught a very bad cold. Forced from his position, he tried to enter Derry, but the garrison there, besieged and starving, refused admittance. Struggling on, by now extremely ill, he managed to reach the fort of Culmore, where, knowing he was dying, he asked to be buried in Strathblane Church.

His wishes being observed, he was laid above his ancestress, Princess Mary, sister of James I. The bones of both were discovered and returned to a grave below the floor (marked with a plaque) in 1844.  He died aged only fifty one.  Archibald, 10th of Duntreath, succeeded in 1689 when about seven years old. He sat in the Irish Parliament, as the member for Carrickfergus, throughout the whole of the reign of George 1 from 1715 to 1727. He also added to the family property both in Ireland and Scotland. He married firstly the Honourable Anne Erskine, daughter of Henry Lord Cardross, by whom he had one daughter, and secondly, in 1716, Anne, second daughter of the Honourable John Campbell of Mamore, second son of Archibald 9th Earl of Argyll, by whom he had three sons and two daughters. Involved as he was in Irish politics it seems very unlikely that he spent much time at Duntreath.

During the 17th century protection rackets had been organized. A notice issued on the 3rd February 1658, by the justices of Stirling, instructed the heritors of several parishes to make regular payments of "Black Mail" to Captain McGregor, a predeccessor of Rob Roy. A copy given to Archibald Edmonstone, Bailzie of Duntreath, was to be published in the kirk of Strathblane.  Rob Roy himself was a "protector" until, having quarrelled with the Duke of Montrose, he too became a "lifter". Then following the Jacobite Rising of 1715, when weapons were confiscated in an amnesty, the unfortunate farmers, were left without arms to defend themselves. Legends of Rob's activities abound in the Blane Valley. He is supposed to have hidden in the oak tree, called "the Meikle Tree" below Blairquhosh (unfortunately killed by road development and now cut down) where, crouching amongst leafy branches, he heard soldiers below discussing plans to capture him.

On the 11th April 1716 Graham of Killearn, factor to the Duke of Montrose, wrote from Killearn to Mungo Graham of Gorthie, the Duke's chamberlain, asking him to get a punitive order from General Cadogan, second-in command to the Duke of Argyll, "to subdue these villains (Rob Roy and his followers) whose insolence is not to be born any longer. They have just now stolen a good deall of sheep of the Muir of Blane above Duntreath, and daylie threatens more mischief to all the country".




Mural Tablet ot Duntreath Castle,

being the Arms of Sir James Edmonstone,

Six of Duntreath

Proof that Archibald Edmonstone was then largely absent from Duntreath comes in a letter from James, 1st Duke of Montrose, written from Edinburgh on 22nd May 1741.  The Duke, while requesting his support for his son, Lord George Graham, as proposed member of parliament for the County of Stirling in a forthcoming election, says "Sir I was glad to heare yesterday that yow was come into this countrie as yow have been a great stranger amongst us".

During the absence of the lairds of Duntreath in Ireland their Scottish estate was managed by the Edmonstones of  Spittal or Broich.  Mr John Guthrie Smith, in his "Parish of Strathblane", explains the double appellation.  John Edmonstone of Broich, the tutor or guardian of his nephews (see p.26) fell into debt.  Consequently about 1653, Archibald Edmonstone of Ballewan and Harlehaven, a descendant of the illegitimate son of Sir Archibald 3rd of Duntreath (see Appendix 2, p.38) brought a decreet against him and managed to obtain a sasine of his estate of Broich near Kippen.

In 1662 however, when Archibald bequeathed Broich to his son James, William, the son and heir of John the Tutor, refused to be dispossessed.  Archibald Edmonstone and James, losing patience, broke into the house of Broich, whereupon William's on, of the same name, appealed to the Lords of the Privy Council who ordered James Edmonstone "to quyt and leave the possession attained by him... within six days under the paine of five hundred merks".

The "new" family of Broich eventually gained possession, but the legal battle over whether Archibald of Ballewan and Harlehaven had been lawfully infefted in 1653 continued until 1724.  Archibald Edmonstone of Ballewan and Harlehaven had three sons, James, John and Archibald.  James, who received Broich from his father in 1662, had two sons who both died childless, the second of whom named George, sold Broich to Mr William Leckie in 1773.  Consequently the name of the estate was changed by the latter's grandson, Mr Leckie Ewing, to Arngomery, which it still remains.  Archibald Edmonstone of Ballewan's second son was John of Ballewan and Blairgar, from whom these places returned to the Duntreath family.

Archibald, his third son, who seems to have lived at Blairquosh, died in 1704.  His son, also Archibald, born in 1676, is known to have owned Spittal, which he acquired from his uncle James of Broich (see p.8) and to have been living at Ballewan by 1696.  Also, like his father and grandfather he became Bailie of Duntreath.  His son, grandson and great-grandson, followed him in this capacity until the latter, on the failure of West India estates, sold Spittal to his distant relation Sir Archibald Edmonstone, 3rd Bt., in 1833 (see p.8).  The efficiency of the Edmonstones of Spittal and Broich as factors seems questionable as it must have been during their time that the castle of Duntreath became ruinous, as is shown by Sir Archibald, 5th Bt., in the water colour sketches, created presumable from hearsay or copied from earlier drawings.



Archibald's eldest son, also Archibald, 11th of Duntreath, who was born in 1717, succeeded him in 1768. By the time of his inheritance he was Member of Parliament for the county of Dumbarton, to which seat he was elected in 1761, 1768, and 1774. In 1780 he was "chosen for the Ayr and Irvine Boroughs" but was again Member for Dumbartonshire in 1784 and 1790, and continued to hold this office until he retired from Parliament in 1799.  A staunch Tory supporter, he upheld Lord North's government during the American War of Independence, and due to his public services, he was created a Baronet of the United Kingdom on the 3rd May 1774.

The fact of prolongued absence was probably the major reason for his decision to sell Redhall and what is described as "the remains of the property in Ireland. Mr James Seaton Reid, author of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, testified that "the family were well regarded and their departure in 1787, when the estate was sold, was considered a public loss".  He bought the Kilsyth Estate in 1783 and thus, by a strange irony, reversed the situation of 1609.  Then, as the Edmonstones left for Ireland, Sir William Livingston became the mortagee of Duntreath. His descendant was raised to the peerage as Viscount Kilsyth.

The 3rd Viscount, before his inheritance, was involved in a macabre incident which Sir Archibald, the 3rd Bt., relates.  Livingston was infatuated with the wife of Viscount Claverhouse, "Bonnie Dundee", who was killed following the battle of Killiecrankie by a shot fired from Urrard House.  Dundee's mother, convinced that Livingston was the murderer, sent him, on new year's morning, a white night cap, a pair of white gloves and a rope, and she cursed his marriage to her daughter-in-law.  Subsequently being Jacobites they went to live in Holland where the turf roof of the house fell in.  Livingston himself escaped but his wife and her son were both killed.  Following this tragedy Kilsyth's lands in Scotland were forfeited after the Jacobite rising of 1715.

Kilsyth Estate was then bought by the York Buildings Company (a fraudulent enterprise which bought up Jacobite Estates) and was subsequently sold to Daniel Campbell of Shawfield, owner of the island of Islay. Now returning from Ireland, Sir Archibald acquired the property which the Livingstons had been forced to sell.  The sum which he paid for the East and West Baronies of Kilsyth, including the lands of Bancloich, in the parish of Campsie, was about £41,000.

The Livingston's castle of Colzium had been demolished in 1703, and Sir Archibald built what his grandson described as "a modern house" close to the earlier site. Duntreath was by then partly ruined and Colzium, for the next eighty years, became the family home. The Colzium estate was broken up c.1920 and the house was sold by Sir Archibald Edmonstone, the 5th Bt. to Mr William Lennox Mackie in 1930. By then nearly derelict it was handed over by him to the Kilsyth Burgh Council in 1937.

Despite the fact that he did not live there Sir Archibald did make improvements to Duntreath estate.  Most significantly he built "The Galloway Dyke", a kind of wall so called from being first introduced in that county, so that animals driven onto the higher ground in the summer could be kept off the cropping lands below.

Sir Archibald, the 1st Bt., married firstly, Susanna Mary, daughter of Roger Harene, a French gentleman who had settled in England around 1720. They had five sons and three daughters. Secondly he married Hester, daughter of Sir John Heathcoate, who died without children in 1797. Sir Archibald himself, having lived to be eighty nine, died in his house in Argyll Street in London in July 1807.


Sir Archibald Edmonstone. 1st Bart.


Campbell, one of Sir Archibald's two brothers, "sometime Lt Governor of Dumbarton Castle" also had a large family. He married Marianne, daughter of William Anderson of Glasgow, with by he had twelve children.

Sir Archibald's five sons all had distinguished careers.

Archibald, the eldest, born in 1754, after a military education on the Continent became a Lieutenant in the First Regiment of Footguards. He was A.D.C. to General Riedesel (Commander of the German Division of the army under General Burgoyne) in the campaign in the American War of Independence, which ended with the surrender at Saratoga in 1777. Returning he died of consumption in 1780 aged only twenty five.

His fifth son Neil Benjamin (1765-1841) having obtained a writership in the East India Company's Civil Service reached India in 1783. Becoming private secretary to Lord Mornington, better known as Lord Wellesley, who was appointed governor-general in 1798, he translated documents found in Tippoo Sultan's palace which justified the English attack upon him. Described by Sir John Kaye as "one of the most valuable officials and far seeing statesmen which the Indian Civil Service has ever produced" he was A.D.C to both Lord Cornwallis and Lord Minto, in their terms as Governor-General. In 1809 he was made chief secretary to the government and in 1812 became a member of the supreme council at Calcutta. In 1820, having returned to England, he was elected a director of the East India Company in which capacity he remained until his death in 1841.

Neil Benjamin's second son, of the same name, born in 1813, followed him into the Indian Civil Service. As private secretary to Lord Canning he became extremely influential during the Indian Mutiny. Made Lieutenant-Governor of the north-western provinces in 1859, he successfully restored the efficiency of the administration. In 1863, on his return from India, he was created a K.C.B. He died in 1864.

Sir Archibald, whose two eldest sons had predeceased him, was succeeded by his third son Charles.  Sir Charles Edmonstone, 12th of Duntreath and 2nd Baronet, was born in 1764. He was educated at Eton and subsequently at Christ Church Oxford. Having been called to the Bar, he was one of the six clerks in Chancery until the time of his father's death.

In 1806 he was elected Member for the county of Dumbarton, but he lost his seat in the general election of the following year. In 1812 he became Member for Stirlingshire and held the seat until his death. A Tory like his father, he supported Lord Liverpool's government during the later part of the Napoleonic Wars.  Doctor Patrick Graham, minister of Aberfoyle, in his report on Stirlingshire (Edinburgh 1812) praises Sir Charles for "his new farm houses, for his farms enlarged in a judicious style... (and for) the extensive plantations he made on Duntreath estate in 1807".

Sir Charles married firstly, Emma, daughter of Richard Wilbraham Bootle of Rode Hall, Cheshire, by whom he had a son and a daughter. He married secondly Louisa, daughter of Lord Hotham, by whom he had four sons and two daughters. He died in 1851, apparently from a stroke, aged fifty eight.

Sir Archibald Edmonstone,  3rd Bt., 13th of Duntreath, was born at 32 Great Russell Street Bloomsbury, London, on 12 March 1795. He went to Eton in 1808 and to Christ Church, Oxford, in 1812. He graduated B.A. on 29 Nov 1815. In 1819 he went to Egypt, where he visited and explored two of the oases in the great desert, of which he published an account. His published works, numbering eleven in all, included tracts on religion as well as the history of his family.  Following his succession, on 1 April 1821, he contested his father's former constituency of Stirlingshire, but failed to be elected to parliament.  The great work of his life was the restoration of the old castle of Duntreath, by now in a very ruinous state. Tradition has it that, while the family were still in Ireland, the factor, told to re-roof a farm house, had taken the slates from the castle, which had then been left to deteriorate.

In 1857 the architects Messers. Charles Wilson and D.Thomson, of Glasgow drew up the plans for the intended rebuilding of the castle. The following description taken from the R.C.A.H.M.S. Vol 1. Stirlingshire. Pub 1963. P 260. proves the extent of the work.  "These restorations began with the erection of a new SW range on the site of the old one, but eventually most of the old work, including the gatehouse and kitchen range, was pulled down to make way for a vast scheme of reconstruction. This was evidently pursued until the death of Sir Archibald in 1871, and while much of the old work was inevitably lost, the revised baronial style of the new buildings, and the retention of the basic courtyard plan, did nevertheless preserve some of the character possessed by the old castle. The gatehouse was...a reproduction of the original, and a new outer gatehouse, erected some 50 yds to the NW (now the chapel) was perhaps likewise intended to preserve another integral part of the old plan."  In addition to his work on the castle Sir Archibald built the Stable Block and the West Lodge. Both were constructed of red sandstone from the quarry above the "water track" on the Lettre Farm.

Strathblane Church was altered just before his death, the work being planned and carried out solely by himself.  In October 1844 a gravestone in the centre passage of the church was removed in the presence of three witnesses who included Mr James Pearson, the minister, and Mr James MacLaren, the Factor of Duntreath, it bore the inscription "Here lyes in the same grave with Mary Countess of Angus, sister to King James I of Scotland from whom he is lineally descended, Archibald Edmonstone Esq., of Duntreath in this kingdom, and of Redhall in Ireland, who died in the year 1689 aged about 51 years".  The bones of both were discovered and "the remains were carefully redeposited and the stone replaced".

An ancient inhabitant then testified that "the stone had remained in the same position that it did in the old church, so there can be no reason for doubting that the remains found were those of the Princess Mary of Scotland and her descendant Mr Edmonstone".  Sir Archibald married his first cousin Emma, daughter of Randle Wilbraham, of Rode Hall Cheshire, by whom he had three daughters all of whom died in infancy. He died in 1871.

He was succeeded by his half-brother, Admiral Sir William Edmonstone, 4th Bt, 14th of Duntreath, CB.DL., Member of Parliament for the County of Stirling from 1874 to 1880, and A.D.C. to Queen Victoria.   Sir William, who was born on 29th January 1810, entered the Royal Navy at a very early age.  When a midshipman on board the frigate "Sybelle", during an attack on pirates near Candia, he was dangerously wounded in the face loosing part of his lower jaw.  He was constantly on active service and it was on his return from the West Coast of Africa, where he served as a commodore, that he was made a Companion of the Bath and Naval Aide-de-Camp to the Queen.

He married Mary Elizabeth, daughter of Lt Colonel C.M.G.Parsons, who was British Resident on the island of Zante, at a time when the Ionian islands were a British Protectorate. A romantic story is told of how, as a young Naval lieutenant, he first saw her running with her sisters through the sand dunes. Less attractively she is said to have played marbles with sheep's eyes found in a stream, washed down from the local slaughter house.

Perhaps thanks in part to her upbringing she proved to be a stalwart lady in supporting her husband's careeer. They lived at Devonport in the eighteen eighties and in April 1866 he was transferred to the Woolwich Dockyard where he held the rank of "Captain (Commander 2nd Class)." He was promoted Rear-Admiral on 3 July, 1869, probably on the day previous to, or even on the day itself that he retired, this then being common practice.  Sir William, on returning to Duntreath devoted himself to the estate.  Riding out almost daily on his pony Molly to supervise all that was in hand, he frequently took shelter during rainstorms below the sycamore that stands above the roadside almost opposite to the entrance of the Baptiston Farm.

Mary Elizabeth and Sir William in all had eleven children, a further proof of her tenacity. Of their nine daughters, the eldest Mary Emma Frances (1842-1847) died when she was five. Their first son, called Archibald, died in infancy but their second son, of the same name, thankfully survived.

Sir Willliam died in 1888 and was succeeded by his son Sir Archibald Edmonstone, 15th of Duntreath and 5th Bt.C.V.O. D.L., Groom in Waiting to H.M. King Edward VII 1907-10. He accompanied the King on his state visit to Leningrad in 1908.  Educated privately and at Oxford, Sir Archibald married Ida, daughter of George Stewart Forbes of Newe, Bt. She was a Woman of the Bedchamber to H.R.H. Princess Christian. His youngest sister Alice, who married the Hon. George Keppel, has her place in history as the confidante of King Edward VII. Largely to accommodate the royal entourage Sir Archibald made what the R.C.H.A.M.S. describe as "heterogeneous additions" to Duntreath Castle. The King visited Duntreath when still the Prince of Wales and a hundred people on that occasion are said to have slept in the castle.  The architects employed for this further rebuilding were Sydney Mitchell and Wilson, the latter of whom being no relation to the Charles Wilson of the plans of 1857.

A third floor, which contained the nurseries was added to the south range. The east block was renovated with a square tower of four storeys being added on either side. Each floor of the SE. tower contained two bedrooms and a bathroom, The huge baths, a great novelty at the time, were surrounded by pipes, from which showers, sprays and jets of water were produced. The NE tower also contained bedrooms, designed for the large staff needed to run the house at that time.  The two towers were connected on the second floor by a gallery which ran above the arch on the east side of the courtyard surmounting the main entrance below. A wide stair descended from the gallery into a long low hall.  A door from the landing at the top of the stair gave into the dining room, thought to have been previously the chapel. Below in the ancient foundations, were the butler's pantry, servants hall, still room and kitchens.  Sir Archibald, helped by his sister Alice, also laid out the garden much in the same form as it is today. A large walled garden with green-houses, above the house to the north, was abandoned in the 1950s.  Sir Archibald had three sons. The eldest William was killed in the battle of the Somme in 1916. Sir Archibald himself died in April 1954 and was succeeded by his second son Archibald Charles.

Sir Archibald, 16th of Duntreath and 6th Bt., who was always known as Charlie, was educated at Wellington and the R.M.C. A lieutenant in the 9th Lancers, he served during the First World War. He then became A.D.C. to The Marquess of Willingdon, Governor of Madras.  Renowned as an outstanding horseman, he was Joint Master of the Fernie Hunt from 1928-34. The family at that time lived during the winter months at Highfield House, Husbands Bosworth, near Market Harborough. Also an amateur jockey, he owned several race horses, and with his mare Ocean Wave, he won the "Race for Amateur Riders" at the Western Meeting at Ayr in 1935.  At Duntreath he planted many of the woods, some designed as pheasant coverts, which are features of the present day.  He married Gwendolyn Mary, daughter of Marshall Field II of Chicago, in 1923. His father Sir Archibald, then made over the estate of Duntreath to him. Surviving his father a bare two months, he died in June 1954.  He was succeeded by his only surviving son, Sir Archibald Edmonstone, 17th of Duntreath, 7th Bt. Educated at Stowe, he held a National Service commission in the Scots Greys. 

On inheriting Duntreath at the age of only twenty two, he found himself faced by the problems of the post war age. Costs of maintenance were escalating, heating was enormously expensive, and a house of such a size was near impossible to run.  Therefore with great reluctance he decided to reduce it to its present size, the work of alteration finishing in 1958.  In 1957, he married Jane, daughter of Major-General Colville, and by this marriage has two sons and a daughter. He married secondly, in 1969, Juliet (Julie) daughter of Major-General Deakin, and by this marriage has a son and a daughter.

Together with Julie he has altered and restored the garden. On the south side of the house they have made a lake. Also they have built a flight of steps from the terrace down to the lawn. On the west side of the house walls have been constructed to support the banks of the sunken rose garden, designed round a small pond, with a fountain playing in its centre. Restoration of the water garden, a series of ponds made by damming a burn, which was laid out by his grandfather and great aunt, has been recently completed.

The Edmonstones are extremely kind in allowing the house and the gardens to be open on behalf of charities. Thus, after over five and a half centuries, the fortress built for protection, retains an important role in the life of the Blane Valley.




Sir Archibald Edmonstone, 3rd Bt., wrote in 1851 that the cadet branch of Spittal or Broich was the only one then remaining in the male line. Both sides of this family were descended from sons of Sir Archibald Edmonstone, 3rd of Duntreath (see p.29).  For several generations they were hereditary baillies on the Duntreath estate. The name "Craigbrock" may signify that they lived there, perhaps in an earlier house, while factoring Duntreath estate.



This branch of the family, according to Sir Archibald, may have ended with the death of Mr James Edmonstone of Newton, Doune, during the 19th century.  Later, however, he mentions in a note that a direct branch of the Cambus-Wallace line was believed to be still living in Biggar, in a house called Cambus-Wallace.

This may have been Archibald Edmonstone, who was Captain of Edinburgh High Constables and Major of No 13 Queen's Company Edinburgh.  He married Lucy, daughter of Richard Smith of Harescombe Gloucestershire.  They had two sons, Francis Richard and Charles Gordon, and one daughter Catherine but later descendants, if any, have not so far been found.  This information came from a Miss Lucine Edmonstone, who claimed to be descended from a William Edmonstone, born about 1600, but did not give further details, saying that documents had been lost.



Andrew Edmonston, a minister of the church, went to live in Shetland during the reign of Mary Queen of Scots. (1542-67). He would seem to have been connected with the senior line of the family. His descendants, their name spelt without the e, still live today in Unst, the most northerly island of the Shetlands.

The National Dictionary of Biography, which gives the spelling Edmondston, (pp396-8) describes the family as "one of the oldest in Shetland". Laurence Edmondston, a surgeon in Lerwick, was, for most of his long life, the only medical practitioner in the islands. His eldest son Arthur, M.D. (1776?-1841) who followed his profession, entered the army and served under Sir Ralph Abercromby in Egypt before returning to Lerwick to succeed to his father's practice. He died unmarried in 1841.

Laurence Edmondston M.D., the "udaller" (owner) of Unst (1795-1879) was the youngest brother of the above-mentioned Arthur.  Laurence's eldest son, Thomas Edmondston (1825-1846) born at Buness in Unst, became well known as a naturalist and was elected to the professorship of Botany and Natural History in Anderson's "University" at Glasgow in 1845.  But before beginning his lectures he accepted the post of naturalist on board the Herald, ordered to the Pacific and Californian coast. The ship having anchored off the coast of Peru, a boat was sent ashore, but on re-embarking a rifle was accidentally discharged and the ball, passing through Edmondston's head, killed him instantaneously. He was only twenty one.



The American cadet branch of the Edmonstones of Duntreath is believed to be descended from Robert Edmonstone, the third son of John Edmonstone of Broich, brother of Archibald Edmonstone, 8th of Duntreath. Archibald died in 1637 aged only thirty seven. Upon this happening his brothers, first James, and then upon his decease John, became " tutors" (guardians) of Archibald's two young sons, namely William, the "Dumb Laird" and Archibald, 9th of Duntreath.  John married his first cousin Elizabeth Edmonstone who brought him the lands of Ballybantry in Ireland. They had nine children, of whom the third was a son named Robert.

Following the death of Elizabeth, John married, secondly, Katherine Cunningham by whom he had another seven children, the fourth a boy named Robert. Finally, his first son by Elizabeth had ten children, the third being yet another Robert.  From available records it seems that the first mentioned, namely the third son of John and Elizabeth, was probably the Robert Edmonstone who is known to have been in America in 1689, and who died there c.1695.

He was the father of Archibald Edmonstone, the acknowledged progenitor of the Edmonstones in America, who was born c.1668 and died in 1734 in Prince George County. (Information lodged in Georgetown Public Library).  Archibald is known to have been in Maryland in 1683 (Maryland Debt Rolls etc). He married Jane Beall, youngest daughter of Ninian Beall, when he is said to have been around seventeen or eighteen years old.

Colonel Ninian Beall (Archibald's father-in-law) was born, either in Fife or Galloway in 1625. He fought against Cromwell at the battle of Dunbar in 1650 and was taken prisoner. Transported to Barbados, he escaped and found his way to Maryland where he became exceedingly prosperous, eventually owning 25,000 acres of land. He married Ruth Moore of Calvert County (daughter of a London barrister) by whom he had twelve children, including the youngest daughter named Jane who married Archibald Edmonstone.  Colonel Ninian Beall gave the land and founded the first Presbyterian church in Maryland at Upper Marlborough. His son-in-law, Colonel Archibald Edmonstone, was one of the elders.

In 1910 the Society of the Colonial Wars dedicated a mammoth rock and tablet to the memory of Colonel Ninian Beall. It stands on the lawn of St. John's Church, 33rd Street, Georgetown.  Colonel Ninian Beall lived to be ninety-seven.  He was buried on his home plantation near Georgetown. On the town being expanded his remains were dug up. Then "it was found that he was six feet seven inches tall and his Scotch red hair had retained all its fiery hue".  Most of the alliances of Colonel Beall's children and grandchildren were with Scottish people who had settled in the part of Prince George County called New Scotland. Eliza Beall, great-great-grand-daughter of Colonel Ninian, married Colonel George.C. Washington, nephew of General Washington. (A.A.Co.Judgements. 1722 June Ct. page 329).  Two of Beall's daughters married Magruders and it was his third (and youngest) daughter Jane who married Archibald Edmonston. The spelling varies but the e appears to have been dropped at about this time.

Archibald Edmonston is first mentioned specifically in the land records of Annapolis. The transfer of an assignment of 1,000 acres, called Beall's Camp, by Colonel Ninian Beall is recorded in 1680.  Archibald Edmonston, known after 1700 as Colonel Edmonston, patented various extensive tracts of land in Prince George County, part of which, after the division of that county, was within the boundaries of Frederick and later Montgomery and even Washington counties.  Colonel Archibald is said to have succeeded his brilliant father-in-law as Commander of the Prince George's County Militia. He died in 1733 leaving several sons and daughters.  His eldest son James (1689-1753) married his cousin Mary Beall, granddaughter of Alexander Magruder of Prince George county. He became a justice for Montgomery county, and was a captain in the Colonial Militia. A younger son, Archibald, married Dorothy Brooke and left descendants, including a son called Roger (1730-1811) and another named Thomas (1740-1805).

"The Edmonstons figured in the military and official life of the Colonial Revolutionary period. They married the best blood in Maryland, and their descendants are many. They are allied with the Magruders, Bealls, Ormes, Spiers, Spriggs and Ingrams...The Carberys of Washington D.C., are also descendants." (Extract from the Sun Baltimore Article headed "Side-Lights on Maryland History-Unsung Heroes of Revolution." Copyrighted 1904 by Hester Dorsey Richardson).

A document headed "To the Board of Managers of the Daughters of the American Revolution" testifies to the fact that several of the Edmonstones, or Edmonstons, as the name was generally spelt, fought on the side of the Revolutionaries.  Amongst them was Thomas Edmonston, who as already mentioned, was the younger son of Archibald Edmonston Junior, and grandson of Colonel Edmonston. He served first as an ensign under Brigadier-General Rezin Beall, to whom he was related. Later he was promoted, firstly as lieutenant and then as captain.  Thomas Edmonston married his second cousin Mary Beall and they had five sons and two daughters. Three grandsons and a granddaughter are also recorded.

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