The Regarde Bien
Issue No. 2
Fergus Amuligane of Blackmyre
Until I began my research into the Amuliganes of Nithsdale in the 1990s, the history of the Lairds of Blackmyre appears to have been almost forgotten and to my knowledge, this is the first major attempt to place on record an account of their history. It begins with “Fergus Muligane” first styled of “Blakmyre” in the Acts of the Lords of Council, which records that on 19th January, 1492, William Douglas, Fergus’s procurator (solicitor) appeared in person before the Council to answer a complaint brought against Fergus by Robert Maitland of Queensberry and Auchengassel(1). The precise nature of the complaint against him is not stated, but as Blackmyre bounded Maitland’s estate, it might well have involved a dispute over boundary or grazing rights. Whatever the dispute, both men appear to have resolved their differences for we find them, only a few months later, being ‘especially constituted’ sheriffs of Dumfries.
By a charter granted under the Great Seal of Scotland on 19th May, 1492, Robert Maitland of Auchengassel, “Fergus Amuligane of Blakmyre” and David Brown in Dalveen were directed by King James IV (1488-1513) to infeft William Douglas in the land and barony of Drumlanrig, which lies in the civil parish of Durisdeer, resigned into the king’s hand by his father James Douglas, fourth Laird of Drumlanrig(2). The old barony of Drumlanrig was originally granted to William’s great, great grandfather, called Sir William Douglas, in 1388; this man was the illegitimate son of Sir James Douglas, second Earl of Douglas. William was also the nephew of the famous ‘Archibald the Grim’, Lord of Galloway, whose illegitimate son Sir William Douglas came to possess the lordship of Nithsdale. It is said of this brave knight, that he stood so high in knightly renown that in 1387, King Robert II (1371-90) over-looking the slur of bastardy gave him in marriage to his younger daughter Egidia, popularly called the Lady Gellis and as a dowry the lordship of Nithsdale(3).
As a freeholder, that is, one who possessed hereditary rights to his property, Fergus could be called upon by the king to act as his ‘sheriff’ in certain matters such as performing the act of infeftment, in other words, the putting of an heir into possession of his lands. In medieval times, this was a symbolic act carried out by the ‘handing over of earth and stone’ and was done on the ground of the property being infeft. The instrument recording the sasine by which the king conveyed the barony of Drumlanrig to William Douglas, as heir of his father, has survived and states the ceremony was carried out by Fergus Amuligane, ‘sheriff in that part’, at the principal mansion of the barony at 10 am on 16 June, 1492. It also records that it was done in the presence of Duncan Hunter son and heir of Bartholomew Hunter of Ballagan, William Douglas of Coshogle, James Douglas in Collinie, George Douglas in Marr and Gilbert McCall of Grennan(4). Fergus was almost certainly a baillie, an officer of the barony, though, there is some suggestion he may also have been a messenger-at-arms, that is, the person by whom a process is served and diligence carried out in court proceedings.
The land of Blackmyre, along with the land of Grennan, comprised what were commonly known as the ‘Messinger's lands’, indicating that these farms had been granted in fee to men who held the hereditary office of messenger-at-arms probably at the old sheriff court of Nithsdale. In 1492, the superiority of the Messinger's lands belonged to the Griersons of Lag and were ‘parts and pertinents’ of the land and barony of Ard(5). Sometime after 1369, George tenth Earl of Dunbar granted this small barony to Gilbert Grierson, the ancestor to the Griersons of Lag, as payment in kind for the service of baillie in the barony of Tibbers. The land of Grennan is first mentioned in the year 1464, when Robert Fergusson of Breconside, which lies in the parish of Glencairn, appeared in person at the barony court of Ard, where Vedast Grierson of Lag granted him the land of Grennan on behalf of Jonet and Isabel, heirs of the deceased Duncan John of Grennan(6). In 1485, Vedast’s son and heir apparent, Roger, divided the land of Grennan between Robert Fergusson and Isabel his spouse, and Gilbert McCall, on the instruction of King James III (1460-88) of Scotland(7).
Roger Grierson came to possess the ‘superiority’ of the Messingers lands in 1474, when his father, Vedast, resigned them in his favour(8). A year earlier, Roger had married Isabella, daughter of William Gordon of Lochinver in Galloway, and as a dowry, Vedast gifted the young couple the 5 merkland of Tererran, and 7½ merkland of Corriedow, Murmulloch, "Cormuligane", Crostane and Margmony, which are located in the civil parish of Tynron in Nithsdale(9). The young couple subsequently built their manor house at Tererran, near the farmtoun of Cormuligane. Ten years later in 1484, we find the barony of Drumjohn with its pertinents, viz. Longfurd, Kilcrosche, Corarlo and Holm of Daltallochan in the parish of Carsphairn in Galloway, resigned in favour of Roger by his father(10). The sasine recording this conveyance was witnessed by Alexander Gordon, chaplain, Roger Gordon, Bernard Gordon, Sir William McMillan, Fergus Amuligane, Michael McMillan, Simon Amuligane and William Spens. Most, if not all the men listed in this sasine were either relatives or tenants of Vedast Grierson of Lag and Roger Grierson of Tererran.
There is some evidence to indicate that Fergus may also have held land on Vedast’s small estate in the district of Carsphairn in Galloway perhaps as early as 1480. In that year, “Fergus Amulykin”, John Michelson and William Reid were accused of plundering and stealing five cows and two calves belonging to John Matheson. This man was given leave by the Lords of Council to prove his case before the Steward of Kirkcudbright and recover as far as possible his losses(11). I am of the opinion Fergus was the son of Gilbert Amuligane, keeper of the king’s unbroken horses and one of Vedast’s tenants-in-chief. As far as I can ascertain, Gilbert is the first Amuligane to appear in Galloway and lived for a time at Balmaclellan, another small estate belonging to Vedast, which he sold in 1466. It is more than likely, that when this property was sold, Gilbert took his livestock further up the valley and settled them on Vedast’s land in the Carsphairn area. Whilst there is no evidence to support this suggestion, it would explain why we find the Amuliganes in this area from the 1480s onwards.
Regrettably, there are no extant charters surviving to indicate at what date Fergus came to possess the land of Blackmyre, though, I rather think it could be inferred from the documents cited, it was granted to him sometime after 1474. Similarly, although, there is no evidence to indicate Blackmyre belonged to his father, the absence of proof is not proof of absence. Whatever, with the death of his father, Fergus almost certainly became the beneficiary to a substantial legacy, which probably included a number of small properties leased from the Laird of Lag and possibly other major landowners. I think this could be inferred from the document cited above, which records that William Douglas acted as Fergus’s procurator. William Douglas was either a trusted friend or one of his overlords. I think this man can be identified as William Douglas of Drumlanrig, a chosen man whom King James IV of Scotland knighted probably in 1505. In that year, Sir William Douglas of Drumlanrig obtained the lands of Malcomflat from Adam Kirkpatrick of Pennersax.
The Sasine that records the resignation of the land of Malcomflat in favour of Sir William Douglas was witnessed in the presence of Sir John Gordon of Lochinver, Quentin Mure of Ard, James Maitland of Auchengassel and Cuthbert Amuligane of Crogo at the notary booth of James Young in Edinburgh(12). This is quite a formidable list of names; Sir John Gordon was father-in-law of Sir William Douglas of Douglas and King James’s personal shield bearer. Cuthbert Amuligane of Crogo was related to Sir John through his marriage to Marion McNaucht of Crogo, whose sister Egidia married Roger Gordon of Lochinver, Sir John’s younger brother. Both Sir John Gordon and Sir William Douglas were men of noble birth, schooled in the art and cult of medieval chivalry and courtiers whose honour earned them knighthoods. It should come of no great surprise to find Fergus and Cuthbert in the company of these two knights, if they themselves were directly related to a man who had a background of royal service. The only man to fit this description would have been Gilbert Amuligane, keeper of the king’s unbroken horse in 1456 in Galloway.
In 1488, Roger Grierson of Lag died as a result of wounds received at the battle of Sauchieburn, having stood for the cause of King James III against his son then Prince James. He raised an army in rebellion against his father and succeeded to the throne of Scotland, shortly after his father’s death at Sauchieburn. Two years later, we find “Thomas Muligane and Simon Muligane” witnessing a sasine granting Cuthbert Grierson, as son and heir of his father Roger, the 7 merkland of Lag, 21 merkland of Ard, 19 merkland of Dalgarnock Holm and 10 merkland of Messinger's lands in 1490(13). I think Simon is the same Simon Amuligane, who along with Fergus witnessed the sasine by which Roger came to possess the barony of Drumjohn some sixteen years earlier, and that both men were probably brothers of Thomas. Sir William Douglas’s sister, Agnes (also called Janet) married Cuthbert’s younger brother Roger Grierson, a marriage that strengthened further the mutual bonds between the Griersons of Lag and Douglases of Drumlanrig.
Fergus Amuligane appears in several other legal documents, the first recording a complaint brought before the Lords of Council at Edinburgh on 13th February, 1500, by Simon Carruthers of Mouswald in Annandale, against George Muirhouse of that Ilk, deputy to Robert, Lord Crichton of Sanquhar, Sheriff of Dumfries, "Fergus Amuligane of Blakmyre", James Walch of Shaws and others who served a brieve of chancery at the instance of Margaret, Elizabeth and Janet Carruthers(14). Later that year, on 20th November, 1500, we find Fergus witnessing a document for Robert Carlyle, who “on the stairs of the hospice” in Edinburgh, told Thomas Kennedy, son of John Kennedy of Blairquhan in Ayrshire, that his father, John Lord Carlyle, had appointed him to pursue the debt of 100 merks owed by the deceased Patrick Kessock, burgess of Kirkcudbright. His daughter, Marion Kessock, was the spouse of Thomas Kennedy who in a charter granted the 2 merkland of Little Dunrod near Kirkcudbright to Robert Carlyle in 1502(15). In the next document, Fergus was one of a number of men who sat on assizes held at Penpont on 2nd April, 1505, before George Muirhouse to establish the right of Cuthbert Grierson of Lag to succeed as heir to his father Roger in the lands of Drumjohn(16).
Fergus married Janet Cunningham described as one of the executors of the ‘deceased Fergus Amuligane of Blakmyre and now spouse of Gilbert Grierson’ in a petition brought before the Lords of Council in 1538(17). Gilbert is the same Gilbert styled of Camling in the parish of Tynron, who with his brother Sir Thomas Grierson, chaplain, were appointed procurators of Christian Amuligane ‘to win or tyne in all her actions moved or to be moved in the sheriff court’ of Dumfries in 1537(18). What became of Fergus after 1505 is less than certain for no record has survived to indicate his movements for less his fate; he almost certainly died at the battle of Flodden fought in Northumberland on 9th September, 1513. Nearly every family in Scotland, both noble and common, suffered the loss of one of its sons in battle. It included nine earls (Scotland had 12 earls at the time), the Archbishop of St. Andrews and fourteen greater lords, all of whom perished ‘on the field of war’ along with King James IV, Sir John Gordon of Lochinver and Sir William Douglas of Drumlanrig.
1. Thomson T. (editor): Acts of the Lords of Council in Civil Causes (1478-95), Vol.I, p. 262. Robert was the son of James Maitland and Egidia Scrymgeour of Auchengassel in the parish of Penpont.
2. Reid, R. C.: Drumlanrig Writs [Ewart Library Dumfries], Vol. 9, p. 9.
3. Note: the earl of Orkney, Henry Sinclair, obtained the Lordship of Nithsdale through his marriage to Egidia daughter of Sir William Douglas of Nithsdale.
4. Reid, R. C.: Drumlanrig Writs [Ewart Library Dumfries], Vol. 9, p. 10.
5. Acts and Decreets by the Lords of Council (extracts), R. C. Reid, Vol. I48 p. 110-112.
6. Hamilton-Grierson, Sir Philip J: The Lag Charters 1400-1720, Scottish Record Society, p. 11, no. 9.
7. Ditto, appendix, p. 53, no. 17.
8. Ditto, p. 12, no. 20.
9. Ditto, p. 13, no. 21.
10. Ditto, p. 14, no 34.
11. Thomson T. (editor): Acts of the Lords of Council in Civil Causes (1478-95), Vol. I p. 64.
12. Donaldson, Gordon (editor): Protocol Book of James Young 1485-1515 (Scottish Record Society, 1941), no. 1509.
13. Hamilton-Grierson, Sir Philip J: The Lag Charters 1400-1720, Scottish Record Society, p. 16, no. 40.
14. Neilson, G. & Paton, H (editors): Acts of the Lords of Council in Civil Causes (1496-1501), p.393.
15. Donaldson, Gordon (editor): Protocol Book of James Young 1485-1515, no. 1098; see also the Great Seal of Scotland 1424-1513, no. 2658.
16. Hamilton-Grierson, Sir Philip J: The Lag Charters 1400-1720, Scottish Record Society, p. 17, no. 49.
17. Reid, R. C.: Acts of Dominorum Concili 1538-59 [Ewart Library Dumfries], Vol.151, p. 9 & 11.
18. Sheriff Court Book of Dumfries 1537-38, TDGNHAS 1916-18, Vol. V, p. 94.
The quest to find the site of Blackmyre House, the seat of the Chiefs of the ancient family of Amuligane in Nithsdale, is almost over. I use the word “quest” for this is certainly how it felt for both Don and I back in 1995, when after a long search, our paths finally crossed through a mutual friend, Alfred Truckell, historian and retired curator of the Dumfries Archives Centre. Don had already contacted a number of institutions, such as the National Library of Scotland, National Archives of Scotland and Dumfries Archives Centre, however, the information supplied by these national and local archives proved conflicting. The full extent of the problem facing us can be best summed up in the words of the author of the 1770 Directory of Land Ownership in Scotland(1), "Blackmyre, said to be lost". Blackmyre is located in the civil parish of Penpont near the town of Thornhill and two 17th century maps, depict the house in different parts of the parish. The two maps in question are known as the Blaeu and Gordon Maps, both of which are based on the original field maps of Timothy Pont compiled toward the end of the 16th century. Some of the original maps have survived and are preserved at the Map Library in Edinburgh. Unfortunately, they were closed to public viewing, at least, until modern technology came to our aid two-three years ago.
The National Library of Scotland has produced digital images of the original field maps of Timothy Pont, Scotland's first real cartographer, and one of his best-preserved covers the valley of Nithsdale. I have obtained a digital image of this map and that section which depicts Blackmyre can be seen on the scanned image shown above. Both Don and I were surprised to learn that Bleau’s map, which was considered to be more accurate than Gordon’s map, had wrongly depict Blackmyre. It always pays to have the original crossed checked, and if I have learned anything in genealogy this must surely be the greatest lesson. According to Pont’s map, the old house of Blackmyre, spelt as "Blakmyir" was located south of Tibbers Castle and is indicated by an arrow pointing to the house situated on the banks of the river Nith near a bend. A modern Ordinance Survey map, corresponding roughly to that section shown above has been posted on to this website (see below) and you will note that the place-name still survives in the form of “Blackmire Scar”, the latter being an old Scottish word for a stream or river.
It is difficult to gauge where exactly the house of Blackmyre once stood, and at the time of writing, my best guess would be it was built on a mound that can be identified as Home Plantation on the above map, near Blackmire Scar. However, there is also potentiality for Blackmyre to have been located at Whitehill Plantation, next to Tibbers Farm. Both these properties have long since been absorbed into the Buccleuch Estate owned by his Grace, the Duke of Queensberry. Last year, I commissioned a search of the Duke's private archives at Drumlanrig Castle in the hope of discovering manuscripts relating to Blackmyre and some old maps. Unfortunately, they nearly all appear to have been either misplaced or lost! Whichever, perhaps in time, we will stumble across some clue that will once and for all confirm Blackmyre's exact location. At least we now know where the land of Blackmyre is located, lying just west of the town of Thornhill across the river Nith.
1. Timperly, Loretta R.: A directory of landownership in Scotland c.1770 (Scottish Record Society, 1976).
Cuthbert Amuligane of Crogo
Cuthbert Amuligane of Crogo is first mentioned in an instrument of resignation dated at Edinburgh on 6th March, 1505, by Adam Kirkpatrick sometime of Pennyrsax in favour of Sir William Douglas of Drumlanrig, granting him the three merkland of Malcomflat in the parish of Durisdeer(1)
. In that month, we also find Cuthbert submitting a petition to the Lords of Council in Edinburgh, on behalf of himself and his spouse Marion McNaucht, against John Campbell of Templeland and his spouse Margaret Barbour for wrongfully double tacking the one merkland of old extent commonly called Barmark in the parish of Balmaclellan to Thomas Amuligane and Robert Langmuir(2)
. Thomas was probably a close relation and perhaps Cuthbert's brother or uncle.
As a laird, Cuthbert’s feudal status was one of lordship and kinship, which by 1505 was based more on the obligation of personal service to the king and less on the tradition of knight service. Ian Whyte has suggested that by the end of the fifteenth century, the agnatic system of kinship, which recognised relationships only through the male line and defined by the possession of a common surname, appears to have become typical in Scotland(3)
. Kinship also extended to bonds of manrent, written contracts of allegiance and mutual support usually between a lord and laird, giving the latter the backing of powerful magnates and strengthening the regional influence of great lords. This form of kinship is reflected in the few surviving documents that have come down to us from the late medieval period, which relate to the lairds of Blackmyre and Crogo. We can see traces of this in the link between Cuthbert and his brother-in-law, Roger Gordon, the brother of Sir John Gordon, lord of Lochinver, and his kinsmen, Sir William Douglas of Drumlanrig and Roger Grierson of Lag.
Cuthbert married Marion McNaucht, daughter of Andrew McNaucht of Dalquhairn in the parish of Dalry, Kirkcudbrightshire, and through his wife he came to inherit half the lands of Crogo and Dalquhairn. These lands were held from the crown, who reserved the feudal right of ‘giving in marriage’. Consequently, before marrying Cuthbert, feudal law required that Marion obtain royal consent and a crown license on payment of a fee. By all accounts, she did not, for we find the Lords of Council issuing a summons in 1508 directing Marion and her sister, Janet, to appear before them and prove their payment having married without a crown licence(4)
. This omission appears to have been brought to the crowns attention in 1507, when Janet purchased a crown feu ferme
for the four merkland of Knocksheen in the parish of Kells(5)
Cuthbert almost certainly died at the battle of Flodden on 9th September, 1513, leaving no male heir by his marriage to Lady Marion. She died about 1518 and by all accounts, left her estate to John Amuligane of Blackmyre and Oswald Cunningham. In an age, when the right of hereditary succession was chiefly determined by an agnatic system of kinship, the choice of Marion’s successors raises the question, how were John and Oswald related to her? It seems probable, John was either Cuthbert's brother or nephew. Marion's relationship with Oswald Cunningham is less obvious. If Janet Cunningham was the daughter of Philip Cunningham of Birkshaw, could it be Oswald was a Cunningham of Birkshaw. In 1497, Philip Cunningham, John Grierson in Kirkbride and Cuthbert Amuligane were directed by John Halliday of Halliday Hill, commonly known as Bardonan Hill, to infeft George Grierson in the forty shilling land of Halliday Hill(6)
. Two years earlier in 1495, Thomas Kirkpatrick of Closeburn stood surety for Cuthbert Muligane and Andrew McGie granted remission for taking 18 horses, 6 oxen and 47 cows belonging to Robert Fergusson of Breconside(7)
It will be recalled that in 1485 Robert Fergusson of Breconside came to inherit half of the lands of Grennan with it’s pertinents through his marriage to Isabel one of the co-heiress of Duncan John of Grennan. The farms of Breconside and Birkshaw both lay in the barony of Snade, the property of Sir John Hay of Yester who on 15th February, 1506, granted a charter to Elizabeth Crichton of Kirkpatrick, for the two and half merkland of old extent in the same barony ‘once held in assedation’, an old Scottish term meaning to let out on lease, by Patrick Amuligane, Cuthbert Amuligane and Thomas McCrone and ‘now occupied’ by Adam Gordon(8)
. The land referred to in this charter lay within close proximity to Breconside, which raises the question, could this Cuthbert have been the same Cuthbert Amuligane who married Marion McNaucht of Crogo? There are a number of factors that would suggest that this is a strong likelihood, e.g. the connection with Philip Cunningham of Birkshaw, through his son Oswald Cunningham, the absence of any references to Cuthbert after 1497 in the vicinity of Birkshaw and Lag, and the possible marriage of Cuthbert to Marion McNaucht of Crogo between 1498 and 1505.
1. Donaldson, Gordon (editor): Protocol Book of James Young 1485-1515 (Scottish Record Society, 1941), no. 1509.
2. Acts of Dominorum Concili, (SRO), C.S.5 [Jan. 14, 1504-May 23, 1505], Vol.16,folio 195-6.
3. Whyte, Ian. D.: Scotland Before the Industrial Revolution 1050-1750 (1995), p. 80-81.
4. Reid R.C: Acts of Dominorum Concili [Ewart Library Dumfries], Vol. II, 1504-14, p.37, 43.
5. Burnett, George (editor); Exchequer Rolls of Scotland 1502-7, Vol. XII, p.566-567, 653, 657.
6. Hamilton-Grierson, Sir Philip J.: The Lag Charter 1400-1720 (SRS), no. 44: see also Donald, Gordon (editor): Protocol Book of James Young (of Edinburgh) 1485-1515, p. 207, no. 912.
7. Thomson, T. (editor): Acts of the Lords of Council in Civil Causes (1478-95, Vol. I, p. 412.
8. MacLeod, J. & Harvey C.C.H (editors): Calendar of Writs preserved at Yester House (SRS), no. 294.
Upper Holm of Dalquhairn
In 1524, the second Laird of Blackmyre, John Amuligane, came to possess one half of the lands of Dalquhairn and Crogo, which respectively lie in the parishes of Carsphairn and Balmaclellan in Kirkcudbrightshire. Carsphairn was first erected into a parish in 1645, prior to this Upper Holm of Dalquahairn was included in the parish of Dalry. For over 150 years, the Lairds of Blackmyre held this property, whilst the Gordons of Crogo possessed the other half. It is important for us to trace the early history of these two properties, which play a major role in the history of the “Ms” of Kirkcudbrightshire and the many branches of “Ms” that descended from them in later years. In his book, The History of the Lands and Owners of Galloway
, P. H. McKerlie observes that of the land of Crogo, “the first owner found by us is William filius Nigelli, who is so designated in a charter which he got from King Robert I (1306-29). The next owners were the M’Nauchts” (now spelt McKnight)(1)
At what date the McNauchts acquired the lands of Crogo and Dalquhairn is unknown. They were certainly in possession of both properties by 1473, when we find John McNaucht, Laird of Dalquhairn, resigning the said lands into the hands of King James III of Scotland in favour of Andrew McNaucht, his son and heir apparent. He was subsequently granted a royal charter, a copy of which has survived and is given below:
At Edinburgh 16 October, 1473.
The King granted Andree McNacht son and heir apparent of John McNacht of Dalcarne, and his heirs, - the 15 merk lands of Dalcarne and Cragow, within the Stewarty of Kirkcudbright: which the said John resigned; Reserving free life tenancy to the said John, and a reasonable third to Margaret McNacht his wife, when it shall have happened [i.e. John’s death].
[The Register of the Great Seal of Scotland Vol. 2 No. 1146]
In 1487, King James III granted to James Barbour and his son John Barbour, chaplain, ‘ward of all and singular the lands of the late Andrew McNaucht wherever they are within the Kingdom of Scotland until the heirs of the same will have recovered hereditary sasines’(2)
. Andrew was probably killed at the battle of Kirkconnel in 1484 repelling the Duke of Albany, King James III’s eldest son. It would take nearly fourteen years before Andrew’s daughters successfully recovered their hereditary rights to the lands of Crogo and Dalquhairn. In 1498, King James IV granted Egidia and Marion, the co-heiresses of Andrew McNaucht of Crogo, each a precept of sasine as heir-portioners(3)
. The Laird of Crogo had three daughters in all: Egidia married Roger Gordon fourth son of William Gordon of Lochinver, Marion married Cuthbert Amuligane and Janet married John Gordon son of Alexander Gordon of Auchenreoch.
The small estate of Dalquhairn was held of the crown by "wardholding", one of the oldest forms of land tenure in Scotland, which carried with it the obligation of knight-service due to the crown. In the middle ages, farmland as we know it today was entirely different; there were no enclosed fields. Instead, the land lay open, with the grass uncut or studded with thickets of broom and gorse, except for the broad earthen ‘head dyke’ (ditch) which marked the perimeter of the cultivated area. Within these enclosures, called farmtouns, the arable land was farmed by plough teams, of perhaps two or four husbandmen who would have rented the farm between them as joint tenants. These farmtouns, which in a single parish could number as many as a dozen, had their pertinents - that is, with wood and plain, pastures and hayfields, moor and marsh, fishing and peat-bogs - all necessary for the farm: providing grazing and pasture for their sheep, horses, milk-cows and plough-cattle, hay for winter feed, peat and dead wood for burning, thatch and green wood for building and so forth.
Through time, many of these farmtouns were subdivided into smaller farms, and so, by the beginning of the 17th century we find the land of Dalquhairn being distinguished as Upper (Over) and Nether Holm of Dalquhairn, the names by which they are still known today. The two farms can be seen of the map below, which covers a small section on the river Ken in the district of Carsphairn.
The Milligans of Blackmyre in Nithsdale possessed Upper Holm of Dalquhairn, whilst the Gordons of Crogo possessed Nether Holm of Dalquhairn. In early charters, both these properties represent an equal division of 2 ½ merks of the total value of five merks Scots for the land of Dalquhairn, with the ten merk-land of Crogo being equally divided between the Gordons and Amuliganes. In medieval times, the basic unit or measure of land was the value of one merk or 13 shillings 4 pence, an archaic form of valuation peculiar to Scotland. Thus, a farmtoun was measured in terms of a common unit centering on a notional farm the size of which was determined by the area that one or sometimes two or three plough teams of horses or oxen could keep under cultivation. The plough teams that worked these old farms would on average be expected to cultivate an area of 104 acres of land, though in reality, a plough team would be able to work only about half that extent in any one year.
It is important to point out that McKerlie in his book The History of the Lands and Owners in Galloway
, hopelessly confuses Holm of Dalquhairn with Holm of Dalry, which is entirely lamentable. Even worse, he places the history of this property under that section dealing with the land of Grennan in the parish of Dalry. And so, he writes “We next come to various notices in regard to separate farms, the first of which is dated 1st June 1620, when Thomas Gordon, son of Roger Gordon, heir of his mother, Janet Gordon, had retour of the two and half merk land of the Holm of Dalquhairn; and again on the 14 May 1633, James son of James Mylligham (Milligan) of Blackmyre, had retour of the same”(4)
. In this statement, he also fails to distinguish that both the Gordons of Crogo and Milligans of Blackmyre held separate halves of the same estate. He should have realised this as he places the valuation of Holm of Dalquhairn under that section called “Holm” in the parish of Carsphairn, where he makes reference to the 1642 valuation of roll of Kirkcudbrightshire, which he calls the 1682, and which I give in full below:
Ancient Valuation Roll of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright(5)
Parish of Carsphairn:
Gordon of Crogo has pertaining him the lands of Nether Holm, and pays to him an hundred four-score pounds, breve, ……………… £180. 0. 0.
The Heirs (sic. Aires) of [blank] Milligan has pertaining them the lands of Over Holm of Dalquhairne, and pays to him two hundred and three-score pounds, …………. £260. 0. 0.
McKerlie goes on to say, “he (James) was succeeded by James Mylligham, his heir, who had retour on 4th November 1662. Whether or not his son is not stated. Again on, the 30th April, James M’Culligane of Blackmyre had sasine. We suppose the name given is intended for Milligan”. He couldn’t even distinguish correctly the surname of Milligan. I have examined nearly all the records he cites and in each, with one exception, the surname is spelt as Milligan. I have no idea where he found the "McCulligane" reference, a sure sign that he himself didn’t know much about the Milligans of Blackmyre. By 1717, over two hundred years after Cuthbert Amuligane acquired part of the old McNaucht estate, Upper Holm of Dalquhairn had passed into the hands of the McMillans of Bardennoch in the parish of Carsphairn, and would remain with this family for generations to come. This event may account for some confusion between the first owners being the "Milligans" and the second owners being the "McMillans". Although, these two surnames have similar meanings, they are two different families/clan.
1. McKerlie, P. H.: The history of the lands and owners in Galloway, Vol. 3, p. 94-95.
2. Burnett, George (editor): The Exchequer Rolls of Scotland 1480-87, Vol. IX, p. 46.
3. Ditto, 1497-1501, Vol. XI, p. 462.
4. McKerlie, P. H.: The History of the Lands and Owners in Galloway, Vol. 3, p. 437-438.
5. Retoured to Exchequer of Scotland 15th July 1642; copy held at the Ewart Library, Dumfries.
John Amuligane, 2nd Laird of Blackmyre
The Second laird of Blackmyre, John Amuligane, was still only a young man in 1513, when his father was probably killed at the battle of Flodden. Proof that he was the son of Fergus is found in the Acta Dominorum Concilii et Sessionis
, that is, the Acts of the Lords of Council and Session. This register records mainly the judicial business carried out by the King’s Council and deals with civil complaints rather than criminal. On 22nd May, 1538, an Action was raised by "John Amuligane in Blackmyre against John Douglas in Marr and James Douglas of Drumlanrig, as his surety, for payment to the pursuer of the profits of the 30 shilling land of Blackmyre pertaining to him in heritage". This case was continued before the Lords of Council and Session on 27th May, when John Douglas in Marr was ordained to make payment to Janet Cunningham, one of the executors of the deceased Fergus Amuligane of Blackmyre, John Amuligane, his son, and Gilbert Grierson, now spouse to the said Janet(1)
. It can be inferred from this notation that Janet also possessed the widow’s one-third share of her late husband’s estate.
If Janet Cunningham was the daughter of Philip Cunningham of Birkshaw, located near the little village of Dunscore, she may also have been related to the Amuliganes of Dempsterton. Philip Cunningham had for many years been a freeholder in the barony of Snade, and was probably granted the land of Birkshaw by his kinsman George Cunningham, lord of Belton and feudal superior of the barony of Snade. He also appears to have been one of the barony’s baillies, for he along with Adam Gordon, probably the son of Adam Gordon of Holm, and John Cottis were directed by George Cunningham to infeft his son-in-law, Sir John Hay of Yester, the barony of Snade in 1482. Only ten years earlier in 1472, Vedast Grierson of Lag, Adam Gordon, Gilbert Amuligane, John Cottis and others, witnessed a sasine directed by Robert Fergusson of Breconside, infefting George Cunningham of Belton the barony of Snade(2)
. Philip Cunningham had three sons: George, Oswald and Andrew Cunningham. The eldest two became baillies of the barony of Glencairn and with their father, acquired the land of Castlefairn in the same barony.
1524 - And of £66. 13s. 4d. in complete payment of the composition of ward relief and non entry of all and singular lands of Crago and Dalqhoun with pertinents, being in the hands of the king by the death of the deceased Mariot Mcknacht, lord thereof, with the feudal right of giving in marriage of the heir or heirs of the said Mariot granted to John Amuligan and Oswald Cunningham and their assigness(3)
The above entry, taken from the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, is an extract of the original crown precept (long since lost) conveying the lands cited to John Amuligane and Oswald Cunningham, as joint heirs of Marion McNaucht, the widow of the deceased Cuthbert Amuligane of Crogo. It is known that Lady Marion died about 1518, six years before the payment of £66. 13s. 4d., which was made for "ward of relief". This arose when the heir of a knight-service vassal to the king came of age and required that he pay a fee normally equal to one years produce, before he could obtain entry, that is, to take legal possession of his estate. It is unfortunate that the note given in the Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer of Scotland
, does not define the exact relationship between Marion and her two nearest male heirs, John and Oswald, suggesting she died leaving no immediate offspring of her own. This give rises to yet another question, how did John son of Fergus Amuligane of Blackmyre come to be one of the heirs Marion McNaucht of Crogo? The answer to this question is pursued further under the article headed "Cuthbert Amuligane of Crogo" in this issue.
As already indicated, I believe Fergus and Cuthbert Amuligane of Crogo both died at the battle of Flodden fought in Northumberland on 9th September 1513. We know Fergus had left a will in which he appointed his spouse Janet Cunningham ‘one of the executors of the "deceased Fergus Amuligane of Blakmyre". He had appointed at least one other person, and I suggest the other person was Gilbert Amuligane. He figures predominantly during the minority of John Amuligane, or at least until 1524, when John and Oswald finally secured crown titles for the lands of Crogo and Dalquhairn. Gilbert first appears on record in 1516, when we find him receiving a certain sum of money in payment for the redemption of the two merkland of Longford in the parish of Carsphairn granted to him by the Lady of Lag, Agnes Douglas, in 1513(4)
Like so many widows in Scotland, the Lady of Lag also lost her husband, Roger Grierson of Lag - not to be confused with his grandfather Roger who died in 1488 - at the battle of Flodden in 1513. Shortly afterwards, Cuthbert Cunningham, Earl of Glencairn and feudal superior of the lands of Tererran, Corriedow, Murmulloch, Cormuligane, Crostane and Margmony gifted the ward of two parts extending to £8. 4s. 5d., to George and Oswald Cunningham of Castlefairn, for reason of Roger’s death. By February 1516, we find the two brothers conveying the land back to the Lady of Lag and her children, Cuthbert, Gilbert, Jonet and Margaret Grierson(5)
In May 1517, Donald MacAdam resigned the merkland of Over Longford into the hands of Lawrence Grierson of Kirkbriderig in favour of John Grierson of Lag. The instrument conveying this property was witnessed by Alexander Gordon of Auchenroech, his son John Gordon (spouse of Janet McNaucht), David Sinclair in Earlstoun, his son John Sinclair, Sir Robert Maitland, chaplain, William Stockbrig and William Amuligane, probably of Dempsterton, and tenant of John Grierson of Lag(6)
. The lands conveyed by these title deeds had been held as surety for loans made by Donald MacAdam and Gilbert Amuligane to the Lady of Lag, indicating they may have been her kinsmen or tenants, though, it is difficult to say in the case of Gilbert who may be the same “Gilbert Mulykyn” summoned by the Lords of Council as a witness in a case brought against James Gordon of Lochinver in 1524(7)
. In that year, the Laird of Blackmyre appears to have ‘come of age’, in other words, he had reached the legal age of 21 years, when he could be entered as legal heir, giving him a potential birth date no later than 1503.
At Edinburgh 20 May, 1539. The Steward in Kirkcudbright will be answerable for £315 of the rent of the 100s lands of Crago of old extent with pertinents viz. five merklands lying within the parish of Balmaclellan and two merkland with half merklands lying in the Holm of Dalquharn within the parish of Dalry and his Stewartry being the hands of the King for the space of 21 years lately passed (by) reason (of word) which rents amount annually to £15 owed to the King by sasine granted to John Amuligan of the same(8).
In 1539, word had ‘passed’ to the King that the rents due for the lands of Crogo and Dalquhairn were still outstanding. Thus the Steward of Kirkcudbright had to show in his accounts that he had received the payment of £315 for 21 years rent, which amounted annually to £15 or 100 shillings a huge sum of money by today’s standards. It is more than likely word had passed from the Lords of Council in 1538 when Laird Amuligane is known to have submitted a petition against John Douglas in Marr for failing to pay his share of the profits arising out of the thirty shilling land of Blackmyre. Laird Amuligane was also embroiled in a dispute with the Laird of Ballagan, Duncan Hunter son of the deceased Bartholomew of Ballagan. In 1538, the minute book of the Sheriff Court of Dumfries records a civil ‘action by the laird of Blakmyre against the laird of Ballagan and what was continued to the next court with consent of both parties’(9)
. Unfortunately, we are left to ponder the outcome, as only seven folios have survived, covering six hearings held over a period of eight months between October 1537 to June 1538, and with the exception of one, all the court proceedings where held at Penpont.
The names of several Amuliganes appear in the Sheriff Court minute book, namely, Christian Amuligane, Thomas Amuligane and John Clerk alias Amuligane and of these, the first two were almost certainly related. Laird Amuligane's step father, Gilbert Grierson, stood surety for Christian. Of Thomas, we find Oswald Cunningham standing surety for him that ‘justice shall be ministered to him of John McClune in the barony of Glencairn of one oxen claimed by the said Thomas of the said John upon Tuesday the ninth day of October next to come’ in 1537(10)
. He is probably the same Thomas Amuligane, who with Gilbert Amuligane, were put to the horn in 1542, an archaic form of diligence whereby a debtor, if he failed to pay his dues to the creditor, was denounced by the blast of a horn three times at the nearest market cross and the facts then published, called the denunciation at the horn.
In the sixteenth century, Scottish landed society was dominated by three groups, the nobles, the lairds and bonnet-lairds. The social status, however, between the nobles and the bonnet-lairds differed enormously in terms of economic power, social prestige and their relationship with Crown. To understand the stratification of the social class it is necessary to grasp something of the complexities of the Scottish tradition of feudal law, which treated all landowners as vassals, or sub-vassals, holding by heritable tenure from the king in whom was vested the ultimate ownership of all land. Beneath him, there stood fewer than one hundred great families, those of the nobility and principal Highland chiefs, distinguished both by their aristocratic rank and by the fact that most of them acknowledged the king as their immediate feudal lord, such as the Earl of Douglas and Duke of Hamilton. The remaining landowners - the vast majority - were not of noble rank. They came under the general title of lairds, some holding directly of the crown but most as sub-vassals of the nobility.
The bonnet-lairds, that is, the small independent owners who tilled the ground with their own and their servant’s labour, were numerous in the south west of Scotland, particularly in Galloway. It could be argued that John Amuligane came within this group even though he held the lands of Crogo and Dalquhairn directly from the crown. Despite the wide gulf between the bonnet-lairds and the great magnates in between these two strata there was a lot of interaction between the lairds and the nobility who were often united by ties of kinship and as well as political, social and economic interests. The small estate inherited by Laird Amuligane certainly placed him in a privileged position, compared to his father Fergus (who strictly speaking was only a bonnet-laird), in that, became a direct vassal of the crown. This status also brought with it certain feudal obligations such as the personal obligation to give the king military service, to provide free hospitality and to attend the sheriff’s court when called upon to do so. Essentially, the Laird was a Gentlemen farmer, as the land he came to possess in the uplands of Kirkcudbrightshire was mountainous terrain ideal for sheep farming. For most minor lairds, livestock farming was favoured as it provided a wholesale market in wool and leather, which were much sought after in the Low Countries of Europe(11)
Very little is known about Laird Amuligane’s servants or tenantry, though, it is possible one of them might well have been David Grier, a tenant in Blackmyre in 1531(12)
. Of his life, the Laird appears to have lived in relative obscurity, far from the praying eyes of the chancery, unlike his son and heir apparent, also called John, who became servitor of William, Lord Ruthven, Earl of Gowrie. The second Laird of Blackmyre was killed on 10th September 1547 at the battle of Pinkie fought near Musselburgh, where the Scottish army were defeated by the Duke of Somerset, the English commander sent into Scotland, at the head of an army comprising 18, 000 men. The Scottish army, which had been estimated at about 30, 000, suffered huge losses, with about 10, 000 killed on the field of war and 1500 taken prisoners. The Laird was probably aged about 45 years when he died in 1547, a man still in the prime of life.
1. Acta Dominorum Concilii 1538-1559 (NAS), CS6/10, ff78v.
2. MacLeod, J. & Harvey C.C.H (editors): Calendar of Writs preserved at Yester House (SRS), no. 169, 203.
3. Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer of Scotland (translation from Latin) Vol. V, p.186.
4. Hamilton-Grierson, Sir Philip J: The Lag Charters 1400-1720, (SRS), no. 79.
5. Ditto, no.78.
6. Ditto, no. 83.
7. Reid R.C: Acts of Dominorum Concili [Ewart Library Dumfries], Vol.149, p. 138.
8. Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, (translation from Latin) Vol.17, p.767.
9. Sheriff Court Book of Dumfries 1537-38, TDGNHAS 1916-18, Vol. V, p.96.
10. Ditto, p. 93.
11. Walter Mulykin was paid a certain sum by the King for making two dozen leather belts for saddles in 1537; see the Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer of Scotland, Vol. 6, p. 355.
12. Acts of Dominorum Concili (extracts), R. C. Reid, Vol. 150, p. 56.
John Amuligane, 3rd Laird of Blackmyre
After the Scots army had been heavily defeated at Pinkie, English garrisons were stationed at several places in southeast Scotland. The following year, with the aid of more than 6,000 French troops, the Scots won a series of decisive victories in the Lothians and Borders, and by early 1549, the last of the English garrisons left the country. The Exchequer Rolls of Scotland record that for nearly the space of one year, after the death of John Amuligane second laird, a precept of sasine had not been ‘taken up’ by his son and heir, also called John Amuligane, no doubt indicative of the harsh and turbulent effects of war on an already impoverish country. On 5th November 1548, the third laird was granted a royal precept of sasine for the relief the £10 lands of Crogo in the parish of Balmaclellan and £5 lands of Dalquhairn in the parish of Dalry. The minute of this transaction, written in Latin, has been transcribed and translated below:
The Steward of Kirkcudbright will be answerable for £10 of the rent of the five merk lands of Kago, being in the hands of the Queen for the space of one year last past the sasine not having been taken up and for £10 of relief of the lands and for £5 of rents of the two merk and half merk lands of Holm in Dalcharne of old extent together with their mills and fishings, lying in the parish of Balmaclellan and Dalry and within his Stewartry being in the hands of the Queen for the said period and for the above reason, and for £5 of relief of them; owed to the Queen by the sasine granted to John Amuligan, whose father died at Pinkiescleuch. Edinburgh 5th November 1548(1)
The laird is known to have been one of the baillies of James Hepburn, fourth earl of Bothwell, who for a short time was proprietor of the barony of Earlstoun in the parish of Dalry. In 1565, the laird styled “John Amilligane of Blakmyre” was directed by the Earl to infeft Alexander Sinclair in Earlstoun, in the one merkland of Todstone(2)
. In 1575, we find “John Amilligane of Blakmyre”, Dungal McMichael in Lorg, John Williamson in Waterhead, Alexander Sinclair now in Glen, John McMichael in Blackcraig and Hector McMath burgess in Edinburgh all owing sums money to Christian McCourtie, sometime spouse of William McClammeroch in Holm of Dalquhairn. By her last will and testament, Christian appointed her spouse, William McClammeroch, and “John Amilligane” of Blackmyre, executors to her estate in the presence of Patrick Hislop in Holm, Patrick Wrytman in Holm and Andrew McClammeroch son of the Downie McClammeroch. She died several days later on 15th February at Holm of Dalquhairn(3)
. Her will has preserved the names of three of laird Amuligane’s tenants, William McClammeroch, Patrick Hislop and Patrick Wrytman, all tenants in Holm of Dalquhairn.
The Sinclairs of Glen, which bounds the land of Dalquhairn to the west, had been proprietors of the land of Glen in the barony of Earlstoun, probably since the family first gained a footing in Galloway sometime after the fall of the Douglases in 1455. One branch of the family acquired the barony of Earlstoun and another the land of Auchenfranco in the parish of Lochrutton. It is worth remarking that Alexander Mullikin, one of the servitors of George, Earl of Caithness, in 1556, settled on the Earl’s northern estate in Caithness(4)
. It is possible Alexander may have been one of the sons of the second laird, or a kinsman, related through another branch of Amuliganes, who lived at Auchenfranco, next to the Sinclair family in Lochrutton. It is also worth observing that the third laird of Blackmyre is styled ‘laird Amuligane’ in an old tack (lease) dated 20th July 1572(5)
. By this tack, John Maitland of Auchengessel purchased the rights to the teinds sheaves of the parishes of Penpont and Tynron from Thomas, Commendator of the Abbey of Holywood, for certain lands “which are now in the said persons own hands, viz. Auchingaschill, Auchinbanzie, 100s. land of Bagrawis, Auchinfathe, Tibberstoun, Messingeris lands, to wit, the layrd Amvligane and the laird Makcallis lands, Cloyngavies, &, the 40s. land of Penpont and Grenane”.
In the Forman-Workman Heraldic Manuscript of 1566, preserved in the Lyon’s Office in Edinburgh, there is a coat of arms bearing the surname of Mullikine. It is depict as - Argent, three demi-lyons rampant gules, issuing out of two bars wavy Azure two of the uppermost and one out of the undermost. The blazon or description may be given as: the field is painted argent - silver: the charge, three demi-lyons painted gules - red: and two bars wavy Azure - blue. The third laird is the only known Mullikine alias Amuligane in Scotland to have held lands directly from the Scottish crown, and as a crown vassal and landowner, he would have been required by law to possess a coat of arms. The Manuscript was compiled by Sir Robert Forman of Luthrie, Lord Lyon, as a general register of arms and contained many arms registered before 1566. It is very unlikely the Mullikine coat of arms dates any early than 1524 and in my opinion, was registered before the Lord Lyon by John second of Blackmyre. It was the practice of nobles and lairds alike to have their arms engraved in stone over the doorway of their dwelling house. If as suspected, Blackmyre House was built by the third laird, the arms of Mullikine would have been depict above his door way.
The Reformation of Scotland began on 11th May 1559 in the old church of St. John in Perth following John Knox’s famous sermon ‘vehement against idolatry’, owes much to the influence of the lairds and burgesses. It was to these men that the great nobles and lords turned to when Mary of Guise, the Queen Regent, sought to suppress the popular revolt(6)
. From all corners of the Lowlands came an army of nobles and lairds, calling themselves the ‘Faith Congregation of Christ Jesus in Scotland’, to wield the sword of just defence against the crown. The nobles that lead the revolt and championed it’s cause the following year in the Scottish Parliament, included Lord James Stewart, a half-brother of Queen Mary, the Earls of Argyle, Bothwell, Morton, Glencairn, Eglinton and Marr, and the Lords Ochiltree, Boyd, Ruthven and Maitland to name only a few. These were indeed momentous times unparalleled in Scottish history before and after: before it, Scotland was a Catholic state, after it, Protestant and independent of Rome(7)
. The third laird became a Protestant and later the servitor of the most radical Protestant in Scotland, William, Lord Ruthven and Earl of Gowrie.
During the minority of James VI (1567-1625), Scotland was governed by four successive Regents, the Protestant Earls of Moray, Lennox, Marr and Morton, until the young King was able to rule himself in 1578. In that year, the third laird’s kinsman, Cuthbert Amuligane of Dempsterton, was found guilty by the Privy Council of the “filthy” crime of adultery. This was no ordinary case, for it involved the spouse of Roger Kirkpatrick of Closeburn, Elizabeth Hamilton, the daughter of James Hamilton of Stanehouse, Provost of Edinburgh and Director of Chancery(8)
. The affair began about 1576, when the couple were caught in the very act within the Laird of Closeburn’s manor house. Despite being admonished by the Council in 1577, the illicit affair continued and were seen at different times indulging each other’s company in Edinburgh and other parts of Scotland. Three men stood surety for Cuthbert, John Hamilton, parson of Crawfordjohn, and ‘John and Cuthbert Amullikin’, servants of Lord Ruthven(9)
. This noble had been appointed Treasurer for Scotland in 1571 and was later, created Earl of Gowrie by the young King in 1581. A servitor was usually a close confidant or person in a subordinate office, suggesting John and Cuthbert were either employed at the Treasury or were members of the Earl’s household. Who then were John and Cuthbert Amullikin?
The answer to this question partly lies in one unsuspecting clue that points to the third laird being one of the Earl’s servitors. On 19th September 1582, we find him named alongside the Earl of Gowrie in a decree granted to John Maxwell, Earl of Morton, at the sheriff court of Dumfries. By this decree, John Maitland of Auchengassel, Marion McCall of Eshetries, John Maitland her spouse, “John Mulikane” of Blakmyre, William, Earl of Gowrie, the king's treasurer and Mr David M'Gill of Nesbit, the king's advocate, were prohibited from troubling the Earl of Morton’s tenants in the land of Greenholme, which lies in the parish Morton(10)
. John Maitland, laird of Auchengassel, was a near kinsman of William Maitland, Lord of Lethington and Secretary of State to Mary, Queen of Scots, and his younger brother, John Maitland who was appointed Chancellor of Scotland in 1586 by King James. Both Gowrie and Leithington, held two of the highest offices within the realm. Leithington had also been a close confidant to the Queen. To have been a servitor to the king’s treasurer implies by definition, a person of quality and good standing, a position usually held by men of lessor rank than Lord.
On 23rd August 1582, in what later became known as the ‘Raid of Ruthven’, the Earls of Gowrie and Marr and the Master of Glamis, the principal conspirators, abducted the young King James and kept him under house arrest at Ruthven Castle in parish of Methven, the seat of the Earls of Gowrie in Perthshire. For the next two years the young King was held at Ruthven Castle, whilst Gowrie and his co-conspirators held the reins of power. The Earl and his henchmen were all staunch Protestants and are said to have abducted the young King, as they feared his neglect for ‘Christ’s true church’ and his misguided overtures towards Emse Stewart, his Catholic cousin, who had been plotting to restore Catholicism. After his escape, the King pardoned the Earl, but the Scottish Parliament being less lenient, had him executed at Stirling in May 1584. It is significant that in the only two surviving documents that record the name of John Amuligane alias Amullikin between 1582 and 1584, both place this John in the company of Lord Ruthven. The identity of ‘Cuthbert Amullikin’, servitor of Lord Ruthven is less certain. He appears to have either been the father of Cuthbert Amuligane in Dempsterton or one of the third laird’s brothers.
There is some suggestion the laird also held land in Ayrshire, where Robert Amuligane of Heateth in the parish of Mauchline, appointed laird ‘Amuligane of Blackmyre, elder,’ Robert Crawford of Smyddieshaw, John Gemmell notary and Adam Mathie in Orchard, overseers of his wife, Marion McKerrall, and their children, on 28th September 1581. It seems very likely, Robert was the third laird's younger brother. Robert’s last will and testament was registered before the Commissariot of Edinburgh on 22nd March 1585, suggesting his will may have been registered by the laird(11)
. By then, Thomas Mullikin alias Amuligane of Dumfries had become an established merchant-burgess in Edinburgh, and agent for a number of Dumfriesshire merchants, exporting goods to the Low Countries of Europe. In Ayrshire, there is a small wood called Blackmire Wood set on the grounds of the old farm of Drumbae in the parish of Maybole, which in 1518 is known to have been occupied by John Mullikin, and later by Thomas Mullikin alias Amuligane. It seems very likely, that Thomas was related to John Mullikin in Auchmillan in the parish of Mauchline, who acquired part of the lands of Auchmillan sometime before the year 1555, from the monks of Melrose Abbey(12)
It would appear the third laird was also the elder brother of “Janet Mullikin”, sometime spouse of Patrick Hislop in Holm of Dalquhairn, who died 19th August 1583. Her will and that of her husband, Patrick, who died in September 1586, were registered at the Commissariot Court of Edinburgh by their daughter Beatrice Hislop and her spouse, Thomas McMichael elder, burgess of Edinburgh. Amongst the debts owed by Patrick, at the time of his death, there was due to “John Mullikin laird of Blakmyre” the sum of £13. 6s. 8d., for his share of the mails in Holm of Dalquhairn(13)
. The auld third laird married Margaret McMath, daughter of John McMath of Castle Gilmore in the parish of Durrisdeer. By his last will and testament, given up by himself on 29th November 1588, John McMath appointed as his executors, Janet Hunter, his wife, James McMath, his son, and John Crichton of Carco, James Hunter of Ballaggan, “John Mulligane of Blakmyre”, James Hunter in Drumschinnoch and John McMath burgess of Edinburgh, his brother(14)
. He died the following month in December 1588. By his marriage to Margaret, the third laird had six sons and one known daughter, whose names are given below:
- James Mullikin, heir apparent of Blackmyre and discussed below.
- Thomas Mullikin, merchant burgess of Edinburgh. He married Janet Mullikin, daughter of Thomas Mullikin alias Amuligane of Edinburgh in 25th March 1600. The following year, he was admitted burgess and guild brother of Edinburgh on 14th April 1601 by right of his marriage to Janet. She died in the month August 1623; Thomas probably died in the winter of 1633. In the Baptismal register of Edinburgh, without exception, Thomas and Janet's surname is spelt as Mullikin.
- Helen Mullikin baptized 28th December 1600, witnessed by Alexander McMath.
- John (sic. Johnne) Mullikin baptized 25th April 1602, witnessed by Thomas Mullikin and Johnne McCubbine merchants.
- James Mullikin baptized 30th August 1603, witnessed by James Thomson, minister of Edinburgh, and David Guthrie, advocate.
- Helen Mullikin baptized 20th March 1606, witnessed by Thomas Mullikin merchant.
- Janet Mullikin baptized 11th June 1607, witnessed by Rogarson Macpherson? She married James Ramsay, skinner, on 4th November 1629.
- Thomas Mullikin (twin) baptized 10th September 1609, witnessed by Thomas McMichael and Martin McQharge.
- William Mullikin (two) baptized on 10th September 1609, witnessed by William Heron and Robert Smart, merchants.
- Catherine Mullikin baptized on 24th April 1611, witnessed by James Thomson, minister of Edinburgh, and Alan Donald.
- Marion Mullikin baptized 6th May 1613, witnessed by William Heron and Thomas McMichael.
- Alexander Mullikin baptized on 14th April 1614, witnessed by William Heron and James Wright.
- Abraham Mullikin, merchant in Holm of Dalquhairn. He died in July 1602 intestate i.e. without leaving a will. His brothers “James and Robert Amuligane” were appointed executors dative to his testament. Thomas Mullikin younger of Edinburgh acted as cautioner(15). Abraham appears to have died unmarried.
- John Mullikin is mentioned in several documents and is styled “John Mulligan” in Holm of Dalquhairn in 1633.
- Robert Mullikin may be the same “Robert Mulligan in Polthestrie” [Plifferie!] in 1618. He was still alive in 1637, when as “Robert Milligane in Holme of Dalquhaine” he signed a petition against the introduction of the English prayer book.
- Marion Mullikin married George Dunbar of Knockschinnoch in the parish of Cumnock, Ayrshire, in August 1602. She died in November 1614, leaving five young children John, George, Margaret, Bessie and Sara Dunbar.
In what must have been one of the third laird's last duties, "John Muligyn of Blakmyre” along with John Dunbar of Pollnaskie, Duncan MacCaddam, burgess of Ayr and John Sinclair in Glen, witnessed a charter, dated 21st May 1594, granted by James Sinclair of Glen in favour of his daughter Margaret, and her spouse, George Sinclair, son of the deceased John Sinclair of Doleistoun, for his merkland of Glen, the half merkland of Strahanna, one merkland of Todstone with a house in St. John’s of Clauchan, held in superiority by Andrew, Lord Stewart of Ochiltree in Ayrshire(16)
. Given the number of charters etc., witnessed by the laird in his lifetime on behalf of the Sinclairs of Glen, one wonders if his mother had been a Sinclair. The auld laird of Blackmyre, unlike his father and grandfather before him, lived to be an old man and died in the winter of 1594-95 having lived a fairly full life. His sons, like their father, would also become zealous supporters of the Reformation and Presbyterianism. Later, when Charles I (1625-1649), a man who lacked the shrewdness and the political astuteness that characterized his father’s reign, sought to impose Episcopalianism on the Scots, they would fiercely oppose it’s introduction and adopt the principals of the National Covenant of Scotland.
1. Exchequer Rolls (Translation from Latin) Vol. 18, p. 452.
2. Reid, R.C: The Earlstoun Charters, Vol. 64, p. 38. The Sinclairs of Earlstoun are reputed to have descended from the Sinclairs of Hermiston in east Lothian, whilst the earls of Caithness sprang from the principal family granted the land of Roslyn near Edinburgh.
3. Reid, R.C.: Edinburgh Commissariot (ELD), Vol. 161, p. 52.
4. Beveridge, J. & Donaldson, G. (editors): The Register of the Privy Seal of Scotland 1556-1567, Vol. V, p. 507.
5. Drumlanrig MS (HMC), 15th Report, appendix, part VII, p. 75.
6. M’Crie, Rev. Thomas: The Life of John Knox (1976), p.128-130.
7. Smout, T.C.: A History of the Scottish People 1560-1830, p.67.
8. T.D.G.N.H.A.S 1951-52, Vol. XXX, P 100-103. Elizabeth Hamilton was the daughter of James Hamilton of Stanehouse by his first wife Grizzel Sempill, eldest daughter of Robert, third Lord Sempill. This woman was noted for her remarkable infidelity and was mistress to James Hamilton of Archbishop of St. Andrews.
9. Pitcairns, Robert: Ancient Criminal Trials in Scotland, Vol. I, p.78 & 80. See also Hamilton, Lieu-Col. George: The House of Hamilton (A History of), p. 282-283. Although called parson of Crawford in Pitcairn’s book, John Hamilton was in fact parson of Crawfordjohn and owned the land of Gilkerscleuch in the same parish in Lanarkshire.
10. Dumfries Sheriff Court Book 1577-83, TDGNHAS, Vol. XII, p. 202.
11. Commissariot of Edinburgh (NAS), CC8/8/13, RH3-11-149.
12. Exchequer (NAS), E.49/3-4.
13. Commissariot of Edinburgh, Registered April 2, 1603, CC8/837.
14. Adams, P. W. L.: A History of the Douglas (1921, app. B. no. 19.
15. Commissariot of Edinburgh, Registered April 2, 1603, CC8/837.
16. Reid, R.C: The Earlstoun Charters (ELD, Vol. 64, p. 63.
James Amuligane, 4th Laird of Blackmyre
James Amuligane, fourth laird of Blackmyre, was probably born in the 1560s, and for much of his early life, he appears to have lived in the shadow of his father. The fourth laird was married at least twice. The name of his first wife is unknown, but may have been the daughter of James and Janet Gordon of Crogo. Their son, Thomas Gordon of Crogo, and his two sons, James Gordon of Crogo and Adam Gordon in Holm of Dalquhairn, frequently appear as witnesses to a number of charters relating to the Mullikins. In 1607, the laird’s son, James Mullikin apparent of Blackmyre witnessed an instrument of sasine for the 16s. 8d. land in Holm of Dalquhairn granted in favour of Helen Douglas, the lawful daughter of John Douglas of Arkland in the parish of Penpont, by her newly wedded husband, Thomas Gordon of Crogo(1)
. The laird married secondly, Barbara Glendinning, the lawful daughter of William Glendinning of Nether Laggan, which lies in the parish of Parton, in the month of April 1625. At the time of his marriage to Barbara, all his known sons were adults, suggesting this marriage took place late in life. His known sons are:
- James Mullikin succeeded his father as fifth laird of Blackmyre in 1633, see below.
- Thomas Mullikin was granted an annual rent of 80 merks Scots to be uplifted from the 40-shilling land of Nether Barskeoch in the parish of Kells in 1633.
- John Mullikin is described as “John Mulligan son of James Mulligan elder of Blackmyre” in 1625. He was living in Holm of Dalquhairn in 1633.
- William Mullikin living in Barmark in 1625, when he is described as ‘brother-german’ of James fifth laird of Blackmyre.
The fourth laird appears in a number of documents from 1595 onwards. The Exchequer Rolls of Scotland preserve a record of the precept of sasine granted to “James Amuligan” on 10th April 1595, of all and whole of the five merkland of Crogo and two and half merkland of Holm of Dalquhairn of old extent with their mills and fishing rights. It is interesting to note that laird only had to pay £15 relief, the same sum paid by his father in 1548.
Exchequer account of the Steward of Kirkcudbright answerable for £15of payment of relief of all and whole the 5 merkland of Crogo and all and whole the 2 merkland with half part land of Holm of Dalquhairn of old extent with their mills and fishing lying within the parishes of Balmaclellan and Dalry; owed to the king by the sasine granted to James Amuligan. At Edinburgh April 10, 1595, 28th year of the King's reign. (2)
In the last will and testament of Katherine Stewart, spouse to John Douglas of Arkland, who died on 10th March 1595, the names of “Thomas and Abraham Mullikine” appear along with John McCall, Thomas Hunter and John McKittrick her servants(3)
. Thomas and Abraham may have been the laird’s brothers. John Douglas of Arkland was the father of Helen Douglas, spouse of Thomas Gordon of Crogo. The laird was one of a number of men, Arthur Tait, “George Amuligane in Mochrum”, Alexander McDungall, merchant in St. John’s Clauchan, John Gilkerstane, Alexander Gordon in Clauchan and “James Amuligane in Blackmyre” who owed Adam Robson younger of Shaw in the parish of Parton sums of money in 1596(4)
. As “James Mulligan of Blackmyre”, he was one of fifteen jurors who on 23rd January 1607 heard the case against Sir Robert Gordon of Lochinver and Sir William Grierson of Lag cautioners of the disgraced John, Lord Maxwell. They were liable each for the huge debt of £20, 000 owed by Maxwell to James earl of Abercorn, and Sir John Hamilton of Lettrick, knight(5)
The fourth laird appears to have been a near relation of “John Amullikin” in Holm of Daltallochan, then in the parish of Kells and later annexed to form part of Carsphairn in 1645. This John is first mentioned in the last will and testament of George McMillan of Holm of Daltallochan, given up before George McMillan in Holm, John Amullikin in Holm and John Grierson in Longford on 30th September 1588. By his will, George appointed his sons, Fergus and John, his executors, and left his tack and kindness of Holm to Fergus, his eldest son, and gave his wife and John his youngest son, the half merkland of Knockgray(6)
. John is mentioned next in an Instrument of Renunciation, dated 10th November 1614, by Thomas Gordon in Benbreck and Janet McGachan, his spouse, in favour of Sir William Grierson of Lag, for the annual rent of 100 merks worth of the five merkland of Holm of Daltallochan, occupied by Fergus McMillan and “John Milligane” in 1605(7)
. By another Instrument of Renunciation dated 6th November 1631, Janet McGachan relict of Thomas Gordon in Benbreck, and now spouse of Alexander Stewart, Marie Gordon, her daughter, with the consent of her spouse “John Mulligan” and Katherine and Agnes Gordon, her daughters, granted William Gordon of Glenholm the 50 merks annual rent of the lands of Glenholm and ‘Pilyrynleyis’ in the barony of Earlstoun, contained in a sasine dated 27th October 160(8)
. As neither Marie Gordon nor her spouse John Mulligan could sign their own names, “James Mulligan of Blakmyre” witnessed their signature at the pen of the public notary and acted as their cautioner.
It seems very likely, that “Alexander Milligane” in Woodhead farm, which lies next to Holm of Daltallochan, was the brother or son of John Milligane in Holm of Daltallochan. Alexander and Quintin McAdam, son of Gilbert McAdam of Waterhead, witnessed a bond between Gilbert Acannan in Muirdroch and John McMillan of Bridgemark, registered on 24th April 1609 in the books of the Privy Council and Session(9)
. On 28th February 1611, at Edinburgh, the Privy Council heard the complaint of David McAdam of Brownhill, and John and George, his sons, that in December 1603, ‘John Grierson in Longford and “Thomas Milligane” in Woodhead, with others, all armed with certain weapons, fiercely attacked David McAdam and his sons at Darnscaw, and drawing their swords, mutilated the said David on the arm, and gave each of his son a deadly wound to the head’. As none of the accused appeared in person to answer the charge, the Council denounced them. Thomas appears to have been later cleared of any charges, and next we find him, on 13th September, personally acting as cautioner and surety for James Grier who was obliged to present Robert Sloan, servitor of John Grierson of Longford, at the next Court of the Border Commissioners to answer the charge of theft on 17th October(10)
. It is my opinion that Alexander Milligan in Woodhead farm was the ancestor of Alexander Milliken alias Milligan of Meadowhead farm, which lies not far from Woodhead and next to Darnscaw, who was the father of John Milligan Esq. of Westmoreland County in the State of Pennsylvania.
In 1622-23, James Mullikin was cautioner to Fergus Milligan of Dempsterton, who failed to appear before the Court of the Border Commissioners at Jedburgh. The fourth laird is known to have been actively engaged in trade with several merchants, including David Bell, merchant burgess of Dumfries(11)
. As “James Amuligan of Blakmyre” he owed Agnes Lawrie, David Bell’s spouse, the sum of £29 6s. 8d. in 1630. Perhaps further research might cast more light on his business dealings, which appear to have centered mainly on livestock farming. By the time of his death in the winter of 1632-33, he was laird of a number of properties, covering the 30-shilling land of Blackmyre in the parish of Penpont, the five merkland of Crogo (also called Craigok) in the parish of Balmaclellan, which comprised the four merkland of Barmark and Drumwhirn and half merkland of Littlecrelath, the two and half merkland of Holm of Dalquhairn (Upper Holm) in the parish of Dalry, and the annual rents of the 40-shilling land of Nether Barskoch in the parish of Kells and 50 merks of the 20-shilling land of Nether Laggan in the parish of Parton.
1. Cunningham’s Protocol Book 1581-1611 (ELD, R. C. Reid, p. 35.
2. Exchequer Rolls of Scotland (in Latin), Responde Books, Vol. 23.
3. Adams, P. W. L.: A History of the Douglas (1921, app. B. no. 29.
4. Commissariot of Edinburgh (ELD), R. C. Reid, Vol. 162, p. 43.
5. The Register of the Great Seal of Scotland 1609-1620, Vol. VII, p. 121.
6. Commissariot of Edinburgh (ELD), R. C. Reid, Vol. 160, p. 166.
7. Lag Charters 1400-1720 (SRS), no. 190.
8. General Register of Sasines, November 1, 1631, RS1/32/142-144.
9. The Register of Privy Council of Scotland 1607-1610, Vol. VIII, p. 696.
10. Ditto, 1610-1613, Vol. IX, p. 141 & 250.
11.Adams, P. W. L. A History of the Douglas (1921), p. 740, no. 47.
James Amuligane, 5th Laird of Blackmyre
The fifth laird, styled “James Muligane apparent of Blakmyre” is first mentioned in an Instrument of Sasine, dated 13th October 1607, granted in favour of Helen Douglas lawful daughter of John Douglas of Arkland in the parish of Penpont by her newly wedded husband, Thomas Gordon of Crogo, son and heir apparent of James Gordon of Crogo(1)
. James married Isabel McGachan, probably the daughter of James McGachan of Dalwhat in May 1618, and with the consent of his father, “James Mulligan elder of Blakmyre” granted Isabel an annual liferent to be uplifted from the 16-shilling land of Holm of Dalquhairn, occupied by Thomas Gordon of Crogo(2)
. On 27th April 1625, at Barmark, James granted a sasine in favour of his father, “James Mulligan elder of Blakmyre” and his wife Barbara Glendinning of the annual rent of 40 merks from the one merkland of “Oralochis”, probably Littlecrelath, lying in the parish of Balmaclellan. In the Dumfries Register of Sasines, which dates from about the beginning of the 1600s onwards and covers Kirkcudbrighshire and Dumfriesshire, there is a collection of sasines registered by James, detailing the steps taken to secure his father’s estate after his death in the winter of 1632-33.
May 14, 1633: Service of heir in favour of James Millighame of Blackmyre, heir of James Millighame of Blackmyre, father, in the five merk land of Craigok [Crogo] and two and half merk land of Holm of Dalqhairn old extent in the parishes of Balmaclellan and Dalry respective. Kirkcudbright xiii 92.
[Index to Service of Heir (NAS), No 200]
June 7, 1633: Instrument of sasine following on a precept of Clare Constat dated May 30, from the King’s Chancery, after an inquest and retour, which stated that it was known (compertum est.) that James Mulligan now of Blakmyre was the heir of his father James Mulligan of Blakmyre of the five merkland of Craigok [Crogo] and two and a half merkland of Holm of Dalquhairn lying in the parishes of Balmaclellan and Dalry respectively, which he holds of the King as chief. These lands have been in the King’s hands for one term or thereabouts without sasine being taken up. Witnessed by James Gordon of Crogo, Matthew Greir in Barmark, James Greir his son, George Logan in Stroanpatrick, James Ramsay in Bryend Oha? John Mulligan in Holm, Robert Mulligan there and Thomas Mulligan brother of James.
[Dumfries Register of Sasines (NAS), June 8, 1633, RS22/3/234]
June 26, 1633: Instrument of sasine granted by James Mulligan of Blakmyre following an agreement dated June 12, 1633 between himself on the one hand and Edward Gordon elder in Stranfasket [in the parish of Kells] and Edward his son and apparent heir on the other, to give infeftment heritable state and sasine to Edward Gordon elder in Stranfasket in life rent and to Edward his son in fee in the lands of the four merkland of Barmark and Drumwhirn and the half merkland of Littlecrelath in the parish of Balmaclellan. Witnessed by John Hanying in Drumwhirn, Matthew Grier in Barmark, James Grier his lawful son, John Grier his servant and John Chapman servant to the said James Mulligan of Blakmyre.
[Dumfries Register of Sasines (NAS), July 1, 1633, RS22/3/238v]
July 9, 1633: Instrument of sasine taken on a precept of Clare Constat drawn up at Over Knockgray on April 25, 1633, by Sir Robert Grierson of Lag, superior of Blakmyre, in favour of James Mulligan of Blakmyre younger, son and heir of the deceased James Mulligan of Blakmyre for in all and whole the lands of Blakmyre extending to the thirty shilling land of old extent, in the parish of Penpont and sheriffdom of Dumfries. The precept of Clare Constat was witnessed by John McMillan of Brochloch, John Grierson and Robert Neilson servants to the said Sir Robert Grierson. The sasine was witnessed by Thomas Matheson in Tererran, James McCall in Penpont, Robert Smith in Ladywell and David Hunter in Blakmyre.
[Dumfries Register of Sasines (NAS), July 10, 1633, RS22/3/240v]
July 11, 1633: Instrument of sasine granted by James Mulligan of Blakmyre in favour of Janet Ross his spouse of an annual rent to be uplifted from the two and a half merkland of Holm of Dalquhairn in the parish of Dalry and Stewartry of Kirkcudbright and witnessed by James Mulligan younger of Blakmyre, John Gordon of Barskeoch, John Sinclair in Knockgray, Adam Gordon in Holm and George McAdam in Holm.
[Dumfries Register of Sasines (NAS), July 12, 1633, RS22/3/241]
November .27, 1633: Instrument of sasine taken on a precept of Clare Constat dated July 17, 1633, directing George Mulligan in Clauchan baillie of James Mulligan of Blakmyre, superior, of an annual rent of 80 merks to be uplifted from the 40 shilling land of Nether Barskeoch in the parish of Kells, in favour of Thomas Mulligan, lawful son of the deceased James Mulligan of Blakmyre and brother german of James Milligan of Blakmyre. Witnesses included “my son” James Mulligan junior of Blakmyre and John Mulligan in Holm “my” brother german.
[Dumfries Register of Sasines (NAS), Dec. 1, 1633, RS22/3/272v]
These documents detail the various legal transactions made by James, who in the first instance had to establish his hereditary right as heir lawful to his father, James Mullikin, at an inquest held before a jury sometime prior to 14th May 1633. They found ‘that it was known (compertum est.) that James Mullikin now of Blakmyre was the heir of his father James Mullikin of Blakmyre of the five merkland of Craigok [Crogo] and two and a half merkland of Holm of Dalquhairn lying in the parishes of Balmaclellan and Dalry respectively, which he holds of the King as chief’. Thus, the jury having found that James was his father’s legal heir, their decision was retoured (returned) to the King's Chancery and his name formally registered in the Service of Heirs on 14th May. We are also told that the lands had been in the King’s hands for one term or thereabouts without sasine being taken up. In other words, James Mullikin the elder, had died about one term prior to the precept of Clare Constat being issued, that is, the date at which rent or interest is payable, such as Whitsunday (May 28) and Martinmas (November 28). A precept of Clare Constat from the King’s Chancery was subsequently granted at Edinburgh on 30th May, allowing James to take sasine of his father’s lands, which he did formally on 7th June 1633.
By an Agreement dated 12th June 1633, we also learn that James Mullikin granted a hereditary sasine of the liferents for the lands of Crogo, comprising the four merkland of Barmark and Drumwhirn and half merkland of Littlecrelath, which effectively disposed of these lands to Edward Gordon in Stranfasket in the parish of Kells and his son Edward Gordon, heir apparent. The property was never recovered. These documents also give the names of some of his tenants and servants, such as, Adam Gordon in Holm of Dalquhairn, brother of James Gordon of Crogo, George McAdam in Holm of Dalquhairn, Thomas Hunter in Blackmyre, Matthew Grier in Barmark, John Hanying in Drumwhirn and John Chapman, servant to the laird. We also learn that the laird’s first wife, Isabel McGachan died sometime prior to 1633, and that he married secondly, Janet Ross, whose background is unknown. Only the names of two of James’s children have been recovered to date, though, I am almost certain, he had others:
- James Mullikin heir apparent of Blackmyre predeceased his father at an unknown date prior to November 1656. He married Margaret Douglas and had children.
- John Mullikin along with John Douglas of Stanehouse purchased the land of Blackmyre and Holm of Dalquhairn in 1661. He settled at Farnane in the parish of Urney and barony of Loughtee in County Cavan, Ireland, and was servitor to James Maxwell a magistrate of County Cavan.
- Thomas Millikin merchant burgess of Ayr may have been another son by the laird’s second marriage to Janet Ross. This is not conclusive. He purchased from John’s hereditary right to the lands of Blackmyre and Holm of Dalquhairn in 1673.
In 1637, the Presbytery of Kirkcudbright submitted a petition to the Lords of Council against the introduction of the English Book of Common Prayer into the Church of Scotland. The names of six Mullikins from the parishes of Dalry and Kells are listed. “Robert Milligane” in Bridgemark appears to have signed the petition probably at St. John’s Clauchan of Dalry, along with “Roger Milligane” [in John’s Clauchan?], who signed at the hand of Robert McMichael, notary public, because he couldn’t write. Next we find, “Robert Milligane” in Holme of Dalquhairn, George McAdam in Holm of Dalquhairn together with “John Milligane” in Cairninnows, and further down the page, “James and Roger Milligane” in Arndarroch, all signing the petition at the hand of John McAdam, notary public, possibly at Carsphain, where a small church had been erected about the year 1636 (3)
. Robert Mullikin and George McAdam in Holm of Dalquhairn are both named in two of the above documents, the rest are unknown. As there is no mention of John Mullikin in Holm of Dalquhairn, there is a distinct possibility John Mullikin in Cairninnows is the same man. He is grouped alongside Robert Mullikin and George McAdam, suggested he might have acquired a leasehold of land in Cairninnows by 1637. Of course, there is one notably absence from this list, namely, James Mullikin of Blackmyre!
In the Ancient Valuation Roll of the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright, compiled in 1642, the Commissioner responsible for land valuation had little difficulty listing the names of all the heritors and landowners for the district of Carsphairn, that is, except the laird of Blackmyre. Thus, we find the following entry given: “The Heirs of [blank] Milligan has pertaining them the lands of Over Holm of Dalquhairne, and pays to him two hundred and three-score pounds”. However, in the supplication presented to the Estates of Parliament by the heritors of the four score merklands within the parishes of Kells and Dalry in 1645, we find the names of both “James Mullakane of Blakmyre” and James Gordon of Crogo listed as heritors equally between them of the five merkland of Dalquhairn. The supplication requested that a parish be erected to serve the parishioners within the four score merkland, which the Estates by an act of Parliament erected and called the Kirk and parish of Carsphairn. Next, at the burgh court of Kirkcudbright on 28th January, 1646, we find “Marioun McMichen present be the aith of Jeane Gordoune to mak payment to the said Jeane and David Murry her spous of the soune of xxxs quhilk was award to James Mulligane of Blakmyre and was arreistit in the handis of the said Marious because she had ane sword pertaining to the said Blakmyre quhilk was arreistit and quhilk arreistment to the said Marious brak”(4)
In 1644, an army of 20, 000 Scottish Covenanters lead by Alexander Leslie, earl of Leven, crossed into England to support the parliamentarians in their campaign against Charles I, who suffered a huge defeat at the battle of Marston Moor. Meantime, Charles sent the royalist Earl of Montrose into Scotland, where in September 1645 he defeated the Covenanters at Tippermuir. Having gained a decisive victory, Montrose confidently advanced south into the Lowlands, where resistance from the Covenanters appeared initially apathetic. However, in Kirkcudbrightshire, a Covenanting stronghold, steps were already under way to raise a regiment under the command of Robert Gordon, fourth Viscount of Kenmure. In September 1645, this regiment joined the main Scottish army then on its return home. In that same month, the Scottish army encountered remnants of Montrose’s army at Philiphaugh near Selkirk, where they inflicted a terrible slaughter on the royalist soldiers, with Montrose only escaping narrowly with his own life. By the end of the year, Viscount Kenmure’s regiment was back in Kirkcudbrightshire. One can only surmise that the aged James Mullikin was amongst the Viscount’s ranking officers and soldiers, who for a time stayed at the town of Kirkcudbright. Ten years later, the fifth laird died in November 1656, when Scotland was still under Crowellian occupation.
1. Cunningham’s Protocol Book 1581-1611 (ELD, R. C. Reid, p. 35.
2. Dumfries Register of Sasines (NAS), July 11, 1621, RS22/1/110.
3. Register of the Privy Council (NAS), Vol. 6, 2nd series, p. 709-715.
4. Kirkcudbright Town Council Records 1606-1658 (ELD), p. 766.
James Mullikin, heir apparent of Blackmyre
At the age of about 14 years, James Mullikin, heir apparent of Blackmyre, was contracted with James Ramsay, skinner in the royal burgh of Edinburgh to serve a seven year apprenticeship as a skinner, a person who skinned animals such as cattle, sheep and pigs, and was a dealer in the sale of hide. Interestingly, James Ramsay was the spouse of Janet Mullikin, daughter of Thomas Mullikin merchant burgess of Edinburgh, who came from the burgh of Dumfries. James’s father “James Mulliken, elder of Blackmyre" subsequently registered his son’s apprenticeship with the burgh and his name was entered into the Edinburgh Register of Apprentices on 9th February, 1631(1)
. Five years later, he was contracted to Margaret Douglas, daughter of John Douglas, elder of Stanehouse in the parish of Tynron. By a precept of sasine, dated 6th May 1636, we find “James Mulligan”, elder of Blackmyre granting his eldest son and heir apparent, James Mulligan, and his son's future wife, Margaret Douglas, a conjoint infeftment of the thirty-shilling land of Blackmyre. By the 27th November 1636, we find Margaret Douglas styled “wife of” James Mulligan heir apparent of Blackmyre(2)
James Mulligan had at least one known brother called John, who with John Douglas, younger of Stanhouse, purchased in 1661 the lands of Blackmyre and Holm of Dalquhairn from James’s only known son, James, the last laird of Blackmyre. As heir apparent, James predeceased his own father sometime before 1656, leaving behind his wife, Barbara, and his son, James, probably still only in his teenage years. It is not known where he died let alone how, but given the fact that Scotland had been in a state of civil war for much of the 1640-50s and had regiments fighting in Ireland and England, as well as in Scotland, I would not be surprising if he was killed in fighting either in Scotland or England. For example, regiments from the south-west of Scotland were present at the battle of Dunbar fought on 3rd September, 1650, and at the battle of Worcester on 3rd September, 1651. Three regiments under the commanded for Major-General Robert Montgomery are known to have been present at the battle of Worcester and each regiment was called Kirkcudbright, Galloway and Dumfries(3)
. At both battles, the Scots were defeated with thousands either killed or imprisoned afterwards, and later transported as convicted labourers to English colonies in New England, Virginia and the Caribbean.
1. Edinburgh Register of Apprentices 1583-1755 (SRS).
2. Dumfries Register of Sasines (NAS), Nov. 1, 1636, RS22/4/164v.
3. Maxwell, Sir Herbert: The History of Dumfries and Galloway (Edinburgh, 1900), 2nd Edition, p. 256.
James Mullikin, 6th Laird of Blackmyre
For over 150 years the chief line of Amuligane traced from Fergus Amuligane, the first known laird of Blackmyre, had passed down through six generations, ending with James Millikin otherwise Milligan, who died sometime before May 1673, still in the prime of his life. It is not known exactly when or where he died, nor what became of his spouse, the daughter of John Dalziel. On 1st August, 1661, James had a disposition (title deed) drawn up by which he disponed (that is, conveyed his legal rights) to his uncles, John Millikin (spelt Milligan) of Blackmyre and John Douglas of Stanehouse of all and whole of the lands of Blackmyre and Holm of Dalquhairn. No copies of the original letters of disposition have survived, except for a fleeting reference in a crown charter grant in favour of John Douglas of Stanehouse in 1663.
It is evident the lands conveyed in the 1661 letters of disposition had been used as collateral against at least two substantial loans that James Milligan was never able to repay. Copies of three bonds of obligation survive, two bonds of 300 Scottish merks granted by his father-in-law, John Dalziel, on 21st December, 1658, and one for 4000 Scottish merks by John Douglas of Stanehouse on 6th January, 1659, the former being registered in the books of the Court of Session in Edinburgh on 17th December, 1661, and later on 6th September, 1661. Taken together, it is clear that James had fallen on hard times and lacked the kind of financial capital necessary to pay the huge feudal fees, rents and legal costs required by the Crown before an heir could obtain legal possession of father's heritage.
From the few documents that survive it can be shown that James Milligan was living at Blackmyre between December 1658 and December 1661, and list several documents below as proof that he was living in Scotland during this period:
December 21, 1658: Two Bonds of Obligation between James Milligan in Blackmyre and John Dalzeil in Glenmuckloch, signed and sealed by James Mulligan in the presence of witnesses, John Brown and John Fleming, at Sanquhar(1)
January 6, 1659: Bond of Obligation between James Milligan of Blackmyre and John Douglas of Stanehouse, signed and sealed in the presence of witnesses, Robert Smyth and Steven Gillespie, at Tynron (2)
June 5, 1660: Tack given by James Milligan of Blackmyre and John Douglas of Stanehouse to John Lorimer of the 30 shilling land of Blackmyre, for the yearly rent of £70(3)
May 13, 1661: Instrument of sasine by William Wilson of Croglin, this documents gives the name of several witnesses and includes James Mulligane of Blackmyre(4)
August 1, 1661: Letter of disposition by James Milligane of Blackmyre to John Milligane of Blackmyre and John Douglas, junior of Stanehouse infefting the lands of Blackmyre in the parish of Penpont, Nithsdale(5)
Two document written in 1661, show he was living in Blackmyre: the instrument of sasine dated 13th May, 1661, calls him “James Mulligane of Blackmyre” a title repeated in the letters of disposition on 1st August, 1661. The finality of the 1661 letters of disposition makes it clear that James had sold the lands of Blackmyre and Holm of Dalquhairn to his uncles, John Milligane of Blackmyre and John Douglas, junior of Stanehouse. He appears to have still been living in Blackmyre in February 1663, when he obtained from the Laird of Lag, superior of the lands of Blackmyre, as precept of composition, a payment made by an heir succeeding to land to the superior. After 1663, we lose complete sight of him and his family, begging the question, where did they go?
It has been suggested by some in America, James Millikin moved to the State of Maryland in America in the 1650s and is the same man called James Mullikin, planter of Patuxent in Anne Arundel County. Research carried out by Harvey Mullikin through the State Archives of Maryland has demonstrated that James Mullikin, planter of Patuxent, and James Millikin sixth laird of Blackmyre are two different men. In 1659, both were married to different women; the last laird was married to the daughter of John Dalziel in Glenmuckloch in the parish of Kirkconnel in Upper Nithsdale, and James Mullikin of Maryland was married to Mary Weylett alias Demerall in or about October 1659.
The sixth laird of Blackmyre was aged about 25 years in 1659 and already a young man deeply in debt, when he sought to recover his grandfather’s small estate in Scotland. His mother Margaret Douglas was probably still alive, but despite years of research, I have never found any trace of her or James’s wife. Neither, can be traced in the parish lists of Dumfriesshire, Kirkcudbrightshire and Ayrshire in 1684 nor the Hearth Tax Rolls of Dumfriesshire and Ayrshire in 1691. There is also no mention of the family of John Dalzeil in Glenmochloch in 1691. Notwithstanding this, there is a strong possibility, the laird was still living in the vicinity of Penpont with or near his uncle John Millikin, who appears to be the same “John Mulligan” in Boatford in the parish of Penpont. With John Bannoch, indweller in Penpont, John Carson servant of Thomas Fergusson and James Gracie indweller in Blackmyre, he witnessed the infeftment of the land of Blackmyre granted by John Douglas senior of Stanehouse in favour to his son John Douglas younger of Stanehouse on 31st August, 1672(6)
1. Register of Deeds (National Archives of Scotland, Vol. 3, p. 355 & 356
2. Register of Deeds (National Archives of Scotland, Vol. 3, p. 228.
3. Dumfries Burgh Deeds (Dumfries Archives Centre), July 23, 1661.
4. Miscellaneous MSS (Ewart Library Dumfries), Vol. 17, p.108.
5. Registry of the Great Seal of Scotland 1660-1668, Vol. 11, no. 499.
6. Dumfries Register of Sasines (NRS), May 1, 1672, RS23/1/130-131.
The Last of the Laird of Blackmyre
Sometime prior to May 1673, John Millikin of Blackmyre left the district of Mid Nithsdale and entered the service of Master James Maxwell in Co. Cavan, Ireland. John appears to have lived at Farnham and is described as Maxwell’s servitor, a term that can mean agent, secretary or male servant. The manor of Farnham in Co. Cavan had been acquired by Bishop Robert Maxwell of Kilmore and Armagh before his death in 1672, and was inherited by his son John Maxwell (died in 1713), who is not known to have had a son called James. Bishop Maxwell had a second son, James Maxwell, who after the restoration of Charles II in 1660, built a new house at Fellows-Hall near the City of Armagh. He married his cousin, Jane Maxwell, daughter of Henry Maxwell of Finnebrogue in Co. Down, the Bishop’s brother. The Bishop also had another brother, Lieutenant James Maxwell, who with his wife, Jane Norris, were murdered at the Bishop’s house (College-Hall in County Armagh) at the outbreak of the 1641 Irish Rebellion(1)
. They had two sons, Henry and James Maxwell, who seem to have escaped with their uncle Robert in 1641 and may well have been brought up him.
Henry Maxwell later inherited his father’s estate of Mullaghtatinny (now Elm Park) in Co. Armagh. He married his cousin, Margaret, daughter of Bishop Robert and they had an only son called James, who is likely to have been Master James Maxwell and lived for a time at Farnham. James pre-deceased his father, Henry, who died in 1691 leaving Mullaghtatinny in trust to his widow, Margaret and his two daughters, Margaret, wife of Sir Robert Maxwell of Orchardston in Kirkcudbrightshire, and Phoebe, wife of James Gallespie(2)
. Sir Robert Maxwell may well have been the influence that brought John Millikin to Ireland through James Millikin, customs officer of Donaghadee, Co. Down. He wrote a letter to William McClelland of Killyleagh on 4th November, 1672, to say he had received from George Maxwell, servant of Sir Robert Maxwell, the sum of £4, 10 shillings and 6 pence, which had been due to Mary Livingston(3)
. It is this link, which must be set against another context in which we find a grant on 8th December, 1675, by Hugh, earl of Mount Alexander, to John Millikin of Donaghadee, for the half tenement in Donaghadee(4)
. Could this man have been the last laird of Blackmyre?
Almost two years earlier, James Blair, writer in Ayr, acting as an agent for Thomas Millikin, merchant burgess of Ayr, crossed over from Scotland and made the journey in-land to Farnham, where he drew up a disposition on 24th May, 1673(5)
. It was effectively an agreement of sale by which John Millikin sold all his rights to the lands of Blackmyre and Holm of Dalquhairn to his kinsman, Thomas Millikin merchant burgess in Ayr. This would bring the Millikins directly into confrontation with one of the most powerful noblemen in Scotland, William Douglas, the earl of Queensberry, later created the Duke of Queensberry in 1684. On 5th December, 1673, John Douglas senior of Stanehouse sold the lands of Blackmyre to the Earl for the sum of 800 merks Scots. After the death of his father, John Douglas younger of Stanehouse was obliged by the Earl to give certain commitments, the terms of which were set out in a ‘backbond’ written on 4th June, 1675(6)
. By this backbond Douglas obliged himself "should it happen that Thomas Milligane, merchant in Ayr, should evict the Earl from the said lands by legal means, then John Douglas will refund the said money to Queensberry".
In Scottish law a Backbond is a deed used to qualify the terms of another deed or declaratory of the purposes for which another deed had been granted. Clearly, the Earl had received word Thomas Millikin of Ayr was about to begin legal proceedings against him and he took steps to ensure that if he lost, John Douglas of Stanehouse would repay in full the 800 merks loaned him. However, before proceeding, as a vassal John Millikin was obliged to legally prove to the subject superior of the lands of Blackmyre and Holm of Dalquhairn, respectively, the Laird of Lag and the king, he had a right to inherit as the lawful heir, a process which he secured at Chancery on 12th July, 1676, when it was found he was the lawful heir of his deceased father James Millikin, his deceased brother James Millikin and his brother’s son, the late James Millikin, all of whom had died in the king’s peace(7)
. In another deed written the following year on 27th July, 1677, it is recorded Robert Grierson, laird of Lag, surrendered to the Earl all his rights as superior to the lands of Blackmyre, a step that suggests the Earl himself wanted full possession of Blackmyre probably to prevent Thomas Millikin obtaining it. If this was his intention, it worked and the lands of Blackmyre were lost to the family forever.
The little port of Donaghedee, owned by the Earls of Mount Alexander near Comber in Co. Down, seems to have been an important commercial port for the Millikins with Scotland. Robert Millikin of Ballyholme between Donaghadee and Bangor was actively engaged in trade with Portpatrick, also owned by the Montgomery family, and rented a property in Donaghadee. One of Robert’s daughters married John Ringland of Killyleagh, who is mentioned in the last will and testament of Andrew Maxwell yeoman of Drumaness near Ballynahinch in Co. Down. His will is dated on 22nd April, 1720, and names John Ringland, his father-in-law, and John Ringland, his brother-in-law, spouse of Robert Millikin’s daughter possibly called Mary. This marriage strongly indicates yet another link between the Maxwell family and the Millikins of Donaghadee.
Diocese of Dromore Wills - Abstract of the original will of Andrew Maxwell, of Drumaness, County Down, yeoman, 22nd April, 1720.
He leaves all his estate to his wife and children, who are not named. Father-in-law. John Ringland, Sr., and brothers-in-law, John Ringland and William Ringland. Executors. Test: Wm. Taylor, Robert Corry and Hamilton Parkinson.
Probate 9th December, 1720, to the executors(8)
There is no evidence to suggest John remained in Farnham in Co. Cavan, but may after the sale of the lands of Blackmyre and Holm of Dalquhairn, purchased a half tenement in Donaghadee near to his kinsmen. This would have given him good access to Scotland and it seems likely he made several trips to Thomas Millikin of Ayr, and from there probably journeyed to Dumfries and Edinburgh to try and secure his hereditary rights the aforesaid lands. If so, he was still living in Donaghadee on 23rd September, 1699, when this John paid a certain sum of money to Francis Allen, land agent for the earl of Mount Alexander, for renewing his leasehold in Donaghadee . It is not known if this John Millikin had children, but it seems almost incomprehensible that he did not know Robert Millikin of Ballyholme, and James Millikin, later customs officer of Irvine in Ayrshire and the burgh of Dumfries in Dumfriesshire. There are a number of Milliken, Milligan and Mulligan families living in Co. Down, who could have been the successors to this John, but no direct link can be made at this time to him.
1. Barden, Sean: Elm Park 1626-1954: Country House to Preparatory School (Belfast, 2004), p. 4-6.
2. Maxwell History and Genealogy (Indiana, 191, p. 537.
3. Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, T640/118.
4. Ditto, D4389/E/1/21.
5. Ayr Burgh Register of Deeds (Carnegie Library, Ayr), B6/7/5 & see Warrants.
6. Queensberry Archives at Drumlanrig Castle, bundle 179.
7. Retour of Services (National Record Office of Scotland), C22/33/7, no. 5919, 5920 & 5921.
8. Queensberry Archives at Drumlanrig Castle, bundle 179.
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Created June, 1999. Last updated 8 March, 2015