The Parish of MORTLICH.

By Lachlan Shaw | Elgin, 1775

This parish, in ancient writings is called Morthlach, probably from Mor-lag, i.e. a Great Hollow, for it is a deep hollow, surrounded with hills. Before I enter this Parish, I shall a little describe the two rivulets that water it: Fiddich, q. Fiodhidh, i.e. Woody, because its sides are coveredwith wood, hath its rise in the hills south of Mortlich towards Strathdon, and running N.E. about 3 miles, turneth almost due West for a mile, an then, after a course of 3 miles due North, it falleth into Spey. The other rivulets Dulenan, (properly Tuilan, from Tuil, a flood, because of its impetuous current) takes it rise in the hills of Glenlivat, and running N.E. parallell to Fiddich (but separated from it by a ridge of hills) 3 miles, it mixes with it 3 miles above Spey.

The parish is in length from N. to S. 4 miles, and as much in breadth from E. to W. besides some skirts that lye near to BotrifnieGlas and Cabrach. It is all environed with hills, except a small opening to the North. The church standeth on Dulenan, a little above the confluence with Fiddich, 2 miles S. S. E. of Aberlaure, and about 3 miles S. of Boharm. The parish (all in the shire of Banff) consists of the Barony of Kininvie, the Lordship of Balvenie, and the Barony of Auchindune. The house of Kininvie stands upon the rivulet Fiddich on the East side, environed with natural wood. A branch of the family of Lolly of Balquhan has enjoyed this Barony about 250 years, and of this Branch the Earl of Leven is descended. Next up Fiddich-side and the Weft-side of Dullen, are the lands of Balvenie, which comprehend Bochram, Little Tullich, Parkbeg, Clunie-more, Clunie-beg, Pilvaich, Littoch, &c. Of the Commissioners sent to London, 19 August 1423, to relieve King James I. was James Douglas of Balvenie (Rym. Fœd. vol. x. p.298.) and 1446 John son of James Earl of Douglas was created Lord Balvenie, who, being forfeited 1455, for joining in his brother’s rebellion, King James Il. granted Balvenie to his uterine brother John Stuart Earl of Athole. That family sold it to Aberneathie Lord Salton, who, about 1606, disponed it to Lord Ochiltree. From him it came to Sir Robert Innes of Invermarkie, and from Sir Robert’s heirs to Sutherland of Kinminity. About anno 1666, Alexander Lord Salton reduced his father’s disposition to Lord Ochiltree, and conveyed the lands in 1670 to Arthur Forbes brother to Blackton, from whom Alexander Duff of Braco adjudged them, and got possession about 1687, and they are now the property of the Earl of Fife. Upon an eminence on the West-bank of Fiddich, stood the castle of Balvenie, the ancient seat of the Lordship, commanding a pleasant view of the valley; and half a mile below it, in a moist, low, and unwholesome soil, there is built a fine house of modern architecture, one of the seats of the Earl of Fife, adorned with gardens and planting.

In the south of the parish, betwixt the rivulets of Fiddich and Dulen, is the Barony of Achindune. This was formerly a part of the Lordship of Deskford, and Achindune and forrest of Fiddich were a part of the Barony of Ogilvie, erected in 1527 (Pen. Findl.). Afterwards it was purchased by, and is now the property of the Family of Gordon. The castle stood on a mount above the water of Fiddich; and from it Glenfiddich stretches S. W. about three miles among the hills; where is fine pasture ground and a forrest of red deer. Upon the head of Dulen lieth Glenrinness, a fertile valley, 2 miles long. The south-side of it is a part of the Barony of Achindune, and the north-side a part of the Lordship of Balvenie. Along the north-side runneth Benrinnes, a high hill, and a land mark for sailors in sailing into the Moray Frith. Before I proceed to the next parish, I shall give some account of


The Family of M Durr Earl of Fife, (defended, in my opinion, of King Duffus, who was murdered in Forres about anno 965) was ancient and eminent, and flourished untill the year 1385. The sirnames of WeemM’IntoshTosheachShawSpensFifeDuff, &c. are branches of that great Family. I have before me a genealogical manuscript account lately written, deducing the Lord Braco from the family of Fife. It consists of three successive branches.

I. The Earls of Athole of the name de Strathbolgie, descended of the Earls of FIFE, thus : (r) David, son of Duncan, the 6th Earl. In a donation to the See of Moray, by Malcolm the 7th Earl, “ David filius quondum Duncani Comitis de Fife, frater meus, anno 1226, is witness. Collatio Malcolmi Com. de Fyfe, Episc. Morav. Test. Duncano et Davide fratribus meis. Conventio inter Andream Episc. Morav. et nobilem virum Davidem de Strathbolgie filium quondam Duncani Comitis de Fyfe, anno 1232.” (Cart. Moray) He was father of (2) John de Strathbolgie, who became Earl of Athole in right of his wife Ada, co-heiress of Henry Earl of Athole, and was father of (3) David, who married Label co-heiress of Lord Chilam, and died 1284. His son (4) John, executed at London 1308. His on (5) David, killed at Kilblain anno 1335, by his wife Joan, daughter of John the Red Cuming Lord Badenoch, had several sons, whereof the eldest (6) David, was forfeited for abetting the English interest, and died in England anno 1375, without male issue. This deduction of the Earls of Athole is instructed from the Chartulary of Moray, and Sir Wm Dugdale.

II. Branch, deduces the Duffs of Muldavid and Craighead thus: (r.) John, second son of David the 5th Earl of Athole, quitted the name of de Strathbolgie and assumed that of Duff, and had the lands of Muldavid and Craighead, &c. His son was (2.) David, &c. The line was carried down by eleven generations, to John Duff writer in Aberdeen, who died in Holland anno 1717, without issue; and in him the direct line of Craighead became extinct. I confess all the descents are well instructed, except the first. But one will desiderate, How doth it appear, that John, called the first of Craighead, was the 2d son of David 5th Farl of Athole? Or was at all his son? That ever he bore the name of Strathbolgie? That he assumed the name Duff? And for what reasons he did so? For all, or any of those, there is no voucher. Be it as it may, I pass on to

III. Branch, The family of Clunybeg and Braco. The direct line of Craighead becoming extinct in John Duff anno 1717, his grandfather John, (who died about 1660) was twice married. By his first wife Isabel Allan, he had John father of the foresaid John the writer. And by his second wife, daughter of John Gordon of Carnborraw, he had (1.) Adam Duff of Clunybeg, who, by his wife daughter of Gordon of Birkenburn, had Alexander of Keithmore, William ancestor of Drummuir and Crombie, John ancestor of Corfindie, Peter and Adam. Clunybeg died anno 1677. (2.) Alexander of Keithmore married Helen daughter of Alexander Grant of Ellachie, and had Alexander of Braco, William of Dipple, and Patrick of Craigston. (3.) Alexander of Braco married Margaret, daughter of Sir William Gordon of Lesmore Bart. and had (4) William, who, leaving no male issue, was succeeded by his uncle (5.) William of Dipple, heir male and of entail, who, by his wife daughter of Sir George Gordon of Edinglassie, has left a son (6.) William. This gentleman married Jean, eldest daughter of Sir James Grant of Grant, and hath a numerous issue. In 1735, he was created Baron Braco of Kilbryde in the County of Cavon in Ireland; and, by patent to him and his heirs male, dated 10th April 1759, he was created Viscount Mac Duff and Earl Fife of that kingdom.

William, second son of Clunybeg, was Father of Alexander, who married Katharine Duff eldest daughter and heiress of Adam Duff of Drummuir, and by her had Robert of Drummuir, John of Coulbin, and William of Muirton. Robert was father of Archibald, now of Drummuir. William had a second son, James father of William Duff of Crombie advocate. Of Clunybeg’s 3d son, John, is descended Duff of Corsindae. And of Keithmore’s son, Patrick of Craigston, are descended Hatton, Remnay, Craigston, &c.

The Armorial bearing of Duff Earl Fife, of the Kingdom of IRELAND, is quarterly, I. and 4. Or, a Lyon rampant Gules, armed and langued Azure, for Fife; 2, and 3. Vert, a Fess danzette Ermine, betwixt a Hart’s head caboffed in Chief, and two Escallops in Base, Or, for Duff of Braco. Crest, a demy Lyon Gules, holding in his dexter paw a broad sword erected in pale proper, hilted and pomelled. Or, Motto above the Crest, DEUS JUVAVIT. And below the Shield, VIRTUTE ET OPERA. Supporters, two Savages wreathed about the heads and middles with Laurel, holding branches of trees in their hands, all proper.