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In 1870, Mr M'Combie's popularity as a landlord and country gentleman received public re- cognition when he was entertained to dinner by his Lynturk tenantry and the leading gentlemen of the vale of Alford. The following account of this dinner appeared in the 'Banffshire Journal' of February 1, 1870: "The chief of the clan M'Combie - the popular laird of Easterskene - was entertained to dinner on the 21st ult. by the tenantry on his estate of Lynturk, in the vale of Alford. The chair was occupied by the laird's cousin, Mr M'Combie, M.P. for West Aberdeenshire, who is tenant in Bridgend, the largest farm on the Lynturk estate ; and there was a great gathering of the chief men of the vale. The chairman referred to Mr M'Combie as a kind and considerate landlord, who lets his farms at moderate rents, who keeps no head of game, and who lives among his people as an prising improver of the soil, and of the breeds of cattle ; the winner of many a prize in the show-yard ; as a warm supporter of the Volunteer cause, having been for a lengthened period the captain of the local volunteers ; and as a gentleman of the kindest heart and most agreeable manners. In these observations the chairman did not say a word more than was due to Easterskene, and the large meeting cordially endorsed the sentiments. The laird made a suitable reply, and proposed the health of the tenantry of Lynturk, coupled with Mr Hunter, Farmton, who acknowledged." In addition to the foregoing, Mr M 'Combie has on more than one occasion been entertained by his Easterskene tenantry.
In politics Mr M 'Combie is a Conservative of a mild type, and were there more of the same character, Conservatism would not be at so low an ebb in Aberdeenshire. He has never, however, given much of his time nor attention to politics, nor been an ardent party-man. Some idea of Mr M 'Combie personally has already been given while mentioning his height. Until incapacitated from active outdoor exercise by an unfortunate accident some years ago, he might have been cited along with the late Mr Horatio Ross as an example of the remarkable preservation of strength in old age. When his portrait by Mr J. Coutts Michie was exhibited at Edinburgh in 1885, it was difficult to believe that the handsome, vigorous, and alert-looking old man was an octogenarian ; and one critic thought doubtlessly that he showed remarkable critical acumen when he triumphantly asked, "Where are the wrinkles?" But the critic missed his mark, as critics some- times do ; for although now midway between eighty and ninety, Mr M'Combie's forehead is marked with only the faint outline of one or two wrinkles, just as the artist has faithfully delineated in the portrait. In the difference between the condition of the estates of Easterskene and Lynturk at the present time, and their condition when Mr M'Combie entered into possession, lies the result of his life's work - a work the value of which is beyond all calculation. It rests there an accomplished fact, that has already borne much good fruit, and will continue, as all good work ever does, to bear fruit in a variety of ways and for a length of time beyond all human foresight.
In bringing our brief memoir to a close, we feel that in looking back to the solitary figure of Donald M'Combie arriving poor and friendless in the vale of Alford some two hundred years ago, and. then looking at the position of his descendant and representative of the present day, while enjoying his otium cum dignitate in a green old age as the respected and honoured proprietor of two fine estates, and the many other descendants who have brought respect and honour on the name of M'Combie - such a retrospect cannot fail to be an incentive to in- dividual effort in others, who may learn from it that prosperity always waits on energetic perse- verance in well-doing, and invariably crowns it with success sooner or later. When, again, we compare the "life of sturt and strife" of John M'Comie of Forter, with the peaceful career of his descendant at Easterskene, we see the advance the nation has made from revolution, imperfect civilisation, and lawlessness, to settled government, advanced civilisation, and conformity to law. "I OWN that John M'Intoshe of Forter, comonly called M'Comie, was a brave loyall gentleman, and behaved very worthily in the King's service. But he needs not be excepted in this place ; his predecessor, as he told me and others severall tymes, was a son of the House of Garvamore in Badenoch, where never a M'Intosh treaded till this our age, otherwise than as a guest or passenger ; so was really Macphersone, as all the our M'Intoshes in the south are, who though by an unacceptable mistake they bear your name, have our nature, and constantly from age to age loved us better than them.
But if he had been a M'Intoshe as he was called, he was neither at Glenclova nor at Blaire Castle, or the seige of Lethen and Burgie, consequently that part of the history that concerns the services of the Catana tribus under the reign of King Charles the first, cannot at all be ascribed to the M'Intoshes, nor the rescue of Queen Mary, more than this, except that in contradiction to comon sence and reason, and the vouched testimonies of unexceptible witnesses, their bold assertion pass for a sufficient proofe." - From Sir ^Eneas M'Pherson 1 of In- vereshie's MS. Memorial to the Laird of Cluny in Badenoch, penes M'Pherson of Cluny. " The care taken by the family historians to record the natural offspring of William, seventh laird of M'lntosh, is sufficient proof that they were persons of note. The manners of the country and the time, both equally rude, may warrant the inference that the connection of which they were the issue was sanctioned by some such imperfect rite as that of handfasting. The mother of the two elder, Angus and Donald, appears to have been the daughter of the chief of the tribe of the M'Gillonies of Lochaber, a considerable branch of the Clan Cameron. The name of the mother of the three younger has not reached us ; but from the marriage of her daughter to a person who was evidently of consequence, we may infer that she was of honourable rank. Both her sons seem to have received lands from their father, Sorald or 1 The following notice of Sir ^Eneas M'Pherson is given in Douglas's. 'Baronage of Scotland,' p. 360, ed. 1798: "^Eneas, afterwards Sir .(Eneas, a man of great parts and learning, and highly esteemed both by King Charles II. and King James VII. He collected the materials for the history of the Clan M'Pherson, which is thought a valuable MS., is much esteemed, and is still preserved in the family. He was made Sheriff of Aberdeen by a charter under the great seal from King Charles II., dated 1684. His only son died a colonel in Spain, without issue." Sir ^Eneas was the second son of "William M'Pherson of Inneressie, who married Margaret, daughter of Farquhardson of Wardes " (Wardhouse in Aberdeenshire, which belonged to the Farquharsons of Invercauld). " His grandfather, Angus or .Eneas M'Pherson of Inneressie, married a daughter of Farquharson of Bruickderg " (Broughdearg in Glenshee).; and his descendants for two generations posessed lands apparently in the neighbourhood of Petty, the favourite residence of their father. Of the elder, the Latin History gives the following account: 'Adam MacWilliam at first settled in Atholl, but afterwards removed to Garvamore in Badenagh ; and from him are descended the Macintoshes of Glenshee, Strathairdle, and Glenisla.' As his father died in 1368 at an advanced age, and as he was born before his father's second marriage (of which there was issue), the date of his birth may be placed in the middle of the fourteenth century (probably rather before than after 1350), and it is not likely that he long survived the year 1400.
Unless a further clue shall be discovered, the endeavour to trace link by link the descent of the Macintoshes of Glenshee, Strathairdle, and Glenisla from this common and remote progenitor, must be abandoned as hopeless. [There is no record come down to us of the particular Thomas M'Intosh from whom the surname of M'Combie originated. The first mention of M'Thomas as surname seems to be in " Clan Chattan's Band," where Aye M'Ane M'Thomas is mentioned. Thomas as Christian name has always been kept up in the family. It is, however, vouched in the most direct manner by the family annalist, whose sources of information and discriminating accuracy leave no room for doubt in the matter. He is indeed to be regarded as so far a contemporary witness ; for of the documents from which he compiled his work, it has been seen that one was written within a century of the death of Adam M'William, with whose children, at the farthest in the second generation, this eldest historian of the Macintoshes (who was also the chief of the clan) must have been contemporary. The evidence thus far (that is, to about the year 1 500) is unquestionable; and by the other two historians, it is carried down in the same contemporary channel to the year 1550. The writer of the Latin History wrote shortly after the year 1679 ; so that the period as to which it was necessary for him to speak of his own knowledge is less than a century and a half, a period for which the amplest evidence of family descent is generally accessible even in the absence of written proofs, and among a people much less tenacious of such recollections than the Highlanders. It will be observed, also, that he speaks of the families of Glenshee, Strathairdle, and Glenisla as still existing, which gives additional weight to his evidence." - From ' Notes (MS.) on the Family of Macintosh or M'Combie of Forthar in Glenisla, in the shire of Angus, descended from the Family of Macintosh or of that Ilk, Captains of the Clan Chattan,' by the late Dr Joseph Robertson, the eminent antiquary, author of ' The Book of Bon Accord,' &c, written in 1839, penes Mr William M'Combie of Easterskene and Lynturk. In addition to the notes by Dr Robertson, the compiler desires to express his indebtedness to the exhaustive ' Historical Memoirs of the House and Clan of Mackintosh,' by Mr Alexander Mackintosh Shaw, for several interesting facts in the early history of the M'Combies. To any one at all versant in matters of genealogy, it will be superfluous to remark that until a recent period illegitimate birth was scarcely counted a spot in a pedigree. The instances are innumerable of lords, earls, and princes who subscribed and called themselves bastards and there is scarcely a family in the peerage of Scotland in which, in some instance, the succession has not been carried on by an illegitimate son.
In 1404, Alexander Stewart, a natural son of the Wolfe of Badenagh, acquired the Earldom of Mar, which he transmitted to his natural son, Sir Thomas Stewart." After citing other cases involving damnatum coitum, Mr Robertson quotes from Feme's ' Blazon of Gentrie, or Glorie of Generositie,' p. 287 (London, 1586): "Spurii qui ex damnato coitu procreantur, ita ut tempore procreationis, non possit esse matrimonium, omni prorsus beneficio excludantur." " It was," he continues, " perhaps scarcely necessary to cite these examples, for the history of the chiefs of the Macintoshes itself furnishes a sufficient instance. In the beginning of the sixteenth century, on the occasion of a disputed succession to the chiefship, the clan chose a bastard brother of a late chief to be their captain." - Robertson, 'Notes on the Family of Macintosh or M'Combie.' (See also Skene's ' Highlanders 1 A writer, indeed, of the reign of King James VI. speaks thus of the practice of his day : "Observandum hodie et hoc est, quod bastardi, si a parentibus suis agnoscantur pro fiberis nobilitatem ea parte patris recipi- unt." - Craigii 'Jus Feudale,' lib. ii. § 21. 154 The Family of M'Combie. of Scotland,' vol. ii. p. 181; Sir Robert Gordon's 'Gen- eral History of the Earldom of Sutherland,' p. ioo.) NOTE C, page 5. " Hie Gulielmus erat supra communem popularem staturam procerus robustus sed minime camosus (?) ; eratque suae familise primus qui Clan Chattanorum ducem subscripsit." - From ' De Origine et Incrumento Makintoshiorum Epitome.' The Latin History of the M'Intoshes, preserved in MS. in the Advocates' Library at Edinburgh. This was a feu-charter of the four-merk lands of Finnegand and shealing of Glenbeg, lying in Glenshee, in the barony of Middle Downie and sheriffdom of Perth, granted by Thomas Scott de Petgorno in favour of John M'Comy Moir ; Janet Rattray, his wife ; and their son and apparent heir, John M'Comy Moir, junior. Janet Rattray was a daughter of John Rattray of Dalrulzion, who was one of the witnesses. The charter also included "astrictis multuris omnium granorum prefa- tarum terrarum solitis et consuetis molendino meo de Innerreddertye," together with the long obsolete right of " mulierum merchetis." The following extract from the records of the kirk- session of Kirkmichael (Perthshire) shows that the removal of M'Comie Mor from Finnegand had not taken place previous to 165 1, and also throws considerable light on the Church discipline of the time : " March 2, 165 1. - Ilk day Johne M'Intoishe of ffanneyzeand, Thomas Keill, and Alexr. M'Intoishe in Derrow, his tennants, maid public satisfaction in sackcloth, and gave (due) evidences of yr. repentances for deceiving the minister be causing him baptize ane chyld gottin in fornication, under the notione of a lawll. chyld." As still further showing the lawlessness of times comparatively not of a very remote date, the following incident, which took place before the time of M'Comie Mor, probably in Finla Mor's time, before the granting of the charter for Finnegand to the M'Comies, is of interest: "
On another occasion, some Highlanders came down and killed a gentleman in Glenshee, one M'Omie or M'Homie. The Baron caught two of them, and instantly caused them to be hanged on birch-trees in the wood of Enochdhu. Their graves are to be seen there to this day. Their names were Donald-na-Slogg and Finlay- a-Baleia."- From ' Memoirs of the Family of Straloch, 1 5 6 The Family pf M' Combie. in Strathardle, commonly called Barron Reid (Robert- son), written in 1728.' A most remarkable confirmation of this incident in M'Comie Mor's life took place not many years ago. A house was to be built on the part of the field where the caird was said to have been buried, and to the intense astonishment of those excavating the foundation, human bones were turned up which no one to whom the tradition was known doubted were those of the unfortunate caird. The event created a good deal of excitement at the time in Glenshee, and was looked upon as a most remarkable corroboration of a tradition which some, in the lapse of time, had begun to look upon with incredulity.
Here, again, we would point out that none of the feats of strength attributed to M'Comie Mor are incredible, as so many traditionary feats are. Only a few years ago a celebrated athlete near Lochaber, in Invernessshire, although at the time past his prime, on a bull attacking his brother, who was lame and unable to defend himself, at once rushed forward, seized the bull by his horns, and dislocated his neck. In a letter from the late William Shaw, Esq. of Milton of Blacklunans, to William M'Combie, Esq. of Easterskene and Lynturk, written from Finnegand 26th February 1855, he says: "I promised to try and find out who your great forefather took prisoner in the north. James MTntosh, one of the oldest men in our country, says that he has often heard that it was the laird of Craigievar, and thinks it was at the Kirkton of Alford the battle was fought. He does not know how he went there, only that Grahame (Montrose) and M'Comie were great friends. This was the more likely, as one of the lairds of Blacklunans, Robertson, Baron of the barony of Blacklunans, and one of Grahame's vassals, was with him. It was to this man that M'Comie showed his prisoner after the battle, asking him what he thought of him. The Baron said, ' Nae muckle.' M'Comie answered, ' Had you met him as I did, you would have another tale. Give him his sword, and he would drive all the lairds of Blackwater east Glack Pool,' or the watery hollow, a pass between Blacklunans and Alyth."
Now, in support of the above, we have, first, the testimony of "James Ramsay of Ogill," taken on 25th January 1645, and published in vol. ii. p. 167 of the 1 There is reason to believe that what Mr Shaw calls the Glack Pool was the Glack 'of Fulzie, which is shown in a map in the possession of Mi Charles M'Kenzie of Borland, of date 1766, at the depression in the heights above Blacklunans through which the road to Alyth passed, and by which the routed lairds would flee in their imagined discomfiture by Craigievar.. ' Memorials of Montrose and his Times,' printed for the Maitland Club, 1850, from the original in the Montrose charter-chest, that among those with Montrose at the Law of Dundee, immediately after the battle of Tippermuir in 1644, was "John M'Colmy." Mr Shaw's informant was not sure where John M'Comie took his prisoner, and it was at Aberdeen, not Alford, that Craigievar was taken prisoner.
Second, in ' The History of the King's Majestie's Affaires in Scotland vnder the Conduct of the Most Honourable James Marquess of Montrose, in the years 1644, 1645, and 1646,' printed in the year 1649, p. 49, it is stated: "They [Montrose's forces] tooke prisoners one Forbes of Kragevar, a knight of great esteeme with the enemy, and another, Forbes of Boindle." Sir William, as we shall see, escaped. Third, the evidence of Sir William Forbes of Craigie- var, 25th January 1645, on which date "Sir William Forbes of Craigievar, of the aidge of 32 years or therby, mareit, being sworne and interrogait anent thoiss whome he did see with the Erie Montroiss, Depones, that the day of the conflict at Aberdein, the deponer being in action and service for the weele of the Estaitts of this Kingdome, he was taken prisoner upon the feilds be sum of the Irish rebells and thair associatts, and wes deteand prisoner be the space of a month, efter whiche tyme the deponer wes permitted be the rebells to come aff upon his paroill to returne agane, and that the deponer come sua aff at Auldbar ; and that a twentie days or tharabout therefter the deponer, for keeping of his paroll, went in agane to the rebells at Strabogy ; and having stayed two dayes or therabout he escaiped, and came aff at
We have therefore the fact that John M'Comie was with Montrose prior to his march and fight at Aberdeen, the tradition in Glenshee that he took prisoner the laird of Craigievar while with Montrose in the north, and the fact that Sir William Forbes of Craigievar was taken prisoner by some one in Montrose's army at Aberdeen, and may therefore safely conclude that Sir William Forbes had to succumb to the invincible M'Comie Mor. The complete list is as follows : " James, Erie of Montrose ; Alexr. M'Donald, alias Colkittoches, sone ; James, Erie of Airlie ; Sr. Thomas and Sr. David Ogil- vies, his sones ; Jon. Stewart of Auchannachan ; Donnald Glass M'Ronnald of Keppoche ; David Graham of Gorthie ; Patrik Graham, fiar of Inchbrakie ; John M'Colmie ; Donald Ro[ber]tsone, tutor of Strowan ; Alexr. Ogilvie of Innerquharitie ; John Stewart of Shierglass.