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There remains now only the youngest son, Donald, from whom are descended the well-known M'Combies of Aberdeenshire, and whose history we now proceed to take up. But before doing so, let us take a last look at Crandart, where, on the death of M'Comie Mor, and the subsequent dispersion of his family, the fortunes of the M'Comies seemed for ever wrecked. Of the old Ha' of Crandart little remains. The outlines of the old house can still be made out as regards the ground-plan, and the sides of the door and one window of the pres- ent farmhouse, and another in the steading, with their molded corners, and the threshold-stone, were taken from the old Ha'. Besides these stones, there are two stones with inscriptions still left from the old mansion-house. One of these is built into the south end of the west wing of the present steading at Crandart.
It is easy to see that many events from 1660 to 1673 had tended to exhaust the resources and weaken the position of the M'Comies. The litigation with Lord Airlie concerning the right of free forestry in Canlochan, terminating in two Acts and Decrees of the Scottish Parliament in Lord Airlie's favor, must have cost John M'Comie much money, as he, in that and the subsequent trials, employed the best counsel of his time. The loss of the forest itself as a grazing and hunting ground, when at last given up, must have caused a serious diminution of Settlement in Aberdeenshire. Income. Then, again, the legal conflict with Lord Airlie was almost immediately followed by the exaction of the Government fine of £ 1 800, a very large sum in those times. Although there are substantial grounds for believing that the bond granted to the Farquharsons, under the circumstances already narrated, was never paid, yet the resistance of its payment must have entailed very considerable law costs. All this, followed by the great trial in 1673, must have reduced the fortunes of the family to a very low ebb. We have seen that the old chief did not long survive this; and the facts relating to the history of the family for some time afterwards are very meager. There can be little doubt but that the property was burdened by debt and that the surviving sons of John M'Comie, finding it impossible to make headway longer at home, one by one set out in search of better fortune.
Of the subsequent fortunes of those who remained south of the Grampians we have no authentic record, and the history of M'Comies must now be transferred from Perth and Forfar to Aberdeenshire, where the youngest son, Donald M'Comie, settled, while still a very young man, towards the end of the seventeenth century. The date of the migration of Donald M'Comie from Glenisla to the vale of Alford is not known exactly, but was probably between 1676 and 1680, as by the Poll-book for Aberdeenshire of date 1696, we find him married to Janet Shires, and tenant to the yearly value of ,£10 in a holding at Edindurnoch, now Nethertown of Tough. In addition to his poll- tax as tenant, he was taxed six shillings additional as a tradesman. From this it is evident that he had been a considerable time in Aberdeenshire previous to 1696. There can be little doubt but that, owing to the circumstances above mentioned, and from his being the youngest son, he brought little into Aberdeenshire except a few personal effects. There has always been a tradition that he brought a few relics with him from Crandart, which have, unfortunately, not been preserved in the family. Looking back on the circumstances Donald M'Comie in 1696, they are about as unpropitious as could be ; and the subsequent slow but steady rise of the family in fortune and influence, through no sudden accession of fortune, but by steady unremitting perseverance and prudence, is of itself sufficient proof that its fortunes were laid by a race of men who, however impeded they might be by adverse circumstances for a time, could rise superior to all ilfortune, if unconquerable will and strength of purpose could effect it.
Of the personal history of Donald M'Comie little has come down to the present time, his life having evidently been one of uninterrupted industry, free from any remarkable incident. From the parish records of Tough we gather that he was frequently employed as a valuator, which shows that he had come to be looked upon as a man of sound judgment, and to be held in considerable reputation. Before his death he became tenant in Mains of Tonley, in Tough, where he died in 1714. His stone in the churchyard of Tough is amongst the oldest, if not the oldest one in it with an inscription. There is a tradition that when the people of Tough were visited by the cateran, Donald M'Comie sometimes got these troublesome visitors away with as little loss as possible to the community, not, as his father, "big M'Comie in the head of the Lowlands," used to do, by the terror of his sword, but by his persuasive words addressed to them in Gaelic. In Glenshee, the early home of his father, Gaelic was the ordinary language of everyday life, and is still spoken there, although we are sorry to say it is fast dying out. Donald M'Comie was therefore familiar with it, and all who know the Highlanders know how their heart warms to any one who can address them in their own tongue, especially when they meet with one who speaks it where they believe it is unknown. It is not difficult to understand, therefore, how he came to have such influence with the wild cateran.
Donald's son Robert became tenant in Findlatrie, also in Tough, and overlooking Lynturk. His life seems to have been spent like that of his father, in peaceful industry, which was soon to bear fruit, as the rapid rise of the family after his time is evidence that he was laying a good foundation on which his descendants could raise a lasting superstructure. He married Isobel Ritchie, daughter of Mr Ritchie, Farm ton of Alford. One of his sons, Robert, was out in 1745, and in 1746 escaped with difficulty from the rout of Culloden. After the battle he was overtaken by three dragoons, of whom he asked and fortunately obtained quarter. Scarcely, however, were they out of sight when a single dragoon overtook him, and on his refusing quarter, Robert M'Combie drew his pistol and shot the horse, and after a brief combat slew the rider. After this he managed to get home in safety, and after spending some time in concealment, succeeded in getting first to Whitehaven in England, and subsequently went to the West Indies, where his future history is unknown.
The eldest son of Robert was William, grandfather of the present proprietor of Easterskene and Lynturk. He became tenant of Upper and Lower Farmton and Mains of Lynturk in 1748 residing at Lynturk, where his house still remains, with the date 1762 on the lintel above the door. It is" situated close to the present mansion-house of Lynturk, and the stones round the doors and windows, with their molded corners, very like those at Crandart, were taken from the old castle of Lynturk, which was situated a little to the north-west. The present proprietor re- members seeing his grandfather in this house, which is a relic of great interest to him, and has been recently new-roofed to preserve the walls.
A most interesting fact in connection with the history of the M'Combies has been the hereditary transmission uninterruptedly for over 500 years of great personal stature and strength. The seventh chief of the M'Intoshes, William, from whom they are descended, was a man " of stature exceeding that of common men." The M'Comie who got the charter for Finnegand had the cognomen of Mor in 1571, and although John M'Comie of Forter was the M'Comie Mor par excellence in legend and history, it must be remembered that his ancestors had the same cognomen before him, and his son John, who was slain at the Moss of Forfar, was known as young M'Comie Mor. So little of the personal history of Donald and Robert has come down to us, that we find no particular record of their personal appearance; but no sooner do we come to learn particulars of the personal appearance of their descendants than this hereditary personal characteristic is as marked as ever. The late. George Mackie, slater, who was when young a servant to William M'Combie at Lynturk, used to tell the present proprietor of Lynturk that his grandfather at Lynturk had the largest bones of any man he ever met with, and he had the reputation of being the strongest man of seven parishes. His son Thomas, the present proprietor's father, used to be the champion putter of the stone on the links of Aberdeen, among the young men of his time. His eldest son, "the stalwart laird" of Easterskene, is 6 ft. 2 in., and very muscular; and his brother, the late Mr J. B. M'Combie, was also 6 ft. 2 in., and of massive build. Their cousin, the late Dr M'Combie of Tillyfour, was about the same height. James M'Combie of Farmton was a remarkably strong man. Charles M'Combie of Tillychetly, the father of the present tenant, was a powerfully built deepchested man ; and many will remember the tall figure of the late editor of the ' Free Press.' In very few families has a personal characteristic been transmitted in so conspicuous a manner for such a length of time - over 500 years, dating from William, seventh chief of the M'Intoshes.
William M'Combie, when a young man, was, like his great ancestor, distinguished for his personal prowess. Up to the beginning of the present century, and in many instances well into it, faction fights between the inhabitants of different parishes or districts were very common in Aberdeenshire, and, we believe, all over the country. A remarkable fight of this kind took place when William M'Combie was a young man, on the occasion of a penny, or, as it was sometimes called, a " siller " wedding between a Leochel man and a Monymusk woman. On this occasion the fight that took place seems to have been between not only the guests present from the parishes of Leochel and Monymusk, but also those from several neighboring parishes, the combatants ranging themselves with the bridegroom's party or the bride's, according to residence west or east respectively of Cairn William. William M'Combie was captain of the Leochel or west of Cairn William men, and a noted fighting man named Thomson from Mill of Hole, Midmar, captain of the Monymusk or east of Cairn William men. The fight was a long and stubborn one; and a vivid idea of the vigor with which it was prosecuted, and the hard knocks going, is conveyed by the fact that William M'Combie sent his youngest brother Donald to strip some neighboring houses of their thatch, and bring the cabers to supply the necessary weapons of war for such of the Leochel men and their partisans as had the misfortune to break their own cudgels on the heads of their opponents. Victory is said to have rested ultimately with the bridegroom's party, in great measure owing to the prowess of their captain, who defeated the Midmar champion in single combat.
On another occasion William M'Combie had gone into a neighboring parish to attend a ball, at which there was present a young man with whom he had had a quarrel, which had not been satisfactorily settled. As the night wore on he observed this young man consulting from time to time with several of his associates, and being sus- picious of mischief being plotted against himself, he kept a wary eye on their movements. At length observing some commotion in the other end of the ball-room from where he was standing, he noticed that his opponent and his associates were making their way towards him, in a line extending from side to side of the house, so as to prevent his escape, while the women and the more peaceably inclined of the dancers were making a hurried exit. But like the athletic miller of "Christ's Kirk on the Green" - " M'Comie was o' manly mak, To meet him was nae mows ; There durst nae tensome there him tak, Sae noited he ther pows " for springing upwards he wrenched a caber from the roof above him, and using it like a two-handed sword, with terrific sweeps right and left he cleared the ball-room and escaped without injury. His strength and courage on occasions such as these, made him very popular amongst the young men of the surrounding district, a popularity that was like to have brought him into some trouble in 1745.
The- proprietor of Tonley at that time was an ardent supporter of Prince Charles, and became active in raising men in his behalf. Well knowing William M'Combie's personal prowess, and his popularity among the class of men he wanted to join the Prince's army, he was sure that if he got him to join, many would follow his example, while if he held back, many would probably do the same who would otherwise have joined. William M'Combie's father being a tenant of Tonley, the laird made sure of getting any of his tenant's sons he wanted, and as we have seen, did get Robert, but found William determined to have nothing to do with 94 The Family of M'Combie. him or Prince Charlie ; perhaps the memory of what his family had already suffered from taking a side in civil war had something to do with his refusal. Tonley, finding persuasion of no avail, determined to carry him off by force, thinking that if he were once away and amongst the others engaged in the enterprise, he would not like to turn back. Tonley's wife, however, secretly conveyed word to young M'Combie of the design of her husband, and when the latter went with a strong party to carry him off, he could not be found. It is said that William M'Combie looked upon Tonley, who had not been long in possession of the estate, as a novus homo who was trying to acquire prestige for himself at the expense of others, and on that account was less inclined to join him. After entering on his tenancy at Lynturk, William M'Combie came to care less and less for distinguishing himself as the hero of such scenes as we have narrated, and a rather remarkable incident that happened to him while there had a permanent influence on his after - life. About this time there were a considerable number of Dissenters in the district around Lynturk ; and before there was a manse for their pastor, the latter was for some time lodged with William M'Combie at Lynturk, although he had not at that time joined himself to the Dissenters. One day while William M'Combie was in one of his fields, he heard a voice proceeding from behind a dike at some distance. Drawing near he became aware that it was his lodger engaged in prayer, and was greatly moved on finding that special entreaty was being made for his own spiritual welfare. The result was that soon after he joined himself to the Dissenters, and became their leading member in the congregation at Buffle. This connection has been maintained by some of his sons and their descendants down to the present time in the U.P. congregation at Lynturk, which now represents the Buffle one.
William M'Combie, after settling at Lynturk, married Marjory Wishart, daughter of Mr Wishart, merchant, Banchory, by whom he had a family of seven sons and three daughters. The sons were Alexander, Robert, William, John, Thomas, Peter, and Charles. William's great- grandfather, it will be remembered, had seven sons also, and as in their time the fortunes of the family were at their lowest, so now, from amongst the seven sons of his descendant, they were once more to be restored to even more than their former position. Four of the seven names, it will be observed, correspond with the names of four of the former family of seven sons. The names of William's seven sons, contracted in the usual Scottish fashion, formed a sort of anapestic rhythm, as follows : Same, Rob, Willie, Jock, Tarn, Pate, and Charlie, - at one time very popular amongst scholars in the parishes of Tough and Leochel, and still remembered by many who never knew, or have forgotten the origin of it.
Alexander, the eldest son, was a man of great size and strength of body, but lacked energy of mind, and was content to reside with his brother Robert at Upper Farm ton, where he lived and died unmarried. Robert, the second son, was tenant of Upper and Lower Farmton, and married a daughter of Mr Milner, Mains of Corse. His eldest son, William, became tenant in turn of Upper Farmton, and had four sons: William, who died young; Peter and James, both deceased ; and Robert, the present tenant of Upper Farmton. Robert's second son, James, became tenant of Lower Farmton, and had a son, Robert, who died young ; and a daughter, married to John Hunter, untill recently a farmer in Lower Farmton, whose daughter is married to Dr M'Donald of Markinch, Fife ; Jessie, the sister of the present tenant of Upper Farmton, unmarried ; and Helen, married to Mr Duffus, whose son is now tenant of Lower Farm- ton, brings the family of William down to the present time, and leaves them tenants of Lower and Upper Farmton, as his father had been.
The daughters of the first Robert of Farmton were Marjory, married to Mr Smith, Easter Tolmands, whose son is the present tenant there ; and Penelope, who had no family. William, the third son, became tenant of the G 98 The Family of M'Combie. Netherton of Tough, where his great-grandfather Donald M'Combie first settled, and married a Miss Urquhart. Their son William was their successor in Netherton, where he died not many years ago. Their son Charles became tenant of Tillychetly in the parish of Alford, now tenanted by his son Charles. Their daughter was married to her cousin William in Upper Farmton. John, the fourth son, held a situation in the Customs, Aberdeen, the family ultimately settling in London. Thomas, the fifth son, was born in 1762, and became a merchant in Aberdeen, of which he was a magistrate, being several times a bailie and member of the town council, and refused the honor of the provostship. His success in business enabled him to buy the estate of Jellybrands in the end of the last century, and the estates of Asleid and Easterskene in the beginning of the present century. He was the first of the M'Combies north of the Grampians who succeeded in regaining the position held by his ancestors in Perthshire and Forfarshire as landowners. It is doubtless owing to this circumstance in great part that his eldest son, the present proprietor of Easterskene and Lynturk, has been looked upon as the chief of the name, it being a well-known fact that the chieftainship of Highland clans did not always go by seniority of birth or direct succession. Thomas married Margaret Boyn, daughter of Mr Boyn of the Customs, Aberdeen, by whom he had a family of three sons and five daughters, of who two died young. He died in 1824, and was succeeded in Easterskene by his eldest son William, born in 1802, whose biography will be given later on. Mr James Boyn M'Combie, his second son, succeeded by destination to the estate of Jellybrands, and had a long and honorable career as an advocate in Aberdeen. He was much esteemed by his townsmen of Aberdeen, and but for his retiring disposition would have been brought more prominently into public life than was the case. As it was, he was Dean of Guild once; and his popularity for the provostship on one occasion was set forth in song in one of the newspapers, one verse of which was as follows : - "Oh wha's to be provost? wha? wha? Oh wha's to be provost? wha? Ye should tak Jellybrands, He's made to your hands; He's a dungeon of wit, and of law, law, He's a dungeon of wit, and of law.'' He married Miss Helen Davidson, daughter of Mr Davidson of Elmsfield, but had no family. He died in 1885.