Current events, and a variety of interests, crowd so thickly
on the brain, occupying so fully the time and thought of the present generation, that it has neither leisure nor inclination
to listen to the oft-repeated verbal recitals, which formed to a great extent the family history education of its predecessors;
and it appears to me th many of the so called traditions (which nevertheless recorded facts) are in danger of slipping away
altogether from our own, and succeeding generations.
It is with the hope of at least arresting a few of these,
relating to the family of Graemes and Grahams, that I have ventured to put together, in what I trust may prove a readable
form, anything I have found of interest to their descendants; in this endeavour I have confined myself (with one exception)
to those episodes or events which can be corroborated by family archives or historical records. In such manner I have hoped
to make this volume acceptable not only to their descendants in this practical and fact seeking twentieth century, but also
of interest to the more earnest student of antiquarian research. The one exception is, the burning of the so-called witch,
Kate McNiven of Monzie. The story is one, which has descended from father to son in every walk of life, and the proof is the
stone and relic she bestowed on Inchbrakie.
The student of the Graeme and Graham families is much
confused by the repetition in succeeding generations of the same Christian names.
In the Inchbrakie branch alone, each eldest and second
son was called Patrick and George, or George and Patrick alternately; but when to this is added in generations of the different
branches, those of John, James and David, duplicated in bewildering alternation, confusion becomes worse confounded. Every
care has been taken to unravel this knot, and place the right men in the right place with as much accuracy as possible.
The spelling I have adhered to in the Sketch of Descent
"Graeme" is the one found on the seals attached to the ancient charters, seals which took the place of signatures. In 1579,
probably one of the earliest dates for a woman’s signature, the Lady Agnes Grame, daughter of the second Earl of Montrose,
signs her letters Agnes Graem; and passing to the next century, we find the clerks and others who drew up the legal documents
almost invariably using the spelling of Graham, though these were witnessed and signed Graeme by the persons written of in
the substance of the charters as Graham.
This caused, in many instances, where either indifference
was felt or trouble caused by adhering to the old spelling, younger sons and even the main branch to let the matter slip.
This is peculiarly apparent in the Bishop of Dunblane and Orkney’s family in 1620-50. The Bishop, of course, signed
his Episcopal signature only from 1603 onwards, and though on his daughters tomb he carves the Graeme, he addresses his letters
to his son of Gorthie, to Graham; while his second son, who founds the House of Graemeshall, adheres to the old spelling;
and the descendants of his fourth son, who also commenced with the diphthong, gradually are beaten into the use of the "aha".
Many of the Bishop’s grandsons continued the diphthong spelling, notably the Gorthies, as well as Graemeshall, and a
The Archdean of Ross, Graeme of Drynie, is referred to
as late as 1680 in a ratification by Barbara, Countess of Seafield, as Robert Graeme, but his descendants were fast abandoning
it for Graham.
Mercer’s Chronicle (M.S), in 1662, writes
of Balgowan as "Graeme" and until Lord Lynedoch’s date, that family never used any spelling but ae, while John Graeme
of Eskbank used the ae, and his son Robert, who succeeded Lynedoch, altered it to the "aha". The Garvock Graemes and Fintry
Grahams, springing from the same father, spell it differently; and the Duke of Montrose adopted the modern spelling permanently.
Examples could be multiplied, but I have said enough to
prove that the oldest and original spelling bore no "h" in the name, unless it was written "Ghrame". The almost universal
use of the name of the estate as surname for the holder at the time often caused the loss of old spellings.
With regard to the designation "Great Baron", by which
many of the families are described, it may be pointed out that the greater Commoners of Scotland were divided by their charters
into two classes - "Great Barons" and "Lesser Barons". This depended on the extent of the lands of which the several baronies
consisted; and in the earlier centuries that amount depended almost exclusively on their descent from noble houses; their
fines and responsibilities were also arranged in proportion to their being a Great or Lesser Baron. The cadets of cadets,
who held even smaller holdings, were simply "Lairds"; and in the eighteenth century were often designated "bonnet Lairds",
signifying that though the estate could be covered by their caps or "bonnets", yet they were owners with descent.
By the eighteenth century (unless perhaps in charters)
the term "Great Baron" was not specially used, though their wives were designated Lady or "Leddy", but only when the name
of an estate followed.
The tartan of the Graemes and Grahams is well known; there
is a slight difference between that of the Montrose and the Monteith clans. In 1401 tartan is mentioned in the accounts of
Bishop John of Glasgow, treasurer to James III of Scotland.
With regard to the kilt, there can be little doubt
that it is of very early origin. There are many sculptured stones on which it is represented; the oldest was found in the
wall of Antoninus, and is preserved at Croy. Other stones are at Dull and Dupplin in Perthshire, Nigg in Ross-shire, Forres,
St Andrews, and there is Macmillan’s Cross in Argyllshire; the periods of these extend from the sixth to the ninth century. I am told that a very complete representation of the Highland dress is
to be seen on one of the corbels of Paisley Abbey, carved in the fifteenth century. The figure is represented as wearing a
kilt, brogues, a feather in the bonnet, a belt, etc.
I cannot conclude without an expression of sincere thanks
to those who have so liberally bestowed their knowledge (with which research has endowed them) on myself: namely to Mr J.
Maitland Thomson, the Curator, and Mr J. Anderson, the Sub-Curator of the Register House; and to Mr Francis Grant, Clerk to
the Lyon Court. I have also to thank the officials at the Register House, Edinburgh, and the officials of the British Museum
for much courteous assistance.
My heartfelt thanks are also due to the late Mr Guthrie
Smith and Mr George Smythe, who, alas, they cannot reach. While to the Viscountess Strathallan, to Lord Ruthven, Colonel the
Honourable Robert Boyle, Sir Reginald Graham, Bart. of Norton-Conyers, Sir Graham Hammond-Graeme, Bart; Colonel Smythe of
Methven Castle, Mr Graham of Fintry, Mr Sanderson of Learmonth Terrace, Edinburgh, the Reverend J. Ferguson of Aberdalgie,
and many others who have lent me valuable assistance, I offer my grateful acknowledgements for their kindness; and last, but
not least, to my sisters for their unselfish and devoted assistance, without which work could not have been accomplished;
a work which, while claiming from myself every care that could ensure its accuracy, lays no claim to any literary ability.
LOUISA GRACE GRAEME