of Ross, Younger son of
Baron and Founder of the Branch
Graemes of Drynie, 1513-1602
Robert, the younger
son of Patrick, first laird of Inchbrakie, and grandson of the Earl of Montrose, was educated for the Church.
It seems, when he accompanied
his mother to Glenurchy or visited her there in company with his young sisters Nichola and Margaret, as if his mind and character
had become imbued with some of the turbulent highland spirit of that date, and it is not unlikely that the blood of the royal
Stuarts which raced in his veins gave him a somewhat imperious nature but one which was ever ready to be leant on, and give
support to any weaker spirit which might appeal to him for advice of assistance; we realize this more fully as we read of
the many instances in which he bound himself as cautioner for friends and neighbours. If doubt was ever expressed as to proof
of the Archdeacon’s descent from Inchbrakie, it must be set at rest once and for all by the will of his brother, the
second laird who constitutes "Robert Graeme my brother German, Archdeacon of Ross", one of the Curators for his children,
and it will be seen that the Archdeacon became the owner of Drynm, Drym, Drennie or Drynie, a property lying in the Black
Isle, Ross-shire, and founded the family of the Graemes of Drynie, a line which has continue to the last generation in male
descent, the only branch of Inchbrakie which has so continue with exception of the main stem itself.
We find in 1567, in
a deed of the "Decanum Dunkeldensum" that Robert was in January of that year Prebendary of Alyth, the gift to this appointment
was in the hands of the Bishop of Dunkeld and generally conferred on a Prebendary of that Cathedral, so we presume Robert
holding such an appointment
at the time of obtaining the gift of Alyth. In 1569 he is a witness to a charter of
confirmation of lands
in Fifeshire, between Alexander, Lord Hume, and John Wemyss, in this charter still further confirmation of his descent is
shown, for his is here styled the "Brother German to the Baron of Inchbrakie".
It will be remembered
that between the Humes and the Graemes a connection had been formed by the marriage to Lord Hume of the Lady Marion Dirleton
(step sister to Robert’s father, the first laird), and the Alexander alluded to in the preceding charter is their son.
The lands of Nether
Craigo had fallen to Lord Hume’s mother Marion, on the reversion of them by the little Patrick Graeme in 1512; Alexander
was contemporary with Robert Graeme, and though not exactly a kinsman stood in the same degree of friendship that a first
cousin might, the witnessed charter shows that a strong friendly feeling had been formed between the young men.
In 1572, Regent Moray
who always guarded church property, had been succeeded by Regent Morton, and he, not being so scrupulous had not hesitated
in the name of the infant king to grant to the Treasurer, William, Lord Ruthven, the lead on the cathedral church of Ross;
this was soon followed by the destruction of the roof itself thus exposed to the inclemency of Ross-shire winters.
Patrick Lindsay did
his best to restore it in 1615, but it became utterly ruined when in 1652-3, Cromwell had the stones of it used for building
his citadel at Inverness. Thus when the 2nd of August 1573 brought to Robert Graeme the presentation of the Archdeanery
of Ross from James the VI, the cathedral church was on the eve of ruin.
This appointment was
confirmed to Andrew in the following year when the General Assembly had met at Edinburgh on March 6th, 1574 and
at their subsequent meeting on the 7th August, a commission was appointed to visit the counties of Caithness and
Sutherland. It was formed in consequence of the Bishop of Caithness not having been admitted as one
of the reformed Bishops.
As Robert’s name holds a somewhat prominent place in the commission it is appended in full.
"At Eden, the 11th
day of August in the year of God 1574, the whole Kird presently assembled in one voice and mind giveth full concession special
power and charge to their loved brethren Mr Robert Graeme, Archdeacon of Ross and Mr John Robertson, Treasurer, thereof conjointly
and severally to pass to the Counties of Caithness and Sutherland and there to build kirks colleges and schools and other
places needful, within the said bounds; and in the same to plant ministers, teachers, elders, and deacons, schoolmasters,
and other members necessary and requisite for erecting a perfect reformed Kirk; suspend for a time or simpliceter deprive
such as they shall find unworthy or not apt for their office, whether it be for crimes committed or ignorance; abolish, eradicate
and destroy all Monuments of idolatry; establish and set up the true worship of the eternal God, as well in Cathedral and
College Kirds, as in other places within the said bounds, conform to the order taken and agreed upon in the Book of Discipline;
and also to search and enquire the names of all those that possess benefices within the said bounds, and at whose provision
they had been; and if any are vacant, or happen to be vacant within the commissionary, to confer and give the same to the
persons qualified, and being presented by the just patrons of the same, due examination preceeding; to reject and refuse
such as they shall
find unable and not apt thereto, as they will answer to God and the Kird thereupon; their diligence to be done therein with
these presents to report to the next assembly general, where it shall happen to be for the time. Given in the General Assembly,
and Ninth Session thereof. Subscribed by the Clerk of the same day, year and place foresaid".
At this time the members
of the General Assembly had a strong opinion of the zeal, energy and discretion, together with the organizing powers likely
to be displayed by the Archdeacon; but either they were too exacting in their demands (like many other governing bodies who
rarely come in contact with the detail of the work they institute), or else the Archdeacon was unsuitable for the work selected,
for scarcely had a year elapsed when a complain was made against him to the Assembly, at its sitting on 6th August
The Parish of Kilearnen
(or Redcastle), whose church was dedicated to St Trenaeus, had been in the days of the Roman Catholic supremacy always held
by the Archdeacon of Ross, it appears that custom was continued, for at this time Robert is holding that living as well as
that of Kirkmichael (now Resolis) but we certainly do not find that he could be charged with the receipt of large fees and
emoluments in spite of his so called plurality of livings, for the "haill stipend of the haill Archdenerii of Ross" consisted
of twelve chaldrons of Meal or "Victuals" and the sum of 12 pound 13 shillings and 4 pence money, Robert was also obliged
in conseqence of the distance between these parishes to sustain "Reidares", at Kilearnen and Kirkmichael; Mr Alexander Mackenzie
at the former, receiving 16 pound per annum; and Alexander Clunes at Kirkmichael, in receipt of "twenty merks and Kirklands"
and no doubt in consequence, his churches may not have received the personal supervision so necessary to the well-being of
a parish, and yet so rarely given during many periods of the Church’s history.
The complaint brought
before the General Assembly in August 1575, stated that the Archdeacon had not been "diligent in his visitations" and that
he held more offices than he could discharge.
Robert Graeme was not
a man to be crushed by any partially founded charges brought against him, not yet to truckle in any manner to obtain office;
plain, straightforward, and somewhat rough and stern in character, there was no man more fitted to "meet his enemies at his
gates", and he appears always ready to be on the defensive, or to clear himself from, rather than shirk or quietly endure
slander, or unfounded accusation, even to within a few weeks of his death!
At any rate the charge
of 1575 passes over his head for he retains his "offices" and the parish of Foderty is added to them in 1585 for a year thus
adding a further charge on to what his enemies considered was already overburdened shoulders; he resigned Foderty when reappointed
on the Commission to Caithness in 1586 by the General Assembly.
Once again, at the
end of the year 1587 are various accusations brought against him, and this time they take more definite and detailed form.
First comes the one stating "that he had a Highland Kirk which he served not".
Promptly comes the
Archdeacon’s defence that he "laiked the knowledge of the Irish (Gaelic) language, and yet upon his expense was that
Again they state he
makes "no residence" at his own Kirk.
"As to non-residence",
boldly replies the Archdeacon, "I have neither manse nor gleib". His reply hit the nail on the head and the process for "non
residence", etc, is remitted and though another was appointed Commission in his room in February 1587, Robert retains his
Archdeanery, Killernan, etc., until his death.
There are at least
three confirmations to him as "Roberti Grahme", Archdeacon of Ross in the lands of "Canonia Rossen", the one of the 25th
February 1581 and 1st September 1584, and in 1575 his name is found as witness to a bond for Lord Lindsay of the
The date of the purchase
of the lands of Drynie I have not been able to find but there is a sale mentioned of the lands of Easter Drynie by Colin Mackenzie
of Kintail, to a certain Alexander Bane and Agnes Fraser, his wife, in 1575; whether these formed part of the Archdeacons
property afterwards or not, it is difficult to say, more probably they march with Drynie proper, which appears to have originally
been owned by the Mackenzies; for every now and again there is to be traced a rather brisk spirit of antagonism between Alexander
Bane and a certain Rory Mackenzie (brother to Kintail) and the Archdeacon and his sons.
The first time we meet
the Archdeacon and Rory together, there seems to have been no stint of friendship between them, for Rory being in some sort
of trouble, Robert Graeme stands for him and subscribes "his name as security" to a "Bond" about 1578.
Up to about this time,
Robert seems to have kept up his friendships and interests in the south, but now his brother the laird is dead, he is growing
older (he must have been close on sixty), and is fully occupied with the affairs of the Chanonry of Ross and his northern
He must have been glad
to find himself relieved of the caution of 5000 pounds scots he had shared for David Graham of Fintrie with Robert Graeme
of Thornick and William Graham of Claverhouse, his kinsmen. Their chief, John, Earl of Montrose (Robert’s cousin) taking
the caution on his own shoulders.
All this was for the
unfortunate David of Fintrie, executed that same year in Edinburgh and who was descended from Sir William Graham of Kincardine,
being a kinsman both of the Archdeacon and his brother Inchbrakie.
Robert Graeme had married
many years previous to this event; for in 1597-8 we find his eldest son, George (Robert had gone to the old stock when seeking
a name for his boy) a witness with him proving him of full legal age.
The Archdeacon had
chosen his wife from a north country family, the Dunbars of Albrach, the fact being mentioned in a settlement on her as his
wife Marjorie, and the mother of his children.
The name of their son
George first occurs in 1597 when he is tyled George, son and heir of the Archdeacon of Ross; and again in 1598 when Mr John
Learmonth Advocat procures a band by George Dunbar of Albrach (probably a near kinsman of the Archdeacon’s wife) for
William Thomesown, Burgess of the Chanonry of Ross, in 2000 merks, that Thomesown should not harm John Irving of Kynok.
This band is subscribed
at the Chanonry of Ross before the Archdeacon and George. The accusations brought in those days were certainly not wanting
in strong language, nor apparently very accurate, from the repeated inability of the accusers to prove them. As an example,
I will relate what seems to have been a very exciting "raid" in which both the Archdeacon, his eldest son, and his manservant
were (falsely) accused of taking a prominent part.
The action again them
was brought by Mr Munro, the Chancellor of Ross, and a certain Donald Thornton of no residence, against a Robert Grant and
twenty other persons for not appearing as witnesses when called on to do so against Rory McKenzie of Cutelord (brother to
Mckenzie of Kintail) and six others, who with Robert Graeme, Archdeacon of Ross, his son George, and their man John
Inch went at night
and by way of "Hame suchen" on the 26th April 1602 to the house of Mr George Monro in the chanonry.
They are stated to
have been armed with "pistols" and other "forbidden weapons" and owing to the directions of Rory McKenzie, they with "engines"
etc., "brak up the doors" of the house; pulled George Monro and his son out of their beds and beat them; threw Mrs Monro out
of the window(!) into the close, where she lay nearly dead with cold, and after carrying away much of the "plenishings" of
the house, and wounding the Monro’s servant, they crowned all these misdemeanours by carrying off a certain Janet Thornton
(the aforesaid Donald’s daughter) and bore her off the the "Seyside" where they had a boat waiting to transport her
over the "water" whence they took her to the dwelling of Archibald Falconer, "where, and in other obscure parts of the country
they still detain her!" The accusers hesitated at nothing, and having piled up the horrors for their case, they appeal to
the King and the Council to punish such "Act of Oppression" which if carried on will infallibly prevent good subjects reposing
in surety of their "lives, bairns or gudes,"and almost threaten the Council in their appeal that if no punishment ensue it
will encourage "insolent subjects" (poor Archdeacon) to oppress others.
They so far prevail
that charge is given the Archdeacon to produce his son George and their servant if called on.
It would be only reasonable
to suppose that after such a systematic and detailed charge more than one of its accusations could have been substantiated,
but nothing of the sort occurred.
The Archdeacon his
son George and the manservant are completely acquitted, as the accusers fail in all proof; and Rory MacKenzie though bound
over to appear until Janet Thornton shall have been found is equally "passed from pursuit".
During this action
several persons had stood surety for the Archdeacon and others until their innocence was proved, and on the Archdeacon’s
side we find McKenzie, of Kintail, Maister John McKenzie, "parson of Dingwall" and "Patrick Graeme in Auchterarder" for 2000
pounds whilst there are also back and forward sureties for the Archdeacon and Rory McKenzie not to harm each other, showing
a strong breach in the friendship of the men who had formerly stood by each other, into which breach their "devoted friend
and kinsman" as he is styled, Kenneth of Kintail, throws himself as surety or cautioner. It must not be supposed such actions
as these were either uncommon occurrences, or confined to the north country. Down in Perthshire’s more peaceful and
perhaps more sober living Strath, we find the Grahams of Panhoillos in open feud with Sir John Murray of Tullibardine, who
with his son and heir is bound over not to harm Robert Graeme of Panhoillos or Elizabeth Drummond, his mother – while
again John Hamilton of Blair is the cautioner that these two latter shall not harm Sir John Murray and on 23 January 1592,
John Erle of Monteith has had to find surety of 10,000 merks "that he sall on nawayis invade not perseu Walter Lecky of that
Ilk his kin etc in the deedlie feid standing betweixt him and his saides friendis".
We can well believe,
however, that the righteous wrath and indignation of the Archdeacon would reach a high pitch, and he thoroughly awakened by
the fact, that Rory Mackenzie’s foolish escapade should have brought his own name forward in such a matter, to the probably
scandal of his sacred profession, and it is quite possible some strong words would be forthcoming on the Archdeacon’s
part in the heat of remonstrance and defence.
But for all that it
would seen that the strength of Robert Graeme had been stretched to its last span, and the proud imperious spirit shaken to
its deepest depth – one beyond the strength of the frail body, now about eighty years of age.
June 1602 is the last date in the Records on which his name appears, and on November 4th 1602, Munro of Foulis
is bound over not to harm George Graham son of the "late Archdeacon of Ross," so the stern upright spirit has passed to rest,
leaving his nephew George of Inchbrakie to bear the dignities of the Church, and his son George Drynie to continue the line
of that Estate in the succeeding generations.