A Book of the Graemes

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Title Page
Preface (v)
Sketch of Graeme Decent Through the Noble House of Montrose (xvii)
Images to Sketch of Grame Decent
Sketch I Patrick Graeme, 1st Great Baron of Inchbrakie and Aberruthven (1)
Sketch II The Younger Children and Widow of Patrick, the First Great Baron of Inchbrakie (6)
Sketch III Robert Graeme, Archdeacon of Ross, Younger Son of the First Great Baron (10)
Sketch IV George Graeme, 2nd Baron of Inchbrakie (19)
Sketch V Widow and Children of George Graeme (27)
Sketch VI George Graeme, Bishop of Orkney, Retland and Dunblane (35)
Images to Sketch VI
Sketch VII Patrick Graeme, Third Baron of Inchbrakie (66)
Sketch VIII Widow and Younger Children of Patrick Graeme (90)
Images to Sketch VIII
Sketch IX George Graeme, Fourth Baron of Inchbrakie (104)
Images to Sketch IX
Sketch X The Younger Children of George and Marget Keith, his Wife (118)
Sketch XI Patrick V of Inchbrakie 'Black Pate' (134)
Images to Sketch XI
Sketch XII Col Patrick Graeme of the Town Guard and his Family (186)
Images to Sketch XII
Sketch XIII John Graeme, Postmaster General (216)
Sketch XIV James Graeme, Solicitor General (223)
Sketch XV Daughters of Black Pate (230)
Images to Sketch XV
Sketch XVI George Graeme, 6th Baron of Inchbrakie (248)
Sketch XVII Younger Son & Daughters of George Graeme (259)
Sketch XVIII Patrick Graeme, 7th Baron of Inchbrakie (262)
Images to Sketch XVIII
Sketch XIX George Graeme, 8th in-line, son of Patrick (276)
Sketch XX Patrick Graeme, 8th Baron of Inchbrakie (284)
Images to Sketch XX
Sketch XXI Younger Sons and Daughters of the 8th Baron (317)
Images to Sketch XXI
Sketch XXII George Graeme, 9th Baron of Inchbrakie (340)
Sketch XXIII Patrick and Younger Sons and Daughter of George Graeme, 9th of Inchbrakie (360)
Images to Sketch XXIII
Sketch XXIV George Drummond Graeme 10th of Inchbrakie and Patrick Graeme 11th (395)
Images to Sketch XXIV
Sketch XXV The Witch's Relic (406)
Images to Sketch XXV
Sketch XXVI Graemes of Monzie, Pitcairns & Buchlyvie (413)
Sketch XXVII The Graemes of Orchill (432)
Images to Sketch XXVII
Sketch XXVIII The Graemes of Gorthie and Braco (454)
Images to Sketch XXVIII
Sketch XXIX The Graemes of Graemeshall in Orkney (497)
Sketch XXX The House of Graham and Watt of Breckness and Orkney (513)
Sketch XXXI Kathrine Graeme, Daughter of George, Bishop of Dunblane (524)
Sketch XXXII Graemes of Drynie (540)
Images to Sketch XXXII
Sketch XXXIII Graeme of Damside and Graeme of Duchray (547)
Sketch XXXIV The Graemes of Garvock (557)
Sketch XXXV The Graemes of Balgowan (572)
Images to Sketch XXXV
Sketch XXXVI Grames, Greymes, Grahams of Callendar; Aberuthven, Kernock, Kinross Cossington (592)
Sketch XXXVII Grahams of Airth & Graham-Stirling of Strowan (604)
Sketch XXXVIII The Graemes of Fintry, Claverhouse, Duntrune and other Cadets (616)
Images to Sketch XXXVIII
Appendix I
Appendix II
Appendix III
Appendix IV
Appendix V
Appendix VI
Index A
Index B
Index C
Index D, E & F
Index G
Index H
Index I, J, K & L
Index M & N
Index O, P, Q & R
Index S
Index T, U, V, W & Y

The Witch’s Relic

belonging to the House of Inchbrakie

The "Knock" stands high above the little country town of Crieff, which used in former days to be styled the ‘ Gate of the Highlands"; there in the fifteenth century Tosach came down from his Highland castles, and monthly hung a culprit to prove his power of " Life and death."

There may still be seen the gallows hill Tam-a-chastel where this was done; and in that town one may yet meet men who remember their grand-fathers speaking of the "’15" and "’45," and there, for many a year, the great cattle market was held, till transferred to Falkirk.

The Knock, before the great storm of 1893, was crested with fine conifers, whose blue green branches could have told many a tale, from that of foray and of raid, from gathering of clans with target and broad-sword, to the steady marching of troops up the high road to Comrie, where Black Pate had swung with his Highlanders of Atholl district in 1646, to meet and defeat Cromwell’s troops at Callander; from al these, to the tender whispered words of lovers beneath their branches on a summer evening, and to one wild weird scene under the "King’s Craig," where a party of ignorant country folk permitted license (by their Laird of Monzie), burnt an unfortunate woman for witchcraft in those dark and troubled days of the Rebellion of 1715 to 1720; days in which lawlessness found a vent for itself in wrecking not only homes and villages and records of the nation, but lives of the defenceless in the land.

The Witch of Monzie" has caused endless discussion and argument; no authentic record of her death appears, but it was impossible in the district of Crieff for the enquirer to go into a house or cottage (even thirty years ago) and ask, "Have you ever heard of the Witch of Monzie," without receiving the reply in the affirmative; then there is Kate M’Niven’s Cave, where, when haunted from her home in the Kirktown of Monzie, she took refuge, living there comfortably enough while many sought her in secret, for her cures and so-called charms.

The Cave is there now under the face of the King’s Craig. Just below her little hiding-place poor Kate’s fire was piled, and there she met her doom and gave her blessing and her stone to the Inchbrakie, who was said to be her foster-son.

Many books on witchcraft and on the history of the district contain her story given more or less correctly. Where there is no authentic record to refer to, such histories are written down with many additions. The most erroneous is that Inchbrakie’s son was the instigator to her burning, but that Inchbrakie himself saved her!’ That tale is an impossibility: Kate would never have blessed the house, and in the future the man who had brought her to the stake!

The "New Statistical Account," 1844, drawn up entirely by ministers of the various parishes, alludes to Inchbrakie’s relic, and how it reached him. Mr James Fergusson tells the story quite simply, certain of the accuracy of his statement; while Mr John Omond says that though there is no record of her conviction. it is possible she was, in accordance with the custom of the Privy Council at that period, tried under its commission by a local committee of the gentry and ministers.

Both this last volume and the New Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland (1896) place the date of Kate M’Niven’s death between 1710 and 1723.

Mr Kirkpatrick Sharpe of Hoddam Castle tells the story without a date while "Sketches of the Olden Time" by Mr Fittis, and the "Holocaust or Witch of Monzie" by the Reverend George Blair, give the date more positively as 1715.

The witch who was burnt by the judgment of the committee mentioned by Mr Blair was Violet Mar, 1577. His poem on Kate lays the scene during the early years of 1700, and he adds that the minister of Monzie in 1721, Mr W. Simpson, found the parish and people in a heathenish condition.

Mr Blair states that the last witch burnt in Scotland was in 1722 at Dornock.

Being very anxious to bring exact data to this sketch and to poor Kate M’Niven, communication has taken place with anyone likely to have records of the occurrence in the neighbourhood ; beyond the fact that all stoutly believed in the occurrences no one could produce written evidence of the period, but said it had been handed down from father to son, and that the name of the Craig bore testimony to the tradition.

A resident in Crieff gives the information in addition to verifying the legend, that the very ancient gateway that spans the Shaggie at Monzie village, and which leads to the Manse and to the Green, has been known since the days of the witch as " Kate M’Niven’s Yett?; she passed through it on her way to the Craig which still bears her name, " Kate M’Niven’s Craig," and not far from that stands " Kate M’Niven’s Well."

A well-known inhabitant of the village of Gilmerton, who has made local lore a special study from his childhood and bears much of the tradition of the place in his head (James Taylor, " Provost of Gilmertoun "), said he had heard this story with all its details, and he added that there used to be a stone on the top of the Gate through which poor Kate was hunted to her doom, which stone has been always called " Kate M’Niven."

The Rev. Hugh Jamieson was most anxious, like myself, to obtain authority direct for his article ?A Southern Outpost of the Highlands," and wrote to me on the subject. We were both assisted by the late Mr Maxtone Graham of Cultoquhey, a strong believer in the tradition, which I now relate much in the same words as I wrote Mr Jamieson.

Our mother was the first person who instilled into her children’s ears the

M’Niven. story of the Witch of Monzie. We were living at the time near Inchbrakie, on the outskirts of Crieff, and the Knock was a well-known place to us, our walk often extending to the side whereon was Kate’s cave, looking down over the mansion-house of Monzie, and naturally the scene which occurred was vividly pictured by us.

Our mother was a woman of unusual intelligence and great charm of intellect, not at all likely to yield to ignorant superstition or conviction. An Irish woman in the best sense of the word, she came to Scotland, seeking to love her husband’s home and relations, his house and its records. Never was intention so perfectly carried out, and the interesting facts of her own connections and life were always sunk when speaking to her children of their family and descent. Mrs Laurence Graeme came to Scotland a bride in 1828, and naturally her father-in-law, Colonel Graeme, the ninth baron, fell a victim to the charm of a lovely girl, who was prepared to reverence him and all that belonged to his family.

It was from his lips that she heard the records of the house that claimed her beloved husband as its son; and well were they learned!

Colonel Graeme had been born in 1753, so that his knowledge of the tale must have been from his father, who was born before the occurrence.

As may be remembered in the previous sketches, the actual Inchbrakie of the witch’s day, the seventh baron, was under extradition, though it was thought that he returned before the remission of his sentence in 1720.

If Kate’s death occurred in 1715 he may have been present at it; if not, his son George, or his brother Patrick, would be the Inchbrakie of the day.

If, however, as may be justly assumed according to the ?Statistical Act" and " Ordnance Gazetteer," the event occurred 1720 to 1722, there can be no question that the seventh baron was present in person, and did his best for the poor victim.

Now for the story as we heard it. The Inchbrakie of the day, hearing that some occurrence of the kind was contemplated, directed his usual morning ride to Monzie; on arrival at the scene he was dismayed to find that matters had proceeded so far that poor Kate was already affixed to the stake, and the pile about to be ignited. All that one man could do against a strong opposition he did, he appealed to their humanity, their reason and their hearts; he made loud and angry protest, all to no avail; no time was there to call to the scene such authority as might disperse the crowd; (for a mighty concourse for so thinly populated a district had assembled); ere he could have ridden the three miles to Crieff and back, the flames would have ended Kate M’Niven’s life. To the last minute he hoped the people would hearken to him and would extinguish the freshly lighted pile; then the so-called witch seeing her fate was sealed, spoke with deep and heavy curse. She cursed the Laird of Monzie, on whose land her murder was committed. From father to son she said Monzie shall never pass, no heir of line should ever hold the lands now held by him; then she cursed the Kirktoun of Monzie; in future year by year its size and population should decrease, no share in all the growing prosperity of the surrounding towns and villages it should hold, and ever by some hearth amidst its cottage homes should there crawl an idiot with lolling tongue and rolling eye.

Then she turned, and stooping her head till her lips touched her breast on which lay a necklace, she seized it in her firm, strong teeth, and bit it through, casting it from her mouth toward Inchbrakie; she blessed him for his kind heart, and noble efforts on her behalf, then bade him keep secure and fast in his possession and on his house and lands, the dark blue bead which was upon the relic she had cast at him. So long as that is done, cried Kate, Inchbrakie’s laird shall never want a son nor Inchbrakie’s son his lands, and with a last effort she added, that from the Craig under which she burnt should Inchbrakie receive benefit!

It is not surprising that Kate’s curse and blessing lingered long in the Laird of Inchbrakie’s ears, or that he scarcely spoke of the scene which must have haunted him often afterwards.

The ring was shown to Mrs Laurence Graeme; for the " blue stone " was a moonstone sapphire, and had been preserved by being quaintly placed between two brilliants of different shape, the gold setting partly embossed and ornamented with a curious shade of blue enamel; her father-in-law slipped it on her finger, as he did to all the wives of his three sons; his own daughter was never allowed to wear it, as it was not possible for her to bring an heir to Inchbrakie!

And what of the witch’s curse and blessing?

By coincidence or accident, Monzie has never since been owned from

father to son; Monzie Kirktoun still stands, but has grown smaller; and always an idiot dwells in the village. A few years after the death of Kate M’Niven some of Inchbrakie’s lands were in wadsett, and would have passed to other hands; money was urgently needed to stave off the evil day, and the Laird sent a messenger to the "Bank of Strathearn " as BaIgowan was then laughingly called, for he had ever spare cash at hand to lend a cousin or a friend. The bag containing the gold asked for was carried to the stable and placed in the cloak bag then carried on every saddle; as the groom led the horse out, the protruding bag stuck on the lintel of the narrow door, but he pushed it through, mounted and rode off; the stone above that doorway had been cut from the King’s Craig, beneath which Kate M’Niven had burned.

Another century and more passed over and the eleventh baron had come of age and was starting with his regiment the 79th Cameron Highlanders for India. Mrs Laurence Graeme was then living on the outskirts of Crieff near Inchbrakie (a widow like her sister-in-law). Inchbrakie House was to be let, the charter chest was sent to Mrs Laurence Graeme to be taken charge of whilst the family house was in possession of strangers.

Her nephew visiting her, opened the box, carrying into the dining- room some papers he wished his aunt to see; amongst them was a small but quaint-looking box or casket. I was present, and with girlish curiosity opened it to find?a ring. Never shall I forget my mother’s horror and dismay as she turned and saw the precious relic?no longer held on the lands of Inchbrakie. There is little more to add. Accident or coincidence or fate were at work once more; who shall say which?

A few years after the removal of the relic from Inchbrakie the first Lands of acres of the Aberuthven portion of the property was sold, bit by bit the lands slipped from the old barony, and so far the eleventh baron has no son to gather them again.

But the spirit of tradition never dies, and the pride and valour of hope

in a Highland heart is never crushed; so we live and dream, though we must wait and work and seek, till an older saying than that of the poor witch shall be fulfilled. The old Gaelic prophecy which bids us know that, when ?the Graemes find the Silver Hand," then shall ?their lands return again to those who have lost them!?

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