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Glenbuchat Heritage

56 Earl of Fife
The Glenbuchat Image Library
56 Earl of Fife

Glenbucket has had a number of owners over the years.

Between 1736 and 1883 the Glen was part of the estates of the Earl of Fife.

Compared with the colourful history of the other landowners in the area, The Earl of Fife has left little record of his family’s time in Glenbuchat.

The following are some details about the Earl himself and his involvement in the glen. The picture above is from a plaque in Glenbuchat Old Church

William Duff of Dipple, born 1653, died 1722,
Married first in 1681, Jean Gordon of Edinglassie,
they had nine childrren; six daughters and three sons.
Married second, 1703, Jean Dunbar of Durn, they had one son and four daughters.
A successful businessman then prospering principally as a banker, or old-fashioned money-lender, but active also in every aspect of foreign trade, both import and export, north of Aberdeen. He was ever ready to help local lairds with their liquidity problems, and was even faster when foreclosing on the lands they had given him as security.

William Duff, 1st Earl Fife (1696 – 30 September 1763)
The son of William Duff of Dipple,
In 1719 he married Janet Ogilvie, daughter of James Ogilvy, 4th Earl of Findlater.
She died in 1720 and
In 1723 he married Jean Grant, daughter of Sir James Grant, Bt.
He inherited substantial estates from his father on his death in 1722. He inherited £30,000 in cash, a rent roll of £6,500 a year, and unencumbered estates, in all totalling substantial wealth at that time.
He purchased Glenbuchat in 1736
He was Member of Parliament for Banffshire from 1727–34, and was created Lord Braco of Kilbryde in the Peerage of Ireland on 28 July 1735, and Earl Fife and Viscount Macduff, also in the peerage of Ireland, by letters patent dated 26 April 1759, after proving his descent from Macduff, Earl of Fife.
He commissioned the construction of Duff House in Banff in 1740.
He continued the policy of his family by purchasing further large estates in the counties of Aberdeen, Banff, and Moray, and managed all his possessions with much care and ability. Two years after his father’s death he rebuilt the castle of Balveny, and between 1740 and 1745 he built the splendid mansion of Duff House at a cost of £70,000. During the Jacobite rebellion in 1745 he joined the Duke of Cumberland, and offered the Government his free services in any way that might be desired. By his first wife, a daughter of the Earl of Findlater and Seafield, he had no children, but he married again, a daughter of Grant of Grant, and two of his sons in succession inherited the earldom.

James Duff, 2nd Earl Fife (1729 – 1809) was born to William Duff, 1st Earl Fife, and Jean Grant (daughter of Sir James Grant of Pluscardine, Baron of Luss & Grant), on 29 September 1729.
He succeeded his Father as Earl Fife in 1763, which he held until his death in 1809. He was created Baron Fife in the Peerage of Great Britain in 1790, a title that became extinct on his death.
He married Dorothea Sinclair in 1766. She bore him no children. However he had three children by his mother's personal maid, Margaret Adam of Keith, all of whom were born before his marriage to Sinclair.
He was Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire from 1794 until his death.
In 1754 he became Member of Parliament for Banffshire, a position he held for 30 years until 1784.
He gave the Banff town of Macduff its name, having changed it from Doune in 1783. He extended the town and built a harbour ensuring economic prosperity.
He was then Member of Parliament for Elginshire from 1784 until 1790.
Duff was one of the most powerful and influential men in Aberdeenshire, Banffshire and Morayshire due to his massive estate. Due to his political commitments in Westminster, the running of the Estate was largely left to his factors - in particular William Rose of Ballivant.
For his service to Duff, Rose was awarded many political favours. First, Duff gave Rose a vote in three different constituencies (Aberdeenshire, Banffshire, Morayshire), he appointed him the first Provost of Macduff, and latterly the Sheriff Clerk of Banffshire. He was an enthusiastic politician, a clever and acquisitive landowner, and he worked hard to earn a good local reputation and the influence that brought.
This is an example of the great patronage Duff possessed.
James, by careful purchase he nearly doubled the size of the family estates, and he changed the name of the town of Doune, where Duff House was situated, to Macduff, procuring for the place at the same time a royal charter as a burgh. He married the only child of the ninth Earl of Caithness, but died without male issue, when his peerage of the United Kingdom of course expired.
He died at age 80 without issue
Upon James' death without male issue the English peerage, Baron Fife, became extinct, the title Earl Fife, Irish peerage, was suceeded to his younger brother Alexander.

Alexander Duff, 3rd Earl Fife (18 April 1731 – 17 April 1811)
Duff was the son of William Duff, 1st Earl Fife and younger brother of James Duff, 2nd Earl Fife.
He briefly held the title Earl Fife, and was succeeded by his eldest son. His younger son was General Hon. Alexander Duff.
He died at Duff House, Banff.
Alexander, who succeeded as third Earl in 1809, married a daughter of Skene of Skene, and in consequence his son James, who became the fourth Earl, succeeded to the estates of Skene and Cariston in 1827. This Earl. distinguished himself during the Peninsular War. He volunteered his services, became a Major-General in the Spanish army fighting against Napoleon, and was twice wounded, at the battle of Talavera and at the storming of Fort Matagorda near Cadiz. In consequence, he was made a Knight of the Order of St. Ferdinand of Spain and of the Sword of Sweden. He was also made a Knight of the Thistle and G.C.H., and in 1827 was made a peer of the United Kingdom as Baron Fife. In private life he was notable as an art collector, and the towns of Elgin, Banff, and Macduff owed much to his generosity. He died, however, without issue, and was succeeded by James, son of his, brother, Sir Alexander Duff of Delgaty Castle, as fifth Earl. This Earl’s wife was a daughter of the seventeenth Earl of Errol and Lady Elizabeth Fitz Clarence, daughter of King William IV. He was Lord-Lieutenant of Banffshire, and was made a peer of the United Kingdom as Baron Skene in 1857 and a Knight of the Thistle in 1860.

James Duff, 4th Earl Fife, KT, GCH (6 October 1776 – 9 March 1857)
Duff was the son of Alexander Duff, 3rd Earl Fife and Mary Skene.
On 9 September 1799, he married Lady Maria Caroline Manners (d. 1805), daughter of John Manners and Louisa Tollemache, 7th Countess of Dysart, but the couple had no children.
He volunteered to help the Spaniards against Napoleon, and fought at the Battle of Talavera as a major-general in the Spanish service.
He was Lord Lieutenant of Banffshire from 1813–1856.
He was Member of Parliament for Banffshire from 1818 to 1827.
In 1827 he inherited Skene House in Aberdeenshire from his mother's family.
He was appointed a Knight of the Thistle and created Baron Fife in the Peerage of Great Britain in 1827. This title became extinct on his death.
This Earl. distinguished himself during the Peninsular War. He volunteered his services, became a Major-General in the Spanish army fighting against Napoleon, and was twice wounded, at the battle of Talavera and at the storming of Fort Matagorda near Cadiz. In consequence, he was made a Knight of the Order of St. Ferdinand of Spain and of the Sword of Sweden. He was also made a Knight of the Thistle and G.C.H., and in 1827 was made a peer of the United Kingdom as Baron Fife. In private life he was notable as an art collector, and the towns of Elgin, Banff, and Macduff owed much to his generosity. When he died childless in 1857, his nephew, another James Duff, inherited the titles as 5th Earl and 4th Baron.

James Duff, 5th Earl Fife (6 July 1814 – 7 August 1879)
Duff was the son of Sir Alexander Duff, younger brother of James Duff, 4th Earl Fife and Anne Stein, the daughter of James Stein.
He was Member of Parliament for Banffshire from 1837 to 1857;
His brother, George Skene Duff, was Member of Parliament for Elgin Burghs.
He was created Baron Skene, of Skene, in the Peerage of the United Kingdom, in 1857.
In 1845, he resided at 30 Pall Mall, London and at Delgatie Castle. [1]
In 1846 he married Lady Agnes Georgiana Elizabeth Hay, daughter of William Hay, 18th Earl of Erroll and Lady Elizabeth FitzClarence (an illegitimate daughter of William IV). This Earl’s wife was a daughter of the seventeenth Earl of Errol and Lady Elizabeth Fitz Clarence, daughter of King William IV.
They had four daughters and one son, Alexander, created Duke of Fife in 1889.

Alexander William George Duff, 1st Duke of Fife KG, KT, GCVO, PC, VD (10 November 1849 – 12 January 1912),
Styled Viscount Macduff between 1857 and 1879 and known as The Earl Fife between 1879 and 1889, was a British Peer who married Princess Louise of Wales, the third child and eldest daughter of Edward VII of the United Kingdom and Alexandra of Denmark.
Glenbuchat estate sold 1883
Alexander William George, sixth Earl Fife, who was to be the last male of the more modern line. Before succeeding to the peerage he became Lord-Lieutenant of Elginshire, and he was M.P. for Elgin and Nairn from 1874. He was also Captain of the Corps of Gentlemen at Arms, and was a highly popular peer. The climax of the fortunes of his family was reached when in 1889 he married Her Royal Highness the Princess Louise, eldest daughter of the Prince of Wales, afterwards the late King Edward. Already, in 1889, he had been created an Earl of the United Kingdom, and two days after his marriage he was made a Duke. In 1900, seeing he had no sons, he was further created Earl of Macduff and Duke of Fife, with special remainder to his first and other daughters by the Princess Louise, and their male issue, and in 1905 his wife received the title of the Princess Royal, while her daughters were ordained to bear the title of Princess and to rank immediately after all members of the Royal Family bearing the style of Royal Highness. A great sensation was caused, when in 1912, the vessel in which the Duke and his Duchess, with their two daughters, were sailing to the east, was shipwrecked in the Mediterranean. None of the family was drowned, but the Duke’s health gave way, and he died shortly afterwards. He was succeeded in the honours and estates of the dukedom by his elder daughter, Her Highness the Princess Alexandra Victoria Duff, who in the following year married H.R.H. Prince Arthur of Connaught. The ancient line of the Duffs, therefore, has now merged in a branch of the reigning house of these realms.

The Earls of Fife and Glenbuchat

John Gordon ‘Old Glenbucket’ sold his estate of Glenbuchat ‘under redemption, as it was called’ to the Earl of Fife, The greater part went to William Duff of Braco, the first Lord Fife, in 1731. The inhabitants are all employed in agriculture: the parish is the property of the Earl of Fife, and its rateable annual value amounts to £989.By 1738 the castle had been abandoned as the Gordon family home and was already partly unroofed when it was sold to the Duff Earl of Fife.

From: A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland (1846),
The parish is the property of one heritor, (the Earl of Fife);
Glenbuchat Lodge, 1840, by Earl of Fife. Built as shooting box,
The glen, and much of the North-East, was subsequently bought by John Duff, who later became Earl Fife of Duff House, Banff, and as Laird he and his successors granted ‘tacks’ (lease of land) and collected rents until the end of the 19th century.

1845 Statistical account
The Earl of Fife is sole heritor of the parish as well as superior of the estates that once belonged to the ancient and powerful Earls of Mar. The parochial registers of late years have been kept correctly. This summer an excellent porter's lodge has been built by the Earl of Fife's orders at Badenyon, which will be of great benefit to that remote and celebrated spot.
The inhabitants are all employed in agriculture as farmers crofters and farm servants with a few mechanics. The soil is generally very good and were the farms properly arranged and leases of proper endurance given great improvements would certainly take place. There is excellent limestone easily wrought yielding upwards of seventy per cent and inexhaustible peat moss of superior quality. Draining enclosing and planting would greatly ameliorate the climate and although the humane and truly benevolent proprietor the Earl of Fife gives very little encouragement here yet the people are farming notwithstanding their many disadvantages on the most improved system of agriculture raising good crops of turnips potatoes hay bear and oats. The Mains farm at the castle is perhaps as well managed in every respect as any in Scotland. Roads are much wanted. It is to be wished that the Noble proprietor may soon turn his attention to the improvement of this beautiful but still much neglected part of his princely estates

From a Guide to Donside 1852
The parish of Glenbucket occupies the strath washed by the stream Bucket from whence it is named. The name is Gaelic and signifies the Strath of Male Deer. The Earl of Fife has a Hunting Lodge here called Backies also from the Gaelic signifying an impending or obstruction.
Near the Backies stood the old Castle of Badenyon ie Bird's Bush surrounded by a deep fosse and protected by a tower once the residence of the celebrated John O Badenyon. Tradition says it was reared by some of the Mowat family in the thirteenth century. Here stands Muat's Stone formerly alluded to The subject of the following ballad was one of the gay Gordons of Glenbucket

Four and twenty nobles sat in the king's ha
Bonnie Glenlogie is the flower among them a
In came Lady Jane skipping on the floors
And she has chosen Glenlogie mong a that were there
She turn d to his footman and thus she did say
O what is his name and where does he stay
His name is Glenlogie when he is from home
He is of the gay Gordons his name it is John
Glenlogie Glenlogie an you will prove kind
My love is laid on you I m telling my mind
He turn d about lightly as the Gordons do a
I thank you Lady Jane my love's promised awa
She called on her maidens her bed for to make
Her rings and her jewels all from her to take
In eame Jeanie's father a wae man was he
Says I’ll wed you to Drumfendrick he has more gold than he
Her father's own chaplain being a man of great skill
He wrote him a letter and indited it well
The first lines he looked at a light laugh laugh’d he
But ere he read through it the tears blinded his e’e
O pale and wan look d she when Glenlogie came in
But even rosy grew she when Glenlogie sat down
Turn round Jeanie Melville turn round to this side
And I’ll be the bridegroom and you’ll be the bride
O t’was a merry wedding and the portion down told
Of bonnie Jeanie Melville who was scarce sixteen years old

From Life in Glen Nochty
As it was more usual for the tenants of Strathdon to owe arrears of rent to the lairds, it is interesting to see from the following letters that at least in 1789 two tenants in Glen Nochty had savings, which they in effect banked with their landlord, the Earl of Fife. But they felt obliged to express their unhappiness at the reduction from five per cent to four and a half in the interest the Earl intended to pay (letters transcribed from Duff House Papers MS 3175/1669 by kind permission of Lady Saltoun and Aberdeen University Historic Collections).

To William Rose Esq Factor to Lord Fife
Torrancroy Novr 2nd 1789
I was sometime ago informed by Mr James Stuart that Lord Fife had alow’d him to acquaint those of his Tennants who had any money in his Lordships hands, that their annual rent was to be Reduced to four & half per cent.In consequence of this acct from Mr Stuart ,I went to Marr Lodge in expectation of your being there, along with his Lordship, but as I was not so lucky as find you there. I mentioned it to Lord Fyfe, who desired me to aply to Mr Rose. Without saying anything further upon the matter & which indeed was all I wish’d, for as I have all ways experienced your goodness & favours in all the applications I have ever made to you and though it is not in my power to make return for your favours I have no doubt you will be willing to [hurt] my do anything to my [hurt]. I would therefore begg the liberty to ask the favour of you if it is possible that my Triffle {small amount} may be continued unreduced as I would fain hope I will be entirely in your power as his Lordship has remitted me to you. You will no doubt Sir know I wish to have my small sum Lodgd in his Lordships hand on the terms he is pleasd with, yet I hope you will, according to your ordinary goodness & sympathie, make the best of it possible as I refferr it entirely to yourself. Forgive the liberty I have taken to trouble you with the above. Be so good as drop me a line by the Bearer -
And Sir I ever am with the most Sincere Regard and esteem your most humble & most obedt servt
James Mchardy

To Alexander [R]ose Esq of mount coffer Commissioner to the Right Honourable James Earl of Fife at Duff House
Belnabodach Nov 2nd 1789
As I was meeting with his Lordship at marr lodge concerning some cash. I had to settle for interest. I made an offer of five hundred pound to his Lordship upon giving me five per cent for it, but he would not concent to allow but four & an half for it. You know very well that I have the dearest farm in all his Lordship’s interest & that he should allow me five per cent for mony even supose he were not giving, but four & an half to others. [?] I made an offer of belnabodach to him at that time, but he seemd to decline it. Therefore as I have three or four hundred pound sterling of mony to settle at the Aberdeen’s. [term] I hope youll acquaint me if his Lordship take it. You should see to prevail with him to allow me five per cent for it as you know well I would need it. Considering the bad bargain I have, his Lordship was willing to take [others] mony at four & an half when I [communed] with them. Therefore youll do me the favour as acquaint me be this. [?] If his Lordship is to take this mony at either of this terms or who shall receive whatever sum I can give at the term at Abd. I shall acquaint you [or] the term of the particular sum I can give his Lordship but I want percizly to receive it from me the very day I get it at Abd. With his Lordship’s security or yours. until I get his Lordships, youll not faill in sending me an answer as to this letter that I may know whether his Lordship is to take this mony or not I would wish to know who I shall give this mony to. [ ] The term day as I will not be willing to go to Duff House with it be sure to send me an answer to the above by this sure hand & I conclude & am Sir Your most Obnt. & very humble servt Peter Farqrson

Although the Earl of Fife was a, ‘absentee landlord’ he did come occasionally
“This Wm. Brodie married in 1730 either a Miss Forbes or Farquharson. He was tenant of Delfranky, Strathdon, Aberdeenshire, and annually treated Lord Fife to a glass of whisky on the occasion of his passing to Braemar.”

From a Cabrach Diary 1836-1887

Although not Glenbuchat it is the next parish also owned by the Earl of Fife
“A General Election
July 26. The Queen has dissolved the British Parliament in person. There is a tremendous canvass in Banffshire between Capt. Ferguson Pitfour, the late candidate, and Mr Duff, nephew of Lord Fife, for the Liberal interest.
July 31. Tidings have arrived that the nomination of a candidate for Aberdeen county took place this day. Capt. Gordon, the former member, the only candidate, on appearing at the Cross, upon hearing the writ read, was taken by surprise when Burnet of Leys was proposed in opposition. It has created a great stir in the country, the Whigs having every district canvassed before the hour of sunset. Accounts of the thunderstorm of the 19th from all quarters of the kingdom – It has been remarkably severe, numbers of human beings have perished by the lightning, also horses, cattle, &c.
August 8. Attended the Banffshire election at Keith. Mr Duff carried the county by a majority of 78.
October 5. Attended a ball at the New Castle, Balveny given to the voters by James Duff, MP. Commenced putting oats on Bogfold the same day.

Not everyone was keen to sell to the Earl of Fife
The following is a quote from Nathaniel Forbes of Auchernach
"The Earl of Fife's factor wrote to him in India, telling him that the Earl had bought up all the property near Auchernack, and that his little patch was now surrounded on every side, and he thought it was no use for him to keep it longer, for the Earl would give him a good price for it. The patriotic old General sent the following characteristic reply : " Tell him that I would sooner part with the skin of my face."

A report of the Earl of Fife's Annual visit to Glenbuchat
From the Aberdeen Journal Oct 23 1850

Glenbucket - Monday the 7th inst. was celebrated as the natal day of the Right Hon. the Earl of Fife, by his lordship’s tenantry in the parishes of Glenbucket and Strathdon. In the early part of the day, demonstrations of rejoicing were everywhere to be seen; on many farms flags of variegated descriptions were waving in the breeze, some of them bearing the inscription, "Long life to good Lord Fife." In the afternoon, a number of young men carried a small canon to the top of the “ Craig." :and, after raising a flag, fired several rounds, until the surrounding glens reverberated again.

Early in the evening, the Glenbucket tenantry began to assemble at Sunnybrae, and were there met by the Strathdon tenantry and a number of their friends, preceded by a piper in Highland costume. Alter a cordial interchange of sentiments, the ball commenced in an animated manner, and continued to fill up until all the “youth and beauty” of the parish were present, when Mr Grassick, Mains of Glenbucket, called for a bumper," and after suggesting that, while enjoying: themselves; they ought not to be unmindful of their duty to their superiors in an appropriate manner gave " the Queen”, and other loyal and patriotic toasts, which were cordially received. Mr Grassick then proceeded with the toast of the evening, and, amidst cheers and cries of` assent, expatiated on the innumerable evidences of the noble Earl’s kind-heartedness and benevolence of disposition, adding that, in all the vicissitudes of life, whether his lordship’s services had been required in the field. in the cabinet, or whether in retired life he had continued the unwavering friend of his tenantry, and benefactor of the poor; and that his example was worthy of being emulated by proprietors of every rank. He then concluded by giving " he Right Hon. the Earl of Fife," with nine times nine, wishing health stud happiness und many years to come. This toast was enthusiastically received with deafening cheers und shouts of applause. Mr Grassick then gave "General the Hon. Sir Alex. Duff;” “Lady Duff” and the ladies connected with the family." Mr Wattie, Milton, gave “James Duff Esq., M..P.:" "George Skene Duff, Esq, M.P.;" “James Findlater, Balvenie, and the other factors from the Fife estates. Mr. Grassick gave " The Rev. the Ministers of Glenbucket and Strathdon."
We need not say all these were cordially received. In the course of the night, several other toasts were given and cordially responded to.

In the course of the evening Mr. Duncan entertained the company by singing some excellent songs. The one which drew down upon its author the most heart cheers was sung and composed for the occasion by bi? Mr S. McHardy, Torrancroy a tenant of the noble Earl. The music was ab1y conducted by Mr. A. Duff Brodie, Buckie, assisted by others; and dancing was maintained with unflagging spirit, until the aspect of the eastern skies proclaimed the near approach of day, when the meeting began to retire, highly satisfied with the enjoyments of the night, and hoping that, when the wheels of time had run their annual round, they wold have the pleasure of meeting again on the same happy occasion.

In 1883 Henry Burra purchased the estate from the Duff family.

Picture added on 24 March 2010 at 23:58
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History Texts

126 Cattle Rustling in the Glen88 1696 Poll Book Belnacraig87 Original 1696 Poll Book91 Wandering in the Highlands 188185 Sketch of 'Old Glenbucket' about 174575 Peatfold70 New Statistical Account of Strathdon 184571 Descendants of the Great Glenbucket69 My First Detachment -The Glenbucket Inn4 St Margarets Chronicle Free afternoon Glenbuchat