The Lamont Harp; The physical evidence and historic context

by Keith Sanger

The current appearance of this old harp shows that it has not had a cosseted existence over the course of its lifetime. By building on our existing research on this harp reinforced by some of the new evidence from its recent physical examination by Karen Loomis and the National Museum of Scotland conservation department; the intention is to see if the harp and its historical back ground can be reconciled together. The main focus of this study will be on two interconnected periods in the life of the instrument. The first, naturally, on the nature of its original form and claimed ‘origin’, the second on the possibility that it was either comprehensively restored or re–built around the beginning of the seventeenth century during a period when the Barony of Lude was undergoing some major changes.

An examination of the basic Lude Family account of this instrument has already been covered in the general look at both of the Lude Harps and more specific focuses on each instrument.[1] As a result of the more recent work the previous information held by the museum that the sound boxes of both harps were made of hornbeam, (albeit viewed with a degree of scepticism by us), has now been conclusively identified as willow; a fact which breaks the previous ‘common factor’ and allows a more wide ranging examination of the origins of both instruments. Of necessity this means a far more exhaustive review of the family background at the period they claim the Lamont Harp first came into the families possession.

To recap, the tradition was that the harp came into their possession through a marriage between their ancestor Tearlach (or Charles), Robertson of Clune to Lilias daughter of Lamont of Lamont circa 1460. Unfortunately a lot of the family history has been biased by the later generations through their approaching it from a viewpoint that they represented one continuous line of Robertson’s of Lude with no hint that there were any breaks in their being ‘of Lude’. This can be seen in the first evidence among the Lude papers of someone trying to sketch out the family genealogy. This seems to have been done by James Robertson of Lude, (died 1803) and was the preparation for his matriculation (registration of armorial bearings) with the Court of the Lord Lyon in 1779.[2]

The ‘Lude line’ as recorded in the submission to the Lyon register not only makes every male in the line as ‘of Lude’ but shows a distinct lack of any critical approach to the papers from his own charter chest which would have shown that they could not all have been so called. This approach with a few minor improvements was also carried through to the first Robertson of Lude genealogy published in Burke’s ‘Landed Gentry’ of 1843–48 and carried through into the later editions.[3] This was not surprising since the information was supplied to Burke by Captain, as he then was, James Alexander Robertson of the 82nd Regiment who was the earlier Lude’s grandson.

Subsequently in 1860, having retired as Colonel of the 82nd and returned to Edinburgh, James Robertson published a reasonably well researched book entitled ‘Comitatus De Atholia’ which looked at the early history of the families in Atholl with specific entries on the various Robertson families including his own one of Lude. He had certainly made far more constructive use of the his own and other family archives but still with the emphasis on demonstrating that the ‘Lude’ line traced right back to the original Earls of Atholl and still with some curious omissions. For example the whole period during which Lude was in the hands of the Ogilvy’s of Inchmartine is passed over and although he includes Cluniemore and Cluniebeg as part of the lands of Lude he makes no mention of how they were acquired.[4]

No mention at all, is made of Tearlach (or Charles), of Clunie and his marriage to Lamont’s daughter and although the marriage of John Tearlachson to Beatrix Gardyne is briefly noted as bringing the lands of Inchmagranich into the family, he is described as John Robertson, (all references to the Tearlachson line are omitted),[5] and the presumption to the reader is that a ‘John Robertson of Lude’ had married Beatrix rather than showing a break in the direct line. However, the question of how Clunie came into the hands of the family and its place in the overall history of Lude is central to the background of the Lamont Harp especially in light of a date recently noticed inscribed inside the sound box.[6]

When examining the connection of Clunie with the Lude Estate the account by James Robertson in 1860 makes a good place to start. His first reference to Clunie is in a list of the ‘lands’ of Lude in which he implies they were all in the original Barony of Lude granted by the crown in 1452 to John Donaldson and his wife Margaret Drummond. The second appears in a contemporary list of ‘Landed Proprietors in the combined parishes of Blair, Strowan, Lude and Kilmaveonog and their then valued Rent within the Earldom of Atholl’ compiled in 1649. This lists Alexander Robertson paying for himself and his mother for the lands of Lude, but separately there is a John Robertson who was paying for his lands of Clunie.[7]

That this might indicate that Clunie was not part of the Barony of Lude does not seem to have occurred to that author, nor does he seem to have been aware of the two simultaneous legal actions that were raised by his father, General Robertson of Lude in 1803, the first requesting the House of Lords to set aside the Duke of Atholl’s title to the lands of Clunes and Strathgroy and in the second to set aside the Dukes title to the lands of Inchmagrenoch. The cases dragged on until May 1815 when the Lords decided both cases in favour of the Duke, and the cost to the already indebted estate of Lude was the final straw leading to the Robertson family losing Lude into the hands of its creditors on the death of General Robertson.[8]

The problem had started back in 1677 when the then Lude had assigned those three lands to Robertson of Fascally pending payment of the marriage dowry due to him from Lude. As was perennially the case with the Lude family the money to redeem the lands was never available and Robertson of Fascally wanting the money waited until 1688 before selling the three lands to the then Marquis of Atholl. It appears from the court record that before the sale Fascally had formerly obtained a charter of Infeftment for Inchmagrenoch but not Clunie or Strathgroy, the implication being that Atholl was already the feudal superior of those two lands.

This seemed to be confirmed when in 1691 John Lord Murray the eldest son of the Marquis of Atholl obtained a crown charter for the whole of the Earldom of Atholl which specifically mentioned Inchmagrenoch but not Clunie or Strathgroy which would have already been covered in the general description of the Earldom of Atholl, a point the Lords noted was not seriously disputed. That had continued to be the position with the Atholl family down to 1803 and the beginning of the actions brought by Lude. What was not clear as a result of this case was how long Atholl had been the feudal superior of Clunie and Strathgroy which certainly had been a heritable possession of members of the family associated with Lude.

To attempt to unravel the background to the lands of Clunie and Strathgroy we need to first consider the situation as it was just after 1621 when Campbell of Glenorchy sold the heritable proprietorship of the Barony of Lude to Alexander Robertson alias Tarlochson of Inchmagrenoch followed in 1624 by selling the feudal superiority to the Atholl Family. What Alexander Robertson had acquired was described as the ‘lands of the Barony of Lude along with Pitnacree’.[9] Although, what at that point, the ‘Barony of Lude’ comprised was not spelt out, but the attachment of Pitnacree indicated that the barony had undergone some changes since it was first created for John Donaldson and his spouse Margaret Drummond in 1452.

Pitnacree was the result of an excambion, (an exchange of two lands of equal value), between Patrick Ogilvy of Inchmartine and John, Earl of Atholl and his spouse Dame Marie Ruthven in 1589.[10] Long before then the lands of ‘Little Lude’ on the north side of the Fender burn had passed by marriage from the Lude family to the Thane (or Toisiche, hence the local name of Macintosh) of Glentilt. In turn through purchase, the whole Thanage of Glentilt had passed into the hands of the Atholl family in 1502.[11] Therefore even before the barony of Lude had passed into the hands of the Ogilvy family of Inchmartine, Little Lude including the parish church had been detached from the original lands of Lude. So what Alexander Robertson, who had immediately adopted the title ‘of Lude’ following its purchase, had acquired was the original barony without the lands on the north side of the Fender plus the addition of Pitnacree, but with a feudal superior who after 1624, was the then current representative of the Atholl family.

However further confusion has arisen over the years because not only Alexander but other members of the ‘Tarlochson’ family were already heritable tenants of lands in Lude as well as those lands which had formerly been part of or associated with Lude. As Alexander and his descendants slowly acquired the tenancies of these over the years the situation arose whereby the total lands held from the Atholl family by whoever was the current Robertson of Lude extended beyond the core barony, albeit the conditions of the actual feudal tenure from Atholl varied from land to land.

It is clear though that while Clune which was at that time held directly from Atholl by a John Tarlochson, a cousin of Alexander and was subsequently assigned to Lude himself, was not nor had been part of the original barony. Strathgroy though under its original names of ‘the two Leavages and Dauchinlialash’ probably had been but to try and identify the original barony of Lude is required before it is possible to start unlocking the background to Clune. Judging by the area covered by the Lude baron Court and the Lude rentals the original Lude seems to have correlated with the combined parishes of Lude along with the parish of Kilmaveonaig, the latter of which which includes Strathgroy.[12]

Clune however is in the parish of Struan, which suggests that it may have originally been part of the core lands of Struan which along with the addition of more land extending through towards Rannoch were erected into the Barony of Struan in 1451. But before considering the significance of this date with that inside the sound box of the Lamont Harp there are a number of points to be dealt with. While the Crown Charter issued under the Great Seal in 1451 detailed all the additional lands which were ‘united and incorporated into the free barony of Strowan’, (Struan) it did not breakdown what lands were already part of Strowan itself. However, Fascally was noticed and since the whole section of that north side of the river Garry from Clune down and including Fascally were part of the parish of Struan it is also likely that Clune was in fact part of the barony of Strowan.[13]

Clune continues to remain off the record until the beginning of the sixteenth century when in 1513 it emerges being held as a heritable tenancy in the hands of John Tarlochson and it would appear with the Earl of Atholl rather than Robertson of Strowan as its feudal superior. It is though possible to suggest how such a change of feudal superior came about, including a marriage between Alexander Robertson of Strowan and Isobel, daughter of John Earl of Atholl in 1465.[14] Having through his daughter gained one foot in the door, following the death of Alexander Robertson in 1505, his son, John the Master of Atholl was in 1507 made Baillie of Strowan for all the lands pertaining to the late Alexander Robertson which now pertaining to the King by reason of ward.

The take over was completed when in 1515 the Master, now the Earl of Atholl since his father had died in 1512, was given a precept of sasine by King James V of the lands and barony of Strowan which had been apprised by decreet of the Lords of Council from William Robertson of Strowan for default of payment of £1592 Scots.[15] The fact that this brought another large part of the former Earldom of Atholl which had originally been held by the family from which the Robertson’s descended, directly under the superiority of the new Stewart Earls of Atholl who were cousins of the royal line was not a coincidence.

To consider the overall significance of the date 1451, apart from the fact that it has been recorded inside the Lamont Sound box, requires a look at the wider historical background around that period. James II (born 1430), had just come of age and taken full control of the affairs of State. The granting of that charter incorporating Strowan along with considerably more additional lands into the new Barony of Strowan was specifically stated to have been for the service to the king by Robert Duncanson of Strowan for capturing the traitor Robert le Graham who was one of murderers of his father James I.

The King’s new active role in the crown matters also had implications for the family from which the Lamont harp is supposed to have gained its name. When Duncan Lamont the chief of that name died in 1448, John, his son and heir was still only eleven years old so as was normally the case, he was made a ward of the crown. However in this instance the ‘crown’ itself in the person of James II, was still short of its own full majority and so still constrained by his ‘governors’. At the point that the King gained his own majority in 1451, the young John Lamont had also just become fourteen years of age, which although still some years short of full majority was still under Scottish law a position of some legal status. It was the minimum age at which a male could get married.

John Lamont would then have assumed some of the responsibilities of a head of his family, which with the additional permission of the Crown may have involved arranging a marriage for his sister Lilias. It might also explain a marriage which apart from the harp and her retainers seems to have left little sign of a substantial dowry involving lands from either side. Until he reached the age of twenty–one John Lamont was still the ward of a Crown which was perennially short of money and the income from the Lamont lands would remain the perquisite of the King for a further seven years. John Lamont and his family were therefore existing on what was just an allowance made by the King from the Lamont rents. It would not have been in James II’s short term interest to lower the potential rental income from the Lamont lands by allowing any of them to be used as a dowry.

Across in Atholl there was also a complicated situation involving the man who it is claimed was the ‘Robertson’ side of the marriage. As the descendants of Duncan de Atholia through his son Patrick of Lude that family was similar to the Struan side in that their title to their lands originated from the now deceased Duncan . Which is why in 1447 Donald Patrickson had resigned his lands into the hands of the Crown so that he could be receive them back as a Crown Charter. Unfortunately he died before that could happen so the charter under the Great Seal was issued to his son John in 1448 and it was not until 1452 that another charter under the Great Seal actually erecting Lude into a Barony was given to John Donaldson.

Curiously although both charters still have fragments of the Great Seal attached, neither of them was actually recorded in the Register of the Great Seal of Scotland, (Registrum Magni Sigilli). Probably a reflection of the fact that these were still uncertain times in the governance of Scotland. The fact that in 1451 Lude, a much smaller estate, was not yet a Barony would not have been lost on the young Tearlach Johnson, nor that in any case his elder brother Donald Johnson was the first in line of inheritance for Lude. In the circumstances it does not seem unlikely that as his cousin Robert of Strowan had already received his Barony augmented with even more land, the young Tearlach opted to take a tack of some sort for Clunes.

As a heritable tenant of Clunes, Tearlach’s primary obligation would have been to his superior Robertson of Strowan which would explain his appearance in an instrument of Sasine in favour of John Earl of Atholl in 1474 where as ‘Carlet’ Johnson, he is listed among the witnesses who commence with Alexander Robertson of Strowan. Excluding Strowan himself and also excluding the three priests who come at the end, Tearlach is fourth out of eight names none of whom are given any specific designation. Probably like Tearlach himself most of the others would have been tenants of Strowan.[16] This association of the holder of Clunes with Strowan occurs again in 1540 when a charter granted by Robert Robertson of Strowan to Colin Campbell of Glenorchy was witnessed by George Robertson of Fascally, (the senor cadet of the of the Strowan line), and John Robertson alias Tarlasone of Cluny.[17]

Clunes or Clunie, from the Gaelic word meaning a pasture or meadowland was a very common place name especially around that part of Perthshire. It is still a good description of Clunes now where it sits on the lower slopes above the river Garry to the west of the Allt Chluain and separated from Lude by what is now the farm of Strathgroy, but which originally were the holdings of Dauchinlialash and the two Leavages. When Clunes first appears in any rentals it was a four merkland, so not a very large possession and making it unlikely that any marriage between Tearlach of Clunes and Lilias the sister of a young laird of Lamont represented a particularly valuable marriage catch in either direction. Explaining perhaps why, if she brought along a harper among her retainers a harp is the only remaining visible legacy.

In retrospect we now know that apparently it was to be a descendent of this union which albeit after quite a period of time and through a somewhat circuitous route was to regain the family lands of Lude in 1621. However, none of that could have been predicted at the time, nor from the evidence of the later attempts by the Robertsons of Lude to establish their genealogy do the events of that period seem to have left much of a mark in the family tradition. However, the events surrounding 1621 do seem to have left their mark on the Lamont Harp, so the background to reaching that point needs to be explored further.

The lands of Lude were erected into a Barony for John Donaldson in 1452, to be held by him and his heirs from Margaret Drummond and were in fact passed on down through their son Donald (the elder brother of Tearlach of Clunes). What happened thereafter is fairly clear although why actually raises many, mainly unanswered questions. At that time the family of Lude lived in the part of the Barony known today just as Monzie although at that time it was in two parts called Easter and Wester Monzie. Traditionally the Lude family home was said to be opposite the Lude Church but on the east side of the Fender burn. Of the two Monzies the former site of the wester one would better fit that description.[18]

But in 1507 Donald Johnson of Lude set Wester Monzie to Alexander Reid of Urrard, (which would have been the original place of that name a little to the north of Blair).[19] That same year Donald also gave a charter to his son John for ‘upper Lude’ comprising the lands between the River Tilt and the Fender burn, which might have meant that his son was expected to have his home there. However, the following year Donald decided to resign the whole of Lude in favour of his son John who then received a Crown charter confirming the change. Two years later in 1510 John Donaldson with the consent of his father Donald granted a charter for the lands of Easter Monzie to John Tarlochson followed in 1513 with a further charter of the lands of Wester Monzie, again done with the consent of John Donaldson’s father Donald.

The next major event came in 1517 when John Tarlochson made a revocation of both Easter and Wester Monzie in favour of John Donaldson which would appear to have been a preparation for the next move the lack of an explanation for which has presented problems for subsequent members of the Robertson family. Why did John Donaldson of Lude, son and heir apparent of Donald Lude of that ilk, on the 23 April 1518, while reserving the life rent to Donald his father, resign the lands and barony of Lude into the hands of James, Archbishop of St Andrews, Chancellor and one of the regents of Scotland; in favour of Patrick Ogilvy of Inchmartine?[20]

The only explanation offered by the later members of the family, firstly from James Robertson of Lude via General William Robertson of Lude and then his son James A Robertson, revolve around the ‘wicked uncle taking advantage of his nephew’s sort although that requires some firm evidence of a marriage link to the Ogilvys which cannot be demonstrated from either side, as James A Robertson discovered when he was in contact with a descendent of the Ogilvy of Inchmartine family. This still did not alter his view inherited from his father and grandfather that something underhand had happened, nor the tendency to gloss over the period when the Inchmartines held Lude when creating the Robertson family genealogy.

In seeking an explanation the place to start has to be the actual resignation of Lude by John Donaldson in 1518. The procedure followed was perfectly legal and looked at dispassionately shows no sign of any coercion. It would appear to have been premeditated given the revocation of the two Monzies, the most valuable parts of Lude, by John Tarlochson the previous year and it was clearly organised given that Lude’s father Donald retained the life rent. Indeed the fact that Donald was still alive and his younger son Alexander was also apparently in good health mitigates against the later family suggestion that John Donaldson of Lude was a weak young man taken advantage of by Ogilvy of Inchmartine, uncle or not. So if the later family tradition can be dismissed is there an alternative explanation to put in its place.

One possible explanation when set against the political background and some of the material evidence in the chronology of the events is that the Lude family felt themselves under pressure from their more powerful neighbour the Earl of Atholl and hoped that by passing Lude to Ogilvy of Inchmartin it would relieve the pressure. The family holding Atholl at that point had first gained the Earldom in 1457 when King James II had awarded the Earldom of Atholl to his half brother Sir John Stewart of Balvenie.

Although some of his nominal ‘vassals’ along with many of the lands of the Earldom were actually in the hands of families like the Robertsons of Strowan and Lude who claimed decent from an earlier Earl, there were no initial signs of problems. Indeed the ‘new’ Atholl family and that of Strowan were to become linked through a marriage and even when in 1502 Atholl acquired the Thanage of Glentilt which by that time also included ‘Little Lude’ it was by purchase from Finlay Toiseach the former owner.[21] However, after Alexander Robertson of Strowan died in 1505 and the lands of Strowan passed into the hands of the King by reason of ward, in 1507 John Stewart the Master of Atholl received a letter of bailiary for the whole estate.[22]

It is perhaps no coincidence it is the same year that Donald Johnson of Lude gave a sasine to Alexander Reid of Urrard for Wester Monzie and also resigned the whole of Lude to his son John. At that time Urrard would have been the original place of that name which lies a little to the north of Blair Castle and some of which is close enough to form part of the castle’s modern policies. It is certainly in a position where the Master of Atholl armed with his new powers of Baillie might wish to make life awkward for the existing ‘Robertson’ occupier and therefore another member of the Robertson family would provide an alternative accommodation at Monzies in Lude.[23]

Similar circumstances may also provide the reason why three years later in 1510, John Donaldson of Lude with his fathers consent gave a charter for Easter Monzie to their even closer relative John Tarlochson. If as has been argued the Tarlochson’s lands of Clunie were part of the Barony of Strowan then they may also have been starting to come under pressure from the Master of Atholl flexing his powers as Baillie to harass those members of the Robertson family closest to Blair Castle. In 1512 the Earl of Atholl died and was succeeded by his son the Master, but wider political events intervened before any further signs of the new Earls intentions appear. The Earl survived Flodden in 1513 but in the aftermath as a close relative of the Crown which was itself now represented by a fatherless child; the Earl’s local powers in what had become a weaker central administration would have been further strengthened. In those circumstances the fact that once more John Donaldson and his father gave a charter this time of Wester Monzie to John Tarlochson suggests that the family of Lude were effectively circling the waggons around Lude.

The situation of the wider Robertson clan continued to get worse when in 1515 the new Earl of Atholl received a precept of sasine in the name of the infant James V, for the lands and barony of Strowan which had been apprised by a decreet of the Lords of Council from William Robertson of Strowan for his default on a debt owed by him to the Earl. The circumstances look somewhat suspicious bearing in mind that Atholl had been responsible for managing the estate of Strowan during the period its owner William Robertson was a ward of the crown. Whatever the real cause its effect would have been clear to the rest of the Robertsons; Robertson of Strowan, which was the senior line of the family had been reduced to a feudal tenant of the Earl of Atholl.

After William Robertson was executed in 1516 this left the family of Lude as the most senior Robertson cadet line and one which still retained full feudal superiority of its lands. But even more so than Strowan which in its full extent stretched well away from Blair Atholl, the whole Lude estate was uncomfortably close to Blair. Especially when looked at from the Earl of Atholl’s point of view, literally, since looking out to the east from his castle most of the land he would have seen was actually Lude’s. If it was to relieve the pressure from Atholl, that in 1518 the Lude family handed the whole estate over to Ogilvy of Inchmartine then it was an astute move.

It was the superiority or ownership of land which motivated magnates like Atholl. Especially in Atholls case where the Stewart Earl and his immediate family were originally ‘outsiders’ and therefore not in the position to tenant their lands with people of their own ‘name’. Just as Strowan now in the hands of Atholl continued to retain most of its previous tenants there was no point in harassing the Robertson family to remove from Lude if they were now just tenants and the main power base of Ogilvy of Inchmartine was located well outside of Atholl’s direct sphere of influence.

Returning to Clunie it was during this turbulent period that it first appears firmly on record when the charter of 1513 granting Wester Monzie to John Tarlochson was actually signed at ‘Mekilclun’. A scribal attempt at ‘Muckle’ Scots for great or larger Clune which equates with the Gaelic version of Cluniemore. One of the witnesses to the charter was a Finlay McEwin making it also the first appearance of of a member of the MacEwan family and at that period also associated with Clune and the Tarlochsons.

Who at that point was actually the Feudal owner of Clunie is unclear but it had certainly passed into the hands of the Atholl family not long after.[24] Despite that the actual tenant seems to still have been a ‘Tarlochson’ as the list of witnesses to a Charter by Robert Robertson of Strowan to Colin Campbell of Glenorchy of the lands of Fernan dated November 1540 included as witnesses George Robertson of Fascallie and John Robertson alias Tarlasone of Cluny.[25] Once again a Tarlochson witnessing a Strowan deed suggesting that historically Clunie belonged within the Robertson of Strowan lands. What happened to the family of Lude in the period immediately after the transfer of its ownership to Ogilvy of Inchmartin is unclear. No more is heard of John Donaldson of Lude and his father Donald after the transaction, though his younger brother Alexander Donaldson certainly survived and from him there stemmed another two generations. Also a son of John Donaldson makes a brief appearance in 1565 then disappears again.[26] However although they seemed to have retained some rights within parts of the Lude estate it was John Tarlochson’s son, another John, who emerges under the Ogilvy ownership holding a heritable tenure on Monzie when after his marriage to Beatrix Gardyne they acquired Inchmagrannoch in 1564.

Over the following years to 1582 the Tarlochsons seem to have consolidated their holdings as tenants of Ogilvy of Inchmartin over most of the remaining parts of the Barony of Lude as in that year John Tarlochson elder of Monzies made the provision to his eldest son John of the 4 merkland of Lude, the two merkland of Balnakillie, the 4 merklands of Innertilt and the half town of Ballarnet and to his next son Alexander Tarlochson the six merklands of Balnagrew, the six merk lands of Kindoquhit and the other half of the town of Ballarnet. All in the Barony of Lude and to be held of the Laird of Inchmartin and the entry thereof to be at their fathers death.[27]

According to a contract drawn up between Beatrix Gardyne and her two sons John and Alexander Tarlochson this arrangement was put into place in 1587. Beatrix, who had now outlived her second husband ‘grants that she was now lawfully removed form the tacks of Clunes’ and while John binds himself to fulfil the earlier contract between his father and his brother, the said John was to have the kindness and goodwill of the said tacks. So apart from inheriting the tenancy of Monzie[28] and the lands earlier provided to him by his father, John also received in addition from his mother the lands of Clunie, presumably because she was going to pass Inchmagranoch on to Alexander.[29]

As in that case the Tarlochson’s continue to be linked with the lands of Clunes through some sort of heritable tenancy. However further confirmation that it fell under the feudal superiority of Atholl can be seen in a list of people within Atholl’s Feudal Jurisdiction who were preceded against by him in 1618 which includes John Robertson apparent of Clunie. As this occurred well before Atholl bought the Superiority of the Barony of Lude from Campbell of Glenorchy it clearly indicates that Clunie was not part of Lude. This was also the first evidence that substantiates the Lude Family claims that Clunie was usually held by the eldest son.[30]

Alexander Robertson alias Tarlochson of Inchmagranach (and tenant of Balnagrew), died in 1615 and was succeeded in his estate by his son also named Alexander. This was the man who then went on to purchase the Barony of Lude thereby bringing it back into Robertson hands. However, before reaching that point 1615 also seems to have been the start of a general ‘tidying’ up of the various ‘Tacks’ held over the Lude estate prior to and probably connected to the sale of Lude to Campbell of Glenorchy by Ogilvy of Inchmartin in 1619. It was at this point that the descendants of another Alexander, the younger brother of John Donaldson last of the main line of Lude suddenly make a return to the documentary record.

The first was to appear timewise was Janet Donaldson who was described as the granddaughter of the younger brother Alexander Donaldson when in 1615 she made a disposition inverting the alienation with reversion of the lands of Monzie made by John Donaldson of Lude to the late John Tarlochson upon payment of £88 which she then fully assigned to Patrick Ogilvy of Inchmartin.[31] This was followed in 1618 by a renunciation by John Tarlochson, (son of the former), to Patrick Ogilvy of Inchmartin of the lands of Easter and Wester Monzies. This was done with the consent of Tarlochson’s heir apparent, another John and also, as he is described Alex Donaldson alias Robertson, lawful son to the late Alex Donaldson who was lawful son to the late Alex Donaldson who was brother germain to the late John Donaldson of Lude.[32]

Following this brief appearance the descendants of the main line from Patrick of Lude once more fade from the records leaving the field free for the ‘Tarlochsons’. The reason behind Campbell of Glenorchy buying Lude from Ogilvy of Inchmartine, (from which Alexander Tarlochson of Inchmagranich was to later benefit), is unclear. However it should be noted that this occurred during a period when the title to the Earldom of Atholl was also in a state of flux and it is possible that Glenorchy was hoping to exploit that situation by obtaining lands which had been a part of the original earldom.[33]

Some indication that the potential change in ownership of Lude had been contemplated prior to 1619 is suggested by a number of occasions when the parties involved appear visiting the Glenorchy home at Balloch Castle. For example in November 1616 the Laird of Inchmartin along with Alistair Tarlochsone and his brother (un–named), were visitors. While visits by Ogilvy of Inchmartin can be explained through the marriage connection, the number of occasions when Alexander Tarlochson, some times with his brother, visited suggests something beyond social exchange.

Indeed although Alexander was descended from the younger ‘Tarlochson’ brother the fact that he was starting to act as the representative of the ‘tenants’ of Lude is shown when on the first of July 1619, following the purchase by Glenorchy,[34] Alexander Robertson alias Tarlochson was present at Balloch, ‘and the heall [whole] tenants of Lude being with him’.[35] Over the course of 1620 Alexander was again at Balloch, in May and December, the latter with his brother along with him. Perhaps significantly on both of these occasions he was given his full title as ‘of Inchmagranach’ and on one occasion called Robertson rather than the more usual ‘Tarlochson’ or combination of the two.[36]

By March 1621 Alexander Robertson alias Tarlochson of Inchmagranich, a descendent albeit of a junior line from the original Patrick of Lude, was in possession of Lude. What he had bought from Glenorchy for 16750 merks, (£11,166 : 13 sh 4d Scots),[37] was though somewhat changed from his ancestors original holding. Alexander had only acquired the ownership of the Barony of Lude not its superiority which had remained with Glenorchy who then sold it to William Murray of Tullibardine for another £883 : 6sh 8d Scots. Alexander’ possession of Lude also came with a number of encumbrances.

When Lude was bought by Glenorchy the contract was quite a lengthy one partly due to a large number of wadsets between Ogilvy of Inchmartin and the existing tenants who were mostly members of the Tarlochson family. Few if any changes seem to have been made by Glenorchy before selling Lude to Alexander who therefore became the owner of an estate large parts of which he already held as one of the heritable tenants.[38] Although the two Monzies had been the original home of the pre Ogilvy owners of Lude, Alexander does not seem to have made any attempt to reclaim it for himself. Instead he established a new centre at Balnagrew.

While it is possible that he did not wish to attempt the removal of his own cousin from Monzie, which in any case would have presented some difficulties; Balnagrew had been held by both Alexander and his father for some years so was already a familiar home. Located much lower down the hillside than Monzie it was closer to the river and the main route to Blair Castle and as the name, ‘Township of the trees’ suggests, more able to grow shelter belts to protect the property from the wind. It was also close to Kilmaveonaig Church which from that point also housed the burial vault for the Lude family.

No time seems to have been lost in taking a firm grasp of the administration of his ‘new’ estate. One of Alexander’s first acts was to initiate an action against one of his new neighbours regarding their marches which was settled in his favour as far as the land on the north side of the River Garry was concerned, although without prejudice to his neighbours fishing rights which was probably what the action was really about. Balnagrew was also established as the location of regular Baron Courts which commenced in 1621 with the first full list of statutes being formulated and proclaimed in March 1622.[39]

As Lude was a ‘barony’ it must be assumed that there had been a system of such courts under the previous owners, especially during the long period when the Ogilvys of Inchmartin had been the superiors. If so then no records seem to have survived, but whatever the case Alexander Robertson seems to have started again from scratch with the appointment of his brother–in–law Alexander Stewart of Bonskeid as his Baillie. Clearly there would also have been some adjustment to Alexander Robertson’ social status and household expectations with what had definitely been a representative of the junior line now taking control of the Lude estate.

One example of his new approach was the speed with which he dropped ‘Tarlochson’ from his name, albeit that the other members of his extended family continued to use it or couple it as ‘alias Tarlochson’ along with Robertson for a while longer. Although this apparent distancing by the ‘new’ Lude from his ‘Tarlochson’ roots does have a relevance to some of the details on the Lamont Harp, it was a curious move. In their native Gaelic the ‘Robertsons’ collectively were known as the ‘Clann Donnachaidh’, that is the descendants of ‘Duncan (of Atholl)’. Robert as a forename only appears in the senior line of the Strowan family after the ‘Lude’ line had already separated and it was a few more generations before the Strowan family themselves adopted Robertson as the ‘family’ name.

While these changes in name use hint at a concern by Alexander Robertson of Lude for his new social status the nature of the surviving records from that period provide fewer examples of how far life in the household at Balnagrew also reflected those changes. It is not until 1632 that any sign of building activity appears among the family papers, and that was only for ‘timber to build a house’. The first record of masons being engaged does not occur until 1663–5 during the lifetime of his son, also called Alexander and coincides with his marriage to Katherine Campbell of the Glenorchy family. We do though have some idea what Balnagrew was like in 1615 when Alexander Tarlochson of Inchmagranich, the father of Alexander who bought Lude died and an inventory of his estate was made, although there was no mention of any harps, he did have a silver cup and six silver spoons.[40]

However two aspects of the Lamont harp as we now have it, suggest that it underwent some considerable restoration work which can be dated to that period. There is also some evidence to suggest that the MacEwens who seem to have come to Atholl with the original harp and whose previous appearances on record showed a connection to Clune moved into the Barony of Lude giving their name to ‘Croftvcewen’, which was located much closer to Balnagrew.[41]

The most datable of the two ‘repairs’ to the Lamont Harp came to light during the recent study of that instrument when it was noticed that a crack in the sound box had been reinforced by gluing a section of a velum document over it inside the sound box[42] There was still some writing visible on the document and although the velum had been trimmed it could clearly be identified as the ‘endorsement’ on the outside of the document. Enough had survived to enable the parties involved to be identified as a George Stewart and his spouse and Alexander McKenzie and it involved the property of ‘Urqllbeg’. Now known as the Mains of Orchil, it along with Orchilmore occupy the area between Clune and Old Fascally House.

Although not enough of the date on the endorsement was readable the style of the writing suggested it was early seventeenth century and further background research established a context for the document. It was possible to trace George Stewart as being ‘of Orchilbeg’ up to 1617. The description ‘of Orchilbeg’ indicating that he was the hereditary proprietor of that property. However, in 1618 an Alexander McKenzie of Orchilbeg appears on record and again in 1619,[43] but by 1621 George Stewart resumes the description ‘of Orchilbeg’ while McKenzie’s description when he appears as part of the new Lude Barony Court assize becomes just ‘in Orchilbeg’ indicating he was now just a tenant, (of George Stewart).

The fact that the period between the last date that George Stewart was recorded as ‘of Orchilbeg’ before McKenzie seems to have held it and the resumption by Stewart in 1621[44] amounted to some three years suggests that the document was a ‘Tack’, (a Scots form of Lease), granted to McKenzie by Stewart as three years was a common duration for tacks at that time. Admittedly at that period most tacks were simply verbal agreements, but in this case as it seems to have also required the consent of Stewart’s spouse, who presumably held some rights over the property, the security of a written version was required. Alexander MacKenzie was still described as ‘in Urqllbeg’ when he was again a member of the Lude Baron Court assize in 1624 but he along with his wife Elspeth Stewart, probably George Stewart’s daughter, had been expanding elsewhere as in 1621 they had acquired a third of Blairuachdar on the Atholl side of the river Tilt and close to ‘Little Lude’. By 1628 they were holding two thirds of it and then in 1636 the whole of Blairuachdar was held by them and by that point Alexander MacKenzie in Blairuachdar was on record as Ballie to Alexander Robertson of Lude.[45]

It is not clear how long MacKenzie had held the position of Baillie; the original Baillie, Alexander Stewart of Bonskied had died around 1629, but it was not uncommon to have more than one Baillie at a time so Mackenzie may have been in post prior to then. However there are two reasonable conclusions which can be drawn from these details. Firstly that Alexander MacKenzie was closely connected to the Lude Estate from the start of the Baron Courts in 1621, and secondly that from that same point he would have had in his possession a velum charter which no longer held any relevance as far as its original legal purpose was concerned. It also provides the evidence for the earliest date for when it could have been used for the sound box repair.

The next dating evidence is provided by the two metal straps used to reinforce the reconstructed joint between the harmonic curve and the top of the pillar. Indeed the straps which are the most robust of their kind on any of the surviving harps, effectively are the joint as they immobilise that whole section. It was this rigidity which caused the stress due to the tension of the strings and which is normally spread through small movements, over the whole instrument, to be transferred in the case of the pillar with its reinforced ‘T’ section to the very lowest point leading to the gross displacement seen today.

The decoration on the two straps is basically similar except for one point where on one, the ‘leading’ strap in terms of its proximity to the front of the forepillar it has a formalised design in the middle. This is where the straps are ‘stepped’ to fit around the point at the junction of harmonic curve and pillar to accommodate the change in plane between the dimensions of the two parts. At the bottom end of each strap as viewed when the harp would have been in the playing position is a frontal view of a wolfs head while at the top end is a stylised tail. Since it is not uncommon to have balancing animal heads at either end of such decorations, the addition of the tails rather than similar heads must reflect a conscious choice. The dissimilarity between the central sections of the straps must also reflect a deliberate decision therefore the nature of the more formal decoration bears discussion. The section is defined by on three sides the ‘step’ with the remaining side formed by two close parallel lines marking where it shares a boundary with the design surrounding the hole for one of the pins. Within that area is a pointed star shaped motif which together with the presence of the two wolves heads suggests one of the ‘Robertson’ armorials.

Wolfs heads have long been a feature of the Robertson armorials with a number of unsupported traditional stories explaining why. What can be shown is that the armorials used by the senior branch of the family of Strowan contained three wolves heads within a shield arranged two at the top and one underneath. However, some surviving seals from around the end of the sixteenth century on documents involving members of the Tarlochson family have a shield with just the two wolfs heads at the top and underneath what is known as a ‘Rowel or Mullet’, (or sometimes erroneously called an Estoile or star). The last recorded use of that version of the arms are two seals attached to a Tarlochson charter of July 1618.[46]

The difference between the Rowel which is another name for a spur, and the Mullet is that the former should have a hole in its centre where the spindle would have been. Both would have a minimum of four points, though normally five, or even more in the case of the Mullet. Which raises a question regarding their presence on these Tarlochson seals as heraldically they signify a third son. This suggests that there may have been an otherwise unrecorded brother between Donald Johnson of Lude and Tearlach Johnson thereby pushing him further down the inheritance pecking order. This would add further weight to why he would then have sought a holding of land from his cousin Strowan.

Returning to those straps they can therefore be seen to have been influenced by the Tarlochson arms of the two wolfs heads and a rowel. But they are not in themselves armorials, that would require that they were placed within a shield and they would have needed to conform to the conventional heraldic practice which in the case of the Robertson wolf heads means that they were depicted from a side view facing to the left. Not a view which would have easily made a ‘terminal’ for those straps and hence the degree of artistic licence used in their decoration.[47]

This specific Tarlochson linkage within the context of a major refurbishment of the Lamont Harp during the period when Lude was effectively under new ownership also strengthens the case that the work was undertaken not long after 1621. As already noted, after Alexander Tarlochson alias Robertson of Inchmagranoch bought Lude from Campbell of Glenorchy, he quickly changed his designation to just Alexander Robertson of Lude. At least where he had responsibility for the documentation, but there was a slight lag before everyone referring to him followed suit. In other words as far as he was concerned his Tarlochson background was being consigned to history. This was not just restricted to his adoption of the Robertson name derived from the senior line but also in terms of the ‘Lude’ armorial. From around this point the Tarlochson arms disappear, in fact the straps are probably their last outing and the ‘new’ Robertson of Lude family subsequently turned to also using the shield with three wolfs heads really belonging to the Strowan branch.


The Lamont Harp is one of the three oldest surviving harps from Scotland and Ireland and is therefore of some considerable importance. Ironically, despite its age, its traditional history only goes back to some now lost correspondence between General Robertson of Lude and the Highland Society of Scotland when the harp was sent to Edinburgh for investigation in 1805. This ‘history’ was then included by John Gunn in the report he wrote for the Highland Society which was published in 1807. We have no way of knowing how accurately Gunn’s report reflected the original letters but the essential information was that the harp had come from Argyle in the 15th century with a marriage between a daughter of Lamont of Lamont and Robertson of Lude. The claim that the names of the couple were Lilias Lamont and Charles or Tearlach along with the direct linkage to the harp first appears in the entry for the Robertson’s of Lude in Burke’s ‘Landed Gentry’ and was based on information supplied by Captain James Alexander Robertson.

This in turn, but without any direct mention of the harp, reflects the pedigree given by Captain Robertson’s grandfather James Robertson of Lude to the Lord Lyon when he applied for a matriculation of his arms, ( which included three wolfs heads and no rowel). There are a number of draft pedigrees among the Lude papers, probably by James Robertson in preparation for his application to the Lord Lyon and these all include Charles/Tearlach of Clunes and Lilias Lamont. Where these include dates the couple are always placed in the 15th century. Turning to the harp itself for clues, until recently the erroneous identification that both it and the Queen Mary harp were made of hornbeam, an unusual choice of a non native wood, (at least at that period), added further problems by directly linking both harps together and suggesting they were both from a West Highland context.

The recent study which demonstrated that the sound boxes of both harps are in fact made of willow, a wood native to Scotland and commonly used for that purpose has allowed the origins of both harps to be treated separately. Indeed when set against the background and use of the wire strung ‘clarsach’ in Scotland it is possible to suggest that the parts of the Lamont Harp are more representative of most instruments in use in Scotland at that period.[48] The fact that the Lamont Harp has undergone a number of repairs, some substantial also fits with that general background to the Scottish Harps which did not follow the same path as those in Ireland. In Ireland, after the ‘restoration’ following the trauma of the Cromwellian period, there was a resurgence of harp making, but the form of these new instruments had changed, increasing in size and enhancing the bass section, to produce what are now often referred to as ‘high headed harps’. However apart from a few Irish harpers who, mostly in the 18th century, visited Scotland with their instruments there is no evidence that this newer form of harp was ever adopted by their Scottish counterparts.

The evidence from Ireland where most of the surviving Irish harps are of this ‘high headed type’, shows that many had been extensively repaired to extend their playing lives and it is likely that earlier it had also been the case in Scotland and as the harpers declined if more of their harps had survived they would have resembled the much patched Lamont Harp. Indeed it is the repairs in the latter which have produced most of the physical evidence which can be connected to the historical background. As a result of the re–examination of that background a more coherent history surrounding the families connected to the lands of Lude has been possible.

The existence of ‘Tearlach’ (or Charles), a younger son of the family then holding Lude and his connection to ‘Clunes’ (or Cluny) has been placed on a firmer foundation in circumstances which also provide an explanation of the date 1451 found in the sound box of the Lamont Harp. The ‘style’ of that date is not incompatible with similar written dates in contemporary documents connected to that area and was likely to have been made at or at least close to that actual date. Indeed from many years of study of the Lude family papers there is no logical reason why it would have been made at a much later period nor why, from the Lude perspective, that date would have been chosen. Although to date no direct extant contemporary evidence for the marriage of Tearlach of Clunes to Lilias Lamont has been found the circumstances surrounding the Lamont family at that period has not produced any negative evidence. On the other hand the circumstantial evidence remains strong, the survival of a traditional linkage between the harp and ‘Lamont’ for which there is at present no other explanation must carry some weight. It is also difficult to explain the appearance of a family of harpers called MacEwen, firstly attached to the ‘Tearlachson’s’ and Clunes but whose antecedents seem to relate to the family of harpers, scribes and poets of that name attached to the Lamonts and other Argyle patrons without the harp and marriage connection.

If it is assumed that there was indeed a marriage connection to the Lamont family in Argyle which resulted in a member of the MacEwen family being among the servants accompanying Lamonts daughter to Atholl, it does not follow that the harp came with him rather than being made for him on arrival in his new home, especially as the date has far more significance to that new home. Given the distribution of clarsachs or wire strung harps in Scotland at that period they were just as likely to be products of central and eastern Scotland rather than just Argyle.[49] It is though with the later repairs that it is possible to place the instrument firmly in Atholl at the beginning of the 17th C. By that period it is doubtful if there were still any new harps being made in Scotland but artisans skilled in general wood and metal working would have continued patching up the existing instruments to prolong their playing lives.[50]

A substantial refurbishment occurred which can be assigned to a fairly narrow date band. Firstly a crack in the sound box was repaired using part of a vellum document. Although the side with visible writing only shows the endorsement and that is also only a part because the vellum has been cropped, it has been possible to identify the persons involved along with the purpose of the document. From that it can be determined that the document would have had no further relevance sometime between the 6 July 1619 and the 10 September 1621. Therefore the documents use for the sound box repair would have been after those dates. The evidence for the higher end of the date band by which time the refurbishment must have occurred is not so precise but rests on the decoration of the two metal straps used to secure the joint at the meeting of the top of the forepillar and end of the harmonic curve. The decoration is based on the arms on seals used by the Tearlachson family, especially the senior members holding Clunes and Monzie. The last surviving recorded use for one of their seals was in 1618 while it is clear that Alexander Tearlochson alias Robertson of the junior Tearlachson line rapidly moved away from claiming that side of his family background after he had adopted the title of Alexander Robertson of Lude on purchasing the Barony in 1621.

It is therefore very unlikely that the choice of that form of decoration on the two straps would have occurred much later than the first few years during which Alexander Tearlachson alias Robertson of Lude was adjusting to his new status. Indeed putting all the dates together, the document, the purchase of the Barony of Lude and the likely dating for the straps, it is possible to suggest that the Lamont Harp underwent a major reconstruction and refurbishment around 1622. It also appears that the work was done locally by craftsmen who had no direct knowledge of the finer points of harp making, indeed there may have been no experienced harp makers alive in Scotland by that period. The two straps, clearly well made and designed to fit the junction made by parts of two different harps are more robust than any strapping known to have been utilised across the neck to forepillar joint of any other harp.

Indeed the straps are effectively the joint and while the craftsmen who made and fitted them were successful in stabilising an ill fitting mortice and tenon joint they fell victim to the law of unintended consequences. Normally the tension created by the strings of a harp is distributed around the frame causing small accommodating movements in all parts. However in this case the effect of the straps was to ‘lock’ that part of the instrument so that all movement had to occur elsewhere. To compound the problem the uncommonly wide ‘T’ section of the forepillar added further rigidity, so the stresses tended to be transferred to the lower end. It was here that the unintended consequences occurred as over time the constant tension of the strings caused the severe displacement of the forepillar and contributed to the eventual break near the lower junction with the sound box. (A further discussion on the significance of the nature and structure of the various repairs from the perspective of an historical harp maker is in preparation by Michael Billinge ).

This discussion has so far concentrated on the history behind this harp and the evidence of the instrument itself, but harps were actually just a tool in the process of making music; however, more information is also coming to light on how in the decade or two after the refurbishment the harp may have been employed. Alexander Robertson alias Tarlochson of Inchmagranich and Lude had a number of sisters and it is Margaret who seems to have been at the centre of the cultural life in that circle.[51] After a divorce from a son of Robertson of Fascally, she married Alexander Stewart of Bonskeid. Her husband was then appointed Baillie of the Lude Barony Court, a position he held until his death around 1629. Margaret had been making a collection of verse which she completed in 1630. It contains some 175 poems in Scots and English ranging over a wide variety of genre, from love lyrics to bawdy and including songs. Though at that period most verse was in any case more likely to have been sung than spoken.

The manuscript survives as a later copy and its reference in some specific cases to ‘songs’ may indicate they included the music. In one case it has been possible to connect one set of lyrics to its tune preserved in the Straloch Lute manuscript.[52] Although the original sources used by Margaret Robertson may have used the lute for accompaniment there is no evidence for that instruments use in Margaret’s own circles, (at that point the relations between the Robertsons and the ‘new’ Murray Earls of Atholl were good). Therefore if they were performed with an instrumental accompaniment the instrument of choice in the Lude family would have been one of their harps. At that period even among the circle of Margaret’s wider connections the ‘clarsach’ was the usual stringed instrument that appears in the records.

[1] See the Lude and Lamont pages hosted here on

[2] Register of Arms, volume 1 page 2067.

[3] Burke, J B. A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain & Ireland. (1853). 1127–1130.

[4] Robertson J. A. Comitatus De Atholia; The Earldom Of Atholl It’s Boundaries Stated Also, The Extent Therein OF The Possessions Of The Family Of De Atholla And Their Descendants, The Robertsons. With Proofs And Map (1860).

[5] According to George Black in his The Surnames of Scotland; Their Origin, Meaning and History (1962) p 147, the personal name Charles is rarely found as a forename in Scotland before the reign of Charles I. Searches of a number of electronic catalogue databases for the period before the year 1600 certainly suggest the name was relatively uncommon, although not perhaps quite as rare as implied by Black. Mostly confined to Lowland Scots when as in the case of ‘Charles of Clunes’, it crossed the linguistic boundary it was simply Gaelicised as Tearlach. This contrasts with the situation in Ireland where many undoubtedly Gaelic forenames were subsequently anglicised as ‘Charles’.

In the contemporary documents relating to Tearlach and his family there is no scribal consistency regarding how they spelt the Gaelic name form, which as most of the references are to his descendants is given a further twist by adding ‘son’ to turn it from a personal to a family name and again with a variety of spellings, (for example ‘sone or soun’). This in turn raised the question of whether to attempt to standardise the spellings when they occur throughout this work; and if so which version to use. It is a problem which also extends to the place names especially the two most prominent in this work, ‘Clunes and Inchmagranichan’. Therefore where a name is closely referenced to a specific source I have let the spelling reflect that source.

[6] Private communication from Karen Loomis with attached scan of date received 7 January 2013. More publicly noted in footnote number 3 in Paul Dooley, Reconstructing the Medieval Irish Harp. The Galpin Society Journal. Vol LXVII (March 2014), 107.

[7] Comitus De Atholla, pp 32–33.

[8] Dow, Patrick. Reports of Cases Upon Appeals and Writs of Error in the House of Lords vol. 3. (1816) pp 108–116

[9] The best guide to what the Barony of Lude included is a surviving receipt by the Church for ‘Teind duty’ during the period it was owned by Campbell of Glenorchy given on the 1 May 1620. It was for the 6 merkland of Ballnagrew, 6 merkland of Kindrocat, 6 merkland of Ballarnat, 4 merkland of Innertilt, 2 merkland of Balnakeill, 4 merkland of Pitnacry, all in the parish of Kilmavellich, barony of Lude, and 4 merkland of Lude, 6 merkland of Eister and Wester Monzies, in the barony and parish of Lude. (NRS GD112/51/146 numbers 5 and 6). Apart from ‘Kilmavellich’ a rather mangled version of Kilmaveonaig, all the other names can be easily recognised against their modern spellings and it is noticeable that it does not mention either Clunes or Strathgroy.

[10] National Records of Scotland. GD112/25/57. The exchange was the four merkland of Pitnacree in the Thanage of Glentilt within the Earldom of Athol for Patrick Ogilvy’s four merkland of Urrardmore within his barony of Lude.

[11] National Records of Scotland RH1/2/312

[12] Kerr, John. Church and Social History of Atholl. (1998), quoting a 1635 document listing the rents paid ‘within the parish of Kilmavewnage’ from a valuation of the parish made by the Dunkeld Presbytery on the 29th July that year.

[13] Kerr, John. The Robertson Heartland, (1992), 6; National Records of Scotland GD1/947/2

[14] National Records of Scotland GD50/1/37

[15] Chronicles of the Atholl and Tulibardine Families. Vol 1, pages 31 and 31*

[16] Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts, Appendix to Seventh Report, Duke of Athole. p 709 number 59

[17] NRS GD112/2/69/1 and 2. This close connection between the ‘Tarlochson’ line, albeit coming from a younger son of the family who held Lude, through holding Clunes from the Strowan family might explain the the Tarlochson’s adoption of the ‘alias Robertson’ derived from the Robertsons of Strowan.

[18] Kerr, John. Church and Social History of Atholl. (1998) p 27.

[19] This was the Urrard which was subsequently exchanged for Pitnacree, see note 8 and not the later place of that name closer to Killiecrankie.

[20] NRS GD38/1/14 and GD132/13

[21] NRS RH1/2/313 and RH1/2/314. Copies made in 1862 from the Charter Room of the Duke of Atholl.

[22] Chronicles of the Families of Atholl and Tullibardine. Vol 1, pp 30–31.

[23] NAS GD38/1/10

[24] When in 1543 John Stewart was recognised as heir to his deceased father John Earl of Atholl in the Earldom, of Atholl and the lands of the earldom, ‘Mekle Cluny and Litil Cluny’ were among the lands excepted as they belonged to Lady Janet Campbell, Countess of Atholl and spouse of said John’s grandfather by reason of conjunct fee. (Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts, 7th Report. Duke of Atholl, page 713, number 101). Repeated in an Instrument of Sasine issued in 1579, transcribed in NAS GD50/56 number 19

[25] NRS GD112/2/69/1; The charter was followed by an Instrument of Sasine with the same witnesses as the original charter.

[26] NRS GD38/1/65. It is a somewhat curious document being a letter under the Signet by Henry and Marie, King and Queen of Scotland dated 28 November 1565

[27] NRS GD38/1/73

[28] NRS GD132/25. John Tarlochson alias Robertson, son and heir of the deceased John Tarlochson alias Robertson of Monzie was given Sasine of the lands of Easter and Wester Monzie from Patrick Ogilvy of Inchmartin superior of the said lands on the 20 November 1588. Among the witnesses was ‘Anthony McEwin VcChlairser’ described as servant to the said John Tarlochson.

[29] NRS GD38/1/81. He was styled Alexander Robertson of Inchmagranoch by 1595 in a contract between on one side, him, his mother, the redoubtable Beatrix Gardyn who was still alive and his wife Agnes Gordon when he borrowed £1000 secured over his lands of Inchmagrananoch.

[30] Chronicles of the Families of Atholl and Tullibardine Vol 1, p 94*–95; From this point on the saga of who ‘owned’ Clunes is not directly related to the Lamont Harp but it is possible to see how the confusion regarding whether or not it was part of Lude grew. Alexander Robertson of Inchmagranichan and then Lude died in 1639. Shortly afterwards in 1642 a rather curious document was produced for his son another Alexander Robertson of Lude, (NRS GD132/63). Including the endorsements several hands are involved, but the main one and the oldest is the main part of the document which is headed ‘Information for the Laird of Lude’. Although such documents are usually drafted by lawyers and that is the line taken by the ‘endorsements’ there is no actual indication who the writer was.

It basically consists of a statement of the then Ludes claims on Clunes and takes that back to John Robertson of Monzie and William Earl of Atholl. This is significant because it suggests uncertainty if not an outright lack of knowledge regarding the background to ownership of Clunes before that point, understandable because prior to and including ‘William Earl of Atholl’ the Earldom had gone through a period of great uncertainty. When John Stewart the 5th Earl of Atholl died in 1595 he left no male heirs. The title reverted to the Crown and the King then settled it on another Stewart, (who had conveniently married the 5th Earl’s widow). However, William Murray the Master, then after the death of his father the 2nd Earl of Tullibardine, had married as his second wife, the eldest daughter and therefore nominally the heiress of the 5th Earl of Atholl.

Although there is no sign of any antagonism between all the parties involved, the Atholl title entered a period of uncertainty concerning who actually was holding the title. Eventually it was resolved to William Murray who mostly seems, at least from an administration point of view, to have been actively running the Earldom. However to further add to the confusion although the Earldom was acquired by William Murray, he rarely used the title, mainly sticking to calling himself Earl off Tullibardine. The final result was that all of the Murray Family titles were shuffled around when in 1625 in a move sanctioned by King Charles, William Earl of Tullibardine assigned the Earldom of Atholl; which he had previously been given by a charter from James VI, (NRS GD50/1 page 104), to his brother Sir Patrick Murray, (NRS GD50/1 page 103). The Earldom of Atholl eventually raised to a Dukedom, is still held by the Murray family today. This period of confusion relating to the Atholl Earldom may also shed some light on the changes to the ownership of Lude. The purchase by Campbell of Glenorchy of the Barony of Lude from Ogilvy of Inchmartin, no doubt facilitated by his sister being married to Inchmartin, may have been intended as a toehold in Atholl by Glenorchy to position himself for further expansion should that Earldom fail altogether. However, when by 1621 it was clear that the succession of the Atholl Earldom was resolved, Glenorchy retrenched but enhanced his profit by selling the Barony of Lude to Alexander Robertson of Inchmagranach and the superiority to William Murray Earl of Tullibardine.

[31] NRS GD132/34

[32] NRS GD38/1/112

[33] The purchase arrangement was probably helped by the fact that Agnes Campbell, daughter of Sir Duncan Campbell of Glenorchy had married Patrick Ogilvy, younger, of Inchmartin in 1609. (NRS GD112/25/84). Likewise the subsequent resale to Alexander Robertson alias Tarlochson of Inchmagranich would have been helped by the fact that his sister Christian had in 1614, married Archibald Campbell of Monzie, the fifth son of Sir Duncan Campbell. (NRS GD50/188 page 707)

[34] As an interesting example of how such matters were viewed the scribe of the Black Book of Taymouth described the acquisition of Lude among Sir Duncan Campbell’s ‘conquests’. (page 24). But when it gets to the lists of disbursements of money made by Sir Duncan, (page 55), it reveals that he paid the Laird of Inchmartin £10460: 13 sh: 6d.

[35] The Breadalbane Papers contain a well kept series of Household Diet Books covering the two main residences of Finlarig and Balloch Castles. Apart from recording all the food and peat received from tenants paying their rent ‘in kind’ and additional food bought locally or sent to the Earls as gifts, each accounting period starts with a listing of the family members and visitors resident and being fed over that time. The volume covering 1615 to 1621 is catalogued as GD112/21/3. The relevant entries to this point are Folios f.66v, f.79v, f.117r, f.130r, f.136v, f.165v, f.189v and the visit by Alexander Robertson alias Tarlochson complete with the other tenants, f. 206r.

[36] NRS GD112/21/3 f.250r and f.297r. What is also noticable during this period from 1619 through to 1623 in the next volume, GD112/21/4, were a number of visits to Balloch by William Murray of Tullibardine.

[37] NRS GD112/2/114/109/3; RD1/305/107; Particular Register of Sasines for the Shire of Perth RS49/4/159

[38] At this point the Barony of Lude extended to a total of 34 merklands comprised of the 6 merkland of Ballnagrew, 6 merkland of Kindrocate, 6 merkland of Ballarnat, 4 merkland of Innertilt, 2 merkland of Balnakeill, all in the parish of Kilmaveonaig and the 4 merkland of Lude and the 6 merkland of Easter and Wester Monzies in the parish of Lude. In addition there was the 4 merkland of Pitnacree which had been exchanged between the Earl of Atholl and Ogilvy of Inchmartin for the 4 merkland of Urartmor in 1589. Again it is clear that Clunie formed no part of Lude but at that point Alexander’s cousin John Tarlochson formerly of Monzie, presumably held Clunie from the Earl of Atholl.

[39] NRS GD50/159. A typewritten copy of the original made by John MacGregor in 1908. The original manuscript is now among the archives at Blair Atholl.

[40] NRS GD38/1/117.

[41] Croftmcewen was a twenty shilling land which appears as part of the 6 merkland land of Balnagrew in a rental of the Barony of Lude and lands of Clunes in 1671 (NRS GD132/541). The name is on record as ‘Creytvcewin’ in 1621 (GD38/1/36). The use of ‘croft’ suggests that the holding, and a valuable one at that, was created for a single tenant. The name later changed to Balmacewin, probably after the original family of ‘McEwens’ had removed and it became a small ‘farmtown’ where it can be found on the late eighteenth century maps. It was on the old route which ran in front of the current policies of Lude House to the church at Kilmaveonaig and then on to the old Bridge of Tilt. The whole area today has been cleared but it was somewhere in large slooping field between Lude House and the current main road through the modern village of Bridge of Tilt.

[42] Email and scan from Karen Loomis received 17 July 2010

[43] NRS GD132/39; An acknowledgement by the proprietors of Orchil, Clunes and Strathgroy dated 10 June 1618 that they took peat from the lands of the Barony of Lude by licence from Patrick Ogilvy of Inchmartine. The document was also copied into a Breadalbane Cartulary which is then followed by a second version dated 6 July 1619 listing the same proprietors but made after Lude had changed hands and now acknowledging they took peat from the lands of Lude by licence of Colin Campbell of Glenorchy (NRS GD112/5/4/319–321). The name lists of the petitioners are the same in both lists although in a different order, but they are also of interest within the wider picture. The properties which are represented are all along the north side of the River Garry below Lude none of which contain any peat hags. Those are all higher up the slopes and within the Barony of Lude. The particular names of interest, apart from Alexander McKenzie of Orchilbeg, are Alexander Robertson alias Tarlasoun of Inchmagranich heritable proprietor of what became ‘Strathgroy’ and John Robertson alias Tarlasone of Clune. The document was actually signed at Balnagrew in Lude, where Alexander Robertson of Inchmagranich was also the proprietor just as John Robertson of Clune held Monzie in Lude. However their properties in Lude would have by custom automatically had rights to cut peat in Lude. Hence the titles chosen by the two ‘Tarlochsons’ for the letter of tolerance reflected the properties they held outside of the Barony of Lude.

[44] NRS GD132/52 (Now catalogued as ‘unfit for production’). Witness statements taken on the 10 September 1621 regarding the marches between Alexander Robertson of Lude and John Steuart of Sheirglas includes one given by George Steuart of Urqllbeg.

[45] Kerr, John. East By Tilt. (1987) pp 11–12.

[46] Stevenson, J.H. and Wood, M. Scottish Heraldic Seals. Volume 3, K–Z, (1940) p 564 which describes three seals of members of the Tarlochson family on a document dated 15 December 1598. The actual seals though with some damage are at NRS GD50/158/1 and 2; The 1618 charter granted by John Tarlochson and his son to Patrick Ogilvy of Inchmartine is at NRS GD132/43.

[47] While on the metal straps the two wolfs heads are at the bottom end and the tails at the top in reality as the head would normally be regarded as the ‘top’ or highest point then viewing the straps with that interpretation in mind, the symbolic ‘point’ contain device would in fact be where on the real arms the rowel (or mullet) appears on the shield under the two wolfs heads.

[48] See the article Mapping the Clarsach in Scotland hosted on

[49] See Mapping the Clarsach in Scotland

[50] In Ireland towards the end of the 17th Century there was a resurgence of harpmaking with the introduction of the new ‘high headed’ harps, as they are generally called. However, as had occurred earlier in Scotland once harp making there had gone into decline, by the end of the 18th C those Irish instruments which had survived also showed evidence of many major repairs over the course of their lives.

[51] NRS GD38/1/128; A discharge of a Decreet of Adjudication dated 4 April 1622 against Alexander Robertson, his mother and brothers and sisters along with husbands.

[52] Verweij, Sebastiaan. The Literary Culture of Early Modern Scotland; Manuscript Production and Transmission 1560–1625 (2016) pp 221–240.

Submitted by Keith Sanger, 7 November, 2017