WEEKLY UPDATE JANUARY 11, 2004
- ---------- STONEHAVEN GENEALOGY ----------
---- WEEKLY UPDATE JANUARY 11, 2004 ----
NIGG OLD CHURCH
Nigg Old Church, in the Highlands of Scotland, is a fine
example of a Scottish parish church and - since it houses a
magnificent Pictish stone of the late eighth century, carved
with unique Pictish symbols and Christian imagery - it is
likely that it stands on what has been a place of Christian
worship for at least 1200 years. It has, to this day, an
atmosphere of peace and tranquility.
The church was largely rebuilt in 1626 and the sound of its
bell, cast in the Netherlands in 1624, has rung out over the
fertile farmland of the parish, on the shore of the Cromarty
Firth, since then.
The building contains much that is typical of a Scots church
- lofts (galleries) built by the principal landowners to
accommodate their own families and tenants; a pulpit on the
east wall (where most light entered the building); a desk
below the pulpit from where the 'precentor' led the
congregation in singing the psalms; and a north wing or aisle,
opposite the pulpit, added to the church as the congregation
grew. In the churchyard there is a fine collection of carved
But Nigg Old also has a special place in Highland history.
It was in this church in 1739 that a religious revival
began which was eventually to influence much of the north
of Scotland. Large numbers of people met for weekly prayer
meetings and a prominent part was taken by leading lay
preachers known, in Gaelic, as Na Daoine (The Men). Some of
them were thought to have supernatural powers, prophesying
and seeing visions. The most prominent of The Men of Nigg
was Donald Roy who died in 1774 at the age of 105.
Finally Nigg Old has its odd and curious features. In the
churchyard is the Cholera Stone, dating from the cholera
epidemic of 1832. One of the elders, on coming out of the
church, saw a cloud of vapour hovering above the ground.
He believed it to be a cloud of cholera, threw a blanket or
cloth over it and placed this large stone on top to keep it
from escaping & inside the church, according to one tradition,
the beadle (church officer) allowed an illicit still to be
kept in the space under the pulpit.
The church is now cared for by Nigg Old Trust, supported by
donations, and is freely open to the public from April to
The Real Robinson Crusoe?
Frequently history is stranger than fiction and none more so than
in the tale of Alexander Selkirk: the real-life Robinson Crusoe.
Born in 1676, the seventh son of a cobbler, Alexander Selkirk grew
up in Lower Largo, Fife. At the age of 19 he found himself in
trouble with the Kirk Session after his brother's trick of making
him drink sea water resulted in a family fight. Before his case was
heard, Selkirk fled to sea hoping to make his fortune through
privateering (effectively legalised piracy on the King's enemies)
against Spanish vessels off the coast of South America.
Within a few years his skill at navigation led to his appointment
as Sailing Master on the `Cinque Ports', a sixteen gun, ninety ton
privateer. The expedition was a disaster. The captain of the ship
was a tyrant and after a few sea battles with the Spanish, Selkirk
feared the ship would sink. So, in an attempt to save his own life
he demanded to be put ashore on the next island they encountered.
In September 1704, Selkirk was castaway on the uninhabited island
of Juan Fernandez, over 400 miles off the West Coast of Chile. He
took with him a little clothing, bedding, a musket and powder, some
tools, a Bible and tobacco.
At first Selkirk simply read his Bible awaiting rescue, but it soon
became apparent that the rescue wasn't imminent. He resigned himself
to a long stay and began to make island life habitable with only
rats, goats and cats for company in his lonely vigil.
After several years of isolation, two ships drew into the island's
bay. Selkirk rushed to the shore, realising a little late that they
were Spanish. Their landing party fired, forcing him to flee for his
life although he managed to evade capture and the Spaniards
Finally On 1st of February 1709, two British privateers dropped
anchor offshore. Alexander lit his signal fire to alert the ships,
who dispatched a rather astonished landing party to find a `wildman'
dressed in goat skins. Remarkably the privateers' pilot was William
Dampier, who had led the Selkirk's original expedition and was able
to vouch for the `wildman'.
Selkirk had spent four years and four months of isolation on the
island, yet seemed stable when he was found. The experience had, in
fact, saved his life. From William Dampier he learnt that he had
been right to leave the `Cinque Ports', which had sunk off the coast
of Peru with all of its crew drowned except the captain and another
seven men, who had survived only to be captured and left to rot in a
Selkirk re-embarked on his career as a privateer and within a year
he was master of the ship that rescued him. In 1712 he returned to
Scotland £800 richer, and surprised his family as they worshipped at
the Kirk in Largo. They had long given him up for dead and were
astonished that he was alive, let alone alive in his fine, gold and
lace clothes. In 1713 he published an account of his adventures
which were fictionalised six years later by Daniel Defoe in his now
famous novel: `Robinson Crusoe'.
Selkirk, however, could never really readjust to life on the land,
and, in 1720, a year after he was immortalised by Defoe, he joined
the Royal Navy only to die of fever off the coast of Africa.
The name of an old Scottish family which derived its name from
the barony of Keith in East Lothian, said to have been granted by
Malcolm II., king of Scotland, to a member of the house for services
against the Danes. The office of great marishal of Scotland,
afterwards hereditary in the Keith family, may have been conferred
at the same time; for it was confirmed, together with possession of
the lands of Keith, to Sir Robert Keith by a charter of King Robert
Bruce, and appears to have been held as annexed to the land by the
tenure of grand serjeanty. Sir Robert Keith commanded the Scottish
horse at Bannockburn, and was killed at the battle of Neville's ross
in 1346. At the close of the 14th century Sir William Keith, by
exchange of lands with Lord Lindsay, obtained the crag of Dunnottar
in Kincardineshire, where he built the castle of Dunnottar, which
became the stronghold of his descendants. He died about 1407. In
1430 a later Sir William Keith was created Lord Keith, and a few
years afterwards earl marishal, and these titles remained in the
family till 1716. William, fourth earl marishal (d. 1581), was one
of the guardians of Mary queen of Scots during her minority, and was
a member of her privy council on her return to Scotland. While
refraining from extreme partisanship, he was an adherent of the
Reformation; he retired into private life at Dunnottar Castle about
1567, thereby gaining the sobriquet "William of the Tower." He was
reputed to be the wealthiest man in Scotland. His eldest daughter
Anne married the regent Murray. His grandson George, 5th earl
marishal (c. 1553-1623), was one of the most cultured men of his
time. He was educated at King's College, Aberdeen, where he became a
proficient classical scholar, afterwards studying divinity under
Theodore Beza at Geneva. He was a firm Protestant, and took an
active part in the affairs of the kirk. His high character and
abilities procured him the appointment of special ambassador to
Denmark to arrange the marriage of James VI. with the Princess Anne.
He was subsequently employed on a number of important commissions;
but he preferred literature to public affairs, and about 1620 he
retired to Dunnottar, where he died in 1623. He is chiefly
remembered as the founder in 1593 of the Marischal College in the
university of Aberdeen, which he richly endowed. From an uncle he
inherited the title of Lord Altrie about 1590. William, 7th earl
marishal (c. 1617-1661), took a prominent part in the Civil War,
being at first a leader of the covenanting party in north-east
Scotland, and the most powerful opponent of the marquess of Huntly.
He co-operated with Montrose in Aber-deenshire and neighboring
counties against the Gordons. With Montrose he signed the Bond of
Cumbernauld in August 1640, but took no active steps against the
popular party till 1648, when he joined the duke of Hamilton in his
invasion of England, escaping from the rout at Preston. In 1650
Charles II. was entertained by the marishal at Dunnottar; and in
1651 the Scottish regalia were left for safe keeping in his castle.
Taken prisoner in the same year, he was committed to the Tower and
was excluded from Cromwell's Act of Grace. He was made a privy
councillor at the Restoration and died in 1661. Sir John Keith (d.
1714), brother of the 7th earl marishal, was, at the Restoration,
given the hereditary office of knight marishal of Scotland, and in
1677 was created earl of Kintore, and Lord Keith of Inverurie and
Keith-Hall, a reward for his share in preserving the regalia of
Scotland, which wTere secretly conveyed from Dunnottar to another
hiding-place, when the castle was besieged by Cromwell's troops, and
which Sir John, perilously to himself, swore he had carried abroad
and delivered to Charles II., thus preventing further search. From
him are descended the earls of Kintore.
SOURCE: THE 1911 EDITION ENCYCLOPEDIA
For those members who are interested in the Birse, Aberdeenshire
area of Scotland, I would like to remind you once again of the
terrific site that was created by Stonehaven Genealogy Member,
Sharon Jameson in January of 2002. Sharon, who was one of the first
people to join this Group a way back on November 08, 2001 created
this site to help others in their search of their ancestoral roots
in this beautiful part of Scotland.
Here are just some of the things you will find on this wonderful
Old Parochial Registers
- Baptisms for the years 1758 - 1821
- Marriages for the years 1782 - 1799 & 1820 - 1826
- Birth Certificates for the years 1856, 1857, 1858, 1866, 1867,
- Marriage Certificates for the years 1855 1856 1857 1860 1862
1863, 1864, 1866, 1867, 1870, 1871, 1872, 1873
- Death Certificates for the years 1855, 1857, 1858, 1859, 1860,
1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865, 1866, 1867, 1868, 1869, 1870, 1871,
- Monumental Inscriptions for the Birse Kirkyard
- 1841 CENSUS complete
- Valuation Rolls for the year 1865
So if you haven't visited Sharons site yet or if it's been a while
since you last visited it, then I highly recommend that you do so
today, as she is continually adding to it all the time.
Click on the link below to go directly to the Home Page of:
LATEST POLL ENDS ON JANUARY 30th
If you haven't taken part in the latest Stonehaven Genealogy POLL
yet, please take the time now to post your answer. Simply go to the
Poll section of the site by clicking on POLLS located in the index
on the left hand side of the home page.
The question is:
How many years have you been researching your Family Lines?
Jim Allan, Moderator
Victoria, B.C. CANADA
ANESFHS Member 10387