BALFOUR HISTORY

The Balfours have had a long and distinguished history in Fife, the name is believed to be derived from the lands of Balfour, in the parish of Markinch, formerly belonging to a family which were long heritable sheriffs of Fife. Balfour castle was built upon their ancient possessions, in the vale or strath of the Orr, a tributary of the Leven, near their confluence. Bal-orr is the original name, and is used more often by the older manuscript writers, and is variously stated to be from the Gaelic Bal foidh or, the town at the foot of the Or (the dh in foidh is silent) or Baile Fuar, the cold place/town, (which could refer to any number of places in Fife) Many forms of the name are found in mediaeval manuscripts in Scotland and examples of such are Balfure/Balfor/Balfour.    Many illustrious descendants with the surname of Balfour have been ennobled and three peerages, namely, the baronies of Burleigh and Kilwinning in Scotland, and of Balfour of Clonawley in Ireland. At the beginning of the eighteenth century, there were a greater number of heritors in Fife named Balfour than of any other surname. A glance at the fife telephone directory shows only 15 people with the name Balfour.

The family of Balfour, contains no less than thirteen landed proprietors in that county of the name, viz., the Balfours of Burleigh, of Fernie, of Dunbog, of Denmylne, of Grange, of Forret, of Randerston, of Radernie, of Northhank, of Balbirnie, of Halbeath, of Lawlethan, and of Banktown. (Hist, of Fife, App. No. 11.) Torry and Boghall, Kinloch are also landed properties of the Balfours. In his Memoria Balfouriana, Sibbald says the family of Balfour is divided into several branches, of which those of Balgarvie, Mountwhanney, Denmylne, Ballovy, Carriston, and Kirkton are the principal.

THE BALFOURS OF STRATHOR AND MUNQUHANNY

Siward or Siwarth came north from northumbria in the reign of Duncan I, An t-Ilgarach, "the Diseased" (Donnchadh mac Crìonain), Duncan was son of Crínán, hereditary lay abbot of Dunkeld, and Bethóc, daughter of king Malcolm II of Scotland (Máel Coluim mac Cináeda). He became king after his grandfather’s death on 25 November 1034. Fordun claimed, that Duncan married the sister, daughter or cousin of Sigurd Björnsson, also known as Siward the Dane, Earl of Northumbria. Duncan died on the 14th August 1040, in a battle with Macbeth. Even at this early time, relations between the Scottish nobility and the Anglo/Saxon/Danes showed an influx of Anglo/Saxon/Danes into the north and Siward or Siwarth probably came north in the train of his countrywoman who married Duncan. The similarity in the names perhaps shows a close relation to Siward the Dane, Earl of Northumbria, and might explain Siwarth’s importance. Little or nothing is known what became of Siwarth, after the fall of Duncan and during the 17 years of MacBeth’s reign, but MacDuff and Duncan’s son Malcolm were helped by Siward the Dane, the Earl of Northumbria, to over throw Macbeth. It is likely that Siwarth and possibly his son were involved in helping MacDuff and Malcolm.

Little is known of Siward’s or Siwarths son, Osulf, (Aswulph) who lived in the time of Malcolm Canmore.

Osulf’s son Siward or Siwarth II was given, by King Edgar, the valley of Orr, that is, Strathor and Maev, (the Isle of May) in 1097 "cui dat Edgar rex vallem de Or at Maey pro capite Ottar Dani", And means that King Edgar of Scotland gives to Siwarth, the Or valley and the Isle of May in return for the head of Ottar, the Dane. It is probable that Ottar was one of the Scandinavians who supported Donald Bane (Malcolm Canmore’s Brother) against his nephew King Edgar. Edgar Blinded his uncle eyes and left him to rot in prison. Nice. The Isle of May was in the possession of the Balfours of Monquhanny for many generations and its position guarding the entrance of the Firth of Forth probably suggested the family motto "Fordward" (in Saxon "Forthward").  The otter's head has ever since appeared in the Arms of all Siwarth's legitimate descendants. The original coat of arms, was almost certainly adopted by Siwarth II. When The Balfours of Denmylne sold their estate to Major General George Scott in 1773, the Ilse of May may have also been sold at the same time as later in 1840, when Henrietta Scott, daughter, and wife of the Duke of Portland, sold Denmylne, she also sold the Isle of May about the same time.

Siward’s son, Octred, witnessed a charter of David the First about 1141. was probably the founder of the Castle, which henceforward gave name to his descendants.

Balfour castle near Milton of Balgonie

His son was termed Sir Michael de Balfour, (Balfor) and about the year 1196 obtained a charter from William the Lion, dated at Forfar.    

His son Sir lngelramus de Balfour, sheriff of Fife, In 1229, During the reign of Alexander II he witnessed a charter of confirmation the monastery of Aberbrothock, of a mortification to them by Philip de Moubray, ‘De uno plenario tofto in Innerkeithing.. Sir lngelramus de Balfour, may have been the father of Henry as there seems to be some confusion whether Sir lngelramus de Balfour was Michaels son. Either way, on the death of his son, Sir Michael de Balfour, (Balfor), Octred divided his estate among his grandsons, Upper Strath-Orr to B. Sir Michael de Balfor, and Lower Strath-Orr to A.  Sir William de Balfor.

A.     Sir William de Balfor of Balfour, Knight, Sheriff of Fife, who is witness to a Charter by Sir Alexander Seton circa 1200. Received the Castle and the lower part of the Strath-Orr from his grandfather Octred and transmitted them to his son

1.      Henry de Balfor of of Balfour, Sheriff of Fife, Henry was witness to another confirmation by the same monarch to that monastery of a donation by Malcolm earl of Angus, ‘De terris in territorio de Kermuir.’ About 1230-41 who left a son

  2.      Sir John de Balfor of Balfour, Knight, Sheriff of Fife slain with many of the Barons of Fife at the sack of Berwick by Edward I, 80th March, 1296. leaving two sons

3. Sir Duncan de Balfor of Balfour, Sheriff of Fife, adhered to the fortunes of Sir William Wallace, and was slain 12th June 1298 at the battle of Black Earnside where the English, under Sir Aymer de Valence, earl of Pembroke, were defeated.

  ·        Sir John who succeeded his brother

4.      Sir John de Balfor of Balfour, Kt., Sheriff of Fife was wounded at Dillecarew 1300. His name heads the list of Barons summoned by the Marischal to decide a cause between John Stele, Abbot of Lundoris and the Burgesses of Newburgh 1309, and was security for Sir Gilbert Hay of Errol, in a Contract with Sir Michael Scot of Balweary, 3 June 1310. His son

5.      Sir Michael de Balfor of Balfour, Kt., Sheriff of Fife sat as a Baron of Parliament at Ayr 6 April 1315 along with David de Balfour; Their seals are appended to the act of that parliament for settling the crown. (ibid. pp. 366, 367.) David de Balfour and Malcolm de Balfour were also present at the parliament held at Cambuskenneth, 6th November 1314, as their seals are appended to the general sentence by that parliament of forfeiture of all the rebels. Sir Michael died in 1344, His son John succeeded him. He may have had another son Adam, who married the granddaughter of Macduff, brother of Colbane, earl of Fife, and obtained with her the lands of Pittencrieff. He died of wounds received at the battle of Durham, in 1346, and was buried in Melrose abbey.

 6. Sir John de Balfor of Balfour, Kt., Sheriff of Fife, died without issue in 1375. in the fifth year of the reign of Robert II . His office reverted to the Crown, and his sister and heiress, Janet, as a ward of the Crown was given in marriage to Sir Robert de Betun. ‘familiaris regis Roberti,’ as he is styled. (It may have been Margaret, John Balfor’s daughter who married Sir Robert de Betun) Of this marriage is descended the present family of Bethunes of Balfour. From them proprietors of Balfour are descended and several of the other Fife heritors of the name of Bethune, eg the Bethunes of Bandon, of Criech, of Tarvet, of Blebo, of Clatto, of Craigfudie, and of Kingask, were also descended from them. Of the most remarkable personages belonging to the Bethunes of Balfour were James Bethune, archbishop of Glasgow and chancellor of Scotland; his nephew, Cardinal David Bethune 1494-1546, educated at St Andrews and Glasgow universities. He negotiated both marriages of King James V (1512 - 1542) with the French court. As Abbot of Arbroath, Beaton sat in the Scottish Parliament from 1525. He was effectively the last Archbishop of St. Andrews, appointed to this position in 1539. Opposed by John Knox (c.1513-72), Beaton was murdered by Protestant reformers in the same year as he executed George Wishart (1513-46. David Balfour of Balbathy and New Grange was (3rd son of Sir Andrew Balfour of Munquhanny) was one of the murderers of Cardinal Bethune. The nephew of the cardinal, James Bethune, archbishop of Glasgow. In the ruined house of Balfour were original portraits of Cardinal Bethune, and of Mary Bethune, celebrated for her beauty, one of Mary Queen of Scots four Maries

16th century Creich Castle, birthplace of Mary Bethune, (possibly born at Balfour house, near Milton of Balgonie) one of the four ladies-in-waiting to Mary Queen of Scots.

Sir John de Balfor may have had another son Adam, who married the granddaughter of Macduff, brother of Colbane, earl of Fife, and obtained from her the lands of Pittencrieff. He died of wounds received at the battle of Durham, in 1346, and was buried in Melrose abbey. (It is stated in some accounts that he was the father of Sir Malcolm de Balfour of Strathor and Pittencrieff, Knight and Seneschal of Fife who sat in the Parliament of Cambuskenneth and sealed the forfeiture there passed 1314) At this failure of male heirs of Sir William de Balfor, the Chiefship of the Balfours of Strath-orr devolved on the representatives of his brother See B5 Sir Michael de Balfour of Strathor.

B. Sir Michael de Balfor, Knight, got from his grandfather Octred de Strathor (on the death of his father Michael) the upper part of the Strath (thenceforth called distinctively Strath-or) the Isle of May and the lands of Ballo, confirmed by William the Lion with erection into a "Barony to Sir Michael de Balfor and his heirs quhatsoever for the payment of a reid rose", being transmitted by Sir Michael to his son

1. Sir David de Balfour of Strathor and Ballo Kt who in his old age assumed the Cross and fell in the disastrous Crusade of Louis IX, at Tunis, with David Earl of Athol and many other Scottish Crusaders, 1269, leaving a son

2.     Sir Michael de Balfour of Strathor Knight who held the office of Seneschal of the Earls of Fife. He witnesses a Charter by Earl Duncan 1278, and fell with Macduff of Keres, the Earl's uncle, and most of the Fife Barons in Wallace's defeat at Falkirk, 22 July 1298, being succeeded in his Barony and Office by his son

3.    Sir David de Balfour of Strathor Knight and Seneschal of Fife who sat, along with Malcolm de Balfour, as a Baron in the Parliament assembled by Robert the Brus at Cambuskenneth 6 November 1314 and set his seal to the Act of Forfeiture then passed against the adherents of Balliol, and again in that held at Ayr by the same King 26 April 1315. On his way to the siege of Carlisle he sat as a Baron of Parliament and sealed the Act entailing the Scottish Crown on Edward Bruce. He fell in Ireland in the army of that Prince, 1318, leaving by his wife Isabel, The daughter of the Macduff, son of Malcolm 8th Earl of Fife by a daughter of Llewellyn Prince of Wales a son

4. Sir Malcolm de Balfour of Strathor and Pittencrieff, Knight and Seneschal of Fife who sat with his father in the Parliament of Cambuskenneth and sealed the forfeiture there passed 1314. Duncan 11th Earl of Fife confirmed to his cousin Sir Malcolm the lands of Pittencrieff. He was slain by the English in one of the battles of the disputed succession between David Bruce and Edward Balliol. Tradition fixes his death as caused by wounds received in defense of his kinsman Earl Duncan at the Battle of Durham 1346 when the Earl was taken prisoner and the kindness shown by the family of Fife to his son Sir Michael may thus be accounted for. The Earl on returning to Scotland from captivity testifies his thanks for his escape by a gift of the Church of Auchtermuchty to Lundoris Abbey for the safety of the souls of his friends who fell on that occasion. Sir Malcolm left a son (it is stated elsewhere that his son who succeded him, Michael, was indeed the son of Adam, the son of A.V Sir Michael Balfor and brother of A VI.   Sir John de Balfor)

5.Sir Michael de Balfour of Strathor, Knight, was brought up by his kinsman (Duncan 12th Earl of Fife) who, in 1353, gave him the valuable lands of Mountwhanney/ Munquhanny in exchange for the poorer property of Pittencrieff. He became male representative and Chief of the family on the death of his kinsman (A5)Sir John de Balfour of that Ilk, and as such assumed the Arms of that family without a difference as they are quartered by Betun of Balfour on marriage with the heiress, Janet. The countess Isabella, daughter of earl Duncan, also bestowed many grants of land upon her "cousin" Sir Michael, who, at her death without issue, should have succeeded as her nearest heir, but the regent Albany, the brother of her second husband, obtained the earldom in virtue of a disposition in his favour by the countess. Sir Michael died about 1385.

Mountwhanney Castle

6. His eldest son, Michael Balfour 1st of Mountwhanney and Strathor is present with other noblemen at the Perambulation of the Marches of Kirkness and Lochor 6 July 1395. He witnesses many Charters by Earl Duncan, Countess Isabel, and Walter de Moravia their kinsman. He married Elena (Helen) de Abernethy, probably the same Helen daughter of Laurence de Abernethy forfeited by David II, or perhaps a daughter of Sir John Abernethy of Balgony and Balgarvy whose brother Sir George of Salton witnesses Duke Robert's Charter of Confirmation to Sir Michael 1378. By this lady he had a son who succeeded him

7. His son, Sir Laurence de Balfour (2nd) of Munquhanny and Strathor Knight, who was present on the part Duncan 8th Earl of Lennox at a Convention relative to the Patronage of Polmadie between that Earl and William, Bishop of Glasgow at the West Chapel of Edinburgh Castle where the Earl was then a prisoner 7 January 1424 - 5. Sir Laurence fell in France (probably about 1429 when Sir John Stewart of Darnley, the Earl's son-in-law, was slain at the siege of Orleans) leaving by Marjory, his wife, three sons

I.      George de Balfour 3rd and Mountwhanney of Strathor his eldest and heir and progenitor of Sir James Balfour of Pittendriech

II.      David Balfour of Carraldstone or Carriston. Whose family terminated in an heiress, Isabel Balfour, who married a younger son of the fourth Lord Seton, ancestor of the Setons of Carriston

III.      Sir John Balfour of Balgarvy Lord, received from James II a gift of the lands of Easter and Wester Balgarvy (from the Celtic Bal-garbh, the rough town or dwelling), formerly held by a branch of the Fife family of Balfour., In 1445/6 He had a grant of the lands of Burleigh in Kinross-shire, which were erected into a free barony in his favour, an attainted barony in the peerage of Scotland, by King James the II, in the ninth year of his reign. (See Balfours of Burleigh)

8. George de Balfour 3rd of Munquhanny and Strathor succeeded his father and marrying Christian Lyndsay probably of the family of the Byres had by her two sons, to the younger of whom, James, he gave his lands of Ballo by a Charter dated at Munquhanny 26 February 1458 - 9, and another dated at Auchtermuchty (the residence John Lord Lindsay of Byres) 27 March 1467. The elder of the sons was

9. Sir John de Balfour Knight, Sheriff of Fife witnesses the Charter of Ballo 1458 - 9, and predeceasing his father leaving a son

10. Sir Michael de Balfour of Munquhanny and Strathor in whose favour his grandfather (while attending James III with John Lord Lindsay and other Fife Barons against the rebellious James, Earl of Douglas) resigned his lands of Munquhanny, Strathor etc. into the King's hands for new investment to the said Michael, and who accordingly received a Charter from James III at Edinburgh 13 October 1465. By his wife Janet Ogilvy he had a son Michael and a daughter Margaret, the wife of William 3rd Earl of Rothes. Sir Michael and his son-in-law fell at Flodden 1513.

11. Michael Balfour 1st Baron of Munquhanny and Strathor received on his father's resignation at Cupar a Charter whereby James IV created his whole estate into the Barony of Munquhanny in his favour with reservation of the life rent of the Castle of Munquhanny to his father and mother 1 April 1493. On his marriage he settled on his wife Marjory, daughter of George Drury of that Ilk, his lands of Strathor 19 October 1495, and predeceasing his father died in 1509, leaving a son Andrew who succeeded his grandfather.

12. Andrew Balfour 2nd Baron of Munquhanny, being a child at the death of his father, the Casualty of his marriage was given by James IV to Patrick Mersar and Isabel, Lady Aldie, his spouse 29 January 1509 - 10. As he was still minor at the death of his grandfather his wardship was given by the Regent to Janet daughter of Sir David Stewart of Rosyth and widow of Sir Alexander Bruce of Earlshall 27 May 1517. He married Janet Bruce, daughter of his guardian and settled upon her his lands of Strathor 3 September 1530. After an active life of political and warlike exertion and risk, he died circa 1583 - 4 leaving a large family of whom

I.      Michael, the eldest, predeceased him, but left issue

II.      Sir Gilbert Balfour of Westray, Master of Queen Mary's Household, Sheriff of Orkney, married and had issue SEE THE BALFOURS OF WESTRAY AND TRENABIE

  III.      Sir James Balfour of Pittendriech, Abbot of Pittenweem, Lord President

IV.      David Balfour of Balbathy and New Grange

V.      George Balfour, Prior of Charterhouse

VI.      Robert Balfour, Provost of Kirk o' Field

VII.      John

13. Michael Balfour of Munquhanny, received from his father (reserving his own life rent of the Castle and the terce of his wife Janet Bruce) the Barony of Munquhanny 28 January 1540 on his marriage with Janet Boswell, daughter of David Boswell of Balmuto by whom he left a son Michael, the heir of his grandfather. He died circa 1560 - 61.

14. Sir Michael Balfour 3rd Baron of Munquhanny and Westray settled upon Mariota Adamson his wife, half of the lands of Munquhanny reserving the life rent of the Castle to his grandfather and a reasonable terce to the widow of his father 10 May 1562. He acquired the Estate of Westray in Orkney from his cousin Archibald Balfour of Westray(son of Sir Gilbert of Westray) 1 January 1588 and added largely by purchases from the Earls of Orkney to his property there. He thereafter resided mostly at Noltland Castle in that County. He served himself heir to his grandfather 6 December 1592 and died 1603 leaving two sons and was succeeded by the elder

   15.      Sir Andrew Balfour, during his father's life "of Strathor" afterwards "of Munquhanny" to whom on his marriage with Mary, daughter of Sir James Melville of Halhill, his father, with consent of his mother, gave the Tenandry of Westray 12 November 1590. He was knighted at the baptism of Prince Henry 30 August 1594. Being compelled by his creditors, Andrew Wemyss of Myrecairney, to part with the whole of his ancient patrimony of Munquhanny and Strathor he died 1615, and was succeded by his son

  1. Michael Balfour of Munquhanny and New Grange


  1. Andrew, out of the country in 1632.


  1. John, out of the country in 1632.


IV. Robert, m. to Grissell, daughter of Sir James Learmonth, of Balcomie, (she was widow of Alexander Bonar, 2nd of Balgirsho, who had d. in February of 1654 and by whom she had issue).


  1. Christian


  1. Isobel


  1. Elizabeth


  1. Margaret, m. to Mr John Schaw, Chamberlain to Lord Mar.

16. Michael Balfour, of Montquhannie and Newgrange, infeft in the ¼ part lands of Newgrange as heir to his uncle Robert Balfour on 30 July, 1619.12 He granted a charter to Margaret Melville, his mother, for the liferent of the quarter-part of the lands of Newgrange on 3 November, 1619 m. to Jean, daughter of John Melville, of Rait, (c/m 26 July & 2 August, 1623) and d. prior to February of 1654. He was father of,

17. Andrew Balfour of Grange, retoured heir to his father in the ¼ part of the town and lands of Newgrange on 18 October, 1653, and in which he was infeft on 4 February, 1654. He was retoured heir to Robert Balfour, his granduncle and son of "Balfour of Monquhannie" on 1 July, 1673, and m. at Balmerino on 9 January, 1653, to Christian, daughter of David Balfour, of Middle Sandford, whom he infeft in his fourth-part of the lands of Newgrange in implementation of their contract of marriage on 4 February, 1654. He d. prior to April of 1688 and was father of,

I. David Balfour, of Grange, (see below).

II. William, c. at Balmerino on 10 June, 1666.

III. Andrew, c. at Balmerino on 29 November, 1668.

IV John, c. at Balmerino on 2 July, 1671.

V. Peter, c. at Balmerino on 13 July, 1673,

VI. Christian, c. at Balmerino on 27 May, 1655.

VII Grisel, c. at Balmerino on 23 January, 1659.

18. David Balfour, of Grange, c. at Balmerino on 25 January, 1654, had a disposition from his father for the fourt-part of the lands of Newgrange on 15 October, 1680 and to whom he was retoured heir on 11 April, 1688. He m. Elizabeth, second daughter of Sir David Balfour, of Forret, to whom he granted a charter for an annual rent from his lands of Grange in implementation of their contract of marriage on 21 July, 1686.16 He d. on 16 April, 1729, and was father of,

I. Ann, m. firstly at Balmerino on 17 October, 1703, to James Balfour, of Raddernie and secondly to Mr John Halkerston, Surgeon in Cupar, second son of William Halkerston, of Rathillet, and, with her father, disponed their fourth-part of the lands of Newgrange to Dr. Alexander Scrimgeour, Professor of Divinity at St. Andrews, on 13 August, 1723.

II. Elizabeth, c. at Balmerino on 1 March, 1690, and d. young.

III. Elizabeth, c. at Balmerino on 25 October, 1692, and d. young.

IV. Barbara, c. at Balmerino on 27 June, 1695, and d. young

V. Katherine, m. at Balmerino on 12 August, 1718, to Mr. Peter Crambie, Merchant in Cupar.

THE BALFOURS OF WESTRAY AND TRENABIE

Gilbert Balfour probably played the leading role in the murder of Lord Darnley, consort of Mary I. Balfour married Margaret Bothwell, the sister of Adam Bothwell, Bishop of Orkney who endowed him with the isle of Westray, when it was episcopal property. At Noltland on Westray, he had built one of the most impressive castles in the Orkneys, and indeed the Northern Isles was built, Noltland Castle. The Castle is situated above the Bay of Pierowall, was built in the 1560s. It is notable for an unusually large spiral staircase, "second only to Fyvie Castle, while its triple tiers of gunloops are without parallel in Scotland, if not Europe". Balfour himself was executed before he could use the castle, for conspiring against the King of Sweden. He was succeded by his son Archibald who appears to have died without issue and the castle and the lands reverted to his father Gilbert’s grandson. Gilbert received money from his uncle Michael Balfour , Commendator of Montrose along with Alexander Balfour of Denmylne which enabled Alexander to build Denmylne castle. Interestingly James Balfourof Pittendriech was also implicated in the murder of Lord Darnley, as was Bothwell, possibly related to Adam Bothwell, Bishop of Orkney, The echats, portable goods, of Bothwell were somehow "purloined" for Alexander and Gilbert Balfour after Bothwell's execution. With all of the accusations and interfugue which surounded the murder of Darnley, we will probably never know the truth…..But the Balfours seemed to do very well out of it.

Noltland Castle

19. SEE 12 II . Michael Balfour of Garth acquired the lands of the Lordship of Zetland from his father 17 October 1589 and with his brother's consent those of Garth and Skelwick on his marriage to Margaret, daughter of Malcolm Sinclair of Quendale, Archdean of Zetland 6 July 1593. From his brother, he received the island of Pharay 22 June 1610, and on that gentleman's death succeeding to the wreck of the Orkney estate received 1 November 1615, a Renunciation of the Castle of Noltland from Edward Scollay of Strynie who had held it under his brother. He left by his wife a large family and was succeeded by his eldest son.

20. Patrick Balfour of Pharay to whom his father with consent of his mother gave the lands of Garth on his marriage with Barbara daughter of Francis Moodie of Breckness and Melsetter 12 November 1623, those of the island of Pharay 7 April 1625, and the Castle of Noltland 31 August 1637. By his wife Barbara he had a large family of whom

21. George Balfour of Pharay, his eldest son, received from him the lands of Garth, Pharay etc. on his marriage with Marjory, daughter of James Baikie of Tankerness 26 August 1657. By this lady he had several daughters and two sons. He also had a son Sir John Balfour of 1st Trenabie by his 2nd wife Mary Mckenzie, the daughter of the bishop of Orkney

  1. Patrick Balfour, younger of Pharay, who predeceased him without issue

  2. William Balfour

22.    William Balfour who served himself heir to his deceased brother Patrick 6 May 1690 and left an only daughter Isabella who married Archibald Stewart of Brugh and conveyed the lands of Garth, Pharay etc. to her son James Stewart of Brugh 19 February 1761. After the death of Marjory Baikie, George Balfour married secondly Mary McKenzie, daughter of Murdoch, Bishop of Orkney on whom he settled a part of his lands, which became the inheritance of their daughter Isabell Balfour. Isabell Married Archibald Stewart of Brugh who gave the lands of Garth and Pharay to their son James Stewart of Brugh. The Balfour line continued with his son by Willams 2nd marrage

  1. John Balfour of 1st Trenabie

23. John Balfour of 1st Trenabie who settled on his wife Elizabeth (daughter of Thomas Traill, son of Colonel Thomas Traill of Holland) his lands of Trenaby 19 July 1722 and died 3 January 1741, leaving issue a daughter and five sons of whom the eldest

24. William Balfour of Trenabie, served heir to his father 31 March 1741 and to his grandfather 14th September 1778. He married Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of Thomas Covingtrie of Newark and died 1786, leaving issue four daughters and three sons of whom

  1. John Balfour of Trenabie

  2. Colonel Thomas Balfour of Elwick

  3. David Coventry Balfour

(David Coventry Balfour married Marion Mckintosh of Dun Chattan and had 3 sons, David Balfour who married Mary Ogilvy, McKintosh Balfour who married Mary Craigie Balfour, daughter of Captain William Balfour Royal Navy of Elwick and 5th Trenabie and John Osborn Balfour)

25. John Balfour of Trenabie succeeded both his father and mother, was for many years MP for the County of Orkney and dying 15 October 1842 without issue by his wife Harriet (Henrietta) Sullivan was succeeded by his nephew William Balfour, now of Trenabie, only surviving son of

26. Colonel Thomas Balfour of Elwick, second son of William Balfour of Trenabie, who married Frances, only sister of Edward, 2nd Earl Ligonier and died 1799, leaving issue two sons and a daughter, Mary Balfour who married Alexander Brunton and his 2nd son John Edward Ligonier died unmarried He was succeeded by his only surviving son

27.William Balfour Elwick and 4th of Trenabie, heir male of the Family of Balfour and Chief of that Name. Who Married 1st Mary Manson on Kirkwall and 2nd Mary Margaret Blaikie of Kirkwall. He was succeeded By his son

28.Captain William Balfour Royal Navy of Elwick and 5th Trenabie. He had one daughter Mary Craigie Balfour















THE BALFOURS of BURLEIGH,

Fuimus-We have been, Omne solum forti patria-The entire earth is the brave mans homeland

Burleigh Castle, the former seat of the Balfour family

B7. Sir Lawrence, of Strathor and Mountwhanney had 3 sons,

I. Sir George of Strathor and Mountwhanney his heir and progenitor of Sir James Balfour of Pittendriech.

II. His youngest son, David Balfour of Carraldstone or Carriston. whose family terminated in an heiress, Isabel Balfour, who married a younger son of the fourth Lord Seton, ancestor of the Setons of Carriston.

III. His 2nd son Sir John Balfour of Balgarvy, In 1445—6, Sir John Balfour of Balgarvy, from the Celtic Bal-garbh, the rough town or dwelling, had a grant of the lands of Burleigh in Kinross-shire, formerly held by a branch of the Fife family of Balfour and which were erected into a free barony in his favour, by King James the II, in the ninth year of his reign. Sir Alexander Kinloch of that ilk sold the lands of Kinloch to John Balfour of Balgarvie, predecessor to the lord Burleigh. The lands were afterwards the patrimony of the well-known John Balfour of Kinloch, descended from the Balfours of Burleigh. He was one of the most active of the murderers of Archbishop Sharp, fought afterwards at Drumclog and Bothwell bridge, and made his escape to the continent, where he died. At the time Sibbald wrote, the lands of Kinloch belonged to "Mr James Bruce, descended from the family of Airth, who hath built a new house here with gardens and a park

Sir John Balfour of Balgarvy’s eldest son was Michael Balfour, B7 III, 1, progenitor of the Balfours of Burleigh, whose brother James, B7 III, 2, was the progenitor of the Balfours of Denmylne, Forret, and other families of the name. SEE BALFOUR of DENMYLNE

B7 III,

1. Sir Michael Balfour 1st of the Balfours of Burleigh

2. Michael Balfour’s son also called Sir Michael Balfour 2nd designed of Burleigh, who, besides other charters, had one of the lands of Easter and wester Balgarvie, on the 16th February 1505—6, and another to himself and Margaret Musshet his wife, of the lands of Schanwell, 28th May 1512. He had 2 sons, David Balfour 3rd of Burleigh who married Agnes Forrester and died in 1530 and whose son Micheal succeeded his father. Micheal the 2nd of Burliegh may also have had a son call Alexander who is the ancestor of the Balfours of Mackareston and also possibly the ancestor of the Balfours of Inchrye

3. Michael Balfour’s grandson, Michael Balfour of Burleigh, was served heir to his father in 1542. He had a charter of half of the lands of Kinloch and office of coroner of Fife, 18th June 1566. He married Christian, daughter of John Bethune the 2nd of Creich, and had an only child, his sole heiress, Margaret Balfour, who married Sir James Balfour of Pittendriech and Mountwhanney, lord president of the Court of Session, Sir James’ eldest brother, Michael Balfour of Mountwhanney, commendator of Melrose, was the progenitor of the Balfours of Trenaby, in Orkney.This discrepancy may sho that it was Gilbert, sir James who was the progenitor of the Balfours of Trenaby, in Orkney and this Michael was not the commendator of Melrose, see the Balfours of Denmylne

4. Margaret Balfour of Burleigh and Sir James Balfour of Pittendriech, B 12 III, had six daughters and three sons. Margaret was the daughter of Michael Balfour of Burleigh and Balgarvie, by whom he acquired these lands, and from him the Lords Balfour of Burleigh were descended

Sir James Balfour of Pittendriech, an eminent lawyer of the sixteenth century, was a son of Sir Michael Balfour of Mountquhanny in the parish of Kilmany, Fife. Being designed for the church, he studied both divinity and law, as was usual in those days. His brother David was one of the murderers of Cardinal Bethune, and he himself, after the murder, joined the conspirators in the castle of St. Andrews. On the surrender of the castle in June 1547, he was put into the same galley with Knox, and carried prisoner to France. After his return to Scotland in 1549, he abandoned his former friends, and denied that he had been in the castle of St. Andrews or the French galleys at all, for which Knox has severely denounced him in his History. He was appointed official of the archbishop of St. Andrews within the archdeaconry of Lothian; and in 1559, he gave his active support to the queen regent against the lords of the congregation, which led Knox to declare that "of an old professor he had become a new denier of Christ Jesus and manifest blasphemer of his eternal verity." (Knox’s History, page 173.) From this it has been supposed that Balfour had become a Roman Catholic. He seems to have been, with good reason, suspected of tampering with some of the protestant lords, as a boy of his was taken with a writ which "did open the most secret thing that was devised in the council, yea, those very things which were thought to have been known but to very few." (Ibid. p. 200.) He escaped the search of the reformers of Fife in February 1560, when the lords of Wemyss, Seafield and others were taken prisoners, and about the same time he was appointed parson of Flisk in Fifeshire. Shortly after the return of Queen Mary from France, 12th Nov. 1561, he was nominated an extraordinary lord of session under the title of Lord Pittendriech, and two years after, in 1563, he was made an ordinary lord. In 1564, on the institution of the Commissary Court at Edinburgh, he became chief commissary with a salary of four hundred marks. In July 1565 he was sworn of the Privy Council. On the night of Rizzio’s murder, he was with the queen at Holyroodhouse, and his enemies intended to have hanged him at the same time, but he made his escape. (Keith’s Hist. p. 332.) He was subsequently knighted by the queen, and promoted to the office of clerk-register, in place of Mr. James Macgill. In 1566 he was one of the commissioners for revising and publishing the old laws called Regiam Majestatem, &c., and the acts of parliament. (Douglas’ Peerage, vol. i. p. 177.) He is said to have been the original deviser of the murder of Darnley, to have framed the bond for mutual support entered into by the conspirators, and to have prepared the house of the Kirk of Field, at Edinburgh, which was possessed by his brother, for the reception of Darnley. (Chalmers’ Life of Mary, vol. ii. p. 25. — Laing’s Dissert. vol. ii. p. 37.) It is certain that on his removal to Edinburgh the unhappy Darnley was "lodged in the mansion of the provost, or chief prebendary of the collegiate church of St. Mary in the Fields, as a place of good air. This house stood nearly on the site of the present north - west corner of Drummond Street, as is ascertained from Gordon’s map of the city of Edinburgh in 1647, where the ruins are indicated as they existed at that period. It is said to have been selected by Sir James Balfour, brother of the provost, and ‘the most corrupt man of his age,’ (Robertson’s Hist. vol. ii. p. 354,) as well fitted from its lonely situation for the intended murder." (Wilson’s Memorials of Edinburgh, vol. i. p. 78.).  Immediately after that dreadful event, which took place 9th February 1567, Balfour was openly accused of having been accessory to it, and a paper of the following tenor was affixed to the door of the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, on the night of the 16th of February: "I, according to the proclamation, have made inquisition for the slaughter of the king, and do find the earl of Bothwell, Mr. James Balfour, parson of Flisk, Mr. David Chambers and black Mr. John Spence, the principal devisers thereof, and if this be not true speir at Gilbert Balfour." (Keith’s Hist. p. 368.) In the beginning of 1567 he had been appointed deputy governor of Edinburgh castle, under the earl of Bothwell, who committed to his care the famous bond, signed by eight bishops, nine earls, and seven barons, declaring that ambitious and unscrupulous nobleman guiltless of Darnley’s murder and a suitable match for the queen, which he afterwards used with fatal effect against the regent Morton. According to the enemies of Mary it was to Sir James Balfour that Bothwell, after Mary’s surrender at Carberry, sent for the casket said to contain the letters that formed the alleged evidence of her guilt; which casket he delivered, but on secret information furnished by him, the messenger was seized by the confederated lords, with whom he was at the time tampering. (Buchanan, b. xviii. p. 51.). After the imprisonment of Mary, James Balfour surrendered the castle of Edinburgh to the regent Murray, on the following conditions: first, a pardon for his share in the king’s murder; secondly, a gift of the priory of Pittenweem, then held by the regent in commendam; thirdly, an heritable annuity to his son out of the rents of the priory of St. Andrews; and, fourthly, a gift of five hundred pounds to himself. These terms being fulfilled, the castle was delivered into the hands of Sir William Kirkaldy of Grange, who was appointed governor. He was continued in the Privy Council by the regent Murray, to please whom he resigned his office of clerk register, when Sir James Macgill was re-appointed. For this service, in December of the same year (1567) Balfour received a pension of five hundred pounds, and was appointed president of the Court of Session. He was present at the battle of Langside on the side of the regent, and was instrumental in obtaining the overthrow of his former benefactress. (Melville’s Memoirs, p. 202.) Seldom long constant to any party, and equally ungrateful to Murray for the honours conferred upon him as he had been to his hapless sister, Sir James Balfour, during the years 1568 and 1569, busily engaged in intrigues in behalf of Mary, and was, in consequence, in August of the latter year, apprehended by the earl of Lennox, for participation in his son’s murder. He was, however, set at liberty on caution, but was never brought to trial, having made his peace with the regent by means of large bribes to his servants. (Ibid. p. 221.) After the assassination of the regent in January 1570, he openly joined the party of the queen. In Bannatyne’s Journal, under date April 1570, there occurs the following passage:

      "The quenis factione, to wit the Hamiltones, Argyle, Huntlie, Boyd, Crawford, Ogilbie, and Sir James Balfoure, remained at Lynlythgow, and there, after divers consultationes, vnderstanding that the Englis armie was retired furth of Scottis boundis, tuke baldness vpon them be oppin proclamatione to set vp the authoritie of that murtherer and knawin adultres called the quene, and so all farther conference betwixt the two parties ceased; for the lordis that sustened the kingis querrall answerit in few wordis, that they culd have no farther commoning with opin and periured traytoris, as they were everie one. (Bannatyne’s Journal, p. 14.) At the time Malt-land of Lethington and Kirkaldy of Grange maintained the castle of Edinburgh for the queen, Balfour joined them, and his name, with that of Gilbert and Robert Balfour, occurs in a list of persons forfeited on the 30th day of August 1571. (Ibid. p. 258.) By the end of the following year, he made his peace with the regent Morton, and was a chief instrument in bringing about the pacification, at Perth, between the king’s and queen’s party in January 1573, which, by the submission of all the queen’s lords, left Kirkaldy and Maitland entirely at the mercy of their ruthless enemy, Morton. Bannatyne says he "remaned not in the castle with the rest of the traytoris, albeit he is als grit a traytor as ony of thame all. He gave in a long scrole to the lordis of the articles of the parliament, that he might be restored to all thingis, &c., whairwith mony sturreth, and in speciall the bischop of Orknay, now abbot of Halirudhous, wha protestit for the copie of it; but I hard no word that it was obteaned. Sindrie scroles were gewin in vpon the said Sir James declaring his treassonable dealingis in tymes bypast; nottheles his dres is made with the regent, and he hes tane him in his protectione." (Bannatyne’s Journal, p. 440.) He seems to have been at this time governor of Blackness castle, on the firth of Forth, and to fill up the measure of his treachery to his former friends, when Sir William Kirkaldy’s brother, Sir James, arrived there from France with a supply of money and stores for the queen’s service, he received him with due honour and pretended welcome, but the very night of his guest’s arrival, he placed him in a dungeon heavily chained, and with the money which Sir James Kirkaldy had brought from France, departed for Edinburgh to hand it over to Morton. He had compounded with the regent for his pardon, and was to have paid him a large sum of money for his composition; but, says Bannatyne, "the getting agane the Bracknes, and also Mr. James Kirkaldie payis that, as is reported; for it was affirmed that he said to the regent, gif I can get you as gude (or better) as my compositione, sall not I be freed thereof; which the regent grantit. For as I have said, it was alledgit that the said Sir James had written to Mr. James Kirkaldie, befoir his cumm ing out of France, to cum to the Blacknes, and not to cum to the north; becaus that gif the lord Huntlie had gottin the gold, he wald hald it to himself, or elis the maist part thereof, and so give to thame of the castle what he lyked. But howsoever the mater was, the said Mr. James come and landit at the Blacknes, a little efter the parliament, with his cofferis, thinking it had bene sure for him as befoir; and leist that ony thing suld be knawin, but that it ware tane perforce, Sir James, or the Captane Alexander Stewart, had gewin advertisment of the said James cuming." (Ibid. p. 441.)

      The regent Morton, however, was not disposed to put his trust in a man who had betrayed and deserted both sides as Balfour had done, and in the following month of February, a complaint against him and his brother for the murder of Darnley and other grievous crimes, which are recited in full by Bannatyne in his Journal, (pp. 444—455), was read before the lords of the articles in parliament; in consequence of which he was obliged to make his escape into France, where he remained for some years. On the resignation of the regency by Morton in 1578, he returned to Scotland, and joined the party who watched for that nobleman’s destruction. In 1579 Morton recovered his authority, and Balfour again fled, when the forfeiture of 1571 was re-enacted.

      In 1580, after James the Sixth had assumed the reins of government, Balfour returned to Scotland to organise a plan for the destruction of Morton. On the trial of that nobleman he produced the celebrated bond already mentioned, signed by him and others for the support of Bothwell, as well as other written evidence of his guilt, which he had so long preserved for such an occasion. After Morton’s death he was restored against the forfeiture of 1579, by act of parliament. Sir James Balfour is supposed to have died in January 1583 or 1584 when he was fifty two, leaving as his heir Sir Robert -- then only six years old. He is the reputed author of the well-known collection of decisions entitled ‘Balfour’s Practicks, or a System of the more ancient Law of Scotland,’ a voluminous work which remained in manuscript until 1754, when it was published by the Ruddimans, in a folio volume of 684 pages, with a life of Balfour prefixed by Walter Goodall. This work continued to be used by practitioners till superseded by Stair’s Institutes. Lord Hailes observes that Balfour’s work is interpolated, for it mentions certain acts of parliament and the names of certain peers that did not exist till after the death of Balfour. It is very likely to have been added to after his time.

  1. Sir James Balfour, knight, the second son of Sir James Balfour of Pittendriech, was created by James the Sixth in 1619 a peer of Ireland, under the title of Lord Balfour, baron of Clonawley, in the county of Fermanagh. His lordship died October 1634, when the title appears to have become extinct. He was married to Grissell Balfour, the daughter of Patrick Balfour the 4th of Pitcullo. He was buried at St. Anne’s, Black-friars, London.

  2. William Balfour, the 3rd son who also settled in Ireland, from whom are descended the family of Townley-Balfour of Townleyhall, in the county of Louth.

  3. Marie Balfour who married Walter Arnot of Arnot

  4. Alexander Balfour of Balgarvie

  5. Henry Balfour, who married Maria Van Leeuven

  6. Helen Balfour who married David Barkley of Collairnie died 1622

  7. Sir Michael Balfour of Burleigh, The eldest son Sir James Balfour of Pittendriech

5. Sir Michael Balfour of Burleigh, The eldest son Sir James Balfour of Pittendriech had a charter of the lands of Nethertown of Auchinhuffis in Banffshire, 28th October 1577, and another of the barony of Burleigh, 29th October 1606. By James the VI, he was honoured with the title of Lord Balfour of Burleigh, by letters patent, bearing date at Royston, in England, 7th August 1606, Sir Michael being then James’ ambassador to the duke of Tuscany and the duke of Lorraine. (Sibbald’s Hist. of page 279.) He was created a lord of parliament under the same title at Whitehall 10th July 1607, without any mention of heirs in the creation. (Carmichael’s Tracts.) His lordship was subsequently sworn of the Privy Council. On 7th Sept. 1614, a charter was granted to Michael, Lord Balfour of Burleigh, of the barony of Kilwinning, with the title of Lord Kilwinning, to him and his heirs and assigns whatever. (Douglas’ Peerage, vol. i. page 180.) His lordship married first, Margaret Adam son, and secondly, Margaret, daughter of Lundie of Lundie, by whom he had a daughter Margaret, who succeeded him as baroness Balfour of Burleigh.

6. Margaret, baroness Balfour of Burleigh married Robert Arnot, the son of Sir Robert Arnot of Fernie, chamberlain of Fife. This Robert Arnot assumed on his marriage the name of Balfour, and had the title of Lord Burleigh, in virtue of a letter from the king. At the meeting of the Scottish parliament in 1640, the estates, in consequence of the absence of a commissioner from his majesty, appointed Lord Burleigh their president, and he was continued in that office in 1641. He was also one of the commissioners for negotiating the treaty of peace with England in 1640 and 1641, and in the latter year was one of the privy councilors constituted by parliament. During Montrose’s wars, he was actively engaged on the side of the parliament, and seems to have acted in the north as a general of the forces. In September 1644 the marquis of Montrose, with an army of about two thousand men, approached Aberdeen, and summoned it to surrender, but the magistrates, after advising with Lord Burleigh, who then commanded in the town a force nearly equal in number to the assailants, refused to obey the summons, upon which a battle ensued within half-a-mile of the town, on the 12th of that month, in which Burleigh was defeated. He was also one of the committee of parliament attached to the army under General Baillie, which, through the dissensions of its leaders, was totally routed by the troops of Montrose on the bloody field of Kilsyth 15th August 1645. He opposed the "engagement" to march into England for the rescue of King Charles, and was one of those who effectually dissuaded Cromwell from the invasion of Scotland. In 1649, under the act for putting the kingdom in a posture of defense, Lord Burleigh was one of the colonels for the county of Fife, and the same year he was nominated one of the commissioners of the treasury and exchequer. Robert Arnot of Fernie, alias Robert Balfour, Lord Burleigh died at Burleigh 10th August 1663. By his wife, who predeceased him in June 1639, he had four daughters and one son.

  1. Jean, the eldest daughter, married, in 1628, David, second earl of Wemyss, and died 10th November 1649, leaving one daughter, Jean, countess of Angus and Sutherland.

  2. Margaret, the second daughter, became the wife of Sir James Crawford of Kilbirnie, without issue.

  3. Isabel, the third daughter, married Thomas,1st Lord Ruthven, and had issue.

  4. Jean, the youngest daughter, married her cousin, James Arnot of 3rd Fernie.

  5. John Balfour his son succeeded him

7. John Balfour, 3rd Lord Balfour of Burleigh spent his younger years in France, where he was wounded. On his return home, on passing through London, he married, early in 1649, without his father’s consent, Isabel Balfour, daughter of Sir William Balfour of Pitcullo, lieutenant of the tower of London. His father, with the view of having the marriage annulled, got it proposed, in a general way, to the General Assembly the same year, but no answer was given to the application. Lord Burleigh died in 1688, It is possible that this John Balfour is the same as the John Balfour of Burley of Sir Walter Scott’s novel of Old Mortality, was usually designed of Kinloch. He was the principal actor in the murder of Archbishop Sharp. His estate was forfeited, and a reward of ten thousand marks offered for him. He fought both at Drumclog and at Bothwell Bridge, and is said to have afterwards taken refuge in Holland, where he offered his services to the prince of Orange. He is generally supposed to have died at sea on his voyage back to Scotland, immediately previous to the Revolution. There are strong presumptions, however, for believing that he never left Scotland, but found an asylum in the parish of Roseneath, Dumbartonshire, under the protection of the Argyle family, and that having assumed the name of Salter, his descendants continued there for many generations. The last of the race died in 1815. (New Stat. Acc. of Scotland, article Roseneath.)   We learn from Schiller’s History of the Siege of Antwerp from 1570 to 1580, that a Sir Andrew Balfour and his company of Scots defended that city against the Prince of Parma. The name seems still to exist in Holland, for in the Brussels papers of 28th July 1808, Lieutenant - colonel Balfour de Burleigh is named Commandant of the troops of the king of the Netherlands in the West Indies.— (Note 2, B. to Scott’s Old Mortality.)

He had six daughters and 3 Sons

  1. John Balfour of Fernie, was a lieutenant-colonel in the reign of James the Seventh. John Balfour had two sons, Arthur, father of John Balfour of Fernie, and John, who succeeded by entail to the estate of Captain William Crawford, whose name and arms he assumed, and left issue. See the Balfours of Fernie

  2. Robert Balfour, 4th Lord Balfour of Burleigh

  3. Henry, the 3rd son of Lord Burleigh, was styled of Dunbog, was a major of dragoons, and one of the representatives for the county of Fife in the last parliament of Scotland, in which he warmly opposed the union. See The Balfours of DunBog

  4. Possibly his daughters were called Margaret, Emilia, Jean, Susan and Ann.

8. His son and heir Robert Balfour, 4th lord Balfour of Burleigh, was, in 1689, appointed one of the commissioners for executing the office of clerk register. He died in 1713. His lordship married Lady Margaret Melville, only daughter of George, first earl of Melville, by whom he had a son and two daughters.

  1. Margaret, the eldest, died unmarried at Edinburgh 12th March 1769.

  2. Mary, the younger, married in 1714 Brigadier-general Alexander Bruce of Kennet, and died at Skene in Stirlingshire 7th November 1758, leaving a son and daughter; the former became a lord of session under the title of Lord Kennet.

  3. Robert Balfour

  1. Robert Balfour, fifth Lord Balfour of Burleigh, was a man of a most daring and desperate character. In his early youth, while still master of Burleigh, he fell in love with a girl of inferior rank, whose name has not been given, and in consequence his father sent him to the continent, in the hope that travel would remove the feeling of attachment for her from his mind. Before setting out he exacted a promise from the girl, that she would not marry any one in his absence, declaring that if she did he would put her husband to death, when he came back. Notwithstanding this threat she married Henry Stenhouse, a schoolmaster at Inverkeithing, although not without informing him of the risk he incurred in taking her. On the return of the master of Burleigh his first inquiry was after the girl, and on being informed of her marriage, with two attendants, he proceeded on horseback directly to the school of Stenhouse, and calling the unfortunate schoolmaster to the door, he shot him in the shoulder, 9th April 1707. Stenhouse died of the wound twelve days after. Young Balfour was tried for the murder in the High Court of Justiciary 4th August 1709, when his counsel pleaded in defense that there was no malice prepense; that the wound had not been in a mortal place but in the arm, plainly showing that the intention had been to frighten or correct, not to kill; and lastly, that the libel had not been that the wound was deadly, on the contrary it admitted that the deceased had lived several days after it, and the prisoner would prove ma-. lum regimen and a fretful temper as the immediate causes of death. Notwithstanding this ingenious defense the Jury found him guilty, and he was sentenced, 29th November, to be beheaded 6th January 1710; but a few days before that date he escaped from prison by exchanging clothes with his sister, who was extremely like him. (Maclaurin’s Criminal Trials.) He skulked for some time in the neighbourhood of Burleigh Castle, Kinross-shire, and an ash tree, hollow in the trunk, was long pointed out as his place of shelter and concealment. From having been often the place of his retreat, it bore the name of Burleigh’s Hole. After sustaining the ravages of the weather for more than a century, it was completely blown down in 1822. On the death of his father, Robert Balfour, fourth lord Balfour of Burleigh in 1713, the title devolved on him, He engaged in the rebellion of 1715, for which he was attainted by act of parliament, and his title and estate, which then yielded six hundred and ninety-seven pounds a-year, forfeited to the crown. He died without issue in 1757. The representation of the family of Balfour of Burleigh is claimed by Bruce of Kennet; also, by Balfour of Fernie.



THE BALFOURS OF DUNBOG

THE BALFOURS OF FERNIE

THE BALFOURS OF DENMYLNE

1. Sir John Balfour of Balgarvy’s younger son James Balfour, B7 III, 2, in 1451 obtained from King James II the lands of Denmylne, in the parish of Abdie, and county of Fife, originally belonging to the earls of Fife, and which fell to the crown at the forfeiture of Murdoch duke of Albany. This James Balfour was slain at the siege of Roxburgh, soon after the death of James II, and was the progenitor of the Balfours of Denmylne. Sir James Balfour , in his Topographical Notes, preserved in manuscript in the Advocates Library, says, ' A lytle southe of Lyndores [Abbey] standis Denmiln, of old perteining to the Earllis of Fyff, till King James II. in the 14th year of his reign (1452) gave it to his beloved and familiar servitor James Balfour sone to Sir John Balfour of Balgarvy, Knight.' Denmiln came into the possession of the Crown by the forfeiture of Murdoch, Duke of Albany, a.d. 1424.

2. James Balfour’s son Sir John Balfour, in 1460, as appears from a charter, granted by James III, John married Christian Sibbald, daughter of Peter Sibbald of Rankeillor, and fell with his sovereign, James the IV, at the battle of Flodden, in 1513. In 1501, James IV confirmed the tack of Denmylne to John, where it is called the “Old Fortified Tower of Denmylne” Sir John may also have had a son called Michael who was the commendator of Melrose

3. His son Patrick Balfour in 1541, Sept 29th, in Perth, The King granted “the mill called Denemylne and other properties, for rent serving to the Abbot of Lindores an annual payment of 53 shillings and 4 pence and a duplicant on entrance of heirs. The ‘Historical Records of the Family of Leslie’ show that Patrick Leslie who became Commendator of Lindores and second Lord Lindores was granted in 1600 (alongside apparently all the other properties of Lindores Abbey): ‘…an annual rent of 53 shillings and 4 pence out of the land of Denmylne,’ This is notably the very same amount reserved for the Abbey of Lindores from the Denmylne estate by the King above. -59 years & no inflation, (((((((((((((brother micheal (3) First judicial act in the cause by Master John Manderstoun, canon of Dunbar and prebendary of Beltoun, commissary of John, Archbishop of St. Andrews, and his colleagues, Monday, 5 May, 1567. On this day before the said Master John Manderstoun sitting for the accustomed tribunal of these causes before noon in the parish church of St. Giles, Edinburgh, appeared Master Edmund Hay, proctor of the Earl of Bothuill, and produced the same Earl's mandate and exhibited the summons [citatio] of the judges. Then the same proctor produced on the Earl's behalf the articled libel against his said putative wife and sought that it be proceeded with as of right. The said judge thereupon caused to be publicly summoned the said Jane Gordon and the witnesses named in the foregoing summons. Wherefore appeared Master Henry Kinros as proctor of the said Jane and produced his mandate in due form to defend her. The plaintiff's libel having been denied by the said Master Henry Kinros, Master Edmund Hay produced his witnesses in proof of it, namely, Master Michael Balfour, commendator of Melrose abbey, Master David Chalmer, chancellor of Rosse, James Culane, captain, David Kyntor, inhabitants of the town of Leyth and Master David Quhitlaw, jurisconsult. The oaths of the witnesses being then taken, the judge assigned the following day for the publication of the depositions.)))))))))Master Michael Balfour, commendator of Melrose, believes the first article to be true. He was in the neighbourhood at the time of the marriage but kept to his house with a wounded foot or would have been personally present at the ceremony. Believes the second article to be true as he had often heard the same affirmed by many trustworthy persons.)))))))))))))))))))))))))http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=112027

4. His son Alexander Balfour, who built Denmylne castle, Was involved in the legal proffesion and had a partenership with John Balfour of Pilrig. He was married to firstly to Marion Balfour of Inchrye and latterly to Janet Hay. During the period of the at the dissolution of the Church, he “acquired” he lands of Hopcarton and Kingledoors surrounding the the monastary of Melrose. The position of ownership of the lands were rather obscure although the monks had previously claimed the lands. On James, the earl of Bothwell's forfeiture, the superiority of the monastery passed to Michael Balfour, (an uncle/cousin) Commendator (Abbott) of Melrose, who on 2nd April, 1558, granted a charter of the lands to Alexander Balfour of Denmylne, who in 1573-4 confirmed Somerville's right of possession. A Gift was also made to Alexander of the escheat goods of James, the earl of Bothwell and also Robert “Hob” Ormistoun after their trial on the 20th Dec 1567, two of the main plotters in the murder of Darnley along side James Balfour of Pittendriech, Parson of Flisk, nearby Newburgh, who were found guilty of treason. A year later Alexander seized the great chast of Melrose with the “ charters and evidents” Another of Alexander’s cousin, Gilbert Balfour of Westry also benefited from The commendator of Melrose and with these benefites, ordered the construction of Notland Castle, Orkney Islands, This Z-shaped castle in 1560, but it was destroyed by Covenanters in 1650.

5. His son Sir Michael Balfour was knighted at Holyroodhouse, 26th March 1630, by George Viscount Dupplin, chancellor of Scotland, under a special warrant from Charles the I, Sir Michael was comptroller of the household to Charles the First, and was equally distinguished for his military courage and civil prudence. By his wife, Jane, daughter of James Durham of Pitkerrow he had five sons and nine daughters, seven of whom were honourably married. Sir Michael Balfour bestowed on his sons the best education the times could afford, and they all rose to distinction in their several paths. It is said that Sir Michael lived to see three hundred of his descendants, which, if correct, is the more remarkable, as within one hundred years of his death the male line of his family became extinct,

In the front of this steading of Denmiln there is an elaborately carved stone, bearing the arms of Balfour and Durham, with the initials. M. B. & J. D.


No coat of arms is evident at this steading anymore.


The following is a copy of the inscription on the monument in Abdie Church, raised to the memory of Sir Michael Balfour, by his grandson Sir Robert Balfour.

D.O.M.S.

D. MICHAELIO BALFURIO A DENMIL EQUITI AURATO AUO PRÆSTANTIS
PIETATE INSIGNI IN PATRIAM
FIDE SPECTATO AULAM IMPERIALEM
EXCELLENTISS. CAROLI II. IN SCOTI
Æ, ANGLIÆ, FRANCIÆ ET HIBERNIÆ
MONARCHEI CELCIS, TRIUM REGNI ORDINUM STATUO OB SUMMAM
PRUDENTIAM CO-OPTATORET EIUS CONTRA ROTULIATOR PRONUNCIATO
SENIOMORBOQUE CONFECTO III FEB: AN. CIC. IDCLII. AETAT. LXXII.

D. JOANNÆ DURHAMIÆ AVIÆ PAT : DIGNISS : RELlGIONE IN DEUM,
CHARITATE IN EGENOS CLARISS. UT AMARANTINA FRUERETUR GLORI
Æ
CORONA IMMATURE EXTINCT
Æ, 10. NOVEM, AN. CIC. IDCXL. AETAT LIX.

("TO THE GLORY OF GOD. In memory of my grandfather. Sir Michael Balfour of Denmiln, Knight, a most excellent man, conspicuous for his lofty sense of duty and held in high regard for his patriotism, chosen by a decree of the Three Estates of the Realm because of the excellence of his judgment, to be a member of the Royal Household of His Gracious Majesty Charles II, King of Scotland, England, France and Ireland, and nominated its Comptroller, died of old age and disease 4th Feb, 1652, in his 72nd year. Also my fathers mother, Lady Joan Durham, a most worthy lady, distinguished for her piety and noted for her kindness to the poor, all too soon taken away on 10th Nov 1640, in her 50th year, to enjoy an everlasting crown of glory.")

He died at Denmiln, on the 4th February 1652 at the age of 72, and was buried in Abdie Church on the 20th of the same month. The great length of time which was allowed to elapse betwixt Sir Michael's death and burial cannot fail to strike modern readers with surprise. It arose from the custom of entertaining all relatives and neighbours so long as the body lay unburied, with a profuse hospitality, which was not bounded by temperance. Sir Michael had 5 sons and 4 daughters


  1. Alexander of Lumbarnie, 2nd son, designed ‘of Lumbanie,

  2. Sir Michael Balfour of Randerston 3rd son See Balfours of Randerston

  3. Sir David Balfour of Forret, 4th son See Balfours of Forret

  4. Sir Andrew Balfour 5th son See Balfours of NorthBank

  5. Sir James Balfour 1st and eldest son

  6. Elisabeth Balfour married William Murray of Drumcairn and latterly of Binn

  7. Alison Balfour married James Cheape of Ormiston and died in1701

  8. Lillias & Margaret



6. Sir James Balfour, 1st son, 1st Baronet of Denmylne and Kinnaird,1600–c1658



Prefixed to the edition of His 'Annales' published in 1824, is an engraved portrait of Sir James, from an original, which was in the possession of the late Lord Belhaven.

Sir James Balfour of Kinnaird, the eldest son of Sir Michael, and the heir to his title and estates, is the most widely known of the family, from the writing's he has left behind him on antiquarian subjects. He was born in the year 1603 or 4. He soon displayed a capacity for study, and a taste for poetry. Contemporary writers complimented him in verse, on his poetical compositions, several of which were in Latin and others in Scotch, but none of them have descended to posterity. Sir James was in terms of the closest intimacy with Drummond of Hawthornden, the well-known Scottish poet. In some of Sir James' correspondence, preserved in the Advocates' Library, he says, in a letter to Drummond, 'your starrie "Urania," on the wing's of a strong wind, flees by us, in every ones handes; qnherfor I intreid you wold you have me deprived of it? Have you thought me dead to the Muses that either I could not judge of it, or so dull that I could not praise it.' The starri." ' Urania' to which Sir James alludes, is a collection of spiritual poems published by Drummond under that title. Many of Drummond's poems have a grandeur of conception, and are pervaded by a penetrating sense of beauty, which makes them worthy of being more read and better known.

The following sonnet from the 'Urania' which Sir James was so impatient to see, is admirably conceived, and has a sustained thought running through it, which gains on reperusal:—

' To spread the azure canopy of heaven, ,

And make it twinkle with those spangs of gold,

To stay this mighty mass of earth so even.

That it should all, and nought should it uphold ;

To give strange motions to the planets seven,

Of Jove to make so meek, and Mars so bold ;

To temper what is moist, dry, hot, and cold

Of all that jars that sweet accords are given ;

Lord, to thy wisdom nought is, nor thy might :

But that thou shouldst, thy glory laid aside,

Come meanly in mortality to bide,

And die for those deserv'd eternal plight,
A wonder is so far above our wit,
That angels stand amazed to think on it.'

The reading of a sonnet like this, or the following (also by Drummond), which were often read within the walls of Denmiln when they were warm with life and happiness, brings before us the thoughts and feelings of the inmates, far more vividly than the most laboured description could convey.

Sweet bird, that singst away the early hours,
Of winter's past or coming void of care,
Well pleased with delights which present are,
Fair seasons, budding sprays, sweet-smelling flowers ;

To rocks, to springs, to rills, from leafy bowers
Thou thy Creator's goodness dost declare,
And what dear gifts on thee he did not spare,
A stain to human sense in sin that lowers.
Vknat soul can be so sick which by thy songs,
Attir'd in sweetness, sweetly is not driven
Quite to forget earth's turmoils, spites, and wrongs,
And lift a reverend eye and thought to heaven ?

Sweet artless songster, thou my mind dost raise
To airs of spheres, yes, and to angels' lays."

The accompanying portrait of him is from an original picture in the possession of Lord Belhaven. His youthful efforts in verse were noticed with commendation by the poet Leach or Leochaeus, in his Strencae, published in 1626. He had successfully translated Leach’s Latin poem, Panthea, into the Scottish vernacular; and Sir Robert Sibbald, who, in his Memoria Balfouriana, gives an account of his life and writings, tells us that he had seen a volume of Latin and Scottish poems, written by Balfour, not now extant. After the completion of his academical course Sir James seems to have spent some years subsequent to l626 abroad, availing himself of every opportunity of adding to his stores of knowledge and of improving himself by intercourse with eminent literary men. 'At the close of his continental travels, in order to prosecute the study of heraldry, Balfour repaired to London, where he became acquainted with Sir Robert Cotton, also with Sir William Segar, garter king- at - arms, who obtained from the College of Heralds a highly honourable testimonial in his favour, signed and sealed by all the members of that body. He likewise became known to Roger Dodsworth, and Sir William Dugdale, to whom he communicated several charters, and other pieces of information regarding Scottish ecclesiastical antiquities, which they inserted in their Monasticon Anglicanum, under the title Caenobia Scotica, and which Balfour afterwards expanded into a volume, called Monasticon Scoticum. Amongst other distinguished persons of his own country whose friendship he enjoyed, were Sir Robert Aytoun, and the earl of Stirling. His intercourse with Sir Robert, and other men of similar tastes seems to have given a bent to his future studies. He turned his attention to the study of heraldry and of historical antiquities, and on his achievements on these subjects his fame chiefly rests.

On his return to Denmilne, devoted himself to the study of the antiquities of his native country. "It was, indeed, fortunate for his progress," says Sibbald, "that several learned men had begun to illustrate the history of Scotland. Of these, Robert Maule, commissary of St. Andrews, had engaged in a work concerning the origin of our nation, while David Buchanan had applied an accurate criticism to the older monuments of Scottish story. Mr. David Hume of Godscroft had undertaken to refute the objections against the high antiquity of the nation; the labours of Sir Robert Gordon of Straloch shed no inconsiderable light on the earlier history of Scotland; while Robert Johnstone detailed the transactions of British policy, in conjunction with those of France, the Netherlands, and Germany, from the year 1572 to the year 1628. Mr. William Drummond of Hawthornden recorded the history of the five Jameses; Mr. Guthry, the events which characterized the progress of our civil war; and Mr. Wishart, afterwards bishop of Edinburgh, commemorated the actions of the celebrated marquis of Montrose. The geographical delineation of the kingdom had been greatly advanced by the labours of Timothy Pont, son of that eminent promoter of letters, Mr. Robert Pont. Sir Robert Gordon of Straloch, his son James, minister of Rothiemay, and Sir John Scot of Scotstarvet, director of the chancery, had likewise contributed many topographical descriptions, and sundry maps of the counties.

      The right reverend primate, John Spottiswood, archbishop of St. Andrews, had carried down both the ecclesiastical and civil history of Scotland, from the introduction of Christianity, until the death of James VI.; while the history of the Scottish Church had been detailed by David Calderwood, from the epoch of the Reformation to the year 1625."

By the influence of the Viscount Dupplin, chancellor of Scotland, he was in June 1630 created lord lyon king-at-arms, having some days previously been knighted by the king.   In December 1633 he was created a baronet. On the occasion of the coronation of Charles I. at Edinburgh that year, Viscount Dupplin was created earl of Kinnoul; and of this nobleman Sir James in his Annals tells the following curious anecdote:  The king in 1626 had commanded, by a letter to his privy council, that the archbishop of St. Andrews should have precedence of the chancellor; to which the latter would not submit. "I remember," says Balfour, "that K. Charles sent me to the lord chancellor on the day of his coronation, in the morning, to show him that it was his will and pleasure, bot onlie for that day, that he wold ceed and give way to the archbishop; but he returned by me to his Majestic a very bruske answer, which was; that he was ready in all humility to lay his office doune at his Majestic’s feet; bot since it was his royal will he should enjoy it with the knowen privileges of the same, never a stoled priest in Scotland should sett a foot before him, so long as his bloode was hote. Quhen I had related his answer to the kinge, he said, ‘Weel, Lyone, lett’s goe to business; I will not medle farther with that old cankered gootish man, at quhose hand ther is nothing to be gained but soure words." Though a staunch Presbyterian, when the civil wars broke out, Sir James inclined to the cause of the king, but took no part in the contest. He was, nevertheless, deprived by Cromwell of his office of Lyon king-at-arms. Sir James's appointment as Lord Lyon King of Arms necessarily drew his attention to the science of heraldry, and on this subject he wrote numerous treatises, he collected many manuscripts on the art of heraldry, and wrote several treatises on that subject, some of which are now in the Advocates’ Library, while others were dispersed, or destroyed by the English in the capture of Perth, in 1651, to which city he had caused them to be conveyed. Sibbald gives a catalogue both of his original treatises and of the manuscripts, which he was at such pains to collect, in the Memoir of his Life prefixed to the published edition of 'The Annales of Scotland.' (Memoria Balfouriana, pp. 19—33) He also wrote a Topographical Account of Fife, which is preserved in manuscript in the Advocates' Library. It contains interesting facts regarding the county generally, and is well worthy the examination of students of local history. Sir James was animated by the praiseworthy ambition of rescuing from neglect the history of his native land, by recovering the charters of the various abbeys of the kingdom, and the chronicles which were so frequently compiled in these establishments; documents which, after the alienation of the abbeys, were fast passing into careless hands. For this purpose he visited all the cathedrals and principal parish churches in the kingdom, and examined the sepulchers and other monuments, from which he copied the most remarkable epitaphs and inscriptions, carefully preserving them in a volume.

His largest work, entitled ‘The Annales of Scotland MLVII-MDCIII' which lay in manuscript until it was published in 1824, is the result of these investigations. It contains many facts not now otherwise to be found on record. Considering the early age at, which he died, and how much he did, it is not surprising that inaccuracies have crept into his writings.

Sir James collected with unwearied industry, and at great expense, a voluminous library stored with the most choice works in every department of literature, but more especially illustrative of the history, antiquities and heraldry of Scotland. Many of the original documents which he collected with so much zeal, and at, so great expense, during the greater part of his life, were unfortunately lost or dispersed in the sack of Perth by the English under Cromwell, whither they had been sent for security. Those, which were preserved, were advertised for sale in 1698, and were purchased by the Faculty of Advocates. A copy of the printed catalogue, issued at the time, is preserved in the Signet Library. The title page sets forth that it is 'a Catalogue of Curious Manuscripts, collected by Sir James Balfour of Kinnaird, Knight-Baronet, and Lyon King at Arms, kept by him in his Famous Study of Denmilne.' The advertisement, prefixed states 'that many of the manuscripts are in parchment, and more ancient than printing,— severals of them are curiously guilded and painted. Diverse of them are autographs, and original Papers of Latter times, affording thereby great light to History and the transactions of these times.'

Among the manuscripts, the most important are the Liber Carthusianorum de Perth, seu Scotichronicon abbreviatum; Winton, his Chronicle in Scottish verse; The Chartulary of the Monastery of the Holy Trinity at Scone ; Liber Sanctæ Maræ de Balmerinoch ; Liber Sanctæ Mariæ de Dryburgh; Liber Arbrothiensis, and the Great Chartulary of the Monastery of Aberbrothock. Also, though not mentioned in the catalogue, Liber Sanctæ Mariæ de Lundors. Living in retirement at Falkland palace, or at his own seat of Kinnaird For illustrating Scottish history, he investigated all the charters, public registers, and monastic chartularies and chronicles he could procure, and he was able to form a large collection of these documents. He formed, at considerable expense, a library of most valuable books, and particularly rich in Scottish history, antiquities, and heraldry. He likewise collected and arranged ancient coins, seals, and other reliques of the olden time, and wrote a book of epitaphs and inscriptions on the monuments of monasteries and parish churches. He left several abridgments of the books of Scone, Cambuskenneth, and others, and extracts from the histories of John Major, Hector Boethius, Lesly, and Buchanan. His literary correspondence was extensive with those of his contemporaries who were eminent either as historians or historical antiquarians, particularly Robert Maule, Henry Maule of Melgum, David Buchanan, Sir Robert Gordon of Straloch, Mr. Roger Dodsworth, Sir William Dugdale, and Drummond of Hawthornden. At the request of Sir John Scott of Scotstarvet he contributed not a little to the geographical illustration of the kingdom. There was no subject, whether of literature or of natural history, in which Sir James did not take an interest. He entered most zealously into the Geographical Survey of Scotland, and helped forward the construction of the first series of maps of the country that were ever projected He drew up an accurate description of the shire of Fife, including observations on its antiquities, and the genealogies of its principal families, and he had begun to compile a geographical description of the whole of Scotland, the manuscript of which was of so much use to the Dutch geographer, Bleau, that he dedicated to Sir James Balfour the map of Lorn in his Theatrum Scotiae, appending to it an engraving of the Balfour coat of arms.  At some time before 1629 the Pont collection of maps was bought from Pont's heirs by Sir James, although apparently intending to publish the maps, he never did so. Besides his various treatises on heraldry, he wrote annals of the life and reign of James I. and II. and memorials of the reigns of James III., James IV., and James V., and Mary. The reign of James VI. he treated at greater length. He also wrote an account of the kings of Scotland from Fergus I. to Charles I., and the annals of Scotland in two volumes, the first extending from the accession of Malcolm Ill, to the death of James VI, and the second from the accession of Charles I. to the sixteenth year of his reign. When it became necessary to form a separate establishment for the Prince of Wales, who was also steward or seneschal of Scotland, Sir James deemed it proper to inquire into the amount of the revenue to which the hereditary princes of Scotland were entitled, as well as the extent of their privileges; and among his manuscripts is one with the following title :—‘ The True present State of the Principality of Scotland, with the Means, how the same may be most conveniently Increased, and Augmented; with which is joyned, Ane Survey, and brief Note from the Publick Registers of the Kingdom of certain Infeftments and Confirmations given to Princes of Scotland, and by them to their Vassals, of diversse Baronies and Lands of the Principalitie, since the 15 year of the Reign of King Robert III.’ To natural history he likewise gave his attention, and composed in Scots an alphabetical treatise on gems. He also wrote in Latin, an account, collected from various authors, of the frauds practiced in the imitation of precious stones. He was well acquainted with Sir William Segar and with William Dugdale, to whose Monasticon he contributed. In the middle of last century, one who saw them stated that chests filled with manuscripts stood in Denmiln Castle, and they were so little cared for that the doors of the castle stood open, and any one helped himself to what papers he chose without hindrance. His collection of MS which was housed in chests was left in the castle long after it ceased to be inhabited and Dr. Laing tells an amusing story of receiving shoes from the shoemaker in Newburgh wrapped in old manuscripts from Sir James' collection. The remains of the records were ultimately rescued and safely lodged in the Advocates' Library at Edinburgh, together with his correspondence, from which rich collection Haig published Balfour's Annales of Scotland in 4 vols. 8 vo (18241825).

Many valuable manuscripts were preserved from destruction by Sir James, and 'posterity' (says Sibbald, the author of Memoria Balfouriana) 'ought to be deeply grateful to him for the labour and expense which he lavished in the collection and preservation of these manuscripts, which during his whole life he continued to accumulate, not so much for his individual utility as for the common benefit of literary men,' and. it may be added, for the elucidation of the history of the country.

Sir James concluded an industrious, and, it would appear, a most blameless life, and died in February 1657. Aged 52. He is usually styled of Kinnaird, having, in 1631, obtained, in favour of himself and his spouse, a grant of the lands and barony of that name in Fife and previous to the death of his father is always styled of Kinnaird.

He was four times married; first, on 21st October 1630, to Anna, daughter of Sir John Aiton of that ilk, by whom he had three sons, who all died young, and six daughters, who all died unmarried, and who died August 26th, 1644; 2dly, to his cousin, Jean Durham, daughter of the laird of Pitkerrow, who died without issue, 19th July, 1645; 3dly, to Margaret, only daughter of Sir James Arnot of Fernie, by whom he had three sons and three daughters, all of whom died young except Robert, who succeeded to the title and estates; 4thly, to Janet, daughter of Sir William Auchinleck of Balmanno, by whom he had two daughters.

A to Anna Aiton, by whom he had three sons and six daughters, and who died August 26th, 1644;

B to Jean Durham, daughter of the James Durham, laird of Pitkerrow, his own cousin, who died without issue only eleven months subsequent to the date of his first wife’s death;

C, to Margaret Arnot, only daughter of Sir James Arnot of Fernie, by whom he had three sons and three daughters;

D, to Janet Auchinleck, daughter of Sir William Auchinleck of Balmanno, by whom he had two daughters.

Only his son Robert is known to have survived which may indicate a real tragedy in his life which isn’t mentioned by any of his biographers

7. Sir James died leaving as his heir Sir Robert Balfour 2nd Baronet of Denmylne (1652-1673) then only six years old. Sir Robert died aged only twenty-two years as the result of a duel. About the close of the seventeenth century a fatal duel occurred between Sir Robert Balfour of Denmylne, and Sir James Macgill of Lindores, who were near neighbours and intimate friends. Though judicial action was taken in the matter, the record does not mention the cause of the conflict. Tradition has uniformly narrated that the two neighbours had been at Perth together attending a fair, and that they quarreled on their way homewards. M’Gill is reported to have said to Sir Robert, 'Yon Hielandman would have been ow'r able for you, if I had not interfered.' Nettled at the remark, Sir Robert retorted angrily, and a violent altercation ensued; when, riding; at full gallop through the standing corn towards the foot of the hill, at Car-pow, they dismounted gave their servants their horses, and, ascending by the road a considerable way up the hills, about a quarter of a mile west from Cross Macduff, they stopped at a spot on the slope of the Ochils where a small cairn of stones, locally known by the name of Sir Robert’s Prap, which was afterwards raised to commemorate the event, and They there drew their swords. A neighbouring miller who was a spectator of the scene hastened after them, but before he reached the spot. Sir Robert was lying lifeless on the place now covered by the Cairn known by his name.

Saddled and bridled

And galant rode he;

Hame came his guide horse

But never cam he.'

Tradition relates that a shepherd who was near the scene of the right heard M'Gill entreating Sir Robert to stand off, lest in self-defense he should kill him, but Sir Robert was furious, and compelled him to fight. It is said that Sir James Macgill, who is alleged to have been by far the more expert swordsman of the two, made various attempts to be reconciled to his angry friend, and even after they were engaged, conducted himself for a time merely on the defensive. But from the fury with which Sir Robert fought, he was forced to change his plan, and to attack in turn. The consequence was that Sir Robert was run through the body, and died on the spot, when Sir James mounted and rode off, leaving his corpse to the care of the servants. This tradition places M'GilI in a more favourable light than the sentence; pronounced against him would seem to warrant. He had to lie concealed, and the king only granted him re-mission on condition ‘that he should never again be seen in Fife,' a condition which implies that the duel was accompanied by aggravations which are not recorded. Eight years after the fatal event, Fountainhall records, that on ‘4th and 5th May 1681, Rankielour save in a Bill to the (Privy) Councell, bearing that Sir James M'Gill his sone, having been so unfortunate as to kil Balfour of Denmiln, and his Majesty having granted him a remission, to which the Councell added this quality, that he should never be seen in Fife to prevent bloodshed; and that the petitioner being now a-dying, and earnestly wishing to speak with and see his sone, therefor begged they would relax so much of the punishment as to allow his sone to come and see him. The Councell doubted if they might doe this; but the Duke of Albany affirming that he believed the king would not refuse this desire of any old dying' gentleman, they grantit it in thir termes, that he should go with a guard like a prisoner, and stay but twenty-four hours, and then depart out of Fyfe where the friends of him that was killed live.' [Fountainhall’s Historical Notes, p. 292.]

'Encouraged by the liberality of the Council, Sir James M’Gill petitioned them anew in December for a removal of all restriction upon his remission, alleging that it was required on account of the decayed and infirm condition of his parents (he being their only son), and the ruin into which his affairs had fallen in consequence of his long exile. Against this petition, however, the friends of Sir Robert Balfour gave in answers, showing how green such a wound could then kept for eight years. They urged that the slaughter of their kinsman, so far from being' done, as alleged by Sir James in self-defense, was in forethought felony, and It was only owing to an undeserved clemency on his Majesty's part that, he had not been brought to condign punishment. The pretexts regarding his parents and estate were frivolous when the nature of the offence was considered.' 'Though it is insinuate that the said Sir James desires only to live in the parish of Monimail, and not in the parish of Abdie, where Sir Robert's nearest relatives are, this is a very silly pretence, for this is the very next parish, and Sir Robert's nearest relatives have their interests in this parish itself, and it may easily lie considered, that if this is allowed, Sir Robert's friends will be punished for Sir James' crime; since they must, to shun his company, neither go to the meetings of the shire, baptisms, nor marriages, burials or churches; nay, nor to see their friends nor neighbours lest they should fall in inconvenience with him, which was the ground upon which the restriction was granted at first.' To prove how unworthy Sir James was of the favour extended to him in May last, it, was set furth that, on that occasion, ‘he must ride insolently by the very gate of the gentleman he had murdered, with a great train of friends, and in passing the road they did also very insolently boast and upbraid the poor people with whom they met.' 'If this,' it was added, ‘was done in the very first time, what may be expected when his confidence is increased by renewed favours, and when Denmiln's friends see that the only satisfaction they got (which was not to see him at all) is taken from them.'1 Chambers's Domstic Annals, Vol. II,, pp- 424-6, This representation on the part of Sir Robert’s friends is no doubt highly coloured ; but even taking' deductions for exaggeration, the conduct of Sir James ill-accorded with his being the unwilling cause of the young baronet's death. The petition was refused. Sir Robert built the addition to Abdie Old Church, known as Denmiln aisle and a tablet, in the aisle of Abdie Old Church, contains the following inscriptions :—

D. O. M. S.

D. JACOBO BALFURIO A DENMIL MILITI BARONET LEONI ARMORUM REGI
PATRI DESIDERATISS, VERO HONORIS ET PROBITATIS EXEMPLO, LITERARTUM
OMNIUM CUM GRAVIORUM TUM POLITIORUM PERITISS, PENITORIS
ANTIQUITATIS NON MINUS CERTUS QUAM INDAGATORI CURIOSI MUSARUM
ET GRATIARUM CORCULO ET OCELLO ORBI ADEMPTO XIIII. FEB: AN.
CI)IDCLVII
ÆTAT. LII

D. MARGARITÆ ARNOTÆ MATRI CHARISS; VIRTUTE ET FORME ULTRA SEXUM EXIMIÆ, IN IPSO JUVENTUTIS FLORE UT SUPERIS ASSOCIARETUR TERRIS

EREPTAE XV. DECEM. AN. CICIDC. LIII ÆTAT XXV.

D. ROBERTUS BALFURIUS A DENMIL MILES BARONET FILIUS ÆTAT 10 CURA
ET AUTHORITATE MICHAELIS BALFOURII A PITMEDIN TESTAMENTO PATRIS
TUTORE DATI EX PRESENTIBUS FUTURA PROSPICENS MAUSOLEUM HOC
M. S. ET P.F.J. AN.
CICIDC LXI.

("TO THE GLORY OF GOD. In memory of my beloved father. Sir James Balfour of Denmiln*, Knight-baronet, Lyon King of Arms, a true example of honour and uprightness, skilled in all learning whether serious or polite. A student of the distant past as accurate as he was eager, the darling and the apple of the eyes of the Muses and Graces, departed this life 14th Fed, 1657, in his 53rd year. Also the dearest of mothers, Lady Margaret Arnot. Fairest and most virtuous among women, snatch away in the very flower of her youth on 15th Dec, 1653, in her 25th year, to join the fellowship above. Their son, Sir Robert Balfour of Denmiln, Knight-baronet, in the 10th year of his age, looking beyond this present to the future, had this tomb erected for his mother and father in 1661, under the charge and authority of Michael Balfour of Pitmedden, appointed his guardian under his father's will.")

8. see 5. I. Alexander of Lumbarnie, 2nd son, designed ‘of Lumbanie,’ 3rd Baronet of Denmylne, second son of James the 1st Baronet, from his having possessed some portion of that farm, became minister of the gospel, at the now ruined parish church of Abdie. A man, says Sibbald, not more respected for the dignity of his appearance than for the wisdom and piety of his life. He held that charge, first as helper to Mr Andrew Murray. Lord Balvaird. And afterwards as incumbent of the parish from at least A.D. 1634 until 1673. During his incumbency his nephew, Sir Robert Balfour, built the addition to Abdie Old Church, known as Denmiln aisle, as appears from his initials and date 1661, and his coat of arms over the entrance. This aisle is devoid of all architectural elegance; had it been built in the same chaste style as the ancient structure, it would still have met the requirements of the parish, and the parishioners of Abdie might have boasted of a parish church second almost to none in antiquity in Scotland. ‘Mr Alexander Balfour who was venerated for the dignity of his deportment, and for the wisdom and piety of his life, had a promise from James, Archbishop of St Andrews (better known as Archbishop Sharpe) of the first vacant Bishopric in Scotland.' [Scott’s Fasti] He married 1. Euphemia Carstairs, 2. Katheline Pitcairn and 3. Janet Hay of Leys. On the death of his nephew Sir Robert, he succeeded to the Baronetcy and estate. Abdie Church bell, which was recast in Alexander Balfour's time, bears the following inscription. Joannes Burgerhuys me fecit 1671. Soli Deo Gloria! Mr Alexander Ba1four, minister there, of the parish of Ebde.' [New Statistical Account, Fife, p.54.] The ruins of the old church of Abdie, on the western shore of the loch of Lindores, still contain several monuments of this family. Alexander inherited Denmylne after his brother James’s son Sir Robert's was killed in a Duel. Sir Alexander Balfour, 3rd Baronet of Denmylne died a year later in 1674/75 and his son Michael succeeded him.

LETTERS FROM ALEXANDER BALFOUR TO HIS BROTHER SIR JAMES BALFOUR OF DENMYLNE. DECEMBER 1640.

The first letter shews, what indeed is evident enough from Baillie's own words, that he was accustomed to address the same letter of intelligence to different persons. Thus, of his letter to the Presbytery of Irvine, 12th Dec. 1640, (voL i. p. 283-288,) he sent nearly a verbatim copy to Mr. David Dickson, who was then at Newcastle with the Scottish army; and of this letter Balfour sent a copy to his brother the Lord Lyon, at Edinburgh, which is still preserved in the above volume ; and another transcript of the same letter occurs in a volume marked " Historical Miscellanies," W. 3. 12 : — ]

RICHT HONOR"-, AND MY DIREST BROTHER, I have fent yow within the packet the fureft newes of all, the copie of Mr. Robert Baylie's Letter to Mr. David Dik, wherein ye may haue varietie and ful information of what hes paft. The Parliament goes flowlie on but furlie. It is his Majefties youngeft doughter is dead ; the fecond is fpoken for in mariage to the Prince of Orange fonne. The 24 of this inftant, John Malcolme, generall adjutant quarter-mafter, came from Court to New- caftle, who fhawes us that the fourt article concerning Incendiaries is con- cludit fimpliciter without limetation. Canterb. wes comitted to the Blak- rodd befor his way coming, and, he thinkes, be now is fent to the Towar. The Lord Keper fall goe that fame way. Portugall has revolted from Spain, and chofen the nereft of blood for their king. 20 thoufand pund fterling came for our armie yefternight ; our brother Michall fall be leu- tenant within this tuo dayes ; it is alredie done, but the ceremonie is not as yet, till Elcho be at leifur. Alex. Cuningame, merchant of Craill, who wes imprifoned longe for refufing the oath, is relefed & coming home. I reft with the wifhes of God's blifling to your felfe and bedfellow. I pray yow remember my ferwife to hir. Becaufe of tyme I could not wreat to Balvard, my L. Lundores. So I fall remaine your lowingeft Brother to ferue yow, ALEX. BALFOUR. Yow may haue within the packet " Gramercie good Scott." [Newcaftle, December 1640.] For his much honored brother my Lord

Lyon King of Armes, and of Kennard, Kny'. Thefe.

RICHT HONOURABLE AND MY DERRST BROTHER, IN my laft packet, fent with Balfarge, ye had what then occurred ; fince, we heir that the Lord Keper Finche is fled, after he hard that Canterbury was committed to the Touar : thear is fex moe of the Biftiops imprifoned, and fome fex of the Judges. The Prince Palatin is fent for be the Parliament, and order is giuen to bring with all heaft from Martin Trumpe the double of the Spanifh commiflion giuen to the fleit, whilk he preferued in that conflick. Some courfe is a taken that thear may be on[e] Confeflion of Faith, on[e] Direftione for worfhip, on[e] Catechifme, on[e] forme of Government for God's houfe in boith Kingdomes : and ther is great houps of it ; God Almichtie furder it, for our peace fall ne'ar be fure till then. The Tretie goes on floulie but furlie, as the Parliament does. We ar in good health, and prayes for yours. Prefent my feruife to your bedfellow, my Lady Lindoris, Balward, Lathrifk, and our fifler. The Laird of Forther, fhew him, his uncle the Mefter Falconer is dead. I reft Newcaftle the Your moft afleftionat Brother to ferue yow, 29th of Dec. [164-0.] ALEX. BALFOUR. For my much honored brother, Sir James Balfour of Kynnard, Knight, Lyon King of Armes. Thefe. The letters and journals of Robert Baillie [ed. by D. Laing].

Alexander Balfour the 3rd Baronet of Denmilne had 5 sons and 3 daughters

  1. Sir Michael Balfour 4th Baronet of Denmilne

  2. Sir William Balfour, also a Minister, location unknown

Foremast man aboard the ship CALEDONIA, belonging to the company of Scotland trading to Africa and the Indies, Brother german to Alexander B., Wright in Collessie and to Michael Balfour in Newburgh, fife died 1707

Balfour, Sir William (d 1660) Parliamentarian Army Officer

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Sir William Balfour was a Scots professional soldier who served as a cavalry officer in the Earl of Essex's Army during the First Civil War.

SP 28/253A f. 81 is a certificate from the Committee for Taking Accounts of the Whole Kingdom showing the dates of his commissions:




He fought at the battles of Edgehill, Cheriton, and Second Newbury. His son, William Balfour, was also a cavalry officer in the Earl of Essex's army.

His will is in PROB 11/303 and is available on DocumentsOnline.



  1. Jean Balfour married James MakGill of Rankiellour, its unknown if he was any relation to the James MakGill of Lindores responsible for killing Robert the 2nd Baronet in a Duel?

  2. Alexander Balfour

  3. James Balfour

  4. Anna Balfour

  5. Grissel Balfour

  6. Sir David Balfour who married Grissel Foulis and secondly Mary Hamilton of Wishaw, they had one son Archibald and 2 daughters Margaret and Agnes,

Archibald married Barbara Arnot and had 2 sons, david and charles born 1742

9. Sir Michael Balfour 4th Baronet of Denmilne died in1698 was married to ? Ayton of ayton daughter of Sir John Aytoun of that Ilk. The only relic at Denmiln which is likely to be connected with him, is a lintel over the orchard gate, bearing the inscription HIC ARGUS NON BRIAREUS ESTO 1676. (This place is better for the eyes than for the hands) Recently, another lintel was found during renovations in the old kitchen of Denmylne house, built about 1840 , inside the chimney, which is dated to 1681 and may have been part of an out building around the castle which was built by the 4th Baronet He had 4 sons and 2 daughters

  1. Sir Michael Balfour 5th Baronet of Denmilne

  2. Margaret Balfour who married Thomas Fairholme

  3. John Balfour

  4. Alexander Balfour

  5. Andrew Balfour

  6. Elizabeth Balfour

10. Sir Michael Balfour 5th Baronet of Denmilne Alexander Balfour’s Grandson (d. 1709) inherited the estate, 22d July 1675, which was then in difficulties. Sir Michael married Marjory, daughter of Moncrieff of Reidie, Lady Denmylne, and was one of the members for Fife in the Scottish Parliament in 1685 and in the spring of 1709 Sir Michael set out on horse back from the Castle to visit friends and strangely disappeared.

The mystery has never been solved and although there were certain conjectures at the time the truth seems to be that both man and horse disappeared into one of the morasses that then abounded in Fife. Search was made in all directions, and advertisements were inserted in newspapers both at home and on the continent, but no tidings of him were ever received. On the 17th January 1710, 'Lady Denmiln, gave in a bill to the Lords bearing that Michael Balfour her husband went from home in March last to visit some friends and for other business, and in his return home, he sent his servant an errand into the town of Cupar, and told him he would be at home before him, and yet he never yet returned to his house, notwithstanding all the search and enquiry made for him, and the horse he rode on; and no account can hitherto be got what is become of him; by which misfortune his creditors are falling upon his estate, and proceeding to diligence which may encumber and embarrass his fortune, though it far exceeds his debts, unless prevented. Therefore craves, in this extraordinary case, the Lords may name a factor to uplift the rents and out of it, [them] to pay the current annual rents, and give an aliment to her and her seven children.' Fountainhall, who records the foregoing petition, says, ' There were many conjectures about him, for some have been known to retire and go abroad upon melancholy and discontent; others have been said to be transported and carried away by spirits, and a third sort have given out that they were lost. to cause their creditors compound; as the old Lord Belhaven was said to be drowned on Solway Sands; so of Kirkton, yet both of them afterwards appeared. The most probable opinion was that Denmilne and his horse had fallen under night into some deep coal pit, though these were also searched, which lay on his way home. The Lords thought the case craved some pity and compassion, and that their interposing would come better if the creditors had applied; yet they appointed a factor to last only for the year 1710, to uplift and manage the rents for the creditors and relict, before which were [was] expired they would be at more certainty whether he was dead or alive.' (1) Fountainhall's' Decisions, Vol. II., p. 534.

At a later date, it was implicitly believed that the ghost of " the Lady of Denmiln " wandered, or, to use the expression invariably applied to ghosts, " gaed " at nights around her old residence, restless because of her cheatrie in selling the meal ground at the mill, and muttering to herself :

" The little lippie and the licht stane, Gars me wander here my lane." LAING, p. 382.

Sir Michael's mysterious disappearance excited much interest in the neighbourhood of his residence, and the elders of a preceding generation used to tell that there were those living in their youth, who saw the baronet ride away from the castle on a black horse accompanied by a servant on horseback, and that he never came back. The interest excited by the mystery, which shrouded the baronet's disappearance extended far beyond his own neighbourhood. Fifteen years after he rode away, a broadsheet entitled 'Murder will out, ' was hawked about the country. This document, of which it copy is preserved in the file of the 'Courant' newspaper, purports to be the confession of a woman on her deathbed, to the effect that her father, who was a tenant of Sir Michael Balfour at the time, had secretly stabbed and buried him to get quit of arrears of rent. There is reason to believe that Sir Michael was involved in pecuniary embarrassments. On the 25th May 1684, the followed entry occurs in Newburgh Kirk Session Records, ' ye minister and Elders unanimously agreed that diligence should be used against Sir Michael Balfour; a prosecution which he got rid of by granting an assignation to the rent of Wester Lumbennie, then part of his property. It is on record also that he granted a bond (25th May 1705) for 1100 merks in favour of his brother, Mr David Balfour, Doctor of Medicine, which was not paid at the time of his disappearance, as the amount was arrested subsequently in the hands of James Balfour of Randerstone. These and other pecuniary difficulties may have had something to do with Sir Michael's disappearance, but whatever was the cause, no clue to his fate was ever obtained, and… ‘The secret sleeps in death’. He had 3 sons and 3 daughters

1709, March
The family of the antiquary, Sir James Balfour, to whom we owe the preservation of so many historical manuscripts, appears to have been a very unfortunate one. We have seen that his youngest son and successor, Sir Robert, was slaughtered in the reign of Charles II. by M’Gill of Rankeillour.’ The head of a succeeding generation of the family, Sir Michael Balfour, was a quiet country gentleman, with a wife and seven children, residing at the semi-castellated old manor-house, which we now see standing a melancholy ruin, in a pass through the Fife hills near Newburgh. He appears to have had debts; but we do not anywhere learn that they were of serious extent, and we hear of nothing else to his disadvantage. One day in this month, Sir Michael rode forth at an early hour ‘to visit some friends and for other business,’ attended by a servant, whom, on his return home, he despatehed on an errand to Cupar, telling him he would be home before him. From that hour, Denmill was never again seen. He was searched for in the neighbourhood. Inquiries were made for him in the towns at a distance. There were even advertisements inserted in London and continental newspapers, offering rewards for any information that might enable his friends to ascertain his fate. All in vain. ‘There were many conjectures about him,’ says a contemporary judge of the Court of Session, ‘for some have been known to retire and go abroad upon melancholy and discontent; others have been said to be transported and carried away by spirits; a third set have given out they were lost, to cause their creditors compound, as the old Lord Belhaven was said to be drowned in Solway Sands, and so of Kirkton, yet both of them afterwards appeared. The most probable opinion was, that Denmill and his horse had fallen under night into some deep coal-pit, though these were also searched which lay in his way home.’ At the distance of ten months from his disappearance, his wife applied to the Court of Session, setting forth that her husband’s creditors were ‘falling upon his estate, and beginning to use diligence,’ and she could not but apprehend serious injury to the means of the family, though these far exceeded the debts, unless a factor were appointed. We learn that the court could better have interposed if the application had come from the creditors; but, seeing ‘the case craved some pity and compassion,’ they appointed a factor for a year, to manage the estate for both creditors and relict, hoping that, before that time elapsed, it would be ascertained whether Denmill were dead or alive.

The year passed, and many more years after it, without clearing up the mystery. ‘We find no trace of further legal proceedings regarding the missing gentleman, his family, or property. The fact itself remained green in the popular remembrance, particularly in the district to which Sir Michael belonged. In November 1724, the public curiosity was tantalised by a story published on a broadside, entitled Murder will Out, and professing to explain how the lost gentleman had met his death. The narrative was said to proceed on the death-bed confession of a woman who had, in her infancy, seen Sir Michael murdered by her parents, his tenants, in order to evade a debt which they owed him, and of which he had called to crave payment on the day of his disappearance. Stabbing him with his own sword as he sat at their fireside, they were said to have buried his body and that of his horse, and effectually concealed their guilt while their own lives lasted. Now, it was said, their daughter, who had involuntarily witnessed a deed she could not prevent, had been wrought upon to disclose all the particulars, and these had been verified by the finding of the bones of Sir Michael, which were now transferred to the sepulchre of his family. But this story was merely a fiction trafficking on the public curiosity. On its being alluded to in the Edinburgh Evening Gourant as an actual occurrence, ‘the son and heir of the defunct Sir Michael’ informed the editor of its falsity, which was also acknowledged by the printer of the statement himself; and pardon was craved of the honourable family and their tenants for putting it into circulation. On making inquiry in the district, I have become satisfied that the disappearance of this gentleman from the field of visible life was never explained, as it now probably never will be. In time, the property was bought by a neighbouring gentleman, who did not require to use the mansion as his residence. Denmill Castle accordingly fell out of order, and became a ruin. The fathers of people still living thereabouts remembered seeing the papers of the family—amongst which were probably some that had belonged to the antiquarian Sir James—scattered in confusion about a garret pervious to the elements, under which circumstances they were allowed to perish.

It could be that the Dr david Balfour of Kirkaldy should be placed here

  1. Sir Michael Balfour, 6th Baronet

  2. George Balfour

  3. Alexander Balfour

  4. Jean Balfour who may have married Henry Spence of Berryhole who died 1730

  5. Margaret Balfour who died in 1761 and was married to James Walker, the minister of Abdie parish

  6. Helen Balfour who married John Riddle esq of Grange.

11. Sir Michael Balfour, 6th Baronet (d. 1750) the son of the missing baronet, contradicted the statement of the broad-sheet, claiming he had been stabbed by one of his tenants, which is of a most sensational character and in a letter which he sent to the publisher of the newspaper he said, that the 'story was false in all the circumstances' and the printer apologized for having been instrumental in giving circulation to a false report. He was married to Jane Ross of Invernethy of Craigie and had 3 sons and 4 daughters

  1. Sir Michael Balfour, 7th Baronet d1759/51/2?

  2. Sir John Balfour, 8th Baronet d 1772

  3. Sir Partick Balfour, 9th Baronet d 1793

  4. Susan Balfour who married Robert Hamilton of Wishaw d1789

  5. Margaret Balfour

  6. Grisel Balfour

  7. Euphemia Balfour

He assign estate creditor 1750, died soon after

11. Sir Michael Balfour the 7th Baronet of Denmylne died 1759, little is known about him and other genealogies show no record of this Micheal, neither does a tract written in 1773 by Patrick, his brother and last Baronet, however, Micheal was a merchant in Kirkaldy, and styled himself as such. He was married to Anne Davidson of woodmilne, and had one daughter, Emilia.

12. Sir John Balfour, 7th/8th Baronet (d. 1773) He died without issue and was succeeded by his younger brother

  1. Sir Patrick Balfour, 8th/9th Baronet (d. 1793).When he died in 1793 the baronetcy became dormant, Patrick was the commander of the 4th regiment of Sepoy and died in india. It is reported that he was baptised in Abdie Parish Church on the 4th December 1729. Inthe North British Advertiser of the 18th April 1846, the following advertisement appeared Sir Patrick Balfour, deceased. Any person who can give information of the time of the death and place of burial of Sir Patrick Balfour of Denmill, North Britain, who is supposed to have diedin England about six years ago, will receive adequate remuneration upon communicating the same to G. C. Meynell, Esq., 6 King's Bench Walk,Temple, London ; or to Messrs Smith & Kinnear, W.S., 35 Queen Street,Edinburgh.' If the Sir Patrick Balfour, who is supposed to have died in 1840 was the son of Sir Michael, who was born in 1729, he must have reached the improbable age of one hundred and seventeen. The probability is, that he must have died much earlier, or that his son succeeded to the barren title It was around the time of Sir John Balfour that Denmylne the Estate was acquired by Major General John Scott of Balcomie the father of the duchess of Portland. The lands of Denmylne were subsequently bought from the marchioness of Titchfield, by Thomas Watt, Esq. of Denmylne and by 1840 was a complete ruin.



THE BALFOURS of RANDERSTON of FORRET and NORTHBANK

1 (5 III.) Sir David Balfour 1st of Forret, 4th son of Sir Micheal Balfour of Denmylne, was born in 1623. ‘David, Viscount of Stormont and Sir David Barclay of Cullernie, Knycht,’ were witnesses to his baptism in Abdie Church, on the 12th September of that year. David Balfour adopted the law as his profession. He was admitted Advocate on the 29th January 1650. Previous to his elevation to the bench, as one of the Lords of Session in 1674, under the title of Lord Forret, he had the honour of knighthood conferred upon him, and in the following year was appointed one of the Justiciary Judges. The following year he was appointed a judge of the court of justiciary. In 1685 he was elected a commissioner for the county of Fife to the parliament, which met that year. In the same year he was chosen one of the Lords of the Articles, a body invested in some degree with the power of deciding what measures should or should not be brought before Parliament and was also and appointed a commissioner for the plantation of kirks. Memoria Bafourianai p. 3, Haig's Senators of the College of Justice. P.402 He died shortly after the Revolution. An interesting relic of Sir David Balfour is still extant. In the year 1683 he presented a Pulpit Bible to the parish of Logie, Fifeshire, in which the estate of Ferret is situated. It bears the following inscription, both at the beginning of the Old, and also at the beginning of the New Testament:—'For the Glorie of God and edification of his People within the Paroshin of Logie—Sir David Balfour of Forret, Knight, one of the Senators of the College of Justice, gave this Bible, upon the 28th of April 1683.’ Sir David's pious gift continued to be used by the minister in his pulpit ministrations up to the year 1855. Though now disused it is carefully preserved. [The Bible is in folio, and bears to have been printed at 'The Theater, Oxford, 1680.' It contains two illustrations of passages in the Revelation. David’s second son, James Balfour, succeeded to the lands of Randerston. James Balfour of Forret, A subsequent proprietor of the estate of Forret, probably a descendant of this learned judge, seems to have entertained a design of erecting a convenient place of refreshment for the members of the college of justice at Edinburgh; The estate of Forret, which is in the parish of Logie, anciently belonged to the Forrets of that ilk, a son of which house, who had been vicar of Dollar, suffered martyrdom on the Castlehill of Edinburgh in 1538. He was married firstly to Jean Wemyss of Fingask and secondly to Marie Hay of Leys. The had 4 sons and 2 daughters

  1. Michael Balfour the 2nd of Forret

  2. James Balfour, 2nd of Randerston inherited the estate of Randerston when his uncle Michael died without heir

  3. Alexander Balfour

  4. Andrew Balfour

  5. Rachel Balfour who married William Forester

  6. Elizabeth Balfour who married David Balfour of Grange, descendant of Andrew Balfour the last Baron of Munqhuanny. They had 5 daughters, Elizabeth, Elizabeth Barbara, Katherine Balfour, who married Peter Crambie, chief mate on the Marlborough and Annulus Balfour who married firstly James Balfour of Raddernie and secondly John Halkerston

2. Michael Balfour the 2nd of Forret, little is known other than he had one son

3. James Balfour the 3nd of Forret who married Christian Carstairs of Kilconquhar, they had 2 daughters

  1. Ann Balfour

  2. Alison Balfour

The Balfours of Randerston

1. 5.II see Balfours of Denmylne. Sir Michael Balfour of Randerston, 3rd son of Sir Micheal Balfour of Denmylne, was born at Denmiln, and baptised on the 25th October 1623. He devoted his attention to agriculture, and stood high in the estimation of his contemporaries for his skill in rural matters.[ Memoria Bafourianai, p. 3] He was proprietor of ‘Pitmedin,' and is so designed on a monument erected by him in Abdie Old Church to the memory of his wife Katharine Napier who died in 1652, at the early age of twenty five. He appears to have sold Pitmedin in 1663, when he purchased the estate of Randerston (anciently Randalston) as he is thereafter designated by the name of that estate. The purchase is thus recorded in Lament's Diary —‘1663. This summer. . . Balfour of . . . third son of the deceased old Laird of Dinmille, in Fyffe bowght the lands of Randerston at Craill, from Sir James Sharpe, Archbishop of St Andrews, and Alexr Inglis of Kingask the two sons in law of the deceased Laird of Randerston : it stood him about sextie thousande merkes or thereby.’ Lamont’s Diary, p.210. Michael also married Ann Forrester of Strathendry. In Abdie Old Church there is a tablet raised by Michael Balfour to the memory of his wife; the arms of the Balfours, and the engrailed cross of the Napiers, are very beautifully cut upon it. The tablet bears the following inscription:—

P. M. E.

CATHARINE NÆPARÆ QUÆ RARIORUS VIRTUTIS QUÆ IN CLARISS. E-MINIS
SPLENDESCERE SOLET DITISS. EXHIBUIT APPARATUM NATURÆ PARTUM DUM
EDERET PUELLÆ VITAM SIBI MORTEM, PROH FLENDUM ADSCIVIT VIII. FEB.
AN. CIC. IDC. LII. AETAT. XXV.

MICHAEL BALFOURIUS, A PITMEDIN AMATISS. CONJUGI CUJUS CINERES DONEC
LUX POSTREMA REFULGEAT IN HIS REQUIESCENT TENEBRIS CIPPUM HUNC.
P.S.D.D. AN. C.I.C IDC. LXI.

Micheal Balfour the 1st of Randerston died without issue and was succeeded by his nephew James Balfour the 2nd of Randerston, son of Sir David Balfour of Forret. It isn’t known who James married but that he had 2 sons and one daughter

  1. Michael Balfour

  2. Robert Balfour the 3rd of Randerston who died in 1741 unmarried

  3. Mary Balfour who died in 1752 but married George Hays of Leys, they had 3 daughters , names unknown, and one son Peter Hay of Leys, who died in 1757. but married Elizabeth Scott of Scottstarvit and had 2 sons David Hay-Balfour of Randerston and Leys who died in 1760, without issue and his brother John Hay Balfour of Randerston and Leys who died in 1790 and married Catherine Moncreiff of Reidie(perhaps a descendant of Lady Denmilne), From them are decsended the Hay balfours of Randerston

Balfours of North Bank

1. see 5 IV Balfours of Denmylne. Sir Andrew Balfour. An eminent physician and botanist, and founder of the botanic garden of Edinburgh, the brother of the preceding, and fifth and youngest son of Sir Michael Balfour of Denmylne, was born there January 18, 1630, and was baptised on the same day in the parish church by the minister, Sir Andrew Murray of Balvaird. Sir Andrew Balfour appears to have received his early education at the parish school; he afterwards entered the University of St Andrews, where he continued until he took his degree of Master of Arts. The following graceful notice in the Records of the Kirk Session of Abdie, penned by the schoolmaster, shows the scholarly tastes of the parish school masters of that day:—1711 June 3. This day was buried here a stranger, called David Shearer, Merchant in Crieff, who as he was shimmying his horse and washing him yesterday forenoon, in the Loch of Lindores, by north of the Dove-Cote perished in the waters. Ah !

Quid quisque vitet, nunquam homini satis
Cautum est, in hora.
Horace, Bk. II., Ode XIII.

His education was supervised by his eldest brother, Sir James, the famous antiquary, who was thirty years old at the time of his birth, directed his studies and inspired him with that love of learning, especially of natural history in all its branches, which distinguished him through life. He took his degree of A.M. at the university of St. Andrews, and about 1650 removed to London, where he prosecuted his medical studies under the celebrated Harvey, the celebrated discoverer of the circulation of blood, and of other physicians eminent in medical science , After a residence of several years in London, and an attendance at the University of Oxford He afterwards went to Blois, in France, to see the botanical garden of the duke of Orleans, then kept by his countryman, Dr. Morison. He afterwards proceeded to Paris, where he prosecuted his studies as a physician with great ardour, embracing every opportunity of anatomical dissection, and attending constantly on the practice of the public hospitals. After remaining some time at Paris, he subsequently traveled through the whole of France with Sir Watkinson-Pelior (at whose seat in Yorkshire he afterwards resided for sometime. He completed his education at the university of Caen, where, September 20, 1661, he received his degrees of bachelor and doctor of medicine. On his return to London, Dr Balfour was introduced to King Charles II. who selected him as a fit person to travel abroad as governor to the Earl of Rochester, a young nobleman (who ranks among British poets) of whom great hopes were entertained, but who had fallen into dissolute habits. Dr Balfour traveled with the Earl four years, returning ill 1667. He endeavored to recall the young nobleman to a true and noble life, and his counsels and example were so far successful, that the Earl totally subdued his inclination to intemperance during the whole course of his travels. Johnson, in his Lives of the Poets, says of Rochester's works, 'there is in all of them sprightliness and vigour, and everywhere may be found in them tokens of a mind which study might have carried to excellence.' Johnson’s Lives of the Poets—Rochester Unhappily on his return to Britain the Earl again gave way to vicious indulgence, and ‘blazed out his life in lavish voluptuousness’ and daring impiety at the early age thirty-one. ‘Rochester often acknowledged, and to Bishop Burnet in particular only three days before his death, how much he was bound to love and honour Dr Balfour, to whom, next to his parents, he felt he owed more than to all the world.’ Walker's Mem. of Sir Andrew Balfour. p. 351.

In the course of his travels, which at intervals extended over a period of fifteen years, Dr Balfour was indefatigable in his researches on every subject of interest, whether of science or of art, and lost no opportunity of collecting specimens illustrative of the natural history of the counties through which he past. On his return to his native country ‘he brought with him the most extensive and valuable library, especially in works of medicine and natural history, that, till then had appeared in Scotland.’ A list of several of these books is given in the Memoria Balfourainia. They embrace almost every variety of subject,—among them were books even from China. India, and other parts of the East.’ He brought also maps. plans of ancient buildings, statues and busts of famous men, and a collection of surgical, mathematical, and what is remarkable at that early age, microscopic instruments. His museum contained, besides anatomical preparations of the human frame, quadrupeds, birds, reptiles, fishes, specimens of minerals, of metals and various kinds of stones and. fossils, anticipating in this respect the geological inquiries of the present age. The marine productions consisted of corals, white and red (stellata, articulate et verruscosa), and the vegetables embraced various kinds of wood, fruit, and gums. The plants, which he collected, were bound in several large volumes, and as well as some of his other specimens were deposited in the College of Edinburgh. No such collection having previously been seen in Scotland, it attracted great attention, and must have given an impetus to the study of natural history, and to the cultivation of the fine arts. Had Dr Balfour's collections been carefully preserved, they would have proved an interesting feature in the Museum of the University of Edinburgh; but, unfortunately, towards the end of the last century only a small portion of them remained.

Dr. Balfour afterwards commenced practice as a physician at St. Andrews. He employed his leisure hours there in the study of anatomy and natural history, and in the dissection of the human body, which was then for the first time practiced in Scotland. The ancient city has therefore the honour of leading the way to that eminence in medical science, which Scotland has since attained. Ever active in his scientific pursuits, Dr Balfour collected during his residence in St Andrews the indigenous plants of the country; and discovered several which were previously unknown to botanists.

It sounds strange to botanist now to be told that Dr Balfour first made known the Rubus Chamoemorus, or Cloudberry (found in bo many mossy mountain ridges in Scotland) as indigenous. He first discovered the Pulmonaria Maritima Linn, known, from the flavour of its leaves, as the Oyster plant, to be a native of Scotland. This plant, which grows on the shores of the Forth near Earlsferry, is rare on the east coast of Scotland, and it was probably there that Sir Andrew discovered it. The extreme beauty of its purplish blue flowers attracts the notice of casual visitors, and the plant is in danger of being extirpated, to the regret of all students and lovers of nature.

Of a truly scientific mind, he seems to have taken no fact in natural history on trust, which he could examine, for himself. He sent, to the Hebrides for specimens of the barnacle, and by accurate dissections exposed the errors, which till then, even the learned believed, of its marvelous transformation into a bird. With the true characteristic of a great mind, widened by travel, he rose superior to the vulgar errors of his age, and in a letter which was published, but unfortunately has been lost, he endeavored to free his countrymen from the belief in witchcraft, which then held them in such painful bondage.

In 1670 Dr Balfour removed from St Andrews to Edinburgh, where he immediately came into an extensive practice, more remunerative than any physician had ever before obtained in Scotland. His health broke down in a few years after his removal; notwithstanding he continued to interest himself in his favourite studies. He was an excellent linguist, and kept up a correspondence with commercial, as well as literary friends in various countries on these subject. Year by year he received specimens from the Indies and from Europe, and, what scientific journals now convey—-information of the latest discoveries in science. His intimate acquaintance with the manners, customs, and institutions of foreign countries, made him a valuable adviser in the establishment of similar institutions at home. He suggested and assisted in carrying out, with Sir Robert Sibbald, the establishment of the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh, and was elected one of the first Presidents of that Institution. On the publication of the Pharmacopoeia by the college in 1685, the whole arrangement of the materia medica was committed to his care. Shortly before his death he projected the foundation of an Infirmary in Edinburgh—the first in Scotland—for the cure of the diseased poor and friendless; it was originally of humble dimensions, but from it has sprung the noble Institution which now fills its place. Walker’s Essays on Natural History, pp.361,2 He has the merit of being the first who introduced the dissection of the human body into Scotland;

The love of botany, which he imbibed from his elder brother Sir James, seems to have been the solace of his life. In a small garden adjoining to his house, he raised many plants from seeds which he received from his foreign correspondents, and which were then first introduced into Scotland.

The death of Murray, Baron of Livingstone, a young and ardent, botanist who traveled abroad at Dr Balfour's suggestion, placed a thousand species of plants at his disposal. To prevent, this valuable collection from being scattered and lost, Sir Robert Sibbald and the Faculty of Advocates assisted Dr Balfour in defraying the necessary expenses incurred in preserving and cultivating them. The rare plants collected by the indefatigable perseverance of Dr Balfour attracted the notice of eminent botanists abroad, and at length the. Dr. Balfour transferred his collection to Edinburgh; and, joining it to his own, laid the foundation of the first public botanic garden in Scotland; for which the magistrates of the city allotted a piece of ground near the foot of Leith Wynd, and adjacent to Trinity Hospital/College Church, for what they called a ‘Physic’ garden, ' and a salary to a curator. To Dr Balfour therefore belongs the honour of founding the first public botanic garden in Scotland. The ground is now occupied by the North British Railway: Here the Botanic garden continued till 1767, when, by the exertions of Dr. Hope, a subsequent professor of botany, it was removed to a piece of ground between Leith and Edinburgh, on the west side of Leith Walk the garden was removed to Leith Walk in 1763, and to its present site, in Inverleith Row, in 1819, taken down in 1845 for the convenience of the North British railway. This place was abandoned in 1822 for a more suitable situation at Inverleith Row, where the Edinburgh Botanical Garden is now in a flourishing condition.  

Dr Balfour received the honour of knighthood in the reign of Charles II. Sir Robert Sibbald, in a memoir of his own life, gives the following' account of the bestowal of this honour: -- ‘In the beginning of the year 1682, I was advertised upon a Saturday night to bring with me Dr Steinson and Dr Balfour to wait upon the Duke of York, after the forenoon sermon. The Earl of Perth and Sir Charles Scarborough had concerted the matter, wee indeed knew nothing of the design, but thought that we had been sent for to receive his Royal Highness's commands anent the College, for that he was to goe away shortly. Bot to our surprisall ther was ane carpet layed, and we were ordered to kneel, and were each of us Knighted by his Royall Highness, then Commissioner.' (Analecta Scotica, Vol. I., p. 147.) Dr Balfour was eminently deserving of this honour; he was the representative man of science in Scotland at the time, and there was no subject in any department of learning, or indeed anything, which tended to promote the prosperity of the country in which he did not take an interest.

Having made himself acquainted, as opportunity offered, with the processes of manufactures abroad, and having seen the advantages arising from manufacturing activity, Sir Andrew was naturally desirous of imparting the advantages to his own country, and of raising Scotland to the level of other nations. Though for one hundred and twenty years previous, paper had been manufactured in England, the attempts that had been made to introduce its manufacture into Scotland had hitherto failed. Sir Andrew projected, and with that successful energy which seems to have attended all his efforts, succeeded in introducing, the manufacture of this useful material, -- and it has ever since been carried on extensively in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh. [The first time that the manufacture of paper is heard of in Scotland is in the year 1590. A german in that year petitioned government for certain privileges in connection with the manufacture, were granted, but the attempt seems to have been unsuccessful. In 1675 a paperwork was established on the Water of Leith in which was made (in 1679) ‘gray and blue paper much finer than ever this country offered to the council.’ In 1697, ‘a paper manufactory was going on prosperously under the joint-stock company, producing ‘good white paper; and it is spoken of as the only one in the kingdom ‘that has either work or design for white paper.’-- Chambers's Domstic Annals –These two latter works were undoubtedly the offspring of Sir Andrew Balfour’s enterprise.]

Raised to the pinnacle of professional eminence in Scotland, the suavity of his manners and his extensive stores of knowledge, secured for Sir Andrew the friendship of the learned and the great. He was the friend and medical attendant of the Duke of Rothes, and was on terms of intimate intercourse with the Earls of Moray, Morton, and Strathmore, Viscount Tarbat, Sir James Murray of Drumcairn, and the other leading men of the time; but his consideration for the poor, and the kindliness of his disposition made him beloved by them and universally esteemed.

After many years of impaired health, Sir Andrew Balfour died in 1694, in the sixty-third year of his age. Bequeathing his museum to the University He was prepossessing in his appearance, ‘of a handsome figure, and with a pleasing and expressive countenance. There was a print of him executed in Paris, but no copy of it is known to exist.’ He never appeared as an author, but in 1700 After Sir Andrew's death his son published a. volume of letters addressed by his father to his friend Murray, Baron of Livingstone, while on his travels. These letters contain directions and advice to the young naturalist to guide him to the places where the most note-worthy objects of scientific interest and art were to be found. The volume, only that it is more exclusively scientific, is exactly what a guidebook is to the modern tourist. The author's remarks on the natural phenomena and objects of taste, which he visited and examined, display a thorough appreciation of art, and an independent judgment in matters of science. 'After experiments on the vapour of the famous Grotto del Cane, he came to the conclusion that it was the same as the choke-damp of the coal mines of Britain,' a conclusion which modern chemistry has completely verified.

His learning and his scientific knowledge only made him more steadfast in his faith, and more humble and more ardent in his love to God. ‘He was' (says Sir Robert Sibbald) 'beyond most of his time in wisdom, in moderation of mind, and in learning, he excelled all his contemporaries in his knowledge of natural history and antiquities, in these studies he was the foremost of Scotsmen, and was justly awarded the palm.' The following eulogium, published at the time of his death, expresses the opinions entertained by his contemporaries of his worth—



‘The great Balfour is dead, too soon alace!
Who was his countries' ornament and grace,
But his great name still lives, and shall allwayes,
A garland wear of never-fading bayes,
His heaven-born soul to great things did aspire,
Nor sea, nor land could bound his vast desire;

And when the wonders these contain’d he knew,

He passed hence, Heaven’s wonders next to view.

Memoria Balfouriana, P.98. Walker’s Essays on Natural History, passim



Denmiln Castle for a generation was a centre of learning and refinement, the resort of the most eminent in literature at the time, and the meeting-place of all who had the promotion of learning and the intellectual advancement of Scotland at heart. The great merits of Sir Andrew Balfour as a naturalist, physician, and scholar, are commemorated, not only by Sir Robert Sibbald, in the Memoria Balfouriana, and elsewhere; but also by Professor John Walker, in his Essays on Natural History. Sir Andrew, saw six hundred descendants from his father. The telephone directory for the whole of the fife region in 2009 lists only 15 Balfours!. Sir Andrew was was married to Ann Napier and had 7 sons and one daughter

  1. Michael Balfour of North Bank

  2. Andrew Balfour

  3. David Balfour

  4. John Balfour

  5. Andrew Balfour

  6. Andrew Balfour

  7. James Balfour

  8. Anna Balfour

This work is ongoing and as such I have little further information concerning the sons of Andrew Balfour, However, Micheal Balfour of north bank married Elizabeth Barclay, sister of Sir robert Barclay of Collessie, whose large collection of dissected humans forms the collection at Edinburgh's royal college of Surgeons, it would surprise me if these “curiosities”, mentioned in Sir Andrews will may have made there way into Sir Robert Barclays collection through Micheal Balfourr of North Bank. Micheal had one son with Elizabeth, 1701, John Balfour cristened at Dunbog. Sir andrews will mentions only one other son, James, but there is an A balfour of Northbank who signs a letter to the government and king in 1700.

it is to be noted that a John Balfour 1730’s and his son John Balfour Junior who married Peggy Grieve in 1783, an Elphinston Balfour ~1773-1790 and an Andrew Balfour Balfour 1811 and a Walter Balfour apprentice in 1754 were all involved in papermaking, printing and publishing, for the university of Edinburgh press amongst other from the Boghill Paper mill in Colinton Edinburgh. It wouldn’t surprise me if they had not carried on with the enterprise of paper making, started by Sir Andrew Balfour. Although, the Balfours of Pilrig seem to be more involved with this enterprise. More importantly, I believe, of all of Sir Micheal Balfours sons, James the 1st Baronet, Alexander the 3rd Baronet , Micheal of Randerston, David of Forret, all are extinct in the male line, meaning that the Balfours of North Bank are the inheritors of the title “Baronet of Denmylne”, further research does show that the linal descent of Archibald balfour, Writer in Falkland, may also be a possibility



. Other Balfours

Another branch of the house of Balfour possesses the lands of Balbirnie in the parish of Markinch, Fifeshire. During the reign of Malcolm the Fourth, the lands of Balbirnie belonged to Orm the son of Hugh, abbot of Abernethy, the ancestor of the family of Abernethy. (See ABERNETHY, surname of, ante, p. 14.) He exchanged them with Duncan earl of Fife, the charter being conferred by William the Lion. Sibbald says that anciently these lands belonged to a family who took their name from them, and were designed Balbirnie of that ilk. About the end of the sixteenth or beginning of the seventeenth century, the lands of Balbirnie were purchased from the Balbirnies, who held them under the earls of Fife, by George Balfour, son of Martin Balfour of Dovan and Lalethan, the ancestor of the present proprietor. This Martin Balfour was, in 1596, served heir to his grandfather David Balfour, in the lands of Dovan and Lalethan. He was descended from Peter Balfour, a younger son of Balfour of Balfour, who, having married a daughter of Thomas Sibbald of Balgonie, obtained from his father-in-law a charter of the lands of Dovan in the reign of Robert the Third. The present proprietor of Balbirnie seems, therefore, to divide with Balfour of Fernie, the representation of the ancient family of Balfour of Balfour

DUNBOG, a parish, in the district of Cupar, county of Fife, 4 miles (E. by S.) from Newburgh. This place derives its name, of Celtic origin, and signifying the bog of the hill, from the former marshy nature of the grounds at the base of the hill of Dunmore, which extends into the parish. A portion of the lands anciently formed part of the barony of Ballinbriech, the property of the Rothes family, from whom it passed into the possession of Lord Home, whose descendant, in the reign of James IV., sold the lands of Dunbog to David Bethune, of Creich, in whose family they remained till the middle of the seventeenth century. In 1694 the estate was sold to Major Balfour, of Starr, by whom it was forfeited in the rebellion of 1715; it was, however, restored to his son, from whom it was purchased in 1766 by the ancestor of the Earl of Zetland, its present proprietor. The mansion of Dunbog, the property of Lord Zetland, and at one time the residence of Cardinal Beaton, was erected on the site of a religious house called the Preceptory of Gadvan, occupied as a cell belonging to the abbey of Balmerino, by a few monks of that establishment, who employed themselves in the cultivation of the adjoining lands, which, with the exception of a small portion now included in the glebe, are laid out in garden and pleasure grounds. Collairney, for many centuries the property of the Barclay family, was purchased by Dr. Balfour of Fernie: the castle, formerly the baronial residence of the Barclays, is now a ruin consisting only of one of the towers, containing some small apartments with roofs divided into compartments, and emblazoned with the arms of various members of that family.

BALFOUR, ROBERT, a distinguished scholar, and philologist, principal of Guienne College, Bordeaux, about the beginning of the seventeenth century, is supposed to have been born about the year 1550. As he left his native country young, very little is known regarding him. He is supposed to have derived his lineage from the Balgarvie branch of the Fifeshire family of Balfour, but in his Commentary on Cleomedes (p. 196) he has himself stated that he was a native of Forfarshire. He studied first at the university of St. Andrews, and afterwards repairing to France, he became a student in that of Paris, where he distinguished himself by the ability with which he publicly maintained certain philosophical theses against all oppugners. He was subsequently invited to Bordeaux, by the archbishop of that see, and became a member of the college of Guienne. The precise date of his appointment to a professor’s chair is unknown, but it appears from a letter from Vinetus to George Buchanan, of date 9th June 1581, that he must have been previous to that year professor of the Greek language and mathematics. He was subsequently appointed principal of the college of Guienne, an office that he filled with much prudence and reputation. He is thought to have succeeded to the principalship on the death of Vinetus, 14th May 1586. His earliest publication was an edition, the first that appeared, of the ancient history of the famous council held at Nice, in the year 325, the author of which was Gelasius, a native of Cyzicus, a city of Mysia, who became bishop of Caesarea in Palestine. This work appeared in 1599, in 8vo. His next undertaking was an edition of the Meteora of Cleomedes, with a copious and elaborate commentary, published at Bourdeaux in 1605, 4to. "His work," says Dr. Irving, "was commended by men eminent for their learning, and his commentary continues to be held in such estimation that it has been reprinted within a very recent period in an edition of Cleomedes published by Professor Bake of Leyden." (Lives of Scottish Writers, vol. i. p. 243.) Balfour’s last and greatest work was his Commentary on Aristotle. The first volume, containing an exposition of the Organon, or treatises relating to the science of logic, was published in 1616. The second volume, comprising a similar exposition of the ethics, appeared in 1620, when the author must have been upwards of seventy years of age. The date of his death has not been ascertained. He was living in 1625. "Balfour," says Dr. Irving, from whose life of him these particulars have been gleaned, "left behind him the character of a learned and worthy man. His manners are represented as very pleasing; and he is particularly commended for his kindness to his countrymen, many of whom at that period wandered on the continent in quest of learning, or learned employment. The only fault imputed to him by one biographer, (D. Buchananus de Scriptoribus Scotis, p. 129,) is his zealous adherence to the Romish faith. This species of zeal he has testified by introducing into his commentary on the Categories of Aristotle, a defense of the astounding doctrine of transubstantiation. As a proof of the estimation in which he was held, it may be stated that François de Foix de Candale, bishop of Aire, who died in the year 1594, bequeathed to him the mathematical part of his library." (Lives of Scottish Writers, vol. i. p. 244.) Morhof mentions Balfour as a celebrated commentator on the philosophy of Aristotle, and Dempster says he was "the Phoenix of his age; a philosopher profoundly skilled in the Greek and Latin languages; a mathematician worthy of being compared with the ancients; and to those qualifications he joined a wonderful suavity of manners, and the utmost warmth of affection towards his countrymen." His writings display an extent of erudition, which reflects honour on the literary history of his country. His edition of Cleomedes, in particular, is spoken of in high terms of praise by the erudite Barthius.

The following are the titles of Balfour’s works:

Versio et Notae ad Gelasium Cyzicenam de Cutus Consilii Nicaeni et versio ad Theodorum Presb. de Incarnatione Do-mini. Par. 1599, 8vo.

Versio et Comm. ad Cleomedis Meteora. Burd. 1605, 4to.

Commentarius R. Balforei in Organum Logicum Aristotelis. Burd. 1616, 2 vols. 4to.

Comm. in Organum Aristotelis. Burd. 1618, fol.

Commentarli in AEthica Aristotelis. Par. 1620, 4to.



BALFOUR, JAMES, of Pilrig, near Edinburgh, an ingenious writer, was admitted an advocate, November 14, 1730, but never had much practice at the bar. In 1737, on the death of Mr. Bayne, professor of Scots law in the university of Edinburgh, he and Mr. John Erskine of Carnock, advocate, were presented by the faculty of advocates to the patrons of the vacant chair, who elected Mr. Erskine, afterwards author of the ‘Institute of the Law of Scotland.’ Balfour was subsequently appointed sheriff-substitute of the county of Edinburgh. Having a taste for philosophical science, he early opposed the speculations of David Hume, particularly in two treatises, which he published anonymously, the one entitled ‘A Delineation of Morality,’ and the other ‘Philosophical Dissertations.’ With these Hume, though they combated his own views, was so much pleased, that, on the 15th March 1753, he wrote the author a letter requesting his friendship, as he was obliged by his civilities. On the 28th August 1754 Balfour was elected professor of moral philosophy in the university of Edinburgh. In 1764, on the death of Mr. William Kirkpatrick, professor of public law in that university, he received a royal commission to succeed him. In 1768 he published at Edinburgh his former lectures under the title of ‘Philosophical Essays,’ in which he subjected to a rigorous examination Lord Kames’ Essays on Morality and Natural Religion. In the spring of 1779 he resigned the chair of public law. He died at Pilrig, 6th March 1795, aged 92.—(Bower’s Hist. of the University of Edinburgh, vol. ii. page 374.)

The following are his publications:

Philosophical Essays. Edin. 1768, 8vo.

Philosophical Dissertations. Edin. 1782, 8vo.

Of Matter and Motion; Of Liberty and Necessity; On the Foundation of Moral Obligation; Nature of the Soul &c.

BALFOUR, ALEXANDER, a miscellaneous writer, a native of the parish of Monikie, Forfarshire, was born March 1, 1767. His parents belonged to the humbler rural class; and being a twin, he was taken under the protection of a friend of the family, to whom he was indebted for support in his early years. He received but a scanty education, and when very young was apprenticed to a weaver; notwithstanding which, he taught a school in his native parish for several years. At the age of twenty-six, he became clerk to a merchant and manufacturer in Arbroath. The following year he married. He made his first essays in composition when only twelve years of age, and at a more mature age he contributed occasional verses to the British Chronicle newspaper, and to Dr. Anderson’s ‘Bee.’ In 1793 he contributed several pieces to the Dundee Repository, and not a few to the Aberdeen Magazine in 1796. Four years after his removal to Arbroath he changed his situation, and two years after, on the death of his first employer, he carried on the business in partnership with his widow. On her retirement, in 1800, he assumed another partner, and having obtained a government contract to supply the navy with canvas, he was in a few years enabled to purchase considerable property. During the war with France he exhibited his patriotism by inserting in the Dundee Advertiser a succession of loyal poems and songs, most of which were republished in London, and some of the latter set to music and sung at places of public entertainment. To the Northern Minstrel, published at Newcastle, he contributed about twenty songs, and furnished several pieces to the Literary Mirror, published at Montrose. The account of Arbroath in Dr. Brewster’s Encyclopedia was written by him, and he also contributed several papers to Tilloch’s Philosophical Journal.

      In the year 1814 he removed to Trottick, in the neighbourhood of Dundee, to assume the management of a branch of a London house, which was, in the succeeding year, suddenly involved in bankruptcy; and he was obliged to accept of the situation of manager of a manufacturing establishment at Balgonie in Fife, where, upon a limited salary, he continued for three years. In October 1818, principally on account of his children, he removed to Edinburgh, and was employed as a clerk by Mr. Blackwood the publisher. In the course of a few months he was seized with paralysis, and in June 1819 was obliged to relinquish his employment. For ten years thereafter he spent his days in a wheel chair, and devoted himself entirely to literature. In 1819 he published a novel, called ‘Campbell, or the Scottish Probationer,’ which was well received. At the close of the same year he brought out an edition of the poems of his deceased friend, Richard Gall, with a memoir. In 1820 he published a volume, entitled ‘Contemplation, and other Poems.’ About the same time he began to contribute to Constable’s Edinburgh Magazine, tales, sketches, and poems, descriptive of Scottish rural life, which he continued to do till the close of that work in 1826. One poetical series, entitled ‘Characters omitted in Crabbe’s Parish Register,’ was so favourably received, that he was induced to republish it in one volume in 1825. In 1822 he began to write novels for the Minerva Press of London; the first of which, in three volumes, was called ‘The Farmer’s Three Daughters.’ His second, which was by far the best, appeared in 1823, also in three volumes, and was entitled, ‘The Foundling of Glenthorn, or the Smuggler’s Cave.’ In 1827, Mr. Joseph Hume, M.P., presented a number of his works to the premier, Mr. Canning, and a donation of one hundred pounds was obtained for him from the Treasury, in consideration of his talents and misfortunes. His latest work was a novel, entitled ‘Highland Mary,’ in four volumes, which, like his other novels, was distinguished for the most touching pathos. He contributed till his death to the periodicals of the day, and wrote largely in particular for the ‘Edinburgh Literary Gazette,’ a publication long since discontinued. He died on Sept. 12, 1829. A posthumous volume of his remains was published under the title of ‘ Weeds and Wild Flowers,’ with a Memoir by Mr. D. M. Moir.

Balfour’s works are: 

Campbell; or, the Scottish Probationer, 3 vols. 8vo. Edinburgh, 1819.

Contemplation, and other Poems, 1 vol. 8vo. Edin., 1820.

The Farmer’s Three Daughters. A Novel, 3 vols, 8vo. London, 1822.

The Foundling of Glenthorn, or the Smuggler’s Cave, a Romance, 3 vols. 8vo. London, 1823.

Characters omitted in Crabbe’s Parish Register, 1 vol. 8vo. Edinburgh, 1825.

Highland Mary, a Novel, 4 vols. Edinburgh, 1827.

Weeds and Wild Flowers, posthumous, with a Memoir 1 vol. 8vo. Edinburgh, 1830.