The Great Historic
Families of Scotland
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THE RUTHVENS OF GOWRIE.
THE Ruthvens derive their descent from a Norwegian baron named Thor, who, in the
reign of King Edgar, founded the Church of Edinham, or Ednam, on the banks of
the Tweed, the birthplace, five centuries later, of Thomson,
the poet of the 'Seasons.' The charter which Thor granted to this religious
establishment is a model for its brevity and clearness, and may serve to
illustrate the process by which the waste places of the country were peopled and
the inhabitants civilised. 'To the sons of Holy Mother Church,' ran this
interesting document, 'Thor the Long, greeting in the Lord: be it known that
Aedgar my lord, King of Scots, gave to me Aednaham, a desert; that, with his
help and my own money I peopled it, and have built a church in honour of St.
Cuthbert, which church, with a ploughgate of land, I have given to God and to
St. Cuthbert and his monks to be possessed by them for ever.'
THE ERSKINES OF BUCHAN AND CARDROSS.
Lord Cardross was present at his father's death, and figured prominently at his
obsequies, which were performed with great solemnity, and elaborate ceremony.
Lady Huntingdon's party took a great interest in the well-being of the young
Earl, and Fletcher, Henry Venn, and the eccentric Berridge were at once
appointed his chaplains. The name of John Wesley was subsequently added to the
list, much to his own satisfaction. In 1771, Lord Buchan took up his residence
on his Linlithgowshire estate, and set himself to effect, by precept and
example, much-needed improvements in husbandry. He also made vigorous efforts to
induce his brother nobles to act an independent part in the election of their
sixteen representatives in Parliament, and to discontinue the degrading practice
of voting for the list sent down by the Government of the day, and he succeeded
ultimately, almost single-handed, in putting it down. He was the founder of the
Society of Antiquaries in Edinburgh, in 1780, and contributed a number of papers
to the first volume of their Transactions. He was able, in 1786, to buy back the
small estate of Dryburgh, which had of old belonged to his ancestors, with the
ruined abbey and mansion-house, where he took up his residence for half a
century, and performed many curious and eccentric feats. He had a restless
propensity for getting up public fêtes, one of which was an annual festival in
commemoration of Thomson, the author of 'The Seasons,'
at Ednam, the poet's native place. He erected, in his [p.126] grounds at
Dryburgh, an Ionic temple, with a statue of Apollo in the interior, and a bust
of the bard surmounting the dome. Burns wrote a poetical address for its
inauguration. He also raised a colossal statue of Sir William Wallace, on the
summit of a steep and thickly planted bank above the river Tweed. It was
installed with great ceremony. A huge curtain was drawn before the statue, which
dropped at the discharge of a cannon, and then the Knight of Ellerslie was
discovered with a large German tobacco-pipe in his mouth, which some wicked wag
had placed there—to the unspeakable consternation of the peer, and amusement
of the company. Sir Walter Scott used to say that when a revolution should take
place, his first act would be to procure a cannon, and batter down this