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Country code GB
Repository code 234
Repository National Records of Scotland
Reference GD138
Title Papers of the Stewart family, Earls of Galloway (Galloway Charters)
Dates 1330-1960
Access status Open
Location Off site
Description When one considers the ancient lineage of the Earls and the large extent of their former lands in Galloway, these charters are disappointing. The foundation of the family fortunes dates back to 1396 when Sir John Stewart, eldest son of Sir William Stewart of Teviotdale, married Marion, daughter and heiress of Sir Walter Stewart of Dalswinton. Sir John is thereafter known as of Garlies and Dalswinton. In this charter chest there is nothing that throws light on the disputed paternity of Sir William Stewart of Teviotdale and not a single document bearing on the lands of Dalswinton, though Symson records that in his day the earliest writ of Dalswinton was a grant by Robert the Brus. Until the building of Garlies castle Dalswinton was the residence of the family and the titles of that property should throw much light on its early history. But the titles must be sought elsewhere.

The earliest charter of Garlies is undated but was in the reign of David II, when John Randolph, Earl of Moray, granted the lands of Garlies, Glenmannoch and Corsok to Sir Walter Stewart the father of the above Marion. Not till nearly the middle of the 16th century is there another document relating to Garlies and Glenmannoch. By then Corsok was in other hands. Indeed the Exchequer Rolls reveal no Crown infeftment in the lands of Garlies till 1514. The reason may have been the disturbed state of Galloway a province acquired by the Douglases in 1369 and forfeited by them in 1455.

The surviving charters refer to many lands mainly in Wigtownshire. They are in reasonably good condition and but few seem to be missing. There are two separate inventories from which it is learnt that in 1730 the Galloway charters were arranged in twelve boxes and an inventory (unbound) of their contents at that date survives. This inventory should be consulted as it contains matter (such as the writs of Balseir) which does not figure in the later inventory. Early in the 19th century another inventory was made in three volumes, which seems to be largely a copy of the earlier inventory, much extended by later material; vol. III has a rough but helpful index which was compiled at some date after 1808.

The most complete series of documents in this charter chest relate to the Barony of Corswell and extend to over 200 in number. The Stewarts of Garlies acquired these lands in the 17th century from the McDowalls of Garthland who in turn derived them from the Campbells of Corswell.

The earliest known Campbell in Galloway was Arthur Campbell who in 1329 received a grant of free barony of the lands of Gillespie and some others near Stranraer (Scottish History Society 3rd series, vol. 36, Report of 54th Annual Meeting). It is possible that this Arthur is identical with Sir Arthur Campbell captain of Dunstaffnage mentioned in an Act of Parliament of 1331 who is believed to have been uncle to the Duncan Campbell who married Susanna Crawford, heiress of Loudoun, (`Scots Peerage', I, 321) and was ancestor of the Earls of Loudoun.

The earliest of these Corswell charters is missing but figures in the inventory as - "a double of a charter by way of instrument by Duncan Campbell of Loudoun to Alexander Campbell his son of the lands of Corswell, dated 25 July 1365 under the superscription of David Gronalline N.P." It is possible that the original grant may still be amongst the Garthland charters.

No document has any bearing on the estate of Cumloden where the Earl now resides. It is possible that the Cumloden titles may have been amongst a large quantity of Estate papers which are reputed to have lain long in a damp cellar at Cumloden. What could be salved was a mere handful according to the late Marquess of Bute who repaired and restored them. Their loss is all the more to be regretted for it was anticipated that the earlier of these titles might have thrown light on the well known tradition of the widow of Craigencalie and her sons McKie, McLurg and Murdoch who for loyal services received from Brus that "wee bit hassock o' land betwixt Penkill and Palnure". In 1501 Mr. Duncan McKie was infeft in Cumlodane (Exchequer. Rolls, XI, 466).

These writs are of considerable interest to the local historian and of great value to the genealogist and I have considered it desirable to make a calendar of every document prior to 1600 with a few others of later date. The calendar also includes some documents presently in the safe at Cumloden which were produced by the Earl for my inspection. I wish to place on record my appreciation of the courtesy and hospitality extended to me by the Earl and Countess when I visited Cumloden.

(Signed) R.C. Reid.
Level Fonds
Admin history Finlay Campbell the last of Corswell died in October 1563 leaving two daughters of whom Mariota married the laird of Garthland; the other daughter died in the lifetime of her father and left an only daughter, Jean Campbell, to inherit the other half of the Corswell estates. With consent of George Kennedy, her husband, Jean disponed her portion to Uchtred McDowell of Garthland, from whose descendant Sir John McDowell of Garthland the whole of Corswell passed to Alexander Earl of Galloway by purchase.

The titles of the Grenan estate in the parish of Dalry commence in 1517 with a grant by Robert Lord Maxwell who, holding direct from the Crown, thus became the feudal superior of the Stewarts.

The writs of the barony of Clugstoun go back as far as 1499. Like nearly every other estate in Galloway Clugstoun has no documentary history till after the forfeiture of the Douglases, though part or all of the lands may have been held by the Frasers under the Douglases. In 1460 Alexander Fraser, Lord of Philorth and of Clugstoun which he may only have held in ward, gave a charter to his cousin Janet McGillumpha of some lands in the barony of Clugstoun (A.D.C. XXV f. 70). Eleven years later the barony was held by John Clugstoun of that Ilk whose son Patrick sold the property in 1500 to John Dunbar of Mochrum. Dunbar's younger son Patrick Dunbar succeeded to Clugstoun and married Margaret Vaus illegitimate daughter of George Vaus, Bishop of Galloway, by whom he had an only daughter Margaret who carried the barony into the Stewart family by marrying Alexander Stewart yr. of Garlies. Margaret Dunbar must have been a lady of spirit and determination. As an expectant mother she had entered into some agreement with her husband as to the ultimate destination of the barony of Clugstoun. When on her childbed she learnt that her husband had broken that agreement and entailed all the estates including Clugstoun on his own heirs, failing issue by Margaret. No sooner was she safely delivered of her son and heir than she summoned a notary to draft a protest against her husband and to secure Clugstoun to her Dunbar heirs in the event of her child's death. This she did whilst still in child-bed and both the notary and the doctor in attendance witnessed it.

There are no documents amongst the Galloway charters relating to Glasserton which in 1763 became the patrimony of Admiral Keith Stewart eighth son of the 6th Earl, to whom the titles may have been transferred with the estate. Glasserton House was burnt down on 12 August 1734 (recorded in the Inventory) when according to McKerlie I 508 "many valuable papers particularly in connection with the Lennox Peerage, were destroyed". Yet it is just possible that the Stewart Mackenzies of Seaforth as direct descendants of Admiral Keith Stewart may be in possession of some early Glasserton writs.

All the estates referred to in these charters have now passed out of the hands of the Earls of Galloway. Only the original Garlies remains.
Format Text
Language English
Archival history The charters and titles of the Earls of Galloway are contained in a long wooden box 4'6" by 1'3" by 1'7", which for convenience of examination has been lodged at the Register House by the Earl's agents Messrs. Cowan & Stewart, W.S., Edinburgh.

National Records of Scotland, H.M. General Register House, 2 Princes Street, Edinburgh, EH1 3YY; email: [email protected]