"Robertson Thousands" Barony of Fernan

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    I am trying to find someone who knows the history of the Barony of Fernan (extended at least from current village of Fearnan to past Drummond Hill), and/or some contacts for current farmers/residents if they are long term or have a knowledge of the area, or of their houses/property?

    I am trying to research the Barony of Fernan at Loch Tay, which was once part of the estates of Robertson of Struan (Strowan) and part of his forfeited estates following 89, 15 and 45, but which was exchanged in 1766 by the Forfeiture Commissioners while still under their management, by Act of Parliament, to Breadalbane. My family was in Middle Dalguise from 1762 until 1855, but letters and other material we have indicates we came soon before that from Loch Tay, from land the family called the Loch Tay Estates, or “Robertson Thousands” and I wont’ go into detail but I believe it is Fernan. We also share a common ancestor with the current Clan Donnachaidh chief and his cousins, namely Alexander Robertson of Struan died 1505.

    I have come across a book about Loch Tay called “Lairds and lands of Lochtayside” by John Christie which gives a good but brief description of the Barony of Fernan, which was 30 merklands (or about 3000 acres as I work it out) and had the following farms or possessions: Boreland (which exists today in name at least), Kinnyhallen, Stronfearnan and Margcroy, Croftnallin, Corriecherrow, Schanlarrach or Balnairn, Ballemenach, Tomintyvoir, and Lagfern.

    Do you know if these places exist in any form now (IE farms, ruin sites)?

    One website source gives the following information “…At the top of the road leading up from the lochside, just past Quarry Road (a single lane road accessing the top of the village) will be found twenty metres onward, to the left, a small hollowed stone. This stone is the top of a font commemorating Saint Ciarán with a small plaque on it. It also gives its name to the old top of Fearnan…”

    The Christie book above states that “…there was an old church at Fearnan, with which the name of St. Ciaran is associated. The site of it—on the farm of Boreland—may yet be discerned by the difference in colour of the land after it has been newly tilled. The font which belonged to the church is still preserved…” (this was 1892)
    I assume the font is the one from Boreland farm?

    I have also come across excerpts from “In Fames Breadalbane” including:

    ” In 1769 there were eighteen Campbells paying rent on the south side of Loch Tay; and ten on the north side. The only members of this clan, other than the Earl of Breadalbane, now owning lands in Breadalbane, are Mr. John Campbell and Miss Catherine Campbell of Boreland, Fearnan: Their grandfather and father had been tenants of Boreland during last century, and the family gradually took over the tenancy of Balnearn to the west of Fearnan. When the eastern portion of the Breadalbane estates was sold in 1923, Messrs. Alexander and John Campbell and their sister, Miss Catherine Campbell, purchased the lands of Croftnallin, Boreland, Corriecherrow, Balnairn, Ballemenach, Tomintyvoir, and Lagfearn. Mr. Alexander Campbell died in January, 1930. He had a profound love for Breadalbane and an extensive and accurate knowledge of its history and traditions. He made a valuable collection of Gaelic books. Another member of this family, Christina, married Mr. William Angus, Builder and Contractor. Their son, Mr. William Angus, is at present Keeper of Registers, Register House, Edinburgh. On their mother’s side this family of Campbells is descended from the Campbells of Ardeonaig. The charm stone of the Ardeonaig Campbells is preserved at Boreland. This property, including the farm of Boreland and the west side of Fearnan, is for sale ( written in1937).

    Do you know the book and is it worth getting? Detailed?

    I don’t suppose any descendants of these Campbells are still in the area? Any long term families?

    I am being told I am entering unchartered territory (IE no one has done any work on Fernan). However, I am wondering whether that is correct or not, and even if so, whether there is any local historian/archeologist who has an interest/knowledge of the area but who may not have published widely, or at all…or even a local farming family who have been associated with the area for a long time. I am told in areas at the bottom of Drummond Hill there are indicators in locations showing where the market place etc used to be, and other community areas, (eg a plaque identifying and area as Fernan or Fearnan Fair or Market Cross) so I assume someone has done some survey work there. See the section “Drummond Hill silver birch provenance trial” of a blog site done by some walkers in the area (click on it to see the photos of some Fernan ruins)

    I would also like to find out if anyone has done a study on Fernan ruins, as was done some time ago for nearby Lix see http://ads.ahds.ac.uk/catalogue/adsdata/PSAS_2002/pdf/vol_101/101_160_199.pdf

    Fernan was the last of the substantial Robertson lands around Loch Tay, with other large areas being held in the 1500s and early 1600s by branches including the Robertsons of Carwhin (who, after losing their land to the Campbells of Glenorchy, went to the Crieff area and changed their name to Menteith, as you would!).

    I am currently talking to Scottish Universities and other history groups, but Fernan or Fearnan comes up a fat zero in research. Any local historians obsessed with the place? I imagine there are no long term families in the village of Fearnan. Anyone in the area interested in the ruins? Any idea what the history is of the current village of Fearnan, as I believe one group of dweillings is about 400 years old?

    What is most interesting is that I have asked many experts about Robertson land around Loch Tay and nearly all over the past 7 years I have been doing family history have dismissed my family letters claiming Robertsons held no land around Loch Tay as late as the mid 1700s. Everyone has forgotten, and there is a general assumption it was always Breadalbane’s.


    David Robertson

    Tasmania Australia


    I note no one has posted any reply to your request for Robertson information so I will make contact with you and offer what limited information I have to hand. I am very interested in the history about Killin and district but do not have much knowledge of the Fearnan area at all other than it was a part of Breadalbane. However I do know that at one time or another it was Robertson lands and I am sure if you get a copy of In Famed Breadalbane you will be pleasantly surprised at the quality of the work that the Rev Gillies has put into it. An original copy costs about £100 locally now in Killin although there have recently been a couple of runs of reprints that should resale at about £20.

    Robertsons originally owned extensive lands about the Loch Tayside area including lands just outside Killin, I do have the information someplace but as I have only recently moved house all my books & papers are still in boxes. Whe I do get some info I will definitely pass it onto you. Most of the farm names you mention still exist in one form or another as I recognise most of the names. An ordanance Survey map of Lochtayside will let you see where these names are today. One facet you mention has maybe answered a query I have been trying to resolve for a long time. When the road was being widened about one mile west of the village of Fearnan the forest had to be cut back from the road a stone slab not unlike thesize of a milestone was uncovered still standing stating this was the site of the Market Cross of Fearnan.

    When I eventually unpack everything (that is when my wife lets me as I have so much) I will look out for info for you and in the meantime I will also ask about people I know to see if they know anything and if I get anything I will pass you onto them.

    Davie Osler



    Thanks for that.

    Anything you can help with would be appreciated.

    I believe it was the rather mysterious Robertsons of Carwhim who held large area around Lawers in the 1500 to 1600s, but who were moved out by Glenorchy (and went to Crieff).

    So far I can’t find any long term families in the area, and I suspect there aren’t any anymore with an oral tradition. I did track down a retired Reverend in Kenmore with an old Breadalbane name but he has not replied to me. However, since I wrtote to him I have been told he only came to the area after the second world war and is in fact from the islands.

    Yes, I will get a copy of the Famed Breadalbane. I would love to contact someone who knows something about the ruins too.

    Much thanks

    David R


    Thanks for your reply David. Yes you are quite right there are only a few Robertsons in Killin and they are all incomers. I do know that there are some really old Robertson families up Rannoch way and when I meet my contacts up there I will ask around for you. There is one Robertson who lives in Killin who is a friend of mine who is also in the local heritage society (I am not in it as I don’t agree with their ideas of heritage but that is another matter) I will ask him to try and find out what he can. He is a good man and when I have a couple of drams with him he might get really interested in and as he is retired he has more time than me and may do a bit of searching for you. The riuns interest me, can you give me any info on exactly which ruins you are speaking about as I will dig out what I can about them. The Breadalbane papers in Register House Edinburgh are a great source of information about all of the lands in Breadalbane as they often give previous owners, tacks, how the lands passed to Breadalbane etc.




    Ok thanks for that offer.

    I don’t know exactly where the ruins are, and I think they are spread out (including shielings). I was in contact with the local Government Forestry bloke Peter Fullarton who oversees the plantations from Drummond Hill up to Dalguise and he may be able to help …vaguely I understood at the bottom or side of Drummond Hill. See the following section of a blog site done by some walkers in the area for some Fernan ruin site photos

    http://www.treeblog.co.uk/viewpost.php?id=155 (I can’t get a highlighted live link, so you will have to copy this address and paste to you web page web site)

    It is called Drummond Hill silver birch provenance trial

    There is also a photo of the forest area where the market cross stone is supposed to be (was)?

    Unforunately it doesn’t look like anyone has looked at them, as has been done for Lix (see http://ads.ahds.ac.uk/catalogue/adsdata/PSAS_2002/pdf/vol_101/101_160_199.pdf )

    Yes, Rannoch was the main part of the estate of Struan in the 1700s, and where he lived until he died in 1749 (he stayed on his land although it was forfeited, and the factors didn’t come in until 1755). There were of course many cadet branches of Robertsons (eg Robertson of Faskally, of Lude, of Eastertyre , of Dalcapon etc etc ) but we know we are descended from the same family as current chief from Alexander Robertson died 1505 (his sons mainly forming the major cadet branches just mentioned). What is interesting is that the sons of Alexander died 1505 are listed as being born in the Parish of Kenmore! So the chief must have been living in Kenmore Parish in the late 1400s. I don’t know where. Also what is interesting is that the Stewarts of Dalguise (where we ended up in 1762) have in their family documents in National Archives of Scotland critical documents regarding land that was part of Barony of Fernan (regarding the farms or possessions of Corriecherrie and Ballemenach) from early 1600s, for no apparent reason (IE they are not signatories or parties to the land deals). There are also some documents which show money lending from Stewarts to the Robertsons in Fernan.

    If you can give me your email address I can send you a short piece about the family which might help your contacts to help me. It sets out the circumstantial evidence about our link with Fernan.

    What I am trying to do is sort out some of these stories before I get over there in a year or so to spend time in the archives. If I can go part way to confirm or even dismiss some of these stories, then I will waste less valuable time over there.

    slainte mhor

    David Robertson


    My email address is Sinebhan@aol.com and as an update I was speaking to David Robertson (the man I told you about in Killin) on Saturday night and he says he will have a look through the heritage records to see if there is any mention of Robertsons or Robertson Lands. At the same function co-incidentally was a friend who was born and brought up in Fearnan so I had a word with him as well but he said he did not have much information in this regard. However he said he would ask some of the people he remembers from the villlage but don’t get too excited as this line will probably take some time to feed back but eventually we should get some feedback.

    Slainte Bha


    My email address is Sinebhan@aol.com and as an update I was speaking to David Robertson (the man I told you about in Killin) on Saturday night and he says he will have a look through the heritage records to see if there is any mention of Robertsons or Robertson Lands. At the same function co-incidentally was a friend who was born and brought up in Fearnan so I had a word with him as well but he said he did not have much information in this regard. However he said he would ask some of the people he remembers from the villlage but don’t get too excited as this line will probably take some time to feed back but eventually we should get some feedback.

    Slainte Bha



    I am the guy behind the treeblog website (http://www.treeblog.co.uk/viewpost.php?id=155). I wasn’t walking in the area, I was collecting data for my ecology dissertation at the Drummond Hill silver birch provenance trial. I’m not sure if that parcel of land is open to the general public or not; a local may know the answer.

    Follow that link to my site, and the first photo shows the limits of the provenance trial called Drummond Hill. I believe the woodland around that site is known as Boreland, at least by the Forestry Commission. This sign is on the main road below the trial:


    The fourth photo on the treeblog page shows what I think are shieling ruins (not on OS Explorer 378 map), somewhere within the part of the provenance trial downhill of the forestry road running through it.

    As for the Fernan market cross, marked on the Ordnance Survey map as Incised Cross, here are some photos. The cross:


    For scale:


    The plaque on the back:


    Here’s a list of some of the placenames on the OS map within a few km of Fernan (spelled Fearnan on the map): Feadan, Balnearn, Altbeag, Boreland, Letterellan, Clach-na-Cruich, Clach na Tuirc [or Cuirc], Cromrar, Culdairbeg, and Easter Achtar.

    All the best,
    Ashley Peace

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