Masterton Papers

Masterton Papers


Edited, with Pedigree, Introduction and Notes, by
F.S.A. Scot.












The MS. of Francis Masterton's Remarques is in the form of a small unbound note-book of thirty-two pages, measuring six by three and three-quarter inches. In the first instance, the front cover or first page has been left blank, and the title and writer's name have been inscribed on the second page. The Remarques begin on the third page.

An examination of the MS. suggests that no part was written prior to the close of 1699, and the entries down to that date or the close of 1700 were made practically at one time. The subsequent entries, and the notes regarding the births, deaths, and marriages of members of the Masterton family, written on the first page and below the writer's name on the second, appear to have been added at intervals.

From 'the happie restauratione of King Charles the Second 1660', referred to in the title, the Remarques are carried down to the death of Francis Paton at Stirling, on 14th November 1719, when the writer was over seventy-seven years of age. Were it not that the title contains, in the word 'happie', an expression of sentiment, these first and last entries would be perfectly typical of both the matter and the manner of the volume, for in it events of every degree of importance are noted with equal brevity and impartiality. The year 1679 affords a good example: 'Bothwel Bridge rebellion of ye whigs and defeat 2 June; 1 my dochter Kathrin born 26 Novr; Sharp Archbishop of St. Andrew, murther, 29 May'.

The volume is likely to prove more serviceable in supplying such dates as the birth of 'my dochter Kathrin', or the death of 'Francis Paton', than such as Bothwell Brigg and the death of the Archibishop. And it is precisely in this that its value lies, for, while there are quaint touches which cannot fail to interest the general reader, the large body of information of the former class which it contains may, at any point, yield a fact or a suggestion of importance to the specialist.

The careful abstention from expressions of personal sentiment and the brevity of the references to contemporary political events are in themselves suggestive at once of the social conditions of the period and of the character of Francis Masterton. But other documents preserved along with the Remarques appear worthy of publication as helping to illustrate both these points even more directly. Among these are two in his own hand entitled 'Adwise and memorandum to them that succeds me in the Parkmilne', and 'A feu desyres to my wyfe if it please God she survive me, wch I pray she may long doe it', a prayer which was not granted, and a third, 'Lawes for regulating the societie of husbandmen within the shyre of Clacmannane'.

The first two papers embody Francis Masterton's wishes as regards the arrangements for his funeral and the distribution of his estate, and convey to his wife and family sage advice for the management of Parkmill, and for the conduct of their affairs generally after his death. From the clean though worn state of these papers they would appear to have been treated with respect and frequently referred to by his successors. The third paper contains the laws of a society proposed to be formed, about the close of the seventeenth century, among the husbandmen of the parishes of Clackmannan and Alloa - at one place divided into three classes, 'the nobleman' (Lord Mar), gentlemen, and farmers or husbandmen - who are to subscribe to a fund for providing relief to honest labourers within these parishes, but only to such as have been diligent labourers and fallen back either by ill crops or by 'inlakeing of their bestial'. Provision is made that no slothful and negligent people shall share in the fund, and that, where possible, security shall be taken for advances, so that, if the receiver's condition be bettered, they may be refunded to the society.

These and also a few notes of family matters, made in another small note-book by Charles Masterton, the son and heir of Francis, are now printed.

A large mass of notes, identifying persons and places referred to in these papers, might be compiled. Annotation of this character is in most cases of extremely doubful utility to those for whom such documents are printed, and in the case of the Remarques, where so many references to obscure persons are condensed into so small a space, would be more of an encumbrance than an assistance. The notes have therefore, for the most part, been confined to the subject of the Masterton family, and have been embodied in the accompanying genealogy.

The published records and various original documents preserved with those already referred to showed that the family was one of considerable antiquity. From these sources, I had framed a genealogy of the family before I observed the genealogies already published by Douglas, Stodart, and Crawford.2 The accurary of the earlier pedigrees, as amended by Stodart, is, on the whole, confirmed, but I have been enabled further to augment and correct them by references to the ancient title-deeds of Bad, Parkmill, etc., the lands held at various times by the family, and to other original documents, including those now printed.

Where information is derived from published sources I have thought it unnecessary to do more than supply references, as Mr. Stodart has already noted most of the facts of any apparent interest. Where unpublished documents are founded on, it would have been satisfactory to have given full notes of the documents, but this would have occupied more space than can be devoted to such matter in the present volume, and it has been necessary to make such references general. In most cases I have stated where the documents are now preserved.

Crawford and The Scottish Nation copied their notices of the family from Douglas, and the late Mr. R.R.Stodart, Lyon Clerk-Depute, published a paper in the Miscellanea Genealogica bearing to be a critical examination of the genealogies issued by Douglas and Crawford.

The antiquity of the family is thus stated by Douglas:'This is a local sirname, like many others of great antiquity in Scotland. The traditional account of their origin is that one of the chief architects at the building of the abbacy of Dunfermline obtained from King Malcolm Canmore the lands of Masterton in Fifeshire, from which he and his posterity assumed their sirname. They were long designed Mastertons of that Ilk,' etc.

Stodart adduces the following argument against the acceptance of this tradition. 'The Church of the Holy Trinity and St. Margaret, at Dunfermline, is believed to have been founded soon after the marriage of Malcolm and Margaret; the Abbey probably dates from the reign of their son David.

'Malcolm IV. (1153-65) granted the lands of Ledmacdunegil,3 afterwards called Masterton, as formerly held by Magister Ailricus cementarius, to the Abbey church of Dunfermline. Ailric's designation has perhaps formed the ground of the fable of the architect, and it is evident that the lands not being then called Masterton could not have given a name to their owner.'

With reference to this argument, the habit of continuing old place-names in legal documents after they have been superseded in practice must be kept in view.  An example of this is afforded in the case of Parkmill.

Stodart gives seven generations of de Maystertuns, begininning with Hugo de Villa Magistri, about 1250. In the accompanying genealogy, which may be referred to, the first six of these generations are retained. The possibility of another William, after Duncan and before Symon, is pointed out in a note. But it must be observed that the William, whose lands near Haddington had been forfeited, may have been Duncan's predecessor. Stodart's seventh generation is William Maistertoun, who was on an assize at Dunfermline 1491-2, but no authority is given for connecting him with the de Maistertuns.

Stodart further notes that there is 'a statement which seems to be quite groundless, that William Masterton of that ilk in 1442 4 "made a donation to the Abbey of Dunfermline out of his lands of Masterton pro salute animae sue" '. Douglas is responsible for this statement, and, except that the donation is of the whole lands of Masterton, and that the granter is named and designed William de Maistertun, Dominus de Dalis, it is correct. Douglas refers to the Chartulary of Dunfermline as his authority, and to a notarial extract of the donation above mentioned. But the charter does not appear in the printed Register of Dunfermline, and Mr. Stodart therefore rejects the statement. Douglas, however, had no doubt seen, though his description is inaccurate, the existing notarially certified copy made in 1544 of the original charter of 1422, then in the charter-house of the Monastery of Dunfermline - not an extract of a charter in the chartulary. Down to 1419 the Chartulary printed in the Register of Dunfermline supplies a consecutive history of the family and of the lands of Masterton; but here there is a blank, for the Chartulary fails to show how the lands passed from the family, and how they came to be again in the hands of the monastery when, in the sixteenth century, they were given off in eighth-parts to various feuars. As will be seen, this copy assists in bridging over if not in filling in the blank.5

In his Scottish Arms (vol. ii, p.267), Mr.Stodart notes the Masterton family, and, after mentioning certain of the earlier generations, says, 'Their descendants held Masterton till the sixteenth century'. Unfortunately he does not give any authority for the statement, and the copy charter just mentioned would appear to disprove it.

After the William who granted Masterton to the monastery we have a blank (unless Stodart's seventh generation is accepted) until we find Alexander Maistertoun of Bad or Baid in the lordship of Culross, who had from the Monastery of Culross a charter of Bad in 1544, and from John, Lord Erskine, charters of the lands of Millarwood and Crumlabank in 1547, and of the 'peice' (petra) of the lands of Hiltoun called nether fluris in 1651. These lands, held of Lord Erskine and his successors, came to be called Parkmill.

The following reasons for connecting this Alexander with the William of 1422 suggest themselves:- (1) That the extract of the charter granted by the former was given out at the requisition of Alexander Masterton, within a few months of the time when Alexander Masterton of Bad and his wife were infeft in Bad; (2) That the Extract, dated 12th March 1544, is preserved with the Bad Sasine, dated 17th April 1544, and other family title-deeds; (3) That the lands of Dales, by which the granter of the charter is designed, lie in the same district as those of Masterton and not far from Bad ; and (4) That the armorial bearings on the seal of William, attached to that charter, are the same reversed as those on the seal of Robert Masterton of Bad, given in Laing's Seals as attached to a charter dated 16th January 1588.

The name of Masterton is not uncommon in published records at intermediate dates, but the attempt to graft these names into the family tree has not been succesful. The dominus Johannes de Maistertoun, who appears in the Cambuskenneth Chartulary of date 1445, was not necessarily then alive, and may have been the predecessor of the William de Maistertun of 1419-1422.

Douglas gives with tolerable accuracy the subsequent generations down to Francis Masterton of Parkmill and Gogar, who was alive shortly before the date of the publication of the Baronage, and who would appear to have allowed Douglas access to his muniments.

Up to this point, Crawford, in his Memorials of Alloa follows Douglas, and he goes wrong in his first independent statement, viz.,that 'this old family ......became extinct about the end of last century in the person of John Masterton, who died at Leyden in Holland at an advanced age, leaving no issue.' Stodart refers to this statement, and, in trying to supply facts for the completion of the family history, states that John Masterton of Braco, Perth, 'who has been stated to be a son of Francis and Margaret Graeme', married Anne Amelia Murdoch, who died 1806, and suggests that James, whose daughter, Margaret Seymour, married Captain Theodore Henry Elliot, was the son of John. James was the son of Francis and Margaret. He married a daughter of James Murdoch of the island of Madeira, merchant, his partner in business; and their only child, Margaret Seymour, married Captain Elliot, eldest son of the Right Hon. Hugh Elliot, Governor of Madras, by whom she had no issue.

The old family estate of Parkmill, acquired in 1547, was sold by Braco in 1843.

Some additional information will be found in the notes to the pedigree.

I have to acknowledge my indebtedness to Messrs. Tods, Murray, and Jamieson, W.S., for permission to publish these papers, and for access to relative documents. Among others to whom my thanks are due for most kind assistance are Dr. Dickson of Her Majesty's General Register House, the Rev. Mr. Hallen of Alloa, the Rev. Mr. Thomson Grant of Leven, Mr. J. Horn Stevenson, Advocate, Mr. J. M. Gray of the National Portrait Gallery, and Mr. W. R. Macdonald, also Mr. Main and the other assistant librarians at the Signet Library

The genealogy of the de Maistertuns and of the Mastertons of Bad and Parkmill above referred to is subjoined. No attempt is made to deal with the other branches of the family, to some of which Stodart refers.

1 22d June
2 (1) Douglas's Baronage, 1798, 'Masterton,' p.320 (2) Miscellenea Genealogica et Heraldica, vol. iii. new issue, pp.135 and 142, reprinted privately 1878. (3) Crawford's Memorials of the Parish of Alloa (1874). (4) Scottish Nation.  (5) Stodart's Scottish Arms, vol ii. p. 267.
3 Ledmacduuegil, or Lethmachduuegil, see Dunfermline Register.
4 Misquoted. See Douglas, '1422'.
5 This copy is written on parchment. The charter is in Latin, and by it William of Masterton, Laird of Dalis, resigns all his land of Masterton, with the land of Pottarlands of the same, into the hands of William, Abbot of Dunfermline, and dedicates to God, and bestows on the monks of the Church of the Holy Trinity there, all the said lands for the salvation of his own soul and the souls of his predecessors and successors.

It bears to be granted at Dunfermline, in the Chapter Place of the same, about ten o'clock, 3d February 1422, and to have appended the seal of the granter, and, at his entreaties, the seals of these venerable men the Lords David Sten, Laird of Hartschaw, John Malvyn, Laird of Rathe, and William Ramsay, Laird of Balbugy. Below the copy, which is written on parchment, the scribe has added coloured drawings of the seals above mentioned and a notarial docquet, of which the following is a translation:- 'This is a true and accurate copy of the principal charter of William of Masterton, under his seal and arms and as above appended to the same, sealed in chief with white wax, tinged with red, together with three other seals of the said Lords as aforesaid, extracted from the Charter House of the Monastery of Dunfermline by me, Sir Thomas Malcum, Notary Public, and accurately subscribed, copied, compared, and collated word for word, nothing being either added or taken away which can change its substance or vary its sense, so that full trust may be given to this copy as aforesaid, copied, compared and collated as to the original, therefore I have confirmed this copy, faithfully written with my own hand, by my sign manual and seal, in witness and testimony of the truth of the premises, being solicited and required by Alexander Masterton, at Dunfermline, the twelfth day of the month of March to the year of our Lord one thousand five hundred and forty-four, Sir James Thomson, monk and keeper of the charters of the said Monastery, James Murray, and Sir James Coupar, Notary Public, witnesses called and specially solicited to the premises, being present at collating the said charter.'  Subscribed, Thomas Malcum.

This document was exhibited in the Heraldry Exhibition held at Edinburgh in 1861, No. 391 in the Catalogue.