Friday, 15 January 2021

Balintore Estate Roup 1855

This blog entry features an invaluable document from the archives, which helps to pin down the construction window for Balintore Castle and the ownership timeline for the Balintore Estate. Many thanks to polymath (incorporating Glen Isla amateur local historian) Kevin Greig for sending me the scan.

The scan of the front page of "The Montrose, Arbroath & Brechin Review, AND FORFAR AND KINCARDINESHIRE ADVERTISER" dated May 11th, 1855 features an advisement, dated 3rd May 1855, for the upcoming sale of the Balintore Estate on the 29th May 1855 by public auction at the British Hotel in Dundee.

the Royal British Hotel, Dundee

The British Hotel building still exists in Dundee at 2-4 Castle Street, classically embellished in the late 19th century, and now sadly featuring in the Scottish Buildings at Risk Register.

The text of the advert is here:

                                SHIRE, FOR SALE.                                   
There  will  be  sold,  by  public roup, within the British Hotel,
   Dundee,  on  Tuesday,  the  29th  day  of May current, at one
   o'clock, afternoon, unless previously sold by private bargain,
      in    the   parish   of   Lintrathen,   consisting  of  the  sunny
third  part  of  the  Town   and  Lands  of  Wester  Glenqhuarity
and   Balintore,  those  portions   of   the  Land  and  Barony  of
Eassie  called  the  third  part  of the lands of Glenqhuarity, and
of   the  third  part  of  the  Lands  of  Coul:  together  with   the
share  belonging  to  the  Estate  of the undivided Commonties;
all  as  it  belonged  to  the  late  Charles  Lyell, Esquire of Kin-
    This  Estate is composed of the two Farms possessed by Mr.
James   Wilson   and  Mr.  Peter  Duncan,  with  the  Woodland
and the Hill Pasture and Hill Commonties.                                
    An  action  for  division  of  the  Commonties is in progress.
The   proper   Estate,  without  the  Commonties,  is reputed  to
extend  to  about  830  acres ; of which 367 are arable, 208 hill
pasture,   and   67  thriving  plantation.  The  Commonties   are
reputed  to  extend  to  from  4000  to 4700 acres, large portion
of which must fall to this Estate in the division.                         
    The   Water   of   Quharity   runs   through   the   Estate.  The
Loch   of  Lintrathen  is  only  about  two  miles  distant.  There
is  good  Grouse Shooting on the Hills, giving great promise of
making   a   most  desirable  station  easily  managed.  There  is
good  accommodation  for  residence  on  the  Hill in a superior
Farm  House  built  by  Mr.  Lyell  for the very object, and long
used  by  him  and  his family. For any one desiring a residence
of  a  better  kind,  there  are excellent sites giving great beauty
and great convenience for sport of all kinds.                              
    The  distance  from  the  Meigle Station of the Scottish Mid-
land  Railway  is  only  about  eight  miles, by excellent roads ;
so  the  residence  is within about fifteen hours of London. The
entry  and  payment  of  the  price  may  be arranged to suit the
    The whole Lands hold of the Crown for payment of a penny
Scots. The fee is full. The Teinds are valued and exhausted.     
    For  further  information,  application  may  be  made  to  C.
Kerr  &  Co.,  Writers in Dundee, who are in possession of the
        Dundee, May 3, 1855.                                                        

A small glossary to help with the text above:




auction (Scots)


land (Scots)


tithe (Scots)

All these terms are new to me but I particularly love the word roup. would be a good competitor to eBay. :-)

The associated scan is here:

newspaper scan from May 11th, 1855

It is hard to ascertain the actual amount of land in the Balintore Estate at the point of sale. I am not quite sure what is going on but I suspect the commonties may be the old common land that in the Victorian era was often moved into private ownership. So the Estate is anywhere from 830 acres to perhaps around 3000 acres, assuming it incorporates 50% of the commonties mentioned.

The Charles Lyell (deceased, 1767–1849) mentioned in the article is the father of Sir Charles Lyell (1797-1875). The latter being the famous founding father of geology and good friend of Darwin. It gets even more confusing as Sir Charles Lyell's grandfather is also called Charles Lyell.

However, let us call Charles Lyell (1767–1849) Charlie Snr. and Sir Charles Lyell (1797-1875) Charlie Jnr. At the date of the sale, Charlie Jnr. had owned the Balintore Estate for 5 years, having inherited it from his father Charlie Snr.. Perhaps, the sale allowed him to pursue or fund his academic interests?

The dates suggest that David Lyon bought the Balintore Estate from Charlie Jnr. in 1855, possibly at the public auction or possibly by prior private bargain hinted at in the article. The article mentions the building of a superior house, which suggests that David Lyon was perhaps already on the scene, as this was his exact plan. The farmhouse referred to is "Balintore House" which is a large impressive building and would be suitable for most people's needs. On the other hand the Lyell's lived at Kinnordy House and at that stage Balintore House was operating as a farm house, despite having once been a castle, so an aspiring gentleman landowner might not have stooped to occupying a farmhouse?

Perhaps, the threat of the public auction was a way to get Lyon to increase his bid for the estate? An article from 1858 detailing building plans for Balintore Castle says that Balintore Estate was purchased "some time ago" by David Lyon. This leads me to conclude there were no intermediate owners between Charlie Jnr. and David Lyon.

The spelling of Balintore is notoriously fickle. It has its modern form in this 1855 article, but is Ballintore in the 1858 article.


  1. Hello David,
    My Milne family farmed at Westerton of Balintore from 1763. according to my research; the Original 1683 description of lands Balintore was known as Invercarity and was valued at L170 13S 4d per annum. The Earl of Airlie (Alexander Ogilvy if memory serves) was the owner as per the Rental Books of the Airlie Papers contained at the NAS.
    The division of the lands in 1791 showed that
    Westertone was possessed by William Mill, Mains of Balintore by Barbara Gibson, Burnside by Alexander Ogilvy and Easter Coull by John Duncan.
    In 1823 the name of the estate and lands was "Balintore"and all divisions are owned by Charles Lyell Esquire.
    In the 1880's the Balintore Castle and Westerton are owned by David Turnbull, 5 South Charlotte St. Endinburgh and the castle is occupied by Count de Bertaux, Westerton Farm is occupied by Peter and James McNicoll.
    Hope this information might help.
    I enjoy following your progress on the restoration.

    1. Hello Linda,
      Many thanks for this great information! Exactly what I am looking for.Hoping to get another blog article out soon on the previous owners of Balintore Castle.