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The monastery of Mortlach, a house of early foundation, with its dependent monastery of Cloveth or Clova,' continued to flourish till the time of David I., when both re-appear in record as churches of districts.
The monastery of St. Congan at Turreff became the church of the parish of that name, and the House of St. Drostan at Deer now disappeared in like manner in the parochial arrangement of the country; while in both cases the lands of these monasteries seem to have been resumed by the Earls of Buchan, the representatives of the earlier mormaers.
If, however, the monastic possessions of Deer and Turreff fell into the hands of the Lords of Buchan, it is certain that they were not long retained by them, and (in the expressive language of an early Irish record) that they did not continue "dead" in their hands.3
1 Mortlach was probably founded by St. Moloc or Mo-luag, to whom the church was dedicated. This saint, according to our early writers, was the pupil of St. Brandan. He was the founder and patron of Lismore in Argyll, a country throughout which he laboured, as well as in that of Mar. Becoming associated with St. Boniface, he shared the labours of that saint in the northern regions, and dying in extreme age was buried in the church of St. Boniface at Rosmarkie. It is probable that Mortlach was one of the "chief" monasteries of Alba, while Cloveth was one of secondary importance and subject to Mortlach (post, pp. xxvii. lxxvii.) There may yet be seen the remains of a ruined
church at Cloveth (now Clova), and close to it a well called in the district Simmerlúak (St. Moluak), a name which preserves the connection of Cloveth with the mother church of Mortlach.-(Breviar. Aberd. Part. Estiv. fol. vi. Boece, Scotor. Hist. fol. clxxviii. ed. 1526.)
2 For the history of the Celtic monastery at Turreff, see p. cxxiv.
3 In an account of the officers of the Kings of Connaught, translated from the Irish by Dr. O'Donovan, it is stated, “Fortyeight town-lands constituted the patrimony of his four royal chiefs-namely, O'Flanagan, O'Maelbreanainn, Mac-Oireachty, and O'Feenaghty, together with all dead churchlands, which are described as "lands taken b
At the period of King David's confirmation to the clerics of Deer (p. 95) of their rights and immunities, Colban was the mormaer, through his marriage with Eva, the daughter and heiress of Gartnat, the former mormaer.
Their grandson Fergus, who came to be styled Earl of Buchan, left a daughter, Marjory, who by marriage with William Cumyn carried the earldom to him.1
In the year 1219, William, Earl of Buchan, founded the Cistercian Abbey of Deer at a spot about two miles westward of the church of the parish which came in place of St. Drostan's monastery.2
at an early period from the church by the oppressive conduct of the laity, and not claimed by the church afterwards.-(Trans. Kilkenny Arch. Soc. vol. ii. p. 346.)
Both Colban and Fergus had natural sons, who witness charters of William Cumyn in favour of the house of Deer. They are styled "Magnus, son of Earl Colban," and " Adam, son of Fergus, Earl." An earlier Adam appears as a witness to a charter of Earl Fergus, where he is designated "frater comitis."—(Illustrations of the Antiquities of the Shires of Aberdeen and Banff, vol. ii. pp. 427-8. Collections on the Antiquities of these Shires, vol. i. p. 406.)
church of St. Boniface at Invergowrie was built on a spot on the north bank of the Tay, almost insulated by the river. The early foundation of St. Fechin, at St. Vigeans, near Arbroath, occupies the top of a steep hillock rising from the banks of the Brothock, and at all these early churches have been found sculptured stones of the class peculiar to the Pictish Country. An early description of the parish of Deer preserves the following tradition connected with the building of the old church of the parish:"The founders, intending to build the church on a neighbouring hill called Biffie, south-west of Deer about a quarter of a mile, as they were digging for a foundation, heard a voice saying,
It is not here
Ye'll big the kirk of Deer,
Where mony corps man lye." -(Collections, ut supra, p. 401.)
Of the foundation-charter no trace has been discovered, but it seems to have conveyed, among other possessions, the church of the parish of Deer, with the lands which had been the property of St. Drostan's monastery; and we can recognise in the rentals of the new foundation, down to its dissolution in the sixteenth century, some of the town-lands which had been granted by the Gaelic mormaers and toisechs.1
The munificent spirit of the founder led him to add to his first gift the lands of Barry in Strathisla, and Fochyl on the Ythan, and it manifested itself in his grandson, the last earl of his race, who bestowed on them the church of Kynedwart.
Under these circumstances, the change from the primitive monastic system to the parochial one, was beneficial in every point of view. The place of the clan-monastery was now occupied by the church of the district, endowed with ample tithes, while in its neighbourhood arose the stately Cistercian abbey, enriched with the same lands which had been dedicated to a religious use in earlier times.
It is not necessary for our purpose to follow in detail the history of the later monastery, but it may be permitted to notice the less propitious and curiously different circumstances attending its concluding days, when a second ecclesiastical change occurred.
The turn of affairs which set King Robert Bruce on the throne of the Scots, was fatal to the fortunes of the Cumyns, who, having espoused the opposite side, were so utterly overthrown that, according to a chronicle of the time, of a name which numbered at one
Extracta e variis Cronicis Scocie, p.
2 See Celtic Entries in Book of Deer, post, p. xvii. 103.
time the three Earls of Buchan, Marr, and Menteith, and more than thirty belted knights, there remained no memorial in the land save the orisons of the monks of Deer.
Sir Robert de Keith, the great Marischal of Scotland, espoused the fortunes of Bruce, and, among other rewards of his faithful service, he received a grant from that monarch of the pleasant lands of Alden on the banks of the Ugie, which adjoined the townland granted to St. Drostan's house by the toisech of Clan Canan (p. xxvii.)
From that time the strength of the house of Marischal in the province of Buchan, especially by intermarriage with one of the two co-heiresses of the powerful house of Inverugie, continued to
In the year 1543, Robert Keith, a brother of the fourth Earl Marischal, was appointed Abbot of Deer on the presentation of the Queen Dowager. He died while yet a youth, in the year 1551, and to him succeeded Robert Keith, a son of the Earl, when only fifteen years old.
As Commendator of Deer, he signed a charter, dated at Paris in 1556, confirming one by his father of the lands of Auchrady. These lands were held of the Abbey of Deer, and one of the conditions of the feu-right granted by the abbot was, that the vassals should strive to maintain "orthodoxam seu catholicam fidem."1
In 1560, as "now Abbot and Commendator" of Deer, he granted to William, Earl Marischal, his father, a tack of the teind-sheaves of many lands in the parishes of Deer, Peterugy, and Foveran.2
1 Antiquities of the Shires of Aberdeen and Banff, vol. iv. p. 31.
Note from the original in the possession of Patrick Rose, Esq., late sheriffclerk of Banff.
In 1587, as Abbot and Commendator of the Abbey of Deer, he granted a procuratory for resigning the whole lands, tithes, and other property of the abbey into the king's hands, to be erected into a temporal lordship, to be called the lordship of Altrie, in favour of himself for his lifetime, and after his death to George, Earl Marischal, and his heirs-male and assigns.
In this deed' the Abbot states, by way of preamble, " that the monasticall superstitionn for the quhilk the said Abbay of Deer was of auld erectit and foundit is now be the lawis of this realme all uterlie abolischit sua that na memorie thereof sal be heireftir, and considering that the maist pairt of the lands and rentis doittit to the said Abbay proceidit of auld from the dispositioun of the progenitors and predicessors of the richt nobill and potent Lord George, erle Merschell, and that the propertie of the maist pairt thairof is alreddie sett in few ferme to the said erle and his predicessouris."
It appears that the wife of the Earl Marischal entertained scruples about thus interfering with property which had been dedicated to the church, and she dissuaded her husband from the possession of it, but in vain, on which she had a vision of the consequent ruin of the house. The circumstances are thus related by
a quaint writer of the seventeenth century:
1 Antiquities of the Shires of Aberdeen and Banff, vol. ii. p. 437.
The Commendator seems to have been a lukewarm reformer at first. In 1569 he preferred a request to the General Assembly that he might be relieved from certain payments due by him to the preachers at the Abbey's Churches, to
which he got for answer that "the kirk