By Leah Parker, MAEd, Barclay Genealogy Researcher
With so many castles to visit in Scotland, why visit Delgatie Castle? I would suggest there are a few reasons. If you have the good fortune of visiting Towie Barclay Castle, Delgatie is conveniently located just 7.5 miles away. It is a lovely place with rich history, and it has ties to Clan Barclay. Plus, it’s haunted, so need I say more?
Delgatie Castle is the home of the late Captain John Hay of Delgatie, Feudal Baron. Built around 1049 the Castle has largely been in the Hay family for a little more than 650 years. It was taken from the Earl of Buchan after the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 and given to Clan Hay, when Robert the Bruce routed the invading English army. Clan Hay descends from Scoto-Norman knight Guillaume de la Haye, who first appears on the records circa 1160. William Hay (1423-1462) was the First Earl of Erroll and is in the Barclay Family Tree.
William Hay was born in Erroll (now spelled Errol) in Perthshire, the son of Gilbert Hay and Alicia Hay, daughter of William Hay of Yester. His paternal grandmother, Princess Elizabeth Stewart, was the youngest child of Robert II of Scotland and his first wife, Elizabeth Mure. His paternal grandfather Thomas de la Hay was the third Lord High Constable of Scotland. William Hay inherited the title in 1437 after the death of his father Sir William. William Hay, First Earl of Erroll, was the 5X great-grandfather of Colonel David Barclay (1610-1686), first Laird of Urie, through his paternal grandmother.
A further connection ties Clan Barclay to Clan Hay. Anne Drummond Countess of Errol was the widow of John Hay, 12th Earl of Errol, and she counted Robert Barclay Urie II, The Quaker Apologist (1648-1690), as an admired friend. Upon his untimely death, the Countess wrote a letter from another Clan Hay Castle, Slains, to Christian Mollison Barclay, Robert’s widow, to express her condolences. The Countess addressed Christian Barclay as “Much Honoured” and went on to say, “As there was none had a greater esteem of the merit of your worthy husband, when alive than I, so there’s none can value his memory more than I shall always do.” She expressed gratitude for Robert Barclay’s friendship to her family during a difficult time and closed by saying that “…it shall be a very acceptable satisfaction to me, to see any of your family at this place [Slains Castle], for I am affectionately at your service.”
Back to Delgatie Castle… Mary Queen of Scots stayed at Delgatie for three days after the Battle of Corrachie in 1562. Her bedchamber is on view to visitors. Like many castles, it is said that Delgatie is haunted. Soldiers posted at Delgatie Castle during World War II reported seeing a ghostly figure with vivid red hair. Some have supposed that this may be Alexander Hay, but the more popular theory is that the ghost is actually a lady named Rohaise. Taps, knocks, footsteps, and even a female voice humming have been been observed in the Rohaise Room, specially when young men are in the room. The castle's recent history accounts, mostly written by Captain Hay who restored the house in the 1950s, report that the ghost was first seen when a body was found bricked up in a priest hole.
You can tour Delgatie Castle and see Queen Mary's Bower and the Rohaise Room, as well as other treasures, for yourself. During your visit, be sure enjoy lunch or afternoon tea and visit the shop. The property is beautiful and expansive with horses to pet and trails to walk, and you can even fish at Delgatie Lake. You can also stay at Delgatie Castle. My brother and his family stayed in one of the castle apartments on our visit in June 2019, and it was lovely. We highly recommend it! Joan manages the castle and takes reservations for the apartments, and she is a delightful lady.
My name is Leah, and I am the daughter of a Barclay. As an historian and genealogy researcher, I am proud of my Barclay roots and want to preserve and share our stories.
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