By Leah Parker, MAEd, Barclay Genealogy Researcher
The History of the Barclay Family, Part I, records that the son of Rogerius de Berchelai and his wife Rissa, John de Berkeley, accompanied Princess Margaret as she fled from William the Conqueror from England to Scotland in 1069. The story goes that John helped to deliver Margaret safely to Scotland’s King Malcolm III to be his wife. Margaret was the sister of Edgar Atheling and daughter of Edward the Exile, representing a royal house that was a rival to William the Conqueror. By all accounts, King Malcolm adored and admired his bride, Margaret. Both the political climate in England and the seas on which Margaret sailed from England to Scotland were rough and dangerous, and so King Malcolm was grateful to John de Berkeley for delivering Margaret to Scotland safely. It is said that in his gratitude, the king granted John de Berkeley the lands of Towie in Scotland. This story, like many in our Barclay history, is shrouded in the mists of history and legend. Accounts based on more recent research suggest that the true story is much less romantic and does not involve Margaret and King Malcolm. Whatever the story of how Clan Barclay secured the lands of Towie, we do believe that the current structure of the Towie Barclay castle was built in 1593. Another legend tells of Clan Barclay's pillage of a nunnery in the 12th century (#BarclaysBehavingBadly). Thomas the Rhymer, a renowned poet of the day (kind of like a rock star), is said to have proclaimed: "Towie Barclay of the Glen/Happy to the maids/But never to the men," which was interpreted as a curse on the male line. Belief in the curse by Clan Barclay was strong enough that it was given as a reason by Mr. Barclay Maitland for the sale of Towie Barclay Castle in 1753 to the Earl of Findlater, who after "dreeing the weird," (the ''weird'', meaning the curse) and after his son also died, sold it to Gordon's Hospital in Aberdeen in 1792. The castle was bought in the 1970s by musician Marc Ellington and his wife Karen, who restored the castle. The cozy Garden Cottage at Towie Barclay Castle is available to book for holiday and boasts three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room, and a well-appointed kitchen. When my family stayed at the Garden Cottage in June 2019, Marc Ellington was gracious enough to host us on a tour of the castle and regaled us with stories not only of the castle but also of the many treasures displayed in their home. I highly recommend the Garden Cottage at Towie Barclay Castle—beautiful cottage, beautiful castle, beautiful hosts, beautiful country!
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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