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!
4/16/2020 12:04:25 pm
The Towie castle, doesn’t most if not all branches of the Barclay Clan flow from the Towie line since this is the one created by our Norman ancestor?
4/16/2020 06:08:00 pm
According to A History of the Barclay Family, Parts I, II, and III, the De Bechelai/de Berkeley family of Gloucestershire, England divided into four branches. (See the Clan Barclay Lines chart: https://www.clanbarclayinternational.org/clan-barclay-lines.html.) The Towie line was the first and the one with which Clan Barclay is most familiar. Next was the line that retained Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire, England. This line grew through Maurice Fitzharding, who married Alice de Berkeley, and males of their line became Earls of Berkeley. Also were the Dursley and Cubberly lines, which became extinct. Getting back to the Towie line, the Scottish Barclay lines branched off from this one. So on the one hand, we can say that descendants of Scottish Barclays can trace their lineage back to the Towie line and, therefore, the Towie Barclay Castle. On the other hand, we must understand that the deep history of Towie Barclay Castle is bathed in both fact and legend. That being said, I do think people of Barclay heritage can proudly claim Towie Barclay as the ancestral homeland for our clan. Also, it may be noted that according to A History of the Barclay Family, Part II (p 8), “The first documentary evidence of the presence of the Barclays in Scotland is a charter dated 1140, which gives the name of Richard de Berkeley, Dominus de Ardrossan, as witness to a grant by Richard de Moreville of the Cuninghame. The existence of this charter supports the Barclay tradition, as quoted by Matthew Lumsden, namely that John de Berchlai came to Scotland from Gloucestershire about year 1069 , and had ‘many sons.’ He tells us that the eldest son married the heiress of Gartley and that the second son succeeded his father in the estates of Towie. …We may therefore presume that Richard de Berkeley, Dominus de Ardrossan, was a younger son of John and brother to Gartley and Towie.” For more information about Ardrossan, see this link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ardrossan_Castle.
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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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