The Family of Thomas McKenzie, forester in Rinancoillach (Reinakyllich), Glen Girnaig


The ruins of Rinancoillach (Reinakyllich) in Glen Girnaig, viewed from Craig nan Yailey

In 1618 Rinageullach (Rinancoillach) was described as the shealing of the Strathgroy tenants, and in 1658, this land belonged to Strathgroy and the Laird of Lude. However by 1669 it had been acquired by John Murray, 1st Duke of Atholl, who appointed Thomas McKenzie as forester of Ben Vuirick (Ben Vuroch). The origins of Thomas McKenzie are unrecorded, but occupation, locality and forenames used in subsequent generations suggest that he was related to the McKenzies who were foresters at Dalmore (the present day estate of Marr Lodge). These two places seem far apart, but by mountain track the distance is only 18 miles, and it is recorded that people from Rinancoillach and Dalmore visited each other and traded together.

In 1696 there was a boundary dispute between Lude and the Duke of Atholl. Thomas McKenzie in Rynakylich was involved in veryifying the boundaries, and fixing March Stones for Rilian-beg, Rilian-more and Rynakylich. This seems to imply that Rilian-beg, Rilian-more were occupied, but perhaps just as summer sheilings. Eight years later, in 1704, Thomas McKenzie was accused of poor management of the woodland reserved for hunting, and 'feathering his own pocket'.

Thomas McKenzie, forester, ruins that part committed to him by taking in all the old (adult) horses belonging to husbandmen (farmers) and chapmen (tradesmen) in the county of Atholl. Likewise, what yeld (stray) beasts he caught, for grassing at 40 pennies per piece of grass meall.

Thomas McKenzie had a tack (lease) for the lands of Rienancollich and Rieniand in 1714 for 1,000 merks with an annual payment of 53 6s 8d Scots and two wedders. This may have just been an offer as, in 1715, there is a similar tack for 1,200 merks with an annual payment of 13 6s 8d Scots and two wedders. The sum of 1,200 merks would have been an enormous payment for a lease, and it is more likely that this sum was being lent to the Duke using Rienancollich and Rieniand as collateral (wadsett). The transaction seems to have taken place as 6 Scots was added, being the payment to be freed of thirlage to the Mill of Blair, meaning that Thomas McKenzie could have his grain ground at a mill of his chosing, rather than being tied to the Mill at Blair. Further evidence for the wadsett comes from a payment in 1721 of 40 Scots received from the Duke of Atholl as rent (interest) on 1,200 merks.

Although Thomas McKenzie is named on the tack it is uncertain whether this is the original forester, or a son of the same name. In October 1722 The Session was informed that Jannet Stewart daughter of Archibald Stewart in Kincraigie was with child to Thomas McKenzie in Rinancoillach. If the original forester had been appointed in 1669, at the immature age of 20, he would now be 73. This would suggest that these tacks were in favour of a Thomas McKenzie junior. The Session Minutes mention that Thomas was the father of a grown-up son, Donald McKenzie, and this must be the same one who had an affair with Janet Graheme. The proceedings also mention that John, son of Dalmore, visited Rinancoillach at this time.

The annual rent (interest) paid by the Duke of Atholl in 1724 is confusing - 40 Scots to Thomas McKenzie, 20 Scots to Beatrix McKenzie. The identity of Beatrix McKenzie is unclear, but it may be Beatrix Robertson who is mentioned later. In the following year, 1725, there is a note that Rinakyloch and Rieniand, west of the wood of Killicrankie had a life tack granted by John, Duke of Atholl and dated 1st October 1719, with a yearly payment of 100 merks and six wedders. It was also noted that the former tack for 1,200 merks was still resting with him and that the interest on the loan offset some of this annual payment.

In 1729 a new tack was given by the Duke of Atholl to Beatrix Robertson, widow of the late Alexander McKenzie, son of Thomas McKenzie in Rienaceallach, for half of Rienaceallach and Rieniand, currently held by her father-in-law. This seems to indicate that Thomas McKenzie's health was failing and if he died the life tack on Rinancoillach would terminate. Normally a son would take up his father's tack, but Alexander had died unexpectedly leaving a widow with several childen still too young to take out the tack in their own right. So Beatrix had taken out the tack on their behalf.

Thomas McKenzie seems to have died in 1729 as the Duke redeemed the wadsett in that year, paying 120 Scots to Beatrix Robertson and a similar sum to Elspeth McKenzie, the widow of David McKenzie who had farmed Rieniand. So the repayment seems to have been split equally between Rinancoillach and Rieniand rather than between Thomas's children as neither Donald McKenzie nor his sister were mentioned. The name of Donald's sister is unknown and the only reference to her comes from the Session minutes.


(Generation 1) The Family of Thomas McKenzie, forester at Rinancoillach

Name Born Married Date Residence Died
David c1680 Elspeth McKenzie c1720 Rieniand h. 1729
w. after 1735
Alexander c1682 Beatrix Robertson . Rinancoillach h. c1724
w. after 1735
Donald c1685 Susan McGregor,
alias Murray
18 Aug 1736 Rinancoillach h. Sep 1737
w. after 1738
female . . . Rinancoillach d.

In September 1718 Donald McKenzie in Rinancoillach and Katharine Scot in Cnappaig, Brae of Lude, were accused of fornication and instructed to appear before the Session. Both ignored the summons, which probably wasn't surprising as the newly arrived minister, the Reverend Dr John Hamilton, had already baptised the child, which was named Norman, on 15th August 1718. However the minister did not give up.

In March 1719 they were again summoned to appear before the Session, but neither appeared and it was reported that Katharine Scot had gone to Moulin parish to nurse a child at Lettoch. By September 1719 the Session were informed that Donald McKenzie in Rinancoillach and Katharine Scot were back together again. Even so, it was not until May 1720 that Donald McKenzie in Rinancoillach appeared before the congregation, repentant for his sins. This change in attitude was probably prompted by Jannet Graheme being declared 'a scandalous person' by the Session in April 1720.

On 1st May 1720 Jannet Graheme was examined by the Session and said that she did not know if she was with child or not, claiming that Donald McKenzie in Rinancoillach 'committed guilt' with her, between Christmas and Yule, at Rinancoillach in his father's house in the night time. When Donald was summoned to answer this charge, he claimed that any child was not his. Jannet then claimed that the guilt took place when she was in service in his father's house and said that Elspeth McKenzie, spouse to David McKenzie in Rinancoillach and John Stewart, servant in Urchil-beg had seen 'ill appearance' between them.

John Stewart, about 60 years of age and married said that no 'ill appearance' had been seen or heard by him. Donald then called upon Christian McKenzie, his father's hired woman, as a witness. Christian McKenzie, unmarried about 20 years of age, swore that Donald went to bed at his father's house and she never saw any 'ill appearance'. She also said that Jannet had alleged that Donald and a little boy went to the south side of the town(ship) to tend to some cattle and Jannet Graheme went also. When questioned as to whether it was during the night or the daytime that Donald McKenzie was guilty with her, Jannet replied that it occurred in the daytime in the open fields beside the bridge of Sinigaig, and that she had provaricated as she thought that the Session might believe that Donald had not forced her.

The Session were still trying to get a consistant account of what had happened from Jannet Graheme. By now she was saying that Donald had found her in the barn all alone when his sister went to the mill. Also at the furtherest advances of a night, Margaret Forbes came upon them in his father's house in the very act of uncleanness, and that Margaret set Donald's hair aflame with a light. Duncan McIntosh was called as a witness but delined to appear before the Session. When Donald McKenzie in Rinancoillach, alleged to be trilapse with Janet Graheme in Easter Tulloch, did not appear before the Session, the Beadle was appointed (ordered) to arrest his affects into the hands of Donald Gray and Mr Mungo Campbell.

This action had the desired effect as, in July, Donald McKenzie in Rinancoillach appeared before the Session and was sharply rebuked in hazard to be excommunicated for his contrary and stubbornness, and was ordered to appear before the Presbytery in Dunkeld. In August Donald McKenzie and Janet Graheme were exhorted to confess their guilt and David McKenzie in Rinancoillach was summoned again. Donald Gray, in whose hands Donald McKenzie's effects were arrested, gave up the Minister's receipt of the 25th, saying that his son was debtor to Donald McKenzie but he was not concerned (involved).

The Session met in early September but David McKenzie did not appear before them to be questioned. Janet Graheme with her child in her arms appeared, but Donald McKenzie again denied being its father. At this point Janet revealed that the relationship had been long-running, alleging that David McKenzie came and found Donald McKenzie in the very act of fornication, in the barn, 7 years ago. David McKenzie was summoned by the Session and eventually appeared before them.

David McKenzie about 40 years, a married man, claimed that he never saw Donald McKenzie and Janet Graheme 6 or 7 years ago, in the barn, or at anytime after or before. He had not heard if they were scandalous, but heard Donald and John Stewart (previously mentioned) say that they could not be quit of her, and that he saw her come out of the barn weeping after they had laid upon her such sayings. John Stewart in Breakach (previously servant in Urchil-beg) was summoned to give evidence, but nothing came of it.

In all honesty it would seem that the Session was less interested in the welfare of the child, and more interested in proving Donald's guilt so that he could be fined. The last entry in the Session Minutes relating to this matter (11th February 1722) says that "the Treasurer was appointed to pursue the son of Donald Gray in whose hands an arrestment was laid, for it to be forthcoming". The fate of Janet Grahame and her child is unknown.

After producing two illegitimate children Donald McKenzie of Rinancoillach married Susan McGregor, alias Murray, 18th August 1736. This is before the Blair Atholl parish marriages, but fortunately the event was recorded in the Dull parish OPR.

Dull, 18th August 1736
Donald McKenzie in the parish of Blair and Susan McGregor in this parish were married. John Stewart of Foss and Malcolm McGregor, witnesses

Having John Stewart of Foss as a witness indicates that the McKenzies were considered to be of some social standing. Nothing is known about Susan McGregor, alias Murray.

Donald and Susan had a son baptised 1st September 1737 which they named Kenneth, but within days Donald was dead, as shown by the 1738 Testament:

The Testament dative and Inventory of the sums of money and debts which pertained to umquhile (deceased) Donald MacKenzie in Rinancoillach (at) the time of his decease which was in the month of September last by past. Faithfully made and given up by Thomas McKenzie, son of umquhile David McKenzie in Rinancoillach, nephew to the deceased and executor dative. Dative deceased to him for the behalf Kenneth McKenzie, only lawful child of the defunct, by the Commissariot of Dunkeld.

Firstly there is given up, pertaining and belonging to the said defunct, time foresaid of his decease, the goods and gear undersyn valued and estimated as follows: viz. Six piece of horse, young and old, priced in whole to one hundred and forty nine pounds, six shillings and eight pennies. Nine cows, young and old, estimated in whole to one hundred and thirteen pounds, six shillings and eight pennies. Forty six head of sheep, young and old, estimated in whole to one hundred and ten pounds, eight shillings. The whole household furniture, labouring instruments and body abulrieaments (?) estimated in whole to fifty pounds. Twelve bolls corn and straw at six pounds a boll and seventy two pounds. A small quantity of hay estimated at ten pounds, six shillings and eight pennies. Eighty four pounds Scots lying by the defunct at his death. A third of all which the relict (widow) has a right to.

Follows: debts resting to the defunct: Firstly, by John Stewart of Urrard, younger, the sum of two hundred and sixty pounds ... with rents (interest) and neccessary charges due by accepted bill. By the deceased Alexander Robertson in Faskally the sum of two hundred merks with rents and legal expenses due by bond. By Thomas McKenzie in Rinancoillach, as representing the deceased Thomas McKenzie, his grandfather, one hundred pounds Scots which the defunct advanced and paid on the said Thomas McKenzie elder his account(?). To Patrick McGlashan in Blair Mains(?) fifteen pounds all Scots money as the price of a cow also resting by the said Thomas McKenzie of Rinancoillach as representing his said grandfather.

This testament was confirmed at Dunkeld the 15th November 1738 by Thomas Bisset, Commissary, and John McKenzie of Reinard became bond cautioner ..... for the Executor and he became bound for his relief(?)


(Generation 2) The Family of Donald McKenzie in Rinancoillach

Name Born Married Date Residence Died
15 Aug 1718 Katherine Robertson 19 Feb 1761 Levadge h.
1719 . . . d.
Kenneth 1 Sep 1737 died in infancy . Rinancoillach d. by 1748


Very little is known about Norman McKenzie's early life. He was probably brought up by his mother in Cnappaig but by 19th February 1761, when he married Katherine Robertson from Breakach, he was living at Levadge. Most likely he was working as a farm labourer for his cousin, Thomas McKenzie in Levadge, who was about the same age as himself.

After he married he moved to Wester Monzie where his first two children were born, but by August 1771 he was back at Levadge. This is shown by the baptismal record of his third child, and also through a bill mentioned in Thomas McKenzie's testament of 1775.

In payment by James Walker, merchant in Perth, of 4 9s stirling contained in a bill dated 7th August 1771, payable 1st November 1772, drawn by the said James Walker upon and accepted by the said Thomas McKenzie and Norman McKenzie in Levadge-more conly(?) and sealy(?).

(Generation 3) The Family of Norman McKenzie and Katherine Robertson in Wester Monzie and Levadge

Name Born Married Date Residence Died
James 7 Aug 1762 . . Wester Monzie d.
Donald 13 Jan 1769 . . Wester Monzie d.
Catherine 14 Aug 1771 . . Levadge d.


Kenneth McKenzie, Donald's lawful son in Rinancoillach

The testament of 1748 shows that the child Kenneth died in infancy during the '45 rebellion, or shortly afterwards, leaving all his worldy possessions to his cousin Thomas McKenzie in Rinancoillach, who was his nearest of kin. The Inventory says:

Kenneth McKenzie. The Testament dative and Inventory of the debts and sums of money which pertained and was resting to the deceased Kenneth McKenzie, lawful son of the deceased Donald McKenzie in Rienakeillach (at) the time of his decease which was in the month of (blank) 174( ). Truely made and given up by Thomas McKenzie in Rienakeilloch, executor dative, nearest in kin decerned to the said defunct by the Commissariot of Dunkeld upon the day and date of these present as the decreet dative following on an edict duly executed and endorsed in itself more fully.

Firstly, there is given up, resting to the said defunct, the time foresaid of his decease, the sum of three hundred merks Scots principal contained in a Bill guaranteed by Mr George MacKenzie, brother to Dalmore and Factor to the Earl of Aboyne, to the said defunct at least to (blank) for his use and behoof dated the (blank) day of (blank) 1737 or thereby. Item, the annual the rent (interest) thereof, since the same fell due.

This testament was confirmed at Dunkeld the 24th day of November 1748 by James Bisset, commissary, and James McKenzie in Rinancoillach became cautioner for the executor.

So it would appear that Thomas McKenzie of Rinancoillach 'banked' Kenneth McKenzie's inheritance in 1737, with George McKenzie who was a writer (lawyer) in Edinburgh and the brother of Donald McKenzie of Dalmore. There is a further testament for Donald McKenzie, Kenneth's father, dated 1750.

This 1750 testament is basically a codicil to the 1738 testament as a sum of thirty three pounds Scots, contained in a bill granted by Andrew Drummond then of Drumaquhance, previously of Blacklaw had been payable at Martinmass 1713 to the deceased Donald MacKenzie in Rinancoillach. It carried five pounds Scots of penalty named through failure to pay and interest as written down in the Commissary Court Book of Dunkeld. However Letters of Horning had been issued against Andrew Drummond (he was publicly denounced as a person who had not paid his debts), and consequently the sums of money, interest and penalty had been cancelled out from the 1738 testament of the deceased Donald MacKenzie. The outstanding debt was now to be pursued with John MacKenzie in Rinancoillach as cautioner, and Thomas McKenzie of Rinancoillach as the beneficiary.

It would seem that there had been a problem redeeming the 200 merks Scots which had been lent to Alexander Robertson of Faskally and itemised in Donald McKenzie's testament of 1738.

The Testament dative and Inventory of the debts and sums of money which was resting to the umquhile Kenneth McKenzie, lawful son procreated betwixt the now deceased Donald McKenzie in Rinancoillach in the Parish of Blair Athole and Susan Murray his spouse. The time of his deceased which was in the month of (blank) 17(blank) freely made and given up by Thomas McKenzie in Levadge-more executor dative who (is) nearest in kin discerned to the said defunct by the Commissary of Dunkeld upon the day and date of these ...... as the direct dative following upon an edict duly executed and endorsed in itself more fully ......

Firstly, there is given up, resting to the said umquhile Kenneth McKenzie, the sum of two hundred merks Scots principal said to be contained in a bond granted by the now deceased Alexander Robertson of Faskally to the said Donald MacKenzie bearing a penalty and which bond is fallen by or lost and to which the said Kenneth McKenzie had right, being the only child of the said Donald McKenzie. Item the whole rent (interest) resting thereon.

This testament was confirmed at Dunkeld, the fourteenth day of January 1755 before James Bisset, Commissary of Dunkeld, and Malcolm Forbes in Clunie-more became cautioner for the executor.


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