Melville of Hallhill




Sir James Melville, 1st of Halhill, was third son of John Melville of Rait and was b. in 1535. At the age of fourteen he was sent to France by Mary of Guise as a page of honour to the young Queen of Scotland and in May 1553 he entered the service of the Constable, under whom he saw considerable military service. At the skirmish of St. Quentin in August 1557, he was wounded and nearly taken prisoner then in 1559, he was sent by Henry II. of France on a special mission to Scotland, which he successfully accomplished. In 1564, having accepted an invitation to return to Scotland, he entered the Queen’s service, who, on 20 July 1564, gave him a pension of 100 Scots for life and was sent by her to England later in the same year on an important mission to Queen Elizabeth. He acquired the lands of Hallhill on the death of his foster-father, Mr. Henry Balnaves of Hallhill, in February 1570/71, was appointed Gentleman of the Queen’s Chamber, and was knighted on the occasion of her coronation on 17 May 1590.[1]

He m. Christine, daughter of David Boswell of Balmutto, (c/m 11 & 12 January 1569[2]), and d. on 13 November 1617, aged eighty-two. He was father of,

  1. Sir James Melville, 2nd of Hallhill, (see below).
  2. Robert Melville, was appointed Minister of Simprim. He m. Catherine Melville, who survived him and was his executor, and d. by August of 1644.[3] He was father of :

2a} John Melville, is named in his father’s Testament and was apprenticed to Robert Aitcheson, Merchant in Edinburgh, on 28 June 1648.[4] He was infeft in an annualrent from the lands of Burntisland in 1655.

2a} Margaret Melville, is named in her father’s Testament in 1654.

  1. Margaret Melville, m. Andrew Balfour, son and heir of Michael Balfour of Montquhanny, (c/m 27 December 1589[5]), and had issue.
  2. Elizabeth Melville, m. John Colville, Commendator of Culross, and had issue.
  3. Christine Melville, m. John Bonar of Lumquhat, (he was widow of Helen, daughter of Robert Arnot of Newton), and had issue.

Sir James Melville, 2nd of Halhill, had a charter from his father for the lands of Pathcondie and Muirfield on 11 October 1583 and to whom he was served heir on 14 April 1618.[6] He also had service as heir to his cousin, Robert, 2nd Lord Melville, in the lands of Wester Kinghorn which were united into the barony of Burntisland on 12 April 1653.[7]

He d. after April 1653 having m. firstly, shortly after 5 September 1612, to Catherine, third daughter of Alexander Colville, Commendator of Culross, (she d. on 10 June 1614[8]), by whom he was father of,

  1. James Melville, 3rd of Halhill, (see below).
  2. Anna Melville, is named with her brother, James, in their mother’s Testament in 1614. She m. firstly, to Robert Pitcairn, fiar of Pitlour, and secondly, to John Moncrieff of Longfargie and Crosshills.[9]

He m. secondly, Catherine, daughter of Sir John Learmonth of Balcomie, (c/m 19 April 1615[10]), and by her he had further issue;

  1. Robert Melville, who dsp his nephew, Mr Gilbert Melville, being served heir to him on 23 July 1714.[11]
  2. John Melville, was apprenticed to John Foulis, Apothecary in Edinburgh, on 23 February 1642.[12]
  3. William Melville, apprenticed to Andrew Balfour, Merchant in Edinburgh, on 13 October 1652.[13]
  4. Katherine Melville,
  5. Elizabeth Melville, m. by December of 1637 to Sir John Scott of Scottstarvit and d. by January 1646 having had issue.

Sir James Melville, 3rd of Halhill and Burntisland, was a son by his father’s first marriage and is named in his mother, Catherine Colville’s Testament in 1614. He had a resignation of the lands of Burntisland from his father which was confirmed under the Great Seal on 6 March 1646 to himself and his heirs-male and had a second charter of that same date to himself and Margaret Farquhar, his spouse jointly for the lands of Easter Collessie, called Halhill with the turret and mill, and the lands of Muirfield, which the King erected into the barony of Halhill.[14] He sold those of Burntisland to General James Wemyss but his remaining estate being burdened by excessive debts, he had the lands of Halhill adjudged from him by George, Lord Melville, in payment of debts due.

He m. on 30 April 1645, to Margaret, second daughter and co-heiress of Sir Robert Farquhar of Mownie,[15] and d. in February 1664, aged 46 years,[16] having had issue,

  1. James Meville, against whom a summons was raised by Adam Scott, Writer in Edinburgh, on 19 November 1670 in which he is styled son to the late Sir James Melville of Burntisland.[17] He and his issue, if any, were extinguished by July 1714.
  2. Robert Melville, bap. at Aberdeen, on 2 November 1651 and dsp.
  3. John Melville, bap. at Aberdeen, on 23 September 1660 and dsp.
  4. Gilbert Melville, bap. at Aberdeen, on 25 May 1662 and was admitted Minister of Arngask and Glendevon. He was served heir to father and his uncle, Robert, in part of the lands of Wester Kinghorn on 23 July 1714[18] and dsp at Aberdeen, in December 1731.[19]
  5. George Melville,
  6. Margaret Melville,
  7. Katherine Melville, m. Thomas Dunbar of Grange.




[1] For further details on his life, see his fascinating “Memoirs of my own Life” which was first published by George Scott of Pitlochie, in 1683.

[2] RD1/

[3] CC15/5/5/182-184.

[4] SRS Register of Edinburgh Apprentices.

[5] RMS 1594-1608. No. 1553.

[6] C22/7/61.

[7] C22/21/133. He is then styled “father’s brother’s son.”

[8] CC20/4/5/490-491.

[9] RS31/12/f.41

[10] GD26/3/535.

[11] Services of Heirs.

[12] SRS Register of Edinburgh Apprentices.

[13] SRS Register of Edinburgh Apprentices.

[14] RMS 1634-1651. Nos. 1627 & 1628.

[15] OPR – Aberdeen.

[16] John Row’s Diary.

[17] GD26/4/866.

[18] Services of Heirs.

[19] CC1/6/13/2728-2729. Alexander Robertson, Merchant in Aberdeen, was executor qua creditor and had to charge against his personal estate for payment of funeral costs.