The old castle of Midhope, in the barony of Abercorn, in Linlithgowshire, has recently gained a degree of popularity by virtue of featuring in the TV series Outlander as the fictional “Lallybroch” home of the lead character, Jamie Fraser.
The general understanding is that Medhope castle “belonged to the Martin family” in the 15th century, with the evidence for that being an entry in the Acta Dominorum Concilii under the year 1476. That statement is only partially correct.
The lands of Medhope form part of the extensive barony of Abercorn, in Linlithgowshire. Sir Roger Avenel was in possession of Abercorn in the first-half of the 13th century and granted one chalder of wheat annually from his barn at Abercorn to Manuel Priory by charter dated 1219×1243. Leaving an only child, a daughter and heiress, those lands as well as others he possessed, including Eskdale, passed to her husband, Sir Henry de Graham. Their son, Sir Nicholas de Graham, succeeded and died before May of 1306 leaving a son, Sir John de Graham of Dalkeith (born circa 1278) who died on 14 July 1336 leaving issue;
- John de Graham of Abercorn
- Henry de Graham,
- Marjory de Graham, married Sir William More of Abercorn.
- Margaret de Graham, married William Douglas of Lugton.
To John de Graham of Abercorn succeeded his only apparent son, John de Graham, who divided his extensive estate between his aunts and uncles and died without apparent issue. To his uncle Henry de Graham, he reconfirmed those grants made by his grandfather, Sir John de Graham of Abercorn, of the lands of Manerston and Philipston, near Linlithgow, and disponed the barony of Abercorn to Sir William More, husband of his aunt Marjory. Then to Sir William Douglas, husband of his aunt Margaret, he conveyed the lands of Dalkeith which was confirmed by David I on 6 January 1342.
Superiority of the barony of Abercorn having been acquired by Sir William More, it passed with his only daughter and heiress, Christina, to her husband, William Lindsay of the Byres. Their descendant, Patrick, 4thLord Lindsay of the Byres, had infeftment in Abercorn in 1497 and on 2 January 1539-40, John, 5th Lord Lindsay of the Byres, had a confirmation of the barony of Abercorn under the Great Seal which included the lands of “Medope cum turre”. James Lindsay, son and heir apparent of Patrick, 6th Lord Lindsay of the Byres, also had a confirmation, on his father’s resignation, for the family estate which included “Medhop cum fortalicio,” dated 10 January 1587-88, which were reconfirmed to him anew on his succession by novodamus charter under the Great Seal on 25 June 1591. John, 8th Lord Lindsay of the Byres, had a similar confirmation which included “Medhop cum fortalicio” on 28 January 1603, which he disponed along with his barony of Abercorn to James Hamilton, Master of Paisley, who had them confirmed to himself on 5 April of that same year.
“Meidhop, with the tower” was retained by the Hamilton, Earls of Abercorn, until July 1650, when they sold the barony of Abercorn (also comprising Medhope with the tower) to George, Earl of Winton, and his son, Alexander, Viscount of Kingston. From their hands it passed to Walter Seton, son of Alexander Seton of Graden by Disposition dated 10 December 1661 (confirmed under the Great Seal on 17 January 1662) who sold it to George Livingston, 3rd Earl of Linlithgow, in 1664. It was purchased by the John Hope of Hopeton in 1678 whose descendants retain possession to this day.
The first appearance of Medhope as a distinct territory is on 20 July 1438 when Henry de Livingston, “lord of Manerstoun”, and his son, Henry, and John Martyn, “lord of Medhop” took instruments narrating the agreement they had made in relation to the “division of the lands of Manerstoun and Westbyris ; which lands for a short time past have by consent of both parties, been divided into two equal divisions, according as the metes and marches more fully show. The said Henry of Levyngstoun accepted and chose as his principal messuage the fortalice of Manerstoun with a certain space divided and assigned to the same, and in the same way the said John Martyn chose Medop as his principal messuage with a certain space likewise. And for an equal division of the said lands to be made betwixt them, the said parties by mutual consent chose two lots made of wood, and marked by each party. These lots were with consent of parties delivered to Thomas West, who upon the high altar of the parish church of Abercorn divided them into two parts, and so by equal lot the south part of the lands of Westbyris fell to the said Henry, and the north part to the said John : and also by virtue of his lot the south part of the lands of Manerstoun fell to the said John, and the north part to the said Henry, reserving to each party the respective messuages of Manerston and Medop.”
Although not specifically named within the grant to Henry de Graham, it is reasonable to conclude that Medhope originally formed part of the lands of Manerston and Philipston possessed by that person and all of those lands being subsequently divided into two halves implies that the Livingstons and the Martins possession was by virtue of succession via two heirs female, descended in some manner from that Henry.
John Martin of Medhope was in possession of one-half of the lands of Medhope, Manerston and Westbyres on 20 July 1438. He was alive on 28 May 1459 but dead by March 1478, and was succeeded by his son;
John Martin of Medhope who, as heir apparent to his father, is so-styled when witness to a Sasine of 28 May 1459. He had succeeded to half of Medhope and Manerston by 13 March 1478, when he and Henry Livingston, brother and heir to John Livingston of Manerston, reconfirmed the agreement of 20 July 1438. He died in 1482/83 and was succeeded by his eldest son;
Andrew Martin of Medhope, who survived his father only a matter of months and left issue, an only daughter;
Elizabeth Martin of Medhope, who, being in her minority at her succession, had her ward and marriage gifted to Henry Livingston of Manerston on 27 July 1483. She married by 1501, to Cuthbert Hume, younger of Fastcastle, and as “Lady of Medhope”, she disponed her half part of the lands of Blyth to Janet Paterson, widow of Sir Alexander Lauder of Blycht on 31 October 1526, then sold her half of Medhope and Manerston with the mill of Abercorn to James Hamilton of Finnart by precept dated 24 July 1537.
Henry Livingston, “lord of Manerstoun”, was in possession of half of the lands of Manerstoun and Philipston by July 1438 and that he and his immediate descendants also possessed one half of those of Medhope is confirmed by Instruments taken on 20 February 1477/78 by Ellen, widow of John Livingstone, son of John Livingston of Manerston, by which she resigned to Henry Livingston her terce of the lands of Manerstoun, Medhope while retaining those rights to Philipston. On 13th March of the following month that Henry Livingston also took instruments narrating that he had pursued a brieve of inquest issued by the crown for his infeftment in the half parts of the lands of Manerstoun, Medhop and Philipstoun as heir to his late brother, John, and on 4th April of that same year, he was infeft in those lands upon precept of clare constat from the superior, John, Lord Lindsay of the Byres. To that Henry succeeded his son, James, who had Sasine, upon precept by David, Lord Lindsay of the Byres, for the lands of Philipston and half of Medhope as heir to his late father, on 21 October 1485. He was succeeded by his nephew, John Livingston, who had Sasine upon precept, on 23 March 1513/14, for the half part of Manerston with the tower, fortalice and manor there, half of Medhope, and half of the mill of Abercorn. He disponed his half of Medhope to Sir James Hamilton in 1527 and on 12 November 1529, he entered into an Indenture with Alexander, Lord Livingston, that in return for surrendering the remainder of his lands, he would be maintained in his household with one boy and two horses.
Sir James Hamilton of Finnart acquired both halves of Medhope, the Livingston half in 1527 and the Martin half of Medhope and Manerston with the mill of Abercorn from Elizabeth Martin of Medhope by precept dated 24 July 1537. Upon securing the latter, he had a confirmation for all and whole the lands Medhope “cum turre, fortalicio” and Manerston from the superior, John, Lord Lindsay of the Byres, on 2 January 1538/39. Into those lands Sir James installed his kinsman, Andrew Hamilton of Medhope, who is so-styled in a gift to him under the Privy Seal of the escheat goods of William MacMorane of Glaspen and Cuthbert Tailor of Strangcleuch dated 19 February 1543-44. Andrew Hamilton had quit those lands some time after 1554 and before 1561, when Charles and Alexander Drummond granted reversion of Medhope to Sir James who, in turn, granted them a nineteen year lease.
It is generally presumed that Alexander Drummond, brother to Sir Robert Drummond of Carnock, was the first of his surname to acquire rights to Medhope and the “tower” but that is not correct. Instead, his brother Charles Drummond, a prominent Burgess and sometime Provost of Linlithgow, first secured rights from Sir James Hamilton of Finnart before 1561, and in which year he was infeft in the liferent and his brother Alexander in the fee. Charles and Alexander acquired a further 1/8 of Medhope from James Hamilton of Kincavil by charter of 14 July 1562 and on 9 February 1564/65, Alexander Drummond of Medhope granted Sasine to his wife, Margaret Bruce, for his three-quarter part of the lands of Medhope. Alexander was succeeded by his eldest son, Sir Alexander Drummond of Medhope, who died on 15 July 1619 leaving an eldest son, Alexander, and several other sons all in their minority. Upon that son Alexander’s resignation, the superior, James Hamilton, Earl of Abercorn, confirmed Medhope to Drummond’s uncle, Sir Robert Drummond, by charter dated 28 November 1623. Sir Robert’s grandson and namesake, Sir Robert Drummond of Medhope, retained possession until Hope of Hopeton’s purchase of Medhope, when their association ended.
Although a messuage is referred to on John Martin’s half of Medhope in 1438, it is evident that that structure was not in any way fortified. Evidence of that is contained within that same writ when his neighbour Henry of Levyngstoun “accepted and chose as his principal messuage the fortalice of Manerstoun.” On the sale of her half of Medhope by Elizabeth Martin in July 1537, the precept contains no mention of a fortified dwelling, however, Sir James Hamilton of Finnart’s confirmation of the whole extent of Medhope of January 1538, makes specific reference to the “turre” and “fortalice” there. That considered, the half of Medhope upon which the structure was situated can only have been that previously possessed by the Livingstons of Manerston. Further, that no such structure was extant in 1529, the date of its construction can be narrowed down to the decade or so between that year and 2 January 1538/39, which coincides with the Livingstone sale and Sir James Hamilton’s acquisition of their half but whether erected by Sir James Hamilton or Lord Lindsay of the Byres is not known.
Although expert opinion dates the earliest parts of the structure to the “late 16th century”, evidence proves it to have existed by at least January 1538-39. The existence of a lintel bearing the date 1582 and the initials AD MB, suggests that Alexander Drummond of Medhope undertook remodelling work about that year. Having been married by February 1564-65, such a carving cannot have been in commemoration of their marriage and such alterations at that time must have brought about those architectural features used by modern experts to date the structure.
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