Nisbet of Newtonlees


That William Nisbet, portioner of Newtonlees, was a younger son of Nisbet of that Ilk appears to have become somewhat of a generally accepted fact the basis for which is said to be an entry at Pitcairn Criminal Trials, II, pp.562-563. Consulting that source we find the following:



It is to be noted that although William Nisbet in Newtonlees and Philip Nisbet of that Ilk are both named, the entry makes no mention of any relationship between the two and therefore as an item of evidence to prove the existence of a relationship, it must be discounted.

William Nisbet acquired a one-quarter part of the lands of Newtonlees, in the constabulary of Haddington, which were confirmed to him under the Great Seal on 18 March 1581/82 [Great Seal register C2/35/623] and for which he had Sasine on 22 May 1582 [Lochend Inventory]. He married firstly, Janet Kellie, daughter of John Kellie, and sister of Mr. William Kellie, a respectable Notary Public in Dunbar. She predeceased her husband, and died without issue on 6 April 1594 [NRS CC8/8/27/80-82. By the terms of her Will she made bequests to her brothers George, Mr. John and Mr. James, and also to her niece, Christine Kellie, daughter of her brother, Mr. William].

William Nisbet subsequently married secondly, his sister-in-law, Agnes Kellie by whom he had issue, an only child, Jean, and died on 23 March 1608, having made out his Will the previous day. By its the terms he appointed his wife, Agnes Kellie, his executor, and nominated Sir George Home of Broxmounth, Philip Nisbet of that Ilk, James Nisbet, Merchant Burgess of Edinburgh and Mr. William Kellie, to be curators to his daughter. He also requested that his “brother’s son” William Nisbet, continue to cultivate and “manure” Newtonlees and also named another “brother’s son” Mr. George Nisbet, to be an executor [CC8/8/47/169-174].

Following his death William’s only child, his daughter Jean, had special service as heir to him in his quarter part of Newtonlees on 23 May 1609 [NRS C22/4/234] and was infeft in those lands by Sasine taken on 31st of that same month [Lochend Inventory]. She married, 27 April 1609, Sir James Baillie of Lochend [Edinburgh OPR] with whose consent, on 1 May 1613, she disponed those lands to her step-father, Alexander Nisbet, portioner of Newtonlees [NRS Great Seal register C2/47/88].

William  widow, Agnes Kellie, married secondly, to Alexander Nisbet, portioner of Newtonlees. She also survived him and at his death, which occurred on 25 March 1615 [CC8/8/49/65-67] she was executor to him. They had issue;

  1. a son, James who, being under age at his father’s death, had his uncle Thomas Nisbet, appointed tutor-at-law to him on 18 May 1615 [NRS C22/6/44]. He died without issue before January 1634, when his sister had service as heir to him.
  2. and daughter Elizabeth who succeeded her brother James in their father’s portions of the lands of Newtonlees in 1634. She married William Butter, clerk of Taxation and younger son of Butter of Gormack, in Perthshire, with whose consent she disposed Newtonlees to Sir James Baillie of Lochend by Disposition dated 8 April 1634 [Lochend Inventory].

On the matter of William Nisbet’s parentage and immediate ancestry, no evidence has yet been located to prove those points, nor is there evidence to prove the identity of the brother/s and father/s of his two nephews, William and Mr. George,* however, circumstantial evidence suggests that Alexander Nisbet, portioner of Newtonlees, was a brother of Philip Nisbet of that Ilk. As research continues, further evidence to clarify and prove the various points above will undoubtedly come to hand and will allow for the inclusion of this information in a subsequent edition of volume 7 of the Red Book.

For entries covering the families of Nisbet of that Ilk, Nisbet of Dalyell, Nisbet of Dean and Nisbet of Direlton, see Volume 7, which is now available in a fourth edition.



 * The Mr George Nisbet in question would appear to be identical with the person of that name who was schoolmaster at Musselburgh for a time and acquired the lands of Oswaldene. He was twice married, firstly, to Janet Johnston, then, secondly, to Eupham Douglas [RS24/2/f.230]. He had issue which included sons George, James and John [RS24/9/f.366].





Gordon MacGregor

29 January 2023