The genealogy of the 16th century family of Edmonstone of Duntreath continually niggled away at me as, chronologically, what the evidence appeared to say didn't quite fit as it should. I was always of the opinion that something had to be amiss, such as an extra generation, but I could never pinpoint exactly what it was. Recently, when time permitted I looked over old copies of the Duntreath Inventory of writs for the period 1500-1600 and all appeared to be as it should be. Each generation was accounted for, however out of kilter it may seem. Browsing through the family's own published history in "Genealogical Account of the Family of Edmonstone of Duntreath" by Sir Archibald Edmonstone of Duntreath, Baronet, and published privately in 1875, the comment below on p. 39 caught my attention as it had a ring of familiarity to it:



Searching old notes I'd made on the family from out with the Duntreath papers, I happened upon the two services of Sir James Edmonstone of Duntreath (died about 1618). The first of these was expede on 29 July 1614 and is in favour of Sir James as heir to his "avus" [grandfather] Archibald Edmonstone of Duntreath, in the lands of Cambuswallace. The second is dated 21 April 1615, and is also in favour of Sir James as heir to his father, William Edmonston of Duntreath, in the lands of Easter Glenboig and the officer Coroner of the sheriffdom of Stirling. It became immediately apparent that the grandfather, Archibald, had been omitted entirely. With his insertion into the genealogy those "niggling" anomalous factors are resolved and the wider context makes much more sense.

The question as to why he has hitherto not been included is a curious one. The service of Sir James to him confirms that Archibald's death had occurred in June 1544, that being the precise month and year in which the feud which had existed between the Edmonstones and James Stewart of Beith over the right to the office of keeper of Doune Castle erupted into open conflict and during which Archibald's brother James and his sons William, Archibald and James killed Stewart at Dunblane on Whitsunday of that year. All considered, it is entirely probable that Archibald, succeeding his father only a matter of months if not weeks, had also been a victim of that feud and such an exceptionally shortened tenure as Laird resulted in very few items of evidence involving him ever being produced.

The significant issue that paucity of evidence has had for the researcher is that William Edmonstone of Duntreath, Archibald's father, and Archibald's eldest son and successor, also William Edmonstone of Duntreath, have been conflated into the one person thereby evidence citing relationships to a "William Edmonstone of Duntreath" have been considered as they relate to that single conflated person instead of, rightly, to the namesake grandfather and grandson. Archibald's inclusion as Laird also reconciles the chronological issues surrounding the legitimation of James Edmonstone "natural son to the late Archibald Edmonstone of Duntreath" in 1553, when the only previous Laird of Duntreath of that forename had died by 1503 at the latest. It also has the effect of proving William Edmonstone of Duntreath, the grandfather died before June 1544 and was not twice married, but instead, his only wife was Agnes Stewart of Lennox with whom he is named in March 1518/19. Also that it was his grandson and heir, William Edmonstone of Duntreath, who married who Margaret Campbell of Lawers about 1550, not, as has previously been accepted, that William was husband to both and died in August 1577.

C22/6/21. Service of Sir James Edmonstone to his grandfather, Archibald.


C22/6/52. Service of Sir James Edmonstone to his father, William.



Gordon MacGregor