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Clan Blackadder

Clan Blackadder is a Scottish family or kin-group who do not have a recognised chief and are therefore considered an armigerous clan. They are traditionally associated with the Borders region.


Blackadder is a territorial name from the lands of Blackadder on the river of that name in Berwickshire.<ref>George Way of Plean and Romilly Squire, Scottish Clan and Family Encyclopedia, 362</ref> 'Adder' is from the old English word 'awedur', meaning 'running water' or 'stream'. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 362</ref>

Feud with Home Family

The family became embroiled in the constant Borders feuds and extended their lands by grants from James II, bestowed as a reward for repelling English raids with great ferocity. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 362</ref> The Borders holdings of Blackadder of that Ilk were taken into the family of Home by the marriage of Beatrix and her younger sister, the only heirs of their father Robert, to younger sons of Home of Wedderburn in 1518. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 362</ref>

According to Anderson, this was achieved in the following manner: 'Andrew Blackadder followed the standard of Douglas at Flodden in 1513 and was slain along with two hundred gentlemen of that name on that disastrous field leaving a widow and two daughters, Beatrix and Margaret, who at the time were mere children. From the unprotected state of Robert's daughters, the Homes of Wedderburn formed a design of seizing the lands of Blackadder. They began by cutting off all within their reach whose affinity was dreaded as an hereditary obstacle.

The Home family married the Blackadder daughters by force. Their possession of the estates was challenged by a cousin, Sir John Blackadder, who held the lands of Tulliallan. Sir John sought assistance from Parliament but, as was so often the case at that time, the matter was ultimately resolved by steel. Sir John Blackadder was beheaded in March 1531 for the murder of the Abbot of Culross in a dispute over land.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 363</ref>

He was succeeded at Tulliallan by his brother Patrick, who renewed a dispute against the Homes for the Blackadder family lands around Allanton in Berwickshire. Patrick was murdered in an ambush near Edinburgh, where he was to meet the Homes to try to resolve their differences. Following this the Blackadders made no further attempts to recover their ancestral estates. William Blackadder was among the supporters of Mary, Queen of Scots at the Battle of Carberry Hill (15 June 1567). He was arrested soon after and hanged in June, and his brother was hanged in September.



The Blackadders thereafter relinquished their claim to the Borders lands, and Sir John Home was created Baronet of Blackadder in 1671. They continued to hold the estate and Castle of Tulliallan, and the family prospered. They acquired further lands in Clackmannanshire and Perthshire by successful marriages into the families of Bruce and Oliphant. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 363</ref>

The last Blackadder to own Tulliallan was Sir John, born in 1596 and on 18 July 1626 created a knight baronet of Nova Scotia by King Charles I of England. His estate, with lime works, salt pans and other enterprises, yielded an income of 36,000 merks annually, but this was not enough to satisfy Sir John's expensive habits and he ran up debts far beyond his ability to pay.

When his effects were seized he fled to the continent, and in 1642 seems to have been in the French service. He died in America in 1651. Sir John's wife, Elizabeth Graham, was the daughter of the Earl of Menteith. She had an annuity of 360 merks, and lived at Tulliallan until 1662. His son, Alexander, could not free the estate from the burden of debts that his father had contracted. The Court of Session ordered a judicial sale. In 1700 the estate was purchased by Colonel John Erskine, son of David Erskine, 4th Lord Cardross.

The Presbyterian minister John Blackadder (1622-1685) was a member of this family. A covenanter, despite a government ban he continued to preach in the fields after the restoration of the monarchy. He was arrested and imprisoned in 1681 and died in jail. <ref> Stephen, Leslie, ed. (1886). "Blackadder, John (1615-1686)". Dictionary of National Biography 5. London: Smith, Elder & Co.</ref>