Burnett

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The Clan Burnett is a Scottish chiefly family comprised of several branches.

(Badge copyright Gaelic Themes Ltd.)

Origins

There is dispute as to the origins of this family. Norman descent is claimed but it is also possible that they are connected to the great Saxon family on Burnard who were prominent before the Norman conquest. <ref>George Way of Plean and Romilly Squire, Scottish Clan and Family Encyclopedia, (Glasgow, Harper Collins, 1994) 86</ref> Another explanation is that it is a version of the Germanic personal name 'Beornheard' -which means 'bear-hand'. <ref> David Dorward, Collins Dictonary of Scottish Surnames (Glasgow: Harper Collins 1995) 32</ref> A more romantic interpretation of this name is 'brave warrior'. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 86 </ref>The family apparently first came to Scotland on the return of David I from England and settled in Roxburghshire. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 86 </ref>Roger Burnard was a Border landowner around 1200.

Northeast Scotland

Burnett of Leys

Alexander Burnard or Burnet was a follower of Robert the Bruce. <ref> Dorward, Surnames, 32 </ref> He was rewarded with lands in the royal forest of Drum. In the the main hall of Crathes Castle, their historic seat, there is an ivory horn which is said to have been presented to the family by Robert the Bruce. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 86 </ref> Burnetts who settled in the north-east of Scotland are primarily located in Kincardineshire and Aberdeenshire. These branches stemmed from the family of Leys, the ancestors of the present Chief of the Name of Burnett, James A. C. Burnett of Leys. <ref>Eileen A. Bailey, 'The Burnets in North-East Scotland', Crannog to Castle; A History of the Burnett Family in Scotland, ed. Eileen A. Bailey (Banchory: Leys Publishing, 2000), p. 26</ref> Alexander Burnet recieved a charter from Robert I of the lands of Kilhenach, Clerech, and other lands in Aberdeenshire dated 28 March 1324. <ref>Robert Douglas, The Baronage of Scotland, vol. I (Edinburgh: 1798), p. 41</ref> This was about the time the Burnard or Burnett family first took up residence on an artificial island called a crannog, on the Loch of Leys. <ref>National Trust for Scotland. 1969. Crathes Castle, Fifth ed. Edinburgh. 4.</ref> Crathes Castle bears the dates 1553, 1554 and 1596. <ref>http://canmore.rcahms.gov.uk/en/site/36693/details/crathes+castle/</ref>

Crathes Castle

During the next three centuries the Burnetts came to gain prominence in the area by making connections with the church, granting lands and other endowments. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 86 </ref> John Burnet "of Leyis", the fifth laird, was the first in this family to bear the distinction "of Leys" which from this time onward was applied both to the lands and to the family who held them. <ref>George Burnett, The Family of Burnett of Leys; With Collateral Branches, ed. James Allerdyce (Aberdeen: The New Spalding Club, 1901), pp. 10-11</ref> His son, Alexander Burnet of Leys was the first 'Baron of Leys' during the reigns of James II of Scotland, James III and James IV. <ref>Crannog to Castle; A History of the Burnett Family in Scotland, ed. Eileen A. Bailey (Banchory: Leys Publishing, 2000), p. 36 </ref> In 1553, Alexander Burnet of Leys, the ninth lord of Leys began construction on Crathes Castle, which was finished by his great-grandson, another Alexander, the twelfth lord, in 1596. <ref> George Burnett, The Family of Burnett of Leys; With Collateral Branches, ed. James Allerdyce (Aberdeen: The New Spalding Club, 1901), p. 22 </ref> Crathes remained in the ownership of the Burnett family descendants for over 350 years, until 1952 when it was given to the National Trust for Scotland.

Branches of Family

Ramseys of Balnain

Through a marriage between Sir Thomas Burnett, 6th Baronet of Leys and the sister of Sir Alexander Ramsay, 6th Baronet of Balmain, the Burnetts became heirs of the line of Ramsay of Balmain. <ref>George Burnett, The Family of Burnett of Leys; With Collateral Branches, ed. James Allerdyce (Aberdeen: The New Spalding Club, 1901), p. 101</ref> When Sir Alexander died in 1806 s.p. his estates passed to the immediate younger brother of his heir of that line, Alexander, second son of Sir Thomas Burnett of Leys. <ref>George Burnett, The Family of Burnett of Leys; With Collateral Branches, ed. James Allerdyce (Aberdeen: The New Spalding Club, 1901), p. 101</ref> Alexander resigned the Sheriffdom of Kincardineshire on his succession to Balmain and after some time traveling he returned and built an elegant mansion called Fasque House. By Royal license he assumed the name and arms of Ramsay and on 13 May 1806 he was created a Baronet of the United Kingdom as Sir Alexander Ramsay of Balmain. He died at Fasque on 17 May 1810 and his ancestors retained the name of Ramsay dropping the surname of Burnett altogether. <ref>George Burnett, The Family of Burnett of Leys; With Collateral Branches, ed. James Allerdyce (Aberdeen: The New Spalding Club, 1901), p. 101</ref>

Burnetts of Craigmyle

James Burnett, son of Alexander Burnett of Leys and next younger brother of Sir Thomas Burnett, 1st Baronet of Leys. Upon his marriage in 1608 to Elizabeth Burnet, daughter of Thomas Burnett of Craigmyle and Tillihaikie, the grandson of William Burnett of Craigour, Campbell and Tillihaikie who fell at the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh in 1547. He and his wife had sasine of the lands of Craigmyle, Pitmedden and the Mill of Craigmyle. <ref>George Burnett, The Family of Burnett of Leys; With Collateral Branches, ed. James Allerdyce (Aberdeen: The New Spalding Club, 1901), p. 112</ref> By this marriage he became almost as considerable a laird as his brother Sir Thomas. He was known as a peacemaker and negotiator in his time. The cadet line of Crigmyle died out in the male line after 1750. <ref> Eileen A. Bailey, 'The Burnets of Craigmyle & Crimond', Crannog to Castle; A History of the Burnett Family in Scotland, ed. Eileen A. Bailey (Banchory: Leys Publishing, 2000), pp. 91-2 </ref>

Burnetts of Kemnay

James Burnett, the next younger brother of Sir Thomas Burnett, 1st Baronet, married Elizabeth Burnett as mentioned above. Their second son, Thomas Burnett of Kemnay was the first laird of Kemnay. <ref>Bernard Burke, A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain & Ireland, Vol. I (London: Harrison & Sons, 1894), p. 256</ref> Thomas was a writer in Edinburgh and married Margaret Pearson, daughter of John Pearson, a merchant in Edinburgh. He purchased Kemnay from Sir George Nicolson, Lord Kemnay, a Lord of Session. The older residence that the newer mansion replaced, was built by Sir Thomas Crombie, had been owned previously by the Auchinlecks and the Douglases of Glenbervie. The current laird of Kemnay is Susan Letitia Burnett, 9th of Kemnay. <ref>Eileen A. Bailey, 'The Burnetts of Kemnay', Crannog to Castle; A History of the Burnett Family in Scotland, ed. Eileen A. Bailey (Banchory: Leys Publishing, 2000), p. 97 </ref>

Burnetts of Crimond

This branch descends from Robert Burnet, Lord Crimond, another brother of Sir Thomas Burnett, 1st Baronet. He was the third son of Alexander Burnet, above-mentioned, and Katherine Gordon.<ref>Eileen A. Bailey, 'The Burnets of Craigmyle & Crimond', Crannog to Castle; A History of the Burnett Family in Scotland, ed. Eileen A. Bailey (Banchory: Leys Publishing, 2000), p. 92</ref>Robert studied law in France for several years and in 1617 was admitted to the Scottish Bar. He was a Scottish advocate and Judge of the Court of Session in 1661 as Lord Crimond. <ref>Eileen A. Bailey, 'The Burnets of Craigmyle & Crimond', Crannog to Castle; A History of the Burnett Family in Scotland, ed. Eileen A. Bailey (Banchory: Leys Publishing, 2000), p. 92 </ref> His heir was his third son Alexander Burnett. His fifth son was Gilbert Burnet, Bishop of Salisbury. <ref>Eileen A. Bailey, 'The Burnets of Craigmyle & Crimond', Crannog to Castle; A History of the Burnett Family in Scotland, ed. Eileen A. Bailey (Banchory: Leys Publishing, 2000), p. 92 </ref>Described by Doward as a 'staunch Whig and scheming prelate' he was rewarded with the Bishopric of Salisbury for his part in engineering the ascension of William III and Mary II to the English throne. <ref>Dorward, Surnames, 32</ref> Burnett authored a number of works on religious themes including a three volume History of the Reformation. <ref>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilbert_Burnet</ref>

Bishop Burnet

Burnetts of Kemnay

James Burnett, the next younger brother of Sir Thomas Burnett, 1st Baronet, married Elizabeth Burnett as mentioned above. Their second son, Thomas Burnett of Kemnay was the first laird of Kemnay.<ref>Bernard Burke, A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain & Ireland, Vol. I (London: Harrison & Sons, 1894), p. 256</ref> Thomas was a writer in Edinburgh and married Margaret Pearson, daughter of John Pearson, a merchant in Edinburgh. He purchased Kemnay from Sir George Nicolson, Lord Kemnay, a Lord of Session. <ref>Bernard Burke, A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain & Ireland, Vol. I (London: Harrison & Sons, 1894), p. 256</ref>The older residence that the newer mansion replaced, was built by Sir Thomas Crombie, had been owned previously by the Auchinlecks and the Douglases of Glenbervie. The current laird of Kemnay is Susan Letitia Burnett, 9th of Kemnay. <ref>Eileen A. Bailey, 'The Burnetts of Kemnay', Crannog to Castle; A History of the Burnett Family in Scotland, ed. Eileen A. Bailey (Banchory: Leys Publishing, 2000), p. 97</ref>

Burnetts of Monboddo

This branch stems from James Burnet of Lagavin, the third son of James Burnett of Craigmyle and his wife Elizabeth Burnett. <ref>The Family of Burnett of Leys, Aberdeen University Studies, No. 4 (Aberdeen: University of Aberdeen, 1901), pp. 144–45</ref>In 1642 James married Isobel Forbes who died a short time later after which James married secondly Elizabeth Irvine, daughter of Robert Irvine of Monboddo and Elizabeth Douglas of Glenbervie. <ref>The Family of Burnett of Leys, Aberdeen University Studies, No. 4 (Aberdeen: University of Aberdeen, 1901), pp. 144–45</ref> About 1671 James purchased Monboddo from his brothers-in-law. In addition to Monboddo, which became the seat of this branch, James acquired Kair, Whitefield, Sillyflat, Hallgreen, Johnshaven and Ballandro in Kincardineshire and Aberdeenshire. <ref>The Family of Burnett of Leys, Aberdeen University Studies, No. 4 (Aberdeen: University of Aberdeen, 1901), pp. 144–45</ref> His grandson, James Burnett, the third laird of Monboddo supported the Stuart cause and was captured at the Battle of Falkirk Muir. He was held prisoner for some time but was liberated through the influence of powerful friends. <ref>The Family of Burnett of Leys, Aberdeen University Studies, No. 4 (Aberdeen: University of Aberdeen, 1901), pp. 144–45</ref> But subsequent events caused him to have to sell all but Monboddo and Lagavin, which he sold to his eldest son, James Burnett, Lord Monboddo, the fourth laird who rose to become an eminent scholar and judge. <ref>The Family of Burnett of Leys, Aberdeen University Studies, No. 4 (Aberdeen: University of Aberdeen, 1901), pp. 144–45</ref>Lord Monboddo (1714- 1799) was a judge, scholar of linguistic evolution, philosopher and deist. He is most famous today as a founder of modern comparative historical linguistics. <ref>Catherine Hobbs (2002). Rhetoric on the Margins of Modernity: Vico, Condillac, Monboddo. SIU Press. ISBN 978-0-8093-2469-9. Retrieved 25 May 2012.</ref>. He is considered a major figure in the Scottish Enlightenment. Monboddo's early advocacy of man's relationship to apes was ridiculed at the time but subsequently has been understood to have been a precursor to Darwinism.

Burnetts of Camphill

This branch is apparently descended from William Burnett of Craigour, Wester Camphill and Tillihaikie who fell at the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh in 1547. <ref>Eileen A. Bailey, 'The Burnetts of Camphill, Elrick and Kirkhill', Crannog to Castle; A History of the Burnett Family in Scotland, ed. Eileen A. Bailey (Banchory: Leys Publishing, 2000), pp. 128-30</ref> His son Andrew Burnett succeeded him to the lands of Camphill. In 1605 these lands were part of the Leys estate and at that time William Burnett, the son of Andrew Burnett held Camphill as a tenant. <ref>Eileen A. Bailey, 'The Burnetts of Camphill, Elrick and Kirkhill', Crannog to Castle; A History of the Burnett Family in Scotland, ed. Eileen A. Bailey (Banchory: Leys Publishing, 2000), pp. 128-30 </ref> A Thomas Burnett of Camphill, mentioned in the Aberdeenshire Poll Book of 1696, was at the time living in Aberdeen.<ref>Eileen A. Bailey, 'The Burnetts of Camphill, Elrick and Kirkhill', Crannog to Castle; A History of the Burnett Family in Scotland, ed. Eileen A. Bailey (Banchory: Leys Publishing, 2000), pp. 128-30 </ref>

Burnetts of Elrick

The eldest son of the above mentioned Andrew Burnett of Camphill, John Burnett (1629–1666) was the 1st of Elrick. <ref>Alexander Johnston, Short memoir of James Young, merchant burgess of Aberdeen, and Rachel Cruickshank, his spouse, and of their descendants (Aberdeen : J. Craighead, 1861), p. lxi </ref> John Burnett acquired these lands by assignation from William Innes of Kinnermonie who had a charter for Elrick in 1663. <ref> Eileen A. Bailey, 'The Burnetts of Camphill, Elrick and Kirkhill', Crannog to Castle; A History of the Burnett Family in Scotland, ed. Eileen A. Bailey (Banchory: Leys Publishing, 2000), pp. 130-32 </ref>The barony of Elrick included the lands of that estate, along with the mill and croft, Smiddieland and Broomiebrae of Elrick, the lands and town of Monacabback, Ord and Scrogley of Monacabback and the lands of Snellen. <ref> Eileen A. Bailey, 'The Burnetts of Camphill, Elrick and Kirkhill', Crannog to Castle; A History of the Burnett Family in Scotland, ed. Eileen A. Bailey (Banchory: Leys Publishing, 2000), pp. 130-32</ref> The lands were still in this family after the death of Peter Burnett of Elrick in 1870.<ref> Eileen A. Bailey, 'The Burnetts of Camphill, Elrick and Kirkhill', Crannog to Castle; A History of the Burnett Family in Scotland, ed. Eileen A. Bailey (Banchory: Leys Publishing, 2000), pp. 130-32</ref>

Burnetts of Kirkhill

The first of Kirkhill, in the parish of Dyce near Aberdeen, was Alexander Burnett (1620–1685), the son of Thomas Burnett, merchant, and his wife Margaret Johnston. <ref>ileen A. Bailey, 'The Burnetts of Camphill, Elrick and Kirkhill', Crannog to Castle; A History of the Burnett Family in Scotland, ed. Eileen A. Bailey (Banchory: Leys Publishing, 2000), pp. 138-39</ref> As a Baillie of Aberdeen Alexander Burnett was designated Polls or Poles indicating a merchant with strong trading ties to Poland, a designation his son, the 2nd laird Thomas took as a nickname.<ref>Eileen A. Bailey, 'The Burnetts of Camphill, Elrick and Kirkhill', Crannog to Castle; A History of the Burnett Family in Scotland, ed. Eileen A. Bailey (Banchory: Leys Publishing, 2000), pp. 138-39</ref>The great granddaughter of the first laird, Margaret Burnett (born 1719) eventually succeeded to Kirkhill and by her marriage to Alexander Bannerman of Frendraught, also a merchant in Aberdeen, the lands of Kirkhill passed to the Bannerman family.<ref>Eileen A. Bailey, 'The Burnetts of Camphill, Elrick and Kirkhill', Crannog to Castle; A History of the Burnett Family in Scotland, ed. Eileen A. Bailey (Banchory: Leys Publishing, 2000), p. 140 </ref>

Today

Crathes Castle, formerly home to the Burnetts of Leys, is open to the public and managed by the National Trust for Scotland. <ref>http://www.nts.org.uk/Property/Crathes-Castle-Garden-and-Estate/</ref> There is an active House of Burnett Association to which those bearing the name 'Burnett' or variations 'Burnet' 'Burnette' 'Barnet' 'Barnett' 'Bernit' 'Bernap' 'MacBurnet', married to a Burnett or with provable Burnett descent. <ref>http://www.burnett.uk.com/hob-apply.htm</ref>

A member of the Burnett family was active in the College of Arms in Edinburgh in a professional capacity: Charles Burnett (b.1940) - who is a Scottish antiquarian and Officer of Arms. He held the post of Ross Herald in Arms and retired in 2010. <ref>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Burnett_(officer_of_arms)</ref>According to their Association, the Burnetts were never a “clan” as the term is used in Scots custom and law. <ref>http://www.burnett.uk.com/faq.htm</ref>The clans in Scotland were patriarchal in scope and were essentially tribal societies whose members spoke Gaelic. <ref>http://www.burnett.uk.com/faq.htm</ref>The majority of Burnetts were not Gaelic speakers – most of them spoke Scots and, although many of them lived in or near the Highlands, they were not Highlanders. <ref>http://www.burnett.uk.com/faq.htm</ref>

The correct terminology for the Burnett family is “House of Burnett” as is the case with a number of great Scottish families (Bruce, Gordon and Dunbar for example). Although the term “clan” has been used to describe some Lowland families, even in the Lyon Court records, there was never a 'Clan Burnett'. <ref>http://www.burnett.uk.com/faq.htm</ref> The current chief is James Burnett of Leys. <ref>http://www.clanchiefs.org.uk/chief/</ref>

References

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