Forbes

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Clan Forbes is a Scottish chiefly family

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Origins

The name Forbes is most probably a location name assumed from the lands of Forbes in Aberdeenshire, in possession of this family reputedly since the time of King William the Lion.<ref>The Scots Peerage, Founded on Wood's Edition of Sir Robert Douglas's Peerage of Scotland, Ed. James Balfour Paul, Vol. IV (Edinburgh: David Douglas, 1907), p. 42 </ref> The original family lands in Aberdeenshire were conferred on Duncan Forbes by a charter of Alexander III in 1271. <ref>George Way of Plean and Romilly Squire, Scottish Clan and Family Encyclopedia, 138</ref>The lands of Forbes take their name from the Old Gaelic term 'forba-ais' meaning 'at the land or place'. <ref> David Doward, Collins Dictionary of Scottish Surnames, 1997, 99</ref> There were once no fewer than 150 great houses and estates belonging to this family along the valley of the River Don. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 138</ref>

Middle Ages

John Forbes is mentioned in a 1306 roll containing a list of demands by English and Scottish loyalists to Edward I of England for the forfeited lands of Scotsmen, the lands of John Forbes being demanded or requested by both a William Comyn and a Robert Chival. <ref>The Scots Peerage, Founded on Wood's Edition of Sir Robert Douglas's Peerage of Scotland, Ed. James Balfour Paul, Vol. IV (Edinburgh: David Douglas, 1907), p. 43</ref>The next name may be that of his son, Christian, who received a grant of one-third of the lands of Skeith and Ardach by King Robert the Bruce in 1326, but doubt still remains he was a Forbes or of this family, even though in the charter he is named Christian Forbes. <ref>The Scots Peerage, Founded on Wood's Edition of Sir Robert Douglas's Peerage of Scotland, Ed. James Balfour Paul, Vol. IV (Edinburgh: David Douglas, 1907), p. 43</ref> The next name found in records is that of John Forbes dominus ejusdem or Lord of Forbes. <ref>John Burke & Sir Bernard Burke, C.B., Burke's Peerage, Baronetage, and Knightage, Ed. Peter Townsend (London: Burke's Peerage Ltd., 1963), p. 938</ref> He witnessed two charters of Thomas, Earl of Mar in 1358 and 1359 and in 1364 King David II of Scotland confirmed a charter for the lands of Edinbanchory and Craiglogy by Thomas, Earl of Mar granting them to John de Forbes. <ref>The Scots Peerage, Founded on Wood's Edition of Sir Robert Douglas's Peerage of Scotland, Ed. James Balfour Paul, Vol. IV (Edinburgh: David Douglas, 1907), p. 45 </ref> He was Sheriff of Aberdeen in 1374. In 1378 a charter was granted to John and his wife Margaret by the Bishop of Moray for the lands of Fynrossie on the loch of Spynie. At his death before 20 August 1387 he was described as "a gude man, wise, and mychty, and manly in his time." <ref>The Scots Peerage, Founded on Wood's Edition of Sir Robert Douglas's Peerage of Scotland, Ed. James Balfour Paul, Vol. IV (Edinburgh: David Douglas, 1907), p. 46 </ref>

The son of the latter, Sir John de Forbes, Lord of Forbes, called "Sir John of the Black Lip" <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 138</ref>was Justiciary and Coroner of Aberdeenshire.<ref>The Scots Peerage, Founded on Wood's Edition of Sir Robert Douglas's Peerage of Scotland, Ed. James Balfour Paul, Vol. IV (Edinburgh: David Douglas, 1907), p. 46</ref> He married Elizabeth Kennedy, daughter of Sir Gilbert Kennedy of Dunure and together they had four sons. <ref>The Scots Peerage, Founded on Wood's Edition of Sir Robert Douglas's Peerage of Scotland, Ed. James Balfour Paul, Vol. IV (Edinburgh: David Douglas, 1907), p. 46</ref> From the three younger sons sprang several cadet lines. William was the progenitor of the Pitsligo line, John the ancestor of Tolquhonline while the houses of Skellater and inverernan were founded by Alistair of Brux. <ref>The Scots Peerage, Founded on Wood's Edition of Sir Robert Douglas's Peerage of Scotland, Ed. James Balfour Paul, Vol. IV (Edinburgh: David Douglas, 1907), p. 46</ref>Alexander, the eldest son, fought in the Battle of Harlaw in 1411 alongside the Earl of Mar against the forces of Donald Lord of the Isles, and was made a peer between 1443 and 1445 by James I and died in 1448. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 138</ref> <ref> Alistair and Henrietta Tayler, The House of Forbes, Revised Edition (Scotpress, 1987), p. 31</ref>

Lord Forbes, had three sons: William, third Lord Forbes, Duncan- who founded the family of Forbes of Corsindae and Patrick of Corse, squire to James III, and whose descendants later became Baronets of Craigievar. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 138</ref> Alexander, fourth Lord Forbes, was in arms with his clan to revenge the murder of James III, but was defeated in battle by James IV.<ref>The Scots Peerage, Founded on Wood's Edition of Sir Robert Douglas's Peerage of Scotland, Ed. James Balfour Paul, Vol. IV (Edinburgh: David Douglas, 1907), pp. 52-3</ref>John, the sixth Lord, succeeded his brother Arthur, the 5th Lord Forbes, in 1493. In 1536 he was charged with Treason and was imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle, but was honourably acquitted after a long period of confinement. <ref>The Scots Peerage, Founded on Wood's Edition of Sir Robert Douglas's Peerage of Scotland, Ed. James Balfour Paul, Vol. IV (Edinburgh: David Douglas, 1907), p. 53 </ref> John Forbes, Master of Forbes, his eldest surviving son and heir designate was arrested with his father, also on charges of Treason, and was condemned to be hanged, but due to his rank he was beheaded.<ref>Alistair and Henrietta Tayler, The House of Forbes, Revised Edition (Scotpress, 1987), pp. 68-9 </ref>

Feud with the Gordons

Castle Forbes

Through the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries a violent struggle was waged between the Forbes' and their traditional enemies, the Gordons. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 139</ref> During the 1520s this feuding reached a climax with constant murders on both sides. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 139</ref>One of the most prominent killed by the Forbes faction was Seton of Meldrum, who was closely associated with the chief of the Gordons, the Earl of Huntly. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 139</ref> Huntly became involved in a plot against the Master of Forbes, son of the sixth Lord Forbes, who was implicated in Seton's murder. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 139</ref>In 1536 Huntly accused the Master of conspiring to assassinate James V with a canon. This led to the execution of the Master of Forbes, however within days the conviction was posthumously reversed and the Forbes family restored to favour. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 139</ref> The feud between the Clans was now reducing Aberdeenshire to lawlessness. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 139</ref>

Feud with the City of Aberdeen

In 1529, Clan Forbes was involved in a feud with the citizens of Aberdeen, who withheld a sort of blackmail, a yearly tun of wine for the fishings of the Don. In July 1530 Arthur Forbes of Brux and his accomplacies attacked Aberdeen. The citizens took arms and drove the invaders to Greyfriars Place. The street fights lasted twenty-four hours. One of clan Forbes and some of the citizens were killed, a good many on both sides were wounded. Several of the inhabitants of Aberdeen, and commissioners were sent to the king to lodge a complaint. On the 19th December the following year, the magistrates served letters of law-burrows against Pitsligo, Tolquhain, Corsindae, Brux, Echt, and other gentlemen of the name of Forbes and Lord Pitsligo was obliged to find caution to the council at Perth for his own and friends good behaviour towards the town of Aberdeen. At that time a deadly feud subsisted between Clan Forbes and Clan Leslie; and it is probable that some of the Aberdeen town's people had interfered in that quarrel, which furiously raged throughout Aberdeenshire, and was attended by mutual massacres and murders. <ref> Walter Thom, The history of Aberdeen (Aberdeen: A. Stevenson, 1811), p.170</ref> <ref>John Stuart, Extracts from the Council Register of the Burgh of Aberdeen (Aberdeen: The Spalding Club, 1844)</ref>

The Reformation

The Reformation added religious differences to the conflict, as the Forbes' became Protestant while the Gordon faction remained Catholic. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 139</ref> The feud culminated in 1571 with two battles at Tillieangus and Craibstone. Lord Forbes' seat at Druminnor was plundered, while the Gordons followed this with the massacre of twenty seven Forbeses of Towie at Corgarff. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 139</ref> In 1582 James VI confirmed Lord Forbes in 'the lands which have been in continuous possession of his family in times past the memory of man'. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 139</ref> However, decades of feuding had drawn the family deep into debt and this forced the sale of many family lands. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 139</ref>

Later History

Members of the family became known for military service during the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. James Ochoncar, the seventeenth Lord Forbes was an officer in the Coldstream Regiment of Footguards for twenty six years, rising to the rank of general. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 139</ref> He also served on the Continent in the forces of the Swedish king Gustavus Adolphus. <ref>Duncan A. Bruce, The Mark of Scots (New York: Kensington Publishing Corp., 1996), p. 159</ref> He returned to the British Isles to suppress uprisings in Ireland. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 139</ref> During this time a castle was built near Alford. Today Castle Forbes is the home of the present chief, Nigel, twenty second Lord Forbes. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 139</ref>

References

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