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THE MURRAYS OF PENNYLAND

The estate of Pennyland is in the parish of Watten.
In 2002 it was owned by Elizabeth Swanson

It is probable that the Caithness branch of the Murrays came from the Morays or Murrays who settled in Sutherlandshire at a remote period, and who figure largely in the feuds which form the history of that county in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The principal Caithness families of the name are those of Pennyland, Clairden, and Castlehill, all of them nearly allied.

I. The first "MURRAY OF PENNYLAND" was WILLIAM RONALDSON or MURRAY, who, in 1549, got a charter from the Bishop of Caithness of tenements in Thurso, and who got in 1559 a charter of Pennyland to himself and his wife, Isobel Dundas. Pennyland had previously belonged to the Bishopric, and when, in 1557, Bishop Robert gave a grant of Bishop lands to John, Earl of Sutherland, there is mention of "the lands, not named, of John McEwen and William Ranaldson, except the crofts of Scrabster". In 1560 William Ranaldson of Pennyland was witness to a charter of the lands of Forss and Baillie, granted by John, Earl of Sutherland, to David Sinclair of Dun, and in the same year he was witness to a charter, also by the Earl, of the lands of Westerseat, near Wick, to Hutcheon Murray, alias Pyper, from whom came the name of "Pyper's croft", as the lands were afterwards and still are called.

William Ranaldson or Murray had two sons: -

  1. Walter, his successor
  2. John, in Clairden. In 1568 his father resigned in his favour tenements in Thurso, and mentions him as his second son
II. WALTER or WALTER WILLIAM MURRAY OF PENNYLAND had a son, John, who is named along with him in a charter in 1590.

III. JOHN MURRAY OF PENNYLAND got a charter in 1609 from Alexander, Bishop of Caithness, to himself in liferent and to his son, William, in fee. In this charter he is designed as son of Walter Murray. He had two sons: -

  1. William, his successor
  2. John
IV. WILLIAM MURRAY OF PENNYLAND was succeeded by his brother, John.

V. JOHN MURRAY OF PENNYLAND obtained in 1630 from John, Bishop of Caithness, a precept of clare constat as heir to his brother-german, William. In 1663 he had a wadset of Scotscalder. In 1674 there is a charter by him and his wife, Margaret Murchison, and his name is of frequent occurrence in the kirk-session records of Thurso as an elder. He had five sons and two daughters: -

  1. James, his successor
  2. Richard, designed of Scotscalder, in virtue of the wadset right to his father of which he got an assignation. Richard also got a disposition from his father in 1663 to a wadset of Lieurary, and he was one of the Commissary deputes of Caithness. He appears to have been twice married, namely, to Jean Cunningham, and to Jean, daughter of Smith of Braco. The disposition in 1663 to the wadset of Lieuraryis in favour of himself and Jean Cunningham, his spouse, and John, their eldest son; and in December of the same year there is a charter of confirmation by the Bishop to him and Jean Smith. His children were five sons and three daughters: John; Patrick, afterwards of Pennyland; James; Richard, a merchant in Leith (who had a son, James, and two daughters, Jean and Anne); David, in Clairden; Mary, who married the Rev. James Oswald; Margaret, who married the Rev. George Oswald; and Elizabeth, who married John Sinclair of Forss
  3. David, of Clairden
  4. John, a Writer in Edinburgh in 1667
  5. Francis
  1. Katharine, who married, in 1670, George Gray, Minister of Loth; and, in 1674, William Cumming, Minister of Halkirk, by whom she had four daughters: Elizabeth, who married George Sinclair of Barrock; a daughter, who married a Mr. Bruce; Barbara, who married, in April 1703, Patrick Sinclair of Brabsterdorran; and a daughter, who married Cumming of Craigmiln, Morayshire, whose daughter, Rachel, married William Sinclair, of the Customs, Thurso, of the Dun family
  2. Barbara, who married, in 1656, James Innes of Thursater
VI. JAMES MURRAY is designed OF PENNYLAND in 1670. He was twice married, first to Elizabeth, daughter of Captain John Wemyss of -- and Janet Murray; (Contract of Marriage and Disposition by John Murray of Port of Ormlie) and, secondly, to Elizabeth Willson, who was his relict in 1697.

By his first marriage he had a son and three daughters: -

  1. James, designed as his eldest lawful son, who seems to have died without issue
  1. Elizabeth, who married William Campbell, Sheriff-clerk of Caithness. (Contract of Marriage, 1684)
  2. Janet, who married Patrick Sinclair of Southdun
  3. Margaret, who married Evander McIvor of Lochmiln
By his second marriage he had an only daughter, Katharine, who married, in 1690, James Murray of Clairden.

James Murray of Pennyland was succeeded by Patrick, eldest son of Richard Murray of Scotscalder and his wife, Jean Smith. Scotscalder had a son, John, who is mentioned as the "eldest son" of him and Jean Cunningham, but he may only have been eldest son of that marriage, and may have died before the succession to Pennyland had opened by the death of James Murray.

VII. PATRICK MURRAY OF PENNYLAND married --, daughter of James Cunningham of Geise. In 1700 he acquired the right of reversion of the wadset of Scotscalder, held by his grandfather, John. From 1696 to 1698 he was one of the commissioners for the county in the Scottish Parliament; and in 1701 he entered into a feu-contract with Ulbster in regard to Scotscalder. He had seven sons and two daughters: -

  1. James, his successor. Pennyland appears to have been adjudged by James Murray of Clairden and Alexander Sinclair of Barrock, and to have been sold to James Murray for 500, the rental being then 25. Mr. Sinclair states that about the middle of last century the usual selling price of land in the county was twenty years' purchase of the free rental
  2. Richard, who seems to have taken up the succession on the death of his brother, James
  3. David
  4. Alexander
  5. Peter
  6. William
  7. Adam
  1. A daughter, who married James Fall, (Douglas) a merchant in Dunbar, and whose daughter, Janet, married Sir John Anstruther of Anstruther
It has been supposed that Patrick Murray had another daughter who married McKay of Strathy; but the only marriage of the Pennyland Murrays with that family, so far as is known, was that of the daughter of Richard Murray, Patrick's son, to Hugh McKay, second of Strathy.

VIII. JAMES MURRAY OF PENNYLAND was served heir to his father in 1729. He married Helen, daughter of William Miller of Mugdrum, and appears to have had no issue. He was dead in 1731.

IX. RICHARD MURRAY OF PENNYLAND married Jean, sister of William Budge of Toftingall, W.S., and had a son and two daughters: -

  1. Patrick, his successor
In 1762 James Murray, described as Surveyor of the Customs, resided at Pennyland with his wife, Barbara, daughter of James Murray of Clairden, and two sisters, and in January 1770 he died, and was buried in Pennyland Chapel. Who he was is uncertain, and it is conjectured that he may have been a second son of Richard Murray. No mention is made of his having children. Bishop Forbes, who does ample justice to his hosts, mentions that be passed the 5th of August 1762 at Pennyland, "and most elegantly was he entertained there".

  1. Janet
  2. Barbara, first wife of Hugh McKay, second of Strathy. In 1721 there was a bond to her and her four sons
X. PATRICK MURRAY OF PENNYLAND died without issue, and was succeeded by his sister, Janet.

XI. JANET MURRAY OF PENNYLAND, and heiress of Toftingall under the entail of that estate by James Budge, married, in 1761, Dr. Stuart Threipland of Fingask, and these properties are now possessed by her grandson, Sir Patrick Murray Threipland Budge of Fingask and Toftingall, Baronet.

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