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The estate of Toftingall is in the parish of Watten.

In a manuscript "Genealogie of the Lairds of Toftinggall", in the possession of Sir Patrick Murray Threipland of Fingask, much information is contained respecting the earlier history of the family of Budge. In this manuscript it is stated, that, "Whence they came or took their name is unknown for the most part, but by common tradition it is affirmed, by all that know the family, that they are descended of the family of Macdonald, and that the first of this family that came to Caithness fled thither for slaughter, and changed his name from Macdonald to Budge. The late Sir Donald Macdonald of Sleat, chief of that name, affirmed that Budge of Toftingall are of his family, as he pleaded the same with Donald Budge, then of Toftingall, in the year 1685, at the general convention of gentlemen and others for apprehending the Earl of Argyle, and offered to prove the time of their cadency by authentick writs in his charter-chest". This Sir Donald Macdonald was the third baronet of the old Macdonalds of Sleat, now represented by Lord Macdonald.

Hugh Macdonald of Sleat, who was third son of Alexander, tenth "Lord of the Isles", is said to have had a son, Donald, who was called "Gallach", from his having been fostered in Caithness, by his mother's relations of the Clan Gunn, to which she belonged. Donald Gallach's grandfather, Alexander, died in 1449, and as the Budges had certainly settled in Caithness towards the end of the fifteenth century, their descent from the Macdonalds, and their connection with the county, through Donald Gallach, are not improbable.

The "Genealogie" appears to have been written about the end of the seventeenth or beginning of the eighteenth century, and consists principally of an inventory of the older family writs, several of which are stated to be "not legible by reason of the badness of the write, length of .time, and ill-keeping". On the margin is written, in an old hand, date 8th February 1703, the following list of lairds: -

  1. Nicholas, 1400-4
  2. Nicholas, 1400-15
  3. Magnus, 1400-2l
  4. Sir Henry, 1400-37
  5. Nicholas, 1500
  6. Magnus, 1500
  7. William, 1500
  8. James, 1600
  9. William, 1600
  10. William, 1600
  11. Donald, 1600
  12. William, 1700
  13. James
The earliest writ noticed is the notarial double of a charter granted by "Henricus de Sancto Claro, Comes Orchadiae", to --- Budge, of tenements in Wick, but it bears no date. A charter granted by one or other of the two Henrys, Earls of Orkney, would carry the Budges back to between 1379, the date of the creation of the first Henry St. Clair, as Earl of Orkney, and 1420, when the second Earl of the name died. In the" Origines Parochiales" (vide Olrick) there is mention of Magnus Buge, Rector of Olrick in 1455; and Magnus is a family name among the Budges.

The first legible charter is. one said to have been granted to Nicholas Budge of Toftingale, in July 1403, but as the granter was William St. Clair, Earl of Caithness, it is evident that the correct date is 1503, for since the first Earl of Caithness of that name did not acquire the earldom till 1455, and since the second Earl, William, succeeded in 1476 and died in 1513, the charter must have been granted by the latter. This charter would seem to have been granted to Nicholas No.1 in the list, who appears to have, really flourished till 1504. A like correction in the century falls to be made in the three subsequent names on the list. Commencing, then, with the charter in 1503, we have-

1. NICHOLAS BUDGE OF TOFTINGALL - The list gives two of this name, but as Magnus, the third on the list, appears to have got a precept from John, Earl of Caithness, dated 21st February 1515 (in MS. 1415), as heir to Nicholas, who flourished till 1515, we may assume that Nicholas No. 1 is the first laird in regard to whom we have written evidence, and that-

II. NICHOLAS BUDGE OF TOFTINGALL may have been his son.

III. MAGNUS BUDGE got a precept as heir to, and most probably as the son of, Nicholas No.2, of the threepenny land of Toftingall and tenements in Wick. There is also a charter by "Alexander", Bishop of Caithness, "Magno Budge de Wick", of a croft and tenements in Wick, dated at Wick, 10th January 1421, according to the MS., but there was no Bishop Alexander at this date, and supposing the correct date to be 1521, the then Bishop was Andrew, and not Alexander. Magnus was succeeded by his son, Sir Henry.

IV. SIR HENRY BUDGE OF TOFTINGALL was served heir to his father, Magnus, on 19th November 1537 (in MS. 1437). He was treasurer of the Church revenues of Ross, and was doubtless a priest, to the members of which order the title of "Sir" was frequently given. Various treasurers of Ross were so styled.

On 29th April 1538 Sir Henry entered into an agreement with Anna Wemyss, his father's "relict", but apparently not his own mother, whereby; she sold her right of terce in the lands of Toftingall for seven merks Scots yearly. He appears to have been succeeded by-

V. NICHOLAS BUDGE OF TOFTINGALL, who held a wadset of Brabsterdorran in 1567, and who occurs in 1573 as sitting on an inquest. In what degree of relationship he stood to Sir Henry is not known.

In the list of lairds we have no fewer than five, viz. Magnus, William, James, William, and William, between Nicholas (No.5) and Donald (No. 11), who was in possession in 1627. But of the existence of these five there is no written evidence, and it is not very probable that in the short space of fifty-four years there could have been so many proprietors in succession.

VI. DONALD BUDGE OF TOFTINGALL was laird in 1627. He had a brother, William, who is the same William Budge who was in Bualglass, on the estate of Forse, in 1627, who was afterwards in Harpsdale. He had Mybster and Tormsdale in 1660, the two latter being acquired from the Earl of Caithness for 5180 merks.

There is, or there was, about the beginning of this century, a local tradition that a house at Dale, called "the Tigh-na-tuir", or House of the Tower, was built by one of the Budge family whose father bore the name of "William Ballugais". The word Ballugais is not Gaelic, and in the absence of any other explanation of its import, it is thought that "William Ballugais" was "William Bualglass", or William Budge in Bualglass, who was afterwards of Mybster or Myribster and Easterdale. The builder of the House of the Tower would consequently be William's son, Donald. This house can scarcely have been the existing house of Dale.

Donald Budge had three sons and a daughter: -

  1. William, his successor
  2. Alexander in Harpsdale, whose eldest son; Henry, it is supposed was the Henry Budge who married Elizabeth, daughter of Patrick Sinclair of Southdun, who was his cousin
  3. Nicholas, who was in Toftingall from 1651 to 1682
  1. Margaret, who married in 1651, Alexander Calder, in Strath of Bylbster
VII. WILLIAM BUDGE OF TOFTINGALL died without issue, about 1675.

William Budge of Easterdale and Mybster, the brother of Donald of Toftingall, married Katharine Murray, probably of the Pennyland Murrays, and had a son, Donald Budge, styled of Easterdale. About 1683, after the death of his cousin-german, William Budge of Toftingall, Donald Budge appears to have adjudged that estate; and thereafter it and the tenements in Wick passed into the Easterdale and Mybster branch of the family, instead of descending to the younger brothers of William Budge of Toftingall.

VIII. DONALD BUDGE, when fiar of Easterdale and Mybster, married, in May 1672 (Contract of Marriage) Elizabeth, second daughter of David Sinclair of Southdun and his wife, Jean, daughter of John Sinclair of Ulbster.

In the churchyard of Watten the following inscription appears on the gravestone of this lady: -

Here lies the Dust of ane Honest Discreit and Ciuill Gentle Woman Elizabeth Sinclair Meistress of Toftingall who departed from Tyme to Eternitie on the -- day of August 1685".

William Budge of Toftingall was a party to the contract of marriage.

After the acquisition of Toftingall, by Donald Budge, about 1683, the family estate comprehended, as it still does, Toftingall, Easterdale, Mybster, and Spittal. Spittal was apprized by Donald Budge about 1672 from Murray of Pennyland, who held it under a contract of wadset in 1648, from John Sinclair of Brims.

Donald Budge had three sons and two daughters: -

  1. William, his successor
  2. David, tutor of Toftingall, who married Janet, daughter of John Forbes, Commissary of Caithness
  3. James, Writer to the Signet, 1738
  1. Jean, eldest daughter, who married Hugh McKay of Strathy
  2. Katharine, who married Alexander Sinclair of Olrig
IX. WILLIAM BUDGE OF TOFTINGALL married, in 1696, Esther, daughter of James Sutherland of Langwell, and had a son, James.

X. JAMES BUDGE OF TOFTINGALL was in minority at the time of his father's death, and his uncle, David, took the management of the estate as "Tutor of Toftingall". James Budge married Janet, daughter of John Campbell of Castlehill. In 1751 he executed an entail of the estates. He died without issue, and was succeeded by his cousin, William.

XI. WILLIAM BUDGE OF TOFTINGALL, the son, it is thought, of David Budge, was a Writer to the Signet, and died 1766. He had two sisters, Jean, who married Richard Murray of Pennyland; and Isabella, who married Patrick Calder of Lynegar. He married Katharine Sinclair, who survived him, and is supposed to have been his cousin, daughter of Alexander Sinclair of Olrig. He had two daughters: -

  1. Janet
  2. Grizzel
XII. JANET BUDGE OF TOFTINGALL died unmarried, and was succeeded by her sister, Grizzel.


ln 1799 the succession devolved, under the entail, upon the descendants of Jean Budge and Richard Murray of Pennyland, in the person of their daughter, Janet Murray, heiress of Pennyland and Toftingall.

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