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EDMONSTON OF BUNESS in the Parish of Unst

As early as 1379, Sir John Edmonston of Ednam, who had married, as second wife, Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Henry Sinclair, Earl of Orkney, was one of the cautioners to Haco V, King of Norway, for that nobleman, who had been appointed by that King, and also by the King of Scotland, for maintaining order and keeping down piracy within the Islands. It is possible that some member of the family through this marriage may have found his way to Shetland. The earliest person I have been able to discover is Andrew Edmondstone, Notary Public, who appears as a witness to a Charter by Patrick, master of Orkney, to William Sinclair in liferent, and John Sinclair his son, and Marion Halcro his spouse, and Henry, their son, of a tenement in Scalloway, dated 26th September 1592.

  1. MR. ANDREW EDMONSTON, admitted minister of Yell, previous to 1598. On 21st August 1598, he witnesses along with Christian Sinclair his spouse, a letter of reversion by James Strang of Voesgarth, to his father-in-law, David Sinclair of Hunto, in Orkney, to 18 merks of land in Melbie, called the “great last”. On 24th January 1619, as Andrew Edmonston of Hamnavoe, minister of Yell, he excambs with consent of Margaret Kintore, his spouse, certain lands with Walter Scott of Whiteness. He probably was father of
    1. John, who succeeded him
    2. James of Hascosay and Gravaland, for whom James Sinclair of Scalloway, Patrick Umphray of Sand, and Ninian Neven of Windhouse, become cautioners that Margaret Kintore, his mother, and James Kintore, her brother, shall be skaithless from him in their bodies, lands, &c., on 12th December 1628. He had issue: Margaret, who married James Sinclair of Bulliester.
  2. MR. JOHN EDMONSTON of Gravaland, succeeded his father as minister of Yell, and is designed as such in 1617. He is said to be one of the persons who drew up and presented to the Privy Council the documents detailing the oppressions, &c., done and committed by Ninian Neven upon the inhabitants of Shetland, as may be learned from the supplication presented to Parliament in 1641 by James Mowat of Ollaberry, and the said Ninian Neven. In this latter document are represented both to “parliament and assembly, the disorders, grievances, and abuses committed by certain factious persons disaffected, and evil disposed as weill of the clergy as laicks for the which some of them are suspended by lawful sentence of the Presbytery and others are under their legal tryall and censure - of which number, John Edmestoun, late minister at Yell, and Mr. John Mitchell, late minister at Tingwall, and Arch Deane of Yetland, are two, who are lawfully suspended for their gross miscarriages”. From this he would appear to have been suspended from the ministry previous to 1641, but he is mentioned in the Register of Sasines as proprietor of lands in Houlland and Hamnavoe, in 1667. He apparently had three sons,
    1. Andrew, his heir
    2. John, called second son
    3. Yaspard, who went to Holland
  3. ANDREW EDMONDSTON of Gravaland and Hascosay, a witness to a Disposition by David Nisbet of 21/2 merks in Netherhouse of Kirkabister to Gilbert Neven of Windhouse, on 12th January 1652, was the father of
    1. Gilbert, his heir
    2. Laurence of Hascosay, aftermentioned
  4. GILBERT EDMONSTON of Gravaland sold 12 merks of his land in Yell, to Andrew Bruce of Urie, in which the latter was seised in 1706. He afterwards emigrated to Holland. His brother
  5. LAURENCE EDMONSTON of Hascosay, married Jean, daughter of Gilbert Neven of Scousburgh, and died before 1697, when his widow married John Scott of Scarpoe
  6. LAURENCE EDMONDSTON of Hascosay, probably his son, had sasine of the 24 merks land in the Island of Hascosay in 1703. He married Margaret, daughter of John Mitchell of Westhore and Berrie, and had issue:
    1. Andrew, younger of Hascosay, so designed in a Disposition by Thomas Hendrie of Foratwatt and others, heirs portioners of John Umphray of Asta to James Mitchell of Girlesta on 4th July 1723. He appears to have predeceased his father.
    2. Charles, his heir
    3. William, aftermentioned. No.VIII
    4. Arthur, aftermentioned. No.IX
    5. Jean
    6. Janet
    7. Grizel
    8. Barbara
  7. CHARLES EDMONSTON of Hascosay had a son Laurence who predeceased his father. He was succeeded by his brother
  8. WILLIAM EDMONSTON, surgeon apothecary in Leith, purchased back in 1761, from David Spence, merchant, Yell, part of the lands of Hascosay. He had two daughter, Mrs. Cheyne and Mrs. Anderson, who sold the bulk of the estate to Thomas Bolt of Cruister. His brother,
  9. ARTHUR EDMONDSTON, merchant in Fetlar, purchased from his brother Charles, part of the lands of Hascosay. He married (first) Mary, daughter of Gilbert Sinclair of Swining, and had issue:
    1. Laurence, his heir
    2. Henry, Lieutenant, R.N, died s.p.
    3. Gilbert, emigrated, and died at sea
    4. William, died young, unmarried
    5. Margaret, died at an advanced age, unmarried
    6. Martha
    He married (second), Margaret Sinclair, and had issue:
    1. James, died at Lerwick, unmarried
    2. Thomas, died a child
    3. Mary, died young
  10. LAURENCE EDMONDSTON served his apprenticeship with his uncle William, at Leith, and became a surgeon. He married 1st February 1775, Mary, daughter of Thomas Sandison of Buness, and had issue:
    1. Arthur, Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh, author of “View of the Ancient and Present State of the Zetland Islands, including the Civil, Political, and Natural History, Antiquities, and an account of their Agriculture, Fisheries, Commerce, and the State of Society and Manners”, published in two volumes at Edinburgh, in 1809, and other works, born 10th November 1775, died 5th November 1841, unmarried
    2. Thomas, see No.XI
    3. Janet, born 3rd March 1780, died unmarried
    4. Henry, surgeon in Newcastle, born 20th March 1781, died 1831, unmarried
    5. Charles, born 20th June 1782, emigrated to Charleston, South Carolina, and had issue: among others, Thomas, who came to Shetland and married, in 1859, his cousin, Ursilla Edmondston, but died without issue in 1874
    6. Mary, born 30th January 1785, died unmarried
    7. Ursilla, born 20th July 1786, died unmarried
    8. Laurence, see No. XII
  11. THOMAS EDMONDSTON, born 15th January 1779, succeeded his grandfather in the estate of Buness in Unst, but died on 26th November 1858. He left a daughter Ursula, born 18th September 1819, to whom he bequeathed the property. She, as before mentioned, married his cousin Thomas Edmondston. His brother,
  12. LAURENCE EDMONSTON, M.D., born 9th February 1795, resided at Halligarth near Buness, where he died 7th March 1879. He was a distinguished naturalist and author of many papers on natural history. He married Eliza, eldest daughter of Robert Macbriar, merchant, Glasgow, authoress of “Sketches and Tales of Shetland”, &c., and had issue:
    1. Thomas, born 20th September 1825, author of “Flora of Shetland”, discoverer of the plant Armaria Norvegica, professor of Botany in the Andersonian University of Glasgow at the age of 20, appointed shortly afterwards naturalist on board H.M.S. Herald on her scientific expedition to the Pacific, and accidentally killed in Sua Bay, Peru, on 24th January 1846
    2. Rev. Biot, ordained minister of the Parish of Kincardine in Menteith, 1858, joint author with his sister, Mrs. Saxby, of “The Home of a Naturalist”, married 4th August 1874, Adela, elder daughter of Charles Gray, merchant, Liverpool, and has issue:
      1. Adela Eliza, born 2nd June 1875
      2. Laurence, born 12th June 1876
      3. Charles, born 10th March 1878
      4. Constance Anne Ethel, born 10th November 1879
      5. Arthur Radford, born 21st August 1881
      6. Magnus Rolf, born 3rd November 1882, died 21st November 1883
      7. Mabel Agnes, born 10th August 1891
    3. Jane May born 26th January 1831, died 3rd April 1831
    4. Mary Sanderson, born 9th February 1832, married 27th July 1860, Andrew James Symington, and has issue:
      1. Laurence Edmonston, born 29th June 1861, died March 1872
      2. Andrew James, born 28th June 1863
      3. Eric Douglas Edmondston, born 20th November 1864
      4. Harald Henrickson, born 21st October 1866
      5. Agnes Tod Edmondston, born 17th August 1868
      6. Margaret Macalister, born 12th August 1870
    5. Jessie Helen, born 12th May 1834, died 23rd November 1841
    6. David Charles, born 4th May 1837, died 23rd December 1884, married (first) 6th October 1862, Margaret, daughter of Rev. Zachary M Hamilton, D.D., minister of Bressay, and had issue:
      1. Anne Irvine Cruikshank, born 16th August 1863
      2. Margaret Lope Hamilton, born 26th May 1865
      3. Eliza, born 10th July 1867
      4. Laurence, born 2nd July 1868
      5. Thomas Mouat Cameron Hamilton, born 9th May 1870
      He married (second) 21st July 1874, Eliza, daughter of Rev. Alexander Turner, D.D., minister of Port of Menteith
    7. Isabella, born 20th October 1839
    8. Margaret Moody, born 24th February 1841, died 24th March 1843
    9. Jessie Margaret, born 30th June 1842, authoress of “Daala Mist, or Stories of Shetland” and other well-known works, married 16th December 1859, Henry Linckmeyer Saxby, M.D., and had issue:
      1. Henry Gordon Edmondston, born 27th October 1860
      2. Laura, born 9th February 1863, died 1st April 1868
      3. Stephen Lindman, born 26th October 1866
      4. Thomas Edmondston, born 9th March 1869
      5. Horace Dobal, born 26th February 1871
      6. Charles Fletcher, born 2nd August 1873
    10. Margaret Ellen, born 9th July 1845, married 7th September 1871, William Cameron Hamilton, second son of Rev. Dr. Zachary M Hamilton, and had issue:
      1. Zachary Macaulay, born 8th July 1872
      2. Eliza Cameron Macbriar, born 13th June 1874
      3. Ellen Isabella, born 25th August 1876
      4. William Cameron, born 4th November 1879
      5. Margaret Edmondston, died in infancy
      6. Edmondston, born 8th May 1881
      7. Garith Frederick Saxby, born 1888
    11. Thomas, stockbroker, London, born 28th January 1847, married 19th October 1874, Mary, daughter of Dr. Amory Coffin, U.S.A, and grand- daughter of his uncle, Charles Edmondston of Charleston, and had issue:
      1. Jessie Elise, born 29th July 1875
      2. Amory Yaspard, born 4th January 1877
      3. Henry Saxby, born 3rd February 1878
      4. Charlotte May born 19th April 1882
      5. David Charles, born 30th January 1890
      6. Helen, born 4th November 1891
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