Just over the Forth Bridge and not far from the picturesque little burgh of CULROSS (where Rev. Alexander Webster began his ministry) is TORRYBURN, where a memorial plaque on the side of the church commemorates Gen. Sir William Erskine of Torrie, his parents, wife and children.
In DYSART there is the picturesque ruined mediaeval CHURCH OF ST. SERF, where Rev. David Pitcairn (M.A., St.Andrews) was Presbyterian minister for 50 yrs, with the site of the marble plaque (destroyed by vandals before the 1840s) which commemorated him and his wife, and which was put up by his son, Captain John Pitcairn of the Marines. As Major, John tried to prevent the outbreak of firing at Lexington, and fell at Bunker Hill, in the arms of his own son. John's birthplace, the Old Manse, was demolished in the 19C. John is buried in the vaults of the Old North Church, Boston, but now (April 2002) he finally has his own plaque near the site of his birthplace!
has the grave
Nisbet Balfour (1744-1823), who as
Lieutenant-Colonel Balfour was a source of annoyance to Pattie
Ferguson when they were supposed to be working together at
Ninety-Six! Balfour nevertheless gave sterling service in supporting
Loyalist claims after the war, and had a long career. His life ended
where it had begun, at Dunbog, aged 79. His is the middle headstone
in the family
enclosure. Some authors have claimed
mistakenly that he was the son of an Edinburgh bookseller, and turned
his uneasy relationship with Pattie into some kind of class rivalry.
This is untrue. He was the laird of Dunbog, from a cadet branch of
the Barons Balfour of Burleigh. He is buried between his sister
Euphemia and his great-nephew William Stewart Balfour.
Next door to the cemetery is an interesting-looking ruined building. I'll investigate further, but I wonder if it might be his old home, Dunbog House?
MELVILLE HOUSE, near Monimail and Letham, was the family home of the Leslie Earls of Leven & Melville: here Gen. Alexander Leslie grew up (he was a very pert and perky-looking little chap when young!), as did his nephew, Willie, and Ben Rush also came to visit. Previously a residential school for children with special needs, the Council put it up for sale in 1998. The last I heard was that it had been bought by someone as a private residence... I hope the original panelled interiors are looked after!
KETTLE was the parish of Rev. James Pitcairn, grandfather of Major John, and yes, ANOTHER St. Andrews graduate!
James Wilson of Philadelphia's home is at Carskerdo, near CERES. We have yet to find a convincing explanation of why he wears the arms of his glasses OUTSIDE his wig...!
ANDREWS was alma mater to
James Wilson, and gave Ben Franklin an honorary degree when he was
Another alumnus was Rev. James MacLagan (1728-1805), born in Ballechin, chaplain to the Black Watch in Ireland (where he began teaching Willie Leslie Gaelic) and during the American War. He later became minister of Blair Atholl. A leading Gaelic scholar, he helped translate the Scriptures into Gaelic for the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge, in which Lord Leven was involved. He also wrote the Gaelic words for The Garb of Old Gaul.
Another famous graduate was secretary to the 1778 Peace Commissioners (to whom the Rebels wouldn't talk): Prof. Adam Ferguson, one of the Enlightenment's great figures. He taught at the University of Edinburgh, and it was at his house at the Sciennes that Robert Burns and Walter Scott met for the first and only time, when Scott was an adolescent. The Prof. retired back to St. Andrews (his house, with sundial over the door, can still be seen on South Street), and is buried in the Cathedral grounds. The epitaph on his memorial is by Sir Walter Scott. The Prof. was also Pattie Ferguson's first biographer (a family friend, but no relation).
For more on the Fergie-trail, one of his older sisters, Betty, who with her husband Alexander Scrymgeour-Wedderburn, lived at BIRKHILL HOUSE (private) is buried at in a railed enclosure at BALMERINO (pronounced 'Balmirnie', or stressed on the 'mer': don't make it rhyme with 'San Marino'!). Their inscription (which also includes his brother Henry and his wife Mary) notes that Betty died on 13 October 1810, and Alexander ('Scrym' as Pattie called him) on 4 July the following year. Nearby are the ruins of Balmerino Abbey, founded by Queen Ermengarde (widow of William the Lion), with a 16C Spanish Chestnut tree.
PITMILLY HOUSE, on the road to Kingsbarns, burned down in the late 1960s. By then it was a hotel, but it was previously the residence of the Monypenny familly, which produced another notable military figure in the 18C: Colonel Alexander Monypenny of Pitmilly (1726-1801),who had served as ADC to Gen. Lord Howe (George Augustus - the cutest of the Howes) in the Seven Years' War in the Colonies. He was related to some of our other friends - a cousin of Gen. Alexander Leslie (whose mother was a Monypenny). His father was also a cousin of Sir William Erskine's father. Small world, 18C Fife!