Marion Douglas, Lady of Drum, Kelly and Cuthlie

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 Marion Douglas, Lady of Drum, Kelly and Cuthlie, (1577-c1650) was the second daughter of the Robert, 4th Earl of Buchan.

On the ground floor of the Town House of Aberdeen on each side of the walls hang mortification boards. These boards form a public record of the mortifications or legacies given by wealthy citizens to Aberdeen Town Council for various charitable purposes. Lady Drum and Lady Rothiemay. They were early philanthropists, aware of older women and girls living in circumstances locally much less favourable than themselves.

Lady Drum motified 3,000 merks for poor widows and aged virgins, and left 300 merks to buy or build a home for them. This home known as "Lady Drum's Hospital" was built c1677 in what became known as Drum's Lane, just off Upperkirkgate and today a plaque marks its site.

There are in Arbirlot, a village in a rural parish of the same name in Angus, two items of antiquarian if not archaeological interest. The communion cups of the parish church are of the beaker type and bear the inscription “Given to the Kirk of Arbirlot by Marion Douglas, Lady of Drum, Kelly and Cuthlie, 1633, and 1644”. It is stated that, with the exception of that of St. Mary’s College, St. Andrews, they bear the oldest Scottish marks of any cups in Scotland. They were made in Edinburgh “by Gilbert Kirkwood during Denniestoun’s deaconate (1608-10) although dedicated for use only in 1633”.

Marion Douglas married Alexander Irvine of Drum in about 1590. Her father being dead, the Earl of Morton acted on her behalf in the arrangement of the marriage contract(1). The Earl of Morton acted as the lady's guardian, and for this service to his ward received from her husband in 1605 the stipulated sum of 10,000 merks. Had she succeeded to the earldom of Buchan, the amount to be paid to the Earl of Morton was to be 20,000 merks.

Marion and Alexander had two sons and five daughters.
• Alexander, his successor
• Robert Irvine of Fedderet
• Margaret, married to Sir George Ogilvie of Dunlugas, afterwards created Lord Banff
• Isabella, married to Urquhart of Leathers, afterwards of Craigfintrie or Craigston
• Janet, married to Sir William Douglas of Glenbervie
• Mary, Agnes or Marjorie, married 1628 Sir Robert Grahame, of Morphie
• Anne, married Sir John Ogilvy [Ogilvie], of Inverquharity, 1st Baronet

Alexander, known as 'Little Breeches' because he followed the Continental fashion of short trousers, was responsible for the building of the Jacobean mansion of Drum in 1619. He was Sheriff of Aberdeen and he and his wife, Marion Douglas, were noted local philanthropists.

The laird was rich enough to lend money to King James VI. He asked for a special dispensation to eat meat on Wednesdays and Fridays as well as other days He gave L10,000 for a scholarship at Aberdeen University - which survives today as the Drum Bursary - and a large number of other benefactions including '32 bolls of meal' for the poor people of nearby Drumoak.

In 1617, Alexander Irvine, with consent of Lady Marion, his spouse, granted a charter of the lands of Kinmuck in favour of his eldest son and heir, Alexander, and his spouse, Magdalen Scrimzeour.

In 1622, Alexander Irvine granted a charter of the lands of Kellie in Forfarshire, in liferent to his wife, Lady Marion Douglas.

Lady Marion Irvine survived her husband for nearly twenty years, and continued a widow, although her high character and large dower brought her many suitors. In some family genealogical remarks it is noted that, "besides others, she was courted by the Marquis of Douglas and Lord Southesk."

In July, 1640, when the Earl of Argyle plundered the property, destroyed the woods, and burnt " the bonnie House of Airlie," he refused permission to Lady Ogilvie, notwithstanding her delicate state, to remain in the mansion-house of Forthar, from which, although it was neither a stronghold nor ever capable of defence, he caused the lady to be expelled, and then destroyed it. At this time Lady Marion Irvine applied to her kinsman(2) Argyle, requesting permission to receive her grand-daughter, Lady Ogilvie, at the house of Kelly. Argyle refused; but Lady Marion, following the dictates of natural affection and humanity, disregarded his answer, and sent for Lady Ogilvie, and afforded her that protection and attendance which her situation required. (Helen was married to Lord Ogilvie, afterwards Earl of Airlie).

There is a receipt to Lady Marion Irvine from her grand-nephew, James VII., Earl of Buchan, dated June, 1648, acknowledging that she had furnished the number of armed men, provisions, etc., required by the Act of Parliament.

Lady Marion Irvine was interred in the burying-place of her maternal ancestors in Auehterhouse Chapel.

1.  The contract of her marriage with Alexander Irvine of Drum is dated, the 22nd and 28th February, 1590. In Douglas's "Peerage," I., p. 269, it will be perceived that the wife of Alexander Irvine ie made the eldest daughter of the Countess of Buohan, that she had been previously married, that she had no issue, and that her name was Janet. All this is incorrect. In 1633 Robert Irvine of Fedderet was procurator for his mother, Dame Marioun Douglas, Lady Drum. — (Spalding Club "Miscellany," III., p. 106.)
2.  Not only was the Marquis of Argyle uncle to Lady Mary Irvine, the wife of the young laird of Drum, but a relationship (then considered near) existed between Sir Alexander Irvine and Argyle. Their grandmothers were sisters, daughters or the Earl Marischal. Argyle's grandmother was Lady Agnes Keith, whom the Earl of Argyle married after the death, of her first husbaml, the Kegent Moray.



Sources for this article include:
  • Aberdeen City Libraries
  • The Irvines of Drum and Collateral Branches,1909

  • Any contributions will be gratefully accepted


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    Last modified: Friday, 17 May 2024