The Urquhart and Kirkmichael Connection

The Parish and Kirk of Kirkmichael has of old been associated with the Urquharts. There is an Urquhart charter of 1349 of land within the parish, and many subsequent charters over several centuries deal with lands within the parish and Kirkmichael itself as they moved into and out of Urquhart ownership. The Urquharts of Cromarty and related branches were the proprietors for a long period of the whole parish of Resolis (the united parishes of Kirkmichael and Cullicudden). The Urquharts of Kinbeachie are buried in Cullicudden but the Urquharts of Braelangwell and the Urquharts of Newhall are buried in Kirkmichael. This superbly carved Urquhart of Braelangwell (William Urquhart) wall panel (right) can be seen in the chancel of Kirkmichael kirk.

The Urquharts of Newhall were a very important branch in their time, having an extensive estate of about 9,000 acres of land. In 1678, Colonel Alexander Urquhart of Newhall with his son John and the Laird of Cromarty were Commissioners to the Scottish Parliament. Both Alexander and his son John were buried at Kirkmichael, but the location of their graves has not been traced.

Formerly an officer in the Scots Greys, he had sold the estate with the exception of a small portion including the ancient burying ground of Kirkmichael, which, having descended in strict tail, became the property of his half-brother David. Braelangwell came into the possession of the family of Fraser. Interestingly, Isabella Fraser of Braelangwell (-1862) married the eighth Urquhart laird of Meldrum, Beauchamp Colclough Urquhart (1830-1896).The diplomat David Urquhart was born at Braelangwell, the second son of David Urquhart of Braelangwell, by his second wife, Miss Hunter. His father died while David was still a child [he died in 1811 and Braelangwell was rouped in 1812], and he was brought up by his mother. He was active in the military, including being in the Greek service, and held numerous important diplomatic positions, including several in Constantinople. His outspoken views led to him falling out of favour on several occasions. He powerfully influenced public opinion by his numerous writings, mostly on international politics and international travel. His style was admirably lucid. Interestingly, Urquhart was responsible for the naturalisation of the Turkish bath in the British Isles through his enthusiastic report of the institution in his ‘Pillars of Hercules’ in 1850 and subsequent lectures. One of the most colourful and romantic Scottish characters, Sir Thomas Urquhart of Cromarty (c 1610 – c 1660), was the patron of Kirkmichael, Cullicudden and Cromarty. Mathematician, author, translator and soldier, he left his home to fight for the royal cause and was captured at the Battle of Worcester. While in the Tower of London, he tried to persuade Cromwell to free him by promising to deliver various achievements such as a universal language, and impressing him with his genealogy, whereby he tracked his parentage back through genuine forbears and real and mythological kings to Adam and Eve. He was the eldest son of Sir Thomas Urquhart of Cromarty and Christian, daughter of Alexander Lord Elphinston. The curacies of Cullicudden and Kirkmichael were in the gift of the Urquharts of Cromarty.

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