(Sept 2016) Here I present scans of selected items from GD316 “Records of the Matthew family of Gourdiehill, Perthshire”, kept by the National Records of Scotland (formerly National Archives of Scotland).
GD316 was used by Mary Young as a reference source for her 2004 PhD thesis “Rural society in Scotland from the Restoration to the Union: challenge and response in the Carse of Gowrie, circa 1660-1707”, which is how I came to be aware of this resource (see here, here and here).
Contents of GD316
(2018-06-24) Clues to the provenance of the GD316 collection come from the letters contained in the sub-collection GD316/21. These indicate that the collection came into the hands of a Rev. Wilfred Hulbert, a local priest who had an interest in historical documents and antiquities. Hulbert was able to sell one of the letters in the collection to the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley (a “Gold Rush letter” from Patrick Matthew’s son John, who went to California along with his brothers James and Charles during the California Gold Rush). The other materials were eventually given to the Scottish Record Office (now the National Records of Scotland), and became GD316.
One letter in particular (from Hulbert to the Assistant Director of the Bancroft Library) provides fascinating details. We learn that, in 1956, Hulbert was invited to ‘Barns of Woodside’, an “old rambling place” in Newburgh, Fife. ‘Barns of Woodside’ had been the home of Mathew’s daughter Euphemia during the last years of her life, up until her death in 1915 (thus Wulf Gerdts’ unpublished family history, The Matthew Saga, contains many letters from that address). Following Euphemia’s death, ‘Barns of Woodside’ was occupied by other family members, but now (in 1956), the house was about to be abandoned and the current occupant, thought in Hulbert’s letter to be the wife of a nephew of John Matthew, had little interest in Matthew family history. So little interest, in fact, that Hulbert reports that “much good stuff” either had been or subsequently would be burnt. Hulbert, however, was able to rescue “an old box” with “a collection of papers, documents etc”, and presumably these would later become GD316. Research by Anne Carroll, formerly of Perth Library, indicates that the occupant was in fact Mina Livingston Smith, the widow of Robert David Duncan Matthew (1860-1939) who was a grandson of Patrick Mathew via his son Robert.
This burning of papers has become distorted in some accounts into a tale of the burning of records by the daughters of Patrick Matthew themselves, perhaps blaming their spinsterhood on the ostracisation caused by their father’s outlandish views (see here and comments following). This reminds us that family folklore is often suspect. In fact the opposite is true – Euphemia Matthew clearly took great care of these records in her lifetime, and it’s thanks to her that we have GD316. She is also mentioned as the keeper of the Oliphant genealogy by Millar (1890) (a copy of this genealogy is listed in GD316/10), and she was also consulted as a source of Matthew family history by Calman (1912).
Most intriguing is the part of Hulbert’s letter that reports: “I saw and handled a letter from Darwin written on The Beagle but felt I couldn’t ask for such a precious letter. It was later destroyed!!”. Could this be an early letter from Darwin to Matthew? Could it be proof of a correspondence between Darwin and Matthew, long before their first officially recognised correspondence of 1860? In fact, this appears highly unlikely. If Matthew had indeed been in possession of such a letter, why did he not mention it in any of their known public or private correspondences? Why did he, on the contrary, publically state in 1860 that “I have not the least doubt that, in publishing his late work, he believed he was the first discoverer of this law of Nature”, in response to Darwin’s claim that he had never heard of Matthew’s views? It is more likely, then, that the letter Hulbert saw was either a facsimile of a Beagle letter written to someone else, or was from the later (post 1860) private correspondence between Darwin and Matthew, and wrongly supposed by either Hulbert or the occupant of ‘Barns of Woodside’ to have been written on The Beagle.
Matthew Saga by documents in GD316/16, and in particular by gd316_16_26_00001_pm_immediatefamilytree1.jpg and gd316_16_26_00002_pm_immediatefamilytree2.jpg. It’s unclear who drew the tree and when, but it includes PM’s grandchildren so it is likely to be contemporaneous with that generation. The tree starts with PM’s paternal grandfather (also called Patrick Matthew), who had 6 children including John Matthew, father of PM. It appears that PM had 5 sisters: Margaret, Catherine, Euphemia, Jane and Agnes, but no brothers. It is known that PM and his wife Christian were first cousins (see, for example, Calman (1912)). In another example of a first-cousin marriage, PM’s sister Euphemia is marked as having married her cousin Thomas Patrick Matthew (son of John Matthew’s brother Thomas). There are no birth or death dates given in this tree.
We can now relate this tree to information on Patrick Matthew’s burial register. The photocopy of the page of the original register of burials in Errol burying ground indicates a “Jean Matthew (aunt of P.M.)”, who died 1847 aged 88. The tree (gd316_16_26_00002_pm_immediatefamilytree2.jpg) indicates a “Jane Matthew” as an aunt of PM. In Scotland “Jane” and “Jean” are fully interchangeable (see here). Likewise, in Scotland “Peter” and “Patrick” are also considered interchangeable (see here), which presumably explains the identity of “Peter Matthew, Esq. of Gourdiehill”, to whom the burial plot is registered.The immediate maternal family tree of Patrick Matthew can also be expanded by gd316_16_1_00001_milton_pittendruch_genealogy.jpg, which focuses on the connections between the “Milton of Forneth family” and the “Pittendruch family”. The first-cousin marriage between PM and Christian Nicol is shown in the bottom left. The tree suggests that Agnes and Euphemia may have been the only children of Alexander Duncan, which would have made PM’s marriage even more advantageous in terms of inheritance. However, the tree looks to be incomplete, so other siblings may have been left out. Indeed, the cover page (gd316_16_1_00002.jpg) specifically states: “Pittendruch Tree of Johnsons partly untrue”. The immediate maternal family tree of Patrick Matthew is also expanded by gd316_5_8_00001_euphemiaduncan_will_1859.jpg. This is the last will and testament of Euphemia Nicol née Duncan, mother of PM’s wife Christian Nicol and sister of PM’s mother Agnes. The document confirms and expands details given in Wulf Gerdts’ Matthew Saga, namely that Christian Nicol had three brothers Alexander, George and James, a sister Charlotte who married Thomas Anderson, and another sister Agnes Nicol who appears to have been very religious (see gd316_12_1_1_00001_agnesnicol_godlyletter.jpg, gd316_12_1_2_00001_agnesnicol_godlyletter.jpg and gd316_12_1_3_00001_agnesnicol_godlyletter.jpg). Interestingly, the Will also states (gd316_5_8_00002.jpg) that Euphemia Duncan’s “only other surviving daughter Mrs Christian Nicol or Matthew wife of Patrick Matthew of Gourdiehill” will not given a part of the Estate because “her said husband [PM] is a claimant along with me of part of the succession of the said deceased George Johnston Lindsay and she and her family are thereby adequately provided for”. Indeed, an addendum to the Will (gd316_5_8_00004.jpg) states that should any of Euphemia’s heirs “succeed in their own right or otherwise to any part or portion of the heritable or real Estate of the deceased George Johnston Lindsay” then such heirs are to be excluded from her Will. This suggests the Estate of George Johnston Lindsay must have been substantial. The Will (gd316_5_8_00001_euphemiaduncan_will_1859.jpg) states that George Johnston Lindsay is “of Kedlock”. gd316_16_1_00001_milton_pittendruch_genealogy.jpg indicates several George Johnston’s, including one (bottom left of tree) who is “of Kirkforthar & of Kedlock”.
gd316_16_7_00001_matthew_duncan_oliphant_genealogy1.jpg and gd316_16_7_00002_matthew_duncan_oliphant_genealogy2.jpg. As with the more immediate Matthew family tree, it’s unclear who drew the tree and when, or with what degree of certainty. gd316_16_7_00001_matthew_duncan_oliphant_genealogy1.jpg records the wedding of PM “of Gourdie Hill” in 1817 to “Christian Nicol daughter of Robert Nicol, Newburgh, and Euphemia Duncan daughter of Alexander Duncan of Gourdie Hill” (thus confirming that PM and Christian are first cousins, sharing the same grandparents (Alexander Duncan + Margaret) via their respective mothers. Note that gd316_16_6_00001.jpg also makes this connection, with the fair rider (given the source of information for this tree is unknown): “If all the tree is true”.
Higher up on gd316_16_7_00001_matthew_duncan_oliphant_genealogy1.jpg is noted the marriage (undated) of PM’s father John Matthew to “Agnes Duncan of Gourdie Hill”. Above that is noted the marriage (1760) of PM’s maternal grandparents – “Alexander Duncan of Gourdie Hill” and “Margaret Anderson daughter of Patrick Anderson merchant of Erroll.”gd316_16_7_00002_matthew_duncan_oliphant_genealogy2.jpg continues the Duncan line further back, through Francis Duncan (married 1711), George Duncan (married 1686) and “Peter Duncane” (1637) to “Robert Duncane”, for whom two marriages are recorded. The first (in 1614) to “Jenat Duncan daughter of Andro Duncan” and the second (in 1634) to “Christane Olyphant widow of Hew Lyell sometime in Carpow and sister to Lawrence Olyphant of Pitcaithly”. In an interesting twist, Peter Duncane is recorded as marrying (1637) “Lara Lyell daughter of Hew Lyell and Christane Olyphant”. However, this is a not an incestuous half-sibling marriage but rather a step-sibling marriage, because it happens only 3 years after the marriage of Christane to Robert Duncane, so Peter must therefore be the son of Robert and Jenat Duncan. Peter’s marriage to Lara Lyell is therefore important, because it is via Lara Lyell that the Matthew bloodline can presumably be traced back to Robert the Bruce. The document ends with a record of Robert Duncane’s father Peter Duncane (married 1584), and of his father John Duncane. The male-line Duncans and Duncanes are all declared to be “of Gourdie Hill”.
The link to Robert the Bruce is contained in the “Genealogie of the Lords Oliphant as it was written in the Castell of Duplin”, provided by Euphemia Matthew to Millar (1890) and also listed in GD316/10. Unfortunately, no dates are provided, but the genealogy notes the marriage of Sir Walter Oliphant to a daughter of “King Robert brucis”. Among the descendants are several called “Lawrence Lord Oliphant” or “Lawrence Master of Oliphant”, and one of these Lawrences is perhaps the “Lawrence Olyphant of Pitcaithly” who is referred to in gd316_16_7_00002_matthew_duncan_oliphant_genealogy2.jpg. Further proof of the Matthew connection to Robert the Bruce is apparently contained in the unpublished booklet The Matthew Ancestors written by Wulf Gerdts in collaboration with his father and grandfather in 1991. The booklet is mentioned in Wulf Gerdts’ unpublished Matthew Saga.
Calman (1912) noted: “The family tradition alluded to by Professor May, according to which the Matthews are descended from a sister of Robert Bruce, is declared by Miss [Euphemia] Matthew to be quite without foundation”. This is puzzling. How could Euphemia not know about the Robert the Bruce connection? Or, if she knew about it, how could she declare that it was “quite without foundation”? To be sure, the connection is actually direct to Robert the Bruce, not via his sister, but to declare it to be “quite without foundation” is odd. Was she winding Calman up? Had she taken a disliking to Calman (who appeared less than friendly to Matthew in a private letter)? Was Calman being obtuse? The mystery remains.
Calman (1912) also noted: “[Patrick Matthew’s] mother, Agnes Duncan, was related, though in what degree is not known, to the family of Admiral Duncan, the famous ancestor of the present Earl of Camperdown”. The relationship is still not known with 100% certainty, but notes on some possible links are provided by Howard Minnick here and here. See also “Naval connections”.
Documents in GD316/17, many of which are in PM’s own spidery handwriting, reveal important information about how the possession of Gourdie Hill passed to Patrick Matthew (PM). In brief, PM inherited Gourdie Hill in 1825, upon the death of his mother Agnes Duncan.1807. PM’s father John Matthew dies intestate (without a will) (see gd316_17_20_00001_discharge_euphemiamatthew1816.jpg: “died intestate upon the first day of November” 1807”). gd316_17_2_00001_johnmatthewrent1808.jpg reveals that John Matthew was a tenant farmer who paid annual rent to Alexander Duncan for both his farm at Rome (where PM was born) and the farm at Gourdie Hill. Specifically, gd316_17_2_00001_johnmatthewrent1808.jpg is a document from Alexander Duncan confirming the sum of £46 sterling was paid as rent for the farm at Rome by the “now deceased John Matthew”, as well as “six bolls of oat meal being the victual rent of his farm at Gourdiehill” for 1806, and another six bolls for 1807. The document is titled “Discharge of rent, Alex Duncan to the representatives of John Matthew”, and is dated 1808 (see gd316_17_2_00002.jpg). Since PM and his sisters Margaret and Catherine were under the age of 21 at the time, gd316_17_15_00001_act_of_curatory_unclepm1808.jpg details an Act of Curatory in which their interests as Minors were deferred to “Patrick Matthew, Tenant at Sherifftown” (gd316_17_15_00005.jpg). I expect this is PM’s uncle (see gd316_16_26_00002_pm_immediatefamilytree2.jpg) who later resided at New Milne and, it seems, continued to hold some authority over PM and his sisters (see gd316_17_11_00001_pm_to_his_unclepm_re_his_mothers_will_and_distribution_of_gourdiehill1825.jpg).
1816. PM’s maternal grandfather Alexander Duncan dies. It appears that possession of Gourdie Hill at this time passed on to Duncan’s daughter Agnes, mother of PM (see below). Perhaps there were no male heirs. Perhaps prompted by this,
gd316_17_20_00001_discharge_euphemiamatthew1816.jpg is a document from Euphemia Matthew, PM’s sister, allowing all her legal responsibilities to be transferred to PM. The document is titled “Discharge. Mrs Euphemia Matthew and husband to Mrs Agnes Matthew and others”, and is dated 1816 (gd316_17_20_00004.jpg).
Agnes dies sometime between 13th February (the date of her Will) and 16th October 1825. gd316_17_11_00001_pm_to_his_unclepm_re_his_mothers_will_and_distribution_of_gourdiehill1825.jpg (dated 16th October 1825) and gd316_17_12_00001_pm_to_euphemia_heritable_rights_1825.jpg (dated 2nd December 1825) provide details of the agreed settlement between PM and his sisters, giving PM “the right to the whole Heritable property” of Gourdie Hill.
1831 book)? His estate at Gourdie Hill was relatively small (see Matthew Jr (1885-06-16)), and was given over to orchards and farming, so where was the room for arboriculture? A small piece of evidence is provided in gd316_17_1_3_00002_accounts1824_wood_timber.jpg, which is the second page of a set of accounts for 1824. The accounts describe sums of money lent to Matthew, and the consequent interest owed. The second page describes the interest owed on goods that Matthew must have bought on loan, including wheat, barley and grain. Note that Matthew is described as a “grain dealer” when he goes bankrupt in 1848, which suggests that Matthew was making money from the buying and selling of produce, and not just from farming. In addition to wheat, barley and grain, Matthew records interest owed on “Dalguise wood”, “Highland timber” and “[?] & Gask timber”. I can’t make out “[?]”, but Dalguise and Gask are both forested locations in Perthshire. Could these be locations where Matthew acquired his expertise in arboriculture?
(2016-09-23) Joachim D. suggests that the “[?]” above may be “Imrie’s” (he also notes that “Gask” may be “Gask’s”). “Imrie” is a Scottish surname, and there are several place-names associated with the name, including Imrie House in Bridge of Earn, Perthshire.
(2017-06-14) Julian Derry suggests that “Imrie’s” is likely a reference to “John Imrie’s acres in Abernethy”, which is a land-holding in Perthshire (proprietor=“Ballomill”) listed in 1835 by “Rentall of the County of Perth, by act of the estates of parliament of Scotland, 4th August, 1649; contrasted with the valuation of the same county, 1st January, 1835” (Gloag, 1835). The same book also contains several references to “Gask”, including the Parish of Trinity Gask and Lawrence Olyphant of Gask.
Another question regarding Patrick Matthew’s 1831 book is why did he make it about the application of timber to shipbuilding, as opposed to some other angle? Did he simply see shipbuilding as evidently the most important field of application, allowing Britain to maintain its role as ruler of the waves and civiliser of the world (as he argues in his Introduction), or was there some other formative reason for why Matthew admired the British navy? Howard Minnick (see here) has suggested that there may have been a personal connection between Matthew and Admiral Adam Duncan (1731-1804), a renouned naval hero. Calman (1912) notes that the two were thought to be related “though in what degree is not known”. Minnick proposes that Matthew’s great-great grandfather George Duncan was Admiral Duncan’s uncle. Minnick further suggests that Matthew inherited Gourdiehill from Admiral Duncan (see here).
There is no evidence in what’s been uncovered in GD316 so far to support the idea that Admiral Duncan and Patrick Matthew knew each other personally, nor that Admiral Duncan was at any time involved in the estate of Gourdiehill. However, there is evidence to support the idea that there was a history of involvement with the British navy in the branch of the Duncan family who were Matthew’s direct ancestors, and that this history of involvement was respected. This is because letters pertaining to that involvement were preserved within the Duncan family records that were passed on to the Matthew family, and form part of GD316. Specifically, GD316/11 records the existence of letters recounting “Letters to Francis Duncan of Gourdiehill, mainly from his son Patrick Duncan, a ship’s surgeon. Including: account of Patrick’s first joining a ship, of a break-out by blacks from a factory on the Guinea Coast, and of shipwreck, 1734-40; three letters from his son Alexander Duncan, a seaman, referring to activity of press-gang”. See also gd316_16_2_00001_duncan_letters_notes.jpg and gd316_16_2_00002.jpg, which appear to be an index of these letters. The extent to which this may have influenced Patrick Matthew remains unknown, however.
gd316_17_23_1_00001_accounts1832_cholera.jpg is a letter describing the cholera epidemic that swept through Scotland in 1832. Unfortunately it’s not clear who the writer or the addressee are. The handwriting is not Patrick Matthew’s. However, the letter refers to “mother’s share” of the “moveable effects at Gourdie hill”, so perhaps the writer is one of PM’s sisters. The writer notes: “You will be well satisfied of having gone south as the cholera does not seem inclined to travel in that direction – we expect it in Perth & Dundee daily and have resolved to start for [?]-mouth as soon as it arrives – it is very deadly round Edinburgh & has shewn itself deadly contagious.”
In 1909, a retrospective by a friend of Patrick Matthew recalls: “There were also stories about Mr. Matthew at the time of the epidemic of cholera 60 years ago, how he took fright and went off to live in a travelling van to escape from the plague. Probably all such stories had little or no foundation in fact.”
The descriptions below are as provided by the National Records of Scotland: GD316 “Records of the Matthew family of Gourdiehill, Perthshire”. Currently, only scans for subsections GD316/5, GD316/12, GD316/15, GD316/16, and GD316/17 are available. The National Records of Scotland have kindly granted me permission to present these items on this website.
Miscellaneous titles, bonds, tacks and other legal and estate papers relating to the lands of Gourdiehill in parish of Errol, Perthshire, belonging to the Duncan family. 1643-1823, 19 items.
Miscellaneous titles, bonds and tacks relating to the Duncan family of and in Goddlieburn, Mains of Errol and others. 1676-1862, 6 items.
Bonds relating to the Duncan family. 1656-1774.
Assignations and discharges, mainly relating to the Duncan family. 1660-1828, 18 items.
For materials in this section, see GD316 > GD316/4/1.
Testaments and dispositions of the Duncan family, including an account of expense of confirming the testament of Francis Duncan of Gourdiehill, 1760. 1662-1860, 19 items.
Marriage contracts and others, mainly concerning the Duncan and Dickson families. 1580-1720.
Legal and other papers, including: Letter of presentation by Thomas Hay of Balhousie of George Moncreiffe his chamberlain to the chaplainry of Aberdagie, 2 Apr 1683; Agreement between the parties that the true intent of the above transaction was that the stipend should be available to the kirk session of Aberdagie for maintenance of a schoolmaster, 28 May 1683; apprentice indenture of Francis Duncan to William Read, merchant in Dundee, 9 Aug 1703. 1658-1835, 16 items.
Bonds and discharges, including discharges for feu and tack duties, and including: papers relating to a mortification by Mr Samuel Nairn, in his wife’s name, to the kirk session of Erroll and a bond granted by George Duncan in seaside thereon, 1697. 1587-1717, 44 items.
Papers mainly relating to Francis Duncan of Gourdiehill, his eldest son Alexander and younger son Andrew, brewer in Dundee, 1760-91, but also concerning earlier members of the family in Seaside and Gourdiehill. 1714-1791, 28 items.
Miscellaneous papers (mainly tacks), mainly relating to the Duncan family. Including: acrostic on names of Master James Duncan and Marjorie Pay, with respectful Latin letter to him on regaining his health, 17 Oct 1650; copy Remonstrance by the Committee of Estates to the gentlemen, commanders and ministers attending the forces in the West, 1650; two copies of Wariston’s speech from the scaffold, 22 July 1663; inventory of the biggins of Seaside (house of hall, kitchen and several chambers; a house ‘of three trees’ at the west side of the close, also stable, byres, swine house, barn and peise barn, and several cottar or like houses), with estimate (in bolls meal) for repair; page of court book of Alexander Duncan of Lundie, 7 July 1709; inventory of evidents of houses of Robert Duncan in Kirktoun of Erroll, held by him of Northesk, c.1706; ‘The Genealogie of the Lord Oliphant as it was written in the castell of Duplin’ [17 cent.]; disposition of a seat in Aberdagie church, 3 Oct. 1691; list of the ‘barron trees’ on the lands of Gourdiehill, 6 June 1701; copy or draft letter as to the effects of George Duncan, Jamaica, 1763; [Hay of] Balhousie’s letter to Mr James Duncan ‘anent the making of Thomas Keltie’s compts after his death’, 15 Feb 1679; notebook of scriptural computation by Andrew Duncan, 1698, containing lock of hair; ‘List of poll money upon the lands of Seasyde [Seaside], Achinvy and Gourdiehill in the parish of Erroll belonging to the laird of Lundie’ . 1650-, 29 items.
Letters to Francis Duncan of Gourdiehill, mainly from his son Patrick Duncan, a ship’s surgeon. Including: account of Patrick’s first joining a ship, of a break-out by blacks from a factory on the Guinea Coast, and of shipwreck, 1734-40; three letters from his son Alexander Duncan, a seaman, referring to activity of press-gang (War of Austrian Succession) and enquiring (June 1746) about a report that 20,000 men had landed in Scotland with the Pretender, 1744-6; letters from James Johnston, London, concerning his third son, Francis, 1739; letters from Patrick Johnston, Auchterhouse, on legal and estate affairs, 1731. 1731-1746, 21 items.
Letters and papers of the Matthew and Nicol families (mainly from Thomas Matthew, c.1823). Including: an account for silver spoons, 1819; account ‘for leys stocking, Mr P Playfair to Mr Nicol’, 1827; account and inventory of the estate of John Matthew, tenant in Rome, who died 1 Nov 1807; Agnes Nicol’s Act of Dedication and accompanying prayer [1826?]. 1807-1884, 36 items.
As in GD316/13 (mainly relating to the financial affairs of Euphemia Matthew, 1904-13). 1894-1913, 22 items.
Papers (mainly undated) relating to the Matthew Family, mainly copies of verses (English, German and Spanish) and knitting [?], lace, and cake-icing recipes, probably all belonging to Agnes Matthew,1840. c1840-1890.
Miscellaneous papers mainly relating to the Matthew family. 1799-1863.
Family trees and other genealogical papers relating mainly to Johnston, Nicol and Matthew families, and covering c.1590-1880, but mainly 1740-1880. 33 items.
Papers (mainly c.1825) relating to the financial affairs of the Matthew family of Gourdiehill, 1808-30 and n.d., including inventory of an unspecified house. 1808-1830, 22 items.
Two ‘Diaries’: (1) 1764-8 and 1762-3 (written from back), and (2) 1762-82. Both relate dreams and reflections on Scripture etc. 1762-1782.
Autographs: Andre Maginot; President Kruger (1891); Field- Marshal Weygand (on note to Lt. Col. Haig, authorising him to visit French lines at Nieuport); Sir Douglas Haig (letter to his brother, commenting on the situation at Ypres, 6 Nov 1914); J C Smuts. 19th century-20th century.
Photocopies of papers from the above bundles and from others not now in the collection. Including Confirmation by Roger, bishop elect of St Andrews, to Galfrid de Pert of the church of Rossinclerach (with seal), quoted by Laing as being in General Hutton’s collection and dated 1188. Note that typescripts of this item, and that of a letter by J W Smith, Camp Pratt, 1863 (see GD316/15) are not accurate. List of ‘Sundry letters and other papers, Duncan Archives’. 20th Century.
Correspondence (4 letters) of the Rev. Wilfred Hulbert in connection with the documents – with old lists and notes concerning the documents. 1955-1964.
For materials in this section, see GD316 > GD316/21.
Page created 12 September 2016
Last modified 3 July 2018