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King James VI. having, according to Jervise, united the remaining lands and baronies of the monastery into temporary lordship, conferred them on 20th December 1607, with the title of Lord Cupar, upon James Elphinstone, second son of the first Lord Balmerino. Lord Cupar died some sixty years afterwards, and having no family, the title and estates devolved on his nephew, the third Lord Balmerino. This nobleman having joined the standard of the Pretender, the temporal lordship of Cupar, together with the patrimonial estates of the family, were forfeited to the crown in 1746.
The office of hereditary bailie of the regality of the Abbey, was conferred by Abbot Donald, in 1540, upon James, Lord Ogilvy. The Earl of Airlie, in whose family the office had continuously remained, received £800, in compensation for the loss of this distinction, when, in 1747, heritable jurisdictions were formally abolished.
In the Ogilvy family also was vested the office of heritable porter or gate-keeper to the Abbey of Cupar. The earliest appointment to this office, was made by the Convent in the time of Abbot John, a charter being then granted to John Porter, of the office of porter of the Monastery. This office became vested in the Ogilvys in 1589, a contract having on the 12th March of that year, been entered into between William Ogilvy of Easter Keilor, and “John Faryar," porter of the Abbey, the adopted son of Robert Porter, anent the office of porter of the monastery, cell, and porter lodge, and pension of 55 merks, &c. This was followed by a charter of the office, by the said "John Faryar," or "John Fairhar," with consent of Robert Porter, to William and Archibald Ogilvy in life-rent and fee, dated 26th May 1590. (Breviarium Antiqui Registri de Cupro in Anegus.)
After passing through a great many vicissitudes of fortune, such as feuds in the year 1478, with Alexander Guthrie of that ilk, for trying to evade the payment of thirlage "anent a milne biggit on the landis of Kyncaldrum, and holdin of the multers of the corns of the samyn;" in the following year
with Alexander Lindsay, son of the Earl of Crawford, for, "the taking and halding of twa monkis of the said Abbey, (of Cupar) and spulzeing of thair horses parking at thair place, and chusing of thair servandis;"-and some years subsequently with Robert Hay, son of Tullymet, who had, with a number of associates, harried their lands of Pert of "five skore ky and oxen, and four hors and meris," all taken from "the hirddis, seruandis, and tenentis of the landis of the convent; " the Abbey's affairs got into a more settled state in the time of Abbot William, and the brotherhood found sufficient leisure to direct its attention towards the practical improvement of its valuable property.
Tacks of land were granted in liferent to John Pylmore, and his wife, Catherine Nicholson, and, "to ane ayr maill lachfully gottin betwiex thaim tua." The lands were contiguous to Cupar, then called "our burgh of Kethik ;" and the tenants were to have right to "fewell in our Monkmuir, as we sall assygn to thaim, with tua Kyis gyrs in the commonties of Baitchelhill and Gallweaw, fail and dowet, with discretion as effeirs." They also bound themselves to "put the said toft, zard, and crofts, till all possibyl policy in biggyn, of gud and sufficiand zeird houses for haw, chawmerys, and stabuls, to resave and herbry to the nowmer of xij or xvj horses honestly as effeirs, for hors meit and manns meit, sua that of reson thar be sein na fault in thaim; plantand fret tris with thair defensours; and they sall keip our medowis, wards, and broumer parks frae thaimself and thair catel, under pain as efferis." The Abbey bound itself, on the other hand, to protect and defend the tenants, and "the langest liffer of thaim, but fraud or gyle." (Spalding Club Miscell.)
The tenant of Campsie, in the parish of Cargill, Alexander Macbroke, advocate, besides an annual money rent of twenty pounds Scots, was bound to make payments in kind to the Abbot and convent, of "four dozen poultrie, with all aryage, and carriage," &c., and on receiving twenty four hours' warning, he had to "find ane sufficient rowar to the fishing of
Neither Campsey, with an carriage man to bring hame the fishe frae the samyn; with sufficient wax to St Hannand's lyght and chapel And also, that the said place should at all times be patent and ready to him and his successors, brethren, and familie, as often as should happen him, or any of them to come therto, furnisht with four feddir beddis, and four other beddis, convenient for servandes, with all the sundry necessaries pertaining to said awcht beddis; and also upholding said place of Campsey in sclates, and biggin; and attour, finding burd claithis, towalis, pottes, pannys, plates, dishes, and other necessaries convenient for his hall, kitchen, panntre, bakehouse, brewhouse, and celler, as effeirs to his honesty and familie alenarlie, with elden of sawn wood and browme.” Old Stat. Acct. of Scot.)
The extent of the Abbey buildings must have been great, and its external appearance imposingly grand, as were all the monasteries of Scotland in the heyday of the Papal jurisdiction. Fanciful plans of the edifice were constructed by a working mason some hundred and twenty years after,—when according to Spottiswoode, the abbey was "nothing but rubbish.” The only fragment of the building now remaining stands at the south-west corner of the churchyard, a venerable and much-prized relic, as this ivy-covered archway, some old stone coffins, imperfect pieces of pillars, and a few mutilated patches of ornamental masonry in the Early English and decorated styles of architecture, are all that remain of the once famous and magnificent Abbey of Cupar. It is understood to have been one of the first monastic houses destroyed in Scotland. But painfully complete as was its destruction by the infuriated biggots of the fanatical John Knox, under whose ill-timed orders they acted; the good citizens of Cupar ruthlessly demolished what remained, including an arch of singular beauty, and other valuable relics-" for the purpose," as Dr Stevenson informs us, "of furnishing stones for building the present church!" Worse than this, it was literally turned into a quarry; from which unhallowed hands sacrilegiously
carried off the precious remains wherewith to build, forsooth! the ungainly houses and garden walls of the burghers! Many ancient carved stones may yet be seen built into dykes and ruinous walls throughout the town, very sad and deeply instructive memorials of the past. A finely cut shield also, bearing the royal lion of Scotland in excellent preservation, forms part of a common wall opposite the parish church, on the west side of the turnpike road leading to Dundee.
When last in Cupar, an old residenter of the town related to me the following tradition. An underground communication formerly existed between the solitary remaining arch of the ancient Abbey, already alluded to, and the neighbouring south-western Sidlaws. It was discovered by some workmen who were employed in the construction of a very deep drain, somewhere between the extreme points of the subterraneous roadway. One of the workmen more courageous than the rest, volunteered to explore the tunnel to the north, which he found to terminate immediately beneath the old crumbling archway; from which exploration he returned skaithless to his anxious and wonder-stricken comrades. Emboldened by his first successful attempt to unravel the mystery, he had the hardihood to attempt a solution of the remaining part of the mystical passage; and for this purpose to the great regret and consternation of his fellows, he fearlessly entered the dark unknown pathway leading to the south. All that day and night, and many succeeding days and nights they, as well as others, patiently watched and waited for his return.
He never returned! Whether killed outright by the noxious vapours of the vault, or spirited away by the Evil One, as a punishment for his temerity, tradition averreth not. After a long time of weary watching, the entrance to the dreaded tunnel was, with fear and trembling, closed for ever, and the poor forlorn voyageur left mournfully to his fate!
"Can we love Nature over-much? In youth,
Upon her rich vermillion lips, aglow,
WE shall now leave the shadow of the grand old Abbey of Cupar, and proceed to the quiet sequestered village of Kettins in its immediate vicinity. Part of this parish is situated in Forfarshire, and part in Perthshire, its whole extent stretering along the southern part of the valley of Strathmore, at the base of the Sidlaw hills. The situation and surroundings of the village are extremely beautiful. Standing on the bridge, beneath which the placid streamlet runs gently on in its winding course to the Isla, the scene presented to the eye on a cloudless summer evening-the pretty little cottages with their flower and kitchen gardens; the tree-embossomed villa of Newhall on our left, the old-fashioned church and manse on our right; the finely wooded surroundings of Haliburton House in the distance; with the sweet begowaned village green between-could scarcely be surpassed for rich luxuriant beauty