I am delighted to receive a letter from an eminent local historian not only confirming but expanding my tale about the Baronetcy of Blairquhan between MacWhurter and Kennedy.
Apparantly Sir Ulrich MacWhurter, after winning the race to become Baron, so upset his neighbours that they petitioned the King to have him removed. MacWhurter had received a knighthood from the King of France for some valorous action and could no doubt prove a difficult person to subdue The Scot’s King sent a body of armed men to arrest Sir Ulrich McWhurter and take him to Edinburgh for trial. However on the road there he fell upon the sword of his arresting officer John Kennedy his rival for Blaiquharen and died.
Some feel that this was in accordance with the King’s wishes as John Kennedy was given the Barony of Blairquhan and the matter closed to the satisfaction of all. Well well, they obviously had a very definitive way of disposing of difficult opponents in those days.
This story has been confirmed by no less a person than the late James Hunter-Blair of Blaiquhan. My thanks for the interest shown in my articles by people of note.
Now let us leave castles awhile and turn to ghosties, ghoulies and suchlike. The story evolves around one of the Kennedy family who fought at Flanders in the fourteenth century. As the laird was preparing to leave Culzean a small boy appeared at the gate carrying a pitcher and asked for ale for his ailing mother.
The laird was a generous man and told the lad to take the pitcher up to the castle and tell his butler to fill it with ale. This was done and the lad thanked the butler and the kitchen maid and hurried off. Some time later the laird was taken prisoner at Flanders and sentenced to die on the gallows. The night before he was due to die the cell door swung open and there stood the same young lad who had asked for and received ale. The lad said he should go, so up jumped the laird for the young lad to throw him over his shoulder and take him back to the place where they had first met which was the gate to Culzean.
he young lad who it transpired was an elf said ‘Ane guid turn deserves anither, Tak ye that for being sae kind tae my auld mither’. And then vanished. The moral of this tale is to always do a good turn if possible as you pass through life, you may not be able to recognize an elf until it is too late,
I am sure that you know what a mermaid is, half woman the other half fish. Well apparently one used to live in the River Stincher by Knockdolian castle near Colmonell. At night the mermaid would make for a large black stone where she would sit, comb her long hair and sing. The singing kept the son of the lady of the castle awake so she sent men to destroy the rock. When the mermaid found her perch missing she somberly intoned ‘ Ye may think on your cradle-I’ll think on my stane, And there will never be an heir to Knockdolian again.’
The mother ran up to find the cot her son was in overturned and the baby dead. The male line of the family died out and the castle and estate therefore had to pass through the female line..
What a weird and wonderful world we live in, you wonder at the fertility of the minds of people of long ago who devised these tales and no doubt sat around a ‘bleezing fire’ telling them to a rapt audience. They would no doubt repeat and enhance them in the future telling so that we may enjoy them too, and wonder at what went on in those far off days. Perhaps someone is conjuring up tales about us to pass on to future generations. You never know!