an estate in the Scottish region of Perth and
a property belonging to the Moray or Murray
family in the late 13th century, however it was
demolished in the 19th century and replaced with
a new house which was itself demolished and
replaced in the 20th century.
The “old house”
was described, in 1883, as having been “situated
a little to the south-east of the present
building, and on the south side of the lake….The
older part of this house was baronial in
character, but latterly, from the many additions
and alterations which had been made upon it, the
design was considerably mixed”. This may suggest
that some of the house dated to the sixteenth or
The lands of
Abercairny first seem to be mentioned in the
early 13th century when they were in the
possession of Ysenda of Kinbuck, sister of Sir
Richard and Geoffrey of Gask. Ysenda was the
second wife of Gille Brigte or Gilbert, Earl of
Strathearn. Sometime between 1221 and 1223
Ysenda gave 5 acres of her land at Abercairny to
and Ysenda not having any children Abercairny
seems to have become a property of the Earls of
Strathearn, passing down the line of Gilbert’s
children from his first marriage to Matilda or
Maud, the daughter of William d’Aubigny, 3rd
Earl of Arundel.
great-great-great-granddaughter Mary or Maria,
daughter of Malise IV, Earl of Strathearn,
married Sir John Moray of Drumsargard, grandson
of the celebrated Andrew de Moray, Abercairny
was given as a dowry along with the lands of
Ogilvie and Glenservy.
The date of
their marriage is given variously as 1299 or
between 1319 and 1322, the later dates seeming
more likely, and some sources refer to the lands
being given in 1320. A charter confirming the
lands to them was issued by her brother, Malise
V, around 1330 soon after he succeeded their
father as Earl of Strathearn.
When the first
building was constructed at Abercairny, or what
form it took, doesn’t seem to be known, although
it seems entirely plausible that there would be
a defensible property there in the 13th or 14th
centuries. At that time the surrounding area was
marshy, offering a further degree of protection.
There is some
confusion regarding the lineage from Sir John
and Mary, but what is known is that a Maurice
Moray, or Maurice de Moravia, succeeded to
Abercairny. He is variously described as the son
of Sir John and Mary or the son of Sir John and
his unnamed first wife.
married, possibly in 1339, a woman named Joan,
Joanna or Johanna. She is described in some
sources as the Countess of Strathearn and in
others as the daughter of Sir John Menteith of
Rusky, but these may be two different people.
In 1629 Sir
William was served heir to his younger brother,
Sir David Murray of Gorthy, when he died without
issue. Sir William sold the lands of Gorthy to
George Graeme, Bishop of Orkney and former
Bishop of Dunblane, the younger son of George
Graeme of Inchbraikie, and his eldest son David
Graeme in 1631.
married Christian, daughter of Sir Laurence
Mercer of Aldie. Their daughter, Mary, married
Patrick Murray of Ochtertyre, and Mary and
Patrick’s second son, James, minister of
Logierait, was given the lands of Wester
Dollerie, becoming the ancestor of the Murrays
of Dollerie. Easter Dollerie subsequently became
the property of the Murrays of Abercairny.
Moray of Ogilvie, the son of Sir William and
Christian, predeceased his father and Abercairny
passed to his son, also William, upon Sir
William’s death in 1640. The younger William
died just two years later however and Abercairny
passed to his eldest son, Sir Robert, by his
wife Ann, daughter of George Hay of Keillour.
There are three
sundials at Abercairny which may all date from
this period, one of which now stands in the 19th
century walled garden to the north of the new
confusion stems from the fact that Maurice’s
grandfather, Malise IV, had also been married to
a woman named Joan, and some authors have
suggested that his grandson’s wife was one and
the same although this seems highly unlikely.
created Earl of Strathearn in 1343, by David II,
Maurice’s uncle Malise V having forfeited the
earldom for opposing Edward Balliol, but died at
the battle of Durham in 1346. Maurice’s brother,
Sir Alexander Moray, was served heir to their
father in 1349, and Abercairny next passed to
Sir Alexander’s son, Sir Andrew Moray, the
product of his marriage to Janet or Joanna,
daughter of William, 5th Earl of Ross. Sir
Andrew married Agnes, daughter of Sir Humphry
Cunningham of Glengarnock and Abercairny passed
to their son, Sir Humphrey Moray, in the
married Katherine, sister of Patrick Graham, 1st
Lord Graham, and their son, Andrew Moray,
succeeded his father in 1504. However Andrew and
his son, George, were both killed at Flodden in
1513 and Abercairny passed to George’s son, John
Moray, who himself was killed at Pinkie. John
had married his first cousin twice removed,
Nicola, daughter of William Graham, 2nd Earl of
Montrose, in 1539 and upon his death Abercairny
passed to their son, William Moray.
In 1553 William
married Margaret, daughter of Laurence Oliphant,
3rd Lord Oliphant, but five years later he died
and was succeeded by his brother, Robert Moray.
Robert married Catherine or Katherine, the third
daughter of Sir William Murray of Tullibardine,
in 1560. Abercairny passed to their first son,
Sir William, following Robert’s death in 1594.
probable late 16th century map of Strathearn
Abercairny seems to be marked as Akerny.
A tall 17th
century lectern-type doocot stands around 1200
meters to the north-west of the site of the
original Abercairny and has been associated with
Abercairny however it is actually closer to,
although still some distance from, the site of
Inchbraikie Castle. The doocot is also to the
west of the Muckle Burn and the Beech Avenue
which once formed the boundary between the
Inchbraikie and Abercairny estates.
married Anne or Anna, daughter of Patrick Graeme
of Inchbraikie, and upon his death in 1704
Abercairny passed to their son, William.
William, who sold the lands and barony of
Ogilvie to Mungo Graeme of Gorthy in 1707, died
in 1735 and was succeeded by his son, James.
family were loyal to the Stuart cause but didn’t
play an active role in the Jacobite risings and
so held onto their estates. Between 1737 and
1738 extensive repairs were carried out on
Abercairny for James by the architect John
Douglas, and between 1755 and 1759 Charles
Freebairn created a new dining room.
married Christian, the sixth daughter of
Alexander Montgomery, 9th Earl of Eglinton, in
1737 and Abercairny passed to their second son,
Alexander, following James’ death in 1778.
However Alexander died without issue and was
succeeded by his younger brother, Colonel
Charles Moray, in 1784 or 1786. Charles had
married Anne, the eldest daughter of Sir William
Stirling of Ardoch, in 1778 and as well as
adding the Ardoch lands to his own he also added
the Stirling name to become Colonel Charles
set about improving Abercairny, with plans drawn
up in 1793 to improve the estate. In 1796 the
architect John Paterson was asked to design a
new house but this work seems not to have been
completed and instead he only provided plans for
an oval dining room in the old house which also
weren’t executed. The architects Archibald Eliot
and Charles Tatham were next to be tasked with
designing a new house, but instead Richard
Crichton was employed to create it.
Early in the
19th century Abercairny, which latterly had been
occupied by farm workers, was demolished. It was
replaced by a new house; a long three story
mansion situated on a new site around 600 meters
to the north-west.
Work began in
1804 but when Moray Stirling died in 1810 the
building was still an unfinished shell. His son,
Colonel James Moray, inherited the project and
considerable debts from his father. By 1814 his
situation had improved and he assumed the role
of client. However in 1817 Crichton died and the
work was continued by his nephews and
apprentices Richard and Robert Dickson from 1820
to 1823 and from 1826 to 1835.
without issue in 1840 but the work continued
into the 1840s for his brother and heir Major
William Moray-Stirling, with a stable block
added to the north-east of the new house.
time the last remnants of the old house were
removed. The trunk of an ancient ash tree, which
stood just to the west of the old house, marked
the site until it finally fell in October 1882.
The tree had originally been around 27 meters in
height and was thought to be some 300 years old.
William’s death in 1850 the Abercairny and
Ardoch estates passed first to his sister,
Christian, and her husband Henry Home-Drummond
of Blair Drummond then upon her death in 1864 to
their son Charles Stirling Home Drummond Moray.
Charles improved the estate considerably and was
responsible for a four story castellated Gothic
tower being added to the east end of the mansion
by the architect Robert Thornton Shiells in
interest in the Gothic style at its height, the
family flirted with the idea of calling the
building Abercairny Abbey or Abercairny Castle,
but neither name stuck and it was simply
referred to as Abercairny.
death of Charles’ brother, George Home-Drummond
of Blair Drummond and Ardoch, in 1876 those
estates were inherited by the Abercairny branch
of the family. In 1882 Charles bought the estate
of Inchbraikie from his neighbor and relative
Patrick Graeme, who had inherited it along with
considerable debt from his father.
died in 1891, Blair Drummond and Ardoch passed
to his eldest son Henry Edward Stirling
Home-Drummond (who dropped the Moray from his
surname) and Abercairny to his youngest son,
William Augustus Home-Drummond Moray.
War II Abercairny was used as a hospital and by
1960 was in such a poor condition that Charles’
grandson, Major W.S. Drummond Moray, decided to
demolish it. A smaller replacement house,
designed in the neo-Georgian style by Claud
Phillimore, was built on the same site, taking
advantage of its position in the grounds, which
are considered to be an important example of a
late 18th and early 19th century designed
The site of the
original Abercairny property is marked by the
convergence of two avenues of trees, around 600
meters south-east of the new house. The estate
is still home to the Moray family, their tenure
stretching back more than 700 years.