The Barclays of Urie

At a recent Stonehaven Rotary Club meeting, member Graham McIntosh M.B.E. gave an extremely interesting and informative talk on the Barclays of Stonehaven focusing on four important members of the family.

The first was David Barclay who lived between 1610 and 1686 who purchased Urie in 1648 and was married to Katherine Gordon of Gourdonstoun who was a second cousin of James V1 of Scotland. After spending some time in Sweden as a soldier of fortune he returned to England and fought for Charles 1 in the Civil war. He was later imprisoned after being suspected of treason but was pardoned and given the Barony of Ury.

Whilst in prison he became a Quaker and was persecuted repeatedly for his beliefs before dying of a fever.

The next Barclay we heard about was another David known as “The Apologist.” He was another Quaker and was famous for walking through Aberdeen in sackcloth and ashes and also for writing a treatise called “The Apology” which became a standard for Quakerism.

He traveled extensively through Europe and North America and was a friend of William Penn of Pennsylvania and became Governor of East Jersey in 1882. He actively encouraged other Quakers who were being persecuted to emigrate to America and was well known for disturbing church services at Fettereso at Kirktown. He also died of a fever in 1690.

The next Barclay we heard about was Robert who lived between 1731 and 1797 also known as “The Improver” and he was considered as the greatest Barclay.

He purchased the Arduthie Estate and almost single handedly improved it from a wasteland of bogs, cairns and moorland to land which was capable of growing corn and was one of the first to grow turnips in Scotland. He also traveled the country extensively learning all the latest agricultural techniques

He was a gifted scholar who made a fortune in Jamaica before returning to Scotland where he became an MP till his death due to a kick in the head from a horse.

However he is best known for planning and founding the town of Stonehaven as we know it today with it’s broad streets laid out in a grid pattern much as is seen in America today, and of course the street names we know so well named after his children and family, including, Barclay, Allardice, Robert, Ann, Rodney, David, Mary, Cameron, Margaret, Hudson and Courtney.

The last Barclay we heard about was another Robert known as “The Pedestrian”.

He married Sarah the daughter of James Allardice who was the last in line of his family. He became Laird in 1797 and also joined the Gordon Highlanders.

Robert was an outstanding athlete who trained and sponsored the famous boxer Tom Cribb and was also well known for his feats in walking long distances often for a bet.

He also introduced the first herd of shorthorn cows to Scotland and built Glenury Royal Distillery as a market for barley after the Peninsular War.

In all a fascinating tale of a Stonehaven family who traveled extensively and gave us the town we know today.

The vote of thanks was by President Helen Smith.