Robert Durie of Durie

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Robert Durie of Durie (ca. 1492-ca. 1554)

Robert Durie of Durie is often misnamed "Lord" Robert Durie (a misunderstanding of the Latin "Dominus Robert Durie de Eodem, militis" which means "Sir Robert Durie of that Ilk, knight". But that is also wrong - the knight was his great-great-grandfather Sir John de Dury (Bef. 1406- aft 1449).

Click to enlarge

Robert was the eldest son of John Durie of that Ilk and therefore inherited the lands of Durie (in Scoonie). Like his brothers Bishop Andrew and Abbot George Durie, he was a nephew of Archbishop James Beaton. It is interesting that this Arran who arrested him was James Hamilton of Chatelherault, and second in line to the throne (Knox says). Thus, it's fair to say that the Duries (favourites of James V and the Catholic monarchy) and the Hamiltons (Lords of Arran, one of whom George Durie had had executed) were in a high political and religious struggle.

Robert Durie of Durie was arrested by Arran for helping the French (with the Lords of Seafield, Balgonie and Wemyss), but they were set free "upon conditions they were never minded to keep" according to John Knox. Robert de Dury carried a letter from Archbishop David Beaton (Mary Queen of Scots' Ambassador in Paris and a relative of James Beaton and thus of the Duries) to Mary, on 27 January 1567.

His daughter, Jonet Durie, married Henry Kemp, who was required to change his name to Durie and thus preserved the lineage.

Sadly, the grandson of Jonet and Henry, also Robert Durie of that Ilk, lost or sold the lands and barony to Sir Alexander Gibson, who later took the judicial title Lord Durie.

The Family Relationships Between Beatons & Duries

Descendants of John Betoun, 5th of Balfour
Descendants of John Betoun, 5th of Balfour
Retours (land inheritance records)
showing the succession

Jonet passed the lands to her eldest son, David, in 1556/57 but David seems to have given them almost immediately to his son, Robert. Janet died in 1575 and David in 1597 (from his testament dative, confirmed in 1601). In 1614, Robert Durie arranged a Retour as heir to David and also tidied up a previous generation’s land assignments, in preparation for a sale.

Robert was by now living at Scottscraig, near St. Andrews and was no longer occupying the Durie lands, which were subinfeudated to the Ramsay family. The reason is unclear (Robert seems to have been in debt to Ramsay and to his cousin James Durie of Craigluscar), but he decided to sell Durie to Alexander Gibson of Liberton (ca. 1576 – 10 Jun 1644), a Clerk of Session and thereafter Lord President of the Session, one of the most senior Judges in Scotland. The sum paid was “three score three thousand [blank]”. If this is 63,000 Pound Scots (£5,250 sterling) or 63,000 Merks (£3,500 sterling) it approximates to half a million pounds in today’s terms.

Gibson took possession of the manor place of Durie on 25 July 1614 and as soon as he could, adopted the judicial title Lord Durie. Robert’s last act was to write to His Lordship in 1618 to warn him off signing himself “Durie” as he, Robert, considered himself “Durie of that Ilk” (which he wasn't). His grandson later sold the Durie lands and barony to the Christie family, who are still there.

Robert and his wife Margaret Stewart of Rosyth had at least five sons (including William and George) and three daughters (including Magdalene). In 1615, George gave up Scottscraig to Lord (George) Ramsay of Dalhousie. The link with Durie land, and the barony, was over.


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