The McLeans of Pitilie and Borlick Farms

This section is included courtesy of Susan MacDonald who is descended from Laughlan McLean.

Lauchlan came from Braes of Foss and, according to the family gravestone in Kenmore Churchyard, was born in 1727, and died in 1824. This does seem unlikely, as he would have lived to be almost 100, and not married until he was 48. Perhaps he was born in 1747. Still, whatever year he was born, he would have arrived in a very different country to the one we know now.

Scotland had been ruled from Westminster since the union of the Parliaments in 1707, and after the uprising in 1715 by “The Old Pretender”, Bonnie Prince Charlie’s father, the government had ordered General Wade to go to the Highlands. Wade was charged with building roads and bridges, and had arrived in Perthshire. He built the bridge over the river Tay at Aberfeldy, in 1733, and the first roads he made were from Dunkeld to Dalnacardoch, now part of the A9, and from Crieff, through Aberfeldy and up by Tummel, to meet up with the road from Dunkeld.

It is hard to imagine that Bonnie Prince Charlie was still trying to make a claim to the throne of Scotland, and that his defeat at Culloden came when Lauchlan was only 2 years old. Perhaps family and lands were lost, but Lauchlan became a minister’s man.
However, he must have longed to be back on the land, for he accepted the tenancy of Pitilie farm, some 20 miles away, and prepared for his journey to his new home.

The road for Lauchlan would have been good, and well maintained, as he travelled down to Coshieville, which had been built as a barracks for Wade’s men. No doubt he looked over the burn to Garth Castle, before going along the valley, past Dull, with its ancient church, and on to Weem. Castle Menzies stood proud on his left, and the church and Inn, where Wade and his men stayed, ensured Weem was a busy little town. Markets were held there, so perhaps he stopped to buy some provisions for the rest of his journey. There was little to be had in Aberfeldy though, since the bridge had been completed, a few more houses had appeared, and Wade’s new road would have taken him almost to the door of Pitilie.

Pitilie was owned by the Menzieses till 1771, when it was sold to the Breadalbane Estate. The area was well populated with Murthly Farm, and Borlick close by, and 24 families living in the immediate neighbourhood.

The rent for Pitilie had been set in 1763 at £7.2/6d, and hard work would be needed to ensure it could be paid. A plough was often shared among 4 farms, and only a horse needed to join the horse gang. No doubt other things could be borrowed or bought.

But what does a farmer need? A wife! In 1775 Lauchlan married Helen Campbell. Her father, Archibald Campbell, had married Mary McLean in 1741and she was born in 1749. Perhaps she was a distant cousin. Sometimes called Helen but often known as Nelly or Lilly, she and Lauchlan settled down at Pitilie and raised 8 children.

Alexander, the eldest, never married and continued to farm at Pitilie with Archibald, and Peter, who married Janet Dewar in 1804, moved down to Borlick.

Archibald married Ann McGregor, and Catherine, married James Ferguson of Duireaskin. Robert, born 1809, became a ship’s surgeon.

McLean headstoneLauchlan died in 1824 and Helen in 1826. Both were buried in the churchyard at Kenmore, there being no cemetery in Aberfeldy till 1893.

Thereafter the family continued to use the graveyard at Kenmore Church, but although all their names are on the gravestones, they are not all are buried there.

Before moving on to the next generation perhaps we should wander down to Borlick and see what has been happening there.

Peter McLean, who was also known as Patrick, had taken over the tenancy of Borlick Farm and in September 1804 he married Janet Dewar from Weem. She was born in 1782, a daughter of Robert Dewar and Christian McDonald. Like his brother up at Pitilie they had a large family, and many of them had the same names. The first was Archibald, born in 1805. He must have died as an infant, as another Archibald was born in 1806. He was followed by Alexander in 1807, Robert 1809, Mary 1813, John 1815, James 1817, Margaret 1820, and Christian in 1825.

Mary married Alexander Fisher from Murthly in 1837. He was the son of Peter Fisher and Elizabeth Dewar so, since her mother was a Dewar, perhaps again, they were distant cousins.

Page last updated - 27/11/16