Mains of Murthly, Borlick and Pitilie

The Mains of Murthly is a farm behind the distillery on the eastern edge of Aberfeldy and close to the farms Borlick and Pitilie. At one time it formed part of the small estate of Murthly which for many years was an adjunct of the Cistercian monastery which was founded and endowed at Coupar Angus by Malcolm 4th in 1164, being granted to the monks there by Isabel, Countess of Atholl, as long ago as 1232. When the abbey lands became secularised the property passed through various hands and finally by the Menzies of Weem to the third Earl of Breadalbane in 1771.

The Breadalbane Muniments contain 'vouchers of account of John Campbell of Achallader, chamberlain of Breadalbane, settled at Taymouth on 2 September 1773' and include a 'receipt by John McArthur for £20 stg. to account of surveying 'The Lands of Murthly, Borlig and Abberfaldie', 31 May 1773.' I have kindly been given access to, and permission to reproduce, the original plan of the whole survey and a detailed 'Plan of the Lands of Murthly' i.e. the farms in Easter Aberfeldy to the east of the Pitillie burn (alternative version with only Mains of Murthly land coloured). The possessions on this plan comprised Burnfoot, Tomcalden, Mains of Murthly, Tominella, Duntagart, Tombane, Croftmarquis, Byrecroft and Brae of Murthly. The acreage of each possession was recorded by McArthur. Most of these names are now obsolete and for some of the places that bore them scarcely a trace remains. It did not include the farms of Borlick and Pitillie which are west of the Pitilie burn.

My paternal grandmother was a McLaren and her grandfather, Donald McLaren was born in Tomcalden in 1797. His father, John, was one of the tenant that petitioned for new possessions in 1799 and he was still there in 1835 when the ground officer noted 'His possession in full rotation'. By 1841 John had died and his wife had been deprived of her land.

In 1795 Alexander born 1726 was caught stealing wood and was removed from Alekich on Lochtayside. All he and his family could get was a small holding from William Menzies, one of the tenants in Mains of Murthly. In 1782 William Menzies married a Catherine Fisher from Kenmore who was almost certainly Alexander's daughter.

The 2 petitions below are preserved in The Breadalbane Muniments (NRS: GD112/11/7/1/42/5 and 1). They are both dated 1799. The first, written for William Menzies, explains how Mains of Murthly was split into lots. The second was probably written by a ground officer. The comments at the end, presumaby made by Breadalbane's factor, would suggest Daniel Fisher's solicitation (no. 7) achieved nothing.

William Menzies' petition to Breadalbane

Petition for new Possessions

In 1836 the Ground officers report noted that Daniel /Donald's nephew, Alexander born 1814, was one of 4 tenants of Murthly. His grandfather Alexander born 1726 died in 1803 and his father Patrick had died in 1831 at age 46 . Alexander marrried Mary McLean whose family were in the neighbouring farms Borlick and Pitilie.


By the time Alexander and Mary Fisher's first child was born in 1838 they had lost their tenancy and were living in Lawers. I have attempted to piece together the story of the Removals from Easter Aberfeldy on a separate page. The 1841 census shows that no Fishers or McLarens were farming Murthly. Old William Menzies who Catherine had married was still alive, aged 85 and living with his grand-daughter Grace. William was described as 'Bedrid'. His daughter Sarah was next door with her son Peter and her daughter Grace's illegitimate daughter Catherine Sinclair. Sarah working as a Cottar was presumably holding the family together. She was soon to move into Toll Street (Kenmore Street) in Aberfeldy with her children and grandchildren to work as a dressmaker.

There are now only three farms and, where 24 families used to live, very few both live and work on this land.


In 1871 Alexander's oldest son Peter had left Culdaremore, where the family ended up 10 years later, and was back in Borlick as a farm servant with his wife Elizabeth and their children Alexander and Eliza. Peter's youngest sister Elizabeth was staying with the McLeans next door while at school (sewing).

Sarah Menzies' daughter Catherine became the inkeeper at Tummel Bridge where Sarah spent her later years.

From around 1880 until 1939 the Munro family rented Mains of Murthly. Colonel Charles Munro built my family's home, Torr Hill, in 1899.

See also the 1862 25 inch to mile map.

Page last updated - 23/10/16

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