The chief of the name in Scotland was Mure of Rowallan, in Ayrshire, whose family, terminating in an heiress, is now represented by the noble family of Loundoun, the head of which is marquis of Hastings in the peerage of Great Britain.
In 1825 was published at Glasgow a work entitled ‘The Historie and Descent of the House of Rowallane. By Sir William Mure, knight, of Rowallan, written in, or prior to 1657.’ In which it is stated that it was a tradition of their house that they came originally from “the ancient tribe of O’More in Ireland.” In a note, the editor, William Muir, says, “The surname ‘More’ certainly occurs very early in all the three British kingdoms, and is most probably of Celtic origin,” and adds, “in most early writings in which the name is found, accordant with the idiomatic usage of Celtic patronymics, the preposition de is omitted, which so invariably accompanies all early Saxon designations.”
This, however, is a mistake, as David de More, of the house of Polkelly, Renfrewshire, appears as a witness to a charter of Alexander II. Willielmi de Mora and Laurentii de Mora also occur in two charters granted by Robert the Bruce.
The first on record of the family is stated to have been the above-named David de More. His successor is supposed to have been Sir Gilchrist More, the first of the name mentioned in the family ‘Historie.’
In the beginning of the reign of Alexander III., Sir Walter Cumyn took forcible possession of the house and living of Rowallan, “the owner thereof, Gilchrist More, being redacted for his safety to keep close in his castle of Pokellie.”
The latter distinguished himself at the battle of Largs in 1263, and for his bravery was knighted. “At which time,” says the ‘Historie,’ “Sir Gilchrist was reponed to his whole inheritance, and gifted with the lands belonging to Sir Walter Cuming before mentioned, a man not of the meanest of that powerful tribe, which for might and number have scarcelie to this day been equaled in this land.”
He married Isobel, daughter and heiress of the said Sir Walter Cumyn, and in the death of his father-in-law, he found himself secured not only in the title and full possession of his old inheritance, but also in the border lands wherein he succeeded to Sir Walter Cuming, within the sheriffdom of Roxburgh. Sir Gilchrist “disponed to his kinsman Ranald More, who had come purposlie from Ireland for his assistance: in the time of his troubles, and also at the battle of Largs, the lands of Polkellie, which appear to have been the original inheritance of the family.
He died “about the year 1280, near the 80 year of his age,” and was buried “with his forfathers in his own buriell place in the Mures Isle at Kilmarnock.”
He had a son, Archibald, and two daughters, Elizabeth, the wife of Sir Godfrey Ross, and Anicia, married to Richard Boyle of Kelburne, ancestor of the earls of Glasgow.
In the Ragman Roll, among those barons who swore fealty to Edward I. in 1296, we find the names of Gilchrist More of Craig and Reginald More de Craig, that is, the Craig of Rowallan. The former is stated to have been the ancestor of the Mures of Polkellie, who, Nisbet thinks, were “the stem of the Mures, and an ancienter family than the Rowallan.” The latter was in 1329 chamberlain of Scotland.
William More, the son and successor of Archibald, married a daughter of the house of Craigie, then Lindsay, and with two daughters, had a son, Adam, who succeeded him. Of William honorable mention is made in an indenture of truce with England in the nonage of King David, wherein he is designated Sir William.
He died about the time when King David was taken prisoner at the battle of Durham, fought 17th October 1346. There is supposed to have been an older son than Adam, named Reynold. The editor of the ‘Historie,’ on the authority of Crawford’s Officers of State, (vol. i. p. 290), says in a note: Reynold, son and heir of Sir William More, was one of the hostages left in England at David’s redemption.
This is certainly the same Sir William mentioned above, but whether of Rowallan seems still doubtful; If so, he must have lived long after 1348. There is a William More, Miles, mentioned in M’Farlane’s MS., as living in 1363. Supposing this Sir William More to have been of Rowallan, Reynold probably never returned from England, and thus the estate may have fallen to Sir Adam, a younger son. During the long protracted payment of the king’s ransom, many of the hostages died in confinement.
Sir Adam More, who, “in his father’s auld age,” had the management of all his affairs, both private and public, considerably enlarged and improved the estate. He married, in his younger years, Janet Mure, heiress of Polkellie, granddaughter of Ranald More, and thus restored that estate to the family. By this marriage he had two sons, Sir Adam, his successor, and Andrew, and a daughter, Elizabeth, married in 1348, to Robert, the high steward, afterwards King Robert II.
She was a lady of great beauty and rare virtues, and attracted the high steward’s regard in his younger years when living in concealment about Dundonald castle during Edward Baliol’s usurpation.
There was long considerable doubt as to this marriage, and Buchanan and earlier historians were of opinion that none had ever taken place. The fact of her marriage, however, is now set beyond all question, and the author of the ‘Historie’ says, “Mr. John Learmonth, chaplain to Alexander, archbishop of St. Andrews, hath left upon record, in a deduction of the descent of the house of Rowallan, collected by him at command of the said archbishop, that Robert, great steward of Scotland, having taken away the said Elizabeth, drew to Sir Adam her father ane instrument that he should take her to his lawful wife, which myself have seen, saith the collector, as also ane testimonie, written in Latin by Roger M’Adam, priest of our Ladie Marie’s chapel, (‘Our Lady’s Kirk of Kyle,’ in the parish of Monktown,) that the said Roger married Robert and Elizabeth foresaids.”
The editor of the ‘Historie’ remarks in a note: “Mr. Lewis Innes, principal of the Scots college at Paris, first completely proved the fallacy of Buchanan’s account of King Robert’s marriages, by publishing in 1694, a charter granted by him in 1364, which charter showed that Elizabeth More was the first wife of Robert, and made reference to a dispensation granted by the pope for the marriage. That dispensation was long sought for in vain, but was at length discovered in 1789, at which time a dispensation for the marriage with Euphemia Ross was also found. These discoveries have decided the question. The dispensation for the marriage with Elizabeth More is dated in December, in the sixth year of the pontificate of Clement VI. He was elected pope in 1342; this dispensation must therefore have been granted in December 1347. The dispensation for the marriage with Euphemia Ross is dated in the third year of the pontificate of Innocent VI. He was elected pope in 1352; this dispensation must therefore have been given in 1355.”
Sir Adam, the eldest son, had on his own resignation, a new charger from Robert III., of the barony of Rowallan and whole lands holden of the crown, as also of the barony of Polkellie, &c., with very ample privileg4es, the designation given him by the king being ‘consanguineus.’
He married Joan, daughter of Danielston of that ilk, and by her had three sons. “Caried away,” says the ‘Historie,’ “as appears with emptie surmises and hopes founded on court favors, he made unawares a new rent in his estate and provided his second son, Alexander, to the barronie of Pokellie, together with the lands of Limflare and Lowdonehill, wherein his lady was infeft in liferent, and wer given out by him, now the second time, to the great damage and prejudice of his house and posteritie.
However, at that time the court seemed to smile upon him, his proper estate considerable, his friendship strong, and of the greatest of these times. He gave a quartered coat of the arms of Mure and cumin.
The hoarseness and asperitie of the Irish pronunciation of his title and lands is forgot, and Rigallane is now Rowallane, Pothkellath is now Pokellie, &c., and More is now Mure by the court dialect.
He died in 1399. His two younger sons, Alexander and Rankine, were steady adherents of the Douglases.
From the earl of Douglas, who married Margaret, daughter of Robert III., he had the lands of Hareschaw and Drumbowy, Lanarkshire, by a precept of infeftment dated in 1417.
The family of Polkellie, sprung from him, continued for nearly 150 years, when Margaret, daughter and heiress of William Mure, the last of that house, marrying Robert Cunningham of Cunninghamhead, her whole inheritance came into possession of that family.
Rankine, the youngest son, was “commonlie called of Abercorn,” says the ‘Historie,’ “not that he had these lands in heritage, for that doth never appear by historie nor evident that ever come to my hands, notwithstanding of the common tradition thairanent, being established thair as bailiffe and a chief officer under his lord, the earle of Duglass, having charge of his men thair in all his noble atchiefements.” He “rose to no mean respect, place, and power, and is said to have attained to large possessions in Stirlingshire within Abercorn, the Carses Calder and other places adjacent where he also settled divers of his surname and friends.” He was an active and stirring adversary of Sir Alexander Livingstone of Calender, guardian of the young king, James II., one of the principal enemies of the earl of Douglas.
Rankine’s grandson long held out the castle of Abercorn for the Douglases, and was slain when it was stormed, and the power of that great family overthrown.
Archibald, eldest son of Sir Adam, succeeded.
He married Euphame Kennedy, daughter of the knight of Dunure, ancestor of the marquis of Ailsa, and had a son, named Robert. He is said by the author of the ‘Historie’ to have “died in battell against Ingland, 1426.” The date is evidently wrong, for, as the editor remarks in a note, “Nothing in history of this nature corresponds to the date 1426. The action alluded to should possibly be referred to the battle of Sark, 1448; and if so, we must place Archibald, who fell, after a Robert, probably his brother, and both sons of an Archibald.”
In a charter of “George Fullertoun, lord of Corsbie,” in 1430, Robert More of Rowallan is designated sheriff depute, it is understood of Ayrshire. He is supposed to have been succeeded by a son or brother named Archibald, father of another Robert “who frequented the court in the minoritie of King James the Third.
He was ane man black hared and of ane budge large stature, therefore, commonlie called ‘the Rud of Rowallane.'” The epithet ‘Rud’ is explained in a note to mean of great stature and strength, “a man with ‘a back as braid as a barn door,’ and who, in addition to his bodily ability, has also the inclination for a fray.”
The ‘Historie’ does not give a good account of this fierce personage, ‘the Rud of Rowallan,’ nor of his wife either. “The king, in his bearne head proponed to round with him, and as he offered swa to doe dang out his eye with the spang of ane cockle shell. He was a man reguarded not the well of his house, but in following court, and being unfit for it, waisted, sold, and wadset all his proper lands of Rowallane, whilk may be ane example to all his posteritie.
He married Margerie Newfound, daughter to the laird of Michaelhill in the Merse; ane drunken woman, and ane waistor man, what made then this house to stand but the grace of God?” The ‘Rud of Rowallan’ died in 1504. He had four sons and a daughter.
John, his eldest son, married “Elizabeth Stewart, daughter to the first Lord Evandale,” says the ‘Historie,’ “whose mother was daughter to the earle of Crawfurd, called Earle Beardie.” The first Lord Evandale, who was the son of Lord James Stewart, son of Murdoch, duke of Albany, of the royal house of Stewart, died without issue in 1488. His nephew, Andrew Stewart, who afterwards succeeded to the estate of Evandale, was created a peer by the same title. He left several sons and daughters, and Elizabeth Stewart, who married John Mure of Rowallan, must have been one of the latter, although not mentioned so in the published histories.
If, as is understood, she was the daughter of the second, not the first, Lord Evandale, she was the sister of Andrew Stewart, third Lord Evandale, and also of Henry Stewart, created Lord Methven, the third husband of Margaret, queen-mother of Scotland, daughter of Henry VII. Of England, and grandmother of Mary, queen of Scots.
He had four sons and three daughters.
The sons were, John, his successor; Archibald, called ‘Mickle Archibald;’ Patrick Boyd, and James. From Pitcairn’s Criminal Trials, we learn that “Nov. 3, 1508. – Patrick Boyde, brother to the laird of Rowallan,” and 27 others, were “convicted of art and part of convocation of the lieges against the act of parliament, coming to the Kirk of Stewarton, in company with John Mure of Rowallan, for the office of parish clerk of the same kirk, against Robert Cunynghame of Cunynghamehed and his servants, in the year 1508;” and that “James Muir, brother to the laird of Rowalloun was, in 1508, convicted of art and part of the forethought felony and oppression done to John Mowat, junior, laird of Busbie, and Andrew Stevinstone, in the town of Stewarton, in company with the laird of Rowalloun.”
John is said to have “deceast before Robert his father in 1501;” if so, he must have possessed the estate on his father’s resignation.
The editor adds in a note, that he was dead in 1495.
A long feud had existed betwixt the lairds of Crawfurdland and Rowallan, the latter being superior of the lands of Ardoch as Crawfurdland was first called, during which the evidents of both houses were destroyed. In a Justice-eyre, held at Ayr about 1476 by John, Lord Carlyle, chief justice of Scotland on the south side of the Forth, Robert Muir of Rowallan and John Muir his son, and others their accomplices, were indicted for breaking the king’s peace against Archibald Craufurd of Craufurdland.
John Mure of Rowallan, the eldest son, and grandson of Robert “the Rud,” married Margaret, third daughter of Archibald Boyd of Bonshaw, brother of Thomas, master of Boyd, created earl of Arran about 1467.
This lady was the means of putting an end to the feud of the Rowallan family with the Crawfurds. In her youth she had been mistress to James IV., by whom, with a son, Alexander, bishop of St. Andrews, she had a daughter, Catherine Stewart, married to the third earl of Morton.
She afterwards “procured to herself the ward of the laird of Rowallan, John Muir, and married him.” They had sasine of the lands of Warnockland, the gift of James IV., in January 1498. This John Mure of Rowallan was slain at Flodden in September 1513. He had four sons and four daughters.
Mungo, his eldest son, succeeded him.
His half-sister, Catherine, countess of Morton, had three daughters, the eldest of whom, Lady Margaret Douglas, married the regent earl of Arran, duke of Chatelherault, ancestor of the dukes of Hamilton; the second, Lady Beatrix, married Lord Maxwell; and the youngest, Lady Elizabeth, became the wife of the regent Morton.
These noblemen, therefore, stood in near relationship to Mungo Mure of Rowallan, which they were all very ready, the regent Morton in particular, to acknowledge.
Mungo Mure of Rowallan was with Robert Boyd of the Kilmarnock family when he arrived, with a party of horse, to the assistance of the regent Arran in the skirmish at Glasgow, in 1543, with the earl of Glencairn.
In the appendix to the ‘Historie’ there is an account of “the behaviour of the house of Kilmarnock towardis the house of Rowallane, and of their house towards them,” in which he is thus referred to: “It is understandit that Mungow Muir of Rowallane, quhois mother was Boyd, joynit with Robert Boyd guidmane of Kilmarnock, in seeking revengement of the slaughter of James Boyd, the king’s sisteris sone, quho sould have bene Lord Boyd, bot befoir he was fullie restorrit was slaine be the earl of Eglintoune.
Nixt, my lord of Glencairne proponing ane richt to the barronie of Kilmarnock proclaimit ane court to be holdin at the Knockanlaw, quhair the said Robert Boyd guidmane of Kilmarnock and Mungow Muir of Rowallane, with the assistance of thair friends, keipit the said day and place of court, offirit battle to the said earl of Glencairn, and stayit him from his pretendit court hoilding.
Thridlie, the foirsaid Robert Boyd guidmane of Kilmarnock, and the said Mungow Muir of Rowallane, entirit in the field of Glasgow, the said Mungow being lairglie better accompanied then the foirsaid Robert, they behavit themselfe so valiantlie in that fact that the Duik Hamiltone quho reckonit both his lyfe and honour to be preservit be thair handis, maid the said Robert Boyd, guidman of Kilmarnock, Lord Boyd, lyk also as he revardit the said Mungow Muir with dyvers fair giftis.
The said Robert Boyd hichlie esteemit of the sais Mungow Muir of Rowallane and gave him the first place of honour al his dayis, acknawleging the alternation of his estait to the worthines of the said Mungowis handis.
“This Mungo is particularly mentioned as having greatly improved the old castle of Rowallan. He was slain in battle at Pinkiefield “at the black Satterday, in the yeare of our lord 1547.”
He married Isabel, daughter of Sir Hugh Campbell of Loundoun, sheriff of Ayr, and had five sons and six daughters. His eldest son, John Mure of Rowallan, took great delight in planting, and built a portion of Rowallan castle.
He “lived gratiouslie,” says the ‘Historie,’ and “died in 1581, in the 66th year of his age.”
The year is supposed to be a mistake for 1591, as it is given in the family Genealogical tree, drawn up in 1597. A ‘letter of Soleance,’ subscribed at Irvine and Kilwinning, 16th and 17th March 1571, is inserted in the Appendix to the ‘Historie’ so often quoted, from Alexander Cowper, mason in Kilwinning, “with consent and assent” of certain persons named, his “cheife and capitall branchis, bayth on the father side and mother side,” granting his remission, free forgiveness and pardon to John Mure of Rowallan, William Mure, his son and heir, John Mure and Mungo Mure, his sons, and two others, and “thair complices, kin, freindis, allys, assistaris and parttakeris, the crewall wonding, hurting and bluding of me, the said Alexander, to the great effusions of my blude, done and committit be the saidis persones thair seruandis and complicis,” in the month of February, 1570.
The account above quoted of the mutual friendly offices between these families appears to have been drawn up in reference to this charge. It recites many good deeds done by the Mures to the Boyds, in particular, amongst others, that after Robert, master of Boyd, had slain Sir Neil Montgomerie of Lainshaw, he was received and concealed by John Muir of Rowallan, who, with his friends and servants, was the means of saving his life, when pursued by the Montgomeries; and also that after the battle of Langside he kindly received the said Robert, being then Lord Boyd, although he had fallen into disfavour with the regent Moray, and much more to the same purport.
John Muir of Rowallan subscribed the bond in support of the Reformation in 1562, and the same year he was a member of the Scottish estates. In 1568, when Queen Mary escaped from Lochleven castle, she wrote the laird of Rowallan a letter dated 6th May that year, requiring him to meet her at Hamilton, as soon as he could muster his retainers, all well armed for her service.
It does not appear, however, that he complied with the summons. In 1584 John Mure of Rowallan, “and his spouse and six persons with them in company,” received a license from James VI., to eat flesh in Lent, and upon Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays “for ane zeir next hereafter,” and in February 1588 he had the present of a gray courser from his kinsman, the earl of Morton, on the latter going abroad. In the letter which accompanied the gift he says: “I think ze sall find him als meit in haikney for zour self or zour wife to ryd upoun as ony uther, for I chosit him to have been presentit to the king quhen the Scots horse suld have been send to the duke of Gwies.”
He married a daughter of Cunninghame of Cunninghamehead, and had three sons and three daughters.
His third son, Mungo Mure, received a remission, of date 1st March 1607, for being concerned in the slaughter of Hew, fourth earl of Eglintoun. He died in London in November 1632. Before his departure, we are told, he greatly lamented “the crying sinne of innocent blood.”
William, the eldest son, succeeded his father. He was “of a meik and gentle spirit, and delyted much in the study of phisick, which he practiced especiallie among the poore people with very good success. He was ane religious man, and died gratiouslie in the yeare of his age 69, the year of our lorde 1616.” With three daughters he had three sons, Sir William, who succeeded him; John Mure of Blacklaw, who was slain at a combat at Beith, and Hugh of Skirnalland.
Sir William, the eldest son, the next laird of Rowallan, is described as “ane strong man of bodie, and delyted much in hunting and halking.” He died in 1639, aged 63. He was thrice married, and had issue by each of his wives.
His eldest son, by his first wife, Elizabeth Montgomery, daughter of the laird of Hazlehead, was William Mure of Rowallan, the eminent poet, a memoir of whom is given below.
He was succeeded by his eldest son, Sir William Mure of Rowallan, in the end of 1657.
This Sir William Mure was firmly attached to the Reformed doctrines, and was the intimate friend of the celebrated Mr. Guthrie, first minister of Fenwick. It is said that conventicles were held in the house of Rowallan during his time. Whether on this account or not, it is certain that he suffered much during the troubles of the Church of Scotland.
He was imprisoned in 1665, in the castle of Stirling, with the lairds of Cunninghamehead and Nether-Pollock.
When other gentlemen were liberated upon the bond of peace in 1668, these three were retained in confinement, but in the year following, on the removal of Bishop Burnet from Glasgow, they presented a petition for release to the duke of Lauderdale, the commissioner, which was granted. IN 1683 Sir William Mure again fell under the suspicion of the court, and was apprehended, with his eldest son, in London. They were sent to Edinburgh and committed prisoners to the Tolbooth.
In the same year his second son, John, was taken prisoner, and carried to Edinburgh. In a short time the health of the young laird of Rowallan required indulgence, and he was allowed to be removed from the prison to a private house. In April 1684, they were both discharged, upon giving a bond of E2,000, to appear when called upon. Sir William died in or about 1686.
He married about 1640, Elizabeth, daughter of James Hamilton of Aikenhead, provost of Glasgow, and had two sons and a daughter.
The elder son, William Mure of Rowallan, the last lineal representative of the family, was entered a student at the university of Glasgow in 1660. His share in the afflictions of his father has been already noticed.
This did not shake his attachment to the church for which he suffered. His name frequently occurs in the records of the parish of Kilmarnock. He is mentioned there, for the last time, in 1695, in a commission to defend a process of translation before the synod. He was a member of the Scots parliament, and died in 1700. He married, about 1670, Dame Mary Scott, apparently heiress of Collarny in Fife, by whom he had three daughters, Anna, Margaret, and Jean. The latter, his only surviving daughter and sole heiress, married, first, William Fairlie of Bruntsfield, near Edinburgh, afterwards designed of Fairlie, to whom she had issue. Tradition still points out the spot where Fairlie was married to the heiress of Rowallan. The ceremony was performed by a curate, in the fields, about a quarter of a mile from the house of Rowallan, at a tree, still called the marriage tree, which stands on the top of a steep bank, above that part of the stream called “Janet’s kirn.” The heiress of Rowallan married, secondly, David, first earl of Glasgow, and had to him three daughters, Lady Betty, who died in infancy; Lady Jean, who, by special destination, succeeded to Rowallan, and Lady Anne, who died unmarried. Jean Mure, countess of Glasgow, died September 3, 1724, and was succeeded by her elder surviving daughter of the second marriage, Lady Jean Boyle Mure of Rowallan, who married the Hon. Sir James Campbell of Lawers, K.B., third and youngest son of the second earl of Loudoun. Their son, James Mure Campbell, succeeded to the estate of Rowallan, and was the fifth earl of Loudoun (see LOUDOUN, fifth earl).