THE HOUSE OF FORBES.
The earliest record we have of the family is that of the marriage of
Solvathius Forbes to Maravilla, daughter of King Gregory the Great, A.D.
The Forbes family and following ranked early among the strongest on
the North-Eastern Coast of Scotland, and no one can reasonably doubt that
the ancient Pictish Gael of the region in question constituted a large
proportion (if not of the Forbeses), at least, of the followers of the
The traditions regarding the origins of the surname of Forbes are various,
and some of them very fanciful. The principal of these, referred to by
Sir Emanuel Forbes in his "View of the Diocese of Aberdeen," states that
the name was first assumed by one Ochonchar, from Ireland, who, having
slain a ferocious bear in that district, took the name of Forbear, now
spelled and pronounced For-bes, in two syllables; although the English,
in pronunciation, makes it only one. In consequence of this feat, the Forbeses
in their arms carry three bears’ heads. A variation of this story says
that the actor in this daring exploit was desirous of exhibiting his courage
to the young and beautiful heiress of the adjoining castle, whose name
being Bess; he on receiving her hand as his reward, assumed it to commemorate
his having killed the bear for "Bess." Another tradition states that the
name of the founder of family was originally Bois, a follower of an early
Scottish King, and that, on granting him certain lands for some extraordinary
service, His Majesty observed that they were "for Boice." The surname,
however, is territorial, and said t be Celtic, from the gaelic word "Ferbash"
or "Ferbasach," a bold man.
"On the whole," says Smibert, "the traditions of the family, as well
as other authorities, countenanced with unusual strength the belief that
the heads of the Forbeses belonged really to the Irish branch, and were
amongst those strangers of that race whom the Lowland Kings planted in
the North and North-East of Scotland to overawe the remaining primary population
of Gaelic Picts."
JOHN DE FORBES possessed the lands of Forbes, in the reign of King William
the Lion, and was father of –
FERGUS DE FORBES, who had a charter from Alexander, Earl of Buchan,
"Fergusio, filio Joannis de Forbes, totum et integrum tenementum de Forbes,
cum pertinent, jacent, in vicecomitatu de Aberdeen," to which charter William
Cumyn, brother of the Earl, and John Cumyn, his eldest son, &c., are
witnesses, about 1236.
DUNCAN DE FORBES, son of Fergus de Forbes, succeeded about 1242.
ALEXANDER DE FORBES, his son, defended the Castle of Urquart, in Moray,
in 1304, against King Edward I., who taking it, put every person to the
sword. The wife of the Governor, who escaped into Ireland, was delivered
of a posthumus son-
ALEXANDER DE FORBES, who came from Ireland to Scotland, obtained a grant
of the lands from King Robert Bruce, and was killed at the battle of Duplin,
in 1332, fighting valiantly for King David, the son of Bruce. He also had
a posthumus son-
SIR JOHN DE FORBES, who acquired from Thomas, Earl of Mar, several lands
in Aberdeenshire, which King Robert II. ratified by his Charter in the
third year of his reign. He also had a charter of the lands of Findrossie,
to "John de Forbes, dominus ejusdem," and Margaret his wife, dated 19th
In the fifth year of the reign of King Robert III. he was constituted
His Majesty’s Justiciary within the bounds of Aberdeen, and Coroner of
the said County. He is witness to a charter of Isabel, Countess of Marr,
of the lands of Bonjedworth to Thomas Douglas, wherein ie is designed "Joannes
Forbes de eodem, miles," 1404. He married a daughter of Kennedy of Dunure,
and died 1405, leaving four sons:-
SIR ALEXANDER DE FORBES, the eldest son, succeeded his father. Among the
missing charters of King Robert III. is a confirmation of a charter by
Isabel Douglas, Countess of Marr, to Alexander Forbes, son of John Forbes,
Knight, of the lands of Edinbanchory and Craiglogy. He had a charter, "Alexandro
domino Forbes, militi," of the lands of Fothirbris, in the lordship of
Obeyne, 24th May, 1417, from John, Earl of Buchan and Ross,
Chamberlain of Scotland, and Lord of Obeyne. He had an assignation to certain
lands, from William de Camera, dominus de Findoune, "Alexandrodomino Forbes,"
dated 1419. He was among the Scottish forces sent to the assistance of
Charles, Dauphin of France, afterwards King Charles VII., and had a share
in the victory obtained over the English at Bauge, in Anjou, 22nd
March 1421, in which the Duke of Clarence, commander of the hostile army,
was killed. Soon afterwards, at the desire of King James I. (then the prisoner
of King Henry V.), he left the French service, with several other Sctsmen;
the great body of the auxiliaries, however, adhered steadily to the Dauphin.
He obtained a letter of safe-conduct, dated at Dover, 9th June,
1421, "Alexandro Forbes, militi, cum 40 lanceis, in comitiva sua, cum equis
et armaturis eidem Alexandro et lanceis predictus, debite spectantibus,
usque ad numerum centum," to come by water into england and remain there
and go from thence. Also another, dated 14th October, 1421,
permitting Alexander Forbees, Knight, Lord of Forbes, in Scotland, and
forty men-at-arms, with their attendants, to the number of one hundred
persons or under, videlicet, "praefatum Alexandrum cum duodecim in comitava
sua armatis sive non, eujuscumque gradus existunt, usque ad civitatem Londinum
per terram viniendo et ibidem morando, et deindo penes presentiam Regis
et carissimi con-sanguinei sui Jacobi Regis Scotiae," the remainder to
go to Normandy.
SIR WILLIAM FORBES, ancestor of Lord Pitsligo.
SIR JOHN FORBES, who obtained the thanedom of Formartin, and lands of Tolquhoun,
by marriage with Marjory, daughter and heir of Sir Henry Preston of Formartin,
Knight, and was an ancestor of the Forbeses of Tolquhoun, Foveran, Watertoun,
Culloden, and others. (Sir Henry Preston was third son of Sir Simon de
Preston, a person of great consequence in the reign of King Robert II.)
ALEXANDER, ancestor of the Forbeses of Brux, and other families of that
He had a charter from John, Earl of Buchan, to him and Elizabeth Douglas,
his wife, of the lands of Meikle Fintry, Blacktoun, and Balcross, 10th
December, 1423; and on the 13th of the same month had a safe
conduct to come into England, as far as Durham, to the presence of King
james I., wherein he is designed Alexander Forbes, Knight.
A charter of the Barony of Forbes and Kearn, on his own resignation,
and of the lands of Auford-Logy, Edinbandivy, Mukwell, &c., in the
Earldom of Marr, on the resination of Alexander, Earl of Marr, was granted
6th October, 1430, Alexandro Forbes, militi, and Elizabeth,
his wife. He is designed, "ane nobill lord, Sir Alexander Forbes, Knight,
lord of that ilk," in a letter by Andrew of Futhais, 12th December,
1436, and was soon after created a Peer of Parliament by precept from King
James II., directed to the Lords of the Exchequer, 12th July,
ALEXANDER, FIRST LORD FORBES, married Lady Elizabeth Douglas, only daughter
of George, Earl of Angus, GRANDDAUGHTER OF KING ROBERT II. of Scotland,
and by her had five children, two sons and three daughters.
James, second Lord Forbes
John Forbes, Provost of St. Giles, Edinbro’.
JAMES, SECOND LORD FORBES, wa knighted by King james III. of Scotland.
He married the beautiful Lady Egidia Keith, second daughter of William,
first Earl Marischeal, and by her had three sons and one daughter.
Annbella, married Patrick, Master of Gray.
Margaret, married the Laird of Fyvie.
Elizabeth, married Irvine of Drum
William, third Lord Forbes.
Duncan Forbes, of Corsindae, ancester of the Forbes of Monymusk.
Patrick Forbes, first of the family of Corse, ancestor of the Forbes, Baronets
of Craigievar and the Earls of Granard.
WILLIAM, THIRD LORD FORBES, married Lady Christian Gordon, third daughter
of Alexander, first Earl of Huntly, and by her had three sons and one daughter.
Egidia Forbes, maried to Malcolm Forbes of Tolquhoun.
Alexander, fourth Lord Forbes.
Arthur, fifth Lord Forbes.
John, sixth Lord Forbes.
ALEXANDER, FOURTH LORD FORBES, married Lady Grizel Boyd, daughter to Thomas,
Earl of arran, and GRANDDAUGHTER OF KING JAMES II. OF SCOTLAND, and died
without issue, being succeeded by his brother –
Christian, married William, first Lord Ruthven.
ARTHUR, FIFTH LORD FORBES, who married Elizabeth, daughter of John,
Lord Glamis, and died without issue, being succeeded by his brother –
JOHN, SIXTH LORD FORBES, who married three times, first, Lady Catherine
Stewart, second daughter of John, Earl of Atholl and UTERINE BROTHER to
KING JAMES II., and by her had two children.
Secondly, Christian, daughter of Sir John Lundin of Lundin, by whom he
had five children, two sons and three daughters.
James, who died in infancy.
Elizabeth, who married James Grant of Grant.
John, Master of Forbes, accused of treason 12th June, 1536, found guilty,
and executed 17th July, 1537.
William, seventh Lord Forbes.
Thirdly, Elizabeth Barclay, relict of Alexander, first Lord Elphinstone,
who was killed at Flodden, and by her had one son and one daughter.
Margaret, married Andrew Fraser of Muchil.
Elizabeth, married, first, Gilbert Keith of Troup, and, second, Alexander
Innes of Innes.
Marjory, married Gilbert Forbes of Brux.
Arthur Forbes of Putachie.
WILLIAM, SEVENTH LORD FORBES, Gentleman of the Bedchamber to King James
V., died in 1593. He married Elizabeth, daughter to Sir William Keith of
Inverugie, and by her had fourteen children, six sons and eight daughters.
Janet, married John, third Earl of Atholl.
John, eighth Lord Forbes.
William Forbes of Foderhouse.
James Forbes of Lethinty.
Robert Forbes, a monk, Prior of Monymusk.
Arthur Forbes of Logie, known as BLACK ARTHUR.
Abraham Forbes of Blacktoun.
JOHN, EIGHTH LORD FORBES, was second in command of the King’s Forces, under
the Earl of Argyll, at the Battle of Glenlivet, 3rd October,
1594. He married twice: firstly, Lady Margaret Gordon, eldest daughter
of George, fourth Earl of Huntly, by whom he had two children, a son and
Jean, married James, lord Ogilvy.
Elizabeth, married Henry, third Lord Sinclair.
Christian, married George Johnson of Caskieben.
Isabel, married John Gordon of Pitlurg.
Catherine, married Barclay of Gartly.
Margaret, married George Sinclair of Mey.
Barbara, married Robert Allardyce.
Anne, married Sir John Seton of Barns.
John Forbes, a monk, who entered a religious order on the Continent.
Secondly, Janet, daughter of James Seton of Touch, by whom he had three
children, two sons and one daughter.
Jean, married to William Cumyn of Earnside.
Arthur, ninth Lord Forbes.
ARTHUR, NINTH LORD FORBES, who on 1st February, 1600, married
Jean, second daughter of Alexander, fourth Lord Elphinstone, and by her
had five sons and three daughters.
Catherine, married Gordon of Rothemay.
Alexander, tenth Lord Forbes.
Colonel John Forbes.
Colonel William Forbes.
Captain Arthur Forbes (killed in battle).
Captain James Forbes (killed in battle).
ALEXANDER, TENTH LORD FORBES, fought under Gustavus Adolphus, who made
him Lieutenant-General. He married twice: firstly, Anne eldest daughter
of Sir John Forbes of Pitsligo, by whom he had a son.
Barabara, married George, second Earl of Seaforth.
Amme, married Forbes of Echt.
Elizabeth, married James Skene of Skene.
Secondly, Elizabeth, daughter of Robert Forbes of Rires, in Fife, and by
her had (besides eight children who died young) two sons and three daughters.
William, eleventh Lord Forbes.
Colonel James Forbes.
WILLIAM, ELEVENTH LORD FORBES, who died in 1691, married, firstly, Jean,
daughter of Sir John Campbell of Calder, and secondly, Margaret Erskine,
daughter of Viscount Fentoun (by whom no issue). By his first marriage
he had three sons and a daughter.
Christian, Mary, and Anne.
William, twefth Lord Forbes.
Arthur Forbes (Died without issue).
Archibald Forbes of Putachie.
WILLIAM, TWELFTH LORD FORBES, died in 1716. He married Anne, daughter of
James Brodie of Brodie, by whom he had three sons and a daughter.
Margaret, married Alexander, Lord Duffus.
William, thirteenth Lord Forbes.
James, fifteenth Lord Forbes.
WILLIAM, THIRTEENTH LORD FORBES, died 26th June, 1730. He married
Dorothy, daughter of william Dale of Westminster, by whom he had one son
and four daughters.
Francis, fourteenth Lord Forbes.
FRANCIS, FOURTEENTH LORD FORBES, was born 19th December, 1721,
and died 8th August, 1734, being succeeded by his uncle –
Anne (died young)
Mary (died young).
Elizabeth, married John Gregory, M.D., F.R.S., and was mother to the celebrated
Dr. James Gregory.
Jean, married Colonel James Dundas.
JAMES, FIFTEENTH LORD FORBES, who died on 20th February,
1761. He married Mary, daughter of Alexander, Lord Forbes of Pitligo, and
had by her one son and three daughters.
James, sixteenth Lord Forbes.
JAMES, SIXTEENTH LORD FORBES, Deputy-Governor of Fort William, died 29th
July, 1804, aged 80. He married Catharine, only daughter of Sir Robert
Innes, and by her had four sons and two daughters.
Sophia, Mary, and Anne.
James Ochoncar, seventeenth Lord Forbes.
Robert Alaster Cam Forbes, who died unmarried.
Andrew Forbes, who died unmarried, 12th June, 1808.
William Forbes, who died unmarried, 1st february, 1792.
JAMES OCHONCAR, SEVENTEENTH LORD FORBES, was born 7th March,
1765, and died in 1843. He married Elizabeth, daughter of Walter Hunter
of Polmood, by whom he had six sons and four daughters.
Marjory, married, first, John, Lord MacLeod, and second, John, fourth Duke
Mary Elizabeth, married Sir John Hay.
James, eighteenth Lord Forbes.
William Forbes, died, aged two years.
JAMES OCHONCAR, EIGHTEENTH LORD FORBES, died in 1843, leaving one son as
his successor –
Catherine, died, aged nine years.
WALTER, NINETEENTH LORD FORBES, who fought at Waterloo; born 1798, married
to Horatia, daughter of Sir John Gregory Shaw, Bart., by whom he had two
Horace Courtenay Gammell, twentieth Lord Forbes.
Hon. Atholl Monson Forbes, born 15th February, 1841; married alice, daughter
of Sir W. H. Dick-Cunyngham, and has issue –
Atholl Laurence Cunyngham, born 1882, Lieutenantin the Grenadier Guards.
HORACE COURTENAY GAMELL, TWENTIETH LORD FORBES, was born 24th
February, 1829, and is now living, unmarried, aged 85.
Marjory Winifred, married to Captain Hugh Edward Walker.
The barony of Forbes is the first on the Union Roll, and as such takes
rank before all the Lords of Parliament.
Arms of Forbes-
Azure, three Bears’ Heads, couped, argent, muzled, gules.
Crest of Forbes-
A Stag’s Head, attired, proper.
Two Greyhounds, argent, each having a plain collar, gules.
"Grace me guide."
Cath-ghairm (Gathering Shout)-
"Loanach" – the name of a noted hill in the district of Strathdon.
The groundwork, or urlar, only seems to be preserved in the popular
rallying tune, "Ca Glenernan Glenochtie," the names of valleys in the same
THE FEUD BETWEEN THE FORBES AND THE GORDONS
John, eighth Lord Forbes, repudiated his first wife, Lady margaret Gordon,
daughter of George, fourth Earl of Huntly, and in consequence a sanguinary
contest took place, in 1572, in the parish of Clatt, Aberdeenshire, between
the two rival Clans. The Gordons, under the command of two of the Earl’s
brothers, attacked the Forbeses within a rude entrenchment which they had
formed on the white hill of Tillyangus, in the South-Western extremity
of the parish, and, after a severe contest, the Gordons prevailed, having
carried the entrenchment, and slain the Master’s brother, Black Arthur.
The pursuit of the Forbeses was continued to the very gates of Druninor,
the seat of their Chief. A number of cairns are still pointed out where
the slain on this occasion are said to have been buried.
John, fourth Laird of Culloden, who took an active part on the side
of the Government, in 1715, with the afterwards celebrated Lord Lovat,
and narrowly escaped being apprehended at Aberdeen by Lord Saltoun, was
named "Bumper John." He earned the title through the ability he possessed,
even in those convivial times, of excelling most of his friends in the
quantity of claret he could drink.