Gilbert Kennedy of Bargany and Ardstinchar, the last laird of the house Kennedy of Bargany, died on 11th December 1601. He was only 25 years old. The laird died no ordinary death – he was murdered. The murderer was his cousin.
The murder was part of the long-running feud between the Kennedys of Bargany and the Kennedys of Culzean, the chief being the Earl of Cassilis. Gilbert Kennedy was killed by the Earl’s men, somebody with a lance stabbed him in the back. Even though he had come to the aid of the Earl at Inch with 40 men when he needed his help, the Earl had him killed.
The Earl had to answer to the Privy Council but went scott-free. He claimed that the laird had been in a group of rebels. Rebels were (by order of the King) to be put down by fire and sword. The Earl was found not guilty.
The young wife of the murdered laird, Janet Stewart Lady Bargany, had to hand her houses and castles to the king. She moved to Edinburgh. In Ballantrae she build a massive mausoleum in which they were buried side by side only four years after her husband’s death.
A sign on Ballantrae Cemetery reads: “Janet Stuart and her husband, who had previously been buried in Ayr were conveyed to their interment in this mausoleum on 15 September 1605 in a stately procession, thus culminatinge over two hundred years of conflict between the two Kennedy Houses of Bargany and Cassilis.”
The 5th Earl of Cassilis was meanwhile imprisoned in Blackness Castle on the Firth of Forth. He had attacked his wife Jean Fleming, the widow of the first Lord Maitland of Thirlestain. Jean Fleming had not been the woman the Earl had originally intended to marry.
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Scotland is a country full of history, stories and secrets. Often, the three cannot be separated. That is what makes this country so wonderful and unique. The stories of this book have been discovered and gathered for Erkenbach’s blog, Graveyards of Scotland, over many years.
Her main sources were historical travel guides from the 18th and 19th centuries, where the finds were scary, beautiful, funny, and sometimes, cruel.This unusual approach to a country’s history has produced amazing results. You don’t have to share the author’s passion for cemeteries to enjoy this book; only a small number of the stories in this collection take place in graveyards, though they do all end in them, so perhaps it helps.
The fairy hill in Inverness, a nitrate murder on Shetland, a family of left-handers, wolves, Robert the Bruce and William Wallace shown in a new light, the secret bay of the writer Gavin Maxwell, a murdering poet and so many things you didn’t know about Scotland, its clans and its history.