heirs and honours

Anyone who has ever tried to google a Scottish town is likely to have made a similar experience: there is always another one with the same name, often significantly larger, in the United States, Canada, New Zealand or Australia. This also applies to the Royal Burgh of Banff in Scotland. There is another one in Alberta, Canada. Like so many other Scottish peculiarities, it has historical reasons but not everything is always as it seems.

Banff harbour Scotland

Sir George Ogilvy was the first Lord Banff. He was also appointed Baron of Nova Scotia 30 July 1627. Newfoundland and Nova Scotia were the first attempts of the Scots to colonise North America. Nobody expected the brand new baron to travel across, he should only provide capital for the colonies, he and a few other wealthy men who wanted titles, not adventures. The new title was available for money. His great-grandson died without an heir, the title Lord Banff went to a sideline of the Ogilvies for a short time, but because the 8th Lord Banff died without having produced an heir, the title no longer exists today.

Banff Aisle to the Ogilvies of Deskford

When the first Lord Banff died, despite two wives, there was only one male offspring left, who could inherit the title. The son, also George and the second Lord Banff, married twice and had two sons with his first wife, who both died before him. Because his second son had a male heir, Sir Alexander Ogilvy, who was now 7th Lord Banff, the 5th Lord Banff, had drowned while swimming with Lord Deskford, the 6th died young and unmarried in Lisbon in 1803. All of his brothers were already dead by that time.

door burials Aisle

The Ogilvies seem to have done everything they could to maintain the title and line, but in retrospect it seems like they fought windmills. Eight Lords of Banff held the family title for only 140 years. Then it was over.
The Catholic Church of St. Mary in Banff was almost completely destroyed after the Reformation. A little is left of the building itself and some graves of the rich families: the burials Aisle of the Ogilvies of Deskford. Sir James Ogilvy, was Provost and responsible for rebuilding the destroyed church.

Many of the other stones belong to the citizens of Banff and influential people of their time. They are old and tell many stories about life in the seaside town throughout history. New ones will not be added, the cemetery is no longer in use.
There is also a Catholic St Mary’s church in Banff, Alberta, Canada. The Canadian Banff has nothing to do with the Ogilvie family, but with George Stephen, the president of the Canadian Pacific Railway, who came from Dufftown in Banffshire south of Banff and emigrated to Canada.

sources and further reading

W. Barclay: Cambridge County Geographies: Banffshire. Cambridge; 1922

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