Boar's head

Alexander Nisbet's Heraldic Plates - Part 2
Andrew Ross & Francis J. Grant

Boar's head


Ross, Andrew (Marchmont Herald) and Grant, Francis J. (Carrick Pursuivant): Alexander Nisbet's Heraldic Plates, Originally Intended for his System of Heraldry, Lately Found in the Library of William Eliott Lockhart, Esq. of Cleghorn, Now Reproduced with Introduction and Notes, Genealogical and Heraldic. Edinburgh: George Waterston & Sons, MDCCCXCII.

 

Part 1 - Introduction
Part 2 - The Origins of the Nisbet Family
Part 3 - Sir Alexander Nisbet and his descendants
Part 4 - Alexander Nisbet, "the Herald"
Part 5 - Memoranda re Branches of the Nisbet Family


Origins of the Family.

The Twelfth Century.

Nisbet first occurs in the public records as a place name in the early part of the twelfth century, when the lands situated in the parish of Edrom and county of Berwick were in possession of the earls of Dunbar and March. Cospatrick, the second earl, who lived in the reigns of Alexander I. (1107-1124), and David I. (1124-1153), granted to the monastery of Coldingham the town lands of Nesebite, a grant confirmed by king David on 17th September 1139. William de Nesebite was witness to a confirmation of the town lands of Nesebite, granted to the priory of Coldingham by Patrick, fifth earl of Dunbar, who lived in the reigns of William the Lion (1165-1214), and Alexander II. (1214-1249).


The Thirteenth Century.

Robert of Nesbit was witness to a charter granted by Robert, son of Alexander of Lundin, to the abbey of Melrose, in the reign of king Alexander II. (1214-1249). Thomas de Nesebite was witness to several charters granted by the above Patrick, fifth earl of Dunbar, to Coldingham, and by Patrick, his successor, the sixth earl, who died in 1248. He was also witness to a charter by Philip of Pethcox to the abbey of Melrose, in the reign of Alexander II. Thomas de Nisbet granted to the abbot and monastery of Melrose two acres of land in Nisbet in the same reign. Robert de Nesebith was witness to a charter by Patrick, seventh earl of Dunbar, who was born in 1213 and died in 1289. In 1255 king Henry III. of England confirmed to the church of St. Andrew at Hexham the whole manor of Nesebyte on the resignation of Walter, son of Walter de Nesebyte.

Thomas Nisbet, prior of the abbey of Coldingham 1219-1240, attested at York, on 18th June 1221 the dower charter by Alexander II. granting to his queen the baronies of Jedburgh and Lessudden. In a statute made by prior Thomas in 1235, giving an account for the benefit of his successors of the possessions and dues of the abbey, occurs the entry: "Thomas de Nisbet et heredes sui pro villa de Nesbyt." In 1299 sir Ranulph de Nisbet was presented by the bishop of Durham to the living of St. Mary Magdalene's hospital, near Wooler. In the Ragman Roll 1296 are entered the names Jone de Nesbyt, William of Nesbyt, and Thomas of Nesebyt.


The Fourteenth Century.

Thomas of Est Nesebyt was one of the jurors on an inquisition held by the sheriff of Berwick on the Monday before St. Andrew's day 1300. This Thomas had his lands in England restored to him 12th June 1304. In 1305 sir Robert de Nesbith paid five marks to Edward I. of England for relief of his lands at Daliel at Martinmas. In 1330 Thomas of Nesbit appears in the exchequer rolls of Scotland as receiving payments on account of the king. In the same accounts, in the following year, occurs the name of Thomas de Nesbyt, designed as the queen's tailor. In 1336 the sum of 20s. is entered as due from West Nisbet for castle ward to Berwick, then in possession of the English. Among the garrison of Edinburgh in 1336-1337 occurs the name of Johan de Nesbyt. In 1340 Robert de Nesbit was one of the English hostages for Berwickshire. John of Nesbythe was witness to a grant by John of Maxwell to the abbey of Dryburgh of the patronage of Pencaitland and Paystoun circa 1343. Adam de Nesbit was witness to a charter by Patrick Dunbar, earl of March and Moray, to Alexander of Ryklynton, confirmed by David II. at Edinburgh 18th April 1364. John of Nesbyth was witness to a charter of the lands of Polkarne in Kyle by William de Conynghame to James de Lepreuyk, confirmed by David II. at Edinburgh 5th December 1365. Adam de Nesbyth was witness to a charter by Malcolm de Fauside to Alexander de Cockburn, confirmed by David II. at Perth 30th January 1366. Adam de Nesbith dominus ejusdem was witness to the deed by which Alexander Lindsay of Ormiston made over to Johanna, his daughter, and her husband, Alexander Cockburn, his lands of Ormiston, Muirhous, Templishall, and Pastoun, in the county of Haddington, confirmed by David II. at Edinburgh 23rd February 1368.

Among the receipts granted to the tenants of Coldingham in 1368 are the following:-

In primis, recepit de Ada de Nesbyt pro decima de West Nesbyt pro eodem anno 26s. 8d. Item. recepit de Patricio de Nesbyt pro decima de Est Nesbyt de eodem anno 40s.

Philip Nisbet de eodem was witness to a charter by George de Dunbar, earl of March, to Henry de Ogoul, of the lands of Popill in East Lothian 1373. His name also occurs in a grant by the same nobleman of the lands of Mordington, confirmed by Robert II. at Edinburgh 6th December 1373.

In 1373 Patrick de Nesbyt rendered to the crown an account of the contributions of the sheriffdom of Berwick to the sum agreed to be paid to England for the ransom of king David II.


The Fifteenth Century.

In the account rolls of Coldingham abbey subsequent to 1406 William of Nesbit was returned as the tenant of two oxgates of land in Ayton of the annual value of 8s. Gilbert, the son of William of Nesbit, was returned as tenant of a toft. Roger, the son of Elya of Nesbit, was returned as tenant of a toft and twenty acres of land in Lambton.

Adam of Nesbyt and Patrick of Nesbit served on an assize for the partition of the lands of Halsington between the abbot of Melrose and the laird of Haliburton in 1428. John de Nisbet served upon an inquisition 12th October 1430. Robert of Nesbit and Patrick of Nesbit are mentioned in an assize of perambulation, 13 November 1430, between William Drax, prior of Coldingham, and Adam Forman. Adam de Nesbit is mentioned in a perambulation of Brokhole and Butterdean 1431.

Patrick de Nisbet, lord of that ilk, is mentioned in letters of testimony regarding the giving "to borght" by the prior of Coldingham to William of Wedderburn, of the lands of Meikle Swyntoun 9th April 1433. Philip, John, and David of Nisbet served on an assize for adjudicating the terce of the lady of Swinton 20th April 1433. In 1439 Johne de Nesbit was admitted a burgess of the guild and trade of Aberdeen.

The names of Patrick de Nesbit of East Nesbit and Robert of NESBIT occur in the same inquisition, dated 3rd December 1444. Thomas of Nisbet was prior of Coldingham from 1446 to 1456. He resigned office in the latter year, and his petition to be permitted to reside in Durham, "where he began his first lyffe," was granted 15th July 1456.

Alexander Nesbit of East Nesbit was witness to an instrument on the claim of Margaret, relict of John Swinton, to the sunny third part of Cranschaws, 8th June 1453.

The Nisbets sent many recruits to the famous band of Scots life guards in the service of the king of France. Taking father Forbes-Leith's lists at intervals, we find in 1450, and for several successive years, Thomas Nesbut; in 1452 and onwards Johe Nesbuth; in 1475 Thomas Nesbet; in 1495 Jehan Nesbet. Disregarding chronological arrangement for one moment, we find in 1505 Jehan Nesbet; in 1537 Nicolas Nezebeth; in 1568 Patris Nezebet. In the equally distinguished rolls of the Scots men-at-arms and archers in France, father Forbes-Leith gives, in 1499 Adam Nesbet and John Nesbet; in 1505-1507 Reingan Nesbet, James Nesbet, Nil Nezebet; in 1546 Gand Nysbet, Robin Nysbet, senior, Robin Nysbet, junior; in 1554 Robert Nes-dret, senior, Robin Nisbert, James Nisbert, Jehan Nisbet. On 13th July 1568 Patrick Nisbet, "archear in the kingis majesties guard of France," borrows from James Nysbet, merchant burgess of Edinburgh, the sum of seventy-six francs, usual money of France, binding himself to repay fifteen shillings Scots for every franc borrowed.

The family possessed the lands of East and West Nisbets, and, although so early as 1368, as appears from the preceding references, East and West Nisbets were in possession of different owners, it is not possible to say, until we come to the middle of the fifteenth century, to which lairdship any particular reference applies, except in the few instances in which the lands are specifically mentioned. Nisbet states (Cadency, p. 173) that East Nisbet went with an heiress to Chirnside of that ilk, without indicating the period. Now, the last reference to a Nisbet of East Nisbet is as above, in 1453; and as in 1503 king James IV. granted to Patrick Hume of Fastcastell the lands of Raufburn and Nesbitishill on the resignation of Elizabeth Nesbitt, domina de Est Nesbitt; and as in 1531 there is also a crown grant to the lady of Wedderburn of the ten husband lands of Brumedikes and the eight husband lands of Maynquarter of Est Nisbett in the county of Berwick, "formerly in the possession of Ninian Chrinside de Est Nesbett," it would appear that East Nisbet passed with an heiress to a Chirnside between 1503 and 1531. The Chirnsides continued to possess East Nisbet until the close of the seventeenth century. The last Chirnside was an officer in the Scots brigade in Holland.


From the middle of the fifteenth century there is no doubt as to the identity of the West Nisbet family.

I. Adam Nisbet of West Nisbet. He is so designed in the charter of 1442, granted to his son Philip (see No. II.) by Patrick Macdowall of Logan. In 1451 he received sasine of the lands of Nisbet. In the following year he is witness to a crown charter of confirmation. In 1454 he received sasine of the lands of Raufburn. On 16th June 1455 he was witness to an acknowledgement by William Bartrem, vicar of Swyntoun, of a gift of meadow land by John of Swyntoun. He was witness to a retour of the inquest finding the lands of Cranschaws a tenandry of the earldom of March, 4th May 1464. In 1467 he was appointed, with the prior of Coldingham, to retour the rents of Berwickshire for the purpose of levying the taxes imposed by the parliament held at Stirling on 12th January 1467.


II
. Philip Nisbet. There is a charter by Patrick Macdowall of Logan, dated at Haddington 1st July 1442, by which he conveys to Philip Nisbet, son of Adam Nisbet of West Nisbet, "omnes terras meas de Reycleuch," the reddendo being one-half of a pair of gloves or two pennies Scots. Raecleuch remained in possession of the Nisbets until the ruin of the family.

III
. Adam Nesbitt de West Nesbitt, designed also as the laird of Nisbett, served on an inquisition at Edinburgh 15th June 1480 to assess the claims of the abbot of Melrose to certain lands and fishings. There is a charter by Thomas Forman of Hutone, proprietor of the half of the lands of Raecleuch, to Adam Nisbet of that ilk of all Forman's lands of Raecleuch, to be held of the earl of Huntly as superior, dated October 1480.

IV
. Philip Nisbet de eodem married Elene Rutherfuird, the second daughter of Robert Rutherford of Chatto, by his wife Margaret, daughter of sir Simon Glendonwyn of that ilk. The names of their children who have been traced are:-
(1) Adam. (See No. V.)
(2) George, who purchased the lands of Dalzell, in the county of Lanark, from his relative,
  John Nisbet of Dalzell (See notice of the Dalzell Nisbets.)

In 1489 sir Philip of Nisbet of that ilk served upon an inquest held at Edinburgh. He received on 11th June 1497 a crown charter "of the lands of Pewtoun and the howss thereof liand near the zettis of Nisbet." In 1506 he had a crown grant to himself and his wife, Elene Rutherfuird, of the ten merk lands of Brygeamschelis, the five merk lands of Argaty, and the five merk lands of Easter Argaty, in the sheriffdom of Berwick. He was one of the representatives of the county of Berwick in the parliament held at Perth on 26th November 1513. On 2nd May 1517 he received a liferent grant of the 10 land of Manderston in Berwickshire, which had fallen to the crown by the forfeiture of Alexander Home of that ilk. The last notice observed of him is as witness to a charter by John Swinton of that ilk to Marion Home of certain lands in the county of Berwick in liferent, 21st October 1522.


V
. Adam Nisbet, eldest son of the preceding, married Lucie Rutherfurd, daughter of George Rutherfurd of Hundalee. The names of their children who have been traced are:-
(1) Philip. (See No. VI.)   (2) George, who had a son and heir, John.

Adam Nisbet and his wife received on 20th May 1502 a crown charter of the lands of Auchinhay, in the stewartry of Kirkcudbright. On 14th May 1523 he was served heir to his father in the lands of Nisbet, Otterburn, Over and Nether Raecleuchs, and Mordington. He was witness to a conveyance by Stephen Tailyefeir, merchant burgess of Edinburgh, to George Cairns in Nuntoun and Mariote Makcullock, his spouse, of the lands of Myddilthrid de Kirkcormack in Kirkcudbrightshire, 5th December 1524. He supported the red Douglases in their struggle with king James V., and on 16th April 1529 he, with his son Philip, was put to the horn for non-compearance to a charge of intercommuning with and assisting Archibald, earl of Angus, George Douglas, his brother, and Archibald Douglas, their uncle (Kilspindie), in their treasonable deeds. He was again denounced for assistance rendered to Archibald, earl of Angus, in raising the siege of the castle of Newark. He appears to have met a violent death in 1530, as on 22nd June of that year a respite is granted to Matthew Hamilton, son to Robert Hamilton in Mylneburn, and Duncan Dundas, brother to James Dundas in New Liston, for airt and pairt in the slaughter of Adam Nisbet of that ilk.


VI
. Philip Nisbet of that ilk married (1) in November 1524, Mariota Hoppringill, daughter of the deceased William Hoppringill of Torwoodlie; and (2) Isobel, daughter of David Home of Wedderburn and his wife Alison Douglas, sister of Archibald (Bell-the-cat), fifth earl of Angus. The second alliance no doubt explains the assistance given by the Nisbets to the Douglases in the struggles of the latter with king James V.

The names of the children of Philip Nisbet who have been traced are:-

(1.) Adam. (See No. VII.)
(2.) George. (See No. VIII.)
  (3.) David of Lukeshiellis and Cockburnsheillis.

Philip Nisbet obtained a brieve of inquest of chancery as heir to Adam Nisbet of that ilk, his father, in the lands of Nether Raecleuch. In 1529 he, with his father, was denounced for assistance given to the insurgent Douglases. On 15th May 1529 he had sasine of the barony of Nisbet and lands of Otterburne. In the following year he was denounced for assistance afforded to thieves and malefactors, in violation of his bonds. He died before 1535.


VII
. Adam Nisbet. There is a precept of clare constat by Jonet, lady Haliburton, eldest daughter and one of the heirs of the late Patrick Haliburton, lord Dirleton, with consent of William, lord Ruthven, her husband, in favour of Adam Nisbet of that ilk, for infefting him as heir of his father Philip in the half of the lands of Over Raecleuch, 7th March 1540.

VIII
. George Nisbet de eodem married Elizabeth Cranstoun, daughter of Cuthbert Cranstoun of Thirlestane Mains, and Isobell Hume, his spouse. They had-
(1.) Philip. (See No. IX.)
(2.) David, witness to a grant by John, lord Thirlestane, to Robert Fleming in Clydeside, of an annual rent from the lands of Cossertoun in the lordship of Musselburgh.
(3.) Alexander, witness to the charter by his brother Philip in 1597 of the twenty shilling land of Auchlane to William M`Clellan of Auchlane. He is also mentioned in the privy council records in connection with the feud between Nisbet of Newtounleyis and the Wauchopes.
(4.) Elizabeth, married William Murray, younger of Rommanois, who predeceased her. She died in August 1655, leaving a son, James.
(5.) Robert, who in 1592 failed to appear to answer a charge that on 29th April of that year he endeavoured by force to eject the
  servants and tenants of his elder brother Philip from the lands and mains of Nisbethill.
(6.) Thomas. On 19th December 1606 he, with Edward Nisbet, merchant burgess of Edinburgh (son of Henry Nisbet, bailie and burgess of Edinburgh; see note on the origin of the Dean, Craigintinnie, and Dirleton families), was accused of the slaughter of James Carmichael, son of the gudeman of Vderine (sic in Justiciary minute-book; probably intended for "Edrom", which was then in possession of the Carmichaels). Their prolocutors were John Nisbet and James Nisbet, merchants, Edinburgh. The result of the trial is not recorded.
(7.) Mr William, witness to a liferent lease by his father of part of the Kirkcudbrightshire property to John Foulartoun of Carletoun and Marion Gordoun, his spouse.

George Nisbet, on 31st May 1551, conveyed to Elizabeth Cranstoun, in contemplation of their marriage, the lands of Mungoiswallis and the west mill of the town of West Nisbet, with the lands of Otterburne. In 1556 he, with Alexander lord Home, Edgar of Wadderlie, and others, were obliged to find caution for their attempted murder of Archibald Douglas of Kilspindie, provost of Edinburgh, at Aberlady on 18th August 1556. There is a precept of clare constat by Patrick, lord Ruthven, in favour of George Nisbet of West Nisbet, for infefting him in the half of the lands of Over Raecleuch, as heir to Adam, his brother (see No. VII.), dated 2nd February 1558.

George Nisbet was one of the members for Berwickshire in the parliament held at Edinburgh in August 1560, at which the reformed religion was established. He had a quarrel with the redoubtable David Home of Wedderburn (the slayer of La Bastie), who, upon Pasche day 1568, with thirty men besieged him in his house at Mungoiswellis, for which the parties were charged to appear before the privy council; Wedderburn failed to do so, and received a renewed charge, but the result of the quarrel does not appear. In 1579 he complained of the manner in which the commendator of Coldingham led the teinds of Nisbet, and they were ordained to be led before the 8th October. He with other lairds entered into a bond at Edinburgh 6th August 1591 for obedience to the king against Bothwell, Hume, and other rebels, and in December of the same year William Borthuik of Sowtray became caution that he would keep the peace on the border. On 14th January 1591 he granted a tack for the remainder of his life to John Foulartoun of Carletoun and Marion Gordoun his spouse, of his three merk land of Meikle Carletoun, in the parish of Borg and stewartry of Kirkcudbright. He died on 14th January 1600, survived by his wife. He was succeeded by his eldest son.


IX
. Sir Philip Nisbet of that ilk married (? in 1582), Elizabeth Haldane, daughter of John Haldane of Gleneagles, and his wife Elizabeth Lundy. They had-
(1.) Alexander. (See No. X)
(2.) Philip, who lived in England, and from whom, according to the herald, descended Thomas and Philip Nisbets, merchants in London.
(3.) Mr Thomas, who married Agnes Purves, and had-
(i.) Philip Nisbet of Ladykirk, who had a son, James, who married Marie Hay; their contract of marriage is dated 4th February 1680. James Nisbet died in Edinburgh in 1684, survived by his wife, and leaving a daughter, Margaret, served heir to her father on 22nd May 1684. She married John Veitch of Dawick, chief of his name.
(ii.) Thomas Nisbet, merchant in Edinburgh, died s.p. in 165-, and to whom his brother Philip was confirmed executor on 28th August 1658.
  (iii.) David. He was alive in 1672.
(iv.) Catherine, married (1) Dickson of Belchester, and had a son and daughter; (2) Henry Home of Heardridge, brother of James, third earl of Home, by whom she had no issue.
(4.) David Nisbet, burgess of Dunbar, witness to his brother's sale of Auchinha in 1597; witness to a bond for 600 merks by his brother sir Alexander, dated at Edinburgh 31st May 1634, recorded (office Hay) 27th January 1640. In 1639, in a bond for 1000 by his brother sir Alexander, to Alexander Lowis, merchant burgess of Edinburgh, David is designed "portioner of Dunbar, my brother-german." He had a son, Philip, served heir to his father in two tenements in Dunbar 16th June 1658.
(5.) Margaret, married to Mow of Mowismaynes, and had issue, who succeeded to that estate.

Philip Nisbet was served heir to his father George in the lands of the town and territory of West Nisbet, one half of the lands of Otterburne, the lands of Nether Raecleuch, and in the dominical lands of Mordington on 9th July 1601. His marriage with Elizabeth Haldane appears to have taken place nineteen years previously, as on 31st May 1582 the crown confirmed (1) the charter, dated at Edinburgh 4th April 1582, by which George Nisbet of that ilk conveyed to his son Philip and his future wife Elizabeth Haldane, the lands of Crwnkle and Castelland in the lordship of Nisbet and county of Berwick; (2) the charter by which he conveyed to them the lands and town of West Nisbet, and one half of the lands of Otterburne in Berwickshire, and the lands of Carletoun, Auchlane, and Auchinha, in the parish of Borg, in the county of Kirkcudbright, reserving the liferent of himself and his wife, Elizabeth Cranstoun. Philip Neisbet, designed in the conveyance as junior de eodem, sold, on 6th May 1597, the nine merk lands of Carlton and Auchinha to James M`Clellan, tutor of Nuntoune, the charter being confirmed by the crown on 9th May 1597. On 9th April 1597 he conveyed to William M`Clellan of Auchlane the twenty shilling land of Auchlane, in the parish of Kirkormok and stewartry of Kirkcudbright - confirmed by the crown 12th July 1598 - the liferent of his father on both occasions being reserved. About the same time (the charter is dated 30th May 1597) he acquired from John Sleich, portioner of Over Raecleuch, and his wife Catherine Barclay, their equal half of the lands of Over Raecleuch. On 4th March 1605 he received the honour of knighthood at the hands of the earl of Dunfermline, lord chancellor of Scotland, his majesty's commissioner. In 1625 sir Philip Nisbet was appointed one of the commissioners to represent Berwickshire in the parliament held at Edinburgh on 31st October in that year, when he was appointed on the committee for the coin.


X
. Sir Alexander Nisbet of that ilk, knight, succeeded to the family estate in Berwickshire before July 1630, his father Philip having disposed of the estate in Kirkcudbrightshire. He represented the county in the parliament held at Edinburgh in 1630, when he served on the committee appointed to consider the patent granted to the earl of Linlithgow for the manufacture of gunpowder. His wife was Katherine Swinton, only daughter of Robert Swinton of that ilk, by his first wife Katherine Hay, daughter of William Hay of Yester. The date of his marriage to Katherine Swinton has not been ascertained, but it most probably took place in 1609, their sasine in the lands of West Nisbet, in which they are described as spouses, being dated 20th October 1609. By his wife he acquired a considerable estate. She was the owner of lands in Greenside, and fishings in the Tweed, near Norham, and of the temple lands of Templehouse and Stridlings, in the county of Berwick, to which she succeeded on the death of John Swinton of that ilk, her brother german. These lands were subsequently conveyed to sir Alexander Swinton of that ilk, dame Katherine's half-brother by her father's second marriage with Jean Hepburn, sister of Patrick Hepburn of Whitecastle. The terms upon which the reconveyance was made have not been traced, but from the register of inhibitions for Berwickshire for 1633 it appears that sir Alexander Swinton obliged himself to pay in that year to dame Katherine Swinton and her husband, sir Alexander Nisbet, the sum of 45,000 merks - in consideration no doubt of the reconveyance of the lands. In 1634 the spouses acquired from lord Cranstoun the property of Runnilton and Runniltonlaw. Their children were-
(1.) Sir Philip, an officer in Charles I.'s English army, governor of Newark-upon-Trent; taken prisoner at Philiphaugh, and executed at Glasgow 22nd October 1645.
(2.) John, designed in a bond to him by his father for 800 merks Scots, dated 17th March 1640, as the second son, lived in England, and left a daughter, Catherine, married to William Brown, son to George Brown, elder of Blaickburne. Catherine was served heir in general to her father 6th February 1664.
(3.) Colonel Robert Nisbet, designed in a bond to him by his father for 400 merks Scots, dated 17th March 1640, as the third son; captured with Montrose at Invercharron, Ross-shire, and executed in Edinburgh May 1650.
  (4.) Major Alexander, killed at the siege of York, 1644.
(5.) Adam. (See No. XI)
(6.) Jeanne, to whom her father, on 16th August 1639, granted a portion of 640 merks yearly for two years out of the lands of West Nisbet. In the bond she is designed as eldest lawful daughter.
(7.) Elizabeth, who, on the same date as her sister, received a portion of 480 merks yearly for two years out of the lands of West Nisbet. She is designed in the bond as second lawful daughter.
(8.) Kathren*
(9.) Margaret*
(10.) Helene*
* who sign the disposition to John Ker of their rights in the estate of West Nisbet, 31st March 1652.

The dates of the birth of sir Alexander's children have not been ascertained, but his marriage with Katherine Swinton having taken place by October 1609 his sons would be in early manhood when the civil wars broke out. Three of them, Philip, Robert, and Alexander, attained distinction in the struggle, and before tracing sir Alexander's own lengthened career to a period subsequent to the Restoration, it will be well to give an outline of the information collected concerning the fortunes of his four elder sons.

The eldest, sir Philip, on the breaking out of the civil war, was abroad, having left Scotland after 1638. He hastened home, and, arriving in England, was knighted by king Charles and placed in command of a regiment, a position given almost solely upon these grounds; either great territorial influence, implying the ability to raise men, or the command of money to purchase their services. He was governor of Newark-upon-Trent when the town was successfully defended against the Scots army under Alexander Lesley, earl of Leven. When the siege of the town was raised by the advance of prince Rupert, he accompanied that commander in his expedition northwards to aid the marquis of Newcastle in raising the siege of York. Sir Philip then joined Montrose, accompanied him in his invasion of the south of Scotland in the spring of 1644, and in April of that year was at Dumfries when the king's standard was raised. A summons of treason was immediately raised against Montrose, Nisbet, and their chief companions in arms, and on 11th February 1645 decree of forfeiture was pronounced by the Scottish parliament. Montrose, deserted by his English followers, and in face of an overpowering force of covenanters, was obliged to give up the idea of an invasion of Scotland from the south, and leaving the Scottish cavaliers who had thrown in their lot with him to return to the king at Oxford, he, in company with sir William Rollo and colonel Sibbald, reached the Highlands, where he raised the clans in arms. The exact date when sir Philip rejoined him does not appear.

For a while the generalship of Montrose turned the balance; but Philiphaugh was at hand. Sir Philip was present on the fatal morning of Saturday, 13th September 1645. He escaped from the field with a small party, among whom were the earl of Hartfield, the lords Drummond and Ogilvy, sir Robert Spottiswoode, sir Alexander Lesley of Auchintool, sir William Rollo, William Murray, brother to the earl of Tullibardine, Alexander Ogilvy of Innerquharitie, Nathaniel Gordon, and Andrew Guthry, son to the bishop of Moray. Losing their way, they were made prisoners and conveyed to Glasgow, and even yet, at an interval of two centuries and a half, one reads with a pang of the fate meted out to men who had faced death in many a well-stricken field:-

"GLASGOW, 21 October 1645. - Forsameikle as by decreit and sentence of parliament of the fyft and elevent of Februarie last Mr William Rollock Alexander Ogilvie of Innerquharitie and sir Philip Nisbet are forfault and doome and sentence of law pronounced against them be a dempster for the causes conteaned in the said sentence as the same read and considered be the lords and others of the committie more full proports. Therefor the said committie ordeanes the said Mr William Rollock Alexander Ogilvie and sir Philip Nisbet now prisoners in Glasgow and who wer latly tane in rebellioun with James Graham to be brought befor the comittie presently and the sentence forsaid to be intimat and read to them and given out as doome of law be a dempster. Lykas the saids three trators being personally present before the comittie the said sentence was read in their hearing and the doome therein conteaned pronounced be Johne Wilson dempster. The execution wheroff the committie ordeanes to be upon the person of the said Mr William Rollock this efternoone at the mercat croce of Glasgow and upon the saids Alexander Ogilvie and sir Philip Nisbet at the same place upon the morne efternone by straiking off thair heads from thair bodies, and ordeanes the provost and baillies of Glasgow to sie this sentence put in execution."

To this grim extract from the minutes of the committee of estates may be added the herald's words. He writes of the family of Ogilvie of Innerquharity:-

"Those of this Family were both Brave and Loyal. Alexander Ogilvy eldest Son of Sir John Ogilvie of Innerquharity a Youth scarce 20, but Valiant above his Age: For his Loyalty to his King was execute at Glasgow, 28th October 1645, with Sir Philip Nisbet eldest Son of Sir Alexander Nisbet of That-ilk, Chief of the Name, by the cruel Rebels of the Times. The last mentioned had done honourable Service in king Charles I.'s Army in England, and had the Command of a Regiment there; however, they both suffer'd at one Time a noble Death with Patience and Constancy, as became good Christians and Loyal Subjects, and were interred both together in the Church-yard of Glasgow, where those of the Name of Nisbet in that Town erected a Tomb-stone for the Honour of their young Chief Sir Philip Nisbet, with his Arms, being, Argent, three Boars Heads erased sable."

A most diligent search has failed to discover any trace of the tomb, but an antiquarian friend in Glasgow has kindly forwarded to the writer a significant extract from the burgh records of Glasgow, under the date 1st November 1645:-

"Ordanis the thesaurer to have warrand for the sowme of twentie pundis money debursit be him at command of the magistratis to ane executioner that was sent for out of Irving, and for vi. li. xvi. s. he debursit for his chairgis ordinar and extraordinar the tyme he was heir."

And he adds:-

"None of the three 'trators' had anything to do with Glasgow, but Glasgow had been a little too civil to Montrose after Kilsyth (15th August 1645), and the execution was no doubt an object lesson for her benefit on the risks of royalism."

Glasgow then declined the honour of providing an executioner and devolved the duty upon Irvine. Is it too much to express the hope that "those of the name of Nisbet" residing in the second city in the empire will replace the monument raised by the loyalty of their ancestors to the honour of their chief?

John, the second son, was the peaceable member of the family. There is a bond by him, dated at Kelso 8th June 1649, in which, as "eldest lawfull sone to sir Alexander Nisbet, sumtyme of that ilk knight," he binds himself, under a penalty of 500 merks, not to molest the owner of West Nisbet in possession of the property. He does not appear to have taken any active part in the civil war, or in the struggles of his father with the West Nisbet creditors.

Colonel Robert Nisbet, the third son, according to the herald, accompanied his father and brother to England and served in king Charles's army. There is no direct evidence to show that he is identical with the colonel Robert Nisbet who, along with captain Thomas Ogilvy, younger of Powrie (by an inadvertency sheriff Napier, in his Life of Montrose, give colonel Robert's christian name as "Thomas"), was sent by king Charles with dispatches to Montrose in October 1645, announcing the advance of a force of cavalry from England, and whom Montrose sent on as special envoys to the marquess of Huntly and the earl of Aboyne, in the hope of inducing these noblemen to render him active assistance in his struggle for the king; but there is no reason to doubt that he is. He was in Scotland in 1648-9, as appears from the papers preserved at Nisbet house, which include a letter of colonel Robert's in exquisite handwriting, and he afterwards went abroad. He formed one of the band of Scottish exiles who accompanied Montrose in his last expedition in 1650, and was among the officers captured at Invercharron in Ross-shire when the surprise by Strachan took place in April of that year. With his great commander he was taken to Edinburgh and executed in May 1650.

Concerning the fourth son, Alexander, the brief record has come down to us that he served in king Charles's army in England, attained the rank of major, and was killed at the siege of York in 1644.


Part 1 - Introduction
Part 2 - The Origins of the Nisbet Family
Part 3 - Sir Alexander Nisbet and his descendants
Part 4 - Alexander Nisbet, "the Herald"
Part 5 - Memoranda re Branches of the Nisbet Family

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