In This Issue:
- Marjoribanks of that Ilk: The Senior Line
- Marjoribanks in Eccles
- The American Dimension
- A “New” Ancestor
The Senior Line
Thomas Marjoribanks of Ratho (d. 1557) Distinguished statesman. Acquired lands of Marjoribanks in 1547 |
John of Ratho (d.1550)
Thomas of Ratho (1550-1620)
John of Balbardie (d.1639) Sold Marjoribanks lands. Bought Balbardie |
Thomas of Balbardie (d. 1704) Acquired Barony of Marjoribanks. Registered Marjoribanks arms. |
Thomas of that Ilk (d. 1711) | Andrew of that Ilk (1678-1742)
Andrew of that Ilk (1710- 1766)
Alexander of that Ilk (1750-1830) “The Auld Laird.” Surrendered the barony to create tile free burgh of Bathgate |
Alexander of that Ilk (d.1864) | Rev.Thomas of that Ilk (d.1868) Traveller and author Minister at Lochmaben |
Alexander of that Ilk (d.1923) Rev. George (1842-1921)
Rev. Thomas of that Ilk (1871-1947)
George (1908-1955) William Logan of that Ilk (1910-1991)
Andrew George of that Ilk (b. 1941)
The descent of our chief, Andrew Marjoribanks of that Ilk, can be traced with certaintly from Thomas Marjoribanks of Ratho who served as Lord Clerk Register, head of the legal profession in Scotland, during the infancy of Mary Queen of Scots . The purpose of this article is to briefly trace that descent over a period of 450 years to the present day.
Neither Thomas nor his descendants for several generations styled themselves “of that ilk” i.e.of Marjoribanks, as the original occupants of the Marjoribanks lands in Dumfriesshire had done. Robert, the last Marjoribanks to style himself in that way, died in about 1535. Since both his son and his grandson predeceased him, the lands were transferred to Thomas of Ratho by charter.
This may very well imply that Thomas was not strictly the senior remaining Marjoribanks. Indeed, other evidence suggests that he may have been a junior to John Marjoribanks, the first Marjoribanks to be mentioned in the records of Edinburgh and whose presence there is attested as early as 1503.
It is probable that Thomas had obtained a reversion (i.e. promise of eventual ownership) of the lands at a much earlier date, presumably as security for a loan. Be that as it may, there is no doubt that, by the time another 120 years had passed, any senior line had either died out or lost the status to make any counter-claim.
Thomas’s eldest son, John, died before his father and Thomas’s properties were eventually inherited by his grandson, also named Thomas, who was born in 1550. Why the charter of the lands of Ratho was not granted to the grandson until nearly fifty years after old Thomas’s death is not clear.
He was made a Burgess and Guild Brother of Edinburgh in 1577, as the eldest son of his late father. He married a certain Mary Douglas. He appears to have practiced as an advocate, like his grandfather, but never to have obtained public office. He had five sons of whom John was the eldest and was designated his heir long before his father’s death.
Thomas, the second son, applied unsuccessfully for some of the lands in Ulster to which James Vl of Scotland and I of England was encouraging loyal Scots to emigrate. He was later an officer in the Scots Brigade and the first of a number of Marjoribankses to serve in the Scotch-Dutch Regiment which was permanently stationed in the Netherlands. Another son, George, appears to have been a churchman and also in the service of the Earl of Melrose.
The family seems to have been in some financial difficulty, since the lands of Ratho were sold in 1614 to James Duncan who was the Queen’s barber. At least one Marjoribanks family remained in Ratho. We find that two children were born in the 1680s to one George Marjoribanks, perhaps the son or, more likely, the grandson of George Marjoribanks, the churchman, who was in the service of the Earl of Melrose.
John Marjoribanks, the eldest son of the first Thomas of Ratho, replaced the lost Ratho estates in 1624 when he bought the estate of Balbardie, then just outside what was then the little town of Bathgate, from his nephew Thomas Inglis. Balbardie was to be the family seat for the next 237 years. A few years later he sold the ancient lands of Marjoribanks in the parish of Kirkpatrick-Juxta in Dumfriesshire to Samuel Johnstone of Scheyns, thus forever severing the proprietorial connection betewen the Marjoribanks family and its ancestral lands.
John was made a Burgess and Guild Brother at a banquet given to King Charles I in 1633 and died six years later. Nothing else is known of him and, indeed, for some time his relationship to his ancestors was a matter of dispute and was established with certainty only quite recently.
It would be interesting to know what attitude John and his relatives took in the Scottish rebellion against the rule of King Charles which broke out just before John’s death. There is no mention of any Marjoribankses participating in the rebellion but we can assume from their continued participation in the public life of Edinburgh that senior members of the family signed the Covenant in defence of the Presbyterian Kirk and in opposition to Charles’ arbitarary relgious policies.
John’s son, Thomas, revived his family’s claim to be the senior line and in 1673 was recognized as representer of Marjoribanks of that Ilk and his arms were registered by the heralds. In the same year, a cousin of the cadet branch registered the arms of Marjoribanks of Leuchie, later revised as Marjoribanks of Lees.
John, in addition, acquired from his wife’s family, the Lords of Torpichen, lands and privileges in West Calder. These lands, together with Balbardie, were erected in 1696 into the Barony of Marjoribanks, “to be held blench (free) of the King for the payment of a pair of gilt spurs, or two silver shillings as the value thereof, yearly if asked only.” Unlike many Scots who supported the Roman Catholic James VII of Scotland in opposition to the Protestant English king, William of Orange, John evidently was a loyal subject of William.
John’s eldest son, another Thomas, did not survive his father long and the barony passed to his younger brother Andrew, a lawyer and Writer to the Signet, a high and privileged officer of the court. His law practice seems to have been extensive. He achieved the unusual distinction of becoming a Burgess and Guild brother of both Glasgow and Edinburgh in the same year, 1718. He seems to have been a very careful businessman, keeping the rental books up to date himself and paying such attention to detail that, when letting a dovecote to one George Ritchie, he stipluated that he should receive not only an annual rent of _24 but all the dung as well! In spite of his shrewdness, however, he was short of capital and, in 1728, he mortgaged the estate to a group of creditors, but the crisis seems to have been temporary. He lived to the ripe old age of 84 and died in 1762.
Given Andrew’s longevity, it is not altogether surprising that his two eldest sons predeceased him and that his eventual heir, another Andrew, survived him by only four years. This Andrew was also a Writer to the Signet and one of the Commissioners (legal officers) of Edinburgh.
His son and heir, Alexander, “the auld laird of Balbardie,” is still remembered every year with affection by the people of Bathgate. Although the owner and lord of the barony of Bathgate, he voluntarily gave up the position in order that the town might become a free burgh. He himself was elected its first provost (mayor.)
His real hold on the town’s memory, however, is due to his efforts over many years to secure for its people the money left to them under the will of John Newlands, a wealthy Bathgate- born sugar planter, which resulted eventually in the foundation of the town’s excellent school, Bathgate Academy, which faces on Marjoribanks Street.(The family name is now consistently pronounced MAR-joree-banks in Bathgate) Every year his portrait is carried, along with that of John Newlands, in a procession through the town. Alexander’s banner is inscribed: “He Fought a Good Fight for Bathgate’s Rights.” In 1991 members of The Marjoribanks Family were proud to attend the ceremonies which also include a re-enactmemnt by the schoolchildren of the wedding of Lady Marjorie Bruce, from whom the family name is derived, to Walter Stewart, the founder the the Stewart line of kings.
Alexander married Katerine Lawrie, a descendant of the Earls of Mar and Buchan and the Dukes of Lennox, by whom he had no less than nineteen children. He too had a long life, dying in 1830 at the age of 80. As was common at that time, several of their children died in infancy. William, a naval officer, was lost at sea. James died at the age of 24, as a lieutenant in the service of the East India Company. Another, Erskine, sadly, took to drink and drifted out to Australia where he led a rebellion of miners in the Ballarat gold fields and successfully opposed unconscionable fees imposed by the government of New South Wales.(Erskine is described by Geoffrey Blainey, author of The Rush That Never Ended: A history of Australian Mining, as “Mr E Marjoribanks, an Englishman of good blood, groggy breath and violent tongue “)
Alexander’s heir, also named Alexander, was a great traveller. He published “Travels in New Zealand” in 1845 and “Travels in South and North America” in 1853, and a similar book about Australia. Unfortunately his travels and his literary preoccupations distracted him from the management of his estate and in 1861 Balbardie was sold to the trusteees of Stewart’s Hospital. The fine Robert Adam house which was built by his father was later turned into flats for miners. It has since been pulled down and on its site now stands the Bathgate Leisure Centre.
Eight years after his death one Alexander Adam Marjoribanks, a blacksmith, married Margaret Potter in Edinburgh. The groom gave his father’s name as “Alexander Marjoribanks, landed proprietor (deceased)” and his mother as Margaret Wight, neé Fraser, who seems to have been Alexander’s housekeeper.
The blacksmith and his wife already had one son, also named Alexander, and went on to have another, John, a currier (leather- dresser) and two daughters. This John Marjoribanks married Barbara Roger in 1898 and they had two sons, John and Richard. John is now dead and Richard lives in Busselton, Western Australia, and is proud of his connection with the family.
However, since Alexander, the son of the Auld Laird of Balbardie, died without a legal heir, the headship of the family passed, not to Alexander Adam, the blacksmith, but to a younger brother, Thomas, who was a minister of the Church of Scotland and spent several years at Lochmaben in Dumfriesshire within about five miles of the ancestral lands, now known as Marchbank Farm. His infant daughter, Diane, is buried in Lochmaben churchyard. There is speculation that the little suburb of Marjoriebanks (sic) may have been named after him. His name is spelled in that way — with an unwonted e — in the church records. Certainly the use of that place-name (Before Mr Marjoribanks’ time, the hamlet was known as Bogle Hole, Scots for the ghost hole) dates from his time. He died in 1868.
His eldest son, another Alexander, was banker in Edinburgh and also long-lived. He died childless in 1923 at the age of 83. The position as head of the family reverted to Thomas Marjoribanks who was the son of Alexander’s younger brother, George, a distingusihed churchman. Thomas, like his father, was also a minister and I am indebted to him for most of the information contained in this article.
India has provided employment for many Marjoribankses of several different branches, and all of Thomas’s brothers served in that country: James Leslie as a colonel in the Indian Medical Service, George Erskine as Conservator of Forests, and Alexander as a captain in the 52nd Sikh Regiment.
Thomas, after a devoted and distinguished ministry, died in 1947, leaving three sons. George, after being licensed as a probationer in the Church of Scotland, turned to the Moral Rearmament movement and died in America in 1955. His widow, Elizabeth Marjoribanks Bair, lives in New York.
William Logan Marjoribanks of that Ilk served in the Department of Agriculture and Forests of the Sudan for twenty-three years, seventeen of them as Chief Conservator of Forests. After his return to Scotland, he and his wife, the former Thelma Williamson, whom he married in 1938, devoted twenty years to the service of the National Trust for Scotland as custodians of historic properties.
In the first issue of The Marjoribanks Letter, he wrote: “It occurred to me that, although we are a bit thin on the ground compared with the McLeods, the Grants, the Campbells and the rest, perhaps some of the people who bear the ancient Scottish name of Marjoribanks might like to form a society of their own.”
It was William who, in 1965, established, before the Lord Lyon, the arbiter of all matters heraldic in Scotland, his right to the arms of Marjoribanks and the style of Marjoribanks of that Ilk as direct senior male descendant of Thomas who had first registered the arms in 1673.
Sir James Alexander Milne Marjoribanks, K.C.M.G., William’s younger brother, is a retired diplomat who rose through various posts to become Ambassador to the European Economic Community in 1966. Their sister, Anne Leslie Marjoribanks, who lives in Melrose, Roxburghshire, devoted her life to the nursing profession.
It would perhaps be premature in an historical account to write of the present generation, except to wish our chief, Andrew Marjoribanks of that Ilk his brother John (who, like his grandfather, has done much of the work on which this account has been based) and their families, long life, health and happiness.
The family of Marjoribanks of that Ilk can now point to fourteen unbroken generations since the old Lord Clerk Register marraied Jonet Purves some 470 years ago to found his dynasty. He may well be proud of what his descendants have achieved in those centuries.
 See: The Marjoribanks Journal No. 1:The Family in Sixteenth Century Edinburgh [return]
 The Guild was a group of privileged traders and craft masters who elected members of the City Council. Membership in the Guild was usually inherited or acquired through marriage [return]
 There were still Marjoribankses living in Kirkpatrick-Juxta but they were apparently unrelated to the Marjoribankses of Ratho and may have acquired the name by virtue of having lived or worked on the estate.[return]
Eccles is an extensive but thinly populated parish in Berwickshire, just north of the English border, close to Coldstream to the east and Kelso to the west. It has no obvious connection with either the family’s Dumfriesshire homeland or Edinburgh where so many Marjoribankses appeared in the 16th century. During the 1640s, however, the family colonised Eccles and the surrounding areas in force.
The earliest reference is to Adam Marjoribanks who occupied the mill at Gordon (actually just outside the boundary of Eccles) in 1641. His wife Nicolas was the daughter of the former owner of the mill but Adam’s right to the property was not based on his marriage but on a loan he had made to the Earl of Home. A son, John, a tenant farmer, died in 1671. An Adam Marjoribanks, possibly a grandson of the original Adam, was Clerk of the Session, school master and preceptor (choirmaster) of the pasrish of Gordon between of the parish of Gordon between 1708 and 1711.
William Marjoribanks of Pittilesheuch in 1644 was granted lands in Greenlaw (again a neighbouring parish to Eccles.) In 1647 the Earl granted the substantial farm of Stoneriggs (or Stonerig, in its modern spelling (Rig is a Scots word, meaning a ridge; the ridge between ploughed furrows; in the plural, lands belonging to one farmer or proprietor) to the same William Marjoribanks –or possibly another– again in repayment of a debt. This William — probably a cousin of Adam of the Gordon mill — and his progeny prospered exceedingly for about a century.
Where did these Marjoribankses spring from? There is no direct evidence but there are a number of clues. The fact that their land-owning status derives from money-lending suggests that we should look for them among the commercial class in Edinburgh among whom Marjoribankses were already prominent.(See The Marjoribanks Journal No. 1: “The Family in Sixteenth Century Edinburgh.”)
It is known that William Marjoribanks of Stonerig had a brother John and, as it happens, siblings William (b.1610) and John (b. 1619) are to be found among the sons of James Marjoribanks, hatmaker of Edinburgh and grandson of Thomas Marjoribanks of Ratho. This gives us a likely — but, of course, not conclusive — descent for William Marjoribanks of Stonerig and his family.
Strengthening the belief that these Marjoribankses were originally from Edinburgh is the fact that William’s son John and his grandson William were both married to Edinburgh women. Furthermore, two of the young men of the family are recorded as having been apprenticed to craftsmen in Edinburgh.
William of Stonerig had three sons, Simeon, John and Adam. Simeon,the eldest, inherited the Stonerig property some time after 1659. He married, first, Elizabeth Ker and, after her death in 1 685, Janet Hume.
Simeon’s son John married Joan Crawford and they had four sons and a daughter between 1712 and 1720. The eldest son, Alexander, inherited Stonerig on his father’s death in 1722. (He was only ten years old at the time and did not actually take over the property until l735.) Alexander married his second cousin, Janet Marjoribanks, in 1751. They had four sons and two daughters but none of these children inherited Stonerig. Alexander moved to Horselie in the neighbouring parish of Coldstream in about 176 1 and was still alive in 1774. What happened to the family thereafter remains a mystery.
Simeon’s younger brother, John, either inherited from his father, or purchased with the money left him, the farm of Dedriggs. He also acquired at some point the farm of Crumrigg in the neighbouring parish of Greenlaw. He married no less than three times. By his first wife, Joan Lundie, he had two sons, John and William. By Jean Dalrymple, a widow, he had a son Thomas and, by Margaret Edgar, another son, Alexander. The eldest son, John, inherited Dedriggs in 1707 but does not seem to have passed it on to his own son, also named John. Thomas lived in the neighbouring settlement of Huntlywood where he practiced as a surgeon. He married Agnes Lauder and died in 1712. Alexander inherited a little land in Huntly but otherwise left little trace in the record.
William, John’s son by Jean Dalrymple, appears in the records in 1678 on the occasion of his betrothal to Jean Scott. William died in 1686 and his wife seems to have predeceased him. They did, however, leave four children, of whom John, the eldest, inherited Crumrigg, a substantial property, valued at almost £1,000 in 1725. Thereafter, a series of Johns, all apparently rather short-lived, inherited the farm in due order. Unfortunately, the parish records, whether of Eccles or Greenlaw, give no clue as to their births, marriages and deaths.
Several other Marjoribanks families appear in the Eccles registers in the 18th century, though there is little to show where they came from or where they went. The curious fact is that, in 1798, not one of the farms on which any Marjoribankses are known to have lived were still occupied by members of the family. Clearly they had either died out in the male line or moved away. Tracing their decline is made no easier by the fact that there is a gap in the parish registers between 1734 and 1750. They were not very carefully or comprehensively maintained at the best of times and deaths are not recorded at all before 1800. Even wills are absent but part of the story is told in a series of salines, records of property transfers.
With regard to the Dedriggs property, it is known that John, the grandson of William Marjoribanks of Stonerig, who inherited the farm from his father, was alive in 1734 but there is no date for his death and no will. Since there is no sasine mentioning John’s name or the name of his children, it can be deduced that none of his sons inherited the property. There seem to be only two possibilities, both fairly unlikely. It may be that his three sons all predeceased him and the property passed to the husband of one of the daughters. Or, he may have suffered a massive financial calamity and the farm was either seized to satisfy his creditors or, more likely, reverted to the feudal overlord, the Earl of Home. In fact, Dedriggs is mentioned in 1781 as part of the new Earl’s inheritance.
Stonerig and Crumrigg certainly were both lost because of financial troubles. Alexander, another grandson of William of Stonerig, inherited most of the very large Stonerig property from his father and, for a time, everything seems to have gone well. In 1756, however, he found it necessary to borrow £900 (a very large sum for those days) and in 1761, being unable to repay the capital or to keep up the interest payments, sold the property to an Englishmen, Edward Gregson, for £2,900 (the equivalent today of at least £250,000.) He moved to Horselie, near Coldstream, as the tenant of Sir John Home. He probably died in 1777.
The Gregsons, who bought Stonerig from Alexander, got into even more severe financial difficulties, went bankrupt, and the property was sold to Robert Johnstone, whose wife was Elizabeth Marjoribanks, probably one of the Crumrigg family. The Johnstone marriage was not a happy one, however. She sued him for divorce and Stonerig was sold to a family called Hood, who seem to have, at last, brought the farm some stability.
One house in Stonerig, called Wrangumhill, with a little land, was given to Alexander’s aunt Elizabeth in 1735 after her marriage. It seems to have survived all of the financial vicissitudes and in 1795 was still in the hands of Elizabeth’s son James Dickson.
The troubles at Crumrigg were also protracted. There is a record of debt going back to 1755 and, on at least two occasions, recourse had to be made to the courts to secure payment. The last of the many John Marjoribankses to inherit Crumrigg acquired the property in 1781. He immediately found it necessary to borrow large sums from Thomas Tod, an Edinburgh merchant and Thomas Cockburn, a prominent lawyer. The problem may have been that his father, Major John Marjoribanks of the 1 9th Regiment of Foot, the hero of the Battle of Eutaw Springs, was an absentee landlord and was frequently away on military service. In his absence John and his mother seem to have lived at Musselburgh and left the management to a tenant who was married to John’s aunt. In any case, John went bankrupt and his trustee sold Crumrigg to Cockburn, the lawyer, in 1784 to clear the debt and the estate passed out of Marjoribanks hands for more than a century. It returned to the family towards the end of the 19th century when it was purchased, as part of a larger estate, by James Marjoribanks, the father of Commander James Marjoribanks.
At the time John gave up Crumrigg, however, there were at least two Marjoribanks families still living in Eccles. One was that of Captain John Marjoribanks (later Sir John, baronet, Provost of Edinburgh and a member of Parliament, the eldest son of Edward Marjoribanks of Lees.) He owned Eccles House, with a considerable estate, but he was, in Eccles terms, a Johnny-come-lately and only a very distant relative of the Marjoribankses of Stonerig, Crumrigg and Dedriggs.
The second family was that of John Marjoribanks, a tenant farmer at Crosshall, known in Eccles as the Home Farm, presumably because it formed part of the lands of The Hirsel, seat of the Earl of Home. He married Charlotte Ferrier in 1776 but, because of the inadequate parish records, it is not clear whether he was related to the prominent land-owning Marjoribankses of Eccles or to one of the minor families. In any case, he and Charlotte had a son James, born in 1777, who also became a farmer. James married Agnes Hunter in 1821 and died only three years later. His gravestone is still to be seen in Eccles churchyard.
James’ son John, also a farmer, moved to East Lothian and in 1859 married Jessie Bogue, the orphan daughter of a local farmer. Their combined estates prospered. Of their numerous descendants, there seem to be only four who still bear the family name: Commander James Marjoribanks, R.N. (Retd.) of Horndean, Berwickshire; Susan Marjoribanks, daughter of the late Ian Marjoribanks who won the Military Cross during the Second World War; and Ian’s sisters, Anne Marjoribanks of Hampshire, and Sister Alison Marjoribanks, O.S.U., prioress of the Ursuline Convent in Forest Gate, London. A third sister is Mrs. Joan Jeffreys. Ian’s father, Col. Robert Douglas Marjoribanks, who died in 1927, served in the Indian Army, latterly in the Bombay Pioneers with whom he did some useful exploration in the Himalayas.
For the sake of completeness, one other family should be mentioned, in the neighbouring parish of Coldstream. This family was founded by John Marjoribanks, the illegitimate son of James Marjoribanks of Lees, who was born in about 1690, and was set up by his father as a tailor in the Newtown district. The descent of this family is well established (though we don’t know the name of John’s grandson) through eight generations to the present day. Several members are established in Coldstream and the surrounding area.
One of the Marjoribankses of Eccles played a part in history on a much more public stage than that of a quiet Border village. John Marjoribanks of Crumrigg was born in about 1732 and, at the age of 17, was appointed an ensign (the lowest commissioned rank) in the Scotch-Dutch Regiment which was composed of Scots but served permanently in Holland.( A distant cousin, Maj. Gen. Alexander Maryoribanks of Carlowrie, served in the same regiment. His brigade covered itself with glory at the siege of Bergen-op-Zoom in the War of the Austrian Succession in the 1740s.) He was promoted lieutenant and transferred in 1757 to the 19th Regiment of Foot, the forerunners of the modern Green Howards. He was married by 1761 to Marjorie Gordon and they had one son, John. In 1763 he was promoted to captain and to major in 1780. He fought in the Seven Years War at the siege of Belle Isle, where he was wounded. He later commanded a corps of light infantry in Ireland. In 1781 the regiment embarked for Charleston to take part in the War of American Independence. He became a battalion commander under Lt. Col. Alexander Stewart in a mixed force which was surprised by the American general Nathanael Greene at Eutaw Springs, South Carolina, on 6 September, in a battle that virtually ended the war in the South. Major Marjoribanks, commanding the regular infantry, fought with a rock-like gallantry which drew praise from friend and foe alike and is credited with having saved the British from a disastrous defeat. He was mortally wounded and died six weeks later. It is pleasant to record that his American foes erected a monument in his memory.
NOTE: I should like to thank Mrs. Rosemary Bigwood of Edinburgh, my pupil David Kennedy (whose diligent research produced much of the information about Major John Marjoribanks who died heroically at Eutaw Springs,) Commander James Marjoribanks and, not least, my wife Sue, for supplementing my own researches.
 See The Marjoribanks Letter Nos. 3. 6. and 8. [return]
I will gladly supply further details about the family in Eccles to anyone who has a special interest and I would, of course, be pleased to hear from anyone who can add to our store of information
George Marjoribanks was the first Marjoribanks known to have emigrated to what were then known as “The American Colonies” — and he did not go willingly.
George the Jacobite, as he is now familiarly known in the family, fought with the Scottish forces against the English at the Battle of Preston in 1715, in a vain attempt to restore the exiled King James III (the “Old Pretender”) to the throne of England and Scotland. He was captured along with more than a thousand Scottish troops.
The English, recognizing strong Scottish sympathy with the Jacobites, were inclined to be merciful. Only the Earl of Derwentwater and Viscount Kenmure were executed.
George Marjoribanks was taken to Liverpool and put aboard the ship Elizabeth and Anne ( On board the ship were three of our Johnstone cousins, also captured at Preston) on 29 June, 1716, and transported to York in Virginia.
Extensive research in Britain has failed to uncover his origins. It seem quite likely that, on being taken prisoner, he deliberately concealed his family connections to avoid more severe punishment. The best hypothesis is that he may have been the son of George Marjoribanks, a junior member of the family of Marjoribanks of Balbardie and of that Ilk. Unfortunately the relevant parish register is incomplete and it has been impossible to verify this or any other hypothesis. After settling in Amelia County, Virginia, George, as a matter of convenience or to conform with a more egalitarian society, spelled his name phonetically as Marchbanks. He became a prosperous landowner.
In 1717 the British Parliament passed an Act of Grace and Free Pardon to George Marjoribanks and all of the participants in the Battle of Preston — except the Macgregors, whose very name had been abolished by an Act of Parliament a century earlier
At the time of his death in 1740 George left an estate valued at £81/2/3, including a plantation of more than 1,200 acres. Among other items in the inventory were “my two Negro slaves, Peter and Hanna,” evaluated by the appraisers at £30. The will provided that any children born to Peter and Hanna would be “divided equally” among George’s three surviving sons.
George and his wife Ann had four sons: John (who predeceased his father,) George, William and Joseph; and four daughters: Lucy, Mary Ann, Sarah and Ursula.
Descent from his eldest son, George, is well established in several lines. That from the second son, William, is more problematical and I have no information about descent from the youngest son, Joseph or from John.
It is assumed that George continued to cultivate the land inherited from his father until about 1752. At that point he and his brother William were sued in Halifax County, Virginia but failed to make an appearance in court. It is known that they later moved to North Carolina.
George, the son of the old Jacobite, also had a son named George who moved to South Carolina some time before 1790 and he had a son Stephen who died in Greenville, South Carolina, in 1805. Stephen’s eldest son, Stephen Perry Marchbanks (c1805-1891) and his wife Rachel, of Reedy River, South Carolina, had no fewer than ten children, of whom the eldest son was Francis Marion Marchbanks (1825-1901).
Francis Marion’s eldest son was Jefferson Masina Marchbanks(1849-1926) and he farmed in Madison County, North Carolina. His son Marion Lafayette Marchbanks (1872 – 1936) inherited his father’s farm and later moved to Greenville County, South Carolina. Lafayette’s son, Stephen Lewis Marchbanks (1895-1980) worked at the Dunean Mill in Greenville. His son Angus McDaniel Marchbanks, M.B.A., Ph.D, a health care consultant living in Bakersfield, California, was born in 1923 and is descended in the unbroken senior male line from George the Jacobite.
There are numerous members of the family still living in North and South Carolina. According to popular genealogy, they are descended from “a Stephen Marshbanks (sic) who came from England to South Carolina in the 1700s.” It is quite clear, however, from the coincidence of names and dates, that they are, in fact, descended from Stephen Marchbanks (1770 – 1805) of Greenville, South Carolina, the great-grandson of George the Jacobite.
Stephen’s son, Stephen Perry Marchbanks, was one of the founders of the Reedy River Baptist Church at Traveller’s Rest, South Carolina, and the Baptist tradition is still strong among his descendants. A group of them meet each year in the Spring at Travellers Rest and again in Autumn at Mars Hill, North Carolina, to enjoy some home cooking and an exchange of information about ancestors.
How so many of the Carolina members of the family come to spell their name Marshbanks is not known. Norwood Calhoun Harrison of Spartanburg, South Carolina, whose great-great grandfather married the eldest daughter of Francis Marion Marchbanks, insists that the Marshbanks spelling is a mistake.
He says,”On the side-by-side gravestones of Francis Marion and his wife Martha Ann, his name is spelled correctly [Marchbanks] and hers as Marshbanks.”
Marshbanks Hall at Mars Hill College in North Carolina is named in honour of Fuchsia Virginia Marshbanks and her sister Flossie who funded a scholarship program in memory of their parents, William Willis Marshbanks and Dora Anderson Marshbanks. Each year the scholarship assists a member of the family who is a faithful Christian, has an excellent school record, and is active in the community.
A number of American Marchbankses trace their ancestry to William Marchbanks (1771-1790) a younger brother of George, the grandson of George the Jacobite.
William served as a lieutenant in the army in action against the Cherokee Indians in Tryon County, North Carolina in 1771. By 1790 he had moved to South Carolina and had settled in the Pendleton District. He and his first wife. Mollie Smith, had eleven children. The seventh child was Burrell — sometimes spelled Burwell — (1782-1865). He is buried at Shilo Baptist church. Lucinda Marchbanks (1820-1892) was one of the daughters of Burrell and his second wife, Sarah Harwood.
There are no doubt hundreds of American citizens descended in this line but, among those we have identified is William Paul Jackson Jr. of McLean, Virginia, who is the president and senior attorney of a prominent law firm in Washington He is descended in his mother’s line from Lucinda. Virginia Gilmer of Sulligent, Alabama, is descended from the same ancestor. John M. Marchbanks, a certified public accountant of Natchez, Mississippi, and Charles R. Marchbanks of Greenville, Mississippi, are both descended from John Bailey Marchbanks, who was Lucinda’s brother. Dr. Jerry C. Oldshue, an archivist and historian at the University of Alabama, is descended from Melinda Marchbanks, a sister of Lucinda and John.
Three families have been identified who trace their origins to Thomas Marjoribanks and his wife Janet Robertson who lived in Kilmadock, Perthshire, late in the 17th century. The first of their descendants to emigrate to America was Samuel Mandeville Marjoribanks who went to Fishing Creek, South Carolina in 1893. Like George the Jacobite, Samuel changed his name on arriving in America — not to Marchbanks but to Banks. Among his known descendants are: Mrs. Meredith Guinn, Montclair, California; Gerald S. Boswell, Zebulon, North Carolina, and James W. Green II, Winnsboro, South Carolina.
William Jackson of Virginia has collected some interesting biographical sketches of the Marchbanks family in Tennessee, published in the early 1920s. The family is said at one time to have owned a large plantation where Washington, the national capital, now stands and where they had “extensive landed interests and many slaves.”
The first of the Tennessee Marchbankses of whom there is any record was William Marchbanks, said to have been born in Scotland. His “Scotch name” is given as Majoribanks (sic). Where in Scotland he was born is not known but, in the latter part of the 18th century, he moved to Tennessee from South Carolina and became a wealthy farmer. Like many other Carolina Marchbankses he was a staunch Baptist. He and his wife, the former Jane Young, had five sons: Martin, Burton, Albert, Ridley and Andrew J.
Nothing is known of three of the sons but Burton (1801 – 1861) was a farmer and a tanner. Like his father he was a faithful Baptist and, like all of the Marchbankses in Tennessee, a Democrat in politics. He is said to have accumulated “by his own exertions” a fortune of some $75,000
Burton and his wife, Julia F. Goodbar, had five sons: Brice, who died in 1861 at the age of 16; William, a trader in Sparta; Frank, a farmer and machinist; Burton, a druggist; and Columbus, who seems to have been the most distinguished of the brood.
As a young man Columbus Marchbanks worked in his father’s tanyard and interrupted his schooling to join the Confederate Army and take part on the Civil War, achieving the rank of colonel. He was captured in 1864 and remained a prisoner until the war ended in the following year. After the war, he studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1866 and had a distinguished practice for many years in Sparta. His courtroom oratory was said to be “over-awing and overpowering.” He was elected a state senator in 1875-76. He was a loyal Democrat in the family tradition but a Methodist. In 1863 he married Linnie Hart and they had four daughters and a son, John Burton.
Stanton Sanders Marchbanks born in 1882, was the son of Columbus’s brother, Burton, and a distinguished dermatologist and radiologist with a thriving practice in Chattanooga. He married Martha Doolittle of Lawrenceville, Illinois in 1906 and they had two daughters. During the First World War, Dr. Marchbanks was a member of the United States Public Health Service.
Of all the Tennessee Marchbankses, however, the most colourful was Andrew J. Marchbanks, a son of William, the old Scots patriarch and founder of the Tennessee branch. He was born in 1804, soon after the family moved from South Carolina.
Of Andrew’s youth, a local historian had this to say:
“It appears that in early life he was of an idle, obstinate and combative disposition and that at one time he was nearly involved in a duel with Bromfield L. Riley. He was large, angular, raw-boned and awkward; his clothes did not fit him, and he was socially very unattractive and not gifted in conversation.”
His father disinherited him and turned him loose to make his own way. In spite of these formidable handicaps, he graduated from law school and established a successful law practice.
The same historian says of his performance at the bar:
“He is said to have been at first uncouth and sometimes uncivil to his brother lawyers; but his arguments, while lacking polish, were always strong and effective .”
He apparently was effective enough to be appointed a circuit court judge in 1837 and was unsurpassed in the state for his knowledge of land law.
Although awkward and ungrammatical, he enjoyed a vigorous intellect and, in the estimation of his peers was “a man of the strictest integrity and of fearless, unfailing devotion to duty.”
He died in 1866 leaving five children. The only one about whom there is any information was Captain George Marchbanks, born in 1839. He was attending Westpoint Military Academy in 1865 when the Civil War began. He joined the Sixteenth Tennessee Regiment as an adjutant and, during the course of the war, served on the staffs of several Confederate generals. He was captured shortly before the war ended. He was a member of the Tennessee Legislature in 1881 and 1882 and spent the rest of his life as a farmer
American soil seems particularly favourable to our breed. We have only begun to mine the wealth of historical information that exists about the Marjoribanks, Marchbanks, Marchbank and Marshbanks families (as well as the Bankses) who have contributed to the growth of America. It seems likely that we all derive from the same small patch of Scottish homeland and many of our American kinsmen obviously descend from other emigrants than the original rebellious George. Mapping our genealogical landscape will be the task of many generations and it can be done successfully only by individuals who are intimately familiar with their own inheritance. Your contribution would be priceless. Speak up now for your family!
R.J. Marjoribanks, Surrey Robert Marjoribanks, Ottawa
Following the Annual General Meeting in 1991 at Balerno, near Edinburgh, members of The Family visited the Earl of Annandale and Hartfell, chief of the Johnstone Clan, at Raehills, his country seat.
The visitors were shown the Earl’s family archives and he suggested that, because of the close historical connections between the two families, there might be, among his collection of documents, some interesting references to the Marjoribankses.
A local researcher, Duncan Adamson, was engaged to explore some of the packages of documents which were most likely to produce relevant information. At the Annual General Meeting at Lockerbie in 1993 it was announced that Mr. Adamson had indeed made a find.
He uncovered a contract written (in Latin) in 1506 and dealing with “the land of Marjoribanks of ancient extent.” It begins: “1, John Marjoribanks, brother of the late William Marjoribanks of that Ilk . . ”
That John Marjoribanks is well known. He was one of the prosperous members of the family who thrived in Edinburgh early in the sixteenth century as members of the ruling mercantile class. His late brother, however, William Marjoribanks of that Ilk had never been heard of until Mr. Adamson discovered this document, written almost five hundred years earlier.
It seems quite clear that this new-found ancestor was the eldest son of Philippus Marjoribanks de eodem (Philip Marjoribanks of that Ilk,) the first Marjoribanks known to history. Philip’s signature appears as witness to a deed dated 1485.
It appears from the circumstances that William died young and that his son and heir, who became Robert Marjoribanks of that Ilk when he reached his majority, was under age at the time the contract was written. John Marjoribanks, his uncle, William’s younger brother, is acting on his behalf.
One of the parties to the contract is well known in Marjoribanks history He is one of our most distinguished members, Thomas Marjoribanks of Ratho, who was Lord President of the Council and one of the pillars of the government of Mary Queen of Scots and from whom our chief is directlly descended.(See the article in this issue: Marjoribanks of that Ilk: The Senior Line.”)
The document is being examined more closely and it is hoped that it will allow us to deduce more information about the very early Marjoribanks family and its ancestral lands.