In This Issue:
Did you ever look at the heraldic badge on the cover of The Journal and wonder where it came from? If you did, than this little article may satisfy some of your curiosity and, I hope, whet your appetite for more knowledge about that bright, colourful and fascinating subject — heraldry.
It consists of the chiefs crest, a demi-griffin issuing from a crest-coronet of four strawberry leaves (three visible) and surrounded by a buckled strap on which appears the chiefs motto “Et Custos et Pugnax” (both guardian and warrior.) The griffin is a mythical beast with the forequarters of an eagle and the hindquarters of a lion — a heraldic representation of ecclesiastical and civil authority conjoined, according to Alexander Nesbit in his influential 1722 book “A System of Heraldry.” (1), in which he also describes the griffin as a combination of wisdom and fortitude.
Very few Scottish families bear the griffin in their heraldic achievement. One other is the Forsyths, formerly lords of Torthorwald, who at one time in the early 15th century may have been connected with the Marjoribankses in Annandale. The use of the griffin by the Marjoribankses was remarkably prophetic in that, in the 18th and 19th centuries, most of the chiefs of the family were either Writers to the Signet (lawyers) or Ministers of the Kirk, a fact which was celebrated much later when the chief was granted supporters to his coat of arms (but more of that anon.) The crest-coronet of strawberry leaves is there because this is the crest of a Chief of Name and Arms. Peers of the realm have their own special coronets, but most of us have to be satisfied with a simple wreath of twisted cloth in the two main colours of our coat of arms (a wreath of the liveries.)
The buckled strap with motto identifies this as a “clansmans badge” for use by everyone in the Family as a cap badge or brooch, but not for use on such things as personal stationary or silver. The reason for this restrictiveness is that the crest and motto are part of the full heraldic achievement of the chief and, under Scots Law, are his personal property. Whats more, any items marked with them or any other part of his full achievement (which consists of coat of arms, helmet, crest, motto and supporters) are also regarded as the chiefs personal property.
Scotland has one of the best-ordered systems of heraldry in the world, which is one of the reasons why it is so vibrant today. The beauty of the system is that reputable persons of Scottish connection (regardless of nationality) can register their own heraldic achievement. This is then their personal property, protected by law, which will pass to their heirs in perpetuity. As the purpose of heraldry is to identify, it can achieve its objective only if a heraldic achievement is unique to an individual. It is also greatly helped if related individuals have visually related heraldry. The Scottish system as we know it today, which satisfies both these criteria, was introduced in 1 673 with the opening of the “Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland” maintained by the Lord Lyon King of Arms in New Register House in Edinburgh (the”Lyon Register”) in order to bring clarity and order to a situation which had become confused by the inappropriate use of heraldry. Quite a number of Marjoribankses over the years have taken advantage of the law and registered arms in Lyon Register. The first two to do so were Thomas Marjoribanks of Balbardie and Joseph Marjoribanks of Leuchie, both in the first volume of the register in 1673.
Balbardie registered “argent a mullet gules on a chief sable a cushion or” and was described in the register as “Representer of Marjoribanks of that Ilk.” Our present chief is his six-greats grandson. Leuchie registered “argent on a chief gules a cushion between two spurrowels of the first.”
The second phrase describes the main “charge” on the shield. In Leuchies case, there is no charge, but Balbardie has a “mullet gules.” A mullet is a five-pointed star which some authorities (2) say is the same as “spur-rowel” in which case it can be drawn with a hole in the middle. Gules, or red, is the colour of the star. The word “chief” in the jargon denotes the top one-third of the shield, so the phrase in Balbardies blazon “on a chief sable a cushion or” means that the top third of the shield is sable, or black and on it there is a cushion. The word “or” tells us that it is a golden cushion, normally represented as yellow. Leuchie also has a chief, in his case gules or red and on it a cushion between two spur-rowels. The colour of the cushion and its attendant spur-rowels is given to us in the words “of the first” which means that they are the same colour as the first colour colour mentioned in the blazon, argent or silver, represented as white.*
To remind you of the effectiveness of the jargon once you know it, let me try to render Balbardies blazon in eleven words in laymans English: “The shield is divided into two parts horizontally by a line twice as far from the lower margin of the shield as from the upper. The lower part is white with a red five-pointed star on it and the upper part is black with a yellow cushion on it.” I make that fifty words. Even on this old and therefore simple coat of arms the jargon makes a huge difference. Imagine trying to describe the coat of arms of Canada, Australia or, say, the State of Maryland, without using the jargon. It would take several pages.
One interesting thing to note about the Balbardie and Leuchie coats of arms is how closely they are related. They contain the same elements, a chief, a cushion and a mullet or spur-rowels, but ordered in a different way. This is no accident as it conforms to the established principle of differencing whereby two branches of the same family can show with pride both their common heritage and their separate identity. Common heritage can be adduced through heraldry, as in the example of the Forsyths of Torthorwald sharing a demi-griffin crest with the Marjoribankses of Balbardie.
[In the illustrations above, colours are indicated according to the “engravers convention”:
Argent (Silver/white) Blank
Or (Gold/yellow) Dotted
Gules (Red) Vertical lines
Azure (Blue) Horizontal lines
Sable (Black) Cross hatched ]
Nisbet tells us that three other Scots families bear or bore the cushion. Kirkpatrick of Closeburn, whose arms are “argent a saltire and chief azure the latter charged with three cushions or” bear as their crest a dagger and as their motto “I mak sikker” (“I make sure”) in memory of their ancestor Roger who, in the tumultuous times at the start of Robert the Bruces reign, murdered Bruces rival, Red John Comyn, in the church at Dumfries with several stabs of the dagger.
Lundie of that Ilk formerly bore ‘paly of six argent and gules overall on a bend azure three cushions or.” In the 17th century Lundie was allowed to adopt “the arms of Scotland within a bordure gobonated argent and azure” in recognition of their descent from a natural son of King William the Lion (1165-1214.)
Brisbane of Bishopton, “an ancient and principal family of the name,” bear “sable a chevron chequey or and gules between three cushions of the second.” Its worth noting that four of these ancient families have golden cushions. It is an armorial figure of which the family can be proud.
Before the Lyon Register opened in 1673 there are several interesting records of Marjoribanks arms.
No. 1 .Mr. Workmans Manuscript of 1565/66, stored in the Lyon Office, records the arms of Marjoribanks as “argent a mullet gules on a chief of the second a cushion of the first.” These are the first recorded arms yet discovered.
Mr. Point’s manuscript of 1624, also held in the Lyon Office, contains three Marjoribanks blazons.
No. 2. Marjoribanks of Ratho is given as “argent on fess gules three cushions of the first between a mullet and a cushion of the second.”
Two other Marjoribanks blazons are given without terretorial designation:
No, 3. “Argent on a chief gules a cushion between two spur-rowels of the first (Later registered in Lyon Register as Marjoribanks of Leuchie).
No. 4. “Argent on a fess gules three cushions of the first between as many mullets of the second”
No. 5. Dated 1628, four years after Ponts MS, an emblazoning (portfolio of drawings) of Gentlemens Arms, kept in the Lyon Office, shows Marjoribanks as “argent a mullet gules on a chief sable a cushion or.” (Later registered in Lyon Register as Marjoribanks of Balbardie.)
No. 6. A printing by Stoddart in the 1880s of a Register of Gentlemens Arms in the reign of Charles II (1660-1685) blazons for Marjoribanks of Ratho “argent on a fess between a mullet in chief and a cushion in base gules three cushions of the first.” (In effect, the same blazon as No. 2.)
The interesting thing for the family about this proliferation of Marjoribanks arms in the 16th and 17th centuries is to relate it to branches of the family that we know about from other sources. Coat No. 1. is most likely to be the arms of Robert Marjoribanks of that Ilk, head of the family in the mid-l6th century. By the early 17th century, four coats of arms were in use: No. 2. (Ratho); No. 3. (Leuchie); No. 4. (no known territorial designation); and No.5. (Balbardie.) Fifty years later, Leuchie and Balbardie registered their arms in the new Lyon Register.
We know that John, the first Marjoribanks laird of Balbardie, was the son of Thomas, last Marjoribanks laird of Ratho, so why did he give up the Ratho coat of arms? I feel the answer lies in the description in Lyon Register of Balbardie as “Representer of Marjoribanks of that Ilk.” The coat of arms adopted by Balbardie is the same as the mid-16th-century coat (No. 1.) except that the tinctures (colours) have been changed to reflect more closely the arms of Johnston of that Ilk. Roberts line appears to have died out and the arms of the chief, augmented by the more historic colours, were claimed by the next senior branch, Balbardie.
Three hundred years later, in a splendid 1962 Lyon Court judgment delivered by Lord Lyon Sir Thomas Innes of Learney in full heraldic regalia, Balbardies seniority was confirmed when our late chief, William Marjoribanks of that Ilk, was acknowledged as Chief of the Name and Arms of Marjoribanks and the undifferenced Balbardie arms were re-registered in his name. (4) In an unusual postscript to that event our chief in 1978 was granted by the Lord Lyon the right to supporters for his coat of arms in recognition of the considerable stature of the family. The supporters granted were a man garbed in the robes of a Doctor of Divinity in the Church of Scotland in the 19th century and a man garbed in the robes of a Writer to the Signet in the 18th century, in recognition of the two callings followed by many of the Chiefs of Marjoribanks.
The descendants of Joseph Marjoribanks of Leuchie have not been armorially idle either. Josephs great-nephew Edward Marjoribanks, a wine merchant in Bordeaux who had inherited the estate of Lees from his second cousin, re-registered the arms in his own name as Marjoribanks of
Lees in the 1780s. The senior line of his decendants ended with Sir William Marjoribanks, fourth baronet of Lees, in 1888. However, one of Edwards younger sons, another Edward, was a successful banker in London. The youngest of his three sons, Sir Dudley Coutts Marjoribanks, registered a differences version of the arms of Marjoribanks of Lees in his own name.
He was later elevated to the peerage as Lord Tweedmouth. Lord Tweedmouths differences were “an inescutcheon argent charged with a hand gules” (as a baronet the addition of supporters and a baronets coronet of six silver balls visible
Lord Tweedmouth’s line died out with the death of his grandson, Dudley Churchill Marjoribanks, third Lord Tweedmouth. John S.L. Marjoribanks, great-great-grandson of the Edward Marjoribanks of Lees who had registered arms in the 1 780s, would now be able to register those undifferenced arms of the 1 8th century in his own name, if he so wished. And any of his relatives bearing the name Marjoribanks, such as the Family Genealogist, Roger Marjoribanks of Guildford, Surrey, could register their own arms with a difference to show their relationship to the holder of the undifferenced arms of Marjoribanks of Lees. As an example of this, the writer, as a younger son of of the then chief, in 1 965 registered his own arms, Marjoribanks of that Ilk differenced to show his place in the family as a younger son or cadet branch by the addition of a “bordure of gules.”
This brings me full circle to the point made at the beginning that heraldic achievement is the personal property of the individual in whose name it is registered in the Lyon Register. It may not be used in any form by anyone else, with three exceptions: it may be used by clansmen and women in the strap-and-buckle badge (although even this is objected to by some authorities (5); it may be used by his spouse and minor children; and it may be used if so warranted (By Appointment to . . . ) But everyone of good standing is encouraged to register their own arms in Lyon Register and then those arms become their personal property, fully protected by the laws of Scotland. So lets see a few more Marjoribanks arms registered, especially by bearers of the name in North America and Australasia. What better way of demonstrating your loyalty to the family than by registering your very own coat of arms?
And why dont we consider the idea of registering a “corporate” coat of arms for The Marjoribanks Family as a clan society? (5) Then we could have a full-colour heraldic achievement at the masthead of The Marjoribanks Letterinstead of just a strap-and-buckle badge. Whats more, all members of the Family could use the societys coat of arms on their own stationery if they wished, whether their name was Marjoribanks or not.
(1) Nesbit, Alexander; A System of Heraldry, Speculative and Practical: with the True Art of Blazon, According to the Most Approved Heralds in Europe; New Edition; T&A Constable, Edinburgh, reprinted 1984.
The founder of the family which eventually came to be known as Marjoribanks of Lees was Joseph, a wine and fish merchant of Edinburgh and the owner of a fine mansion at Preston, a few miles east of the city.1 He is thought to have been a grandson of Thomas Marjoribanks of Ratho, the Lord Advocate in Queen Marys reign, and thus first cousin of the second Thomas of Ratho, ancestor of the line of Marjoribanks of that Ilk.
For five generations this family thrived as merchants, bankers and landowners in and around Edinburgh. Their tendency to specialize in banking was just as noticeable as the preference of the Ratho/Balbardie branch for the law. During the 18th century, for instance, no fewer than five of them became Deputy Governor of the Bank of Scotland (out of a total of only seventeen names) while a sixth became City Treasurer of Edinburgh.
Joseph, who died in 1635, had three sons. The eldest, Joseph, died without children and his brother Andrew had two sons, both of whom also died without children. His second son, John, was evidently extremely prosperous, acquired the estate of Leuchie and matriculated arms in that name and died in 1659.(See “Heraldry and the Marjoribanks Family” in this issue)
* Joseph, the eldest, inherited Leuchie but died along with his only son in the ill-fated Darien Expedition of 1698 which attempted to found a Scottish trading establishment on the Isthmus of Darien near Panama. Leuchie then passed to a younger brother, John.
* Andrew was a merchant in the Baltic trade, based at Danzig, now Gdansk. (An account of the funeral expenses of Andrews daughter Margaret has survived. It amounts to almost £2,000, a substantial sum in the currency of the day, and throws interesting light on Scottish customs of that time.)
It was certainly a break with tradition for James to move so far away from Edinburgh where all the family business was, yet there already were Marjoribankses moving from Edinburgh to the Borders.(See The Marjoribanks Journal No.2, ‘The Family in Eccles.” )
Of the generation following James and his brothers, only two are of any great interest. General Alexander Marjoribanks of Carlowrie who served the Dutch as commander of the Scotch brigade, and his younger brother Edward who was a confirmed Jacobite and served The Old Pretender (James Ill) as secretary and intelligence officer in Cadiz. The rest of the family seem to have been staunch supporters of the Hanoverian monarchy but it is unfortunate that we have so little information about family attitudes either to the civil wars of the 17th century or the Jacobite risings of the 18th century.
* Edward, who was suspected of having Jacobite connections, was by profession a wine merchant, practising at Bordeaux. A surprising turn of events brought him back to Scotland. His great uncle Jamess line had failed and the provisions of an entail left him as the only qualified survivor. He hurried back to claim his inheritance and settled down to the life of a country gentleman, rematriculating the family arms as Marjoribanks of Lees.
Edward is the first of the family of whom we have any personal description. He was, says his grandson Charles, stately and most companionabl e, quite the picture of an old gentleman of most agreeable manners though with little education. He was a martyr to gout (and therefore abstemious) but with a violent and excitable temper, amounting almost to madness at times, so that he had to be physically restrained. Through his wife, Grizzel Stewart, he was connected with the Coutts banking family and he conducted much friendly correspondence with Thomas Coutts, the true founder of the modern Coutts Bank. This friendship was inherited, much to their advantage, by his five sons who form perhaps the most brilliant group ever to grace the Marjoribanks name.
* Campbell joined the East India Company, rose to become a director, and was twice elected chairman of the company. In manner he was grave, at times harsh. One has the impression of a very able but pompous personality.
* Stewart, a shipping magnate, was more genial and became the Member of Parliament for Hythe, an appropriate constituency for someone in his business since it is one of the historic Cinque Ports. Marjoribanks Street in Wellington, New Zealand, is named for him and his vessels brought many of the original settlers. Stewart and his brother Campbell lived together at Bushey Hall in Hertfordshire. When Campbell died Stewart married the widowed Lady Rendlesham but they had no children.
* James, owing to Thomas Coutts good offices, went into the Bengal Civil Service and rose to a judgeship there. He had an illegitimate son, also named James, who returned to England after his fathers death, married and had children, although it has not been possible so far to trace any descendants.
* William was employed by Thomas Coutts in his shipping line and rose to be captain of a merchantman before inheriting Lees and the baronetcy in 1833. His two sons inherited the baronetcy in succession and are still remembered for benefactions to Coldstream but neither had any children and the baronetcy became extinct in 1888.
* Charles also obtained a place in the East India Company, based initially in Macao. He became president of the China Committee of the company and later the Liberal Member of Parliament for Berwickshire, but he died in 1833, aged only 39.
* David went into the stock-broking firs on Antrobus, another Coutts connection, and eventually became a Member of Parliament in Charles old constituency. He changed his name to Robertson when he married, in order to inherit his father-in-laws money and property. When he was offered a peerage, however, he recovered the family name by choosing the title Lord Marjoribanks. Within a week he was knocked over by a horse-drawn bus while crossing the road outside his Newcastle club and the title became extinct in record time since his sons had predeceased him. He is buried at Ladykirk though the family mausoleum, as one would expect, is at Coldstream, a few miles away.
* Dudley Coutts Marjoribanks, though denied the partnership in the bank which he demanded, enriched himself through the acquisition of Meux Brewery. He too became a Member of Parliament, was raised to a baronetcy and then to the peerage as Lord Tweedmouth. He died full of honours and immensely wealthy in 1894.
* George had already become a partner in the bank at the time of his brothers ruin. He proved himself as skilled a banker as his grandfather and, in fact, rose to be chairman of Coutts and was knighted. Intimidating in manner like his grandfather, with a booming voice, but generous in nature, he was regarded as a milch-cow by less fortunate and less able members of he family. His correspondence is full of appeals for help or thanks for help given. When he died in 1931, leaving only a daughter Monica, the entail of Lees was finally broken and the property was sold out of the family after 224 years. The old house, apart from the central portion, has been demolished and what remains has been converted into a comfortable family house, owned now by a scion of the Douglas-Hume family.
* Dudley Sinclair Marjoribanks, Georges younger brother, became Director of Armb-Whitworth, an important engineering company which developed aircraft engines during World War I. He was decorated for his wartime services but fell foul of take-over manoeuvres after the war and died in relatively straitened circumstances at Corbridge in 1929. His son, Stewart Dudley Marjoribanks, the father of the current generation, having to make his way without the training to do so, failed financially but later in life discovered a talent for teaching, a profession which three of his children followed with some success. A younger brother, Marmaduke, was killed in action with the Royal Flying Corps during the war.
* Edward, following the family tradition, entered politics as a Liberal, was immensely respected, and became Chief Whip in Gladstones last government. He was elevated to the House of Lords when he succeeded to his fathers peerage in 1894 and served as First Lord of the Admiralty in the government of Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman. His last years were clouded by tragedy — personal, financial and political — and he died in 1909.
* His two brothers — Archibald and Coutts — sowed their wild oats as cowboys in America, mismanaging cattle ranches. Coutts went on to manage an apple ranch in British Columbia owned by his sister lshbel and her husband the Earl of Aberdeen. Archibald married Elizabeth Brown of Nashville, Tennessee and returned to Britain where he died in 1 900. (His widow married the first Viscount Hailsham.) His only son, Edward, departed from family tradition by entering Parliament as a Conservative. He was a barrister and the author of several distinguished legal biographies. He took his own life in 1932.
Dudley Churchill Marjoribanks, the third Lord Tweedmouth, struggled against financial insecurity all of his life. He served in the Boer War, rising to the rank of major, and was later lord-in-waiting to both Edward VII and George V. He was amiable and an excellent shot but had not the capacity to restore his familys fortunes. (Even his cousin, the wealthy Sir George, found it impossible to do more than arrange a modest competence for him.) When he died in 1935, leaving two daughters, the barony became extinct.
Marjoribanks of Lees is represented today by John, who lives in Guernsey and has two sons, Richard and James, five grandchildren, a half-brother Roger, and four half-sisters. Sadly, his sister Leslia died in 1993, shortly after completing a most distinguished career as head of Henrietta Barnett School in North London. Rogers brother Daniel Coutts Marjoribanks, a naval officer, was killed in an air crash during night-flying at sea.
This article is too short to do justice to anything like all the members of the Lees branch and particularly its women. Several members, however, will be the subject of separate articles to appear in future issues. I trust that the shades of those omitted, or possibly treated unfairly, will forgive me and ascribe all errors to mere ignorance.
The first member of the family known to have appeared in Canada (or British North America as it was then) was one Thomas Marjoribanks. He is believed to have emigrated from Scotland to the American colonies in 1733 and, in 1774, after the War of Independence, moved with other British Loyalists to Digby, Nova Scotia and, a short time later, to Saint John, New Brunswick where he and his wife are buried. Nothing more is known about Thomas but, about forty years later, two Marchbank emigrants arrived from Dumfriesshire.
James Marchbank left his farm near Annan and, with other colonists, landed first at Miramichi, N.B. and then moved on in 1825 to settle on lands a few miles north of Summerside, Prince Edward Island which they named New Annan in memory of their former home. James called his new 88-acre farm Outermains after his Dumfriesshire holding. In addition to farming he was a seafaring man, carrying grains to England. He died at sea but the dates of his birth and death have been lost. He married (probably in Scotland) Mary Walker, who was born in 1790 and died in 1875. They had nine children, five boys and four girls.
The two other sons ventured far afield, seized by the gold fever that affected thousands of young men in the middle of the last century. Robert went to Australia to take part in the gold rush there. Failing to strike it rich, he returned to Prince Edward Island and took up his fathers trade as a grain shipper and he too was lost at sea. His brother John sailed around the Horn to try his luck in the great California gold rush but eventually returned to the Island, married Jane Johnstone, and founded a mill at DeSable about thirty-five miles east of New Annan, where he and his wife raised eight children.
The Farming Tradition
None of the Marchbanks who stayed in New Annan became rich but they were successful farmers and served their neighbours as millers of timber, grain and wool. They were all faithful Presbyterians, built substantial houses, and raised large families. Several of the daughters became school teachers; others married Americans and moved to the United States. Many of the descendants of the first James Marchbank –too numerous to name — still farm the same soil.
The first of the family to move from Prince Edward Island to the Canadian west was William Campbell Marchbank (1884-1973), a greatgrandson of the original James. He migrated to Saskatchewan in 1915 and he and his wife, Myrtle Crockett, had four children. One of their sons, Verlin Harry Marchbank — known as Lin –was for twenty-four years a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, serving for a time on remote Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic, travelling by kayak and dogsled and living, while on patrol, in snow igloos. There are now numerous Marchbanks in Western Canada. Verlins brother Eldon lives in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. A cousin, Owen, is in Shamrock, Saskatchewan. His son Cambell [correct] is a public servant with the federal government in Ottawa.
The other Scot who emigrated to Canada at about the same time as James Marchbank of Annan was Gabriel Marchbank. He was born in Dumfriesshire in 1796, in the parish of Kirkpatrick-Juxta which includes the Marjoribanks ancestral lands. He died in New Brunswick some time after 1871. He might very well have crossed the Atlantic with James and stayed behind in New Brunswick when James moved on to Prince Edward Island. In 1820 he married Euphemia Carson who was born about 1796 and died in an accident on November 11, 1851.
“On Tuesday a melancholy accident happened in St. Martins. Mrs, Gabriel Marchbank, about 40 years old, going to the well near her house for a pail of water, became dizzy and fell head foremost in. She was discovered a few minutes afterward by her husband but when she was extricated from her position, life was extinct.”
Gabriel and Euphemia are known to have had at least two sons –William, born in 1822 or 1823 who died in 1855 and David (1828-1892) –a daughter Elizabeth, who was born about 1825 and died some time after 1871, and another child who died in infancy. Gabriel and his second wife, Mary Mosher, had another son Frank, born about 1856. In 1846 Gabriels daughter Elizabeth married Charles Richard Achilles, a ship carpenter from Annapolis, Nova Scotia. Gabriel conducted a very successful shipbuilding business in St. Martins, about thirty miles from Saint John. The town was settled by Loyalists who left America for Canada to preserve their British identity during the War of Independence. More than five hundred sailing vessels were built there during the 1800s, more than thirty of them by Gabriel, his sons, and probably his brothers-in-law. One of them, a barque of 315 tons built in 1845, was named Euphemia for Gabriels first wife. Others reflected his Scottish heritage: Rob Roy, Robert Burns, Flora McDonald.
A contemporary of Gabriels in St. Martins was David Marchbank, also from Dumfriesshire. He had two children, David Jr. and a younger daughter whose name is not recorded. The story is told how David and his wife, both loyal, old-country Presbyterians, walked thirty miles each way between St. Martins and Saint John, through deep snow, with the two heavily bundled children in their arms, so that they could be baptized by a Presbyterian minister.
Unfortunately nothing more is known about the descendants of Gabriel and David. There are still many Marchbank families in New Brunswick but research so far has failed to establish any definite relationship with these two founding fathers.
Other Marchbank members of the family have appeared in more recent years. Marion Marchbanks, born in 1898 and now living in Ottawa, is descended from a family that lived in Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland. Her father, Archibald Marchbank, was born at Buittle in 1851, worked for a number of years in Latin America, and died in 1918 of Yellow Fever contracted during a visit to the Panama Canal Zone. Marion was born in Durango, Mexico where her father was working for a railroad company. She was employed for a time in the British Embassy in Washington and, in her later years, moved to Ottawa to be near her niece, Mrs. Rosamond Sturk, whose mother, Jessie Marchbank, was Marions sister.
Marions grandfather, George Marchbank (1825-1864), was born near Dalbeattie in Kirkcudbrightshire but her great-grandfather, also named Archibald, (1793-1 862) emigrated to Scotland from Tipperary in Ireland.
Wellwood Archibald Marchbank was of the same Kirkcudbrightshire family. He was the son of Archibalds brother David and emigrated to the Vancouver area some time before 1929. He served for a number of years as superintendent of schools and was an avid bridge player and golfer. When he died in 1991, his ashes were scattered over his favourite golf course. A sister Dorothy followed him to Vancouver, met and married an American, and went to live in California.
James Marchbank of Sudbury, Ontario was born in Glasgow in 1952, emigrated in 1969, and is now Chief Executive Officer of Science North, a science centre in Sudbury. His father, also called James, was born in Moffat, near the ancestral lands, in 1927 and emigrated with his son to Sudbury where he died in 1974. James grandfather, William Marchbank, was also born in Moffat, in 1901, and died there in 1967. James and his wife Hope have two sons, Stuart and David. Andrew Marchbank, a brother of James, is in the mining business in Elko, Nevada, and has three sons and a daughter. Another brother, Michael, lives in Kamloops, British Columbia and has two daughters.
There are relatively few Marjoribankses in Canada and most of them belong to two families, one that had its origins in Greenock, on the Clyde, about twenty miles east of Glasgow, and the other in Bathgate, formerly the Marjoribanks barony of Balbardie, half way between Glasgow and Edinburgh.
William Wilson Marjoribanks (1897-1973) was born in Greenock, the son of John Marjoribanks who was born in Glasgow in 1865 and married Mary Calderhead in 1889. John, who owned butcher shops in Greenock and at one time served as the town provost, thought it expedient for business reasons to shorten the family name to Banks. William had three brothers:
Robert who died during the Allied landing at Gallipoli in World War I, John who emigrated to New York in the early 1930s, and Alexander who, for a number of years, managed a sugar plantation in India. William and John later resumed the name Marjoribanks but Alexander continued to be known as Banks and his descendants still bear that name.
No connection has been discovered between the Marjoribankses of Greenock and the senior line, but Alexanders daughter Fiona married the chief, Andrew Marjoribanks of that Ilk, and they now live in Greenock. Johns descendants live on Long Island, New York.
William emigrated to Toronto in 1928 and his wife, Jane Cameron Wylie, and two sons, Robert Calderhead Marjoribanks (b. 1922) and John (Iain) Wylie Marjoribanks (b.1925) arrived the following year. Two other children were born in Toronto: Sheila Daisy Cameron Marjoribanks (1932)
Robert, A journalist and former editor of Saturday Night, Canada’s oldest continuously published magazine, married Nancy Pitman of Vancouver and Prince George, British Columbia in 1952 and they have three children: Duncan Cameron Marjoribanks, now living in Glendale, California and a director of film animation; Dr. Robin Stewart Marjoribanks, an associate professor of Physics at the University of Toronto; and Catherine Jane Marjoribanks of Toronto, an independent book editor. Duncan and his wife Karen Schultz have one son, Iain Lawson Marjoribanks, and Catherine and her husband Mark Askwith have a daughter Mary Isabel Hopewell Askwith.
Another William Marjoribanks, of Armb, British Columbia, was born in Bathgate, although no connection has been discovered between his family and the Marjoribankses of Balbardie. His father came from Alliwell in Fife and he has a brother Andrew in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, and a sister, Rita Marjoribanks Collins, in Witney, Oxfordshire.
William emigrated to Canada in 1967 and until his retirement was a co-ordinator of industrial education. He and his wife Mary Rose have four sons: David is a ferry-boat captain and he and his wife Helen live in Squamish; Ian is a sales manager in Prince George and he and his wife Susan have two children, Ryan, born in 1986 and Chelsea, born in 1989; Alan lives in Kelowna with his wife Sharon and is a communications technician; their youngest son, Brian, lives near Kyoto in Japan, teaches English, and is a bicycle racer and instructor.
Ursula Surtees of Kelowna is related by marriage to lshbel Marjoribanks, Lady Aberdeen. Her husbands mother, also called lshbel, was the daughter of Hon. Coutts Marjoribanks, Lady Aberdeens younger brother. (See page 23.) Coutts helped the Aberdeens manage their ill- fated fruit-growing enterprise in the Okanagan Valley in the 1890s. Mrs. Surtees is the director of an historical museum in Kelowna that preserves many mementos of Lord and Lady Aberdeens sojourn in British Columbia.
I am indebted for much of the above information to James Marchbank, a great-great-grandson of the original James, who wrote “A History of the Prince Edward Island Marc hbanks, 1825-1976” while he was a student at Prince Edward Island University, to Glyn Campbell of Newark, Nottinghamshire, England, author of “Ploughmen of Carrick,” an account of the Campbell and Marchbank families in Kirkcudbrightshire, and to several other members of the family who kindly provided me with useful documents.
The most famous, and undoubtedly the richest, member of the Canadian branch of the family was John William Marchbank (1862-1947). In his early days as a miner he was known as Peg-Leg Jack but, in later years, as the owner of a palatial horse-breeding ranch in California, he was respectfully addressed as Squire John of Heather Farm.
He was the grandson of James Marchbank who left his farm in Annan in Dumfriesshire and settled near Summerside, Prince Edward Island in 1825. Jacks father had vainly sought his fortune in the California gold rush and an uncle had a similar adventure in Australia.
Jack struck it rich during the Klondike Gold Rush in Canadas Yukon Territory which began with a discovery in Bonanza Creek in 1861. He acquired his nickname after losing a leg some years earlier in a mining accident in Idaho. He had the unique distinction of being the only one-legged man ever to succeed in crossing the thousand-meter-high Chilkoot Pass on the border between Alaska and the Yukon, the main entrance through the coastal mountain range to the gold fields.
Its not clear whether Jack made his money sluicing nuggets out of the creek beds or by emptying the pockets of his fellow miners who frequented his several saloons and gambling halls in the Klondike district.
In any case, he had a real genius for that kind of business and in 1902 removed his talents to San Francisco where he bought one of the biggest saloons in town and three or four years later acquired two large gambling clubs in suburban Daly City, just beyond the effective limits of San Franciscos anti-gambling laws. Daly City, because of its advantageous location, was known as the gambling capital of northern California and was nicknamed “The Cicero of the West,” after the notorious Chicago suburb that was the headquarters of the countrys most infamous gangsters. Jacks gambling properties included The Northern, just two blocks from the city hall, and Villa San Mateo, noted for its luxurious appointments, including a fireplace built of inlaid champagne bottles.
With the same supreme self-assurance with which his kinsmen presided over their Scottish baronies, Jack Marchbank reigned for thirty years as the political boss, not only of Daly City, but of the whole of Mateo County.
“A big man with a pink, cherubic face, cold blue eyes and a black silk skull cap perched on his bald head, Marchbanks (sic) sat in his office at the high-walled Northern delivering orders, pulling strings and, from time to time, twirling a large .45 revolver before reluctant subordinates — a weapon which, ironically, no one ever saw him use.”
He consolidated his grip on the gambling business in 1928 by buying, for some $275,000, San Franciscos Tanforan Race Track. He and his partners devised a complicated system to evade the California laws that prohibited betting on horse races. You didnt place bets; instead, for a few dollars, you bought an option to purchase a horse. If it won, the owner then bought the option back from you at an increased price.
In 1920 he had purchased the 255-acre Sulphur Spring Ranch, a former spa, which he renamed Heather Farm in memory of his Scottish antecedents –although there is never a sprig of heather known to have grown in California. He spent a million dollars building a Spanish-style mansion, stabling for as many as seventy-five horses, paddocks, barns and an oval track. He piped the sulphur spring to a fountain that rose in the middle of a five-acre lake, for the exclusive benefit of his horses.
Whether because of the health-enhancing properties of the water or for other reasons, his thoroughbreds were extremely successful and his green-and-white colours were a common sight in the winners circle throughout the United States and Canada. Heather Farm became the most famous horse-breeding enterprise outside of Kentucky.
By the time of his death in 1947, Jack Marchbank, the one-legged miner from DeSable on Prince Edward Island, had outlived his notoriety and, having acquired all the trappings of landed gentry, was known affectionately by his neighbours as Squire John.
Many members of the family played a distinguished part in the American Civil War that was fought from 1861 to 1865 between eleven southern states which withdrew from the Union and formed the short-lived Confederate States of America and the Union government, supported by the remaining states.
Nominally the war was fought to free the slaves who were an important element in the economy of the South but it had far-reaching implications regarding the nature of the Union and the relationship between the states and the federal government. It ended on May 26, 1865 with the surrender of the last of the Southern forces. Members of the family fought gallantly and with distinction, usually in the Southern cause.
Over many months of research, information has come to light about a Marchbank family — a father and two sons — whose military adventures earned them the admiration of their southern comrades and fear and contempt among their northern enemies.
Dr. Gerry Oldshue who is the archivist and a professor of history at the University of Alabama and a descendant of George Marjoribanks, the old Jacobite who was captured and transported to Virginia in 1715, (See The Marjoribanks Journal No. 2, “The American Dimension.”) discovered many references in Northern military dispatches to the activities in Missouri and Kansas of a certain Captain Marchbanks. Northern scouts reported Marchbanks every movement: he was seen passing a certain village; he had attacked this town; he was camped with so many men on the banks of this creek or that.
Col. Edward Lynde of the Ninth Kansas Cavalry, for instance, reports in May, 1863 that he encountered “a gang of bushwhackers (An American expression used generally to describe a backwoodsman but, in a military sense, a guerrilla, someone who fights in or attacks from the cover of the bush.) under Jackman (Col. Sidney D. Jackman early in the war headed small groups of irregular troops which harassed the Union forces in Missouri. ) and Marchbanks,” and killed seven of them, the rest having fled.
Lt. Col. Bazel F. Lazear of the First Missouri State Cavalry reports in September of the same year that his forces “surprised Marchbanks” and captured horses, guns and other equipment as well as “Marchbanks private papers.”
In October Brigadier-General E.B. Brown says he has learned that “Jackman, Marchbanks and Quantrill are in the border counties.” In May of the following year Captain EP. Elmer, commanding the Union forces at Johnstown, sends a dispatch to headquarters saying: “It is reported that Marchbanks is near Pleasant Gap with a force of 60 to 100 men. I start immediately to that point with all the force that can be spared.” In July, in spite of Capt. Elmers efforts, Marchbanks is still at large. Col. Charles W. Blair at Fort Scott, Kansas says Marchbanks is in the neighbourhood “gathering up recruits for the rebel army.”
A vivid account of the raiders actions is provided in a letter written on 28 May, 1864 by Mr. Nathan Bray to Brigadier-General Sandborn, the officer commanding the military district of southwest Missouri:
“Respected Sir: I have the honour to inform you that the town of Lamar is in ashes. The bushwhackers under Taylor (This Taylor whose name is frequently associated with Marchbanks has not been identified), Marchbanks and Co. entered the town at 2 oclock on the morning of the 28th instant and burnt nearly every house in the place, together with most of the household goods, &c. All the books and records of the county were again burnt. The women and children were sitting outdoors trying to take care of what they had saved until help could be sent . . .. The people will be compelled to go to Kansas or elsewhere where they can have the protection that loyal citizens deserve.”
In August of the same year, Taylor and Marchbanks were encountered near Baxter Springs by Union scouts who reported that they “completely routed the enemy, killing some 5 or 6 and wounding several others.” At about the same time another Union scouting party came upon a band of nineteen raiders on Clear Creek, two of whom were shot and some others wounded. One of the wounded was “Bob Marchbanks.”
From a dispatch sent on March 10, 1865, a few weeks before the end of the war, it becomes apparent for the first time that there is more than one Marchbanks involved in the raids. Col. Charles W. Blair, commanding officer of the Fourteenth Kansas Volunteer Cavalry at Fort Scott, Kansas, writes to the Deputy Provost-Marshal at Brownsville, Nebraska:
“The two young Marchbanks are the worst sort of bushwhackers. The old man is not. Bill Marchbanks is as bad as Quantrill . . . Please arrest all but the old man and, if possible, send here. Descriptions sent by mail. Iron them heavily, as no guard house will hold them.”
In many of the Union army dispatches Capt. Marchbanks name is associated with that of Quantrill — William Clarke Quantrill who has been described by one historian as “the bloodiest man in American history.” A guerrilla leader in the Southern forces his best-known exploit was the attack on Lawrence, Kansas in August 1862 in which he is said to have killed one hundred and fifty men, the entire male population of the community. He was wounded in the final days of of the war and died a prisoner on June 6, 1965. (He is said to have left $500 in gold to his wife Kate who used the inheritance to open a bawdy house in St.Louis.)
Among the members of Quantrills band at various times were Frank James. the older brother of Jesse James, perhaps the most notorious outlaw of the American “Wild West,” and the four Younger brothers who, along with the Jameses, pursued a murderous post-war career as bandits and train robbers.
At this point it was clear that there were at least three Marchbankses among the raiders, one of whom was named Bob, but their full names and their connection with the rest of the family were not known.
Dr. Oldshue produced from the Western Historical Manuscript Collection of the University of Missouri at Columbia copies of petitions addressed to the Governor of Missouri and signed by residents of Vernon County asking for protection against “lawless God-forsaken bandits, murderers, house burners, robbers and horse thieves” from Kansas who were laying waste the border counties. Among those signing the petition were three who signed themselves R.N. (or N.R.) Marchbank (sic), Win. Marchbanks and Robert Marchbanks.
It was known that these Marchbankses lived in Overton County, Missouri shortly before the war and that residents of the county bly sympathized with the Southern cause. An examination of the history of the county produced more information, particularly an historical article published in the Nevada (Missouri) Herald in 1963. It describes how Vernon County formed bushwhacking gangs to oppose the occupying Union forces.
“At that time, Vernon Countys most notable bushwhacker was Captain William Marchbanks, stern-hearted but upstanding and a highly respected early-day settler,” according to the newspaper. The article, based on an account by local historian R.L. Holcombe, tells how Capt. Marchbanks with nineteen of his best men were camped on the south side of the Marmaton River near Big Drywood Creek on 24 May,
1863 when they learned of the approach of Major A.J. Pugh of the Union army with a half-dozen militiamen. Marchbanks and his men followed them into the town of Nevada, Missouri.
“Approaching stealthily through the timber, the bushwhackers moved in suddenly at the southwest corner of the square, shouting and firing. The militiamen, who had stopped to rest at a brick hotel on the square, scattered and all but two escaped. One, an old man named Shuey, ‘dismounted, unarmed and terror-stricken was shot down . . . Another, named Whitley, was chased to the northeast edge of town and shot out of his saddle by Marchbanks.”
The death of the two militiamen did not go unavenged. The following day about a hundred well armed and mounted militiamen under the command of Capt. Anderson Morton set out to hunt Marchbanks down. Capt. Morton gave orders to enter the town and to slay without mercy every bushwhacker that was found. As it turned out, no bushwhackers were found but every building big enough to give them shelter was burned.
It was now clear that the Marchbanks who was chased like a will-of-the-wisp through the Missouri bush was, in fact, Capt. William Marchbanks, the stern-hearted champion of Vernon County. Dr. Oldshue then procured from the State Historical Society of Missouri a history of the county written in 1887. It records that Capt. William Marchbanks was born in Overton County, Tennessee 26 August, 1834 and moved to Vernon
County, Missouri in 1841 with his father, N.R. Marchbanks. After describing his various “skirmishes” against the Union forces during the war, the unknown author states, in Capt. Marchbanks defence: “Though he fought as a bushwhacker, it is said of him that he never murdered a prisoner or a private citizen.” At the time this history was written, Capt. Marchbanks was residing near Paris, Texas, “a quiet, reputable citizen.”
Lewis Marchbanks of Arlington, Texas helped put the last pieces of the puzzle together. He provided a genealogical chart tracing his own ancestry back to Nathaniel Ridley Marchbanks (1806-1872), the father of Capt. William and of Williams brother Robert. Other family records show that Nathaniel was the great-great-grandson of George Marjoribanks (later Marchbanks) the exiled Jacobite and principal founder of the family in America.
We now know that when Col. Blair of the Fourteenth Kansas Volunteer Cavalry wrote about “the two young Marchbanks” who were “the worst sort of bushwhackers” he was talking about Capt. William and his brother Robert, the “Bob” Marchbanks who was wounded at Clear Creek in August of 1864. The “old man” whom Col. Blair found less offensive than his sons was, of course, Nathaniel Ridley Marchbanks, the great-greatgrandfather of Lewis Marchbanks of Arlington, Texas.
* Jack Marjoribanks of Cessnock, Australia and other members of his family are anxious to obtain details about his grandfather Robert who may have married Jessie Walker and died shortly before 1895. He is thought to have been a railway engine driver or perhaps, more generally, an engineer employed by the railway. His widow went to live in Broxburn, West Lothian with her two young sons, Robert Alexander and John Walker, born about 1883 and 1886, and probably remarried. Robert Alexander married and had a daughter who died in infancy. Both boys emigrated to Australia shortly before World War I and have numerous descendants, concentrated around Newcastle, New South Wales. Intensive search has failed to trace any record of Roberts birth, marriage or death in either England or Scotland. Nor is there any record of the birth of either of the boys. The lack of records suggests that all three may well have been illegitimate. On the rather flimsy evidence of a likeness in a photograph it has been suggested that Robert may have been an illegitimate son of Alexander Marjoribanks of Balbardie and of that Ilk.
The descendants of James Marchbank who emigrated to Prince Edward Island in Canada from Annan in Dumfriesshire in 1825 (see page 23) would like to know the dates of his birth and death and any information about his antecedents in Scotland. He is known to have lived on a farm near Annan called “Outermains.” The Genealogical and Historical Committee would also like to hear from any descendants of the shipbuilder Gabriel Marchbank who was born in the parish of Kirkpatrick-Juxta in Dumfriesshire in 1796 and died in New Brunswick, Canada, some time after 1871. (See page 25.)
Alec Marchbank of Bergenfield, New Jersey, is seeking information about his ancestors, Samuel Marjoribanks and his wife Janet Aitken, who lived in Kirkmichael, Dumfriesshire early in the 18th century. Their son, also named Samuel (1777-1857), Alecs great-great-great grandfather, called himself Marchbank, worked as a joiner in Moffat, and was married to Marjory (or Marion) Harkness.
American members of the family would be most interested in any information anyone can provide about the antecedents of William Marjoribanks (known in the family as The Old Jacobite) who was captured at the battle of Preston in the uprising of 1715 and transported aboard the ship Elizabeth and Anne from Liverpool to York in Virginia, where he changed the spelling of his name to Marchbanks. It is thought that he might be connected with the Marjoribankses of Balbardie but no useful records have been found.>
If you would like help in tracing your ancestors, or if you have historical or genealogical information that might be of interest to others, please write to the editor:
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