Wednesday 31 May 2017

(263) Aytoun of Inchdairnie House

Aytoun of Inchdairnie
The family of Aytoun are descended from Gilbert de Vesci, an Anglo-Norman knight who settled at Ayton (Berwicks) soon after the Norman Conquest, and took his name from his lands. Members of the family were settled in Fife from at least the 14th century, but a continuous descent is only known from the time of Andrew Aytoun (d. 1513), a loyal servant of King James IV who was Chamberlain and Captain of the Royal Castle of Stirling and Sheriff-Depute of Fife by 1495. Along with much of the flower of Scotland's nobility, he was killed at the battle of Flodden in 1513, leaving three sons who founded three gentry families. John Aytoun, the eldest son, who predeceased his father, was ancestor of the Aytouns of Dunmure (Fife) and that ilk; Robert Aytoun (fl. 1516-39), the second son, was the ancestor of the Aytouns of Inchdairnie; and Andrew Aytoun founded the Aytouns of Kinnaldie (Fife). Of these three lines, only the Aytouns of Inchdairnie came to own a country house, and this article tells the story of this branch of the family.

Robert Aytoun (fl. 1516-39) acquired a lease (tack) of Inchdairnie in 1539 and his son and successor, Robert Aytoun (d. 1595) acquired the feu in 1560 as well as the additional farms of Ballinkirk and Pittconnochy. Later generations acquired further property in Fife. A younger son of Robert (d. 1595) acquired the Grange or Overgrange estate near Burntisland and this remained with the family until 1901. Little is known of some of the 17th century possessors of Inchdairnie: George Aytoun (d. 1606), his son, Robert Aytoun (d. 1650) and grandson John Aytoun (c.1630-83), whom seem to have kept a low profile during the turbulent years of the mid 17th century. John was unlucky with his sons: the eldest two died in childhood, and a third was killed - apparently in a shooting accident or a duel - at the age of 19. He was therefore succeeded by his fourth son, Alexander Aytoun (1662-after 1704), who had been intended for a career in business and apprenticed to an Edinburgh merchant. Alexander married the daughter of one of the Senators of the College of Justice, Lord Harcarse, who got into hot water when he was accused of a biased ruling that benefited his son-in-law.

Alexander Aytoun took over the family estates in 1683 and expanded them from 1684 by the purchase of Killernie and other lands. Although he presumably abandoned his career as a merchant when he inherited the estate, he encouraged a number of his sons to pursue mercantile careers.
A pair of silver candlesticks,
made by William Aytoun, 1744
His third son, William Aytoun (1691-c.1755) became one of Edinburgh's leading goldsmiths, whose distinctive pieces are still popular with collectors today, and his fourth son, Thomas Aytoun (1692-before 1770) was evidently an overseas merchant, as he married a Dutch lady in Amsterdam in 1726. At least some members of his family appear to have had Jacobite leanings, and his fifth son, David Aytoun (b. 1694), who was apprenticed to a surgeon-apothecary, fled abroad after the 1715 rising and became a surgeon in the Russian army in 1718.

The eldest son, and the heir to Inchdairnie, was Roger Aytoun (1686-1740), who married twice. His first wife, the daughter of an Edinburgh lawyer, was childless, but by his second wife he produced two sons. The younger, William Aytoun (d. 1780) became a Writer to the Signet, while the elder, John Aytoun (1728-c.1782), inherited Inchdairnie. John's marriage to the daughter of John Rollo, 4th Lord Rollo, was a significant social step up for the family, and was reinforced in 1765 when John's elder daughter, Mary Aytoun, married her first cousin, James Rollo, 7th Lord Rollo. It was perhaps from his Rollo forbears that John's eldest son, Maj-Gen. Roger Aytoun (1749-1810), acquired his passion for soldiering and the 'reckless and improvident habits' which earned him the nickname 'Spanking Roger'. As a junior officer he was sent to Manchester as part of a recruiting party raising a new regiment for the army. While there, he took part in some public manoeuvres, at which his handsome 6' 4" frame caught the eye of a wealthy and merry widow forty-five years his senior. They married in haste and she, at least, repented at leisure, since within a few years he had liquidated her property and spent the proceeds and they had separated. After she died in 1783, Roger married again, this time to Jean Sinclair, the heiress to Balgreggie, a Fifeshire estate which became a key element of the family's property in the 19th century.

Roger and Jean had ten children. Of their six sons, one died young, two followed their father into the army, and two became lawyers. The eldest, John Aytoun (1785-1831) inherited the Inchdairnie estate, although it was some years after his father's death before he could take possession because he was one of the many Englishmen interned at Verdun during the second Napoleonic War. After his release in 1815, he married Margaret Ann, the daughter of the Professor of Anatomy at Glasgow University, James Jeffray, who was notorious for his theatrical public dissections of the corpses of executed criminals. John and Margaret Ann's children were still young when John died in November 1831. Inchdairnie passed to their elder son, Roger Sinclair Aytoun (1823-1904), but until he came into possession at the age of twenty-five in 1848, the estate was managed by his mother, who also inherited in her own right two properties near Glasgow, which she sold in order to buy Finmount (Fife). It may be that the sales also provided the funds to rebuild Inchdairnie in 1845-47, to the designs of David Bryce. We do not know what role Roger Sinclair Aytoun (then in his early 20s and a student at Cambridge) may have played in directing Bryce, but the contract was with Margaret Ann Aytoun, who perhaps saw herself as setting up her son with the best possible start in life. Roger became a JP and Deputy Lieutenant for Fife in the 1850s, and then served as Liberal MP for Kirkcaldy, 1862-74. Being an MP necessitated having a house in London, and he thereafter seems to have spent at least as much time in London as in Scotland. He never married, and although his younger brother did eventually marry, he died shortly afterwards and left no heir.  Roger's distraction from the estate at the time of the great agricultural depression of the 1880s, and the expense of his lifestyle in London, led the estate into debt. In 1899 Roger was declared bankrupt, and in the same year he was certified insane, although seems never to have been confined in an institution. In his last years he lived in London with his friend Annie Elizabeth Anderson, Princess de Lusignan. After many legal arguments, his trustee in bankruptcy sold the Inchdairnie and associated estates in 1901, bringing to an end some 350 years of Aytoun ownership. The sale realised a walloping £186,000, which more than paid his debts and mortgages, and allowed Roger to leave the Princess de Lusignan a handsome legacy of some £28,000.

Inchdairnie House, Kinglassie, Fife

Inchdairnie House: an early 20th century postcard view from the south-east
There is said to have been an ancient mansion house here which was extended in the early 19th century, possibly in 1823. This was rebuilt or remodelled in the Scots Baronial style, by David Bryce (then technically still in the office of William Burn) in 1845-47 for Mrs. M.A. Aytoun, with many features which were to become standard in Bryce's work. These include a large Pinkie House style tower on the entrance front, a separate family wing, and a long conservatory set on axis with a symmetrical suite of reception rooms. 

Inchdairnie House: the  entrance front and conservatory from the south-west

Inchdairnie House, as shown on the 1st edition 6" map surveyed in 1855.
Inchdairnie House: the aftermath of the fire in 1929. Image: Dundee Courier.
The house was seriously damaged in 1929 by a fire, which was widely rumoured to have been started deliberately by the owner so that he could claim on his insurance cover. After standing as a ruin for some years, the shell was subsequently demolished in the late 1950s. Only the former east lodge remains today.

Descent: leased 1539 to Robert Aytoun (fl. 1516-39) and sold 1560 to his son, Robert Aytoun (d. 1595); to son, George Aytoun (d. 1606); to son, Robert Aytoun (d. 1650); to son, John Aytoun (c.1630-83); to son, Alexander Aytoun (1662-after 1704); to son, Roger Aytoun (1686-1740); to son, John Aytoun (1728-c.1782); to son, Maj-Gen. Roger Aytoun (1749-1810); to son, John Aytoun (1785-1831); to son, Roger St. Clair Aytoun (1823-1904), sold 1901 to David Russell, whose widow sold 1922 to John Fletcher; burned 1929.

Aytoun family of Inchdairnie

Aytoun, Robert (fl. 1516-39). Son of Andrew Aytoun (d. 1513) of Dunmure, Chamberlain and Captain of the Royal Castle of Stirling to King James IV and Sheriff-Depute of Fife, and his wife Isabel, daughter of Thomas Kincragy. He married Alison Lundy and had issue (probably among others):
(1) Robert Aytoun (d. 1595) (q.v.). 
In 1516, he and his mother had ward of the lands of Qwiltis (Fife), being part of the ward his father had previously purchased from the King, and he had a lease (tack) of the lands of Inchdairnie from the Commendator of Dunfermline in 1539. 
He died before 1560. His wife's date of death is unknown.

Aytoun, Robert (d. 1595). Only recorded son of Robert Ayton (fl. 1516-39) and his wife Alison Lundy. He married, before 1572, Elizabeth, daughter of [forename unknown] Pitcairn of Forthar, and had issue: 
(1) George Aytoun (d. 1606) (q.v.);
(2) James Aytoun (fl. 1589-1622) of Grange; a servant for many years to the Master of Rothes; he had a grant of lands at Overgrange, 1600; married Barbara Hamilton and had issue two sons and seven daughters;
(3) David Aytoun, of Kinglassie; admitted an advocate, 1587; Chamberlain of Dunfermline by 1587; had a grant of lands at Links of Balchristie from the Earl of Huntly, 1587 and another of Kinglassie, 1605; married 1st, 26 April 1598 at Edinburgh, Margaret Boyd, and had issue four sons and four daughters, and 2nd, Julia Home;
(4) John Aytoun; married and had issue one son;
(5) William Aytoun (fl. 1605);
(6) Robert Aytoun;
(7) Agnes Aytoun (fl. 1577); married Walter Heriot, son and heir of Walter Heriot of Ramorgny.
He inherited his father's lands at Qwilts and Inchdairnie, acquired the feu of the latter in 1560, and had charters for the lands of Ballinkirk, 1551, and Pittconnochy, 1566. 
He died in 1595. His wife's date of death is unknown.

Aytoun, George (d. 1606). Eldest son and heir of Robert Aytoun (d. 1595) of Inchdairnie, and his wife Elizabeth Pitcairn. He married Christian (fl. 1630), daughter of James Ramsay of Corstoun (Fife), and had issue: 
(1) Robert Aytoun (q.v.);
(2) David Aytoun (fl. 1622);
(3) James Aytoun (fl. 1631); heir to his uncle, James Aytoun of Grange in lands at Auchtermuchtie;
(4) George Aytoun (fl. 1630).
He inherited the Inchdairnie estate from his father in 1595.
He died in 1606. His widow died after 1630.

Aytoun, Robert (d. 1650). Eldest son of George Aytoun (d. 1606) and his wife Christian, daughter of James Ramsay of Corstoun, born about 1603. He married Helen, daughter of James Hamilton of Kilbrackmonth (Fife), and had issue:
(1) Janet Aytoun; married, 1644, John Lindsay of Dowhill, and had issue;
(2) Christine Aytoun; married John Melville of Murdocairney, and had issue;
(3) John Aytoun (c.1630-83) (q.v.);
(4) Eupham (i.e. Euphemia) Aytoun, baptised at Kinglassie, June 1633;
(5) James Aytoun, baptised at Kinglassie, 11 November 1635;
(6) David Aytoun, baptised at Kinglassie, 26 June 1637.
He inherited the Inchdairnie estate on the death of his father in 1606 and was retoured heir in 1624, presumably when he came of age.
He died in October 1650. His wife's date of death is unknown.

Aytoun, John (c.1630-83). Eldest son and heir of Robert Aytoun (d. 1650) and his wife Helen, daughter of James Hamilton of Kilbrackmonth. He married, 15 June 1651, Jean, daughter of James Hamilton of Kilbrackmonth, and had issue:
(1) Robert Aytoun, baptised at Kinglassie, 18 April 1653; died young before 1679;
(2) Helen Aytoun, baptised at Kinglassie, 14 July 1657; married, 19 June 1682, David Scrimgeour (d. 1700) of Cartmore (who m2, Jean Moncrieff, widow of Dr. John MakGill), but had no issue;
(3) John Aytoun, born 23 May 1658; died young before 1679;
(4) Margaret Aytoun, baptised at Kinglassie, 4 June 1659;
(5) Andrew Aytoun (d. 1679), baptised at Kinglassie, 18 September 1660; died 5 May 1679 'of a shot received from [forename missing] Auchmutie' and was buried at Kinglassie, 6 May 1679;
(6) Alexander Aytoun (b. 1662) (q.v.);
(7) Archibald Aytoun, born 26 December 1662 and baptised at Kinglassie, 5 January 1663.
He inherited the Inchdairnie estate from his father in 1650.
He died in August 1683. His wife's date of death is unknown.

Aytoun, Alexander (b. 1662). Fourth but apparently eldest surviving son of John Aytoun (d. 1683) of Inchdairnie and his wife Jean, daughter of James Stewart of Rosyth, born 12 January and baptised at Kinglassie, 16 January 1662. Apprenticed to William Blackwood of Edinburgh, merchant. He married, 25 March 1686 at Edinburgh, Margaret, daughter of Sir Roger Hog of Harcarse (Berwicks), a Senator of the College of Justice as Lord Harcarse, and had issue:
(1) Roger Aytoun (1686-1740) (q.v.);
(2) Jean Aytoun (b. 1688), baptised at Kinglassie, 5 April 1688;
(3) John Aytoun (b. 1689), baptised at Kinglassie, 13 April 1689;
(4) Anna Aytoun (b. 1690), baptised at Kinglassie, 20 August 1690;
(5) William Aytoun (1691-c.1755), baptised at Kinglassie, 25 August 1691; apprenticed to William Ged of Edinburgh, goldsmith, 1706 and became a burgess of Edinburgh, 1718; he subsequently became one of the most significant Edinburgh goldsmiths of the early 18th century and took many apprentices himself; he married, 29 March 1741, Thomasa, daughter of Thomas Weems, advocate and had issue two daughters; he died about 1755 (will dated 20 June 1755);
(6) Thomas Aytoun (b. 1692), baptised at Kinglassie 29 December 1692; married, 13 December 1726 in Amsterdam (Netherlands), Johanna Scherphoff and had issue two sons and one daughter; died before 1770;
(7) David Aytoun (b. 1694), baptised at Kinglassie, 18 April 1694; apprenticed to George Cunningham of Edinburgh, surgeon apothecary, 1714; a Jacobite in 1715, he fled abroad and joined the Russian army as a surgeon, 1718;
(8) Margaret Aytoun (b. 1695), baptised at Kinglassie, 2 October 1695;
(9) Alexander Aytoun (b. 1696), baptised at Kinglassie, 20 December 1696; died in infancy;
(10) Alexander Aytoun (b. 1698), baptised at Kinglassie, 28 August 1698;
(11) Barbara Aytoun (b. 1705), baptised at Kinglassie, 24 April 1705.
He inherited the Inchdairnie estate from his father in 1683 and was retoured heir, 2 October 1684. He added to the estate by acquiring Killernie and other lands in Fife.
He died after 1704. His wife died after 1705.

Aytoun, Roger (1686-1740). Eldest son of Alexander Aytoun (b. 1662) of Inchdairnie and his wife Margaret, sister of William Hog of Harcass, born at Edinburgh, 16 December 1686. He married 1st, 31 March 1716, Barbara, daughter of James Scott, Sheriff Clerk of Edinburgh, and 2nd, 21/24 April 1723 at Edinburgh, Euphemia, daughter of Sir John Ramsay of Whitehill (Midl.), and had issue:
(2.1) John Aytoun (b. 1728) (q.v.);
(2.2) William Wallace Aytoun (1733-80), born 15 February and baptised at Dalgety (Fife), 20 February 1733; apprenticed to James Graham WS and was admitted a Writer to the Signet, 16 December 1760; married, 3 June 1766 at Melrose (Roxb), Isabella, daughter of Col. Patrick Edmonstone, and had issue four sons and one daughter; died May 1780.
He inherited the Inchdairnie estate from his father after 1704.
He died in Edinburgh, 19 March 1740, having been “seized here with an apoplectick fit, and expired in two minutes”. His first wife died before 1723. His second wife's date of death is unknown.

Aytoun, John (b. 1728). Elder son of Roger Aytoun (1686-1740) of Inchdairnie and his second wife Euphemia, daughter of Sir John Ramsay of Whitehill, born 9 July and baptised at Dalgety (Fife), 11 July 1728. He married, 6 September 1746, the Hon. Isabel (1718-51), daughter of Robert Rollo, 4th Lord Rollo, and had issue:
(1) Mary Aytoun (1747-1817), born 24 July and baptised 25 July 1747; married, 4 December 1765 at Edinburgh, her first cousin, James Rollo (1738-84), 7th Lord Rollo and had issue three sons and six daughters; died 24 April 1817;
(2) Roger Aytoun (1749-1810) (q.v.);
(3) Euphemia Aytoun (c.1750-1817); married, 15 June 1769 at Dunning (Perth), Roger Drummond (d. 1801), son of John Drummond of Kelty, and had issue; died at Kelty Castle, 10 January 1817;
(4) Jane Aytoun (c.1751-1816); married, 7 April 1780 at Edinburgh, Dr. Alexander Eason (1735-96) of Manchester, and had issue; buried at St Saviours, [Southwark (Surrey)?], 14 January 1816.
He inherited the Inchdairnie estate from his father in 1740 and came of age in 1749.
His date of death is unknown, but was probably between 1780 and 1784. His wife died 24 November 1751.

'Spanking Roger', 
Major-Gen. Aytoun (1749-1810)
Aytoun, Maj-Gen. Roger (1749-1810). Only son of John Aytoun (b. 1728) of Inchdairnie and his wife Isabel, daughter of Robert, 4th Lord Rollo, born 30 March 1749 and baptised the same day. An officer in the army (Cornet, c.1767; Lt., 1770; Capt., 1778; Maj., 1783; Lt-Col., 1794; Col., 1798; Maj-Gen., 1805) and in the Edinburgh Volunteers (Capt., 1794; Maj., 1794), who from his handsome appearance, physical stature (he was 6 ft 4 in) and reckless and improvident habits gained the nickname 'Spanking Roger'; he was addicted to drinking and gambling and was reputedly so drunk at his first marriage that he needed the assistance of brother officers to stand. He married 1st, 3 February 1769 (sep.), Barbara (c.1704-83), widow of Thomas Minshull, apothecary, of Chorlton Hall, Manchester (Lancs), and 2nd, 25 July 1784 at Kinglassie, Jean (1757-1836), daughter and heiress of Sir John Sinclair of Balgreggie, and had issue:
(2.1) John Aytoun (1785-1831) (q.v.);
(2.2) Rachel Jane Aytoun (1786-1852), born 22 March 1786; died unmarried, 3 April 1852 and was buried at Dean Cemetery, Edinburgh; will registered at Edinburgh, 28 May 1852;
(2.3) Marriott Chadwick Walker Aytoun (1787-1854), born 18 February 1787; an officer in the Royal Artillery (2nd Lt., 1802; Lt., 1804; Capt., 1812); JP for Fife and Perthshire; DL for Fife; married, 30 April 1823 at Coats Crescent, Edinburgh, Eliza William (1795-1881), only child of Henry Millar of Purin, Falkland (Fife), and had issue six sons and three daughters; died in Edinburgh, 16 February 1854; inventory of goods registered at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, 28 November 1854;
(2.4) Roger Aytoun (1788-1852), born 8 February 1788; an officer in 92nd Foot (Lt., 1808; Capt.); married, 3 September 1810 at Blackstoun (Renfrew), Anna (1788-1867), daughter of Alexander Napier of Blackstoun, and had issue one daughter; died at Helensburgh, 6 November 1852;
(2.5) Isabella Aytoun (1789-1872), born 25 October 1789; farmed at Balgreggie and retired to London; died unmarried at Kensington (Middx), 11 July 1872; 
(2.6) Mary Aytoun (1791-1854), born 31 March 1791; died unmarried, 24 September 1854 and was buried at Dean Cemetery, Edinburgh; will registered at Edinburgh, 20 December 1854;
(2.7) Alexander Aytoun (1793-94), born 3 April 1793; died in infancy, 28 May 1794;
(2.8) Georgina Aytoun (1794-1807), born 25 May 1794; died young and was buried at Edinburgh, 25 June 1807;
(2.9) James Aytoun (1797-1881)*, born 21 February 1797; admitted an advocate, 1818; a radical Whig in politics, he stood several times for election to parliament between 1832 and 1868, but was never elected; he devoted his retirement to playing chess and writing letters to the press on political subjects; died unmarried in London, 5 April 1881; will confirmed at Edinburgh, 27 May 1881 (effects £10,755);
(2.10) Robert Aytoun (1799-1874) of Capeldrae, born 19 March 1799; educated at Edinburgh University; admitted a Writer to the Signet, 9 June 1825; solicitor with Aytoun & Greig of Edinburgh; he first proposed improvements to the navigation of the River Leven c.1830, and on the strength of this and some mechanical inventions, was elected a Member of the Institute of Civil Engineers, 1839 (silver medallist, 1856, 1860); he married, 17 May 1844 at Lambeth (Surrey), Helen Louisa (1826-85), daughter of George Reid Maugham, and had issue seven sons and five daughters; died in Edinburgh, 9 September 1874; will confirmed at Edinburgh, 22 January 1875.
He inherited the Inchdairnie estate from his father in or before 1784. His first wife, a rich widow, brought him her late husband's property including Chorlton Hall, Garratt Hall and Hough Hall, all near Manchester, but these were sold in 1773-74 to support his lifestyle. Through his second marriage, his descendants came into the Balgreggie estate (Fife).
He died at Inchdairnie, 23 October 1810. His first wife died 20 February 1783, aged 79, and was buried in Manchester Cathedral. His widow died 28 December 1836; her will was confirmed at Edinburgh, 10 January 1837 and sealed in London, 11 March 1837.
*Not to be confused with James Aytoun of Kirkcaldy (c.1776-1864), linen manufacturer.

Aytoun, John (1785-1831). Eldest son and heir of Roger Aytoun (1749-1810) of Inchdairnie, and his second wife Jean, daughter and heiress of Sir John Sinclair of Balgregie, born 5 May and baptised at Kinglassie, 28 May 1785. He was detained at Verdun (France) for many years during the Napoleonic Wars. A Whig in politics, he was a committed supporter of parliamentary reform. He married, 8 September 1818 at Glasgow, Margaret Ann (c.1801-79), daughter of James Jeffray MD, Professor of Anatomy at Glasgow University, and had issue, with one other daughter, who died in infancy:
(1) Mary Jane Aytoun (c.1820-24); died aged 3, 6 April 1824, and was buried at Burntisland (Fife);
(2) Roger Sinclair Aytoun (1823-1904) (q.v.);
(3) Georgina Agnes Aytoun (1825-32), baptised at St Cuthbert, Edinburgh, 2 July 1825; died young at Campagne, near Marseilles (France), 6 January 1832;
(4) Elizabeth Anne Aytoun (1827-80), baptised at St Cuthbert, Edinburgh, 24 August 1827; died unmarried in London, 5 November 1880; her will was proved 20 December 1880 (effects under £5,000);
(5) Maj. James Aytoun (1830-89) of Grange and Lethans, baptised at St Cuthbert, Edinburgh, 17 August 1830; an officer in the 7th Hussars (Cornet, 1847; Lt., 1851; Capt., 1856; Maj., 1865); married, September 1887, Mary Eliza Hancock, who was certified insane after his death, but died without issue; died in London, 1 August 1889; administration of his goods granted 31 October 1889 (effects £2,090).
He inherited the Inchdairnie estate from his father in 1810, and was served heir-male of William Aytoun of Dunmuir and Aytoun, 1829, although this seems to have brought him little if any real property. His widow, who was heiress to Milton (Lanarks) and Craigston (Renfrew) acquired the estate of Finmount (Fife) and built a new house on the Inchdairnie estate in 1845-47.
He died intestate at Campagne, Videl, St. Marguerite, near Marseilles (France), 11 November 1831 and was buried at Kinglassie, 13 January 1832; an inventory of his personal estate was registered at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, 5 January 1833 (effects £6,995). His widow died at her son's house in London, 2 March 1879; her will was confirmed at Cupar (Fife), 17 October 1879 (estate £4,561).

Aytoun (later Sinclair-Aytoun), Roger Sinclair (1823-1904). Elder son of John Aytoun (1785-1831) of Inchdairnie and his wife Margaret Ann, daughter of James Jeffrey of Glasgow University, born at Edinburgh, 13 January 1823. Educated at Trinity College, Cambridge (admitted 1841; BA 1845; MA 1848). He took the his second forename, Sinclair, as part of his surname, and had a new grant of arms, quartering those of Aytoun with those of Sinclair and Steward. JP and DL for Fife. Liberal MP for Kirkcaldy, 1862-74. Captain of the Lochgelly, Kinglassie and Ballingry Rifle Volunteers, 1862. Director of the Seafield Dock & Railway Co., 1882 and Kirkcaldy & District Railway Co., 1889. He was declared a lunatic in 1899, and made bankrupt in England later the same year. He was unmarried and without issue.
He inherited the Inchdairnie estates from his father in 1831 and was retoured heir, 10 January 1848. His trustee in bankruptcy sold the estates in 1901 for £186,000; they then comprised Inchdairnie itself; the Grange estate at Burntisland; the Saline, Knock and Lethans farms at Saline; and the Balgreggie estate at Cardenden. The sum raised by the sale of the estates was more than sufficient to pay off the mortgages on the estates and his personal debts. After becoming an MP he also maintained a house in London.
He died in Putney (London), 1 January 1904 and was buried at Burntisland (Fife); his will was proved 21 January 1904 (estate £28,153) by his friend Annie Elizabeth Anderson, Princess de Lusignan.


Burke's Landed Gentry, 1898, pp. 46-47; G. MacGregor, The Red Book of Scotland, vol. 1, 2016, pp. 147-70; V. Fiddes & A. Rowan, David Bryce, 1803-76, 1976, p. 123.

Location of archives

Aytoun family of Inchdairnie: estate and family papers, 1570-1920 [National Records of Scotland, GD1/42]

Coat of arms

Aytoun of Inchdairnie: Argent, a cross engrailed, cantoned with four roses, gules; a crescent argent in fess point for difference.

Can you help?

Here are a few notes about information and images which would help to improve the account above. If you can help with any of these or with other additions or corrections, please use the contact form in the sidebar to get in touch.
  • The genealogical information for the earlier generations in this account is deficient, largely because of gaps in the parochial records of Kinglassie (Fife). I should be most grateful to receive additional information from anyone who has had the opportunity to examine extant original sources.

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 31 May 2017 and was updated 28 July 2017.


  1. I found Margaret Baird nee Findlay aged 55 at Aytoun House in 1881 with her daughter Janet Findlay Baird aged 19. Margaret was widow of John Baird (1798-1870) of Lochwood Farm, Old Monkland. His son inherited Ury House, Stonehaven. In 1891 Margaret's son in law George Chalmer was at Aytoun aged 44 with sons Francis 6 and Alexander 4. I assume they were renting the house?

    1. Thanks for this. I expect they were tenants: I have written about the Bairds in another post:

  2. I have located a copy of Katherine Philips's Poems and Plays (1667) containing a bookplate of Aytoun of Inchdairnie. Are you aware of a member of the family who used this bookplate? (I can send you an image of it if you like). Many thanks (my interest derives from the fact I am now editing Philips's writings for OUP--thus I am curious to know who owned copies of her books.) EHH

    1. I am afraid I don't think I can help much. I guess the first thing to establish is the date of the bookplate, which its style may help you to fix. It could be that the book was acquired second hand or that having been in the Aytouns' library since publication the bookplate was added later, so I think this will be hard to narrow down.

  3. Being and Ayton, I read with interest the Inchdairnie lore. My father was born Glasgow, 1905. Johm Webster McNaught Ayton. Had brothers Thomas, George, at least, sister Bessie and more.

  4. Looking for information about Christian/Christina Murray who worked for the Aytoun family at Inchdairnie. Her husband was Joseph Murray [a coachman] who died in Edinburgh in 1829. At the time of his death there were two daughters and a third born a few days after his death. I would be interested to know whether he worked for the Aytouns too. I don't know when Christian/Christina started working at Inchdairnie but at one point she the housekeeper and gradually, as she got older, worked down through the ranks to be the 'chicken keeper' She died in 1879

  5. I am just making a comment as an introduction. My Cousin was an Aytoun descendant on his fathers side. We have some items if family interest. Joanna.

    1. I should be very pleased to know more. If you use the Contact Form in the right-hand side panel you can contact me privately.

    2. Hey Joanna, as an Ayto(u)n myself, I have an interest in your items re family name Ayton.-- g t a y t o n at g m a i l dot c o m

    3. What I want to do is find the best place for the items. They don’t actually belong to me. I’m making inquiries on behalf of the person who inherited.

    4. Joanna, If your cousin wants to donate archive materials relating to the family to an appropriate institution, I would suggest s/he approaches the National Register of Archives (Scotland), based at the National Records of Scotland, who offer a service to find an appropriate home for materials. Pictures, silver etc. would be more likely to be of interest to a local museum, or to other descendants of the family.

  6. The family of my Cousin were Aytoun’s of Inchdairnie. I have photos of family, miniatures, items with crest and initials of family. Seals, poems of the one buried in Westminster abbey. Stuff like that

    1. If you have any photographs or pictures of members of the family whose names appear in bold above, I should be very pleased to add them to this article.


    2. My uncles names were Rollo, Ayton, Martin. His mother was called Mary Ayton.

    3. But they spelt it. AYTOUN

    4. Can you let me know how I can send you the scans? I’ve done a few of the family photos I can scan some of the smaller pictures and the miniature is for you to

    5. You need to send me a private message using the contact form in the right-hand side bar. That will give me your email address and I will respond so you have mine. I don't want to publish mine (and you should not publish yours) in these comments to minimise spam problems.

    6. Hello Nic, I don’t seem to be able to see a right-hand bar and to the person above who told me I spell Aytoun incorrectly I didn’t mean to. I’m dyslexic! Plus there is a lot of spellings for the name, but my cousin my uncle was an Aytoun


Please leave a comment if you have any additional information or corrections to offer, or if you are able to help with additional images of the people or buildings in this post.