Sunday, November 21, 2010

Brief biography: Colonel David Boyd of Tourgill (15XX - 162?)

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(the original seal pictured above is in the collection of the National Museum of Scotland. It features in Scottish Heraldic Seals by Stevenson & Wood, Glasgow 1940. The inscription reads "S' COLON DAVIDIS BOYD DE TOURGIL" and is believed to date from 1599.)

One of the men who came across from Scotland to Ulster with Hugh Montgomery in 1606 was David Boyd. Here's a brief biography.

1. Origins in Scotland
To give him his full title, Colonel David Boyd of Tourgill (also spelled Tourgil or Tuyirgill) was the youngest son of Robert Boyd, the 5th Lord of Kilmarnock. They lived at the original Dean Castle outside Kilmarnock, on an estate which had been granted to the Boyds by King Robert the Bruce for their service at Bannockburn in 1314.

2. Military Service in Holland
He is known to have served in a Scottish regiment in the wars in Holland (the three volume set entitled History of the Scots Brigade in Service of the Netherlands include a reference to him being in Holland on 24 January 1583.) Hugh Montgomery also fought in Holland at the same time - it is possible that they enlisted together.

3. Boyd of Tourgill
He had letters of legitimation under the Great Seal 11 July 1582, and a grant of the lands of Tourgill (a region to the north east of Largs in north Ayrshire) on 8 August 1598. Boyd, named as Dauid Boyd of Tourgill, also appears among a list of twelve Scottish nobles who were witnesses to the "Contract between King James VI, Ludovick Duke of Lennox and Hugh fifth Earl of Eglingtoun for the marriage of the Earl and Gabriela Steuart, Sister of the Duke" dated 10th and 13th April 1598.

4. Family Feud
He was twice the victim of attempted murder - in April 1599 he was "set upon and wounded... in the High Street of Glasgow" by his cousin Adam Boyd, who on 31 July in the same year then attempted to murder him at Kilmarnock.

5. Marriage and the Ross family of Kilmarnock
He married a wealthy widow, Margaret Wallace. Her former husband, George Ross, had the title of Hayning / Hanyng / Haining, an estate situated along the Cessnock River somewhere near today's Riccarton and Hurlford villages. She was known as the "Dame of Hayning" and had one daughter, Maria Ross, to her first husband. In March 1592 a land dispute arose within the Ross family, and the King's Advocate, David McGill, was sent to intervene in the row (source here). Like so many of the era, McGill was also attracted to Ulster - he was invited by Sir Hugh Montgomery who made him curate at Newtownards Priory in 1607, and later at Grey Abbey where his memorial can still be seen today. Other members of the Ross family also came across the water, one of whom, Robert Ross, settled in north Down some time before 1617 and rented 1500 acres from Sir James Hamilton at Portavo near Groomsport. (Peter Carr's excellent book Portavo: An Irish Townland and its Peoples provides a lot of detail about the Ross estates.)

6. Life in Ulster
Boyd arrived with Montgomery in 1606 and soon was granted lands. Con O'Neill directly granted him Ballymacarrett, another parcel of land near Glenmachan at the old church of Knockcolumbkille, and a townland called "Ballymurty". Boyd also secured seven townlands from Montgomery, totalling 1000 acres just to the north of Greyabbey. The family residence was built in the townland of Ballycastle, the site of which was probably where the well-known B&B Ballycastle House is today, on the Mount Stewart Road. Boyd is also said to have had lands near Glastry.

7. Influence in Scotland
Despite his estates in Ulster, Colonel Boyd was Provost of Edinburgh in 1613. The precise date of his death is unknown, but is thought to have been some time before 1623.

8. Children
He is known to have had one son, Robert Boyd, who after his father's death continued to occupy the lands Montgomery had granted. A John Boyd, possibly Robert's son, was in possession of land at Drumfad near Millisle in 1676. Colonel David Boyd may also have had a daughter, Jane, and another son, Thomas. A Thomas Boyd was elected MP for Bangor in 1651; another died at Portavogie in 1660. An Alexander Boyd was the tutor to William Montgomery, the writer of the Montgomery Manuscripts, and taught him fluent French.

Miscellaneous
Description of David Boyd's Seal here
Photo of Tourgill Burn here
• Photo of Tourgill Glen here
• Photo of Tourgill Lodge here
• His niece, Marion Boyd, was the wife of another major Ulster landholder, James Hamilton the 1st Earl of Abercorn.
• Colonel Boyd's sister, Egidia or Giles, was the wife of the head of the Montgomery family, Sir Hugh Montgomery the 4th Earl of Eglinton.
• Chapter in The Scots Peerage, detailing the Boyds of Kilmarnock.
• See previous blog post about the Boyds at Portavogie.
• Dean Castle is run today by East Ayrshire Council

Conclusion:
The early Scots in Ulster are not mysterious unknowable figures - there are plenty of good sources available which, when pulled together, paint vivid pictures of who these people were and of their achievements. The more is uncovered about them, the more obvious it becomes that Ulster was not merely a Scottish colony - it was in fact an extension of Scotland. People like Colonel David Boyd retained significant influence in Scotland even though he had relocated to County Down. The cultural ties established in the early 1600s are still evident today.

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