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The Braes Of Forbes

There was a time long ago when the Braes of Forbes in Aberdeenshire were overrun by a great and savage bear who rendered the area uninhabitable. Then a certain Ochonochar slew the fearsome beast and took possession of the territory, and taking the name Forbes
built the clan's original castle near Rhynie. In 1271, a charter confirmed the family's tenure as feudal. At the beginning of the 14th century, Edward I of England was taking steps to dominate Scotland. One of his strongest opponents in the north was Alexander de Forbes, who died in 1303 when English troops attacked Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness. The family continued to support the House of Bruce and Alexander's son fell at the Battle of Dupplin in 1332, at which Edward Balliol and the 'disinherited barons' who had opposed Robert Bruce's claim to the Scottish throne defeated the regent, Mar.
A later Alexander Forbes married the granddaughter of Robert III and was created a peer by James II in 1442. In the following years the Clan Forbes prospered, with numerous branches settled along the valley of the River Don and elsewhere - Balfluig, Belnabodach, Boyndlie, Brux, Callendar, Castleton, Corse, Corsindae, Craigievar, Colquhonnie, Culloden, Echt, Foveran, Invernan, Kildrummy, Ledmacoy, Leslie, Monymusk, Pitnacalder, Pitsligo, Rothiemay, Thainston and Towie. They built and owned many beautiful castles, notable examples being Craigievar and Corse, both of which are near Lumphanan. Corse once belonged to Patrick Forbes, bishop of Aberdeen. Other Forbes properties included Monymusk, a 16th century tower which was once an Augustinian priory, Druminnor near Rhynie, Pitsligo, Colquhonnie and Corgarff in Strathdon, the latter rebuilt in the 18th century by the government as a barracks. Corgaff Castle, was the scene of an atrocity in 1571. The castle was besieged in the course of a violent feud between Clan Forbes and the Gordons of Huntly.  The tower was set on fire, and Lady Forbes and her children were burned alive. The star-shaped wall around it today was built in the 18th century by Hanoverian soldiers quartered there after the '45.

The clan was constantly at odds with its neighbours, notably the powerful Gordons of Huntly and the Irvines of Drum. In 1571, Adam Gordon besieged Corgarff while Lord Forbes was away on business. During the considerable commotion, the tower was set on fire and, rather than surrender, the brave Lady Forbes, her children, servants and the entire household perished in the flames.

Despite this tragedy, by 1594 the Forbes chief could still raise 1000 men for the king and in 1628, 800 men were sent to serve with the Swedish Army in the Thirty Years' War. Because of his fighting qualities, Lord Forbes's son rose to the rank of lieutenant general in the course of the conflict.

The peerage of Pitsligo was conferred on another Alexander Forbes in 1633. In 1707, the fourth lord Pitsligo opposed the Union and later took part in the Jacobite risings of 1715 and 1745. He fought for the Young Pretender at Culloden at the age of 68 and after the battle was concealed by friends in the Cave of Cowshaven on Aberdour Bay. His estates were forfeited and on the death of his son the title became dormant.
The lord president of the Court of Session at the time of the '45 was Duncan Forbes of Culloden, a kindly and learned man who opposed the Jacobites but afterwards fought valiantly to ease the cruel reprisals inflicted on the Highlands by the Hanoverian government.

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