|The ancient history of the lands called Almorness we do
not possess, but Chalmers in his "Caledonia" mentions Maclellan of
Almorness, at the time of the Reformation. After the Annexation Act of
1587, as is well known, the hangers on at Court obtained large grants of
the church and other lands. Amongst these grants there was one, " Daitet
8 October 1587, viz., ane charter granted be his Majestie under the
Great Seal to James Douglas of Drumlanrig, his airs and assignees, of
all and haill the ten merk land of Almorness, with the mains, place,
houses, biggins, &c., to be halden in feu." We have obtained no earlier
information, no doubt from the fact that the land was formerly a portion
of the Buittle or other estate.
The next notice is dated 25th January
1614, when Alexander Kirkpatrick of Kirkmichael was served heir to his
mother, Margaret Cairns, in the third part of Orchardtoun, alias
Irisbuittle. We may mention here that Orchardtoun was one of the farms,
and we often find the owner so styled. Of Almorness we find, on the 10th
August 1642, that James of Innerwick, heir and brother of William
Maxwell of Kirkhouse, had retour.
He was followed, on the 17th May 1653,
by William Maxwell, heir of James ErIe of Dirletoun, his gudesir’s
brother’s sone. On the 15th September 1663, he was succeeded by his son
Robert. After this, on the 22d October 1695, James, Duke of Queensberry,
had retour of the lands of Almorness.
On the 21st November 1699, we find
George, son of Robert Maxwell of Orchardtoun. Again, on the 4th
September 1729, John Burne of Broomhill had sasine of the lands and
tennandrie of Almorness and following, on the 24th August 1730, we find
him called John Birnie of Brownhill in liferent, and John Birnie, his
eldest son, in fie, of the land of Almorness, for the principal and land
of Her Elstoun (Earlstoun?) in warrandice. The first of this family is
stated to have been the Episcopal minister of the parish of Caerlaverock
when Prelacy was in the ascendant, and that he married a daughter of the
bishop of Galloway. He purchased the property, and the retours, &c.,
previously given by us must have referred to the superiority. The family
ended in a daughter and heiress, who became the owner, in confirmation
of which, Mrs Katherine Birnie Mitchelson of Broomhill had sasine on the
24th October 1796, of the lands of Almerness and others, on precept from
The next owner was James Douglas, who was in possession in
1799. He is styled of Orchardtoun. As mentioned under Orchardton, parish
of Rerwick, he was the grandson of William Douglas(1), the founder of the
town of Castle-Douglas, parish of Kelton, to which we refer, as also to
Orchardton, for an account of himself and his descendants. The farms
owned were Almorness, Orchardtoun, Little Castlegowar, Caigtoun,
Clonyards, and Blackbelly. We find him still owner in 1819. To his
daughter Mary he left the farms of Nethertoun, South Glen, North Glen
and HoIm, Ordchardton Mains, &c. She married William Rose-Robinson,
Clermiston, Mid-Lothian. He was an advocate, and Sheriff of Lanarkshire.
They had issue---
George, born 1814.
Elizabeth, married ---- Frere, and since his death again married.
Mary, died young.
Matilda, married William Leslie of Warthill,
Aberdeenshire, and has issue.
Caroline, married ---- Davidson, son of
---- Davidson of.
Sarah, married Alexander Davidson of Desswood,
Aberdeenshire, the brother to her sister’s husband.
The eldest son
George succeeded to Almorness on the death of his mother in 1864. He
entered the Church of England, and for some time was rector of Bisley,
Surrey. He married, in 1849, Jane Eleanor, only daughter of the late
Boyd Miller of Colliers Wood, Surrey, and has issue- William, born in
1851, with others whose names we have not got. Mrs Robinson died at Rome
To the farms mentioned as left to Mrs Robinson are to be
added the small holdings named Isle, Clonyard and pendicle, Lochhill,
The woods are extensive, and over fifty years’ growth.
Adjoining the farm of Nethertoun, the fossil head of what is called a
bison was found many years ago.
It is probable that in early times
the woods were equally, if not more extensive than at present, and that
the name is derived from the Norse words almr and nes (ness), the first
meaning the elm-tree, and the latter a headland, &c., which in English
is the " elm-tree promontory."
1. This does not ring true. He was more likely the
brother of William Douglas of Castle Douglas