Barnton Castle was a property which likely dated back to the 14th
century or earlier. Around 1400 the barony of Over Barntoun was
owned by a family known variously as Touris, Towers or de Turribus,
long term owners of Inverleith.
But by the mid-15th century
it was owned by the Crichton family. From 1439 onwards William
Crichton, the 1st Lord Crichton, was the Chancellor of Scotland, and
he was involved in a struggle to overthrow the powerful Black
In 1443 Barnton Castle was besieged and
destroyed by William, the 8th Earl
of Douglas. Amongst his troops was John Forrester, the Baron of
Corstorphine, and in retaliation Crichton later destroyed
Around this time William Crichton
invested heavily in another of his properties, Crichton Castle, and
seemed to focus his attention there.
William Crichton died in
1455, leaving the barony to his daughter Janet, who was married to
John Maxwell, Master of Maxwell. Their second son, George Maxwell,
took possession of Over Barntoun, but some time before his death in
1460 sold it to Sir Archibald Dundas of Dundas.
remained in the Dundas family until 1507, when Sir Archibald's
grandson, Sir William Dundas of Dundas, sold it to Sir Robert
Sir Robert Barton was a famous sea captain, and later
became Lord High Treasurer of Scotland in 1529 (and again in 1534),
and Master of the Mint. His son, also Robert, married Barbara
Moubray of Barnbougle.
Upon his marriage this Robert Barton
assumed the name and arms of Moubray or Mowbray and took up
residence at Barnbougle Castle. Barntoun passed to their second son,
James Mowbray, in 1548, but around 1558 he sold it to an advocate
named Alexander Machan who in turn sold it to Sir James Elphinstone,
the third son of Robert Elphinstone, the 3rd Lord Elphinstone,
In 1604 Elphinstone was created the 1st Lord
Balmerino, and later his son John Elphinstone, the 2nd Lord
Balmerino, was responsible for rebuilding or extending Barnton
Castle, possibly to form an L-plan tower, carving the date 1623
above on of the windows.
Barnton belonged to two further John
Elphinstones, the 3rd and 4th Lords Balmerino, but the 4th Lord was
forced to sell it to pay off family debts in 1680. He sold it to Sir
Robert Milne, who made considerable additions to Barnton in either
1681 or 1683, with Balmerino's section forming the north-west corner
of the newer building.
Due to financial problems Milne sold
Barnton to a George Hamilton of Binny, but his finances also
suffered and he sold it to
John Douglas-Hamilton, the first Earl of Ruglen, on the 24th of
August 1698. He also made considerable additions to the house, and
in 1718 he bought the neighbouring property of King's Cramond and
combined the two estates.
Hamilton was succeeded in 1744 by
his daughter, Lady Anne Hamilton, Countess of Ruglen, the widow of
William Douglas, the 2nd Earl
of March. Their son,
William Douglas, the 4th Duke of Queensberry and 3rd Earl of March,
inherited Barnton upon his mother's death in 1748, but sold it in
1770 to John Campbell, Viscount Glenorchy, the son of John Campbell,
the 3rd Earl of Breadalbane.
Lord and Lady Glenorchy built a
chapel to the north of the house, but Glenorchy died in 1771, and
while his wife Willielma lived at Barnton from time to time, the
main resident was her niece, the Countess of Sutherland. Lady
Glenorchy sold the combined Barnton estate in 1785 to William
Ramsay, and died the following year.
Ramsay was a director of
the Royal Bank of Scotland, and around 1794 commissioned Robert Adam
to remodel and extensively extend King's Cramond for his son, George
Ramsay. Once the work was complete Barnton was no longer required,
and around 1800 it was demolished.
King's Cramond was renamed
Barnton House on the combined estate, although this house was also
demolished, around 1920.
The site of Barnton Castle is under
numbers 38 and 40 East Barnton Avenue. The name Barnton can be found
in street names around the old Barnton estate
In 1440, George's cousin, William, Chancellor of Scotland, arranged
the infamous 'Black
Dinner' in Edinburgh Castle,
at which the William
Douglas, 6th Earl of Douglas was summarily executed. Then
in 1441 George married Lady Janet, widow of Lord Borthwick and
heiress of Douglas of Dalkeith, with lands not only in Lothian but
also in SW Scotland, the heartland of the Black Douglases. The
Douglases responded with force. In August 1443
Douglas, the 8th Earl, laid siege to George Crichton's Barnton
Castle, captured and destroyed it. George may have built
Blackness Castle to compensate.
House. Was this built on the site of the former castle?
Any contributions will be
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