Spens of Craigsanquhar Overview
Medieval Feudal Barons of Cragsanquhar
Sir William of Spens Burgess of Perth, 1st Baron of Lathallan (1360-1432)
A precept for infefting William de Spens (therein designed of William) and Isabel Campbell his spouse, in the lands of Athaland, Kittedie, and Craigsanquhar, in the county of Fife, also the lands of Glen Douglas, etc., in Dunbartonshire, and some tenements in and about the town of Perth, etc. dated 5th, and the sasine following, 16 May 1385. (Previously these lands had been held by Isabella, daughter and heiress of Duncan, Earl of Fife, having briefly been owned by her cousin Michael de Balfour before being in feft in the hand of William de Spens, also of kin to the Earls of Fife). William entered into an indenture with Duncan, Earl of Lennox, letting to him for life part of the lands of Glen Douglas, Tarbit, etc, for six merks yearly of tack-duty, etc, dated Stirling 25 July 1392, (to which Robert, Earl of Fife, Sir Patrick de Graham, Sir Walter Buchanan, Duncan Campbell were witnesses) and he later received a charter from the Earl of Fife, which was ratified and confirmed after his forfeiture, by King James I, in a charter under the great seal, Willielmo Spens et Isabellae Cam pbelleius spouse, terrarum de Lathallan, Kittedy, Cragsanquhar, etc., cum potestate tenere curias vitae et membrorum in praedictis terris, etc ., and if a thief or robber be apprehended at said courts, he is to be hanged on the gallows belonging to the earldom of Fife. The confirmation of this curious charter is dated 13 Feb 1430, and the baronial tenure indicated was several times reaffirmed in subsequent documents.
John of Spens Knight, Lord of Glendouglas, Tarbet and of a part of Kittedie, a part of Craigsanquhar, and a part of Lathallan, Bailly of Glendochirde ( – 1478)
He was described as a knight, Lord of Glen-Douglas, Tarbet and of a part of Kittedie, a part of Craig-Sanqhar and a part of Lathallan, Bailly of Glendochirde in 1428.
Sir Robert of Spens Burgess of Perth, Laird of a part of Kittedie and Craigsanquhar ( – 1474)
Laird of a part of Kittedie and Craigsanqhar, died before 1474, he was succeeded by his son.
Lord John of Spens Burgess of Perth, Lord of a part of Kittedie and Craigsanquhar ( – 1478)
He was described as Burgess of Perth, Lord of a part of Kittedie and Craig-Sanqhar, who died in 1478 without issue. The 1 and 8 June 1478 before dying, as heir of Robert of Spens, he was complaining in front of the Lords of the Parliament in Edinburgh against Cristian Spens Burgess of Perth, Lord of Kittedie and Craig-Sanqhar, who died in 1478 without issue. The 1 and 8 June 1478 before dying, as heir of Robert of Spens, he was complaining in front of the Lords of the Parliament in Edinburgh against Cristian Spens and Isabell Spens, heirs of Johne of Spens of Glendouglas, knight.
Modern Barony of Spens of Craigsanquhar
Nathaniel Spens FRCP, M.D., 1st Baron of Craigsanquhar (1728-1815)
Nathaniel was the first of the Spens of Craigsanquhar. He purchased in 1792, the estate of Craigsanquhar, Fifeshire, which at one period formed a part of Lathallan, but had been disjoined from it in 1524. Craigsanquhar being Gaelic for sanctuary on the hill.
James Spens 2nd Baron of Craigsanquhar, Lieutenant-Colonel 73rd Regiment, Royal Highlands East Indies (1761-1840)
He served as Captain and then Lieutenant-Colonel of the 73rd Regiment and succeeded his father in the lands of Craigsanquhar on his death in 1815.
Nathaniel Spens 3rd Baron of Craigsanquhar, W.S. (1805-1869)
He was apprenticed to James Hope W.S., and was admitted a member of the Society of Writers to the Signet on 25 November 1830.
Nathaniel James Spens 4th Baron of Craigsanquhar, Captain 72nd Regiment (1845-1879)
Jessey Hannah Elizabeth Spens 5th Baroness of Craigsanquhar (1846-1922)
History of the Property of Craigsanquhar
G creag + en *Sanquhar
‘Rock or crag of Sanquhar’; Sanquhar derives from G *sean chair ‘old fort’ (rather than sean chathair, with the same meaning, as suggested by Watson 1926, 222, 368). There was a hill (mons) called Adkar nearby in LOG (St A. Lib. 294), which might represent G *ath-chair ‘new fort’, contrasting with Sanquhar ‘old fort’. Neither of the eponymous structures can be identified.
By a charter dated 1380 × 1396 Robert earl of Fife granted (in an exchange of land) to William Spence (de Spensa), burgess of Perth, and Isobel Campbell, his spouse, the lands of Lathallan (Athaland) KCQ, as well as the contiguous lands of Kitattie # LEU and Craigsanquhar. This included the right to hold a court to try those accused of theft in these lands, with power of life and limb; but if any thief was accused and convicted in that court, he was to be hanged ‘on the gallows of the earldom of Fife’ (ad furcas comitatus de Fyf suspenderetur) (confirmed 1431; RMS ii no. 187, col. 2), presumably in Cupar. Spence and Campbell were also given ‘permission and power to have a prison in the said lands, and of imprisoning malefactors as well as (the power) of searching for and finding (them), as is called in Gaelic rannsachadh’ (et cum licentia et potestate habendi prisonam in dictis terries et malefactors incarcerandi ac etiam scrutandi et inveniendi – prout dicitur Scotice ranscauth). For a brief discussion of this phrase, see Barrow 1981, 2.
OS Pathf. Craigsanquhar Farm is at NO398191.