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Cockpen Douglas and potential links to Edinburgh


My apologies at having to sign in again but I was having difficulty with the old e mail address.

You will probably recall some time ago, a debate about the Douglas footprint in Cockpen and adjacent parishes,

My personal interest in this is in Newbattle but having returned to the subject recently I think that I may have some information  which may be of more general interest. From that comes some issues with the research I was doing in Newbattle/Cockpen.

First the general bit which concerns an Alexander Douglas, a writer married to a Magdalene Murry in Edinburgh. By writer of course I mean a member of the legal profession albeit he does not seem to have been admitted as a Writer to the Signet or W S - all the reference on the births records have him just down as Writer.

There is of course another Alexander Douglas W S in the generation before who married a Pringle but as far as I can see they did not have a son called Alexander so possibly the same extended family but not direct.

So The Douglas Murray marriage had issue as follows

Alxr Douglas
Magdalen Murray
Margaret 1665 Edinburgh
Anna 1668 Edinburgh
James 1670 Edinburgh
David 1672 Edinburgh
Jean 1674 Edinburgh
Thomas 1675 Edinburgh
Emelia 1677 Edinburgh
Patrik 1681 Edinburgh
Mary 1685 Edinburgh

I do have more notes re the witnesses etc but to keep things brief I just wanted to confirm that regarding the birth of Mary a Sylvester Douglas (also a writer) was a witness at the baptism, This may be the Sylvester who is down in the Douglas archives connected to Glenbervie and descending from Bishop Robert, Query is that  credible

If so query what is the relationship between him and Alexander - if any.

Moving on, and if you bear with me, and I think this has some relevance to Newbattle/Cockpen, there are a number of other families living in Edinburgh at the same time who were all members of the legal fraternity and clearly linked by marriage. You can certainly see them all acting as witnesses in the births of their respective children

The first is a Lawrence Oliphant who married a Catherine Murry - I suspect a sister to Alexanders wife.

This Lawrence was. according to the WS archive the son of Lawrence Oliphant of Orcharmilne but is almost certainly linked to the Oliphants of Gask - because someone of that name appears in one of the birth records. in fact for the first born son William 

Lawrence was clearly connected in the legal establishment - and part of that may be down to the influence of another brother in law ?- of which more below.

This Oliphant\Murray marriage had issue as below and I suspect further children through a separate  marriage to Mary Hepburn (of Blackcastle).

Lawrence Oliphant
Catherine Murray
William 1668 Edinburgh
Anna 1670 Edinburgh
Lawrence 1673 Edinburgh
Thomas 1675 Edinburgh
Barbera 1677 Edinburgh
Catherine 1678 Edinburgh
Lawrence Oliphant
Mary Hepburn
Robert 1682 Edinburgh
Esther 1683 Edinburgh
Mary 1684 Edinburgh
Margaret 1687 Edinburgh

As noted above there is also another family linked to the above where the same first names keep on cropping up. 

This is the marriage of Thomas Murray and Barbara Hepburn, I strongly suspect but not yet ;proven that this Thomas was the brother of the two Murray wives noted above and in all probability with connection to Lawrence Oliphants second wife - particularly as a Hepburn of Blackcastle appears as a witness at births consistently.

And for general background this Thomas was descended from the Murrays of Woodend who were in turn a cadet branch of the senior Murray line of Athol. Thomas was in fact the second cousin of Elizabeth Murray  Countess of Dysart who firstly married a Tollemache and subsequently the Duke of Lauderdale . He was later raised to the bench as Thomas Murray, Baron of Glendoick but at the start he was just plain Thomas Murray advocate.

So a fair bit of high politics and influence there but I put it in to flesh out the picture because of the 

connection to what I will call the Murray sisters, including the Douglas marriage, and because Thomas of Glendoick had issue as follows - note some similar names


Thomas Murray
Barbara Hepburn
Thomas 1672 Edinburgh
Elizabeth 1674 Edinburgh
Amelia 1676 Edinburgh
John 1677 Edinburgh
William  1678 Edinburgh
Elizabeth 1679 Edinburgh
Patrick 1680 Edinburgh
Anthonie 1681 Edinburgh

So for context what we appear to have here are three families lined professionally and I suspect socially.

and from a wider Douglas perspective to what extent does this link back to Glenbervie.  

So moving on to my personal issue in 1688 in Newbattle we find a William Oliphant being admitted as an elder to the Kirk and in the same year he appears as a witness at the baptism of  Lawrence, son to John Douglas and Issobell Hardie 

This William Oliphant married a Scott and had issue as follows. 

William Oliphant
Chrystine Scott
Marion 1677 Edinburgh
Agnes 1682 Newbattle
Lawrence 1687 Newbattle
Magdalen 1689 Newbattle


Even on this I would be tempted to call a connection with the Oliphamt family in Edinburgh but the Lawrence Oliphant WS referred to above appears as a witness at the baptisms of Williams children both in Edinburgh and Newbattle. So that is baked in as they say

So this William in turn was also at least known to John Douglas in Newbattle - whatever the connection actually was.. 

Which in turn brings me to the issue of John Douglas and Issobell Hardie which is where the research started.

At the time I was frankly puzzled by the fact that the childrens names sounded rather grand and a bit out of tune with what you might expect in a rural parish in Midlothian. I did try and find some local connections but none of them carried conviction - given how important the Scottish naming tradition was.    

What I found interesting subsequently is that the names Amelia. Lawrence and Anna keep on cropping up in Edinburgh in the Douglas/Murray/Oliphant network but particularly in the Douglas Murray marriage. Even Robert Thomas and Elizabeth as well but these are not that unusual. The only name I could not find is Henreta

John Douglas
Isobell Hardie
Robert 1675 Newbattle
Henreta 1676 Newbattle
Amelia 1678 Newbattle
Janet 1681 Newbattle
Elizabeth 1685 Newbattle
Lawrence 1688 Newbattle
Anna 1691 Newbattle
George 1694 Newbattle
Thomas 1697 Newbattle

So to, eventually, to cut to the chase do you think there is any possibility that my John Douglas could be connected in some way to Alexander Douglas in Edinburgh. It would certainly be a departure from trying to establish a connection to the Douglas/Witherspoon marriage in the adjacent parish of Cockpen.  

Incidentally I did also find a Lawrence Douglas Married to an Elizabeth Carfrae in Dalkeith a generation later. He was a schoolmaster  so maybe that is a later connection from the Lawrence above.

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Comment by James Izatt on April 8, 2021 at 22:06


I have manged to do a bit more work on this using the Gask Charters as a spine to give it some sort of timeline.

You should be able to see the relationship between the Patrick/Magdalen Murray marriage and Thomas Murray of Glendoick _ I think great uncle.

The next task will be to be a bit of digging to see if the branch lines throw up anything relevant   

I hope it is readable. Note also a prior connection to the Oliphants and the Maxtone connection



1562:  Tack by Comm of Inchaffray To Patrick Murray Son of Anthony Murray Of Dollerie

 1586:  Sasine to Alexander Murray and Marion Alexander his wife of the Lands of Woodend

 1636:  Marriage contract between Patrick Murray of Woodend and Helen Oliphant dau of William

             Oliphant of Pitlochie

 1660:  Marriage contract between Anthony Murray of Woodend and Helen dau of John Lindsay of      Dowhill

 1697  Marriage contract between Robert Whyte of Bennochie advocate and Jean Murray





Anthony Murray

1st of Dollerie

Mar Christian Maxtone



Patrick Murray                    David Murray                       Alexander Murray

1st Of Woodend                   2nd Laird Of Dollerie   

Mar Elizabeth Murray?         Mar Margaret Murray?         Mar Elizabeth Murray?

Tack Dated 1562               ISSUE?                                  ISSUE?


Alexander Murray              Rev Wm Murray               Thomas Murray                Patrick Murray  

Of Woodend                      Mar Margaret Murray        Mar Jean Drummond       Mar Magdalen M

Mar Marion Alexander       To Earls of Dysart             Provost of Eton                Comm of Inch

Sasine 1586                          ISSUE                                   ISSUE  


Patrick Murray                    Thomas Murray

Mar Helen Oliphant             Of Woodend

Sasine 1636                        Mar Jean Murray


                                               Anthony Murray

                                               William Murray    

                                                Joan Murray

                                               Thomas Murray Of Glendoick Married Barbara Hepburn


Query is the Anthony Murray above referred to in the Contract/Retour of 1660/1690


Comment by James Izatt on April 7, 2021 at 11:51


Thank you for that. A bit later but as you say there could be a link and I will do a bit more research

I may not have mentioned it before but Janet Douglas daughter of John in Cockpen had a daughter called Magdalen. It was quite far down implying that  if it means anything it relates to an aunt, cousin or some other family/social connection. It was however one of those 'where did that come from moments' given the Scottish naming tradition and I cannot see any other comparatives in the immediate family 

Comment by William Douglas on April 7, 2021 at 9:42

I don't think that these are 'your' Magdalen Murray, but I assume a connection somewhere.

Source: Scots Brigade in the Netherlands

1645 June 5
Contract between Magdalen Murray, relict of Mr Patrick Murray,
commendator of Incheffray, and Mr Robert Murray, minister at
Methwen, tutor testamentar to Patrick Murray, son of said Patrick,
on the one part, and William Blair of Williamestoun on the other,
whereby said Magdalen and Robert dispone to said William the
parsonage teinds of lands of Williamestoun, Quarter of Sowttertoune,
Dubheidis, Southsyd and Stannisland in so far as not assigned to
the minister of Madertie in part payment of his stipend, and said
William binds himself to infeft said Magdalen in liferent and said
Patrick in fee in annualrent of 88 merks from lands of Williamestoun.

Source: Title Deeds of lands belonging to the Maxtone family 1429-1891

I also have this: 

Magdalen Murray was baptised on 21 September 1711 at St. Ninian's, Stirling, Stirlingshire, Scotland. She was the daughter of John Murray of Touchadam and Polmaise and Lilias Stirling.

Comment by James Izatt on April 6, 2021 at 20:20


Thanks for that.  I can see why Alexander might not be a sibling of Sylvester and the others but clearly the possibility of a connection there, maybe a generation back on some cadet branch of a cadet branch so to speak. 


It does have the feel of younger sons - the army, church, law or at the outside medicine being the obvious alternatives. 

I suspect that it would be necessary to look at the actual documents but clearly not something that is not possible just now.  

Comment by William Douglas on April 6, 2021 at 10:29


I cannot see Alexander as a son of the Bishop. He apparently had four sons, Robert, Sylvestor, James and William.

Robert Douglas (d unm 13.03.1746, minister of Bothwell)

Sylvester Douglas of Whytriggs or Whiteriggs (d 1729)Sylvester Douglas of Whytriggs or Whiteriggs (d 1729)  m. (30.08.1695) Margaret Keith (dau of George Keith of Whytriggs)

James Douglas (d unm)

William Douglas, Provost of Forfar  m. Marjory Gray (dau of William Gray of Invereighty by Margaret Erskine, dau of 7th Earl of Buchan)

and three daughters:

Katherine Douglas  m. George Rait of Dundee 

Susan Douglas  m. Charles Whyte of Dundee 

unknown daughter  m. _ Dixon, Profost of Forfar

Comment by James Izatt on April 5, 2021 at 19:21


A very brief follow up on the Alexander Douglas situation in Edinburgh which I think establishes that Alexander was linked to Bishop Robert in  Dunblane - I reproduce the extract from the SRO below.


It might be interesting to know what relationship - looks like son.

GBRepository code234RepositoryNational Records of ScotlandReferenceGD20/1/487Title

Extract bond by David, Lord Boyll, and John Crawurd of Kilbirnie to Magdalen Murray, relict of Alexander Douglass, writer in Edinburgh, in liferent, and Mr Robert, James, William and Margaret Douglas, children of Robert, late Bishop of Dumblane, in fee, dated 25 May 1703 and registered B of C and S, 29 November 1708, and 2 documents following thereon.Dates1703-1714Access statusOpenLocationOff siteDescriptionPersons later concerned are:
The said John Crawfurd, 1703.
The said David, Lord Boyle, later Earl of Glasgow, 1703-1714.
The said Mr Robert Douglas, minister, 1714.
The said William Douglas, chirurgeon apothecary in Forfar, 1714.
Charles Dickson of Cononsyth, relict of said Margaret and father of David, John, William and Margaret Dickson, 1714.

Comment by James Izatt on April 2, 2021 at 11:03


And PS after a very brief dig I found this reference to Archibald Douglas Miniser of Newbattle in the Douglas archives.

Clearly not related to John directly but they were In Newbattle at the same time,

Also picking up on the political angle he must have been the minister who had to appear before the Commissioners of Estates and at some point deprived of office. No wonder the numerous references to an absent minister.

There is also a record of a visitation in the minutes where the Heritors. including the Earl of Lothian had to sit there meekly and agree to everything that was said 

ARCHIBALD DOUGLAS, youngest son of Douglas of Tilwhilly; M.A. (Edinburgh, 19th July 1661); licen. by Presb. of Kelso 1663; ord. to Douglas 1663;
traps. to Cavers 1664, to Newton 1673, to Newbattle 1681; deprived for refusing the Test 1681; adm. (interim preacher) in Jan. 1683; inst. 24th
July 1684; died 31st March 1696, aged about 55. He marr. 27th July 1694, Janet, daugh. of William Carmichael, min. of Ewes, and had issue
Archibald, merchant, Pittenweem, wagon master-general to British Forces, died 1743, whose son, John, D.D., became Bishop of Salisbury; Helen;
Janet.[M.S. Acc. of Min., 1689; Scots Mag., lxix.]

Comment by James Izatt on April 2, 2021 at 10:24


Thank you. I noticed a few typos so apologies for that but I think I have the names mostly right.

I actually quite enjoyed researching the Edinburgh end because of the wider social and political  ramifications but to revert to the Newbattle situation there is a random reference to an Archibald Douglas minister, of Newbattle that I cannot tie down .

The thing about John Douglas is that he appears to have lived in a bit of a bubble because Unlike  Cockpen to make a comparison.

What you can infer is that he was quite closely linked to the church because a witness on quite a few

of the records is a James Chyrnisde (spelling again) who was a (ruling?) elder of the kirk for many years, There is also a Mr John Aird  a  family connected to Newbattle Kirk, including being ministers.

Plus after William Oliphant arrived a John and James Scott appear, I suspect that they are related to William Oliphants wife, who was a Scott.

So clearly there were social connections just not immediately local ones. Certainly nothing from Cockpen as far as I can see.

Incidentally now that the Kirk Session records are on line you can some times pick up nuggets of information albeit it is a bit of a needle in haystacks job 

What  struck me about Newbattle at around this time   is that there are many references to the Minister being absent and getting hauled over the coals by the authorities about not reading out a proclamation from the pulpit to support William and Mary following the Glorious Revolution. Clearly a fair bit of Jacobite sympathy there.  

I will see what more I can do at the Newbattle end 



Comment by William Douglas on April 2, 2021 at 9:12

There is a lot here to keep track of, but my initial reaction is:

a. Have you tracked the PLACES on a map?  That might show a pattern.

b. There are some interesting name spellings.  I cannot type, so errors regularly creep in, but 'Henreta' might reappear somewhere else? as an example...

c. There appear to be links between Cockpen and Wigtonshire.  Have you found any?

d. 'Hardie' cropped up in my correspondence within the last week - but I cannot recall where.   V. frustrating.


Making conections

The more information you can give about the people you mention, the more chance there is of someone else connecting with your family.

Dates and places of births, deaths and marriages all help to place families.

Professions also help.

'My great-grandmother mother was a Douglas from Montrose' does not give many clues to follow up! But a bit of flesh on the bones makes further research possible. But if we are told who she married, what his profession was and where the children were baptised, then we can get to work.

Maybe it is time to update the information in your profile?

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