Yes – These Are Really Strathearn Names !

Yes – These Are Really Strathearn Names !


                                                                              Ysenda Maxtone Graham

If one one Googles  “ Gorthy” ,one  comes  up with  a clutch of obscurities  who are in all probability enthusiastic  Facebookers  but  have without a doubt, little connection with the Strathearn place of that name  . You may of  course be fortunate to hit the name “ Gorthy Wood “ – now a Forestry Commission Scotland Wood , where  one can amble,  ad infinitum , and enjoy the pleasures  of rural Perthshire . There is however  a  much finite and exact  meaning to that old  word . Gorthy was a Barony of  Strathearn and is very much steeped in the history and story of our unique part  of Perthshire .

In the beginning of the 13th Century , then Estate of Gorthy was owned  by a Laird who bore the Christian name of Tristram  and used as a surname ( when surnames were not common ) – the designation of his lands – Gorthy- Tristram of Gorthy  . Many of his successors in the same line  for nearly 400 years after  were christened Tristram – a name which is  somewhat unusual in Scotland and  which  might rightly be referred  to as antipodal to the Scottish tradition ! If we look back into the  shadows of the past we might  well be  able  to ascertain whether this name originated  amongst  long forgotten Gorthies  or did it perhaps  originate through the choice of the long defunct Earls of Strathearn ?

I am somewhat obsessed  by that much ignored gem of Strathearn’s illustrious past – namely the Abbey of Inchaffray . An institution  which was so relevant in establishing our  proud heritage  but  which was sadly raped  by the insensitivity  of modern planners in cahoots with  blinkered or perhaps even devious politicians . Tristram of Gorthy appears as a witness to certain Charters of the Abbey . The Abbey was established  near his Castle and  he was one of the initial benefactors .The Charter  I refer to is undated  but worthy of  remembrance :

Let both the present and  future men know , that I , Tristram have given and granted , and in this my writing , have confirmed to God and to St John , the Apostle  of Inchaffray , and to the canons  who serve and shall serve God at that place , one croft of my territory of Eddardoeneth , which closely adjoins the pond of the mill house of Gorthy, toward the east .through the same divisions which Prior Malise held in his life, in free and continual gift , for the love of  God, and the salvation of my soul, to be kept  by him, and had and possessed from me and my heirs in freedom and quietness from all secular service , or servile work . The following are witnesses : - Abraham , Chaplain of the Lord of Strathearn ,and Arthur, his son ; Isacher,Chaplain of Fowlis , Lord Reginald , Canon of Strathearn, Henry and Tristram ; and William, Tristram’s son; and Tebald ; Foglias , Christina , wife of Tristram , and his daughter Anni; and many others .

This Charter was confirmed by Gilbert , Earl of Strathearn , prior  to his death in 1223. A further grant was made by Robert of Mefken ( Methven ) to the Abbot and Convent of Inchaffray  of “ two tofts and four acres of land in Kenandhem, otherwise called Dolpatrick “ ( Dalpatrick?? )

Let  me move on to the present . Those of you  who peruse the  ever bourgeoning Sunday supplements will,  no  doubt have stumbled across a very literate journalist  who goes  by the  somewhat unusual forename or Christian name of Ysenda .

Ysenda Maxtone Graham was born in 1962 and educated at The King’s School, Canterbury and Girton College, Cambridge. She has written widely for many newspapers and magazines, as features writer, book reviewer and columnist. She is the author of The Church Hesitant: A Portrait of the Church of England (published by Hodder & Stoughton); The Real Mrs Miniver (published by John Murray) which was shortlisted for the Whitbread Biography of the Year Award, 2002, and Mr Tibbits’s Catholic School, published by Slightly Foxed Editions in 2011, described by Rupert Christiansen as ‘a small but perfectly formed masterpiece’. This book sold out so quickly in its limited-edition hardback that it came out six weeks later as the first-ever Slightly Foxed paperback. She was a judge of the Whitbread Awards in 2003.She lives in London with her husband Michael and their three sons Toby, Charles and Francis.

The Maxtone Graham surname  perhaps gives a you a clue that Ysenda  is from that well known and  ancient line of Maxtone Grahams  whose presence at Cultoquhey spanned  many centuries in Strathearn . The forename of this eminent member of the Clan can be  found  lurking again in the Charters of that so neglected abbey

Ysenda, spouse of Earl Gilbert of Strathearn, by consent of the earl her lord, has given, granted, and established by her charter, to Inchaffray Abbey, five acres of land in her villa of Abercairney (PER), namely, that land which she perambulated in the presence of Sir Richard the knight and Geoffrey of Gask, her brothers, Henry and Tristram, sons of Tristram, William the earl’s clerk, and many others, in perpetual alms, free and quit from all service and secular exaction, with common pasture for 12 cows and two horses, and with all other easements pertaining to the same territory. Because she does not have her own seal, the seal of Bishop Abraham of Dunblane has been attached.


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