LAG TOWER: THE ANCESTRAL HOME OF THE GRIERSONS IN SCOTLAND.
Virtually all born to the name of Greer, Grier, or Grierson, derive from the Griersons of Dumfries-shire, and Lag Tower is the ancestral home of these Griersons.
The first person of the name Grierson was Gilbertthe elder who was listed on a register of rentals of the Lord of Dalkeith in 1376 when the lands of Laucht in the barony of Tybris were let to Gilbert Grierson, son of Duncan. The Griersons of Lag possessed vast estates in Dumfries-shire, Galloway, and Ayrshire. Gilbert the elder is said to have been cousin to Henry Earl of Orkney, Lord of St Clair and Nithsdale, he served as esquire and armor bearer to Archibald, 4th Earl of Douglas, and received land grants from George, 10th Earl of Dunbar. Many Griersons also served as hereditary bailies. The Griersons remained a prominent family in the Dumfriesshire area through the 18th century and clan Grierson is currently represented by the Chief of the Grierson Name and Arms, Sarah Grierson of Lag, the first female to hold this role.
Already a significant landholder in the Nith Valley, in 1410, Gilbert Grierson, 1st of Ard purchased and received by charter the lands of Lag, Dumfries-shire from his cousin Henry Sinclair, 2nd Earl of Orkney. Sometime before 1412, this Gilbert Grierson moved from Ard to Lag Bardonan in the parish of Dunscore.
His son was Gilbert Grierson, the younger also know as Gilbert of Lag, It was this Gilbert Grierson, who built a strong defensive tower now known as Lag Tower in Lag Bardonnan, where his son Vedast and his young bride settled and raised their three sons.
The last occupant of Lag Tower is believed to have been the notorious Sir Robert Grierson, 1st Baronet of Lag, who moved to more commodious quarters long before his demise in 1733. By then, the structure was considerably dilapidated and was further reduced by fire on an unknown date thereafter. Located about 7 miles from Dumfries, Lag Tower sits beside Lagg farm and is midway between Dunscore and Glenmidge in Nithsdale. Lag Tower is now the property of the Lag Tower Preservation Trust. (See below a description and the history of Lag Tower. )
LAG TOWER PRESERVATION TRUST
The Lag Tower Preservation Trust Ltd. was established in 2002 by Mr. William Crawford, a retired judge that currently lives in Dalgoner, another previous Grierson estate in the Dumfries area. This Trust is a Charitable Trust Company, limited by guarantee, and is the ideal vehicle for receiving donations, and not being taxed on them. Mr. Crawford chose as fellow Directors, Philip Hamilton-Grierson grandson of the last Grierson of Dalgonar, Fiona McCulloch, a local solicitor (lawyer) who has served on the Executive Committee for the National Trust for Scotland and recently, Gayle Greer Clutter.
Mr. Crawford and the other Directors have, at their own expense, kept the Company in existence (there are company fees to pay even when a company has been, like this one, dormant for a while) so that when circumstances changed in our favor, we could start work without delay to preserve this oldest piece of Grierson history for future generations.
Please see below for definitions associated with the Trust being a Charitable Trust Company, limited by guarantee.
Lag Tower stands about seven miles from Dumfries, and was built in the midst of morasses and thick woods. Lag Tower sits beside Lagg farm and is midway between Dunscore and Glenmidge in Nithsdale. This keep stands about three miles from Auldgirth Bridge, the road winding round green pasture hills.
The tower is oblong on plan, measuring externally 29 feet 6 inches from north to south and 25 feet from east to west, with walls 5 feet 10 inches thick on ground floor. The entrance, which is in the south wall, opens to the right on a wheel-staircase, 3 feet 3 inches wide, leading to the upper floors. The only window on the ground floor is a narrow slit in the east wall, widely flauned to the interior; there is no fireplace. There are three storeys above the basement. The first and second floors have fireplaces in the north walls and windows with pointed scoinson arches. The building has not been vaulted. There is a garderobe recess on the first floor at the west end of the north wall, and a lintelled opening at ground level in the north wall communicates with a circular garderobe flue to the second floor.
A courtyard wall runs diagonally from the northwest angle for a distance of 38 feet, where it returns southwards 27 feet to an arched gateway 6 feet wide. Against the walls in the courtyard are traces of out-buildings. The tower appears to belong to the 16th century."
The entrance is on ground floor of the south wall and leads along a short passage into the basement, which is not vaulted and is lit by a single arrow slit in the west wall. To the right of the passage a turnpike stair once gave access to three upper floors, all of which are now gone.
The building of which the walls remain to a considerable height, measures 29, 9”from north to south, by 25’ 3” from east to west. The door is in the middle of the south end, and leads directly by a passage through a wall 5’ 9” thick into the basement floor, which consists of an apartment 17’ 11” long by 13’ 6”wide. The upper floors, of which there were three, contained each one room of the same dimensions. From a passage in the north-east corner of the tower a wheel-stair 3’ 3”wide led to the upper floors. The entrance seems to have had both an outer door and one which folded into the passage. Another door also opened into the ground floor, and it is probable that the foot of the stair had also a separate door. None of the floors were vaulted. The ground floor is lighted by a small slit 5 inches wide, and has no other opening. The first floor has a fireplace in the north end, and two side lights with pointed arches. The second floor has a fireplace also in the north end, with a gardelobe alongside, and similar arched windows towards the west. The corbelling for the joists of the third floor remains, but most of the walls above this height are gone. From the north-west corner of the tower a ruined wall runs diagonally down the hill for about 35’, and at the foot of the hill, at a distance of about 40 feet north- westwards, there are the remains of ruined outbuildings. Lag belonged from the beginning of the fifteenth century to the family of Grierson, the last occupant of the house being Sir Robert Grierson of Lag, a well known enemy of the covenanters.
Photo # 1: Lag Castle as shown in The Historical Families and the Border Wars, by C. L. Johnstone, 1878 From Ralph Terry Photo #2: Lag Tower plan from Ralph Terry Photo #3: Two engraving of Lag Tower published 1790, by S. Hooper. They were in a file at Ewart Library in Dumfries. Photo #5: Memorial to Sir Robert Grierson not erected until 1897 because it was said that "Auld Lag" was "so hated" that a marker couldn't be erected, before that for fear of it being vandalized. Photo #6: It is said this stone above the Robert Grierson monument was removed from Lag Tower and preserved here. Photos 7 & 8: Arial view of Lag Tower & surrounding area.
Do you have a comment or suggestion? Use the Contact button at the top of the page and we'll post it. You can also contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org Thank you Gayle Greer Clutter website administrator
Mary Greer-Burnette says: Fascinated by my family history- when we "yanks" look backward we see we have no heritage here in the states- we have no traditions,every thing is tied to across the "pond" - pictures of Scotland and Ireland bring up melancholy feelings of missing a home we have never know... I wish I could donate more, I wish I could visit, but some day - when our Lord takes us home with him, we will know all things and it is MY wish and dream that we will be able to close our eyes in our new bodies and re-live lives we have never even know... visit places we have longed to see, and meet people we have never met... Maranatha! I am a Christian and long to be with my "family"- for ever more... Here's to all of you who are restoring our past.. Salute' Mary Nell Greer (Burnette)
Letter from Sarah Grierson, 25th Chief of the Clan Grierson to the 2017 Grierson Gathering in Thornhill, Scotland July, 2017
I'm sorry that I am unable to join with you for your 2017 summer gathering. A hundred and fifty years ago and more, my ancestors would hold an annual dinner for the tenant farmers living and working on the Barony of Rockhall in a hostelry much like The B+Q. Changing times in the early 20th century led to my family leaving Scotland, to follow careers in the Royal Navy, based on the south coast of England. Many of your own ancestors will have left many years before, to seek a new life, perhaps in Northern Ireland, America, Australia, South Africa or even South America
I was lucky to visit the old family home, Rockhall in 2013 and saw many other places including Lag Tower during our family tour. The scenery in Dumfriesshire is beautiful and the view across the Solway Firth as the sun goes down, a delight. For those of you who are here for the first time, you are in for a treat! Special thanks must go to William [Crawford] and Philip [Hamilton-Grierson] for their long standing commitment to the Lag Tower Preservation Trust, and to Gayle [Greer-Clutter] for your endeavours to gather fellow Griers and Griersons together on this occasion. I know that my father, Sir Michael, enjoyed his dealings with William and would have been pleased to hear of the action taken to rescue the ancient Tower. I hope you eat and drink well this evening, and wish your visit to Dumfriesshire every success. Sarah
Current Progress July 2017
Many trees & shurbs removed. Ground cleared. Access to back of Tower available. Gathering participant pose in front of Lag Tower.
2015: Stabilization has been started!
June, 2016 The Lag Tower Preservation Trust, Ltd is now the sole owner of Lag Tower.
Much thanks is offered to Judge William Crawford for his persistence over many years to make this happen. Congratulations to you and the other Trust representatives that have made this happen! Thanks is also offered to David and Claire Matthews who have transferred ownership of this property to the Trust.
2016:We would like to offer a very big thank you to Philip Hamilton-Grierson of Pitlundie, North Kessock, Ross-shire for his very generous donation to the LAG TOWER PRESERVATION TRUST. Philip is one of the Directors of the Trust and has supported this project from its inception in 2002.
Philip is the present Hamilton-Grierson of Dalgonar being the grandson of Sir Philip James Hamilton who inherited Dalgoner from his uncle James Grierson in about 1880 with the stipulation that he would change his name to Hamilton-Grierson. Sir Philip James Hamilton was invested as a Knight in 1910 and was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Law (LL.D.) by University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh. His uncle, James Grierson (1824-1879), was the brother of Margaret Grierson, Sir Phillip’s mother. James never married and so had no direct heirs. 2015: Judge William Crawford has made a loan to the Lag Tower Preservation Trust to start stabilization activities. He wasn't sure it would make it through the winter. So, he also hired a contractor to start the work. This is what was done: 1. Cut down excess vegetation and interior trees, bushes and vegetation to access all works. 2 Erect scaffolding to the exterior north and east elevations including baton platforms to the top of the building. 3 Erect scaffold towers internally. 4 Remove excess vegetation from the stonework where accessible from the scaffolding. S Rake out loose areas of lime mortar. 6 Apply new lime mortar to the areas of loose stonework mainly to the top area of the north and east elevations and around the two openings both internally and externally. 7 Provide temporary propping to both openings in timber to support the stone above. 8 Apply a coat of weed killer spray to the wall heads and walls to the north and east elevations. 9 Dismantle and remove scaffolding Please help repay this loan by making a donation to the Go-Fund-Me site.
The Grierson Family came into prominence under George, Tenth Earl of Dunbar, who granted Gilbert I the lands of Ard and Tynron, in the parish of Tynron for the service as baillie in the barony of Tibbers sometime before 1400.1,2 In about 1405, Lag charters list an undated sale by John McRath of Lacht to his kinsman, Gilbert Grersoun, of Ard to the lands of Lag Bardonane. In 1408 he was granted the lands of Lag by Henry, 2nd Earl of Orkney.1,2 In 1410 he was granted the lands of Drumjoan by Archibald, 4th Earl of Douglas. 1,2 Before 1418 he was granted the lands of Airde, Tyrcome, Overholm, Netherholm and Dalgarnock by charter from the 9th Earl of Dunbar.1,2
Sometime between 1408 and 1412, Gilbert Grierson moved from Ard to Lag Bardonan in the parish of Dunscore, but continued to hold in heritage his lands of Ard and Tynron and it would seem, continued in office as barony bailie. Gilbert I had three sons. His 1st son and heir was Gilbert Grierson, II of Lag (1397 -1444).
Gilbert II was styled the 1st Lord of Lag and inherited the lands of Arde & Lag from his father. Gilbert II married Isabella de Kirkpatrick,3 Lady Rocail, who was inherited Rocail on the death of her father in 1425. Through this marriage union, Rocail, now spelled Rock Hall came into the possession of Gilbert Grierson.3 Gilbert II had five sons.
This Gilbert Grierson,the younger, was also known as Gilbert, 1st of Lag, It was this Gilbert Grierson, the younger, who built a strong defensive tower now known as Lag Tower in Lag Bardonnan, where his 1st son Vedast and his young bride settled and raised their three sons. Vedast's 1st son was born in 1439,3 so he was married prior to this date. Also, Gilbert's charter, dated 2nd September, 1440, was sealed at the Tower of Lag, in the presence of the following witnesses: his eldest son, Vedast Grierson, Gilbert's brother William Grierson, laird of Dalton and others. This indicates that Lag Tower was built c 1439. Gilbert would have moved to Rockhall.
Gilbert II' s 1st son and heir was Vedast Grierson, 3rd Lord of Lag. (1415 - 1487). Vedast, succeeded his father in 1444. Vedast Grierson was killed when he led his subjects into battle at the Battle of Sauchieburn which was fought on June 11, 1488, having stood for the cause of King James III against his son then Prince James. Vedast had 4 sons.3,6 His son Roger Grierson was 4th Lord of Lag (1439- 1488.) In 1488, Roger Grierson also died as a result of wounds received at the battle of Sauchieburn. Roger left two sons.2,3,6 Cuthbert, 5th of Lag, succeeded his father in 1490, However, Cuthbert died childless before 9 May 15133,6 and his brother Roger would have inherited but unfortunately, Roger, along with two of his three sons, died at the infamous Battle of Flodden Field in 1513, before he could succeed his brother, Cuthbert, to the Lordship of Lag.3 Therefore, Roger's 3rd son, Sir John Grierson (1500-1566) became heir to his deceased uncle Cuthbert Grierson and became the 6th Lord of Lag. Sir John had sasine of Rock Hall and of Lag in 1514.3,7 The 1654 marriage contract of Margaret Douglas and (Sir) John Grierson lists him as Knight.
Sir Roger [Rodger] Grierson, eldest surviving son of Sir John Grierson and his 2nd wife, became the 8th Lord of Lag when he succeeded his half-brother William, who died without an heir. He also had sasine of of Rock Hall.1,2,3
Sir William Grierson (1567 - 1629) 9th Lord of Lag and eldest lawful son of Rodger Grierson, was Knighted by King James VI in 1608 and Lag Charter #159 refers to him as "Sir" on 23 March 1605.2,3 Sir William had three sons and was succeeded by his son Sir Robert Grierson (1595/98 - 1654) 10th Lord of Lag.3
This notorious Sir Robert Grierson removed to Rockhall long before his demise in1733. This was the infamous pursuer of the Covenanters. It was said that "Auld Lag" was "so hated" that it was not until 1897 that a marker could be erected, for fear of it being vandalized. By then, Lag Tower was considerably dilapidated. General Grierson records that a fire started by a "careless servant" at Lag Tower did major damage to the structure and destroyed the whole of the family records and silver plate.
The Baronetage of Scotland" - Sir Robt Douglas; Vol 1, p 493; 1798; "Burke's Peerage"; "British Authority" - Sir William Playfair; Vol 7, pp 506-13; London, 1811; "O'Hart's Irish Pedigrees, Irish and British;" "British Authority", and "O'Hart's Irish Pedigrees, Irish and British."
1962 Yearbook of the American Clan Gregor Society, Inc, (page 24, # 1364, Robert Alan Temple), Washington, D.C. and other notes and charts from Lois Temple, Dublin, VA.
Way, George and Squire, Romily. Collins Scottish Clan & Family Encyclopedia. (Foreword by The Rt Hon. The Earl of Elgin KT, Convenor, The Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs). Published in 1994. Pages 152 - 153.
Bannatyne Club: Registrum Honoris de Morton, Vol. I, Original Papers, p. 204, no. 216
Grierson Notes" manuscript by Sir Philip J. Hamilton - Grierson Kt., 1948, found in the Dumfries, Scotland Library
Irish Pedigrees; or the Origin and stem of the Irish Nation", by John O'Hart, Vol. II, pp. 234-236.
Definitions of the Trust being a Charitable Trust Company, limited by guarantee
A charity is set up to fulfill one or more charitable 'objects', set out in the charity's governing document. The objects of the charity must conform to the provisions set out in the Charities Acts, as must the manner in which the charity is run in general. In Scotland, charities are subject to a strict regime of regulation by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator.
The people who run the charity and are responsible for its finances are called the trustees. It is up to the trustees to hold any property 'on trust' for the charity. This means that the trustees have legal title to the property, but the 'real' (i.e. the 'equitable') owner is the charity.
A trust is the 'classic' form under which charities have operated for many years, and is a type of unincorporated body governed by a document called a trust deed. A Trust is simpler to administer and cheaper to establish and operate. The benefit of a Trust is that it provides protection for the individual trustees/directors from personal financial liability in some circumstances where trustees of an unincorporated charitable trust would not be protected.
A company limited by guarantee is set up with special charitable articles, and is registered both at Companies House (as a company) and with the Charity Commission as a charity in its own right. A charitable company, as an incorporated body, can own property, will be liable for its own debts, and can transact business with third parties (i.e. without the need for the trustees to do so on its behalf). As a limited company, the charity will have directors and members; the directors will also be trustees of the charity for the purposes of the Charities Act. The great advantage to those running the charity is that as a limited company, only the charity is liable for its debts and the people behind it are in most circumstances fully protected by limited liability.
Charitable companies must make returns and submit accounts on an annual basis to both Companies House and the Charity Commission, and must also comply with both charity and company law.