Old Families - preface
The following article, published in 1905 is believed to be the first attempt to bring together the pedigrees of the family of Hunter of Abbotshill and its various branches so far as they are now ascertainable.
In compiling these genealogies the following authorities have been consulted: Robertson's 'Ayrshire Families,'- Paterson's '-History of Ayrshire,' and Burke's 'Landed- Gentry,' besides private documents, in the possession of various members of the family.
There appears to have been a long-standing tradition that the family were descended from the Hunters of Hunterston, in Ayrshire, and in the various grants of arms made to members of the family from time to time it will be noticed that that statement has invariably been made. The tradition does not appear to be based on any Positive evidence. It is, however, a remarkable fact that John Hunter, fifth of Abbotshill, described himself as descended of the family of Hunterstoun' when matriculating his armorial bearings at the Lyon Office about the year 1685. At that period, at any rate, there should have been no doubt about the matter.
The late Mr. Robert Hunter of Hunterston, who died in 1880, was much interested in the pedigrees of his family, and caused a thorough investigation to be made by a lawyer of repute, assisted by a distinguished genealogist, into the family history without being able to trace any evidence of the connection of the two families. The result of the inquiry is preserved at Hunterston, and a copy of the pedigree* can be seen at the Advocates' Library, Edinburgh.
* 'The Pedigree of Hunter of Hunterston, or, Of that Ilk, compiled from State Records, Exchequer Rolls, Parish Registers, and other Public Authorities, and from Charters, Family Documents, and Private MSS. in the possession of Robert Hunter, Esq., of Hunterston, 1865.1
In this pedigree it states that Kentigern, or Mungo, Hunter, sixteenth Laird of Hunterston (who was killed at the Battle of Pinkie, September 10, 1547), left two sons-
1. Robert, who succeeded him.
2. John, who married Janet Lindsay, as is set forth in the Commissary Records of Glasgow,
where there are many entries in February and March, 158o, and on March 25, 1591. He is also repeatedly named in the Register of Decreets of the Lords of Session from 1594 to 1596, and in 1598 “In the same Register of Decreets Marion Hamilton is named as his mother, and Robert- Huntar is called his son. In all these very ,voluminous proceedings, and in the numerous documents of the period, no mention is made of James Huntar, who married Janet Neil, the ancestor of the Abbotshill family, who, as Robertson affirms, “ is supposed to have been a younger son of Mungo Hunter of Hunterston , who, in 1547, was killed at, the Battle of Pinkie," and from whom, according to Burke, more than one family of the name are descended.'
A similar and equally unsuccessful attempt was made by the late Mr. W. F. Hunter-Arundell of Barjarg.
At the same time, besides the above statement made by John Hunter c. 1685, there undoubtedly appears to have been a certain amount of reason for admitting the connection between the two families, as, according to Paterson's ' History of Ayrshire', first edition), vol. ii-, p- 134; it is stated that Robert Hunter, the eighteenth Laird of Hunterston, who died 1616, having no issue, “ settled his estate on the husband of his niece, Jean Cuninghame, who married Patrick Hunter (son of William Hunter, of Bynberry-Yards, parish of Ayr), great grandson of Mungo of that Ilk, as appears from a charter in the possession of the present Hunterston.' Again, Paterson, in vol. i., P. 204, says: '5. William (youngest 'son of James Hunter, fourth of Abb6tshill) got Bynberry-Yards. He married, in 1667, Anna,. daughter of John Adamson, of Woodlands.' It would therefore appear to be somewhat strange that the latter, a younger son of an Abbotshill Hunter, should have inherited Bynberry Yards if he had not somehow been related to the husband of Jean Cuninghame.
But the difficulty now arising in tracing pedigrees with absolute certainty is undoubtedly caused, as a writer in Notes and Queries once said, by the fact that, the old heralds rarely entered into details as to any but those who continued the line, and it not infrequently happens that the daughters, and sometimes the younger sons also, are omitted altogether.'
In compiling the pedigrees here given, my thanks are due to Mrs. Hunter-Arundell, of Barjarg Tower, for kindly allowing me to go through the manuscripts at Barjarg, also to her grand-nephew, Mr. H. W. F. Wadd, for much valuable assistance; to Miss C. C. Hunter, for help in the Doonholm branch; to the Rev. Sir David Hunter-Blair, Bart., who went through the Blairquhan records; to Major Patrick Hunter, late. of Auchterarder; and to Mr. Charles Stewart, W.S., who helped me greatly with information about the Thurston pedigree.
A. A. H.