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Notable Members of The Halket Family

The exact period of the family's settlement in the county of Fife Scotland is difficult to ascertain – there is mention of Sir Henry Halkette, witness to Charter by Henry de Graham, c. 1230, and;

Sir Walter Haket, was in the service of Robert de Brus, Earl of Carrick, 1298



ROBERT HALKETT, collector of the thirds of Benefices Fife in 1360 and as Sheriff of Kinross by charter of Robert II on 9th March 1372. Robert was a prominent land holder in Kinross, for shortly after we find - There is a Hugh of Lochore, Sheriff of Fife, when he gave ⅓ of the lands of  Pitfirrane in 1245 in the reign of Alexander II to his nephew Hugh (⅓ of Lands of Pitfirrane from his uncle). Hugh was the father of two sons and one daughter:

1) David de Lochor, 1251, Sheriff of Fife, 1264 - 1266, another son,

2) Constantine de Lochor 1234, he gave Kinglassie to Dunfermline Abbey, also Sheriff of Fife and a Prisoner at Dunbar. Hugh's daughter married William Scott, Lord of Balwerey, with consent of his heir, Philip Hacat, his beloved cousin, of the two Mutthulies and Capeth, and third part of Pitfirrane.   Philip Halkett, Lord of Balmagall 1290, Lord of Lumphenen 1393, had a brother William of Louchquhor and a sister, who had a son. 



PHILIP HALKETT (sometimes written as Hacat), the first ancestor identified, had a Charter from his beloved cousin William Scot, of Balwerey, who was married to the sister of Constantine of Lochore, Sheriff of Fife, with consent of his heir, to Philip Halkett, of the two Muathulies and Capeth and ⅓ part of Pitfrirrane circa 1400. This Philip Halkett, Lord of Balnagal now Ballingall to the west of Kinross 1390, is the son of Robert. This Philip is also designated Lord of Lumphanan now Lumphinnans, a part of Cowdenbeath, in a brieve of perambulation in July 1393.  Philip acquired about 1400, half of the neighbouring barony of Pitconnochie from Sir John Wemyss of Rires, though later this has been reduced to a sixth. Philip died after 1415 but before 1432. He had at least two sons.  He also had a brother WILLIAM of Lochquhor, and a sister who had at least one son.  WILLIAM HAKAT, of Louchquhor, brother of Philip, above, Lord of Balnagel, he had a least one son William Halkett (Hakket), of Belesice.  He left to his cousin Sir David of Louchquhor ⅓ of Pitfirrane, 1431.  Also in a Letter of Reversion William Halkett of Beilsice to William Halkett of Pitfirrane, who had given him by charter and seisin an annual rent of 40s from his lands of Balingal in the shire of Kinross on 23 April 1472.  William Halkett married Jane Fenton in September 1446 co-heiress of Walter de Fenton of Baky in Angus. Janet was his second daughter and was the widow of Robert Stewart, second son of Sir David Stewart of Rosyth, and was said by her own position to have been kept under conditions of extreme severity until she assigned her lands to the Stewarts.

Philip Halkett, above died after 1415 but before 1432.  He had at least two sons - 

1)    David Halkett (sometimes written as Hakat), of Lands of Balnagal, 1404, also, Lord of Balmongy, 1420 and Sir David  of Lochquhor 1431, he built a byre 1435, with issue.

2)    Robert Halkett (sometimes written as Hakat), resigned his lands and tenement in Newburgh in favour of a noble man  David Halkett (Hakat), his brother, 15 January 1422. 



DAVID HALKETT (sometimes written as HAKAT), as second Laird of Pitfirrane whom had a dispute over boundaries with the Abbot of Dunfermline. David Halkett is the son and heir of Philip Halkett, Lord of Lumphenen, 1392 above, Robert Stewart, Lord of Lorne and Sheriff-depute of Kinross for giving seisin to David Halkett of the lands of Balnagal with the office of mair of fee, and office of coronership of the wataeris, 3 June 1404, became Lord of Balmongy 1420, Sir David of Louchquhor in 1431, from his cousin William Halkett. For a time David Halkett held the lands of Cluny to the north of Pitfirrane but this was in possession of the Wemyss of Pittencrieff by 1455 David is later seen to hold the third of Pitfirrane from the Kinninmonths of Craighall, and Lumphinnans from the Wardlaw of Torrie who had gained possession of part at lest of the old Lochore Lands. Nimmo in his "History of Stirlingshire" (1817) relates that a laird of Halkett fought a tournament along with two Douglasses against two Burgundian knights and a squire, and that he was knighted for the occasion.  This was in 1449 but whether this refers to David or his son James cannot be proved.   David Halkett died 1451. 

We have no record of who he married but he did leave issue -  

1)    James Halkett, who died during his Father's lifetime, with issue.

2)    Margaret Halkett, who married Alexander Brown.



JAMES HALKETT (sometimes written as Hakat), the third Laird of Pitfirrane, son and heir of above David Halkett, married a daughter of Sir James Boswell of Balmuto, he died in his father's lifetime, according to Douglas Peerage.  Pitfirrane states Special Retour of William Halkett to James Halkett, his father, in a certain third part of the lands called the "thryd" part of the lands of Ouchtertyre, Balcrag and mill thereof, in the sheriffdom of Forfar Dundee, 19th April 1446. We know he had one son - 

1) William Halkett




WILLIAM HALKETT (sometimes written as Hakat), son and heir of the above James Halkett, - He was infefted in 1446 in the lands of Auchtertyre and Balcraig in the Sheriffdom of Forfar, which had been held by his father James.  Elizabeth, Stewart his wife, noblewoman, of the diocese of St Andrews, an indult to have a portable altar. Sometime before 1484, if not in that year, he married Margaret, daughter of Alexander Cunningham of Polmaise and later Auchenbowie near Stirling, later knighted, and Sheriff of tht shire, and Provost of the town of that name.  He is said to have been a descendant of the Cunninghams of Kilmaurs.  Alexander Cunningham had an interest in the neighbouring lands of Pitconnochie and William was well acquainted with him, witnessing a charter for him at Pitfirrane in 1477.  In May 1484 William received another sixth of Pitconnochie from him.

There are references in the early charters of Linlithgow to a Laird of Halkett, possibly William, and the family seems to have some connection with that area.  His daughter Margaret marries a Liston of Humbie near that town, and in the 16th century there is a David Halkett there, whose seal displays the undifferenced arms of Halkett. If the Laird of Halkett can be equated with William of Pitfirrane he seems to have been a boon companion of James IV who draws sums of money from the Treasurer to play cards with the Laird and others in 1489 and 1490. (Lord High Treas. Acc.) 

William died in December 1499.

William left issue - 

1)    Henry Halkett, his heir, Provost.

2)    Thomas Halkett of Lumphinnans

3)    John Halkett, Merchant, Dunfermline.

4)    Margaret Halkett m.1502 Robert Linton of Humbie in January 1502 with a dowry of 200 merks.

5)    Katherine Halkett m. Andrew Kinninouth of Craighall, Fife.

6)    Andrew Halkett of Kirkcaldy, who gifts wax to the Abbey in 1515. He appeared for Katherine before the Sheriff in Kirkcaldy.  He seems to have settled there and is the ancestor of the Kirkcaldy Halketts.

7)    Peter Halkett, Merchant.

8)    David Adam Halkett, Killed at Flodden Field 1513, m. Helen Mason and had issue -

       1)    Henry Halkett of Pitliver, who had a son

              1)    David Halkett of Broughton, Linlithgow, who m. Katherine Danielston of Pitliver, they had a son,

                     1)    George Halkett in favour with James IV, who was Special Ambassador to Queen Elizabeth, and Traded with  Spain, died, 1586. Halkett was appointed Conservator from 1555 to 1561 and again in 1565, holding the position until his death in March 1589. His was an extremely difficult task, as the revolt of the Netherlands against Spain was flaring up and he had to try to hold a neutral position, representing the British merchants, who ungratefully blamed him for their

losses and misfortunes. He had in their interests to keep on good terms with the Spanish authorities when Scottish volunteers were flocking in large numbers to aid their co-religionists. At the same time he was acting as Ambassador for the Scottish Government to the Dukes of Parma and Alva, as well as reporting on the Marian  plots in France and Holland. Nevertheless he was successful in persuading Philip II to recognize the privileges of the Scottish merchants of Campvere as early as 1568, pending the final settlement there ten years later. He had already been censured by the Convention of Royal Burghs for the decay of privileges, and that body also insisted that he ensure the

strict Protestant religious observances of all merchants resorting to the staple. On the other hand Philip II had insisted on a condition of the grant that the Scottish merchants should behave as good Catholics, a clause accepted by the Regent Moray.  Such contradictions were no doubt ignored in practice. (See “Scottish Staple at Vere.” Davidson and Gray), part from his duties as Conservator George Halkett was high in favor with the young King James VI. Numerous references in official letters of the period testify to his presence at court between 1576 and 1585. He was employed as special  Ambassador to Elizabeth on matters of trade as well as to the Spanish authorities who thought highly of him. He was exempted from returning any gifts of Abbey lands when James VI resumed them.

George had been an attendant of Bothwell who married Mary, Queen of Scots, for one account states that Bothwell was informed of the death of Darnley by one Halkett.   If that is the case, he must have been particularly agile in shifting his allegiance or securing another patron to escape the fatal interrogations of Bothwell'sstaff when he fell from power.  From other evidence it would seem that he got the  protection of  Regent Morton who ruthlessly seized power after the flight of Mary, but he was dabbling in the intrigues of that stormy and bloody period.

                         2) Daughter Katherine Halkett who married Charles Danielston of Pitliver.

                         3) Jean Halkett who married Hew Murray of Cars, and John Swinton of Inverkeithing.


 9 SEPTEMBER 1513 

JAMES IV occasionally resided in Dunfermline, as the palace was built, or at least enlarged by him in 1500, after he had been twelve years on the throne.  James was more given to love than wine, and Dunbar’s poem, entitled, “The Tod and Lamb’ or the wooing of the King when he was at Dunfermling” arouse from a libertine prank, that took place on one of his visitations.     

   In 1509 James the IV, prevailed on the pope to confirm the donation of the Arch-bishopric of St Andrews, along with the Abbey of Dunfermline, to Alexander his natural son; and he next entreated the Pope to add to these the Priory of Coldingham. This young pluralist was slain with his father at Flodden field, at the age of twenty-three. (Mercer His of Dunf. p. 59)

   1513 – Alexander Stuart, Abbot of Dunfermline Slain, the youthful Abbot of Dunfermline accompanied his father, King James IV to Flodden, and was, along with his ill-fated father and the flower of the Scottish army, slain on Flodden Field, on 9th September 1513, being then in the 21st year of his age. (Mercer's Hist. Dunf. p. 59; Chal. Hist. Dunf. vol. i. p. 195.) The great Erasums was this Abbot’s Tutor, from whom he had a noble character.  (Crawford’s Offices of State, pp. 59, 60; Keith’s Scottish Bishops, pp. 33, 34.)  His skeleton was found in 1820, near the High Altar site of St Andrews Cathedral.  The skull had a deep sword-cut wound, penetrating through the thickness of the bone.  (Newspapers of 1820.) (Annals of Dunfermline p. 187)

   When King James IV fell at Flodden his son Alexander, Archbishop of St Andrews and Abbot of Dunfermline fell by his side. The youth was but 15 years of age & was not a seemingly victim of the sword.  Both the King & his son lay the flowers of the Scottish nobility.  There lay 10 Earls and 13 Lords, and 6 peers eldest sons, a bishop fell there too and 2 Abbots and the preceptors of Torphichen.  The French Ambassador was also among the slain.  The Earl of Angus lost 2 sons and a son-in-law.  The Earl of Man lost 1 son.  Lord Oliphant lost 1 son.  Lord Cathcart 3 sons; Lord Glamis 3 sons & a son-in-law & a grandson.  Sir Alexander Lauder, Provost of Edinburgh & his brothers James and Sir George were also Killed at Flodden.  So were Lord Rothes & his brother:  McDowall of Gartshshane & his son: James of Wedderburn & his son (“The Eldest of seen spears”)  Boswell of Balmule & his brother Boswell of Auchinleck.  

   The original gazette of the battle preserved in the college of arms London, says the number of Scots killed was 10,000’ the contemporary writer says “Xi to Xii thousand man of the Scots with XIIC of the English” were killed at Flodden. 

   Mr Jones, Vicar of Brankston, in his” Battle of Flodden Field” admits to the of Scots slain “was 10,000 to 12,000 on the field with their King” he also says “That nearly as many, if not an equal number, fell on the side of the English” and the Bishop of Durham, writing an account of the battle to Alexander Wolsey, says to the Scots were so surely (securely) h …. To arrows did them no harm, they were so mighty 

large & great men!” 

  Hill Burton estimates the number of Scots killed at 8,000 to 10,000 and the English at 6,000 to 7,000.  The fact to the Scots kept possession of Flodden Hill all  night after the battle, and to the English made no attempt to follow up their advantage, shows how greatly they must have been crippled.


DAVID ADAM HALKETT, son of William Halkett and brother of Henry Halkett, Provost of Dunfermline 1511 to 1512 and who died before July 1513.  David Adam Halkett who along with a contingency of men from Dunfermline were killed at the Battle of Flodden 9th August 1513.   He had, at the time of his decease, and for long before that ‘the right, title, kindness and possession of the lands of Pitliver and Braidley, with the myln and multures of the same’ In virtue of an act passed in favour of the wives and children of those who fell at Flodden, his widow, Helen Mason, received right and possession of the above lands and mill till her death in 1537 or thereby.

In that same year Henry Halkett, son of David Adam Halkett and father of David Halkett, the

petitioner, having five years of his tack to run, obtained a new tack subscribed by the Prior and Convent of Dunfermline.  Notwithstanding which - so the Petition runs - the late Charles Denneston (or Denielston), husband of Katherine Halkett (presumably a daughter of Adam Halkett and Helen Mason, wrongfully retained and kept possession of these lands and would not suffer the late Henry, David's father, entry thereto; and his widow still retains possession of the lands, so that David, though nearest and lawful heir to his father and grandfather, is wrongfully debarred therefrom.  And now the Commendator of the Abbey and the Royal Treasurer intend to 'set' the said lands and mill to Katherine and her three daughters, unless he Lords of the Privy Council intervene. The Privy Council ordered the following to be summoned: the Commendator (Robert Pitcairn),Patrick Halkett of Pitfirrane, Katherine Halkett and her thre daughters, with James Mowbray and Robert Fraser, for their interest as husbands of Elizabeth and Margaret. 

    Note - Jean, the second daughter, married, 1) Hew, brother of David Murray of Cars and 2)  as his second wife, John Swinton of Inverkeithing (Stephen, Hist., 469. See also Webster, History of Carnock, p. 297).  By this time John Swinton was presumably dead.) 

   In due course all appeared, except the Commendator, when the Lords found: 1) that Katherine Halkett, as relict, and Elizabeth, Jane and Margaret, as daughters of the deceased Charles Danielston, had 'best kindness' to the lands of Pitliver and   Braidlley; and (2) that the claim of Patrick Halket of Pitfirrane, in name of his son   George, was invalid.  The Lords, accordingly, called upon the Commendator, in  accordance with the Act referred to, to receive them as tenants - Katherine and her husband having been in undisputed possession of the lands, for the space of fifty years, or thereby, bygane'.   (Page 43.  Charles Denneston.  Petition of David  Halkett.)   

  A Captain Charles Denneston was in charge of the work of fortification at Inchgarvie, 23d December 1514 (Stephen 382)    Note. – Charles Denneston.  Petition of David Halkett:  (Regality of Dunfermline Court  Book by J.M. Webster p.158) 



HENRY HALKETT (sometimes written as Hakat), succeeded to the two-thirds of Pitfirrane, two-sixths of Pitconnochie, Lumphinnans, Auchtertyre, and Balcraig. He also added the lands of Craigton in the barony of Carnbee.  Henry, during his lifetime associates his son, John, in his lands. The process of sasines and resumptions is puzzling, unless Henry wished to ensure the retention of the lands in the family for some reason, and then discovered that he had divested himself of too much. 

   John was also lending his father money on the security of these lands. In 1509 John receives Auchtertyre, and Balcraig, two-sixths of Pitconnochie and the third of Pitfirrane on which the mansion house was erected. In 1513, however, Henry resumes Pitfirrane on a new charter of confirmation from the king. 

   He was entered Burgess of Dunfermline in 1501, and is elected Provost in 1511 and again in 1512. He was thus in office 1513 after which his oldest son, John, succeeds him at Pitfirrane.  

   Precept upon Charter by James Cunynghame of Polmais for infefting John Halkett, son and heir of the deceased Henry Halkett, in the sixth part of Petconoquhy, 3rd September 1514.

 (Henry Haket was deceased before 9th September 1514 the date of Flodden Field).  Henry Halkett left issue -

1)    John Halkett, who succeeded him.

2)    Peter Halkett, later Provost of Dunfermline in 1549, though the James and Henry who appear as witnesses in 1522 (W.76) may well be his sons. His wife’s name has not come down to us.

3)    James Halkett

4)    Henry Halkett

5)    William Halkett, who marraid Mary Haliburton of Pitcur, note below.

Note: - The Lyon Genealogies 11/40 mention William Halkett of Pitfirrane who married Mary Haliburton of Pitcur. His son John Halkett married Agnes, daughter of Lord Sinclair of Dysart (d. 1615) and their son Nicholas or Nicol was chamberlain to his grandfather at Dysart.  He died 1608.  His son John was a Bailie of Dysart who married Catrin Cay, daughter of Alexander Cay, merchant and Bailie of Kinghorn.  This line ended in a daughter Margaret who married a Duncan Campbell. 


JOHN HALKETT (sometimes written as Halket), took sasine of all his father's lands, including Craigton (held from John Mailvyne of Cambee).  From a Manuscript fragment in the Pitfirrane papers in the National Library of Scotland, it states that John married Elizabeth Stewart, daughter of Stewart of Rosyth.   This statement is also repeated in the Halket Genealogies in the Lyon Court Office that does not mention Elizabeth Ayton; but it is expressly states in the Pitfirrane Papers that John's son Patrick was the son of Elizabeth Ayton.  His first wife must, therefore, have died prior to 1512. 

By her marriage contract Elizabeth Ayton received Auchtertyre, and Balcraig, which she dispensed to Robert Mercer in Meiklour in 1524. Though the Halketts retain the superiority for the better part of the century, they do not appear to have occupied the land. 

   Elizabeth Ayton, daughter of Andrew Ayton, former Governor of Stirling Castle, and Master of Works to James IV, killed with his king at Flodden. This Andrew was the ancestor of the Aytons of Dunmure or Ayton in Fife. Elizabeth was the widow of Henry Bothwell of Urquhart near Pitfirrane and had two children by her first marriage, David and Elizabeth, for whom provision is made.   We can see that the Halketts were recognised as worthy members of the nobility.  If John had been present at the battle at Flodden he survived.  Elizabeth was the widow of Henry Bothwell of Urquhart, one of an old Dunfermline family, which gave its name to Bothwell Haugh at the Spittal Bridge, and whose most outstanding representative had been David de Bothwell, Abbot of Dunfermline at the end of the 15th century.  On the abbot's death his brother had founded an altar to St Mary in the nave of the abbey, giving a grant of lands, known as the Guildelands lying to the south of the Nethertown, which eventually became incorporated in the barony of Hill.  The altar seems to be represented by the base of the Rood altar at the east end of the nave of the Abbey Church.   

      John’s son, Patrick Halkett, is infefted with the third of Pitfirrane including the mansion in 1532 and is associated with his father in a tack of 18th November 1524 of the adjoining lands of Knockhouse, with its coals and coal heughs, is first mentioned in connection with the family with coal mining. This became the main sources of the family’s income for four centuries.  It is also, so far as I am aware, the first record of coal mining in this district since the grant to the monks of the Abbey of the right to mine coal in Pittencrieff Glen in 1291. John Halkett was largely concerned with the affairs of Dunfermline, being Provost for at least ten of the years between 1518 and 1547, as well as acting as Bailie of the Regality. 

   John Halkett was over sixty years of age when he met his death in the defence of Scotland, being killed at the Battle of Fawside or Pinkie in September 1547 and was succeeded by his eldest son  - 

1)    Patrick Halkett, Bailie of the Regality Court in 1548 and Provost of Dunfermline from 1549 -1553. 

2)    Elizabeth Halkett, she married Patrick Howburn, son and heir of Andrew Howburn of Tullibole.




Duke of Somerset (formerly Earl of Hertford) defeated Scots under Earl of Arran. 

John Halkett, Provost of Dunfermline 1518 to 1547, Bailie of the Regality Court met his death in the defence of Scotland, being killed at the Battle of Fawside or Pinkie in September 1547.  He was succeeded by his eldest son Patrick Halkett. who was Bailie of the Regality Court in 1548 and Provost of Dunfermline from 1549 -1553. 


PATRICK HALKETT (Sometimes written as Halkheid), despite a holograph will of 1542 he is stated to have died intestate and procurators had to be appointed to take inventory so that Patrick’s actual succession was delayed. He was already married (before 1544) to Margaret, daughter of William Ogilive of Balfour and secondly, but there appears to have been no issue of this marriage to Anna Durie, daughter of Sir James Durie of Durie, near Leven, the family of the last abbot of Dunfermline, and whether from that connection or not he benefited from being on good terms with Robert Richardson, the Commendator of the Abbey lands.  It had become the practice in the later days of the Medieval Church to hand over the administration of church lands to a lay man or Commendator for an annual rental, and he could feu off these lands for his own benefit or the benefit of the crown.  

  Thus, even prior to the Reformation of 1560, Patrick acquired the remaining third of Pitfirrane as well as shorter term leases of Pitliver and Broadleys, and had further interest in Pitconnochie.   

  Patrick seems to have been on good terms with the Commendator of Dunfermline. Robert Richardson, who had been given the permission to feu off the Abbey lands, for we find that in 1559 Patrick receives a feu of the lands of Primrose, Knockhouse and Pitfirrane (i.e., the Abbey third). There is also a tack of 1566 of Pitliver and Braidleys to a Katherine Halkett. This gave rise to a lawsuit to decide the rightful possessor as Patrick had apparently some claim, having had a lease as early as 1553. From this we learn of the existence of David Adam Halkett, killed at Flodden, who had married a Helen Mason and had possession of Pitliver. Henry, his son, had allowed his mother to retain the lands along with his sister Katherine when the lease was renewed. Henry, with Patrick of Pitfirrane intervening was now suing Katherine and her husband Charles Danielson, for possession. Katherine was allowed to retain possession for a time, but the lands passed to Pitfirrane shortly afterwards.

   Patrick was associated with his father in a lease of Knockhouse, wherein mention is made of the coal deposits.  This is the first mention of coal mining in the Dunfermline are since 1291, though from later sources it is obvious tht the coal deposits were being exploited before 1542, the date of this lease.  Coal was to play a major part in the finances of the Halkett family, a connection which was to last down into the early 20th century.  We to know that the monks of Dunfermline had the right to mine in Pittencrieff since 1291 and it is likely that they would seek further supplies from elsewhere on their lands. All the mines would be surface mines, or at most very shallow pits, but the extent to which Pitfirrane developed the coal on their lands is show on by the grant by Mary Queen of Scots of a monopoly of exporting smithy coal, a monopoly which was in force until 1788 when it was purchased from the Halketts for a sum amounting to £40,000. The coal would be exported from Limekilns, where the Halketts developed salt pans as well as shipping facilities, though the latter would be dependent on loading from small boats. The whole area was well explored and developed.  Much of the land around Cairneyhill and Crossford was undrained and marshy.  In fact the shallow loch existed near Keavil and Logie which accounted for the name Crossford, and Pitfirrane itself may well have had a marsh as part of its defences in its early days. 

 These lands around Pitfirrane were all valuable for the surface seams of coal, now coming to be worked as a regular industry. It is not clear whether the Pitfirrane family had the full right to work the coal on lands other than from Pitfirrane, for the tack of Knockhouse may have expired, as we find that in 1560 George, Commendator of Dunfermline, grants Patrick a gift of the ninth load from that holding.  Later, the Halketts of Pitfirrane had obtained a Charter in 1814 to export coal free of customs . This was renewed on 2 July 1865. 

   Ballingall is still held in superiority, though in possession of Robert Porterfield, son of Henry Poterfield, while Lumphinnans is held from Wardlaw of Torrie. Half of Pitconnochie is secured from Alan Cowtis, Chamberlain to the Abbey of Dunfermline, and burgess of that town, and is disponed to him again in 1569 and 1576. Patrick also retained the intimate connection with Dunfermline by being Provost from 1549 to 1553 and was also Bailie of the Regality of the Abbey in 1548. 

   Patrick was succeeded in July 1573 by his son, George, who was absent at his father’s death and was represented by his sister Margaret. 

Issue - 

1)    George Halkett, who succeeded.

2)    Margaret Halkett, who was married John Houston of Lanye in Renfrew.


GEORGE HALKET,  of Pitfirrane, he succeeded his father in 1573.   He was an officer in the Scots Brigade in Holland and led a rather adventuresome life.  In 1575, under the direction of Prince of the House of Orange in England, he bought weapons. A few years later he became a Colonel of a Regiment of Scots in the service of the States (Dutch Alliance and its extended war against he French).    

   He does not appear to have married until 12 July 1575 when he married Isabel, daughter of Sir Patrick Hepburn of Waughton, and Margaret Lundy, daughter of William Lundy of that Ilk.  

   George Halkett of Pitfirrane was undoubtedly a supporter of Regent Morton and later the King in the tortuous dealings with rebellious factions in Kirk and state.

   In 1579 he becomes cautioner for 1000 merks for James Hamilton of Ruchbak for being implicated in the charges brought against Lord John Hamilton and Lord Claud Hamilton, brothers of the Earl of Arran, when Regent Morton struck at the power of that family and attends the King at court and in his host on several occasions.    

     He was ordered to fortify the castle of Rosyth and retain all boats on the North side of the Forth in 1585 at a time when James was struggling to master a rebellious Kirk, striving to exempt itself from the King’s authority. As Provost of Dunfermline he was ordered on 18th November 1585 to prevent a meeting in Dunfermline of ministers and the nobles who had returned from England where they had received encouragement from Elizabeth to continue their efforts to reduce James’ power. The story from the point of view of the King is told in Melville’s Diary as quoted by Chalmers (Vol. II p.300): “About the end of November 1585 warning was made according to the order of the Kirk the last Moderator athwart the country to the brethren to convene in General Assembly….at Dunfermline,  no other town being free of the pest. The brethren frequently ‘frequentlie furth’ of all parts resorting thither, the parts of the town was closit upon them by the provost for the time. The Laird of Pitfirrane, alleging that he had the King’s express command so to do…. But God within a few years paid that laird and provost for the holding out of his 

servants for keeping his Assembly in that town, he made his own house to spew him out. For on a day in the morning he was fallen out of a window of his own house of Pitfirrane, three or four house high, whether by a melancholy despair, or by violence of unkind guests within. God knows, for being taken up, his speech was not so sensible as to declare it, but within a few hours he diet.” 

      So far as the estates are concerned we now have many more documents relating to the management of the lands, particularly to rents and produce and the use which the laird of the day made of them.  The chief importance of land was that it provided a security for mortgage to provide ready cash to pay for the expenses of attending the King's host and person, and the repayment of previous debts.  An examination of the charters show the high yield of land in this area, as well as the high rate of interest demanded. 

  In 1574 George Halket assigns an annual rate of 10 pounds from Pitfirrane to be redeemed by a payment of 218 merks: If this is the sum borrowed the interest is approximately 14 percent. In 1576 he redeems a payment of 12 bolls of meal and 4 bolls from the same lands for 332 merks. During the same period that land is further burdened with a 100 pound obligation to his sister, Margaret, who had been executrix at their father’s death during his absence.   There is still a further 6 bolls meal and 2 of bere on an old charter of his father. Other possessions were similarly burdened – 18 bolls oatmeal on Primrose as well as many other smaller burdens on practically all of his property.   

   Most of these were redeemed within a year or two, and he had sufficient money to acquire the lands of Craigies, adjoining Pitfirrane on the south in the barony of Rosyth, from Henry Stewart of Rosyth in 1587. Earlier he had secured a tack of teinds on his own lands from the Commendator of Dunfermline (W.209), and in addition the Overgrange of Kinghorn as a result of a complicated series of loans and obligations.  He had also secured lands in Dunfermline parish by the purchase of the mill and holdings of Burnmouth, in which his cousin George the Conservator had interests. George the Conservator was assisted in redeeming burdens on Burnmouth by George of Pitfirrane assigning an annual rent of £30 from Pitfirrane in security to his cousin John Houston of Lanye, from whom the money had been borrowed by the Conservator, and assigns an annual of £20 to the vendors, also from Pitfirrane. George the Conservator had acquired Burnmouth in security and assigned his rights to his cousin in 1586.  He had also acquired in 1575 the lands of Sillietoun Wester alias Halkett to the south of Pitfirrane, along with the eighth of the lands of South Fod from Robert Richardson the Commendator, later confirmed by a charter from James VI when he assumed personal rule (sold in 1604) to Sir Robert Melville of Garvock).  All these passed to the Pitfirrane family on the death of the Conservator in March 1588. 

   Apart from the sentiments so agreeably expressed this note does indicate that the extension to the house noted earlier was in occupation by 1590 at least.  Certainly at this time a considerable amount of ready cash was being raised by mortgaging portions of Pitfirrane, often to Dunfermline merchants, for this was the only way that land holders could raise money.   Sometimes they overdid it and ended up with their lands in the Halketts of the lawyers, but not so in the case of the Halketts.  Much of this was on account of the building of the extensions to the square keep which was already nearly two hundred years old, but the payments went on well into the middle of the 17th century, under George's son Robert, who was knighted, the first of the family to be so honoured. 

   A Renunciation said, Mr George Halkheid (Conservator) to George Halkett of Pitfirrane, assignee of John Stevenson of Burnmouth, of an annual-rent of £30 from lands of Burnmouth, 2nd September 1586. This George Halket, was in favour with James IV as Special Ambassador to Queen Elizabeth, and Traded with Spain. he died 1588. was married to Margaret Hepburn daughter of Sir John Hepburn of Dalry.  His Father was David Halkett of Broughton, Linlithgow married to Katherine Danielston of Pitliver. and David's Father was Henry Halkett of Pitliver, with a sister Katherine, who married Charles Danielston.  Their Father David Adam Halkett was killed at Flodden Field, mother Helen Mason. All descendants of William Halkett and Margaret Cunningham. 

   As we shall see later George the Conservator had interests in and around Dunfermline and acquired land there, which was inherited by Robert of Pitfirrane as heir of provision of George Halket Conservator of the privileges of the Scots at Flanders, in the lands of Sillietoun Wester called Halkheid Sillietoun and eighth part of the lands of Southfoid, 2nd June 1589.  

   The first  members of the family that were knighted, were two sons of George Halket, who lived in the reign of Queen Mary and King James V, and a younger son John was knighted by the same prince. George Halket of Pitfirrane and Isabel Hepburn had issue - 

1)    Sir Robert Halkett his heir (bapt. 2nd September 1576). His eldest son, Robert, received the honour to be knighted from King James VI., and a served her to his father in the lands of Pitfirrane, in 1595, m. 20 Jun 1595 Margaret Murray.

2)    Patrick Halkett (bapt. 28th July 1577) who got from his father  Lumphinnans having apparently been assigned that part of the family lands. He married Margaret, daughter of Sir John Murray of Blackbarony, and is the ancestor of the Halkets whose seat is Moxhall England. Patrick’s son, also Patrick married Isabel, daughter of Sir John Boswell of Balmuto, and had at least two sons, the second of whom George being designated 'of Parkhall' and was a merchant in Dysart, whose testament is recorded in the Edinburgh Commissariot Register.

3)    George Halkett (bapt. 13th July 1579) but nothing is known of him.

4)    Sir John Halkett (bapt. 13th November 1580) was knighted by James VI and attaching himself to a military life, he entered the service of the States of Holland, rose to the rank of a colonel, and had the command of a Scots regiment in the Dutch service. He was likewise President of the Grand Court Marishall, in Holland. He married a Dutch lady, Maria van Loon, his descendants in Holland  had a distinguished military service there and was the progenitor of the Halkets in Holland, as well as in the British Army in the 18th and 19th centuries.  Now represented by Charles Halkett the great-great grandson of Sir John Halkett married in 1767, Ann, daughter of and heiress of John Craigie of Halhill and Dumbarnie in Fife, and was the ancestor of the Halket-Craigie or  Craigie-Halkets of Dumbarney Cramond  and Hall-Hill Esquire, the former seat in   Perthshire, and the latter in Fifeshire.  John Halkett, was killed at he siege of   Bois-le-Due, Netherlands on 3 August 1629 at the age of 48.  He was buried at Huesden, Netherlands on 7 August 1629. 

5)    James Halkett bapt. 21 January 1581.

6)    Andrew Halkett (bapt 26th July 1584) disappears from the record, heleft half of the lands of Brotherton by his grandmother, and shared the legacy with James.

7)    William Halkett (bapt.13 February1585) of whom nothing more is known.

      1) Margaret Halkett, b. 15 May 1583, m. Mungo Murray from Craigie, son of Robert Murray from Abercairney and Catherine Murray from Tulliebardine. George of Pitfirrane died before 7th August 1588, and his widow Isabel Hepburn married at Holyrood on 7th June 1590 Sir William Stewart, Prior or Commendator of Pittenweem, formerly a Colonel in the Scots Brigade.   George was succeeded by his eldest son Robert Halkett -


SIR ROBERT HALKETT (sometimes written as Halket), baptized. 2nd September 1576 and died, 3 August 1653, aged 76). He married on 10th June 1595, Margaret Murray, eldest daughter of Sir John Murray of Eddleston and Margaret Hamilton of Innerwick, and had two sons and eight daughters of whom more later.      

  Robert Halkett was the first of the family definitely known to have been knighted in the latter half of 1602.  Robert was also Provost of Dunfermline from 1606 to 1608 and again 1630 to 1631. There was no great change in the extent of the family holdings although there was at first some difficulty with his mother over the retention of certain lands of her original marriage portion, but a settlement was reached by which she was to receive life rents in lieu of actual possession.  There also seem to have been a dispute over Pitliver, for in 1588 the Moubrays there, on the one hand, and Robert Halkett and his mother on the other hand, had to enter into caution not to molest or do bodily harm to the other parties. The family retained its interest in the Overgrange of Kinghorn, Lumphinnans and in Ballingall as late as 1597. 

  Whether knighthood or his father's court connections had induced a higher standard of expenditure or had involved greater commitments is not apparent, but the number of sasines and charters resulting from a widespread pledging of the lands as security for sums borrowed markedly increase at this time.  Knockhouse was pledged to William Murray, brother of Sir John, but was redeemed in 1606 when Sir Robert's mother resigned her interests in Pitfirrane,  and Pitconnochie.  £40 sterling was borrowed in 1609 from Andrew Hagget in St Martins in the Fields. 

   All did not go well however. In 1612 Sir Robert and his brother Patrick of Lumphinnans were summoned by John Bannatyne in Edinburgh for repayment of 1000 merks.  In 1633, 5000 merks were borrowed from Robert Wellwood in Touch who was infefted in Pitfirrane as security, with an annual interest of 500 merks a transaction not redeemed until 1643.  Half of Limekilns was disponed under reversion for £5284 Scots.  Other amounts reveal further the extent to which a landed proprietor made use of his lands to raise ready money to keep up the style fitting to his position. £444 (requiring legal action for repayment, a further 4200 merks from Robert Wellwood in 1638 on a bond involving Sir Robert's son and his wife.  1100 from Robert Aleson, mason in Dunfermline (who is in trouble during the Commonwealth (Wood 160/1) and a further sum bearing on interest of £106 per year (a principal of £1060) are further examples. Some may have been for a relatively short term (all the discharges have not survived) but some run on for several years. Despite his involved financial affairs Sir Robert had time in indulge in country sports, perhaps over-indulge, for in May 1602, James VI had to order him to "desist from haulking, slaying pouttis and partricks" for James often lived at Dunfermline and was inordinantly fond of hunting and liked sports. 

   Sir Robert played little part in the troubles of the Civil War, but his son James, also knighted was much more active.  Nothing has come to light regarding the activities of Sir Robert during the Covenant and the Bishop’s Wars, but by that time he was an elderly gentleman of 62. His son, James, was much more active in the cause, after all his wife was a niece of the great Marquess of Argyll, one of the foremost antagonists of the king.  

 Some of the sums borrowed may have been for expenses in support of the Kirk, but no evidence can be adduced. Nevertheless, Sir Robert added a little to the family possessions, buying for 3000 merks the lands of Mukil Meadow or New Meadow adjoining Pitfirrane (the farm of Meadows today) and the half of Limekilns, which though disponed were to remain under the superiority of Pitfirrane for some time.  

Sir Robert died c. 1653 and left a large family by his marriage with Margaret Murray -


1)    Anne Halkett, Annas, b. 9 Jan 1600, m. (1) Sir John Henderson of Fordell (who died by April 1619), with issue -

             1) Jean b. 5 Apr 1616,

             2) James bap 3 Feb 1618, Posthumous Military Career.

 m. (2) 26 Feb 1622 Thomas Myretoun of Cambo, who was killed at Kilsyth in 1645.

2)    Isobel Halkett, b. 17 Jul 1601, Dunfermline.

3)    Grizel Halkett, bapt. 19 Oct. 1602 who married Thomas Ker of Cavers in June 1641.

4)    James Halkett, b. 1 Jan 1605 who died in infancy.

5)    Sir James Halkett, b. 12 Aug 1610 who succeeded his father. d. 24 Sept 1670.

6)    Jean Halkett, bapt 4 Dec 1612 who married on 24 Aug 1647, William Scot

7)    Captain John Halkett, b. 27 Sept 1614 Dunfermline.

8)    Robert Halkett, bapt 9 Dec 1617 who married, 14 May 1652 at Torrie, Jean Hadden, daughter of Sir John Hadden of Gleneagles.  He also served in the Covenanting army being designated Captain of horse in Fife in 1650. Robert was much more extreme than his brother James (he had no estates to lose) and is among the Protestors of Remonstrants in the West under the command of the Colonel Strachan who had been Sir James' colleague in the North against Montrose.

9)    Margaret Halket,  bapt. 6 Aug 1619, m. Mungo Murray of Myreside near Pitfirrane at Ballingry in 1609. Mungo Murray was a Colonel of the Scots Regiment in Holland. He served under David Leslie in the Scots Army in England in 1643.

10)    Elspet Halket, bapt. 7 Feb 1620. m. James Gray by 1640.

11)    Patrick Halkett, whose son William Halkett, occurs in the St Andrews Testaments in 1699, but nothing further is known of him.


SIR JAMES HALKETT (sometimes written as Halket), the eldest son, born 12 August 1610, and died 24 September 1670, he had been knighted by Charles I, at Dalkeith 14 June 1633, and used the title throughout the time he fought against the King in the Civil War (1642-1651).  He was twice married (1) to Margaret Montgomerie,15th December 1682 (Edin. Marriage Register),  eldest daughter of Sir Robert Montgomerie of Lochranza and Skelmorlie, and  Lady Ann Campbell, daughter of Archibald 7th Earl of Argyll from this the Halkett family trace a connection upwards to King Robert the Bruce, By this marriage he had nine children to follow. 

   Sir James took an active part in the fighting on the side of the Presbyterians. His brother Robert was even more extreme, but narrowly escaping trial and possible execution for his activities against Cromwell, eventually settling down on lands in Argyllshire.  Sir James left the battlefield of Kilsyth rather smartly when the Presbyterians were defeated by Montrose, having to fight his way out with the Marquess, and later was courtmartialled but exhonerated for again leaving the battlefield of Dunbar in a hurry without lifting a hand against Cromwell.  He was one of the two officers who captured Montrose in the north of Scotland, and who took him to Edinburgh for execution. 

 The troublous times following the execution of Charles I, the Scottish military authorities, keenly alive to the importance of Inchgarvie in regard to the defence of the Ferry passage, were not satisfied with the condition of its fortifications; and steps were taken to have them put into a stage of proper repair.  Following the Report of a Committee, a scheme was approved by Parliament on June 19, 1650.  Sir James Halkett of Pitfirrane, General of Artillery, was appointed to see what as necessary for repairing the works. It was agreed tht the castle be garrisoned by two "rait" of men with a sergeant from the regiment of Major-General Holburne.

With the family connection of the first marriage, it is not surprising that we find Sir James taking an active part in the Civil War on the side of the Presbyterians. He raised and commanded an independent troop of horse, and was present at Kilsyth, his force having been joined with that of Lord Balcarres. He escaped with difficulty from that battle having to cut his way to safety. After the Battle of Philiphaugh, which saw the ruin of the hopes of Montrose, Sir James was sent by the Estates to announce the victory to the English deputies at Berwick. He also took part in the campaign in the north in 1650 that ended with the capture and execution of  Montrose. Later when Cromwell marched north to Dunbar, Sir James was summoned before a parliamentary inquiry, the equivalent of a court-martial, for having failed to support David Leslie in an attack on some of Cromwell’s forces in a skirmish near Edinburgh prior to the battle of Dunbar. As Balfour puts it “Sir James Halkett received a great fright at a skirmish with the enemy; he should have secondit the Lieutenant General but turned never lowsit a pistoll against the enemy, but took him to speed of his horse’ heels”. Sir James was however exonerated by the committee, though Balfour dryly says for 3rd August 1650 “Sir James Halkett and Colonel Scotte cleired by the committee, zet that did little saeve ther honor among honest men and soldiours of worth and reputation.” He was appointed guardian or cautioner for £10,000 pounds sterling for the behaviour of his cousin, Archibald Lord Lorne, who was confined in 1651 by Monk to a radius of 25 miles from Gordon castle, and in 1659 he lends his wife’s uncle, Archibald, 8th Earl of Argyll, £17,000 pounds Scots, so that the family finances must have been on a firm foundation. 

Although he signed the Submission of the Gentlemen of Fife at Amsterdam on 6th October 1651, he still retained the more extreme views shared by his brother Robert, though having estates to consider, was more politic. Yet that did not prevent him from being a signatory along with Samuel Rutherford and others to a letter to General Lambert in March 1653 which was referred to in a News letter of the time. The writer of the News letter says “You will perceive by it the drift of their intentions, which is to exalt their government and Kirk into their hands….to lett them have a liberty to 

tyrannize both over bodies and soules of the poore people under pretense of giving them liberty of conscience.”

He appears to have been deeply engaged with the covenanters in the reign of King Charles I. From this prince he received his knighthood at Dalkeith, 14th June 1633 he was member of Parliament for Fifeshire in 1649, and about the same period was employed to examine into the state of the fortification of Inch Garvey, a small island at Queensferry.  He became afterward colonel of a regiment of horse, and died in 1670. With the family connection of the first marriage, it is not surprising that we find Sir James taking an active part in the Civil War on the side of the Presbyterians.

After the Battle of Philiphaugh, which saw the ruin of the hopes of Montrose, Sir James was sent by the Estates to announce the victory to the English deputies at Berwick. He also took part in the campaign in the north in 1650 that ended with the capture and execution of Montrose.

Issue from first marriage - 

1)    Mary Halkett, bapt. 7 September 1633, m. Sir William Bruce of Balcaskie & Kinross

2)    Charles Halkett,  bapt. 5 September 1639, who succeeded him.

3)    Col. Robert Halkett (sometimes written Halkeid), bapt. 7 November 1640, m. Helen Scott, widow of Alexander Spittal, and was designated Colonel in a bond of 1690.

4)    Sir James Halkett, bapt. 13 July 1642, later Knighted.

5)    Margaret Halkett, bapt. 18 July 1643.

6)    Thomas Halkett, bapt. 1 October 1646.

7)    Anna Halkett, bapt. 29 July 1647.

8)    John Halkett, bapt. 25 February 1649.

9)    Jean Halkett, bapt. 10 October 1650, m. 15 Dec 1682, John  Scott, younger of Headshaw.

 Sir James Halkett married secondly at Holyrood in 1656 Anne Murray, it is noted the marriage took places at Anne's sister's house in Charlton, England on 2 March 1656, after, the couple returns to Sir James estate at Pitfirrane. Anne was  b. 4 Jan 1622 London, d. 22 Apr 1699, Abbot House, daughter of Thomas Murray, Provost of Eton and preceptor to King Charles I, and who was one of the seven sons of Murray of Woodend and Jane Drummond.  Her father claimed the honour of being descended from the Earl of Tullibardine's family, and her mother Jane Drummond, from the Earl of Perth's.  But her family descent, or marriage relation, was her least distinction.  She was a lady of great natural gifts, which she had diligently cultivated, and of decided religious and moral character.  She was born in 1622, and, through her father's connection with royalty, was soon known at Court, where she was held in high esteem for her talents, prudence, amiableness, and benevolence, as well as strong attachment to the royal family, to whom she made herself very serviceable.  She was appointed by King Charles I, and his Queen first sub-governess, and afterwards, on the death of the Countess of Roxburgh, governess to the Duke of Gloucester and the Princess Elizabeth.  Immediately after the death of Charles I, she found it prudent to retire for a while from court to Scotland, and resided for some time in this town with the Earl and 

Countess of Dunfermline, who always paid her great attention.  It is said that while here, Charles II, having returned to his ancient kingdom, she had the honour of kissing his hand, being complimented by him for the service which she had rendered to his brother, and being told that if ever he came to  command what he had a right to, there should be nothing in his power he would not do for her.  To which (humbly kneeling) she replied that she had done nothing but her duty, and had recompense enough, if his Majesty accepted of it as a service, and allowed her his favour. 

Shortly after this period, and the fatal battle of Dunbar, which caused her and the Earl's family to leave Dunfermline, she became acquainted at Edinburgh in 1652, with Sir James Halket, to whom she was marrid in 1656.  He died in 1670, and she in 1699, during most of the 28 years of her widowhood, she resided in a house in the Maygate, having a communication with the churchyard the easy access of which she much enjoyed. Their matrimonial life was mutually happy. She experienced many changes of fortune in the troublous reign of Charles I, which she bore with Christian fortitude and resignation. Her scriptural knowledge and piety, as well as uncommon activity of mind, were her prominent excellencies, of which she has left substantial evidence in some writings still extant, particularly.  "Meditations on the 25th Psalm; Meditations and Payers upon the First Week, with Observations on each day of the Creation, and Instructions for Youth."; with a Memoir, containing many interesting and pleasing incidents of her life.  She wrote 5 books in folio, 15 in quarto, and 1 in octave, all of a religious and spiritual nature.  Some of her MSS are still at Pitfirrane.


Issue by second marriage - 

1)    Elizabeth Halkett, bapt 4 Dec 1656, in the Torrie Kirk,  m. 1 Dec 1672, Alexander Gemmel.

2)    Henry (Harry) Halkett, bap. June 1658, died 12 May 1661.

3)    Robert Halkett, bapt. 10 Feb 1660, A Captain served under James II in Ireland, d. 1692.

4)    Jean Halkett, b. 1670.

Robert - Collector of Benfices
Philip - First of Pitfirrane
David - Second Laird
James - Third Laird
William Halket - Fourth Laird
The Battle of Flodden
David Adam Halkett
Henry Halkett - Fifth Laird
John Halkett - Sixth Laird
Battle of Fawside
Patrick Halkett - Seveth Laird
George Halkett - Eighth Laird
Sir Robert - Ninth Laird (1576 - 1653)
Sir James Halkett Tenth Laird - (1610 - 1670)

 Sir James died on 24th September, 1670,  His son by his first marriage, Charles Halkett, took over the Pitfirrane estate.  Because Charles did not get along with his stepmother he sent Lady Ann Halkett to live with her brother in Dunfermline.  Lady Anne lived her last 28 years in the old house once call the Commendator's, now known as the Abbot House .  It was in Abbot House where Lady Anne wrote a score of books on religious meditations.  She died on 22 April 1699 at age 77.  Her adult life covered a span of years, that covered all the troubled history of England and Scotland, during the reigns of James VI and I, of England, Charles I, Cromwell, Charles II, James VII, William and Mary, with all the trials and troubles of religious persecutions.  But maybe, secure in the shelter of the old stone house, she was only interested in the writing of her pious reflections, looking out the window at the Abbey and graveyard where in the end she would be buried.  She experienced many changes of fortune in the troublesome reign of Charles I, which she bore with Christian fortitude and resignation. Sir James was succeeded by his eldest son. 




One of the most remarkable occupants of Abbot House, Dunfermline, was Anne Murray, Lady Halkett.   

Born 1623 in London, she was the younger daughter of Thomas Murray, Provost of Eton College, tutor and later Secretary to King Charles I.  Thomas Murray died in 1623.  Her mother, Jane Drummond, was Governess to the Duke of Gloucester and later also to the Princess Elizabeth.  Young Anne and her brother William were servants to the Royal Bedchamber and despite lacking conspicuous wealth were in day to day contact not only with the Royal Family but also most of the nobility. 

   Anne and her elder sister Elizabeth were educated by private tutors who taught them to read and write English and French, embroidery, music (the Lute and Virginalls) and dancing, all attainments required as basic to the future marital prospects of a young gentlewoman of the court.   Anne, however, had a singularly unfashionable interest in medicine, drugs and surgery, she was an enthusiastic if unofficial student of Sir Theodore Ryeans, the chief surgeon to the King. 

   At the age of 19, she fell in love with Thomas Howard, eldest son and heir of Lord Howard of Escrick.  After an on off engagement lasting two years, she was abandoned by him in favour of a titled rival, Lady Elizabeth Mordaunt.  In 1647 on the death of her mother she resided with her oldest brother Henry and his wife for about a year. In 1648 she became deeply involved in a plot by the royalist secret agent Colonel Joseph Bampfield to effect the escape of the Duke of York, (the future James VII) from the clutches of his Cromwellian guard at St James Palace.  Dressing him in women’s clothes, Anne and Bampfield succeeded in smuggling him out of the country to France.  Impressed by Bampfield’s dashing appearance and apparent devotion to the Royal Family, she was tricked by him into a bigamous relationship, and being exposed for her part in the Duke’s rescue was compelled to flee penniless to Scotland in 1650. 

   Once in Edinburgh, her Murray relations and members of the leading Royalists families befriended her.  Among these was Lord Dunfermline who invited her to Aberdour and Dunfermline.  Here she was introduced to King Charles II who had to be reminded of her role in the rescue of his brother. 

   Following the defeat of the Royal Forces at the Battle of Dunbar in 1650, Anne joined the enforced exodus north to Aberdeen.  While on the road she stopped at Cupar to treat the horrendous wounds of the walking wounded.  Her resolute courage in such a situation was again reported to the King at Aberdeen who ordered a gift of 50 guineas from the Royal Purse in recognition of her bravery. 

   During a two-year stay with the Countess of Dunfermline at Fyvie Castle she again demonstrated her force of character by protecting her pregnant benefactor from the ravages of a marauding troop of Cromwellian Dragoons.  She returned to Edinburgh in 1652 where she was introduced to Sir James Halkett, a widower with two sons and two daughters.  Sir James was deeply impressed by the beauty and by now legendary courage of this Royalist heroine, a legend further enhanced by her dangerous night crossing of the Forth to warn the royalist Lord Balcarres and his wife of their impending arrest, thereby enabling their escape to France.  In 1656, having finally shaken off the persistent and unscrupulous Bampfield, Anne married 2nd March 1656, Sir James and at the age of 33 and became Lady Anne Halkett of Pitfirrane.  Her daughter Elizabeth was born 1656, son Henry born 1658 and son Robert was born 1661, the only one of her children to survive infancy. 

Her inability to reclaim her former property in England and the persistence of salacious scandal-mongering regarding her premarital affair with Bampfield combined with her role as stepmother to the Laird’s first family made life very difficult for her.  After the Death of Sir James in 1670, her ambitious stepson Sir Charles Halkett of Pitfirrane made it quite clear that in spite of the generous scale of Pitfirrane House the continued presence of the 47-year-old dowager under his house would be an embarrassment.  Sir Charles Halkett was created a baronet in 1671. 

 Once again it was her old friends the Setons and their in-law the Marquis of Tweeddale, now in possession of the Lordship of Dunfermline, who came to the rescue by offering the vacant Abbot House to the widow as a dower house.  As her surviving memoirs amply demonstrate, Lady Halkett was a very religious woman, haunted by her past indiscretions and viewed her enforced residence in the Maygate as something akin to a free trip to Sodom and Gomorra.  It was she rationalised, clearly to be a test of her morality and spirituality, and since she was compelled to go there that she would steel her courage and devote what was left of her life to the remembrance of her beloved husband and to the furtherance of good works.  She was to be as good as her word – during the 30 years between her arrival at Abbot House and her death, Lady Anne Halkett acquired a widespread reputation as a teacher, midwife, herbalist and provider of charity and good works.  Every Wednesday she ran a free soup kitchen and medical service for the poor of Dunfermline, while Saturday was devoted to prayer and remembrance of her dead husband and children. 

    Despite her misgivings concerning the infidelity of Charles II and the irresolution of James VII, she remained an unrepentant royalist and Episcopalian, thereby providing a further source of embarrassment to her stepson, Sir Charles Halkett.  In the war of 1690 (Battle of the Boyne) he fought on the side of the House of Orange. Sir Charles Halkett died in 1697.  Anne’s own son by Sir James Halkett, Robert Halkett, came out for King James.  Captain Robert Halket served under James II, in Ireland, captured and imprisoned in London until he died in 1692.  It was this stalwart support of the Stewart cause and her earlier bravery, which singled Lady Halkett out as the ideal governess for the children of the beleaguered Jacobite aristocracy.  

    Throughout the 1680s and 90s, the Abbot House rang with the sounds of children as Lady Anne eked out an often precarious living as tutor and guardian to a succession of aristocratic boarders who, together with their servants and Governors (a combination of manservant and monitor) filled its 12 rooms to capacity.  It is clear that despite the patronage of Sir William Bruce, the King’s Architect, Sir George MacKenzie, Lord Advocate and many others, the Halkett family continued to disapprove of Lady Anne’s educational and charitable endeavours.  Sir Charles Halkett, in spite of his debt to her for running his coal mines during his wartime absences, made no effort to assist her in the 30 years of struggle to clear her debts, and by withholding her annuity quite often exacerbated her troubles.  Often she despaired of ever being rid of her burdens and in one moment of despair, resolved to sell off her surviving property, abandon her charitable works and retire to live anonymously in England.  By this time her furniture, although no doubt derived from Pitfirrane and therefore of good quality, was old and unfashionable and an attempt to sell some of it in Edinburgh proved a disaster when it was returned to her unsold.  Finally, in 1698 she struck up a deal with Sir Robert Murray, a relative who in return for the signing over of all her property including her still un-reclaimed lands in England, agreed to settle all of her debts.  She died in Abbot House on 22 April 1699 at the age of 76.  To the very end she had continued to maintain a vigorous lifestyle, attending ordinary and aristocratic patients with her own herbal meditations which have preserved a vivid, albeit fragmentary account of her long and extraordinary life.


SIR CHARLES HALKETT, the eldest son, was born at Pitfirrane on 6th Sep 1639 and entered Military Service in the 21st Dragoons.  There is a Marriage Contract of 5th August 1675, to Janet, eldest daughter of Sir Patrick Murray of Dryden, Knight, also designated as of Pitdinnie and Saltcoats.  By this marriage, he had seven children to follow. 

Sir Charles received a patent of baronetcy of Nova Scotia on 25th January in 1672 and in 1677 received a charter into a barony, as well as ratified by Parliament in 1681, erecting Pitfirrane into a barony as well as referring to a holding of Nether Kelso in the Sheriffdom of Ayr.  The Barony gave him the right to hold a court and to erect markets, though there is no indication that Crossford or Cairniehill ever had the privileges of either weekly market or annual fair.  They were too near Dunfermline to infringe on their ancient rights.  He was M.P. in 1681-2 and Provost of Dunfermline 1678 and Burgess. He also acquired the neighbouring property of Pitdennis, the modern Pitdinnie  which he feued to his father-in-law, his wife and his son James.  The development of his coal seams continued n the possession of the convenient neighbouring port of Limekilns was assured by confirmation of his half from John, Earl of Tweeddale in 1684 which were resigned by him in 1686. (W.662)  The family tradition was that the family had from an early date the privilege of exporting coal free of duty, a right confirmed to it by Queen Anne in 1706 and ratified by Parliament the following year.  No mention of this grant appears in he records except that in 1565, Mary Queen of Scots grants licence to Patrick Hakket of Pitfirrane and others to sell and export the smithy coals from Knockhouse and Crombie. 

 When the Crown bought back the privilege in 1788 the sum of £40,000 was paid. It was to facilitate this trade that Sir Charles built a pier at Limekilns in 1676.  His business activities extended further than Dunfermline, for in 1675 he was admitted Burgess and Guild Brother of Edinburgh line.  In addition he as the Member of Parliament at the Revolution, raising a troop of Fife horse against Claverhouse.  

He was a member of the committee of convention formed by the Scottish Parliament at the Revolution, being then Burges (The committee consisted of nine out of each of the three estates , Nobility, Knights of shires, and Burgesses.) for Dunfermline, and also, in 1689, as one of the Commissioners appointed to treat regarding the Union with England.  He was one of those patriotic characters who opposed Dundee, in his attempt to support the cause of James VIII, a professed Papist, by putting himself at the head of his friends in Fife, Kinross &c.   

Sir Charles died in 1699 and was succeeded by his only son James, who appears to have been in such obviously bad heath that immediate steps were taken to ensure the succession. In 1700 his eldest sister Janet Halkett, secured the possession of Limekilns from the Earl of Tweeddale, and her husband assumed the name of Halkett in virtue of his wife being heiress presumptive.  From this we must assume that all the male descendants in the succession had died, unless the collateral lines could not succeed until the failure of the issue of Sir Charles (the patient of baronetcy specifies only heir not just male heirs).   

1)    Sir James Halket, b. 12 Dec 1680 and d. 1779 “non compos mentis” d.s.p.

2)    Dame Janet Halket, b. 14 Apr 1676, m. 13 Jul 1694 Sir Peter Wedderburn of Gosford, who changed his name to Halket.  Morel later -

3)    Elizabeth Halkett, Authoress, b. 15 Apr 1677, m. 13 Jun 1696, Sir Henry Wardlaw of Pitreavie, she d. in 1727 Dunfermline.

4)    Mary Halkett, b. 24 Apr 1678, married Robert Murray, Earl of Dunmore.

5)    Anna Halkett, b. 21 Oct 1670, married 1) David Drummond of Culmalundie and

2)    Col James Cathcart of Carbiestoun.

6)    Margaret Halkett, b. 29 Apr 1662, m. 16 Feb 1710, Sir John Erskine of Balgonie, with issue.  (Stephens Hist. p. 29)

7)    Barbara Halkett, b. 14 Feb 1684, d. 11 Mar 1749, unmarried.

8)    Charlotte Halkett, married Sir John Hope-Bruce of Kinross.


SIR JAMES HALKET, only son of Sir Charles and Janet Murray, b. 12 Dec 1680, appears to have been in such obviously bad health that immediate steps were taken to ensure the succession.  In 1700 his eldest sister Janet secured the possession of Limekilns from the Earl of Tweeddale, and her husband Sir Peter Wedderburn assumed the name of Halkett in virtue of his wife being heiress presumptive.  From this we must assume that all the male descendants in the succession had died, unless he collateral lines could not succeed until the failure of the issue of Sir Charles (the patent of baronetcy specifies only heirs not just male heirs).   

 Sir James died in 1705 and Sir Peter Wedderburn-Halkett became Sir Peter Halkett of Pitfirrane, resigning Gosford to his younger son stipulating that the two baronies must ever remain separate.   

 Sir James had made generous gifts to the city of Dunfermline.  One was a foot mantle for the Provost to wear at the riding of Parliament; the city had a special cupboard made to store it when not in use.  For his generosity the city of Dunfermline discharged him from the payment of various annual rents paid by him to the city, both present and past. 

   Sad to relate the Provost, Sir James Halkett of Pitfirrane, died as a result of a fall from his horse only a few months later in 1705, d.s.p..  There is some speculation that Sir James's death occurred while he was riding a horse around the Pitfirrane estate.  At some point he caught his wig a low-hanging branch that pulled him off his horse backwards and killed him. 

   As a result of Sir James death the Baronetcy became extinct.  James had six sisters. Janet the eldest succeeded to the estates.  She was married to Sir Peter Wedderburn of Gosford who had been created a Baronet in 1697and assumed the name of Halkett.. He was the eldest son of Sir Peter Wedderburn, a Lord of Session under the title of Gosford.  As a consequence of Peter's marriage to Janet Halkett he, and his descendants inheriting Pitfirrane, were obliged to take the Arms and  name of the Pitfirrane family. 

















SIR PETER HALKETT, born in Dunfermline in 1659 and died in 1746 at the age of 85.  His remains are interred in the family's Middle Crypt - Nave, of Dunfermline Abbey. Sir Peter succeeded Gosford, along with its title earlier, Peter had matriculated at St. Andrews University in 1675 and later served as Lieutenant in the Earl of Dumbarton's Regiment (26th March 1686), becoming a Captain of Grenadiers in the same Regiment in 1688. He appears to have left the army on succeeding his brother and entered Parliament, being a Commissioner of Supply in 1690, and was created baronet of Nova Scotia in 1697.  

Sir Peter Wedderburn had married 13 July 1694, JANET HALKETT, at Dunfermline.  When Sir James Halket her brother died in 1705, there were no surviving male descendants.  By virtue of his wife being the eldest surviving daughter Sir Peter Wedderburn assumed the  name of Halkett of Pitfirrane, entering the estate formally on 26th October 1705.  The entail already mentioned, which was thereupon executed upon Sir Peter and his wife, settled the estate of Pitfirrane on their eldest son 

and that of Gosford on the second son. It provided that if ever the two estates should devolve on the same person, he should immediately divest himself of Gosford in favor of a younger branch of the family. This was supplemented by a later one in 1751, and led to a costly lawsuit. (A. Dec.1706, Reg. Book of Council 1st May 1763, B.W. II 376). The baronetcy remained in the Pitfirrane branch. 

  In 1705 Sir Peter Halkett, seems to have gotten in trouble.  The magistrates and the town of Dunfermline were bitterly opposed to the Union of Parliament between England and Scotland.  They commissioned Sir Peter, who was their Parliamentary representative to `vote and protest the Union.`  They received assurance from Sir Peter that he would do as requested but when the time came he presented the address from the town council, and then voted for the Union!  This inconsistency roused a great deal of criticism and ill will against him and it is said, he had to avoid Dunfermline for some later time thereafter.  But he must have had a winning way for he was elected Provost of the town for he next twenty seven years (1705-1731).    

The Union question had long been a vexed one in the county and the general opinion was that a great deal of corruption and bribery went on behind the scenes.  In Scotland thirty-three burghs voted for the Union and twenty-nine against it.  No doubt it is a coincidences that the Queen and the Union Parliament in London renewed the privilege held by the Halkett family to export coal abroad, just before the Union became an established fact.      

Sir Peter and Janet Halkett had seven sons and five daughters. 

1)    Peter, b. 21 Jun 1705, succeeded to Pitfirrane. Killed with his son James at Fort Dequesne.

2)    Charles Wedderburn who succeeded to Gosford, and married Mary, daughter of Sir Harry Wardlaw of Pitreavie and Elizabeth Halkett, sister of Janet Halkett. Charles and Mary had ten children five sons and  5 daughters.

      1)    John Wedderburn Halkett, their eldest son succeeded to Pitfirrane more later.*

      2)    Henry Halkett, succeeded to Gosford when John succeeded to Pitfirrane.

      3)    Peter Halkett, b. Nov 1722, served in the Dutch Military Service, d. 1757.

      4)    Charles Halkett, he was an Ensign and died in the Black Hole of Calcutta in 1757.

3)    James, died young.

4)    James (bapt. 26th July 1705) died in South Carolina before 1754.

5)    Alexander (12th December 1706) who acquired the estate of St. Germains, near Tranent, in November 1750 and which he disponed  to John Wedderburn-Halkett in 1778 to relieve  himself of debt, and which remained in trust for his wife and family until 1782 when it was sold.

6)    John (1708) probably died young.

7)    Robert (bapt. 10th December 1709) who was a merchant in Dunfermline and died in 1748.   He had married Rachel, daughter of John Anstruther-Thomson of Charlton in Fife, and left two daughters -

       1)    Rachel, who died unmarried,

       2)    Janet who married at Toryburn Fife, on 21st April 1783, George Bruce of Langlees near Melrose. The daughters were -

              1)    Janet (bapt. 21st May 1700) who married Robert Coville of Ochiltree

(Contract 23rd April 1729).

              2)    Agnes (bapt. 25th September 1701) died unmarried.

              3)    Christian (bapt, 20th January 1703) married James Carstairs, born about  1680 and died on 6  August 1768 age 88, eldest son of Sir John Carstairs  of Kilconquhar, who succeeded to the estates and name of Bruce of   Kinross on the death of  his mother  (Contract 31st December 1724). 

              4) Elizabeth (1704) died young.

8)    Janet b. 12 May 1700, m. Robert Colville of Ochiltree.

9)    Agnes, b. 25 Sep 1701, died unmarried.

10)    Christian, b. 20 Jan 1703, m. 31 Dec 1724, James Carstairs, son of Sir John Carstairs of  Kilconquhar.

11)    Elizabeth, b. 1704, died a child.

Note -   Janet Halkett, their mother, died in 1713. 























SIR PETER HALKET, of Pitfirrane, 2nd Baronet of Gosford, the eldest son of Sir Peter Halkett, was born 21 Jun 1695 and succeeded his father in 1746 as the 1st Baronet of Pitfirrane. He was Provost from 1752-1755. M.P. for Dunfermline in 1734 and for Inverkeithing in 1739. but made the army his career:  Sir Peter was killed on 9th July 1755 in the French-Indian War at age 50. 

 The younger Sir Peter was a man of great honour and merit.  He was a Member of Parliament for the burgh of Dunfermline, in 1734 and for Inverkeithing in 1739 but made the army his career and was a distinguished military officer.  Sir Peter was Provost of the City of Dunfermline (1752-1755) - one of ten Halkets of Pitfirrane to serve as Provost.    

His military career is as follows; Major, Scots Fusileers 1739, Lt. Colonel 1741, of Houghton’s Regiment and then of Lee’s Regiment, at the Battle of Gladsmuir (1745), where Sir John Cope was defeated in 1745.  In 1751 he became a Colonel I that Regiment.  Earlier in his career he was captured by he Chevalier's forces at Prestonpans (1745), and with other offers given parole on assurance tht the officer would not engage further against the Highland forces.  It is said that the Duke of Cumberland ordered them to disregard their parole on pain of loosing their commissions.  Sir Peter Halkett is recorded as having refused to do so saying, on behalf of five of his fellow officers, tht Cumberland might be the master of their commissions, but not of their probity and honour. The Government subsequently upheld the officers. 

  Colonel Sir Peter sailed from Cork in January 1754 and arrived at Alexandria, Virginia (in the Colonies) in command of the British 44th - Foot Regiment under he command of Major General Edward Braddock.  Sir Peter acquitted himself there with bravery and good conduct.  He was second-in-command, along with George Washington, in a picked column of General Braddock's forces fighting the French and the Indian War (750-1760) in North America.  During the ill-fated expedition Sir Peter, in command of the 44th Foot Regiment, was killed on July 9 1755, along with his youngest son James, a lieutenant in the same regiment and a youth of noble spirit. The sad event happened in a French-Indian attack against the British forces along the Monongahela Rive near Fort Duquesne.  Braddock was also mortally wounded in the skirmish.  Sir Peter's son Capt Francis Halkett, and George Washington survived the ambush. 

 Young George Washington was one of the principal actors in the dramatic struggle for Fort Dequesne.  In 1773 as a young 21 year-old Major Washington had unsuccessfully attempted to have the French "peacefully" relinquish the Fort to the British.  In 1755 Lt Colonel Washington was on General Braddock's staff, as the Captain Francis Halkett, in the campaign to capture Fort Dequesne.  Both escaped the massacre.  Later George Washington became the first president of the United Sates. 

   In 1758 Sir Peter's son Francis, then a Major and Aide de Camp to General Forbes, participated in the British expedition that captured Fort Duquesne.  It was renamed Fort Pitt after then British Prime Minister William Pitt.  The fort gave he name to the town that spring up around it - Pittsburgh. 

Afterwards in November of 1758, Major Francis, with the help of an Indian guide, located the skeletons of his father and brother on the battlefield of the 1755 massacre. He buried their remains, along with those of all other soldiers slain on the battlefield. After the burials an appropriate military funeral ceremony was conducted. 

  Sir Peter had married before 15th February 1738, Lady Amelia Stewart, 2nd daughter of Francis, 3rd son of Charles 7th Earl of Moray and Jean Elphinstone, 2nd daughter of John Elphinstone, the 4th Lord Elphinstone.  Lady Amelia's date of death is unknown but her remains are interred in the family's Middle Crypt in the Nave of Dunfermline Abbey.  By their marriage they had three sons, and four daughters -  

1)    Peter Halkett who succeeded his Father as 2nd Baronet, died 1779 d.s.p.

2)    Francis, a Captain in Halkett’s Foot in 1751, and later a Major in the Black Watch, and in November 1758, then a Major and Aide de Camp to General Forbes, expedition that   captured Fort Dequesne, he located the skeletons of his father and brother, on the battlefield of the 1755 massacre, and participated in their burial with an appropriate military funeral.   Pennsylvania artist Robert Griffith immortalized the depiction of Major Francis's discovery of his father and brother's remains in his painting - "The Reunion."  Francis Halkett, was designated “of Pitfirrane” after his father’s death, and served as Provost of Dunfermline (1758-1759).  After his Father's death he was designated "of Pitfirrane" and was unofficially recognized as the Halkett of Pitfirrane, due to his brother's `infirmity of  mind`. He was a friend and correspondent of George Washington.  He died unmarried in Naples in November 1760.

3) James, youngest son was killed with his Father at Fort Duquesne July 1755.

1)    Jean Halkett, b. 6 Oct 1732, probably died young.

2)    Janet Halkett, b. 14 Aug 1735.

3)    Jean Halkett, b. 29 Jul 1742.

4)    Emilia Halkett, b. 20 Jan 1744.



Lady Anne Halkett (1623 - 1699)
Sir Peter Halket.png
Sir Charles Eleventh Laird (1639 - 1699)
Sir James Twelth Laird (1680 - 1705)
Sir Peter Halkett - First Baron (1659 - 1746)
Sir Peter Halkett - Second Baron (1695 - 1755)
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