Downie, Downy, Dounie, Daunie, Dauney

There are five main variants of the Scottish surname Downie; as far as I know, the surname Downey is of Irish origin rather than Scottish, and is associated with mainly Catholic Irish immigrants who came to Scotland in the nineteenth century looking for work. I am not sure that there is any connection between the Scottish Downie name and the Irish Downey name, though it is fairly common for people to confuse the two spellings. However another Downie researcher, Damien Downie, believes that there is a connection between Irish Downeys and Downies in Argyllshire and other parts of West Scotland, and on his website there are references to Protestant Downeys in Ireland. I have an open mind, and it may be that there is no connection between Downies who originated in the East of Scotland and those who came from the West, and possibly originally from Ireland.

Of course, at one time - up to the Reformation - everyone in Scotland was Catholic and there were pockets in the country, particularly in the Highlands, which held on to the Catholic faith through the Jacobite risings of 1715 and 1745 and on into later times. However, almost all Scottish Downies are recorded in the Church of Scotland parish registers under one of the five surname variants.

Black¹ is the source of most information about the origins of the name Downie. The earliest occurrence of the name came in 1254, when Duncano de Dunny was one of the signatories to a legal document establishing the boundaries between the lands of Conan & Tulloch or Tulach owned by the Abbey of Arbroath and lands owned by Peter or Patrick Maule of Panmure and his wife Christina. The document is reprinted in the first volume of the Register of the Abbey of Arbroath², a work written in Latin. I am currently working at translating it into English. The 'o' at the end of Duncan's forename was probably the dative form ('to' or 'for') of the name as it appears at the end, probably as a signatory to the document.

It is not entirely clear where these lands lay but it is reasonable to assume that they were near Panmure in Angus, the home of the Maule family, as there is a reference to a division between Tulach and Pannemor. In addition, there are several modern Conon placenames to the south, east and north of the village of Redford which is about 7 km north of Panmure. These are Conon, Milton of Conon, Brae of Conon, West Grange of Conon, Grange of Conon, Parkconon, Cairnconon Hill, Mains of Cononsyth, South Mains of Cononsysth and Cononsyth. Carnconnan (Cairnconnan?) is mentioned in the Register. About 6 km to the west of Redford there is a group of Tulloes place names: Nether and Upper Tulloes, Bractullo Mill and Burnside of Tulloes.

This does not mean that Duncano de Dunny came from the area, as other signatories include Nicolao de Hedon decano Moraviensis [probably Nicholas of Hedon deacon of Moray] and Eustachio de Glasletter [Loch Glasletter is in the Parish of Kintail in Wester Ross]. In 1306, Nicolas de Dounouey was one of the two Angus Barons who swore fealty to Edward I as the English king made his way through Scotland attempting to claim the country for England³, and this act may have resulted in the forfeiture of the lands after King Robert the Bruce came to power. Jervise notes that Sir Alexander Lindsay, knight, was granted the thaneage of Douney or Downie from Robert II in 13314. The implication of this is that the lands of Downie had passed to the Crown before this date, as Thanes were originally stewards of the King's lands and eventually hereditary heirs to these lands. As an aside, the 15 year old Robert Steward was not the king in 1331; the king was his uncle David (King David II) who was only seven years old in 1331. Robert did not become king until 1371 on the death of David. The original source of Jervice's information is Robertson's Index to Missing Scottish Charters and the entry there is dated 8 June 'a.r.2' (in the second year of the king's reign), which corresponds to 1372 - it seems likely that the date quoted by Jervise is incorrect. The full transcription reads

"Alexandro de Lindesay, Militi, thanagii de Douny, in vic. de Forfare, cum bondis, bondagiis, nativis et eorum sequelis &c.; apud Perth, 8 Junii, a.r.2."5

In fact the Robertson index includes a charter (undated) of the Barony of Downie and other lands, granted to William, Earl of Sutherland and his spouse Margaret Bruce, sister to the King, the parents of King Robert II. This charter must have pre-dated the charter granted to Alexander de Lindesay but the only clue to the date is in the one dated entry in the same roll of charters: dated in the 28th year of the reign of David II, probably 1359 or 1360 as he was crowned on 24 November 1331, aged only 7 but already married.

"to William Earl of Sutherland and umquill Margaret Bruce, sister to the King, of the Barony of Downy, vic. Forfar, baronies Kincardin, and Aberluthnock, and Fettercardin vic. Kincardin, half of Fortmartein, half of the thandome of Kintor, in vic. de Aberdein"6

Another undated charter by Robert II appears to have amalgamated the Barony of Downie with other baronies in Angus"

"to ditto [David Earl of Crawfurd], of the barony of Downy, Achebeatoun, Innerarritie, Clova, Guthrie, Ecclis, Ruthven, Glenesk, to be in a barony, to answer to the sheriff of Forfar"7

There is certainly strong evidence of a connection with Downies in the area of Panmure, which is in the Parish of Panbride, though there is no modern place name which could be either Conan or Tulloch near Panmure. In the parish of Monikie, immediately to the west of Panbride, there are several Downie placenames, and the most prominent landmark in the area, the Panmure Testimonial, sits on top of Downie Hill, at a height of 568 feet the highest point in the surrounding area. South of this 105 feet tower (also known as the 'Live and Let Live Testimonial') erected by the tenants of William Ramsay Maule, the first Lord Panmure, in 1839 in his memory lie Brae of Downie, Old and New Downie, which were called East, West and South Downie on the 1865 Ordnance Survey map. All three places lie very close to Mains of Panmure farm. To the west near the village of Newbigging there are two other Downie placenames: Downieken and, on the Buddon Burn, Downie Mill, which is marked as a corn mill on the 1865 OS map.

Warden states that on the other side of Kirkton of Monikie (about 250 yards north of the Parish Church) stood Downie Castle, the ruins of which were still to be seen at the beginning of the 19th century but which are completely gone now8. However elsewhere he states that traces of the foundations of the castle can be seen on a mound at Old Downie. About a mile and a half to the north north east or Kirkton of Monikie lies the Moor of Downie and on the north east side of this moor there are another two Downie placenames: Downiemuir and Downiebank (which is called Downiemuir in the 1865 OS map, the modern Downiemuir being a single unnamed building).

Warden states that David II granted the charter to the Mill of Downie to John Masculo (the source of this information is not given in the online transcription but this charter appears in Robertson's index: "to Joanni Masculo, of the miln of Douny in vicecom. Forfar"9). King David II, son of Robert the Bruce, ruled from 1341 (he was crowned in 1231 but was only 7 years old and was sent with his child bride to France until he was able to return as King) until 1371, when his nephew Robert II succeeded him. Warden speculates that Masculo was a latinised form of Maule - this would make John Masculo a relative or descendant of Peter Maule. In 1629, Patrick Maule, first Earl of Panmure from 1646, was granted the charter of the Barony of Downie so the Maule family eventually owned the whole of these lands, only to lose them after the 1715 rebellion, when the lands were forfeited. The Maules were persistent and bought back the lands in 1746, and they remained in the hands of the Maules from then on at least till the 1880s when Warden was writing.

It would appear that the Downie placenames in Monikie take their origin from the Barony of Downie and it is possible that Duncan de Dunny was the immediate neighbour on the west of Peter Maule of Panmure and the lord of the Barony of Downie. Downies may have remained in the area but there is only one Downie recorded in the first of the Monikie Old Parish Registers, which started in 1613: David Downie, son of Michael Downie, baptized 4 November 165510 - his mother was probably Issobel Roche who married Michell Downie in December 1652 at Monikie11. There are three 16th century Downie baptisms in the neighbouring parish of Monifieth: Alexander Downy baptised 7 February 1579 and Bessie Downy baptized 12 June 1586, both children of Jhone Downy. Patryk Dony, son of Jhone Dony baptized 21 January 1592 was probably a brother of Alexander and Bessie.12 The earliest Downie marriage recorded in Monifieth is that of Alexander Downy to Kate Hutchowng on 22 July 1576.13 These are among the earliest Downies found in parish records, only a few from before 1600 having survived.

Warden notes that:

On 8th June, 1371-2, Robert II granted at Perth a charter to Sir Alexander de Lyndesay of Glenesk, third son of Sir David Lindsay of Crawford, of the King's lands of the thanage of Downy. By that charter he was entitled to the services payable by the bondi or husbandmen. It also made him owner of the nativi or serfs, and of their children in the thanage. This shows that serfs and their children were the born slaves of the proprietors of the land in Scotland five centuries ago, and might have been, and were, bought and sold as slaves were in the United States until a comparatively recent period. 8

In medieval times, it is believed that only the nobility had surnames and that surnames began to be used for common people in more recent times. One possibility for the origin of the Downie surname is that it came from the Barony of Downie. However the association of a noble Downie with a barony of the same name is uncertain at best and if there were such a family its lands had been taken by the King before 1372. It therefore seems likely that the family which originally had the barony of Downie died out, and that anyone taking their surname from the barony was a bondsman or serf.

In my own family, there has always been a belief, related by my great grandmother who was born in 1862, that the Downies were associated with the Lindsay 'clan' and I am reasonably certain that my Downies came originally from East Fife, in the parishes of Newburn, Kilconquhar and Elie, and that some at least lived on Lindsay lands now owned by the Earl of Crawford and Balcarres.

There was a pocket of Downies in Glenisla and again there appears to have been a Lindsay connection there as Jervise14notes "By a charter of confirmation of the liberties of the monastery [of Cupar - Coupar Angus], granted by Robert the Bruce at Dundee, in 1309, it is also shown that Sir James Lindsay of Crawford gave to the convent [of Cupar] the lands of Little Pert, Duny, and Clair, in Angus, together with an annual of two merks from a place called Adinlesk; and of all these Lindsay had confirmation from John Kynross, knight." Jervise comments that Adinlesk may be Auchinleish in Glenisla.Warden notes "In the Registrum de Cupar, Pref. xix., he is called Sir David Lindsay of Crawford, and in the copy of the confirmation charter of the lands by King Robert Bruce, dated at Dunkeld, 5th October, 1309, and attested at Dundee same year, he is called Alexander of Lindsay.  The Duny or Downie given the Abbey by the Lindsays was in Glenisla". On the modern OS map, there is a place called Doonies about 800 m north of Brewlands Bridge (called Little Doonies in 1865 with a Doonie which does not apear on the modern map about 800 m north of this on the B951 road).

The earliest Downie found in the Glenisla Parish Records (which did not begin until 1719) is John Downie, Portioner in Innnerharity (Inverharity on the modern map, just south of Folda) who had a daughter Agnes in 1720; two other Downies elsewhere in the parish also had children baptized the same year15. A portioner was a minor landowner and it could be that the land had been in the Downie family for generations before the existing OPR began in 1719. This is borne out by Sasine index entries between 1660 and 1664 naming Colin Patersone alias Downie, portioner of Wester Innerherritie, his son John and John's wife Janet Cargill16. At the same time and for at least a few years earlier, there was another Downie family at Caldhame and possibly another at an unidentified location. More research is needed on the actual Sasines.

To be continued ....

¹Black, G.F. (1946) The Surnames of Scotland. New York, New York Public Library [Reprinted 1996 Edinburgh, Birlinn]

²King, C. (Ed) (1868) Liber S. Thome de Aberbrothoc Registorium Abbacie de Aberbrothoc Pars Prior 1178-1329 pp 322-5. Edinburgh, Bannatyne Club

³Jervise, A. (Ed. Gammack, J.) (1885) Memorials of Angus and Mearns: an account historical, antiquarian & traditionary 2nd Edition Vol II page 263. Edinburgh, Douglas.

4Jervise, A. (Ed. Gammack, J.) (1885) Memorials of Angus and Mearns: an account historical, antiquarian & traditionary 2nd Edition Vol I page 12. Edinburgh, Douglas.

5Robertson, W. (1798) Index of Missing Scottish Charters. Edinburgh page 96, no 307.

6Robertson, ibid. page 63 no 53

7Robertson, ibid. page 146 no 87

8Warden A.J. (1880-5) Angus Forfarshire: the land and people, descriptive and historical (5 volumes) Vol. 4 Chapter XLVI - Monikie pp 413-429. Dundee [online at viewed 8 January 2019]

9Robertson, ibid, page 39 no 52

10Search on OPR births and baptisms surname Downie parish Monikie: Reference 311 10 211

11Search on OPR banns and marriages surname Downie parish Monikie: Reference 311 10 190

12Search on OPR births and baptisms surname Downy and Dony parish Monifieth: References 310 10 89, 127 and 164

13Search on OPR banns and marriages surname Downy parish Monifieth: Reference 310 10 65 FR71

14Jervise, A. (1885) Memorials of Angus and Mearns: an account historical, antiquarian & traditionary (2 volumes). Edinburgh, Douglas. Vol II p 198

15Glenisla Parish Record references 290 10 6, 7 and 9

16Scottish Record Office (1965) Indexes No. 59: Index to Particular Register of Sasines For Sheriffdom of Forfar Volume 1 1620-1700, (S.3) II.16 and (S.3) II.164. Edinburgh: HMSO