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CHALMERS of Cults - from Scottish Nation


"The Scottish Nation" - Chalmers of Cults

The following extract was taken from "The Scottish Nation" (1874) by William Anderson and was kindly forwarded to me by Charles D. Chalmers. My thanks to Charles, for sending me the extract originally and for bringing the book to my attention.


The family of Chalmers of Cults, in the parish of Tarland, was an early cadet of that of Balnacraig. Alexander Chalmers, the first of Cults, is supposed to have been a grandson of the William Chalmers above named[of Tartas]. He married Lady Agnes Hay, dughter of the earl of Errol. Alexander Chalmers of Cults, the fifth in descent from the above named Alexander, the first of Cults, was provost of Aberdeen in 1567. By his wife, Janet, daughter of Lumsden of Cushnie, he had two sons, Gilbert his successor, and William, minister of Boyndie, of whose descendants afterwards. His elder son, Gilbert Chalmers of Cults, received a charter of confirmation of part of his paternal estates in November 1601. He seems also to have sold the greater portion of them to Sir James Gordon of Lesmoir in 1612, among which were the lands of Cults, which now belong to the duke of Richmond. By his wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Frazer of Dores, he had a son Alexander Chalmers, who appears nevertheless to have been designated of Cults. He married Janet, daughter of James Irvine of Drum,and had a son, Alexander of Cults, who married Marjory, daughter of Robert Lumsden of Cushnie, advocate, by whom he had an only daughter, Marjory, the wife of John Urie, of Pitfichy, and their son was Sir John Urie or Urrie, lieutenant-general in 1643, under the marquis of Montrose. In this Alexander Chalmers ended the elder male branch of the family of Cults.

William, second son of Alexander Chalmers of Cults, the provost of Aberdeen, above referred to, was the first protestant minister at the kirk of Boyndie, in Banffshire, and was planted there in the early part of the reign of Charles the First. He married Elizabeth, daughter of William Chalmers of the same family of Cults, minister of Skene, and had four sons, who were all episcopal clergymen, namely, 1st, William Chalmers, minister of Fettercairn. After the revolution he was sent to London by the episcopal clergy of the north of Scotland, to attend to their affairs at court; and soon after the accession of Queen Anne, he presented to her an address from his brethern, when her majesty conferred a pension of a hundred pound a-year on him. He married Elizabeth, daughter of Barclay of Towie, and had two sons, William, minister of Glammis, and James, minister of Cullen. 2nd, James, parson of Paisley. He was first one of the professors of philosophy in Marischal college, Aberdeen, which office he held until 1650, when Charles the Second was in Scotland; and while at Aberdeen his majesty distinguished him with particular marks of favour. On one occassion, especially, when he waited on the king, Charles, in the hearing of all present, saluted him with these words, "God save you, Mr. Chalmers!" Having entered into holy orders, he was presented to New Machar, within seven miles of Aberdeen, but was soon after was translated to the kirk of Cullen, of which his nephew James was afterwards incumbent. During his ministry here, preaching once on Jetham's parable (Judges, chap. ix) in the time of Cromwell's usurption, he gave so great offence to a company of soldiers, then quatered there, that they carried him prisoner to Elgin, where he was confined for some time. After the establishment of episcopacy in Scotland in 1662, he was promoted to the kirk of Dumfriess, and there as an act of the lords of secret council in his favour, dated 11th December that year, registered in the council books, allowing him to draw the year's stipend due to the late minister of Dumfriess, as well as his own due from Cullen. It was after this that he became parson of Paisley. He was nominated by Charles the Second to the bishopric of Orkney, but died in Edinburgh before he could be consecrated, and was buried in the Chalmers' tomb in Greyfriars churchyard of that city. He married, first, a daughter of William Scroggie, bishop of Argyle, and secondly, Elizabeth, sister of Robert Petrie of Porttlethen, provost of Aberdeen from 1664 to 1671, and had two sons, James, minister of Kirkpatrick-Fleming, and Charles, who was admitted writer to the signet, 16th October 1704, but afterwards entered the army, and was for some time a captain of the Scots Guards, but sold his commission in 1714. He was killed at the battle of Sherriffmuir, on the side of the Pretender, in 1715. He was twice married, and had two sons, Roderick, Ross herald and herald painter in Edinburgh, and James, who was also an artist. 3rd, John, minister of Peterhead and chaplain to John earl of Midlothian, commissioner to the first Scots parliament after the restoration. He married Mary, daughter Keith of Whiteriggs, sherriff of Mearns. 4th, Patrick, succeeded his father as minister of Boyndie. By his wife, Anne, daughter of James Ogilvie of Raggel in that parish, he had two sons and a daughter. The elder son was a clergyman of the Church of England in the county of Essex. The younger died a youth at Marischal college, Aberdeen. The duaghter married George Ogilvy of New Rayne.

A baronetcy was conferred in 1664 on a member of the younger branch of the Cults family, but the name of the grantee is not known.

Although the title is of Cults, the family had ceased to possess that property, and gradually fell into decay. About the middle of the last century the grandson of the first baronet was Sir Charles Chalmers, captain in the royal regiment of artillery, who died at Pondicherry in the East Indies, in November 1760, and was succeeded by his brother Sir George Chalmers of Cults, baronet, who was long resident in India. He died in 1764, and is supposed to have left a son, Sir George Chalmers, nominally of Cults, an eminent painter. He was a native of Edinburgh, and the scholar of Ramsay, but he afterwards studied at Rome. The honours of his family descended to him without fortune, their estates having been previously sold,as already related. Sir George was in consequence obliged to make art his profession. He resided a few years at Hull, where he painted several portraits, and frequently exhibited at the Royal Academy. He died in London about the early part of 1791. There is a mezzotinto print of General Lord Blakeney, after a painting by Chalmers, done in 1755, at Minorca, when his lordship, who was his particular friend, was governor of that island. In Bromley's Catalogue of engraved portraits, mention is made of a portrait of his relative Roderick Chalmers, Ross Herald and painter of Edinburgh, in his Herld's coat, which was engraved by G. Chalmers, j. He married at Edinburgh, 4th June 1768, Isabella, daughter of John Alexander Esq., historical and portrait painter of that city, and had a son, Sir Robert Chalmers, baronet, commander of the Alexander Lazaretto, stationed at Motherbank. He died at Portsea in 1807. His son, Sir Charles W. Chalmers, an officer in the royal navy, was the last baronet of whom there is any account.

In the last century the office of principal of King's college, Old Aberdeen, was held for nearly sixty years by Dr. John Chalmers, who died 7th May 1800. There was also a William Chalmers, professor of medecine. The first newspaper begun in the north of Scotland, the Aberdeen Journal, was originated in 1746 by Mr. James Chalmers, printer in that city; and his son in 1771 established the Aberdeen Almanack.

A distinguished person of this name is Major-general Sir William Chalmers, knight and C.B., eldest son of William Chalmers, Esq., of Glenericht, Perthshire and nephew of Sir Kenneth Douglas, baronet of Glenbervie. He was born in 1787, and entered the army in 1803. He served in the whole campaign of the war with France, chiefly as a staff officer, in Portugal, in Spain, at Walcheren, in Belgium and France. He was severly wounded in the assault of the entrenchments at Sarre, and had nine horses killed or wounded under him in action, three of them at the battle of Waterloo, where he commanded a wing of the 52nd foot; he received the brevet of major for his services at the Pyrenees, and that of lieutenant-colonel for Waterloo. He was created a military companion of the Bath in 1838, a knight commander of the order of Guelphs of Hanover in 1837, and a knight bachelor by letters patent in 1844. He was maade a major-general in the army in 1846, and a lieutenant-general, in 1854. Colonel of the 78th foot. He married the daughter of Thomas Page, Esq.


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This page was updated 01-Apr-2001