The castle of Tullibothwell, probably dating back to at least the 13th century, stood somewhere within the vicinity of the town of Tullibody however its exact location has been lost. It was probably superseded by a possible 16th century tower house.
The lands of Tullibothwell, then known as Dunbodevin or Tulibodevin, are first mentioned in royal charters from the 12th century. Around 1140 David I founded the Abbey of Cambuskenneth and the foundation charter granted the abbey “the land of Cambuskenneth and the fishing between the said land and Pollemase and one net in the water; also the lands of Colling and Dunbodevin (Tulibodevin)”.
Dunbodevin contains the Gaelic word “dùn” meaning fort while Tulibodevin contains the Gaelic word “tulach”, meaning mound or hill. The second element of both names has been interpreted in a few different ways. One suggests that it contains the British word “bodwin” which consists of two elements which together can be translated as “white church” or “white house”, while another suggests the Gaelic word “bothan” meaning hut or cottage. A third suggested origin takes this further and derives it from the Gaelic “tulach both abhuinn” meaning mound of the house by the river. Incidentally it may share this derivation with Tullibole which has led to the two being confused in some sources.
There was an early church at Tullibody which in the middle of the 12th century was under the patronage of the family of Macbeth however this doesn’t seem to have been included in David’s grant. Some time between 1165 and 1170 Simon, son of Macbeth, granted the church to the Abbey of Cambuskenneth but only following the death of the rector, Hugh de Roxburgh (who was later appointed Bishop of Glasgow and died in 1199).
In 1164 Pope Alexander III confirmed various possessions to Alfred, Abbot of the church of Stirling, including “the land of Cambuskenneth; the fishing between the said land and Polmase, and one net in the water; also the land of Collyn, with the wood and pertinents; the land of Tulybethwyn, which is between the water of the said land and the land of Logyn….the island between Polmase and Tulibody”. Collyn would seem to be Cowie to the south-east of Cambuskenneth and Logyn would seem to be Logie or Blairlogie to the north-east, approximately between which is Tullibody.
These possessions were re-confirmed to the church of St. Mary of Stirling by Pope Celestine III in 1195, including “the town of Cambuskenneth, the land of CoIIyn, the land of Carsyn and Badyndeth, with the wood assigned to them; Tulibotheuyn; the island called Redinche, between Tulybotheuyn and Polmase….the fishings of Carsyn and of Tulybotheuyn; certain privileges with respect to tolls and customs; the fishing between Cambuskenneth and Polmase“.
In 1207 Pope Innocent III offered further confirmation of these possessions “to the Abbot and canons of St. Mary of Cambuskenneth” including “the town of Cambuskenneth and the town of Ketellestun, with the mill thereof; the land of Carsin and of Badendath, with the wood thereof; Tulybotheuin, and the island which is called Redinche, situated between Tulybotheuin and Polmase….the fishings of Carsin and of Tulebotheuin”.
In 1293 a Sir William Soulis de Tolybotheville is on record. He has been interpreted in most sources as owning Tullibole rather than Tullibody, however following his death Simon de Lyndesaye, Lord of Wauchopdale, was described as “Gerdein del ermitage Soules.” This Simon is mentioned again below which might suggest that the place in question was in fact Tullibody.
The first suggestion of a castle comes in a letter from Edward I of England in June 1297 in which he states that during the First War of Scottish Independence he “verbally empowered Simon de Lindeseye to take possession, saving others’ rights, of the manor of Tuthebotheville, and none having come to the K. to claim it, to his knowledge, he signifies that Simon has taken possession and holds it at his own risk.” Sir Simon de Lindsay was the son of Sir Philip de Lindsay of Wauchope.
On the 20th of April 1304 Edward I wrote two letters from Tullibotheville, having seemingly stopped for the night on his way from Perth to the siege of Stirling Castle. Given the king’s need for protection it would make sense that he stayed in a castle although this is not explicitly stated.
Early in the 14th century Edward I planned to build a pair of castles either side of the River Forth in order to protect the approach to Stirling. In 1304 or 1305 he sent writs to Sir John Sandale, Chamberlain of Scotland, instructing him to look for suitable sites for these castles. One of these writs was also sent to Sir John Segrave, 2nd Baron Segrave, warden south of the Forth, regarding a site at Polmaise, while the other was sent to John of Strathbogie, Earl of Atholl, warden between the Forth and Orkney, regarding “a castle at Tulibothevile, but not having a fit site, commands them to buy or provide one by exchange in a good place beyond Forth.”
The Tullibody site is traditionally said to have been “on the hill behind the Delph Pond” in what is now the town of Tullibody although whether this is just antiquarian supposition which has been repeated over the years is unclear. There is high ground to the south of the pond at Delph Wood and also to the north-east at North Wood, both of which are now partly occupied by residential properties and around 500m from the site of the old church. However both sites are set back quite some distance from the Forth and so would be of limited use in closely controlling access to Stirling. One of the suggested sites for Polmaise lies close to the current riverbank and while the exact position of the banks may well have changed in the intervening centuries it seems more likely to me that Edward’s Tullibody Castle would have been closer to the water.
There seems to be no doubt that a castle was built at Tullibody as records of Tulibothevile appear in various later documents. Four messengers were dispatched from Berwick on the 15th of February 1306 carrying letters from the Chamberlain of Scotland to “le Covers and William de Hull at Tolibothevill castle”.
There are records of payments to “Alexander le Convers, clerk of works of the new castle of Tolibothvill, for 1 esquire, 1 contrarotulor, and 4 sergeants [named], from 15 Feb. – 26 Mar. 1306; for 6 esquires, 1 vintenarius with 20 balisters, and 64 archers, from 18 Feb. – 26 Mar. 1306; and for 4 watchmen from 15 Feb. – 26 Mar. 1306, total, £65 2s 6d.” It goes on to say that the aforementioned people were “were ejected by the king’s enemies” on the 27th of March suggesting that the castle had fallen to the Scots.
I have seen references to Robert the Bruce’s supporters having attacked “the new castle of Tolibothwell” in 1306, with one source giving the date of the 27th of March and a location to the south-west of Aberdeen. It would seem given the above unequivocal payment references that this does in fact refer to Tullibody in Clackmannanshire. The northern Tolibothwell, also written as Tullibothil and Tulimacboythne, seems to be an old name for Kilduthie, which incidentally was also a Wauchope possession in the first half of the 13th century.
On the 27th of February 1307 Edward I ordered money to be “paid and assigned to Alexander le Convers in part payment of £55 4s 8d arrears of wages [etc.], £25 4s 8d. Sum of the leaf, £621 6s 11d. [fo. 2 v.]. To the same for expenses at Tholibothevill’ castle, 30 May, £20. On 10 July, to Richard Hardyng, £5; to Alexander le Convers [as above], £20.” In the same year the “Wages of 4 named sergeants at arms, 1 with Peter Lubaud, 3 at Tolibothvill” were recorded in Sir John Sandale’s account book.
That a new castle was built in 1306 is clear, as is the fact that there was a castle pre-dating it. The pre-1306 references to a castle at Tullibody don’t preclude the possibility that the new castle was built on the same site, replacing or expanding the earlier structure. It is of course also possible that a completely new site was chosen closer to the Forth and a new castle constructed while the old castle was on a hill near the Delph Pond. Since no trace of either has been found, and there aren’t historical references to two concurrent castles, I believe the former option is perhaps more likely. Given the distance from the Forth of the suggested sites near the Delph Pond I believe that the likely site of the castle would be further south and closer to the river, most likely on the haugh where Tullibody House was built but more of that later.
In September 1307 Sir Thomas de la Haye, the son of a Hay of Lochorwart, submitted a petition to Edward II of England at Rutherglen asking “for compensation of one year’s rent of his wife’s land of Tolybotheuille, value 80 marks, which the late K. had taken, intending to build a castle there”. Thomas’s wife was Lora, daughter of William de Cuningesburgh. She had married firstly Richard, son of Sir John de Bykretone, who predeceased her without producing an heir and so Lora and her second husband sought to be recognised as the heirs.
An inquisition in 1307 confirmed that “the said land of Tolybothevile was formerly William de Cuningesburgh’s, who gave it with Lora his daughter and heir, to Richard son of Sir John de Bykretone, in frank marriage, viz., to them and the heirs of their bodies lawfully begotten, and if they died without such heirs, to the said Sir John de Bykretone for his life, under reversion to Lora and her heirs; that Richard died without an heir by Lora; that the said Sir Thomas de la Haye lawfully married her; that the said Sir John de Bykretone the liferenter, died about fifteen days before last Pentecost; and Lora and her heirs are the true heirs.”
That the de Cuningesburghs owned Tolybotheuille seems clear from the above, however there is an interesting link between the Hays and the earlier owners the Soulis family. Both families trace their origins to the Saint-Lô arronidssement in the La Manche department of Normandy, the former from La Haye and the latter from Soulles. In the first half of the 12th century William de Haya married Juliana de Soulis, sister of Ranulf de Soulis who came to Scotland with David I and built Liddel Castle. The son of William and Juliana, also William, later joined his uncle in Scotland and is considered to be the progenitor of Clan Hay.
The Hay family certainly owned Tullibody by 1364 as Sir Thomas’s son, Sir John Hay of Tholybothil, married Christian Keith, daughter of Sir William Keith, Great Marischal of Scotland, in that year, and “Johanne de Haya, domino de Tolibothuill” is mentioned in 1372. Their son, also John Hay, married Margaret Stewart, daughter of Sir John Stewart of Ralston.
They had a daughter, Egida or Egidia Hay, who in 1426 married Alexander Seton (later known as Alexander Gordon, 1st Earl of Huntly), son of Alexander Seton, Lord Gordon. Her husband was described as “master of Gordon, lord of Tullibody” in 1440. Their son, also Sir Alexander Seton, was the ancestor of the Setons of Touch, an estate he acquired from the Frasers in the mid-15th century.
Given the prominence of these families, and Tullibody seemingly being considered an important possession of theirs, it seems inconceivable that the lands weren’t occupied by a castle, however there are unfortunately no specific mentions that I could find of a castle beyond the 14th century.
Alexander Seton doesn’t appear to have been a law-abiding citizen for he was the subject of an action raised in 1471 by Henry, Abbot of Cambuskenneth, regarding “the spoliation of the fruits and teinds of the church of Tullibody, taken up by the said Alexander as tenant-farmer to Dean Thomas Masterton, canon of Cambuskenneth”. He offered to pay assythment (compensation from a murderer for the heirs of a murder victim) in 1475 “to Alexander Cosour for slaughter of the late Rober Cosour.” In 1484 he was accused of stealing four oxen by Walter Turnbull of Gargunnock and in 1493 he was ordered to pay “the sum of 10 merks yearly for the past six years” to the heirs of the late James Home whom he had owed money.
Sir Alexander married Elizabeth Erskine, third daughter of Thomas Erskine, 2nd Lord Erskine, and was succeeded by his son, also Sir Alexander Seton, who died at the Battle of Flodden in 1513. Next in line was Sir Ninian Seton, the son of the younger Sir Alexander and his wife Elizabeth Home, said to be a daughter of Alexander, Lord Home. The Erskines may have held the superiority of the barony of Tullibody as in 1529 James V granted to John Erskine, 5th Lord Erskine, and his heirs “the lands and barony of Tullibody and the lands of Banchry, which were apprised from Sir Ninian for the non-entry fermes of the same during fifty years since the decease of Alexander, Earl of Huntly, lord of the conjunct fee, and husband of the late Lady Egidia Hay, heir of the said lands”.
However in 1534 or 1535 Sir Ninian transferred the lands and baronies of Touch and Tullibody to his son, Sir Walter Seton, who around 1541 married Elizabeth Erskine, daughter of the 5th Lord Erskine, and sister of John Erskine, 6th Lord Erskine and 1st Earl of Mar. Also in 1541 Sir Walter sold a part of the lands of Tullibody to John and Henry Quhit (possibly White).
Upon Sir Walter’s death in 1568 Touch and the remainder of Tullibody passed to his son, James Seton. James was involved in the Raid of Ruthven in 1582 along with his brother Robert, John Seton of Gargunnock and his sons, and John Erskine, 7th Lord Erskine and 2nd Earl of Mar. As a result his lands were forfeited and a James Murray of Tulibody is on record in 1579.
James Seton was pardoned in 1583 and his lands returned. In 1602 he confirmed “the lands and barony of Tullybodie” to his eldest son, John Seton, and his son’s wife, Elizabeth Hume. James died in 1606 and in 1611 John Seton sold Tullibody to his relative, Sir James Erskine, a grandson of the 5th Lord Erskine, the 5th Lord Erskine being James Seton’s great-grandfather. Sir James, who was married to Mary Erskine, daughter of Adam Erskine, Commendator of Cambuskenneth Abbey, was the son of Sir Alexander Erskine of Gogar and younger brother of Sir Thomas Erskine, 1st Earl of Kellie.
In 1629 Sir William Alexander of Menstrie received the lands and barony of Tullibody which had been resigned by John Erskine, Earl of Mar, and John Murray of Touchadam (presumably at the reversal of James Seton’s forfeiture). This was perhaps due to his marriage to Janet Erskine, daughter of Sir William Erskine of Balgonie, parson of Campsie, a relative of the Earl of Mar and another participant in the Raid of Ruthven.
In 1630 Sir William Alexander was created Lord Alexander of Tullibody and Viscount of Stirling and in 1633 was created 1st Earl of Stirling and Viscount Canada. The Earl resigned the lands of Tullibody and Tillicoultry into the King’s hands in 1637 and they were incorporated for him into the Earldom of Dovan. The 1st Earl died in 1640 and was succeeded initially by his infant grandson who died in the same year and then by his second son, Henry Alexander, who died in 1650.
Some time before March 1648 Tullibody was bought by Robert Meldrum as in that month he was appointed one of two shire commissioners for Clackmannanshire, along with Sir Charles Erskine of Cambuskenneth, and was Member of Parliament for Clackmannanshire in the same year. Meldrum is said to have built Tullibody House in the 1650s although it seems more likely that he remodelled and extended an older building is not clear. In 1654 Meldrum was fined £1000 by Oliver Cromwell along with many other members of “the gentrie and nobilitie”.
Robert Meldrum died in 1662 and Tullibody House passed to his brother, Major George Meldrum, who some sources state sold the house to Sir William Sharp of Staneyhill in the same year. However George was described as “Laird of Tillibody” upon his death in 1676. Sharp was appointed deputy Keeper of the Signet in 1660 and a shire commissioner for Clackmannanshire in 1667, and is said to have sold Tullibody in 1679 to George Abercromby of Skeith.
However “Major George Meldrum of Tillibodie and George Abercrombie of Skeithe” appear together in a list of burgesses of Banff for 1663 perhaps suggesting that Major Meldrum was still in possession of Tullibody in that year. Interestingly in 1668 Sharp was involved in the sale of Gogar, previously owned by Robert Meldrum, to Robert Bruce of Bordie “with consent of John Sanders, maltman in Torrieburn, and Jonet Meldrum, his spouse, also of George Meldrum of Tullibodie and George Abercromby of Skeich“.
Tullibody isn’t named on Pont’s late 16th century map of The East Central Lowlands, which doesn’t cover Clackmannanshire in any detail, although there is a circle symbol marked across the River Forth from Polmaise (but this is perhaps more likely what became Longcarse). It isn’t marked on the Gordon’s and Blaeu’s mid-17th century maps of Stirlingshire which were based on Pont’s work and also don’t cover much of Clackmannanshire.
The first appearance of Tullibody on a map, as Tillybody, is on John Adair’s 1681 map of Clackmannanshire when it is shown as a tower by the river to the south of “Tillybody toun”, to the south-west of the tower of “Woodsite” (later Woodside) and to the north-west of the tower of “Long Cars” (later Longcarse). Interestingly there appear to be unnamed tower symbols to the east and south of the church in Tulliybody toun although these may be intended to represent the town itself rather than castles.
George Abercromby died in 1699. It then passed to Abercromby’s cousin, Alexander Abercromby, who was Member of Parliament for Clackmannanshire between 1703 and 1707. Alexander had the house remodelled around 1710 and also bought Menstrie Castle in 1719. Alexander laid out the formal gardens at Tullibody and created fir plantations some time after 1725.
By this time the house consisted of a main three storey six bay block between two storey pavilions linked to the house by curved one storey wings. It was later described as being “ancient, and has no pretensions of architectural beauty.”
Alexander died in 1753 and Tullibody passed to his son, George Abercromby, a Professor of Law at the University of Edinburgh who considerably improved the estate. The artist Alexander Nasmyth was supposedly involved in some way in the development of the gardens during George’s tenure. In 1766 George’s middle daughter, Mary, married James Edmonstone of Newton.
John Ramsay of Ochtertyre wrote “The old house of Tullibody was built a few years before the Restoration by Mr Robert Meldrum. In point of shape it resembled the old house of Newton, being only larger. Abercromby remembers it before his father demolished it to build the present house, which he set down in a corn ridge.” Newton, also known as Old Newton of Doune, is a 16th century tower house.
Following George’s death in 1800 the estate passed to his eldest son, Lieutenant-General Sir Ralph Abercromby. George’s second son was Alexander Abercromby, Lord Abercromby from 1792 as a member of the Court of Session, and his third son was General Sir Robert Abercromby of Airthrey, Governor of Bombay.
Sir Ralph commanded the British troops fighting fighting Napoleon’s army in Egypt at the Battle of Alexandria (also known as the Battle of Abukir or Battle of Canope) in 1801, during which he was hit in the thigh by a musket ball. He remained on the battlefield until the battle was won but died a week later of his wounds. As a result Tullibody passed to his widow, Mary Anne Abercromby, 1st Baroness Abercromby.
Around 1803 William Stirling was commissioned to make various alterations to the house at a cost of around £2109. Sir Ralph and Mary had seven children, Anne, Mary, Catherine, George, Lieutenant-General Sir John Abercromby, James Abercromby, 1st Baron Dunfermline, and Colonel Alexander Abercromby.
Upon his mother’s death in 1821 George succeeded to the estate and to the title as 2nd Baron Abercromby. He served as the Whig Member of Parliament for Edinburgh from 1805 to 1806, and for Clackmannanshire from 1806 to 1807 and 1812 to 1815, and inherited Airthrey from his uncle in 1827.
When he died in 1843 Tullibody passed to his son, Lieutenant-Colonel George Abercromby, 3rd Baron Abercromby, who was the Whig Member of Parliament for Clackmannanshire from 1824 to 1826 and 1830 to 1831, for Stirlingshire from 1838 to 1841 and and for Clackmannanshire and Kinross-shire from 1841 to 1842.
During the 3rd Baron’s ownership attempts were made to find coal on the estate but without much success, however extensive coal workings around Alloa and Dunfermline led to the opening of the Stirling and Dunfermline Railway just after his death in 1852. The railway ran around 250m to the north of Tullibody House and later became part of the North British Railway. The 3rd Baron’s son, also George, inherited the estate and succeeded his father as 4th Baron Abercromby.
In 1858 the 4th Baron married Lady Julia Haldane-Duncan who from 1874 to 1885 served as Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Victoria. Some time between 1883 and 1905 he sold their Stirling estate, including Airthrey Castle, and it would seem that Tullibody House may have been rented out as around 1902 the Forrester Farquharson family moved in.
Some sources state that the 4th Baron sold the house in 1906, however when an attempt was made by suffragettes to blow up Tullibody House on the 7th of June 1914 (unsuccessful, the ensuing fire burned out) it was still described as the seat of Lord Abercromby. The 4th Baron died in 1917 without issue and was succeeded by his brother, John Abercromby, a soldier and archaeologist. The 5th Baron Abercromby had married his Swedish cousin, Adele Wilhelmina Marika von Heidenstern, in 1876 but they divorced in 1879. They had a daughter, Edla, born in 1877, but since there was no male heir the Barony of Abercromby became extinct upon the 5th Baron’s death in 1924.
Whether the Forrester Farquharson family were tenants or owners, they are listed in Macdonald’s Scottish directory and gazetteer as resident at Tullibody House over the next few decades. In 1890 Hugh Carlisle Campbell Forrester had been made a Second Lieutenant in the 4th (Stirlingshire) Volunteer Battalion of Prices Louise’s Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and it seems to have been he and his wife who took up residence at Tullibody. In 1915 Hugh was promoted to the temporary rank of Captain but two years later their son, Private Alexander Forrester Farquharson, was killed in action in 1917 aged 19.
In 1939 Hugh was promoted to the rank of Major and was still alive in 1942 but I have not been able to ascertain what happened to him or his family after that. The house was later abandoned and suffered at the hands of vandals. In 1960 a partial photographic survey of the house was carried out as part of the Scottish National Buildings Record however it was subsequently demolished in 1961 or 1963 following a fire. Today the surrounding area is mainly farmland although the outline of the old gardens can still be traced and numerous trees from them survive.
Alternative names for Tullibody Castle
Dumbodenun; Dumbodevin; Dunbodeuin; Dunbodevin; Dunbodwin; Telibodie; Tholibothevill'; Tholybothil; Tilibody; Tillibodie; Tillibody; Tillibotheny; Tillibothville; Tilliebodie; Tillybody; Tirlbothy; Tirly-bothy; Tolibothevill; Tolibothuill; Tolibothvill; Tolibothwell; Tolibovil; Tolybotheuille; Tolybothevile; Tolybotheville; Tolyboyll; Tolyboylle; Tulebotheuin; Tulibodeuin; Tulibodevin; Tulibodwin; Tulibody; Tulibodye; Tulibothen; Tuliboyene; Tulibyene; Tulibyne; Tuligbotuan; Tullebodye; Tullebotherin; Tullibode; Tullibodie; Tullibody House; Tullibodye; Tullibotheny; Tullibotheville; Tullibothil; Tullibothville; Tullibothwell; Tullibothy; Tullibovel; Tulliboyene; Tulliebotheville; Tulliebothville; Tullybodie; Tullybody; Tullybody House; Tullybothy; Tullyboyle; Tulybethwyn; Tulybethwyne; Tulybotheuin; Tulybotheuyn; Tulybotheuyne; Tulybothuyle; Tulybody; Tulybodye; Tulybothi; Tulybothy; Tuthebotheville; Twlybothy