Old Manor House
The Old Manor House at West Linton is a multi-period building but incorporates the remains of a 16th century tower house.
In the first half of the 12th century Richard de Comyn was granted lands at Linton by Henry of Scotland, the son and heir of David I. Linton was previously known as Linton Roderick and is is now known as West Linton to distinguish it from East Linton in East Lothian (and also Linton in Roxburghshire). The Roderick part supposedly refers to Rhydderch Hael (Roderick the Generous), the late 6th century / early 7th century Christian King of Strathclyde.
Richard’s uncle, William Cumin or de Comyn, was David’s Lord Chancellor of Scotland by 1136 and the first member of the Comyn family in Scotland. Linton may have been granted to Richard in 1145 to mark his marriage to Hextilda, daughter of Uchtred, Lord of Tynedale, and the grant certainly took place before Henry’s death in 1152.
Some time between 1152 and 1160 Richard granted the church at Linton to Kelso Abbey along with a half ploughgate of land at Linton for the souls of Henry and John, Richard and Hextilda’s eldest son who was buried at Kelso. Interestingly though Dodin of Berwick seems to have bestowed the church of Linton to Kelso Abbey some time between 1153 and 1159. This may indicate that the land at Linton had once belonged to Dodin who had previously been granted land at Dodin near Berwick by Henry. The church at Linton is known to have been a possession of Kelso Abbey by 1155.
It’s likely that Richard would have built a castle at Linton although whether it was where the later tower now stands is unclear. Under a reference to the Comyn family in “The Early Norman Castles of the British Isles” it states: “First seated at Linton Roderick, in Roxburghshire, where there is a rising ground, surrounded formerly by a foss, the site of the original castle; (G.) a description which seems to suggest a motte.”
This however would appear to be a description of the mound at Linton Tower in Roxburghshire, mistakenly conflated with Linton Roderick in Peeblesshire. Castle Law, around 700m to the south-west of the present tower, has been suggested as a possible location of an earlier castle but this appears to have been purely due to the name and a Bronze Age cairn at the summit makes this seem unlikely.
Richard went on to be Justiciar of Lothian in the 1170s and some time between 1173 and 1178 he granted the lands of Sloparisfield, just west of Linton, to Holyrood Abbey. He died around 1179 and was succeeded by his son, William Comyn. William, who, by marriage to his second wife, Marjory, Countess of Buchan, became jure uxoris Earl of Buchan. William was instrumental in surpressing the risings of the MacWilliams in the north-east of Scotland early in the 13th century and was granted the Lordship of Badenoch.
William died in 1233 and seems to have been succeeded by a son from his first marriage to Sarah Fitzhugh, David Comyn, who married Isobel, daughter of William de Valognes, and through her inherited the barony of Kilbride. Following David’s death in 1247 Linton passed to his son, William, and upon William’s death in 1283 to his eldest son, John. John died without an heir in 1290 and Linton passed to his brother, Edmund.
Sir Edmund Comyn of Kilbride fought at the Battle of Dunbar in 1296 alongside his cousins, John Comyn, 3rd Earl of Buchan, and John Comyn, Lord of Badenoch, but was captured and imprisoned by Edward I at Nottingham Castle until 1297. Upon his release he fought for Edward in Flanders but later returned to Scotland where he fought at the Battle of Roslin and then invaded England with Sir Simon Fraser of Oliver and Neidpath in 1303.
John Comyn, Lord of Badenoch, was a claimant to the vacant Scottish throne when his rival, Robert the Bruce, killed him in 1306. When Bruce ascended to the throne he set about confiscating the lands held by the Comyns and Edmund was stripped of his Scottish estates and titles. He would later die fighting on the English side at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.
In 1316 Robert granted to John of Logan eighteen oxgangs of land with a malt-kiln and four cottar-lands in Lyntounrothryk. Whether this was a portion of the original estate or its entirety is not clear, however soon after Logan granted all of his lands of Lintounrothirrikis to Sir William Douglas of Kincavil, Lord of Hermiston, for the payment of one silver penny annually. Logan’s grant to Sir William was confirmed by David II in 1340.
Sir William was a son of Sir James Douglas of Lothian and was married to Margaret or Marjory, daughter of Sir John de Grahame of Dalkeith, Abercorn and Eskdale. In 1341 Sir John granted the barony of Kilbucho to Sir William and in 1342 resigned the barony of Dalkeith in favour of his son-in-law. Sir William was granted the barony of Aberdour in 1342 by John Randolph, 3rd Earl of Moray.
Sir William, who was known as the Knight of Liddesdale, granted the barony of Dalkeith to his nephew, Sir James Douglas, who became known as Sir James Douglas of Dalkeith and the 1st Lord Dalkeith. When Sir William was murdered by his godson, William Douglas, 1st Earl of Douglas, in 1353 his other lands, including Linton, also passed to Sir James.
In 1370 there seems to have been some kind of dispute regarding lands in Linton as Sir David Grahame of Dundaff resigned his lands of Lynton Schelis in the Carnmore on the estate of Lyntounerothiryk due to purprision (encroachment on another’s land). However any dispute seems to have been an amicable one as Grahame was then granted the same lands by Sir James.
Sir James and his eldest legitimate son, also James, were confirmed by Robert II in various lands including the barony of Lyntounrotheryk in 1375 and in 1377 as Lord of Lynton he is on record receiving the lands of Fayrlehope resigned by Hugh Fraser of Lovat.
In 1383 he was confirmed by Robert II in various lands including the barony of Lynton, and the barony of Lynton and others were erected into a free regality in his favour. Around 1387 the younger Sir James married Elizabeth Stewart, daughter of the future Robert III, and in that year was again confirmed in various lands including the barony of Lyntoun by Robert II.
In 1411 Sir James Douglas of Roberton, an illegitimate son of the elder Sir James Douglas of Dalkeith, received a charter from James I of the lands of Stonypath and Baldwinsgill, which were then a part of the barony of Dalkeith but had formerly been a part of the barony of Linton.
The elder Sir James died in 1420 and was succeeded by the younger Sir James who with his wife, Elizabeth, had five children. The eldest, William, died in 1425 and so upon the death of Sir James in 1441 he was succeeded by his second son, James, as 3rd Lord Dalkeith. However the 2nd Lord Dalkeith, who was married to Elizabeth Gifford, daughter of James Gifford of Sheriffhall, was deemed incapable of managing his own affairs and his brother-in-law, also named James Gifford of Sheriffhall, was appointed to administer his estates.
In 1456 the 3rd Lord Dalkeith resigned his lands to his son, James Douglas, 4th Lord Dalkeith, who in 1458 was raised to the peerage as 1st Earl of Morton upon his marriage to Joan Stewart, daughter of James I.
In 1475 there was a boundary dispute between John Martyne, laird of Medhope and Henry Livingstone of Mannerston regarding the bounds of the baronies of Linton and Newlands. Martyne and Livingstone were co-portioners of the the lands of Blyth in Linton.
Upon the death of the 1st Earl in 1493 Linton passed next to his son, Sir John Douglas, as 2nd Earl of Morton. The 2nd Earl seemed to steer clear of politics but died at the Battle of Flodden in 1513. He was succeeded by his eldest son, James Douglas, as 3rd Earl of Morton.
The 3rd Earl married Catherine Stewart, an illegitimate daughter of James IV, but this royal connection didn’t stop him being summoned before the Privy Council by James V in 1538 for not paying his feudal dues. In 1540 he was banished to Inverness and forced to resigns his lands, including the barony of Lintoun, to Robert Douglas of Lochleven who in turn signed them over to James V.
Following the King’s death in 1542 the Earl of Morton’s lands were restored to him with the assistance of Sir George Douglas of Pittendreich and James Hamilton, 2nd Earl of Arran. In 1543 he granted the barony of Lintoun to his daughter, Elizabeth, and her husband, James Douglas, son of Sir George Douglas of Pittendreich.
The 3rd Earl died in 1548 and his son-in-law succeeded him, with the lands and barony of Lintoun being included in the list of extensive possessions which he inherited. In the same year the 4th Earl of Morton was captured by the English while defending Dalkeith Palace against them and taken to England as a hostage, being released in 1550.
Morton became Lord Chancellor of Scotland in 1563 and Mary, Queen of Scots, confirmed the Earl of Morton’s various lands including the lands and barony of Lintoun in the same year. In 1566 he led the armed force which entered Holyroodhouse to murder David Rizzio and in 1567 was involved in obtaining Mary’s consent for her abdication while she was imprisoned in Lochleven Castle.
In 1568 Morton led the vanguard of the army which defeated Mary’s supporters at the Battle of Langside and in 1572 he became Regent to the infant James VI. Morton’s power and influence wained when James VI was declared an adult ruler in 1578, and he retired to Lochleven Castle for a while. In the same year he started building Drochil Castle further down the Lyne valley from Linton.
Local tradition states that the present tower at Linton was built for Morton in the same year on Saturday nights by masons who were working on Drochil Castle. Whether or not this is true, the oldest part of the house is a small two storey L-plan structure which probably dates to the late 16th century. It isn’t clear if it was built on the site of an earlier castle.
The walls vary in thickness from around 1.1m to around 1.5m and consist of rubble masonry with sandstone dressings. The main north block is aligned approximately east to west, measuring around 8.0m long by around 5.8m wide, with its entrance in the south wall above which was an armorial panel. A large fireplace in the west wall, now concealed by a modern fireplace, probably indicates the location of the original kitchen.
Projecting south from the west end of this block is a smaller wing measuring around 3.9m east to west by around 3.1m north to south. This wing may originally have contained a spiral staircase. Both wings of the tower are thought to have been three storeys in height originally, however they were later reduced to two.
The tower stands on the east side of what was the main street at the north end of the village, close to the junction between what was the main road from Edinburgh to Lanark and the road south to Peebles. Linton was an important market town and was on the droving route north to Falkirk and Crieff.
Morton was arrested in 1580 having been accused of complicity in Lord Darnley’s murder in 1567, was attainted and executed in 1581. In the same year James VI granted the lands, barony and earldom of Morton, which included the lands and barony of Linton, to John Maxwell, 8th Lord Maxwell, a grandson of the 3rd Earl.
In 1586 the Earldom of Morton was restored to the Douglases and the title and estates were granted to Archibald Douglas, a nephew of the 4th Earl. The 5th Earl died just two years later however and was succeeded by his cousin, William Douglas, son of Robert Douglas of Lochleven and Margaret Erskine, custodian of Lochleven Castle during Mary’s imprisonment.
Around 1600 the rental income from the barony of Linton, including “the lands of Ingzertoun, Garrelfute, Maidenheid, Spittelhaugh, Lochvrde, Kirkvrde, Blyth, Walkfield, Baldonisgill, Harlawmure, and Lintoun” was 3027 merks or £2018. The 6th Earl died in 1606, and since his eldest son, Robert, had been lost at sea in 1585 the earldom passed to Robert’s son, William Douglas.
The property is marked on Hondius’s map of 1630, based on Pont’s late 16th century work, as a tower named Lyintoun.
The 7th Earl of Morton was appointed Lord High Treasurer of Scotland in 1630, and in 1631 he sold Linton along with Newlands and the barony of Kilbucho to John Stewart of Traquair, son of John Stewart of Traquair and grandson of James Stewart of Traquair. In the same year Linton was erected into a free burgh of barony and regality.
Stewart was created Earl of Traquair, Lord Linton and Caberston in 1633 and in 1636 succeeded Morton as Lord High Treasurer. He helped Charles I to impose his liturgy on the kirk in 1637 and as a result in 1641 Parliament issued a warrant for his arrest. In 1644 he was declared an enemy of religion, confined to his estates and fined 40,000 merks.
The Earl of Traquair resigned his rights as overlord of Kilbucho to John Dickson of Hartree in 1645 but he seems to have retained Linton which is marked on Gordon’s mid-17th century map as a tower named Lintoun.
The property is marked on Blaeu’s map of 1654, also based on Pont’s earlier work, as a tower named Lymn with the church and village shown separately.
The fate of Linton around this time isn’t clear. The Earl of Traquair died in 1659 and was succeeded by his son, John Stewart, Lord Linton, as 2nd Earl of Traquair. However in 1665 Thomas Rutherford, 2nd Lord Rutherford, wrote up titles to the estates and jurisdiction of Linton. Thomas was the son of Andrew Rutherford, 1st Lord Rutherford, and his wife, Giles or Isobel Stewart, an aunt of sister of the 1st Earl of Traquair, so the Linton estates may have come to the Rutherfords in that way.
The 2nd Earl of Traquair died in 1666 and was succeeded by his infant son, William, and the 2nd Lord Rutherford died in 1668. In 1670 Archibald Rutherford, 3rd Lord Rutherford, also wrote titles to the estates and jurisdiction of Linton, and in 1673 William died young and was in turn succeeded by his brother, Charles, as 4th Earl of Traquair. The property is marked on Adair’s late 17th century map as a tower named Lintoun.
The Earls of Traquair seems to have continued to use the title of Lord Linton for the heirs to the earldom, however in 1697 William Douglas, Earl of March, was infefted in the lands and lordship of Neidpath which included the lands, lordship and barony of Linton and Newlands.
The Earl of March was the grandson of the 1st Earl of Traquair’s sister, Margaret, who had married James Douglas, 2nd Earl of Queensberry. Upon the Earl of March’s death in 1705 he was succeeded by his son, William Douglas, who became the 2nd Earl of March and lord of the regality of Linton until his death in 1731. Heritable jurisdictions were abolished in 1747 and the 2nd Earl’s son, William Douglas, 4th Duke of Queensberry and 3rd Earl of March, received £218, 4s. 5. in compensation for the regality of Newlands and Linton.
Lintoun village is marked on Roy’s mid-18th century map but there’s no specific mention of the tower, perhaps suggesting that it was no longer considered a defensible building or a place of strength. In the late 18th century the tower was extended to the east, this wing having walls around 0.7m thick. Around this time the house was occupied for several generations by the Melrose family.
During the 20th century the property was subdivided into two flats, the upper of which is accessed by a new forestair to the north, and in 1973 a flat-roofed timber porch was added in the re-entrant angle to the south along with a rendered extension to the eastern gable-end of the 18th century wing.
Alternative names for Old Manor House
Linton; Linton Roderick; Linton Roderyck; Linton Rotheri; Linton Rotheric; Linton Rothirrik; Linton Rutherick; Linton-Ridric; Linton-Rotheryk; Lintonrotheric; Lintonrothirrik; Lintoun; Lintoun-Rotheryk; Lintoune; Lintounrothirrikis; Lintun; Lintun Ruderich; Lintunrothi; Lintunruderich; Lintunrutheric; Lundyn Rothery; Lundynrothery; Lyintoun; Lymn; Lynton; Lynton in Rothryk; Lynton Roderick; Lynton Roderyck; Lynton Rotheryk; Lynton Rothiryk; Lynton Rothrig; Lynton Rothrike; Lynton Rothryk; Lynton-Ruderic; Lyntonrohryk; Lyntonrotherick; Lyntonrothirrikkis; Lyntonrothrik; Lyntonrothrike; Lyntoun; Lyntoun in Rothryk; Lyntoun Roderyck; Lyntoune; Lyntoune Rothiryk; Lyntoune Rothyryk; Lyntounerothiryk; Lyntounerothyryk; Lyntounrotheryk; Lyntounrothryk; Lyntowne; Lyntunruderic; Lyntunruderyc; West Linton