See also

William BURNET of Barns (c. 1546-c. 1653)

1. William BURNET of Barns, son of unk BURNET ( - ) and Marion CAVERHILL ( - ), was born circa 1546. He died circa 1653. He married Margaret STEWART.


William Burnet of Barns, born about 1546 in the parish of Manor in Tweedale became perhaps the most famous of the branch. He was known as the "Hoolet of Barns", due most likely to his keenness of sight. He is said to have been of great stature and great bodily strength and lived to the ripe old age of 107. Burnet was a notorious border raider; nonetheless, several of his sons entered and were successful in the legal profession.

He bore the nickname the ‘Howlet of Barns' on account of his sagacity in conducting midnight expeditions and was apparently a ‘staunch cavalier…well horsed, with a buff coat and steel bonnet, lance and sword?


Contemporary with 'the Hoolet' was William Veitch, laird, and known as 'the Deil' of Dawyck, who lived nearly all through the sixteenth century. Both were men of immense stature, enormous physical strength, and undaunted courage. They lived to a great old age. 'The Hoolet ' is credited with one hundred and seven years. They were relations by blood, and constant allies in feuds and raids. 'The Hoolet' got his name because he was supposed to see as well in the mirk night as in the daylight. 'The Deil ' got his sobriquet because it was believed that no one ever rose up from under his sword -stroke. The two were often together in the 'Hot-Trod,' for their estates and those of their neighbours in Peeblesshire were frequently visited and harried by the Southern and even nearer marauders. And they had their privilege of the Commissioners of England and Scotland in 1398, when it was ordained and accorded 'that all manner of men of baith rewms sal hafe fredome to follow their gudes that beis stollen or restit frae thaim, with hunde and horne, out of the ta rewme into the toyir, at their lyking, or in quhat gudely manner to them byste.' Or as it is more picturesquely put in the words of the speaker in The Black Dwarf: 'Just put a lighted peat on the end of a spear, or hay-fork, or siclike, and blaw a horn, and cry the gathering-word, and then it's lawful to follow gear into England, and recover it by the strong hand, or to take gear frae some other Englishman, providing ye lift nae mair than's been lifted frae you. That's the auld Border law, made at Dundrennan in the days of the Black Douglas.'

Clearly enough the relationship between the Veitches and the Burnets - their neighbours on the east - was that of close friendship through the centuries. They had had foes on the west in those of the name of Tweedy, Crichton, and Porteous. The Veitches had usually for their allies besides the Burnets, Geddes of Rachan, a very old family, with which they had intermarried. It is now extinct, but it gave us, in the last century, the cultured Cambridge scholar - prematurely cut off - James Geddes, the author of An Essay on the Composition and Manner of Writing of the Ancients, particularly Plato. They had also for allies occasionally the Lord Fleming of Biggar and Cumbernauld, as is witnessed by a bond of man-rent between William Veitch and the Lord Fleming (22nd November 1531).



This was a £4 10s. land (260 acres), and lay to the west of the village of Broughton and alongside Biggar Water.

There is no doubt that it was the earliest known possession of the family of Burnet of Burnetland, afterwards of Barns, a detailed account of which is given in the chapter on the parish of Manor. In the Roll of Battle Abbey there appears among the followers of the Conqueror the name de Barneville or Burneville, and it is supposed that he is the ancestor of the family, but of this there is no evidence. The earliest record of the name in Scotland is the charter of foundation of the Abbey of Selkirk by Earl David, afterwards King David I., to which with others Robertus de Burnetvilla, miles, is a witness. This charter was granted prior to 1128. The same name, but spelt Burneville, according to the Norman-French of the time, appears among the list of hostages sent into England for the ransom of King William the Lion, who was captured at the battle of Alnwick in 1174. Nisbet in his Heraldry accepts the two names as of the same family. For almost two centuries there is no further trace, and then on 24th May, 1367, in the reign of King Robert II., Robert de Burneville and his son Robert appear as witnesses to a charter by Patrick de Dunbar, first Earl of March, to the monastery of Coldingham; and in 1390 Rodbertus or Robertus de Burneville is a witness to a charter on 5th April by King Robert III. confirming a previous charter by King David I. to the monastery of Holyrood. After that there is no further record of the family of de Burneville, and it is not till 1476 that we come on the first authentic ancestor of the Burnets - John Burnet of that Ilk.

It is not unlikely that John Burnet was kin to the de Burnevilles, Nisbet and other genealogists thought he was, although, apart from the similarity of the name, there does not appear to be anything in the nature of satisfactory evidence. But there is nothing whatever to show that any de Burnetvilla or de Burneville ever held the lands of Burnet-land in Broughton. Their territorial designation, which prior to the fifteenth century took the place of a surname, goes back to the beginning of the twelfth century - earlier if we accept the entry in the Roll of Battle Abbey - and was evidently taken from lands which the family had originally held in Normandy. Certainly the designation was not derived from Burnetland, for it was part of the barony of Broughton, and the proprietor was a vassal of the holder of the barony, and the barony itself was not in existence till the fourteenth century. It is of course, possible that a de Burnetvilla purchased the lands from the Haldanes or the Mowats and gave his own designation to them. But it is not likely, and, apart from there being no records to indicate such a transaction, there is a significant fact which practically destroys that theory. All the de Burnetvillas or de Burnevilles that we know of had Robert for their Christian name. The first Burnet of Burnetland was called John. More than that none of the subsequent proprietors of Burnetland and Barns was called Robert. The prevailing Christian names are John and James, and we do not meet a Robert Burnet - he was, a younger, son of the 'Hoolet' - till the latter part of the seventeenth century. Accordingly, it may be assumed that John Burnet referred to in 1476 (or his, father) was the first owner of Burnetland, and that he gave his name to it.

The Christian name of John Burnet's father - he died before 1470 - is not known, but he married Marion Caverhill, and through that marriage the family acquired the lands of Barns in Manor from which afterwards they took their designation. John Burnet was a witness in 1476 to the fixing of the boundaries of Kailzie, and in 1479 was on a jury at Peebles for the service of heirs. In 1484 he was on the inquisition at Peebles which found that the burgh was entitled to the pasturage of Cademuir. About 1493 he was on the jury for the service of Thomas Lowis in Harcus. Further particulars of him are given elsewhere. He was twice married, and died in 1502, succeeded by his son William. At his death he was proprietor of only one-half of Burnetland, but when the other half had been disposed of there is no record to show. From his half, his widow claimed her terce, to which she was 'kenned' on 15th February, 1502-3.

William Burnet was a minor when he succeeded his father, and particulars of him will be found elsewhere. He took the designation 'of Barns,' but he had also his father's share of Burnetland, and it is evidently he who is referred to in a memorial prepared about 1652, a fragment of which is among the Barns Papers as having fought at the battle of Pinkie in 1547 and been wounded. He died in 1564, and as Burnetland does not afterwards appear as a possession of the Burnet family, it may be assumed that he sold it before his death.

The two halves of Burnetland, although referred to in the titles as such, were not equal. One was a 50s. land (156 acres), and the other a 40s. (104 acres). It was probably the former which William Burnet sold.


Margaret STEWART was the daughter of Sir James STEWART of Schillinglaw, 6th of Traquhair (c. 1534-1607) and Catherine KERR (bef1578-1606). She and William BURNET had the following children:



James BURNET ( - )


Alexander BURNET ( - )


Robert BURNET ( - )

Second Generation

2. James BURNET, son of William BURNET of Barns and Margaret STEWART, was a Clergyman. He appeared in the census. He appeared in the census. He married Christian DUNDAS.


James, graduated from the College of Edinburgh in 1609 and was Minister of of Lauder from 1615, and inducted as Minister of Jedburgh by Charles 1 in 1635. He was deposed for his episcopalian views in April 1639.


Christian DUNDAS and James BURNET had the following children:



Alexander BURNET (1614-1684)


3. Alexander BURNET was the son of William BURNET of Barns and Margaret STEWART.


Alexander was a Treasurer-Clerk of Scotland until 1639 and also served as HM Advocate-Deputé.


4. Robert BURNET was the son of William BURNET of Barns and Margaret STEWART.


Robert became an advocate and was designated "The Younger" to distinguish him from Robert Burnett of Leys, who was an advocate as well.

Third Generation

5. Archbishop Alexander BURNET, son of James BURNET and Christian DUNDAS, was born in 1614. He was a Clergyman. He died in 1684. He was buried in St Salvator's Chapel. He married Elizabeth FLEMING.


The celebrated Alexander Burnet, Archbishop of St. Andrews and Glasgow was a rigorous Episcopalian who hated dissent of all kinds vehemently, and was of "blameless private life" and "absolutely honest and consistent". He was promoted to the Archbishopric of St. Andrews in 1679. Whilst at Glasgow he was also Chancellor of the University of Glasgow, a post associated with the archbishopric. Burnet's extreme views eventually forced the King to demand his resignation.

Burnet was born in Edinburgh in 1615 - his father was also a churchman, but his grandfather, William Burnet, was a notorious border raider nicknamed Hoolet o'Barns (it is ironic that several of his sons were associated with the law, but on the right side of it!). Having graduated Burnet went to work in the household of the 1st Earl of Traquair. Traquair, like Burnet, was an ardent Royalist. There is another connection here: Burnet's daughter Anne was to marry Patrick 3rd Lord Elibank, whose grandfather Patrick 1st Lord Elibank himself married Traquair's daughter Elizabeth Stewart - perhaps the family connection was made at this time?

Initially Burnet's episcopalian views were not in favour in Scotland, and he went to work in England, where he was ordained. During the Commonwealth he was ejected and went to live on the continent, where he acted as a courier for Charles II. He returned at the Restoration, and became Rector of Ivychurch in Kent. He also became Chaplain to his father's cousin Andrew Rutherford, Governor of Dunkirk. Burnet also had duties in that city, including being "Dean of the City of Dunkirk".

It was not until 1663 (25 years after he left his native land) that he returned to Scotland, where he initially became Bishop of Aberdeen, then Archbishop of Glasgow shortly afterwards. Immediately Burnet became embroiled in the politics of the church, where he took the extreme and rigid stance against dissenters to the national church that he is best known for.

Burnet's feeling towards Presbyterians is stated to have been expressed in this sentence :? "The only way to deal with a fanatic was to starve him."

Among his earliest acts was to summon James Hamilton of Aitkenhead, in Cathcart parish, before the High Commission Court for failing to attend the church; and under this and a number of other charges, for the most part believed to have been trumped up, Aitkenhead had to pay heavy fines, and suffer several periods of imprisonment. On the 18th December, 1664, John Spreul, the late town-clerk of Glasgow, was, by an Act of the Privy Council, banished the country for his Presbyterianism; while George Porterfield and John Graham, late provosts of the city, were similarly dealt with in 1665.

The Town Council, on the 22nd April, 1665, ordered the inhabitants of the city to bring their arms to the magistrates, to be kept in the Tolbooth, and those who failed to obey this disarming Act were to be held as disaffected. In his zeal for the advancement of Episcopacy, Burnet informed the city authorities that he intended to employ the King’s militia to collect certain fines which had been imposed for nonconformity; but the Council thought it better to do so. by their own officials. At length his zeal so outran his prudence, that in a document which he and his synod issued, in September, 1669, he remonstrated against the indulgence granted to Presbyterians, in such a way as to be considered subversive of His Majesty’s authority, and he was set aside in December, Robert Leighton, Bishop of Dunblane, being appointed commendator of the diocese.

After the Restoration of Charles II in 1660, bishops and the selection of ministers by patrons rather than by congregations were again imposed. Ministers who would not accept this were ousted and often took large sections of their congregations with them. These would often be forced to meet in the open air in conventicles. Conventicles were being reported in Glasgow in the late 1670s. In October 1678 Archbishop Alexander Burnet was attacked by a conventicle, including "great multitudes of women", which had been meeting in the Saltmarket. In 1679, after the victory of Covenanters at Drumclog, troops entered Glasgow, but were repelled by government forces in the streets around Glasgow Cross. The suppression of Covenanters continued in the early 1680s, during what were known as the "killing times", with various executions in Glasgow in 1684, including five at Glasgow Cross on 19 March.

According to some Burnet was eventually assassinated, but this view is not universally held. Certainly, in as much as he was held in great respect and affection by some, he was loathed and detested by others.

Burnet's estate was valued at ?1,470 Scots, including two coaches worth ?00, silver plate worth ?23 and books worth ?050. He also left a plot of land to the poor of his archiepiscopal see, which land became known as "Bishop's Rig" or "Bishop Burnet's Acre". Although no surviving portrait of him remains, there is correspondence which refers to him as Longifacies and Long Nez.


From the Wikipedia:

Alexander Burnet (1615-1684) was a 17th century Scottish prelate. Born in the summer of 1615 to James Burnet and Christian née Dundas, he gained an MA from the University of Edinburgh in 1633. He chose to follow the career of his father, who had been minister of Lauder, by becoming a churchman himself. He entered the service his mother's kinsman the Earl of Traquair, becoming the personal chaplain of John Stewart, 1st Earl of Traquair.

This was the springboard for a high level ecclesiastical career. He was presented to Coldingham in 1639 by King Charles I of Scotland, but could not retain this position because of the National Covenant. Burnet went to exile in England, where he became a strong Royalist, something which forced him to flee to continental Europe. He returned to Great Britain after the Restoration of the monarchy, becoming rector of a parish church in Kent (Ivychurch) and chaplain to Andrew Rutherford, governor of Dunkirk.

The Restoration of the monarchy was followed by the restoration of Episcopacy in Scotland. Burnet became Bishop of Aberdeen in 1663. He held this position for less than a year, receiving promotion as the successor of Andrew Fairfoul to the Archbishopric of Glasgow. As Archbishop, he took a hard line on ecclesiastical non-conformity, and led the attempts to repress the Pentland Rising of 1666. His continued hard-line attitude, even after reconciliation became general policy, and his enmity against the Earl of Lauderdale, made him a controversial figure. He became too much of a liability for the king, who pressured him to resign as Archbishop. This he did on December 24, 1669.

Burnet went into England again. His high ecclesiastical career was revived in 1679, becoming Archbishop of St Andrews. He held this position until his death by illness on August 22, 1684. He was buried in St Salvator's Chapel.


Elizabeth FLEMING was the daughter of George FLEMING of Kilconquhar, Fife ( - ). She and Alexander BURNET had the following children:



Margaret (Mary?) BURNET ( - ). Margaret married Roderick MACKENZIE on [Julian] 28 April 1674.


Anna BURNET ( - ). Anna married Alexander ELPHINSTONE on [Julian] 10 September 1667. She married Patrick 3rd MURRAY on 20 August 1674.