Cereal Gourlays


I believe the correct adjective derived from the name Ceres is, technically, Cererian. But as we’re talking about the town rather than the goddess or the dwarf planet, and cereal is also a possible derived adjective …

In 1888 (or MDCCCLXXXVIII) the antiquarian the Reverend Charles Rogers DD LLD (1825-1890) privately published 60 copies of a book “Memorials of the Scottish House of Gourlay“, available at the internet archive.

There’s a short chapter about Gourlays who lived in the town of Ceres which I’ve tidied up a bit from the OCR scan. I’ve renumbered the (originally page placed) footnotes and have turned them into end notes, and the lines and original paging are gone (but still available if anybody wants something more like a transcript) and it now reads like this:

Families in Ceres.

A branch of the family of Kincraig settled in the parish of Ceres early in the seventeenth century. On the 18th May 1629, Thomas Mortoun at Pitscottie, a deacon of the parish church of Ceres, and his wife Margaret Gourlay, had a child baptized, one of the witnesses being Sir John Hope of Craighall.[1]

On the 7th October 1674, Thomas Gourlay, tenant in Baldirran, parish of Ceres, received sasine of an annual-rent of £80 out of the lands of Baltullie and the lands of Kirkland.[2] His testament-dative was on the 19th February 1683 given up by his widow, on behalf of Thomas Gourlay, their only son, — his free gear being valued at £959, 1s. 8d.[3]

John Gourlay, farmer in Kinninmonth, parish of Ceres, died in December 1695. In his inventory, given up by his widow, his “free gear” is valued at £369.[4] John Gourlay married, in June 1674, Elizabeth Carstares, of the parish of Kilconquhar.[5] His son John, farmer at Denhead in the parish of Ceres, died prior to the 10th November 1723.[6]

John Gourlay, farmer at Denhead, had by his wife, Helen Black, an eldest son Robert, who was born 27th October 1704.[7] He succeeded to his father’s lease of Denhead farm, and on the 14th November 1737 received in feu the mill lands of Craigrothie.[8] He married Barbara, daughter of William Beath, residing at Kilmuck, parish of Scoonie, and by her had four sons, William, John, Oliver, and David.[9]

Oliver, the third son, was baptized on the I8th August 1740. Having some years engaged in legal pursuits at Edinburgh, he returned to his native county. In April 1774 he had sasine of the lands of Newton Leys, Bonnybanks, Newbigging, and others, in the parish of Ceres; and in April 1779 he obtained the lands of Balhilly, Craigrothie Mill, and the Mains of Scotstarvet.[10]

In acquiring these and other lands, Oliver Gourlay was led to believe that by a course of high farming he would attain opulence. Ardent in his enterprises, he in 1780 invited the Town Council of St Andrews to construct a superior road between their city and his estate, assuring them that thereby they “would eternize their names.[11] Impressed by his agricultural activities, capitalists extended to him a large credit, so that prior to 1803 he was enabled to purchase the estate of Kilmaron, near Cupar-Fife, of which the modern rental was upwards of £3000.[12] But Mr Gourlay failed in his agricultural adventures, and disposing of his lands, he retired from public concerns. He died on the 10th October 1819 in his eightieth year.[13]

Oliver Gourlay married in 1774 Janet, only daughter of Thomas Fleming, tenant in Nether Friarton; she died 10th October 1827 at the age of seventy-three.[14] Of the marriage were born two sons, Robert Fleming and Thomas; also five daughters, Catharine, Barbara, Janet, Helen, and Margaret.[15]

Robert Fleming Gourlay, the elder son, was born on the 24th March 1778.[16] After studying for several sessions at the University of St Andrews, he began a political career by printing a pamphlet on Reform, and covertly distributing copies throughout the county. As his opinions were extreme, and his mode of propagating them obnoxious, it was determined to charge him with sedition. From this difficulty Mr Gourlay made an escape by removing to England and there renting a small farm at Deptford in Kent. Subsequently emigrating to Canada, he there acquired a large tract of land, on which he endeavoured to induce his countrymen to make settlements. On the resources of Canada he published a work in three volumes; also a number of pamphlets. Returning from America, he made a progress throughout Great Britain setting forth his views on public affairs, more especially on emigration. Having experienced some inattention at the hands of Henry, afterwards Lord Brougham, he in the lobby of the House of Commons attacked him with a horsewhip, an escapade which led to his being sent to prison. During a long career he committed many other extravagances; but in private life he was generous, humane, and circumspect. He died on the 1st August 1863, at the age of eighty-five. In the family burying-ground at Ceres, he has been careful to denote his descent from “Ingelramus Gourlay, who came from England with Prince William about the year 1174.

Robert Fleming Gourlay was twice married, but his race is extinct in the male line.

End Notes

  1. Ceres Parish Register.
  2. Fifeshire Register of Sasines.
  3. St Andrews Com. Register.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ceres Parish Register. Elizabeth Carstares was a member of the landed family of Carstares of Kilconquhar, to which belonged the celebrated Principal Carstares of Edinburgh.
  6. Ceres Parish Register.
  7. Ceres Parish Register.
  8. Fifeshire Register of Sasines.
  9. Ceres Parish Register.
  10. Fifeshire Register of Sasines.
  11. St Andrews Town Council Records.
  12. Parliamentary Returns — Lands and Heritages, 1874.
  13. Tombstone Inscription in Ceres churchyard.
  14. Tombstone Inscription in Ceres churchyard.
  15. Ibid.
  16. Ceres Parish Register.
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