Sheddans of Lochie

An account of this family is given in “The Sheddans of Lochie (A notable Auchterarder family” Researched and produced by James E. McIntyre, Alexander D. Shedden and Kenneth G. Young

Copies of this publication are held in the library in Auchterarder and in the library of the Scottish Genealogical Society in Edinburgh.

The attachéd genealogical chart shows the descendants of James Sheddan, smith in Drummond castle, beside Muthill in Perthshire, within the Barony of the Drummonds of Perth. Mungo, James’s son, was the smith nearby in Strowan.

Clearly, Mungo was not the first Sheddan in the area. Cromwell’s Roll of 1653 shows James Schaddon, elder, and James Schaddon younger as owners of small pendicles adjacent to the town of Auchterarder. Mungo makes his appearance towards the end of the seventeenth century but because of his age, which is given as 80 years, he must have been born in the early part of that century. Mungo is mentioned in the Register of the Privy Council which, on 25th October 1688, listed those small heritors who were to be excused from providing military service. A James Sheddane in Auchterarder appears on the same list but no mention is made of the precise location of the properties belonging to the owners.

It is unlikely that either James Scheddon, the elder, listed in the roll for 1653 or Mungo Sheddane, aged 80 in 1688, can be regarded as regarded as the earliest of that name to be found in Strathearn. Whether, in spite of the difference in spelling of their names, they were related is not known but at least they must have belonged to the same generation. The fact that there are no earlier records need not rule out the possibility that there were Sheddans living there before 1600. It is therefore tempting to conclude that when Mungo Sheddan was born in (say) his family had already been settled in Perthshire for some time before that year. In support of this one could observe that although Saint Mungo is regarded as the patron saint of Glasgow, and is buried in the cathedral there, Mungo was not a common name in the West of Scotland and the only other recorded Sheddan of that name outwith Strathearn was born in Falkirk in 1686. Nevertheless, the geographical distribution described above suggests that Mungo’s ancestors came from the West at an earlier date. Although not impossible, it seems unlikely that the name Sheddan evolved independently in Strathearn, bearing in mind the possibly later introduction of English into what had been a Celtic speaking region and also the existence of the Shedden place names in the West.

Strathearn was the heartland of the Drummonds. Besides the Barony of Auchterarder various branches of the family held extensive properties in neighbouring parishes: Machany (previously Mechanie), which took up most of the northern part of Blackford parish, Belliclone in Madderty parish, Innerpeffray, and a number of smaller properties in the parish of Muthill adjacent to Drummond Castle. Nearer to Crieff, the Drummonds were represented in Monzievard and Strowan, and in Crieff itself. In addition, further away to the south-west, they had considerable influence in the cathedral city of Dunblane.

Mention has already been made of the older James Schaddon in Auchterarder and Mungo Sheddane, the elderly heritor, with reference to the question of which of these two was the senior. This is not to say that there were no other Sheddans in the same area at that period, because traces of not a few families have come to light. However, in many of these cases it is not possible to link them together to form a coherent family relationship nor to show that they were other than remotely related to the branch that ultimately held Lochie. However, although the origins of the Sheddans in Strathearn may be obscure it seems reasonably certain that many were either in the employment of one of the landed magnates or were their tenants and also that they occupied a position superior to the landless labouring and serving class and to have been relatively well-off in comparison to these lower classes.

More specifically, it may be noted that from the time of Mungo, the 80-year old heritor, and the elder James in Auchterarder, the records of the Commissary Office in Dunblane reveal that no fewer than seven members of the Sheddan family were, or were connected to, blacksmiths to trade. (In defining them in this way one has to think of them as craftsmen as distinct from the typical village blacksmith of later years). Furthermore, there were strong links between these smiths and others who were close to the Drummonds of Drummond Castle, latterly Earls of Perth. It is known, for example, that there were smiths of the name of Sheddan in the parish of Muthill (which almost certainly means they were on Drummond property) before 1700. (James Scheden, elder, was probably a smith in Drummond). There was another Sheddan smith in Blackford Parish, on the property of the Drummonds of Mechany and, further away, there were more at Dunblane where the Drummonds had extensive interests. Some may have been in the direct employment of the Drummond family, while others may have been their tenants. It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that there was a succession of Sheddan smiths who, in time, came to enjoy the position of hereditary smiths.

This dispersion of the Sheddans may of course have happened as a result of a gradual migration northwards from their possible roots in South-West Scotland rather than a movement outwards from some central Strathearn source. However, a study of various Christian names suggests that the Dunblane Sheddans, for instance, may well have come from the Auchterarder area. By the mid-1750’s the Sheddan families in Dunblane, Muthill, Stirling and Strowan had disappeared and almost all the remaining Sheddans around Auchterarder were related to the family that by then had acquired Lochie. However, other Sheddans were beginning to appear in the city of Perth and environs, including one or two families of smiths. The evidence of names, again, suggests that at least some of them may have migrated from the above-mentioned areas. Indeed, the bulk of the Perth city Sheddens (as the name was spelt there) must have come from other parts of Strathearn, since at that time there was very little movement of Sheddans(ens) east from Ayrshire etc. except across the Central Belt to Edinburgh.

The Sheddans of Lochie started as landowners in a very small way. Their earliest known ancestor, Mungo, smith in Strowan, His eldest son, John (m Janet Foot 1691, d 1736), The Foots held property in the Ochils and in Glendevon and it seems that Janet was connected with the latter Foots. After his marriage John moved to Auchterarder where by 1702 he had acquired three crofts from Alexander Barnet, a burgess of Auchterarder and maltman in Edinburgh, We may assume that his activities were mainly centred in and around Auchterarder, catering as a merchant to the needs of the agricultural community as regards both live and dead stock. In addition, he may also have assisted his customers as regards their financial commitments, lending money when necessary on the security of their property. By 1702 he had acquired three crofts which at one time had been owned by Alexander Barnet, a burgess of Auchterarder and maltman in Edinburgjh.

In 1706 John acquired several properties, including Lochie, from the Marquis of Montrose for around £500 sterling and a variety of feudal obligations. That John was able to find what in those days was a substantial sum of money confirms that his previous activities, and perhaps inheritance, had brought him prosperity. John was well established at Lochie when the rebellion of 1715 took place. During that time the Jacobite army stopped in Strathearn for some weeks, before the final advance to Sheriffmuir, and Lochie was occupied as an outpost. John was given instructions to go across to Glendevon to round up and deliver 200 remounts and fodder needed by the Jacobite cavalry. This appeared to be the extent of John’s involvement in the rebellion. However, it suggests that John may well have had a horse or pony carrier route through Glendevon to the Forth. At his death in 1736 the Inventory of his estate and his Testament-Dative (for he left no will) both documents refer to him as John of Lochie”, inferring that he owned the lands generally recognised by the name “Lochie”.

Lochie was to remain in Sheddan ownership for the next 200 years or so. In general it could be said that the family was able to take its place among the leaders of the fraternity in the Auchterarder part of Strathearn, having advanced one rung up the social ladder. Thus, they became connected with the Mailers, one of the oldest of the Auchterarder families, His elder daughter, Elizabeth married William Elder, a schoolmaster, and one of their sons and one of their sons became a lawyer and notary public. John’s second daughter, Margaret, married Robert Elder, a portioner in Auchterarder. In addition, two of John’s sons, John and William, married into the Barnet family which boasted members who were tenants of some of the more substantial farms in the barony.

John’s eldest son, Mungo (m Margaret Haldane 1725, d 1746) had eight children of whom John (m since his first two children, Mungo and George, were baptised in Haddington in 1750 and 1752 respectively. He later returned to Auchterarder for his next child was born there in 1753 and two more thereafter.

John, eldest son of Mungo (m Margaret Haldane 1725, d 1736), succeeded to Lochie on the death of his father, having, late in 1769, been served heir to his grandfather, the first John of Lochie. His uncle, William (m Susan Barnet 1733, d 1788) became the third owner of Lochie, having been sold Lochie by his elder brother John who around 1760 moved to Stirling and set up as an inkle manufacturer (inkle being the name for a kind of linen tape or the thread or yarn from which it is made).

In 1774 William transferred Lochie to his son John (b `1735, d 1831). William died in 1788 and Lochie passed to John, who became the fourth owner of Lochie. John’s life at Lochie appears to have followed a relatively untroubled course over the last thirty years of his ownership. During this period he prospered, being a careful, though conservative, manager of his property. Being single, and with no close family obligations to erode his profits, he was able to accumulate a considerable sum of money which, since his life style was simple to the point of being parsimonious, he tended to lend out at interest or give to others rather than spend on himself. He therefore devoted a great deal of his time and energy to charitable causes. Soon after the beginning of the 19th century he established and endowed a school, for in its growing state the Parish School in Auchterarder was inadequate to meet the needs of the people. In 1816 he executed a deed of mortification under which the rents of Barnet’s Croft (one of his properties) together with money which he provided, formed the basis of an Endowment Fund to be used for the maintenance of the school (situated beside the Croft) and the payment of the schoolmaster’s salary. In addition, he took a close interest in the Parish Church and contributed liberally to its charitable fund. Rather later, he was in the habit of making a distribution of any money he could spare among those of his more needy relations.

John obviously gave a lot of thought to what was to happen to Lochie after his death. With one exception (his cousin Margaret) he had no close relatives, nonenof nhis own name in or around Auchterarder and he had long outlived his own generation and many of the following generation as well. This was the penalty for having lived so long, never having married and having the misfortune to lose almost all his brothers and sisters at an early age. He therefore determined to give the greater part of Lochie to his cousin once removed – James Sheddan (b 1764, m Helen Clark 1800, d 1838), the carter in Kincardine. John’s will was made about two years before his death and altered by codicil a year later. Although contested, the will was eventually allowed to stand and James became the fifth owner of Lochie.

James was already aged 67 when he became James Sheddan of Lochie. Considering his age it is not surprising that his tenure of Lochie was brief. He died in 1838 and was succeeded at Lochie by his eldest son William who appears to have commenced a programme of rationalisation to bring his inheritance into line with the needs of the time. By 1862 Lochie was no longer the centre of a small estate and had become just one moderately-sized farm with few cottages and no crofts on the outskirts. A new farm house had been built and there was also a range of new farm buildings.

Although William and his younger brother Alexander had no children their brother James (who had married Mary Connel in Auchterarder in 1846), had by 1860 no less than eight children. With such a large family life would not have been easy on his comparatively small holding and James eventually sold part of the holding and emigrated to New Zealand in the following year. Following James’ death in 1888 Lochie passed in turn to James’s eldest son and heir, also called James, who was resident in New Zealand. In 1871 this younger James conveyed Lochie to himself and his surviving brothers and sisters in New Zealand. At the same time, Barnet’s Croft was sold by the trustees of John Sheddan’s Charity School. William’s widow (Mary Ann Matthew) remained at Lochie meantime and this property was not sold until after her death in 1906. Lochie finally passed out of Sheddan ownership in 1908, the purchaser being James Taylor who had a Mailer connection. After so many Sheddan/Mailer marriages it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that some Sheddan blood still flows in the veins of the present owners, in which case the story of the Sheddans of Lochie may be said to be not quite ended.

As an addendum to the Lochie story one may note the following entries in the London microfiche records:

  • Peter c 12 April 1795, son of Mungo Sheddan and Hannah
  • Harriet c 14 Nov. 1797, daughter of Mungo Sheddan and Hannah
  • Peter m Fanny Spalding 7 April 1821 St Pancras Old Church
  • Harriet m George Olley 27 Jan 1823 Finsbury, St Luke Old Church
  • Peter m Sarah Frances Johnson 14 March 1854 Stepney, St Thomas
  • Peter c 15 Nov. 1857 Shoreditch St Leonards

It is almost certain that the Mungo Sheddan above is the second son of John Sheddan of Lochie (b 1726) and Isobel Dickson. As such one would expect him to be named after his paternal grandfather, Mungo Sheddan (m Margt Haldane 1725, d 1746). In addition, Peter was the name of a nephew of Mungo, the son of Mungo’s younger brother George.

Sheddans of Lochie