17th to 20th Century

Portlethen History
Stone Age
Pre 12th Century
13th - 16th Century
17th - 20th Century
The Villages

By 1618 Sir William Forbes, of Monymusk and Banchory, had a charter of Portlethen in favour of himself and his spouse, Elisabeth Wishart of Pitarrow. 

In the Autumn of 1654 “Sir Gilbert Menzies of Pitfodels, Knight, Heritable Proprietor of the half Barony Lands of Torry, Barony of Findon, Lands of Cookston and Badentoy, on the first part, Sir John Forbes, Heritable Proprietor of the other half of the Barony of Torry, with the consent of Robert Forbes of Barns, his Tutor, of the second part, and John Forbes, Elder and William Forbes, Younger of Leslie, Heritors of the Lands of Banchory, considering that there had been controversy and debate anent their meiths and marches, which had occasioned ‘many unnecessary jars, discontents and troubles to their great hurt and prejudice’, and to settle all former unhappy differences, by advice and pains of their worthy friends chosen and taken to that effect” entered into a formal deed defining the meiths and marches of said lands for all time coming. 

A few years earlier the estate of Portlethen had passed on to Robert Buchan who built the House of Portlethen, which was also known as Portlethen Castle. This castle was located at the site of where the "Mains of Portlethen" farm stands today. 

During his ownership the struggle of the Covenanters was taking place and Buchan suffered severely at their hands and it was noted “with his second sone efter his houss and ground wes plunderit, he takis the sea, and so ilk man schiftit for himself, pairt by sea and pairt be land as thay thocht best”. In 1677 George Buchan, at that time living in Lublin, Poland proved his descent as the only surviving son before a Bailie Court in Aberdeen and returned to take up proprietorship of the Lands of Portlethen. 

The next proprietor was Robert Patrie who had previously been Provost of Aberdeen on several occasions between 1664 and 1674. He received the honour of knighthood at the hands of Charles II. It was then Charles Chalmers, Patrie’s nephew, who succeeded him in the proprietorship of Portlethen. He studied Law at university but not liking the legal profession joined the military and eventually settled in Aberdeen in 1714. 

The Portlethen estate passed into the possession of Alexander Thomson, advocate and town clerk of Aberdeen, by way of public sale in the early 1700’s and by 1751 had found its way into the hands of James Thomson, also an advocate in Aberdeen. 

Towards the latter half of the eighteenth century the Portlethen estate had passed into the hands of the Auldjo family, of which George was Burgess and for some time provost of Aberdeen. 

Near the turn into the nineteenth century the owner of the estate of Portlethen was Sir William Johnston, also of Hilton, who ran it until he started encountering financial problems and, facing bankruptcy he was forced to sell the lands around 1815.  

It was at this point that James Gammell bought the estate and bequeathed it to one of his sons, Ernest who remained an absentee landlord throughout his life. On his death the lands passed on to his second wife Rosa Ann Bertram who later remarried and became Rosa Ann Taylor.

The titles of the lands remained within the Taylor family until the mid to late 20th century. If you own an older property within the Portlethen area there is a good chance that there will be a reference to Rosa Ann Taylor within your title deeds. The Taylor family never stayed on the estate of Portlethen but Rosa Ann kept her finger on the pulse of the district by ensuring that she was kept up to date with estate matters and would liaise regularly with the Walker Family (famous local farmers) to ensure the estate was managed properly.

Rosa Ann Taylor.

At some point in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s and, between the ownerships of Auldjo, Johnston and Gammell, the Estate of Portlethen and the surrounding lands increasingly began to be broken up, and a portion ultimately being bequeathed to Aberdeen University. The original baronies and lands were being further broken down around this time, so that in addition to Findon and Portlethen themselves, we begin to see individual estates such as Clashfarquhar, Cookston, Causeyport, Redmyre, Badentoy and Bishopton being mentioned on a regular basis. 

From around the mid 1800’s onwards it was also likely that landowners were beginning to play a lesser role in the area, and farmers were beginning to emerge as the face of the community, particularly with the developments that were occurring in the agricultural sector at this time.