Inheritance of Fernie Castle during the Balfour Family in Belize:
Florentin Adinulty (fl. 1510);
recovered by 1527 by Walter Fernie (d. 1551);
to son, who sold 1582 to William Fernie of Foxtoun... sold c.1605 to Sir Michael Balfour (d. 1619), 1st Lord Balfour of Burleigh;
to daughter, Margaret (d. 1639), Baroness Balfour of Burleigh, wife of Robert Arnot (later Balfour) (d. 1663), Baron Balfour of Burleigh in right of his wife;
to son, John Balfour (d. 1697), 3rd Baron Balfour of Burleigh;
to younger son, Lt-Col. the Hon. John Balfour (d. 1725), who was attainted for his part in the '15 and whose estates were seized by the Crown but granted again in 1720 and 1738 to his son, Arthur Balfour (d. 1746);
to son, Sandford Balfour (1741-c.1767);
to brother, John Balfour (c.1743-95);
to brother Francis Balfour (c.1744- 1818);
to son, Francis Balfour (1779-1854);
to son, Maj. Francis Walter Balfour (1830-1909);
to son, William Keir Balfour (1869-1941);
to widow Mary Balfour (d. 1952) and then to his nephew, Francis Keir Balfour (1905-74), who sold 1960 for use as a hotel.
The core of Fernie Castle near Letham (Fife) is a 16th century tower, perhaps begun for Florentin Adinulty, who was granted the lands of Fernie in 1510 on condition that he build a sufficient house of stone and lime. If so, it was probably raised and enlarged late in the 16th century after the Fernie family recovered possession, and by the late 16th century the house consisted of a four-storey main block with two projecting towers at its western end: a taller crowstepped-gabled stair tower on the south side, and a round tower corbelled out to a diagonally set rectangular cap house on the north side.
The castle and estate seem to have been sold in about 1605 to Sir Michael Balfour, 1st Lord Balfour of Burleigh, who was appointed James VI and I's Ambassador to the Duke of Tuscany and Lorraine in 1606. He died leaving as his sole heiress his daughter Margaret (d. 1639), whose husband, Robert Arnot (d. 1663) took the name Balfour and succeeded to both the Balfour of Burleigh title and estates in her right.
In 1697, on the death of the 3rd Lord Balfour of Burleigh, Fernie passed to his younger son, the Hon. John Balfour (d. 1725), a Lt-Col. in the army, who declared for the Jacobites in the 1715 uprising. As part of the reprisals against those who had supported the Pretender, his estates were seized by the Crown. John's son, Arthur Balfour (d. 1746), had however, remained loyal to the Hanoverian cause, and in 1720 he received a grant of his father's estates. It was probably soon after this that he added a three-storey residential block to the east side of the old tower at Fernie Castle, which now forms the principal part of the house.
When Arthur died in 1746 he was succeeded in turn by his three sons: Sandford (d. 1769), John (d. 1795) and Francis (d. 1818). The last named returned from a career with the East India Company as a surgeon in India in 1807 and occupied his final years by giving the castle castellated additions in the 'toy fort' style, including the porch in front of the stair tower and a single-storey western extension with a battlemented parapet, which hid the service court. Probably at the same time, he constructed the stables and kennels across the park, built around two courtyards: these have now been converted as hotel accommodation. In c.1844-49, his son, another Francis Balfour (1779-1854), remodeled the 18th century eastern extension to the designs of Alexander Blyth or Alexander Mitchell, both who were involved in some capacity. They made a new front door, added crowsteps to the gable-end, and built a Baronial extension at the back and a conical-roofed tower at the north-east angle, as well as remodeling the interior. The decorative features of the interiors are now mostly of the 1840s and include a pleasant double drawing room on the first floor of the east block, and fine circular bedrooms in the big tower at the west end. The room next to the drawing room has a grey marble chimneypiece which is more likely to date from the 1815 alterations.
The house remained in the possession of the Balfour family until 1960, when Francis Keir Balfour sold it for development as an hotel. Since then, a round ballroom has been added at the rear, and since 1996, the once yellow-ochre colored harling which unified the appearance of the house has been stripped off, at the cost of damage to its appearance and the protection of its fabric.
Cross (2009 data shows that this cross structure has disappeared)
After the 17th century, the walls were painted with yellow Harlem
Fernie Castle comprises a tall 16th century L-plan tower, unusually developed, to which considerable additions have been made in the late 17th century and later, the walls harled and yellow-washed.
The lands originally belonged to MacDuff, Earl of Fife, who traditionally had a castle on this site (A H Millar 1895) but by the 15th century were owned by the Fernies, who sold them to an Arnot in 1580. The style of architecture may indicate him to be the builder, but the little cross which very unusually crowns the gable of the stair-wing might well indicate a pre-Reformation date of erection in the early 16th century.
N Tranter 1962-70; A H Millar 1895; RCAHMS 1933.
Fernie Castle, still occupied, is as described above. Two incised crosses may be seen on the wall of the later addition built against the S wing, and there are two further crosses on the gables possibly suggesting its use as a religious establishment at some time.
Visited by OS (D S) 2 November 1956.
As described. Now a hotel.
Visited by OS (W D J) 18 May 1970.
History of the Balfour family in Burleigh
The Balfour family of Balgarvie acquired the lands of Burleigh in Kinross-shire by charter in 1456, and Burleigh became their principal residence in the 16th century. The property descended in the male line down to the time of Michael Balfour (d. 1577), whose only child, Margaret (d. 1590), married Sir James Balfour (d. 1584) of Pittendreich and Montquhanie. Sir James was a significant player in the high-stakes politics of late 16th century Scotland and exhibited very little morality in his determined pursuit of personal advantage. He ended up being attainted for treason in 1579 and his estates were seized by the Crown, while he fled abroad. Although he was eventually permitted to return to Scotland, he was never rehabilitated, and only after his death was Burleigh fully returned to his widow and son, Sir Michael Balfour (d. 1619), who in 1607 was created Lord Balfour of Burleigh. Sir Michael seems to have been almost as determined in his pursuit of personal advancement as his father had been, but either his abilities or the tenor of the times ensured his life was less turbulent than his father's. He married twice, but like his grandfather produced only one daughter, Margaret (d. 1639), who duly succeeded him as Baroness Balfour of Burleigh. In 1606 she married Robert Arnot, who took the name Balfour, and received a new charter of the estates at Burleigh and Fernie Castle on his father-in-law's resignation in 1607. Robert Balfour sat in the Scottish Parliament in right of his wife, and in the 1640s became an important figure, serving several times as President of the Parliament. At the Restoration, he was excepted from the Act of Indemnity and heavily fined for his role in the Civil War and Commonwealth periods, but he died soon afterwards. His son, John Balfour (c.1620-97), 3rd Lord Balfour of Burleigh, divided his property between his sons, with the elder, Robert Balfour (1651-1713), 4th Lord Balfour of Burleigh, receiving Burleigh, and the second son, Lt-Col. the Hon. John Balfour (d. 1725) receiving Fernie. Both John Balfour and his nephew, Robert Balfour (1687-1757), 5th Lord Balfour of Burleigh, joined the Jacobite cause during the 1715 rebellion and were arrested and attainted for treason, their estates being seized by the Crown. John Balfour's son, Arthur Balfour (d. 1746), had however, remained loyal to the Hanoverian succession, and in 1720 he recovered possession of Fernie Castle; he was probably responsible for enlarging the house soon afterwards. The Burleigh estate was sold at auction in 1723 and bought by the 5th Lord's sister, the Hon. Margaret Balfour (d. 1769), although she sold it again before her death, at which point the family's connection with Burleigh was permanently severed.
Arthur Balfour had three sons who succeeded in turn to possession of Fernie Castle. The youngest of the three, Francis Balfour (c.1744-1818), who inherited in 1795, had spent his working lifetime as a physician and surgeon with the East India Company in India, and only finally retired to Scotland in 1807. He appears to have amused himself in his declining years by making castellated additions to Fernie Castle in a rather charming 'cardboard Gothic' style, and he died at the house in 1818. His son and heir, also Francis Balfour (1779-1854), had followed his father into the East India Company's service and was a customs officer in India until 1824. Once back in Scotland, he married and raised a family of three sons, and in the 1840s he turned his attention to a more extensive remodeling of Fernie Castle, which essentially produced the house we see today. In 1862, his eldest son, Maj. Francis Walter Balfour (1830-1909), attempted to claim the barony of Balfour of Burleigh, which had been suspended under the attainder of 1715 for nearly a century and a half. Protracted hearings by the Committee of Privileges of the House of Lords eventually determined that although Francis was the heir male of the last Lord, the terms of the letters patent by which the peerage had been granted meant that in default of a son to inherit, the title could pass through the female line. The rightful claimant was therefore a descendant of the 5th Lord's younger sister, who had married into the Bruces of Kennet, and he duly succeeded when the attainder was reversed in 1869. This explains why the surname of the current Lords Balfour of Burleigh is Bruce rather than Balfour.
Major F.W. Balfour was married in 1866 to Jane Amelia (1840-98), the daughter and heiress of Patrick Small Keir (d. 1889) of Kindrogan (Perthshire), and on his father-in-law's death, this property came into the Balfour family. Conveniently, Major Balfour had two sons, and the elder, Francis Balfour (1867-1926), inherited Kindrogan while the younger, William Keir Balfour (1869-1941) received Fernie Castle. William died childless, but Francis was succeeded by the energetic Francis Keir Balfour (1905-74), who on the death of his uncle's widow in 1952, also inherited the Fernie Castle estate. F.K. Balfour and his wife had no children, and perhaps because there was no close relative to succeed to the estates and continue the Balfour name, in 1960 he sold both Kindrogan and Fernie Castle within a few months and retired to a Dirnanean, a smaller house adjacent to the Kindrogan estate which he had bought in the 1920s. The Kindrogan estate went to the Forestry Commission and the house in due course became a Field Studies Centre, while Fernie Castle became a hotel.
Lords Balfour of Burleigh (1607)
Michael Balfour, 1st Lord Balfour of Burleigh (d. 1619)
Margaret Balfour, 2nd Lady Balfour of Burleigh (d. 1639), married to Robert Balfour, 2nd Lord Balfour of Burleigh (d. 1663)
John Balfour, 3rd Lord Balfour of Burleigh (d. 1688)
Robert Balfour, 4th Lord Balfour of Burleigh (d. 1713)
Robert Balfour, 5th Lord Balfour of Burleigh (d. 1757) (forfeit 1715)
Heirs but for the attainder:
Margaret Balfour (d. 1769), sister of the 5th Lord
Robert Bruce, Lord Kennet (1718–1785), nephew of Margaret
Alexander Bruce (1755–1808), son of Robert
Robert Bruce (1795–1864), son of Alexander
Alexander Hugh Bruce, 6th Lord Balfour of Burleigh (1849–1921) (restored 1869)
George John Gordon Bruce, 7th Lord Balfour of Burleigh (1883–1967)
Robert Bruce, 8th Lord Balfour of Burleigh (1927–2019)
Victoria Bruce-Winkler, 9th Lady Balfour of Burleigh (b. 1973)
The heir presumptive is the present holder's daughter the Hon. Laetitia Bruce-Winkler, Mistress of Burleigh (b. 2007).
Quarterly, 1st & 4th: Argent, on a chevron sable, an otter's head erased of the first (Balfour of that Ilk); 2nd & 3rd: Or, a saltire and a chief gules, the latter charged with a mullet argent (Bruce)
Creation date 16 July 1607
Peerage Peerage of Scotland
Motto Balfour: Omne solum forti patria ("Every country is a brave man's homeland")