The marriage of David with Maud a grand niece of the Conqueror led on his accession to the throne to a fresh influx of Anglo Normans into Scotland, amongst whom was Hugh De Morville who was appointed High Constable of the Kingdom and Lord of the Barony of Cuninghame, and the arrival of Norman and of William Venator must have been almost contemporaneous as the latter appears as one of the witnesses with Hugh de Morville to the inquisition by David when Prince of Cumbria of the lands pertaining to the Church of Glasgow ad 1116.
The whole of the signatures attached to this document are those of men of high rank and consideration, and with a reciprocity of evidence they establish beyond cavil the distinguished position held at Court by the subscribers.
Nisbet in treating of the antiquity of the family of Hunter makes mention of a charter of King Alexander III. (Quam in Capella nostra irrevocabile fecimus, anno gratiae 1271) in which the estate of Manners resigned by Nicholas Corbet into the hands of the Crown is conferred upon William Baddebie or Bakby with the exception of such lands as had been granted to Norman Hunter by King Malcolm IV, (Excepta terra quondam Normani Venatoris quod Rex Malcolmus frater Regis Wilmi. avi nostri ei dedit) , and this document is likewise referred to in the Haddington Collections.
In his Remarks on "Ragman Roll", the same author states that "Aylmar de la Huntar" is for certain the Hunters of Arneil, designed of Hunterston and of that Ilk. In an ancient bounding charter of lands it (Ardneil) is bounded with "terris Normani Venatoris", which is plainly the lands of Arneil Hunter, sic the lands of Hunterston; and it appears therefore highly probable that this second grant may have been conferred upon him consequent on his appointment to the charge of Royal Forests in the neighbourhood, an office which there exists abundant evidence to prove became hereditary with his successors and of which the last mention in a Royal Charter is recorded in a grant by King James V, dated 31st May 1527, by which the island of Little Cumbrae is conferred on Robert Hunter of Hunter stounc and Janet Montgomerie, his spouse and their heirs "of which island and lands with pertinents the said Robert and his predecessors were in times past for us and for out predecessors the hereditary keepers".
John Huntar or Venator the next who appears is witness together with Gilbert brother of the Sheriff of Traquhair, to two deeds the one conveying the lands of Stobbow and the other the lands of Ingolfhiston, in the reign of Alexander II, and likewise to a deed by Malcolm the Constable, of the lands of Edulfiston in the reign of Alexander III.
We have already in our remarks on the Ragman Roll adverted to the Anglo Norman or Saxon lineage of the great majority of the subseribers to that document who were resident in Ayrshire and true to his Norman descent we find Aylmer de la Huntar of the County of Ayr one of the "Magnates Scotise" who, ad 1206, signed the noted submission to Edward I of England in the question of succession to the Scottish Crown between Bruce and Baliol. His name appears between those of his neighbours Robert de Boyvil or Boyle and Raulf do Eglintoun ancestors of the noble families who still possess the estates of Kelburne and of Eglintoun, adjoining that of Hunterston.
Thus far as to the origin of the Hunters of Hunterston. Their possessions were formerly far more considerable than at present much land having been alienated from time to time more especially by the great grandfather of the present proprietor. In addition to Hunterston and Campbelton which alone remain in the family they possessed, Annanhill-Huntar near Kilmaurs; Langmuir in that parish; and Hielies in Dalry in the county of Ayr; South Kames in the Great Cumbrae; the King's lands and the Island of Little Cumbrae; the Holy Isle or Lamlash with certain lands on the opposite shore of Arran, in the county of Bute; Meikle Calderwood in Lanarkshire and Inschok, Banblane, Muirhouse, Longholls, and Housefield of Brownlands in Forfarshire.
Amongst those descended or claiming descent from the parent stock of Hunterston may be named the following-:
1 Hunter or rby Hunter of Croyland Abbey, county Lincoln
2 Hunter of Restinct, county Forfar
3 Hunter of Long-Calderwood, county Lanark
4 Hunter of Kirkland, county Ayr
5 Hunter of Abbotshill, county Ayr now of Barjarg county Dumfries claiming descent from a younger son of Kentigern, or Mungo Hunter of whom presently, From this family are descended
6 Hunter of Thurston, county Haddington
7 Hunter of Doonholm, county Ayr
8 Hunter-Blair (Baronet) of Blairquhan, county Ayr
During the first eight descents of the Huntars but little is now to be found in addition to that above recorded, nor indeed can the name of the immediate successor of Aylmar de la Huntar with any certainty be affirmed. Many of the earliest charters and documents of the family have been lost in the troublous times of our history in which its members played their part or have perished owing to carelessness or neglect.
Even some of those very carefully perused by Crawfurd as above mentioned no longer find a place in the Hunterston charter chest and but for the record contained in the lands themselves it would have been impossible to bridge over the chasm thus ereated with aught more reliable than a theory more trustworthy than an assertion or to fill up the breach of forgotten names, save but with traditions more or less mythical or legendary But whilst the parchments have perished the broad aeres of which they told have remained and they in their integrity dispel all doubts and resolve all difficulties.
The next on record is
William Huntar of Arneil or Ardneil who obtained a Crown Charter from King Robert II, "for faithful services rendered", to that monarch of all that land of Arucle which had been held by "Andre Cambell militis", and had been duly resigned by him. This ancient charter which is in excellent preservation and the facsimile of which forms the frontispiece of this volume is the earliest original document now in the possession of the family, and is dated at Stirling the second day of May, in the fourth year of the King's reign (ad 1374) and runs as follows:-
"Robertus dci gratia Rex Scotorum Omnibus probis hominibus totius terre sue clericis et laicis salutem Sciatis nos dedisse conccssisse et hac presenti carta nostra confirmasso dilecto et fideli nostro Willmo Huntar pro fideli servicio suo nobis impenso et impendendo totam illam terram do Arnell cum pertinenciis que fuit Andre Cambell mi litis et quam idem Andreas non vi aut metn ductus nee errore lapsus sed mera et spontanea voluntate sua nobis per fustum et baculum sursum reddidit purcque et simpliciter resignavit ac totum jus et olameum quod in dicta terra cum pertinenciis babuit seu habere potuit pro se et heredibus suis omnino quietum clamauit in perpetum Tenend et Habend dicto Willmo et heredibus suis masculis do corpore suo legitime proercatis sou proereandis dc nobis et heredibus nostris in fcodo et hereditote per omncs rectos metas et divisas suas cum omnibus et singulis libertatibus commoditatibus aysiamentis et iustis pertinenciis quibuseunquo ad dictam terram spectantibus seu quo quomodo iuste spectare Tolentibus in futurum libere quiete plenarie integre bene et in pace Reddeddo inde annuatim nobis et heredibus nostris dictus Willmus et heredes sui predicti unum denarium argenti apud dictam terrara do Ainele ad fcstum pentecostes nomine albc firme tantum pro Wardis rcloviis maritagiis omnibus et aliis serviciis quibus cunque In cujus rei testimonium presenti carte nostre nostrum precessimus npponi Sigillum Testibus Venerabile in Christo patre Willmo Episcopo Suncti Andrec Johanne primogcnito nostro Comite de Carryk Sencscallo Scocic Roberto Com i to de Fyff et de Mencteth filio nostro dilecto Willmo Comite de Douglas Johanne de Carryk Cancellario Jacobo de Lindesay nepote nostro et Roberto de Erskyne militibus apud Strivelyne secundo die Maij anno Regni nostro quarto "
It would seem probable that the lands granted to Norman Huntar,and held by his descendants down to Aylmer de la Huntar - whom we have seen was an adherent of John Baliol were forfeited in the wars of succession either by Aylmer or as appears more probable by his immediate descendant, of whose name consequently no record as we have stated has been preserved.
Sir Andrew Campbell was doubtless the Knight of Loudon who was Sheriff of Ayr in 13 67, and who died in the reign of Robert II and he and his father Sir Duncan may have held the estate during the reigns of Robert I and David II William Huntar only obtaining reinstatement of the change of dynasty for faithful services rendered to King Robert II. It is possible however, that Sir Andrew Campbell may have held the hinds temporarily on a grant of non entry from the Crown such being a casualty of ordinary occurrence the Crown enjoying the privilege of giving away the non entry or escheat of its vassals.
As the next Laird of Arnele Huntar on record paid on his entry eleven years arrears of blench duty duly accounted for in the Exchequer Roll for 1447, in addition to the double fee as entry money it may be concluded that William Huntar died about the year 1436 and that his successor whose name has not come down to us died in the interval between 1436 and 1447 without paying fees on entry the next laird on record being probably the grandson of the above named William Huntar.
William Huntar of Arnele Huntar was infeft in his estate prior to 1447 as appears from the subjoined extract from the Exchequer Rolls the duplication of the blench duty of one penny in silver being payable to the Crown on entry only:-
"Idem compotans onerat Be &c &c &c Et de lid de albo firmo per duplicationem terrarum de Arncle Huntar per sasinam datam Willo Huntar de eisdem. Et de Xld, albe firme dictarura terrarum do Arnele IIuntar de undecim annis infra hoc computum"
This compt is dated 26th June 1447 He was infeft in Hielies in the Barony of Dalry on 5th March 1452, as appears from a charter by Andrew Lyn of that Ilk and an instrument following thereon executed at Irvine on that date, Archihald Craufurd of Pryveke, Alexr Huntar and John Huntar being among the witnesses.
Hunters of Hunterston, or, of that Ilk ... (Detailed History)
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Hunter Clan of Ayrshire
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