In 1453 ho is recorded in the Exchequer Roll as Custos or Hereditary Keeper of the Forest of the Little Cumray an island which was then a Royal Forest well stocked with deer and rabbits and affording pasturage to a certain number of cattle. On the erection of the Principality of Scotland by Robert III in 1404, this island was included in its domains Munroe, who visited it in 1584, calls it "Cumbray of the Dais because there is many Dayis intill it", but they have entirely disappeared and the remembrance of their existence is not even preserved traditionally in the locality The rabbits are however still extremely numerous and tend to raise to a very respectable amount the rental of the island.
The salary of the Hereditary Forester was at first twenty shillings per annum and subsequently two chalders of oats which was continued to the Earl of Eglintoun on his obtaining possession of the Little Cumbray in 1535 as appears by the following extract from an order by James Colvile Comptroler to the Sheriff of Bute dated 28th November 1536:-
"Schirreff of Bute Ze sail answer and pay to my Lord of Eglintoun twa chalder of aittis of this last zeir bigane siclik as ze did to the Lard of Hunterstoun. for Litil Cumray ....And giff ze failze hercintill I haiff ordanit to put ze to the home for I haiff ressauit Ira the said Erll payment as vsc and wont is "
Certain rights of pasturage and probably other contingent perquisites were attached to the office William Hunter, died about the year 1454, and was succeeded by his son Archibald Huntar of Arnele Huntar, who not being of age at his father's death was not infeft in the estate until 1456, and for the same reason John Huntar above mentioned obtained on the death of his brother William the office of Hereditary Forester which he retained during the lifetime of his nephew. This John had a son named Archibald who was appointed Receiver of the salary on his father's account as is shown by the Roll of 1465.
Prior to 1462 Archibald Huntar married Margaret Ker daughter of William Ker laird of Kersland as appears from the following Discharge by his cousins, Robert Crawfurde of Auchinhames and Archibald Crawfurde of Pryveke, dated 14th June 1462:-
"Be it maidc kennyt till all men be thir present Iettoris ws Robert Crawfurde off Auchinhamis ando Archibaldo Oawfurdo off Pryveke coniunctly and seuerally till hafe resawyte and fullely till haffo hade be the handis off ane vorschipfull man Vilzame Ker Larde of Kerislande in dawry ane hundroth mark off vsuale monc off the kynrio off Scotland for all and hall the sovmc aeht till ws be tho said Vilzam for the marriage off oure cusynge Archibalde Huntar Larde off Ardneill pertenandc till ws the quhilk forsuth mariage we scllytand gaffe to the saidc Vilzame Ker to his dochtir Margarete Ker for the sayde sovmc of ane lmndrcth mark as sayde is Off the quhilk for sayde sovme of ane hundrcth mark we halde ws woyll content ande payit and in all thingc acht for the saide mariage fullely assythit for euermar and the forsayde Vilzame his ayeris and all vtheris quham it afferis or may affer for ws our ayeris and all vtheris quhilkis has or may haffe thar off be law or resoun ony interes qnhitclamys bo thir oure presento letteris In witnes off the quhilk thing we the said Robert Crawfurde and Archibaldo Crawfurde to thir oure present letteris of quhitelamo and discharge we haff hungyng ouro propir scillis at Achinhamys the forten day off the moneth off June the yher off oure Lorde a thousande four hundreth sexty and twa yheris "
He died prior to 1487 in which year his son John Huntar of Huntarstoune or of that Ilk was infeft in his estate, and paid dues on his sasine in the lands of Almolach (Holy Isle, or Lamlash) and in the office of Hereditary Forester. He received his fee of twenty shillings at Gustos of the Little Cumbray until 1461, in the compt of which year he is paid, "for that time only as the King receives no advantage from that island"
The salary was probably restored when King James IV was in Bute in 1495, as John Huntar was paid the usual sum in the accounts of 1496, and the years following. He married Margaret daughter of John Second Lord Catheart by Margaret daughter of Sir William Douglas of Drumlanrig On the 13th June 1505, he produced the charter granted to his ancestor by King Robert II before the Court of the Itinerating Justices in Ayr, to prove that his lands were held blench of the Crown for payment of one silver penny in full of all duties and services which holding was duly recognized and he was exonerated from all other claims.
His father in law Lord Catheart was one of the witnesses to this writ He was infeft in the lands of Hielies on the 9th April 1511. He was killed at Flodden on the 9th September 1513 and was succeeded by his son, 1513 by son Robert Huntar of Huntarston or of that ilk who was a minor at the time his father fell but who was infeft by John Lyn of that Ilk as superior of the lands of Hielies on the 6th May 1515. He married Janet, daughter of John Montgomerie of Giffen a branch of the Eglintoun family and widow of John Craufurd of Craufurdland between that date and 1522, as he resigned Hielies in the hands of the superior and was again infect along with his wife in conjunct fee on the 7th November of that year.
During the troublous times consequent upon the Battle of Flodden and the minority of James V the Royal Forest of the Cumray was overrun by those with whom right was might and the young laird of Hunterston finding himself powerless to prevent their aggressions, without supply or help seems to have represented the matter to the King and prayed for assistance for on this ground the Regent Albany in the name of the King granted on the 28th October 1525, a charter to Hugh first Earl of Eglintoun as Fiar Correkar, and supplear of the ile of Litill Comeray setting forth after the customary preamble that:-
"that forsumekle as we and our derrest cotising and tutour Johne Dnke of Albany ete protectour and governour of mire rcnlme ar sikerlie aduertist that the ile of Litill Comeray liand within our baillerie of Cunynghame and schirefdome of Are is waistit ami distroyit be divers personis that slais the dere and cunyugis thairof and pasturis bestis thairintill maisterfully be way of dede without licence tollerance or consent of Robert Huntare of Huntarstoun forestar of heretagc of the said ile the quhilk pereonis the said Robert may nocht resist because he is nocht of substance and power without supple and help Tharcfor we with advise and consent of our said tutour and governour for reformacioun gud reule and saufte of the said ile in tyme cummyng hes maid constitut and ordanit and be thir our letteris niakis constitutis and ordanis our louit cousing and counsalour Hew Erie of Eglingtoun and his assignnis ane or man our fearis correkaris and supplearis of our said ile of Litill Comeray ete ete ete ete"
This charter was to endure until the King was fifteen years of age. Under it "Huntarstoun" appears to have retained certain rights of pasturage and on the 31st May 1527, he procured a charter from the Crown conferring upon him and his spouse full possession of the island which as the text runs the said Robert and his predecessors held as hereditary keepers of and under the King and his predecessors , "Quas quidem insulam et terras cum pertinenciis dictus Robertus et predeoessores sui de nobis et predeccssoribus nostris in cus todia hereditarie prins habuerunt".
The neighbouring proprietors on the mainland appear to have been very anxious to obtain possession of this much coveted island and notwithstanding the above charter, Robert son and heir of William Lord Sempill obtained a grant of it in 1532. He did not however long retain it for by an instrument dated the 12th November 1534 King James V revoked the said grant and confirmed that formerly made to Robert Huntar of Huntarstoun, who shortly after sold the island to the Earl of Eglintoun and made resignation of it in his favour in the hands of King James V from whom the Earl obtained a charter dated 16th March 1535, since which time it has continued the property of the Eglintoun family and has frequently served them as a place of refuge in troublous times.
On the 8th July 1527, Robert Huntar styled in the writ "Lord Huntarstoun", made over his rights in the Holy Isle or Island of Lamlash to James Lord Arran, by resignation, "ad perpetuam remanentiam". In 1532 he sold to William Wood of Bonnytown the lands of Inschok, Banblane, Muir House, Langholls, Housefield of Brownlands,and pertinents in Barony of Innirshallow and shire of Forfar which sale was confirmed by charter of James V on 15th September of that year.
In 1536 he sold the lands of Meikle Calderwood in Lanarkshire to James brother of Robert Hamilton of Torrance and Christian Stewart his spouse which sale was confirmed by James V by charter dated 1st June 1536 On the 25th February 1535 he obtained a charter from
Hugh first Earl of Eglintoun of the lands of Annanhill lying within the Lordship of Roberton and bailliary of Cuninghame, followed by a charter of confirmation by James V dated 16th March following and again by royal charter on 1st January 1541. In 1535 he acquired from William Cuninghame Lord Feuar of the Earldom of Glencairn and Lordship of Kilmaurs the lands of Campbeltown as appears by charter of sale dated 10th November and charter confirming the same by James V of 29th December of the same year. It would appear that he suffered from ill health as he was not present at the Walpynshawing of Cuninghame held at Irvine on the 15th October 1532 the roll bearing record.
The Lard of Hun tar and all his tenandis absent and this supposition is further borne out by the license granted on 24th October 1542 by James V to the said Robert and to William Montgomerie of the Stane, to remain at home from the war on account of their being "vaik and tender of complectioun and trublit with secknes and infirmite and may nocht travell without grete danger of thair lyvis", etc, etc, "Dischargeing all our lieutennentis and all vtheris oure officiaris present and to cum and thare deputis and schireffis in that part of all calling vnlawing proceding attaching arreisting trubling or intro metting with the saidis Maister William Montgomery and Robert Huntar thair landis or guidis thareforo and of thair offices in that part be thir presentis forcuir Prouiding alwayis that the saidis Maister William and Robert send thair eldest sonnys with thair men, tennentis and seruandis, to this our oist and weiris and all weiris, and all vtheris our oistus and weiris, to do ws seruic tharein"
The latest deed in which his name occurs is an instrument sasine in favour of his son Kentigern Huntar in fee and heritage and Robert Huntar and Jonet Montgomerie his wife in life rent of the lands of Campbeltoun, dated 25th May 1542 and he died prior to 1546.
He was succeeded by his son Kentigern, or Mungo Huntar of Huntarstoune or of that Ilk who married Marion, daughter of James Hamilton of Torrance county of Lanark and with her was infeft in Easter Arneil on 1st August 1537 t during his father's life time He succeeded his father in 1546, as appears from an instrument of sasine of the 8th May of that year and in the same year, would seem to have been present with "Our Soverane Ladyis oist and army convenit at Dumbartane the xi day of July for asseging of the Castle thereof", as the Register of the Privy Seal, contains a grant made to him of "all gudis moveable quhilk pertinit to William Finlay in Dalry and Alexander Finlay younger and now pertening to our Soverane Lady be resoune of Eschete throw thair tresonable remaining and abyding at hame fra our Soverane Ladyis oist and army", etc ,etc, etc.
He died at the faith and peace of Queen Mary under her standard at the battle of Pinkies cleuth 10th September 1547 as appears by instruments of sasine of 8th November 1548 and of 5th November 1594, leaving two sons .
Hunters of Hunterston, or, of that Ilk ... (Detailed History)
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Hunter Clan of Ayrshire
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