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The Pitcairn Family People Page

We would like to us this particular page as an open forum to all those with an interest in the Pitcairn's. To start with we will try to include some famous Pitcairn's from history and to give you some idea of their life stories.

On the other hand it would be far better if you sent in stories on your own family members and we will post them hear for all to read. Go on, make someone famous.



Lord Robert Pitcairn (1520-84), Thirteenth Laird of that Ilk and Forthar, Archdean of St Andrews, Commendator of Dunfermline, Royal Legate, Secretary of State to King James VI and Ambassador to Queen Elizabeth of England. His burial place and monument is at the east end of the north wall, inside the Nave of the Abbey, his armorial coat of arms is still distinct and an epitaph written in Latin is translated thus:


‘Here lies in a plain urn, the hero Robert Pitcairn the hope and pillar of his country whom virtue, gravity worthy of a virtuous heart, and fidelity, with sincere piety adorn. After various changes of life he now, with the mass of his body left behind, proceeds in spirit to the Elysian Grove. He died in the year 1584 on 18th October aged 64.’


Robert Pitcairn had a proud and honourable lineage, documented in Scotland to the early 13th century.  The Pitcairn arms show that it was most likely a second son of the Advocate of Bolougne, a very eminent and powerful Flemish family, who was the first Pitcairn to arrive in Scotland. This was during the reign of David I in the early part of the 12th century and his role was probably to help establish law with the introduction of the feudal system and to set up a Scottish coinage. Robert Pitcairn’s great-grandfather, Henry Pitcairn, married Elizabeth Ramsay, a wealthy heiress, and from then that particular branch of Pitcairn arms were quartered with the Ramsay arms.  Robert Pitcairn, born in 1520, was the second son.  He was groomed from a very young age for a life of service to the church and while still a young man, became Archdean of St Andrews, a most important appointment in those days.  It is very likely that the uprisings, murders and martyrdom that occurred in St Andrews at this time convinced Robert to side with the Reformers.


Robert’s uncle, George Durie, the last Abbot of Dunfermline, fled to France for a short time in 1560 during the troubles of the Reformation,  The monasteries were dissolved by Parliament in 1560, and therefore when Robert Pitcairn was made Commendator the jurisdiction or power of regality, along with the lands of the monastery, devolved upon him; thus he obtained a right to its lands and rents, which he held until his death in 1584” (Chalmers Gazetteer 1842). Robert Pitcairn (styled Abbot as a mark of respect) owned and lived in his official residence, Abbot House.  The Pitcairn/Ramsay arms, can be seen on the south side of Abbot House.


  Robert was now middle-aged and caught in the maelstrom of Scottish Politics during one of the most unsettled periods of Scottish History.


After Mary’s Queen of Scots surrender at Carberry Hill, Robert was appointed a Lord of the Articles in 1567 and in this capacity was present at the Coronation of her son, King James VI age one, at Stirling.  Robert’s name stands first in a list of 15 Abbots on the Rolls of Parliament in 1567, when the Reformed Church was legally recognised as the National Church of Scotland.  In June 1568 Robert was appointed an Ordinary Lord of Session, then in September 1568 he was made an Extraordinary Lord of Session.  Robert also acted, as Scottish Ambassador to Queen Elizabeth I while Queen Mary was held captive in London.  Regents were appointed to look after the Scottish Kingdom until her son James VI was old enough to rule; during this period Robert survived the Regencies of Murray, Lennox, Marr and Morton.


Robert Pitcairn married Euphemia Murray in 1577, she was the daughter of Sir William Murray, one of the joint governors of James VI and sister to James Murray of Perdewis who was known to own a house on the south side of Maygate probably near Abbot House.  Most import people had a town house near or around the area of the Abbey and by 1580 Robert had extended and improved Abbot house where he conducted his considerable official business.  The quaint inscription on an old advice stone was placed over the principle entrance to the house most likely at the time by Robert Pitcairn.


He also owned a substantial Manor House in Limekilns where his new Pitcairn/Murray arms would have been placed, these arms were moved, but can still be seen carved on a building in Limekilns call the old vault.  Robert owned Limekilns, the orchard, the harbour and looked after the “Kings cellar” there.


In 1582 Robert Pitcairn along with the most loyal nobles invited the King to Ruthven Castle, where he was detained, because of his involvement Robert was held captive in Loch Leven Castle for five months then he was freed with a caution  to stay in Dunfermline or six mile around under pain of £10.000.   Robert and his wife fled to England and then to Flanders during the winter of 1583-4.  He returned to Limekilns moving later to his house in the Maygate to be near his medical attendant and this is where he died on the 18th October 1584.