Monday, 23 September 2013

Toshach Castle - Strathearn Stronghold of the Clan Macintosh


The Toshachs of Strathearn and Possibly the USA !

A Strathearn Castle That Has " Vanished " !
 
 
 
Toshach
 
 
 

The name  “Toshach “ is  not one readily associated  with Strathearn – indeed  those  older  citizens  amongst us  will  recall  one John Toshack  who was a renowned football /soccer player  for  Wales  many moons ago ! Indeed the name crops up again as “ Taoiseach” – the Prime Minister of the Irish Republic . It is derived from the Gaelic 'toiseach', meaning chief, leader or front man. An ancient title ranking next to the mormaer. The Toshach's of  Monzievaird ( pronounced mony – vaird ! ) had as their coat of arms a silver shield surmounted by a fess or horizontal bar .It has been speculated that the Toshach's of Monzievaird held the rank of barons. The Toshes (or Toshach's) of Monzievaird were derived from the Thanes of Strowan ("The Highland Clans, Sir Ian Moncreiffe ) .

“ Pit and Gallows" was a charter given by the King to the chiefs to enable them to keep law and order within their own estates. The Laird Toshach's of Monzievaird were accustomed to hang or behead a man on the first day of every month at Torn-an-Tosach, an act apparently designed to prevent loss of this feudal right

"Laird (lord) Toshach was, however, one of the first to give up this right

when the 'Act of Heritable Jurisdiction' came into force. The act

virtually freed the clansmen from the authority of their chief and had

in many ways a similar effect to the abolition of slavery, with the

chief being left with little but his title and estates."

Just which Laird Toshach this quote refers to is unknown. The act in question was passed in 1747 well after the last Laird Toshach who it is thought   by many to have died in 1689.  By this time the system of Heritable Jurisdiction had become obsolete across much of Scotland and it was just one of a series of acts dating back to at least the reign of James I of Scotland limiting the powers of chiefs and lairds.

I stumbled across  a submission to the genealogical web site Rootsweb away back in 2000 which makes interesting  reading  . The Toshach’s seemed  to have  disappeared completely from Strathearn and this perhaps  is a relevant but unsubstantiated answer!

On March 16, 1684, David Toshack, known in America as "The Laird of Minivaird", acquired a one fourth share of the Earl of Perth's one twenty-fourth share of East New Jersey, in America. Toshack , and a man named Patrick Mac Gregorie, who was married to David’s sister Margaret Toshack, gathered together a group of about twenty five families, and their servants and came to America as a group, landing first in Maryland in 1684, and then going to New Perth, or Perth Amboy, in New Jersey. From there they made their way to East New Jersey, and to nearby unclaimed land in what was to later become Orange County, New York state . They were the earliest white settlers in that area.
 
 Barvic Spout

I recount  below a tale  written in 1860 in a little book entitled “ Beauties of Upper Strathearn”  and makes interesting  reading in a time  before the motor  car controlled the highways and there  was  an air of bucolic bliss about this  part of our Strath ! The castle is  shown on the early ordnance survey  maps to the west of  Greenend near the old  saw mill . The OS Reference is NN 846 243. Like so many of our places  of local heritage Castle Toshach has  fallen victim to the Philistines that control our Ordnance Survey – quite shameful !

The hamlet of Monzie rests sweetly near the copse – clad banks of the Shaggy and Kelty streams ,north of the turn pike . There are three cascades on the Shaggy, north of the village ; and on the eminence of Knock  Durrock , immediately above it , are the remains of an oval encampment , evidently of Caledonian origin . Besides the village are the handsome new parish church and the beautifully situate manse of the incumbent . The most interesting portion  of the vale of Monzie having been surveyed  we may now retrace our course westwards to Glenturret . Proceeding up this romantic glen , here richly overspread with plantation, in half a mile  we reach a bridge across the Barvic , a mountain stream which has already in our progress united the waters  with the Turret . At this bridge a gate opens on a footpath, which winds itself up the margin of a ravine , in which the Barvic comes thundering down a series of cascades and caldrons , the river falling 600 feet within the eighth part of a mile . A little distance onward from the bridge across the Barvic, we attain another bridge , which crosses the stream of the Turret ; and about a hundred yards  beyond, we reach a few plain cottages , near which , on a spot indicated  by a box - wood tree stood the old keep of Toshach , the Chief of the Clan Macintosh, and one of the last chiefs, according to the story, who, prior to the statutory abolition of feudal jurisdictions , exercised the power of “pit and gallows “ .

A legend reports the chief to have held nocturnal interviews , with a fairy whom he had brought with him on his return from a protracted absence abroad ; but the mode of his reaching the place of colloquy , and the precise nature of his companion were long regarded as a mystery . His lady at length became jealous of the frequent departures of her lord from his chamber during the night , and being unable to discover whither he proceeded , resorted to the scheme of attaching a piece  of worsted  to his button ; thus guided she followed him down a concealed subterranean passage conducting from the castle to the bottom of a ravine of the Turret , when ,after various  circuitous paths, she discovered him in close conversation  with the fairy , who had the aspect of a beautiful lady . The discovery exited Toshach’s wife with feelings of desperate jealousy; she upbraided her lord with infidelity to her , and insisted on the immediate destruction of the stranger , who thereupon suddenly fled , and the “ sun of Toshach set to rise no more ” . The extent of the chief’s cruelties and barbarities excited the violence of the neighbourhood; the inhabitants rose against him , and he fled from his place , and died abroad in obscurity . The remains of the castle were removed , upwards of half a century ago by the late Sir William Murray of Ochtertyre .

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

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