Got £550,000? Nether Bellyclone, Alexander’s birthplace, is for sale

Many thanks to the reader who sent word that Nether Bellyclone–the Perthshire farm where Alexander McGruder, the Immigrant, was born–was put on the market last September. After poking around online I can confirm that it remained unsold in early February.

The house and farmyard have been severed from the surrounding cropland, and now comprise just over an acre, called by the developer “Lot 1, Nether Bellyclone Steading.” The buildings have fallen into disrepair. In photos, it looks like someone stripped out the interior of the house for renovation, but left the job unfinished.

Permitting has been obtained to renovate the house, convert two of the outbuildings to houses, and knock down the rest to make way for a newly-built house west of the old one. A tract of adjoining farmland, called “Lot 2, Nether Bellyclone”, was put on the market for development.

The realtor’s site has multiple photos and a video tour of the house’s interior. Photo 5 shows a plaque placed on the house by the American Clan Gregor Society in the 1970s, memorializing Alexander’s birthplace. Photo 10 shows an outbuilding that incorporates some of the oldest stonework on the farm.

Alexander McGruder/Magruder was born about 1610, when Belliclone was a small estate in the Drummond family domain. His mother, Margaret Campbell, was the widow of Andrew Drummond, 4th of Belliclone, and held a lifetime right to the estate, after which it would pass to her eldest son.

Sometime before 25 May 1605, she married the elder Alexander McGruder, who served as Chamberlain to James Drummond, brother of the Duke of Perth. James Drummond had been created the first Lord Madderty, and also held the titles Barron of Innerpeffrey and Commendator of Inchaffray Abbey (a secular title–the abbey was long gone). Margaret and Alexander had at least two children, James McGruder, who became Chamberlain to the Duke of Perth, and Alexander, our ancestor.

The elder Alexander McGruder died before 1 May 1617, date of the first reference to Margaret Campbell with her third husband. After his father’s death, we think our Alexander was taken a few miles away, to Craigneich, to be raised by his McGruder family.

In Maryland, Alexander named one of his plantations “Craigneich,” most often recorded as “Craignight.” Knowing that in Scotland “inch” is pronounced “anch,” we can see how “Inchaffray” became in America “Anchaffray Hills,” and then “Anchovie Hills”–the plantation where Alexander was living when he died. A third tract he called “Dunblane,” for the cathedral town where he may have been educated. He called a fourth tract “Alexandria,” after himself, and another simply “Good Luck.” He did not name any property for Belliclone, which he left no later than his seventh year.

Meaning of “Craigneich” ???

A reader just asked me the meaning of Craigneich, the farm near the foot of Glen Artney  where Alexander McGruder/Magruder presumably was raised after the death of his father. Though no longer associated with our family, in Alexander’s time the place had long McGruther/McGruder/MacCrouther associations and was his father’s homeplace. In Maryland, Alexander named one of his properties Craigneich (now most often spelled Craignight), which suggests a strong attachment to this wee farm.

I have read that Craigneich means “rock of the raven,” but have never found confirmation of that. Nor have I had any luck asking locals. The online Dictionary of the Scots Language gives neich as a variant of nech(e), a verb meaning to draw near (intransitive) or to draw near to (transitive). Considering the standing stones on and near the present-day Craigneich–including one in a field by the road, close to the buildings and visible from both the road and the driveway–we can speculate that the name might mean something like “gathering stone” or “meeting stone.” This is, I stress, pure speculation on my part. Perhaps someone reading this can shed some light?

Here are a couple of sites with information on the Craigneich stones: Peter McNaughton’s Highland Strathearn and The Northern Antiquarian. ** Peter McNaughton gives the meaning as “Craig of the Horse,” and I’m hoping he can shed light on the etymology.



Reading from Trafficke Oct 9 in Colorado Springs

If you’re nearby…I’ll be reading from my Magruder book, Trafficke, on Friday, October 9th, 7:00 pm @ University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. University Center, Room 303.

Follow signs in the building. Parking is open to visitors (other than handicap or reserved spaces) after 4:00 pm on Fridays. If you’re there, be sure to say hello! I’ll also have books there for sale.

Read about Trafficke on my website or the Ahsahta Press website

Upcoming readings from Trafficke

Here are my upcoming readings from Trafficke, in case you happen to be in any of these neighborhoods. Unless noted, all events are free and open to the public.

Read about Trafficke on my website or the Ahsahta Press website

In recent months I have read from and talked about Trafficke at a house reading/book launch in Washington DC, at a meeting of the DC chapter of Coming to the Table, in two readings at the AWP conference, at the Annual Meeting of the American Folklore Society, at the University of Colorado/Colorado Springs, the University of Illinois/Springfield, George Mason University, a house reading in Illinois, at Busboys & Poets/Hyattsville, MD, at The Writers Center, Bethesda, MD, and at The Potter’s House, DC. Many thanks to those who turned out to support me, and to join the discussion.

Several readings have been shared with Karen Branan, author of The Family Tree (Atria Books/Simon & Schuster, 2016), her investigation of a “kinship lynching” within her family in Jim Crow Georgia. I’ve recently discovered that Karen, too, is a Magruder descendant. See my post for 12 March 2016. Read about The Family Tree on Karen’s web site.

Now it’s summer, when I literally head for the hills…so no events scheduled until Fall. Here are two to look forward to–

Monday, Sept 24, 3pm: Karen & I will be speaking at the Fall for the Book festival at George Mason University. Building & room: Research 163. Visitor parking: Mason Pond Deck. Joining us will be Anthony Cohen, an African American historian who has twice walked to Canada on routes of the Underground Railroad, and in 2014 followed in the steps of his great-great grand uncle, who returned from freedom in Canada to enlist for service in the Civil War. A documentary of that journey, Patrick & Me, will be released nationwide in 2018. Committed to embodied encounters with history, Tony both directs his own foundation—Button Farm Living History Center, in Germantown, Maryland—and serves as Director of Historical Interpretation at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, where he is developing an immersion program in the experience of the enslaved at Great Hopes Plantation.

No details yet, but Karen & I expect to be speaking in Baltimore in October…stay tuned!


New gateway page to the McGruther/Magruder heartland

Hi friends. It’s been a long time since I updated the site, and for that I apologize. I have had some messaging back and forth with a few of you, though, so Magruder-land was never far from my thoughts. In fact, I spent a week in Perthshire in June, where I had the great pleasure of meeting both Don McGruther and Hugh and Margie Rose. Hugh and Margie very kindly hosted myself and a friend at Trian House for lunch, before Hugh took us for a tour around Glen Artney and nearby sites. His knowledge of Drummond history was a plus for me. The next day Don drove up from his home near Glasgow to answer some of my McGruther history questions and to drive us around to some sites I’d not seen on earlier visits, including Drummond Castle Gardens and the Drummond chapel at Innerpeffray Library.

With Don McGruther, under a stormy sky at Craigneich. Photo: Brandon Moore-McNew, June 2014.

While in Perthshire, we were fortunate to stay at The Arch House, headquarters of Grace Notes Scotland, a nonprofit founded by Margaret Bennett to conserve and pass on the traditional cultures of Scotland, both Gaelic and Scots. The Arch House occupies part of what once was the stable block at Dunira Estate, west of Comrie–a unique and beautiful place.

The Arch House, Dunira Estate, Perthshire. Photo Susan Tichy, 2014.

The Arch House, Dunira Estate, Perthshire. Photo Susan Tichy, June 2014.

When I got home I had good intentions about getting right to work on this site…but instead spent the rest of the summer in a place with limited access to the internet–yes, there still are such places–so I’m just now trying to catch up.

So today I’ve made a new gateway page to the McGruther/Magruder Heartland, and made updated pages about sites in Glen Artney, Directions to Belliclone, etc., outgrowths of that page. Hugh Rose’s beautiful photos are also now part of that family of pages. My own photos will be coming soon. The gateway page includes a historical summary, so you can figure out where you want to visit and why.

Maybe all you need to know is how beautiful it is in June…

Glen Artney from Hugh & Margie's garden, Trian House. Photo: Susan Tichy, 2014.

Glen Artney from Hugh & Margie’s garden, Trian House. Photo: Susan Tichy, June 2014.

Driving tours around Comrie & Glen Artney

For those planning to visit McGruder country in Perthshire–and for those who just wish they could–I just found this website: Highland Strathearn | Papers in a Trunk, by Peter McNaughton, a Comrie native. The history is a might romantic (repeating legends as if they were factual) , but the driving tours look wonderful. Open the Table of Contents and scroll down to the Twentieth Century, at the bottom. There you’ll find routes  and a travelogue for

Directions to Belliclone Farm

For Liz, who is cycling around Crieff and Perthshire…traveling vicariously for us all…here are directions to Belliclone Farm.

I took this this partly from memory (from two previous visits) and partly from someone else’s typed directions.

Belliclone is east of Crieff on the old Perth-Crieff road. You can come from that direction, or reach it off the A85 east of Crieff.  About 6 miles from Crieff is an unnumbered road on the right that leads in about a mile to the ruins of Inchafray Abbey. You’ll see them on your right, not very large, across a field. There’s a private house there but the owner let myself and friend in to see the ruins in ’99. His electronic gate says Inchaffray Abbey. To find Belliclone, keep going on that road past Inchaffray about 2.5 miles to a paved road, which is the old Perth-Crieff road. Turn right. There are new houses along that road, in case you have to ask directions. The typed directions say it’s about a mile from there to the Bellyclone road on the right, a private road. I recall that it was or seemed farther. Once you turn right on the Bellyclone road it will run north a short way then hook back to the right (east) and you’ll see Belliclone on the right, if new houses haven’t been built in front of it. The tenants in ’99 were reasonably friendly toward our visit. Because of the plaque placed on the house by American Magruders in ’75 they weren’t too surprised to see strangers at the gate.

If you look at the outbuildings, you’ll find a partition wall between two sections where the stonework looks markedly older than the rest. It is visible from the outside where the end of the partition wall forms part of the exterior wall. This is said to be stonework dating from Alexander Magruder’s time, though I don’t’ know how this was established, nor what kind of building it is supposed to have been.

Also nearby is Maderty Church & cemetery.

Good luck, Liz!