Abernethy, Aberargie and Dron News

Last date for submissions

31st October 2022

Date of publication

1st December 2022


A Nobleman & Gentleman of Fife

The Fifeshire Journal reported on the passing of a prominent Fife farmer, Henry Buist, Esquire of Berryhill on Thursday, 16 November 1865. It stated: “In last week’s obituary we recorded the death of Henry Buist, Esquire, of Berryhill, at the advanced age of almost ninety-five years. He was cut off after a very short illness. His health throughout his life was excellent, and he retained the use of his faculties to the last, his memory being as vigorous as ever.

Having been all his life engaged in agricultural pursuits, he was from the lengthened experience able to recount many changes in the modes of culture. He remembered the commencement of draining of Fife. Lime however was largely applied to the soil before his time. Five or six acres of turnips were reckoned a large extend for a large farm. He remembered the introduction of the thrashing mill, and how crowds went far to see the novel application. He remembered when the most respectable farmers in the county wore the broad blue bonnet, and it was only on the Sabbath that the most aspiring of them exchanged it for the beaver hat.

One incident in his history will suffice to show how far tradition may go back; in his boyhood he walked from his father’s house near Kettle to Pitlessie, with his grandfather, who was born in 1690.

Another such link would carry us back to the days long before the Reformation, and long era of James the First died of a broken heart in Falkland. At one period of his life, he took a part in the Justice of Peace Courts of this district; for domestic life he retained many of the courtesies of the olden time. He was upright and honourable in all his transactions, and many benevolent and charitable institutions will miss the contributions which he afforded them. He was buried in the family burial ground in Abdie Old Church on Monday last.”

Henry Buist was born on Friday, 24 May 1771 at Orkie, Kettle Parish, Fife. The first born son of George Buist, feuar and Margaret Low, he later inherited most of his father’s vast estates upon his father’s death in 1797. He was baptized at Kettle Parish in Kingskettle on Sunday, 26 May 1771.

Early Years

Henry Buist took over the tenancy of Orkie after the death of his father George Buist and later relocated to Weddersbie which is in the Parish of Collessie but near Auchtermuchty. During this same time, he was listed in the 1797-98 Farm Horse Tax, residing at Braeside in Abdie Parish.

According to the tax records he was listed as having six horses, five of which were held liable to the tax of ten shillings. Furthermore he was also listed as being taxed at Orkie in Kettle Parish.

Henry Buist is also listed in the Survey of the Duty on Clocks and Watches in Kettle Parish. According to the record, he had a total of one clock at the estate of Orkie and one watch which was silver or metal. Survey of the Duty on Clocks and Watches, County of Fife, Kettle Parish

As owner of Orkie, Henry Buist on 25 August 1797 was listed in the Window Tax for Kettle Parish. In the Survey of old Window Duty, Orkie shows a total of eleven houses on the estate showing seven windows that were taxed four pounds.

 Henry Buist married Helen Walker on Tuesday, 29 December 1807 at Collessie Parish, Fife at the age of 36. Helen Walker was the daughter of the Reverend Andrew Walker, Minister of Collessie. They had five children: George Buist born on Tuesday, 21 March 1809 at Weddersbrae, Collessie and died on Monday, 29 April 1889; Sophia Duddingstone Buist born on Friday, 5 April 1811 at Weddersbrae, Collessie and died on Thursday, 2 January 1902; Margaret Low Buist born on Wednesday, 11 August 1813 at Weddersbrae, Collessie and died on Thursday, 17 March 1898; Andrew Walker Buist born on Saturday, 31 August 1816 in Abdie and died on Tuesday, 1 May 1877; and Henry Buist born on Tuesday, 18 January 1820 at Berryhill, Abdie and died on Friday, 24 November 1854.

Henry Buist inherited from his father the Abbey of Lindores. Lindores Abbey lies on the outskirts of Newburgh. Now a much reduced and overgrown ruin, it stands on the southern banks of the River Tay about one mile north of the village of Lindores. This abbey was founded as a daughter house of Kelso Abbey about 1191 by David, Earl of Huntingdon, brother of William the Lion. Later monarchs who visited this abbey include Edward I of England, John Balliol, David II and James II.

The earliest record of scotch whisky is the 1494 commission from King James IV to Friar John Cor of Lindores Abbey to make about 580 kg of aquavitae. The abbey was sacked by a mob from Dundee in 1543 and again by John Knox and his supporters in 1559. In the following years the abbey buildings were quarried as a source of stone for buildings in Newburgh. All that remains of the abbey are one of the gateways leading into the monastic enclosure; the groin vaulted slype, leading from the cloister garth to the exterior of the abbey and parts of the chancel walls and western tower of the church.


It is not known when Henry Buist purchased Weddersbrae however early records indicate that he was a tenant there as early as 22 February 1797 when he ratified his father’s Trust Disposition. Most of Henry and Helen Buist’s children were born at Weddersbrae while the couple lived there. According to the Edinburgh Advertiser Newspaper for Friday, 20 October 1809 it listed him as having obtained a general game certificate on Friday, 13 October 1809. Henry Buist in 1813 decided to sell Weddersbrae. According again to the Edinburgh Advertiser Newspaper for Tuesday, 2 November 1813 it stated, “Weddersbrae, as presently possessed by Mr. Buist, consisting of 184 acres, or thereby, all arable.”

The Grange of Lindores and Lindores Abbey

The Grange of Lindores is a hamlet to the west of Lindores Loch in north Fife. Early records indicate that Henry’s father, George Buist was a tenant in the Grange of Lindores well before 1784.

Upon the death of his father, Henry Buist also inherited these lands as well as Lindores Abbey. By 1806 he officially acquired the rights to these lands. On 24 June 1809 he decided to sell part of Lindores Abbey. This action of selling land by auction in Scotland is called a roup. According to the Land Tax Rolls of 1 January 1820 for Newburgh Parish, Fife it listed, “Henry Buist’s part of the Abbey of Lindores per deed of 8 January 1807, taxed 404 pounds.” Berryhill (Berryhole)

Of all the Buist family’s estates owned in Fife, this is the most fascinating and the one farm estate with probably the most history as it concerns the Buist family. The actual manse dates back easily to March 1558. I believe it goes back much further to the early 1400s. The Baronial dynasty of theSpens family later called the Spence family held title to these lands. The First record of Berryhole is dated in 1425. I did find a charter by John, abbot of Lindores and convent, letting the feudal farm to Andrew Earl of Rothes, the lands of Grange of Lindores, Berryhole and Woodhead, with the half of their south woods. The charter further enumerates the woods of the park called Lindores, with their churchyards, and yard called the East Yard, and yard called the Hive Yard, lying near the monastery of Lindores. The charter was dated 2 March 1558

From before 1687 until after 1706 William Buist (1664-1730) was the tenant of Berryhill in the Parish of Abdie, Fife. Originally known as Berriehoill and owned by the Benedictine Abbey of Lindores at Newburgh, until the 16th century, together with other nearby holdings such as Ormiston, Hattonhill and Lumquhat, it was one of the constituent units of the monks’ grange.

In 1690 Berryhill was the property of Alexander Spens whose wife was Katherine Arnot, a member of a long established local Fife family with whom the Buists were linked through blood and marriage.

The first available land record (Sasine) of Berryhole that I was able to find was of Henry Buist, Esquire. The deed states that on Saturday, 4 October 1817 Henry Buist, Esquire acquired the estate. It reads: “Henry Buist, late tenant, Weddersbrae, Seised, 4 October 1817, in the lands of Berryhole (excepting the Grange of Lindores and Inch); 8 oxgates, 8 oxgates and 8 oxgates of the lands of Grange called Berryhole, 8 oxgates of land or fourth part of Berryhole, and Manor place of Berryhole, parish of Abdie; and parts of Mairsland of Auchtermuchty, parish of Auchermuchty; and Teinds; on Ch. Resign. G.S., to the Trustees of John Arnot of Lumquhat, 2 June 1814; and Disp. & Assig. By them, 27 September and 2 October 1807 (1817).

The Estate of Berryhill is located in the Parish of Abdie, on the west side of Lindores Loch. The lands surrounding the old manse of the Buist family are quite extensive. The manse is very large with many fireplaces in each room including the kitchen. I imagined Henry Buist sitting in the wooden drawing room reading about farming. According to theinventory of his personal effects he had at Berryhill, it listed this front bedroom as having one chair, 4 pictures, a small mirror and night stool, a store closet and in the closet was a fur wardrobe. Also in the room was a furniture table, one rug, a writing desk and bookcase, and a barometer. The old house of Berryhill had a total of seventeen rooms in all. There were five bedrooms and at the time of his death and included in the inventory, gives us a glimpse of what was in the Manse or Manor House at Berryhill in December 1865.

The main lobby had an eight day clock, four chairs, two tables, an umbrella stand and three rugs. The dining room had an old table, a dining table that was sixty feet long, six chairs, a piano and a stool in front of the piano, a fifteen foot easy chair, a fifteen foot sofa, two engravings hanging above the fireplace, with a carpet and rugs at various places in the room. The drawing room had a thirty foot carpet and rug, a sofa and cover on it, ten chairs and two foot stools, a chest of drawers and bookcase and a twenty-five foot window seat near the window. The front west bedroom had an old bed in it, cotton curtains, six chairs, a chest of drawers, one small mirror, a fireplace, and a wash stand and ware. The north bedroom had one old lint bed, a fireplace, small mirror and table, three chairs, a wash stand, a mahogany closet, pot stand. The northeast bedroom had a bed and curtains, a fireplace, mirror and furniture table, wash stand and ware, chest of drawers, three chairs, pot stand and bell pull and carpet. The south bedroom had an old bed and curtains, fireplace, carpet and two chairs, mirror and table, lamp, wash stand and ware, a small screen in front of fireplace and a bell pull. In the garret room were seven old chairs, four dozen bottles, two flower stand, two trunks and three chairs. The low room of the house had two beds, firewood, two chairs, an old dresser, clothes screen, two tubs, two meal stands, old side saddle and a dog cart with harness. The dairy room had fifteen milk cans, raisins, two churns of butter, two old tubs, a cookery press, three cans and other sundries. The laundry room had a mangle table, with a regular table and three chairs. The kitchen had a fireplace, an oven, a table, an old sink, four chairs and a stool, a Batchelor oven, saw, bellows and clever, four irons, fifteen pots, fifteen kettles, fifteen frying pans, fifteen coffee pots, fifteen jelly pans, three candlesticks, four dish covers, eleven tea trays, two pitchers, a waiter stand and other sundries. The cutlery room had twenty-two table knives, twenty-two forks, eleven covers, nine breakfast knives. The cookery room had twenty-four tumblers, eighteen wine glasses, five ale glasses, three water carafes, thirty-one blue bottle cases, four bottles and one hundred fifty volumes of books, seventeen plated forks, seventeen fish knives and four candlesticks. The bed and table linen room had fourteen tablecloths, three covers, eighteen pillowslips, twenty-one straw pillowcases, three servant pillow cases, thirteen sheets, eight pillows, eighty and one half ounces of silver plates, fifty-one pieces of body cloths and an old silver watch. This inventory, which was conducted on Tuesday, 19 December 1865, captures a moment frozen in time of what the Manse held and the personal effects of Henry Buist, Esquire. The value of just the personal effects of Henry Buist, Esquire was 1,117 pounds and 19 shillings, which in present day U.S. dollars is $1,817.44. During that time the value was much more, maybe 50 times more  in present day values.

On Tuesday, 15 September 1846 according to the old Sasine, the Edinburgh and Northern Railway Company acquired the rights to lay track for their route to Newburgh from Collessie. The railway had to go through part of the Buist lands. Another Sasine, dated Tuesday, 27 April 1846 indicated that the same company acquired from Henry Buist, Esquire an acre of ground, which included parts of the North Hill of Grange. On these dates, Henry Buist, Esquire sold various parcels of his lands at Berryhill for the successful completion of the railway.

The Edinburgh and Northern Railway was a Scottish railway company and started in 1845. The company operated cross-country services between Burntisland, on the Firth of Forth, to Perth and Tayport on the Tay estuary. It became part of the North British Railway in July of 1862. The railway tracks were laid through parcels of the lands of Berryhill shortly after 27 April 1846. There was one more mention of this railway company in the Sasines of the lands of Berryhill. On Thursday, 21 June 1849, the company acquired the last piece of parcel of land from Henry Buist, Esquire, that being an acre of land also located at the part of North Hill of Grange. Henry Buist, Esquire had large amounts of stock in the old railway company up to his death.

Upon Henry Buist’s death in 1865, the estate of Berryhill was passed to his son, Andrew Walker Buist. He and his family continued to reside and farm on the property. Like his father, Andrew Walker Buist was a farmer. The estate of Berryhill passed from the Buist family in about 1922.

The 1915 Scotland Valuation Roll for the estate gives one a good idea of the massive size of the estate even in that Year.

Memberships and Appointments

Living an active life Henry Buist, Esquire was a member of many society’s and organizations around Fife. In his youth he was an active member of “The Noblemen and Gentlemen of Fife” until the day he died. The members of this organization would usually meet in Cupar. According to the Edinburgh Advertiser Newspaper for Tuesday, 5 March 1816 it listed him as being in favor of continuing the property tax. The Edinburgh Advertiser Newspaper reported on another meeting of “The Noblemen and Gentlemen of Fife” held on Friday, 24 March 1820 that, “the group sent a condolence to the King upon the death of King George III and sent a message of congratulations to the present King George IV.

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