23. Alexander Burnard (1274 - 1329)
Father: 24. Roger Burnard (bef. 1180 - )
Alexander was the first of the Burnards who is known to be associated with the lands of Leys. The name appears in early north-east records interchangeable with Burnet and gradually evolved through a number of variations to that of Burnett. Little is known of his ancestry but he is thought to have been a son of Roger Burnard of Farningtoun in southern Scotland.1 Alexander was on of those adherents whose loyalty and services to King Robert I (Robert the Bruce) were repaid substantially by large grants of land on the banks of the River Dee in the vicinity of the parish of Banchory Ternan, Kincardineshire. The charter, outlining the land transaction, dated 28 March 1324 at Berwick-on-Tweed, was confirmed by a later charter by King David II date 17 November 1358 at Scone.2
Alexander was also Keeper of the Forest of Drum, the badge of office of which is considered to be the Horn of Leys. This still hangs in Crathes Castle and is portrayed in the Coat of Arms of the Burnetts of Leys. Given the feudal system of land tenure introduced by King David I, it is likely that the procedure of "cornage" or use of a symbolic horn in the process of land grants also extended north of the Border. The Horn of Leys may, therefore, have had a two-fold significance in not only identifying the role of Keeper of the Royal Forest at Drum but also in sealing the charter. Family tradition that the Horn of Leys must always be in the possession of the family almost certainly arises from the fact that the horn could, if necessary, be produced in support of claim of land.3
Whether the link between Alexander Burnard and Robert the Bruce was as a result of his having held an office in the retinue of the royal court or for his services as a knight fighting for his king in all, or some, of the southern battles, will probably never be known. It is quite likely that he fought at the battle of Bannockburn.4
The early habitation of the Burnards was a crannog or lake/loch dwelling, sometimes referred to as the Castle of Leys, constructed on the island in the Loch of Leys where it could be defended. Whether the Burnards were responsible for the construction or took possession of an existing dwelling on the site is not known. There is the possibly that the lands, and probably the cannog, were previously owned by the Wauchop family and were forfeited before being granted to Alexander Burnard. It is reasonable to assume that the cannog dwelling was eventually abandoned in favour of a "manor" or land-based home with attendant farm and servant accommodation on the shores of the Loch of Leys. By the late 1500s, the Burnetts had constructed a tower-house which came to be called Crathes Castle.
Children and grandchildren:
Ancestor families report created by Gene 4.3.4, Sun, Oct 21, 2001