Greenbrae - mid 19th century

In the Spring of 1998 we were asked if we could have a look for a family grave while we were in Scotland. It was the grave of Ann Wallace and it was said to be in Auchness Cemetery in the Bonar Bridge area.

We went to Bonar Bridge and initially we were rather downcast when no-one had heard of it at all. Persistence finally made us lucky and we met someone who knew of an old disused cemetery called Achness Cemetery and told us approximately where it was.

It still proved fairly elusive, but at a remote hotel we got directions along a tiny road, then a walk through some woodlands to a waterfall.


The woodland path was pretty and did lead to a walled graveyard, right by the waterfall. NC468028 We began hunting through the moss-covered tombstones in the hope of finding something. Quite a few of the occupants were Murrays.


Then, surprisingly, one of the biggest stones in the whole graveyard turned out to be the one we wanted. The grave contained Ann Wallace's body and also that of her young child - obviously their deaths were peri-natal.


In memory of
Ann Wallace
wife of Alexander Murray
late of Greenbrae Rosehall
who died on the 16th Nov. 1878
aged 43 years
also their son
Wallace Alexander
who died 1st March 1879
aged 3 months
Erected by husband and family 1902


We spent the rest of the day trying to find where Greenbrae is or was.

At tourist shop (NC491007 ) we met Jean Gilmore who sent us to her husband Alan Gilmore (The Colonel or Sir Alan) at NC493006. He did not know where Greenbrae was, but suggested that we contact Hugh Macintosh, aged 94, who now lived in sheltered accommodation at Ardgay (NH599904 approx.) Hugh used to be the postman long ago, but is now blind. He also suggested that there could be some Murrays living at Altass. He further mentioned a George, son of Nathaniel who had moved out of the area.

There were no Murrays known at Altass, but we were sent to the house at ( NC501010 ) of Sandy Maclean whose wife had been a Murray. Both were in their 90's. The wife said her people had come into the area from Aberdeenshire. Sandy knew the area of Greenbrae, which is now a Forestry plantation. There are the ruins of some houses there. He said to go East from the road junction at ( NC505016 ) and the holding was to the South side of the road. The site is now grown over by a Forestry Plantation of pine trees. There are some ruins marked on the map, but we did not have time to visit them. ( Click here for an update ) He also suggested Hugh Macintosh for information.

We met Hugh Macintosh. He was able to confirm where Greenbrae had been. He also mentioned a line of Murrays of Andrew, Nathaniel and George. Andrew had kept a very successful village shop at Bonar Bridge and George now farmed at Morvich.

At Morvich ( NC754007 ) we met George Murray on his farm. He lives with his wife Kay. We met several younger members of the family. George and I have the same great grandfather (Andrew). He was able to supply a family tree with details of Andrew and his parents included.

George's father is buried at Invershin Cemetery, where a number of other Murrays are buried.


The general picture

It appears that a number of people came into the area to farm, many of them from the Aberdeen area. The farms did not succeed - it was said that the peat of this area responded differently to that in the Aberdeen area. They named their own plots. Greenbrae was the Murray's plot. It was estimated to be about 60acres in size by Hughie Macintosh.

The farm seems to have been headed by Andrew Murray, married to Christina Grant. They had seven sons. Amongst these sons one, Andrew, was George's grandfather. Another, Alexander, was my grandfather and the husband of Ann Wallace. (I am actually descended from Alexander's second family, when he married Ann Duff.) So George and I are descended from the same great-grandfather.

After the collapse of the farming effort, Andrew Murray (junior) set up his successful shop in Bonar Bridge. It was said by George that business from Invershin House was instrumental in the success. Alexander returned to the Aberdeen area, possibly after the death of Ann Wallace. The gravestone was erected in 1902, so it must have been set up during a trip back to the area, perhaps in more prosperous times.

Alexander's youngest son Walter, who was the son of Ann Duff in the second marriage, was born in Tillyfourie to the west of Aberdeen. He was my father. The family later moved to Buckie where Alex had a carpentry business. This is where Walter met Jane Burgess Gray, who was born in the hamlet of Oran, near Buckie.


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