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Royal Deeside :
Francis Farquharson of Monaltrie
- founder of Ballater

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Ballater was created as a new town from around 1790 initially by Francis Farquharson of Monaltrie and then by his nephew William. The impact of Francis Farquharson on the subsequent development of Royal Deeside was immense and he can be seen as the 'father' of the local tourist industry. A stop at the memorial to William Farquharson is now part of the 'History with Boots On'' trail.

The article below was written in 1990 for the Ballater Times -the Victoria Week newsletter - by Captain Alwyn Compton Farquharson, chieftain of the Farquharson clan, to mark the 200th anniversary of his ancestor's death

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Francis Farquharson, founder of Ballater Francis Farquharson of Monaltrie, founder of Ballater

Founder of Ballater! — If anyone can claim this honour surely posterity must concede it to Francis Farquharson of Monaltrie, and as this year marks the bi-centenary of his death some tribute seems fitting.

Born in 1710, son of Alexander 1st of the 2nd family of Monaltrie, and of Anne, daughter of Francis Farquharson of Finzean, his early life is undocumented, but by 1738 - 40 he was accredited Commissioner to his uncle John Farquharson of Invercauld, whose estates he administered for several years before the outbreak of the '45 rising. What induced him to cast his lot with the Prince is not clear: possibly he was influenced by his colourful cousin Lady Macintosh, known to Jacobites as the celebrated "Colonel Anne". Families were deeply divided, and as soon as his father learned of his nephew's intentions he immediately deprived him of his Commission.

Francis was 35 at the time, of suave, generous and kindly disposition, popularly known as the "Baron Ban" because of his handsome looks and golden locks. Combined with these attributes his influence with the Tenantry helped him to raise, not without difficulty, 300 men in the Prince's cause. (More about the Aboyne batallion) He was present at the battles of Inverurie, Falkirk and Culloden where he was taken prisoner. From Inverness he was transported by sea to London, imprisoned in the Tower and condemned to be executed. Two weeks later on the morning of 28th November l746, the day set for his hanging (Flitting Term Day!), he was reprieved.

Reprieved but not pardoned; firstly a prisoner in the Marshalsea, then in the New Goal Southark, then under custody of a Messenger, then released on parole at Berkhampsted with movement restricted to within a ten mile radius. Petitions were made on his behalf eulogising his character by Ministers of the presbyteries of Kincardine O'Neil and Alford. A romantic rumour began to grow that he owed his life to the intercession of an undisclosed lady with influence at the court. A germ of truth gave rise to this for certainly a Roman Catholic lady of wealth, Margaret Eyre of Hassop in Derbyshire, fell in love with his highland looks and he duly married her in 1763.

It was to be 20 years 4 months and 1 day from the date of his capture before he returned to his native heath in 1766 a wealthy, childless, pardoned Rebel. Since his old home north of the Dee a mile upstream from Balmoral had been burnt as a reprisal he quartered himself with the Minister of Glenmuick and built himself a new house at the foot of Craigendarroch which he called Ballater House. And his wife's wealth enabled him to purchase back in 1784 his old estates for £1613.0.9d.

During his long exile in Hertfordshire he had studied agricultural improvements, and these he now brought to the land around Ballater. And he laid further foundations for the future Ballater through his initiative by discovering and extolling the extraordinary virtue of the mineral springs at Pannanich Wells, and in the impetus he gave to their development. Moreover he was prime mover in the building of the first bridge across the Dee at Ballater opening in 1783 and in the road improvements thereto.

He died at the ripe old age of 80 on the 22nd June 1790 "universally regretted" as the Aberdeen Journal put it. He lies buried in the Farquharson burial aisle near the ruins of the old Kirkyard at Crathie. Remembered as the handsomest and most generous Officer in the Rebel army his portrait hangs at Invercauld, treasured together with his sword, bible and desk.

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Introduction A History of Royal Deeside The Deeside Railway The Old Military Road Old Kirkyardst
Queen Victoria and Royal Deeside John Brown, Loyal Servant Francis Farquharson Lord Byron, poet Alexander Gordon
Macbeth and Braemar Braemar Gathering and Highland Games History of Braemar Clan Farquharson Bridges of Ballater
19th Century Ballater History of Dinnet area Aboyne History Aboyne Wartime Poetry Aboyne Great War Records
History of Dinnet History of Tarland Scott Skinner, the Strathspey King Glen O' Dee Hospital Brunel's Bridge
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