Logic problems

The dovecot at Corstorphine. Courtesy of Historic Environment Scotland

If A is the son of B, and C is the grandson of B, and C’s father is D and mother is E, then how is E related to A…?

In addition to the main allied families in the Livingston project — Douglas of Dalkeith, Fleming of Wigtown, Hepburn of Bothwell, Menteith of Kerse, and Bruce of Airth — there are others that recur, either as ancestors of Livingston spouses or kin of kin in some way. One of the most prevalent is the Forrester family of Corstorphine, Torwood, Garden/Carden, and Nyddrie/Nidrie/Nithrie. Without even including the later Lords Forrester, I can easily count eight instances of Forresters in concert with other families to be covered in the Livingston book.

Some connections are more obvious: the mother of a Livingston spouse was Margaret Forrester, daughter of Malcolm Forrester of Torwood.[1] Two Livingstons of Kilsyth — brothers William and Alexander — married Forrester wives: William married Marion Forrester, usually identified as a daughter of Sir Duncan Forrester of Garden, while Alexander married Barbara Forrester, perhaps Marion’s sister.[2]

Another branch, the junior Corstorphine line of Nyddrie,[3] produced two intriguing Livingston spouses: (Sir) John Forrester, who married Agnes Houstoun, widow of James Livingston, 3rd Lord Livingston,[4] and then Janet Forrester (daughter of another Sir John, perhaps), who married Thomas Livingston of Kirkland of Dunipace, natural son of Alexander Livingston of Dunipace.[5] Unlike the Corstorphine and Torwood/Garden branches, I have been unable to find a genealogical summary — or much in the way of contemporary records — for this family, a clear understanding of which would be very helpful in properly situating them within the Livingstons’ story.

If so, which of Sir Duncan’s wives was her mother?

A recent review of the Livingston articles in The Scots Peerage offered me the chance to zero in a bit on one loose end: Was Marion Forrester, wife of William Livingston, younger of Kilsyth, a daughter of Sir Duncan Forrester? If so, which of Sir Duncan’s wives was her mother? — a conundrum, as at least some of Sir Duncan’s children seemed far too old to include Marion in their number.

A footnote in the article on the Livingstons of Kilsyth provided the clue.[6] On 21 July 1545, “Thomas Forrester of Arngibbon, for his mother and in her name, delivers to William Livingston of Kilsyth, her oye [grandson], a charter made to the deceased William Livingston, his father, and Marion Forrester, his mother, by William Livingston [elder] of Kilsyth, of the lands of Over Garwalls…” on 7 September 1525. To explain: In July 1545, William Livingston – Thomas Forrester’s nephew – is the heir to Over Garwalls, in possession of the lands associated with the Livingstons of Kilsyth. His father (and, it is implied, grandfather) is dead; his mother (Marion Forrester) is evidently alive, as is his grandmother – the mother of Thomas and Marion. (William Livingston and Marion Forrester, meanwhile, were married on or before 7 September 1525, which is helpful.) And who is Thomas Forrester’s mother, in whose name he is acting? A Google search for “Forrester of Arngibbon,” which was a property associated with the Forresters of Carden, yields another instance of Thomas appearing with his mother … and her name.

In 1555, Alexander Forrester is the son and heir of the deceased Thomas Forrester of Arngibbon. The late William Forrester (probably Thomas’s brother) was indebted to Thomas; William’s widow and her new husband need to repay Alexander for the debt owed “the said deceased Thomas Forrester and Dame Margaret Bothwell, his mother, and the said Alexander, succeeding to the right of the one half theirof as heir to the said Thomas, his father, and having assignation of the said Dame Margaret of the other half theirof…”

Sir Duncan Forrester of Torwood, who would become prominent in the reign of King James IV, was apparently a son of Matthew Forrester of Stirling and a nephew of Malcolm Forrester. He was already old enough, in 1489, to have a grandson baptized with the king as sponsor. John C. Gibson’s account of the Forrester family gives him two wives: Margaret Forsyth “of Harthill in Clydesdale” and then (by 1503) Margaret Bothwell – who was also alive in 1545 (and perhaps even in 1555).[7]

He was already old enough, in 1489, to have a grandson baptized with the king as sponsor.

By Margaret Forsyth Sir Duncan had “five sons and one daughter, Margaret, who was married to Sir Alexander Forrester [sic] of Corstorphine…” With his second wife, Forrester had “four sons and three daughters.” In addition to Margaret Forrester (wife of Forrester of Corstorphine), Sir Duncan had a son and heir, Sir Walter Forrester, who married a connection of the Livingstons of Kilsyth in Agnes Graham, sister of the 1st Earl of Montrose and niece of the Elizabeth Graham who married (yet another) William Livingston of Kilsyth.[8]

Other children of Sir Duncan Forrester and Margaret Bothwell included Robert Forrester, who was “burnt on the Castle Hill, Edinburgh, ‘be ye papists last February (1538-9) for ye reformation.’” Another son of the second marriage was William Forrester, burgess of Stirling – likely already seen in the 1555 document naming his widow and mother.[9]

So while Sir Walter Forrester was married before 1489, Marion Forrester was married by 1525 – and her son was not yet of age in 1545. Was the Barbara Forrester who married Alexander Livingston of Inches – second son of the second William Livingston of the four here mentioned[10] – another one of the daughters of Sir Duncan Forrester and Margaret Bothwell?

At the very least, Thomas Forrester’s mother is the grandmother of William Livingston of Kilsyth … and given what is known of the Kilsyth branch (and the explicit details of the 1545 document) it must be through Marion Forrester that Thomas Forrester’s mother comes into the picture.


[1] John C. Gibson, Lands and Lairds of Larbert and Dunipace Parishes (Glasgow: Hugh Hopkins, 1908), 16.

[2] Edwin Brockholst Livingston, The Livingstons of Callendar and Their Principal Cadets: The History of an Old Stirlingshire Family (Edinburgh: Printed at the University Press by T. and A. Constable for the author, 1920), 215.

[3] Sir James Balfour Paul, The Scots Peerage, 9 vols. (Edinburgh: David Douglas, 1904-14), 4: 82-84.

[4] Livingston, The Livingstons of Callendar, 61-63.

[5] Ibid., 377.

[6] Paul, The Scots Peerage, 5: 187.

[7] Gibson, Lands and Lairds of Larbert and Dunipace Parishes, 136-37.

[8] Gibson, Lands and Lairds of Larbert and Dunipace Parishes, 136; Paul, The Scots Peerage, 4: 87, 6: 223.

[9] Gibson, Lands and Lairds of Larbert and Dunipace Parishes, 136-37.

[10] Elizabeth Graham and William Livingston were the parents of William Livingston, who married Janet Bruce of Airth; grandparents of William Livingston, who married Marion Forrester; and great-grandparents of William Livingston, the young heir to Kilsyth in 1545.

Scott C. Steward

About Scott C. Steward

Scott C. Steward has been NEHGS’ Editor-in-Chief since 2013. He is the author, co-author, or editor of genealogies of the Ayer, Le Roy, Lowell, Saltonstall, Thorndike, and Winthrop families. His articles have appeared in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, NEXUS, New England Ancestors, American Ancestors, and The Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine, and he has written book reviews for the Register, The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, and the National Genealogical Society Quarterly.View all posts by Scott C. Steward