© Noel Harrower 2015
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                The Harrowers in Balgownie Farm,  Culross I have been researching Harrowers in Fife for many years. My own family came from the lovely old burgh of Culross, near which they had farmed for many generations. It was my great grandfather who left the area and came to Manchester to benefit from the Victorian cotton boom. (He had previously served an apprenticveship in the Dunfermline Linen Mills.)  My father had memories of staying with great aunts in Culross around 1910, when they kept the village stores, and in the 1950’s we had a family holiday in Scotland and visited the little town. We all fell in love with it and genealogy has been a hobby ever since. We visited the old family home, renovated in 1826 by my great grandfather, who was a stonemason, we saw the family grave and we found the records in Edinburgh. Years later, I traced my great great grandfather’s will and found that he had been born at Balgownie Farm. This led me on to search the local records, and gradually our family tree grew longer. Balgownie was a small farmtoun, a mile and a half to the north. The name means “place of the smiths.” (There was an old forge there on the early maps) But the Erskine family owned a big tract of land in the area, which was let out to tenant farmers, and the surname Harrower cropped up on several of these farms. The earliest reference I have found to Harrowers in Balgownie was in 1718, and that was a reference in Beveridge’s “History of Culross” to a curious event, which was brought to the Kirk Session. The minutes read as follows: What appears to have most disturbed the Kirk Session was not so much the theft or the wrong accusation, but the pre-Christian belief that a deaf mute had the powers of second sight. This is made clear by an entry made two weeks later. We hear no more of John Harrower. He appears to have been exonerated. The next tenant at Balgownie was Robert Harrower, almost certainly the son of his younger brother David and Jean Micklejohn. Robert married Janet Wilson and they had four sons and two daughters according to the Parish Records. The eldest son, another Robert born in 1742, continued as the tenant for another generation.  The second son, David, born 1744 became tenant of the neighbouring Balgownie Park Farm and the third son, John, who was my great-great-great grandfather farmed at neighbouring Righead, according to his son’s testament. I have not found any trace of the fourth son, James. I found papers deposited at Dunfermline Library showing that the father, Robert Harrower, was witness to the will of his landlord, Balgownie. The link between landlord and tenant continued into the third and fourth generations, as my great great grandfather’s daughter,  Jane was employed as a companion to a descendant, Mrs Magdelaine Erskine Shairp, when she lived as a recluse in neighbouring Dunimarle Castle in Victorian times, and although Balgownie was then farmed by one John Kilgour, his wife was Lilias, daughter of a certain James Harrower. It is difficult to be precise about some of these kinships, but it is clear that the Balgownie Farms were tenanted by Harrowers from around the days of George 1st to the girlhood of Queen Victoria.                             ---------------------------------------------------
Harrowers in Balgownie Farm
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