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1562 Battle of Corrichie

The Battle of Corrichie in 1562 was a decisive battle between Catholic Scottish Lords who rebelled against the rule of Mary, Queen of Scots. However, this was also a major clan conflict between the Gordons and Forbeses.

Mary, Queen of Scots

Queen Mary was six days old when her father King James V died and she acceded to the throne in 1542. The country was ruled by regents while Mary lived in France and was married to Francis II of France. After he died, she returned to Scotland in 1561 to find the country torn between Catholic and Protestant factions. The Catholic George Gordon, 4th Earl of Huntly, then Lord Chancellor, was dismayed by Queen Mary’s acceptance of Protestants in her privy council and led a rebellion against her in the Highlands.

While the Lords Forbes held much of their estate from Huntly and had entered into agreements of mutual defense against a common foe, the Government formally released them from these oaths. This allowed Lord Forbes to join Clan Fraser, Clan Munro, Clan Mackenzie, Clan Mackintosh, Clan Mackay, Clan Murray, and Clan Cameron to rally to the Royalist cause while Huntly rallied Clan Gordon and Clan Brodie.

Plaque on Corrichie Burn Battle Monument

The armies met at Corrichie, near Aberdeen, Scotland, on October 28, 1562. The Royalist forces were commanded by Queen Mary’s half-brother, James Stewart, 1st Earl of Moray. Under him, William 7th Lord Forbes commaded the local clans of the Forbes, Leslie, Irvine, and Hays. The Queen's forces achieved a resounding victory in the Battle of Corrichie, with about 120 Gordons killed and another 100 captured. Both the Earl of Huntly and his eldest son Sir John Gordon of Findlater were among those captured. Huntly was already on a horse to be taken to Aberdeen when he suddenly died. Sir John Gordon was taken to Aberdeen and executed three days later. The Earl of Huntly’s body was preserved and taken to Edinburgh for trial. The Earl's younger son, 17-year-old Adam Gordon of Auchindoun, was also captured at Corrichie but was spared. This act of clemency led to more bloodshed between the Gordons and the Forbeses.

As reward for his loyalty, Lord Forbes received a charter in 1563 from Queen Mary promising him Huntly’s lands, since they would be held direct by the Crown. As directed, George Gordon, 5th Earl of Huntly, the second son of the George Gordon, 4th Earl of Huntly, granted a fresh charter of Smythston, Nocht and other lands to John, Master of Forbes (later 8th Lord Forbes) in 1568. This was confirmed under the Great Seal in 1573. This meant that the lands under the control of the Lords Forbes included estates in the parishes and districts of Alford, Forbes, Tullynessle, Auchindoir, Kearn, Keig, Tough, Cluny, Midmar, Glenmuick, Kincardine o' Neil, and as far away as Foveran.

Corrichie Burn Battle Monument

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