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Glenbuchat Heritage

2 Alexander Walker Biography Part 1
The Glenbuchat Image Library
2 Alexander Walker Biography Part 1

Alexander Walker Biography.

Click for Alexander Walker Introduction

Alexander Charles Walker (Picture above) was a remarkable character. In the 1851 census, when he had just started as a gardener at Newe Castle, it stated that he was a ‘Gardner, Musician & occ. mathematical instrument designer’. It does not include, however, his skills as composer, journalist, surveyor, inventor, archaeologist or meteorologist. When we consider that added to this he also wrote 196 fiddle tunes and eventually emigrated to the USA and became a surveyor. He was truly a remarkable man.

1819: Born New Forest Croft near Rhynie
1841: Living at Hillpark Enzie near Fochabers
1840’s: Apprentice Gardener at Letterfourie estate
1848: Gardener at Mayen House Rothiemay
1850: Garden Project in Portsoy
1851: Exhibited inventions at the Great Exhibition in London
1851: Gardner at Newe Castle for Sir Charles Forbes
1866: Death of daughter Jane aged 4
1866: Publication of Collection of 196 fiddle tunes
1870: Emigrated to USA, Gardener at Forbes House in Milton Massachusetts
1871: Gardener at Forbes Manor, Bath on Hudson, New York
1880’s: Moved to Williamstown, Berkshire, Massachusetts
1905: Died at Williamstown, Berkshire, Massachusetts

Summary of Accomplishments
Gardener: At Newe Castle 1851- 1870
Musician: Leader of Newe Band and Fiddler in Balmoral Orchestra
Composer: Collection of 196 Fiddle tunes
Inventor: of machinery and measuring instruments
Surveyor: Full time surveyor when in USA
Meteorologist: Regular reports on weather conditions
Archaeologist: Exploration of Eirde Houses, Doune of Invernochty
Journalist: Regular reports and letters to the Banffshire Journal
Lonach Man: Leader of Lonach Band and Quartermaster

Early Days

Alexander’s full family tree is noted in the last section of this album, but the following is a brief outline of his life:

Alexander Walker’s mother, Margaret Wilson, was born in Glass Aberdeenshire in 1873. She married Robert Walker on 28 Jun 1821 when she was 38 and was living at Rhynie & Essie, Aberdeenshire at the time. She had three children to Robert Walker, namely John Walker (1816- ) Ann Walker (1817-) and Alexander Charles Walker (1819 - ). All children were born before the marriage. Robert Walker, Alexander’s father, then disappears from the records and we don’t know what happened to him; did he die. On 12 Dec 1824 Margaret married Robert Ogg (1789-1868) when she was aged 41 and still at Rhynie & Essie, Aberdeenshire. Together they had two more children, George Ogg (1825-) and Jean Ogg (1827-). Robert Ogg had been born in Strathdon.

In 1851, aged 68, Margaret Walker was staying in Rathven, Banffshire, and in 1861 at the age of 78 she stayed at Enzie, in Banffshire. She died on 24 Jan 1867 aged 84 in Midwood, Enzie, Banffshire. Robert Ogg who had been born on 16 Aug 1789 at Rinstock, Strathdon, died on 12 Apr 1868 in Farnaughty, Enzie, Banffshire.

Alexander Charles Walker, Margaret Wilson’s third son, was born in Apr 1819 in Rhynie. He died aged 86 in 1905 in Williamstown Mass. USA. He married Jane Shaw (1830-1880) daughter of William Shaw of Strathdon and Margaret McHardy on 7th Aug 1856 in Strathdon. They had seven children, Caroline Louisa Forbes Walker born 4 Jun 1857 in Strathdon, Margaret Jane Walker born 12 Mar 1859 in Strathdon, Jane Walker born 27 Oct 1861 in Strathdon, Charles John Forbes Walker born 23 Aug 1863 in Gardener's Cottage, Castle Newe, Strathdon, Alexander Ramsay Walker born 31 Aug 1865 in Strathdon, George Gordon Walker born 13 Apr 1869 in Strathdon, and Jessie Walker born about 1872 in New York, after their move to the USA.

Alexander moved to the USA in 1870 and died in about 1905 in Williamstown Massachusetts USA. His wife Jane also died in that year aged 75.

Alexander spent his early life in a croft called New Forest, (See Picture Above) -near the village of Rhynie Aberdeenshire. It is not known for how long the family stayed there, or when his mother moved away from the area. He obvious had affection for Rhynie, the area and its people. We can trace some of his interest through his tune names.

Details of New Forest Alexander's birthplace.

‘The Banks of Boggie’: a river that flows near Rhynie
‘Castle Craig’ or the Craig of Auchindoir: is located on the edge of Aberdeenshire’s “wild west”, between Lumsden and Rhynie.
‘Kirkney Water’: A stream in Aberdeenshire, the Kirkney Water rises to the east of Cabrach. It flows north and northeast through Clashindarroch Forest to join the River Bogie at Culdrain, 4 miles (6.5 km) northeast of Rhynie.
‘The Braes of Rhynie’

J. Murray Neil who wrote ‘The Scots Fiddle: Tunes, Tales & Traditions of the North East and Central Highlands’ comments on Alexander’s early life:,
“Up to the age of eleven Alexander Walker was too young to walk to school at Lesmoir, some four miles from his home at New Forest farm, Rhynie, where he was born on the eighth of April, 1819 but he received private tuition at home along with two other children during these formative years. When he did go to school, and that was restricted to the winter months since he had to herd sheep in the summer, he was fortunate to have an excellent teacher in Robert Milne. In addition to giving him a good general education, particularly in mathematics and surveying, which was to stand him in good stead in later years when he practised engineering and land surveying, he also taught him to play the fiddle with lessons on a Saturday morning. About 1840 he started his apprenticeship as a gardener to Sir James Gordon of Letterfourie, and after its successful completion he spent a year studying botany and mathematics at Rathven School. He married Jane Shaw from Corgarff, Strathdon in 1856.”

Alexander ‘s family home, the croft of New Forest,(Maps pictured above) lay in the shadow of the hill, Tap o’Noth by Rhynie celebrated in his tune ‘Tap o’ Noth. He also remembers his family home in his tune ‘New Forest’.

The Maps below show the site and detail of the croft at New Forest and also the map of the site today, which shows that there is now no trace of the cottage

As noted above, Alexander, when he was old enough, attended the school at Lesmoir (noted in the map and satellite picture above). The school was beside the farm of Milton of Lesmoir indicating that there was also a water mill there. J. Murray Neil says that he was tutored by a teacher named Robert Milne. There is no trace of this teacher but there is a record of a Robert Milne at the Mill (Milton) of Lesmoir. So perhaps this was also the teacher’s home, next door to the school, all though he is noted as a farmer in the 1841 census. It may be that Robert worked the farm as well as teaching.

1841 Census Rhynie and Essie for Robt Milne
Age: 50 Estimated birth year: abt 1791
Gender: Male
Address: Mill of Lesmore
Occupation: Farmer
Household Members: Name Age
Robt Milne50
Helen Milne35
Helen Milne15
Agnes Milne10
William Milne10
Robt Milne5
James P Milne5
Mary Stuart10
John Peterkin20
Duncan Allanach40

3. Alexander Walker’s Move to the Moray Coast

Picture added on 11 July 2016 at 11:49
This picture is in the following groups
Further to Alexander Walker, gardener at Castle Newe and a man of many interests. He has a connection to the Mouats' Stone which stood in upper Glenbuchat marking the spot where the confrontation) took place between the Forbes' and the Mouats'. Dr W. D. Simpson, sometime Head Librarian at Aberdeen University, historian, archaeologist and compiler of the Book of Glenbuchat recorded the following in his field notes on the Glen (Univ. Aberdeen Special Collections).
'Alexander Walker, gardener, Castle Newe, caused diggings to be made about the spot, and unearthed a dirk which is supposed have dealt the fatal blow. He subsequently presented it to Banff Museum, and an attached card has the following inscription:- A dirk believed to have belonged to Mouat of Abergeldie from the fact of its having been found near the place where the fatal affray took place between him and the Forbes of Castle Forbes, Mouat having been mortally wounded.' Henderson, Epitaffs and Inscriptions, p 483.
The dirk was examined by James Beard(?) and dated to from the end of the 14th - end of 15th centuries. A description appears in his paper Arms and Armour in Banff Museum (Trans. Banff Field club, 19 dec,1910.

This find adds a little more substance to the legend associated with Glenbuchat and commemerated in the book 'Kate Cameron of Brux :or True Love Tested. A Legend of Donside.'
Dr Simpson visited the site of the Mouats' Stone in 1960, but it was no longer visible. Mr Webster, game keeper at the Lodge stated that it had disappeared in a landslide on June 29th 1953. Presumably, it is still there awaiting excavation and the dirk is still in Banff Museum.
Added by Ken Cruickshank on 26 July 2016
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