The Glenbuchat Image Library
No Contributor Year: 20164 Alexander Walker’s move to Mayen House
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In the late 1840’s there is evidence that Alexander Walker had moved from Letterfourie House and was working at Mayen House. (Picture and map above) Mayen House is probably about 15 miles south east of Alexander’s Home in Enzie. Alexander is also recorded as being a correspondent for the Banffshire Journal from 1848 – 1850 when he was based at Mayen. (See tunes ‘Bonny Lass of Rothiemay’ and ‘Mayen House’)
‘Mayen House is in the parish of Rothiemay and the county of Banffshire. The parish belonged to The Earl of Fife except about one tenth part which is the property of Major Alexander Duff. His Lordship occasionally visits his property here but Major Duff constantly resides at Mayen in this Parish where he has built an elegant and commodious house.’
The Mayen Estate is in a very private location overlooking the Deveron Valley which forms a horseshoe around the Estate.
Mayen House, dating from 1788, forms the centre of the Estate, which extends to about 740 acres of agricultural land and woodlands. The property was originally part of the barony of Rothiemay, which David II bestowed on his faithful adherent William de Abernethy in the 14th century. In 1455 the then Abernethy laird became the first Lord Saltoun. The family held the property until 1612, when it passed to the Gordons. Later (1649) it was purchased by Alexander Hacket, whose daughter carried it to her husband - Alexander Abernethy, a cadet of the Saltoun family again.
John Abernethy of Mayen was one of the Jacobites who surrendered at Banff in 1715. John's son James shot dead John Leith of Leith Hall in an Aberdeen street after an election meeting, was outlawed and had to flee abroad. James Abernethy died unmarried and intestate in 1785 and the property passed to Major Alexander Duff, husband of his elder sister Jane Abernethie. Major Duff built Mayen House and demoted the old house as the Mains of Mayen.
At the time of Alexander Walker working there, Mayen House was owned by a Mr John Gordon. John Gordon died in 1857 aged 30.
There is evidence from the Banffshire Journal that Alexander was working at Mayen at least from 1848 to 1850 when he moved to Castle Newe. During that time he provided articles for the Banffshire Journal. He played his violin at various functions in the neighbourhood and also undertook some garden design work for the Portsoy Council.
Above is a report of Alexander playing at Grange nearby Mayen, to celebrate the birthday of the Earl Fife the local landowner.
It is important to remember that Alexander’s job was that or gardener to which he paid particular attention. Above is an article Alexander wrote in the Banffshire Journal in 1849 about pruning the fruit trees at Mayen House.
In 1853, after Alexander had moved to Castle Newe, he was still undertaking a commission to re landscape some public gardens at Rose Acre Cottage, Portsoy. He did this so successfully that he was entertained to a supper by 30 of the town’s folk in gratitude. (See News Paper cutting above). (Also see tune ‘John Forbes). John Forbes a lawyer in Portsoy gives a handsome statement of Alexander’s qualities in the article.
The Banffshire Journal
It is perhaps relevant to introduce another facet of Alexander’s life and that is of his being a writer and journalist. It is noted that in the late 1840s while at Mayen, Alexander was an agent for the Banffshire Journal. Over time Alexander submitted many articles to the Journal on Gardening, Meteorology, Surveying and also letters on music and antiquities.
The Banffshire Journal was edited by Alexander Ramsay (see tune ‘Alexander Ramsay’). In 1847, Alexander Ramsay was appointed editor of the 'Banffshire Journal,' a post which he filled for sixty-two years. He and Walker were obviously friends and when Alexander left for the USA in 1970 the paper commented on his move and recognised his contributions. (See newspaper report above)
5. Alexander Walker at the Great Exhibition
Picture added on 11 July 2016 at 12:15
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