Courtly Lives - Clan Balfour

The Balfour Clan
Written and Researched by Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewska, B.F.A.

The Balfour clan was from the barony of Fife. Balfour means "pasture village." The Balfours were a landed family in Fife from the later middle ages. John Balfour got a grant of the land of Balgarvy from James II, and his descendants held appointments in the royal household, and were later ennobled as the Balfour of Burleigh. At one time, there were twenty landed families of Balfour in Fife. My family is connected with the Balfour Barony in the parish of Markinch in Fife. Close to MilNathort is the ruin of Burleigh Castle built in the 16th century and visited by James VI. Balfour of Kinloch was said to have been a part of the plot to murder Archbishop Sharp, the Episcopalian Atchbishop of St. Andrews in 1679.

Balfour or Bal-orr, lands were located in the parish of Markinch in Fife. The Orr is the tributary of the River Leven. Tradition says that Siward, a Northumbrian, was given their land during the reign of Duncan I. In 1196 Michael de Balfour had a charter from William the Lion. Sir Duncan Balfour supported William Wallace and was killed at the Battle of Blackironside in 1298. Sir John Balfour of Balfour, died in 1375 and his estate passed to his daughter Margaret Balfour, who married Sir Robert de Bethune ... later on Cardinal Bethune and Mary Beaton.

The Balfours continued through the descent of Adam, brother of Sir John Balfour, who married into the MacDuff, Earl of Fife. Adam died at the Battle of Durham in 1346. Adam's son fathered the Balfours of Denmylne, Foret, Torry, and Kinloch.

James Balfour of Denmylne was killed in 1460 at the seige of Roxburgh, and his son, John, died along with the greater part of the Scottish nobility at the Battle of Flodden in 1513.

Sir Michael Balfour was the Comptroller of the Household of Charles I. Sir James Balfour, Sir Michael's son of Denmyline was Lord Lyon, King of Arms, in June 1630. In 1824, Sir Andrew Balfour, Baronet of the House of Denyline was a botanist and the founder of the Botanical Gardens of Edinburgh.

John Hutton Balfour (1808-1884) was a distinguished botanist and Arthur James Balfour (1848-1930) was British Prime Minister, created 1st Earl Balfour of Whittinghame in East Lothian. John Blair Balfour, Lord Adviocate for Scotland (1881-1885) was created 1st Baron Kinross of Glasclune in 1902. Balfour of Kinloch was said to have been a part of the plot to murder the Archbishop of St. Andrews in 1678.


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