Copyright 2024 Mary McGonigal Updated 21 June 2024 'Update' refers to the whole section update, not to each separate file.
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(1702-After 1775)
SMITH, Barbara
THOM, Arthur
(1703-After 1775)
(About 1705-)
THOM, Jean
STRACHEN, James 'Drumnagarrow'


Family Links

1. McKENZIE, Ann

STRACHEN, James 'Drumnagarrow' 2 3

  • Baptised: 4 September 1783, Glenbucket parish, Aberdeenshire, Scotland 3
  • Marriage (1): McKENZIE, Ann before 9 January 1805 1
  • Died: 2 October 1874 at 9.00 am, Ballachylach, Strathdon Parish, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

   Cause of his death was Infirmities of age.

   Another name for James was STRACHAN, James.

   User ID: M10.

  General Notes:

200/ 10 36

200/ 10 164

from Births and Baptisms

Old Parish Register
Glenbucket Parish Aberdeenshire

Septr 4 James Strachen in Drumnagarrie and Jean Thom his spouse had a son baptised Called James before witnesses"

In the other parish register entry for the baptism on 4 September 1783 of James Strachen whose father was James Strachen with no mother's name provided, the names of the witnesses were noted as 'John and James Forbeses in Tambreak'.

The census of 1841 has an entry which could well be this James Strachen. It is to be found in the parish of Oyne, Aberdeenshire. At 'Playfold', between Hillside and Hillbrae and Boghead, lived a farmer named Hugh Milne. The census of 1841 does not name him as head of the household, but that is probably what he was as he was named first. He was in the 40-44 years age group. Anne Milne named next was in the 45-49 years age group. Elisabeth and William Milne were aged 12 years and 10 years respectively. Three other people lived there: James Strachan, a square wright, aged in the 55-59 years age group; William Milne, an agricultural labourer, aged in the 20-24 years age group; and Isabel Gibb, a woman of independent means, aged in the 40-44 years age group. All of the people in the entry had been born in Aberdeenshire.

In 1851 James Strachan was living in Greyfriars parish, Aberdeen, with his daughter Ann, at 61 West North Street. James was recorded as 64 years of age and Ann as 26 years. Both had been born in Glenbucket Parish, Aberdeenshire. Ann was single and recorded as a house servant. James was a widower and by occupation was a musician.

The 1861 census for Strathdon Parish in Aberdeenshire recorded Margaret Coutts living at Ballochhilech with James Warrack, styled the head of the household, and James Strachan, recorded as a lodger. Margaret Coutts was recorded as a domestic servant. James Warrack was a merchant grocer who had been born in Towie parish. He was unmarried and aged 57 years. Margaret Coutts was unmarried and aged 50 years. Her birthplace was Strathdon parish. James Strachan was a widower, aged 78 years, and a musician. His birthplace was Glenbucket parish.

In 1871, the census recorded Margaret Coutts as head of a household living at Ballochhilech in Strathdon Parish, Aberdeenshire. She was unmarried and aged 65 years. Her birthplace was Strathdon parish, and her occupation that of merchant grocer. Two others lived in the household: James Strachan, recorded as her uncle, a musician of 87 years and a widower whose birthplace was Glenbucket; and James Warrack, designated a boarder, who was a retired farmer's son, unmarried, aged 66 years, who had been born in Towie.

James Strachan, a carpenter and widower of Ann McKenzie, died 2 October 1874 in Strathdon Parish. His recorded age at death was 91 years. His parents were both deceased.

In the death certificate of his son, James, in 1894, James Strachan was recorded as a farmer, deceased.

In the death certificate of his daughter, Mary Hardie, in 1910, James Strachan was recorded as a farmer. 3 4

  Research Notes:


In the Appendix to the Strachans of Glenkindie 1357-1726 there appears this quotation which applies to the family under review here:

Several families of the name of Strachan, in the parish of Towie, claim to be decended from the old Strachan of Glenkindie, viz., the Strachans at Mill of Culfork, and the Strachans at New Mains. The claim rests on tradition: there is no documentary proof.
There was also a family of Strachans at Drumnagarrow, in Glenbucket, (now, it is believed, extinct,) which was understood to be of the Glenkindie stock. The last of this family was a famous violinist, and had a great reputation as a player of strathspeys."

The editor, John A. Henderson, of Aberdeenshire Epitaphs and Inscriptions, also refers to a 'claim' as he terms it by the family at Drumnagarrow that they were descended from the Strachans of Glenkindie:

"The farm of Drumnagarrow was for a considerable period occupied by a family named Strachan, who claimed descent from
the Strachans of Glenkindie. The last of the family was an expert violinist, and had a deservedly high reputation as a player of
strathspeys. (See Colonel Allardyce's Strachans of Glenkindie, p. 43.) Indeed, many hold that he was the finest player of dance music that ever existed."

The violin player referred to in these quotations was James Strachen (1783-1874). It is unclear what is meant by "The last of the family", since James Strachen was not the last of his family line, but it may mean the last of the Strachans to live at Drumnagarrow in Glenbucket.


The area containing the farms mentioned with regard to James Strachan's entry are to be found south and south east of Kirkton of Oyne, south of Harthill Castle.


This means various things to different people. It seems, however, to describe a person with carpentry skills expert enough to tackle fine work - in James Strachan's case, violins perhaps?


This address is about a half mile north east of St Nicholas Church and Aberdeen Art Gallery.


"Mr M'Combie is an enthusiast in Scottish music, and an excellent judge of it, and has a fine collection of old strathspeys, many of them in MS., and very rare. He loves to recall the powers of the late Mr James Strachan, the famous Drumnagarrow, who used to be the leading player at the Easterskene balls many years ago."

from Memoir of the Family of M'Combie

Aberdeen Journal reported on 15 November 1820, that this James Strachan - here entitled Drumnagarrow - provided inspiration for celebration:

"The Right Honourable the Earl of Fife, and suite, arrived at Glenbucket the 5th curt. on his way to Duff House. On Monday, his Lordship's numerous tenantry, hearing of their Noble and beloved Master being among them, assembled to the number of several hundreds, with all the bonny lasses of the glen, to make merry for the occasion. The weather being very fine a large barn and extensive tent were fitted up, and brilliantly illuminated for the occasion, replenished with plenty of bread and cheese, and mountain dew. At eight o'clock, a deputation of about a hundred handsome highlanders, accompanied by Drumnagarrow, and his soul-inspiring band, waited on his Lordship, at the Manse, who most condescendingly walked to the ball-room, filled with beauty: - the surrounding mountains blazing with bon-fires - the rugged peak of Banew one sheet of flame."

From other sources we know that Strachan's forte was as a fiddle player, and other fiddlers, James Scott Skinner, for example, have paid tribute to his skill and brilliance.

quoted in The Book of Glenbuchat

I have an old book of tunes here that mentions 'I got the following tunes from Drumnagarrow' and then shows three handwritten tunes - two of which are well known but the third is not. Now having looked at the Glenbuchat site I have found the fiddler must have been James Strachan. There is a photo of him playing. Is there any chance I could have a good copy of this cameo photo? I have been asked to write an article about the book for the Piping Today magazine. The book was collected by Captain John Grant (1799- 1867) who bound together his own collection of fiddle tunes with several other book collections in 1847. I can send you a copy of the page with the sentence and the 3 tunes if you like?

Best Regards,
Christine Martin"

from email 2010


A manuscript (ID JSS0102) in the hand of the famous violinist, James Scott Skinner, Skinner's hand reads:

"Modern critics condemn the too frequent use of the triplet, but they are as sunlight to a picture the tree to lin' burnie, moreover the old composers used them lavishly see 'Lady Ann Hope' 'Stirling Castle' & Brig o' Dee'. The late John Strachan 'Drumnagarrow' is said to have had a hand in this tune 'Drummy' was a famous player and assisted the Editors (i.e. Skinner's) Father."

from Scott Skinner website

Note: James Strachan is referred to erroneously as John Strachan, as in the Skinner quoteation above, and, elsewhere, as Alex Strachan. The name of the famous "Drumnagarrow" was definitely James. 2 5 6 7 8

  Medical Notes:

James had no medical attendant.

Margaret Coutts, a niece of James Strachan, who was present where the death occurred, gave notice of her uncle's death before James Wattie, Registrar, on 7 October 1874 at Strathdon and made her X mark.

James married Ann McKENZIE, daughter of John McKENZIE and Jean THAIN, before 9 January 1805.1 (Ann McKENZIE was born about 1783 and died before 30 March 1851.)

  Marriage Notes:

No marriage record has been found for this couple in parish registers. However, Ann McKenzie was recorded as the spouse of James Strachen in the parish registers of Glenbucket when their daughter Mary was baptised:

"9 January 1805
Said day James Strachen in Drumnagarie & Ann McKenzie his spouse had a daughter baptised called Mary before witnesses"


1 Old Parish Registers of the Church of Scotland, Glenbucket parish Aberdeenshire Baptisms.

2 e-books, Aberdeenshire Epitaphs and Inscriptions by John A. Henderson (1907).

3 GRO Scotland, OPR Index of Births and Baptisms.

4 1841 UK Census, Oyne parish Aberdeenshire 230/ 2/ 5.

5 James Allardyce, The Strachans of Glenkindie 1357-1726 (1899), Appendix pages 42 and 43.

6 e-books, The Book of Glenbuchat by W. Douglas Simpson (1942 Third Spalding Club).

7 e-mail, Christine Martin 28 November 2010.

8 Internet Site,

Copyright 2024 Mary McGonigal

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