Early in the 12th century Alexander I of Scotland granted the lands of Anstruther to William de Candela. There has been several theories as to his origin but recent research suggests he may have been a Norman from Italy. There is evidence that William I of England, William the Conqueror, sought assistance from William, Count of Candela. He sent his son (or possibly his grandson). It may be this was the William de Candela, who received the grant of land from Alexander.
William de Candela’s son, another William, was a benefactor to the monks of Balmerino Abbey. The original site now occupied by the Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther was a gift from him. The de Candela name was dropped in the next generation, Henry is described as ‘Henricus de Aynstrother dominus ejusdem’ in a charter confirming grants of land to Balmerino Abbey. His son, Also called Henry was a companion of Louis IX in his crusades to the Holy Land and also swore fealty to Edward I in 1292 and again in 1296.
In 1483, Andrew Anstruther of Anstruther confirmed the barony and fought at Flodden in 1513. He married Christina Sandilands a descendant of Sir James Sandilands of Calder and Princess Jean, daughter of Robert II. His son, David served with Francis I of France in the French Scots Regiment, fighting at Pavia in 1520. This line of the family continued until 1928 where it ended with the death of the last Baron d’Anstrude in that year.
Andrew’s great-great-grandson was companion to the young James VI of Scotland. James appointed him Hereditary Grand Carver, a title still held by the head of the family to this day. In 1595 he became Master of the Household. His son, William, accompanied James to London following the Union of the Crowns in 1603. At James Coronation he was made a Knight of the Order of the Bath. He also held the title of Gentleman of the Bedchamber to James VI, a title he shared with his younger brother, Sir Robert.
His son Sir Phillip fought on the royalist side in the civil war. He was taken prisoner at Worcester and his property was seized until the Restoration. His third son, Robert, was made a baronet in 1694 and acquired Balcaskie in 1698. His eldest son was a Privy Councilor and Lord of Session, Lord Anstruther. Lord Anstruther’s son, John, married Lady Margaret Carmichael, daughter of the second Earl of Hyndford. A fifth brother Sir Alexander Anstruther, married the Hon. Jean Leslie, granddaughter of the civil war general, David Leslie.
Robert, elder son of the third Baronet of Balcaskie, served in the Scots Fusilier Guards and took part in the French Revolutionary wars, Abercromby’s Egyptian Campaign and the Peninsular War. He was in command of a brigade at Vimiero in 1808 and the rear guard during the retreat to Corunna, where he died in 1809. Later generations continued in the political and military traditions of their ancestors serving as members of parliament and in many British regiments such as the Grenadier Guards, the Royal Engineers, the Black Watch, and the Coldstream Guards. 7th Baronet, Sir Ralph Anstruther was awarded the Military Cross during the Second World War.
The chief’s seat is still at Balcaskie in Fife.