The Punishment of Lady Lindsay

Lady Lindsay

Lady Lindsay

Around 1489 Alexander, Master of Lindsay, and his brother John, sons of the fifth Earl of Crawford, quarrelled and fought at Inverqueich Castle, in Lower Strathardle.

Alexander was severely wounded, he should have recovered had his wife not helped him on his way by smothering him with a down pillow as he lay in bed weak from loss of blood.

She was Lady Janet Gordon, daughter of George, Earl of Huntly and his wife, Princess Annabella daughter of King James I.  No sooner has she got rid of Lindsay then she took a second husband and married Patrick, son of Lord Grey. Coincidentally he died soon after they were married. Then without waiting she was married a third time, this time to Halberston of Southwood.

Inverqueich Castle is still talked about as 'Lady Lindsay’s Castle'.  It doesn't exist today.

Inverqueich Castle is still talked about as ‘Lady Lindsay’s Castle’. It doesn’t exist today.

Her crime had gone unpunished but in 1500 she was brought to trial and found guilty for the murder of the Master of Lindsay. Her punishment was to be imprisoned for the rest of her life on the top of Craig-an-Fhithiche (The Raven’s Rock), an impressive cliff that rises about 300 feet above the River Ericht; and here every day before she was allowed to eat and drink, she had to spin a thread long enough to reach from her prison down till it reached the water of the river, and there she lingered on, spinning her daily thread to an extreme old age. She is said to have lived to be over a hundred years of age.

Here history stops but as usual local tradition steps in, and draws aside the veil of time, and tells us how:

“Lady Lindsay sat on the Raven’s Rock,
An weary spun the lee lang day,
Tho’ her fingers were worn, they aye bore the stain
O’ the blood o’er her first lurve, the lycht Lindsay,”

1843 engraving from an old book called Perthshire Illustrated

1843 engraving from an old book called Perthshire Illustrated of the dramatic cliffs leading down to River Ericht

Then at last her shrivelled fingers were worn by the constant friction of the thread to mere stumps, and then she died. But as local legend tells us there was no rest for this murderess, for there her ghost was seen to sit and spin, and often a fisherman as he fished in the clear waters below Raven Rock was startled to see a shadowy thread coming slowly down from above till it touched the water when it instantly disappeared and the scared fisherman knew that the Lady Lindsay’s task was at least over for that day. So the thread of time was spun.

River Ericht - watch out when fishing

River Ericht – watch out when fishing

About Amanda Moffet

I run with Rodger Moffet. Live in Edinburgh and love travelling around Scotland gathering stories.

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14 thoughts on “The Punishment of Lady Lindsay

  1. Leisa Martick

    Thank You Ms. Moffet for the interesting legend of Lady Lindsay. I am a descendant of Earl Lindsay.


    Leisa Martick

  2. Mike Weathersby

    Hi! Interesting story. My family descends from Gordon and my wife from Lindsay. I’ve often seen that the clans were rivals but never could find a reason why.

  3. Vera-Lynn Smella

    I’m just starting to research my Grandfather’s name .He is a Lindsay as for as I know the only one left from his family .He had 5 daughters and so the name won’t carrie on . I named my son Lindsay .but as a first name only .I’m looking forward to learn more about the clan .

    • Abi

      Hi I’m looking into my family tree and it goes back to Lindsay and last Lindsay were descendant if the Gordon’s so if you related we’re partly related but not by blood

  4. Caroline Louise

    My Grandfather and his three brothers (and sister Jessie) were a well known Lindsay family in Edinburgh. All 4 lads fought in WWI and all came back alive and in tact–with all limbs! They were the only family in Edinburgh to not have a son die or lose an arm or leg in The Great War and there were 4 boys! They were all very handsome dandys known for their charms–very desired– my grandmother stole my grandfather from another woman that he was engaged to! The youngest of the boys, Richard, decided to emigrate to Australia, as so many Scots do. However, after packing his trunks and saying his good-byes, he was 5 minutes late and missed the boat! So, he asked where the next one was headed and when they said “New York,” he boarded. He met a New England woman (my Auntie Emily) and they married and he never returned to Scotland. My grandparents, however, raised their only child, my mum, in Edinburgh. But, when WWII broke out, they feared for her safety and put her on the Queen Mary, at 13 years old, alone, to make the crossing to America. Mum stayed with Uncle Dick & Auntie Emily in the Bronx, where she went to high school and became thoroughly Americanized. But when the War ended, she went home. Only to discover all the returning soldiers were getting into University, and that she, as a woman, didn’t stand a chance. And everyone in Edinburgh were starving. Her once well-off parents were eating sardines! She wanted to go back to NYC. Her parents, who doted on her, packed everything up and moved over with her so she could attend college. She did and she met my dad, a returning WWII vet and they were married in 1949. But my grandparents longed for home so, once they knew mum was ok., they returned to Edinburgh. Jack & Edith Lindsay were their names. My daughter’s last name has been changed to Lindsay. Another Uncle emigrated to Canada- London, On. I have 2nd cousins in Melbourne, Switzerland, Ontario, South Africa and, of course, Edinburgh. One is the bigwig Chief Inspector there and we’re very proud! And the next generation has an amazing athlete, a successful jewelry designer, a PhD that speaks several languages and wrote a novella at 15, a professional actor, and 3 of my 4 Uncles were Art Teachers— as am I– as well as a playwright. We Lindsays are a special lot indeed! I recall hearing this Lady Lindsay tale, long ago, so thank you for re-telling it. I didn’t remember any details so it was wonderful to find this! Endure Fort!

    • Richard Lindsey

      Hello Daryl, I recently moved to Virginia from Middle Tennessee but lived there for 15 years. Where is your father from?


    We are descendants of the Lindsay Clan from Scotland, Robert Lindsay
    29th Earl of Crawford and 12th Earl of Balcarres.
    After a dispute of sorts, the spelling of our Lindsay name was changed to Lindsey.

  6. Robert Lindsey

    Well I never we Lindsey’s each have a story. Our family left for Australia and since have been in South Africa and now Braszil. We have a gap in our family tree. We have been able to go back until John Lindsey born 1798.

  7. Kevin Bruce Lindsay

    I am Kevin Lindsay from Winnipeg Manitoba ,Canada .Both my parents are of Scottish background .If there are Lindsays who are either Scotland or from Canada .Please reply back to my email that I have involved with my email .


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