The Trotters of Mortonhall

Mortonhall near Edinburgh

While I try and come to terms with my ancestors’ role in slavery in the West Indies my cousin Hamish Maclaren has added some new branches to the collective family tree of Maclarens, Birtwistles and Many Other Families that he’s been building at Rootsweb. He’s managed to help me go back a few more generations with the genealogical dead end I’d mentioned in my earlier posts, this includes John Trotter, 1st of Morton Hall going back to Thomas Trotter, of Catchelraw:

trotter-armsI’m descended from the Trotters through my Maitland and Marjoribanks ancestors. Elizabeth Trotter married Edward Marjoribanks, of Hallyards. She was the daughter of John Trotter, 1st of Morton Hall. According to the Mortonhall website, he was born in 1588, and was a younger son of Robert Trotter of Catchelraw in Berwickshire. Interestingly, my cousin Hamish cites the Clan MacFarlane site and shows John as being descended from Thomas Trotter, of Catchelraw. I’ll be adding Morton Hall to be fantasy visit to Edinburgh, but in the meantime here is some more infromation from their site about the The Trotters of Catchelraw and the Mortonhall Estate:

The Trotters of Catchelraw were one of the Foraging and Riding Clans of the East Marches; long involved in the fluid uncertainties of Border Reiver life on the Scottish East March.

The chaotic world of the Border Reivers was brought to an effective end by the 1603 Union of the Crowns. The resulting order and stability, for the first time in history, delivered the possibility of a safe life, in the clean air beyond the medieval walls of Edinburgh, Scotland’s overcrowded and unhygienic capital city.

A cleaner and healthier rural life must have appealed to John Trotter, who as younger son had been fortunately apprenticed in Edinburgh and, empowered by a successful merchant career, was able to acquire Mortonhall and its associated Scots barony in 1635.

Before 1635 when in Edinburgh the Trotter family had lived at Trotter’s Close on the High Street (Royal Mile). This address is today 107 High Street and is known as Baillie Fyfe’s Close. On one of the upper window lintels you can still see John Trotter’s coat of arms. John Trotter died in 1641 and was buried in the Northwest corner of Greyfriars Kirkyard where today stands the Trotter of Mortonhall family mausoleum.

Mortonhall is a country estate that evolved from a moated defensive country seat in 1635 to a prosperous agricultural property on the back of the peace & stability.

The built architecture found at the centre of Mortonhall estate dates from 1760 demonstrating no perceived need for defensive fortifications and moats.  The domesticated buildings illustrate the new confidence found in Scotland following the 1707 Acts of Union and the final Jacobite defeat at Culloden in 1745.


2 thoughts on “The Trotters of Mortonhall

  1. My name is Joshua Stephen trotter my grandfather holds a family bible dating back to John trotter apparently he is a ancestor of mine if you or anyone here does genealogy please contact me by email at I look forward to finding my long lost relatives thank you for your time!

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