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.

8 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!

  2. Dear Sir,

    Several years ago I was researching my Lorimers from Aberdeen. In fact, I descent form a dr William Lorimer, who founded bursaries at Marischal College in Aberdeen in the late 17th or early 18th century. I decided to write to the Aberdeen University Archives and they replied with a letter to which several copies were appended regarding the academic will and testament of dr William Lorimer.

    I have it here but I do not know exactly where I put it, sorry!! But I remember, though faintly, that dr William Lorimer left some money to Marischal College and decared that youngsters who descended from a John Trotter (or similar name), his maternal grandfather, could study under his bursary only if they, at the age of 15 or 16 could read in Latin and know Milton,s Paradise Lost very well.

    I wrote John Trotter or a similar name becaus e I do not remember the name of his maternal grandfather exactly. At that time, I was very excited to know more about the books dr William Lorimer had published, all dealing with god, deism and I found it very interesting because the University Library holds such books. Alas I did not continue that research and have not been able to find that specific copy about his academic testament among my numerous papers, since they were mixed with other documents from other ancestors of mine. Actually I reasearch all my lines and some are traced easily, other, not.

    In any case, I should like to ask you if you could possibly check or if you have ever heard about the connection between the Lorimers descending from the Trotters in the Highlands.

    In the Familysearch database, there is an entry for William Lorimoore marrying Heleine Trotter in the first half of the 17th century.

    I have a connection, published in Pedigree of Bean of Portsoy, a family tree which was first published in about 1895 (see Ferguson, Family Histories, 1986). It reads that dr William Lorimer had a daughter, Barbara Lorimer, who married John Bean (the son of John Bean and wife Janet Grant). There is a connection with the Grants of Freuchie but such connection has not been made successfully yet. John Bean’s family tree was enriched in the 20th century (See The History of the Bean Family – Mersea Museum – there are two onine accounts). The Lorimers were connect to Sir Ludovick Grant of Grant (Findlater and Seafiled) and I think it is because of the wider connetion with my Lorimers and my Grants.

    Well, the first dr William Lorimer married N. and had a child: dr William Lorimer, married to Mary Follier (we thought it was Folla but was eventually Follier; the daughter of Alexander Follier and wife Janet Fraser).
    Dr William Lorimer, married to Mary Follier, had several children by his wife(I entered their names in the site, a Portuguese site). Barbara Lorimer was born in about 1702 and was the first wife of John Bean’s , born about 1717 (son of John Bean and Janet Grant). Jonn Bean, widower of Barbara Lorimer, married secondly Miss Mary Edwards, by whom he had no children.
    John Bean and Barbara Lorimer had several children, some died in infancy or were stillborn but at leat three of them survived:
    1. Alexander Bean, who married Miss Dickinson whose ancestry can be discussed. Some say that she belonged to a Quaker family, others say that she descended from Huguenots from France through her maternal side. The authors of both family trees of John Bean descend from this branch (Mrs Burgess, Mrs Burton of Windsor (I think) and Willoughby John Bean).
    James Bean, who married Cornelia Barlow, born at Accomb Hall, York, the daughter of Samuel Barlow and wife N. Drake, sister to Sir Dawsone Drake, hereditary governor of Madras and great-great-grand-nephew of Sir Francis Drake, who left no issue.
    2. Jean Bean (my ancestor), who married Alexander Gray (shipmaster) in 1766. They left issue:
    James Gray (died young); Jean Bean married secondly Mr Cruickshand of Muiryfold and had issue, too.
    Barbara Gray, married John Wilson (shipowner, of the Deveron) and, among others, had a son, born Scotland 1812, Sir James Milne Wilson KCMG, premier of Tasmania (leaving issue), and
    3. Jean Gray (1775-1847/48 (my ancestor), who married (Porstoy, 1799) Alexander Wilson, 1st lieutenant Royal Marines, a friend and secretary of Edward Pellew, 1st viscount Exmouth. They had issue.

    If the connection between the Lorimers and the Trotters is correct, then there is an avalanche of descendants both in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Brazil, where my branch of the family settled in 1819 because they were merchants. However, if there is no connection with my family, please accept my apologies in advance, for I must have mixed up the family name of Trotter.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    With kind regards,
    Eduardo Pellew Wilson
    email adress:

  3. Hello! I am in the USA and have a will or land deed of Robert Trotter of Morton Hall. It is quite old and as you might imagine, difficult to interpret the text as the spelling/ English is not standardized. It is on vellum and difficult to photograph but if anyone is interested in its contents I could try to transcribe it.



    1. Yes! I would love a picture of the deed if at all possible? ( I am in the USA and am related to John Trotter of Morton Hall as well as the Trotters from Northern Ireland; the Trotters of Ontario Canada..Algoma

  4. hi i have just completed our ancestry tree and traced it back to Thomas Trotter of Morton hall any help appreciated.
    John Trotter

  5. Hi, I have absolutely no genealogical connection but I do have a small leatherbound book by Jacobi Cruci – in Latin – Suada Delphica – dated 1693 – with a coat of arms inside – which I Googled and found to be of tha Trotters of Moreton Hall. Please email me if you are interested and I can provide photos. As it is an antique book in its own right, regardless of the connection, I shall be looking for an offer over £100 and will probably put it on ebay but thought that this group might appreciate first refusal.. Thank you.

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