In 1400 Duthac Carnegie married Mariota of Kinnaird and the Castle dates from that time. Early records were lost in 1452 when the castle was burnt down after the battle of Brechin. The Carnegies were, for once, on the winning side supporting the King but unfortunately the Earl of Crawford, who was on the losing side, took revenge on those who had fought against him.
The titles came in the 17th century after two consecutive generations served the crown (Lord Carnegie 1616, Earl of Southesk 1633). The Castle’s most famous resident was James, Marquis of Montrose. He married Magdalene, daughter of the 1st Earl, in 1629 and they spent the first 3 years of their married life living here. He achieved great fame by leading the Royal army in the Civil War in the 1640’s, winning numerous victories usually against larger armies. Eventually he was betrayed and captured. He was then taken to Edinburgh where he was hung, drawn and quartered by his great adversary the Earl of Argyll.
The 5th Earl made the mistake of supporting the Old Pretender (who spent one of his last nights in Scotland here) in 1715 before leaving from the port of Montrose, after the failure of his rebellion. The Earl had his titles and lands confiscated.
The estate was bought back by the closest living descendant in 1764 and the Castle transformed by the architect, James Playfair in 1791 into a large but handsome house.
The family titles were regained in 1855 and at that time the 9th Earl employed David Bryce to remodel the house in high Victorian baronial style and it now boasts the largest collection of coats of arms on any private British building.
Only seventy years later, in 1921, the castle was severely damaged by fire and has been rebuilt over the last 80 years giving a chance to add the modern conveniences.
The family names associated with Kinnaird are confusing. Southesk and Carnegie were the titles until the middle of the last century when the current Duke of Fife’s father inherited that title from his aunt who went by the unlikely name of Princess Arthur of Connaught. She was, however, also the Duchess of Fife in her own right. The Dukedom was created when the Earl of Fife married the Princess Royal, daughter of King Edward VII, and it was recreated so that it could pass through the female line when it became clear that there would be no male heir.
On the death of the first Duke it passed, therefore, to his eldest daughter (later Princess Arthur). The Duff family came from the Moray/Banff area and until 100 years ago it held huge estates throughout that area and in Aberdeenshire.