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Royal Deeside : History of Bonty, Aboyne


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Bonty is an old name associated with what is now Aboyne. Below, local historian, Jim Cheyne, explores what is known about Bonty.

I hope this page will amuse and interest the people of Aboyne and those that are in any way connected with Aboyne. It is meant to be of historical interest and I hope it becomes a subject for discussion among interested persons. From responses it may be possible to exactly locate where Bonty was within the present village of Aboyne and not some vague reference of being just east of the bridge of Aboyne.
I have produced a small booklet, with the same content, which is free to anyone who would like a copy. Just help with postage.

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Aboyne History Introduction Bonty Formaston Stone Aboyne Regiment 1745
Aboyne Gazebo Wartime Poetry War Records James Thomson  

Aboyne Castle Aboyne Castle was built as a Scottish 'tower-house'

The Reason for my Interest.

Many years ago I read of an old woman who had been fined by a court in Aboyne for using the name Bunty when referring to the village of Charlestown of Aboyne. She had been a game old bird and even after being fined she came out of the court room shouting "And Bunty yet, And Bunty yet!". There is another story that the laird had her ducked in the Dee for her persistent use of the name Bunty, and still she came up shouting "Bunty yet m'lud." All this happened in the late 1700's. I wrote to the Council and suggested that the name should not be lost to the village and sure enough the name has been used in the sheltered housing complex and a street name. I hope that brought a smile to the face of the old woman. Now that retirement is upon me I thought I would take the matter further, and via the Internet, let the world know of Bonty and that determined old woman.

At the same time I am asking for help in obtaining as much information on the old village. There is reputed to be an article written on Bonty, I do not know whether it is in a magazine, periodical of the time, or a booklet but that article probably has the answer to my questions on the old village. Many, many people have left Aboyne over the years, to settle in places, near and far. They may have some mementoes that have been passed down the generations that will give me information on Bonty. Even if there is no information forthcoming I hope that I have given a little background on the place we call home.

Please enjoy my little history.

A Short History of Bonty.

In a Charter of 1676 King Charles the Second granted to the Earl of Aboyne the town and lands of Over and Nether Bounties, with croft of the same, mill, mill lands, and multures thereof. Also granted was the privilege and freedom of erecting croves upon the water of Dee, at that part called the crove port, adjacent to the lands of Bontie. (There were many other lands granted to the Earl at the same time.) From that time on the name Bonty ceased to exist being replaced by the name Charlestown of Aboyne. There never was a village of Aboyne before 1676; Aboyne was the name of the parish, the castle and possibly the church at Formaston.

In the 1696 List Of Pollable Persons for Aboyne and Glentanar there is an entry for "The Millne of Charletoun." There is a very good possibility that this may be our Mill of Bonty, renamed by the Earl of Aboyne in 1676. There are 72 persons living there, not counting children or beggars, which make it a fairly substantial toon. Throughout time Bonty has been known as Bonte, Bonti, Bontye, Bounties, Bownte and Buntie. In the Robert Gordon map of c.1635 it is shown as Mill of Bountie. The Records of Aboyne by George, 11th Marquis of Huntly, the source of most of my information, gives the first mention of Bonty in a Charter dated 6th February 1552/53, as "the lands of Bonte and Mill".

In July 1563 a John Stewart was bailie in Bonte and the Stewart's continued there until 1577. In that year King James the Sixth gifted to a George Gordoun, along with other lands, "the Croft of Bontie called Mylne's Croft, Bontie and Mill thereof." (Mylne's Croft was Gilbert Mylne's Croft).

The men of Bonty were a troublesome lot. In 1592 Alexander Gordon was bound in the sum of 1000 merks to do nothing "in hurt of his Majesty's Government and the true religion nor take part with the Earl of Huntly nor other Jesuits seminary priests, trafficking papists, declared traitors and unnatural subjects." Two years later, in 1594, he is charged, along with others, to appear before the King and Council to answer for good rule and loyalty. Alex fell in battle at Glenlivet that year, along with his two brothers James and John. These Gordons were of the family of Tilphoudie. Just a few years later in July 1609, Partick Gordon of Bonte, along with six score others went to Aberdeen and followed Andrew Fraser of Stonywood and Alexander Fraser of Durris with drawn swords and hagbuts and pistolets. They would have slain the Frasers had the Magistrates not interfered.

Bonty is mentioned a number of times until 1676 when the great change took place and the name was replaced by Charlestown of Aboyne. The change to Bonty would not have taken place overnight nor would the name have fallen into disuse immediately. This is borne out by a letter written by a Lady Anne Duff dated 1st January 1766 in which she writes, "He had taken a fancy to call a little place nigh him by the name of New Aboyn: the old name was Buntie. The country people are not fond of noveltys and consiquently, continued to call it by its former name, which inraged my Lord so much that he made an Act in Court that any person that called it by the old name hou'd pay forfeit. Notwithstanding which, one old woman was so cross, that altho' she had often been taken to task, she wou'd never alter her method; and at last, after paying a double forfeit, she stood at the door of the Courthouse, still continuing to cry "And Buntie, yet! And Buntie, yet!"

Buntie must have been a pleasing and proud name in the mind of that old woman who had the nerve to stand up to the Baron Bailie, take her punishment and still maintain her stance. I think Bonty Court, in the Station Square, is as much a memorial to her as it is to the hamlet of old. The old woman would have attended at the Tollbooth which stood on the site of the Victory Hall and had served Charlestown of Aboyne until it was taken down in the 1790's.

Surprisingly there is no mention in any of the Charters of a ferry or boat at Bonty but there is mention of a boat at Bellwood in 1591. A boat was a very good source of revenue; Robert Davidson was granted a charter which included a fourth part of the boat at Belwode. This leads me to believe there was not a ferry at Bonty, only a ford. There would have been a ferry opposite the Boat Inn sometime after 1676 and there was definitely a ferry there before 1716. The Mill of Bonty would have been a substantial building where would it have been located? The Mill of Aboyne was located at the east end of Aboyne and was dated circa.1800, well after our time. This Mill was worked by a lade from off the Tarland Burn. Looking at old maps it is possible that the Burn was diverted from its original course to work the Mill of Aboyne. If that is so then the Mill of Bonty may have been located on the old course of the Burn.

There was a village cross for Charlestown of Aboyne because in 1717, after the Rebellion of 1715, a George Steele, a weaver in Charlestoun, gave evidence that on oath he had seen the burning of James Thom's furniture at the Cross-of-Charlestoun. This cross of Charlestown may have been the village cross for Bonty.

Victory  Hall, Aboyne

Aboyne Victory Hall

In the idleness of my retirement I would like to find out the following:

1. Where exactly was the township of Bonty situated?

2. Where was the Mill of Bonty?

3. What happened to the cross of Charlestown of Aboyne?

I would be grateful for answers to my questions and for any information on Bonty and its people.

With many thanks.

Jim Cheyne, Aboyne.

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Introduction A History of Royal Deeside The Deeside Railway The Old Military Road Old Kirkyardst
Queen Victoria and Royal Deeside John Brown, Loyal Servant Francis Farquharson Lord Byron, poet Alexander Gordon
Macbeth and Braemar Braemar Gathering and Highland Games History of Braemar Clan Farquharson Bridges of Ballater
19th Century Ballater History of Dinnet area Aboyne History Aboyne Wartime Poetry Aboyne Great War Records
History of Dinnet History of Tarland Scott Skinner, the Strathspey King Glen O' Dee Hospital Brunel's Bridge
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