Torthorwald Castle | Later History

Early History | The Site | The Tower | Later History

William Carlyle was succeeded at Torthorwald by his eldest son. John. who had a distinguished career in the service of the crown. Among the many offices he held at various times
were those of Keeper of Threave and Lochmaben castles and Justiciary of Annandale.  He was created Lord Carlyle of Torthorwald in 1473.  In the same year he changed the name of
the castle to ‘Carlyle’. and received a crown charter erecting the town ot Torthorwald into a free burgh of barony, to be called the “town of Cairleill”. Just before his death in 1500/1, his grandson and heir, Sir William Carlyle. received a crown charter of the lands and barony of Carlyle, with the castlc and fortalicet and other lands.  Thereafter the fortunes of the Carlyles went into decline.

ln 1525 James. 3rd Lord Carlyle, had sasine of the barony of Carlyle as heir to his father, but he died the next year. Three years later, in 1529, his widow, Janet. was granted a crown charter of a liferent from the estate,  while James’s brothcr Michael, 4th Lord Carlyle, received a charter of all the lands and barony. This led to a fierce argument years later, in 1544, when Lord Carlyle “violently evicted” Janet from “the place of Torthorwald”, and the Crown had to intervene to resolve the issue.

In 1547 Lord Carlyle pledged 206 men to the service of England. In the same year he surrendered the castle to the English, but it was recovered the following year by the Master of Maxwell. Meanwhile Lord Carlyle‘s finances continued to deteriorate, so that by the time the English made a survey of the West March c. 1563-6, he was reported to have only 10 horsemen left in his service. Eventually, in 1573. he was forced to sell the lands and castle to his third, but eldest surviving son, Michael. reserving only free tenement to himself and an annual rent from the town ofTorthorwald for his wife.

Following the death of the 4th Lord Carlyle two years later, the succession to the peerage the lands and castle of Torthorwald and other family estates was bitterly contested between his eldest surviving son. Michael, and his second soirs daughter, Elizabeth, the heir general. To further confuse matters, the changing fortunes of the Regency of the Kingdom came to have 21 direct hearing on the fortunes of Torthorwuld itself. In 1575 the Regent Morton granted the ward of the lands and barony of Carlyle, including the castle of Torthorwald, to his half brother, George Douglas of Parkhead, completely disregarding Michael Carlyle’s purchase of the lands two years earlier. Not surprisingly, Michael refused to vacate the lands, and in I578 was put to the hom.

But with the fall of the Earl of Morton in 1580, Douglas of Parkheacl lost his support. Michael Carlyle now sold most of the estate, except the lands and castle of Torthorwald, to Lord Maxwell. and this was confirmed by crown charter.

Douglas, however, would not surrender the “tours, fortzilice and castle of Torthorall and so was put to the horn. If Carlyle had found favour again. it was short lived. for in I583 James Douglas. apparent of
Parkhead. was granted the mails and other dues of Torthorwald and other lands belonging to Michael Carlyle, “callit of Torthorwald, while his brother George was granted the escheat of Michael Carlyle’s goods.  Later that year James Vl revoked his previous gifts to Douglas of Parkhead, which had been made “against his highness own good will. liking and intention”, and granted the mails. farms. profits and duties of Torthorwald and all the other lands of Michael Carlyle to John Johnston of that llk and his spouse for the lifetime of the said Michael. A month later he confirmed that the safe keeping of “the hous, mzinis and lundis
of Torthorwald” should he held by Sir John Johnston of that llk, Warden of the West March, and “remains in your handes for the better safetie of the cuntrie in cais of ony incursionis be innemyis or thevis”.

The next year Johnston imprisoned one Richard Graham, “callit Hutschoneis Reche”. within “the towr and fortnlice of Terthorwall”. The incident is of interest because, to allow himself a certain amount of freedom. Graham was allowed to give Johnston a bond that he would “remain within the said fortalice and yards”. In 1585 Lord Maxwell took Johnston prisoner. lt was probably then that he took possession of Torthorwald. for only days later Lord Scrope reported that Maxwell was planning to put forces of footmen in Caerlaverock, Threave, Lochmahen, Langholm and “Tortarrell” with a special person of trust at each as captain.

The dispute within the Carlyle family was not finally resolved iintil 1587, when, following protracted litigation, Elizabeth was finally infeft in the lands and barony of Carlyle, with the castle. and many other of the family’s lands. Later that year she married Sir james Douglas of Parkhead, eldest son of Sir George Dougias oof Parkhead after which Sir james was recognized as Lord Carlyle of Torthorwald. However; despite Elizabeths infeftment in 1587, the lands of Torthorwald seem to have remained in the possession of Michael’s family, and in 1592 his son John was infeft in Torthorwald as his heir.

in 1593/4 the Crown granted the lands and barony of Carlyle, with the castle of Torthorwald, to George Douglas lord Carlyle’s younger brother. it is not known whether he ever took possession of the castle, but by 1596/7 it was again in the possession of the Maxwells and. together with Caerlaverock and Mouswald, held against the Crown.

James V1 demanded their delivery. failing which he would lay siege. Against such odds lord Maxwell capitulated, and Torthorwald was handed over first to lord Sanquhar and later that year to Lord Uchiltree, Warden and Liemciiam of the West March. Five  years later, in 1602, the keeping of the castle was handed in Sir James Johnston of that ilk. who was commanded not to “reset therein James Dowglas of Torthorwald under pain perjury and defamation.

ln 1606, following the resignation by George Douglas of the lands and barony of Carlyle, with the castle, in favour of William Cunningham of Dolphiinton. Cunningham received a crown charter of the lands, but three years later he resigned them again in favour of James 6th Lord Carlyle. This was confirmed by crown charter the same year. Lord Carlyle was, however. no better at managing his affairs than his Carlyleforebears and in 1613 he sold Sir Robert Douglas an annual rent from the lands,  and in 1617 granted him the lands, lordship and barony as well.

A few years later he sold or mortgaged all his estates. includv ing Torthorwald. to Sir William Douglas of Drumlanrig, later 1st Earl of Queensbury, who, in 1622, received a crown chartergranting  him in liferent and his eldest son and heir, James, the lands. lordship and barony of Torthorwald. comprising the lands and barony of Carlyle,  with the castle, and other lands.

It is said that the castle was last repaired as a residence in 1630. If this is correct, it must have been the work of James Douglas, who did not succeed to Drumlanrig until 1640. The
last inhabitant is said to have been one of his younger brothers, Archibald Douglas, lst of Dornock. Some time after that the castle was abandoned and fell into ruin.

lt does not feature in the heart tax returns for l690 but at that time it must still have had a roof, as Grose  mentions an old man alive in l789 who remembered the roof being taken off for use

By 1788 it was very much as it remained until the NE corner collapsed in 1993.

The castle was retained by the Douglases  until c1890, when it was sold by the 9th Marquess of Queensberry to James Jardine of Dryfeholm, brother of Sir Robert Jardine, lst
Baronet 0f Castle Milk. lt was apparently he who carried out the various works that have since helped to preserve the ruin.


Early History | The Site | The Tower | Later History