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Clan Anderson Article Society Article

"The Andersons of Candacraig"

Spring 2002

by Don Thomson

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Clan Anderson Society members Donna Coellen, Paula Lee, and Don Thomson trace our family heritage back to the Andersons of Candacraig, lairds of one of the traditional Scottish Highland estates in the parish of Strathdon in Upper Donside, Aberdeenshire, situated at the head waters of the River Don. Legend has it that the first Laird of Candacraig, Patrick Anderson, acquired the property after discovering silver under a boulder in Glen Carvie in the 1500's. Indeed, the name "Candacraig" ("Ceann-na-craige" in Gaelic) means "point or head of the rock". The land was home to ten generations of Andersons until it was sold to Sir Charles Forbes of Newe in 1866.

The 9th Laird of Candacraig, Alexander Anderson, inherited the estate upon his father's death in 1776, and his two sons went on to become the 10th and 11th lairds. His daughter, Jean Anderson, married her cousin Alexander Anderson of Invernettie. Economic hardships and social changes of the time triggered a great migration from the Highlands. Jean and Alexander joined the exodus, leaving Scotland in 1834 and settling in Quebec with six of their children, including the future 12th Laird Alexander and his brother, Adam Gordon Anderson. Adam married in his late twenties and the union produced five children, including our great grandfather William Davie Anderson. Adam was the only sibling to cross over the border into the United States, settling on a farm in upstate New York. He remarried after the death of his first wife, fathered six more children, and eventually worked his way westward to Indiana, Illinois and finally Iowa, where he is buried.

Upon the death of the 11th Laird Robert Anderson in 1847, his nephew Alexander Anderson of Huntingdon, Quebec assumed the role of 12th Laird and sailed for home. However, a better life in Canada beckoned him back, and with no plans to return to the Highlands, he and his eldest son sold off Candacraig in 1866, two years before his death.

Candacraig is a 13,500 acre sporting, agricultural, and woodland estate. Candacraig House was built in the mid seventeenth century, with the addition in 1836 of distinctive Scottish baronial style extensions designed by architect "Tudor Johnnie Smith". The property also contains thirteen other estate houses and cottages. The estate rises from 800 feet above sea level to 2,456 feet at its highest point. The 7,000 acre Hill Ground has been renowned as one of the best grouse moors in Scotland. The River Don flows through the estate, providing ten miles of excellent salmon and trout fishing.

Candacraig was sold by the Forbes to the Wallace family in 1900. The Wallaces rebuilt much of the granite mansion in its original style following a fire that destroyed the main front wing in 1955, and retained the estate until 1982, when it was put on the market for 3.5 million pounds. The manor house at Candacraig is currently owned by Scottish actor and comedian Billy Connolly, who presides with great enthusiasm over the annual Lonach Highland Games held every August. The Victorian Gothic walled garden built in 1820 to support the needs of the estate's kitchen is now a public nursery. Weddings are performed at the Summer House, and a bed and breakfast occupies a cottage that was once servants' quarters on the property.