Letter sent in by George Russell, of Carluke, Scotland

Hi Folks,

At last I think I have found evidence that the Brownlee(ie) families of Carluke Parish ( since the early 1600's as 'Brunle' ) ARE members of the Avondale, Torfoot family tree ! And this is without doing it 'genealogically' !

In his family story of the Battle of Drumclog and Bothwell Bridge, W C Brownlee describes Thomas as wielding an 'Andra Ferrara' sword - a particularly high quality ( and expensive !) weapon whose maker is well known to antique weapon collectors etc ...

While researching the life of the Victorian historian of Carluke Parish ( Daniel Reid Rankin - correspondent of Darwin, Surgeon, Antiquarian, Geologist ) whose book James Brownlie of the City Sawmills families paid for and circulated privately - I found in one of his notebooks among his mentions of 'ancient arms' ( weapons ) in local collections a description and drawing of the engraving on a sword then in the collection of a Rev White, a Free Church Minister in Carluke, thus :-

" The Rev Mr White, of the Free Church, has in his collection a very fine Andrea Ferara of the rare single edged class, 34 & 3/4 inches long, one and a half broad at hilt. Two narrow fluted and comparatively deep lines run up towards the back of the blade till near the point. Markings in the fluted lines, on each side Andrea Ferara .

This fine sword was long kept as a family relic by the Brownlees in Bowridge Mill, and more recently in Gillhead Mill. "

Now - was this Thomas Brownlee's sword at Drumclog / Bothwell ? Certainly, swords of this quality were not common ... ( hence Rankin's interest and notes )

If it is, then it would suggest that John Brunle in Bowridge Mill ( in the Poll Tax list for 1609 in Carluke ) and his families who later moved off the farm and into Carluke town as blacksmiths etc were related to the Avondale Laird of Torfoot who some 60 years or so later, used the sword in action  ...

The mention of them being ( in the 1870's when Rankin wrote ... ) in Gillhead ( farm and watermill on the upper Garrion Burn - same burn as Bowridge is on, but downstream ) which later was operated by the Nichol families who married Brownlee daughters and one of whom went to Canada to found NICHOLSTON ( dam and multi-mill complex, now a leisure centre )

If you're interested, try Googling 'Nicholston Dam' to see it ...

Of course, just a wee bit further downstream on the Garrion Burn, where it meets the River Clyde, is Garrion Mill - John Brownlie(sic) and his families - milling grain and farming in the bottom of the Clyde Valley ...

I'll send a copy of my image of Rankin's notebook entry for Ian to post on the Brownlee website so you can see the drawings of the engravings on the sword blade ...

Bowridge Farm and watermill / dam / lade still stand on the Garrion Burn. Gillhead mill is no more ... but Gillhead Farm still stands near the burn and the main railway crossing of Garrion Burn at Gillhead, between Law Village and Wishaw on the 'Old Wishaw Road' ( a Roman Road ) to Waterloo and Wishaw itself.

You can view high quality aerial oblique photographs of the area by zooming in on the maps available online. Contact me off list for details !

G Russell
Lanarkshire Brownlee(ie) Researchers
26 February 2009

Daniel Reid Rankin's note book page

Return to Andrea Ferara and The Torfoot Project HERE