Birth Date2 Feb 1766
Birth PlaceCorgarff Castle, Strathdon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Birth MemoCorgarff Castle
Death Date16 Aug 1851
Death PlaceChelsea, London, England
Death MemoIn the 86th year of his age.
MotherJanet FRASER In Findrack , F (1746-1770)
ChildrenWilliam Nathaniel , M (~1831-)
Notes for Nathaniel (Spouse 1)
Charles, born November 13th, 1730, married, firstly, November 19th, 1763, Janet, daughter of Francis Frazer of Findrack, and had three sons:

(1) Nathaniel, his heir.
(2) George, Lieutenant, 3rd Madra Calvalry, died at sea, April 10th, 1796, aged 26.
(3) Francis, died young.

Source: Book: The House of Forbes, by Alistair Tayler, Third Spalding Club, Aberdeen, Scotland, 1937, p. 451

Nathaniel Forbes of Auchernach and Dunnottar, Lieut.-General H.E.I. Co., and Colonel of the 84th Regiment of Madras Native Infantry. He was born February 2nd, 1788 [sic -1766], and married his first cousin Sophia, daughter of his uncle John Forbes comptroller of Customs, and had by her:

Charles, Captain in the 56th Regiment, who died unmarried in 1885, and is buried in Chelsea old church, where there is a monument to him, stating that “He served in the 4th Queen’s own Regt. of Dragoons in the 56th Regt. in India and on the General Staff in Bombay.” His mother died April 8th 1857, aged 90, and is buried beside him.

Nathaniel Forbes died in London on August 16th in the same year [sic - 1851],* having left his estates to his natural son, William Nathaniel

Source: Book: The House of Forbes, by Alistair Tayler, Third Spalding Club, Aberdeen, Scotland, 1937, pp. 451-2.

*Feb. 14, 1852. General Forbes died in 1851, possessed of the estates of Auchernach in Aberdeenshire, and Dunottar in Forfarshire, and also of considerable movable property in both England and Scotland, principally invested in government funds. He was infeft in the estate of Auchernach, to which he had succeded as heir of entail; but he was not infeft in Dunotter, which he had acquired by purchase.

By his trust-disposition and deed of settlement, executed in 1840, General Forbes conveyed his whole estates, heritable and moveable to five trustees, of whom his son William Nathaniel Forbes, and his cousin Gordon Forbes, were the only survivors....

At the time of General Forbes’s death, his son William Nathaniel Forbes had attained the age of twenty-three, was married and had a family...

William Nathaniel Forbes and Gordon Forbes both accepted the trust; but they differed as to the course of management...

Source: Cases Decided in the Court of Session &c., Vol 14, pp. 498-9

The Forbeses of Auchernach have three tablets on the south wall of Strathdon church, two of marble and one of granite:

Sacred to the memory of Charles Forbes, Esq. of Auchernach, who lies here with his forefathers for upwards of 200 years. Died 5th May 1794 in the 64th year of his age. Likewise to the memory of his wife Janet, daughter of Francis Fraser, Esq. of Findrack, who died 4th Decr. 1770, aged 30. Also the sons Francis, who died in infancy; George, Lieut. in the 3rd Regt. Madras Cavalry, died at sea, in India, 10th April 1796, age 26; James a Lieut. in th 72nd Highland Regt, died 9th June 1804, in the 24th year of his age. This monument is erected by his son Nathaniel, Lieut.-Gen in the Honble. E.I.C.S., 1845.

Mr. Charles Forbes was governor or keeper of the Castle of Corgarff, which was bought by the Government after 1746, and was long used as a barracks for soldiers, at first with a view to overawe the Highlanders, and finally as a check upon smuggling, which was extensively carried on in the district...

In memory of Nathaniel Forbes of Auchernach and Dunottar, Lieutenant-General H.E.I.C.S. and Col. of the 24 Reg. Madras Native Infantry, eldest son of Charles Forbes of Auchernach, by his wife, Janet, daughter of Francis Fraser of Findrack. born at Corgarff Castle, February 2, 1766; died in London, August 16, 1851 in the 86 year of his age. Erected by his son William Nathaniel Forbes of Auchernach and Dunottar.

Lieut.-Gen. F. (who was heir and representative of the Forbeses of Skellater), saw much service in India in the war against Hyder Ali and Tippoo Saib, and held high commands. He bought Dunottar about 1832.

Source: Epitaphs & Inscriptions from Burial Grounds and Old Buildings in the North-East of Scotland, Vol. 1, By Andrew Jervise, James Anderson, William Alexander, John Grant Michie, Edmonstond and Douglas, Edinburgh, 1875, p. 151.

Home | Auchernach House Walled Garden, Auchernach

Outstanding large rectangular-plan walled garden with crenellated towers and centre terrace, sited on S facing slope behind former Auchernach House and overlooking Water of Nochty. Tall slim granite ashlar fronted tower with raised quoin strips and margins at centre of N wall; circular towers to centre of E and W walls; wall breached at SE. High flat-coped rubble walls partly harled. S elevation of N wall with centre steps up to door in 1st stage of square tower, 2nd stage with inscribed granite panel below panel formerly with clock and louvered opening above. Round towers also providing access to garden. Vaulted cellars (remains of early house) and remains of concrete arcade at ruinous S edge. Further wall extending to NW.

Although neglected, the Auchernach walled garden retains much of its outstanding original fabric. The garden stands on a prominent hillside and when glimpsed from the Glen Nochty road it gives the appearance of an Indian hill fort upon which it is believed to have been modelled. The garden was recently (2005) sold to a Strathdon resident who plans to restore it.

Immediately to the north of the garden are the remains of holding ponds and sluices with contouring lades which held water from a spring approximately one mile away in the hills. The system worked until very recently when some piping was demolished corrupting the holding system. To the north west is the ruinous White Well, comprising a lined basin and alcoved seat of white quartz. It was known locally as Napoleon´s Well because a willow tree behind the seat was grown from a seed taken from a tree at Napoleon´s grave.

In the late 1920s, the owner of Auchernach, G F Rose, organised a survey of the estate, the resulting publication, The Geology of Auchernach, describes the 12,000 acres as ´stern and bare´ with ´spacious and well-timbered policies, the quaint old house, and the ample walled garden stretching up the sunny slope behind´. From the later years of the 16th century until 1901, the estate belonged to the Forbes family of Skellater. Auchernach House (demolished 1945) and walled garden were built circa 1810 by Lieut-General Nathaniel Forbes, of the Honourable East India Company, the New Statistical Account reports that it was ´for many years the best in the country´.

The house was built on the remains of an earlier building, described as an `old castle´. The vaults at the southern edge of the garden are part of that original structure. In his introduction to The Geology of Auchernach W Douglas Simpson describes the walled garden as ´covering an area of about an acre. It is enclosed by a massive rubble-built wall, 20 or 25 feet in external height, with round battlemented towers midway in each front and a tall clock tower, likewise embattled, in the rear. The design is unusual and very striking. It is understood that General Forbes borrowed the idea from an Indian hill-fort.

The clock in the tower is of curious mechanism, and is dated 1787: another inscription records that it was repaired in 1832, and it was overhauled again in 1929. Midway in its length the garden is terraced, and in the centre is a fountain. There is also a sun-dial bearing the date 1826 and the initials NF and SF, for Nathaniel Forbes and his wife.

Historic Scotland
Reference No 2602
Listing Category B
OS Grid Ref NJ 33021 15982
Location Type Rural
HS Reference No 16199

(1854) Kay 341, 69 E.R. 145, Forbes v. Forbes., Jan. 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, Feb. 9, 1854., ... Domicil. Service in the Indian Army. Choice between two Residences.

A domiciled Scotchman, having ancestral property but no house in his native country, by accepting a commission, and serving in the Indian Army, abandoned his domicil of origin, and acquired an Anglo-Indian domicil. He afterwards attained the rank of general in the Indian Army, and was made colonel of a regiment, and then left India with the intention of not returning thither, but came to Great Britain, where he lived part of the year in a house which he had built on his estate in Scotland, and part in a hired house in London, under circumstances which, if he had been a single man, would have given him again a Scotch domicil; but his wife and establishment of servants resided constantly at the house in London. Held, that this fact counterbalanced the effect of the other circumstances, and proved that his intention was permanently to reside in England; and that, therefore, he must be considered to have abandoned his acquired domicil in India, and acquired, by choice, a new one in England.

Nathaniel Forbes, afterwards General Forbes, was born in Scotland of Scotch parents, his father being possessed of an estate in that country, called Auchernach, on which, however, there was then no house.

In December 1786, being at that time a lieutenant on half-pay in the 102d Foot, a disbanded regiment, he contracted a marriage with a Scotch lady; and that marriage having been secret, and its validity being questioned, the ceremony was again solemnised formally between them on the 15th of July 1787. By a settlement in  [**146]  the Scotch form, made previously to the second ceremony of marriage, and dated on the 14th of July 1787, the father of the lady settled certain property upon the said Nathaniel Forbes; and the said Nathaniel Forbes bound himself, on succeeding to the said estate of Auchernach, to settle half of it upon his wife for life, after his death, if she should survive him. There was issue of this marriage one son only, named Charles, who was born in 1787. Shortly after the formal celebration of the marriage Nathaniel Forbes obtained an appointment in the  [*342]  service of the East India Company; and in December 1787, being still under ago, he sailed for India, leaving his wife with her parents in Scotland, where she resided until 1796, when she joined him in India; and they remained there together until 1808, when he obtained a furlough, and they returned to Scotland.

In May 1794 the father of Nathaniel Forbes died, and he, having before that time attained the age of twenty-one, thereupon became entitled in possession to the estate at Auchernach, subject to the said settlement. During his residence in India he maintained a correspondence respecting this estate with persons in Scotland; and upon his return to Scotland, in 1808, he built a house there, and furnished it, and made some improvements in the grounds; and he resided in lodgings in the neighbourhood of Auchernach; or near London, until 1812, when he and his wife again sailed to India, where they remained until 1818, when his wife returned alone to England. In 1822 Nathaniel Forbes, who then attained the rank of general, and was colonel of a regiment, also left India, intending not to return thither, and came to England, and took, by the week, a furnished house in Sloane Street, Chelsea, where he lived, until June 1823, with his wife and son, and an establishment of servants whom he had hired. In June 1823 he went with his wife and son to Auchernach. At the same time he took, on a lease, which he renewed in May 1850, a house in Sloane Street, and, until 1841, he spent his summers at Auchernach, and his winters, from December to April, in Sloane Street; but from 841 until his death in August 1851 he resided altogether in Sloane Street, and there he died.

On the 9th of February 1825 the said Charles Forbes, the only son of Nathaniel Forbes, died in England unmarried. In 1835 Nathaniel Forbes purchased another house and estate in Scotland, called Dunnottar, for £80,000.
[*343]  In 1812, before his return to India, Nathaniel Forbes took steps, with the concurrence of his wife and son, to revoke his marriage settlement, saying that he wished by will to make a suitable provision for his wife, and do away with “the trifling settlement” made on their marriage.

In the course of his voyage from India, in 1822, General Forbes formed an intimacy with a woman, who was one of the passengers, which he afterwards continued. By this woman he had three illegitimate children.

After the death of his only lawful son, the said Charles Forbes, the general attempted to revive his marriage settlement, and, with that view, had it registered at Aberdeen, for the purpose, as was alleged, of defeating his wife’s claims upon his property under the Scotch law, if she should survive him. After having done this General Forbes executed certain deeds of entail according to the Scotch law, by which he settled the estates of Auchernach and Dunnottar on his illegitimate children and their issue in strict settlement.

By his will, made at Aberdeen in the Scotch form, and dated on the 8th of January 1840, General Forbes gave to his trustees and executors all his estate, real and personal, in trust to pay his debts, funeral expenses and legacies, and to make such addition to the provisions already made for his wife as would “enable her to enjoy a life rent annuity in the whole of £1 00;” and he gave her a life interest also in the lease of his house in London, and in the plate and furniture there at his death, on condition that she should release all claims under their contract of marriage or otherwise; and the said testator directed that, after accomplishing all the other purposes of the trusts thereby declared, the said trustees should lay out and invest the whole accumulations of rents and in-[*344]-terests of his hereditable estates and debts, together with the whole produce of his personal means and estate, and the interest accruing on the accumulations, in the purchase of land and heritages situated as near and convenient as they could be reasonably had to his said estates of Auchernach and Dunnottar, and should settle and secure the lands and heritages so to be  [**147]  purchased by a deed or deeds of strict entail upon the series of heirs thereinafter mentioned, and under the same conditions, provisions, limitations, restrictions, clauses prohibitory, irritant and resolutive, and other clauses, as were contained in the said entails of the estates of Auchernach and Dunnottar; with the addition thereto that, in the deed or deeds of entail so to be executed by his said trustees, they should introduce a clause obliging the heirs of entail to occupy the mansion-house, garden and offices at Auchernach (upon which he had laid out a large sum of money) for at least some part of every year after their succession, unless in the Army or Navy on actual service, or otherwise employed in the service of their country; and to uphold and keep the same, and also the mausoleum or burying-place which he meant to make out at Auchernach (if the same should be made out), always in good order and repair, and also preserve entire the whole growing wood about the mansion-house and policies of Auchernach and Dunnottar, and not allow the same to be cut down or damaged, so as to injure or affect the ornamental appearance or amenity of the mansion-houses or policies of either of those estates.

The testator made two codicils to this will when in Sloane Street, which were dated respectively in July 1846, and September 1847.

The bill in this suit was filed by the widow of General Forbes against his executors, insisting that the marriage settlement was revoked, and claiming to be entitled by  [*345]  the law of Scotland to a moiety of the residue of the personal estate of her late husband, after payment of his debts. A cross-bill was also filed by one of the testator’s illegitimate children to establish the will and for administration.

The question to which the argument was mainly addressed was what was the domicil of General Forbes at the time of his death?

The minor circumstances relied upon in the arguments on either side are fully stated in the judgment...

The effect of the residence of the wife being, after all, but evidence of intention may be rebutted by stronger evidence of a contrary character. If, as in Sir George Warrender’s case, the husband were living apart from the' wife; if, perhaps, some particular state of health required the wife to reside in a warm climate not agreeable to her husband, or the like, so that he was obliged to visit his wife-away from home, he might still be domiciled at residence of his own apart from her. But no such facts exist here. It is true that the general had unhappily formed an adulterous connexion, but not with a party living in Scotland; and the Plaintiff hints, rather than states, that after 1830 the residence at Auchernach became distasteful to her, owing, it is alleged, to some connexion of the illegitimate children with that place. It is also said, not by her but in the argument, that her son, who died in 1825, had resided there, and that his memory was associated with the place. But I am now considering the first choice of abode; and I do not find that the general ever contemplated his wife’s residence at Auchernach but, that he did contemplate her residence in Sloane Street, and that, the establishment of servants suitable for a joint residence of husband and wife in the condition of life in which I find these parties was in London and not at Auchernach. The wife clearly, I think, on the evidence, was a traveller and visitor only whenever she went to Auebernach, and was at home only in Sloane Street. It appears to me that her husband, in so deciding on her residence, did, in fact; also decide that there was to be his own home, and that he therefore never reacquired a domicil in Scotland,  [**156] [*367]  As there was no necessity originally for the Plaintiff absenting herself from Auchernach, neither was there any necessity for the testator fixing his residence in London, it must have been his free choice in every respect; he could have resided in parts of Scotland during the winter, or he could have from time to time visited the South, without taking a permanent residence and fixing his establishment there. It may also be observed that, if a party select two residences, in one of which he can reside all the year, whilst in the other his health will not permit him to so; and he must from the first be aware that, should his health fail him, his days must be passed where alone he can constantly reside; there is an additional reason for concluding that be regards such place from the first as that which must be his borne, a conclusion greatly fortified by his chief establishment being from the first fixed there.

It is not necessary for me therefore to consider whether or not, if the Scottish domicil had been reacquired, it would be lost and an English one substituted for it by the last ten years of the testator’s life being passed in Scotland. Munro v. Munro (7 C. & F. 876 [, 7 E.R. 1288]) affords strong ground for saying that this would be a question of difficulty. I think, from the evidence, it is clear that the testator wished to make his usual journeys to Scotland, if he were equal to them. Whether, when he resigned himself to the impossibility of so doing, such resignation must be taken to have been equivalent to a purpose of changing his domicil is, I think, a point of considerable nicety. There are no indications, however, in evidence of a wish or intention to return after 1844. If I had been compelled to come to conclusion, I should probably have held that he had abandoned his Scottish domicil, and by choice resigned himself to an English home.

 [*368]  The case of the Plaintiff has, therefore, failed; but I do not think such failure ought to be visited with costs. The question of domicil was one that, looking to all the acts of the testator, might be fairly raised, though I do not wish to intimate any doubt in my own mind in respect of the conclusion at which I have arrived. The questions which remained behind, had this been decided in the Plaintiff’s favour, especially respecting the time of her marriage, were raised in a great measure by declarations and conduct of the testator himself. The disposition of his property has been that which was necessarily most painful to a wife; and the mode in which he attempted to screen himself against any interference with that disposition, by setting up a settlement that he at one time at least intended to abrogate, and had, with more generosity and justice than he has since shewn, declared to be trifling, would sufficiently dispose the Court not to visit with costs an unsuccessful attempt on her part to obtain the proportion of her husband’s property, recognised by the law of Scotland as her due, and not perhaps even to English notions extravagant, after more than sixty years of union.

The bill must therefore be dismissed without costs.
Last Modified 21 Sep 2014Created 9 Jan 2017 using Reunion for Macintosh