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by William Alexander Gatherer [006]

From some days' work in the Public Record Office, Edinburgh, I have established a direct line of descent from Peter Gatherer, floreat c.1650-1710. I have not yet found Peter's birth, but I have found many Gatherers born and married during the 17th Century (see my note on Peter). I have not pursued female spouses but I can record some data (see my notes passim).


In his book, The Surnames of Scotland  (New York Public Library, 1946) George F Black says that Gatherer is "a name of uncertain meaning"; but in other works it is suggested that it means "at the gate" (indicating a location). The name Thomas de Gaderar is in the Domesday Book (1066), where he is described as a hundreder, the bailiff of a part of a county. Black says that Gadderar of Cowford were an ancient family in Moray. (Various spellings occur throughout the centuries: Gadderar, Gedderer, Gadrer, Gatherar, Gatherer; but there is no doubt that they are all versions of our family name. In the 17th and 18th centuries in some parish records, one spelling will occur for decades, and then the modern spelling crops up to be succeeded again by an older spelling). Black's earliest record is Alexander Gadderar in 1521.

I have found a succession of Gatherers attending Aberdeen University circa 1520-40, and Gatherers who were mentioned in the Register of the Privy Council during the 16th century. Thomas Gaderar was prebendary (a clergyman with the rank of a canon) of Talarisy in 1539 and clerk of the diocese of Moray in 1545. William Gatherer was provost of Elgin c.1560 (and probably was the provost who welcomed Mary, Queen of Scots to Elgin in 1562). In the Moray Commissariat Record between 1684 and 1800 there is mention of five persons called Gatherer. A Margaret Gaddyrrer was a resident of Inverness in 1556. Alexander Gadderar was an innkeeper in Spynie in 1595 (and his ale charges had to be 'regulated'). In the 1590s, an Alexander Gatherer was the Sheriff of Moray and was assassinated (probably because he had remained a catholic). In 1679 a Janet Gaderar in Kinneder (north-west Aberdeenshire) was accused of child murder. It is significant that every occurrence of the name during the 15th and 17th centuries locates the family in the north-east of Scotland, mainly in the counties of Elgin, Banff and Aberdeen.

In the Northern Scot newspaper on 18 February, 1961, there was an article relating to the murder of John Gatherer, farmer at Netherbyre, Pluscarden, in 1713, by Andrew McPherson, a deserter from the Army.

    "The farmer was dragged from his bed in a state of nudity by McPherson, who inflicted several deadly wounds with a bayonet. The cries of the dying man woke the only inmate of the house, the kitchen quine. With courage born of emergency, this solidly built specimen of Scottish womanhood fearlessly rushed to his assistance. She took a running jump at the burglar, seized him by the hair of his head, and brought him with his face to the ground, then literally sat on him. She held him in this position till her screams wakened 'the farm billies' in the 'chaumer'."

In 1733 James Gatherer, bishop of the episcopal church of St Machar, Aberdeen, died. He had been a non-juring priest at Kilmalcolm when he was 'rabbled' by a mob in 1689; his younger brother was killed in the riot. James fled to London, where he became a Jacobite apologist. In 1703 he published a translation of a book, Craig's Right of Succession, a treatise in favour of the divine right of Kings. In 1727 he was invited to be the episcopal bishop of Edinburgh, but went on to Aberdeen. As he died penniless, he was buried in Bishop Scougall's grave. It is known that James Gatherer came from Moray.


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