Back to Scotland: Dawn on a Distant Shore

I had a comment from Liz to  my last post, asking about my decision to set part of Dawn on a Distant Shore in Scotland. It was a good question, but I think I need to answer it more fully. So here goes.

The reason I sent the Bonners to Scotland in Dawn on a Distant Shore is really quite simple or at least, it started out that way. I had this crazy idea that it would be funny if it turned out that Hawkeye was of high birth.

At the time I was in contact with Frederick Hogarth, an expert on heraldry and genealogy of the British Isles, and formerly the editor of Burke’s Peerage.  I asked his opinion on how I could pull off giving Hawkeye this backstory.

Mr. Hogarth is an incredibly generous person, and he went to huge amounts of trouble to show me how to handle this. He came up with the family crest and all the bits and pieces, provided me with the layout of Carryckcastle, including blueprints and sketches, and pretty much constructed a complicated  family tree. It was so interesting to work through all the details that I had a really good time pulling it all together. Now, if  he had told me there was no realistic way to structure the backstory, I would have let it go. But his enthusiasm and extraordinary support made it all possible.

After answering Liz’s question I asked myself  what had become of all the images and information that Mr. Hogarth provided.  His website (Baronage) is still in existance, but hasn’t been updated since 2007. I haven’t been able to find out what happened to him, sorry to say. 

But I can say with complete surprise that the information about Dawn on a Distant Shore posted in 2002  is still there. How’s that for a shock? Given the age of the Baronage website I’m reproducing some of that page here for posterity. It also gives me another opportunity to thank Mr. Hogarth and acknowledge his tremendous contribution to bringing the backstory together.


From the Baronage website, by its editor:

To produce plausible, fully-rounded characters an author will often compose substantial back-stories that shape their novels without actually appearing in them. In her best-selling series, of which the first titles were Into the Wilderness and Dawn on a Distant Shore, Sara Donati wove a hidden tale that created the fascinating situations in which her characters fought for their lives, but one of which readers are only dimly aware. The arms of one of her principal characters tell some of this story, and Miss Donati has kindly allowed us to publish it.

The introductory pages of the second book, Dawn on a Distant Shore, feature a family tree showing the descent of the 4th Earl of Carryck from the 5th Lord Scott of Carryckcastle, his great-great-grandfather killed in the service of Charles II, but the backstory begins several generations earlier with Sir Colin Campbell of Glenorchy. (In this summary the historic characters will be printed in red.) [Note: I have adjusted the colors to make the distinctions clearer.]

Glenorchy’s elder brother was the ancestor of the Earls and Dukes of Argyll, and his own eldest son was the ancestor of the Earls of Breadalbane. (He himself is recorded in history as one of the cleverest and most unprincipled rogues of his century, at a time when clever and unprincipled rogues were active everywhere.) From his third wife, Margaret Robertson, he had a daughter Margaret who married David Johnstone of Carryckcastle, from which marriage there was an only child, Catriona, and from his fourth wife he had a son, John Campbell of Auchreoch, who was killed at Flodden in 1513.

John Campbell of Auchreoch had a bastard son, John Campbell, who was badly wounded at Flodden, escaped, and was nursed back to health by a girl, mute from birth, Mary Scott, with whom he fell in love (as very sick patients tend to do). Her father also had been killed at Flodden and she was in the care of her great-uncle, Walter Scott of Ballerlaw, who, when he learned that the two wished to marry, settled his estate on them on condition that John Campbell took the name of Scott. (Such arrangements were  not then uncommon.)

Let us look at the heraldry so far.

c-scott1c-scott2c-scott3
Scott of Buccleuch,
the Chief of the Scotts
Scott of Ballerlaw,
a distinct branch from early times,
differenced by a buckle and a change
in the tincture of the bend’s charges
a break in the male bloodline
 
The idiosyncratic addition of the second buckle (above right) reminds us that the laws of heraldry as we interpret them today were not yet, in the early sixteenth century, set in concrete. The new John Scott of Ballerlaw remembers he was born a Campbell and seeks to be not quite a Scott. (This Campbell link is a critical factor in the story.)

The new Laird of Ballerlaw and his wife, Mary, have a son, Robert, who marries his first cousin once removed, the heiress Catriona Johnstone of Carryckcastle. Subsequently he is created Lord Scott of Carryckcastle by James V, and the following year he entails his lands on his successors in that title, which failing to his nearest heirs bearing the name of Campbell and of the blood of his paternal grandfather John Campbell of Auchreoch.

Let us now look at Catriona’s arms.

c-johnstc-johns1c-johns2
Johnstone of that Ilk ~ the undifferenced armsAn early branch makes the chief black, and another cadet line then makes the cushions silver.Johnstone of Carryckcastle ~ yet another cadet line replaces one cushion with a crescent.

 The eldest son of Robert Scott and Catriona, Robert, 2nd Lord Scott of Carryckcastle, quarters his mother’s arms ~ with Scott of Ballalaw in the 1st and 4th quarters, and Johnstone of Carryckcastle in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. He marries Jean Scott of Balweir; their son, the 3rd Lord, marries Flora Johnstone of Craigieburn; and their son, the 4th Lord, marries Mary Scott of Glenkerry, whose son, the 5th Lord begins the family tree printed in Sara Donati’s second book.

The 8th Lord, Roderick Scott, 3rd Earl of Carryck, marries Appalina Forbes, an heiress whose arms we shall next consider.

c-forbes  c-forbe1c-forbe2c-forbe4
Lord Forbes
Chief of Clan Forbes ~
the undifferenced arms
An early branch replaces a charge with another, a mullet for a bear’s head  A younger son later takes abordure argent for difference . . . . .. . . . .subsequently another cadet charging the border with red mullets. 

The marriage with Appalina brings into the family not only the Agardston estates, but also her father’s shipping fleet and her unmarried brothers’ fortune made from trading in the American colonies, both ingredients essential to the story. However, our interest is in the Forbes of Agardston arms which Alasdair Scott, the 4th Earl of Carryck and 9th Lord Scott of Carryckcastle, places in the 3rd quarter.

carryck-4.5The composition of the Earl of Carryck’s arms reflect the changes down the centuries and offer a good example of how many of the arms of our older families have developed. It should be noted that the 2nd and 3rd quarters are the arms brought in by heiresses, not just arms of families with which the Carryck lords have married.



So here you have it, Hawkeye’s genealogical backstory. This is what made the telling of the story in Scotland possible.

 

4 Replies to “Back to Scotland: Dawn on a Distant Shore”

  1. Very many thanks for posting this, so interesting, and I can see that all the information made it an irresistible back story to use in the book (and I did not say I disliked Dawn on a Distant Shore, only that I liked it less than all your other works – this leaves a lot of positive space!)

    1. Liz — I’m glad this was interesting. It was nice for me to revisit, too. And it’s nice to know that there’s positive room.

  2. That is just fascinating. And great that it’s still available after all this time. Thanks for sharing.

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