Maggie Fair, The Origins

Maggie Milne, who apparently caught the roving eye of Bonnie Prince Charles when he landed at the mouth of the Spey and signed the Solemn League & Covenant at the Laird’s Toft, near “The Cross” in Garmouth, towards the end of June 1650. Her father was the boatman who carried the prince ashore and descendants of that family were, until the mid-19th century, called the “King Milnes”.

Lady Margaret Ker, wife of Sir James Innes, 3rd Baronet, was Lady of Garmouth from 1666 – 1681 and was much loved by the local inhabitants. During this time the “Fair” became a more civic occasion and was formally opened in the morning, after a trumpet fanfare, by the Baron-Baillee of Innes and Garmouth, accompanied by four halbardiers attired in the blue and silver livery of the Laird of Innes.  Sir James and Lady Margaret appeared personally and their banner, depicting their co joined Coats of Arms, is still displayed to this Day.

Prior to 1587 and as far as can be ascertained, there could well have been a Margaret Fair Day which had ceased to be celebrated  but which was revived for the occasion of the granting of the Charter.  The origins of this Margaret Fair Day are steeped in ancient Scottish history going back as far as the days of Macbeth and Malcolm Canmore.  Malcolm’s Queen was Margaret, remembered as “Patroness of Scotland”.  On 19th June 1259 she became Patron Saint of Urquhart Parish where her son David had founded a Priory in her memory beside the farm of Clockeasy (which means the “Stone of Jesus”).  The 19th June Old Style corresponds to the present 30th June in that the new calendar altered the old by eleven days.

Although Margaret’s correct identity may be in doubt, there is no doubt at all that the village of Garmouth will continue to keep her name and the occasion alive for many.

Extracts taken from the 400th Celebrating of Maggie Fair booklet 1987 .


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