Family history and genealogy of the Clark, Hogg, Bates, Tennant, Jackson, Hale, Lyon and Lyon-Clark families


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Baillie George Lyon of Inverurie
1766-1837

go back to Lyon family

David Clark
David Clark (1831-1914)
Son of his daughter, Catherine Lyon
 
These
Lyons' are from Inverurie, Scotland.
 
The family of Baillie George Lyon
includes
 
Capt. George Lyon
Catherine Lyon
Robert Lyon
Robinson Lyon
William Robinson Clark
William Robinson Clark (1829-1912)
Son of his daughter, Catherine Lyon
 
Bass Cemetery, Inverurie
The grave of Bailee George Lyon, his wife Elspet and sons William (12) and John (21)
at Bass Cemetery, Inverurie
(photograph by Barclay Craig 2005)
 
"Baillie" George Lyon (1766 - 1837)
(Information and some direct script taken from research done by Antoinette Nielsen for Robert Lyon of Kanata, Ontario)
 
George Lyon was the fourth child born to James Lyon and Janet Mackie in area of the town of Inverurie, Aberdeenshire in Scotland. Church records state that he was born on April 18. 1766 [not 1866] : "On April 18''' James Lyon of Inverury had a soil lawfully begotten, baptized and named George before witnesses John Ridden and Alexander Johnston, both of Inverury."
 
George was raised on a farm with his three brothers, John, James and William and his sister Margaret. On a nearby farm lived John Philip who was married to Elspet Mackie, sister of Janet Mackie (Lyon}. They had seven children, four girls and three boys about the same ages as the Lyon family. George Lyon was in love with Elspet Philip and his brother John was in love with Christian Philip; however, since they were first cousins, the Church would not permit them to many. In 1790, a son was born to Elspet Philip and George Lyon. he was named "George" (our Captain George Lyon) and was raised in the Philip home. A son was born to Christian Philip and .John Lyon and he was named "John". When a second child (John) was born to Elspet Philip and George Leon around 1794, the Church granted them permission to marry. Thus the family was reunited under one roof.
 
The year of the marriage is unsure although 1797 has been suggested. In 1799, George became "Baillie" or Mayor of Inverurie. He kept his farm until October of 1805 at which time he moved into the town with his family and opened an inn near the Town Hall at the Square. (File researcher Nielsen visited the Square, the Town Hall, and the Gordon Arms Hotel which stood at the same spot where the Lyon Hotel stood at the end of Main Street, close to the Railway Station and commanding the attention of the whole town.) Being the chief Baillie, a successful inn keeper, a vintner and senior magistrate of the Burgh of Inverurie with very little supervision on his actions on the part of the Provost who resided at Banff, "Baillie George" managed to combine duty and pleasure often at the expense of the Burgh. Between the years 180 and 1817, the Baillie's "precepts" or tavern bills cost the town 600 pounds, 7s., 6d. The total income of the burgh was only 80 pounds annually.
 
In 1818, a Select Committee of the House of Commons was set up to investigate any irregularities going on in the management of the Burghs in general, and Inverurie was chosen as an exemplary [example] situation. The high old time of magistrates and councillors of lnverurie came to an end.
 
In the meantime, the family had expanded: Elspet (born 1798), Mary (born in 1799). William ( 1802), Margaret (1805), Catherine (1806), Janet (1808), Robinson (1810) and Robert (born in 1812).
 
In 1809, the eldest son, George. joined the 99th Regiment in Glasgow and left for Canada to fight against the Americans in the War of 1812.
 
"Inverurie Bible"
In 1821, the Committee under the chairmanship of Lord Archibald Hamilton handed their report. Baillie George Lyon wasn't censured or asked to leave, but the Report relating in minute detail his breaches of law and every misdemeanor was read so widely in the Burgh that someone named it The Inverurie Bible. 'The publicity brought about by the affair forged a cleansing of the accountancy system. The books were then regularly audited and "precepts" ceased to appear in their columns. By 1831, the Baillie was 65 years of age. His son, Captain George Lyon, was doing well as an industrialist in Richmond, Canada, and his four daughters and three sons had good educations and were getting married to genteel men and women of the Burgh or had gone or were going to Canada. Unfortunately, the harassment of investigators between 1818 and 1821, and the humiliation of the publication of court proceedings in 1825 were taking a toll on the Baillie's health. The news in 1833 of his youngest son's death in a duel was a burden too heavy to carry. His son, Robinson and his family, left for Canada in 1836. His daughter, Margaret had gone to Canada with Robert in 1829. Evidently he became despondent, lost interest in his work and died in 183?.
He is buried in Bass Cemetery in Inverurie. His wife, Elspet, died in Aberdeen in 1845 and is buried beside him.
 
Notes on "Baillie" George Lyon of Inverurie, Aberdeenshire (by Antoinette Nielsen, researcher for the Lyonn family ancestry in Scotland and Canada)
 

The Close Burgh Rule of the Last Century I n Interesting Discovery Incidental reference has been made to the close Burgh management at the commencement of the last century (this writing was dune c. 1 >80 so reference is to approx. year 1800, and the way in which the Burgh funds were spent in treating the magistrates and councillors. Inverurie supplied a most remarkable illustration A - the state of affairs which prevailed more or less in the Royal Burghs of Scotland at that time. The total expenditure of the burgh from 1805 to 1817 was 600 pounds 7s 6d. Of this amount, 35 pounds 1 s 1Od is put down to travelling expenses, chiefly the cost of journeys to Banff by a notable Baillie Lyon, who was a "chief presiding', magistrate', and who went to Banff because the Provost resided there; 37 pounds 9s 8d was I'M .1 precepts, admitted to be tavern expenses", chiefly incurred in the hostelry of the Baillie referred to above. I-hr evidence which was led on this subject before the Select Committee of the House of Commons from 18 18 to 1821, under the chairmanship of Lord Archibald Hamilton, has been sarcastically styled "The Inverurie Bible' _ and the result goes to show that between November 1805 and January 7, 1819, Burgh property was alienated to the amount of 15733 pounds, 14s, while only 240 pounds of this was usefully expended, leaving 1300 pounds unaccounted for by any useful purpose. The evidence showed that Provost Robinson, the head of the Banff party, never resided in Inverurie, and was "very seldom in the Burgh", and that Senior Baillie, as acting chief magistrate, settled affairs in a free and easy manner in his hostelry which was near the former Town I tall at I'll(, Square. The evidence makes reference to many "precepts to George Lyon", which, of course, meant the tavern bill, and shows that the magistrates and councillors of those days had a "high old time" at the Burgh's expense_ Some further light has been thrown on the subject by the discovery, the other day, of a few old accounts in the Gordon Arms Hotel (being demolished at the time of this writing for the purpose of erecting new and much more commodious premises). One of them shows that the Baillie got a good deal of liquor into his premise; TO supply the demand. The account, written on thin but very tough paper, is a statement of what is due by the Baillie to George Robertson from June to September 1805. The first item is "June 6 - To the anker gin, 6 pounds"; and among the other -'goods" are 4 pints, 10 gills rum, at 8s 6d - l pound 19s 4d; 5 pints shrub, at 8 9d, 3 bottles sherry, at 3s 8d -- I Is" etc. The amount of the account was 10 pounds 6s 1 I d, and it was settled by 5 pounds being paid in cash on 19`' September, and the balance on 14" November.

TWIXT URY AND DON By James Milne

The Inverurie Bible

Notes about the book by A Nielsen

There is preserved in Inverurie Public Library a book which gives us a vivid picture of how the Burgh; affairs were managed a short hundred and twenty years ago. (now, I40 years ago approx.) It isn't a prepossessing volume to look at, many of its leaves are stained a deep brown over a large part of their surface; it has been torn in many places and mended carefully with what looks like notepaper already written on (a reminder that paper - was a precious commodity in those days), and its outer covering is of very much soiled thick grey paper_ On this cover is written in a bold hand: "This Book of Burgh economy is not to be folded and cut as formerly", evidence that some of its bygone readers hadn't been too careful in handful,-, it. On the flyleaf we find the title which reads: "Report from the select committee to whose the several petitions From the Royal Burghs of Scotland . _. were referred, together with the minutes of evidence taken before the committee_"

It must have been a local irreverent wag who gave the book the title it was best known by "The Inverurie Bible" - and there can be little doubt but that it was read by that vanished generation much more avidly than their copies of Ho1y Writ. This revealing account of how their own pounds, shillings and pence were disbursed would have a significance for them far in excess of the talents, shekels and financial affairs of the ancient Hebrews. At that time tile l own Council was in the nature of a close corporation, self-elected and accountable to no one if they- so chose. As can well be imagined all Soils Or corrupt practices were indulged in. (:very Scottish burgh was in like case, but Inverurie seems to have suffered worse at the hands of its Council than any of the others. In defiance of the ancient law of Scotland which stipulated that "na man in time coming be chosen provost, baillies or aldermen into burgh, but they that are honest and substantious, merchands, and indwellers of the said burgh", no fewer than four members of the council were non-resident, including the Provost. \\-ho was a merchant in Banff. Ultimately the administration of Scottish burghs became such a crying scandal that the whole question was referred to a committee of the House of Commons. This committee took evidence from five witnesses from lnverurie, and its findings were published in 1821 in a volume of 107 pages, of which more than half are taken up with the town's case alone. This volume is "The Inverurie Bible". F lie petitioners' chief grievance seems to have been the conduct of Baillie George Lyon, chief magistrate in the absence of the Provost. Mho, it would appear, never attended the Council meetings

This Baillie Lyon was an innkeeper, his inn being on the site now occupied by the "Gordon Arms" hotel, and he apparently had the whole management of the town's affairs in his hands. Every burgh transaction, however trivial. was celebrated by a supply of liquor, bought of course from the Baillie and charged to the town's account. These celebrations were termed "precepts". ln twelve years the Baillie's "precepts" cost the town 600 pounds 7s. 6d. One witness stated that sometimes 2 pounds or 3 pounds would be charged to the town for the evening's entertainment when to his knowledge only 4/- or S/'- was spent. Lyon occasionally undertook the office of priest by irregularly marrying couples, and the drink and viands consumed on such occasions were -'precepts" chargeable to the town. One gathers from the evidence that immediately after the ceremony the betrothed couple were fined for contracting an irregular marriage, surely an example of effrontery it would be hard to find a parallel for. The fine, sometimes as much as a couple of pounds sterling, went into the Baillic's capacious pocket. Everything was a grist that came to the Baillie's mill. He sold valuable town property, fens, etc. and invariably omitted to account for the purchase price. Ostensibly acting for the Town Council he established a brickworks which cost nearly 200 pounds; the enterprise was a dismal failure, the total value of bricks sold being 12 pounds.

Although all these sordid transactions were clearly brought out in the evidence, the Baillie wasn't even censured. At that date, when privilege and class prejudice were rife, when a poor man was liable to transportation if he stole a loaf to feed his starving bairns, a "substantious" man could juggle with public money to his heart's content and get away with it. At that time the ]'own Clerk's salary was 5 pounds, and the permanent income of the burgh a little under 80 pounds per annum_ It is satisfactory to note that although the rascally Bailie got off scot free, the publicity

 

the affair got resulted in a thorough cleansing of the burgh's accountancy system; the books thereafter were regularly audited and "precepts" ceased to appear in the column. History is silent as to the Baillie's ultimate fate. If it is true that the wicked flourish like a green bay tree, quite likely he had retired on his ill-gotten gains and lived happily ever afterwards. But undoubtedly he lost caste in the town, as can be gathered from a few caustic comments on the evidence, written on the margins of the leaves of the "Bible'. When one witness was asked what office Lyon held in the burgh, he answered, "He is chief receiving magistrate". On the margin opposite this is written_ "Receiving, aye quite right he did receive enough" 1 he Baillie, asked if he made out regular bills for the -precepts- said. "I have got the amount from the waiter in the morning and marked it down on a piece of paper" The written comment on this is. ' The waiter_ "ho the Devil is he')" Maintaining that burgesses bitterly opposed to him were always willing to attend his numerous celebrations, or "precepts". the Baillie proceeded to give a few of their names. Opposite one name is scrawled in an indignant hand, "that is a damned lie". We can look back with a tolerant smile on the muddled finances of Baillie Lyon, but it is well to remember that the same thing was going on pretty much all over the country. It was the constant agitation by the common people that led to the passing of the Reform Act and cleaner local government, and although there may still be instances of petty graft on the part of minor officials. Scotland's system of local government is now second to none.

J chapter taken from the Book "Twixt Ury and Don"' by Jumes Milne ( collected with the permission of Librarian Porter of Inverurie, Scotland. .JuIy, 1979 ht, A. Nielsen)

 
Information provided and based upon research by
Jim McTavish, Barbara Gibson, Reg Lyon, George Mackenzie and Cynthia Milligan.
 
 

Capt. George Lyon was the son of Baillie George Lyon and Elspet Philip
 
Catherine Lyon (1806-1836) was the duagter of Baille George Lyon
Catherine Clark (nee Lyon) died on 17th April 1836, died aged 30, and is buried at Daviot.
(maybe spelt Katherine on her grave and Catharine on her birth record).
James Clark (b. abt 1797) was the husband of Catherine Lyon.
 
Robert Lyon (1812-1833) was the son of Baillie George Lyon
Last fatal duel in Canada - 13th June 1833
see Heritage Plaque details (Ontario Heritage Foundation)
Plaque is located at the House of Thomas Radenhust - see house info
The Wilson - Lyon duel
The Last Fatal Duel
The Duel of 1833
A Matter of Honour - a film about the last fatal duel
 
Inverurie
Information about Inverurie (from archive)
 
Inverurie Bible - the misdemeanours of Baille George Lyon
 
Catherine's sister Mary Lyon (b. 1805) died in Kincardine O'Neil (from archive), near Aberdeen.
 

Many of George Lyon's family emigrated to Canada and resided in the Richmond and Ottawa (Bytown) areas.
We now have substantial information about the family origins and other members of the Lyon family
in both Iverurie, Scotland and in Canada, provided by Jim McTavish, George Mackenzie and Cynthia Milligan.
We shall be be publishing this information shortly.

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