Annandale, Scotland and the fictional homelands of Alastair Carryck feature prominently in Dawn on a Distant Shore.

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.

I don’t know if Mr. Hogarth is still living (and haven’t been able to find out) but the information about Dawn on a Distant Shore  he compiled in 2002  is still there.  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.

Characters appearing in Dawn on a Distant Shore

The Bonners


The Freemans

The Schuylers

Giselle Somerville

Captain Pickering

Wee Iona

Robbie MacLachlan

Mac Stoker

Will Spencer

Carryck Castle staff and servants


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.

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.

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.To get a better sense of all this, a narrative breakdown:


Who is Alasdair Scott, 4th Earl of Carryck, and what is his relationship to the Bonners?

The Carryck Family Tree

Robert Scott
6th Lord Scott of Carryckcastle, first Earl of Carryk
married Frances, illigitimate daughter of *Francis Scott, 2nd Earl of Buccleuch* (prominent Royalist)
Robert, 7th Lord Scott of Carryckcastle, 2nd Earl of Carrick
died 1755
married Margaret, illegtimate daughter of *James Morton, 11th Earl of Morton*
Roderick Scott 8th Lord of Carryckcastle, 3rd Earl
born 1690 died 1775
married Appalina Forbes, heiress daughter of William Forbes of Agardston. Forbes was a retired merchant of Danzig who restored Agardston Tower and extended its lands (and established a shipping fleet at the port of Aberdeen), and heiress sister to her two unmarried half-brothers who created a huge fortune trading in the American colonies in sugar and tobacco (and slaves).
James Scott
born 1690 [younger twin] disappeared 1718
died 1728
married Margaret Montgomerie of Edinburgh
in Albany NY, 1722

Alasdair Scott
9th Lord Scott of Carryckcastle, 4th Earl

born 1721
married Marietta, daughter by an unknown French lady of *Arthur Elphinstone, 6th Lord Balmerinoch* (executed 1746 as a Jacobite). Marietta is a cousin to Flora, Countess of Loundoun.

Dan’l (Hawkeye) Bonner
born 1725, on the NY frontier
married 1756 Cora Munro daughter of a Munro cadet of Foulis, an officer of His Majesty’s Forces in the North American colonies



born 1756
eloped in 1790 to marry Walter Campbell the illigitimate son of *John Campbell, 4th Earl of Breadalbane*; Simon serves Flora Countess of Loundoun as her curator   
 Nathaniel Bonner
born 1757
daughter Hannah (Squirrel) by Sings-from-Books, eldest granddaughter of the clanmother of the Wolf Longhouse of the Kahnyen’kehàka people
 son Daniel and daughter Lily (twins) by Elizabeth Middleton, originally of Oakmere, Devon, in 1793


Annandale, Scotland and Carryckton, ca 1795. Click for a larger image.

Carryckcastle is a property of strategic importance on the edge of the Johnstone lands in Annandale between the Moffat Water and the Scott territories along the Ettrick Water. The castle is sited on a promontory of the mountain called Aidin Rig, giving a very steep approach from the north and east, and has three wings. The corners have massive square towers equipped with angle turrets and high crow-stepped gables, and in the centre of the south front two drum towers project to protect the main entrance. At about 40 feet above the ground the two drum towers are united by an arch to form a consolidated tower called the Scott Tower. Our castles are but the story of our families writ in stone, and here at Carryckcastle the four towers perpetuate the names that have contributed to its fame.

In the southeast corner Johnstone Tower is built on the remains of the towerhouse destroyed by Longshanks (the Johnstones, as their arms indicate, being followers of the Bruce), and after the Campbell Tower was built (towards the end of the 15th century) Johnstone Tower was remodelled to match in outward appearance the new tower, as can be seen in the view of the south elevation. The lowest room of the Campbell Tower has no window and no door. Entry is from a trap in the floor of the charter room above. When Robert Scott, yr of Ballerlaw married the heiress Catriona Johnstone of Carryckcastle, he strengthened the curtain wall between the two towers, built Scott Tower to protect the grand entrance, built the new wing towards the north, terminating it with a chapel, and developed the area in the angle of the wings into an imposing courtyard. His son survived Langsyde, where his father died, but in the subsequent religious turmoil the chapel was destroyed, its stones being used for the now vanished stables on the eastern side of the courtyard.

Serious building began again when the 3rd Earl married the Forbes heiress and built Forbes Tower on the site of the old chapel, using the ground floor for a new kitchen and the first floor for a dining room. Aware of the retribution his Jacobite friends had faced after the 1715 Rising, and conscious of the possibility that more troubles lay ahead, he cleverly built into the new tower’s thick wall a secret stair that led to an underground corridor running south and terminating in a large room underneath the pit of the Campbell Tower. Small vents in the straw-covered floor of the pit allowed sufficient air through for a man to survive there. Entry to the secret stair was from the window alcove next to the kitchen and beneath the great stair, allowing food to be passed into the corridor discreetly. The 3rd Earl built also the new chapel adjoining the Johnstone Tower, using the stones of the stables built with the stones of the original chapel.

On the first floor are two principal bedrooms and a library, a sitting room, a drawing room and a dining room. Further bedrooms are on the second and third floors and, in the towers, on the fourth floor. Brother Septimus says that the 4th Earl built the new wing to the east of Forbes Tower to accommodate a great hall and 30 more bedrooms, and to protect the courtyard more effectively from northern winds. Carryckcastle appears to be typical of many Scottish castles, starting its life as a 13th century fortified tower house, then incorporating more towers and curtain walls, then smoothing and modernising in the French fashion, as the south front elevation shows well, and then introducing improvements to increase the comfort of the interior. It is typical, too, that such work be financed by judicious marriages. Frederick tells me that legend insists there is a secret place in the wall of the Johnstone Tower, last used by the David Johnstone who died at Flodden, father of the posthumous Catriona who brought Carryckcastle to the Scotts, to hold a secret charter (but such stories are many and almost always wholly unreliable – still, the wall of the ground floor room is very thick). The new wing stretching east from the Forbes Tower that the 4th Earl built ends with a square tower named Elphinstone Tower in discreet memory of his wife’s martyred father.






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