Baronage of Angus & Mearns
By David McGregor Peter
David Peter or David MacGregor Peter was born in 1802, the
eldest child of a family of farm labourers in Angus who overcame
poor beginnings to become a clerk and to write two major reference
Originally published in 1856, this work provides historical
descriptions for 360 families, with comment on the family, its
descent, arts, current seat (as of 1856), and related information.
Most entries average one page; some are more extensive.
Families include: Allardice, Anderson, Baird, Barclay, Bethune,
Blair, Cameron, Campbell, Chisholm, Crichton, Davidson, Dickson,
Douglas, Drummond, Duncan, Edgar, Erskine, Farquharson, Fletcher,
Forbes, Fraser, Gibson, Gordon, Graham, Guthrie, Hay, Henderson,
Hume, Hunter, Irvine, Keith, Ker, Knox, Leith, Lindsay, Lyon,
Macaulay, MacDonald, MacGregor, Mackenzie, MacLaren, MacPherson,
Melville, Menzies, Munro, Napier, Neish, Nicolson, Ochterlony,
Ogilvy, Patterson, Ramsay, Robertson, Shaw, Simpson, Sinclair,
Skene, Stirling, Strachan, Stuart, Thomson, Turnbull, Wallace,
Watson, Wemyss, Wishart, Yeoman, and Young, to name but a
David Peter or David MacGregor Peter was born in 1802, the eldest
child of a family of farm labourers in Angus who overcame poor
beginnings to become a clerk and to write two major reference
works. From the preface to one of his later publications of 1882,
he writes of himself "...fortunately, I was a clerk to the late D.
Hillocks, Esq., J.P., Finavon House, for some time prior to 1827;
and he was factor for the Earl of Aboyne, Lord Hallyburton of
Pitcur, Sir Wm. Forbes, Bart., of Fettercairn, G. Skene Esq. of
Skene and Earl of Fife, Careston Castle. I therefore had the
privilege of studying in these noblemen's rich libraries in my
'Leisures best resource' ."
Apparently he diligently searched into all Parish Church records
and various laird's old charter chests in order to give a history
of every estate and a genealogy of their owners. He published a
book on the Baronetcy of Forfarshire, which consisted of the
researches of his lifetime. He carried his precious volume through
all his journeys in his fiddle bag.
He was a frequent contributor to various publications, which
emanated from the office of the Montrose Standard. The theme of
these was invariably the gentry of the county and in 1856
culminated in his 'magnus opus' entitled " A Baronage of Angus and
Mearns" printed by Messrs. Oliver Boyd Edinburgh.
He played the violin and in the 1881 census was described as a
Dancing Master in Panmure Street, Brechin where he resided (at
least on census night) with his wife Jane and their children. This
explains his nickname of 'Dancy Peter'. Mr James G. Low, the
antiquary from Montrose, at one time possessed a portrait of Peter
showing him with his violin and heraldic insignia, and his peculiar
The last reference to David McGregor Peter is in 1886-1887 when he
is recorded as being in the poorhouse. He died aged 85 on the 26th