v 7.00.00
23 Jan 2024
updated 23 Jan 2024

The Ritchies and the Ritchie Findlays (Part 2)

The place-name Aberlour reflects the confluence of a smaller river ('burn'), the Lour, with a bigger river, the Spey. And though you'd never guess from Wikipedia, it gave its name to a largeish estate (of 30 [or 300?] acres, comprising 19 farms), purchased by an up and coming young Scottish newspaper publisher, and sold-off by his dissolute grandson just over 60 years later.

And inevitably, the prodigal grandson and his family are of much greater human interest to posterity (us) than his father and grandfather (admirable though they undoubtedly were in every respect).

So I'm zooming-in even more closely than on previous Findlay pages, in order to illustrate some rather colourful aspects of the Aberlour and Ardnagashel era that have just (Mar 2020) come to light. There are very few other families on this website to rival the Findlays in their tribal warpaint.

And both the Findlay and the Ovens families were closely acquainted with my enigmatic wife Sonia long before I appeared on the horizon.

#IndividualSpouse / PartnerFamily
‑3John Ritchie Findlay
(21 Oct 1824 –
16 Oct 1898)


proprietor of The Scotsman

bought Aberlour House in 1885
Susan Leslie
(1842 –
9 Sep 1917)
(m 27 Oct 1863)

10 children in all
John Ritchie Findlay
(13 Jan 1866 –
13 Apr 1930/1)

et al
‑2Sir John Ritchie Findlay
1st Baronet of Aberlour
(13 Jan 1866 –
13 Apr 1930)

proprietor of The Scotsman
Harriet Jane Backhouse
(12 Mar 1880 –
24 Jul 1954)
(m 9 Jul 1901)

later (1929) became Dame Harriet Findlay
John Edmund Ritchie (Buster) Findlay
(14 Jun 1902 –
6 Sep 1962)

Roland Lewis Findlay
(14 Jul 1903 –

et al
‑1Sir John Edmund Ritchie Findlay
(aka Buster)
2nd Baronet of Aberlour
(14 Jun 1902 –
6 Sep 1962)

MP for Banffshire

proprietor of The Scotsman

sold Aberlour House to Gordonstoun founder Kurt Hahn in 1947

sold The Scotsman to press mogul Roy Thomson in 1953
Margaret Jean Graham
(d 1970)
(m Q1 1927, St George Hanover Square, 1a 731)
Moira Juliet Findlay
(1927 –
14 Jan 2018, Stockbridge)

god-daughter of Sir Anthony Eden, the UK Prime Minister 1955-57

Gillian Findlay
(1930 –
26 June, 2020)

Shooting Parties

Social Whirl
Laura Elsom
(née Hawley)
(5 Aug 1910 –
13 Jun 1997)
(m 20 Oct 1947)

always persona non grata to his mother, the formidable Harriet
‑1Lt Col Sir Roland Lewis Findlay
3rd and last Baronet of Aberlour
(14 Jul 1903 –
28 Jul 1979)
Barbara Joan Garrard
(m 15 Dec 1927)
Jane Barbara Findlay
(25 Sep 1928 –
1 Sep 2009)
Marjory Mary Biddulph
(8 Jan 1915 –
8 Jun 1995)
(m 28 Oct 1964)
0Moira Juliet Findlay
(1927, Newington 685/6 693 –
14 Jan 2018, Stockbridge)
Meyrick Adam Ovens$
(1924, Edinburgh 685/2 270 –
5 Aug 2010)
(m 1951, Edinburgh 685/4 22)

remarried Eileen Usher (m Q4 1984, North Bucks 19, 880)
Michael John Meyrick Ovens
(b Dec 1951)

Charlotte Ovens
0Gillian Findlay
(1930, Newington 685/6 231 –
26 Jun 2020)
Maj Gen John Myles (Robin) Brockbank MC OBE
(19 Sep 1921 –
20 Aug 2006)
(m 12 Sep 1953, Ipoh)
Henry John Findlay Brockbank
(b 1954)
= Serena Macdonald-Buchanan
(m 1984)

Harriet Jane Brockbank
(b 1954, twin?)
= Michael McCalmont

Myles Robin Brockbank
(b 1958)

Anthony Lionel Brockbank
(b 1960)
1Michael John Meyrick Ovens
(b Dec 1951)
Sarah J Robertson
(m 1984)
1Charlotte Ovens    
1Anthony Lionel Brockbank
(b 1960)
Caroline Sarah Walford
(b 26 Mar 1968)
(m 17 May 1997)
Eleanor Harriet Brockbank
(b 2000)

Rosanna Lucy Brockbank
(b 2002)

Peerage News

Latest news of births, marriages and deaths in the Peerage,Baronetage and landed gentry families.

Sunday, July 05, 2020

Gillian Brockbank [nee Findlay] 1930-2020
Gillian Brockbank [nee Findlay], who died 26 June, 2020, was a scion of the Findlay baronets.

She was born in 1930, the second daughter of Sir John Edmund Ritchie Findlay, 2nd Baronet [1902-79], by his first wife the former Margaret Jean Graham.

She married 12 Sept, 1953, Capt John Myles [Robin] Brockbank, MC [died 2006], late the 12th Lancers, only son of Colonel John Graham Brockbank, CBE, DSO, scion of that landed gentry family, by whom she had issue.

She leaves issue, [1] Henry John Findlay [born 1954], who married 1984, Serena Macdonald-Buchanan, scion of that landed family and descended from the Barons Woolavington [Ext], [2] Myles Robin [born 1958], [3] Anthony Lionel [born 1960], [5] Harriet Jane [born 1954], wife of Michael McCalmont, of that landed family, &c.

$ Ardnagashel interlude

Sonia clearly recalls that a couple called Meyrick and Juliet Ovens, in their mid 30's with two small children, stayed at her parents' hotel Ardnagashel, near Bantry, Co Cork, in the mid 1950's. Juliet was somewhat taller than Meyrick, and slightly afflicted by the effects of polio (which was still very prevalent in that era). The Ovens family visited Bantry twice, the first time staying at Ardnagashel and the second time close by.

Sonia, then in her mid-teens, remembers being deputed to taking Michael and Juliet out in the hotel sailing dinghy, though the boat became at some point embarrassingly grounded on the Long Rock, directly visible from the hotel!

But what a strange turn of events that a decade later a much less prepossessing specimen of the Findlay lineage should intrude upon the Ardnagashel establishment, and in due course make off with her. Reader, she married me.

Dublin confluence

Angus Findlay (b 1939) was at school (Harrow) with Paddy Skipwith (b 1938, Sonia's later boyfriend) and they both proceeded to read Geology at Trinity College Dublin in about 1958, at around the same time as Jalik Kaulback (b 1939, Sonia's cousin), Chris Kendall (b 1938) and David Kinsman, all of whom feature more or less respectably elsewhere in this family chronicle, as does Prof Dan Gill who moved from TCD to the Royal School of Mines (now part of Imperial College) in 1961.

My point being that, though the timelines are slightly uncertain in one or two places, there does seem to have been a decidedly historical inevitability, or determinism, about what was going on – not at all evident at the time, but of course obvious in retrospect, confirming the old adage about postdicting the past.

It's very apparent also in a good many other strands of the family narrative – the repeated interconnectedness of Findlay and Waddell (from Scotland), Gueritz (from Spain), Kendall (from Ireland), Kaulback (from Canada). Sceptics can of course argue that water droplets follow the paths of least resistance, but the resultant puddle smugly declares that its resulting location was obviously crafted for it in advance – how else could it find itself in such a perfect fit with its surroundings?

"Historical inevitability" is of course an Aristotelian teleology, inspired (I suppose) by Clio the Muse of History, and the "Carpark puddle" is quite the opposite, the alleged consequence of the blind workings of mechanistic mole-rats in Laplace's misapplication of Newtonian physics.

Somewhere in between lies an objective truth not yet fully comprehended.

Zinovieff reminiscence (2016)

I then started my doctorate [ca 1956] on the complex petrology of the Cuillin Mountains in Skye. Patrick often came up to help me with the field work. This was incredibly tough, now I look back on it. We would establish a base camp in some remote corrie and spend sometimes as long as ten days without seeing or talking to another person, climbing difficult rock faces and gradually geologically mapping this remote area. I have never spent so much uninterrupted time with anyone else. Indeed, I suppose very few people ever do. When we got back from these sorties carrying Sherpa-like loads of newspaper-wrapped and labelled rock specimens, the locals would push us around the bar at Sligachan Hotel because we had become so light shedding our loads that we actually floated above the ground.

Findlay reminiscence (2017)

[My] first interest in geology [was] kindled by helping Peter Zinovieff, Paddy's half brother, carry rock samples down the Cuillins.

Dan Gill was Prof 1-2 years before I arrived [at TCD] when he went to Imperial. I knew Paddy Skipwith quite well as he was at school with me.

The others [Kaulback, Kendall, Kinsman] I knew by sight.