There are two main branches of Bannatynes; The Bute (and later Arran) Bannatynes (Kames) and the Larnarkshire (Corhouse) Bannatynes. The link between these two branches are unclear. It is best to treat them as separate families.
The Bute Bannatynes are a sept of Clan Campbell.
The name Bannatyne is said to come from the place name Bennachtain, but the location of this is unknown. The spelling of the name was Benachtyne and Bannachtyne. as well as others.
The earliest references to this name can be found in many mediaeval manuscripts. Early examples are a William de Bennothine who witnessed a grant by David Olifard to the Hospital of Soltre between the years 1153 and 1177. Nicolas de Benothyne witnessed a charter by William de Moravia in favour of the same hospital between 1278-94. Sir Richard of Bannochtine of the Corhouse, who flourished, sometimes wrote himself ‘Bannachty’, and his son is called Sir John Bannatyne. This spelling continued till the time of Charles II.
Bannatyne of Kames
In 1318 a charter was granted by Walter the High Steward to Gilbert, son of Gilbert of the threepenny lands of Kylmacolmac in the middle of the island for the service of one archer in the army and attendance at three courts in Bute. The Bannatynes came into possession of Cainys, now Kames. Kames is a small village on the Cowal peninsula in Argyll and Bute
Gilbert Bannatyne of Kames flourished in the reign of Alexander III , and his grandson John Bannatyne was laird, and keeper of Rothesay Castle for the Stewarts in 1334.
The Bannatynes were probably rulers and governors of the town of Rothesay before there was a Town Council and before it was a Royal Burgh. The popular belief that the land was granted to the Bannatynes by Robert the Bruce for service at Bannockburn has no written evidence to corroborate it. Never-less the Bannatynes were a powerful family who were very much in favour with Royalty. This can be seen in the village of Port Bannatyne, which is about three miles from Rothesay.
By charters and bonds of man rent the Bannatynes can be traced as in possession of Kames early in the fourteenth century, when it is supposed that Kames castle, a single tower, which was long the residence of the family, was built. Kames Castle came to the family when Gilbert, son of Gilbert, received it in a charter of King Alexander III. The head of the Bute Bannatynes was Bannatyne of Kames.
Spence and Bannatyne Feud
Land was split between the estates of Kames and Wester Kames and sometimes it would pass from one to the other and sometimes it was shared between them. The large powerful landowners were Spens of Wester Kames, Bannatyne of Kames and the Stuarts of Bute.
Among those who signed the National Covenant in 1638 were Hector Bannatyne of Kames representing the landowners of Bute and Matthew Spence representing the landowners of Rothesay.
While building a road a tumulus (mound of earth) was removed and many human bones were found mixed with stones . Tradition claims this as the resting place of one of the Spences of Wester Kames, who was killed in a battle fought with the Bannatynes of Easter Kames. He was buried on the spot and a cairn was erected over him.
The then head of the family signed a mutual Bond with Stuart of Bute in 1547 in which each undertook to support the other against all comers with the exception of the King and the Earl of Argyll. This followed a Bond of Manrent of 1538 in which Bannatyne had bound himself to the Earl.
This had come about because Bannatyne had had difficulty in getting some of his tenants in Cowal to pay their rents, so two days later he went over to Auchincrossan in Cowal with one of the Spences and two other Bannatynes as witnesses. He ordered the tenants to pay the long overdue rends or to leave. They ignored him. Six weeks later he went back and threw three items of furniture out of each house, but the tenants still stood firm. He next returned and drove out all their cattle and drove on his own. The tenants, encouraged by young Lamont of Inveryne, drove the laird’s cattle out and drove their own back on. Bannatyne, greatly enraged, complained to Argyle that he was not giving the promised support. Argyle then summoned Inveryne to court in Dunoon, and the case was passed on to the Sheriff of Kyle. Unfortunately, there is no written record the court’s findings, but they were presumably in Bannatyne’s favour, since the family are known to have possessed the lands in question from before 1475 until 1623.
From then on, they seem to have followed the Campbell Chiefs loyally, with Bannatyne of Kames acting as a Campbell chieftain in all but name.
The Campbell connection with this name refers only to the Bannatynes of Bute and later of Arran. Not all Bannatynes share the same link.
The Bannatynes are now more numerous in Arran than in Bute.
Bannatynes of CorhouseThis has been considered the oldest branch of Bannatynes. The Bannatynes of Corhouse, of Newtyle, descended from the former; James Bannatyne of Newhall, son of the laird of Newtyle, Forfarshire, appointed a lord of session 14th February, 1626; died 1636; of Cainys, now Kames, in the Island of Bute; and of Kelly, founded by a second son of that family.
Corra Castle is a fortified farmhouse built in the 15th Century by the Bannatyne Family. It is now owned by the Corehouse Estate.
There is an estate in Ayrshire by the name of Bonnytin it is not known if this has a Bannatyne connection.
The Ballantynes of Peebles became very important in the Scottish wool trade in the Eighteenth century, and were fundamental in the development of the Scottish tweed trade in 1829.
Possible connection to the Earls of Lennox
In the 1547 Bond Bannatyne is described as ‘Chief of the MacAmelynes’ – a scribe’s botched attempt but one at a name which sounds a great deal more Gaelic in character and which may reflect the true origin of this kindred. A possible derivation for this name may be Amhalghaidh, possibly given on occasion as Aulay. Alwin, 2nd Earl of Lennox had a son by the latter name who was great-grandfather to Allan of Faslane.
The arms of Bannatyne of Kames, in use prior to 1672, are gules a chevron argent between three mullets or. At first sight there seems to be no connection with the arms of the Earls of Lennox (argent a saltire between four roses gules) but on occasion the arms of argent a chevron between four mullets gules have been used by a Bannatyne. A chevron is of course the bottom part of a saltire and it has been used by Lecky of that Ilk (argent a chevron between three roses gules), whose ancestor was also a son of Alwyn, 2nd Earl of Lennox. Mullets (five-pointed stars) are not roses but the shield as a whole to a heraldic eye might seem to have a possible connection. A link between the Bannatynes of Kames and the Earls of Lennox might well repay further investigation.