The first Leslies from whom all Leslies are descended are Bartholomew and Beatrix and one of our rooms is named in their honour. Here is a short history.
According to tradition and the Dynasta de Leslie, St Margaret was the grand daughter of Edward Ironside who had lost the crown of England first to Harold and then to William the Conquer, just a few years earlier. She travelled to the court of King Malcom Canmore in 1069 and brought with her in her retinue a nobleman from Hungary named Bartholf. Bartholf was known for both his great mind and great physical prowess, both virtues prized in those times. King Malcom was therefore greatly impressed with Bartholf and appointed him Constable of Edinburgh. Bartholf became known as Bartholomew and also impressed the King’s sister Beatrix so much that she married him. She brought with her a dowry of the lands and a wooden fortress at Lesslyn, later Leslie in Aberdeenshire and they had a son also called Malcolm.
Margaret soon became Queen and Bartholomew had the honour carrying the Queen on his own horse when she travelled and a belt buckled round his waist provided extra security for her to take hold of during the bumpier moments. On one occasion according to legend they were crossing a river in this manner and the Queen nearly fell from her horse. Bartholomew was most concerned and called out to the Queen to “Grip Fast”, however she doubted that the buckle would hold a replied “Gin the buckle bide”. After that he added 2 more buckles and so his coat of arms proudly displays three buckles and the motto of the Leslies is Grip Fast.
The family divided into several branches, many of which had a significant impact on Scottish history and built many of the distinct baronial houses in Scotland and Ireland. The barony of Leslie and the castle remained in the family until 1620 when through a combination of mortgage and marriage it passed to the Forbes family and 1651 William Forbes of Leslie had extensive repairs undertaken and fortified it with many defensive structures, reflected in the current building.