This name is often alternately rendered as ‘Ballantyne’, and even in the same family the two forms can be found used interchangeably in the same generation. The origin of the name seems likely to derive from the lands of Bellenden in Selkirk. The lands of Glenmaddy, the ‘wolf glen’, lie on the south bank of the Euchan Water in Nithsdale, and they came into the possession of the Bannatynes in the fifteenth century. Roland Bannatyne of Glenmaddy also received lands in the barony of Sanquhar from Lord Crichton in 1548. The land grant was witnessed by John Bannatyne of Cog. The Laird of Cog did not fare as well at the hands of the Crichtons as his kinsman, as in May 1557 John Crichton received lands forfeited from John Bannatyne of Cog who was now a fugitive from the law. In 1499 Patrick Bellenden obtained a charter from the Earl of Morton of the lands of Auchinoul in Midlothian. His daughter, Catherine, married Oliver Sinclair, a favourite of James V and general of the Scottish army at the rout of Solway Moss in 1542. His son, Thomas, was appointed a judge of the Court of Session in 1535, and in 1539 he was raised to the rank of Lord Justice Clerk, a post subsequently held by both his son and grandson. George Bannatyne, a compiler of Scottish poetry of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, was born in Newtyle in Forfarshire on 22 February 1545. His collection of poetry was written during a period of retirement at Bannatyne House in Forfarshire, during the plague which ravaged Edinburgh in 1568. His work was considered so important by the Scottish literary giant, Sir Walter Scott, that he named after him the literary club which he founded in 1823. The Bannatyne Club subsequently published George Bannatyne’s work in book form, along with many other previously inaccessible Scottish works.
Richard Bannatyne was secretary to the Scottish Protestant reformer, John Knox, and compiler of Memorials of Transactions in Scotland from 1569 to 1573. He appeared on several occasions before the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland to speak on behalf of John Knox when he was ill. After Knox’s death in 1572, Bannatyne was appointed by the Church to put in order all the papers left by him. He completed the task in 1575 and died in September 1605. Sir Lewis Bellenden of Auchinoul accompanied James VI on his journey to marry the daughter of the king of Norway in 1589. He was thereafter sent to the court of Elizabeth I of England, where he strongly promoted his royal master’s ambitions to be recognised as the queen’s heir. He was rewarded for his services by numerous grants of land, including the barony of Broughton (now part of the city of Edin-burgh). James Bannatyne of Newhall was also made a judge in February 1626, taking the title, ‘Lord Newtyle’. The Bannatynes of Kames are recorded as being in possession of their lands and the Castle of Kames as early as the fourteenth century. The castle, which would originally have been a single defensive tower, was later extended by the addition of a fine mansion house by Sir William Bannatyne, later Lord Bannatyne, in the early eighteenth century. Lord Bannatyne was a distinguished lawyer and judge who thrived in the intellectual and literary circles of eighteenth-century Edinburgh. He died at the age of 91 in 1833. His Edinburgh mansion, Whiteford House, is now a retirement home for ex-servicemen. The Ballantynes of Peebles were to become extremely prominent in the Scottish wool trade in the eighteenth century, a connection which they carry on to the present day. In 1829 they were instrumental in the establishment of the trade in Scottish tweed.