June 16, 2013

The Clan Chief

chieffamily112005The last direct male descendant of the senior branch of the family was Andrew Carmichael, sixth Earl of Hyndford, seventh Lord Carmichael, and 18th Baron and 23rd Chief of Carmichael, who died unmarried in 1817.The estate then passed to a direct descendant in the female line of the senior branch, while the chiefship passed to a direct male descendant of the Balmedie branch, the Meadowflat branch having ended in 1638. In 1980, Richard Burbidge was a 32 year old aspiring accountant residing in New Zealand. Upon the death of his cousin Sir Windham Carmichael-Anstruther, the 25th Baron of Carmichael, he learned of his inheritance of the Barony of Carmichael. The lands had shrunk over the years from some fourteen thousand acres to about 2,800 acres to pay inheritance taxes, and Richard was advised that because of the tax liability, it would not be worth his while to return to Scotland to claim his inheritance. However, in line with the family motto “Tout Jour Prest” (Always Ready), he did return and undertook to restore the family to its rightful place in
Scottish history. The previous (29th) Chief, Evelyn George Carmichael of the Balmedie line, had died in 1965 leaving two daughters but no sons, and the chiefship had become dormant. Richard chose to change his name, dropping the Anstruther portion to become Carmichael of Carmichael. He then petitioned the Court of the Lord Lyon, and he was officially recognized in 1981, as both  the 26th Baron of Carmichael, and the 30th Chief of the Name and Arms. This recognition was awarded by virtue of Richard being directly descended from Lady Margaret Carmichael of Carmichael, the first-born child of the second Earl of Hyndford, and with the support of the grandaughter and senior heir in the female line of the previous chief, Evelyn George Carmichael. Thus, Richard reunited the Barony and the chiefship which had been separated since Andrew’s death in 1817. Richard is married to Patricia Branson and they have a son Andrew (pictured with wife Terri Baxter), and daughters Marama (standing) and Sarah. Under his management, using his business expertise and introducing improved agricultural techniques, Richard has increased stock and crop production, undertaken a program for major land and buildings restoration, and entered new business ventures which have made the land economically viable once again. Many of the estate buildings and 200 year old servants’ cottages have been restored for use as tourist lodgings, and he has built a visitors centre complete with a restaurant, gift shop, historical displays, children’s play area, and Scotland’s only wax museum depicting historical themes. He has also donated over 500 acres to a tax protected Family Trust that will live on forever for the benefit of all Carmichaels.