Clan Leslie Society    
Australia & New Zealand


"Warthill", Aberdeenshire - The family of Leslie of Warthill are descended from William Leslie 1st Laird of Warthill, who was the first son of the third marriage of John Leslie, 2nd Baron of Wardis [a branch of the Balquhain family] and Margaret Forbes of the family of Echt. William Leslie 1st Laird of Warthill, born in 1490 in Aberdeenshire, was a prudent and clever man and was Baillie of the Courts of his father, John, 2nd Baron of Wardis and his brother Alexander 3rd Baron of Wardis.

William married firstly in 1511, a daughter of William Rowan, burgess of Aberdeen and had by her a son, John, who was slain at the Battle of Pinkie in 1547, along with William’s uncle Robert Leslie. William married secondly in 1518, Janet Cruickshank, only surviving child of John, son of Adam Cruickshank, who in 1482 had acquired the Lands of Little Warthill and two ploughgates of the lands of Harlaw. With his marriage to Janet Cruickshank, William became the 1st Laird of Warthill, in the name of Leslie. William and Janet had twenty-one children of whom, Stephen, born in 1520 was his successor. William, 1st Laird of Warthill, built the house of “Warthill” and died in 1561.

Of most interest to Australian and New Zealand readers is that Patrick Leslie, born 25th September 1815, who re-discovered and settled the Darling Downs in Queensland in 1840, was the second son of William Leslie, 10th Laird of Warthill. Patrick’s brothers, Walter and George also accompanied Patrick to Australia and helped him settle the Darling Downs. Patrick also laid out the site of Warwick in Queensland and bought the first block of land sold. When he returned from a trip to Scotland in 1845, Patrick bought 34 acres at the junction of Brisbane River and Breakfast Creek and Built Newstead House. It was his intention to supply Brisbane with fruit and vegetables. The wish for his own station was too strong and he sold Newstead House and bought Goomburra Station in 1846. In 1851, he also bought Gladfield Station. Goomburra was sold to two of the Tooth [brewers] brothers in 1857. The family returned to England in 1858.

New Zealand Farm

Patrick left Australia in 1854 to return to Britain, but after several years, he decided for family reasons he would sail to New Zealand and start a farm there. He arrived in Auckland on the 12th October 1868 and quickly became a successful farmer at “Wartle”, just south of Hamilton, in New Zealand’s North Island.

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Patrick’s health was not very good and as he and his wife Kate had the responsibility of four young grandchildren, they sold up and moved back to Sydney, where Patrick died, after a short illness on the 12th September 1881. He was buried at St Thomas’ Anglican Church Cemetery in West Street Crows Nest Sydney, where his wife Kate, who died 11th April 1894, is also buried.

As at 2002, “Warthill” comprises 2500 acres, plus the Hill of Foudland, which was given by King Robert Bruce to the Leslie family of Balquhain. There are 700 arable acres, on which a tenant farmer grows barley, oats and wheat. Warthill disposed of all their sheep six years ago, after disposing of all cattle ten years ago.

The main entrance to Warthill is from the Meikle Wartle road, through the South Lodge entrance and approx a drive of three quarters of a mile up the drive to the house. During the 1745 Jacobite rebellion, “Warthill” Leslie’s fought on the Jacobite side. Hanoverian and English soldiers came to burn Warthill, while their commanding officers watched from a distance. The soldiers were bribed not to burn “Warthill” and straw was strewn around the house and set alight. The officers watching thought that Warthill had been burned, and thus was Warthill saved from destruction.

Warthill now comprises 23 rooms, after the Victorian wing that was built in 1860, was demolished in 1968, as being too dilapidated to repair. There is a peat bog 1 ½ miles from the main house of Warthill, in which, it is believed five members of the Warthill family have been lost over the centuries. In 1878, a steam locomotive was derailed and sank into the peat bog and is still there to this day.

The 14th Laird of Warthill, Sebastian Anthony Leslie and his wife Candy now live at Warthill with their five children.