Mistress Jean Oliphant is the young sister of Sir Walter Oliphant of Kellie, in Fife. He is old and ailing, and he must decide who shall be the next heir of Kellie. If he fails to name a successor, the next-of-kin will succeed. In Scotland, where either sex can succeed to lands and titles (if the estate is not entailed on an heir-male), his next-of-kin is his sister Jean - though he scoffs at the idea of naming her successor. Her cousin Peter is another candidate on whom he does not look favourably. When he dies leaving the estate to an Oliphant who is not of Kellie, Lady Jean, as her supporters now call her, decides to fight for her "rights". Perhaps that bonnie lad, her cousin Peter, will assist.
Biographical and other notes
Margaret Oliphant was a direct descendant of the Oliphant lairds of Kellie. This was a true story of the late sixteenth century, insofar as she knew the facts of the family legend. To learn more of the actual facts about Lady Jean and Kellie Castle, see Section 5 of The Family Tree of Margaret Oliphant.
British publishing information
Periodical: Blackwood's Magazine Mar 1896
First edition: William Blackwood and Sons (collected in A Widow's Tale) 1898