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Walter Fitzalan, designated First High Steward of the royal household by King David I, received the lands of Kerkert and Strathgryffe, later to be called Renfrewshire, from the hands of his king. These lands held the Forest of Paisley, a large, wild reserve to the south-west of the city, which included an estate called "Nigra Aula," or Blackhall, where Walter built his house. This “House and Barony of Blackhall” are mentioned in a 1272 charter, witnessed by the chaplain of Blackhall Chapel, and again, in a 1283 charter granted by James, Fifth High Steward, which describes certain lands belonging to the “ Park of Blackhall”.

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