This family is associated principally with lands around Markinch, Fife, and the name is linked to the River Ore (Bal-Orr). Early traditions suggest that the lands were granted in the reign of Duncan I, while later records show that family members included Mary Beaton, a lady in waiting to Mary, Queen of Scots; Cardinal Beaton; Sir Andrew Balfour, creator of the Botanic Garden of Edinburgh; and Arthur James Balfour, prime minister. Branches of the family are also associated with Kinloch, Burleigh, Denmylne, Forret and Torry.

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