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The Great Historic Families of Scotland 

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INTRODUCTION.
page 3

At the Union of the kingdoms in 1707 the Peerage Roll of Scotland contained ten dukes, three marquises, seventy-five earls, seventeen viscounts, and forty-nine barons—in all, a hundred and fifty-four peers. There have been subsequently enrolled one duke, two marquises, two earls, and six barons. At the present time the Scottish peerage consists of only eighty-seven members, and of these forty-nine are also peers of England or of Great Britain, while three are peers of Ireland. Since the passing of an Act in 1847 ordering the Lord Clerk Registrar, until otherwise directed by the House of Lords, not to call the title of any peerage on the Union Roll in respect of which no vote had been received during the present century, most of the dormant and extinct peerages have been struck off the roll; but fourteen, which are believed to be extinct, have been allowed to remain, on the ground that votes have been received in respect of them since the year 1800. There are altogether forty-eight dormant or extinct Scottish peerages, and sixteen are merged in other titles. Nine of the eleven dukedoms which appear on the roll are still in existence, though one of them—Queensberry—is united with the dukedom of Buccleuch. That of Gordon, which expired in 1836, has recently been replaced by a British title of the same rank conferred on the Duke of Richmond, who represents the elder branch of the family in the female line. The dukedom of [p.2] Douglas expired in 1761 on the death of the half-witted peer, the first and only possessor of that title; while the other dignities of that famous old house passed to its male representative, the Duke of Hamilton. The only dormant marquisate is that of the Johnstones of Annandale, last borne by the fatuous peer to whom David Hume, the philosopher and historian, for a short time acted as tutor. Of the dormant earldoms the oldest and most celebrated is the double earldom of Monteith and Strathern, of which Charles I., in the most arbitrary and unjust manner, deprived its last possessor, and by way of compensation conferred upon him the earldom of Airth, a title which is also now dormant. Next comes the earldom of Glencairn, long held by the powerful Ayrshire family of Cunningham, who fought in the cause both of the Reformation and the Covenant. The last of this illustrious race was a nobleman of a most amiable disposition and great personal attractions, whose untimely death was lamented by Burns in the most pathetic stanzas the poet ever wrote. In this list is the earldom of Hyndford, held by the Carmichaels, one of whom was an ambassador at the Prussian, Austrian, and Russian courts. Their estates but not their titles have descended to the present Sir Wyndham Carmichael Anstruther. In this list, too, are the Marchmont titles—an earldom, a viscounty, and a barony—which were enjoyed by a branch of the powerful Border family of Home. They were originally conferred upon Sir Patrick Hume, who, through the exertions of his devoted daughter, the noble-minded Grizel Baillie, escaped the fate of his fellow-patriot, Baillie of Jerviswood; was subsequently the associate of the Earl of Argyll in his ill-starred expedition in 1685, and finally became Lord Chancellor of Scotland after the Revolution of 1688. His grandson, Hugh, the third and last earl, was the friend of Pope, who makes frequent and affectionate mention of him in his epistles, and of St. John, Peterborough, and Arbuthnot, and the other members of that brilliant circle. The earldom of Marchmont, the viscounty of Blasonberrie and the barony of Polwarth, Redbraes, and Greenlaw descended to his heirs male and their heirs male, and as the two sons of Earl Hugh predeceased him the titles became dormant at his death. But a prior barony of Polwarth, created in 1697, was made to descend to the heirs male of the first peer and their heirs, and forty years after the death of Earl Hugh his grandson, Hugh Scott of Harden, presented a petition to the House of Lords claiming the title of Lord Polwarth, and his claim was admitted without opposition. The extinct earldom of [p.3] Forfar was created for a youthful scion of the Douglas family, whose life, if it had been prolonged, might have saved the dukedom from extinction. He fell fighting under the royal banner at Sheriffmuir, having received no fewer than sixteen broadsword wounds besides a pistol shot in his knee. The earldom of Stirling, conferred in 1633 on Sir William Alexander, an eminent statesman and poet, became dormant on the death without issue of Henry, fifth earl, in 1739, and none of the claims which have been preferred to the title have as yet been made good. Among the dormant but not extinct peerages is the barony of Somerville, the title of an ancient and at one time powerful Border family, which has not been claimed since 1870. The barony of Cranstoun, also celebrated in ballads, tradition, and story since the fifteenth century, became dormant on the death of the eleventh Lord Cranstoun in 1869. Heirs of both dignities are, however, believed to be in existence. The last representative of the 'Bauld Rutherfords,' Earls of Teviot and Barons Rutherford who bore a conspicuous part in Border forays, was the prototype of the Master of Ravenswood in Sir Walter Scott's tragic tale of the 'Bride of Lammermoor.' He died on the Continent without issue in 1724. The earldom of Newark, which was conferred on the celebrated Covenanting General David Leslie, who contributed to the victory of the Parliamentary army at Marston Moor, and defeated the great Marquis of Montrose at Philiphaugh, became extinct on the death of his son, the second lord, in 1694.
 
THE CAMPBELLS OF ARGYLL.
INTRODUCTION.
page 243

When Charles visited Scotland in 1641, the Earl of Montrose, who had originally espoused the popular cause but had now gone over to the side of the Court, represented to the King that the removal of the Marquis of Hamilton and the Earl of Argyll was necessary as a preliminary to the accomplishment of his plans for the union of the Scottish and Irish forces against the English Parliament. It was accordingly arranged that they were to be seized and carried on board a vessel in Leith Roads; but having received timely notice of the plot against them, they made their escape to Kinneil, a country seat of Hamilton's, where they were safe. Charles, thus baffled in his nefarious scheme, was glad to recall the two noblemen to Court, and, finding it impossible to crush these powerful and popular magnates, he tried to gain them and their party to his side, and raised Argyll to the rank of a Marquis. When the King took up arms against the English Parliament, Argyll, who was now the recognised leader of the Covenanters, induced the Scottish Council to make repeated offers of mediation; [p.243] but these proposals having been rejected by the King, the Scots at length resolved to send an army to the assistance of the Parliament. From this time onward the Marquis took a prominent part in the Civil War; his influence was paramount in Scotland, where he was popularly known as 'King Campbell.' He became the object of the bitter hatred of the Royalists. He was defeated by Montrose at Inverlochy; his estates were laid waste with fire and sword, and 'not a four-footed beast in the haill country' was left. So ruinous were the devastating inroads of Montrose and the Irish kernes that the Parliament was obliged to grant a sum of money for the support of the Marquis and his family, and a collection was ordered to be made throughout all the churches for the relief of his plundered clansmen. Up to this time Argyll had steadily cooperated with the English Parliament, but on the surrender of the King and the ascendancy of the Republican party, he separated from them and consulted with the Royalist nobles, Richmond and Hertford (with the royal authority), respecting the advisability of the Scottish Parliament and army coming to the rescue of the King. The plan had to be abandoned as impracticable, and Argyll, with his usual sagacity, disapproved of the 'Engagement' entered into by the Duke of Hamilton and other Presbyterian Royalists, in the latter part of 1647, for the restoration of the royal cause, which brought defeat and death to them and ruin on the King. After the overthrow of the 'Engagers' at Preston, Argyll and his friends seized the reins of Government. He protested, however, against the execution of the King—a deed which completely alienated the whole Scottish nation from the English Republicans, and Prince Charles, the eldest son of the deceased monarch, was immediately proclaimed King of Scotland in his father's stead. A series of letters, written by Charles from the Hague, Jersey, and Breda, and, after he came to Scotland, from Falkland and Perth, showed how much he relied upon Argyll for his restoration to the throne of his ancestors, and how earnestly he implored the great Marquis to use his influence in his behalf. The profuse promises which Charles made of remembering and rewarding the services of the powerful Presbyterian leader culminated in the following remarkable letter written at Perth:—'24th Sept., 1650.
 
THE RAMSAYS.
INTRODUCTION.
page 313

His eldest son, GEORGE RAMSAY, succeeded him in the family titles and estates. Earl George was the school and college companion of Sir Walter Scott, who held him in high and affectionate esteem. On meeting with the Earl in the evening of life, after a long separation, Sir Walter mentions him as still being, and always having been, 'the same manly and generous character, that all about him loved as the Lordie Ramsay of the Yard' (the playground of the Edinburgh High School). The Earl served with great distinction in the West Indies, Holland, and Egypt, and in the Spanish Peninsula, where he commanded the Second Division of the British army; and at the battle of Waterloo. He attained the full rank of general, was made a Knight Grand Cross of the Bath, was one of the general officers who received the thanks of Parliament, and was created a British peer by the title of BARON DALHOUSIE OF DALHOUSIE CASTLE. In 1816 he was appointed to the government of Nova Scotia; and, in 1819, he succeeded the Duke of Richmond as Captain-General of the forces in North America; in 1826 he was made Commander-in-Chief of the forces in India. He was Captain-General of the Royal Company of Archers. The Earl died in 1838, in the 68th year of his age, universally regretted.
 
THE ERSKINES OF BUCHAN AND CARDROSS.
page 137

In 1789 Erskine delivered a speech on behalf of Stockdale, the publisher, who was tried in the Court ofKing's Bench, on an information filed by the Attorney-General, for publishing a pamphlet written by John Logan, the poet, animadverting on the managers of the impeachment against Warren Hastings. Lord Campbell says Erskine's speech in this case is the finest speech ever delivered at the English Bar, and he won a verdict which for ever established the freedom of the press in England. But, perhaps, the most important service which Mr. Erskine rendered to the cause of constitutional liberty was his successful defence, in conjunction with Mr. (afterwards Sir Vicary) Gibbs, of Hardy, Horne Tooke, and Thelwall, for high treason, in 1794. The Government attempted, by their proceedings in these cases, to revive the doctrine of constructive treason, against twelve persons who had belonged to various societies having for their professed object the reform of the House of Commons. Declining to be tried jointly, the Attorney-General, Sir John Scott, afterwards Lord Eldon, selected Thomas Hardy, a shoemaker, as the one against whom he could make the strongest case. He spoke nine hours in opening the case for the prosecution, but his efforts to procure a conviction were signally defeated, to his grievous mortification, by Erskine, who proved that the object of these societies had been advocated by the Earl of Chatham, Mr. Burke, Mr. Pitt himself, and the Duke of Richmond, at that time a [p.137] member of the Government. The speech which he delivered in defence of Hardy was a masterpiece, and well merited the eulogium which Horne Tooke wrote at the end of it, in a copy of Hardy's trial, 'This speech will live for ever.' The Ministry, instead of abandoning the prosecution of the others, against whom an indictment had been brought, were so infatuated as to bring John Horne Tooke, the celebrated philologist, and John Thelwall, successively to trial, but met with a still more signal defeat; and all the other prisoners were acquitted without any evidence being offered against them.
 
THE GRAHAMS.
page 167

JAMES, third Duke of Montrose. He represented in the House of Commons, first the borough of Richmond, in Yorkshire, at the general election of 1780, and subsequently Great Bedwin in 1784. He was appointed one of the Lords of the Treasury on the formation of the Ministry of Mr. Pitt in 1783, became Paymaster of the Forces in 1789, and one of the Commissioners of the Indian Board. He was appointed Master of the Horse in 1790—an office which he resigned for that of Lord Justice-General of Scotland in 1795. He was also President of the Board of Trade, June 10, 1804, and Joint Postmaster-General, July 13 in the same year. He was removed by the Ministry of 'All the Talents' in 1806, but on the return of the Tories to power in the following year, he was again made Master of the Horse, an office which he held until 1821, when he succeeded the Marquis of Hertford as Lord Chamberlain. Like his father, he was Chancellor of the University of Glasgow, and was also Lord-Lieu-tenant of the counties of Stirling and Dumbarton, in which, before the Reform Bill, his influence was predominant. He died December 30th, 1836.
 
THE HEPBURNS.
page 250

Lord Hales was repeatedly appointed ambassador to the courts of France, Spain, and England inconnection with the negotiations for the marriage of the young King; and when all arrangements were atlength concluded, and the Princess Margaret, eldest daughter of Henry VII., was married by proxy toJames IV., at Richmond (January 27th, 1503), the Earl of Bothwell officiated as the representative of the King. He was honoured also to bear the sword of state before [p.250] his Majesty when he received his young queen, and escorted her into the capital. The Earl died about 1507. Of his three sons by Lady Janet Douglas, only daughter of the first Earl of Morton, he was succeeded by ADAM, the eldest. JOHN, the second, became Bishop of Brechin in 1517; and PATRICK, the third, succeeded his uncle as Prior of St. Andrews. He held for three years (1524—27) the office of Secretary of State, and, in 1535, was consecrated Bishop of Moray, and was allowed to hold incommendam the abbacy of Scone. He was one of those prelates whose licentious conduct brought great discredit on their sacred office, and contributed largely to the downfall of the Romish system in Scotland. He had no fewer than nine natural children—seven sons and two daughters—who were legitimatised under the Great Seal in 1533, 1545, and 1550. When he saw the Reformation at hand, he made liberal provision for them by feuing out all the lands belonging to the see.
 
page 326

The Marquis of Huntly left by this lady four sons and five daughters. His second son, John, who was created Viscount Melgum [p.325] and Lord Aboyne by Charles I. in 1627, perished in the burning of Frendraught Castle. Viscount Melgum was married to Lady Sophia Hay, fifth daughter of the Earl of Errol. Thislady was a Roman Catholic, and was ministered to by Gilbert Blackhal, a priest of the Scots' mission in France, in the Low Countries, and in Scotland, who, in a work which has been published by the Spalding Club, entitled, 'A brieff narration of the services done to three noble Ladyes,' has recorded 'How I came to be engaged in the service of my Ladye of Aboyne,' and 'of the services that I rendered to my Lady of Aboyne, in the capacities of palest, chamberlain, and captain of her castle.'*His eldest son, GEORGE, was second Marquis of Huntly. During the lifetime of his father he spent sometime at the Court in London, and great pains were taken by the King to educate him in the Protestant religion. On his return to his own country, the Earl of Enzie, as he was termed, became involved, in 1618, in a quarrel with Sir Lauchlan Mackintosh—chief of the clan Chattan, his hereditary enemies—which greatly disturbed the peace of the country. In the end the Earl, who possessed superior influence at Court, induced King James to commit Mackintosh to the castle of Edinburgh, until he should give satisfaction to the heir of the Gordons. In 1623, accompanied by a band of 'gallant young gentlemen and well appointed,' he went over to France, and was made Captain of the Scots Bodyguard to the French king, an office of great honour and influence, which had long been held by the Stewarts of D'Aubigny, Earls and Dukes of Lennox. Louis XIII. was at that time assisting the German princes against the House of Austria, and Lord Enzie was sent into Lorraine, and served with great distinction there, and afterwards in Alsace. Louis, on reviving the corps, intended to confer the command on Frederick, Duke of Richmond and Lennox, but on the sudden death of that nobleman in 1624, the honour was transferred to his nephew, Lord Gordon, under the Marshal de la Force. The French king cordially acknowledged the signal services rendered to him by the Scottish company in this campaign. The Earl was recalled from Germany by his father, as his assistance was urgently required in suppressing the disorders in the Highlands and in Aberdeenshire. He was created Viscount Aboyne in 1632, with remainder to his second son, James, and his heirs male. He succeeded to the hereditary honours and estates of his family on the death of his father in 1636, and when the ill-advised proceedings of Charles I., in attempting to force an English liturgy on the people of Scotland, had caused them to take up arms in vindication of their rights and liberties, the Marquis of Huntly received a commission from the King as his Lieutenant in the North, and raised the royal standard there. [p.326] The Covenanters, who were well aware of Huntly's great influence in the north, made an earnest effort to induce him to join their party. Colonel Robert Munro, an officer who had served in the German wars, was sent as their envoy to Strathbogie. 'The sum of his commission to Huntly was, that the noblemen Covenanters were desirous that he should join with them in the common cause; that if he would do so, and take the Covenant, they would give him the first place and make him leader of their forces; and further, they would make his state and his fortunes greater than ever they were; and, moreover, they should pay off and discharge all his debts, which they knew to be about one hundred thousand pounds sterling; that their forces and associates were a hundred to one with the King; and therefore it was to no purpose to him to take up arms against them, for if he refused this offer, and declared against them, they should find means to disable him for to help the King; and, moreover, they knew how to undo him, and bade him expect that they would ruinate his family and estates.'
 
page 341

The Duchess had the reputation of being a dexterous matchmaker, which was probably owing to the fact that no fewer than three dukes (Richmond, Manchester, and Bedford) and a marquis (Cornwallis) became her sons-in-law. After her daughters were thus settled to her satisfaction, her Grace said she would now make love to her old husband, but she had unfortunately been anticipated in this praiseworthy resolution. The Duke, whom she had probably a good deal neglected, absorbed as she must have been in fashionable and political engagements, had meanwhile formed an illicit connection with a young woman of the name of Christie, of humble birth, who resided at Fochabers, in the vicinity of Gordon Castle; and, as might have been expected, this liaison alienated his affections from his wife, [p.341] and must have hardened his heart; for, as the national poet of Scotland justly remarks, the 'illicit love'
 
THE GORDONS.
page 343

As the Duke died without issue, the dukedom, along with the English peerages of Norwich and Gordon, became extinct, the baronies (by writ) of Mordaunt and Beauchamp fell into abeyance, and the marquisate and earldom of Huntly and the earldom of Enzie devolved upon his kinsman, George, fifth Earl of Aboyne. [p.343] The extensive estates of the family fell to the fifth Duke of Richmond and Lennox, a son of the eldest daughter of Duke Alexander, who succeeded to them under the entail executed by that nobleman, preferring his daughters and their children to his male kinsmen of the Aboyne branch of the family.
 
THE GORDONS.
page 343

The present Duke of Richmond (the sixth), who already enjoyed an English, a Scottish, and a French dukedom, was created Duke of Gordon of Gordon Castle, and Earl of Kinrara, in 1876

 

   
 

 

 

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