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The Great Historic Families of Scotland 

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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 That of Gordon, which expired in 1836, has recently been replaced by a British title of the same rank conferred on the Duke of Richmond, who represents the elder branch of the family in the female line.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.

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Sir James continued to take a prominent part in the struggles of the patriots to expel the English from the country, and was concerned in all the most perilous enterprises of that protracted warfare. He defeated a detachment of the English while marching from Bothwell into Ayrshire, under the command of Sir Philip Mowbray, and he cleared the wooded and mountainous district of Ettrick Forest and Tweeddale of the enemy. It was his skilful strategy that inflicted a crushing defeat on the Lord of Lorn at the Pass of Brander, near Loch Awe, in Argyleshire. On March 13, 1313, he captured the important fortress of Roxburgh and took the garrison prisoners. He commanded the left wing of the Scottish army at the battle of Bannockburn. His chivalrous behaviour towards Randolph, on the evening before that memorable conflict, shows the true nobility of his character. Randolph had failed to notice the movement of a strong body of horse under Sir Robert Clifford, who had been detached from the main army of the English, for the purpose of strengthening the garrison of Stirling Castle, and he being apprised of this movement by Bruce himself, had hastened at the head of an inferior force to arrest their march. Douglas, with great difficulty, induced King Robert to give him permission to go to the assistance of Randolph, whose little band was environed by the enemy and placed in great jeopardy. But on approaching the scene of conflict, he perceived that the English were falling into disorder, and ordered his followers to halt. 'These brave men,' he said, 'have repulsed the enemy; let us not diminish their glory by claiming a share in it.' 'When it is remembered,' says Sir Walter Scott,' that Douglas and Randolph were rivals for fame, this is one of the bright touches which illuminate and adorn the history of those ages of which blood and devastation are the predominant characters.'

page 99

The family soon become numerous and powerful, and spread their branches far and wide throughout the Lowland districts of Scotland. SIR WILLIAM KEITH of Galston, in Ayrshire, fought on the patriotic side in the War of Independence, and distinguished himself by his signal bravery and energy at the capture of Berwick, in 1318. He was one of the knights who, in 1330, accompanied Sir James Douglas in his expedition to the Holy Land, with the heart of King Robert Bruce. In 1333 he was appointed Governor of Berwick, and two years later was sent ambassador to England. He was killed at the siege of Stirling in 1336.

page 127

SECKER DE SEYE, son of Dugdale de Sey, by a daughter of De Quincy, Earl of Winchester, the founder of this illustrious family, was of Norman descent, like most of the progenitors of the other great houses of Scotland, and settled in Scotland in the days of David I., from whom he obtained a grant of lands in East Lothian, to which he gave his own name—Seytun, the dwelling of Sey. His son, ALEXANDER DE SETUNE, or SETON, was proprietor of the estate of Winchburgh, in Linlithgowshire, as well as of Seton and Wintoun, in East Lothian, and his son, PHILIP DE SETUNE, received a grant of these lands from William the Lion in 1169. The fourth in descent from him was the noble patriot SIR CHRISTOPHER, or CHRISTALL SEYTON, who married Lady Christian Bruce, sister of King Robert Bruce, and widow of Gratney, Earl of Mar. The 'Gallant Seton,' as he is termed by the author of the Lord of the Isles, was one of the earliest and most strenuous supporters of his illustrious brother-in-law, and was present at his coronation at Scone, 27th of March,  1306. At the Battle of Methven, on the 13th of June following, Bruce, who had ventured his person in that conflict like a knight of romance, was unhorsed by Sir Philip Mowbray, but was remounted by Sir Christopher, who greatly signalised himself in the conflict by his personal valour. Sir Christopher is said to have been a man of gigantic stature. His two-handed sword, measuring four feet nine inches, is in the possession of George Seton, Esq., of the Register Office, representative of the Setons of Cariston.* He made his escape from that fatal field, and shut himself up in Lochdoon Castle, in Ayrshire, where he was betrayed to the English, through means (according to Barbour) of one Macnab, 'a disciple of Judas,' in whom the unfortunate knight reposed entire confidence. Sir Christopher was conveyed to Dumfries, where he was tried, condemned, and executed; and his brother John shared the same fate at Newcastle. Another brother, named ALEXANDER SETON, succeeded to the estates of the family, and adhered to their patriotic principles, for his name is appended, along with those of other leading nobles, to the famous letter to the Pope, in 1320, asserting the independence of Scotland. He was rewarded by King Robert Bruce with liberal grants of land, including the manor of Tranent, forfeited by the powerful family of De Quincy, Earls of Winchester and High Constables of Scotland, from whom, as we have seen, he was descended in the female line. This Sir Alexander has been immortalised in the pages of Sir Walter Scott for the conspicuous part which he took in the defence of his country against the invasion of the English after the death of Robert Bruce. He was Governor of the town of Berwick when it was besieged by Edward III. of England in 1333. Though the garrison was neither numerous nor well appointed they made a gallant defence, and succeeded in sinking and destroying by fire a great part of the English fleet. The siege was then converted into a blockade, and as the supplies at length began to fail and starvation was imminent, the Governor agreed to capitulate by a certain day unless succours were received before that time, and gave hostages, among whom was his own son, Thomas, for the fulfilment of these stipulations.

page 257

The barony in Ayrshire, from which they derive their title, was originally the possession of the Loudouns of Loudoun, one of the oldest families in Scotland. Margaret of Loudoun, the heiress of the estate, married Sir Reginald Crawford, High Sheriff of Ayr, and was the grandmother of Sir William Wallace, the illustrious Scottish patriot. The barony passed to the Campbells in the reign of Robert Bruce by the marriage of Sir Duncan, son of Donald Campbell, to Susanne Crawford, heiress of Loudoun, and fifth in descent from Sir Reginald Crawford. Sir Hugh Campbell, Sheriff of Ayr, was created a Lord of Parliament by the title of Lord Campbell of Loudoun, by James VI., in 1601. His granddaughter, Margaret Campbell, who inherited his title and estates, married Sir John Campbell of Lawers, a scion of the Glenorchy or Breadalbane family. He was created—

page 398

In the following year (1685) Sir Patrick Hume accompanied the Earl of Argyll in the disastrous expedition which cost that unfortunate nobleman his head. The ruin of the enterprise, which from the outset was evidently doomed to failure, was mainly brought about by the mutual jealousies and contentions of the leaders. More fortunate than his chief and Sir John Cochrane, the other second in command, Sir Patrick, after lying in concealment for some weeks in Ayrshire, a second time made his escape to the Continent, in a vessel which conveyed him from the west coast, first to Ireland and then to Bordeaux, whence he proceeded to Geneva, and finally to Holland. At Bordeaux he gave himself out for a surgeon, as he had done during his former exile, and as he always carried lancets, and could let blood, he had no difficulty in passing for a medical man. He travelled on foot across France to Holland. where he was joined by his wife and children. Under the designation of Dr. Wallace, Sir Patrick settled in Utrecht, where he spent three years and a half in great privation, as his estate had been confiscated, and his income was both small and precarious. His poverty prevented him from keeping a servant, and he was frequently compelled to pawn his plate to provide for the necessities of his family. One of Sir Patrick's younger children, named Juliana, had been left behind in Scotland, on account of ill-health, and her eldest sister Grizel was sent back to bring her over to Holland. She was entrusted at the same time with the management of some business of her  father's, and was commissioned to collect what she could of the money that was due to him. All this she performed with her usual discretion and success.
page 399

Sir Patrick's eldest son and young Mr. Baillie were at this time serving together in the Guards of the Prince of Orange, and Grizel's constant attention, continues Lady Murray, 'was to have her brother appear right in his linen and dress. They wore little point cravats and cuffs, which many a night she sat up to have in as good order for him as any in the place; and one of their greatest expenses was in dressing him as he ought to be. As their house was always full of the unfortunate banished people like themselves, they seldom went to dinner without three, or four, or five of them to share with them.' And it used to excite their surprise that notwithstanding this generous hospitality, their limited resources were almost always sufficient to supply their wants. In after years, when invested with the rank of an Earl's daughter, and the wife of a wealthy gentleman, Grizel used to declare that their years of privation and drudgery were the most delightful of her whole life. Some of their difficulties and straits, though sufficiently annoying, only served to afford amusement to the exiled family. Andrew, then a boy, afterwards a judge of the Court of Session, was one day sent down to the cellar for a glass of alabast beer, the only liquor with which Sir Patrick could entertain his friends. On his return with the beer, his father said, 'Andrew, what is that in your other hand?' It was the spigot of the barrel, which the boy had forgotten to replace. He hastened back to the cellar with all speed, but found that meanwhile the whole stock of beer had run out. This incident occasioned much mirth and laughter, though at the same time they did not know where they would get more. It was the custom at Utrecht to gather money, for the poor from house to house, the collector announcing his presence by ringing a hand-bell. One night the sound of the bell was heard at Sir Patrick's door, when there was no money in the house but a single okey, the smallest coin then used in Holland. They were so much ashamed to offer such a donation that none of the family would go with the money, till Sir Patrick himself at last undertook the duty, philosophically remarking, 'We can give no more than all we have.' The sale of this Ayrshire estate in 1768, provided the funds by means of which Hume Castle and the adjoining lands became the property of the Marchmont family.*
page 403

The two eldest sons of the first Earl of Marchmont predeceased him, and he was succeeded in his titles and estates by his third son, ALEXANDER, who, like his father, held a number of important public offices. He was a Lord of Session, under the title of Lord Cessnock, a Commissioner of the Exchequer and a Privy Councillor, and represented the British Government at the Courts both of Denmark and Prussia. By his marriage with the heiress of Cessnock, in Ayrshire, he acquired that estate|R*|r and the title under which he was raised, before he was thirty years of age, to a seat on the Bench. On the breaking out of the rebellion of 1715, he raised four hundred men in Berwickshire, to assist in its suppression, and marched with three battalions to join the Duke of Argyll at Stirling, before the battle of Sheriffmuir. In 1721 he was appointed first ambassador to the celebrated congress at Cambray, and made his public entry into  that city in a style of great splendour and magnificence. But his opposition to Sir Robert Walpole led to his dismissal from the office of Lord Clerk-Register in 1733. Earl Alexander died in 1740, in the sixty-fifth year of his age. He had four sons and four daughters, but his two eldest sons died young. He was succeeded in his titles and estates by the elder of his two surviving sons, born in 1708. They were twins, and were celebrated for their extraordinary personal resemblance to one another. Alexander Hume Campbell, who bore the name which his father assumed on his marriage, was an eminent member of the English Bar, and represented his native county of Berwickshire in the British Parliament. For some years previous to his death, in 1760, he held the office of Lord Clerk-Register of Scotland.
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The title of NITHSDALE, as Mr. Fraser remarks, was more appropriate as a family title of honour than that of Morton, for which it was exchanged. Morton had not been previously in the family as a territorial possession, and they acquired only a quasi right through the marriage of a co-heiress. On the other hand, the rich and beautiful vale of the Nith, in Dumfriesshire, through which the river Nith flows, was historically associated with the Maxwells. From a very early period they owned the castle of Carlaverock, which was the key to the whole of that district. The family also, through its heads and branches, had long possessed large territories on both banks of the Nith, from its mouth where it falls into the Solway Firth, to nearly the source of that river in the parish of Dalmellington, in Ayrshire. Book of Carlaverock.


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