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Great Historic Families of Scotland

   A search for all reference to Glencairn


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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 That of Gordon, which expired in 1836, has recently been replaced by a British title of the same rank conferred on the Duke of Richmond, who represents the elder branch of the family in the female line.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  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 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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WILLIAM, fourth Earl, whose mother was a daughter of Archibald Bell-the-Cat, succeeded him in 1530, and raised the family to its greatest height of wealth and power. He was selected by James V. to accompany him when he went to France, in 1530, for the purpose of marrying a lady belonging to the royal family; and after the death of that prince he was appointed, along with other six of the most influential nobles, to take charge of the person of his infant daughter. He was present at the sanguinary battle of Pinkie, in 1547, where his eldest son was taken prisoner. He seems at that time to have been favourable to the project of marrying the infant Queen to Prince Edward, for Sir Ralph Sadler mentions him as one 'who hath ever borne a singular fond affection' to King Henry, and his name appears for 300 marks on the list of that monarch's pensioners. The Earl is believed to have been, at an early age, favourably inclined towards the Reformed faith, and was a friend of George Wishart, the martyr. He is said by Tytler to have been one of the persons associated with the Earl of Cassilis in the conspiracy to murder Cardinal Beaton. He seems to have retained the respect and confidence of the Queen-Dowager, Mary of Guise, though opposed to her policy, for along with the Earls of Argyll and Glencairn, and Lord James Stewart, he was summoned to the deathbed of that princess, when she expressed her great sorrow for the distracted state of the country, and earnestly recommended them to dismiss both the French and English forces, and to adhere firmly to their lawful sovereign.
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JAMES HAMILTON, third Marquis and first Duke of Hamilton, had the misfortune to have his lot cast in the 'troublous times' of the Great Civil War, and was led to take a prominent but most unfortunate part in the contest between Charles I. and the Covenanters. In his twenty-fourth year he was appointed to the command of the auxiliary force of six thousand six hundred men, whom Charles I. sent to fight under the famous Gustavus Adolphus in the cause of the Elector Palatine, brother-in-law of the English King, and distinguished himself by his bravery in several important sieges and battles. It was  probably owing to the reputation which he gained in this service that Charles appointed the Marquis of Hamilton to the command of the fleet which he sent against the Scottish Covenanters in 1639. It was on this occasion that the mother of the Marquis, a daughter of the Earl of Glencairn, a lady of bold and masculine spirit, and a zealous Covenanter, appeared among the patriotic volunteers with pistols at her saddle-bow, and declared that she would be the first to shoot her son if he should dare to land his forces and attack his countrymen.

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ARCHIBALD, fifth Earl of Argyll, though a zealous Protestant, supported at first the Government of the Queen-Regent; but on her perfidious violation of the Treaty of Perth, which he helped to negotiate, he joined the Lords of the Congregation, became the faithful friend and champion of John Knox, and, along with Lord James Stewart—the one, as Douglas remarks, the most powerful, the other the most popular, leader of the Protestant party—aided in the expulsion of the French troops from the country, and in all the measures which led to the overthrow of the Romish system and the establishment of the Reformed faith in Scotland. The Earl's name appears third on the list of the nobility who subscribed the First Book of Discipline, and he was appointed by the Lords of the Congregation, along with the Earls of Glencairn and Arran, to destroy the 'remaining monuments of idolatry in the West.' On the return of Queen Mary from France in 1561, Argyll was immediately appointed a Privy Councillor, and appears to have stood high in the royal favour. In 1565, however, the English ambassador reports that 'The Queen hateth my Lord of Argyll.' He was strongly opposed to her marriage with Darnley, and united with the Earls of Moray and Glencairn and the Duke of Chatelherault, in an attempt to prevent this ill-fated match by force of arms. When the other Protestant lords were compelled to take refuge in England, Argyll retired to his own country. It was 'a far cry to Lochaw,' and he well knew that his enemies durst not attempt to follow him into the fastnesses of Argyllshire.

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On regaining his liberty when Monk caused a new Parliament to be summoned, Lord Lauderdale lost no time in repairing to the Hague, to wait upon Charles, whom he accompanied to England. He was appointed Secretary of State for Scotland. A contemporary writer states that 'Chancellor Hyde endeavoured to make Lauderdale Chancellor for Scotland, under pretence of rewarding his sufferings, but really to remove him from a constant attendance at Court. But Lauderdale, foreseeing that he who was possessed of his Majesty's ear would govern all, thought fit to reside in London, and so that employment was bestowed on Glencairn.'
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When the establishment of Episcopacy in Scotland was proposed, Lauderdale strongly resented it, and earnestly advised the King to maintain the Presbyterian system; but, as he told Burnet, Charles 'spoke to him to let that go, for it was not a religion for a gentleman.' After a lengthened discussion of the subject in the Council, it was resolved that the Presbyterian Church should be abolished. Lauderdale at once fell in with the views of the prelatical party 'as warmly,' says Guthrie, 'as Middleton himself had done.' This astonished Glencairn, who knew Lauderdale to be a violent Presbyterian by profession. A remarkable and very characteristic conversation took place on this subject between these two noblemen. Glencairn said, 'he was not for lordly prelates such as were in Scotland before the Reformation, but for a limited, sober, and moderate episcopacy.' 'My lord,' replied Lauderdale, 'since you are for bishops, and must have them, bishops you shall have, and higher than ever they were in Scotland, and that you will find.' The Chancellor, in no long time, found to his cost the truth of this statement. 'Woe's me' he said, 'we have advanced these men to be bishops and they will trample on us all.' Lauderdale was opposed to the establishment of the High Court of Commission for the summary trial and punishment of all recusants, clerk and laity, which was invested with almost absolute powers, and exercised them with merciless severity; but when its constitution was pressed by the bishops, and acceded to by the King, he readily acquiesced. Bishop Burner says, 'I took the liberty to expostulate very freely with Lauderdale. I thought he was acting the Earl of Traquair's part, giving way to all the follies of the bishops, on design to ruin them. He upon that ran into a great deal of freedom with me; told me many passages of Sharp's past life. He was persuaded he would ruin all; but he said he was resolved to give him line, for he had not credit enough to stop him, nor would he oppose anything that he proposed, unless it were very extravagant. He saw that the Earl of Glencairn and he would be in a perpetual war, and it was indifferent to him how matters would go between them.'
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ALEXANDER, his elder son, fifth Baron, was a true representative of his family both in its strength and its weakness. He was personally brave, and fought with great distinction against the English invaders in the campaign of 1548 and 1549. Unlike a large body of the nobles, he steadfastly supported the independence of the country, and was proof against the bribes and threats of the Protector Somerset and his agents. He recovered Home Castle from the enemy in a very daring manner. A small band of his retainers, who were on the watch for an opportunity of surprising it, perceiving on a certain night that the guards had relaxed their vigilance, boldly scaled the precipitous rock on which the fortress was built, and, killing the sentinel, obtained possession of the castle without difficulty. Fast Castle, another fortalice of the family, was retaken in a manner equally adventurous. A number of armed men concealed themselves in the waggons which were bringing a supply of provisions for the garrison. Suddenly starting out of their hiding-place, the Scots seized the castle gates and admitted a strong body of their countrymen, who were waiting their signal in the immediate vicinity of the fort. The garrison being taken unawares, were easily overpowered, and the place secured. Lord Home was appointed to the office of Warden of the Eastern Marches, so often held by his ancestors, and was one of the commissioners who negotiated the treaty between England and Scotland at Norham in 1559. He supported the Reformation, and sat in the Parliament which abolished Popery and established the Protestant Church in 1560; but in 1565 he attached himself to the party of Mary and Darnley, who in the following year, with a splendid retinue, visited the family castles of Home, Wedderburn, and Langton. He seemed to stand so high in the favour of the Queen at this time that it was expected that the ancient title of Earl of March would be revived in his favour. He was one of the nobles who signed the discreditable bond in favour of the Queen's marriage to Bothwell, but only a few weeks later he joined the association for the defence of the infant King, her son, and along with the Earls of Morton, Mar, Glencairn, and Athole, Lords Lindsay, Ruthven, Graham, and Ochiltree, he subscribed the order for Mary's imprisonment in Lochleven Castle. After the Queen's escape from that fortalice, Home brought a body of six hundred spearmen to the assistance of the Regent Moray at the battle of Langside, where he was wounded both in the face and the leg; but the fierce charge of the Border spearmen contributed not a little to the defeat of the Queen's army. In 1569, however, he once more changed sides, and joined Queen Mary's party. He assisted Kirkaldy of Grange and Maitland of Lethington in holding out the castle of Edinburgh to the last against Regent Morton; but on its surrender in May, 1573, he was more fortunate than his associates, for though he was brought to trial before the Parliament and convicted of treason, he was pardoned, and obtained the restoration of his estates. He died 11th August, 1575.
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WILLIAM DRUMMOND. He took an active part on the royal side in the Great Civil War, was an officer in the army of the 'Engagement' raised for the rescue of Charles I. in 1648, and had the command of a regiment at the battle of Worcester in 1651, where he was taken prisoner, but made his escape. He succeeded in making his way to the Highlands, and joined there the force which had been collected under the Earl of Glencairn, but when they were surprised and defeated by General Morgan at Lochgarry in 1654, Lord Madderty fled to the Continent. He subsequently entered the Muscovite service, in which he attained the rank of lieutenant-general. As he himself said, he 'served long in the wars, at home and abroad, against the Polonians and Tartars.' After the Restoration he was recalled to his own country by Charles II., who appointed him in 1666 Major-General of the Forces in Scotland. He was sent in the following year, along with General Tom Dalzell, another Muscovite officer, to scour the shires of Ayr, Dumfries, and Galloway, and to complete the ruin of the Presbyterian party. But in 1675, on the suspicion that he had corresponded with some of the exiled Covenanters in Holland, he was imprisoned for a whole year in Dumbarton Castle. On his release he was restored to his command, and, in 1684, was appointed General of the Ordnance. On the accession of James VII. in the following year, General Drummond was nominated Commander of the Forces in Scotland, and appointed a Lord of the Treasury. 'He was a loose and profane man,' says Lord Macaulay, 'but a sense of honour, which his own kinsmen wanted, restrained him from a public apostasy. He lived and died, in the significant phrase of one of his countrymen, "a bad Christian but a good Protestant."' In 1686, along with the Duke of Hamilton and Sir George Lockhart, he strenuously opposed the attempt of King James to grant an indulgence to the Roman Catholics which he refused to the Scottish Covenanters. He succeeded his brother as Lord Madderty in 1684, and was created Viscount of Strathallan and Lord Drummond of Cromlixin 1686. He was the Lord Strathallan who wrote, in 1681, a history of the Drummond family, to which reference has already been made. The work remained in manuscript till the year 1831, when one hundred copies were printed for private circulation. In the preface to the volume the editor states that 'the author enjoyed the best advantages in the prosecution of his labours, not only in obtaining the use of the several accounts drawn up by previous writers, but in having free access to original papers, and to every other source of information regarding the collateral branches of a family to which he himself was nearly related, and of which he became so distinguished an ornament.' His lordship had, however, adopted without inquiry the traditional account of the origin of the Drummond family, and does not appear to have scrutinised the charters in their possession.

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