The Peerage of Scotland, brought out in one
volume folio by Sir Robert
Douglas of Glenbervie, Baronet, in 1764, was a
work which at once took its place as a high
authority on the subject with which it dealt.
Half a century later a new and
revised edition was completed
by Mr. John Philip
Wood, in two volumes folio.
The works both of Douglas and
Wood were for their time admirable examples of ability
and research. The former
author, himself a member of an ancient Scottish house,
was in a position which made it easy for him
to collect information from the members of the Scottish nobility,
and many of their charter-chests were opened to
him. But he and his editor,
Wood, laborious and
painstaking though they were, lived at a period
when the historical records of the country were very much less
accessible than they now are. With the exception of the Acts of
Parliament in an abridged and mutilated form,
absolutely nothing in the way of records had in
Douglas' days been printed, and references
and authorities had to be
patiently sought with much expenditure of time and
trouble in the badly arranged, insufficiently housed, and
wholly unindexed public documents. The
natural consequence was that while their
information, so far as it dealt with their own times or the generation
immediately preceding, was on the whole
commendably accurate, the particulars regarding
the earlier centuries were scanty
and too frequently untrustworthy. But though
every student of family history has to acknowledge a deep debt of
gratitude to their labours, after a time a general desire arose that a
more accurate and detailed
account of the Scottish Peerage should be prepared. Especially of late
years, owing to the official publication of
several important series of records, such as the Calendar of
Documents relating to Scotland, the Exchequer
Rolls, the Register of the Great Seal, the Register of the Privy
Council, and the Lord
Treasurers Accounts, it was evident that these in
themselves afforded a deep mine from
which information might be
drawn. Again, many private collections have within the last century seen
light. The publications of the Bannatyne,
Maitland, and Spalding Clubs have revealed
what a rich store of ancient
documents remained in Scotland, and the
Historical MSS. Commissioners have made accessible
many most valuable collections,
which had lain more or less neglected in
the charter-rooms of many a noble house.
A new edition of the Peerage of Scotland has been for
a long time the ardent aspiration of the present Editor. A good many
years ago a meeting of persons interested was
called by him, and the
subject was carefully considered.
But the difficulties in 'the way were apparently unsurmountable.
The expense of such an undertaking
was considerable, and the class of readers
to whom it would appeal was
necessarily a limited one : the project therefore was
at the time abandoned. Since then, however, the munificence of
Sir William Fraser, K.C.B., himself a well-known writer on genealogical
subjects, and whose series of family histories are
monuments of patient research, rendered possible a
way out of the difficulty. Sir William left a certain sum of
money to his Trustees with directions that it
should be spent in printing works which would tend
to elucidate the history and antiquities of
Scotland. In carrying out his intention the Trustees resolved to devote
part of this sum to making possible a new edition
of Douglas's Peerage, though it
would far from cover the whole outlay entailed in such an
Modern methods demand a much
more thorough treatment of genealogical questions
than was desired or even possible a century ago.
The day of the one man dictionary or cyclopaedia
is over, and it would take
the devotion of a lifetime for any individual to
write the history of the Scots Peerage as it ought to be written. It
was determined therefore that the
work should be undertaken by a staff of
writers under the supervision of an editor, and in
many cases this has resulted in a title being treated by
an author who had made the history of the family his special
study, and had access to sources of information
which could not have been readily got
by any other. There are, no doubt, certain
drawbacks to this method : a writer is apt to
extend the particulars of a family in which he
takes a special interest to a degree far beyond
the limits of a work such as this.
The editor's duty is to
combat against this tendency, but occasionally circumstances are
too much for him, and he is unwilling to reject
information which is really valuable and
interesting even though it may seem unduly to
increase the length of the article.
In commencing the preparations
for this edition instructions were given to contributors that, while
free latitude in this respect was given them, they
might, if they pleased, use the actual words of
Douglas or Wood when no correction was necessary
as to the facts. While to a certain extent this
has been done, it has been found better in many cases to re-write the
articles entirely without reference to what the
previous editors had done. So
many errors had to be corrected, so many
facts re -stated in the light of modern research,
and so many abbreviations made, that it
was found to be the only satisfactory mode of
treatment. It has also, it is hoped, conduced to greater clearness in
diction, as the somewhat verbose comments
of Douglas and Wood, though quite in the
style of their own day, hardly commend themselves
to the more practical requirements of our times.
The work, however, has been arranged very much on
the lines on which Wood left it, save that instead of having to
hunt for the Royal lineage through the article
Albany a succinct account of the Kings
and Queens of Scotland, with their issue, has been
included at the beginning of the first volume.
As a general rule cadets of families have not been
brought down further than the second generation from the parent stem.
But there are cases where
this has been departed from, such as when the descendants of a younger
son ultimately succeeded to the title, or where it
is necessary to show the extinction of
some cadent branch.
Not the least important feature of this
work is the fact that wherever possible,
references have been given to the various authorities for the statements
made. This is especially the case as regards the older dates. Douglas
and Wood are fairly accurate as to their own
times, and they must have
got information from contemporaries who had
personal knowledge of the facts they communicated.
As regards more recent dates it has been thought
unnecessary in many instances to give authorities for them, as they are
contained in the ordinary books of reference. Burke, Debrett,
and Lodge are Peerages to which the Editor lies
under the greatest obligation for the many more modern
dates which have been taken from them.
In compiling the accounts of the different families
more importance has been given to the genealogical
than to the historical side of their career. And it has been absolutely
necessary, out of consideration for space, to omit much of the
historical matter which appeared in the former editions,
more especially with regard to the notices of the younger sons.
But in the case of the holders of titles
themselves it has been found impossible to omit certain details in
connection with the history of the country with which they were so
intimately associated. Indeed, not to have done so would
have been to deprive the work of much of
In conclusion, the Editor has to thank
his contributors for the loyal and hearty
support which they have given him. He has often had
to regret having had to omit, from
unavoidable reasons, much information, the collection of
which must have entailed a large expenditure of time
and labour. There are two
persons to whom he owes a deep debt of gratitude: Dr. Maitland
Thomson, the Curator of the Historical
Department in H.M. Register
House, placed the resources of his exceptionally wide
knowledge of Scottish families freely at his disposal. There is
hardly an article which does not
owe something to his powers of research and
willingness to communicate the result. His
colleague the Rev. John Anderson, assistant
Curator of the same Department has acted as
assistant editor, and it is not too much to say
that without his invaluable help the Editor would
have found his task not an easy one in any case
immeasurably more difficult.
Whatever success the work may have owes
much to Mr. Anderson's learning and constant care.
The illustrations, with the full-page
achievements and the initial letters, are the
work of Mr. Graham Johnston, Heraldic Artist to
the Lyon Office, whose
advance to the front rank in his profession the Editor has for
some years watched with
interest and pleasure.
JAMES BALFOUR PAUL.
EDINBURGH, April 1904.
Kings of Scotland, and Abercorn, Hamilton, Earl of, through to Balmerino,
Banff, Ogilvy, Lord, through to Cranstoun, Cranstoun, Lord.
Crawford, Lindsay, Earl of, through to Falkland, Cary, Viscount.
Fife, The Ancient earls of, through to Hyndford, Carmichael, Earl of.
Innermeath, Stewart, Lord, through to Mar, Stewart, Earl of.
Marchmont, Hume, Earl of, through to Oxfuird, Makgill, Viscount of.
Panmure, Maule, Earl, through to Sinclair, Sinclair, Lord.
Sommerville, Sommerville, Lord, through to Winton, Seton, Earl of.
THE death of the Rev. John Anderson, Curator
of the Historical Department of H.M. Register
House, which took place as the final pages of this, the last volume of
the Scottish Peerage were passing through the Press, cannot be passed
over unnoticed in this work. A profound Record scholar with a special
knowledge of early charters, he was from the
inception of the Peerage a loyal and able colleague of the Editor. Many
of the best articles were from his pen, and whatever merits the
work may have are largely owing to his diligence
and learning. He lived to correct the proofs of the last article he
wrote, the second last article in this volume. His death will be felt
acutely by the many students of family history
who resorted to him for advice and guidance, and
to whom his varied stores of information were always open.
Editorial Note, Addenda et corrigenda, Index
THIS, the concluding volume of the Scots Peerage,
completes a work, the first volume of which was
published in 1904. It contains, in the first place, a long list of
addenda et corrigenda: the latter may, it is hoped, serve to put right
some at all events of the actual errors which have
occurred in the work; the former, and they are the
larger class of the two, contain a good deal of information which has
come to light since the publication of the several
articles. The editor has to thank
many kind correspondents and contributors for information
supplied, and especially he may name his friends
Mr. J. Maitland Thomson, LL.D., and Col. the Hon. B. E. Boyle, both of
whom have been unremitting in their helpful endeavours to increase the
usefulness and accuracy of the Peerage. Nobody is more
aware of the many shortcomings of this
work than the editor himself, but perhaps he
may be allowed to claim that at all events it is
an advance on what has gone before. No doubt, with
increased facilities of investigation and the further publication of
national records and the contents of private charter-chests, a future
generation may be able to produce a fuller and still more
accurate account of individual families, but it is hardly
probable that a history of the Scottish Peerage on a scale similar to
that of the present work will be attempted for many
years to come. The full and elaborate
Index, with which the greater part of this volume is occupied, is the
work of Mrs. Alexander Stuart, who
has brought towards its completion an enthusiasm, energy, and
ability which are beyond all praise. Not only does it contain a list of
between forty and fifty thousand names, but each person is definitely
described by the mention of his or her title, occupation, or
relationship. In itself, indeed, the Index forms a valuable
compendium of Scottish family history, which will be
found useful even without reference to the pages of the Peerage. But it
goes without saying that such an Index doubles the usefulness of a work
like the present. It is not often that an editor meets with a compiler
who is so fully in accord with him as to the standard to be aimed at in
an index, and who is so capable of carrying it to a successful
conclusion. It is difficult for the editor adequately to express the
obligations he is under to Mrs. Stuart for her services in this matter.
The Index has been compiled on the following
1. A Peerage title is given, in capitals, with its
holders in alphabetical order, and their respective wives.
2. If the name of the title is changed, e.g. from Lyon to Glamis, it is
given a separate heading.
3. The surname of the holder of a Peerage title is given in capitals
with the various Peerages, in alphabetical order, pertaining to it.
4. After Peers, owners of lands are given in alphabetical order; those
of the same Christian name are put in chronological order.
5. Ordinary persons then come in alphabetical order and according to the
paging in the volumes.
6. Women are given under their maiden names: if married, as ' wife of ';
if unmarried as 'dau. of .'
7. As a rule, children who died in infancy are not inserted.
In taking leave of a task which has been a congenial
if a somewhat strenuous one for the last twelve years, the editor has to
express his appreciation of the amicable relations which have subsisted
between him and his contributors (some now, alas, beyond the reach of
acknowledgments). It is a pleasure to have worked with such colleagues.
JAMES BALFOUR PAUL.
EDINBURGH, June 1914.
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