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Baronets of Nova Scotia
by Marie Fraser


In America in 1621 there was a New England, a New France, and a New Spain. An enterprising Scot, Sir William Alexander of Menstrie who made made a Knight in 1609, attracted the attention of King James (VI of Scotland and I of England), who held court regularly at nearby Stirling, when he proposed that it might encourage development of a New Scotland if His Majesty were to offer a new order of baronets. The King liked the idea. After all, his creation of the Baronets of England in 1611 and the Baronets of Ireland in 1619 had raised £225,000 for the Crown.

At Windsor Castle on September 10, 1621 King James signed a grant in favour of Sir William Alexander covering all of the lands ‘ between our Colonies of New England and Newfoundland, to be known as New Scotland ’ (Nova Scotia in Latin), an area larger than Great Britain and France combined. On October 18, 1624 the King announced his intention of creating a new order of baronets to Scottish ‘ knichts and gentlemen of cheife respect for the birth, place, or fortounes ’, James I died on March 27, 1625 but his heir, Charles I, lost no time in implementing his father’s plan. By the end of 1625 the first 22 Baronets of Nova Scotia were created and, as inducements to settlement of his new colony of Nova Scotia, Sir William offered tracts of land totalling 11,520 acres ‘ to all such principal knichts & esquires as will be pleased to be undertakers of the said plantations & who will promise to set forth 6 men, artificers or laborers, sufficiently armed, apparelled & victualled for 2 yrs ‘. Baronets could receive their patents in Edinburgh rather than London, and an area of Edinburgh Castle was declared Nova Scotian territory for this purpose. In return they had to pay Sir William 1000 merks for his ‘ past charges in discoverie of the said country ‘.

Sir William Alexander - Menstrie Castle
Sir William Alexander - Menstrie Castle

The harsh climate killed many of the early settlers but the fatal blow for those who remained came in 1632 when Charles I ceded the lands to Louis XIII of France and ordered the removal of the colony and destruction of Charles Fort at Port Royal. The Order of Baronets continued, however, and grants of land were made until the end of 1639, by which time 122 baronetcies had been created, 113 of whom were granted lands in Nova Scotia. The Order continued until 1707, by which time 329 baronetcies were made.

Sir William Alexander, Earl of Stirling and Viscount of Canada, who was born at Menstrie Castle in 1567, and is often referred to as the "Founder of Nova Scotia", died bankrupt in London in 1644. His embalmed body is interred in the family vault in the High Kirk of Stirling. In October 1953, Premier Angus Macdonald unveiled a plaque at Edinburgh Castle to commemorate Sir William Alexander and the Baronets of Nova Scotia. When Menstrie Castle was scheduled for demolition in 1956, it was donations from Scots in Nova Scotia and other parts of the world that financed its restoration, and a wall of one of the Nova Scotia Commemoration Rooms is covered with shields portraying the arms of 109 Baronets of Nova Scotia, surrounding a portrait of King James [VI of Scotland and I of England]. In 1994 Trevor Croft, then Regional Director, Central and Tayside Regional Office, National Trust for Scotland, provided a list of the baronetcies depicted here.

There are still about 100 Baronets of Nova Scotia in existence, many of them descendants of those who once owned land there - land which they never set foot upon. In Halifax’s Victoria Park a cairn dedicated to Sir William Alexander stands at one end, with a statue of Robert Burns at the other end.

Richard Oliphant of Condie advises that Nova Scotia baronets are senior to any other baronets in rank in Scotland and are entitled to wear a medal denoting that they are NS baronets.

List of the Shields portraying the Arms of Baronets of Nova Scotia on display at Menstrie Castle

The following is a list of the Shields [#001-115] portraying the Arms of Baronets of Nova Scotia on display in the Commemoration Room at Menstrie Castle - courtesy of the National Trust for Scotland Regional Office responsible for Menstrie Castle. Those who did not hold baronies in the new province are marked with an asterisk (*); (s) indicates that seisin was taken thereof; (d) indicates that the title is now dormant or extinct; and (f) forfeited. None of the 207 Baronets created after 1639 received land grants in Nova Scotia.

Shields portraying the Arms of 109 Baronets of Nova Scotia
Shields portraying the Arms of 109 Baronets of Nova Scotia

No. Baronetcy Date granted Patentee Status
001 Innes of Innes 28 May 1625 Sir Robert (s)
002 Campbell of Glenorchy 29 May 1625 Sir Duncan (s)
003 Macdonald of Sleat 14 July 1625 Sir Donald
004 Colquhoun of Luss 30 Aug 1625 Sir John (s)
005 Leslie of Wardis [Rothes] 01 Sep 1625 Sir John (s)
006 Graeme of Braco [Graham of Bracco] 28 Sep 1625 Sir William (s) (d)
007 Forbes of Monymusk 30 Mar 1626 Sir William (s)
008 Johnston of Caskieben 31 Mar 1626 Sir George (s)
009 Burnett of Leys 21 Apr 1626 Sir Thomas (s)
010 Moncreiff of Moncreiff 22 Apr 1626 Sir John (s)
011 Ogilvy of Inverquharity 29 Sep 1626 Sir John (s)
012 Mackay of Far 28 Mar 1627 Sir Donald (s)
013 Maxwell of Calderwood 28 Mar 1627 Sir John
014 Stuart of Bute 28 Mar 1627 Sir James *
015 Stewart of Corsewell 18 Apr 1627 Sir James
016 Napier of Merchiston 02 May 1627 Sir Archibald
017 Makgill of Cranston Riddell 19 July 1627 Sir James (s) (d)
018 Campbell of Lundy 13 Dec 1627 Sir Colin (s) (d)
019 Acheson of Market Hill [Glencairn] 01 Jan 1628 Sir Archibald
020 Innes of Balvenie 15 Jan 1628 Sir Robert (s)
021 Hope of Craighall 19 Feb 1628 Sir Thomas (s)
022 Riddell of Riddell 14 May 1628 Sir John (s)
023 Murray of Black Barony 15 May 1628 Sir Archibald (s)
024 Murray of Elibank 16 May 1628 Sir Patrick (s)
025 --- arms not portrayed ---
026 Bruce of Stenhouse 29 Sep 1628 Sir William (s)
027 Stewart of Castle Stewart 02 Oct 1628 Sir Arthur
028 Campbell of Auchinbreck 23 Dec 1628 Sir Dugald (s)
029 Agnew of Lochnaw 24 Feb 1630 Sir Patrick
030 Forbes of Craigievar 20 Apr 1630 Sir William
031 --- arms not portrayed ---
032 Richardson of Pencaitland [Pentland] 13 Nov 1630 Sir Robert (s)
033 Cuninghame of Robertland 25 Nov 1630 Sir David
034 Wardlaw of Pitreavie 05 Mar 1631 Sir Henry
035 Sinclair of Canisbay [Mey] 02 Jun 1631 Sir James (s)
036 --- arms not portrayed ---    
037 Maclean of Morvaren 03 Sep 1631 Sir Lachlan (s)
038 Bingham of Castlebar 07 Jun 1634 Sir Henry
039 Munro of Foulis 07 Jun 1634 Sir Hector (s)
040 Foulis of Colinton 07 Jun 1634 Sir Alexander (s)
041 Pilkington of Stanley [Stainlie] 29 Jun 1635 Sir Arthur (s)
042 Hay of Smithfield 20 July 1635 Sir James (s)
043 Abercrombie of Birkenbog 20 Feb 1636 Sir Alexander
044 Sinclair of Stevenson 18 Jun 1636 Sir James (s)
045 Curzon of Kedleston 18 Jun 1636 Sir John
046 Browne of The Neale 21 Jun 1636 Sir John  
047 Nicolson of Carnock 16 Jan 1637 Sir Thomas (s)
048 Turing of Foveran 1638 Sir ---- * (d)
049 Gordon of Haddo 13 Aug 1642
050 Hamilton of Silverton Hill 1646
051 Primrose of Carrington 01 Aug 1651
052 Carnegie of Pittarrow 20 Feb 1663
053 Seton of Abercorrn 03 Jun 1663
054 Hay of Park 25 Aug 1663
055 Dalrymple of Stair 02 Jun 1664
056 Dunbar of Baldoon 13 Oct 1664
057 Purves of Purves Hall 25 Jul 1665
058 Malcolm of Balbedie & Innertiel 25 Jul 1665
059 Erskine of Alve 30 Apr 1666
060 Stirling of Glorat 30 Apr 1666
061 Scott of Thirlestane 22 Aug 1666
062 Eliott of Stobs 03 Dec 1666
063 Ramsay of Banff 03 Dec 1666
064 Stewart of Greenock 27 Mar 1667
065 Don of Newton 07 Jun 1667
066 Campbell of Aberuchill 1668
067 Douglas of Kelhead 26 Feb 1668
068 Barclay of Pierston 22 Oct 1668
069 Home of Blackadder 25 Jan 1671
070 Cockburn of Cockburn 24 May 1671
071 Cunninghame of Corsehill 26 Feb 1672
072 Jardine of Applegirth 25 May 1672
073 Murray of Ochtertyre 03 Jun 1673
074 Mackenzie of Coul 16 Oct 1673
075 Hamilton of Preston 05 Nov 1673
076 Clerk of Penicuik 24 Mar 1679
077 Maitland of Ravelrig 18 Nov 1680
078 Maxwell of Monreith 08 Jan 1681
079 Maxwell of Pollock 12 Apr 1682
080 Bannerman of Elsick 28 Dec 1682
081 Pringle of Stichell 05 Jan 1683
082 Maxwell of Springkell 07 Feb 1683
083 Sharp of Scotscraig 21 Apr 1683
084 Seton of Pitmedden 11 Dec 1683
085 Grierson of Lag 25 Mar 1685
086 Kirkpatrick of Closeburn 26 Mar 1685
087 Dalyell of The Binns 07 Nov 1685
088 --- arms not portrayed ---
089 Moncreiffe of Moncreiffe 30 Nov 1685
090 Broun of Colstoun 16 Feb 1686
091 Kinloch of Gilmerton 16 Sep 1686
092 Hall of Dunglass 08 Oct 1687
093 Grant of Dalvey 10 Aug 1688
094 Lauder of Fountainhall 25 Jan 1690
095 Dunbar of Mochrum 29 Mar 1694
096 Anstruther of Balcaskie 28 Nov 1694
097 Baird of Saughton Hall 28 Feb 1695
098 Dunbar of Durn 29 Jan 1698
099 Hope of Kirkliston 01 Mar 1698
100 Dalrymple of North Berwick 29 Apr 1698
101 Anstruther of Anstruther 06 Jan 1700
102 Dunbar of Northfield 10 Apr 1700
103 Elliot of Headshaw 19 Apr 1700
104 Johnstone of Westerhall 25 Apr 1700
105 --- arms not portrayed ---  
106 Cunynghame of Milncraig 03 Feb 1702
107 Suttie of Balgone 05 May 1702
108 Gibson of Keirhill 31 Dec 1702
109 Hay of Alderston 22 Feb 1703
110 Mackenzie of Scatwell 22 Feb 1703
111 Mackenzie of Gairloch 22 Feb 1703
112 Fergusson of Kilkerran 30 Nov 1703
113 Sinclair of Dunbeath 12 Oct 1704
114 --- arms not portrayed ---  
115 Gordon of Afton 29 Jul 1706

Baronets of Nova Scotia created prior to 1640 & subsequently

Of the 122 listed below, 113 held baronies in the new province. The nine who did not are marked with an asterisk (*); (s) indicates that seisin was taken thereof; (d) indicates that the title is now dormant or extinct; and (f) forfeited. Also included are the Shields [# 001-115] portraying the Arms of Baronets of Nova Scotia on display in the Commemoration Room at Menstrie Castle. Each baronetcy is listed alphabetically for easy reference. None of the 207 Baronets created after 1639 received land grants in Nova Scotia.

Shields portraying the Arms of 109 Baronets of Nova Scotia
Shields portraying the Arms of 109 Baronets of Nova Scotia

 

No. Baronetcy - prior to 1640 Date granted Patentee Status
043 Abercrombie of Birkenbog 20 Feb 1636 Sir Alexander
019 Acheson of Market Hill [Glencairn] 01 Jan 1628 Sir Archibald
029 Agnew of Lochnaw 24 Feb 1630 Sir Patrick  
Ahannay of Mochrum 1630 Sir Robert (d)
Alexander of Menstrie 1625 Sir William (s) (d)
Arnot of Arnot 1629 Sir Michael (s) (d)
Baillie of Lochend 1636 Sir Gideon (d)
Balfour of Denmylne 1633 Sir James (d)
Barr 1628 Sir Robert (d)
Barret 1628 Sir Edward (s) (d)
038 Bingham of Castle Barr 07 Jun 1634 Sir Henry  
Blackader of Tulliallan 1626 Sir John (s) (d)
Bolles of Osburton 1635 Dame Maria (d)
046 Browne of Neale 21 Jun 1636 Sir John  
026 Bruce of Stenhouse 29 Sep 1628 Sir William (s)
009 Burnett of Leys 21 Apr 1626 Sir Thomas (s)
Cadell of Cadell 1628 Sir ---- (d)
Campbell of Ardnamurchin 1628 Sir Donald (s)
028 Campbell of Auchinbreck 23 Dec 1628 Sir Dugald (s)
002 Campbell of Glenorchy 29 May 1625 Sir Duncan (s)
018 Campbell of Lundie 13 Dec 1627 Sir Colin (s) (d)
Carmichael of Westraw 1627 Sir James (d) (d)
Cockburn of Cockburn & Ryslaw 1628 Sir John *
Cockburn of Langtoun 1627 Sir William (s) (d)
004 Colquhoun of Colquhoun & Luss 30 Aug 1625 Sir John (s)
Cooper of Cogar 1638 Sir John * (d)
Crosbie 1630 Sir Piers (d)
Crosbie of Crosbie 1630 Sir Walter
033 Cuninghame of Robertland 25 Nov 1630 Sir David  
Cunningham of Auchinbervie 1626 Sir David (s) (d)
Cunningham of Cunninghamhead 1627 Sir William (s) (d)
045 Curzon of Kedleston 18 Jun 1636 Sir John  
Douglas of Glenbervie 1625 Sir William (s) (d)
Elphinstone of New Glasgow 1628 Sir William (s)
Erskine of Erskine 1625 Sir --- (d)
Forbes 1628 Sir --- * (d)
Forbes of Castle Forbes 1628 Sir Arthur (s)
030 Forbes of Craigievar 20 Apr 1630 Sir William  
007 Forbes of Pistligo & Monymusk 30 Mar 1626 Sir William (s)
Forrester of Corstorphine 1625 Sir George (s) (d)
Fortescue of Salden 1636 Sir John (d)
040 Foulis of Colinton 07 Jun 1634 Sir Alexander (s)
Gascoign of Barnbow 1635 Sir John (s) (d)
Gibb of Garriber 1634 Sir Henry (d)
Gibson of Durie 1628 Sir Alexander
Gordon of Cluny 1625 Sir Alexander (s) (d)
Gordon of Embo 1631 Sir John (s)
Gordon of Gordonstoun 1625 Sir Robert
Gordon of Lesmore 1625 Sir James (s) (d)
Gordon of Lochinvar 1626 Sir Robert (d)
006 Graeme of Braco [Graham of Bracco] 28 Sep 1625 Sir William (s) (d)
Haliburton of Pitcur 1628 Sir James (s) (d)
Hamilton of Broomhill 1635 Sir James (d)
Hamilton of Killogh 1628 Sir Francis (s) (d)
042 Hay of Smithfield 20 July 1635 Sir James (s)
021 Hope of Craighall 19 Feb 1628 Sir Thomas (s)
Hume of Polwarth 1625 Sir Patrick * (d)
020 Innes of Balvenie 15 Jan 1628 Sir Robert (s)
001 Innes of Innes 28 May 1625 Sir Robert (s)
008 Johnston of Caskieben 31 Mar 1626 Sir George (s)
Johnstone of Elphinstone 1628 Sir Samuel (s) (d)
Keith Earl Marischal 1625 Sir William * (f)
Keith of Ludquhairne 1629 Sir William (d)
Kerr of Greenhead 1637 Sir Andrew (s) (d)
005 Leslie of Wardis [Rothes] 01 Sep 1625 Sir John (s)
Livingston of Dunipace 1625 Sir David (s) (d)
Livingston of Kinnaird 1627 Sir John (s) (d)
Longueville of Wolwerdin 1638 Sir Edward (d)
003 Macdonald of Sleat 14 July 1625 Sir Donald  
017 Makgill of Cranston Riddell 19 July 1627 Sir James (s) (d)
012 Mackay of Far 28 Mar 1627 Sir Donald (s)
Mackenzie of Tarbat 1628 Sir John (s)
037 Maclean of Morvaren 03 Sep 1631 Sir Lachlan (s)
013 Maxwell of Calderwood 28 Mar 1627 Sir John (s)
078 Maxwell of Monreith 08 Jan 1681  
Maxwell of Pollock 1630 Sir John (d)
Meredyth of Henbury 1639 Sir Amos (d)
Moir of Langford 1636 Sir Edward (d)
010 Moncreiff of Moncreiff 22 Apr 1626 Sir John (s)
Montgomerie of Skelmorly 1628 Sir Robert (s) (d)
039 Munro of Foulis 07 Jun 1634 Sir Hector (s)
023 Murray of Black Barony 15 May 1628 Sir Archibald (s)
Murray of Clearmonth 1626 Sir William (s)
Murray of Cockpool 1625 Sir Richard (s) (d)
Murray of Dalrene 1630 Sir William (s) (d)
024 Murray of Elibank 16 May 1628 Sir Patrick (s)
Musgrave of Hayton Castle 1638 Sir Edward (d)
016 Napier of Merchiston 02 May 1627 Sir Archibald  
047 Nicolson of Carnock 16 Jan 1637 Sir Thomas (s)
Nicolson of Cockburnspath 1625 Sir James * (d)
Nicolson of Lasswade 27 Jul 1629 Sir John (s)
Norton of Chestone 1635 Sir Walter (s) (d)
Ogilvie of Banff 1627 Sir James (s) (d)
Ogilvie of Carnousie 1626 Sir George (d)
011 Ogilvy of Inverquharity 29 Sep 1626 Sir John (s)
Oliphant of Newton 1629 Sir James (s) (d)
Piers of Stanypiltis 1638 Sir Thomas (d)
041 Pilkington of Stanley [Stainlie] 29 Jun 1635 Sir Arthur (s)
Preston of Airdrie 1628 Sir John (d)
Preston of Valleyfield 1637 Sir George (s) (d)
Ramsay of Balmaine 1625 Sir Gilbert (s) (d)
Rany of Rotham 1636 Sir John (d)
032 Richardson of Pencaitland [Pentland] 13 Nov 1630 Sir Robert (s)
022 Riddell of Riddell 14 May 1628 Sir John (s)
Sandilands of Sandilands 1628 Sir --- (d)
Sibbald of Rankelour 1630 Sir James (d)
035 Sinclair of Canisbay [Mey] 02 Jun 1631 Sir James (s)
044 Sinclair of Stevenson 18 Jun 1636 Sir James (s)
Skene of Curriehil 1628 Sir James (d)
Slingsby of Scriven 1638 Sir Henry (d)
St-Estienne de la Tour 1629 Sir Claude (d)
St-Estienne de St. Denis Court 1630 Sir Charles (d)
015 Stewart of Corsewall 18 Apr 1627 Sir James  
027 Stewart of Castle Stewart 02 Oct 1628 Sir Arthur
Stewart of Ochiltree 1628 Sir Andrew  
Stewart of Ochiltree 1630 Sir James (cancelled 1632)
Strachan of Thornton 1625 Sir Alexander (s) (d)
014 Stuart of Bute 28 Mar 1627 Sir James *
Thomson of Dudingston 1636 Sir Thomas (d)
048 Turing of Foveran 1638 Sir ---- * (d)
Vernat of Cairton 1634 Sir Philibert (d)
034 Wardlaw of Pitreavie 05 Mar 1631 Sir Henry  
Wemyss of Wemyss 1625 Sir John (s) (d)
Widdrington of Cairntington 1635 Sir Edward (s) (d)

None of the 207 Baronets created after 1639 received land grants in Nova Scotia, including:

 

No. Baronetcy - after 1639 - no land Date granted
101 Anstruther of Anstruther 06 Jan 1700
096 Anstruther of Balcaskie 28 Nov 1694
097 Baird of Saughton Hall 28 Feb 1695
080 Bannerman of Elsick 28 Dec 1682
068 Barclay of Pierston 22 Oct 1668
090 Broun of Colstoun 16 Feb 1686
066 Campbell of Aberuchill 1668
052 Carnegie of Pittarrow 20 Feb 1663
076 Clerk of Penicuik 24 Mar 1679
070 Cockburn of Cockburn 24 May 1671
071 Cunninghame of Corsehill 26 Feb 1672
106 Cunynghame of Milncraig 03 Feb 1702
055 Dalrymple of Stair 02 Jun 1664
100 Dalrymple of North Berwick 29 Apr 1698
087 Dalyell of The Binns 07 Nov 1685
065 Don of Newton 07 Jun 1667
067 Douglas of Kelhead 26 Feb 1668
056 Dunbar of Baldoon 13 Oct 1664
098 Dunbar of Durn 29 Jan 1698
095 Dunbar of Mochrum 29 Mar 1694
102 Dunbar of Northfield 10 Apr 1700
103 Elliot of Headshaw 19 Apr 1700
062 Eliott of Stobs 03 Dec 1666
059 Erskine of Alve 30 Apr 1666
112 Fergusson of Kilkerran 30 Nov 1703
108 Gibson of Keirhill 31 Dec 1702
115 Gordon of Afton 29 Jul 1706
049 Gordon of Haddo 13 Aug 1642
093 Grant of Dalvey 10 Aug 1688
085 Grierson of Lag 25 Mar 1685
092 Hall of Dunglass 08 Oct 1687
075 Hamilton of Preston 05 Nov 1673
050 Hamilton of Silverton Hill 1646
109 Hay of Alderston 22 Feb 1703
054 Hay of Park 25 Aug 1663
069 Home of Blackadder 25 Jan 1671
099 Hope of Kirkliston 01 Mar 1698
072 Jardine of Applegirth 25 May 1672
104 Johnstone of Westerhall 25 Apr 1700
091 Kinloch of Gilmerton 16 Sep 1686
086 Kirkpatrick of Closeburn 26 Mar 1685
094 Lauder of Fountainhall 25 Jan 1690
074 Mackenzie of Coul 16 Oct 1673
110 Mackenzie of Scatwell 22 Feb 1703
111 Mackenzie of Gairloch 22 Feb 1703
077 Maitland of Ravelrig 18 Nov 1680
058 Malcolm of Balbedie & Innertiel 25 Jul 1665
079 Maxwell of Pollock 12 Apr 1682
073 Murray of Ochtertyre 03 Jun 1673
082 Maxwell of Springkell 07 Feb 1683
089 Moncreiffe of Moncreiffe 30 Nov 1685
051 Primrose of Carrington 01 Aug 1651
081 Pringle of Stichell 05 Jan 1683
057 Purves of Purves Hall 25 Jul 1665
063 Ramsay of Banff 03 Dec 1666
061 Scott of Thirlestane 22 Aug 1666
053 Seton of Abercorrn 03 Jun 1663
084 Seton of Pitmedden 11 Dec 1683
083 Sharp of Scotscraig 21 Apr 1683
113 Sinclair of Dunbeath 12 Oct 1704
064 Stewart of Greenock 27 Mar 1667
060 Stirling of Glorat 30 Apr 1666
107 Suttie of Balgone 05 May 1702

The above information is based on available sources. I would welcome any additions or corrections to the above lists from anyone with more knowledge of this subject, which is still not well understood by many people in Canada.


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