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The Scottish Nation
Dunfermline


DUNFERMLINE, Earl of, a title in the Scottish peerage, now extinct, conferred in 1606, on Alexander Seton, one of the most eminent lawyers of his time, third son of George, sixth Lord Seton, and brother of Robert, first earl of Winton, (see WINTON, Earl of] by Isobel, daughter of Sir William Hamilton of Sanquhar. He was born about 1555. Originally intended for the church, he went to Rome in his youth, and was admitted a student in the college of Jesuits. In his sixteenth year he delivered, with great applause, in the Pope’s chapel in the Vatican, in presence of Gregory the Thirteenth and the assembled cardinals and prelates, an oration of his own composition, ‘De Ascensione Domini.’ According to Spotswood, he took holy orders and Scot of Scotstarvet, in his ‘Staggering State of Scots Statesmen.’ says, that his chalice wherewith he said mass, at his return to Scotland was sold in Edinburgh. While at Rome he obtained from Queen Mary the priory of Pluscardine, of which his father had been economus and commissioner, since 17th April 1561. The establishment of the reformed religion in Scotland induced him to abandon his design of continuing in the church, and betake himself to the study of the civil law, and for that purpose he went to France, where he remained for several years. On his return to Scotland he continued his legal studies, and at length passed advocate. With King James the Sixth he was in high favour, and on 27th January 1583, he was appointed one of the extraordinary lords of session, when he took his seat on the bench by the title of prior of Pluscardine. On 16th February 1587, he was appointed an ordinary lord, when he assumed the title of Lord Urquhart. He was elected president of the court, 27th May 1593, and the same year was, by James’s queen, Anne of Denmark, on whom the temporal lordship had been conferred, appointed heritable bailie of Dunfermline. On the 9th January 1596, he was nominated one of the eight commissioners of the treasury, called from their number Octavians, but with his colleagues, he resigned that unpopular office on the 7th January following. In consequence of his partiality to his Roman Catholic kinsman, the earl of Huntly, he was cited to appear before the Synod of Lothian. The Synod remitted him to the commissioners of the church, to whom he cleared himself of the accusation. He was one of the principal objects of popular fury in the well-known riot of Edinburgh of December 17, 1596, and one of the conditions of pacification proposed by the insurgents to James the Sixth, was that he and two others named should “not be admitted to sit in council, at least when the cause of religion and matters of the church are treated, seeing they are enemies to the quietness thereof, and have, by their devices, raised the troubles that presently do vex the same.” It was even proposed to excommunicate him. Notwithstanding this, however, the citizens of Edinburgh elected him their provost for nine successive years. On 4th March 1597-8, he obtained a letter under the great seal, erecting the barony of Fyvie into a free lordship, with the title of a lord of parliament, and shortly after he was intrusted with the education of the king’s second son, Prince Charles, afterwards Charles the First. On the 8th February 1604 he was appointed vice-chancellor, and in the following July one of the commissioners nominated by parliament to treat of a union then projected between the kingdoms. The same year he was appointed high chancellor of Scotland, and, on 4th March 1606, was created earl of Dunfermline. He was admitted a member of the English privy council in 1609, and was commissioner to the parliament holden at Edinburgh 24th October 1612, in which the obnoxious acts of the General Assembly of Glasgow in June 1610, were ratified, and the act of parliament of 1592, establishing presbyterianism, was rescinded. He died at his seat of Pinkie, near Musselburgh, which had been built by himself, 16th June 1622, in the 67th year of his age. after an illness of fourteen days. Spotswood says of him that “he exerted his place with great moderation, and to the contentment of all honest men; he was ever inclining to the Roman faith, as being educated at Rome in his younger years, but very observant of good order, and one that hated lying and dissimulation, and above all things studied to maintain peace and quietness.” [Spotswood’s History, p. 543.] Calderwood states “that howsoever he was popishly disposed in his religion, yet he condemned many abuses and corruptions in the Kirke of Rome. He was a good justicier, courteous and humane both to strangers and to his own country people; but noe good friend to the bishops.” [Calderwood’s History, v. vii. p. 548.] He is said to have been a good scholar. Some fragments of his poetry are still extant, particularly an epigram prefixed to Lesley’s History of Scotland, and another addressed to Sir John Skene, on his publication of the Regiam Majestatem. He is also the subject of one of Arthur Johnston’s panegyrics. He was thrice married, first to Lilias, second daughter of Patrick, third Lord Drummond, by whom he had six daughters; secondly, to Grizel Leslie, fourth daughter of James, Master of Rothes, and by her he had a son, Lord Fyvie, who died young, and a daughter; and, thirdly, to Margaret Hay, sister of John, first earl of Tweeddale (who had married Lady Jean Seton, a daughter of the chancellor) by whom he had, with two daughters, a son, Charles, second earl of Dunfermline.

      The second earl, a zealous adherent of the Covenant, was sent in June 1639, from the Scots camp at Dunse law with the petition to Charles the First, then with his army at the Bricks, about three miles from Berwick-on-Tweed, which produced the short pacification of Dunse. In the following November, after the sudden prorogation of the Scots parliament by the earl of Traquair, the king’s commissioner, the earls of Dunfermline and Loudoun were despatched by the estates to London, to vindicate the proceedings of the assembly and the parliament, but they were denied access to the presence of the king, and refused a hearing, on the pretext that they had not obtained the permission of the lord high commissioner. He was also one of the commissioners sent by parliament to London early in 1640. He returned in May, and commanded a regiment in the Scots army which, under General Leslie, crossed the Tweed to England on the 21st August of that year, and was governor of Durham during the time it was occupied by them. In the following October he was one of the eight Scots commissioners for the treaty of Rippon, and a member of the sub-committee which afterwards concluded a peace at London. While there, he obtained from Charles, on 21st June 1641, a lease of the valuable abbacy of Dunfermline for three times nineteen years. On the 30th July he was again sent to London with the final instructions of parliament to their commissioners. In November of the same year he was sworn a privy councillor, and in 1642 he was appointed by the king high commissioner to the General Assembly of the church of Scotland, which met at St. Andrews in July of that year. He took an active part in the subsequent transactions of that important period. IN January 1646 he was chosen one of the committee of the estates during the interval between the sessions of parliament, and after the surrender of the king to the Scots army he was at Newcastle with his majesty the same year, and offered, along with the chancellor and the marquis of Argyle, to go to London to treat with the parliament of England for a mitigation of the articles proposed by them. As he supported the “Engagement” in 1648, for the attempted rescue of the king, he was in consequence deprived by the act of Classes. After the execution of the king, his lordship went to the continent in April 1649, to wait on King Charles the Second, with whom he returned to Scotland in 1650. He was admitted a member of the committee of estates, and of the committee for managing the affairs of the army, and also commanded a regiment of horse in the army levied to invade England under Charles the Second. At the Restoration he was sworn a privy councillor. ON 2d November 1669, he was appointed an extraordinary lord of session, and chosen one of the lords of the articles in the parliament which met that year. In 1671 he was appointed lord privy seal. He died before 14th January 1673. He married Lady Mary Douglas, third daughter of the earl of Morton, and had, with one daughter, three sons; Alexander, third earl, who died soon after succeeding to the title; the Hon. Charles Seton, killed in a sea-fight with the Dutch in 1672; and James, fourth and last earl of Dunfermline.

      The fourth earl, in his youth, served under the prince of Orange in several memorable expeditions. On his accession to the title he returned to Scotland, and in 1689 he was outlawed and forfeited by parliament. Following King James the Seventh to St. Germains, he had the order of the Thistle conferred upon him, and died in exile in 1694. He married Lady Jean Gordon, sister of the first duke of Gordon, but had no issue, on which the title became extinct and the earl being at the time of his death under forfeiture, the whole estates reverted to the crown. The office of heritable bailie of the regality of Dunfermline had been in 1665 assigned to John earl of Tweeddale, for a debt due to him by the earl of Dunfermline.

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DUNFERMLINE, Lord, a title in the peerage of the United Kingdom, conferred in 1839 on the Right Hon. James Abercromby, third son of the celebrated Sir Ralph Abercromby, by the daughter of John Menzies, Esq. of Fernton, Perthshire, created Baroness Abercromby. Born in 1776, he was called to the English bar in 1800. In 1827 he was appointed judge-advocate-general, and sworn a member of the privy council, and in 1830 chief baron of the exchequer in Scotland. Master of the mint, 1834, and Speaker of the House of Commons from 1835 to 1839, for which he had a pension of 4,000 a-year; M.P. for Caine from 1812 till 1830, and for Edinburgh from 1832 till 1839, when he was raised to the peerage; elected in 1841 dean of faculty in the university of Glasgow. He was for several years auditor to the duke of Devonshire’s estates. Married in 1802 the daughter of Egerton Leigh, Esq. of West Hall, Cheshire, and died in 1858. His son, Sir Ralph Abercromby, K.C.B., born in 1803, minister plenipotentiary and envoy extraordinary to Sardinia from 1840 to 1851, when he was transferred in the same capacity to the Hague, succeeded as second Lord Dunfermline; married eldest daughter of second earl of Minto; issue, a daughter.


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