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The Scottish Nation
Falconer


FALCONER, a surname derived from the ancient office of keeper of the falcons of the king. The first on record of this name was Ranulph, the son of Walter de Lenorp, falconer to King William the Lion, about 1200. From that monarch he had a charter of the lands of Luthra, now called Luther, Balbegno, and others in the Mearns, which he called Hawkerton (afterwards Halkertoun) from his office, having charge of the king’s hawks. The arms, ancient and modern, of the Falconer family, are relative thereto.

      He was succeeded by Walter le Falconer, called sometimes de Lunkyr, or Lumgair. His grandson, who is witness to a charter of the lands of Drumsleid about 1250, had two sons, Robert and Peter, clericus regius under Alexander II.

      Robert, the elder son, first assumed the name of Falconer de Halkertoun, and his name is in the Ragman Roll as being obliged to swear allegiance to Edward the First in 1296.

      His grandson, David Fauconer, had a charter from his godfather, King David the Second, dated at Munros (Montrose) 2d April 1365.

      His son, Andrew Falconer of Lethenbar, was one of the barons who attended Alexander Stewart, earl of Buchan, the king’s lieutenant in the north, 11th October, 1380.

      His son, Alexander Falconer of Lethens, is mentioned as father of David, who succeeded him, and Robert Falconer, who had a charter of the lands of Newton in 1473, and whose grandson, Robert Falconer, had a charter of Balendro, in 1504.

      From this David was descended, in the fourth generation, Sir Alexander Falconer of Halkertoun, who had a charter of the hill of Halkertoun 24th April 1544. By his wife, Elizabeth, only daughter of Sir Archibald Douglas of Glenbervie, he had four sons and a daughter, Archibald, the second son, was ancestor of the Falconers of Phesdo, one of whom, Sir James Falconer of Phesdo, a lord of session at the Revolution, was the son of Sir John Falconer, one of the wardens of the mint, who, upon learning that he was to be pursued for malversation in his office, took it so much to heart that he died suddenly at Phesdo, in November 1682. Sir James was admitted advocate 6th January 1674. He took his seat on the bench, 1st November 1689, as Lord Phesdo, and was admitted a lord of justiciary 27th January 1690. He represented the shire of Kincardine in the parliament of 1703-4, and died at Edinburgh 9th June 1705. The last of this branch of the family, John Falconer of Phesdo, advocate, died 21st November 1764, in the 91st year of his age, leaving his estate to the Hon. Captain George Falconer, fifth son of David, fifth Lord Falconer of Halkertoun.

      Samuel, the third son of the above Sir Alexander Falconer of Halkertoun, was designed of Kincorth, county of Elgin; and William, the fourth son, styled of Dunduff, was father of Colin Falconer, bishop of Argyle, 5th September 1679, and the following year translated to the see of Moray.

      The eldest son, Sir Alexander Falconer of Halkertoun, had three sons. Patrick, the second son, designed of Newton, was ancestor of James Falconer of Monktoun, county of Edinburgh, and James, the third son, had a charter of the lands of Middlehaugh, county of Elgin.

      The eldest son, Sir Alexander Falconer of Halkertoun, by his wife, Agnes, eldest daughter of Sir David Carnegie of Culluthie, had four sons. Sir Alexander, the eldest, a lord of session, was the first Lord Falconer of Halkertoun, of whom afterwards. Sir David, the second son, designed of Glenfarquhar, was one of the commissaries of Edinburgh. His eldest son, Sir Alexander Falconer of Glenfarquhar, was created a baronet, 20th March 1670-1. His son succeeded as fourth Lord Falconer of Halkertoun.

      Sir David’s second son, Sir David Falconer of Newton, was sometime lord president of the court of session. He studied the law under the eye of his father, and having passed advocate 3d July 1661, was afterwards appointed one of the commissaries of Edinburgh, and received the honour of knighthood. On 24th May 1676, he was nominated a lord of session, and on 2d March 1678, was admitted a lord of justiciary. On 5th June 1682, he was appointed president of the court, and in the parliament of 1685 he represented the county of Forfar. He was elected a lord of the articles, and a member of three commissions then appointed; one for trade, another for the plantation of kirks, and a third for the regulation of inferior judicatories. He died at Edinburgh, after four days’ illness, on 15th December 1685, in the forth-sixth year of his age, and was buried in Greyfriars churchyard, where a monument was erected to his memory. The inscription upon it is quoted at length in the Scottish Elegiac Verses from 1629 to 1729, printed at Edinburgh in 1842. President Falconer collected the decisions of the Court of Session from November 1681 till 9th December 1685, being the very last day he sat in court; they were published in 1705 by John Spottiswood, advocate. His eldest son, David, became fifth Lord Falconer, and his third daughter, Catherine, married Joseph Hume of Ninewells in the county of Berwick, and was the mother of David Hume the historian.

      Sir John Falconer, of Balmakellie, third son of the above Sir Alexander Falconer of Halkertoun and his wife Agnes, and younger brother of the first Lord Falconer of Halkertoun, was master of the mint in the reign of Charles the Second. He had a son, Robert, a merchant in London, James, the fourth son, was designed of Coatfield in the county of Elgin.

      Sir Alexander Falconer of Halkertoun, the eldest son, was a lord of session under the title of Lord Halkertoun. He was one of the commissioners for the shire of Kincardine in the Scots parliament of 1643, a commissioner of exchequer. In reward for his great zeal and loyalty in the parliament of 1647, for relieving King Charles, when he was a prisoner in the Isle of Wight, he was raised to the peerage of Scotland, 29th July of that year, by the title of Lord Falconer of Halkertoun, and he was a member of the committee of estates appointed soon after. On 15th February 1649 he was deprived of his seat on the bench, on account of what was then termed “malignancy,” that is, loyalty to the king, but at the Restoration he was reinstated. He died 1st October 1671. By his wife, Anne, only child of John, ninth Lord Lindsay of the Byres, he had, with a daughter, Agnes, married to the second Lord Banff, a son, Alexander, second Lord Falconer of Halkertoun, whose only son, David, third lord, was served heir to his father in 1685, and on 24th March 1719, was found non compos mentis, and had been so for twenty years previous. He died, unmarried, in February 1724, when the title devolved on Sir Alexander Falconer, grandson of Sir David Falconer of Glenfarquhar, as above mentioned.

      Sir Alexander, second baronet and fourth lord, died without issue, 17th March 1727, when the baronetcy is presumed to have become extinct, and the title of Lord Falconer of Halkertoun devolved on David Falconer, eldest son (by his second wife, Mary, daughter of George Norvell of Boghall, in the county of Linlithgow) of Sir David Falconer of Newton, lord president of the court of session, the first of Glenfarquhar.

      David, fifth Lord Falconer of Halkertoun, was served heir to his father, on 23d February 1693, in the barony of Newton, in the counties of Forfar and Kincardine, and succeeded his cousin in the title in 1727. He died at Inglismaldie, Kincardinshire, 24th September 1751, in the 71st year of his age. He married Lady Catherine Margaret Keith, eldest daughter of the second earl of Kintore. This lady was only thirteen years and five months old when she became his wife, and she died at Edinburgh 1st March 1762, in the 72d year of her age, having had five sons and four daughters. The eldest son succeeded to the title. The Hon. David Falconer, the third son, was an insurance broker in London; and the Hon. George Falconer, the youngest, an officer in the navy, died commander of the Invincible, 3d May 1780.

      The eldest son, Alexander, sixth Lord Falconer of Halkertoun, born about 1707, went abroad in early youth, and attached himself to the earl Marischal and field-marshal Keith, with whom he remained till his father’s death in 1751, when he succeeded to the title, on which he returned to Scotland, and died without issue, at Edinburgh, 5th November 1762, aged fifty-five.

      His next brother, William, became the seventh lord. He was a colonel in the Dutch service, and settled at Gronigen in Holland, where he died 12th December 1776. He married a Dutch lady, and by her had three sons. The Hon. William Falconer, the second son, was killed in battle at Quebec.

      The eldest son, the Hon. Anthony-Adrian, eighth lord, on the death of the earl Marischal in 1778 (see MARISCHAL, earl) succeeded to the estate and title of Kintore, and became fifth earl of Kintore (see KINTORE, earl of).

FALCONER, WILLIAM, an ingenious poet, the son of a barber and wig-maker at Edinburgh, was born in that city in 1730. He had a brother and sister who were both deaf and dumb from their birth. He received but a scanty education, and when quite young, was bound apprentice on board a merchant vessel belonging to Leith. He subsequently rose to the situation of second mate in the Britannia. The earliest production of his muse, published at Edinburgh in 1751, was entitled ‘A Poem, Sacred to the Memory of Frederick, Prince of Wales,’ He also wrote several minor pieces, none of which displayed much merit.

      In 1762 appeared his principal poem, ‘The Shipwreck,’ in three cantos, dedicated to Edward, duke of York, brother of George the Third. The main subject of this admirable composition is the loss of the ship Britannia bound from Alexandria to Venice, which touched at the island of Candia, whence, proceeding on her voyage, she encountered a violent storm that drove her on the coast of Greece, off Cape Colonna, where she was shipwrecked, three only of the crew being left alive, of whom Falconer himself was one. By the patronage of the duke of York, he was appointed, in 1763, a midshipman on board the Royal George; for which he gratefully addressed to his royal highness ‘An Ode on his second departure from England as Rear-admiral.’ His ship being paid off at the close of the war, Falconer next became purser of the Glory frigate. Soon after, he married a Miss Hicks, daughter of the surgeon of Sheerness Yard. His next poetical effort was a satire, called ‘The Demagogue,’ in which he zealously defended the Bute administration, and attacked with great acrimony the public character and conduct of Mr. Pitt, afterwards earl of Chatham, Wilkes, Churchill, and others. In 1764 he published a second edition of ‘The Shipwreck,’ enlarged to the extent of one thousand lines more than the first edition. In 1769, at which time he was living in London, he brought out his ‘Universal Dictionary of Marine, or a copious explanation of the technical terms and phrases employed in the construction, equipment, furniture, machinery, movements, and military operations of a Ship; illustrated with plated; as also a translation of the French sea-terms and phrases,’ a work of the greatest practical utility, which soon became in general use in the navy, and was frequently reprinted. Soon after he published a third edition of his ‘Shipwreck,’ with considerable improvements.

      Having been appointed purser to the Aurora frigate, which was ordered to carry out to India several officers of the East India Company, that vessel sailed from England, September 30, 1769, and was never heard of after touching at the Cape of Good Hope, in the succeeding December. It was generally conjectured that she had either taken fire, or had foundered at sea, and that all on board had perished.

      As a poet Falconer’s fame rests entirely on ‘The Shipwreck,’ which is a didactic as well as descriptive poem; and may be recommended to a young sailor, not only to excite his enthusiasm, but to improve his seamanship.


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