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The Scottish Nation
Kirkcudbright


KIRKCUDBRIGHT, baron, a title (dormant since 1832) in the Scottish peerage, conferred in 1633, on sir Robert Maclellan, eldest son of Sir Thomas Maclellan of Bombie, in the stewartry of Kirkcudbright. This family, once very powerful in Galloway, possessed several castles, one of which, now in a ruinous state, built in 1582 by Thomas Maclellan of Bombie, stands in the town of Kirkcudbright. Sir Patrick Maclellan, proprietor of the barony of Bombie, incurred forfeiture in consequence of marauding depredations on the lands of the Douglases, lords of Galloway. His son, Sir William, incited by a proclamation of James II., offering the forfeited barony to any person who should disperse a band of gypsies who infested the country, and capture their leader, dead or alive, received back his patrimony, on carrying to the king the head of their captain on the point of his sword. To commemorate the manner in which he regained the barony, he adopted as his crest an erect right arm, the hand grasping a dagger, on the point of which was a Moor’s head couped, proper; with the motto “think on,” – intimating the steadiness of purpose with which he had mediated his enterprise. About the middle of the 15th century, William, eighth earl of Douglas, besieged and captured Sir Patrick Maclellan, tutor of Bombie and sheriff of Galloway, in his stronghold of Raeberry castle, and carried him off to Thrieve castle, for his refusal to join the confederacy against the king. Sir Patrick’s uncle, sir Patrick Gray, who held a high office near the king’s person, obtained a letter from his majesty, peremptorily ordering Douglas to release his prisoner. Anxious for the safety of his relative, Gray carried the letter himself. The earl professed to receive it with all respect; but desired that Gray should partake of some repast, before entering on a business of so much importance as the perusal of a letter from the king. In the meantime, guessing the purport of the letter, he ordered his prisoner to be put to death before it was opened. He then told his guest that it grieved him sorely to find that it was not in his power to give full effect to the command of his sovereign; and, taking Gray to the place where the beheaded body of Maclellan lay, he sarcastically said, “Yonder, Sir Patrick, lies your sister’s son. Unfortunately he wants the head; but you are welcome to do with the body what you please.” His tragical fate roused the indignation of the country against the Douglases, and soon after the earl was stabbed by the king at Stirling.

      Sir Robert Maclellan above mentioned, the fourth in descent from Sir William who regained his patrimony, was one of the gentlemen of the bedchamber to James VI. and Charles I., and by the latter was created a peer of Scotland, by the title of Lord Kirkcudbright, 25th May 1633, to him and his heirs male, bearing his name and arms. He died in 1641, and having only a daughter, was succeeded by his nephew, Thomas, second son of William Maclellan of Glenshannoch, the first lord’s younger brother. The second Lord Kirkcudbright, a steady royalist, died in May 1647, without issue. His cousin, John, the elder son of the first lord’s youngest brother, John Maclellan of Bourg, succeeded as third lord. This nobleman was very eccentric and hotheaded, and at first was an impetuous royalist. Being proprietor of nearly the whole of the parish of Kirkcudbright, he compelled his vassals to take arms in the cause of the king, occasioned the ruin of the villages of Dunrod and Galtway, by levying nearly all their male population, and incurred such enormous expenses as completely ruined his estates. At the Restoration, however, his zeal for despotic monarchy seems to have cooled, as he opposed the attempt to force prelacy on Scotland, and even sanctioned a riot created by the people of Kirkcudbright, for preventing the settlement of an Episcopalian minister in the church of that town. At the time when some women were sent, as ringleaders in it, to the pillory, he was captured, with some other influential persons, and sent a prisoner to Edinburgh, He died, greatly in debt, in 1664. His son, William, by right fourth Lord Kirkcudbright, died in his nonage without issue, in 1669. The family estates had been seized and sold by his father’s creditors, and there was nothing left to support the dignity. He was succeeded by his cousin, John Maclellan, elder son of William Maclellan of Auchlean, brother of the third lord, but he did not assume the title. He also died in his minority, without issue, and the guardians of his only brother, James, born in 1661, did not allow him to take it either. In 1721, in the keenly contested struggle for the representation of the peerage between the earls of Eglinton and Aberdeen, he came forward and voted as Lord Kirkcudbright, but his vote was protested against. He voted also at the subsequent elections till his death in 1730. As he had only daughters, the title then devolved on William Maclellan of Bourness, the heir-male of the body of Gilbert Maclellan, second son of Sir Thomas Maclellan of Bombie, who died about 1504, and was the great-great-granduncle of the first lord. He voted as Lord Kirkcudbright at elections of representative peers in 1737, and the two following years. At the general election of 1741, a protest against the reception of his vote was entered by James Maclellan, eldest son of the deceased Sir Samuel Maclellan, merchant, and at one time lord provost of Edinburgh. On this occasion they were both present, and both voted as Lord Kirkcudbright. In 1736, James Maclellan had presented a petition to the king, claiming the title. It was remitted to the lord advocate and solicitor-general to inquire into its statements, and they reported that he had not made out his claim. At the election of the 30th April 1742, a protest was, in his turn, taken by William against James, and on this occasion also both were present, James for the last time, and again both voted as Lord Kirkcudbright. One of them was the “Lord Kilcombrie,” whom Goldsmith, in his sneers at the poverty of the Scottish nobility, mentions as keeping a glove-shop in Edinburgh. At all elections of representative peers subsequent to that of 1742, except one, William was present and voted. On 14th December 1761, the House of Lords ordered him “not to presume to take upon himself the title, honour, and dignity of Lord Kirkcudbright, until his claim shall have been allowed in due course of law.” He died soon after. He had three sons. The eldest, the master of Kirkcudbright, predeceased his father in 1741. John, the second son, became seventh lord, and the third son, the Hon. Dunbar Maclellan, captain R.N., was killed 6th July 1782, in the second engagement with the French admiral de Suffrein, while in command of the Superb, the flagship of Sir Edward Hughes, and was highly spoken of in Sir Edward’s despatches, as “an excellent officer in every department of the service.”

      John, seventh Lord Kirkcudbright, the eldest surviving son, an officer in the army, on petition to the king had his claim to the title allowed by the House of Lords, 3d May 1773, and on the 14th of the same month was presented to King George III. as Lord Kirkcudbright. He became lieutenant-colonel of the 3d regiment of foot-guards in 1784, and retired from the army the following year. He died 24th December 1801, in his 73d year. He had two sons: the elder, Sholto Henry, eighth Lord Kirkcudbright, born 15th August 1771, died, without issue, 16th April 1827, when his brother, Camden-Grey, became ninth lord. Born 20th April 1774, the latter married Sarah, daughter of Colonel Thomas Gorges, and had an only daughter. On his death, at Bruges, 19th April 1832, the title became dormant.


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