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The Scottish Nation
March


MARCH, Earl of, a title which, with that of earl of Dunbar, was long enjoyed by the descendants of Cospatrick, earl of Northumberland, who came into Scotland in the reign of Malcolm Canmore (see DUNBAR). On the forfeiture of George, 11th earl of Dunbar and March, in 1434, it was vested in the crown. In 1478, the earldom of March was conferred by King James III. On his brother, Alexander, duke of Albany, on whose forfeiture it was again annexed to the crown by act of the estates, 1st October, 1487. It continued in the crown till 1582, when, with the lordship of Dunbar, it was conferred on Robert Stuart, granduncle of James VI., on his relinquishing the earldom of Lennox to his nephew, Esme Stuart of Aubigny. On his death, without legitimate issue, in 1586, the title once more reverted to the crown.

Lord William Douglas, second son of the first duke of Queensberry, was created earl of March, 20th April 1697. He succeeded as second duke, and on the death, without issue, of his grandson, William, fourth duke of Queensberry and third earl of March, in December 1810 (see QUEENSBERRY, duke of), the latter title, with the great estates of the Queensberry family in the county of Peebles, devolved on the sixth earl of Wemyss, whose great-grandfather married, for his first wife, Lady Ann Douglas, eldest daughter of the first duke of Queensberry, and sister of the first earl of March (see WEMYSS, earl of).

The word March or Merse, signifying boundary or limit, anciently more particularly applied to the eastern part of the Scottish border, is now confined to Berwickshire. Chalmers, however, thinks it more probable that the frontier province got its name from the Anglo-Saxon merse, a marsh, or from mariscus, a naked plain.


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