Check all the Clans that have DNA Projects. If your Clan is not in the list there's a way for it to be listed. Electric Scotland's Classified Directory An amazing collection of unique holiday cottages, castles and apartments, all over Scotland in truly amazing locations.

Click here to get a Printer Friendly Page

The Scottish Nation
Marischal


MARISCHAL, Earl, a title (attainted in 1716) in the Scottish peerage, conferred by James II., before 4th July 1458, on Sir William Keith, great marischal of Scotland. The first earl died before 1476. His son, William, second earl, joined the confederacy against King James III., in 1488, and sat in the first parliament of King James IV., the same year. He had four sons. From John, the youngest son, descended the Keiths of Craig, to which family belonged Sir Robert Murray Keith, K.B., British ambassador to Vienna, St. Petersburgh, and Copenhagen; his brother, Sir Basil Keith, governor of Jamaica; and their sister, Mrs. Murray Keith, the well-known Mrs. Bethune Baliol of Sir Walter Scott.

William, the eldest son, succeeded as third earl Marischal. In 1515, when the castle of Stirling was surrendered by the queen-mother to the regent Albany, the young king, James V., and his infant brother, the duke of Ross, were committed to the keeping of the earl Marischal, with the lords Fleming and Borthwick, whose fidelity to the crown was unsuspected; and in 1517, when Albany went to France, the young king was conveyed to the castle of Edinburgh, and intrusted to the charge of Lord Marischal and Lord Erskine. The earl died about 1530. With four daughters he had four sons. Robert, Lord Keith, and his brother, William, the two eldest sons, fell at the battle of Flodden, 13th September 1513. The pennon of the earl Marischal borne in that fatal battle, having on it three stags’ heads, and the motto, “Veritas Vincit,” is preserved in the Advocates’ Library, Edinburgh. Lord Keith had, with three daughters, two sons; William, fourth earl Marischal, and Robert, commendator of Deer, whose son, Andrew Keith, was created Lord Dingwall, in 1587, but died without issue. From the earl’s youngest son, Alexander Keith, descended Bishop Hubert Keith, author of the Catalogue of Scottish Bishops.

William, fourth earl, the elder of the two sons of Lord Keith, succeeded his grandfather in 1530. He accompanied King James V., on his matrimonial expedition to France in 1536, and was appointed an extraordinary lord of session 2d July 1541. At the meeting of the Estates, 12th March 1543, he was selected, with the earl of Montrose, and the lords Erskine, Ruthven, Lindsay, Livingston, and Seton, to be keepers of the young Queen Mary’s person, and nominated one of the secret council to the regent Arran. Sir Ralph Sadler, the English ambassador in Scotland, describes him at this time, in a letter to his sovereign, as “a goodly young gentleman,” and as well inclined to the project of the marriage of Queen Mary with Prince Edward. He also mentions him as one “who hath ever borne a singular good affection” to Henry. In the list of the English king’s pensioners in Scotland, we find the earl Marischal, John Charteris and the Lord Gray’s friends in the North, set down at 300 marks. On the 18th December of the same year (1543), his place in the council, with that of the earls of Angus, Lennox, and Glencairn, was filled up, on the ground that they were absent and would not attend. He was one of the principal nobles who signed the agreement in the following June, to support the authority of the queen-mother as regent of Scotland, against the earl of Arran, declared by that instrument to be deprived of his office. (Tytler’s Hist. of Scotland, vol. v. p. 369, Note.)

The earl seems early to have been well inclined towards the doctrines of the Reformation, and he was doubtless induced, with the other nobles favourable to the proposed matrimonial alliance with England, to give it his support, in the belief that it would tend to the introduction into Scotland of a purer faith and a more simple form of worship, than the Roman Catholic. In 1544, when George Wishart, the martyr, preached in Dundee, and denounced from the pulpit the judgments of heaven against that town for having been interdicted by the civic authorities from preaching there any more, lord Marischal and several other noblemen were present, and endeavoured to induce him to remain, or go with them, but he preferred proceeding to Edinburgh. Tytler mentions the earl Marischal as one of the persons associated with the earl of Cassillis in his conspiracy to assassinate Cardinal Bethune, by the hands of one Forster, an Englishman, commissioned thereto by Henry VIII. The plot, he says, he discovered during his researches in the secret correspondence of the State Paper office, and was previously unknown to any Scottish or English historian. (Hist. of Scotland, vol. v. p. 387). His lordship fought at Pinkie in 1547, when several of his followers were slain. In September 1559 he accompanied the queen dowager to France.

In May 1556, when Knox was summoned to appear before the bishops in the church of the Blackfriars at Edinburgh, “the earl of Glencairn,” says Calderwood, “allured the earl Marischal, with his counselor, Harie Drummond, to hear his exhortation in the night;” when they were so well pleased with what they heard that they induced the Reformer to write a letter to the queen regent, in the hope that she might be persuaded to listen to his preaching. He accordingly sent by Glencairn a long epistle to her majesty, which is printed in Calderwood’s History, (vol. 1, pages 308-316) and is the same which called from her the sneering remark, on delivering it to Bethune, bishop of Glasgow, “Please you, my lord, to read a pasquil!” Lord Marischal was one of the noblemen in the suite of the queen regent when she made her entry into Perth, 29th May 1559; and with the earls of Argyle and Glencairn, and the lord James Stuart, afterwards the regent Moray, he was called to the deathbed of that princess in June 1560, when she expressed her sorrow for the calamities under which Scotland was at that time suffering, and earnestly exhorted them to send both the French and English armies out of the country, and to continue their allegiance to their lawful sovereign.

When the Confession of Faith was ratified by the three estates of the kingdom at Edinburgh, 17th July 1560, the earl Marischal made the following remarkable speech: “It is long since I had some favour into the truth, and was somewhat jealous of the Roman religion; but, praised be God, I am this day fully resolved; for seeing my lords the bishops who by their learning can, and for the zeal they owe to the truth, would, as I suppose, gainsay anything repugnant to the same, yet speak nothing against the doctrine proponed, I cannot but hold it the very truth of God, and the contrary of it false and deceivable doctrine. Therefore, so far as in me lyeth, I approve the one, and condemn the other, and do farther ask of God, that not only I, but also my posterity, may enjoy the comfort of the doctrine that this day our ears have heard. Farther, I protest if any persons ecclesiastical shall hereafter oppose themselves to this our confession, that they have no place nor credit, considering that time of advisement being granted to them, and they having full knowledge of this our confession, none is now found in lawful, free, and quiet parliament to oppose themselves to that which we profess. And, therefore, if any of this generation pretend to do after this, I protest he be reputeth rather one that loveth his own commodity and the glory of the world, than the glory of God, and salvation of men’s souls.” (Calderwood’s Hist., vol. ii. p. 37). He was one of the twenty-four lords selected by the estates, from among whom the crown was to choose eight and the estates six, for the government of the country. He also subscribed the Book of Discipline.

On the return of Queen Mary from France in August, 1561, he was sworn one of the lords of her privy council. He took an active part in all questions respecting religion, and in the General Assembly which met at Edinburgh in December 1563, he was one of the committee appointed to revise the Book of Discipline. He did not, however, interfere much in political matters, and when the nation came to be divided against itself, on the death of Darnley and the imprisonment of the queen, he retired to his castle of Dunnottar, on the seacoast of Kincardineshire, whence he so seldom stirred that he acquired the name of William of the Tower. So extensive was his landed property at that time that his yearly rental amounted to 270,000 marks. It was situated in so many different counties that it is said he could travel from Berwick to the northern extremity of Scotland, eating his meals and sleeping every night on his own estates. (Douglas’ Peerage, vol. ii. p. 192.) He died 7th October 1581. By his countess, Margaret, daughter and co-heiress of Sir William Keith of Inverugie, Banffshire, he had, with seven daughters, two sons, William, Lord Keith, and Robert, Lord Altrie.

William, Lord Keith, the elder son, was taken prisoner, in an inroad into England in 1558, and placed in the custody of the earl of Northumberland, but allowed to go home in December 1559 on bond. The exorbitant sum of £2,000 was demanded for his ransom. He died 10th August 1580, leaving four sons and four daughters.

His eldest son, George, fifth earl Marischal, the founder of Marischal College, Aberdeen, succeeded his grandfather in October 1581. His eldest son, William, succeeded as sixth earl on his death, April 2, 1623. The latter was a member of the Scottish privy council, under Charles I., and in 1634, he fitted out a fleet which he sent to Vladislaus VII., king of Poland. He died 28th October 1635, leaving four sons and three daughters. The two eldest sons, William and George, succeeded as seventh and eighth earls. John, the fourth son, was the first earl of Kintore (See KINTORE, earl of).

William, seventh earl, was a staunch Covenanter. When the earl of Montrose, in March 1639, went to Aberdeen to force the covenant on the inhabitants of that city, the earl Marischal, according to Spalding, had one of the five colours carried by his well appointed army on that occasion. Sometime after its departure to the south, the Covenanters of the north appointed a committee meeting to be held at Turriff, a small town in Aberdeenshire, on the 24th April, consisting of the earls Marischal and Seaforth, the Lord Fraser, the Master of Forbes, and some others. The meeting was afterwards postponed till the 26th of April, and subsequently adjourned to Aberdeen, to be held on the 20th of May. A body of about 2,000 Covenanters having assembled at Turriff as early as the 13th, the Gordons resolved to attack them before they should be joined by more, and having surprised them on the morning of the 14th, they were soon dispersed, and a few taken prisoners. The loss on either side in killed and wounded was very trifling. This skirmish is called by the writers of the period, “the Trot of Turray,” and is distinguished as the place where blood was first shed in the civil wars.

Marching to Aberdeen, the Gordons expelled the Covenanters from the town, and being joined there by a larger force, they sent John Leith of Harthill and William Lumsden, advocate in Aberdeen, to Dunnottar, for the purpose of ascertaining the sentiments of the earl Marischal, in relation to their proceedings, and whether they might reckon on his friendship. The earl intimated that he would require eight days to advise with his friends. This answer was considered quite unsatisfactory, and the chiefs of the army were at a loss how to act. Robert Gordon of Straloch and James Burnet of Craigmile, a brother of the laird of Leys, proposed to enter into a negotiation with the earl, but Sir George Ogilvy of Banff would not listen to such a proceeding, and, addressing Straloch, he said, “Go, of you will go; but prythee, let it be as quarter-master, to inform the earl that we are coming.” After having had an interview with the earl, Straloch and Burnet returned with the answer that his lordship had no intention to take up arms, without an order from the Tables, as the boards of representatives, chosen respectively by the nobility, country gentry, clergy, and inhabitants of the burghs, were called, that if the Gordons would disperse he would give them early notice to re-assemble, if necessary, for their own defence, but that if they should attack him, he would certainly defend himself..

On receiving this answer the Gordons disbanded their army on the 21st May. The depredations of the Highlanders upon the properties of the Covenanters were thereafter carried on to such an extent that the latter complained to the earl, who immediately assembled a body of men out of Angus and the Mearns, with which he entered Aberdeen on the 23d May. Two days afterwards he was joined by Montrose, at the head of 4,000 men, an addition which, with other accessions, made the whole force assembled at Aberdeen exceed 6,000. This army was soon after marched into the Mearns by Montrose.

On the approach to Stonehaven from Aberdeen of a royalist force under the viscount of Aboyne, on the 14th June, the earl Marischal posted himself with 1,200 men and some pieces of ordnance from Dunnottar castle, on the direct read which Aboyne had to pass. As the latter described the Meagre hill, on the morning of the 15th, the earl opened a heavy fire upon him, which threw his men into complete disorder, and in a short time his whole army gave way. This affair was called “the Raid of Stonehaven.”

The earl Marischal and Montrose now advanced towards the Dee with all their strength, and as Aboyne was anxious to prevent their passage of that river, a bottle took place at the Bridge of Dee, in which the royalists were defeated and their army obliged to fly. The next day, the 20th June, 1630, the tidings arrived of the pacification of Berwick, concluded two days before, when both parties disbanded their forces.

The earl was one of the association which Montrose had formed at Cumbernauld in January 1641, for supporting the royal authority. In September 1644, however, he joined the army of the earl of Argyle, on its route to the north, to oppose the royalist forces under Montrose, after the battle of Aberdeen. In the following October he was one of the committee of the Estates sitting in that city, when Montrose entered Angus, and on hearing of his approach, they issued, on the 10th of that month, a printed order, to which the earl Marischal’s name was attached, ordaining all persons, of whatever age, sex, or condition, having horses of the value of forth pounds Scots or upwards, to send them to the Bridge of Dee, the appointed place of rendezvous, on the 14th October, with riders fully equipped and armed; with certification, in case of failure, that each landed proprietor should be fined £1,000; every gentleman not a landed proprietor, £500 Scots; and each husbandman 100 merks, besides confiscation of their horses. With the exception, however, of Lord Gordon, eldest son of the marquis of Huntly, who brought three troops of horse, and Captain Alexander Keith, brother of the earl Marischal, who appeared with one troop at the appointed place, no attention was paid to the order of the committee by the people, who had no desire to expose themselves again to the vengeance of Montrose and his troops. In the battle of Fyvie which followed, the only person of note who was killed was the above-named Captain Keith.

The earl was not to find a bitter opponent in his former associate and friend, the marquis of Montrose. The latter took up his quarters at Stonehaven on 19th March 1645, and the following day he wrote a letter to Lord Marischal, who with sixteen ministers and some persons of distinction, had shut himself up in his castle of Dunnottar. The bearer of the letter, however, without being suffered to enter within the gate, was sent away without an answer. It is said that he was advised to this line of conduct by his countess and the ministers who had taken refuge in Dunnottar. Highly incensed at the earl’s silence, Montrose desired Lord Gordon to wrote to George Keith, the earl’s brother, who had an interview with Montrose at Stonehaven, when the latter informed him that all he wanted from the earl was that he should serve the king his master against his rebellious subjects, and that if he failed to do so, he would find his vengeance. But the earl declined to comply, as he says “he would not be against the country.” (Spalding, vol. ii. p. 306.)

In consequence of this refusal, Montrose at once subjected his property to military execution. On the 21st of March, he set fire to the houses adjoining the castle of Dunnottar, and burnt the grain stacked in the barn-yards. He next set fire to the town of Stonehaven. The lands and houses of Cowie shared the same fate. The woods of Fetteresso were also burnt, and the whole of the lands in the vicinity ravaged. A ship in the harbour of Stonehaven, after being plundered, was also set fire to, with all the fishing boats. The vassals and dependents of the earl crowded before the castle of Dunnottar, and with loud cries of pity, implored him to save them from ruin. No attention was paid to their supplications, and the earl witnessed from his stronghold the total destruction of the properties of his tenants without making any effort to prevent it. He is said, however, deeply to have regretted his rejection of Montrose’s proposals, when he beheld the smoke ascending all around him; “but the famous Andrew Cant, who was among the number of his ghostly company, edified his resolution at once to its original pitch of firmness, by assuring him that that reek would be a sweet smelling incense in the nostrils of the Lord, rising, as it did, from property which had been sacrificed to the holy cause of the covenant.”

In 1648, the earl raised a troop of horse for the “Engagement,” formed by the duke of Hamilton for the release of the king from his captivity, and was present at the rout of Preston, but escaped. In 1650, he entertained King Charles II., in the castle of Dunnottar, and on 6th June 1651, his castle of Dunnottar was selected by the Scots Estates and privy council, as the fittest place for the preservation of the regalia of Scotland (See KINTORE, earl of.) He was one of the committee of the Estates arrested by a detachment of English horse from Dundee, on 28th August 1651, when sitting at Alyth in Angus. Carried prisoner to the Tower of London, he remained there till the Restoration, having been excepted from Cromwell’s out of grace and pardon, 12th April, 1654. He was sworn one of the privy councilors of Charles II., and appointed keeper of the privy seal of Scotland. He died in 1661.

His brother, George, succeeded as eighth earl. In his younger years this nobleman served in the French army, and rose to the rank of colonel. At the commencement of the civil wars in Scotland, he returned home, and at the battle of Preston in 1648, he commanded a regiment of foot under the duke of Hamilton. At the battle of Worcester in 1651, he had the charge of three regiments appointed to guard a particular post, when, being overpowered by numbers, he was made prisoner. At the Revolution he seems to have taken no part on either side. In a letter from Viscount Dundee to the earl of Melfort, dated June 27, 1689, giving an account of the position and views of several of the Scots nobility and gentry in regard to the struggle for the throne, Dundee says of him. “Earl Marshall is at Edinburgh, but does not meddle.” The earl died in 1694.

His only son, William, ninth earl, took the oaths and his seat in the Estates, 19th July 1698, and always opposed the measures of King William’s reign. In the parliament of 6th May 1763, he protested against the calling of any of the earls before himself. He voted against the Union on every occasion when any question regarding it was before the house, and when the treaty was agreed to, he entered a solemn protest against it. As heritable keeper of the regalia of Scotland, he ordered the same to be delivered up to the earl of Glasgow, treasurer-depute to be lodged in the castle of Edinburgh, protesting, at the same time, that this should not invalidate his right as keeper thereof, and that if it should be found necessary, at any future time, to transport the regalia to any other place within the kingdom, this should not be done till intimation he made to him or his successors. The principal instrument, attested by seven notaries public, in the hands of Alexander Keith of Dunnottar, is printed in the second volume of Nisbet’s System of Heraldry. At the general election, 10th November 1710, the earl was chosen one of the sixteen Scots representative peers. He died 27th May 1712. By his countess, Lady Mary Drummond, eldest daughter of the fourth earl of Perth, high chancellor of Scotland at the Revolution, he had two sons and two daughters. George, the elder son, succeeded as tenth earl Marischal. James Francis Edward, the younger son, was the celebrated Marshal Keith. Lady Mary Keith, the elder daughter, married the sixth earl of Wigton, and was the mother of Lady Clementina Fleming, wife of the tenth Lord Elphinstone, one of whose sons, Admiral Sir George Keith Elphinstone, K.B., was created Viscount Keith. Lady Anne, the younger daughter, became countess of Galloway.

George, tenth earl, was born about 1693. Of the once vast property of his family all that he inherited were the estates of Dunnottar, Fetteresso, and Innerugie, the remainder having been dilapidated in the time of Cromwell, or given as provision to the younger branches. From Queen Anne, his lordship received the command of a troop of horse, and on the death of lieutenant-general the earl of Crawford he was appointed, 3d February 1714, captain of the Scottish troop of horse grenadier guards. He signed the proclamation of George I., August 1, the same year; but not being acceptable to the duke of Argyle, he was deprived of his command, at the same time that his cousin the earl of Mar was dismissed from his office of secretary of state. Lord Marischal, on his way back to Scotland, met his brother James, the future Marshal Keith, at York, hastening to London, to apply for promotion in the army. They returned home together, and instigated by their mother, who was a Jacobite and a Roman Catholic, they at once engaged in the rebellion of 1715.

The earl was one of the disaffected nobles who attended the pretended hunting match, summoned by the earl of Mar at Aboyne in Aberdeenshire, when he unfolded his plans in favour of the Chevalier to those assembled, and he afterwards proclaimed “King James VIII.” At Aberdeen. At the battle of Sheriffmuir he had the command of two squadrons of horse. On his arrival in Scotland 22d December, the Chevalier passed the next night at Newburgh, a seat of the earl Marischal, and at Fetteresso, the principal seat of the earl, he remained several days, suffering from ague. Here he held a reception, when the earl of Mar, the earl of Marischal, and about thirty other noblemen and gentlemen, were introduced to him, and had the honour of kissing his hand. When the Chevalier made his public entry into Dundee, on 6th January 1716, the earl of Mar rode on his right hand and the earl Marischal on his left. After the failure of the enterprise, the earl escaped to the continent, but his titles, with the hereditary office of Marischal of Scotland, which had been in the family since the days of Malcolm Canmore, were attainted, and his estates forfeited to the crown.

In 1719, the earl returned to Scotland, with the Spanish troops sent by Cardinal Alberoni, prime minister of the king of Spain, to make another attempt in the Pretender’s favour. This small force landed in the western Highlands, and was joined by some Highlanders, chiefly Seaforth’s men. A difference arose between the earl Marischal and the marquis of Tullibardine about the command, but this dispute was put an end to by the advance of General Wightman from Inverness, with a body of regular troops. The Highlanders and their allies had taken possession of the pass at Glenshiel; but, on the approach of the government troops, they retired to the pass at Strachell, which they resolved to defend. General Wightman attacked and drove them from one eminence to another, when, seeing no chance of making a successful resistance, the Highlanders dispersed during the night, and the Spaniards on the following day surrendered themselves prisoners of war. Marischal, Seaforth, and Tullibardine, with the other officers, retired to the western isles, and thereafter escaped to the continent.

On the rupture between Great Britain and Spain in 1740, the Chevalier dispatched Lord Marischal to Madrid to induce the Spanish court to adopt measures for his restoration. Alluding to his expectations of assistance from France, the Chevalier, in a letter written to Lord Marischal on 11th January 1740, while his lordship was on his way to the Spanish capital, says, “I am betwixt hopes and fears, tho’ I think there is more room for the first than the last, as you will have perceived by what Lord Sempil (so an active agent of James was called) had, I suppose, writ to you. I conclude I shall some time next month see clearer into these great affairs.” The original is among the Stuart papers in her Majesty’s possession. In 1743, the earl was at Boulogne, and in the following year, when the French government were mediating an invasion of Great Britain in support of the Pretender, a small force in connection with it was to be landed in Scotland under his lordship’s command. In a letter, however, to the Chevalier from Lord Marischal, dated Avignon, 5th September 1744, his lordship insinuates that there existed a design, on the part of the French ministry, or of the Chevalier’s agents at Paris, to exclude both the duke of Ormond and himself from any share in the expedition.

The earl took no part in the attempt of Prince Charles in 1745. Having gone to reside in Prussia, he gained the confidence of Frederick the Great, who, in 1750, appointed him his ambassador extraordinary to France. He also invested him with the Prussian order of the Black Eagle, and bestowed on him the government of Naufchatel. In 1759, the earl was ambassador from Prussia to Spain, and discovering, while at the court of Madrid, the secret of the “Family Compact,” by which the different branches of the house of Bourbon had bound themselves to assist each other, he communicated that important intelligence to Mr. Pitt, then prime minister of England, afterwards the first earl of Chatham. The latter having represented his case to George II., a pardon was granted to him 29th May 1759. The earl thereupon quitted Madrid, but had not been gone 36 hours before intelligence was received of the communication he had made to England.

Arriving in London he was introduced to George II., 15th June 1769, and most graciously received. An act of parliament passed the same year, to enable him to inherit any estate that might descend to him, notwithstanding his attainder, and he was thus enabled to possess the entailed estates of the earl of Kintore, on his death in 1761 (see KINTORE, earl of). He took the oaths to the government in the court of king’s bench 26th January, 1761. His own estates had been sold in 1720 to the York Building Company for £11,172, and his castle of Dunnottar dismantled, but in 1761 an act of parliament was passed to enable his majesty, George III. to grant to him out of the principal sum and interest remaining due on his forfeited estate, the sum of £3,618, with interest from Whitsunday 1721. In 1764, Lord Marischal purchased back part of the family estates, with the intention of taking up his residence in Scotland. The king of Prussia, however, was urgent for his return to Berlin. In one of his letters he said, “If I had a fleet, I would come and carry you off by force.” The earl, in consequence, went back to Prussia, where he spent the remainder of his days. A traveler, who visited Berlin about 1777, thus writes: “We dined almost every day with the Lord Marischal, who was then 83 years old, and was still as vigorous as ever both in body and mind. The king had given him a house adjoining the gardens of Sans Souci, and frequently went thither to see him. He had excused himself from dining with him, having found that his health would not allow him to sit long at table, and he was of all those who had enjoyed the favour of the king the only one who could truly be called his friend, and who was sincerely attached to his person. Of course, every body paid court to him. He was called the king’s friend, and was the only one who had merited that title, for he had always stood well with him without flattering him.” His lordship died, unmarried, at Potsdam, 28th May 1778, in his 86th year. An ‘Eloge de My lord Marèchal’ by D’Alembert, was published at Berlin in 1779.


Return to The Scottish Nation Index Page

 


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus

Quantcast