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.

The Scottish Nation
Somerville


SOMERVILLE, a surname originally Norman. The first of the name in Great retain was Sir Gualter de Somerville, who accompanied William the Conqueror into England, and obtained from him estates in Staffordshire and Gloucestershire. He left three sons, and died at the commencement of the twelfth century. From his eldest son, Sir Gualter de Somerville, descended Sir Philip de Somerville of Whichnour, Staffordshire, who there instituted the gift of a flitch of bacon, called the Dunmow flitch, to the husbands and wives who had lived together a year and a day without any strife or disagreement. The last of his house in England was William Somerville, the poet, author of ‘The Chase,’ &c., descended from the third son.

William de Somerville, the second son, came to Scotland with David I., from whom he had a grant of the lands of Carnwath in Clydesdale. He witnessed the foundation charter of Melrose abbey by that monarch in 1136, also donations by him to the monasteries of Dunfermline and Kelso. He died in 1142, and was buried at Melrose. He had two sons, William, who witnessed a charter of David I. to the abbacy of Kelso in 1144, as well as several of Malcolm IV., and died in 1161; and Walter, witness to a charter of the latter monarch betwixt 1154 and 1160. The former left a son, also named William de Somerville, witness to several charters of Malcolm IV. and William the Lion. In the reign of the latter he slew a monstrous animal which greatly devastated the district of Linton, Roxburghshire. According to tradition, it was a serpent, supposed to have been the last that infested that part of the country, and in 1174 he obtained the lands of Linton from the king as a reward. A place is pointed out as the animal’s den, bearing the name of “the worm’s hole,” and the ground in its vicinity is called Wormington. On an ancient stone on the south wall of the parish church is the figure of a horseman spearing the mouth of an animal resembling a dragon, and underneath it were inscribed the words:

“The wode laird of Lariestone
Slew the wode worm of Wirmieston,
And won all Linton parochine.”

The crest of the Lords Somerville has the inscription “The wode laird,” and contains other allusions to William de Somerville’s exploit. After obtaining the lands of Linton, the latter became chief falconer to the king and sheriff of Roxburghshire. He was buried in the choir of Linton church.

William de Somerville of Linton and Carnwath, the son of this adventurous baron, is said to have distinguished himself at a tournament at Roxburgh, before Alexander II. His son, Sir William de Somerville, fought at the battle of Largs, 2d October 1263, and died in 1282. The son of this baron, Sir Thomas de Somerville of Linton and Carnwath, was present in the convention at Brigham, 12th March 1290, when a marriage between the Princess Margaret and Prince Edward of England was proposed. He swore fealty to King Edward I., 15th May 1296, but the following year he joined Sir William Wallace. He made several donations to the monks of Melrose out of his barony of Linton, and died about 1300, leaving two sons, Sir Walter, and Sir John de Somerville. The former was one of the few barons who supported Wallace, under whom he commanded the third brigade of cavalry at the battle of Biggar. He was also a steady adherent of Robert the Bruce. The latter was taken by the English in 1306. During the wars of this period, Linton tower, built by William de Somerville, the serpent-slayer, was often put in peril, from its position on the borders, by its owners’ sturdy opposition to the aggressions of the English.
Sir Walter de Somerville of Linton and Carnwath, one of Bruce’s principal associates, died about 1330. By his wife, Giles, daughter and heiress of Sir John Herring, he got the lands of Gilmerton, Drum, and Goodtrees, Mid Lothian, and had three sons. 1. Sir James, killed at the battle of Durham in 1346. 2. Sir Thomas, who fought in the same battle, and succeeded his brother. 3. Richard, witness to a charter of the earl of Lennox in 1340.

Sir Thomas de Somerville of Linton and Carnwath, between 1362 and 1366, had three safe-conducts into England to visit the shrine of St. Thomas a Becket at Canterbury, and one to go through England to visit St. John of Amboise in France. He died before 1370. His eldest son, Sir William de Somerville, one of the hostages for the release of David II., 3d October 1357, died in 1403, leaving two sons, Sir Thomas, first Lord Somerville, and William, ancestor of the Somervilles of Cambo.

_____

SOMERVILLE, Baron, a title in the peerage of Scotland, conferred before 1430, on Sir Thomas Somerville, above mentioned. He had a safe-conduct to England to meet James I., 13th December 1423, and he was one of the guarantees of the treaty for his release, 28th December 1424; also, one of the jury on the trial of Murdach, duke of Albany, in May 1425. He held the office of justiciary of Scotland south of the Forth, and appears to have been created a peer, by the title of Lord Somerville, before 1430. He died in 1445. He married Janet, daughter of Sir Alexander Stewart of Derneley, and got with her the barony of Cambusnethan, Lanarkshire. His son, William, second Lord Somerville, was frequently a commissioner to treat with the English as to peace, and was a conservator of several truces with the English. He died in June 1455. With two daughters, he had two sons; John, third Lord Somerville, and Thomas Somerville, of Plane, Stirlingshire.

John, third Lord Somerville, was wounded at the battle of Sark against the English in 1448. He was present with James II. at the siege of Roxburgh, when his majesty was killed by the bursting of a cannon in 1460. He was concerned with the Boyds in carrying off James III. from Linlithgow to Edinburgh, 9th July 1466, for which a pardon under the great seal was granted to him by parliament, 13th October that year. He died in November 1491. He was twice married; first, to Helen Hepburn, sister of Patrick, first earl of Bothwell, and had by her a son, William, master of Somerville, who died in 1488, and two daughters; 2dly, to Mariot, daughter of Sir William Baillie of Lamington, and, with a daughter, Mary, had a son, Sir John Somerville of Cambusnethan, tutor to his nephew, John, fourth Lord Somerville, who was of weak intellect. Sir John was killed at Flodden 9th September 1513. He married Elizabeth, a daughter of Carmichael of Balmedie, Fifeshire, and was ancestor of the Somervilles of Cambusnethan. His son, Sir John Somerville of Cambusnethan, was called Red Bag, from carrying a red leathern bag for holding his hawk’s meat. He married a sister of the earl of Montrose. Their son took to wife, Catherine, daughter of Sir John Carmichael of Meadowflat, captain of Crawford, one of the mistresses of James V. In that curious book, ‘The Memorie of the Somervilles,’ published in 1815, 2 vols., from the original manuscripts, many interesting notices are given of the royal visits to Cowthally, Lord Somerville’s seat in the parish of Carnwath; and especially of the Flirtations of James V. with “Mistress Katherine Carmichael, the captain of Crawfuird’s daughter, a young lady much about sexteinth years of age, admired for her beautie, handsomeness of persone, and vivacity of spirit.” The work was written by James Somerville of Drum, who died in 1690, styled in the title-page, James eleventh Lord Somerville. Alluding to “Mistress Katherine’s” connexion with the king, the author thus concludes an admirable defence of her: -- “Thus far I have digressed in vindication of this excellent lady that it may appear it was nether her choyse nor any vitious habite that prevailed over her chastity, but ane inevitable fate that the strongest resistance could hardly withstand.” She died in 1552. She was descended from the family of Balmedie or Balmeadow in Fife, which Sibbald (History of Fife, p. 409) says in his time gave “title to Sir David Carmichael in Perthshire. This was exchanged by the earl of Fife with the earl of Angus giving Balmedie for Balbirnie; and in King James III.’s reign, the earl of Angus gave Balmedie with the heritable bailiary of the regality of Abernethy to a gentleman of the name of Carmichael, captain of the castle of Crawford, Sir David’s predecessor, who married the earl’s mother when a widow.”

William, master of Somerville, left two sons, John, fourth Lord Somerville, who died without issue, and Hugh, fifth Lord Somerville. The latter sat in parliament, 16th November 1524. He was taken prisoner at the rout of Solway in November 1542, and placed in the custody of Lord Audley, lord-chancellor of England. His income was estimated at 400 marks sterling yearly, and he was ordered to be released 1st July 1543, on payment of 1,000 marks sterling. He supported the proposed match between the infant Queen Mary and Edward, prince of Wales, the son of Henry VIII. This, indeed, was one of the conditions on which he and some others of the noblemen taken prisoners at Solway obtained their liberty, and to insure his adherence to the project, he had from the English monarch a pension of 200 marks. The earls of Glencairn and Cassillis, and the Lords Somerville, Maxwell, Fleming, and Oliphant, were the noblemen who agreed to Henry’s conditions. They subscribed the bond, by which, to use the words of the regent Arran, they were tied in fetters to England, and having confirmed it with their oaths and left hostages in the hands of the English king, they were allowed to return to Scotland. To Lord Somerville was instructed, in 1543, the bond or covenant drawn up by the earl of Angus and his confederates, -- wherein they bound themselves to fulfil their engagements to the English king, his lordship undertaking to deliver it to Henry. But before he could proceed to London, both he and Lord Maxwell, the principal agents of Angus in conducting his intrigues with England, were arrested, and on Lord Somerville was found the bond signed at Douglas castle, with letters which fully disclosed the treasonable plans of the party. In the following year Lord Somerville was one of the principal nobles who signed the agreement to support the authority of the queen-mother as regent of Scotland, on the deprivation of the earl of Arran of the office. The same year he was in an expedition which Arran led against England, but which, owing to the treachery of the Douglases, was shamefully put to flight at Coldingham, by an English force inferior to them in numbers. About this time Linton tower on the borders was first dilapidated by the warden of the English marches, and next totally destroyed by the earl of Surrey. With the other nobles who were in secret communication with England, Lord Somerville had given his adherence to the Reformed doctrines. He died in 1549. By his wife, Janet, daughter of William Maitland of Lethington, he had, with two daughters, three sons. 1. James, sixth Lord Somerville, 2. John, who died without issue. 3. Hugh, ancestor of the Somervilles of Spittal.

James, the eldest son, was detained in England, when master of Somerville, as a hostage for his father. In 1543, the latter wrote to Sir Ralph Sadler, the English ambassador in Scotland, requesting that he should be allowed to return home, as he was very ill with the stone. Unlike his father, he opposed the Reformation, and when the Confession of Faith was ratified by the estates, 17th July 1560, he and the earl of Athol and Lord Borthwick were the only three who voted against it, saying, “We will believe as our fathers believed.” He adhered to t he cause of Queen Mary, and joined her forces at Hamilton in May 1568, with 300 horse. He fought at their head at the battle of Langside, where he was severely wounded. He died in December 1569. By his wife, Agnes, daughter of Sir James Hamilton of Finnart, he had, with two daughters, two sons, Hugh, seventh Lord Somerville, and another, who got from his father part of the barony of Carnwath.

Hugh, seventh Lord Somerville, was at first one of Queen Mary’s faction, and his name appears, with that of the other lords, at the letter sent to Queen Elizabeth on her behalf, dated the end of March 1570. When, however, the queen’s lords held a parliament in the tollbooth of Edinburgh, 12th July 1571, for the purpose of declaring all the proceedings regarding the young king’s coronation null, his lordship, who had been written to, declined to vote, alleging in excuse that he was a man of small judgment, and therefore behoved to advise before he rashly voted to depose a crowned king, and took documents of his refusal. He was beginning to veer with the tide, and was sworn a privy councilor to James VI. In the General Assembly which met at Edinburgh 4th August 1590, the bailies of that city presented a complaint from the town council, as to the violation of the Sabbath in the different burghs, by the going of mills, receiving of loads within their gates, selling of flowers, &c. Lord Somerville, being present, alleged the privilege of his infeftment for holding the market of Carnwath on the Lord’s day, yet consented that neither fair nor market should be kept there. If he failed, the Assembly commanded the presbytery to proceed against him, according to the acts, (Calderwood, vol. v. p. 110). He died in 1597. By his wife, Elinor, daughter of Lord Seton, he had sixteen children, eight of whom died young. Of the rest four were daughters and four sons. 1. William, master of Somerville, who predeceased his father. He had a remission, 26th January 1588, for having accidentally killed his brother, Robert. 2. Robert. 3. Gilbert, eighth Lord Somerville. 4. Hugh Somerville of Drum, who carried on the line of the family.

Gilbert, eighth Lord Somerville, entertained James VI. with great splendour, at his castle of Cowthally, punningly called by the king Cowdaily, because he had observed that a cow and ten sheep were killed there every day. By his extravagance Lord Somerville greatly reduced his estate, and in 1603 Carnwath was sold to the earl of Mar. It afterwards came into the possession of the family of Dalziel, to whom it gives the title of earl. In the ranking of the Scots nobility in 1606, the title of Lord Somerville does not occur. His lordship died in 1618. With three daughters, he had an only son, who died in infancy. His brother, Hugh Somerville of Drum, succeeded him, but did not assume the title. He died at Drum in 1640, in his 70th year. By his wife, Margaret, daughter of Gavin Hamilton of Raploch, he had, with two daughters, two sons.

James, the elder son, properly tenth Lord Somerville, served with reputation in the French and Venetian service, and on his return home had the rank of lieutenant-colonel in the army. He died 3d January 1677, and was buried at Holyrood-house. By his wife, Lilias, daughter of Sir James Bannatyne of Newhall, a lord of session, he had a son, James Somerville of Drum, properly eleventh Lord Somerville. Being on the jury at the trial of Campbell of Cessnock in March 1684, he was one of the three jurymen who complained of the undue pains taken by the king’s advocate to procure evidence against the prisoner, and when they were reproved for interfering in the matter, they boldly replied that it concerned them and their consciences to see that the probation was fair and equal. They were indicted for a riot in interrupting the court on that trial, but it was passed over. James Somerville of Drum died in 1690. His son, James Somerville, younger of Drum, predeceased his father. In a drunken quarrel, he was mortally wounded by Thomas, son of Thomas Learmonth, advocate, with the sword of Hugh Paterson, younger of Bannockburn, 8th July 1682. He lived a day or two afterwards, forgave Learmonth, and counseled him to leave the country. It was alleged that the wound was rendered mortal by bad management. His son, James Somerville, born in 1674, succeeded his grandfather, and was properly twelfth Lord Somerville. He died 4th December 1709, leaving, with two daughters, four sons. 1. James. 2. George Somerville of Dinder, Somersetshire. 3. and 4. John and William, who both died without issue.

John, the eldest son, thirteenth Lord Somerville, claimed, at the keenly contested election of a representative peer of Scotland in 1721, to be admitted to vote, but his claim was not allowed. He thereupon entered a protest. At the general election 21st April 1722, the same took place. At the election, however, of 15th August following, his vote was admitted, and on a petition to the king, his right to the peerage was acknowledged by the House of Lords, 27th May 1723. At the general election of 1741, he was chosen one of the sixteen Scots representative peers. He added considerably to his fortune by an arrangement with his kinsman, the celebrated author of ‘The Chase,’ William Somerville, Esq. of Eadstone, Warwickshire, and Somerville Aston, Gloucestershire, representative of the English branch of the Somervilles, by which, in consideration of certain sums applied to the relief of burdens, the latter, who was unmarried, settled the reversion of his estates upon him. He succeeded to them, on the death of the poet in 1742. He built the elegant house of Drum, and laid out the plantations there in great taste. He died at Drum, 14th December 1765. He was twice married, to English ladies, and had two sons and two daughters.

The elder son, James, fourteenth Lord Somerville, an officer in the 2d regiment of dragoon guards, served several campaigns with great credit. He quitted the army in 1764, with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. He was chosen a representative peer 7th August 1793, and died 16th April 1796, unmarried.

His brother, the Hon. Hugh Somerville, was also an officer of the 2d dragoon guards, and afterwards major of the 16th light dragoons. In 1762 he accompanied the latter regiment to Portugal, and was in the force under Brigadier-general Burgoyne, which surprised a Spanish advanced party in the town of Valencia d’Alcantara, Aug. 27, 1762, when they entirely destroyed one of the best regiments in the Spanish service. In 1763 he became lieutenant-colonel of his regiment. He quitted the army soon after, and died at York house, Clifton, May 7, 1795. He was twice married, like his father, and to English ladies. By his first wife he had a son, John, 15th Lord Somerville, and by his second, six sons and one daughter.

John, 15th Lord Somerville, distinguished himself by the attention which he paid to agriculture, and has transmitted his name to posterity by the introduction of the breed of Merino sheep from Lisbon into Great Britain. In 1805 and subsequent years, while residing at his seat of The Pavilion on the Tweed, he was the companion of Sir Walter Scott in salmon-spearing and other sports. To Scott his skill in every department of the science of rural economy was of great use, and he always talked of him in particular as his master in the art of planting. In Scott’s work, ‘Paul’s Letters to his Kinsfolk,’ he figures as Paul’s laird. He succeeded Sir John Sinclair in 1813, as president of the Board of Agriculture, and died, unmarried, in 1819.

His half-brother, Mark, succeeded as 16th lord. Born Oct. 26, 1784, he died, unmarried, June 3, 1842.

His brother, Kenelm, became 17th lord. He was born Nov. 14, 1787; educated at Rugby; entered the royal navy in 1801; placed on the retired list of rear-admirals in 1846. He commanded the Thames on the coast of America, and was officially recommended for his services during the expedition up the Patuxent river. He married, Sept. 3, 1833, Frances Louisa, only daughter of John Hayman, Esq.; issue, two sons, viz., 1. Hugh, born Oct. 11, 1839; 2. Frederick-Noel, born Oct. 8, 1840, and five daughters.

SOMERVILLE, THOMAS, D.D., an eminent divine and historian, was born in the spring of 1741, at Hawick, of which parish his father was minister. He studied at the university of Edinburgh; and, in the autumn of 1762, regularly licensed as a preacher of the gospel. Shortly after, he was appointed by Sir Gilbert Elliot of Minto, tutor to his son, the first Lord Minto, afterwards governor-general of India. In 1767, the church of Minto becoming vacant, he was presented by Sir Gilbert to that charge. In 1772, on the translation of Dr. James Macknight to Edinburgh, Sir Gilbert’s interest procured for him the more lucrative living of Jedburgh. At the commencement of the American Revolutionary war, he published a pamphlet, entitled ‘Candid Thoughts on American Independence,’ written in a spirit of determined hostility to the claims of the colonists, which drew forth a reply from Mr. Tod of Kirtlands, called ‘Consolatory Thoughts on American Independence, by a Merchant.’ In 1792 he produced his ‘History of the Political Transactions, and of Parties, from the Restoration of Charles II. to the Death of King William,’ a work which displays considerable research. In 1793 he was nominated one of the chaplains in ordinary to his majesty for Scotland, and also elected a member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

In 1798 he published a ‘History of the Reign of Queen Anne,’ dedicated by permission to George III.; and being, at the time of its publication, in London, he was introduced at St. James’, and personally presented a copy of the work to the king. He furnished the statistical survey of the parish of Jedburgh to Sir John Sinclair’s work, and on the attempt to introduce the culture of the tobacco plant into Roxburghshire, he was among the first to afford it a fair trial. He died at Jedburgh, May 16, 1830, in the 90th year of his age, and 64th of his ministry. His works are:

Candid Thoughts on American Independence.
History of Political Transactions and of Parties, from the Restoration of King Charles II. to the death of King William III. Lond. 1792, 4to.
Observations on the Constitution and Present State of Britain. Lond. 1793, 8vo.
History of Great Britain during the reign of Queen Anne; with an Appendix. Lond. 1798, 4to.
A Sermon, 1811, 8vo.
A Collection of Sermons. 1813, 8vo.
Two Sermons, communicated to the Scotch Preacher.
A Sermon, on the Nature and Obligation of an Oath, inserted in the Scottish Pulpit.

SOMERVILLE, ANDREW, R.S.A., an artist of great promise, the eldest son of a wire-worker in Edinburgh, was born in that city in 1808, and educated at the High school. He was at first a pupil in Mr. William Simpson’s drawing academy, and afterwards assisted his master in teaching, till the latter removed to London. Young Somerville’s paintings on being sent to the exhibition, then in the Waterloo Rooms, soon began to attract attention. He first exhibited in 1830, and was elected a member of the Scottish Academy in February 1832. He was chosen an associate in November 1833. Some of his favourite subjects were the ‘Bride of Yarrow,’ ‘Edith,’ and ‘Bonny Kilmeny.’ His ‘Flowers of the Forest,’ one of his best productions, a picture of the fatal field of Flodden, is now in the possession of Adam Sim, Esq. of Coulter Mains, Lanarkshire. He was equally successful in the pathetic and the humourous – the latter being admirably shown in his picture of ‘Donnybrook Fair.’ He died in January 1834, at the early age of 26.


Return to The Scottish Nation Index Page