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Historic Earls and Earldoms of Scotland
Chapter 1 - Earldom and Earls of Mar
Section II


David II., in 1358, granted to Earl Thomas a charter of confirmation of the Lordship of the Garioch to him and his heirs. In 1356 Thomas, Earl of Mar, granted a charter to William Chalmer of the lands of Easter Ruthven, in Cromar, for three yearly suits at the earlís head courts at Migvie. In 1359 he granted a charter to William Leith, burgess of Aberdeen, of the lands of Rothney, Hareboggs, and Blackeboggs, in the regality of the Garioch, and with common pasture in the earlís forest of Benachie. This charter was confirmed the same year by David II. The same year he granted a charter to William Fentoun of the lands of Upper Towie, Nether Towie, and Culquhork, in Strathdon.

In 1359 Earl Thomas was Chamberlain of Scotland. But in 1361 there was a strife between him and David II., his cousin. The King besieged the Castle of Kildrummy and took it; and appointed Sir Walter Moigne temporary keeper of the castle. A Parliament, which met at Perth in 1370, found that the Earl of Mar had contumaciously absented himself.

The Earl married Margaret Stewart, the eldest daughter of Thomas Stewart, Earl of Angus. Earl Thomas was often in England and France. In March, 1359, he had a passport through England for himself and thirty persons in his retinue, and three merchants; while in August, 1359, he had a safe conduct for himself and one hundred horsemen in his train. The same year, in October, he had a passport to France with twenty-four horsemen. In November, 1362, he had a safe conduct to the shrine of St. Thomas a Becket at Canterbury for himself and twelve horsemen. He had passports for himself and twelve horsemen in February, 1363, in March the same year, and in February, 1365. In July, 1365, he had a licence to send eight horsemen to Newcastle-on-Tyne with one hundred and twenty oxen, which he had sold to merchants in that city. In October, 1368, he had a passport for himself and twelve gentlemen on their way through England in pilgrimage to St Amiens, in France. He was the last in the male line of the old Celtic Earls of Mar, having died in 1377, leaving no issue.

His only sister, Margaret, who had married William, first Earl of Douglas, then became Countess of Mar and Garioch in her own right. She had a son and a daughter to her husband, who died in 1384 He was succeeded by his son James, second Earl of Douglas, and also twelfth Earl of Mar and Garioch in right of his mother. Earl James, on the 27th of July, 1388, confirmed a grant of his father William, to the monks of Melrose of the patronage of the parish church of Cavers. Thirteen days later he fell, leading the Scots at the battle of Otterburn. He having left no legitimate issue, his sister, Isabel, then succeeded to the Earldom of Mar and the Lordship of the Garioch, her motherís heritage, and she also succeeded to the unentailed lands of the House of Douglas.

This Isabel, Countess of Mar and Garioch in her own right, and also the owner of many other estates of wide extent, naturally became the victim of many intrigues. In short, a network of plots was woven around her. Margaret Stewart, Countess of Angus in her own right, the widow of Thomas, late Earl of Mar, Isabelís uncle, was an exceedingly active agent in these plots. She was a woman of great energy, and quite unscrupulous. In her youth she had a son to William, first Earl of Douglasóher brother-in-law. This natural son, her only childóGeorge Douglas, was thus the Countess Isabelís illegitimate brother. The Countess of Angus (who, in virtue of her late husband, continued to take the style of Countess of Mar), in her passion for the aggrandisement of her only son, was ready to attempt anything. In 1389 she resigned the Earldom of Angus, with the Lordships of Abernethy and Bonkill, in favour of her son, George Douglas, which was confirmed by a charter of Robert II. Yet this lady was far from satisfied with the position of her son, the Earl of Angus. She still continued to make the utmost efforts to obtain settlements of the unentailed lands of the House of Douglas in favour of her son. Above all, she concentrated her longing eyes upon the wide territorial possessions of the Countess Isabelóthe Earldoms of Mar and Garioch. Of course, George Douglas, now Earl of Angus, naturally seconded his motherís plots.

Isabel, Countess of Mar and Garioch, married Sir Malcolm Drummond, a brother of Annabella, Queen of Robert III. But there was no issue of the marriage. It appears that Drummond acted in concert with those who were interested in opposing and defeating. the prospective claim of the Erskine family to the Earldom of Mar. Sir John Swinton married Margaret, Countess of Mar, after the death of her first husband, William, first Earl of Douglas ; and she, too, became involved in the plots through the action of her second husband. On the 18th of March, 1391, Sir Thomas Erskine appeared before the King in a Parliament sitting at Scone, and addressed him thus:ó"My Lord the King, it has come to my knowledge that there is a certain contract made between Sir Malcolm Drummond and Sir John Swinton upon the lands of the Earldom of Mar and the Lordship of the Garioch, of which Earldom and Lordship Isabel, the said Sir John Malcolmís wife, is the real and lawful heir, and failing of the heirs of her body, the half of the forementioned Earldom and Lordship pertains to my wife of right and heritage. Therefore I require you, for Godís sake, as my Lord and my King, as lawful attorney to my said wife, that in case of any such contract to be made in prejudice of my said wife of that which ought of right and of law to pertain to her in fee and heritage, failing, the said Isabel, as is before said, that ye grant no confirmation thereupon contrary to the common law of the country and of my wifeís right." To this the King replied, "that he thought the request was reasonable," and promised that he would do nothing to prejudice Sir Thomasís wifeís right or his own. Sir Thomas Erskine had a notary public present, who formally executed an instrument recording the requisition and the engagment.

Again, on the 22nd of November, 1395, Robert III, declares in a letter to Sir Thomas Erskine that he will not receive any resignation or alienation which Isabel Douglas, Countess of Mar and Garioch, may wish to make of these Earldoms in prejudice of the true heirs, namelyó the heirs of the said Thomas Erskine.

Two years later, the weak King, Robert Ill., lent his aid to the great plotter, Margaret Stewart, ex-Countess of Mar and Countess of Angus, mentioned before. At Edinburgh, on the 24th of May, 1397, the King entered into an indenture with "Margaret, Countess of Mar and Angus, undertaking that, in consideration of George Douglas, her son, Lord of Angus, shall marry one of the Kingís daughters, then the King shall give him all the lands of the Earldom of Angus in free regality, heritable to the said George and his daughter, and to the longest liver of them and to their male heirs. And also our Lord the King shall confirm, approve, and ratify under his great seal all gifts, settings, and consignations made or to be made by Isabel, Countess of Mar, to the said George, her brother, of all the lands, rents, and possessions which she has, or may have, within the kingdom of Scotland; and also our Lord the King shall receive all resignations that the said Isabel likes to make, and with all haste he shall give charter and heritable possession to the said George and his daughter. Also the King truly promises not to receive any resignations made by the Countess Isabel of any lands, rents, or possessions, nor give confirmation, but only to the use and profit of the said George her brother," even although he has given any letter to Sir Thomas Erskine. Such was the state of the question of the Earldom of Mar and Garioch towards the close of the fourteenth century. But startling surprises were not far off.

In 1390, Robert III. granted to his brother-in-law, Sir Malcolm Drummond, Lord of Mar in right of his wife, the Countess Isabel, a licence to erect a tower on the lands of Castletown of Braemar. The King, in 1393, granted to Sir Malcolm by charter, forty pounds sterling per annum from the great custom of Aberdeen, until the King shall give him forty pounds worth of lands.

When Sir Malcolm was residing in his own castle in 1402, he was attacked by a band of ruffians, instigated by Alexander Stewart (the hero of Harlaw), overpowered, and thrown into a dungeon, where the cruel treatment he received ended in his death. Tytler, the historian, saysó. "There seems to have been little doubt that the successful wooer and the assassin of Drummond was one and the same person."

After the murder of her husband, Isabel was residing at the castle of Kildrummy, the chief seat of the Earldom of Mar, a widow, childless, and quite unprotected. In the summer of 1404, Alexander Stewart, a leader of broken men and the terror of the country, swooped down upon the castle and his victim. He captured the Countessís castle, and seized her person, and then extorted from her under a covenant of future marriage a charter, dated the 12th of August, 1404, by which she gifted to Alexander Stewart the Earldoms of Mar and Garioch, and all the other lands and superiorities belonging to her by hereditary right. The immediate effect of this charter was to cut off the Erskines, and others who had hopes of succeeding to the Earldom of Mat

This daring outrage upon the Countessís person and property and extortion of the charter were too flagrant to stand altogether unredressed. But Stewartís relation to the Royal Family, being a natural son of the late Alexander Stewart, Earl of Buchan, the "Wolf of Badenoch," and the power of his uncle, the Duke of Albany, appears to have saved him from any actual punishment. Accordingly a compromise was arranged, by which the interests of other parties were secured. The matter assumed a dramatic form.

On the 9th of September, 1404, the Countess, accompanied by Alexander, Bishop of Ross; Sir Andrew Leslie, Walter Ogilvie, and other gentlemen of the district, and a multitude of the people, proceeded to a meadow outside the great gate of Kildrummy Castle. And then Alexander Stewart came out of the castle, advancing to where the countess stood, and in the presence of the assemblage delivered over to her the castle with its charters, the silver vessels, and other jewels, and everything therein, placing the keys in her hands, to dispose of the castle as no longer under any constraint. This having been done, the Countess, holding the keys in her hands, then made choice of Alexander Stewart as her husband before all the people; and gave him in free marriage the Castle and the Earldoms of Mar and Garioch, and all the lands which she possessed. Immediately after this interesting ceremony the charter of the 12th of August was renounced by Alexander Stewart in favour of the Countess, to be reconveyed by her to him, which was done by a similar charter of the 9th of December; but with reservation to the longest liver, and ultimate destination in case of there being no issue from the marriage, to Isabelís heirs. This was confirmed by a charter of Robert III. on the 21st of January, 1405, under the Great Seal. Thus Alexander Stewart became Earl of Mar.

The Countess Isabel, the unhappy victim of many intrigues, and such violence as indicated above, died about three years after her marriage, and left no issue by Alexander Stewart. But he continued to hold the Earldom, and endeavoured to secure the succession to his natural son, Thomas Stewart.

The new Earl of Mar lived in grand style, and often travelled abroad. On the 3rd of September, 1406, John Stele and William Stewinson, chaplains of the Earl of Mar, had a safe conduct till Easter to pass to and from Bruges, in connection with Marís affairs. In April, 1406, Henry IV. granted letters of safe conduct to Alexander, Earl of Mar, and Lord of the Garioch, with forty persons in his train, to go into England to a passage-of-arms with Edmund, Earl of Kent, in the presence of the King. The same year, on the 5th of September, he had another safe conduct for himself and seventy persons for a passage-of-arms with the Earl of Kent He had also adventures in France.

On the 24th of December, 1409, Alexander, Earl of Mar and Garioch, granted a charter to Alexander Forbes of Brux, conveying to him the lands of Glencoure and the Orde, in the lordship of Strathdon, for one penny yearly at the south door of the Church of Invernochty. In 1410 the Earl granted a charter to Sir Alexander Irvine of Drum of the lands of Davachindore and Fidlemouth, in the Earldom of Mar, for one penny yearly at the south door of the Parish Church.

It appears that Sir Alexander Irvine was one of the Scottish knights who took part in the exploits of the Earl of Mar at the siege and conflicts of Liege in 1408. On this occasion the cause for which Mar fought was to place a worthless man in a bishopís see against the majority of the people.


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