CHARLES, EARL OF ERROLL, OPPOSED TO THE UNION—CORONATION
OF GEORGE I.—MARY, COUNTESS OF ERROLL—CORONATION OF GEORGE II.
EARL Charles was strongly opposed to the union between
England and Scotland. He dissented to most of the articles of the Treaty,
and finally entered a protestation in the following terms:-
"I, Charles, Earl of Erroll, Lord High Constable of
Scotland, do hereby protest—that the office of High Constable, with all
the rights and privileges of the same, belonging to me heritably, and
depending upon the Monarchy, Sovereignty, and ancient constitution of this
Kingdom, may not be prejudiced by the Treaty of Union between Scotland and
England, nor any article, clause, or condition thereof, but that the said
heritable office, with all the rights and privileges thereof, may remain
to me and my successors, entire and unhurt by any votes or Acts of
Parliament whatever relating to the said Union; and I crave that this, my
protestation, may be recorded in the registers and rolls of Parliament"
The office of Lord High Constable was not abolished by
the Union, though, owing to the changed circumstances and the extinction
of the Scottish Parliament, the duties of the office were very limited.
In April, 1708, the Earl of Erroll was conveyed
prisoner to London, on suspicion of his being connected with the attempted
French invasion in favour of the exiled King.
There is a report by the Lords of Committee for the
coronation of George I. in 1714, which touched on the precedence due to
the Lord High Constable of Scotland and Earl Marischal, and made the
following statement:—" Their Lordships have
agreed to offer it as their humble opinion to His Majesty that the
Constable of Scotland do in the procession at his Majesty’s coronation
walk on the right hand side of the High Constable of England, and Earl
Marischal on the left hand of the Marshal of England. The High Constable
and the Marshal of England being nearest the Sword of State."
But it does not appear that Erroll, the Lord High
Constable, took his place in person at the coronation of George I.
Earl Charles died unmarried in 1717. The Earldom then
devolved on the late Earl’s eldest sister, Lady Mary, who became Countess
of Erroll. She married Alexander Falconer, second son of Sir David
Falconer of Newton, Lord President of the Court of Session in 1682.
The Countess’s sister, Lady Margaret, married James,
fifth Earl of Linlithgow, and fourth Earl of Callander, and by him had a
son, who died young, and an only daughter, Lady Anne Livingstone. This
lady married William, fourth Earl of Kilmarnock, and by him had three
sons—James Lord Boyd, who eventually became Earl of Erroll; Charles, and
In 1727, on the occasion of the coronation of
George II., Mary, Countess of Erroll, claimed her right to act by deputy,
and the claim was admitted. On the 2nd of October it was intimated—" That,
whereas His Majesty was pleased by his Order in Council of the twentieth
of last month to allow of the claim of the Countess of Erroll as
Hereditary High Constable of Scotland to walk at the coronation of Their
Majesties, and to order that she should nominate to His Majesty some
proper person to be her deputy; and whereas the said Countess of Erroll
did this day nominate His Grace Johns Duke of Roxburgh, to His Majesty to
walk in her stead: His Majesty in Council is pleased to approve of the
said nomination, and accordingly hereby to appoint the said Duke of
Roxburgh to walk as the said Countess of Erroll’s deputy at the
coronation, and to take the same place as was allowed at the last
coronation—on the right hand of the High Constable of England; the said
High Constable of England being nearest to the Sword of State."
On the 30th of September an order was issued to this
effect :—" Whereas Mary, Countess of Erroll, is
allowed by the King in Council to have the right of the office of High
Constable of Scotland vested in her, and she, having nominated, with the
King’s approbation, His Grace John, Duke of Roxburgh, to officiate for her
at the ensuing coronation: These are to signify the same, and that you
cause to be provided and made a truncheon or staff of silver, gilt at each
end, of twelve-ounces weight, of the same fashion and goodness as was made
at the last coronation for the High Constable of England, with His
Majesty’s arms at one end, and the arms of the Countess of Erroll at the
other, both engraved; and deliver the same to the above named John, Duke
of Roxburgh, to be used at Their Majesties’ coronation."
On the day of the coronation of George II., the Duke of
Roxburgh acted instead of the Countess, as indicated above, and took his
place on the right hand of the High Constable of England.
Mary, Countess of Erroll, died in 1758, and, leaving no
issue, the Earldom reverted to a son of her neice, the Countess of the
unfortunate Earl of Kilmarnock, and, as indicated in a preceding
paragraph, James, Lord Boyd, became fourteenth Earl of Erroll.
His father, the fourth Earl of Kilmarnock, having
joined the Rising of 1745, and, according to his own account, surrendered
himself immediately after the battle of Culloden, he was conveyed a
prisoner to England. When he was confined in the Tower of London, after
his trial, and under sentence of death, he wrote a few letters to the Duke
of Hamilton, and to his son, Lord Boyd. Shortly before he was beheaded,
the condemned Earl was naturally very anxious to see his son, but the
authorities refused to grant his request. His last letter to his eldest
son, Lord Boyd, is preserved, and it has a peculiar though a sad interest.
The condemned man wrote thus :— "To the Right
Honourable the Lord Boyd.
"Dear Boyd,—You may easily believe it gave me a great
deal of uneasiness that you did not get leave to come up here, and that I
would not have the pleasure of taking a long and last farewell of you.
Besides the pleasure of seeing you and giving you the
blessing of a dying father; I wanted to have talked to you about your
affairs more than I have strength or spirit to write. I shall therefore
recommend you to George Menzies in Falkirk, and Robert Paterson, in
Kilmarnock, as your advisers in them, and to a state of affairs I sent to
my wife, of which you will get a copy, which I recommend to you in the
same manner as to her. I desire you to consult with her in all your
affairs. I need hardly recommend it to you—as I know your good nature and
regard for her—to do all you can to comfort her in the grief and
affliction I am sure she must be in when she has the accounts of my death.
She will need your assistance, and I pray you may give it her.
"I beg leave to say two or three things to you as my
last advice. Seek God in your youth, and when you are old he will not
depart from you. Be at pains to acquire good habits now, that they may
grow up and become strong in you. Love mankind and do justice to all men.
Do good to as many as you can, and neither shut your ears or your purse to
those in distress whom it is in your power to relieve.
. . . Live within your circumstances, by which means you will have
it in your power to do good to others and create an independence in
yourself, the surest way to rise in the world.
"Above all things, continue in your loyalty to his
present Majesty and the succession to the Crown as by law established.
Look on that as the basis of the civil and religious liberty and property
of every individual in the nation. Prefer the public interest to your own
wherever they interfere. Love your family and children, when you have any,
but never let your regard for them drive you on the rock I have split
upon, when on that account I departed from my principles, and brought the
guilt of rebellion and public and particular desolation on my head, for
which I am now under the sentence justly due to my crime. Use all your
interest to get your brother pardoned and brought home as soon as
possible, that his circumstances, and the bad influence of those he is
among, may not induce him to accept of foreign service, and lose him both
to his country and his family. If money can be found to support him, I
wish you would advise him to go to Geneva, where his principles of
religion and liberty will be confirmed, and where he may stay till you see
if a pardon can be procured for him. As soon as Commodore Barnes comes
home, inquire for your brother Billie, and take care of him on my account
I recommend to you the payment of my debts, particularly the servant’s
wages, as mentioned in the state of affairs. I must again recommend to you
your unhappy mother. Comfort her, and take all the care you can of your
brothers. And may God of his infinite mercy preserve, guide, and conduct
you and them through all the vicissitudes of this life, and after it bring
you to the habitations of the just, and make you happy in the enjoyment of
Himself to eternity, is the sincere prayer of your affectionate father,
"Tower of London, August 17th, 1746."
Charles Boyd, mentioned in the above letter, was the
second son of Kilmarnock. He joined the Rising, but escaped to France, and
resided abroad for many years. He eventually returned home, and lived at
Slains Castle. He died at Edinburgh in 1782, leaving a son and a daughter.
The son mentioned as "Billie," was William Boyd,
an officer in the Royal Navy at the time of his father’s death.