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Historic Earls and Earldoms of Scotland
Chapter IV - Earldom and Earls of Erroll
Section VIII


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 William.

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,

"WILLIAM BOYD.

"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.

Lady Anne, Kilmarnock’s wife, did not long survive the death of her husband. She died in 1747.


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