Earls and Earldoms of Scotland
Chapter V - Keiths, Great Marischals
of Scotland, and Earl Marischals
WILLIAM, FIRST EARL MARISCHALWILLIAM, SECOND EARL
MARISCHAL WILLIAM, THIRD EARL MARISCHAL
THE MARISCHAL APPOINTED GUARDIAN OF THE
KINGS PERSON WILLIAM, FOURTH EARLHE JOINED THE REFORMERS.
IN 1457, James II. created Sir William Keith, first
Earl Marischal. He was present at the Court held in Aberdeen on the 15th
of May, 1457, when Lord Erskines claim to the Earldom of Mar was
His youngest daughter, Lady Egidia, married John,
second Lord Forbes. Sir Robert, his eldest son, died in his fathers
lifetime; and the Marischal himself died in 1475. He was succeeded
by his second son, William, second Earl Marischal.
In the strife and rebellion of the southern barons
against James III., the Marischal acted with sound judgment and
moderation. He officiated in the Parliament of 1488, in which his duties
were to keep guard and order within the House when Parliament was sitting.
He married Mariota, a daughter of Thomas, Lord Erskine,
by whom he had issuefour sons. From his youngest son, John, the Keiths of
Craig were descended.
He was succeeded by his oldest son, William, third Earl
Marischal. In 1481 he married Lady Elizabeth Gordon, second daughter of
George, second Earl of Huntly, by whom he had four sons and two daughters.
His eldest son, Robert, Lord Keith, married Lady
Elizabeth, a daughter of John, second Earl of Morton, by whom he had two
sons, William and Robert. On the 8th of January, 1506, Lord Keith and his
wife received a charter of Auchincloich, Tortoll, and other lands. His
daughter Lady Elizabeth, married George, fourth Earl of Huntly, in 1530.
In 1512 Earl William received from James IV. a charter
as Marischal of Scotland. His two eldest sonsRobert, Lord Keith, and
Williamaccompanied the army mustered by James IV. in August, 1513, which
crossed the Tweed on the 22nd and invaded England. But valuable time was
lost in besieging and taking the English border castles of Norham, Wark,
Etal, and Ford, which gave the enemy an opportunity of mustering his
forces and advancing against the Scots. The English army, under the
command of the Earl of Surrey, was advancing northward, and messages
passed between him and James IV. Although the King was exceedingly brave
and determined, as general of an army he had no qualifications whatever;
his idea of leadership was simply to make a stand-up fight.
The King, in person, and on foot, led the centre of the
Scottish army at the Battle of Flodden on the afternoon of the 9th of
September, 1513. He himself fought with the utmost fury and bravery, till
he fell mortally wounded in the head by a ball; and many of his barons,
knights, and spearmen were slain around him, amongst whom were Lord Keith
and his brother William.
When the tidings of this great national disaster became
known in Scotland, there was mourning and lamentation among all classes
throughout the kingdom. Early in October a Parliament met at Perth, at
which Earl Marischal was present. It at once proceeded to the coronation
of the infant King, James V., and the ceremony, in which the Marischal
officiated, was performed at Scone.
At this trying time the Marischal showed a fine
patriotic loyalty to the throne of his country. During the Regency of the
Duke of Albany the Marischal supported his government In 1515 he was
appointed guardian of the young Kings person, along with Lord Fleming and
Lord Borthwick. When Albany, the Regent, visited France in 1517, the young
King was conveyed from Stirling Castle to Edinburgh Castle and entrusted
to the keeping of Earl Marischal and Lord Erskine.
The Marischal died in 1530, and was succeeded by his
grandson (son of Lord Keith, who fell at Flodden), William, fourth Earl
Marischal. He was one of the suite of Earls and Barons who accompanied
James V. on his matrimonial visit to France in 1536. The marriage of the
King of Scots with the Princess Magdalen, the only daughter of Francis I.,
was celebrated amid great pomp in the church of Notre Dame, on the 1st of
January, 1537. The Kings of France and Navarre, many distinguished
foreigners, and seven Cardinals, were present at the ceremony. The King
stayed in France over eight months. At last he embarked at Dieppe, and
landed at Leith with his beautiful Queen on the 28th of May, amid great
In 1541 Earl Marischal was appointed an extraordinary
Lord of the Court of Session. James V. appears to have had implicit
confidence in the ability and integrity of the Marischal.
The Parliament which assembled on the 12th of March,
1543, selected Earl Marischal and the Earl of Montrose, with the Lords
Erskine, Lindsay, Ruthven, Livingston, and Seton, to be the keepers of the
infant Queen Marys person. The Marischal was at the same time appointed a
member of the Privy Council to the Regent
At this time the English Ambassador, Sadler, described
the Marischal of Scotland "as a goodly young gentleman, and well inclined
to the project of the marriage of Queen Mary with Prince Edward." He
further says that "the Marischal has ever borne a singular good affection
to Henry VIII."
It appears that from an early period of his life he was
inclined to favour the Reformation movement. In 1544, when George Wishart,
the martyr, had preached in Dundee, and was interdicted by the magistrates
from preaching there again, Earl Marischal and a few other noblemen were
present, and endeavoured to induce him to go with them, but he proceeded
The Marischal married Margaret, daughter and heiress of
Sir William Keith of Inverugie, by whom he had two sons and seven
daughters. Thus he united the Inverugie branch to the main line of the
He was present with his followers and friends at the
battle of Pinkie on the 10th of September, 1547, in which his eldest son
William, Master of Marischal, was taken a prisoner. He was confined in
England until a ransom of £2000 sterling was paid for his liberation.
The Master of Marischal married Lady Elizabeth Hay, a
daughter of George, seventh Earl of Erroll, and had issue, four sons and
three daughters. The Marischals second son, Robert, was made Commendator
of the Abbey of Deer, which was erected into a temporal lordship; and in
1587 he was erected Lord Altire.
Mary the Queen-Mother aspired to the position of Regent
of Scotland, and to promote this aim she resolved to visit the French
Court She selected Earl Marischal, the Earls of Huntly, Sutherland,
Cassillis, and a number of other barons to accompany her; she embarked at
Newhaven for France, and landed at Dieppe on the 19th of September, 1550.
She immediately proceeded along with her suite to the French Court at
Rouen, and they were received with great distinction. The Queen-Mother
attained the aim of her visit to France, and returned to Scotland in the
end of November, 1551.In April, 1554, she was proclaimed Regent of
Scotland amid public rejoicings.
Although Earl Marischal joined the Reformation
movement, it appears that he did not approve of extreme measures. He had
won the respect, and even the affection of the Queen-Regent, who on her
death-bed in the Castle of Edinburgh requested an interview with the
leaders of the Reform movement; and the Duke of Chastelherault, the
Marischal, the Earls of Argyle and Glencairn, and Lord James Stewart,
Prior of St Andrews, proceeded to the Castle, and entered her bed-chamber,
and were welcomed by the dying Queen with an expression of kindness which
touched their hearts. She advised them to send both the French and English
armies out of the kingdom: she expressed her grief that matters had been
pushed to such extremities, and ascribed this to the instructions of the
French Cabinet, which she was forced to obey, though she herself would
have been glad to agree to the proposals of the Scottish Lords. She
advised them to adhere to the league with France. Further, she uttered
many touching expressions, and asked pardon of all whom she had in any way
offended, and declared that she herself freely forgave any injuries she
might have received. She embraced and kissed the noblemen one by one, and
extended her hand to those of lower rank, as a token of dying charity. The
barons were deeply moved, and earnestly requested her to send for some
godly and learned man, who might instruct and console her. The following
day she received a visit from John Willock, the Reformed preacher, and she
cheerfully listened to his exhortations. The succeeding day 10th of July,
1560the Queen Regent expired.
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