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Historic Earls and Earldoms of Scotland
Chapter V - Keiths, Great Marischals of Scotland, and Earl Marischals
Section V


WILLIAM, SEVENTH EARL MARI5cHAL—LIBERATED FROM PRISONHIS DEATH—GEORGE, EIGHTH EARL—HIS DEATH— WILLIAM, NINTH EARL—AN OPPONENT OF THE UNION— GEORGE, TENTH EARL—HE JOINED MAR’S RISING—EARL MARISCHAL ABROAD—SKETCH OF THE CAREER OF FIELD-MARSHAL KEITH.

WHEN the Restoration came, in 1660, Earl Marischal was liberated from the Tower of London. Charles II., appointed him a member of the Privy Council, and in other ways conferred on him many marks of respect.

The Marischal married Elizabeth, a daughter of George, Earl of Winton, by whom he had four daughters :—Lady Mary married Sir James Hope of Hopetoun; Lady Elizabeth married Robert, Viscount Arbuthnott; Lady Jane married George, Lord Banff; and Lady Isabel married Sir Edward Turner, an English Baronet.

He died at Inverugie in 1661, and was succeeded by his brother, George, eighth Earl Marischal. He married Lady Mary Hay, a daughter of George, Earl of Kinnoull, by whom he had an only son.

Earl George was a man of much energy, and had suffered a long period of exile on account of his adherence to the cause of Charles II. He was one of the members of the Commission appointed by Parliament to visit the Scottish Universities in 1690. He was one of the committee selected to make inquisition of the University of Aberdeen; and this committee met at King’s College on the 15th of October, 1690. Professor Garden declined to recognise their jurisdiction, appealed to the General Assembly, and refused to sign the Confession of Faith.

The Marischal died at Inverugie in 1694, and was succeeded by his son, William, ninth Earl Marischal. He was an exceedingly kind and open-handed nobleman.

On the 8th of August, 1700, he endowed a Chair of Medicine in Marischal College—" Taking into our consideration the weal, utility, and profit of our said College, and resolving to advance and promote the good thereof, and to encourage the profession and teaching of all sciences therein."

He was a firm opponent of the Union between England and Scotland, and entered a protest against it in the following terms :—" I do hereby protest that whatever is contained in any article of the Treaty of Union between Scotland and England shall in no way derogate from, or be prejudicial to, me or my successors in our heritable office of Great Marischal of Scotland, in all time coming, or in the full possession and exercise of the whole rights, dignities, powers, and privileges thereto belonging, which my ancestors and I have possessed and exercised as rights of property these 700 years. And I do further protest that the Parliament of Scotland and constitution thereof may remain and continue as heretofore. And I desire that this my protestation may be inserted in the minutes and records of the books of Parliament."

In 1710 he was elected one of the Representative Peers of Scotland.

He married Lady Mary, a daughter of James Drummond, Earl of Perth, and High Chancellor of Scotland, by whom he had two sons and two daughters:—Lady Mary married John, Earl of Wigton; and Lady Anne married Alexander, Earl of Galloway.

He died on the 27th of May, 1712, and was succeeded by his eldest son, George, tenth Earl Marischal.

In the reign of Queen Ann; Earl Marischal was appointed Captain of Her Majesty’s Guards. After the accession of George I. he was removed from his post. He had doubtless taken offence at this treatment, being a young and high-spirited nobleman; while his mother was a daughter of the Earl of Perth, one of the great Jacobite families, and no doubt she had influenced the action of her sons. Accordingly the Marischal joined Mar’s rising with a troop of horse, mostly raised in Buchan; and his only brother, James Francis Edward Keith, also joined the rising.

On the 20th of September, 1715, Earl Marischal, accompanied by a number of noblemen, entered Aberdeen and proceeded to the Cross and there proclaimed the accession of James VIII. to the throne of his ancestors. The depute-sheriff read the proclamation, at night the city was illuminated, and the bells of St. Nicholas Tower were rung in honour of the new king. On the succeeding day, Earl Marischal and his party were hospitably entertained by the members of the Incorporated Trades; and in the afternoon they accompanied him to his mansion of Inverugie. The professors and regents of the two colleges were nearly all Jacobites; but the magistrates were inclined to continue loyal to the Government. The majority of the citizens of Aberdeen of that day, however, appear to have been Jacobites, and they took the command of the city.

Earl Marischal returned to Aberdeen on the 28th of September, and arrangements were immediately made for the election of a Jacobite Town Council. In the new Church of St. Nicholas a head court of the burgh was held, and the election of a council proceeded. Those nominated by Earl Marischal were installed in the offices, and Patrick Bannerman assumed the functions of Lord Provost of the city in the name of James VIII.

On the 2nd of October the kirking of the new council came off in the West Church, in which the King’s loft was. Special care was taken to place well-disposed ministers in the pulpits. In the forenoon Dr George Gordon officiated, in the afternoon the Rev. Robert Blair preached, and both of them prayed for King James.

Earl Marischal commanded two squadrons of cavalry at the battle of Sheriffmuir. His brother James was wounded in this engagement; and shortly after he made his escape to France. On the failure of the rising, the Marischal also escaped to France; but he was attainted, and his estates forfeited to the Crown.

Cardinal Alberoni was at the head of the Government of Spain, and promised to declare war against England. Spain recognised the Pretender as King of Great Britain; and the Cardinal undertook to land a force in Scotland. Earl Marischal and his brother were invited to serve in the Spanish army. A fleet consisting of ten ships of war was equipped, and a number of transports, which had on board a force of about 6000 men, many of whom were Irish. The fleet sailed for Scotland on the 7th of March, 1719, and the Duke of Ormond had command of the expedition, as captain-general for the King of Spain.

But a storm off Cape Finisterre dissipated the Spanish fleet, and only a small force effected a landing in the Western Highlands, and a few Seaforth Highlanders joined them. Earl Marischal intended to surprise Inverness and capture it; but the Government was well prepared, and the capital of the Highlands was defended by loyal troops. The small army took up a position in the pass of Glenshiel, and attempted to make a stand. They were soon attacked by the Government troops, driven from height to height, and defeated. Earl Marischal and other officers retired to the Western Isles, and after lying concealed for some time, he escaped to Spain. He resided a number of years in Spain, and was sometimes employed in the service of the Spanish Government. In 1745 he left Spain and visited Vienna. Shortly after, he went to Prussia, where he was kindly received and employed by Frederick the Great

This seems to be the proper place to present a brief sketch of the remarkable career of Earl Marischal’s brother, James Francis Edward Keith—Field-Marshal, and one amongst the greatest men of his time in Europe He was born in the Castle of Inverugie, in the parish of St Fergus, Aberdeenshire, in 1696. As stated in a preceding paragraph, he joined the rising of 1715, and, after the battle of Sheriffmuir, escaped to France. For some time he studied military tactics in Paris. He went to Spain in 1719, and joined the Spanish army, in which he attained the rank of colonel. But on account of his religion (being a Protestant) there was little hope of further promotion in the Spanish army. Accordingly he resolved to seek another country where military abilities and personal merit alone would determine the rank of an officer.

Colonel Keith fixed his mind on Russia, and only requested the court of Madrid to give him a recommendation to the court of St Petersburg, which was readily granted. He arrived in Russia in 1729, and immediately received the brevet of major-general. He soon gained the favour of the young Emperor Peter II., who gave him a lieutenant-colonel’s commission in a newly raised regiment of guards. Shortly after, he was made colonel of the regiment.

The revolution, which occurred in Russia in 1730, did not effect Keith’s promotion. After the death of Peter II., Anne, a daughter of Ivan IV., was made Empress, and she was very favourable to Colonel Keith.

In 1733 the election of a King of Poland caused a war, in which Russia took the side of Augustus, a son of the late King, against Stanislaus. General Lacy (a Scotchman) was ordered to enter Lithuania with a Russian army. On the 12th of September, Stanislaus was elected King, and the Russian troops then advanced into Poland. Keith served under his distinguished countryman General Lacy, who had complete confidence in him. The Russian army forced Stanislaus and his followers to abandon Warsaw on the 22nd of September. On the 5th of October, Augustus was elected King of Poland, and on the 10th Lacy and his army entered Warsaw. Fifteen thousand men were left in Poland; while Lacy marched into Prussia with the main body of the army. Dantzic and other towns were besieged. On the 7th of July, 1734, Dantzic surrendered on terms. Keith greatly distinguished himself at this siege; and in November he was made a lieutenant-general.


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