Earls and Earldoms of Scotland
Chapter VI - Earldom and Earls of
Findlater, and Seafield
JAMES, FIRST EARL OF FINDLATER—HE JOINED THE COVENANTERS
—HE OBTAINED A NEW PATENT— PATRICK, SECOND EARL OF FINDLATER
— JAMES, THIRD EARL —
HIS FAMILY — JAMES, FOURTH EARL OF FINDLATER AND
FIRST EARL OF SEAFIELD— A DISTINGUISHED NOBLEMAN—SECRETARY OF STATE,
PRESIDENT OF PARLIAMENT, LORD HIGH CHANCELLOR.
IN the early stage of the Covenanting struggle, the
Earl of Findlater appeared in company with the Marquis of Huntly on the
Royal side. But on the 16th of March, 1639, the Marquis published his
Commission of Lieutenancy, and summoned by proclamation all the King’s
loyal subjects, between the ages of 16 and 60, to muster
and meet him at Inverurie on the 25th, with 15
days’ provisions. The Earl of
Findlater failed to appear, and shortly after, he joined the
He was appointed one of the
committee for considering the national debt
in November, 1641; and in 1644,
one of the Committee of the
North for prosecuting those opposed to the
Covenant. In 1645, he was elected a member of
the Committee of Estates —
the body who controlled the
government of the Kingdom when Parliament was not sitting.
In 1641 he received a charter of
the lands of the Earldom from the Crown, and in 1644 he obtained a ratification
of the bailiary of Strathisla.
Earl James having no male issue, obtained a new
patent from Charles I. on the 18th
of October, 1641, which conferred
the succession to the earldom
on his son-in-law, Sir Patrick
Ogilvie of Inchmartin, and to their heirs male.
Accordingly, after the death of Earl James,
Sir Patrick Ogilvie of Inchmartin, in
Perthshire, became second Earl of Findlater. Sir
Patrick’s ancestors had been in possession of the
estate of Inchmartin since the middle of
the 14th century. On the 30th
of May, 1623, he received a commission of justiciary
from the Privy Council to try John Smyth, miller in
Craigdaylie, who had cruelly slain John Morton in Westerton of Inchmartin.
The criminal being apprehended red-handed, he was handed over to Sir
Patrick Ogilvie, who was the lord of them both.
Sir Patrick was a member of the Standing Commission
appointed by the King and the Privy Council on the 18th of July,
1625,for the introduction
of new manufactures into Scotland, and the improvement of the existing
manufactures, especially the woollen manufacture. He was also a Justice of
the Peace for Perthshire and the Stewartries of Menteith and Strathearn.
When he succeeded to the Earldom of Findlater,
and came to the North, he was a firm
supporter of the Royal cause; and, consequently, he was
exempted from pardon by Cromwell, and fined a sum of £1500
Earl Patrick died in 1658, and was
succeeded by his son James, third Earl of Findlater. He
married first Lady Anne Montgomery, only daughter of Hugh, seventh Earl of
Eglinton, by whom he had three sons and one daughter. His eldest son, Lord
Deskford, died before his father, unmarried. His third son, Colonel James
Ogilvie of Lonmay, married Elizabeth, a daughter of Francis Montgomery of
Giffen and had issue. His daughter, Lady Anne, married George Allardyce of
Allardyce, and had issue. Secondly, his lordship
married Lady Mary, a daughter of William, second Duke of Hamilton, by whom
he had no issue.
He died in 1711, and was
succeeded by his eldest surviving son, James, fourth Earl of Findlater. He
was born in 1664. He studied law, and sojourned abroad for a considerable
time completing his education. In 1685 he returned home, and was called to
the Scottish Bar. He was a man of remarkable energy and ability, and soon
attained distinction. He was elected member for the burgh of Cullen to the
Convention of Estates, summoned by William of Orange, which met at
Edinburgh on the 14th of March, 1689. He distinguished himself by a
vigorous speech in favour of King James VII., and he
was one of the five members who dissented from the resolution which
declared the throne of Scotland vacant. Yet his adherence to James VII.
did not prejudice him in the eyes of William of Orange; on the contrary,
he soon became a favourite of the new King. In 1693
he was appointed Solicitor for the Crown and Sheriff of Banff, and also
received the honour of knighthood.
In 1695 he was appointed Secretary of State for
Scotland. He was appointed President of Parliament in 1699, and in the
same year he was created Viscount Seafield. On the 24th
of June, 1701, he was created Earl of Seafield and Viscount
Reidhaven, with remainder in default of direct heirs male, then to heirs
He was appointed Royal Commissioner to the General
Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1700, and he
was thrice reappointed to this high honour. In 1703 he was created a
Knight of the Thistle.
In 1704 he was appointed Lord
High Chancellor of Scotland, and held this office till the Union between
England and Scotland was completed. In 1705 he
was nominated by Queen Anne one of the Scottish
Commissioners to treat with the English Commissioners touching a Union
between England and Scotland. These Commissioners numbered
62,being 31 for England
and 31 for Scotland. They met at Whitehall on the
16th of April, 1706, and sat for three months, discussing and framing the
articles of the important Treaty of Union.
The Earl of Seafield also presided in the session of
the Scottish Parliament which passed and ratified the Treaty of Union.
While he was Lord Chancellor he presided in the Court of Session. As a
Senator of the Supreme Court, it is recorded that he manifested eloquence,
great legal ability, and a remarkable faculty of despatching business.
In 1708 Seafield was appointed
Chief Baron of the Exchequer Court in Scotland, with a salary of £3000
per annum. He was elected one of the sixteen Scottish
Representative Peers in the first Parliament of the United Kingdom of
Great Britain, and he was re-elected to the four succeeding Parliaments.
On the death of his father, in 1711,
he became fourth Earl of Findlater and first Earl of
Seafield. In 1713 he was again appointed High
Chancellor and Keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland.
It is a notable circumstance that the
Earl, who had taken so active a part in promoting the passing of the
Treaty of Union, by his own effort placed it in some danger of being
dissolved. When, in 1713, the Malt Tax was extended
to Scotland, he considered this was an infringement of the Articles of the
Union. And, on the 1st of June, he delivered a vigorous speech in the
House of Lords upon the grievances of the Scottish nation, which he
presented under four heads :—(1)
The abolition of the Privy Council of Scotland: (2)the introduction of the treason laws of England into
Scotland; (3) the
prohibition of the peers of Scotland from being created peers of Great
Britain; (4) the
introduction of the Malt Tax, which would be more oppressive on the
Scottish people now, seeing that it was not imposed on them during the
war, and therefore they had every reason to expect the benefits of peace.
In concluding he said, since the union had not been followed by the
beneficial effects which were expected, he moved that leave should be
given to introduce a bill for dissolving it and securing the Protestant
succession in the House of Hanover, preserving the Queen’s prerogative in
both kingdoms and a good understanding between England and Scotland. A
division was taken on the motion. There were 108 peers present, who were
equally divided—54 in favour of the motion and 54 against it; there were
30 proxies, and 13 voted for the motion and
17 against it. Thus his lordship’s motion was only defeated
by the narrow majority of four votes.
There was a bitter and determined feeling amongst the
great majority of the Scottish people against the Malt Tax. For many
years, in spite of all the efforts of the excise officers, the sum
collected from this tax in Scotland fell short of the expense connected
with it, and not a fraction from the Malt Tax in Scotland reached the
Earl James cleared off all the burdens and debts on the
family estates, and considerably extended the possessions of the house.
He married Anne, daughter of Sir William Dunbar of Durn,
Bart., by whom he had two sons and two daughters. His eldest, daughter,
Lady Elizabeth, married Charles, Earl of Lauderdale, and had issue. Lady
Janet married Hugh Forbes, son and heir-apparent of Sir William Forbes of
Craigievar; secondly, she married William Duff of Braco, afterwards first
His Lordship died in 1730, in the sixty-sixth year of
his age, and was succeeded by his eldest son, James, fifth Earl of
Findlater and second Earl of Seafield.
In 1734 he was elected one of the
representative peers of Scotland to the British Parliament, and he was
re-elected to the three succeeding Parliaments. In 1737
he was advanced to the post of Vice-Admiral of Scotland, an
office which he held for a period of 27
years. He was a loyal and stedfast supporter of the King and the
Government throughout his life.
Indeed, he suffered much loss for his
loyalty in the rising of 1745-6.On the 8th
of April a party of the insurgents arrived at Cullen House and
ransacked it thoroughly. They broke into the rooms and
closets, forced open the presses, trunks, and cabinets, and the big
charter chest. They carried off a number of papers and a great deal of
booty. The Earl estimated the loss which he had suffered from the
insurgents at £8000 sterling, and in a petition to Parliament craved
redress; but there is no evidence that he received anything.
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