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Historic Earls and Earldoms of Scotland
Chapter VI - Earldom and Earls of Findlater, and Seafield
Section II


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 Covenanters.

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 sterling.

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 general.

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 Imperial Exchequer.

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 Earl Fife.

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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