Earls and Earldoms of Scotland
Chapter VI - Earldom and Earls of
Findlater, and Seafield
SIR LEWIS ALEXANDER GRANT OF GRANT,
FIFTH EARL OF SEAFIELD, VISCOUNT REIDHAVEN, AND LORD OGILVIE OF DESKFORD
AND CULLEN—HIS DEATH—SIR FRANCIS WILLIAM, SIXTH EARL OF SEAFIELD—A MEMBER
OF PARLIAMENT—A KIND LANDLORD—CULLEN HOUSE— IMPROVEMENTS — REBUILDING THE
TOWN OF CULLEN — A REPRESENTATIVE PEER — HIS DEATH—SIR JOHN CHARLES,
SEVENTH EARL OF SEAFIELD.
Sir James Grant was succeeded
by his eldest son, Sir Lewis Alexander Grant, a grandson of Margaret
Ogilvie, and heir of the Earl of Findlater and Seafield. He was born on
the 22nd of March, 1767. He studied for the bar, and entered the
University of Edinburgh in 1784, and attended the requisite course. In
1789 he was called to the Scottish Bar. His first appearance in the Court
of Session made a favourable impression on the presiding judge, as noticed
in a preceding section.
In 1790 he was elected member of
Parliament for the county of Elgin. He made his first speech in the House
of Commons on the impeachment of Warren Hastings, and supported the
constitutional side of the question. His speech received the attention and
applause of the House. But, unhappily, in the succeeding year his health
began to fail, and he was forced to retire from public life.
On the death of the Seventh Earl of
Findlater and Fourth Earl of Seafield in 1811, the title of Earl of
Findlater, which was limited to direct male heirs, became extinct; but the
title of Earl of Seafield, and the other titles created by the patent of
1701, and all the estates of the earldom, devolved on Sir Lewis Alexander
Grant of Grant, Bart., who accordingly succeeded as Fifth Earl of Seafield,
Viscount Reidhaven, and Lord Ogilvie of Deskford and Cullen.
After his succession to the estates
of Grant and the title and estates of Seafield, it appears that he lived
in retirement with his sisters at Grant Lodge in Elgin, and occasionally
visited the other seats of his wide territories. His brother, Col. Francis
William Grant, was intrusted with the management of the earl’s estates.
The earl died at Cullen House on the
26th of October, 1840, in his 74th year, and, leaving no issue, he was
succeeded by his brother, Colonel Sir Francis William Grant of Grant,
Bart. and Sixth Earl of Seafield.
He was born on the 6th of March,
1778. He entered the army at the early age of 15, and obtained his
first commission as lieutenant in the Strathspey Fencibles, raised by his
In 1802 he was elected member of
Parliament for the Elgin and Banff district of burghs, which he
represented for four years. In 1806 he was elected member of Parliament
for the Inverness Burghs; in the following year he was elected member for
the county of Elgin, which he represented till 1832.
In 1833 he was elected member of Parliament for the united counties of
Elgin and Nairn, which he continued to represent until 1840,
when he succeeded to the Earldom of Seafield. Thus he was a
member of Parliament for 38 years; and in politics he was a Conservative
of a mild type.
He was a very considerate and kind landlord, and was
much respected by the tenantry throughout the extensive estates of Grant
and Seafield. He made great and successful efforts to improve his estates
and the welfare of his numerous tenants. It is recorded that under his
direction 8223 acres had been planted with Scotch
firs, larch, and hardwoods on his territories of Seafield, Strathspey,
Moray and Glen Urquhart.
The earl enlarged Cullen House, and rearranged and
greatly extended the pleasure grounds around the mansion. New gardens and
hothouses were formed and admirably stocked. New avenues and walks were
made, ponds were formed, and many thousands of young trees, ornamental
plants, and shrubs were planted. Thus Cullen House and its surroundings
was rendered a charming residence.
He also directed attention to, and made special efforts
to improve, the harbours of Cullen and Portsoy. The harbour of Cullen was
reconstructed, enlarged, and deepened at a cost of £10,000. On the harbour
of Portsoy a sum of £17,000 was expended.
Further, in his time the town of Cullen was almost
rebuilt on a new site, mainly through the earl’s efforts. "In 1813
the town occupied a position more to the west, and royal
burgh though it was, presented a miserable contrast as regards
cleanliness, comfort, and indeed, in every respect to the present handsome
town. The entire burgh consisted only of one street, towards which the
gables of the houses (mostly covered with thatch), were turned, while
noxious gutters yawned on either side. The place was also poor.
. . . Under the auspices of his
lordship, the old town was gradually removed, and on the present site
there was laid out a new town, consisting of a handsome square and several
spacious streets, crossing each other at right angles.
. . . Building proceeded rapidly,
until the burgh attained its present appearance, which, as respects
architectural elegance and cleanliness, may vie with any town in the
North." The first house was erected in 1820, and by
1830 the old town was removed and the new one
It is said that the decay in the linen manufacture had
led to the decay of the town. This offered an opportunity for improving
the amenities of Cullen House. The earl usually resided at Cullen House,
and his improvements, enterprise, and expenditure in the locality tended
to promote the prosperity of the people.
On the 5th of August, 1841, he
was elected one of the representative peers of Scotland to the Imperial
Parliament, and he held this position till his death. He was a supporter
of Sir Robert Peel in the early part of that statesman’s career; but, like
a number of others, he seceded from Sir Robert at a later period.
The earl was twice married. He married first, on the
10th of May, 1811, Mary Anne, only daughter of John Charles Dunn of Higham
House, Sussex, by whom he had six sons and one daughter. She died on the
27th of February, 1840.
Secondly, he married Louisa Emma, a daughter of Robert George Maunsell, of
Limerick, in 1843, by whom he had no issue.
His lordship died at Cullen House on the 30th of July,
1853, in his 76th year, and was interred at Duthil Parish Church. His
funeral was a public one and was attended by a large number of people. I
will quote a few sentences from a notice of his death which appeared in
the "Banffshire Journal," on the 2nd August, 1853
:—" He instinctively recoiled
from severe measures; and even when these would have been necessary, and
where prudence might have counselled a resort to them, his lordship
invariably refused to adopt them. The consequence was, that throughout his
wide estates no nobleman was more truly beloved by his tenantry, who felt
that they could always rely upon his indulgence. A prominent feature of
his character was his love of justice and respect for his word
. . . . He was ever conscious of the
responsibility of his high position, and sought consistently to perform
its duties . . . . In person, he was tall and of
a commanding appearance. His disposition was gentle, and his manners
retiring. His attainments in knowledge were of a high order, and tempered
and modified by an enlarged practical acquaintance with the world and with
human nature, acquired not merely at home, but during frequent residences
for lengthened periods in various countries on the continent. These
qualities rendered his conversation peculiarly fascinating."
He was succeeded by his eldest surviving son, Sir John
Charles Grant Ogilvie, Seventh Earl of Seafield. He was born on the 4th of
September, 1814 He joined the navy as a midshipman at the age of 15, and
served for some time on board the ship commanded by Sir John Franklin.
After the death of his eldest brother in 1840, he retired from the navy,
and by his father’s succession to the Earldom of Seafield, he had the
courtesy title of Lord Reidhaven and Master of Grant.
In 1841, Lord Reidhaven contested the representation of
Banffshire against Mr. James Duff, afterwards Fifth Earl of Fife. Lord
Reidhaven came forward as a Conservative, and fought the election with
remarkable energy and vigour. The contest was very keen, but Duff carried
the seat by a majority of 43 votes.