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


JOHN CHARLES GRANT OGILVIE, SEVENTH EARL OF SEAFIELD— A REPRESENTATIVE PEER—CREATED BARON OF STRATHSPEY, GREAT REJ0ICINGS—HE MADE IMPROVEMENTS—HIS MARRIAGE—H1S DEATH—TRIBUTES TO HIS MEMORY—IAN CHARLES GRANT OGILVIE, EIGHTH EARL—REJOICINGS ON ATTAINING HIS MAJORITY—HIS DEATH—JAMES, NINTH EARL—FRANCIS WILLIAM, TENTH EARL—JAMES, ELEVENTH EARL.

IN 1853 the Earl of Seafield was elected one of the representative peers of Scotland to the Imperial Parliament, and he held this position for five years. On the 14th of August, 1858, he was elevated to the Peerage of the United Kingdom under the title of Baron Strathspey of Strathspey. Under this inspiring title he continued to sit in the I-louse of Lords.

When it was announced that this honour had been conferred on the 20th chief of the Grants and seventh Earl of Seafield, there were great rejoicings throughout his wide territories, and many bonfires blazed on the hills of Strathspey. A few verses from a poem composed on the event may be quoted:-

"Why are the hills of proud Strathspey
Crowned with a blaze of light?
Why do the dazzling fires burst forth
Amidst the calm of night?

Is it the beacon’s warning gleam?
Is the invader near?
And doth the land call forth her sons
To aid with sword and spear?

The chieftain of their ancient line
Has won another name—
A title dearer to his clan
Than any he can claim.

The bells are ringing far and near;
The throng came forth to-day,
To render homage to their lord,
The Baron of Strathspey.

His richer in these loyal hearts,
Than in his princely lands,
They’re true and constant as their rock,
Which ever firmly stands.

But now the bonfire’s ruddy glow
Streams all the country o’er,
From Tullochgorum’s lofty heights,
On Freuchie and Craigmore.

On Cromdale’s Hill, on Garten’s crest,
The rival flames ascend,
In honour of the Lord Strathspey,
The chieftain and the friend."

The earl took a warm interest in the welfare of his numerous tenantry, and made extensive improvements on his estates. He erected new farm steadings, encouraged the reclamation of waste land, and made roads. He was an excellent landlord, and won the esteem and affection of his tenants.

He directed special attention to the breeding of Highland cattle, and in this he attained remarkable success. His herd of Highland cattle at Castle Grant was at that time the best in the north of Scotland. He encouraged agricultural and cattle shows, and frequently presided at such meetings.

He planted a considerable extent of ground on his estates, and it was stated that the plantations and woods on the estates in his time extended to upwards of 40,000 acres. He also made many important improvements on Cullen House and its surroundings. During the 27 years which he held the Grant and Seafield estates he expended a sum of over £200,000 sterling on improvements.

He took a keen interest in all questions touching the welfare and progress of the country.

In 1879 he was invested with the Order of the Thistle by the Queen.

On the 12th of August, 1850, he married Lady Caroline Stuart, a daughter of Robert Walter, eleventh Lord Blantyre, by whom he had an only child—Ian Charles Grant Ogilvie.

The Earl died at Cullen House on the 18th of February, 1881. His death was universally regretted. His funeral took place on the 25th and 26th of February, and was attended by a great assemblage of mourners and friends; and his body was laid to rest with his father’s in the mausoleum at Duthil.

"Lord Seafield’s death, before attaining the three score and ten, produced a feeling of mourning, as if for a dear friend, among all parties and classes throughout the counties of the north with which he was more immediately connected by property and residence. We have received—and we doubt not our contemporaries have also received—many communications seeking to give expression to the deep and general sense of loss and bereavement. Elsewhere, too, the tributes of commemoration, due to one whose life has been beneficial to his country and honourable to himself, have been freely bestowed by the organs of public opinion. Not only in the northern counties, where he lived, worked, and was best known, but broad Scotland feels with sorrow that a great chief and noble Scotsman has departed from our midst...."

"Firm as Craigellachie he stood,
Aye holding by the right;
That which was just, and true, and good,
Weighed more with him than might." Amen.

He was succeeded by his only child, Sir Ian Charles Grant Ogilvie, Eighth Earl of Seafield, and Second Baron Strathspey of Strathspey. He was born in Edinburgh on the 7th of October, 1851. He was taught by tutors at home, and afterwards he studied for several years at Eton. He joined the army, and on the 8th of December, 1869, received a cornet’s commission in the 1st Regiment of Life Guards. In 1871 he was promoted to lieutenant; and he retired from the army in 1877.

On the 7th of October, 1872, when he attained his majority, there were great rejoicings throughout the Grant and Seafield estates. On this occasion he received a portrait of himself from the tenants of the Strathspey estates, which was painted by the late Sir Francis Grant. The portrait was presented to his lordship by General Sir Patrick Grant in name of the tenantry.

He died on the 31st of March, 1884, at Claridge’s Hotel, London, unmarried. He bequeathed his estates entirely to his mother, which were valued at £80,000 per annum, but charged with nearly £800,000. On his death, the peerage of the United Kingdom Baron Strathspey of Strathspey became dormant; but the other Scottish titles (without the estates) devolved on James Ogilvie Grant, Ninth Earl of Seafield —the uncle and heir of the preceding Earl.

He was the fourth son of Francis William, sixth earl, and was born on the 27th of December, 1817. He was educated at Harrow; joined the army, and was a captain in the 42nd Foot Regiment. He was elected member of Parliament for Morayshire in 1868, and represented the county for six years. He was Lieutenant-Colonel of the Morayshire volunteers. Shortly after his succession to the title of Earl of Seafield he was created a peer of the United Kingdom as Baron Strathspey of Strathspey, in the counties of Inverness and Moray, on the 17th of June, 1884.

He was thrice married. On the 6th of April, 1841, he married Caroline Louisa, a daughter of Eyre Evans of Askill Towers, county of Limerick: she died on the 6th of February, 1850. Secondly, on the 13th of April, 1853, he married Constance Helena, a daughter of Sir Robert Abercromby, fifth baronet of Birkenbog; she died on the 12th of February, 1872. Thirdly, on the 15th of December, 1875, he married Georgina Adelaide, a daughter of Frederick Nathaniel Walker, K.C.H., Bushey Manor House, Herts.

The Earl died on the 5th of June, 1888, and was interred in the mausoleum at Duthil. His countess survived him, and she is one of the three Dowager Countesses of Seafield now living.

He was succeeded by his eldest son, Francis William Ogilvie Grant, tenth Earl of Seafield and fourth Baron Strathspey of Strathspey. He was born on the 6th of March, 1847, and educated at Harrow. On the 24th of December, 1874, he married Ann Trevor Carry, a daughter of George Thomas Evans, of Otago, in New Zealand. He died suddenly of heart disease on the 3rd of December, 1888, at his residence in Oarvarn, New Zealand, and was interred there. His widow, who was born on the 24th of July, 1847, is still living.

He was succeeded by his eldest son, James Ogilvie Grant, eleventh Earl of Seafield, Viscount Reidhaven, Lord Ogilvie of Deskford and Cullen, and Fifth Baron of Strathspey. He was born on the 18th of April, 1876. His lordship is a young man of great promise, and it may be hoped that there is a bright future before him. If he should return to the home of his fathers, he would receive a hearty Highland welcome.

The address which was presented to him in New Zealand on the occasion of attaining his majority, emphatically showed the respect and esteem in which this ancient and honorable family is still held in Strathspey and the North of Scotland, notwithstanding all adverse eventualities and circumstances.

In 1883 the family estates consisted of 160,224 acres in Inverness-shire, 96,760 acres in Morayshire, and 48,946 acres in Banffshire—making a total of 305,930 acres.


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