This name is taken from the lands of primrose
in the parish of Dunfermline. It has been suggested that it originally
came from the old British, "prenn rhos: meaning "tree of the moor.
The Primroses were well settled in Fife,
and particulary around the Abbey of Culross, by the fifteenth century.
Henry Primrose, who was believed to be born sometime prior to 1490, had
four sons and one daughter. Gilbert,his grandson, was one of the Ministers
of the reformed church at Bordeaux,and afterwards of the French church in
London. He was appointed Chaplain to James VI and Charles I, and became
Dean of Windsor in 1628.
Archibald Primrose rallied to the banner of
the Marquess of Montrose after his victory at the battle of Kilsyth. He
was the king's lieutenant at Philiphaugh, where he was captured when the
royal army was surprised by a strong force of cavalry. He was tried and
found guilty of treason, and although his life was spared on the orders of
Argyll, he was held in prison until Montrose was ordered by Charles I to
disband his army and leave the kingdom. Primrose was released and knighted
by the king.
In 1648 he joined in the Engagement, a
scheme to rescue Charles I from the English Parliamentarians, and although
the plan was a failure, he survived to join Charles II on his march into
England in 1651. The king created him a baronet. He fought at the Battle
of Worcaster and after Charles fled into exile, the Primrose estates were
They were restored after the Restoration of
1660, and Primrose was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court and Lord
Clerk Register of Scotland. He took the title, "Lord Carrington" He was
opposed to the policies of John Maitland, Duke of Lauderdale, and resigned
his offices, but he was later to be lord Justice General, from 1676 to
He acquired the barony of Barnbougle and
Dalmeny between Edinburgh and South Queensferry, which remains the seat of
the family to this day.
The Lord Justice General was succeeded by
his son, Sir William Primrose, and his son, Sir James Primrose of
Carrington, was elected Commissioner of Parliament for Edinburgh in 1703.
In November of that year he was elevated to the peerage as Viscount
The second Viscount died unmarried in 1706,
and when his brother, Hugh, the third Viscount, left no issue,the title
lapsed. Archibald Primrose, born in 1664 was the only son by the second
marriage of Sir Archibald, the Lord Justice General, who left to him the
estate of Dalmeny.
He was appointed a Gentleman of the
Bedchamber after the accession of Wiliam and Mary. He was Commissioner of
Parliament for Edinburgh from 1695 to 1700, when he created Viscount of
Rosebery, Lord Primrose and Dalmeny. On the accession of Queen Anne he was
advanced to the rank of earl.
In 1707 he was a Privy Councillor,and was
appointed a commissioner for the Treaty of Union. After the union he was
one of the sixteen peers elected to represent Scotland in the House of
His daughter, Mary, married a cousin, Sir
Archibald Primrose of Dunipace. His son, Jamres, succeeded as second Earl
of Rosebery, but also claimed the dormant family title of Viscount
Primrose. The third Earl was a representative peer, and in 1771 he was
made a Knight of the Thistle. He died in 1814, when he was succeeded by
his son, Archibald John, as fourth Earl of Rosebery. A Member of
Parliament for Hellston and later Carlisle, Primrose was created a baron
of the United Kingdom with the titleof 'Lord Rosebery'in 1828. Like his
father, he was made a Knight of the Thistle(in 1840), and three years
later he was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Linlithgowshire.
The family seat at Dalmeny is of
considerable architectural interest, and houses a splendid collection of
paintings and furniture. although still very much a family home,it is now
open to the public.