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The Scottish Nation

COLVILLE, a surname derived from Colvile, a castle on a hill, col in old French meaning hill, and vile a castle. A town in Normandy, whence the race originally sprung, is still called Colville.

      The original ancestor of the Colvilles, Gilbert de Colavilla, de Colville, or Colvyle, accompanied William the Conqueror, when he came over to England, and he and his descendants acquired various possession in that country. An account of the English Colvilles is given by Dugdale in his Baronage, vol. i. page 626. He does not, however, mention the origin of the family. The first noticed by him is Philip de Colville, in the reign of King Stephen. About that time a branch of them settled in Scotland, and founded a house which produced the two noble lines of Colville of Culross and Colville of Ochiltree, both barons in the peerage of Scotland. The latter title, however, has been dormant since the death of David, the fourth lord, in 1782.


COLVILLE OF CULROSS, lord, in the peerage of Scotland, a title possessed by a family, the first of whom in North Britain was Philip de Colville in the twelfth century. Along with Robert, bishop of St. Andrews and others, he was witness to a general confirmation by King Malcolm the Fourth of all donations made by his predecessors to the monastery of Dunfermline before 1159, in which year Robert died; also, another by the same monarch of several donations to the priory of St. Andrews in 1160. He was one of the hostages for the release of King William the Lion from captivity in 1174. The first possessions which he obtained in Scotland were Heton and Oxenhame (now Oxnam) in the county of Roxburgh. He also acquired lands in various parts of the country, particularly in Ayrshire.

      His son, Thomas de Colville, is witness to several charters of King William the Lion betwixt 1189 and 1199. In 1210, being unjustly suspected of a conspiracy against that monarch, he was imprisoned in the castle of Edinburgh, but was liberated after six months’ confinement and received again into favour. On the 28th April 1214, a discharge was granted by King John to William de Harcourt of several hostages put into his majesty’s hands, among others Thomas de Colville and Gervase Avenel, obsides regis Scotiae. He died in 1219. By Amabilia his wife he had a son, William de Colville, who granted to the monks of Newbattle, the lands which belonged to his father “super le Ness.” He settled at Morham under William the Lion. He was proprietor of the barony of Kinnaird in Stirlingshire, as appears from a lease granted by him of part of these lands to the abbot and convent of Holyroodhouse, confirmed by King Alexander the Second, 15th September 1228. Eustace, the heiress of Sir William Colville of Oxnam, who possessed also the lands of Ochiltree in Ayrshire, married Sir Reginald Chene of Inverugie, who died soon after 1291, an aged man. She survived her husband, and having sworn fealty to Edward the First in 1296, she had livery of her lands in the shires of Aberdeen, Ayr, Banff, Forfar, Inverness and Kincardine. This lady, according to the Remarks on the Ragman Roll, in ‘Nisbet’s Heraldry,’ (appendix, vol. ii. page 27) was the heiress of the principal house of Colville.

      In the reign of Alexander the Third Sir John Colville was proprietor of Oxnam and Ochiltree. In 1296 Thomas de Colville swore fealty to King Edward the First, as did also Adam de Colville. During the reign of Robert the First, Eustace de Colville granted to the monks of Melrose the church of Ochiltree with all its pertinents, a grant which was confirmed by a charter from Robert de Colville, dominus de Oxnam, designed also Baro baroniae de Ochiltree, in 1324. [Great Chartulary of Melrose.] This Robert, who is also witness to a donation to the monastery of Kelso in 1350, had a charter of the barony of Ochiltree in Ayrshire from King David the Second. Among the charters of that monarch are two to Duncan Wallace and Malcolm Wallace of the lands of Oxenham, and lands in the county of Dumfries, forfeited by Robert Colvill. The family, however, retained the title of Oxnam till the reign of King James the First, when they assumed the designation of Ochiltree, and were among the greatest barons below the degree of lords of parliament in the kingdom.

      Robert Colville of Oxenham, probably the son of the above Robert, is witness to a charter of John Turnbull of Myntou (Minto), to Sir William Stewart of Jedworth (Jedburgh), his grandson, of the lands of Myntou, 8th December 1390, which was also witnessed by his son, Thomas Colville of Oxenham. This Thomas had been witness to a charter of Margaret countess of Douglas and Mar in 1384, and in the reign of King Robert the Third granted a charter to Henry Preston of his part of Formertein (Formartyn) in Aberdeenshire, with the castle and tolls of the burgh of Fyvie. He was one of the numerous train of knights and esquires who in 1436 attended Margaret of Scotland into France, on her marriage with Louis the Dauphin.

      Robert de Colville of Oxenham was one of the hostages for King James the First, in room of Robert Stewart, allowed to return home, 22d June 1432. In the year 1449, Sir Richard Colville, knight, according to Balfour, (a mistake evidently for Sir Robert Colville,) set upon John Auchinleck, a familiar friend of the earl of Douglas, and slew him with several of his friends, on account of certain wrongs and injuries done to him by the former, which had remained unredressed, although reparation had frequently been required from him for the same. To avenge Auchinleck’s fate, Douglas collected his retainers, and after pillaging all the lands belonging to Colville, besieged and took his castle and put him and all that were with him to the sword. Robert Colville married Margaret Colville, by whom he had a son, Sir Robert de Colville, who had a charter of the barony of Uchiltree, 26th May, 1441, on his father’s resignation, and another to himself and Christina de Crichton, daughter of Sir Robert Crichton of Sanquhar, knight, of the barony of Uchiltree, 16th February 1450-1. He and Andrew Ker of Auldtounburn entered into an indenture binding themselves to stand by, assist, and defend one another against all mortals, the king and the earl of Douglas excepted, dated at Jedburgh 10th June 1453. He gave in a complaint to the lords auditors concerning the wrongous occupation of the lands of Maxtoun, belonging to him, and got a decree in his favour, 17th October 1467. As heir of his father, he was pursued before the lords auditors by Sir John Achilike (Auchinleck) of that ilk, knight, for withholding from him sixty-five marks, contained in an obligation of his father, for himself and his heirs, to the deceased James Auchinleck, father of Sir John, and decreet was given against him, 18th July 1476. He was succeeded by his son, Sir William Colville of Ochiltree, knight. Chalmers, in his Caledonia, mentions, “that, as early as the year 1498 there had been a feud between Hugh Campbell of Loudoun, the sheriff of Ayr, and Sir William Colville of Uchletree, knight,” when the king granted an exemption to Sir William Colville and his tenants and servants from the jurisdiction of Hugh Campbell and his deputies, “because it was notoriously known that there is a deadly feud betwixt them.” Sir William died in 1508-9, leaving two daughters his coheiresses, Elizabeth, who married Robert Colville, son and heir of William Colville of Ravenscraig, without issue; and Margaret, said to have been married to Patrick Colquhoun of Drumskeath, nephew of the laird of Luss. The names of the daughters seem by some mistake to have been exchanged, for in the public registers there are two charters to Patrick Colquhoun of Drumskeath and Elizabeth (not Margaret) Colville his wife, of date 12th July 1527 and 8th February 1531-2. They had an only daughter and heiress, Frances or Francesca, married to Robert Colville of Cleish, ancestor of the Lords Colville of Ochiltree, of whom afterwards.

      Robert Colville of Hilton, the heir-male of the family, had the office of steward to Margaret, queen of James the Third, and had a charter from that monarch to himself, senescallo Margaretae Reginae, and Margaret Logan his wife, of the lands of Hilton, in the barony of Tillcoultry, in the county of Clackmannan, 10th October 1483. He appears to have joined actively the party of King James the fourth against his father, as six days after his accession to the throne the office of director of the chancery was conferred on him by royal charter 17th June 1488. He obtained charters of various lands in Ayrshire, Clackmannanshire, and Roxburghshire, from August 1502 to April 1508; and 10th April 1509 he had a charter of half of the lands and barony of Ochiltree, with the castle, Barnwell and Symontoun, and thereafter was styled of Ochiltree. He fell with his royal master at the battle of Flodden 9th September 1513. In his Caledonia, Chalmers says, “After the disastrous battle of Flodden, many violent acts were committed in Scotland, particularly in the south. In Ayrshire, the strong houses of Cumnock and Uchletree were both violently taken possession of; their owners having fallen on Flodden Field.” This Robert Colville was twice married; first to Margaret Logan; and, secondly, to Elizabeth, daughter and coheiress of Walter Arnot of Balbarton, and had two sons, James and Robert.

      Sir James Colville of Ochiltree, the elder son, was appointed to the office of comptroller before 1527. In that year he granted an annual rent of ten pounds for the support of a chaplain, to officiate at St. Mary’s altar in the church of Ochiltree, and the grant was confirmed by the king in 1527-8. In 1530, he exchanged the lands of Ochiltree with Sir James Hamilton of Finnart, a natural son of James first earl of Arran, for the barony of East Wemyss and Lochorshyre in fife, and obtained a charter of the same in December of that year. In 1528 he had been appointed a director of the chancery. He was one of the commissioners of parliament on the 24th April and 13th May 1531, 15th December 1535, and 29th April 1536. He was nominated lord of the articles on 13th May 1532 and 7th June 1535, and on the same day was chosen by the barons one of their commissioners for the taxation of six thousand pounds, granted by the three estates to King James the Sixth on his approaching marriage.

      At the first institution of the college of justice, 25th May 1532, Sir James Colville of Easter Wemyss, as he was now designed, was appointed one of the judges on the temporal side of the bench. He was one of the commissioners at the truce of Newcastle, on the 1st October 1533, shortly previous to which date he had been knighted, and in the following year he was again sent to England to treat of peace. He lost the king’s favour and brought on his own ruin, by siding with the Douglases.

      In 1538 the comptroller’s place was taken from him and conferred on David Wood of Craig, and on 30th May 1539, a summons of treason was executed against him, charging him with having, on the 14th of July 1528, when comptroller, director of the chancery, and a privy councillor, made a pretended assignation of the ward, relief, and marriage of John Kennedy of Culzean, to certain individuals, for the benefit of Archibald Douglas of Kilspindy, although he knew that a summons of treason against the latter had been at that time executed; and further, with having afforded treasonable assistance and counsel to the earl of Angus, and keeping a treasonable convocation with his brother George Douglas at Newcastle. He appeared personally in parliament 18th July 1539, to answer the summons, and the king’s advocate having passed from the latter charges, he submitted himself, as to the former, “to the king’s will,” as the phrase was in those days of arbitrary power. On the 21st August he was ordered to enter himself in ward in the castle of Blackness. This order he disobeyed, and retiring to England, associated with “Archibald sum tyme earl of Anguiss, and George Donglace, his broder-german, his grace’s rebellis, and traitouris, traitand with yame ye destructioune of his grace, his lieges and realme.” This rash and treasonable proceeding, however, he did not long survive, having died previous to the 10th of January 1541, on which day a summons was executed against his widow and children, to see and hear that “the said deceased James Colville, while he lived, had incurred the crime of lese-majesty, for his disobedience to enter himself in ward, as just mentioned.” He was accordingly forfeited on the 15th March 1541. His estate was annexed to the crown, but was afterwards given to Norman Leslie of the family of Rothes. The forfeiture was rescinded in parliament on 12th December 1543, under the direction of Cardinal Bethune, which so offended the Leslies that, according to Father Hay, it was the proximate cause of his murder by Norman Leslie. [Hay’s Memoirs, MS., vol. ii. p. 108.] Sir James Colville married, first, Alison, eldest daughter of Sir David Bruce of Clackmannan; secondly, Margaret Forrester, who survived him. Besides other children, he had a son, James, and two daughters; Margaret, married to James Lindsay of Dowhill, Kinross-shire, and Alison, mentioned in the records of parliament, 1540. He had likewise two natural sons, specified in the charter of Easter Wemyss, dated in 1530-1; namely, Robert, ancestor of the Lords Colville of Ochiltree, and James, who had a charter of the lands of Crummy, 31st May 1565.

      Sir James Colville, his legitimate son, was only eight years of age at his father’s death. His father’s forfeiture, as already stated, was rescinded by parliament 12th December 1543 in his favour, and he had a charter of the lands of Easter Wemyss in 1554. He died in 1580. By his wife, Janet, second daughter of Sir Robert Douglas of Lochleven, sister of William, sixth earl of Morton, he had two sons; Sir James, and Alexander, commendator of Culross and a lord of session, who carried on the line of the family, of whom afterwards.

      Sir James Colville of Easter Wemyss, the elder son, first Lord Colville of Culross, served with much reputation in the French wars, under Henry of Navarre, afterwards Henry the Fourth of France. On Friday 27th July 1582, he returned to Scotland in company of Francis Stewart, earl of Bothwell, bringing letters from the king of Navarre and prince of Conde to King James. He was one of those who were engaged in the raid of Ruthven, on the 22d August following, and his name appears among others in the sentence of forfeiture afterwards passed against the members of the raid. They subsequently got a remission from the king, which was confirmed by the estates. He had a charter of the manor of Culross, Valleyfield, &c., erected into the temporal barony of Culross, 20th June 1589, but was not designed Lord Culross. Having obtained a grant of the landed property of the Cistercian abbey of Culross, on the resignation of his nephew, John, they were erected into a temporal lordship, and Sir James Colville was created a peer, by the title of Lord Colville of Culross, to him and the heirs male of his body, which failing, to his heirs male whatsoever, 20th January 1609. In Carmichael’s Tracts the date of his creation is fixed at 25th April 1604, and Lord Colvil of Culross is, in the list of the nobility settled by the decreet of ranking, 5th May 1606, placed before the Lord Scoon.

      According to the Old Statistical Account of Scotland, (vol. xv. page 212), after his return from France, he resided at Tilliecoultry, in Clackmannanshire, that estate being in the Colvill family from 1483 to 1634, when it was sold to William Alexander of Menstrie, afterwards earl of Stirling, the distinguished poet. In his old age, Lord Colville revisited the French court. As he appeared in the old-fashioned military dress, which he had formerly worn in the wars, the courtiers were all amazed when he entered the royal presence. But no sooner did King Henry observe the old warrior than he clasped him in his arms, and embraced him with the greatest affection, to the utter astonishment of all present. In his latter years Lord Colville spent much of his time at Tilliecoultry. He was particularly fond of walking on a beautiful terrace, at the north end of the Kirkhill, and of reposing himself under a thorn-tree, the venerable truck of which still remains. It unfortunately happened that standing one day on a stone, and looking up to the thorn-tree, describing his battles, he fell down the sloping bank of the terrace, and it is sais was killed on the spot in the year 1620. His lordship was twice married, first, to Isabel, second daughter of Patrick, Lord Ruthven, sister of William, first earl of Gowrie, and secondly to Helen Shaw, relict of Robert Moubray, younger of Barnbougle. By his first wife only he had issue; namely, two sons, James and Robert, who both died before their father; and a daughter, Jane, married to Sir James Campbell of Lawers, and the mother of John, earl of Loudoun, lord high chancellor of Scotland

      Robert, master of Colville, the second son, had charters of the barony of Easter Wemyss in 1598, and on his death in 1615, he left a son, James, second Lord Colville of Culross, who succeeded his grandfather, the first lord, in 1620, and died, without issue, in 1640. His cousin, John Colville of Westercumbrie, son of Alexander Colville commendator of Culross, younger brother of the first Lord Colville, fell heir to the title, but id not assume it, and it remained dormant till May 1723, when it was taken up by his descendant as after mentioned. About the period of the death of James second Lord Colville the lands of Easter Wemyss were purchased by John first earl of Wemyss, and joined to the barony of Wemyss, after a separation of two hundred years.

      We now revert to Alexander Colville, abbot or commendator of Culross, who was the second son of Sir James Colville of Easter Wemyss, above mentioned. He had a charter for all the days of his life, of the abbey of Culross, 4th February 1566-7, and it was declared by act of secret council, 20th January 1574, that five hundred marks only should be paid by him for the thirds of this benefice. He adhered to the party of King James the Sixth, in the civil wars in Scotland of the sixteenth century, and during the regency of the earl of Morton was appointed one of the judges of the court of session, before the 20th October 1575. On the 15th July 1578, a commission was appointed by parliament to “visit, sycht, and consider” the laws, of which he was named a member; and he was at the same time constituted one of the parliamentary arbiters to stanch a deadly feud then existing between the great families of Gordon and Forbes, to the decision of which the ordinary judicatories were deemed unequal. On 11th November 1579, he was named a privy councillor by act of parliament, and was also appointed a lord of the articles, and a commissioner for settling the jurisdiction of the church. He was present at Holyrood House on the 19th October 1582, when James was forced to emit a declaration approving of the raid of Ruthven, but he does not appear to have taken any very prominent share in that enterprize. In 1585, after the return of Hamilton, Angus, and the other banished lords, he was again chosen a privy councillor with advice of parliament. In the end of May 1587, on account of illness he resigned his seat on the bench, and on the first of June, his nephew, John Colville, precentor or chanter of Glasgow, was appointed in his place. This transaction appears to have been only a family arrangement, as on the 21st of the same month of June, the uncle, having in the meantime recovered his health, made his appearance in court, with his nephew, when the latter dutifully resigned his seat on the bench, which he had held only nineteen days, and the former was re-appointed. In 1592, the commission for reformation of hospitals was revived, the commendator of Culross being again appointed a member. He died in 1597, it is supposed in May, as his successor was appointed on the 24th of that month. Lord Culross collected the decisions of the court of session from 1570 to 1584. By his wife, Nicolas, daughter of Alexander Dundas of Fingask, he had, with two daughters, two sons, John of Wester Cumbrie, and Alexander, professor of divinity in the university of St. Andrews, and appointed justice depute 2d June 1607. Of John Colville, chanter of Glasgow, above mentioned, an account is given below.    

      John Colville of Wester Cumbrie, elder son of Alexander Colville, commendator of Culross, became of right, in the death of his cousin in 1640, third baron, but he did not assume the title; and he died shortly afterwards. By his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John Melville of Hallhill, he had three sons, His eldest son, Alexander Colville of Kincardine, of right fourth Lord Colville of Culross, like his father, did not assume the title. He was professor of divinity at Sedan in France, and by his wife, Ann le Blanc, had two sons. The elder, John Colville of Kincardine, who also declined to assume the title of Lord Colville, married Mary, second daughter of Sir George Preston of Valleyfield, baronet, by whom he had two sons, and was succeeded by the elder, Alexander, by right sixth baron, who likewise declined the title. By his wife, Mary, daughter of the Hon. Sir Charles Erskine of Cambo, baronet, lord lyon king at arms, a younger brother of the second and third earls of Kellie, he had five sons and six daughters.

      John Colville, the eldest son, of right seventh Lord Colville of Culross, was an ensign at the battle of Malplaquet in 1709. On 2d April 1722 he was served heir to John second Lord Colville of Culross; and at the general election on the 21st of that month, he requested to be added to the roll of peers, but was refused on the ground that the peerage was not upon the roll at the time of the Union. Next year he presented a petition to the king, under the designation of “John Lord Colville of Culross,” claiming the peerage. Being referred to the House of Lords, 27th May 1723, the claim was determined in his favour, and his lordship was accordingly placed on the roll, after Lord Cardross and before Lord Cranston. In 1727 Lord Colville was an officer in the 26th regiment of foot or Cameronians, at the siege of Gibraltar, and the same year was promoted to a company of the 25th foot. In 1739, when war was declared against Spain, his lordship was appointed, with the rank of lieutenant-colonel, to the command of a battalion in Colonel Gooch’s American regiment, and in 1741 proceeded to Carthagena, where he fell a victim to the epidemic disease so fatal to thousands, on board a transport in the harbour, in April 1741, in the 52d year of his age. When in Ireland in 1716, his lordship married a Miss Johnston, by whom he had six sons and three daughters.

      His next brother, the Hon. Charles Colville, born in 1691, was a distinguished officer in the army, and commenced his military career as a cadet at the battle of Malplaquet in 1709. In the following year he had an ensign’s commission in the 26th or Cameronian regiment of foot, in which also his elder brother was an officer. In 1715 he was wounded at the attack on the rebels at Preston, in Lancashire. In 1727 he served at Gibraltar during the siege of that fortress, and was there in 1735, when he was promoted to a company in the same regiment. In 1741 he was appointed major to the 21st regiment of foot, or Royal North British fusileers, which he accompanied to Flanders. At the battle of Dettingen in 1743, his horse was shot under him, and he received three cuts in the arm. In 1745 he commanded his regiment at the battle of Fontenoy, in which three of the fingers of his left hand were shot off, and besides other slighter hurts, he received a severe wound in his foot. The same year he was, with the fusileers, at Ostend, when it was besieged by the French, and in 1746 he commanded his regiment at the battle of Culloden. The following year he was ordered back to Flanders, and commanded the regiment at the battle of Lafeldt, in 1747. He rose to the rank of lieutenant-general in 1770, and died at Edinburgh, unmarried, 29th August, 1775, in his 85th year. The Hon. Alexander Colville, the next brother, entered the royal navy in 1710, but on the reduction of the naval force at the peace he retired from the service, and was appointed collector of the customs at Dundee, whence he was, in 1735, removed to Inverness, where he died, unmarried, 20th April 1765.

      Alexander, eighth baron (but the fourth who assumed the title), eldest son of the seventh baron Colville of Culross, distinguished himself as a naval officer. He was born 24th February 1717, and entered the navy in 1731. On the breaking out of the war in 1739, he was appointed lieutenant of a bomb vessel, and sailed to the West Indies under Admiral Vernon. He was employed in the bombardment and destruction of Fort Chagre, and then proceeded to the expedition against Carthagena, where, in 1741, he performed the mournful office of closing the eyes of his father. He soon afterwards returned to England, lieutenant in the Hampton Court, and then, sailing to the Mediterranean, joined the fleet under Admiral Matthews, who appointed him master and commander, and, 6th March 1744, promoted him to the rank of post-captain with the command of the Leopard of 50 guns. After the peace in 1749, his lordship returned to England, and was appointed to the Success frigate, destined for the Boston station. He subsequently got the command of the Northumberland, a guardship at Plymouth, on board of which he went to America under Admiral Boscawen in 1755. Two years afterwards he accompanied Admiral Holburne in the ineffectual expedition against Louisburg, and was left at Halifax, in Nova Scotia, in command of the ships on that station, with a commodore’s broad pendant, in the winter of 1757-8. In the latter year he served under Admiral Boscawen at the reduction of Louisburg, and was again left in command of the ships in North America. When Quebec was besieged by the French in the winter of 1759-60 Lord Colville received directions to proceed with a squadron to the relief of that place, as soon as the navigation of the St. Lawrence was open. He arrived at Quebec, 18th May 1760, at a period of the year earlier than it was ever known that a ship of war, far less a squadron, had ever gone so high up the river. On receiving notice of his approach, the French raised the siege, and made a precipitate retreat two days previous to his arrival. After an expedition from Halifax to drive the French out of Newfoundland, which they had got possession of by surprise, and recovering that important island, his lordship returned to England, and was promoted to the rank of rear-admiral of the white, 21st October 1762. The preliminaries of peace at this time only prevented him from obtaining the chief command in the Mediterranean. He continued with his flag flying at Spithead, and doing the duty of port-admiral at Portsmouth, till peace was concluded, when he was appointed to the same station at Plymouth. At the earnest request of Lord Sandwich, then first lord of the admiralty, he consented to resume the command in North America, and hoisting his flag on board the Romney of 50 guns, proceeded to Halifax, in order to protect the coast of North America, and the new conquests in the gulf and river of St. Lawrence. There he remained till 1766, when he retired from the service. In 1768 he fixed his residence in Scotland, and in 1769 was promoted to the rank of vice-admiral. He died, without legitimate issue, at Drumsheugh, near Edinburgh, 21st May 1770, in the 54th year of his age. He married, 1st October 1768, Lady Elizabeth Erskine, eldest daughter of the sixth earl of Kellie, widow of Walter MacFarlane of MacFarlane, the eminent antiquary. He was succeeded by a younger brother, John, fifth (properly ninth) Lord Colville of Culross, His next brother, Charles, died an infant. George, the third brother, an officer in the army, was nominated in 1739 one of the thirty lieutenants sent out to North America, to discipline Colonel Gooch’s new raised regiment, destined for the Carthagena expedition, but died of a fever at New York, in his twentieth year. Another brother, also named Charles, born April 21, 1726, was an officer in the same regiment as his uncle, the Royal North British fusileers, and first served as a cadet at the battle of Dettingen. At the battle of Fontenoy he was shot through the cheek. He was subsequently at Ostend, then besieged by the French, and afterwards, under the duke of Cumberland, pursued the rebels into Scotland. In 1747 he was at the battle of Lafeldt, and in 1751 accompanied his regiment to Gibraltar. Being ordered, with a detachment of that garrison, on board the fleet commanded by Admiral Byng, he was present in the action with the French off Minorca, for which that unfortunate naval commander was tried and executed. Captain Colville returned to England with his regiment in 1759, and in 1761 was in the expedition against Belleisle. He died at Newcastle, on his march with the 21st into Scotland, 15th March 1763, in the 37th year of his age, unmarried. The Hon. James Colville, the seventh and youngest son, entered the royal navy in 1744, and sailed to the East Indies with Admiral Watson. He commanded the Newcastle in the engagement betwixt Admirals Pocock and D’Ache, 3d August 1758, when the French were defeated. He had the rank of captain in the royal navy 17th October of the same year, and commanded the same ship in the engagement between the same admirals, 10th August 1759, when, after a very severe action, the French were obliged to retreat. Subsequently he was promoted to the command of the Sunderland of 60 guns, one of Admiral Stevens’ squadron employed in the blockade of Pondicherry, and from his spirit and ardour to carry on the important service in which he was engaged, he would not put to sea on the approach of a dreadful hurricane, because no signal to that effect was made by the admiral; in consequence of which the Sunderland, with other ships of that squadron, foundered on the 21st of January 1761, and Captain Colville perished, with all his ship’s company, except two black sail-=makers, in the 27th year of his age, unmarried.

      John, the fifth who assumed the title of Lord Colville, was born at Dundee 24th January 1724, old style, and entering the army in January 1741, served in the West Indies, under General Wentworth. His regiment being disbanded, he returned to England early in 1743, and in the following June, became first lieutenant in the 21st foot, or Royal North British fusileers, in which also his brother and uncle held commissions. He was at the battle of Fontenoy; in Ostend, when besieged the same year; served under the duke of Cumberland, at the taking of Carlisle that winter; at the battle of Culloden, and at the action of Lafeldt. In 1761 he accompanied his regiment to Belleisle, in the Bay of Biscay, which was reduced after the capture of the citadel of Palais, the capital of the island. In 1764 he retired from the army, after a service of twenty-four years, and had the office of inspector-general of the outposts in Scotland. He succeeded to the title, on the death of his brother, in 1770. He married at Gibraltar, 18th July 1758, Miss Webber, by whom he had eight sons and four daughters. His lordship died in 1811, and was succeeded by his fourth son, the Hon. John Colville; his two eldest born having died while infants, and his third son, the Hon. James Colville, a naval officer, having died, unmarried, 18th February, 1786, in the 23d year of his age.

      John, sixth Lord Colville of Culross who assumed the title, but the tenth baron, born 15th March 1768, entered the navy in 1780, and was present in Lord Rodney’s action with Count de Grasse, 12th April 1782. He served at the capture of the West India Islands in 1794. He attained the rank of post-captain 6th December 1796, and was in command of the Ambuscade frigate of 36 guns, when the peace of Amiens took place, March 27, 1802. On the renewal of hostilities he was appointed to the Romney of 50 guns, which was wrecked on the coast of Holland, 25th November 1804, but was saved and sent home, with his officers, by the humane Dutch admiral, Derkert. He commanded L’Hercule in the expedition to Copenhagen in 1807, and attained the rank of admiral of the white in February 1847. He was one of the representative peers of Scotland and an extra lord of the bed-chamber to Prince Albert. His lordship married first, at Weeford, in Staffordshire, 14th October 1790, Elizabeth, third daughter of Francis Ford of the island of Barbados, sister of Sir Francis Ford, baronet, M.P., by whom he had a daughter, who died an infant. Lady Colville died in 1839, and his lordship married secondly, 15th October 1841, the Hon. Anne Law, third daughter of the first Lord Ellenborough, but by her had no issue. His lordship died in December 1849. His next brother and his youngest brother, both died infants. The Hon. Sir Charles Colville, the sixth son of the fifth (properly ninth) Lord Colville, born in 1770, was an officer in the army, and in 1796 became lieutenant-colonel of the 13th regiment of foot, which he commanded in the memorable campaign in Egypt in 1801, and in the various active services in which that regiment was subsequently employed. He had the rank of colonel in the army, 1st January 1805, was afterwards a brigadier-general in the West India staff, and commanded a brigade at the capture of Martinique in 1809. He was G.C.B., G.C.H. and K.T.S., a general in the army, and colonel in the 5th foot, and distinguished himself in the late war. He married in 1818, Jane, eldest daughter of William Mure, Esq. of Caldwell in Ayrshire, by whom he had two sons and three daughters, and died 27th March, 1843. On the 21st of May, scarcely two months after his death, his widow, Lady Colville, expired at her residence, Rosslyn House, Hampstead, from the effects of injuries she received from her dress taking fire. His next brother, the Hon. George Colville, was a lieutenant in the 41st regiment of foot, and after having survived all the dangers and fatigues of a most active (light infantry) service, at the siege of Fort Bourbon, and in the reduction of the three islands under Sir Charles Grey, fell a victim to the pestilential fever at St. Domingo on 24th June 1794, in the 24th year of his age.

      The tenth baron was succeeded by his nephew Charles John Colville, eleventh baron and seventh Lord Colville of Culross, eldest son of the Hon. General Sir Charles Colville, G.C.B. He was born at Edinburgh in 1818, succeeded his uncle in Dec. 1849, and was at one period a captain in the eleventh hussars. He was elected a representative peer of Scotland in August 1851; for some time chief equerry and clerk marshal to her majesty. He married in 1853 the eldest daughter of second Lord Carrington; issue, a son, Hon. Charles Robert, master of Culross, born 1854, and a daughter.


COLVILLE OF OCHILTREE, Lord, a title in the peerage of Scotland, first conferred on 4th January 1651, on Robert Colville of Cleish, great-grandson of Robert Colville, natural son of Sir James Colville of Easter Wemyss, above mentioned, who granted to his said son and Francesca Colquhoun his wife (by whom he had a son and three daughter) a charter of the barony of Cleish, in Kinross-shire, 15th July 1537, confirmed on the 21st of the same month. This Robert colville, the first styled of Cleish, was forfeited by parliament, 10th December 1540, for treason, having, like his father, favoured the Douglases; but his forfeiture was rescinded, 12th December 1543. He held the office of master of the household to Lord James Stewart, afterwards the regent Murray, and was a hearty promoter of the Reformation. He joined the lords of the Congregation, and in June 1559, when Knox had announced his intention of preaching in the Cathedral church of St. Andrews, Archbishop Hamilton desired him to tell the lords that in case John Knox presented himself to the preaching place in his town and cathedral church he should be saluted with a dozen of hacquebuts. Knox set the proud prelate’s threats at defiance, and preached in spite of him. He was in their army in the attack upon the french at Leith, 7th May 1560, when he received a shot in the thigh, and died two hours afterwards. Knox describes him as “a modest, stout, and wise man.”

      Robert, first Lord Colville of Ochiltree, was the elder of two sons of Robert Colville of Cleish, grandson of the above, by his wife Beatrix, daughter of John Haldane of Gleneagles. He was served heir to his father, 12th September 1643, and was knighted by Charles the First. On the 4th January 1651, as already stated, he was created a peer by Charles the Second, by the title of Lord Colville of Ochiltree, by patent, to him and his heirs male. He married Janet, second daughter of Sir John Wemyss of Wemyss, sister of the first earl of Wemyss, but had no issue. He died at Crombie, 25th August 1662, and was succeeded by his nephew Robert, the son of his brother David.

      Robert, second Lord Colville of Ochiltree, married Margaret, daughter of David Wemyss of Fingask, by whom he had, with two daughters, (the elder, Margaret, wife of Sir John Ayton of Ayton, and the younger married to the Rev Mr. Logan, minister of Torry,) a son, Robert Colville, third Lord Colville of Ochiltree, who died without issue. Robert Ayton, his grandnephew, his heir of line, took the name of Colville, and was designated Robert Ayton Colville of Craigflower. The title was assumed by David Colville, son of William Colville, tenant at Balcormie Mill in Fife, but he never voted at the elections of Scots representative peers. He held the rank of major, and died unmarried in London 8th February 1782, when his pretensions to the peerage descended to his cousin, Robert Colville, whose vote, registered at the election of 1788, was subsequently disallowed by the house of Lords.

      The Colvills of Clontarf house, county Dublin, Ireland, are descended from James Colvill (stated to be a brother of John, third Lord Colville of Culross, and of the Rev. Alexander Colville, D.D., professor of divinity at St. Andrews, Fife, and afterwards surrogate of Down, father of Sir Robert Colvill, and great-grandfather of the first countess of Mountcashell), who went to Ireland in 1630, and settled in the north.

COLVILLE, JOHN, a controversial writer, of a turbulent and restless disposition, of the family of Colville of Easter Wemyss, was some time minister of Kilbride and chanter or precentor of Glasgow. In 1578, for nonresidence at his church, he was ordered by the General Assembly “to be taken order withal by the synod of Glasgow, for deserting of his ministry;” and having obtained an introduction to Court, he was appointed, in 1579, master of Requests. He was soon after engaged in the treasonable conspiracy of the raid of Ruthven, and was on that occasion sent by the conspirators as their representative to Queen Elizabeth, who had favoured the enterprise. When the king recovered his liberty, Colville was ordered to enter in ward, but instead of doing so, he retired to England, and August 22, 1584, forfeited in parliament. He was soon, however, restored to favour; and on June 2d, 1587, he was appointed by the king a lord of session in the room of his uncle, Alexander Colville, commendator of Culross, who had resigned from illness. This office, however, he did not hold long, for, on the 21st of the same month, his uncle having recovered his health, resumed his seat on the bench, and the nephew, who, about the same time, represented the burgh of Stirling in parliament, seems to have been afterwards appointed collector of the taxation granted for King James’ marriage expenses.

      Being disappointed in his expectations at court, Colville joined the turbulent earl of Bothwell, and was with him when he made his attack upon the king on the night of the 27th December 1591, for which he was again forfeited in parliament. On the 24th July 1593, he again accompanied Bothwell to Holyroodhouse, when they both went on their knees and craved pardon for their former attacks, to the great alarm of James, and the disturbance of the court and city. On Bothwell’s flight, Colville obtained his pardon, by betraying his associates. He had treacherously given assurance of his life to Bothwell’s natural brother, Hercules Stewart, who, nevertheless, was hanged in 1595. Finding, in consequence, that he had fallen into disgrace and discredit in his own country, he went to France. Subsequently he made several attempts to obtain his recall, but in vain. He then became a Roman Catholic, and wrote bitterly against the protestants. In 1600, a treatise by him was published at Edinburgh, entitled, ‘The Palinode,’ which he represented to be a refutation of a former work of his own against James’ title to the English crown. This was merely a menoeuvre to ingratiate himself with that monarch, as no such work had he ever written. He died while on a pilgrimage to Rome in 1607. – His works are:

      The Palinode. Edin., 1600, 8vo.

      Paraenesis ad Ministros Scotos super sua conversatione, or Admonition of John Colville (lately returnit to the Catholic Roman Religion, in whilk he was baptesit and brocht up till he had full 14 years of age) to his countrymen; which was translated and published at Paris in 1602, 8vo.

      He was also the author of ‘Capita Controversa,’ and ‘De Causa Comitis Bothwellii.’

Qcharters, in his Lives of Scotch Writers, (MSS., in Advocates’ Library) adds to Colville’s works, ‘Oratio funebris Exequis Elizabeth destinata.’

      The author of the History of Sutherland speaks of a MS. relating to the affairs of Scotland, by Mr. John Colvin, as the name Colville was sometimes spelled in Scotland.

COLVILLE, sometimes called COLWIL, ALEXANDER, a Scottish episcopalian divine, of right fourth lord Colville of Culross, was born near St. Andrews, in Fifeshire, in 1620. He was educated at the university of Edinburgh, where he took his degree of D.D., and was settled minister at Dysart. In early life he had been professor of theology in the university of Sedan in France, under the patronage of the Reformed churches in that country. Besides delivering lectures on theology, he also taught Hebrew in that seminary, – the revival of the study of which language was much attended to by protestants on the continent. He wrote several pieces against the presbyterian, all of which are now forgotten, except a humorous poem, entitled ‘The Scotch Hudibras,’ written in the manner of Butler. He died at Edinburgh in 1676. There seems to have been another Colvil, who also wrote an imitation of Butler; as, in 1681, one Samuel Colvil published at London, ‘The Mock Poem, or the Whig’s Supplication,’ 12mo.

      This Alexander Colville is often confounded with a Mr. William Colville, who was elected principal of the university of Edinburgh, on the death of Principal Adamson in 1652. He was at this time minister of the English church at Utrecht. He accepted the invitation, but owing to some obstruction, it is thought, on the part of Cromwell’s government, he did not at that time take possession of the office, and it was declared vacant on 17th January 1653. As he had given in his demission to his church and left Holland, he was allowed a year’s stipend for his trouble and expense; and Dr. Leighton, afterwards bishop of Dunblane, was elected principal. On the promotion of Dr. Leighton to the see of Dunblane in 1662, Mr. William Colville was admitted principal of the university of Edinburgh. Although a member of the General Assembly, he had espoused the episcopal doctrines of divine right and absolute obedience as early as 1648, and he even went so far as to attempt forming a party, between the presbyterians and episcopalians. On this account he had been, along with Mr. Andrew Ramsay, suspended from the office of the ministry, by the Assembly, which sentence was revoked in 1655. The episcopalian party, says Bower in his History of the University of Edinburgh, (vol. i. p. 176,) represented him as a man of a very moderate temper, and alleged that he had been offered several Scottish bishoprics, but he would never accept of preferment. He was the author of a work entitled ‘Ethica Christiana,’ which was in considerable repute in those days. His sermons on the ‘Righteous Branch’ discover a great vein of piety, as well as show that his religious opinions corresponded with the doctrines of the Westminster Confession of Faith.

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