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The Scottish Nation

STRATHERN, earl of, a title of great antiquity in Scotland, the first possessor of which on record was Malise, one of the witnesses of the foundation of the priory of Scone, by Alexander I., in 1114. He is supposed to have been a Celt, though bearing the Saxon title of earl, in ancient times the highest rank in the kingdom, next to that of the sovereign. At the battle of the Standard, 22d August 1138, Malise, earl of Strathern, distinguished himself greatly. When the Scots had prepared for battle, their king, David I., by the advice of his chief leaders, resolved to commence the attack with the men-at-arms and the archers, but the men of Galloway claimed that pre-eminence, alleging that it was their right by ancient custom. It is stated that most of the men-at-arms in the Scottish ranks were subjects of England, who had joined the forces of David. This caused several altercations and jealousies. “Whence arises this mighty confidence in these Normans?” exclaimed Malise, earl of Strathern, indignantly, to the king. “I wear no armour, yet they who do will not advance beyond me this day.” “Earl,” retorted Alan de Percy, an illegitimate son of the great baron of that name, “you boast of what you dare not perform.” David repressed this dispute, and unwillingly yielded to the claims of the men of Galloway. This Alan de Percy had attached himself to David I. before his accession to the throne, and ever afterwards adhered to him. In return for his valuable services he received the manors of Oxenham and Heton, in Teviotdale. He and his family were munificent endowers of Melrose abbey; but after sustaining an honourable name for three generations, he line became extinct for lack of heirs.

Malise’s son, Ferquhard, or Ferteth, second earl of Strathern, was one of the six earls that leagued against Malcolm IV. He witnessed a charter of that monarch to the monastery of Scone in 1160, and in the following year obtained a settlement in the province of Moray, when its turbulent inhabitants were removed to other parts of the kingdom. In the foundation charter of Inchaffray he is called Ferchard, Dei indulgentia, comes de Stratheryn. He died in 1171. His elder son, Gilbert, third earl of Strathern, was the founder of the monastery of Inchaffray, and he richly endowed it for canons regular. The foundation charter, dated in 1198, was confirmed by King William the Lion in 1200. The witnesses were, Malise, brother of Earl Gilbert, William, Ferchard, and Robert, his sons. Earl Gilbert had five sons and four daughters. His three eldest sons predeceased him. Robert, the fourth son, became fourth earl of Strathern. Malise, the younger son, got from King William the lands of Kincardine, to be held of his brother, Earl Robert, and through the marriage of his niece, Annabella, elder daughter of Earl Robert, to Sir David Graham, ancestor of the duke of Montrose, they afterwards came into that family. The fourth earl witnessed a charter of Alexander II. of the earldom of Fife in the eleventh year of his reign, 1225, and he was one of the witnesses to the treaty concluded betwixt that monarch and Henry II. of England, when their differences were adjusted by the cardinal legate of York in 1237. He died before 1244, leaving, with two daughters, a son, Malise, fifth earl of Strathern.

This powerful noble was one of the principal magnates Scotiae of his time, and took a leading part in all the public transactions of that day. In the minority of Alexander III., he joined the English party, and was received into the protection of Henry III. of England, 10th August 1255. He was one of the guardians of the young king and Queen Margaret, daughter of Henry, whom he had married in 1251, appointed in virtue of the treaty of Roxburgh, the 20th September that year. He died in 1270.

His son, Malise, 6th earl, a guarantee of the marriage treaty of Margaret of Scotland with Eric, king of Norway, in 1281, sat in the parliament at Scone, Feb. 5, 1284, when the Scots nobles became bound to acknowledge Margaret the maiden of Norway, as their sovereign, in the event of the death of Alexander III. He agreed to the marriage of Queen Margaret with the prince of Wales, afterwards Edward II. of England, a marriage never destined to take place. In the contest for the crown, he was one of the nominees on the part of John Baliol, in 1292. He swore fealty to Edward I. at Stirling, 12th July of that year, and was present at Berwick on the 17th of the following November, when the claim to the crown was decided in Baliol’s favour. He was one of the nobles summoned to attend Edward I. into Gascony, 1st September 1294, and was in the Scots army that invaded England in March 1296, for which his estates were sequestrated. He again, however, swore fealty to Edward on the 13th of the following July, and was dead before the 3d September of the same year. Amongst other names in the Ragman Roll, as having sworn fealty to Edward in 1296, are those of Robert de Strathern and Maucolum de Strathern, clerk, del comte de Peebles, also, John de Strathern, del comte de Forfar, which shows that at that period there were several barons of the name of Strathern in different parts of Scotland. The sixth earl of Strathern had a son, Malise, seventh earl, and a daughter, Mary, wife of Sir John Moray of Drumsagard, and mother of three sons, 1. Maurice, who was created earl of Strathern. 2. Sir Alexander Moray of Drumsagard, Ogilvy, and Abercairney. 3. Walter, ancestor of the Murrays of Ogilface.

Malise, seventh earl, was one of the adherents of Robert the Bruce, and was imprisoned in England from 1306 to 18th November 1308, and then only released on his giving security for his loyal behaviour to Edward II., and not to leave England without the king’s permission. He was one of the patriotic Scots nobles who, in 1320, signed the famous letter to the Pope, asserting the independence of Scotland. At the battle of Halidonhill, 19th July 1333, he and the earls of Ross and Sutherland had the command of the third division of the Scots army. Knighton, the English historian, who lived in the following century, erroneously states that he was amongst the slain in that battle, a mistake which has been repeated by Dalrymple in his Annals. The following year he resigned his earldom of Strathern in favour of a potent English noble, John de Warren, earl of Warren and Surrey, who had married his daughter, Johanna, and a letter is extant from Edward Baliol to Henry de Bellemonte, earl of Boghan or Buchan, dated 2d March 1334, indicating that Earl Malise was then alive. In 1345, he was forfeited and attainted for giving his earldom of Strathern to the earl of Warren, an enemy of David II. Sir James Dalrymple (Historical Collections, p. 376), states that his daughter Johanna, countess of Warren, Surrey, and Strathern, who also forfeited for marrying the same nobleman.

It is supposed that Earl Malise was three times married. Douglas (Peerage, vol. ii. p. 559) says that Marjory Muschamp, countess of Strathern, was probably his first wife, perhaps his stepmother, which is most consistent with chronology. Johanna, daughter of Sir John Menteth, appears to have been his second wife. She was the mother of Johanna, countess of Warren, Surrey, and Strathern, and, according to Carwford (Peerage, p. 467), that countess of Strathern who, with Sir David de Brechin and Sir William de Soulis, was engaged in the conspiracy against Robert I. in 1320. (See BRECHIN, Sir David de, and SOULIS, William de). The countess and Soulis were imprisoned for life, while Sir David de Brechin was beheaded. Earl Malise’s third wife was Isabella, daughter and heiress of Magnus, earl of Caithness and Orkney, and in her right he became earl of Caithness and Orkney. By his last wife he had four daughters. In 1344 he gave the earldom of Caithness to William, earl of Ross, in marriage with his eldest daughter, whose name is not mentioned; and that of Orkney to Sir William Sinclair of Roslin, who married his second daughter, Isabella.

The earldom of Strathern was, by David II., granted in 1343, to Sir Maurice Moray of Drumsagard, lord of Clydesdale, nephew of Earl Malise, to him and the heirs male of his body, which failing, to return to the crown. Sir Maurice joined the steward of Scotland at the siege of Perth, in 1339, and fell at the battle of Durham, where David was taken prisoner, 17th October 1346. As he had no issue, King David next, in 1361, grated the earldom of Strathern to his nephew, Robert, steward of Scotland, who succeeded to the throne as Robert II., 22d February 1371. Soon after, that monarch conferred the earldom on his eldest son, by his second marriage, David Stewart, earl of Strathern, who had a charter of the same, 13th June of that year. He was subsequently created earl of Caithness by his father, and is designed earl-palatine of Strathern and earl of Caithness, in a charter of Robert II., dated 14th February 1381. He left a daughter, Euphame, countess-palatine of Strathern and countess of Caithness, who resigned the latter earldom in favour of her uncle, Walter Stewart, Lord Brechin, and he obtained a charter of the same. She married Sir Patrick Graham, second son of Sir Patrick Graham of Dundaff and Kincardine, and in her right her husband became earl of Strathern. He was treacherously killed by his brother-in-law, Sir John Drummond of Concraig, at Crieff, 10th August 1413. He had a son, Malise Graham, earl of Strathern, and two daughters, Lady Euphame, countess of Douglas and duchess of Touraine, and afterwards the wife of the first Lord Hamilton, with issue to both husbands, and Lady Elizabeth, married to Sir John Lyon of Glammis.

The son, Malise, earl of Strathern, was one of the hostages nominated for the release of King James I. by the treaty of 4th December 1423, when his annual revenue was estimated at 500 merks. He had a safe-conduct to meet King James at Durham on the 14th of that month. Under the pretence that the earldom of Strathern was a male fee, James divested Malise of it, and conferred it on his uncle, Walter, earl of Athol and Caithness, grand-uncle of Malise, for his life only, 22d July 1427. Walter was executed for the execrable murder of the king in April 1437, and the earldom of Strathern was annexed to the crown, 4th August 1455. Malise Graham was created earl of Menteith, by charter dated 6th September 1427, to him and the heirs of his body, lawfully procreated, failing which, the earldom was to return to the crown. William, the seventh earl, bore the style of earl of Strathern and Menteith for a short time, but on being deprived of those titles, 22d March 1633, he was, on the 28th of the same month, created earl of Airth, with the precedency of Menteith. (See MENTEITH, earl of.)

The title of duke of Strathern in the Scottish peerage, was held by his royal highness the duke of Kent, the father of Queen Victoria.

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