Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

The Scottish Nation

NITHSDALE, Earl of, a title (attainted) in the peerage of Scotland, conferred by patent dated at Farnham, Aug. 29, 1620, on Robert, ninth Lord Maxwell, with precedency from 29th October 1581, the date of his father’s charter of the earldom of Morton; the title being changed from earl of Morton to earl of Nithsdale. At the meeting of the Estates at Edinburgh 25th July 1621, he was chosen one of the lords of the articles. It was in this parliament that the five articles of Perth were ratified, and Lord Nithsdale was one of the noblemen who voted for them. In May 1623, he was one of the members of the council appointed by the king to sit twice a-week to hear grievances, but this commission, says Calderwood, “took no effect.” In 1625, he was named by King Charles I. commissioner for obtaining an unconditional surrender of the tithes, but was deterred by the violent opposition of the proprietors from carrying out his instructions. He joined the marquis of Montrose, with his son, Lord Maxwell, in support of the king, in 1644, for which they were excommunicated by the General Assembly. His lordship died at Edinburgh in May 1646. His only son, Robert, second earl, was taken prisoner at the capture of Newcastle by the Scots Covenanters, when he retired from the contest, and was restored by act of parliament, 3d February 1647, against his father’s forfeiture. He died, unmarried, in October 1667. He was commonly styled the Philosopher. At his death his titles and estates devolved on John, 7th Lord Herries.

John, third earl of Nithsdale, had also, when Lord Herries, joined the marquis of Montrose, for which he was also excommunicated. His son, Robert, fourth earl of Nithsdale, died in March 1695. By his countess, Lady Lucy Douglas, he had a son, William, fifth earl, and a daughter, Lady Mary Maxwell, countess of Traquair.

William, fifth earl of Nithsdale, engaged in the rebellion of 1715, and was taken prisoner at Preston in Lancashire, 14th November of that year. Sent to the Tower of London, he was tried by his peers in January 1716, for high treason, and pleading guilty, was sentenced to be beheaded, with the earl of Derwentwater and Viscount Kenmure, 24th February 1716. The countess of Nithsdale and Lady Nairne, whose husband had also been condemned, surprised the king, as he was passing through his apartments at St. James’, and throwing themselves at his feet, implored his mercy in behoof of their husbands, but he turned away from them with contemptuous indifference. The courage and resolution of his countess, Lady Winifred Herbert, daughter of William, marquis of Powys, effected what the king refused to bestow, his escape from an ignominious death. On the evening of the 23d, he succeeded in getting out of the Tower, dressed in female attire, provided by his countess and some other ladies who had paid him a farewell visit. When the king heard of his escape next morning, he observed that “it was the best thing a man in his condition could have done.” A circumstantial narrative of his escape, written by the countess, and published in the Transactions of the Society of Antiquaries in Scotland, vol. i., has been often quoted. He had disposed of his estate to his son, Lord Maxwell, 28th November 1712, reserving his own liferent. It was finally determined by the house of lords, 21st January 1723, that only this liferent was forfeited. His honours were attainted, and he died at Rome, 20th March 1744. He had a son and a daughter, Anne, the wife of Lord Bellew, an Irish nobleman.

The only son, John Lord Maxwell, on his father’s death, came into possession of the family estates, and assumed the title of earl of Nithsdale. Under the act abolishing heritable jurisdictions in 1747 he got £523 4s. 1d. for the regality of Terregles and bailiary and regality of Lincludden. He died at London, Aug. 4, 1776. He had married his cousin, Lady Catherine Stewart, 4th daughter of Charles, 4th earl of Traquair; issue, 2 daughters, Mary, who died in her 15th year, and Winifred, styled Lady Winifred Maxwell, who died July 13, 1801, in his 66th year. She married William Haggerston Constable of Everinghame, 2d son of Sir Carnaby Haggerston of Haggerston, bishopric of Durham, bart., and had 3 sons and a daughter. Her eldest son, Marmaduke William Constable Maxwell, succeeded to his mother’s estates; and in 1858 the title of Lord Herries was restored, by act of parliament, to this gentleman, the direct descendant of the family on the mother’s side.

The title of earl of Nithsdale, which was restricted to heirs male, is claimed by William Maxwell, Esq. of Carruchan, descended from James Maxwell of Brakenside, 2d son of John, 6th Lord Herries. He has been twice married, without issue.

Return to The Scottish Nation Index Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus