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The Scottish Nation

SCRIMGEOUR, a surname first bestowed on one Sir Alexander Carron, a brave knight who, in the first year of Alexander I. (1107), signalized his valour, says Crawford, (Peerage, p. 115,) against the northern rebels who attempted no less than the murder of the king, for which he had the name changed to Scrimgeour, or the Hardy Fighter. Wherefore he had a special grant from the king to himself and the heirs male of his body to be hereditary standard-bearers to the kings of Scotland, and for his coat of arms – Gules, a lion rampant, or, in the dexter paw, a crooked sword proper, and the Latin word “Dissipate,” for his motto.

It has been already stated in a previous part of this work, (see DUNDEE, earl of), that one of the heroic associates of Sir William Wallace was Sir Alexander Scrymseour, hereditary standard-bearer of Scotland, on whom he conferred the office of constable of Dundee, and made it hereditary in his family. The grant of Wallace and the Scots parliament, conferring it, is dated at Torphichen, 29th March, 1298. By this deed he also received six merks of land in the campus superior, or upper field, of Dundee called Upper Dudhope. If these lands had not been then in possession of the crown, or the personal property of the sovereign, Wallace could not have granted them, but, being crown demesne, he had authority, as governor of the kingdom, to alienate them. From the first constable of Dundee till the time of John Scrimgeour, Viscount Dudhope and earl of Dundee, there were, including the latter, thirteen of that family who held the offices of constable and royal standard-bearer in succession.

One of the first to declare in favour of Robert the Bruce was Sir Alexander Scrymseour, who bore the royal standard at Bannockburn, as he had previously done, under Wallace, at Falkirk; and for his faithful adherence and gallant services that monarch bestowed upon him sundry lands about the burgh of Inverkeithing. His son, Nicholas Syrmeshour, obtained from the same monarch a charter of the office of hereditary standard-bearer. Sir John Scrimgeour was killed at the battle of Halidon-hill in 1333. Alexander Scrimgeour, the third constable of Dundee, acquired certain lands near that town, and in 1378 he resigned into the hands of Robert II. the lands of Milltown of Craigie, which were afterwards given to the chapel of St. Salvator in Dundee.

His son, Sir James Scrimgeour, knight, the fourth constable in succession,

“The vanguard led before them all,”

In the army of the Regent Albany, against Donald, lord of the Isles, at the battle of Harlaw in 1411, and was among the slain. The ballad says:

“Sir James Scrimgeour, of Dudhope, knicht,
Grit constable of fair Dundee,
Unto the dulefu’ death was dicht;
The king’s chief bannerman was he;
A valiant man of chivalrie.”

Of this brave knight, Syntoun, the quaint old rhyming prior of Lochleven, says, (Chronicle, ii. p. 433):

“Schere James Scremyeoure of Dundee,
Comendit a famous knight was he;
The kingis banneoure of fe,
A lord that wele aucht lovit he.”

James Scrymseour, the seventh constable of Dundee, acquired from Andrew, Lord Gray, on 27th April 1495, the lands of the campus inferior, of lower field of Dundee, called Lower Dudhope, with the colt silver, or custom accruing from young horses brought into the town for sale, which belonged to his lordship as high sheriff of the county. Sir James Scrimgeour, the tenth constable of Dundee, was, in January 1584, charged to depart furth of the realm for favouring the earl of Angus, one of the lords engaged with the first earl of Gowrie in the raid of Ruthven. He received a new charter of his estates under the great seal, dated at Holyrood-house, 25th November 1587. In this charter, which limited their destination, the grants made by King Alexander I., to Sir Alexander Scrimgeour, the first of the name, sometimes written Skirmischur, and the first knight we read of in Scottish history (see Nisbet’s Heraldry, vol. ii. App. P. 49), as well as all subsequent grants of honours, lands, privileges, and immunities, to him and to his heirs male, bearing the name and arms of Scrimgeour, are confirmed. The constable of Dundee was one of the commissioners who, in June 1589, went to Denmark to conclude the negotiations as to the marriage of James VI. with the princess Anne. In 1604 he was one of the commissioners appointed to treat with the English commissioners as to a union with England. He died in 1612.

His son, Sir John Scrimgeour, was the eleventh constable of Dundee in succession. In 1617, when James VI. came to Scotland, he slept a night in Sir John’s castle at Dudhope. In the parliament of 1621, the constable of Dundee was chosen one of the lords of the articles, and in the same parliament he voted for the obnoxious five articles of Perth. He was raised to the peerage by Charles I., by the titles of Baron Scrimgeour of Inverkeithing and viscount of Dudhope, by patent, dated 15th November 1641; and died 7th March 1643. John, third viscount, his grandson, was created earl of Dundee, by patent, dated 8th September 1660 (see DUNDEE, earl of). On his death, without issue, in June 1668, his titles became extinct.

His whole estates and offices should have devolved upon John Scrimgeour, then of Kirkton, having been entailed on his grandfather, John Scrimgeour of Kirkton, and the heirs male of his body, by the charter of 1587 above mentioned, and by a previous settlement of the estates in 1541. The estates, however, were held to have fallen to the king as ultimus hares, and the duke of Lauderdale, then at the head of affairs in Scotland, procured from Charles II. a gift of the same to his brother, Lord Hatton. They afterwards came into possession of Graham of Claverhouse, viscount of Dundee.

John Scrimgeour of Kirkton, first above mentioned, appears to have been the great-grandson of the fifth constable of Dundee. He married Elizabeth, eldest daughter of James Scrimgeour of Dudhope, the eighth constable. With her he got the lands of Ballegarno. Dr. Alexander Scrimgeour, the fifth from him, was professor, first of humanity, and lastly of theology in the university of St. Andrews. His son, David Scrimgeour of Birkhill, advocate, and sheriff of Inverness after the abolition of the heritable jurisdictions in 1747, married Catherine, third daughter of Sir Alexander Wedderburn of Blackness, baronet, and, besides other children, had a son, Alexander, the eldest of the family, who succeeded, in 1778, to the estate of Wedderburn in Forfarshire, and in consequence assumed the name and arms of Wedderburn (see that surname).

In Burke’s Landed Gentry (Supp. P. 291) it is stated that the office of royal standard-bearer of Scotland has been claimed at all the coronations since that of George III., for the purpose of a salvo jure, by the descendants of James Scrimgeour, Esq., formerly of Foxhall, parish of Kirkliston, Linlithgowshire, whose father married a lady named Cameron, of the family of Lochiel, and took arms for the Pretender in 1745. By his wife, a relative of Principal Hill of the university of St. Andrews, he had, with other children, a son, James Scrimgeour, who married Janet, youngest daughter of Robert Shedden of Morris Hill, Ayrshire, His eldest son, James Scrimgeour, acting adjutant of the 11th light dragoons, was mortally wounded in the brilliant cavalry affair of Fuente Guinaldo in Portugal, during the Peninsular war. Borne off by his comrades, he was buried with military honours. His next brother, Robert Shedden Scrimgeour, resident at Totteridge, Hertfordshire, claims to be male representative of the Scrimgeours, hereditary standard-bearers of Scotland and constables of Dundee. He married Margaret, eldest daughter of James Wilson, Esq., F.R.S., formerly professor of anatomy to the royal college of surgeons, and many years lecturer to the Hunterian school, Windmill Street, London; with issue, a son and two daughters.


A branch of the Scrimgeour family, styled of Myres in Fifeshire, held the office of hereditary macers and sergeants at arms of the royal palace of Falkland. In March 1484, John Scrimgeour had a charter to himself and his heirs male, of the office of macer and sergeant at arms, with the lands of the Myres of Auchtermuchty. He is supposed to have been the second son of Sir James Scrimgeour, constable of Dundee, who was killed at the battle of Harlaw in 1411. The family appears also to have possessed the office of master-builder to the king. In February 1531, John Scrimgeour, ‘master of the king’s works,’ son of John Scrimgeour, macer, had a charter to himself and his heirs male, of the office of macer and sergeant at arms, and of the lands of Myres; and in January 1541-2, he had another charter of the same office and lands. The Scrimgeours of Myres are mentioned in all the entails of the Dudhope family. In 1527, James Scrimgeour of Dudhope had a charter to himself and the heirs male of his body, which failing, to John Scrimgeour of Glaster, James and Walter, brothers of John, David Scrimgeour of Fardel, John Scrimgeour, macer, &c., of the barony of Dudhope, office of constable of Dundee, of the lands of Hadfield, &c., in the barony of Inverkeithing, and of other lands; and in the charter of 1541, occurs the name of John Scrimgeour of Myres. In 1565 Sir James Scrimgeour of Dudhope had a charter of the same office and lands to himself and substitutes, among whom John Scrimgeour of Myres is one; and in the charter of 1587, abovementioned, John Scrimgeour of Myres is one of the substitutes. The lands of Myres became afterwards, by marriage, the heritage of the Moncrieffs of Reedie, who also succeeded to the hereditary office of macer of the court of session, and for a considerable time they had the right of appointing one of the four macers of that court. This right having been found inconvenient, was at length purchased by the crown, and the appointment of this macer has since been under the same patronage with the others.

SCRIMGER, or SCRIMZEOUR, HENRY, one of the most learned men of his time, was born at Dundee in 1506. He was the son of Walter Scrimger of Glasswell, a descendant of the family of Dudhope, of that name, constables of Dundee, and hereditary standard-bearers of Scotland. He received the rudiments of his education at the grammar school of his native place, from which he removed to the university of St. Andrews, and afterwards to those of Paris and Bourges, where he studied the civil law. He subsequently went to Italy in the capacity of private secretary to the bishop of Rennes, who was employed on a diplomatic mission, and he was at Padua at the time of the death of Francis Spira, the apostate, a narrative of whose history he wrote in the Latin language. On his return from Italy, he was invited to commence the public teaching of philosophy at Geneva, but had not been long there before he lost all his property by an accidental fire. He then went to Augsburg, where he resided with Ulrich Fugger, who employed him to form his library. The Fugger family were originally linen weavers, but they came to be amongst the richest nobles in Germany. In 1563 he returned to Geneva, for the purpose of printing some of his treatises at the press of Henry Stephen, when he resumed his lectures on philosophy, and also became the first professor of civil law in that city. He died at Geneva about the end of 1572. His works consist chiefly of annotations on the Greek authors, most of which still remain in manuscript. Those published are:

Justinian’s Novels, translated into Greek, Par. 1558. And again, with Holoander’s Latin Version, at Antwerp, 1575. This has been highly extolled for its purity of language and accuracy.
Critical and explanatory Notes upon Athenaeus’s Deipnosophists, published by Isaac Casaubon. Leyd. 1600. But without distinguishing his own Notes from those of Scrimger.
A Commentary and Emendations of Strabo, published also without acknowledgment, in Casaubon’s edition of that geographer, 1620.

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