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The Scottish Nation

BLANTYRE, BARON, a title in the peerage of Scotland, possessed by a branch of the illustrious house of Stuart. The ancestor of this noble family was Sir Thomas Stuart of Minto, who lived in the beginning of the reign of James the Third. He was the third son of Sir William Stuart of Dalswinton and Garlies, progenitor of the earls of Galloway [see GALLOWAY, earl of]. He received from his father the lands of Minto, Sinlaws, and Merbottle in Roxburghshire, of which he had two charters under the great seal, 2d November 1476, and by his marriage with Isabel, eldest daughter and co-heir of Walter Stewart of Arthurly, of the Castlemilk family, he acquired extensive estates in the counties of Lanark and Renfrew. He died in 1500, leaving three sons and three daughters.

      Sir John, the eldest son, styled of Minto, married Janet Fleming, of Lord Fleming’s family, by whom he had a son, named Robert. Sir John had a charter to himself and Janet his wife, of the barony of Minto and lands of Busby, which had belonged to his father, 23d February, 1502-3. He was killed at the battle of Flodden, 9th September, 1513. William, the second son, an eminent churchman of his day, was, whilst dean of Glasgow, 2d October, 1530, appointed high treasurer of Scotland, and about the same time was made provost of Lincluden, an ecclesiastical title, under which he sat in parliament, 26th April 1531. In November of the following year, he was elected bishop of Aberdeen, and in February 1534, along with Sir Adam Otterburn of Redhall, his Majesty’s advocate, he was sent on an embassy to England, to treat of a pacification, which was happily concluded. In 1537, he resigned the office of high treasurer, and died 17th April 1545. [Crawford’s Officers of State, page 373.]

      Sir John Stuart’s son, Sir Robert Stuart of Minto, married Janet Murray, of the house of Touchadam and Polmaise. He had four sons; Sir John, his heir; Walter; Robert, prior of Whithorn; and Malcolm, and a daughter.

      His eldest son, Sir John Stuart of Minto, assisted at the coronation of King James the Sixth in 1567. He was provost of Glasgow, and had the command of the castle of that town. He married, first, Joanna Hepburn, by whom he had a son, Matthew, whose male line became extinct in the person of Sir John Stuart, who died in the expedition to Darien in 1697; secondly, Margaret, second daughter of James Stewart of Cardonald, heir to her brother James, and had a son, Walter, who became first Lord Blantyre, and four daughters.

      Walter Stuart, Sir John’s only son by the second marriage, and the first Lord Blantyre, was educated, along with King James the Sixth, under the eye of George Buchanan, and had the priory of Blantyre in Lanarkshire bestowed upon him by that monarch. The name Blá-an-tir, is Gaelic, signifying ‘a warm retreat,’ descriptive of the whole district of Blantyre, now a parish. The priory was founded by Alexander the Second, sometime before 1296, and the ruins still remain. They are situated in a most retired situation, on the top of a rock, which rises perpendicularly from the Clyde, exactly opposite the noble ruins of Bothwell Castle. The revenues were in 1561, £131 6s. 7½d.

      In 1580, Walter Stuart was nominated a ‘minion,’ or gentleman of the king’s bed-chamber, on which occasion he was designed commendator of Blantyre. On 14th November, 1582, he was sworn a privy councillor, whereby he became one of the lords of the secret council; he was also constituted keeper of the privy seal, vacant by the death of Thomas Buchanan of Ibest. [Crawford’s Officers of State, page 393.] the feuing-out of his Majesty’s lands within the regality of Glasgow having been committed to his care, he performed this duty to good purpose. According to Spottiswood [History, page 348.], he was instrumental in procuring the pardon of Archibald Douglas, titular parson of Glasgow, for having intruded himself into the parsonage. On 28th May, 1593, he was appointed an extraordinary lord of session, in the room of Sir Thomas Lyon of Auldbar, and on 12th January, 1596, he was constituted one of the eight commissioners of the treasury and exchequer, called from their number Octavians, to whom King James intrusted the management of his affairs. In the distribution of offices which this body made amongst themselves, he received the office of high treasurer, which was formally conferred upon him by letters patent, under the great seal, dated 5th March, 1596, with a preamble very honourable to him. [Crawford, page 395.] On this occasion he resigned the custody of the privy seal to Lindsay of Balcarres.

      In the expedition against Kintyre and Isla, resolved upon by King James the Sixth in 1596, under the leadership of Sir William Stewart of Houston, commendator of Pittenweem, Lord Blantyre, as high treasurer, took an active part. Early in October he was in the west, superintending the progress made in the preparations for it, and from a letter addressed by him to the secretary of State, it appears that the sum of seven thousand merks were still waiting to enable the expedition to sail. [Balcarres papers, quoted in Gregory’s History of the Highlands and Isles, page 268.] Having purchased the barony of Blantyre, on 18th January 1598, he had a charter of it, as well as of Wrightslands and Cardonald in Renfrewshire, when he was designated ‘Walter Lord Blantyre, our treasurer.’ On 17th May 1599, he incurred the displeasure of the king by a decision in a cause between Mr Robert Bruce and the ministers of Angus, and besides being deprived of his offices of treasurer and extraordinary lord of session, was committed prisoner to the castle of Edinburgh. According to Crawford he was soon released and restored to favour. In 1604, he was nominated one of the commissioners for a proposed treaty of union with England, and on 10th January 1606, he was one of the lords of secret council who assisted, as assessors, at the famous trial of John Welch and the other five ministers at Linlithgow, for treason, in declining the jurisdiction of the privy council, and holding a general assembly, after being charged not to do so, when they were found guilty and banished from the kingdom. On 10th July of the same year (1606) he was created a peer of Scotland, under the title of Lord Blantyre. On the trial of George Sprot, notary in Eyemouth, 12th August, 1608, for concealment of Earl Gowrie’s conspiracy, he formed one of the assessors, and on 13th January, 1610, he was restored to his former post as an extraordinary lord of session.

      Lord Blantyre died 8th march 1617. He had married Nicolas, daughter of Sir James Somerville of Cambusnethan, by whom he had a daughter, Anne, married to John, eighth Lord Abernethy of Salton, and three sons, William, who succeeded him; James; and Walter.

      William, second Lord Blantyre, married Helen, daughter of Sir William Scott of Ardross, by whom he had three sons, viz., Walter, Alexander, and James; and two daughters, Jean and Margaret, the latter married, in 1645, to John Swinton of Swinton, and had issue.

      The second son of the first lord, the Hon. Sir James Stuart, was named after James the Sixth, who conferred on him the order of the Bath. Some reproachful words having passed between him and Sir George Wharton, son of Lord Wharton, a duel ensued at Islington, 8th Nov. 1609, when both were killed on the spot, and two days thereafter they were interred in one grave in Islington churchyard. The letters written from one to the other previous to the duel are printed in the Gentleman’s Magazine for November 1800, from the Harleian MS. 787, fol. 596. the challenge was sent by Sir George, and accepted by Sir James, who thus wrote: “To that end I have sent you the length of my rapyer, which I will use with a dagger, and so meet you at the farther end of Islington, at three of the clocke in the afternoon.” He married Lady Dorothy Hastings, second daughter of George, fourth earl of Huntingdon, but had no issue by her.

      The Hon. Walter Stuart, the third son of the first lord, and a doctor of medicine, was the father of the celebrated court beauty, Frances Theresa Stuart, who became Sophia, married to the Hon. Henry Bulkeley, master of the household to Charles the Second, and also to is brother James, fourth son of Thomas, first Viscount Bulkeley. Of the eldest daughter the ‘la belle Stuart,’ of Grammont’s Memories, King Charles the Second was supposed to have been desperately enamoured, and that he might be at liberty to marry her, he is said to have entertained the design of getting divorced from his queen. this scheme, however, was, to his great indignation, rendered abortive, by Miss Stuart’s privately marrying Charles, fourth Duke of Richmond and Lennox, a match which is thought to have been promoted by Lord Clarendon, to prevent the king carrying his intention into effect. The marriage was publicly declared in 1667. In the Memories de Grammont is a fine portrait of this famous beauty, from an original picture by Sir Peter Lely, of which the following is a woodcut:

[portrait of Frances Theresa Stuart, Duchess of Richmond]

Out of compliment to her, Charles ordered her figure to be perpetuated as Britannia on our copper coins. The youngest daughter, Sophia, was the mother of Anne, wife of James, duke of Berwick, natural son of King James the Second, and other children.

      On the death of William, second Lord Blantyre, 29th November 1638, he was succeeded by his eldest son, Walter, third lord, who married Margaret, daughter of Sir William Mure of Rowallan, but had no issue. He died in October 1641, when his brother, Alexander, became fourth Lord Blantyre. By his wife, Margaret, daughter of John Shaw of Greenock, he had a daughter, Helen, married to James Muirhead of Bredishohn, and a son, Alexander, who succeeded him as fifth lord.

      The fifth Lord Blantyre was very zealous for the revolution. He raised a regiment to support King William, from whom he received a pension. At the meeting of the convention, 9th June 1702, his lordship was one of the seceding members who protested against its legality, and was by them sent up to London, with an address to Queen Anne, containing the reasons of their procedure. This her majesty refused to receive, but allowed Lord Blantyre to wait upon her. His lordship took the oaths and his seat in the Scottish parliament 12th July 1703, the day the act of security was discussed. Having given utterance to some intemperate and undutiful expressions, in presence of her majesty’s advocate, against the high commissioner, a complaint was exhibited against him by the Lord Advocate, and he was in consequence placed in custody by order of the Lord High Constable. On the 13th August a petition from his lordship was read, entreating the commissioner and the estates of parliament to accept of his submission and most humble acknowledgments of the expressions of which he had been guilty On the petition being read, he was ordered to the bar of the house, to the end that he might there, kneeling, beg pardon of the commissioner and the estates for his said offence, pay a fine of five thousand pounds, and continue in custody until the fine be paid, or a valid bond be given for the payment thereof. On being brought to the bar accordingly, the Lord Chancellor declared that the Commissioner was pleased to dispense with his making his acknowledgments on his knees, to which the estates agreed. His lordship gave obedience to the rest of the sentence, and thereupon was dismissed from the bar, and allowed to take his place. He died 20th June 1704. Macky describes him as a little active man, very low in stature, shortsighted, fair complexioned, towards fifty years old [Macky’s Memoirs, p. 232.] He was twice married, first to Margaret, eldest daughter of Sir John Henderson of Fordel, in Fife, baronet, without issue, and, secondly, to Anne, daughter of Sir Robert Hamilton, Lord Pressmennan, sister of John, second lord Bellhaven, and by her he had five sons, Walter, and Robert, who both succeeded to the title; John, an advocate; James, who died at sea; and Hugh; and four daughters.

      Following the death of Walter, sixth Lord Blantyre, his brother Robert, seventh Lord Blantyre, was a captain in the army, and fort major of fort St. Philip in Minorca, when the title devolved upon him. He died at Lennoxlove, a seat of the family in Haddingtonshire, 17th November 1743. He married, first, Lady Helen Lyon, eldest daughter of John, fourth earl of Strathmore, by whom he had a son, who died young; secondly, Margaret, daughter of the Hon. William Hay of Drummelzier, brother of the first marquis of Tweeddale, and by her he had six sons; Walter, William, Alexander, who all succeeded to the title; John, died unmarried; James, captain in the third regiment of foot guards, with the rank of lieutenant-colonel in the army, killed at the battle of Guildford, in North Carolina, 15th march, 1781; and Charles, in the civil service of the Hon. East India company, a member of the Supreme council of Bengal, particularly mentioned in Dirom’s narrative of the campaign in India, 1792, as giving efficiency to the measures of Lord Cornwallis in his campaign against Tippoo; and four daughters.

      Walter, eighth lord Blantyre, resided much on the continent, and died unmarried at Paris 21st May 1751, in the 25th year of his age. Contemporary accounts represent him as a young nobleman of great promise, accomplished manners, and amiable character, and in the Scots Magazine for 1751 are two poetical tributes to his memory.

      His next brother, William, ninth Lord Blantyre, was a colonel in the service of the states of Holland. He died, unmarried, at Erskine, 16th January 1776.

      Alexander, tenth Lord Blantyre, on succeeding to the title, went to reside at Erskine house, in Renfrewshire, the principal seat of the family. “He had,” says the author of the Old Statistical Account of that parish (vol. xix. page 63), “for a number of years before that time, been engaged in a course of practical farming in East Lothian, in consequence of which he had not only acquired an accurate and extensive knowledge of the general principles of agriculture, but was able to descend into detail, and to direct and oversee every minute operation.” He died at Clifton 5th November, 1783. He had married Catherine, eldest daughter and heiress of Patrick Lindsay of Eaglescairnie, Haddingtonshire, an ancient branch of the noble family of Halyburton, and had a daughter, born 26th December 1775, married, 5th October 1809, to Rev. Dr. Andrew Stewart, minister of Bolton, and four sons, viz., Robert Walter, who succeeded to the title; Patrick, who inherited Eaglescairnie, lieutenant-colonel of the 19th regiment of foot; William, captain in the 1st regiment of foot-guards, with the rank of lieutenant-colonel, who served in the expedition to Holland in 1799; and Charles, barrister-at-law.

      Robert Walter, eleventh Lord Blantyre, was born 10th June 1777, and at the age of eighteen entered the army, having obtained an ensign’s commission in the 3d regiment of foot-guards in 1795. He was afterwards captain in the 32st regiment of foot, and became lieutenant-colonel of the 42d. He rose to the rank of lieutenant-general, and was a companion of the Bath. He served in Holland in 1799, in Egypt in 1801, as aide-de-camp to General Stuart, in the expedition to Pomerania and Zealand in 1807, and with Lord Wellington in Spain and Portugal in 1809. At the general election of 1806, he was chosen one of the sixteen representatives of the Scottish peerage. He was for some time lord-lieutenant of Renfrewshire. After having escaped the dangers of many a bloody battle-field, his lordship was accidentally shot by a musket ball when looking from the window of his hotel during the commotions at Brussels, 22d September, 1830. He married Frances, second daughter of the Hon. John Rodney, grand-daughter of the celebrated Admiral Lord Rodney, by whom he had six sons and five daughters. His eldest son, Alexander, died young in 1814, and he was succeeded by his second son, Charles Walter, twelfth Lord Blantyre, born 21st December 1818. He was a lieutenant in the Grenadier Guards. He married, 4th October, 1843, Lady Evelyn Leveson-Gower, second daughter of the Duke of Sutherland, and had issue a son, Hon. Walter Stuart, born at Erskine House in 1851, and several daughters.

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