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The Scottish Nation

ERROL, Earl of, a title in the peerage of Scotland, first conferred by King James the Second, on 17th March 1452-3, with that of Lord Hay, on Sir William Hay, of Errol, descended from William de la Haya, principal butler at the court of King Malcolm the Fourth, and witness to many of his charters. According to tradition, Hay, a brave rustic in the reign of Kenneth the Third, by whose exertions the Danes were defeated about 980, was the founder of the noble family of Errol, but Douglas, in his Peerage, asserts that the Hays of Scotland are certainly a branch of the Anglo-Norman Hays, who came into Britain with William the Conqueror. The story of Hay is simply this: – The Danes having landed in Aberdeenshire, ravaged the country as far as the town of Perth. King Kenneth hastened to give them battle, and the hostile armies met at Loncarty, in Perthshire. The Scots at first gave way, and fled through a narrow pass, where they were stopped by a countryman of great strength and courage, and his two sons, who had no other weapons than the yokes of their ploughs, they having been at work in a field not far from the scene of action. Upbrading the fugitives for their conduct in flying from the field, these peasants succeeded in rallying them. The Scots turned upon their conquerors, and after a second rencounter, still more furious than the first, they gained a compete victory, It is said that after the Danes were defeated, the old rustic, lying on the ground, wounded and fatigued, cried, “Hay! Hay!” which word became the surname of his posterity. The king rewarded him with as much land in the Carse of Gowrie as a falcon should fly over before she settled; and a falcon being accordingly let off, flew over an extent of ground six miles in length, afterwards called Errol, and lighted on a stone, still styled the Falcon-Stone. The king also raised him to the dignity of nobility, and assigned to him and his family armorial bearings in accordance with the signal service which he and his two sons had rendered to their country. It appears from many histories that there were families of the name of Hay both in Italy and France even before the era of the battle of Loncarty. [See HAY, surname of.]

      Sir Gilbert de la Haya, a descendant in the fifth generation from the above Sir William de la Haya, living in the time of Malcolm the Fourth, was by Robert the Bruce created high constable of Scotland. By charter dated 12th November 12314, (No. 45 in Anderson’s Diplomata,) the office became hereditary in the family. He also conferred on him the lands of Slains in Aberdeenshire.

      William, first earl of Errol, got charters under the great seal of various lands in 1446 and 1450. In 1457 he was one of the Scots commissioners that concluded a treaty with the English, and died soon afterwards. His office of lord high constable was one of the best in point of revenue in the kingdom; among the various perquisites that were attached to it were the hostiligia, which by some have been held to imply “free lodging in every place where the king might reside,” while others believe that it referred to a hearth-tax levied for the constable from every “reeking house in Scotland, of sax pennies Scots.” During the great rebellion of the Douglases, when James the Second had thoughts of quitting the kingdom, his affairs appearing for a time desperate, the first earl of Errol resigned great emoluments, namely constable fees, which had previously been levied on everything brought to market in th time of parliament, both small and great, as the act recites, a sacrifice which is supposed to have been intended to gain the king popularity with his discontented subjects. From time to time indemnification to the family was proposed, but nothing was ever done towards it, nor any settled revenue assigned to the high constable.

      His eldest son, Nicol, second earl, died in 1470, and was succeeded by his brother William, third earl, who was one of the privy council of James the Third, and in 1472 was nominated a commissioner to treat of a peace with England. He died in 1506.

      His eldest son, William, fourth earl, was sheriff of Aberdeen, and had great dependencies and bonds of manrent from some of th principal families in the country. He accompanied James the Fourth to the fatal battle of Flodden, where he was slain 9th September 1513.

      His son, William, fifth earl, was, according to Calderwood, a man well “learned both in humanitie and divinitie, and speciallie weill versed in the New Testament. He would rehearse word by word the choicest sentences, speciallie suche as served to establishe solid comfort in the soule by faith in Christ. Much suffered he for the cause of Christ. Mr. Robert Alexander, advocate, who had been his schoolmaster, set forth his testament in Scottish metre, which was printed after in Edinburgh, anno 1571, by Thomas Bassandine, printer. It was dedicated to Lilias Ruthven, Ladie Drummond.” The dedicatory epistle is inserted in Calderwood’s Hist. of the Kirk of Scotland, vol. i. p. 134. He was one of the privy council to James the Fifth, and in 1515 was one of the commissioners sent to France, to endeavour to get the Scots included in their treaty with the English. He was also, in the following year, with others, sent by the estates of Scotland to the king of England with their refusal to comply with his desire, in removing the duke of Albany from the guardianship of their young king. Dying without surviving male-issue, before the year 1535, in him ended the male line of William fourth earl of Errol. The earldom, constabulary, &c., therefore, devolved upon George, son of the Hon. Thomas Hay of Logie-Almond, second son of the third earl, who got that estate by marrying Margaret Logie, heiress thereof.

      George, sixth earl, obtained from King James the Fifth a charter under the great seal, dated 13th December 1541, of the whole estate and heritable constabulary, as next heir male to William, the last earl. The narrative bears that the king was desirous that the earldom of Errol and constabulary of Scotland should remain and continue. He was one of the lords who signed the bond of consent to the marriage betwixt Queen Mary and the earl of Bothwell, and died after 1574.

      His eldest son, Andrew, seventh earl, married Lady Jean Hay, only daughter and heiress of William fifth earl of Errol, whereby the collateral heir male and the heir female of line of this noble family were united. He was one of the privy council of Queen Mary, to whom he was always faithful and loyal. He died in 1585. By his first countess he had three sons and one daughter, namely, Alexander, who died before his father; Francis, who became eighth earl; Thomas, who died without issue; and the lady Eleanor, married to the earl of Linlithgow. By his second wife, Lady Agnes Sinclair, daughter of the earl of Caithness, he had a son, the Hon. Sir George Hay of Killour, whose grandson succeeded as eleventh earl.

      Francis, eighth earl, was one of the heads of the popish faction which, in 1589, entered into a treasonable correspondence with Philip of Spain and the duke of Parma, and with the earls of Crawford, Huntly, and Bothwell, broke out into rebellion. On the king’s advance against them, however, they surrendered at Aberdeen, but, after a few months’ confinement, were set at liberty by his majesty amidst the rejoicings on account of his approaching marriage. On 31st July 1592 the earl was committed to the castle of Edinburgh, bot soon released, and again entered into a treasonable correspondence with Spain, a part of which was intercepted. He was summoned before parliament, 8th January 1592-3, and on his refusal to appear was denounced rebel on the 8th February. On the 25th of the following September he and the earls of Angus, Huntly, and others, were formally excommunicated by the provincial synod of Fife convened at St. Andrews. On the 17th October he appeared in the king’s presence with Huntly and Angus, and offered to submit to a legal trial. A day was fixed, and on 26th November it was finally settled that the three earls and their associates should be exempted from prosecution, provided that before the 1st February 1594 they should either submit to the church and renounce the errors of popery, or remove out of the kingdom. To these conditions they refused to accede, and levying a formidable force, at the battle of Glenlivet, 3d October 1594, they defeated the king’s troops, under the earl of Argyle, though the latter were far superior in number. He afterwards went to the Continent, and in 1596 having obtained permission to return, he landed at Stonehaven on 20th September, and in the following year was formally ‘relaxed’ from the horn, but was not absolved from the excommunication till the year 1617. Having become reconciled to the court, he got so much in favour with James the Sixth that the latter appointed him one of the commissioners to treat of a union with England, one of James’ favourite projects, 11th July 1604. He died at Slains castle 16th July 1631, and is celebrated by Arthur Johnston, in an epitaph. He was three times married. By his first two wives, the one a daughter of the earl of Athol, and the other of the regent Murray, he had no issue, but by his third wife, Lady Elizabeth Douglas, daughter of the earl of Morton, he had three sons and eight daughters.

      His eldest son, William, ninth earl, having been brought up at court, and educated in the protestant religion, was in great favour with King Charles the First, and acted as lord high constable at the coronation of that ill-fated monarch at Holyroodhouse abbey, 18th June 1633. From his splendid style of living he was obliged to sell the old paternal estate of the family in the carse of Gowrie, which had been granted to his ancestors by King William the Lion, reserving only some superiorities. He died 7th December 1636.

      His only son, Gilbert, tenth earl, was too young to be engaged in the beginning of the troubles of King Charles the First’s reign, but was a staunch loyalist, and had a pension settled on him in 1639. In 1648 he was colonel of horse for Aberdeenshire, in the duke of Hamilton’s ‘Engagement’ for the rescue of Charles the First. IN 1650 he waited on Charles the Second at Aberdeen, and was most graciously received. He raised a regiment for his majesty’s service at his own charge, and immediately after the coronation of the king at Scone, he stated to his majesty, in a memorial, the claims of his family for compensation for the great sacrifices made by the first earl in the time of King James the Second, for the public good. In answer, a letter from the king to the earl (preserved in the family archives) thus concludes: “And we do promise, in verbo principis, that as soon as it shall please Almighty God to put an end to the present troubles, the claims of our said cousin the earl of Errol, shall be favourably considered, and justice done; so that he may see how highly we esteeme that ancient family, and the value we set upon his present services.” In 1661 he was appointed one of the king’s privy council. He married Lady Catherine Carnegie, daughter of James earl of Southesk, by whom he had no issue; upon which he made a resignation of his whole estates, honours, dignities, hereditary constabulary, &c., failing himself, in favour of Sir John Hay of Killour, his cousin, and nearest male heir, and the heirs male of his body, which failing, to his own nearest and lawful heirs whatever, with power of nomination, on which a charter was passed under the great seal, 13th November 1666. On his death in 1674, the male line of the first marriage of Andrew, eighth earl of Errol, ended, and the estate and honours devolved upon the next male heir, Sir John Hay of Killour, grandson of Sir George, before mentioned.

      John, eleventh earl, married Lady Anne Drummond, daughter of James third earl of Perth, by whom he had Charles, twelfth earl; and two other sons, who both died young, with two daughters, Mary, who succeeded her brother as countess of Errol, and Margaret, married to James fifth earl of Linlithgow, and fourth earl of Callendar (attainted in 1715), to whom she had only one daughter, Lady Anne Livingston, undoubted heir of line of the noble and ancient family of the Livingstons, earls of Linlithgow and Callendar. This lady married the last earl of Kilmarnock, (who was beheaded and attainted in 1746,) to whom she had three sons, the eldest of whom, James Lord Boyd, succeeded as thirteenth earl of Errol.

      The eleventh earl died 30th December 1704, and was succeeded by his eldest son, Charles, twelfth earl, who, in the Scots parliament of 1706, opposed the Union with all his power and interest, considering it derogatory to the honour and independence of Scotland, and entered a solemn protest against it. He was considered so disaffected that on the alarm of the French invasion in 17 08 he was apprehended, and though in a bad state of health, was for some time kept closely confined in the castle of Edinburgh. He died, unmarried, in 1717, and was succeeded by his elder sister, Lady Mary, countess of Errol, who married Alexander, son of Sir David Falconer, lord president of the court of session in 1682. At the coronation of George the Second, her ladyship claimed to act by deputy as high constable of Scotland, which claim was allowed, and the duke of Roxburghe officiated for her on the occasion. Under the act for abolishing heritable jurisdictions she obtained for the regality of Slains twelve hundred pounds sterling, in full of her claim of five thousand pounds. On her death, without issue, 19th August 1758, the estate and titles devolved, as above shown, on James, Lord Boyd, the grandson of her sister.

      James, thirteenth earl, would have united in his own person the four earldoms of Errol, Kilmarnock, Linlithgow, and Callendar, had the three last not been attainted (see these titles), as well as the ancient dignity of lord high constable of Scotland, which had been entailed on the earl of Errol by the articles of Union of the two kingdoms and by the act of the British parliament of 1748, for abolishing the heritable jurisdictions of Scotland. The earl was born 20th April 1726, and was educated at the school of Dalkeith and the university of Glasgow. In 1745 he had a commission in the 21st regiment of foot, and at the battle of Culloden was on the king’s side, when his father and next brother were on that of the Pretender. After his father’s execution he claimed his estate, and his claim was allowed by the court of session in 1749, and by the House of Lords in 1751. At the coronation of George the Third in 1761, he officiated as constable of Scotland, and neglecting, by accident, to pull off his cap, when the king entered, he apologised for his negligence in the most respectful manner; but his majesty entreated him to be covered, for he looked on his presence at the solemnity as a very particular honour. In 1767 he was appointed one of the lords of police, and in 1770 elected a Scots representative peer. He died 3d July 1778. He married, first, in 1749, Rebecca, daughter of Alexander Lockhart, Esq., a lord of session by the title of Lord Covington, by whom he had a daughter, Mary, married to General John Scott of Balcomie. He married, secondly, in 1762, Isabella, daughter of Sir William Carr, baronet, of Etal, in Northumberland, by whom he had three sons and nine daughters. George and William, the two eldest sons, were successively earls of Errol. James, the youngest, an officer in the navy, was accidentally drowned in 1797. The thirteenth earl of Errol is mentioned with high praise in Forbes’ Life of Beattie, and in Dr. Anderson’s ‘Bee,’ vol. v. there is a biographical sketch of him.

      The eldest son, George, fourteenth earl, an officer in the army, married in 1790, Elizabeth-Jemima, second daughter of Joseph Blake, Esq. of Ardfry in Galway, Ireland, sister of the first Lord Wallscourt, but had no issue. At the general election 30th June 1796, he was chosen one of the Scots representative peers, but the earl of Lauderdale protested and petitioned the House of Lords against his return, on the ground that he was not the male descendant of the original earls, but, on the charter of 1666, his election and title were declared valid by the House of Lords 19th May 1797. He died 14th June 1798, aged 32. He had accompanied the expedition against Ostend the previous year. He was then labouring under the disease which terminated his existence, and was subject to occasional attacks of delirium, in one of which he is said to have disclosed the object of the expedition prematurely.

      His brother, William, born 12th March 1772, succeeded as fifteenth earl. He had assumed, 28th March, 1795, the additional surname and arms of Carr. In 1805 he was appointed knight marechal of Scotland, and in 1806, chosen a representative peer. He was also for several years lord high commissioner to the Church of Scotland. He was thrice married. By his first wife, Jane, daughter of Matthew Bell, Esq., he had an only daughter, married to the Rev C.W. Wodehouse. By his second wife, Alicia, youngest daughter of Samuel Elliot, Esq. of Antigua, he had James, Lord Hay, killed at Waterloo, 18th June 1815; William-George, sixteenth earl; Samuel, a captain in the army; and four daughters; and by his third countess, Harriet, the sister of Lord Somerville, he had a son and two daughters. He died 26th January 1819.

      William-George, sixteenth earl, K.T. and G.C.H., born 21st February 1801, married 4th December 1820, Elizabeth Fitzclarence, the third of the natural daughter os William the Fourth, and by her had a son and three daughters. He was lord steward of the household, and afterwards master of the buckhounds, and was created a baron of the United Kingdom, 31st May 1831, by the title of Baron Kilmarnock of Kilmarnock. In 1832 he was constituted knight marechal of Scotland. He was also lord-lieutenant of Aberdeenshire. He died in 1846.

      His son, William-Harry, 17th earl, a major in the rifle brigade, 1855, born 3d May 1823, married 1848, Eliza-Amelia, eldest daughter of Major-General the Hon. Charles Gore, a son of 2d earl of Arran in Ireland; issue, Charles Gore, Lord Kilmarnock, born 1852; and Hon. Arthur, born 1855. Was wounded in the hand at the battle of the Alma.

      The seventeenth earl of Errol is the twenty-second lord high constable of Scotland, and as such is by birth the first subject in the kingdom after the blood royal, having a right to take precedence of every hereditary honour. The houses of Tweeddale and Errol claim a common progenitor (see TWEEDDALE, marquis of).

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