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The Scottish Nation

FINDLATER, a surname supposed to be derived from Fin-la-terre, the French for ‘the land’s end,’ and strikingly descriptive of the locality of that name in the parish of Fordyce, Banffshire, from which the earls of Findlater (see next article) took their title, being bounded by the sea, and projecting far into it on that part of the coast.


FINDLATER, Earl of, a title (dormant since 1811) possessed by the Ogilvies, a branch of the Airlie family. It was first conferred on James, second Lord Ogilvy of Deskford, Banffshire, on 20th February 1638, to him and the heirs male of his body succeeding to him in the estates of Findlater and Deskford. He was the son of Sir Walter Ogilvy of Deskford and Findlater, created Lord Ogilvy, 4th October 1616, (see OGILVY, Lord,) and his second wife, Lady Mary Douglas, third daughter of the earl of Morton; being the sixth in direct lineal descent from Sir Walter Ogilvy of Auchleven, who, by his marriage in 1487 with Margaret, daughter and heiress of Sir John Sinclair of Deskford and Findlater, killed at the battle of Harlaw in 1411, acquired these lands, which became the distinctive possessions of his family. The first earl was nominated a privy councillor for life by parliament in November 1641, and was a member of several committees of parliament from 1641 to 1647. He married, first, Lady Elizabeth Leslie, second daughter of the fifth earl of Rothes, relict of David Wemyss, younger of Wemyss, and by her had two daughters, namely, Lady Elizabeth Ogilvy, married to Sir Patrick Ogilvy of Inchmartin, Perthshire; and Lady Ann, to the ninth earl of Glencairn, lord-high-chancellor of Scotland. He married, secondly, Lady Marion Cunningham, fourth daughter of the eighth earl of Glencairn, without issue. Having no sons, his lordship made a resignation of his titles into the king’s hands, and on 18th October 1641, obtained a new patent, conferring the earldom of Findlater, after his death, upon his elder daughter, Lady Elizabeth, and her husband, Sir Patrick Ogilvy, and his heirs male.

       Patrick, second earl, descended from Patrick de Ogilvy, probably a younger son of Patrick de Ogilvy of Wester Powrie in Forfarshire, the brother of Sir Walter Ogilvy of Auchterhouse, Sheriff of Angus, was the son of Sir Patrick Ogilvy of Inchmartin, and Anne, daughter of Sir Duncan Campbell of Glenorchy. After the grant of the new patent, he had the style of Lord Deskford in the lifetime of his father-in-law, the first earl of Findlater, and under that title was served heir to his father, Sir Patrick Ogilvy, in the lordship of Errol, Inchmartin, and other lands in Perthshire, on 5th October 1652. A fine of fifteen hundred pounds was imposed on him by Cromwell’s act of grace and pardon, 12th April 1654. He had a son, James third earl, and died 30th March 1658.

      James, third earl, was served heir to his father, 15th April 1662. He steadily supported the treaty of union in the parliament of 1706, and died in 1711. He married, first, Lady Anne Montgomery (relict of Robert Seton, son of Sir George Seton of Hailes); and secondly, Lady Mary Hamilton, third daughter of William second duke of Hamilton, killed at the battle of Worcester in 1651. By his first wife he had three sons and two daughters. The sons were, Walter Lord Deskford, who died before his father, unmarried; James, fourth earl of Findlater; and the Hon. Col. Patrick Ogilvy of Lonmay and Inchmartin, member for the burgh of Cullen in the Scots parliament, to which, on the 21st July 1704 he presented a petition, requesting the command of an independent troop of dragoons. He gave his support to the union, and was one of the representatives for Scotland chosen to the first parliament of Great Britain in 1707, and at the general election of 1708 he was elected for the Cullen burghs. He died at Inchmartin 20th September 1737, in the seventy-second year of his age. He married his cousin Elizabeth, daughter of the Hon. Francis Montgomery of Giffen, with issue.

      James, fourth earl of Findlater, and first earl of Seafield, chancellor of Scotland, born in 1664, was educated for the law, and after his return from his travels, he was admitted advocate, 16th January 1685. In 1681 he had been elected member for the burgh of Cullen in Banffshire, in the Scots parliament, and he was chosen for the same burgh to the convention of estates in 1689, when he made an energetic speech in favour of King James, and was one of the five members who dissented from the memorable vote which declared that monarch to have, by maladministration, forfeited the crown. He afterwards took the oaths to King William and Queen Mary. He had an extensive practice as an advocate, and in 1693 he was constituted solicitor-general, at which time he was knighted and appointed sheriff of Banffshire. In 1695 he was promoted to the office of secretary of state, and in virtue of a letter from the king, he sat and voted in the parliament of 1696, as lord secretary. On the 12th of September of that year, a new writ was issued to the burgh of Cullen to elect another commissioner in his room. He was created Viscount Seafield, 28th June 1698, and appointed president of the parliament which met 19th July of that year. On the 9th of the same month, he and the earl of Marchmont, lord-high-chancellor and commissioner to the parliament, arrived at Edinburgh, and met with a splendid reception. In the parliament they carried all triumphantly for the king. He was high commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1700, 1703, 1724, and 1727, and was advanced to the dignity of earl of Seafield 24th June 1701. [See SEAFIELD, earl of.] On the accession of Queen Anne, in March 1702, he was continued secretary of state, in conjunction with the duke of Queensberry. The same year he was named one of the commissioners to treat of a union, and on the first of November was appointed lord-high-chancellor of Scotland. At this period a contemporary thus describes his lordship: “He has a great knowledge of the civil law and the constitution of Scotland – understands perfectly how to manage a Scottish parliament to the advantage of the court. This, together with his implicitly executing whatever King William pleased, without ever reasoning on the subject, established him very much in that monarch’s favour; but his conduct in the affair of Darien lost him with the people. He affects plainness and familiarity of manner, but is not sincere; is very beautiful in his person, with a graceful behaviour, a smiling countenance, and a soft tongue.” [Macky’e Memoirs.] His lordship was high commissioner, or representative of the king, to the parliament of Scotland in 1703, when he was invested with the order of the Thistle. In the following year he was superseded in his office of chancellor by the marquis of Tweeddale, but on the 17th of October of the same year he was again constituted instead one of the secretaries of state. On the 9th March 1705 he was a second time appointed lord-high-chancellor of Scotland, and nominated one of the commissioners for the union. At this time so great was his unpopularity that he narrowly escaped with his life in a tumult which took place in Edinburgh, in 1705, after the trial of Captain Green and his crew, who were convicted of having committed piracy and murder on board one of the Darien Company’s vessels [Laing’s Scotland, vol. ii. p. 287.] He was a zealous and active supporter of the union, setting forth the advantages of that measure in his speeches in parliament, and when it was at length accomplished, and the Scots estates rose for the last time, he remarked with levity, “Now, there is an end of an auld sang.” His residence at this period was the noble mansion of Moray house, in the Canongate, already associated with many historical recollections, which became the scene of the numerous secret deliberations that preceded the ratification of the treaty of union. He was one of the sixteen representatives of the Scots peerage elected by parliament in 1707, and was rechosen in 1708, 1712, 1713, 1722, and 1727.

      When in London in 1717, he was sworn a member of the privy council in England, and on his return to Edinburgh, 3d July of that year, he produced to the lords of session a new commission, appointing him chancellor of Scotland, and was accordingly sworn and admitted. Doubts having arisen, however, as to the utility of this office in Scotland, while that of chancellor over the United Kingdom was held by Lord Cowper, the earl of Seafield was, it is supposed on that account, appointed lord chief baron in the court of exchequer, and admitted 25th May 1708. For his great services to the state he received also a pension of three thousand pounds per annum. In Evans’ Catalogue of British Portraits, vol. i., is one of the fourth earl of Findlater, engraved by Smith, from the original by Kneller, from which the following woodcut is taken.

[woodcut of 4th earl of Findlater]

      On succeeding to his father in 1711, he was thereafter styled earl of Findlater and Seafield. When the malt-tax was extended to Scotland he considered it an infringement of the articles of union, and was so greatly incensed on the occasion that, on 1st June 1713, he brought the subject before the House of Lords, and then was exhibited the spectacle of this the chief agent in promoting the union in the final session, only six years before, of the Scottish legislature, being the first to propose its repeal in the imperial parliament. The grievances of the Scottish nation he reduced to four heads: 1st, The being deprived of a privy council. 2d, The extension of the treason laws of England to Scotland. 3d, Scottish peers being incapacitated from being peers of Great Britain; (this was found to be an inconvenience, and was afterwards remedied;) and 4th, The Scots being subjected to the malt-tax. The National Scots Rights Association organised in 1853, in their list of grievances, do not include any of these. In the change of times others of a different nature demand consideration. But on these four, his lordship, seeing, as he said, that the union had not produced those good effects which were anticipated from it, moved for leave to bring in al bill for dissolving the union between England and Scotland, and securing the protestant succession in the house of Hanover. The motion was negatived, but only by the small majority of four, and these by proxies. There were on the occasion 108 peers present, who were equally divided, 54 for the motion and 54 against it; while of proxies 13 voted for and 17 against it. The same year he was appointed keeper of the great seal of Scotland, and he presided as chancellor in the court of session, where his knowledge of the law and a peculiar talent which he possessed for despatching business and abridging processes, rendered him eminently useful. While he always lived in a style suitable to his high station, his great abilities, industry, and prudent management enabled him not only to retrieve the family estate, which h ad become much involved, and to pay his father’s debts, but greatly to increase his landed property. He died in 1730, in the sixty-sixth year of his age. He married Anne, daughter of Sir William Dunbar of Durn, baronet, and had three sons and two daughters, namely, James, fifth earl of Findlater; the Hon. William Ogilvy, who was named after King William; the Hon George Ogilvy, who passed advocate in 1723, and died, unmarried, in January 1730; Lady Elizabeth, who married the sixth earl of Lauderdale; and Lady Janet, whose second husband was the first earl of Fife, in the Irish peerage.

      James, fifth earl of Findlater and second earl of Seafield, born about 1689, was, on the breaking out of the rebellion in 1715, one of those who were committed prisoners to the castle of Edinburgh, on suspicion of disaffection to the government. He was then styled Lord Deskford. After succeeding to the earldom he was, in 1734, appointed one of the lords of the police, and in 1737 vice-admiral of Scotland, which office he retained till his death. In 1734 he had been chosen one of the sixteen representative Scots peers, and was afterwards three times re-elected. Under the act for abolishing the heritable jurisdictions in Scotland in 1747 he was allowed, for the regality of Ogilvy, the constabulary of Cullen, and the bailiary of regality of Strathila, one thousand and eighty-five pounds nineteen shillings and fourpence, in full of his claim of five thousand five hundred pounds. He died at Cullen house, Banffshire, 9th July 1764, in the seventy-sixth year of his age. He married, first Lady Elizabeth Hay, second daughter of Thomas sixth earl of Kinnoul; and, secondly, Lady Sophia Hope, eldest daughter of Charles first earl of Hopetoun, by whom he had no issue. By his first countess he had one son, James, sixth earl of Findlater, and two daughters; Lady Margaret, married in November 1735 to Sir Ludovick Grant of Grant, baronet (see GRANT of Grant), and Lady Anne, who became the wife of the second earl of Hopetoun.

      James, sixth earl of Findlater and third earl of Seafield, born about 1714, completed an excellent education by foreign travel. Douglas (Peerage, vol. i. Wood’s edition, p. 588, note) quotes the following extract from a letter by Horace Walpole to General Conway at Rome, 23d April, 1740; “Harry, you saw Lord Deskford at Geneva, Don’t you like him? He is a mighty sensible man; there are few young people have so good an understanding. He is mighty grave, and so are you; but you both can be pleasant when you have a mind. Indeed one can make you pleasant; but his solemn Scotchery is not a little formidable.” [Orford’s Works, vol. vi.] In 1752, while yet Lord Deskford, he established a bleachfield in the north end of the parish of that name in Banffshire, where about 1,500 pieces of cloth and 1,700 spindles of thread yarn were annually whitened; but in the course of the present century, from the decay of the linen manufacture and household spinning in the parish, the bleaching also fell off, ans was given up. He also established at Cullen a considerable manufacture of linen and damask. On 29th July 1754, he was appointed one of the commissioners of customs in Scotland, but resigned his seat at that board in 1761. Three years afterwards he succeeded his father, and in 1765 he was appointed one of the lords of police. He was also one of the trustees for the improvement of fisheries and manufactures, and for the management of the annexed estates in Scotland. For several years before his death he resided constantly at Cullen house, employing himself in the promotion of agriculture, trade, and all kinds of industry. He was the first to attempt improvements both in agriculture and manufactures in the county of Banff. He brought an overseer from England, and cultivated a farm in the neighbourhood of Banff, in a manner totally unknown at that period in that part of the country. He introduced the turnip husbandry, and granted long leases to h is tenants, on condition that the latter should enclose the lands within a certain period, and that they should sow grass seeds, and summer fallow to a certain extent within the first five years of their occupancy. To encourage them to preserve the plantations on his estate from any damage by their cattle, he adopted a plan with several of his tenants of giving them, at the termination of the lease, every third tree, (or the value in money,) which had been planted during the currency of the lease. The Findlater family within fifty years previous to 1806 had planted about eight thousand Scottish acres, or at least thirty-two millions of trees. His lordship died at Cullen house 2d November 1770, in the 56th year of his age. He married at Huntingtower, 9th June 1749, Lady Mary Murray, second daughter of the first duke of Athol, and by her had two sons, James, seventh earl of Findlater, and the Hon. John Ogilvy, who died young, in 1763.

      James, seventh earl of Findlater and fourth earl of Seafield, born at Huntingtower 10th April 1750, was educated at the university of Oxford, and soon after succeeding to the earldom he went to the Continent, where he chiefly resided for the remainder of his life. He was esteemed a good classical scholar, and though he admired Horace, his favourite author was Virgil. He married at Brussels in 1779, Christina Teresa, daughter of Joseph Count Murray of Melgum, baronet of Nova Scotia, lieutenant-general in the armies of the emperor of Germany, and captain-general ad interim of the Low Countries. With his countess he did not reside long, and by her he had no issue. He died at Dresden, 5th October 1811, in his sixty-second year. On his death the earldom of Findlater became dormant, but the earldom of Seafield, with estates in Scotland worth at that period thirty thousand pounds sterling, went to his cousin, Sir Lewis Alexander Grant of Grant, baronet, who, on becoming earl of Seafield, assumed the surname of Ogilvy in addition to that of Grant. [See SEAFIELD, earl of.]

      The earldom of Findlater is claimed by Sir William Ogilvie of Carnousie, baronet, and by John Farquharson of Haughton, Esq., son of Alexander Ogilvie, Esq., by Mary Farquharson, his wife, as presumptive male heir of the Ogilvie family.

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