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The Scottish Nation

LEARMONTH, a surname as old as the reign of Malcolm III. The principal family of the name was Learmonth of Ercildoune in the Merse, of which was Thomas the Rhymer, the earliest poet of Scotland (see RYMER, Thomas of Ercildonne). A younger son of this celebrated personage is said to have married Janet Dairsie, heiress of Dairsie, in Fife, and to have obtained with her that estate and the heritable offices of bailie and admiral of the regality of St. Andrews. Sir James Learmonth of Dairsie, master of the household to King James V., was provost of St. Andrews in 1546.

      Learmonth of Balcomie, also in Fife, of this family, was master of the household to James IV. In a note to his Introduction to the metrical Romance of Sir Tristrem, Sir Walter Scott says: “In removing and arranging some ancient papers, lodged in the offices of the Clerks of Session, the following genealogical memoir was discovered, among many writings belonging to the family of Learmonth of Balcomy, which is now extinct. It is in the handwriting of the 17th century. ‘The genealogy of the honourable and ancient sirname of Leirmont. Leirmont bears Or, on a chevron, S, three mascles voided of the first; the name is from France. The chief of the name was the laird of Ersilmont in the Merse, whose predecessor, Thomas Leirmonth, (lived) in the reign of Alexander III. He foretold his death. One of whose sons married Janet de Darsie, and had the lands of Darsie in Fife, be that marriage; the contract is yet extant confirmed be the king. The house of Darsie bear a rose in base for difference. It is now extinct; only Leirmont of Balcomie in Fife, is chief now, whose predecessor was master of howshold to King James IV. His predecessor was the eldest son of Darsie, and took to himselfe the estate of Balcomie, leaving Darsie to the second brother. Upon this account, Balcomie is holden of the king, and Darsie of the archbishop of St. Andrews; so Balcomie bears the simple coat without the rose in base, since the distinction of Darsie.’” In 1604 Sir John Learmonth of Balcomie, knight, was one of the commissioners appointed to treat with the English commissioner, relative to a treaty of union with England, a favourite project of James VI. He was a member of the assembly held at Perth on 25th August 1618, at which the five articles were agreed upon, he voting for them. On the renewal of the high commission in 1619 he was one of the members of that arbitrary tribunal. Both families have long been extinct; the name, however, is not uncommon in Scotland. (See DARSIE.)

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