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MONTROSE, Duke of, a title in the peerage of Scotland, conferred by James III. on David, fifth earl of Crawford, by royal charter, dated 18th May, 1488, to himself and his heirs. On the 19th September 1489, a new patent or charter, under the great seal, was granted to him by James IV., conferring the dukedom upon him for life only. He died at Finhaven at Christmas 1495, and the dukedom is said to have then become extinct. In 1848 a petition was presented to the queen by the earl of Crawford and Balcarres, claiming it on the ground of its being vested in the heir male. This petition was referred to the House of Lords, and the claim was opposed by the Crown and the duke of Montrose, on the ground that the charter of 18th May 1488, was annulled by the act of the first year of the reign of James IV., called the Act Rescissory, and that the grant of the dukedom, made in 1489, was never registered. After hearing parties, on Aug. 5, 1853, their lordships adopted a resolution to the effect that the claimant had not made out his right to the dignity. Soon after, Lord Lindsay, son of the earl of Crawford and Balcarres, addressed a letter to the Times newspaper, protesting against the resolution of the House of Lords, and stating that he had published a full “Report of the Montrose Claim,” containing, among other documents, “an Address to her Majesty, in humble remonstrance against the opinion reported to her Majesty.” Lord Lindsay submits that the principles on which the decision of the peers is founded are, one and all, wholly repugnant to the understanding and practice of past times, and to plant equity and justice. The opinion, he farther asserts, is entitled to less than usual weight in respect to the unwonted and strange departure from established forms of procedure – the decision having been given before the voluminous evidence was ordered to be printed, and the evidence thus “arbitrarily degraded to a mere cipher or phantom.” He adds, in conclusion: “I therefore now, on these and various other grounds, formally protest, before her majesty and the country, against the opinion or report (which, be it observed, is certainly not in law a sentence or final judgment) delivered by the House of Lords on the 5th of August 1853 as unjust in itself, proceeding on error and misrepresentation throughout, and as having, in its principles, and in its application of those principles, a direct tendency to revolutionize the whole system of peerage law, and, indeed, to innovate on other departments of law, and certainly of justice, hitherto sacred from such encroachments.”


MONTROSE, Earl, marquis and duke of, titles in the peerage of Scotland, possessed by the noble family of Graham, whose origin and descent have been already given. They were first ennobled in the person of Patrick Graham of Kincardine, who in 1451 was created Lord Graham. His grandson, William, third Lord Graham, was on 3d March 1505, created earl of Montrose, the title being derived from his hereditary lands of “Auld Montrose” and not from the town of that name. He fell at the battle of Flodden, 9th September 1513. He was thrice married. By his first wife, Annabella, daughter of John, Lord Drummond, he had, William, second earl. By his second wife, a daughter of Sir Archibald Edmonstone of Duntreath, he had three daughters; and by his third wife, Christian Wawane of Segy, relict of Patrick, sixth Lord Halyburton of Dirletoun, he had two sons; Patrick, ancestor of the Grahams of Inchbraco, Gorthy, Bucklivie, and other families of the name; and Andrew, consecrated bishop of Dunblane in 1575.
William, second earl of Montrose, was one of the peers to whom the regent duke of Albany committed the charge of the young king, James V., when he himself went to France in 1517. He was one of the commissioners of regency appointed by that monarch on 29th August 1536, during his majesty’s absence in France, and in 1543, he was chosen by the Estates of the kingdom, along with Lord Erskine, to remain continually in the castle of Stirling with Queen Mary, for the sure keeping of her person. He died 24th May 1571. By his countess, Lady Janet Keith, eldest daughter of William, third earl Marischal, he had four sons and five daughters. Robert, Lord Graham, the eldest son, fell at the battle of Pinkie, 10th September 1547. His posthumous son, John, by his wife, Margaret, daughter of Malcolm, Lord Fleming, became third earl of Montrose. The Hon. Mungo Graham of Orchill, the third son, was great-grandfather of James Graham of Orchill, who, as nearest agnate above 25 years of age, was served tutor at law of James, fourth marquis of Montrose, 16th March 1688. The Hon. William Graham, the fourth son, was ancestor of the Grahams of Killearn.

John, third earl of Montrose, succeeded his grandfather in May 1571, and on 7th September the same year, he was appointed a privy councilor at the election of the regent Mar. He was one of the commissioners for the king, who concluded the Pacification of Perth, February 3d, 1572. On the king’s assumption of authority in 1578, he was appointed a privy councilor. He joined the faction against the regent Morton, and was one of the principal among those who, in 1581, brought him to the block; with the court favourite, the earl of Arran, he guarded him from Dumbarton to Edinburgh, to stand his trial, and as chancellor of the jury returned the verdict of “Guilty art and part” against him, circumstances which necessarily led to a feud between Montrose and the powerful family of Douglas. In 1583 the castle of Glasgow, then held for the duke of Lennox, surrendered to him. He was appointed an extraordinary lord of session, 12th May 1584, in the room of the earl of Gowrie, who was beheaded on the 4th of that month, and on the 13th he succeeded that nobleman as lord-treasurer. After the return of the earl of Angus and the banished lords in November 1585, he was deprived of both offices. On 6th November 1591, he was again admitted an extraordinary lord of session, the king’s letter bearing that he had “been dispossessed of the place of befoir without ony guid caus or occasion.” He was appointed high-treasurer of Scotland, 13th May 1584, and lord-chancellor, 15th January 1599, after the office had been vacant for more than three years.

After James’ accession to the throne of England, the earl of Montrose was nominated lord-high-commissioner to the Estates which met at Edinburgh 10th April 1604. In a continuation of this parliament held at Perth 11th July, 1604, he was appointed one of the commissioners for the treaty of union then projected between the two kingdoms of Scotland and England. Having resigned the office of chancellor, it was conferred on Alexander Seton, Lord Fyvie, one of the lords of session, and in recompense, a patent was granted by the king to the earl, dated at Royston, in December 1604, creating him viceroy of Scotland for life, the highest dignity a subject can enjoy, and bestowing on him a pension of £2,000 Scots. In virtue of this commission he presided at the meeting of the Estates at Perth, 9th July 1606, wherein the Episcopal government in the church was restored. His name appears as commissioner to the parliament which met at Edinburgh 18th March 1607. He died 9th November 1608, in his 61st year. Calderwood says: “Because he had been his majesty’s grand commissioner in the parliaments preceding, and at conventions, his majesty thought meet that he should he buried in pomp, before any other were named. So he was buried with great solemnity. The king promised to bestow forty thousand merks upon the solemnity of the burial, but the promise was not performed, which drew on the greater burden upon his son.” (Hist. of the Kirk of Scotland, vol. vii. P. 38.) By his countess, Jean, eldest daughter of David, Lord Drummond, he had three sons and a daughter. The sons were, 1. John, fourth earl; 2. Sir William Graham of Braco; and 3. Sir Robert Graham of Scottistown.

John, fourth earl, was appointed president of the council in July 1626, and died 24th November same year. In Birrel’s Diary (p. 34), under date 19th January 1595, it is mentioned that the young earl of Montrose fought, a combat with Sir James Sandilands at the Salt Trone of Edinburgh, thinking to have revenged the slaughter of his cousin, Mr. John Graham, who was slain by the pistol-shot, and four of his men killed with swords. The fourth earl married Lady Margaret Ruthven, eldest daughter of the first earl of Gowrie, who was executed for treason in 1584. He had one son, James, fifth earl and first marquis of Montrose, and five daughters. A memoir of the first marquis of Montrose is given earlier (See James GRAHAM.) By his countess, Lady Magdalen Carnegie, sixth daughter of the first earl of Southesk, the first marquis had two sons. The elder, Lord Graham, earl of Kincardine, a youth of great promise, accompanied his father in his campaign of 1645, and died at the Bog of Gight in Strathbogie, in March of that year, when only sixteen years of age, and was buried at Bellie church.

[portrait of the Great Marquis of Montrose]

James, second marquis, called the good marquis, as his father is called the great marquis of Montrose, was born about 1631. He was restored to the family estates, sworn a privy councilor, and had a patent of the title of marquis of Montrose, 12th October 1660. On the trial of the marquis of Argyle, the great enemy of his father, in 1661, the marquis of Montrose refused to vote, as he felt too much resentment to judge in the matter, (Burnet’s History, vol. i. p. 213). He was appointed one of the extraordinary lords of session, 25th June 1668, but died in February following. He married Lady Isabella Douglas, countess dowager of Roxburgh, fifth daughter of the second earl of Morton, and with one daughter had two sons, James, third marquis, and Lord Charles Graham, who died young.

James, third marquis, being a minor at his father’s death, the king, Charles II., took him under his immediate protection, appointed him captain of the guards, and afterwards president of the council. At the trial of the earl of Argyle, 12th December 1681, the marquis of Montrose, his cousin-german, was chancellor of the jury who found him guilty. He died 25th April 1684. By his wife, Lady Christian Leslie, second daughter of the duke of Rothes, chancellor of Scotland, he had a son, James, fourth marquis and first duke of Montrose. As the latter was a mere child when he succeeded to the titles and estates of his family, his father had nominated as his tutors, his mother, the earls of Haddington and Perth, Hay of Drummelzier, and Sir William Bruce of Kinross. The marchioness, his mother, took for her second husband, Sir John Bruce, younger of Kinross, and on her marriage, the tutory was found null by decision of the court of session, 1st February 1688. This was thought to be a device of the king, James VII., to have the young marquis educated as a Roman Catholic. But if so, he had no opportunity of carrying his design into effect, as he was then fast verging to his fall. The case was rendered remarkable by two of the judges who had voted in favour of the tutors selected by his father, Lords Harcarse and Edmonstone, being, in consequence, removed from their seats on the bench, by a letter from the king himself. His nearest agnate, Graham of Braco, being under 25 years of age, could not be tutor at law, and James Graham of Orchill, the nearest agnate above 25, was accordingly served his tutor.

In 1702 the marquis made a great addition to his estates by purchasing the property of the duke of Lennox, as well as many of its jurisdictions; among these were the hereditary sheriffdom of Dumbarton, the custodianship of Dumbarton castle, and the jurisdiction of the regality of Lennox. He was appointed high-admiral of Scotland, 23d February 1705, and president of the council, 28th February 1706. He steadily supported the union and the protestant succession, and was advanced to the dignity of duke of Montrose by patent, dated 24th April 1707. He was one of the sixteen Scots representative peers chosen by the last parliament of Scotland, 13th February 1707, and re-chosen at the general election of 1708. He was subsequently three times re-elected. Appointed keeper of the privy seal of Scotland, 28th February 1709, he was removed in 1713, for not complying with the Tory administration. At the death of Queen Anne the following year, the duke of Montrose was appointed by George I. one of the lords of the regency. He was one of the noblemen who attended the proclamation of his majesty at Edinburgh, 5th August 1714, and on 24th September, six days after the king had landed in England, his majesty appointed his grace one of the principal secretaries of state in the room of the earl of Mar, whose dismissal led to the rebellion of 1715. His grace was sworn a privy councilor at St. James’, 4th October 1717. He had been constituted keeper of the great seal in Scotland in 1716, but was removed from that office in April 1733, in consequence of his opposition to Sir Robert Walpole.

At the meeting of parliament in 1735, a petition was presented, signed by six Scots noblemen, the duke of Montrose being one, complaining of the undue interference of government in the recent election of the sixteen Scots representative peers. It stated that the peers had been solicited to vote for a prepared list called the king’s list, that sums of money, pensions, offices, and discharges of crown debts were actually granted to peers who voted for it, and to their relations, and that on the day of election a body of troops was drawn up in the Abbey court of Edinburgh, evidently with the view of overawing the peers at the election. So strong, however, was the ministry at the time that the petition was rejected.

In the celebrated Rob Roy Macgregor Campbell, the duke, when marquis of Montrose, found a persevering and irreconcilable enemy, who turned him into ridicule and set all his power and influence at defiance. Rob Roy had been so successful in his profession of a drover or cattle-dealer, that before the year 1707 he had purchased the lands of Craigrostane, on the banks of Lochlomond, from the family of Montrose, and relieved the estate of Glengyle, the property of his nephew, from considerable debts. Previous to the union of the two kingdoms no cattle were permitted to be imported into England, but free intercourse being allowed by the treaty of union, various speculators engaged in this traffic, and among others, the marquis of Montrose, afterwards created duke, and Rob Roy entered into a joint adventure. The capital to be advanced was fixed at 10,000 merks each, and Rob Roy was to purchase the cattle and drive them to England for sale. Macgregor made his purchases accordingly, but finding the market overstocked on his arrival in England, he was obliged to sell the cattle below prime cost. The duke refused to bear any share of the loss, and insisted on repayment of the whole money advanced by him with interest. Macgregor refused to pay either principal or interest, and having spent the duke’s money in organizing a body of the Macgregors in 1715, under the nominal command of his nephew, his grace took legal means to recover it, and in security seized the lands of Craigrostane. This proceeding so exasperated Macgregor that he resolved in future to supply himself with cattle from his grace’s estates, and for nearly thirty years, down to the day of his death, he carried off the duke’s cattle with impunity, and disposed of them publicly in different parts of the country. Although these cattle generally belonged to the duke’s tenants, his grace was the ultimate sufferer, as they were unable to pay their rents, to liquidate which their cattle mainly contributed. Macgregor also levied contributions in mean and money, but he never took it away till delivered to the duke’s storekeeper in payment of rent, and he then gave the storekeeper a receipt for the quantity taken. At settling the money rents Macgregor often attended, and several instances are recorded of his having compelled the duke’s factor to pay him a share of the rents, which he took good care to see were discharged to the tenants beforehand.

His grace, who was chancellor of the university of Glasgow, died at London 7th January 1742. From a portrait of him by Sir John Medina, engraved by Cooper, the subjoined woodcut is taken:

[woodcut of duke of Montrose]

By his duchess, Lady Christian Carnegie, second daughter of the third earl of Northesk, he had, with one daughter, four sons, namely, 1st, James, marquis of Graham, who died in infancy; 2d, David, marquis of Graham, created a peer of Great Britain, by the titles of Earl and Baron Graham of Belford in Northumberland, 23d May 1722, with remainder to his brothers. He took the oaths and his seat in the House of Lords, 19th January 1727, and died, unmarried, 2d October 1731, in his father’s lifetime; 3d, William, second duke of Montrose; and 4th, Lord George Graham, a captain R.N., who in 1740 was appointed governor of Newfoundland. At the general election of 1741 he was chosen M.P. for Stirlingshire. He saw a good deal of active service afloat, and Aaron Hill wrote a poem to him on his action near Ostend, 24th June 1745. He died, unmarried, at Bath, 2d January 1747. In Buchanan House, Stirlingshire, the seat of the family, there is a painting, about quarter size, by Hogarth. It represents Lord George Graham at table in the cabin of his ship with attendants. Some parts of the group bear marks of the characteristic humour of the immortal artist.

William, second duke of Montrose, was in August 1723, on the recommendation of some of the professors of the university of Edinburgh, placed, with his brother, under the tuition of David Mallet, the poet, at that time a young man still bearing his father’s name of Malloch. On his arrival, the same month, at Shawford near Winchester, where the family resided, Mallet wrote to a friend, “Both my lord and my lady received me kindly, and as for my Lord William and Lord George, I never saw more sprightly or more hopeful boys.” With their tutor they made the tour of Europe, and Mallet translated Bossuet’s ‘Discours sur l’Historie Universelle’ for the use of his young charge.

In 1731, his grace, then Lord William Graham, succeeded his elder brother in the British peerage of Earl and Baron Graham of Belford. He also then became, by courtesy, marquis of Graham, as heir to the dukedom. On the 12th July 1739, the following adventure occurred to him. Riding at some distance before his servant near Farnham in Surrey, he was attacked in a by-lane by two highwaymen, one of whom, laying hold of the bridle of his horse, and bidding him deliver, his lordship drew a pistol, and shot him through the head. The other robber, snapping his pistol, made off, and was pursued by his lordship, till quitting his horse, he escaped into a wood.

On his father’s death is 1742, he became second duke of Montrose. Under the abolition of the heritable jurisdictions act of 1747, his grace was allowed as compensation for his hereditary office, in £5,578 18s 4d. in full of his claim of £15,000; being, for the sheriffship of Dumbarton £3,000, the regality of Montrose £1,000, of Menteith £200, of Lennox £378 18s 4d, and of Darnley £800. He died 23d September 1790. By his duchess, Lady Lucy Manners, youngest daughter of John, second duke of Rutland, he had two sons, and a daughter, Lady Lucy Graham, married to the first Lord Douglas of Douglas. The elder son died the day he was born.

James, third duke of Montrose, the youngest of the family, born 8th September 1755, was educated at Trinity college, Cambridge, where he took the degree of M.A. At the general election of 1780, he was chosen one of the members for Richmond in Yorkshire. He zealously opposed Mr. Fox’s India bill, and on the formation of the Pitt administration, 17th December 1783, his lordship was appointed one of the lords of the treasury.

In 1784 he was chosen one of the representatives of Great Bedwin, in Wiltshire. On 10th June that year he became president of the Board of Trade, on 13th July joint postmaster-general, and on 6th August, jointly with Lord Mulgrave, paymaster of the forces. He procured the repeal of the prohibitory act of 1747, whereby the Highlanders obtained the restoration of their ancient dress, which had been proscribed after the last rebellion. In 1789, when, on the illness of George III., the project of a regency was supported with great zeal by the opposition, Burke was, on one occasion, so carried away by the violence of his feelings that, in reference to his majesty, he declared “the Almighty had hurled him from his throne.” The marquis, who was seated beside Pitt on the treasury bench, instantly started to his feet, and with great warmth exclaimed, “No individual within these walls shall dare to assert that the king was hurled from his throne.” A scene of great confusion ensued. On the recovery of his majesty, the marquis was the mover of the address to the queen.

On the death of his father in September 1790, he succeeded to the dukedom. In November of the same year he was appointed master of the horse, and on 12th May 1791, he was constituted one of the commissioners for the affairs of India, and sworn a privy councilor. He was made a knight of the Thistle, 14th June 1793, and in 1795 was appointed lord-justice-general of Scotland, when he resigned the mastership of the horse. On the change of administration in February 1806, his grace was removed from the presidency of the Board of Trade, and the joint postmaster-generalship, but on his friends coming into April 1807. He retained that office till 1821, when he succeeded the marquis of Hertford as lord-chamberlain. This last office he resigned in 1827. In 1812 he had been elected one of the knights of the Garter, under the regency of the prince of Wales. His grace, like his father, was chancellor of the university of Glasgow. He was also a general of the Royal Archers of Scotland, and lord-lieutenant of the counties of Stirling and Dumbarton; D.C.L. He died Dec. 30, 1836.

In ‘Wraxall’s Memoirs of his own Times,’ the following sketch of his grace is given; “Few individuals, however distinguished by birth, talents, parliamentary interest, or public services, have attained to more splendid employments, or have arrived at greater honours than Lord Graham, under the reign of George III. Besides enjoying the lucrative sinecure of justice general of Scotland for life, we have seen him occupy a place in the cabinet, while he was joint postmaster general, during Pitt’s second ill-fated administration. In his person he was elegant and pleasing, as far as those qualities depend on symmetry of external figure; nor was he deficient in all the accomplishments befitting his illustrious descent. He possessed a ready elocution, sustained by all the confidence in himself necessary for addressing the house. Nor did he want ideas, while he confined himself to common sense, to argument, and to matters of fact. If, however, he possessed no distinguished talents, he displayed various qualities calculated to compensate for the want of great ability; particularly the prudence, sagacity, and attention to his own interests, so characteristic of the Caledonian people. His celebrated ancestor, the marquis of Montrose, scarcely exhibited more devotion to the cause of Charles I. in the field, than his descendant displayed for George III. in the house of commons. Nor did he want great energy, as well as activity of mind and body. During the progress of the French Revolution, when the fabric of our constitution was threatened by internal and external attacks, Lord Graham, then become duke of Montrose, enrolled himself as a private soldier in the city light horse. During several successive years, he did duty in that capacity, night and day, sacrificing to it his ease and his time; thus holding out an example worthy of imitation to the British nobility.”

He was twice married, first, to the eldest daughter of the earl of Ashburnham, by whom he had one son, William, earl of Kincardine, who died in his infancy; and, 2dly, to Lady Caroline Maria Montague, eldest daughter of George, 4th duke of Manchester; issue, 2 sons and 4 daughters.

James, 4th duke, the elder son, born in 1799, elected chancellor of the university of Glasgow in 1837, and in 1843 appointed lord-lieutenant of Stirlingshire, married, in 1836, previous to succeeding to the dukedom, 3d daughter of Lord Decies; issue, 3 sons and 3 daughters. Sons: 1. James, born in 1845, died in 1846. 2. James, marquis of Graham, born June 22, 1847. 3. Douglas-Beresford-Malise-Ronald, born Nov. 7, 1852. Major-general of the Royal Archers, colonel of the Stirling, Dumbarton, Clackmannan, and Kinross militia; a knight of the Thistle 1845; sworn a privy councilor 1850.

CREATIONS, -- Baron Graham, 1451, earl of Montrose, 1503, marquis of Montrose, earl of Kincardine, Baron Graham and Mugdock, 1644, duke of Montrose, marquis of Graham and Buchanan, viscount of Dunduff, Lord Aberruthven and Fintry, 1707, to the heirs male of the body of the first duke, whom failing, to the heirs of the marquis of Montrose by former patents granted to his ancestors; and Earl and Baron Graham of Belford in the peerage of Great Britain, 1722, by which last creation the duke of Montrose holds his seat in the House of Lords. The estate of Buchanan in Stirlingshire was purchased by the third marquis, who is known to antiquarians as having presented to the university of Glasgow one of the most beautiful of its Roman remains. The family have long ceased to possess any connexion with either the town of Montrose, whence they derive their principal title, or its vicinity.

The Marquis of Montrose
By John Buchan (1913) (pdf)

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