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The Scottish Nation

OXFURD, Viscount of, a title (dormant) in the peerage of Scotland, conferred, in 1661, with the secondary title of Baron Makgill of Cousland, on Sir James Makgill of Cranston-Riddell, great-grandson of Sir James Makgill, who was provost of Edinburgh in the reign of James V., and was one of the first who embraced the Reformation in Scotland. He was descended from a family of the same name in Galloway, and had two sons. The elder, Sir James Makgill, purchased the estate of Nether Rankeillour, in the parish of Collessie, Fifeshire. He was educated at Edinburgh, for the law. In June 1554, he was appointed clerk-register, and on the 20th August following, an ordinary lord of session, when he took his seat on the bench as Lord Rankeillour. He was repeatedly employed in settling disputes on the borders, and in 1559 was one of the commissioners who concluded the treaty of Upsettlington. The same year he joined the Reformers, and was in familiar friendship with Knox. After the return of Queen Mary from France in 1561, he was sworn a member of her council, and was one of those to whom the modification of the stipends for the reformed clergy was intrusted. In 1563 he was one of a parliamentary commission appointed for visiting the universities. In 1566, for being implicated in the murder of Rizzio, he was deprived of the office of clerk-register, forced to fly from Edinburgh, and conceal himself in the Highlands. He was soon afterwards, however, pardoned, but ordered to remain north of the Tay. By the favour of the regent Moray, he was restored to the office of clerk-register in December 1567. The following year he was one of the commissioners chosen to attend the regent to York, to manage the accusation against Queen Mary, and was sent by him to London, with Maitland, younger of Lethington, not so much to assist the latter, as to watch his proceedings, as he was known to incline to the cause of Queen Mary. In 1571 and 1572, he was employed as ambassador to the court of Queen Elizabeth. He appears to have suffered considerably in the civil war which raged in Scotland at this time, as on the night of April 28th, 1571, a party of the queen’s partisans entered his house in Edinburgh, and on his wife demanding what they wanted, she was killed by a stroke from one of them. (Calderwood, vol. iii. p. 70.) His house is said to have been pulled down by the same party, and sold for firewood. In the following month, “thre cofferis of Mr. James M’Gillis going out of Leyth to Pinkie, esteemed worth 1,000 lile,” were taken by the queen’s party. (Hist. of Senators of College of Justice, p. 90.) He had either acquired the barony of Pinkie near Musselburgh, or resided there for greater security. In 1578 he and George Buchanan were chosen extraordinary members of the king’s council. He died in 1579. From him descended the Makgills of Rankeillour.

The viscounts of Oxfurd descended from David Makgill, the younger brother of Sir James Makgill of Nether Rankeillour. He was styled of Nisbet and Cranston-Riddell. Appointed a lord of session 27th June 1582, he took the title of Lord Cranston-Riddell, and the same year he became lord advocate. This last office he held till 1589. He died before 12th March 1594. His son, David Makgill, was also a lord of session, appointed 25th May 1597, and died in 1607. This gentleman’s eldest son, David Makgill of Cranston-Riddell, died without male issue, 15th May 1619.

His brother, Sir James Makgill, succeeded him in his estates, and was the first Viscount Oxfurd. He was created a baronet in 1627, appointed a lord of session, 3d November 1629, and constituted one of the commissioners of exchequer, 1st February 1645. He was elevated to the peerage, by the title of viscount of Oxfurd, and Lord Makgill of Cousland, by patent, dated 19th April 1651, to him and his heirs male of entail and provision whatsoever. He died 5th May 1663.

His son, Robert, second viscount, died 8th December 1706, aged about 58. He was twice married, but had issue only by his first wife, Lady Henriet Livingston, only daughter of the third earl of Linlithgow, namely, a son, the Hon. Colonel Thomas Makgill, who died without issue, in September 1701, and three daughters. The eldest daughter, the Hon. Christian Makgill, married the Hon. William Maitland, a younger son of the third earl of Lauderdale, and died in 1707, in her 30th year, leaving a son, Robert, who assuming the title of viscount of Oxfurd, voted as such at an election of a representative peer, 21st September 1733. In 1734, James Makgill of Nether Rankeillour, the sixth in descent from Sir James, Lord Rankeillour, claimed the title. His claim was referred to the lords’ committee of privileges, but was by them refused, on the ground that although he had proved his being heir male whatsoever, he did not possess the other requisites in the patent, that of heir of entail and of provision. The title, therefore, has remained dormant since the death of the second viscount in 1706. On the death of her nephew, Robert Makgill, above mentioned, in 1755, the Hon. Henriet Makgill, youngest daughter of the second viscount and wife of James Hamilton, younger of Orbistoun, assumed the title of viscountess of Oxfurd. She died 11th October 1758, without issue.

James Makgill, the claimant, having died without issue, he was succeeded in Nether Rankeillour, and his other estates, by his sister, Isabella Makgill, who married the Rev. William Dick, one of the ministers of Cupar. Their daughter, Margaret, heiress of Nether Rankeillour and Lindores, married the Hon. Frederick Lewis Maitland, sixth son of the sixth earl of Lauderdale, a captain R.N. Their eldest son, colonel Charles Maitland, when captain in the 17th light dragoons, was aide-de-camp to his cousin, Major-general Thomas Dundas, in the West Indies, in 1794. He was succeeded, in 1827, by his eldest surviving son, David Maitland Makgill, Esq. of Rankeillour, who, in June 1839, was served heir of line in general to the first viscount of Frendraught, when he assumed the additional name of Crichton, his ancestor, Sir James Makgill of Rankeillour, having married in 1665, the Hon. Janet Crichton, only daughter of the first Viscount Frendraught. Mr. David Maitland Makgill Crichton of Rankeillour, who distinguished himself by his support of the Free church of Scotland, died 11th July 1851, leaving issue.

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