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The Scottish Nation

ROTHESAY, Duke of, one of the titles which was vested from his birth in the eldest son of the possessor of the Scottish throne. The first who bore it was the unfortunate David, earl of Carrick, and prince and steward of Scotland, eldest son of King Robert III. In a solemn council held at Scone 28th April 1398, he was created duke of Rothesay in the Isle of Bute, his uncle the earl of Fife, regent of Scotland, being at the same time created duke of Albany. This was the first introduction of the ducal dignity into Scotland. The duke of Rothesay has continued from that time the title of the king’s eldest son as a collateral for Scotland to that of prince of Wales for England. David, first duke of Rothesay, then in his 29th year, is currently said to have fallen a victim to the ambition of his uncle the regent Albany, on 27th March 1402, but it is more likely that he died from weakness and dysentery, the consequence of his dissipated life. The dukedom was transferred by charter, dated at Perth 10th December 1404, to his brother, James, afterwards James I. of Scotland. By an act of parliament passed 27th November 1409, it was declared that “the lordship of Bute, with the castle of Rothesay, the lordship of Cowal, with the castle of Dunoon, the earldom of Carrick, the lands of Dundonald, with the castle of the same, the barony of Renfrew, with the lands and tenandries of the same, the lordship of Stewarton, the lordship of Kilmarnock, with the castle of the same, the lordship of Dalry; the lands of Nodisdale, Kilbryde, Narristown, and Cavirton; also the lands of Frarynzan, Drumcall, Trebrauch, with the fortalice of the same, ‘principibus primogenitia Regium Scotiae successorum nostrorum, perpetuis futuris temporibus, uniantur, incorporentur, et annexantur.’” Since that period, the dukedom of Rothesay, in common with the principality and stewartry of Scotland, the earldom of Carrick, the lordship of the Isles, and the barony of Renfrew, has been vested in the first-born son and heir apparent of the sovereign, with all the privileges of a peer of Scotland. In the event of the death of the eldest son, these titles pass to the king’s next surviving son, to the exclusion of a grandson, the son of the eldest prince; and when the king has no son or heir apparent, they vest in himself, as the representative of the prince who ought to possess them. He can neither give them nor withhold them.

In the Union roll of the peerage of Scotland, that is, the list of Scottish peers as it stood on 1st May 1707, laid before the House of Lords, the title of duke of Rothesay is not inserted, as the then sovereign, Queen Anne, had no son in existence at the time. On the accession of George I. in 1714, his eldest son and heir apparent, George, prince of Wales, afterwards George II., became of course duke of Rothesay, and that title was accordingly placed at the head of the roll of the peers of Scotland. His Royal highness as duke of Rothesay, voted twice by proxy at the election of Scots peers, the first time on 3d March 1715, and the second time on 28th February 1716. When he succeeded as king, his eldest son, Frederick, prince of Wales, became duke of Rothesay of right, but he never exercised his privilege of voting for a Scottish peer. He predeceased his father, 20th March 1751, and on 20th April following, his eldest son, George, afterwards George III., was created, by patent, prince of Wales and earl of Chester in England. In this patent the titles of prince and steward of Scotland, duke of Rothesay, earl of Carrick, lord of the Isles, and baron of Renfrew, in Scotland, as well as that of duke of Cornwall in England, were omitted, these honours being annexed to estates limited by law to the eldest son and heir apparent of the sovereign. In 1751, a signature being presented to the barons of Exchequer in Scotland, for expediting a charter by the king as prince and steward of Scotland, a doubt arose as to whether the principality did not belong to Prince George, the eldest son of the last prince as heir apparent of the crown. In December of the same year, the question became the subject of a conference between the whole judges of the courts of session and exchequer, but they differed in opinion, and the point was not then determined. Subsequently a temporary act of parliament was passed, entitled an act to obviate doubts that had arisen with regard to the admission of vassals within the principality of Scotland until the prince became of age, and authorizing the king to possess the principality and to exercise all acts connected with it. The prince of Wales attained majority 4th June 1759, but no farther steps were adopted for ascertaining the right to the principality. On his accession to the throne, 25th October 1760, that right became vested in his majesty, and so continued till 12th August 1762, when his eldest son, afterwards George IV., was born. His Royal highness exercised his privilege as a peer of Scotland by voting by proxy for two representatives of the Scottish peerage 28th March 1787, and at several subsequent elections (See Douglas’ Peerage, Wood’s edition, vol. ii. p. 436.)

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