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The Scottish Nation

SPYNIE, Baron, a title (dormant since 1671) in the peerage of Scotland, conferred in 1590, on Alexander Lindsay, fourth son of the tenth earl of Crawford. This personage was vice-chamberlain of James VI., whom he accompanied on his matrimonial expedition to Denmark in October 1589. He lent the king ten thousand gold crowns towards the expenses of the expedition, and in the following characteristic letter James promises to raise him to the peerage on his return: “Sandie. Quhill (till) youre goode happe furnels me sum better occasion to recompense youre honest and faithfull service utterid be youre diligente and cairfulle attendance upon me, speciallie at this tyme, lett this assure you, in the inviolabill worde of youre awin prince and maister, that quhen Godd randeris me in Skotlande, I sall irrevocabilie, and with consent of parliament, erect you the temporalitie of Murraye in a temporall lordship, with all honours thereto appertaining, and left this serve for cure to your present disease. From the castle of Croneburg, quhare we are drinking and dryving our in the auld manner. J.R.” In fulfillment of this promise, and in acquittance of the 10,000 gold crowns lent to him, the king granted a charter of the lordship of Spynie, Kinnedder, Rafford, and other lands in the counties of Elgin, Banff, and Inverness, formerly belonging to the see of Moray, united into the free barony of Spynie, with the title of Baron Spynie, to Alexander Lindsay and his heirs and assignees, dated 6th May 1590.

A new charter was granted, 17th April 1593, of the lands of Spynie and others above mentioned, to him and dame Jean Lyon, countess of Angus, his wife, and the longest liver of them, in conjunct fee, and to the heirs lawfully procreated between them, which failing, to the nearest heirs male of the said Alexander Lord Spynie whomsoever. This lady was the eldest daughter of the tenth Lord Glammis, and widow first of Robert, master of Morton, and, secondly, of Archibald, eighth earl of Angus. Lord Spynie’s marriage with her was brought about by the king, when he was still only Alexander Lindsay, and two letters from James to her on the subject are inserted in the ‘Lives of the Lindsays,’ )vol. i. pp. 321-2). The king even wrote from Norway to Lindsay, who had evidently been sent back to Scotland previous to the return of James himself, in the following familiar terms, relative to the marriage, on which his heart seems to have been set: -- “Sandie. We are going on here in the auld way, and very merry. I’ll not forget you when I come hame. – You shall be a lord. But mind Jean Lyon, for her auld tout will mak you a new horn. J.F.” This last phrase is equivalent to “his auld brass will make me a new pan,” in one of Burns’ songs. On the 15th August 1592, Colonel Stuart accused the Lord Spynie of secret conference with James’ great tormentor, the turbulent earl of Bothwell, with the view of bringing him to court to make his reconciliation with the king. Spynie seems in this to have been actuated by spite to the master of Glammis, then treasurer, whom he knew Bothwell also hated. With the former Spynie had been at feud since November 2, 1588, when he took the gift of the king’s guard over his head, although the master of Glammis had been appointed captain of the guard by parliament. Part of the charge against him was that he had received Bothwell into his lady’s house of Aberdour, in Fife, where he lived in great magnificence and hospitality, “that family,” says Row, (Hist. of the Kirk, vol. i. p. 470.) “being rather like a court than a nobleman’s family.” Spynie denied the charge, and offered to fight his accuser by single combat. This the king would not permit, but appointed a day for his trial, and in the meantime the colonel was warded in the castle of Edinburgh, and Spynie in the castle of Stirling. On the day fixed for the trial, Spynie appeared, but his accuser did not come forward. Another day was fixed, at which his accuser’s probation failing, Spynie was restored to his honour, dignity, and service, yet did he never recover his former credit with the king, but was still held suspected, and whether offended at this, or that the first declaration was true in itself, the year following he took open part with Bothwell, and was therefore denounced rebel. (Spottiswood’s History, p. 389.)

Some inclination, says Lord Lindsay, to the Popish faith may have also concurred to this. When the earl of Bothwell invaded the palace of Holyrood-house on the night of the 24th July that year, Lord Spynie was one of the noblemen who interceded for him with the king. In 1605 he resigned the temporalities of the see of Moray, at the desire of the king, when the latter wished to restore the ancient bishopric. A letter from James to him on this occasion, written in a more dignified style than some of his former epistles, in which he desires him “to be content with the terms of payment,” is inserted in the Lives of the Lindsays, (vol. i. p. 324, Note). The patronage of the church livings, above fifty in number, was reserved by Lord Spynie, and held by the family till the title became dormant in the end of 1671, when it was resumed by the crown. Lord Spynie was inadvertently slain in a casual encounter in the High Street of Edinburgh in July 1607, in attempting to prevent bloodshed between his kinsmen, the earl of Crawford and Sir David Lindsay of Edzell, the fatal stroke having been given by the latter. Sir David was in arms to avenge upon the earl the assassination of his uncle, Sir Walter Lindsay. The ballad entitled ‘Lord Spynie’ is founded on a tradition which seems to have nothing of truth in it but the circumstance of the first lord’s accidental death on the High Street of Edinburgh. According to it, however, the young Lord Spynie had seduced and deserted Lady Jane, the sister of Lindsay of Edzell. Her elder brother having, says the story, met the “false lord” on the High Street of Edinburgh, told him, in the usual style of such romantic legends, that “all the blood in his body could not wash out the stain in his sister’s character,” and then plunged a dagger into his heart, as a matter of course, “and though the deed was done in open day and in the presence of several persons, he was allowed to escape home.” Lord Spynie had three sons and two daughters. The latter were, the Hon. Anne Lindsay, married to Sir Robert Graham of Innermay, and the Hon. Margaret Lindsay, wife of John Erskine of Dun.

The eldest son, Alexander, second Lord Spynie, voted for the obnoxious five articles of Perth in the parliament of 1621. He fought in Germany under Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, and acquired high reputation as a brave and enterprising officer, particularly for his defence of Stralsund. By letters patent for life, dated 26th June 1626, he had been appointed muster-master-general, which office was confirmed to him 28th June 1633, after his return from Germany. He joined the marquis of Montrose at Perth, after the battle of Tippermuir, in September 1644. He was taken prisoner by the earl of Argyle, at Aberdeen, on the 19th of that month, and two days thereafter, sent under a guard to Edinburgh. He died in March 1757. He was twice married, but had issue (two sons and two daughters) only by his second wife, Lady Margaret Hay, only daughter of the first earl of Kinnoul, lord-chancellor of Scotland. Alexander, master of Spynie, his elder son, predeceased him, without issue. George, his younger son, was third and last Lord Spynie. The Hon. Margaret Lindsay, his elder daughter, married William Fullarton of Fullarton, Ayrshire.

The third Lord Spynie steadily adhered to Charles I. in his misfortunes. He opposed the delivering up of that ill-fated king to the parliament of England, in January 1647, and in the “Engagement” for the rescue of Charles in 1648, he was colonel of the Stirlingshire and Clackmannan horse. After the king’s death, he greatly impoverished his estate by raising forces for the service of Charles II. Taken prisoner at the battle of Worcester in 1651, he was sent to the Tower of London, and excepted out of Cromwell’s act of grace and pardon in 1654. On the death of Ludovick, fourteenth earl of Crawford, the male representation of that ancient family devolved on Lord Spynie, who was served heir male of David, earl of Crawford, 8th November 1666. He died, without issue, in December 1671.

In accordance with an order of the House of Peers, the lords of session made a return dated 12th June 1739, of the state of the Scots peerage at that period. As to this title, the following is their report: “Spynzie. – That the patent creating Lord Spynzie has not hitherto been found in the records, nor has any person sat in parliament under that title since the year 1669, neither has any person claimed a vote in virtue thereof at any election since the Union; but whether this peerage is extinct, they cannot say.”

In 1784, William Fullarton of Fullarton, at one period lieutenant-colonel in the Portuguese service, great-great-grandson of Lady Margaret Fullarton, daughter of the second Lord Spynie, claimed the title as great-great-grandnephew and undoubted heir of line of the third lord. The House of Lords, on 18th April 1785, decided that the succession was limited to the heirs male of the first Lord Spynie; consequently that the claimant had no right to the peerage. His grandson, Mr. Lindsay Carnegie of Spynie and Boysack, became the representative of the family in the female line.

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