Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

Historic Earls and Earldoms of Scotland
Chapter 1 - Earldom and Earls of Mar
Section IV

IN 1452 James II. granted the lordship of the Garioch to Mary of Gueldres, his Queen, by charter, for life. Sir William Leslie of Balquhain was Bailie of the Regality of Garioch, and he continued to act for the Queen in discharging the functions of this office. The Queen died on the 16th of November, 1463.

Robert, Earl of Mar, and Lord Erskine, died about the beginning of 1453. But his son, Sir Thomas, Lord Erskine continued to insist on his claim and right to the Earldom of Mar. At Edinburgh, on the 21st of March, 1453, Thomas, Lord Erskine, appeared before the King and the three estates of the realm, and presented a petition asking that justice should be done to him touching the lands of the Earldom of Mar and the Lordship of the Garioch. Then Sir William Crichton, Lord Chancellor of Scotland, rose and said that the King intended to be in the northern districts of his kingdom, soon after Whitsunday, and that he would there do justice to Lord Erskine. This promise was long in being fulfilled. It was four years afterwards ere the King and his Privy Council thought fit to do justice to the claim of Lord Erskine.

On the 15th of May, 1457, Lord Erskine’s claim touching the Earldom of Mar came before a Justiciary Court, held in the Town Hall of Aberdeen, at which the King was present as prosecutor in his own cause, and Sir William Crichton, the Lord Chancellor, as his advocate. The record proceeds in the names of John, Lord Lindsay of the Byres, High Justiciary of Scotland north of the Forth, and of Walter Lindsay, acting on this occasion as Sheriff of Aberdeenshire on behalf of David, Earl of Crawford—the hereditary sheriff of the county, who was then a minor. A great assemblage of bishops, barons, and freeholders crowded the hall, among whom were George, Bishop of Brechin; John, Bishop of Moray; William, Earl Marischal; William, Earl of Erroll, the hereditars- High Constable of Scotland; Alexander, Earl of Huntly; Robert) Lord Fleming; George, Lord Leslie; Sir John Ogilvie of Lintrathen; Sir Walter Ogilvie of Deskford: Sir William Leslie of Balquhain; Sir William Cranstoun of Corsbie; Sir Walter Stewart of Strathaven; William Moray of Tullibardine; Ninian Spot, comptroller of the Royal household, and many others.

The proceedings commenced by reading the summons issued by the King’s Chancery to seven of the men who had been jurors on the inquest of 1438, commanding them to appear before the King and his councillors to answer for their error, and response in favour of the late Robert, Lord Erskine, to the Earldom of Mar in the Sheriffdom of Aberdeen. The names of these seven men were—James Skene of Skene, John Mowat of Loscragy, Andrew Buchan, Thomas Allardyce of Allardyce, Ranald Cheyne, Walter Barclay of Tolly, and John Scroggs. These men having appeared in the court, Lord Erskine appeared in person for his interest, and adduced evidence from written documents showing that the jurors had been guilty of no error in returning as they did. The seven men were then removed to a separate chamber, and the King, accompanied by the chief personages mentioned above, also went into this chamber, where the men were examined; while the body of the spectators remained in the hall.

John Scroggs was called first. After admitting that he was on the service and retour of 1438, he was asked what he knew about the late Countess Isabel, he replied that he had no personal knowledge of her. Asked in what degree of kin Robert, Lord Erskine, stood to Isabel, he answered that neither at the time of the inquest, nor since, had he known anything about the point at all. Asked whether any person on the inquest had objected to the tenor of the retour, and if so, how many, he replied that five persons had objected, of whom Gilbert Menzies and John Wans were two, but he could not recollect the names of the other three. He then asserted that "he and other persons on the inquest were seduced into acting as they did by the bland words and lies of John Haddington, and other counsel of Lord Erskine; but that he now clearly knew, on consideration of the letters and right of our Lord the King, that he and the other jurors had erred, and delivered an unjust award on the subject of the half of the lands of the Earldom of Mar; for which error he most humbly implored the King’s pardon, throwing himself upon the King’s mercy for the remission of his guilt.

James Skene of Skene was next called and examined on the preceding points. He said that he knew that the late King James was in possession of the Earldom of Mar after the death of Earl Alexander; but he added that if he had known of the charters, letters, and rights of the King as he did now, he would not have decided against the King’s right as he did: that he was well aware that he and other jurors on the inquest had erred and rendered an unjust award, for which he besought the King’s mercy and pardon.

Andrew Buchan, on being called and interrogated on the points premised, replied as Skene had done, and said that the late Thomas Stewart of Garioch had died vested and seised as of fee in the Earldom of Mar, and that Elizabeth, Countess of Buchan, his wife, had the third part of the lands of the Earldom as terce through her husband’s death. Ranald Cheyne gave evidence similar to Buchan’s; and Barclay of Tolly gave the same testimony as Skene and Buchan did, and added that he was present and acting as a servant to Alexander, Lord Gordon, who personally delivered state possession, and hereditary seisin to Thomas Stewart of the lands of the Earldom of Mar. Although Thomas Allardyce of Allardyce and James Mowat of Loscragy were summoned and appeared in court, there is no record of their examination or evidence.

It appears that Lord Erskine was not permitted to cross-examine the evidence of the above witnesses. Indeed, it seems probable that he was not admitted into the chamber at all when the evidence was taken.

On the King and the lords returning from the chamber to the hall, Lord Erskine was called, and appeared in the presence of the King, bishops, barons, lords, and many free-holders of the Sheriffdom of Aberdeen and other Sheriffdoms. The Lord Chancellor then rose and said that Lord Erskine had repeatedly, in Parliament, demanded justice from the King, and that brieves of inquest should be given him from the Royal Chancery, and he now wanted to know what more Lord Erskine asked for in respect to the lands of the Earldom of Mar. Lord Erskine replied that he desired nothing more than a brieve of inquest, and execution and service, as on former occasions he had repeatedly stated.

The Lord Chancellor again rose and said :—"I, as Chancellor of our Lord the King here present, and on his part, grant to you the said brieve of inquest and execution thereof, and completion of justice in the said lands, so that you may have no just cause hereafter for complaint against our Lord the King, nor against me as Chancellor, on the ground of failure in the execution of justice." Lord Erskine immediately left the hall to advise with his counsel whether he should at once have the brieve served or not; and after consideration, he returned to the court and presented the brieve of inquest formerly obtained by him for its immediate execution.

The jurors of the inquest were immediately chosen and impanelled with the consent of Lord Erskine, and consisted of William, Earl of Erroll; Alexander, Lord Montgomery; John, Lord Lindsay of the Byres; George, Lord Leslie; Robert, Lord Fleming; Sir William Leslie of Balquhain; Sir Alexander Home of Home; Sir Walter Stewart of Strathaven Sir John Ogilvie of Lintrathen; Sir Walter Ogilvie of Deskford; Walter Barclay of Tolly, Alexander Fraser of Philorth, Alexander Dunbar, James Skene of Skene, Andrew Buchan, Andrew Menzies, Ronald Cheyne, Richard Vans, David Dempster of Auchterless, John Scroggs, and Thomas Allardyce of Allardyce. Under the presidency of Walter Lindsay, Sheriff-Depute of Aberdeen, these jurors deliberated and reported.

Then Lord Erskine, with Archibald Stewart and Alexander Graham as his advocates, asked that the brieve of inquest should be publicly read, which was done. Thereupon he asserted "1. That the late Robert, Lord Erskine, his father, had died last vested and seised as of fee, at the peace and faith of our Lord the King, of the half of the Earldom of Mar. 2. That Thomas was the nearest and lawful heir of his father in the said lands, and that these lands were in the hands of the King, according to law, through the death of Robert, his father, and in consequence of the fact that he himself had not prosecuted his right for about four years."

To this the Lord Chancellor replied, in the name of the King—"That what Lord Erskine asserted in the first of the above points was contrary to the truth, for Robert, Lord Erskine, did not die vested and seised in the Earldom of Mar; as our Lord the King was vested in the said lands, and in lawful and peaceful possession of them at the time of the death of Robert, Lord Erskine, through the decease of the late King, his father. Touching the second point of inquest, though Lord Erskine was the nearest and lawful heir of his father, yet this was never the case in regard to the lands in question. Concerning the points, in whose hands the lands now are, the truth is that these lands are in the King’s hands; as the late King died vested and in the lawful possession of them as his heritage and property, our Lord the present King received investiture and possession of them at the moment when he received his Royal crown, and thus held possession of them by the same right as his father. So the brieve sought by Lord Erskine could in no way be served. The Chancellor asserted that Lord Erskine stood in no degree of kinship whatever to Isabel, Countess of Mar; and that no person now alive knew if the late Robert, Lord Erskine, was in fact related to Isabel, and it was on such relationship that Robert based his right to the half of the Earldom. Therefore Thomas, Lord Erskine, could never obtain these lands, nor have lawful entry to them by a brieve of inquest, because after the death of Isabel, Thomas Stewart, Earl of Buchan, died vested and seised as of fee, at the peace and faith of the King, in these lands of the Earldom of Mar. That his widow, the Countess of Buchan, obtained the third part of the lands of the Earldom of Mar as her terce"

The Chancellor, continuing, asserted that the retour of service of 1438, which Robert, the late Lord Erskine, had obtained, could be of no validity, on account of the causes already stated. Consequently the seisin which followed upon this retour was quite invalid. On these grounds and many others, in the name of the King, the Lord Chancellor declared that Thomas, Lord Erskine, had no right to the lands of the Earldom of Mar, or any part of them.

Yet Erskine produced the Countess Isabel’s charter of the 9th December, 1404, which was confirmed by Robert III., and offered various reasonings on his own behalf in connection with it. This was confronted by the charter of the 12th of August, 1404, which was extorted from Isabel, subsequently renounced by Alexander Stewart, and never confirmed. There was no question as to which of the charters was valid; but the King’s side, of course, prevailed, and Lord Erskine’s claim to the Earldom was rejected.

In 1459 the gross money rental of the Earldom of Mar was £396 10s, with thirty head of cattle, for each of which was allowed, and two chalders and four bolls of "custom oats," for each of which 4d. was allowed.

James II. in 1459 granted the Earldom of Mar to his own youngest son, John, then an infant. He became a manly and promising prince. In 1475 John, Earl of Mar and Garioch, granted a charter to Duncan Forbes, son of Alexander Forbes of Brux, of the lands of Over Towy, Nether Towy, and Culfork, in the Earldom of Mar. In 1477 he ordered his bailies—William Leith of Bernis, and Alexander Abercromby, to give seisin of the lands of Johnstoun, in the regality of the Garioch, to Alexander Johnston, grandson and heir of Gilbert Johnston of Johnston, and to his wife, Agnes Glaster.

But somehow the Earl of Mar became obnoxious to the favourites of his brother—James III.; and Earl John was arrested and imprisoned in the Castle of Craigmillar, where it is said that he was bled to death. Earl John having died unmarried, and the Earldom lapsed to the Crown.

In 1482 James III. granted the Earldom to his brother, the Duke of Albany. But he was involved in a conspiracy against the Crown and the liberty of the nation; and when this became publicly known, he was forced to retire to England. Edward IV. of England died on the 9th of April, 1483, and this event and others which followed upset Albany’s schemes. On the 24th of June a Parliament met at Edinburgh, to which the Duke of Albany and Earl of Mar was summoned to appear and answer to a charge of treason; as he failed to appear, his estates were forfeited to the Crown, and also the lands of his chief adherents. Albany crossed the English Channel, and settled in France. In 1485, he was killed by the splinter of a lance while looking on at a tournament in Paris. James III. then granted the Earldom of Mar to his third son, John, a mere boy; and he died at the age of 17. The Earldom again reverted to the Crown, and continued in its possession for a period of upward of 60 years, during which there were no Earls of Mar.

In 1504 James IV. granted to Sir Alexander Gordon of Midmar a five years’ lease of the lands of Strathdee and Cromar, and appointed him bailie of these lands, and empowered him to hold courts and administer the law within these lands. In 1405 James IV. appointed William Forbes of Towie, Chamberlain of the lands and Lordships of Mar and Garioch, and empowered him to collect the King’s rents and profit of these lands and make account thereof, and to hold Chamberlain’s courts. In the following year Forbes was made bailie within the lands and bounds of Mar and Garioch, "which he has in take of the King’s highness, he making account in the Exchequer of the escheats thereof, to continue for three years and longer during the King’s will."

But large portions of the lands of the Earldom were from time to time granted to favourite vassals of the Crown. Alexander Elphinstone, son and heir apparent of Sir John Elphinstone of Elphinstone, and his wife Elizabeth Berlay, the Queen’s servant, who had come to Scotland with the intention of residing there all the days of her life, received a charter from James IV., in 1507, of the lands of Invernochty, Ballebeg, with the mill, meadow, woods, and glens of Glennochty, Invernethy, Ledmakey, Culquhony, and Culquhary, in Strathdon; Mekle Migvie, Easter Migvie, Tillypronie, Blalok, and Correcreif, in Cromar, and in the Earldom of Mar; and the lands of Duncanston, Glandirston, Rochmureall, and Tillefoure, in the Lordship of the Garioch, which were all to be erected into the barony of lnvernochty. The same year the King granted another charter to Alexander Elphinstone and his wife of the above lands, and adding the lands of Skellatar, with the Forest of Corgarf; the lands of Fenclost, Bolquham, and Balnabooth, in Glen-bucket; Balnabooth, in Kilbethok; Ballintamore, &c., with the Forest of Badenyone and Kilvalauch; Easter Clova, with Corrykeynsane; Contelauch, with Braidshaw, and the east half of Glenlos; Kinclune, in the Lordship of Strathdon, which was then to be united to the barony of Invernochty, in exchange for the lands in Cromar and those in the Lordship of the Garioch mentioned before. Elphinstone and his wife received from the King several other charters of lands in the Earldom of Mar; and in 1510 James IV. granted to him and his heirs the barony, town, and the Castle of Kildrummy.

Alexander Elphinstone in 1410 was created a Lord of Parliament under the title of Lord Elphinstone.

Return to Book Index


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus