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Historic Earls and Earldoms of Scotland
Chapter III - Earldom and Earls of Huntly
Section XX



THE Aboyne Peerage commenced in 1627, when Charles I. created Lord John Gordon, second son of the first Marquis of Huntly, Viscount of Aboyne and Lord Melgum. Unhappily, as stated in a preceding section, the Viscount was burned to death in the tower of Frendraught, on the 8th of October, 1630. Having left no male issue, the Peerage in his person terminated. In 1632, George, Lord Gordon, eldest son of the first Marquis, was created Viscount of Aboyne in his father’s lifetime; and, if he should survive his father and succeed to the Marquisate, the title of Viscount should descend to his second son, James, and his heirs male. On the death of his father in 1636, he succeeded as second Marquis of Huntly, while the Aboyne Peerage descended to his second son, James, who then became second Viscount of Aboyne.

His action and proceedings in the Covenanting struggle have been noticed in a preceding section. He died at Paris in the spring of 1649, and, leaving no issue, the Viscounty of Aboyne became extinct.

After the Restoration, Charles, the fourth son of the second Marquis of Huntly, was created Earl of Aboyne, Lord Strathavon and Glenlivet, on the 14th of September, 1660. This was granted to him "on account of the great services rendered by the late Marquis of Huntly and his predecessors to the Kings of Scotland; and in consideration of the fidelity and singular activity in the Royal service of Charles Gordon, uncle of the Marquis of Huntly. His Majesty grants to the said Charles, and the heirs male of his body for ever, the title, dignity, and honour of an Earl and Lord of Parliament, as that in all time coming he shall be styled Earl of Aboyne, Lord Strathavon and Glenlivet; with all the other honours, privileges, immunities, and precedence due and suitable to an Earl."

By a charter under the Great Seal, dated the 14th April, 1662, Charles II. incorporated the Lordships of Aboyne, Glentanner, Glenmuick, Cabrach, Strathavon, and other lands, into one free earldom, lordship, and barony, "to be called now and in all time coming the Earldom, Lordship, and Barony of Aboyne. To be held of the King and his successors in fee heritable, free Earldom, Barony, and Lordship for ever."

In 1676, Charles II. granted a long charter in favour of Charles, first Earl of Aboyne, who had resigned the lands of the Earldom for new infeftment because they were claimed by the Marquis of Huntly; but the Marquis resigned his rights. In this charter the lands embraced in the Earldom of Aboyne are given in minute detail, and the deed was of much topographic and local interest.

Charles Gordon, the first Earl of Aboyne, was a man of great energy, ability, and sound judgment. It was stated in a preceding section, that during the minority of his nephew, the fourth Marquis of Huntly and first Duke of Gordon, Aboyne had the management of the Huntly estates.

He married, first, Margaret Irvine, a sister of the Laird of Drum, by whom he had an only daughter. Margaret Irvine was a lady of great attractions, and was poetically commemorated as "Bonnie Peggy Irvine." She died in 1664, and her daughter, Lady Ann Gordon, was served heir to her mother on the 17th of June, 1665. The Earl married, secondly, Lady Elizabeth Lyon, a daughter of John, Earl of Kinghorn, by whom he had issue.

The Earl of Aboyne occasionally indulged in writing verses, and several of his pieces occur in manuscript collections of the period. He wrote a satire on the Duke of Lauderdale.

About the year 1671 he built the west wing of Aboyne Castle.

He died in 1681. By his Countess, Lady Elizabeth Lyon, he had three sons and one daughter. His daughter, Lady Elizabeth, married John, the eldest son of the Earl of Cromartie.

He was succeeded by his eldest son, Charles, second Earl of Aboyne. He married Lady Elizabeth, a daughter of Patrick, Earl of Strathmore, and had issue. He died in 1702, and was succeeded by his son, Charles, third Earl of Aboyne.

The Earl married Grace, a daughter of Sir George Lockhart of Carnwath—a well-known Jacobite, and a keen opponent of the Union. Aboyne joined Mar’s Rising, which involved the family in many difficulties. He died in 1732, and left three sons.

He was succeeded by his eldest son, Charles, a boy of six years, fourth Earl of Aboyne. The young Earl acquired strong Jacobite feelings, and probably he would have joined the Rising of 1745, if his friends had not wisely conveyed him to France under the colour of completing his education.

On attaining his majority, he found the lands of the Earldom heavily burdened; and in order to clear off the debt, in 1749 he sold the lands of Glenmuick to John Farquharson of Invercauld. He then became afraid that, owing to the limits of his estates, he would be unable to live in Scotland and keep up his equipage. Accordingly he sent his baggage to Paris, intending shortly to follow and live abroad. His love for the land of his birth, however, ultimately prevailed, and he ordered his baggage to be brought back.

The Earl then earnestly directed his attention to the improvement of his lands. He planted woods, erected about 40 miles of stone fences, and endeavoured to induce his tenants to adopt improved methods of agriculture; and he cleared his estates of debt.

In 1759 he married, first, Lady Margaret Stewart, a daughter of the sixth Earl of Galloway, and by her he had a son and two daughters. His Countess died at Aboyne Castle on the 12th of August, 1762. In 1774 he married, secondly, Lady Mary Douglas, a daughter of the ninth Earl of Morton, by whom he had a son, who eventually succeeded to his cousin’s estates in Forfarshire, and then assumed the name of Hallyburton.

After a very active and upright life, the Earl died at Edinburgh, on the 28th of December, 1794 He was succeeded by his eldest son, George, fifth Earl of Aboyne. He was born in Edinburgh on the 28th of June, 1761. At an early age he joined the army. Subsequently he was engaged in France at the Court of Louis XVI.; and returned home shortly before the Revolution.

In 1794 he was elected one of the representative Peers of Scotland, and acted in this position for 18 years. He was created a British Peer in 1815, under the title of Baron Meldrum of Morven, in virtue of which he had a seat in the House of Lords. On the death of the fifth Duke of Gordon in 1836, the Earl of Aboyne claimed the title of Marquis of Huntly, and the Committee of Privileges admitted his claim. The Committee announced that the Earl of Aboyne had a right to the title of Marquis of Huntly, Earl of Enzie, Viscount Melgum and Aboyne, Lord of Badenoch and Aboyne.

The Earl in 1801 built the east wing of the Castle of Aboyne. In 1831 he erected the suspension bridge which spans the Dee a short distance above Charlestown of Aboyne solely at his own expense. In 1791 he married Catherine, a daughter of Sir Charles Cope of Brewern, and by her he had six sons and three daughters. His third son, Lord John Frederick, was born in 1799. He was a captain in the navy; and represented Forfarshire in Parliament for several years. When he succeeded to his uncle’s estate of Pitcur, he assumed the name of Hallyburton. Lord Henry was born in 1802, and entered the service of the East India Company. Lady Catherine married the Hon. Charles Compton Cavendish; and Lady Mary married Frederick William Seymour.

The Marquis died on the 17th of June, 1853, at the great age of 93 years. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Charles, tenth Marquis of Huntly and sixth Earl of Aboyne. He was born in 1792; and was educated at the University of Cambridge, and graduated in 1812.

In 1826 he married, first, Lady Elizabeth Henrietta, a daughter of the first Marquis of Conyngham, by whom he had no issue; and secondly, in 1844 he married Marian Antoinette, only daughter of the Rev. Peter William Pegus, and by her he had six sons and seven daughters.

While Lord Strathavon, he was elected member of Parliament for East Grinstead, which he represented for twelve years. He was one of the Lords in waiting, and a deputy-lieutenant of Aberdeenshire. The Marquis died on the 18th of September, 1863, in his seventy-first year.

He was succeeded by his eldest son, Charles, eleventh Marquis of Huntly and seventh Earl of Aboyne. He was born on the 5th of March, 1847, and on the 14th of July, 1869, he married Amy, eldest daughter of Sir William Cunliffe Brooks, of Barlow Hall and Glen Tana.

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