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Historic Earls and Earldoms of Scotland
Chapter VI - Earldom and Earls of Findlater, and Seafield
Section VII


Sir James Grant was succeeded by his eldest son, Sir Lewis Alexander Grant, a grandson of Margaret Ogilvie, and heir of the Earl of Findlater and Seafield. He was born on the 22nd of March, 1767. He studied for the bar, and entered the University of Edinburgh in 1784, and attended the requisite course. In 1789 he was called to the Scottish Bar. His first appearance in the Court of Session made a favourable impression on the presiding judge, as noticed in a preceding section.

In 1790 he was elected member of Parliament for the county of Elgin. He made his first speech in the House of Commons on the impeachment of Warren Hastings, and supported the constitutional side of the question. His speech received the attention and applause of the House. But, unhappily, in the succeeding year his health began to fail, and he was forced to retire from public life.

On the death of the Seventh Earl of Findlater and Fourth Earl of Seafield in 1811, the title of Earl of Findlater, which was limited to direct male heirs, became extinct; but the title of Earl of Seafield, and the other titles created by the patent of 1701, and all the estates of the earldom, devolved on Sir Lewis Alexander Grant of Grant, Bart., who accordingly succeeded as Fifth Earl of Seafield, Viscount Reidhaven, and Lord Ogilvie of Deskford and Cullen.

After his succession to the estates of Grant and the title and estates of Seafield, it appears that he lived in retirement with his sisters at Grant Lodge in Elgin, and occasionally visited the other seats of his wide territories. His brother, Col. Francis William Grant, was intrusted with the management of the earl’s estates.

The earl died at Cullen House on the 26th of October, 1840, in his 74th year, and, leaving no issue, he was succeeded by his brother, Colonel Sir Francis William Grant of Grant, Bart. and Sixth Earl of Seafield.

He was born on the 6th of March, 1778. He entered the army at the early age of 15, and obtained his first commission as lieutenant in the Strathspey Fencibles, raised by his father.

In 1802 he was elected member of Parliament for the Elgin and Banff district of burghs, which he represented for four years. In 1806 he was elected member of Parliament for the Inverness Burghs; in the following year he was elected member for the county of Elgin, which he represented till 1832. In 1833 he was elected member of Parliament for the united counties of Elgin and Nairn, which he continued to represent until 1840, when he succeeded to the Earldom of Seafield. Thus he was a member of Parliament for 38 years; and in politics he was a Conservative of a mild type.

He was a very considerate and kind landlord, and was much respected by the tenantry throughout the extensive estates of Grant and Seafield. He made great and successful efforts to improve his estates and the welfare of his numerous tenants. It is recorded that under his direction 8223 acres had been planted with Scotch firs, larch, and hardwoods on his territories of Seafield, Strathspey, Moray and Glen Urquhart.

The earl enlarged Cullen House, and rearranged and greatly extended the pleasure grounds around the mansion. New gardens and hothouses were formed and admirably stocked. New avenues and walks were made, ponds were formed, and many thousands of young trees, ornamental plants, and shrubs were planted. Thus Cullen House and its surroundings was rendered a charming residence.

He also directed attention to, and made special efforts to improve, the harbours of Cullen and Portsoy. The harbour of Cullen was reconstructed, enlarged, and deepened at a cost of £10,000. On the harbour of Portsoy a sum of £17,000 was expended.

Further, in his time the town of Cullen was almost rebuilt on a new site, mainly through the earl’s efforts. "In 1813 the town occupied a position more to the west, and royal burgh though it was, presented a miserable contrast as regards cleanliness, comfort, and indeed, in every respect to the present handsome town. The entire burgh consisted only of one street, towards which the gables of the houses (mostly covered with thatch), were turned, while noxious gutters yawned on either side. The place was also poor. . . . Under the auspices of his lordship, the old town was gradually removed, and on the present site there was laid out a new town, consisting of a handsome square and several spacious streets, crossing each other at right angles. . . . Building proceeded rapidly, until the burgh attained its present appearance, which, as respects architectural elegance and cleanliness, may vie with any town in the North." The first house was erected in 1820, and by 1830 the old town was removed and the new one erected.

It is said that the decay in the linen manufacture had led to the decay of the town. This offered an opportunity for improving the amenities of Cullen House. The earl usually resided at Cullen House, and his improvements, enterprise, and expenditure in the locality tended to promote the prosperity of the people.

On the 5th of August, 1841, he was elected one of the representative peers of Scotland to the Imperial Parliament, and he held this position till his death. He was a supporter of Sir Robert Peel in the early part of that statesman’s career; but, like a number of others, he seceded from Sir Robert at a later period.

The earl was twice married. He married first, on the 10th of May, 1811, Mary Anne, only daughter of John Charles Dunn of Higham House, Sussex, by whom he had six sons and one daughter. She died on the 27th of February, 1840. Secondly, he married Louisa Emma, a daughter of Robert George Maunsell, of Limerick, in 1843, by whom he had no issue.

His lordship died at Cullen House on the 30th of July, 1853, in his 76th year, and was interred at Duthil Parish Church. His funeral was a public one and was attended by a large number of people. I will quote a few sentences from a notice of his death which appeared in the "Banffshire Journal," on the 2nd August, 1853 :—" He instinctively recoiled from severe measures; and even when these would have been necessary, and where prudence might have counselled a resort to them, his lordship invariably refused to adopt them. The consequence was, that throughout his wide estates no nobleman was more truly beloved by his tenantry, who felt that they could always rely upon his indulgence. A prominent feature of his character was his love of justice and respect for his word . . . . He was ever conscious of the responsibility of his high position, and sought consistently to perform its duties . . . . In person, he was tall and of a commanding appearance. His disposition was gentle, and his manners retiring. His attainments in knowledge were of a high order, and tempered and modified by an enlarged practical acquaintance with the world and with human nature, acquired not merely at home, but during frequent residences for lengthened periods in various countries on the continent. These qualities rendered his conversation peculiarly fascinating."

He was succeeded by his eldest surviving son, Sir John Charles Grant Ogilvie, Seventh Earl of Seafield. He was born on the 4th of September, 1814 He joined the navy as a midshipman at the age of 15, and served for some time on board the ship commanded by Sir John Franklin. After the death of his eldest brother in 1840, he retired from the navy, and by his father’s succession to the Earldom of Seafield, he had the courtesy title of Lord Reidhaven and Master of Grant.

In 1841, Lord Reidhaven contested the representation of Banffshire against Mr. James Duff, afterwards Fifth Earl of Fife. Lord Reidhaven came forward as a Conservative, and fought the election with remarkable energy and vigour. The contest was very keen, but Duff carried the seat by a majority of 43 votes.

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