This name is derived from
the lands of Middleton of Conveth in the Kincardineshire parish of Laurencekirk so named
because these lands formed the central portion of three parcels of lands, all called
Conveth. The first of the name appears to be Umfridus de Midilton who witnessed the grants
of lands to the Abbey of Arbroath in 1221. For about three centuries the family bore the
designation "of Middleton of that Ilk", and had an Earldom conferred upon them.
John 1st Earl of Middleton was from a youth "bred to arms" and first served in
Hepburns regiment in France but returned in 1639 to join the Covenanters. For a short time
he joined the English Parliamentary Army but then rejoined the Covenanters and was second
in command at the Battle of Philiphaugh in 1645. He was taken prisoner at the Battle of
Preston where he had been Lieutenant-General but managed to escape Cromwell's forces.
After being taken prisoner at the Battle of Worcester he managed to escape again and join
the King in France and lead a Royalist rising in Scotland in 1653. The exiled Charles II
created Middleton an Earl in 1656 ; this was ratified in 1660 when he was made
Commander-in-Chief in Scotland and Commissioner to the Scottish Parliament. He was
deprived of the office in 1663 accused of many miscarriages of justice, accepting fines,
debauchery and being "perpetually drunk". After his disgrace he retired to a
friary in Guilford and stayed in the house of a Scotsman named Dalmahoy where he led a
quiet life. Later, as a decent exile, he was appointed governor of Tangier. He was to die
there in 1673 after falling down stairs. His only son, Charles, inherited the title, but
it died with him in 1746 and has remained unclaimed ever since.