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The Earls of Melville

The Earls of Melville

The family of Melville which holds these two earldoms is descended from Sir John Melville of Raith in Fifeshire. Sir John, who was a member of the reforming party in Scotland, was put to death for high treason on the 13th of December 1548; he left with other children a son Robert (1527—1621), who in 1616 was created a lord of parliament as Lord Melville of Monymaill. Before his elevation to the Scottish peerage Melville had been a stout partisan of Mary, queen of Scots, whom he represented at the English court, and he had filled several important offices in Scotland under her son James VI. The fourth holder of the lordship of Melville was George (c. 1634—1707), a son of John, the 3rd lord (d. 1643), and a descendant of Sir John Melville. Implicated in the Rye House plot against Charles II., George took refuge in the Netherlands in 1683, but he returned to England after the revolution of 1688 and was appointed secretary for Scotland by William III. in 1689, being created earl of Melville in the following year. He was made president of the Scottish privy council, but he was deprived of his office when Anne bedime queen in 1702, and he died on the 20th of May 1707. His son David, 2nd earl of Melville (1660—1728), fled to Holland with his father in 1683; after serving in the army of the elector of Brandenburg he accompanied William of Orange to England to head a regiment raised by himself he fought for William at Killiecrankie and, elsewhere, and as commander-in-chief of the troops in Scotland he dealt prornptly and effectively with the attempted Jacobite rising.

Alexander Leslie, 1st earl of Leven, was succeeded in his earldom by his grandson Alexander, who died without sons in July 1664. The younger Alexander’s two daughters were then in turn countesses of Leven in their own right; and after the death of the second of these two ladies in 1676 a dispute arose over the succession to the earldom between John Leslie, earl (afterwards duke) of Rothes, and David Melville, and earl of Melville, mentioned above. In 1681, however, Rothes died, and Melville, who was a great-grandson of the 1st earl of Leven, assumed the title, calling himself earl of Leven and Melville after he succeeded his father as earl of Melville in 1707. Since 1805 the family has borne the name of Leslie-Melville, In 2906 John David Leslie-Melville (b. 1886) became 12th earl of Leven and 11th earl of Melville.



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