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The Earls of Crawford

Earls of Crawford

The house of Lindsay, of which the earl of Crawford is the head, traces its descent back to the barons of Crawford who flourished in the 12th century, and has included a number of men who have played leading parts in the history of Scotland. It is said that ”though other families in Scotland may have been of more historic, none can in genealogical importance equal that of Lindsay,” and the Lindsays claim that “the predecessors of the 1st earl of Crawford were barons at the period of the earliest parliamentary records, and that, in fact, they were never enrolled in the modern sense of the term, but were among the pares, of which kings are primi, from the commencement of recorded history.” And again we are told, “the earidom of Crawford, therefore, like those of Douglas, of Moray, Ross, March and others of the earlier times of feudalism, formed a petty principality, an imperium in iinperio.” Moreover, the earls “had also a concilium, or petty parliament, consisting of the great vassals of the earldom, with whose advice they acted on great and important occasions.”

Sir James Lindsay (d. 1396), 9th lord of Crawford in Lanarkshire, was the only son of Sir James Lindsay, the 8th lord (d. c. 1357), and was related to King Robert II.; he was descended from Sir Alexander Lindsay of Luffness (d. 1309), who obtained Crawford and other estates in 1297 and who was high chamberlain of Scotland. The 9th lord fought at Otterburn, and Froissart tells of his wanderings after the fight. He was succeeded by his cousin, Sir David Lindsay (c. 1360—1407), son of Sir Alexander Lindsay of Glenesk (d. 1382), and in 1398 Sir David, who married a daughter of Robert II., was made earl of Crawford.

The most important of the early earls of Crawford are the 4th and the 5th earls. Alexander Lindsay, the. 4th earl (d. 1454), called the “tiger earl,” was, like his father David the 3rd earl, who was killed in 1446, one of the most powerful of the Scottish nobles; for some time he was in arms against King James II., but he submitted in 1452. His son David, the 5th earl (c. 1440—1495), was lord high admiral and lord chamberlain; he went frequently as an ambassador to England and was created duke of Montrose in 1488, but the title did not descend to his son. Montrose fought for James at the battle of Sauchieburn, and his son John, the 6th earl (d. 1513), was slain at Flodden.

David Lindsay, 8th earl of Crawford (d. 1542), son of Alexander, the 7th earl (d. 1517), had a son Alexander, master of Crawford (d. 1542), called the “wicked master,” who quarrelled with his father and tried to kill him. Consequently he was sentenced to death, and the 8th earl conveyed the earldom to his kinsman, David Lindsay of Edzell (d. 1558), a descendant of the 3rd earl of Crawford, thus excluding Alexander and his descendants, and in 1542 David became 9th earl of Crawford. But the 9th earl, although he had at least two sons, named the wicked master’s son David as his heir, and consequently in 1558 the earldom came back to the elder line of the Lindsays, the 9th earl being called the “interpolated earl.”

David Lindsay, 10th earl of Crawford (d. 1574), was a supporter of Mary Queen of Scots; he,was succeeded by his son David (c. 1547—1607) as 11th earl. This David, a grandson of Cardinal Beaton, was concerned in some of the risings under James VI.; he was converted to Roman Catholicism and was in communication with the Spaniards about an invasion of England. After his death the earldom passed to his son David (d. 162I), a lawless ruffian, and then to his brother, Sir Henry Lindsay or Charteris (d. 1623), who became I3th earl of Crawford. Sir Henry’s three sons became in turn earls of Crawford, the youngest, Ludovic, succeeding in 1639.

Ludovic Lindsay, 16th earl of Crawford (1600—1652), took part in the strange plot of 1641 called the “incident.” Having joined Charles I. at Nottingham in 1642, he fought at Edgehill, at Newbury and elsewhere during the Civil War; in 1644, just after Marston Moor, the Scottish parliament declared he had forfeited his earldom, and, following the lines laid down when this was regranted in 1642, it was given to John Lindsay, 1st earl of Lindsay. Ludovic was taken prisoner at Newcastle in 1644 and was condemned to death, but the sentence was not carried out, and in 1645 he was released by Montrose, under whom he served until the surrender of the king at Newark. Later he was in Ireland and in Spain and he died probably in France in 1652. He left noissue.

The earl of Lindsay, who thus supplanted his kinsman, belonged to the family of Lindsay of the Byres, a branch of the Lindsays descended from Sir David Lindsay of Crawford (d. c. 1355), the grandfather of the 1st earl of Crawford. Sir David’s descendant, Sir John Lindsay of the Byres (d. 1482), was created a lord of parliament as Lord Lindsay of the Byres in 1445, and his son David, the 2nd lord (d. 1490), fought for James III. at the battle of Sauchieburn. The most prominent member of this line was Patrick, 6th Lord Lindsay of the Byres (d. 1589), a son of John the 5th lord (d. 1563), who was a temperate member of the reforming party. Patrick was one of the first of the Scottish nobles to join the reformers, and he was also one of the most violent. He fought against the regent, Mary of Lorraine, and the French; then during a temporary reconciliation he assisted Mary, queen of Scots, to crush the northern rebels at Corrichie in 1562, but again among the enemies of the queen he took part in the murder of David Rizzio and signed the bond against Bothwell, whom he wished to meet in single combat after the affair at Carberry Hill in 1565. Lindsay, who was a brother-in-law and ally of the regent Murray, carried Mary to Lochleven castle and obtained her signature to the deed of abdication; he fought against her at Langside, and after Murray’s murder he was one of the chiefs of the party which supported the throne of James VI. In 1578, however, he was among those who tried to drive Morton from power, and in 1582 he helped to seize the person of the king in the plot called the “raid of Ruthven,” afterwards escaping to England. Lindsay had returned to Scotland when he died on the 11th of December 1589. His successor was his son, James the 7th lord (d. 1601).

Patrick’s great-grandson, John Lindsay, 17th earl of Crawford and 1st earl of Lindsay (c. 1598—1678), was the son of Robert Lindsay, 9th Lord Lindsay of the Byres, whom he succeeded as 10th lord in 1616. In 1633 he was created earl of Lindsay, and having become a leader of the Covenanters he marched with the Scottish army into England in 1644 and was present at Marston Moor; in 1644 also he obtained the earldom of Crawford in the manner already mentioned. In the same year he became lord high’ treasurer of Scotland, and in 1645 president of the parliament. Having fought against Montrose at Kilsyth, the earl of Crawford-Lindsay, as he was called, changed sides, and in 1647 he signed the “engagement” for the release of Charles I., losing all his offices by the act of classes when his enemy, the marquess of Argyll, obtained the upper hand. After the defeat of the Scots at Dunbar, however, Crawford regained his influence in Scottish politics, but from 1651 to 1660 he was a prisoner in England. In i661 he was restored to his former dignities, but his refusal to abjure the covenant compelled him to resign them two years later. His son, William, 18th earl of Crawford and 2nd earl of Lindsay (1644—1698), was, like his father, an ardent covenanter in 1690 he was president of the Convention parliament. Mr Andrew Lang says this earl was “very poor, very presbyterian, and his letters, almost alone among those of the statesmen of the period, are rich in the texts and unctuous style of an older generation.”

William’s grandson, John Lindsay, 20th earl of Crawford and 4th earl of Lindsay (1702—1749), won a high reputation as a soldier. He held a command in the Russian army, seeing service against the Turk, and he also served against the same foe under Prince Eugene; Having returned to the English army he led the life-guards at Dettingen and distinguished himself at Fontenoy; later he served against France in the Netherlands. He left no sons when he died in December 1749, and his kinsman, George Crawford-Lindsay, 4th Viscount Garnock (c. 1723—1781), a descendant of the ,7th earl, became 21st earl of Crawford and 5th earl of Lindsay. When George’s son, George, the 22nd earl (1758—1808), died unmarried in January 1808, the earldoms of Crawford and Lindsay were separated, George’s kinsman, David Lindsay (d. 1809), a descendant of the 4th Lord Lindsay of the Byres, becoming 7th earl of Lindsay. Both David and his successor Patrick (d. 1839) died without sons, and in 1878 the House of Lords decided that Sir John Trotter Bethune5 Bart. (182 7—1894), also a descendant of the 4th Lord Lindsay of the Byres, was entitled to the earldom. In 1894 John’s cousin, David Clark Bethune (b. 1832), became 11th earl of Lindsay.

The earldom of Crawford remained dormant from 1808, when this separation took place, until 1848, when the House of Lords adjudged it to James Lindsay, 7th earl of Balcarres.

The earls of Balcarres are descended from John Lindsay, Lord Menmuir (1552—1598), a younger son of David Lindsay, 9th earl of Crawford. John, who bought the estate of Balcarres in Fifeshire, became a lord of session as Lord Menmuir in 1581; he was a member of the Scottish privy council and one of the commissioners of the treasury called the Octavians. He had great influence with James VI., helping the king to restore episcopacy after he had become, in 1595, keeper of the privy seal and a secretary of state. Menmuir, a man of great intellectual attainments, left two sons, the younger, David, succeeding to the family estates on his brother’s death in 1601. David (c. 1586—1641), a notable alchemist, was created Lord Lindsay of Balcarres in 1633, and in 1651 his son Alexander was made earl of Balcarres.

Alexander Lindsay, 1st earl of Balcarres (1618—1659), the “Rupert of the Covenant,” fought against Charles I. at Marston Moor, at Alford and at Kilsyth, but later he joined the royalists, signing the “engagement“ for the release of the king in 1647, and having been created earl of Balcarres took part in Glencairn’s rising in 1653. Richard Baxter speaks very highly of the earl, who died at Breda in August 1659. His son Charles (d. 1662) became 2nd earl of Balcarres, and another son, Cohn (c. 16541722), became 3rd earl. Cohn, who was perhaps the most trusted of the advisers of James II., wrote some valuable Memoirs touching tile Revolution in Scotland, these were first published lh 1714, and were edited for the Bannatyne Club by the 25th earl of Crawford in 1841. Having been allowed to return to Scotland after an exile in France, the earl joined the Jacobite rising of 1715. His successor was his son Alexander, the 4th earl (d. 1736), who was followed by another son, James, the 5th earl (1691—1768), who fought for the Stuarts at Sheriffrnuir. Afterwards James was pardoned and entered the English army, serving under George II. at Dettingen. This earl wrote some Memoirs of the Lindsays, which were completed by his son Alexander, the 6th earl in (1752—1825).

Alexander was with the English troops in America during the struggle for independence, and was governor of Jamaica from 1794 to 1801, filling a difficult position with great credit to himself. He became a general in 1803, and died at Haigh Hall, near Wigan, which he bad received through his wife, Elizabeth Dalrymple (1759—1816), on the 27th of May 1825. This earl did not claim the earldom of Crawford, although he became earl dejure in 1808, but in 1843 his son James Lindsay (1783—1869) did so, and in 1848 the claim was allowed by the House of Lords. James was thus 24th earl of Crawford and 7th earl of Balcarres; in 1826 he had been created a peer of the United Kingdom as Baron Wigan of Haigh Hall.

His son, Alexander William Crawford Lindsay, 25th earl of Crawford (1812—1880), was born at Muncaster Castle, Cumberland, on the 16th of October 1812, and educated at Eton and Cambridge. He travelled much in Europe and the East, and was most learned in genealogy and history. His’ more important works include Lives of the Lindsays (3 vols., 1849), Letters on Egypt, Edom and the Holy Land (1838), Sketches of the History of Christian Art (1847 and 1882), Etruscan Inscriptions Analysed (1872), and The Earidom of Mar during 500 years (1882). He succeeded to the title in September 1869, and died at Florence on the i3th of December 1880. A year later it was discovered that the family vault at Dunecht had been broken into and the body stolen It was not until the 18th of July 1882 that the police, acting on the confession of an eye-witness of the desecration, found the remains, which were then reinterred at Haigh Hall, Wigan.

His only son, James Ludovic Lindsay, 26th earl of Crawford, British astronomer and orientalist, was born at St Germain-en-Laye, France, on the 28th of July 1847. Educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, he devoted himself to astronomy, in which he early achieved distinction. In 1870 he went to Cadiz to observe the eclipse of the sun, and, in 1874, to Mauritius to observe the transit of Venus. In the interval, with the assistance of his father, he had built an observatory at Dunecht, Aberdeenshire, which in 1888 he presented, together with his unique library of astronomical and mathematical works, to the New Royal Observatory on Blackford Hill, Edinburgh, where they were installed in 1895. His services to science were recognized by his election to the presidentship of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1878 and 1879 in succession to Sir William Huggins, and to the fellowship of the Royal Society in 1878. He also received the degree of LL.D. from Edinburgh University in 1882, and in the following year was nominated honorary associate of the Royal Prussian Academy of Sciences. An enthusiastic bibliophile, he became a trustee of the British Museum, and acted for a term as president of the Library Association. To the free library of Wigan, Lancashire, he gave a series of oriental and English MSS. of the 9th to the 19th centuries in illustration of the progress of handwriting, while for the use of specialists and students he issued the invaluable Bibliotheca Lindesiana. He represented Wigan in the House of Commons from 1874 till his succession. to the title in 1880.

Another title held by the Lindsays was that of Spynie, Sir Alexander Lindsay (c. 1555—1607), created Baron Spynie in 1590, being a younger son of the 10th earl of Crawford. The 2nd Lord Spynie was Alexander’s son, Alexander (d. 1646), who served in Germany under Gustavus Adolphus and assisted Charles I. in Scotland during the Civil War; and the 3rd lord was the latter’s son, George. When George, a royalist who was taken prisoner at the battle of Worcester, died in 1671 this title became extinct.

The dukedom of Montrose, which had lapsed on the death of the 5th earl of Crawford in 1495 and had been revived in 1707 by the Graham family, was claimed in 1848 by the 24th earl of Crawford, but in 1853 the House of Lords gave judgment against the earl.

The Lindsays have furnished the Scottish church with several prelates. John Lindsay (d. 1335) was bishop of Glasgow; Alexander Lindsay (d. 1639) was bishop of Dunkeld until he was deposed in 1638; David Lindsay (d. C. 1641) was bishop of Brechin and then of Edinburgh until he, too, was deposed in 1638; and a similar fate attended Patrick Lindsay (1566—1644), bishop of Ross from 1613 to 1633 and archbishop of Glasgow from 1633 to 1638. Perhaps the most famous of the Lindsay prelates was David Lindsay (c. 1531—1613), a nephew of the oth earl of Crawford. David, who married James VI. to Anne of Denmark at Upsala, was one of the leaders of the Kirk party; he became bishop of Ross under the new scheme for establishing episcopacy in 1600.



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