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15th-17th Century

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Soldiers and Statesmen      #top


15th Century: The Power of the Scottish King 

For three centuries Scotland was ruled by the dynasty that began with the marriage of Walter Fitzalan, High Steward of Scotland and Marjory Bruce, king Roberts' daughter. Although they were related to the Stewart royal family, the Montgomeries found that their loyalty was tested again and again as the Stewarts continually increased the power of the throne.

Sir John de Montgomerie(1398-1429) 10th Earl of Eagleshame and 2nd of Eglinton and Ardrossan.

James I was a captive of the English until released in exchange for a large ransom and a number of hostages, including Sir John de Montgomerie. This sacrifice did not prevent his arrest by James only two years later.

Alexander, First Lord Montgomerie (1429-1470)

With any lingering disfavour forgotten, Alexander held several important positions including Lord of Parliament  and Privy Councillor. In 1445 he was created Lord Montgomerie by James II.

Alexander, Second Lord Montgomerie

The reign of James III was an unhappy one, ending with his murder in 1488. Amidst such treasonous activity, the Montgomeries remained loyal to the Stewarts but joined the nobles revolt against an unpopular King.

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16th Century: The Defence of the Scottish Throne

Scotland and England were seldom at peace. Scotland's 'Auld Alliance' with France was the main cause of the conflict that brought death to 12,000 Scots, including James IV, on the battlefield of Flodden. The Alliance, with it's association with the Roman Church, was also responsible for the demise of James V, after his army was defeated by Henry VIII at Solway Moss.

For the fifth consecutive time, Scotland was left to an infant Monarch. The inevitable strife was not calmed by the arrival of the Catholic Mary Queen of Scots in 1561 accompanied from France by the 3rd Earl of Eglinton. Her short reign ended after the murder of her husband Lord Darnley, and her marriage to the Earl of Bothwell. Final defeat came at the Battle of Langside.

The loyalties of the Scots Lords were divided and local feuds were fuelled by disagreement on National issues. The reign of James VI was also disrupted by a rebellious clergy determined to eradicate any vestiges of popery. It was perhaps with some relief that James VI left Edinburgh to become King of England.

Hugh 1st Earl of Eglinton 1483-1545

The 3rd Lord Montgomerie was one of the nobles who in 1488, fought against James III at Sauchieburn. Hugh's Loyalty to the Prince, who became James VI, was rewarded with the title of Earl of Eglinton.

Hugh 2nd Earl of Eglinton 1545-1546

Despite a short tenure as Earl, Hugh was active in support of the Stewarts. With his father he joined the young James V after his escape from the custody of the Red Douglas.

Hugh 3rd Earl of Eglinton 1546-1585

Eglinton was one of the leading supporters of Mary Queen of Scots, having travelled with her from France. Imprisoned for treason after the Battle of Langside, he eventually acknowledged James VI and took part in the Ruthven Raid which in 1582, rescued the King from imprisonment.

Hugh 4th Earl of Eglinton 1585-1586

Inseparable from National affairs were local disputes like the Cunninghame - Montgomerie feud: the families were on opposite sides of every division. In 1488 James IV ordered the destruction of the Cunninghames Kerelaw Castle (in Stevenston) and in belated retaliation 40 years later, Eglinton Castle was burned to the ground. In the second year of the 4th Earls tenure, the Cunninghames murdered the Earl.

Hugh 5th Earl of Eglinton 1586-1612

The Montgomeries loyalty to the Stewarts was consolidated by the 5th Earl and in the year of his coronation as King of England, James VI granted Eglinton the Barony of Kilwinning. In 1609, at the insistence of the Privy Council, the Montgomeries made peace with the Cunninghames. The 5th Earl died without an heir.

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17th Century: The end of the Stewart Dynasty

Under the government of it's Privy Council and the influence of the Kirk, Scotland was hardly troubled by the absentee King James. The reign of his son Charles was rather different. His belated coronation in Edinburgh was an Anglican ceremony that demonstrated the arrogance and insensitivity that ultimately cost the King his life.

In 1638 the Scots nobles formed a provisional government that signed the National Covenant. The Scots played a vital role in the victory of the English Parliamentary army at Marston Moor, but their opposition to the imprisonment of the King brought defeat by Cromwell's New Model Army at Worcester in 1651. The resultant military occupation of Scotland continued until the restoration of Charles II in 1660.

The Scots nobles largely complied with the rule of Charles II, but the revival of domineering rule by James VII made them sympathetic to the Glorious Revolution that brought William III to the throne. Despite the victory of the Jacobite loyalists at the Battle of Killiecrankie, the long rule of the Stewart dynasty was over.

Alexander 6th Earl of Eglinton 1612-1661

With the end of the 400 year Montgomerie lineage it was the 5th Earls cousin Sir Alexander Seaton, who succeeded as 6th Earl. 'Greysteel' continued the distinguished family tradition, becoming a Privy Councillor and carrying the spurs at the Coronation of Charles I. One of the signatories to the national Covenant, he fought in every campaign until his capture in 1651. He was released in 1661 and died the next year.

Hugh 7th Earl of Eglinton 1661-1669

The Eglinton lands were forfeited under Cromwell's rule. Hugh like 'Greysteel' fought with the Scots forces. He was captured and imprisomed by the English at the Battle of Worcester.

Alexander 8th Earl of Eglinton 1669-1701

Although the family lands were restored in 1660, recovery was delayed by the 8th Earl's absence. Commander of King William's cavalry at Killiecrankie, he became Privy Councillor and lived in Yorkshire, having passed the estate to his son.

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