1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Buchan, Earls of

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BUCHAN, EARLS OF. The earldom of Mar and Buchan was one of the seven original Scottish earldoms, later, Buchan was separated from Mar, and among the early earls of Buchan were Alexander Comyn (d. 1289), John Comyn (d. c. 1313), both constables of Scotland, and Henry Beaumont (d. 1340), who had married a Comyn. John Comyn's wife, Isabel, was the countess of Buchan who crowned Robert the Bruce king at Scone in 1306, and was afterwards imprisoned at Berwick; not, however, in a cage hung on the wall of the castle. About 1382 Sir Alexander Stewart (d. c. 1404), the "wolf of Badenoch," a son of King Robert II., became earl of Buchan, and the Stewarts appear to have held the earldom for about a century and a half, although not in a direct line from Sir Alexander.[1] Among the most celebrated of the Stewart earls were the Scottish regent, Robert, duke of Albany, and his son John, who was made constable of France and was killed at the battle of Verneuil in 1424. In 1617 the earldom came to James Erskine (d. 1640), a son of John Erskine, 2nd (or 7th) earl of Mar, whose wife Mary had inherited it from her father, James Douglas (d. 1601), and from that time it has been retained by the Erskines.

  Perhaps the most celebrated of the later earls of Buchan was the eccentric David Steuart Erskine, 11th earl (1742-1829), a son of Henry David, 10th earl (d. 1767), and brother of Henry Erskine (q.v.), and of Thomas, Lord Erskine (q.v.). His pertinacity was instrumental in effecting a change in the method of electing Scottish representative peers, and in 1780 he succeeded in founding the Scottish Society of Antiquaries. Among his correspondents was Horace Walpole, and he wrote an Essay on the Lives of Fletcher of Saltoun and the Poet Thomson (1792), and other writings. He died at his residence at Dryburgh in April 1829, leaving no legitimate children, and was followed as 12th earl by his nephew Henry David (1783-1857), the ancestor of the present peer. The 11th earl's natural son, Sir David Erskine (1772-1837), who inherited his father's unentailed estates, was an antiquary and a dramatist.

Endnotes[edit]

  1. In August 1908, during some excavations at Dunkeld, remains were found which are supposed to be those of Alexander Stewart, the "wolf of Badenoch.”