Seton, George (d.1749) (DNB00)

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SETON, GEORGE, fifth Earl of Winton (d. 1749), was the son of George, fourth earl of Winton, by his second wife, Christian, daughter of John Hepburn of Alderston. The father, though only ten years of age when in 1650 he succeeded his grandfather, George Seton, third earl of Winton [q. v.], was fined 2,000l. under Cromwell's act of grace. He left Scotland at an early age, and for some time served in the French army. Returning to Scotland, he was employed by Charles I against the covenanters, and commanded a regiment at Pentland in 1666, and at Bothwell Bridge in 1679. At his death in 1704 the son George, fifth earl, was abroad, and as he had ceased to correspond with his friends in Scotland, his residence was unknown. Before his return his right to the earldom was questioned by his cousin, Viscount Kingston [see under Seton, Alexander, (1621?–1691)], the marriage of his parents having been irregular; but in 1710 he took steps to have his right to the earldom established, and was served heir to his father. About this time he was described in Mackay's ‘Secret Memoirs’ as ‘a young gentleman who hath been much abroad in the world,’ and ‘mighty subject to a particular caprice natural to his family.’

Before the outbreak of the rebellion in 1715 the Earl of Winton took steps to organise his own retinue and those of several of his neighbours (Lockhart Papers, i. 492). In a list of Scots nobles he is inserted as having ‘300 men, most of them with their chief, against the government and in the rebellion’ (Patten, History of the Rebellion, p. 194). On 14 Oct. he joined the Earl of Kenmure at Moffat, when the chevalier was proclaimed king as James VIII. He strongly opposed the advance into England, recommending that the Jacobite force should proceed by Dumfries to Glasgow, and effect a junction with the western clans. Nevertheless he interposed to induce the highlanders to withdraw from their mutinous attitude against the entry into England; and although he himself was so strongly convinced of its hopelessness that he resolved to return home, he was finally induced, against his better judgment, to take part in the expedition. He was taken prisoner at the battle of Preston on 14 Nov. Alone of the earls tried for treason for their share in the rebellion, he refused to plead guilty. After trial he was found guilty and sentenced to death, but succeeded in making his escape from the Tower by cutting the prison bars, and went to France. He died unmarried at Rome on 19 Dec. 1749.

[Mackay's Secret Memoirs; Lockhart Papers; Patten's Hist. of the Rebellion; State Trials, vol. xv.; Douglas's Scottish Peerage (Wood), ii. 647–8.]

T. F. H.