1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Cromarty, George MacKenzie, 1st Earl of
CROMARTY, GEORGE MACKENZIE, 1st Earl of (1630–1714), Scottish statesman, was the eldest son of Sir John Mackenzie, Bart., of Tarbat (d. 1654), and belonged to the same family as the earls of Seaforth. In 1654 he joined the rising in Scotland on behalf of Charles II. and after an exile of six years he returned to his own country and took some part in public affairs after the Restoration. In 1661 he became a lord of session as Lord Tarbat, but having been concerned in a vain attempt to overthrow Charles II.’s secretary, the earl of Lauderdale, he was dismissed from office in 1664. A period of retirement followed until 1678 when Mackenzie was appointed lord justice general of Scotland; in 1681 he became lord clerk register and a lord of session for the second time, and from 1682 to 1688 he was the chief minister of Charles II. and James II. in Scotland, being created viscount of Tarbat in 1685. In 1688, however, he deserted James and soon afterwards made his peace with William III., his experience being very serviceable to the new government in settling the affairs of Scotland. From 1692 to 1695 Tarbat was again lord clerk register, and having served for a short time as a secretary of state under Queen Anne he was created earl of Cromarty in 1703. He was again lord justice general from 1704 to 1710. He warmly supported the union between England and Scotland, writing some pamphlets in favour of this step, and he died on the 17th of August 1714. Cromarty was a man of much learning, and among his numerous writings may be mentioned his Account of the conspiracies by the earls of Gowry and R. Logan (Edinburgh, 1713).
The earl’s grandson George, 3rd earl of Cromarty (c. 1703–1766), succeeded his father John, the 2nd earl, in February 1731. In 1745 he joined Charles Edward, the young pretender, and he served with the Jacobites until April 1746 when he was taken prisoner in Sutherlandshire. He was tried and sentenced to death, but he obtained a conditional pardon although his peerage was forfeited. He died on the 28th of September 1766.
This earl’s eldest son was John Mackenzie, Lord Macleod (1727–1789), who shared his father’s fortunes in 1745 and his fate in 1746. Having pleaded guilty at his trial Macleod was pardoned on condition that he gave up all his rights in the estates of the earldom, and he left England and entered the Swedish army. In this service he rose to high rank and was made Count Cromarty. The count returned to England in 1777 and was successful in raising, mainly among the Mackenzies, two splendid battalions of Highlanders, the first of which, now the Highland Light Infantry, served under him in India. In 1784 he regained the family estates and he died on the 2nd of April 1789. Macleod wrote an account of the Jacobite rising of 1745, and also one of a campaign in Bohemia in which he took part in 1757; both are printed in Sir W. Fraser’s Earls of Cromartie (Edinburgh, 1876).
Macleod left no children, and his heir was his cousin, Kenneth Mackenzie (d. 1796), a grandson of the 2nd earl, who also died childless. The estates then passed to Macleod’s sister, Isabel (1725–1801), wife of George Murray, 6th Lord Elibank. In 1861 Isabel’s descendant, Anne (1829–1888), wife of George, 3rd duke of Sutherland, was created countess of Cromartie with remainder to her second son Francis (1852–1893), who became earl of Cromartie in 1888. In 1895, two years after the death of Francis, his daughter Sibell Lilian (b. 1878) was granted by letters patent the title of countess of Cromartie.