1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Lauderdale, John Maitland, Duke of

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LAUDERDALE, JOHN MAITLAND, Duke of (1616–1682), eldest surviving son of John Maitland, 2nd Lord Maitland of Thirlestane (d. 1645), who was created earl of Lauderdale in 1624, and of Lady Isabel Seton, daughter of Alexander, earl of Dunfermline, and great-grandson of Sir Richard Maitland (q.v.), the poet, a member of an ancient family of Berwickshire, was born on the 24th of May 1616, at Lethington. He began public life as a zealous adherent of the Presbyterian cause, took the covenant, sat as an elder in the assembly at St Andrews in July 1643, and was sent to England as a commissioner for the covenant in August, and to attend the Westminster assembly in November. In February 1644 he was a member of the committee of both kingdoms, and on the 20th of November was one of the commissioners appointed to treat with the king at Uxbridge, when he made efforts to persuade Charles to agree to the establishment of Presbyterianism. In 1645 he advised Charles to reject the proposals of the Independents, and in 1647 approved of the king’s surrender to the Scots. At this period Lauderdale veered round completely to the king’s cause, had several interviews with him, and engaged in various projects for his restoration, offering the aid of the Scots, on the condition of Charles’s consent to the establishment of Presbyterianism, and on the 26th of December he obtained from Charles at Carisbrooke “the engagement” by which Presbyterianism was to be established for three years, schismatics were to be suppressed, and the acts of the Scottish parliament ratified, the king in addition promising to admit the Scottish nobles into public employment in England and to reside frequently in Scotland. Returning to Scotland, in the spring of 1648, Lauderdale joined the party of Hamilton in alliance with the English royalists. Their defeat at Preston postponed the arrival of the prince of Wales, but Lauderdale had an interview with the prince in the Downs in August, and from this period obtained supreme influence over the future king. He persuaded him later to accept the invitation to Scotland from the Argyll faction, accompanied him thither in 1650 and in the expedition into England, and was taken prisoner at Worcester in 1651, remaining in confinement till March 1660. He joined Charles in May 1660 at Breda, and, in spite of the opposition of Clarendon and Monk, was appointed secretary of state. From this time onwards he kept his hold upon the king, was lodged at Whitehall, was “never from the king’s ear nor council,”[1] and maintained his position against his numerous adversaries by a crafty dexterity in dealing with men, a fearless unscrupulousness, and a robust strength of will, which overcame all opposition. Though a man of considerable learning and intellectual attainment, his character was exceptionally and grossly licentious, and his base and ignoble career was henceforward unrelieved by a single redeeming feature. He abandoned Argyll to his fate, permitted, if he did not assist in, the restoration of episcopacy in Scotland, and after triumphing over all his opponents in Scotland drew into his own hands the whole administration of that kingdom, and proceeded to impose upon it the absolute supremacy of the crown in church and state, restoring the nomination of the lords of the articles to the king and initiating severe measures against the Covenanters. In 1669 he was able to boast with truth that “the king is now master here in all causes and over all persons.”

His own power was now at its height, and his position as the favourite of Charles, controlled by no considerations of patriotism or statesmanship, and completely independent of the English parliament, recalled the worst scandals and abuses of the Stuart administration before the Civil War. He was a member of the cabal ministry, but took little part in English affairs, and was not entrusted with the first secret treaty of Dover, but gave personal support to Charles in his degrading demands for pensions from Louis XIV. On the 2nd of May 1672 he was created duke of Lauderdale and earl of March, and on the 3rd of June knight of the garter. In 1673, on the resignation of James in consequence of the Test Act, he was appointed a commissioner for the admiralty. In October he visited Scotland to suppress the dissenters and obtain money for the Dutch War, and the intrigues organized by Shaftesbury against his power in his absence, and the attacks made upon him in the House of Commons in January 1674 and April 1675, were alike rendered futile by the steady support of Charles and James. On the 25th of June 1674 he was created earl of Guilford and Baron Petersham in the peerage of England. His ferocious measures having failed to suppress the conventicles in Scotland, he summoned to his aid in 1677 a band of Highlanders, who were sent into the western country. In consequence, a large party of Scottish nobles came to London, made common cause with the English country faction, and compelled Charles to order the disbandment of the marauders. In May 1678 another demand by the Commons for Lauderdale’s removal was thrown out by court influence by one vote. He maintained his triumphs almost to the end. In Scotland, which he visited immediately after this victory in parliament, he overbore all opposition to the king’s demands for money. Another address for his removal from the Commons in England was suppressed by the dissolution of parliament on the 26th of May 1679, and a renewed attack upon him, by the Scottish party and Shaftesbury’s faction combined, also failed. On the 22nd of June 1679 the last attempt of the unfortunate Covenanters was suppressed at Bothwell Brig. In 1680, however, failing health obliged Lauderdale to resign the place and power for which he had so long successfully struggled. His vote given for the execution of Lord Stafford on the 29th of November is said also to have incurred the displeasure of James. In 1682 he was stripped of all his offices, and he died in August. Lauderdale married (1) Lady Anne Home, daughter of the 1st earl of Home, by whom he had one daughter; and (2) Lady Elizabeth Murray, daughter of the 1st earl of Dysart and widow of Sir Lionel Tollemache. He left no male issue, consequently his dukedom and his English titles became extinct, but he was succeeded in the earldom by his brother Charles (see below).

See Lauderdale Papers Add. MSS. in Brit. Mus., 30 vols., a small selection of which, entitled The Lauderdale Papers, were edited by Osmond Airy for the Camden Society in 1884–1885; Hamilton Papers published by the same society; “Lauderdale Correspondence with Archbishop Sharp,” Scottish Hist. Soc. Publications, vol. 15 (1893); Burnet’s Lives of the Hamiltons and History of his Own Time; R. Baillie’s Letters; S. R. Gardiner’s Hist. of the Civil War and of the Commonwealth; Clarendon’s Hist. of the Rebellion; and the Quarterly Review, clvii. 407. Several speeches of Lauderdal are extant.  (P. C. Y.) 

Earls of Lauderdale.

Charles Maitland, 3rd earl of Lauderdale (d. 1691), became an ordinary lord of session as Lord Halton in 1669, afterwards assisting his brother, the duke, in the management of public business in Scotland. His eldest son, Richard (1653–1695), became the 4th earl. As Lord Maitland he was lord-justice-general from 1681 to 1684; he was an adherent of James II. and after fighting at the battle of the Boyne he was an exile in France until his death. This earl made a verse translation of Virgil (published 1737). He left no sons, and his brother John (c. 1655–1710) became the 5th earl. John, a supporter of William III. and of the union of England and Scotland, was succeeded by his son Charles (c. 1688–1744), who was the grandfather of James, the 8th earl.

James Maitland, 8th earl of Lauderdale (1759–1839), was a member of parliament from 1780 until August 1789 when he succeeded his father in the earldom. In the House of Commons he took an active part in debate, and in the House of Lords, where he was a representative peer for Scotland, he was prominent as an opponent of the policy of Pitt and the English government with regard to France, a country he had visited in 1792. In 1806 he was made a peer of the United Kingdom as Baron Lauderdale of Thirlestane and for a short time he was keeper of the great seal of Scotland. By this time the earl, who had helped to found the Society of the Friends of the People in 1792, had somewhat modified his political views; this process was continued, and after acting as the leader of the Whigs in Scotland, Lauderdale became a Tory and voted against the Reform Bill of 1832. He died on the 13th of September 1839. He wrote an Inquiry into the Nature and Origin of Public Wealth (1804 and 1819), a work which has been translated into French and Italian and which produced a controversy between the author and Lord Brougham; The Depreciation of the Paper-currency of Great Britain Proved (1812); and other writings of a similar nature. He was succeeded by his sons James (1784–1860) and Anthony (1785–1863) as 9th and 10th earls. Anthony, a naval officer, died unmarried in March 1863, when his barony of the United Kingdom became extinct, but his Scottish earldom devolved upon a cousin, Thomas Maitland (1803–1878), a grandson of the 7th earl, who became 11th earl of Lauderdale. Thomas, who was an admiral of the fleet, died without sons, and the title passed to Charles Barclay-Maitland (1822–1884), a descendant of the 6th earl. When Charles died unmarried, another of the 6th earl’s descendants, Frederick Henry Maitland (b. 1840), became 13th earl of Lauderdale.

The earls of Lauderdale are hereditary standard bearers for Scotland.

  1. Pepys’s Diary, 2nd of March 1664.