1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Middleton, Earls of

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

MIDDLETON, EARLS OF. John Middleton, 1st Earl of Middleton (c. 1619–1674), belonged to a Kincardineshire family which had held lands at Middleton since the 12th century, In early life he served as a soldier in France; later he fought against Charles I. both in England and in Scotland, being especially prominent at the battle of Philiphaugh and in other operations against the great Montrose. He held a high command in the Scottish army which marched to rescue the king in 1648, and he was taken prisoner after the battle of Preston. He joined Charles II. when that monarch reached Scotland in 1650, but he was soon at variance with the party which at that time was dominant in church and state and was only restored to favour after doing a public penance at Dundee. He was a captive for the second time after the battle of Worcester, where he commanded the Royalist cavalry, but he escaped from the Tower of London to Paris. In 1653 Middleton was chosen by Charles II. to head the projected rising in Scotland. He reached that country in February 1654, but the insurrection was a complete failure. Its leader, who cannot be held responsible for this result, remained, in Scotland until 1655, when he rejoined Charles II., who made him an earl in 1656. He returned to England with the king in 1660 and was appointed commander-in-chief of the troops in Scotland and lord high commissioner to the Scottish parliament, which he opened in January 1661. He was an ardent advocate of the restoration of episcopacy, this being one reason which led to serious dissensions between the earl of Lauderdale and himself, and in 1663 he was deprived of his offices. He was afterwards (1667) governor of Tangier, where he died in June 1674.

His eldest son Charles, 2nd Earl of Middleton (c. 1640–1719), held several offices under Charles II. and James II., being envoy extraordinary at Vienna and afterwards joint secretary for Scotland. In 1684 he became an English secretary of state, and with Richard Graham, Viscount Preston, he had the difficult task of managing the House of Commons for James II. He was loyal to James after the king fled to France, although he remained in England. where, as the leader of the moderate Jacobites, he sought to bring about a restoration by peaceful means. In 1693 the earl joined the exiled king at St Germains, where he became his secretary of state; afterwards he held the same office at the court of James Edward, the old pretender, in Flanders and in Lorraine. He was partly responsible for the unsuccessful expedition of the Jacobites to Scotland in 1707, and he resigned his office as secretary in 1713. Middleton, who had been created earl of Monmouth by the pretender, died in 1719. His titles had been declared forfeited in 1695, but they were claimed by his son John, who died unmarried about 1746. The earl was a Protestant, although a lukewarm one, until 1701, when he yielded to the dying wish of James II. and joined the Roman Catholic Church.

One of Middleton's kinsmen was Sir Charles Middleton, Bart. (1726–1813). Having served in the navy Middleton was comptroller of the navy from 1778 to 1790, “standing out through that period of inept administration as the pillar of the service.” In April 1805, at a most critical time, he was, although eighty years of age, appointed first lord of the admiralty by Pitt and was created Lord Barham. It has been usual to regard Barham as a cipher at the admiralty board, but more recent research, especially an examination of the Barham Papers, has proved this to be the reverse of the truth. He enjoyed the absolute confidence of Pitt, and it was his experience, industry and energy which made possible the great campaign which ended at Trafalgar. He resigned office in January 1806 and died on the 17th of January 1813. His barony passed through his daughter Diana (1762–1823) to the Noels, earls of Gainsborough, by whom it is still held. The Barham Papers are being edited by Sir J. K. Laughton (vol. i. 1907; vol. ii. 1910). See also J. S. Corbett, The Campaign of Trafalgar (1910).

See A. C. Biscoe, The Earls of Middleton (1876).