Mackenzie, George (d.1766) (DNB00)

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MACKENZIE, GEORGE, third Earl of Cromarty (d. 1766), was the eldest son of John, second earl, by his second wife, Mary, eldest daughter of Patrick Murray, third lord Elibank. His father, in August 1691, was tried in the high court of justiciary for the murder of Ettas Poiret, sieur de la Roche, at Leith, but was acquitted. The son succeeded to the earldom in 1781. On 8 Aug. 1745 he received a letter from Prince Charles Edward, but he did not immediately join the rising in the prince's favour, being possibly somewhat influenced by the attitude of Simon Fraser, lord Lovat [q. v.], with whom he was in correspondence. With four hundred of his clan he, however, with his son John Mackenzie, lord Macleod, joined the second army which assembled at Keith, after the prince had begun his march southwards into England. Thence he was sent to Fife to collect moneys on behalf of the prince, but on 31 Dec. received orders to join the main army. He superintended the transportation of the French artillery across the Forth for the siege of Stirling; and along with his son, Lord Macleod, he was present at the battle of Falkirk on 17 Jan. 1746. On the retreat of the Jacobite forces from Stirling, the brigade under Cromarty accompanied the division consisting chiefly of lowland troops, which under Lord George Murray followed the coast route to Inverness by Montrose and Aberdeen. Subsequently, Cromarty took over the command of the Earl of Kilmarnock's troops [see Boyd, William, fourth Earl of Kilmarnock], and he for some time held the chief command north of the Beauly. The command was again transferred to James Drummond, third titular duke of Perth [q. v.], but after the duke's departure Cromarty remained in command in Sutherland. On 15 April 1746 he was surprised and defeated at Dunrobin by the Earl of Sutherland's militia, and shortly afterwards was taken prisoner by stratagem in Dunrobin Castle. He was sent south to London and committed to the Tower. Along with the Earl of Kilmarnock and Lord Balmerino [see Elphinstone, Alexander, sixth Lord Balmerino] he was brought for trial before the House of Lords on 28 July, and when called up for judgment on the 80th pleaded that he had been 'seduced from his loyalty in an unguarded moment by the acts of desperate and designing men.' On 1 Aug. he was sentenced to death and his estates forfeited, but owing to the exertions of his wife, supported by the representations of several influential Scottish nobles, he on 9 Aug. received a respite. On 18 Feb. 1748 he was permitted to leave the Tower and lodge at the house of a messenger, and in August follow- ing was permitted to take up his residence at Layhill, Devonshire. On 4 Oct. 1749 he received a pardon on condition that he should remain in such place as he should be directed by the king. He died in Poland Street, St. James's, Westminster, 28 Sept. 1766. 'The Earl of Cromartie's private character,' says the writer of his life in 1746, 'is very amiable; he is esteemed a polite nobleman, and affable in his temper and behaviour, and has little or nothing of that austere pride and haughtiness so peculiar to most highland chiefs.'

By his wife Isabella Gordon, called 'Bonnie Bell Gordon,' eldest daughter of Sir William Gordon, baronet, of Invergordon, Ross-shire, Cromarty had three sons—John, lord Macleod [q. v.], William, who died young, and George, a colonel in the 71st regiment, who died unmarried in 1788—and seven daughters. Engravings of the earl and countess are given in Fraser's 'Earls of Cromartie.'

[State Trials, xviii. 442–530; Life published in 1746; The Whole Proceedings in the House of Peers against William, Earl of Kilmarnock, George, Earl of Cromartie, and Arthur, Lord Balmerino, for High Treason; Scots Magazine, 1766, xxiii. 558; Sir William Fraser's Earls of Cromartie; Douglas's Scottish Peerage (Wood), i. 398.]

T. F. H.