Earls of Rothes - Encyclopedia

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EARLS OF. ROTHES The first earl of Rothes was George Leslie, son of Norman Leslie of Rothes in Moray, and of Ballinbreich in Fife. In 1445 he was created Baron Leslie of Leven, and about 1458 earl of Rothes in the peerage of Scotland. His grandson George, the 4th earl (d. 1558), whose father, William, the 3rd earl, was killed at Flodden, was accused, but acquitted in 1546, of complicity in the murder of Cardinal Beaton, in which his brother and his two sons were undoubtedly implicated; he was one of the Scottish commissioners who witnessed the marriage of Mary queen of Scots with Francis, the dauphin of France. His son Andrew, 5th earl of Rothes (d. 1611), took an active part with the lords of the congregation, first against the queen-mother, Mary of Guise, when regent of Scotland, and afterwards against Mary queen of Scots in opposing her marriage with Darnley, and in devising the murder of Rizzio. He was, however, one of the peers who acquitted Bothwell of Darnley's murder; and going over to the side of the queen, he fought for her at Langside. He continued to occupy a position of some prominence in Scottish affairs until his death in 1611. His great-grandson, John, 7th earl of Rothes (1630-1681), held a command in the Royalist army at the battle of Worcester in 1651, and accompanied Charles II. to England at the Restoration, when he became lord president of the council in Scotland. He was lord treasurer of Scotland from 1663 till 1667, when he was made lord chancellor of Scotland for life. His estates having been sequestrated by the parliament in 1651, he received a re-grant in 1663 of the earldom of Rothes, together with the title of Lord Leslie and Ballinbreich, with remainders to his heirs male and female, providing that in every case where a female should succeed to the peerage the name of Leslie should be assumed by her husband. In 1680 the earl was advanced to the dignity of duke of Rothes and marquess of Ballinbreich, but these titles became extinct at his death without a son in the following year. The earldom of Rothes and the other older titles now passed, under the special remainder mentioned above, to his daughter Margaret, whose husband, Charles Hamilton, 5th earl of Haddington, accordingly took the name of Leslie, at the same time making an arrangement by which his own peerage should pass to a younger son in order to keep the two earldoms separate. Margaret's son John, who on her death became 9th earl of Rothes, was vice-admiral of Scotland from 1715 to 1722, and fought with distinction against the Jacobite rebels in 1715; and her grandson, the 10th earl, who sold the estates of Ballinbreich to the Dundas family, was commander-in-chief in Ireland in 1754, and became a general in 1765. The office of sheriff of Fife, which had been an hereditary right of the earls of Rothes since 1540, was sold by the 10th earl under the Heritable Act of 1747. On several subsequent occasions the earldom again passed through the female line, and in 1893 Mary Elizabeth, countess of Rothes in her own right, was succeeded by her grandson, Norman Evelyn Leslie (b. 1877), as 19th earl of Rothes.

See Sir R. Douglas, The Peerage of Scotland, edited by Sir J. B. Paul; and G. E. C., Complete Peerage.

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