Earl of Mar
The Earldom of Mar
is one of the ancient peerage
titles of in the Peerage of Scotland
. The title was created in the twelfth century, but there is no clear and definite succession to the earldom until later. While the eleventh holder of the title, Isabel Douglas, Countess of Mar, was alone at the Castle of Kildrummy, Alexander Stewart entered it and forced her to sign a charter on August 12
. She revoked the charter later that year, but on marrying him, she gave him the earldom for life; the King confirmed her last action the next year.
In 1426, Stewart resigned the title so that he could be granted a new one by the King, the new title being more "legitimate". The King did so, but specified that the earldom and associated lands would revert to the Crown upon the death of the Earl. In 1435, the Earl died, and Robert, Lord Erskine claimed the title, but the King claimed its lands under the specifications of reversion made in the patent. The issue remained unresolved until 1457, when James II
obtained a court order declaring the lands as crown possessions. Thereafter, he bestowed the title on his son John, who died without heirs in 1479. It was next granted to James' other son, Alexander, Duke of Albany, but the title was then declared forfeit because of Alexander's alliances with the English. James III
created his son John Earl of Mar in 1486, upon whose death in 1503 the title became extinct again. The title was once again created in 1562, for James, Earl of Moray, son of James V
, but he, too, could not produce a qualified heir.
In 1565 John, Queen Mary made Lord Erskine, heir to the Lord Erskine who quarreled with James II about the Earldom, Earl of Mar. John, the sixth Earl, was attainted for rebellion, and the earldom remaining forfeit for over a century. In 1824, the Earldom was finally restored by Act of Parliament to John Francis Erskine, the heir of the attained Earl. His grandson, the ninth Earl, inherited the earldom of Kellie and other titles in 1835.
At the death of the ninth Earl of Mar and eleventh Earl of Kellie in 1866, the Earldom of Kellie and the family's estates passed to Walter Erskine, the cousin of the late Earl, and his heir-male. Meanwhile, it was assumed that the Earldom of Mar passed to John Francis Goodeve, the late Earl's nephew, and his heir-general. (An heir-male is an heir in a male line, while an heir-general is an heir in either the male or female line. The terms do not refer to the gender of the holder.) Goodeve changed his name to Goodeve Erskine; his claim was agreed upon by all. He even participated in the election of representative peers for the Peerage of Scotland. However, the Earl of Kellie submitted a petition to the House of Lords asking that the Earldom of Mar be declared his, dying before it could be considered. His son, the thirteenth Earl of Kellie, renewed the petition, and the Lords referred it to their Committee on Privileges. The petition made a number of claims:
- The original Earldom of Mar was a territorial title rather than a title of peerage and was therefore "indivisible." (In other words, the territory could not be separated from the title.)
- Alexander Stewart obtained a new Royal charter for the Earldom, rather than receiving it in right of his wife Isabel.
- After the death of Alexander Stewart, his lands were passed to the Sovereign in accordance with the charter, and thereafter were disposed of by the Crown.
- As the territorial Earldom was "indivisible," upon the termination of the territory, the earldom must have ended also.
- Therefore, since the territorial Earldom had already become non-existent, Queen Mary's 1565 grant was not a revival of that title. Rather, it was a totally new creation, this time in the form of a peerage title.
- Since the instrument of Queen Mary's 1565 grant cannot be found, the presumption ought to be that the Earldom passes to heirs-male, and not to heirs-general. Thus, the Earl of Kellie is entitled to the Earldom of Mar as he is the late Earl of Mar's heir male, while John Goodeve Erskine was an heir-general.
Goodeve Erskine had different ideas, however. He portrayed the Crown's takeover of the territorial Earldom not as pursuant to a charter, but rather as an act of tyranny. He argued:
- James I, in a tyrannical act, seized the lands of Alexander Stewart, when these should have passed to Robert, Lord Erskine.
- The "true" Earls never agreed to terminate their claim to the Earldom.
- Queen Mary's 1565 grant was a restitution of the old territorial Earldom rather than a new creation.
- Because the title is a restoration of a territorial Earldom, and because the territorial Earldom could pass to heirs-general, John Goodeve Erskine was the rightful heir, being the lat Earl of Mar's heir-general.
The House of Lords Committee on Privileges ruled in 1875, to the dissatisfaction of many, that the Earldom of Mar was newly created in 1565, passed only to heirs-male, and therefore belonged to the Earl of Kellie, and not to Goodeve Erskine. The Lord Chancellor
, Roundell Palmer, 1st Baron Selborne, declared it to be "final, right or wrong, and not to be questioned".
However, there was a sentiment that the Lords had decided wrongly. A bill was brought to Parliament, to allow Goodeve Erskine to assume the title, and was passed without dissent. The Earldom of Mar Restitution Act declared that because of the doubts relating to the 1565 creation, it would be assumed that there are two Earldoms of Mar. The Earldom created in 1565 would be held by the Earl of Kellie. The ancient Earldom, however, was declared to be still in existence, and was given to John Goodeve Erskine. For the purposes of precedence, it is assumed that the Earldom held by Goodeve Erskine's heirs was created in 1404.
Earls of Mar, first Creation (circa 1114)
- Rothri Mormaer, 1st Earl of Mar (?)
- Morgund Mormaer, 2nd Earl of Mar (d. aft. 1183)
- Gilchrist Mormaer, 3rd Earl of Mar (?)
- Duncan Mormaer, 4th Earl of Mar (d. aft. 1244)
- William Mormaer, 5th Earl of Mar (d. bef. 1236)
- Donald Mormaer, 6th Earl of Mar (d. aft. 1297)
- Gartnait Mormaer, 7th Earl of Mar (d. bef. 1305)
- Donald Mormaer, 8th Earl of Mar (d. 1332)
- Thomas Mormaer, 9th Earl of Mar (c. 1330-1377)
- Margaret Mormaer, 10th Countess of Mar (d. c. 1391)
- Isabel Douglas, 11th Countess of Mar (c. 1360-1408)
Earls of Mar, second Creation (1426)
- Alexander Stewart, 1st Earl of Mar (d. 1435)
Earls of Mar, third Creation (1457)
- John Stuart, Earl of Mar (d. 1479)
Earls of Mar, fourth Creation (1483)
- Alexander Stuart, Duke of Albany (c. 1454-1485) (forfeit 1483)
Earls of Mar, fifth Creation (1486)
- John Stuart, Earl of Mar (d. 1503)
Earls of Mar, sixth Creation (1562)
- James Stuart, Earl of Moray and Mar (d. 1569)
Earls of Mar, seventh Creation (1565)
- John Erskine, 1st Earl of Mar (d. 1572)
- John Erskine, 2nd Earl of Mar (c. 1572-1634)
- John Erskine, 3rd Earl of Mar (d. 1653)
- John Erskine, 4th Earl of Mar (d. 1688)
- Charles Erskine, 5th Earl of Mar (1650-1689)
- John Erskine, 6th Earl of Mar (d. 1737) (forfeit 1737)
- John Francis Erskine, 7th Earl of Mar (1741-1825 (restored 1824)
- John Francis Erskine, 8th Earl of Mar (1772-1828)
- John Francis Miller Erskine, 9th Earl of Mar (1795-1866)
Earls of Mar, second Creation (1426)
- John Francis Goodeve Erskine, Earl of Mar (1836-1930)
- John Erskine, Earl of Mar (1868-1932)
- Lionel Walter Young, Earl of Mar (1891-1965)
- James Clifton Lane, Earl of Mar (1914-1975)
- Margaret Alison Lane, Countess of Mar (b. 1940)
Earls of Mar and Kellie, seventh Creation (1565)
- William Henry Erskine, 11th Earl of Mar and 13th Earl of Kellie (1839-1888)
- Walter John Francis Erskine, 12th Earl of Mar and 14th Earl of Kellie (1865-1955)
- James Francis Hervey Erskine, 13th Earl of Mar and 15th Earl of Kellie (1921-1993)
- James Thorne Erskine, 14th Earl of Mar and 16th Earl of Kellie (b. 1949)