Buchan began as one of the ancient Scottish mormaerships, geographically based in north-east Aberdeenshire and developing from the original Pictish kingdom of Ce. Though the modern administrative district called Buchan is relatively small, the earldom covered a much larger area, stretching on the north side of the River Don into Banffshire as far as the River Deveron, and south to the Garioch. The first name mentioned as mormaer was Donald, son of Ruadri, during the reign of Malcolm II, followed by Donald, son of Dubhacan, and then his brother Cainnech.
Earls of Buchan (c.1115)
1st Earl of Buchan, Gartnait, b.?, a.?, d.?
Gartnait is the first person clearly identified as being earl, perhaps a belated recognition of his position by the lowland King. He was probably the son of Cainnech, or Kenneth, the previous mormaer.
2nd Earl of Buchan, Colban, b.?, a.?, d.?
Colban was the husband of Gartnaitís daughter Eva, her mother probably Ete, daughter of Gille Michael, Mormaer of Fife, and Colban himself may well have come from the same Fife family. Colban was with King William I in an invasion of England in 1174.
3rd Earl of Buchan, Roger, b.?, a.?, d.?
Son of Colban and Eva. Nothing is known about him.
4th Earl of Buchan, Fergus, b.?, a.?, d.c.1214
Son of Roger. Having no sons, he married his only daughter, Margaret, to William Comyn, who held the position de uxoris.
5th Earl of Buchan, William Comyn, b.b.1177, a.1209-1212, d.1233
William Comyn was the son of Richard Comyn, Justiciar of Lothian and Lord of Tynedale, a Norman knight brought to Scotland by King David I. He was an highly regarded nobleman, and held important positions during the reign of William I. He spent a considerable period quelling the clans in the north of Scotland, and also acted as an emissary to King John of England. He was Sheriff of Forfar from 1195 to 1211 and then served as Justiciar of Scotland from 1205 to his death. In 1229, in return for defeating the MacWilliam threat, he was given the Lordship of Badenoch, which later passed to Walter Comyn (b.?, d.1258), his son by his first wife Sarah fitzHugh. Walter was also a major political figure of the time, ruling the country during the minority of King Alexander III along with Alan Durward. He married Isabella, Countess of Menteith, and became Earl of Menteith de uxoris, but died unexpectedly with no surviving sons. Isabella was removed as Countess by her younger sister Mary, and her husband Walter Stewart. William Comyn married secondly Margaret, Countess of Buchan, making him earl de uxoris, the first man of Norman descent to reach this rank, and by whom he had another large family, including his successor as earl.
6th Earl of Buchan, Alexander Comyn, b.c.1217, a.1233, d.1289
Son of Margaret, Countess of Buchan, and Alexander Comyn, Earl of Buchan. A major figure like his father, he held the post of Justiciar of Scotland from 1258 to his death, High Constable of Scotland from 1275, and he became one of the Guardians of the kingdom following the crisis of Alexander IIIís death in 1286.
7th Earl of Buchan, John Comyn, b.c.1259, a.1290, d.1308
Son of the 6th Earl and Elizabeth de Quincy (b.b.1244, d.a.1282), daughter of Roger de Quincy, 2nd Earl of Winchester. John Comyn was a prominent player in the upheavals of the time, being cousin to another John Comyn, the Red Comyn, Lord of Badenoch, who was one of the Competitors for the throne after the death of the Maid of Norway. The family, however, threw their support behind John Balliol, Badenochís brother-in-law, and Buchan became Constable of Scotland in the new regime. When Balliol agreed to help King Edward I of England invade France, Buchan was among those nobles who disagreed and took over the running of the country, negotiating with France against England. He was part of a Scottish army that tried to seize Carlisle, but was repulsed by Robert Bruce, 4th Earl of Carrick, son of another of the Competitors. Buchan eventually surrendered to Edward after the Battle of Dunbar, but was released in order to try and quell the uprising in Moray, a province adjoining Buchanís own. However, Buchan was related by marriage to Andrew Moray, the leader of the rebel forces, and managed to give active support to the rebellion while still claiming loyalty to the English, and provided substantial aid in bringing the forces together that won the Battle of Stirling Bridge, although he was not present there himself. After the battle, his position was overshadowed by Wallace, and then by Bruce and the Red Comyn, who became Joint Guardians of the realm. However, he was heavily occupied in various tasks about the kingdom, being Justiciar of the North, and representing Scotland at the French Court. In 1303, Edward launched another serious invasion into Scotland, pushing north of the Forth and placing the Comyn estates in danger, leaving them no option but to negotiate for peace. Edward looked favourably on the Comyn as he could hardly hold Scotland without local help. The Comyn, for their part, were also happy to bide their time in the hope of the eventual return to Scotland of the rightful King. However, this began to look increasingly unlikely, and it again came down to a straight political contest between the Red Comyn, a former Balliol supporter and next best candidate, against Robert Bruce. In the end, Bruce had the Red Comyn murdered, a cold-blooded act, but seen as necessary for a break in the deadlock. With Bruce managing to get himself crowned at Scone by Isabella, sister to the absent Duncan, 8th Earl of Fife, and Buchanís wife, no less, Buchan had no choice but to oppose him, which meant throwing in his lot with the English. However, with Edwardís death in 1307, his son and successor pulled back his troops in order to consolidate at home, leaving Bruce to campaign against Buchan without having to keep an eye on the border. Buchanís army was destroyed at the Battle of Inverurie, and his estates in Buchan subject to deliberate devastation to ensure that no reprisals could take place. Buchan fled to England, being well received at court, but died soon after, his Scottish titles forfeit. His niece, Alicia Comyn, married Henry Beaumont, a French knight fighting on the English side, and who made claim to the earldom on his wifeís behalf, though of course not recognised in Scotland.
Earls of Buchan (1382)
1st Earl of Buchan, Alexander Stewart, b.1343, a.1374, d.1405
Fourth son of King Robert II of Scotland and his first wife Elizabeth Mure. He was presented with the extensive Lordship of Badenoch in 1371, which his father had obtained from his second wife, Euphemia, Countess of Moray, and added to this by obtaining the neighbouring estates of Strathavon. Having control over such wide areas, he was given the Lord Lieutenancy over them, and also crown jurisdiction over this and further lands as Justiciar of the North. In 1375, Alexander de líArde, claimant for and possessor of the lands of the earldom of Caithness, resigned his lands, and Alexander Stewart took control of these on behalf of the crown. In 1382 he added enormously to the lands under his direct control by marrying Euphemia, Countess of Ross, including the barony of King Edward in Buchan, and he was created 1st Earl of Buchan shortly afterwards. This level of power, backed up by use of local highland clans to enforce his jurisdiction, caused resentment amongst the other landowners in the area, including the Bishop of Moray, who had long been used to substantial independence in the running of his estates as holder in respect of the crown. After the bishopís protest of this right, Buchanís ownership of church lands was rescinded, though he continued to occupy them. By this time, Buchan had become known as the Wolf of Badenoch, a very unflattering reference to his aggressive activities. By 1384 the Kingís poor handling of the realm encouraged his eldest son, and Buchanís older brother, John Stewart, Earl of Carrick, who tried to take a stronger line. However, Buchan continued to expand his territories, taking the lands of Urquhart after the death of his half-brother David Stewart. In 1388, John of Carrick having failed as Guardian for his father, was replaced by Robert Stewart, Earl of Fife, another of older brother of Buchan, the new power behind the throne. Buchan was removed as Justiciar of the North in favour of Murdoch, Robert Stewartís eldest son, in an attempt to defuse local tension and remove some of Alexanderís powerbase. As part of this, Buchan was instructed by the Bishops of Moray and of Ross to return to his wife, whom he had deserted for his lover. When he failed to do this, the bishops aided Euphemia in her divorce proceedings with the papal court. The marriage was eventually annulled in 1392 and Buchan lost the lands of the earldom of Ross. At the height of the unrest in 1390, Robert II died, and in order to re-establish his pre-eminence in the North and in reprisal against Moray, he burned the royal burgh of Forres, and then a large part of Elgin, including the cathedral. He was excommunicated for this, and had to plead forgiveness in a Church council attended by the new King. From then on, he kept a low profile, although his sons continued to cause problems, and three of them were imprisoned in Stirling Castle from 1396 to 1402 for their trouble. In his later years he seems to have deserted the Highlands, a combination of being kept under control by his older brothers and a loss of reputation amongst the clans forcing him into accept lesser positions, and his lasting legacy is ignominious.
2nd Earl of Buchan, Robert Stewart, b.c.1340, a.1394, d.1420
Older brother of the 1st Earl, and the real power behind the throne of Robert III. Primarily known as the 1st Duke of Albany, a title he already held, he obtained this earldom on the ex-communication of his brother, and retained it for his own son.
3rd Earl of Buchan, John Stewart, b.c.1381, a.1406, d.1424
Son of the 2nd Earl and his second wife Muriel Keith (b.b.1366, d.1449). He succeeded to the title on his fatherís resignation to become Regent. He led the Scottish contingent of 6,000 troops that in 1419 went to the aid of King Charles VII of France during the Hundred Years War, and led the combined Scottish and French forces to success at the Battle of Bauge, the English losing Thomas, Duke of Clarence, Henry Vís brother, in the process. In the summer of 1423, however, Buchanís army was well defeated, with substantial losses, at the Battle of Cravant, against English and Burgundian forces led by Thomas Montague, 4th Earl of Salisbury, and Buchan was captured along with the French Comte de Vendome. Fortunate not to be executed as a Scottish prisoner-of-war, he was eventually released in an exchange of prisoners and was then appointed Constable of France, in effect Commander-in-Chief of the French armies. He returned to Scotland to raise additional manpower and returned along with Archibald Douglas, 4th Earl of Douglas, at the head of a large Douglas contingent. In August, the combined Scots and French army captured the town of Verneuil in Normandy. This forced the Duke of Bedford, the English commander in France, to bring his own army south. Unwilling to retreat, the Scots persuaded the French commanders to make a stand and the two armies clashed on the afternoon of 15th August 1424. After breaking the French infantry, the English succeeded in encircling the Scots, who battled on despite overwhelming odds and were completely annihilated, Douglas and Buchan included. He had previously married Lady Elizabeth Douglas (b.1385-1401, d.c.1451), daughter of Douglas, and their daughter Margaret Douglas married George Seton, 1st Lord Seton (for whom see the earls of Winton).
4th Earl of Buchan, Murdoch Stewart, b.1362, a.1420, d.1425
Older brother of the 3rd Earl. He was already 2nd Duke of Albany and 2nd Earl of Fife, and the Buchan title reverted to him on the death of his younger brother. As is reported more extensively elsewhere, he was forfeited, attainted and executed the following year.
Earls of Buchan (1444)
1st Earl (Countess) of Buchan, Mary Stewart, b.b.1428, a.1444, d.1465
Daughter of James Stewart, James I of Scotland and Lady Joan Beaufort (b.b.1407, d.1445), daughter of Sir John Beaufort, 1st Earl of Somerset. She married Wolfert VI van Borselen, son of Hendrick van Borselen, Count of Grandpre, a deliberate attempt to stimulate commerce between Scotland and the Low Countries. She had no surviving children and the title was later resurrected for her half-brother.
Earls of Buchan (1469)
1st Earl of Buchan, James Stewart, b.b.1445, a.1469, d.1499
Son of Lady Joan Beaufort, widow of James I of Scotland, and Sir James Stewart of Lorn (b.b.1421, d.c.1448) and so younger half-brother of King James II. He was also younger full brother of John Stewart, 1st Earl of Atholl. In 1467 he was granted the estates of Strathalva and Down, which included Banff Castle and the River Deveron, and in 1469 he was created 1st Earl of Buchan and 1st Lord Auchterhouse. He later purchased the Traquair estate, which later passed to a younger son, from whom derive the earls of Traquair. A loyal supporter of the King against various conspiracies, he was High Chamberlain from 1471 to 1473 and from 1478 to 1484. He led a Royal army against a revolt of the southern nobles in 1488 and negotiated a temporary peace, following which the King disbanded his troops, with Buchan retiring northwards. When the rebellious lords refused to disperse, the King hastily mustered another army to take and hold Stirling, only to find the gates to the castle closed against him. His small force was overcome by superior numbers nearby at the Battle of Sauchieburn, and the King was killed. Buchan submitted himself to Parliament after battle and was pardoned.
2nd Earl of Buchan, Alexander Stewart, b.b.1481, c.1499, d.1505
Son of the 1st Earl and Margaret Ogilvy (b.b.1445, d.?), daughter of Sir Archibald Ogilvy of Auchterhouse.
3rd Earl of Buchan, John Stewart, b.c.1498, a.1505, d.1551
Son of the 2nd Earl and his second wife Margaret Ruthven (b.b.1481, d.1548), daughter of William Ruthven, 1st Lord Ruthven (for whom see the earls of Gowrie). His sons died before him so the earldom devolved to his grand-daughter.
4th Earl (Countess) of Buchan, Christina Stewart, b.1547-1548, a.1551, d.1580
Granddaughter of the 3rd Earl and Margaret Scrymgeour, and daughter of John Stewart, Master of Buchan (b.b.1531, d.1547) and Margaret Ogilvy. She succeeded to the title as an infant and came under the care of Margaret Erskine, wife of Sir Robert Douglas of Lochleven. A marriage was arranged with James Stewart, later to become 1st Earl of Moray, son of James V and said Margaret Erskine, but he had other ideas and so she was married off to her foster-brother Robert Douglas (b.b.1547, d.1580) in 1552. He became the 4th Earl of Buchan in his wifeís right (de uxoris), and played a prominent role during the political turmoil of the time, a supporter of the above mentioned Regent Moray against Mary, Queen of Scots, and one of a group of four lords who governed the country after Morayís assassination in 1570.
5th Earl of Buchan, James Douglas, b.c.1580, a.1580, d.1601
Son of the 4th Earl and Countess.
6th Earl (Countess) of Buchan, Mary Douglas, b.b.1601, a.1601, d.1628
Daughter of the 5th Earl and Margaret Ogilvy (b.b.1583, d.c.1613-1614), daughter of Walter Ogilvy, 1st Lord Ogilvy of Deskford (for whom see the earls of Findlater). She married James Erskine (b.b.1607, d.1639-1640), son of Sir John Erskine, 2nd Earl of Mar and his second wife Lady Mary Stewart (b.b.1582, d.1644), daughter of Esme Stuart, 1st Duke of Lennox. In 1617, she obtained a charter giving them both title to the earldom, and he became the 6th Earl de facto on outliving his wife. He spent most of his life in England as Lord of the Bedchamber to Charles I.
7th Earl of Buchan, James Erskine, b.b.1628, a.1640, d.1664
Son of the 6th Earl and Countess. He succeeded to the title on the death of his father.
8th Earl of Buchan, William Erskine, b.b.1664, a.1664, d.1695
Son of the 7th Earl and Lady Marjory Ramsay, daughter of William Ramsay, 1st Earl of Dalhousie.† At the Revolution he supported James VII and was captured and imprisoned in Stirling Castle. He was never brought to trial but never released, and he died in captivity. When he died, the earldom transferred to a descendant of the 6th Earlís younger brother.
Lords Cardross (1610)
1st Lord Cardross, John Erskine, b.1562, a.1610, d.1634
John Erskine, 18th and 2nd Earl of Mar, was created 1st Lord Cardross in 1610, with remainder to heirs male and assignees whatsoever. This allowed him to nominate his second son Henry Erskine by his second wife as heir to this title, and afterwards his heir-male. Henry was the younger brother of John Erskine, 3rd Earl of Mar and James Erskine, de uxoris 6th Earl of Buchan.
2nd Lord Cardross, David Erskine, b.1626-1627, a.1634, d.1671
Grandson of the 1st Lord and Lady Mary Stewart (b.?, d.1644), daughter of Esme Stuart, 1st Duke of Lennox, and son of Henry Erskine, Master of Cardross (b.?, d.1628) and Margaret Bellenden (b.?, d.1639-1640), sister of Sir William Bellenden, 1st Lord Bellenden of Broughton (for whom see the earls of Roxburghe). He was a prominent Presbyterian, though he protested against handing Charles I over to the English in 1646 and in 1647 joined the Engagement (a deal struck between Charles I and certain of the Covenanters for him to support Presbyterianism in Scotland in return for military aid). After the Battle of Preston, the Engagers were discredited and Cardross was fined by Cromwell and disbarred from sitting in Parliament.
3rd Lord Cardross, Henry Erskine, b.1650, a.1671, d.1693
Son of the 2nd Lord and Anne Hope (b.1625, d.1653), daughter of Sir Thomas Hope, 1st Baronet Hope of Craighall. He was an opponent of the regime of John Maitland, 1st Duke of Lauderdale, and was regularly on the receiving end, being heavily fined several times for practising non-conformist Protestantism and imprisoned from 1675 to 1679. On his release, with Royal troops stationed on his land, his pleas to the King regarding his poor treatment were ignored and he emigrated to South Carolina in North America. He and many other colonists were driven out by the Spanish and he returned to Europe, joining other Scottish exiles in the Hague, and lending his to support William during the Glorious Revolution. He was then made Governor of the Mint and invested as a Privy Counsellor.
4th Lord Cardross, David Erskine, b.1672, a.1693, d.1745
Son of the 3rd Lord and Catherine Stewart (b.?, d.1725), daughter of Sir James Stewart of Kirkhill. In 1695 he succeeded as 9th Earl of Buchan, being descended from the younger brother of the 6th Earl.
Earls of Buchan (1469, continued)
9th Earl of Buchan, David Erskine, b.1672, a.1695, d.1745
He was made a Privy Counsellor in 1697 and was Governor of Blackness Castle from 1702 to 1707 and from 1710 to 1714. He was Lord of Police from 1714 to 1734, a Representative Peer from 1715 to 1734, and Lord-Lieutenant of Selkirkshire and Clackmannanshire over the same period. He was Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1729.
10th Earl of Buchan, Henry David Erskine, b.1710, a.1745, d.1767
Son of the 9th Earl and Frances Fairfax (b.b.1682, d.1719). He was Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Scotland from 1745 to 1746.
11th Earl of Buchan, David Stueart Erskine, b.1742, a.1767, d.1829
Son of the 10th Earl and Agnes Stueart (b.b.1724, d.1778), daughter of Sir James Steuart, Baronet Steuart of Goodtrees. Educated at St Andrews and Edinburgh University, he was a noted academic. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society, and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, and was a founder member of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland in 1780. He was appointed Lord Advocate in 1783, though leaving the post soon afterwards due to a change of government. He was Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Scotland from 1782 to 1784. In 1786 he was elected Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, and in 1806 he returned to the post of Lord Advocate after the Whig election victory.
12th Earl of Buchan, Henry David Erskine, b.1783, a.1829, d.1857
Nephew of the 11th Earl, being the son of that manís younger brother Henry Erskine (b.1746, d.1817) and Christian Fullerton (b.b.1757, d.1804), daughter of George Fullerton of Broughton Hall. He was Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Scotland from 1832 to 1833.
13th Earl of Buchan, David Stuart Erskine, b.1815, a.1857, d.1898
Son of the 12th Earl and Elizabeth Cole Shipley (b.?, d.1828), daughter of Major-General Sir Charles Shipley, Governor of Grenada.
14th Earl of Buchan, Shipley Gordon Stuart Erskine, b.1850, a.1898, d.1934
Son of the 13th Earl and Agnes Graham Smith (b.b.1834, d.1875).
15th Earl of Buchan, Ronald Douglas Stuart Mar Erskine, b.1878, a.1934, d.1960
Son of the 14th Earl and Rosalie Louisa Sartoris (b.?, d.1943), daughter of Captain Jules Alexandre Sartoris of Hopsford Hall. He reached the rank of Lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion, Scots Guards, and fought in the Boer War and First World War. He died without children, and for a second time in this far from prolific family, there were no immediate heirs. The male-heir was descended from a younger son of the 10th Earl.
Barons Erskine of Restormel Castle (1806)
1st Baron Restormel, Thomas Erskine, b.1749-1750, a.1806, d.1823
Thomas Erskine was a younger brother of David Erskine, 11th Earl of Buchan. He attended Edinburgh Grammar and the University of St Andrews before joining the Royal Navy in 1764. He then served in the British Army, reaching the rank of Lieutenant in the 1st Foot Regiment before studying law at Trinity College Cambridge, becoming a barrister in 1778. He became a Kingís Counsel in 1783 and was the Whig MP for Portsmouth from 1783 to 1784 and from 1790 to 1806. He was Chancellor of the Duchy of Cornwall from 1802 to 1806, when he was invested as a Privy Counsellor, and was Lord High Chancellor from 1806 to 1807. He was raised to the peerage as 1st Baron Erskine of Restormel Castle in 1806 and was invested as a Knight of the Thistle in 1815.
2nd Baron Restormel, David Montagu Erskine, b.1777, a.1823, d.1855
Son of the 1st Baron and Frances Moore (b.?, d.1805). He became a barrister and was elected as a Whig MP for Portsmouth in 1806. He served as British Envoy to Washington from 1806 to 1810, to Stuttgart from 1824 to 1828 and to Berlin from 1828 to 1843.
3rd Baron Restormel, Thomas Americus Erskine, b.1802, a.1855, d.1877
Son of the 2nd Baron and Frances Cadwallader (b.?, d.1843), daughter of General John Cadwallader of Philadelphia.
4th Baron Restormel, John Cadwallader Erskine, b.1804, a.1877, d.1882
Younger brother of the 3rd Baron. He served in the East India Company from 1826 to 1853 and became a resident in Nepaul.
5th Baron Restormel, William Macnaghten Erskine, b.1841, a.1882, d.1913
Son of the 4th Baron and Margaret Martyn (b.?, d.1862). Educated at Eton, he reached the rank of Captain in the 9th Lancers and became a barrister in 1873.
6th Baron Restormel, Montagu Erskine, b.1865, a.1913, d.1957
Son of the 5th Baron and Caroline Alice Martha Grimble (b.?, d.1922). He was educated at Eton reached the rank of Lieutenant-Commander in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve during the First World War.
7th Baron Restormel, Donald Cardross Flower Erskine, b.1899, a.1957, d.1984
Son of the 6th Baron and Florence Flower (b.1869, d.1936). He attended the Royal Military College at Sandhurst and reached the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the 9th Lancers. He fought in the Second World War. In 1960 he succeeded to the title of 16th Earl of Buchan as heir-male.
Earls of Buchan (1469, continued)
16th Earl of Buchan, Donald Cardross Flower Erskine, b.1899, a.1960, d.1984
17th Earl of Buchan, Malcolm Henry Erskine, b.1930, a.1984
Son of the 16th Earl and Christina Baxendale (b,?, d.1994). As well as being 17th Earl, he is also 12th Lord Cardross, 17th Lord Auchterhouse and 8th Baron Erskine of Restormel Castle.
The courtesy title of the heir is Lord Cardross.
(Last updated: 28/03/2011)