Earls of Leven (1641)


1st Earl of Leven, Alexander Leslie, b.c.1580, a.1641, d.1661


Alexander Leslie was an highly experienced soldier, the son of Captain George Leslie of Balgonie. He went abroad in 1605, serving initially for the Dutch against the Spanish before moving to the Swedish Army, where he distinguished himself on many occasions during the Thirty Years War in Northern Germany. He was knighted by King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, who held him in high regard, and he reached the rank of Colonel. He returned to Scotland in 1637 in order to lead the army of the Covenanters, and with dazzling success took Edinburgh Castle, and defeating the Royalists at the Battle of Newburn in the North of England, after which he took Newcastle. This forced Charles I to come to the agreement of the Treaty of Ripon, ceding to the demands of the Covenanters. In 1641, Charles made him 1st Earl of Leven and 1st Lord Balgonie, Captain of Edinburgh Castle, and a Privy Counsellor. In 1644, Leslie commanded the Scottish Parliamentarian Army that marched into England in support of the English Parliamentarians against the Royalists, and was present at the Battle of Marston Moor. When Charles surrendered to the Scots in 1646, he was put in Leslieís charge until he could be handed over to the English. An old man, he was no longer in command when the English invaded after Argyllís failed attempt to support the King against Cromwell, but was captured anyway and sent to the Tower of London, from where he was released on parole due to the intercession of Queen Christina of Sweden and retired to Scotland.


2nd Earl of Leven, Alexander Leslie, b.c.1637, a.1661, d.1664


Grandson of the 1st Earl and Agnes Renton (b.?, d.1651), and son of Alexander Leslie, Lord Balgonie (b.?, d.a.1642) and Lady Margaret Leslie (b.?, d.1688), daughter of John Leslie, 6th Earl of Rothes.


Earl (Countess) of Leven, Margaret Leslie, b.?, a.1664, d.1674


Daughter of the 2nd Earl and Margaret Howard (b.?, d.1664), a descendant of Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk. She married Francis Montgomerie, a son of Hugh Montgomerie, 7th Earl of Eglinton, but had no children.


Earl (Countess) of Leven, Catherine Leslie, b.1663, a.1674, d.1676


Younger sister of the previous Countess. She also had no children. The two Countesses do not contribute towards the numerical sequence of earls.


3rd Earl of Leven, David Melville, b.1660, a.1681, d.1728


The earldom was now claimed by John Leslie, 1st Duke of Rothes, who was the 2nd Earlís uncle on his motherís side, and David Melville, future 2nd Earl of Melville, a grandson of the 1st Earl, and son of that earlís daughter Catherine Leslie and George Melville, 1st Earl of Melville. However, the first claimantís death in 1681 allowed David Melville to succeed to the title. He was a supporter of William of Orange and commanded a regiment during the invasion of England in 1688. He then obtained a commission to pacify the Highlands and fought at the Battle of Killiecrankie in 1689, also being made a Privy Counsellor. He was Colonel of the 25th Foot Regiment from 1689 to 1694 and was made Constable of Edinburgh Castle. He was Governor of the Bank of Scotland from 1697 to his death. He took part in campaigns in Ireland and France, reaching the rank of Lieutenant-General in 1706. He was a Commissioner for the Union in 1707 and was an inaugural Representative Peer from 1707 to 1710. In 1707 he also succeeded to his fatherís Melville titles.


4th Earl of Leven, David Melville, b.1717, a.1728, d.1729


Grandson of the 3rd Earl and Anne Wemyss (b.?, d.1702), daughter of Sir James Wemyss, Lord Burntisland (a life peer) and Margaret, Countess of Wemyss, and son of George Melville, Lord Balgonie (b.1695, d.1721) and Margaret Carnegie (b.1696, d.1722), daughter of David Carnegie, 4th Earl of Northesk.


5th Earl of Leven, Alexander Melville, b.c.1699, a.1729, d.1754


Uncle of the 4th Earl, being a younger son of the 3rd Earl and Anne Wemyss. He was High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland fom 1741 to 1753 and was a Representative Peer from 1747 to 1754.


6th Earl of Leven, David Melville, b.1722, a.1754, d.1802


Son of the 5th Earl and Mary Erskine (b.b.1706, d.1723), a grand-daughter of David Erskine, 2nd Lord Cardross.


7th Earl of Leven, Alexander Leslie-Melville, b.1749, a.1802, d.1820


Son of the 6th Earl and Wilhelmina Nisbet (b.1724, d.1798). He had his name legally changed in 1805.


8th Earl of Leven, David Leslie-Melville, b.1785, a.1820, d.1860


Son of the 7th Earl and Jane Thornton (b.?, d.1818). He was a Representative Peer from 1831 to 1860 and reached the rank of Vice-Admiral in 1858. His two sons pre-deceased him.


9th Earl of Leven, John Thornton Leslie-Melville, b.1786, a.1860, d.1876


Younger brother of the 8th Earl. He was a Representative Peer from 1865 to 1876.


10th Earl of Leven, Alexander Leslie-Melville, b.1817, a.1876, d.1889


Son of the 9th Earl and Harriet Thornton (b.?, d.1832). He was a Representative Peer from 1880 to 1889. He did not marry.


11th Earl of Leven, Ronald Ruthven Leslie-Melville, b.1835, a.1889, d.1906


Son of the 9th Earl and Sophia Thornton (b.?, d.1887), his first wifeís cousin. Educated at Eton and Christ Church College Oxford, he was a Director of the Bank of England, and was a Representative Peer from 1891 until his death. He was Keeper of the Privy Seal of Scotland from 1900, and Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly. In 1902, he was made a Privy Counsellor and in 1905 was invested as a Knight of the Thistle.


12th Earl of Leven, John David Melville, b.1886, a.1906, d.1913


Son of the 11th Earl and Emma Selina Portman (b.1863, d.1941), daughter of William Henry Berkley Portman, 2nd Viscount Portman. He was a Representative Peer from 1910 to 1913. He never married.


13th Earl of Leven, Archibald Alexander Melville, b.1890, a.1913, d.1947


Younger brother of the 12th Earl. He fought in the First World War and reached the rank of Captain in the Royal Scots Fusiliers. He was a Representative Peer from 1927 to 1947 and was Lord-Lieutenant of Nairnshire from 1935 to 1947. He reached the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and was invested as a Knight of the Thistle.


14th Earl of Leven, Alexander Robert Melville, b.1924, a.1947


Son of the 13th Earl and Lady Rosamond Sylvia Diana Mary Foljambe, daughter of Cecil George Saville Foljambe, 1st Earl of Liverpool. Educated at Eton, he reached the rank of Captain in the Coldstream Guards. He was Aide-de-Camp to the Governor-General of New Zealand from 1951 to 1952 and Lord-Lieutenant of Nairnshire from 1969 to 1999. As well as being 14th Earl, he is also 13th Earl of Melville, 14th Lord Balgonie, 16th Lord Melville of Monymaill, 13th Viscount of Kirkcaldy and 13th Lord Raith, Monymaill and Balwearie.



The courtesy title for the heir is Lord Balgonie.


(Last updated: 12/08/2009)