Earls of Middleton (1656)


1st Earl of Middleton, John Middleton, b.c.1619, a.1656. d.1674


John Middleton had no noble background, but served as a soldier in France in the early part of the 17th Century, and gradually worked his way up through the ranks, and by the time of the Bishop’s War, he was a Captain in the Covenanter Army under Montrose. When the English Civil War started, he enlisted in the Parliamentarian Army and fought in the Oxford Campaign of 1644. The following year he returned to Scotland as a Major-General in the Covenanter Army, this time against Montrose, who had become a Royalist. In 1646, he was second-in-command at the Battle of Philiphaugh, and negotiated Montrose’ final surrender. In 1648, he commanded the Cavalry in the Duke of Hamilton’s army that invaded England in support of Charles I, but was taken prisoner at the Battle of Preston, although he was released on parole shortly afterwards. However, his continued support of the Royalists was condemned by the Presbyterians and he was forced to do public penance before he could take up a position in the Scottish Royalist Army that headed south in 1651, an act that left him with an abiding hatred of the Kirk. He commanded the Scots Cavalry again at the Battle of Worcester, and was taken prisoner for the second time. However, he escaped from the Tower of London and joined Charles II in exile in Paris. In 1653, he was given command of the Royalist Army that had been raised by the Earl of Glencairn and early the following year he arrived in the north of Scotland to take control of the rebel forces. However, he was opposed by General Monck, who had also lately returned from the Continent to take over the occupying troops. Monck was a superior tactician, and was able to trap Middleton at Dalspindal near Loch Garry, splitting his infantry and cavalry and forcing them to scatter. The Royalist leaders escaped, although Glencairn surrendered later that year, and Middleton eventually rejoined Charles II in Cologne. He was created 1st Earl of Middleton and 1st Lord Clermont and Fettercairn in 1656. At the Restoration, he accompanied Charles back to Britain and was made Lord High Commissioner to the Scottish Parliament and Commander-in-Chief in Scotland. However, his support of the episcopate alienated him from Duke of Lauderdale, the king’s closest advisor, and he was deprived of office in 1663. He ended life, rather oddly, as the Governor of Tangier.


2nd Earl of Middleton, Charles Middleton, b.c.1640, a.1674, d.1719


Son of the 1st Earl and Grizel Durham (b.?, d.1666), daughter of Sir James Durham of Pitkerrow. A committed Royalist like his father, he served in various offices under Charles II and James VII, becoming a Privy Counsellor. When James fled for France, Middleton remained in England to try to negotiate a peaceful Jacobite restoration, but in 1693 was forced to join him in exile, and served as his Secretary of State, and also later for the Old Pretender. Although he was a Protestant, he became a Roman Catholic in 1701 according to his king’s dying wish. His titles were forfeited in 1795.


(Last updated: 29/01/2010)