Lords of Dalkeith (c.1370)


1st Lord of Dalkeith, James Douglas, b.c.1330, a.c.1370, d.1420


The Douglases of Dalkeith were descended from Archibald, 2nd Lord of Douglas, and the baronies of Dalkeith and of Aberdour had been created for William Douglas, Knight of Liddesdale, the Flower of Chivalry. When William was murdered, the baronies passed to his nephew James Douglas, who was confirmed as feudal Lord of Dalkeith by the 1st Earl of Douglas. Some time later, the lands of Aberdour were incorporated into the baronial estates.


2nd Lord of Dalkeith, James Douglas, b.c.1356, a.1420, d.1440-1441


Son of the 1st Lord and Agnes Dunbar, daughter of Patrick Dunbar, 9th Earl of Dunbar. He was made a Lord of Parliament as 1st Lord Dalkeith on marrying Princess Elizabeth in 1387.


3rd Lord of Dalkeith, James Douglas, b.?, a.1440-1441, d.c.1457


Son of the 1st Lord and Princess Elizabeth Stewart, daughter of King Robert III. In 1441 he was declared incapable of managing his own affairs by Act of Parliament and was replaced by his son.


4th Lord of Dalkeith, James Douglas, b.?, a.1441, d.1492


Son of the 2nd Lord and Elizabeth Gifford. He was created 1st Earl of Morton and 1st Lord Aberdour in 1457.



Earls of Morton (1457)


1st Earl of Morton, James Douglas, as above


2nd Earl of Morton, John Douglas, b.b.1466, a.1493, d.1512


Son of the 1st Earl and Joanna Stewart (b.c.1431, d.a.1493), daughter of King James II.


3rd Earl of Morton, James Douglas, b.?, a.1512, d.1550


Son of the 2nd Earl and Janet Crichton (b.1461, d.?). He and his wife, Princess Catherine Stewart, daughter of King James IV, and three daughters. Margaret Douglas (b.c.1510, d.1579) married James Hamilton, 2nd Earl of Arran. Beatrice Douglas married Robert Maxwell, 5th Lord Maxwell (for whom see the earls of Nithsdale). Elizabeth Douglas married James Douglas, a grandson of Archibald Douglas, 5th Earl of Angus and the younger brother of David Douglas, the 7th Earl of Angus. James became the 4th Earl of Morton.


4th Earl of Morton, James Douglas, b.c.1516, a.1553, d.1581


Husband of the 3rd Earl’s daughter Elizabeth Douglas. He became earl in his own right jure uxoris. He became Lord Chancellor in 1563, and as a reformer was one of the leading conspirators in the murder of David Rizzio in 1566. However, not having enough open support as yet, he was forced to flee to England when Darnley, Mary’s current husband, refused to back the rebellion. After Darnley’s death, he was able to return, and led the rebel forces at the Battle of Langside, becoming a Privy Counsellor to Regent Moray and continued under Regents Lennox and Mar before finally becoming Regent himself in 1572. He managed to agree terms with the Catholic lords, but alienated the Presbyterians by leaning towards an Episcopal Church. This, coupled with pressure from Argyll and Atholl, forced him to resign, and he surrendered all his honours. However, he was not ready to give up power, and, encouraged by the new Earl of Mar, he took possession of Stirling Castle while the young King was present. This gave him a strong bargaining position when negotiations began with the other interested parties in the realm, and he managed to obtain Presidency of the Council. In 1579, however, Esme Stuart, the King’s cousin, arrived back in Scotland and immediately became very close to the King, receiving the earldom of Lennox. Once established, Lennox had one of his supporters accuse Morton of having been involved in the death of Darnley. Although there was no real evidence of this, he was found guilty and sentenced to death. In the end, rather than being hanged, drawn and quartered, the King interceded, and the method of execution was changed to decapitation.


Earl of Morton, John Maxwell, b.1553, a.1581, d.1593


With the 4th Earl being attainted, the title was briefly held by John Maxwell, 7th Lord Maxwell, son of the 3rd Earl’s daughter Beatrice Douglas and Robert Maxwell, 5th Lord Maxwell (for whom see the earls of Nithsdale), who was married to Elizabeth Douglas (b.?, d.1637), daughter of David Douglas, 7th Earl of Angus. However, the attainder was reversed in 1586, allowing the proper heir-male to succeed.


5th Earl of Morton, Archibald Douglas, b.1555, a.1586, d.1588


Nephew of the 4th Earl, and also 8th Earl of Angus. He was raised by the 4th Earl after his father’s early death, and became one of his closest supporters. When the Regent Morton was found guilty of treason, Douglas tried to encourage the English to invade in order to rescue him, but after the Raid of Ruthven he felt it safe enough to return. This reconciliation lasted only until the King escaped from the clutches of Mar and Gowrie, after which Douglas returned to England, making numerous attempts at planning rebellion. In 1585, an invasion, encouraged by Queen Elizabeth, succeeded, and the following year, Angus and others were restored to their estates by Act of Parliament and he was granted the earldom of Morton himself. When he died, the earldoms of Angus and Morton separated according to the rules of succession of each.


6th Earl of Morton, William Douglas, b.1539-1540, a.1588, d.1606


The earldom of Morton now reverted to the original line of the Douglases of Dalkeith, via Sir Henry Douglas of Lugton and Lochleven, younger brother of James Douglas, 1st Lord of Dalkeith. Henry Douglas married Marjory Stewart (b.?, d.1438). Their son William Douglas (b.?, d.1421) married Elizabeth Lindsay, daughter of David Lindsay, 1st Earl of Crawford. Their son Sir Henry Douglas (b.?, d.1476) married Elizabeth Erskine. Their son Sir Robert Douglas (b.?, d.1513) married Elizabeth Boswell. Their son Sir Robert Douglas married Margaret Balfour. Their son Thomas Douglas married Elizabeth Boyd. Their son Sir Robert Douglas (b.?, d.1547) married Margaret Erskine (b?, d.1572), daughter of John Erskine, 5th Lord Erskine (for whom see the earls of Mar). Their son became the 6th Earl of Morton. He is most well known for being custodian of Lochleven Castle during Queen Mary’s incarceration there.


7th Earl of Morton, William Douglas, b.1582, a.1606, d.1648


Grandson of the 6th Earl and Lady Agnes Leslie, daughter of George Leslie, 4th Earl of Rothes, and son of Robert Douglas, Master of Douglas (b.?, d.1584-1585) and Jean Lyon, daughter of John Lyon, 8th Lord Glamis (for whom see the earls of Kinghorne). He was Lord High Treasurer of Scotland from 1630 to 1636, and a staunch Royalist during the Civil Wars, selling his Dalkeith estates to the Earl of Buccleuch to raise monies for the cause. For his support he was granted the islands of Orkney and Zetland.


8th Earl of Morton, Robert Douglas, b.?, a.1648, d.1649


Son of the 7th Earl and Lady Anne Keith (b.?, d.1648), daughter of George Keith, 4th Earl Marischal.


9th Earl of Morton, William Douglas, b.?, a.1649, d.1681


Son of the 8th Earl and Elizabeth Villiers. The islands of Orkney and Zetland were annexed to the Crown by Act of Parliament in 1669, and he also passed the Barony of Dalkeith to the Duke of Buccleuch, who had already taken possession of the estates.


10th Earl of Morton, James Douglas, b.?, a.1681, d.1686


Younger brother of the 8th Earl and uncle of the 9th Earl. He was a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber to King Charles I. His eldest son died young, but three more of his sons each succeeded him in turn.


11th Earl of Morton, James Douglas, b.?, a.1686, d.1715


Son of the 10th Earl and Anne Hay (b.?, d.1700), daughter of Sir James Hay, 1st Baronet Hay of Smithfield. He was a Privy Counsellor to Queen Anne, and one of the Commissioners for the Union. He obtained a repeal of the Act that had deprived his grandfather of the islands of Orkney and Zetland. He died unmarried.


12th Earl of Morton, Robert Douglas, b.?, a.1715, d.1730


Younger brother of the 11th Earl. He also died unmarried.


13th Earl of Morton, George Douglas, b.?, a.1730, d.1738


Younger brother of the 12th Earl. He reached the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the Army before becoming an MP, first for Kirkwall and then for Linlithgow. He was a Representative Peer from 1730 to his death and Vice-Admiral of Scotland from 1733 onwards.


14th Earl of Morton, James Douglas, b.c.1703, a.1737-1738, d.1768


Son of the 13th Earl and Frances Adderly. His first wife died young, and four of their five sons died before him. He was a Representative Peer from 1739 until his death. He was Grand Master Mason of Scotland from 1739 to 1740 and then became Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of England. In 1742, he became Lord of Orkney and Zetland, but in 1766 disposed of these lands to the Dundas family. He was Lord Clerk Register from 1760 to 1768. His daughter Mary Douglas (b.?, d.1816) married Charles Gordon, 4th Earl of Aboyne.


15th Earl of Morton, Sholto Charles Douglas, b.c.1732, a.1768, d.1774


Son of the 14th Earl and Agatha Halyburton (b.?, d.1748). He was also Grand Master of the Grand Lodges of both Scotland and England.


16th Earl of Morton, George Douglas, b.1761, a.1774, d.1827


Son of the 15th Earl and Catherine Hamilton, a grand-daughter of Sir Thomas Hamilton, 6th Earl of Haddington. He was a Representative Peer from 1784 to 1790. In 1791, he was created 1st Baron Douglas of Lochleven in the Peerage of Great Britain, which title became extinct at his death. He was Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Scotland from 1790 to 1792 and served as Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland from 1819 to 1824. He was Lord-Lieutenant of Fife from 1808 to 1824 and of Midlothian from 1824 to 1827.


17th Earl of Morton, George Sholto Douglas, b.1789, a.1827, d.1858


Grandson of the 14th Earl and his second wife Bridget Heathcote (b.1723, d.1805), daughter of Sir John Heathcote, 2nd Baronet Heathcote of Normanton, and son of the Honourable John Douglas (b.1756, d.1818) and Lady Frances Lascelles (b.1762, d.1817), daughter of Edward Lascelles, 1st Earl of Harewood. He was a Representative Peer from 1828 and served as a Lord-in-Waiting from 1841 to 1846 under Sir Robert Peer and in 1852 under the Earl of Derby. His sister Harriet Douglas (b.?, d.1833) married George Hamilton-Gordon, 4th Earl of Aberdeen, Prime Minister.


18th Earl of Morton, Sholto John Douglas, b.1818, a.1858, d.1884


Son of the 17th Earl and Frances Theodora Rose (b.?, d.1879). He was a Representative Peer from 1859 to 1884.


19th Earl of Morton, Sholto George Watson Douglas, b.1844, a.1884, d.1935


Son of the 18th Earl and Helen Watson (b.?, d.1850). He was a Representative Peer from 1886 to his death.


20th Earl of Morton, Sholto Charles John Hay Douglas, b.1907, a.1935, d.1976


Grandson of the 19th Earl and Helen Geraldine Ponsonby (b.?, d.1949), daughter of Charles Frederick Ashley Cooper Ponsonby, 2nd Baron de Mauley, and son of Sholto Charles Douglas, Lord Aberdour (b.1878, d.1911) and Minnie Christina Brenda Hay (b.1880, d.1954), a grand-daughter of George Hay, 8th Marquess of Tweeddale. He served as a Flight-Lieutenant in the RAF Volunteer Reserve during the Second World War.


21st Earl of Morton, John Charles Sholto Douglas, b.1927, a.1976


Another grandson of the 19th Earl, and son of Charles William Sholto Douglas (b.1881, d.1960) and Florence Timson. He is Lord-Lieutenant of West Lothian, and he has petitioned the Lord Lyon King of Arms for the title of Chief of Clan Douglas, since this is currently dormant. As well as being 21st Earl, he is also 23rd Lord Dalkeith and 21st Lord Aberdour.



The courtesy title for the heir is Lord Aberdour.


(Last updated: 04/12/2009)