Earls of Rothes (1457)


1st Earl of Rothes, George Leslie, b.c.1471, a.1457, d.1490


The Leslies were a well established family of noble origin, reputably descended from Bartolf, or Bartholomew, an Hungarian noble who accompanied Margaret Atheling to Scotland in 1067, and Beatrix, a daughter of Duncan I. The clan developed into a number of major branches, of which that of Rothes became predominant after Sir George Leslie (b.?, d.1411-1412) was rewarded with substantial estates in the Mearns (Kincardineshire) by King Robert III. His grandson, also George Leslie, was first raised to the peerage as 1st Lord Leslie in 1445. Due to his parentage, he had many connections within the noble houses of the realm, his mother being a Seton and his paternal grandmother of the Hays of Erroll. His main claim to fame is that he obtained a divorce from his second wife, on the spurious grounds of consanguinity, but with the condition that their children would not thereby become illegitimate, allowing the succession to pass to them rather than any other children he might produce, all this to placate the Sinclair in-laws of his eldest son, who might otherwise have raised objections if the offspring of a later marriage were allowed to inherit.


2nd Earl of Rothes, George Leslie, b.?, a.1490, d.b.1513


Grandson of the 1st Earl and Christian Haliburton, daughter of Sir Walter Halyburton of Dirletoun and a grand-daughter of Robert Stewart, 1st Duke of Albany, and son of Andrew Leslie, Master of Leslie (b.?, d.b.1473) and Elizabeth Sinclair (b.?, d.1508), daughter of William Sinclair, 1st Earl of Caithness. He seems to have been a bit of a waster who ran down the family estates, following which his brother obtained authority to take control of what was left.


3rd Earl of Rothes, William Leslie, b.?, a.b.1513, d.1513


Younger brother of the 2nd Earl. He died at Flodden without having managed to sort out all the problems caused by his brother.


4th Earl of Rothes, George Leslie, b.?, a.1513, d.1558


Son of the 3rd Earl and Margaret Balfour, daughter of Sir Michael Balfour of Monquhanny. He was Sheriff of Fife from 1529 to 1540 and he was created an Extraordinary Lord of Session in 1541. He was tried for the murder of Cardinal David Beaton, but acquitted, although his oldest sons Norman Leslie (b.?, d.1554) and William Leslie, children of the earl’s first wife Margaret Crichton, daughter of William Crichton, 3rd Lord Crichton of Sanquhar and were forfeit and taken as prisoners to France, where Norman gained renown as a soldier in the French Army. George Leslie was Ambassador to Denmark in 1550 and was one of the ill-fated Commissioners who attended Queen Mary’s marriage to the French Dauphin, only to be killed by poison at Dieppe while on the way back to Scotland.


5th Earl of Rothes, Andrew Leslie, b.a.1525, a.1558, d.1611


Son of the 4th Earl and his third wife Agnes Somerville (b.c.1500, d.?), daughter of Sir John Somerville of Quothquan, himself a younger son of John Somerville, 3rd Lord Somerville. His two older half-brothers were forfeit by implication in the murder of Cardinal Beaton. Although a prominent supporter of the Lords of the Congregation, he fought for Queen Mary at the Battle of Langside.


6th Earl of Rothes, John Leslie, b.?, a.1611, d.1641


Grandson of the 5th Earl and Grizel Hamilton, daughter of Sir James Hamilton of Finnart, and son of James Leslie, Master of Rothes (b.?, d.1607) and Catherine Drummond (b.1576, d.?), daughter of Patrick Drummond, 3rd Lord Drummond (for whom see the earls of Perth). He was a Covenanter and resisted the King’s attempts to preserve the episcopacy, voting against the Five Articles of Perth in 1621 and leading the opposition to the imposition of the Book of Common Prayer in 1638. When James Hamilton, 3rd Marquess of Hamilton, the King’s Commissioner to the General Assembly, dissolved parliament in 1639, he joined with other prominent members of the Leslie clan, Alexander Leslie, 1st Earl of Leven and General David Leslie, 1st Lord Newark (for whom see the lords Lindores) in mobilising for war. The following year he was one of the Commissioners from the Scottish Parliament to Charles I, and was one of the chief negotiators of the Treaty of Ripon. He was a potential ally of the King against the growing English Parliamentarianism, but his early death while in England finished off the hopes of any further agreement between the Scots and the King.


7th Earl of Rothes, John Leslie, b.c.1630, a.1641, d.1681


Son of the 6th Earl and Anne Erskine, daughter of Sir John Erskine, 2nd Earl of Mar. He was a staunch Royalist and carried the sword of state at the coronation of Charles II in Scotland in 1651. However, he was captured at the Battle of Worcester later that year and had to pay the heavy fines of Cromwell’s Act of Grace before being set free. After the Restoration he was Lord President of the Privy Council from 1660 to 1663, Lord High Treasurer from 1663 to 1667 and Lord Chancellor from 1664 to 1681. He was created 1st Duke of Rothes in 1680, with the subsidiary titles of 1st Marquess of Ballenbreich, 1st Earl of Leslie, 1st Viscount of Lugtoun and 1st Lord Auchmotie and Caskieberry, but all of these became extinct at his death as he had no male heir. His daughter Margaret had married Charles Hamilton, 5th Earl of Haddington, and in 1663, he obtained a re-grant of the earldom with remainder to her children, with the stipulation that the earldoms of Rothes and of Haddington should not merge.


8th Earl (Countess) of Rothes, Margaret Leslie, b.?, a.1681, d.1700


Daughter of the 7th Earl and Anne Lindsay, daughter of John Lindsay, 17th Earl of Crawford. She married Charles Hamilton, 5th Earl of Haddington. Their second son succeeded to his father’s titles and their first son succeeded to his mother’s titles as these were regarded as the more senior.


9th Earl of Rothes, John Hamilton, b.1679, a.1700, d.1722


Son of the 8th Countess and Charles Hamilton, 5th Earl of Haddington. He was briefly Keeper of the Privy Seal from 1704 to 1705. He was a supporter of the Union and served as a Representative Peer from 1708 to 1710. He was appointed as Vice-Admiral of Scotland in 1714, Governor of Stirling Castle in 1716 and he was Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland from 1715 to 1721. When the Jacobite Uprising took place in 1715 he came out strongly in support of the government and led local militia in various confrontations with the rebels and commanded the volunteer horse troops at the Battle of Sheriffmuir to great acclaim.


10th Earl of Rothes, John Hamilton, b.?, a.1722, d.1767


Son of the 9th Earl and Lady Jean Hay (b.?, d.1731), daughter of John Hay, 1st Marquess of Tweeddale. He joined the 9th Dragoons in 1715, moving to the Scots Guards in 1717 and became Colonel of the 21st Foot Regiment in 1721. He took command of the 25th Foot Regiment in 1732 and fought with them at the Battle of Dettingen in 1743. The following year, at the Battle of Rocoux, he led the Grenadier Guards from the front line with great bravery. In 1747 his hereditary sheriffship of Fife was purchased from him by the state. In 1751 he was transferred to Ireland and in 1758 was made Commander-in-Chief of Ireland with the rank of General, Colonel of the Scots Guards and an Irish Privy Counsellor. He was also a Representative Peer, one two occasions, from 1723 to 1734 and from 1747 to 1767 and he was made a Knight of the Thistle in 1753.


11th Earl of Rothes, John Hamilton, b.1744, a.1767, d.1773


Son of the 10th Earl and Hannah Howard (b.?, d.1761).


12th Earl (Countess) of Rothes, Jane Elizabeth Leslie, b.1750, a.1773, d.1810


Older sister of the 11th Earl. He right to succeed was disputed by her uncle Andrew Leslie (b.1712, d.1776) but both the Court of Session and the House of Lords upheld her rights.


13th Earl of Rothes, George William Glanville, b.1768, a.1810, d.1817


Son of the 12th Countess and George Raymond Evelyn Glanville (b.?, d.1770).


14th Earl (Countess) of Rothes, Henrietta Anne Glanville, b.1790, a.1817, d.1819


Daughter of the 13th Earl and Henrietta Anne Pelham (b.?, d.1797), daughter of Sir Thomas Pelham, 1st Earl of Chichester.


15th Earl of Rothes, George William Evelyn Leslie, b.1809, a.1819, d.1841


Son of the 14th Countess and George Gwyther (b.?, d.1829).


16th Earl of Rothes, George William Evelyn Leslie, b.1835, a.1841, d.1859


Son of the 15th Earl and Louisa Morshead (b.?, d.1886). He died unmarried.


17th Earl (Countess) of Rothes, Henrietta Anderson Morshead Leslie, b.1832, a.1859, d.1886


Older sister of the 16th Earl. She had no children.


18th Earl (Countess) of Rothes, Mary Elizabeth Leslie, b.1811, a.1886, d.1893


Younger sister of the 15th Earl and aunt of the previous holder.


19th Earl of Rothes, Norman Evelyn Leslie, b.1877, a.1893, d.1927


Grandson of the 18th Countess and Captain Martin Edward Haworth (b.?, d.1886), and son of Martin Leslie Leslie (sic) (b.1839, d.1882) and Georgina Frances Studdy (b.?, d.1934). In 1895 he joined a militia battalion of the Devonshire Regiment, but resigned his commission in 1899, only to be appointed as Captain of the Fife Royal Garrison Artillery in 1905. He resigned again but subsequently was appointed Lieutenant-Colonel of the Highland Cyclist Battalion attached to the Black Watch.  He fought gallantly in the First World War, while his family seat of Leslie House was used as a military hospital. He reached the rank of Colonel in 1918, though sustaining injures from which he never fully recovered. His wife, Lucy Noel Dyer-Edwardes, was a passenger on the Titanic, and heroically manned the tiller of a lifeboat until rescued by HMS Carpathia.


20th Earl of Rothes, Malcolm George Dyer-Edwardes Leslie, b.1902, a.1927, d.1975


Son of the 19th Earl and Lucy Noel Dyer-Edwardes (b.?, d.1956).


21st Earl of Rothes, Ian Lionel Martin Leslie, b.1932, a.1975, d.2005


Son of the 20th Earl and Beryl Violet Dugdale (b.?, d.1994).


22nd Earl of Rothes, James Malcolm David Leslie, b.1958, a.2005


Son of the 21st Earl and Marigold Evans-Bevan (b.1934). He is also 22nd Lord Leslie.



The courtesy title for the heir is Lord Leslie.


(Last updated: 26/01/2011)


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