The district of Buccleuch is in Selkirkshire in southern Scotland, the name being derived from 'buck-cleugh' meaning 'deer ravine' which is not, as might be imagined Gaelic in origin, but rather Old English. Notwithstanding how this should be pronounced, the Dukes of Buccleuch have always pronounced it as 'Buck-lew', with the emphasis on the lew.

The Earls of Buccleuch

The dignity of Buccleuch was first associated with a family by the name of Scott; which might lead us to the reasonable conclusion that for once we have a Scottish peerage title held by a family of genuinely Scottish origin. The first Scott dates from the thirteenth century with a Richard le Scott who is recorded as being amongst those who swore fealty to Edward I in 1296. One of his descendants was a Walter Scott of Kirkurd and Buccleuch who rose to prominence during the reign of James II as a result of his assistance in engineering the downfall of the 8th Earl of Douglas in 1452. He was followed by a series of Walter Scotts including one who distinguished himself at the battle of Pinkie, whose great-grandson Walter Scott was created Lord Scott of Buccleuch in 1606. He was followed by yet another Walter Scott who was created Lord Scott of Whitchester and Eskdale and Earl of Buccleuch on the 16th March 1619.

Walter Scott, the 1st Earl of Buccleuch was succeeded by his son Francis Scott, 2nd Earl; however the 2nd Earl died on the 22nd November 1651 shortly before his twenty fifth birthday, his only son Walter had died as an infant, and he therefore died leaving as his successors three daughters aged between four years and nine months old (one of whom died in the following year). The 2nd Earl's eldest daughter, Mary Scott was recognised as 'Countess of Buccleuch' and later married in 1659 another Walter Scott, Earl of Tarras who despite the name does not appear to have been any particular relation. But Mary died without issue two years later on the 11th March 1661 which left the last of three sisters, Anne as heiress and 'Countess of Buccleuch'.

However it is well known that the 1619 earldom was created with 'remainder to heirs male', but that the Scott family then put about the story that the original grant had been amended to allow the daughters to inherit the title. Unfortunately there appears to be no record of any such amendment and as such no evidence that either Mary or Anne had any right to their titles. Strictly speaking therefore the title Earl of Buccleuch must be regarded as becoming extinct with the death of 2nd Earl, although at the time everyone regarded both sisters as countesses in their own right.

The Dukes of Buccleuch

Nevertheless Anne was a valuable heiress worth £10,000 a year and regarded as suitable match for a gentleman known at the time as James Crofts, the illegitimate son of Charles II and Lucy Walter. In anticipation of his marriage and his assumption of the Scott estates, James assumed the surname of Scott and on the 14th February 1663 was created Duke of Monmouth, Earl of Doncaster and Baron Scott of Tindal and granted considerable estates in England by his father. On the 20th April 1663 the pair were married and on the day of their marriage the couple were both created Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch and Earl and Countess of Dalkeith.

Unfortunately the handsome and rather dashing James Scott formerly known as Crofts was a rather impressionable and easily manipulated by more unscrupulous individuals and was persuaded to pursue his own ambitions to the throne in opposition to his unpopular uncle James II. The badly organised Monmouth rebellion was crushed at the battle of Sedgemoor after which James Scott was captured and executed as a traitor on the 15th July 1685. James' English titles of Monmouth and Doncaster and the Scott barony died with him, but his wife Anne retained the Scottish titles (which had been equally granted to her on creation) and was also allowed to keep all the Monmouth property in England. Thus the Buccleuch title survived despite the attainder of its first Duke as his wife Anna Scott, continued as Duchess of Buccleuch until her death in 1732.

The Duchess was succeeded by her grandson Francis Scott the 2nd Duke, described by his contemporary the Lady Louisa Stuart as "a man of mean understanding and meaner habits", explaining that "he plunged into such low amours, and lived so entirely with the lowest company, that his person was scarcely known to his equals, and his character fell into utter contempt". By which she meant that his tastes stretched to women of the lower classes and indeed the 2nd Duke fathered a total of six illegitimate offspring by a Mrs Sarah Atkinson, a further four children by an Elizabeth Jenkins and even married a charwoman from Windsor by the name of Alice Powell. However this was his second marriage and by his first marriage to Jane Douglas, daughter of James Douglas, 2nd Duke of Queensberry he had already produced the necessary aristocratic heirs.

Notwithstanding the "utter contempt" with which the 2nd Duke was regarded in some quarters he did managed to obtain an Act of Parliament in 1742 which from the 23rd March 1743 restored the titles of Earl of Doncaster and Baron Scott of Tindal, previously lost by the 1st Duke as a result of his attainder in 1685. The title of Duke of Monmouth was however not restored as at the time there was an Earl of Monmouth.

Unfortunately tragedy struck the Scott family and both of the 2nd Duke's sons died in the smallpox epidemic in 1750. Once more the title had to skip a generation and following the 2nd Duke's death on the 22nd May 1751 Francis was succeeded by his grandson Henry. The young Henry not only became the 3rd Duke of Grafton at the tender age of four but also later inherited through his mother, the title and lands of the Duke of Queensbury, following the death of his cousin William Douglas, 4th Duke of Queensberry without issue on the 23rd December 1810. In recognition of this inheritance Henry adopted the surname of Douglas-Scott but also went one better, as through his marriage to Elizabeth Montagu, daughter of Sir George Montagu, 1st Duke of Montagu in 1767 the family ended up with further share of the Montagu estates in England including the rather impressive Boughton House.

Thus when the 3rd Duke died on the 11th January 1812 at the age of sixty-five he was succeeded by his son Charles William Henry who was variously known under the surname Montagu-Douglas or Montagu-Scott. In any event he died on the 20th April 1819 at the comparatively early age of forty-six and was succeeded by his son Walter Francis. Walter was thirteen when he inherited his titles and later appears to have adopted the name of Montagu-Douglas-Scott to reflect the fact that the wealth of three families was now concentrated in his hands.

Walter the 5th duke was Lord Privy Seal between 1842 and 1846 and then Lord President of the Council, although he was not a very succesful politician and Charles Greville described him as "worse than useless". However he appears to have been more at home on his extensive Scottish estates where he was very popular with his tenants and took literaly the old Scottish tradition of hospitality and held an open house for three months every year at Drumlanrig Castle where he literally offered room and board to all and sundry.

The 5th Duke died on the 16th April 1884 at age 77 and was succeeded by his son William Henry who similarly dabbled in poliics having sat in the House of Commons as a Conservative M.P. for Midlothian during his father's lifetime. He married a daughter of the 1st Duke of Abercorn, ad was succeeded by his son John Charles the 7th Duke who was was followed by his son Walter John the 8th Duke on the 19th October 1935. Apart from his interest in forestry (he is said to have planted a milion trees during his lifetime) the 8th Duke is noted for the particular genius with which he managed to preserve the family wealth in the face of the ravages of modern taxation and in particular managed to transfer the bulk of his estates to his son in the early 1950s and so avoided a substantial liability for death duties.

The 9th Duke was a member of parliament during his father's lifetime when he was better known under the name of Johnny Dalkeith. He was parlaysed from the waist down by a riding accident in 1971 but nevertheless returned to the House of Commons in a wheelchair to continue his career, before succeeding as the 9th Duke at his father's death on the 4th October 1973. Johnny Dalkeith has since decided to abandon the Montagu-Douglas-Scott combination and adopt the surname of Scott, although of course, being a direct male descendant of Charles II he is really a Stuart.

Besides being the 9th Duke of Buccleuch he is also the Duke of Queensberry, Marquess of Dumfriesshire, Earl of Buccleuch, Earl of Doncaster, Earl of Dalkeith, Earl of Drumlanrig and Sanquhar, Viscount of Nith, Torthorwald and Ross, Lord Scott of Buccleuch, Lord Scott of Whitchester, Baron Scott of Tindall, and Lord Douglas of Kinmont, Midlebie and Dornock, and is also recognised as the Chief of the Name and Arms of Scott.

His son and heir apparent is Richard Scott, known by his courtesy title of the Earl of Dalkeith who is married to Elizabeth Marion Frances Kerr, daughter of Peter Francis Walter Kerr, 12th Marquess of Lothian and has two sons of his own, the eldest of whom Walter Scott, is known as the Lord Eskdaill, thereby ensuring the succession of this particular title for some time to come.


Thanks to the foresight of the 7th Duke who formed Buccleuch Estates Ltd in 1923 to manage the family's extensive land holdings, the Buccleuchs have been remarkably successful in maintaining their traditional wealth in the face of the depredations of modern taxation. The 9th Duke of Buccleuch is therefore the largest private landowner in Britain and probably Europe as well, who was recorded in 1999 as owning 275,000 acres of land, although this is well down on the 460,000 acres the family held in the 1880s. However this does not make him the wealthiest landowner in Britain, as most of these acres are in Scotland and he is a mere pauper compared to that colossus of wealth the Duke of Westminster.

The Duke of Buccleuch remains seriously wealthy with assets estimated at £450m, which include not only the acreage; but three substantial stately homes at Boughton House in Northamptonshire, Drumlanrig Castle in Dumfrieshire and Eidon Hall in Roxburghshire; an extensive art collection (minus the Madonna with the Yarnwinder by Leonardo da Vinci valued at £30m or so which was stolen in 2003); and a collection of French furniture that surpasses that of the Louvre. The old estate company has recently been reorganised and rebranded as the Buccleuch Group, with external management expertise being hired to develop a commercial property army as well as a food and drinks business known as Buccleuch Heritage Brands, which produces a range of chutneys, biscuits, beers and whiskies, as well as the better known Buccleuch beef.


THE DUKES AND EARLS OF BUCCLEUCH

Earls of Buccleuch

SCOTT

Dukes of Buccleuch

CROFTS\SCOTT


SOURCES

  • Brian Masters The Dukes: The Origins, Ennoblement and History of 26 Families (Blond and Briggs, 1975)
  • Buccleuch and Queensberry, Chief of Scott, see http://www.burkes-peerage.net/sites/Contents/book/UK/FHP/Peerage/fhp-BUCCLEUCHANDQUEENSBERRY.asp
  • The 1911 Encyclopedia Brittanica entry for BUCCLEUCH, DUKES OF
  • A genealogical survey of the peerage of Britain at www.thepeerage.com
  • Stirnet Genealogy at http://www.stirnet.com/HTML/genie/genfam.htm
  • The Peerages of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom at http://www.angeltowns.com/town/peerage/Peers.htm
  • Buccleuch Group has designs on business makeover - Scotland on Sunday 20 June 2004 see http://www.entex.co.uk/media_centre/press_cuttings.asp?PageID=6.2.1&ID=136
  • The Buccleuch punt - at http://%20www.sundayherald.com/43397

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