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1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

Earl of Haddington

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A Scottish title bestowed in 1627 upon Thomas Hamilton, earl of Melrose (1563-1637). Thomas, who was a member of the great family of Hamilton, being a son of Thomas Hamilton of Priestfield, was a lawyer who became a lord of session as Lord Drumcairn in 1592. He was on very friendly terms with James VI., his legal talents being useful to the king, and he was one of the eight men who, called the Octavians, were appointed to manage the finances of Scotland in 1596. Having also become king's advocate in 1596, Hamilton was entrusted with a large share in the government of his country when James went to London in 1603; in 1612 he was appointed secretary of state for Scotland, and in 1613 he was created Lord Binning and Byres. In 1616 he became lord president of the court of session, and three years later was created earl of Melrose, a title which he exchanged in 1627 for that of earl of Haddington. After the death of James I. the earl resigned his offices of president of the court of session and secretary of state, but he served Charles I. as lord privy seal. He died on the 29th of May 1637. Haddington, who was both scholarly and wealthy, left a large and valuable collection of papers, which is now in the Advocates' library at Edinburgh. James referred familiarly to his friend as Tam o' the Cowgate, his Edinburgh residence being in this street.

The earl's eldest son Thomas, the 2nd earl (1600-1640), was a covenanter and a soldier, being killed by an explosion at Dunglass castle on the 30th of August 1640. His sons, Thomas (d. 1645) and John (d. 1669), became respectively the 3rd and 4th earls of Haddington, and John's grandson Thomas (1679-1735) succeeded his father Charles (c. 1650-1685), as 6th earl in 1685, although he was not the eldest but the second son. This curious circumstance arose from the fact that when Charles married Margaret (d. 1700), the heiress of the earldom of Rothes, it was agreed that the two earldoms should be left separate; thus the eldest son John became earl of Rothes while Thomas became earl of Haddington. Thomas was a supporter of George I. during the rising of 1715, and was a representative peer for Scotland from 1716 to 1734. He died on the 28th of November 1735.

The 6th earl was a writer, but in this direction his elder son, Charles, Lord Binning (1697-1732), is perhaps more celebrated. After fighting by his father's side at Sheriffmuir in 1715 and serving as member of parliament for St Germans, Binning died at Naples on the 2 7 th of December 1732. His eldest son, Thomas (c. 1720-1794), became the 7th earl in 1735, and the latter's grandson Thomas (1780-1858) became the 9th earl in 1828. The 9th earl had been a member of parliament from 1802 to 1827, when he was made a peer of the United Kingdom as Baron Melros of Tyninghame, a title which became extinct upon his death. In 1834 he became lord-lieutenant of Ireland under Sir Robert Peel, leaving office in the following year, and in Peel's second administration (1841-1846) he served as first lord of the admiralty and then as lord privy seal. When he died without sons on the 1st of December 1858 the earldom passed to his kinsman, George Baillie (1802-1870), a descendant of the 6th earl. This nobleman took the name of Baillie-Hamilton, and his son George (b. 1827) became 11th earl of Haddington in 1870.

See State Papers of Thomas, Earl of Melrose, published by the Abbotsford Club in 1837, and Sir W. Fraser, Memorials of the Earls of Haddington (1889).

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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Earl of Haddington'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. 1910.

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