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THAT JOHN LOUD DERNELY WAS NOT EARL OF LENNOX BY VIRTUE OF ANY SPECIAL GRANT FROM THE SOVEREIGN, OR NEW CONSTITUTION OF THE HONOURS IN HIS FAVOUR HISTORIANS AND OTHER WRITERS REFUTED UPON THIS POINT.
No historian whatever has distinctly stated that John Lord Dernely was next heir of the earldom after the Duchess Isabella, and that he succeeded accordingly. But there is a very general, though vague and groundless impression, that he was specially gifted by his sovereign with the honours. This latter theory has sometimes proceeded upon the supposition that the Lennox was forfeited in the person of Earl Duncan, an idea already completely refuted. Others again have held the same doctrine of a new grant, who were perfectly aware that the idea of forfeiture is out of the question. Pinkerton says, " Lennox received his title, and the command of Dunbarton Castle from the young monarch," meaning thereby from James IV. in 1488. Duncan Stewart, and Andrew Stewart, the genealogical historians of the house of Stewart, both assert in positive terms, that Dernely was created Earl of Lennox by that monarch.* Peerage writers concur in the same idea, which Mr Hamilton also adopts in his laborious antiquarian compilation for Woodhead. The Quarterly Review
* "John Lord Dernely designed himself Earl of Lennox 1483, (1473) in right of his grandmother, daughter to Duncan Earl of Lennox; which title he gave up, and was afterwards created Earl says, " We suspect there will turn out to have been some renunciation andregrantof the honours before the Darnelys assumed them."* And last, though not least, Mr Riddell, in his recent critique upon the Memoirs of Merchiston, observes," There may possibly have been a new constitution of the dignity in the Stewarts of Derneley, although not yet discovered, which the House of Lords might presume under the circumstances of the case ; but even admitting the fact, it might not compromise the descent of the ancient earldom."f
It is a remarkable and important fact, in reference to the question of Dernely's right, that Andrew Stewart, the genealogical historian of the house of Dernely, who most anxiously searched their private archives, having every facility for doing so, and who is particularly minute and accurate in his details of the progress of titles which successively established their feudal rights, has given a meager, incoherent, and erroneous account of the state of John Lord Dernely's titles to this his greatest acquisition. He offers this theory: "The reason of his being described Earl of Lennox in the Parliament held in the year 1475, has probably been this: John Lord Derneley, apprehending himself entitled to the peerage of Lennox, as well as to the principal part of the estate of Lennox, in consequence of his descent
of Lennox, by King James IV. ann. 1488."—Duncan Stewarts Hist. p. 153.
"Mathew Earl of Lennox succeeded to his father John within a few years after the creation of the earldom in his favour."—Andrew Stewart's Hist. p. 218.
"Lord Derneley either usurped this dignity, or, as seems more probable, mas created Earl of Levenax."—Case for Woodhead, p. 7L
t No. civ. p. 445 Review of the Memoirs of Merchiston, November 1834.
X Tracts Legal and Historical, p. 110.
from Elizabeth, the second daughter of Duncan Earl of Lennox, and in consequence of the eldest daughter Margaret having died in 1452 without leaving issue, had asserted his right to that peerage before the year 1475, and his claim had been so far listened to, that upon one occasion in that year he had been allowed to sit in Parliament as Earl of Lennox ; but, upon belter consideration, he was not allowed to continue to make use of that title, and accordingly reverted to his designation of Lord Dernely, which he continued till the year 1488, in the time of King James IV. when, either by creation or succession, he became Earl of Lennox, which title afterwards continued to him and his successors."*
This mixture of incoherence and error on the subject is very perplexing. If Dernely really took the honours of Lennox by right of succession, what is meant by his claim having been first admitted, and then " upon better consideration" disallowed? If, on the other hand, he took those honours in virtue of a special grant from the sovereign to himself, did that grant proceed upon Dernely's mere "apprehension that he was entitled" to them,—the right of succession, however, being actually elsewhere? Again, the eldest daughter of Earl Duncan was not Margaret, but Isabella; and if it be meant that Margaret was the elder of the two coheiresses who succeeded Isabella, this admission destroys the case for Dernely, it being unquestionable that Margaret is lineally represented, to this hour, by the representative of Menteith of Rusky. The paragraph quoted is suffix cient to show how devoid the Dernely charter-chest, which has been well preserved, is of documents to instruct their right to the earldom of Lennox, since the historian who devoted himself to trace, through original
* P. 174.
deeds, all the titles of that family, is here completely at fault.
The facts I have already narrated, of which the dates shall be here shortly recapitulated, seem to set this question, of a special grant to Dernely, at rest.
1. When that nobleman first sat in Parliament as Earl of Lennox, it was clearly by virtue of succession, and not of special grant. He was served heir to Earl Duncan upon the 23d July 1473. Upon this service he obtained infeftment dated 27th July 1473. In this, however, he is still styled " John Lord Dernely." The infeftment being completed, and expressly including the chief messuage of the earldom, Lord Dernely is forthwith styled Earl. This is proved by the royal charter of the other lands he had resigned into the King's hands in security of Lord Avandale's liferent, which is dated 6th August 1473, and wherein he is for the first time styled " John Earl of Levinax." This manifestly was a mere recognition of the effect of his service and infeftment, for the lands here resigned were the Dernely and not the Lennox estates. After this he took his seat in the very next Parliament as Earl. The fact that he sat entirely upon his claim of succession is further proved by the effect of John Haldane's challenge of his service. The proceedings were instituted against him under the style and title of Dernely. because his service was not admitted. Haldane's technical pleas were brought to a successful issue on the 12th of January 1475-6. Of that date letters reducing Dernely's service pass the privyseal, and there he is styled " John Lord Dernely." In the month immediately prior to that judgment a royal commission had been granted to him, in which he is still styled "Johanni Comiti de Levenax." But on the 1 st July 1476, six months after the decree of reduction, a new Parliament met, and there he takes his seat among the Domini as " Dernele."
2. It is equally certain that this nobleman resumed the title, thirteen years after he had thus been compelled to forego it, upon no other footing than a right of succession, and that, too, established upon no other basis than the very service which had been reduced.* Though, in reference to the interval, frequently styled Earl of Lennox by historians, he is to be traced in the rolls of Parliament constantly under the minor title of Dernely, for the remainder of the reign of James III. The battle of Sauchie, where that monarch was killed, occurred on the 11th of June 1488. Upon the 12th of July thereafter Elizabeth Menteith obtained the decree of obedience to her as proprietrix of one quarter of the Lennox. At this council Lord Dernely was present, and it appears from the original roll of that sederunt that he still sat as " JDominus Dernele" and not as Levenax.f Upon the 6th of October following, the first Parliament of the new reign meets, and here Lord Dernely reappears as Earl of Lennox. To quote the words of the historian, who will not be suspected of any partiality against
* Andrew Stewart, not being aware of the true history of the matter, can give no coherent account of Dernely's change of style. He says, " in a Parliament of James IV., in October 1488, John Earl of Lennox is mentioned as present on the second day of that Parliament, and classed with the Earls; this may be considered as ihejirst time when John Lord Dernely was legally inserted in the books of Parliament as Earl of Lennox, for though upon one occasion, at a Parliament held 20th November 1475, there is marked as present Comes de Lennox, yet in the very next Parliament, 1st July 1476, he was again described under the title of Lord Dernely, and continued to be so described till the first Parliament of James IV. in October 1488."—P. 175.
t Ada Bom. Con. 12th July 1488.