Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Lords of blasphemy?

Letter from David Drummond, 3rd Lord Maderty to 
James Rattray of Craighall, Innerpeffray, 6 August 1677.
My job currently involves my investigating the peers of Scotland as listed following the Act of Union with England in 1707. One of the more anomalous titles listed is Lord Maderty, which was extant in 1707, and indeed still is; but since 1692 the lords Maderty have held higher titles in the Scots peerage, firstly that of Viscount Strathallan, and from 1902 earl of Perth. Lord Maderty is one of a surprising number of peers who appear twice or even three times on the 'Union Roll', perhaps to insure against counterclaims to peerage dignities where successions might be disputed. The potential arose where one individual had succeeded to multiple titles through different routes, often involving (and forgive me if I've not explained things quite to the standard of someone versed in Scots law, as I'm not) the Scottish practice of novodamus where an estate and dignity might be regranted by the crown to the current holder, but establishing a new line of descent different from that instituted when the dignity was first created.

The Maderty lordship of parliament was one of a series of lordships granted to men who had been granted or inherited the lands of Scots abbeys, exercising the feudal rights of the abbot with the office of commendator. James Drummond (d. 1623), had been appointed commendator of the abbey of Inchaffray, Perthshire, in 1565 when still a child; after a career in the service of James VI, in 1609 he obtained the conversion of the ecclesiastical lands into a lay feudal free barony (though this part of the grant does not seem to have passed the great seal) and lordship of parliament with the title of Lord Maderty. The title was taken from Madderty, near Inchaffray. 

It was this choice of title which was thought blasphemous, at least by John Lauder of Fountainhall who questioned it on etymological grounds. He wrote:

'My Lord Madertie's stile is truly Mater Dei from some cloyster so named in the tyme of poperie; he should be induced to take some other denomination, this seeming to blasphemous like,' (quoted Complete Peerage, viii.347)

Whatever the merits of this explanation of the name, invoking the mother of God in their title did the third Lord Maderty, David Drummond, little good, as his support for the Stewart cause saw him imprisoned in Edinburgh in 1658. After the Restoration he suffered from ill health, and it was his brother William who took over the headship of the family, leapfrogging his brother in the peerage in 1686 when he was created viscount of Strathallan, inheriting the older but junior title of Lord Maderty on David's death in 1692.