a barony at the heart of the nation

Duddingston across the Loch
Duddingston of old ~ viewed from across Duddingston Loch
DUDDINGSTON TODAY, on the southeastern side of Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park and only a walk from the Palace and the Abbey, consists principally of large Victorian houses in substantial well-wooded grounds. At only a mile and a half from the city centre, and set against the Park and the bird sanctuary of the Loch, it is one of the most envied urban locations in Scotland. (Its special historic interest was recognised in 1975 by designation as a Conservation Area.)
When David I came to the throne in 1124 and granted it to the Abbey of Kelso, 38 miles to the southeast, on the River Tweed, it was good farmland and Duddingston Loch was stocked with fish. The Abbot then founded a church here and leased the lands to a foreign knight, whether Flemish or Norman is not now known, but his name was Dodin and Dodingston is how it was spelt on the first charter. Ravages subsequently wrought by invaders on Kelso Abbey destroyed most of the monastic records and Duddingston’s history in the three centuries following is lost.
Arms of James Stewart, Earl of Moray Arms of Master of Roxburghe Arms of Earl of Roxburghe
James Stewart
Earl of Moray
William Ker
Master of Roxburghe
Robert Ker
1st Earl of Roxburghe
The lands reappear in 1539/40 when James Stewart, Earl of Moray, one of the bastard sons of King James V (the son who became Regent during the reign of his sister, Mary Queen of Scots), had a charter he had given as Commendator of Kelso, granting the lands of Duddingston to John Bertoun and his wife Joan Littil, confirmed by his father. (The Commendators, or Lay Abbots, appointed to the abbeys by the King lived off their abbeys’ wealth.)
The next mention of Duddingston appears when in 1602 the then Commendator of Kelso, William Ker, the eldest son of Robert Ker, Lord Roxburghe (later to be the 1st Earl of Roxburghe), resigned all its temporalities and spiritualities into the hands of his father. Then in 1607 the Abbey of Kelso (with Duddingston and all its other properties) was erected into a temporal lordship for his father. (The Reformation was over ~ the wealth of the abbeys redistributed.)
Soon afterwards Lord Roxburghe sold Duddingston to a Thomson family whose chief, in 1636, became a baronet as Sir Thomas Thomson. His son, Sir Patrick, sold the lands in 1666 to his brother-in-law, Thomas Galloway, Lord Dunkeld, whose arms were noted by Alexander Nisbet as Argent a lion rampant Azure ~ the arms of the original Bruce family. This is curious, and the suspicion that some extra charge, perhaps a chief, is missing is enhanced by these arms in Balfour Paul’s ORDINARY being placed in a section in which all the other lions rampant have extra charges.
Arms of Thomson of Duddingston
Arms of Lord Dunkeld
Thomas Galloway,
Lord Dunkeld
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Thomas Thomson
(before baronetcy)
First arms of Duke of Lauderdale Second arms of Duke of Lauderdale Arms of Earl of Dysart
Duke of Lauderdale
1st version
Duke of Lauderdale
2nd version
William Murray,
1st Earl of Dysart
Eight years later Duddingston was acquired by the Duke of Lauderdale (famous as one of the CABAL who counselled Charles II). His arms, although the lion is couped in all its joints of the field (a.k.a. dechaussée), it was decided, could be mistaken at a distance for those of the King of Scots, and thus the double tressure Gules was changed to Azure. He married, as her second husband, Lady Elizabeth Murray who, as heiress of her father, succeeded to the Earldom of Dysart.
Arms of Tollemache Arms of Duke of Argyll Arms of Duke of Abercorn
Sir Lionel
Tollemache, Bt
Archibald Campbell,
3rd Duke of Argyll
James Hamilton,
1st Duke of Abercorn
The Duchess of Lauderdale’s first husband, Sir Lionel Tollemache, 3rd Bt, had given her five children of which the elder daughter, Elizabeth Tollemache, married the 1st Duke of Argyll. As “pin-money” her stepfather on her marriage presented her with Duddingston, but this stayed in the Argyll family only until her younger son, Archibald Campbell, 3rd Duke of Argyll, in 1745 sold the lands to James Hamilton, 8th Earl of Abercorn, for whom they were erected into a barony.
The nephew of the 8th Earl succeeded him and was in 1790 raised to the rank of a Marquess. His grandson, the 2nd Marquess, was in 1868 raised to the rank of a Duke, and then the Barony of Duddingston continued father to son until the present generation where it is shared by the 5th Duke of Abercorn’s brother and sister, Lord Anthony Hamilton and Lady Moyra Campbell.
The Duchess of Argyll who had received Duddingston as “pin-money” was separated from her husband for much of her married life and lived very happily at Duddingston with her two sons, later the 2nd and 3rd Dukes, who received much of their education here under her supervision.
golf course
The Duddingston House in which she lived was replaced with a much larger mansion by the 8th Earl of Abercorn, but it is still possible to imagine the home she loved. Duddingston Park (see right) is now one of the two adjacent golf courses, and the water in Loch Duddingston and Loch Dunsapie (see right) is unchanged.
Loch Dunsapie
History has not always been so tranquil here. When much of the land was forested, Wallace and his guerillas used Duddingston as a refuge between their attacks, and in 1745 Prince Charles, the Young Pretender, rested here for a month before his victory at Prestonpans. Scottish Kings stayed here also, as various charters show, and King James VI patronised the Sheep’s Heid Inn.
Map of Southern Scotland
This opportunity to acquire a barony at the heart of our capital city, in the shadow of (Prince ?) Arthur’s Seat, is unique. More : it carries the option for the new Baron to buy close to an acre of woodland ~ in itself a remarkable offer. The currently expected price for the Barony is in excess of £65,000 (approximately US$120,000).
The firm price for the optioned woodland is £30,000 (approximately US$56,000) ~ which, we suspect, is remarkably low for land so close to the city centre. It must be noted, however, that this price is valid only as an option available to the new Baron.
We would expect the barony and its woodland to be of especial interest to those of the name of Thomson (or Thompson), Galloway, Maitland, Murray, Tollemache, Campbell and Hamilton.
Readers seeking more information on the historical or heraldic features of this Barony may write to the Editor. Readers who wish to write to the Abercorn Estates Office should similarly contact the Editor and ask for the address of the responsible agent.
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