Crawfordjohn:

guarding the gateway to Scotland

Southern Scotland
THE VALLEY OF THE UPPER CLYDE at the southern extremity of Lanarkshire, the area once known as Crawford (Crawfordjohn and Crawford-Lindsay), has been of great strategic importance to Scotland since the reign of Macbeth, whose new kingdom it guarded from King Duncan’s sons’ allies.
Sometimes called the South Highlands, it is the highest district in the south of Scotland, both pleasant to look upon and, in parts, of extreme ruggedness. Crawfordjohn, which barony is now offered for sale, is 40 miles from Edinburgh and close to the Glasgow-Carlisle motorway M74/A74(M).
Crawford Landscapes ~ pleasant rivers and rugged hills
Crawford landscape
Crawford landscape
When David I ascended the throne in 1124 he, like Macbeth in 1040, recognised the temptation the Clyde valley offered Celtic, Cumbrian and Norse invaders, and appointed Baldwin Le Fleming to the sheriffdom of Lanarkshire. Baldwin lived on to serve David’s grandsons, King Malcolm IV, the Maiden, and King William, the Lion, and to teach them how to secure peace with the judicious use of Flemish motte and bailey castles.
Beryl Platts in Scottish Hazard (Procter Press) has proposed Baldwin’s British origins to have been on Devonshire lands granted to his family by King William the Conqueror, and his Flemish origins to have been perhaps at Gavere, near Ghent, where the Gavere seigneurs bore also the double tressure flory-counterflory in their arms (but Vert not Argent).
Arms of Baldwin Le Fleming
Baldwin married the so far unnamed widow of Reginald, the fourth son of Alan, Earl of Richmond. She may have been a Lindsay, a family strongly represented in the Crawford area at a very early period, and this theory is perhaps supported by the grant of the lands of West Crawford (thereafter Crawfordjohn), to her son, Baldwin’s stepson, John.
Baldwin Le Fleming of Biggar
Arms of John de Crawford Arms of Moray of Bothwell Arms of Lindsay of Crawford
Arms of Barclay of Kilbirny
Sir Thomas Moray of Bothwell
John de Crawford
David de Barclay
Lindsay of Crawford
John de Crawford’s line ended during the first half of the 14th century with two heiress daughters who married Sir Thomas Moray, who succeeded his brother as Lord of Bothwell, and David de Barclay, a scion of the powerful Barclay (Berkeley) family. The barony lands of Crawfordjohn were divided, the lower part going to the elder daughter, and each daughter received a moiety of the barony (instead of an indivisible barony title going to the elder). Sir Thomas was the second son of Christian, sister of Robert the Bruce, by her third marriage to Andrew Moray of Bothwell.
Arms of Earls of Douglas
Joan, the widow of Sir Thomas’s second marriage, married Archibald the Grim, Lord of Galloway and subsequently Earl of Douglas. It has been claimed that the Douglas arms were originally Argent a chief Azure, and that he added the three stars to the chief for the Lordship of Bothwell his wife brought him. However, the three stars can be seen on a Douglas seal prior to this marriage, and the Bothwell arms appeared in the third quarter of the arms of the later Earls of Douglas. (The heart of Bruce is a famous addition ~ to which its crown was added much later, as may be seen below in the Selkirk arms).
Earls of Douglas
Arms of Hamilton
Joan held Bothwell and the moiety of Crawfordjohn only in liferent, so it is a measure of the Douglas power that Archibald the Grim was able to bring those properties into the Douglas estates against the opposition at Court of the legitimate successors. They remained Douglas property for the next 93 years, until the 9th Earl, in revenge for the killing of his brother, the 8th Earl, revolted against King James II. He was defeated, probably because his allies, the Hamiltons, defected, and all his lands and titles fell to the Crown. In 1464 King James III granted the moiety of the barony of Crawfordjohn to James, 1st Lord Hamilton, probably for that critical defection. Lord Hamilton later married Mary, the King’s sister.
James,
1st Lord Hamilton
Arms of Crawford of Kilbirny
Second arms of Hamilton of Finnart
Arms of Sir James Hamilton of Finnart
Arms of 1st Earl of Arran
James Hamilton,
1st Earl of Arran
Lawrence Crawford of Greenock and Kilbirny
Sir James Hamilton of Finnart (1st)
Sir James Hamilton of Finnart (2nd)
In 1512 King James IV confirmed the moiety of the barony of Crawfordjohn to James, 2nd Lord Hamilton, 1st Earl of Arran, with remainder to his legitimate heirs ~ failing which to Sir James Hamilton of Finnart, his bastard son. Sir James, who eventually inherited the moiety, diplomat, courtier, soldier and renowned military architect, is one of the most fascinating men of the period. Although generous, he was renowned for his savage cruelty, and ultimately lost his head on a probably unjustified charge of treason.
The other moiety of the barony of Crawfordjohn that had gone to the Barclays of Kilbirny had ended with an heiress, Marjory, daughter of John de Barclay of Kilbirny. She married Lawrence Crawford of Greenock and conveyed to him Kilbirny and the moiety. He then exchanged the moiety with Hamilton of Finnart for the lands of Dumry, the two moieties thus then being united, and Sir James becoming the undisputed Baron of Crawfordjohn. He subsequently exchanged Crawfordjohn with the King for lands in Kilmarnock.
Sir James Hamilton of Finnart is of interest heraldically because his arms were changed by royal charter. Initially he bore Hamilton differenced by a black riband sinister, but King James V decided that this should be replaced by a single tressure flory-counterflory Argent. (He was, of course, second cousin to the King.) The two versions of his arms are shown above.
The new Baron, King James V, took a great interest in Crawfordjohn, and spent much of the summer of 1541 there, hunting with his second wife, Marie de Lorraine, and staying at the castle of Boghouse which he had intended for his mistress, a daughter of Carmichael of Meadowflat, the Heritable Keeper of Crawford Castle.
Arms of King of Scots
The Queen took a special interest in the gold mines in the area and visited the workings. Foreign visitors to the hunt were entertained well and departed with gifts of gold, but the King’s hopes of a steady supply of riches for the royal treasury came to naught. Silver also was found in the barony, but this too proved eventually to be disappointing.
James V,
King of Scots
In 1543, King James V dead and Mary Queen of Scots less than a year old, the power of the Earl of Arran, Chief of the Hamiltons and heir presumptive to the Scottish throne, was huge. It is not surprising to find that he used it to recover Crawfordjohn from the Crown, to grant a moiety to the infant son of the executed Sir James Hamilton of Finnart, and to keep a moiety for himself.
Arms of 2nd Earl of Selkirk
Arms of 2nd Earl of Arran
Arms of Lord Colebrooke
James Hamilton,
2nd Earl of Arran.
Duke of Chatelherault
Charles Douglas,
2nd Earl of Selkirk
Lord Colebrooke
of Stebenheath
The title of Duke of Chatelherault was French, but promotion for the Hamiltons came in Scotland too, first to Marquess and then to Duke. The moiety of Crawfordjohn stayed with the Finnart line until John Hamilton of Gilkerscleugh, having no heirs of his body, gave it to James, 2nd Marquess Hamilton, again uniting the two moieties. The united barony stayed with the ducal family until the heiress Anne, Duchess of Hamilton in her own right, married the Douglas Earl of Selkirk. He was made Duke of Hamilton for life, and it was agreed that their second son, Charles, should inherit his Selkirk title ~ whereupon Anne settled Crawfordjohn on him and his heirs.
Crawfordjohn stayed with the Selkirk line until the 4th Earl sold the barony towards the end of the eighteenth century to Sir George Colebrooke, Bt, a member of an eminent family of bankers, politicians, and directors of the East India Company. The Colebrookes acquired also the barony of Crawford (Crawford-Lindsay), but their Scottish properties were disponed when the Trustees of the last of the line, Lord Colebrooke of Stebenheath who died in 1939, sold off the remainder of his much reduced estate to an investment company in 1968.
The Barony of Crawfordjohn was sold to its new Baron shortly after being featured in the Baronage pages.
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