LENNOX, a name given to a large district in Dumbartonshire and Stirlingshire, which was erected into an earldom in the latter half of the 12th century. It embraced the ancient sheriffdom of Dumbarton and nineteen parishes with the whole of the lands round Loch Lomond, formerly Loch Leven, and the river of that name which glides into the estuary of the Clyde at the ancient castle of Dumbarton.
On this river Leven, at Balloch, was the seat of Alwin, first earl of Lennox. It is probable that he was of Celtic descent, but the records are silent as to his part in history; that he was earl at all is only proved from the charters of his son, another Alwin, and he died some time before 1217. The second Alwin was father of ten sons, one of whom founded the clan Macfarlane, famous in the annals of the district, while another was ancestor of Walter of Farlane, who married the heiress of the 6th earl of Lennox. Maldouen, the 3rd earl, eldest of the sons of Alwin the younger, is an historical personage; he was a witness to the treaty between Alexander II., king of Scotland, and his brotherin-law the English king Henry III., at Newcastle in 1237, concerning the much disputed northern counties of England. His grandson, Malcolm, successor to the title, swore fealty to Edward I. in 1296; it was apparently his son, another Malcolm, the 5th earl, who was summoned by Edward to parliament and entrusted with the important post of guarding the fords of the river Forth. But the 5th earl soon after gave his services to the party of Bruce, the cause of that family having been embraced by his father as early as 1292. As a result the English king bestowed the earldom on Sir John Menteith, who was holding it in 1307 while the real earl was with King Robert Bruce in his wanderings in the Lennox country. For his services he was rewarded with a renewal of the earldom and the keeping of Dumbarton Castle; he fell fighting for his country at Halidon Hill in 1333. His son Donald, the 6th earl, an adherent of King David II., left a daughter, Margaret, countess of Lennox, who was married to her kinsman the above-mentioned Walter of Farlane, nearest heir male of the Lennox family.
In 1392, on the marriage of their grand-daughter Isabella, eldest daughter of Duncan, 8th earl, with Sir Murdoch Stewart, afterwards duke of Albany, the earldom was resigned into the hands of the king, who re-granted it to Earl Duncan, with remainder to the heirs male of his body, with remainder to Murdoch and Isabella and the heirs of their bodies begotten between them, with eventual remainder to Earl Duncan's nearest and lawful heirs. In 1424, when Murdoch, then duke of Albany, succeeded in ransoming the poet king James I. from his long English captivity, the aged Earl Duncan went with the Scottish party to Durham. The next year, however, he suffered the fate of Albany, being executed perhaps for no other reason than that he was his father-in-law. The earldom was not forfeited, and the widowed duchess of Albany, now also countess of Lennox, lived secure in her island castle of Inchmurrin on Loch Lomond until her death. Of her four sons, none of whom left legitimate issue, the eldest died in 1421, the two next suffered their father's fate at Stirling, while the youngest had to flee for his life to Ireland. Her daughter Jsobel appears to have been the wife of Sir Walter Buchanan of that ilk.
It was from Elizabeth, sister of the countess, that the next holders of the title descended. She was married to Sir John Stewart of Darnley (distinguished in the military history of France as seigneur d'Aubigny), whose immediate ancestor was brother of James, 5th high steward of Scotland. Their grandson, another Sir John Stewart, created a lord of parliament as Lord Darnley, was served heir to his great-grandfather Duncan, earl of Lennox, in 1473, and was designated as earl of Lennox in a charter under the great seal in the same year. Thereafter followed disputes with John of Haldane, whose wife's great- grandmother had been another of the three daughters of Duncan, 8th earl of Lennox, and in her right he contested the succession. Lord Darnley, however, appears to have silenced all opposition and for the last seven years of his life maintained his right to the earldom undisputed. Three of his younger sons were greatly distinguished in the French service, one being captain of Scotsmenat-arms, another premier homme d'armes, and a third ntarechal de France. Their elder brother Matthew, 2nd earl of this line, fell on Flodden Field, leaving by his wife Elizabeth, daughter of James, earl of Arran, and niece of James III., a son and successor John, who became one of the guardians of James V. and was murdered in 1 5 26. His son Matthew, the 4th earl, played a great part in the intrigues of his time, and by his marriage with Margaret Douglas allied himself to the royal house of England as well as strengthening the ties which bound his family to that of Scotland ; because Margaret was the daughter and heir of the 6th earl of Angus by his wife, Margaret Tudor, sister of King Henry VIII. and widow of King James IV. Though his estates were forfeited in 1545, Earl Matthew in 1564 not only had them restored but had the satisfaction of getting his eldest son Henry married to Mary, queen of Scots. The murder of Lord Darnley, now created earl of Rosse, lord of Ardmanoch and duke of Albany, took place in February 1567, and in July his only son James, by Mary's abdication, became king of Scotland. The old earl of Lennox, now grandfather of his sovereign, obtained the regency in 1570, but in the next year was killed in the attack made on the parliament at Stirling, being the third earl in succession to meet with a violent death.
The title was now merged in the crown in the person of James VI. the next heir, but was soon after granted to the king's uncle Charles, who died in 1576, leaving an only child, the unfortunate Lady Arabella Stewart.
Two years later the title was granted to Robert Stewart, the king's grand-uncle, second son of John, the 3rd earl, but he in 1580 exchanged it for that of earl of March. On the same day the earldom of Lennox was given to Esme Stewart, first cousin of the king and grandson of the 3rd earl, he being son of John Stewart (adopted heir of the marechal d'Aubigny) and his French wife, Anne de la Queulle. In the following year Esme was created duke of Lennox, earl of Darnley, Lord Aubigny, Tarboulton and Dalkeith, and other favours were heaped upon him, but the earl of Ruthven sent him back to France where he died soon after. His elder son, Ludovic, was thereupon summoned to Scotland by James, who invested him with all his father's honours and estates, and after his accession to the English throne created him Lord Settrington and earl of Richmond (1613), and earl of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and duke of Richmond (1623), all these titles being in the peerage of England. After holding many appointments the 2nd duke died without issue in 1624, being succeeded in his Scottish titles by his brother Esme, who had already been created earl of March and Lord Clifton of Leighton Bromswold in the peerage of England (1619) and was seigneur d'Aubigny in France. Of his sons, Henry succeeded to Aubigny and died young at Venice; Ludovic, seigneur d'Aubigny, entered the Roman Catholic Church and received a cardinal's hat just before his death; while the three other younger sons, George, seigneur d'Aubigny, John and Bernard, were all distinguished as royalists in the Civil War. Each met a soldier's death, George at Edgehill, John at Alresford and Bernard at Rowton Heath. James, the eldest son and 4th duke of Lennox, was created duke of Richmond in 1641, being like his brother a devoted adherent of Charles I.
With the death of his little son Esme, the sth duke, in 1660, the titles, including that of Richmond, passed to his first cousin Charles, who had already been created Lord Stuart of Newbury and earl of Lichfield, being likewise now seigneur d'Aubigny. Disliked by Charles II., principally because of his marriage with " la belle Stuart "- -" the noblest romance and example of a brave lady that ever I read in my life," writes Pepys he was sent into exile as ambassador to Denmark, where he was drowned in 1672. His wife had had the Lennox estates granted to her for life, but his only sister Katharine, wife of Henry O'Brien, heir apparent of the 7th earl of Thomond, was served heir to him. Her only daughter, the countess of Clarendon, was mother of Theodosia Hyde, ancestress of the present earls of Darnley.
The Lennox dukedom, being to heirs male, now devolved upon Charles II., who bestowed it with the titles of earl of Darnley and Lord Tarbolton upon one of his bastards, Charles Lennox, son of the celebrated duchess of Portsmouth, he having previously been created duke of Richmond, earl of March and Lord Settrington in the peerage of England. The ancient lands of the Lennox title were also granted to him, but these he sold to the duke of Montrose.
His son Charles, who inherited his grandmother's French dukedom of Aubigny, was a soldier of distinction, as were the 3rd and 4th dukes. The wife of the last, Lady Charlotte Gordon, as heir of her brother brought the ancient estates of her family to the Lennoxes; the additional name of Gordon being taken by the sth duke of Richmond and of Lennox on the death of his uncle, the sth duke of Gordon. In the next generation further honours were granted to the family in the person of the 6th duke, who was rewarded for his great public services with the titles of duke of Gordon and earl of Kinrara in the peerage of the United Kingdom (1876).
See Scots Peerage, vol. v., for excellent accounts of these peerages by the Rev. John Anderson, curator Historical Dept. H.M. Register House; A. Francis Steuart and Francis J. Grant, Rothesay Herald. See also The Lennox by William Fraser.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)