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Murray, Earls Of

MURRAY, EARLS OF (or MORAY, EARLS OF). The earldom of Moray was one of the seven original earldoms of Scotland, its lands corresponding roughly to the modern counties of Inverness and Ross. Little is known of the earls until about 1314, when Sir Thomas Randolph, a nephew of King Robert Bruce, was created earl of Moray (q.v.), and the Randolphs held the earldom until 1346, when the childless John Randolph, 3rd earl of this line and a soldier of repute, was killed at the battle of Neville's Cross. According to some authorities the earldom was then held by John's sister Agnes (c. 1312-1369) and her husband, Patrick Dunbar, earl of March or Dunbar (c. 1285-1368). However this may be, in 1359 an English prince, Henry Plantagenet, duke of Lancaster (d. 1361), was made earl of Moray by King David II.; but in 1372 John Dunbar (d. 1391), a graiftlson of Sir Thomas Randolph and a son-in-law of Robert II., obtained the earldom. The last of the Dunbar earls was James Dunbar, who was murdered in August 1429, and after this date his daughter Elizabeth and her husband, Archibald Douglas (d. 1455), called themselves earl and countess of Moray.

The next family to bear this title was an illegitimate branch of the royal house of Stuart, James IV. creating his natural son, James Stuart (c. 1490-1544), earl of Moray. James died without sons, and after the title had been borne for a short time by George Gordon, 4th earl of Huntly (c. 1514-1562), who was killed at Corrichie in 1562, it was bestowed in 1562 by Mary Queen of Scots upon her half-brother, an illegitimate son of James V. This was the famous regent, James Stuart, earl of Moray, or Murray (see below), who was murdered in January 1570; after this event a third James Stuart, who had married the regent's daughter Elizabeth (d. 1591), held the earldom. He, who was called the " bonny earl," was killed by his hereditary enemies, the Gordons, in February 1592, when his son James (d. 1638) succeeded to the title. The earldom of Moray has remained in the Stuart family since this date. Alexander, the 4th earl (d. 1701), was secretary of state for Scotland from 1680 to 1689; and in 1796 Francis, the 9th earl (1737-1810), was made a peer of the United Kingdom as Baron Stuart.

See vol. vi. of Sir R. Douglas's Peerage of Scotland, new ed. by Sir J. B. Paul (1909).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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