SETON (Family'). The Scottish family of Seton, Seyton or Seatoun, claims descent from a Dougall Seton who lived in the reign of Alexander I. Sir Richard Maitland of Lethington counted seven generations between this personage and Sir Christopher Seton (d. 1306), the first of the house who emerges in history with any distinctness, but these links are not all supported by documentary evidence. The name was derived from the Anglo-Norman family of Say, the Anglo-Norman immigrant being supposed to have given the name of Sey-toun to the lands granted to him in East Lothian. The family honours include the earldoms of Wintoun (cr. 1600) and Dunfermline; of Eglinton through marriage with the Montgomeries ; and through alliance with a Gordon heiress a Seton became the ancestor of the earls and marquesses of Huntly and dukes of Gordon. The Setons were connected by marriage with the royal family of Scotland, and also with the Dunbars, Lindsays, Hays and Maitlands.
[Several of the Setons have their own pages on this web site, see index for the list. Ed.]
Some of the cadet branches of the family remain to be noticed. The Setons of Parbroath in Fife, represented by American descendants, are descended from Sir George Seton (fl. 1589-1595). The Setons of Touch, near Stirling, descended from Alexander Seton, 1st earl of Huntly. They were hereditary armour-bearers and squires of the body to the king, dignities which passed, in the female line, to the Seton-Stewarts in 1786. From the Setons of Touch were descended the Setons of Culbeg or Abercorn. The Setons of Preston (Linlithgow) and Ekolsund (Sweden) have been connected with the Swedish army since the I Sth century when George Seton, a merchant, settled in Stockholm. The Setons of Melarum descended from William Seton, brother of the 1st earl of Huntly. The Pitmedden branch was an offshoot from Meldrum ; the baronetcy was created (1686) for the Judge Sir Alexander Seton, Lord Pitmedden (c. 1639- 1719). The Setons of Mpunie again were a branch of the Pitmedden family ; one of their house, Lieut. -Colonel Alexander Seton, 74th Highlanders, was in charge of the troops on the ill-fated " Birkenhead " in 1852. The Setons of Cariston, descended from John, second son of the 6th Lord Seton, obtained the barony of Cariston in 1553. Other branches are Seton-Gordon of Embo, with a barpnetcy created in 1631, and Seton of Garleton, with a baronetcy created in 1664. The viscounty of Kingston was created for Alexander Seton (d. 1691), third son of the 3rd earl of Wintoun, and became extinct on the attainder of James, 3rd viscount, in 1715. See HUNTLY, EARLS AND MARQUESSES OF.
GEORGE, 4th earl of Wintoun (1640-1704), succeeded his grandfather, George Seton, 3rd earl, in 1650. He saw some service in the French army, and fought against the Covenanters at Pentland and at Bothwell Bridge. By his second marriage, with Christian Hepburn, he had a son George, who quarrelled with his father and is said to have been working as a journeyman blacksmith abroad when he succeeded to the title in 1704. In 1715 the sth earl joined Kenmure with 300 men at Moffat, but it was against his advice that the Jacobite army invaded England. He was lying in the Tower under sentence of death when he succeeded in making his escape, and proceeding to the continent, he became well known in Rome, where he was grand master of the Roman lodge of freemasons. He died there in 1 749. With him the earldom became extinct, but it was revived in 1840 in favour of the earls of Eglinton.
AUTHORITIES. Sir Richard Maitland, History of the House of Seton, continued by A. Seton, 1st Viscount Kingston (mod. ed., Glasgow 1829, and Edinburgh 1830); G. Seton, The History of the House of Seton (2 vols., 1 896) ; Sir R. Douglas, Scots Peerage, new ed. by Sir J . B. Paul ; Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland in the " Rolls " series; and G. E. C(okayne), Complete Peerage.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)