George Seton, Third Earl of Winton.



He was born in December 1584, and raised as the second son of the illustrious House of Seton.  Had his elder brother Robert had issue he would have doubtless founded an illustrious branch of the family, but the titles passed to him as a result of Robert lack of heir, and thereby George cared well for his brother who provided him with the reins and fortune at an early and opportune stage in his life and career.  George continued the developments that his brother and father had begun at Seton, and at Port Seton, as well as through out the many estates under his control in both East and West Lothian.


In 1620 he built the house of Winton from the foundation, which had been burned by the English of old, and restored the park, orchard, and gardens around it. It is supposed by some to have been designed and built by Wallace, who was appointed King’s Master-Mason for Scotland in 1617; but others ascribe it to the celebrated Inigo Jones. This “ peculiar and beautiful structure, “ as Burton calls it, is but a few miles from Seton, and situated on a steep embankment sloping down to the valley of the Tyne. Hunnewell (land of Scot) says that this “Jacobinan mansion” was the original of Ravenwood in Bride of Lammermoor. There is, of course, a Ghost-room in the upper part of the house; but I saw nothing uncanny about it, twice that I was there. Another room, called the “King’s Chamber,” was occupied by Charles I when he came to Scotland to be crowned in 1633. In 1630 when Lord Winton built two quarters of the house Seton, beginning at Wallace’s tower, which was all burned by the English, and continued as far as Jacob’s tower.


Because the house had been burned by the English during the wars, and better times (as he thought) were now at hand ,he caused to be carved on a fine stone tablet “upon the frontispiece of his new building” a crown supported by a thistle between two roses, being the cognizance of the two kingdoms: the emblem enigmatedly signifying the union of Scotland and England. Under it he caused to be inscribed in deep letters of gold this Latin verse:


“Unio Nune Stoque Cadoque Tuis.”

Mylne makes a note upon this, saying :

“Ye Union was ye cause of the families ruin.”


In 1639, at the commencement of the Scottish rebellion, Lord Winton left the country and waited upon the King to offer his loyal services, for which the rebels did him great injury; and thereafter all through the Civil War he was constantly harassed . In 1645, when Montrose was in command of the Royal forces, the earls oldest son, Lord Seton, joined him, and was taken prisoner at the disastrous battle of Philliphaugh and remained long “ in hazard of his life.” When King Charles II. Came to Scotland in 1650, the Earl of Winton was in continuous attendance on him, and died on the 17th of December of the same year, while preparing to be present at the coronation. Like his father, he suffered a long series of petty persecutions from the Presbytery of Hadington on account of his attachment to the catholic faith. For instance, “Nov. 4, 1648, Presbytery ordained to purge the house of Setoun of popish servants, and proceed both against them and against the Earl of Wintoun if he protect or resset them after admonition.” 


The Earl had always maintained his loyalty to King Charles, and established himself greatly in the Royal cause, but was subject to the difficulties of the politics of the time during the Cromwellian-era:


 Cromwell  and his army of cavalry domineered in all parts where they came,
 and  in  especial  about  Edinburgh, and in East Lothian. The good Earl of
 Winton,  to  whose well-furnished table all the noblemen and gentlemen had
 ever  been welcome, was pitifully abused by them; his fair house of Seaton
 made  a  common  inn;  himself  threatened  to  be killed, if they had not
 whatsoever  they  called  for; his rich furniture and stuff plundered, and
 all  the  enormities that could be offered by Jews or Turks to Christians,
 he suffered daily; and when he complained to those of our nobility who now
 rule  all, he got no redress, but [was] ordered with patience to give them
 whatsoever they called for. 


Lord Winton was twice married. By his first wife, Lady Ann Hay, eldest daughter of the Earl or Erroll, he had five sons and three daughters, of whom only three will find a place here, as the rest died young or unmarried. The family of Hay is among the most ancient and illustrious in North Britain. The long-accepted romantic and pleasant origin given by Hector Boece, good soul, is disproved by modern criticism, and the Hays are placed where they belong, among those Norman adventures of noble lineage who were invited to settle in Scotland in the twelfth century. Sir Gilbert Hay, or de la Haye, was a trusty companion of Bruce, by whom he was noblest of all hereditary dignities of the kingdom, continues in the family, one of whom was created Earl of Eroll in 1453. The marquess of Tweeddale, the Earl of Kinnoul, Hay of Smithfield, Bart. (cr.1635), Hay of Park, Bart.(cr.1663), and Hay of Dunse castle are flourishing cadets of the distinguished name.


The children of Lord Winton and Lady Ann Hay were:

1.George, Lord Seton, of whom hereafter.


3.Elizabeth,who married in 1637 William, seventh Earl Marischal, by whom she had four daughters, who were all well married. She bought a large fortune to her husband and died in 1650.


By his second wife, Elizabeth Maxwell, only daughter of the seventh Lord herries,Lord Winton has six sons and six daughters, of whom only the following are mentioned, the others dying either young or unmarried, or without succession.



“ two hopeful gentlemen.”

Christopher was a great scholar. The brothers and a preceptor, while going, “on their travels abroad, were cast away at sea upon the coasts of Holland in anno 1648”


4.Robert, of whom hereafter among the Cadets

5.Ann, married at Winton in April,1654, to John Stuart, second Earl of Traquair, by whom she had three sons and one daughter, Elizabeth, who died “ a brave hopeful young lady,” at twenty years of age. “it is said that when Lord Traquair married Lady Anne Seton, the Convenanters made him stand at the kirk door of Dalkeith in the sack gown, for marrying a papist; nevertheless, he died of that religion himself, anno 1666.”  After the Earls conversion through his wife’s influence, this noble branch of the Stuarts remained consistently Catholic; and although the title became extinct by the death of the last earl in 1861, Traquair house, the oldest inhabited mansion in Scotland, descended by the will at the death of his sister, Lady Louisa Stuart, in 1875, to her distant kinsman the Hon. Henry Constable-Maxwell, an English Catholic.

6.Mary,married to James Dalzell, fourth Earl Carnwath, by whom she had a daughter, also named Mary, who married Lord John Hay, second son of the Marquess of Tweeddale, a brigardier-general under the Duke of Marlborough.