The Collection


Note - This page is currently a work-in-progress


Some of the greatest treasures of the Seton Collection can now be viewed online in the Seton Collection's special e-Gallery web site.

Information about the collection is retrievable by searching, sorting and grouping the works by collector, type or subject. 

Visit the Seton Collection's e-Gallery.

On 7th June 1605 James VI sent his commands to the Privy Council ordaining "that Dukes, Marquises, and Earls" should wear "red crimson velvet robes lined with white ermine and taffets" and that "Lords" should" wear "red scarlet robes, lined after the same fashion".  These robes were of course of the "front-opening" pattern with furred capes, shown in both Sommers and Gueudeville, and to, which the Scottish noblesse reverted, after the Restoration, as being the more impressive.  Examples of the actual garments are seen on the effigy of George, 1st Earl of Kinnoull (who died in 1634), in Kinnoull Old Kirk, and in the portrait of "William 8th" (more probably William 6th) Earl of Morton in Scottish History and Life (MacLehose, 1902), vol. xiii. This "statutory Command" of course superseded for the moment, and no doubt unconstitutionally, the ancient purple comital robes such as that worn at Holyroodhouse by Robert, 1st Earl of Winton, at his formal creation in November 1600.

During the sixteenth century the English terminology of referring to the Peerage as "The Nobility", and the creation of the personal peerage Bar ones Majores, later denominated ("Lords of Parliament") "Baron-Banrent," and the determination to constitute "the Baronage" a distinct "Estait" (to replace the clergy after the Reformation), led to a statute of 20th December 1567 providing for more effective baronial representation on the preamble that '' Of law and reason the barons of this realm ought to have vote in Parliemant as a part of the nobility, and for safety of number at each parliament that a preept of Parliament be directed to the sheriff . . . " This clarifies the (obvious) nobiliary fact, that the Barons are a part, of "The Nobility" in its constitutional sense, and as an "Order" or "Estate", and in the 1455 statute of Apparel we accordingly find both degrees, the Earls and the Baronageógreat .and smallóprovided with similar mantles opening in front.  The Earls, as of regal origin, representing the provincial righ, are given "brown" velvet, or blue-purpure, mantlesóand as evidenced by the Earl of Winton's robes (belonging to Sir Alexander Seton of Abercorn, Bt.).  Donated: The robes of a 17th century Earl of Winton (ermine missing), by Elma, Lady SETON of Abercorn.

 

 

The Seton Necklace and earrings (part of a parure)

late 16th cent. with 17th and 19th cent. additions

Chain: enamelled gold, pearls, rubies, emeralds; earrings: enamelled gold, pearls, rubies

Chain: L 9.5 cm; earrings: H 3.4 cm.

Mary Seton; by descent from George, 7th Lord Seton, to his son Robert, 1st Earl of Winton, to Archibald William, 13th Earl of Eglinton (1812-61); by whom bequeathed to his daughters, Egidia, Sybil and Hilda; by whom sold Christieís 22 February 1894 (lot 69); acquired by Algernon Borthwick, 1st Baron Glenesk (1830-1908); by descent to his daughter, Lilias Countess Bathurst (d.1965); by whom presented to Queen Mary, the Silver Jubilee, May 1935


 

The necklace and earrings are part of a parure together with a brooch.

The necklace consists of a principal gold element with opaque white, pale-blue, light-green and translucent blue and green enamel scrollwork set with pearls, emeralds and rubies. It is flanked by two enamelled cross-shaped links set with pearls and emeralds. The chain is composed of six S-shaped snakes in translucent dark-green enamel coiled around two pearls and flanked by opaque white enamel c-scrolls set with rubies; these alternate with 4 S-shaped scroll-like ornaments in opaque white and translucent blue enamel set with rubies.

The earrings were made to match the snake links of the chain and adapted by surmounting the earring hook with pearls and emeralds.

The dating of the pieces is complex and so is the history of the various parts.

The necklace is a composite piece. The oldest links are the four on either side of the clasp (four snake links and four smaller links); they are reminiscent of other late sixteenth century chain links of c.1600. The central part of the principal element and the star link to the left are probably somewhat later, c.1630. The scrolls surrounding the central part and the link to the right of it were probably added at the same time as they both lack enamel on the reverse. The remaining two snake-links, the other star link and the border of the principal element are of a later date.

The earrings were created in the nineteenth century.

A 1909 inventory in the Royal Collection, to which the parure has been added at a later date, states that the parure was given by Mary, Queen of Scots to her attendant Mary Seton. Mary Seton was a devoted attendant and friend of Mary, Queen of Scots, who shared many years of her exile. She was an excellent hairdresser whose services the Queen greatly admired

The chain was originally longer; it was a cotiere - a long chain worn by women caught up in the breast. Mary Setonís descendant, Alexander Seton, 6th Earl of Eglinton (d.1661), removed four snake links and four S-ornaments from the chain on his succession to the earldom in 1612. The remaining sixteen snake links and sixteen white Sís set with rubies were passed to the Hon. Elizabeth Seton when she married William Hay of Drummelzier in 1694. The 1909 inventory states that this part of the chain was recorded in a Hay inventory in 1727.

The remainder of the jewels passed eventually to Alexander Setonís descendant, Archibald William, 13th Earl of Eglinton (1812-1861). In the nineteenth century, the eight links from the original chain removed by the 6th Earl - four snakes and four S-ornaments - were incorporated into the present Neo-Renaissance necklace. This may have been for the celebrated Eglinton Tournament, held by the 13th Earl at Eglinton Castle in 1839

The parure remained in the possession of the Eglinton family until it was sold, together with the Eglinton family jewels, by the three daughters of the 13th Earl, Egidia, Sybil and Hilda, in 1894 at Christieís on 22 February 1894 (lot 69). It was acquired by Algernon Borthwick, 1st Baron Glenesk (1830-1908) whose daughter, Lilias Countess Bathurst (d.1965), presented the parure to Queen Mary on the occasion of King George Vís Silver Jubilee in May 1935.

 

 

 

The Seton Brooch (part of a parure)

late 16th cent.

Brooch: enamelled gold, ruby, freshwater pearls

4.9 x 4.6 cm

The brooch is part of a parure together with a necklace and pair of earrings.

The brooch is of gold and white enamel composed as strapwork and set with four pearls and a central ruby in a box setting. The setting and ornament dates the brooch as c.1589-90 and is the oldest part of the parure.

A 1909 inventory in the Royal Collection, to which the parure has been added at a later date, states that it was given by Mary, Queen of Scots to her attendant Mary Seton. Mary Seton was a devoted attendant and friend of Mary, Queen of Scots, who shared many years of her exile. She was an excellent hairdresser whose services the Queen greatly admired

The jewels passed eventually to Alexander Setonís descendant, Archibald William, 13th Earl of Eglinton (1812-1861). This may have been for the celebrated Eglinton Tournament, held by the 13th Earl at Eglinton Castle in 1839

The parure remained in the possession of the Eglinton family until it was sold, together with the Eglinton family jewels, by the three daughters of the 13th Earl, Egidia, Sybil and Hilda, in 1894 at Christieís on 22 February 1894 (lot 69). It was acquired by Algernon Borthwick, 1st Baron Glenesk (1830-1908) whose daughter, Lilias Countess Bathurst (d.1965), presented the parure to Queen Mary on the occasion of King George Vís Silver Jubilee in May 1935.

 

 
Next section

The Palace of Holyroodhouse


The Seton Gallery,
Pinkie House
more >

Seton
Castle
more >

The Seton Gallery,
Fyvie Castle
more >
SUGGESTED LINKS
RCAHMS
Historic Scotland
The National Trust for Scotland
National Museums of Scotland 
Text Only News Media Centre How Do I...? Freedom of Information Children Recruitment Francais Gŗidhlig
Contact us Search Site map Links Subscribe Copyright About this site