Orders of Chivalry


The Service of the Earl of Eglinton as Heir-Male General, and Heir-Male of Provision to George, the Fourth Earl of Winton, Lord Seton, and Tranent.

Hugh Montgomerie, 12th Earl of Eglinton.In 1840 the Earl of Eglinton was served “nearest and lawful heir male general, and also nearest and lawful heir male of provision to George, fourth earl of Wintoun,” the eleventh Lord Seton, and also Lord Tranent. This service took place before the sheriff of Edinburgh, and a distinguished jury, composed of members of the peerage, several of the judges of the court of session, and of baronets and gentlemen eminently qualified for legal and genealogical investigation.

The evidence laid before the jury was prepared in the same strict and elaborately comprehensive manner as if it had been necessary to submit it to the scrutiny of a Committee of Privileges in the House of Lords. Lord Eglinton produced the most ample and satisfactory proof, not only of his own propinquity, and of the extinction of all who were entitled to succeed before him, but also of the extinction of every collateral male descendant, remote as well as immediate, of any of the parties who could in any way have laid claim to the honours preferably to his lordship. A printed abstract of the whole of the documentary evidence, which was of great length, was, along with a detailed genealogical table, laid before the jury, who thus judicially ascertained his right to the male representation of the house of Wintoun, Seton and Tranent, and the other honours which were so long held by that noble family.

Although Lord Eglinton derives his descent in the Montgomerie line from ancestors of Norman origin, and through names distinguished in the battles of Hastings and of Otterburn, and by virtue of that descent enjoys the Eglinton honours and estates, -- in lineal male descent from a period equally remote, and through a line of loyal and patriotic ancestors, his family name is also that of Seton, and he is the head of the numerous noble and eminent families who claim to be descended from the Setons in the male line.

The Wintoun honours, destined in the first instance to heirs male, were forfeited by the fifth Earl, in consequence of being engaged in the rebellion of 1715. This attainder had the effect of forfeiting absolutely the estates to the crown. But, as settled by the judgment of the House of Lords, in the case of Gordon of Park, adjudged by Lord Hardwicke, and recognized in many subsequent cases, the right to the honours was only in abeyance during the existence of the attainted Earl, and the heirs entitled to succeed under the same substitution with himself. Accordingly, the right to the honours, which was merely suspended for a time, revived in the collateral branch of Eglinton, in consequence of the failure of all the prior branches in the direct Winton line.

The representation of the family of Winton devolved upon the Earl of Eglinton in consequence of the marriage in 1582 of Robert the first Earl of Winton with Lady Margaret Montgomerie, eldest daughter of Hugh third Earl of Eglinton. Of that marriage the third son, Sir Alexander Seton of Foulstrouther, was adopted into the family, -- became sixth Earl of Eglinton, and in 1615 obtained royal grants and confirmations of the estates and honours of Montgomerie. The present Earl of Eglinton is the heir male of the body of this Sir Alexander Seton, afterwards Earl of Eglinton, and in consequence of the failure of the direct Winton line by the death of Robert the eldest brother without issue, and of all the male descendants of George the next or immediate elder brother of Sir Alexander, Lord Eglinton is also the lineal male representative of the family of Seton.

The origins of the Montgomeries began with Roger de Montgomery, Earl of Shrewsbury (d. 1094), one of William the Conqueror’s followers, and though this won't bear examination, the sure pedigree of the family begins later with Sir John Montgomerie, Lord of Eaglesham, who fought at the Battle of Otterbourne in 1388 and died about 1398.

His grandson, Sir Alexander Montgomerie (d. circa 1460), was made a Lord of the Scottish parliament about 1445 as Lord Montgomerie, and Sir Alexander’s great-grandson Hugh, the 3rd Lord (c. 1460-1545), was created 1st Earl of Eglinton, or Eglintoun, in 1508.  The 3rd Earl of Eglinton was a firm supporter of Mary queen of Scots for whom he fought at Langside, and in 1612, by the death of Hugh, the 5th Earl, the direct male line of the Montgomeries became extinct. 

Eglinton Castle, by J. Fleming.Having no children Earl Hugh had settled his title and estates on his cousin, Sir Alexander Seton of Foulstruther (commonly called Greysteel, 1588-1661), a younger son of Robert Seton, 1st Earl of Winton (c. 1550-1603), and his wife Margaret, daughter of the 3rd Earl of Eglinton. 

This succession was not without contention, and King James VI personally intervened and objected.  It was only through the negotiation and the influence of Alexander Seton, 1st Earl of Dunfermline and Chancellor of Scotland, and the Earl of Winton that Alexander Seton of Foulstruther was able to become the 6th Earl of Eglinton. 

However, the arrangement precluded that he and his heirs take the name of Montgomerie for that family line to continue, never again to be called "Seton". 

Sir Alexander became a prominent Covenanter and fought against Charles I at Marston Moor, creating for sometime, enmity between his family and that of the Seton's of the Winton line.

Archibald William, the 13th Earl was born at Palermo in the 29th of September 1812.  He was a staunch Tory, and in February 1852 he became Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland.  With the death of George Seton of Bellingham and his legal claim to the Winton Honours gone, in 1859 Eglinton successfully petitioned Her Majesty Queen Victoria as heir-male to the Seton's Winton Honours.

Within the same year, his claim was recognized and he was created 1st Earl of Winton within the United Kingdom as a new creation. The Earldom which had been held by his kinsfolk, the Setons, was within the Scottish Peerage and which had ended with the forfeiture of George Seton, 5th Earl of Winton. 

The Earls of Eglinton continued the Seton's Templarist traditions, later continued in Freemasonry, and were Grand Masters of the Grand Lodge in Scotland (and the Order of the Temple).  Alexander Montgomerie, 10th Earl of Eglinton, was Knight of the Red Feather in the 18th century and who passed the Ceremonial Sword onto Lord Kilmarnock, and was Grand Master of the Grand Lodge following shortly after Hugh Seton of Touch, in 1750-51.  Archibald Seton Montgomerie, 16th Earl of Eglinton and 4th Earl of Winton was Grand Master in 1920-21, and Archibald Montgomerie, 17th Earl of Eglinton and 5th Earl of Winton was Grand Master from 1957 to 1961.

The present head of the family is Archibald George Montgomerie, 18th Earl of Eglinton and 6th Earl of Winton (UK).


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