'The history of great men is no less useful than their presence'
From Monument in Seton Collegiate Church


The Setons and the Battle of Brechin, 1452, by Andrew Spratt.

"And the Setons were ever a great house, zealous of honour, loyal unto death." 

The interests of dedicated professional genealogists and the enthusiasm of amateur family historians should not be denigrated merely because they have been known occasionally to lead to eccentric passions and careless misjudgements. The pursuit of a specific family's past and in preserving the knowledge of the stories related to them, can contribute much to the general understanding of life in other centuries and ought to be encouraged as early as possible.

Obviously, amid the contemporary deconstruction of the traditional family unit it is necessary to introduce the subject to children with a measure of sensitivity, and at times it may rightly be considered improper, but at some stage all humans have to recognise they are the product of their forebears, even if these forebears must remain individually anonymous.  By preserving the stories of our forebears, we not only give them life, but we enrich ourselves as to the knowledge of their characters, and thereupon benefit from their examples.

George, 7th Lord Seton, concerned for the memory of his family's origins, asked his nephew, Sir Richard Maitland of Lethington, to "collect, gadder and set furth the historie and cronicle of his hous and surname, quhilk has been verray ancient and honorable." A copy of Lethington's manuscript, annotated by George Seton, 4th Earl of Winton, includes a memorable preamble. It is divided here into two parts, the first of which is the more famous. The second is a pedagogic counsel that reads pompously to twentieth-century eyes, yet it is not without a naïve charm, and reflects much of what some great houses truly believed.

An example by the writer, Sir Walter Scott, in "The Abbott":

This door, which Roland Graeme instantly approached, opened on a large and well-lighted gallery, at the upper end of which he could hear several voices, and the noise of hasty steps approaching towards the hall or vestibule.  A little recalled to sober thought by an appearance of serious danger, he was deliberating whether he should stand fast or retire, when Catherine Seyton re-entered from a side door, running towards him with as much speed as a few minutes since she had fled from him.

“Oh, what mischief brought you hither?” she said; “fly—­fly, or you are a dead man,—­or stay—­they come—­flight is impossible—­say you came to ask for Lord Seyton.” She sprung from him and disappeared through the door by which she had made her second appearance; and, at the same instant, a pair of large folding-doors at the upper end of the gallery flew open with vehemence, and six or seven young gentlemen, richly dressed, pressed forward into the apartment, having, for the greater part, their swords drawn.

“Who is it,” said one, “dare intrude on us in our own mansion?”.  “Cut him to pieces,” said another; “let him pay for this day’s insolence and violence—­he is some follower of the Rothes.”.  “No, by Saint Mary,” said another; “he is a follower of the arch-fiend and ennobled clown Halbert Glendinning, who takes the style of Avenel—­once a church-vassal, now a pillager of the church.”.  “It is so,” said a fourth; “I know him by the holly-sprig, which is their cognizance.  Secure the door, he must answer for this insolence.”

Two of the gallants, hastily drawing their weapons, passed on to the door by which Roland had entered the hall, and stationed themselves there as if to prevent his escape.  The others advanced on Graeme, who had just sense enough to perceive that any attempt at resistance would be alike fruitless and imprudent.  At once, and by various voices, none of which sounded amicably, the page was required to say who he was, whence he came, his name, his errand, and who sent him hither.  The number of the questions demanded of him at once, afforded a momentary apology for his remaining silent, and ere that brief truce had elapsed, a personage entered the hall, at whose appearance those who had gathered fiercely around Roland, fell back with respect..."My Lord Seyton"...


Historical Writings of the Seton Family:

The 7th Lord Seton in Flanders

Alchemy and the Setons

Baillie David Seton of Tranent

Preston Tower and the Seton's

Robert the Bruce and Sir Christopher Seton


Lothian Seton's and the Post-Robbing Story

Lt-Colonel Alexander Seton of Mounie

James Seton of Barnes and the Caribs revolt

Sir Henry Seton-Karr of Kippilaw

Edinburgh, the Lothians and the Seton Country






The Seton Portraits
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