The Seton Family



Motto of Alexander Seton, 1st Earl of Dunfermline


Portrait of Charles Seton, 2nd Earl of Dunfermline by Sir Anthony van Dyke,1640. Click to view large.

Charles Seton, 2nd Earl of Dunfermline, Baron Fyvie and Lord Privy Seal

Charles was the only surviving son of Alexander Seton, the famed Chancellor of Scotland, Lord Fyvie and 1st Earl of Dunfermline and Margaret Hay, the 3rd wife of Chancellor Seton. His mother was the only daughter of James Hay, 7th Lord Yester, and her older brother John became 1st Earl of Tweeddale and who married Charles' older sister Lady Jean Seton from Chancellor Seton's 2nd marriage. 

Charles married Mary Douglas, daughter of William Douglas, 6th Earl of Morton, and by her had three sons and one daughter.  During his younger years he acted as a Gentleman of the Bedchamber under King Charles I, his majesty having been raised in Charles' household under King James VI and I.  Likewise, with the favour of the later King Charles I, then Duke of Albany, he was gifted with the revenues of the lordship of Dunfermline.  In 1637, the Bailiary and Justiciary of Dunfermline were conferred upon him by Royal Charter, and which was subsequently ratified by the Scottish parliament in 1641.

Contrary to the ecclesiastical traditions of his father, he was a zealous adherent of the Covenanting party, and was prominent in the contest for the rights of the Church and people of Scotland, and signed the National Covenant in 1638.  He also acted as Commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland which met at St. Andrew's in July, 1642.

He was repeatedly sent to England as one of the Commissioners of the Estates, and he commanded a regiment in the army which, under General Leslie, marched into England in 1640 to the assistance of the Parliament in their struggle with Charles I. He was one of the eight Scottish Commissioners who negotiated the treaty of Ripon.

In 1641 he was sworn a Privy Councillor, and he took an active part in the subsequent proceedings of that stirring period. He supported the ‘Engagement’ in 1648 for the rescue of Charles from the Republican party, and after the execution of the King he went to the Continent, in April, 1649, to wait on Charles II., with whom he returned to Scotland in 1650.

He was appointed a member of the Committee of Estates and of the Committee entrusted with the management of the affairs of the army. He commanded a regiment of horse in the ill-advised and unfortunate expedition into England under Charles II., which terminated in a complete defeat at Worcester, September 3rd, 1651.

At the Restoration he was again sworn a Privy Councillor, and in 1669 was appointed an Extraordinary Lord of Session. He was nominated Lord Privy Seal in 1671, which he held until he died at the Seton Palace in January, 1673, whereafter he was interred at his father's church of St. Bridget's at Dalgety.

His oldest son and namesake, Charles Seton, Lord Fyvie, was killed in a sea-fight with the Dutch in 1672, predeceasing his father and having not married and leaving no paternity, was succeeded by his brother.

Alexander Seton, the second son, became third Earl, but died soon after succeeding to the title, also with no heirs.

James Seton, the third and last son was the 4th and last Earl of Dunfermline.  He himself was a brilliant commander and estate manager who was highly respected.  Though he served in his youth under the Prince of Orange, at the Revolution he adhered to the cause of the Stewarts, and commanded a troop of horse under Viscount Dundee at the battle of Killiecrankie. In 1690 he was outlawed and forfeited by the Scottish Parliament. He accompanied King James to St. Germains, and died there in exile in 1694.  James had married a sister to the first Duke of Gordon, but as he left no issue his titles became extinct, and in consequence of his attainder his estates fell to the Crown.




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