Motto of Sir Alexander Seton, 1st Viscount of Kinston


Portrait of Sir Alexander Seton, 1st Viscount of Kingston, 1651.

Sir Alexander Seton, 1st Viscount of Kingston, Baron Stoneypath and Whittingehame

Sir Alexander Seton was the second son of George, 3rd Earl of Winton by his 1st wife Anne Hay. Born 13 March 1620, he was  knighted early in life at the age of twelve by the King on a state visit to the family home at Seton Palace, noted in Seton chronicles as follows:

This Sir Alexander Seton, in anno 1633 when King Charles I came to Seton, being then not 12 years of age, he welcomed the King with a Latin oration at the iron gate of Seton; where his Majesty sat in state, all the English nobility sitting round about him. The said Sir Alexander being attended with his schoolmaster, with a pedagogue, and other four Mailers of Art ; all grave learned men, cled in fine black cloth, and cloaks lined through with pan velvet ; the ground being covered a great way from the throne with carpet :

Where, after due reverence thrice made to his Majesty by the said Sir Alexander and his mailers, the said Sir Alexander did deliver his oration boldly, with a gesture suitable to the purpose, for which he had the applause of his Majesty, and all present; and, before he rose from his knees, his Majesty did him the honour to knight him, and said to him, " Now, Sir Alexander, see this does not spoil your school; by appearance, you will be a scholar." The said Sir Alexander boldly answered, " No, please your Majesty, it shall not."

He was well educated and continued his studies on the Continent, traveling extensively throughout France, Spain and Rome and returning home to Scotland in 1640.  He was not long to rest, when the religious troubles of the day forced him to flee to Flanders (Holland); returning 8 months later, only to find the persecution increasing.  He refused to sign The Covenant, for which he and his family members were excommunicated "by the mouth of Mr. Ballanquail" at Tranent Church, and they were forced to flee again, this time to France.

Nevertheless, upon return yet again he pursued a military career and with his father he was highly active in the support of the Stuart Monarchy's of both King's Charles I and II.  He became a primary dispatch in the service of the King personally, and of the Royal Court in exile, having continually carried State business and represented His Majesty, for which he was created a Cavalier; the first dignity Charles II conferred as King, "having not yet made a Knight", and created him Viscount of Kingston, which parish was part of his own paternal estate's in Dirleton near North Berwick.

As a Captain of the Royalist forces, he was the Commander of Tantallon Castle, and was responsible for the famous raids against Cromwell with his "moss-troopers" based in Tantallon In 1650, while Cromwell's forces were busily conquering Scotland, Tantallon was occupied by this small group of "moss-troopers" and headed by Captain Seton, and set to work attacking Cromwell's lines of communication across south east Scotland and were said to be more effective than all the regular troops in opposing Cromwell across all of Scotland combined.

Retaliation naturally followed in 1651, and General Monk with a force of 3000 was ordered to attack the castle using much of Cromwell's artillery in the country, which was needed to root out a garrison of fewer than 100. For 12 days the English guns bombarded Tantallon, until they finally breached the castle walls and overcame Captain Seton and his men, and only then garrison surrendered.

Portrait of Sir Alexander Seton, 1st Viscount of Kingston, 1651, at Duns Castle.A shortened simplified translation reads:  '....Captain Alexander Seton defended the same gallantly; but after the enemy cannon had opened a very large breach, and filled the dry ditch with the wall, he entered it by storm. The Captain and these few men (which) were with him, betook themselves to (the) tower, and resolved to sell their lives as good as they could, if quarter should (be) denayed them; but the enemy seeing them stand gallantly to it, prefered them quarters, which they excepted.' 

He later sat in Parliament as Lord Kingston, and in 1668 as Lord Kingston, was appointed personally by the King, Commander of the Haddington Militia.  His Estate was comprised, besides Craigiehall and Kingston (which included Fenton Tower), and which were life-rent estates, he also held the lands of Stoneypath and the barony's Stenton and that of Hailes, which the latter had obtained by a Royal Grant in March 1648.

The Estate and Barony of Hailes was passed from his uncle, Chancellor Seton, to his own father who purchased the Estate and was confirmed by Royal Charter and which was held in fee by his cousin of the Barnes family, Sir George Seton 'of Hailes'. He was well cared for with a pension in his old age, and retired to his estate of Whittingehame, dying on October 25th, 1691 and buried in the parish church of his estate.  His descent eventually sold Hailes, in 1700, to Sir David Dalrymple, Bt., Senator of the College of Justice.

Viscount Kingston was married 4 times: 1st to Jean Fletcher, daughter of Sir George Fletcher, 2nd (c1661) to Elizabeth Douglas (b c1636, d 1668), daughter of Sir Archibald Douglas of Whittinghame and who brought the estates of Whittingehame and Stoneypath; 3rd to Elizabeth Hamilton, daughter of John Hamilton, 1st Lord Belhaven; and 4th (03/4.08.1686) to Lady Margaret Douglas (b 09.1651, d 10.1699/12.10.1692), daughter of Archibald Douglas, Earl of Angus.

On the death of the 4th Earl of Winton, Viscount Kingston's heir Archibald Seton 2nd Viscount of Kingston, taking for granted that the young 5th Earl was dead, was proceeding to take possession of the title and estates of the Head of the Seton Family as the male-line successor, when the 5th Earl suddenly appeared and vindicated his rights.

Arms of the Viscounts of Kingston: Quarterly: 1st and 4th Or, three crescents within a double tressure flory counter-flory Gules (Seton) 2nd and 3rd Argent, a dragon Vert spouting fire Proper (Coat of Augmentation), Motto: Havet et Suam.



Arms of the Seton Viscounts of Kingston © The Seton Family 2005

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 Viscounts of Kingston

 Biographical Account
 Lineal Descent
 Tantallon Castle
 Siege of Tantallon
 Tantallon Illustration
 Old Yew Tree
 Stoneypath Tower