The Seton Family



Next section

Heirs to the Earldom of Dunfermline - 'Zealous of Honour, Loyal unto Death'

Traditional note regarding the House of Seton

Ariel photo of Barnes Castle ruin, from 1594.The Seton's of Barnes, Hailes, 'of Moneylagan' in Ireland, Ireland and Nova Scotia

The 2nd Sir John Seton of Barnes, and 'of Moneylagan': Although Sir John succeeded his father in 1594, he was not served heir to him until 3rd October 1615, due to the alienation of the estate after his father's death. He was raised at Seton Palace, Winton and Pinkie House under the tutelage of his uncles, was a familiar of the young prince Charles Stuart who later became King Charles I.  Sir John was well traveled in France and Europe, he was bred to military service and to serve the Royal Household and succeeded his father when he came of age, 3rd October 1615. 

Using the benefits of his estate and his father's pension's from his wise uncles' management and assistance (Robert, Earl of Winton), was able to greatly expand his fortunes.  He is noted as a young man in the Funeral of Chancellor Seton in 1622, where he took his place in the retinue of the Seton household. Under the tutelage of his uncles, he rose to become a Gentleman of the Privy Chamber and officer of the Court of King Charles I, and was a noted companion of the Marquis of Montrose in 1646. 

According to Kingston although he was "gentleman of the Privy Chamber" to Charles I, he took no prominent part in public affairs, however in 1627 he was detailed along with his cousin the Earl of Winton to report on suitable sites for the location of bonfires in Haddingtonshire, to give notice of invasion. 

He a charter in 1628, noted in the Calendar of the patent and close rolls of chancery in Ireland: of the reign of King Charles I (1628), for the Seton Estate of MoneyLagan, or Balleleghan (Babington), Longford, Ireland; where the Babington's of England were long connected with the Knights Hospitaller's, or Templar's, for which connection were associated with the Seton's during the imprisonment of Queen Mary Stuart and the efforts to free her and which brought them into association in Longford, Ireland:

"In a chartulary relative to the lands of the Hospitallers in England there are numerous references to the joint preceptory of Yeaveley and Barrow between the years 1503 and 1526. In 1504 William Darel the preceptor leased all fruits, rents, appurtenances, tithes, oblations, and advowsons pertaining to the joint preceptory to Thomas Babington of Lea for three years subject to the annual payment to the prior of Tutbury... In 1509 Brother John Babington, preceptor of Yeaveley and Barrow, leased the preceptory to Thomas Babington of Lea and to Anthony Babington of Kingston (his son and heir) for one year. On 24 April, 1516, there was a renewal from John Babington as preceptor to his father Thomas Babington: and in 1522 to Edward Rhoche, preceptor of Temple Brewer, and to Humphrey Babington.  The Babington's seat was principally at Dethick, England until later events brought them to Ireland.  Their estate noted as: Dethick is a small chapelry in parish of Ashover (in the Deanery of Chesterfield), and the seat of the Babington family for a long period; Anthony Babington and The Babington Plot, a conspiracy 'against the life of Queen Elizabeth', and where the Manor House made up of part of the original seat of the Babington family; the family relocating to Ireland as a result, carrying on via their Templar connections."

In February 1630, Sir John complained to the Privy Council that he had been fined £100 by a Justice Court for carrying arms and shooting "ane litill foule callit the skttiwaikis (? Kittiwake)". The Council called for an explanation of this unreasonable sentence and the Justice Court stated that Sir John's offence was that he refused to be sworn. The Council duly ordered them to delete their decree.

With his increasing wealth, he acquired land in Ireland from Sir Robert Gordon of Lochinvar, the estate and castle of Monylagan (Mionylangain, Monilagan, Monalagan or Moneylagan), Clongesh Parish (Clonguish), in Co. Longford, in 1628 (worth 500 pounds Sterling a year) and is occasionally referred to as Sir John Seaton of Mionylangain, Longford.  He and his wife, "Lady Seaton", are noted in the papers of Sir Arthur Forbes, during the siege of Castle Forbes in Longford, Ireland in 1641-42. Later still, when he came of age, he also acquired the lands of St. Laurence House, in Haddington; hence his father's castle of Barnes was never completed.

During the fateful years from 1639 onwards Sir John was at Court in London, and frequently wrote to his kinsman the Earl of Eglinton about the increasing tension between King and Parliament. Kingston says that Sir John was engaged in and imprisoned and fined "for being with the Marquess of Montrose". The fact of Sir John having been concerned in the troubles between Charles I and the Scots Parliament is confirmed by Baillie, in his Letters; where he states that, when events were rapidly tending towards war in 1638, Sir John was asked If he would serve the King, and replied he would do so, but not against his own country, "where he had his life". Later, when Montrose took up arms for the King, Sir John Seton of Barnes joined him, and at the close of the campaign was imprisoned and fined 40,000 merks (£26,666) for the part he had taken.

The frontal wall and flank-towers of Barnes Castle.

Sir John Seton, 2nd of Barnes was thrice married; first to the daughter of the Baron Ogilvy of Poury, by whom he had a son Alexander, and three daughters; secondly to Lady Ann Fleming, daughter of the 6th Lord Fleming and by whom he had no issue; and thirdly to the daughter of Sir John Home of North Berwick and who by her had two son's and a daughter.

His eldest son and heir, Alexander, while travelling to the family estate in Ireland, met and married a daughter of the noble Irish family of O'Ferrall (also spelt Ophuall), of the family of Buoy, Lords of Annaly (where Longford was once called Annaly), much to his father's displeasure, and for a time settled in Ireland.  Alexander was later accused of assisting the "Ferrells" in Ireland in their struggles against the Crown and was imprisoned in Dublin, later transferred and imprisoned in the Edinburgh Tolbooth in Scotland.  Upon his return to Scotland, he was very quarrelsome and much at odds with his father, nearly bringing his father to disgrace, and who at one point had declared before the Court of the Privy Council at Edinburgh his wish for his son's imprisonment as a means to rehabilitate him. 

The Complaint and legal process by Sir John Seton of Barns against his son, Alexander Seton, for an assault on the House of Barns 'during the complainer's absence', is noted below.

From the Records of the Privy Council:

Complaint by Sir Thomas Hope of Craighall, his Majesty's Advocate, and Sir John Seatoun of Barns and Lilias Seatoun, his daughter, and factor for him in his absence, as follows :—Though the carrying of hagbuts and pistols is strictly prohibited, Alexander Seatoun, "the unnaturall sone of the said Sir Johne, having shaikin aff the feare of God and all respect to his said father, by his undewtifull cariage in everie particular he hes so disobliged him as ever anie sonne. And now, latelie, to crowne all his unnaturall miscariages, knowing that his said father wes out of the countrie, the said Alexander, accompanied with Daniel Currie, his servant, Johne and George Brouns, William Bald and William Stevinsoun in Hadintouu, boddin with swords and pistolls, came upon the 16 of July instant to the hous of Barns, entered within the same, cutted the chamber doore beside the upper hall with his sword,
and finding he could not gett entrie he layed a trayne of poulder and sent for broom and coales to have blowin the same up, discharged and shott his pistolls at the glasse windowes, and in this insolent maner behaved himselfe till the Earle of Wintoun came and removed him.

Quhilk is ane wicked and dangerous attempt and deserves exemplarie punishment." Charge having been given to the persons named, and Sir Thomas Hope and Lady Lilias Setoun compearing as pursuers, but none of the defenders compearing, the Lords after hearing witnesses find that the said Alexander Seatoun came to the said place of Barns, cut the said chamber door with an axe, laid powder to blow the same up and shot pistols at the doors and glass windows, and for this "verie great insolence" they ordain him to be charged to enter in ward within the tolbooth of Edinburgh within six days on pain of horning until further order be taken with him.

Supplication Supplication by Sir John Seatoun of Barns, as follows :—" This while bygane his sone Alexander Seaton hes made great bussines before the saids Lords and brought the supplicants name in hearing as ane unkynd father unto him, whereof he is verie sorie, his cariage having ever heretofore beene without challenge or hearing; and this day being appointed for his sonnes answer for what he sall lay to his charge, that it would please the saids Lords be informed that there wes no parent ever so kynd and duetifull to their children as the supplicant wes to his Sonne untill that aganis his will and the said Alexander his owne solemne oath he matched with the Ferrells of the Yrish brood in Ireland, and since that time he did thrise surprise tuo of the supplicants houses, affrighted his tennents, killed his cattell, medled with his houshold stuff and everything belonging to him in Ireland, himselfe being in this kingdom, so as he wes forced by order from the Lieutenent and justices there to caus committ him prissouner to the jayle of Dubline, and he wes releeved upon assurance of his better behaviour.

But shortlie thereafter he seazed of new upon the supplicants houses and lands so as he wes moved to sue him before the judges of assise, where he wes fyned and ordained never to be seene upon the supplicants land but to remove aff that kingdom. Since quhilk time not onelie hes his allya, the Ferrells in Ireland, seazed upon all his meanes there, declairing that all sould come to Ferrells barnes and that they had sent his sone thither to ding out his haras and possess the remainder of his estat heir by such freinds as he assured them would doe for him; but also his said sone hes accordinglie adventured to take his estat heir, brokin up his doores, preast to raise fire within his hous and to meddle with all that is there, as wes cleerelie provin; and to the supplicants farther disgrace, as if he wer a dyver, hes served inhibition upon him and send bodwords and threatenings to take his life."

He craves that the Lords would take notice hereof and cause his sone to re-enter again in prison until he be punished for "the insolence and extraordinarie ryot alreadie provin and find good cautioun under great soumes for his behaviour in
time comming." The parties having been heard on the 3rd instant, the Lords on that day deputed to certain of their number to bring about an agreement between parties, and John Halyburtoun, merchant burgess of Edinburgh, became cautioner for the said Alexander's appearance; and now parties being present and heard of new, the Lords ordain the said Alexander to re-enter to his ward within the tolbooth of Edinburgh until they are further advised in the matter.

Complaint by Alexander Seatoun, son to Sir John Seatoun of Barnes, as follows :—Upon a charge at the instance of his said father and Dame Lilias Seatoun, his sister, he has been warded in the tolbooth of Edinburgh till order be taken with him for his alleged breaking some doors of his father's house and shooting pistols thereat, out of which ward he ought to be released because this charge proceeded "upon the depositions of certane witnesses who wer servants for the time to his said sister, being partie at least to Sir James Ramsay, knight, now her husband and then in sute of her; and so could not in law be the ground of anie sentence aganis him." Moreover, the prosecution is only made to bring him into greater difficulty, either of horning through disobedience, whereby he will debar himself from the necessary and just action of maintenance he has raised against his father before their Lordships on Wednesday next, or of forcing him to relinquish that pursuit to his utter undoing. In the said action he must use his best diligence for the information of their Lordships and advise with his advocates, and, as he cannot do this while he is a prisoner, he is content to find caution to
underlie their Lordships' pleasure next Wednesday. Charge having been given to the said Dame Lilias Seatoun, and both pursuer and defender compearing personally and having been heard, the Lords, upon the pursuer finding caution in £1000 to appear upon the first Tuesday of November next and for the indemnity of his father, and his men, tenants and servants meanwhile, ordain the provost and bailies of Edinburgh to liberate him in so far as he is warded for the above cause.

24th Septem-
ber 1642,
ante meridiem.

Charge of the Magistrates of Edinburgh to release Alexander Seaton: -The Lords having heard Sir John Seaton of Barnes and Alexander Seaton, his son, regarding the "insolence committed be him within his fathers hous of Barns and other differences" between them, for which the latter is prisoner in the tolbooth of Edinburgh, ordain the provost and bailies of Edinburgh to put the said Alexander to liberty. He has solemnly sworn that he cannot find caution, but has bound himself for the indemnity of his ather and his household and servants and property, under penalty of being apprehended and warded and then punished in his person and otherwise at the discretion of the Council.

Much to his father's dismay, he predeceased his father without heirs as a result of illnesses incurred from his imprisonments, in 1642.  Likewise, Sir John Seton's 3rd son from his third marriage, Charles Seton, died a relatively young man, and he was succeeded by his only surviving son, George Seton, in the lands and representation of Barnes.

The Monilagan Estate, which included it's castle, or manor, was acquired by Sir John Seton during the reign of King James VI and I and maintained a Seton-possession through Charles I's reign.  Despite the Cromwell seizures in Ireland, the family maintained the deed to the estate as landowners, but eventually lost it to the Viscount Granard during the reign of Charles II.

Later notices for Monilagan (or Muine Lagáin) are as per:  October 20, 1769; John Beaty of Lismore, County Longford on the one part and George Beatty of Lismoy(sic), County of Longford and Thomas Carson of Craghorn in the County of Cavan on the other part; 60 acres in town of Lismore and 31 acres in town of Monilagan situated in the Manor of Monilagan, County Longford, also part of the Manor of Monilagan "called lower Cluneagh upper Cluneagh lower Clumemecart upper Clunemecar Killnashee lower north Bawnquilly upper or south Bawnquilly containing six hundred and fifty six acres" for the remainder of John Beatty's lease of the premises. Deed void if John Beatty shall pay to George Beatty and Thomas Carson 500 pounds sterling by May 1, 1770. Witnesses: Thomas Bond of Newtownflood, Longford Co. and John Jones of the town of Longford, Longford County.

Lord Kingston says of Sir John Seton, that he was: "imprisoned and fyned for being with "the Marquess of Montrose". The fact that Sir John Seton was concerned in the troubles between Charles I and the Scots Parliament, is confirmed by Baillie, in his Letters, where he states, "...when events were rapidly tending towards war in 1638, Sir John was asked If he would serve the King, and replied he would do so, but not against his own country, "where he had "his life"."


Pension Granted by King Charles I to Sir John Seton of Barnes II, 1641/8/330

Ratificatione to Sir Johne Seatone
Oure soverane lord, with advyse and consent of the estates of this present parliament, hes ratified and approvine and, be thir presentes, ratifies and approves the lettir of gifte granted be his majestie wnder his hienes privie seale, of the dait the [...] day of [...] jM vjC tuentie and eighte yeeres, to his hienes lovit and trustie servant Sir Johne Seatoune, knycht, dureing his lyftyme, off all and haill ane yeerlie pensione of tuo hundreth pund sterling money to be uplifted be him furth of the reddieste of his hienes rentes and casualities of this kingdome from his majesties thesaureres and receiveres; togidder with ane wther lettir of gifte past wnder the privie seale and granted be his majestie of the dait the tuelffe day of November jM vjC fourtie ane in favoures of the said Sir Johne Seatoune, ratifieing and approveing the gifte of pensione abovewrittin and of newe giveing and granting to the said Sir Johne dureing his said lyftyme the said yeerlie pensione of tuo hundreth pund sterling to be wplifted furth of his majesties rentes and casualities as said is yeerlie at the feestes of Candellmes and Lambes be equall portiones, the first termes payment therof beginand at Candellmes nixtocome, as the saidis tuo lettirs of gifte more fullie proportes, in all and sindrie the heeds, articles and clauss of the samene lettires of gifte respective; declaireing heerby that this present ratificatione is and shall be alse valied and sufficient to the said Sir Johne for receiveing and wplifting the said pensione dureing his said lyftyme as if the saidis giftes were herein at lenth de verbo in verbum mentioned and conteaned, notwithstanding the samene are not ingrossit and insert heerintill, anent the whilke, and all faultes and imperfectiones of the saidis giftes or that any wayes may be objected againes the same, his majestie, for his hienes and his successoures, hes dispensit and, be thir presentes, with advys and consent of the saidis estates of parliament, dispenses for now and evir.

Sir John Seton, 2nd of Barnes died in 1662, where his Testament is dated of the same year, and he was succeeded by his second son, George Seton, from his 3rd marriage to Lady Anna Hume, (or Home, contract dated 19.09.1625.), eldest daughter of Sir John Hume of North Berwick, Knt, later of Tully Castle Fermanagh, Ireland.  His third son Charles died shortly after his father also in 1662, not having married and sp., his sister Lady Jean Seton being his sole executor and heiress.

This appears from the testament testamentary and inventory of the goods, etc., that pertained to the deceased ' Charles Seattoune, son to the late Sir John Seattoune of Barnes, Knight, who died in the month of j m vj c three score, etc., years,' given up by himself on the 4th May 1660 as to nomination of his executrix, etc., and given up partly by Jane Seattoune, spouse to John Hay of Aberlady, whom he nominates his only executrix.

Amount of debt owing to the deceased, ^6666, 13s. 4d., which sum was owing to him by ' George Seattoune, now of Barnes.' The testator nominates the foresaid Jeane Seattoune, spouse to John Hay, his only heir, executrix, and universal legator of his goods, gear, etc., to dispone at her pleasure to any two of her children ' gotten betwixt the said John of Aberlady and the said Jeanne Seattoune, sister of the testator, whatever fell to him by portion from his deceased father, Sir John Seattoune of Barnes, or may fall.' The 'abulziements of his bodie ' he leaves to her in like manner. Confirmed 28th June 1661, William Hay, merchant burgess of Edinburgh, being cautioner.


Arms of Vice Admiral James Seton Rep. Earl of Dunfermline © The Seton Family 2011


The Seton Portraits
more >
The Seton Archives
more >
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 Gàidhlig
Contact us Search Site map Links Subscribe Copyright About this site


Arms of George, 7th Lord Seton.

Vice Admiral James Seton of Barnes, Gov. of St. Vincent

  1st Earl of Dunfermline
 2nd Earl of Dunfermline
 George, 7th Lord Seton
  Lords Seton Descent
  The Barnes Descent
  History of Barnes
  Barnes Castle
  Barnes Ruin Tour
  Hailes Castle
  Moneylagan Estate
  Pluscarden Ratification
  Dunfermline Ratification

Notices of the Seton of Barnes and of Hailes

  Seeton of Nova Scotia
  Kenneth Seton