The heirs of David, Earl of Strathearn (d. before 1389)

by William Addams Reitwiesner

Early in the reign of King Charles I, William Graham, 7th Earl of Menteith, "having by his talents and eminent services to the State attained a position of commanding influence and power, resolved to reclaim the Earldom of Strathern, of which his progenitor, Malise Graham, first Earl of Menteith, had been unjustly deprived by King James I ... " [Scots Peerage I:133]. The descent is as follows:

     Robert II, King of Scots (d. 1390) m2. 1355 Euphemia of Ross

     David Earl of Strathearn (d. before 1389) m. --- Lindsay

     Euphemia Countess of Strathearn m. Patrick Graham (d. 1413)

     Malise Graham 1st Earl of Menteith (d. by 1490) m. Janet de Rochford

     Patrick Graham m. Isobel Erskine

     Alexander Graham 2nd Earl of Menteith (d. 1537) m. Margaret Buchanan

     William Graham 3rd Earl of Menteith (d. 1544) m. Margaret Moubray

     John Graham 4th Earl of Menteith (d. 1565) m. Marion Seton

     William Graham 5th Earl of Menteith (d. 1578) m. Margaret Douglas

     John Graham 6th Earl of Menteith (d. 1598) m. Mary Campbell

     William Graham 7th Earl of Menteith (d. 1661)

On 25 May 1630, William Graham, 7th Earl of Menteith, was served heir of line to Earl David and Euphemia, Countess of Strathearn, and on 31 July 1631, by Royal Charter, he was confirmed in the dignity of Earl of Strathearn.

As is normal when someone gains power, the Earl had accumulated a number of political enemies. His assumption of this older title, combined with his own misjudgement, allowed his enemies an opportunity. To explain this, we must first examine the reasons for, and some of the consequences of, a 1371 Act of the Edinburgh Parliament.

On 22 February 1371, David II, King of Scots, died, and his nephew, Robert Stewart, High Stewart of Scotland, succeeded as King Robert II. The new King Robert II had married twice, first to Elizabeth Mure, and second to Euphemia of Ross, and had a number of sons and daughters by each wife. In each case, Robert had received a Papal dispensation for his marriage (for the first marriage the dispensation was from Pope Clement VI and was dated 22 November 1347, for the second marriage the dispensation was from Pope Innocent VI and was dated 2 May 1355).

There was a problem, though. The dispensation for Robert's first marriage was not granted until after all of the children by that marriage were born. This meant that there could be some question about the legitimacy of the children by this marriage, and consequently the ability of the children of this marriage to succeed to the Throne.

The Edinburgh Parliament settled this question by passing an Act, on 27 March 1371 [Acta Parl. Scot., i. 549], which left the Throne to:

      1. The King's oldest son, John, Earl of Carrick, 
         and the heirs male of his body.

      The King's second son, Walter, Earl of Fife (j.u.) had 
          already died without issue.

      2. The King's third son, Robert, Earl of Menteith,
         and the heirs male of his body.

      3. The King's fourth son Alexander, Earl of Buchan,
         and the heirs male of his body.

      4. The King's fifth son David, Earl of Strathearn,
         and the heirs male of his body.

      5. The King's sixth son Walter, Earl of Atholl,
         and the heirs male of his body.

      6. Upon the extinction of these, the throne was to pass 
         to the heir whomsoever of the King.

The oldest four sons (John, the older Walter, Robert and Alexander) were the King's sons by Elizabeth Mure, and the youngest two sons (David and the younger Walter) were the King's sons by Euphemia of Ross. When King Robert II died on 19 April 1390, he was succeeded under the terms of the 1371 Act by his oldest son John, Earl of Carrick, who took the regnal name Robert III.

For the next century and a half, the Scottish Throne was held by the heirs male of the body of John/Robert III. During that time, the heirs male of the body of Robert Stewart, Earl of Menteith and later Duke of Albany, had presumably become extinct in 1451 (the question of the legitimacy of his great-grandson, Walter Stewart of Morphie, is not discussed here, officially Walter Stewart of Morphie was illegitimate); Alexander Stewart, Earl of Buchan, died without legitimate sons around 1405; David Stewart, Earl of Strathearn, died without sons by 1389; and the heirs male of the body of Walter Stewart, Earl of Atholl, became extinct in 1437.

King James V, the last heir male of the body of John/Robert III, died in 1542 and was succeeded on the Throne by his infant daughter Mary, Queen of Scots. If James V's cousin, John Stewart, Duke of Albany (d. 1536), had lived a few more years, then Duke John would have succeeded to the Throne (as heir male of the body of John/Robert III), rather than Mary (as heir whomsoever of Robert II). Mary, Queen of Scots, is the ancestor of all succeeding Monarchs of Scotland.

It was Mary's grandson, King Charles I, who on 31 July 1631 granted the Royal Charter which confirmed William Graham, 7th Earl of Menteith, in the dignity of Earl of Strathearn, as the heir of line of David Stewart, Earl of Strathearn, oldest son of King Robert II by his second wife, Euphemia of Ross.

At around this time (the early 1630s), the legitimacy of Robert II's children by his first wife Elizabeth Mure was a matter of controversy. One possible consequence of their illegitimacy would be in regards to the succession to the Scottish Throne under the terms of the 1371 Act. After the various sons of Robert II and the respective heirs male of their bodies, the Throne was to pass to the "heir whomsoever" of King Robert II. Could illegitimate children, and descendants of illegitimate children, qualify as an "heir whomsoever"? The eventual answer is that, yes, they can, under certain circumstances. These circumstances are that the parents eventually marry, that the parents had no impediment to their marriage (such as being married to someone else) at the time of the birth of the child, and that both parents are domiciled in Scotland. For some later examples of this doctrine at work, see the 1910 decision in regards to the succession to the Macdonald Baronetcy [S. 1625], and the 1885 decision in regards to the succession to the Lauderdale peerage.

The issue of King Robert II by Elizabeth Mure also conform to these circumstances, so the succession of Mary to the Scottish Throne in 1542 as heir whomsoever of King Robert II would eventually be accepted as established. However, in the early 1630s, this doctrine was not fully settled, which means that there was some question at that time as to whether Mary's succession in 1542 was correct. If the children of King Robert II by his first marriage, and the descendants of these children, were ineligible to be considered his "heir whomsoever" on the grounds of their illegitimacy, and they and their descendants were to be barred from succeeding to the Throne on these grounds, then the heir whomsoever of King Robert II, and, under the terms of the 1371 Act the rightful heir to the Scottish Throne after the extinction of the male-line issue of the sons of King Robert II, must be found among the descendants of the second marriage of King Robert II. This person was the Earl of Menteith. In the early 1630s the then Earl of Menteith was powerful and ambitious and had been served as heir of line to David Earl of Strathearn (the oldest son of the second marriage of King Robert II) and confirmed by Royal Charter in the dignity of Earl of Strathearn [Complete Peerage VIII:673 (g)].

The Earl didn't make it any easier on himself, as he boasted in the presence of witnesses that he had the reddest blood in Scotland and that the King was obligated to him for his throne. Because of this, "King Charles was made to feel that he had acted rashly and imprudently in countenancing Menteith's claim, and severe if not oppressive measures were taken to undo what been done, and to destroy for ever any appearance of pretension on Menteith's part to Royal descent from the Earl of Strathern. His retours of service as heir of line of Prince David and Countess Euphemia were illegally annulled, his patent was cancelled, and he was compelled to accept a new title which should extinguish that of Strathern and make even Menteith a secondary dignity. This was the origin of the Earldom of Airth, the creation of which marked the fall of the former royal favourite" [Scots Peerage I:135].

The charter and the retour were both reduced by the Court of Session on 22 March 1633, and the patent of the Earldom of Airth is dated 21 January 1633 and passed the Great Seal on 28 March 1633.

The Earl of Airth and Menteith was succeeded in his peerages by his grandson, who died without issue in 1694. Because of some convoluted and imprecise language in the 1633 patent, the devolution of the Airth and Menteith peerages after 1694 (the extinction of the heirs male of the body of the 1633 grantee) has never been clear. See, for example, Sir Harris Nicolas, History of the Earldoms of Strathern, Monteith, and Airth [1842]. A number of claims to some or all of these peerages have been made over the years by persons who were, or who claimed to be, the heir male whatsoever, the heir of line, and so on, but to date none of these claims have been successful.

The second Earl of Airth and Menteith had two sisters, Lady Mary and Lady Elizabeth, and their seniority has never been established. Nevertheless, the last descendant of Lady Elizabeth died in 1821, so the seniority of the two sisters is no longer relevant. The heir of line of Prince David, Earl of Strathearn, and the heir of the second marriage of King Robert II, can be found among the descendants of Lady Mary, as follows:

      William Graham 7th Earl of Menteith and 1st Earl of Airth 
         (see above, d. 1661) m. Agnes Grey

      John Graham, Lord Kilpont (d. 1644) m. Lady Mary Keith

      Lady Mary Graham m. Sir John Allardice of Allardice (d. 1676)

      Sir George Allardice of Allardice (d. 1709) m. Lady Anna Ogilvy

      James Allardice of Allardice (d. 1728) m. Mary Milne

      James Allardice of Allardice (d. 1765) m. Ann Barclay

      Sarah Ann Allardice (d. 1833)

The descendants of Sarah Ann Allardice can be found here.


The following is the text of the Act, as printed in The Acts of the parliaments of Scotland, vol. 1 [1844], p. 549. The printed version has a number of contractions which can't be rendered, easily, in the character set used on this webpage. I've tried to expand as many of the contractions as I can, to the best of my abilities.



In nomine dominii Amen. Anno ab incarnacõe eiusdem millesimo trecentesimo Septuagesimo Tercio et regni regis Roberti secundi anno tercio mensis Aprilis die quarto Prefatus Rex Robertus tenens parlamentum suum apud Sconam volensque ac cupiens incertitudinem successionis ac mala et dampna &qtilde; ex successione femellaru heredum in plerisq regnis et partibus contingunt et contigerunt retroactis t˜ribus vitare pro posse et eis pro se et suis maxime futuris temporibus obuiare ex deliberato consilio et cum consensu et assensu Prelatorum comitu et baronu ceterorumque, procerum et nobilium ac oim aliorum de tribus statibus siue comunitatibus tocius regni congregatorum ibidem declarauit ordinauit et statuit qui filij ipsius regis ex sua prima et secunda vxore nunc geniti et eorum heredes masculi dumtaxat succecciue succedent ipsi regi in regnum et in ius regnandi per modum infrascriptium et sub forma et condcõibus infrasciptus vus que dominis Johannes primogenitus ipsius Regis comes de Carrik ac Senescallus Scocie pro cuius successionis iure in parlamento immediate precedente plene fuat declaratum et heredes sui mascti dumtaxat post mortem ipsius sibi in regnum et in ius regnandi succedent ac ipsis domino Johanne et heredibus suis masculis deficientibus forsitan quod absit dominis Robertus comes de fyff et de meneteth filius ipsius dominii regis ex prima vxore secundo genitus et heredes sui masculi dumtaxat in regnum et in ius regnandi successiue et imediate succedent et ipsis domino Roberto et heredibus suis huiusmodi deficientibus eciam fortasse quod absit dominis Alexander dominis de Badenach filius ipsius domini regis ex eadem vxore tercio genitus et heredes sui masculi tantum in regnum et in ius regnandi post mortem ipsorum simili modo successiue et immediate succedent Ipsis vero domino Alexandro et heredibus suis prefatis simitr forsitan quod absit deficientibus dominis Dauid comes de Strathne filius ipsius domini Regis ex secunda uxore genitus et heredes sui tantumodo masculi eisdem sic deficientibus ex toto in regnum et in ius regnandi simitr successiue et imediate succedent Ipso vero domino Dauid et heredibus suis pred&ctilde;is simitr forte deficientibus Walterus filius ipsius domini Regis frater germanus ipsius domini Dauid et heredes ipsius dumtaxit masculi in regnu et in ius regnandi simili modo succedent Predictis autem quinq fratribus et eorum heredibus masculis ab ipsis descendentibus deficientibus forsitan finaliter et ex toto quod absit veri et legitimi heredes de sanguine et parentela regali ex tunc in antea in regnum et in ius regnandi succedent. Quibus sic statutis ordinatis declaratis et actis omnes prelati comites et barones ac alij de tribus statibus siue comunitatibus tocius parlamento ibidem propter hec et alia congregati pfatas declaracoem ordinacoem et statutum ratificauerunt et approbauerunt pro se et suis heredibus perpetuis futuris tpribus duratur. Et nichilominus infrascripti prelati viz domini Willelmis Scoti andree Michael dunkelden Alexander Aberdonen Patricius Brechinen Alexander Morauien Andreas Dunblanen Alexander Rossen et Malcomus Catanen ecclesiarum episcopi pontibus et aperte sacroscis dei euuangelijs ac infrascripti comites barones et nobiles Primo viz ipsi filij regis seniores et prouecte etatis domini scilicet Johannes Robertus et Alexander necdon domini Willelmis de Douglas Georgius de Dunbarr Marchie Johannes de Dunbarr Morauie Comites Thomas de Haya constabularis scocie domini Willelmis de Keith Marescallus scocie Jacobus de Lyndesay dominis de Crauforde Archebaldus de Douglas dominis Galwidie Jacobus de Douglas dominis de Dalketh Robertus de Erskyn / Hugo de Eglyngton / Duncanus Walays Dauid de Grame Walterus de halyburton Willelmus de Disschyngton / Alanus de Erskyn Alanus senescalii Jacobus fraser / Alexander fraser / Robertus Senescalli de Inumeth Rogerus de Mortuomari Dauid filius Walteri Patricius de Grahame Andreas de Valonijs / Johnes Walays Johannes de Maxwell / Andreas Cambell Willelmus de Conynghame filius et Johannes de Strathachyn milites Johannes Kenedy et Alexander de Cocburne scutiferi eisdem sacrosanctis euuangelijs per eorum quemlibet manutactis corporaliter iurauerunt que pfatas declaracoes ordinacoes et statua pro se et pro eoz heredibus inuiolablr obsuabunt et ab alijs pro viribus perpetuo facient obscuari. Consequent vero et immediate tota multitudine cleri et populi in ecclesia de Scona ante magnum altare propter hoc specialit conuocata ac pfate declaracoe ordinacoe et statuo sic iuratis alta et publica voce eis expositis / quilibet leuata manu per modum fidei dacois in signum vniusalis consensus tocius cleri et populi exprimebat et manifestabat publice suum consensum parit et assensum. . In quod oim testimonium psatus dominis Rex pnti scripto fiue instro suum magnum perceptit apponi sigillu Et ad maiorem euidenciam et securitate plenioirem omnis epi comites / Barones et nobiles supradici eidem instrumento sua sigilla fecunt apponi gracia testimonij et ad perpetuam memoriam futuroz. Acta fuerunt hec apod Sconam in pleno parlamento domini Regis predicti Anno mense et die supius annotatis. .

William Addams Reitwiesner