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The Scottish Baronies of Fulwood & Dirleton

The Lordship & Barony of Dirleton History

The Barony of Fulwood History

The Barony of Fulwood (Feulwood) can be traced back to the 14th century and it’s mentioned several times in The Great Seal of Scotland. Fulwood is situated about 5 miles west of Glasgow Airport in the parish of Houston and Killalan. The surrounding area is fertile and rich farming land. The Statistical Account of 1791 mentions Fulwood: "about 40 years ago there were 16 farms in the Barony of Fulwood, there are only eight at present. At that time the yearly rent of that estate was little above 3,000 merks and when lately sold, the rental, by improvement of the land, was 700 Pounds Sterling". The Account also states that, whilst rents had been six or seven shillings and acre forty years ago, "there is now none of it below twenty shillings". It was part of the lands of the Flemings, Earls of Wigtown (or Wigtoun). The first of this line, sir Malcolm Fleming was created Earl in 1341. He was one of the few to escape death at the battle of Halidon Hill near Berwick, on 19 July 1333. The English had invested Berwick and during the battle seven Scottish Earls were slain on the spot, along with 900 knights, 1,400 gentlemen, and 15,000 common soldiers. The castle at Berwick was defended by Sir A Seton, but was surrendered the next day. King Edward III annexed Berwick forever to the Crown of England.

As a result of the defeat, King David II fled to France. He was assisted by sir Malcolm and he, for this service, was created Earl, with remainder to the heirs male of his body. King David returned to Scotland in 1341 but was taken captive in 1346 at the battle of Nevill’s Cross-, near Durham. Here the Scots again suffered heavy losses of over 20,000 men to an English army commanded by Queen Phillipa and the Archbishop of York. Malcolm, Earl of Winton, was also captured and imprisoned in the Tower of London. He was relapsed with King David for the ransom of 100,000 marks, only three-quarters of which was paid.

The repercussions of this were to be felt in Scotland for a long time. The cost of the ransom led to the Scottish parliament establishing checks on the actions of the King. Malcolm, Earl of Winton, died in 1365 having married the foster-sister of King David II. He was succeeded by his grandson, Thomas, to whom the first grant of Fulwood (Foulwood) was made. In a charter of 1374, he was styled "Thomas Flemynge Wigton, he later transferred it to  Archibald Douglas, later 3rd Earl of Douglas, for a "notable" sum of money, he died without heir after 1382.

The Barony then passed to the Semple family, who held the title in the 15th century. They transfered it to John Porterfield in 1679, who passed it to his son,. Alexander, the following year. The title was re-confirmed by a charter granted by Charles II, dated 10 February 1688. The title passed to his grandson, also Alexander, who transfered it in 1774 to John McDowall. He then transfered the Barony of Fulwood to Alexander Speirs in 1777. Alexander Speirs was a prominent and wealthy tobacco merchant. He, along with a few other merchants in Glasgow, handled almost all of the tobacco trade in Britain and, indeed, Europe. In an official return of 1772, his name topped the list of 46 tobacco merchants, and he was handling one-eighth of the total tobacco entering Glasgow and one-fifteenth of the total entering Britain.

He acquired many estates in Renfrewshire and was granted, by Crown Charter, in 1770 the Barony of Elderslie . He resided at the finest house in Glasgow of its day, Virginia Mansion. It stood at the top of Virginia Street, which still exists in Glasgow. He married, firstly, in 1746 in Virginia, Sarah Carey, who died in 1752 without producing children. He married his second wife, Mary, daughter of Peter Buchanan of Silverbank, in 1755. He had by her four sons, the eldest of whom died in adolescence. Alexander and his descendents were great collectors of relics supposed to have belonged to William Wallace. Wallace led the Scots resistance to English rule and won an impressive victory over the English at Stirling in 1297. He lost at Falkirk the next year, and was executed in 1305. The interest of the Spiers family stemmed from the myth that Wallace had hailed from Elderslie. The family acquired the estate from Helen Wallace, who believed herself to be descended from William. Over the years the Spiers family collected several items connected with Wallace, many of apparently dubious provenance, including one of the several two-handed swords he was claimed to have wielded in battle. The life of William Wallace was portrayed in the film Braveheart starring Mel Gibson.

Alexander’s second son, Archibald, was one of the nine original partners in the Renfrewshire Bank. He was also chairman of the Board of Management of the Forth and Clyde Canal and presided over the opening ceremony in 1790. He had five sons and nine daughters and died in 1832. He was succeeded by his son, Alexander who became Lord Lieutenant for Renfrewshire and was MP for Richmond in Surrey. He died in 1844 and was succeeded by his son, Captain Archibald. He served in the Scots Fusilir Guards and was MP for Renferew from 1865-8. He married Anne, daughter of the 4th Earl of Radnor, and died of typhoid contracted from the Clyde in December 1868 leaving a posthumous son, Alexander Archibald Speirs. At about the same time, one of Anne’s sisters Lady Mary Bouverie, married David Maitland Makgill Crichton, the previous baron’s great-grandfather.

Following the death of her husband, Lady Anne moved with the infant Archie to Houston, close to the Barony of Fulwood. They settled in the remains of one of the wings of the old castle at Houston that had been converted into a hunting lodge. Lady Anne gradually enlarged the house in the Scottish baronial style . Traces of the corbelling of the old castle battlements can still be seen today.

Archie died without issue in about 1959 and the estates passed to David Crichton Maitland. The Maitland family can trace its descent from Charles, 6th Earl of Lauderdale who died in 1744. Charles was Lord Lieutenant and Sheriff of Midlothian and Captain-General of the Mint. His son, James, was Lord Rector of Glasgow University in 1780-81 and served for 20 years as Lieutenant colonel in the army.

James first son, Valdave, died in early childhood, his second son, also James, succeeding to the title. He was created, in 1806. Baron Lauderdale of Thirlestane. He was Joint commissioner to France in that year and was for a short time, Keeper of The Great Seal. He died, at the age of 94, in 1856. His son, also James, the 9th Earl, was the MP for Richmond, Camelford and Appleby for the Whig, and in the case of the latter place, the Tory parties. He died unmarried in 1860.

Captain Frederick Lewis Maitland, a grandson of Charles, 6th  Earl Lauderdale, accepted the surrender of napoleon on board the Bellerophon on 15 July 1815. He rose to be Commander-in-Chief-of the East Indies and China.

James’ brother, Anthony, succeeded the title and was, again, both a Whig and Tory MP during his lifetime. He was seriously wounded in the attack on the Boulogne flotilla in 1801 and finally became Admiral of the Red. He died, unmarried, in 1863. At this point the Barony of Lauderdale of Thirlestane became extinct. The Earldom passed to his cousin, Thomas. He was an extremely distinguished naval commander, serving during the Spanish Civil War (for which he was made a Knight of the Spanish Order of Charles III in 1837), Malabar (1838), the Persian Gulf (1839) and China. He was Commander of the Fleet in the Pacific Ocean from 1860-62 and was promoted to Admiral in 1868. He died in 1878 without male issue.

He was succeeded by his second cousin once removed, Charles Barclay-Maitland. He met a sudden death, being struck by lightning on Braidshaw Rigg moor in 1884. He had, like several of his predecessors, no male heir and his third cousin, Francis Henry Maitland, inherited the title. Francis reunited the Earldom with the titles of viscount of Lauderdale, Viscount Maitland, Lord Maitland of Thirlestane, and Viscount Thirlestane and Boltoun. He was the grandson of the fourth son of Charles, the sixth Earl of Maitland. He was a representative peer for Scotland in the parliaments between 1889 and 1901. He died in 1924. It was then inherited by a branch of the Makgill Crichton Maitland family the well known Scottish family, the  title went into abeyance, as no one matriculated or used, until the resettlement by bequest to the present Baron of Fulwood.

The Barony and it lands were bequest to the present Baron in 1999, with consent from Mark Archibald Makgill Crichton Maitland and it was re-confirmed on behalf of the Crown by Warrant of The Court of The Lord Lyon King of Arms, dated of 18 March 2005, effective from 21 September 2000  in favour of   The present Baron of Fulwood and his heirs,  much of the Barony land has been leased out to the Military in a long term lease.

The Baron is married. The Baron &  Baroness of Fulwood and Dirleton,  reside between Florida in the USA and Scotland.  The Baron of Fulwood is  The Honorary Consul of Mozambique, a Patron of The Royal Academy of Arts in London, The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Museum in South Africa, he has  authored 2 books that were published.

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Copyright 2005 Barony of Fulwood Trust
Last modified: 08/24/09