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The Duke of Lauderdale

John Maitland, Duke of Lauderdale by Jacob Huysmans.jpg
John Maitland by Jacob Huysmans
Lord High Commissioner
In office
2 August 1669 – October 1680
MonarchCharles II
Preceded byEarl of Rothes
Succeeded byDuke of Albany
Secretary of State
In office
19 January 1661 – October 1680
MonarchCharles II
Preceded byWilliam Kerr, 1st Earl of Lothian
Succeeded byEarl of Middleton
Personal details
Born24 May 1616
Lethington Castle, East Lothian
Died24 August 1682(1682-08-24) (aged 66)
Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England
Resting placeSt Mary's Collegiate Church, Haddington, East Lothian
Spouse(s)Lady Anne Home; Elizabeth, Countess of Dysart
Coat of arms of John Maitland, 1st Duke of Lauderdale, KG, PC

John Maitland, 1st Duke and 2nd Earl of Lauderdale, 3rd Lord Thirlestane KG PC (24 May 1616, Lethington, East Lothian – 24 August 1682), was a Scottish politician, and leader within the Cabal Ministry.


Maitland was a member of an ancient family of both Berwickshire and East Lothian, the eldest surviving son of John Maitland, 2nd Lord Maitland of Thirlestane (d. 1645), (who had been created Viscount of Lauderdale in 1616, and Earl of Lauderdale etc., in 1624), and of Lady Isabel (1594–1638), daughter of Alexander Seton, 1st Earl of Dunfermline and great-grandson of Sir Richard Maitland of Lethington, the poet.[1]


Maitland began public life as a zealous adherent of the Presbyterian cause, took the Covenant, sat as an elder in the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland at St Andrews in July 1643, and was sent to the Kingdom of England as a Commissioner for the Covenant in August, and to attend the Westminster Assembly in November.[1]

Privy Councillor in two kingdoms

In February 1644 he was a member of the Privy Council of England and the Privy Council of Scotland, and on 20 November was one of the Commissioners appointed to meet the king at Uxbridge, when he made efforts to persuade King Charles I to agree to the establishment of Presbyterianism. In 1645 he advised Charles to reject the proposals of Independents, and in 1647 he was in London when the Scots commissioners approved the king's surrender to the Scots.[1]

Second English Civil War and the Worcester Campaign

John Maitland (right) with William Hamilton, 2nd Duke of Hamilton (left) in 1649

Once Charles surrendered to the Scots, Lauderdale veered round completely to the king's cause, had several interviews with him, and engaged in various projects for his restoration, offering the aid of the Scots, on the condition of Charles's consent to the establishment of Presbyterianism, and on 26 December he obtained from Charles at Carisbrooke Castle "The Engagement" by which Presbyterianism was to be established for three years, schismatics were to be suppressed, and the Acts of the Parliament of Scotland ratified, the king in addition promising to admit the Scottish nobles into public employment in England and to reside frequently in Scotland.[1]

Returning to Scotland, in the spring of 1648, Lauderdale joined the party of Hamilton in alliance with the English royalists. Their defeat at the Battle of Preston, postponed the arrival of the Charles, Prince of Wales, but Lauderdale had an interview with the prince in the Downs in August, and from this period obtained supreme influence over the future king. He persuaded Prince Charles later to accept the invitation to Scotland from Archibald Campbell, Marquess of Argyll's faction, accompanied him thither in 1650 and in the expedition into England, and was taken prisoner at the Battle of Worcester in 1651.[1]


John Maitland, 1st Duke of Lauderdale, painted around 1665 by Sir Peter Lely.

Lauderdale remained in confinement from his capture at Worcester until March 1660.[1] he was exempted from Cromwell's Act of Grace under which his estates were confiscated by Oliver Cromwell the Lord Protector.


Just before the restoration, he joined Charles II in May 1660 at Breda, the Netherlands, and in spite of the opposition of Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon and George Monck, was appointed Secretary of State for Scotland.[1]

King's councillor

From this time onwards he kept his hold upon the king, was lodged at Whitehall, was "never from the king's ear nor council",[2] and maintained his position against his numerous adversaries by a crafty dexterity in dealing with men, a fearless unscrupulousness, and a robust strength of will, which overcame all opposition. Though a man of considerable learning and intellectual attainment, he was authoritarian and determined to implement the King's instructions.

He abandoned Argyll to his fate, permitted, if he did not assist in, the restoration of episcopacy in Scotland, and after triumphing over all his opponents in Scotland drew into his own hands the whole administration of that kingdom, and proceeded to impose upon it the absolute supremacy of the crown in Kirk and state, restoring the nomination of the lords of the articles to the king and initiating severe measures against the Covenanters. In 1669 he was able to boast with truth that "the king is now master here in all causes and over all persons".[1]

The Cabal Ministry

John Maitland was created Duke of Lauderdale and Earl of March on 2 May 1672.
The Maitland tomb, St Mary's Church, Haddington

His own power was now at its height, and his position as the favourite of Charles II, controlled by no considerations of patriotism or statesmanship, and completely independent of the English parliament, recalled the worst scandals and abuses of the Stuart administration before the English Civil War.[1]

He was a member of the Cabal Ministry, but took little part in English affairs, and being a Presbyterian was not entrusted with the first secret Treaty of Dover, but gave personal support to Charles in his degrading demands for pensions from Louis XIV. On 2 May 1672 he was created Duke of Lauderdale and Earl of March, and on 3 June Knight of the Garter.[1]

In 1673, on the resignation of James, Duke of York in consequence of the Test Act, he was appointed a Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty. In October he visited Scotland to suppress the dissenters and obtain money for the Third Anglo-Dutch War. The intrigues organised by Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury, against his power in his absence, and the attacks made upon him in the House of Commons in January 1674 and April 1675, were alike rendered futile by the steady support of Charles and James.[1]

On 25 June 1674 he was created Earl of Guilford and Baron Petersham in the Peerage of England. His ferocious measures having failed to suppress the conventicles in Scotland, he summoned to his aid in 1677 a band of Highlanders, who were sent into the western country. In consequence, a large party of Scottish nobles went to London, made common cause with the English Country Faction, and compelled Charles to order the disbandment of the marauders. In May 1678 another demand made in the Commons for Lauderdale's removal was defeated due to court influence, by a margin of only a single vote.[3]

He maintained his triumphs almost to the end. In Scotland, which he visited immediately after this victory in the Parliament of England, he overbore all opposition to the king's demands for money. Another address for his removal from the Commons in England was suppressed by the dissolution of parliament on 26 May 1679, and a renewed attack upon him, by the Scottish party and Shaftesbury's faction combined, also failed. Later that summer on 22 June 1679 the last attempt of the Covenanters was suppressed at the Battle of Bothwell Brig.[4]

Company of Royal Adventure of England Trading into Africa

On 10 January 1663, the Company of Royal Adventures of England trading with Africa (later known as the Royal African Company) was incorporated by a royal charter which reconstituted by a new charter on 27 September 27 1672. This company traded in a variety of goods including wax, ivory and wood, but it was predominantly concerned with trading gold and slaves. These were bought with manufactured goods from Britain and Europe and the slaves were then sold to plantation owners in the American colonies and West Indies in return for sugar and tobacco. The company lost its monopoly in 1698 and became insolvent in the 1720s. Its ports, settlements and factories in Africa were vested in the African Company of Merchants, incorporated by act of Parliament in 1750. It was abolished in 1821 and its property vested in the Crown.[5] Maitland was one of the many influential men who signed off on The Royal African Company.


Following a stroke or heart attack early in 1680, his health and abilities failed leading Lauderdale to resign in October that year the place and power for which he had so long successfully struggled. His vote given for the execution of Lord Stafford on 29 November incurred the displeasure of the Duke of York.[4]

Personal life

John Maitland (left) married Elizabeth Murray (right) in 1672 upon the death of his first wife, Anne Home.

Lauderdale's first marriage was to Lady Anne Home, daughter of Alexander Home, 1st Earl of Home and Mary (Dudley) Sutton, by whom he had one daughter.[4] In 1672, after his wife's death in Paris he married Elizabeth Murray, Countess of Dysart in her own right, daughter of William Murray, 1st Earl of Dysart and now widow of Sir Lionel Tollemache. Among his stepchildren was General Thomas Tollemache. He left no male heir, consequently his dukedom and his English titles became extinct, but he was succeeded in the earldom by his brother Charles Maitland, 3rd Earl of Lauderdale.[4]


DNB - The chief authorities for Lauderdale's life are:

  • Baillie's Letters and Journals;
  • Burnet's Lives of the Dukes of Hamilton, and Hist. of his own Time;
  • Mackenzie's Memoirs;
  • Wodrow's Hist. of the Sufferings of the Church of Scotland;
  • the Hamilton Papers, published by the Camden Society;
  • and especially the vast collection of the Lauderdale Papers in the manuscripts room at the British Museum, three volumes of selections from which have also been issued by the Camden Society

The EB article lists the following sources:

  • Lauderdale Papers Add. manuscripts in Brit. Mus., 30 vols., a small selection of which, entitled The Lauderdale Papers, were edited by Osmond Airy for the Camden Society in 1884-1885;
  • Hamilton Papers published by the same society; "Lauderdale Correspondence with Archbishop Sharp," Scottish Hist. Soc. Publications, vol. 5 (1893);
  • Burnet's Lives of the Hamiltons and History of his Own Time;
  • R Baillie's Letters; SR Gardiner's Hist. of the Civil War and of the Commonwealth; Clarendon's Hist. of the Rebellion;
  • The Quarterly Review, civii. 407. Several speeches of Lauderdale are extant.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Yorke 1911, p. 279.
  2. ^ Yorke 1911, p. 279 cites: Samuel Pepys Diary, 2 March 1664
  3. ^ Yorke 1911, pp. 279,280.
  4. ^ a b c d Yorke 1911, p. 280.
  5. ^ "Company of Royal Adventurers of England Trading with Africa and successors: Records". UK National Archives. Retrieved 17 April cite.citation{font-style:inherit}.mw-parser-output .citation q{quotes:"\"""\"""'""'"}.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-free a{background:url("//")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-registration a{background:url("//")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-subscription a{background:url("//")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration{color:#555}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription span,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration span{border-bottom:1px dotted;cursor:help}.mw-parser-output .cs1-ws-icon a{background:url("//")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output code.cs1-code{color:inherit;background:inherit;border:inherit;padding:inherit}.mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{display:none;font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error{font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-maint{display:none;color:#33aa33;margin-left:0.3em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration,.mw-parser-output .cs1-format{font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-left,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-left{padding-left:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-right,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-right{padding-right:0.2em} UKOpenGovernmentLicence.svg This article contains quotations from this source, which is available under the Open Government Licence v3.0. © Crown copyright.
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Political offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Lothian
Secretary of State
Succeeded by
The Earl of Moray
Preceded by
The Earl of Rothes
Lord High Commissioner to the Parliament of Scotland
Succeeded by
The Duke of York and Albany
Preceded by
The Earl of Tweeddale
Lord President of the Council of Scotland
Succeeded by
Sir George Gordon, Bart.
Peerage of Scotland
New creation Duke of Lauderdale
Preceded by
John Maitland
Earl of Lauderdale
Succeeded by
Charles Maitland
Peerage of England
New creation Earl of Guilford

7 Annotations

Phil  •  Link

"2nd Earl of Lauderdale, cr. Duke 1672 (1616-82)" according to the L&M Companion. during the period of the diary he was Secretary for Scottish Affairs.

Paul Brewster  •  Link

Wheatley footnote:
John Maitland, second Earl, and afterwards created Marquis of March, Duke of Lauderdale and Earl of Guilford (in England), and K.G. He became sole Secretary of State for Scotland in 1661, and was a Gentlemen of his Majesty's Bedchamber, and died in 1682, s.p. (sine prole, Without offspring)

Bill  •  Link

In 1649 he opposed with great vehemence the propositions made by the marquise of Montross to king Charles II ; and in 1651 attended his majesty in his expedition into England, but was taken prisoner after the battle of Worcester in Sept. the same year, and confined in the Tower of London, Portland-castle, and other prisons, till March 3, 1659-60, when he was released from his imprisonment in Windsor-castle. Upon the restoration he was made secretary of state for Scotland, and persuaded the k. to demolish the forts and citadels built by Cromwell in Scotland; by which means he became very popular. He was likewise very importunate with his majesty for his supporting presbytery in that kingdom; though his zeal in this respect, did not continue long. In 1669 he was appointed lord commissioner for the k. in Scotland.
---Bibliotheca biographica. Thomas Flloyd, 1760.

Bill  •  Link

The duke of Lauderdale, who had been employed in several treaties in the late reign, and had been a sufferer in the cause of Charles II. was highly in favour with that prince. He was thought, before the Restoration, and especially during his imprisonment after the battle of Worcester, to have had some sense of religion; but his conduct afterwards was utterly inconsistent with every social and religious principle. He taught the king the political maxim of "neglecting his friends, and making friends of his enemies." His whole system of politics was much of the same cast. When he was high-commissioner in Scotland, he enslaved his country by every mode of oppression: he loaded it with taxes, ruined its trade, plundered its inhabitants, and persecuted its religion. When the people were grown mad by his cruelty, he obstructed the course of justice, and blocked up every avenue to the throne. He was one of those who were employed in forging chains for the English, and who will ever be remembered by the name of the Cabal. He was servile and imperious, haughty and abject; was a man of great learning, but aukward and ungainly in speech and behaviour. He practised all the arts of cunning and dissimulation to gain power, and was the barefaced tyrant after he had gained it. Ob. 24 Aug. 1682.
---A Biographical History of England. J. Granger, 1769.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

"He was one of those who were employed in forging chains for the English, ..." Can anyone explain this reference to chains for the English? Chains for the Scots, I can understand. For instance:

Richard "Hannibal" Rumbold made his defiant declaration on the Edinburgh scaffold before his execution for being part of the Rye House Plot on 26 June 1685: “This is a deluded generation, veiled in ignorance, that though popery and slavery be riding in upon them, do not perceive it; though I am sure that there was no man born marked by God above another; for none comes into this world with a saddle on his back, neither any booted and spurred to ride him...” This speech was rendered famous all over again during the discussions on the definition of treason at the American Constitutional Convention.

But this 1685 reference to slavery doesn't implicate Lauderdale, who was long gone by then anyways.

I've been unsuccessfully searching my files for the reference to the freeing of English slaves (whites, not indians or blacks), I recall by Charles II, except for miners who had to continue their miserable existence, from generation to generation. As I recall at least some of these miners were Scots.

Maybe it's a general reference to the brutality with which Judge Jeffries et al handled anyone who was inconvenient, and Lauderdale was a dab hand at that, even though he did take the trouble to have Charles II confirm every course of action before he took it. It was a brutal time, with or without chains.

Bill  •  Link

MAITLAND, JOHN, second Earl and first Duke of Lauderdale (1616-1682), grandson of Sir John Maitland; grand-nephew of William Maitland of Lethington; regarded as a rising hope of the ultra-covenanting party; commissioner for the Solemn League and Covenant, 1643-6; one of the commissioners who obtained the famous 'Engagement'; with Charles II in Holland, 1649; followed him to Worcester and was taken prisoner, 1651; kept a prisoner till 1660; secretary for Scottish affairs, 1660-80; aimed at making the crown absolute in Scotland both in state and church; had complete influence over Charles; created Duke of Lauderdale and Marquis of March in the Scottish peerage, 1672; placed upon the commission for the admiralty, 1673; made a privy councillor and a peer of England as Earl of Guildford and Baron Petersham, 1674: supported by Charles II against attacks from the English parliament.
---Dictionary of National Biography: Index and Epitome. S. Lee, 1906.

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.