National Records of Scotland

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John Maitland (1616-1682)

John Maitland (1616-1682)


John Maitland began his public career as a supporter of the Solemn League and Covenant. He was one of the commissioners who signed the Covenant with the English Parliamentary faction in 1643. He was captured at the battle of Worcester in 1650 and imprisoned in the Tower of London until his fortunes changed with the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660. He was granted the post of High Commissioner and Secretary of State for Scotland and created duke of Lauderdale in 1674, becoming the 'L' in the 'CABAL' ministry of Charles II in Charles Dicken's 'A Child's History of England'. Two years later he was made earl of Guildford and appointed privy councillor. He has been criticised for the way in which he governed. His contemporary, Lord Clarendon, described him as 'insolent, imperious, flattering and dissembling, and having no impediment of honour to restrain him from doing anything that might satisfy any of his passions'.  In 1672 he married Elizabeth Murray, countess of Dysart. Together they oversaw the embellishment of Thirlestane Castle in Scotland and Ham House in Surrey. The couple were painted by Sir Peter Lely. Political intrigue and ill health led to Lauderdale's dramatic fall from power in 1680, and he died two years later in Tunbridge Wells. He was buried in the family crypt in St Mary's Church, Haddington. On his death without male issue the dukedom became extinct, and the earldom passed to his brother Charles.

Testament of John, duke of Lauderdale

National Records of Scotland, CC8/8/84 pp 418-420

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