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John Maitland, 1st Duke of Lauderdale

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Title: John Maitland, 1st Duke of Lauderdale  
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Subject: Lord High Commissioner to the Parliament of Scotland, List of Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury, Thirlestane Castle, George Gordon, 1st Earl of Aberdeen
Collection: 1616 Births, 1682 Deaths, 17Th-Century Scottish People, Commissioners of the Treasury of Scotland, Covenanters, Dukes in the Peerage of Scotland, Earls of Lauderdale, Elders of the Church of Scotland, Knights of the Garter, Lords High Commissioner to the Parliament of Scotland, Lords of the Admiralty, Members of the Pre-1707 Parliament of Scotland, Members of the Privy Council of England, Members of the Privy Council of Scotland, Ordained Peers, People from East Lothian, Presidents of the Privy Council of Scotland, Scottish Commissioners at the Westminster Assembly, Scottish Presbyterians, Secretaries of State for Scotland, Treasurers of Scotland
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John Maitland, 1st Duke of Lauderdale

John Maitland, 1st Duke of Lauderdale, Jacob Huysmans, circa 1665

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


  • Background 1
  • Covenanter 2
  • Privy Councillor in two kingdoms 3
  • Second English Civil War and the Worcester Campaign 4
  • Interregnum 5
  • Restoration 6
  • King's councillor 7
  • The Cabal Ministry 8
  • Resignation 9
  • Personal life 10
  • See also 11
  • Notes 12
  • References 13


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 with 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] Later in 1647 he brought 50 horsemen to rescue Charles from English captivity whilst he was hunting at Nonsuch, but Charles refused his assistance, citing his parole to the Army.

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 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, his character was exceptionally and grossly licentious, and his base and ignoble career was henceforward unrelieved by a single redeeming feature.[1]

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.

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 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] He was also appointed Lord President of the Privy Council of Scotland in 1672, a position he held until 1681.

In 1673, on the resignation of 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]


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, by whom he had one daughter.[4] Prior to her death it is strongly suspected that Elizabeth Maitland, Duchess of Lauderdale, daughter of William Murray, 1st Earl of Dysart and now widow of Sir Lionel Tollemache, became his mistress,[5] and they subsequently married in 1672 upon Lady Anne's death. 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]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l 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. ^ Marshall 2004.


  • Marshall, Rosalind K. (2004). "Murray , Elizabeth, duchess of Lauderdale and suo jure countess of Dysart (bap. 1626, d. 1698)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press.  
    • 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.
    The EB article lists the following sources:  
Political offices
Preceded by
The Earl of Lothian
Secretary of State, Scotland
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
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