Earl of Crawford

Earldom of Crawford
Creation date 1398
Monarch Robert II of Scotland
Peerage Peerage of Scotland
First holder David Lindsay, 1st Earl of Crawford
Present holder Robert Lindsay, 29th Earl of Crawford
Heir apparent Anthony Robert Lindsay, Lord Balniel
Remainder to heirs male of the body of the grantee
Subsidiary titles Lord Lindsay of Crawford, Lord Lindsay and Balniel, Baron Wigan of Haigh Hall, Earl of Balcarres
Seat(s) Balcarres House
Former seat(s) Haigh Hall
Crawford Castle
Crawford Priory

The title Earl of Crawford is one of the most ancient extant titles in Great Britain, having been created in the Peerage of Scotland for Sir David Lindsay in 1398. It is the premier earldom recorded on the Union Roll.[1]

The title has a very complex history. Crawford Castle, along with the title of Earl of Crawford, was given by Robert II to David Lindsay, 1st Earl of Crawford.[2]

Early history

The title descended to the first Earl's descendants without much incident, until the death of David Lindsay, 8th Earl of Crawford in 1542. The eighth Earl had a son, Alexander, commonly called the Wicked Master, who frequently quarreled with his father and even tried to murder him. The Wicked Master was sentenced to death for his crime, and the eighth Earl conveyed his title to a cousin, also called David Lindsay, a descendant of the third Earl of Crawford, and excluded from the succession all of the Wicked Master's descendants. However, the ninth earl, although he had his own sons, named the Wicked Master's son David as his heir; thus, in 1558, at the ninth Earl's death, the earldom returned to the main branch of the family. The ninth Earl is frequently referred to as an interpolated Earl, as are the 17th-22nd Earls.

Later history

At the death of Ludovic Lindsay, 16th Earl of Crawford, the title was passed, despite senior heirs, to a cousin, John, who had already been created Earl of Lindsay. The earldoms of Crawford and Lindsay continued to be united until the 22nd earl died unmarried in January 1808. The two earldoms then became dormant until the respective heirs could prove their claims to the titles.

In 1843, James Lindsay, 7th Earl of Balcarres put forward his claim to the Earldom of Crawford; in 1848, the House of Lords allowed it. The claim was based on the extensive research of his son Lord Lindsay.[3] It was held that the seventh Earl's father, the sixth Earl, was the lawful successor to the earldom of Crawford (though he did not claim it); therefore, the sixth Earl of Balcarres was posthumously declared the 23rd Earl of Crawford, and his son, the seventh Earl of Balcarres, became the 24th Earl of Crawford. Thereafter, these two earldoms have remained united.

The Earl of Crawford was mentioned in an episode of Keeping Up Appearances, when Hyacinth Bucket insisted that her milk be sourced from the "very attractive herd" on his estate.

The subsidiary titles associated with the Earl of Crawford and Balcarres are: Lord Lindsay of Crawford (created 1398), Lord Lindsay and Balniel (1651) and Baron Wigan of Haigh Hall (1826). The former two subsidiary titles, as well as the two Earldoms, are in the Peerage of Scotland. The Barony is in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. By virtue of the title of Baron Wigan of Haigh Hall, the Earls of Crawford and Balcarres sat in the House of Lords until the passage of the Peerage Act 1963. The present Earl sits in the House of Lords as Baron Balniel, a life peerage conferred on him in 1974 after he left the House of Commons and before the death of his father.

The Earl of Crawford is the hereditary Clan Chief of Clan Lindsay.

Family seat

The family seat is Balcarres House in Colinsburgh, Fife. Until the 1940s they were also seated at Haigh Hall, Lancashire.

Earls of Crawford (1398)

Earls of Crawford (1642)

The heir apparent is the present holder's son Anthony Robert Lindsay, Lord Balniel (b. 1958). Lord Balniel's heir apparent is his son, Alexander Thomas Lindsay, Master of Lindsay (b. 1991).[4]

See also


  1. Whitaker's Almanack
  2. See p.61, English translation of the Latin text of the Blaeu Atlas of Scotland, 1654 in the digital library of the National Library of Scotland at http://www.nls.uk/maps/atlas/blaeu/. According to the translator, the original text's reference to "James" Lindsay is a mistake for David Lindsay.
  3. Barker, Nicolas (1978) Bibliotheca Lindesiana: the Lives and Collections of Alexander William, 25th Earl of Crawford and 8th Earl of Balcarres, and James Ludovic, 26th Earl of Crawford and 9th Earl of Balcarres. London: for Presentation to the Roxburghe Club, and published by Bernard Quaritch
  4. The Peerage
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