The Lennox District -- Leamhnachd

The Lennox(6) - Leamhnachd

This outgrowth of the old Celtic Earldom of Lennox, in the southernmost highlands, comprised what today is: Dunbartonshire, a large part of Stirlingshire, and parts of Perthshire and Renfrewshire. The Lennox District tartan is one of the oldest recorded in Scotland. It was derived from the tartan worn by the Countess of Lennox, mother of Henry Darnley, 2nd husband of MARY, Queen of Scots and father of JAMES VI. The tartan may be seen in a 16th century portrait of the Countess of Lennox.

Parenthetically, Helensburgh was originally called Milligs (village), later renamed by Sir James Colquhoun, who founded the present town, in honor of his wife, Helen, a daughter of Lord Strathneven.

Rhu, from the Gaelic, rubha or rudha ( promontory)  was originally called Row, prior to 7 March 1927.  The parish of Row was founded in 1648 by separatists from Roseneath at the instigation of Aulay McAulay of Ardencaple.  He erected the Kirk and furnished land for a manse and glebe.

Extent, Boundaries and Topography of the Lennox (7)

The ancient name given to the territory afterwards called the Lennox was Levenachs or Levenauchen, a Celtic word, which signifies “the field of the Leven” or ‘smooth stream”, corresponding with the great lake which anciently was named Lochleven, but is now called Lochlomond, and the beautiful stream which winds its serpentine course from Lochlomond, through Strathleven, for about seven miles, till it joins the Clyde at the Castle of Dumbarton.  The name, by a slight change was easily corrupted into Levenax, Lennax and ultimately, Lennox, the names that most commonly appear in the charters of these lands.

The original boundaries of the ancient Earldom of Lennox cannot now be exactly ascertained.  The earliest description of it occurs in a charter by King Robert the Bruce, dated 14th July 1321, to Malcolm 4th Earl of Lennox, of the whole Earldom of Lennox and Sheriffship of Dumbarton, with the castle, which castle King Alexander III had for a time, at his desire, taken from Maldouen, 3rd Earl of Lennox, to be restored to the said Maldouen and his heirs whenever it should seem expedient to them or to him, all to be held by Malcolm and his heirs of the granter and his heirs….

Even from this original description it is difficult, in consequence of nearly all the names there given having been long since supplanted by others, to determine with exact accuracy the boundaries of the Earldom of Lennox as indicated in that charter.  A few of these names, however, can be identified with those of modern times, and with the assistance of these, and the information which may be derived from other sources, the leading boundaries of eh Earldom may with considerable correctness be made out.

The Presbytery of Dumbarton, which was formed out of the rural deanery of Lennox, perhaps supplies the means of ascertaining, with the nearest approach to accuracy, the old boundaries of the Earldom, with the addition of the parishes of Campsy and Kilsyth.  It embraces the parishes of Arrochar, Baldernock, Balfron, Bonhill, Buchanan, Cardross, Drymen, Dumbarton, Fintry, Killearn, Kilmaronock, New Kilpatrick, Old Kilpatrick, Luss, Roseneath, Row and Strathblane.  The deanery of Lennox, as given in the Origines Parochiales, included also Kilsyth and Campsy, both of which certainly formed part of the ancient inheritance of the Lennox family, and Kirkintilloch and Cumbernauld, which were no part of their ancient inheritance.  Some idea of the extent of this immense estate may be formed from a retour of King Charles the Second, as heir-male of Charles Duke of Lennox and Richmond, to the portion of the original Earldom possessed by him.  Half of the lands, as we shall afterwards see, had fallen to the families of Haldane of Gleneagles and Napier of Merchiston; but the half which was possessed by Duke Charles forms a list by far too numerous to be given here.

The boundaries of the Lennox, or of the Earldom of Lennox, were probably co-extensive with the shire of Dumbarton as it originally existed.  But in the fourteenth century that shire was dismembered and its limits greatly altered and abridged by the disjunction of the six parishes of Fintry, Campsy, Strathblane, Balfron, Drymen, and Inchcalleoch from it, and their annexations to the shire of Stirling, the parishes of Cumbernauld and Kirkintilloch being in exchange annexed to the shire of Dumbarton…..

[Although the history of this district subsequently was characterized by boundaries in flux] The extreme boundaries of the ancient Lennox may be thus described:

__On the south were the river Clyde and the estuary which separates it from Renfrewshire; on the west the county of Argyll and Lochlong; on the north was that part of the Grampian mountains in Perthshire which overhangs Lochlomond; on the east the Lennox was bounded by the western portion of the earldom of Menteith and the parishes of Kippen, Gargunnock and Kilsyth, in the county of Stirling.  Along the south and west side of the county, stretching from east to west, are the parishes of New and Old Kilpatrick, Dumbarton, Cardross, Bonhill, Luss, Roseneath and Row.  On the north-west is the parish of Arrochar; and on the north and east sides were originally the parishes of Inchcalleoch, now Buchanan, Kilmaronock, and Drymen, both bounded by Menteith, Balfron, Killearn, Strathblane, Baldernock and Campsy.  From the bridge over the river Kelvin – which forms a boundary between the counties of Stirling and Dumbarton, at the southeast corner of the parish of New or East Kilpatrick –to the rivulet of Inverarnan, at the northern boundary of the Lennox, in the parish of Arrochar, the extreme length of the Lennox is forty–seven miles, and its breadth varies from eight to two miles, the broadest part being between Kilmaronock and Roseneath, and the narrowest part between Tarbet on Lochlomond and Lochlong.  These measurements do not include the parishes of Cumbernauld and Kirkintilloch, which are situated between the shire of Lanark on the south and that of Stirling on the north, being separated about six miles from the south-east end of Dumbarbartonshire.  These parishes contain 32 ½ square miles.  The other parishes of the county contain 228 square miles and about 167.040 imperial acres.

Excerpted, Gazetteer of Scotland, 1843 (8)

LENNOX, the ancient county of Dumbarton, comprehending the whole of the modern county and a large part of Stirlingshire, and part of the counties of Perth and Renfrew.  The original name was Leven-ach, ‘the field of the Leven’, and very appropriately designated the basin, not only of the river Leven, but also of Loch Lomond, anciently called Loch-Leven.  Levenachs, in the plural number come to be the name of all the extensive and contiguous possessions of the powerful Earls of the soil; and, being spelt and written Levenax, was easily and naturally corrupted into Lennox.  In the 13th century, Lennox and the sheriffdom of Dumbarton appear to have been co-extensive; but afterwards, in consequence of great alterations and considerable curtailments upon the sheriffdom, they ceased to be identical.

The origin of the earldom of Lennox is obscure.  Arkil, a Saxon, and a baron of Northumbria, who took refuge from the vengeance of the Norman, William [the Conqueror], under the protection of Malcolm Canmore, appears to have been the founder of the original Lennox family.  His son, Alwyn, seems to have been the first Earl.  But [Arkil] dying, when his son and heir was a minor, early in the reign of William I  [“ Lion”], David of Huntingdon, received from the king the earldom in ward, and appears to have held it during a considerable period. Alwyn, the 2nd Earl, recovered possession some time before 1199.

Maldwen, the 3rd Earl, obtained from Alexander II, in 1238, a confirmatory charter of the earldom as held by his father; but was not allowed the castle of Dumbarton, nor the lands, port and fisheries of Murrach.

In 1284, Earl Malcolm concurred with the ‘Magnates Scotiae’, in swearing to acknowledge Margaret of Norway as heir-apparent to Alexander III’s throne; and, in 1290, he appeared in the assembly of the states at Birgham and consented to the marriage of Margaret with the son of Edward I [England].  Next year, when Margaret’s death opened the competition for the Crown, [Earl] Malcolm was one of the nominees of Robert Bruce; and resistance to England becoming necessary, he, in 1296, assembled his followers and, with other Scottish leaders, invaded Cumberland and assaulted Carlisle.  While Sir John Menteith, the faithless and inglorious betrayer of the patriot Wallace, prostituted his power as governor of Dumbarton-castle and sheriff of Dumbartonshire, in favour of Edward I [England], [Earl] Malcolm went boldly out and achieved feats as a supporter of Robert Bruce; and he continued, after Bruce’s death, to maintain the independence of the kingdom, till, in 1333, he fell with hoary locks, but fighting like a youthful warrior, at Halidon Hill. 

In 1424, after the restoration of James I, Earl Duncan became involved in the fate of his son-in-law, Murdoch, Duke of Albany, the Regent; and for some real or merely imputed crime, which no known history specifies, he was, in May next year, along with the Duke and two of the Duke’s sons, beheaded at Stirling.  Though [Earl] Duncan left, by his second marriage, a legitimate son, called Donald of Lennox; yet his daughter Isabella, Duchess of Albany, while obtaining to regular entry to the earldom as heiress, appears to have enjoyed it during the reign of James II; and she resided in the castle of Inchmurrie in Loch Lomond, the chief messuage of the earldom, and there granted charters to vassals, as Countess of Lennox, and made gifts of portions of the property to religious establishments.  After this lady’s death in 1459, a long contest took place for the earldom between the heirs of the sisters, Elizabeth and Margaret, the second and third daughters of [Earl] Duncan, whose priority of age was not ascertained by evidence, or admitted of keen and plausible dispute.  The vast landed property of Lennox was dismembered or cut into moieties; but the honours, the superiority, and the principal messuage of the earldom - the grand object of dispute – could be awarded to only one part, and were not finally adjudged till 1493. 

Sir John Stewart of Darnley had married Elizabeth; and their grandson, besides being declared heir to half the Lennox estate, became Lord Darnley and Earl of Lennox.  Sir Robert Menteith of Rusky married Margaret; and their moiety of the Lennox estate, came, with the estate of Rusky, to be divided, in the persons of their great granddaughters, the co-heiresses, between Sir John Haldane of Gleneglis, who had married the elder, and the younger.  In 1471, the earldom being in the king’s hands by the non-entry of any heir was given, during his life to Andrew, Lord Avondale, the chancellor.

After the fall of James III, John Lord Darnley appears to have been awarded the Lennox honours by the new government; and, in 1388, he sat as Earl of Lennox in the first parliament, and received for himself and his son Matthew Stewart, the ward and revenues of Dumbarton-Castle, which had been held by Lord Avondale.  But only next year he took arms against the young king, drew besieging forces upon his fortresses both of Crookston and Dumbarton, suffered a defeat or rather night surprise and rout at Tilly-moss, on the south side of the Forth above Stirling, saw the castle of Dumbarton, which was maintained by four of his sons, held to a vigorous siege of six weeks, headed by the king and the ministers of state, and, after all, succeeded in making his peace with governments, and obtaining a full pardon for himself and his followers. 

Matthew, the next Earl, a very conspicuous figurant in history, obtained, in 1531, for 19 years, the tenure of the governorship and revenues of Dumbarton-castle.  Early in the reign of Mary [Queen of Scots], some French ships arriving in the Clyde with supplies for the Queen, he, by artful persuasion, got the captains to land 30,000 crowns of silver and a quantity of arms and ammunition in the castle; and he immediately joined with other malcontents in an abortive but comprised and pardoned attempt to overthrow the government.  In May and June 1544, he secretly entered the service of Henry VIII [England], engaging every effort to seize and deliver to England the Scottish queen, the Isle of Bute, and the castle and territories of Dumbarton, and obtaining from the king the Lady Margaret Douglas in marriage, and lands in England to the annual value of 6,800 marks Scots.  Sent soon afterwards to the Clyde with 18 English ships and 600 soldiers, he was civilly received by George Stirling of Glorat, whom he had left in charge of Dumbarton-castle as his deputy; but he no sooner hinted to that official his design, and offered him a pension from Henry, than he and his Englishmen were turned out of the fortress, and compelled to return to their ships.  The Earl and his party now ravaged and wasted, with fire and sword, the islands of Arran and Bute, and other places in the West; and in October 1545, he was declared by parliament to have incurred forfeiture.

He continued an active partizan in the hostilities against Scotland of Henry VIII and his successor, received from the former a grant of the manor of Temple-Newsom in Yorkshire, and during 20 years, remained in England an exile from his native land.  Father of the ill-fated Lord Darnley, the husband of Mary [Queen of Scots] and grandfather of James VI, he eventually rose in the revolving politics of the period to the uppermost side of the wheel, and for a period filled the office of Regent, and vice-regally swayed the sceptre of his grandson.  Holding at Stirling-castle in September, 1571, what the opposite party in politics called ‘the black parliament’, he was mortally wounded in an attack made upon the town by a small force who designed to take the fortress by surprise. 

The Earldom of Lennox now devolved on James VI as the next heir; and in April, 1572, it and the lordship of Darnley, with the whole of the family property and heritable jurisdictions, were given to Lord Charles Stewart, the king’s uncle, and Lord Darnley’s younger brother. 

But he, dying in 1576 without male issue, they again devolved to the king and were given, in 1578, to the king’s grand-uncle, Lord Robert Stewart, bishop of Caithness - resigned by him in 1579 in exchange for the earldom of March - and given, in 1579-80, to Esme Stewart, Lord D’Aubigny.  In August, 1581, Esme, this last favourite among the royal kinsmen, and the holder of the office of chamberlain of Scotland, was raised to the dignity of the Duke of Lennox and Earl of Darnley; and his son Ludovic, the second Duke, received from the king additional offices and grants of property, and, among other preferments, was made custodier of Dumbarton-castle, and the owner of its pertinents and revenues.

In 1672, Charles, the 6th Duke, dying without issue, the peerage, with all its accumulated honours and possessions, went once more to the Crown, devolving on Charles II, as the nearest collateral heir-male; and the revenues of the estates were settled for life on the dowager Duchess.  In 1680, Charles II, granted to his illegitimate son, Charles, born of Louise Renée de Penacoet de Keranalle, Duchesss of Portsmouth and D’Aubigny, [both] the dukedom of Lennox, and earldom of Darnley in Scotland, and the dukedom of Richmond and earldom of March in the peerage of England.

After the death of the Dowager-duchess in 1702, the duke of Richmond and Lennox sold the whole of his property in Scotland, the Marquis of Montrose purchasing most of it, as well as many of its jurisdictions.  

In 1836, Charles, 5th Duke of Richmond and Lennox, succeeded to the Gordon estates.

In the reign of James VI, the sheriffdom of Dumbartonshire was made hereditary in the family of Lennox, Earl Matthew obtaining, in 1503, a grant which united the office to the earldom.  The office continued a pertinent of the Earls and Dukes for two centuries, and was usually executed by deputy-sheriffs of their appointment. 

The Marquis of Montrose, who was created Duke in 1707, purchased at once the sheriffdom of the county, the custodiership of Dumbartonshire-castle, and the jurisdiction of the regality of Lennox, along with the large part of the Lennox property bought from the first Duke of Richmond and Lennox.  The Earls and Dukes of   Lennox had a very ample jurisdiction over all their estates, both in and beyond Dumbartonshire, comprehended in the regality of Lennox; and their vassals also had powers of jurisdiction within the lands held by them, subject to the remarkable condition that all the criminals condemned in their courts should be executed on the Earl’s gallows.  At the abolition of heritable jurisdictions 1748, the Duke of Montrose claimed for the regality of Lennox Ł 4, 000, but was allowed only Ł 578 18s 4d.

Last Update: October 2006