William Keith, 4th Earl Marischal

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 Dunnottar Castle, seat of the Earls Marischal

William Keith, 4th Earl Marischal (d. 7 October 1581) was a Scottish nobleman and politician.

Family background and career[edit]

William Keith was the son of Robert Keith, Master of Marischal and Lady Elizabeth Douglas, daughter of John Douglas, 2nd Earl of Morton.[1] He succeeded his grandfather, William Keith, 3rd Earl Marischal.[2] He was one of the earls who accompanied James V to France for his marriage to Madeleine of Valois, daughter of King Francis I of France. The wedding took place on 1 January 1537 at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and was followed by days of Jousting at the Louvre.[3]

He fought at the Battle of Pinkie in 1547, in which the Scots were defeated by the English forces led by Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset in a bloody battle that was part of the War of the Rough Wooing.[4] Keith was said to have been in favour of the proposed marriage between the infant Mary, Queen of Scots, and Prince Edward of England, son of King Henry VIII.[5] He held the Office of Extraordinary Lord of Session in 1541, 1561, and lastly in 1573. In 1561, he was a member of Queen Mary's Privy Council.[5] Later, the Earl Marischal retired with his great fortune to a secluded life at Dunnottar Castle becoming known locally as "William of the Tower."[6] The Earl died on 7 October 1581[2]

Marriage and issue[edit]

He was married to Margaret Keith, eldest daughter of William Keith younger, of Inverugie, with whom he obtained large estates.[7] He and Margaret had twelve children:

  • William Keith, Master of Marischal (died 1580).[8]
  • Hon. Robert Keith, 1st Lord Altrie (died 1596).[9]
  • John Keith, probable Rector of Duffas.[9]
  • Agnes Keith, Countess of Moray (or Annas), m. 1st to the Regent Moray, 2nd. to Colin Campbell, 6th Earl of Argyll. She died 16 July 1588 at Edinburgh.[9]
  • Alexander Keith
  • Alison, m. to Alexander Abernethy, 6th Lord Saltoun (died 1587).[9]
  • Mary, m. to Sir John Campbell of Calder (dispensation for consanguinity).[9]
  • Beatrice, m. to Sir John Allardice of Allardice. She died 19 May 1596.[9]
  • Joneta, m. to James Crichton of Frendraught.[9]
  • Margaret, m. to John Kennedy of Blairquhan.[9]
  • Elizabeth, m. to Sir Alexander Irvine of Drum.[9]
  • Isobel, m. Alexander Strachan of Thornton. She died August 1595.[9]
  • Barbara, promised in m., failing her sister Isobel, to Alexander Strachan; m. Alexander Forbes of Pitsligo.[9]

Keith's chief residence was Dunnottar Castle in Aberdeenshire.[10]

When he died on 7 October 1581, he was succeeded by his grandson, George Keith, son of William, Master of Marischal; George became the 5th Earl Marischal.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bernard Burke, Genealogical History of the Dormant, Abeyant, Forfeited, and Extinct Peerages of the British Empire (Burke's Peerage/Genealogical Publishing Co., 1883/1985, 1996) p. 303
  2. ^ a b George Edward Cokayne, The complete peerage; or, A history of the House of lords and all its members from the earliest times, Volume VIII (The St. Catherine Press, Ltd., London, 1932), p. 477
  3. ^ Guy-Michel Leproux, La Peinture à Paris sous le règne de François Ier (Presses de l'Universite de Paris-Sarbonne, 2001), p. 26
  4. ^ George MacDonald Fraser, The Steel Bonnets: The Story of the Anglo-Scottish Border Reivers (Skyhorse Publishing, NY, 2006), p. 252
  5. ^ a b The Scots Peerage, Founded on Wood's Edition of Sir Robert Douglas's Peerage of Scotland, Sir James Balfour Paul, Vol. VI (David Douglas, Edinburgh, 1909), pp. 46-7
  6. ^ Report of the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts, Volume 3, Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts, London, 1872
  7. ^ The Scots Peerage, Founded on Wood's Edition of Sir Robert Douglas's Peerage of Scotland, Sir James Balfour Paul, Vol. VI (David Douglas, Edinburgh, 1909), pp. 48-9
  8. ^ a b The Scots Peerage, Founded on Wood's Edition of Sir Robert Douglas's Peerage of Scotland, Sir James Balfour Paul, Vol. VI (David Douglas, Edinburgh, 1909), p. 49
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k The Scots Peerage, Founded on Wood's Edition of Sir Robert Douglas's Peerage of Scotland, Sir James Balfour Paul, Vol. VI (David Douglas, Edinburgh, 1909), p. 50
  10. ^  "Keith, William (d.1581)". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 


Peerage of Scotland
Preceded by
William Keith
Earl Marischal
1530-1581
Succeeded by
George Keith