Alexander Stuart, 5th Earl of Moray

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Alexander Stuart, 5th Earl of Moray

Scotland-2016-Aerial-Doune Castle (and Castle keeper's cottage).jpg
Doune Castle, owned by the Earls of Moray
Lord High Commissioner
In office
MonarchJames II & VII
Preceded byDuke of Queensberry
Succeeded byDuke of Hamilton
Secretary of State in Scotland
In office
MonarchCharles II (1680–1685)
Preceded byDuke of Lauderdale
Succeeded byEarl of Melfort
Extraordinary Lord of Session
In office
MonarchCharles II
Commissioner of the Treasury
In office
MonarchCharles II
Lord Justice General
In office
MonarchCharles II
Personal details
Alexander Stewart

8 May 1634 (baptised)
Darnaway Castle
Died1 November 1701(1701-11-01) (aged 67)
Resting placeDyke, Moray
Spouse(s)Emilia Balfour (1646–1683)
ChildrenJames, Lord Doune (1660–1685) Charles, 6th Earl (1673–1735) Francis, 7th Earl (1673–1739) John (1675–1765) Emilia (after 1706)[1]
ParentsJames, 4th Earl (1611–1653)
Lady Margaret Home (1607–1683);
ResidenceDarnaway Castle
AwardsOrder of the Thistle 1687

Alexander Stuart, 5th Earl of Moray KT (8 May 1634 – 1 November 1701), was a Scottish peer who held senior political office in Scotland under Charles II and his Catholic brother, James II & VII.

He was first brought into government in 1676 by the Duke of Lauderdale, his relative by marriage; between 1681 to 1686, he played a prominent role in the suppression of Presbyterian radicals, known as "the Killing Time". He retained his position when James succeeded in 1685 and supported his religious policies, having converting to Catholicism in 1686.

Removed from office after the 1688 Glorious Revolution, he retired from public life and died at Donibristle on 1 November 1701.


Alexander Stuart was born in May 1634, second son of James, 4th Earl of Moray and Lady Margaret Home (1607–1683). His elder brother James died young and Alexander succeeded his father as Earl of Moray in 1653. He was one of eight children; in addition to James, the others being Mary (1628–1668), Margaret (1631–1667), Francis (1636–?), Henrietta (1640–1713), Archibald (1643–1688), and Anne (1644–1719).[2]

In 1658, he married Emilia Balfour, daughter of Sir William Balfour and they had James, Lord Doune (1660–1685), Charles, 6th Earl (1673–1735), Francis, 7th Earl (1673–1739), John (1675–1765) and Emilia (died after 1706).[3]


Moray owed political office to the Duke of Lauderdale, his uncle by marriage

During the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, his father raised a regiment that fought for the Covenanters against Royalist forces led by Montrose.[4] He also supported the attempt to restore Charles I to power in the Second English Civil War, then Charles II in 1651.

Alexander succeeded his father as Earl of Moray on 4 March 1653, shortly after Scotland was incorporated into The Protectorate. After defeating the Royalist Glencairn's Rising in 1654, the new administration decided to draw a line under the civil wars and adopted a number of conciliatory measures. One of these was the 1654 Act of Grace and Pardon; a small number of key individuals had their estates confiscated, with others paying a fine. Moray was one of 73 individuals included in this list, although the original amount of £3,500 was eventually reduced to £500.[5]

After the Restoration of Charles II in 1660, Moray became a Privy Councillor but remained a minor political figure. He was known as an opponent of Presbyterian radicals and in 1675, his uncle by marriage, the Duke of Lauderdale, named him Lord Justice General, replacing the Marquess of Atholl. He helped enforce increasingly harsh policies, including the death penalty for preaching at services held outside the approved church, or Conventicles, and was made a Commissioner of the Treasury in 1678.[6]

In 1679, dissidents murdered Archbishop Sharp and Moray helped put down a short-lived rebellion.[7] This resulted in his appointment on 17 July 1680 as an Extraordinary Lord of Session; when Lauderdale was dismissed soon after, he nominated Moray as Secretary of State in his place. James approved this, but insisted Moray share the position, first with Middleton, then Melfort. [8]

James became king in February 1685 with strong support in England and Scotland, leading to the rapid collapse of Argyll's Rising in June. However, measures for Catholic relief undercut the moderate Presbyterians and Episcopalians who then controlled the Church of Scotland and formed James' main support base. Their opposition forced him to rely on an ever smaller circle of loyalists; in 1686, Moray was appointed Lord High Commissioner to the Parliament of Scotland, charged with ensuring repeal of the 1681 Test Act.

Moray had converted to Catholicism in 1686; although this was not made this public until 1687, many suspected it and challenged his right to hold office at all. Despite threats and the removal from office of opponents, the Scottish Parliament refused to pass these measures, forcing James to use the Royal Prerogative.[9]

In recognition of his status, Moray was one of eight founding members of the Order of the Thistle, created by James in 1687 to reward his key supporters.[10] After the Glorious Revolution in November 1688, he was deprived of all his offices. He died at Donibristle on 1 November 1701, and buried in the church of Dyke on 24 January 1702.[11]


  1. ^ "Alexander Stuart, 5th Earl of Moray". Retrieved 19 September 2019.
  2. ^ "James Stuart, 4th Earl of Moray". Retrieved 20 September 2019.
  3. ^ Debrett 1830, p. 707.
  4. ^ "Earl of Moray's Regiment". BCW Project. Retrieved 20 September 2019.
  5. ^ Henderson 2008, p. online.
  6. ^ Mackie & Lenman 1991, p. 237.
  7. ^ Mackie & Lenman 1991, pp. 238.
  8. ^ Mackie & Lenman 1991, pp. 245–246.
  9. ^ Harris 2007, pp. 161–162.
  10. ^ Glozier 2000, pp. 233–234.
  11. ^ Henderson 1898.


  • Debrett, John (1830). Debrett's Peerage of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. 2. C J G And F Rivington.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Glozier, Mathew (2000). "The Earl of Melfort, the Court Catholic Party and the Foundation of the Order of the Thistle, 1687". The Scottish Historical Review. 79 (208): 233–238. doi:10.3366/shr.2000.79.2.233. JSTOR 25530975.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Harris, Tim (2007). Revolution; the Great Crisis of the British Monarchy 1685-1720. Penguin. ISBN 978-0141016528.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Henderson, TF, Mann, AJ (2008). Stewart, Alexander, fifth earl of Moray (Online ed.). Oxford DNB. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/26455.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Mackie, JL; Lenman, Bruce (1991). A History of Scotland. Penguin. ISBN 978-0140136494.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
The Duke of Lauderdale
Secretary of State, Scotland
With: The Earl of Middleton 1682–1684
The Earl of Melfort 1684–1688
Succeeded by
The Earl of Melfort
Parliament of Scotland
Preceded by
The Duke of Queensberry
Lord High Commissioner
Succeeded by
The Duke of Hamilton
Peerage of Scotland
Preceded by
James Stuart
Earl of Moray
Succeeded by
Charles Stuart