Earl of Glencairn

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Arms of the Earls of Glencairn, Chief of Clan Cunningham
Arms of the Earls of Glencairn as recorded in Brown's Peerage, 1834

Earl of Glencairn was a title in the Peerage of Scotland. It was created in 1488 for Alexander Cunningham, 1st Lord Kilmaurs (created 1450). The name was taken from the parish of Glencairn in Dumfriesshire so named for the Cairn Waters which run through it.[1]

On the death of the fifteenth earl in 1796, there existing no original Letters Patent of the creation nor a given remainder in the various confirmations in title of previous earls the title became dormant.

The earldom was claimed by Sir Adam Fergusson of Kilkerran, Bt., as heir of line of Alexander 10th, Earl of Glencairn and was opposed by Sir Walter Montgomery Cunningham of Corshill, Bt., as presumed heir male along with Lady Henriet Don, sister of the last earl, and wife of Sir Alexander Don of Newton Don, Roxburghshire. The House of Lords Committee of Privileges on 14 July 1797, chaired by the Lord Chancellor (Lord Rosslyn), in deciding the claim of the first-named, took a view unfavourable to all the claimants, and adjudged, that while Sir Adam Fergusson had shown himself to be the heir-general of Alexander, 10th Earl of Glencairn who died in 1670, he had not made out his right to the title. However, the decision was severely criticised by the jurist John Riddell in the 19th century and by Sir Iain Moncreiffe of that Ilk, Officer of Arms, in the 20th.

The current pretenders to the Earls of Glencairn are the Montgomery-Cuninghame baronets, although no claim has as yet been forthcoming. Lord Murphy of Glencairn, although not the rightful heir to the dormant Earldom, may emerge as a persuant claimant to the title but has expressed no interest. He currently resides in Utah, USA. It may be, having been recognised by the Lord Lyon as Chief of the Arms and Name of Cunninghame, though not as rightful heir to the dormant Earldom, that Sir John Montgomery Cuninghame will pursue his claim.

Earls of Glencairn (1488)[edit]

The coat of arms of the Cunninghames, Earls of Glencairn as recorded in 1820 (Robertson)


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Glencairn Dumfries Shire". A Vision of Britain. Retrieved 2012-02-14. 
  2. ^ http://www.clancunninghamintl.org


  • Douglas, Sir Robert (1764), The Peerage of Scotland.
  • Robertson, George, Topographical Description of Ayrshire; more Particularly of Cunninghame: together with a Genealogical account of the Principal families in that Bailiwick, Irvine, 1820.
  • Brown, Peter, publisher, The Peerage of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1834, p. 88.
  • Anderson, William, The Scottish Nation, vol.v, p. 310-314: Glencairn, Earl of