County of Renfrewshire

Categoria: history

Feudal System

A History of Feudalism in Scotland

Barons and the Feudal Systems

The Convention of The Baronage of Scotland


Farewell to Feudalism ByDavid Sellar, Honorary Fellow, Faculty of Law, University of Edinburgh

Report on Abolition of the Feudal System – Scottish Law Commission

Abolition of Feudal Tenure etc. (Scotland) Act 2000

Abolition of Feudal Tenure etc. (Scotland) Act 2000 – Explanatory Notes

Abolition of Feudal Tenure etc. (Scotland) Act 2000 – Policy Memorandum

A Guide to the Abolition of Feudal Tenure etc. Act and the Title Conditions Act for Housing Associations



The lands and estates of Cartsburn and Easter Greenock belonged to the Crawfords of Kilbirnie in Ayrshire who acquired them during the reign of Mary Queen of Scots.  Cartsburn extends from the Carts Burn on the west along the River Clyde to the point where the boundary falls out at Old Clyde Forge.
The lands of Cartsburn were originally part of the barony of Kilbirnie and became the patrimony of a younger brother of that family, whose posterity ended in the person of David Crawford of Cartsburn in the reign of Charles I.  
Patrick Crawford of Cartsburn, in the parish of Innerkip, for whom there is a will dated 17  March 1606, may have been followed by David Crawford of Cartsburn, whose will was confirmed in Glasgow on 21 March 1611; then we have Mr Patrick Crawford, of Cartsburn, parish of Greenock, will dated 21 February 1631.
The next laird of Cartsburn may have been David who had been served heir to his grandfather David Crawford of Cartsburn in May 1631.
They then passed to Malcolm Crawfurd of Newton who died in 1642 and his son John Crawford of Cartsburn was served as his heir on 16 July 1644.

By the mid- seventeenth century the lands of Cartsburn and Cartsdyke belonged to John Crawford of Kilbirnie who in 1641, because of his distinguished services to the Crown during the early years of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms (1638 to 1651), was made a baronet by King Charles I.  
He died in 1662 and left two daughters by his second wife Magdalen, daughter of Lord Carnegie, named Anne and Margaret.  
Anne married Sir Archibald Stewart of Blackhall the first baronet, while Margaret became the wife of Patrick Lindsay, second son of the Earl of Crawford.
The lands were entailed on Margaret and her male heirs, who had to assume the name of Crawfurd with the family arms.

The ruins of Easter Greenock Castle at the beginning of the nineteenth century

The Register of the Great Seal of Scotland, contains a charter of confirmation, dated 29 June 1663, in favour of Margaret Crawford of the lands and barony of Kilbirnie [granted by her father Sir John Crawford of Kilbirnie in 1662] including the 40 shilling land of the old extent of Cartsburn with buildings and fishings and free entry to and exit from the moor and marsh of Greenock, with the mill lands of Greenock in the barony of the same.  
Under this document Margaret and her heirs could sell and dispose of the lands of Easter Greenock and Cartsburn.   
In 1669, Margaret Crawford, by now Lady Kilbirnie, with the consent of her husband sold the lands of Cartsdyke to Sir John Schaw of Wester Greenock to whom was granted in 1670 a Crown Charter containing a clause by which Easter and Wester Greenock were to be united into a single barony, later called the Burgh of the Barony of Greenock.
However, the disposition reserved the right to Cartsburn, which Lady Kilburnie afterwards conveyed to her cousin Thomas Crauford of Cartsburn, second son of Cornelius Crawford of Jordanhill], later the first baron.  
The writs of the Forty-shilling lands of Cartsburn dating between 1628 and 1656, which were sold by Margaret Crawford, Lady Kilbirney, and her husband Mr Patrick Lindsay to Thomas Crawford of Cartsburn in 1678, are still extant and can be consulted in the National Archives of Scotland in Edinburgh.
The place name Cartsdyke may be derived from Crawford’s Dyke, which was named after John Crawford of Easter Greenock who built a quay wall or dyke at Greenock in the middle of the sixteenth century.

Charles II (29 May 1630 – 6 February 1685)

Cartsburn was erected into a barony, and a burgh of barony with the privilege of a weekly market and several fairs, in favour of Thomas Crawford of Cartsburn by a charter of Charles II dated 16 July 1669 (NAS Ref. C2/62/1/57).

People associated with the Barony include the inventor James Watt, the nation’s bard Robert Burns, and the poet Jean Adam.
The famous inventor, James Watt grew up within the Barony. His father and namesake, James Watt, was contracted to enlarge the mansion house of Sir John Shaw, 2nd Baronet at Greenock, and his grandfather, Thomas Watt, was Bailie of the Barony of Cartsburn.

Portrait of James Watt (1736-1819)
by Carl Frederik von Breda

Robert Burns was invited to stay at the estate at the invitation of the 4th Baron, Thomas Crawfurd of Cartsburn.  He later mentioned the Baron in his work.
Jean Adam’s published poems of 1734 were dedicated to the Baron of Cartsburn.

Robert Burns (25 January 1759 – 21 July 1796)

To the south of Crawfordsdyke lay the House of Cartsburn the principal messuage of that barony and seat of the Crawfords of Cartsburn.  
The earliest account of Cartsburn is in Hamilton of Wishaw’s ‘Accompt of the Sheriffdom of Renfrew’ published in 1710.  
He wrote “The town is mostly sub-feud to merchants, seamen, or loading-men, who have built very good houses in it, and it is a very thriving place.”  
The residence of the Crawfords of Carseburn was Cartsburn Mansion House which survived until around 1900 when it was demolished and replaced by Cartsburn School.  

Cartsburn Mansion House

Crawford of Carseburn feud certain of his lands to the merchants, shipmasters and manufactures, that were increasing settling in and around Greenock as the town expanded as from the late seventeenth century.  Among them was John Spreull, known as Bass John, an apothecary and merchant from Glasgow.  
Spreull was imprisoned on the Bass Rock for six years around 1680 on the basis of his Covenanting sympathies. Later he was an apothecary and merchant in Glasgow who feued land in the High Street of Crawforddyke from Crawford of Cartsburn.

The Royal Fishing Company 1670 to 1684 based in Greenock brought prosperity and established Greenock as a port, especially in the transatlantic trade.  
Greenock was ideally sited to serve industry and commerce in west central Scotland. Greenock benefited from a deep water port while that of Glasgow suffered from requiring constant dredging. The rise of transatlantic trade from the seventeenth century onwards generated a demand for ships.
Since 1711 the Scott family were building ships at Greenock and the industry was in part based at Cartsburn and Cartsdyke.
By 1904 Scotts’ Shipbuilding and Engineering Company Limited was one of the main shipbuilding companies on the Clyde.  
In 1836 Crawford of Cartsburn consented to Cartsdyke and Cartsburn being within the jurisdiction of the burgh of Greenock, and at the same time transferred his rights under the Crown Charter to erect and maintain a harbour at Cartsdyke.  
Greenock was keen to gain control over the land as it enabled the burgh to develop its harbour facilities the prosperity of which was being threatened through massive developments in the harbour facilities in nearby Glasgow

Thomas Crawford of Cartsburn died on 15 October 1695, his first wife was Jane, daughter of John Maxwell of Auldhouse, they had two daughters Marion and Mary.
Marion married William Walkingshaw of Scotstoun, while Mary, married Alexander Yuill of Darleith.

Thomas married twice, his widow was Jean, daughter of Andrew Semple, and they had three sons, one of the sons was George Crawfurd, the compiler of The Peerage of Scotland.

The eldest son Thomas succeeded. He married firstly Rebeccca, daughter of John Barnes a Glasgow merchant; and had two daughters, Marion married Patrick Hunter of Hunterston, and Margaret, married Thomas Fleming a merchant in Rotterdam; secondly, Bethia, daughter of Archibald Roberton of Bedlay.
The second son was Hugh Crawford of Woodside, and the third son was George Crawford, the Histiographer of Scotland

Thomas Crawford of Cartsburn, died in 1743, for whom there is a testament dated 29 November 1743, was succeeded by his second son Archibald, who married Margaret, daughter of John Cunningham of Cadell in 1739, and were parents of Bethia.  His first son Thomas, an advocate, died in 1732 and left a widow Cecilia Forbes but no children.

The barony then fell into the hands of another Thomas Crawford. He died on 24 September 1791; see his will confirmed in Glasgow on 22 October 1791, and his aunt Christina Crawford, widow of Robert Arthur a merchant in Greenock, succeeded.  
Christina Crawford of Cartsburn died on 30 April 1796 and her heir was her daughter Christina.  This Christina was the wife of Thomas MacKnight of Ratho in the Lothians, and mother of William.  William MacKnight adopted the surname Crawford, and was served heir to his father Thomas MacKnight of Ratho who died on 19 April 1811.  
His mother Christian Crawford of Cartsburn died on 12 April 1818. William Crawford of Cartsburn died on 4 November 1855 and was succeeded by his son Thomas MacKnight Crawford.  Christian Crawford, born 1780 and died 1862, the eldest daughter of Thomas MacKnight of Ratho, married Thomas MacKnight, born 1762, died 1836, a minister in Edinburgh and in 1820 Moderator of the Church of Scotland.

The last Crown Charter for this barony was granted 12th May 1858 to their son Thomas McKnight Crawford.  

In 2008 the barony was trasferred by Alan Howard Crawfurd Colls (as senior heir and joint holder with his brother Richard Andrew Colls, for both of whom the Barony was held in trust 1958–1974) to Mr. Mark Paul Lindley-Highfield of Ballumbie Castle, who had the dignity for short time until 1° December 2010 when it was trasferred to Dr. Pier Felice degli Uberti.


The Barony of Cartsburn in the Baronage of Scotland was erected into a barony, and a burgh of barony with the privilege of a weekly market and several fairs, in favour of Thomas Crawford of Cartsburn by a charter of Charles II dated 16 July 1669 (NAS Ref. C2/62/1/57), when the lands of Cartsburn in the Parish of Easter Greenock in the Shire of Renfrew were erected in liberam baroniam, as a free Barony held of the Prince and Great Steward of Scotland .[1][2].
The estate of Cartsburn, also known as Crawfurdsburn, incorporated the lands of Cartsdyke, or Crawfurdsdyke, and part of the lands of Easter Greenock Castle.

[1] Williamson, G. (1894). Old Cartsburn: being a History of the Estate from the Year 1669, downwards, with notices of the families of Kilbirnie, Jordanhill and Cartsburn and Excerpts from the Baron Court Book of Cartsburn. Paisley: Alexander Gardner.
[2] Weir, D. (1829). History of the town of Greenock. London: Whittaker & Co.

The last Crown Charter for the Barony of Cartsburn was granted on 12th May 1858 to Thomas McKnight Crawfurd of Cartsburn and Lauriston Castle, 8th Baron of Cartsburn (1856-1909)




on 11st August 2008



on 1st December 2010

I, Mark Paul Lindley-Highfield of Ballumbie Castle residing at Seaton Old Hall, Seaton Ross, York, YO2 4N as the person entitled to the Dignity of the Barony of Cartsburn as aftermentioned DO HEREBY ASSIGN transfer and make over to Dr Pier Felice degli Uberti residing at Via Mameli, 44 – 15033 Casale Monferrato, Italy my whole right and entitlement to ALL and WHOLE the Dignity of the Barony of Cartsburn including all rights and privileges appurtenant thereto, which Barony was granted to Thomas Crawfurd of Cartsburn in a Charter under the Great Seal dated Sixteenth July One thousand six hundred and sixty nine and subsequently re-granted to Thomas MacKnight Crawfurd as evidenced by Crown Charter in his favour dated Twelfth May Eighteen hundred and fifty eight in which Crown Charter the said Barony was described as ALL and WHOLE the Lands and Barony of Cartsburn extending to a forty shilling land of old extent with the manor place, houses, buildings, yards, orchards, mills, woods, fishings, tenants, tenandries and services of free tenants and other parts, pendicles, privileges and pertinents of the same and specially free ish and entry to and from the muir of Greenock with bestial and for other uses and to the mosses and marches thereof proportionally and corresponding to the said lands of Cartsburn and according to use and wont: As also that part of the said lands called Crawfurdsdyke or Cartsdyke with the houses, buildings, yards and pertinents thereof as well as in property as in superiority and the privilege and liberty of a free burgh of Barony called the burgh of barony of Crawfurdsdyke and of a weekly market and two yearly fairs the one in July the other in November within the said burgh and of a seaport and harbour therein with tolls, customs, casualities, immunities, privileges and others thereto belonging; as also the fishing of salmon, herring and other fishes whatsoever within the bounds of the said lands and opposite to the same in any place where the water of Clyde ebbs and flows, with nets, boats, cruives, yavis and other engines and contrivances proper for catching fish and all other jurisdictions, privileges, liberties, and immunities whatsoever belonging to the said Burgh of Barony, harbour and fishing: and also all and sundry the tythes great and small, parsonage and vicarage of the said lands all erected into a free barony called the Barony of Cartsburn; My claim of entitlement to the Dignity of the said Barony being founded on (one) an Assignation in my favour by Alan Howard Crawford Colls and Richard Andrew Colls dated Twenty Seventh June and Second July and registered in the Scottish Barony Register on Fifth August, both months Two thousand and Eight (Volume 1 Folios 91 – 92) and (two) the prior writs narrated in the Inventory annexed to the said Assignation in my favour; And I grant warrandice: IN WITNESS WHEREOF


Mark Paul Lindley-Highfield of Ballumbie Castle

On the 1st
Day of December

Two Thousand and Ten

In the presence of

Alison J. Fielden.          Witness (Notary)

ALISON J. FIEKDEN.     Full Name

…………………………       Address




In favour of



Craxton & Grant SSC
1 Station Road
Bridge of Weir PA11 3LH
DX: 591753
Tel: 01505 610612
Fax: 01505 610613

Note relating to the baronies – Court of the Lord Lyon

The following Note was attached to a Warrant issued by the Lord Lyon King of Arms of date 1 December 2009 granting Armorial Bearings to Mark Paul Lindley-Highfield of Ballumbie Castle, Baron of Cartsburn:


In his Note dated 15th May 2006 refusing the Petition of Margaret Hamilton of Rockhall, Baroness of Lag, as regards the appropriate form of baronial additaments, Lord Lyon Blair also considered what evidential value might attach to an entry in the private and unofficial “Scottish Barony Register” which had been established as a means of recording the transfer of quondam feudal baronies following the coming into force on 28th November 2004 (“the appointed day”) of the Abolition of Feudal Tenure etc (Scotland) Act 2000.  Section 63 of that Act dissociates such baronies from both jurisdiction and land.  The Act, however, preserves the dignity of baron, but enacts that after the appointed day any such dignity shall be transferable only as incorporeal heritable property.  Lyon Blair indicated that he was not disposed to accept an entry in this private register as proof that a Petitioner was entitled to the dignity of baron.  He noted the difficulty in regard to verifying both the existence and the ownership of a barony since the appointed day given the lack of an official public register.  The Scottish Barony Register was a private register with no statutory basis which offered no guarantee of the validity of any claim and was not covered by any government indemnity providing protection from error or fraud.  It had been established as a company limited by guarantee, one of the directors being Mr Brian Hamilton who was well-known as being active in the purchase and sale of baronies.  Lyon Blair was also critical of some of the terms and conditions attached to registration.  He concluded, “I do not consider that a private Register, managed by a person appointed by a private company with no public scrutiny, and operated under terms which allow complete discretion as to what evidence is to be provided, is an acceptable source of evidence in an application before the Court of the Lord Lyon.”       
Lyon Blair’s ruling in that Petition was subsequently subject to judicial review.  When the review reached court, the parties were able to agree a statement as regards the appropriate form of baronial additaments, to which the Court interponed authority.  That agreement, however, did not include consideration of the evidential value of the Scottish Baronial Register.  Accordingly Lyon Blair’s comments on this still stand.  I am persuaded that there is considerable force in Lyon Blair’s reasoning and am not prepared to accept an entry in the Scottish Baronial Register as being, in itself, sufficient proof of ownership of the barony in question.  I appreciate, however, the unsatisfactory nature of the present position in relation to baronies and the need to explore further options.  In the meantime I am persuaded that I can regard the present Custodian of the private register, Mr. Alistair Rennie, as a man of skill, and am prepared to take his approval as Custodian of the registration of the ownership of a particular barony, as evidenced by the company registration stamp, coupled with a confirmatory statement to Lyon Office from Mr. Rennie himself, as being, in principle and for aught yet seen, sufficient proof of the existence and ownership of the barony in question.  It is on this basis that I have determined that the Petitioner is entitled to the dignity of baron of Cartsburn for aught yet seen.    

(signed)     David Sellar

Note relating to petitions for Grants of Arms by persons owning a dignity of baron


The Lord Lyon King of Arms wishes to advise as follows regarding Petitions for the Grant of Arms:

‘In respect of future Petitions for Grants of Arms by persons owning a dignity of baron which has been acquired post the appointed day (that is, 28 November 2004), provided that the Lord Lyon determines that the dignity of baron exists, that the petitioner is a virtuous and well deserving person and determines to exercise his discretion in their favour to grant arms the Lord Lyon will, (1) if so required, officially recognise the petitioner as “Baron of [the barony]” and (2) grant them ensigns armorial with a helmet befitting their degree, namely the helmet assigned to the barons.
When a petitioner has no connection with Scotland that otherwise brings the petitioner within the jurisdiction of the Lord Lyon, Lyon accepts that subject to other relevant considerations he will accept the ownership of a dignity of a barony as sufficient to bring the petitioner within his discretionary jurisdiction to grant arms to that person as a person who will require to bear arms in Scotland by reason of his ownership of the dignity.

General guidance regarding Baronial Additaments and Territorial Designations

The Lord Lyon has issued the following general guidance regarding Baronial Additaments and Territorial Designations:
Guidance regarding Baronial Additaments
Guidance has already been posted on this website as regards those who acquire baronies after “the appointed day” (28th November 2004), that is, the day when the Abolition of Feudal Tenure etc. (Scotland) Act 2000 came into force: namely, that such barons will be granted a helm appropriate to their degree, that is, to the dignity of baron, and will be recognised in the style of “baron of X”.

Barons who were granted a chapeau Gules or, it may be, a mantle before the appointed day may, of course, continue to display these additaments.  Looking to history and heritage, it is proposed that those who succeed to such baronies after the appointed day as heirs should continue to enjoy a red chapeau as an appropriate additament, and also a mantle if that has been granted before.
Armigers formerly entitled to a chapeau Azure, or to supporters as representatives of baronial houses who had a seat in Parliament until 1587, continue to be so entitled.

Guidance regarding Baronial Officers
In view of the separation of quondam feudal baronies from both land and jurisdiction after the appointed day, it no longer seems appropriate to grant additaments to baronial officers, for example, baron bailies or baron sergeants, or to regard such appointments as being sufficient to bring the person so appointed within Lyon ’s jurisdiction.

Guidance regarding Territorial Designations
A territorial designation proclaims a relationship with a particular area of land.  The classic case where a territorial designation is appropriate, where recognition is sought from the Lord Lyon in connection with a Petition for Arms or for change of name, is where there is ownership of a substantial area of land to which a well-attested name attaches, that is to say, ownership of an “estate”, or farm or, at the very least, a house with policies extending to five acres or thereby, outwith a burgh.  In such a case recognition of a territorial designation should not present a problem.  Nor should there be a difficulty when a new owner obtains possession of the named property.  Difficulty may arise, however, when a new owner has bought property to which no generally recognised name attaches.  In such a case some years of ownership under a suitable name would seem appropriate before a territorial designation can be recognised.  In this last case there will usually be a residence on the property, or the possibility of obtaining planning permission for such a residence.

David Sellar
Lord Lyon King of Arms
5 January 2010

Lord Lyon’s Note in the Petition of George David Menking concerning Feudal Dignities

The Lyon Court has published on its website the attached Note prepared by Dr Joseph Morrow, Lord Lyon, in respect of  the Petition  of  George  David Menking, Feudal Lord of the Garioch.  In addition to the specific comments relating  to  Mr  Menking’s  Petition  Lyon  Morrow  also  makes  a  number  of generai comments which are relevant to any future Petitions and to current Petitions in respect of which the Warrant for Letters Patent has not been issued.

The pertinent points in Lyon Morrow’s  Note are as follows:-

• Lyon has confirmed that he is content to follow the existing practice of accepting  registration  in  the  Scottish  Barony  Register   as  proof  of ownership as long as the Custodian is “a person of skill”. Lyon will therefore continue to play no role in establishing the legai validity of a feudal dignity, and the issuing of Letters Patent  by him will, as now, have no relevance in relation to the validity of a Petitioner’s  legai title. (paragraph 5)

• Ownership and registration of a feudal dignity brings the holder within the jurisdiction of the Lyon Comi and allows the holder to petition for Arms.  Lyon states unequivocally that “this is the primary function ofthe Lord Lyon in such matters.”  (paragraph 8)

• In relation  to the recognition of  future Petitioners  who fall within his jurisdiction by reason of ownership of a feudal dignity Lyon will adopt the same “common sense and pragmatic way forward” as he is proposing to adopt in relation to Mr Menking.  (paragraph 21)

• Lyon  Morrow  has now  addressed  the previously  contentious  issue  of “other feudal titles”.  Section 63 of the Abolition of Feudal Tenure etc. (Scotland) Act 2000 refers “any other dignity or office (whether or not of feudal origin)” however the Act gives no guidance as to what is being refened  to. To  answer  the  question  of whether  these  can  be held  to include the dignities of Feudal Lord, Feudal Earl and Feudal Marquis Lyon has looked to the institutional writers and to more modem case law for guidance and on the basis of these concludes that “In essence the higher dignities are ofthe genus ofBarony”. (paragraphs 24 and 28).

• On the basis that (a) Barony  is a generic term which includes Feudal Baronies, Lordships, Earldoms and Marquisates, (b) Lyon’s  function is purely jurisdictional and (c) such matters fall within his discretion Lyon has decided that in future Petitions for Arms proceeding on the basis of ownership of any form of Barony should include wording of recognition along the following lines:-

“By Deed of Assignation recorded in the Scottish Barony Register, the Petitioner holds the Barony/Lordship/Earldom or Marquisate of X being of the genus Barony, which ownership brings the Petitioner within the jurisdiction ofthe Lord Lyon, Kingof  Arms”.  (paragraph 30)

• The  effect  of  Lyon’s  Note  is  that  by  endorsing  the  decision  of  the Custodian of the Scottish Barony Register Lyon will acknowledge a Petitioner  as  the  ‘Baron/Feudal  Lord  /Feudal  Earl  or/Feudal  Marquis of…… ‘ in conformity with the wording in the Crown Chatter which the

Petitioner  presented  to the  Custodian  of  the Scottish Barony  Register when applying for registration of his/her Assignation.

• Lyon has confirmed that he intends to continue the practice of granting the additament of the Great Helm to Feudal Barons but does not intend to re-introduce the other additaments granted prior to 2004.

• In  conclusion  Lyon’s  Note  appears  to end the uncertainties  of  recent years and will give potential purchasers of Scottish feudal dignities the comfort of knowing exactly what the Lyon Court’s policy is in relation to such dignities.

Note issued with Warrant for Letters Patent from Lord Lyon King of Arms in the application of


of date 21 August 2014

  1. The Petition was lodged on 21st  August 2014.   The Petitioner seeks to be officially recognised in the name George David Menking, Lord of the Garioch with a grant of Arms suitable and according to the Law of Arms, to himself and his descendants, together with all the additaments appropriate to the dignity of Lord in the Baronage of Scotland.

    2.    In considering this petition, I had before me the following evidence:-

    (i) Registration in the Scottish Barony Register dated 11 December 2012, registered 12 December 2012.

    (ii)  Assignation by Mark  David  Menking  in  favour  of  George  David  Menking, registered in the Scottish Barony Register 12 December 2012 Volume 2, folio 112.

    (iii) Correspondence from the Petitioner’ s agent (Lindsays Edinburgh) dated 21 August 2014, 28 October 2014, email of 9 December 2014.

    3.    After outlining the questions outstanding for me, I asked for submissions from the agent and a letter of the 28 October 2014, noted above, provided those submissions.

    4.    The issues in this Petition related to the status of the ‘ Lordship and Regality of the Garioch’ as well as the question of feudal and other dignities in general.  The central legal point being whether such ownership of the Lordship and Regality of the Garioch is sufficient to bring the Petitioner within the jurisdiction of the Lord Lyon for the granting to him of Arms.

    5.    My starting point for considering these matters is the present practice and law. The Scottish Barony Register is the only register for the Lord Lyon to have reference to in these matters, albeit a non-statutory register.   The present practice was established by previous Lord Lyons. The practice is that ‘ a person of skill’ who is at present the Custodian of the Register (Mr Alistair Rennie) provides a report based on an examination of a prescriptive progress of title that the owner is entitled to the dignity.  This system has in practice operated efficiently and effectively in relation to baronies.  I am content to follow this practice as long as the present Custodian is ‘ a person of skill’ .  I noted that the Register is a ‘ Barony Register’ and, as such, is protecting the dignity and legal entity of barony in Scots Law.  The Abolition of Feudal Tenure etc. (Scotland) Act 2000 (‘ the 2000 Act’ ) at Section 63 led to the Register being set up.

    6.    The part of the question before me relates to the extension of the practice to other dignities which may be covered by the words in Section 63 ‘ or any other dignity or office (whether or not of feudal origin)’ . Section 63 states:-

    Baronies and other dignities and offices
    (1) Any jurisdiction of, and any conveyancing privilege incidental to, barony shall on the appointed day cease to exist; but nothing in this Act affects the dignity of baron or any other dignity or office (whether or not of feudal origin).

    (2) When, by this Act, an estate held in barony ceases to exist as a feudal estate, the dignity of baron, though retained, shall not attach to the land;  and on and after the appointed day any such dignity shall be, and shall be transferable only as, incorporeal heritable property (and shall not be an interest in land for the purposes of the Land Registration (Scotland) Act 1979 (c.33) or a right as respects which a deed can be recorded in the Register of Sasines).

    (3) Where there is registered, before the appointed day, a heritable security over an estate to which is attached the dignity of baron, the security shall on and after that day (until discharge) affect—

    (a) in the case of an estate of dominium utile, both the dignity of baron and the land; and

    (b) in any other case, the dignity of baron. (4) In this section—
    “ conveyancing privilege” includes any privilege in relation to prescription;

    “ dignity” includes any quality or precedence associated with, and any heraldic privilege incidental to, a dignity;  and

    “ registered” has the same meaning as in Part 4 of this Act.

    7.    A review of the available correspondence between the Lyon Office and the Scottish Barony Register does not include discussions of Lordships, Territorial Earldoms or other dignities.  I have noted that previous Lord Lyons have made grants of Arms on this basis.  I am not bound by these previous decisions and, as far as I can see, these were decided on a case by case basis. They are also relatively few in number and spread over a number of years. For the sake of clarity I do not regard these decisions as setting any precedent.

    8.    I also observe that the 2000 Act is silent on dignities and captures them only using the words towards the end of Section 63 (ii). In the established recent practice the dignity of barony establishes for its owner jurisdiction to petition the Lord Lyon for a grant of Arms. This is the primary function of the Lord Lyon in such matters.

    9. I turn now to address the question of the nature of the Lordship and Regality in Scots Law.  It is my opinion from the Institutional Writers and textbook writers that Baronies and Regalities are to be considered together.  The dignity of a Regality was the highest feudal dignity and included higher jurisdictional rights and privileges as well as all the privileges of barony.

    10.  The principle source from the Institutional Writers is Bankton (see II. III, 83, 95, 96, 97 and 106). He writes:

    “ 83 – Baronies and Regalities come next to be considered … This leads me to the distinction of fees Noble and Ignoble … Noble fees, are those which conferred nobility to persons vested in them;  these were baronies and regalities;  and anciently all nobility, in the modern states proceeded from such fees;  thus the title of baron included Duke, Marquis and Earl, as well as that of Lord.  All barons were equally entitled, as lords of parliament, to sit and vote on it; … Some persons of greater merit or interest with the Sovereign, were vested with higher privileges than barons by erection of their lands into regalities…

    95 – Regality was  the  highest  feudal  dignity … The erection of  lands to a Dukedom, Marquisate or Earldom, did not extend the jurisdiction and privileges beyond those of a barony, which is called Feudal Lordship, unless there were likewise erected into a regality …

    96 – Besides the rights and privileges included in a barony, divers other Regalia, and valuable
    Franchises, were implied in a regality …

    97 – ‘ Lords of Regality…’ [NB: The style used to describe the person]

    106 – … for Regality, as the greater, implied all the privileges that were included in Barony, which is the lesser dignity …”

    11.  This position is further strengthened by the view of Erskine, (see Institutes I. IV. 7 & 10)
    where he states:

    “7 – Regalities were feudal rights of land granted by the king in liberam regalitatem; so that regality jurisdictions, while they subsisted, were properly territorial, and attendant on the lands.  The grantees, though commoners, were called Lords of Regality, on account of the high and regal  j urisdiction implied in these grants …  No lands  could  fall  under  this jurisdiction but such as belonged either in property or superiority to the grantee …

    10 – … for the erection of lands into an earldom or lordship imports no higher jurisdiction than barony, D Montrose, 9 July 1713, M. 10, 919 …”

    12.  It is my opinion that these passages, especially the Bankton references at paragraphs 96 and 106, help me conclude that a Regality was a higher form of Barony and that it included “ the rights and privileges included in a barony” .

    13.  Green’ s Encyclopaedia of  the Law  of  Scotland  (Dunedin  Edition,  Vol  12  p  359 paragraph 398) refers to “ the Lordship of Regality” and states “ 753 – Regality was the highest feudal dignity, and, in addition to all the privileges of barony, included …” .

    14.  These sources apply only to a grant of a Regality prior to the Abolition of Heritable Jurisdictions Act, 1747, (‘ the 1747 Act’ ). In summary, prior to 1747 a grant of a Regality was the grant of a heritable right, which included all the rights and privileges of a barony. A Lord of Regality is therefore a feudal baron with higher jurisdictional rights and other privileges.

    15.  With regard to the effect of the 1747 Act on the Lordship and Regality I am of the opinion on a proper construction of the 1747 Act, that “jurisdiction, powers, authorities and privileges” relating to the Regality were abolished.  I am, however, also of the opinion that this did not affect the baronial rights and privileges which were inherent in the Regality.  In essence, after the 1747 Act Regality became a barony and, at a more specific level, Lords of Regality became Barons.
    16.  I should also note that, whilst agreeing that it is arguable that they retained the right to be called ‘ Lords of Regality’ but only with the jurisdiction of a baron, I am not persuaded by that position.  I am of the opinion that, while Lords of Regality were abrogated by the 1747
    Act, they continue to retain the dignity of baron. They are a genus of barony.

    17.  I have reached my opinion on this matter, taking into account that the enactments which take away rights are to be strictly limited, and if there is any ambiguity the construction which is in favour of the freedom of the individual should be adopted.   This provision of Section 1 of the 1747 Act states:

    “ That all heritable jurisdictions, and all regalities … belonging unto, or possessed or claimed by any subject or subjects, and all jurisdictions, powers and privileges thereunto appurtunent or annexed or dependent thereupon, shall be, and they are from and after the twenty-fifth of March in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and forty-eight, abrogated, taken away, and totally dissolved and extinguished.”

    18.  I am of the opinion that the 1747 Act at Section 24 did not intend to deprive a Lord of
    Regality of his baronial jurisdiction. I refer to Section 24 which states:

    “ Provided always … that all and every person and persons who shall appear to have been lawfully possessed … of any such justiciary, regality, or other jurisdiction hereby abrogated, shall … retain such jurisdiction of barony, or other lower jurisdiction, as such person or persons would have been entitled to, in case of such jurisdiction, regality or other jurisdiction had never been erected, granted or existed…” .”

    19.  In summary on this issue I am of the opinion as a proper construction of the 1747 Act that while jurisdiction, authorities and privileges pertaining to the Regality were abolished, the Act did not affect the baronial rights and privileges.  A Lord of Regality in the context of Scots Law today is a baron.

    20.  On the basis of the established practice in the Lyon Court, I accept jurisdiction on the basis that a Lord of Regality is of the genus of baron and would grant Arms accordingly. The grant would be based on the established present practice with regard to additaments.  It is worth noting that the Scottish Barony Register have offered to make such entries in the Register Minute Book and Style of Assignation to include the words ‘ being of the genus Barony’ .   This is a pragmatic way forward and if all the proofs are in order allows me to accept jurisdiction and grant Arms to owners of such dignities.

    21.  With regard to the aspect of the Petition which deals with the ‘ official recognition of the Petitioner in  the  name George David Menking, Lord of  the Garioch’ ,  I have sought a common sense and pragmatic way forward, bearing in mind that in Scotland anyone is at liberty to call themselves what they wish subject to it not being the intention to deceive another person, for example to avoid bankruptcy by becoming someone else.  Further, in the context of this petition the recognition of feudal titles such as a ‘feudal Lordship’ is a matter for the discretion of the Lord Lyon.

    22.  Let me now turn, for the purpose of completeness, to the subject of ‘ other feudal titles’ in terms of Section 63 of the 2000 Act.  These titles include the dignities of feudal lord, feudal earl and feudal marquis where such titles are established on the basis of a Crown Charter.

    23.  There  are  a  number  of  decisions  where  previous  Lord  Lyons  have  recognised the existence of such titles. There are only a few such petitions and I have carefully examined those petitions in which these issues were addressed. Bearing in mind that I am not bound by the decisions of previous Lord Lyons and the petitions on these matters have turned on the facts and circumstances of the petition, I have decided to review the approach of the Lyon Court on these matters.

    24.  As might be expected, the legal basis for such petitions can be found in the writings of various institutional writers and in the case law.

    25.  In ‘ Jus Feudale’ Craig states at 1.12.15:

    “ Dukes, marquesses, and earls are all comprehended among the barons, and originally they were all known under the latter description;  but as the number of barons increased and the distinction attached to the title was correspondingly diminished the newer style of dignity into request.”

    Craig states clearly that dukedoms, marquisates, earldoms and baronies are all of the genus of barony.

    26.  The case of Spencer Thomas of Buquhollie v Newell 1992 SLT 973 provides us with a summary of the institutional writers in the opinion of Lord Clyde. His lordship also gives use a core analysis of the nature of a barony and other dignities.

    27.  The opinions of Craig, Stair and other leading institutional writers are summarised by Lord Clyde in his seminal decision in Spencer Thomas of Buquhollie v Newell, in which he provided a concise analysis of the nature of a Barony and the more noble dignities of Lordship and Earldom:

    “ Before going further I should say something about the nature of a barony in Scots law.  A barony is an estate of land created by a direct grant from the Crown. the original grant is said to have ‘ erected’ the lands into a liberia baronia, a free-hold Barony (Bell’ s Principles, s.750). The right can be conferred only by the Crown and cannot be transmitted by the baron to be held base of himself (Bells’ s Dictionary (7th ed.), p.99; Bankton’ s Institute, II.iii.86).   In feudal classification a barony falls into the class of noble as opposed to ignoble feus.  That classification is discussed by Craig (Jus Feudale, I.x.16) and Bankton (II.iii.83).  In Scotland the distinction was recognised between the greater barons and the lesser barons, the former acquiring such titles as Duke or Earl.  It was at the earliest a territorial dignity as distinct from the later personal peerage.  Thus when one was divested of an estate the title of honour ceases (Bankton, II.iii.84).  In the feudal system, however, whether the dignity was that of a baron or of the greater dignity of an earldom, the feudal effects were the same (Erskine’ s Institute, II.iii.46).  As Stair put it (Institutions, II.iii.45): “ Erection is, when lands are not only united in one tenement, but are erected into the dignity of a barony; which comprehendeth lordship, earldom, & c. all of which are but more noble titles of a barony; having the like feudal effects” .  The grant of barony carried with it the right to sit in Parliament, but as the number of lesser barons increased, steps were taken from 1427 onwards to restrict attendance to a selected number of them (Erskine’ s Institute, I.iii.3).   The grant in liberam baroniam also carried a civil and criminal jurisdiction (Erskine’ s Institute, I.iv.25).  But Erskine also states that while such an erection or confirmation is necessary to constitute a baron ‘ in the strict law sense of the word’ , all who hold lands immediately of the Crown to a certain yearly extent are barons in respect of the title to elect or be elected into Parliament (Institute, I.iv.25).” 1

    28.  Lord Clyde therefore states the legal position in 1992, namely that a barony in a generic sense was a noble feu and that there were distinctions within the barony which are sometimes referred to as higher dignities.  In essence the higher dignities are of the genus of barony.  If so proved, taking into account section 63 of the 2000 Act, any petitioner with such dignity would come under the jurisdiction of the Lord Lyon and could be considered for a grant of Arms.  It should be noted that the additaments would be as a baron and the wording on the Letters Patent with regard to jurisdiction would be in similar wording to those later in this note. The law establishes that such higher feudal dignities are of the genus of barony.

    29.  I also note that in the past baronies have been recognised in the Letters Patent under the signature of the Lord Lyon as–

“ baron of X for aught yet seen”

  1.  I have reached the opinion that for this Petition the wording of recognition should be:
    ‘ By Deed of Assignation recorded in the Scottish Barony Register, the Petitioner holds the Lordship and Regality of the Garioch being of the genus of barony, which ownership brings the Petitioner within the jurisdiction of the Lord Lyon, King of Arms.’

    31.  As this recognition gives an appropriate recognition to the dignity and clearly identifies the jurisdictional basis, I can proceed to consider the granting of Arms to the Petitioner.  I would propose to adopt this jurisdictional approach with all future petitioners involving feudal and other dignities, as these matters fall to be dealt with under the discretion given to the Lord Lyon. I have also concluded that the approach I am adopting is appropriate to the practice of this area of law in the 21st Century.  I note for the sake of completeness that my
    decision in this Petition will apply to this Petition and to any further petitions involving feudal dignities or any other dignities.  I also considered if this change in practice has any implications in terms of the European Convention on Human Rights (1953) and have concluded it does not.

    32.  The findings in fact in this Petition are as follows:-

    (i) The Petitioner is the owner of the Lordship and Regality of the Garioch being of the genus Barony;
    (ii) The Petitioner has established jurisdiction to be granted Arms by the Lord Lyon;
    (iii)  The Petitioner’s grant of Arms will follow the established practice of the Lyon Court after the 2000 Act;
    (iv)  The Petitioner’s Arms will reflect the additaments at present in practice for the dignity of a baron;
    (v) The Petitioner’ s Letters Patent will recognise the Petitioner as the holder of the
    Lordship and Regality of the Garioch being of the genus Barony.

    33.  I have reached the findings in fact for the following reasons:

    (i)  The documentary evidence lodged supports the findings;
    (ii) The Law on Lordship and Regality dignities establishes the dignity today as of the genus of barony.

    34.  I have reached my understanding in this Petition after considering the totality of the evidence before me including that of the Institutional writings and the relevant case law.  I also considered the submissions made by the Petitioner’ s agent in the correspondence.  The burden of proof rests with the Petitioner and he has discharged that burden to the extent that the Petition should be allowed, but only to the extent that–

    (i)  the Petitioner be granted Arms to himself and his descendants with the additaments appropriate to a baron; and

    (ii) the Petitioner’s Recognition be in the following terms:
    ‘ by Deed of Assignation recorded in the Scottish Barony Register , the Petitioner holds the Lordship and Regality of the Garioch being of the genus of barony, which ownership brings the Petitioner within the jurisdiction of the Lord Lyon, King of Arms.’

    35.  The Petition is therefore allowed in terms of paragraph 32 (i) and (ii).

Joseph John Morrow
Lord Lyon

Dated: 30 April 2015
1992 SLT 973 at 976B


here labelled ‘Kar Burn’, depicted on an early map, Blaeu’s first Atlas of Scotland of 1654

Margaret Hamilton of Rockhall v Lord Lyon King of Arms [2019] CSOH 85

Margaret Hamilton of Rockhall v Lord Lyon King of Arms [2019] CSOH 85

In this Commercial Action, the pursuer sought declarator that under an agreement concluded in 2008 between the pursuer and a former Lord Lyon King of Arms in settlement of previous litigation between them, the current holder of that office was bound to use particular wording in Letters Patent granting arms to persons holding barony titles.  Under section 63 of the Abolition of Feudal Tenure etc. (Scotland) Act 2000, estates held in barony ceased to exist as feudal estates, but the “dignity” of baron was unaffected.  Since that Act came into force, successive holders of the office of Lord Lyon King of Arms have developed different practices in relation to the wording of formal Letters Patent by which the Lord Lyon grants arms to those persons presently entitled to the dignity of baron.  The 2008 Heads of Agreement by which the pursuer settled judicial review proceedings against the then Lord Lyon included paragraphs dealing with the exercise of the Lord Lyon’s discretion in future petitions by other persons seeking a grant of arms appropriate to the dignity of baron.  The Commercial Judge, Lady Wolffe, heard argument on various interesting points of law, including the nature of the office of Lord Lyon, the pursuer’s title and interest, and whether an agreement of the type pled by the pursuer would be contra bonos mores.  The Court held that the relevant parts of the Heads of Agreement did not have contractual effect but merely articulated a practice that the then Lord Lyon proposed to follow in future.  Accordingly, those parts of the agreement could not give rise to rights capable of being vindicated by the pursuer against the current holder of the office of Lord Lyon. 

Mark Lindsay Q.C. appeared for the pursuer and James Mure Q.C. appeared for the defender.

5 November 2019