Lindsay Earls of Crawford: the heads of the Lindsay family in late medieval Scottish politics, 1380-1453
Cox, Jonathan Mantele
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This thesis examines the careers of the first four Lindsay earls of Crawford, 1380-1453. Each of these four Scottish earls played an important role in Scottish politics, though they have not been closely examined since A. W. C. Lindsay’s Lives of the Lindsays, or a memoir of the Houses of Crawford and Balcarres, published in 1849. This is despite the fact that these men figured in some of the major events in late medieval Scotland. David 1st earl of Crawford can be linked to the murder of David Stewart duke of Rothesay in 1401-2. David 3rd earl of Crawford (d. 1446) was a marriage ally of William 6th earl of Douglas who was judicially murdered in 1440 by William Crichton and James Douglas earl of Avondale in 1440. Evidence suggests this marriage alliance was a factor in the decision to commit the murder. Alexander 4th earl of Crawford (d. 1453) was involved in the famous Douglas-Crawford-Ross tripartite bond which cost William 8th earl of Douglas his life. All of the first four earls were involved, in different ways, in the disputes to determine the succession of the earldom of Mar during their careers. Although the barony of Crawford was in Lanarkshire, the earls’ main sphere of influence was south of the Mounth, where they held lands stretching from Urie near present-day Stonehaven to Megginch near Perth. Glen Esk, their largest holding, was in Forfarshire, which was where they exerted the most influence. They also maintained a degree of influence in Aberdeenshire, where they were the hereditary sheriffs. A few factors explain their ability to maintain this sphere of influence. The first was an ability to call out a significant armed band of men, something which the first, third and fourth earls of Crawford are all recorded to have done. Most also had an income from annuities from various burghs including Aberdeen, Dundee, and Montrose totaling about £200, and they can be demonstrated to have owned a house in Dundee and maintained connections with burgesses there. This may suggest they were involved in trade. David Lindsay, 1st earl of Crawford (d. 1407), who used all of the above means to propel himself to the top ranks of Scottish politics, also promoted himself through active engagement with the culture of chivalry and crusade. This earned him much praise from the contemporary chronicler, Andrew Wyntoun. There are hints that the third and fourth earl may have maintained this interest as well.