The Mormaer (/mɔːrˈmɛər/) or Earl of Buchan (/ˈbʌxən/) was originally the provincial ruler of the medieval province of Buchan. Buchan was the first Mormaerdom in the High Medieval Kingdom of the Scots to pass into the hands of a non-Scottish family in the male line. The earldom had three lines in its history, not counting passings from female heirs to sons. Today, it is held by the Erskine family as a peerage. The current holder is Harry Erskine, 18th Earl of Buchan (b. 1960).

Earldom of Buchan

  • Quarterly: 1st, Azure a Barrulet en crancelin of four Strawberry Leaves between three Garbs Or (Buchan); 2nd, Argent a Pale Sable in dexter canton a Rose Gules barbed and seeded Vert (Erskine); 3rd, Or a Lymphad Sable sails furled and oars in action and at the masthead a Beacon all proper surmounted of a Fess checky Azure and Argent charged with a Mullet of the second (Stewart of Buchan); 4th, Argent a Lion passant guardant Gules crowned with an Imperial Crown and gorged with an Open Crown Or a Label of three points of the second charged on the centre point with a Crescent of the third (Ogilvie of Auchterhouse); on an Escutcheon en surtout Gules an Eagle displayed Or armed and membered Azure looking towards the Sun in Splendour in dexter chief (Lordship of Cardross)
Creation date1469
Created byJames III of Scotland
PeeragePeerage of Scotland
First holderJames Stewart
Present holderHenry Erskine, 18th Earl
Heir apparentAlexander Erskine, Lord Cardross
Subsidiary titlesLord Cardross
Seat(s)Newnham House
Earldom of Buchan

The Arms of the Realm and Ancient Local Principalities of Scotland [1]

Mormaerdom of Buchan


The first recorded person who definitely held the position of mormaer was Gartnait, whose patronage is noted in the Gaelic Notes on the Book of Deer. The latter is the only significant source for the mormaerdom, and its existence makes Buchan one of Scotland's best documented provinces for native cultural institutions. After the death of Fergus, before 1214, Buchan became the first native mormaerdom to pass into the hands of a foreign family, the Comyns, though only through marriage. Alexander Comyn, Earl of Buchan inherited and continued his mother's title and line until it was conquered and forfeited during the Wars of Scottish Independence.

Former extent of the Earldom of Buchan

1374 creation


The title remained in crown hands until, later in the century, the title went to Alexander Stewart, the "Wolf of Badenoch". By this point, however, Buchan was drastically truncated and no longer a provincial lordship.

1469 creation


In 1469 the earldom was conferred on James Stewart. He was made Lord Auchterhouse at the same time, also in the Peerage of Scotland. Stewart was the second son of Sir James Stewart, the Black Knight of Lorn, and the younger brother of John Stewart, 1st Earl of Atholl (see Earl of Atholl, 1457 creation). The title descended in the direct male line until the death of his grandson, John, the third Earl, in 1551. John's only son by his first marriage, John Stewart, Master of Buchan, had been killed at the Battle of Pinkie in 1547. Buchan was therefore succeeded by his granddaughter, Christina, suo jure Countess of Buchan, the daughter of the Master of Buchan. She married Robert Douglas, son of Sir Robert Douglas of Lochleven and brother of William Douglas, 6th Earl of Morton. Robert assumed the title of Earl of Buchan in right of his wife. He was succeeded by his daughter, Mary, suo jure Countess of Buchan. She married James Erskine, younger son of John Erskine, Earl of Mar. James assumed the earldom in right of his wife. In 1617 they were created by Royal charter Earl and Countess of Buchan, with remainder to the heirs male of the marriage, whom failing, to the legitimate and nearest heirs-male and assignees of the Earl. In 1633 the precedence of the earldom was established by Act of Parliament as 1469. This line of the family failed on the death of their grandson, the eighth Earl, who died unmarried in 1695. The title passed by the terms of the 1617 charter to the heirs male of the 6th Earl i.e. to the heirs male of his younger brother Henry Erskine (see below). Since 1695, the earls of Buchan are not heirs of line of the 1st Earl of Buchan.[2]

The late Earl was succeeded by his kinsman David Erskine, 4th Lord Cardross, who became the ninth Earl. He was the great-grandson of Henry Erskine, younger brother of James Erskine, Earl of Buchan (of the 1617 creation; see Lord Cardross for earlier history of this branch of the Erskine family). His right to the earldom was acknowledged by the Scottish Parliament in 1698 and he later sat in the House of Lords as a Scottish representative peer. He was succeeded by his eldest surviving son, the tenth Earl. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society. His eldest surviving son, David, the eleventh Earl, was the founder of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland but is best remembered as an eccentric. The latter was succeeded by his nephew, Henry, the twelfth Earl, the son of Henry Erskine, Lord Advocate, third son of the tenth Earl. In 1850 Caroline, the wife of the 12th Earl, and David the 13th Earl, both converted to Roman Catholicism.[3]

The line of the twelfth Earl failed on the death of his great-grandson, the fifteenth Earl, who died unmarried in 1960. The fifteenth Earl was succeeded by his kinsman, Donald Erskine, 7th Baron Erskine, who became the sixteenth Earl. He was a descendant of Lord Chancellor Thomas Erskine, 1st Baron Erskine, fourth son of the tenth Earl (see Baron Erskine for earlier history of this branch of the family). As of 2022, the titles are held by the sixteenth Earl's grandson, the eighteenth Earl, who succeeded his father in that year.

The family seat is Newnham House, near Newnham, Hampshire.

List of titleholders


Early Mormaers/Earls of Buchan

Sarcophagus-effigy of Alexander Stewart, Earl of Buchan, at Dunkeld Cathedral, where he was buried.

Earls of Buchan; Second creation (1374)


Earls of Buchan; Third creation (1469)


Present peer


Henry Erskine, 18th Earl of Buchan (born 31 May 1960) is the elder son of the 17th Earl and his wife Hilary Diana Cecil Power. He was educated at Eton College and was styled as Lord Cardross between 1984 and 11 September 2022, when he succeeded to the peerages. In 1987 he married Charlotte Catherine Lucinda Beaumont, a daughter of Matthew Henry Beaumont and a granddaughter of Wentworth Beaumont, 2nd Viscount Allendale. They had two sons:[5]

  • Alexander Erskine, Lord Cardross (born 1990), heir apparent
  • Frederick Alastair Erskine (born 1992)

Family tree

Male-line family tree, Earls of Buchan, Earls of Traquair and Barons Erskine.
James Stewart
1st Earl of Buchan

Stewarts of Traquair
Alexander Stewart
2nd Earl of Buchan

died 1505
John Stewart
1st of Traquair
John Stewart
3rd Earl of Buchan

William Stewart
2nd of Traquair
died 1538
John Stewart
Master of Buchan
died 1547
Robert Stewart
3rd of Traquair
died 1548
John Stewart
4th of Traquair
died 1591
William Stewart
5th of Traquair
died 1605
James Stewart
6th of Traquair
died 1606
Robert Douglas
4th Earl of Buchan

died 1580
Christina Stewart
4th Countess of Buchan

John Stewart
younger of Traquair
died 1606
Earls of Traquair
John Douglas
5th Earl of Buchan

died 1547
John Erskine
19th/2nd Earl of Mar

John Stewart
1st Earl of Traquair

Mary Douglas
6th Countess of Buchan

died 1628
James Erskine
6th Earl of Buchan

died 1640
Henry Erskine
Master of Cardross

John Stewart
2nd Earl of Traquair

James Erskine
7th Earl of Buchan

died 1664
David Erskine
2nd Lord Cardross

William Stewart
3rd Earl of Traquair

Charles Stewart
4th Earl of Traquair

William Erskine
8th Earl of Buchan

died 1695
Henry Erskine
3rd Lord Cardross

Charles Stewart
5th Earl of Traquair

John Stewart
6th Earl of Traquair

David Erskine
9th Earl of Buchan

Charles Stewart
7th Earl of Traquair

Henry Erskine
10th Earl of Buchan

Charles Stewart
8th Earl of Traquair

David Erskine
11th Earl of Buchan


Henry Erskine
Thomas Erskine
1st Baron Erskine

Sir David ErskineHenry Erskine
12th Earl of Buchan

David Erskine
2nd Baron Erskine

Baron Erskine
David Erskine
13th Earl of Buchan

Thomas Erskine
3rd Baron Erskine
John Erskine
4th Baron Erskine
Shipley Erskine
14th Earl of Buchan

William Erskine
5th Baron Erskine
Ronald Erskine
15th Earl of Buchan

Montagu Erskine
6th Baron Erskine
Donald Erskine
16th Earl of Buchan

Malcom Erskine
17th Earl of Buchan

Henry Erskine
18th Earl of Buchan

born 1960

Alexander Erskine
Lord Cardross
born 1990

See also



  1. ^ Bartholomew Scotland of old : clan names map; the lands, the arms and the crests. 1983. ISBN 0-7028-1709-0
  2. ^ Scottish peerages were often changed by Royal charters, surrenders and regrants until 1707. Thus, the terms of the original remainder could be changed, as was done in 1617, or the precedence changed as was done by Parliament in 1633. In a few cases, such as the earldom of Buchan, the title was directed away from the heir of line of the original grantee to a stranger in blood.
  3. ^ Gorman Converts to Rome 1899 (4th edition)
  4. ^ McGladdery,p.7
  5. ^ Burkes Peerage, vol. 1 (1999), p. 62; vol. 1 (2003), p. 564


  • Anderson, Alan Orr, Early Sources of Scottish History: AD 500–1286, 2 vols. (Edinburgh, 1922), Vol. II, p. 180, n. 3
  • Jackson, Kenneth (ed.), The Gaelic Notes in the Book of Deer (The Osborn Bergin Memorial Lecture 1970), (Cambridge, 1972)[page needed]
  • Paul, James Balfour, The Scots Peerage, Vol. II, (Edinburgh, 1909)[page needed]
  • Roberts, John L., Lost Kingdoms: Celtic Scotland in the Middle Ages, (Edinburgh, 1997), pp. 55–6
  • Young, Alan, "Buchan in the 13th century" in Alexander Grant & Keith J. Stringer (eds.) Medieval Scotland: Crown, Lordship and Community Essays Presented to G. W. S. Barrow, (Edinburgh, 1993)[page needed]
  • Hesilrige, Arthur G. M. (1921). Debrett's Peerage and Titles of courtesy. London: London: Dean & son, limited. p. 148.