Francis Mackenzie, 1st Baron Seaforth

Lieutenant-General Francis Humberston Mackenzie, 1st Baron Seaforth FRS FRSE FLS (9 June 1754 – 11 January 1815) was a British politician, soldier, and botanist. He was Chief of the Highland Clan Mackenzie, as which he raised the renowned 78th (Highlanders) Regiment of Foot.

Francis Mackenzie, 1st Baron Seaforth
Francis Humberston Mackenzie.jpg
Lord Seaforth by Sir Thomas Lawrence
Born9 June 1754
Died11 January 1815
AllegianceUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branchFlag of the British Army.svg British Army
Battles/warsFrench Revolutionary Wars
Lord Seaforth by Thomas Lawrence, Figge Art Museum, Davenport IA, USA

Early lifeEdit

Mackenzie was the second son of Major William Mackenzie (d. 12 March 1770), who was the son of the Hon. Alexander Mackenzie, and the grandson of Kenneth Mackenzie, 4th Earl of Seaforth.[1] Francis's mother was Mary, the daughter and heiress of Matthew Humberston of Humberston, Lincolnshire.

On the death of his elder brother Colonel Thomas Frederick Mackenzie Humberston in 1783, Francis Mackenzie became the last male heir of the attainted Earls of Seaforth.[1] When he was about twelve years of age, Francis contracted scarlet fever, which incurred the loss of his ability to hear and almost all of his ability to speak. As a consequence, he was known as MacCoinnich Bodhar (Deaf Mackenzie in Gaelic).[2]

Political and Military careerEdit

From 1784 to 1790, and again from 1794 to 1796, Seaforth was Member of Parliament for the County of Ross.

In 1787 he offered to raise a regiment on his own estates to be commanded by himself. The government declined his patriotic offer but accepted his services in procuring recruits for the 74th and 75th. On 19 May 1790 he renewed his offer but the government again declined his services. When war broke out in 1793 he offered for a third time and a letter of service was granted in his favour dated 7 March 1793 empowering him as Lieutenant-Colonel-Commandant to raise a Highland Battalion to be called 78th (Highlanders) Regiment of Foot.[2]

He was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ross-shire and was raised to the peerage of Great Britain as Lord Seaforth, Baron Mackenzie of Kintail in the County of Ross on 26 October 1797.[3] In 1798 he was appointed Colonel of the Ross-shire Regiment of Militia.

Seaforth served as Governor of Barbados from 1800 to 1806, during which period he reformed slavery on the island, established a prohibition of the killing of slaves, and reduced official discrimination against free blacks.[2] As Governor of Barbados, Seaforth appointed Thomas Moody, a mathematical expert, from a distinguished British imperialist family,[4] who taught at Codrington College,[4][5] to a direct commission in the Royal Engineers,[6] which Moody entered as a lieutenant in 1806.[4] Seaforth was made a Lieutenant-General in 1808.[2]

Avocational lifeEdit

In 1794 Seaforth was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society for his contributions to botany. The genus Seaforthia was named after him. In 1795 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, also as a consequence of his contributions to botany: his proposers were Daniel Rutherford, Alexander Monro (secundus), and John Playfair. He was also a Fellow of the Linnean Society, and served as Extraordinary Director of the Highland Society.[7]

Alexander III being rescued from the fury of a stag by Colin Fitzgerald

In 1796, Mackenzie gave £1,000 to Sir Thomas Lawrence to Lawrence's financial difficulties. Lawrence later painted a full-length portrait of Seaforth's daughter, Mary.

Lord Seaforth commissioned Benjamin West's painting "King Alexander III of Scotland being rescued from the fury of a stag by the intrepidity of Colin Fitzgerald".[8]

Walter Scott said of him:

The last Baron of Kintail, Francis, Lord Seaforth was a nobleman of extraordinary talents, who must have made for himself a lasting reputation had not his political exertions been checked by painful natural infirmities.[9]

Seaforth nearly recovered entirely the use of his tongue, but during the last two years of his life, which he spent mourning the deaths of his four sons, he rarely spoke.[2]


The grave of Mary Proby, Lady Seaforth, Holyrood Abbey

Mackenzie married, 1782, Mary Proby, daughter of The Very Rev Baptist Proby, 7th Dean of Lichfield and Mary Russel. Mary was the niece of John Proby, 1st Baron Carysfort and sister of Rev. Charles Proby.

Francis's four legitimate sons all predeceased him as predicted by the Brahan Seer. However, he had an illegitimate child with a local woman in Demerara (now known as Guyana). Mackenzie has several surviving descendants from that union. His legitimate children were:


  1. ^ a b Sir James Balfour Paul, The Scots Peerage, volume VII (Edinburgh, David Douglas, 1910), at pages 513–514
  2. ^ a b c d e "Humberston, Francis Mackenzie" . Dictionary of National Biography. 1885–1900.
  3. ^ "No. 14052". The London Gazette. 7 October 1797. p. 968.
  4. ^ a b c Rupprecht, Anita (September 2012). "'When he gets among his countrymen, they tell him that he is free': Slave Trade Abolition, Indentured Africans and a Royal Commission". Slavery & Abolition. 33 (3): 435–455. doi:10.1080/0144039X.2012.668300. S2CID 144301729.
  5. ^ "Codrington College, Barbados: Important Dates".
  6. ^ Schomburgk, Sir Robert H. (1848). The History of Barbados. Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans.
  7. ^ Biographical Index of Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783–2002 (PDF). The Royal Society of Edinburgh. July 2006. ISBN 0-902-198-84-X.
  8. ^ "King Alexander III of Scotland being rescued from the fury of a stag by the intrepidity of Colin Fitzgerald" National Gallery
  9. ^ "The Fulfillment of the Seaforth Prophecy". p. 89. Retrieved 26 February 2017.


  • Mackenzie, Alexander (1894). History of the Mackenzies. Inverness: A & W Mackenzie.
  • Sidney Lee (ed), Dictionary of National Biography (1891), London, Smith, Elder & Co

External linksEdit

Military offices
Preceded by
New regiment
Colonel of the 78th (Highlanders) Regiment of Foot
Succeeded by
Alexander Mackenzie Fraser
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
John Mackenzie
Member of Parliament for Ross-shire
Succeeded by
William Adam
Preceded by
William Adam
Member of Parliament for Ross-shire
Succeeded by
Sir Charles Lockhart-Ross
Government offices
Preceded by
William Bishop, acting
Governor of Barbados and [Governor of Demerara]
Succeeded by
John Spooner, acting
Honorary titles
New title Lord Lieutenant of Ross-shire
Succeeded by
Sir Hector Mackenzie
Peerage of Great Britain
New creation Baron Seaforth
Preceded by
Thomas Frederick Mackenzie Humberston
Chief of Clan Mackenzie
Succeeded by