Lord James Stuart (or Stewart), pictured left, eldest natural son of James V of Scotland, pictured right, was the half brother of Mary Queen of Scots. He was prominent during perhaps the most dramatic decade in Scottish history.
On Mary’s return from France James was her principal advisor and confidante. He strove to maintain stability in Scotland over a critical period of the Reformation.
In consequence, he was created 1st Earl of Moray by Mary in 1562 and granted many of the estates owned by the company today. The siblings’ relationship soured irretrievably over Mary’s ill-fated attraction to Darnley. After Mary’s defeat at the Battle of Langside, James ruled Scotland as Regent until his assassination in 1570.
The 1st Earl’s eldest daughter married James Stuart of Doune, thus uniting the two Stuart families. He became the 2nd Earl and is known to posterity for his gruesome murder at the hands of his hereditary enemies, the Gordon Earls of Huntly. The murder is still commemorated today in the old ballad “The Bonnie Earl O’Moray”, pictured above.
Over subsequent centuries the fortunes of the family ebbed and flowed.
The son of the ill-fated Bonny Earl, the 3rd Earl, was Lord Lieutenant in the North during the reign of James VI, the 5th was Secretary of State for Scotland before being deposed in the “Glorious Revolution”. The 6th and 7th were Jacobite sympathisers and the 9th is said to have planted 13 million trees over his lifetime.
The 10th Earl created the Moray estate in Edinburgh’s New Town centred on Moray Place and Ainslie Place. The 12th carried the sceptre for the Edinburgh procession of the Prince Regent in 1822. The 18th was a Royal Flying Corps fighter ace in the First World War and his younger brother, James Stuart, was in Churchill’s War Cabinet and was Secretary of State for Scotland in the 1950s.
The 20th Earl, whose father ranched cattle south of the Kalahari desert in Bechuanaland (now Botswana) and who conceived and founded the new town of Dalgety Bay in Fife passed away in 2011 and was succeeded by his son, formerly Lord Doune, as the 21st Earl of Moray. John, Earl of Moray lives with his family at Darnaway in Moray and has carried on the family’s town building tradition with the new town of Tornagrain.