The Earls Of Kintore


After George Keith, the last Earl Marischal, was stripped of titles and estates (1715), the next ranking Keith in Scotland was the Earl of Kintore. And upon the death of George (in 1778), Kintore became chief of the clan. This noble line derives from John, youngest son of William Keith, 6th Earl Marischal, and Lady Mary Erskine, daughter of John, Earl of Marr.

It was John that aided in the protection of the Scottish regalia at Dunnottar while under siege from Oliver Cromwell's forces. John assisted several women in smuggling the crown jewels away from the castle to nearby Kinneff Church, where they remained hidden until the restoration of the monarchy.

John Keith, for his extraordinary service, was immediately made Knight Marischal of Scotland (1660). By 1677, he was called to the King's council, and named as Earl of Kintore, Lord Keith of Inverury and Keith-hall, which titles remain still in his line. John also served as Lord Treasurer-Depute, and was one of the Lords of the King's Privy Council (1682).

John's son, William, became the 2nd Earl of Kintore. He married Katherine, daughter of David Viscount of Stirmont. William had two sons, John (who succeeded as 3rd Earl) and William, and two daughters, Lady Katherine (who married David Falconer of Newton, later Lord Halkerton) and Lady Jean.

William Keith, 4th Earl of Kintore, died without heirs, and so the titles and arms passed to the grandson of a sister... to Anthony Adrian, 8th Lord Falconer of Halkerton, 5th Earl of Kintore.

NOTE: The remaining account is excerpted from a 1999-article by The Countess of Kintore entitled "The Keiths". An excerpt was printed in Keith & Kin, Second Quarter 2001 and is excerpted again here.

"The Earldom of Kintore is unusual in that it can go through the female line which it did when [George Keith] died unmarried and the title passed to the second Earl of Kintore's daughter Catherine, who had married the 5th Lord Falconer. Their grandson Anthony Adrian, 8th Lord Falconer, became the 6th Earl of Kintore, and the family name became Keith-Falconer.

It was the 8th Earl, another Anthony Adrian, an intrepid horseman, who had the Keith Hall Foxhounds, and visited many of the surrounding estates with them in the North-East....

Ion Keith-Falconer, second son of the 9th Earl, was a champion bicyclist (1878). He once bicycled from Cambridge University to Keith Hall on a penny-farthing ( a 58 incher, built by Humber and Marriott, weighing 45lbs), which took him seven days and in 1978 the journey was reenacted, two of the bicyclists on penny farthings, and it still took the same time. Ion, besides being a Cambridge 'blue', was also a scholar, Professor of Arabic at Cambridge and went to Aden as a missionary where he built a hospital at Sheikh Othman and tragically died in 1887 of fever, aged 29. His older brother succeeded as the 10th Earl in 1880.

The 10th Earl of Kintore became Governor of Southern Australia (Adelaide) 1889-95. On his return to Keith Hall, the Royal Burgh of Inverurie presented him with the freedom of the Burgh. He was also a Lord-in-Waiting to Queen Victoria.

The 11th Earl who served with the Scots Guards married Helena Duchess of Manchester. Their herd of pedigree Jersey Cattle was one of the best known in the country; it was dispersed in 1962. He was a great planter and lover of trees and the whole of Tweedale hill was in trees until the gale of 1953 when they were all flattened and he was so disheartened that I believe he did no more planting.

They had no family and he was succeeded by his older sister Ethel Sydney (the second time in the Keith history that the succession had gone through the female line). She married John Baird of Ury, later 1st Viscount Stonehaven. He was Governor General of Australia 1925-1930, and the younger members of the family went with them. Their eldest son James Ian, later the 12th Earl of Kintore, went to visit his parents at Government House. His father had sent his military A.D.C. to Sydney to meet him, but they never met up due to the A.D.C. looking First Class and Ian having traveled steerage. He made his way from Sydney to Melbourne, but was looking so scruffy that on arrival at Government House he got ejected from the front door and sent to the tradesmen's entrance!

Followed by the 12th, 13th, and our present Chief, the 14th Earl of Kintore.


Nothing But My Sword by Sam Coull, 2000

Clan Keith by Alan McNie, 1986

Scottish Clan & Family Encyclopedia