Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V16, Page 508 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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EARLS OF LEVEN AND MELVILLE. The family of Melville which now holds these two earldoms is descended' from Sir John Melville of Raith in Fifeshire. Sir John, who was a member of the reforming party in Scotland, was put to death for high treason on the 13th of December 1548; he left with other children a son Robert (1527-1621), who in 1616 was created a lord of parliament as Lord Melville of Monymaill. Before his elevation to the Scottish peerage Melville had been a stout partisan of Mary, queen of Scots, whom he represented at the English court, and he had filled several important offices in Scotland under her son James VI. The fourth holder of the lordship of Melville was George (c. 1634-1707), a son of John, the 3rd lord (d. 1643), and a descendant of Sir John Melville. Implicated in the Rye House plot against Charles II., George took refuge in the Netherlands in 1683, but he returned to England after the revolution of 1688 and was appointed secretary for Scotland by William III. in 1689, being created earl of Melville in the following year. He was made president of the Scottish privy council in 1696, but he was deprived of his office when Anne became queen in 1702, and he died on the 20th of May 1707. His son David, 2nd earl of Melville (1660-1728), fled to Holland with his father in 1683; after serving in the army of the elector of Brandenburg he accompanied William of Orange to England in 1685. At the head of a regiment raised by himself he fought for William at Killiecrankie and elsewhere, and as commanderin-chief of the troops in Scotland he dealt promptly and effectively with the attempted Jacobite rising of T708. In 1712, however, his office was taken from hint and he (lied on the 6th of June 172S. Alexander Leslie, 1st earl of Leven (q.v.), was succeeded in his earldom by his grandson Alexander, who died without sonsin July 1664. The younger Alexander's two daughters were then in turn countesses of Leven in their own right; and after the death of the second of these two ladies in 1676 a dispute arose over the succession to the earldom between John Leslie, earl (afterwards duke) of Rothes, and David Melville, 2nd earl of Melville, mentioned above. In 1681, however, Rothes died, and Melville, who was a great-grandson of the 1st earl of Leven, assumed the title, calling himself earl of Leven and Melville after he succeeded his father as earl of Melville in May 1707. Since 18o5 the family has borne the name of Leslie-Melville. In 1906 John David Leslie-Melville (b. 1886) became 12th earl of Leven and 11th earl of Melville. See Sir W. Fraser, The Melvilles, Earls of Melville, and the Leslies, Earls of Leven (1890); and the Leven and Melville Papers, edited by the Hon. W. H. Leslie-Melville for the Bannatyne Club (1843).

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