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fluential man was John, Earl of Lindsay, Lord High Treasurer of Scotland, the head of the Presbyterian and Covenanting party during the civil wars.
As he happened to have both his sovereign (Charles the First) and his chief (Earl Ludovic) very much in his power about the same time, he used influence amounting to compulsion to obtain a surrender of the Earldom of Crawford to the Crown, and a re-grant of it to himself, passing by the nearer Edzell and Balcarres branches. John Earl of Lindsay thus became, even before Earl Ludovic's death in 1671, Earl of Crawford and Lindsay.
In the course of a few generations the family of Edzell expired. The last head of the house of Lindsay of this branch died in 1744, in the capacity of hostler in an inn at Kirkwall, in the Orkneys. On his death, the Earl of Balcarres succeeded to the representation of the house of Lindsay; and, by the slow, though sure, justice of providence, the rightful heir has, at length, after a usurpation of a century and a half, been restored to his family honours. John, Earl of Crawford and Lindsay, the Treasurer, made an illustrious marriage with Lady Margaret Hamilton, sister of James and William, Dukes of Hamilton. From this marriage a line of earls descended, which failed on the death of George Lindsay Crawford, twenty-second Earl of Crawford and sixth Earl of Lindsay, in 1808.
During the last two or three generations, the surname of Crawford had been added to that of Lindsay, in consequence of the succession to the large estates of the knightly family of Crawford, of Kilbirney in Ayrshire, which formed a valuable addition to those of the Lindsays in Fifeshire. Earl George was succeeded in his great possessions by his sister, Lady Mary, who lived until December, 1833.
Lady Mary stood alone in the world, and as she had a decided feeling for the dignity of the Lindsays, and correctly judged the Earl of Balcarres to be the head of that house, her wish was, after her death, to place his family in the position of her late brother, as heirs to all his estates, as well as his honours. She therefore left her whole property, real as well as personal, to him and his accomplished and gifted son, Lord Lindsay. Her nearest relatives were six second cousins, (descended from ladies of the house of Crawford and Lindsay, two generations back, Lady Mary's great-aunts) viz., the Earl of Glasgow; the Right Hon. David Boyle, Lord Justice General of Scotland; G. Hamilton Dundas, of Duddingston; the Rev. John Hamilton Gray, of Carntyne, General Napier, and Admiral Sir Charles Napier. These
six gentlemen are the remaining descendants of the marriage of John, seventeenth Earl of Crawford, with the sister of the Duke of Hamilton. Lady Mary was unable to divert the succession to the entailed estates from the Earl of Glasgow, who accordingly inherited them. But her personal property, instead of being divided among her above-mentioned next of kin, was left to Lord Lindsay, as a token of regard to the head of the house. The Earldom of Crawford continued dormant from the death of Earl George, in 1808, until the claim of the Earl of Balcarres was proved good by the House of Lords, in 1848, when he became twenty-fourth Earl of Crawford. Since then, his lordship has advanced a further claim to the full honours of his ancient race, the earlier Dukedom of Montrose, and, if he be successful, he will be an older duke, by two centuries, than the present premier Duke of Scotland, and only three years junior to the Duke of Norfolk.
Having thus laid before our readers a sketch of the singular succession to this ancient and illustrious earldom, we will now shortly mention the very extraordinary peril which the honours and estates of the family underwent, of falling a prey to a cleverly concocted scheme.
Within two years of the death of the last Earl of the Lindsay branch, George, (the brother of Lady Mary,) in 1818, an individual of the name of John Crawfurd, landed in Ayr, from Ireland. He gave himself out to be a relation of the Earl of Crawford's family, and he even procured many genealogical notices concerning them. He then assumed the surname of Lindsay in addition to his patronymic of Crawfurd, and stated his descent to be from the Hon. James Lindsay Crawfurd, a younger son of the family who, about a century ago, had disappeared from Scotland, and whose fate seemed involved in some obscurity. If Mr. John Crawfurd had been successful in proving himself to be the descendant of this gentleman, he would have been Earl of Crawford and Lindsay ; and his claim to the large family estates would have been prior to that of Lady Mary, or, failing her, the Earl of Glasgow, the Justice General, Mr. Hamilton Dundas, Admiral and General Napier, and Mr. Hamilton Gray, the remaining descendants of her ladyship’s grand-aunts, and of their common ancestors, the Earl of Crawford and Lindsay, and the Duke of Hamilton's sister. From Ayr, Mr. Crawfurd proceeded to visit Kilbirney Castle, once the residence of the great knightly family of Crawford, and which had been for some generations the property of the Lindsay Earls of Crawford, and on account of which they had assumed the surname of Crawford.
Kilbirney had been burnt in the time of Lady Mary's father, and the family had subsequently lived entirely on their Fifeshire estates. However, Mr. Crawfurd discovered that many family papers and letters remained in an old cabinet, which, during the fire, had been deposited in an out-house, and had been there forgotten. To these papers he procured access; and among them he found a rare prize, many letters written by James Lindsay Crawford to various members of his family, after his disappearance from Scotland. Crawfurd had some clever accomplices, who aided him in fabricating additions which suited his story. These letters were written on the first and third pages; and, now, the blank second pages were filled up, in an exact imitation of the old hand, with matter so cleverly and artfully contrived as to give the most direct and satisfactory evidence in the pretender's favour. James Lindsay Crawfurd is made to describe his position and circumstances in Ireland, his marriage, the births of his children, &c. &c., and again and again to importune his rich and noble relatives for pecuniary relief.
Furnished with this evidence, supposed to be written by his alleged ancestor, and fortified