Lennox coat of arms
The peerage title Earl of Lennox has been created 6 times in British history, becoming extinct every time. The Earl of Lennox was elevated to Duke of Lennox in 1581.
The ancient Earldom of Lennox consisted of Dunbartonshire, and parts of Renfrewshire, Stirlingshire and Perthshire, and by the end of the 13th Century, the Earls of Lennox were among the most powerful nobles in the area. Malcolm McArkill, the fifth Earl was at the forefront of the struggle for Scottish independence, and he supported Robert the Bruce in his claim to the crown of Scotland. In 1296 he led his Lennox followers into England and besieged Carlisle.
Malcolm died in 1333, but his son was present when Bruce was crowned King of Scotland at Scone in 1371. Unfortunately, only 2 years after the coronation, he died with no direct male issue, so the earldom passed through his only daughter Margaret to Walter of Farlane (de Fasselane), who assumed the title Earl of Lennox on their marriage.
Margaret Lennox and her husband resigned the title to the crown in 1385, but it was re-granted to their son Duncan. His elder daughter Isabella, married Murdoch Stewart who was the 2nd Duke of Albany and Regent of Scotland between 1419 and 1425. During his time as Regent, the Duke presided over Scotland's decline into disorder, and his father murdered the king's (James 1) brother.
When James 1 returned from imprisonment in England, Lennox fell victim to the king's hatred for all those associated with Duke of Albany. The Earl paid a high price for his association with the Duke, because he was beheaded in May 1425 despite being in his eightieth year.
The Duke of Albany was also executed and his grieving Duchess and her son were imprisoned in Tantallon castle in East Lothian. The son, Walter de Levenax (Walter of Leven), was later transferred to the Bass rock, and then to Stirling where he was also executed. His mother was eventually allowed to return to her residence at Inchmurrin on Loch Lomond. Isabella's four sons all died without legitimate issue, and the line became extinct in 1459.
Afterwards the succession of the title was disputed, and the lands were divided. Margaret and Elizabeth, sisters of the Duke of Albany, both left descendants who laid claim to the vast estates. The Menteiths of Rusky descended from Margaret Lennox, and the Stewarts, later Lords Darnley, were descended from Elizabeth.
The Earldom was subsequently assumed by John, Lord Darnley in 1488. He sat in the first Parliament of James 1. In 1503, Matthew, the second Stewart Earl of Lennox, obtained from James 1V the hereditary sheriffdom of Dunbartonshire, which was made an adjunct of the Earldom. Matthew was later slain at the Battle of Flodden in 1513. The younger son of the 4th Stewart earl was Henry, Lord Darnley, the unfortunate husband of Mary Queen of Scots. When he married Mary, he became King Henry, but he was later murdered, and that set in motion the events which led to her execution at Fotheringay in 1587.
The title subsequently passed to James 1V along with other Darnley estates, which he granted to his uncle Charles - his father's younger brother. When he died without any male descendents, the title was bestowed on Esme Stuart (1542-1583), the son of John, Lord de Aubigny, a younger son of the 3rd Stewart Earl of Lennox and Governor of Avignon. In 1579 he was recalled to Scotland by James V1, and in 1581 was created the 1st Duke of Lennox and High Chamberlain of Scotland. His son, Ludovic, the 2nd Duke, was granted the additional title of Duke of Richmond in 1623. Once again the earldoms and estates died out, and by 1672 there was no direct line, so they were devolved to Charles 11 as nearest male heir. He conferred the dukedoms of Lennox and Richmond upon Charles Lennox, his illegitimate son. The present Duke of Richmond, Gordon and Lennox, proprietor of the famous Goodwood Race Course in England, is a direct descendent of Charles Lennox.
In the 19th century the Lennox family of Woodhead House, and later of Lennox-Castle Lennoxtown, claimed the right to succeed to the title and honours of the ancient earls of Lennox, and although their claims to the peerage were never formally established, they were recognized as the chief family of the name.
A daughter of the family, Miss Margaret Lennox wished to acquire the ancient title of Countess of Lennox, and petitioned the House of Lords to resurrect the title. "The case of Margaret of Woodhead in Relation to the title, Honours and Dignity of the Ancient Earls of Levenax and Lennox", was prepared for her by Mr Robert Hamilton of Gilkerscleugh, an Edinburgh advocate. The completed petition was printed for private circulation, but has become a valuable historical record in its own right. Miss Lennox was the recognized 'keeper' of the estates until her death in 1833. She was succeeded by her nephew, John Lennox Kincaid, son of John Kincaid of Kincaid, and Cecilia Lennox, younger sister of Miss Margaret. Their names were combined to Lennox Kincaid. On his succession he was obliged to assume the name Lennox, making him rather confusingly, John Lennox Kincaid Lennox.
Extent of the Earl of Lennox Estates
Woodhead House, the residence of the Kincaid Lennox family was considered by Mr. John Kincaid Lennox and his wife to be a little too 'lowly' for would be aristocrats, so they employed Glasgow architect David Hamilton to extend it for them. However, Mr. Hamilton thought the site and style of the existing mansion presented difficulties, and suggested that the plans to upgrade should be abandoned in favour of a new architecturally ornamental castle, with all refinement, style and comforts of the day. The Kincaid Lennox's wanted to remain in their ancestral home, so they overruled the suggestions of the architect. Their original ancestral home had been Ballcorrauch at the foot of the glen, but since this was now considered unsuitable as building land, they reluctantly agreed to Mr. Hamilton's idea of an entirely new building.
The petition to the house of Lords for the title Countess of Lennox which had been started on behalf of Miss Lennox, was continued with a view to restore the title Earl of Lennox to Mr. John Kincaid Lennox, and it seemed fitting that they should have a new title to go with their new house. It was decided that a building of Norman architectural style would be in keeping with the early origins of the family, which dated from the period of the Norman Conquest. The house was duly constructed during the period 1837-1841, and was named Lennox Castle. The castle was eventually sold to Glasgow Parish Council, later Glasgow Corporation by William George Peareth Kincaid Lennox in 1927.
With the completion of the castle, the question of what should happen to Woodhead arose. Mr. Lennox wished to raze the building completely, but his wife suggested it be partially demolished and left as an interesting ruin. Her plan was to plant the main section of the ruin with ivy and other climbing plants, and use the arched apartments of the ground floor as an ice-house. Mrs. Lennox won the day and her plans were put into action. The house was duly stored with ice, but when opened for a supply, on the occasion of a large party at the castle, not a bit was to be seen! The whole load had completely melted. The plan had failed because they had followed the wrong method of construction for an ice-house.
Old Woodhead stands in ivy -clad ruin just across the driveway form Lennox Castle, at the steep lip of the escarpment above the Glazert. it was a typical L-shaped tower-house, built in 1572. The remains which consist of the vaulted basements, first floor hall and part of the stair-tower of Woodhead House can still be seen today. It replaced the still earlier tower of Balcorrah, near the Clachan, where the Lennox Family lived before moving to Woodhead House.
Amongst the many moss-covered tombs and grave stones in the Clachan of Campsie churchyard, is the lofty, two-storey, domed 18th century burial-vault of the Kincaid-Lennox family. Few details can be seen except a flat arch on the west side bearing the date 1715 on the keystone. The upper storey is said to have been added by Miss Lennox early in the 19th century, and used by her as a waiting room between church services. When the vault was first built, coffins of the family were laid on stone shelves. This practice was later discontinued, and the interior was completely cleared at the funeral of Mrs. Kincaid Lennox in 1876, the last funeral to take place in the clachan. All the family remains now lie buried beneath the vault. The entrance to the vault is blocked by slabs which were formerly table tombs. One bears an inscription to James Kincaid, who died 13th of February1604, and the other also to a James Kincaid, who died 19th January 1606. Miss Margaret Lennox was buried there in 1832. The lintel on the entrance is marked 'closed 1884'.