Correspondence relating to John Maitland, 2nd Earl of Lauderdale, 1st Duke of Lauderdale (1616-1682)

Scope and Content

The collection is composed of: transcripts (nineteenth century) of correspondence with John Leslie, 7th Earl of Rothes, 1660-1671; transcripts of correspondence with James Sharp, Archbishop of St. Andrews, circa 1660-1678; correspondence with Sir R. Moray, 1663-1667; letters and other papers relating to the murder of James Sharp, 1679-1680; and, a chapter on Lauderdale's Parliament in Revolutions in the Church of Scotland.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Maitland was born at Lethington (now Lennoxlove, East Lothian) on 24 May 1616. He was the son of John, 2nd Lord Maitland of Thirlestane, 1st Earl of Lauderdale (d. 1645), and the great-nephew of William Maitland of Lethington (c. 1528-1573), Secretary to Mary, Queen of Scots. Like most of the nobility in Scotland, and largely for career reasons, he signed the National Covenant - an instrument which affirmed a direct Scottish relationship with God and without Kings and Bishops as intermediaries. In 1641 he represented the Scottish Assembly in London and was a Commissioner for the Solemn League and Covenant and for the effort to take the instrument through Parliament. By 1647 however, Maitland was one of three Commissioners (the others were John Campbell, 1st Earl of Loudoun, and William Hamilton, Earl of Lanark) who secretly engaged to support the return of Charles I to London and the throne in exchange for his support for Presbyterianism in England. Maitland had also privately assured the King that the Covenant would not be pressed. Though a little ahead of its time, the 'Engagement' broke the unity of the Covenanters and in 1648 the 'Engagers' themselves were defeated at Preston, though Maitland was not present there. In 1650 he was in the Netherlands persuading Charles II to come to Scotland for coronation. He followed the King southwards to England and was taken prisoner at Worcester in 1651 and was held at the Tower of London until 1660 and Charles' Restoration. Now quite close to the King, Maitland contested for power over Scottish affairs. His aim was to make the Crown absolute both in State and Church. During the two decades that he wielded power, corruption and deceit were manifest, and any positions of power were occupied by himself or his friends. Maitland succeeded to the Earldom of Lauderdale in 1645 and was created a Duke in 1672. In 1674 he became Earl of Guildford and Baron Petersham. He remodelled the ancestral Thirlestane Castle, at Lauder, Berwickshire, between 1670 and 1676. John Maitland, 2nd Earl of Lauderdale, 1st Duke of Lauderdale died at Tunbridge Wells in August 1682. He was buried at Haddington, East Lothian, on 5 April 1683. Maitland died without an heir and Lethington was sold to Charles Stewart, Duke of Richmond and Lennox. When Stewart's wife, Frances (a favourite of Charles II), died in 1702, she willed that Lethington be called Lennoxlove. It is now the home of the Duke of Hamilton. Thirlestane is still the home of the Earls of Lauderdale.

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of national biography. Vol. 12. Llwyd-Mason. London: Smith, Elder, and Co., 1909. (2) Keay, John. and Keay, Julia (eds.). Collins encyclopaedia of Scotland. London: Harper Collins Publisher, 1994.

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division.

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.


Check the local Indexes for details of any additions.

Related Material

The local Indexes show various references to material related to John Maitland, 2nd Earl of, and 1st Duke of Lauderdale, in the Laing Collection (check the Indexes for more details): papers, autographs of the Lauderdale family 1637-1695, at La.II.129; letter to Sir W. Purves, 1676, at La.II.561; letters to the Dukes and Duchesses of Lauderdale, 1657-1696, La.III.354/1-2; also letter to Lauderdale from the Earl of Lothian, 1663, at La.II.553; letter from Lady Napier, 1670, at La.II.362; Some particular matters of fact relating to the administration of affairs in Scotland under the Duke of Lauderdale, 1679, La.II.563; verses on Lauderdale, La.II.69, f.33 and f.40; and, papers of Lauderdale mentioned in a letter, 1878, at La.IV.17.

In addition, the UK National Register of Archives (NRA), updated by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, notes: correspondence and papers, 1661-1686, Private, Ref. GD224 NRA 6184 Montagu-Douglas-Scot, see NRA(S)1275; papers, National Archives of Scotland, Ref. GD224/173 NRA 34806 Buccleuch, and correspondence with Sir William Bruce (10 items), 1665-1673, Ref. GD29 NRA 29953 Bruce; correspondence and papers, Buckminster Park, NRA 23003 Tollemache; correspondence and papers, British Library, Manuscript Collections, Ref. Add MSS 23108-38, 23240-51, 25125, 32094-95; letters to him, mainly as Secretary of State, National Library of Scotland, Manuscripts Division, Ref. Acc. 10442, and correspondence and papers, Ref. Cat of Mss, vols 1-2,1938, 1966, and in-letters and miscellaneous papers, 1661-1691, Ref. Adv MSS 81 1 12-14, and miscellaneous correspondence, 1669-1675, Ref. MS 13500, and letters (128) from Archbishops James Sharp and Alexander Burnet, 1660-1681, Ref. MS 2512, and also correspondence with the 1st and 2nd Marquesses of Tweeddale, 1660-1678, Ref. MSS 6406, 6503, 7003-7034, 7102-04 Passim.

In addition to Correspondence relating to James Maitland, 8th Earl of Lauderdale, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division, holds papers relating to James Maitland, 9th Earl of Lauderdale, at La.II.509; and, material mentioning James Maitland, 7th Earl of Lauderdale, at Dc.6.111, ff.17-18; A sound to the retreat of the Countess of Dysert, Lucinia, verses, at La.II.69, f.35; information against Charles Maitland the 3rd Earl of Lauderdale, 1682-1683, at La.II.11; and, a letter and note relating to the Earl of Lauderdale, at Gen. 863/8/52-53 (check the Indexes for more details).