ALBANY, DUKES OF. The territorial designation of Albany was formerly given to those parts of Scotland to the north of the firths of Clyde and Forth. The title of duke of Albany was first bestowed in 1398 by King Robert III. on his brother, Robert Stewart, earl of Fife (see I. below); but in 1425 it became extinct. The dukedom was re-created, c. 1458, in favour of Alexander Stewart, “lord of Annandale and earl of March” (see II. below), whose son and successor (see III. below) left no legitimate heir. The title of duke of Albany was next bestowed upon Henry Stuart, commonly known as Lord Darnley, by Mary, queen of Scots, in 1565. From him the title passed to his son, James VI. of Scotland and I. of England. The title was by him given, at his birth, to Charles, his second son, afterwards King Charles I. By Charles II. it was again bestowed, in 1660, on James, duke of York, afterwards King James II. On the 5th of July 1716 Ernest Augustus, bishop of Osnaburgh [Osnabrück] (1715–1728), youngest brother of King George I., was created duke of York and Albany, the title becoming extinct on his death without heirs in 1728. On the 1st of April 1760 Prince Edward Augustus, younger brother of King George III., was created duke of York and Albany; he died without heirs on the 17th of September 1767. On the 29th of November 1784 the title of duke of York and Albany was again created in favour of Frederick, second son of George III., who died without heirs on the 5th of January 1827. The title of duke of Albany was bestowed on the 24th of May 1881 on Prince Leopold, youngest son of Queen Victoria (see IV. below).
I. Robert Stewart, duke of Albany (c. 1345–1420), regent of Scotland, was a son of King Robert II. by his mistress, Elizabeth Mure, and was legitimatized when his parents were married about 1349. In 1361 he married Margaret, countess of Menteith, and after his widowed sister-in-law, Isabel, countess of Fife, had recognized him as her heir, he was known as the earl of Fife and Menteith. Taking an active part in the government of the kingdom, the earl was made high chamberlain of Scotland in 1382, and gained military reputation by leading several plundering expeditions into England. In 1389 after his elder brother John, earl of Carrick, had been incapacitated by an accident, and when his father the king was old and infirm, he was chosen governor of Scotland by the estates; and he retained the control of affairs after his brother John became king as Robert III. in 1390. In April 1398 he was created duke of Albany; but in the following year his nephew David, duke of Rothesay, the heir to the crown, succeeded him as governor, although the duke himself was a prominent member of the advising council. Uncle and nephew soon differed, and in March 1402 the latter died in prison at Falkland. It is not certain that Albany was responsible for the imprisonment and death of Rothesay, whom the parliament declared to have died from natural causes; but the scanty evidence points in the direction of his guilt. Restored to the office of governor, the duke was chosen regent of the kingdom after the death of Robert III. in 1406, as the new king, James I., was a prisoner in London; and he took vigorous steps to prosecute the war with England, which had been renewed a few years before. He was unable, or as some say unwilling, to effect the release of his royal nephew, and was soon faced by a formidable revolt led by Donald Macdonald, second lord of the Isles, who claimed the earldom of Ross and was in alliance with Henry IV. of England; but the defeat of Donald at Harlaw near Aberdeen in July 1411 freed him from this danger. Continuing alternately to fight and to negotiate with England, the duke died at Stirling Castle in September 1420, and was buried in Dunfermline Abbey. Albany, who was the ablest prince of his house, left by his first wife one son, Murdac (or Murdoch) Stewart, who succeeded him as duke of Albany and regent, but at whose execution in 1425 the dukedom became extinct.
See Andrew of Wyntoun, The Orygynale Cronykil of Scotland, edited by D. Laing (Edinburgh, 1872–1879); John of Fordun, Scotichronicon, continued by Walter Bower, edited by T. Hearne (Oxford, 1722); and P. F. Tytler, History of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1850). See also Sir W. Scott’s Fair Maid of Perth.
II. Alexander Stewart, duke of Albany (c. 1454–1485), was the second son of James II., king of Scotland, by his wife, Mary, daughter of Arnold, duke of Gelderland. Created duke of Albany before 1458, he also received the lordship of the Isle of Man, and was afterwards captured by an English ship when journeying to Gelderland in 1468. He was soon released, and as he grew to manhood began to take part in the government and defence of Scotland, being appointed in quick succession high admiral, warden of the marches, governor of Berwick and lieutenant of the kingdom. Soon, however, he quarrelled with his brother, King James III. Some of his actions on the marches aroused suspicion, and in 1479 he was seized and imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle; but he soon made his escape, and reaching Paris in September 1479 was welcomed by King Louis XI. Louis, however, would not assist him to attack his brother the king, and crossing to England he made a treaty with King Edward IV. at Fotheringhay in June 1482. Like Edward Baliol, he promised to hold Scotland under English suzerainty in return for Edward’s assistance, and with Richard, duke of Gloucester, afterwards King Richard III., he marched at the head of the English forces to Edinburgh. Meanwhile his supporters in Scotland had seized James, and professed their readiness to recognize Albany, declaring at the same time their distrust of Gloucester. A compromise, however, was arranged, and the restoration of his lands and offices was promised to Albany, who in turn agreed to be faithful to James; but about the same time the duke with remarkable duplicity had sworn he would keep the treaty with Edward. Again he was appointed lieutenant of the kingdom, a truce was made with the English, and James, released from custody, restored his brother and created him earl of Mar and Garioch. The fraternal peace was soon disturbed. Failing to obtain possession of the king’s person, Albany renewed negotiations with Edward, and in February 1483 made a new treaty at Westminster on the lines of that of Fotheringhay. A fresh reconciliation followed between the brothers, but in July 1483, during Albany’s absence in England, he was sentenced to death for treason. After making a raid on Lochmaben he went to France, where in 1485 he was accidentally killed. Albany’s first wife was Catherine, daughter of William, third earl of Orkney and first earl of Caithness, who bore him three sons and a daughter. This marriage was dissolved in 1478, and as its issue was regarded as illegitimate the title of duke of Albany descended to John (see below), his only son by his second wife, Anne de la Tour d’Auvergne. daughter of Bertrand II., count of Auvergne and of Bouillon, whom he married in 1480.
III. John Stewart, duke of Albany (c. 1481–1536), regent Of Scotland, was born about 1481. He was brought up in France, where he owned large estates, and held the office of admiral of France. In 1515, at the request of the Scottish parliament, and in spite of Henry VIII.’s efforts to prevent him, Albany came to Scotland, was inaugurated regent in July, and proceeded to organize resistance to the influence of England and of Margaret Tudor, the queen dowager, sister of Henry VIII. In August he seized the latter and her children at Stirling, and subsequently was occupied in suppressing the rebellion of the Homes, Angus (the second husband of Margaret), and James Hamilton, earl of Arran; Alexander, third Lord Home, being beheaded in October 1516. Albany was declared on the 12th of November heir to the throne, and on the 6th of June 1517 he returned to France. In August he concluded the treaty of Rouen, by which the alliance between France and Scotland was renewed and a daughter of Francis I. was to marry James V., and next year he obtained the relaxation of certain dues on Scottish imports into France. Meanwhile Margaret had returned immediately on Albany’s departure, and disorders had broken out owing to the rivalry between Angus and Arran. Francis I. had secretly engaged himself to Henry VIII. not to allow Albany’s departure from France, but he returned at the close of 1521 and immediately became the object of Henry VIII.’s and Wolsey’s attacks. He reconciled himself temporarily with Margaret, supported her divorce from Angus, and was now accused by the English government, in all probability unjustly, of having seduced her and of harbouring schemes of marrying her himself, together with designs against the life of the young king. These accusations were repudiated by the Scots, and Henry’s demand for the regent’s dismissal refused. War broke out in 1522, and in September Albany advanced to within four miles of Carlisle with a large army. The Scots, however, showed unwillingness to fight outside their own frontiers, and Albany agreed to a truce and disbanded his troops. On the 25th of October he departed hastily to France, leaving the borders exposed to the enemy. On the 25th of September 1523 he once more landed in Scotland, bringing with him supplies from France and a considerable body of troops, and on the 3rd of November, after an unsuccessful attack on Wark, retreated hastily, and quitted Scotland finally on the 20th of May 1524. On the 30th of July his regency was terminated by the declaration of James V. as king. He accompanied Francis I. in his disastrous Italian campaign of 1525, being detached to make a diversion in Naples against the Spanish. Between 1530 and 1535 he acted as French ambassador in Rome, conducted Catherine de’ Medici, his wife’s niece, to Paris on her marriage to Henry (afterwards Henry II.) in 1534, and negotiated the marriage of James V.
The regent Albany was a singularly unfortunate commander in the field, but a successful ruler and administrator, and the Scottish court of session owed to him its institution. But he regarded himself more the subject of the king of France than of the king of Scotland, subordinated the interests of the latter state to the former, and disliked his official duties in Scotland, where the benefits of his administration were largely diminished by his want of perseverance and frequent absence. He appears to have been a man of honourable and straightforward conduct, whose character must be cleared from the aspersions of Wolsey and the English authorities. He married his cousin Anne de la Tour d’Auvergne, but left no legal issue, and all his honours became extinct at his death.
IV. Leopold George Duncan Albert, duke of Albany, eighth child and youngest son of Queen Victoria, was born on the 7th of April 1853. The delicacy of his health seemed to mark him out for a life of retirement, and as he grew older he evinced much of the love of knowledge, the capacity for study and the interest in philanthropic and ecclesiastical movements which had characterized his father, the prince consort. He matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford, in November 1872, living with his tutor at Wykeham House, St Giles’s, and diligently pursued his favourite studies of science, art and the modern languages. In 1876 he left the university with the honorary degree of D.C.L., and resided at Boyton House, Wiltshire, and afterwards at Claremont. On coming of age in 1874, he had been made a privy councillor and granted an annuity of £15,000. He travelled on the continent, and in 1880 visited the United States and Canada. He was a trustee of the British Museum, a bencher of Lincoln’s Inn, and continued to take an active part in the promotion of education and knowledge generally. Like his father and other members of his family he was an excellent public speaker. On the 24th of May 1881 he was created duke of Albany, earl of Clarence and Baron Arklow. On the 27th of April 1882 he married Hélène Frederica Augusta, princess of Waldeck-Pyrmont, and his income was raised by parliament to £25,000. Having gone to the south of France for his health in the spring of 1884, he was attacked by a fit, the cause or the consequence of a fall in a club-house at Cannes, on the 27th of March, and died very unexpectedly on the following morning. His death was universally regretted, from the gentleness and graciousness of his character, and the desire and ability he had shown to promote intellectual interests of every kind. He left a daughter, born in February 1883, and a posthumous son, Arthur Charles Edward, born on the 19th of July 1884, who succeeded to the dukedom of Albany, and who on the 30th of July 1900 became duke of Saxe-Coburg on the death of his uncle.