Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Lindsay, Alexander (d.1454)

LINDSAY, ALEXANDER, fourth Earl of Crawford (d. 1454), surnamed the ‘Tiger Earl,’ and also ‘Earl Beardie,’ was the son of David, third earl of Crawford, by his wife Marjory, daughter of Alexander Ogilvie of Auchterhouse, Forfarshire. While master of Crawford he was appointed by the Benedictines of the abbey of Arbroath their chief justiciar, but on account of the expense incurred in supporting his retinue they deposed him, appointing in his place Alexander Ogilvie of Inverquharity, nephew of John Ogilvie of Airlie, who was supposed to have an hereditary right to the office. On this the Master of Crawford took forcible possession of the town and abbey, and the Ogilvies resolved on their part to expel him. Learning their approach, the Lindsays drew up in battle array before the gates of the town. Just as the two armies were about to close in battle on 13 June 1445–6, the old Earl of Crawford appeared suddenly between the two lines, endeavouring with voice and gesture to prevent the conflict; but before his intention was properly known he was struck by one of the Ogilvies in the mouth with a spear and mortally wounded. Greatly infuriated by the loss of their chief, the Lindsays impetuously attacked the Ogilvies, and soon routed them with great slaughter, and ravaged and burnt their lands; the feud thus originated was not extinguished for more than a century.

In 1446 Crawford was made hereditary sheriff of Aberdeen, and in 1451 a warden of the marches. He was now one of the most powerful nobles beyond the Tay, and when about this time he entered into a league with William, eighth earl of Douglas [q. v.], and MacDonald of the Isles for mutual defence against all men, James II, recognising that his rule was in serious jeopardy, resolved to thwart their purpose by the murder of Douglas, which was effected at Stirling on 21 Feb. 1452. Crawford thereupon assembled his forces at Brechin, with the view of intercepting the Earl of Huntly, lieutenant-general of the kingdom, on his march southwards to the assistance of the king against the Douglases. At the battle which took place there on 18 May 1452, Crawford, by the treachery of one of his vassals, suffered defeat just as victory seemed to be within his grasp. He fled to his castle of Finhaven. Sentence of forfeiture was passed against him, and the lordship of Brechin and the sheriffship of Aberdeen were transferred to Huntly; but for a time he not only defied these decrees, but revenged himself by ravaging the lands of his enemies, and especially of those who had deserted him in the battle. After the fall of the Douglases he came to see that further resistance was useless, and when the king made a progress through Forfarshire in 1453, he appeared before him in mean array, bareheaded and barefooted, to make his submission. Previously he had taken the precaution to make friends of Huntly and Kennedy, archbishop of St. Andrews, and through their intercession he received a free and full pardon. As, however, the king had sworn to make the highest stone of Finhaven the lowest, he went to the earl's castle and fulfilled his oath by pitching a loose stone from one of the highest battlements to the ground. Six months afterwards the earl died, in 1454, of a hot fever, and was buried in the family vault in Greyfriars Church, Dundee. By his wife, Marjory Dunbar, daughter of Sir David Dunbar, brother of George, earl of March, he had two sons—David Lindsay, fifth earl of Crawford and first duke of Montrose [q. v.], and Sir Alexander Lindsay of Auchtermonzie—and one daughter, Elizabeth, married to John, first lord Drummond, and ancestress of Darnley.

[Auchinleck Chron.; Histories of Buchanan, Leslie, and Lindsay of Pitscottie; Lord Lindsay's Lives of the Lindsays; Lindsay Pedigree, by W. A. Lindsay, in the College of Arms. Douglas in his Scottish Peerage, ed. Wood (i. 376), confounds the third and fourth earls.]

T. F. H.