Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Livingstone, George (1652?-1695)

LIVINGSTONE, GEORGE, fourth Earl of Linlithgow (1652?–1695), born about 1652, was the eldest son of George, third earl [q. v.] As Lord Livingstone he actively supported his father in his military operations against the covenanters. He was lieutenant of the company known as the king's lifeguard, which was formed in 1661 of the sons of noblemen and gentlemen (Wodrow, History of the Church of Scotland, Burn's edit. i. 243); and he was promoted by the Duke of York in 1684 to be its captain, on the death of the Marquis of Montrose, in accordance with the duke's principle that vacancies in the army should be always filled by the next in command (Fountainhall, Historical Observes, p. 122). At the head of his company Lord Livingstone led the attack on the covenanters at Bothwell Bridge in June 1679 (Wodrow, History, iii. 106). A few years later he induced the privy council to entrust him with special powers to deal with covenanting delinquents in Linlithgow, where the burghal authorities had, in Livingstone's opinion, been deficient in vigour. He was accordingly appointed provost of Linlithgow, despite the act of parliament providing that the chief magistracy in burghs could only be held by a 'trafficking merchant' (Fountainhall, Historical Notices, pp. 452, 453, 469).

At the revolution Livingstone attended the convention of estates in Edinburgh on 14 March 1689 as the representative of Linlithgow, but the convention refused his commission on account of his being the son of a peer. When in April it declared for the Prince of Orange, he and Viscount Dundee left Edinburgh to raise forces in the interest of King James (Philips, Grameid, Scott. Hist. Soc., p. 44). Next day they were at Linlithgow under arms, and received a visit from a herald sent by the estates, charging them to lay down their arms and to appear before the convention within twenty-four hours under pain of treason. Livingstone, detaching himself from Dundee, obeyed the summons, and on giving his parole to live peaceably under the de facto government, he was permitted to retire to his own seat (Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, ix. 11, 14, 49, 71). Later in the same year he removed, attended by some twenty or thirty horsemen, to the residence of his brother-in-law, Lord Duffus, in Sutherland. This was construed into an intention of joining the highland army, and the council summoned him to Edinburgh. His explanations, however, were deemed satisfactory; and though he was placed as a prisoner for a day or two in Edinburgh Castle, he petitioned at the council's suggestion for the benefit of the indemnity, obtained it and his liberty, and, in spite of his Stuart sympathies, took the oath of allegiance to King William. In a letter to Lord Melville he maintained that he had always faithfully upheld the rights of the crown (Leven and Melville Papers, pp. 247, 272, 276, 280, 282, 291).

He succeeded on his father's death on 1 Feb. 1690 as fourth Earl of Linlithgow. A serious illness followed and produced changes in both his religious and political principles. He exchanged episcopacy for presbyterianism, and went to court to seek employment from the king. The Earl of Portland, William's confidential minister, at first doubted his intentions, but on receiving from Linlithgow a signed statement frankly setting forth the reasons for his conversion, procured him an interview with the king. William at once recognised in him statesmanlike capacity, and is believed to have contemplated appointing him lord chancellor of Scotland (Wodrow, Analecta, ii. 71). He was in 1692 sworn a privy councillor, and became a commissioner of the treasury. On 22 July 1695 he was granted the escheat of Urquhart, part of the Dunfermline lands (Register of the Privy Seal, manuscript), but he died on 7 Aug. following. He married Lady Harriet Sutherland, the eldest daughter of Alexander, lord Duffus, but having no issue by her the succession passed to his nephew James, earl of Callander.

[Douglas's Peerape of Scotland, ed. Wood, ii. 128; authorities cited.]

H. P.