Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Scrymgeour, James

SCRYMGEOUR, Sir JAMES (1550?–1612), of Dudhope, constable of Dundee, was descended from Sir Alexander Carron, called ‘Skirmisheour,’ who was standard-bearer to Alexander I (1106–1124), an office still held as hereditary by the representative of the family. Among Sir James's notable ancestors were Sir Alexander (d. 1310?), the companion-in-arms of Sir William Wallace, from whom he received confirmation of the estate of Dudhope and the office of constable of Dundee in 1298; Sir James, who fell at the battle of Harlaw in 1411; James (d. 1503), a prominent member of the Scottish parliament; and James (d. 1544), constable and provost of Dundee, and also a distinguished M.P. As the latter died without male issue, the succession fell to his cousin, John Scrymgeour of Glaister (d. 1575), who was the father of Sir James. He was returned as heir to his father's estates in 1576, and succeeded to the hereditary offices of constable of Dundee and ‘vexillarius regis.’ On 6 Feb. 1576 Scrymgeour was admitted burgess of Dundee, and for more than thirty years took an active part in national and municipal affairs. He was a man of indomitable will, unscrupulous in his exercise of feudal power, and tyrannical towards those who opposed him. His name appears with ominous frequency in the register of the privy council, to which complaints were repeatedly made of his oppressions. He considered that the office of constable of Dundee gave him arbitrary control of the burgh; and he often imprisoned in the dungeons of Dudhope Castle those who resisted his authority. On more than one occasion he was denounced as a rebel by the privy council, but his position as favourite of James VI enabled him to defy these sentences of outlawry. In 1582 he fell into the more perilous error of joining with the Gowrie party, and for this offence he was banished from the three kingdoms; but he fled to England and disregarded the futile attempt of the king to secure his exile from England and Ireland. In 1586 he returned to Scotland, and once more became the king's favourite. He formed one of the band of noblemen despatched to Denmark to arrange for the marriage of James VI with Anne of Denmark in 1589, and was present at the wedding ceremony in Opsloe, near Christiania, Norway. Scrymgeour was knighted for his services. After the death of James Haliburton (friend of the regent Moray) in 1588, Scrymgeour became provost of Dundee, and was afterwards twice reinstated in that office by the direct command of the king. He sat as a minor baron in four conventions (1594–1604), and represented Dundee in the parliaments of 1600 and 1605 and Forfarshire in those of 1605 and 1607. He was subsequently appointed one of the commissioners from Scotland to confer as to the union of the crowns, and seems to have enjoyed the full confidence of the king in this matter. His formal return as heir to the constableship was not made till 15 Dec. 1610, with the purpose of having his son's right to the office rendered indisputable. He was twice married: first, to Margaret, daughter of Sir Robert Carnegie of Kinnaird, who died childless; and, secondly, to Dame Magdalen Livingstone, widow of Sir Alexander Erskine of Gogar, who survived him and was mother of John (see below) (see Scottish Review, xxii. 350–1). Scrymgeour died at Holyrood on 13 July 1612.

He was succeeded by his son, John Scrymgeour, Viscount Dudhope (d. 1643). John did not take a leading part in politics. He represented Forfarshire in the parliaments of 1612, 1617, and 1621, and Argyllshire from 1628 till 1633. He was one of the Forfarshire barons that met James VI at Kinnaird when that monarch revisited Scotland in 1617. On 15 Nov. 1641 he was created Viscount Dudhope and Lord Scrymgeour by Charles I when in Scotland. By his marriage with Margaret Setoun of Parbroath, Fifeshire, he had two sons. His death took place on 7 March 1643.

He has often been confused with his elder son, James Scrymgeour, who succeeded as second Viscount Dudhope (d 1644), and took a more prominent part in politics. The latter's character nearly resembled that of his grandfather. He was admitted burgess of Dundee on 9 July 1619. He was an ardent royalist, and was with Charles I at Marston Moor, where he received what proved to be a mortal wound. He died on 24 July 1644, leaving a widow, Isabel Ker, daughter of the first duke of Roxburghe, two sons, and two daughters.

The elder son, John Scrymgeour, third Viscount Dudhope and first Earl of Dundee (d. 1668), was one of the royalist leaders during the civil war. In 1648 he joined with the Duke of Hamilton and General John Middleton, afterwards first earl of Middleton [q. v.], in the attempt to rescue Charles I, and was present in command of a troop of horse at the battle of Preston. He succeeded in escaping to Scotland after the royalist defeat. He attended Charles II at Stirling Castle in 1651, and marched with him to England on the expedition that terminated at Worcester. Again he escaped uninjured, and then he joined Middleton in the abortive campaign in the north in 1654. He was captured in the braes of Angus by a party of Cromwellian soldiers, and sent prisoner to London, where he was detained for some time. At the Restoration his loyalty was rewarded. He was made a privy councillor and created Earl of Dundee on 8 Sept. 1660. He survived till 23 June 1668. By his marriage in 1644 with Lady Anne Ramsay, daughter of William, earl of Dalhousie, he had no children, and the title became extinct. His widow married Sir Henry Bruce of Clackmannan, whose family is now represented by the Earl of Elgin and Kincardine.

[Douglas's Peerage, sub voce Scrymgeour; Register of Privy Council, vols. iii–viii.; Millar's Roll of Eminent Burgesses of Dundee, pp. 49, 83, 109, 164; Scrymgeour MSS. in Dundee Charter-room; Reg. Mag. Sig. 1546–1620; Foster's Members of Parliament of Scotland.]

A. H. M.