The Earls Marischal

For centuries, the Keiths were distinguished for their responsibilities as protectors of civil liberty and their diplomatic prowess. Though their support for the ill-fated Stuart dynasty led to exile and the loss their estates, the name of Keith remains synonymous with the notion of an intrinsically Scottish nobility and valour.

The lineage of the Keith family extends as far back as the 12th century and the reign of King David I (1085-1153). Hervelus de Keth held half the lands of Keth in East Lothian and is the earliest recorded founder of the dynasty. The hereditary office of Marischal of Scotland, which entailed responsibility for victualling arrangements in the king’s hall, care of the royal stables and judicial, military and ceremonial duties, was conferred upon him. Hervelus or “Harvey” was known thereafter as Kethmarachal (c 1250) and his estates south of Edinburgh became known as Keith Marischal.

Sir Robert Keith (d.1343) succeeded to the lands and office in 1293 and was captured following a skirmish in Galloway in 1300. He submitted in support of King Edward I of England and became one of ten Scots chosen to represent Scotland in the English parliament held at Westminster in 1305.