Origins of the Clan

The name Seton is believed to be derived from the village of Sai in Normandy although other explanations have been suggested, such as from Tranent meaning “a sea town” which happens to have been in an area owned by the Setons.

The first known Seton was Alexander Seton who witnessed a charter of David I of Scotland in about 1150.



Wars of Scottish Independence

During the Wars of Scottish Independence his descendant also called Alexander Seton joined Sir Gilbert Hay and Sir Neil Campbell in defending the rights of King Robert I of Scotland. He was also later one of King Robert’s signatories at the Declaration of Arbroath. His son, Sir Christoper Seton married King Robert the Bruce’s sister. Christoper Seton is renowned for saving King Robert’s life when he was unhorsed at the Battle of Methven in 1306. However Christoper was later captured by the English and hanged in London.

Unfortunately the male blood line failed with an heiress, Margaret Seton who married Alan Winton after she was abducted by him. Their son William took the name Seton and became Lord Seton of Tranent. Their second son, Alexander Seton married Elizabeth the heiress of Sir Adam Gordon. Their son Alexander Gordon became the 1st Earl of Huntly.



Mary Queen of Scots

Of the main family, George, 5th Lord Seton supported Queen Mary of Lorraine against the Lords of the Congregation and was Master of the Household after Mary Queen of Scots returned to Scotland. He was responsible for the Palace of Seton which became a frequent home to Mary Queen of Scots, it was there she and Bothwell went after Darnley’s murder and here their marriage contract was signed. His sister Mary Seton was one of the Queen’s Marys and he was one of those who waited for Mary on the banks of Loch Leven when she escaped in 1568.



15th & 16th Century Clan Conflicts

The Clan Seton fought in support of the Clan Ogilvy who were also supported by men from the Clan Oliphant, Clan Gordon and men from the Clan Forbes of Pitsligo at the Battle of Arbroath on the 24th January 1445. Their enemey was the Master of Crawford and his Clan Lindsay who advanced with over one thousand men. The Earl of Crawford himself was the father of the Master of Crawford. The Earl rode in between the two armies in an attempt to call a truce. However, an illadvised Ogilvie, thinking that this was the start of the Lindsay’s attack, threw his spear at the Earl, hitting him in the mouth and killing him instantly. So the battle began which went in the Clan Lindsay’s favour. Here fell Ogilvie of Inverquharty, Forbes of Pitsligo, Brucklay of Gartley, Gordon of Borrowfield, and Oliphant of Aberdalgie, along with 500 or so Ogilvie’s. However, the Lindsays lost a disproportionate amount of men, most notably the Earl himself.

In 1571 the Clan Seton joined forces with the Clan Gordon in their feud against the Clan Forbes. The Clan Leslie and Clan Irvine also joined the Gordons and the Clan Keith, Clan Fraser and Clan Crichton joined forces with the Clan Forbes. The feud had carried on for centuries and culminated with two full scale battles in 1571: The Battle of Tillieangus and the Battle of Craibstone. It was at the Battle of Tillieangus that the 6th Lord Forbes’s youngest son known as Black Aurther Forbes was killed. Legend has it that “he stooped down to quench his thirst and one of the Gordons gave him his death blow through an open joint in his armour“.



17th Century & Civil War

Robert Seton the 6th Lord was created Earl of Winton in 1660. His younger son later became Chancellor of Scotland and had earlier been created Lord Fyvie in 1597, he also became Earl of Dunfermline in 1605. He built much of the Fyvie Castle in Aberdeenshire.

During the battles that continued in the decades after the Civil War James Seton the 5th Earl of Winton had his estates forfeited when he commanded a troop under the Viscount of Dundee at the Battle of Killiecrankie in 1689.



18th Century & Jacobite Uprisings

George Seton the 5th Earl of Winton joined the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715. He was captured and sentenced to death. However he escaped from the Tower of London and fled to Rome.

The Earldom moved to the Setons of Garleton and then to the Seaton Broad-bent family. The Earldom is now dormant.

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