The Livingstons were long conspicuous and powerful in this parish and neighbour- hood. It is supposed to be of Hungarian extraction, and that the family sprung from a gentleman of the name of Livingus, who came with Margaret Queen of King Malcolm Canmore, about the year 1075. We find that different branches of this family were employed in some of the most important situations and transactions of this country.1
In the progress of society there arose among them the three distinguished families of Linlithgow, Callendar, and Kilsyth. The Viscount Kilsyth, and the Earl of Linlithgow and Callendar, were found guilty of rebellion in 1715, had their estates confiscated, and their titles forfeited. The titles ofLinlithgow and Callander at this time centred in the same person, and the Earl found means to escape to the continent, where he died. Sir Thomas Livingston of Bedlormie and Westquarter, Baronet, is lineal heir of the family.
Lady Ann, is the only surviving child of the last Earl of Linlithgow and Callander was married to the Earl of Kilmarnock, who joined the followers of the Prince in the year 1745, and was beheaded on Towerhill, on the 18th of August 1746, in the 42nd year of his age. His infidelity to the King is the more remarkable, as his family had always been loyal, and as he himself at the beginning of the commotions in which he afterwards was an abettor, had exerted himself considerably on behalf of the reigning family.
The truth seems to be,that as he was not in opulent circumstances, he was induced to become an adventurer; and from his marriage-connection he was in hopes that if the Prince succeeded, he would be raised to the possessions and perhaps to the honours of the forfeited and deceased Earl of Linlithgow and Callander. And this leads me to observe, that it is politic in a state to inflict as few permanent disabilities and punishments as the nature of government and good order will permit. If a man fall a just victim to the law, the galling remembrance is gradually destroyed among his connections and descendants; but if an estate be forfeited, or a civil privilege be permanently taken away, there is a perpetual brooding over the misfortune, and from this source there so often springs the bitterness of strife.
Our Government have, with much prudence and humanity, restored the estates which were confiscated in 1746; and it is much to be lamented that something effectual has not been devised for the heirs of those who suffered by the forfeitures in the year 1716. The estates having been otherwise long ago disposed of could not be restored; but the wisdom of those in power, among the many resources which they have, might perhaps find out the means of at least a small compensation.
The estate of Kerse, in this parish, once belonging to the Hopes, a family of considerable note and antiquity in this country. John de Hope was one of the Barons who submitted to Edward 1 of England in 1296 when he had invaded Scotland.
Kerse as well as many other estates in Scotland were purchased by Sir Thomas Hope, who as an advocate made a conspicuous figure.
In the revolutionary period of the Scotch Church six ministers who had denied that the King had any power in ecclesiastcal affairs were committed to the castle of Blackness and for high treason were brought to trial at Linlithgow Jan. 10.1606. No counsellor of eminence not even Sir Thomas Craig the procurator for the church could be prevailed upon to stand forward as their advocate at the bar of the Court. Mr Thomas Hope for he was not then created a Baronet undertook though but a young man to plead there cause. His forcible elocution his ingenious though unsuccessful exertions procured him admiration and brought him into notice.
He was not only consulted in all difficult cases by the Presbyterians, but was esteemed by the Court party and was Kings Advocate both in the reign of James VI. and Charles I. He had three sons who were Lords of Session and two of them sat upon the Bench of Judges while he himself was at the Bar. The Lord Advocate has a right to plead with his hat on, and tradition says that this privilege was introduced in the time of Sir Thomas Hope as it was thought unbecoming the dignity of a father in his situation to plead with his head uncovered hefore his sons. But it is more probable that the custom was introduced as a distinguishing mark of respect to the Kings Advocate.
Sir Thomas, his second son to whom he gave the estate of Kerse, was eminent in the law and I believe the only commoner who ever has been Lord Justice General of Scotland; as his father, Sir Thomas of Craighall in Fife was the only person not honoured with a title of nobility who at any time in the character of Lord High Commissioner represented his Majesty in the General Assembly of this Church. The estate of Kerse was sold some time ago to the late Sir Lawrence Dundas Baronet father of Lord Dundas the present proprietor.
1. Douglas's Peerage, articles Linlithgow, Callander, and Kilsyth