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CATHCART AND ITS EARLS.
“I was told the other night (wrote Horace Walpole to the Countess of Ossory) that Lady Cathcart, who is still living, danced lately at Hertford, to show her vigour at past four score.” The Lady Cathcart of that day (1770) was originally Sarah Malyn, daughter of a Southwark landowner, who married first James Fleet, lord of the manor of Tewing, Hertfordshire ; secondly, Captain Sabine, also of Tewing; and, thirdly, in 1739, Charles, eighth Lord Cathcart, whose first wife, and mother of the ninth Earl, also Charles, had been Marion, only child of Sir John Shaw of Greenock, an honorary title still enjoyed by the eldest son of the Cathcart family. In May, 1745, fully four years after the death of her husband, Lord Charles, at sea, Lady Cathcart, then fifty-four years of age, married Hugh Macguire, an Irish officer in the Hungarian service, who, alarmed, as her fourth husband at the suggestive motto round one of her wedding rings—“ If I survive, I shall have five”—took her ladyship over to Ireland, and kept her in confinement till his death, which, to her great satisfaction, happened in 1764, when she returned to England, and eight years later, when over four score, showed much of her old native sprightliness by dancing, as mentioned above, at the Welwyn Assembly. In the novel of “Castle Rackrent," the Edgeworths published many interesting particulars regarding the harsh treatment of Lady Cathcart by Colonel Macguire. She appears to have survived her imprisonment of nearly 20 years by living on in high spirits for another quarter of a century. Lady Cathcart died 3rd August, 1784, in her 98th year, having lived under the reign of five English Sovereigns-viz., William and Mary, Queen Anne, and Georges I., II., III. It may also be added that she enjoyed the life-rent of the manor of Tewing for six years over half a century. She was born in the year after the Battle of the Boyne, and lived to hear the first peal of the French Revolution in the taking of the Bastile a fortnight before her death. Lady Cathcart had no issue by any of her husbands. Her first alliance, she is said to have remarked, was for the purpose of pleasing her
parents; the second for money; the third (with Lord Cathcart) for title ; and the fourth, with the fortune-hunting Hibernian, “because the devil owed me a grudge, and must punish me for my sins.”
This Charles, the eighth Lord Cathcart, born in 1686, or five years before his second wife, who survived him nearly 50 years, came of an old distinguished stock, who, taking their title from the pleasant lands south of Glasgow, marking the junction of North Lanark with East Renfrewshire, won high distinction in countries far removed from their own as servants of the Crown. So early as 1178 Rainaldus de Kethcart (Cart Castle), founder of the house, was witness to a charter by Alan, son of Walter the Steward, "dapifer regis” of the patronage of the church of Kathcart to the monastery of Paisley. A succeeding Sir Alan of Cathcart gave Bruce unwavering support throughout all the fierce struggle for independence. At Loudonhill, where Pembroke was defeated in 1307, he was next year with Edward Bruce in Galloway, and joined in the engagement against St. John. Barbour writes of
A knight that then was on his rout,
The wife of a modern descendant, as we have seen, took to herself four husbands in succession, so Sir Alan's wife, of the house of Wallace of Sundrum, was fourth husband of Eleanor Bruce, Countess of Carrick. A grandson, another Alan, the first Lord Cathcart, added largely to the family estate by the purchase or gist of property in Ayrshire-Auchincruive being obtained in 1465, while Dundonald, with the keepership of the Royal Castle there, was granted by James III. in 1482. The ancient fortress of the family overlooking the Cart, and of which a ruined ivy-covered tower above the village is now all that remains, is thought to date as far back at least as the early part of the fourteenth century. With walls about ten feet in thickness throughout, loop-holed windows, and lofty
battlements, Cathcart Castle not only gave a secure shelter to the inmates with such "gear, plenishing, and supplies” as was deemed essential to a household in these unsettled times, but its position as a watch-tower, overlooking the pleasant valley below, now studded with evidences of industry and comfort, made it serve a purpose favouring the peace of the country for miles around. On a neighbouring eminence, now known as Camphill, within two miles northward, and also, like Cathcart, overlooking Langside, traces still exist of another stronghold, older far than the age of Bruce or Wallace; older even, there is some reason for thinking, than the period of Roman occupation in Scotland, and dating, in all probability, back to a time in Caledonian history impossible to illustrate by any other memorial than is furnished in its own design and manner of construction.
Successors to Alan, first Lord Cathcart, were his grandson, John, second Lord, and father of three sons (slain with their Sovereign at the fatal field of Flodden); Alan, killed at Pinkie, 1547-a year after he had conveyed the lordship to a kinsman connected with the Sempill family; and another Alan, fourth Lord, one of the Reforming nobles, who sallied out with his vassals to fight for the Regent Murray on his own ancestral domain of Langside, where, from a site still pointed out by tradition as “Court Knowe,” within the shadow of the old castle walls, Queen Mary saw her last array of armed men beaten back in confusion by barons like Cathcart, who waged war against her in name of the infant King. Three other Alans of the family, less prominent than predecessors in public affairs, brings the family pedigree down to Charles, eighth Lord Cathcart, already mentioned as son of the seventh Earl, by Elizabeth Dalrymple, second daughter of James, first Viscount Stair, and Margaret Ross of Balneil, Wigtownshire, the reputed original of Scott's Lady Ashton, mother of the “Bride of Lammermoor." Born in 1686, Earl Charles was trained early for military service, and obtaining a captain's commission when only seventeen years of age, passed across to Flanders, where he obtained a company in Macartney's regiment, and rapid promotion afterwards under his relative John, second Earl of Stair, then engaged with the allies against France in the war of the Spanish Succession. Colonel Cathcart
joined Argyll's forces during Mar's “rising” of 1715, and, as might have been expected, rendered efficient service on the doubtful field of Sheriffmuir. Later in life (1740), and eight years after he had succeeded his father as eighth in succession to the honours of the house, Lord Charles was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the British forces sent out to attack the Spanish dominions in South America. About two months after leaving Spithead he was seized with sudden illness, and died at sea, as already mentioned, being buried on the beach of Prince Rupert's Bay, Dominica, where a monument was erected to the memory of the gallant soldier. By his first marriage with Marion, only daughter and heiress of Sir John Shaw of Greenock, Lord Cathcart had, besides other sons and daughters, Charles, who succeeded as ninth Lord, famous as any of his family for services in the field and as a diplomatist at foreign Courts. Earl Cathcart's second wife, by whom he had no issue, was the Mrs. Sabine, or Malyn, referred to in the opening sentence of this article. The young Earl Charles, for he was only 19 years of age when he succeeded his father, served under Stair- at Dettingen, and under Cumberland at Fontenoy, where he was severely wounded, and his only brother, Shaw Cathcart, slain. Present and active on the field of Culloden, his Lordship was next year at Laffeldt, where he was wounded once more; and within a few months passed to the Court of France, where he resided as one of the hostages for the delivery of Cape Breton to Louis XV., under that Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle which concluded the war of the Austrian Succession, waged originally between Marie Theresa and Frederick II. of Prussia, afterwards known as Frederick the Great. On returning home, Lord Cathcart, who was then promoted to the rank of colonel, represented the King for many years in succession as Lord High Commissioner to the General Assembly, and in 1763 was invested with the Order of the Thistle, having two years earlier been appointed Governor of Dumbarton Castle. In 1768 at a critical point of the struggle between Russia and Turkey, Lord Cathcart was appointed Ambassador Extraordinary to the Court of St. Petersburg, where he resided for three years. Lord Charles died, August, 1776, aged not more than 56 years ; but over thirty of which had been spent in active service at home or abroad. Lady
Cathcart was Jane, daughter of Lord Archibald Hamilton of Riccarton and Pardovan, sister of Sir William Hamilton, K.B., eminent as an antiquarian and art collector, who married the beautiful but humble-born Emma Harte, famous afterwards for her connection with Lord Nelson. Lady Cathcart bore a family of nine children-five sons and four daughters-William Shaw becoming tenth lord, and a younger brother, the Hon. Charles Alan, serving with distinction in America and in India, being especially prominent on duty against the French in the trenches at Cuddalore. Charles Alan, like his grandfather, died at sea, being overtaken with a fatal illness in the Straits of Banca, on his way to open up commercial intercourse with China, under instructions from the East India Company. He was then (1783) only 29 years of age. Of the daughters, the eldest, Jane, became Duchess of Athol. The next daughter was that Mary destined to become famous, not only for her beauty and accomplishments, but whose early death, in 1792, led her husband, Thomas Graham of Balgowan, to temper his sharp sorrow, by throwing himself at middle age into that military career in which he became for ever famous as Lord Lynedoch, victor of Barossa, and otherwise one of the ablest of Wellington's lieutenants, as he proved at Victoria, San Sebastian, and the Bidassoa. William Shaw, tenth Lord Cathcart, also won high honour for services in the field, his most prominent achievement being the bombardment of Copenhagen in the summer of 1807, when the Danish fleet, with its wealth of ammunition and stores, was seized and brought to England. Before the year had closed he was elevated to the British peerage as Baron Greenock of Greenock, and Viscount Cathcart of Cathcart, the higher title of Earl following in 1814, after his return from a special mission to St. Petersburg. Full of years and honours—he was 88-yet vigorous, the Earl passed away in June, 1843, being at the time senior General in Her Majesty's service. His eldest son, William, who commenced a naval career under Nelson in the Medusa frigate, died young, from yellow fever, at Jamaica, nearly forty years before his father. The succession thereby passed to the second son, Charles Murray Cathcart, who became eleventh Baron and second Earl. As Lord Greenock, he served with the army in Ireland, the Mediterranean,