Noblesse obliges itself

Andy Wightman — as far as I can see (and I’m now through Chapter 5) — nods at it just the once:

The first Duke of Bucceuch, for example, was the illegitimate offspring of court harlotry and the Cawdor Campbells’ origins are with the kidnap and forced marriage of a twelve-year old girl.

The tenth Duke of Buccleuch is still the largest private landowner in the British Isles. The Buccleuch Estates amount to 270,000 acres, or 420-odd square miles, give or take. As Andy Wightman points out on his web-site (yes — I’m fascinatedly appalled or appallingly fascinated by all this):

… on Buccleuch Estate there are workspaces, sawmills and a variety of other business premises and they are liable for business rates (to be paid by the occupier who is often not the owner). But the estate as a business – the 270,000 acres – pays nothing. Why in Scotland in 2012 do landowners still get away with not having to pay their fair share of property taxes?…

Buccleuch Estates Ltd. is in fact a parent company for a range of businesses in Germany, Luxembourg, Russia, Germany and the UK. But “embracing the corporate business interests of the Buccleuch Family” rather suggests that the company is owned by the Duke of Buccleuch and family.

The fact is, however, that the shares of Buccleuch Estates Ltd. are wholly owned by Anderson Strathern Nominees Ltd., a company with a total paid-up share value of £4, whose shareholders are four Edinburgh lawyers, whose total assets amount to £4 and which has not traded since its incorporation in May 1992.

Now, why would a Lowlands peer have business interests in Luxembourg? Unless, of course, it was for the tax-avoidance.

The Buccleuch dukedom was created for James Scott (a.k.a James Crofts and James Fitzroy), by-blow of Charles II Stuart’s dalliance in The Hague with Lucy Walter. He is better known in english history-books as the Duke off Monmouth. Monmouth was attainted for his 1685 rebellion against James VII and II Stuart, and was beheaded by Jack Ketch on 15 July 1685. Since Crofts’/Buccleuch’s/Monmouth’s wife, Anne, had been created duchess in her own right, the Scottish title persisted, despite her husband’s attainder.

Meanwhile let’s have a quick dekko at Muriel Calder, born 13th February 1498. She was the daughter and heiress of John Calder. Her uncle, Hugh Rose of Kilravock, intended to marry her off to his grandson, and thus keep the real estate in the family. Alas! The Kilvarocks had a thing going with the Urquharts of Cromarty, which ended up before the Justice General of Scotland. Who happened to be the Earl of Argyll, a Campbell. Who happened to make an offer of leniency, provided he became guardian of the young Muriel, with the right to marry her to one of his own kin.

9780747568759What happened next is one of the great horror stories of Scotland.

In 1505 Campbell of Inverliver was sent to collect the wee girlie. The Roses and Calders took severe umbrage, and set about the arrivals.  Campbell of Inverliver had to fight a running battle (in which four of his sons were killed), but stripped Muriel down to her nudies, and decorated a hay-stack with her clothes. In 1510 (do the maths!) Muriel was married, without the option, to Sir John Campbell (himself just 20 years old), and they produced a litter of offspring. More of the same, courtesy of Angus Calder.

These, of course, are the types we lesser beings are expected to respect, and to whom even doff our sweaty caps.


Filed under History, reading, Scotland, sleaze., social class

2 responses to “Noblesse obliges itself

  1. Pingback: The case of little Mary Davies | Malcolm Redfellow's Home Service

  2. Pingback: Hidey holes | Malcolm Redfellow's Home Service

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