Earldom of Crawford
held with
Earldom of Balcarres
Earls of Crawford: Quarterly, 1st and 4th Gules, a fesse, chequy, argent, and azure, (Lindsay); 2nd and 3rd, or, a lion rampant, gules, debruised of a ribbon in bend, sable (Abernethy).
Creation date1398
Created byRobert II of Scotland
PeeragePeerage of Scotland
First holderSir David Lindsay
Present holderAnthony Lindsay, 30th Earl of Crawford
Heir apparentAlexander Thomas Lindsay, Lord Balniel
Remainder toheirs male of the body of the grantee
Subsidiary titlesEarl of Balcarres
Lord Lindsay of Crawford
Lord Lindsay and Balniel
Baron Wigan of Haigh Hall
Seat(s)Balcarres House
MottoEndure Fort (Endure bravely)

Earl of Crawford is one of the most ancient extant titles in Great Britain, having been created in the Peerage of Scotland in 1398 for Sir David Lindsay. It is the premier earldom recorded on the Union Roll.[1]

Early history

Sir David Lindsay, who married Elizabeth Stewart, Countess of Crawford, a daughter of Robert II, was the 9th baron of Crawford, Lanarkshire.[2] He was given the title of Earl of Crawford by Robert II in 1398, along with Crawford Castle.[3]

The title descended to the first Earl's descendants without much incident, until the death of David Lindsay, 8th Earl of Crawford, in 1542. The eighth Earl had a son, Alexander, commonly called the Wicked Master, who frequently quarrelled with his father and even tried to murder him. The Wicked Master was sentenced to death for his crime, and the eighth Earl conveyed his title to a cousin, also called David Lindsay, a descendant of the third Earl of Crawford, and excluded from the succession all of the Wicked Master's descendants. However, the ninth earl, although he had his own sons, named the Wicked Master's son David as his heir; thus, in 1558, at the ninth Earl's death, the earldom returned to the main branch of the family. The ninth Earl is frequently referred to as an interpolated Earl, as are the 17th-22nd Earls.

Later history

At the death of Ludovic Lindsay, 16th Earl of Crawford, the title was passed, despite senior heirs, to a cousin, John, who had already been created Earl of Lindsay. The earldoms of Crawford and Lindsay continued to be united until the 22nd earl died unmarried in January 1808. The two earldoms then became dormant until the respective heirs could prove their claims to the titles.

In 1843, James Lindsay, 7th Earl of Balcarres put forward his claim to the Earldom of Crawford; in 1848, the House of Lords allowed it. The claim was based on the extensive research of his son Lord Lindsay.[4] It was held that the seventh Earl's father, the sixth Earl, was the lawful successor to the earldom of Crawford (though he did not claim it); therefore, the sixth Earl of Balcarres was posthumously declared the 23rd Earl of Crawford, and his son, the seventh Earl of Balcarres, became the 24th Earl of Crawford. Thereafter, these two earldoms have remained united (but the Earldom of Lindsay is separate).

The Earl of Crawford was mentioned in an episode of Keeping Up Appearances, when Hyacinth Bucket insisted that her milk be sourced from the "very attractive herd" on his estate.

Between 1963 and 2019, the 28th Earl and the 29th Earl acted as Premier Earl of Scotland.[5]

Subsidiary titles

The subsidiary titles associated with the Earl of Crawford and Balcarres are: Lord Lindsay of Crawford (created 1398), Lord Lindsay and Balniel (1651) and Baron Wigan of Haigh Hall (1826). The former two subsidiary titles, as well as the two Earldoms, are in the Peerage of Scotland. The barony is in the Peerage of the United Kingdom, and so entitled the Earls of Crawford and Balcarres to sit in the House of Lords even before the passage of the Peerage Act 1963 extended that right to peers of Scotland.

The 29th Earl sat in the House of Lords as Baron Balniel, of Pitcorthie in the County of Fife, a peerage under the Life Peerages Act 1958 conferred on him in 1974 after leaving the House of Commons in the aftermath of the October 1974 general election while his father was still living.

The Earl of Crawford is the hereditary Clan Chief of Clan Lindsay.

Family seat

The family seat is Balcarres House in Colinsburgh, Fife. Until the 1940s they were also seated at Haigh Hall, Lancashire. The traditional burial place of the Earls of Crawford is the family chapel at Balcarres House.

Earls of Crawford (1398)

Earls of Crawford (1642)

The heir apparent is the present holder's son Alexander Thomas Lindsay, Lord Balniel (b. 1991)
The heir apparent’s heir apparent is Ludovic James Lindsay, Master of Crawford (b. 2020)


Coat of arms of Earl of Crawford
A Swan's Head neck and wings Proper issuing from an antique Ducal-coronet Or
Quarterly, 1st and 4th, Gules a Fess chequy Argent and Azure (Lindsay), 2nd and 3rd, Or a Lion rampant Gules debruised of a ribbon in bend Sable (Abernethy)
Two Lions rampant guardant Gules armed and langued Azure
Endure fort ("Suffer bravely")

See also


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  1. ^ Whitaker's Almanack
  2. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Crawford, Earls of" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 7 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 384.
  3. ^ See p.61, English translation of the Latin text of the Blaeu Atlas of Scotland, 1654 in the digital library of the National Library of Scotland at "Blaeu Atlas of Scotland - Maps - National Library of Scotland". Archived from the original on 2 February 2009. Retrieved 20 July 2008.. According to the translator, the original text's reference to "James" Lindsay is a mistake for David Lindsay.
  4. ^ Barker, Nicolas (1978) Bibliotheca Lindesiana: the Lives and Collections of Alexander William, 25th Earl of Crawford and 8th Earl of Balcarres, and James Ludovic, 26th Earl of Crawford and 9th Earl of Balcarres. London: for Presentation to the Roxburghe Club, and published by Bernard Quaritch
  5. ^ The Premier Earldom in the Peerage of Scotland is that of Sutherland, created circa 1230. Held for a long time by the Leveson-Gower family, this earldom passed to Elizabeth Sutherland, 24th Countess of Sutherland (1921–2019) in 1963, who, as a woman, was at the time considered to be unsuitable for functioning as Premier Earl, so the Earls of Crawford, being next in the order of precedence, occupied the position until the earldom of Sutherland passed to a male holder (Alistair Sutherland, 25th Earl of Sutherland, born 1947) in 2019.