Earl of Stirling

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Arms of the 1st Earl of Stirling: Quarterly, 1st & 4th: Per pale argent and sable a chevron and a crescent in base counterchanged (Alexander of Menstrie); 2nd & 3rd: Or, a lymphad sable between three crosses crosslet bottony fitchée gules 2 and 1 (Stirling). In the point of honour, an escutcheon argent, a cross saltire azure charged with an escutcheon of the arms of Scotland (Nova Scotia).
William Alexander, 1st Earl of Stirling.

Earl of Stirling was a title in the Peerage of Scotland. It was created on 14 June 1633 for William Alexander, 1st Viscount of Stirling.[1] He had already been created a Baronet, of Menstrie in the County of Clackmannan, in the Baronetage of Nova Scotia on 12 July 1625, then Lord Alexander of Tullibody and Viscount of Stirling on 4 September 1630, then Earl of Dovan in 1639.[1][2] He was made Viscount of Canada at the same time that he was granted the earldom of Stirling.[3] The other peerage titles were also in the Peerage of Scotland. The titles became dormant upon the death of the fifth Earl in 1739.

Earls of Stirling (1633)[edit]

  • William Alexander, 1st Earl of Stirling (1576–1640)
  • William Alexander, 2nd Earl of Stirling (d. 1640)
  • Henry Alexander, 3rd Earl of Stirling (d. 1644)
  • Henry Alexander, 4th Earl of Stirling (d. 1691)
  • Henry Alexander, 5th Earl of Stirling (1664–1739)

Later claimants[edit]

William Alexander, Lord Stirling[edit]

William Alexander of New Jersey known to history as Major General Lord Stirling of the Continental Army, pursued a claim to succeed to the dormant earldom in 1756-59. The claim from senior male descent from the first Earl's grandfather was ultimately turned down by the House of Lords in 1762 - although he was allowed to vote in the election of the Scottish representative peers.

Alexander Humphrys-Alexander[edit]

In the 19th century, there was an attempt to assert that there was a new grant of the title of Earl of Dovan connected with the title of Earl of Stirling, and a new destination of descent for the title of Earl of Stirling, with the title claimed by Alexander Humphrys-Alexander (1783–1859). Mary Hill, Marchioness of Downshire brought a petition before the House of Lords in 1832, claiming that she would be the rightful heir as the descendent of Judith Alexander, sister of Henry Fifth Earl of Stirling. [4] A court case filed in 1839 ruled that at least two of the seventeen documents in support of the case were forgeries; Humphrys-Alexander himself was acquitted of personal responsibility for making them.[5]

The case and the associated forgery was one inspiration for the very popular three-volume novel Ten Thousand a-Year, by Samuel Warren (1807–1877). Warren also wrote directly of the case in his "Miscellanies", titling the article "The Romance of Forgery".

See also[edit]

  • Province of New York: in 1664, the Duke of York, James II of England, purchased Long Island and other lands granted to Stirling in 1635


  1. ^ a b Grosart, Alexander Balloch (1885). "Alexander, William (1567?-1640)" . In Stephen, Leslie (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. 01. London: Smith, Elder & Co. p. 275.
  2. ^ "NOTES AND COMMENTS - Canada and the Peerage". Volume XLV (13843). New Zealand Herald. 1 September 1908. Retrieved 30 October 2017.
  3. ^ "William Alexander, 1st Earl of Stirling". Britannica.com. Retrieved 30 October 2017.
  4. ^ "House of Lords Journal Volume 64: 16 March 1832: Marchss of Downshire's Petition respecting Assumption of Title of Earl of Stirling by A. H. Alexander". British History Online. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  5. ^ Macgregor, Simon (Stenographer) and Turnbull, William (editor) (1839). "The Stirling Peerage: Trial of Alexander Humphrys". William Blackwood and Sons, Edinburgh. Retrieved 24 February 2012.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)