The history of The Lordship and Barony of Pittenweem
Tracing its history back to the 12th century, the Lordship and Barony of Pittenweem has been held by some of Scotland’s most prominent families and individuals.
In 1143 monks from Reading in Berkshire under the leadership of Prior Achard founded a priory on the Isle of May to tend the shrine of St Adrian who is believed to have been killed on the Isle of May by Vikings in 875 AD. The priory was given the lands of Pittenweem and St Monans by King David I. In the fourteen century the priory came under the jurisdiction of the Augustinian monks at St Andrews and was moved to Pittenweem.
The Priors had many of the rights and obligations of the later barons and so, in a way the Barony can be traced back to the 12th century. The Protestant Reformation of the 16th century ended the rule of the priors. Their lands were forfeited to the Crown and the king granted these to laymen called Commendators.
The first Baron of Pittenweem was Sir John Roule, who had been the prior at the Monastery of Pittenweem for a number of years. When the first Baron died in 1560, the priory was secularised and granted to James Haliburton. In 1588 King James VI granted the land to Sir William Stewart as his personal possession. In 1605 the Barony was also erected into a Lordship in favour of Sir William's son Frederick Stewart, who took the title Lord Pittenweem.
The 1st Lord Pittenweem died without heirs in 1624. Before his death he conveyed the Lordship and Barony to Thomas Erskine, Viscount Fenton, who later became the 1st Earl of Kellie. The Barony remained with the Earls of Kellie until the middle of the 18th century, and the title "Lord Baron of Pittenweem" was used as a courtesy title for the eldest son, who also resided at the Prior’s Hall in Pittenweem.
The 6th Earl of Kellie, 6th Lord Baron of Pittenweem, sold most of his Kellie estates, including the Lordship and Barony of Pittenweem, to the Anstruthers of Anstruther and Elie in 1769. The Anstruthers took possession both of the title and the Prior's Hall.
In 1853 the industrialist William Baird became the 13th Baron of Pittenweem when he purchased the priory and the adjacent land from Sir Windham Carmichael-Anstruther, 7th Baronet, 12th Baron of Pittenweem. His son, John Baird, acting as Trustee to his deceased father, obtained a Crown charter of confirmation of the Barony of Pittenweem in 1869. The Barony remained with the Baird family until 1978 when Lavinia Enid Muriel Baird, 16th Baroness of Pittenweem, sold the Lordship and Barony to the lawyer and Writer to the Signet, William Ronald Crawford Miller. In 2015 the Barony passed to the current Baron of Pittenweem, Claes Zangenberg.
William Crawford Miller, 17th Baron of Pittenweem.
(Born 21 May 1919 in Edinburgh, died 28 June 2011, in Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa). Baron William Crawford Miller of Pittenweem was a prominent Scottish lawyer. He exemplified the old legal traditions of loyalty to one's firm and clients; indeed he remained with the same firm, Steedman Ramage & Co, for his whole career.
He was assigned the Barony of Pittenweem in 1978. Under his supervision The Priory and its garden underwent a significant restoration.
Thomas Erskine, 1st Earl of Kellie, 2nd Lord Baron of Pittenweem
(Born 1566, died 12th June 1639). Thomas Erskine was the eldest surviving son of Sir Alexander Erskine of Gogar, and Margaret Home, daughter of George Home, 4th Lord Home, and Mariotta Haliburton. He was a lifelong personal friend of James VI.
He was made a Privy Councillor in 1601 and given the title Lord Erskine of Dirletoun in 1604.
He died in London in 1639 and was buried at Pittenweem.
Alexander Erskine, 3rd Earl of Kellie, 4th Lord Baron of Pittenweem
(Born 1615, died 1677). Alexander Erskine inherited the titles after the death of his brother Thomas in 1643.
The earl, a strong Royalist, was imprisoned by Cromwell. He was appointed governor of the fort and town of Ayr, and lieutenant-colonel of the guards after the restoration of the monarchy. He became a member of the Privy Council in 1661.
He died in May 1677.
Ratifyis and apprevis inlikwise the charter, donacioune and erectioune of the landis and toune of Pettinweme unyt and create in ane Barony and burgh in Barony in all punctis and artikulis efter the forme and tenour of the said infeftment maid to Jhone, prioure of Pettinweme, tharupoune. [King James V, 1526]
Barons of Pittenweem (current creation)
1605-1614 :: Frederick Stewart, 1st Baron of Pittenweem. ➀
1614-1631 :: Thomas Erskine, 1st Earl of Kellie, 2nd Baron of Pittenweem ➁
1672-1677 :: Alexander Erskine, 3rd Earl of Kellie, 3rd Baron of Pittenweem ➂
1677-1710 :: Alexander Erskine, 4th Earl of Kellie, 4th Baron of Pittenweem
1710-1756 :: Alexander Erskine, 5th Earl of Kellie, 5th Baron of Pittenweem
1756-1766 :: Thomas Alexander Erskine, 6th Earl of Kellie, 6th Baron of Pittenweem ➃
1766-1799 :: Sir John Anstruther, 2nd Baronet, 7th Baron of Pittenweem ➄
1799-1808 :: Sir Philip Anstruther-Paterson, 3rd Baronet, 8th Baron of Pittenweem
1808-1811 :: Sir John Anstruther, 1st Baronet of Fort William, 4th of Anstruther of Anstruther and Elie House, 9th Baron of Pittenweem
1811-1818 :: Sir John Carmichael-Anstruther, 2nd and 5th Baronet, 10th Baron of Pittenweem
1818-1831 :: Sir John Carmichael-Anstruther, 3rd and 6th Baronet, 11th Baron of Pittenweem
1831-1853 :: Sir Windham Carmichael-Anstruther, 7th Baronet, 12th Baron of Pittenweem ➅
1853-1864 :: William Baird of Elie, 13th Baron of Pittenweem
1864-1918 :: William Baird, 14th Baron of Pittenweem
1918-1961 :: William James Baird, 15th Baron of Pittenweem
1961-1978 :: Lavinia Enid Muriel Baird, 16th Baroness of Pittenweem
1978-2011 :: William Ronald Crawford Miller, WS, 17th Baron of Pittenweem ➆
From 2011 :: Claes Zangenberg, 18th Baron of Pittenweem
Note: The table relates to the 1605 creation of the Barony and Lordship for "Fredrick Stewart, his heirs and assignees".
➀ Fredrick Stewart preferred the title "Lord Pittenweem". This title is often wrongly referred to as a title in the Scottish Peerage, but the 1606 act (confirming the 1605 creation) clearly identifies it as a feudal title.
➁ Fredrick Stewart assigned the title and lands of the Lordship and Barony to Thomas Erskine, Viscount Fenton, later 1st Earl of Kellie, in 1614. The Earls of Kellie preferred the title "Lord Baron of Pittenweem" and it remained a courtesy title for the eldest son until the Barony was conveyed to Sir John Anstruther by Thomas Alexander Erskine, 6th Earl of Kellie and 6th Lord Baron of Pittenweem.
➂ Between 1631 and 1672 the Lordship and Barony was held by the Crown. It was held "in place of the late lords" so that when the Barony and Lordship later passed to the 3rd Earl of Kellie it was not as a new creation but by an assignation of the Lordship and Barony. Thus the creation of the Lordship and Barony remains that of 1605. Technically, therefore, between 1631 and 1672 the Lord Barons of Pittenweem were Charles I and Charles II. These have been disregarded in this numbered list.
➃ Thomas Alexander Erskine, 6th Earl of Kellie and 6th Lord Baron of Pittenweem was a British musician and composer of considerable talent. He sold most of the Kellie estates, including the Lordship and Barony of Pittenweem in 1769.
➄ The Anstruthers of Anstruther and Elie did not actively use the title Baron, preferring instead to use their titles as Baronets of Anstruther and Elie House (and later also that of Fort William).
➅ Sir Windham succeeded in breaking the entail of his Anstruther estates, and sold them, together with the mansion of Elie House, to the Baird brothers in 1856.
➆ The lawyer and Writer to The Signet, William Crawford Miller, bought the Priory and former mansion of Pittenweem Hall in 1978 from Baroness Lavinia Baird of Pittenweem. These jointly constituted the caput of the Lordship and Barony (according to the terms of the 1606 act) and he was granted a Letter Patent confirming the title Baron by The Lord Lyon. The 17th Baron actively used the title "Baron", rather than "Lord Baron" as the Erskines of Kellie had while they held the Lordship and Barony.