Earl of Ross

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For the Irish peerage possessed by the Parsons family based in County Offaly, see Earl of Rosse.
Earldom of Ross

Coronet of a British Earl.svg
Blason Guillaume, comte de Ross.svg

The Arms of the Realm and Ancient Local Principalities of Scotland [1]

The Mormaer or Earl of Ross was the leader of a medieval Gaelic lordship in northern Scotland, roughly between the River Oykel and the River Beauly.

Origins and transfers

Initially, it was probably confined entirely to Easter Ross to an area between the Dornoch Firth and the Cromarty Firth, i.e. the Tarbat peninsula and the parishes of Kiltearn (equal to the modern Evanton) and Alness. The earliest man known to have the comital title to Ross, was the rebel MacHeth.

However, the true founder was the famous Fearchar, Earl of Ross, from the Irish Ó Beólláin (O’Beolain, Boland, Bolan) family, also known as ‘Fearchar Mac-an-t-sagairt’ (meaning “son of the priest”) of Applecross, who attained the title probably sometime in the 1220s by destroying the “MacHeths” and “Meic Uilleim“, two rebel kinship groups. His son and successor Uilleam I, Earl of Ross greatly expanded the Mormaerdom, conquering territory from the Kingdom of Norway. The Earldom of Ross remained in the O’Beolain family until the death of Uilleam III in 1372 and his daughter, Euphemia I, Countess of Ross marriage to Sir Walter Leslie.

The role of Chief of Clan Ross was with the earls of Ross until Uilleam III, Earl of Ross died in 1372. (From then onwards the chieftenship of Clan Ross fell to a junior line descended from Aodh, Earl of Ross d.1334). When Uilleam III, Earl of Ross died in 1372 the Earldom then passed to is daughter Euphemia I, Countess of Ross, who became the wife of Sir Walter Leslie. The position of Earl of Ross stayed with the Leslie line until the death of Alexander Leslie, Earl of Ross in 1402. The Earldom eventually passed into the hands of the Clan Donald chief, the Lord of the Isles.

The Earldom later passed from the MacDonald, Lord of the Isles to the crown and the royal House of Stewart.

The title remained in crown hands until, on 23 January 1481, it was awarded to James Stewart, Duke of Ross, the second son of James III of Scotland. He was simultaneously created Lord Ardmannoch and Lord Brechin and Navar. He was later created Duke of Ross.

The fourth creation was on 20 May 1565, for Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, who was simultaneously created Lord Ardmannoch. Shortly thereafter (20 July 1565) he was created Duke of Albany. After his murder at Kirk o’ Field House, he was succeeded by his infant son James VI of Scotland, whose accession as James VI a few months later returned the peerages to the crown.

Upon the creation of the Prince Charles as Duke of Albany on 2 December 1600, he was also invested with the subsidiary titles of Marquess of Ormonde, Earl of Ross, and Lord Ardmannoch. He was crowned as Charles I in 1625, and the titles again returned to the crown.

However, Brown (1834) states: “Earl of Ross (Extinct) was claimed in 1778 by Munro Ross of Pitcalnie, as male descendant of Hugh Ross of Rarichus, brother of Aodh, Earl of Ross (d.1334).”

List of mormaers and earls of Ross

Early mormaers/earls of Ross

Earls of Ross, Creation of 1481

Earls of Ross, Creation of 1565

Earls of Ross, Creation of 1600

Earls of Ross, Irish Creation of 1772


  1. ^ Bartholemew 1983. ISBN 0-7028-1709-0
  • Grant, Alexander. “The Province of Ross and the Kingdom of Alba” in E.J. Cowan and R. Andrew McDonald (eds.) Alba: Celtic Scotland in the Medieval Era. East Linton: Tuckwell Press, 2000. ISBN 1-86232-151-5.
  • McDonald, R. Andrew. “Old and New in the Far North: Ferchar Maccintsacairt and the Early Earls of Ross” in Steve Boardman and Alasdair Ross (eds.) The Exercise of Power in Medieval Scotland, c.1200–1500. Dublin: Four Courts, 2003. ISBN 1-85182-749-8.
  • Roberts, John L. Lost Kingdoms: Celtic Scotland in the Middle Ages. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1997. ISBN 0-7486-0910-5.
  • Brown, Peter, publisher, The Peerage of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1834, p. 212.

External links


Mormaerdoms or Earldoms attested before 1286

Scotland9 067


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