The Earl of Doncaster

Over the last couple of years I have set myself the personal goal of researching the existence of an aristocrat with a direct connection with Doncaster. Ok, we have Cooke, Baronet of Wheatley but in my mind that title wouldn’t suffice as, although the baronetcy still exists today there is no Wheatley Hall or estate to compliment it. No, I had my sights on something or someone greater and more important.

I’ll set the theme by saying that what sparked my interest initially, was the name of a hotel on Bennetthorpe, Doncaster. If you have any local knowledge at all you will probably have guessed now that I am referring to the ‘Earl of Doncaster’ hotel.

By my reckoning, if we had a hotel bearing the name of an Earl of the town, then surely the building must have taken it’s name from an actual person, (fictitious or otherwise). I didn’t have to look too far until my interest was roused. I first referred to a certain online encyclopaedia and then on to ‘Burke’s Peerage’. To my suprise, I found that not only did history suggest that Doncaster had had its very own Earl but that it still had one (albeit the second creation) in the name of a gentleman called Richard Walter John Montagu Douglas Scott, 10th Duke of Buccleuch (pronounced buck-loo), and 12th Duke of Queensbury, Knight of the British Empire and Deputy Lieutenant.

As I conducted more research I found out that he was 57 years of age, that he was married to Lady Elizabeth (Nee Kerr), daughter of the 12th Marquess of Lothian, and had 4 children. His seat is Drumlanrig Castle in Dumfries and Galloway but he also owns other castles and estates both in Scotland and England. He has an internationally renowned ‘Buccleuch Art Collection’ which features pieces by the likes of Rembrandt and Leonardo da Vinci! According to a rich list that is produced annually by a well known Sunday newspaper he is not short of a bob or two and they say that he owns more of the British Isles than Prince Charles.

What has this got to do with Doncaster’s history I hear you say? Well, it turns out that our present Earl is a direct descendant of, (great, great etc grandchild) none other than, Sir Walter Scott the internationally famous author who stayed in, and took inspiration from, Doncaster while he wrote his book ‘Ivanhoe’.

This fact is the historical link that kept my interest and allowed me to justify continuing my research into this man and his connections with Doncaster. I was happy to learn that we had an actual Earl of Doncaster but did his existence mean anything for the people of the town, did he have an interest in us down here in South Yorkshire, has he visited the town or did he have any business interests here? All these questions and more, I intended to find out.

How did you go about making contact with such a man, surely it would be nigh on impossible to get to speak to him personally? I continued my research into the Duke and his interests and discovered that not only did he have an eye for fine art but, like most other aristocrats, he had a keen interest in hunting and field sports. He owns and runs 5 hunting estates throughout the country so it stood to reason that he must have been into shooting etc. I tracked down the contact details of an office in Scotland that dealt with one of these estates and found that the email address contained @buccleuch.com, so I wrote an email to a lady requesting that she pass on my email to the Duke himself. I said that I was from Doncaster and was keen on local history and architecture and had discovered the existence of the Earl, please could she ask the Earl to get in touch with me to talk about Doncaster and his connection with it.

After about 2 months I had abandoned the idea that the Duke would talk to me and so resigned to researching him alone anyway. One Wednesday evening, as I waited for my daughter outside one of her ballet lessons, my mobile phone rang. I answered to a gentleman from Scotland with an accent which could only be described as ‘Prince Philip’, the man on the other end of the phone was Richard Scott, the Duke of Buccleuch and Earl of Doncaster! We spoke for a little while about Doncaster, about his connections with the town and I asked him if he could send me anything unique that connects his family to Doncaster. He sent me an old crest along with the following old document:

“Scot, Earl of Doncaster – His Grace Henry Duke of Buccleuch, Earl of Doncaster &c. derives his descent paternally from James Duke of Monmouth and Buccleuch, eldest son of King Charles II by Mrs Lucy Walters, daughter of Richard Walters of Haverford-West, in the county of Pembroke, Esquire. The said Duke of Monmouth was born at Rotterdam on April 9th 1649 and bore the name of James Crofts until his Majesty’s restoration. He was educated chiefly at Paris, under the eye of Henrietta, the Queen Mother and the Government of Thomas Ross Esq. who was afterwards, secretary to Mr Coventry during his embassy in Sweden.

In July 1662 he was brought over to England and received by the King at Hampton-court with all demonstrations of joy and affection. He had an apartment fitted up for him in the privy gallery at Whitehall, and was allowed an equipage and pension suitable to his birth. Moreover, his Majesty taking into consideration his virtuous inclinations, and pregnant evidences of heroic spirit, as a proper furtherance thereto was on February 14th 1662, pleased to creat him Baron of Tinedale in the county of Northumberland, Earl of Doncaster in the county of York, and Duke of Monmouth with remainder to his heirs-male. Also, in a chapter of the Order of the Garter, held at Whitehall, on March 28th 1663, his Majesty present, he was elected a Knight of the most Noble Order. On April 8th the King signed a Warrant, directed to Sir Edward Walker, Knight Garter, authorising him to prepare, and place over his stall at his installation in such a manner as accustomed, in the chapel at the castle at Windsor, his arms and achievements, viz.

His banner to be quarterly.

  • The first quarter, Ermine, on a pile, gules, three lions of the Royal Arms of England, passant guardant.
  • The second quarter, in a field or an escutcheon of France, with a double tressure of Scotland, counterfleury, gules
  • And for the Crest, on a chapeau, gules, doubled ermine, a dregon passant, gorged with a crown, having a chain.
  • And for supporters on the Dexter side, a unicorn, argent, armed, maned and unguled, gorged with a crown, gules, and a chain of the same fixed thereto.
  • And on the sinister side, a hart, argent, attired and unguled, gorged with a crown, gules, and a chain of the same fixed thereto.

His creation to the title of Duke of Monmouth, as also his election into the Most Noble Order of the Garter, was to grace his nuptials with the Lady Anne, daughter and sole heir of Francis, Earl of Buccleuch (only son and heir of Walter, Lord Scot of Buccleuch, created Earl of Buccleuch on March 16th 1619) who was then esteemed the greatest fortune and the finest Lady in the three Kingdoms.

Being married, he took the surname of Scot, and he and his Lady were created Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch, Earl and Countess of Dalkeith, Baron and Baroness of Whitchester and Ashdale in Scotland, by letters-patent dated April 20th 1673. Also, two days after, he was installed at Windsor, the King and Queen, the Duke of York, and most of the court being present. Prince Rupert was also installed the same day, and the Prince of Denmark by his proxy Sir George Carteret, vice Chamberlain of his Majesty’s household. The next day, being St George’s day, his Majesty solemnized it with a Royal Feast and entertained the Knight’s companions in St George’s Hall in the castle of Windsor.

On September 28th 1663 he was incorporated M.A. in the university of Oxford (as he had been at Cambridge) the King and Queen being then at Oxford, and the university orator made a speech in high commendation of him. In 1665 his Grace was made Master of the Horse to the King. On April 22nd 1667, his Majesty signed a warrant to Sir Edward Walker, Garter, reciting:

  • “That having commanded him to marshall, and set up, for his dear son James, Duke of Monmouth and Buccleuch, at his installation at Windsor, such Arms, Crest, and Supporters, as in the said warrant are blazoned and expressed, notwithstanding which, he is now pleased to alter the same and declares his will &c. That his said dear son James, Duke of Monmouth and Buccleuch, shall henc eforth bear and use his Royal Arms with a baston, sinister, argent, and over all an escutcheon of the Arms of the Noble Family of Scot, Earls of Buccleuch, which surname he has also given him. And for his Crest and Supporters, the same he had before appointed to the said Duke of Monmouth and Buccleuch, and his descendants, requiring authorising and commanding the said Sir Edward Walker, Garter, and his successors, to order, marshall, and set up on all occasions, the said Arms, Crest, and Supporters, as expressed, &c.”

In the summer of 2011, I purchased a 200 year old document, written in ink on parchment displaying the Buccleuch seal. It was written in latin by a former Duke of Buccleuch and signed ‘Earl of Doncaster’. I have had it framed along with an English translation. The document was presented to our current Civic Mayor, Cllr Eva Hughes, on behalf of this web site, Doncaster History, and now has pride of place on the Parlour wall in the Masion House. The Duke came to Doncaster in November 2011 to formally present the document to the Mayor on my behalf.

I met Richard Scot at the railway station in the morning and chauffered him around Doncaster showing him some of the more interesting sights that there are to see. We met with the Mayor around lunchtime and drank tea together in the parlour. The document was presented to Eva Hughes after which we all enjoyed a guided tour of the Mansion House. Around 2:30pm we took to the limousine once more to call in at the Minster, where, Dr Paul Shackerley and his team very kindly showed us around. At around 4 pm I drove Richard back to the Railway station and presented him with a silver hip-flask that I had had engraved as a souvenir of his visit.

The Duke was delighted to have spent time in Doncaster and thoroughly enjoyed seeing what we had to offer the tourist. He thanked everyone involved on the day for their hard work in organising things. As a thank you, he has invited some of us to his ‘House’ for the day on the 16th April 2012. His house, (or should I say the English one), is the sprawling country estate of Boughton in Northamptonshire.

At the time of writing this, the visit is a little over 2 weeks away. I will write more when I return and tell you how we got on.

……. So here we are, a little over two weeks on, and the Boughton visit has been and gone. (ooh, that rhymed) Myself and my daughter along with a civic party enjoyed a fun packed day with the Earl of Doncaster on his home turf. It is becoming increasingly more apparent that Richard Scott is a most down to earth and humble fellow, extremely generous and amazingly passionate about his roots, his inheritance, and his titles.

On arrival, we were greeted by the Duke and his dogs, a pair of cocker spaniels called Pebble and Petra, followed by drinks in the South kitchen of the great hall. After chatting for a little while about the connection between himself and Doncaster we took to the golf buggy for a tour of the extensive grounds. If we had been on foot we would it would have taken hours, but, as it was, it took just a couple. This tour was followed by a short tour of the inside of the property taking in most of the main rooms, the state rooms, the stable and most of the more famous artworks, including some by Gainsborough. There was definitely a French influence there and so it is easy to see why it has earned the nick-name ‘The English Versailles’.

We retired to the North Kitchen and dining room (which was bigger than my whole house!) for lunch which consisted of:

  • Smoked salmon with avocado on a bed of rocket leaves with hollandaise sauce and quails eggs, followed by-
  • Lamb cutlet doubles with pea purée, potato gratin, and buttered asparagus spears, followed by-
  • Rhubarb crumble with home-made Buccleuch dairy ice-cream.
  • Red or white wine or tea and coffee,

all cooked there and then by the head cook. My daughter Lizzie took great delight in having her food served to her by the Duke himself.

After lunch we finished the house tour and said our thank you’s and goodbye’s. We were each presented with a signed copy of the Boughton House guide book and his grace the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensbury, KBE, DL, aka the Earl of Doncaster signed my daughters book this way:

“You must pay a return visit and bring your Mum, – Richard Buccleuch”

Obviously, this is just an outline of the whole day as I could write a book if I were to cover it in detail. Needless to say, the Duke made us all feel very welcome and we will be repeating the visit again in 2013.

I wonder if these visits will evolve into a tradition as the date is now set for me to introduce this years Civic Mayor, Cllr. Christine Mills, to His Grace in early January, 2014. I sincerely hope I can continue this for every Civic Mayor that serves our town. Time will tell.

If you want any more details then you can email me via the contact page.