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Lennox Family History & Ancestry

Family Crest Motto: I’LL DEFEND

Let me recount the captivating history of your family, the Lennoxes, passed down through generations:

Your family, the Lennoxes, hails from the ancient earldom of Lennox, encompassing modern Dumbartonshire and substantial parts of neighboring counties. The name itself derives from “Leven-ach,” meaning “field of the River Leven,” with “Leven” signifying “elm river.” The noble Mormaers of Levenax, your ancestors, became the Earls of Lennox and eventually joined the royal Stewart house. Alwyn, believed to be the second earl, is mentioned in a charter from his son, Aed, dating back to 1193. By the late thirteenth century, the Lennoxes had emerged as one of the most influential Scottish noble families, lending support to the Bruce claim to the throne. As a topographic surname in Scotland, reserved for the nobility and families outside major towns, most families bearing the surname Lennox would descend from younger sons of the various earls.

The last Earl of Lennox from this line witnessed the coronation of Robert II in 1371. Upon his passing, the title passed to his daughter, who married Walter de Fasselane, assuming the name Lennox. The title was later regranted to their son, Duncan. Duncan’s elder daughter married Murdoch, Duke of Albany and Regent of Scotland. From one of Albany’s sisters, the Lords of Darnley descended. The fourth Stewart Earl became famous as the father of the assassinated Lord Darnley, the late husband of Mary, Queen of Scots. The title then passed to his son, James VI, who bestowed it upon Esmé Stuart, a younger member of the Lennox family. Ludovic Stewart, Esmé’s son, enjoyed a close personal friendship with King James and was bestowed the English dukedom of Richmond. However, both the dukedoms and the estates eventually ceased in a direct line and passed to Charles II, the nearest male heir. Charles II, in turn, conferred the dukedom of Lennox upon his illegitimate son, Charles Lennox, born from his relationship with Louise de Kerouaille.

During the nineteenth century, the Lennoxes of Woodhead, later residing at Lennox Castle near Glasgow, laid claim to the right of succession to the ancient Earls of Lennox’s titles and honors. Although their claim to the peerage was never officially established, they were acknowledged as the chief family bearing the name. The current chief is Edward Lennox of that Ilk and Woodhead, holding a unique position with his sister, Madam Kincaid of Kincaid, as a fellow chief.

Furthermore, the Gaelic name Levanach meaning “smooth stream” references the Vale of Leven. Alwin MacMuredach MacMaidouern, the Mormaer of Levenax, held dominion over Dunbartonshire, as well as portions of Stirlingshire and Renfrewshire in the twelfth century. In the centuries that followed, the Lennox earldom became associated with various members of the Royal Stewart family, wielding considerable power in the land by the end of the thirteenth century. Notably, Malcolm, the fifth Earl, strongly supported the Bruce family’s claim to the Scottish throne, remaining loyal to Robert the Bruce throughout the War of Independence despite rendering homage to Edward I of England in 1296. When his son passed away without a male heir in 1373, the title passed to his daughter, whose husband assumed the title Earl of Lennox. However, tragic circumstances befell the Earl, as he was beheaded in 1425 at the age of eighty for his marriage to Albany’s granddaughter, leading to subsequent disputes over the succession of the title by the widowed Duchess of Albany’s sisters.

Sir John Stewart of Darnley was bestowed the title of Earl of Lennox in 1473 and served in the parliament of James IV. His son Matthew, appointed as Hereditary Sheriff of Dunbartonshire in 1503, later perished at the Battle of Flodden. Notably, Henry, the younger son of the fourth Earl of Lennox, married Mary Queen of Scots, and upon his death, the title passed to their son James VI of Scotland and I of England. James VI awarded the title to his uncle and then his cousin, Esmé Stuart, son of John, Lord d’Aubigny, who was subsequently created Duke of Lennox in 1581. However, when the line of succession ended, the titles reverted to Charles II.

Charles Lennox, the natural son of Charles II and the Duchess of Portsmouth, received the title of Duke of Richmond in 1675. Noteworthy members of your family include Charles, the fourth Duke of Richmond, who served as Governor General of Canada in 1818, and Charles, the sixth Duke of Richmond and Lennox, who held the position of Secretary of State for Scotland and Keeper of the Great Seal, receiving the additional title of Duke of Gordon in 1876. Presently, the Duke of Richmond, Gordon, and Lennox serves as the proprietor of the esteemed Goodwood Race Course in West Sussex, England.
As you stand here today, the bearer of the illustrious Lennox name, you carry with you the weight of centuries of history and a legacy of honor and nobility. Your family’s journey has intertwined with the royal Stewart house, leaving an indelible mark on the annals of Scottish history. From the earliest Mormaers of Levenax to the influential Earls of Lennox, your ancestors stood as pillars of strength and loyalty, supporting the Bruce claim to the throne and remaining steadfast through the trials of the War of Independence.

Through generations, your family’s fortunes and titles have shifted, passing from one branch to another, but the spirit of the Lennoxes has remained resolute. Your ancestors’ dedication to their homeland and their unwavering support for the Scottish crown have shaped the course of history and earned them the respect and admiration of their peers.

With the Lennox name comes not just a title but a responsibility—a responsibility to honor the sacrifices and achievements of your forebears, to carry their virtues forward, and to inspire future generations to embrace their heritage with pride and purpose.

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