The Strathmore Family History


In 1372, King Robert II granted the thaneage of Glamis to Sir John Lyon, who four years later married the King’s daughter, Johanna/Jean Stewart. The origins of the Lyons are obscure, but according to family tradition, the Lyons (‘de Leonne’) came to Scotland from France, by way of England, in the late 11th century. Reginald Dennis Lyon claims that Sir Roger de Leonne went to Scotland with King Edgar about 1091 and he obtained certain lands in Perthshire, subsequently named Glen Lyon, for services to the crown and that it is of this Sir Roger that Sir John Lyon is lineally descended. Loyalty to the crown was a common theme, for which the Lyon family was suitably rewarded with lands and titles.


However, royal connections were not always benevolent.  Following the death of John, 6th Lord Glamis in 1528, his widow, Janet Douglas, went on to marry Alexander Campbell of Skipnish. As sister of the banished Archibald, Earl of Angus, she became a target of King James V and was burnt at the stake in Castlehill, Edinburgh in 1537 following trumped up charges of poison and witchcraft. The King promptly took possession of the estates and Glamis Castle and was frequently in residence there, as many royal charters and other writs of the period attest to, until his death in 1542. Although imprisoned along with his mother, John, 7th Lord Glamis was spared the death penalty and was released and allowed to recover his estates following the King’s death. In 1549 Lord Glamis was served heir to Elizabeth Gray, Countess of Huntly, his grandmother, and in her right claimed that part of the barony of Huntly called Longforgan.  King James V’s daughter, Mary, Queen of Scots visited Glamis in 1562 on her way north to quell a rebellion led by the Earl of Huntly.


 In 1606 Patrick, 9th Lord Glamis was created Earl of Kinghorne by King James V1, two years after being sworn as a privy councillor of the King. Patrick, 3rd Earl of Kinghorne, 11th Lord Glamis, obtained a new royal charter in 1677 by which the earldom was extended to ‘Strathmore and Kinghorne’. He had inherited an enormous debt from his father, but remarkably managed to turn this round through a combination of the sale of some peripheral lands, strict economy and great business acumen. Thus, he made substantial additions to the estates retained and spent large sums on buildings and improvements at Glamis and Castle Lyon (now Huntly Castle). He records these proceedings in his well known ‘Book of Record’, 1684-1689.


The surname ‘Bowes’ arrived at Glamis in the 18th century. Mary Eleanor Bowes was the daughter and sole heir of Sir George Bowes, MP, the prominent coal magnate, who held extensive lands in the County of Durham and elsewhere in England and was a direct descendant of Sir Robert Bowes, who was Queen Elizabeth I’s Ambassador to Scotland from 1577 to 1583. Mary Eleanor married John, 9th Earl, in 1767 and a stipulation of her marriage contract, previously laid down by her father before his death in 1760, was that any future husbands should take the name of Bowes. The 9th Earl did so, but although the marriage resulted in 5 children, it was not a happy one and it ended with the Earl’s death in 1776. As a wealthy heiress, Mary Eleanor soon become the focus of fortune hunters, the most persistent and devious of which was her second husband, Andrew Stoney Bowes, who duped her into marriage following a fake dual in 1777. After years of mental and physical abuse, Mary Eleanor managed to escape from her husband and was granted a divorce in 1786. Her son from her first marriage, John, 10th Earl of Strathmore, took the name of Bowes, but following his death, the name gradually evolved into Lyon Bowes and then Bowes Lyon.


Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon, the youngest daughter of the 14th Earl, married Prince Albert, Duke of York in 1923 and subsequently spent several happy holidays at Glamis with her husband, who was crowned King George VI in 1937, and their children, Princess Elizabeth (H.R.H. The Queen) and Princess Margaret Rose, who was born at Glamis in 1930. Patrick, the eldest of the Queen Mother’s six brothers, succeeded as 15th Earl and was in turn succeeded by his surviving son, Timothy, the 16th Earl. As Timothy died without issue, his cousin, Fergus, became the 17th Earl, and Fergus was succeeded by his son, Michael, the 18th Earl. The 19th and present Earl, Simon, succeeded his father in 2016.





Lyon, Reginald Dennis, The Story of the Lyon Family (a printed, unpublished compilation of information from different sources including The Scots Peerage, Vol.VIII, 1911 by Somerville/Winton)


Moore, Wendy, Wedlock: How Georgian Britain’s Worst Husband Met his Match (W & N, 2009)


Shawcross, William, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother: The Official Biography (Macmillan, 2009)


Stirton, Rev. John, Glamis A Parish History (W. Shepherd, Forfar, 1913)