Lauderdale, John Maitland, duke of

Lauderdale, John Maitland, duke of lôˈdərdāl [key], 1616–82, Scottish statesman. He entered public life as a staunch Presbyterian and was one of the commissioners who signed the Solemn League and Covenant (1643; see English civil war). However, in the course of Scottish dealings with Charles I that followed the end of the first civil war, he attached himself to the royalists. He gained the confidence of Charles II, was captured at the battle of Worcester (1650), and was held prisoner until 1660. At the Restoration (1660) Charles II made him secretary of state for Scotland. After 1667 he was a member of the Cabal ministry and became all-powerful in Scotland. Made earl of March and duke of Lauderdale (in the Scottish peerage) in 1672, he was raised to the English peerage as earl of Guilford and made a privy councillor in 1674. His rule in Scotland was arbitrary and harsh, and his use of Highland troops to suppress the Covenanters in the southwest provoked an uprising in 1679. Despite attacks in Parliament, he kept his influence by intrigues until 1680, when his health broke. In 1682 he gave up all his offices. Although able, he was arrogant and unscrupulous and ruthless, and was widely disliked.

See study by M. Paglin (1961).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: British and Irish History: Biographies