Melville, George Melville, 1st earl of

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Melville, George Melville, 1st earl of [S] (1636–1707). Melville succeeded to his father's barony when he was 7. An ardent presbyterian from Fife, he was implicated in the Rye House plot and gave support to the Monmouth rising. In exile he joined William of Orange. He was prevented by illness from taking part in the expedition of 1688 but followed soon after. He was raised to the earldom in 1690 and his family had great influence in Scotland during William's reign. Melville himself was secretary of state [S] 1689–90, lord privy seal [S] 1690–6, and lord president of the council [S] 1696–1702. His eldest son Lord Raith was treasurer depute [S] 1688–9 but predeceased his father; his second son Lord Leven was governor of Edinburgh castle 1689–1702 and commander-in-chief [S] 1706. An advanced Whig, Melville was dismissed by Anne in 1702. Macaulay characterized him as prudent and circumspect rather than talented: ‘a very mean figure in his person, being low, thin, with a great head, a long chin, and little eyes’ was Macky's unkind description.

J. A. Cannon