John Maitland duke of Lauderdale

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Lauderdale, John Maitland, 2nd earl of [S] (1616–82). Born to a Lowland territorial base, Lauderdale subscribed to the Scottish National Covenant in 1638 and usually adhered to the nationalist and monarchic persuasions which underlay it. His record through the Civil War—he was prominent in negotiating the ‘Engagement’ with Charles I in December 1647 and in persuading Charles II to go to Scotland in 1650—demonstrated Lauderdale's Scottish royalism; and he suffered imprisonment in England and severe material loss during the Republic. His strangely enduring hold upon Charles II ensured a dominant role in Scottish government throughout the 1660s and 1670s, earning him the fear and detestation of compatriots. But he could never bring the king round to an absolutist-structured government in Scotland through which England might be coerced. Elevated to a dukedom and the Garter in 1672, Lauderdale's second marriage to his paramour the countess of Dysart saw his insolence, avariciousness, and brutality freed from all inhibition. Yet this unattractive couple were discerning patrons of the arts, and Lauderdale's formidable learning was never contested.

David Denis Aldridge