In 1291 in the period of the First Interregnum, claimants to the Scottish throne included John Balliol and Robert de Bruce, the father of Robert the Bruce. In 1292 on St. Andrew's Day, John Balliol (descended from Margaret, eldest daughter of David, the grandson of David I) ascended to the throne, so commencing ownership by the Crown, the ultimate feudal Superior. In July, 1296, John Balliol abdicated, and Scotland was without a King for the next ten years (the Second Interregnum). Balliol was succeeded on Scotland's throne by Robert the Bruce. Balliol died on his family estates at Bailleul, France, c1314.

Robert the Bruce (Bruis), of Norman family origin, was born in Ayrshire in 1274. His life and times is well documented. An important Scottish Commander with Robert I at the victorious Battle of Bannockburn (against Edward II) was Sir Robert Boyd, who was gifted the lands of Kilmarnock in reward in 1316. A view of the Royal Charter to Robert Boyd of 1316 is given here. So commenced the succession of owners and feudal Superiors.

All land held under feudal tenure originates from a Crown Charter, and the Charters from 1306-1668 are recorded in these 11 volumes of Registrum Magni Sigilli Regum Scotorum aka The Register of the Great Seal of Scotland. The naming of a feu as a 'Lordship & Barony' is uncommon. In this case, on 12 January 1592 Thomas Boyd, 6th Lord Boyd, having resigned his estate to King James VI of Scotland, obtained a new charter "erecting the same into a free Lordship and Barony, to be called the 'Lordship and Barony of Kilmarnock' to himself for life, with remainder to his son and heir apparent, and remainder to heirs male". NB The Lordship was/is not a Regality.

•   Sir Robert Boyd of Noddsdale d1333.
•   Sir Thomas Boyd d1365. Presumed to have built the keep of Kilmarnock Castle.
•   Sir Thomas Boyd d1410.
•   Thomas Boyd d1432.
•   Sir Thomas Boyd d1439.
•   Robert Boyd d1482. 1st Lord Boyd. The Palace built c1460.

The palace is on the west side of the courtyard, detached from the north tower. It has a five-storey tower at one end, whilst the remainder is two storeys high, with attics. The tower has a garret within a corbelled parapet.]

•   Thomas Boyd. Earl of Arran, married Mary, sister of James III, 1467. Died c1473.
•   James Boyd d1484. 2nd Lord Boyd.
•   Alexander Boyd d1515. Leased the Lordship from Queen Margaret Tudor, 1508.

["And the said princess sall cause the castell and place of Kilmernock to be theket and maid watter ticht incontinent with all deligence apoun the expense of the said hie and mitchtie princess."]

•   Robert Boyd d1557. 4th Lord Boyd.
•   Robert Boyd d1590. 5th Lord Boyd. Supporter of Mary, Queen of Scots.
•   Thomas Boyd d1611. 6th Lord Boyd. Founded Burgh of Kilmarnock 1591.
•   Robert Boyd d1597.
•   Robert Boyd d1628. 7th Lord Boyd.
•   Robert Boyd d1640. 8th Lord Boyd.
•   James Boyd d1654. 9th Lord Boyd, brother of 7th Lord Boyd.
•   William Boyd d1692.1st Earl of Kilmarnock.
•   William Boyd d1692. 2nd Earl of Kilmarnock.
•   William Boyd d1717. 3rd Earl of Kilmarnock.
•   William Boyd d1746. 4th Earl of Kilmarnock. Joined the Jacobite Rising.
•   James Boyd (later Hay). 15th Earl of Erroll. Sold Kilmarnock lands to the 13th Earl of Glencairn. d1778.

Below is an animation by Smudge Digital relating the story of the Boyd Family, Dean Castle and its history, kindly shared by East Ayrshire Leisure:

In 1735 the Castle was gutted with fire. In 1748 the Boyd connection with the Lordship & Barony of Kilmarnock ended. During this period the Castle and Estate reverted back to the Crown four times. It has been occupied by Princess Mary, sister of James III; owned by Margaret Tudor, Queen-consort of James IV (who leased to Boyds), and restored to the Boyds by Mary, Queen of Scots in 1545.

•   William Cunningham, 13th Earl of Glencairn d1755.
•   James Cunningham, 14th Earl of Glencairn d1791. Influential friend of Robert Burns.

James Cunningham sold Dean Castle and the Kilmarnock Estate in 1786 to Henrietta, 'the rich Miss Scott', eldest daughter of General John Scott of Balcomie. Henrietta married the Marquis of Titchfield, later the 4th Duke of Portland, in 1795. They had nine children. The inheritance passed to one of her daughters, Lady Lucy Joan Cavendish-Bentinck, who married Charles Augustus Ellis, the 6th Lord Howard de Walden, in 1828. The Dower House by the Castle was built c1800-1850. Her grandson, Thomas Evelyn Ellis, the 8th Lord Howard de Walden and 4th Lord Seaford, inherited the Kilmarnock Estate and Dean Castle and added Scott to his name.
The 8th Lord de Walden began restoration of the Castle in 1905. He completed the keep in 1908 and the palace in 1946, adding a Lorimeresque gatehouse (vide Tolquhon Castle, built 1580).

A fine illuminated manuscript from the Ayrshire tenantry in 1902 to welcome the 8th Lord de Walden can be seen here.

The 9th Lord Howard de Walden gifted Dean Castle and 40 acres of land, with a fine collection of arms, armour, tapestries, and musical instruments to 'the people of Kilmarnock' in 1975. The former Kilmarnock and Loudoun District Council purchased an additional 160 acres of land. The remaining land was sold to investors. The Castle opened as a public museum in 1976, and the Country Park development was formally opened in 1980. The Castle and Country Park is now maintained by the East Ayrshire Council.

•   Henrietta Scott d1844.
•   William Henry Cavendish Cavendish-Scott-Bentinck, 4th Duke of Portland. d1854.
•   Lady Lucy Joan Cavendish-Bentinck d1899.
•   Thomas Evelyn Scott-Ellis, 4th Baron Seaford and 8th Lord Howard de Walden d1946.
•   John Osmael Scott-Ellis, 5th Baron Seaford and 9th Lord Howard de Walden d1999.
•   Eur Ing David Ayre, 29th Baron of Kilmarnock, 2002-2018.

The Abolition of Feudal Tenure etc. (Scotland) Act 2000 brought the feudal system of land tenure to an end on the 28th November 2004. However, the Act 2000 has preserved Scotland's Baronage and the heraldic rights of Scotland's Barons.

NB. Baron of Kilmarnock (notice the word 'of' here) is a territorial dignity whereas 'Baron Kilmarnock' is a peerage title and is a personal dignity. Furth of Scotland the difference is often unnoticed, misunderstood or confused.


1 -   Early Boyd references in 'The Genealogy of the Existing British Peerage: With Sketches of the Family' can be read here.

Images above depict the place of execution of Lord Kilmarnock at Tower Hill, London. A ticket to attend the high treason trial can be seen here.