Alexander Home, 1st Earl of Home

Alexander Home, 1st Earl of Home (1566?–1619), was a Scottish nobleman, also 6th Lord Home.


Early life

Born about 1566, he was son of Alexander Home, 5th Lord Home, by his second wife. On the death of his father in 1575 he was placed under the guardianship of Andrew Home, commendator of Jedburgh. The custody of the castle of Home had been committed by the Regent Morton to the widow of the fifth baron, and on 30 November 1578 she and her husband complained that the commendator refused to deliver it up. He was ordered to do so, but in December 1579 it was arranged that the castle should be retained by Lord Home and the commendator, his tutor, in his name. In 1581 Alexander Hume of Manderston and others were ordered to restore to Home certain lands. In July of the following year Home, as warden of the east marches, received a special commission to hold justiciary courts in his district.[1]

Ruthven raider

Home was one of those who signed the agreement which resulted in the Raid of Ruthven. In November 1583 a violent brawl occurred between him and Francis Stewart, 5th Earl of Bothwell, in the streets of Edinburgh. Both were ordered into ward, and Home was not released till 20 January 1585. For a time he was a prisoner in Tantallon Castle, but in December was transferred to Edinburgh Castle by way of the Nether Bow, so that he might see exposed there the head of one of his dependents, David Hume, captain of Stirling Castle.[1]

Opposition to the Earl of Arran

Despite hereditary jealousy of Bothwell, and his earlier violent quarrel with him, Home, soon after obtaining his liberty, co-operated with him in the scheme for the restoration of the banished lords and the overthrow of Regent Arran. Along with Bothwell, he fortified Kelso Castle, which became the rendezvous of the insurgents. He was one of those received into favour by the king after Arran's fall. In the complaint of the kirk's commissioners to the king in 1587, he is mentioned as one of the "Papists and idolators" who had been promoted by the king. At the meeting of parliament in this year a quarrel occurred between Home and Lord Fleming on account of the latter being allowed by the council to vote before the other lords. Home challenged Fleming to a duel, but the combat was prevented by the citizens of Edinburgh, and the king subsequently reconciled them.[1]

Rivalry with Bothwell

After the fall of Arran the old jealousy between Home and Bothwell broke out anew. When the king in 1589 sailed to Denmark to convoy the Princess Anne to Scotland, they were specially charged to keep the peace towards each other. Home, however, for a time befriended Bothwell when that nobleman fell into disgrace with the king. After Bothwell, on 22 June 1591, broke ward out of Edinburgh Castle, he dined the same evening with Home in Leith; and on account of his having openly joined Bothwell, proclamation was, on 2 Aug., made for his pursuit. Soon afterward he went to Blackness Castle, and was reported to have turned an enemy of Bothwell.[1]

A Catholic & the Kirk

On 17 November 1592 a convention of ministers sent a request to the king that he should remove Home, a professed papist, out of his company. The king consented to the appointment of a commission to inquire into such matters. On more stringent measures being threatened against the Catholics, Home, on 23 January 1593, appeared before the presbytery of Edinburgh, and, professing himself a Catholic, desired a conference. In June 1593 he assisted James Gray, brother of Patrick, master of Gray, in forcibly carrying off a young heiress, guarding the High Street with his retainers till the deed was accomplished. After Bothwell's interview with King James in Holyrood Palace in July of this year, the king, regarding himself as practically a prisoner, entered into communications with Home to aid him to escape to Falkland Palace, but the king's plan was discovered, and frustrated by Bothwell. Home was made captain of the king's bodyguard, and openly expressed his contempt for Bothwell.[1]

Meantime, having failed to satisfy the demands of the kirk, Home was on 25 September excommunicated by the synod of Fife. He remained in close company with the king, with whom he journeyed in October to Jedburgh. On 22 December he subscribed the confession of faith at the special instance of the ministers of Edinburgh; and in May 1594 he was, on promising to adhere to Protestantism, absolved from excommunication.[1]

Pursuit of Bothwell

On 27 March 1594 Home had received a commission to pursue Bothwell. A skirmish took place with Bothwell's men near Arthur's Seat, but Home was driven back by Bothwell's infantry. At the opening of the parliament in May he accompanied the king to the Tolbooth, riding on his left hand. At this parliament he was chosen a lord of the articles. After the banishment of Bothwell, his estates were divided chiefly among Home, Kerr of Cessford, and Scott of Buccleugh, Home obtaining Coldingham Priory. In May 1596 an English paper listing reasons to suspect James VI of being himself a Roman Catholic, included the appointment of known Catholics to household offices, noting William Schaw the architect, Schaw's friend Alexander Seton as President of Council, and Home as the King's body guard.[2] Home was one of the noblemen appointed in November 1596 to assist the lords of exchequer, and he was present with the king when he was besieged in the Tolbooth during the tumult of 18 December.[1]

Last years

In April 1599 Home went abroad, and resigned the office of warden of the east marches, which was bestowed on Sir Alexander Home of Manderston. He and others were summoned to appear on 11 August 1600 at Falkland Palace on pain of rebellion. Home obeyed the summons. In the following year he and other nobles who had previously been Catholics were subjected to more stringent superintendence by the authorities of the kirk; but the commissioner appointed to wait on Home reported that he was out of the country. Home was one of the retinue who in 1603 accompanied King James to England on his accession to the English throne, the king on his way staying for a night at Home's castle of Dunglass. On 7 July the king constituted him lieutenant and justiciary over the three marches. He was also sworn a privy councillor of England, and on 4 March 1605 was created Earl of Home and Lord Dunglass.[1]

Suspected again of Roman Catholicism, Home was ordered in 1606 to confine himself in Edinburgh. He died 5 April 1619.[1]


Home married first Christian, daughter of William Douglas, 6th Earl of Morton, and widow of Laurence, master of Oliphant. She died without issue by Home. His second wife was Mary Dudley Sutton, eldest daughter of Edward Sutton, 5th Baron Dudley, the son of the English keeper of Home Castle in 1547 during the Rough Wooing. They had a son James Home, 2nd Earl of Home, and two daughters: Margaret, married to James Stuart, 4th Earl of Moray; and Lady Anne, married to John Maitland, 1st Duke of Lauderdale.[1] His widow, the dowager Mary Countess of Home built Moray House in Edinburgh's Canongate.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10  Lee, Sidney, ed. (1891). "Home, Alexander (1566?-1619)". Dictionary of National Biography. 27. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  2. CSP. Scotland, vol. 12, (HMSO, Edinburgh, 1952), pp.227-8

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Lee, Sidney, ed. (1891). "Home, Alexander (1566?-1619)". Dictionary of National Biography. 27. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 

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