Wautier de Wederburn, who rendered homage to Edward I in 1296, is the first of this name who appears on record in Scotland. The lands of Wederburn lay in Berwickshire. References can also be found to John de Wedderburn living in 1364, and William de Wedderburn living between 1426 and 1452. However, the lands of Wedderburn passed at an early date to the family of Home.

Following the decline of the Borders Wedderburns, the family seems to have settled in Forfarshire. By the year 1400, four distinct yet closely related Wedderburn families could be found in Dundee and at Kingennie in Forfar. One of the Dundee families was that of James Wedderburn, whose three sons, James, John and Robert, were among the earliest Scottish Protestant reformers. They united to round the famous Guide and Godlie Ballads, otherwise known as the Wedderburn Psalms. From the eldest of these brothers descended James Wedderburn, Bishop of Dunblane in 1636, who, as the friend of Archbishop Laud and those responsible for introducing a new liturgy to the Church, was driven from Scotland in 1638. He retired to Canterbury, where he is buried in the cathedral. Two Dundee families are now extinct in the direct male line of Walter Wedderburn of Welgait and David Wedderburn, ancestor of the lairds of Craigie.

The fourth and by far the most important family of this name sprang from Robert Wedderburn. His grandson, Alexander, was clerk of Dundee from 1557 to 1582. Alexander’s son, Wedderburn of Kingennie, was a favourite of James VI, and accompanied him to England in 1603. On his return to Scotland, the king presented him with a ring from his own hand. His descendants obtained a Crown charter in 1708 erecting the lands of Easter Powrie into a barony to be called Wedderburn. This branch of the family became extinct in the male line on the death of David Wedderburn of Wedderburn in 1761, and the estates passed to the Scrymgeours, who thereafter added the additional surname of Wedderburn to their own name. His brother, James, had a son, Alexander of Blackness, who was one of the commissioners to the Treaty of Ripon in 1641 and one of the deputation who went from Scotland to meet with the ill-fated Charles I at Newcastle in 1646. His son, Sir John Wedderburn, was an advocate at the Scottish Bar and Clerk of the Bills. He was created a baronet by Queen Anne in 1704.


His grandson, Sir John, entered the army, and married and died in 1723. He had sold Blackness to his cousin, Sir Alexander, who also succeeded to the baronetcy. Alexander was deposed from the office of Clerk of Dundee for Jacobite sympathies. His eldest son was also a Jacobite, and served as a volunteer in Lord Ogilvy’s regiment at the Battle of Culloden, where he was taken prisoner. He was convicted and executed for treason in 1746, when the baronetcy was forfeited. His eldest son, who was also at Culloden, survived and fled to Jamaica.

Sir David Wedderburn of Balindean, who was MP for Perth and Postmaster-General for Scotland, succeeded to the chiefship of the family, and in 1775 was created a baronet. Alexander Wedderburn, the great-grandson of the judge, Sir Peter Wedderburn of Gosford, became a distinguished lawyer in his own right, and Solicitor General for Scotland. He spoke against the Government’s policies in the American colonies, and predicted that they would break away from the British Empire. He was created Lord Loughborough in 1780 and Earl of Rosslyn in 1801. He was succeeded in the earldom by his nephew, Sir James St Clair Erskine.

The chiefship of the family is now held within the family of the Scrymgeour-Wedderburns, the Earls of Dundee. By family arrangement, the chiefship of Wedderburn is held by the eldest son of the earl who is himself chief of the Scrymgeours. When the Wedderburn chief succeeds to the earldom, the chiefship passes to his heir.


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