The Scottish Laird Title and History of the Blackwood Estate

The laird title is based on old Scots law and custom and is a title of ‘corporeal hereditament’ (an inheritable property that has an explicit tie to the physical land). The title may not be bought or sold without the land, as opposed to a British lord title which follows the holder even if he sells the estate and moves somewhere else. Nevertheless, the laird title may be inherited and sold together with the land.

The title of laird is the Scottish equivalent to that of an English squire in the sense that it is a courtesy title and does not give the owner the right to sit in the House of Lords.

Many male lairds choose instead to use the English translation lord, since it is more well-known outside of Scotland. However, it should be noted that this is not the equivalent of an English lordship, which is a title of peerage.

The Lairdship of Blackwood is one of the most notable and well documented lairdships in Scotland. It has existed since medieval times, and in the 1500-1600s the seat of Blackwood was a feudal barony. The Lairds of Blackwood have made their mark on Scottish history and feature in Scottish lore, folk songs and noble tradition, and the Blackwood district has been their native soil for hundreds of years. Your property will be situated right at the centre of the Blackwood Estate in close proximity to the location of the original Blackwood House.

The Blackwood Estate was the head seat of the prominent Weir / Vere family from medieval times until the 1930s. Lord Thomas Macaulay, Victorian historian supreme, describes this family as ‘the longest and most illustrious line of nobles that England has seen’. The de Veres were originally of French descent and have been linked to the Merovingian bloodline.

The history of the estate dates back to the Norman Conquest at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 when the de Vere family arrived in Britain from France. Ralph De Vere rebelled against Henry II and was taken prisoner alongside Richard the Lionheart in 1174. He subsequently formed an allegiance with King William I of Scotland and was awarded vast tracts of land in Lanarkshire. This land became known as Blackwood Estate, the largest estate in Lanarkshire.

In the 1600s the Laird of Blackwood Estate was a supporter of the Covenanters and in May 1685 Covenanter John Broun was shot close to Blackwood House. The martyr’s grave is located within the estate.

In 1733 Catherine Weir, heiress of Blackwood Estate, married the Honourable Charles Hope and the family name was changed to Hope Vere. In 1810 the family employed John Begg as land steward and he lived on the estate with his wife Isabella, younger sister of Scotland’s national poet Robert Burns. The Bard is said to have been a regular visitor to the estate.

More recently, the history of the Blackwood Estate and the de Vere family has inspired a fantasy trilogy.