The Family of Maitland in Lauderdale, Scotland, of which Ian Colin
Maitland, 15th Earl of Lauderdale, is the present head, is very
distinguished and has been seated at Thirlestane Castle, Lauder, in
the County of Berwick, for nearly eight centuries.
Noted members of the family have been Sir Richard Maitland, the Blind
Knight of Thirlestane who successfully defended his fort at
Lauder against Edward I of England, and who was a devoted adherent
of Sir William Wallace, Regent of Scotland, and of King Robert the
Bruce; Sir William Maitland of Lethington, devoted friend and
counsellor of the ill-fated Mary, Queen of Scots; John, 1st Earl of
Lauderdale, Statesman; and John 2d Earl and Duke of Lauderdale, at
one time virtually the ruler of Scotland.
The family has been famous in politics and the fighting service
for centuries. General Sir Thomas Maitland, originator of the Order
of St. Michael and St. George, was Governor of Malta for many years
during the Napoleonic wars and was aptly named King Tom of the
Mediterranean. It was to his brother Admiral Maitland, that
Napoleon surrendered on board H.M.S. Bellerophon. Both the
14th Earl and the present head of the family served with distinction
in the World War, 1914-18. The present Earl of Lauderdale is
descended from a son of the 7th Earl, from who also members of the
American branch of the Maitland family are descended, the 10th, 11th
and 12th Earls having died without leaving male issue.
There is a tradition about the family to the effect that a curse
was laid upon John, Duke of Lauderdale, that no son of an Earl of
Lauderdale should inherit the title until the 13th Earl. Curiously,
that is what actually happened.
About forty years ago the late Countess of Lauderdale visited
Florida in a yacht. While she and her party were anchored near a
coast guard station on the East Coast, the Countess, not knowing the
port, called to a negro on shore and asked its name.
Fort Lauderdale, maam, was his reply. Mystified,
she went to her host and asked him what the joke was. He and the
other members of the party were so surprised that they went ashore
and interviewed the man who led them to a still-standing corner of
the old log fort from which the present City of Fort Lauderdale had
derived its name. This fort was built in 1832 by Major William
Lauderdale, a member of the Maitland family, who was in command of
the United States forces in this section of Florida against the
Seminole Indians at that time, and the fort was named in his honor.
It was later rebuilt on a different site.
In 1926 the late Countess of Lauderdale and the present Earl of
Lauderdale (then Lord Thirlestane) went to Fort Lauderdale and
presented to the city some stones from the original fort of the
Maitland family at Lauder, Scotland.
Federal Writers Project American Guide Series Miami,
Florida Williamson June 22, 1939
Letter to A.J. Henne from the Earl of Lauderdale, Thirlestane
Castle, Lauder, Scotland, 27 February, 1936.
Bernard Burke, Genealogical and Heraldic History of the
Peerage and Baronetage (90th edn., Burkes Peerage, Ltd.,
London, 1932), 1432 et seq.)
Fort Maitland, Its Origin & Hist. (A.J. Hanna, 1936),
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