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Queen Elizabeth II’s Rebel Ancestors

The Jacobite Revolts

By Dr. David Dobson

The People of Strathmore, 1600-1799

The Scottish place-name Strathmore is derived from the Gaelic words An Srath Mor, signifying the broad or big valley.  Strathmore lies in eastern Scotland, between the Grampian Mountains and the Sidlaw Hills, and runs in a north-east direction from Perth through eastern Perthshire, toward the Mearns alias Kincardineshire. Strathmore is a fertile valley containing several small towns and many farming communities. One of the major land-owning families of Strathmore was the Lyons based at Glamis, who supported  the Jacobite Cause in the eighteenth century.  The following essay by Dr. David Dobson describes the Lyons pedigree  and its surprising connection to the person who currently occupies the throne of Great Britain, Elizabeth II.

“The Lyon family first came into prominence in fourteenth-century Scotland when John Lyon [1340-1382] became Lord Chancellor, a leading civil servant, and later Thane of Glamis in Strathmore, Angus.  His descendants were staunch supporters of the Stuart kings from the medieval period right through to the early modern period.  The Lyon family’s connection with Glamis continued from the fourteenth century until the present day.  In 1445 Patrick Lyon was created Lord Glamis, a title which has remained since then, and was supplemented by Earl of Kinghorne, and eventually Earl of Strathmore in 1677.  The Lyons supported the Stuart kings throughout the centuries – during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms [1638-1651] – they supported King Charles I and later his son King Charles II and opposed Oliver Cromwell.  Their Royalist sympathies and their Episcopalian commitment resulted in their support for the Jacobites from 1689 until 1746.

The Scottish Jacobites of 1715 and the Jacobite Diaspora

Patrick Lyon, 1643-1695, 11th Lord Glamis, 3rd Earl of Kinghorne, and 1st Earl of Strathmore, married Helen Middleton, daughter of the Earl of Middleton, in 1662. The couple had three sons, John, Patrick, and Charles.  John Lyon married Elizabeth Stanhope in 1691, inherited his father’s lands and titles in 1695, and died in 1712.  Their son John Lyon, Earl of Strathmore joined the Jacobites along with a battalion of men from his estates, in 1715, as Commander of the Earl of Tullibardine’s Regiment of Foot, but was killed at Sheriffmuir.  His brother Patrick Lyon of Auchterhouse, also actively supported the Jacobite Rising of 1715 and was present at the Raising of the Standard of the Jacobites at Braemar in 1715. He served as Lieutenant Colonel of the Earl of Panmure’s Regiment of Foot and was killed at the Battle of Sheriffmuir on 13 November 1715. The family was fortunate to hold on to their lands and titles, although at least two Lyons were transported to the colonies to be sold as indentured servants.

These Lyons were certainly rebels in the eyes of the Hanoverian government of King George, but in their eyes they were fighting for their rightful king -King James VIII who was in exile.  Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, 1900-2002, was daughter of the 14th Earl of Strathmore and wife of King George VI.  Their daughter Elizabeth is the present Queen and the descendant of ‘Jacobite rebels’. “

For more information about the Lyons family of Scotland, other landed families of Strathmore, and the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715 in particular, please consult Dr. Dobson’s two recent books:

6 thoughts on “Queen Elizabeth II’s Rebel Ancestors

  1. My grandfather (5th) William Lyon was banished to Jamestown, VA in 1716 on the Elizabeth and Anne. He was a lieutenant in the Jacobite forces. He was listed on the manifest as not indentured. His brother Philip was sent to Charleston, SC the same year. What information could you give me as to his relationship to Elizabeth II, if any.


    Thomas Lyon

    1. I will contact Mr. Dobson and see if he has any additional information about your ancestor.

  2. I am also a descendant of this same William Lyon and am searching for information on his years in VA. Any information would be appreciated.

    1. Dear Reta,

      Here’s what author David Dobson had to say about the Virginia Lyons: “My ‘Scots on the Chesapeake, 1621 -1776’ volume identifies 7 Lyons there that may be worth him investigating. The Queen’s ancestry is well recorded in certain of Burke’s publications, especially ‘The Kingdom in Scotland’. NB the aristocracy were more inclined to be persecutors of the Covenanters than identify with them. There is an archivist at Glamis Castle the ancestral home of the Queen and the Lyon family.”

  3. My ancestor Henry Lyon and his brother Thomas were with Cromwell and apparently witnessed the beheading . Both left and arrived in what would become Connecticut in 1649

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