Sir Andrew Kennedy, Conservator of the Scots Privileges in the Netherlands

St Andrews Day Special

Written by Iain Kennnedy on St. Andrews Day, 2007

Copyright © 2007 Iain Kennedy

In 1407 the Duke of Burgundy created a role entitled 'Conservator of the Scots Privileges in the Low Countries' (see Friends of Dundee City Archives for further information). This role was later held by up to three Kennedys; Sir James Kennedy ('Conservator of the Scots Liberties in the Netherlands') who died in 1689, Sir Andrew Kennedy of Clowburn appointed in 1689 whose testament was proved in 1727, eik added 1728 ('Conservator to the Scots Privileges at Campvere') and his son Sir John Vere Kennedy (will proved in 1729). The latter two held the title jointly.

Of these, it is Andrew Kennedy who seems to have had the hardest time in the job. Unfortunately he got entangled in a long running legal dispute with Sir Alexander Cuming over the office. By 1705 he was petitioning the Scottish Parliament thus: 'the petitioner has been in possession more than fifteen years and did justly judge himself secured therein as his property unless he should forfeit it by his malversations, and that the same were declared against him'. Sir Andrew continued 'the petitioner is of late surprised by a commission alleged to be granted by her majesty of his said place and office in favour of Sir Alexander Cumming of Culter'.

In 1708 Kennedy complains of the 'unusual, extraordinary and illegal measures' taken against him on Sir Alexander’s commission. In 1711 the Attorney-General compiled a report for Queen Anne on 'the conflict between Sir Andrew Kennedy and Sir Alexander Cuming for the office of Conservator of Priveleges in the Netherlands', in which he found in favour of Kennedy. The House of Lords April 19, 1711 ruled the commission of Cuming dated 7 April 1705 void. In 1713, Sir Andrew was forced to petition the House of Lords to 'stop Sir Alexander Cuming interfering in the affairs of their office'. Eventually the queen decided to reinstate Kennedy and gave the order to restore Andrew and John to the office on 3 July 1713. An undated petition exists in which Kennedy asks the queen for arrears of pay withheld from both him and his son, conjunct Conservators, during the conflict.

Sir Andrew's testament mentions his job and some relatives - sisters Beatrice Grizell, Ann and Marion Kennedy. Andrew died in Edinburgh on the 17th October 1725. The testament appointed one William Forbes as executor dative.

Sir Andrew's son Sir John wrote his last will in 1727 although it doesn't mention his role as Conservator: in summary

"I Sir John Vere Kennedy in the parish of St Martins in the liberty of Westminster Baronet being in a good state of health and of sound and disposing mind but considering the uncertainty of life and the certainty of death do make and ordain this my last will and testament in manner following:

first, I give and bequeath my soul to almighty God ... and my body I commit to the earth to be buried at the direction of my executrix herein after named

I give all my real and personal estate ... to my dearly beloved wife Dame Elizabeth Kennedy and to my children by her

I hereby nominate my said dear and loving wife Dame Elizabeth Kennedy whole and sole executrix

[I] have set my hand and seal the twenty fifth day of March anno domini 1727"


Domestic State Papers, Queen Anne (various entries 1702-1714). National Archives, Kew.

House of Lords Journal Volume 19: 19 April 1711', Journal of the House of Lords: volume 19: 1709-1714 (1802), pp. 275-277

The Records of the Parliaments of Scotland to 1707, K.M. Brown et al eds (St Andrews, 2007), 1705/6/119.

Dundee City Archives.

Testaments, Edinburgh Commissary Court

Wills, Prerogative Court of Canterbury