Sir Richard Maitland

1496 - 1586

Lawyer and blind poet. Maitland studied law at the University of St Andrews and in Paris. He was employed by King James V (1512-42) and, under the Regency that followed James' death, was appointed a Lord of Session (1551) and Lord Privy Seal (1562). He went on to serve Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-87) and James VI (1566 - 1625) as Privy Counsellor and Keeper of the Great Seal, but seems to have managed to avoid the divisive politics of the time. He became blind in his mid-60s and occupied himself in writing, including poetry, a History of the House of Seaton and satires such as Aganis the Theivis of Liddeadaill. Maitland collected early Scottish poetry which he included with his own works in the Maitland Folio Manuscript, which together with the Maitland Quarto Manuscript, completed by his daughter, represent important literary works now held by the Pepysian Library at Magdalene College, Cambridge.

His sons included William Maitland (c.1525-73), who became a powerful Secretary of State, and Sir John Maitland of Thirlestane (c.1545-95). A literary society, the Maitland Club, was founded in his honour in Glasgow in 1828.

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