Maitlands & History

The history of the ground upon which Thirlestane Castle now stands dates back to at least the 12th Century and later a large Border fort was built on the site to defend the approach to Edinburgh from the south.

The central part of the present castle was completed in 1590, remodelled in the 1670s and then enlarged in the 1840s.

Throughout its long history, Thirlestane has belonged to the Maitland family, one of the most famous in Scotland.  The Maitlands came to Britain in 1066 with William the Conqueror and settled in Northumberland.  In about 1260, Sir Richard Maitland married Avicia daughter and sole heiress to Thomas du Thirlestane.  It was this marriage that bought the lands of Thirlestane and others into the ownership of the Maitland family.  The ruined remains of the family home at that time can still be seen two miles from the castle on the A697.

Through military service and their contributions to the law and the arts, the Maitlands gained increasingly in power and influence.  In 1590, John Maitland, whose elder brother Sir William Maitland of Lethington had served as Secretary to Mary, Queen of Scots, became Lord Chancellor of Scotland.  His son was later created 1st Earl of Lauderdale in 1624.

Today the castle is still the home of the Maitland family.  For further information about the Maitlands and the history of the castle download the pdf below.

Download History PDF

If you would like to do your own genealogy research then the following websites may be useful:

Borders Family History Society -
Borders Ancestry -
Scotland’s People -
National Records for Scotland -