Mottoes: Pro rege et patria (Leslie) (For king and country),
Denique coelom (Heaven at last)
Two conflicting derivations have been offered for the name Melville; one from the Barony of Malleville in the Pays de Caux in Normandy, the other from lands in Midlothian where a Baron of Anglo-Norman lineage, named Male, settled under David I and called his manor ‘Maleville’. The former is regarded as more likely. Guillaume de Malleville was one of the companions of William, Duke of Normandy, at the Battle of Hastings 1066. Galfrid de Maleville was ‘vicecomes’ of Edinburgh Castle for Malcolm IV. He served as Justiciary of Scotland under William the Lion. His granddaughter carried the Barony of Melville with her.
Sir John de Melville, one of the great barons of Scotland, appears on the Ragman roll, swearing fealty to Edward I in 1296. His descendant, Sir John Melville of Raith, was a favourite of James V. He was also on the first supporters of the Reformation in Scotland, eventually being falsely implicated in the murder of Cardinal Beaton and executed in 1550. His eldest son was restored to the family estates by Mary of Guise around 1553. The name became an earldom in 1690 with George, first Earl of Melville.
In 1713 the family inherited the earldom of Leven and the Castle of Balgonie. Thus the title Lord Balgonie has been borne by the heir. The family excelled both in the army and in the legal world. The family seat is now at Glenferness in Nairn. Melville Castle was entirely rebuilt by the Dundas family, who have the title Viscount Melville but no connection with the chiefly family.
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