The family name of the Earls of Rosebery is Primrose, a name associated with lands in Fife owned by Dunfermline Abbey. The earliest known member of the family, Henry, was born in 1490; his grandson James became Clerk to the Privy Council under James the VI and I and died in 1640.

James' son, Archibald Primrose, succeeded his father as Clerk to the Privy Council during the perilous period leading up to the Civil War. Praised by Charles I for his "fidelity, judgement and discretion", he fought on the Royalist side, lost his estates and, at one point, was under sentence of death. His capable and unswerving service to the exiled Stuart kings earned him a knighthood at the Restoration and appointment as Lord Clerk Register of Scotland. In 1662, he bought the Barony of Barnbougle and Dalmeny and moved into the 13th-century tower house on the shore.

Above: Sir Archibald Primrose by David Scougal, 1675

His youngest son, also Archibald, fought with the Imperial Army in Hungary during the reign of James the VII and II. On the 1st April 1700 he was raised to the peerage as Viscount Rosebery, a title he took from Rosebery Topping, a hill near his wife's estate in Yorkshire. He was made Earl of Rosebery in 1703 in Queen Anne's Coronation Honours.

There have been seven Earls of Rosebery and ten Countesses, three of the Earls having married twice. The eldest son of the Earl of Rosebery usually takes the courtesy title of Viscount Dalmeny.

design by smithandjohn.com © 2003 Dalmeny House