William Boyd, 4th Earl of Kilmarnock

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William Boyd, 4th Earl of Kilmarnock

Birthplace: Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire, Scotland, United Kingdom
Death: August 18, 1746 (41)
Tower Hill, London, United Kingdom (Beheaded)
Place of Burial: The Tower of London, London, United Kingdom
Immediate Family:

Son of William Boyd, 3rd Earl of Kilmarnock and Eupheme Ross
Husband of Lady Anne Livinstone
Father of William Boyd (died age 3); James Hay, 15th Earl of Erroll; Charles Boyd and William Boyd

Managed by: Jason Scott Wills
Last Updated:

About William Boyd, 4th Earl of Kilmarnock


William Boyd (1704 – 18 August 1746), 4th Earl of Kilmarnock, was a Scottish nobleman.

William Boyd was educated at Glasgow. Like his father in the rebellion of 1715, William initially supported the Government side, but in the rebellion of 1745, owing either to a personal affront or to the influence of his wife or to his straitened circumstances he deserted George II and joined Charles Edward Stuart, the Young Pretender.

Made a Privy Counsellor to Charles, he was appointed a colonel of guards and subsequently a general. He fought at Falkirk and Culloden, where he was taken prisoner, and was beheaded on Tower Hill on 18 August 1746.

He was buried in the Chapel Royal of St. Peter ad Vincula in the Tower of London.

On his coffin was a plate with the inscription, "Gulielmus. Comes. de Kilmarnock decollatus, 18 Augusti, 1746, Ætat. suæ 42," with an earl's coronet over it, and 6 coronets over the six handles.

Evidence from the National Records of Scotland

The title of the Kilmarnock Earldom in the Peerage of Scotland was forfeighted at the time of his execution.

30 August 1777: Heritable Bond by William, Earl of Kilmarnock, to Charlotte Maria Gardner, daughter of the late Countess Dowager of Kilmarnock, and relict of Mr William Wright, Minister in Kilmarnock, for payment of £400 sterling conform to articles of agreement between the said Earl of Kilmarnock, and Lady Mary Boyd, widow of Thomas Boyd, of the city of Dublin, Ireland. Dated at Kilmarnock, 30 Aug 1727. National Records of Scotland, Boyd Papers, Burgh of Kilmarnock, reference GD8/991

Before his execution, he wrote to a friend from prison about his indebtedness to the shoemakers of Elgin

"Beside my personal debts mentioned in general and particular in the State, there is one for which I am liable in justice, if it is not paid, owing to poor people who gave their work for it by my orders. It was at Elgin in Murray, the Regiment I commanded wanted shoes. I commissioned something about seventy pair of shoes and brogues, which might come to 3 shillngs or three shillings and sixpence each, one with the other. The magistrates divided them among the shoemakers of the town and country, and each shoemaker furnished his proportion. I drew on the town, for the price, out of the composition laid on them, but I was afterwards told at Inverness that, it was believed, the composition was otherwise applied, and the poor shoemakers not paid. As these poor people wrought by my orders, it will be a great ease to my heart to think they are not to lose by me, as too many have done in the course of that year, but had I lived I might have made some inquiry after: but now it is impossible, as their hardships in loss of horses and such things, which happeened through my soldiers, are so interwoven with what was done by other people, that it would be very hard, if not impossible, to separate them. If you'll write to Mr Innes of Dalkinty at Elgin (with whom I was quartered when I lay there), he will send you an account of the shoes, and if they were paid to the shoemakers or no; and if they are not, I beg you'll get my wife, or my successors to pay them when they can......"

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William Boyd, 4th Earl of Kilmarnock's Timeline

May 12, 1705
Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire, Scotland, United Kingdom
April 20, 1726
Age 20
Falkirk, Falkirk, UK
February 10, 1728
Age 22
Age 22
August 18, 1746
Age 41
London, United Kingdom
London, United Kingdom