The bad boys in our top 10 of Scots behaving badly

There’s an old saying that women can’t resist bounders and cads.

From Lord Byron to Hugh Grant’s Daniel Cleaver in Bridget Jones’ Diary, the bad boys have always been a drawn.

Here’s our top ten men who behaved badly.

1. James Erskine, Lord Grange

Lord Grange was a Scottish judge who served as Lord Justice Clerk, however his treatment of his wife, Rachel, was anything but just. Not only did he play around and set up home with his mistress, but the 18th century cad arranged the abduction of his wife to prevent her from exposing him as a Jacobite. She was moved around various remote Scottish islands, including Heisker and St Kilda, to prevent her rescue. To defl ect suspicion, Erskine at one point even gave her a funeral prior to her eventual death thirteen years later on the Isle of Skye in 1745, the same year Bonnie Prince Charlie set foot on the island.

2. James Boswell

Best known as Samuel Johnson’s travelling companion, the Scottish biographer, diarist, drunk, gambler and all-round libertine also wrote in great detail about his hundreds of extra-marital affairs, often with prostitutes, during which he contracted venereal disease at least 17 times. Margaret, his long-suffering wife, had seven children, two of whom died in infancy, and there were at least another two children from Bozzy’s extra-marital liaisons.

3. James, Lord Forrester

In Corstorphine in 1679, the debauched Lord Forrester seduced his young married niece. After a lovers tiff, the young girl stabbed her drunken lover with his own sword – he may have had it coming. She confessed and
was executed, but her ghost is said to still haunt the scene of the crime.

4. Robert Burns

Scotland’s national bard was famously liberal with his affections and couldn’t resist drink, cards or woman. There’s no doubt that the fairer sex did inspire Rampant Robbie’s sexed-up sonnets and bawdy ballads, many of them regarded as rather scandalous for their time. Burns had twelve children by four women, with his wife Jean Armour bearing nine of these with six of them dying in infancy.

5. Sir William Gordon Cumming, 4th Baronet

After inheriting his title from his father, Sir William became a soldier and adventurer, leaving a trail of women, many of them married, in his wake. His conquests included Lillie Langrtry and Sarah Bernhardt but it was getting caught in bed with the Prince of Wales’ mistress Daisy, Lady Brooke that was to prove his undoing. Days later whilst playing baccarat with the Prince, Sir William was accused of cheating. He took all the players to court but lost and was socially ruined.

6. Ian Fleming

When it comes to women, Ian Fleming has much in common with his fictional creation, James Bond. He adopted a callous ‘love ‘em and leave ‘em’ approach and was forced to resign from Sandhurst after catching an STD from a prostitute. Fleming couldn’t keep his hands off women and equally they couldn’t resist him. Before you feel sorry for his wife Ann, she was equally unfaithful and apparently they exchanged steamy X-rated letters about whipping.

7. Josslyn Hay, 22nd Earl of Errol

The ultimate cad, after a scandalous marriage to a woman twice divorced and ten years older, Hay and his new wife moved to Kenya in 1924. Here Hay and his fellow expatriates, known as the Happy Valley set, indulged in adultery, excessive alcohol and drug consumption. Hay was found shot dead in his car outside Nairobi in 1941. The murder was never solved.

8. James IV

The Scottish King was well-known for his roving eye. Despite his marriage to Queen Margaret, he kept Lady Janet Kennedy as his official mistress. Records have also been found of a number of payments to Jane ‘barearse’, presumably not her real name.

9. Lord Byron

‘Mad, bad and dangerous to know’ is how Lady Caroline Lamb described Lord Byron. She was one of the poet’s many conquests, he apparently boasted of sleeping with 250 in Venice alone. Byron’s fame propelled him into a series of scandalous affairs with married women, men and even his half-sister, Augusta. Publishing the first two cantos of Don Juan whilst living with the married countess Teresa Guiccioli, Byron’s colourful private life almost eclipses his poetry.

10. James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell

The third husband of Mary, Queen of Scots, Bothwell paid the price for his philandering ways. After two disastrous marriages, Bothwell married the Queen, Mary Stuart, but had to fl ee Scotland after the death of Mary’s former husband, Lord Darnley (a man who very nearly made it into this list). Bothwell was accused of the murder, and fled to Norway, where he fell into the hands of his first wife’s relatives, who sent him to Dragsholm Castle, where he died ten years later.