House of Bethune

House of Bethune

The House of Béthune or House of Bethune (as it is usually written in English) is a French noble house dating back to about 1000 CE. They came from Béthune, in the former province of Artois in the north of France. They were traditionally lords (seigneurs) of the town and castle of Béthune and Advocates of the Abbey of St. Vaast at Arras. Later branches included hereditary princes, dukes, counts and archbishops as well as a cardinal.


Lords of Béthune and Advocates of Arras

  • Robert I Faisseux (or Fasciculus), seigneur de Béthune, Richebourg and Carency. is the first of the house of Bethune. He is thought by some to descend from the Counts of Artois.
  • Robert II, ca. 1066. son of Robert I.
  • Robert III, died 1100, son of Robert II.
  • Robert IV, died 1128, son of Robert III.
  • William I, died 1138, son of Robert IV.
  • Robert V "Le Roux", died 1191 on crusade at Acre in Palestine, son of William I.
  • Robert VI (d. 1194), eldest son of Robert V.
  • William II (or Guillaume) (died 1213), brother of Robert VI, by marriage lord of Dendermonde.
  • Daniel, died 1227, eldest son of William II.
  • Robert VII, died 1249 on crusade in Sardinia, second son of William II.
  • Maud (or Mahaut), daughter and heiress of Robert VII, married Guy, Count of Flanders, mother of Robert III, Count of Flanders, called Robert of Béthune.

Other members of the Artois branch

Béthunes in Palestine & Cyprus

A member of the Artois family, Adam, son of Robert III de Béthune (died 1100), went as a knight on the First Crusade in 1099 with Robert II, Count of Flanders, and was rewarded with the seigneurie of Bessan, now Beit She'an, in the Kingdom of Jerusalem. His descendants, some of whom married Armenians and Greeks, spread through Palestine and Cyprus.

Dukes of Sully

In the sixteenth century, descendants of the house of Artois lived at the Château de Rosny-sur-Seine, starting with Jean de Béthune. Baron of Baye, in 1529. His son was François de Béthune, Baron of Rosny, whose eldest son Louis died in 1578. His second son was Maximilien de Béthune, Duke of Sully (1559–1641), French minister, who became a Pair de France with his elevation to Duke of Sully. In 1602 he bought the Château de Sully-sur-Loire, which remained in the family until 1962, and in 1605 the principality of Boisbelle, where he founded the town of Henrichemont. Descendants of the first Duke of Sully include:

  • Maximilien II (1588-1634), his eldest son, Marquess of Rosny, Prince of Henrichemont, Baron of Bontin.
  • Maximilien François (1614–1661), his son, second Duke of Sully.
  • Maximilien Pierre Francois (1640-1694), his son, 3rd Duke of Sully.
  • Maximilien Francois Pierre (1664-1712), his son, 4th Duke of Sully.
  • Maximilien Henri (1669-1729). his brother, 5th Duke of Sully.
  • Louis Pierre Maximilien (1685-1751), his third cousin, 6th Duke of Sully.
  • Maximilien Antoine Armand (1730-1786), his first cousin once removed, Prince of Henrichemont & Boisbelle, 7th Duke of Sully but called Duc de Béthune.
  • Maximilien Alexis (1750-1776), his son, 8th Duke of Sully.
  • Maximilien Gabriel (1756-1807), his brother, 9th Duke of Sully
  • Maximilien (1784-1807), his son, 10th and last Duke of Sully.

House of Béthune-Orval

  • François (1598-1678), second son of Maximilien, 1st Duke of Sully, was created Duke of Orval and Pair de France by King Louis XIII but the grant was not registered with the court and so could not pass to his heirs[1]:
  • Maximilien Alpin (c1625-1692), his eldest surviving son, was Marquess of Béthune and Count of Orval.
  • Louis Pierre Maximilen, his grandson, became 6th Duke of Sully (see above).

House of Béthune-Chârost

The family of Béthune-Chârost were Pairs de France from 1690 on as Duke of Béthune-Chârost. This branch started with Philippe de Béthune (died in 1649), Baron of Chârost, brother of Maximilien de Béthune, Duke of Sully. His descendants include:

  • Louis (1605–1681), 1st Duke of Chârost.
  • Henry (1604–1680), brother of Louis, bishop of Bayonne, of Maillezais (1630–1646), archbishop of Bordeaux (1646–1680).
  • Louis Armand (1640–1717), son of Louis, 2nd Duke of Chârost.
  • Armand I (1663–1741), his son, 3rd Duke of Chârost, Baron of Ancenis.
  • Paul François (1682–1757), his son, 4th Duke of Chârost & 1st Duke of Ancenis.
  • François Joseph (1719–1739), his son, 5th Duke of Chârost & 2nd Duke of Ancenis.
  • Armand II Joseph (1738–1800), his son, 6th and last Duke of Chârost & 3rd and last Duke of Ancenis.

House of Béthune-Chabris

Hippolyte (1603-1665), elder brother of Louis, 1st Duke of Chârost, was made Marquess of Chabris and Count of Selles.

  • Henri (1632-1690), his second son, was Count of Selles.
  • Armand (1635–1703), his brother, was bishop of Puy (1661–1703).
  • Hippolyte (1643–1720), another brother, was bishop of Verdun (1681–1720).
  • Louis (1663-1734), son of Henri, was Count of Béthune.
  • Louis Armand (1711–1792), his son, was Marquess of Béthune.
  • Armand Louis (1756-1833), his son, was the last Marquess of Béthune.

House of Béthune-Selles

François Gaston (1638-1692), 4th son of Hippolyte de Béthune, a Lieut-General in the French army, was Marquess of Chabris.

  • Louis Marie Victor, his son (1670-1744), Count of Béthune, was a Field Marshal in the French army and Grand Chamberlain to Stanislaus Leszczyński when he became Duke of Lorraine and Bar in 1737.
  • Joachim Casimir Léon (1724-1769), his son, a Field Marshal in the French army, was the last Count of Béthune.

Béthunes in Poland & Lithuania

Two daughters of Francois Gaston, Marquess of Chabris (1638-1692) and his wife Marie Louise de La Grange married important members of the Polish-Lithuanian aristocracy and have multitudes of descendants.

  • Jeanne Marie (c1673-1744) married Count Jan Stanislaw Jablonowski(1669-1731) and had five children who all married.
  • Marie Christine Cathérine (1677-1721) was married first to Prince Stanislaw Kazimierz Radziwill (1648-1690), without children, and then to Prince Aleksander Pawel Sapieha (1671-1734), leaving three married children and one priest.

Other branches

House of Béthune-des-Planques

The family of Bethune called "des Planques" were the counts of Saint-Venant, viscounts of Lières, marquesses of Hesdigneul-lès-Béthune and counts of Noyelles-lès-Vermelles. Eugène François Léon, prince de Béthune (1746–1823), marquess of Hesdigneul, count of Noyelles, viscount of Nielles, was made a hereditary prince by Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor in 1781. His descendants are titled either Prince of Béthune, Marquess of Béthune Hesdigneul (for the first successor) or Count of Béthune (for the other children of the Prince) and include:

  • Maximilien-Guillaume-Auguste (1774–1856), 2nd Prince de Béthune
  • Albert-Marie-Joseph (1776–1868), brother of the previous, 3rd Prince de Béthune

Scottish branch

It is unclear when exactly the Scottish branch of the house of Bethune originated. From the time of Henry I of England, the Bethunes had properties in England. These they sold and some moved to Scotland. By about 1220, their names start appearing in Scottish records as knights and clerics. One, Sir David de Bethune is sheriff of Forfar in 1290 and attends Parliament as a baron. Another, Sir Robert de Bethune, in 1291 swears loyalty to Edward I of England. Alexander de Bethune, possibly son of Sir David, was knighted by the Bruce family and his presumed son Robert de Bethune married into the Balfour family, sheriffs in Fife. Their home was the castle of Balfour, in 2011 a ruin, between the rivers Ore and Leven just south of Milton of Balgonie. Spelling of the family name changed from de Bethune to Bethune, Betune, and Beaton.

Bethune of Balfour

  • Robert, who married Janet Balfour, heiress to her brother.
  • John I, their son, first laird of Balfour from the Bethune family
  • John II , son of the first, laird of Balfour
  • Archibald, third laird, ca. 1421
  • John III, son of Archibald, fourth laird
  • John IV, son of John III, fifth laird. John IV had six sons and five daughters, including John V, the sixth laird; David, founder of the Bethune of Creich family; Robert, abbot of Coupar Angus, Melrose and Glenluce; Archibald, laird of Pitlochie and Capildrae; Andrew, prior of St Andrews Cathedral Priory; and James, archbishop of Glasgow, archbishop of St Andrews.
  • John V, died 1524: he had seven sons and five daughters, including John VI; James, laird of Balfarge, father of James, archbishop of Glasgow; and David, archbishop of St Andrews and cardinal.
  • John VI.
  • John VII, son of John VI.
  • John VIII, son of John VII, born in 1546, died without children.
  • Robert, brother of John VIII and tenth laird of Balfour.
  • David, son of Robert, born 1574.
  • John IX, son of David, born 1594.
  • James, son of John IX, born in 1620.
  • David II, son of James, born between 1648 and 1654.
  • James II, son of David II, fifteenth laird from 1709 to 1719, when he died in France without issue, having fled there as a rebel after the failure of the 1715 Jacobite rising.
  • David III, nephew of James II, had no sons.
  • Henry, brother of David III, had no children.
  • Anne, daughter of David III, first female laird of Balfour, died without children.
  • William Congalton, grand nephew of Anne, assumed the name Bethune, and became the nineteenth laird of Balfour from 1785 until 1798, when he died without children.
  • Gilbert, brother of William, died in 1836 without children.
  • Eleanor, his sister, married Colonel John Drinkwater, who changed his name to John Drinkwater Bethune, and died in 1848.
  • John Elliot Drinkwater Bethune. their eldest son, died without children in 1851.
  • Admiral Charles Ramsay Drinkwater Bethune, his brother, became laird and died in 1884.
  • Charles Congalton Bethune, his eldest son, sold the Balfour estate and so ceased to be laird. His younger brother, Lieutenant-General Sir Edward Cecil Bethune (1855-1930), commanded Bethune’s Mounted Infantry in the Second Boer War.

Bethune of Creich

The Bethunes of Creich, descend from Sir David Bethune, son of John IV, who was Lord High Treasurer and in 1502 acquired the castle of Creich in Fife, in 2011 a ruin. Members of this branch include:

  • John, 2nd Laird of Creich.
  • Janet, sister of John, who married James Hamilton, 1st Earl of Arran.
  • Grisel, sister of John, who married John Lyle, 4th Lord Lyle.
  • David II, 3rd laird, son of John, was unmarried.
  • Robert, 4th laird of Creich, brother of David II.
  • Elizabeth, sister of Robert, one of the mistresses of King James V of Scotland.
  • Janet, Lady of Branxholme and Buccleugh (1519–1569), sister of Robert.
  • Mary, daughter of Robert, one of the Four Maries who accompanied Mary, Queen of Scots, to France.

Bethune of Bandon

Robert Bethune, second son of David Bethune of Balfour (born 1574), became 1st laird of Bandon near Falkland, in 2011 a ruin. Three of his children left descendants:

  • David Bethune of Bandon, died 1718, father of David Bethune of Balfour and Henry Bethune of Balfour.
  • William Bethune of Craigfoodie, died 1699, whose descendants are now the senior members of the house of Bethune.
  • Catherine Bethune in 1657 married Patrick Lindsay, 3rd of Wormiston, and started the family of Lindesay-Bethune who hold the title of Earl of Lindsay.

Bethune of Blebo

Andrew Bethune, second son of David Bethune of Balfour (born 15740, became 1st laird of Blebo in Fife. His descendant Margaret Bethune, died 1791, married Sir William Sharp and gave rise to the Bethune Baronets of Scotscraig.

Descendants of the Cardinal

With his lifelong partner Marion Ogilvy, Cardinal David Bethune had at least eight children, many of whose descendants are today spread throughout the world. Of his children:

  • David, laird of Melgund, married the daughter of the 5th Lord Lindsay of The Byres.
  • Margaret married David Lindsay, 10th Earl of Crawford.
  • Agnes married George Gordon, 4th of Gight, becoming an ancestress of the poet George Gordon Byron[3] and of Queen Elizabeth II.
  • Alexander, laird of Hospitalfield & Carsgownie, was ancestor of Thomas Bethune of Tarvet, who acquired the estate of Kilconquahar in Fife, and was father of Margaret (1704-1778), wife of George Lindsay, 5th of Wormiston, and ancestress of the Earls of Lindsay.

Bethunes in the Highlands and Islands

In 1778 a book by the Rev. Thomas Whyte, minister of Liberton, claimed that many families in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland called Bethune or Beaton descend from an unidentified member of the Bethunes of Balfour. Nobody has yet produced any evidence for this claim, which remains unproven and was almost certainly mistaken.

Bethunes in North America

Members of the Bethunes of Balfour settled in Massachusetts before 1713, when George Bethune, son of William Bethune of Craigfoodie, married Mary Waters, but his last male descendant died in Boston in 1886. All Bethunes in North America since that date have other origins.


  1. ^ De La Chenaye-Desbois, François-Alexandre (1771). Dictionnaire de la Noblesse, 2nd ed, Vol 2. Paris.
  • Anon (1845). The New Statistical Account of Scotland The Society for the Benefit of the Sons and Daughters of the Clergy.
  • Burke, John (1836). A Genealogical and Heraldic History of The Commoners of Great Britain and Ireland Enjoying Territorial Possessions or High Official Rank But Uninvested with Heritable Honours. London.
  • Burke, John, and Burke, John Bernard (1847). A Genealogical And Heraldic Dictionary Of The Landed Gentry Of Great Britain & Ireland. London.
  • Cayet, Pierre Victor Palma (1603). L’Oraison Funèbre du haut et puissant Monseigneur reverendissime l’Archevesque de Glasco Melort James de Béthune. Paris.
  • Clark, James Toshach (1900). Genealogical Collections Concerning Families In Scotland Made By Walter Macfarlane 1750—1751. Edited From The Original Manuscripts In The Advocates’ Library. Edinburgh.
  • Conolly, M. F. (1866). Biographical Dictionary Of Eminent Men Of Fife, Of Past And Present Times, Natives Of The County, Or Connected With It By Property, Residence, Office, Marriage, Or Otherwise. Edinburgh.
  • De La Chenaye-Desbois, François-Alexandre (1771). Dictionnaire de la Noblesse, 2nd ed, Vol 2. Paris.
  • De La Chenaye-Desbois, François-Alexandre (1864). Dictionnaire de la Noblesse, 3rd ed. Vol 3. Paris.
  • Du Chesne, André (1639). Histoire Généalogique de la Maison de Béthune. Paris.
  • Lyell, James Patrick Ronaldson (1894). The Scottish Antiquary, Or, Northern Notes & Queries, Vol 8. Edinburgh.
  • MacGeorge, Andrew (1834). Miscellaneous Papers Principally Illustrative Of Events In The Reigns Of Queen Mary And King James VI Presented To The Maitland Club. Edinburgh.
  • Moréri, Louis (1731). Le Grand Dictionnaire Historique. Basel.
  • Weisse, Jane Lee Hunt (1866). Records, Genealogical Charts, and Traditions of the Families of Bethune and Faneuil from Authentic Documents including Records of the Families of Hunt and Weisse. New York.
  • Weisse, Jane Lee Hunt (1884). A History of the Bethune Family Translated from the French of André Du Chesne, with Additions from Family Records and Other Available Sources Together with a Sketch of the Faneuil Family, with Whom the Bethunes Have Become Connected in America. New York.
  • Whyte, Revd Thomas (1778). An Historical and Genealogical Account of the Bethunes of the Island of Sky. Edinburgh, reprinted London 1893.
  • Wood, Revd. Walter (1862). The East Neuk Of Fife: History And Antiquities, Geology, Botany, And Natural History In General. Edinburgh.
  • Wood, Revd Walter, and Wood Brown, Revd James (1887). The East Neuk of Fife Its History and Antiquities. Edinburgh.

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