John Middleton, 1st Earl of Middleton lived from 1608 to 3 July 1674. He was a professional soldier who fought first for the Covenanters and then as a Royalist general supporting the restoration of Charles II. The wider picture in Scotland at the time is set out in our Historical Timeline.
John Middleton was the eldest son of Robert Middleton of Caldhame, whose family had been landowners in Kincardineshire (now part of Aberdeenshire) since the 1100s. He joined the army in 1632 for service in France as a pikeman, but quickly rose through the ranks. He served as a Captain under James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose, during the Bishop's Wars against King Charles I in 1639/40. In the English Civil War he served as a Colonel in the Parliamentarian army before taking charge of much of the Parliamentary cavalry with the rank of Lieutenant-General.
In 1645 Middleton returned to Scotland to become a Major-General in the Army of the Covenant. In September 1645 he was second in command to General David Leslie at the Battle of Philiphaugh, at which they defeated Middleton's old commander Montrose, now leading the Royalists in Scotland. In early 1646 he was appointed commander-in-chief of the Army of the Covenant and hunted down the remaining Royalists in Scotland, finally taking Montrose's surrender in July 1646.
In July 1648 Middleton commanded the cavalry of the Scottish Army which invaded northern England in an effort to secure the release of Charles I from imprisonment by the Parliamentarians. They were defeated by Cromwell at the Battle of Preston in August, and Middleton was taken prisoner. He returned to Scotland in breach of his parole and took part in an abortive Royalist uprising in the Highlands. When Charles II landed in Scotland in June 1650, Middleton became a General in his army, though only after appeasing the Presbyterian Kirk by undertaking a public penance in Dundee. The result was a deep loathing for the Presbyterians by Middleton.
In September 1651 Middleton was a General in Charles II's losing army at the Battle of Worcester. He was wounded in the battle and subsequently captured, being imprisoned in the Tower of London. He escaped and joined Charles II in exile in Paris. In February 1654 he took command of Charles II's troops during a brief Royalist uprising in Scotland, but after defeat by General Monck at the battle of Dalnaspidal in July 1654 he again joined Charles II in Paris.
After the restoration of Charles II in 1660, John Middleton was made 1st Earl of Middleton and spent some time in Scotland promoting the king's policies of creating bishops and suppressing Presbyterianism. In 1663 he was appointed Governor of Rochester Castle and Lieutenant-General of the Kent militia. In 1668 he was made Governor of Tangier, a post he held until his death in 1674. John Middleton and his wife Grizel Durham had three children, two daughters and a son. Charles Middleton, 2nd Earl of Middleton, went on to become an adviser to Charles II and James VII/II, and later a noted Jacobite.