Dalrymple, John Hamilton Macgill (DNB00)

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DALRYMPLE, Sir JOHN HAMILTON MACGILL, eighth Earl of Stair (1771–1853), fourth but eldest surviving son of Sir John Dalrymple [q. v.] of Cranstoun, author of ‘Memoirs of Great Britain,’ by his wife and cousin Elizabeth, only child and heiress of Thomas Hamilton Macgill of Fala and Oxenford, was born at Edinburgh 15 June 1771. He entered the army 28 July 1790 as ensign in the 100th foot, and with the rank of captain served in 1794 and 1795 in Flanders. As lieutenant-colonel he accompanied the expedition to Hanover in October 1805, and in 1807 he went to Zealand and was present at the siege of Copenhagen. He succeeded to the baronetcy on the death of his father, 26 Feb. 1810. In 1838 he attained the rank of general. While captain in the guards he sought a substitute for corporal punishment in the army, and explained his scheme to the Duke of Wellington. He was colonel of the 92nd foot from 1831 to 1843, and of the 46th foot from 1843 till death. On retiring from active connection with the army he interested himself warmly in politics, and in 1812 and 1818 contested Midlothian unsuccessfully in the whig interest. After the passing of the Reform Bill in 1832 he was returned by a majority of 69 over Sir George Clerk, an event which, according to Lord Cockburn, ‘struck a blow at the very heart of Scottish toryism’ (Memorials, i. 42). He succeeded to the earldom of Stair on the death of his kinsman, John William Henry Dalrymple, seventh earl, 22 March 1840. In April of the same year he was appointed keeper of the great seal of Scotland, an office which he held till September 1841, and again from August 1846 to August 1852. On 11 Aug. 1841 he was created a peer of the United Kingdom by the title Baron Oxenford of Cousland, and in 1847 he was made a knight of the Thistle. Much of his attention was occupied in his later years in the improvement of his estates in Midlothian and Galloway. He died 10 Jan. 1853. He was twice married, first to Henrietta, eldest daughter of the Rev. Robert Augustus Johnson of Kenilworth, and second to Adamina, daughter of Adam, first Viscount Duncan, but by neither marriage had he any issue, and the estates and earldom of Stair devolved on his brother, North Home Dalrymple of Cleland, while the peerage in the United Kingdom conferred in 1841 became extinct.

[Burke's Peerage; Gent. Mag. 1853, new ser. xxxix. 207–8; Annual Register, xcv. 206–7.]

T. F. H.