Fletcher, Andrew (1692-1766) (DNB00)

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FLETCHER, ANDREW, Lord Milton (1692–1766), lord justice clerk, was the eldest son of Henry Fletcher of Salton, Haddingtonshire, by his wife Margaret, daughter of Sir David Carnegie of Pittarrow, bart., and nephew of Andrew Fletcher of Salton [q. v.] He was born in 1692, and having been educated for the bar was admitted an advocate on 26 Feb. 1717. In the following year he was nominated a cashier of the excise. In 1724, when only thirty-two years of age, he was appointed an ordinary lord of session in the place of Sir John Lauder of Fountainhall, and took his seat on the bench on 4 June in that year. On 22 June 1726 he became a lord justiciary on the resignation of James Hamilton of Pencaitland, and by patent dated 7 July 1727 was nominated one of the commissioners for improving the fisheries and manufactures of Scotland. On 21 June 1735 he succeeded James Erskine of Grange as lord justice clerk, and on 10 Nov. 1746 was appointed principal keeper of the signet. In 1748 he resigned the office of justice clerk, ‘but retained the charge of superintending elections, which he considered as his masterpiece’ (Scotland and Scotsmen in the Eighteenth Century, 1888, i. 89). The acuteness of his judgment, and his accurate knowledge of the laws and customs of Scotland, early recommended him to the notice and confidence of Lord Islay, afterwards Archibald, third duke of Argyll, to whose hands the chief management of Scottish affairs was then entrusted, and for a number of years Milton acted as his confidential agent in Scotland. As lord justice clerk he presided at the trial of Captain Porteous in 1736, and in May of the following year was examined at the bar of the House of Lords with regard to matters arising out of those proceedings. During the rebellion of 1745 he acted with great leniency and discretion, and after its suppression strenuously exerted himself in the promotion of the trade and agriculture of the country. He took an active part in the abolition of the exceptional heritable jurisdictions, and under his advice the greater part of the government patronage in Scotland was dispensed. Milton died at Brunstane, near Edinburgh, on 15 Dec. 1766, in the seventy-fifth year of his age, after a long illness. He married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Francis Kinloch of Gilmerton, bart. His mother appears to have been a woman of great energy and enterprise. Taking with her a millwright and a weaver she went to Holland, where ‘by their means she secretly obtained the art of weaving and dressing what was then, as it is now, commonly called holland (fine linen), and introduced the manufacture into the village and neighbourhood of Salton’ (The Bee, xi. 2). A number of Milton's letters relating to affairs in Scotland in 1745 will be found in the appendix to John Home's ‘History of the Rebellion in the year 1745’ (1802). Two portraits of Milton by Allan Ramsay were exhibited in the Scotch Loan Collection at Edinburgh in 1884 (Catalogue, Nos. 121 and 187). A small engraving by R. Scott, after one of Ramsay's portraits, forms the frontispiece to the eleventh volume of ‘The Bee.’

[The Bee, or Literary Weekly Intelligencer, xi. 1–5; Brunton and Haig's Senators of the College of Justice (1832), pp. 498–9; Anderson's Scottish Nation (1863), ii. 226; Chalmers's Biog. Dict. of Eminent Scotsmen (1869), ii. 36; Scots Mag. 1746 viii. 550, 1748 x. 509, 1766 xxviii. 671; Burke's Landed Gentry (1879), i. 574.]

G. F. R. B.