Kinnaird, Douglas James William (DNB00)

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KINNAIRD, DOUGLAS JAMES WILLIAM (1788–1830), friend of Byron, fifth son of George, seventh baron Kinnaird, and younger brother of Charles, eighth lord Kinnaird [q. v.], was born on 26 Feb. 1788. He was educated first at Eton, and afterwards at Göttingen, where he acquired a thorough knowledge of German and French, and subsequently went to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated M.A. in 1811. In 1813 he travelled with his friend John Cam Hobhouse [q. v.] on the continent, and was present at the battle of Culm. In the autumn of 1814 he travelled home from Paris with William Jerdan [q. v.] After his return to England he took an active share in the business of Ransom & Morland's bank, and upon the dissolution of the partnership with Sir F. B. Morland in 1819, assumed the chief management of the new firm. In 1815 he became, with Byron, Whitbread, Peter Moore, and others, a member of the sub-committee for directing the affairs of Drury Lane Theatre (Moore, Life of Lord Byron, iii. 169–71, 185–7). In 1817 he visited Byron at Venice (Smiles, Memoir of John Murray, 1891, i. 386–7). At the general election in the summer of 1818 Kinnaird was nominated a candidate for the city of Westminster in the reform interest, but finding the contest hopeless withdrew after the third day's polling, and canvassed actively on behalf of Burdett (Memoirs of Sir Samuel Romilly, 1840, iii. 360–2). Kinnaird refused to be nominated again on the death of Sir Samuel Romilly, the senior member, in November 1818, and seconded his friend Hobhouse, who was defeated after a vigorous contest by George Lamb in March 1819. At a by-election in July 1819 Kinnaird was returned to the House of Commons for the borough of Bishops Castle, Shropshire, and in his maiden speech on 30 Nov. 1819 supported Lord Althorp's motion for a select committee on the state of the country (Parl. Debates, xli. 536–9). Kinnaird also took part in the debate on Hobhouse's anonymous pamphlet on 10 Dec. (ib. pp. 998–9, 1002), and contended that ‘any conclusion might be drawn from it’ rather than that it was meant as an excitement to rebellion. At the general election in March 1820 Kinnaird was included in the double return for Bishops Castle, but in the following June was declared ‘not duly elected’ by the select committee appointed to try the petition (Journals of the House of Commons, lxxv. 316). He made no further attempt to enter parliament, but frequently took part in the discussions at the India House. He died unmarried in Pall Mall East, London, after a long illness, on 12 March 1830, aged 42.

Kinnaird was a man of active mind, cultivated tastes, and a hasty temper. He was a member of the ‘Rota,’ a radical dinner club, to which Bickersteth, Burdett, and Hobhouse also belonged, and was famous for his ‘mob dinners,’ comprising some thirty or forty guests (Bentham, Works, 1843, x. 576). He was an intimate friend of Byron, who calls him ‘my trusty and trustworthy trustee and banker, and crown and sheet anchor’ (Moore, Byron, vi. 103). He was frequently consulted by Byron upon his pecuniary negotiations with Murray (Russell, Moore, iii. 295–6; see also Smiles, Memoir of John Murray, 1891, i. 367, 374, 402–3), and with Hobhouse insisted upon the destruction of the ‘Memoirs’ after Byron's death (Russell, Moore, iv. 187–90, 332). It was at his request that Byron wrote the ‘Hebrew Melodies’ and the ‘Monody on the Death of the Right Hon. R. B. Sheridan, spoken at Drury Lane Theatre’ (Poetical Works of Lord Byron, 1855, ii. 13, 14, 57). Jerdan relates that Coleridge, when his tragedy ‘Remorse’ was under consideration by the Drury Lane authorities, was invited to read it to Kinnaird, who received him while dressing. After Coleridge had read two acts, Kinnaird remarked that he had ‘listened to enough of your nonsense,’ and invited his attention to ‘a little two-act piece’ of his own. His works are: 1. ‘The Merchant of Bruges, or Beggar's Bush [a comedy by John Fletcher], with considerable alterations and additions, by Douglas Kinnaird, Esq. Now performing … at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane,’ London, 1815, 8vo. This comedy has been reprinted in several collections of plays. The first three songs in it were written by the Hon. George Lamb [q. v.], to whom it was dedicated, while Hobhouse was the author of the prologue and epilogue. 2. ‘Remarks on the Volume of Hydrabad Papers printed for the use of the East India Proprietors [entitled “Papers relating to the pecuniary transactions of Messrs. W. Palmer & Co. with the Government of … the Nizam”],’ London, 1825, 8vo.

[Moore's Life of Lord Byron, 1851; Lord John Russell's Memoirs of Thomas Moore, 1853; Annual Biography and Obituary, 1831, xv. 493–4; Gent. Mag. 1830, vol. c. pt. i. p. 465; Jerdan's Autobiography, vol. i. ch. v.; Annual Register, 1830, App. to Chron. p. 256; Burke's Peerage, 1890, p. 791; Grad. Cantabr. 1873, p. 236; Stapylton's Eton School Lists, 1864, p. 44; Price's Handbook of London Bankers, 1876, p. 116; Brit. Mus. Addit. MS. 27845; Official Return of Lists of Members of Parliament, pt. ii. pp. 276, 290; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

G. F. R. B.