Scott, John (1747-1819) (DNB00)

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SCOTT, afterwards Scott-Waring, JOHN (1747–1819), agent of Warren Hastings, born at Shrewsbury in 1747, was the grandson of John Scott, whose third wife was Dorothy, daughter of Adam Waring of the Hayes, Shropshire. His father was Jonathan Scott of Shrewsbury (d. August 1778), who married Mary, second daughter of Humphrey Sandford of the Isle of Rossall, Shropshire. The second son, Richard, rose to the rank of lieutenant-colonel, and served with distinction under Sir Eyre Coote against Hyder Ali Khan and under the Marquis of Cornwallis in the war against Sippoo Saltaun. The third son, Jonathan Scott the orientalist, is noticed separately. The fourth son, Henry, became commissioner of police at Bombay.

John, the eldest son, entered the service of the East India Company about 1766, and became a major in the Bengal division of its forces. He had been in India for twelve years before he knew Warren Hastings, ‘except by dining at his table in company with other officers’ of the same standing, but their intimacy after that time became close, and he was one of the intermediaries who, in November 1779, patched up a temporary reconciliation between Hastings and Francis (Parkes and Merivale, Sir P. Francis, ii. 175–6). In May 1780 he was appointed to command a battalion of sepoys stationed in Chanar.

Scott was sent by Hastings to England as his political agent, and he arrived in London on 17 Dec. 1781. This selection has been described as ‘the great mistake of the life’ of Hastings (ib. ii. 236–7), and the choice was without doubt disastrous. Scott was indefatigable in his labours for his chief, but he lacked judgment. The printing-press groaned with his lucubrations. Macaulay asserts that ‘his services were rewarded with oriental munificence;’ but though Scott was profuse in his expenditure for his patron, he himself did not participate in the prodigality. ‘When he left India Mr. Hastings was his debtor, and continued so for many years’ (Life of Charles Reade, i. 8). In 1782 Scott published, in the interests of Hastings, his ‘Short Review of Transactions in Bengal during the last Ten Years,’ and, two years later, his ‘Conduct of his Majesty's late Ministers considered,’ 1784. In a note to p. 6 of this pamphlet he dealt with the payments which he had made to the newspapers for the insertion of letters in defence of Hastings. Innumerable letters, paragraphs, puffs, and squibs were attributed to him, and a curious bill for such to the amount of several hundred pounds was published in 1787 by the editor of the ‘Morning Herald’ (Lit. Memoirs of Living Authors, 1798, ii. 242).

From 1784 to 1790 Scott sat in parliament as member for the Cornish borough of West Looe, and in 1790 he was returned for Stockbridge in Hampshire. A petition was presented against him, and on 22 Feb. 1793 a prosecution for bribery seemed imminent, but the matter fell through. Hastings wrote to his wife on 13 Aug. 1784, ‘I am not pleased with Scott's going into parliament, and less with his annexing to it the plan of securing his seat for myself.’ While in the House of Commons he ‘was always on his legs, he was very tedious, and he had only one topic—the merits and wrongs of Hastings.’

The charges against Warren Hastings might have been allowed to drop, but Scott made the mistake of reminding Burke on the first day of the session of 1786 of the notice which he had given before the preceding recess of bringing them before parliament. Scott desired Burke to name the first day that was practicable. The challenge was accepted, and Burke opened the subject on 17 Feb.

During the course of the impeachment (1788–1795) a host of ineffectual letters, speeches, and pamphlets emanated from Scott. His demeanour at the trial is depicted by Miss Burney (Diary, ed. 1842, iv. 74–5). He might be seen ‘skipping backwards and forwards like a grasshopper.’ ‘What pity,’ she exclaimed, ‘that Mr. Hastings should have trusted his cause to so frivolous an agent!’ ‘It was the general belief,’ she adds, that ‘to his officious and injudicious zeal the present prosecution is wholly owing.’

In 1798, by the death of his cousin, Richard Hill Waring, Scott came into the Waring estates in Cheshire, which he sold in 1800 to Peel and Yates [see Peel, Sir Robert, (1750–1830)] for 80,000l. He consequently assumed the name and arms of Waring. A year or two later he bought Peterborough House at Parson's Green, Fulham, and gathered around him a varied company of royal princes, politicians, wits, and actresses (M. Kelly, Reminiscences, ii. 253). He died at Half Moon Street, Piccadilly, London, on 5 May 1819. Scott was thrice married. His first wife, who brought him a fortune of 20,000l., was Elizabeth, daughter of Alexander Blackrie of Bromley in Kent, sometime surgeon-general on the Indian establishment. She was born on 19 April 1745, and died 26 Oct. 1796, being buried in Bromley churchyard, under a marble monument, with a long and peculiar epitaph (Wilson, Hist. of Bromley, pp. 40–2). She was the mother of two sons—Edward, a distinguished civil servant in Bengal; and Charles, who died young—and of two daughters, the elder of whom, Anna Maria, married John Reade of Ipsden House, Oxfordshire, was mother of Charles Reade the novelist, and died 9 Aug. 1863, aged 90; the younger, Eliza Sophia, married the Rev. George Stanley Faber [q. v.] Waring's second wife was Maria, daughter and heiress of Jacob Hughes of Cashel. A portrait of Waring's second wife and two of her children was painted by J. Russell, R.A., and engraved by C. Turner, being published on 2 Jan. 1804. Waring's third wife was Mrs. Esten, a widowed actress notorious for her irregularities; on this union there was circulated an epigram concluding with the words:

    Though well known for ages past,
    She's not the worse for Waring.

His portrait, by John James Masquerier [q. v.], was engraved by C. Turner, and published on 27 Feb. 1802. It is inscribed to Warren Hastings.

Besides the pieces already mentioned, Scott wrote: 1. ‘Observations on Sheridan's pamphlet, contrasting the two bills for the better government of India,’ 1788; 3rd ed. 1789. 2. ‘Observations on Belsham's “Memoirs of the reign of George III,”’ 1796. 3. ‘Seven Letters to the People of Great Britain by a Whig,’ 1789. In this he discussed the questions arising out of the king's illness. On the subject of Christian missions in India he published: 4. ‘Observations on the present State of the East India Company’ [anon.], 1807 (four editions); and 5. ‘A Vindication of the Hindoos from the expressions of Dr. Claudius Buchanan, in two parts, by a Bengal Officer,’ 1808. A memoir of Hastings by Scott is inserted in Seward's ‘Biographiana,’ ii. 610–28.

[Burke's Landed Gentry, 6th ed. p. 1425; Gent. Mag. 1819, i. 492; Busteed's Calcutta, p. 315; Trial of Hastings, ed. Bond, i. p. xxxv, ii. pp. xxxvi–xxxvii; Cornwallis's Corresp. i. 364; Ormerod's Cheshire, ii. 12–13; Gleig's Hastings, ii. 354 et seq.; Macaulay's Essay on Hastings; Life of Charles Reade, i. 1–10; Faulkner's Fulham, p. 301; Walpole's Letters, viii. 557; Overton's English Church, 1800–33, pp. 268–71.]

W. P. C.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.243
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

Page Col. Line  
46 ii 7-5 f.e. Scott, afterwards Scott-Waring, John (1747-1819): omit was Maria, .... The second,
47 i 1  for 1746 read 1745
13  after Faber [q. v.]. insert Waring's second wife was Maria, daughter and heiress of Jacob Hughes of Cashel.