Wemyss, David (1721-1787) (DNB00)

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WEMYSS, DAVID, Lord Elcho (1721–1787), born on 30 July 1721, was the eldest son of James, fourth earl of Wemyss (1699–1756), who married, on 4 Oct. 1720, Janet, only daughter and heiress of the notorious Colonel Francis Charteris [q. v.] of Amisfield. In 1744 David arrived in Scotland from France, and, after conducting various negotiations on behalf of the Jacobites in conjunction with Murray of Broughton, set sail with him for Flanders. The same year they again, however, set out for England, and, after holding several meetings with the Jacobites in London, perfected a scheme for a Jacobite club (Murray of Broughton, Diary, p. 114). Although opposed to the enterprise of Prince Charlie in 1745, he joined the prince on 16 Sept., just as he was nearing Edinburgh, and he was chosen one of his council after the occupation of Holyrood. After Prestonpans he also exerted himself to raise and organise a troop of lifeguards, consisting of about a hundred gentlemen of good family, and he commanded this troop during all the remainder of the campaign until the defeat at Culloden. He accompanied the prince in his flight from that fatal field, and strongly protested against his determination meanwhile to discontinue all further efforts to rally his followers. Since, moreover, he was a strong sympathiser with Lord George Murray he remained henceforth on bad terms with the prince, whom he continued to dun in vain for repayment of the money he had lent him in aid of his unfortunate expedition.

Having been attainted for his connection with the rebellion, Elcho continued to remain abroad, and did not, on the death of his father in 1756, succeed either to the estates or the titles. By a special arrangement James, the third son of the fourth earl, succeeded to the estates, and the title remained dormant until the death of Lord Elcho at Paris, unmarried, on 29 April 1787, when it became vested in Francis (1723–1808), the second son, who had succeeded to the estates and adopted the name of his maternal grandfather, Colonel Charteris. Elcho left a narrative of the rebellion, preserved at Wemyss Castle, which, although never printed in full, has been made use of by Ewald in his life of Prince Charlie, and by other historians of the rebellion. A portrait of Elcho is at Wemyss Castle.

[Forbes's Jacobite Memoirs of the Rebellion, 1745; Murray of Broughton's Diary, published by the Scottish History Society, 1898; Stuart Papers; Chambers's Hist. of Rebellion; Edwald's Life of Prince Charlie; Lang's Pickle the Spy, 1897; Itinerary of Prince Charles Edward Stuart, by W. B. Blackie (Scottish History Society), 1897; Fraser's Memorials of the Family of Wemyss, 1888; Douglas's Scottish Peerage, ed. Wood, ii. 623.]

T. F. H.