Whitefoord, Charles (DNB00)

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WHITEFOORD, CHARLES (d. 1753), soldier, third son of Sir Adam Whitefoord, first baronet (d. 1727), by Margaret (d. 1742), only daughter of Alan, seventh lord Cathcart, is stated, although the evidence is far from conclusive, to have been a descendant of Walter Whitford [q. v.], bishop of Brechin. His elder brother, Sir John, second baronet, became a lieutenant-general in the army (1761), and died in 1763, leaving a son, Sir John Whitefoord, third baronet (d. 1803). The third baronet, who is supposed to have been the original of Sir Arthur Wardour in Scott's ‘Antiquary,’ got into difficulties and left Ballochmyle in Ayrshire for Whitefoord House in the Canongate of Edinburgh. He was one of the early patrons of Burns, who celebrates him in some complimentary lines enclosing a copy of the ‘Lament for James, Earl of Glencairn,’ and his daughter Maria [Cranstoun] was the heroine of the ‘Braes of Ballochmyle.’ He was a well-known figure in the Scottish capital, and was depicted by Kay along with his cronies, Major Andrew Fraser and the Hon. Andrew Erskine (Edinburgh Portraits, 1877, No. cxcii.).

Charles Whitefoord entered the navy in 1718, but afterwards joined a regiment of dragoons, having ‘learned his exercises of riding’ in the famous academy of Angers. In 1738 he was a captain in the royal Irish at Minorca, and two years later was gazetted aide-de-camp to his uncle, Lord Cathcart, and sailed in the West India expedition, took part in the deadly operations against Carthagena, and in 1741 became lieutenant-colonel in the 5th marines. He was visiting relatives in Scotland when the rebellion of 1745 broke out, and immediately offered his services to the government as a volunteer. He was one of the very few officers in the royal army who distinguished themselves at the battle of Prestonpans, and his conduct supplied the groundwork of the chivalrous contest between Edward Waverley and Colonel Talbot in the forty-seventh and following chapters of ‘Waverley.’ ‘When,’ says Scott in his revised preface to the novel (in 1829), ‘the highlanders made their memorable attack on Sir John Cope's army, a battery of four field-pieces was stormed and carried by the Camerons and the Stewarts of Appine. The late Alexander Stewart of Inverhayle was one of the foremost in the charge, and, observing an officer of the king's forces who, scorning to join the flight of all around, remained with his sword in his hand, as if determined to the very last to defend the post assigned to him, the highland gentleman commanded him to surrender, and received for reply a thrust which he caught on his target. The officer was now defenceless, and the battle-axe of a gigantic highlander was uplifted to dash his brains out, when Mr. Stewart with great difficulty prevailed on him to yield. He took charge of his enemy's property, protected his person, and finally obtained him his liberty on parole. The officer proved to be Colonel Whitefoord.’ After Culloden it was Whitefoord's turn to strain every nerve to obtain Stewart's pardon. Representations to the lord justice clerk, the lord advocate, and other law dignitaries proving of no avail, he at length applied to the Duke of Cumberland in person. ‘From him also he received a positive refusal. He then limited his request to a protection for Stewart's house, wife, children, and property. This was also refused by the duke; on which Colonel Whitefoord, taking his commission from his bosom, laid it on the table before his royal highness with much emotion and asked permission to retire from the service of a sovereign who did not know how to spare a vanquished enemy.’ Thereupon the duke ‘granted the protection required.’

In September 1751 Whitefoord was appointed lieutenant-colonel of the fifth regiment of foot, on the staff in Ireland, and on 25 Nov. 1752 he was promoted full colonel. He died at Galway on 2 Jan. 1753. He does not appear to have been married, but he left a son, Caleb Whitefoord [q. v.], who is separately noticed, and also, it is believed, a daughter. Colonel Whitefoord's ‘Letters and Papers’ referring to his services in Minorca, Cuba, and in Scotland were edited for the Clarendon Press in 1898 by Mr. W. A. S. Hewins. A portrait in oils is in the possession of Charles Whitefoord, of Whitton Paddocks, near Ludlow.

[The Genealogist, ed. Marshall, 1880, iv. 142; Gent. Mag. 1753, p. 51; Cunningham's Life and Work of Burns, iv. 156–7; Scott's Waverley, Introduction; Whitefoord Papers, ed. Hewins, Introduction and pp. 1–117; Hamilton's Lanark and Renfrew, 1831, p. 79.]

T. S.