Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Blair, William (1741-1782)

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BLAIR, WILLIAM (1741–1782), captain in the royal navy, was the son of Daniel Blair of Edinburgh, collaterally related to the Blairs of Balthayock. He became a lieutenant in the navy on 9 Oct. 1760, but did not attain his commander’s rank till 6 Dec. 1777. He was posted on 18 April 1778, and commanded the Dolphin, of 44 guns, in the stubborn battle on the Doggerbank, 5 Aug. 1781. Notwithstanding her small force, the exigencies of the case compelled the Dolphin to take her place in the line of battle. Blair's conduct was worthy of the distinction thrust upon him, and won for him the special approval of the admiralty, and his appointment to the Anson, a new 64-gun ship, then fitting for service in the West Indies. In the January following Blair sailed in company with Sir George Rodney, and on 12 April, when the French were completely defeated to leeward of Dominica, the Anson was in the leading squadron under the immediate command of Rear-admiral Drake, and was warmly engaged from the very beginning of the battle. Her loss was not especially great in point of numbers, but one of her killed was Captain Blair. A monument to his memory, jointly with his brother officers, Captains Bayne and Lord Robert Manners, was erected in Westminster Abbey at the public expense.

[Beatson's Memoirs, v. 405, 475, 479; Gent. Mag.(l782), lii. 331; News and Queries, 6th ser. vii. 122.]

J. K. L.