Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Grant, Alexander (1679-1720)

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

GRANT, ALEXANDER (1679–1720), laird of Grant, brigadier-general, constable of Edinburgh Castle, eldest surviving son of Ludovick Grant [q.v.], laird of that ilk, was born in 1679. After studying civil law on the continent he entered the military service, presumably in the regiment of foot raised and for a time maintained by his father. Conjointly with his father he represented Inverness-shire in the Scottish parliament of 1703-7, and was one of the commissioners appointed to arrange the union. Marlborough, writing on 7 Feb. 1707, would 'be much pleased to gratify the laird of Grant in respect of the employment of his regiment whenever her majesty's service shall admit of it' (Marlb. Desp. iii. 312), but the regiment was not taken on the British establishment until 24 Dec. 1707 (Abstracts of Muster Rolls, Brit. Mus. Addit. MS. 19023). After the heavy losses at Oudenarde in July 1708, orders, dated 17 Oct. 1708, were sent to Lord Strathnaver's and Colonel Grant's regiments of foot to march from North Britain to Newcastle-on-Tyne for immediate embarkation. The former numbered 450 and the latter 500 men. They suffered much from desertion on the march (Treas. Papers, cix. 40). These regiments were sent to Ostend to increase the force at Marlborough's disposal for the sieges of Bruges and Ghent (Hist.MSS. Comm. 8th Rep. 33 b, 35 b). Grant's regiment, for he appears to have been colonel at this time, served in Flanders during the subsequent campaigns, but there are no details of it until 4 May 1711, when Grant memorialised for a sum of 932l. to replace 232 men of his regiment drafted into General Hill's expedition against Quebec (Treas. Papers, cxxxv. 8). Soon after Grant, the lieutenant-colonel of his regiment, and some other officers, were taken prisoners, most likely on their passage home, and were carried to Calais, where they were eventually exchanged (Marlb. Desp. v. 142, 145, 170, 176). When the Duke of Argyll, who is said to have been a personal friend of Grant, was dismissed in 1711, Grant was deprived of his regiment for a time, but restored to it on the accession of George I. The treasury records contain a report of the commissioners of customs for Scotland, dated 9 April 1714, on a memorial of Grant 'and other owners of fir woods in Scotland' (Treas. Papers, clxxiv. 54); also a memorial praying for the rank of brigadier-general according to seniority, and also subsistence for his regiment (ib. clxxxix. 47-8). Grant was with his regiment in England, when the rising of 1715 took place. He wrote to his brother, Captain George Grant, to raise the clan for the service of the government, and part of it was present at the reduction of Inverness. His regiment was sent into Scotland, and after the failure of Lord Drummond's attempt to seize Edinburgh Castle, and the imprisonment of Colonel Stuart, Grant was appointed constable in his place. When a body of insurgents under Macintosh of Borlum took possession of Leith in October the same year, Grant attended Argyll as a volunteer, and aided in getting them out of the place. He was with Argyll at Sheriffmuir, although his regiment was at the time in Edinburgh. He was made a brigadier-general in 1715, and afterwards was appointed governor of Sheerness, but lost the appointment on a change of ministry. His regiment was disbanded. As justiciary for the counties of Inverness, Moray, and Banff, Grant was very successful in suppressing the bands of outlaws and robbers which infested them in those unsettled times. Grant sat in the first five British parliaments after the union, in the first two for Inverness-shire, in the other three for Elgin and Forres (Return of Members of Parliament). Although twice married (first to Elizabeth Stuart, eldest daughter of James, lord Downe, eldest son of Alexander, fourth earl of Moray, and secondly to Anne, daughter of John Smith, speaker of the House of Commons), he had no children. He died at Leith on 2 March 1719-1720, at the age of forty.

[No record of Grant's earlier military appointments appears in the War Office (Home Office) Military Entry Books. In Hist. MSS. Comm. 3rd Rep. xxii. it is stated that the Grant family papers at Grant 'are not yet ready for the purpose of the commission.' See also Marlborough's Desp. ut supra; Return of Members of Parliament; Calendars of Treasury Papers, 1708-14, 1715-19; Anderson's Scottish Nation, ii. 361; Keltie's Hist. of Scottish Highlands, ii. 253; Foster's Members of Parliament (Scotland), p. 158.]

H. M. C.