Grant, William (1701?-1764) (DNB00)

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GRANT, WILLIAM, Lord Preston-Grange (1701?–1764), Scotch judge, was the second son of Sir Francis Grant [q.v.], lord Cullen, by his second wife, Sarah, daughter of the Rev. Alexander Fordyce of Ayton, Berwickshire. He was admitted an advocate on 24 Feb. 1722, and on 13 May 1731 was appointed procurator for the church of Scotland, and principal clerk to the general assembly. In 1736 Grant wrote 'Remarks on the State of the Church of Scotland with respect to Patronages, and with reference to a Bill now depending before Parliament,' a pamphlet which was reprinted in 1841 as No. 6 of the 'Select Anti-patronage Library,' Edinburgh, 8vo. On 20 June 1737 he succeeded Charles Erskine of Tinwald as solicitor-general, and on 28 Aug. in the following year was constituted one of the commissioners for improving the fisheries and manufactures of Scotland. Upon Robert Craigie's retirement Grant was appointed lord advocate on 26 Feb. 1746, and on 20 May following the assembly held that the lord advocate could not act as procurator and clerk, and that consequently these offices were vacated. At a by-election in February 1747 Grant was returned to parliament as member for the Elgin burghs, and on 1 April 1747 was 'added to the gentlemen who are appointed to prepare and bring in a bill for taking away and abolishing the heretable jurisdictions in … Scotland' (Journals of the Home of Commons, xxv. 332). Grant took part in the debate on the second reading of the bill, and is said by Horace Walpole to have spoken 'excessively well for it' (Letters, Cunningham's edit. ii. 81). This important measure of Scotch reform was subsequently carried through both houses and passed (20 Geo. II, c. 43), as well as another bill, which had been introduced by the lord advocate and the English law officers, for the abolition of ward holding (20 Geo. II, c. 50). At the general election in July 1747 Grant was again returned for the Elgin burghs, and in April 1749 supported the grant to the city of Glasgow for the losses sustained during the rebellion in a vigorous speech (Parl. History, xiv. 533-8). On 24 Feb. 1752 he introduced a bill for annexing the forfeited estates in Scotland to the crown inalienably, which after some opposition became law (25 Geo. II, c. 41). He was for the third time returned for the Elgin burghs at the general election in May 1754, but vacated his seat on his appointment as an ordinary lord of session and a lord of justiciary in the place of Patrick Grant, lord Elchies. He took his seat on the bench on 14 Nov. 1754, and assumed the title of Lord Prestongrange. In the following year he was appointed one of the commissioners for the annexed estates. Grant died at Bath on 23 May 1764, aged 63, and was buried on 7 June following in the aisle of Prestonpans Church, Haddingtonshire, where a monument in the churchyard was erected to his memory. Tytler speaks highly of his integrity, candour, and 'winning gentleness,' and says that his 'conduct in the adjustment of the claims on the forfeited estates merited universal approbation' (Memoirs of Lord Kames, 1814, i. 57). With the exception of the proceedings at the trial of Stewart in 1752 (Howell, State Trials, 1813, xix. 1-262), Grant's conduct as public prosecutor was both fair and moderate. Grant married Grizel, daughter of the Rev. — Millar, and by her had four daughters: Janet, who married John, fourth earl of Hyndford; Agnes, who married Sir George Suttie, bart., of Balgone; Jean, who married Robert Dundas of Arniston, the second lord president of that name; and Christian, who died unmarried in 1761. On the death of the Countess of Hyndford in 1818, her nephew, Sir James Suttie, succeeded to the Preston-Grange estate (purchased by Grant in 1746), and assumed the additional surname of Grant. Grant's widow survived him many years, and died in 1792, aged 83. There is an engraving by J. McArdell, after the portrait of Grant by Ramsay, painted in 1751. Grant is said to have written 'The occasional Writer, containing an Answer to the second Manifesto of the Pretender's eldest Son, which bears date at the Palace of Holyrood House, 10 Oct. 1745; containing Reflections, political and historical, upon the last Revolution, and the Progress of the present Rebellion in Scotland,' London, 1745, 8vo. The authorship of this pamphlet has, however, also been ascribed to Thomas Hollis (Halkett and Laing, vol. iii. 1797).

[Omond's Lord Advocates of Scotland (1883), ii. 28-58; Brunton and Haig's Senators of the College of Justice (1832), pp. 518-20; Allardyce's Scotland and Scotsmen (1888), i. 121-7; Anderson's Scottish Nation (1863), ii. 364; Burke's Peerage, &c. (1886), pp. 610-11. 1306; Foster's Members of Parliament of Scotland (1882), p. 162; Scots Mag. (1746), viii. 245-6 (1749), xi. 303 (1755), xvii. 212 (1764), xxvi. 291; Rogers's Monuments and Monumental Inscriptions in Scotland (1871), pp. 212-13; Official Return of Lists of Members of Parliament. pt. ii. pp.96, 107, 121; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

G. F. R. B.