Primrose, Archibald (1616-1679) (DNB00)

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PRIMROSE, Sir ARCHIBALD, Lord Carrington (1616–1679), Scottish official and judge, born 16 May 1616, was son of James Primrose [q. v.], clerk to the privy council of Scotland, by his second wife, Catharine, daughter of Richard Lawson of Boghall, Lanarkshire. On 2 Sept. 1641 he succeeded his father as clerk to the privy council, and he acted as clerk to the convention of estates in 1643 and 1644. After the victory of Kilsyth he joined the army of Montrose, was taken prisoner at Philiphaugh on 13 Sept. 1645, and was tried and condemned for treason at the parliament of St. Andrews in 1646. His life was spared, but he remained a prisoner till the end of 1646, when he was released, and, again joining the royalist army, he was knighted by Charles II. Having taken part in the engagement of 1648, he was on 10 March 1649 deprived of his office of clerk of the privy council by the Act of Classes, but was reinstated on 6 June 1652. He accompanied Charles II on his march to England, and was made a baronet on 1 Aug. 1651.

After the battle of Worcester his estates were sequestrated, and he remained out of office during the Protectorate. At the Restoration he was appointed lord clerk register out of many competitors, having bought off Sir William Fleming, to whom Charles Il had given a grant of it during his exile.

On 14 Feb. 1661 he was appointed a lord of session under the title of Lord Carrington, a lord of exchequer, and a member of the privy council. He was the principal author of the Rescissory Act, by which all the acts of the Scottish parliament since 1633 were rescinded, and of the series of acts declaratory of the royal prerogative. According to Burnet, he was responsible for, and afterwards regretted, their preambles, ‘full of extravagant rhetoric, reflecting seriously on the proceedings of the late times, and swelled up with the highest phrases and fullest clauses he could invent.’ Although a follower of the party of Middleton and an opponent of Lauderdale, he was politic enough to oppose the Act of Billeting, which was aimed at Lauderdale, and retained his offices after Middleton's fall from power.

In 1676 an intrigue, attributed to the influence of the Duchess of Lauderdale, led to his removal from the office of lord clerk register, which was given to the duchess's kinsman, Sir Thomas Murray of Glendook, during pleasure; but, ‘to stop his mouth and sore against his heart,’ Primrose received the office of justice-general, which was inferior in emoluments. Deprived of this office also on 16 Oct. 1678, he died on 27 Nov. 1679, and was buried in the church of Dalmeny, in which parish the estate of Bambougle or Dalmeny, purchased by him from the Earl of Haddington in 1662, is situated. Bishop Burnet, a contemporary though not unprejudiced witness, has drawn his character with some justice: ‘He was a dexterous man in business. He had always expedients ready at every difficulty. … He was always for soft counsels and slow methods, and thought that the chief thing that a great man ought to do was to raise his family and his kindred, who naturally stick to him; for he had seen so much of the world that he did not depend much on friends, and so took no care of making any.’

Lord Carrington married, first, Elizabeth, daughter and coheiress of Sir James Keith of Benholm; and, secondly, Agnes, daughter of Sir William Gray of Pittendrum, and widow of Sir James Dundas of Newliston. William, his eldest surviving son by his first wife, succeeded to the baronetcy. His youngest son by his first wife, Gilbert Primrose (1654–1731), obtained a commission in the 1st footguards, 1 Sept. 1680, served on the Rhine and in the Low Countries under Marlborough, and became colonel of the 24th foot on 9 March 1708, and major-general on 1 Jan. 1710. He resigned his regiment in 1717, and died at Kensington Square on 2 Sept. 1731 (Gent. Mag. s.a. p. 403). The only son by his second wife, Archibald, first Earl of Rosebery, is separately noticed.

[Acts of Parliament of Scotland, vi. and vii.; Books of Sederunt of Court of Session; Records of the Privy Council of Scotland, vol. ix.; Sir J. Mackenzie's History of Scotland; Kirkton's History; Balfour's Annals, vol. iv.; Burnet's History of his Own Time; Brunton and Haig's Senators of the College of Justice. For Gilbert Primrose see Dalton's Army Lists, i. 276; Douglas's Peerage, ed. Wood, ii. 405; Beatson's Polit. Index, ii. 141, 222; Marlborough's Despatches, iv. 367.]

Æ. M.