National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Sir John Dalrymple (1648-1707)

Sir John Dalrymple (1648-1707)

Politician and Lord Advocate

Sir John Dalrymple, first earl of Stair, was the son of James Dalrymple, first viscount Stair. He studied law and became an advocate in 1672. He received a knighthood in 1667. He was incarcerated in Edinburgh Castle 1682-3 and again in the Tolbooth in 1684 by John Graham of Claverhouse, viscount Dundee. Under the monarchs, William and Mary, Sir John Dalrymple became Lord Advocate and Secretary of State. A government enquiry traced the orders for the infamous massacre of Glancoe in 1692 to the Secretary and he was forced to resign in 1695. In 1703 he was raised a step up in the peerage from a viscount to an earl. He was involved in the political wrangling of the Union settlement.

Testament of John Dalrymple, first earl of Stair

National Records of Scotland, CC8/8/83 pp 393-394

In his will he even seems to claim for travelling expenses to London. There are also reference to his investments in the 'Company of Scottland trading to affrica and the indies'. This company set up a colony on the Darien peninsula in Panama, which came to a disastrous end. John's widow was the dowager countess of Stair. She was a prominent member of Edinburgh society. Lady Stair's house, where she lived from 1719 until her death in 1759, is now a museum.

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