Field Marshal John Dalrymple, 2nd Earl of Stair KT


John Dalrymple was born on 20 July 1673, the son of the first earl of the same name, and Elizabeth Dundas. When he was 9 years old he accidentally shot his brother and killed him. After that he was sent to the Netherlands and studied at Leiden University. He joined the Earl of Angus's Regiment (later the 26th Cameronians) as a volunteer and fought at Steenkerque in 1692 where he distinguished himself with his courage and leadership. He exchanged to the 3rd Foot Guards as Lieutenant-colonel in 1702 and fought in Marlborough's campaigns. At the siege of Venlo he saved the life of the Prince of Hesse-Kassel. In 1703 he became Viscount Stair when his father was created 1st Earl, and in Jan 1706 was appointed Colonel of the Earl of Angus's (26th) Regiment. In June 1706 he was a Brigadier-General after commanding a brigade at Ramillies. Two months later he was appointed Colonel of the Scots Greys, and the following year succeeded to the title 2nd Earl of Stair. He distinguished himself at the battles of Oudenarde, Malplaquet, Siege of Lille, Douay and Bouchain.

He reached the rank of Lieutenant-General in June 1710, made Knight of the Thistle and was a Privy Councillor to George I. He was appointed Colonel of the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons in April 1714 and sent as envoy to Versailles but that only lasted a few months because he was recalled to take up the post of Commander-in-Chief in Scotland. However his time in Paris was well spent as he developed friendly relations with Philippe II, Duke of Orleans, paving the way for the Triple Alliance. In politics at home he opposed Robert Walpole's Excise Bill thus losing favour and the post of Vice Admiral of Scotland. He was promoted to General in 1735 at a time when he was creating the gardens at Castle Kennedy, and after Walpole fell from office he was promoted to Field Marshal on 20 Mar 1742. He was Governor of Minorca on 17 April 1742 but on the 20th April was appointed commander of the Pragmatic Army in the War of the Austrian Succession. He commanded the army at Dettingen in 1743 but was upstaged by King George II. After this victory he retired from his post as Commander-in-Chief being 70 years old. He was reappointed to the Colonelcy of both the Inniskilling and the Royal Scots Dragoons in 1743 and 1745 and spent his final years creating another garden at his favourite residence, Newliston in Linlithgowshire. He died on 9 May 1747 in Edinburgh and was buried at Kirkliston. He was married to Lady Eleanor Primrose Campbell daughter of the Earl of Loudon. They had no children so the earldom of Stair was passed on to a nephew, James Dalrymple, after a House of Lords ruling, as the Earl had named another nephew to inherit.


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by Stephen Luscombe