SCOTT, James I (1671-1732), of Logie and Castlested, Montrose, Forfar.
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Family and Education
b. 1671. 1st s. of James Scott, MP [S], of Logie and Castlested by Agnes, da. of Sir Alexander Falconer, 1st Bt., MP [S], of Glenfarquhar, Kincardine. m. contr. 3 Nov. 1692, Isabella, da. of Sir Alexander Bannerman, 2nd Bt., of Elsick, Kincardine, 3s. 1da. suc. fa. bef. 1722.1
Burgess, Aberdeen 1698; provost, Montrose 1710, 1722.2
MP [S] Forfarshire 1698–1702, Montrose 1702–7.
Jt. master of works [S] 1700–aft. 1708; commr. justiciary for Highlands [S] 1701, 1702.3
The Scott family had been settled in the vicinity of Montrose since about the turn of the 17th century, when a cadet of the barons of Balwearie had migrated there from Fife. The ‘good estate’ and local eminence of the lairds of Logie was the achievement of the Member’s great-grandfather James (d. 1658), the ‘pious, noble’ Provost Scott of Montrose, who through moneylending accumulated sufficient wealth amply to endow each of his six sons with landed estates in Forfarshire or Kincardineshire. A member of the committee of estates appointed by the Scottish parliament in 1640–1, Provost Scott had backed the Covenanting cause to the extent of undertaking administrative and magisterial duties in county and burgh, acting as provost of Montrose almost continuously throughout the 1640s, though his chief concern may well have been self-preservation, and he eventually found himself at odds with the emerging political radicalism in the corporation. His eldest son, who inherited the Logie estate and the urban property, was named at the Restoration as a commissioner of excise for the county and a justice of the peace. He diversified his business activities into the grain trade, but without his father’s golden touch the family’s fortunes experienced a decline. He may also have turned away from Presbyterianism, conforming under Charles II to an episcopalian brand of churchmanship; but even if he did not do so, the next generations did.4
Scott joined his father as a shire representative in the Scottish parliament in 1698, and initially followed parental example by keeping within the fold of the Court party, until the fiasco of the Darien venture alienated father and son from the administration, a reaction that was possibly all the more intense because of the family’s traditional involvement in trade. Both subscribed to the opposition address of 1700 for the summoning of parliament, Scott himself appearing as an opposition nominee for the trade committee in May and November 1700. He ‘left the Country party, upon the temptation of the master of works’ place’, to which he was appointed in 1700, and voted with the administration in January 1701 in preferring an address over Caledonia to an act of parliament, staying with the Court rump in 1702. In 1704, however, he supported the Duke of Hamilton’s motion for deferring a decision on the succession. A Jacobite agent reported the following year that ‘he always did, and still does, pretend much loyalty, and has often sworn . . . that he will never do anything against the King’s [i.e. the Pretender’s] interest’. Such dramatic protestations notwithstanding, he supported the Court over the Union; in this he was both representing the wishes of his electors and acting the part of a placeman.5
Chosen to the first Parliament of Great Britain in 1707, Scott was a defeated candidate for Aberdeen Burghs in the general election a year later, and had to wait until 1710, when it was Montrose’s turn to act as presiding burgh. Having recently secured the provostship of Montrose, where his family had long been the predominant power, Scott attended the election as the town’s delegate, thereby enabling himself not merely to vote in his own favour, but also to disallow as praeses the vote of a hostile delegate. On this manufactured majority he returned himself in the face of protests from his opponent, William Livingston*. Described in one English newspaper as a ‘good churchman’, Scott was classified as an episcopal Tory in the analysis of Scottish returns by Richard Dongworth, the Duchess of Buccleuch’s chaplain. He was listed as one of the ‘worthy patriots’ who in the first session detected the mismanagements of the previous administration, but his Tory reputation was damaged by insinuations that he had benefited electorally from the assistance of the Presbyterian minister in Inverbervie. On 8 Feb. 1711 he was unseated on petition, following alleged incompetence on the part of his legal counsel.6
Scott did not put up at either of the two succeeding general elections, though he was not entirely out of the public eye. In July 1712 he and two other episcopalian j.p.s, including the then provost of Montrose, mounted a violent and politically indiscreet opposition to the provincial synod, for its proclamation of a fast for the 9th of that month. ‘With great solemnity and beating of drums’ they publicly burnt the act of proclamation in full view of the kirk congregation at the market cross in Montrose on the day of the fast, and afterwards persuaded fellow justices to order a formal condemnation and to take proceedings against Presbyterian ministers and congregations. Some of his family connexions were even more extreme in their Toryism, for example his brother-in-law Provost Patrick Bannerman of Aberdeen, who was knighted by the Pretender during the Fifteen. None the less, when Scott himself recovered a place in Parliament, at a by-election for Forfarshire in 1716, it was as a Whig. Aside from reservations over the peerage bill in 1719 he remained a consistent supporter of Whig governments until his death in October 1732. None of his three sons produced issue, so that on the death of the eldest, another James, who had been collector of customs at Montrose for 45 years, Logie passed into his daughter’s family.7
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: D. W. Hayton
- 1. Hist. Scot. Parl. 615; Burke, Commoners, iv. 543.
- 2. New Spalding Club, Misc. ii. 120; D. Fraser, The Smugglers, 39.
- 3. CSP Dom. 1700–2, p. 338; 1702–3, p. 353; 1703–4, p. 404; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxii. 113.
- 4. Burke, 543; D. Fraser, Montrose (before 1700), 122–45, 151; R. Monteith, Epitaphs and Monumental Inscriptions in Scotland, 219–20; A. J. Warden, Angus, ii. 211, 269; iii. 153; iv. 237; APS, vi(l), 560; vi(2), 36, 840, 852, 882; vii. 94, 508; 3rd Spalding Club, Misc. 189, 192; Scot. Hist. Soc. ser. 4, xviii. 6; Spalding, Hist. (Bannatyne Club, xxv), ii. 214; Fraser, Smugglers, 40.
- 5. Info. from Dr P. W. J. Riley on members of Scot. parl.; APS, x. 123, 193, 207, 247; P. W. J. Riley, King Wm. and Scot. Politicians, 174; Boyer, Anne Annals, iii. app. 42; Orig. Pprs. ed. Macpherson, ii. 16; P. W. J. Riley, Union, 327, 331; SHR, lxvi. 183–4.
- 6. Warden, ii. 270; HMC Portland, x. 159; Post Boy, 4–7 Nov. 1710; SHR, lx. 63; The Case of William Livingston ; SRO, Montrose mss GD220/5/808/16, Mungo Graham* to Montrose, 8 Feb. 1711.
- 7. HMC Portland, 280–1; Flying Post, 7–9 Oct. 1712; A. M. Munro, Memorials . . . Ld. Provosts of Aberdeen, 209; Fraser, Smugglers, 39–40.