VEITCH, James (1712-93), of Elliock, Dumfries.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



19 Dec. 1755 - Feb. 1761

Family and Education

b. 25 Sept. 1712, 1st s. of William Veitch of Elliock, Dumfries by Christian, da. of Gavin Thomson, provost of Peebles.  educ. Edinburgh Univ.; Leyden 1733; Halle;1 adv. 1738. unm.  suc. fa. 25 Oct. 1747. Raised to Scottish bench as Lord Elliock 6 Mar. 1761.

Offices Held

Commr. for forfeited estates 1767, for fisheries and manufactures 1777; dep. gov. Royal Bank 1776- d.


Veitch began his legal career as an apprentice to his father, an eminent writer to the signet. He continued his studies in Holland and Germany, where his ‘abilities and conversation’ attracted the attention of Crown Prince Frederick of Prussia who persuaded him to cut short his grand tour and remain at his court for some years.2 On his return to Scotland he became a popular member of Edinburgh legal and literati circles. He was connected in county politics with the Duke of Queensberry, who in 1755 brought him into Parliament for Dumfriesshire.

Although during the negotiations of March 1757, Newcastle was hopeful of attaching Veitch to himself, he voted, 2 May 1757, against Newcastle and Fox on the Minorca inquiry. A member of the committee to prepare the Scottish militia bill of 1760, he objected to Pitt’s proposal to ‘draw the Highland line’. He did not vote against the bill on 15 Apr., but may possibly have abstained. From this time rumours were current that he would receive early promotion to the Scottish bench. Newcastle, anxious to secure a seat for Thomas Miller, the new lord advocate, advised him to propose to Queensberry that if Veitch were given the first vacant gown, Queensberry might bring in Miller in his place. Queensberry agreed, but as Miller had no electoral qualification for the county, it was tentatively arranged that he would replace General Archibald Douglas in Dumfries Burghs while Douglas stood for the county. On 22 Oct. 1760 Lord Bankton died; Miller at once informed Newcastle of the vacancy but warned him:

General Douglas will not have a qualification for being elected for the county for two or three months and therefore if Mr. Veitch’s seat should be vacated before General Douglas is in a capacity to succeed him the whole scheme would prove abortive.3

On 22 Nov. Miller, ‘from long and intimate acquaintance’, recommended Veitch to Hardwicke for the appointment:4

He is a man of great worth and as much in the favour and esteem of his country as any man I know, and though he has not had much practice at the bar yet he is a man of learning and solid knowledge of the law and I observe that the prospect of his promotion gives very general satisfaction both to the judges and to the bar.

Veitch received the appointment, but in view of the Dumfriesshire electoral difficulties, the warrant was not issued until 27 Feb. 1761. He took his seat on the bench as Lord Elliock, 6 Mar.5

He died 1 July 1793.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Edith Lady Haden-Guest


  • 1. Boswell, Private Pprs. iii. 114.
  • 2. Scots Mag. 1793, p. 361; Alex. Carlyle, Autobiog. 482-3.
  • 3. Add. 32995, f. 383; 33034, f. 232; 32904, f. 176; 33049, f. 306; 32906, f. 197; 32913, ff. 292-3.
  • 4. Add., 35449, f. 284.
  • 5. Cal. Home Office Pprs. 1760-5, no. 449.