SCOTT, John (1747-1819), of Kinton, Salop and Bromley, Kent.
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Family and Education
b. 24 Oct. 1747, 1st s. of Jonathan Scott of Shrewsbury, Salop by Mary, da. of Humphrey Sandford of the Isle of Rossal, Salop. m. (1) 22 June 1772, Elizabeth (d. 26 Oct. 1796), da. of Alexander Blackrie of Bromley, 2s. 2da.; (2) 1796, Mary da. of Samuel Hughes of Seskin, co. Tipperary, 1s. 1da.; (3) 15 Oct. 1812, Harriet Pye née Bennett, wid. of one Esten, s.p. suc. cos. Richard Hill Waring and took additional name of Waring 17 Nov. 1798.
Cadet, E.I. Co. (Bombay) 1766; transferred to Bengal army, ensign 1767, lt. 1769; adj. 1 Bengal Eur. regt. 1774, capt. 1778; a.d.c. to Warren Hastings, Sept. 1778; res. 1781.
Sheriff, Cheshire 1801-2.
Scott had entered Parliament in 1784 as agent to Warren Hastings and had undertaken to present his patron’s case to the House of Commons and the public. In 1790 he paid John Cator* £4,000 for what was supposed to be a ‘quiet seat’ for Stockbridge, but lamented afterwards: ‘Had he any idea of having so much trouble he would have come in for the borough of Looe, rather than have connected himself with Mr Cator, who he found was so very obnoxious to many people’.1 He had himself been reprimanded by the Speaker, 28 May 1790, for publishing an article in Hastings’s favour disrespectful of the House of Commons.
Scott remained Hastings’s spokesman in the Parliament of 1790, until he was ousted from his seat in 1793. On 14 Feb. 1791 he rose to protest against the renewal of the impeachment, and for the benefit of new Members outlined the case for Hastings and, as a corollary, emphasized the flourishing state of Bengal under his administration. Frustrated, he joined other Members of the ‘Bengal squad’ in voting against Pitt on the Oczakov question, 12 Apr. 1791, and again on 1 Mar. 1792. He was listed ‘doubtful’ on the Test Act repeal question in 1791, and even went so far as to join the Friends of the People. But apart from a few words in opposition to the abolition of the slave trade, 19 Apr. 1791, he spoke only on Hastings and India. On 24 May 1791, unsuccessfully moving for Indian information, he claimed that Cornwallis had broken treaties with two nawabs, while Hastings was charged with the breach of only one: it was a point he laboured thereafter. On 27 May he advocated a speedy termination of Hastings’s trial in view of the cost to the public. He opposed compensation for Joseph Fowke, an East India Company officer whose cause was espoused by Edmund Burke, Hastings’s chief accuser, who made a point of ignoring Scott, 7 June.2 On 9 Feb. 1792 he opposed Francis’s motion for investigation of Cornwallis’s campaigns in India while war continued there. On 7 Mar. he secured an account of the expenses of Hastings’s trial but, as he anticipated, was snubbed by Pitt when he moved a scrutiny of them, 5 Apr., and found no support. He denied that Cornwallis’s Indian campaigns were expensive, 15 Mar. 1792, and, 5 June, remarked upon Henry Dundas’s repeatedly bringing in Indian budgets which showed the prosperity of a province Hastings was supposed to have plundered. Hastings was the subject of his last speech before he was unseated, 11 Feb. 1793.
When Hastings was finally acquitted in 1795 and the time came for a financial settlement, Scott gave the heads of his expenditure as: sums to authors, printers, newspapers, booksellers, India House clerks and the House of Commons (this last not enlarged upon, but presumably referring to clerical work undertaken by officials of the House). In addition there was the cost of his election for Stockbridge, of the subsequent petition and what he described as his own extra expenses. By these he meant the cost of supporting himself in London since Hastings’s return from India in 1785, which he reckoned at £1,400 a year. Altogether his bill came to £21,840, of which Hastings had already paid £4,700. The remainder Scott had either met out of his own resources or with money borrowed on his personal credit. When this had been repaid him, Scott calculated that his own fortune would be restored to the £19,540 with which he had returned from India. Though Hastings was evidently taken aback by the size of Scott’s bill, he seems to have paid it in full.
Scott’s expectations did not end there. After Hastings’s acquittal and his acceptance of a handsome grant from the East India Company, he took the view that as he had been prepared to share Hastings’s ruin so also he might expect to profit from his vindication. The reasonableness of this claim was reinforced, he felt, by the fact that Mrs Hastings’s fortune was much larger than was generally believed, larger even than Hastings himself had given Pitt and Dundas to understand. Scott was in a good position to know this, for he had been entrusted by Mrs Hastings with £12,000 of her own fortune and was aware that an even larger sum was held by another trustee. Would it not, he now suggested, save trouble and embarrassment all round if he were simply to retain this £12,000 as his own remuneration? The correspondence does not indicate whether this suggestion was accepted by Hastings, but it may be inferred from the continuing cordiality of their relationship that the final settlement was not unsatisfactory to Scott.3
With the conclusion of the trial the need of a seat in Parliament for Scott disappeared and he was not interested in remaining in the House on his own account, though he was thought to be a candidate for Stafford in 1795. He maintained an interest in Indian affairs and published occasional pamphlets, notably on the question of sending missionaries to India which was eagerly canvassed by the evangelicals in 1812-13 and which Scott strongly opposed. He died 5 May 1819.