DALRYMPLE, Adolphus John (1784-1866), of High Mark, Wigtown and 129 Park Street, Grosvenor Square, Mdx.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



14 Feb. 1817 - 1818
5 Apr. 1819 - 1826
10 Aug. 1831 - 1832
1837 - 1841

Family and Education

b. 3 Feb. 1784, 1st s. of Gen. Sir Hew Whitefoord Dalrymple, 1st bt., of High Mark and Frances, da. and coh. of Gen. Francis Leighton of Loton Park, Salop. educ. Harrow 1796-9. m. 23 June 1812, Anne, da. of Sir James Graham, 1st bt.*, s.p. suc. fa. as 2nd. bt. 9 Apr. 1830. d. 3 Mar. 1866.

Offices Held

Ensign 37 Ft. 1799, lt. 1800; lt. 1 Drag. Gds. 1801; a.d.c. to Sir James Craig 1802-6; capt. 18 Drag. 1803; military sec. to his fa. 1806-8; maj. 3 Ft. Sept. 1808; maj. 19 Drag. Nov. 1808; lt.-col. 60 Ft. June 1814; lt.-col. (half-pay) 2 Garrison Batt. 1814; col. 1830; a.d.c. to the sovereign 1830-41; maj.-gen. 2 Garrison Batt. 1841; lt.-gen. 1851; gen. 1860.


The scion of a military family with estates and political interests in the Lowlands of Scotland, Dalrymple had joined the army as intended in 1799, but his career faltered after his father, whom he served as secretary in Portugal, signed the unpopular Convention of Cintra in 1808. An anti-Catholic Tory, he had been returned for Weymouth in 1817 and Lord Lonsdale’s seat at Appleby in 1819 on the recommendation of his father-in-law Sir James Graham, Member for Carlisle, and remained Member for Appleby in the 1820 Parliament. As hitherto, he generally divided with the Lowther ‘ninepins’ in support of the Liverpool administration’s policies on taxation and retrenchment and against Catholic relief, 28 Feb. 1821, 30 Apr. 1822, 1 Mar., 21 Apr., 10 May 1825.1 Prior to the introduction of the 1831-2 parliamentary reform bills, which he vehemently opposed, Dalrymple rarely spoke in debate and generally confined his remarks to military matters. A radical publication of 1825 described him as a Member who ‘attended occasionally and voted with ministers’.2

On 4 May 1820 he countered Hume’s assertion that additional church provision was necessary in Gibraltar by describing the half-empty churches there during his residence, 1808-10. He divided consistently with government on the Queen Caroline affair, 1820-1, and voted to retain the death penalty for forgery offences, 23 May 1821. He approved the army estimates, 15 Mar. 1822, but his remarks were not reported.3 He was in the government minority against inquiring into the prosecution of the Dublin Orange rioters, 22 Apr., and their majority on chancery arrears, 5 June 1823. He divided against Scottish parliamentary reform, 2 June 1823, 13 Apr. 1826, and the Scottish juries bill, 20 June 1823, and voted against condemning the indictment in Demerara of the Methodist missionary John Smith, 11 June 1824. His comments on the quarantine bill, 3 June 1825, could not be heard.4 The Lowthers privately doubted whether he would continue to do their bidding following Graham’s death in March 1825, but he divided with them on the Jamaican slave trials, 2 Mar., and the president of the board of trade’s salary, 10 Apr. 1826. By arrangement with the Lowthers he made way for Lord Lauderdale’s son Viscount Maitland at Appleby at the general election in June and replaced his kinsman Sir Hew Dalrymple Hamilton as Member for Haddington Burghs on the Lauderdale and Dalrymple interests.5

He divided against Catholic relief, 6 Mar. 1827, 12 May 1828. He disputed the charges of mismanagement levelled against his friend Lord Charles Somerset† as governor of the Cape and criticized the Liverpool and Canning administrations for failing to resolve the matter promptly through inquiry, 17 May 1827.6 He promoted the contentious Dunbar harbour bill at its third reading, 15 June, and divided in the minority against the Coventry magistracy bill, 18 June 1827.7 He voted against repealing the Test Acts, 26 Feb. 1828, and encouraged petitioning against this.8 He divided with the Wellington ministry against ordnance reductions, 4 July 1828, and commended their army estimates, 20 Feb., 20 Mar. 1829. The patronage secretary Planta’s prediction that he would vote ‘with government’ for Catholic emancipation proved incorrect, for he divided with the Lowthers against it, 18 Mar., expressed dissatisfaction with its provisions, 24 Mar., and presented a hostile petition from his Lauder constituents, 27 Mar.9 He criticized the tailzies regulation bill, which he claimed most Scottish landowners opposed, and suggested killing it through adjournment, 28 May 1829.10 He voted against transferring East Retford’s seats to Birmingham, 11 Feb., and enfranchising Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, 23 Feb., and denied allegations by the radical Whittle Harvey that Graham had abused his position as a Member to promote private bills for pecuniary reward, 36 Feb. 1830. After succeeding to the baronetcy and Wigtownshire and Hertfordshire (Delrow) estates in April, he published his father’s private memoirs of Gibraltar posthumously with a view to restoring his reputation and correcting Lord Londonderry’s account.11 He voted against cutting the grant for South American missions, 7 June, and probably paired that day against making forgery a non-capital offence. He was appointed an aide-de-camp to William IV on 22 July and came in again for Haddington Burghs at the general election in August 1830.12

The ministry counted Dalrymple among their ‘friends’ and he divided with them on the civil list when they were brought down, 15 Nov. 1830. He presented petitions from his constituents against slavery, 16 Nov., and for reform of parliamentary and municipal government, 6 Dec. 1830, 22 Feb., 19 Mar. 1831. He voted against the Grey ministry’s English reform bill at its second reading, 22 Mar., and for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. Endorsing a hostile petition from Carlisle, 29 Mar., he objected strongly to the disfranchisement of 8-900 of its freemen and the ‘revolutionary character’ of the bill, which ‘deprived them of their hereditary rights’. The Lowthers briefly contemplated putting him up there as a second ‘Yellow’ at the ensuing general election.13 Ridiculed as an ‘anti-reformer’, a ‘stranger’ and ‘an Englishman’, he lost his seat for Haddington Burghs by three votes to two in a violent contest at Jedburgh, but was reinstated on petition in August.14 He remained convinced that the reform bills subverted the constitution and threatened the influence of the landed interest. Citing the likely predominance of Birmingham, Coventry and the political unions in the proposed new Warwickshire constituencies, he joined Sugden in badgering ministers to deprive borough freeholders of their voting rights in counties corporate, 17 Aug. As seconder for Edmund Peel’s amendment to preserve the freeman franchise, 30 Aug., he again put the case of the ‘disinherited’ Carlisle and London freemen, objected to their replacement by an ‘improved body of persons paying 3s. 10d. a week for the rent of their residence’ and equated their rights to the ‘entailed estates and titles’ of ‘the noble lords opposite’. He voted to retain the non-resident freeholder vote in the sluiced boroughs of Aylesbury, Cricklade, East Retford and New Shoreham, 2 Sept., and against the bill’s third reading, 19 Sept., and passage, 21 Sept. He witnessed the stoning of Wellington’s London residence, Apsley House, following the bill’s defeat in the Lords and, after giving his statement to the metropolitan police commissioner, he informed the House that he found more fault in the ‘cavalier attitude of some ministers’ than the conduct of an inadequate police force, 12 Oct. He divided against the revised English reform bill at its second reading, 17 Dec. 1831, and committal, 20 Jan. 1832. He condemned the ‘wanton’ disfranchisement of Appleby, which, with Lord Maitland, Sir Robert Peel and Scarlett, he attributed to errors made by the boundary commissioners and failure to define the boundary when burgage tenure became the acknowledged franchise, 21 Feb. Opposing the separate enfranchisement of Gateshead instead of Merthyr Tydfil, 5 Mar., he again contrasted Appleby’s harsh treatment with the bill’s generous provisions for the towns of County Durham, Birmingham and Wolverhampton. He voted against enfranchising Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb., the third reading of the English reform bill, 22 Mar., and the second reading of the Irish measure, 25 May. He tried to justify the discrepancy between his votes for leaving the Scottish representation unchanged, 19 Apr. 1831, and for increasing it, 1 June 1832, by attributing the former to his objections to the principle of ‘extensive enfranchisement or disfranchisement’ and the latter to the fact that the English bill had passed the Commons and the strength of the Scottish case. He divided against government on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 12 July, and the Greek loan, 6 Aug. 1832.

Using his military expertise to assist the Conservative opposition, Dalrymple called repeatedly and ultimately successfully for an end to alleged abuses in the commutation of soldiers’ pensions, the assisted emigration scheme and provisions for officers’ widows, 17 Feb., 2, 4 Apr., 3 Aug. 1832. He also upheld the rights of foreign officers to half-pay and to hold civilian posts, 26 July. He could be relied on to defend the interests of the planters and colonial legislatures and, as he had already intimated to Fowell Buxton, when they met out riding earlier that day, he spoke in favour of the government amendment limiting the scope of his proposed inquiry into colonial slavery with a view to its abolition, 24 May.15 When colonial grants were voted, 3 Aug., he compared the government’s conduct towards its colonies to that of a ‘hot tempered parent giving hasty commands to her children and afterwards holding out a sugar plum as a reward for disobedience’. His complaint that the House was being asked to approve orders in council relating to the colonies before being given an opportunity to consider them was rejected that day by 51-20 and his questions on their enforcement remained unanswered. He conceded that further delay in considering the corn laws was impracticable and claimed a 50 per cent diminution in the value of his land over the previous 15 years, 1 June. He objected strongly to the ministry’s decision to defer inquiry into the conduct of his friend General Sir Ralph Darling as governor of New South Wales to a reformed Parliament, in which ‘I do not know that it will be my fortune to have a seat’, 1 Aug. 1832, when he was also a speaker for the ecclesiastical courts bill.

At the general election of 1832 Dalrymple belatedly stood as a self-styled ‘Peelite Conservative’ for Brighton, where his regiment was based, and finished a poor fifth.16 He was narrowly defeated there in 1835, but succeeded in 1837.17 He retired from Parliament in 1841. He died without issue at Delrow in March 1866, having been predeceased in 1858 by his wife, with whom he was commemorated in Aldenham church.18 His estates and personal effects passed to the sons of his late sisters Charlotte, wife of Vice-Admiral Sir John Chambers White, and Frances, wife of Colonel Edward Fanshaw. The Dalrymple baronetcy was revived on 28 July 1926 for his great-nephew, Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Godfrey Dalrymple Dalrymple White (1886-1954), Unionist Member for Southport, 1910-13.

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Margaret Escott


  • 1. HP Commons, 1790-1820, iii. 560; Northumb. RO, Middleton mss ZM1/276/35/5.
  • 2. Session of Parl. 1825, p. 559.
  • 3. The Times, 16 Mar. 1822.
  • 4. Ibid. 4 June 1825.
  • 5. Scotsman, 5 July 1826.
  • 6. The Times, 18, 19 May 1827.
  • 7. Ibid. 16 June 1827.
  • 8. Lonsdale mss, Beckett to Lowther, n.d. [1828-9]; Cockburn Letters, 193.
  • 9. Lonsdale mss, Lowther to Lonsdale, 17, 19 Mar. 1829.
  • 10. Cockburn Letters, 193.
  • 11. Gent. Mag. (1830), i. 558; PROB 11/1772/367; Scottish United Services Mus. Dalrymple-White mss DAL2/4/4/2/4; Sir H. Dalrymple, Mem. of Proceedings as connected with Affairs of Spain (1830); The Times, 27 Oct. 1830.
  • 12. NMM, Troubridge mss MS84/070, box 3/13, Cochrane to Troubridge, 4 June 1830; Wellington mss WP1/1127/6; Scotsman, 17 July 1830.
  • 13. Cumbria RO, Howard of Corby Castle mss D/HC/1/21, Dobinson to Howard, 14 Apr 1831.
  • 14. Scotsman, 26 Mar., 2, 27, 30 Apr., 4, 7, 28 May; Wellington mss WP1/1184/18; G.B.A.M. Finlayson, ‘Note on Employment of Military in Haddington, 1831’, Trans. E. Lothian Antiq. Soc. x (1966), 17-21.
  • 15. Buxton Mems. 289.
  • 16. The Times, 12, 13 Dec. 1832.
  • 17. Add. 40407, f. 118; 40410, f. 233; The Times, 1, 8, 9 Jan. 1835, 18, 22 July 1837.
  • 18. Gent. Mag. (1866), i. 745.