DUNLOP, James (1759-1832), of Dunlop, Ayr and Southwick, Kirkcudbright

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



Family and Education

b. 19 June 1759, 5th but 3rd surv. s. of John Dunlop, laird of that ilk (d. 1785), and Frances Anne, da. and h. of Sir Thomas Wallace, 5th bt., of Craigie, Ayr. m. 20 July 1802, Julia, da. of Hugh Baillie of Monkton, Kirkcudbright, 3s. (1 d.v.p.) 2da. (1 d.v.p.). suc. fa. (during his lifetime) to Southwick 1784. d. 30 Mar. 1832.

Offices Held

Lt. 82 Ft. 1778, capt. 1782, half-pay 1783-7; capt. 77 Ft. 1787; brevet maj. 1794; maj. 77 Ft. 1795, lt.-col. 1795; brevet col. 1803; lt.-col. 55 Ft. 1804-14; brig.-gen. 1804; maj.-gen. 1810; lt.-gen. 1814; col. 75 Ft. 1827-d.

Dep. paymaster, Bombay 1794; mil. sec. to gov. of Bombay until 1796.


When the Peninsular veteran Dunlop was threatened by a Whig with a contest for the Stewartry in 1820, Lord Melville, the Liverpool ministry’s Scottish manager, asked the leading interests to support him as ‘a friend of the present administration’. Although one of his correspondents claimed that Dunlop was ‘uniformly considered in the county as a half Whig’, who had not only failed to support government in the aftermath of Peterloo, but had flirted with the local opposition, Melville’s intervention was decisive and Dunlop came in without opposition.1 He duly supported government, but was a poor attender. He was in their majorities on the Queen Caroline affair, 6 Feb., and the additional malt duty, 3 Apr. 1821. He voted for Catholic relief, 28 Feb. He took leave to attend to private business, 19 Apr. 1821. He voted against abolition of one of the joint-postmasterships, 13 Mar. 1822, parliamentary reform, 2 June, inquiry into chancery delays, 5 June 1823, and reform of Edinburgh’s representation, 26 Feb. 1824, 13 Apr. 1826. He took two weeks’ leave, 14 Feb. 1825, but was present to vote for the Irish unlawful societies bill, 25 Feb., and Catholic relief, 1 Mar. On 15 Apr. he was granted two weeks’ leave on account of the death of his elder daughter, and he paired for relief, 10 May. He voted for the duke of Cumberland’s annuity, 30 May, 6, 10 June 1825, and a ministerial salary for the president of the board of trade, 10 Apr. 1826. He is not known to have contributed to debate in 14 years as a Member, but he presented petitions against alteration of the Scottish currency, 14, 20 Apr. 1826.2

The threat to Dunlop’s hold on his seat had revived, and in 1824 the same freeholder who had voiced doubts about him four years earlier told Melville that ‘the general opinion is that General Dunlop is no more a Tory than the other two talked of candidates’, that he ‘never divides with ministers in any great constitutional question’ and that ‘his private opinions coincide’ with the Whig views of his wife’s nephew Thomas Henry Hastings Davies*.3 The following year the Whig Robert Fergusson* emerged as his rival for the seat. Dunlop, whose canvass in the autumn of 1825 was handicapped by an accident in which he dislocated his shoulder, received Melville’s renewed backing and stood his ground at the general election of 1826, but was narrowly beaten.4 Soon afterwards he thanked the home secretary Peel for fulfilling an earlier request for a piece of ecclesiastical patronage and, setting the seal on his parliamentary career, concluded:

As I shall not in future have occasion to make similar applications, permit me to express to you how much I have always felt myself obliged, not only by the disposition I have experienced on your part to attend to my requests, but also for the facility, promptitude, and agreeable manner with which my communications to you have been received and answered, and which have appeared to me, not less calculated to promote the public business than the satisfaction and comfort of those who were connected with it.5

His correspondence with Peel between 1823 and 1826 confirms that he was remarkably successful in his requests for church patronage.6

Dunlop was given a colonelcy in 1827 and died in March 1832 after a long illness. His eldest son and successor John Dunlop (b. 1806), who was created a baronet in 1838, sat as a reformer for Renfrew Burghs, 1832-4, and Ayrshire from 1835 until his death in 1839. The baronetcy became extinct on the early death of his only son James in 1858.7

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: David R. Fisher


  • 1. NAS GD51/1/198/14/19-28; NLS mss 11, f. 79.
  • 2. The Times, 15, 21 Apr. 1826.
  • 3. NAS GD51/1/198/14/30.
  • 4. NAS GD51/1/198/14/32-36; Glasgow Herald, 16, 23, 26 June 1826.
  • 5. Add. 40387, f. 225.
  • 6. Add. 40339, f. 90; 40354, f. 98; 40360, f. 201; 40367, ff. 39, 224, 269; 40376, f. 252; 40383, f. 100.
  • 7. J.G. Dunlop, Dunlops of Dunlop, 32-33; Scottish Electoral Politics, 226, 234, 248; Gent. Mag. (1839), i. 557; (1858), i. 341, 449.