HALYBURTON (HALIBURTON), James (d. by 1755), of Pitcur, Kettins, Forfar.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1707 - 1708

Family and Education

o. s. of David Halyburton (d. 1689) of Pitcur by Agnes Wedderburn, prob. da. of Alexander Wedderburn of Tofts and Kingennie, Forfar.  m. (1) by 1707, Catherine, da. of Sir John Hall, 1st Bt., MP [S], of Dunglass, Haddington, ld. provost of Edinburgh 1689–91, 1692–4, 1s. da.; ?(2) contr. 8 Dec. 1710, Mary, da. of George Drummond of Blair Drummond, Perth., s.psuc. fa. on reversal of outlawry 1700.1

Offices Held

MP [S] Forfarshire 1702–7.

Commr. justiciary for Highlands [S] 1702.2

Burgess, Ayr 17083


Founded by a younger son of a 15th-century high treasurer of Scotland, the Pitcur branch of the Halyburtons could pride itself on an ancestor killed at Flodden, and others who had been commissioners to the Scottish estates in 1560 and 1617. ‘An ancient, great and honourable family’ was John Auchterlonie’s verdict in 1685, ‘whereof there are many persons of good quality descended, and they have been allied to many honourable families in the kingdom.’ He observed that the entire parish of Pitcur, just south-east of the burgh of Coupar, was either in the possession of the laird or in some way dependent upon him, while the mansion itself appeared ‘a great old house, with much fine planting’. In reality, the estate was already heavily mortgaged, and Halyburton’s father had made a reputation that was rather more notorious than enviable, having at one point been convicted as an accessory to the abduction of a 14-year-old girl and her forced marriage to the Earl of Northesk’s brother. David Halyburton was also physically gross: legend has it that in his early attempts to join the Jacobite forces at the Revolution his vast bulk had broken the back of one unfortunate horse before he had found a mount sturdy enough to bear him. At least he achieved a warrior’s death, with Dundee at Killiecrankie. The high price paid for this glory by his widow and son was the pillaging of their estates by the Williamite soldiery, followed by the forfeiture of the inheritance. Halyburton’s mother obtained a protection from the Scots privy council in 1689, on the grounds that she possessed a life interest in a ‘considerable part’ of her late husband’s property, but it was not until April 1700 that Halyburton himself secured a royal warrant to restore him to his patrimony.4

His father’s renown as a Jacobite hero may have assisted Halyburton’s return for his county in the Scottish general election of 1702. Certainly in August and September 1703 he fully supported the Country party in parliament, protesting against the act of security and the wines importation act, and was involved in the campaign to refuse paying the cess. He voted against the ‘New Party’ ministry in 1704, supporting the Duke of Hamilton’s motion to postpone settling the succession. One Jacobite agent reported him in 1706 as ‘loyal’, though not ‘most remarkably so’. In fact by this time Halyburton had joined the Squadrone. He voted the Squadrone line on the Union, and earned a seat in the first Parliament of Great Britain. Continuing to act with the Squadrone, he made little mark in the House and did not stand in 1708, nor indeed thereafter.5

The date of Halyburton’s death has not been firmly established. Family histories place it around 1742–3, but his son, Colonel James Halyburton, was served as heir on 17 July 1755. When the colonel, who was himself by all accounts a rather unstable individual, died childless in 1765, Pitcur passed to his great-nephew, Hamilton Halyburton Douglas, son of the 16th Earl of Morton.6

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. A. J. Warden, Angus, iv. 24; v. 27; CSP Dom. 1700–2, p. 23; SRO Indexes, lix. 146; iii. 378, 382; Sir W. Scott, Memorials of Haliburtons, 57; SRO, Abercairny mss GD24/1/201, marriage contr. 8 Dec. 1710.
  • 2. CSP Dom. 1702–3, p. 353.
  • 3. Carnegie Lib. Ayr, Ayr burgh recs. B6/18/8, council mins. 28 July 1708.
  • 4. Northern N. and Q. xiii. 170; Warden, ii. 263–4; Lauder of Fountainhall, Hist. Notices (Bannatyne Club, lxxxvii), 278, 280; Reg. PC Scotland, 1683–4, p. 226; 1689, p. 321; P. A. Hopkins, Glencoe, 139, 155, 160; Scot. Hist. Soc. ser. 3, xlvi. 132; xlvii. 5; APS, ix. 151, app. 54, 61; CSP Dom. 1700–2, p. 23.
  • 5. HMC Laing, i. 464; info. from Dr P. W. J. Riley on members of Scot. parl.; Buccleuch mss at Drumlanrig Castle, vol. 116, Ld. Tullibardine to [Queensberry], 23 Jan. 1703; APS, xi. 72, 102, 236; Scot. Hist. Soc. ser. 2, i. 24; Boyer, Anne Annals, iii, App., p. 42; Orig. Pprs. ed. Macpherson, ii. 16; HMC Mar and Kellie, i. 273; P. W. J. Riley, Union, 334; Roxburghe mss at Floors Castle, bdle. 755, Duke to Countess of Roxburghe, 25 Dec. 1707.
  • 6. Scott, 57; Warden, iv. 24; Services of Heirs (ser. 1), i. 1750–9, p. 19; 1760–9, p. 11; Horace Walpole Corresp. ed. Lewis, xx. 166.