DALRYMPLE, William (1736-1807).

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



1784 - 1790

Family and Education

b. 1736, 2nd s. of Hon. George Dalrymple of Dalmahoy, Edinburgh, M.P.[S], baron of Exchequer [S], by Euphame, da. of Sir Andrew Myreton, 1st Bt., of Gogar; bro. of John, 5th Earl of Stair [S]. educ. Glasgow Univ. 1749. m. 16 Sept. 1783, Marianne Dorothy, da. of Adm. Sir Robert Harland, 1st Bt., of Sproughton, Suff., 1s.

Offices Held

Ensign 52 Ft. 1756, lt. 1759; capt. 91 Ft. 1760, maj. 1762; half pay 1763; maj. 14 Ft. 1764, lt.-col. 1765; maj.-gen. (local, St. Vincent) 1772-3; quartermaster gen. (America) 1779-83; maj.-gen. 1782; lt.-gen. 1793; col. 47 Ft. 1794-d.; gen. 1798; lt.-gov. Chelsea Hospital 1798- d.


After service in Portugal (1762), Halifax (Nova Scotia), and Boston (1766-72), Dalrymple commanded the expedition sent to subdue the Caribs in St. Vincent, 1773.1 In February 1773 he went home but kept in touch with American affairs through his Boston ‘Tory’ friends. News of the ‘tea-party’ caused him ‘grief rather than surprise’; he offered his services and, failing to obtain promotion despite the friendship of Sandwich and Jenkinson, returned to Boston in October 1775 as a lieutenant-colonel.2 In England again in 1777, he was mentioned as second choice for the colonelcy of the 82nd regiment.3 On 7 June 1778 North wrote to the King:4

Col. Dalrymple, having had hopes given him of a further payment to reimburse him for his expenses in the expedition against the Caribs, will in all probability desist from his claim upon obtaining the promotion he solicits.

He received nothing until the autumn of 1779, when he was appointed quartermaster general in America with the rank of brigadier-general.5 He was sent home from New York in August 1780 to report on the gravity of the situation, returned in the summer of 1781, and after Yorktown took a major part in the negotiations with the Americans on the welfare and exchange of prisoners of war.6

In 1782 charges were brought against him concerning his accounts and profits; in his defence he quoted the comment of the commander-in-chief, Sir Henry Clinton:7

Your acts have my complete approbation and ... the advantages that may have risen to yourself I am glad of. The public have been well served, and it is fit those who performed it so meritoriously should have their reward.

Dalrymple returned home in 1783, and at the 1784 election was returned after a contest, on Lord Stair’s interest. Despite Stair’s Opposition connexions, Dalrymple was listed ‘doubtful’ by William Adam in May 1784. He voted for parliamentary reform, 18 Apr. 1785, and with the Opposition on the Regency. No speech by him is recorded. He did not seek re-election in 1790.

‘A man of the most amiable manners and temper’,8 he was a popular member of London society, and a close friend of John Courtenay and W. Gerard Hamilton.9  He died 16 Feb. 1807.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Edith Lady Haden-Guest


  • 1. Jas. Abercrombie to Loudoun, 18 June 1764, Dalrymple to Loudoun, 22 June, 11 and 29 July 1765, Loudoun mss; Gage Corresp. ii. 38, 40, 388, 607-8, 614-15, 628, 633; Add. 38340, ff. 285, 309b; Hood to G. Grenville, 11 July, 18 Aug. 1768, Grenville Pprs. iv. 306-8, 332-4; HMC Dartmouth, ii. 97, 532; Fortescue, ii. 424; H.O. Pprs. 1770-2, nos. 1470, 1477.
  • 2. Dalrymple to Loudoun, 22 Jan. 1774, Loudoun mss; HMC Dartmouth, ii. 192, 196, 209, 213, 304.
  • 3. Fortescue, iii. 531.
  • 4. Ibid. iv. 168.
  • 5. See his ‘Narrative of circumstances attending Gen. Dalrymple’s ... employment as quartermaster general in America’, Add. 33030, ff. 452-7.
  • 6. HMC Royal Institution, ii. 170, 424, 441-4, 446-9, 455; HMC Dartmouth, ii. 477; Dalrymple’s ‘Narrative’.
  • 7. His ‘Narrative’.
  • 8. Gent. Mag. 1807, p. 280.
  • 9. Boswell, Private Pprs. xvi. 109, 116, 131; xviii. 7, 26.