HALDANE, George (1722-59), of Bearcrofts, Stirling and Gleneagles, Perth.
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Family and Education
bap. 10 July 1722, o.s. of Patrick Haldane, M.P., of Bearcrofts and Gleneagles, jt. solicitor-gen. [S] 1746-55, by Margaret, da. of William, 4th Lord Forrester of Corstorphine; nephew of Robert Haldane. unm.
Ensign 3 Ft. Gds. 1740, capt. and lt-col. 1749; col. 1758.
Gov. Jamaica Jan. 1758- d.
At the 1754 general election the Haldanes, with lavish expenditure, prepared to oppose ministerial candidates in three constituencies: in Stirlingshire Robert attacked Argyll’s protégé Sir James Campbell; in Stirling Burghs George sought to outbid Robert Cuninghame; and also contested Perth Burghs against Thomas Leslie, Pelham’s pensioner, ‘for no other reason than to distress Administration’, wrote the Duke of Argyll.1
After Pelham’s death, George was prepared to come to terms with Administration. Thomas Leslie wrote to Newcastle, 24 Mar. 1754:2
Colonel Haldane desired me ... to mention to you that he and his friends had no inclination to oppose the measures of his Majesty or his ministers; that if your Grace would see him, he would endeavour to satisfy you; at the same time, in consequence of that, proposed to give me no further trouble.
After negotiations, Haldane withdrew his opposition to Leslie in Perth Burghs, and was himself returned for Stirling Burghs. But Robert Haldane did not desist in Stirlingshire, and Argyll remained implacably hostile to the family.
Haldane was classed by Dupplin as a supporter of Administration, and was not slow to solicit rewards for his allegiance. Even before his election he unsuccessfully applied for the place of baron of the Exchequer for his father, and on his retirement as solicitor-general in April 1755 secured for him a pension of £400 per annum. On Mungo Haldane’s death in June 1755, when his father succeeded to Gleneagles, George promptly applied for his uncle’s salary as commissioner of police; and when refused, suggested as a mark of favour army promotion, a place in the Prince of Wales’s household, or any office worth £400 p.a. Newcastle was friendly, but not wishing to offend Argyll put Haldane off.3
Committed to support the Newcastle-Fox Administration, Haldane spoke in the debates on the bill for the encouragement of seamen, and defended the Russian and Hessian treaties, testifying to his experience of Hessian troops in action.4 Despite Newcastle’s promises of favour, he failed to secure preferment either as commissary to the Russian troops, or as a member of the Board of Ordnance. Nevertheless he remained faithful. He wrote to Newcastle, 2 Apr. 1757:5 ‘I beg leave ... to assure your Grace that changes in Administration make no alteration in my way of thinking, and that you may command my single vote.’ But he was absent through illness from the division of 2 May 1757 on the loss of Minorca.
Under the Pitt-Devonshire Administration Haldane desperately continued his search for preferment; when refused the governorship of New York he offered to serve in the Rochfort expedition ‘as adjutant or quartermaster general even without rank’, and resented Wolfe’s promotion. ‘I have been longer an officer than he ... and seen as much service as Mr. Wolfe or any other officer of my age in the army.’6 His importunities were at last rewarded by his appointment on 27 Jan. 1758 as governor of Jamaica, at a salary of £2,500 p.a., with additional emoluments to be voted by the colonial assembly.
He vacated his seat in favour of his uncle Robert Haldane, and in anticipation of future profits recklessly contracted further debts, to meet which his father pledged his family estates. Having taken the oath as governor and been promoted colonel, he was appointed brigadier-general in October to serve in the expedition against Martinique, with instructions to proceed afterwards to Jamaica. His extravagant pretensions had long made him ridiculous. Allan Whitefoord wrote to Loudoun, October 1758:7
The new expedition and general staff are all extraordinary and ... Lt.-Col. Haldane (now Brig.-Gen.) not the least. I do not despair if I live a few years to see an excellent new farce acted on the stage by that name.
After serving at Martinique and at Guadaloupe, Haldane arrived in Jamaica in April 1759 but died at Spanish Town, 26 July. He left a vast accumulation of debts which brought his father to financial disaster and forced the sale of Gleneagles in 1760 to Robert Haldane.8
Ref Volumes: 1754-1790
Author: Edith Lady Haden-Guest
- 1. Add. 32737, f. 340.
- 2. Add. 32734, f. 334.
- 3. Add. 35448, f. 88; 32854, f. 202; 32855, f. 475; 32858, f. 83.
- 4. Parl. Hist. xv. 544-8, 611-16; Walpole, Mems. Geo. II, ii. 128.
- 5. J. A. L. Haldane, Haldanes of Gleneagles, 167.
- 6. Ibid. 167-8.
- 7. Loudoun mss.
- 8. Breadalbane to Hardwicke, 17 Nov. 1759, Add. 35450, f. 289.