RAE, Sir William, 3rd Bt. (1769-1842), of St. Catherines, Edinburgh.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



26 July 1819 - 1826
16 May 1827 - 1830
1830 - 1831
1831 - 1832
4 Sept. 1833 - 19 Oct. 1842

Family and Education

b. 14 Apr. 1769, 2nd s. of Sir David Rae, 1st Bt., of Eskgrove, ld. justice clerk, by Margaret, da. of John Stuart of Blairhall, Perth. educ. Edinburgh h.s. 1779-82; Glasgow Univ. 1788; Edinburgh Univ.; adv. 1791. m. 9 Sept. 1793, Mary, da. of Lt.-Col. Charles Stuart, 63 Ft., s.p. suc. bro. David as 3rd Bt. 22 May 1815.

Offices Held

Ld. advocate June 1819-Nov. 1830, Dec. 1834-Apr. 1835, Sept. 1841-d.; PC 19 July 1830.

Sheriff, Orkney 1801-9, Edinburgh 1809-19; dir. (extraordinary), Bank of Scotland 1809-14.

Cornet, Edinburgh vol. cav. 1797, capt. 1797-1810.


Rae’s father Lord Eskgrove’s (d.1804) reputation for judicial integrity was tempered by his unwitting forensic absurdity. Rae himself was thus sketched in 1806:

Not in great practice, of useful rather than shining abilities; of a sound understanding and steady character and a moderate politician ... He obtained his office through the interference of the late Lord Rosslyn. He is a freeholder in Lanarkshire where his attachment to the present Lord Rosslyn led him early to give his support to Lord Archibald Hamilton, though strong temptations were held out to him to vote in favour of the opposite party.

In June 1819, Rae came to the rescue of the government when in the Scottish legal reshuffle caused by the death of Robert Dundas a more competent substitute was required for the lord advocate Alexander Maconochie. He obtained the latter’s seat in Parliament on this appointment, despite a contest. On 7 Dec. 1819 he made his parliamentary debut by defending the application of the seditious meetings prevention bill to Scotland, and on 9 Dec. made a lengthy exposé of objections to an inquiry into Scottish disaffection which established him in the public eye. Rae died 19 Oct. 1842.

Scottish Bar Sketches (1806).

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne