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CRANSTOUN, JAMES, eighth Lord Cranstoun (1755–1796), naval officer, baptised at Crailing, Roxburghshire, 26 June 1755, entered the royal navy. He received a lieutenant's commission on 19 Oct. 1776. In command of the Belliqueux frigate of 64 guns he took part in the action fought by Sir Samuel Hood with the Comte de Grasse in Basseterre road off St. Christopher's on 25 and 26 Jan. 1782, and was promoted to a captaincy on the 31st. He commanded Rodney's flagship, the Formidable, in the celebrated action of 12 April 1782, which resulted in the total destruction of the French West India squadron. He was mentioned by Rodney in the despatches and honoured with the carriage of them to England. He commanded the Bellerophon, one of Vice-admiral Cornwallis's squadron of five ships of the line, which on 17 June 1795, off Point Penmarch on the west coast of Brittany, repulsed an attack by a French squadron consisting of thirteen ships of the line, fourteen frigates, two brigs, and a cutter, for which on 10 Nov. the vice-admiral and his subordinates received the thanks of parliament. Cranstoun's ‘activity and zeal’ were commended by the vice-admiral in his despatch. In 1796 he was appointed governor of Grenada and vice-admiral of the island, but died before entering upon his new duties on 22 Sept. at Bishop's Waltham, Hampshire, in the forty-second year of his age. His death was caused by drinking cider which had been kept in a vessel lined with lead. He was buried in the garrison church at Portsmouth. Cranstoun married, on 19 Aug. 1792, Elizabeth, youngest daughter of Lieutenant-colonel Lewis Charles Montolieu; she died at Bath on 27 Aug. 1797, aged 26, of a decline occasioned by her bereavement.

[Douglas's Peerage of Scotland, i. 369; Gent. Mag. 1782 p. 254, 1792 p. 960, 1796 pp. 798, 877, 1797 p. 803; Ann. Reg. 1796, pp. 80–1; Commons' Journals, li. 50.]

J. M. R.