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Dalrymple, Hew (1652-1737) (DNB00)

DALRYMPLE, Sir HEW (1652–1737), lord president of session, was the third son of James Dalrymple, first viscount Stair [q. v.], by his wife Margaret, eldest daughter of James Ross of Balniel, Wigtownshire. He was admitted a member of the Faculty of Advocates on 23 Feb. 1677, and on the resignation of his elder brother, Sir James, was appointed one of the commissaries of Edinburgh. Sir John Lauder relates that on 12 Feb. 1684, ‘at privy counsell, Mr. Hew Dalrymple and Mr. Æneas Macferson, advocats, ware conveined for challenging one another to a combat: the occasion was Mr. Hew, as one of the comisars of Edinburgh, was receaving some witnesses for the Earle of Monteith against his ladie, in the divorce, and repelling some objections Mr. Æneas was making against them, wheiron followed some heat, with some approbrious words, calling the comisar partiall. Some thought one sitting in judgment might have sent any reviling him to prison; but he challenged Mr. Æneas to a combat; and the counsell fand him as guilty in accepting it, and ordained him to crave the comisar's pardon, and confyned them both some tyme’ (Hist. Notices of Scottish Affairs, 1848, ii. 496). In August 1690, Dalrymple was elected to the Scotch parliament for the burgh of New Galloway in Kirkcudbrightshire, and from November 1690 to April 1691 he acted as ‘substitute for their majesties' advocate,’ his brother the Master of Stair. On 11 Jan. 1695 he was chosen dean of the Faculty of Advocates in the place of Sir James Stewart, the lord advocate. In the summer of the same year, when the discussion on the report of the Glencoe commission took place, Dalrymple was called up to the bar of the house and censured for writing and circulating among the members a paper in defence of his brother, the secretary for state, entitled ‘Information for the Master of Stair.’ Being ordered to ask his grace and parliament pardon, he did so, ‘declaring that what was offensive in that paper had happened through mistake,’ and the matter was soon afterwards stopped. On 29 April 1698 he was created a baronet of Nova Scotia, with remainder to his heirs male, and on 17 March in the same year he was nominated by William III lord president of the court of session, an office which had remained vacant since the death of Lord Stair in 1695. It appears that a commission had already been made out appointing Sir William Hamilton of Whitelaw to the post, but that it had been revoked at the last moment. At the meeting of the lords of session held on 29 March for the purpose of taking the king's letter into consideration, they ‘determined to delay the admission till June, the ordinar time of session, that then it may be the more solemn, and that they would acquaint his majesty that the nomination was very acceptable to them.’ The court on 1 June, after considerable discussion as to the mode of Dalrymple's admission, determined, in accordance with the act of 1674 for trying the lords of session, that he should first of all sit for three days in the outer house. Having undergone this probation he was duly sworn, and took his seat on the bench as president of the court of session on 7 June 1698. In October 1702 he was returned to the last Scotch parliament for North Berwick burgh. Dalrymple was a strenuous supporter of the union with England, and was appointed one of the commissioners to manage the articles of union in 1702 and in 1706. In 1713, being much annoyed by the Lord-chancellor Seafield frequently presiding in his court, and claiming to subscribe the decisions, he absented himself from the sessions in order to form a party against the chancellor. In 1726 he went up to London. Robert Wodrow says: ‘We hear the president of the session has now got his answer from the king. He has been at London and the Bath since August, and was endeavouring to get leave to resigne, and to have a pension equall to his sallary during life; and his son, Mr. Hugh, a lord of session. These terms appeared high, and his finall answer was that the king was so well pleased with his services as president, that he could not want him at the head of that society. This, as the English speak, [is] a being kicked up stairs’ (Analecta, 1843, iii. 364).

Dalrymple therefore retained his office until his death, which occurred on 1 Feb. 1737, in the eighty-fifth year of his age. Lord Woodhouselee was of opinion that ‘the president, if he inherited not the distinguished talents of his father, the Viscount of Stair, and his elder brother, the secretary, was free from that turbulent ambition and crafty policy which marked the characters of both; and with sufficient knowledge of the laws was a man of unimpeached integrity, and of great private worth and amiable manners’ (Memoirs of Lord Kames, 1814, i. 42–3). While Macky, who was Dalrymple's contemporary, records that ‘he is believed to be one of the best presidents that ever was in that chair, and one of the compleatest lawyers in Scotland; a very eloquent orator, smooth and slow in expression, with a clear understanding, but grave in his manner’ (Macky, Memoirs, 1733, p. 211). Dalrymple married, on 12 March 1682, Marion, daughter of Sir Robert Hamilton of Presmennan, afterwards one of the ordinary lords of session, by whom he had seven sons and five daughters. By his second wife, Elizabeth, daughter of John Hamilton of Olivestob, and widow of John Hamilton of Bangour, he had two daughters. His second wife survived him some years, and died at Edinburgh on 21 March 1742, aged 67. The baronetcy, which is still extant, descended upon his death to his grandson, Hew, the eldest son of Sir Robert Dalrymple of Castleton (who died before his father on 21 Aug. 1734), by his first wife, Johanna Hamilton, only child of John, Master of Bargeny. The first baronet's second son, Hew Dalrymple, was born on 30 Nov. 1690, and was admitted a member of the Faculty of Advocates on 18 Nov. 1710. He was appointed a lord of session in the place of Robert Dundas of Arniston, and took his seat on the bench as Lord Drummore on 29 Dec. 1726. On 13 June 1745 he was further appointed a lord justiciary, and died at Drummore, Haddingtonshire, on 18 June 1755, in the sixty-fifth year of his age. The ‘Decisions of the Court of Session from mdcxcviii to mdccviii, collected by the Right Honourable Sir Hew Dalrymple of North Berwick, President of that Court,’ were not published until 1758.

[Brunton and Haig's Senators of the College of Justice (1832), pp. 465–8, 500–1; Omond's Lord Advocates of Scotland (1883), i. 241, 260, 261, 335, 336, 355; Anderson's Scottish Nation (1863), ii. 5–6; Douglas's Peerage of Scotland (1813), i. 197, ii. 523–5; Burke's Peerage, &c. (1886), pp. 371, 1264; Foster's Peerage, &c. (1880), peerage p. 600, baronetage pp. 158–9; Gent. Mag. 1737, vii. 124; Official Return of Lists of Members of Parliament, pt. ii. pp. 595, 600; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

G. F. R. B.