Open main menu


LESLIE, JOHN, ninth Earl of Rothes (1698?–1767), born about 1698, was the eldest son of John, eighth earl [q. v.] Making choice of a military career, he had command of a troop of dragoons as early as 1715, was promoted to the command of a company of foot-guards two years later; and in 1719 was commissioned as lieutenant-colonel of the 21st regiment of foot. He succeeded as Earl of Rothes on the death of his father in May 1722, and retained his father's post as governor of the castle of Stirling. In the following year he was chosen as a representative peer for Scotland, and was re-elected in 1727, 1747, 1754, and 1761. Under the Heritable Jurisdictions Act he in 1747 disposed of the hereditary sheriffdom of Fife, which had long been held by the Rothes family, to the government, receiving in compensation the sum of 6,268l. 16s., though he claimed 10,000l. In June 1744 he was appointed to the office of chamberlain of Fife and Strathearn (Fraser, Memorials of the Family of Wemyss of Wemyss, i. 372).

Continuing in the army, he, on 25 May 1732, was appointed to the command of the 25th regiment of foot; was promoted to the rank of major-general 26 Feb. 1743, and acted in this rank at the battle of Dettingen. He received a commission as colonel of the 2nd troop of grenadier horse-guards on 25 April 1745, and took part in the battle of Rocoux in October of the following year, gallantly heading the charge of the first line of cavalry. In 1750 (16 Jan.) he was appointed colonel of the 2nd regiment of dragoons, and in April following took command of the 3rd regiment of foot-guards. During his later years he was attached to the Irish military staff, on which in the last-mentioned year he held the rank of lieutenant-general. On 3 March 1753 he was created a knight of the order of the Thistle, and became a full general in 1765. He rose to be commander-in-chief of the forces in Ireland, was governor of Duncannon Fort, and a member of the Irish privy council (Home Office Papers, 1760–5 pp. 88, 134, 1766–9 p. 203). He died on 10 Dec. 1767 (Linsay, Retours) at Leslie House, which during his time was destroyed by fire and rebuilt.

Leslie was twice married: first, on 25 May 1741, at London, to Hannah, second daughter and coheiress of Matthew Howard of Thorpe, Norfolk, who died at Dublin on 26 April 1761; and secondly, on 27 June 1763, at Tynninghame to Mary Lloyd, daughter of Mary, countess of Haddington, by a previous marriage. He left issue, by his first marriage only, two sons and two daughters, of whom the eldest son succeeded him as tenth earl. The Countess of Rothes remarried Bennet Langton [q. v.], the friend of Dr. Johnson.

[Douglas's Peerage of Scotland (Wood), ii. 434.]

H. P.