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Lindsay, Alexander (1752-1825) (DNB00)


LINDSAY, ALEXANDER, sixth Earl of Balcarres (1752–1825), eldest son of James, fifth earl of Balcarres, by Anne Dalrymple, youngest daughter of Sir Robert Dalrymple of Castletown, was born on 18 Jan. 1752. His father, the son of Colin Lindsay, third earl [q. v.], commanded a troop of gentlemen on the side of the Pretender at Sheriffmuir, but receiving pardon from the government on the ground of his youth, obtained a commission in the army. Although he specially distinguished himself at the battle of Dettingen on 10 June 1743, George II refused him promotion, on the ground that he had previously ‘drawn his sword in the Stuart cause.’ He thereupon quitted the army, and in his retirement, besides devoting much attention to the science of agriculture, compiled a family history, which was largely made use of by Douglas for his ‘Scottish Peerage,’ and by Lord Lindsay for his ‘Lives of the Lindsays.’ The son, at the age of fifteen, entered the army as ensign in the fifteenth foot then stationed at Gibraltar. After succeeding to the peerage on the death of his father on 20 Feb. 1768, he went to Germany, where he studied for two years at the university of Göttingen. In 1771 he was appointed by purchase captain in the 42nd highlanders, and in 1775 major of the 53rd foot, then under orders to sail for Canada on the outbreak of the American war. In the following year he obtained the command of a battalion of light infantry. At the battle of Ticonderoga on 7 July 1777, though thirteen bullets passed through his clothing, he had the good fortune to receive only a slight wound in the left thigh. At the head of his battalion he stormed the heights of Huberton. On 7 Oct. following, while the position of the army was most critical and dangerous, he, by the death of General Frazer, became brigadier-general. He had strongly fortified his own battalion, in view of possible eventualities, and receiving within his entrenchments the other routed battalions, he was able to frustrate the attack of the American army under General Arnold. On account, however, of the convention made by Burgoyne at Saratoga on 13 Oct., he was compelled to surrender, and did not obtain his liberty till 1779.

While a prisoner in America he had been appointed lieutenant-colonel of the 24th regiment, and in February 1782 he was raised to the rank of colonel, and made lieutenant-colonel, commanding the second battalion of the 71st foot. In 1784 he was chosen representative peer for Scotland, and the same year made a forcible speech in supporting the bill for the restoration of forfeited estates, which passed on 18 Aug. He was chosen a representative peer at succeeding elections up till his death. On 27 Aug. 1789 he was made colonel of the 63rd foot, retaining the command till his death, and in 1793 he was gazetted major-general. On the outbreak of the war in the latter year he was appointed to the command of the forces in Jersey, and in the following year became governor of Jamaica. There he manifested great energy as well as tact in the suppression in 1795 of a rebellion of the Maroons, and the House of Assembly acknowledged his exceptional services by subscribing seven hundred guineas to present him with a sword. He remained in Jamaica through a period of great difficulty till 1801. In 1798 he was made lieutenant-general, and in 1803 was raised to the full rank of general. After his return to England he resided chiefly at Haigh Hall, near Wigan, Lancashire, the inheritance of his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Charles Dalrymple of North Berwick. On being introduced by George III to the American general Arnold, he is said to have exclaimed ‘What, the traitor Arnold?’ A duel resulted. After Arnold fired Balcarres walked away. ‘Why don't you fire, my lord?’ exclaimed Arnold. ‘Sir,’ replied Balcarres over his shoulder, ‘I leave you to the executioner.’ He died at Haigh Hall on 27 May 1825. On the death of George, twenty-second earl of Crawford, in 1808, he became de jure twenty-third Earl of Crawford, but did not claim the title, which by decision of the House of Lords was adjudicated to his son, the seventh Earl of Balcarres, on 11 Aug. 1848.

He had four sons—James, twenty-fourth earl of Crawford; Charles Robert, collector of taxes at Agra, India; and Richard and Edwin who died young—and two daughters: Elizabeth Keith, married to R. E. Heathcote, esq., of Longton Hall, Staffordshire; and Anne, to Robert W. Ramsey of Balgarvie, Fifeshire.

The sixth earl completed the ‘Memoirs of the Lindsays’ begun by his father, Earl James. He also left in manuscript ‘Anecdotes of a Soldier's Life.’ A selection from his correspondence during the Maroon war is published in the appendix to Lord Lindsay's ‘Lives of the Lindsays.’

[Douglas's Scottish Peerage (Wood), i. 174–175; Burke's Peerage; Lord Lindsay's Lives of the Lindsays.]

T. F. H.