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Oughton, James Adolphus Dickenson (DNB00)


OUGHTON, Sir JAMES ADOLPHUS DICKENSON, (1720–1780), lieutenant-general, commander-in-chiel in Scotland (North Britain), born in 1720, was a natural son of Sir Adolphus Oughton, bart., of Tachbrook, Warwickshire. The elder Oughton, who was appointed a captain and lieutenant-colonel in the 1st footguards in 1706, was aide-de-camp to John Churchill, duke of Marlborough, during his retirement on the continent in 1712 (see Marlborough Desp., v. 679-80), and in 1718 was regimental lieutenant-colonel of the Coldstream guards. When the Prince of Wales (afterwards George II) was made a K.G., Adolphus Oughton acted as his proxy, for which he was created a baronet. He was long M.P. for Coventry. A brigadier-general, colonel of the 8th dragoons (now 8th hussars), and married, but with no issue by the marriage, he died 4 Sept. 1736, when the Tachbrook baronetcy became extinct. By his will he left a sum of 1,500l. to be invested for the benefit of 'my natural son James Adolphus Dickenson,' on his attaining the age of twenty-one.

On 29 Oct. 1741 the son was appointed lieutenant in St. George's (late Oughton's) dragoons (the present 8th hussars) under the names of James Adolphus Dickenson Oughton (Home Office Military Entry Book, vol. 17, i. 161). He was appointed captain in Ponsonby's regiment (37th foot) 13 May 1742 (ib. vol. 18, f. 219). He served with that regiment at Culloden and in the Flanders campaigns of 1747-8, and became lieutenant-colonel of the regiment 7 Aug. 1749. He was appointed colonel 65th foot on 20 July 1759. He was many years lieutenant-governor of Antigua. He became a major-general on 15 Aug. 1761, was transferred to the colonelcy 31st foot in 1762, and was appointed lieutenant-general on 30 April 1770. In 1768 he appears to have been commanding in Scotland, in the absence of Lord Lome, afterwards fifth Duke of Argyll (see Home Office Papers — Scottish, under date). He was soon after made K.B., and appointed commander-in-chief in North Britain, a post he held up to his death, which took place at Bath on 2 May 1780, in his sixty-first year. A memorial tablet was placed in Westminster Abbey.

In his will Oughton mentions his wife, Dame Mary Oughton; his brother-in-law, Captain John Ross; and, among many bequests, leaves to 'my son-in-law and aide-de-camp, Capt. Hans Dalrymple, the silver-plated pistols presented to my father, Sir Adolphus Oughton, by John, duke of Marlborough,'

Boswell, writing in Edinburgh in 1773, says that Oughton was a student of Erse, and a believer in the authenticity of Ossian's poems. Johnson met him at Boswell's house in August 1773, and Boswell feared a dispute might arise on the subject; but Ougnton adroitly changed the subject to Lord Monboddo's notion of men having tails, and made Johnson laugh by calling him a judge a posteriori. He had 'a very sweet temper,' and was one of the 'most universal scholars' Boswell ever knew. When Oughton's attainments were mentioned in the course of conversation at Fort George, Johnson observed: 'Sir, you will find few men in any profession who knew more. Sir Adolphus is a very extraordinary man; a man of boundless curiosity and unusual diligence,'

[Burke's Extinct Baronetage, under 'Oughton of Tachbrook;' 'Successions of Colonels' in Cannon's Historical Records of the British Army, 8th hussars and 31st foot; Oughton wills in Somerset House; memorial tablet in Westminster Abbey; Boswell's Life of Johnson, ed. George Birkbeck Hill, D.C.L., v. 45, 124, 142.]

H. M. C.