LINDSAY, John (1671-1714)

LINDSAY, John (1671–1714)

styled 1678-98 Ld. Lindsay; suc. fa. 6 Mar. 1698 as 19th earl of CRAWFORD [S]

RP [S] 13 Feb. 1707, 1708

First sat 23 Oct. 1707; last sat 1 Aug. 1710

bap. 27 Dec. 1671, 1st s. of William Lindsay, 18th earl of Crawford [S], and 1st w. Mary, da. of James Johnston, earl of Annandale [S]. m. bef. 1702, Emilia (d. 18 Feb. 1711), da. and coh. of Hon. James Stewart, styled Ld. Doune [S] (1st s. d.v.p. of Alexander Stewart, 5th earl of Moray [S]), and wid. of Alexander Fraser of Strichen, Aberdeen, 2s. 2da. d. 4 Jan. 1714; admon. 28 June 1714 to John Price, gent., of Tiptree House, Essex.1

PC [S] 1698-1708.2

Col. regt. of ft. 1694–7, 2nd tp. of horse, Gren. Gds. 1704-d.; lt. col. Scots tp., Life Gds. 1698–1704; brig.-gen. 1703; maj.-gen. 1707; lt.-gen. 1710.

Associated with: Struthers Castle, Ceres, Fife.

The heir to an ancient title Crawford was well connected with the ‘Revolutioners’ in Scottish politics, but was not by nature assertive—except in the matter of his right of precedence as the premier earl of Scotland.3 His family’s finances were never sufficiently robust to enable him to stand independent of office. His father earl, was a staunch Presbyterian noted for ‘fervour and warmth of zeal’.4 He had enjoyed a brief eminence in the early years of William III’s reign, serving as president of the council and a treasury commissioner in the king’s first Scottish administration, before slipping into the political background and devoting himself to his garden.5 Evidently the family’s indebtedness was not entirely relieved by his receipt of a pension of £300 on the Scottish civil list, paid out of the revenues of the bishopric of St Andrews, for in 1698 his testament was confirmed in the local commissariat court as ‘to a creditor’.6

His heir John was thus still obliged to make his career in the army. While still a young man, and styled Lord Lindsay, he had been given a foot regiment through the intercession of William Hamilton, 3rd duke of Hamilton [S], which he commanded in William III’s campaigns in Flanders.7 His regiment was disbanded in October 1697, but the following February he was made a lieutenant-colonel in the Scots troop of Life Guards commanded by Archibald Campbell, duke of Argyll [S]. After his father’s death in March 1698 the new earl of Crawford inherited the civil list pension, was named to the Scottish Privy Council and took his seat in the Scottish parliament the following July. 8 As a soldier Lindsay enjoyed the approval and favour of John Churchill, duke of Marlborough, and rose steadily in rank during the War of Spanish Succession, to brigadier-general in 1703, and eventually to lieutenant-general in 1710.9 He also secured the command of a troop in the Grenadier Guards in 1704, though this promotion may have owed as much to his political connections in Scotland.

In the 1703 session of the Scottish Parliament he followed his uncle, William Johnston, marquess of Annandale [S], into opposition.10 The following year he was still running with Annandale, alongside members of the ‘New Party’ (later known as the Squadrone Volante) with whom his father had once been associated.11 Although he supported the Treaty of Union he seems to have found the Union Parliament in Edinburgh a somewhat unnerving experience. In December 1706 he fought a duel with John Campbell, 2nd duke of Argyll [S], occasioned by a drunken quarrel.12 The following month, having voted with the court in the division on the first article of the bill, he was one of several peers who requested permission to take back their votes when it was resolved that the details of the vote be included in the formal record of proceedings.13 Although he generally voted with the court party, John Erskine, 22nd earl of Mar [S], noted several occasions in which Crawford broke ranks, either abstaining or voting on the other side, always when Presbyterian interests were at stake.14

One contemporary summed up Crawford as ‘a good natured man … [with] … little or no estate’.15 He displayed his insecurity by pestering Mar to ensure that he received his due from the Equivalent.16 Character and circumstances disposed him to seek to maintain a wide circle of political friends, and this paid off when he was chosen as one of the 16 Scottish representative peers to sit in the first Parliament of Great Britain on 13 Feb. 1707. His election was a surprise to everybody, and was an accidental consequence of a disagreement between the court party and the Squadrone. In an attempt to secure the election of John Leslie, 9th earl of Rothes [S], the Squadrone gave their votes to Crawford in the hope of thereby eliminating either William Kerr, 2nd marquess of Lothian [S], or Archibald Primrose, earl of Rosebery [S], both court nominees. This devious strategy however went awry. As Mar explained to a correspondent, the block votes of the Squadrone for Crawford, combined with ‘others voting for him by chance, who did not dream of his carrying it’ resulted in his being elected ahead of Rothes. The Squadrone were outraged but had only themselves to blame, while the court interest briefly considered finding a way to exclude Crawford from the Scottish delegation to Westminster. 17 In the 1707 analysis of Patrick Hume, earl of Marchmont [S] he was described as ‘for the Revolution by principle, but fortune low’.

Crawford first took his seat in the Lords on 23 Oct. 1707 and then was again present on 6 Nov. when the queen made her first speech to the new Parliament of Great Britain. He was present at 43 per cent of the sitting days of this session and was named to ten select committees. On 29 Jan. 1708 he was present when the Lords gave a first reading to the bill promoted by the Squadrone to abolish the Scottish Privy Council. Although Crawford had been elected by the votes of the Squadrone, he did not support them on this matter. In committee of the whole on 5 Feb. he voted with the minority to amend the bill by delaying the abolition of the council until 1 Oct. 1708.18 Two days later Crawford was among the 12 Scots (among 25 members of the House) who protested against the passage of the bill. He had been present every day during the proceedings of the bill, but thereafter his attendance reverted to an erratic pattern, and he did not attend at all after 11 March. 

In April 1708 Crawford was recommended by Marlborough for promotion from brigadier to major-general.19 In addition he obtained the continuation of the pension that had been granted to his father, and an ex gratia payment of £500 from the English treasury.20 His behaviour during the 1707-8 session had suggested that he should be counted among members of the court party, but the peers’ election in June 1708 once again revealed a fluidity in his political loyalties. Originally intended for the court slate, he deserted at the last minute, three days before the election of 17 June 1708, and instead was named in the list put forward by James Hamilton, 4th duke of Hamiltion [S], and the Squadrone in their alliance with the Whig Junto. He cast all his own votes for their anti-court ticket, and in turn received votes from Hamilton’s and the Squadrone’s supporters.21 According to Mar, Crawford ‘jockeyed himself in, for he knew if he were in their list … he would have more scattered votes from our people then he would have from theirs if he had been of our number.’22 To another correspondent, Mar commented wryly, ‘Newmarket breeding serves for some things.’23 Yet at the same time he and other court managers were confident that, as Mar put it to Sir David Nairne, Crawford would ‘still be with us in business as formerly, for as he says himself their principles and measures do not agree with him’.24 James Ogilvy, earl of Seafield (later 4th earl of Findlater [S]), was also confident that both Crawford and George Hamilton, earl of Orkney [S], would vote with the government, despite having both been elected on the Squadrone ticket. 25

Among the Squadrone lords it was noted that Crawford was one of the more quiescent of the Scots peers, because of his ‘present circumstances of dependence’.26 As things developed this worked in their favour, for the shifting balance of power within the ministry kept him close to those who had been responsible for his re-election. His attendance dropped to just 25 per cent in the first, 1708-9, session of the new Parliament. On 21 Jan. 1709 he sided with the Whigs and the Squadrone in voting that James Douglas, 2nd duke of Queensberry [S], did not have a right to vote in the election of Scottish representative peers after having been given the British dukedom of Dover. He was more fortunate than Lothian, when, following the many petitions and complaints from the Squadrone, the House recalculated the number of votes cast in the recent election of representative peers. Although Crawford’s total number of votes was reduced he was able to retain his seat, unlike Lothian.27 Crawford was also in attendance on 11 Mar. when the House considered the bill to extend to Scotland the English treason law, but skipped the other debates on the bill (apart from one sitting on 25 Mar.). At the third reading on 28 Mar. he signed two protests, against the rejection of a rider requiring that those accused of treason should be given a copy of the indictment in advance of their trial, and against the eventual passage of the bill. His last attendance this session was on 11 Apr., which meant that he missed the consideration of Commons’ amendments to the bill.

At the time of the 1709-10 session, a contemporary commentator considered Crawford a Whig, and this was borne out by his increased attendance, 53 per cent of the sitting days in this session, especially during the trial of Henry Sacheverell in February and March 1710. With members of the Squadrone he voted on 20 Mar. that Sacheverell was guilty, and the very next day that he should also be denied preferment.28 He was present for the last time at the prorogation on 1 Aug. 1710. Having solicited support in September for the forthcoming election of representative peers, he joined the Squadrone in boycotting the election and consequently did not regain his seat.29 He also seems to have lost his pension of £300 p.a. under the new Tory administration, and to have been disappointed of further military promotion. Although at first he was allowed £1.10s. a day from the contingencies fund as compensation, this too was discontinued after December 1710.30 He did not sit in the House again and died in London on 4 Jan. 1714. Dying intestate, his estate was put under the administration of a John Price of Essex, probably a creditor, by decree. His son and heir John Lindsay, who became 20th earl of Crawford, was a minor, but later sat as a representative peers of Scotland from 1732 to 1749.


  • 1 TNA, PROB 6/90, f. 77.
  • 2 CSP Dom. 1698, p. 405; CSP Dom. 1702–3, p. 571.
  • 3 Defoe, Hist. Union (1709), Abstract, p. 4; Petition for John Earl of Crawfurd, against the Earl of Sutherland (1706).
  • 4 P.W.J. Riley, K. Wm. and Scot. Politicians, 41.
  • 5 Album of Scottish Fams. 1694–6 ed. H. and K. Kelsall, 71.
  • 6 CSP Dom. 1698, p. 119; Douglas, Scots Peerage, iii. 38.
  • 7 NAS, GD 406/1/7457.
  • 8 Seafield Corresp. 228; CSP Dom. 1698, p. 150; CTB, xxii. 115.
  • 9 Add. 61291, ff. 38, 40; Add. 61296, ff. 129-30, 131-2.
  • 10 Crossrig Diary, 36.
  • 11 HMC Portland, iv. 114; Lockhart Mems, 78.
  • 12 HMC Portland, iv. 371.
  • 13 P.W.J. Riley, Union, 330; C.A. Whatley, Scots and Union, 10.
  • 14 HMC Mar and Kellie, i. 318, 366; Riley, Union, 330.
  • 15 Bodl. Carte 180, ff. 212–20.
  • 16 NAS, GD 124/15/583.
  • 17 HMC Mar and Kellie, i. 375–6; NAS, GD 124/15/487/31.
  • 18 NAS, GD 124/15/754/6.
  • 19 Add. 61389, ff. 77–78.
  • 20 CTB, xxii. 115, 116.
  • 21 NLS, ms 1026, ff. 23, 28–35, 39.
  • 22 HMC Mar and Kellie, i. 452–3.
  • 23 NAS, GD 124/15/808/1.
  • 24 HMC Mar and Kellie, i. 449, 452–3; Edinburgh UL, Laing mss. La.I.180.4b.
  • 25 HMC Laing, ii. 147.
  • 26 NAS, GD 158/1174/1–3.
  • 27 NLS, ms 1026, ff. 39-40, 61.
  • 28 G. Holmes, Trial of Sacheverell, 284, 286.
  • 29 NLS, Crawford and Balcarres mss, 9769/75/1/17; NLS, ms 1026, ff. 65-67.
  • 30 HMC Portland, x. 463.