LIVINGSTON, James (c. 1688-1723)

LIVINGSTON, James (c. 1688–1723)

styled 1688-92 Ld. Livingston; suc. fa. Dec. 1692 (a minor) as 4th earl of Callendar [S]; suc. uncle 7 Aug. 1695 (a minor) as 5th earl of LINLITHGOW [S]

RP [S] 1713

First sat 17 Feb. 1713; last sat 16 July 1713

b. c.1688, o. s. of Alexander Livingston, 3rd earl of Callendar [S] (2nd s. of George Livingston, 3rd earl of Linlithgow [S]), and Anne, da. of James Graham, 2nd mq. of Montrose [S]. educ. travelled in Holland 1706.1 m. c. May 1707 (contr. 26 July–7 Sept. 1707), Margaret, da. of John Hay, 12th earl of Erroll [S], 1s. d.v.p. 1da. d. 25 Apr. 1723.

Hereditary sheriff, Stirling.

Capt. and constable, Blackness Castle Aug. 1712–c.1715.

Associated with: Callendar, Stirling.

Likenesses: oil on canvas, circle of Alexis Simon-Belle, National Trust for Scotland, Gladstone’s Land, Edinburgh; oil on canvas by unknown painter from original at Woodstock House, Oxon.2

Family influences predisposed Livingston to Jacobitism: his father and his uncle, George Livingston, 4th earl of Linlithgow [S], had both been imprisoned by the Williamite regime in 1689–90, and his mother was described by Colonel Nathaniel Hooke in 1704 as a ‘grande Jacobite, femme de grand esprit et de grand crédit’, who brought up her son, by now the 5th earl of Linlithgow, in the principles of loyalism.3 Linlithgow’s marriage in 1707 to the sister of the Jacobite Charles Hay, 13th earl of Erroll [S], reinforced this commitment. When Hooke visited Scotland soon afterwards to assess the feasibility of raising a rebellion, he reported that Linlithgow and his kinsman William Livingston, 3rd Viscount Kilsyth [S], were among those noblemen eager to take part.4

Linlithgow had not reached his majority by the time of the 1708 election of representative peers and so did not participate, but despite his youth, he seems to have taken over direction of the family interest in Stirlingshire in the general election of that year, assisting the cavalier (and also future Jacobite exile) Sir Hugh Paterson, 3rd bt, who had been recommended by Linlithgow’s ‘cousin’ James Hamilton, 4th duke of Hamilton [S] (later duke of Brandon).5 By 1710 he was qualified to vote in the peers’ election, and supported the list agreed in advance by the incoming Tory ministry with Hamilton, John Erskine, 22nd earl of Mar [S], and John Campbell, 2nd duke of Argyll [S] (earl of Greenwich).6 In an analysis of the Scottish peerage Linlithgow was described as a ‘professed Episcopalian’.7

In 1709 Linlithgow had drawn to the attention of the Whig administration what he asserted was his hereditary right to the captaincy of Blackness Castle, on the south coast of the Firth of Forth, a post which after the Union had been granted to Charles Murray, earl of Dunmore [S].8 When Dunmore died in April 1710 Linlithgow renewed his application. Although he was not immediately successful, his claim was regarded by lord treasurer Sidney Godolphin, earl of Godolphin, as sufficiently weighty to prevent the office from passing directly to Dunmore’s son, John Murray, 2nd earl of Dunmore [S].9 During the summer of 1710 the dowager countess of Dunmore reported hearing that Linlithgow ‘intends a suit against any that gets that government [Blackness], but I have not such an opinion of his right as to fear anything’.10 With the change of government in London Linlithgow drew up a petition explaining his entitlement to the captaincy and submitted it to Thomas Hay, 7th earl of Kinnoull [S], for onward transmission to the new chief minister, Robert Harley, later earl of Oxford. Kinnoull later confessed to having kept it back, taking the view that, as he later explained, there was nothing to be done in this matter until more pressing issues of Scottish business had been settled. However, others were prepared to make the case, expecting that Linlithgow might be found a place among the representative peers. As the election approached, Mar informed Harley that, contrary to Hamilton’s advice, Linlithgow was ‘fond of being elected’. When told that the queen had refused to grant Linlithgow’s claim to Blackness, Mar was convinced that this would be ‘a loss to her service’. Linlithgow had ‘positively expected’ to get the appointment ‘and if disappointed will be very angry and can do mischief, whereas otherwise he would be of use’.11

Mar continued to have hopes of Linlithgow, however, pushing his credentials to succeed Hamilton as a representative peer in the event that Hamilton should succeed in securing his right to sit in the Lords by virtue of his British title as duke of Brandon.12 In September 1711 Kinnoull was also advising Harley, now earl of Oxford and lord treasurer, to send Linlithgow a commission for Blackness Castle as soon as possible.13 Still nothing happened, to Linlithgow’s intense frustration.14 Mar advised Oxford that unless his aspirations were satisfied ‘he will think that he has no friends here, and will probably take measures and join with the other side’.15 Although the grant itself was not finally passed until November 1712, it is evident that Linlithgow accepted as conclusive a promise made him in a letter from Oxford in the preceding June, written in connection with his pretensions to the vacancy amongst the representative peers caused by the death of William Keith, 8th Earl Marischal [S]. The ministry had first considered promoting Linlithgow’s candidature before deciding instead to support James Ogilvy, 4th earl of Findlater [S]. Informed by Oxford and Mar that the queen had recommended Findlater, Linlithgow ‘cheerfully submitted’ to her pleasure and not only voted for Findlater himself but cast a proxy in his favour. The real prospect of the grant of the captaincy of Blackness was, he wrote to Oxford, sufficient ‘not only to quash all my pretensions to succeed Earl Marischal, but heartily to go into any the queen shall think more capable to serve her’.16 His ambition to enter Parliament had been based ‘on the supposition I should be acceptable, for which I thought I had some encouragement from her servants, but since it appears otherwise the same principle moved me to set up prevails with me to resign my pretensions with all cheerfulness’. ‘That which I only regret’, he added, ‘is that when I have engaged so many of my friends as without vanity I may say might have secured the representation for me, I should now be obliged to retract and use my endeavours another way.’17

When at last he received confirmation of the captaincy, Linlithgow wrote to Oxford again, professing that ‘the queen can employ nobody who will be more zealous for her service, nor will obey her commands more strictly with regard to her pleasure’.18 Almost immediately there arose another opportunity for him to join the Scottish representative peers at Westminster, when Hamilton was killed in a duel on 15 Nov. 1712. There were soon reports that Linlithgow would succeed to the vacancy, as ‘a staunch churchman’, and on 13 Jan. 1713 he was elected unanimously (as Robert Wodrow was informed, ‘by 25 voters and 22 proxies and certificates’).19 He took his seat on 17 February. It was assumed that he would be a firm supporter of the ministry, but he was also committed to advancing the interests of Scottish Episcopalians, adding his signature to a letter urging an address from the Scottish Episcopal clergy to the queen against those who had misrepresented Episcopalians, ‘both clergy and laity, as enemies to the present government’.20 Although Parliament did not meet to hear the queen’s speech for another seven weeks, Linlithgow showed his dedication by attending the House each of the four times it was prorogued in March, an indication of the assiduity with which he would apply himself to his parliamentary duties during his short tenure as a representative peer. He was present for the opening of the new session on 9 Apr. and was named to the standing committees for privileges and for the journal. During the session he was recorded as present for 95 per cent of sittings and was named to two select committees.21

Inevitably Linlithgow was drawn into the attempt by the Scottish representatives at Westminster to prevent the extension of the malt tax to Scotland. Angered by what they saw as a direct violation of the terms of the Union, Scots in both Houses gathered on the evening of 25 May 1713 to consider how to respond when the bill imposing the tax came up to the Lords, and agreed to press for a bill to dissolve the Union.22 After a second conference of lords and commoners, the peers met by themselves on 28 May. At this meeting, according to George Lockhart, Kilsyth and Linlithgow ‘declared against opposing the court’ but were overruled.23 Linlithgow may possibly have been influenced by the fact that the treasury was still considering his request to be paid the captain’s salary for Blackness from the date of the death of Lord Dunmore rather than from the date of his own patent.24 Nonetheless, he attended on 1 June to vote for the motion for leave to bring in a bill to dissolve the Union. He is not recorded as having spoken in the debate. A week later he signed a protest when the malt bill passed its third reading in the Lords. Thereafter he attended every day until the prorogation on 16 July, with two exceptions: 19 and 20 June.

Linlithgow was not re-elected in 1713. He was still pursuing unpaid arrears of salary in the following February, when Mar reminded Oxford about the plight of ‘poor Lithgow’.25 Rallying to the Jacobite cause in September 1715, and mustering 300 of his own retainers, he commanded a squadron of horse at the battle of Sheriffmuir with the rank of brigadier-general, as well as having command of the royal standard. After the defeat of the Jacobite forces he escaped to France and joined the exiled court. He was attainted on 17 Feb. 1716 and his landed property, comprising 8,000 acres, with an annual rental of about £1,300, was made forfeit. When he died in Rome on 23 Apr. 1725 the male line of the family came to an end. The forfeited estate had been purchased by the York Buildings Company, which granted a lease for 29 years in 1721 to trustees acting for Linlithgow’s daughter, Lady Anne. She subsequently married William Boyd, 4th earl of Kilmarnock [S], who joined the Jacobite army in the ’Forty-Five, was captured at Culloden, and ended his life on the scaffold.26


  • 1 Bodl. Carte 180, ff. 212–20.
  • 2 Photographic reproduction at National Galleries of Scotland, Blaikie coll. SNPG 24.57.
  • 3 Hooke Corresp. (Roxburghe Club), i. 60–61.
  • 4 HMC Mar and Kellie, i. 417; E. B. Livingston, Livingstons of Callendar, 129.
  • 5 NLS, ms 1026, ff. 24–5; NAS, GD 124/831/2; P. W. J. Riley, Eng. Ministers and Scotland, 110; HP Commons 1690–1715, ii. 89.
  • 6 NLS, ms 1026, ff. 62–63.
  • 7 Christ Church, Oxf. Wake mss, 5, ff. 13–14.
  • 8 Add. 61632, ff. 22, 38; Add. 61652, f. 179.
  • 9 Marlborough-Godolphin Corresp. iii. 1498.
  • 10 Add. 61475, ff. 19–20.
  • 11 HMC Portland, v. 33; x. 200, 329, 332, 347.
  • 12 NAS, GD124/15/1024/9; S.H.S., Misc. xii, 138.
  • 13 HMC Portland, v. 33; Add. 70241, Kinnoull to Oxford, 19 Sept. 1711.
  • 14 HMC Portland, x. 228.
  • 15 NAS, GD124/15/975/2; GD124/15/975/11; HMC Mar and Kellie, i. 266; HMC Portland, x. 272.
  • 16 HMC Portland, x. 200, 275–6, 284; NAS, GD 248/580/1/11/3; Add. 70247, Linlithgow to Oxford, 5 July 1712.
  • 17 HMC Portland, v. 211; Add. 70247, Linlithgow to Oxford, 5 July 1712.
  • 18 Add. 70247, Linlithgow to Oxford, 13 Nov. 1712.
  • 19 Bodl. Ballard 36, f. 146; Evening Post, 17–20 Jan. 1713; HMC Portland, x. 215–16, 286; NLS, Advocates’ mss, Wodrow pprs. letters Quarto 7, f. 21.
  • 20 HMC 5th Rep. 638.
  • 21 LJ, xix. 503-9, 529, 532, 541.
  • 22 Wentworth Pprs. 337.
  • 23 NLS, ms 25276, f. 65.
  • 24 HMC Portland, v. 314.
  • 25 HMC Portland, x. 308, 311.
  • 26 Livingston, Livingstons of Callendar, 130–7.