YEAMAN, George (d. by 1733), of Murie, Erroll, Perth.
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Family and Education
s. of Patrick Yeaman, merchant, of Dundee, bailie of Dundee 1696–8, by Margaret Patersone. m. ?10 Dec. 1708, Isobel Piggot or Pigget, 5s. (2 d.v.p.) 1da.1
Burgess, Glasgow 1700; councillor, Dundee 1701, bailie, 1702–4, 1705–6, provost 1706–8, 1710–12.2
A representative of a long line of merchants and shipowners in Dundee, Yeaman made his fortune in exotic climes. The Jacobite agent Scot referred to him in 1706 as ‘Captain Yeaman, a wealthy merchant, lately come from the West Indies’, while at the trial of Captain Green in Edinburgh the year before, one ‘Captain Eman of Dundee’ had acted as ‘interpreter for the blacks’ on board Green’s ship. It was said that he had ‘spent 16 years on the coast of Malabar, and spoke to them in lingua franca’. Yeaman had re-established himself in Dundee by 1700 and was soon a leading participant in trade, a shipowner and the proprietor of ‘Yeaman’s shore’ along the waterside. He acquired a country seat at Murie, formerly in the possession of the Ramsays. In 1701 he followed his father into municipal politics in Dundee. Patrick had been appointed to the burgh council by order of the Scottish privy council in 1686, and continued to serve there until 1698. George was himself elected a councillor in 1701, serving the next year as hospital master and ‘boxmaster to the fraternity of seamen’, and then being advanced to the office of bailie.3
Having been frustrated in his parliamentary candidacy for Perth Burghs in 1708, although serving as Dundee’s electoral delegate, Yeaman was in the fortunate position of being able to return himself in 1710 as commissioner for the presiding burgh. He also found time to attend the county election, where he voted against Haldane once more and in favour of the Duke of Atholl’s brother, Lord James Murray*. Scot had already credited him with the achievement of single-handedly putting an end to the previous dominance over Dundee burgh council of a Presbyterian, ‘Revolution’ interest, and Yeaman was now classified by Richard Dongworth, the Duchess of Buccleuch’s chaplain, as an episcopal Tory. This was a description borne out by his behaviour in the Commons in his first session, when he not only voted against the Squadrone supporter, Mungo Graham*, in the disputed election for Kinross-shire, but was counted among a group of Scottish Tories who in election cases ‘never have spared one Whig in their vote since they came hither’. He was listed among both the ‘Tory patriots’ who opposed the continuation of the war, and the ‘worthy patriots’ who exposed the mismanagements of the previous ministry.4
Yeaman’s first concerns, however, were material rather than party-political. As was traditional in Scottish burghs, his own council moved quickly to draw up ‘instructions’ for him ‘of such things as tend to the benefit of trade’. The most pressing local grievance concerned the duties on water-borne coal. Although the council were anxious that Yeaman pursue this matter, they were unwilling to advance money for the purpose, and in all probability little would have been done had it not been for the corporation of Perth, which later paid his expenses and thanked him for his ‘care and diligence’ in the matter. He was also required by Dundee council to do all he could to obstruct a petition to Parliament by ‘the fraternity of seamen’ for a duty on local shipping to fund improvements in navigation. But the most important task entrusted to him was the promotion of a bill to regulate the manufacture of linen in Scotland, in order to encourage the only real alternative to the hard-pressed woollen industry, already suffering under the restrictions imposed by the Union. This affected not only his own burgh (which had previously depended heavily on the production of ‘grey woollens’ and was now in the process of changing its staple manufacture to linen) but also the townsmen of Perth, with whose council Yeaman was in regular correspondence. On 7 Apr. 1711 he brought in the bill, but, having reported on 5 May, he then witnessed successive postponements to the consideration of the report. The delay may have been engineered by the ‘Irish lobby’, which constituted the main opposition to the measure, although it is equally possible that Yeaman was himself responsible, since the lairds and townsmen in Perthshire whom he consulted about the details of the bill had at one point advised waiting until the next session, so that the provisions could be ‘better digested and more deliberately gone about’. Even after the bill had been engrossed and carried to the Lords, overcoming in the process a last-minute attempt on 19 May to adjourn consideration yet again, with Yeaman a teller in the majority, it still failed to reach the statute book.5
On 29 Mar. 1712 Yeaman reintroduced his linen bill, managing it through the House, and this time was able to savour success as the measure passed into law. He also reported to the Perth magistrates on proposals for the leather duty, and was thanked by Dundee corporation for obtaining a maintenance fund for the harbour. His other principal concern was to advance the interests of Scottish episcopalians. He had voted on 7 Feb. in favour of the Scottish toleration bill, and told on 7 Apr. in favour of the patronages bill. The following year he supported the magistracy of Dundee in a legal dispute with the presbytery over an episcopalian meeting-house.6
Before leaving for Edinburgh to attend the convention of royal burghs in July 1712, Yeaman waited on Lord Treasurer Oxford (Robert Harley*) to ‘offer his services’ in the Scottish customs or excise. In an attempt to emphasize his potential usefulness to the ministry he then reported to Oxford the convention’s debates on the question of apportioning land tax obligations between the various burghs, promising to study the subject closely on Oxford’s behalf. The following month he sent up a loyal address from the burgh of Forfar, which George Lockhart* presented, thanking the Queen for putting an end to ‘this long, bloody and expensive war’ and for her favours to Scottish episcopalians, who ‘have always been faithful unto the Church as well as unto the monarchy (whose real interests cannot be separated)’.7
Although the regulation of the linen industry had been improved by the 1712 Act, Yeaman secured the insertion of an explanatory clause concerning the size of ‘quarter-pieces’ into the bill introduced in the next session to encourage the tobacco trade. His tellership on 29 Apr. 1713 in favour of a clause to be added to the land tax bill ‘for a rule whereby to tax the royal burghs of Scotland’ stemmed directly from his attendance at the convention’s debates the year before (see GLASGOW BURGHS). He joined the Scottish rebellion against the Court after the imposition of the malt tax, and voted against the French commerce bill on 4 and 18 June, being wrongly described as a Whig in a list of the latter division.8
Yeaman was re-elected in 1713. His stigmatization as a ‘Jacobite’ in Lord Polwarth’s analysis meant nothing more specific than that he was a Tory, as the Worsley list classified him. He continued, however, to support the episcopalian and Jacobite interest in Perthshire elections. One modern historian has classed him as a probable Jacobite, notwithstanding his failure in the previous Parliament to follow the supposed Jacobite line over the French commercial treaty and more importantly his vote on 12 May 1714 in favour of extending the terms of the schism bill to include Catholic education. His tellership on 29 Apr. over the disputed election for Anstruther Easter Burghs marks him as no more than a Tory, and no particular significance attaches to his other tellership on 2 July against an amendment to the soap duty bill. In March the convention of burghs requested his assistance in promoting their memorial over the French commercial treaty, but in the following November his request for admission to its proceedings as the second ‘assessor’ appointed by Dundee was refused on the grounds that only Edinburgh was entitled to such dual representation.9
Yeaman retired from Parliament after the Hanoverian succession. He was not a candidate for the district in 1715, and played no further significant part in the affairs of Dundee, either during the Fifteen, when the town’s magistrates engaged themselves heartily in the Pretender’s cause, or later, when Whiggish interests regained control. He continued to vote in the county, however, and in 1727 supported the Atholl nominee John Drummond† against John Haldane’s son Mungo†. Yeaman was dead by 10 Feb. 1733, when his son James was served as heir.10
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: D. W. Hayton
- 1. Dundee City Archs. Dundee burgh recs. reg. deeds in burgh ct. vol. xii, 1708–11 [no. 459], f. 52; council bk. vol. 6, 1669–1707 (unfol.); SRO Indexes, xxviii. 403; IGI, Perth.
- 2. Scot. Rec. Soc. lvi. 245; Dundee burgh recs. council bk. vol. 6; A. H. Millar, Burgesses of Dundee, 313.
- 3. J. Thomson, Hist. Dundee (1874), 264, 414; G. S. Youmans, Yeamans-Yeomans-Youmans, 88–93; Scot. Rec. Soc. xiii. 145–6; C. Rogers, Monuments and MIs in Scotland, ii. 215; APS, vi(2), pp. 852, 882; Orig. Pprs. ed. Mac