CARNEGIE, Sir James, 3rd Bt. (1715-65), of Pittarrow, Kincardine.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1741 - 30 Apr. 1765

Family and Education

b. 1715, 1st s. of Sir John Carnegie, 2nd Bt., by Mary, da. of Sir Thomas Burnett, 3rd Bt., of Leys, Aberdeen. educ. Glasgow Univ. 1730. m. 5 July 1752, Christian, da. and coh. of David Doig of Cookston, Angus, 4s. 2da. suc. fa. 3 Apr. 1729.

Offices Held

Capt. 21 Ft. 1744; ret. 1755.

Ld. lt. Kincardine 1746- d.


James Carnegie by the death in 1730 of his cousin, the attainted 5th Earl of Southesk, became heir male of the Southesk family, whose forfeited estates had been purchased by the York Buildings Company.

Directed in his political conduct by one ambition, the restoration of the Southesk title and estates, he consistently supported every Administration. He served at Fontenoy and returned with Cumberland’s army to suppress the ’45 rebellion. Although his brother was engaged in the Stuart cause, Carnegie’s loyalty was so unquestioned that he was appointed lord lieutenant of Kincardine in April 1746. In 1748 he secured from the York Buildings Company a lease of the Southesk estates of Kinnaird, to the improvement of which he devoted himself after his return from army service in 1749.

In Pelham’s election lists of 1754, Carnegie was classed as ‘pro’, ‘supported by the Jacobite interest’, and opposed by ‘another Whig’; but when Argyll and Lord Milton secured for him Government support, his opponent Sir Alexander Ramsay Irvine withdrew and Carnegie was re-elected.1 After leaving the army in 1755, Carnegie seemed wary of identifying himself with any particular political group. He was absent from the division of 2 May 1757 on the Minorca inquiry, and during the negotiations of 1757 Newcastle listed him among the Scots attached neither to Argyll nor himself, who were ‘not to be relied on at present but to be treated with’.2 Though not a leader in the Scottish militia agitation, he was nominated a member of the parliamentary committee to prepare the bill. Returned unopposed in 1761, Carnegie supported the Bute Administration on the peace preliminaries, 9 and 10 Dec. 1762, sending to Milton a full account of the debates in both Lords and Commons. ‘This great, and I daresay unexpected, majority has given liberty to his Majesty, power to his minister and peace to his people—I hope even domestic peace ... The Sons of Cakes have been steady.’3

In 1763 Carnegie achieved his goal. A bill introduced by Lord Panmure’s friend Alexander Forrester passed both Houses empowering the court of session to sell those parts of the forfeited estates of Panmure, Southesk and Earl Marischal which had been leased by the York Buildings Company to Sir Archibald Grant and Alexander Garden of Troup. The auction took place in Edinburgh on 20 Feb. 1764, and Carnegie and Panmure, both Government supporters, were thus absent from the division on general warrants on 18 Feb. The Scots Magazine described the scene in the crowded Parliament House:

The Earl Marischal, the Earl of Panmure and Sir James Carnegie of Pitarrow, heir male of the family of Southesk, were there in person, attended by some of their friends; and each purchased what had formerly belonged to his family at the upset price, nobody offering against them. The people in the galleries could scarce forbear expressing their joy by acclamations.

To meet the purchase price of £36,870, Carnegie sold certain of his lands, and exchanged others for Panmure holdings, to form a compact estate.4 But before negotiations were complete, he died of an apoplexy at Stamford, 30 Apr. 1765, while on his way home to Scotland after the parliamentary session.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Edith Lady Haden-Guest


  • 1. See Pelham mss. for Pelham’s lists of 21 Mar. 1754 amended by Argyll; Add. 32995, f. 190 et seq., State of Elections in Scotland, 5 Apr. 1754.
  • 2. Add. 32995, f. 383, undated.
  • 3. Sir W. Fraser, Carnegies of Southesk, i. 208-9.
  • 4. For details, see Carnegies of Southesk, i. 210 et seq.