BLACKWOOD, Sir James Stevenson, 3rd Bt., 2nd Baron Dufferin and Claneboye [I] (1755-1836), of Ballyleidy House, co. Down.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



29 July 1807 - 1812
1812 - 1818

Family and Education

b. 8 July 1755, 1st surv. s. of Sir John Blackwood, 2nd Bt., MP [I], by Dorcas, da. and h. of James Stevenson, MP [I], of Killyleagh. m. 15 Nov. 1801, Anne Dorothea, da. of John Foster*, afterwards 1st Baron Oriel, s.p. suc. fa. as 3rd Bt. 27 Feb. 1799; mother as 2nd Baron Dufferin and Claneboye [I] 8 Feb. 1807.

Offices Held

MP [I] 1788-1800; rep. peer [I] 1820-d.

Lt. 13 Drag. 1778; capt. 8 Drag. 1781, ret. 1787; lt.-col. commdt. 33 Drag. 1794-6, lt.-col. 1796-1802; a.d.c. to Earl of Kilmorey 1798; capt. Loyal Ballyleidy, Killyleagh and Killinchy inf. 1798; col. R. North Down militia 1800; militia a.d.c. to William IV 1830-d.

Sheriff, co. Down 1804, gov. 1805-31; trustee, linen board [I] 1805.


Unlike his father Blackwood supported the Union, but declined the peerage offered to him, which was then conferred upon his mother. He received £15,000 as compensation for the disfranchisement of Killyleagh and remained an important influence in local politics. Castlereagh wrote in 1802 ‘I wish to cultivate Blackwood’s friendship as very material to me in the county of Down’; but was satisfied that he would not offend him if he did not press then for promotion in the peerage for his mother. What Blackwood did wish, as he reminded the chief secretary, 25 Jan. 1804, was for promotion for his brother in the Church.1

In 1807 he succeeded his mother to the barony of Dufferin and applied through the Irish government for a seat in Parliament. At first Westbury was earmarked for him, on the anticipated resignation of Glynn Wynn, but when that did not materialize, he was found another on the Duke of Leeds’s interest.2 He was inconspicuous at Westminster, his chief wish being to obtain favours for his family.3 On 30 Dec. 1808 he reminded the chief secretary that he had the year before requested the viceroy to promote his brother in the Church and sought assurances beyond a ‘civil answer’.4

He rallied to Perceval’s ministry on the address and the Scheldt inquiry, 23, 26 Jan. 1810, and, after a visit to Ireland, returned to do so again on 5 and 30 Mar. The Whigs listed him ‘against the Opposition’. At this time he was ‘very loud’ in complaint about nothing having been done for his brother. He also wished for a seat at ‘one of the boards’ for another brother and, to crown it all, a representative peerage, though he was warned that the first two requests were more than could be reasonably expected. He voted against the discharge of the radical Gale Jones, 16 Apr., and against sinecure reform, 17 May 1810. In January 1811 he applied to be constable of Dublin Castle. The viceroy, who thought he rated himself ‘too high’, complained:

Lord Dufferin wanted his brother a bankrupt to have a situation. He wants another brother a wine merchant to have another situation and a clergyman to keep his living ... and have a valuable deanery. All this for one silent vote.5

Leave of absence prevented him voting with Perceval’s Irish friends on the Regency question, 1 Jan. 1811.6 On 3 Feb. Richard Ryder was Dufferin’s advocate with the viceroy, but took merit for discouraging his application for a representative peerage, later endorsed by the viceroy: ‘Not to be satisfied; do what you please for him’. Dufferin set out for Ireland that day, promising to return when summoned by ministers, ‘but his presence in Ireland was he says indispensable and we may be able to spare him better now than some time hence’. On 3 May Ryder reported: ‘He wrote to me some time ago, professing his strong wish to give us support and at the same time his anxiety to remain in Ireland. I have answered him yesterday by saying that however desirable it always was to have a numerous attendance I saw no appearances which warranted me at present to urge him to take so long a journey.’7

On 24 Feb. 1812, the day he voted in a ministerial minority, Dufferin secured an assurance from the Irish secretary that his brother would probably be made secretary to the accounts board in Ireland and ‘was quiet about his other brother’ on learning ‘that his claims would certainly be taken into consideration at a future period’.8 He paired with ministers for the orders in council, 3 Mar., and voted against sinecure reform, 4 May. On 21 May he was in the minority against a more efficient administration. He voted against Catholic relief on Canning’s motion, 22 June.

Dufferin was again secured a seat through the agency of the Irish government in the election of 1812, but he had to pay 6,000 guineas to be a guest of Charles Fox Champion Crespigny at Aldeburgh. He survived a contest in absentia and the English Treasury proposed to ‘make a purse’ to relieve him of part of his expense.9 He appeared on their list of supporters. On 16 Mar. 1813 he obtained three weeks’ leave after serving on the Grampound committee. To the chief secretary’s ‘great surprise’, he voted for Catholic claims on 11 and 13 May, as also on the 24th; and he was still discontented. Peel reported, 20 May, that Dufferin had been with him ‘several times’ about the non-fulfilment of the promise of promotion for his brother in the Church and claimed that the recent appointment of his brother Hans as a commissioner of audit was the only favour he had received since 1807.10 In January 1815 Dufferin sought credit for his readiness to put up his brother Sir Henry as a ministerialist candidate in the by-election at Downpatrick, a venture that fell through. He thereupon applied unsuccessfully for an anticipated vacancy in the seat for Athlone for Sir Henry.11 He voted with ministers on the civil list 8 May 1815, on the army estimates 8 Mar. and on the property tax 18 Mar. 1816, interrupting three weeks’ leave for bereavement to do so. He remained a supporter of Catholic relief in the divisions of 1815 and 1817. Otherwise he expressed approval of Peel’s Irish policy.12 He voted for the suspension of habeas corpus, 23 June 1817, and rallied to ministers on the ducal marriage grant, 15 Apr. 1818, pairing with them for the Irish window tax, 21 Apr.

Dufferin’s pretensions to a representative peerage were backed by Castlereagh in 1816, but the Irish government resisted them. Peel wrote to the viceroy: ‘Pray try to prevent Lord Dufferin from being forced upon us. He is the youngest peer, a baron of the Union.’13 He had to wait until 1820 for the honour, having retired from the Commons in 1818. Even then he was dissatisfied at seeing his clerical brother ‘for forty years ... in the same parish’.14

Dufferin died 8 Aug. 1836. As a landlord he had ‘a reputation of much intelligence and liberality, building schools, encouraging manufactures, and when necessary providing employment for the poor at his own expense’.15

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Authors: Winifred Stokes / R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Castlereagh Corresp. ii. 113; iii. 20, 334; A. Lyall, Life of the Mq. of Dufferin and Ava, 3, 5; Add. 35708, f. 55; Wickham mss 5/44.
  • 2. Wellington mss, Long to Wellesley, 11 May [1807].
  • 3. A. P. W. Malcomson, John Foster, 219-20.
  • 4. Wellington mss.
  • 5. NLI, Richmond mss 63/556, 586; 73/1700, 1715.
  • 6. Grey mss, Taylor to Grey, 19 Dec. 1810; CJ, lxvi. 22.
  • 7. Richmond mss 62/508; 63/554, 586.
  • 8. Ibid. 67/994.
  • 9. Add. 40221, f. 391; 40222, f. 1; 40280, f. 45.
  • 10. Add. 40283, ff. 50, 93.
  • 11. Add. 40242, f. 167; 40243, f. 231; 40244, f. 7; 40288, f. 43.
  • 12. Add. 40267, f. 36.
  • 13. Add. 40291, f. 91.
  • 14. Sidmouth mss, Dufferin to Sidmouth, 9 Jan. 1822.
  • 15. Gent. Mag. (1836), ii. 425.