LAURIE, Sir Robert, 5th Bt. (c.1738-1804), of Maxwelton, Dumfries.
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Family and Education
b. c.1738, o.s. of Sir Robert Laurie, 4th Bt.†, by Christian, da. of Charles Erskine, ld. justice clerk (Lord Tinwald). m. (1) 18 July 1763, Elizabeth Maria (div. 2 Feb. 1774), da. of James, 5th Lord Ruthven [S], 1s. 1da.; (2) 25 Apr. 1778, Judith, da. of Capt. Hatley, wid. of Robert Wollaston of Ipswich, Suff., s.p. suc. fa. as 5th Bt. 28 Apr. 1779.
Capt. 71 Ft. 1762, half-pay 1763; capt. 7 Drag. 1765, maj. 1771; lt.-col. 16 Drag. 1779, col. 1782, maj.-gen. 1793; col. 28 Drag. 1795-9, lt.-gen. (Southern district) 1798; col. 8 Drag. 1799-d.; gen. 1803.
Jt. surveyor-gen. of window and house tax [S] 1779-89; knight marischal [S] 1785-d.
Laurie had been brought into Parliament on the interest of the Duke of Queensberry. Since 1784 he had voted with Pitt on every major issue except the Regency question, on which he followed the course adopted by his patron. It cost him his place. In 1790 he was opposed by John Johnstone† of Alva and, rather than allow the county to fall into such hands, Henry Dundas overlooked Laurie’s past conduct, supported him and persuaded the Duke of Buccleuch to do likewise.1
A soldier by profession, Laurie had a sound but unspectacular career. He gave a silent support to Pitt’s ministry from 1790, though the Whigs, at first doubtful of him, subsequently alleged he would have voted for the exemption of Scotland from the Test Act if present, 10 May 1791; on 24 Nov. 1795 he was again a defaulter. He was re-elected unopposed in 1796. His only surviving vote in this period was in the majority for the assessed taxes bill, 4 Jan. 1798. He supported Addington’s ministry on its formation and was re-elected in 1802. A list drawn up after the election included Laurie in a section entitled: ‘The following I consider to be certainly supporters of the present government, but if a question was to arise the plain purport of which was who shall be the minister of this country, they would decidedly vote Mr Pitt against every person whatever’.2 Laurie’s only known speech in this period was on 2 Dec. 1802, censuring Addington for not answering questions on Malta and Switzerland. On 7 Mar. 1803 he took three weeks’ sick leave, extended for a month on 28 Mar. Pitt’s calculators took no notice of him in the following year, probably because of the long illness from which he died, 10 Sept. 1804.