HUNTER BLAIR, James (c.1780-1822), of Dunskey, Wigtown

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press

Constituency

Dates

2 Aug. 1816 - 24 June 1822

Family and Education

b. c.1780, 3rd s. of Sir James Hunter Blair†, 1st bt., of Dunskey and Jane, da. and h. of John Blair of Dunskey. unm. suc. fa. to maternal estate of Dunskey and Robertland 1787. d. 24 June 1822.

Offices Held

Capt. Ayr militia 1802, maj. 1807, lt.-col. 1807; capt. Galloway rangers 1811.

Biography

Hunter Blair stood again for Wigtownshire in 1820 with the backing of the Liverpool ministry and came in without opposition.1 He was named to the select committees on Scottish burgh reform, 4 May 1820, 16 Feb. 1821. He voted against economies in revenue collection, 4 July, and had something to say on the Desfourneaux compensation, 15 July 1820.2 He voted in defence of ministers’ conduct towards Queen Caroline, 6 Feb., and for Catholic relief, 28 Feb. 1821. On 27 Feb. he secured a return of information on the colonial corn trade since 1791.3 He was appointed to the select committees on agricultural distress, 7 Mar. 1821, 18 Feb. 1822. He voted against government for repeal of the additional malt duty, 21 Mar., 3 Apr., and was named to the select committee on the subject, 13 Apr. 1821. He voted against parliamentary reform, 9, 10 May, but for criminal law reform, 4 June. He sided with ministers on the duke of Clarence’s grant, 18 June, and economy, 27 June. He obtained information on Scottish distillation and coastal trade, 28 June 1821.4 He voted against more extensive tax reductions to relieve distress, 11 Feb. 1822, and on 27 Feb., when presenting a constituency petition on the subject, gave his opinion that ‘no immediate relief could be afforded to the agricultural interest, whose present distressed state he attributed to the superabundant produce of the two or three last years’.5 Yet it is possible that it was he rather than James Blair who voted for admiralty reductions, 1 Mar., and abolition of one of the joint-postmasterships, 2 May. On 7 May he stated that agricultural distress in Scotland was widespread and unlikely to be ameliorated by the ‘hopeful projects’ proposed by government,6 and he voted for repeal of the salt duties, 3 June. He moved for and was appointed to a select committee on Scottish turnpikes, 20 Mar., secured information on the consumption of spirits, 18 May, and presented Wigtown petitions for the removal of restrictions on their export from Scotland, 24 May.7 It is not clear whether it was he or Blair who voted in the minority for the export of bonded corn as flour, 10 June 1822.

His friend John Vans Agnew reported to Lord Seaforth, 12 July 1822:

On ... Friday the 14th of June ... [Hunter Blair] was attacked with headache. On the Sunday he became delirious, and on Monday the 24th, having continued with little intermission in that state, he died [in London at Gordon’s Hotel, Albermarle Street]. On inspecting the brain ossification was discovered, that being probably the physical tendency upon which the family complaint is dependent.8

He was not much older than 40. ‘In private life’, it was said, ‘he was beloved by men of all parties’.9 The Dunskey property passed to his younger brother Forbes, and eventually to the head of the family, Sir David Hunter Blair (1778-1857).10

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: David R. Fisher

Notes

  • 1. NAS GD51/1/198/14/19.
  • 2. The Times, 17 July 1820.
  • 3. Ibid. 28 Feb. 1821.