OGILVY, Hon. Donald (1788-1863), of Clova, Forfar

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



3 Oct. 1831 - 31 Jan. 1832

Family and Education

b. 27 May 1788, 3rd but 2nd surv. s. of Walter Ogilvy of Clova (d. 1819) and Jean, da. of John Ogilvy, MD, of Balfour and Murkle; bro. of Hon. William Ogilvy*. m. 8 Feb. 1815, Maria, da. and coh. of James Morley of E.I. Co. 3s. (1 d.v.p.) 4da. (3 d.v.p.). d. 30 Dec. 1863.

Offices Held

Cadet, E.I. Co., 1804; ensign 16th native inf. Bengal 1806, lt. 1808, res. 1814.1

Maj. E. Forfar militia 1809; col. Forfar and Kincardine militia 1828-57.


Ogilvy’s father, the self-styled 5th earl of Airlie, an advocate, had succeeded his insane nephew David to Cortachy Castle and family estates in Forfarshire and Perthshire in 1812 and initiated the proceedings which led to the reversal by Act of Parliament in 1826 of attainders imposed on the Jacobite 3rd earl in 1715 and Lord Ogilvy in 1745, so confirming Ogilvy’s elder brother David as 4th earl of Airlie.2 Intended with his brothers for a military career, Ogilvy entered the East India Company’s army in 1804. After failing to rise above the rank of lieutenant, he settled with his wife, the daughter of a former East India Company writer, at the Balbengo estate, near Fettercairn, and from 1820 at Clova.3 At the general election of 1830, when his family were recovering from whooping cough at his brother William’s residence, Airlie Castle, he contributed to Airlie’s bid to boost his political influence and become a representative peer by contesting Perth Burghs, where he was unexpectedly defeated by John Stuart Wortley.4 He petitioned urging the Lords to reject the provost of Dundee’s petition against its disfranchisement as a burgh, 8 Nov. 1830, and had Stuart Wortley unseated, 11 Dec. 1830, but with his own eligibility to stand at the ensuing by-election in doubt, William was substituted for him. He was defeated, but returned in March 1831 on petition, so unseating the Grey ministry’s lord advocate Francis Jeffrey.5 The Ogilvys failed to return a Member at the 1831 general election and their conduct at the Forfarshire meeting on 16 May, when Donald Ogilvy proposed a petition for ‘safe reform’ and criticized the Scottish bill’s provisions for county representation (a £10 householder vote and the enfranchisement of £50 copyholders), spawned an acrimonious public correspondence with Jeffrey and the Whig reformer Douglas Gordon Hallyburton of Pitcur, whom Ogilvy narrowly defeated at the Forfarshire by-election in October.6

Before being unseated on petition, 31 Jan. 1832, he voted against the revised English reform bill at its second reading, 17 Dec. 1831, and committal, 20 Jan., and against government on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan. 1832.7 Writing on 4 Jan. 1832 to Airlie, he denied reports that he had suggested ‘taking the sense of the county’ on reform and described his quandary over his future candidature:

I am most anxious to let my friends in Forfarshire know that under an extended constituency I would not again come forward, but I hesitate to tell them, which it would in fact be doing, that the government reform bill will be carried, as I just learn that the king is to create as many peers as these rascally ministers choose ... It would look like giving in, even before the Scotch bill was before us ... My opinion is that I have nothing to do but to let some of the party (ours) know my intentions and it is for them to judge of the candidate they would wish to succeed me.8

He started, but eventually declined the Conservative nomination for Forfarshire at the 1832 general election and did not stand for Parliament again.9 He died in Aberdeen in December 1863, predeceased by his wife and at least four of their seven children. An obituarist wrote that ‘being of a quiet and retiring disposition, his life was marked by few incidents requiring notice’.10 His second son Donald (1824-85) succeeded to Clova, which he then occupied under an ‘act of settlement’ of 28 Oct. 1856. Ogilvy’s will of that date and attendant codicils and settlements were disputed by Donald and his unmarried sister Dorothea, the major beneficiary by a revoking order and settlement of 15 Apr. 1861, before the court of session in January 1864. Administration was granted to Donald at Aberdeen sheriff’s court, 9 Mar. 1864.11

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Margaret Escott


  • 1. BL OIOC L/MIL/9/113, 258.
  • 2. Gent. Mag. (1812), i. 594; NAS GD16/34/375; Perthshire Courier, 22 June 1826; Bonnie House of Airlie ed. K. Thomasson, 27; LJ, lviii. 382.
  • 3. Gent. Mag. (1815), i. 274; NAS SC1/37/53.
  • 4. NAS GD16/34/387/7, W. Ogilvy to Airlie, 23 Apr., D. Ogilvy to same, 8 July; 16/40/52; Perthshire Courier, 22, 29 July, 26 Aug.; Stirling Advertiser, 13 Aug. 1830.
  • 5. The Times, 9 Nov., 15, 16 Dec. 1830, 13 Jan., 1 Feb., 28 Mar. 1831; Brougham mss, Hallyburton to Brougham, 25 Aug. 1830; NAS GD16/34/387/7, W. Ogilvy to Airlie, 18 Feb. 1831.
  • 6. NAS GD16/34/387/8/12-17; 40/57; 41/1093; NAS GD224/525/18/1-6; Dundee, Perth and Cupar Advertiser, 19 May, 6 Oct.; Perthshire Courier, 26 May, 2 June, 15 Sept., 6 Oct.; The Times, 28 June 1831.
  • 7. The Times, 25, 31 Jan. 1832.
  • 8. NAS GD16/34/387/8/60-61x.
  • 9. Dundee, Perth and Cupar Advertiser, 2 Aug., 27 Dec.; The Times, 13 Aug. 1832.
  • 10. Gent. Mag. (1864), i. 266.
  • 11. NAS SC1/36/54; 37/53.