MALCOLM, Sir John, 1st Bt. (1646-1729), of Lochore, Ballingry, Fife.
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Family and Education
b. 1646, 1st s. of John Malcolm (d. 1692) of Balbedie, Ballingry, chamberlain of Fife 1641–82, ?1687–9, by Margaret, da. of Sir Michael Arnot of Arnot, Portmoak, Kinross. m. bef. 4 Aug. 1680, Emilia (d. 1732), da. of John, 3rd Ld. Balfour of Burleigh [S], 2s. cr. Bt. 25 July 1665; suc. yr. bro. Alexander, Ld. Lochore SCJ, at Lochore 1692.1
Burgess, Edinburgh 1663.2
Malcolm was given a flying start in life. He was not even of age when he received his share of the extensive property his father had accumulated in Fife (and which was apportioned between John Malcolm’s four sons), in his case a house and estate at Inverteil. At about the same time he was invested by Charles II as a baronet. Yet for a long time afterwards he was overshadowed by his younger brother Alexander, an advocate whose compliance with King James’s policy of toleration for Catholics took him to a seat in the court of session in 1687 and a year later to a brief tenure of high office as lord justice clerk. The Revolution not only derailed Alexander’s career, depriving him of office and, for a while, of his liberty; it brought down other members of a family whose collective behaviour had already been made notorious by a lack of self-control: one brother went with Dundee, and after arrest turned evidence against fellow Jacobites; a second, implicated many years earlier alongside Alexander in a case of rape, was also imprisoned by the Williamite administration for refusing the oaths. Their father, who had never found oaths easy to take, himself entertained such serious scruples about pledging his allegiance to the new regime that he was replaced in the chamberlainry of Fife, despite possessing a life patent. In this context Malcolm himself stands out as a quiet survivor, retaining local office from his original appointment in 1680 as a commissioner for excise in Kinross and Perthshire through the vicissitudes of the following two reigns. On Alexander’s death in 1692 he acquired a second share in the paternal inheritance, namely the estate surrounding Lochore Castle, where he built ‘a fine new house with gardens and enclosures’.3
The only evidence of Malcolm’s political views prior to his parliamentary career is a report by the Presbyterian minister Robert Wodrow that he had been ‘in the fleet with the Pretender when he came over’ (presumably a reference to the invasion attempt of 1708). At the 1710 election Malcolm appeared as an agent for Sir Alexander Areskine, 2nd Bt.*, in Fifeshire, and as a candidate himself in neighbouring Kinross. He was obliged both to qualify himself for election and to manufacture votes for supporters. A small property in the shire gave him a toehold, though he was hard put to prove that this reached the statutory minimum valuation. His four other voters (including his son, Robert) were on even shakier ground, but the opposing candidate, Mungo Graham*, was little better off. The dubious practices of the sheriff, John Bruce*, led to Malcolm’s defeat at the poll, but the overwhelming Tory majority in the new House guaranteed a favourable hearing to his petition. With advice and assistance from Areskine and Lord Grange SCJ (Hon. James Erskine†), Malcolm was able to mobilize enough support to carry his point at the bar of the House in February 1711.4
In a wholly unremarkable career as a back-bencher, Malcolm’s name appears only in two voting lists, and then as an absentee. For the division on the Scottish toleration bill on 7 Feb. 1712 he was noted as ‘in Scotland’, and in the next session he was absent for both votes on the French commerce bill (4 and 18 June), but no indication of his whereabouts was given. He had earlier been characterized as an episcopal Tory in the analysis of the Scottish election returns made by the Duchess of Buccleuch’s chaplain, Richard Dongworth, and his enlistment in the October Club bears out this assessment. His main concern seems to have been the pursuit of his hereditary claim to the chamberlainry of Fife. He had raised the matter at the Queen’s accession, when a new grant had been drawn up in favour of the 1st Viscount Rosebery. Anxious that his own rights should not be brooked, he had protested against the assumption that his father’s refusal to take the oaths had voided the grant of the office; it had, he said, merely prevented the execution of its duties by the rightful patentee. With his father dead, the dignity and salary of £80 p.a. should pass to him. Neither the ministry nor the court of session, where he took out a process, agreed with him, but in 1712 he put his case again, this time to Lord Treasurer Oxford (Robert Harley*), who during the parliamentary session made one of his customary promises to ‘do something’. In June of that year Lord Mar added his weight to the pressure, pointing out that Malcolm’s request could be subsumed in the settlement of Rosebery’s own demands: Rosebery had agreed that if he himself were to be given an additional salary, he would annually make an ex gratia payment to Malcolm equivalent to the income from the chamberlainry. It seems unlikely that Oxford acceded to this proposal.5
Kinross-shire did not return a Member at the next election, and Malcolm did not seek an alternative seat. He did not put up in 1715 either, preferring to give his family’s assistance in that county to the future Jacobite, Hon. James Murray*, though without success. So far as is known he showed his usual caution during the Fifteen, making no move to assist the Pretender in the field, though his brother James, of Grange, an inveterate Jacobite, was actively involved. Malcolm died at Lochore Castle on 30 Mar. 1729.6
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: D. W. Hayton
- 1. Lauder of Fountainhall, Hist. Notices (Bannatyne Club, lxxxvii), 839; Scot. Rec. Soc. lxxvi. 144.
- 2. Scot. Rec. Soc. lix. 336.
- 3. R. Sibbald, Hist. Sheriffdoms of Fife and Kinross (1710), 125, 145–6, 152; Brunton and Haig, Senators Coll. Justice, 429; Scot. Rec. Soc. lxxvi. 144; Reg. PC Scotland, 1678–80, p. 563; 1689, pp. 35, 84; 1690, pp. 232, 425, 723; Scot. Hist. Soc. ser. 3, xlvi. 42, 44, 47, 61; HMC 12th Rep. VIII, 5, 46; Scot. Hist. Soc. Misc. vi. 182; HMC Portland, x. 452–4; APS, viii. 468; ix. 73, 144.
- 4. Wodrow, Analecta, i. 320–1; HMC Portland, 270–1; SRO, Mar and Kellie mss GD124/ 15/1011/2, Areskine to Grange, 5 Dec. 1710; SRO, Montrose mss GD220/5/808/18a–b, Graham to Montrose, 13 Feb. 1711.
- 5. Parlty Hist. i. 69; SHR, lx. 65; Boyer, Pol. State, iii. 120; HMC Portland, 270–1, 452–4.
- 6. SRO, Kennedy of Dalquharran mss GD27/3/24/5, Mungo Graham to Cornelius Kennedy, 1 Mar. 1715; W. Wood, East Neuk of Fife, 185; HMC Stuart, i. 450, 453, 456, 458; Boyer, xxxvii. 421.