CARNEGIE, Sir James, 3rd Bt. (1715-65), of Pittarrow, Kincardine.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1741 - 30 Apr. 1765

Family and Education

b. 1715, 1st s. of Sir John Carnegie, 2nd Bt., by Mary, da. of Sir Thomas Burnett, 3rd Bt., M.P. [S], of Leys, Aberdeen. educ. Glasgow Univ. 1730. m. 5 July 1752, Christian, da. and coh. of David Doig of Cookston, Angus, provost of Brechin, 4s. 2da. suc. fa. 1729.

Offices Held

Capt. 21 Ft. 1744, ret. 1755; ld. lt. Kincardine 1746-d.


James Carnegie, by the death in 1730 of his cousin, the attainted 5th Earl of Southesk, became heir male of the Southesk family, whose forfeited estates had been purchased by the York Buildings Company. His guardian, Andrew Fletcher (Lord Milton), Lord Ilay’s deputy in Scotland, rejecting the offer made by the dowager Countess, Margaret Stewart, daughter of the Earl of Galloway, to pay for the boy’s education under Jacobite supervision, sent him to Glasgow University, petitioning Walpole through Ilay for a pension to supplement the £20 p.a. available from the Pittarrow estate for his support.1

Carnegie wrote to Fletcher from Montrose, 3 Dec. 1737:

Tis now high time for me to think of some way of employing myself in this world ... The gown seems to be attended with such difficulties now a days, that there is small prospect of doing oneself any great service ... The army is then the next method by which men do now propose to better themselves and their fortunes and is the way already followed by Lord Panmure. Your Lordship very well knows I have no hopes of bettering the present ill state of my affairs but in a parliamentary way. This method then, of going into the army is ... a very ready [way] of recommending oneself. Besides, if I propose to follow that out, I can’t enter too soon, for though I were in Parliament I could have no reason to expect any considerable rank, except I had some rank before, as Panmure could never have got a company at first had he not been an ensign before. This is suggested to me by him, Garlies, and St. Clair whose advice I have asked upon this subject. There is just now a vacancy in Middleton’s, a regiment I would make choice of, upon account of Panmure, as well as the Colonel, besides other reasons.2

His military plan miscarried. When in 1739 Aberdeen Burghs fell vacant he at once wrote to Fletcher offering himself as candidate and appealing to him to ‘taste the heartfelt joy of restoring a sinking family’.3 Once more he was disappointed.

In 1741 Carnegie stood for Kincardineshire as a Walpole Whig, and with the support of Fletcher and his mother’s connexions, the Burnetts, was returned without ‘an opposing vote’. In Parliament, Ilay reported to Fletcher, ‘Sir James Carnegie pleases ... very much. He is a very sensible young man’. Carnegie himself, in his detailed reports to Fletcher on the debates leading to Walpole’s fall, wrote: ‘Catching fish in the river at Arnhall would have been a better trade than supporting a decayed Administration is like to be, at least for this session’.4 After Walpole’s fall he continued to support the Administration, voted for the Hanoverian troops, December 1742 and January 1744, and, while connected with Ilay through Fletcher, was on friendly terms with Tweeddale.5

Having in June 1744 obtained a captaincy in the 21st Foot, Carnegie served at Fontenoy, returning with Cumberland’s army to suppress the Forty-five rebellion. Although his brother was engaged in the Stuart cause, his own loyalty was so unquestioned that he was appointed lord lieutenant of Kincardine in April 1746.6 Absent with the army in Flanders during the session of 1747, he appealed to Newcastle in June for leave to return for the general election ‘without which’, he wrote, ‘I have good reason to fear a known Jacobite will be returned in my room’.7 In 1748 he secured from the York Buildings Company a lease of the Southesk estates of Kinnaird, to the improvement of which he devoted himself after his return from army service in Holland 1748-9.8 In March 1751 he was one of the few Members from Scotland who did not support Sir Harry Erskine’s attack on General Philip Anstruther.9

Carnegie continued to support the Government of the day till his death on 30 Apr. 1765, shortly after re-purchasing part of the forfeited Southesk estates.

Ref Volumes: 1715-1754

Author: Edith Lady Haden-Guest


  • 1. Sir W. Fraser, Hist. Carnegies of Southesk, i. 196 seq.
  • 2. Ibid. 200-1.
  • 3. Ibid. 201.
  • 4. Ibid. 201-3.
  • 5. Cf. Tweeddale to Andrew Mitchell, 29 Sept. 1744, Add. 6857, f.132.
  • 6. Add. 33049, f.189,
  • 7. Carnegie to Newcastle, 12 June 1747, Add. 32711, f.326.
  • 8. Hist. Carnegies, i. 206-7.
  • 9. Walpole, Mems. Geo. II, i. 60.