MASTERTON, James (1715-77), of Newton, Stirling.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1768 - 1774

Family and Education

b. 9 Sept. 1715, 1st surv. s. of John Masterton, Edinburgh merchant, of the Parkmill, Clackmannan family, by Katherine Eedington or Edinton. unm.

Offices Held

Lt. 1 Ft. 1742, capt. 1755; lt.-col. 1761 as dep. adjt. gen. [I]; barrackmaster for Scotland 1769.


As aide-de-camp to Cumberland during the ’45, Masterton was in a position to recommend his close friend Lawrence Dundas for army contracts. ‘His good sense first suggested the scheme by which the whole of an immense fortune was acquired. His advice if it had been followed would have saved the half of it.’1 While Dundas was making a fortune in the German war, Masterton was serving with his regiment, from which, when it was posted to Portugal, he retired in 1762, remaining in Ireland as deputy adjutant general.

Through his Edinburgh relatives, the Lawries, he helped to establish an interest which secured Dundas’s return for the capital in 1768. Dundas, in turn, brought Masterton in for Stirling Burghs and obtained for him in 1769 the appointment of barrackmaster. In Parliament he was one of Dundas’s ‘8 or 9 dead votes’, uniformly supported Administration, and apparently never spoke.

In 1774 after a violent and costly contest he was defeated by Archibald Campbell; whereupon Dundas quarrelled with him, and the petition against Campbell’s return was presented in the name not of Masterton but of Sir Alexander Gilmour.

Masterton died 7 Aug. 1777. In an anonymous broadsheet, A Letter to a Certain Baronet, published 2 Sept. 1777, the writer (probably Sir Hew Dalrymple, 2nd Bt., of North Berwick2) thus apostrophized Dundas:

God knows where Masterton is (though I hope in a very good place, as he was charitable to the poor and kind to his relations). It was a great shame to you ... to drop poor Masterton in his latter days. He was a very honest fellow who had served you so faithfully and was the best friend you ever had; but gout and opposition and their sins are apt to make greater men than you fretful and peevish.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Edith Lady Haden-Guest


  • 1. Anon. pamphlet, A Rhapsody by ‘A Freeman’ (pub. 9 Sept. 1777), p. 10.
  • 2. Statistical Account, ii. 566-8.