Dalrymple, John, fifth Earl of Stair 1720-1789, was eldest son of George Dalrymple of Dalmahoy, fifth son of the first earl of Stair, and a baron of the court of exchequer of Scotland, by his wife Euphame, eldest daughter of Sir Andrew Myrton of Gogar. He passed advocate of the Scottish bar in 1741, but afterwards entered the army and attained the rank of captain. He was a favourite with his uncle John, second earl of Stair, who having in 1707 obtained a new charter containing, in default of male issue, a reversionary clause in favour of any one of the male descendants of the first viscount Stair whom he should nominate, selected him to succeed him in the states and honours on the death of the second earl. He therefore, in 1745, assumed the title, and voted as Earl of Stair in 1747, but by a decision of the House of Lords in 1748 the titles were assigned to his cousin James, who became third earl of Stair, without, however, entering upon the possession of the estates. John Dalrymple succeeded to the title as fifth earl on the death of his cousin William, fourth earl of Dumfries and fourth earl of Stair, on 27 July 1768. He was chosen a representative peer in 1771, and in the House of Lords opposed the measures which led to the revolt of the American colonies. For presenting a petition on behalf of Massachussetts in 1774 he received the thanks of that province. Not having been returned at the general election of 1774, he found scope for his political proclivities in the composition of a number of pamphlets, chiefly on national finance, which, on account of the gloomy character of their predictions, earned for him, according to Walpole, the title of the Cassandra of the State. They include: 1. The State of the National Debt, Income, and Expenditure, 1776. 2. Considerations preliminary to the fixing the Supplies, the Ways and Means, and the Taxes for the year 1781, 1781. 3. Facts and their Consequences submitted to the Consideration of the Public at large, 1782. 4. An Attempt to balance the Income and Expenditure of the State, 1783. 5. An Argument to prove that it is the indispensable Duty of the Public to insist that Government do forthwith bring forward the consideration of the State of the Nation, 1783. 6. State of the Public Debts, 1783. 7. On the Proper Limits of Government's Interference with the Affairs of the East India Company, 1784. 8. Address to, and Expostulation with, the Public, 1784. 9. Comparative State of the Public Revenue for the years ending on 10 Oct. 1783 and 10 Oct. 1784, 1785. He died on 13 Oct. 1789. By his wife, a daughter of George Middleton, banker, London, he had one son John [qv.], who succeeded him as sixth earl.

     Douglas's Scottish Peerage (Wood), ii. 534
     Walpole's Royal and Noble Authors (Park), v. 166-9.

Contributor: T. F. H. [Thomas Finlayson Henderson]

Published: 1888