Carnegie, James, sixth de facto and ninth de jure Earl of Southesk 1827-1905, poet and antiquary, born at Edinburgh on 16 Nov. 1827, was eldest son in a family of three sons and two daughters of Sir James Carnegie, fifth baronet of Pittarow, by his wife Charlotte, daughter of Daniel Lysons [qv.] of Hempstead Court, Gloucester. The father, who was fifth in descent from Alexander, fourth son of David Carnegie, first earl of Southesk, laid claim without success to the family earldom which had been forfeited in 1715 on the attainder of James Carnegie, fifth earl, for his share in the Jacobite rebellion of that year.
Educated at Edinburgh Academy and Sandhurst, young Carnegie obtained a commission in the Gordon highlanders in 1845, was transferred in 1846 to the grenadier guards, and retired on succeeding his father as sixth baronet in 1849. A man of cultivated taste, he practically rebuilt the family residence, Kinnaird Castle, Brechin, in 1854, and collected there with much zest antique gems, mainly intaglios (from 1879), pictures by the old masters, books, and some hundred and fifty cylinders—Assyrian, Hittite, Babylonian, Persian, and Accadian. But he disposed of much of the extensive family property elsewhere, selling his estate of Glendye to Sir Thomas Gladstone, baronet. Renewing his father's claim to the earldom of Southesk in 1855, he obtained on 2 July an Act of Parliament reversing the attainder of 1715, and was confirmed in the title by the House of Lords on 24 July. In 1869, on Gladstone's recommendation, he was made a knight of the thistle, and on 7 Dec. of the same year a peer of the United Kingdom, with the title Baron Balinhard of Farnell.
In 1859 Southesk undertook in search of health a prolonged hunting expedition in Western Canada. He traversed some of the wildest and least known parts of the Rockies about the sources of the rivers Athabasca and Saskatchewan. He returned home in 1860, and was made a fellow of the Geographical Society. After a long interval he published Saskatchewan and the Rocky Mountains (1875), a spirited account of his experiences in diary form. Meanwhile he had engaged in other forms of literature. Herminius, a romance (1862), was followed by an essay on art criticism, Britain's Art Paradise: or Notes on some of the Pictures of the Royal Academy of 1871 (1871). In 1875 he published anonymously his first poetical work, Jonas Fisher: a Poem in Brown and White, a rather crude effort at satire on current extravagances in art, poetry of the Rossetti type, and emotional religion. On its publication the book was assigned in a hostile review in the Examiner to Robert Buchanan [qv.]. Buchanan deemed this erroneous attribution one of the grounds for a successful action of libel against Peter A. Taylor, the proprietor of the Examiner. Other verse from Southesk's pen often presented scenes of adventure in vigorous and simple metre; it included Lurida Lumina (1876), Greenwood's Farewell and other Poems (1876), The Meda Maiden and other Poems (1877) (inspired by Longfellow's Hiawatha), and The Burial of Isis and other Poems (1884). Suomira, a fantasy, privately printed in 1893, was a curious experiment in metre printed as prose.
Southesk devoted his later years to recondite antiquarian research, which he pursued with thoroughness and judgment. A prominent member of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, he read before the society papers on The Newton Stone (1884) and The Ogham Inscriptions of Scotland (1885), while in 1893 he discussed The Origin of Pictish Symbolism. The papers were published separately. He was made hon. Doctor of Law of St. Andrews in 1872, and of Aberdeen University in 1875. He died at Kinnaird Castle on 21 Feb. 1905.
Southesk married (1) on 19 June 1849, Lady Catharine Hamilton (d. 1855), third daughter of Charles Noel, first earl of Gainsborough, by whom he had one son, Charles Noel, who succeeded as tenth earl of Southesk, and three daughters; (2) on 29 Nov. 1860, Lady Susan Catharine Mary Murray, daughter of Alexander Edward, sixth earl of Dunmore, by whom he had three sons and four daughters. The youngest son, David Winford (1871-1900), distinguished himself as a traveller in Australia and Nigeria.
There are at Kinnaird Castle portraits in oils by Sir John Watson-Gordon [qv.] (1861) and by Miss A. Dove Wilson (1899), and a chalk drawing (1861) by James Rannie Swinton [qv.].
The Times, 22 Feb. 1905
Athenæum, 18 March 1905, by (Sir) John Rhys
Who's Who, 1905
Paul's Scots Peerage, 1910.
Contributor: S. E. F. [S. E. Fryer]