HUNTER BLAIR, James (c.1780-1822), of Dunskey, Wigtown.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



2 Aug. 1816 - 24 June 1822

Family and Education

b. c.1780, 3rd s. of Sir James Hunter Blair, 1st Bt., of Dunskey by Jane, da. and h. of John Blair of Dunskey. unm. suc. to mat. estate of Dunskey and Robertland 1787.

Offices Held

Capt. Ayr militia 1802, maj. 1807, lt.-col. 1807; capt. Galloway rangers 1811.


Hunter Blair contested Wigtownshire, where he had inherited his mother’s family estate, in 1812, on the independent interest hostile to Lord Galloway’s. He was defeated then, but came in unopposed on the unexpected retirement of Galloway’s brother William Stewart in 1816, with the concurrence of Galloway and Lord Melville. While his obituary described him as ‘a staunch advocate for the constitution in church and state’, his conduct in Parliament, where he was silent in debate, was not without independence. On 19 Feb. 1817 he voted with the minority for a committee on the Bank and on 25 Apr. against the salt duties; though on 17 and 25 Feb. he had joined the majority against the attack on the offices and salaries of the Admiralty. He voted for Catholic relief, 9 May, but on 23 June 1817 in favour of the suspension of habeas corpus and on 10 Feb. and 5 Mar. 1818 in defence of the Scottish law officers and of government employment of informers. On 15 Apr. 1818 he supported the majority against the additional grant to the Duke of Clarence and on 14 May voted with the minority for Mackintosh’s motion for a committee on the prevention of bank-note forgeries. It was presumably he rather than James Blair who was in the minorities in favour of adding Brougham’s name to the committee on the Bank and of reducing the Admiralty board, 8 Feb. and 18 Mar. 1819, but both of them voted against Tierney’s censure of government on 18 May, and Hunter Blair with ministers on the complaint against Wyndham Quin*, 29 Mar., and for the foreign enlistment bill, 10 June 1819. He received government support for his election in 1820.

Hunter Blair was returned unopposed in 1818 and 1820. He was thought ‘most assiduous’ in his parliamentary attendance and ‘particularly zealous in promoting in the House of Commons the interest of Scotland’. He died 24 June 1822, ‘an accomplished classical scholar’, who also ‘spoke with fluency the French, Italian and German languages, and had attained considerable proficiency in the fine arts’.

Gent. Mag. (1822), ii. 89; SRO GD51/1/198/14/19.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne