Sir Archibald Grant, 2nd Baronet

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A painting of six men wearing white wigs, and dressed elegantly, seated around a table covered with a green cloth. Eight men, also wearing wigs and dressed in finery, are standing behind the table. One man without a wig, dressed in a rougher style, and with a rough-looking face, stands at the front of the table, addressing the others. Another rough-looking man stands at the back. A black man wearing only a cloth around his waist kneels in front of one of the men wearing a wig. The black man is wearing an iron device around his neck. Another iron device is lying on the floor behind him.
Sir Archibald Grant (standing third from the right) commissioned this painting from William Hogarth

Sir Archibald Grant (25 September 1696–17 September 1778), 2nd Baronet in his early life was a company speculator and the Member of parliament for Aberdeenshire, 1722–1732. After his expulsion from the House of Commons for his involvement in the frauds on the Charitable Corporation, he returned to Scotland and devoted his time to improving his estate.

Background[edit]

Alexander Grant was the eldest son of Sir Francis Grant, 1st Baronet, a Lord of Session, with the judicial title of Lord Cullen. His father had sold his ancestral estate in Banffshire. He purchased that of Monymusk in 1713. This was inherited by Alexander on his father's death in 1726. Alexander passed as a Scottish advocate in 1714, and was subsequently called to the English bar at Lincoln's Inn.[1]

Charitable Corporation[edit]

In London, Archibald Grant became involved in share speculation, possibly from the collapse of the South Sea Bubble. He was elected to the Committee (Board of directors) of the Charitable Corporation in October 1725.[2] He was in debt from earlier stockjobbing to George Robinson (a stockjobber).[3] In October 1727, he joined a Partnership of Five to engage in speculation in the Company's shares. This was managed by Robinson, the other three partners being William Burroughs (another director), William Squire (an Assistant), and John Thomson (the Company's warehouse keeper).[2][4]

Mines[edit]

From his second marriage in 1727, Grant was also concerned in mines at Eyam Edge, Derbyshire and Oden in Castleton, Derbyshire, in which his father in law Charles Potts had earlier been concerned. These mines were evidently profitable in the earlier years. Later, there were disputes with managers. In 1747, Grant was trying to sell the mines and the Partington estate (of his wife). The mines were apparently not sold, but operation was clearly hindered by Grant's lack of money.[5]

Grant also bought the mines at Strontian in Scotland for a modest sum and sent Derbyshire miners there to develop them in 1729, also a relative of his wife, to manage them.[5]

His Charitable Corporation partners were told of some mines in Scotland in which he and Sir Robert Sutton another director was concerned, and proposed that the York Buildings Company should lease them, hoping the enhance the value of its stock. They then bought York Buildings shares, which rose in value. While Grant was in Scotland the other four partners made further share purchases.[3] All this was financed by borrowing money from the Charitable Corporation on false pledges. Ultimately the speculation failed. Unable to pay their debts, Robinson and Thomson absconded. The whole affair was then subject to an investigation by a committee of the House of Commons.[6] Grant was expelled from the House.

Other activities[edit]

In 1728, he and his brother-in-law Alexander Garden of Troup leased from the York Buildings Company the Southesk, Marschal, Pitcairn, and most of the Panmure estates for 29 years at £4000 per year.[7]

He was a member, in February 1729, of the parliamentary Gaols Committee, chaired by James Oglethorpe, which visited the Fleet and Marshalsea prisons to prepare a report for parliament on the conditions in which debtors were being held.[8]

Later life[edit]

After Grant's expulsion from the Commons, he returned to Scotland and devoted his time to improving his Monymusk estate. He supported rural manufactures such as linen. He introduced English agricultural methods, such as keeping land fallow; and English crops, including clover and ryegrass in connection with crop rotation. In this connection he published two pamphlets: The Farmer's New-Year's Gift (Aberdeen, 1757) and The Practical Farmer's Pocket Companion (Aberdeen, 1766). According to David Hume, planting trees was ‘the only laudable thing he has ever done’.[1]

Family[edit]

Grant married four times. By his first wife, Jean, daughter of the Revd William Meldrum of Meldrum, he had two daughters. His second wife, Anne (died before 1744), daughter of Charles Potts of Castleton in Derbyshire, was the mother of his heir Sir Archibald Grant, 3rd Baronet. The third was Elizabeth (died 1759), widow of James Callander of Jamaica. Finally, he married Jane (1707–1788), widow of Andrew Millar, the London bookseller.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c R. H. Campbell, ‘Grant, Sir Archibald, of Monymusk, second baronet (1696–1778)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [1], accessed 30 Oct 2009.
  2. ^ a b Reports of Committees of the House of Commons 1, 1716-1733 (1776), 438.
  3. ^ a b Report of Committees of the House of Commons on Charitable Corporation (1733), 22.
  4. ^ Report of Committees of the House of Commons on Charitable Corporation (1733), 8 13.
  5. ^ a b L. Willies, 'Sir Archibald Grant of Monymusk Bart.: a "Carping Maintainer" and his Derbyshire Agents', Bulletin of the Peak District Mining History Society 12(4) (1994), 23-27.
  6. ^ Reports of Committees of the House of Commons 1, 1716-1733 (1776).
  7. ^ D. Murray, York Building Company: a chapter in Scotch history (1883, repr. Kessinger Publishing, US), 47.
  8. ^ Ginger, John (ed.) and Grano, John Baptist (1998). Handel's Trumpeter: The Diary of John Grano, p. 218. This was written in 1728-1729, obtained by the Bodleian library in Oxford in 1756, and first published by Pendragon Press in 1998, with commentary by John Ginger.
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Sir Alexander Cumming, Bt
Member of Parliament for Aberdeenshire
1722–1732 (then expelled)
Succeeded by
Sir Arthur Forbes, Bt
Baronetage of Nova Scotia
Preceded by
Francis Grant (Lord Cullen)
Baronet of Monymusk
1726–1778
Succeeded by
Archibald Grant