Sir Gilbert Elliot, 3rd Baronet
Early life and education
He was the son of Sir Gilbert Elliot, the 2nd Baronet of Minto, and Helen Steuart. One of nine children, Elliot was educated at Dalkeith grammar school and from 1735 at Edinburgh University. A period of study at the University of Utrecht (1743) was followed by a tour of the Netherlands and the German states during 1744–5. Elliot was "a distinguished classical scholar" who claimed in a letter to another intimate companion, David Hume, to have "read over almost all the classics, both Greek and Latin". Elliot's friendship with Hume had begun while both were students at Edinburgh University. He was trained for the Scottish Bar, and passed Advocate on December 10, 1743. On the death of his father on 16 April 1766 he inherited the Baronetcy.
My sheep I neglected; I broke my sheep-hook
Other works by Elliot include Twas at the hour of dark midnight, describing the death of Colonel James Gardiner (1686–1745) during the Battle of Prestonpans, published in the third volume of 'The Scots Musical Museum' and Thoughts occasioned by the funeral of the earl and countess of Sutherland in Holyrood House which appeared anonymously in the Scots Magazine for October 1766.
In March 1748 Elliot was appointed as Roxburghshire's first sheriff-depute, one of the judges introduced in Scotland by legislation passed in the wake of the Jacobite rising of 1745. Elliot served in the House of Commons as Member of Parliament for Selkirkshire (1753–1765), and then Roxburghshire (1765–1777), and was a supporter of the policies of King George III in the American colonies. His Papers concerning the Boston Tea Party are in Harvard University Library. At one time he was a candidate for the Speaker's Chair in the House of Commons. He was made a Lord of the Admiralty in 1756, a position he held until his resignation in support of William Pitt in April 1757, and to which he was reinstated in June with Pitt's return to office
In 1752, supported by Edinburgh's Lord Provost George Drummond, he authored a pamphlet entitled Proposals for carrying on certain Public Works in the City of Edinburgh. The advocated improvements were fully implemented by the Town Council and shaped the physical character of the city, as still seen to this day.
Elliot was Treasurer of the Chamber in the Royal Household from 1762 to 1770. He was appointed Treasurer of the Navy in 1770 in Lord North's government, and after was appointed Keeper of the Signet in Scotland in 1767. Elliot was a friend and follower of the Earl of Bute. Horace Walpole said Elliot was "one of the ablest members of the House of Commons". As a politician Elliot was best remembered for performances such as that during the militia debate in 1760 which, again according to Walpole, placed him in an élite group of mid- to late-century parliamentarians who displayed "the various powers of eloquence, art, reasoning, satire, learning, persuasion, wit, business, spirit and plain common sense".
Elliot died in Marseille, where he had gone to recover his health.
He married Agnes Dalrymple-Murray-Kynynmound on December 14, 1746 and with whom he had 8 children. Their oldest son was Gilbert Elliot-Murray-Kynynmound, 1st Earl of Minto.
- T. Somerville, My own life and times, 1741–1814 (1861)
- J. H. Burton, Life and correspondence of David Hume, 2 vols. (1846)
- The Charmer; a Choice Collection of Songs, English and Scots (1749)
- Chambers's Cyclopædia of English Literature: A History, Critical and Biographical, of British and American Authors, with Specimens of Their Writings By Robert Chambers, Robert Carruthers Published by American Book Exchange, 1830
- Collins's Peerage of England - Genealogical, Biographical, and Historical. By Arthur Collins Published by Printed for F. C. and J. Rivington, 1812
- The Scottish Nation: Or The Surnames, Families, Literature, Honours, and Biographical History of the People of Scotland By William Anderson Published by Fullarton, 1862
- Youngson, A J (1988). The Making of Classical Edinburgh. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. pp. 5–6. ISBN 0 85224 576 9.
- Encyclopaedia Britannica 1911
- H. Walpole, Memoirs of King George II, ed. J. Brooke, 3 vols.
- Elliot's Papers at Harvard University Library
- Elliot on Peerage.com
- Elliot in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
- Works by or about Sir Gilbert Elliot, 3rd Baronet in libraries (WorldCat catalog)