Sir James Hunter Blair, 1st Baronet
Sir James Hunter Blair, 1st Baronet FRSE (February 1741 – 1 July 1787) was a Scottish banker, landowner and politician.
In 1756 he was apprenticed to Messrs Coutts, bankers in Edinburgh and in 1763 became a partner in the banking company of Sir William Forbes, and acquired the estate of Robertland. After his marrying Jean Blair, the daughter and heiress of John Blair of Dunskey in Wigtownshire in 1770, the family name became Hunter Blair when she inherited her father's estate in 1777.
Hunter Blair was Member of Parliament for Edinburgh from 1780 to 1784 and Lord Provost of Edinburgh from 1784 to 1786. As Lord Provost, he carried through various reforms, including the beginning of work on rebuilding the University and the construction of South Bridge, over the Cowgate. The foundation stone of this bridge was laid by Lord Haddo, as Grand Master Mason of Scotland in 1785, after Parliament had passed an Act giving permission for the plans to be executed. This connection gives rise to the names Hunter Square and Blair Street immediately west of South Bridge. By negotiation his Edinburgh seat as MP was passed to Sir Adam Fergusson, 3rd Baronet of Kilkerran, in the election of August 1784.
Blair was knighted and created a baronet the following year, in 1786.
Hunter Blair cordially received Robert Burns when the poet first arrived in Edinburgh. On his death, Burns drafted an elegy, beginning: "he lamp of day, with ill-presaging glare", which extols rather laboriously Blair's public virtues. Burns called it "just mediocre", but Ferguson describes it as "the disastrous Elegy on the Death of Sir James Hunter Blair".
Hunter Blair was an enthusiastic Freemason. Hunter Square and Blair Street in Edinburgh are both named after him.
Due to his standing in Edinburgh at the time of the creation of South Bridge in the 1780s, both Blair Street and Hunter Square, at the north end of the bridge are named after him.
He married the rich Jane (or Jean) Blair of Dunskey in 1770 and thereafter adopted the name James Hunter Blair.
There were 10 sons and four daughters of the marriage. The sons, excluding four who died young, were:
- John, the second baronet;
- David, the third baronet;
- Thomas, later Major-General Thomas Hunter Blair (1782–1849)
- Robert, Forbes and James.
- Monuments and monumental inscriptions in Scotland: The Caledonian Society of Scotland
- Henderson 1886.
- "Hunter Blair, James (1741–87), of Dunskey, Wigtown, History of Parliament Online". Retrieved 16 April 2015.
- William White (1862). Notes & Queries. Oxford University Press. p. 414.
- Charles Rogers (1871). Monuments and monumental inscriptions in Scotland. p. 38.
- John Burke (1837). A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry; Or, Commoners of Great Britain and Ireland Etc. - London, Henry Colburn 1837–1838. Henry Colburn. p. 457.
|Parliament of Great Britain|
Sir Lawrence Dundas
|Member of Parliament for Edinburgh
Sir Adam Fergusson
|Baronetage of Great Britain|
John Hunter Blair