Sir James Hunter Blair, 1st Baronet

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Sir James Hunter Blair, 1st Baronet FRSE (February 1741 – 1 July 1787) was a Scottish banker, landowner and politician.

Life[edit]

Born John Hunter, the son of an Ayr merchant, John Hunter of Mainholm and Millquarter and his wife, Anne Cunninghame.

He became a banker 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.[1] 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.

In November 1783 Blair was a founder member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.[2]

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",[1] 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.

Blair died in Harrogate in England, but he is buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh.[3]

Family[edit]

He married the rich Jane (or Jean) Blair of Dunskey in 1770 and thereafter adopted the name James Hunter Blair.

They had 14 children including Sir David Hunter Blair FRSE (1778-1857).

Family[edit]

There were 10 sons and four daughters of the marriage.[4] The sons, excluding four who died young, were:

  • John, the second baronet;
  • David, the third baronet;
  • James, Robert, Forbes and Thomas.[5]

The eldest daughter Anne (died 1854) married William Mure of Caldwell (died 1831), son of William Mure.[6][7] The others were Clementina, Jane and Jemima.[5]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Attribution

 Henderson, Thomas Finlayson (1886). "Blair, James Hunter". In Stephen, Leslie. Dictionary of National Biography 5. London: Smith, Elder & Co. p. 162. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Sir Lawrence Dundas
Member of Parliament for Edinburgh
1781–1784
Succeeded by
Sir Adam Fergusson
Baronetage of Great Britain
New title Baronet
(of Dunskey)
1786–1787
Succeeded by
John Hunter Blair