Sir William Rae, 3rd Baronet

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The Rae family grave, Inveresk

Sir William Rae, 3rd Baronet (14 April 1769 – 19 October 1842),[1] was a Scottish politician and lawyer.


He was born at Old Assembly Close off the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, son of Margaret Stewart, youngest daughter of John Stewart of Blairhall and David Rae, Lord Eskgrove.[2] He was educated at the High School in Edinburgh and studied law at the University of Edinburgh from 1785, qualifying as an advocate in 1791.

His first major role was as Sheriff of Orkney and Shetland in 1801, but in 1809 he transferred to an equivalent post as Sheriff of Edinburgh, which he held until 1819.[3] He succeeded his father to the baronetcy in 1815.

He was Member of Parliament for Anstruther Burghs, in Fife, from 1819 to 1826, Harwich, Essex, England, from 1827 to 1830, Buteshire in 1830 and from 1833 to 1842, and for Portarlington, Queen's County, Ireland, from 1831 to 1832.

He served as Lord Advocate from 1819 to 1830 and from 1834 to 1835. In the aftermath of the Peterloo Massacre, he reported to the Home Secretary, Viscount Sidmouth, on radical unrest in Scotland.[4] He was made a Privy Councillor on 19 July 1830.[1]

Grant's Old and New Edinburgh tells us that he was present at the Great Edinburgh Fire of 1824, actively trying to extinguish the flames of the building on the Royal Mile at the head of Old Assembly Close as it was "the house of his birth".[5]

He died aged 73 at St Catherines, near Mortonhall in south Edinburgh on 18 October 1842.[3]

He is buried with his father and mother on the south-west corner of St Michael's church in Inveresk. The stone is modest.


In 1793 he married Mary Stuart.


  • Lee, Sidney, ed. (1896). "Rae, William (1769-1842)" . Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. 47. London: Smith, Elder & Co.


  1. ^ a b "Privy Councillors". Leigh Rayment's Peerage pages. Archived from the original on 7 June 2008. Retrieved 9 April 2008.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  2. ^ Edinburgh Post Office Directory 1773
  3. ^ a b Biographical Index of Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783–2002 (PDF). The Royal Society of Edinburgh. July 2006. ISBN 0-902-198-84-X.
  4. ^ Craig, Maggie (2020), One Week in April: The Scottish Radical Rising of 1820, Birlinn, pp. 70–79, ISBN 9781780276328
  5. ^ Grants Old and New Edinburgh

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Member for Anstruther Burghs
Succeeded by
Preceded by Member for Harwich
With: John Charles Herries
Succeeded by
alternating constituency (with Caithness)
Title last held by
Lord Patrick Crichton-Stuart to 1826
Member for Buteshire
alternating constituency
Title next held by
Charles Stuart from 1832
Preceded by Member for Portarlington
Succeeded by
Preceded by Member for Buteshire
Succeeded by
Legal offices
Preceded by Lord Advocate
Succeeded by
Preceded by Lord Advocate
Succeeded by
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
David Rae
(of Esk Grove)