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Sir James Stewart Denham

Sir James Stewart (or Steuart) Denham has a memorial tablet, showing an urn above a wreath, in a window splay in the north aisle of the nave of Westminster Abbey. The Latin inscription can be translated:

Sacred to the memory of JAMES STEWART DENHAM, Bart. [Baronet], who received the honour and accolade of the learned, by reason of his outstanding natural gifts, which were perfected by a certain enquiring intelligence, and exercised felicitously, alike in the hidden paths of philosophy and the inner circle of politics. Upon him shall attend the universal devotion of mankind, and a universal sense of loss - and with perfect justice, since his every effort was directed to the general good of society. His indeed was a spirit that despised wealth, courteous and generous to all men; in moulding of his character, whatsoever there might be anywhere of refinement and elegance he harmoniously combined to such an extent that nothing further would have been possible. As citizen, husband, father, friend, he showed himself to be equitable in all life's duties, amiable to all men. His country, in company with the grieving band of his kinsfolk, will for ever mourn the loss of this man, adorned (as he was) with so many and so great virtues, as though mourning the extinction of its own peculiar glory. He died 26th Nov. 1780 in his 67th year. His son, who shares his name, caused this monument to be erected to the father who deserved so well of him, for piety's sake.

The shield of arms shows "quarterly, 1 & 4, or a fess chequey argent and azure debruised by a bend gules, cotised argent (for Denham), 2&3 gules a chevron or, cotised argent between three cranes heads erased of the last" A badge of the Order of Nova Scotia is pendant from the shield.

Sir James Steuart of Coltness and Westshield, 3rd Baronet, was born on 10th October 1713 in Edinburgh, a son of Sir James Steuart, lawyer and politician, and his wife Anne (Dalrymple). He was educated in his home city and also became a lawyer. While on the continent he met friends of the Old Pretender and became a member of the Jacobite Club. On 25th October 1743 he married Lady Frances Wemyss. Their son James (1744-1839) was in the army and rose to be General Sir James Steuart. The elder James was a supporter of Prince Charles Edward Stuart, the Young Pretender and went to the French court to arrange an invasion of England. The Jacobite army was defeated at Culloden in 1746 and James remained in exile abroad. He was arrested by the French and not released until 1763. On returning to London he was still regarded by many as a traitor and he retired to his Scottish estate. He wrote Inquiry into the Principles of Political Oeconomy in 1767 and in 1772 received a pardon. The following year he changed his name to Steuart Denham, as a condition of a bequest from a Denham relative. Further publications followed and he was buried in the family vault in Lanarkshire.

Further reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004


26th November 1780



Memorial Type


Sir James Stewart Denham
Sir James Stewart Denham memorial

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