Alexander Lindsay, 6th Earl of Balcarres

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Alexander Lindsay

Alexander Lindsay, 6th Earl of Balcarres and de jure 23rd Earl of Crawford (18 January 1752 – 27 March 1825) was the son of James Lindsay, 5th Earl of Balcarres. He was a general in the British Army.

Early life

He entered the army at the age of fifteen as an ensign, in the 53rd Regiment of Foot. After attending Eton College, he studied at the University of Göttingen for two years, and subsequently purchased a captaincy in the 42nd Highland Regiment in 1771. In 1777, he was appointed a major of the 53rd, and he commanded the light infantry companies at the Battle of Saratoga (1777), and surrendered there with Burgoyne. He was released from captivity in 1779.

Around this time he founded the famous Haigh Ironworks with his partners, his brother Robert and James Corbett.


On 1 June 1780, he married his first cousin, Elizabeth Bradshaigh Dalrymple, who had inherited Haigh Hall, in Haigh near Wigan,[1] Lancashire. They had five children:

Promoted lieutenant-colonel of the 42nd during his imprisonment, he was subsequently promoted to the rank of colonel and made lieutenant-colonel commandant of the second 71st Regiment of Foot,[2] a battalion of the 71st uninvolved in the surrender at Yorktown (as was the rest of the regiment). He was chosen a representative peer for Scotland in 1784, and was re-elected through 1807, inclusive. On 27 August 1789 he was appointed colonel of the 63rd Regiment of Foot, and was promoted major-general in 1793.

Later life

Governor of Jersey from 1793 to 1794, he was then appointed Governor of Jamaica. He was promoted lieutenant-general in 1798, and resigned the governorship in 1801. On 25 September 1803 he was promoted to general.

After his return from the American Revolution, he was introduced to Benedict Arnold (who had led several gallant attacks on his position at Saratoga). Balcarres snubbed Arnold as a traitor, and a duel ensued, neither party being injured. After being maimed in an accident he retired to the family's second home at Haigh Hall, near Wigan. On his death he was succeeded by his eldest son James, the 7th Earl. After James had successfully pressed his claim to the title of Earl of Crawford in 1848, the title was conferred posthumously on Alexander, even though he had not claimed it himself.

His younger son, Edwin Lindsay, an Indian army officer, was declared insane after refusing to fight in a duel and was sent to Papa Stour in the Shetland islands. He spent 26 years there as a prisoner before the Quaker preacher Catherine Watson arranged for his release in 1835.[3][4]


His memorial, in the Crawford chapel of Wigan Parish Church, reads:

"Alexander VIIth Earl of Balcarres Lord Lindsay and Balneill born 18 Jan 1750 General in the army and Governor of Jersey and Jamaica during the revolutionary War succeeded as XXIIIth Earl of Crawford in 1808 died 25 March 1825 and lies buried in this chapel “Except the Lord build the house they labour in vain that build it”.[5]


  1. Haigh Hall
  2. Letter from War Office to Sir Guy Carleton, 30 April 1782, PRO 30/55/39, document 4519, page 1, National Archives, Kew, United Kingdom
  3. "General Alexander Lindsay, 6th Earl of Balcarres" The Retrieved 15 September 2007.
  4. Haswell-Smith, Hamish (2004) The Scottish Islands. Edinburgh. Canongate. Page 452.
  5. "All Saints Parish Church in the Town of Wigan - Memorials inside the Church". Lancashire OnLine Parish Clerks. Retrieved 16 October 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Simon Fraser
Lt. Col. Commandant of the 2nd 71st Regiment of Foot
Succeeded by
Preceded by
The Earl Waldegrave
Colonel of the 63rd (the West Suffolk) Regiment of Foot
Succeeded by
William Dyott
Masonic offices
Preceded by
The Duke of Atholl
Grand Master of the
Grand Lodge of Scotland

1780 – 1782
Succeeded by
The Earl of Buchan
Government offices
Preceded by
Sir Adam Williamson
Governor of Jamaica
Succeeded by
Sir George Nugent
Peerage of Scotland
Preceded by
James Lindsay
Earl of Balcarres
1768 – 1825
Succeeded by
James Lindsay
Preceded by
George Lindsay
Earl of Crawford
de jure

1808 – 1825