a surname derived from Doomster, an ancient name for judge or executioner.
It is of great antiquity in Scotland. The honourable office of dempster of
parliament was long heritably enjoyed by the old family of Dempster of
Muresk, Pitliver, &c., who were free barons and proprietors of the lands
of Carolstoun, Auchterless, &c., in Aberdeenshire, before the middle of
the fourteenth century. David Dempster of Auchterless and Carolstoun, who
lived in the reign of King David the Second, is one of a perambulation of
marches near Arbroath in 1370. His son, Andrew, got the office of dempster
confirmed to him and his heirs by a charter under the great seal from
Robert the Second; but his son, David, third baron of Carolstoun, resigned
the office of dempster to the abbacy of Arbroath in September 1460.
of Muresk having squandered away the greater part of his estates, fell
into vicious courses, and on April 20, 1620, he was tried and found guilty
of forgery and falsehood, and beheaded at Edinburgh in consequence. “The
frequency of the crime of forgery,” says Mr. Pitcairn, “during some years
preceding the date of this trial, seems to have induced the public
prosecutor to make several severe examples. Not a few of the criminals
were persons of considerable rank in society, who, by desperate courses,
had been reduced to the worst shifts to procure the means of subsistence.”
[Criminal Trials, vol. iii. p. 487, note.]
The family of
Dempster of Skibo, in Sutherlandshire, are descended from James, second
son of James Dempster of Muresk, living in 1574, and representative of
David Dempster of Auchterless and Carolstoun. The first of this family,
Mr. George Dempster of Dunnichen in Forfarshire, (a short memoir of whom
is subsequently given,) purchased the estate of Skibo in 1786, and Mr.
John Hamilton Dempster, his younger brother, shortly after purchased the
estates of Pulrossie and Over-Skibo. Their grandfather, a merchant in
Dundee, had bought the estate of Dunnichen about 1700. That estate
ultimately came into the possession of James Hawkins, Esq., advocate.
Hamilton Dempster of Skibo was succeeded by his daughter and heiress,
Harriet Dempster of Dunnichen and Skibo, born in 1786. She married in
1801, William Soper, Esq., of the East India Company’s service, who
assumed by royal license the surname of Dempster, in compliance with the
entail of the estates. Mrs. Dempster died in 1810, leaving a son, George
Dempster, Esq. of Skibo, and four daughters. The third daughter,
Charlotte, was married in 1830 to James Whiteshed Hawkins Dempster, Esq.
of Dunnichen, and died in 1842.
a learned historian, was born at Brechin in 1579, and studied at Aberdeen
and Cambridge. He early went to Paris, and taught classical learning in
the college of Beauvais. He was of a quarrelsome disposition, and as ready
with the sword as with the pen. Having publicly whipped one of his
scholars for challenging a fellow-student to fight a duel, the young man
brought three of the king’s life-guards into the college, when Dempster
made all his pupils take arms, and, after hamstringing their horses at the
gate, compelled the three warriors to sue for quarter, and confined them
for several days close prisoners in the belfry. In consequence of this
affair he was obliged to quit Paris. Proceeding to England, he married
there a woman of uncommon beauty, who eloped with one of his scholars
after his return to the Continent. He afterwards read lectures upon polite
learning at Nismes, became professor of philology at Pisa, and
subsequently at bologna, where he died in 1625. He had such a prodigious
memory that he acquired the name of ‘The Living Library.’ He was the
author of numerous learned works, of which the following is a list:
nuptiis Jacobi Comitis Perthani et Isabellae unicae Roberti Comitis
Wintonii filiae. Edin. 1608, 4to.
Jacobi Vassorii Parisiensem rectoratum. Paris, 1609, 4to.
dictum post Telemachum, Petri Valentis. Paris, 1609, 8vo.
Kal. Jan. Paris, 16120, 4to.
victrix Academia. Paris, 1612, 4to.
Romanarum corpus absolutissimum in quo praeter ea quae Joannes Rosinus
delineaverat infinita supplentur, mutantur, adduntur ex critcis, et
omnibus utrinsque linguae auctoribus collectum; poetis, oratoribus,
historicis, jurisconsultis, qui laudati, explicati, correctique. Paris.
abrogatus tragoedia. Paris. 1613, 8vo.
Jacobo M. Britanniae Regi. Lond. 1615, 4to.
Januar. 1616, ad illustriss. virum Jacobum Hayum Dominum ac Baronem de
Saley, &c. Lond. 1616, 4to.
Professorum, sive Praefatio solennis habita. Pisis, postridie Kal. Novemb.
1616. Pisis, 1616, 4to.
sive Gamelia ludiera in Sponsalibus Principis Urbinatum. Flor. 1616, 4to.
illustrior seu mendicabula repressa. Lugd. 1620, 8vo.
cives sui S. Bonifacius rationibus. Joannes Duns ratinibus 12. Bonon.
Sectorum in quo nullus nisi Scotus gente aut conversatione quod ex omnium
gentium monumentis pio studio Dei gloriae, Sanctorum honori, Patriae
ornamenta, &c. quartum aucta, Sancti, Beati, Papae, Cardinales,
Patriarchae, Reges, aut Regum Liberi, Apostoli Gentium, Monasteriorum
extra Scotiam fundatores, Archiepiscopi et Episcopi, Abbates extra
Scotiam, Academiarum fundatores. Viri domi et tota passim Europa, omni
scientiarum genere illustrissimi, Haeretici pauculi confutantur. Bonon.
Historiam Scoticam, lib. ii. accessit Martyrologium Scoticum Sanctorum.
1679. Bonon. 1622, 4to.
in Glassas, Lib. iv. Institut. Justiniani, &c. Bolog. 1622, 4to.
Lib. iii. Locus et Antiq. Rom. rectractatus, &c. 1623, 4to.
Virgini Sanlucianae. Bonon. 1623, 8vo.
a Muresk Scoti Pandectarum in Pisano Lyceo Professoris Ordinarii de
Etruria Regali libri Septem, opus posthumum, in duas partes divisum, nunc
primum editi. curante Tho. Coke. A very elaborate and learned work, with
many copperplates. Florence, 1723-4, 2 vols. folio, to which Passeri
published a Supplement, 1767, folio.
Ecclesiastica Gentis Scotorum, Lib. xix. Bononiae, 1627, 4to. Many of the
authors celebrated in this posthumous work are fabrications. New edition,
edited by Dr. Irving, printed for the Bannatyne Club. Edin. 1829. 2 vols.
of Dunnichen, an eminent agriculturist, was born about 1735, and in 1755
was admitted advocate. In November 1762 he was elected member of
parliament for the Fife and Forfar district of burghs. In 1765 he obtained
the patent office of secretary to the Order of the Thistle. In 1790 he
retired from parliament. He had supported the financial plans of the Pitt
administration; but was opposed to the continued sovereignty over India of
the East India Company, of which he was at one time a director. Anxious to
promote the internal improvement of his native country, it was chiefly by
his exertions that an act of parliament was obtained for affording
protection and encouragement to the fisheries in Scotland. A joint-stock
company having been formed for this object, he was, in 1788, elected one
of the directors. From his patriotism he was designated honest George
Dempster. Besides the fisheries he also took a leading part in promoting
the manufactures and the agriculture of Scotland. He was the first to
suggest the plan of sending fresh salmon to the London market packed in
boxes filled with ice, instead of being pickled as formerly. His latter
years were devoted to the improvement of his estate. Mr. Dempster died at
Dunnichen, in Forfarshire, February 13, 1818. He published ‘Discourse
containing a summary of the Report of the Directors of the Society for
Extending the Fisheries of Great Britain,’ 1789.