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Significant Scots
Andrew Fletcher


FLETCHER, ANDREW, a distinguished judge, under the designation of lord Milton, and for many years sous minister of Scotland, under Archibald duke of Argyle, was a nephew of the subject of the preceding memoir. His father, Henry Fletcher of Salton, was the immediate younger brother of the patriot, but, distinguished by none of the public spirit of that individual, was only known as a good country gentleman. The genius of lord Milton appeared to have been derived from his mother, who was a daughter of Sir David Carnegy of Pitarrow, and grand-daughter of David earl of Southesk. During the troubles in which the family was involved, in consequence of their liberal principles, this lady went to Holland, taking with her a weaver and a mill-wright, both men of genius and enterprise to their respective departments, and by their means she secretly obtained the art of weaving and dressing the fine linen called Holland, of which she established the manufacture at Salton. Andrew, the son of this extraordinary woman, was born in 1692, and educated for the bar. He was admitted advocate in 1717, one of the lords of session in 1724, when only thirty-two years of age, and lord justice clerk, or president of the criminal court, in 1735, which office, on being appointed keeper of the signet in 1748, he relinquished.

The acuteness of lord Milton’s understanding, his judgment and address, and his intimate knowledge of the laws, customs, and temper of Scotland, recommended him early to the notice and confidence of lord Ilay, afterwards duke of Argyle, who, under Sir Robert Walpole, and subsequent ministers, was entrusted with the chief management of Scottish affairs. As lord Hay resided chiefly at the court, he required a confidential agent in Scotland, who might give him all necessary information, and act as his guide in the dispensation of the government patronage. In this capacity lord Milton served for a considerable number of years; during which, his house was, in its way, a kind of court, and himself looked up to as a person little short of a king. It is universally allowed, that nothing could exceed the discretion with which his lordship managed his delicate and difficult duties; especially during the civil war of 1745. Even the jacobites admitted that they owed many obligations to the humanity and good sense of lord Milton.

In February, 1746, when the highland army had retired to the north, and the duke of Cumberland arrived at Edinburgh to put himself at the head of the forces in Scotland, he was indebted to lord Milton for the advice which induced him to march northward in pursuit; without which proceeding, the war would probably have been protracted a considerable time. After the suppression of the insurrection, Milton applied himself with immense zeal to the grand design which he had chiefly at heart – the promotion of commerce, manufactures, and agriculture, in his native country; and it would be difficult to estimate exactly the gratitude due to his memory for his exertions towards that noble object. After a truly useful and meritorious life of seventy-four years, his lordship expired at his house of Brunstain, near Musselburgh, on the 13th of December, 1766.


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