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The Scottish Nation

DEMPSTER, 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.

      Thoms Dempster 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.

      Mr. John 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.

DEMPSTER, THOMAS, 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:

      Epithalamion in nuptiis Jacobi Comitis Perthani et Isabellae unicae Roberti Comitis Wintonii filiae. Edin. 1608, 4to.

      Panegyris in Jacobi Vassorii Parisiensem rectoratum. Paris, 1609, 4to.

      Eucharisticon dictum post Telemachum, Petri Valentis. Paris, 1609, 8vo.

      Musca; Strena Kal. Jan. Paris, 16120, 4to.

      Epinicion, seu victrix Academia. Paris, 1612, 4to.

      Antiquitatum 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. 1613, fol.

      Decemviratus abrogatus tragoedia. Paris. 1613, 8vo.

      Panegyricus Jacobo M. Britanniae Regi. Lond. 1615, 4to.

      Strena Kal. Januar. 1616, ad illustriss. virum Jacobum Hayum Dominum ac Baronem de Saley, &c. Lond. 1616, 4to.

      Licitatio Professorum, sive Praefatio solennis habita. Pisis, postridie Kal. Novemb. 1616. Pisis, 1616, 4to.

      Troja Hetrusca, sive Gamelia ludiera in Sponsalibus Principis Urbinatum. Flor. 1616, 4to.

      Scotia illustrior seu mendicabula repressa. Lugd. 1620, 8vo.

      Asserti Scotiae cives sui S. Bonifacius rationibus. Joannes Duns ratinibus 12. Bonon. 1621, 4to.

      Menologium 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. 1622, 4to.

      Apparatus ad Historiam Scoticam, lib. ii. accessit Martyrologium Scoticum Sanctorum. 1679. Bonon. 1622, 4to.

      KEPATNOS na i OBELOS, in Glassas, Lib. iv. Institut. Justiniani, &c. Bolog. 1622, 4to.

      De Juramento, Lib. iii. Locus et Antiq. Rom. rectractatus, &c. 1623, 4to.

      Votum Divae Virgini Sanlucianae. Bonon. 1623, 8vo.

      Thomae Dempsteri 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.

      Historia 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. 4to.

DEMPSTER, GEORGE, 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.

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