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The Scottish Nation

FLETCHER, a surname derived from the French word fleche, an arrow, and signifying either an arrow-maker, or more generally, a superintendent of archery. The surname is not confined to Scotland, the names of Flecharius and le Flecher being of frequent occurrence in the public records of England of Richard the First and King John.

      The most distinguished family of this name in Scotland were the Fletchers of Salton in the county of Haddington, that estate in the parish of that name (which gives the title of lord to the head of the Frasers of Philorth, first conferred on the Abernethys of that ilk; see SALTON, lord) having been purchased from Alexander Lord Abernethy in 1643, by Sir Andrew Fletcher of Innerpeffer and Bencleo, Forfarshire, an eminent lawyer, and one of the senators of the college of justice. He was the eldest son of Robert Fletcher of Innerpeffer, and was admitted an ordinary judge, 18th December 1623. In 1626 he was continued on the bench when so many of his brethren were displaced. [Balfour’s Annals, vol. ii. p. 130.] In 1633 he was appointed a member of a parliamentary commission for examining the laws and collecting the local practices of the country, in order to a general codification of the laws written and unwritten, but which seems not to have made any progress, owing to the subsequent troubles. At the same time he was required to examine Sir Thomas Craig’s work, ‘De Feudes,’ with a view to its publication. In 1641 he was reappointed a lord of session. The minutes of parliament bear that the laird of Moncrieff objected to his appointment on the ground that Lord Innerpeffer had incapacitated himself by buying lands under litigation, but although the matter was referred to the privy council, nothing came of the accusation, and Sir Andrew retained his seat. He was commissioner to the estates for the county of Angus, and was appointed on 1st February 1645, one of the commissioners of the exchequer, and in 1647 one of the committee of estates and of the committee of the war, for the county of Haddington. According to Guthrie (Memoirs, p. 191) he was in the interest of King Charles the First, and canvassed the members of parliament in his favour, as to whether he should be left to the English army without conditions made in his behalf. He gained a majority, which, however, was lost by the supineness of the duke of Hamilton. He was one of the four commissioners for the shires who alone of all that body voted against it. In 1648 he was again appointed a member of the committee of estates and of war for Haddington and for Forfar. He died in March 1650, at his house in East Lothian. He married a daughter of Peter Hay of Kirkland. His elder son, Andrew Fletcher of Salton, was the celebrated patriot, of whom a memoir is subsequently given. The latter was succeeded in the estate, on his death in 1716, by his brother, Henry Fletcher of Salton, who married in 1688, Mary, daughter of Sir David Carnegie of Pitarrow. His son, Andrew Fletcher, was the celebrated judge, Lord Milton, of whom also a memoir is given in its place. Lord Milton married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Francis Kinloch of Gilmerton, and had a son, General John Fletcher Campbell of Salton, Haddingtonshire, and Boquhan, Stirlingshire. The latter married in 1795, Ann Thriepland, and had two sons, Andrew Fletcher of Salton Hall, born 20th August 1796, a magistrate and deputy lieutenant of the county of Haddington. He married Lady Charlotte Charteris, second daughter of the earl of Wemyss and March, and has issue. A second son, Harry Fletcher, succeeded to the estate of Boquhan, when he assumed the additional name of Campbell. He married Ann, daughter of Hugh Hawthorne, Esq. of Castlewig, by whom he has four sons.

FLETCHER, ANDREW, a celebrated political writer and patriot, the son of Sir Robert Fletcher of Salton, in East Lothian, by Catherine, daughter of Sir Henry Bruce of Clackmannan, was born in 1653. His father dying while he was yet a child, he was placed, by his father’s request on his deathbed, under the tuition of the afterwards celebrated Dr. Burnet, bishop of Salisbury, then minister of the parish of Salton, when episcopacy was dominant in Scotland, and from him he is said to have imbibed that attachment to free principles of government for which he became so eminent. He spent some years in foreign travel, and on his return home he first appeared as a public character in the Scots parliament of 1681 as commissioner for East Lothian, when his spirited opposition to the arbitrary measures of the court rendered his retirement to Holland essential for his safety. Not appearing to a summons from the lords of the council, he was outlawed, and his estate confiscated. In 1683 he accompanied Baillie of Jerviswood to England, to assist in the consultations held among the friends of liberty for the concerting of measures for their common security. On his return to the continent, he devoted his time chiefly to the study of public law.

      In June 1685 he landed with the duke of Monmouth at Lyme in Dorsetshire, and was appointed to command the cavalry under Lord Grey of Wark, in Monmouth’s enterprise against James II. of England. They had arrived from Holland, in the Helderenbergh, a ship of 26 guns, and had previously landed one of the refugees named Thomas Dare, a man who, having great influence at Taunton, was directed to hasten thither across the country, and to apprize his friends that Monmouth would soon arrive. What follows may be given in Lord Macaulay’s words: “Fletcher was ill mounted; and indeed there were few chargers in the camp which had not been taken from the plough. When he was ordered to Bridport, he thought that the exigency of the case warranted him in borrowing, without asking permission, a fine horse belonging to Dare. Dare resented this liberty, and assailed Fletcher with gross abuse. Fletcher kept his temper better than any who knew him expected. At last Dare, presuming on the patience with which his insolence was endured, ventured to shake a switch at the high-born and high-spirited Scot. Fletcher’s blood boiled. He drew a pistol, and shot Dare dead. There was a general cry for vengeance on the foreigner who had murdered an Englishman. Monmouth could not resist the clamour. Fletcher, who, when his first burst of rage had spent itself, was overwhelmed with remorse and sorrow, took refuge on board of the Helderenbergh, and escaped to the continent.” He first went to Spain, where he was thrown into prison, but soon made his escape. He afterwards passed into Hungary, where he highly distinguished himself in the war against the Turks. He subsequently rejoined his expatriated countrymen in Holland, and at the Revolution returned to Scotland. He was a member of the convention for settling the new government in his native country, and throughout his political career he zealously maintained the rights and liberties of the people.

      In 1703, when a bill was brought in for a supply to the Crown, he opposed it, until the House should consider what was necessary to secure the religion and liberties of the nation on the death of the queen; and he proposed various limitations of the royal prerogative, some of which were introduced into the ‘Act of Security,’ passed, through his exertions, into a law, but rendered ineffectual by the subsequent Union, which he resolutely opposed. He died in London in 1716, on his way from France to Scotland, and was buried in the family vault below the aisle of Salton church. His personal appearance is thus described: “A low thin man, of a brown complexion, full of fire, with a stern sour look.” His life has been written by the late earl of Buchan, who, as well as Laing in his History of Scotland, and Lockhart of Carnwath, speaks in high terms of panegyric of his political and other virtues. As a writer, he possessed great powers, his mind being stored with classical knowledge, while his style was at once perspicuous, elegant, and energetic. The following are his works:

      Two Discourses concerning the Affairs of Scotland; written in 1698. Edin. 1698, 8vo.

      Discourse of Government with regard to Militias. Edin. 1698, 8vo. Lond. 1755, 8vo.

      Speeches in the Parliament at Edinburgh. Edin. 1703, 8vo, Anon.

      Account of a Conversation concerning a right regulation of Government for the common good of Scotland. Edin. 1704, 8vo.

      Political Works, containing Discourses concerning Militias, the affairs of Scotland and those of Spain, and Speeches in Parliament in 1703; with selected Notices of his Life, Character, and Education. Lond. 1722, 1732, 1737, 8vo. Glasg. 1749, 12mo.

FLETCHER, ANDREW, LORD MILTON, a distinguished judge, was the son of Henry Fletcher of Salton, younger brother of the preceding, by a daughter of Sir David Carnegie of Pitarrow, bart., grand-daughter of David earl of Southesk. This lady appears to have been a woman of singular merit and enterprise. During the troubles in which the Fletcher family were involved, on account of their well-known attachment to the principles of civil and religious liberty, she went to Holland, taking with her a millwright and a weaver, both men of great talent in their respective departments, and by their means she secretly obtained a knowledge of the art of weaving and dressing the fine linen known by the name of “Holland,” the manufacture of which she introduced into the village of Salton. Andrew, the eldest son, was born in 1692, and after having obtained an education to qualify him for the bar, was admitted advocate on February 26, 1717; was made cashier of the excise in 1718; created one of the lords of session June 4, 1724, and lord justice-clerk July 21, 1735, which office he relinquished on being appointed principal keeper of the signet in 1748. On 5th July 1726, he had been named by patent one of the commissioners for improving the fisheries and manufactures in Scotland.

      The acuteness of Lord Milton’s understanding, his judgment and address, and his minute knowledge of the laws, customs, and temper of Scotland, recommended him early to the notice and favour of Archibald duke of Argyle, who, as minister for Scotland, employed him as his confidential agent and adviser in all matters relating to his native country. During the rebellion of 1745 he acted with so much discretion and humanity, that even the defeated party acknowledged themselves indebted to him for his lenient measures. He disregarded many of the secret informations which came to his office through the channels of officious malevolence; and it has been recorded to his honour, that, after his death, many sealed letters, containing denunciations of private individuals, were found unopened in his repositories.

      In the abolition of the heritable jurisdictions, Lord Milton took an active part; and he no sooner observed the beginning of public tranquility, than he zealously devoted himself to the promotion of designs for the improvement of trade, manufactures, agriculture, and learning, in Scotland, which, during the period that he had the administration of affairs, exhibited in all their branches a more rapid advance than any country in Europe. Lord Milton died at his house of Brunstain near Musselburgh, December 13, 1766, aged 74.

FLETCHER, ARCHIBALD, styled the father of burgh reform, was born in Glenlyon, Perthshire, in 1745. He was the son of Angus Fletcher, a younger brother of Archibald Fletcher, Esq. of Bennice and Dunans, Argyleshire. He served his apprenticeship with a writer to the signet in Edinburgh, and was afterwards admitted into partnership with his master, Mr. Wilson of Howden. In 1790, at the age of forty-five, he passed advocate, and in course of time obtained a very extensive practice at the bar. Many years previously he had effectually opposed, in a well written pamphlet, addressed to the society of writers to the signet, the adoption of a resolution by the faculty of advocates, limiting the age of admission of members to twenty-seven years – a resolution which, if acted upon, would have prevented himself from ever becoming an advocate. In 1784, when burgh reform was first agitated in Scotland, he was chosen secretary to the society formed in Edinburgh at the time, and in 1787 he was one of the delegates despatched to London by the Scottish burghs to promote its objects. He acted, without a fee, as counsel for Joseph Gerrald, and other ‘friends of the people,’ as they styled themselves, who were tried for sedition in 1793, and in 1796 he was one of the minority of thirty-eight who opposed the deposition of the Hon. Henry Erskine, then dean of faculty. In 1816, in consequence of declining health, he retired from the bar, to Parkhill, a farm which he had purchased in Stirlingshire, where he resided for some years. He died at Auchindinny house, about eight miles from Edinburgh, on 20th December 1828. He married at the age of forty-six, a Miss Dawson from the vicinity of Doncaster, who was only about seventeen, and had several children. His eldest son, Miles Fletcher, was educated for the bar. He married Augusta, daughter of General Clavering, by whom he had a family. After his death, in the prime of life, his widow married John Christison, Esq., advocate. Another son, Angus Fletcher, relinquished the profession of a writer to the signet, for which he had been educated, and became a sculptor in London. One of Mr. Fletcher’s daughters married John Taylor, Esq., at one time a member of parliament, and another, Dr. Davy, a brother of the celebrated Sir Humphrey Davy. “Mr. Archibald Fletcher,” says Lord Brougham, “was a learned, experienced, and industrious lawyer, one of the most upright men that ever adorned the profession, and a man of such stern and resolute firmness in public principle, as is very rarely found united with the amiable character which endeared him to private society.” He was the author of several pamphlets, of which only the following may be mentioned:

      An Essay on Church Patronage, in which he supported the popular side.

      An Examination of the Grounds on which the Convention of Royal Burghs claimed the right of altering and amending the Setts or Constitution of the Individual Burghs. Edin. 1825, 8vo.

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