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The Scottish Nation

STRACHAN, a surname derived from the lands of Strathaen or Strathachan, in Kincardineshire. The family of Strachan of Strachan is of great antiquity. In 1100, we find Walderus de Strachane of Strathethyne, “cum consensus Rudolphi de Strachane haeredis sui,” conveying lands to the canons of St. Andrews, and John, the son of Rudolphus, makes over to the abbot and convent of Dunfermline the lands of Belheldie, pro salute sua, the deed being confirmed by Alexander III. in 1278. About 1316, the barony of Strachan, Fetteresso, and Dalpersey, &c., merged by marriage into the family of Keith, but in the reign of David II. Sir James Strachan of Monboddo, in the same bounty, obtained the lands of Thornton by marriage with Agneta de Thornton. He had two sons. Duncan, the elder, had the lands of Monboddo. The younger son, Sir John Strachan, got the lands of Thornton. He was knighted by Robert II. in 1375, and to him the previous charters were, in the following year, confirmed by the same monarch.
Sir Alexander Strachan of Thornton, a commissioner of the exchequer, and subsequently a commissioner for auditing the treasury accounts, was created a baronet of Nova Scotia by King Charles I., 28th May 1625. On the death of his son, the second baronet, without issue, the title, being to heirs male generally, was inherited by his kinsman Sir James Strachan of Monboddo, whose lineal descent from the family of Thornton was thereafter further proved and confirmed by deed under the great seal in 1663. On the death of the fourth baronet, issueless, the baronetcy again went to a distant kinsman. The fifth baronet, Sir John Strachan, a post-captain R.N., died December 28, 1777.

The sixth baronet was Admiral Sir Richard Strachan, G.C.B., distinguished for his naval services. Born in Devonshire, October 7, 1760, he was the eldest son of Patrick Strachan, Esq., lieutenant R.N. When in command of the Concorde, 42 guns, in the squadron under Sir J.B. Warren, in an engagement with the French on St. George’s day, 1794, to the westward of Guernsey, he captured a French ship of 38 guns called l’Engageante. Afterwards in the Melampus, 42 guns, and then in the Donegal, 80 guns, he was constantly employed in active service, in the course of which he made several prizes, amongst the rest, a Spanish ship, with a cargo worth about £200,000. In the spring of 1804, he was nominated a colonel of marines. About July 1805, he was appointed to the Caesar, 80 guns, and intrusted with the command of a detached squadron, consisting of five sail of the line and two frigates. On the evening of the 2d November, being off Ferrol, he fell in with four French line of battle ships that had escaped from the battle of Trafalgar. Sir Richard immediately gave chase, which he continued all that day and the next. The two British frigates having outsailed the ships of the line, got up with the enemy by daybreak on the 4th, and immediately commenced action. By firing on the rear of the French ships, they retarded their flight so much that the main body of Sir Richard’s fleet was able to come up. The battle that ensued lasted nearly three hours and a half, during the whole of which the French fought remarkably well. At last their ships, being completely unmanageable, struck their colours, and the whole four were captured. The slaughter on board of them was very great. The French admiral himself was wounded, and one of his captains killed. The loss of the British was trifling. Sir Richard Strachan immediately proceeded to Gibraltar with his prizes. Five days after this action, he was promoted to the rank of rear-admiral, and on 29th January 1806, he was made a knight of the Bath. He also received the thanks of both houses of parliament. He was subsequently employed in the blockade of Rochefort until the summer of 1809, when he assumed the command of the naval part of the expedition destined for the occupation of Flushing, and the destruction of the French ships of war, arsenals, &c., in the Scheldt. On 3d July 1810 he was presented by the corporation at London with a sword and the freedom of the city, and on the 31st of the same month he was advanced to be vice-admiral. He was made full admiral July 19, 1821, and allowed a pension of £1,000 per annum for his services. He died 3d February 1828, and for thirteen years after his decease, the title remained dormant. In October 1841, Sir John Strachan of Cliffden, near Teignmouth, Devon, as the nearest heir male general of the first baronet, succeeded as the seventh baronet. He married Elizabeth, daughter of David Hunter, Esq. of Blackness, Forfarshire, and died 9th June 1844, when his son, Sir John Strachan, of her majesty’s household, succeeded as eighth baronet. The latter died, 28th January 1854, without issue, when the title again became dormant.
The name has been softened in England into Strahan, in accordance with its pronunciation.

STRAHAN, WILLIAM, an eminent printer, was born at Edinburgh in 1715, His father, who held a small appointment in the customs, gave his son the ordinary education obtained at the High school. He served his apprenticeship to a printer in his native city, and on the expiry of his time he went to London, where he worked as a journeyman in the same office with Benjamin Franklin. He next set up for himself, and soon established a flourishing business. In 1770 he bought of Mr. Eyre a share of the patent for king’s printer, and afterwards acquired great property and influence in the literary world, by purchasing the copyrights of some of the most celebrated authors of the time, frequently in conjunction with his friend, Alderman Cadell, the eminent publisher. In 1775 he was elected M.P. for the borough of Malmesbury, having Charles James Fox for his colleague, and in the next parliament he was returned for Wotton Bassett. He lost his seat at the dissolution in 1784, and died July 9, 1785. He owed his rise entirely to his own talents and exertions, and was much esteemed by persons of rank and learning. He was the friend of Dr. Johnson, and other eminent literary men of his time. He wrote a paper in ‘The Mirror,’ No. 94, and some other anonymous pieces. He excelled in the epistolary branch of writing, and several of his letters to the many men of eminence with whom he was acquainted have been printed in their lives or correspondence. Besides liberal bequests to various persons, he left one thousand pounds to the Stationers’ Company for charitable purposes. His portrait is subjoined.

[portrait of William Strahan]

Mr. Strahan married in early life, and had several children, but was survived only by two of his three sons; namely, the Rev. Dr. George Strahan, prebendary of Rochester, who died May 18, 1824; and Andrew, his third son. The latter, born about 1749, succeeded his father as joint patentee, with Mr. Eyre, in the office of king’s printer, and pursued his steps, not only in the extent but in the liberality of his encouragement of authors. In 1797, he was elected M.P. for Newport, Hants, and sat in parliament till 1818. He was a Whig, and always voted with that party. He died Aug. 25, 1831, aged 83.

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