‘In October 1766, we returned to London, after having spent near three years together, without the slightest disagreement or coolness on my part, with every advantage that could be expected from the society of such a man. We continued to live in friendship to the hour of his death; and I shall always remain with the impression of having lost a friend whom I loved and respected, not only for his great talents, but for every private virtue.’ — Henry Scott, 3rd Duke of Buccleuch, on Adam Smith
My first encounter with the Buccleuch name was as a teenager when I was captivated by the beautifully crafted poetic prose in the intricately patterned novel The Great Gatsby. It is infused with the influence of Eliot and Keats; Fitzgerald also turned to Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale for the title of his last completed novel Tender is the Night. Early in ‘Gatsby’ the narrator Nick Carraway suggests that his family are “descended from the Dukes of Buccleuch” before – in the same sentence – conceding that it is a figment of his imagination. Later Gatsby refers to the Earl of Doncaster, another Buccleuch title, when reminiscing about his time at Oxford. The use of the Buccleuch connection is symbolic of a central theme that Gatsby exists within an illusion, both in the past and in the present. Perhaps Fitzgerald was drawing a comparison too between the first Duke’s burning desire to be king and James Gatz’s ambition to be the Great Gatsby. Almost 40 years after this literary encounter, a friend, Katushka Giltsoff, gave me an inspired introduction to Richard, 10th Duke of Buccleuch and 12th Duke of Queensberry. It has blossomed to become a very special friendship.
Legend has it that in the 10th century in a ravine known as Buck Cleuch, where stags gathered, young John Scott seized the antlers of a charging stag and threw it over his shoulders, saving the life of King Kenneth III and earning the patronymic Scott of Buccleuch. But let’s turn to the making of Henry, 3rd Duke of Buccleuch.
Protestant opponent to the new Roman Catholic king
James Fitzroy or Crofts was born in 1649 in Rotterdam, the illegitimate son of King Charles II and his Welsh mistress Lucy Walter. The couple had met as both sought refuge in the Netherlands during the English Civil War. Lucy and young James travelled to London in 1656 only to be imprisoned in the Tower of London by the republican government, followed by release and travel to Flanders. In 1660, Charles was restored to the throne and two years later James returned to England and was installed at court as a favourite of the king. On February 14th 1663, Charles created him Duke of Monmouth and made him a Knight of the Garter. A matter of weeks later Monmouth married Anne Scott, Countess of Buccleuch; they were created Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch, and he took the surname of Scott. On the death of Charles II, the Duke of York acceded to power as James II of England and VII of Scotland. The Duke led the Protestant opposition to the new Roman Catholic king. And from his voluntary exile at The Hague, he planned his ill-fated Monmouth Rebellion which ended in abject defeat in Somerset. He fled but was soon captured and beheaded. When Anne, the Duchess of Buccleuch in her own right, died in 1732, aged 80, her titles passed to her grandson Francis as the 2nd Duke of Buccleuch.
The birth of the Earl of Dalkeith
In 1750, after a brief illness, Francis, Earl of Dalkeith, the son and heir to the 2nd Duke of Buccleuch, died of smallpox in Oxfordshire. His wife Lady Caroline was appointed ‘tutrix and guardian’ to his four young children. As the eldest son, Henry inherited the title of Earl of Dalkeith. A year later his grandfather, Francis, died and Henry at the tender age of four inherited the ducal title.
The marriage of Charles Townshend to Henry’s mother Lady Dalkeith, shortly after his ninth birthday, marked an important turning point in the young man’s life. In particular Townshend took an active, genuine interest in the young Duke’s education, and his first act was to insist that he would attend Eton. By all accounts, Henry thrived at Eton. But Henry’s stepfather also wished to prepare the Duke to be a ‘future figure in public life’. It was with this in mind that he fixed on the idea of employing Adam Smith to complete his education by way of a Grand Tour of Europe.
The Grand Tour of Henry and Adam
Townshend, as a prominent politician and future Chancellor of the Exchequer, had been sent a copy of Smith’s first major work, The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Not long after, Smith’s great friend and fellow philosopher David Hume advised Adam that Townshend ‘who passes for the cleverest fellow in England’ was hoping to persuade him to tutor Henry. In due course, Townshend accompanied Lady Dalkeith to Scotland for two months, during which time he travelled to Glasgow to meet Smith, who held the chair of Moral Philosophy at the University of Glasgow, to discuss the proposition. Four years later, as the Duke approached the conclusion of his time at Eton, Smith gave notice to the University and prepared to set off for Paris with his young student. Adam Smith was 40 and Henry was 17. Smith knew that he would experience intellectual stimulation and observe different social constructs on the tour. There was, however, also a financial incentive. During the period of the Grand Tour, he was paid an annual salary of £500, followed by an annual annuity for life of £300.
Although his reputation as a philosopher was well established, he was in other respects a surprising choice as tutor and travelling companion for the young aristocrat. He was socially awkward and did not possess Hume’s easy charm and affability. Townshend’s correspondence at the time suggests that his main objective was the Duke’s education and preparation for duties of high office. But the prestige that the young Duke would garner from his connection with such an eminent philosopher would, of course, have played its part too.
By the time they set off, the Grand Tour was in its final ‘golden age’, a period lasting from the end of the Seven Years War in 1763 until Napoleon’s invasion of Italy in 1796. It had started in the mid-17th century as an elite aristocratic tour focused on education, but, as tales of such trips spread widely, the tour was increasingly pursued by a broader church and its focus drifted away from education to general connoisseurship. Despite this trend, and no doubt under Smith’s direction, the Duke’s tour was disciplined and rigorous, reflecting the conventions and ideals of earlier aristocratic tours.
Henry and Adam meet Voltaire
Henry and his tutor spent a great deal of time in Toulouse, but also spent time in Paris and Geneva. In Geneva, Smith was able to gain access to intellectual circles, including that of Voltaire. Smith was keen that the Duke’s theoretical education was supplemented by practical experience of alternative systems of government and commerce. It appears that Smith planned to take Henry on a tour of Germany and then on to Italy; however, circumstances intervened. While hunting with King Louis XV at Compiegne, the Duke fell ill with fever. He made a full recovery, but two months later his younger brother, Campbell, succumbed to a similar illness and, sadly, died. This, understandably, brought the tour to its end.
On 21st September 1767, the Duke turned 21 and there was a formal celebration at Dalkeith House which continued on into the night, and those who lived in the town were entertained at two public houses at the family’s expense. Thereafter the Duke began to instigate changes to the management of the Scottish estates, and Smith was, unequivocally, involved. Smith is, for sure, more commonly associated with the division of labour and the efficacy of market forces. But we also see his emphasis on agriculture in The Wealth of Nations, and also his significant influence on the Duke’s strategy of long-term improvement of the estate while maintaining the family’s wider moral, social, and political influence. The 3rd Duke of Buccleuch made a significant contribution to commercial and intellectual progression in Scotland. In particular, he was joint founder and the first President of The Royal Society of Edinburgh, and he was the Governor of The Royal Bank of Scotland for 35 years.
Adam Smith died, aged 67, on 17th July 1790 at Panmure House in Edinburgh. Henry, 3rd Duke of Buccleuch, died on 11th January 1812, aged 65, at Dalkeith House, only 12 after inheriting the Dukedom of Queensberry. There can be no doubt that a special bond existed between Henry and Smith.
Today, as Executive Chairman of Buccleuch, I work alongside Walter, Earl of Dalkeith. We also have an age difference of 23 years. I cannot offer Walter the towering intellect of Adam Smith or the promise of a Grand Tour, but I hope that, together, we can further develop Buccleuch to meet the demands of the 21st century in terms of diversification, innovation, inclusion, and sustainability.