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Lindsay, Sir Johnlocked

  • J. K. Laughton
  • , revised by Clive Wilkinson

Lindsay, Sir John (1737–1788), naval officer, was the younger son of Sir Alexander Lindsay of Evelix, near Dorloch in Easter Ross, and Emilia, daughter of David Murray, fifth Viscount Stormont, and sister of William Murray, first earl of Mansfield. Lindsay was made a lieutenant in 1756 commanding the fireship Pluto, which in 1757 was attached to the fleet under Sir Edward Hawke in the Rochefort expedition. On 29 September 1757 he was posted to the frigate Trent, in which he served during the war, on the home and West Indian stations.

In 1762 the Trent was part of the fleet under Sir George Pocock in the expedition against Havana; and on the death of Captain Goostrey of the Cambridge in action with the Moro Fort on 1 July, Lindsay was sent to fill his place, in which he 'gave many strong proofs of his valour' (Beatson, 2.550). Pocock afterwards offered him the command of the Cambridge or one of the other ships of the line, but he was still in the Trent in December 1763. On returning to England he was knighted on 10 February 1764 in reward for his gallantry; Lindsay went to the West Indies again in the Tartar, and returned in 1765. He married on 19 September 1768 Mary, daughter of Sir William Milner, and was MP for Aberdeen burghs from 1767 to 1768. His illegitimate daughter Dido Elizabeth Belle (1761?–1804), whose mother was a black slave captured from a Spanish ship, became a protégée of his uncle, William Murray. Lindsay is thought to have had two more illegitimate children, John and Elizabeth (b. c.1765), while in Scotland; both are mentioned in his will, each receiving £1000 in trust.

From August 1769 to March 1772 Lindsay was commodore and commander-in-chief in the East Indies, with his broad pennant in the frigate Stag. He was appointed a knight of the Bath (28 June 1770), a remarkable honour for a not very senior sea officer. He was later recalled from the East Indies apparently due to the hostility of the East India Company. In March 1778 he was appointed to the Victory, but on Admiral Keppel's selecting her for his flagship he was moved to the Prince George (90 guns), which he commanded in the engagement off Ushant on 27 July. His evidence before the subsequent courts martial was adverse to Sir Hugh Palliser; and on Keppel's resignation of the command, Lindsay also resigned, and refused all employment under Lord Sandwich, who none the less thought highly of Lindsay's ability. He was an Admiralty commissioner between April and December 1783, and then commodore and commander-in-chief in the Mediterranean.

With his broad pennant in the Trusty Lindsay was at Naples in June 1784; and on June 24 he had the honour of entertaining the king and queen on his ship. Not long afterwards his health broke down, and he was obliged to return to England. He was promoted rear-admiral on 24 September 1787, and died at Marlborough, on his way from Bath, on 4 June 1788, aged fifty-one. His body was brought to London and buried in Westminster Abbey.


  • R. Beatson, Naval and military memoirs of Great Britain, 3 vols. (1790)
  • J. Charnock, ed., Biographia navalis, 6 (1798)
  • E. Haden-Guest, ‘Lindsay, John’, HoP, Commons, 1754–90, 3.44


  • BL, appointment and corresp. with East India Company, Add. MS 18020
  • NRA, priv. coll., corresp. with East India Company


  • A. Ramsay, oils, Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum
  • plaster medallion (after J. Tassie, 1779), Scot. NPG
L. Namier & J. Brooke, eds., , 3 vols. (1964); repr. (1985)