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Sir John Pringle, 5th Baronet, of Stichill (1784–1869)

Antoine Watteau, La Gamme d’Amour (The Scale of Love) (NG 2897)

Sir John Pringle,1 Vice-Lieutenant of the County of Roxburgh,2 was the second son of Sir James Pringle, 4th Baronet, of Stichill (1726–1809), an army officer who also represented Berwickshire in Parliament (1761–79) and held the office of His Majesty’s Master of Works for Scotland.3 Prior to inheriting the baronetcy, Sir John Pringle is said to have inherited the bulk of the estate of a distinguished uncle who had predeceased him, namely the Sir John Pringle (1707–1782) who had been President of the Royal Society (1772–8) and physician to King George III.4

The Pringles were partial to the women of the Macleods of Macleod. Sir John’s mother was Elizabeth, second daughter of Norman Macleod of Macleod (died 1772). His elder brother, Robert, married Sarah, daughter of Major-General Norman Macleod of Macleod (died 1831) who was the grandson of the first-named Norman Macleod. In 1809 John himself first married Sarah’s younger sister, Emilia Anne Macleod. She died in 1830.5 His second marriage in the following year was, however, not to a Macleod but to another Scottish noblewoman, Lady Elizabeth Maitland-Campbell (1794–1878), daughter of Sir John Campbell, 1st Marquess of Breadalbane.6 After Sir John Campbell’s death in 1834, Elizabeth inherited the estate at Langton House, Berwick.7

Although Sir John Pringle had five daughters and three sons by his first marriage, none of the sons survived him. One accidentally drowned in the Thames in 1834,8 one died at sea in 1847 and a third, his eldest son, who had been severely wounded in a duel on Kelso racecourse in 1829,9 died unmarried in 1865. He had one grandson who also predeceased him.10 He had two daughters but no sons by his second marriage.11 Consequently, on his death the baronetcy passed to his brother, Norman. 

Sir John Pringle is said to have served ten years in the 12th Light Dragoons,12 but he may have originally been a cornet in the 2nd Dragoon Guards in 180013 before transferring to the 66th Foot, and thence finally in 1806 to the 12th Light Dragoons with the rank of captain.14 The 12th Light, known as the 12th Prince of Wales’s Light Dragoons, saw no combat action from 1802, when it returned from Egypt, until 1811, when it was in the Peninsula Campaign. The regiment entered Bordeaux in 1814, and fought at Waterloo the following year, entering Paris in July.15 It is not known whether Sir John Pringle was still serving at that time.


1 No portrait of Sir John Pringle has been traced. I am grateful to James Pringle, a descendant of Sir Norman Pringle (6th Baronet and Sir John Pringle’s brother), for this information and his advice generally concerning this biography of his ancestor.

2 For his holding this title by 1846, see The Times, 16 January 1846, p. 6, col. A.

3Burke’s Peerage 1999, p. 2315.

4Burke’s Peerage 1999. However, James Pringle advises me that Sir John may have left his estate to Sir James, 4th Baronet.

5 For a pastel portrait by Archibald Skirving (1749–1819) which may be of Emilia Anne Macleod, see Christie’s, London, 3 July 2012, lot 77.

6Burke’s Peerage 1999 and Burke’s Peerage 2003, p. 2529.

7 Information kindly supplied by James Pringle (email of 12 January 2009).

8The Times, 27 May 1834, p. 3, col. F.

9 Ibid., 10 December 1829, p. 2, col. D.

10 Ibid., 11 August 1932, p. 12, col. C.

11 He and Lady Elizabeth Pringle also brought up two orphaned grandchildren, one of whom became Lady Cathcart of Cluny, who collected pictures at her estate at Titness Park, Sunninghill, Berkshire: ibid., 11 August 1932, p. 12, col. C.

12Complete Baronetage 1904, p. 319.

13London Gazette, 8–11 March 1800, p. 240.

14 Ibid., 4–8 February 1806, p. 160.

15 Steve Brown, ‘British Cavalry Regiments and the Men Who Led Them 1793–1815’ in