ANSTRUTHER, Sir John, 2nd Bt. (1718-99), of Anstruther and Elie, Fife.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



17 Jan. 1766 - 1774
1780 - Dec. 1782
1790 - Feb. 1793

Family and Education

b. 27 Dec. 1718, o. surv. s. of Sir John Anstruther, 1st Bt., by Lady Margaret Carmichael, da. of James, 2nd Earl of Hyndford [S]. educ. Glasgow Univ. 1733; ?Grand Tour. m. 4 Oct. 1750, Janet, da. of James Fall, merchant and provost of Dunbar, Haddington, 3s. 1da. surv. suc. fa. as 2nd Bt. 21 Sept. 1753, cos. Gen. Philip Anstruther of Airdrie, Fife 1760.

Offices Held


Anstruther was the head of an ancient Fife family which dominated the Anstruther Easter Burghs and possessed a considerable interest in the county. He was a man of some arrogance and was devoted to his wife, on whose whim he removed an entire village.1 He had an interest in whale fishing and at the end of his life wrote two treatises on husbandry. For 15 years he had been friendly with Henry Dundas, during which time the minister ‘was privy to all Sir John’s disappointments in his political views’, but by 1789 this friendship had cooled despite their political alliance.2 A further deterioration took place in 1789 owing to the conduct of Anstruther’s second son, John, who represented the burghs. Dundas, originally expecting Anstruther to remove his son at the next election, was surprised to hear a rumour that he intended not only to return him, but also to support Henry Erskine in the county. Dundas immediately threatened to renew an earlier attack on the burghs unless Anstruther desisted from both these courses and returned either himself ‘or any other approved friend’.3 After some hesitation, Anstruther secured his own return in a contest in 1790.

There is no evidence that Anstruther attended the House with any frequency after 1790 and no speeches of his are known during this period. The Whigs ventured to assert that if present he would have supported their bid to exempt Scotland from the Test Act, 10 May 1791.4 By 1793 his son had abandoned his opposition politics and Anstruther took the opportunity to retire in favour of his third son, Robert. He died 4 July 1799.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: D. G. Henry


  • 1. W. Wood, East Neuk of Fife (1887), 227-9.
  • 2. SRO GD51/1/198/10/12.
  • 3. Pol. State of Scotland 1788, p. 125; SRO GD51/1/198/10/11.
  • 4. Morning Chron. 19 May 1791.