Entry in The Scottish Nation

MALCOLM, a surname originally Gillecolane or Gillechallum, derived from two Gaelic words signifying the servant of St.Columba. Somerled, thane of Argyle, had a son of this name, who was slain with him near Renfrew in 1164.

The chief of the clan Challum or the MacCallums, an Argyleshire sept. originally styled the clan Challum of Ariskeodnish, is Malcolm of Poltalloch, whose family has been settled from a very early period in that county. One of this house, titled Zachary Uad Donald Mor of Pultalloch, was killed May 25, 1647, at Ederline, in South Argyle, in single combat with Sir Alexander Macdonald, titled Allaster Mac Collkittoch, or left-handed He was in the force of the marquis of Argyle when General David Leslie advanced into Kintyre to drive out the royalists, and was renowned in his day for his great strength. It is alleged that he slew seven of his assailants before he was himself slain. He was getting the better of Colkitto, when a Maclean came behind him with a scythe and hamstrung him; he was then easily overpowered.

In 1414, Sir Duncan Campbell of Lochow granted to Reginald Malcolm of Corbarron, certain lands of Craignish, and on the banks of Loch Avich, in Nether Lorn; with the office of hereditary constable of his castles of Lochafly and Craignish. This branch became extinct towards the end of the 17th century, as Corbsarron or Corran is said to have been bequeathed by the last of the family to Zachary MacCallum of Poltalloch, who succeeded his father in 1686.

Dugald Maccallum of Poltalloch, who inherited the estate in 1779, appears to have been the first to adopt permanently the name of Malcolm as the family patronymic. Besides Poltalloch, the family possesses Kilmartin house and Duntroon castle, in the same county.

John Malcolm, Esq., of Poltalloch, born in 1805, a magistrate and deputy-lieutenant for Argyleshire and Kent. succeeded his brother, Neill in 1857. Educated at Harrow and Oxford, he became B.A. in 1827 and M.A. in 1850. He married 2d daughter of the Hon. John Wingfield. Stratford, son of 3d Viscount Powerscourt, with issue. Heir, his son, John Wingfield.

The Malcolms of Balbeadie and Grange. Fifeshire, possess a baronetcy of Nova Scotia, conferred in 1665. In the reign of Charles I., Sir John Malcolm, eldest son of John Malcolm of Balbeadie, acquired the lands of Lochore in the same county. A branch of the Malcolms of Lochore and Innertiel settled in Dumfriesshire.

In 1746, Sir Michael Malcolm, baronet, being related to the last Lord Balmerino, was sent for to be present at his execution on Tower-hill. A daughter of Lord Chancellor Bathurst saw him on the scaffold, and fell in love with him He subsequently married her. Sir Michael sold the estate of Lochore, which subsequently came into the possession of Mr. Jobson, whose daughter married the 2d Sir Walter Scott, baronet.

On Sir Michael's death, the title devolved upon James Malcolm of Grange, and at the death of the latter in 1795, upon John Malcolm of Balbeadie, descended from the youngest brother of the first baronet. Sir John's son, Sir Michael Malcolm, married in 1824, Mary, youngest daughter of John Forbes, Esq., of Bridgend, Perth, and with three daughters, had one son, Sir John Malcolm born April 1, 1828, who succeeded to the baronetcy, on the. death of his father in 1883.

        Eminent Malcolms

Malcolm, Sir Pulteney, a distiguished naval officer, an elder brother of Sir John Malcolm, the subject of the following notice, was born at Douglan, near Langholm, Dumfries-shire, February 20,1768. His father, George Malcolm farmer, Burnfoot, had, by his wife, the daughter o James Pasley, Esq. of Craig and Burn, 17 children Robert, the eldest son, at his death was high in the civil service of the East India Company; James Pulteney, and John, the next three sons, were honoured with the insignia of knights commanders of the Bath at the same time, the first for his distinguished services in Spain and North America when commanding a battalion of royal marines and Sir John, for his military and diplomatic ser­vices in India. The younger sons were Gilbert rector of Todenham; David, in a commercial house in India ; and Admiral Sir Charles Malcolm, of whom a memoir is given at page 99.

Pulteney entered the navy, October 20, 1778 as a midshipman on board the Sybille frigate, com­manded by his maternal uncle, Captain Pasley with whom he sailed to the Cape of Good Hope and on his return thence, removed with him into the Jupiter, of which he was appointed lieutenant in March 1783.    At the commencement of the French revolutionary war, he was first lieutenant of the Penelope at Jamaica; in which ship he as­sisted at the capture of the Inconstante frigate, and Gaelon corvette, both of which he conducted to Port Royal in safety.   He also commanded the boats of the Penelope in several severe conflicts, and succeeded in cutting out many vessels from the ports of St. Domingo.   In April 1794 he was made a commander, when he joined the Jack Tar; and upon Cape Nichola Mole being taken posses­sion of by the British, he had the direction of the seamen and marines landed to garrison that place. In October 1794 he was promoted to the rank of post captain, and the following month was ap­pointed to the Fox frigate, with which he subse­quently served in the North Sea.   Having pro­ceeded with a convoy to the East Indies, he cap­tured on that station La Modeste, of 20 guns.   In 1797 the duke of Wellington, then Colonel Wel-lesley, of the 33d regiment, took a passage with Captain Malcolm, in the Fox, from the Cape of Good Hope to Bengal.   He afterwards served in the Suffolk, the Victorious, and the Royal Sover­eign ; and in March 1805 was appointed to the Donegal, in which he accompanied Lord Nelson in the memorable pursuit of the combined squa­drons of France and Spain to the West Indies.

On his return to the Channel, Captain Malcolm was sent to reinforce Admiral Collingwood off Cadiz. Four days previous to the battle of Trafalgar, the Donegal, being short of water, and greatly in need of a refit, was ordered to Gibral­tar. On the 20th October Captain Malcolm re­ceived information that the enemy's fleets were quitting Cadiz. His ship was then in the Mole nearly dismantled, but by the greatest exertions he succeeded in getting her out before night, and on the 23d joined Admiral Collingwood in time to capture El Rayo, a Spanish three-decker. To­wards the close of 1805 the Donegal accompanied Sir John Duckworth to the West Indies, in quest of a French squadron that had sailed for that quarter; and in the battle fought off St. Domingo, February 6, 1806, Captain Malcolm greatly dis­tinguished himself. On his return to England, he was honoured with a gold medal for Ms con­duct in the action, and, in common with the other officers of the squadron, received the thanks of both houses of parliament.

In the summer of 1808 he escorted the army under General Wellesley from Cork to Portugal, and for his exertions in disembarking the troops, he received the thanks of Sir John Moore and Sir Arthur Wellesley.   The Donegal was subsequent­ly attached to the Channel fleet under the orders of Sir John Gambier; and after the discomfiture of the French ships in Aix Roads in April 1809, Captain Malcolm was sent with a squadron on a cruise.     He next commanded the blockade of Cherbourg, on which station the ships under his orders captured a number of privateers, and on one occasion drove two frigates on shore near Cape La Hogue.   In 1811 the Donegal was paid off, when Captain Malcolm was appointed to the Royal Oak, a new 74, in which he continued off Cherbourg until March 1812, when he removed nto the San Josef, 110 guns, as captain of the Channel fleet under Lord Keith.   In the subse­quent August he was promoted to the rank of col­onel of marines, and December 4, 1813, was ap­pointed rear-admiral.   In June 1814 he hoisted his flag in the Royal Oak, and proceeded to North America with a body of troops, under Brigadier-general Ross. Soon after his arrival, he accom­panied Sir Alexander Cochrane on an expedition up the Chesapeake, when the duty of regulating the collection, embarkation, and re-embarkation of the troops employed against Washington, Bal­timore, and New Orleans, devolving upon him, he performed it in a manner that obtained the warmest acknowledgments of the commander-in-chief. He was afterwards employed at the siege of Fort Boyer, on Mobile Point, the surrender of which, by capitulation, on February 14, termi­nated the war between Great Britain and the United States.

At the extension of the order of the Bath into three classes, January 2, 1815, Admiral Malcolm was nominated, with his two brothers, a knight commander. After his arrival in England, on the renewal of hostilities with France, in consequence of the return of Napoleon from Elba, he was ap­pointed commander-in-chief of the naval force ordered to co-operate with the duke of Welling­ton and the allied armies, on which service he continued until after the restoration of the Bour­bons. His last appointment was to the important office of commander-in-chief on the St. Helena station, where he continued from the spring of 1816 until the end of 1817. By the cordiality of his disposition and manners, he not only obtained the confidence, but won the regard of the emperor Napoleon. "Ah! there is a man," he exclaimed in reference to Sir Pulteney Malcolm, uwith a countenance really pleasing: open, frank, and sin­cere. There is the face of an Englishman—his countenance bespeaks his heart; and I am sure he is a good man. I never yet beheld a man of whom I so immediately formed a good opinion as of that fine soldier-like old man. He carries his head erect, and speaks out openly and boldly what he thinks, without being afraid to look you in the face at the time. His physiognomy would make every person desirous of a further acquaint­ance, and render the most suspicious confident in him." One day when fretting at the unjust treat­ment he received, he exclaimed to the admiral, " Does your government mean to detain me upon this rock until my death's day? " Sir Pulteney replied, " Such I apprehend is their purpose."

" Then the term of my life will soon arrive," said Napoleon." " I hope not, Sir," answered Sir Pulteney, " I hope you will survive to record your great actions, which are so numerous, and the task will insure you a term of long life." Napo­leon felt the compliment and acknowledged it by a bow, and soon recovered his good humour. On his deathbed he paid a well-merited tribute to the generosity and benevolence of Sir Pulteney, whose conduct at St. Helena is described by Sir Walter Scott in his 'Life of Napoleon,' in a manner highly honourable to him. He was advanced to the rank of vice-admiral July 19, 1821, and of admiral January 10, 1837. He died July 20, 1838. A monument has been erected to his mem­ory. Subjoined is his portrait:

Sir Pulteney Malcolm married, January 18, 1809, Clementina, eldest daughter of the Hon. W. F. Elphinstone.


Malcolm, Sir John, a distinguished soldier and diplomatist, a younger brother of the subject of the foregoing memoir, was born May 2, 1769, on the farm of Burnfoot, near Langholm, in Dumfriesshire. In 1782 he went out to the East Indies as a cadet in the Company's service. On his arrival he was placed under the care of his uncle Dr. Gilbert Pasley, and assiduously applied him­self to the study of the manners and languages of the East. The abilities which he displayed at the siege of Seringapatam, in 1792, attracted the notice of Lord Cornwallis, who appointed him Persian interpreter to a body of British troops in the ser­vice of one of the native princes. In 1794, in consequence of bad health, he revisited his native country; but the following year he returned to India on the staff of Field-marshal Sir Alured Clarke; and for his conduct at the taking of the Cape of Good Hope, he received the public thanks of that officer. In 1797 he obtained a captain's commission. In 1799 he was ordered to join the Nizam's contingent force in the war against Tippoo Saib, with the chief command of the infantry, in which post he continued till the surrender of Seringapatam, where he highly distinguished him­self. He was then appointed joint secretary, with Captain, afterwards Sir Thomas Muuro, to the commissioners for settling the new government of Mysore. In the same year he was sent by Lord Wellesley on a diplomatic mission to Persia, a country which no British ambassador had visited since the reign of Queen Elizabeth.

Captain Malcolm returned to Bombay in 1801, when he was appointed private secretary to the governor-general, who stated to the secret com­mittee that u he had succeeded in establishing a connection with the actual government of the Per­sian empire, which promised to British natives in India political and commercial advantages of the most important description." In January 1802 lie was promoted to the rank of major; and on the death of the Persian ambassador, who was accidentally shot at Bombay, he was again sent to Persia to make the necessary arrangements for the renewal of the embassy. In February 1803 he was appointed Resident with the rajah of My­sore ; and in December 1804 he attained the rank of lieutenant-colonel. In June 1805 he was no­minated chief agent of the governor-general, in which capacity he continued to act till March 1806, during which period he concluded several important treaties with native princes.

On the arrival in India, in April 1808, of the new governor-general, Lord Minto, he dispatched Colonel Malcolm on a mission to Persia, with the view of endeavouring to counteract the designs of Napoleon, who then threatened an invasion of India from that quarter. In this difficult embassy, however, he did not wholly succeed. He returned in the following August, and soon after proceeded to his residency at Mysore. Early in 1810, owing to a change in the policy of the Persian court, he was again appointed ambassador to Persia, where he remained till the nomination of Sir Gore Ouse-ley as minister plenipotentiary. On his departure the shah conferred upon him the order of the Sun and Lion, presented him with a valuable sword, and made him a khan and sepahdar of tho empire.

In 1812 Colonel Malcolm again visited England, and soon after his arrival received the honour of knighthood. The same year he published, in one volume, ' A Sketch of the Sikhs, a singular Na­tion in the province of the Punjaub, in India.' In 1815 appeared his 4 History of Persia,' in 2 vols. 4to, which is valuable from the information it contains, taken from oriental sources, regarding the religion, government, manners, and customs of the inhabitants of that country, in ancient as well as in modem times. He returned to India in 1817, and on his arrival was attached, as political agent of the governor-general, to the force under Sir Thomas Hislop in the Deccan. With the rank of brigadier-general, he was appointed to the command of the third division of the army, and greatly distinguished himself in the decisive battle of Mehidpoor, when the army under Mulhar Rao Holkar was completely routed. For his skill and valour on this occasion he received the thanks of the house of commons, on the motion of Mr. Canning, who declared that u the name of this gallant officer will be remembered in India as long as the British flag is hoisted in that country." His conduct was also noticed by the prince regent, who expressed his regret that the circumstance of his not having attained the rank of major-general prevented his being then created a knight grand cross, which honour, however, was conferred on him in 1821.

After the termination of the war with the Mahrrattas and Pindarries, he received the military and political command of Malwa, and succeeded in establishing the Company's authority, both in that province and the other territories adjacent, which had been ceded to them.

In April 1822 he returned once more to Britain with the rank of major-general. Shortly after, he was presented by the officers who had acted under him in the late war with a superb vase, valued at £1,500. The court of directors of the East India Company likewise testified their sense of his merits by a grant to him of £1,000 a-year. In July 1827 he was appointed governor of Bombay, which important post he resigned in 1831, and finally returned to Britain. On quitting India, he received many gratifying instances of the esteem and high consideration in which he was held. The principal European gentlemen of Bombay re­quested him to sit for his statue, which was exe­cuted by Chantrey, and erected in that city; the members of the Asiatic Society requested a bust of him for their library; the native gentlemen of Bombay solicited his portrait, to be placed in the public room; the East India Amelioration Society voted him a service of plate; and the United So­ciety Y>f Missionaries, including English, Scots, and Americans, acknowledged with gratitude the assistance they had received from him in the pro­secution of their pious labours.

Subjoined is Sir John Malcolm's portrait:

Soon after his arrival in England in 1831, he was elected M.P. for Launceston, and took an ac­tive part in the proceedings in the house of com­mons upon several important questions, particu­larly the Scottish reform bill, which he warmly opposed. After the dissolution of parliament in 1832 he offered himself for Carlisle, but being un­successful, he retired to his seat near Windsor, and employed himself in writing a Treatise upon 1 The Government of India,1 with the view of elu­cidating the difficult questions relating to the re­newal of the East India Company's charter, which was published only a few weeks previous to his death. His last address in public was at a meet­ing in the Thatched House Tavern, London, for the purpose of forming a subscription to buy up the mansion of Abbotsford for the family of the great novelist; and on that occasion his concluding sentiment was " that when he was gone, his son might be proud to say that his father had been among the contributors to that shrine of genius." On the day following he was struck with paralysis, and died at London, May 8th,1833. A monument has been erected to his memory in Westminster Abbey, and also an obelisk, 100 feet high, on Langholm hill, in his native parish of Westerkirk. He married, in June 1807, Charlotte, daughter of Sir Alexander Campbell, Bart., by whom he had five children.

Sir John Malcolm's works are:

Sketch of the Political History of India, from the Intro­duction of Mr. Pitt's Bill, a. d. 1784, to the present date. London, 1811, 8vo.

Sketch of the Sikhs, a nation who inhabit the provinces of the Punjaub, situated between the rivers Jumna and Indus in India. London, 1812, 8vo.

Observations on the Disturbances in the Madras Army in 1809 : in 2 parts. London, 1812, 8vo.

History of Persia, from the most early period to the present time, containing an account of the religion, government, usages, and character of the inhabitants of that kingdom. London, 1815, 2 vols. 4to.

A memoir of Central India, including Malwa and adjoining Provinces, with the history and copious illustrations of the past and present condition of that country. London, 1823, 2 vols. 8vo.

The Political History of India from 1784 to 1823. Lond., 1826, 2 vols. 8vo.

The Government of India.    London, 1833, 8vo.

The Life of Robert, Lord Olive, collected from the Family Papers, communicated by the earl of Powis. London, 1836, 3 vols. 8vo. Posthumous.


Malcolm, Sir Charles, an eminent naval officer, the tenth son of George Malcolm of Burnfoot, and youngest brother of the preceding, was born at Burnfoot, Dumfries-shire, in 1782, and entered the navy in 1791, when only nine years old. In 1798, he was master's mate of the Fox, of 32 guns, commanded by his brother, Pulteney, when, with the Sybille, of 38 guns, that ship entered the Spanish harbour of Manilla, the capital of the Philippines, under French colours, and in the face of three ships of the line and three frig­ates, succeeded in capturing seven boats, taking prisoner 200 men, and carrying off a large quan­tity of ammunition and materials of war. In 1807, he got the command of the Narcissus, 32. On board this ship he attacked a convoy of 30 sail in the Conquet Roads, on which occasion he was slightly wounded. In 1809, he assisted in the capture of Les Saintes, islands in the West Indies. In June of the same year he was appointed to the Rhine, 88, in which he actively co-operated with the patriots on the north coast of Spain.

Subsequently he served in the West Indies, and on the coast of Brazil. On July 18, 1815, he landed and stormed a fort at Corrigion near Abervack, which was the last exploit of the kind achieved during the war. In July 1822, he was nominated to the command of the William and Mary, royal yacht, lying at Dublin, in attendance on the lord-lieutenant; and in 1826, to the Royal Charlotte, yacht, on the same service. In 1827 he was knighted by the Marquis Wellesley, then lord-lieutenant of Ireland. Soon after he was ap­pointed superintendent of the Bombay marine.

During the ten years that he held that office, he effected a complete reform in the administration of the service, and converted its previous system into that of the Indian navy. He also instituted many extensive and important surveys, and was prominently concerned in the establishment of steam navigation in the Red Sea. In 1837 he was promoted to the rank of rear-admiral, and in 1847 to that of vice-admiral. 

He died at Brighton, June 14, 1851, aged 69. He married first in 1808, his cousin, Magdalene, daughter of Charles Pasley, Esq., issue, one daughter; and, 2dly, in 1829, Elmira Riddell, youngest daughter of Major-general Shaw, and by her had three sons, two of whom entered the navy.


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Tom Paterson - Last updated 25 Jan 2019