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Captain James Macrae of Holmains


? - 1820

Notorious duellist. Macrae was an officer in the Irish Carabiniers. He retired to Edinburgh and took up residence in Marionville House in the Restalrig district of the city around 1790. Popular in social circles of the time, Macrae also owned estates in Dumfriesshire. However he suffered from a terrible temper, together with an absurd sense of honour and pride, and these made a fool of him on several occasions. An argument with the servant of Macrae's friend Sir George Ramsay of Bamff resulted in an extended correspondence between Ramsay and Macrae. This escalated to the extent that the two men faced each-other in a duel on Musselburgh Links, with the surgeon Dr Benjamin Bell (1749 - 1806) in attendance. Ramsay fired first, grazing Macrae's neck. Although Macrae had claimed he would fire in the air rather than at his friend, he took deliberate aim and mortally wounded Ramsay. Realising he was in serious trouble, Macrae fled to France and was tried and convicted in his absence.


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