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Sir James Dick


c.1644 - 1728

Politician and wealthy merchant. Born in Edinburgh, Dick was the grandson of Sir William Dick (1580 - 1655), who made a fortune in business but died a pauper. Sir James was soon able to restore the family fortunes. He was able to buy the lands of Priestfield and add to this in 1677 by purchasing property and land from the Prestons of Craigmillar, renaming the resulting estate Prestonfield ten years later. He served as Member of Parliament for Edinburgh (1681-82) and Lord Provost of the City (1682-83). He cleaned the streets of the city as his own expense, removing the excrement to improve the land on his estate.

In 1682, Dick was with the Duke of York on the infamous voyage of the Gloucester en route from London to Leith, when the ship ran aground off the Norfolk coast and the Royal Duke (later King James VII) had to be hurriedly evacuated. Dick was saved but 130 lives were lost, including several nobles.

Dick died at his home, Prestonfield House in Edinburgh.


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