Major-General Sir John Malcolm, GCB

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About Major-General Sir John Malcolm, GCB


was the seventh of seventeen children and the fourth son of George Malcolm of Burnfoot (1729-1803) and his wife, Margaret Paisley (1742-1811). He was born at Burnfoot in Eskdale, Dumfriesshire, Scotland, on 2 May 1769 [The Journal of the Paisley Family Society (December 1998), Volume 10, page 15] and died at Prince’s Street, Hanover Square, London, England, on 30 May 1833 [Electric Scotland]

In an article written for the Journal of the Paisley Family Society, which he entitled 'The Mother of Heroes, Bonnie Peggy Paisley (1742-1811) and her 17 Children', John Malcolm says this of his kinsmen: John was the most famous of Margaret's sons. Through the good offices of their well connected neighbours, the Johnstones of Westerhall, a nomination to a cadetship in the East India Company's Madras army was obtained for him. At the age of 12 John was taken by his maternal uncle, John Paisley, by stagecoach to London for an interview with the full board of the EIC - a daunting experience for a boy who had never previously left Eskdale. As had been feared, he was well on the way to being rejected because of his youth, when a director asked him, "Why, my little man, what would you do if you were to meet Hyder Ali tomorrow?" (Hyder Ali was at that time Sultan of Mysore, and a thorn in the side of EIC designs in India). "Do, Sir," John replied, no doubt in a strong Scottish brogue, "I would out wi' my sword and cut of his head". He was immediately passed. Such boldness in a twelve year old says a lot about his parents and his upbringing. John reached Madras in 1783, aged 13, and was initially looked after by a Mrs. Ogilvie, the recently remarried widow of another maternal uncle, Gilbert Paisley, who had been a senior surgeon in the Madras army. From then on, John never looked back. He became distinguished as a soldier (Major General), diplomat (ambassador to Persia and to several Indian princely courts), administrator (ruler of Central India and later Governor of Bombay) and scholar (author of seven books, including a much admired History of Persia). One of his closest friends was the Duke of Wellington, whom he met in India in 1798, and remained on intimate terms with for the rest of his life. He was knighted in 1812 and died in 1833, aged 64 [The Journal of the Paisley Family Society (December 1998), Volume 10, page 17, pp. 13-19 for full article].

[The Journal of the Paisley Family Society, Volume 10. See pp. 13-19 for The Mother of Heroes. Bonnie Peggy Paisley (1742-1811) and her Seventeen Children, by John Malcolm]


Major-general Sir John Malcolm (2 May 1769 – 30 May 1833) was a Scottish soldier, statesman, and historian.