Carmichael, John, third Earl of Hyndford 1701-1767, diplomatist, son of James, second earl, and Lady Elizabeth Maitland, only daughter of John, fifth earl of Lauderdale, was born at Edinburgh on 15 March 1701. He entered the third regiment of foot-guards, in which he became captain in 1733. He succeeded to his father's title and estates on 16 Aug. 1737, and was chosen a representative peer on 14 March 1738, and again in 1741, 1747, 1754, and 1761. He was appointed one of the lords of police in March 1738, and constituted sheriff-principal and lord-lieutenant of Lanark on 9 April 1739. In 1739 and 1740 he acted as lord high commissioner to the general assembly of the kirk of Scotland. When Frederick II invaded Silesia in 1741, the Earl of Hyndford was sent to George II as envoy extraordinary and plenipotentiary, to mediate between the king and Maria Theresa. Carlyle, in his Life of Frederick, thus delineates his characteristics We can discern a certain rough tenacity and horse-dealer finesse in the man; a broad-based, shrewdly practical Scotch gentleman, wide awake; and can conjecture that the diplomatic function in that element might have been in worse hands. He is often laid metaphorically at the king's feet, king of England's; and haunts personally the king of Prussia's elbow at all times, watching every glance of him like a British house-dog, that will not be taken in with suspicious travellers if he can help it; and casting perpetual horoscopes in his dull mind. It was in a great degree owing to the patience and persistence of Hyndford that the treaty of Breslau was finally signed on 11 June 1742. On its conclusion, Hyndford was nominated a knight of the Thistle, and was invested with the insignia of that order at Charlottenburg, on 29 Aug. 1742, by the king of Prussia, in virtue of a commission from George II. From Frederick he also received the gift of a silver dinner service, and was permitted the use of the royal Prussian arms, which now enrich the shield of the Carmichaels. In 1744 Hyndford was sent on a special mission to Russia, when his skilful negotiations greatly accelerated the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle. He left Moscow on 8 Oct. 1749, and after his return to England was, on 29 March 1750, sworn a privy councillor, and was appointed one of the lords of the bedchamber. In 1752 he was sent as ambassador to Vienna, where he remained till 1764. On his return he was appointed vice-admiral of Scotland, when he gave up his office at the board of police. The remainder of his life was spent at his seat in Lanarkshire, where he devoted his attention to the improvement and adornment of his estate. While occupied with his diplomatic duties abroad, he continued to take a constant interest in agricultural affairs. To encourage his tenants in the improvement of their lands, he granted to them leases of fifty-seven years' duration, and also introduced clauses in the new leases which have since met with the general approval of agriculturists. The fine plantations on the estates have been reared from seeds brought by him from Russia. He died on 19 July 1767. He was twice married: first, to Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Admiral Sir Clowdisley Shovell, and widow of the first Lord Romney; and secondly, to Jean, daughter of Benjamin Vigor of Fulham, Middlesex. By his first wife he had a son, who died in infancy, and by his second he had no issue. The earldom passed to his cousin, John Carmichael. The title became dormant or extinct on the death of the sixth earl in 1817. His correspondence while ambassador abroad is in the State Papers, and there are rough copies of it in the Additional MSS. in the British Museum.

     Douglas's Scottish Peerage (Wood), ii. 756-7
     Irving's Upper Ward of Lanarkshire, i. 24-5
     Carlyle's Frederick
     Add. MSS. 11365-87, 15870, 15946.

Contributor: T. F. H. [Thomas Finlayson Henderson]

Published: 1886