Lieutenant Primrose Dalrymple and Susan Orr

Hugh Dalrymple, father of the celebrated courtesan Grace Dalrymple Elliott, had two surviving brothers, Cathcart Dalrymple, a Glasgow merchant and Primrose Dalrymple, a naval officer.  Primrose’s wonderfully unusual forename is given a possible explanation in our book An Infamous Mistress: The Life, Loves and Family of the celebrated Grace Dalrymple Elliot.

Primrose had a steady naval career, dying in London at the age of only thirty years and, in his will, leaving everything he owned to the woman he had loved and had intended to marry.

Miniature of an unknown naval officer, c.1770 (via Ruby Lane).
Miniature of an unknown naval officer, c.1770 (via Ruby Lane).

Primrose’s intended spouse was his cousin Susan, the daughter of the Reverend Alexander Orr and his aunt Agnes Dalrymple and, from his will written in 1766, he clearly loved her deeply.  The marriage never took place though for Primrose died in 1767 and Susan, after a year of mourning for her lost love, married another man, William Murray of Murraythwaite. She was keeping it in the family too!  William Murray’s mother was Elizabeth Dalrymple, and William Murray was therefore also related to both Susan Orr and Primrose Dalrymple.

Susan’s brother was Alexander Orr, a man who would become a Writer to the Signet, trusted (perhaps mistakenly) by all the extended Dalrymple and Brown family (Grace’s maternal relatives); he was named as executor on Primrose’s will but left it unadministered until 1773 when it was finally proved.  Neither Hugh nor his family were mentioned at all in the will despite Hugh living in London and being the closest geographically to Primrose at his death, hinting at a rift in the family.

Lieutenant Primrose Dalrymple was buried in the churchyard of St Mary’s, Islington on 17th April 1767.

St Mary's, Islington in 1821 via Grosvenor Prints.
St Mary’s, Islington in 1821 via Grosvenor Prints.

You can find out more details of Grace Dalrymple Elliott’s extended family in our biography of her, available now at all good bookshops and via the links above and in the sidebar.

An Infamous Mistress: The Life, Loves and Family of the Celebrated Grace Dalrymple Elliott by Joanne Major and Sarah Murden.

Featured image

Overmantle painting of Newport c.1740 from a private collection via “Another Pair Not Fellows“; Adventures in Research and Reinterpreting the American Revolution

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