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The Burns Encyclopedia
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Dempster, George (1732 — 1818)

A parliamentary orator famous in his day, and a Scottish patrot who was known as 'Honest George'. His parliamentary career as a member for Forfar burghs lasted from 1761 — 90. Burns makes several references to him; one in the 'Epistle to James Smith' ("A title, Dempster merits it"); another in 'The Vision' ("Hence, Dempster's zeal — inspired tongue"); and a third in 'The Author's Earnest Cry and Prayer' ("Dempster, a true blue Scot I'se warran'").

Dempster was a native of Dundee where his father and grandfather amassed considerable wealth by trading, and which he inherited while still young. He was educated at Dundee Grammar School, St Andrews University and Edinburgh where he became a member of the Faculty of Advocates. While in Parliament he supported the Rockingham Party and Pitt's financial plans. He also supported Fox's India Bill.

In 1786 he purchased the estate of Skibo in Sutherland, where he turned his attention to Scottish fishing and agriculture. He promoted the formation of a Society for the extension and protection of Scottish Fisheries. The Company bought large acres of land and built harbours, quays and storehouses, but was ruined by the outbreak of war with France in 1793. Dempster taught his countrymen how to pack their salmon in ice for transit to London and other large cities. He was a model landlord, resigning most of his feudal rights, and draining and improving the land and conditions of the peasantry. He spent the latter part of his life at his estate of Dunichen, near St Andrews, where his old friend Dr Adam Ferguson, founder of the Poker Club, lived.

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Complete Burns Songs

linn recordings of burns Linn Records have completed their landmark recording of all 368 Burns songs, available as individual CDs or a 12 volume presentation box set. We have full details. Click here...


Burns Music & Recordings
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Burns Chess Sets

Burns Chess SetsUnique collectors' pieces based on Burns' life and works. (The ideal gift for your Burns Supper guests!) Click here...

Scotweb Store

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