The Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women: From the Earliest Times to 2004

By Elizabeth Ewan; Sue Innes et al. | Go to book overview
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DALRYMPLE, Christian, born Newhailes, Lothian, 30 Dec. 1765, died Newhailes 9 Jan. 1838. Landowner, diarist. Daughter of Anne Broun of Coalstoun, and Sir David Dalrymple Bt, later Lord Hailes, judge and historian.

Christian Dalrymple's mother died when she was two years old; her father later remarried and her half-sister, Jean, was born in 1777. She grew up in Newhailes House near Musselburgh, where Lord Hailes entertained such figures as David Hume and Samuel Johnson in his magnificent library. He encouraged Christian Dalrymple to explore her literary potential from an early age. From 1798 until her death, she kept a journal which survives, recording the social contacts, household management and travels of a well-off upper-class woman. She inherited the Newhailes estate in 1792, the baronetcy passing to a male cousin. Anecdotal evidence suggests that her father's will was found as she was preparing to leave the house. Since he had successfully pleaded the descent of Scottish titles to and through women in the case of *Elizabeth, Countess of Sutherland, he presumably thought his daughter capable of running Newhailes. She managed the estate well, including negotiating the sale, lease and purchase of land, using the ice house, building a stable block. Despite initially petitioning against the railway, in 1834 she sold some land to the railway company. On tours round Britain, she visited churches, stately homes, the model community at New Lanark and Walter Scott's home at Abbotsford. She visited and corresponded with Lady Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby in Llangollen, North Wales, attended art exhibitions and the theatre, and associated with many notable figures. Christian Dalrymple's journals reveal a way of life and demonstrate her diligence in preserving the essence of the estate. The long-neglected Newhailes House was opened to the public in 2002 under the auspices of the National Trust for Scotland. EL

NLS: MSS 25454–25499, Corr., journals and miscellaneous papers.

Dalrymple, C. [1812] (1914) Private Annals of My Own Time, 1765–1812, H. Dalrymple, ed. The Scotsman, 27 May 2002.

DALRYMPLE, Learmonth White (Leah), baptised Coupar Angus 21 July 1827, died Dunedin, New Zealand, 27 August 1906. Campaigner for girls' education. Daughter of Jessie Taylor, and William Dalrymple, ironmongery merchant.

Schooled at Madras College, St Andrews, and fluent in French through European travel, Leah Dalrymple always believed her education inadequate and spoke of her 'hopeless yearning for mental culture' (Otago Daily Times, 17 Dec. 1896, supp.). After her mother died in 1840, she cared for her seven younger siblings. In 1853, the family moved to New Zealand to Otago, near Dunedin, settled from Scotland just five years before. There she kept house for her father and three siblings on their farm. The discovery of gold in 1861 brought wealth, population and education to Otago. When a boys' high school opened in Dunedin in 1863, Leah Dalrymple began a seven-year campaign for a high school for girls. Imbued equally with determination and decorum, she gathered together a women's committee, approached the Provincial Council, and wrote around 800 letters to British educationalists, accepting Frances Buss's dictum that girls' education should 'in all essential points be assimilated to that of boys' (Buss to Dalrymple, ODT, 10 June 1869). Otago Girls' High School, the first state secondary school for girls in New Zealand, opened in 1871. Leah Dalrymple then transferred her lobbying skills to petitioning for the 'admittance of ladies' to the new University of Otago. In August 1871, Otago became the first university in Australasia to admit women. She also taught Sunday school and supported the kindergarten movement. Moving to Feilding in 1881 to be near her brother, she joined the New Zealand WCTU campaign for women's suffrage, achieved in 1893. DP

Hocken Library, Dunedin: (HL) Univ. of Otago, Council Minutes, 1871; Letters and Papers, 1871; HL: Otago Provincial Council, Votes and Proceedings, 1864, 1865, 1869; Education Reports, 1869–72.

Grimshaw, P. (1972) Women's Suffrage in New Zealand; Otago Daily Times, 10 June 1869,17 Dec. 1896; Page, D. (1990) 'Dalrymple, Learmonth White', DNZB, vol. I; Thompson, G. (1921) History of Otago University; Trotter, M. (1983) William and Isabella Trotter [private, Invercargill, Trotter Family]; Wallis, E. (1972) A Most Rare Vision.


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