James Maitland Balfour

James Maitland Balfour

from his memorial
Born 5 January 1820
Died 23 February 1856
Funchal, Madeira
Nationality British
Children Arthur Balfour

James Maitland Balfour (5 January 1820 – 23 February 1856), of Whittinghame, East Lothian, was a Scottish land-owner and businessman. He made a fortune in the 19th-century railway boom, and inherited a significant portion of his father's great wealth.

He was a Conservative Member of Parliament in the 1840s, and was the father of Prime Minister Arthur Balfour, 1st Earl of Balfour.


The Balfour monument

Balfour was the son of James Balfour (c.1775–1845) and his wife Lady Eleanor, daughter of James Maitland, 8th Earl of Lauderdale. He was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge.[1]

Balfour inherited his father's neo-classical mansion Whittingehame House and his Highland estate at Strathconan, as well as a house in Grosvenor Square, London.[2] He also inherited his father's business skills, and became a director of the North British Railway at the height of the railway mania, which earned him a fortune.[3]

He served as Member of Parliament for Haddington from 1841 until 1847 and was also Major Commandant of the East Lothian Yeomanry Cavalry, who erected the Balfour Monument in his honour overlooking Traprain Law, 2 12 miles (4.0 km) south west of East Linton in Scotland.

Balfour married Lady Blanche Mary Harriet Gascoyne-Cecil, daughter of James Gascoyne-Cecil, 2nd Marquess of Salisbury, on 15 August 1843 (her brother Robert later became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom). They had eight children, five sons and three daughters:[4]

Balfour died of tuberculosis on 23 February 1856 in Funchal, Madeira, aged 36. Lady Blanche Balfour died in 1872.


  1. "Balfour, James Maitland (BLFR838JM)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  2. Fisher, David R. (2009). R. D.R. Fisher, ed. "BALFOUR, James (c.1775-1845), of Whittinghame, Haddington; Balgonie, Fife, and 3 Grosvenor Square, Mdx". The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  3. Zebel, Sydney H. (2008). Balfour: A Political Biography. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521088817. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  4. "Balfour", Cracroft's Peerage, retrieved 22 June 2014
  5. Opitz, Donald L. "“Behind folding shutters in Whittingehame House”: Alice Blanche Balfour (1850–1936) and amateur natural history." Archives of Natural History 31, no. 2 (2004): 330–348. doi:10.3366/anh.2004.31.2.330
  6. 1 2 "Colonel Eustace James Anthony Balfour". Dictionary of Scottish architects. Retrieved 22 June 2014.
  7. Huffman, Joan B. "Balfour [née Campbell], Lady Frances (1858–1931), suffragist leader and churchwoman". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/30554. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Robert Steuart
Member of Parliament for Haddington Burghs
Succeeded by
Sir Henry Ferguson Davie
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