Cuming, Sir Alexander

, bart. a man of considerable talents, unhappily, in some respects, misapplied, was the son of Alexander Cuming of Coulter, who was created a baronet in 1695, and was born probably about the beginning of the last century. It appears by his Journal, which was in the possession of the late Isaac Reed, esq. that he was bred to the law of Scotland, but was induced to quit that profession in consequence of a pension of 300l. per annum being assigned him by government, either, as he intimates, for services done by his family, or expected from himself. This pension was | withdrawn in 1721, at the instance, according to his account, of sir Robert Walpole, who had conceived a pique against his father, for opposing him in parliament. It is mors probable, however, that he was found too visionary a schemer to fulfil what was expected from him. In 1129 he was induced, by a dream of lady Cunaing’s, to undertake a voyage to America, for the purpose of visiting the Cherokee nations. He left England on Sept. 13, and arrived at Charlestown Dec. 5. On March 11 following, he set out for the Indians country; and on April 3, 1730, he was crowned commander, and chief ruler of the Cherokee nations in a general meeting of chiefs at Nequisee among the mountains; he returned to Charlestown April 13, with six Indian chiefs, and on June 5, arrived at Dover. On the 18th he presented the chiefs to George II. at Windsor, where he laid his crown at his majesty’s feet: the chiefs also did homage, laying four scalps at the king’s feet, to show that they were an overmatch for their enemies, and five eagles’ tails as emblems of victory. These circumstances are confirmed by the newspapers of that time, which are full of the proceedings of the Cherokees whilst, in England, and speak of them as brought over by sir Alexander Cuming. Their portraits were engraved on a single sheet. Sir Alexander says in his Journal, that whilst he was in America in 1729, he found such injudicious notions of liberty prevail, as were inconsistent with any kind of government, particularly with their dependence on the British nation. This suggested to him the idea of establishing banks in each of the provinces dependent on the British exchequer, and accountable to the British parliament, as the only means of securing the dependency of the colonies. But it was not till 1748 (as it appears) that he laid his plans before the minister (the right hon. Henry Pelham) who treated him as a visionary enthusiast, which his journal indeed most clearly indicates him to have been. He connected this scheme with the restoration of the Jews, for which he supposed the time appointed to be arrived, and that he himself was alluded to in various passages of Scripture as their deliverer. He was not, like a late enthusiast, to conduct them to the Holy Land, but proposed to take them to the Cherokee mountains: wild as his projects were, some of the most learned Jews (among whom was Isaac Netto, formerly grand rabbi of the Portuguese synagogue) seem to have given him several patient | hearings upon the subject. When the minister refused tollsten to his schemes, he proposed to open a subscription himself for 500,000l. to establish provincial banks in America, and to settle 300,000 Jewish families among the Cherokee mountains. From one wild project he proceeded to another; and being already desperately involved in debt, he turned his thoughts to alchemy, and began to try experiments on the transmutation of metal. He was supported principally by the contributions of his friends: till at length, in 1766, archbishop Seeker appointed him one of the pensioners in the Charter-house, where he died at a very advanced age in August 1775, and was buried at East Bavnet, where lady Cuming had been buried in 1743. He appears to have been a man of learning., and to have possessed talents, which, if they had not been under a wrong bias, might have been beneficial to himself and useful to his country. His son, who succeeded him in his title, became deranged in his intellects, and died some years ago, in a state of indigence, in the neighbourhood of Red-lionstreet, Whitechapel. He had been a captain in the army: the title became extinct at his death. 1


For this article we are entirely indebted to Lysons’s Environs, vol. IV.