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Lt. Colonel William Duncan
“A man of very excellent appearance,”

by Falkirk Heritage




“A man of very excellent appearance,”

Commandant of the Eastern Battalion of the Stirlingshire Volunteers, and whose name has figured prominently in the excerpts we have given during the last few weeks entered the East India Company’s service in 1766, being attached to the 8th Regiment. His various appointments were as follows — Cadet, 1766; Cornet, Ensign, or Second Lieutenant, December 8, 1766; Lieutenant, April 2, 1768; Captain, August 2, 1774; Major,  January  28th, 1781;  Lieutenant-Colonel,  September  9,  1793; Retired on half pay, 1796.


The Arms British East India Company


The Arms, British East India Company

We have no information as to where Lieutenant-Colonel Duncan was born, but he settled in our district about 1799, when he appears to have purchased part of the lands of Glenfuir, Falkirk residing in the house of that name erected in 1763-64. In heritors’ affairs, he took an active part, and, as we have seen, he was keenly alive to the necessity for keeping our citizen army in a thorough state of preparedness during the period when Napoleon threatened our shores. Colonel Duncan, with his wife and family, appear to have left Falkirk and settled in Dublin, as during the last two years of his life he was a prisoner for debt under a Coroner’s warrant, at the State side of Newgate Prison, Dublin. His death, which took place there on 25th November, 1830, was very sudden, and from various peculiarities which Colonel Duncan latterly exhibited, he was much spoken of in and out of prison, and various reports had got into circulation respecting the cause of death.

A searching inquest was held by Alderman Archer into all the circumstances attending Colonel Duncan’s death, but we have no space for particulars. Suffice it to say, that he had become addicted to the drinking of laudanum, from which it was thought he had died. The inquest, which lasted upwards of seven hours, was closed by the jury ascertaining that Colonel Duncan’s death was occasioned by excessive use of laudanum. They returned a verdict of “Died by the Visitation of God.”

  Acknowledgements: © Copyright Falkirk Heritage Society  

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