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James Dalyell, born in Edinburgh on 24 July 1798, was the illegitimate son of Sir James Dalyell, 5th Bart of the Binns, Linlithgow. He entered the Royal Navy in 1814 as a Volunteer and was stationed at St. Helena at the time of the death there of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1821. On qualifying as a ship's mate Dalyell served in the West Indies and was promoted to Lieutenant in 1826 on board the 'Tweed'. In 1827 he left the Navy and was placed on the half pay list. He went to live in France, and while there made strenuous attempts to secure a commission and promotion for himself mainly by seeking the assistance of his father. In France he made contact with his half-brother, Francis Aubert, but was repulsed by his mother. Dalyell undertook a series of extensive walking tours in France, with the aim of including descriptions of his experiences in a traveller's guide to France. In about 1835 he fathered a child, John James Dalyell, and married the mother, Marie Anne. Discouraged by his father from returning to Britain, Dalyell stayed on in France, mainly at Tarbes, until 1838. From 1838-1841 he served in the Coast Guard Service, mainly at Jury's Gap and Buckie. In 1841 he was re-commissioned in the Royal Navy as 1st Lieutenant aboard 'HMS Champion', stationed in the Pacific and off the NW coast of Mexico. In 1845 he left the Navy and rejoined the Coast Guard Service, serving at Burnmouth, Berwick, Stonehaven, Carnoustie and Buckie. From 1841 Dalyell conducted long correspondences with his uncles, Colonel (later General) Robert Dalyell, and Captain William Cunningham Cavendish Dalyell R.N., Governor of the Royal Hospital, Greenwich. It was not until 1859 that James Dalyell was granted a pension by the Coast Guard Service and enabled to retire under the designation of Commander. He lived at West Point House, Carnoustie, with his wife and son up to his death on 18 September 1869.