Vandeleur, John Scott (1791–p. 1833), landlord, was born in Co. Clare, first son of Col. Boyle Vandeleur of Ralahine, Co. Clare, and his wife Diana, daughter of John Scott of Cahircon, Co. Clare. He was educated at the school of the Rev. Louis Kerr, entered TCD in May 1805 aged fourteen, and graduated BA (1808).
He inherited the family estate on his father's death, and in 1828 was one of a group of Clare landlords who signed a petition protesting against the election of Daniel O'Connell (qv). Renowned as a harsh landlord, he lived in fear of reprisals from local agrarian secret societies, and in April 1831 his steward, Daniel Hastings, was shot dead. Fearing a similar fate, and hoping to wean his tenants away from agrarian violence, Vandeleur announced that he was going to initiate a programme of reform on his estate. He was aware of the social writings of Robert Owen and invited one of Owen's disciples, Edward Thomas Craig (qv), to found a commune on his estate. The sincerity of Vandeleur's convictions are open to question as the financial arrangements of the scheme were calculated to minimise the risks to him: the estate and property remained his, at a rent of £700 a year, until the commune had acquired sufficient capital to purchase it.
The Ralahine Owenite commune, consisting of fifty-two of Vandeleur's tenants on 618 acres of his estate, came into existence on 7 November 1831 and initially was a considerable success. The members of the commune were also provided with livestock and equipment, for which they paid £200 a year, and paid off their debt to their landlord by providing free labour. They were allowed to keep a share of the profits from each year and their ultimate goal was to purchase the commune's land. Vandeleur, however, was an habitual gambler and, after a bad losing streak in 1833, he fled the country to avoid his creditors. In November 1833 he was gazetted as a bankrupt, and when he failed to appear before the commissioners for bankrupts a writ of outlawry was issued in January 1834. The details of his later life remain unclear; it has been suggested that he fled to America. His family took control of the estate and the commune was closed down. Over the ensuing years, various economic historians have debated its chances of success, but ultimately, all economic considerations were over-ridden by Vandeleur's lack of success at the card-table.
John Scott Vandeleur married Emily, daughter of Arthur Molony of Woodstock; they had two sons and three daughters.