MACKENZIE, Hon. Sir Kenneth, 3rd Bt. (c.1658-1728), of Cromarty.
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Family and Education
b. c.1658, 3rd but 2nd surv. s. of Sir George Mackenzie, 2nd Bt., 1st Visct. Tarbat [S] and Earl of Cromarty [S], by Anna, da. of Sir James Sinclair, 1st Bt., of Mey, Canisbay, Caithness. educ. Aberdeen univ. (King’s coll.) 1679. m. (1) Mary (d. by 1688), da. and coh. of David Kinnear (d. 1684) of Kinnear, Kilmany, Fife, 1da. d.v.p.; (2) c.1694–1701, his cos. Anna, da. of Sir Colin Campbell, MP [S], of Aberuchill, Perth, Ld. Aberuchill SCJ, 6s. (4 d.v.p.) 2da.; (3) contract 14 Jan. 1726, Elizabeth Edwards of Monmouth, wid. of Charles Graydon, receiver-gen. of customs [S] and of Capt. Alexander Sutherland of Kinminitie, Banff, s.p. cr. Bt. with precedency of the original patent on his fa.’s resignation of the baronetcy 29 Apr. 1704.1
Burgess, Aberdeen 1683.
Jt. clerk of session [S] ?–1686; commr. justiciary for Highlands [S] 1693, 1702.
MP [S] Cromartyshire 1693–1707.2
Not long after Mackenzie’s original election as a parliamentary commissioner in 1693 his father was reassured by a family friend that such a ‘brave gentleman’ would ‘do very well in business’. The reality proved otherwise. Mackenzie showed nothing of Lord Tarbat’s devious intelligence, the serpentine intrigues of the father issuing rather in an impotent ‘peevishness and churling’ in the son. From his entry into the Scottish parliament he seems generally to have kept his head down and voted consistently with the Court or remained silent and inconspicuous, none of which should be surprising given his father’s ambiguous position after 1692, always with the ministry while at the same time intriguing against its composition. Mackenzie subscribed the association in 1698 and, despite having invested £500 in the Company of Scotland, adhered to the government line in 1700–1 over Caledonia. He even stayed with the Court rump after the secession from the parliament of 1702, and this despite the fact that his father also withdrew subsequently on another pretext. By this time, however, having reaped no material advantage hitherto from his devotion to Court interests, he was at last losing patience with ministerial parsimony. He wrote to his father early in 1703:
though I will not determine myself without advising with your lordship, yet my being so singularly treated . . . gives me small encouragement to serve such masters in time coming, for as I never yet made a wrong step where the crown was concerned, so I have been allowed to spend my time and money without thanks, when many who came not my length have grown rich.
Money was short, but as ‘I got very little thanks from the King’s servants for my former zeal . . . [I] expect as little from the Queen’s’. A report in 1704 of his having voted against settling the succession seems to reflect this disgruntlement, although it could be explained equally well in terms of his father’s ambiguous relationship to the ministry. Tarbat, who had in that year been raised to the earldom of Cromarty, resigned the baronetcy to Mackenzie, a concession which assisted his return to the Court fold. The assertion by the Jacobite agent, Scot, that Mackenzie was ‘frequently with the Country party’ is otherwise unsubstantiated. In the Union parliament Mackenzie voted with the Court in favour of the treaty, in the important divisions on the first article and on ratification, though absenting himself on numerous other occasions. Alongside his father, a supporter of the Union on principle, he was rewarded with a payment of ‘arrears’ of £100 on some unspecified official account.3
Selected on the Court slate to represent his country in the first Parliament of Great Britain, Mackenzie was inconspicuous at Westminster: no intervention is recorded, nor does his name appear in the Journals at any time during the session. Cromartyshire did not elect to the next Parliament, and Mackenzie refrained from seeking a seat elsewhere. He did, however, play an important part in his father’s electoral intrigues in neighbouring Ross-shire, and as a result found himself included in the general denunciation of Mackenzie disloyalty which David Ross of Balnagown and Sir Robert Munro of Foulis submitted to the ministry. Mackenzie had given little or no pretext to be labelled a Jacobite, unless one counts his subscription to a petition to the crown to permit the return from overseas of the clan chief, Lord Seaforth. All that his accusers could rake up was a claim that in 1688–9 he had been in arms for King James, something he was able to refute with ease.4
In 1710 Mackenzie made sure of his re-entry into Parliament in Cromartyshire, and also acted as the standard-bearer for the family against Hon. Charles Ross* in Ross-shire, but without success. He was classified as an episcopal Tory in the analysis of Richard Dongworth, the Duchess of Buccleuch’s chaplain. He voted in February 1711 against the Squadrone Member Mungo Graham* in the disputed election for Kinross-shire. No further evidence of his party-political affiliations has survived: he figures on no list of this Parliament (except as an absentee on 7 Feb. 1712 for a vote on the Scottish toleration bill), nor did he leave any trace in the records of the House. At the next election Cromartyshire made no return, and he seems to have abandoned any hope of upsetting his family’s rivals in Ross.5
The gradual decline of the Cromarty branch of the Mackenzies began with the death of the 1st Earl in 1714. Over Mackenzie himself some mystery hangs: as far as is known, he was not directly involved in the general election of 1715. In 1725 he and two other prominent Mackenzie lairds were instrumental in bringing in 150 armed clansmen to submit to General Wade. Two years later, when he was eventually returned for Cromartyshire, it was as a supporter of the administration. He was not long in the House before he died on 13 Sept. 1728. His son George succeeded to the baronetcy and to the parliamentary seat.6