HUME CAMPBELL, Hon. Alexander (1708-60), of Birghamsheil, Berwickshire.
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Family and Education
b. 15 Feb. 1708, 2nd surv. s. of Alexander Hume, M.P. [S], 2nd Earl of Marchmont [S], lord clerk register, by Margaret, da. and h. of Sir George Campbell of Cessnock, lord justice clerk; twin bro. of Hugh, Lord Polwarth. educ. private sch. London 1716-?21; Holland (Utrecht and Franeker) 1721-?5; Edinburgh Univ.; adv. 1729; I. Temple, called 1731. m. 16 July 1717, Elizabeth Pettis of Savile Row, London, s.p.
Solicitor-gen. to Prince of Wales Dec. 1741-Jan. 1746; lord clerk register Jan. 1756-d.
‘A very masterly speaker and able lawyer’, Hume Campbell was returned for his native county of Berwickshire in 1734 as an anti-Walpole Whig. In his first Parliament he ‘trod the same paths of invectives’ against Walpole as his twin brother, Lord Polwarth, and his friend, William Pitt. At the opening of the next Parliament, from which Polwarth, now Earl of Marchmont, was excluded, the Berwickshire election, a double return, was treated as a trial of strength between Walpole and the Opposition.
Their man [Horace Walpole writes] was Hume Campbell, Lord Marchmont’s brother, lately made solicitor to the Prince for being as troublesome, as violent, and almost as able as his brother. They made a great point of it, and gained so many of our votes that at ten at night we were forced to give it up without dividing.
Two days later he spoke in support of the first of the opposition attempts to set up a secret committee to bring charges against Walpole, whom he called a ‘tympany of corruption’. He was included in the opposition list for the secret committee, narrowly failing to be elected to it.1 After Walpole’s fall he at first acted with the Duke of Argyll’s adherents, voting for the revival of the secret committee, 1 Dec. 1742; then with the new Government, which the Prince of Wales supported, voting for the Hanoverians, 10 Dec. 1742. But in 1744, on 18 Jan. and again on 1 Feb., following Pitt, he spoke and voted with the Opposition, in defiance of the Prince’s orders, each time making one of the best speeches in the debate.2 In November 1745 he fell out with Pitt, who,
having been engaged to make up a quarrel between his friend, Hume Campbell, and Lord Home, in which the former had kissed the rod ... within a very few days treated the House with bullying the Scotch declaimer.3
Two months later he was dismissed by the Prince for attacking Lord Tweeddale, the secretary of state for Scotland, ‘on the Scotch affairs’.4 During the next session, encouraged by his friend, Lord Chesterfield, who had recently been appointed secretary of state, he made overtures to the ministry, speaking for them on a vote for the forthcoming campaign in Flanders, 26 Jan. 1747; an election petition, 11 Feb.; and in support of the bill for abolishing hereditary jurisdictions in Scotland, 14 Apr.5 On this Pelham, faced with a new Opposition launched by the Prince, opened negotiations with Hume Campbell, the upshot of which is described in a letter from the Duke of Newcastle to Lord Lothian, lord clerk register:
Your Lordship is sensible that Mr. Hume Campbell is very considerable in the House of Commons and of much more weight than any one in the Opposition can be. He is very well disposed to act entirely with us: the only thing he insists on is that a proper regard should be shown, and that immediately, to my Lord Marchmont, his brother, and upon this Mr. Hume Campbell’s concurrence with us will absolutely depend ... Mr. Hume Campbell desired that he [Lord Marchmont] should be of the sixteen peers and have an employment of credit. The only employment likely to be vacant is the first commissioner of police, which Mr. Hume Campbell thought my Lord Marchmont would very readily accept if he could be of the sixteen. But as that is not practicable Mr. Hume Campbell has left it with his brother that if my Lord Marchmont cannot come into Parliament he shall have some employment of more value than the first commissioner of police. The only expedient that has occured to my brother and me is if your Lordship would have the goodness to exchange the register’s office for that of first commissioner of police, in which case care would be taken to have the salary made up to the value of the register’s office.6
As Lothian ‘peremptorily’ refused the exchange, Marchmont had to content himself with ‘receiving by my brother the price Mr. Pelham thought fit to offer him’, that is the police office, with its salary made up to that of the register’s office, £1,500 a year.7 Hume Campbell himself was supposed to have received ‘a considerable pension, on which he neglected the House of Commons, giving himself up entirely to his profession’. After three years ‘in a state of neutrality’, he began ‘to frequent the House again’ in 1750.8 About the same time the 2nd Lord Egmont wrote in his electoral survey for a new Parliament on the Prince’s accession:
Hume Campbell - it will be right to have him in such a way as not to appear against us, and I suppose it easy to be done.
In Egmont’s lists of persons to receive offices etc. in the next reign, Hume Campbell is put down on 29 Apr. 1749 for a pension of £1,000 a year but in a later list, dated April 1750, he figures as ‘chancellor to the Prince’.
He died 19 July 1760.
Ref Volumes: 1715-1754
Author: Romney R. Sedgwick
- 1. Walpole to Mann, 22 Jan., 1 Apr. 1742; Mems. Geo. II, i. 19; ii. 113.
- 2. John Drummond to Ld. Morton, 4 Dec. 1742, Morton mss. SRO; Yorke's parl. jnl. Parl. Hist. xiii. 466, 636-7.
- 3. Walpole, Mems. Geo. II, i. 19; Marchmont Pprs. i. 147.
- 4. Ibid. i. 166; Walpole to Mann, 3 Jan. 1746.
- 5. HMC Polwarth, v. 183 seq., 194, 202, 236-42.
- 6. 23 June 1747, Add. 32711, f. 493.
- 7. HMC Polwarth, v. 252; Marchmont Pprs. i. 177.
- 8. Walpole to Mann, 2 Dec. 1748, 10 Jan. 1750; Mems. Geo. II, i. 19 n.