CAMPBELL, John, Mq. of Lorne (1723-1806), of Roseneath, Dunbarton.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



26 Mar. 1744 - 1761
16 Jan. 1765 - 16 Dec. 1766

Family and Education

bap. June 1723, 1st surv. s. of John Campbell of Mamore (d. 1770), 4th Duke of Argyll [S]; bro. of Lords Frederick and William Campbell. educ. priv. sch. London.1 m. 3 Mar. 1759, Elizabeth, da. of John Gunning of Castle Coote, co. Roscommon, Ireland wid. of James, 6th Duke of Hamilton [S], 3s. 2da. From fa’s succession as 4th Duke 15 Apr. 1761 styled Mq. of Lorne; cr. Baron Sundridge [G.B.] 16 Dec. 1766; suc. fa. as 5th Duke, 9 Nov. 1770.

Offices Held

2nd lt. 21 Ft. 1739, capt. 1741, brig. maj. 1743; lt.-col. 30 Ft. 1745-7; lt.-col. 42 Ft. 1749; adjutant-gen. [I] 1754; col. 1755; col. 56 Ft. 1755-57, 14 Drag. 1757-65; maj.-gen. 1759; lt.-gen. 1761; dep. c.-in-c. Scotland 1762-5; col. 1 Ft. 1765-82; c.-in-c. Scotland 1767-78; gen. 1778; col. 3 Ft. Gds. 1782- d.; f.m. 1796.


Campbell owed his advancement to Archibald, Duke of Argyll,2 who, having secured his return for Glasgow Burghs, entirely directed his political conduct. In 1754 he was listed by Dupplin as a Government supporter. Extraordinarily handsome, Campbell in 1759 secured Argyll’s consent to his marriage with a celebrated beauty, the widowed Duchess of Hamilton, thus uniting the Argyll and Hamilton interests during her son’s minority. He was not personally involved in the Argyll-Bute dispute of 1759-60, and soon after George III’s accession went abroad with his ailing wife for the winter.3

By the accession of his father as 4th Duke in April 1761, immediately before the Glasgow Burghs election, Campbell, now Marquess of Lorne, was disqualified, as the eldest son of a Scottish peer, from representing a Scottish constituency. When Bute excluded the new Duke from any share in the management of Scotland and offered Lorne neither an English seat nor any preferment (other than a temporary command in Scotland) the Marquess, thinking himself ‘undervalued’,4 attached himself through Alexander Forrester, a family friend, to the Duke of Bedford. Bute and Stuart Mackenzie further alienated him by their opposition to his stepson, the Duke of Hamilton, in the Douglas Cause; but Lorne made no open declaration until Bute by his political intrigues in August-September 1763 violently antagonized Bedford. Lorne then submitted his claims to Bedford, who wrote to Welbore Ellis, secretary at war, 28 Nov. 1763:5

As the Marquess of Lorne is thoroughly attached to the support of his Majesty’s Government and extremely well intentioned to the present Administration, I cannot refuse interesting myself warmly in support of what he wishes, and I have the satisfaction to find his Majesty (to whom I have mentioned Ld. Lorne’s desire of coming into Parliament, and of his and his father the Duke of Argyll’s zeal for his service ...) very well disposed to show marks of favour to that family.

Lorne was disconcerted when his ingenuous father, disappointed by Bedford of a K.T., made a second application to Bute. He apologized to Bedford, 23 Jan. 1764:6

Both myself and my brothers were totally ignorant of the step he has taken ... if we had known of it we should most earnestly have endeavoured to have dissuaded him from it as we have been all of us absolutely determined not to ask or expect any favour but by your Grace’s intervention.

In his subsequent interview with Bedford, Lorne pressed for a British peerage for himself but got ‘no encouragement to think of it’.7

In June Lorne secured from Grenville the Government interest at the Dover by-election, and, with the support of the Sackville and Yorke families, was returned unopposed in January 1765.8 He is not known to have spoken in the House.

In May 1765 Grenville, having insisted with the King upon Stuart Mackenzie’s dismissal, nominated Lorne his successor as lord privy seal for Scotland. Grenville’s diary records, 23 May:9

[Lord Lorne] was set out upon his journey to Scotland the day before and was fetched back express ... but declined the office in favour of Lord Frederick Campbell, his brother, but with all possible expressions of gratitude and attachment to Mr. Grenville.

When in July Grenville’s Administration was dismissed, Lorne promptly wrote from Scotland renewing his professions to Grenville and Bedford,10 and heartily concurred in his brother’s decision to resign.11 His loyalty was soon put to the test when, by the death of Sir Harry Erskine, on 7 Aug., the colonelcy of the 1st Ft. (the Royals) fell vacant. According to Walpole, Lorne wrote to his brother-in-law Conway, now secretary of state, suggesting that although as a Bedford supporter he could ask nothing from the new Administration he would not refuse the King’s offer of the regiment.12 The evidence, however, supports Lorne’s contention that ‘he had not asked for the Royals, nor did he expect it’.13 Rockingham, having consulted Conway and Grafton, and obtained Cumberland’s cordial consent, offered Lorne the regiment,14 which he accepted but at once assured Grenville and Bedford that however ‘extraordinary’ his preferment might appear, he was ‘not in the smallest degree obliged to any of the present Administration for it’, but only to the King.15 He wrote to Bedford, 6 Sept. 1765:16

I hope your Grace could not suspect ... that I could think of joining any other persons in their public capacity however nearly I may lie otherwise connected with them ... I am and will remain as much attached to you with regard to my parliamentary conduct as any man of principle and conscience.

Lorne’s appointment increased conjecture, already aroused by his father’s acceptance of the K.T. from the new Administration. Lord George Sackville wrote to General Irwin, 14 Sept. 1765:17

I ... look upon it as the second part of the Green Ribband, and I must now not be angry with his father for adorning his person since the son condescends to accept favours from Government in the particular situation in which his family stands relative to the late Administration ... What all this means I know not and we wait the event next session.

In the event Lorne and Lord Frederick remained attached to Bedford in opposition and voted against the repeal of the Stamp Act, 22 Feb. 1766, while their brother William adhered to the Rockinghams.

On the formation of the Chatham Administration, with Conway still in office and Stuart Mackenzie restored to the privy seal, Lorne, uneasy at the hostility between his wife and Mackenzie, discussed with William Mure in autumn 1766 a possible reconciliation with the Bute connexion.18In November Bedford, during his negotiations with Chatham, included a peerage for Lorne among his terms for entering Administration.19 When no agreement was reached Lorne, realizing that this might be his last chance before, by the death of his aged father, he became ineligible as a Scottish peer, applied directly to Chatham, who at once granted his request and thus ‘took from the Duke of Bedford’s scale the great Scottish interest of the Campbells’.20 Lorne wrote to Bedford, 16 Dec.:21

I am to kiss hands for a British peerage tomorrow. I own I should have had more satisfaction if I had owed this mark of his Majesty’s favour to your Grace’s interposition ... if it had been in your power. I hope therefore your Grace will not think I have done amiss to apply for it through the only channel by which in the present situation ... I thought it could be obtained.

In London the affair ‘made a great noise and was universally blamed’;22 in Scotland it was welcomed as a step towards the reconciliation of the Argyll and Bute interests, and by February 1767 Lorne and Lord Frederick were known to be ‘linked with Bute and his brother’.23 in Lome sought to avoid entanglement in the continuing disputes between his Duchess and Mackenzie, and at the 1768 election gave the Argyll interest to Bute’s son in Ayr Burghs.

Although despised by Walpole as ‘sordidly covetous’,24 Lorne was generally considered an amiable, modest man without much force of personality,25 who, backed by his astute wife and brother, usually achieved his ends by adroit diplomacy.

On succeeding to the dukedom he lived in magnificent style at Inveraray and became well known as an authority on agricultural improvement.26

He died 25 May 1806.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Edith Lady Haden-Guest


  • 1. Poss. Westminster (although unlisted); cf. John Campbell to Ld. Lovat, Aug. 1739, Sir W. Fraser, Chiefs of Grant, ii. 394.
  • 2. Argyll to Duncan Forbes, 29 Nov. 1743, More Culloden Pprs. iii. 161-2.
  • 3. H. Walpole to H. Mann, 1 Nov. 1760, 2 Jan. 1761.
  • 4. Lorne to W. Mure, 27 Dec. 1766, Caldwell Pprs. ii.(2), p. 99.
  • 5. Bedford mss 48, f. 190.
  • 6. Ibid. 49, f. 34.
  • 7. Bedford’s endorsement on Lorne’s letter of 23 Jan.
  • 8. Grenville to Lorne, 18 June, and to Sir Joseph Yorke, 30 July 1764, Grenville letter bk.; Lorne to Grenville, 29 June, Grenville mss (JM).
  • 9. Grenville Pprs. iii. 187; see also Walpole to Hertford, 25 May.
  • 10. Lorne to Grenville, 16 July 1765, Grenville mss (JM); Lorne to Bedford, same date, Bedford mss 52, f. 62.
  • 11. Lord F. Campbell to Grenville, 23 July 1765, Grenville mss (JM).
  • 12. Mems. Geo. III, ii. 142.
  • 13. James Abercrombie to Loudoun, 18 Sept. 1765, Loudoun mss.
  • 14. Rockingham to Cumberland, bef. 13 Aug.; and Cumberland’s reply, 23 Aug. 1765, Rockingham mss.
  • 15. Lorne to Grenville, 6 Sept. 1765, Grenville, 6 Sept. 1765, Grenville mss (JM).
  • 16. Bedford mss 52, f. 134.
  • 17. HMC Stopford-Sackville, i. 102.
  • 18. Mure to Mackenzie, 1 Dec. 1766, Caldwell mss (NLS); Lorne to Mure, 27 Dec. 1766, Caldwell Pprs. ii.(2), p. 99.
  • 19. Bedford Corresp. iii. 359.
  • 20. Walpole, Mems. Geo. III, ii. 291.
  • 21. Bedford mss 54, f. 172.
  • 22. Newcastle to Rockingham, 19 Dec. 1766, Add. 32978, f. 416.
  • 23. W. Rouet to Mure, 10 Feb. 1767, Caldwell Pprs. ii.(2), p. 104.
  • 24. Mure to Loudoun, 21 Feb. 1768, Loudoun mss; Bute to Mure, 3 May 1774, Caldwell Pprs. ii.(2), pp. 232-3.
  • 25. Mems. Geo. III, i. 322.
  • 26. Boswell, Tour to the Hebrides, 25 Oct. 1773; Private Pprs. xv. 225-6.