CAMPBELL, John (1755-1821), of Calder, Nairn; Stackpole Court, Pemb. and Llanvread, Card.

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



18 Apr. 1777 - May 1780
12 June 1780 - 1796

Family and Education

b. 24 Apr. 1755, 1st s. of Pryse Campbell, and bro. of Alexander Campbell. educ. Eton 1763-7; Clare, Camb. 1772. m. 28 July 1789, Lady Isabella Caroline Howard, da. of Frederick, 5th Earl of Carlisle, 2s. suc. da. 14 Dec. 1768 and gd.-fa. 6 Sept. 1777; cr. Baron Cawdor 21 June 1796.

Offices Held


‘If my grandson sees with my eyes’, wrote old John Campbell, ‘nothing done here [at Stackpole Court] will make him insensible to the natural beauties of Calder, or slight that ancient, honourable and agreeable seat of the family.’1 Brought up in Wales and England, young John knew little of Scotland when at the age of 21, and shortly before his grandfather’s death, he was returned unopposed for Nairnshire.

In Parliament Campbell was a staunch supporter of North who in November 1778 asked him to second the Address.2‘The conduct of America’, said Campbell, ‘made vigorous measures necessary and unavoidable ... however different opinions may have been respecting America, yet respecting France there could be but one opinion.’3 This is the only time he is known to have spoken in the House. In 1777 he helped to raise a regiment of foot in South Wales, the 75th (Prince of Wales’s) Regiment.4

As Nairnshire would not be represented in the next Parliament, Campbell had to find another seat. He thought of contesting Inverness-shire,5 but a better opportunity occurred in May 1780 when Thomas Johnes vacated Cardigan Boroughs and transferred to Radnorshire. Campbell thereupon vacated Nairnshire, and was returned for Cardigan.

At the general election he was re-elected without opposition, and supported North to the end. On 18 Feb. 1783 he voted against Shelburne’s peace preliminaries; did not vote on Fox’s East India bill; and was marked absent by Robinson and Stockdale in their lists of January and March 1784. Robinson noted against Cardigan in the survey made in the second week of December 1783:

Mr. John Campbell is much inclined to support Government and it is thought might throughout be classed hopeful; was once strongly attached to Lord North. If he should desire to again stand for this place, might come [in], but had views on Pembrokeshire, and has a good interest in Scotland for the shire of Nairn which elects at the next election.

Campbell retained his Cardigan seat, and brought in his brother Alexander for Nairn, and in May 1784 both were listed by William Adam ‘Opposition’. But Campbell did not vote against Pitt’s Irish propositions in May 1785, and supported Administration on Richmond’s fortifications plan, February 1786; but, after having been drawn into Lord Carlisle’s circle, voted with Opposition on the Regency.

He died 1 June 1821.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Edith Lady Haden-Guest


  • 1. G. Bain, Hist. Nairnshire, 289.
  • 2. North to the King, 10 Nov. 1778, Fortescue, iv. 215.
  • 3. 26 Nov. 1778, Almon, xi. 3.
  • 4. Ld. G. Germain to the King, 22 Dec. 1777; the King to North, 2 Jan. 1778; North to the King, 3 Jan.; the King to North, 3 Jan. 1778; Fortescue, iii. 518; iv. 2-4.
  • 5. SRO Bught mss 7/204.