HALDANE, Robert (1705-67), of Plean and Airthrey, Stirling.
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Family and Education
b. 16 Mar. 1705, 10th s. of John Haldane of Gleneagles, M.P., by his 2nd w. Helen, da. of Sir Charles Erskine, 1st Bt., of Alva; uncle of George Haldane. m. 29 Sept. 1742, Elizabeth, da. of Sir William Oglander, 3rd Bt., of Nunwell, I.o.W., wid. of Capt. Robert Holmes, R.N., s.p.
Haldane entered the sea service of the East India Company.1 He returned home with a great fortune and, an arrogant, ambitious, purse-proud man, at the general election of 1754 stood for Stirlingshire against the Argyll candidate, was defeated, and petitioned. Argyll, who hated the Haldane family, wrote to Newcastle, 10 Nov. 1754:2 ‘I know none of this country who call themselves Whigs, so obnoxious to Mr. Pelham as this India captain was.’ In 1755 his nephew George introduced him to Newcastle, then intriguing against Argyll, to discuss withdrawing the petition if Robert could be brought in elsewhere. When nothing was done Haldane threatened to revive his petition, which Newcastle, having been reconciled to Argyll, declined to support. Eventually Haldane was induced to abandon his claims, and did not obtain a seat until he succeeded his nephew in Stirling Burghs in March 1758.3
His parliamentary career is obscure; no speech of his is recorded. His main concern was to secure re-election in 1761 through his great wealth and the interest of his cousin Sir Henry Erskine with Bute. By the purchase of Airthrey, Gleneagles, and property in Dunbartonshire, he increased his interest in three counties; practised extensive bribery in Stirling Burghs; and also cultivated Perth Burghs.
At the general election he stood for Bridport, was defeated, and appealed through Lord Fitzmaurice to Bute, to whom he offered to give up all his Scottish pretensions in return for support in his petition.4 He then went to Scotland; withdrew from Perth Burghs; relinquished his claims in Stirling Burghs to Alexander Wedderburn;5 contested Perthshire but withdrew the day before the election. On the news that, by the succession of John Campbell of Mamore as Duke of Argyll, Dunbartonshire was vacant, Haldane at once offered himself as candidate6 but soon gave up the contest, and concentrated on his Bridport petition. Despite the efforts of Erskine and the Bute connexion, ‘the Scots were beaten by three to one’7 on 2 Mar. 1762, and Haldane having ‘gone all round the compass’8 was left without a seat.
He intended to stand again for Bridport at the general election of and also for Stirling Burghs with the support of his friend Sir Lawrence Dundas,9 but died 31 Dec. 1767.