MACLEOD, Alexander (c.1715-90), of Harris, Inverness and Theobalds, Herts.

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



1780 - 27 Mar. 1781

Family and Education

b. c.1715, 2nd s. of Donald Macleod of Bernera by his 1st w. Anne, da. of Roderick Macleod, chief of Macleod.  m. his cos. Helen Maclean of Boreray, 2s. 2da.

Offices Held


Alexander Macleod joined the naval service of the East India Company, and in 1756 was captain of the Marlborough, which accompanied the expedition under Clive and Admiral Watson to recapture Calcutta. About 1771, having acquired what William Hickey calls ‘a noble fortune’, he retired ‘to enjoy himself in ease and splendour on shore. He settled in the country and kept a truly hospitable house.’1 About 1778 he purchased for £15,000 from Norman, the young chief of Macleod, the barony of Harris, including the islands of Bernera (the family holding) and St. Kilda.

In 1780 Macleod stood with Government support for Honiton, a venal borough for which he was reputedly prepared to pay some £4,000.2 After a severe contest he was returned, but his defeated opponent, Lawrence Cox, petitioned. The English Chronicle wrote about Macleod shortly after the election:

This gentleman of all others is perhaps the most unlikely by his address to procure a seat in Parliament; for to the roughness of the seaman, he adds all the sullen pride of wealth and independence. But Honiton is not a place remarkably nice about the accomplishments of its representatives provided they possess riches and liberality ... As to his abilities, he makes no pretensions to any; for in his advertisement to the people of Honiton he modestly confesses that he is conscious of being far behind the generality of mankind in that respect; but in the fairness of his intentions he will yield to none. There is no doubt if he continues in Parliament (for he is petitioned against) but he will be ministerial.

Macleod was unseated, 27 Mar. 1781; stood again, but was defeated by a new candidate, Jacob Wilkinson; failed in his petition against the return; and apparently made no further attempt to re-enter Parliament.

He died 7 Jan. 1790.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Edith Lady Haden-Guest


  • 1. Mems. Wm. Hickey, iii. 244.
  • 2. CJ, 20 Nov. 1780.