ALLARDYCE, Alexander (?1743-1801), of Dunnottar, Kincardine.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



18 May 1792 - 1 Nov. 1801

Family and Education

b. ?1743, 1st s. of James Allardyce, merchant, of Insch and Aberdeen by Jean, da. of Alexander Jopp, merchant, of Aberdeen. m. (1) 7 Aug. 1786, Ann (d. 1 Aug. 1787), da. of Alexander Baxter of Glassel, Kincardine, 1s. d.v.p.; (2) 20 Oct. 1794, Hannah, da. of Alexander Innes of Cowie, 1da. suc. fa. 1778.

Offices Held

Rector, Aberdeen Univ. 1796-8.


Allardyce, whose father belonged to a cadet branch of an old Kincardineshire family, was admitted an infant burgess of Aberdeen in 1745 and went early in life to Jamaica. As well as fathering an illegitimate daughter, whom he remembered in his will, he became ‘very rich’ through his activities in the slave trade. It was later said of him that he had ‘sold about as many blackmen as there are white in his native city’.1 On his return in about 1780 he bought an estate in Kincardineshire and established himself in the upper echelons of the business communities of Aberdeen and London. He owned Bank of England and East India Company stock and seems to have used his capital mostly for investment and speculation.

Allardyce was presumably the man of that name predicted to be the ministerial nominee for a vacancy for East Looe in January 1790; nothing came of it. He was returned unopposed for Aberdeen Burghs on the death of the sitting Member in 1792, with the backing of Henry Dundas, and retained the seat unchallenged in 1796. The following year there was talk of his standing for the vacant county seat, but he did not do so.2 He gave general support to government and voted for the triple assessment, 4 Jan. 1798. He spoke in favour of the Aberdeen police bill, 28 Apr. 1794, and voted for Foster Barham’s motion censuring the conduct of Grey and Jervis in Martinique, 2 June 1795. He exhibited occasional symptoms of truculence and independence. He complained to Dundas, 29 Mar. 1797, on hearing that his recommendation for a local appointment was to be ignored:

If any man has a more natural claim ... than myself, let it be given to him. If any man more strictly attends his duty in Parliament than myself ... [or] gives a stronger support to administration ... let it be given to him. If any man at the India House ... [or] the Bank of England supports the true interests of administration more than myself, let it be given to him. If any man in his provincial capacity supports the interests of administration more than myself, let it be given to him. But I have the vanity to think you will find no such man.3

He protested strongly against certain provisions of the post office duty bill, 21 Feb. and 4 Mar. 1801, but his arguments were decisively repudiated by Pitt.

Allardyce was reported to have been present at a meeting summoned by Sir John Sinclair*, 9 Mar. 1797, to form an ‘armed neutrality’,4 but he is not known to have voted against government subsequently. He was presumably attracted to the meeting by his strong views on the conduct of the affairs of the Bank, but, while he disputed Pitt’s claim that its profits had fallen, 22 Nov. 1797, he conceded that the continued restriction of cash payments was ‘absolutely necessary’ in prevailing circumstances. From 1797 until his death he campaigned on behalf of Bank shareholders to end the secrecy with which its business was transacted and, for self-confessedly ‘selfish’ motives, to extract the last farthing in dividends. He expounded his views in an Address to the proprietors (1798) and a Second address (1801). His efforts were successful in so far as large bonuses were declared in 1799 and 1801, the second of which he defended in the House, 23 Mar.5 He welcomed the bank-note forgery prevention bill, 30 Apr. 1801.

Allardyce died 1 Nov. 1801, ‘aged 58’.6

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: David R. Fisher


See W. Johnston, Descendants of James Young (1804), 144-6; Scottish N. and Q. (ser. 1), i. 50-51; Mems. Aldermen of Aberdeen, 243; Gent. Mag. (1801), i. 505.

  • 1. PCC 775 Abercrombie; Pol. State of Scotland 1788, p. 188; J. Wilson, Biog. Index (1808), 3.
  • 2. India Office Lib. mss Eur. C. 307/5, f. 257; SRO GD51/1/198/1/7.
  • 3. SRO GD51/5/364/9.
  • 4. PRO 30/9/32, Abbot diary, 9 Mar. 1797.
  • 5. Sir J. Clapham, Bank of England, ii. 40-41.
  • 6. Johnston, 145.