CAMPBELL, Archibald (c.1763-1838), of Blythswood, Renfrew.

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



1806 - June 1809
13 Apr. 1812 - 1812
1818 - 1820
1820 - 1831

Family and Education

b. c.1763, 2nd s. of Col. Andrew Campbell of Blythswood (formerly Douglas of Mains) by Henrietta, da. of James Dunlop of Glasgow, unm. suc. bro. Lt.-Col. John Campbell to Blythswood 1794.

Offices Held

Capt. 1 Ft. 1790, maj. 1794, off list 1795; maj. Renfrew mil. 1802, col. 1822, lt.-col. commdt. R. Greenock vols. 1803-5, Renfrew yeoman inf. 1807, Glasgow vols. 1807.

Ld. lt. Renfrew 1826-d.; rector, Glasgow Univ. 1809-11.


Campbell’s elder brother, who was interested in sitting for Glasgow Burghs in 1789, perished at Martinique in 1794. He himself was taken prisoner at Toulon. On becoming laird of Blythswood, he gave up the army.1 By 1802 he had snatched control of the burgh of Renfrew from Archibald Speirs* and supported Boyd Alexander in the contest for Glasgow Burghs. In 1804 he was known to be contending for the seat himself, and in 1806, threatened with a severe contest, he came to an agreement with Alexander Houstoun to share the representation, his turn coming first. This enabled him to oust Boyd Alexander in the ensuing contest, by the casting vote of his burgh of Renfrew.

Although his opponent was an acknowledged supporter of the Grenville ministry and they felt doubtful about him, there is no evidence of Campbell’s opposing them; but there was certainly bad blood between him and Alexander over the latter’s conduct of his unsuccessful petition, which led to such difficulties in local affairs that in August 1808 Robert Saunders Dundas was called in and contrived to make an uneasy peace between them.2 Campbell had retained his seat in 1807 by arrangement with Houstoun, for whose benefit he vacated it in June 1809. He had meanwhile given a silent support to government. On 18 May 1808 he presented his constituents’ petition in favour of the suspension of distillation from grain. Early in 1810 he had hopes of coming in for Renfrewshire on a by-election, with government encouragement, but gave it up when Boyd Alexander insisted on standing, refusing to support him. A few months before the dissolution he procured another seat, for Elgin Burghs, though only as a stopgap.3 He voted with the government minorities against the sinecure bill, 4 May, and against a ‘stronger’ administration, 21 May 1812.

Still in competition with Boyd Alexander for Renfrewshire, Campbell refused to come to terms with him before the election of 1812, even when Alexander offered to make way for him and thus unite the friends of government against the Whig sitting Member, claiming, though Campbell denied it, that he was thereby bound to support Alexander at the next election. He contested Glasgow Burghs instead. Despite a new agreement with Houstoun, his prospects were foredoomed and he again refused a last minute offer by Alexander to compromise in the county, in which he abstained from acting. In 1816 Alexander made another unsuccessful bid to come to terms with him over Renfrewshire, Campbell again refusing the option of contesting the county. Alexander concluded that Campbell had never forgiven him his conduct in 1806, despite the truce of 1808, and that he might even go to the length of joining his opponent to keep Alexander out of the county seat.4

In 1818 Campbell, who was obliged to cede Glasgow to Houstoun by their agreement, was found a seat for Perth Burghs, where Melville procured him the interest of Sir David Wedderburn*. His return cost him £1,500, more than twice as much as he was led to expect, and he soon wearied of his new constituents.5 His support of government was silent. In 1820 he resumed his seat for Glasgow. Campbell died 13 June 1838.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Anderson, MPs for Glasgow and District (1928), 14.
  • 2. NLS mss 1, ff. 117, 119, 121, 125, 127, 129, 131, 133, 135, 141.
  • 3. Ibid. f. 196; SRO GD51/1/198/22/5; GD267/17/4, Wauchope to Home, 7 Mar. 1812.
  • 4. SRO GD51/1/198/22/2, 7, 8, 9, 13; NLS mss 1054, ff. 120, 122, 124, 125, 127.
  • 5. SRO GD51/1/198/21/60, 64.