CAMPBELL, George William, Mq. of Lorne (1768-1839), of Inveraray Castle, Argyll.

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

Constituency

Dates

1790 - 1796

Family and Education

b. 22 Sept. 1768, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of John Campbell, 5th Duke of Argyll [S], by Elizabeth, da. of John Gunning of Castle Coote, co. Roscommon, wid. of James, 6th Duke of Hamilton [S], cr. Baroness Hamilton [GB] 1776; bro. of Lord John Douglas Edward Henry Campbell*. educ. by private tutor; Grand Tour 1786-7. m. 29 Nov. 1810, Lady Caroline Elizabeth Villiers, da. of George Bussy Villiers, 4th Earl of Jersey, div. w. of Henry William Paget, Lord Paget*, s.p. suc. half-bro. Douglas, 8th Duke of Hamilton, in the right of his mother, as Baron Hamilton [GB] 3 Aug. 1799; fa. as 6th Duke of Argyll [S] 24 May 1806; GCH 1833.

Offices Held

Councillor [S] to Prince of Wales 1812-20; keeper of the great seal [S] 1827-8, 1830-9; ld. steward of Household 1833-4, 1835-9; PC 11 Sept. 1833.

Col. Argyll fencibles 1793, 1804.

Ld. Lt. Argyll 1800-d.

Biography

It is not surprising that Lorne, of whom nothing was expected except to marry, came to regard the evasion of this transaction as his first duty to himself. As an anonymous female correspondent informed his mother from Brussels, 1786:

Lord L[o]r[n]e and his travelling tutor are here and flattered to the eyes by Lady T[orrington] our minister’s wife. She has a beautiful daughter about 16 years old. Poor Lord L[o]r[n]e is smitten. I hope it won’t be too late but order him from here immediately. L[ad]y T[orrington] is cunning itself and thereby snapped up Lord J[ohn] Russell on his road for one of her daughters.

Lady Charlotte Leveson Gower, Lorne’s dancing partner in January 1790, described him as ‘very good humoured and pleasing’.1 As soon as he came of age, he was found a seat in Parliament on Lord Eliot’s interest, as a friend of administration.

Lorne was absent, supposed doubtful or hostile, on the Test Act division of 10 May 1791. He was one of the ‘cropped fashionables’ who declined an invitation to the Prince of Wales’s birthday in July 1791, because they had cropped their hair short and wore no powder, which was ‘not the etiquette yet’. Another scrape, not of his making, which he got into that year was caused by the allegation of his first cousin Elizabeth Gunning that he had asked her to marry him. Lorne denied this, without any damage to himself, since society regarded her and her scheming mother as ‘two outpensioners of Bedlam’. The advent of war brought relief: Tom Pelham wrote, 26 Feb. 1793, ‘Parties are very thin of young men who are all in quarters or drilling militia: even Lord Lorne’.2 Lorne, who was granted leave of absence from the House on 4 Mar. 1793 to command fencibles in Scotland, developed a keen interest in the Argyllshire volunteers.3 In the House, however, he made no mark, giving a silent support to government. He did not find a seat in 1796 and three years later succeeded to a barony in his mother’s right.

In 1804 his father, who had just extricated him from his gambling debts for the second time, blamed them on his keeping ‘very bad hours ... The best remedy’, he added, ‘is marriage.’ Lorne did not marry until after he had succeeded to the dukedom and then it was the divorced wife of his friend Lord Paget whom he chose: Paget thought him ‘the best creature in the world’. He died 22 Oct. 1839, famous for his insouciance, which pervaded ‘everything and everybody’ at Inveraray.4

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne

Notes

  • 1. Intimate Society Letters of 18th Cent.