PRIMROSE, Archibald John, Visct. Primrose (1783-1868).

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



10 May 1805 - 1806
1806 - 1807

Family and Education

b. 14 Oct. 1783, 1st s. of Neil, 3rd Earl of Rosebery [S], by 2nd w. Mary, da. of Sir Francis Vincent, 7th Bt., of Stoke D’Abernon, Surr.; bro. of Hon. Francis Ward Primrose*. educ. Pembroke, Camb. 1801-4. m. (1) 20 May 1808, Harriet, (div. 1815),1 da. of Hon. Bartholomew Bouverie*, 2s. 4da.; (2) 12 Aug. 1819, Hon. Anne Margaret Anson, da. of Thomas Anson*, 1st Visct. Anson, 2da. suc. fa. as 4th Earl of Rosebery [S] 25 Mar. 1814; cr. Baron Rosebery [UK] 26 Jan. 1828; KT 18 Mar. 1840.

Offices Held

Rep. peer [S] 1818, 1820, 1826; PC 23 Feb. 1831.

Ld. lt. Linlithgow 1843-63.


Viscount Primrose heard from his friend Lord Clonmell in Ireland in December 1804 that, through the Irish chief secretary, he might have the offer of a seat ‘during the remainder of this Parliament for 2,500 guineas’. Uncertain of the duration of the Parliament, he asked the advice of a family friend, Walter Spencer Stanhope*, as to how to bargain for it without losing his investment by a sudden dissolution.2 A few months later he was returned by (Sir) Christopher Hawkins* for an annual rent at Helston, after Henry Bankes* had recommended him to Pitt as ‘a particular friend of my son’s’, whose ‘general inclination is to support your government’, and ‘a well-disposed, and gentle-manlike young man’.

In the House he made no known speech, but was listed a supporter of Pitt in July 1805. On 31 Dec. 1805 he received Pitt’s circular to attend at the opening of the session.3 When Lord Grenville came to power, he opposed Ellenborough’s having a seat in the cabinet, 3 Mar. 1806. He must have become reconciled with the ministry, for he supported their repeal of Pitt’s Additional Force Act, 30 Apr. 1806. At the ensuing election he was returned, at the request of the Treasury and at a price of 4,000 guineas, for an Irish borough that regularly supplied seats for friends of government. In view of his father’s state of health, he would have preferred annual payments but, rather than be disappointed, he engaged to pay the lump sum.4 Moreover, he proceeded to vote against Perceval’s having the duchy of Lancaster for life, 25 Mar., and in favour of Brand’s motion against the new ministry, 9 Apr. 1807. He did not find a seat at the subsequent election, but was ‘on his knees’ to the Whig leaders to procure one for him in November 1807.5

After succeeding to the title in 1814, Rosebery continued to take a keen interest in public affairs and early in 1818 he purchased from the patron of Malmesbury two seats for the next Parliament for friends of his. He himself became a representative peer. He remained a Whig, zealous for parliamentary reform. He completed the efforts made by his father to restore the family fortunes and epitomized this by removing from the picturesque but unsafe Barnbougle Castle, where he was born, to the more amenable Dalmeny.6 He died 4 Mar. 1868.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. On the grounds of her crim. con. with Sir Henry Carew St John Mildmay, 4th Bt.*, her widower brother-in-law, whom she subsequently married (Annual Reg. (1815), 283).
  • 2. Sheffield City Lib. Spencer Stanhope mss, Primrose to Spencer Stanhope, 22 Dec. 1804, 7 Jan. 1804 [recte 1805].
  • 3. PRO, Dacres Adams mss 6/41, 7/3.
  • 4. Blair Adam mss, Maule to Adam, 22 Oct.; NLS mss 12910, Elliot to Fremantle, 4, 10 Nov. 1806.
  • 5. Fremantle mss, Temple to Fremantle, 19 Nov. 1807.
  • 6. Gent. Mag. (1868), i. 536; R. R. James, Rosebery, 7.