GRAHAM, Lord Montagu William (1807-1878), of 25 Grosvenor Square, Mdx.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



1830 - 1832
1852 - 1857
18 Dec. 1858 - 1865

Family and Education

b. 2 Feb. 1807, 3rd but 2nd surv. s. of James Graham†, 3rd duke of Montrose [S] (d. 1836), and 2nd w. Lady Caroline Maria Montagu, da. of George Montagu†, 4th duke of Manchester; bro. of James Graham, mq. of Graham*. educ. Eton 1820. m. 14 Feb. 1867, Hon. Harriet Anne, da. of William Hanbury†, 1st Bar. Bateman, wid. of Capt. George Astley Charles Dashwood, s.p. d. 21 June 1878.

Offices Held

Ensign and lt. 2 Ft. Gds. 1825, lt. and capt. 1830, ret. 1840.


Lord William Graham (as he was always known) had an ornamental career in the Guards. In February 1828, when only just of age, he stood in for his absent elder brother during the formalities of the latter’s re-election for Cambridge on being appointed to junior office in the duke of Wellington’s ministry.1 At the general election of 1830 he stood for Dunbartonshire, where his father had a significant interest. He and his Whig opponent, John Campbell Colquhoun† of Killermont, obtained 30 votes each, but Graham was returned by the casting vote of the praeses. He declared that he would ‘continue the firm and consistent advocate of those principles of the constitution which his family had espoused’, but said he would ‘always be the friend of any improvement which could with safety be carried into effect’. Campbell Colquhoun’s attempt to unseat him on petition was unsuccessful.2

The ministry regarded Graham as one of their ‘friends’, and he duly voted with them in the crucial division on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830. On the presentation of a Dunbartonshire petition calling for parliamentary reform, 26 Feb. 1831, he alleged that it had been ‘carried by a majority of two or three only, notwithstanding ... the most strenuous exertions ... made by the persons who got up the meeting’. He divided against the second reading of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, 22 Mar. He did not attend the county meeting six days later, when an amendment condemning the bill was carried by his supporters,3 but he presented and endorsed the resulting petition, 14 Apr., when he more or less openly accused ministers of being ‘biased by political predilections’ in framing their measure. In reply to the lord advocate’s assertion that most of the genuine landed proprietors of Dunbartonshire favoured reform, Graham insisted that they were overwhelmingly hostile to it. He voted for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. He presented a Dumbarton ship owners’ petition against the proposed alteration of the timber duties, 16 Mar., and one from the county meeting against the proposed tax on steamboat passengers, 14 Apr. 1831. He offered again for Dunbartonshire at the subsequent general election and maintained that he had ‘done my duty in opposing a measure which, from its sweeping tendency, I conceived to be dangerous to the general welfare of Scotland, and from its particular details injurious to the interests of landed proprietors’. He defended his earlier observations on the balance of opinion in the county and denounced ministers, who were ‘confessedly incapable of understanding and explaining their own measure’, a ‘rash and perilous experiment’, ‘full of glaring errors and mistakes’, which they had tried to force through ‘under the threat and penalty of immediate dissolution’. At the same time, he professed willingness to accept ‘judicious and temperate alterations’ and ‘all safe extension of the franchise to persons of property and respectability’. He defeated Campbell Colquhoun, a supporter of reform, by five votes in a poll of 51. On leaving the court house he and his minders were pelted with missiles by the infuriated Dumbarton mob and forced to take refuge in a private house, hiding under bed clothes; they luckily escaped detection when the rioters broke in. Eventually an escort of shipwrights secured him a perilous passage through the angry crowd to a small boat, which took him to the safety of a steamer moored in the Clyde.4

He divided against the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, but his only other known vote against it was on its passage, 21 Sept. 1831. Two days later he voted against the second reading of the Scottish bill, after presenting a Dunbartonshire petition against the proposal to unite the county with Buteshire (it was subsequently allowed to retain its separate representation). He was absent from the division on the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, but was present to vote against the enfranchisement of Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb., and the third reading, 22 Mar. 1832. His only other recorded votes in this period were against government on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 12 July. He presented a petition for continuance of the duty on foreign tapioca, 11 July 1832. He did not stand at the general election later that year.

Graham received £10,000 on his father’s death in 1836 and became entitled to an annuity of £800 when his mother died in 1847.5 He re-entered the House as a Conservative in 1852. He married at the age of 60 but died childless in June 1878, leaving all his property to his wife.6

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: David R. Fisher


  • 1. Cambridge Chron. 8, 15 Feb. 1828.
  • 2. Edinburgh Evening Courant, 5, 8, 10 July, 5, 19 Aug. 1830, 10 Mar. 1831.
  • 3. Ibid. 2 Apr. 1831.
  • 4. Ibid. 25, 28 Apr., 19, 21 May 1831; J. Irving, Bk. of Dunbartonshire, i. 332-3.
  • 5. PROB 11/1873/107.
  • 6. The Times, 25 June, 16 Aug. 1878.