MALCOLM, Neill (1797-1857), of 1 Princes Street, Hanover Square, Mdx.

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



1826 - 1831

Family and Education

b. 5 Nov. 1797, 1st s. of Neill Malcolm of Poltalloch, Argyll and Mary Anne, da. and h. of David Orme of Lamb Abbey, Kent. educ. Harrow 1815-16; Christ Church, Oxf. 1817; L. Inn 1818. m. (1) 14 July 1831, Harriet Mary (d. 21 May 1837), da. of Sir Samuel Clarke Jervoise, 1st bt., of Idsworth Park, Hants, 1s. d.v.p. 4da. (1 d.v.p.); (2) 2 Sept. 1843, Louisa, da. of Evelyn John Shirley*, s.p. suc. fa. 1837. d. 2 Oct. 1857.

Offices Held


The Malcolm family had long been established in Argyllshire as lairds of Poltalloch. Malcolm’s grandfather, the 11th laird, a West India merchant, introduced extensive changes on their Scottish estates and was involved in the cutting of the Crinan canal. Either he or his son was one of the London merchants who signed the loyal declaration in 1795. Malcolm’s father, a member of the standing committee of West India planters and merchants by 1800, acquired Lamb Abbey in Kent through his marriage. He was a deputy lieutenant for Argyllshire and obtained heraldic arms at the Lyon office in 1818, but the mainstay of the family’s wealth remained their Argyll estate in Jamaica. The People’s Book described Neill Malcolm junior, as he was known until his father’s death, as a merchant and an East and West India proprietor. He was elected to the standing committee of West India planters in February 1824.1

At the 1826 general election he came forward on the Pink or corporation interest for the venal borough of Boston. According to the Boston Gazette, he stood under the auspices of Henry Ellis, the corporation’s former Member, who had been unseated on petition in 1821. On the hustings he made some deferential allusion to Ellis, but presented himself as ‘totally unconnected with any party’, denied that he represented the West India interest and was opposed to the abolition of slavery, and professed to favour religious liberty, though he believed it inexpedient to grant further concessions to Catholics. After a two-day contest he was returned in second place. According to Drakard’s Stamford News, his political opinions were opposed to those of the majority of the freemen, and he cut short his chairing in view of the violence which occurred.2 He voted against Catholic relief, 6 Mar. 1827, 12 May 1828, and brought up a hostile Boston corporation petition, 1 Apr. 1828. He presented a petition for repeal of the Test Acts, 12 June 1827, and against, 25 Feb., and voted to retain them, 26 Feb. 1828.3 He divided against inquiry into chancery delays, 24 Apr. 1828. In February 1829, Planta, the Wellington ministry’s patronage secretary, predicted that he would vote ‘with government’ for their concession of Catholic emancipation, but he declared that he ‘saw no reason for changing his opinion’, 18 Feb., presented hostile petitions that day, 4, 10 Mar., and divided against the measure, 18, 27, 30 Mar. He presented a Boston petition for repeal of the window tax, 14 Apr. 1829. He later told the local press that he had voted for Knatchbull’s amendment to the address, 4 Feb. 1830, as he was convinced that distress was more general than ministers had allowed and was anxious for inquiry into means of alleviating it, but he does not appear in the minority lists.4 He divided against Lord Blandford’s parliamentary reform scheme, 18 Feb. He was credited with a vote against government on the treasurership of the navy, 12 Mar. He presented a Boston petition against relaxation of the retail beer trade, 30 Mar. He had attended the meetings of the West Indian merchants’ committee with fair regularity after his election to Parliament, and was present at the meeting of Members interested in the West India colonies, 2 June. He was subsequently one of the delegates appointed by the West India merchants’ committee to press their case for relief over rum duties with the board of trade, 5 June.5 He voted against Jewish emancipation, 17 May, abolition of the death penalty for forgery, 7 June, and to amend the sale of beer bill, 21 June 1830.

At the 1830 general election Malcolm offered again for Boston, where he was stigmatized by Drakard’s Stamford News as a ‘ministerialist, anti-reformist and slave-possessor’, who was hand in glove with the corporation and a ‘wretched speaker’. On the hustings he was censured for his lax attendance, his conduct over the beer bill and his extra-parliamentary support for the West India interest, but in his defence he challenged anyone to say that he had not attended to his constituents’ interests and claimed to have ‘voted against ministers on many great questions, and so I will again if I think they are wrong’. He supported retrenchment, but would have shirked his responsibilities had he voted for ‘wild expedients’ and an ‘inconsiderate reduction of taxation’. Barracked over his hostility to universal suffrage and the ballot, he doubted whether in America ‘anything like the freedom you enjoy exists’. He was no advocate of slavery, but he condemned the libels of the anti-slavery societies and the impracticable measures advocated by their adherents. After a violent contest he was returned at the head of the poll. At his celebratory dinner he denied that the privileges of the corporation were at variance with the interests of the people, conceded that his confidence in the administration had been shaken by the passage of emancipation, but renounced ‘factious opposition’.6

Malcolm was listed by ministers among the ‘moderate Ultras’ and he voted against them in the crucial division on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830. He continued to attend the standing committee of the West India interest and was in the minority of 39 to relax duties on the import of wheat to the West Indies, 12 Nov.7 He was applauded by the Gazette for his ‘liberal conduct’ on the civil list but his popularity was short-lived. In response to a request to support the Boston reform petition, 3 Dec., he told James Staniland, the chairman of the meeting appointed to promote it, that an extended franchise and shorter parliaments would not improve the constitution and that he was strongly opposed to the ballot and therefore compelled to withhold his support. However, on 16 Dec. 1830, when his colleague presented the petition, he agreed that their constituents were suffering from heavy taxation and conceded that reform to ‘a certain extent is desirable’, though he could not countenance sweeping changes. That day he challenged the assertion of Sir William Amcotts Ingilby, one of the county Members, that the petition represented the feelings of the county at large. He declined to endorse a further Boston reform petition and defended the mayor’s refusal to comply with a requisition to convene a public meeting, 19 Mar. 1831.

Shortly afterwards, in a more explicit public letter to his constituents, he declared that although he was not opposed to all attempts to remedy the ‘acknowledged defects’ in the representative system, he considered the Grey ministry’s reform bill to be a ‘hazardous experiment’, which sanctioned the most ‘flagrant violation of all chartered rights’. He duly voted against its second reading, 22 Mar., and, in a published reply to a vote of thanks from an anti-reform meeting at Boston, 7 Apr., assured them that reform was not only ‘subversive of their rights and privileges’, but also dangerous to the ‘best institutions of the country’.8 Speaking in similar terms, he presented and endorsed a Boston anti-reform petition and promised ‘to offer all the opposition in my power to this measure, which I think most unwise and uncalled for’, 28 Mar. Declaring himself ‘undismayed by popular clamour’, he voted for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831.

At the ensuing general election Malcolm, who had treated the freemen with coals in the winter of 1830-1, started again for Boston as the corporation candidate, promising to defend the freemen’s rights and citing his vote on the civil list as proof of his support for ‘practicable retrenchment and economy’. Faced with escalating unrest and taunted as an anti-reformer, he withdrew, 28 Apr., following a ‘violent attack’ on Thomas Broughton’s house in Bargate, where he had been dining. He fled early on the following morning in a carriage and four driven at great speed. The corporation mostly held aloof thereafter, and such was the tumult when Malcolm was proposed in absentia by two diehards, that the hustings were completely destroyed. After a token contest he was defeated in third place.9 Malcolm married in July 1831 and appears to have resumed his business career, though he rarely attended the meetings of the West India committee over the next few years.10 His only son died in July 1835, followed a month later by his second daughter. His first wife died in 1837, as did his father, whose personal estate was proved at under £500,000 in England and valued at £49,955 in Scotland. After making provision for his daughters and younger son, all the family property, including his lands in England and the West Indies, passed to Malcolm. Among other bequests, including one to his factor in Argyllshire, he left £5,000 to an infant, Charles Temple, more often known as Charles McCullum Campbell, on the understanding that Malcolm would supervise his education and secure his future.11 Malcolm unsuccessfully contested Oxford as a Conservative in 1841.12 He continued the tradition of agricultural improvement on the Poltalloch estate and restored Duntroon Castle. Kilmartin House was his principal Scottish residence, though he retained the family properties in London and Kent. He remarried in 1843.13

Malcolm died at Brighton in October 1857. By his will, dated 18 July 1851, he devised £20,000 to each of his three surviving daughters and made ample provision for his second wife. He possessed estates in British colonies other than Jamaica, including Australia, and he directed his executors to sell these in order to purchase additional land in Britain. When the will was made Malcolm still hoped for an heir, but in the absence of male issue many of its provisions were void and the family estates passed to his brother John Malcolm (1805-93), whose son and heir John Wingfield Malcolm (1833-1902), was Member for Boston, 1860-78, and Argyllshire, 1886-92. He was created Baron Malcolm of Portalloch in 1896, but the peerage became extinct on his death.14

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Authors: Philip Salmon / Simon Harratt


  • 1. Inst. of Commonwealth Stud. M915, reel 9, cttee. of standing members; [W. Carpenter], People’s Bk. (1831), 323.
  • 2. Boston Gazette, 9, 16 May, 6, 13 June; Drakard’s Stamford News, 12 May; The Times, 27 May 1826;
  • 3. The Times, 13 June 1827.
  • 4. Boston Gazette, 3 Aug. 1830.
  • 5. M915, reel 4 (minutes 1822-29), 175, 352, 357, 375, 381; mins. 1829-34, 11, 27, 75-78, 97; M915, reel 11, meeting, 2 June 1830.
  • 6. Boston Gazette, 29 June, 20, 27 July, 3 Aug.; Drakard’s Stamford News, 9, 16, 30 July 1830.
  • 7. M915, reel 4 (minutes 1829-34), 130, 149, 157, 164, 169.
  • 8. Boston Gazette, 23 Nov., 7, 28 Dec. 1830, 22 Mar., 15 Apr. 1831.
  • 9. Ibid. 26 Apr., 3 May 1831; G.S. Bagley, Boston, 203-4.
  • 10. M915, reel 4 (minutes 1829-34), 231, 327.
  • 11. PROB 11/1873/56-7; IR26/1456/45-6.
  • 12. The Times, 1 July 1841.
  • 13. New Statistical Account of Scotland (1845), vii. 552, 559, 561-3; Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland (1895), vi. 214.
  • 14. PROB 11/2260/288; IR26/2106/957; Gent. Mag. (1857), ii. 573.