Scottish County

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Background Information

Number of voters:

20 in 1722



Main Article

After the Union the Dunbartonshire representation fell into the maw of the Duke of Argyll, though the way in which this happened remains a mystery. Elections to the Scottish parliament were relatively open. The 1st Duke of Argyll was closely concerned in the contest in 1702, in which his brother James Campbell* was standing, and the Marquess (later Duke) of Montrose, who controlled the Lennox estate, also lurked in the background, the Marquess’s factor William Cochrane* of Kilmaronock being another of the candidates. But there was no overpowering magnate interest, the sheriffdom remaining in Montrose’s hands, and lesser barons such as the Colquhouns still enjoyed a significant interest in their own right. Indeed, the electoral court of 1702 saw the Country party pairing of Cochrane and Sir Humphrey Colquhoun, 5th Bt., of Luss defeat James Campbell and Napier of Kilmahew (who may have been a nominee of Lord Glencairn, another peer with a residual interest in the county). The fact that Cochrane was a pillar of episcopalianism in Dunbartonshire and his partner a staunch Presbyterian and Revolution-man suggests that religious animosity was not a factor in the contest.1

As the general election of 1708 approached there were rumours of two candidates for the shire: Colquhoun’s son-in-law and eventual heir James Grant (a younger brother of Alexander Grant*), and Mungo Haldane†, son of John Haldane* of Gleneagles, a close adherent of Montrose, but not sponsored by Cochrane, at least as far as can be ascertained, for Cochrane had in fact pitched his aim elsewhere, and seems to have ignored preparations in Dunbarton. A local correspondent of Montrose informed the Duke that Cochrane had sent a message to Sir John Schaw, 3rd Bt.*, of Greenock,

telling if he would stand for him in Renfrew[shire] he would stand for him in Dunbarton[shire], and that Sir John Schaw’s answer was, if he would stand for him in Renfrew he would stand for him in Dunbarton, and therefore it seems they have the shire of Dunbarton for a refuge to either that’s disappointed . . .

The writer concluded that the county representation appeared to have been left to Grant, except for an ominous report that ‘Argyll is to make a step . . . for some friend, which they make a great secret and by which both Kilmaronock and Sir John are discouraged to depend upon it’. The ‘friend’ turned out to be Argyll’s uncle, Hon. John Campbell of Mamore, who was duly returned ‘unanimously’, according to an Edinburgh newspaper. Campbell was re-elected in 1710, without any evidence of a contest, and again in 1713, when the newspaper repeated the description ‘unanimously’. On the latter occasion Argyll’s brother Ilay explicitly recorded that Dunbartonshire had chosen a person ‘we recommended’.2

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. Buccleuch mss at Drumlanrig Castle, bdle. 1151, no.23, [-] to [Queensberry], 25 Sept. 1702; Atholl mss at Blair Atholl, box 45, bdle. II, nos. 169, 245-6, Duke of Hamilton to [Tullibardine], 20 Aug, 1702, [3rd] Duchess of Hamilton to [same], 26 Oct. 1702, John Haldane* to [same], 26 Oct. 1702; Bk. of Dumbartonshire, i. 285; HMC Hamilton, ii. 157; APS, xi. 43-44; Sir W. Fraser, Chiefs of Colquhoun, i. 314-20; Seafield Letters, 23; Christ Church, Oxf. Wake mss 5, f. 13; Orig. Pprs. ed. Macpherson, ii. 12.
  • 2. Bk. of Dumbartonshire, 285, 304; SRO, Montrose mss GD220/5/160/2, Lady Callendar to Montrose, 19 Feb. 1708; GD220/5/150/3, John Grahame to same, 28 Feb. 1708; Fraser, 310; Edinburgh Courant, 18-21 June 1708; Scots Courant, 21-23 Sept. 1713; Herts. RO, Panshanger mss D/EP F54, ff. 8-9.