CAMPBELL, Hon. John (c.1660-1729), of Mamore, Dunbarton.

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



1707 - 1708
1708 - 1722
23 Jan. 1725 - 1727

Family and Education

b. c.1660, 2nd s. of Archibald Campbell, 9th Earl of Argyll [S]; bro. of Archibald, 1st Duke of Argyll [S] and Hon. James Campbell*.  educ. Glasgow 1676.  m. 1692 (with 18,000 merks), Elizabeth (d. 1758), da. of John, 8th Ld. Elphinstone [S], 7s. (3 d.v.p.) 6 da.1

Offices Held

?Capt. of ft. Earl of Argyll’s regt. 1689–aft. 1690; commr. justiciary for Highlands [S] 1701, 1702; jt. master of King’s works [S] 1705–Nov. 1714, sole Nov. 1714–17.2

MP [S] Argyllshire 1700–7.

Burgess, Edinburgh 1708, Ayr 1718.3


Except for one brief episode shortly after the Union, Campbell did not separate from the Argathelian interest no matter how far family loyalty was stretched. Having participated, albeit reluctantly, in his father’s disastrous rising against James II, he suffered forfeiture and banishment after the commutation of his original capital conviction. Although restored at the Revolution, he remained in financial difficulties. ‘Being a Scots younger brother’, he explained to Lord Lauderdale, ‘and forced to purchase lands even in several remote shires to undertake payment of one half to get the other allowed in payment of my patrimony from my brother Argyll, straitens me so much that unless I get in the debts that are owing me I must ruin.’ He entered the Scottish parliament in 1700 as a Court supporter and attended the ‘rump’ parliament of 1702 alongside Argyll. The succession of his nephew to the dukedom made no appreciable difference to his attitude, even though he bore the brunt of a legal action brought by one Margaret Alison in pursuit of a debt owed by the deceased 1st Duke, suffering arrest and incarceration before he was bailed. In 1704 he followed his nephew in supporting the ‘New Party’ administration, and voted against the Duke of Hamilton’s motion to postpone the settlement of the succession. He was granted a share in the office of master of the King’s works in Scotland (at a salary of £200 Scots p.a.) on Argyll’s formal entry into the ministry in 1705. It was probably just as well that he was unaware that in the preceding discussions Argyll had been willing to sacrifice his uncle’s pretensions for an improvement in his own position.4

Campbell voted with the Court over the Union, with occasional absences, the most significant of which occurred over the issue of shire and burgh representation. He was regarded by the Court as safe enough to be chosen to the first Parliament of Great Britain, and may have been the ‘Mr Campbell’ whose arrival in Westminster was greeted with nomination on 10 Nov. 1707 to the committee on the Address. Apart from this, his appearances in the Journals in this session are impossible to distinguish from namesakes. He opposed the Squadrone campaign for the abolition of the Scottish privy council, a measure which Argyll had favoured until realizing that his own hereditary powers were threatened by a related scheme to unify the powers of j.p.s throughout Britain. Campbell reported to the Earl of Breadalbane on 27 Jan. 1708 that

his Grace now finds [the] Squadrone intends to lay him low, for the bill about the council, justices of peace and circuit courts is passed our House, though we struggled all we could. This has calmed him, and after some reasonings he is to give me a scheme how he intends to have my son educated.5

In April 1708 Campbell made strong representations to the Scottish customs commissioners in favour of two Campbells removed from office in Port Glasgow, sending a ‘blustering’ letter in which among other things he claimed to be on very good terms personally with Lord Treasurer Godolphin (Sidney†). He encountered no difficulties at the general election, and was returned unanimously for Dunbartonshire. His subsequent attendance may have been impaired by ill-health, however. He voted for the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell, and when re-elected in 1710 was classed as a Whig by the Duchess of Buccleuch’s chaplain, Richard Dongworth. He made no significant impact on the parliamentary record in this Parliament, and was noted as being absent in Scotland at the time of the division on the toleration bill in February 1712, and for both divisions on the French commerce bill (4 and 18 June 1713). Argyll’s involvement with the ministry safeguarded his share of the mastership of the works, and in 1711, when the Duke was still in favour at Court, Campbell received a grant of £100 as royal bounty in response to a petition for arrears of salary. The money came at an opportune time, as he was anxiously engaged in the pursuit of his debts while at the same time being under threat of horning from his own creditors. Re-elected for Dunbartonshire in 1713, Campbell also served as praeses at the Argyllshire election. Predictably described by Lord Polwarth as a ‘Hanoverian’, he was up at Westminster in time to vote on 12 May 1714 in favour of extending the schism bill to cover Catholic education. Given his previous record of attendance, it seems more likely that his eldest son, John, newly returned for Buteshire, was the more active Member in this session. John snr. was subsequently classified as a Whig both in the Worsley list and in a list of the Members re-elected in 1715.6

Shortly after the Hanoverian succession Campbell was promoted to sole master of works, with his salary raised by half. During the Fifteen he took a leading part in local preparations to secure Dunbartonshire against the Jacobites. Upon going into opposition with Argyll in 1717 he lost his office, and though he was not compensated personally when Argyll returned to power in 1725, he remained faithful to his chief after regaining a Commons seat in a by-election that year. He stood down in favour of his eldest son in 1727 and died on 9 Apr. 1729.7

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. Scots Peerage ed. Paul, i. 318–19; Recs. Glasgow Univ. (Maitland Club, lxxii), iii. 132; W. Fraser, Lds. Elphinstone of Elphinstone, i. 234.
  • 2. Reg. PC Scotland, 1690, p. 649; 1691, p. 477; CSP Dom. 1700–2, p. 338; 1702–3, p. 354; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxix. 689.
  • 3. Scot. Rec. Soc. lxii. 32; Carnegie Lib. Ayr, Ayr burgh recs. B6/18/9, council mins. 4 Apr. 1718.
  • 4. Hist. Scot. Parl. 100; Reg. PC Scotland, 1685–6, pp. 164, 592–3; APS, ix. 166; Lauderdale mss at Thurlestane Castle, Campbell to [Lauderdale], 29 Apr. 1701; info. from Dr P. W. J. Riley on members of Scot. parl.; P. W. J. Riley, King Wm. and Scot. Politicians, 166, 170; Argyle Pprs. 101–2; P. W. J. Riley, Union, 127–8; Boyer, Anne Annals, iii. app. 43; Fraser, Melvilles, i. 278–9.
  • 5. Orig. Pprs. ed. Macpherson, ii. 18; info. from Dr Riley; Riley, Union, 331; SRO, Breadalbane mss GD112/39/210/13, Campbell of Mamore to [Breadalbane], n.d. [1707/8]; GD112/39/ 211/27, same to [same], 27 Jan. 1708.
  • 6. SRO, Inveraray sheriff ct. recs. SC54/21/1, pp. 1–9, Argyll electoral ct. mins. 1708–13; Edinburgh Courant, 18–21 June 1708; Cal. Treas. Pprs. 1708–14, pp. 26–27, 287; Breadalbane mss GD112/39/232/7, Campbell of Mamore to [Breadalbane], 15 Sept. 1709; GD112/39/210/14, Breadalbane to Ld. Glenorchy and Colin Campbell, n.d.; NLS, ms 1392, f. 80; Advocates’ mss, Wodrow letters Quarto 7, f. 126; Parlty. Hist. i. 69; Lauderdale mss, Campbell to Lauderdale, 13 Aug. 1709, 1 Apr. 1710.
  • 7. Cal. Treas. Bks. 784; Bk. of Dumbartonshire, i. 297–8, 303; P. W. J. Riley, Eng. Ministers and Scotland, 266; Hist. Scot. Parl. 100.