CAMPBELL, James (c.1666-1752), of Ardkinglas, Argyll.

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 - 1734
1734 - 1741

Family and Education

b. c.1666, 1st s. of Sir Colin Campbell, 1st Bt., MP [S], of Ardkinglas by Helen, da. of Patrick Maxwell, MP [S], of Newark, Renfrew.  m. (1) by 1697, Margaret, da. and coh. of Adam Campbell (d.1704) of Gargunnock, Stirling, 1s. d.v.p. 8da. (at least 1 d.v.p.); (2) contract 23 Aug. 1731, Anne, da. of John Callendar of Craigforth, St. Ninian’s, Stirling, wid. of Lt.-Col. John Blackadder, dep. gov. Stirling castle 1717–d., s.psuc. fa. as 2nd Bt. Apr. 1709.1

Offices Held

Commr. justiciary for Highlands [S] 1701, 1702; lt. and brig. 4 Life Gds. (Scots Life Gds.) 1704, exempt and capt. Mar. 1708, guidon and maj. June 1708, cornet and maj. 1710, lt. and lt.-col. 1711–15; dep. gov. Stirling Castle 1715–17; muster master [S] 1734–?42.2

MP [S] Argyllshire 1703–7.

Burgess, Edinburgh 1704.3


The most faithful of Argyll’s Campbell dependants in the Commons, Ardkinglas was returned unopposed for Argyllshire at each general election in this period. Earlier in the 17th century his family had given exemplary loyalty to their clan chief: Campbell’s grandfather had served as colonel of a Highland regiment during the Civil Wars, and been excepted from the act of indemnity in 1662; his father, the first baronet, arrested in 1684 on suspicion of corresponding with the fugitive 9th Earl of Argyll, had suffered forfeiture and lengthy imprisonment upon admitting that he had sent Argyll money, and by the time of his eventual release, after the abortive rising of 1685, claimed to have exhausted his ‘little fortune and estate’. At the Revolution Sir Colin Campbell was appointed sheriff depute of Argyllshire. Whether the crown met his claim for compensation for past sufferings is not known. Returned as a commissioner to the estates in 1693, he supported the Court, and the 1st Duke of Argyll, in the 1698 parliament and again in 1700–1. He also joined other courtiers in attendance at the ‘rump’ parliament of 1702.4

James Campbell succeeded his father as commissioner for Argyllshire at the general election of 1702 and was listed as a Court supporter. He appears to have performed his service in the Scottish estates as a moderately unquestioning follower of the 1st and 2nd dukes of Argyll, being present at a selective meeting of Court party men in 1702, and voting in 1704 against the Duke of Hamilton’s motion on the succession. In return he received a commission in the Life Guards, and in 1705 he was admitted to his burgess-ship of Edinburgh in the 2nd Duke’s retinue. In the Union parliament he generally followed the Court line, with few absences. His one vote against occurred on the question of shire and burgh representation, an act of self-assertion which drew down upon him the full wrath of his patron. As Sir James Campbell, 5th Bt.*, of Auchinbreck reported:

The vote about writers [to the signet] being capable to be lords of session was the first thing disobliged [the] D[uke of] Argyll at Ardkinglas, and the barons’ vote allowing no peer’s son to represent them was what entirely disobliged him. He sent Ronald Campbell to Ardkinglas and me to inform us that if we did not vote with him against the barons we should never see him, and hitherto we have not.5

Reconciliation came swiftly, however: Campbell was included on the Court slate as one of the Scottish MPs in the first Parliament of Great Britain, where he was the only one of Argyll’s dependants to remain obedient throughout the session, even supporting the bill to complete the Union (which abolished the Scottish privy council and the heritable jurisdictions) when other Campbells opposed it. He also received promotion in the army. Judging by the frequency with which he was mentioned in the Journals after he had succeeded his father in the baronetcy, it seems reasonable to suppose that he was more often than not the ‘Mr Campbell’ named in 1707–9. In his first session, local interest guaranteed his presence on the drafting committee on the East Tarbert harbour bill (18 Feb.). In 1710, now distinguishable by his baronet’s title, he was named on 16 Feb. to the committee to prepare the bill to explain and enlarge the Act for better securing her Majesty’s person and government. As would be expected of a leading Presbyterian elder, Campbell voted for the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell.6

Campbell’s adherence to Argyll led him to be classified as a Court Tory in the list of the newly elected Scottish Members compiled in the autumn of 1710 by the Duchess of Buccleuch’s episcopalian chaplain Richard Dongworth, but he was enough of a Whig to divide for the Squadrone Member Mungo Graham* in the division on 10 Feb. 1711 on the Kinross-shire election. He was markedly less active in this session, but was named on 14 Mar. to draft the bill to encourage the provision of naval stores in North Britain. In 1711–12 he may have been absent entirely: he was certainly in Scotland at the time of the critical division in February 1712 on the toleration bill. He was back at Westminster the following year, when he participated in manoeuvres by Scottish representatives in both Houses to promote the dissolution of the Union in the wake of the malt tax crisis. He told on two occasions in this session: on 7 May 1713 to adjourn the debate on the public accounts, and on 2 June in favour of putting the question to condemn the Royal African Company’s trading monopoly. He voted on 4 June against giving a second reading to the French commerce bill, but was absent at the vote on engrossment on the 18th, possibly reflecting Argyll’s ambiguous relationship with the ministry at this time and on this issue.7

By the time Parliament met again in 1714, Argyll and his brother Ilay had taken up a stance of unequivocal opposition to the Court, and Ardkinglas (who had been marked as a ‘Hanoverian’ in Lord Polwarth’s analysis of Scottish returns) displayed strongly Whiggish colours. He voted on 18 Mar. 1714 against the expulsion of Richard Steele, and on 15 Apr. made a powerful speech in the debate on the succession, arguing that ‘we cannot be out of danger while it is a test and a crime to say we are so’, and describing the ‘gentry of Scotland’ as ‘professed Jacobites’. He then voted on 12 May in favour of the motion of Robert Walpole II to extend the scope of the schism bill to include papists. Aside from the drafting committee on a bill to curb wool smuggling (9 Mar.), his significant parliamentary activity in this Parliament centred upon Scottish affairs. He was named to the committee charged on 28 May with drawing up a bill to explain the Linen Act and was a teller on 24 June against adding a clause to the bill discharging the Equivalent commissioners.8

Campbell may have been a signatory to the Edinburgh proclamation of George I, and was certainly one of the loyal Scottish Members ‘expected in town’ for the short parliamentary session in August 1714. He naturally appeared as a Whig on the Worsley list, having been returned once more on the Argathelian interest in 1715. Meanwhile he had transferred from the Life Guards to the deputy governorship of Stirling Castle, again presumably through his patron’s influence. Although removed in the purge of Argyll’s followers 1717, he remained a steady supporter of the Duke in the years that followed, and eventually secured his reward in 1734 with appointment to the office of muster master for Scotland.9

Campbell died at Gargunnock on 5 July 1752, aged 86. Lacking a surviving son, he left his estates to his grandson James Livingston, afterwards Sir James Campbell, who sat for Stirlingshire 1747–68.

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. Hist. Scot. Parl. 90–91; SRO Indexes, iii. 731; ix. 248; Services of Heirs (ser. 1), i. 1700–9, p. 5; Scot. Rec. Soc. xxii. 17, 30; xxxv. 48; HMC Stuart, iv. 155; Stirling Burgh Recs. 1667–1752, 219, 224.
  • 2. CSP Dom. 1702–3, p. 354.
  • 3. Scot. Rec. Soc. lxii. 31.
  • 4. NRA [S] Rep. 631, p. 706; APS, vi(1), 673; vi(2), 625; vii. 416; viii. app. p. 32; ix. app. p. 92; Reg. PC Scotland, 1684–5, pp. 27, 46, 97; 1685–6, pp. 33, 533, 558; 1689, p. 472; Lauder of Fountainhall, Hist. Notices (Bannatyne Club, lxxxvii), 553, 556; HMC 12th Rep. VIII, 13; P. W. J. Riley, King Wm. and Scot. Politicians, 170.
  • 5. NLS, ms 14498, ff. 82–83; info. from Dr P. W. J. Riley on members of Scot. parl.; SRO, Clerk of Penicuik mss GD18/3124/119 (ex inf. Dr Riley); P. W. J. Riley, Union, 331; SRO, Breadalbane mss GD112/39/ 204/8–9, Campbell of Auchinbreck to [Breadalbane], 10, 14 Feb. 1707.
  • 6. Breadalbane mss GD112/39/210/13, Hon. John Campbell* to [Breadalbane], n.d. [1707/8]; Acts of Gen. Assembly of Church of Scotland, 388.
  • 7. SHR, lx. 63; SRO, Montrose mss GD220/5/ 808/18a-b, Graham to Montrose, 13 Feb. 1711; NLS, ms 1392, f. 80; Aberdeen Univ. Lib. Duff House (Montcoffer) mss 3175/2380, ‘Resolution of the Commons to Call a Meeting of the Lords’, May 1713; Parlty. Hist. i. 65, 69.
  • 8. NLS, Advocates’ mss, Wodrow pprs. letters Quarto 8, ff. 95–96; Douglas diary (Hist. of Parl. trans.), 15 Apr. 1714.
  • 9. Boyer, Pol. State, viii. 125.