CAMPBELL, John (c.1693-1770), 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



1713 - 1715
7 Apr. 1715 - 1722
25 Jan. 1725 - 1727
1727 - 1761

Family and Education

b. c.1693, 1st s. of Hon. John Campbell*; bro. of Charles† and William Campbell†.  m. c. 22 Oct. 1720, Mary (d. 1736), da. of John, 2nd Ld. Bellenden [S], maid of honour to Caroline, Princess of Wales, 5s.(2 d.v.p.) 1da.  suc. fa. 1729, cos. Archibald Campbell as 4th Duke of Argyll [S] 15 Apr. 1761; KT 7 Aug. 1765.1

Offices Held

Ens. 3 Ft. Gds. (Scots Gds.) Oct. 1710, capt.-lt. and lt.-col. 1712–Aug. 1715; groom of bedchamber to George II as Prince of Wales and King 1714–61, to George III 1761–?d.; a.d.c. to 2nd Duke of Argyll Sept. 1715–17; lt.-col. 9 Ft. 1720–2, 27 Ft. 1735–7, col. 39 Ft. 1737–8, 21 Ft. (R. Scots Fusiliers) 1738–52, 2 Drags. 1752–d.; gov. Milford Haven 1734–61, Limerick 1761–d.; brig.-gen. 1743, maj.-gen. 1744, lt.-gen. 1747, gen. 1765; PC 2 Jan. 1762.2

Burgess, Glasgow 1716, ?Edinburgh 1720.3

Rep. peer [S] 1761–d.


The decision to send the young Campbell of Mamore for a soldier was imposed by his cousins Argyll and Ilay, whom he was to succeed many years later in the dukedom. It was through their combined influence that his foot was placed on the first rung of the ladder of preferment, with the acquisition in 1710 of an ensign’s commission in the Scots Guards. But at one stage it had looked as if Argyll’s patronage would be withheld. During the winter of 1707–8, with the Duke’s political interest in some disarray, Campbell’s father went to attend his clan chief with a request for a recommendation to office on his own account, only to be refused peremptorily for having disregarded Argyll’s wishes in a Commons debate. ‘In the same breath’, he reported,

[Argyll] asked my son John of me to be educated as he thought fit, with a certification if I refused he would dispose of what he had as he pleased, and bid me not give a hasty answer, my son being the nearest of blood, and for whom he had a kindness, and bid me give my positive answer as soon as I could.

Mamore was nonplussed, and opted to do nothing. Fortunately, the difference was made up when the Duke realized that the bill to abolish the Scottish privy council and heritable jurisdictions, which he himself had supported but Campbell snr. and his other clansmen had opposed, was at least in part a stratagem devised by the Squadrone ‘to lay him low’. Not surprisingly, this discovery had a calming effect, wrote Mamore, ‘and after some reasoning he is to give me a scheme how he intends to have my son educated, and I am to give him to him’. The notion of a military career seems to have come later, and from Ilay, whose powers of cajolery were brought into play in the autumn of 1709 to ‘cement his brother’s friends’ as Argyll turned to a political alliance with Robert Harley* and the Tories. Mamore reported on this occasion a visit to Ilay, who appeared ‘in very good humour’, and arranged for Campbell jnr. to be sent to him ‘to try his inclinations. I am for breeding him a lawyer, and Ilay is for a commission in the army. I think both may be.’4

Having served in the Peninsula, and in command of the guards detachment sent to oversee the destruction of the fortifications at Dunkirk, Campbell entered Parliament at the 1713 general election while in all probability still a minor. His unopposed return on the Isle of Bute was owing to Argyll’s influence, and was part of a campaign to increase the Argathelian presence in the Commons in this Parliament. Lord Polwarth’s list of the Scottish representation marked him as a ‘Hanoverian’, that is to say a Whig, and he duly voted on 18 Mar. 1714 against the expulsion of Richard Steele. Either he or his father told on 7 May in favour of deferring the committee stage on the Scottish militia bill, an issue of particular concern to Argyll, whose hereditary rights were destined for abolition. This procedural manoeuvre, devised by George Lockhart*, effectively killed off the bill. Co-operation with Lockhart was merely tactical, however, and marked no shift in political allegiance. Campbell voted on 12 May for the Whig wrecking amendment to extend the schism bill to cover Catholic education.5

Campbell secured a seat in the 1715 Parliament for Elgin Burghs through Argyll’s personal intervention, and even then only on petition, following an election marked by the physical intimidation of his opponents in at least one council in the district. Listed as a Whig in the Worsley list and other analyses of the new House, he proved a loyal client of Argyll. After a long military career, which culminated in his appointment in the Forty-Five as general commanding in the western Highlands, and an equally prolonged stint of parliamentary service in the Argathelian cause, he succeeded to the dukedom himself in 1761, by which time he had become, in the words of a modern historian, ‘old and stupid’. He died on 9 Nov. 1770.6

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. Hist. Reg. Chron. 1720, p. 36; Scots Peerage ed. Paul, i. 383–6.
  • 2. Cal. Treas. Pprs. 1731–4, p. 682.
  • 3. Scot. Rec. Soc. lvi. 316; lxii. 32.
  • 4. SRO, Breadalbane mss GD112/39/210/13, Hon. John Campbell to [Breadalbane], n.d. 1707; GD112/39/112/27, same to [same], 27 Jan. 1708.
  • 5. Scots Courant, 21–23 Sept. 1713; NLS, Advocates’ mss, Wodrow pprs. letters Quarto 8, f. 118.
  • 6. More Culloden Pprs. ed. Warrand, ii. 60; iii. 161; R. M. Sunter, Patronage and Pol. in Scotland, 47–48, 77–78, 188; A. Murdoch, People Above, 109.