GRAHAM (GRAEME), Mungo (1670-1754), of Gorthy, Perth.

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
1710 - 10 Feb. 1711

Family and Education

bap. 23 Dec. 1670, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Mungo Graham of Gorthy by his 2nd w. Mary, da. of Sir William Murray, 1st Bt., MP [S], of Ochtertyre, Perth.  educ. St. Andrews Univ. (St. Salvator’s Coll.) 1687; ?travelled abroad. unmsuc. fa. 1671.1

Offices Held

Commr. justiciary for Highlands [S] 1702, Equivalent [S] 1707–9; receiver-gen. and cashier of customs and salt duties [S] Jan. 1715–33; trustee, fisheries and manufactures [S] 1727–d.2

MP [S] Perthshire 1702–7.

Commr. visitation, Glasgow Univ. 1717, 1718, vice-rector Jan.–Dec. 1718, rector Dec. 1718–20; burgess, Edinburgh 1720.3


Graham’s parliamentary behaviour was dictated by the requirements of his distant cousin the 4th Marquess (from 1707 1st Duke) of Montrose, whom he served as a general man-of-business, uniting the functions of factor, personal secretary, political lieutenant and election manager, and keeping his own residence either in Montrose’s London house or in Buchanan Castle, the Marquess’s Scottish seat. In his loyalty to the house of Montrose he was following the example set by his grandfather, David, the first Graham laird of Gorthy (himself the son of a bishop of Orkney), who had fought beside the 1st Marquess in the Civil Wars. David Graham had been given a prominent role in the ceremonial recovery of the Marquess’s remains at the Restoration, his particular privilege being to remove the decapitated head from its spike outside Edinburgh’s toll booth. What happened became a family legend. Overcome by emotion he kissed the skull on raising it, and that very night died suddenly from a sudden and mysterious affliction. In a macabre commemoration of the incident, the new coat of arms issued to his son featured a skull borne aloft in two hands under a coronet.4

Mungo Graham was barely five months old when he succeeded his father. During his minority his affairs were in the hands of an uncle, who held the clerkship of the bills under James II but took the oaths to William and Mary and managed to escape any consequences from innuendoes that he was a Jacobite. As an undergraduate at St. Andrews, Graham’s sole recorded achievement was to win a silver arrow in an archery competition. Other than his losses in the Company of Scotland, which ran to £700, nothing is known of him in adulthood until the beginning of Queen Anne’s reign, when he was appointed in quick succession a commissioner of justiciary for the Highlands and a commissioner of supply for Perthshire, and was elected on a Country party ticket as one of the representatives of the county to the Scottish parliament. Probably he was already working for Montrose, whose influence had certainly boosted his electoral prospects; a year or so later he was despatched to London on the Marquess’s behalf to negotiate the purchase of the Lennox and Darnley estates. In parliament the Graham ‘name’ was solidly cavalier, Montrose and his factor leading the way in their involvement with the opposition of 1703. The following year, when Montrose’s closest political friends took over responsibility for Court management in the ‘New Party’ experiment, the Grahams remained in opposition. Montrose himself may have felt a conflict of loyalties, but he and Mungo Graham joined in voting for the Duke of Hamilton’s motion to postpone the settlement of the succession. With the return of his friends to opposition in 1705 Montrose resumed his correspondence and later took the initiative in persuading the Squadrone to support the Union. Mungo Graham not only followed willingly but actively assisted, as a go-between in discussions with other magnates. Over the Union he voted the Squadrone line precisely, whereas the rest of the Grahams opposed it. Graham now found himself in the front rank of the Squadrone, and in that capacity was nominated to the commission on the Equivalent, and selected for the Scottish contingent in the first Parliament of Great Britain. Although the Equivalent commissionership was at first unsalaried, an upturn in his financial affairs would seem to be indicated by the fact that in 1707 he was able to purchase the barony of Ogilvy from Murray of Abercairny.5

By nature laconic, Graham was unlikely to have been a frequent speaker, and no speech by him at Westminster is known. However, it was probably he, rather than James Grahme*, who was appointed on 11 Mar. 1708 to draft the bill to discharge Highland clansmen of their obligations to disloyal chieftains. Graham, despite helping to co-ordinate the Squadrone election campaign in 1708, was unable to find a safe seat for himself. Since John Haldane* evidently stood a better chance than he did of carrying Perthshire, he was forced back on the local burghs district, where he stood unsuccessfully. In 1709 he suffered the further ‘mortification’ of being dropped from the commission of the Equivalent. At the next general election something had to be done for him. In the county of Perth the election of the Duke of Atholl’s brother, Lord James Murray*, seemed a foregone conclusion, so Montrose’s stepfather, (Sir) John Bruce* (2nd Bt.), hereditary sheriff of Kinross-shire, engineered Graham’s return for that county, where he possessed no landed property, through the creation of fictitious votes and the unscrupulous exploitation of the sheriff’s constitutional powers.6

Graham arrived at Westminster shortly before Parliament opened to find that his defeated opponent in Kinross-shire, Sir John Malcolm, 1st Bt.*, had petitioned against him. At first he thought the petition this had come in ‘so late that I’m afraid I shall not get my doom this session’, as he reported jocularly to Montrose. It soon became clear, however, that there was a strong probability of judgment being given in the first session, and because of weaknesses in his own case, and his unpopularity with Tory interests in Parliament, he was convinced that things would go badly, though only so far as to end in the election being declared void. In party terms, some uncertainty still hung about his own allegiance. Scottish Tories were quite clear in their opinion of him: Richard Dongworth, chaplain to the Duchess of Buccleuch, described him as a Whig in an analysis of the election results, and Malcolm’s petition received the benefit of enthusiastic advice and assistance from such Tory figures as the Earl of Mar’s brother, Lord Grange SCJ (Hon. James Erskine†) and Sir Alexander Areskine, 2nd Bt.* In England, however, observers were not so sure: Dyer’s newsletter welcomed Graham’s return to Parliament on the grounds that he was ‘a person well affected to the Queen and episcopacy’, while the ‘Hanover list’ also marked him down as a Tory, possibly on account of his patron’s cavalier past. This uncertainty reflects the awkward position in which Montrose found himself. Hitherto the Duke had retained his place as lord privy seal for Scotland under the new Tory dispensation, and he remained in Scotland awaiting developments. On his behalf Graham continued to consult Squadrone allies like the Duke of Roxburghe and George Baillie*, and through them received the advice of the Junto lords. But Montrose was by no means bound by Whig decisions, and there is some circumstantial evidence to support the notion that Graham, on his own and his patron’s behalf, was doing his best to avoid giving offence to Robert Harley’s* ministry. On 12 Dec., for example, when the Scottish Members met together to discuss Edward Wortley Montagu’s* place bill, Graham declared himself against the measure ‘on any terms’; a week later, he was absent from the vote on the Bewdley election, possibly from political discretion; and his appearance on a list of ‘Tory patriots’ opposed to the continuance of the war may well indicate a general ministerialist drift in his Commons voting. The regular reports he sent back to Montrose, though they contain some detailed accounts of debates, mention no speech of his own and reveal surprisingly little of his parliamentary contacts. The single vote he records occurred on 27 Jan. 1711 when, in common with other Scots, he opposed an extension of the coal duty. From his descriptions of proceedings it is possible to infer that he entertained a broad sympathy for the English Whig opposition, in its less factious manifestations, but stopped a little short of identifying himself as a Whig. At the same time he could still enjoy friendships with men on the other side of the House, some of them High Tories of the complexion of James Grahme and John Manley. But he did make a point of distinguishing between Tories of this vintage and the new intake of younger men, whose partisanship was in general more rancorous, and whose rhetoric could be ‘gross’. In the end it was the antagonism of such new Tories, from both sides of the border, that was to be his downfall. When the petition was heard, on 10 Feb., at the bar of the House, the outcome was even worse than Graham had originally feared. So intimidating was the Tory majority that he finally abandoned his defence and allowed Malcolm to be seated in his stead. Of his compatriots, he had been able to muster votes from the Squadrone and one or two followers of the Queensberry–Dalrymple interest, but the Scottish Tories had either voted against him or had ‘skulked’ in the gallery to avoid committing themselves publicly. The English Members had divided on party lines, Whigs favouring Graham but the Tories, with the exception of James Grahme, determined against him.7

Graham did not attempt any constituency in 1713, nor did he stand in the more favourable political climate of 1715. Seven years later his last chance of a return to the Commons disappeared when an anticipated spare seat failed to materialize. However, his political influence increased with that of his master, and as late as the 1740s he remained a key figure in the Squadrone’s political management in Scotland, his energy, experience and shrewd, often cynical, advice making up for a certain stiffness in personal relations. There were more tangible benefits as well. At the Hanoverian succession he had been granted a post in the Scottish customs worth some £300 a year, which he held until Montrose’s dismissal from office in 1733. He also involved himself in the purchase of estates forfeited by Jacobite rebels. But although he was now a man of some wealth in his own right, he continued to live in the household of the 2nd Duke of Montrose, a faithful retainer to the end. He died at Buchanan Castle on 26 Nov. 1754, and was succeeded by his kinsman, Lieutenant-Colonel David Graham of Braco in Perthshire. In the latter stages of his life nostalgic contemporaries regarded him, by virtue of his advanced years, as almost an embodiment of bygone virtues. ‘From what I had occasion to hear from people who were intimately acquainted with him’, wrote Ramsay of Ochtertyre, ‘he was a man highly esteemed for his worth, knowledge and strength of intellect, and his good qualities were not diminished by his having lived in first-rate company at home and abroad, and being well-read in books.’8

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. Hist. Scot. Parl. 292–3; L. G. Graeme, Or and Sable, 464–7; Ramsay of Ochtertyre, Scotland and Scotsmen in 18th Cent. ii. 295.
  • 2. CSP Dom. 1702–3, p. 354; Boyer, Anne Annals, vi. 234; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxiii. 234; xxix. 245; xxx. 548; Cal. Treas. Bks. and Pprs. 1731–4, p. 521; J. S. Shaw, Management of Scot. Soc. 69, 74.
  • 3. Recs. Glasgow Univ. (Maitland Club, lxxii), ii. 566–7; iii. 336, 342, 400; Scot. Rec. Soc. lxii. 83.
  • 4. Scots Peerage ed. Paul, vi. 262; R. M. Sunter, Patronage and Pol. in Scotland, 10–11, 200–5; J. Stewart, The Grahams, 17–20; Graeme, 454, 457–60, 462–3, 467–8; A. Nisbet, System of Heraldry (1804), i. 80.
  • 5. Graeme, 466–7; Reg. PC Scotland, 1689, pp. 297, 589; Darien Pprs. (Bannatyne Club, xc), 375, 408; APS, xi. 22, 72, 102; Scots Peerage, 262; Ramsay of Ochtertyre, 295; Cromartie Corresp. i. 224; info. from Dr P. W. J. Riley on members of Scot. parl.; Boyer, iii. app. 41–42; Baillie Corresp. 94, 104; P. W. J. Riley, Union, 327; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxii. 79; SP 57/27/50–51.
  • 6. SRO, Montrose mss GD220/5/802/11, 14, 17a, Graham to Montrose, 26 June, 6, 8 July 1708; GD220/5/804/8, same to same, 12 July 1709; GD220/5/806/19, 21, same to same, 28 Feb., 3 Mar. 1710; SRO, Mar and Kellie mss GD124/15/859/1, Ld. Dupplin (George Hay*) to Mar, 27 Mar. 1708; GD124/15/868/1, Mar to Ld. Stair, 20 June 1708.
  • 7. Montrose mss GD220/5/807/1–4, 6, 11a, Graham to Montrose, 23, 25, 28, 30 Nov., 7, 19 Dec. 1710; GD220/5/808/1a, 9, 11–12, 17, 18a–b, same to same, 2, 20, 27, 30 Jan., 10, 13 Feb. 1711; SHR, lx. 65; Mar and Kellie mss GD124/15/1011/2, Sir Alexander Areskine to Grange, 5 Dec. 1710; GD124/15/1020/1, 4, Sir James Dunbar, 1st Bt.*, to same, 5, 19 Dec. 1710; Add. 70421, Dyer’s newsletter 26 Oct. 1710; HMC Mar and Kellie, i. 486.
  • 8. Add. 61496, f. 78; Sunter, 22, 62–63, 69–70, 73, 82; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxx. 548; Cal. Treas. Pprs. 1720–8, p. 236; Scots Mag. 1754, p. 548; Graeme, 478; Ramsay of Ochtertyre, 295.