MACCLELLAN, Sir Samuel (c.1650-1709), of Edinburgh

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



1708 - 22 Sept. 1709

Family and Education

b. c.1650 s. of Patrick MacClellan of Girthon, Kirkcudbright, by Jean Primrose.  m. by 1694, Marjorie Thomson, 3s. 4da.  suc. fa. by 1677; kntd. by 1705.1

Offices Held

Burgess, Edinburgh 1679, Perth 1708; treasurer to Kirk sessions, Edinburgh 1690, merchant councillor 1692–3, baron bailie (Leith) 1693, old bailie 1695, treasurer 1696–8, old dean of guild 1702, magistrate 1704, dean of guild 1705, provost 1706–8; stewart and justiciar, Orkney and Shetland, 1697.2


The son of a Presbyterian minister in the stewartry of Kirkcudbright, MacClellan was apprenticed to an Edinburgh merchant, Robert Douglas, and admitted as a burgess in his own right in 1679 following Douglas’ demise. Although MacClellan retained some interest during the 1670s in property in the stewartry, his attention naturally focused on Edinburgh, where he became a prosperous cloth merchant. In 1681 he invested £100 in the recently sanctioned cloth manufactory at New Mills, Haddington, which was intended as a rival to its English counterparts. His involvement was spasmodic and was maintained concurrently with his, technically illegal, role as an importer of foreign cloth. From 1690 he and his partners secured a series of important contracts for military uniforms. In the Edinburgh poll tax returns of 1694 he was assessed at 10,000 merks, almost certainly an understatement designed to reduce his tax liability. This was not the only instance of sharp practice on his part, for in his dealings both with New Mills and with the burgh of Edinburgh, he evinced a canny unwillingness to settle outstanding balances. A process was initiated against him in 1700 in pursuit of a deficit of over £9,000 from his accounts as treasurer of Edinburgh town council. He settled this debt to the satisfaction of the council, but not before punitive sanctions had been taken against him by transferring a lucrative tack of the ale duty to another merchant. MacClellan acted as tacksman in a variety of concerns, notably via a grant of crown teinds, rents and victuals in Orkney and Shetland. This, together with his knighthood mark him as having close connexions with the Scottish Court party. Lord Glasgow, for example, in writing to the Duke of Queensberry in 1705, described MacClellan as a tacksman who would be amenable to pressure from the Court. He was a commissioner from Edinburgh to the convention of royal burghs in 1705, acted as praeses for the first time in July 1706 and continued to do so regularly for the next two years. In this capacity he demonstrated a keen interest in such varied matters as the staple port at Campvere, the Scottish salmon fisheries, and the commercial consequences of union with England (not least over the fate of Scottish investments in the Darien Company, in which he had personally invested £500). MacClellan proved a firm supporter of the Union; and, during the abortive Jacobite invasion of 1708, was active in preserving order and promoting a loyal address to the crown. Due to resign the provostship in 1708, he was ideally placed to stand for Edinburgh at the first election to the British Parliament, being chosen unanimously.3

MacClellan received a detailed set of instructions from his constituents (see EDINBURGH). He was voted £300 for defraying his charges while in London, and he subsequently claimed an additional sum of £106 7s. 2d. The convention of royal burghs also promised him £100 to promote their interests. His record in Parliament does not indicate great activity, nor were any of his specific objectives met. He does not figure in the Journals, apart from being granted leave by the House, on 27 Jan. 1709, to attend as a witness in the Lords regarding the recent peerage elections. He did not, however, neglect his own interests while in London. The financial inducements that he gave to Robert Walpole II* and Hon. Sir David Dalrymple, 1st Bt.*, to secure Scottish forage contracts were subsequently censured in the report of the public accounts commissioners on 21 Dec. 1711. MacClellan himself was unable to give evidence, having died on 22 Sept. 1709. He was succeeded by his eldest son, James, who subsequently made an abortive bid for the barony of Kirkcudbright, claiming to be the nearest male heir to a peerage that had failed in its main line.4

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: David Wilkinson


  • 1. Bk. of Old Edinburgh Club, n.s. ii. 117; Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae, ii. 409; Scot. Rec. Soc. lxxxii. 55; iii. 177, 272.
  • 2. Scot. Rec. Soc. lix. 324; Sandeman Lib. Perth burgh recs. B59/24/1/17, p. 8, list of burgesses; Extracts Edinburgh Recs. 1689–1701, pp. 24, 103, 110, 135, 184, 206; 1701–18, pp. 27, 91, 11, 127.
  • 3. Bk. of Edinburgh Club, 117–21; Index to Dumfries Sasines, ii. 234; Kirkcudbright Sheriff Ct. Deeds, i. 157; CSP Dom. 1700–2, p. 21; Scot. Rec. Soc. lxxxii. 55; Buccleuch mss at Drumlanrig Castle, 127, no.128, Glasgow to [Queensberry], 30 Oct. 1705; SRO, Stair mss GD135/2617, 2622, accts. of MacClellan as tacksman to Ld. Oxfuird [S], 1684, 1688–96; M. Wood, Ld. Provosts of Edinburgh, 59; HMC Mar and Kellie, i. 420; HMC Lords, n.s. viii. 120–1; Darien Pprs. (Bannatyne Club, xc), 377.
  • 4. Bk. of Edinburgh Club, 120–1; Edinburgh Recs. 1701–18, pp. 160, 175; Recs. Convention R. Burghs, iv. 487; Huntington Lib. Stowe mss 58(4), p. 196; Services of Heirs (ser. 1), i. 1710–19, p. 20; Scots Peerage ed. Paul, v. 272; G. Crawfurd, Peerage of Scotland 238; W. Robertson, Procs. Peerage of Scotland, 231; LJ, xxxii. 14; xxxiii. 618, 626.