ROSE, Hugh I (1663-1732), of Kilravock, Nairn.

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

Family and Education

b. 27 Jan. 1663, 1st s. of Hugh Rose, MP [S], of Kilravock by his 1st w. Margaret, da. of Sir Robert Innes, 2nd Bt., MP [S], of Innes, Elgin.  m. (1) 19 Oct. 1683, Margaret, da. of Sir Hugh Campbell, MP [S], of Calder (Cawdor), Nairn, 1s. 2da.; (2) Jean (d. 1699), da. and h. of James Fraser of Brae, Inverness, 1s.; (3) contr. 19 June 1701 (with 6,000 merks), Beatrix (d. 1706), da. of George Cuthbert of Castlehill, Inverness, 2da.; (4) c.1706, his cos. Elizabeth (d. aft. 1715), da. of Sir James Calder, 1st Bt., MP [S], of Muirton, Elgin, 1da. (other ch. d.v.p.); (5) 1730, Katharine, da. of James Porteous of Inverness, 2s.  suc. fa. 1687.1

Offices Held

Commr. for justiciary, Highlands [S] 1693, 1701.

MP [S] Nairnshire 1700–7.

Sheriff, Ross 1706–22, 1729–32; commr. visitation, Aberdeen Univ. 1716–17; ld. lt. Nairn 1725–?d.2


Rose was the 15th laird of Kilravock (and the 12th Hugh) in direct line from Hugh Rose of Geddes, who was given a charter of the barony of Kilravock by John Balliol in 1293. His grandfather, an unobtrusive Covenanter who took the engagement in 1648, began what was to be a long family tradition of parliamentary representation. Both in his pragmatism and in his struggles against debt the earlier Hugh set a pattern for his successors, adapting to the vicissitudes of politics but incurring financial burdens which were passed on to the next generations. His son, the Member’s father, was described as a gentleman of a ‘social and peaceable disposition’, unconcerned with the ‘hot debates’ of the day in church and state. Although his first wife (the Member’s mother) had been a woman of ‘eminent piety’, a ‘mother in Israel’ to deprived ministers, and he himself had been prevailed on to give some donations to distressed Presbyterians, he none the less held county office during the ‘killing time’, subscribed the declaration against the Covenants in 1681 and took the test at the outset of James II’s reign.3

The 14th laird had acquired land in the neighbouring counties of Ross-shire and Inverness, but had not purged the family of debt. Indeed, so heavy were the encumbrances Rose himself inherited that soon after the death of his first wife he proposed to ‘sequestrate’ his lands and seek a military career, before being ‘diverted from this course’ by his friends. Their advice proved wise, for in due course a succession of lucrative marriages enabled him to extend his estate by inheritance and purchase, to build, and even to make loans to neighbours. According to a later account, the reliability of which is uncertain, he began life as something of a cavalier in his political sentiments, ‘not a little biased in favour of the high prerogatives of the crown and the indefeasible right of the house of Stuart’, but on maturer reflection came to accept and even endorse the Revolution, and to countenance the Union. In fact he took local office under King William as early as 1689. On election to the Scottish parliament in 1700, he joined the ranks of the Country opposition, over the issue of Darien if not of the standing army, and disappointed the attentions of Lord Seafield as well as the hopes behind the granting of an army commission to his brother, by absenting himself from the ‘rump’ parliament of 1702.4

Remaining with the opposition in 1703 and 1704, Rose was tapped again by Seafield in 1705 with encouragement to come to parliament and support the Court, but excused himself gracefully. Few men knew precisely how to classify him: the Jacobite agent Scot described him as ‘reputed loyal and, for the most part, with the Country party’, but another analysis of the state of parties in Scotland considered him as probably in favour of the Hanoverian succession, despite the fact that he had voted in 1704 for the Duke of Hamilton’s motion to postpone consideration of that question. In January 1706 Lord Stair thought there might be hope of him and that, through Rose’s mediation, the Court might find an opportunity to win over others of the ‘northern squadron’. ‘Except Kilravock be sheriff of Ross’, he wrote, ‘they will never be hearty, for he manages the rest’. The prediction was fulfilled after a fashion: the sheriffdom having been granted, Rose came up to Edinburgh and voted for the most part with the Court in the Union parliament, though absenting himself from the divisions on the first article of the treaty and on ratification.5

Rose was selected among the Court contingent to represent Scotland in the first Parliament of Great Britain, either as one of Seafield’s nominees or possibly as a sop to Lord Cromarty, with whom he had previously had been associated. He ‘refused’ to go to Westminster, however, or so his enemies insinuated: certainly his name does not figure in the Journals for the 1707–8 session. He did not stand for re-election himself in 1708, but shamelessly exploited his position as sheriff to return his son Hugh for Ross-shire. Rose snr. had temporarily renewed his alliance with Cromarty, whose clan, the Mackenzies, provided the backbone of his son’s electoral support. The other principal faction in Ross-shire, the Ross and Munro families, presented themselves to government as upholders of the Presbyterian and Revolution interest in the county, against the disloyal Mackenzies, and denounced Rose as a ‘Whig’ defector to the Jacobite camp. They pressed for his removal from office as sheriff, depicting him as Cromarty’s appointee, instigated a legal process against him for allegedly neglecting the orders of the court of session, and secured a strongly worded reproof from the synod of Ross and Sutherland for his conduct of the electoral court, on the grounds that the continuance of proceedings into a Sunday had involved a serious profanation of the sabbath. Counter-petitions to the ministry, however, emphasized that Rose was ‘not only a most loyal subject, but also one of the foremost Presbyterians in the nation . . . who by his prudent management . . . hath done good service to Presbyterian government in that shire’. In January 1710 the Ross-shire return had been declared void by the Commons, and the Rose–Mackenzie alliance did not survive to the by-election. The Roses, father and son, absented themselves, and Hon. Charles Rosse* narrowly defeated a Mackenzie. At the general election later that year Rose, as sheriff, openly concurred in Rosse’s return and was criticized for his ‘irregular’ conduct in the petition of the defeated candidate Hon. Sir Kenneth Mackenzie, 3rd Bt.* Rose was also denounced by the Mackenzies in 1711 as a ‘violent Whig’ who was now abusing his administrative powers to ‘tyrannize’ over them. In 1713 he endorsed Rosse’s unopposed re-election for the county.6

With the Hanoverian succession came a revival of the parliamentary ambitions of the Kilravock family. Rose himself considered standing for Inverness Burghs in 1715, until persuaded by John Forbes to step down as part of an agreement (futile, in the event) intended to effect the return of young Hugh for Cromartyshire. He stood firm against the Fifteen, garrisoning Kilravock and arming a troop of clansmen who played a part in the recapture of Inverness from the Jacobites. He no longer considered himself or his son as possible parliamentary candidates, ‘the circumstances of his family’ still requiring ‘a frugal and exact management’. The two men did, however, maintain a presence in local politics and, because of the family link with Culloden, drifted into the following of the Duke of Argyll, a move that cost Rose his sheriffdom in 1722 but which in due course led to the recovery of that dignity (and the further acquisition of a lord lieutenancy), after father and son had indulged in a little restiveness at ministerial neglect.7

Rose ‘died of a fever of cold’ at Kilravock, on 23 Jan. 1732, and was buried with his forebears in the chapel of Geddes. An 18th-century panegyric conceals the quick temper and shiftiness of its subject in a portrait which would have done more credit to his mother’s devout Presbyterianism than to the family’s recurring talent for compromise:

The laird of Kilravock was of . . . a daring and bold spirit in time of danger, but otherwise mild, affable and condescending. His judgment was clear and solid, and his conduct uniform and equal . . . and, which was the great ornament of his life, he was a gentleman of shining piety and virtue, sincere and constant in his devotion to God, faithful and just in his dealings with men, peaceable and benevolent towards his neighbours, a pattern of virtue in his family . . . he despised the growing luxury and vanity of the age, and he rather affected a primitive simplicity than studied the politeness and effeminacy of the times.

He was succeeded by his son Hugh.8

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. Hist. Scot. Parl. 597; Shaw and Gordon, Hist. Province of Moray (1882), ii. 288–9; Fam. of Rose of Kilravock (Spalding Club), 356, 363, 382–3, 388, 394; More Culloden Pprs. ed. Warrand, ii. 1; Scot. Hist. Soc. (ser. 2), i. 36.
  • 2. SP 57/31, p. 274.
  • 3. Shaw and Gordon, 286, 288–9; Fam. of Rose, 339, 344, 346; Foster, MPs Scotland, 298; W. MacGill, Old Ross-shire and Scotland, i. 224; Diary of Brodie of Brodie (Spalding Club), 354, 358, 381; Reg. PC Scotland 1681–2, pp. 73, 508, 706; 1684–5, p. 412; 1685–6, p. 287.
  • 4. Shaw and Gordon, 288–9; Fam. of Rose, 379, 399–401; APS, ix. 51, 73, 143, 375; x. 30, 246, 251; info. from Dr P. W. J. Riley on members of Scot. parl.; SRO, Seafield mss GD248/37/1/29, min. bk. (Nov. 1711); CSP Dom. 1700–2, p. 375; P. W. J. Riley, King Wm. and Scot. Politicians, 174.
  • 5. Info. from Dr Riley; APS, xi. 73, 102; Crossrigg Diary, 140; Boyer, Anne Annals, iii. app. 42; Seafield Corresp. 399; Orig. Pprs. ed. Macpherson, ii. 17; HMC Portland, viii. 207; P. W. J. Riley, Union, 217; EHR, lxxxiv. 521, 523.
  • 6. R. Walcott, Pol. Early 18th Cent. 234; SRO, Cromarty sheriff ct. recs. SC24/20/1, bdle. 1, no. 13, electoral ct. mins. 30 Sept. 1702; SRO, Balnagown Castle mss GD129/box 30/116, info. for laird of Balnagown, 26 June 1705; GD129/box 29/106/22, ‘Breviate for the Hon. George Ross’; GD129/box 29/106/14, Ross-shire electoral ct. mins. 26 June 1708; GD129/box 30/116, Ross-shire poll, 26 June 1706; GD129/box 29/106/15, Ross-shire electoral ct. mins. 22 Oct. 1713; SRO, Cromartie mss GD305/1/168/21, Ross-shire electoral ct. mins. 3 Mar. 1710; GD305/1/159/121, memorial of Ross-shire justices, n.d.; Add. 9102, f. 68; Fam. of Rose, 395–7; More Culloden Pprs. ii. 10, 22–25; Cromartie Corresp. ii. 73, 104, 106–7; Add. 61629, ff. 116–17; 61631, ff. 77, 185–6; 61632, ff. 42–43; HMC Portland, x. 374, 444.
  • 7. Culloden Pprs. 33–34, 37, 43; Fam. of Rose, 380–2; More Culloden Pprs. 43, 89, 97, 220; HMC Stuart, v. 201; Balnagown Castle mss GD129/box 7/11/39, petn. of Sir Robert Munro et al. [1722]; P. W. J. Riley, Eng. Ministers and Scotland, 286; R. M. Sunter, Patronage and Pol. in Scotland, 169.
  • 8. Fam. of Rose, 383, 393.