Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Background Information

Alternated with Cromartyshire

Number of voters:



26 Apr. 1722JOHN FORBES
17 Mar. 1735ALEXANDER BRODIE vice Campbell, chose to sit for Pembrokeshire
 James Brodie

Main Article

The chief interest in Nairnshire was that of the Campbells of Cawdor (Calder), the hereditary sheriffs. Its Members not infrequently used Nairnshire as a second string after failing in other constituencies. Thus in 1722 John Forbes of Culloden, having been defeated for Inverness-shire, fell back on Nairnshire, which he had represented in Anne’s last Parliament. Again in 1732 Alexander Brodie of Brodie, the chief of his clan, announced his intention of standing for Nairnshire as well as for his present seat, Elginshire, at the next general election, with a view to bringing in a kinsman, Alexander Brodie of Lethen, if he succeeded at both. But John Campbell of Calder, fearing defeat in his constituency of Pembrokeshire, handed over the sheriffdom to one of his relatives to stand for Nairnshire, with the support of the Administration. Brodie of Lethen thereupon deserted his chief, going over to Campbell, who was returned unopposed for both Nairnshire and Pembrokeshire. Choosing to sit for Pembrokeshire, Campbell gave his interest at the ensuing by-election to Brodie of Lethen, against whom Brodie of Brodie, refusing to be ‘browbeat and cudgelled into a submission to a rebellious cadet of my own family’, put up James Brodie of Spynie.1 During the election both sides used force, Brodie of Brodie being attended by gentlemen ‘to the number of about 60 horsemen, well armed and accoutred’,2 but Campbell’s sheriff, using a body of 140 Highlanders to keep opponents away from the polls, returned Brodie of Lethen though, according to his opponent’s unsuccessful petition, he had the votes of only two of the freeholders.3

In 1747 John Campbell stood again for Nairnshire with the support of the Administration. On this Brodie of Brodie threatened to oppose him unless a threatened opposition to his own candidature at Inverness Burghs was withdrawn. He wrote to Duncan Forbes:

Mr. Campbell is in great earnest that my election for this district [Inverness Burghs] may be without opposition, for by the dissolution of the Parliament his new votes [in Nairnshire] are cut out and so I think I may be able to carry Nairn county against him. But as he’s agreeable to the Administration, that we should all be in friendship with one another in our respective districts allotted for us, so I shall be very sorry if I shall be obliged for self-defence to give any disturbance.4

This threat was successful. On 30 June 1747 Henry Pelham was informed that Brodie’s opponents had agreed to give their interest in Inverness Burghs to him, ‘to make our friend Mr. Campbell of Cawdor’s election sure for the county of Nairn’,5 for which Campbell was returned unopposed.

Author: Paula Watson


  • 1. More Culloden Pprs. iii. 70, 91-96.
  • 2. Sir W. Fraser, Chiefs of Grant, ii. 119.
  • 3. CJ, xxii. 440-1, 509-10.
  • 4. More Culloden Pprs. v. 188.
  • 5. Sir Ludovick Grant to Hen. Pelham, 30 June 1747, Newcastle (Clumber) mss.