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

Background Information

Number of voters:

51 in 1734


10 Feb. 1715MUNGO HALDANE 
5 Apr. 1722JOHN GRAHAM 
 John Napier 
 John Graham 
 Thomas Erskine23
6 Feb. 1747THOMAS ERSKINE vice Graham, deceased 

Main Article

The chief interest in Stirlingshire was that of the 1st Duke of Montrose, one of the leaders of the Squadrone, who was hereditary sheriff of the county. The interest of the Erskines of Alloa was temporarily in abeyance owing to the attainder of Lord Mar after the 1715 rebellion.

In 1715 Mungo Haldane, a member of the Squadrone, was returned, and in 1722 John Graham, Montrose’s factor, defeated a member of a local Whig family, attached to Montrose’s rival, the Duke of Argyll. In 1727 James Erskine, Mar’s brother, supported Henry Cunningham, one of Ilay’s boroughmongers, who was returned despite opposition from John Graham. Before the 1734 election James Erskine wrote that Ilay

asked me what I was doing as to Stirlingshire? What can I do, said I, since your Lordship told me only to keep people unengaged. Pray, said he, write for Harry Cunningham to come to town that we may talk of it.1

Finding that Ilay was ‘secretly setting up’ a relation, Sir James Campbell, who had acquired an estate in the county by marriage,2 Erskine went over to the Opposition, agreeing with Tweeddale and Marchmont, leaders of the Squadrone, that his nephew, Thomas Erskine, commonly called Lord Erskine, should be put up. This was done without the knowledge of Montrose, now in opposition, who would have liked to ‘have named a friend of his own for Stirlingshire’, but who, in the end, agreed to support Erskine.3 At the election, according to Erskine’s petition, Cunningham, as praeses of the election meeting, secured Campbell’s return by refusing to administer the oaths against bribery and corruption, and excluding opposition supporters from the freeholders’ roll by the expedient of using the roll of a breakaway meeting of freeholders at the 1727 election.4

Before the 1741 election, James Erskine wrote:

I think the Duke of Montrose has taken the final resolution as to Stirlingshire, and seems surprised that all the world, and especially Lord Erskine and I, don’t fully approve of it ... His Grace says it is the public interest he has at heart, and that his son [Lord George Graham] is most likely to carry it ... He talks of his family interest in that shire, where he has so many friends and dependers, and the largest part of his estate ... [and] of the sacrifice he made of his interest in that shire at the last election on account of Lord Erskine and me. It has always been acknowledged with gratitude and great honour for his Grace, nor have we mentioned the reluctancy he showed at first, nor that his own people thought the conjunction of Lord Erskine’s small interest, was needful enough for his Grace’s great interest, that he might not again be defeated there, and that the common cause might prevail.5

Lord George Graham was returned unopposed, with the support of the Erskines. On Lord George’s death in 1747, Thomas Erskine, now again a government supporter, was returned. He was succeeded at the general election of that year by James, son of Sir James Livingstone of Glentirran, and maternal grandson of Sir James Campbell, whose name he adopted, the joint heir of two leading Whig families in the county.6

Author: Eveline Cruickshanks


  • 1. Spalding Club Misc. iii. 43.
  • 2. Ibid. 44.
  • 3. HMC Polwarth, v. 59, 62-63, 103.
  • 4. CJ, xxii. 348.
  • 5. Stair, Annals, ii. 437-8.
  • 6. Memo. in Cholmondeley (Houghton) mss c. 1727.