HALDANE, Patrick (c.1683-1769), of Bearcrofts, Stirling.

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



1715 - 1722

Family and Education

b. c.1683, 2nd s. of John Haldane of Gleneagles, M.P., and bro. of Mungo Haldane. educ. St. Andrews 1699; Leyden 1711; adv. 1715. m. bef. 1721, Margaret, da. of William, 4th Lord Forrester of Corstorphine [S], 1s. (George) 1da. suc. bro. Mungo 1755.

Offices Held

Professor of Greek, St. Andrews 1705-7; professor of ecclesiastical history, St. Andrews 1707-18; commr. of the equivalent Nov. 1715-May 1716; provost of St. Andrews 1716-20; commr. for forfeited estates 1716-25; commr. of excise 1724-7; jt. solicitor-gen. [S] 1746-55; sheriff depute Perthshire from 1746.


After ten years as a professor at St. Andrews with a salary of £105 p.a., Haldane was called to the bar, appointed a commissioner of the equivalent with a salary of £500, and returned as a Whig for Perth Burghs in 1715. Next year he exchanged his post for that of a commissioner for the sale of estates forfeited in the late rebellion with a salary of £1,000, carrying out his duties with a severity which earned him the odium not only of the Jacobites but of many other important persons connected with the dispossessed families. He was said to have surprised English members of the Commons by opposing a proposal for allowing the wives and widows of forfeited estate owners in Scotland to be allowed their jointures, after supporting a similar proposal for their English counterparts. He voted with the Government in all recorded divisions, making ‘an excellent allegorical speech’ in the debate of 24 Apr. 1716 on the septennial bill, ‘comparing our times to those of Solon and Pisistratus in the Greek and those of Sulla in the Roman history.’ In 1720 he was among the Members of both Houses who were credited by the South Sea Company with stock - in his case £2,000 at 285 on 23 Mar. - without paying for it but with the right to ‘sell’ it back to the company whenever they chose, taking as ‘profit’ any increase in the market price.1

In December 1721, shortly before the general election of 1722, Haldane was appointed a judge of the court of session, with the support of the Dukes of Roxburghe and Montrose, the leaders of the Squadrone, but against the opposition of their rivals, the Duke of Argyll and Lord Ilay. The appointment gave rise to what he afterwards described as the ‘extraordinary persecution’ that

fell on me from some of my countrymen of high rank ... for no other reason ... but that of my having, as one of the commissioners of the forfeited estates, executed faithfully the powers given to those commissioners by Act of Parliament.

At the instance of the faculty of advocates, the court of session at first refused to admit him on the ground that he had not served the minimum period of five years as an advocate prescribed by the Act of Union as a necessary qualification for a judgeship. When the decision was overruled on appeal by the House of Lords, his enemies raised objection to him on grounds of character, charging him inter alia with Jacobitism, bribery, and extortion by threats. A resolution admitting him was carried by the votes of two extraordinary, that is honorary, lords of session, whose right to vote was challenged by the ordinary lords, themselves seven to six against him. The matter was once more referred to London, where Haldane agreed under pressure to accept a commissionership of excise instead of a judgeship to appease his opponents. At the same time an Act was passed affirming the power of the Crown to appoint to the court of session, the court being limited to the right of remonstrating against an appointment of which they disapproved.2

Haldane’s excise appointment was not renewed at George II’s accession, after which he returned to the bar, acquiring the reputation of being ‘not only the best election-monger, but the best election lawyer of his time’. In 1746 he was appointed joint solicitor-general of Scotland, apparently on the recommendation of the Duke of Cumberland, with whom his son, George, was a favourite. Next year, with Cumberland’s support, he used his electioneering experience to bring in his son for Stirling Burghs against a candidate supported by Pelham. In 1750 he applied unsuccessfully to Lord Chancellor Hardwicke for a judgeship, on the ground that his advancing years made him less able than formerly to sustain the fatigues of the bar. His failing powers are referred to in a letter from Robert Dundas, lord president of the court of session, to Hardwicke in 1753, describing Haldane as of little assistance to the lord advocate, being ‘quite daised, as we express it.’ Further applications on his behalf by George Haldane and the Breadalbane family proving equally fruitless, he retired in 1755 with a pension of £400 p.a.3

Haldane’s last years were clouded by the death of his son, leaving debts which, together with the cost of his own electioneering activities - in 1754 he is said to have set up candidates in three constituencies4 - made it necessary for him to sell the family estate of Gleneagles, recently inherited from his brother, Mungo, to their half-brother, Robert Haldane, M.P., in 1760.

He died 10 Jan. 1769.

Ref Volumes: 1715-1754

Author: Romney R. Sedgwick


  • 1. Cal. Treas. Bks. xxxii. 520-1; Ramsay of Ochtertyre, Scotland and Scotsmen in the 18th Cent., 479-85; HMC Stuart, vi. 106; A. Corbière to H. Walpole, 27 Apr. 1716, Cholmondeley (Houghton) mss; CJ, xix. 569.
  • 2. HMC Portland, vii. 313; J. A. L. Haldane, Haldanes of Gleneagles, 137 seq.; More Culloden Pprs. ii. 222-35.
  • 3. Ramsay, 482; Yorke, Hardwicke, i. 621-2; Haldane, loc. cit.; Add. 35448, f. 88; 35450, f. 195.
  • 4. Argyll to Newcastle, 19 Nov. 1755. Add. 32737, f. 340.