HUME CAMPBELL, Hugh, Lord Polwarth (1708-94).

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



1734 - 27 Feb. 1740

Family and Education

b. 15 Feb. 1708, 1st surv. s. of Alexander Hume, M.P. [S], 2nd Earl of Marchmont [S]; twin. bro. of Hon. Alexander Hume Campbell. educ. private sch. London 1716-?21; Holland (Utrecht and Franeker) 1721-?5; Edinburgh Univ. m. (1) 1 May 1731, Anne, da. and coh. of Robert Western of St. Peter’s, Cornhill, 1s. 3da.; (2) 30 Jan. 1748, Elizabeth, da. of Windmill Crompton, linen draper, of Cheapside, 1s. suc. fa. as 3rd Earl 27 Feb. 1740.

Offices Held

First commr. of police [S] 1747-64; rep. peer [S] 1750-84; P.C. 22 Nov. 1762; gov. of bank of Scotland 1763-90; keeper of the great seal [S] 1764-d.


Sir Robert Walpole said that ‘of all the men he ever knew’, Lord Polwarth and his twin brother, Hume Campbell,

were the most abandoned in their professions to him on their coming into the world: he was hindered from accepting their services by the present Duke of Argyll [then Lord Ilay] of whose faction they were not.

On this the whole family went into opposition, with the result that its head, the 2nd Earl of Marchmont, was dismissed from his office of lord clerk register in 1733.1 At the general election of 1734 Lord Marchmont was not re-elected to the Lords as a representative peer of Scotland, but both his sons were returned to the House of Commons, where ‘they made a great figure’. In a debate on an opposition place bill, 22 Apr. 1735,

several young Members, who never spoke before, distinguished themselves ... as Mr. William Pitt, Mr. Lyttelton, Lord Polwarth and Mr. Hume, Lord Marchmont’s sons ... all for the bill.

On 16 Feb. 1737 Polwarth spoke against the bill imposing penalties on Edinburgh for the Porteous riots. Two days later he attacked Walpole for his ‘base treatment of his father’, to which Walpole replied that the reason why Lord Marchmont and his friends ‘were turned out was that they were endeavouring to be at the head of affairs’, and that a minister who put up with such behaviour ‘would be a pitiful minister’.2 In a debate on the army, 3 Feb. 1738, a government speaker having said that an army was necessary to support the Whig interest and that without it the Tory interest would prevail, Polwarth retorted that this showed that the ministerial party, who called themselves Whigs, acted in contradiction of Whig principles and were really Tories, while those whom they called Tories were the true Whigs. Excluded from the Commons by his accession to the peerage on the death of his father in 1740 and excluded from the Lords by Lord Ilay, who controlled the election of the representative peers of Scotland, he remained connected with the Opposition till 1747, when he and his brother came to terms with the Pelhams, Marchmont accepting an office of £1,500 a year.3 Soon after his appointment, Ilay, now Duke of Argyll, reported to Pelham from Scotland that Marchmont was giving out that ‘I was near a political demise’, and that ‘he was to be minister in this country’.4 In fact, though he re-entered Parliament as a representative peer in 1750, he never again played a significant part in public life.

He died 10 Jan. 1794.

Ref Volumes: 1715-1754

Author: Romney R. Sedgwick


  • 1. Walpole to Mann, 2 Dec. 1748; HMC Polwarth, v. 295.
  • 2. HMC Egmont Diary, ii. 150-2, 171.
  • 3. See HUME CAMPBELL, Hon. Alexander.
  • 4. 1 Aug. 1747, Newcastle (Clumber) mss.