Dumfries Burghs

Single Member Scottish burgh

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Background Information

Sanquhar (1754, ’84), Dumfries (1761), Kirkcudbright (1768), Annan (1774), Lochmaben (1780), all in Dumfries except Kirkcudbright in the Stewartry


9 May 1754Archibald Douglas 
20 Apr. 1761Thomas Miller 
28 May 1766James Montgomery vice Miller, appointed to office 
11 Apr. 1768William Douglas 
31 Oct. 1774William Douglas 
2 Oct. 1780Sir Robert Herries 
26 Apr. 1784Sir James Johnstone2
 Sir Robert Herries1
 Alexander Fergusson1
 George Augustus Selwyn1

Main Article

For most of the period this constituency was under the patronage of the Douglases, dukes of Queensberry. The interest of the Johnstone family, powerful in the earlier part of the century, was dormant after 1748, when the Marquess of Annandale, the head of the family, was declared insane and incapable of managing his affairs; it was revived towards the end of our period by a junior branch of the family, the Johnstones of Westerhall.

The 4th Duke of Queensberry, who succeeded in 1778, lived mostly in England and was unpopular in Scotland. At the general election of 1784 his interest in the constituency was challenged by three candidates: Sir James Johnstone of Westerhall; Sir Robert Herries, the sitting Member, whom Queensberry had discarded; and Alexander Fergusson of Craigdarroch. Queensberry’s candidate was his friend George Augustus Selwyn, who did not appear at the election, and as an Englishman, with a borough of his own, was hardly a suitable candidate. Dumfries and Lochmaben burghs declared for Johnstone; Kirkcudbright for Fergusson; Annan for Herries; and Sanquhar for Selwyn. Selwyn petitioned, alleging that the votes of Dumfries and Lochmaben were invalid and that he should have been returned on the casting vote of Sanquhar, the returning burgh. But he did not proceed with his petition.1

Author: John Brooke


  • 1. Laprade, 100; A. Fergusson, Hen. Erskine, 252-6; CJ, 7 June 1784, 9 Feb., 3 Mar., 25 Apr., 24 June, 28 July 1785.