Haddington Burghs

Single Member Scottish County

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

Lauder (1754, ’80), Berwick; Hddington (1761, ’84), Dunbar (1768), North Berwick (1774), Haddingtonshire; Jedburgh, Roxburghshire


9 May 1754Andrew Fletcher
20 Apr. 1761Sir Hew Dalrymple
11 Apr. 1768Patrick Warrender
 John Maitland
 Double return. WARRENDER declared elected, 14 Nov. 1768
27 Feb. 1771Patrick Warrender re-elected after appointment to office
 Charles Ogilvie
31 Oct. 1774John Maitland
 Sir Alexander Gilmour
23 Feb. 1780Francis Charteris vice Maitland, deceased
2 Oct. 1780Francis Charteris
26 Apr. 1784Francis Charteris
22 June 1787William Fullarton vice Charteris, become the eldest son of a peer

Main Article

Throughout this period these burghs were the scene of violent controversy. Haddington was influenced mainly by the Marquess of Tweeddale and the family of Wemyss; North Berwick by the Dalrymples; Lauder by the Earl of Lauderdale; Dunbar by the Falls, a wealthy merchant family; and Jedburgh by the Marquess of Lothian. Jedburgh was the most venal and turbulent, and from 1768 to 1774 was disfranchised and lost its turn as returning burgh. In the earlier part of the period Lord Milton, Argyll’s manager for Scotland, exercised considerable influence.

In 1747 Sir Hew Dalrymple was returned for Haddingtonshire on a compromise with Lord Milton, by which Dalrymple was to give his interest in the Burghs to Milton’s son, Andrew Fletcher, and thereafter Fletcher and Dalrymple should take it in turns to represent the county and the Burghs. In 1754 it was Fletcher’s turn to represent the county, but, according to Dalrymple’s account, Fletcher ‘declined it’ and preferred to continue as Member for the Burghs. At the general election of 1761 Milton insisted that Dalrymple should honour the agreement and take his turn of the Burghs. Dalrymple shuffled, secured Newcastle’s support for his candidature for the county (which greatly offended Argyll, who resented Newcastle’s interference in a Scottish election), but was eventually forced to yield and take the Burghs.1

Fletcher left Parliament at the general election of 1768, and Dalrymple, who contested the county, set up Patrick Warrender for the Burghs. He was opposed by John Maitland, brother of Lord Lauderdale. At the Michaelmas 1767 local elections Warrender secured North Berwick and Dunbar, and Lauder, Haddington and Jedburgh were won for Maitland. But by a decision of the court of session, confirmed on appeal to the House of Lords, the Jedburgh elections were set aside and the burgh disfranchised for the next Parliament. Disputes now arose as to which should be the returning burgh in place of Jedburgh. The sheriff of Haddingtonshire nominated Dunbar; the sheriff of Berwickshire tried to nominate Lauder; Haddington also put in its claim, and to cover all eventualities nominated three delegates, one to attend at Haddington, one at Dunbar, and the other at Jedburgh. Two elections were held: four delegates met at Dunbar, on whose casting vote Warrender was returned; and delegates from Haddington and Lauder met at Jedburgh and elected Maitland. The sheriff of Haddingtonshire returned Warrender, and the sheriff of Roxburghshire returned Maitland. The House of Commons decided in favour of Warrender.2

When Warrender was appointed to office in 1771 his re-election was hotly contested. Lauderdale set up his nephew Charles Ogilvie, and secured the burghs of Haddington and Lauder; Warrender was sure of North Berwick and Dunbar; and Jedburgh was still disfranchised. Ogilvie was declared elected on the casting vote of Haddington. But the sheriff of Haddingtonshire maintained that Dunbar was the returning burgh, and Warrender was returned on the casting vote of Dunbar.3

In 1774 Jedburgh had been reinstated and, with Lauder and Haddington, ensured the election for John Maitland; and on Maitland’s death in 1779 the Lauderdale interest brought in Francis Charteris. In 1784 Charteris, a follower of Fox, was opposed by George Johnstone (not to be confused with George Johnstone), backed by Government. Charteris won Jedburgh, Haddington, and Lauder. When he vacated his seat in 1787 the Lauderdale interest carried the election for William Fullarton.

Author: John Brooke


  • 1. Dalrymple to Argyll, 18 Sept. 1760, Ld. Coalstoun to Loudoun, 18 Oct. 1760, Loudoun mss; Add. 32905, f. 374; 32907, f. 316; 32908, f. 108; 32913, f. 230; 33049, f. 308; Oswald Memorials, 308, 311-12.
  • 2. Caldwell Pprs. ii (2), p. 92; Dalrymple to Loudoun, 24 Feb. 1768, Loudoun mss; LJ, 1, 22 Feb. 1768; J. Miller, Lamp of Lothian, 497.
  • 3. CJ, 19 Mar., 16, 19 Apr. 1771; Sir W. Fraser, Leven Melville Pprs. ii. 273.