CRAUFURD, Patrick (c.1704-78), of Auchenames, Renfrew, and Crosbie and Drumsoy, Ayr.

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



1741 - 1754
1761 - 1768

Family and Education

b. c. 1704, 1st surv. s. of Patrick Craufurd, Edinburgh merchant, by his 2nd w. Jean, da. of Archibald Craufurd of Auchenames and Crosbie. m. (1) ?1740, Elizabeth (d. 19 July 1746), da. and coh. of George Middleton of Errol, Perth, London banker, 2s.; (2) 22 Apr. 1750, Sarah, da. of Hew, 12th Lord Sempill [S], 1da. suc. fa. 1733.

Offices Held

Burgess, Glasgow 1725, Edinburgh 1732.


Craufurd’s father made a fortune in the Netherlands trade, purchased his wife’s ancestral estates and his own family property of Drumsoy, and left them all to the eldest of his seven surviving sons. Patrick, or familiarly ‘Peter’, having begun life as a merchant, applied his business experience to the extension of his estates and electoral interest. He was a close friend of William Mure, to whose judgment he deferred throughout his political life.

Through his marriage to Elizabeth Middleton he acquired another fortune and a life interest in the estate of Errol, where after his father-in-law’s death in 1747 he chiefly resided. His wealth was his principal weapon in the Ayrshire election campaign of 1753-4 when he was opposed by James Mure Campbell, cousin of Lord Loudoun, and Archibald Montgomerie, brother of Lord Eglintoun. When Pelham and Argyll declared for Campbell, Col. John Craufurd, sought an interview with Cumberland, ‘in which he assured him that his brother was a person whose loyalty was not to be suspected, though it might appear so from the zeal of the court against him’.1 Patrick resorted to extensive bribery, but was eventually obliged to accept a coalition with Eglintoun, who agreed to give him his interest on condition that at the next election Craufurd would support Montgomerie. On Pelham’s death, Argyll hastened to prejudice Newcastle against Craufurd as one who ‘votes always with the Tories’,2 and the joint Craufurd-Eglintoun interest was defeated.

Out of Parliament Craufurd divided his time between Scotland and London, where, through William Mure, he became connected with the Bute circle. When in 1758 Mure proposed that Craufurd should succeed Stuart Mackenzie in Ayr Burghs, Bute welcomed the idea and obtained Eglintoun’s concurrence;3 Craufurd was persuaded to ‘quit his retreat’ in Errol,4 and begin the campaign under Mure’s direction.5 This resulted in a bitter quarrel between Bute and Argyll, who regarded Bute’s intervention as a challenge to his own authority as ‘Viceroy’.6 On Bute’s advice Craufurd tried to placate the angry Duke in an interview in Glasgow. Mure reported to Bute: ‘I could make you laugh heartily at Peter’s naïve account of it.’7 When the Loudoun-Argyll interest sponsored the candidature of Sir Adam Fergusson, Craufurd wrote to Bute, 10 Oct. 1759:8

It would be of great use to me ... if Mr. Pitt would signify ... that he believes me an honest disinterested person [and] wishes me success ... as one favoured by your Lordship’s interest ... For my own part I say fairly and frankly my great motive to come into Parliament is to support your Lordship and Mr. Pitt.

When Pitt made no gesture and when Mure had to face a counter-attack in his own constituency, Craufurd, despite lavish expenditure and Eglintoun’s assistance, met with little success. An opponent wrote to Loudoun from Ayr, 22 Jan. 1760:9

Mr. Craufurd left this place worse pleased than ever; all was spoke by Eglintoun, and Mr. Craufurd made up what he was deficient that way by most humble bows and squeezing the hand.

But in October 1760 the accession of George III turned the scales in Bute’s favour and Argyll was obliged to negotiate a series of electoral compromises. When it was suggested that both Craufurd and Fergusson be ‘laid aside’ in favour of a third candidate for Ayr Burghs, Craufurd, an incorrigible busybody, immediately informed John Campbell of Stonefield, Bute’s brother-in-law, and offered to recommend him.10 But ‘Peter’s’ views carried little weight either in this or in his attempt to obtain Inverness-shire for Bute’s half-brother, young Fraser of Strichen.11 Eventually, in the general settlement, Argyll reluctantly agreed to Bute’s demand that on Mure’s promotion to the Exchequer bench, Craufurd should be returned for Renfrewshire.

In Parliament an undemanding devotee of Bute, he quickly forgot his attachment to Pitt. He wrote to Mure, 17 Dec. 1761:12 ‘Col. Barré’s attack, though rough and indecent, on Mr. Pitt will it’s thought have no bad effect; and as he never spared others is the less regretted.’ He considered the window tax ‘an improper duty as it falls on the lower rank of people’ but did not oppose it; favoured a Scottish militia but counselled patience ‘till a plan can be properly digested for an universal British militia’;13 and continued to rely upon Mure for advice on Scottish affairs. He was greatly esteemed by Fox, never wavered in his allegiance to Bute, and was equally faithful to Grenville,14 who however declined his proposal that his son John should succeed to Col. John Craufurd’s seat at Berwick in 1764.15 After Grenville’s fall Rockingham listed him ‘doubtful’. He voted with others of the Bute group against the repeal of the Stamp Act.

A thrifty Scot, Craufurd was angered by the reckless extravagance of his sons, who, as young men of fashion, were inclined to despise their pawky homespun father. In 1766 he took action to protect the Errol estate. David Hume wrote to John Craufurd, 15 Nov. 1766:16

I was told ... that your father had taken out an inhibition against you by which he declared your obligation to entail your mother’s estate and prohibited every one to lend you ...

A reconciliation was however effected; he made over the Errol revenues to John, who in return assisted him in his Renfrewshire election affairs. Patrick wrote to Mure, 6 Dec. 1766:17 ‘I have reason to hope by Jack’s means with the Duke of Grafton, I may have the disposal of all small offices that fall within the county ... as I wish to support the King’s measures and the present Administration.’ Listed by Rockingham in November 1766 under ‘Bute’, he voted with the Chatham ministry on the land tax, 27 Feb. 1767, and on nullum tempus, 17 Feb. 1768.

His hold on Renfrewshire was insecure; he had no residence there except the ruined castle of Auchenames and was regarded as an Ayrshireman. In expectation of a costly campaign he raised his rents to ‘bring in £10,000 clear’.18 Loudoun, suspecting that he might make a bid for Ayrshire, wrote to Bute, 28 Aug. 1766:19

I think your Lordship may carry any man of character in the county, except Mr. Peter Craufurd, to him I find a general objection, which may surprise your Lordship and possibly you may suspect that from his formerly opposing me I carry a rancour still against him, but it is not so, I do assure your Lordship, and in looking on him as a friend of yours I have advised such of my friends as have consulted me and have votes in Renfrew to give them to him.

Craufurd however was equally unwelcome in Renfrew, and when two opponents appeared against him seems to have handed over the management of the election to John.20 After prolonged negotiations Patrick stood down and gave his interest to William McDowall on condition that John should be the candidate at the next general election.21

Thereafter he lived mainly in Edinburgh and in Bath. In 1771 he put John in possession of the Errol estate22 but later, fearing the alienation of the family property, insisted upon safeguards. John wrote to Mure, 17 Feb. 1773, after a visit to his father at Bath:23

He is much as you saw him in Scotland, but with the additional misfortune of being constantly deaf. Add to this that his temper or his mind are quite gone. He is grown anxious and attentive to money matters beyond what I ever saw an example of in anybody. I have been wearied by his persecutions into an entail of my estate along with his, which I know I shall repent all the rest of my life.

John begged Mure to assist him to ‘undo what has been done’ and was successful at the cost of a rift with his father. David Hume wrote to John from Edinburgh, 28 Jan. 1774:24

I was told yesterday by Mr. Ross that he had just come from your father who regretted very feelingly his never hearing from you which he ascribed not to your indolence ... but to your neglect of him and your prejudices against him. In the fullness of his heart he opened up all his friendly intentions towards you and declared that except a reasonable provision for your sister and a small annuity to your brother ... he intended you to be the sole heir of all his remaining property. He wanted nothing from you except your friendship which he was sorry he could not obtain and it was the circumstance that embittered his remaining days.

Hume’s intervention seems to have healed the breach, and old Patrick, despite failing powers, assisted John at the 1774 general election.25

He died in Edinburgh 10 Jan. 1778.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Edith Lady Haden-Guest


  • 1. Cathcart to Loudoun, 2 Oct. 1753, Loudoun mss.
  • 2. Lists prepared by Pelham and Argyll, and annotated by Argyll for Newcastle’s information, Newcastle (Clumber) mss.
  • 3. Bute to Mure, 14 Jan. 1759, Caldwell Pprs. ii(1), p. 119.
  • 4. Craufurd to Bute, 30 May 1759, Bute mss.
  • 5. Mure to Bute, 10 and 22 Aug., Craufurd to Bute, 22 Aug. 1759, Bute mss.
  • 6. Bute to Mure, 30 Aug. 1758, Caldwell Pprs. ii(1), p. 120.
  • 7. Mure to Bute, 28 Sept. 1759, Bute mss.
  • 8. Ibid.
  • 9. Capt. D. Kennedy to Loudoun, Loudoun mss.
  • 10. Campbell to Bute, 23 Apr. 1761, Bute mss.
  • 11. Craufurd to Bute, 21 Feb. 1761; Ld. Strichen to Bute, 4 May 1761, ibid.
  • 12. Caldwell Pprs. ii(1), p. 137.
  • 13. Ibid. 138.
  • 14. Craufurd to David Ross, 18 Feb. 1764, Caldwell Pprs. ii(1), pp. 237-8.
  • 15. Grenville to Craufurd, 11 Dec. 1764, Grenville letter bk.
  • 16. New Letters of Hume, 153.
  • 17. Caldwell Pprs. ii(2), p. 95.
  • 18. Chas. Dalrymple to Loudoun, 16 Jan. 1767, Loudoun mss.
  • 19. Bute mss.
  • 20. John Craufurd to Mure, 21 and 26 Feb. 1768, Caldwell Pprs. ii(2), pp. 132-4.
  • 21. Ibid. 135-7.
  • 22. Mme du Deffand to Horace Walpole, 10 Dec. 1771.
  • 23. Caldwell Pprs. ii(2), pp. 216-17.
  • 24. Letters of Hume, ii. 283-5.
  • 25. Caldwell Pprs. ii(2), p. 236.