MACKENZIE, Francis Humberston (1754-1815), of Seaforth.

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



1784 - 1790
1 May 1794 - 1796

Family and Education

b. 9 June 1754, 2nd s. of Maj. William Mackenzie, nephew of William, 5th Earl of Seaforth [S], attainted 1716, by Mary, da. of Matthew Humberston of Humberston, Lincs.  m. 22 Apr. 1782, Mary, da. of Very Rev. Baptist Proby, dean of Lichfield, 4s. 6da.  suc. bro. 30 Apr. 1783; cr. Lord Seaforth 26 Oct. 797.

Offices Held

Lt.-col. commandant 78 Ft. 1793-6; col. army 1796; maj.-gen. 1802; lt.-gen. 1808.

Ld. lt. Ross-shire 1794- d.; gov. Barbados 1800-6.


As a young midshipman, Mackenzie was obliged to leave the navy when deprived by scarlet fever of hearing and, in part, of speech; but, having learnt to ‘talk with his fingers’, did not allow his disabilities to restrict unduly his social, intellectual and political life.1 In 1778 his brother Thomas, who had inherited considerable estates in Lincolnshire from his uncle Thomas Humberston, pledged his English property to purchase for £100,000 the Seaforth estates from his second cousin Lord Seaforth, whom he succeeded in 1781 as chief of the Clan Mackenzie, but not in his peerage. When Thomas died in 1783, Francis continued his brother’s electoral plans for restoring the neglected Seaforth interest in Ross-shire, in opposition to Henry Dundas’s cousin, Lord Macleod, chief of the junior branch of the Mackenzie clan.

In December 1783 John Robinson wrote:2

As the chief of the Mackenzies, brother and heir of the late Colonel Humberston, is deaf and dumb, it is unlikely he will think of coming into Parliament and therefore it is most likely that Lord Macleod will be elected again.

But Mackenzie did stand and was returned with the assistance of a number of fictitious votes. Listed by William Adam as Opposition, he voted against Pitt’s Irish propositions, 13 May 1785, but did not vote on Richmond’s fortifications plan, 27 Feb. 1786; and although he had intended to be present at the expected division of 4 May 1787 on the Prince of Wales’s debts, was detained in Scotland by his wife’s lying in.3 He voted with the Opposition on the Regency.

His real interest lay in the improvement of his Scottish estates; but the expense involved in his schemes for building new villages, improving agriculture, and promoting education strained his resources. He was obliged to sell the Humberston estate which he had re-purchased and, as the Seaforth estates were still burdened with £100,000 debt at 5 per cent interest, resolved to reduce his extravagant expenditure in London and restore his finances by living for some five or six years in Lewis.4 By 1788 he had decided not to seek re-election, but to offer his seat to a friend; and at the general election of 1790 gave his interest to William Adam.

He died 11 Jan. 1815.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Edith Lady Haden-Guest


  • 1. Boswell, Private Pprs. xiv. 210-11; Sir W. Scott, Lament for the Last of the Seaforths.
  • 2. Laprade, 104.
  • 3. Add. 33978, f. 118.
  • 4. Seaforth mss, vols. iv and vi, SRO.