SCOTT, Hugh (1758-1841), of Harden, Roxburgh and Mertoun, Berwicks.
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Family and Education
b. 10 Apr. 1758, o. surv. s. of Walter Scott of Harden. m. 29 Sept. 1795, Harriet, da. of Hans Maurice, Count Brühl, Saxon minister to London, 5s. 4da. suc. fa. 1793; his cos. James Hepburne 1793, and assumed name of Hepburne before Scott. Established his claim as 6th Baron Polwarth [S] 25 June 1835.
A young man with a lively interest in public affairs, in music and in the arts, Scott, soon after he came of age in 1779, offered himself as candidate for Berwickshire. The situation was unusual. Sir John Paterson, his uncle by marriage, had been returned in April 1779 on the interest of his grandfather the Earl of Marchmont. Scott’s father Walter Scott was known to be opposed to Marchmont in local politics. When Hugh Scott informed his grandfather of his intention, he therefore had little hope of obtaining his support. Marchmont, in fact, bitterly resented Scott’s intervention and a violent family quarrel followed.1
Scott therefore looked for support to the rival interests of the Earl of Home, the Homes of Wedderburn, and the anti-Marchmont independent voters: as the heir of Harden, chief (by male descent) of ‘all the Scotts in Scotland’, he could count upon the influence of the Duke of Buccleuch.2 On 10 Aug. 1779 he wrote to his friend, Lord Balgonie:3
Berwickshire voters are good, honest, kind sort of people. Many of them seem willing to oblige and everything goes on as well as I could wish. The Peer [Marchmont] instigated by the Knight [Paterson] is doing all he can against me, but I hope and think it will prove ineffectual.
The contest was further complicated by the appearance of a third candidate, Alexander Renton of Lammerton. He and Scott signed an agreement whereby Scott should serve for four sessions and Renton for the remainder of the Parliament, and their combined votes defeated Paterson. Marchmont never forgave his grandson, and when his only surviving son Lord Polwarth died, he excluded Scott, the next male heir, from the succession to the Marchmont estates.4
Paterson brought a petition claiming that the contract between Scott and Renton was illegal. The select committee agreed that Scott’s election was void but refused to declare in favour of Paterson, and a new writ was issued. Scott was re-elected, apparently unopposed. In Parliament he consistently supported the North Administration; voted against Shelburne’s peace preliminaries, 18 Feb. 1783, and for Fox’s East India bill, 27 Nov. 1783. He opposed Pitt’s Administration.
Scott seldom spoke in debate, but when on 14 Jan. 1784, after Pitt had taken office, charges were made that the late ministry had distributed bribes to Scottish Members to win their support, he rose to defend his friends.5 He did not stand at the general election of 1784. His brief parliamentary career had cost him his grandfather’s goodwill and the succession to the great Marchmont estates. At the age of twenty-six he returned to the life of a country gentleman.
He died 29 Dec. 1841.