FARQUHAR, James (1764-1833), of Johnstone Lodge and Hallgreen, Inverbervie, Kincardine.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



5 Jan. 1802 - 1806
1807 - 1818
1 Mar. 1824 - 1830

Family and Education

b. 1 Aug. 1764, 2nd s. of John Farquhar, merchant, of Aberdeen by Rachel, da. of James Young, merchant, of Aberdeen.1 educ. Aberdeen g.s.;2 Aberdeen Univ. 1777-81. m. 19 May 1795, Helen, da. of Alexander Innes of Cowie, Kincardine, s.p.

Offices Held

Proctor, Doctors’ Commons 1788-d.  dep. registrar diocese and archdeaconry of Rochester 1788-1805, Admiralty ct. 1810-d.

Provost, Inverbervie; dir. Crown Life Assurance Co. c.1825-d.


Farquhar’s father was the senior partner in the Aberdeen firm of Farquhar and Hadden, stocking merchants, and his mother was the daughter of another leading local textile merchant. John Farquhar died intestate when James was three and he and his brother William were provided for by their uncle William Young, provost of Aberdeen, until their mother married David Morice, a local advocate, in 1773. William Farquhar was later in business in London with his half-brother John Morice, at St. Helen’s Place, Bishopsgate Street. In 1780 James Farquhar went to London to take articles of clerkship with Roger Altham of Doctors’ Commons, whom he succeeded on his death in 1788 as deputy registrar for the diocese of Rochester.3 He invested £1,000 in the 1797 loyalty loan.

He stood for Aberdeen Burghs on the death of the sitting Member, his brother-in-law, in November 1801. He had the backing of Henry Dundas, to whom he was apparently recommended by the senior judge Sir William Scott, brother of Lord Chancellor Eldon, and secured the approval of the Addington ministry. The burghs were also canvassed by Keith Jopp, his uncle by marriage, who was supported by local Whig interests, but Farquhar came in unopposed and overcame Jopp’s renewed challenge at the ensuing general election, when Addington was said to have intervened personally on his behalf.4

After the election Charles Innes wrote of Farquhar: ‘Independent of Mr Dundas, will support administration.’ In a contemporaneous list in the Melville papers he was numbered among the supporters of Addington who would ‘decidedly’ opt for Pitt’s return to power at the crunch. He evidently supported Addington and appears not to have joined in the combined attack on him in 1804, unless, as the Sun reported, he voted with Pitt in the division of 25 Apr. In the ministerial list of September 1804 he was classed under ‘doubtful Fox and Grenville’, but he voted against the censure of Melville, 8 Apr. 1805, and was reckoned a supporter of Pitt’s second ministry in July.

Farquhar, placed by William Adam in February 1806 among the ‘Dundas etc. interest’, did not vote for the repeal of the Additional Force Act, 30 Apr.; but just afterwards Lord Grenville told his friend and local supporter David Scott that he would remain neutral in the event of a contest in the burghs between Farquhar and John Ramsay, brother of the Foxite William Maule*, ‘supposing them both to be, as I trust they are, friends and supporters of the present government’. In June Farquhar came under pressure from the Dundases to support their candidate in Kincardineshire, where he had recently bought property. According to Francis Russell, the prospective ministerial candidate, who thought Farquhar ‘may have cause to be angry as to his burghs’, Melville ‘called on him personally before he left London’. Although Grenville repeated his promise of neutrality in the burghs in August, the Scottish Whigs managed to oust Farquhar by securing the decisive vote of Montrose for Ramsay. Farquhar, who was supported in his canvass by local Melvillite elements, contemplated an attempt on Kincardineshire, but inspection of the roll convinced him that he had no chance.5

He had his revenge in 1807 when Montrose, always susceptible to the lure of patronage, deserted Ramsay. He apparently supported the Portland ministry and he voted with Perceval’s government on the address, 23 Jan., the Scheldt inquiry, 26 Jan., 23 Feb., 5 and 30 Mar. 1810, when the Whigs listed him as ‘against the Opposition’, the Regency, 1 Jan. 1811, the sinecure paymastership, 21 and 24 Feb. and the sinecure bill, 4 May 1812. He voted against the release of John Gale Jones, 16 Apr., criminal law reform, 1 May, sinecure reductions, 17 May, and parliamentary reform, 21 May 1810. That year he secured the lucrative post of deputy registrar of the Admiralty court, which was in the gift of Perceval’s brother Lord Arden. He had opposed a call for reform in the administration of business there in his only reported speech in the House, 14 June 1808. He was in the minorities against a remodelling of administration, 21 May, and Catholic relief, 22 June, and was a teller for the majority on the Admiralty registrars bill, 19 June 1812.

It was strongly rumoured in 1811 that Farquhar would try his luck in Kincardineshire at the next election,6 but he thought better of it and instead came in again for the burghs against token opposition in 1812. He was expected to support the Liverpool ministry and he voted with them in over half the divisions of the 1812 Parliament for which full lists have been found, including those on the army estimates, 6 and 8 Mar., the property tax, 18 Mar. 1816, the suspension of habeas corpus, 23 June 1817, domestic repression, 10 and 11 Feb., 5 Mar., and the Duke of Clarence’s allowance, 15 Apr. 1818. Yet he showed more independence than he had previously, by voting against ministers on the Corn Laws, 16 May 1814, 23 Feb., 3 and 10 Mar. 1815, the Duke of Cumberland’s establishment bill, 30 June and 3 July 1815, and the composition of the finance committee, 7 Feb. 1817. He continued to vote against Catholic relief and was an opponent of Christian missionary activity in India, 1 and 12 July 1813.

Surprisingly, Farquhar was unseated in 1818 by a radical. Despite his strong personal interest in Inverbervie, of which he was provost for many years, he was never able to regain his seat for the burghs and it was six years before he found his way back into the House. He died 4 Sept. 1833.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: David R. Fisher


  • 1. W. Johnston, Descendants of James Young (1894), 1.
  • 2. Ibid. 92.
  • 3. Ibid. 1-2, 4-5, 87-116, 170.
  • 4. Glenbervie Diaries, i. 283, 288, 290; Add. 33109, f. 257.
  • 5. Fortescue mss, Grenville to Scott, 2 May, 30 Aug.; SRO GD51/198/1/3, 12; 51/1/198/12/13, 14, 26; Blair Adam mss, Russell to Adam, 11 Aug., Orr to same, 20 Oct. 1806.
  • 6. Blair Adam mss, Rey to Adam, 23 July, Loch to same, 27 July 1811.