GLASSFORD, Henry (1764-1819), of Dougalston, Stirling.

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



22 Feb. 1806 - 1806
1807 - June 1810

Family and Education

b. 1764, 2nd s. of John Glassford, tobacco merchant, of Dougalston by 2nd w. Anne, da. of Sir John Nisbet, 3rd Bt., of Dean, Edinburgh. educ. Glasgow Univ. 1775; adv. 1785; continental tour 1785-7. unm.

Offices Held

Rector, Glasgow Univ. 1805-7.

Capt. Baldernock yeomanry 1798, maj. commdt. 1799; lt.-col. commdt. W. Stirling vols. 1804.


Glassford’s father, a tobacco magnate in Glasgow, was the greatest shipowner in Scotland. Glassford was not only well-to-do, he was ‘moderate in his expenses’. He was bred to the law but did not practise. On 20 Apr. 1787 Sir Gilbert Elliot wrote a letter of introduction for him to Lord Malmesbury, describing him as ‘a young gentleman of considerable fortune in the west of Scotland’:

His father ... was long at the head of the trade of Glasgow, and was not only one of the most opulent but one of the most respectable men in that part of the world. Mr Henry Glassford has been two years on his travels and is now at The Hague.1

In 1802 he contested Dunbartonshire on the interest of the Duke of Montrose, but there being three candidates, it was decided that he was to divide the Parliament with James Colquhoun.2 In accordance with the agreement he was returned in February 1806. He apparently opposed the Grenville ministry, though no minority vote survives and he did not take his seat until 24 Apr. At the general election later that year he withdrew when warmly opposed by administration, Charles Edmonstone being elected.3

In 1807 Glassford stood again with Montrose’s support. The following observation was made to Robert Saunders Dundas:

As to Dunbartonshire, it will go for Mr Glassford provided he is not ruined by Mr Edmonstone holding himself out to be the government candidate. There is certainly no comparison between the two candidates. The one supported the friends of the present administration when out of power and lost his election last time because Edmonstone was supported by the late administration. In the one you have a steady friend, in the other a pretended friend who will leave you when any dubiety occurs. In such situations I have seen government injure themselves by neutrality.4

The warning was heeded and Glassford was returned with government backing. In the House he supported the Portland and Perceval ministries,5 voting with the latter on the address and Scheldt questions, 23, 26 Jan., 23 Feb., 30 Mar., and against the release of the radical Gale Jones, 16 Apr. 1810. Two months later he vacated his seat. He died 19 May 1819, his heir being his younger half-brother James.6

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: D. G. Henry


  • 1. DNB (Glassford, John, 1715-83); Pol. State of Scotland 1788, p. 338; NLS mss 11111, f. 204.
  • 2. Blair Adam mss, Glassford to Adam, 12 July 1802.
  • 3. Fortescue mss, Grenville to Adam, 24 Oct., Adam to Grenville, 13 Nov. 1806.
  • 4. NLS mss 8, f. 172.
  • 5. The Scotsman, 1819, no. 124.
  • 6. DNB (Glassford, James).