HOUSTOUN, Alexander (c.1770-1822), of Clerkington, Haddington.

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



1802 - 30 Mar. 1803
30 June 1809 - 1812
1818 - 1820

Family and Education

b. c.1770, 1st s. of Col. Andrew Houstoun of Jordanhill, Renfrew by Margaret, da. of Hugh Wallace of Eldersley, Jamaica. educ. Glasgow Univ. 1784. m. Helen McKay, s.p. suc. fa. 1800.

Offices Held

Lt.-gov. Grenada 1796-1802.


Houstoun was the grandson of Alexander Houstoun (d.1777) founder of the Glasgow merchant firm trading with the West Indies. He served as lieutenant-governor of Grenada until his resignation in April 1802, whence his sobriquet of ‘Governor Houstoun’.1 By cultivating the burghs of Dumbarton and Rutherglen, he secured his return at the ensuing general election for the Glasgow district of burghs, only to be unseated on petition. He remained in the running, and when in December 1804 an opening occurred for Haddington Burghs and Sir Hew Dalrymple Hamilton was informed by Lord Melville’s son Robert that Houstoun might welcome it, he demurred: ‘My own opinion is that Houstoun has had enough of it this Parliament and though sure of being beat that he will not easily relinquish his chance of the boroughs in any future opening’.2 In 1806 Houstoun came to terms with his rival Archibald Campbell whereby he was to share the seat with Campbell. His turn came in June 1809.

Houstoun, who had Melville’s approbation, supported government. He voted with them throughout the Scheldt debates, January-March 1810, and against the release of the radical agitator Gale Jones, 16 Apr.; on the Regency question, 1 Jan. 1811; against sinecure reform. 24 Feb., 4 May 1812, and against a ‘stronger’ administration, 21 May. On 5 and 8 May 1811 he presented petitions from distressed Scottish cotton manufacturers and on 5 June was named to the select committee on the subject. Perceval suggested him, rather than Lord Archibald Hamilton, for the finance committee, 9 Jan. 1812, but by a compromise neither was adopted. He presented his constituents’ petitions for free trade with the Orient, 6 Feb., 25, 26 Mar. 1812.

Before the election of 1812, Houstoun renewed his agreement with Archibald Campbell, reserving Glasgow for the Parliament after next. It appears that he was to have been offered a Treasury borough for £3,000, but nothing came of it.3 Campbell had been disappointed at Glasgow as well, but in 1818 he duly supported Houstoun in his successful contest with the sitting Member Finlay. Houstoun again supported government, voting with them against Tierney’s censure motion, 18 May 1819, and for the foreign enlistment bill, 10 June. He was in the minority against the Marriage Act amendment bill on 26 Apr. Ill health prevented his attendance next session and he ceded the seat to Campbell in 1820.4 He died 22 Mar. 1822.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Geo. III Corresp. iv. 2618.
  • 2. SRO GD51/1/198/3/38.
  • 3. SRO GD51/1/198/22/5; 51/1/200/42.
  • 4. Recs. Burgh of Glasgow, x. 539.