MACKENZIE, Thomas (1789-1822), of Applecross, Ross.

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



1818 - 19 Oct. 1822

Family and Education

b. 28 May 1789,1 o. surv. s. of John Mackenzie, advocate, of Applecross and Lochcarron by Jean, da. of Alexander Elphinstone of Glack, Aberdeen. unm. suc. fa. 1820.

Offices Held


Elizabeth Grant of Rothiemurchus recalled Mackenzie, ‘a plain man’ with ‘a buck tooth’, at an Inverness ball in 1814:

He was the catch of the north country from the extent of his property, and though very plain, sickly, and no great use as a dancing partner, he would have been, without a penny, a catch for anyone worthy of him.

He assumed responsibility for management of the family estates while his father was still alive, and, according to Sir Alexander Muir Mackenzie, soon began to cut a figure in the county:

he has more influence in the business of the county than any person in it, which he has attained entirely by his own exertions and from the confidence which upon trial has been reposed in him, for he came among them, a stranger, his father being the most indolent man in the world, and who never lived in the county.

In April 1817 Mackenzie began to canvass Ross-shire for the next election and Muir Mackenzie sent Robert Dundas of Arniston a glowing testimonial:

although ... it is his determination to consider himself as completely independent of all party, it is his full design to give his general support to govt. unless when he decidedly disapproves of any particular measure. This is certainly as much as can be expected from any young man upon commencing his political career, one in particular circumstanced as he is, who has acted for himself so much more than most young men have done whose fathers are alive, and who has been placed in such a situation, as to have at once the complete direction of a very extensive estate ... and at the same time felt himself acting in the name of another and prudently abstaining from committing himself by very violent political opinions ... I do not know of any person so qualified to make a useful and respectable Member of Parliament. Joined to a mind stored with more general and detailed information than any young man with whom I have met, he possesses a soundness of judgement and calmness of temper which are very rarely met with, and to these are added unwearied application and untired activity. With these advantages he is perfectly modest and unassuming, and although I think he will certainly turn out a most valuable Scotch MP he will not be a talker.

His rival for the seat was backed by the hitherto dominant Seaforth interest, but Mackenzie won widespread backing from other leading members of the clan. At the freeholders’ meeting in 1817 he declared his intention of giving general support to government, provided they continued to pursue policies in which his own judgment led him to concur. Ministers did not intervene in the contest at the 1818 general election, which Mackenzie narrowly won.2

He supported government, dividing with them on the Wyndham Quin* affair, 29 Mar., Tierney’s censure motion, 18 May, and the foreign enlistment bill, 10 June 1819. He voted for further investigation of petitions for Scottish burgh reform, 6 May, and was a member of the select committee of inquiry. On Boswell’s motion to introduce a bill to repeal Scottish statutes concerning duelling, 31 Mar., he warned against abrogating the principle of desuetude. He clearly made a good impression during his first year in the House. John Gladstone found him ‘able and zealous in the discharge of his duties and greatly respected by the Scotch representatives generally’. Lord Melville responded favourably to requests that he be given the backing of government at the next election: ‘I wish we had many more Members like him; they would form a valuable portion of the House of Commons’.3 Mackenzie died of consumption, 19 Oct. 1822.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: David R. Fisher


  • 1. Scots Mag. (1789), 258.
  • 2. Mems. of a Highland Lady ed. Lady Strachey, 230, 301; SRO GD51/1/198/23/6-8.
  • 3. SRO GD46/4/124, Gladstone to Mrs Stewart Mackenzie, 17 Mar. 1820; GD51/5/749/1, p. 170; NLS mss 1054, f. 174.