MONTAGU SCOTT, Charles William Henry, Earl of Dalkeith (1772-1819).

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



28 June 1793 - 1796
1796 - Apr. 1804
11 Feb. 1805 - 1806
1806 - 11 Apr. 1807

Family and Education

b. 24 May 1772, 2nd but 1st surv. s. of Henry Scott, 3rd Duke of Buccleuch [S], by Lady Elizabeth Montagu, da. and h. of George, 1st Duke of Montagu. educ. Eton 1780-9; Christ’s, Camb.;1 European tour 1790-2. m. 24 Mar. 1795, his cos. Hon. Harriet Catherine Townshend, da. of Thomas Townshend, 1st Visct. Sydney, 3s. 6da. Styled Earl of Dalkeith 1772-1807; summ. to the Lords in his fa.’s barony as Lord Tynedale 11 Apr. 1807; suc. fa. as 4th Duke of Buccleuch 11 Jan. 1812, KT 22 May 1812.

Offices Held

Ld. lt. Selkirk 1794-8, Dumfries 1798-d , Edinburgh 1812-d.

Capt. 1 fencible cav. 1794; col. Dumfries militia 1798, brevet col. 1798; capt.-gen. R. co. Scottish archers 1812-d.


Sir Gilbert Elliot after meeting Dalkeith, then still at Eton, at a ball in 1787, described him as ‘a fine, natural, spirited boy and by no means ill-looking, though still promising to be like the duke’. Reports of him continued to be favourable when he toured the Continent. Lord Auckland noted ‘an ardent temper with a quick and lively understanding’, 29 May 1790, and described him as ‘a very pleasing young man, gay and cheerful in his manner, of an appearance highly prejudicing in his favour’, 7 Sept. His only faults were his being ‘somewhat addicted to disputation’ and his ‘dislike to do anything that he cannot do well’, which prevented his speaking French, 2 Nov. 1790.2

On coming of age Dalkeith was returned to Parliament on his great-uncle the 1st Earl of Ailesbury’s interest, a vacancy being earmarked for him. Like his father, he could be relied on to support Pitt’s administration, but not to attend, for he was frequently distracted by militia duties in Scotland. He ‘showed a turn for military affairs’. In his only known speech in the House he moved the address, 29 Oct. 1795, defending Pitt’s foreign policy. In 1796 Ailesbury was prepared to return him for Great Bedwyn, but fell out with his father over his electoral intervention at Launceston to the prejudice of Lady Ailesbury’s family.3 Dalkeith was defeated at Launceston, somewhat to his father’s relief, and fell back on a seat for Ludgershall, on the interest of his father-in-law, Viscount Sydney. He retained this seat in 1802, despite some talk of his making way for his brother-in-law, Viscount Stopford. His father’s friend Henry Dundas dismissed this notion: ‘Your son must be in Parliament and it is too soon to go to the House of Lords’.4 Instead, Dalkeith assisted Stopford’s election for Dumfries Burghs. He then visited Paris.

Although he did not oppose the Addington ministry, Dalkeith was unimpressed by the peace of Amiens and remained attached to Pitt; he was so listed in March 1804. On 11 Apr. Pitt solicited his attendance ‘by the 20th or even by the 23rd ... until the 30th’, since ‘the success or failure of our efforts must be decided within that period’. He set out on the 17th, only to be required to vacate his seat rather than vote with Pitt, to whom he excused himself: his courtier father-in-law had objected to his intentions.5 His ‘local duties’, which apart from the responsibilities of an immense estate gradually devolving upon him, also involved him in managing the family electoral interest in Scotland, now detained him there. Nevertheless he was expected to be in Parliament, and Lord Ailesbury being unable to accommodate him he was found a seat for Mitchell on the interest of (Sir) Christopher Hawkins*. He was still in Scotland when government suffered a setback on Melville’s question, 8 Apr. 1805. On 15 Apr. he wrote to Pitt to explain that he was ‘not absent from inclination’: no one had warned him that government might be defeated. He promised attendance after the holidays, setting out on 25 Apr.: so much for the report that he ‘would not go up to defend [Melville]’. He was listed ‘Pitt’ in July. In November his father obtained Pitt’s assurance that he would be summoned to the Lords in his father’s barony; but Pitt’s death prevented its realization.6

On 27 Feb. 1806 Ailesbury promised Dalkeith a seat at the dissolution. In reply he admitted that he was not provided with one, but added:

I should not wish by any means to pledge myself to an unconditional support of the present government and on the other hand I am by no means prepared to join any factious or systematic opposition. Should the measures of government be directed to the defence and independence of the country, its security and real interests, I should with great pleasure give it my individual support—should however the present government bring forward great constitutional questions, opposite in principles to those I have uniformly supported, humble the country before France, or introduce matters injurious to the memory of Mr Pitt then I should think myself bound to oppose it.

Ailesbury concurred and came to terms. On 20 Oct. 1806 Dalkeith warned him ‘that I foresee many measures likely to be brought forward, which I should feel myself obliged to oppose’. He added that he totally disapproved of some measures already adopted by the Grenville ministry. Ailesbury swallowed this too and he was elected for Marlborough in absentia.7 On 30 Mar. 1807 the Duke of Portland obtained the King’s ready assent to his elevation to the Lords, stipulated for by Lord Melville. The only condition was that he remain in the Commons until 9 Apr. to vote against Brand’s motion and take his seat in the Lords two days later to vote against Lord Stafford’s similar motion of remonstrance following the dismissal of the Grenville ministry. This was evidently arranged.8

He remained ‘sincerely attached to the principles of Mr Pitt’. As a Scots grandee, he inspired respect and affection. He died at Lisbon, 20 Apr. 1819.9

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Thus GEC, but not confirmed. Dr Cornewall, afterwards bp. of Worcester was Dalkeith's tutor (Farington, v. 75) and William Garthshore* his travelling tutor in 1790.
  • 2. Minto, i. 148, 400, 403, 405; Leveson Gower, i. 65; Add. 34431, f. 268; 34433, f. 76; 34434, f. 12.
  • 3. CJ, l. 568; Gent. Mag. (1819), i. 579; SRO GD51/1/200/12-14, 19; GD 224/663/9/4-7.
  • 4. SRO GD224/581, Dundas to Buccleuch, 28 July 1802.
  • 5. SRO GD224/30, Pitt to Dalkeith, 11 Apr. 1804; PRO, Dacres Adams mss 5/14; Minto, iii. 245, 319.
  • 6. SRO GD224/580, passim; 224/663/10/1, 2; Dacres Adams mss 6/47; NLS mss 11097, ff. 3, 7; PRO 30/8/128, f. 45.
  • 7. SRO GD224/663/10/1-11.
  • 8. SRO GD51/1/195/24; GD224/668/12/18; Geo. III Corresp. iv. 3425, 3428.
  • 9. Gent. Mag. (1819), i. 579.