CAMPBELL, Archibald (?1763-1838), of Blythswood, Renfrew

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



1806 - 27 May 1809
13 Apr. 1812 - 1812
1818 - 1820
1820 - 1831

Family and Education

b. ?1763,1 2nd s. of James Campbell2 of Blythswood (formerly Douglas of Mains) and Henrietta, da. of James Dunlop of Garnkirk, Lanark. unm. suc. bro. Lt.-Col. John Campbell to Blythswood 1794. d. 13 June 1838.

Offices Held

Capt. 1 Ft. 1790, maj. 1794, off list 1795; maj. Renfrew mil. 1802, col. 1822; lt.-col. commdt. R. Greenock vols. 1803-5, Renfrew yeoman inf. 1807, Glasgow vols. 1807.

Ld. lt. Renfrew 1825-d.; rect. Glasgow Univ. 1809-11.


Campbell’s Blythswood estate bordered on Glasgow, and by the 1820s some of his land was being ‘profitably feued out for the construction of fashionable residences’ for the town’s wealthier inhabitants.3 Since 1802 he had exercised political control over Renfrew, one of the Glasgow Burghs, and an alliance with Alexander Houston†, whose supporters controlled Dumbarton, had enabled them to share the representation between 1806 and 1812 and again from 1818. In 1820, when Houston retired, Campbell was returned unopposed after his rival, the Glasgow merchant Kirkman Finlay*, declined the contest.4

He cast no recorded votes in the first two sessions of the 1820 Parliament, being granted six weeks’ leave on account of ill health, 30 May 1820, and pairing against Catholic relief, 28 Feb. 1821. Thereafter, he was a regular attender who continued to give general support to Lord Liverpool’s ministry. He divided against more extensive tax reductions, 21 Feb., abolition of one of the joint-postmasterships, 13 Mar., and repeal of the salt duty, 28 June 1822. However, he voted against the government’s proposed new corn duties, 9 May, and presented a hostile petition from Glasgow chamber of commerce, 21 May.5 He presented petitions from West India merchants on the Clyde to alter the law regarding bonded goods and from West India planters in Glasgow against altering the duties on East Indian produce, 17 May.6 He paired against the removal of Catholic peers’ disabilities, 30 Apr. He divided against inquiries into Irish tithes, 19 June, and the conduct of the lord advocate towards the Scottish press, 25 June 1822. That November he expressed gratitude for the ‘very kind and flattering manner’ in which the home secretary Peel had recommended him for the lord lieutenancy of Renfrewshire, but explained that ‘I really have no wish to fill the situation’. In common with ‘many of my friends’ he was ‘anxious’ that the honour should be conferred on Sir Michael Shaw Stewart of Ardgowan and ‘some time ago [I] took the liberty to suggest this to Lord Melville’, the ministry’s Scottish manager, who ‘said he saw no objection’; this was done.7 In March 1823 he asked Liverpool to appoint a Scot to a vacant lordship of the treasury, emphasizing the ‘very great advantage ... to the public service from there being placed at that board a gentleman conversant with Scotch affairs’, which would ‘materially facilitate the dispatch of business’; the post was not filled.8 He divided against further tax reductions, 3 Mar., repeal of the duty on houses valued at under £5 per annum, 10 Mar., restriction of the sinking fund, 13 Mar., repeal of all assessed taxes, 18 Mar., and inquiry into the currency, 12 June. He expressed ‘great pleasure and thankfulness’ at the government’s plan to amend the Scottish distilling laws, 16 Apr., but pressed for a drawback on stock in hand.9 He presented, without comment, a West India planters and merchants’ petition deploring the attempts by abolitionists to disturb the slave population in the colonies, 12 May, and six petitions from Greenock and elsewhere against equalizing the sugar duties, 22 May.10 He voted for the grant for Irish churches, 11 Apr., and against inquiry into the prosecution of the Dublin Orange rioters, 22 Apr. He divided against repeal of the Foreign Enlistment Act, 16 Apr., reform of Scotland’s parliamentary representation, 2 June, and inquiry into delays in chancery, 5 June 1823. He voted against reform of Edinburgh’s representation, 26 Feb. 1824. He presented petitions from West India planters and merchants in Glasgow and Greenock to continue the duty on rum, 15 Mar., Paisley silk manufacturers against the silk regulation bill, 19 Mar., and Glasgow’s licensed victuallers against the beer duties, 7 May 1824.11 He divided for the Irish unlawful societies bill, 25 Feb., presented anti-Catholic petitions from Glasgow, 28 Mar., 18 Apr.,12 and voted in this sense, 10 May 1825. He presented petitions from Glasgow corn merchants and Greenock merchants and ship owners for revision of the corn laws, 28 Apr., and one from Glasgow in favour of the Clyde navigation bill, 12 May.13 He divided for the financial provision for the duke of Cumberland, 30 May, 6, 10 June. He voted for the St. Olave tithe bill, 6 June 1825. That summer he was ‘highly gratified’ by his appointment as lord lieutenant of Renfrewshire in succession to Shaw Stewart.14 He divided against the motion condemning the Jamaican slave trials, 2 Mar. 1826. He claimed that the Glasgow anti-slavery petition had been ‘signed in a great degree by schoolboys’ and that ‘some of the petitioners had appended their names six or seven times over’, 19 May.15 In March he presented several petitions from Glasgow and others from Dumbarton, Renfrew and elsewhere against any alteration to Scotland’s banking system.16 He voted against reform of Edinburgh’s representation, 13 Apr. He presented a Glasgow petition against the duty on refined sugar, 17 May 1826.17 At the general election that summer he was again returned unopposed for Glasgow Burghs.18

In the 1826 Parliament Campbell served more frequently on committees, usually dealing with Scottish matters. He presented petitions from Paisley for revision of the corn laws, 26 Feb., and Glasgow for protection of the shipping interest, 2 Apr. 1827.19 He divided against Catholic relief, 6 Mar. He voted for the Clarence annuity bill, 16 Mar., and with Canning’s coalition ministry for the grant to improve water communications in Canada, 12 June. He successfully moved the second reading of the Ayrshire roads bill, 21 May 1827.20 In January 1828 Lord Binning* suggested to Huskisson, colonial secretary in Lord Goderich’s tottering ministry, that Campbell’s ‘early and immediate attendance at the commencement of the session’ should be requested, as this would have ‘a good effect’ on other Scottish Members, among whom he was ‘much considered’, being ‘personally one of the most popular men I know’. He was also ‘possessed of ample estates’ and therefore ‘above the suspicion of having selfish views’.21 He divided against repeal of the Test Acts, 26 Feb., and paired against Catholic relief, 12 May. He presented petitions from Glasgow and Renfrewshire for assistance with emigration, 4, 10 Mar., and from Glasgow and Paisley town councils in favour of the Scottish parochial settlements bill, 28 Apr. He presented a Glasgow chamber of commerce petition for repeal of the stamp duty on receipts, 17 Mar. He voted with the duke of Wellington’s ministry against the motion condemning delays in chancery, 24 Apr. He presented a petition from West India planters and merchants in Glasgow against any alteration to the laws affecting the colonies, 1 July. He divided against reducing the salary of the lieutenant-general of the ordnance, 4 July, and may have been the Campbell who voted for the government amendment to the customs bill, 14 July 1828. Later that year he obtained for his nominee the appointment of distributor of stamps at Glasgow.22 In January 1829 Planta, the patronage secretary, listed him as likely to side ‘with government’ for Catholic emancipation, and, despite presenting several hostile petitions from the Glasgow trades, 23 Feb., 2 Mar., he voted for the measure, 6, 30 Mar. He emerged at this time as a more active Member in the management of general Scottish business. On 1 May he secured the third readings of the Glasgow bridge bill and the Kincardine ferry bill and presented a petition against the Dumfries roads bill. He presented petitions from Elgin and Glasgow town councils against the Scottish gaols bill, 13, 14 May, from Glasgow friendly societies against the friendly societies bill, 15 May, and from Port Glasgow merchants and ship owners against renewal of the East India Company’s charter, 22 May 1829. Early in 1830 Peel was ‘obliged to exclude’ Campbell from the select committee on the East India question, perhaps because of Glasgow’s prominence in the campaign against the charter.23 In March and April he presented numerous petitions in this sense from Glasgow, Dumbarton, Dundee, Paisley and Perth. He informed the Renfrewshire meeting on agricultural distress, 4 Feb., that he approved of its objects, and presented the resulting petition, 8 Mar.24 He divided against transferring East Retford’s seats to Birmingham, 11 Feb., Lord Blandford’s reform bill, 18 Feb., and the enfranchisement of Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, 23 Feb. He voted against Jewish emancipation, 5 Apr., 17 May, and the Galway franchise bill, 24, 25 May. He secured the first reading of the Caithness roads and statute labour bill, 8 Mar., and the second readings of the Perth navigation bill, 15 Mar., the Port Glasgow harbour bill, 22 Mar., and the Pollok and Govan railway bill, 23 Mar. That month he presented various petitions against the Broomielaw railway and tunnel, Garscube and Fossil road and Garnkirk railway bills. He presented petitions from Dundee against that town’s harbour bill, 23 Mar., coal owners and miners on the Dee for repeal of the coastwise coal duty, 5 Apr., and Berwickshire heritors and proprietors against the Tweed fisheries bill, 28 Apr. He presented petitions in favour of the court of session bill from Glasgow’s procurators, 4 May, and the lawyers of Kincardine and Stonehaven, 18 June. He divided against reducing the grant for South American missions and abolition of the death penalty for forgery, 7 June 1830. About this time Lord Ellenborough, president of the India board, noted that he had received an application for an assistant-surgeoncy from Campbell, ‘a good voter and a great friend of Lord Melville’s and others’, and had ‘given him the surgeoncy’; Planta was ‘much pleased’.25 At the general election that summer Campbell was opposed by Finlay, the leading figure in the campaign against the East India Company’s monopoly and a convert to parliamentary reform, and he owed his return to the controversial conduct of Glasgow’s lord provost, who had claimed a casting vote to elect himself as that town’s delegate.26 Finlay petitioned against the result, but Campbell was confirmed in his seat, 6 Dec. 1830.

The ministry regarded him as one of their ‘friends’, and he voted with them in the crucial civil list division, 15 Nov. 1830. He presented a Paisley petition against the truck system, 14 Dec. 1830. He was granted a week’s leave for urgent private business, 14 Feb. 1831. He asked Lord Grey’s ministry to allow a six-month drawback period for printed calico, which would be ‘a boon’ to his constituents and ‘very beneficial to the trade in general’, 28 Feb. He joined a deputation of Scottish Members to the chancellor of the exchequer, Lord Althorp, against the proposed tax on steam vessels, 5 Mar.27 He divided against the second reading of the reform bill, 22 Mar., and for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. At the ensuing dissolution he found himself isolated in Glasgow, where there was widespread support even within the council for a measure which proposed to give the town two Members of its own. Faced with opposition from Finlay and another reformer, he quietly retired.28 He died in June 1838 and his estates passed to his second cousin, Archibald Douglas of Mains (1809-68), who assumed the surname Campbell; his personalty was sworn under £35,000 in the province of Canterbury.29 An obituarist noted that in addition to ‘an accurate and assiduous attention to the practical details of business’, Campbell had brought to his parliamentary duties ‘a degree of suavity of temper and urbanity of manners towards all ... seldom equalled and never surpassed’. Everyone had enjoyed ‘the hilarity which beamed from his bland countenance’.30

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Terry Jenkins


  • 1. IGI (Scotland) says 1763, but Glasgow Herald, 22 June 1838 states that he died ‘in his 77th year’.
  • 2. Not Col. Andrew Campbell, as stated in HP Commons, 1790-1820, iii. 368.
  • 3. Glasgow, Vol. I: Beginnings to 1830 ed. T. Devine and G. Jackson, 265.
  • 4. Glasgow Herald, 14, 18 Feb., 3 Apr. 1820.
  • 5. The Times, 22 May 1822.
  • 6. Ibid. 18 May 1822.
  • 7. Add. 40353, f. 13.
  • 8. Add. 38292, ff. 338-9.
  • 9. The Times, 17 Apr. 1823.
  • 10. Ibid. 13, 23 May 1823.
  • 11. Ibid. 16, 20 Mar., 8 May 1824.
  • 12. Ibid. 29 Mar., 19 Apr. 1825.
  • 13. Ibid. 29 Apr., 13 May 1825.
  • 14. NAS GD51/5/140.
  • 15. The Times, 20 May 1826.
  • 16. Ibid. 10, 15, 21, 22 Mar. 1826.
  • 17. Ibid. 18 May 1826.
  • 18. Glasgow Herald, 7 July 1826.
  • 19. The Times, 27 Feb., 3 Apr. 1827.
  • 20. Ibid. 22 May 1827.
  • 21. Add. 38754, f. 20.
  • 22. Wellington mss WP1/956/11.
  • 23. Bucks. RO, Fremantle mss D/FR/139/14/11.
  • 24. Glasgow Herald, 5 Mar. 1830.
  • 25. Ellenborough Diary, ii. 264-5.
  • 26. Glasgow Herald, 6, 27 Aug. 1830.
  • 27. Ibid. 11 Mar. 1831.
  • 28. Ibid. 29 Apr., 20 May 1831.
  • 29. PROB 11/1901/630; IR26/1480/949.
  • 30. Glasgow Herald, 22 June 1838.