HALLYBURTON, Hon. Douglas (1777-1841), of Hallyburton House, Forfar

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



31 Jan. 1832 - 1841

Family and Education

b. 10 Oct. 1777, o.s. of George Gordon, 4th earl of Aboyne [S] (d. 1794), and 2nd w. Lady Mary Douglas, da. of James, 14th earl of Morton [S]. m. 16 July 1807, Louisa, da. and h. of Sir Edward Leslie, 1st bt., MP[I], of Tarbert, co. Kerry, s.p. suc. to Forfar estates of cos. Hon. Hamilton Douglas Hallyburton of Pitcur 1784 and assumed name of Hallyburton. styled Lord Douglas Gordon Hallyburton and granted precedence as yr. son of mq. by royal lic. 24 June 1836-d. d. 25 Dec. 1841.

Offices Held

Ensign 1 Ft. Gds. 1793; capt. 113 Ft. 1795, 22 Ft. 1796, 1 Ft. Gds. 1798; maj. army 1803; lt.-col. 1810; maj. Corsican rangers (half-pay) 1810-26.


Hallyburton, as this Member became on inheriting his cousin’s extensive Forfarshire estates and taking the name of his maternal grandfather James Hallyburton of Pitcur, was a brother-in-law of William Beckford† of Fonthill and half-brother of George Gordon, 5th earl of Aboyne (from 1836 9th marquess of Huntly, a Tory representative peer, 1796-1806, 1807-18, and father of Lord Strathavon*). A shrewd soldier, landowner and bank director who counted Henry Brougham*, Lord Lansdowne and the duke of Sussex among his personal correspondents and friends, his military career included service in Austria, whence he returned with dispatches from Colonel Crawford in 1796, and seven years (1803-10) as an assistant to the quartermaster-general in Ireland, which equipped him well to develop his substantial interests in banking and transport in Dundee and Ireland.1 A regular speaker and sponsor of Whig causes at county meetings, he presided at the election of the Foxite William Maule for Forfarshire at the general election of 1826, and of the Wellington ministry’s colonial secretary Sir George Murray for Perthshire in 1830. He nominated the Grey ministry’s lord advocate Francis Jeffrey for Perth Burghs at both elections in 1831.2 He had himself been considered for Forfarshire in 1807, before Lord Melville ruled him out as a supporter of Catholic relief. Writing to lord chancellor Brougham, 17 Mar. 1831, of his aspirations, he observed:

Perhaps you would ask me do I wish to come into Parliament. My answer would be, not very violently. I feel no necessity on the subject. Twenty years ago, had circumstances been propitious, I should have felt differently, but having turned the corner of 50, I am apt to think it is rather late to begin a parliamentary life, with much hope of satisfaction to oneself, or benefit to others. If elected and in health, I would transact the essential business of my constituents honestly and zealously. This much I think I may say, without any breach of modesty; but this is not all I should have aspired to, had events brought me in to Parliament at a fresher period of my life. If it becomes a question of duty, however, the case is entirely changed, and personal considerations ought then to be kept as much as possible out of sight.3

He staked his claim to the post-reform Dundee constituency the following month, and at the Forfarshire meeting on 16 May he took the lord lieutenant, Lord Airlie, to task for refusing to convene reform meetings, promoting hostile petitions and sponsoring his brothers Donald Ogilvy* and William Ogilvy* as anti-reform candidates.4 In September 1831 he abandoned his consultations with the boundary commissioner Sir John Dalrymple† and his canvass of Dundee, where his refusal to support a precipitate repeal of the corn laws and defence of Huskisson’s policies had left him trailing behind the radical George Kinloch†, and contested Forfarshire ‘under the auspices’ of Maule, whose elevation to the peerage as Lord Panmure at the coronation had created a vacancy.5 Although outpolled by Donald Ogilvy, his subsequent petition alleging partiality by Airlie succeeded.6

In his maiden speech, 8 Mar. 1832, Hallyburton endorsed a petition from Arbroath for repeal of the hemp duties and used statistics to demonstrate that doing so would boost the Forfarshire trade to the detriment of their Russian and German competitors without diminishing exchequer revenues. He divided steadily for the details of the revised reform bill and voted for its third reading, 22 Mar. He voted for the address calling on the king to appoint only ministers who would carry it unimpaired, 10 May, and staked his claim to the extinct Halyburton [sic] peerage as the sole surviving male descendant of his grandfather Lord Morton, when peerage creations were mooted.7 He testified to the strong pro-reform minority in Perthshire when the county’s anti-reform petition was presented, 23 May, but admitted his failure to carry one there endorsing the government’s proposals. He divided for the Irish reform bill at its second reading, 25 May, and against Murray’s amendments for increasing the Scottish county representation, 1 June, and adding certain Perthshire parishes to Clackmannan and Kinross, 15 June. On 6 June he seconded an abortive proposal to bar Scottish clergymen, whose virtues he extolled, from voting in parliamentary elections in order ‘to keep the character of the clergy ... free from all political taint or secular feelings’. He maintained that the proposal was consistent with the principle of the bill, accorded with ‘the feelings’ of the Scottish people and merely extended the resolution (in clause 36) denying votes to sheriffs and sheriff’s clerks. He voted against Alexander Baring’s bill to exclude insolvent debtors from Parliament the same day. He divided with government on relations with Portugal, 9 Feb., the navy civil departments bill 6 Apr., and the Russian-Dutch loan, 12, 16, 20 July, but voted with other Scottish Members against the third reading of the malt drawback bill, 2 Apr. 1832.

Hallyburton was returned unopposed for Forfarshire as a Liberal at the general election of 1832, defeated a Conservative there in 1835 and sat undisturbed until his retirement on account of ill health in 1841.8 To curb speculation about his increasing debility, his physician had informed The Times that ‘the malady is corporeal, weakening the powers of speech as well as the muscular powers generally, but unaccompanied by anything like mental derangement in the proper and usual sense of the word’.9 Known as Lord Douglas Gordon Hamilton following his half-brother’s succession as marquess of Huntly, he died in London on Christmas Day that year, recalled as a lifelong Whig and promoter of the Perth-Dundee railway. He was buried in Kensal Green cemetery.10 His will, of which his nephew and successor as Member for Forfarshire, Lord John Frederick Gordon Hallyburton (d.1878), was the main beneficiary, was proved under £100 in London, 16 June 1842, and £27,000 in Ireland in 1843. Probate was confirmed at Forfar sheriff’s court, 25 Jan. 1856, over four years after the death of his widow and when proceeds from the sale of the Irish estates had been reinvested in Scottish property as Hallyburton had directed.11

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Margaret Escott


  • 1. Gent. Mag. (1842), i. 324; Brougham mss, Hallyburton to Brougham, 17 Oct. 1829.
  • 2. The Times, 5 July 1826; Brougham mss, Hallyburton to Brougham, 25 Aug.; Stirling Advertiser, 27 Aug. 1830; Kelso Mail, 13 Jan., 6 June; Perthshire Courier, 26 May 1831.
  • 3. HP Commons, 1790-1820, ii. 541; Brougham mss.
  • 4. NAS GD16/34/387/8/12-17; Dundee, Perth and Cupar Advertiser, 14 Apr.; Perthshire Courier, 2 June 1831.
  • 5. Dundee, Perth and Cupar Advertiser, 23, 30 June, 15, 22 Sept. 1831, 2 Feb. 1832; Brougham mss, Hallyburton to Brougham, 22 Aug. 1831.
  • 6. Perthshire Courier, 29 Sept., 6 Oct. 1831; NAS GD16/34/387/8/66; Dundee City Archives, Camperdown mss GD/Ca/Tin Box EC/12/11.
  • 7. Brougham mss, Hallyburton to Brougham, 25 Mar. 1832.
  • 8. Scotsman, 15, 22 Dec.; Add. 51837, Panmure to Holland, 22 Dec.; Dundee, Perth and Cupar Advertiser, 27 Dec. 1832.
  • 9. The Times, 7, 8 June 1841.
  • 10. Perthshire Courier, 6 Jan.; Gent. Mag. (1842), i. 324.
  • 11. PROB 11/1964/407; IR26/1613/662; NAS SC47/40/23; SC70/1/74.