CAMPBELL, John (1664-1739), of Edinburgh.
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Family and Education
b. 1664, 2nd s. of Walter Campbell, capt. of Skipness, Argyll by his 1st w. Jean Campbell; bro. of Daniel Campbell. educ. ? Glasgow 1681. unm.
Bailie of Edinburgh c.1714, ld. provost 1715-16, 1719-20, 1723-5, treasurer in 1729.
A leading Edinburgh business man, Campbell stood unsuccessfully for Edinburgh in 1715, after pledging himself, if elected, not only to attend Parliament free of charge, but to pay £500 to its poor should he fail to attend.1 Next October he was elected lord provost in the midst of the rebellion, ten days later saving the city from rebel occupation by his prompt action in summoning the Duke of Argyll from Stirling.2 Re-elected in 1722, he was again lord provost during the agitation against the malt tax. In a letter to Walpole, referring to the ‘barbarous treatment my brother [Daniel] has met with at Glasgow’, he attributed the comparative quiet at Edinburgh to the prudence and firmness shown by ‘my magistrates and council’:
Notwithstanding of the peace which we all at present enjoy you’ll easily believe our people submit not from choice but because they believe the reins of the Government here are held tight and that it will not be cheap to rebel, and of course that the government of a place which depends on the choice of the inhabitants is in troublous enough circumstances, considering the industry of the Jacobites and another party of men amongst us to hang us. And as on the solidest grounds I am fully persuaded the quiet of his Majesty’s Government in this country at this juncture depends on my being able to hand down my own rank in the council and that of the other magistrates to persons who will act with the same regard to his Majesty’s service as we have done, I beg leave to suggest that a letter from you to me calculated to encourage my magistrates and council to be proud of what they have done would be of the greatest fortune. Believe it, Sir, nothing but the firmest attachment to his Majesty’s service could have prevailed with me to have suggested this. I don’t want compliments to myself, the goodness with which you have been always pleased to use me makes me — I believe with truth — flatter myself you are pleased to rank me among the number of your faithful friends here. I therefore hope what I have said won’t be mistaken.3
He co-operated with the action taken by Lord Ilay to stop the combination of Edinburgh brewers against the tax.4 Re-elected in 1727, he voted with the Government in all recorded divisions, except on the excise bill, when he was absent. Retiring at the end of the Parliament, he died about May 1739.