Glasgow Burghs

Single Member Scottish burgh

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Background Information

Dunbarton (1754, ’80); Renfrew (1761, ’84); Rutherglen (1768), Glasgow (1774), Lanark


9 May 1754John Campbell
20 Apr. 1761Lord Frederick Campbell
24 June 1765Campbell re-elected after appointment to office
11 Apr. 1768Lord Frederick Campbell
10 Dec. 1768Campbell re-elected after appointment to office
31 Oct. 1774Lord Frederick Campbell
22 Oct. 1780John Craufurd
6 Apr. 1784Ilay Campbell
26 Feb. 1790John Craufurd vice Campbell, appointed to office
 John Dunlop

Main Article

Glasgow, already in the eighteenth century a great trading and manufacturing city, with a population rising from about 27,000 in 1755 to over 40,000 in 1775, had far outstripped the other burghs, none of which had a population of more than 2,000. Rutherglen, from its proximity to Glasgow, was largely dominated by the city’s wealthy merchants; Renfrew burgh politics usually followed those of the county; and Dumbarton was under the influence of the Duke of Argyll. Glasgow had a long and close connexion with Argyll, but the council was sufficiently independent to require that their representative should be cognisant of the city’s business affairs and capable of managing their parliamentary concerns.

John Campbell, returned unopposed in 1754, was the eldest son of John Campbell of Mamore, Argyll’s cousin and heir to the dukedom. Campbell was again the candidate in 1761, but the Duke’s death on 15 Apr. made him the eldest son of a Scottish peer and therefore ineligible to represent a Scottish constituency. He was replaced by his younger brother, Lord Frederick Campbell.

The influence of the 4th Duke of Argyll was much less than that of his great predecessor, and Lord Frederick Campbell had to depend on his own industry and prestige to keep the burghs ‘steady’, particularly as a considerable number of the Glasgow merchants favoured the repeal of the Stamp Act and disliked the line Campbell took on America. In 1768 Daniel Campbell of Shawfield declared himself a candidate but soon withdrew, and there was also some talk of an opposition in December 1768.1 By 1780 Campbell had tired of the burden of Glasgow’s multifarious business, and was anxious to represent a less exacting constituency. His brother John, 5th Duke of Argyll, recommended John Craufurd of Auchenames, and William Fullarton of Fullarton also declared his candidature. On 25 Sept. the Glasgow council, by a majority of nine, decided in favour of Craufurd, and Fullarton declined shortly before the election.2

Craufurd supported the Coalition and afterwards adhered to Charles James Fox, and at the general election of 1784 Henry Dundas sponsored the candidature of Ilay Campbell, lord advocate. Campbell had long been employed on Glasgow’s legal affairs, and was well known in the city. He was elected by the votes of all four burghs.3 On Campbell’s appointment as lord president of the court of session in October 1789, Glasgow adopted John Dunlop, a member of the city council, as their candidate. Craufurd secured control of Renfrew, the returning burgh, and made a bid for Dumbarton. On 12 Feb. 1790 the Duke of Hamilton wrote to Pitt:

I am very sorry to inform you that by the inattention or misconduct of the Duke of Argyll’s people of business, the borough of Dumbarton is lost for the present to that family ... I have done everything in my power, and have secured the city of Glasgow and Rutherglen, and Mr. John Dunlop, a gentleman ... much attached to your interest, was to have represented the burghs had not this unforeseen accident happened, by which another person comes into Parliament, inimical to the present Government and in opposition to the wishes of ... Glasgow.

Craufurd was returned by the casting vote of Renfrew, the returning burgh.4 During his brief tenure of the seat, Glasgow barely recognized him as their representative and conducted most of their business through William McDowall.

Author: Edith Lady Haden-Guest


  • 1. Ld. Auchinleck to Loudoun, 25 Mar. 1768, Loudoun mss; Caldwell Pprs. ii (2), p. 147; Chas. Dalrymple to Loudoun, 11 Dec. 1768, Loudoun mss.
  • 2. Glasgow Recs. vii. 609-10; Caledonian Merc. 4 Oct. 1780.
  • 3. Laprade, 100; Letters of Dempster to Fergusson, 124; Edinburgh Advertiser, 23 Apr. 1784.
  • 4. Glasgow Recs. viii. 326; Chatham mss.