Haddington Burghs


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

Background Information

Jedburgh, Roxburghshire (1790, 1812); Dunbar (1796, 1818), North Berwick (1802), Haddingtonshire; Lauder, Berwickshire (1806); Haddington (1807)


 William Fullarton2
20 June 1796ROBERT BAIRD 
10 Mar. 1802 HON. THOMAS MAITLAND vice Baird, vacated his seat 
10 Sept. 1803 MAITLAND re-elected after appointment to office 
14 Feb. 1805 JOHN DALRYMPLE vice Maitland, appointed to office 
17 Apr. 1806 HON. HENRY ERSKINE vice Dalrymple, vacated his seat 
24 Nov. 1806HON. WILLIAM LAMB 
 Henry Clinton2
16 July 1813 HON. ANTHONY MAITLAND vice Maitland, appointed to office 
11 July 1818DUDLEY NORTH 

Main Article

James Maitland, 8th Earl of Lauderdale, who entered into his inheritance in 1789, dominated Lauder and was strongly placed at Dunbar. He decided to replace William Fullarton*, the sitting Member returned on his family interest, with his brother Thomas Maitland. Fullarton refused to be diverted elsewhere and defended his seat, in which he was encouraged by Francis Charteris, Lord Elcho, a former Member, who controlled Haddington. Elcho, ambitious for place or peerage promotion, had ceased to act with opposition and, undeterred by Fullarton’s opposition politics, was inclined henceforward to act with Henry Dundas. In order to gain North Berwick, where Sir Hew Dalrymple had the chief interest, Lauderdale came to a secret agreement with Dalrymple whereby, if he backed Thomas Maitland in 1790, he would name the Member at the next election (his son and heir Hew wished to be in Parliament). Maitland was therefore sure of Lauder and North Berwick, and Fullarton of Haddington and of Jedburgh, despite an attempt by Sir Gilbert Elliot to secure the latter for Maitland. A severe struggle ensued for Dunbar. Maitland secured the delegate by the provost’s casting vote after blatant corruption on both sides and was returned. Fullarton, in a petition, exposed the corruption and the secret agreement between Lauderdale and Dalrymple and ‘brought to town by summons an astonishing number of people of fashion to prove bribery against Maitland’s agents, as the election was over before he came home’ reported James Grant*, ‘but the sitting Member and petitioner are both great patriots, so you may believe the good politicians look on very quietly and are not anxious about the event, though it may be taken into their consideration that Fullarton once voted with them and got a regiment, and that Maitland started into opposition’. On 23 Mar. 1791 the committee decided in Maitland’s favour and found Fullarton’s petition ‘vexatious’.1

In the Haddingtonshire by-election of 1795 Dalrymple’s son Hew was opposed by Robert Baird of Newbyth. The impasse was resolved by Henry Dundas, who induced Baird to give up the county and stand for the burghs, with Dalrymple’s support, at the next election. Lauderdale accepted Baird as Dalrymple’s nominee in accordance with their agreement, though Dalrymple believed he would have preferred to buy the seat for his brother. On 1 Nov. 1795 Dundas obtained Elcho’s interest as well, and although there was a ‘feeble’ opposition at Haddington, Baird was returned unopposed in 1796.2

Elcho remained Lauderdale’s competitor for control of the burghs. In 1800 he claimed that Haddington and Jedburgh were ‘secure’, but his hold on the latter was tenuous.3 Lauderdale, secure at Lauder and Dunbar, cemented his agreement with Dalrymple, who assured him of North Berwick in exchange for a future nomination. In February 1802 Baird resigned in favour of Lauderdale’s brother. Lord Minto, who was looking for an opening for his son Gilbert, thought ‘it would be a great misfortune to have any connection with [the burghs]; nothing could be done without an immense contest and expense’. When Lauderdale’s brother resigned early in 1805, Elcho proposed starting his son-in-law Col. Henry Clinton*, but was put off when Lauderdale’s heir Lord Maitland, in his father’s absence, sponsored Maj. John Dalrymple, Sir Hew’s brother. Sir Hew, uncertain as to how long his brother might expect to hold the seat, would have preferred to sell the seat to a friend of government. Lauderdale was clear that Sir Hew’s brother was entitled to the remainder of that Parliament and two sessions of the next ‘instead of those that are passed’. He could restore his brother at the next turn, having no member of his family available in the meantime. ‘By this means government will get an immediate supporter’, he reasoned, after refusing to take credit for returning a ministerialist himself: ‘I think I could answer that Lord Melville would at once see that in this proposal, the essential objects of all concerned are answered’.4

On the change of ministry in 1806, Sir Hew accommodated the Grenville administration by getting his brother to make way for the lord advocate, whose claims he preferred to those of Maj. Ramsay, brother of William Maule*. It was understood that if the lord advocate stood again at the general election he would be Lauderdale’s nominee, and Lauderdale engaged to return Lord Minto’s heir if Erskine found a seat elsewhere, but it was William Lamb whom Lauderdale sponsored. Lamb was described by William Adam as the ‘virtual representative’ of Lauderdale’s heir, who was ineligible for the seat. So confident of his strength was Lauderdale that he maintained that he could, if necessary, substitute Lord William Russell* for Lamb, once the delegates had been elected. Elcho gave up an intention of starting his son-in-law Edward Richard Stewart* while Francis Sitwell*, a Pittite who relied on Elcho’s support, withdrew. All that happened was that the provost of Haddington (in Elcho’s interest) protested to government at the attempts made in Lauderdale’s name to undermine that burgh.5

In 1807 Elcho had the support of the Portland ministry when he put up Col. Clinton, but he was unable to extend his interest beyond Haddington and Jedburgh. Sir Hew returned his brother’s brother-in-law, Sir George Warrender of Lochend, who paid £4,500 for the honour and for being considered ‘more desirable than anybody from the south’. Clinton found a seat elsewhere, but a petition on his behalf was considered, and in October 1807 Elcho gained control of Lauder.6 The reluctance of the ministry to transfer Lauder patronage from Lauderdale to Elcho caused irritation in Lord Melville’s circle. On 19 Jan. 1808 Robert Dundas* informed Melville:

If poor Elcho dies there will, in that event, be an end to any active exertion of interest in this district of boroughs. If otherways, he will carry or rather keep the seat ... This misapplication of the influence of administration must have sad effects in Lauder, but Mr Perceval, having the right to judge for himself, must take the consequences. It is jest to talk of hereafter opposing Lord Lauderdale in these boroughs on the interest of this administration.7

Elcho’s death, next day, ended any effective opposition to Lauderdale and Sir Hew.

Author: D. G. Henry


  • 1. SRO GD51/1/198/9/1; Gosford House mss, ‘List of the present magistrates of Dunbar’, 2 Oct.; Blair Adam mss, Lauderdale to Adam, 7 Jan. 1790; NLS mss 7, ff. 27, 41, 47; 11150, f. 79; PRO NI, Hart mss D3077/D1/18; CJ, xlvi. 18, 343.
  • 2. NLS mss 1, f. 79; 7, ff. 27, 31, 41, 43, 45, 47, 49, 51, 59; 1055, f. 109; SRO GD51/1/198/9/9, 11-14; H. Furber, Henry Dundas, 248-57; Edinburgh Advertiser, 14-17 June 1796.
  • 3. Gosford House mss, Elcho to Martin, 4 June 1800.
  • 4. NLS mss 1053, f. 114; 11058, f. 3; SRO GD51/1/198/3/38; PRO 30/8/121, ff. 172, 174.
  • 5. Gosford House mss, Elcho to ?Martin, 2 Mar., to Freeling, 2 Mar.; ‘Account, Had[dingto]n Politics, 1806’; Edinburgh Advertiser, 18-21 Mar., 11-15 Apr.; NLS mss 11061, f. 89; 11740, f. 119; Fortescue mss, Mackenzie to Grenville, 31 Oct.; Blair Adam mss, Lauderdale to Adam, 4, 6 Nov., Gibson to same, 26 Nov. 1806; SRO GD51/1/198/9/19; Grey mss, Adam to Howick, 7 Feb. 1807.
  • 6. NLS mss 1, f. 111; 1053, f. 159; Melville mss (Acc. 6409), Melville to Saunders Dundas, 1 May; Fortescue mss, Sir H. Dalrymple Hamilton to Ld ?, 2 May; Spencer mss, same to Spencer, 17 May 1807, Cassillis to same, 8 June 1810.
  • 7. SRO GD51/1/198/5/6; NLS mss 1054, ff. 1, 3.