COLQUHOUN, James (1774-1836), of Rhosdhu, Luss, Dunbarton.

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



7 Nov. 1799 - Jan. 1806

Family and Education

b. 28 Sept. 1774, 1st s. of Sir James Colquhoun, 2nd Bt., of Luss, clerk of session, by Mary, da. and coh. of James Falconer of Monktown, Edinburgh. m. 13 June 1799, Janet, da. of Sir John Sinclair, 1st Bt.*, by 1st w., 3s. 2da. suc. fa. 20, 22 or 23 Apr. 1805 as 3rd Bt.

Offices Held

Maj. Dunbarton vols. 1799, 1804, Luss vol. inf. 1803, Dunbarton militia 1808.


Colquhoun’s father was described in 1788 as having a very large estate in Dunbartonshire (of which he was sheriff); as being able to make ‘nearly seven votes’, which gave him a hold on the Duke of Montrose; and as being ambitious of a judge’s gown, which he never obtained. Colquhoun junior was returned unopposed for the county in 1799, on the death of the sitting member Smollett and with the ‘unsolicited’ encouragement of Montrose, so his father informed Henry Dundas in seeking his blessing for his son, who was by then son-in-law to Sir John Sinclair. As his father led Dundas to expect, he supported government, albeit silently.1

When, in January 1802, Lord John Campbell offered for the county, Colquhoun’s father was induced to declare that if his son’s candidature proved unacceptable at the next election, he would be well disposed to Lord John, though the latter already had a seat for Argyllshire. As Colquhoun had only four votes completely at his disposal, his position appeared to be weak, particularly when Montrose chose Henry Glassford as a candidate likely to give Lord John a keener fight. It transpired however that Glassford could not win the day without the support of the Colquhoun interest, which was engaged in second place to Lord John; so Montrose withdrew Glassford and resorted to a pact whereby Colquhoun was to divide the Parliament with Glassford. He was thus enabled to defeat Lord John.2

Colquhoun made no mark in his second Parliament either; he was listed a friend of Pitt’s second administration and voted with the minority against the censure of Melville, 8 Apr. 1805, but in January 1806 vacated his seat in accordance with the election pact. Afterwards he ‘wholly devoted his time to the pursuits of agriculture, and, residing principally on his estates, set an example to landlords well worthy of imitation’. It was thought that he might be the Duke of Argyll’s candidate for Dunbartonshire in the by-election of 1821, but nothing came of it. He died 3 Feb. 1836. His wife was the author of a number of religious works.3

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Pol. State of Scotland, 1788, p. 89; SRO GD51/1/198/8/4; 51/9/202.
  • 2. Argyll mss, Colquhoun to Campbell, 4 Jan. 1802; see DUNBARTONSHIRE.
  • 3. Gent. Mag. (1836), i. 433; Argyll mss, Ld. John to Robert Campbell, 30 Dec. 1820; DNB.