BAILLIE, George (1664-1738), of Jerviswood, Lanark. and Mellerstain, Berwicks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1707 - 1708

Family and Education

b. 16 Mar. 1664, 1st s. of Robert Baillie of Jerviswood by Rachel, da. of Sir Archibald Johnston of Warriston, Edinburgh, Ld. Warriston SCJ and in Cromwellian Parl., sis. of James Johnston*.  educ. Franeker 1682.  m. 17 Sept. 1691, Grisell (d. 1746), da. of Sir Patrick Hume, 1st Earl of Marchmont [S], 1s. 2da.  suc. fa. 1684, to estates 28 June 1690.1

Offices Held

MP [S] Berwickshire 1691–1701, Lanarkshire 1702–7.

Burgess, Edinburgh 1692, Canongate 1693, Dumbarton 1697.2

Receiver gen. [S] 1693–1701; treasurer depute [S] 1704–5; PC [S] 1704, 1707; commr. treasury [S] 1704–7, exchequer [S] 1707, Equivalent [S] 1707–9; ld. of Trade 1710–12, of Admiralty 1714–17, of Treasury 1717–25.

Dir. Co. of Scotland 1696, Bank of Scotland 1699; extraord. dir. R. Bank of Scotland 1727–30.3


The Baillies became landed proprietors in the 17th century, when Baillie’s grandfather, a prosperous Edinburgh merchant, purchased the estate of Jerviswood in 1631 and that of Mellerstain 12 years later. In 1684, however, both were forfeited, as a consequence of the execution of Baillie’s father on a charge of high treason. A Presbyterian opponent of the Restoration regime in Scotland, Robert Baillie had been arrested in 1683 under suspicion of involvement in the Rye House Plot. Before departing for the safety of Holland, Baillie visited the family estates, where ‘his tenants out of great love to him, and to the memory of his father, most generously paid him up all the rents that were resting in their hands, and also advanced him half a year’s rent, though they had then another master, the Duke of Gordon, to whom the estate was given’. The traumatic events surrounding his father’s execution had a profound effect on Baillie’s character, giving a ‘grave, silent, thoughtful turn to his temper which before that time was not natural to him’. He was not embittered by his misfortunes, for having been, as he expressed it, ‘bred in the school of affliction’ he was convinced of ‘both the reasonableness and necessity of showing mercy to others in the like circumstances’. Such sentiments stemmed from religious conviction, which was central to Baillie’s character. Without unnecessary ostentation, he maintained a rigorous spiritual discipline, even during the hustle of political life. His personal integrity was acknowledged by opponents: the Jacobite George Lockhart* described him as ‘morose, proud, and severe, but of a profound solid judgment’.4

Baillie resided in Holland from 1684 until the Revolution, when he returned with William of Orange’s army and was thereafter restored to his inheritance. During his exile, Baillie had become closely involved with the family of Sir Patrick Hume of Polwarth, one of his father’s associates, who had himself only narrowly escaped capture. Baillie became the boon companion of Hume’s eldest son and fell in love with his daughter, Grisell. At the Revolution, she rejected an offer from the Princess of Orange to become a maid of honour, preferring to return to Scotland to be near Baillie. Her father initially entertained some doubts about the match, but soon altered his opinion and thoroughly endorsed the marriage. It proved a happy union, distinguished by deep affection and mutual confidence. During Baillie’s absences in England, she fulfilled a vital role as conduit of sensitive information to his political associates in Scotland.5

Baillie’s parliamentary career began in 1691, when he was returned for Berwickshire, in place of his father-in-law, who had recently been created Lord Polwarth. He did not commence attendance, however, until 1693, at which time he was also appointed receiver-general and nominated to the commission for building kirks. Thereafter he attended regularly and acted with his father-in-law, who was appointed lord chancellor in 1696 and raised to the earldom of Marchmont in 1697. The following year, however, marked a temporary split between them, with Marchmont deciding to remain in office under Queensberry, despite the removal of Tullibardine. Although Baillie was absent during the parliamentary session of 1698, upon his return he demonstrated that he was not prepared to support the Court simply because Marchmont remained in office. Baillie endorsed the Country party’s attack over the mismanagement of the Darien affair, and as a director of the Company of Scotland, with a personal investment of £1,000, had ample grounds for dissatisfaction. During the sessions of 1700 and 1701, he voted consistently against the Court, and was consequently dismissed from office. From 1702 he was re-united with Marchmont, who was himself removed from the chancellorship shortly after the accession of Queen Anne. In the Scottish election of 1702 Baillie was returned, on a Country platform, for both Berwickshire and Lanarkshire, opting to sit for the latter.6

Baillie remained in the Country party until the split of 1704, in which he played a leading role. Following secret negotiations, a new system for managing Scotland was devised under the aegis of Lord Chancellor Seafield, involving co-operation between sections of the Court and Country parties. This system rapidly proved unworkable, and Baillie held office as treasurer-depute for only a few months. Out of this failed political experiment, however, the Squadrone emerged as an enduring connexion and Baillie became one of its leading lights. He helped mastermind Squadrone tactics over the Union, which involved a double game of supporting the wishes of the English Court by voting in favour of the Union itself, while continuing to oppose on selected subsidiary questions. These tactics were directed towards the twin objectives of securing the Hanoverian succession via the Union, while continuing to aim at the future reduction of Queensberry’s domination of Scottish patronage. One of the questions upon which the Squadrone had opposed the Court was the disposal of the Equivalent, and Baillie was appointed to the Scottish committee overseeing its calculation. He was therefore a natural choice for the commission monitoring the disposal of the money, an appointment which must also be regarded as a placatory gesture from the Court towards Marchmont. Baillie proved an inactive member, however, declining from the outset to become involved, and was quietly dropped when the commission was later reduced in size.7

The prominent role which Baillie had played in the Union debates ensured his selection among the Squadrone representatives to the first Parliament of Great Britain, but at one stage it appeared that ill-health would prevent his attendance. Indeed, it is probable that his participation in Scottish parliamentary affairs had also been disrupted by illness, for he was absent for no obvious political reason from more than half a dozen divisions. At the end of August 1707 his wife reported that he had ‘recovered from a dangerous illness’, but was ‘now so deaf that he cannot converse with anybody’ and, in mid-September, noted that ‘his deafness increases daily’ and that it was ‘long since he laid aside thoughts of going to London’. The cause of this complaint has not been ascertained, but the condition was chronic, sometimes so severe as to incapacitate him completely. Yet, the personal accounts of debates which Baillie regularly transmitted from London to Scotland demonstrate that he enjoyed periods of good hearing and, even when suffering an attack, could usually find ways of circumventing his disability. Deafness did not seem to impair his confidence as a debater, and may, paradoxically, have been a contributory factor in his ‘grave and weighty manner of speaking’. He had recovered sufficiently to take his seat for the beginning of the session and on 4 Dec. was appointed to the drafting committee for a bill to repeal the Scottish act of security. He was a frequent contributor to debate, and often assumed a leading role on Scottish affairs. On 29 Nov. 1707 he had opened the Squadrone attack upon the Scottish privy council, arguing that ‘now since we are one people, our administration of government should be one’. He also pointed out that the council merited abolition on libertarian grounds. According to the contemporary historian Cunningham, Baillie ‘eloquently and briefly exposed the immoderate power of the privy council in former times, the vigorous exercise of their authority, and what dreadful examples they had exhibited of all sorts of cruelties’. This line of argument was lent additional force by the well-known history of his father’s execution. In the debate of 11 Dec., upon the report of the committee of the whole, Baillie once more spoke first in the debate and was first-named to the drafting committee for a bill to complete the Union. The Squadrone’s enthusiasm for abolishing the council stemmed from the fact that it was an instrument of Queensberryite rule, both for its executive powers and electoral influence. With regard to the latter, Baillie played an important role in successfully countering a rearguard action by the Court to preserve the council until after the next election. He also supported the Squadrone attempt to unify the powers of j.p.s throughout Britain, though this was inevitably regarded as an attack upon the heritable jurisdictions which were protected by the 14th article of the Union. Baillie believed that Parliament had the power to ‘explain the articles’, but the Squadrone’s controversial move alienated some former supporters of the bill for completing the Union. There was therefore some justice in the assessment of James Vernon I* that Baillie was ‘a zealous promoter of reducing all to conformity with England, supposing everything practicable, and perhaps not enough considering how consistent his schemes may be with rights and privileges, reserved and made sacred by the articles of Union’. The interpretation of the articles of Union became a recurrent theme in Anglo-Scottish politics, and with some justification Baillie later came to the opinion that Parliament was ‘sometimes for acting as if the two kingdoms were united and sometimes as if they were not so’. Nevertheless, his faith in the importance of the Union, particularly as a bulwark against Jacobitism, remained unshaken.8

During the invasion scare of 1708, Baillie supported measures to counter the Jacobite threat, but was unhappy about the means which were adopted, particularly the pre-emptive arrest of the Duke of Hamilton, the nominal head of the Scottish cavaliers. Following the duke’s transportation to London, Baillie supported the combined Junto–Squadrone efforts to secure his release in return for an electoral pact. Although undoubtedly aware that many of Hamilton’s followers were Jacobites, Baillie thought political co-operation was defensible, despite the fact that the association appeared to some as a ‘Devil’s compact’. There was a respectable precedent in their joint endeavours in the Scottish Country party before the Union, and both Hamilton and Baillie shared an abiding antipathy to Queensberry and the old Court party. Moreover, in both the Commons and peerage elections, Hamilton’s influence would be of great use, particularly in the latter, where Squadrone peers were at risk of being entirely excluded. During the 1708 election, Baillie himself derived only marginal benefits from the pact. His election for Berwickshire was no doubt facilitated by Hamilton’s support, but Marchmont’s position as hereditary sheriff together with Baillie’s own standing with the electors were much more significant. The implications of the alliance with the Junto were difficult to assess in the early stages, but the Squadrone clearly expected that their own pretensions to office would be supported by the Whig leaders. So, for example, Baillie’s diplomatic skills were employed to encourage the recently dismissed William Bennet* to have faith that the Junto would soon be sufficiently powerful to demand his reinstatement. Moreover, Baillie was to ensure that the propaganda value of Bennet’s case was exploited and, if possible, to return early to London to concert tactics for the coming session, for ‘[the Whig Lords] beg that you may be here a month or six weeks before the Parliament sits down’. Meanwhile, a tasteless rumour circulated in London in mid-July that Baillie might succeed to the office of lord register, ‘in consideration that the last hanged his father’.9

Upon returning to London, in November 1708, Baillie was confident that ‘things are like to turn in favour of the Whigs’, but remained uncertain as to ‘what influence this will have on Scots affairs’. On 11 Dec. he attended a Junto–Squadrone dinner to discuss parliamentary tactics. According to Rothes’ report, Baillie and John Cockburn* (the only Scots Members present) were subjected to something of an inquisition by the Junto, from which they emerged with credit, having demonstrated ‘a great deal of heartiness to go thoroughly to work’. On 20 Dec. Baillie was added to the drafting committee for a bill to prevent the embezzlement of shipwrecked goods and on the 23rd was nominated to that for a bill to improve recruitment, the latter being a topic upon which the Junto had laid particular stress at the recent meeting. Although Baillie agreed with the Whigs on major issues of principle, such as the succession, there were limits to his willingness to engage in party politics, particularly with regard to election cases, where he felt torn between the necessity of supporting the Whig cause and his pious expectation that cases would be heard essentially on their merits. On 16 and 18 Dec. he abstained over the Westminster election, in preference to joining almost all of the Scots, who were determined to victimize the sitting Member, a Court Whig, for some disparaging remarks about Scotland. Baillie was not satisfied with the practicalities of co-operating with the Whigs, and disliked the Junto’s unwillingness to co-operate on an open and equal footing. He complained to his wife in mid-December that the Squadrone’s expectations regarding petitions in the Scottish peerage elections were unlikely to be fulfilled:

[The Court] being resolved to stand by [Scots ministry] . . . I know not if [Whig Lords] have either courage or strength to oppose it . . . [Whig Lords] . . . have not treated [New Party] as might have been expected, after the advances that were made last summer, and all that has passed has had nothing of that frankness as is usual among men upon the same bottom. In short [New Party] is altogether ignorant of what is intended to be done. Whether this proceeds from want of power or from other causes, time must determine . . . Both on [Whig Lords’] part and [Squadrone] there is nothing but complaints of one another, the consequences whereof I dread . . . It is [Baillie’s] chief business to keep them [together] . . . T’other day [Baillie] had a free communing with [Somers (Sir John*)] and which, though he thought necessary at this juncture, he could not discern how it took, nor does he [know] what effect it will have . . . Never were men so starved as [Squadrone] is at present, for [Church party] supposing him [sic] to be with [Whig Lords], scarcely pay them civilities; [Court Whigs] treat him after the same manner, and yet [Whig Lords] have no confidence in him and hardly take notice of him. I’m afraid at bottom there is too great a contempt for [Scotland] and that those are best liked who will troll without asking questions. In all the complaints on [Whig Lords’] side, I hear [Baillie] bears a large share of the blame . . . If [Whig Lords] throw off [New Party] you may expect me home in a short time and I doubt not but the rest will take the same course, for if I understand anything they will never come to [union] with [Tories] in opposition to [Whigs], which makes [New Party] case the more hard.

Given the results of the election petitions in the Lords, which produced only token victories in the disqualification of Queensberry’s vote (as a British peer) and the seating of the politically unreliable Marquess of Annandale, Baillie’s pessimistic forecast appeared accurate. Squadrone hopes were briefly revived by the Junto’s efforts to obtain high office for the Duke of Montrose, but Baillie had recognized the inherent dangers in the Junto’s strategy, as he later reported to Marchmont: ‘they had proposed a third Secretary in order to get Scots business into the Cabinet’ and ‘were so fond of the thing as not to consider in time what might be the consequences of having a wrong person named’. Baillie’s fears that Queensberry would become the unintended beneficiary of the Junto’s efforts were justified, and Montrose was offered the lesser office of keeper of the Scottish privy seal. The Squadrone had been outmanoeuvred by the Court and kept in the dark by the Junto, with the result that Montrose and Roxburghe (who was to be made a Privy Councillor) were liable to cause offence whether they accepted or declined. Baillie was disgusted that instead of lending their support to a polite refusal by the Squadrone peers, the Junto unexpectedly swung their weight behind acceptance. Baffled at this sudden reversal, he was convinced that refusal would earn the Squadrone the label at Court of ‘impracticable men’, whereas acceptance would mortally offend the Duke of Hamilton, who had not even been treated with ‘common civility’ by the Junto, despite having ‘acted most fairly and honestly’. To lose the connexion with Hamilton (‘without whom we can signify nothing’) would be disastrous not just for the Squadrone, but for the state of parties in general, ‘for if we leave the Duke, he will certainly go over to some other side, and if the Treasurer [Sidney Godolphin†] take him up, prove useful to him even against the Whigs’. In the event, Roxburghe and Montrose accepted office. Baillie’s mistrust of the Junto had only been confirmed by the circumstances of these appointments, and he came to realize that his own plain-speaking with Somers had been counter-productive. He was reliably informed in January 1709 that Somers deemed him ‘an haughty man’, who ‘would not be satisfied with being eminent in the House of Commons’, but aimed ‘to be head of a party’. Baillie himself recalled that Somers had been

uneasy while I talked to him, though I did it with all the softness and discretion I was capable of, ’tis true it was with plainness, which was absolutely necessary, but that they cannot bear and I have reason to believe he did not take it well, for from that time to this I could never meet with him, though I have called often, and I’m not like to be a favourite with any set here, only because I cannot bring myself to go along with everything proposed, particularly in the [Commons] elections, in which there is the greatest injustice done I ever saw; and if a man differs in any one thing, all he does goes for nought, to such a height is party business come. Where it will end God knows.

Baillie’s scruples caused some friction with the other Squadrone leaders, and he confided to his wife that because he resisted ‘going all lengths’ in election cases, Roxburghe and Montrose had begun ‘to take umbrage at my way, and to think it does them hurt’. Baillie had therefore threatened to retire to Scotland, but had compromised by feigning illness. ‘I have kept to my chamber a week’, he reported on 24 Jan. 1709, ‘because I could not possibly go along with some things [that] were a-doing in the House of Commons and the opposing of which might have done them [the Junto] hurt. I was forced to pretend sickness, though I was ill only one day.’ His absence coincided with Whig triumphs over the Bramber and Abingdon election cases. Baillie was unsure how long he would be able to tolerate the partisan atmosphere at Westminster, and asserted that ‘if things do not change beyond expectation, this is like to be my last essay in public business for knavery is predominant here’.10

Baillie returned to attendance on 25 Jan. 1709 and three days later took an active part in the committee of the whole on improving the Union, and was appointed on the 29th to draft a bill to standardize treason law throughout Britain. This initiative had been prompted by the failure to convict a group of Stirlingshire lairds, who had been arrested for their suspicious conduct at the time of the attempted Jacobite invasion. Despite the provisions in the Union treaty which safeguarded the Scottish legal system, the ministry decided that it was necessary to strengthen the legal process in Scotland. Baillie’s appointment to the drafting committee on this bill did not, however, signify wholehearted approval of this policy. Although evidence is scant, it appears that opposition from Scottish Members killed off the bill in committee. The ministry subsequently decided to reintroduce a similar bill in the Lords. Baillie played a key role in attempts to amend this second treason bill. One modern historian has inferred from the Squadrone’s own abortive schemes for radical reform of the courts of session and judiciary, together with their earlier campaign against the Scottish privy council, that a treason bill was ‘theoretically in accord’ with their principles. In this interpretation the Squadrone are charged with adopting a more or less cynical strategy, designed to prevent a backlash in Scotland, where the bill would inevitably prove unpopular. Baillie’s own explanation of his conduct does not accord with this analysis. While his enthusiasm for improving the Union remained unabated, he believed that if it could be demonstrated that Scottish procedure was superior to that of England, then the former should prevail. Although he misjudged the case, he was sincere in believing that as a consequence of the Scots’ campaign against the bill, the ministry would ‘wish they had not meddled with us, for a spirit is raised that will not be easily laid, and I’m convinced the Commons are so much possessed with the advantages of our form of procedure that sometime or other they will appropriate the same to themselves’. He hoped to preserve the mandatory provision in Scotland that the accused be given advance notice of the names of hostile witnesses. Not only would the unification of treason laws, in Baillie’s view, ‘break in upon our civil rights’, but it also threatened to undermine ‘the whole rights of property of Scotland’ by amending the penalties of forfeiture. Baillie monitored the progress of the bill through both Houses, and at one stage tried to create procedural delays ‘in order to have had the bill cast off for this session’. One consequence of this activity was an unwelcome postponement of his departure for Scotland. He had been appointed on 21 Feb. to a drafting committee for a bill to regulate export-allowances on Scottish fish; yet on the following day began arranging details of his journey home ‘some time next month’. On 10 Mar. he voted against the government on a motion criticizing the measures taken during the late invasion scare, explaining to his wife that ‘I could not have done otherwise, for by the papers which were laid before the House it appeared to me as clear as sunshine that due care had not been taken of Scotland’. Unfortunately, ‘all our friends were on that side of the question I was against, or did leave the House without telling us, so that ten of us were left to join the Tories’. On 11 Mar. the new treason bill was presented to the Lords, and by the 22nd Baillie reluctantly conceded that ‘the treason bill has broke my measures, for I cannot leave this [place] till . . . I see what fate it has . . . This vexes me exceedingly.’ On 9 Apr. he feared that ‘the matter may be drawn out in length by conferences’ because the Commons had successfully carried amendments confining forfeitures to the life of the person attainted and for a ten-day notification period for prosecution witnesses. On 19 Apr., and much to Baillie’s disappointment, the bill finally passed the Lords with these clauses nullified by a wrecking amendment postponing their implementation.11

Baillie’s jaundiced view of the current state of politics was confirmed by a conversation with Hon. Sir David Dalrymple, 1st Bt.*, during May in which no hint was given that the Squadrone would be consulted about appointments to vacant legal places. Reporting to Marchmont that the pretensions of the Earl’s son, Hon. Sir Andrew Hume*, to a place in the court of session were unlikely even to be considered, he concluded that ‘those called the Scottish ministry did in Scots business what they pleased’. Nevertheless, the leading role which Baillie had taken in parliamentary proceedings had made a considerable impression. He was viewed as a valuable recruit, for Lord Coningsby (Thomas*) informed the Lord Treasurer, on 18 June, that of the Squadrone Members ‘Baillie is the best speaker’. The Junto also sought a better understanding with Baillie, informing him on Godolphin’s authority, that if he would ‘freely and heartily enter into measures . . . care should be taken to show that greater equality was meant for the future by doing something to distinguish him’. In some alarm, Roxburghe reported to Montrose, on 30 July, that ‘Mr Baillie I find strikes at the words marked’. Montrose therefore attempted to persuade Baillie not to rebuff the offer, writing immediately with his opinion that the offending phrase could ‘import no more to an honest man that to enter into honest measures with one’s friends . . . if bad measures are proposed no honest man is bound . . . to go into them’. Montrose conceded that it was not ‘good to bring in oneself for an example, but if it is to be pardoned in any case at all it may be in this’. Nothing came immediately of this initiative, but Baillie clearly did not offend the ministry by an outright refusal, for at the beginning of the second session he reported that ‘when I came here I found the Court and Junto more favourably disposed to the Squadrone than last year, the former with a desire to have in Seafield, the latter from a desire to be rid of Queensberry’. As a result of negotiations that were kept a closely guarded secret, an arrangement was devised whereby the Squadrone would secure the inferior posts in Scotland, while Seafield would replace Queensberry as secretary of state and Hamilton would be ‘pleased either by a place of name and show, or by calling him to the House [of Lords] and putting him in the [Privy] Council’. Neither Seafield nor Hamilton was involved in these initial negotiations, but Baillie insisted that the Junto accept ‘the whole package and not just some parts of it’. In the meantime, the Whig Lords were to ‘cajole’ Hamilton to prevent him from allying with Queensberry ‘for there is a tampering there and he is not so frank with us as formerly’. The Squadrone for their part accepted the Junto’s assessment that no major changes could be accomplished safely until after the session. Since the principal objective was to undermine Queensberry’s influence at the next election, there was no need to act immediately. Although the 1710 election took place under very different circumstances, Baillie’s later conduct towards Hamilton should be understood in the light of his objectives in 1709. There is continuity in his attitude to Hamilton from the original pact of 1708 to the election of 1710. Likewise, Baillie’s support of Hamilton’s elevation to the British peerage in 1711 is more readily understandable, in view of the Squadrone’s original suggestion of securing this dignity for him more than two years previously.12

Baillie was nominated, on 18 Jan. 1710, to draft a bill to discharge Scottish freeholders from attendance on lords justices, and was first-named, on 13 Feb., to the second reading committee on the same bill. On 20 Jan. he had been ‘almost brought to the bar’ during the committee of elections, for derogatory remarks about the manner in which the Roxburghshire election was determined. He voted against the place bill on 4 Feb., reporting that ‘all our countrymen were against it, and I and others that were for it till now were obliged to be on that side because the House refused to receive an order excepting places . . . which were desired to be allowed to sit in the House on the part of Scotland’. Only seven Scottish offices were enumerated, which Baillie thought ‘equal to the number of 50 allowed on the part of England’, but, owing to a combination of procedural objections and blatant English prejudice, this request was refused. Baillie felt let down by the managers of the bill, who ‘had advised us it would be regular enough’ to make belated changes to the bill. He did not keep his resentment hidden, for ‘when things went as they did, I told this in the House, and that we were little obliged to them who had pretended to be our friends’. Baillie voted for the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell and assiduously attended the trial as a spectator, even to the detriment of his health. He was perplexed by the rumours of ministerial changes which abounded in the wake of the trial, but recognized that the Junto would now be unable to deliver their earlier promises regarding wide-scale changes. Nevertheless, Baillie was a beneficiary of a vacancy in the Board of Trade created by the death of Lord Herbert of Chirbury (Henry*) in January. The appointment did not take place till after the end of the session, but Baillie kissed hands for this office in late April and was formally added to the Board on 12 May. That he accepted office is unsurprising, since this prestigious post carried with it a salary of £1,000 p.a. Meanwhile he continued to promote the Squadrone’s plan for co-operating with Hamilton at the next election. According to a third-hand report, Baillie approached Hamilton and ‘assured him that he was more his than anybody’s, with abundance of more compliments and desired his friendship and protection’. Hamilton agreed to support Baillie’s re-election for Berwickshire, and it should be inferred that Baillie also sought some level of co-operation in the peerage elections. The agreement between Hamilton and Baillie over the county election gave rise to a complicated series of manoeuvres at court in September 1710, which stemmed directly from the Earl of Mar’s attempts to prevent Baillie’s re-election. Although a vigorous challenge was mounted, Baillie was once more returned. Mar was therefore unable to carry out his scheme for removing Baillie from office in favour of one of his own followers, Lord Northesk. In the peerage elections, Mar was more successful, and Baillie’s hopes of assistance from Hamilton were dashed. Rather than face a humiliating poll, the Squadrone boycotted the election. The fact that no Squadrone peers were returned to the 1710 Parliament meant that Baillie’s importance, particularly as a channel of information, increased. In the electoral analysis of the Duchess of Buccleuch’s chaplain Richard Dongworth, Baillie was reckoned a Court Tory, thereby classifying him as one who was ‘episcopal or Presbyterian upon occasion, who depend on or are moved by the Court ministers’. Baillie’s status as an office-holder, and perhaps his recent electoral agreement with Hamilton, provide the only known grounds upon which such an assessment could have been made. It proved wide of the mark. On all ecclesiastical questions Baillie voted a strict Presbyterian line.13

In mid-December 1710 Baillie gave the following account of his daily routine in the new Parliament:

I like . . . meddling with nothing but which is my proper business and do see very few company which I’m pleased with at present . . . I get up about eight, make a visit or two at most, not having time for more. Go to the Board [of Trade] at ten, from that to the House before one, after it rises home to dinner and never go abroad again unless it be to the committee of elections, and that but seldom. To bed about eleven and so round, if I’m not invited to dinner as I was most part last week.

One reason for his restricted social life was his peculiar status in the ministry of Robert Harley*. ‘I have seen [Somers] and [Godolphin]’, he informed his wife, ‘who were exceeding kind, but have not been able to get discourse of [Harley], though I have attempted it.’ He also reported that the Whigs in the Commons seemed ‘to be jealous of me, and [Tories] there do not take notice of me, and few or none of my former friends have called to see me’. He was consequently unsure of what might happen in the near future. Although aware that ‘some late attempts have been made against me’, he had not sought a personal interview with the Queen ‘upon pretence of my deafness, for it is so nice a point that the thought of it frightens me’. Even if he were to pay his respects at court, he remained convinced that ‘this will not do without a hearty concurrence with the measures of [English ministry]’. He was naturally concerned about any attack upon Godolphin and the late ministry, but was ‘resolved to do whatever I think right’. Baillie correctly perceived that it was Harley’s intention to maintain a ‘moderate party’ and ‘to have [Tories] rest satisfied with promises till the session is over that he may keep the Whigs in heart in order to balance the other’. On 21 Dec. Baillie voted in the minority against the committal of the place bill, ‘being resolved to be against the bill, unless stronger reasons be given for it than any I have yet heard’. He therefore deemed it proper to oppose the bill at this early stage, and was convinced ‘that many that were for it will be against the bill at long run’. On 18 Jan. 1711, in a letter to Montrose, he owned himself ‘entirely ignorant, no body thinking it worth their while to speak to him, which makes him both easy and honest’.14

The record of Baillie’s parliamentary activity in the Journals largely reflects his duties and interests as a lord of Trade. On 6 Mar. he presented papers to the House, relating to African trade; on 14 Mar. he was appointed to draft a bill to encourage naval stores; and on 8 May was nominated to a conference committee on a Lords’ amendment to a bill preserving pine trees in America. He also paid particular attention to fiscal measures which would adversely affect Scottish interests. On 3 Mar. he had reported that, owing to his own intervention, the leather tax had been ‘rectified on the particulars of most consequence to us . . . it is now put upon the weight and might have been rectified as to all if it had not been for the too great zeal of our people’. He regretted that some of the Scots Members had interfered with parts of the bill which had no bearing on Scotland, with the result that ‘this made the House so impatient that they would not bear with reasoning’. Baillie himself had adopted a more subtle approach: ‘before the report was made I had spoke to some of those who had the direction of that matter, which had a good effect’. His arguments therefore received a favourable hearing. Baillie asserted that, since foreign leather was to be taxed by weight, home-produced leather would in some cases be liable to a higher duty: ‘the consequence of which would be a great discouragement to if not the utter ruin of the leather manufacture of Britain’. His efforts proved in vain, however, for the leather duty was rejected, on 26 Mar., with a projected loss of revenue of £120,000. This money ‘with some other taxes already voted but not appropriated’, Baillie thought, ‘would have gone near to have raised the money yet wanting for this year’s service’. According to the rules of procedure, the same tax could not be reintroduced in the same session. Therefore the wording was altered to a duty on ‘all skins and hides’. Baillie realized that such a tax, though similar to the previous proposal, would be ‘heavy upon our country, if the quota of the duty is made high’ and consequently expected to be ‘blamed for going into it’. He nevertheless supported the tax, being determined to ‘prefer the public interest to the private concern of any corner of the country’. Since most of the funds were already engaged, and the alternative tax proposals were ‘new and uncertain’, this tax was necessary, and any failure of supply was equivalent to ‘yielding the cudgel to our enemies’. On 29 Mar. he admitted privately that ‘I begin to repent at most of the part I acted in it; for the House this day laid the tax so high . . . that it will be to us an unsupportable burden’. No regard was paid to ‘the difference between the largeness of their skins and ours by which we shall be liable in payment of double yea triple to what they are liable’. Baillie therefore spoke in favour of apportioning the tax ‘upon all sorts of skins and hides by the value and weight, as it is done in some cases’, but felt that this line of argument was ‘not much noticed, which made me speak only once’.15

Baillie also resented the poor treatment which the Scottish linen industry received at the hands of Parliament. During late January 1711 he had spoken in the committee of ways and means against the export duty on British linen:

urging that besides the bad effects in general of imposing burdens on the native produce and manufacture of any country, this tax in a particular manner affected Scotland; for though little or no linen cloth was manufactured in and exported from England; and it was a wise and constant maxim never to impose any duty on English woollen cloth, it was equally just and to be expected that the Scots linen cloth, now that the two kingdoms were united, would meet with the same encouragement.

As a result of pressure from Scots Members, a clause was added to the supply bill, explaining the linen duty. This did not exempt Scottish linen, but rather imposed the full duty of 6d. only on linen of 40 ells, and allowed for the shorter lengths (which were common in Scotland) to pay a reduced duty pro rata. The Scottish linen industry was therefore already a controversial topic, prior to the introduction, on 7 Apr., of a bill for its further regulation. This measure had been designed to encourage Scotland’s only real alternative to the woollen industry, which had been adversely affected by the Union. Among its provisions was a clause confirming the Scottish parliament’s legislation, banning the export of flax and linen yarn to Ireland. Baillie had been unsure whether in the current climate it was wise to introduce such a bill, but defended it once it came before the Commons. He countered English arguments that it was unnecessary to reiterate the prohibition on exports to Ireland, by stating that it was standard parliamentary practice ‘to revive and confirm old standing laws’. Nevertheless, when the bill returned from the Lords on 2 June, not only had the clause relating to exports been removed, but additional benefits had been accorded to the Irish linen industry. ‘If these amendments are agreed to’, he lamented,

then all the advantage we had proposed by the Union to the linen trade of Scotland will be lost, for Ireland must carry it from us. We pay a duty upon exported linen, they pay none; besides they can work cheaper and, if they are allowed to buy up our flax and yarn, we shall have nothing to make linen of.

Baillie therefore directed his energies towards delaying tactics and was relieved that the lateness of the session prevented the passage of the bill. Perhaps the most worrying development was that the Junto had played a leading role in securing the detrimental amendments in the Lords. Baillie thought that ‘if it had been for nothing else but their account, Scotland ought to have been treated by them more favourably. What the meaning of this can be I’m not able to guess unless it be that [Whig Lords] are weary of the Union’.16

Another alarming episode for Baillie and other Scottish supporters of the Union occurred towards the end of the session. On 9 May 1711 William Lowndes introduced a clause to the lottery bill, which proposed an alteration in the priority accorded to the payment of official salaries in Scotland over that of drawbacks and premiums on trade. Since Scotland had no right to English revenue for paying either drawbacks or premiums, the introduction of this clause (without prior notice in a thin House) was viewed suspiciously by the Scots Members. Although Baillie had not been present when the clause was first read, he played a prominent role in the subsequent Scottish attack upon it, arguing that as a consequence of the Union, ‘the civil list of Scotland as well as that of England became part of the civil list of Great Britain, and that both should be upon the same footing’. He further observed that ‘this clause tended to make a distinction, which on other occasions, where taxes were to be raised, was carefully avoided’. To enact such a clause ‘was as much to say that if there should happen to be no produce of the customs of Scotland, or at least not sufficient for the ends, that country was to be deserted and no courts nor government maintained in it, or no drawbacks nor premiums to be paid’. Baillie’s arguments gradually gained some support from English Members, who came to view the clause as a bad precedent, since drawbacks were a means whereby merchants received back their own property. If drawbacks were not paid, then Scottish merchants had no other recourse, whereas unpaid salaries would necessarily become debts on the civil list. As a result, the clause was withdrawn on 1 June. Even so, Baillie did not escape criticism for his conduct. Baillie defended his own actions on the grounds that the objectionable clause had been imperfectly explained. Moreover, the crown had the legal right to dispose of any surplus Scottish revenue in England, therefore ‘it was but reasonable that what was deficient for defraying the public expense of Scotland should be supplied from the funds of England’. His justification ended with a plea for future assistance: ‘if I was in the wrong’, he told his wife, ‘you may tell my friend the advocate [Dalrymple], he is to be charged with it for not being here, and I cannot tell how great a penance I would undergo, rather than to have another winter without him’. The session had been a mortifying experience, with successive events making it difficult for Baillie to maintain credibility. On 2 June he explained in a letter home that his recent correspondence had only related some of the reverses and insults which Scotland had suffered, adding that ‘you can guess how much this must [fash Baillie], considering how much he was [for Union] and how well he has [stood] by [Whigs]. This may make him lose flesh.’17

Further changes took place over the summer which had a profound impact on Anglo-Scottish relations. At the tail end of the session Hamilton was created a British peer, but the trial of his right to sit in the Lords was deferred until after the prorogation. Baillie viewed this tactic by the Court with considerable suspicion and would have preferred Hamilton’s right to have been tested immediately. The death of Queensberry in July 1711 also created uncertainty over whether Harley (now Lord Oxford) would renew the third secretaryship of state. It soon became clear that Hamilton’s pretensions to succeed Queensberry would not be taken seriously. Baillie maintained a sympathetic but ambivalent attitude towards Hamilton. He was delighted at the original offer of the British dukedom, describing Hamilton as one of his closest friends, but nevertheless regarded his elevation as an unfortunate test case. Baillie confided privately to Montrose that Hamilton was ‘certainly the most unfit person to have made the trial upon and therefore I could never think the Court in earnest’. He correctly perceived that the whole episode rapidly became a struggle between finely balanced political forces in the Lords, rather than an impartial determination of the principles involved. The aspect which most upset Baillie was the hostility of the Junto. As early as June, he was aware that the Junto was preparing to oppose Hamilton ‘let the consequence be what it will, yea though it should break the Union’. Such an intention was, in Baillie’s view, ‘so inconsistent with last year’s professions, that I shall think . . . [Squadrone] to be [disengaged] and at [liberty] to [act] as prudence directs’. The Hamilton case therefore presented Baillie, once more, with a political dilemma. On most questions his sympathies lay with the Whigs, but he could not reconcile himself to their short-term political agenda. The Junto wished to prevent the ministry from raising Scottish representative peers to the British peerage and filling vacancies with its own nominees. Baillie not only suffered hostility from the Junto, but was also subject to a concerted campaign from Oxford’s Scottish managers, Mar and Dupplin, who devised an attack upon the Squadrone, framed in ostensibly friendly terms. Without any consultation with Baillie, his son-in-law Alexander Murray* was included in the commission of chamberlainry and trade for Scotland. This was politically damaging because the commission was perceived by many as a means of ministerial bribery. Baillie reported to Montrose on 4 Dec. that

the new commission of trade has lost us credit here, to that degree that I could not have thought it possible in so short a time, for people do not stick to say openly that the peers could not or would not come up till bribed, that those who have not got places are to have money and that the Parliament was prorogued till they should arrive.

Murray’s appointment was therefore not respectable and, moreover, made Baillie’s own status on the Board of Trade subject to criticism.

Your friend has his share of contempt upon Mr Murray’s being named in the commission, though I knew nothing of it. Yea, I believe it has been done with design to lessen my credit with my friends and to separate Murray from me, if not to make way to turn me out, for now there will be no need of a Scotsman upon the council of trade here; but that I value little in comparison of the way my friends have treated me.

An attack by Oxford’s Scottish managers upon Montrose was equally well conceived, comprising an offer of an unsuitable diplomatic post, which was accompanied by disingenuous and contradictory rumours. To the Junto he was represented as a potential defector to the Court, whereas to the Tories his predictable refusal was used to revive the canard that the Squadrone were ‘impracticable’ men. Baillie therefore had his work cut out to ‘set the matter in a true light’, and it was against this complex background that he charted his course through the 1711–12 session. He summed up his dilemma thus:

The Whigs and many of the Tories are to oppose the Duke of Hamilton’s patent and I must own that to assist them goes against the grain with me, and yet for one to act from resentment against his country is so mighty a point, is a heavy thing, and what I cannot well think of, and I’m sure we owe no such favour to the ministry.

Baillie resolved this problem, much as he had previously done, by attempting to judge each issue on its merits without feeling constrained either to follow the Whigs in partisan measures, or to seek a closer relationship with the ministry. His greatest disappointment was in the lacklustre performance of the Scottish peers, who not only failed to make a full attendance in support of Hamilton, thereby contributing to his defeat, but also lacked the political willpower to seize ‘some proper occasion in some [critical affair] to [break] the [neck] either of [Whig] or [Tory]’. The cause of this pusillanimity was obvious to Baillie: the last election had returned a docile contingent of representative peers, who lacked ‘resolution’ and were unable ‘to resist money’. Baillie naturally viewed the exclusion of the Squadrone peers as a crucial factor in this situation. Despite the shortcomings of the current system, he was hostile to proposals made in the aftermath of the Hamilton case for abolishing peerage elections in favour of hereditary Scottish seats in the Lords. In addition to entertaining constitutional doubts over how such a change could be managed without damaging the Union settlement, Baillie also feared that, in the present political climate, the Squadrone peers might still find themselves excluded, and resolved therefore ‘to use my credit to break any measure that must have such a tail’.18

In January 1712 Baillie reported to his wife that he was ‘almost blind with want of sleep, for I have not been in bed this four nights till three in the morning. It was not debauching but about business, for this is no idle time.’ He had assiduously attended the proceedings against Robert Walpole II* and the Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill†), voting against the censure of the latter on 24 Jan. On such questions, he generally followed the Whig line, and had voted on the opening day of the session in favour of ‘No Peace without Spain’, despite having earlier expressed the opinion that the Whigs went ‘too far against the peace’ and that it would have ‘been better to have made the best of it, since it was to be’. He was also unhappy about Lord Nottingham’s (Daniel Finch†) arrangement with the Junto for opposing the peace with the quid pro quo of an occasional conformity bill. He was convinced that by ‘acting against principles’ the Whigs would not simply lose the Dissenting interest, but also ‘most of their friends in Scotland’. He did not accept the argument that Whig involvement was primarily designed to prevent a bill ‘in worse terms’, and thought that the Junto were angling for a new route to power. Scottish opposition to the bill was hamstrung by the fact that the bill might apply solely to England. Although it could be amended with clauses respecting Scotland, this would inevitably raise the question of toleration for episcopalian clergy. In the early stages of the bill, Baillie mooted certain ‘expedients . . . which were thought reasonable’ but these were rejected by his Scottish co-adjutors, who thought they would make a toleration act ‘unavoidable’. Baillie himself was not fundamentally hostile to toleration for episcopalians, but would have preferred the issue to remain dormant. He disliked religious persecution and thought the Kirk merely damaged its own position by an excessive insistence on its privileges. So, for example, he thought that the hard-line Presbyterians had mismanaged the Greenshields affair and thereby paved the way for legal toleration. Although Baillie disliked the Scottish toleration bill, he adopted a moderate line, speaking against it only as ‘unseasonable and ill timed’, while saying ‘nothing against the thing itself’. On 26 Jan. 1712, he reported that the bill ‘goes on apace, our own countrymen are most zealous in it’ and that consequently it was necessary ‘to make the best of it’. During the committee stage, he supported abortive amendments moved by ‘those Scots who favoured Presbyterian government’, none of which were ‘against the toleration itself, but only to bring the Act as near the Toleration Act of England as was possible, and to make it consistent with the articles of the Union’. When the bill passed the Commons, on 7 Feb., Baillie voted against it without making a speech, owing to ‘the heat on the other side’ which had been created by Dalrymple’s arguments against toleration.

There was abundance to be said against it . . . But as things went it could not have been done without sharpness, which was not fit. In short, I was against dividing the House upon the question ‘agree to the bill or not’, for I saw we would make but a sad appearance; and it so happened; for there was only 13 against it, but zeal must carry it and I was obliged to show myself with that small number though contrary to my inclination; I mean of exposing ourselves, for I was really against the bill as it is passed.

The particular failings of the bill, in Baillie’s opinion, were the curtailment of the powers of magistrates in enforcing Kirk discipline, and the failure to include a doctrinal test. Baillie did not, however, participate in the manoeuvres by the delegation from the Kirk that secured amendments to the bill in the Lords, although he did approve of these changes, which comprised restrictions on the use of the English liturgy and the reading of banns, and safeguards against intrusion into vacant churches. Particularly controversial was the addition of an abjuration clause. Baillie predicted that not many episcopalians would ‘come to take the Abjuration for the uncertainty of meeting house’, and noted that ‘very few more amendments’ would ‘have satisfied me perfectly’. He predicted, however, that there would now be further debate on the bill in the Commons, but hoped that even this might be turned to account, by forcing the deferral of the bill for this session. In fact, the Scottish Tories made good use of the abjuration issue to create disarray in Presbyterian ranks.19

The clause which had been added to the bill in the Lords required that all Scottish ministers take an abjuration oath, similar (but not identical) to that used in England. The wording differed because some Presbyterians were known to object to swearing an oath in support of the succession ‘as limited’ by the English Act of Succession. This phrase was deemed ‘relative and conditional’ and therefore objectionable on theological and practical grounds. The theological argument was that the divine plan with respect to the succession had not yet been revealed and that the oath was therefore impious and presumptive. The practical objection was that the phrase implied thoroughgoing approval of the Act of Succession, including the stipulation that the monarch must be of the Church of England. Presbyterians were therefore being asked to swear to uphold a system of Church government which, in the terms of the Solemn League and Covenant, was inherently sinful. The net effect was that the equality of the two separate Church establishments, as enshrined in the Union, was being undermined. Presbyterians were however prepared to accept an oath which was, in their expression, purely ‘narrative and descriptive’. Thus the oath which had been added to the bill in the Lords used the phrase ‘which is limited’ rather than ‘as limited’. The existence of the English Act would thereby be acknowledged, but without creating any theological entanglements. Naturally, the Scottish Tories in the Commons (incensed at the introduction of an abjuration clause but recognizing that it would now be impossible to remove it) settled for rendering the oath as objectionable as possible to Presbyterians. They therefore moved that the oath be amended to bring it into exact conformity with the English one. Baillie found it difficult to explain Presbyterian objections to the phrase ‘as limited’. There were two obvious pitfalls. First, to pose as the champion of a superior theology would prompt an Anglican backlash; and, second, to reveal the equivocal stance with regard to the Act of Succession undermined the oath itself. It might well be argued that one form of equivocation was as bad as another, rendering abjuration virtually useless as an anti-Jacobite measure. Baillie himself regarded the Presbyterian objections as ‘groundless at best’, but attempted, for the sake of harmony within the Kirk, to obtain an oath with the phrasing ‘which is limited’. When this question was debated on 21 Feb., Baillie admitted that

I had great difficulty to bring myself to explain this matter . . . however, I thought it necessary to say something, but it was not much, for it could bear no other argument save that of being upon a toleration it seemed reasonable to indulge the regular clergy in their scruple, since the security to the government and the Protestant succession was not in the least weakened by the Lords’ amendment of the oath.

Not surprisingly, he found that such an approach ‘signified little’ and the offensive wording ‘as limited’ was included in the resultant Toleration Act. Baillie continued to be active in finding ways to make the oath acceptable to Presbyterians, the first priority being to secure time for the Kirk to consider its position. He managed a bill to extend the time-limit before the Toleration Act came into force, chairing a committee of the whole on 13 June, from which he reported the following day, carrying up the bill on the 16th. Baillie was later active in a commission appointed by the Kirk to examine this issue. He denounced non-jurors as schismatic and

denied the design of the [Toleration] Act was to establish the Church of England, except insofar as it was established by the Protestant succession, and that was only . . . as a body of Protestants, and no further . . . The oath now came upon us upon another foot, viz. the Union, wherein our reserved rights were secured.20

As a Presbyterian, Baillie had also opposed the bill restoring lay patronage in Scotland. He spoke against the introduction of the bill on 13 Mar. 1712 and repeated his objections at the committal stage on the 29th. On the latter occasion he was the principal speaker against the measure, being ‘forced to take more upon him than fell to his share’ on account of the absence on legal business of Dalrymple. Baillie also continued to maintain a watchful eye on tax proposals which were unfair to Scotland, and joined in the opposition to the paper duty in April and May. He agreed with his fellow Scots that the proposed duties breached the proportion of taxes established by the Union, but refused to countenance Lockhart’s suggestion that they either unite in opposition to the Court on every issue, or ‘leave the House in a body’. Baillie argued that he could not join a secession ‘without the concurrence of his constituents’. Lockhart simply replied that Baillie ‘had done worse’, referring to his conduct at the time of the Union. Without a secession, however, sufficient pressure was placed on the ministry to have ‘several of the gravaminous things’ dropped. Baillie’s moderating influence on this occasion presaged his reaction to the crisis over the Union in the following session. Over the question of the war, he continued to vote with the Whigs, but remained unhappy about their tactical approach. He believed, for example, that the motion criticizing Ormond’s restraining orders, on 28 May, was ‘ill-timed and worse managed’, for the paltry minority revealed the weakness of opposition and provided an opportunity for the ministry to carry its own address without difficulty. Baillie thought that ‘the question might have been dropped, which would . . . have answered the one proposed better than what has happened’. He subsequently noted, on 7 June, that there was a ‘profound silence’ on the address thanking the Queen for communicating the peace terms because ‘those gentlemen who had made a bustle all summer were unwilling to expose their numbers, for the vote would have gone against them by a great majority’.21

Baillie’s opposition to the peace, together with the increasing influence of the Tories over the ministry, meant that he was a marked man. His removal from the Board of Trade was rumoured in late April, and he was duly dismissed after the end of the session. He was pessimistic about the future prospects of the Squadrone, describing the party in late June as ‘quite forgot, if not despised’. Some comfort was derived from the appointment of Seafield (now Earl of Findlater) to a vacancy in the Scottish representative peerage, and Baillie wrote to the leading Squadrone peers encouraging them to ‘fall in frankly with the measure’. He argued that this appointment ‘must work a change that may turn to account’, since Findlater was neither ill-disposed towards the Squadrone, nor firmly connected to either of the existing camps within the Scottish Court interest.22

Baillie spent the recess in Scotland, returning to London in January 1713. His journey south had been difficult because of the poor state of his health. Frustrated with waiting in London for the session to commence, he therefore decided to take a cure at Bath, spending a fortnight there from 21 Feb., but making sure that he was back for the first day of parliamentary business. The trip, from a medical point of view, had been a waste of time, for he reported on 9 Apr. that ‘I am next to stone-deaf, in so much that I heard nothing so as to report what passed in the House this day’. The main question which occupied his attention was the imposition of the malt tax on Scotland, which was voted in a committee of the whole on 11 May. He gave little credence to reports that ‘it will yet be modified as to Scotland . . . that we shall be obliged to pay less upon the same quantity of malt’. These proceedings had taken him slightly by surprise, for according to his own understanding of parliamentary procedure, another tax should have been considered prior to that on malt. As a consequence, his letters to his constituents alerting them of the likelihood of the tax were sent too late and arrived only after the event. In any case, he did not endorse the idea of consulting his constituents and was opposed to any idea of ‘positive instructions’ from them. He had consented to write only because he was being criticized by the Scots at Westminster for having failed to do so. Baillie considered that the defeat over the malt tax was partly a result of mismanagement. Some Scots had favoured ‘joining with the Members of England who are against it’, whereas others suggested ‘offering an equivalent of two months’ cess on the part of Scotland’. Baillie had objected to the strategy of offering any concession at the outset, deeming it ‘most consistent with the article of Union settling our land tax proportionally to that of England, which if once broke in upon, especially from choice, no body knows how far it may be pushed on other occasions’. As befitted his character, he had favoured going ‘squarely to work, though it should be lost this year, we may have a hit for it the next year’. Between this initial defeat and the subsequent passage of the tax, Baillie attempted to mitigate its effect by proposing a reduced duty for Scotland, and, when this failed, a deferral of the tax until the peace with France was ratified. He even supported an attempt to tack the place bill to the malt tax, not so much to support the former, as fatally to compromise the latter. Throughout these proceedings he felt that ‘the Whigs have dealt basely with us’, either by leaving the House or voting against the Scots. His familiar dilemma reappeared: the conduct of the Whigs ‘is very hard on us who have gone along with them; to the prejudice of our probable interest at home if we leave them not; and yet how can that be done, in other matters, while we think them in the right’. He was disgusted at the hostile manner in which parliamentary procedure had been utilized against the Scots, and, by the time the bill passed the Commons on 22 May, described himself as ‘so tired out . . . more with vexation than with toil’. A week later he was convinced of ‘a dismal prospect . . . whether the Union is broke or continued, both must bring ruin on Scotland. Which of them will do it soonest or most effectually I cannot say.’ He began, however, quietly to exert his influence, restraining one unnamed friend (probably Cockburn), ‘who has talked so wildly to me upon it that I have been forced to check him’. Baillie subtly undermined the campaign to dissolve the Union. As one hostile observer expressed it, he was ‘full of shifts’. These tactics included a disingenuous proposal, in a meeting of Scottish representatives on 26 May, ‘not to advance too far until they knew the minds of their constituents’, a suggestion which drew the expected riposte from Lockhart that ‘the minds of their constituents were not asked in the making of the Union, and there was no need of asking it to dissolve it’. Having failed in his strategy of deferring any immediate action, Baillie then sought, on 27 May, to fracture Scottish unity by resisting a proposal that ‘the Scots should as one man oppose every party in everything that would not come up with them to break the Union’. He refused point blank ‘to give up his conscience’, shunning with horror the idea of doing ‘evil that good might come of it’. Baillie’s prevarication thereby provided a respectable cover under which others chose to depart from collective action. Privately, Baillie admitted that though his declaration was ‘honest in itself’, he had ‘other reasons for it, which were not fit to be mentioned at the meeting’. He realized that an effective attack on the ministry by the Scottish peers might prompt the Court to favour ‘dissolving the Union . . . in order to be rid of them’. This would adversely affect the Squadrone, since the sitting peers would perhaps gain the approval of the Junto. Instead, it was far better to provide a rationale for some peers to remain loyal to the ministry, so that ‘the Squadrone might have the means to ruin their credit at [the] next election, by laying the blame upon them for the failing of the dissolution, and at the same time might keep their own ground with the Whigs’. He was therefore greatly relieved at the subsequent fiasco in the Lords on 1 June over the motion to dissolve the Union.23

Baillie now turned his attention to the French commerce bill, speaking against the bill on 4 June, when his contribution was ‘longer than . . . my custom, but the thing required it’. He also spoke against the engrossment of the bill on the 18th. The surviving drafts of his speeches reveal both his detailed knowledge of the tariffs and his close analysis of key clauses. His masterly exposition of these facts lent weight to his rebuttal of the government’s argument that any consequent loss of revenue could be met by raising higher duties on other nations. Baillie maintained that

the French have secured against [this] by the words . . . exigitur et exigitur, which plainly determines that no greater duties shall be paid by the French than is now payable by other nations in goods of the same kind . . . We are tied down, for the duties presently payable by other nations is made the rule with respect to France, so that you cannot exceed them without a breach of the treaty.

The rejection of the bill he described as an ‘unexpected’ victory. Contemporary lists note Baillie not only as a speaker in the debate, but classify him as a Whig. Indeed, his problematic relationship with the Whigs was rapidly being resolved by the pressure of events.24

Baillie was re-elected without a contest for Berwickshire in 1713, and was listed as a Hanoverian in Lord Polwarth’s analysis of Scottish Members. Despite such important events as the death of Hamilton and the political breach between the Duke of Argyll and Oxford, the Squadrone fared no better at the peerage election, and Baillie therefore continued the principal representative of the party at Westminster. Roxburghe informed him on 30 Jan. 1714 that it was ‘downright expected’ that Baillie should be in London in advance of the opening of Parliament, in order to concert measures with the Whigs, principally concerning the succession. Baillie duly complied with this request. He took a prominent part in defence of Richard Steele, speaking against his expulsion from the House on 18 Mar.

Your friend took his share and after having endeavoured to justify Steele from the charge . . . mentioned as causes of our danger: the growth of popery in Scotland; the arming of the Jacobites; the late order to seize arms, whereby friends to the government could only suffer; the giving pensions to the heads of clans; and the pamphlets, not only those that were writ against the settlement, but such . . . as seemed to be writ of design to exasperate one part of her Majesty’s subjects against the other to make way for the Pretender. He likewise took notice of the power of France . . . [and] our danger from the Pretender continuing at Bar Le Duc, notwithstanding of her Majesty’s instances for his removal and upon the strength of his party within the kingdom . . . supposing their number not to be great, yet they were considerable because of their diligence.

He concluded that to expel Steele would be ‘a discouragement to the friends of the establishment, and an encouragement to its enemies both abroad and at home, and . . . it might be constructed as a vote against the succession itself, it being against books writ expressly for it’. Despite losing the question, Baillie thought the opinions expressed in debate might have ‘good effect’ and asked his wife to pass on details of his own speech to Marchmont and Polwarth, ‘lest it should be misrepresented’. In early April he complained that his attendance in the House was ‘hard labour’, but was determined to remain active, and wholeheartedly supported the Whigs over election cases, being resolved not to ‘disoblige my friends’. He was not particularly alarmed by reports of divisions within the ministry, deducing that any change could not harm the security of the succession because of widespread diplomatic support and the divisions within Tory ranks on this question. Nevertheless, he conceded that ‘matters go backwards and forwards’, and that much would depend on the committee on the state of the nation tabled for 15 Apr. He was heartened by proceedings in this committee, being convinced of the wisdom of dividing on a procedural, rather than substantive, motion, for this allowed many Hanoverian Tories to make what amounted to ‘an open declaration for the succession’. Two days later, however, in the wake of a Lords address approving all the ministry’s actions over the peace, he described himself as ‘never more down than at this minute’. When the Commons approved this address without a division on 22 Apr., Baillie conceded that it was ‘not prudent’ to divide the House, since ‘our new friends . . . said nothing in the debate’. This result, he predicted, ‘will probably put an end to further struggling this season, unless some new incident happens, or that the treaty of commerce with France be brought in again’. Although he was ‘tired of sitting so long in a warm House’ and keen to be back in Scotland ‘clipping of sheep’, he determined to remain at Westminster until the end of the session, unhappy at the thought of anything going awry in his absence. He voted on 12 May for extending the schism bill to cover Catholic education, and later the same month opposed two initiatives by Scottish Tories for the resumption of bishops’ rents and the remodelling of the militia. On 19 June he attended the revived committee of elections, in support of the Whig Member in the controverted by-election for Harwich. After the hearing concluded, he fell in ‘with some English gentlemen of my acquaintance, who summoned me to drink a bowl of punch, which was done in great sobriety but kept me late . . . This is only the second time that I have been in a public house at night since I came here.’ He voted against adding a punitive clause to the bill for discharging the Equivalent commissioners on 24 June, despite having been involved in its preparation. On 12 July he departed for Scotland, but, shortly after arriving home, news of the Queen’s death prompted him to return to London and attend the brief session during August, remaining in town to present a loyal address from Berwickshire in September.25

Baillie was rewarded for his loyalty to the Hanoverian succession with appointment, in October, to the Admiralty Board, transferring in 1717 to the Treasury. Having been re-elected for Berwickshire in 1715, he continued to represent the county until 1734, though he was removed from office in 1725, an event which coincided with the Duke of Argyll’s purge of the Squadrone. His willingness to leave office had been signalled two years previously, and he now received a pension equal to his salary of £1,600 p.a. Spiritual matters increasingly occupied his attention, for his retirement from Parliament (though partly a result of failing health) was the fulfilment of a vow he had made ‘on his first entering business, that if he ever arrived to his grand climacteric, let his health or station be what it would, he would then retire’ because ‘he had a more immediate call to spend what remained to him in constant devotion’. Following a brief illness, he died ‘with a calm serene countenance, and scarce a groan’ at Oxford on 6 Aug. 1738, and was buried privately at Mellerstain. One obituarist described Baillie as ‘a most zealous patriot, a very able statesman, and a most perfect Christian’; another commented on his ‘deportment so full of dignity, and such an uncommon, one may say peculiar strength of thinking and speaking’. According to his daughter, ‘he had the most tender and affectionate heart’ and was always ‘firm and steady in doing what he thought right’.26

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: David Wilkinson


  • 1. Hist. Scot. Parl. 30; Album Studiosorum Academiae Franekerensis, 229; Scot. Hist. Soc. ser. 3, xlvii. 217–90.
  • 2. Scot. Rec. Soc. lix. 41; lxxxiii. 8; lxxiii. 10.
  • 3. C. A. Malcolm, Bank of Scotland, 293; info. from Dr P. W. J. Riley on members of Scot. parl.; N. Munro, Hist. R. Bank of Scotland, 405.
  • 4. Scot. Hist. Soc. ser. 2, i. pp. ix–xii, xxiii; DNB (Baillie, Robert); Lady Murray, Mems. of George Baillie (1824), 14–16, 20–22; Burnet, ii. 431–5; Lockhart Pprs. i. 95.
  • 5. Scot. Hist. Soc. ser. 2, i., pp. xvi–xvii; DNB (Baillie, Grisell); HMC 14th Rep. III, 121; Murray, 83.
  • 6. Hist. Scot. Parl. 30, 353–4; info. from Dr Riley; Darien Pprs. (Bannatyne Club, xc), 372; SRO, Ogilvy of Inverquharity mss GD205/31/1/146, Teviot to Bennet, 2 Aug. 1701.
  • 7. Info. from Dr Riley; HMC 14th Rep. III, 194; Riley, Union, 334; Riley, Eng. Ministers and Scotland, 35, 215.
  • 8. Ogilvy mss GD205/33/3/2/5, Grisell Baillie to Bennet, 30 Aug. 1707; Roxburghe mss at Floors Castle, bdle. 739, same to [Countess of Roxburghe], 19 Sept. 1707, Bennet to same, 16 Dec. 1707; Cumbria RO (Carlisle), Lonsdale mss D/Lons/L1/4/stray letters (Wharton), [?Sir Humphrey Mackworth*] to Ld. Wharton (Thomas*), [29 Nov. 1707]; Cunningham, Hist. GB, i. 414; ii. 74; Atholl mss at Blair Castle, box 45, bdle. 7, nos. 193, 198, Yester to Tullibardine, 7 Dec. 1707, James Murray to [Atholl], 15 Dec. 1707; W. A. Speck, Birth of Britain, 126; VernonShrewsbury Letters, iii. 284; Lockhart Pprs. 335–6.
  • 9. Riley, Eng. Ministers, 104–5; Baillie Corresp. 192–6; Ogilvy mss GD205/33/3/27, Baillie to Bennet, 29 July 1708; GD205/36/6, Grey Neville* to same, 11 July 1708.
  • 10. Haddington mss at Mellerstain, 3, Baillie to wife, 13, 20 Nov., 18 Dec. 1708, 24 Jan. [1709] (Jones trans.); NLS, ms 14415, ff. 168–9; Ogilvy mss GD205/34/4, John Pringle* to Bennet, 18 Dec. 1708; SRO, Montrose mss GD220/5/804/2a, Mungo Graham* to [Montrose], 5 Jan. 1709; SRO, Hume of Marchmont mss GD158/1117/4, Baillie to Marchmont, 6 Feb. 1709.
  • 11. Riley, Eng. Ministers, 119; Haddington mss, 3, Baillie to wife, 12 Mar. [1709], 19, 22, 24, 26, 29, 31, Mar., 5, 9, 7, 12, 14, 16, 19 Apr. 1709 (Jones trans.); Nicolson Diaries ed. Jones and Holmes, 493; Montrose mss GD220/5/203, Baillie to Montrose, 9 Apr. 1709; Speck, 155–6.
  • 12. Hume of Marchmont mss GD158/1117/2, 3, Baillie to Marchmont, 1 June, 24 Dec. 1709; Add. 28055, f. 426; Montrose mss GD220/5/206/2, Roxburghe to Montrose, 30 July 1709.
  • 13. NLS, ms 7021, f. 199; Haddington mss, 3, Baillie to wife, 4 Feb., 7, 9, 14, 16, 18 Mar. 1709[–10] (Jones trans.); Scots Courant, 28 Apr.–1 May 1710; SRO, Mar and Kellie mss GD124/15/975/19, Mar to Ld. Grange (Hon. James Erskine†), 14 Sept. 1710; Add. 70048, same to Robert Harley, 25 Aug. 1710; 70049, same to same, 8 Oct. [1710]; HMC Portland, x. 328–9; D. Szechi, Jacobitism and Tory Pol. 204–5; SHR, lx. 65.
  • 14. Haddington mss, 4, Baillie to wife, 3, 19, 21 Dec. 1711 (Jones trans.); Montrose mss GD220/5/2/256/1, same to Montrose, 18 Jan. 1711.
  • 15. Haddington mss, 4, Baillie to wife, 3, 27, 29 Mar. 1711 (Jones trans.).
  • 16. Lockhart Pprs. 325–9; Scot. Hist. Soc. Misc. xii. 137; Haddington mss, 4, Baillie to wife, 2, 5, 9, 19 June 1711 (Jones trans.).
  • 17. Lockhart Pprs. 335–6; Haddington mss, 4, Baillie to wife, 2, 14 June 1711 (Jones trans.).
  • 18. Haddington mss, 4, Baillie to wife, 2 June 1711, same to Montrose, 4, 31 Dec. 1711, 19 Jan. 1711–12 (Jones trans.); HMC 14th Rep III, 172; Montrose mss GD220/5/256/6, 7, 8, Baillie to Montrose, 7, 12, 14 June 1712.
  • 19. Haddington mss, 3, Baillie to Montrose, 16, 18 Feb. 1709[–10], 5, same to wife, 13 Nov., 13 Dec. 1711, 29 Jan., 2, 7 Feb. 1711–12 (Jones trans.); Montrose mss GD220/5/268/6, Baillie to Montrose, 26 Jan. 1711–12.
  • 20. Lockhart Pprs. 381–2; Haddington mss, 5, Baillie to Montrose, 21 Feb. 1712 (Jones trans.); Wodrow, Analecta, ii. 93, 122.
  • 21. Haddington mss, 5, Baillie to wife, 13, 29 Mar. 1712 (Jones trans.); Wodrow, 45; Montrose mss GD220/5/268/14, 15, Baillie to Montrose, 29 May, 7 June 1712.
  • 22. BL, Trumbull Alphab. mss 54, Ralph Bridges to Sir William Trumbull*, 25 Apr. 1712; Haddington mss, 5, Baillie to Montrose, 1 July 1712, same to Tweeddale, 3 July 1712, same to Roxburghe, 4 July 1712 (Jones trans.).
  • 23. Haddington mss, 5, Baillie to wife, n.d., 7 Jan., 10, 21 Feb., 9 Apr., 21, 28 May 1713, misc. pprs. 1/384, memo. [1713] (Jones trans.); HMC Polwarth, i. 7–9; Scot. Hist. Soc. Misc. xii. 153; Lockhart Letters ed. Szechi, 76, 80.
  • 24. Parlty. Hist. i. 69; Haddington mss, 5, Baillie to wife, 4, 20 June 1713, misc. pprs. 1/359, draft speeches, [1713] (Jones trans.).
  • 25. Haddington mss, 6, Baillie to wife, n.d., 20 Mar., 1, 3, 10, 17, 22, Apr., 22 May, 19 June, 10 July 1714, Roxburghe to Baillie, 30 Jan. 1714 (Jones trans.); Lockhart Letters, 106–8; NLS, Advocates’ mss, Wodrow pprs. letters Quarto, 8, f. 144; Flying Post, 12–14 Aug., 28–30 Sept. 1714.
  • 26. HMC Polwarth, 286; Add. 36125, f. 303; Murray, 3–6, 25–27, appendix, ‘Character of Baillie’; BL, Dept. of Printed Bks. 1878.d.12 (24).