HALDANE, John (1660-1721), of Gleneagles, Perth.

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. 31 Mar. 1660, 1st s. of Mungo Haldane, MP [S], of Gleneagles by his 1st w. Anne, da. of John Grant of Lurg, Inverness.  educ. Aberdeen Univ. (King’s Coll.) 1674.  m. (1) settlement 22 Aug. 1677 (with 10,000 marks), Mary (d. 1685), da. of David Drummond, 3rd Ld. Maderty [S], 5s. (3 d.v.p.); (2) Feb. 1691, Helen (d. aft. 1724), da. of Sir Charles Erskine, 1st Bt., MP [S], of Alva, Stirling, sis. of Charles Erskine (Areskine†) and Sir John Erskine, 3rd Bt.*, 5s. (1 d.v.p.) 4da. (1 d.v.p.)  suc. fa. 1685.

Offices Held

Burgess, Edinburgh 1684; commr. visitation St. Andrews Univ. 1718.1

MP [S] Perth 1689–93, 1702–7, Dunbarton 1700–2.

Dir. Co. of Scotland by 1696–aft. 1700, chairman 1700–2; dir. Bank of Scotland 1699.2

Commr. justiciary for Highlands [S] 1701–2, public accts. [S] 1703–4, police [S] 1707–d., Equivalent [S] 1707–15, tunnage and poundage [S] July 1715–?July 1716, customs and salt duty [S] July 1716–d.3


Since the death of Haldane’s Covenanting grandfather at the battle of Dunbar, the family (lairds of Gleneagles since the late 13th century) seem to have sacrificed political independence for noble patronage, quite possibly on account of the long-term financial weakness engendered by Civil War depredations on their estates. To begin with, their patron was presumably the 1st Marquess of Atholl, hereditary sheriff of Perthshire. Haldane’s father, though remaining a Presbyterian, showed himself willing to oblige Atholl and the Court by taking the test in 1681, and was empowered to administer it to others and to try ‘recusants’ in his own locality. Moreover, he was also commissioned under Atholl to prosecute ‘conventiclers’ (while sheltering one under his own roof). Haldane himself may well have inherited this connexion, for he was associated with Atholl’s son Lord Tullibardine at the time of the Revolution. His curious behaviour in the Scottish parliament in 1689–90, if it was not merely a matter of keeping his political profile low, may have reflected Atholl’s Janus-like attitude towards the Revolution. Returned to the convention for Perthshire, Haldane signed the act declaring the legality of the estates’ proceedings, and the letter of congratulation to King William, but afterwards absented himself until fined in July 1689, and even then did not take the oath of allegiance before April of the following year. His argument, that he was ‘so little fond of oaths as not to be desirous to take any more nor [sic] what I am already engaged in’, hints at some theological objection beyond the simple desire to avoid being pinned down. The Assurance he refused altogether, and in consequence lost his seat in Secretary James Johnston’s* purge in 1693.4

Haldane now devoted himself to industrial and commercial speculations, using such capital as remained from his lucrative first marriage. There were fishery and salt-manufacturing schemes, but his consuming passion was the Company of Scotland, in which he invested £1,000 in February–March 1696. He was elected not only as a director but also as a member of the board’s ‘committee of improvement’ and of the joint committee composed of this and the other two standing committees. In 1696–7 he joined the four-man travelling mission entrusted with ‘special affairs’ in England and on the Continent. After a successful investigation of the books of the company’s London agents, in which he uncovered large-scale embezzlement, he and his colleagues departed for Holland and, eventually, Hamburg, where they fell foul of the diplomatic obstructionism of the English resident Sir Paul Rycaut. An even unhappier experience awaited Haldane on a second trip to London in 1699, when he spent a short time under arrest at the suit of one of the company’s creditors. Naturally, the frustrations attendant upon the disastrous expedition to Darien produced a strong feeling of alienation from the Court. He was now moving in opposition circles, making contact with disaffected magnates like Lord Annandale, and possibly the Marquess (later Duke) of Montrose, a first cousin twice removed, whom in due course he was to adopt as his patron. Not only named to the committee that drafted the company’s remonstrance to the King in 1700, Haldane was also included in the delegation accompanying Lord Tweeddale to London to present it. These strenuous efforts earned James Johnston’s approval. Haldane, he told Lord Annandale, ‘has behaved with a great deal of prudence and yet with all necessary boldness. He has left no stone unturned, and tho’ he shows great temper, he has all the fire and zeal that is requisite to be both indefatigable and incorruptible.’5

In furtherance of the Company of Scotland’s campaign, Haldane re-entered the Scottish parliament in 1700, at a by-election in Dunbartonshire. He quickly made his presence felt on the opposition side over Darien, of course, where he moved a resolution to condemn Rycaut’s behaviour in 1697 and subsequently voted to proceed by act of parliament rather than by a parliamentary address. He seceded with the rest of the opposition in 1702, and in the 1703 parliament was once again strong in the Country party’s measures. Early in 1704 he was one of the Country members present at the meeting called by the Duke of Hamilton to decide upon the appropriate response to the furore in England over the Scotch Plot. He did not support the ‘New Party’ ministry, formed later that year, voting instead for Hamilton’s motion to postpone settling the succession. This was indicative of Haldane’s personal adherence to Montrose, who also divided against his future Squadrone colleagues on the issue. Subsequently courted by ministers, Haldane declared in October that he would never ‘change my thoughts or inclinations to my country for any advantages a slippery and uncertain Court could give me’. He was suggested by Roxburghe for the general receivership in December, but the ousting of the ‘New Party’ the following year removed the immediate temptation of office, and Haldane allied himself with the Squadrone.6

Haldane supported the Union, voting along an undeviating Squadrone line, and was rewarded with appointment both as an Equivalent commissioner (a post without any initial salary) and as a commissioner of police with £400 p.a. Rewarded also with a seat at Westminster in the first Parliament of Great Britain, Haldane was in consequence referred to by later descendants as ‘Union Jack’. Complimented with nomination on 10 Nov. 1707 to the committee on the Address, Haldane proved an active Member, leading the Squadrone attack on the Scottish Court party. He moved on 4 Dec. that the militia and commission of the peace in Scotland should be placed on the same footing as those of England, and on the same day was appointed to draft the bill to repeal the Scots acts of security and anent peace and war. On 11 Dec. he spoke in support of George Baillie* over the abolition of the Scottish privy council, and was appointed to prepare the bill to complete the Union. Further committee appointments included two of particular Scottish interest: one to draft bills to encourage the salmon fishery (2 Feb. 1708) and another to regulate the linen industry (27 Feb.). A clear indication, moreover, of his status in the House was his inclusion on 8 Jan., alongside the English Whig lawyers (Sir) Joseph Jekyll and Robert Eyre, in the committee to prepare the bill to amend the Regency Act.7

In the Perthshire election of 1708, despite the best efforts of the Duke and Duchess of Montrose, and Haldane’s own endeavours to evoke Lord Sunderland’s (Charles, Lord Spencer*) interest in his predicament, he was ousted by Dougal Stewart*, largely thanks to Lord Atholl, who ignored the Hamilton–Squadrone pact. In 1710 Haldane stood both for the county and the burghs district, failing in both instances. These defeats ended Haldane’s parliamentary career, though he considered standing in 1715. A firm Hanoverian, he suffered the depredations of Stuart loyalists during the Fifteen. Damage to his estate was estimated at over £7,000, for which he was compensated by the government to the tune of only £600. However, he was provided with a clutch of offices after the Hanoverian succession, yielding some £800 p.a., plus an annual pension of £400, and jobs were also handed out to some of his children. Haldane died at Edinburgh on 26 June 1721, and was buried in the Montrose chapel in St. Giles’s cathedral. His eldest son, Mungo, and his second son, Patrick, sat in Parliament under George I. Both were Squadrone Whigs, retaining a close attachment to the Duke of Montrose.8

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: D. W. Hayton


Unless otherwise stated, this article is based on the biographical notice in J. A. L. Haldane, Haldanes of Gleneagles, pp. xxviii-xxi, 101-28.

  • 1. Scot. Rec. Soc. lix. 224.
  • 2. Darien Pprs. (Bannatyne Club, xc), 14, 283–4; C. A. Malcolm, Bank of Scotland, 297.
  • 3. CSP Dom. 1700–2, p. 337; Scot. Hist. Soc. xiii. 51; Boyer, Anne Annals, vi. 234; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxix. 342, xxx. 349; P. W. J. Riley, Eng. Ministers and Scotland, 272.
  • 4. Haldane, 81–83, 93–94; Reg. PC Scotland, 1683–4, p. 137; APS, ix. 9, 20, 27, 103, 107, 110, 249–50; Scot. Hist. Soc. ser. 3, xlvi. 165; xlvii. 141; info. from Dr P. W. J. Riley on members of Scot. parl.
  • 5. APS, x. 80; Darien Pprs. pp. xvii–xix, 14, 18, 25, 32, 46, 118–23, 132–9, 161–2, 172–3, 262–3, 278–84, 375, 383; G. P. Insh, Co. of Scotland, 69, 84, 87, 202–3; J. Prebble, Darien Disaster, 83–89, 101, 221; Scot. Hist. Soc. (ser. 3), vi. 19, 25, 31; info. from Dr Riley; R. M. Sunter, Patronage and Pol. in Scotland, 62; Carstares, State Pprs. 501; Seafield Corresp. 283.
  • 6. Carstares, State Pprs. 514–15; Crossrigg Diary, 46; APS, x. 251, 269, 294; xi. 72, 102; P. W. J. Riley, King Wm. and Scot. Politicians, 172; SRO, Ogilvy of Inverquharity mss, letters of Sir William Bennet, 21, 28 Jan. 1705 (ex inf. Dr Riley); Lockhart Pprs. i. 92, 98; Boyer, Anne Annals, iii, app. 42; NLS, ms 14415, f. 69; Baillie Corresp. 25, 28–29.
  • 7. Info. from Dr Riley; P. W. J. Riley, Union, 334; Boyer, v. 344; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxii. 79; HMC Portland, viii. 110; Atholl mss at Blair Atholl, box 45, bdle. 7, no. 190, James Murray to Atholl, 5 Dec. 1707; Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, iii. 294–5 (misdated); Roxburghe mss at Floors Castle, bdle. 739, William Bennet to Countess of Roxburghe, 16 Dec. 1707.
  • 8. HMC 6th Rep. 702; Add. 61631, ff. 54, 80; HMC Mar and Kellie, i. 443; HMC Portland, x. 159; Stowe, 242, f. 60; 229, ff. 194–5; Cal. Treas. Bks. xxix. 211; xxxii. 475.