HUTTON, John II (d. 1712), of Caerlaverock, Dumfries and St. Clement’s, Westminster

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



1710 - Dec. 1712

Family and Education

educ. MD Padua Univ. 1677, incorp. Oxf. Univ. 1695.  unm.

Offices Held

Burgess, Dumfries 1672.1

Physician to Princess Mary 1686–9; 1st physician in ordinary 1689–1702; physician-gen. to army 1690–7.2

Fellow, Coll. of Physicians 1690; FRS 1697.


The identity of Hutton’s parents remains obscure, but his origins were certainly humble. In his youth, he was a shepherd to John Birnie, the episcopalian minister of Caerlaverock in Dumfriesshire. According to local tradition, the minister ‘soon recognized the boy’s talents’ and enabled him to be ‘well-educated’. Hutton was ‘removed to be a companion to a gentleman’s son, who had taken a fancy to him; and along with this person acquired the rudiments of a liberal education’. Having ‘studied physic’ in Edinburgh, he completed his education in Padua. Nothing more is known of his activities, until he chanced to be the nearest physician on hand when Princess Mary of Orange suffered a riding accident in 1686. This brought him to the attention of Prince William, who, after careful inquiry into his character and qualifications, appointed him as his wife’s physician. Hutton, leaving nothing to chance, had taken considerable pains to secure this post by obtaining favourable references from Sir William Trumbull* and travelling into Germany to meet William’s confidant Hon. Henry Sidney†. An arrangement was devised whereby Hutton served for a trial period with Sidney, followed by a formal introduction to William. He clearly made a favourable impression, for not only did he serve Mary until the Revolution, but was then promoted to the rank of first royal physician with a salary of £400 p.a. Although Hutton obtained official pre-eminence among royal physicians, he was not placed in sole charge of the King’s health. Others were consulted and inevitable disagreements ensued. On one occasion the very idea of calling for Hutton’s opinion caused Dr John Radcliffe* to storm out of a medical meeting ‘as if frightened at the name’. Hutton was a great admirer of William III and enjoyed recounting anecdotes of the King’s bravery and equanimity. These were based on first-hand experience of campaigning in Ireland and Flanders, for Hutton was present at the battle of the Boyne in 1690 and, in addition to his personal attendance upon the King, acted as physician-general to the army. These duties carried an additional allowance of 10s. per day, which inevitably fell into arrears. In January 1701 Hutton successfully petitioned for payment, but was not granted the full extent of his claim. He was merely awarded £494 for ‘those particular years in which he served’, namely from April 1690 to December 1692. He was not entirely satisfied with this outcome and, following the death of the King, petitioned for an additional sum of over £3,000. This was never paid, nor were sundry other arrears, including riding and travelling charges. Hutton found little favour with the new court, being retained on Queen Anne’s establishment only for the first six months of the reign.3

Loss of place may well have prompted Hutton’s subsequent involvement in Tory machinations with the Hanoverian court. He became an agent for the Earl of Rochester (Laurence Hyde†), visiting the Electoral court in February 1703. Rochester was determined to revenge himself on his niece, the Queen, having been recently dismissed from office. Establishing contact via Hutton was part of a scheme to engineer a parliamentary invitation to the Electress, or perhaps the Electoral Prince (the future George II), to reside in Britain. This manoeuvre was designed to place the ministers in a dilemma, forcing them either to forfeit the Queen’s esteem by acquiescing in an initiative of which she disapproved or to appear anti-Hanoverian. The party animus behind this intended ‘Hanoverian motion’ became stronger after the dismissal of other High Tory ministers in April 1704. Not only did the Tories now focus their resentment more directly upon Anne, but the continuing uncertainty of the succession in Scotland also gave convenient weight to arguments in favour of an overture to Hanover. Hutton returned to Scotland, where he was suspected of being a spy, and in September 1705 re-embarked for Hanover where he remained for 15 months. During this period he inevitably became involved with Sir Rowland Gwynne*, who was also courting favour with Sophia; but Hutton’s mission remained a separate endeavour and was not tainted by the publication of Gwynne’s politically embarrassing Letter. Hutton kept his lobbying private: he gathered information at court and relayed this to Rochester and other important figures in England, including the archbishop of Canterbury. His analysis of the political situation was coloured by his own support for the scheme. Although he was correct in his assessment that Sophia looked on the Tories as her friends and would have welcomed an invitation to Britain, his assertion that her son, the Elector, approved of this measure was ill-founded.4

Hutton approved of the union with Scotland, reporting to the Electress that it had been secured by ‘patriots’, who had considered ‘the good of their country, the settling of the Protestant succession . . . with the preservation of their peace and religion’. He regretted the opposition of many Scottish Presbyterian ministers, who were ‘afraid of the church government as settled in England’, and likewise censured those Anglicans, who were ‘afraid of the Presbyterians growing too strong’. The Union having passed in Scotland, however, Hutton confidently predicted that, despite some ‘faint objections’, it would meet with ‘very little opposition’ at Westminster. The creation of a united Parliament, moreover, provided Hutton with new political opportunities. He exploited his Scottish connexions and eventually obtained a seat at Westminster. He had been careful to maintain links with his native shire, and was consequently known there as ‘a very rich man . . . of great acquaintance at London and interest with the Revolution-men at Court’, who might ‘procure favours to the places he represents’. Hutton claimed that it was only at the behest of his Scottish friends that he considered standing for Dumfries Burghs in 1708. He cleverly attempted not only to appear an unwilling candidate but simultaneously sought the support of the incompatible electoral interests of the Duke of Queensberry and the Marquess of Annandale. In the face of two strong challengers, however, he withdrew prior to the election.5

The ministerial revolution of 1710 was greatly to Hutton’s taste and, in September, he treated the Elector to a diatribe against the outgoing ministers. The Queen, he maintained, would have acted four years ago, but had been prevented by the corruption of the last two Parliaments and by the ‘tricks and chicane[ry] of Lord Godolphin [Sidney†] and his party’. He was relieved at the defeat of this ‘oligarchy which tyrannized and threatened so long the Queen and the British nations’. He accused the Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill†) of having ‘set himself up as a Protector’ and reported that his health had been drunk by his followers ‘under that fine title’. His knowledge of court politics was also evident in his assessment of the Duchess of Marlborough as a ‘peevish woman’ who had given the Queen ‘so much abuse’. Now that the Queen was free from this influence, she would be able ‘to transact business in peace’. Communications between the two courts would become more straightforward and it was imperative that any offer for Sophia to come to England should not be refused. In a further letter in November, he wrote with the approval of Robert Harley* to moot the idea of Lord Rivers (Richard Savage*) being sent to Hanover as an extraordinary envoy. Hutton assured the Elector of the ministerial commitment to the war until a safe and honourable peace could be obtained for Britain and her allies. He could not, however, resist repeating his fears about the potential threat to the Hanoverian succession and argued that there were many people who were strongly persuaded that this would never be secure while the successor remained outside the kingdom. He also notified the Elector that he had been recently elected to Parliament and offered to be a channel of political information. This suggestion was treated politely rather than effusively. Hutton was later thanked for his services in general and for his ‘good offices’ towards the Hanoverian diplomat Bothmer during his residence in Britain. Hutton was successful at Dumfries Burghs in 1710 because he had not allowed his previous lack of success to deter him. Rather, in the interim, he had striven to make himself useful to the district. More importantly, he was the first candidate in the field prior to the election and outmanoeuvred his only serious challenger, a fellow London-based Scot, William Paterson.6

Hutton was classified as a Court Tory by Richard Dongworth, the Duchess of Buccleuch’s chaplain, and was listed both as a ‘Tory patriot’ who opposed the continuance of the war and as a ‘worthy patriot’ who exposed the mismanagements of the previous administration. He is not known to have spoken in debate and the Journals do not indicate a high level of parliamentary activity. On 9 June 1711 he told with his fellow Scots Tory, Charles Oliphant, against a Lords’ amendment on a linen manufacturing bill. At the beginning of the second session, Hutton supported an abortive motion on 12 Dec. that the second reading of Edward Wortley Montagu’s place bill ought to take precedence over supply. On 29 Jan. he presented a petition from the Scottish divine, William Carstares, that proceedings on the Scottish toleration bill should be deferred until ‘the sense of the Church of Scotland were heard upon this matter’. Reputedly the ‘only person in favour with the Earl of Oxford (Robert Harley*) among the Scots Members’, Hutton was entrusted with this task in the hope that it might ‘engage [the] Court in the affair’, but the plan misfired for ‘the employing him has disgruntled the English Whigs, who stand firm against the Earl of Oxford, and none of them appeared in favour of the petition’, which was negated without a division. Hutton was absent on the division of 7 Feb. upon the bill itself.7

Hutton died, unmarried, in December 1712. The uncertainty surrounding the destination of his fortune had excited interest, even jealousy and resentment, among his acquaintances. Some judged him harshly because he had risen from obscurity. To Alexander Cunningham, the contemporary historian, Hutton was both ‘a man of mean descent, and ungrateful to his friends’. He was not, however, forgetful of his origins, bequeathing £1,000 for a charitable trust for the poor of Caerlaverock. The bulk of his fortune was granted to relations and friends, comprising four annuities of £10 p.a. and individual bequests totalling over £1,800. The unspecified remainder went to his cousin and sole executor, Thomas Hutton, keeper of Somerset House, who had earlier provided lodgings there for Hutton and now complied with his request for burial in the chapel.8

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: David Wilkinson


  • 1. Info. from M. Stewart, Dumfries Archs. Centre.
  • 2. DNB; CSP Dom. 1689–90, pp. 312, 570.
  • 3. DNB; P. H. McKerlie, Hist. Land and Land Owners in Galloway, iii. 332–7; J. Sinclair, The Statistical Acct. of Scotland, iv. 22; HMC Downshire, i. 175, 207, 215, 198–9, 202–3, 209, 215; CSP Dom. 1689–90, pp. 312, 525, 570; 1690–1, pp. 308, 373–4, 549–50; Cal. Treas. Bks. ix. 393, 1127, 1129; xvi. 31, 48, 186, 218; xvii. 119, 283, 482, 1005, 1021, 1024, 1027, 1195; xxv. 622; Cal. Treas. Pprs. 1702–7, p. 92; Vernon–Shrewsbury Letters, iii. 97; Burnet, iv. 106–7.
  • 4. E. Gregg, Q. Anne, 182–3, 210–11; Marlborough–Godolphin Corresp. 161; Add. 61124, f. 21; Cunningham, Hist. GB, i. 360; Clarendon Corresp. ed. Singer, ii. 459–60; E. Carpenter, Tenison, 417–18, 422; HMC Portland, iv. 292–3; Annandale mss at Raehills, bdle. 602, Hutton to Annandale, 22 Apr. 1708.
  • 5. Stowe 223, ff. 10–11; Annandale mss, bdle. 602, W. [?Welch] to Annandale, 3 May 1708, Hutton to same, 22 Apr. 1708.
  • 6. Orig. Pprs. ed. Macpherson, ii. 189, 206; Stowe 223, ff. 372–7, 424–5, 437; 224, ff. 75, 126; Dumfries Archs. Centre, Dumfries burgh recs. RB2/2/39, Hutton to John Crosbie, 21 May 1709; Add. 70292, Paterson to [Harley], 14 Oct., same to Queensberry, 26 Sept. 1710, 12 Oct. 1710.
  • 7. SHR, lx. 64; SRO, Mar and Kellie mss GD124/15/1020/2, Sir James Dunbar* to Ld. Grange (Hon. James Erskine†), 12 Dec. 1710; Wodrow, Analecta ii. 5.
  • 8. Annandale mss, bdle. 602, W. [?Welch] to Annandale, 3 May 1708; Cunningham, 360; Boyer, Anne Annals, xi. 399; PCC 236 Barnes; Dumfries Archs. Centre, Registered Mortification of John Hutton (1719); McKerlie, iii. 332–7; HMC Cowper, iii. 97.