Linlithgow Burghs


Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Background Information

Peebles (1715, '41); Linlithgow (1722, '47); Selkirk (1727); Lanark (1734)

Number of voters:



13 Apr. 1722DANIEL WEIR
 George Douglas
16 Apr. 1725JOHN MURRAY vice Weir, deceased
 William Fraser
9 Sept. 1727JOHN MURRAY
  Double return. MACKYE declared elected, 25 Jan. 1742
 James Carmichael
 CARMICHAEL vice Dundas, on petition, 17 Mar. 1748

Main Article

Lanark was influenced by the earls of Hyndford, Peebles by the earls of March, Selkirk by John Murray, the hereditary sheriff of Selkirkshire, Linlithgow by the Tory dukes of Hamilton.

Colonel George Douglas, afterwards 13th Earl of Morton, who had represented the Burghs as a Whig from 1708 to 1713, was unopposed in 1715. Defeated in 1722 by Daniel Weir, he petitioned unsuccessfully on the ground that Weir had been returned by the casting vote of the presiding burgh, Linlithgow, whose delegate had been illegally chosen. On Weir’s death in 1725, John Murray defeated William Fraser by the votes of Lanark, Selkirk and Peebles. Fraser petitioned on the ground that Lanark’s vote had been cast by an illegally chosen delegate, who, as sheriff of Selkirkshire, was in any case ineligible. The Lanark vote was confirmed by the House of Commons, who also declared that since Selkirk was not the presiding burgh, Murray was eligible, as he was not the returning officer.1 Murray was unopposed in 1727, as was James Carmichael, the Earl of Hyndford’s son, in 1734.

In 1741 Carmichael, a government supporter, was involved in a double return with an opposition Whig backed by the Dukes of Hamilton and Argyll. Carmichael had only the votes of Peebles, the presiding burgh, whose clerk was the returning officer, his opponents having those of Linlithgow, Selkirk and Lanark. On 27 Jan. 1742 the Opposition carried a motion that the merits of the election should be heard at the bar, together with the merits of the return, whereupon Carmichael withdrew.2

In 1747 George Dundas put up his son but withdrew him when Pelham and Argyll (the former Lord Ilay) gave Carmichael their support. On this Lawrence Dundas, George’s nephew by marriage, stood independently against Carmichael, using his considerable wealth to bribe Linlithgow, which was again the presiding burgh, and Selkirk. He was successful, but only through Linlithgow’s casting vote. On petition Carmichael was awarded the seat on the ground that the council of Selkirk had refused to take the oath against bribery when electing their representative.3

Author: R. S. Lea


  • 1. CJ, xx. 31, 522, 681.
  • 2. CJ, xxiv. 19-20, 56.
  • 3. CJ, xxv. 427, 579-80.