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

Background Information

Number of voters:

about 40 in 1742


27 May 1715POLLOCK re-elected after appointment to office
 Sir Robert Pollock
21 Sept. 1727SIR JOHN SHAW
23 Dec. 1742WILLIAM MURE vice Cuninghame, deceased
 Sir Michael Stewart
24 July 1747WILLIAM MURE

Main Article

The hereditary sheriff of the county, the Earl of Eglintoun, does not appear to have intervened in Renfrewshire elections, in which the Earls of Dundonald and Glencairn sponsored candidates. By 1719 Sir Robert Pollock, a strong Whig, who had been returned for the third time in 1715, had apparently given offence to some of his supporters by his voting record.1It was therefore believed that Lord Dundonald could give the next election ‘to either of the gentlemen who now suit for it, or neither of them’, as the interest of Pollock’s rival did ‘not as yet extend to above four or five’, nor that of Pollock to ‘much above that number’.2 Early in 1722 Pollock himself was ‘sorry to hear that those whom I reckon on should give ground to suspect them’.3 Meanwhile, Dundonald had been succeeded by an infant son, whose kinsman, Thomas Cochrane, defeated Pollock.

Before the 1727 election Robert Wodrow, a local parson, noted in July 1726 that the Duke of Argyll had stayed with Sir John Shaw, a local landowner, who controlled Greenock. ‘On Sabbath they came not to church. There, its said, Sir John brought the Duke to stand for his election from this shire of Renfrew.’ A year later he wrote that ‘Sir John Shaw may probably carry it. He has a great deal to say from his considerable friends, President Stair [his father-in-law], Colonel [Charles] Cathcart [his son-in-law], etc.’ One month before the election and despite an alliance between the opposing interests of 1722, Wodrow forecast: ‘In this shire ... Sir Robert Pollock, though once very fair for it, by my Lord Dundonald’s coming into him, yet Sir John Shaw [will be] carried by his considerable friends’. Pollock did not stand a poll, leaving Shaw to be returned unopposed.4

In 1734 and 1741 Alexander Cuninghame of Craigends, an opposition Whig, was returned on the interest of his kinsman, the Earl of Glencairn. At a by-election caused by his death in 1742, William Mure of Caldwell, supported by the Dundonald interest, defeated Sir Michael Stewart of Blackhall, who was connected with Sir John Shaw and had the backing of Cuninghame’s friends. According to an estimate given to Mure a month before the poll he then had 18 votes, Stewart 13, 6 voters were absent, and 2 uncertain.5 In 1747 Pelham proposed to replace Mure, who had consistently opposed the Administration, by a government supporter on the Glencairn interest, but nothing came of this and Mure was again returned.6

Author: J. M. Simpson


  • 1. See POLLOCK, Sir Robert.
  • 2. Caldwell Pprs. i. 238.
  • 3. Pollock to Robt. Wodrow, 12 Jan., 10 Feb. 1722, NLS, Wodrow Letters 15, ff. 86, 91.
  • 4. Wodrow’s Analecta (Maitland Club), iii. 317, 431, 435.
  • 5. Caldwell Pprs, ii(1), 42-46.
  • 6. ‘Present and proposed Members for Scotland’, and Argyll to Pelham, 6 Aug. 1747, Newcastle (Clumber) mss.