Linlithgow Burghs

Single Member Scottish burgh

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Background Information

Selkirk (1754, ’80); Lanark (1761, ’84); Peebles (1768); Linlithgow (1774)


9 May 1754John Murray 
20 Apr. 1761John Lockhart 
11 Apr. 1768John Lockhart Ross (formerly Lockhart) 
29 Dec. 1768James Dickson vice Lockhart Ross, chose to sit for Lanarkshire 
9 Jan. 1772Sir James Cockburn vice Dickson, deceased 
31 Oct. 1774Sir James Cockburn3
 James Dundas1
2 Oct. 1780Sir James Cockburn 
26 Apr. 1784John Moore 

Main Article

Lanark was influenced by the Earl of Hyndford; Peebles by Lord March; the Duke of Hamilton and Sir Lawrence Dundas contended for control of Linlithgow; and Selkirk was usually influenced by the Duke of Buccleuch, and during the minority of the 3rd Duke by the Pringles of Haining.

In 1747 Sir Lawrence Dundas contested the constituency against Lord Hyndford’s brother, was elected, but unseated on petition. By September 1753 Dundas had begun ‘his work of treating and bribing’ in Linlithgow and Selkirk in preparation for the forthcoming general election. But John Murray of Philiphaugh, supported by the Duke of Argyll, carried Lanark, Peebles, and Selkirk against Dundas.1 Murray did not stand in 1761 and was replaced by John Lockhart (later Lockhart Ross).

In 1768 Lockhart Ross contested both Lanarkshire and Linlithgow Burghs, and was opposed in both constituencies by the Hamilton interest. The Hamiltons held Linlithgow, but Lockhart Ross, with Lanark and Peebles, the returning burgh, was safe. When Lockhart Ross chose to sit for Lanarkshire, the guardians of the Duke of Hamilton tried to do a deal with John Murray, a close friend of Lord March; but March’s interest was given to James Dickson, who was returned apparently unopposed.2

By 1771, when Dickson died, this was the situation in these four burghs: the Hamilton interest had strengthened their hold on Linlithgow; Archibald Douglas, the successful claimant in the Douglas cause, was now the patron of Lanark; March’s interest in Peebles was declining; and the Duke of Buccleuch, now of age, was assuming the lead in Selkirk. At the by-election following Dickson’s death the Hamilton guardians endorsed the candidature of Sir James Cockburn, a rich merchant and director of the East India Company, recommended by Sir George Colebrooke.3 Cockburn spent heavily and was returned unopposed. At the general election of 1774 Cockburn was opposed by James Dundas of Dundas, the candidate of Sir Lawrence Dundas. Cockburn took Selkirk and Peebles; and Dundas, having won Lanark, spent lavishly but vainly on Linlithgow, the returning burgh.4

At the general election of 1784 Cockburn was replaced by John Moore, the former travelling companion and close friend of the Duke of Hamilton.

Author: John Brooke


  • 1. Argyll to Pelham, 15 Oct., 5 Nov. 1753, Newcastle (Clumber) mss; Add. 32732, f. 599; 32736, f. 369; 32854, f. 34; T. Craig Brown, Hist. Selkirkshire, ii. 116.
  • 2. Caldwell Pprs. ii (2), pp. 94, 147-148; And. Stuart to Wm. Mure, 3 Oct. 1766, Caldwell mss; Hist. Selkirkshire, ii. 119; Ld. Elibank to James Murray, Oct. 1768, Elibank mss.
  • 3. Caldwell Pprs. ii(2), pp. 188-9.
  • 4. J. W. Buchan, Hist. Peeblesshire, ii. 106; corresp. in Buccleuch mss.