RIDDELL, Sir John Buchanan, 9th Bt. (c.1768-1819), of Riddell, Roxburgh.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1812 - 21 Apr. 1819

Family and Education

b. c.1768, 3rd s. of Sir John Riddell, 6th Bt., of Riddell by Jane, da. and event. h. of James Buchanan of Sandon, Beds. educ. L. Inn 1784. m. 17 Aug. 1805, Lady Frances Marsham, da. of Charles Marsham, 1st Earl of Romney, 4s. 5da. suc. bro. Sir James Buchanan Riddell as 9th Bt. 4 Sept. 1784.

Offices Held

Sheriff, Beds. 1792-3; lt.-col. 2 batt. Roxburgh vols. 1803.


Riddell had scarcely been admitted at Lincoln’s Inn when his two elder brothers died in rapid succession, leaving him heir to the family estates. On 14 July 1797 he was in hot water over the allegation of a soldier who had robbed him that Riddell had made ‘a beastly suggestion’ to him.1 Later that year, Lord Minto was informed that Riddell aspired to a seat for the county of Roxburgh and was entitled to the support of the ‘independent party’ towards whom he had ‘always deported himself so handsomely’.2 As Minto had received a peerage and his son was a youth, he had no objection, but no opening arose for Riddell. Subsequently he became hostile to Minto and jealous of his son’s candidature in 1806, when he evidently hoped that the 3rd Duke of Buccleuch might bring him in for Selkirkshire. He was perhaps encouraged by a bait held out to him by John Rutherfurd* who, in exchange for Riddell’s support in Roxburgh, hinted that he might induce Buccleuch to return Riddell for Selkirk; but according to Lady Minto, ‘Sir John is absolutely detested by the duke and Lord Dalkeith’.3 His hopes were again dashed in February 1808 when, imagining the sitting Member Rutherfurd to be at death’s door, he privately canvassed Roxburghshire and introduced family prayers into his household, only to see Rutherfurd recover. At Michaelmas 1809 he was reported still interested and in January 1811 to be ‘preparing for a canvass’: but that month Buccleuch preferred the candidature of Alexander Don* to whom Riddell felt obliged to cede his support: ‘rather than give up the little twig of hope he cannot bear to yield up entirely, for better times and his being a candidate’. Soon afterwards he was urging Lord Holland and Lord Hardwicke to support the Berwick and Kelso railway bill in Parliament.4

On 24 Mar. 1812 Riddell invited Buccleuch to make up for previous disappointments by returning him for Linlithgow Burghs at the next election. On 1 Oct. the duke at length saw his way clear to supporting Riddell, who warned him next day that he felt obliged to give a ‘qualified support’ to Catholic relief. Buccleuch was satisfied with general ‘unison’. Assured of Selkirk and Lanark, Riddell secured Peebles on the understanding that he was a friend of government and, had he not been thus secure, would have been prepared to withdraw in favour of another ministerialist. He was returned unopposed.5

Riddell appeared on the Treasury list of supporters after his election, but missed the opening of the session, was scarcely a regular attender and never uttered in debate. He duly voted for Catholic relief, on 24 May 1813 and 9 May 1817. He was also in the minority against extra newspaper duties, 8 June 1815, and on the choice of Speaker, 2 June 1817, and voted for criminal law reform, 2 Mar. 1819. He stood by government on the property tax, 18 Mar. 1816, and on the case of Wyndham Quin*, 29 Mar. 1819. In September 1817 he was ‘imprisoned’ by rheumatism, but eager to secure re-election; Buccleuch was able to accommodate him. He retained the seat after a contest, though had Sir Alexander Don given up Roxburghshire, he hoped to represent that county. Riddell was chosen for the Poor Law committee, to which he had previously given evidence from Scotland. He died 21 Apr. 1819, a day after his patron. According to Sir Walter Scott, he ‘bored everybody to death’.6

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. NLS mss 11151, f. 96.
  • 2. Ibid. 11139, f. 118.
  • 3. Ibid. 11079, ff. 142, 147.
  • 4. Ibid. 11081, f. 247: 11087, ff. 72, 165; 11804, Hon. G. to W. Elliot, 12 Feb. 1808; Add. 35649, f. 175; 51825, Riddell to Holland, 3 Apr. 1811.
  • 5. SRO GD224/580; see LINLITHGOW BURGHS.
  • 6. SRO GD224/580, Riddell to Buccleuch, 16 Nov. 1812, 28 Sept., 16 Dec., replies 18, 20 Dec. 1817, 13 June 1818; Scott Letters ed. Grierson, v. 385.