Scottish County

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

Background Information

Alternated with Caithness

Number of voters:

about 15


28 Feb. 1710JOHN MONTGOMERIE,  vice Stewart, appointed to office
21 Sept. 1713JOHN CAMPBELL

Main Article

The county of Buteshire, comprising Bute itself and some smaller islands nearby, was under the control of the hereditary sheriff, who at the beginning of this period was James Stewart of Ardmaliesh, created Earl of Bute in 1703. He and his brother Dougal, whom the Earl returned to the first Parliament of Great Britain, were men of cavalier sympathies but drawn to the Court, and in particular to the Duke of Queensberry, with whom they had long co-operated. The Court peer Lord Ross, writing in the summer of 1708, after the election, assumed that the Buteshire seat was at the ministry’s disposal: if Dougal Stewart, a lawyer, were to be advanced to a place in the court of session, he told Lord Sunderland (Charles, Lord Spencer*), ‘I have good reason to believe that the Earl of Bute . . . will put into Buteshire any person your lordship would recommend’. And in due course, after Stewart’s elevation, Bute returned to the vacancy Queensberry’s under-secretary John Montgomerie I of Wrae, who was provided with an appropriate property qualification in January 1710, shortly before the meeting of the electoral court.1

Since Buteshire alternated its representation, the freeholders did not participate in the general election of 1710, and by 1713 there had been a dynastic change in the Stewart family. Lord Bute had been succeeded by his son, who as a brother-in-law of the 2nd Duke of Argyll effectively handed over the seat to the Campbells. The candidate, decided upon as early as May 1713, was to be Argyll’s cousin ‘Jack’ Campbell of Mamore, who was duly provided with an appropriate landed property, which he agreed beforehand, in writing, to ‘redispone’ to Bute as soon as the election was over. As the time for the electoral court approached, Bute suffered a tremor of apprehension at the prospect of opposition (from an unnamed source), evidently centring on a personal objection to the candidate, for Argyll’s brother Lord Ilay responded with the following practical advice:

the best way will be to procure to any little creature of yours a greater number of votes than Jack’s competitor has, so that afterwards, by the time Jack will be capacitate, it will be easy to incapacitate the other by giving him for a while any waiter’s place . . . in the customs or excise, which voids the election.

Happily for Campbell, the threatened objection failed to materialize, and he was returned ‘unanimously’.2

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. Add. 61631, f. 80; SRO, Hamilton mss GD406/1/5554, John Hamilton to the Duke of Hamilton, 16 Aug. 1709; SRO Indexes, iii. 607.
  • 2. Herts. RO, Panshanger mss D/EP F54, ff. 8-9; Bute (Loudoun) mss at Dumfries House, A543, Hon. John Campbell* to Bute, 30 May [1713], Ilay to same, 22 Aug. 1713 (ex inf. Dr C. Jones); Scots Courant, 21-23 Sept. 1713.