Haddington Burghs

Scottish burgh

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

Haddington (1708); Jedburgh (1710), Roxburghshire; Dunbar (1713), North Berwick, Haddingtonshire; Lauder, Berwickshire


 Lord William Hay
15 Dec. 1709DALRYMPLE re-elected after appointment to office
 ? William Maitland

Main Article

The burghs in this district were spread across three counties, but Haddington, Dunbar and North Berwick, all lying within Haddingtonshire, predominated. Those of Jedburgh and Lauder (respectively in Roxburghshire and Berwickshire) only offered weak threats to the hegemony of the Dalrymples in this period. The influence of this family with the Court party outweighed the rumblings of discontent which had been evident in the anti-Union petitions of Dunbar and Lauder. Sir Hew Dalrymple, 1st Bt., lord president of the court of session, had represented North Berwick in the last Scottish parliament. After the Union, he transferred his interest to his brother. A leading ministerialist and landed proprietor in the county, Sir David Dalrymple exerted considerable sway in his own right, and there was no challenge from any of the other former burgh commissioners: Sir David Cunningham, 1st Bt. (Lauder), had died; Alexander Edgar (Haddington) had recently retired from public life on account of ill health; and neither Walter Scot (Jedburgh) nor Robert Kellie (Dunbar) offered themselves for the district. There was, however, a challenge from the Squadrone magnate the Marquess of Tweeddale, on behalf of one of his younger sons, Lord William Hay. His candidacy was apparently carried forward to the election itself, for the manuscript return records that Dalrymple was elected by ‘plurality’. A by-election in December, caused by Dalrymple’s appointment as lord advocate, saw the sitting Member unanimously returned.1

Although Dalrymple remained in office on the changeover to the ministry of Robert Harley* in 1710, his relationship with government was uneasy. While ministers had cause to complain of his electoral conduct in Berwickshire and elsewhere, this was partly prompted by resentment at interference in Haddington Burghs by one of the Earl of Mar’s Tory followers, Lord Home, who had ‘been trying to debauch Lauder’ from Dalrymple. This ploy was unsuccessful, but it was reported that ‘if it had succeeded, Haddington and Jedburgh, both somewhat Tory, were to have been attempted, but his lordship having failed, it went no further’. The Tory inclinations of these two burghs were confirmed by their addresses in 1712, congratulating the Queen on the peace and thanking her for the Toleration Act. The latter measure found particular favour in Haddington where there was a tenacious episcopalian tradition, but Dalrymple’s opposition to the Act does not appear to have damaged his relationship with the burgh. The Toryism of Jedburgh, or at least some of its citizens, was further evidenced in the Jacobite rebellion of 1715.2

Dalrymple was dismissed from office in 1711, but his hold on the constituency did not decline in consequence. This was partly due to his support of Dunbar in a protracted property dispute with the Duke of Roxburghe and his mother. Indeed, the electoral commissioner for Dunbar was instructed to vote for Dalrymple in 1713. In the run-up to the election one contemporary deemed Dalrymple ‘sure of being chosen’. According to a report sent from Edinburgh on the day of the election, Dalrymple triumphed over William Maitland by four votes to one. This candidate, about whom nothing has been ascertained, may in fact have withdrawn before the election, since the return makes no mention of a contest, nor are the votes noted in the records of the presiding burgh; Maitland’s surname, however, suggests a connexion with the Lauderdale interest at Lauder. Dalrymple, having been restored to office by George I in 1714, was re-elected the following year and retained the seat until his death.3

Author: David Wilkinson


  • 1. Hist. Scot. Parl. 168, 174-5, 221-2, 386, 620; P. W. J. Riley, Union, 278, 331-4; Lockhart Mems. ed. Szechi, 150; APS, xi. 338, 359; SRO, Mar and Kellie mss GD124/15/762/9, George Erskine to Ld. Grange (Hon. James Erskine†), 25 Mar. [1708]; Roxburghe mss at Floors Castle, bdle. 739, [-] to Countess of Roxburghe, 24 May 1708; C219/106; NLS, ms 25276/18-19, copy of election indenture, 15 Dec. 1709.
  • 2. SRO, Hume of Marchmont mss GD158/1257/4, Baillie to [Polwarth], 28 Oct. 1710; C219/110; London Gazette, 24-26 July, 20-23 Sept. 1712; Wodrow, Analecta, ii. 75; Christ Church, Oxf. Wake mss 5, f. 13; Trans. E. Lothian Antiq. and Naturalists’ Soc. viii. 83; xxi. 54; A. Jeffrey, Historical and Descriptive Acct. Roxburghshire 397-8; Lauderdale mss at Thirlestane Castle 2/19, list of rebels in Teviotdale [1715].
  • 3. Roxburghe mss, bdle. 726, 30 Jan. [?1711], Roxburghe to mother; bdle. 737, Dalrymple to Roxburghe, 15 Feb. 1711; bdle. 1061, Roxburghe and Hon. William Kerr* to mother, 13 Feb. 1710-11; bdle. 1075, Kerr to same, 21 Sept. 1711; bdle. 767, Roxburghe to same, 18 Nov. [1712]; SRO Dunbar burgh recs. B 18/13/2, ff.316, 320, council mins. 17 June, 14 Sept. 1713; Lockhart Letters ed. Szechi, 71; NLS, Sutherland mss Dep. 313/572, Alexander Ross to Sutherland, 17 Sept. 1713; C219/114.