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

Number of voters:

about 30


19 Oct. 1710JOHN PRINGLE
26 Dec. 1711PRINGLE re-elected after appointment to office

Main Article

The influence of the Murrays of Philiphaugh, hereditary sheriffs of Selkirkshire, was so powerful that in terms of electoral politics the county was quite moribund. Sir James Murray had been deprived of office in 1680 for being ‘remiss in punishing conventicles’, but at the Revolution was raised to the session bench as Lord Philiphaugh and reinstated as sheriff. The two commissioners returned by him to the Scottish parliament in 1702 were his brother John Murray* of Bowhill and future son-in-law John Pringle of Haining. Philiphaugh, who sat ex officio as lord clerk register in 1702-4 and again from 1705, was closely allied with the Duke of Queensberry and had thus fallen victim to the ‘New Party’ experiment. After the return to power of the old Court party, Philiphaugh and his members proved conspicuously loyal over the Union. Both Murray and Pringle were rewarded with inclusion in the contingent of Scottish representatives to the first Parliament of Great Britain. No competition arose between them at the 1708 election, Murray having preferred a place in the court of session to a seat at Westminster. Without opposition Pringle was returned by Philiphaugh in his last significant act as sheriff before his death in July 1708.1

Pringle was re-elected in 1710 on the recommendation of Philiphaugh’s son and heir John Murray†. Sir William Scot of Thirlestane had considered putting up, on the assumption that Pringle would not continue, but was persuaded to ‘give over thoughts of it’ by Lord Mar, who informed him that Pringle was ‘positive to stand’. Having retained his seat in 1711 when obliged to submit himself once more to the electorate on appointment to office, Pringle did observe a glimmer of opposition prior to the next general election. A political cause may be discerned in his continuing association with Lord Treasurer Oxford (Robert Harley*) despite the malt tax crisis and the campaign to dissolve the Union. Sir William Scot reported to Mar’s brother in August 1713: ‘I told your grace I was spoke to set up in opposition to John Pringle in our shire at this time, by one, once a Tory, now I think turned angry Whig’. Scot feared, however, that success would be ‘impossible . . . without making such a division in the shire as would perhaps exclude me for ever’. Discontent thus silenced, Pringle secured another ‘unanimous’ return.2

Author: D. W. Hayton


  • 1. Hist. Scot. Parl. 523, 529-30; Orig. Pprs. ed. Macpherson, ii. 11; P. W. J. Riley, Union, 50, 103, 118, 330-1.
  • 2. SRO, Mar and Kellie mss GD124/15/975/11, Mar to Ld. Grange (Hon. James Erskine†), 29 July 1710; GD124/15/1105, Scot to Grange, 23 Aug. 1713; Scots Courant, 2-4 Jan. 1712, 2-5 Oct. 1713.