Inverness Burghs


Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 1970
Available from Boydell and Brewer

Background Information

Fortrose (1715, '41), Ross-shire; Inverness (1722, '47); Nairn (1727); Forres (1734), Elginshire

Number of voters:



 Duncan Forbes
 FORBES vice Gordon, on petition, 23 Oct. 1722
30 June 1725FORBES re-elected after appointment to office
21 July 1737DUNCAN URQUHART vice Forbes, appointed to office
28 May 1741KENNETH MACKENZIE, Lord Fortrose

Main Article

In 1715 the strongest interest in Inverness and Forres was that of the Forbes family of Culloden; Fortrose was controlled by the Earl of Seaforth, attainted for his part in the rebellion of that year; Nairn by Hugh Rose of Kilravock. The sitting Member, William Steuart, supported by the Forbes and Rose interests, was opposed by Seaforth’s brother, Alexander Mackenzie, who withdrew, leaving Steuart to be returned unopposed.

In 1722 the rival candidates were two Whigs, Duncan Forbes, standing on his family’s interest, and Alexander Gordon, a member of the Squadrone. Forbes obtained the votes of three of the four delegates; Gordon only one, his own, as the delegate of Fortrose. Though a return in Forbes’s favour was made by the common clerk of the presiding burgh, the deputy sheriff, Gordon’s kinsman, accepted a return in Gordon’s favour by another official. On petition the House of Commons, deciding that Gordon’s return had been made ‘by a person that had no right to make the return as not clerk of the presiding borough’, awarded the seat to Forbes ‘upon several of the Scotch Members affirming that was the true return’. The deputy sheriff was ordered to attend the House, who committed him to the serjeant at arms for making a false return, in contravention of the Act prescribing the method of return.1

Forbes was re-elected without opposition till his elevation to the bench in 1737, when he brought in his nephew, Duncan Urquhart, who was succeeded in 1741 by Seaforth’s son, Lord Fortrose, backed by Lord Ilay, Walpole’s election manager for Scotland.

In 1747 the administration candidate was Alexander Brodie of Brodie, lord lyon king of arms. Lord Fortrose, who had bought back the forfeited Seaforth estates, thereby gaining control of Fortrose, encouraged Hugh Rose of Kilravock to offer himself as a rival candidate. On this Brodie wrote to Forbes, asking him ‘to signify to Kilravock [Forbes’s brother-in-law] your inclinations for me, that he may believe your Lordship is in earnest for me’.2 He also threatened that if Rose did not withdraw he would oppose John Campbell, the administration candidate for Nairnshire. On 30 June 1747 Sir Ludovick Grant wrote to Pelham:

I was yesterday at a meeting with my friends Fortrose and Kilravock at Nairn, when these two gentlemen yielded their interest to the lyon in the buroughs and I may say their chief motive was to oblige you and to make our friend Mr. Campbell of Calder’s election sure for the county of Nairn.3

Brodie was returned unopposed.

Author: J. M. Simpson


  • 1. Knatchbull Diary, 23 Oct. 1722, 22 Feb. 1723; CJ, xx. 31, 36-37, 146.
  • 2. More Culloden Pprs. v. 188.
  • 3. Newcastle (Clumber) mss.