MAITLAND, James, Visct. Maitland (1784-1860).

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



1806 - 1807
1818 - 1820
1826 - 1832

Family and Education

b. 12 Feb. 1784, 1st s of James Maitland†, 8th earl of Lauderdale [S] and 1st Bar. Lauderdale [UK], and Eleanor, da. and h. of Anthony Todd, sec. to the GPO, of Walthamstow, Essex; bro. of Hon. Sir Anthony Maitland*. educ. Eton 1791; Edinburgh Univ. unm. suc. fa. as 9th earl of Lauderdale [S] and 2nd Bar. Lauderdale [UK] 15 Sept. 1839. d. 22 Aug. 1860.

Offices Held

Ld. lt. Berwick 1841-60.


Maitland was overshadowed by his illustrious Foxite father Lord Lauderdale, a ‘violent tempered, shrewd, eccentric man, with a fluent tongue, a broad Scottish accent and a taste for political economy’. He was also the acknowledged leader of the Scottish Whigs until he veered towards Toryism from about 1820 and instrumental in securing the election of 12 anti-reformers among the 16 Scottish representative peers in 1831.1 Fever and rheumatism had curtailed Maitland’s attendance in the 1818 Parliament, when he sat for Richmond on the interest of his distant kinsman Lord Dundas, and he had yet to address or make an impression in the House when he stood down at the dissolution in 1820.2 Lauderdale chose not to return his sons to the 1820 Parliament and prepared to bring them in at the next opportunity as supporters of the Liverpool ministry. Thus Maitland, a deputy lieutenant of Haddingtonshire since 1822, became Member for Appleby in 1826 under a reciprocal arrangement with Lord Lonsdale, whose nominee General Adolphus Dalrymple was returned for Haddington Burghs on the Dalrymple and Lauderdale interests. His brother Anthony came in for Berwickshire.3

Assisting with his family’s constituency business, Maitland presented petitions from Lauder and West Berwickshire against altering the corn laws, 26 Feb. 1827.4 He divided with his brother for Catholic relief, 6 Mar., the award to the duke of Clarence, 16 Mar., and the spring guns bill, 23 Mar., but against the corn bill, 2 Apr., and for information on chancery delays, 5 Apr. 1827. He also voted against the Coventry magistracy bill, which Lonsdale’s Members strenuously opposed, 18 June 1827. Predictions that Lauderdale would back an aristocratic Whig coalition that year remained largely untested, and Lord John Hay* observed privately that Lord Binning*, who had aspired to manage Scotland for Canning’s ministry, ‘goes against his near political friends ... to overthrow the Maitlands’.5 He presented and endorsed petitions for repeal of the Test Acts, 27 Mar., and divided for Catholic relief, 12 May, and against the proposed pension for Canning’s family, 13 May 1828. He also manoeuvred in vain to secure the new Wellington ministry’s backing for the future candidature of his brother John in Stirling Burghs.6 The concession of Catholic emancipation in 1829 ‘delighted’ Lauderdale, and Maitland, who was considered as a possible mover of the address, was sent from Dunbar to vote for it, 6, 30 Mar.7 He divided to transfer East Retford’s seats to Birmingham, 15 Mar., and for Jewish emancipation, 5 Apr., but refrained from voting on the latter when government intervention secured its defeat, 17 May 1830.8 Before the general election that summer Lauderdale asked Lonsdale to return Maitland for Cockermouth instead of Appleby, under the ‘Westmorland Treaty’ negotiated between the Whig Henry Brougham*, Lonsdale and Lord Thanet; but Lonsdale preferred the 1826 arrangement and Maitland retained his Appleby seat.9

The Wellington ministry counted him among their ‘friends’ and he divided with them on the civil list when they were brought down, 15 Nov. 1830. He presented Scottish petitions for the abolition of colonial slavery, 23 Nov. 1830, 14 Apr. 1831. He privately expressed support for ‘peace and a paper currency’, but the prospect of a ‘ministry formed upon the principles of reform’, which threatened to curtail his father’s electoral influence, alarmed him. He divided against the second reading of the Grey ministry’s English reform bill, which proposed Appleby’s disfranchisement, 22 Mar., and for Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831.10 He came in again for Appleby at the ensuing general election and attended Dalrymple at great personal risk throughout the riotous contest for Haddington Burghs, where the Lauder baillie was abducted despite their endeavours, and a reformer returned.11 The Tory 5th duke of Buccleuch was informed in June 1831 that Maitland, who helped to secure Dalrymple’s return for Haddington Burghs on petition, 10 Aug., adhered to his father’s politics and well understood the details of the Scottish reform bill and the political implications of changing the burgh districts.12 He voted against the reintroduced English reform bill at its second reading, 6 July, and when the opposition met at Peel’s on the 11th, he agreed to ‘move the question of hearing the Appleby petitioners by the counsel’ to test party strength and jeopardize the bill.13 Doing so next day, he reiterated the petitioners’ case, based on the exclusion of the parish of St. Lawrence from the population total for Appleby in the 1821 census, but lost the division by 284-187. The Lowther press praised and the radical Carlisle Journal vilified his conduct.14 He voted against the bill’s committal, 12 July, and to make the 1831 census the criterion for English borough disfranchisements, 19 July, when, assisted by Croker and Peel, he moved for the transfer of Appleby from schedule A to B. Certain Whigs sympathized with his argument that the jurisdiction of the mayor and corporation applied to both the parishes of St. Michael and St. Lawrence, but Lord John Russell pointed to the difference between boroughs ‘including’ and ‘extending into’ two parishes and defeated the proposal by 302-228. Maitland voted against the partial disfranchisement of Chippenham, 27 July, and to preserve non-resident freemen’s voting rights, 30 Aug. He divided against the bill’s third reading, 19 Sept., and passage, 21 Sept., and the second reading of the Scottish reform bill, 23 Sept. 1831.

Maitland was the promoter of an anti-reform address from Berwickshire in December 1831.15 He voted against the revised English reform bill at its second reading, 17 Dec., and committal, 20 Jan. 1832, when he brought up another Appleby petition for its transfer to schedule B. Sir John Hobhouse* wrote that when he joined the ministry soon afterwards his friend

Maitland was the only man who did not seem pleased, but he gave the reasons, for, he said, ‘Of course you could not take the place were you not convinced of the permanence of the administration’. Now this showed his cause of vexation, for the Tories have announced the speedy dissolution of government and certainly my taking office would seem to point the other way.16

Maitland’s last-ditch attempt to refer Appleby’s case to a select committee failed by 256-143, 21 Feb., when, protesting at its ‘wanton’ disfranchisement, he attributed Appleby’s fate to the failure to define the limits of the borough when burgage tenure became the acknowledged franchise, errors by the boundary commissioners, and ministerial bias. He voted against the English bill at its third reading, 22 Mar., and the second reading of the Irish reform bill, 25 May. He divided against administration on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., and would have done so on the sugar duties, 7 Mar., but he and his friends at dinner at Charles Baring Wall’s* arrived too late.17 He presented petitions from Haddington against the Maynooth grant and the use of molasses in brewing and distilling, 20 July (and one from Dunbar on the latter issue, 18 Aug. 1831), and another from Dunbar against the Haddington court house bill, 28 Feb. 1832.

The prospect of defeat made Maitland relinquish his attempt to come in for Haddington Burghs at the general election of 1832 and he did not stand for Parliament again.18 He succeeded to his father’s estates and titles in 1839 and became a co-partner with Anthony and the attorney F.W. Vizzard in mining enterprises in Yorkshire and Cornwall.19 He died unmarried at his Berwickshire seat, Thirlestane Castle, in August 1860, recalled as a ‘well-made, square, strong and athletic man’ who could outwalk his gamekeepers but ‘took very little part in public affairs’. His estates and titles passed to Anthony. 20

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Margaret Escott


  • 1. Oxford DNB; Cockburn Jnl. 17.
  • 2. Add. 51692, Lauderdale to Holland [1819].
  • 3. Addl. Thirlstane mss (NRA 10211) 67/12; Wentworth Woodhouse mun. WWM F48/160; Lansdowne mss, Minto to Lansdowne, 25 Dec. 1824; Westmld. Advertiser, 17 June; Scotsman, 5 July 1826.
  • 4. The Times, 27 Feb. 1827.
  • 5. NLS mss 14441, f. 24.
  • 6. A. Mitchell, Whigs in Opposition, 207; J.J. Sack, The Grenvillites, 185, 210; Wellington mss WP1/921/1.
  • 7. Add. 40395, f. 85; Wellington mss WP1/995/13.
  • 8. Wellington mss WP1/1127/6; Scotsman, 17 July 1830.
  • 9. Lonsdale mss, bdle. on 1830 election; Westmld. Gazette, 7 Aug. 1830.
  • 10. Add. 51835, Maitland to Holland [1830].
  • 11. Scotsman, 26 Mar., 2, 27, 30 Apr., 4, 7, 28 May; Wellington mss WP1/1184/18; NAS GD224/580/3/1/3/9; G.B.A.M. Finlayson, ‘Note on Employment of Military in Haddington, 1831’, Trans. E. Lothian Antiq. Soc. x (1966), 17-21.
  • 12. NAS GD224/581/4.
  • 13. Lonsdale mss, Lowther to Lonsdale, 11 July 1831.
  • 14. Carlisle Jnl. 16 July; Westmld. Gazette, 16 July 1831.
  • 15. Berwick Advertiser, 17 Dec. 1831.
  • 16. Wilts. RO, Hobhouse mss 145/2/b, Hobhouse to wife, 1 Feb. 1832.
  • 17. NLW, Ormathwaite mss FG/1/6, p. 34.
  • 18. Berwick Advertiser, 16 June, Add. 51644, J.A. Murray to Holland, 17 June 1832; 57370, f. 94; J.I. Brash, ‘Conservatives in the Haddington District of Burghs’, Trans. E. Lothian Antiq. Soc. xi (1968), 46.
  • 19. Thirlstane mss, ‘wooden box’ 34, ‘deed box’ C146; Doncaster Archives DD/COV/8; Sheffield Archives, Hoyland Nether mss SY/603/B/1-2.
  • 20. PROB 11/1917/1839; IR26/1524/957; The Times, 25 Aug.; Gent. Mag. (1860), ii. 431; Haddington Courier, 31 Aug. 1860.