Scottish Elections and Preachers, 1774

Col Archibald Campbell (now OF INVERNEILL, having purchased that Knapdale property in 1773), became M. P. for Stirling, 1774. His opponent was Colonel Masterton of Newton. I know nothing more about this whole exciting venture other than what is contained in a footnote in John Kay's book. I include it here because I like the insult "blustering blunderbuss." Obviously, Church Sermons were much more exciting back then, than they are now..

"Colonel James Frances Erskine was brother of John the 12th Earl of Mar, in whom the forfeited Title was revived in 1824 (said forfeit being the result of Mar's role in the 1745 Highland Uprising). The Colonel was a jolly, stout man, and a keen politician. He is understood to have spent a vast deal of money in electioneering contests. The first election, connected with the Dunfermline district of burghs, in which he was known to take an active interest, occurred in 1774, when Archibald Campbell, Esq., of Inverneil, successfully opposed Colonel Masterton of Newton, the former member, and friend of Sir Laurence Dundas. This contest was rendered memorable by the unusual bitterness with which it was maintained, and the mutual recrimination indulged in by the parties, even after it had been decided.

Dumferline Abbey, 1772 "To such an extent was this carried, that the Rev. Mr. Thomson, one of the ministers of Dunfermline, actually preached a sermon from the pulpit on the subject, choosing for his text Ephesians iv. 25, "Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour; for we are members one of another."

"In the course of the sermon, he alluded to various circumstances connected to the election, and pointed to particular individuals then seated in the church, accused them of lying. This produced the retort courteous in no measured terms. As a speciman of the unseemly exhibition, we quote the following passages from a report of the discourse published at the time:

"... Having thus explained to you, my brethren, the different kinds of lying by which we may hurt either our neighbour or sin against our own souls, will any man pretend to tell me, after being informed by three incontestable evidences, that that man (pointing to a certain person in the congregation) does not lie, who will pretend to maintain that he had not engaged to support Col. Campbell's interest, when he was voted into the council by the friends of Col. Campbell alone, and had not a single vote from the other party? I am convinced that these gentlemen had more wisdom and judgement than to bring in any man into the council of Dunfirmline, unless they had got the most convincing promises that he would stand by them and the interest of Col. Campbell; yet notwithstanding, he did not so much as give them one vote.

" (Here Mr. F. S. rose up and told him he was telling gross lies and folsehoods.)

"There is another species of lying, with a view to hurt and defame the name and characters of our neighbours, as for one to say, 'Such and such a person has got money from Col. Campbell to induce them to support his interest, and that his brother has their receipts for the same;' yet that very man upon being examined anent such defamatory assertions, to deny his having said such things.

"(There Mr. D. S. Rose up and told him he was uttering great lies.)

Caledonian Mercury banner "And you, Robert Scotland, who have wrote a paper which appeared in the Caledonian Mercury, giving me the epithet of an old military chaplain. This is a name I glory in, having lived fourteen years in the army, where I was always happy, and well satisfied with my situation. You also term me a blustering blunderbuss, which I refuse and will refer to the whole congreation if that cap does not more properly fit your head than mine.

"I have, however, stronger things to say than this. Will any man pretend to maintain that you lie, by saying you were a faithful and diligent agent for Col. Campbell, when the contrary can be proven by the evidence of three indisputable witnesses? If you had been a faithful agent for Col. Campbell, why were you so often in the camp of the enemy? A man in the army, if he were found in the enemy's camp, would be shot the next day. Had you acted justly and honestly, and had occasion to be with the enemy of Col. Campbell upon business, you ought to have taken one along with you to prevent suspicion, and to show that you were not doing anything there to hurt Col. Campbell's interests.

"Further, when Col. Masterton came to town to entertain his friends, why were you anxious to dine with him, after it had been resolved among the friends of Col. Campbell, that none of them should dine with Col. Masteron? - and why did you write that day to Col. Campbell that he needed not come to town until the evening? By all which his friends thought the cause in great danger of being hurt, had not his coming happily prevented you.

"(When Mr. T. was delivering this part of his sermon, R. S. arose several times and told Mr. T. that what he was saying was gross lies and false calumnies, very unbecoming to be spoke from the chair of verity.)

"If you acted as a faithful agent to Col. Campbell, why did you insist on having everything carried to your mind, and endeavour to get some of Col. Campbell's friends turned out, and those who were his opposites (I will not say his enemies) kept in, and by insisting to bring in those who were either doubtful or in the opposite interest?

"It is not the duty of an agent to insist on having everything carried his own way. No doubt but it may be frequently his duty to remonstrate, and lay matters properly before his employer; but he ought to leave it entirely to his constituent's prudence to choose what he thinks best.....

"And if the friends of Col. Campbell had not got convincing proofs of your designs to betray their cause, they would not have shut you out from their deliberations when matters came to a crisis, and it was become necessary to have plans formed for conducting the common cause.

"Perhaps you will say, What business has all this to do with the PULPIT? But I think it has as much to do with the pulpit as your paper had with the Caledonian Mercury; and those that sin before all ought to be rebuked before all, that others may hear and fear, and do no more so wickedly. Wherefore, refrain from lying, etc."

"Immediately after this extraordinary sermon was concluded, and before prayer was begun, Mr. R. S. rose up, and with an audible voice, told the minister it would be but fair he should inform the congregation what BRIBE he had got from Col. Campbell, in order to induce him to utter and propagate such false and injurious calumnies from the pulpit.

(The Messrs. Scotland brought an action of damages for defamation against Mr. Thomson, in which they succeeded both here and in the House of Peers. As Robert Scotland had, however, not conducted himself so correctly as he ought to have done, the damages awarded to him were restricted to five pounds sterling, whereas John and David were jointly found entitled to twenty five pounds. Of course the Rev. gentleman had to pay costs of suit.)

James Boswell (The Dictionary of National Biography tells us that Campbell of Inverneill represented Stirling between 1774 to 1780, including his time in America; and again from 1789 to 1791... the role of an M.P. has obviously changed since those days. James Boswell acted as his legal advisor.)

(Following this exciting election, and his becoming a Member of Parliament, Campbell, commanding the second battalion of the 71st Regiment of Highlanders, sailed for America. It was the time of the American Revolution.)

transcription from Original Portraits and Caricature Etchings by the Late John Kay, miniature painter, Edinburgh; with biographical sketches and Illustrative Anecdotes. New Edition, vol 2. Edinburgh, Adam and Charles Black, MDCCCLXXVII, footnote, pages 404 to 405.

The next page begins the story of Campbell's involvement in the American Revolution.