East India patronage and the political management of Scotland 1720-1774

McGilvary, George Kirk (1990). East India patronage and the political management of Scotland 1720-1774. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000dfbf


This thesis sets out to examine and explain the use of India patronage in the government of Scotland from 1720 to 1774. The 1707 Act of Union created a complex and uncertain Scottish political world. Widespread resentment at the 1707 'betrayal' was kept simmering by pro-Jacobite sentiments and frustrations due to economic stagnation. To the Whig ministries in London the 1715 rebellion on top of all the other danger signals was alarming. The turmoil in Scotland seemed to threaten the stability and security of the fragile British state. Walpole believed the danger sufficient to warrant the strongest political management system possible there, using all the patronage that could be brought to bear. Through John Drummond, a Scottish East India Company Director, he was able to procure patronage from the Company and its Shipping interest. In Scotland these India posts were devoted to obtaining electoral support for Walpole's Argathelian backers. John Drummond and Lord Milton, as agents of the Duke of Argyll and his brother Islay, were instrumental in this.

Walpole's successors at Westminster and the Argathelians in Scotland conspired to further the use of available India patronage. The flood of India favours continued until 1765 and beyond, pausing only with the implementation in 1774 of North's Regulating Act.

The thesis breaks new ground in showing the existence and importance of this India patronage so early in the eighteenth century. Also, by examining the role of the Scots engrossed in the East India Company and its politics in the 1760s and early 1770s their importance as a group is uncovered. They were caught up in the struggle for power and for control of patronage within the Company, as well as that between Parliament and the Company for control of Indian territorial acquisitions.

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