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

Background Information

Alternated with Kinross-shire

Number of enrolled freeholders:

16 in 1830


27 Mar. 1820ROBERT BRUCE
13 July 1824HON. GEORGE RALPH ABERCROMBY vice Bruce, vacated his seat

Main Article

Clackmannanshire was the smallest Scottish county (55 square miles). The county town, Clackmannan, had long been eclipsed in importance by the small port of Alloa, two miles away, which had a population of 3,482 in 1831.1 The electoral influence of the Abercrombys of Tullibody, near Alloa, who had occupied the seat since 1788, was not challenged in this period. At the dissolution in 1820 the head of the family was George Abercromby, Member in the 1806 and 1812 Parliaments and brother-in-law of the 2nd Viscount Melville, the Liverpool ministry’s Scottish manager. He was close to succeeding his dying mother in the peerage and his only son, George Ralph, would not be of age until May 1821. He told Melville that although he could ‘see the prospect of a rising interest in opposition to ours’, he would ‘not ... anticipate any attempt to disturb our interest’. He was at first ‘really puzzled’ as to whom to nominate, but in the event he selected his second cousin, Robert Bruce of Kennet House, Alloa.2 He succeeded as 2nd Baron in 1821 and in 1824 secured from the government the appointment of a friend as sheriff clerk and commissary clerk.3 The inhabitants of Alloa petitioned the Commons, 11 May, and the Lords, 24 May, for the gradual abolition of slavery; and the county freeholders petitioned the Commons for the free export of Scottish spirits to England, 9 June 1824.4 The following month George Ralph Abercromby replaced Bruce.5 Another anti-slavery petition from Alloa reached the Commons, 2 May 1826.6

Abercromby came in again at the 1830 general election.7 Abolitionist petitions from the United Associate Session of Alloa were presented to the Commons, 25 Nov., and the Lords, 10, 13 Dec. 1830.8 In March 1831 the inhabitants of Alloa petitioned both Houses in favour of the Grey ministry’s reform bill, which Abercromby supported.9 In the 1831 Parliament, when Kinross-shire had the return, Alloa farmers and maltsters petitioned the Commons against permitting the use of molasses in brewing and distilling, 6 Aug., and the Lords in support of the reform bills, 3 Oct. 1831.10 By the Scottish Act, Clackmannanshire was united with Kinross-shire, together with the small portion of Perthshire which separated them. This created a constituency of 127 square miles with 878 registered electors at the 1832 general election, when the Liberal Sir Charles Adam of Blair Adam, Kinross, easily beat the Conservative Bruce, as he did more narrowly in 1835. The county remained a Liberal stronghold until it was dismembered in 1918.11

Author: David R. Fisher


  • 1. Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland (1895), i. 42-43, 262-4.
  • 2. NAS GD51/1/198/26/39, 42; The Times, 1 Apr. 1820.
  • 3. Add. 40358, f. 220; 40359, f. 219; 40360, f. 1.
  • 4. CJ, lxxix. 347, 470; LJ, lvi. 259.
  • 5. Edinburgh Evening Courant, 17 July; The Times, 20 July 1824.
  • 6. CJ, lxxxi. 312.
  • 7. Edinburgh Evening Courant, 14 Aug.; Glasgow Herald, 16 Aug. 1830.
  • 8. CJ, lxxxvi. 132; LJ, lxiii. 165, 169.
  • 9. CJ, lxxxvi. 255, 406; LJ, lxiii. 336, 355.
  • 10. CJ, lxxxvi. 733; LJ, lxiii. 1034; Edinburgh Evening Courant, 29 Sept. 1831.
  • 11. Cockburn Letters, 265; Edinburgh Evening Courant, 24, 27 Dec. 1832; Scottish Electoral Politics, 223, 227, 229-30, 234, 238-9, 246-7, 250, 274-5, 277.