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

Background Information

Number of enrolled freeholders:

143 in 1820; 158 in 1826; 143 in 18301


21 Mar. 1820JOHN MAXWELL60
 Boyd Alexander54
1 July 1826JOHN MAXWELL 
9 Aug. 1830Sir Michael Shaw Stewart, bt. 
9 May 1831Sir Michael Shaw Stewart, bt. 

Main Article

Renfrewshire was geographically small but populous and highly industrialized, being ‘intimately connected’ with neighbouring Lanarkshire. Textile production was carried on at Renfrew, Johnstone, Pollokshaws and, above all, Paisley, one of the largest manufacturing towns in Scotland, where some 6-7,000 weavers were employed in 1818. Coal and ironstone were extensively mined in the heart of the county around Johnstone. Greenock was one of the largest Scottish seaports, having overtaken nearby Port Glasgow; both were engaged in trade with Canada and the West Indies and were important shipbuilding centres. The soil in the north of the county was best suited to arable farming, but the ‘somewhat bleak’ hill district in the south had some ‘excellent pasture’ for sheep and cattle.2 Renfrew was the only royal burgh. Since 1810 the representation had been controlled by a triumvirate of Whig families, the Shaw Stewarts of Ardgowan, the Maxwells of Pollok and the Speirs’s of Elderslie, who had agreed to return a member of each family in rotation. The key to their dominance was the creation of life-rent freeholds on the Ardgowan estate; the standard price for a vote was £1,000. Boyd Alexander of Southbar, a former Pittite Member, was the leading figure in the ‘committee of management for the political interests of the government party in Renfrewshire’. He unsuccessfully challenged the legality of the Whig vote creations and, having been defeated in 1810 and 1812, declined the contest against John Maxwell (son of Sir John Maxwell) in 1818.3

In 1820 Maxwell offered again and, after some delay, Alexander confirmed his candidature. The latter’s claim that he was, at worst, only six votes behind Maxwell was dismissed by Lord Melville, the Liverpool ministry’s Scottish manager, who told him bluntly that ‘I cannot persuade myself ... there is any possibility of success at present’, as ‘several of those persons whom you contemplate as likely to be prevailed upon to support you are to my certain knowledge quite hopeless’. Melville continued to respond coolly to Alexander’s importunate requests for patronage for potential supporters, which included a naval promotion for the son of a friend and a baronetcy for the brother-in-law of Henry Westenra, Member for county Monaghan. Alexander also complained that the 1st earl of Glasgow did not do enough to mobilize support on his estate. The Tory challenge was further undermined by Alexander’s long-running personal feud with Archibald Campbell* of Blythswood, who, though a ‘liberal subscriber to the fund for the ... government party in the county’, refused to vote for him. In these circumstances, as the lord advocate Sir William Rae* concluded, Alexander had ‘little chance of ... success’. Nevertheless, a week before the poll Rae reported that the parties were exactly balanced.4 The ‘streets of Renfrew were thronged with people of all ranks’ for the election meeting, which was transferred from the county hall to the church, but ‘such was the ... tremendous pressure’ that the door ‘gave way’ and ‘the crowd ... poured in’, breaking many of the seats. Sir John Maxwell and Lord Archibald Hamilton, Member for Lanarkshire, nominated Archibald Speirs† as praeses, while Alexander proposed Sir William Napier; Speirs was chosen by 60 votes to 52. Graham of Gartmere and Sir Michael Shaw Stewart introduced Maxwell and Napier, and William Napier of Blackstone sponsored Alexander. In announcing the majority of six for Maxwell, Speirs stated that ‘if necessary, he would have given the casting vote’ to him. Campbell had absented himself. Maxwell, amidst ‘very coarse and indelicate’ interruptions, declared that ‘in the present times the situation of an ... MP is little to be envied’ and said he would not ‘hold the charge one day longer than I believe myself truly to represent [your] sentiments’. He pledged to resist ‘inroads on the constitution’, whether by the crown or by the people, and regretted having ‘seen the people led into mad and dangerous actions, by a faction of deluded and deluding villains’. Afterwards, he was ‘carried through the town upon [the people’s] shoulders’. Three hogsheads of porter were left in the street, two of which were taken by a ‘party ... of several hundred’ from Paisley ‘armed ... with stobs’, who smashed one barrel and let the liquid drain away, ‘declaring it was "the dregs of corruption"’. There was some window breaking. Alexander was convinced that with ‘tolerable luck we must have gained the election’, and pointed out to Melville that ‘as the party have nine more votes at maturity in the course of eight or nine months, there can be little doubt of government securing the county by another election, if it desires it’.5

Paisley had been ‘the main centre’ of radical activity in the west of Scotland during the autumn of 1819 and, following the Glasgow radical committee’s call for an uprising, 2 Apr. 1820, attempts were made to gather arms and persuade the weavers to strike. Troops were immediately sent into the town and a number of raids and arrests took place. One army officer estimated the number of insurgents at 300 to 400. Similar events occurred at Johnstone, where many radicals fled the town in the night. Greenock was initially quiet but, when five Paisley radicals were brought to the gaol there, the military escort was reportedly attacked by a mob with stones and staves. In the ensuing gunfire, nine civilians were killed and 12 seriously wounded. The infuriated mob broke down the prison gates and liberated the five prisoners, only one of whom was recaptured. Melville was satisfied that local anger would ‘probably subside soon ... especially if the population ... as has been supposed, are not politically tainted like Paisley and other places in that part of the country’. However, the alarmed local military commander believed there was ‘a nest of dangerous and decided radicals’ in Greenock, and he protested against the withdrawal of regular soldiers, warning that ‘martial law’ would soon be necessary throughout the county. That summer two radicals were tried at a special court in Paisley, but acquitted of treason.6 On 19 May the Commons received a petition from the county lamenting the ‘unprecedented depression of manufacturing labour’ there, which meant that weavers were earning on average only 3s. 9d. per week and ‘many’ were ‘wholly unemployed’, and requesting a grant for the completion of the Ardrossan canal project, to provide ‘more permanent employment’.7 In November 1820 the news of the withdrawal of the bill of pains and penalties against Queen Caroline was celebrated at Paisley, where tar barrels were carried through the streets, pistols fired, windows broken and stones thrown at the police; the districts considered ‘most radical’ were ‘generally illuminated’. Greenock was almost ‘universally illuminated’.8 A county meeting at Renfrew was summoned by requisition, 4 Jan. 1821, when Campbell moved a loyal address to the king which professed attachment to the ‘invaluable constitution in church and state’ and deplored the ‘arts and machinations of the disloyal, aided by the licentiousness of a profligate press ... to seduce the people from their allegiance’; Alexander seconded. Maxwell expressed ‘disgust’ at the ‘extraordinary attempts ... to support a tottering administration [which] had entirely lost the confidence of the nation’, and he moved a counter-address praising the ‘exemplary conduct’ of the people at a time of ‘severe distress’ and calling for a ‘salutary change of system’, with ‘measures of conciliation, retrenchment and economy’; he was seconded by Speirs, who condemned the treatment of the queen. The Whig James Stuart of Dunearn proposed an amendment to the original address, to say that the meeting was expressing no opinion about the government, which Maxwell accepted to ‘promote unanimity’. However, it was defeated by 60-44 and the address forwarded to the home secretary, Lord Sidmouth, for presentation.9 Maxwell raised the corn law question at the Michaelmas head court, 9 Oct., and a requisition for a county meeting on the 29th was organized. On that occasion he delivered a long speech in favour of a ‘fair and moderate duty’ and was supported by Speirs, but at Alexander’s suggestion a committee was appointed, consisting of three agricultural and three manufacturing representatives, to gather information. Its report was considered at a meeting held in Paisley, 10 Dec. 1821, when resolutions were agreed in favour of a protective rather than a prohibitive duty. Maxwell wanted to petition Parliament immediately, specifying an appropriate level of duty, but Alexander countered by proposing to appoint another committee to correspond with other Scottish counties and frame a greater petition, which was ‘carried by a majority’.10 Nothing came of this immediately, but in the autumn of 1822 Maxwell was in communication with Sir John Sinclair†, who was organizing a meeting of the Scottish counties. Sinclair, emphasizing that ‘in carrying on the undertaking’ he must be ‘considered neither Whig nor Tory’, was anxious to ‘convince the agricultural interests that a united effort’ was needed to ‘save them from destruction’, and he feared that ‘if the present moment is lost any future attempt will be in vain, for the next Parliament will be a funded one’. At the Michaelmas head court, 28 Oct., a committee was appointed to attend the meeting of Sinclair’s ‘agricultural society’ in Edinburgh, 23 Dec. 1822, when it was resolved that tax reductions and currency reform were urgently needed. Maxwell, acting on behalf of the Renfrewshire Agricultural Society, requested that a county meeting be convened, which was fixed for 16 Jan. 1823. In moving to petition for relief from distress, he argued that ‘very great retrenchments were called for’ in order to reduce the ‘pressure of taxes’ on landowners and labourers and increase consumption. Robert Orr of Ralston seconded him and Speirs, who wanted more drastic retrenchment, observed that ‘Peel’s [1819 currency] bill was no doubt the cause of a great part of the present misery’. The petition was ‘unanimously adopted’ and presented to the Commons, 20 Feb. 1823. Another committee was appointed to co-operate with the central agricultural society in pressing for the abatement of local taxes, but no action seems to have followed.11 The county petitioned the Commons for free trade in spirits throughout the United Kingdom, 7 May 1824.12 A meeting was convened at Paisley by requisition, 28 Feb. 1826, when Speirs proposed resolutions expressing confidence in the Scottish banking system. He maintained that economic conditions in Scotland were not as bad as in England, but feared they ‘might soon be so’. Maxwell, who welcomed the ‘absence of all party feeling’, advised against ‘clinging forever to the present system’ and put forward modified resolutions, opposing the withdrawal of small notes until it had been demonstrated that a metallic currency was superior. These were ‘unanimously adopted’ and embodied in petitions to Parliament, 9 Mar. 1826.13

In October 1824 Westenra agreed to sell his superiorities to the Whig 10th duke of Hamilton, ‘at the rate of £1,000 for each freehold’, and claimed that ‘by this purchase’ Maxwell would be ‘seated forever’. Westenra had apparently been ‘entreated to keep’ his votes ‘till after the next election’, so that Alexander might be ‘secure of [the] seat’, but explained that the latter had ‘not behaved well to me’ whereas Maxwell was ‘an old schoolfellow’. An analysis of the political state of the county, compiled for the Whigs in September 1825, showed that the Shaw Stewart family controlled 22 votes, Speirs had 15, Sir John Maxwell 13 and Hamilton 11.14 That summer Campbell, the new lord lieutenant, suggested to Melville that if Sir Michael Shaw Stewart, who had just succeeded to the baronetcy, would pledge not to ‘systematically oppose the government’, he might be a suitable candidate, as there was otherwise ‘no chance of getting rid’ of Maxwell. However, he had reason to believe that Shaw Stewart was ‘committed’ to Maxwell, ‘at least for the next election’. Shortly afterwards he reported that Alexander’s nephew and successor, William Alexander, had ‘determined to offer’, although he was ‘perfectly aware that he has no chance of establishing a permanent interest in the county and confines his prospects to the next election’; it was thought he might ‘run Maxwell very hard’ and would ‘at all events ... keep our friends together’.15 In fact, Alexander did not persist and at the dissolution in the summer of 1826 Maxwell was nominated by Speirs (the praeses) and Graham and ‘unanimously elected’ by the 35 freeholders present. Maxwell gave a detailed account of his parliamentary record and indicated that he now believed the price of corn ‘should be regulated by the wages of the manufacturers’. He later ‘congratulated the county on the great progress ... in liberal opinions’ and praised the efforts by ‘the popular part of [the] government’. Speirs warned that more needed to be done to relieve distress, pointing out that over 70,000 people lived in the towns and villages of Renfrewshire, of whom ‘about 14,000 depended partially on the public subscriptions’, raised after a meeting on 27 Mar., which were being spent at the rate of ‘about £500 per week’ and were nearly exhausted.16

County meetings in July and September 1826 provided confirmation that the economic situation was deteriorating. On 20 Nov. 1826 certain freeholders and others met in Paisley, with Clerk of Greenock in the chair, to consider relief measures. John Neil moved resolutions which detailed the ‘most unheard of privations’ being suffered by the ‘industrious classes’, blamed the corn laws in large part for the ‘disastrous crisis’ that had ‘gradually destroyed the commerce of Britain’, and condemned the ‘continuance of an expensive and numerous standing army’ and the fact that ‘millions ... [were] bestowed upon peers of the realm ... and relatives’. Popular grievances ‘necessarily resulted from the improper and unlawful mode by which the majority of [MPs] obtained their seats’, and it was declared that ‘the people have an imprescriptible right to elect their representatives’. An immediate measure was required to allow the free importation of all foodstuffs, ‘in exchange for the manufactures of this country’. After the resolutions were ‘unanimously agreed’, Maxwell expressed his approval and presented the resulting petition to the Commons, 22 Feb. 1827.17 In late 1826 and 1827 petitions for assistance with emigration were sent up to the Commons from various groups of workers and emigration societies.18 Six people, including Maxwell, signed a requisition for a meeting, convened on 11 June 1827, when 30 people approved an address to the king expressing ‘unfeigned gratification’ at the appointment of Canning as prime minister, which had ‘frustrated the unconstitutional influence attempted to be imposed’ by those Tory ministers who had resigned. Speirs, the mover, who regretted to see ‘so thin a meeting’ with few magistrates present, claimed that the Whigs had rescued the king from an attempt to ‘usurp and paralyze’ his prerogative and hoped the new government would reduce taxes and reform the court of chancery. Robert Wallace of Kelly seconded him and the address was forwarded to Maxwell for presentation.19 No action was taken by the county on the Catholic question in 1829, but petitions against emancipation were sent to Parliament from Greenock, Johnstone, Paisley and Pollokshaws, while favourable ones were forwarded from Greenock (with over 700 signatures) and Paisley.20 Maxwell supported the Wellington ministry’s bill. His father chaired a county meeting, 30 Apr., when it was reported that 1,500 operatives had been unemployed for several months and others were earning only 5s. or 6s. per week, and a petition was forwarded to the Commons, 7 May, calling for inquiry into the causes of distress.21 Another meeting was convened at Paisley, 11 May, to petition against renewal of the East India Company’s charter, but it was agreed by ‘a majority of three’ to adjourn the proceedings because of the ‘thinness’ of the attendance. A suggestion that the requisition be broadened to include bankers, merchants, manufacturers, ship owners and others was not adopted. The resumed meeting, 25 May, was ‘respectably attended’ and there was agreement that ‘something like free trade measures should be adopted’; the resulting petitions were forwarded to both Houses, 1, 3 June.22 Some operative weavers petitioned the Commons for wage regulation, 1 June 1829.23 Maxwell chaired a county meeting in Renfrew summoned by requisition, 4 Feb. 1830, when he welcomed the presence of ‘gentlemen of very different political opinions [united] in one general object’, to consider measures ‘for ameliorating the overwhelming distress that at present prevailed so widely’. Sir William Napier moved resolutions which highlighted the problem of low wages and ‘strenuously recommended the remission of those duties affecting the necessaries of life, particularly ... sugar, malt and beer’, as this would ‘check [the] misery ... amongst the working classes by their excessive indulgence in the use of ardent spirits’. Speirs proposed an additional resolution calling for public works to improve the transportation of landed produce to the industrial areas, which would increase the ‘circulation of capital among the labouring and manufacturing classes’. Sir John Maxwell seconded all the resolutions. A letter was read describing the distress in Greenock, where four-fifths of the ship workers were unemployed. Speirs blamed the system of government since the time of Lord Chatham for the situation, but he ‘highly eulogized’ Wellington as ‘the very best minister that this country had ever seen’ and hoped he would confer more ‘blessings’ on the country. Petitions embodying the resolutions were unanimously agreed, but while the one to the Lords was presented, 11 Mar., that to the Commons was apparently not.24 In Campbell’s absence Sir John Maxwell, Wallace and Speirs summoned a meeting at Renfrew, 24 Apr. 1830, to which all landholders, bankers, merchants, manufacturers, ship owners, colonial proprietors and lawyers were invited. Bayne, a Greenock magistrate, in moving to petition against renewal of the East India Company’s charter, observed that ‘this county had a deep interest in ... free trade with China’. Speirs, the seconder, declared that the ‘sooner ... all chartered rights were put an end to the better’, adding that ‘what they wanted was a parliamentary reform, and he hoped it would speedily be obtained’. Wallace, while professing respect for Campbell, defended the way the meeting had been called. The resulting petition was presented to Parliament, 6, 10 May 1830.25

At the dissolution that summer Maxwell retired to make way for Shaw Stewart, in accordance with an arrangement made in December 1828. The ‘Tory party’ was reportedly ‘anxious’ to bring forward Campbell, whose seat at Glasgow was in danger, but it was ‘hardly expected’ that he would agree. There was indeed no opposition and ‘comparatively few’ of the freeholders attended the election, which excited ‘very little interest’ amongst the townspeople of Renfrew. Maxwell delivered a farewell address in which he commended Shaw Stewart as one who would ‘preserve the independence of the county’, supporting the government only ‘when it deserved ... support’. Speirs was chosen as praeses and Sir John Maxwell and Campbell nominated Shaw Stewart, who was ‘unanimously elected’. He promised to pursue an ‘independent’ course, expressed admiration for Wellington and Peel and pledged support for economy and retrenchment, as far as practicable. It was customary to ‘regale the populace with a butt or two of porter’, and when it did not appear ‘the people, amongst whom were a large proportion of females, saluted Sir Michael in a very uncourteous manner’. A supply was immediately sent for, much of which was ‘as usual showered about in all directions by the opponents of those who were in the act of carrying it off in hats, pitchers, etc.’26

On 1 Sept. 1830 Bailie Fairrie, the chief magistrate, chaired a ‘highly respectable’ meeting of the inhabitants of Greenock, who praised the ‘enlightened moderation’ of the revolution in France. Next day a similar meeting took place in Paisley, summoned by Sir John Maxwell, Speirs and Wallace, after the magistrates had rejected a requisition. Resolutions were passed expressing ‘admiration ... at the noble stand made by the French in defence of their liberties’ and opening a subscription for them.27 Anti-slavery petitions were forwarded to Parliament from the United congregation and inhabitants of Paisley, 10, 16 Dec. 1830, the Methodists of Greenock, Paisley and Johnstone, 28 Feb., 19 Apr., and the inhabitants of Pollokshaws, 14 Apr. 1831.28 Seven magistrates, headed by Sir John Maxwell, summoned an open meeting of the county at Paisley, 3 Dec., when an address to William IV and a petition to the Commons were moved by Wallace and Robert Bontine of Ardoch and agreed. The address conveyed ‘joyful’ congratulations to the king on the removal of Wellington’s ministry, ‘whose ... souls seem to be wrapped up in [defending] the dangerous and unconstitutional practice of buying seats in the ... Commons’, and expressed the hope that he would if necessary grant a dissolution in order to secure reform. The petition, which was presumably the one presented on 18 Dec. 1830, called for the ‘franchise [to] be widely extended’, for its ‘purity’ to be ‘secured by [the] ballot’ and for triennial parliaments. It reminded the Commons that the ‘productive classes’ were ‘in a state of distress, dismay and discontent’, owing to the ‘insupportable’ burden of taxation, which the petitioners attributed to ‘the unconstitutional state of your House’. Resolutions were also passed to establish a Renfrewshire Political Union, of which Sir John Maxwell became president and Wallace vice-president. At its first meeting in Paisley, 4 Jan. 1831, a letter of support was read from Thomas Attwood† of Birmingham and it was decided to adhere to the original plan of covering the whole county, rather than confining itself to Paisley.29 Petitions for Scottish reform were sent up to Parliament from Greenock and Paisley, 3, 4, 11 Feb.30 The Grey ministry’s reform bill proposed to give one Member each to those towns. A ‘very numerous’ county meeting was held outside the county hall in Paisley, 18 Mar., with Sir John Maxwell taking the chair. Wallace moved an address to the king expressing satisfaction with a measure ‘well calculated to bring to a termination those political divisions and heart burnings’ and restore ‘happiness and prosperity’. When he had finished, ‘the band struck up "Scots wha hae wi’ Wallace bled"’. George Gardiner of Paisley, the seconder, observed that ‘they were met peaceably’, but added that ‘if arms were necessary they should not be unwilling to take them up (great applause) in support of ministers and the king, for the purpose of overthrowing and annihilating’ the ‘boroughmongers’. The address was ‘carried by acclamation’ and the band played ‘Up and waur them a’ Willie’, followed by ‘God Save the King’. Bontine, who moved to petition Parliament, personally favoured household suffrage, but he welcomed the bill as ‘a stepping stone towards a more liberal and enlightened policy’; one Mason seconded him. They were supported by William Cunninghame, who remarked that ‘they were met under the Union Jack and the tricoloured flag’ and thought ‘they had not more reason to be proud of the victory of Bannockburn than of what had already been done’ by Grey’s government. At the end of the meeting, Sir John called for three cheers for the ‘patriot king’ and his ministers. The petitions were duly presented, 21, 28 Mar., as were similar ones from Greenock, Paisley (after an amendment at the meeting on 15 Mar., expressing satisfaction with the bill ‘as far as it goes’, was defeated by ‘an overwhelming majority’), and Port Glasgow, 19, 21, 22 Mar., 21 Apr. The Renfrewshire Political Union sent two petitions, one in favour of the bill, the other calling for household suffrage, the ballot, triennial parliaments, Scottish burgh reform, retrenchment and tax reductions, 11, 21 Mar.31 Shaw Stewart supported the bill and offered again at the general election of May 1831; there was no sign of opposition to him. Wallace, on behalf of the Political Union, issued an address urging all Scotsmen to press for ‘the restoration of your long-lost political privileges’ by supporting an ‘entire and undiminished’ measure. On polling day Speirs was chosen as praeses and he and Sir John Maxwell nominated Shaw Stewart, who described himself as ‘an independent Scotsman’ who had ‘supported ... reform in every stage and would continue to support it’, and who looked forward to having ‘a constituency commensurate with the wealth and intelligence of the county’. He also favoured opening the East Indian trade. On being ‘unanimously elected’ by the 33 freeholders present, he was greeted by a ‘grand procession’ of inhabitants from Paisley and later gave a dinner at the Black Bull; his total expenses were £203 9s. 4d.32

The factory cotton spinners petitioned the Commons for a statutory ten-hour working day, 30 June 1831.33 It was reported in July that the price of freehold votes had recently fallen to £120, which was evidently ‘owing to the prospects of a reform’.34 Investigations carried out that summer by Shaw Stewart suggested that the numbers of electors under the various qualifications in the Scottish bill would be 90 freeholders, 469 proprietors of £10 landholdings, 755 tenants of £50 landholdings and 1,370 proprietors of £10 houses (who in fact were not enfranchised).35 Petitions for the speedy passage of the reintroduced English bill were sent up to the Lords from the Political Union, Greenock (with 6,000 signatures), Paisley, Pollokshaws and Johnstone, 13 Sept., 3, 4, 6 Oct.36 Following its rejection an address to the king was proposed at the Michaelmas head court, 11 Oct., requesting the use of his prerogative, ‘a trust for the good of the people’, to prevent further obstruction of reform. However, James Smith of Jordanhill and M’Dowall of Garthland complained that the meeting had been taken unprepared. A county meeting was therefore convened on Common Hill, near Paisley, 17 Oct., when Maxwell, Speirs and Wallace carried an address asking the king to create new peers; there was ‘a great display of flags’ and the proceedings were orderly. A similar address was forwarded from the Political Union.37 On 18 May 1832, during the constitutional crisis, a great reform demonstration was organized by the Political Union and held on the lawn of Elderslie House. Various groups marched in, accompanied by bands, flags and symbolic devices: Sir John Maxwell led a troop of 140 horsemen, 2,000 came on foot from the Pollok district, the ‘masters of different public works appeared at the head of their men’, 3,000 arrived from Greenock and ‘many thousands’ came from Paisley. Altogether some 25-30,000 attended, including ‘a great number of ladies’. Maxwell praised their ‘continued good behaviour’, but advised them to be ‘very watchful, as a black sheep might get in amongst them’. Wallace and M’Allister of Lochwinnoch moved an address to the king, urging him to reinstate Grey’s ministry, and Bontine and one Parker moved to petition the Commons to withhold supplies until the reform bill was carried. After these were passed, James Fleming proposed a vote of thanks to Attwood and the Birmingham Political Union, a ‘tremendous hiss’ for the tsar of Russia and ‘three hisses’ for Peel, adding that if their wishes were ‘not acceded to, 10,000 swords would be ready to start from their scabbards’. The crowd dispersed in an orderly fashion and the petition was belatedly presented, 13 July.38 Following the Scottish bill’s enactment the registered electorate was 1,132. At the 1832 general election Shaw Stewart was returned ahead of the radical Bontine, and he held the seat until his death in 1836, after which Renfrewshire became a marginal constituency. Sir John Maxwell was returned in 1832 as the first Member for Paisley, and Wallace was likewise honoured by Greenock.39

Author: Terry Jenkins


  • 1. W. Hector, Judicial Recs. Renfrew (ser. 2, 1878), 39, gives figures of 143, 147 and 142 respectively.
  • 2. Ordnance Gazeteer of Scotland (1895), iii. 219-27; iv. 334, 335, 529; v. 145-55, 211, 214, 215, 242-8.
  • 3. HP Commons, 1790-1820, ii. 570-2; NLS mss 2, ff. 19, 21; Glasgow City Archives, Speirs mss TD 1318/69/105, ‘joint political accounts’.
  • 4. Glasgow Herald, 11, 14 Feb., 3, 6 Mar. 1820; NLS mss 2, ff. 23, 27, 30-32, 34, 36-38, 40, 43; 11, f. 14; NAS GD51/1/198/22/16.
  • 5. Glasgow Herald, 24 Mar. 1820; NLS mss 2, ff. 47, 49.
  • 6. P. Ellis and S. Mac a’ Ghobhainn, Scottish Insurrection of 1820, pp. 115-32, 153-8, 181, 195-203, 258-62; NAS GD51/5/103/1-3.
  • 7. CJ, lxxv. 228.
  • 8. Glasgow Herald, 17, 20 Nov. 1820.
  • 9. Ibid. 25 Dec. 1820, 5, 8 Jan. 1821.
  • 10. Ibid. 12 Oct., 2 Nov., 14 Dec. 1821.
  • 11. Glasgow City Archives, Maxwell mss T-PM 117/1/75, 77; Glasgow Herald, 1 Nov., 30 Dec. 1822, 10, 24 Jan. 1823; CJ, lxxviii. 49.
  • 12. CJ, lxxix. 336.
  • 13. Glasgow Herald, 27 Feb., 3 Mar. 1826; CJ, lxxxi. 145; LJ, lviii. 94.
  • 14. PRO NI, Rossmore mss T2929/3/73, 75; Glasgow City Archives, Shaw Stewart mss T-ARD 1/8/8; Maxwell mss T-PM 117/1/194.
  • 15. NAS GD51/1/198/22/17; 5/140.
  • 16. Greenock Advertiser, 4 July 1826; Hector, 17.
  • 17. Glasgow Herald, 31 July, 4 Sept., 24 Nov. 1826; CJ, lxxxii. 216.
  • 18. CJ, lxxxii. 90, 98, 99, 155, 350, 441, 478.
  • 19. Glasgow Herald, 4, 15 June 1827.
  • 20. CJ, lxxxiv. 140, 141, 170, 173, 207; LJ, lxi. 134, 202, 269, 307, 365, 366; Wellington mss WP1/1002/25.
  • 21. CJ, lxxxiv. 272.
  • 22. Glasgow Herald, 1, 15, 25 May 1829; CJ, lxxxiv. 370; LJ, lxi. 529.
  • 23. CJ, lxxxiv. 355, 356.
  • 24. Glasgow Herald, 25 Jan., 5, 15 Feb. 1830; LJ, lxii. 105.
  • 25. Glasgow Herald, 19, 26 Apr. 1830; CJ, lxxxv. 382; LJ, lxii. 342.
  • 26. Maxwell mss T-PM 117/3/1; NAS GD157/2976/2; Glasgow Herald, 2 July, 13 Aug. 1830.
  • 27. Glasgow Herald, 3 Sept. 1830.
  • 28. CJ, lxxxvi. 163, 445, 486; LJ, lxiii. 177, 178, 472.
  • 29. Glasgow Herald, 3, 6, 13, 24 Dec. 1830, 7 Jan. 1831; CJ, lxxxvi. 118.
  • 30. CJ, lxxxvi. 237; LJ, lxiii. 201, 205.
  • 31. Glasgow Herald, 18, 21 Mar. 1831; CJ, lxxxvi. 371, 406, 416, 446; LJ, lxiii. 313, 314, 346, 353, 498.
  • 32. Glasgow Herald, 29 Apr., 2, 13 May 1831; Hector, 17; Shaw Stewart mss T-ARD 1/6/366, election expenses.
  • 33. CJ, lxxxvi. 592, 593.
  • 34. Maxwell mss T-PM 117/1/194.
  • 35. Shaw Stewart mss T-ARD 1/6/366, voters’ lists, 1831-2, with related correspondence.
  • 36. Glasgow Herald, 26 Sept. 1831; LJ, lxiii. 973, 1035, 1036, 1041, 1046, 1068.
  • 37. Glasgow Herald, 10, 14, 21 Oct., 18 Nov. 1831.
  • 38. Ibid. 21 May 1832; CJ, lxxxvii. 488.
  • 39. Glasgow Herald, 25 June, 9, 20, 30 July, 24, 28 Dec. 1832; Scottish Electoral Politics, 239, 247.