SCOTT, Sir William, 6th bt. (1803-1871), of Ancrum, nr. Jedburgh, Roxburgh

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



18 Feb. 1829 - 1830
1859 - Feb. 1870

Family and Education

b. 26 July 1803, 2nd. but o. surv. s. of Sir John Scott, 5th bt., of Ancrum and Harriet, da. of William Graham of Gartmore, Perth. m. 9 June 1828,1 Elizabeth, da. and h. of David Anderson of Balgay, Forfar, 4s. (1 d.v.p.) 3da. suc. fa. as 6th bt. 24 Dec. 1812. d. 12 Oct. 1871.

Offices Held

Ensign 51 Ft. 1822; cornet 2 Ft. Gds. 1824; half-pay capt. unattached 1826; ret. 1836.


The Scotts of Ancrum, like their wealthier namesakes the dukes of Buccleuch, were descendants of the twelfth century Scottish warrior Lord Uchtred Scott, and their 2,000-acre estate in the Vale of Teviot had been the scene of many Border skirmishes. Scott’s father, Lieutenant-General John Scott of Craigentinny, Edinburgh, had succeeded his uncle Sir William Scott to Ancrum and the baronetcy in 1769 and died in December 1812, having been predeceased by his elder son John. Scott, as 6th baronet, became an officer in the Life Guards and returned to Scotland on coming of age in 1824 to claim his inheritance. He went on half-pay with the rank of captain in October 1826, was appointed a deputy lieutenant of Roxburghshire in March 1827 and added a new wing to Ancrum Castle. He also let it be known that he was prepared to spend to enter Parliament.2 Posing as a liberal Canningite and also as a Tory, he sounded both parties and ‘flirted a little’ with the electors of Carlisle at the by-election occasioned by the death of the sitting Tory in July 1827.3 However, the Whig Blues disavowed him and the Tory Lord Lowther* dissuaded his father Lord Lonsdale from promoting a man who ‘is a Member of Brooks’s and the best construction put upon his politics would be trimming and uncertain’.4 He married the heiress of David Anderson of Balgay at Dundee in June 1828 and, before consulting either party, declared again for Carlisle directly the sitting Whig Sir James Graham vacated in December. He hired Lowther agents and in February 1829 defeated the Whig Henry Aglionby* in a four-day poll, which cost him an estimated £30,000. He refused to give his views on the Catholic question, East India Company monopolies and the corn laws, but said he was for retrenchment and free trade and ‘friendly’ towards the Wellington ministry, ‘as I conceive they intend to carry through the same liberal measures [as Canning]’. The Lowthers had no wish to retain him at a general election and declined further association with him.5

Scott, who made no reported speeches as Member for Carlisle, took his seat on 4 Mar. 1829. Despite press reports to the contrary, confusing him with ‘Hon. W. Scott’, Member for Gatton, he did not divide with the Lowthers against Catholic emancipation, 6, 18 Mar., and he voted for the measure when they abstained, 30 Mar. He was in the minority for amending the Irish freeholders bill to permit voter registration, 20 Mar.6 He divided against Lord Blandford’s parliamentary reform proposals, 18 Feb., and the Galway franchise bill, 25 May, and was probably in the majority against Jewish emancipation, 17 May 1830. At the general election in July he ‘wisely’ avoided a ‘second plucking’ at Carlisle, where he declined to ‘play the anti-Catholic card’, was refused the Buccleuch interest in Roxburghshire, and fell prey to the electioneering schemes of the attorney John Stanbury at Tregony, where defeat by Lord Darlington’s nominees cost him ‘thousands’.7 He took no part in the subsequent petitioning.

Now convinced of the need for parliamentary reform, Scott headed the heritors’ requisition for a county meeting, 25 Jan. 1831, and subsequently championed the cause at public meetings in Roxburghshire.8 To the annoyance of the reformer Sir William Francis Eliott of Stobbs, he declared his candidature there at the dissolution precipitated by the defeat of the Grey ministry’s English reform bill in April, and promised to support it outright, avoiding ‘everything allied to party or faction’ on other issues.9 He was defeated in absentia and without his apparent collusion at Tregony, 30 Apr.;10 and after corresponding with the sitting anti-reformer Hepburne Scott, whose return for Roxburghshire he had approved in 1826, on 11 May he made way for and agreed ‘a very awkward coalition’ (Sir Walter Scott) with Eliott, whose candidature posed less of a threat to the Tories than his own. He also nominated Eliott on the 18th.11 He spoke for the reformers at the Haddington Burghs election at Jedburgh, 23 May, and the county meeting on 6 Dec. 1831.12 The Conservatives regarded him as a ‘turncoat, not to be trusted, though ... no doubt to be purchased by flattery’, and from 1832 he chaired the Liberal committee at Roxburghshire elections.13 He declined the nomination in 1837, when there was no prospect of success, but came in unopposed in 1859 as a declared supporter of Gladstone, opposed to the Derby ministry’s reform bill.14 He retired through ill health in February 1870, having outpolled the Conservative Lord Schomberg in 1868, when his son Harry Warren Scott was the defeated Liberal at Dundee.15 He died at Ancrum in October 1871, survived by his widow (d. 1878) and six of their seven children.16 His titles and estates worth £3,201 a year passed to his eldest son William Monteath Douglas Scott (1829-1902), on whose death without surviving male issue the baronetcy lapsed. In December 1873 a fire at Ancrum Castle, which was insured for £36,000, caused £30,000 worth of damage, destroying Scott’s art collection and most of the family papers.17

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Margaret Escott


  • 1. IGI (Angus).
  • 2. A. Jeffrey, Hist. and Antiqities of Roxburghshire (1864), ii. 356-60, 365-6.
  • 3. Lonsdale mss, Lowther to Lonsdale, 23, 25 July 1827; Brougham mss, Scott to J. Brougham, 28 Dec. 1828.
  • 4. Lonsdale mss, Lowther to Lonsdale, 26, 31 July 1827; J.R. McQuiston, ‘Lonsdale Connection and its Defender’, Northern Hist. xi (1975), 170-3. Scott was not admitted to Brooks’s until 31 Mar. 1852.
  • 5. Reading Univ. Lib. Carlisle election handbills, ff. 115-30; Lonsdale mss, Lowther to Lonsdale, 25 Jan., 4, 7, 10, 16, 18, 21, 24, 25 Feb.; bdle. on Carlisle election, 1829.
  • 6. Cumb. Pacquet, 10, 24 Mar., 7 Apr. 1829; Gent. Mag. (1829), i. 365.
  • 7. Carlisle Jnl. 10, 17, 24 July; Cumb. Pacquet, 20 July; West Briton, 6 Aug.; R. Cornw. Gazette, 14 Aug. 1830; NAS GD224/580/3/1/3-5.
  • 8. Kelso Mail, 17, 27 Jan., 17 Mar.; Caledonian Mercury, 27 Jan.; NAS GD157/3010, draft, Hepburne Scott to Lothian, 15 Mar.; Scotsman, 26 Mar.; The Times, 28 Mar. 1831.
  • 9. NAS GD157/2978/11-13; Scotsman, 27 Apr.; Kelso Mail, 28 Apr.; Brougham mss, Sir W. Eliott to Brougham, 3, 27 May 1831.
  • 10. West Briton, 6 May; R. Cornw. Gazette, 7 May 1831.
  • 11. Glasgow Herald, 9, 27 May; Caledonian Mercury, 14 May 1831; NAS GD157/2962/16; 2978/2-6, 14; 2980/25; 2981/8; Scott Jnl. ii. 170.
  • 12. Scotsman, 28 May; Kelso Mail, 28 Nov., 8 Dec.; The Times, 12, 14 Dec. 1831.
  • 13. NAS GD224/580/3/1/17, 18.
  • 14. The Times, 19 Jan. 1835, 14 July 1837; Hawick Advertiser, 16 Apr., 7, 14 May 1859.
  • 15. The Times, 5 Aug., 5, 12, 22 Sept., 23 Nov. 1868.
  • 16. Jedburgh Gazette, 14 Oct.; Hawick Advertiser, 21 Oct. 1871.
  • 17. The Times, 4 Dec. 1873.