John Campbell, 4th Duke of Argyll

Scottish soldier and politician

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The Duke of Argyll

Born c. 1693

Died 9 November 1770 (aged 76–77)

General John Campbell, 4th Duke of Argyll, KT, PC (c. 1693 – 9 November 1770) was a Scottish military officer, Whig politician and peer who sat in the British House of Commons from 1713 to 1761.

Early life[edit]

John Campbell was born c. 1693, the son of John Campbell of Mamore. His father was the second son of Archibald Campbell, 9th Earl of Argyll and his wife Elizabeth Elphinston, the daughter of John Elphinstone, 8th Lord Elphinstone.

Marriage and children[edit]

Coombe Bank

In 1720, Campbell secretly married Mary Drummond Bellenden, the daughter of John Drummond Bellenden, 2nd Lord Bellenden of Broughton. A maid of honour to Caroline of Ansbach, she was rumoured to have had an affair with the Prince of Wales. She had told the Prince that she would ask his blessing on any marriage but she broke this promise and married. She lost her position but John Campbell retained his position as a Groom of the Bedchamber. They moved to Coombe Bank.[1] They had the following children:

His wife died in childbirth in 1736.[1]

He acquired Coombe Bank, at Sundridge, near Sevenoaks Kent, where he commissioned Roger Morris to build a country house for him in the second quarter of the 18th century. The house subsequently passed on his death in 1770 to his second son Frederick.

Military and parliamentary careers[edit]

Campbell joined the army in 1710, becoming a Lieutenant Colonel at the age of nineteen. However, he soon entered the world of politics, and at the 1713 general election, he was returned unopposed as Member of Parliament (MP) for the alternating seat of Buteshire.[4]

At the 1715 general election, Campbell stood at Elgin Burghs. He was defeated in the poll, in which two rival delegates were allowed to vote, and the chairman, who was the other candidate, used his casting vote in the resulting tie to return himself. Campbell was returned on petition as MP for the Boroughs on 7 April 1715.[5] At the 1722 general election much the same thing happened again with two rival delegates casting their votes. This time the petition was referred to committee and it took two years before Campbell was returned as MP on 23 January 1725.[5] At the 1727 general election, Campbell succeeded his father as MP for Dunbartonshire, where he was returned unopposed in the general elections of 1734, 1741 and 1747.[6] He was returned unopposed again for Dumbartonshire at the 1754 general election, and supported Newcastle’s administration and voted in its defence in the division on Minorca in 1757. He was nominated for governor of Dumbarton castle in 1759 but became involved in the Argyll-Bute family quarrel and was appointed governor of Limerick in compensation. He was returned again at the 1761 general election, but succeeded to the Dukedom two days later and had to vacate his seat in the House of Commons. During most of his tenure as MP for Dunbartonshire, he was Groom of the Bedchamber.[7]

Additionally, Campbell served in the military during his tenure in Parliament—he became Colonel of the 39th Regiment of Foot (1737–1738) and the 21st Regiment of Foot (1738–1752), serving with honour in the Battle of Dettingen in 1743.

On 12 July 1746 Campbell was the questioner of Jacobite figure Flora MacDonald for her role in aiding Charles Edward Stuart to Skye, and produced a written document of Flora’s confessions.

He rose quickly up the ranks, becoming a brigadier general in 1743, major general in 1744, and lieutenant general in 1747; he became colonel of the North British Dragoons in 1752, a position he held until his death.


Upon inheriting the dukedom and other titles upon the death of his cousin Archibald Campbell, 3rd Duke of Argyll in 1761,[8] he left the House of Commons and became Governor of Limerick and a Scottish representative peer. He became a Privy Councillor in 1762, a general in 1765, and a Knight of the Order of the Thistle in that same year.


The Duke died on 9 November 1770 and is buried at Kilmun Parish Church. He was succeeded in the dukedom and other titles by his elder son John. His younger son Lord William Campbell was the last British Governor of South Carolina.


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In popular culture[edit]

In The Black Adder, the first series of historical sitcom Blackadder, the second episode, Born to Be King, has Alex Norton playing the Fourth Duke of Argyll, but this Duke is not John Campbell since the episode is set in 1487, 206 years before Campbell was born, and the Fourth Duke is called Dougal MacAngus.


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  1. ^ a b c d .mw-parser-output cite.citation{font-style:inherit;word-wrap:break-word}.mw-parser-output .citation q{quotes:”””””””‘””‘”}.mw-parser-output .citation:target{background-color:rgba(0,127,255,0.133)}.mw-parser-output a{background:url(“//”)right 0.1em center/9px no-repeat}body:not(.skin-timeless):not(.skin-minerva) .mw-parser-output .id-lock-free a{background-size:contain}.mw-parser-output a,.mw-parser-output a{background:url(“//”)right 0.1em center/9px no-repeat}body:not(.skin-timeless):not(.skin-minerva) .mw-parser-output .id-lock-limited a,body:not(.skin-timeless):not(.skin-minerva) .mw-parser-output .id-lock-registration a{background-size:contain}.mw-parser-output a{background:url(“//”)right 0.1em center/9px no-repeat}body:not(.skin-timeless):not(.skin-minerva) .mw-parser-output .id-lock-subscription a{background-size:contain}.mw-parser-output .cs1-ws-icon a{background:url(“//”)right 0.1em center/12px no-repeat}body:not(.skin-timeless):not(.skin-minerva) .mw-parser-output .cs1-ws-icon a{background-size:contain}.mw-parser-output .cs1-code{color:inherit;background:inherit;border:none;padding:inherit}.mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{display:none;color:#d33}.mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error{color:#d33}.mw-parser-output .cs1-maint{display:none;color:#2C882D;margin-left:0.3em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-format{font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-left{padding-left:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-right{padding-right:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .citation .mw-selflink{font-weight:inherit} .mw-parser-output .cs1-maint{color:#18911F} .mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error, .mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{color:#f8a397}@media(prefers-color-scheme:dark){ .mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error, .mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{color:#f8a397} .mw-parser-output .cs1-maint{color:#18911F}}Larsen, Ruth M. (26 May 2005). “Campbell [née Bellenden], Mary, of Mamore (bap. 1685, d. 1736), courtier”. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. 1 (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/92351. ISBN 978-0-19-861412-8. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ Athol Murray, ‘Campbell, Lord Frederick (1729–1816)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 accessed 14 Oct 2017
  3. ^ “Biography – CAMPBELL, Lord WILLIAM – Volume IV (1771-1800) – Dictionary of Canadian Biography”. Retrieved 27 July 2023.
  4. ^ “CAMPBELL, John (c.1693-1770), of Mamore, Dunbarton”. History of Parliament Online (1690-1715). Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  5. ^ a b “Elgin Burghs | History of Parliament Online”. Retrieved 27 July 2023.
  6. ^ “CAMPBELL, John (c.1693-1770), of Mamore, Dunbarton, and Coombe Bank, Kent”. History of Parliament Online (1715-1754). Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  7. ^ “CAMPBELL, John (c.1693-1770), of Mamore, Dunbarton, and Coombe Bank, Kent”. History of Parliament Online (1754-1790). Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  8. ^ “Archibald Campbell, 3rd duke of Argyll | Jacobite Rebellion, Scottish Politics, Union of 1707 | Britannica”. Retrieved 27 July 2023.
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by

Member of Parliament for Buteshire
Succeeded by

Preceded by

Member of Parliament for Elgin Burghs
Succeeded by

Preceded by

Member of Parliament for Elgin Burghs
Succeeded by

Preceded by

Member of Parliament for Dunbartonshire
Succeeded by

Military offices
Preceded by

Colonel of John Campbell’s Regiment of Foot
Succeeded by

Preceded by

Colonel of the Royal North British Fusiliers
Succeeded by

Preceded by

Colonel of the 2nd (Royal North British) Regiment of Dragoons
Peerage of Scotland
Preceded by

Duke of Argyll
Succeeded by