Patronage and politics in Scotland, 1707-1832 /
Ronald M. Sunter.
Edinburgh : John Donald, 1986.
vii, 254 p.
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Edinburgh : John Donald, 1986.
catalogue key
Bibliography: p. 238-242.
Includes index.
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Appeared in Choice on 1986-12:
Based on extensive archival research, Sunter's book revises the standard view that ministerial managers (e.g., Henry Dundas) completely dominated political life in 18th-century Scotland. It is certainly true that the small number of burgh councillors and county freeholders who made up the Scottish electorate expected MPs to look after their interests, an attitude that of course aided ministerial candidates. Yet in one of the most interesting chapters of the book Sunter describes how Sir Thomas Erskine-although a Whig opponent of Pitt-was able to maintain the interest built up by his father in Stirlingshire and remain MP from the county until 1794, when he was elevated to the peerage. A crucial challenge came in the election of 1790, when opponents of Sir Thomas, supported by Henry Dundas, backed a rival candidate. Sir Thomas won (28 votes to 22) partly because of resentment by the Stirling freeholders against the ministerial faction's attempt to create a large number of nominal voters. Scottish voters might have been venal, but they could resist efforts that, in effect, would destroy their independence. On the basis of the evidence he gives, Sunter's arguments will likely be the starting point for additional work on 18th-century Scottish politics. College and university libraries.-C.L. Hamilton, Simon Fraser University
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Choice, December 1986
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