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Title: Unprincipled careerists or enlightened entrepreneurs? : a study of the roles, identities and attitudes of the Scots MPs at Westminster, c.1754 - c.1784
Author: Bedborough, Sheena J.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5347 4496
Awarding Body: University of Stirling
Current Institution: University of Stirling
Date of Award: 2015
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The Scots MPs of the eighteenth century have traditionally been portrayed in a negative light. In a century once noted for electoral corruption and the abuses of patronage, they were seen by contemporaries and later writers as among the worst examples of their kind: greedy, self-seeking, unprincipled ‘tools of administration’ whose votes could be bought with the offer of places and pensions. Lewis Namier’s seminal work exposing the cynical approach to politics of MPs generally, sparked a backlash which has produced a more balanced evaluation of English politics. Strangely, although Namier exonerated the Scots MPs from the worst of the charges against them, his less judgmental verdicts are found only sporadically in more recent writing, while the older viewpoint is still repeated by some historians. There is no modern study of the eighteenth-century Scots MPs, a situation which this research proposes to remedy, by examining the group of MPs who represented Scotland at Westminster between 1754 and 1784. It re-assesses the extent to which the original criticisms are merited, but also widens the scope by examining the contribution made by Scotland’s MPs, to British and Scottish political life in the later part of the eighteenth century. A study of the social make-up and the careers of this particular cohort provides the backdrop for the two main themes: the participation of Scots MPs in the legislative process, and their effectiveness as representatives of Scottish interests at Westminster. Existing biographical information has been supplemented by an examination of Parliamentary Papers, debates, and personal correspondence to enable further analysis of attitudes, in particular with regard to politics and political mores. The research explores issues of motivation, asking questions about allegiance, identity, perceptions of government, and how conflicts of interest were resolved, before presenting a conclusion which aims to offer a revised, broader, but more nuanced, assessment of this much-criticised group, based on more recent approaches to interpretation of the period.
Supervisor: Macleod, Emma V.; Mann, Alastair J. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Parliament ; Scotland ; representation ; government ; Members of Parliament ; eighteenth century ; Legislators ; Representative government and representation--18th century ; Scotland--Politics and government--18th century ; Great Britain--Politics and government--18th century