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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(s): Bedborough, Sheena
Supervisor(s): Macleod, Emma V
Mann, Alastair J
Keywords: Parliament
Members of Parliament
eighteenth century
Issue Date: Apr-2015
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: Abstract 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.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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Binder1.pdfThesis Contents3.8 MBAdobe PDFView/Open
Legislation db.accdbScottish legislative proposals in a Microsoft Access Database680 kBUnknownView/Open
legislation db.sqlScottish legislative proposals in Structured Query Language format 150.71 kBUnknownView/Open
README Legislation database.docxRead Me file for Scottish legislative proposals in Word format13.51 kBUnknownView/Open
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Scottish Members of Parliament.mdbScottish Representative Peers in a Microsoft Access Database2.15 MBUnknownView/Open
Scottish Members of Parliament.sqlScottish Representative Peers in Structured Query Language format394.63 kBUnknownView/Open
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README MPs database.pdfRead Me file for Scottish Representative Peers in PDF format93.35 kBAdobe PDFView/Open

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