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The Inheritance
Reform to 1850
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The Royal Burghs

Before Reform, the Royal Burgh Councils were un-elected. Only councillors had the power to decide who should become a member of the council. Councillors appointed ministers and schoolteachers.

The Haddens, who owned land and factories, ran Aberdeen Burgh Council. James Hadden, who had been Provost four times, founded the modern city, and was responsible for building Union Street. The Haddens were Tories (old-fashioned Conservatives), and were against parliamentary and burgh reform. The 'Aberdeen Journal', a Tory newspaper, supported them.


Aberdeen shared a member of parliament with the Royal Burghs of

  • Arbroath
  • Brechin
  • Montrose
  • Inverbervie

Each burgh was allowed one elector, who was chosen by the councillors. At a general election the five electors would meet to decide who should be the new Member of Parliament.

Other North East Royal Burghs were in a constituency that included

  • Banff
  • Cullen
  • Elgin
  • Kintore
  • Inverurie

Forres and Nairn shared a member with Fortrose and Inverness.

The Counties

The Commissioners of Supply ran the Counties.

  • They were not elected, but became Commissioners if the value of their land was above a certain amount
  • The eldest sons of the richest landowners also became Commissioners
  • Commissioners met in the Sheriff Court Houses of the County Towns, (Aberdeen, Banff, Elgin, and Stonehaven), once every three months.

Most county parliamentary electors were those whose property was valued at £400 or more in yearly rent.

  • There were less than 200 electors in Aberdeenshire. The Duke of Gordon would tell a quarter of these who they were to vote for
  • The Earls of Seafield and Fife would fight to decide who would represent Banffshire
  • There were about fifty electors in Kincardineshire. On election day, the newly elected member would treat all the voters to a meal at the Mill Inn, Stonehaven.

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