Campbell, Archibald, third Duke of Argyll 1682-1761, brother of John, second duke [qv.], and younger son of Archibald, first duke [qv.], by Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Lionel Talmash, was born at Ham House, Petersham, Surrey, in June 1682. He was educated at Eton, and in his seventeenth year entered Glasgow University. His studies were continued at Utrecht, where he devoted himself especially to law, with the view of practising that profession; but after his brother succeeded to the dukedom he renounced his intention. Entering the army, he served under Marlborough, and while still very young he was appointed colonel of 36th regiment of foot (1709-10) and governor of Dumbarton Castle. He soon abandoned the military profession, to devote his chief attention to politics. In 1705 he was constituted lord high treasurer of Scotland, and in the following year one of the commissioners for treating of the union. His services were recognised by his being created, on 19 Oct., earl of Islay; and after the conclusion of the treaty he was chosen one of the sixteen peers of Scotland, and constantly elected in every parliament till his death, with the exception of that which met in 1713. In 1708 he was made an extraordinary lord of session; in 1710 was appointed justice-general of Scotland; and the following year was called to the privy council. On the accession of George I he was appointed lord register of Scotland. When the rebellion broke out in 1715, he was entrusted with the task of raising the Argyllshire highlanders, and throwing himself into Inverary he prevented General Gordon from penetrating into the western highlands. With his troops he afterwards joined his brother, the Duke of Argyll, at Stirling, and took part in the battle of Sheriffmuir, where he was wounded. In 1721 he was appointed lord keeper of the privy seal in Scotland, and having, along with his brother, the Duke of Argyll, agreed to assist the government in carrying through the malt tax in Scotland, he was despatched to Edinburgh armed with full powers by the government, and privately instructed by Walpole to adopt the measures he deemed expedient for suppressing the serious riots caused by the imposition of the tax. It was chiefly owing to him that the combination against it was broken and tranquillity finally restored. From this time he was entrusted by Walpole with the chief management of Scotch affairs, his influence being so great that he received the name of the King of Scotland. In this position he did much to increase its trade and manufactures and improve its internal communication. As chancellor of Marischal College, Aberdeen, he took an active interest in the furtherance of the higher education of the country, and he also especially encouraged the Edinburgh school of medicine, then in its infancy. In 1733 he was appointed keeper of the great seal, which office he enjoyed till his death. After the execution of Porteous by the Edinburgh mob, he was sent by Walpole to adopt measures for bringing the offenders to justice. Throughout the whole of Walpole's administration he gave him consistent and unwavering support. Though he possessed none of the brilliant oratorical gifts of his brother, his practical shrewdness and acute and solid reasoning gave him great parliamentary influence. For many years he assisted to hold in check his brother's intractable perversity, and when his brother broke with the government still retained Walpole's special confidence. Succeeding to the dukedom of Argyll in October 1743, he continued to be much consulted in regard to Scotch affairs, his knowledge of the various parties in church and state being remarkably comprehensive and minute. Of his practical sagacity he gave proof of the very highest kind after the rebellion of 1745, when he recommended, as a means of pacifying the highlands, the formation of the highland regiments, thus affording scope for the warlike propensities of the clans in the loyal service of the crown. He possessed wide and varied accomplishments, and collected one of the most valuable private libraries in Great Britain. In his later years he rebuilt the castle at Inverary. He died suddenly on 15 April 1761. By his wife, the daughter of Mr. Whitfield, paymaster of the forces, he left no issue, and the title descended to his cousin John, son of John Campbell of Mamore, second son of Archibald, ninth earl of Argyll [qv.]. His whole property in England was left to Mrs. Anne Williams or Shireburn, by whom he had a son, William Campbell, auditor of excise in Scotland, and a colonel in the army.
Coxe's Life of Walpole, containing several of his letters
Macpherson's Original Papers
MSS. Add. 19797, 23251, ff. 46, 48, 50, 58, 22627, f. 23, 22628, ff. 47-52
Douglas's Peerage of Scotland, i. 114-5
Biog. Brit. (Kippis), iii. 208-9.
Contributor: T. F. H. [Thomas Finlayson Henderson]