Campbell, Sir Archibald Campbell, first Baron Blythswood 1835-1908, amateur of science, born at Florence on 22 Feb. 1835, was eldest of nine children of Archibald Douglas (1809-1868), 17th laird of Mains, Dumbartonshire, who assumed the name of Campbell in 1838 on succeeding his cousin, Archibald Campbell, as 12th laird of Blythswood. His father claimed descent from Sir Duncan Campbell (created Lord Campbell in 1445), ancestor of the dukes of Argyll [see Campbell, Colin, d. 1493], and from William de Douglas (fl. 1174), ancestor of the earls of Douglas, Hamilton and Morton. His mother was Caroline Agnes, daughter of Mungo Dick of Pitkerrow, co. Fife. After private education for the army, he joined in 1854 the 79th highlanders; next year he was transferred to the Scots guards, and served in the Crimea (where he was severely wounded in the trenches before Sevastopol), retiring from the army in 1868. Thenceforth his interests lay in politics, the auxiliary forces, and in science. A wealthy landowner and a strong conservative, he was active in organising the party in Scotland and sat in the House of Commons for Renfrewshire 1873-4, and for West Renfrewshire 1885-92. On 4 May 1880 he was made a baronet, and on 24 Aug. 1892 was raised to the peerage as Baron Blythswood. He commanded the 4th battalion of the Argyll and Sutherland highlanders from 1874 to 1904, and was aide-de-camp to Queen Victoria and King Edward VII from 1894. At Blythswood House, Renfrewshire, he entertained King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra (when Prince and Princess of Wales) in 1870 and Queen Victoria in 1888.
Lord Blythswood, who enjoyed the intimate friendship of Lord Kelvin and other notable men of science, rendered important services to astronomical and physical science. He maintained at Blythswood House a splendidly equipped laboratory, the resources of which he placed freely at the disposal of scientific friends. He obtained photographic action through various opaque substances before Röntgen announced his results in 1895, and came near, according to Prof. Andrew Gray, F.R.S., to the discovery of the X-rays. Much of his time and labour was devoted to the construction of instruments of precision; foremost amongst these is his great dividing engine for ruling diffraction gratings. After his death Lady Blythswood placed this instrument and other apparatus connected therewith on loan at the National Physical Laboratory at Teddington, to be kept together and known as the Blythswood Collection. At the end of his life Blythswood was among the first to make experiments in the mechanics of aerial propulsion (see Engineering, 25 Dec. 1908). Blythswood, who was made hon. Doctor of Law of Glasgow in April 1907 and was elected F.R.S. on 2 May 1907, died at Blythswood House on 8 July 1908. He married on 7 July 1864 Augusta Clementina Carrington, daughter of Robert John, second baron Carrington, but left no issue. The peerage passed by special remainder to his brother, the Rev. Sholto Douglas Campbell-Douglas. A portrait of Blythswood by Sir Hubert von Herkomer was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1887. A replica is in the Conservative Club, Glasgow.
The Times, 9 July 1908
Glasgow Herald, 9 July 1908 (portrait)
Nat. Phys. Lab. Reports, 1908, 1909.
Contributor: T. E. J. [T. E. James]