Lord Elcho, Trade Unionism and Democracy

  • Christopher J. Kauffman


The nonagenarian Lord Elcho (1818–1914) has a singular fascination for the student of Victoriana. A member of the Commons from 1841 until he became the 10th Earl of Wemyss and March in 1883, his political career may be symbolised by the proverbial ship of state — apprenticed on the Peelite schooner he held fast to the power and the beauty of the sail down to the dreadnought of Lloyd George. He was the eldest son of Francis Wemyss-Charteris Douglas and Lady Louisa Bingham, daughter of Balaclava’s controversial general, Lord Lucan. He was known as Francis Charteris until 1853 when upon the death of his grandfather he adopted the family title, ‘Lord Elcho’. The Wemyss estates were located primarily in East Lothian but over four thousand acres in Gloucestershire and five hundred in Worcestershire provided the family with strong English interests as well. Gosford House, the family residence on the edge of Haddington, presided over 56,739 acres which included such valuable minerals as coal and iron. John Bateman listed the Wemyss annual income at roughly £57,000 with only a small percentage produced from minerals.1 Norman Gash reports that Elcho’s political career was ‘planned for him by his seniors’.2


Political Economy Trade Unionism Trade Union Union Leader Political Reform 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    J. Bateman, The Great Landowners of Great Britain and Ireland (1883) p. 470.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    N. Gash, Politics in the Age of Peel (1953) p. 188.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    F. E. Gillespie, Labour and Politics in England ( Durham, North Carolina, 1927 ) p. 177.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    M. Cowling, 1867 - Disraeli, Gladstone and Revolution (Cambridge, 1967) p. 290. In the heat of the franchise debate in the spring of 1866, John Bright dubbed Elcho’s anti-reform group ‘The Cave of Adullam’, a sarcastic allusion to King David who gathered the distressed and discontented of Israel into the Cave of Adullam. C.f. I Samuel 22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 6.
    D. Simon, ‘Master and Servant’, in J. Saville (ed.), Democracy and the Labour Movement (1954) p. 190.Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    R. Harrison, Before the Socialists: Studies in Labour and Politics, 1861–1881 (1965) p. 39.Google Scholar
  7. 12.
    A. Briggs, The Making of Modern England, 1783–1867 (New York, 1965) p. 324.Google Scholar
  8. 23.
    R. Challinor, ‘Alexander MacDonald and the Miners’, Our History Pamphlet 48 (1967–8) p. 7.Google Scholar
  9. 31.
    W. H. Fraser, ‘Trade Unions, Reform and the Election of 1868 in Scotland’, Scottish Historical Review, L (1971) p. 138.Google Scholar
  10. 61.
    For the L.T.C. resolution see J. B. Jeffreys, Labour’s Formative Years, 1849–1874 (1948) pp. 143–4. Elcho referred to the Edinburgh protest demonstration in an undated letter to A. MacDonald, c. December 1866. S.R.O. Wemyss MSS. Uncatalogued.Google Scholar
  11. 63.
    The quotations are from F. W. D. Charteris (i.e. Lord Elcho), Lord Elcho and the Miners of Midlothian (1867) pp. 3–14.Google Scholar
  12. 65.
    H. W. McCready, ‘British Labour and the Royal Commission on Trade Unions, 1867–1869’, University of Toronto Quarterly XXV (1954–5) pp. 390–409.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 66.
    F. Harrison, Autobiographic Memoirs (1911) vol. 1, pp. 322–3.Google Scholar
  14. 85.
    R. P. Arnott, The Miners: A History of the Miners’ Federation of Great Britain, 1889–1910 (1949) p. 44.Google Scholar
  15. 86.
    A. J. Youngson Brown, ‘Trade Union Policy in the Scots Coalfields’, Economic History Review V-VI (1952–4) pp. 35–42.Google Scholar
  16. 87.
    W. H. G. Armytage, A. J. Mundella, 1825–1897. The Liberal Background to the Labour Movement (1951) p. 111.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher J. Kauffman

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations