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Index of first names

Archibald Campbell  Campbell (Douglas)

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

Archibald Campbell Campbell [formerly Douglas], first Baron Blythswood of Blysthwood (1835–1908), politician and physicist, was born in Florence on 22 February 1835, the eldest of the nine children of Archibald Douglas (1809–1868), laird of Mains, and his wife, Caroline Agnes, the daughter of Mungo Dick of Pitkerro. Campbell's name at birth was Archibald Campbell Douglas. His father claimed descent from the Scottish noble families of both Campbell and Douglas and in 1838 he changed his name to Campbell on succeeding his cousin, Archibald Campbell, as laird of Blythswood, Renfrewshire; his eldest son thus became Archibald Campbell Campbell.

 

Lord Blythswood arms arms arms Lady Blythswood

 

Campbell was educated privately for an army career. At the age of sixteen he joined the 79th Highlanders, transferring to the Scots Guards in the following year. He fought in the Crimea, where he was badly wounded, and reached the rank of lieutenant-colonel before retiring from the army on the death of his father in 1868. While still in the army he married Augusta Clementina, the daughter of the wealthy Liberal peer Lord Carrington (1796–1868), on 7 July 1864. Campbell assumed his patrimony as laird of Blythswood, in the vicinity of Glasgow, in time to participate in the general election of 1868, in which he stood as the unsuccessful Conservative candidate for Paisley.

An enthusiast for Conservative causes, especially tariff reform, Campbell and his wife, Augusta, were both active in spreading the Conservative faith in Scotland, participating in the foundation of the Conservative Association and the Conservative Club in Glasgow, and in the extension of the Primrose League in Scotland. He first entered parliament after winning Renfrewshire in a by-election in 1873, losing his seat in the general election the following year. He was made a baronet in 1880, having failed to regain his seat in the general election of that year. On the division of the county he succeeded in being elected for West Renfrewshire in 1885 and remained in the Commons until the defeat of the Conservatives in 1892, when he was raised to the peerage in Salisbury's resignation honours list.

Lord Blythswood was a notable amateur scientist. Using his ample private resources he established an extensive private laboratory at his home, Blythswood House, Renfrew. In the conduct of his experiments he had the benefit of the detailed advice and guidance of the professor of natural philosophy at Glasgow, Lord Kelvin, who, as a leading Liberal Unionist in the west of Scotland, was also a political ally. Between 1892 and 1905 Blythswood Laboratory, as it was known, was a location for experiments into many areas at the frontier of physics including cathode rays, X-rays, spectroscopy, and radioactivity. In 1900 Blythswood recruited a young physicist, Herbert Stanley Allen (1873–1954), to take control of his laboratory. After Allen left to take up a teaching position in London in 1905, the laboratory was frequently used for engineering experiments by a Whitworth Scholar, Walter Scoble.

Blythswood's forte was the construction of large machines. The most notable of these was a Wimshurst electrical machine with 128 plates, about ten times the size of the larger models available on the market. In 1896, a few months after Röntgen's discovery of X-rays was announced, Blythswood claimed that with this machine he had managed to produce X-ray photographs without passing the electricity through a partial vacuum, a quite remarkable result. The credibility of his claim was aided by the cautious support of Lord Kelvin. Another important Blythswood machine was a sophisticated dividing engine for ruling diffraction gratings. He worked on the perfection of this for many years; it was later inherited by the National Physical Laboratory. In the last few years of his life Blythswood was much occupied with aerodynamics; ‘his kites were a subject of wonder and awe to the rural population of Renfrewshire’ (The Times) and his laboratory was used to conduct experiments into the efficiency of aerial propellers.

Blythswood's political style was described as ‘bluff and uncompromising’ (The Times). He commanded the Renfrewshire militia from 1874 and was appointed aide-de-camp to Queen Victoria on retiring this command in 1894. The queen had stayed at Blythswood House during her official visit to Glasgow in 1888. His main recreation, other than science, was angling. Elected president of the Philosophical Society of Glasgow for 1898–1901, he rarely attended their meetings but his ‘agency and influence’ (Minutes, 320) gained for them the right to call themselves the Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow.

 

Lord Blythswood (Archibald Campbell Douglas 1835-1908) built the last church to be situated at Inchinnan (All Hallows) before it was demolished for Glasgow Airport.

Blythswood was elected FRS the year before his death. He died of heart failure at Blythswood House on 8 July 1908, and was buried at Inchinnan, near Glasgow, on 11 July. He left no children. He was survived by his wife, and was succeeded to the peerage by his brother, the Revd Sholto Douglas Campbell Douglas. The last Lord Blythswood, the seventh baron, died in 1940 at the age of twenty-one, while serving in the Scots Guards.

 

Notes:
1.  There may be some confusion between this entry and that of Brigadier General Archibald Campbell Douglas

 

 

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Last modified: Saturday, 18 March 2017