8th Duke of Argyll
Born 1823 Died 1900
George John Douglas Campbell, the second son of the 7th Duke, was born on the 30th of April 1823, and succeeded his father in April 1847. He had already obtained notice as a writer of pamphlets on the disruption of the Church of Scotland, which he strove to avert, and he rapidly became prominent on the Liberal side in parliamentary politics. He was a frequent and eloquent speaker in the House of Lords, and sat as Lord Privy Seal (1852) and Postmaster-General (1855) in the cabinets of Lord Aberdeen and Lord Palmerston. Mr Gladstone's cabinet of 1868 he was Secretary of State for India, and somewhat infelicitously signalized his term of office by his refusal, against the advice of the Indian government, to promise the amir of Afghanistan support against Russian aggression, a course which threw that ruler into the arms of Russia and was followed by the second Afghan War.
His eminence alike as a great Scottish noble, and as a British statesman, was accentuated in 1871 when his son, the Marquess of Lorne, married Princess Louise, the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria; but in the political world few memorable acts on his part call for record except his resignation of the office of lord privy seal, which he held in Mr Gladstone's administration of 1880, from his inability to assent to the Irish land legislation of 1881. He opposed the Home Rule Bill with equal vigour, though Mr Gladstone subsequently stated that, among all the old colleagues who dissented from his course, the duke was the only one whose personal relations with him remained entirely unchanged. Detached from party, the duke took an independent position, and for many years spoke his mind with great freedom in letters to The Times on public questions, especially such as concerned the rights or interests of landowners.
He was no less active on scientific questions in their relation to religion, which he earnestly strove to reconcile with the progress of discovery. With this aim he published The Reign of Law (1866), Primeval Man (1869), The Unity of Nature (1884), The Unseen Foundations of Society (1893), and other essays. He also wrote on the Eastern question, with especial reference to India, the history and antiquities of Iona, patronage in the Church of Scotland, and many other subjects. The duke (to whose Scottish title was added a dukedom of the United Kingdom in 1892) died on the 24th of April 1900.
He was thrice married: first (1844) to a daughter of the second duke of Sutherland (d. 1878); secondly (1881) to a daughter of Bishop Claughton of St Albans (d. 1894); and thirdly (1895) to Ina Erskine M`Neill. Few men of the duke's era displayed more versatility of intellect, and he was remarkable among the men of his time for his lofty eloquence.
Extracted from the entry for EARLS AND DUKES OF ARGYLL OF in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, the text of which lies within the public domain.