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This was achieved shortly before the election through a series of personal interviews with Scott by Kerr, Bennet and Roxburghe.
The last of these took place six days before the election, when the Duke also summoned several other freeholders to his presence, being resolved ‘to know who his friends are’.4Proceedings at the electoral court were complex: 55 votes were recorded, an increase of 14 from 1702.
Simultaneously, emissaries from Douglas of Cavers (who was himself still in London) conducted a comprehensive tour of the county.
Initially, this canvass kept open the possibility of the sheriff’s own candidacy, but from early February it was clear that his aim was to hold the decisive balance in the election, while declining to stand himself.
William Kerr, Sir William Bennet, Sir William Kerr, and George Baillie* (all of whom were associated with the Squadrone), with additional support coming from Sir Patrick Scott and his leading supporter William Ainslie of Blackhill.
Douglas and Eliott supported the Court, voting in favour of the Union, whereas Bennet and Kerr followed the Squadrone line of conditional support for Union, while retaining an underlying hostility to the Duke of Queensberry’s Court party.
Douglas countered both charges by reference to the preservation of Scottish electoral practice under the treaty of Union.
The litany of complaints from Kerr’s supporters was completed by accusations that the clerk of the election (the sheriff depute and therefore a client of Douglas) had entered the minutes ‘so as they might be most construed in favour of Eliott of Stobs’, whereas hostile protests were delayed and only entered after repeated pressure.
First off the mark was Sir Gilbert Eliott, 3rd Bt., of Stobs, whose interest was substantially bolstered by support from his namesake of Minto.
Stobs had begun his canvass towards the end of 1707, and had written twice to Bennet by January 1708, requesting his support and reminding him of ‘having served you on the like occasion’ in 1702.