Hugh Watt (British politician)

Hugh Watt (1848 – 16 March 1921) was a Scottish merchant and Liberal politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1885 to 1892. His career ended in scandal and imprisonment.

Early life

Watt was the only son of John Watt, Sheriff of Ayrshire and his wife Jane Baird. He was educated at Kilmarnock Academy and at the University of Geneva. He was a merchant in London, Liverpool, and Glasgow and chairman of Maxim-Weston Electric Co. and the New Chile Mining Co. He was the author of "Lectures on Practical Electricity."[1]

Political career

At the 1885 general election Watt was elected as the Member of Parliament (MP) for the newly created Camlachie division of Glasgow, and was re-elected in 1886.[2] Watt became party to several legal battles. In June 1888, he was suing a fellow MP, Charles Cameron, who represented Glasgow College. Cameron had claimed in his newspaper North British Daily Mail that an address given by Watt was plagiarism. In July 1892, Watt was forced to pay damages after losing a libel action. Watt's biggest legal entanglement concerned his marriage and acrimonious divorce.

At the general election in July 1892, he stood again for re-election, this time as an Independent Liberal, but came a poor fourth with only 179 votes (2.3% of the total).[2]

Personal life

Watt married Julia Welstead of Home Place, Whatlington, Sussex in 1880.[1][3] She petitioned for divorce in May 1896 on the grounds of Watt's adultery and cruelty. In May 1901, Watt was named as co-respondent in a divorce action brought by Sir Reginald William Proctor-Beauchamp, 5th baronet, against his wife, Lady Violet Charlotte Julia Maria Proctor-Beauchamp, daughter of the 5th Earl of Roden.[4] After Sir Reginald obtained his divorce, Watt's wife also obtained a divorce from Watt. In August 1905 Watt was arrested on a charge of attempting to procure the murder of his first wife.[5][6] He was found guilty on 21 December 1905,[7] and sentenced to five years' penal servitude. He served less than one year of his sentence and was released on 10 December 1906.[8] Watt and Lady Violet Proctor-Beauchamp were married shortly after his release.[9]

In 1912, Sir Reginald Proctor-Beauchamp died, aged 59.[10] In 1914, Watt's first wife remarried in London[11] In 1921, Watt died in Brighton at the age of 73.[12] In 1923, his first wife died in London, aged 67.[13] In 1925, his second wife / his widow died in Brighton, aged 69.[14]


  1. Debretts Guide to the House of Commons 1886
  2. Craig, F. W. S. (1989) [1974]. British parliamentary election results 1885–1918 (2nd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. p. 505. ISBN 0-900178-27-2.
  3. GRO Register of Marriages: JUN 1880 1a 851 MARYLEBONE Hugh Watt = Julia Welstead
  4. GRO Register of Marriages: JUN 1880 1a 804 WESTMINSTER Reginald William Proctor-Beauchamp / Reginald William Proctor Beauchamp = Violet Julia C. M. Jocelyn
  5. Murder Plot charged against Hugh Watt New York Times 19 August 1905
  6. "A sensational case in the Police Courts". Old Print or The Graphic. Retrieved 30 December 2014.
  7. "The Proceedings of the Old Bailey". The Old Bailey. Retrieved 30 December 2014.
  8. Leigh Rayment - notes
  9. GRO Register of Marriages: DEC 1906 1a 1059 ST GEO HAN SQ Hugh Watt = Violet Julia C M Beauchamp or Jocelyn
  10. GRO Register of Deaths: DEC 1912 4b 250 LODDON Reginald W P Beauchamp, aged 59
  11. GRO Register of Marriages: SEP 1914 1a 1037 CHELSEA Morgan G Lloyd = Julia Watt or Welstead
  12. GRO Register of Deaths: MAR 1921 2b 302 BRIGHTON Hugh Watt, aged 73
  13. GRO Register of Deaths: SEP 1923 1d 378 ST GEO HAN SQ Julia Lloyd, aged 67
  14. GRO Register of Deaths: DEC 1925 2b 300 BRIGHTON Violet J. C. M. Watt, aged 69
Parliament of the United Kingdom
New constituency
Member of Parliament for Glasgow Camlachie
Succeeded by
Alexander Cross
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