Henry Dundas (1742-1811)

Henry Dundas (1742-1811)

Politician

Henry Dundas was known as 'uncrowned king of Scotland' and 'Harry the ninth' due to his political power. He was admitted to the Faculty of Advocates in 1763, and became an MP from 1774 for Midlothian and then Edinburgh. During his political career he was Home Secretary 1791-94, Secretary of War, 1794-1801, Treasurer of the Navy and First Lord of the Admiralty. In Scotland he used patronage and other incentives to prominent political figures in order to maintain equilibrium. In 1802 he was created first viscount Melville. He was impeached in 1806 for mismanagement of naval funds and although he was acquitted he did not re-enter politics. He died at 55 George Square in Edinburgh on 7 May 1811 and was buried in the family lair at the Old Kirk of Lasswade. He is commemorated by the Melville Monument in St Andrew's Square, Edinburgh. It was designed by William Burn who sought advice from the lighthouse engineer, Robert Stevenson, for the building of its foundation.

Birth in 1742

Henry Dundas was baptised on 18 April 1742, the son of Lord Arniston and Margaret Gordon. The OPR index gives his parents' names as Robert Dundas and Ann Gordon. The entry in the Old Parish Register (OPR) for Borthwick includes the names of two witnesses. The birth date is in the old style. After the alignment of the calendars in 1752 Henry Dundas celebrated his birthday on 28 April.

Baptism entry for Henry Dundas

Baptism entry for Henry Dundas in the OPR for Borthwick (34 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 674/1

Marriage in 1765

Henry Dundas, advocate, married Elizabeth Rannie, daughter of the late Captain Rennie of Melvil Castle on 16 August 1765.The entry in the Old Parish Register for Lasswade (her parish), dated 8 August, gives the date of the marriage and the spelling of her surname as Rainie.

Marriage entry for Henry Dundas - Lasswade

Marriage entry for Henry Dundas in the OPR for Lasswade (15 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 691/4, page 50

The entry in the Old Parish Register for Borthwick (his parish), dated 12 August 1765, is for the proclamation of their marriage. Her surname is indexed as Rennie.

Marriage entry for Henry Dundas - Borthwick

Proclamation of marriage entry for Henry Dundas in the OPR for Borthwick (25 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 674/2 

Testament of Henry Dundas, lord Melville

National Records of Scotland, CC6/5/31 pp 273-278

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