DUNDAS, Charles (1751-1832), of Barton Court, Berks.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1754-1790, ed. L. Namier, J. Brooke., 1964
Available from Boydell and Brewer



6 Jan. 1775 - 1780
23 Feb. 1781 - 1784
1784 - Jan. 1786
16 Sept. 1794 - 11 May 1832

Family and Education

b. 5 Aug. 1751, 2nd s. of Thomas Dundas of Fingask; bro. of Thomas Dundas, jun., and nephew of Lawrence Dundas. educ. Edinburgh h.s.; Edinburgh Univ. 1768; Trinity, Camb. 1769-73; M. Temple 1774, called 1777. m. (1) 16 Feb. 1782, Anne (d. 29 Nov. 1812), da. and h. of Ralph Whitley of Aston Hall, Flints., (2) 25 Jan. 1822, his cos. Margaret, da. of Hon. Charles Barclay Maitland, wid. of (a) Charles Ogilvy of Inchmartin, (b) Archibald Erskine of Venlaw. cr. Baron Amesbury 11 May 1832.

Offices Held

Counsellor to Prince of Wales as great steward of Scotland 1785-1820.


Dundas was brought into Parliament by his uncle Sir Lawrence Dundas who, having returned his son Thomas for Richmond in 1774, made over the seat to Charles when Thomas opted to sit for Stirlingshire. Charles, almost wholly dependent upon his uncle, financially and otherwise, invariably voted at his direction; supported Administration until 1779, when at the opening of the new session Sir Lawrence informed him that though ‘he hated Opposition’ he could no longer support Government and would not attend;1 nor did Charles, until in Spring 1780 he went over to the Opposition with his relations, voting against Administration on economical reform, 8 Mar. 1780, and in every subsequent recorded division to the end of the Parliament.

In consequence Lord Advocate Henry Dundas organized in 1780 strong opposition to Sir Lawrence’s Scottish interest. To meet the challenge in Orkney, Charles was transferred from Richmond to replace his brother Thomas (absent on active service). He was defeated but in February 1781 was seated on petition; and on 12 June 1781 spoke briefly in support of Fox’s motion on the necessity for peace with America.2

After his uncle’s death he remained closely attached to his cousin Sir Thomas and the Rockinghams; voted 12 Dec. 1781 for Lowther’s motion against the war, but, from family friendship for Sandwich, voted with Government in the Admiralty debate of 7 Feb. 1782.3

On 16 Feb. 1782 Charles, hitherto an undistinguished barrister with little money of his own, obtained great estates by his marriage to the Whitley heiress. For at least a month thereafter Charles does not appear to have attended Parliament; did not vote on the censure motion against the Admiralty, 20 Feb., nor on Conway’s motion of the 22nd; and was paired in the three recorded divisions of 27 Feb., 8 and 15 Mar. resulting in North’s fall.

On Rockingham’s death he again followed his cousin in attaching himself to Fox, and voted against Shelburne’s peace preliminaries, 18 Feb. 1783. He voted, 7 May 1783, for parliamentary reform, and for Fox’s East India bill, 27 Nov. 1783; and on the change of Administration opposed Pitt.

In 1784 he surrendered Orkney to his brother, and was returned for Richmond. In the new Parliament he again voted for parliamentary reform, 18 Apr. 1785, but otherwise remained opposed to Pitt’s measures. A cipher in politics, he was persuaded by his cousin to vacate his seat in January 1786 in favour of a more effective Member, Sir Grey Cooper.

Dundas resumed his legal practice, acted as business adviser to his brother, was consulted by Sir Thomas during the Regency crisis, and devoted himself to his Berkshire estates and to county affairs.4 He died 30 June 1832.

Ref Volumes: 1754-1790

Author: Edith Lady Haden-Guest


  • 1. Robinson to Jenkinson, 20 Nov. 1779, Add. 38212, ff. 227-32.
  • 2. Debrett, iii. 545-6.
  • 3. I. R. Christie, End of North’s Ministry, 312.
  • 4. M. I. Dundas, Dundas of Fingask, 71-72, 93.