DIMSDALE, Nathaniel (1748-1811), of The Priory, Hertford.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1790 - 1802

Family and Education

b. 11 Apr. 1748, 2nd s. of Thomas Dimsdale of The Priory, Hertford by 2nd w. Anne, da. of John Iles. educ. Eton 1763; Edinburgh Univ., MB 1771. unm. cr. Baron of the Russian Empire, 13 Feb. 1769; suc. fa. to Berkhamstead and Hertford estates 1800.

Offices Held

Alderman, Hertford 1789, mayor 1790, 1804.


Dimsdale accompanied his father, the celebrated Quaker physician and inoculator, to Russia in 1768 and like him received a title for his services from the Empress Catherine.1 On his return he qualified in medicine at Edinburgh, writing a dissertation on pain. He returned to Russia to inoculate the imperial princes in 1781. He was a partner in the family bank of Baron Dimsdale, Sons, Barnard and Staples.2 In 1790, on his father’s retirement, he succeeded to his seat in Parliament. There was a contest, but the property and reputation of his family secured him the seat, at least as long as his father lived.

Dimsdale gave an independent support to Pitt’s administration, though he was a silent Member; it was no doubt his Russian experience that led him to vote with opposition on the Oczakov question, 12 Apr. 1791, and his Quaker heritage that inspired his voting in the minorities for peace, 26 Jan., 6 Feb., 27 May 1795, though he was not positively favourable to repeal of the Test Act in Scotland in 1791. He also voted for parliamentary reform on Grey’s motion, 26 May 1797, and for Grey’s censure motion, 25 Mar. 1801. His retirement in 1802 was attributed to his precarious state of health.3

On 12 Aug. 1803 the Russian Emperor awarded him the pension of £500 received by his late father for ‘the services ... rendered by the happy inoculation of his Imperial Majesty and his brother the Grand Duke’ and ‘the good faith and attachment for our interests that he has shown during his parliamentary career’.4 He died ‘on his way to Brighton for the recovery of his health’, 3 July 1811, leaving the bulk of his estate to his sister Ann Dimsdale.5

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Gent. Mag. (1801), ii. 669.
  • 2. Hilton Price, London Bankers , 52.
  • 3. Cussans, Herts. Hertford, 89.
  • 4. Herts. RO, Dismdale mss.
  • 5. Gent. Mag. (1811), ii. 91; PCC 369 Crickitt.