DUNDAS, Sir Robert Lawrence (1780-1844), of Loftus Hall, nr. Redcar, Yorks.
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Family and Educationb. 27 July 1780, 7th s. of Thomas Dundas†, 1st Bar. Dundas, and Lady Charlotte Fitzwilliam, da. of William Fitzwilliam†, 1st Earl Fitzwilliam; bro. of Hon. George Heneage Lawrence Dundas* and Hon. Lawrence Dundas*. educ. Harrow 1790-5. unm. KCB 2 Jan. 1815. d. 23 Nov. 1844.
2nd lt. R.A. 1797; 2nd lt. R.E. 1798, lt. 1800; capt. R. staff corps. 1802, maj. 1804; brevet lt.-col. 1811; half-pay as permanent asst. q.m.g. 1817; col. 1821; maj.-gen. 1830; col. 59 Ft. 1840; lt.-gen. 1841.
Dundas, a thoroughgoing Whig like the rest of his family, had given up his seat at Malton in 1812 in order to pursue a military career. However, in the autumn of 1824 his uncle Lord Fitzwilliam settled on him as a candidate for East Retford, and he was returned there at the general election of 1826 after a contest which was marked by physical violence and extreme anti-Catholic feeling, directed towards him and his colleague William Battie Wrightson.1
He divided for Catholic relief, 6 Mar. 1827, thereby provoking further disturbances in East Retford.2 He voted for inquiry into Leicester corporation, 15 Mar., information on the mutiny at Barrackpoor, 22 Mar., postponement of the committee of supply, 30 Mar., and inquiry into delays in chancery, 5 Apr. His Tory opponent at East Retford, Sir Henry Wright Wilson, had petitioned against his return, and he was unseated after a committee found him guilty of treating, 1 May 1827. He was not out of the House for long, as he was returned on a vacancy in February 1828 for Richmond, the nomination borough of his brother Lord Dundas. He divided for repeal of the Test Acts, 26 Feb., and Catholic relief, 12 May. He was in the small minority who believed a witness was not guilty of lying to the committee on the East Retford disfranchisement bill, 7 Mar. He voted against extending the East Retford franchise to the hundred of Bassetlaw, 21 Mar., and the disqualification of certain electors, 24 June. He opposed the duke of Wellington’s ministry by voting for inquiry into delays in chancery, 20 Apr., a lowering of the duty on corn, 29 Apr., and reduction of the salary of the lieutenant-general of the ordnance, 4 July 1828. He divided for the government’s Catholic emancipation bill, 6, 30 Mar., and to allow Daniel O’Connell to take his seat without swearing the oath of supremacy, 18 May 1829. He voted for the transfer of East Retford’s seats to Birmingham, 5 May, and a new election writ, 2 June 1829. He acted with the revived Whig opposition on all major issues during the 1830 session. He divided for the enfranchisement of Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, 23 Feb., the transfer of East Retford’s seats to Birmingham, 5 Mar., and Russell’s reform motion, 28 May. He voted for Jewish emancipation, 17 May, and abolition of the death penalty for forgery, 24 May, 7 June. Although he divided against the Bathurst and Dundas pensions, 26 Mar., he defended the reputation of Lord Melville and declared himself to be ‘proud of such an ancestor’. He successfully objected to the introduction of Hume’s officer continuation bill, 10 May 1830. He was returned again for Richmond at the general election that summer.
The ministry regarded him as one of their ‘foes’, but he was absent from the crucial division on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830. It seems inconceivable that he delivered the anti-reform speech attributed to him by Parliamentary Debates and the Mirror of Parliament, 21 Mar. 1831. He voted for the second reading of the Grey ministry’s bill the next day, and against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. At the ensuing general election he was returned once more for Richmond. He divided for the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July, and steadily for its details, its passage, 21 Sept., the second reading of the Scottish bill, 23 Sept., and Lord Ebrington’s confidence motion, 10 Oct. 1831. He voted to prosecute only those found guilty of bribery at the Dublin election and against the motion condemning the Irish administration for using undue influence, 23 Aug. He divided for the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, its details, and the third reading, 22 Mar. 1832. He was absent from the division on the motion for an address asking the king to appoint only ministers committed to carrying an undiluted measure, 10 May. He voted for the second reading of the Irish bill, 25 May, and against the Conservative amendment for increased Scottish county representation, 1 June. He divided with ministers on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 12, 16, 20 July, and relations with Portugal, 9 Feb. He voted in committee against the Sunderland wet docks bill, 2 Apr. 1832.
Dundas continued to sit for Richmond until the dissolution in 1834 and came in again on a vacancy in 1839, finally retiring in 1841. He died in November 1844. He left Long Hall, near Guisborough, Yorkshire to his sister Frances Chaloner and Loftus Hall and the residue of his personal estate to his nephew Thomas Dundas*, 2nd earl of Zetland.3