DASHWOOD, Sir Robert, 1st Bt. (1662-1734), of Northbrook, Kirtlington, Oxon.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1689 - 1698
29 Nov. 1699 - 1700

Family and Education

bap. 6 Nov. 1662, 1st s. of George Dashwood, merchant, of Hackney, Mdx. by Margaret, da. of William Perry of Thorpe, Surr. bro. of George Dashwood*.  educ. Eton c.1675–9; Trinity, Oxf. 1679; I. Temple 1679.  m. lic. 9 June 1682, Penelope (d. 1735), da. and coh. of Sir Thomas Chamberlayne, 2nd Bt., of Wickham, Oxon., 5s. (4 d.v.p.) 4da.  suc. fa. 1682; kntd. 4 June 1682; cr. Bt. 16 Sept. 1684.1

Offices Held

Sheriff, Oxon. 1683–4; freeman, Woodstock 1684, Oxford Feb. 1685–Feb. 1688; ?asst. Banbury by 1689.2

Gent. privy chamber 1685–1702; commr. for preventing export of wool 1689–95.3


Dashwood was one of the wealthiest of Oxfordshire’s resident gentlemen. His family were recent arrivals in the county, his father, a London merchant, having been a prosperous revenue farmer. As a young man, Dashwood was probably involved in these business concerns himself. Certainly, at the time of receiving his knighthood he was described as a ‘merchant’, and his life-long habit of meticulous account-keeping must have originated with an early training in commercial matters. On the death of his father and father-in-law in 1682, he inherited considerable landed wealth, much of it from the Chamberlayne estate in the vicinity of Banbury and Oxford, which he continued to augment until old age. Some sources name him as a commissioner of excise but this is to confuse him with his cousin Sir Samuel Dashwood*. Sir Robert was first elected in 1689 for Banbury, where his interest as lord of the manor of Wickham was substantial enough to give him an important though not a preponderant influence, a fact highlighted when he stood again in 1690 and faced at least four other local contenders, whittled down by the election to only one. A Tory and a devoted Churchman, Dashwood was twice marked by Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†) as a probable Court supporter in the opening stages of the new Parliament. By April 1691 he was regarded by Robert Harley* as a supporter of the Country opposition. At the beginning of the 1691–2 session he was forced to defend his return for Banbury before the elections committee though the petition against him was rejected. In parliamentary proceedings he was for the most part a spectator: his appearances in the Journals consisted of little more than periodic grants of leave, the first occurring on 14 May 1690, for a week, the second on 19 Dec. 1693, for a fortnight. Following a call of the House on 7 Jan. 1696, he was ordered into custody ‘for absenting himself from his service in Parliament’ and discharged on the 11th, though was granted leave again, for an unspecified period, on 12 Mar. He was accorded further periods of leave on 16 Dec. 1696, 27 Feb. 1697 (on grounds of ill-health) and 19 Apr. 1698.4

The record of Dashwood’s political stance in 1696 confirms that he had become an unequivocal Tory: he was forecast in January as an opponent of the Court over the proposed council of trade, refused initially to sign the Association and voted on 25 Nov. against Fenwick’s (Sir John†) attainder. In 1698 he was classed as a supporter of the Country party in a comparative analysis of the old and new Houses of Commons, but he was not re-elected. It is not certain whether he simply stepped down at Banbury or was defeated in a contest. The balance of probability is that he initially set up against James Isaacson*, the corporation’s Whig nominee, but afterwards withdrew on finding Isaacson powerfully backed by the corporation. When Isaacson was expelled the House in February 1699 Dashwood appears to have contemplated standing once more, but decided otherwise when it became clear that the new Whig candidate was in a far stronger position. In May, however, he put himself forward as a serious contender for the Oxfordshire seat vacated by Lord Norreys (Montagu Venables-Bertie*). He spent the summer months campaigning vigorously against the Whig Sir Thomas Wheate*. Dr Arthur Charlett, master of University College and Oxford University’s chief electoral manager, wrote that it was widely thought that Dashwood would be a perfect choice, with ‘his vast estate’, yielding £6,000 p.a., together with ‘£40,000 in specie’, and ‘being also a true member of the Church in opposition to popery and fanaticism’. He was indeed elected knight of the shire at the end of November, but his second spell in the House proved short-lived. On 1 Apr. 1700 he served as a teller for the one and only time, in a minor division on a private clause intended for the Irish forfeitures bill. A ‘misunderstanding’ with the leader of the Tory interest in Oxfordshire, Lord Abingdon (the former Lord Norreys) forced him to stand down at the January 1701 election. Though Dashwood himself never returned to the House, his family’s pretensions to a county seat resurfaced in March 1707 when, with his probable blessing, his son Chamberlayne made interest for knight of the shire in preparation for the election due the following year. But as this candidacy threatened to overset the county grandees’ commitment to return Lord Rialton (Hon. Francis Godolphin*), eldest son of Lord Godolphin (Sidney†) and son-in-law of the Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill†), Chamberlayne was quickly prevailed upon to stand for Banbury instead. In the event, however, he did not put up there either. Sir Robert died at his seat at Northbrook, 14 July 1734, to be succeeded by his grandson James, who entered Parliament for Oxfordshire at a by-election in January 1740.5

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Andrew A. Hanham


  • 1. Eton Coll. Reg. ed. Sterry, 96; J. Townsend, Oxon. Dashwoods, 13–14.
  • 2. Woodstock council acts 1679–99 (17 Sept. 1684); Oxford Council Acts (Oxf. Hist. Soc. n.s. ii), 170, 196.
  • 3. Carlisle, Privy Chamber, 198; info. from Prof. R. O. Bucholz; Statutes, vi. 96, 417.
  • 4. Townsend, 10; VCH Oxon. vi. 223; ix. 6, 173, 200; x. 47, 233–4; BL, Verney mss mic. M636/44, John Verney*, (later Visct. Fermanagh) to Sir Ralph Verney, 1st Bt.†, 18 Feb. 1689[–90].
  • 5. Bodl. Carte 130, f. 396; Tanner 21, ff. 69, 80, 92; Ballard 31, f. 60; Add. 70019, f. 312; Hearne Colls. ii. 2; xi. 363.