DAWKINS, Henry (1728-1814), of Over Norton, Oxon. and Standlynch, Wilts.
Available from Boydell and Brewer
Family and Education
b. 24 May 1728, 2nd surv. s. of Henry Dawkins by Elizabeth, da. of Edward Pennant, c.j. of Jamaica; bro. of James Dawkins, who was cos. of Edward Morant and Richard Pennant. educ. St. Mary Hall, Oxf. 1745. m. 24 Nov. 1759, Lady Juliana Colyear, da. of Charles, 2nd Earl of Portmore [S], 8s. 3da. suc. bro. 1757.
Member of the Jamaica assembly 1752-8, of the council 1758-9.
Dawkins was a wealthy man, the owner of 20,000 acres in Jamaica and of estates in Wiltshire and Oxfordshire. He seems to have lived in Jamaica from c.1751 to 1759, when he left to reside permanently in England.
Southampton was a borough with a strong West Indian connexion, and Dawkins was first returned there on the death of Anthony Langley Swymmer, another West Indian. In Bute’s list he is marked ‘West Indian—son-in-law to Ld. Portmore—Tory’. His voting record in the Parliament of 1761 shows him to have been independent. He appears in Fox’s list of Members favourable to the peace preliminaries; is known to have voted once against the Grenville Administration, 15 Feb. 1764; and though classed by Rockingham, July 1765, as ‘doubtful’, did not vote against the repeal of the Stamp Act. His attitude towards the Chatham Administration is not known: Rockingham and Newcastle both classed him as Tory, and Charles Townshend as ‘doubtful’; and he does not appear in either of the two division lists for this Administration.
In 1766 he had bought the estate of Standlynch, five miles from Salisbury, and at the general election of 1768 contested the borough. Dawkins and Stephen Fox obtained the same number of votes, and when Fox petitioned, Dawkins informed the House that he would not contest the petition. Six months later he was returned unopposed for Chippenham.
In the Parliament of 1768 his attendance seems to have been irregular—he appears in only four out of ten division lists, each time with the Opposition. Yet he belonged to neither of the two Opposition parties, and his name is hardly mentioned in contemporary correspondence. In 1774 he again stood for Salisbury but withdrew the day before the poll, and was out of Parliament until he found a seat on the Beckford interest at Hindon. In 1780 he was returned again for Chippenham, where he began buying property to secure his interest in the borough; and in 1784 was able to hand over his seat to his son.
During the period of the American war his attendance at the House became much more regular—he voted with the Opposition in each of the 11 divisions, March 1780-March 1782, for which lists are available. He did not vote on Shelburne’s peace preliminaries or Fox’s East India bill, yet in both Robinson’s list of March 1783 and Stockdale’s a year later he is classed as a follower of Fox. In over 20 years’ membership of the House there is no record of his having spoken.
He died 19 June 1814.