DAVIDSON, Duncan (1733-99), of Tulloch, Ross and Myles's, Ongar, Essex.
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Family and Education
b. 1733, 2nd s. of William Davidson of Davidson, Ross by Jean, da. of Kenneth Bayne of Knockbain. educ. ?Aberdeen Univ. 1747. m. (1) bef. 1771, Louisa, da. of Thomas Spencer, 1s.; (2) 16 Sept. 1788, Magdalen, da. of William Gemmell, merchant, of Weymouth Street Mdx., s.p. suc. bro. Henry to Tulloch estate 1781.
Davidson was described in 1788 as a ‘rich’ West India merchant, with possible designs on the Cromarty seat.1 His early life is obscure, but by 1774 he was established as a merchant at 14 Fenchurch Buildings, London. He subsequently went into partnership with his elder brother Henry, who had purchased Tulloch from their maternal grandfather in 1762 and on whose death in 1781 he inherited the property. By 1793 the firm was known as Davidson and Graham and at about this date Davidson appears to have taken as a partner his son Henry, who carried on the business after his death. He was an East India Company stockholder, entitled to four votes for the directorate by 1795.
When Davidson stood for Cromarty in 1790 he was supported by the independent William Pulteney* against the candidate preferred by Henry Dundas. Before the election formalities, in which Davidson was returned by Pulteney’s casting vote as praeses, it was agreed that he would sit ‘unmolested’ for four years and then surrender the seat to the nominee of Dundas’s friends. He evidently gave general support to government and in 1793 applied to Dundas for permission to keep the seat for the duration of the Parliament, with the blessing of Pulteney, who wrote:
I know that you have acted independently in Parliament, and at the same time have given your support to government from your good opinion of the measures proposed, which is exactly what I wished and expected when you was elected.
Dundas was agreeable and, when Davidson asked him to confirm the new arrangement in 1794, he promised that he would ‘most faithfully fulfil the several engagements which I made to you’.2
Davidson, who signed the London merchants’ declaration of loyalty, 2 Dec. 1795, voted—it is not certain which way—on the motion to relieve Scotsmen from the Test Act