DAWKINS, James (1760-1843), of Standlynch, Wilts.
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Family and Education
b. 1760, 1st surv. s. of Henry Dawkins† of Over Norton, Oxon. and Standlynch, and bro. of George Hay Dawkins Pennant and Henry Dawkins. educ. Christ Church, Oxf. 4 May 1779, aged 18. m. (1) 3 Sept. 1785, Hannah, da. of Thomas Phipps of Heywood, Wilts. wid. of Charles Long of Grittleton, Wilts., 2s. 1da.; (2) Maria, da. of Gen. Gordon Forbes, s.p. suc. fa. 1814; to estates of his cos. Thomas, 4th Earl of Portmore [S], taking name of Colyear before Dawkins by royal lic. 24 Dec. 1835.
Capt. Wilts. supp. militia 1796, lt.-col. commdt. 1803, col. 1804, 1813.
Dawkins succeeded his father as Member for Chippenham in 1784 and strengthened his interest in the borough by purchasing burgages. He was defeated in 1806, but was returned on petition and was again seated by the House after the election of 1807 when he obtained the same number of votes as another candidate. Following this contest, which had proved very expensive, Dawkins sold his property at Chippenham to John Maitland and in 1812 was returned on the recommendation of the Treasury at Hastings.
In his first Parliament Dawkins acted with opposition and joined the Whig Club, 3 Apr. 1787. In September 1788 Pitt made inquiries about the possibility of ousting him from his seat.1 He met with the Whigs at Burlington House on 11 May 1790 and voted with them against Pitt’s foreign policy, 12 Apr. 1791, 1 Mar. 1792. He was reckoned a supporter of repeal of the Test Act in Scotland in 1791, and was clearly a Portland Whig,2 though not so listed in December 1792. On 10 and 17 Feb. 1793 he joined the ‘third party’ at William Windham’s house:3 seceding from the Whig Club, he ceased to act with opposition. Heir to ancestral West Indian estates, he voted against the abolition of the slave trade, 15 Mar. 1796.
Dawkins looked to the Duke of Portland for a peerage for his father, but applications of 9 Oct. 1797 and 29 Dec. 1800 met with disappointment.4 He voted for Pitt’s assessed taxes, 4 Jan. 1798, but there is little evidence of further parliamentary activity. On 18 June 1804 Portland summoned him to an interview, to rally him to Pitt’s second ministry.5 He was listed its supporter in September 1804 and July 1805. It was more likely he than his brother Henry who was a die-hard opponent of the abolition of the slave trade, 6 Mar. 1807. Even when Portland came to power in 1807 and noted the family’s wish for a peerage, it was not granted.