DAWKINS, Henry (1788-1864), of Over Norton, Oxon. and 58 Green Street, Grosvenor Square, Mdx.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1820-1832, ed. D.R. Fisher, 2009
Available from Cambridge University Press



7 June 1820 - 1830

Family and Education

b. 28 Nov. 1788, 1st s. of Henry Dawkins† of Over Norton and Augusta, da. of Gen. Sir Henry Clinton† of Portland Place, Mdx. educ. Harrow 1800-4; RMC. m. 15 Sept. 1821, Emma, da. of Thomas Duncombe of Copgrove, Yorks., 4s. (1 d.v.p.) 2da. suc. fa. 1852. d. 13 Nov. 1864.

Offices Held

Ensign 2 Ft. Gds. 1804, lt. and capt. 1808, capt. and lt.-col. 1814, half-pay 1826-47; brevet col. 1837; ret. 1855.


Dawkins’s ancestors were among the first English settlers in Jamaica: his grandfather Henry Dawkins (1728-1814), who owned 20,000 acres there, bought estates in Oxfordshire and Wiltshire and became a Member of Parliament in 1760. His father, who inherited the Oxfordshire property, sat for Boroughbridge and later Aldborough on the interest of his wife’s cousin the 4th duke of Newcastle, who in 1810 obtained for him the post of commissioner of crown lands, which he held for 22 years. Dawkins was an army officer who served in the Peninsula from January 1810, acting as a major of brigade from June of that year. He was severely wounded at the blockade of Bayonne, but he recovered sufficiently to fight at Waterloo. He subsequently remained in France with the army of occupation.1 At the general election of 1820 Newcastle brought him forward for Boroughbridge with George Mundy. There was a double return and that of Newcastle’s opponents was accepted by the sheriff of Yorkshire, but Dawkins and Mundy were seated on petition, 7 June 1820.2 Dawkins thus joined his uncles James Dawkins, George Hay Dawkins Pennant and Sir William Clinton in the House.

He was a fairly regular attender who gave general support to Lord Liverpool’s ministry. He voted in defence of their conduct towards Queen Caroline, 6 Feb. 1821. He divided against Catholic relief, 28 Feb. He voted against repeal of the additional malt duty, 3 Apr., reduction of the grant for the adjutant-general’s office, 11 Apr., and repeal of the agricultural horse tax, 14 June.3 He divided against omitting arrears from the duke of Clarence’s grant, 18 June, and Hume’s economy and retrenchment motion, 27 June 1821. He voted against more extensive tax reductions, 11, 21 Feb., abolition of one of the joint-postmasterships, 13 Mar., and repeal of the salt duties, 28 June 1822. He divided against relieving Catholic peers of their disabilities, 30 Apr., and inquiry into Irish tithes, 19 June. He may have been the Dawkins who voted to go into committee on the Canada bill, 18 July 1822. He divided against Russell’s reform motion, 20 Feb. 1823. He voted against repeal of the tax on small houses, 10 Mar., of all the assessed taxes, 18 Mar., and inquiry into the currency, 12 June. He was in the minorities against the grant for a new London Bridge, 16 June, the Irish tithes composition bill the same day, and the reciprocity of duties bill, 4 July. He divided against repeal of the usury laws, 27 June 1823 (and again, 27 Feb. 1824, 17 Feb. 1825). He voted against reform of Edinburgh’s representation, 26 Feb. 1824. In his first known speech in the House, 11 Mar., he defended flogging in the army, accusing its opponents of making exaggerated claims and stating that ‘in the last 12 months only one man had been flogged in the king’s mews’. He was convinced that flogging, ‘in its restricted present state’, was ‘essential to the discipline of the British army’. Four days later he concurred in the opinion that the certificate or oath of payment made by officers when taking up a new rank had ‘long been a source of grief and shame’ and he favoured a revision of the system, but not that proposed by Hume. He approved of the secretary-at-war Lord Palmerston’s statement regarding the stock purse system retained by the Guards, 17 Mar. He divided against the motion condemning the prosecution of the Methodist missionary John Smith in Demerara, 11 June. He voted for the Irish insurrection bill, 14 June 1824, and the Irish unlawful societies bill, 25 Feb. 1825. He divided against Catholic relief, 1 Mar., 21 Apr., and the Irish franchise bill, 26 Apr. On 18 Apr. he presented petitions from the clergy of Boroughbridge against Catholic relief and the Unitarian marriage bill.4 He voted for the financial provision for the duke of Cumberland, 30 May, 2, 6, 10 June 1825. In January 1826 he travelled to South America where, as Newcastle recorded in April, he and Lord Combermere were ‘twice very nearly taken’ by hostile forces while on reconnaissance; ‘only the swiftness of their horses saved them’.5 Dawkins returned in time for the general election that summer, when he again came in for Boroughbridge.

He divided against Catholic relief, 6 Mar., and the spring guns bill, 23 Mar. 1827. He presented a Boroughbridge petition against repeal of the Test Acts, 19 Feb., and voted accordingly, 26 Feb. 1828. He divided against Catholic relief, 12 May 1828. In February 1829 Planta, the Wellington ministry’s patronage secretary, listed him among those who were ‘opposed to the principle’ of Catholic emancipation, and he duly voted against the government’s measure, 6, 18, 23, 30 Mar., as the diehard Newcastle expected him to. However, his name does not appear on the lists compiled that autumn by the Ultra leader Sir Richard Vyvyan*. He divided for Knatchbull’s amendment to the address on distress, 4 Feb., but voted with ministers against the transfer of East Retford’s seats to Birmingham, 11 Feb., and the enfranchisement of Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, 23 Feb. 1830. He defended the role of the military college, from which he had personally ‘derived great advantages’, 26 Feb., and did not think it could ‘with propriety be done away with’. His last recorded vote was against abolition of the death penalty for forgery, 7 June 1830. He retired at the dissolution that summer, on account of ‘ill health’.6

In 1852 Dawkins inherited his father’s estate at Over Norton. He died there in November 1864 and the property passed to his eldest son, William Gregory Dawkins (1825-1914), an officer in the Guards.

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Martin Casey


  • 1. Gent. Mag. (1864), ii. 809-10.
  • 2. Nottingham Univ. Lib. Newcastle mss NeC 6640.
  • 3. The Times, 19 Apr. 1821.
  • 4. Ibid. 19 Apr. 1825.
  • 5. Add. 36461, f. 412; Newcastle mss Ne2 F2/1/123.
  • 6. Newcastle mss Ne2 F3/1/245.