DUNDAS, Hon. George Heneage Lawrence (1778-1834), of Upleatham Park, Yorks. and Arlington Street, Mdx.

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

Constituency

Dates

1802 - Feb. 1806
21 Jan. 1812 - 1812

Family and Education

b. 8 Sept. 1778, 5th s. of Sir Thomas Dundas†, 1st bt.,1st Bar. Dundas (d. 1820), and Lady Charlotte Fitzwilliam, da. of William Fitzwilliam†, 1st Earl Fitzwilliam; bro. of Hon. Charles Lawrence Dundas†, Hon. Lawrence Dundas* and Hon. Sir Robert Lawrence Dundas*. unm. d. 6/7 Oct. 1834.

Offices Held

Lt. RN 1797, cdr. 1800, capt. 1801, ret. 1815, r.-adm. 1830.

Ld. of admiralty Nov. 1830-d.; comptroller of navy (unsalaried) Nov. 1831-June 1832.

Biography

Dundas vacated the Orkney seat which he occupied on his father’s interest at the 1820 dissolution, in accordance with the terms of the pact negotiated in 1818 with a coalition of smaller proprietors, and returned to his life as a country gentleman. He was not well enough to attend the election proceedings.1 On his father’s death, 14 June 1820, his eldest brother Lawrence, Whig Member for York, became the 2nd Baron Dundas, while he inherited the right to the Hawsker estate farms, near Whitby, and his father’s West Indian interests.2 The Orkney pact had been renewed for the next two elections, and in 1825 Dundas confirmed his intention of standing.3 A division among the Dundases’ electoral allies, caused partly by conflict over the vexed question of the claim of the Shetland freeholders to the vote (on which Dundas ‘refused to gain a vote by pledging himself’), seemed to threaten him with a serious challenge;4 but his rival backed down at the eleventh hour at the 1826 general election, and he came in unopposed.5

Although he was a staunch Whig, he was an infrequent attender and is not known to have uttered a word in debate. He voted against the grant to the Clarences, 16 Feb., and for Catholic relief, 6 Mar., information on the mutiny at Barrackpoor, 22 Mar., and postponement of the committee of supply, 30 Mar.1827. He divided for repeal of the Test Acts, 26 Feb., and Catholic claims, 12 May 1828. He voted in protest at delays in chancery, 24 Apr., for lowering the duty on corn imports, 29 Apr., against the use of public money for improving Buckingham House, 23 June, to reduce the salary of the lieutenant-general of the ordnance, 4 July, and against the grant for North American fortifications, 7 July 1828. He defaulted on a call of the House, 5 Mar., but was present to vote for Catholic emancipation, 6, 30 Mar.; he presented a hostile petition from Stromness, 24 Mar. 1829. He voted for the enfranchisement of Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, 23 Feb., to transfer East Retford’s seats to Birmingham, 5 Mar., and for Lord John Russell’s parliamentary reform motion, 28 May 1830. He divided in condemnation of the filling of the vacancy of treasurer of the navy, 12 Mar. He may have presented a petition against the Garnkirk railway and Keppoch road bill, 19 Mar.; but his brother was probably the man listed as voting for inquiry into the management of crown lands, 30 Mar. He divided for Jewish emancipation, 5 Apr., 17 May. He voted for abolition of the Irish lord lieutenancy, 11 May, repeal of the Irish coal duties, 13 May, returns of privy councillors’ emoluments, 14 May, and abolition of the death penalty for forgery, 7 June. He voted for the critical motion on the civil government of Canada, 25 May, paired to reduce the grant for South American missions, 7 June, and probably voted to reduce the grant for Nova Scotia, 14 June 1830, when he did vote to reduce that for Prince Edward Island.

Dundas had lamented, 28 Feb. 1828: ‘At length, age overtakes me, the period is come when the fancy must close and the muse must be dumb’. He stepped down at the 1830 dissolution, but his retirement from public life was brief, as Sir James Graham*, first lord of the admiralty in the Grey administration, wrote to Lord Dundas, 20 Nov. 1830, seeking his assistance in ‘overcoming his brother’s reluctance to enter city life’ and become a lord of the admiralty. Graham suggested that his having a seat in the House would be useful, but, while he agreed to accept the position at the admiralty, Dundas refused to replace his brother Sir Robert at Richmond; he also declined to replace Lord Milton at Peterborough, not wishing to sit for an English seat.6 There was talk of his standing for Orkney at the 1831 general election, but he ruled himself out.7

Dundas died suddenly in the first week of October 1834. He had been viewing one of his farms before returning to Upleatham for dinner:

Shortly afterwards he retired to the water-closet, and the family, thinking he remained long, went to ascertain the cause, and found him sitting upon the seat, with his head reclining upon his knees, and in a state of insensibility. He was immediately removed to bed, and lingered on till 12 o’clock, when he expired, having never sp