DAWKINS, Henry (1765-1852), of Over Norton, Oxon.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1806 - Feb. 1808
1812 - July 1814

Family and Education

b. 1765, 3rd surv. s. of Henry Dawkins of Over Norton, and Standlynch Park, Wilts. by Lady Juliana Colyear, da. of Charles Colyear, 2nd Earl of Portmore [S]; bro. of George Hay Dawkins Pennant* and James Dawkins*. educ. L. Inn 1780. m. 21 Feb. 1788, Augusta, da. of Gen. Sir Henry Clinton*, 6s. 4da.

Offices Held

Commr. of woods, forests and land revenues 1810-32.


Dawkins’s father was a wealthy landowner and West India planter, but had a large family to support. Dawkins did not take to the legal profession, and when he eloped in 1788 Lord Herbert commented:

Sir Henry Clinton ... being in bad circumstances, can allow his daughter little or nothing and Dawkins having so very large a family cannot allow his son above £600 a year and neither of their dispositions seems much adapted to rigid economy.1

The problem was met by Dawkins’s taking over his father’s Oxfordshire property.

In 1806 his wife’s cousin the 4th Duke of Newcastle brought Dawkins into Parliament. He made no mark there. On 2 Mar. 1807 he was a defaulter. He supported the Portland administration, his family being Portland’s friends.2 In February 1808 he made way for his brother-in-law. The Duke of Newcastle secured for him from Spencer Perceval the place of commissioner of crown lands in 1810. When in May Perceval suggested an exchange of this place between the duke and Dawkins, because he was unable to meet the duke’s request for a Household place, Newcastle demurred, as Dawkins had already ‘applied himself to those subjects which concern the office’. He added:

Mr Dawkins is a man of an active mind and at the same time that he receives emolument from the situation, he is particularly desirous of being so employed as to entitle him fairly to receive that compensation for his endeavour to be useful, which certainly will be extremely serviceable to him.

His chief, Lord Glenbervie, described him in due course as a ‘worthy honest’ official.3

Dawkins re-entered Parliament for another Newcastle borough in 1812, after an unsuccessful canvass at East Retford on the same interest.4 He was classed as a government supporter. He voted against Catholic relief, 11 and 24 May, and in favour of Christian missions to India, 22 June 1813. The death of his father in June 1814 threatened to deprive him of his home as, under the terms of the will, all property was to be sold to pay the many legacies.5 It was probably his duties as joint trustee of a complicated settlement that caused him to take the Chiltern Hundreds then. He died at Encombe Park, Sandgate, Kent on 25 Oct. 1852.6

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: Winifred Stokes


  • 1. Pembroke Pprs. 378.
  • 2. See DAWKINS, James.
  • 3. Perceval (Holland) mss 23, ff. 87, 88; Glenbervie Diaries, ii. 317.
  • 4. Nottingham Univ. Lib. Newcastle mss NeC 6581-2, 6585, 6595.
  • 5. PCC 402 Bridport.
  • 6. Dover Telegraph, 30 Oct. 1852.