DUNDAS, Philip (c.1763-1807), of Upper Grosvenor Street, Mdx.

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



24 Jan. 1803 - Apr. 1805

Family and Education

b.c.1763, 4th s. of Robert Dundas, ld. pres. of court of session, of Arniston, Edinburgh by 2nd w. Jean, da. of William Grant*, Lord Prestongrange, of Prestongrange, Haddington; bro. of Robert Dundas* and Wlliam Dundas*. m. (1) 1790,1 Mrs Lindsay of Dublin, s.p.; (2) 5 May 1803, Margaret, da. of Sir John Wedderburn, 6th Bt., of Ballendean, Perth, 2s.

Offices Held

Entered E.I. Co. naval service by 1786; capt. of Melville Castle 1786-92;2 pres. of marine board and supt. Bombay 1792-1801; gov. Prince of Wales Island 1805-d.


Of Lord President Dundas’s four sons, two were destined for the law and two for colonial service. Philip, like the others, benefited from the protection of his father’s half-brother Henry Dundas, who secured his promotion in India from a captain in the Company naval service to ‘master attendant at Bombay, where he had £10,000 a year and accumulated £70,000 or £80,000, with which he returned to England’.3 Soon afterwards Henry Dundas secured him a seat in Parliament for his friend Mark Wood’s borough of Gatton, where he faced an unexpected contest and, as he afterwards complained, some expense, which his uncle had also not led him to expect. He was therefore on the look-out, in April 1804, for a vacancy in one of the Scottish burghs where he might be a presentable candidate.4 Before then rumour had it that he wished to relinquish Parliament, but this was reported by an aspirant to his seat; Dundas did not quit until he was provided for.5

In the House, as far as is known, he was a silent Member. Like his brothers he voted against Addington on the defence questions that brought his ministry down, 16, 23 and 25 Apr. 1804, having been listed ‘Pitt’ in March, as he was after Pitt’s return to power in September, but then, for some reason, his name was deleted—possibly because he was going out. He remained to vote against opposition on Melville’s question, 8 Apr. 1805, and a week later set off for the East Indies, having placed his seat at Pitt’s disposal.6

Dundas had been appointed governor of Prince of Wales Island where Lord Melville had long hoped to establish a naval arsenal.7 He accepted it, so he said, because ‘at his age, ab[ou]t 43 or 44 he was too young to become idle’. The sequel was thus narrated to Farington:

Accordingly he went to that island carrying with him his wife and her sister. The climate disagreed with them. Mrs Dundas was sent down to Bengal attended by Mr Dick, surgeon, and they both died. Philip Dundas disagreed with other members of the council of the island.

On 8 Apr. 1807 he ‘died at sea having left the island with a hope of benefit from sea air’, it being supposed that ‘anxiety and bad air brought on bilious complaints and caused his death’.8 He left his wife (since deceased) £20,000 in three per cents, £1,000 in cash and an annuity of £300. To his young sons he left £12,000 each, and his small land inheritance in Scotland to his brothers.9

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Authors: J. W. Anderson / R. G. Thorne


  • 1. Gent. Mag. (1790), ii. 763.
  • 2. C. Hardy, Reg. E.I. Co. Shipping, 149.
  • 3. Farington, iv. 254.
  • 4. Add. 38368, f. 206; SRO GD51/1/198/21/25.
  • 5. SRO GD51/1/68/1.
  • 6. PRO, Dacres Adams mss 6/41.
  • 7. Add. 37283, f. 264.
  • 8. Farington, iv. 254; Gent. Mag. (1807), ii. 1075.
  • 9. PCC 21 Ely.