DUGDALE, Dugdale Stratford (?1773-1836), of Merevale Hall, Alcester, Warws. and 23 Lower Brook Street, Mdx.

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



1802 - 1831

Family and Education

b. ?1773, 1st surv. s. of Richard Geast (afterwards Dugdale), barrister, of Blythe Hall, Handsworth, Warws. and Penelope Bate, da. and coh. of Francis Stratford of Merevale. educ. Corpus, Oxf. 20 May 1792, aged 18; L. Inn 1795. m. (1) 27 June 1799, Hon. Charlotte Curzon (d. 30 Dec. 1832), da. of Assheton Curzon†, 1st Visct. Curzon, 1s.; (2) 16 Sept. 1834, Mary Elizabeth, da. of William Egerton† of Tatton Park, Cheshire, wid. of Sir Mark Masterman Sykes†, 3rd bt., of Sledmere, Yorks., s.p. Took name of Dugdale 16 Mar. 1799. suc. fa. 1806. d. 5 Nov. 1836.

Offices Held

Capt. commdt. Atherstone vols. 1798; capt. Warws. yeoman cav. 1803, res. 1833.


A conscientious and independent county Member opposed to Catholic relief, Dugdale had since 1802 represented Warwickshire, where he was regarded as the spokesman for Birmingham’s commercial and manufacturing interests.1 He was proposed jointly and returned unopposed at the general election of 1820 with Sir Charles Mordaunt, his colleague since 1804, and afterwards chaired the county meeting for the adoption of addresses of condolence and congratulation to George IV.2 He rarely spoke in debate and voted sparingly on party issues in the 1820 Parliament. He divided against Catholic relief, 28 Feb. 1821, 30 Apr. 1822, 21 Apr., 10 May, and the attendant Irish franchise bill, 26 Apr. 1825, having criticized both on bringing up hostile petitions from the clergy of the Lichfield archdeaconry, 17 Apr. 1823, and Birmingham, 9 May 1825.3 A radical publication of that year noted that he ‘attended very seldom and appeared to vote with the opposition’, but his only reported vote against the Liverpool ministry was for abolition of one of the joint-postmasterships, 2 May 1822.4 He divided with them on the Queen Caroline case, 6 Feb., the additional malt duty, 3 Apr., and retrenchment, 27 June 1821, and was in their minority against inquiry into the prosecution of the Dublin Orange rioters, 22 Apr. 1823. In February that year, he and the Staffordshire Member Edward Littleton and the Rev. Richard Slaney petitioned the Lords objecting to restrictions which the Marriage Act placed on their ecclesiastical patronage.5

Dugdale’s chief concerns were his select committee work and constituency business. Urging inquiry and prompt parliamentary action, he lobbied ministers, 3 May, and brought up several distress petitions from Warwickshire landowners and farmers, 11, 16 May, and the Birmingham Chamber of Manufactures and Commerce, 12 May, 5 June 1820.6 He had previously discussed the last two, which called for the deregulation of commerce and corn law reform, with Lord Liverpool and, heeding the controversy over similar London petitions, he insisted that Birmingham sought only ‘gradual’ change, 5 June.7 He presented and endorsed their petition calling for all legislation affecting commerce to be clearly defined and welcomed the proposed standing order implementing this, 12 June.8 He held aloof from the local furore surrounding Queen Caroline’s case and the November 1820 by-election, when the Whig Francis Lawley replaced Mordaunt as his colleague. On 8 Feb. 1821 Dugdale brought up Thomas Attwood’s† Birmingham merchants’, manufacturers’ and traders’ distress petition criticizing the government’s inattention to their needs; and endorsing its claim that shortfalls and layoffs in iron production and manufacturing impacted on agriculture by reducing consumption and prices, he warned that the problem was a national one and called on the House to act. He was granted leave to introduce a bill authorizing the summary punishment of juvenile offenders, a major local problem, 5 Mar., but although printed, it did not progress beyond its first reading, 15 Mar. He served on select committees on gaols (1821) and the laws governing prisons (1822), and was instrumental in securing an additional assize judge for Warwickshire in 1825.9 He prompted discussion of the Constitutional Association and criminal law reform on presenting Birmingham’s petition criticizing the severity of the latter, 23 May 1821. On 21 July he set out for the continent, whence he wrote from Secheron, near Geneva, to his friend, the antiquarian and author Joseph Craddock, 10 Sept.:

What [an] extraordinary circumstance, the queen’s death. We could not believe it when we first heard of it in Germany. This place is full of English, many of whom we know. We sat down to dinner with 30 English two days ago at Chamonix.10

He presented and endorsed the Birmingham Chamber of Manufactures and Commerce’s petition for the revival of the committee on foreign trade, 11 Feb., and on presenting their free trade petition, 24 May 1822, expressed his personal support for the government’s current measures.11 He brought up the agriculturists’ distress petitions, 15 Feb., 6 May, including at least three objecting to the admission of bonded corn for grinding and re-export, one from Birmingham’s dry curers for equalization of the English and Irish salt duties, 7 May, and several against the poor removal bill, 30 May 1822.12 He presented Warwickshire petitions against the Insolvent Debtors Act, 14 Feb., and for equalization of the duties on East and West Indian sugars, 22 May 1823.13 He disputed the Coventry Member Peter Moore’s claims that his 1823 combination laws repeal bill was strongly supported in Warwickshire, 27 May, and testified to the local crises caused by ministers’ prevarication over the silk duties, 4 Mar. 1824, 23 Feb. 1826.14 He silently presented petitions for and against corn law revision, 25, 26, 28 Apr. 1825.15 Unopposed at the 1826 election, despite rumblings of dissatisfaction with his conduct, he promised to ‘adhere to a strict line of independence’ in Parliament, praised the Birmingham employers for keeping the working classes in check and expressed sympathy for the distressed manufacturing areas and all affected by the 1825-6 banking crisis.16 Craddock’s death in December 1826 grieved him. The following month, he took delivery of a picture bequeathed to him by Craddock.17

He voted against Catholic relief, 6 Mar. 1827, 12 May 1828, and brought up hostile petitions, 25 Apr. 1828. He presented others for, 28 Nov. 1826, and against corn law revision, 26 Feb. 1827, for equalization of the sugar duties and opening the China trade, 15 May, repeal of the Test Acts, 31 May 1827, 22 Feb. 1828, and the legalisation of anatomical dissection, 24 Mar. 1828.18 He broached but acknowledged that he had no hope of carrying his scheme for the summary punishment of juveniles apprehended for small felonies and misdemeanours, on bringing up the Warwickshire magistrates’ petition testifying to increasing crime, 6 Mar., and was included on the select committee on criminal commitments, 10 Mar. 1828.19 Despite his professed support for the home secretary Peel and the duke of Wellington’s administration, he voted against their proposal to sluice the franchise at East Retford, 21 Mar., having accompanied the delegation to the home office, 22 Feb., to try to secure its seats for Birmingham.20 On 19 Aug. 1828, Wellington rejected his request for a peerage.21 Planta correctly predicted in February 1829 that Dugdale, who confirmed his misgivings on bringing up hostile petitions, 11, 27 Feb., would remain ‘opposed to the principle’ of Catholic emancipation and, as requested at Warwickshire ‘No Popery’ meetings, he presented and endorsed hostile petitions, 2, 9, 12, 18, 20, 24 Mar., and divided resolutely against the measure, 6, 18, 23, 27, 30 Mar.22 He urged government action on behalf of distressed ribbon weavers, 20 Mar., and climbing boys, 31 Mar., and presented Birmingham petitions against the truck bill, 4 May, and the East India Company’s trade monopoly, 7 May 1829, 5 Mar. 1830, and several on local legislation, 27 Mar., 3 Apr. 1829. During the 1829-30 recess he entertained guests and prepared to make major changes at Merevale.23 He did not vote on distress in 1830, but he testified to its prevalence on presenting his constituents’ petitions advocating repeal of the malt and beer duties as remedies, 18, 19, Feb., 2, 5, 26 Mar. He had been instrumental in securing legislation for a Birmingham gun barrel proof-house in 1813, and he warned ministers that restricting arms production to the ordnance factories could destroy the Birmingham gun trade, 25 Mar.24 Being misreported, he explained that he saw scope for private and military production and considered both necessary, 26 Mar. He was named to the select committee on employment fluctuations in the manufacturing districts, 13 May. He divided against Jewish emancipation, 17 May. He voted against abolishing the death penalty for forgery, 7 June, having presented Birmingham’s petition for it, 23 Mar. On the contentious Birmingham-London canal bill, he presented petitions alleging non-compliance with the standing orders and brought up the committee’s report substantiating this, 5 Apr. Moving the ensuing resolutions, 18 May, he said that only £394,700 of the £453,928 subscribed towards the scheme could be accounted for and that fictitious subscribers had been named, but he countered allegations that the solicitor for the bill, Eyre Lee, had prior knowledge of the fraud. He presented the Birmingham Chamber of Manufactures and Commerce’s petition for compensation for losses sustained in the 1807 attack on Copenhagen, 1 July, and voted that day against the sale of beer bill’s provisions for on-consumption. Aware of manoeuvring by the Birmingham Political Union, he returned to Warwickshire before the dissolution and defended his parliamentary conduct at a stormy county meeting, 3 Aug., and at the election, 6 Aug., when he was eventually returned unopposed. He refused to make pledges, but declared against ‘a radical reform in Parliament’ and unnecessary expenditure. Notwithstanding Attwood’s protests, he defended the restoration of the gold standard by the 1819 Act.25 He financed his son William’s election for Lord Grosvenor’s borough of Shaftesbury.26 He paid tribute to Peel at the Birmingham dinner in honour of Wellington, 23 Sept. 1830.27

Dugdale was counted among the Wellington ministry’s ‘friends’ and divided with them on the civil list when they were brought down, 15 Nov. 1830. He brought up another Birmingham petition for compensation for losses sustained at Copenhagen, 22 Nov., testified to the ‘oppressive and injurious’ effects of the assessed taxes in the manufacturing towns, 17 Dec. 1830, and presented petitions and took charge of several transport and local bills, 8 Mar. 1831. He voted for the Grey ministry’s reform bill at its second reading, 22 Mar., when William, by opposing it, forfeited his seat. At the county reform meeting, 4 Apr., Dugdale said that he had been ‘extremely anxious for the success of the measure, because he thought the affairs of the country could not be conducted properly without it’ and, when pressed, he declared that he would vote for the schedule A and B disfranchisements and possibly the £10 householder franchise.28 He declined to give further pledges, was absent from the division on Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment by which the measure was lost, 19 Apr., and retired at the dissolution so precipitated.29 A resolution commending his conduct and past service was adopted unanimously at the nomination meeting, 4 May 1831.30

Dugdale helped to secure William’s return for Bramber in 1831 and Warwickshire North in December 1832. His wife died that month of a ‘creeping palsy which first appeared slightly in February’, and in 1834 he married the widow Lady Sykes (d. 1846).31 He died intestate at his London house in Brook Street after a short illness in November 1836. William succeeded to Merevale and was appointed to administer his personal estate, sworn under £30,000, 31 Dec. 1836, but he left much unadministered.32

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Margaret Escott


  • 1. HP Commons, 1790-1820, ii. 400-1; iii. 629.
  • 2. Warwick Advertiser, 4, 11, 25 Mar.; Coventry Herald, 17 Mar. 1820.
  • 3. The Times, 18 Apr. 1823, 10 May 1825.
  • 4. Session of Parl. 1825, p. 461.
  • 5. LJ, lv. 534, 541.
  • 6. Add. 38284, f. 259; The Times, 12, 17 May, 6 June 1820.
  • 7. Add. 38284, f. 259.
  • 8. The Times, 13 June 1820.
  • 9. Ibid. 6, 16 Mar. 1821; Add. 40374, f. 345.
  • 10. Add. 52286.
  • 11. The Times, 12 Feb., 25 May 1822.
  • 12. Ibid. 16 Feb., 7, 8, 31 May 1822.
  • 13. Ibid. 15 Feb., 23 May 1823.
  • 14. Ibid. 5 Mar. 1824, 24 Feb. 1826.
  • 15. Ibid. 26, 27, 29 Apr. 1825.
  • 16. Coventry Herald, 9 June; Warwick Advertiser, 10, 17 June; The Times, 17 June 1826.
  • 17. Add. 52286, Dugdale to J.B. Nichols, 22 Dec. 1826, 3, 13 Jan. 1827.
  • 18. The Times, 29 Nov. 1826, 27 Feb., 16 May, 1 June 1827.
  • 19. P. Styles, ‘Development of County Administration in late 18th Cent. and early 19th Cent.’, Dugdale Soc. Occasional Pprs. iv. 23.
  • 20. Add.40395, f. 72; Lincs AO, Tennyson d’Eyncourt mss 2Td’E M85/9; Hatherton diary,22 Feb. 1828; R. Ward, City-State and Nation: Birmingham’s Political History, 1830-1940, p. 20.
  • 21. Wellington mss WP1/946/26; 951/6.
  • 22. Coventry Mercury, 1 Mar. 1829.
  • 23. NLW, Ormathwaite mss FG1/5, pp. 9-11.
  • 24. Ward, 19.
  • 25. Warwick Advertiser, 24, 31 July, 7 Aug. 1830.
  • 26. Warws. RO TD 75/34, diaries of William Stratford Dugdale, mem. for 1830.
  • 27. The Times, 25 Sept. 1830.
  • 28. Warwick Advertiser, 9 Apr. 1831
  • 29. Ibid. 30 Apr. 1831; Warws. RO, Philips Mems. ii. 124.
  • 30. Warwick Advertiser, 7, 14 May 1831.
  • 31. Dugdale diaries, mems. for 1831-4.
  • 32. Ibid. Oct.-Dec. 1832; Leamington Times, 12 Nov.; Aris’s Birmingham Gazette, 14 Nov. 1836; PROB 6/212.