DUNDAS, Thomas (1795-1873), of Aske, nr. Richmond, Yorks. and 17 Hertford Street, Mdx.

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



1818 - 1830
1830 - 1832
11 Nov. 1833 - 1834
1835 - 19 Feb. 1839

Family and Education

b. 5 Feb. 1795, 1st s. of Lawrence Dundas*, 2nd Bar. Dundas, and Harriot, da. of Gen. John Hale of Plantation, Tocketts, Yorks.; bro. of Hon. John Charles Dundas*. educ. Harrow 1804-9; Trinity Coll. Camb. 1812. m. 6 Sept. 1823, Sophia Jane, da. of Sir Hedworth Williamson, 6th bt., of Whitburn Hall, co. Dur., s.p. styled Lord Dundas 1838-9; suc. fa. as 2nd earl of Zetland 19 Feb. 1839; KT 1 July 1861; KG 26 Dec. 1872. d. 6 May 1873.

Offices Held

Ld. lt. Yorks. (N. Riding) 1839-d.


With the life of his grandfather in the balance, it was touch and go whether Dundas would once again come in for the family’s nomination borough of Richmond in 1820 or try to fill his father’s shoes by contesting York. In the event, his grandfather’s health rallied and Dundas remained at Richmond.1 He was an assiduous attender who continued to vote with the Whig opposition to Lord Liverpool’s ministry on all major issues, including parliamentary reform, 9 May 1821, 20 Feb., 25 Apr., 24 June 1822, 13, 27 Apr. 1826. He divided for Catholic relief, 1 Mar., 21 Apr., 10 May 1825. He was granted periods of leave on account of his grandfather’s illness and death, 9, 27 June 1820. He attended the annual dinner of the York Whig Club, 3 Dec. 1821.2 No record of parliamentary activity has been found for the 1823 session. In the spring of 1826 he agreed to contest York at the forthcoming general election on the Fitzwilliam-corporation interest, but he later withdrew owing to differences with his prospective colleague Marmaduke Wyvill* regarding the expenses and was returned again for Richmond by his father.3

He divided for Catholic relief, 6 Mar. 1827. He voted for inquiry into Leicester corporation, 15 Mar., information on the mutiny at Barrackpoor, 22 Mar., and the spring guns bill, 23 Mar. He divided against Canning’s coalition ministry for the disfranchisement of Penryn, 28 May 1827. That December he received a request to attend at the opening of the next session from Lushington, the Goderich ministry’s patronage secretary.4 He voted for repeal of the Test Acts, 26 Feb., and Catholic relief, 12 May 1828. In presenting a Richmond petition for repeal of the stamp duty on small sums, 27 Feb., he told the House that the issue was ‘one of great importance, particularly to the trading portion of the community’. He opposed the duke of Wellington’s ministry by dividing for inquiry into delays in chancery, 24 Apr., against the appointment of a registrar to the archbishop of Canterbury, 16 June, to condemn the misapplication of public money for building work at Buckingham House, 23 June, and to inquire into plurality in the Irish church, 24 June. He objected to the clause in the borough polls bill stipulating that separate polling booths be provided for out-voters, 28 Apr., warning that this was likely to produce ‘confusion and difficulty’. He voted against the motion to disqualify certain East Retford electors, 24 June 1828. His name does not appear in any of the divisions on the government’s Catholic emancipation bill in March 1829, but he voted to allow Daniel O’Connell to take his seat without swearing the oath of supremacy, 18 May. He divided for the transfer of East Retford’s seats to Birmingham, 5 May, and Lord Blandford’s reform resolutions, 2 June. He voted against the additional grant for the sculpture of the marble arch, 25 May 1829. He acted with the revived Whig opposition on all major issues during the 1830 session. He divided for Jewish emancipation, 5 Apr., 17 May. He paired, 24 May, and voted, 7 June, for abolition of the death penalty for forgery. He divided for Russell’s reform motion, 28 May. He moved the report stage of the Sunderland harbour bill, 28 Apr., when he presented an Eccleshall petition against the Sheffield waterworks bill. He presented a Horsforth petition against renewal of the East India Company’s charter, 4 May 1830. At the general election that summer he offered for York on the Fitzwilliam-corporation interest as an advocate of ‘an effectual reform of the Commons ... a reduction of taxation ... retrenchment in every department of government ... and the total abolition of slavery’. On the hustings he specifically called for repeal of the house and window taxes and of those on soap and candles, and he promised to ‘tread in his father’s footsteps’. At a celebration dinner following his return in second place he criticized the government by dismissing its recent Beer Act, ‘a measure which to some may do good, but is not of that paramount importance to call forth general approbation’, declared that abolition of the leather tax had been of ‘little or no service to the public’ and argued that only a decisive reduction in taxation would relieve distress.5

The ministry naturally regarded him as one of their ‘foes’, and he voted against them in the crucial division on the civil list, 15 Nov. 1830. When presenting a York anti-slavery petition, 12 Nov., he noted that ‘the petitioners state that they would submit to any sacrifice for the purpose of having it abolished’, and remarked that ‘I wish everyone would do the same’. He presented and ‘cordially’ concurred in a York petition for repeal of the assessed taxes, 10 Feb. 1831. In presenting a corporation petition in favour of parliamentary reform, 16 Mar., he promised to give his ‘earnest and cordial support’ to the Grey ministry’s bill; he divided for the second reading, 22 Mar. While accepting that some of the York freemen objected to their proposed disfranchisement, 30 Mar., he maintained that the bill had ‘on the whole ... received the cordial support of the majority of my constituents, who are willing to sacrifice their own interests for the sake of carrying the measure unimpaired’. He voted against Gascoyne’s wrecking amendment, 19 Apr. 1831. He stood again for York at the ensuing general election, when he declared that ‘effectual reform in the representation of the people was essential to the welfare and security of the state’ and insisted that ‘the objections raised to the measure were feeble’. He was returned unopposed with his Tory colleague.6 He was absent from the division on the second reading of the reintroduced reform bill, 6 July 1831, but voted steadily for its details. In opposing Edmund Peel’s amendment to preserve the rights of freemen, 30 Aug., he explained that ‘when I was last before my constituents I was asked whether I would support the freemen’, but that ‘this request was coupled with the desire that I would not support their rights if it would interfere with the bill’; in his opinion ‘the amendment ... does materially interfere with the bill’. However, he added that he strongly approved of the clause which preserved the rights of existing freemen, and maintained that he would not have supported the bill ‘if that were not included’. He divided for the bill’s passage, 21 Sept., the second reading of the Scottish bill, 23 Sept., and Lord Ebrington’s confidence motion, 10 Oct. He voted to punish only those found guilty of bribery at the Dublin election and against the motion censuring the Irish administration for using undue influence, 23 Aug. He divided for the second reading of the revised reform bill, 17 Dec. 1831, and its details, though he was in the minority against the inclusion of the Chandos clause enfranchising £50 tenants-at-will, 1 Feb. 1832. He voted for the bill’s third reading, 22 Mar., and the motion for an address asking the king to appoint only ministers committed to carrying an undiluted measure, 10 May. He presented York and Richmond petitions urging the Commons to withhold supplies until the reform bill was carried, 24, 25 May. He divided for the second reading of the Irish bill, 25 May, and against the Conservative amendment for increased Scottish county representation, 1 June. He spoke in favour of separate representation for Orkney and Shetland, 27 June. He voted or paired with ministers on the Russian-Dutch loan, 26 Jan., 12, 16, 20 July, and voted with them on relations with Portugal, 9 Feb. He was in the minorities for inquiry into Peterloo, 15 Mar., and against the Irish registry of deeds bill, 9 Apr. 1832.

Dundas offered again for York at the general election of 1832 but came bottom of the poll. He filled a vacancy in the borough’s representation in September 1833, but returned to Richmond in 1835 and remained there until he succeeded to his father’s earldom in February 1839. He was an enthusiastic supporter of the Turf and a prominent freemason, becoming grand master of England in 1843.7 He died in May 1873 and was succeeded by his nephew Lawrence Dundas (1844-1929).

Ref Volumes: 1820-1832

Author: Martin Casey


  • 1. Wentworth Woodhouse mun. F48/16.
  • 2. The Times, 7 Dec. 1821.
  • 3. York Herald, 22 Apr., 10 June 1826.
  • 4. N. Yorks. RO, Zetland mss ZNK/1399/28.
  • 5. York Herald, 3, 10, 31 July, 7 Aug. 1830.
  • 6. Ibid. 30 Apr. 1831.
  • 7. W.W. Bean, Parl. Rep. Six Northern Counties, 1014.