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Clan Dundas

Clan Dundas are a Scottish chiefly family.


The ancestry of the chiefs of Clan Dundas is said to be traced from Helias, son of Utred, son of Gospatrick, Prince of Northumberland. <ref>George Way of Plean and Romilly Squire, Scottish Clan and Family Encyclopedia, 124</ref> The area which is called Dundas is near Edinburgh on the southern banks of the Firth of Forth. Dun deas in Gaelic means 'south fort'. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 124</ref>

However it is during the reign of William the Lion that the first reliable record of the family is found, when Serle de Dundas appears on a deed from this period.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 124</ref> Later in 1296 Serle de Dundas and Robert de Dundas both appear on the Ragman Rolls swearing fealty to Edward I of England. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 124</ref>

Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries

Sir Archibald Dundas was a favourite of James III of Scotland and was sent by him on several important missions into England. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 124</ref> The king intended to give high rank to Dundas but died before he could do so.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 124</ref> The next king, James IV of Scotland did, bestowing lands upon Dundas which included the island of Inchgarvie - with the right to build a castle there.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 124</ref>

Arniston House at Gorebridge is owned by the Dundas family. Dundas Castle near South Queensferry was built by James Dundas of that Ilk in 1424. <ref>http://www.electricscotland.com/webclans/dtog/dundas2.html</ref>


The principal branches of the Clan Dundas were Dundas of Blair Castle, Dundas of Arniston, Dundas of Duddingston and Dundas of Fingask. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 124</ref>

Seventeenth Century and War of the Three Kingdoms

Dundas of that Ilk arms as shown in Alexander Nisbet's System of Heraldry (1722)

The eighteenth Laird was George Dundas who was a Presbyterian and fought in the Wars of the Covenant. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 124</ref>He was a member of the committee for the trial of James Graham, 1st Marquis of Montrose. Dundas was given command of Linlithgowshire and was charged with its defense against Oliver Cromwell. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 124</ref>

The Dundases of Arniston were the senior cadets of the clan and they acquired distinction through high legal and political office.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 124</ref> Sir James Dundas, 1st of Arniston was Governor of Berwick under James VI of Scotland. His son was Sir James Dundas, Lord Arniston (d.1679)who in 1641 was knighted by King Charles I. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 124</ref> He also sat as a member of the Scottish parliament 'representing' Mid-Lothian. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 124</ref>

Dundas was a loyal subject to the king but violently disapproved of the king's interference with the Church of Scotland.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 124</ref> He was particularly opposed to the re-introduction of bishops.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 124</ref> He was one of the first to sign the National Covenant. Upon the Restoration of 1660 Dundas accepted an offer to have a seat on the bench of the supreme court despite not being a professional lawyer. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 124</ref>

He took the post as Lord Arniston in 1662. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 124</ref>However he did not last long due to refusing to sign the declaration of 1663 stating that both the National Covenant and the Solemn League Covenant were unlawful.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 124</ref> His vacancy was then not filled for nearly eighteen months while friends tried to persuade him to relent, but he refused to do so unless the declaration was amended to refer to 'deeds of actual rebellion'. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 124</ref>

His son, Robert, Lord Arniston (1685-1753) was a senior judicial figure and politician. Following the Act of Union he became Solictor General and Lord Advocate but was forced to resign after his opposition to the controversial Malt Tax. <ref>Ian Donnachie and George Hewitt, Birlinn Companion to Scottish History, 91</ref> He later worked to dismantle Heritable Jurisdictions and reform the Sheriff System. <ref>Ian Donnachie and George Hewitt, Birlinn Companion to Scottish History, 91</ref>

Eighteenth Century

Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville, (1742– 1811) was a Scottish advocate and Tory politician. At the height of his career he was one of the most powerful figures in eighteen century Scotland.<ref>Ian Donnachie and George Hewitt, Birlinn Companion to Scottish History, 90</ref> He was the first Secretary of State for War and became, in 1806, the last person to be impeached in the United Kingdom, for misappropriation of public money. Although acquitted, he never held public office again.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 125</ref>

Dundas was a key actor in the encouragement of the Scottish Enlightenment, in the prosecution of the war against France, in opposing the abolition of slavery, and in the expansion of British influence in India, dominating the affairs of the East India Company.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 125</ref>

An accomplished machine politician and scourge of the Radicals, his deft and almost total control of Scottish politics during a long period when no monarch visited the country, led to him being pejoratively nicknamed King Harry the Ninth, the "Grand Manager of Scotland" (a play on the masonic office of Grand Master of Scotland), the "Great Tyrant" and "The Uncrowned King of Scotland". <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 125</ref> Dundas maintained power by manipulating the electoral system and controlling extensive patronage. <ref>Ian Donnachie and George Hewitt, Birlinn Companion to Scottish History, 90</ref>

He is commemorated by one of the most prominent memorials in Edinburgh, the 150-foot high, Category A listed Melville Monument at St Andrew Square, in the heart of the New Town he helped to establish.<ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 125</ref>

Nineteenth Century

General Sir David Dundas (1735–1820) was a British general who fought in the Seven Years' War and French Revolutionary Wars, wrote important texts on the Principles of Military Movements and then served as Commander-in-Chief of the Forces from 1809 to 1811. Thomas Dundas, 1st Baron Dundas FRS ( 1741-1820), known as Sir Thomas Dundas, 2nd Baronet, from 1781 to 1794, was a powerful figure in the Kingdom of Great Britain, now remembered for commissioning the Charlotte Dundas, the world's "first practical steamboat".

Lawrence Dundas, 1st Marquess of Zetland, (1844-1929), known as Lawrence Dundas until 1873 and as the Earl of Zetland from 1873 to 1892, was a British Conservative politician and statesman. He was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland between 1889 and 1892. Admiral Sir Charles Dundas of Dundas was the twenty-eighth chief and was an aide to George V and principle naval transport officer during the First World War. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 125</ref>

The present chief, David Duncan Dundas of Dundas, lives in South Africa. <ref>http://www.electricscotland.com/webclans/dtog/dundas2.html</ref> Other prominent members of the family still live in Scotland. <ref>Plean, Squire, Encyclopedia, 125</ref>