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The Burns Encyclopedia
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Dundas, Henry (1742 — 1811)

Son of Robert Dundas of Arniston, Lord President of the Court of Session, member of Parliament for Midlothian 1774 — 90, Lord Advocate 1775, Treasurer of the Navy 1782, Home Secretary 1791, created Viscount Melville 1802. Burns referred to him in 'The Author's Earnest Cry and Prayer' as 'a chap that's damn'd auldfarran. Dundas his name.'

For nearly 30 years he was the most powerful man in Scotland, and as the government election agent, controlled the election of nearly all the Scottish members of the House of Commons. He was a close and trusted friend and colleague of Pitt. Lord Cockburn, who was related to Dundas by marriage, described him as: 'the Pharos of Scotland. Who steered upon him was safe; who disregarded his light was wrecked. It was to his nod that every man owed what he got, and looked for what he wished.' Henry Mackenzie said that he had 'very little general knowledge... but... a great deal of invention and acuteness' and 'spoke broad Scotch'.

During the brief Whig administration, Dundas was impeached for having allegedly improperly appropriated public money. However, he was acquitted. Scott attended the public dinner in honour of the acquittal held in Edinburgh on 27th June 1806. But one result of the trial was that, as Cockburn put it ' the mainspring of the Scottish pro-consular system' was weakened.

Romney, Reynolds and Raeburn all painted Dundas.

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Robert Burns Store

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Complete Burns Songs

linn recordings of burns Linn Records have completed their landmark recording of all 368 Burns songs, available as individual CDs or a 12 volume presentation box set. We have full details. Click here...


Burns Music & Recordings
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Burns Chess Sets

Burns Chess SetsUnique collectors' pieces based on Burns' life and works. (The ideal gift for your Burns Supper guests!) Click here...

Scotweb Store

ScotwebThe finest Scottish shopping site in the world, with the world's largest choice of kilts and tartans, exclusive jewelry, Highland Dress, Bagpipes and piping supplies, cashmere, and much more. Buying from these sites helps pay for the upkeep of Burns Country! Click here...