Dundas, Thomas (DNB00)


DUNDAS, THOMAS (1750–1794), major-general, of Fingask and Carron Hall, Larbert, Stirlingshire, was eldest son of Thomas Dundas of Fingask, M.P. for Orkney and Shetland, who died in 1786, having had no issue by his first wife, Janet Graham, and having married secondly Lady Janet Maitland, daughter of Charles, sixth earl of Lauderdale. Dundas the younger, whose brother Charles, baron Amesbury, is separately noticed, was born 30 June 1750, and 25 April 1766 was appointed cornet in the king's dragoon guards. On 20 May 1769 he obtained a company in the 63rd foot, and on 20 Jan. 1776 became major, by purchase, in the 65th foot, with which he served in America and the West Indies. Early in 1778 the corporation of Edinburgh offered to raise a regiment of foot for the king's service. The offer was accepted, and a regiment, consisting of a thousand lowlanders, in ten companies, was formed under the name of the 80th (royal Edinburgh volunteers) regiment of foot. The colonelcy was given to Sir William Erskine, who was then serving in America, and Dundas, who had acquired the reputation of a smart and able officer, was appointed lieutenant-colonel, his commission bearing date 17 Dec. 1777. He proceeded in command of the regiment to America in 1779, and served under Clinton and Cornwallis in the campaigns of 1779–81, most of the time at the head of a brigade composed of the 76th and 80th regiments. He was one of the commissioners named by Lord Cornwallis to arrange the capitulation at York Town, Virginia, 17 Oct. 1781. He became a brevet-colonel 20 Nov. 1782. The 80th foot was disbanded in 1783, and Dundas remained some years on half-pay. At the outbreak of the French revolutionary war Dundas was made a major-general, and was appointed to the staff of the expedition sent to the West Indies under Lieutenant-general Sir Charles Grey and Admiral Jervis; he distinguished himself in command of a brigade of light infantry, composed of the light companies of various regiments, at the capture of Martinique, St. Lucia, and Guadaloupe in 1794. He became colonel 68th foot in May 1794. He died of fever while at Guadaloupe, 3 June 1794. When, shortly after, the island was recaptured by the French, a bombastic proclamation, headed ‘Liberté, Égalité, Droit et Fraternité,’ was issued by the French republican deputy, Victor Hugues, setting forth that ‘it is resolved that the body of Thomas Dundas, interred in Guadaloupe, be dug up and given a prey to the birds of the air; and that upon the spot shall be erected, at the expense of the Republic, a monument having on one side this decree, and on the other the following inscription: “This ground, restored to liberty by the valour of the Republicans, was polluted by the body of Thomas Dundas, major-general and governor of Guadaloupe for the bloody King George the Third.”’ A public monument to the memory of Dundas was voted by parliament the year after and placed in St. Paul's Cathedral. Dundas was returned as M.P. for the stewartry of Orkney and Shetland in 1771, in the room of his father, and was re-elected in 1774 and 1784. He married, 9 Jan. 1784, Lady Elizabeth Eleanora Home, daughter of Alexander, ninth earl Home, by whom he left a son, Lieutenant-colonel Thomas Dundas of Carron Hall, and other issue. His widow died on 10 April 1837.

[Burke's Landed Gentry, under ‘Dundas of Fingask.’ For particulars of Dundas's services may be consulted Colonel J. J. Graham's Life of General S. Graham (privately printed, 1862); Ross's Cornwallis Correspondence, vol. i. (London, 3 vols.); Rev. Cooper Willyams's Account of Campaign in West Indies, 1794 (London, 1795); and London Gazettes, 1794.]

H. M. C.